Title: The King's Charm
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Time after time Arthur had thought his manservant was surely doomed, but then he'd reappear against all the odds, tripping over his own feet and grinning at Arthur sheepishly. Just lucky, Arthur supposed. What else could it be?
Word Count: 744
Prompt: 101 - Lucky
Author's Notes: This also fills my trope_bingo square 'Against all odds' - that's 9/25 done. Thanks to deinonychus_1 for the beta.
The King's Charm
There was something about Merlin, and Arthur couldn't quite put his finger on what it was.
It wasn't his uncanny ability to cheat death, because Arthur himself seemed to possess that particular lucky streak as well. There were so many occasions when Arthur had thought he had reached his final moment only for some unlikely event to save him. Merlin seemed to have the same impossible luck, perhaps even moreso because he was so hopelessly inept at almost everything he turned his hand to. Time after time Arthur had thought his manservant was surely doomed, but then he'd reappear against all the odds, tripping over his own feet and grinning at Arthur sheepishly. Just lucky, Arthur supposed. What else could it be?
Merlin was in fact ridiculously lucky. Arthur was sure that he could clear out the entire royal treasury with his uncanny luck at dice if Arthur gave him half a chance. Try as he might, Arthur couldn't see how he was doing it either. Arthur would let him win just so much and then stop the game because he could do that, being king. It wasn't because he liked walking back with Merlin afterwards and seeing the delighted grin on his face as he clutched the coins close to his chest. And it didn't matter anyway because it wasn't as if Merlin kept it for himself. The soft-hearted fool sent it all back to his mother in Ealdor.
Merlin was lucky to have a mother. Arthur let him sit at the desk in his own chambers and write letters home to her sometimes. It wasn't because Arthur liked to watch the look of concentration on his servant's face, or the way his face lit up when he was obviously relating an entertaining anecdote about life at Camelot. It was because Arthur had met Hunith and liked her. And because it meant Merlin was right there if Arthur needed anything, which he usually found that he did just before Merlin finished his letter. If Arthur happened to wander over to the desk whilst Merlin was out of the room then that was perfectly all right because it was his desk after all, and anyway Ealdor was in Cenred's kingdom and Arthur needed to check that there was no security breach. He only did that once or twice, though, because the king Merlin wrote about so adoringly in his letters sounded far too brave and noble and wise and charming to be Arthur. It had to be someone else. Someone who wouldn't read his servant's private letters.
It was remarkable that Merlin, and indeed Hunith could read. Few servants and fewer peasants could do so, and fewer still were so accomplished at it. Arthur had asked him about it once or twice, but whilst Hunith taught Merlin, there was never any explanation of who taught Hunith. Merlin would just look at him blankly, with that endearingly vague expression disguising the intellect Arthur knew was there. Merlin hid it very well, but Arthur wasn't fooled.
Arthur told Merlin how lucky he was. Merlin had given him an incredulous look and pointed out that no servant stuck with a clotpole like Arthur for a master was ever going to think of themselves as particularly fortunate. Merlin was cheeky like that. Arthur let it pass which was, after all, further proof of Merlin's good luck.
Arthur let many things pass where Merlin was concerned. All the times he vanished without good reason, all the times he was late, or clumsy, or was busy running some private little errand of his own. Or the time Arthur found him asleep, sprawled across Arthur's bed, snoring gently.
Arthur could have moved him. He probably shouldn't have curled up beside him, and certainly shouldn't have lain there watching his servant sleep. Merlin didn't realise how lucky he was, to be so cared for by his king. Or perhaps he did, much later, when he woke and Arthur pulled him close. Arthur delighted in the sleepy confusion on his servant's face and his willing compliance a few moments later. Delighting in so many things.
"You're lucky to have the love of a king," Arthur told him many months later.
Merlin seemed to agree. "And you," he replied, "are lucky to have me."
That was true. There was definitely something about Merlin. Arthur knew what it was by then.
And one day, Arthur was sure, Merlin would trust him enough to tell him.