Title: The Rose
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: It was always there on the first day of the month. A single red rose, lying on his pillow.
Word Count: 344
Prompt: 96 - Secret Admirer
Author's Notes: 344 words! Which would be really good, except I actually tried to do the gifting part of the prompt this week for a friend who's having a rotten time, and aimed for about 500 words... and ended up with 2360. Soooooooo.... as I'm trying to be good with the word limit I wrote this very quickly instead and will just put the other one up on my wall when I've tidied it up. This is just a little fluffy piece of fluff.
It was always there on the first day of the month. A single red rose, lying on his pillow.
Arthur had thought it was Merlin at first, but then it had appeared on a day when he'd made sure that Merlin hadn't left his side for even a moment. At the end of that day Merlin had staggered into Arthur's chambers behind him, struggling under the weight of Arthur's discarded armour. The rose was lying there, crisp and fresh on Arthur's pillow, and Arthur had to reluctantly admit that it couldn't possibly be Merlin after all. Not unless he was a sorcerer, which given the way he'd promptly tripped over his own feet and sent all the armour crashing to the floor seemed highly unlikely.
So, disappointedly, he had to admit it wasn't Merlin.
One of the chambermaids was likely to be placing it there, though there was no way a chambermaid could afford such an expensive bloom on their low wages so they had to be doing it on someone else's behalf. There were plenty of suspects over the months, but gradually he eliminated them all.
He thought it might stop once he was king, but still it arrived, every month without fail.
On a long day spent trying to hammer out peace between too many reluctant neighbours, he walked back to his chambers alone. It was late, and he hadn't really succeeded in creating the peace he wanted.
And that was when he realised that he didn't really care who the rose came from. It was just there, lying on his pillow, with the simple implication that someone, somewhere in the world admired him. It was what he needed after what seemed like years of people arguing with him. And there was Merlin in the same old rags he always wore no matter how many times Arthur raised his wages, kneeling in the hearth, stoking the fire so that Arthur would be warm, turning and smiling that same sweet smile of welcome that was only ever for Arthur.
And he felt loved.