Character/s: Arthur, Uther, Merlin
Summary: Arthur gets an unexpected and unwanted visitor one morning.
Word Count: 998
Prompt: 63 Hiding
Author's Notes: Thanks to deinonychus_1 for the beta.
It was a very rare thing, to be woken by his father in the morning. Normally a servant would appear to pass on the king's summons, knocking timidly on the door or simply waylaying Merlin when he brought in breakfast.
The only warning was a bellowed: "Arthur!" then Uther was pounding on the door.
Arthur threw the bedcovers aside, scrambled out of bed, grabbed his nightshirt from the floor and struggled into it as he stumbled across the room. He wouldn't put it past his father to have the guards break the door down. Uther wasn't the most patient of men, a fact borne out when he pushed past Arthur and strode into the bedroom, looking around furiously.
"Good morning, Father."
Uther scowled at him: "Is it? You're late."
Arthur racked his brain trying to remember what on earth he was late for. He wasn't due on the training grounds for hours, hearing petitions wasn't until the afternoon, there weren't any exceptionally important visitors staying and Leon was doing the patrol that morning.
Uther was still looking around the room suspiciously, and didn't answer.
"Where's that manservant of yours?
"I...sent him to fetch breakfast."
"Hmm. And then barred the door?"
"Force of habit?" Arthur attempted. He wasn't entirely convinced that he was late for anything. It was almost as if the king had decided to try and catch him out.
Uther suddenly started laughing, the sound surprising him with its rarity. "Oh don't look so worried, Arthur. I had the same arrangement with my manservant when I was your age." Arthur raised an eyebrow, unable to completely conceal his surprise at that statement until Uther continued: "Yes, he knew not to disturb me if the door was barred. I'm pleased to see that boy has at least got some sense, I was starting to wonder." He looked across at the tapestry that hid a door to a supposedly little-used escape passage. "It's one of the serving girls, isn't it?"
Arthur nodded, not quite trusting himself to speak.
Uther seemed happy enough with the answer: "Morgana hinted as much."
Arthur made a mental note to murder the king's ward at the earliest opportunity.
"Don't use the same one for too long or they'll start getting above themselves and need to be dismissed. And keep your hands off the efficient ones, good servants are hard to find."
"That won't be a problem," Arthur muttered. He saw the fallen pile of bedclothes twitch slightly at that. Fortunately Uther appeared to be convinced that his companion had already made her escape and wasn't watching closely enough to notice. He had moved ominously close to the bed though.
"And make sure there aren't any complications, you don't want bastards running round in a few years threatening the claims of any legitimate heirs."
"Oh, there won't be any problems with that either," Arthur assured him, then realised that perhaps he had said it a little too confidently when Uther frowned at him. Arthur added: "I'm very careful. No sullying of the Pendragon line."
"Good. Now," he looked down at the pile of bedding, glanced back at Arthur triumphantly and then grabbed the fallen covers from the floor and flung them back onto the bed.
It was difficult to tell which of the two Pendragons was the most surprised when this action failed to reveal a naked, cowering servant. Arthur recovered faster. He'd had plenty of surprises from that particular servant over the past few months.
"Thank you, Father, but Merlin can clear that up when he brings my breakfast. What was it you needed me for?"
Uther was itching to look under the bed, Arthur could tell. Fortunately it wouldn't do for the king to get down on his hands and knees, and the bed was far too solid to be tossed aside like the bedding.
"See that you aren't late this afternoon, there are a tedious number of peasants waiting already, it's going to be a long session and I don't want to delay it waiting for you."
Nothing, then. Morgana was definitely going to pay for this.
With a final glance at the bed, Uther smirked to himself and made his way out, the door closing behind him.
Arthur flung himself back down on his bed, noting a faint squeak of protest from beneath it when he did so. It reminded him of other sounds the voice's owner could make, so he bounced around a little more, hearing the scrabbling under the bed as his lover struggled to avoid being squashed by the mattress.
A dishevelled shock of black hair appeared and two very blue eyes peered at him accusingly from the edge of the bed.
"That won't be a problem?!" Merlin echoed at him. "You didn't seem very unhappy with my service last night. Or this morning, before the king decided to disturb us." He climbed back into bed and pulled the covers around him.
"What are you doing?"
It was fairly obvious what he was doing, and the confused look Merlin gave him indicated as much.
"Go and get my breakfast, Merlin."
Merlin sat up, grumbling to himself but pulling the bundle of clothes out from under the mattress where he must have hurriedly stuffed them and dressing. His stomach rumbled loudly, and Arthur couldn't help softening his tone just a little, pulling him close to whisper into his ear: "Go the back way and get us both breakfast then. Make a show of arriving with it. You can't stay here, father will come back in at any moment and whoever he finds me with is going to get conveniently dismissed within the next few weeks in case they get airs above their station. He's the king, he doesn't need an excuse."
"And when you're king?"
Across the room Arthur could hear the door locking itself. He pressed a kiss into the soft skin of Merlin's throat: "Then you won't need to hide. Anything."