Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Uther
Summary: Merlin knew he would never, ever be ready for this. “He’s going to have me thrown in the dungeons and leave me there to rot.”
Arthur rolled his eyes. “Merlin, we don’t have dungeons…”
Word Count: 1139 (it was under the limit before I started editing it I swear)
Prompt: 144 - Frost
Author's Notes: This also fills the 'Obnoxious in-laws' square of my Trope Bingo round 4 card - that's 5/25 done.
Disclaimer:Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.
Read it on A03 here
Merlin stared up at the vast Pendragon mansion. It was huge and white, and probably just as spotless inside as it was outside. He wondered how anyone could find it when it snowed.
“Ready for this?” Arthur asked. He’d parked next to his father’s huge Bentley. Not that Arthur’s car was exactly small and cheap, but it was sporty and dwarfed by the black giant looming there.
Merlin knew he would never, ever be ready for this. “He’s going to have me thrown in the dungeons and leave me there to rot.”
Arthur rolled his eyes. “Merlin, we don’t have dungeons…”
It was a lie. Merlin gazed at the gigantic house again. Of course it had dungeons, or at least vaults that could serve the same purpose. He wasn’t going to leave Arthur’s side, not for a moment, not until they were safely out of there.
“Maybe I could just stay out here…”
There was no chance.
Inside the mansion was just as impressive and clinical as Merlin had expected. Cold, like its owner always appeared whenever he looked at Merlin. If Uther Pendragon had been lord of the manor in times gone by then Merlin knew he would have been done away with long since for one reason and one reason only. It wasn’t that he’d committed the crime of being from a lower middle class background, or being gay, or being scruffy, or not well-spoken enough. It wasn’t that he’d even committed the crime of falling in love with Uther’s precious son. No, it was worse than that. Merlin had committed the crime of allowing Arthur to fall in love with him.
It was a cool greeting accompanied by the slightest of nods. There was no move on Uther’s part to kiss or embrace his son, not even so much as a handshake. Merlin thought of his mother, and how she always rushed to hug him, to hug them both now. She was always so delighted to see them and she adored Arthur.
There was a silence for a few moments, then Merlin reluctantly stepped forward, his hand outstretched. “Mr Pendragon.”
Uther regarded the hand as if it were something of dubious origin. Much like Merlin himself.
Arthur sighed. “It’s Merlin, father.”
“Ah yes. Like the magician. Perhaps we’ll have David Copperfield round next!” Uther smiled tightly, then turned away, pouring himself a drink.
Merlin was used to that sort of joke, he’d grown up with it. Besides, he sort of liked his name now. Arthur and Merlin… it sounded as if it was meant to be. Arthur though, was less impressed.
“Merlin’s my husband now. You could at least try to be civil.”
Uther had ignored the invitation to the wedding. Arthur hadn’t pressed the matter, at least not as far as Merlin knew. He’d said it would be better if Uther wasn’t there. But Merlin had seen the hurt in Arthur’s eyes as he’d said those words. At least Arthur’s sister had been proud to be there for him, and now Arthur could call Merlin’s small family his own too. But Uther was still the one who had raised him. Merlin knew how important it was to Arthur that his father accepted them.
“My mother suggested that you might come round for dinner sometime,” Merlin attempted. “She’d like to meet you.”
Uther looked at him as if he were something particularly foul crawling across the floor, then back at Arthur.
“This fad,” he began. “This fashionable thing that you people are doing these days. Surely you can see it’s no marriage? It will pass just like any other fad. Where is the procreation of children, Arthur? Is this boy going to give you that?”
“There’s adoption… surrogacy…” Merlin told him. He could see that although Arthur was holding his tongue he was furious. Any moment and there was going to be an explosion. He couldn’t bear the thought of Arthur being even more estranged from his father, awful as that father was.
“Surrogacy,” Uther repeated. It was the first time he’d acknowledged that Merlin had spoken. “Produce an heir by surrogate then, Arthur. Your heir, not this Merlin’s. Then, and only then, I might consider accepting this… unnatural mockery of a marriage.”
“How dare you…” Arthur hissed.
Merlin nudged Arthur gently before he could continue. “Let’s go,” he whispered. “Come back another day, when he’s had more time to get used to the idea.”
They’d been together for nearly two years before they married. This was the first time Merlin had even been allowed into Uther’s home, and even now it was only because Arthur had brought him along. All previous meetings had been at restaurants, or at their own home. Merlin knew that he would never, ever be welcome here. Uther would never get used to the idea of his son wed to another man. He had probably foolishly believed that Arthur would just ‘get over it’ at some point and settle down with a nice young lady but the wedding had dashed those hopes.
Arthur though, wasn’t going to give up without a fight. “Merlin’s my husband,” he repeated. Uther gave a contemptuous snort, but Arthur carried on regardless. “His mother’s a kind woman, she’s welcomed me into her family.”
“I’m sure she’s glad her son has made such a fortuitous match. What are her connections, Arthur? What prospects does this boy of hers have? I hope you signed a pre-nup… you people have those things, I suppose?”
There had been no pre-nuptial agreement, Merlin had offered but Arthur had refused to consider it. It wasn’t as if Merlin was penniless, or was without qualifications or work.
“There’s no need.”
“Oh, there’s always a need, Arthur. Have you learned nothing from Morgana’s mother? If I hadn’t had that agreement in place, you would have lost half your inheritance.” Uther took a long swig of his drink, draining the glass. “Well, that wouldn’t make you such an attractive catch, would it?” He glared at Merlin. “You may as well know, boy, you won’t get a penny. I’ve changed my will. Everything left to Arthur is his alone, never to be passed to you when you divorce my son or if you outlive him. Now go, both of you. Don’t bring him here again, Arthur.”
The look Arthur gave his father was frosty, and finally Merlin could see the family resemblance. The calm was frightening, Arthur was usually so fiery, so passionate. Uther had gone too far, way beyond what Arthur was prepared to tolerate or even to fight. When he spoke, Arthur’s voice was ice cold.
“Don’t worry, father. We won’t be back. You know where to find us if you’re ever ready to apologise.”
He took Merlin’s hand and led him out. Merlin noticed that he didn’t once look back.