Title: The Not So Simple Path
Pairing: Merlin/Percival, Gwaine/Percival
Characters: Merlin, Percival, Gwaine
Summary: It's all about matchmaking.
Word Count: 632
Prompt: #149, courtship
You’re never going to see this, but if I don’t get this out of my head and heart, I’m afraid it’ll come out in other ways that will hurt people I care about. I don’t want anybody to be hurt because of me. It’s hard enough to live with secrets. I can’t add guilt to the stockpile.
But the thing of it is, every time I pass another message between you and Gwaine, or talk Arthur into rearranging the patrol schedule so you two get more time together, or cover Gwaine’s bill at the tavern so he has more money to spend on you, I wish that it could be different. I would never say no to you, or to Gwaine for that matter, but it’s hard to watch someone you love slowly fall in love with someone else.
I’m not talking about Gwaine. I’m talking about you. Gwaine is my friend, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him, but you’re the one I find my eye drawn to even amongst an entire phalanx. I’ve seen your gentleness when you think nobody is looking, the smiles you share with Gwaine even when the world seems like it’s going to fall apart around our ears. I’ve heard how you defend those who have no voice, even when others would condemn them. Your determination to be better, to reach some height you feel knights should grasp easily, touches me on a daily basis. And even when you tease, you do so lightly. As ferocious a fighter as you can be, I don’t honestly believe there’s a mean-spirited bone in your entire body.
As a king who stands on the cusp of greatness, Arthur will always hold my loyalty, but know this, Percival, and please, know it well. As the man who sprang from the same humble beginnings I did, who suffered through tragedies that would’ve broken others, you will always hold my heart.
I wish you the greatest happiness that could ever be, and for as long as you wish that to come from Gwaine, I will do everything in my power to facilitate it. But none of that can change how I wish it could be different, how I love—
Percival read it over a second time, more slowly, before lifting his confused gaze to Gwaine’s. “Where did you find this?”
“He was working on it when Arthur and I showed up to fetch Gaius. I nicked it when I saw who it was addressed to.”
“But why are you giving it to me?”
“Because Merlin’s the best man I know,” Gwaine said without a shred of irony. “And if there’s even a chance you might find a way of reciprocating his feelings, I’d rather you grabbed it than be the reason he doesn’t get something for himself for a change.” He paused. “Is there a chance?”
Percival thought back to the first few weeks he’d been in Camelot, when he’d been able to put faces to all the stories Lancelot had told him about its occupants. Merlin had figured in more than a few, and for a brief time, he’d been rather taken with his guileless smile and that abounding energy. But Merlin was always with Arthur, and Gwaine was right there, and so Percival had taken the simpler path, pursuing the man who always promised a good time if not anything else just yet.
“There’s always a chance,” he said. “But what about us?”
With a grin, Gwaine clapped him on the shoulder. “We’ll always be mates. Nothing can ever change that. The way I see it, this way everybody wins.” He shot Percival a sly wink as he sauntered off. “Especially if you find a way to convince Merlin to let me join in once in a while.”