Title: Hope Is A Four Letter Word
Pairing/s: Arthur/Gwen, Arthur/Merlin
Character/s: Arthur, Gwen, Merlin.
Summary: When insulting your manservant goes wrong...
Warnings: Possible hints at emotional infidelity.
Word Count: 343
Prompt: #108 - Exquisite
Author's Notes: Depending on how you look at it, it could either be the beginnings of emotional infidelity or complete and utter crack. Even I don't quite know and I wrote it. Title from Counting Stars by OneRepublic.
Exquisite. It was a big word. Arthur wasn’t even entirely sure he could spell it. Which was good, it’d stop him from writing it down and it’d stop Merlin from finding it while rummaging through his things as he was wont to do more often than is proper for a servant.
It had come up during dinner, of all occasions. Merlin had cooked in honour of Guinevere’s birthday. Arthur had remarked how they wanted to celebrate, not make themselves ill but Merlin was adamant. Oddly, it hadn’t been a complete disaster.
It was Gwen who had uttered the word, after swallowing the last of scrap of food.
“Thank you, your highness,” Merlin said, grinning like an idiot from across the room and Arthur frowned, not quite able to put his finger on what was bothering him.
“Merlin, exquisite has three syllables. I doubt you even know what it means,” Arthur said, hoping to soothe his unease with a good bicker. Nothing worked quite like it. But Merlin didn’t rise to the bait like he had expected him too.
“Exquisite: extremely beautiful and, typically, delicate-” Merlin started but Arthur wasn’t going to let him finish gloating.
“Like you, you mean?” Arthur said, holding onto the last word, thinking to turn it into a comment on his lack of brawn. From across the table, Gwen spluttered into her goblet but didn’t say anything. “Thank you, I would never have guessed.”
“You’re welcome, Arthur, I know you struggle with big words,” Merlin said in return, glancing from him to Gwen and back again before smiling to himself. Arthur had sulked for the rest of dinner because it hadn’t worked.
Now, safely in bed, still nursing an annoyance over the word he couldn’t quite put his finger on, he replayed the exchange over in his head. Sitting bolt upright, he shook Gwen awake.
“Arthur...” Gwen said sleepily in complaint.
Arthur swallowed, his mind racing to match his heart. He wasn’t usually such an idiot as Merlin said he was but this time... “Did I call Merlin beautiful?!”