Title: Thank you, spinach!
Summary: Arthur tries to impress Merlin by cooking for him
Word Count: 626
Author's Notes: Thanks issy5209 for the beta!
Arthur had been in the kitchen all afternoon. In fact, he’d been preparing this meal for more than a week now. First, he’d had to find a recipe that sounded do-able, then he had to do some research on where to get all the ingredients (and additional kitchen utensils, since his kitchen didn’t hold more than the basics), made a detailed schedule of what to do when and argued with Percy over it again and again.
His kitchen was a mess, there was a plaster on his finger from where he had cut himself rather than the carrots and somewhere on his arm was a little blister where it had a run-in with a hot pan but Arthur proudly set the plate down in front of Merlin on the table he had set a few days ago with the help of some tutorials on youtube.
Merlin smiled softly. “Thank you, Arthur. I never thought you’d cook for me.”
Arthur pulled the apron off and poured Merlin some wine. “You know I’ve never done it before, but I really wanted to.”
He held his breath as Merlin took the first bite but Arthur’s face fell when Merlin’s did and he stopped chewing, desperately trying to not make a face.
“What? What is it?”
Merlin swallowed the bite with difficulty and reached for his wine glass to wash the taste down. “Try for yourself.”
Carefully, Arthur tried a little piece of the veggie lasagna only to spit it in his napkin. “That’s…that’s horrible!”
“A little on the bitter side, maybe.”
‘A little’ was the understatement of the year.
“But…what did I do wrong?” Arthur stared at the dish in disbelieve. He’d followed the recipe and when he ran into trouble, called Percy to guide him through. It shouldn’t have gone wrong!
Merlin examined the lasagna. “I think it’s the spinach. The first few times I made spinach, I totally ruined it by letting it simmer too long. That makes it bitter.”
“I’m…”Arthur’s shoulders slumped. “I’m so sorry, Merlin.” How could he have thought he would impress Merlin with a self-cooked dinner? Percy was right, he should have tried the dish before, not just make it and hope it would turn out alright. That was it. Merlin would leave and have a good laugh about the stupid clotpole who had no idea how to make something as simple as lasagna.
“I…I don’t have a plan B. Would a dinner at Jamie’s Italian make up for it? Or somewhere else? Let me give them a quick call.”
Merlin reached for his hand as he got up. “Why don’t you just call the pizza service and we’ll stay here?”
Arthur sat down again. A slow smile spread across his face. If they’d gone out, Merlin could have said good-night just after dinner and he would never see him again. But he wanted to stay here and spend time with him. “Sure. What would you like?”
After they ate their pizza out of the box in front of the TV, watching an old movie, Merlin licked the cheese off his fingers and grinned. “You know, we could make a pizza or some pasta next weekend?”
“You mean…together?” Arthur’s heartbeat sped up and a goofy grin showed on his face.
“Yes. We can go to the market to get the produce and then make a nice sauce for spaghetti or something?” Merlin looked at him expectantly.
Arthur didn’t even notice that he was beaming. This meant that Merlin wanted to see him again. And not only that, he wanted to teach him how to cook! Maybe the night would have turned out different if his dish had worked, so he silently thanked the bitter spinach as he leaned in for their first kiss.