Title: A Game For Two
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Nimueh
Summary: Uther wants all magic gone. Nimueh wants to take over the world. All Merlin wants is a date.
Word Count: 959
Prompt: #74 Warm
Author's Notes: This is a direct continuation to my last week's entry. Beta'd once again by keire_ke.
Arthur's presence was doing things to him.
It wasn't his fault. It really, really wasn't. Whenever he was around Arthur his magic acted up making his insides feel all warm and, and—tingly.
Like now. He drowned Arthur's beer (not feeling particularly guilty about it, mostly because thirst was burning up his throat) and when he handed the glass back his fingers brushed Arthur's. An electric shock run up his palm, leaving pleasant warmth in its wake.
He felt the heat burn his face and promptly excused himself to hit the showers. On the way he nearly bumped into Gilli who gave him a dark look and said not a word. Merlin tried not to let it get to him.
This was—foolish. He was being foolish. He rubbed his skin, every place where Arthur touched him, and stared at his reflection in the mirror. What he saw – a blotchy red face, wet hair plastered to his head in a way that emphasized the ridiculous line of his ears, a five-o’clock shadow, because even though he was approaching twenty Merlin couldn't shave himself properly, not to mention the loose, ill-fitting clothes – wasn't a very attractive image.
No wonder Arthur didn't want him. Because really, he had so many people to choose from, why would he settle on Merlin?
Finding a working shower was tricky. Plus, the Rising Sun hadn't had hot running water in ages and Merlin was too tired to heat it up with magic. He had tried way too hard to make his victory look flashy and effortless for—reasons.
Really stupid reasons.
The cool spray felt incredibly pleasant on his warm skin. Perhaps it would even help him stop blushing like a maiden whenever Arthur was around.
He walked barefoot across the slippery floor, shivering slightly. Suddenly he caught sight of a movement in one of the mirrors – another person had entered the changing room. For a heartbeat he focused completely on startling blue eyes, but—no, it wasn't Arthur.
"Nimueh," he muttered.
"Merlin," she said, in a high, clear voice.
Her eyes narrowed and the corners of her mouth upturned into a mocking smile.
"Don't flatter yourself, boy," she said.
He let the insult slide, wondering instead why he hadn't noticed her in the audience.
"You brought a Pendragon here?"
"I invited him. He's my friend."
"You know what his father is," said Nimueh sharply. Her usual calm smile was gone, her perfect forehead marred with wrinkles.
Merlin did know. Uther Pendragon, businessman and politician with a strong penchant for publishing statements about the dangers of magic. Publicly demanding that magic users be "dealt with". Whatever that was supposed to mean.
"Arthur's not like that," he said.
"Your faith in your boyfriend is charming."
"He's not my boyfriend."
He very, very much wasn't, despite Merlin's clumsy efforts. But really, if Arthur didn't stop being so charmingly obtuse Merlin would have to do something drastic. Like maybe push him against the nearest wall and snog him silly.
For now he resorted to locating a towel and a pair of trousers.
"Your performance was impressive," said Nimueh. Casually. Like that wasn't the reason she was here in the first place.
"We believe you have potential. We could help you realize it."
In his naivety he brought a pair of dark tight-fitted jeans, all because Morgana once said they looked nice on his butt. Now as he pulled them on and examined himself in the mirror he looked—
—still very much like himself, unfortunately.
"I'm not joining your little crusade," he said. "Yours, or anyone else's. I'm not interested in—what, exactly? World domination?"
"World peace, actually."
That right there was exactly the reason why he never meant to fight here. Alas, the temptation to show Arthur his magical abilities was too strong.
And very, very stupid.
What if Arthur would be scared of him? Or, worse, started hating him?
The magic thing was a touchy subject, even more than the gay thing (and Merlin still wasn't one-hundred-percent sure whether Arthur even liked men). The fear that he had ruined whatever chances he had with Arthur settled cold and dark in his stomach.
"Are you even listening to me?" said Nimueh irritably.
"Mhmm," said Merlin.
Nothing there except keep trying.
He pulled on a long-sleeved blue shirt and tried to sort out his hair in front of the mirror. A futile task, and it cost him way too much time.
What if Arthur was already gone? They hadn't exactly made any plans, and Merlin had just disappeared…
"Sorry, I have to go now," he mumbled. The High Priestess levelled him with a stare that he would probably find very, very worrying, if he hadn't spotted Arthur the moment he pushed open the door. He was still there, hanging at the edge of the crowd. Very much out of place. Looking slightly lost and vulnerable, so unlike his usual easy self-confidence.
Merlin's heart melted a little.
"Hi," he said.
"Hi," said Arthur, smiling at him.
His magic took the opportunity to dance under his skin. He thought it weakened by the fight, but no – the rush of power crashed through his veins, bringing the pleasant warmth that no doubt showed on his face.
He had never been more thankful for the dimmed lights. Maybe Arthur wouldn't notice him blushing.
"So, uh. I was thinking." Arthur said, and paused. Merlin waited. "Maybe."
"Maybe we could go somewhere."
Well it wasn't the perfect romantic proposal Merlin envisioned while drifting off to sleep. But he could handle awkward. Awkward was nice if it came in the shape of Arthur Pendragon.
"Okay," he said, fighting a smile. "I owe you a beer anyway."