Title: Shut Up
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur really, really should know better than to bet against Gwaine. But a bet's a bet.
Warnings: Cross-dressing, but not as a kink
Word Count: 1000
Prompt: 75 Foolish
Author's Notes: Not beta-ed because I barely finished in time and my beta was pulling faces at the very mention of cross-dressing and looking very reluctant and sorry for herself.
Arthur was never going to the tavern again. He was never going to drink again. He was certainly never going to go to the tavern and drink with Gwaine again. Ever.
"I feel ridiculous."
"You should know better than to bet against Gwaine." Merlin pulled the laces tighter, unsympathetically.
Arthur winced. "I'm the crown prince. I shouldn't have to do this."
"But then everyone would know their future king doesn't honour his bets."
"Shut up, Merlin."
Merlin did shut up. Very briefly. Then he started up again. "At least it's your colour."
It was red. Red was Arthur's colour. But it was a red dress. "What part of shut up didn't you understand?"
Merlin tugged at the fabric, trying to straighten it around Arthur's chest. "Shall I call Gwen and ask her to take it in a bit? It doesn't quite fit right in the bodice."
Arthur stared down at himself. The thing was horrendous. Draughty, too.
"If my father sees this..."
Merlin grinned at him, and Arthur got a sinking feeling.
"The king's heard about it. He's waiting out on the training ground with the knights. I'm to tell you he'll be deeply ashamed if you fail to follow through with it."
"What?! I'll kill Gwaine for telling him!"
Merlin tutted. "Nothing to do with Gwaine. It was Morgana who mentioned it to him. She's also the one who kindly donated the... uh... garment."
"I'll kill her instead!" Arthur snarled.
"Pendragons always honour their bets, that was what he said," Merlin continued. "And then he laughed. Your father's quite scary when he laughs. Actually, he's quite scary most of the time."
"Be careful. That's the king you're talking about."
"And he's scary."
Merlin had a point, so Arthur didn't bother arguing it further. "Are you done yet?"
Merlin stood back and examined his handiwork. "Hmm... this isn't really my area of expertise..."
"Just what is your area of expertise, Mer-lin? Sleeping on the job? Drinking in the tavern when you're supposed to be working? Listening to castle gossip?"
"It's not dressing my prince in pretty dresses, that's for sure," Merlin beamed at him. "It's not losing to Gwaine at the dice either."
"You never lose to him."
"I'm never foolish enough to bet against him!"
Arthur narrowed his eyes. "Are you calling me foolish, Mer-lin?"
Merlin just looked at him. Well, mostly he just looked at the dress. And then he looked Arthur in the eye, and Arthur just knew that Merlin was about to make a comment Arthur wouldn't like. He recalled the comment about pretty...
Merlin looked affronted. "I didn't say anything!"
"Don't you dare tell me I look pretty!"
"You're not helping."
"Did you want to look pretty? Shall I get Gwen to come and do your hair?"
"If you want to spend a week in the stocks. Get my cloak so I can cover this thing up."
"The idea was for people to be able to see it."
"On the practice field. Not in the castle corridors. Cloak. Now!"
Merlin grumbled, but fetched the cloak and placed it over Arthur's shoulders. It did do a fairly good job of hiding the hideous dress, but Arthur pulled it around himself for good measure.
"Come on then, let's get it over with," he sighed, and stomped towards the door, almost tripping over the hem of the garment as he did so.
Merlin hurried forward to get the door, and Arthur glowered at him.
"I can manage. I'm not a girl!"
"I know that," Merlin told him more gently. "Better than anyone."
The reminder served to calm Arthur down just a little. "I hate this," he admitted.
Merlin sighed, then presumably decided to take pity on him. "You know, there was nothing in the bet to say you can't just go out and announce practice is cancelled for the day then come back inside."
That was a great idea, and Arthur immediately felt brighter. "You know, you're not as stupid as you look."
"As long as I'm not as stupid as you look..."
"Shut up, Merlin..."
Three hours later and Arthur was back in his rooms. His father had refused to let him cancel practice, and had sat there with Morgana the entire time, both of them mocking him. Also, it seemed that half the castle had needed to pass by the normally fairly deserted field.
He flung the cloak on the floor, and then started to struggle with the dress. Merlin hurried over to help.
"Careful! You'll rip it!"
Arthur stopped for a moment, glared at him, then attacked the offending garment with even more vigour. He didn't stop until it was in several pieces on the floor in front of him. He was clad only in his undergarments, but was too angry to feel the cold and stabbed the dress again for good measure.
Merlin regarded it worriedly. "Morgana's not going to be pleased."
"Good! In fact, let me go and shred a few more of her dresses! Did you see her out there, laughing? And Gwaine... Gwaine is going to pay!"
Merlin held up the shredded dress. Arthur had made several slashes to it during his humiliating practice as well. "Shall I try to get Gwen to mend it?"
"Whatever you like. Just tell me you're never going to ask me to wear it."
"Gods no!" Merlin wrinkled his nose at the very idea. "Why would you think I'd want that? Nothing in a dress interests me. Not even you. In fact, I have never seen you look less attractive. Ever."
Arthur froze, not sure he wanted to hear what was coming next.
"If you really want to dress up for me..." He looked across at Arthur's armour, freshly and lovingly polished that morning but so far remaining unused.
Arthur smiled for the first time since he'd lost the bet.
"Shut up, Merlin," he murmured fondly, and kissed him to make sure that he did.