Title: Paper Crowns
Pairing/s: Slightly pre-Merlin/Arthur
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Morgause, Morgana, Gwaine
Summary: Merlin has the perfect gift for Arthur but then it isn’t so perfect and it’s everyone else’s fault.
Warnings: Another ModernAU, Kid!fic
Word Count: 681
Author's Notes: I seem to be stuck on these little kid versions of Merlin and Arthur (and characters).
Merlin was the last to hand Arthur his present. He didn’t want to be last. Arthur had made him wait until the end after Merlin told him that he wanted to go first. He was a stupid face. If it hadn’t been Arthur’s birthday than Merlin would have cursed him to speak in rhymes or turn him into a toad. He might not know the incantations for those spells yet, but Merlin would find a way.
He clutched the present in his sweaty palms. The clown on the royal blue gift wrap looks disfigured where Merlin’s fingers had clutched the paper too hard.
He had been so sure that he had the perfect gift for Arthur. Now, watching as video games, sports equipment and expensive gadgets were uncovered Merlin felt his stomach drop and his face redden. It wouldn’t have been half as bad if everyone else had just kept their mouths shut before the party.
“I can’t believe that Arthur invited us,” Morgause complained, latched on to Morgana with Mordred their ever present shadow. “He just wanted more presents. He’s so spoiled.”
Merlin privately thought it was because Arthur’s dad had forced Arthur to invite Morgana’s friends. Still, since those three were, as Arthur forced everyone to call them, the Evil Ones, Merlin was more than happy to ignore them and continue his chip throwing competition with Gwaine.
“Still, I made mom spend next to nothing on it,” Morgause said delightfully to Morgana with that excited look she got whenever they were hatching a new evil plot. This one obviously entitled “Give Arthur Really Crummy Presents”.
“Oh,” Gwaine laughed, stopping his silent competition with Merlin to jump into the Evil Ones conversation. “His highness will hate that. You should have just made something; he would probably have a fit.”
Merlin suddenly thought of the hours spent on his gift, the glue gun out, careful not to drip any onto the table or his skin. He would have told Gwaine he was wrong, Arthur wouldn’t mind a homemade gift, but then everyone was laughing and even Arthur, who had obviously been eavesdropping in an attempt to find out what he got, didn’t deny it.
He should have done what Gwaine did, which was put his name on Percival’s gift card at the last minute because he forgot to bring something. Okay, maybe not forget to bring something, but he could have split a present with someone. His mother would have been more than happy to buy something small for Arthur, but Merlin had insisted that he wanted to make something special and he knew his mom couldn’t afford anything really cool that Arthur would like.
Now he wished he had done anything else.
Finally Arthur held out his hand, gesturing for Merlin to pass his present to him. For an insane moment, Merlin wondered if he could simply run out of the room with his gift for Arthur and wondered how far he would make it before Arthur tackled him. Arthur was fast, but Merlin had magic.
With a feeling of impending doom, Merlin gave over the present. It felt similar to the time that the teacher caught the note Merlin had been trying to pass a note to Arthur that had listed the similarities between said teacher and a rather large animal. It was a feeling of complete doom.
Arthur ripped through the paper with glee. Bits of clowns rained down onto the floor leaving the plain cardboard box. Merlin closed his eyes as Arthur opened the box. He knows what Arthur is seeing. The paper crown made with cardboard and covered in tinfoil. The mismatch and off centered jewels and the strings of dried glue, looked pathetically shabby in his mind. He had used too many staples; he had not used enough tape; it wouldn’t even fit his overly large head the stupid cabbage face.
“I love it Merlin,” Arthur said, so enthusiastically that Merlin opened his eyes.
Arthur had apparently not wasted any time before jamming it onto his head, and despite the size of it the crown did fit. It must have been Arthur’s golden hair or the way the tinfoil seemed to make his eyes bluer, the crown seemed much more majestic than Merlin remembered.
Later, during the party while everyone is running around the giant mansion playing hide and seek, Merlin will whisper his fears about the crown to Arthur in the upstairs closet. The two of them always hide together, it is a tradition.
“Don’t be stupid Merlin,” Arthur will say dismissively. “It’s the best gift ever. I’m just happy you finally get that I am King here.”
Merlin will laugh, but figures Arthur is just saying it to make him feel better. Arthur, to prove his point, will wear the crown for days at a time.
And many, many years later when Arthur and Merlin are moving into a new place, Merlin will find that paper crown and Arthur will just smile shyly and say, “I wasn’t lying. It was the best gift.”