Title: The Return of Lancelot
Pairing/s: Arthur/Merlin, Lancelot/Gwen
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Lancelot returns to Camelot. Arthur isn't entirely happy about it.
Word Count: 1088 (oops!)
Prompt: 152 - Lancelot
Author's Notes: Canon au, a bit. This also fills the 'presumed dead' square of my Trope Bingo round 4 card - that's 14/25 done. Apologies for the boring title.
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.
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The Return of Lancelot
It had been six months since Arthur had become king. Six long months. He was still not used to it. He didn’t think he ever would be, not really. It was stressful and tiring, and he was glad at the end of the day to close the door on it all and collapse into bed. Sometimes he was so tired he fell asleep immediately no matter what pleasurable distractions were on offer. So he wasn’t too pleased when, one morning, he was awakened by a commotion outside.
Arthur didn’t like to be disturbed. Irritated, he got up and went to the window, blinking a little in the early sunlight, to see what was happening. Possibly to shout a bit as well.
Gwaine, Leon and Elyan were down in the courtyard, greeting a giant of a man who was dismounting from his horse, and another man whom Arthur had given up any expectation of seeing again.
A few years earlier, Lancelot had arrived in Camelot and at first had appeared to be just what they were looking for in a knight, if only he had been a noble. Despite being banished as a liar by King Uther, Lancelot had remained desperate for knighthood. He had vowed to return when Arthur was king, knowing that Arthur had promised to make a change in the laws. And Arthur had changed them. Anyone could now train to be a knight regardless of status. But Lancelot hadn’t been seen for years. There had been rumours that he’d been killed and when he’d not returned after Arthur’s coronation people had reluctantly assumed that was the case.
Evidently, they were wrong.
Lancelot was as handsome as ever. He’d stolen hearts when he’d been in Camelot before. There had been Gwen, obviously, neither of them had made a secret of it. And then there had been Merlin. Arthur knew that Lancelot had stayed in Merlin’s tiny room, with its single bed, long before Arthur had got together with Merlin. It shouldn’t have mattered, but seeing the good-looking man smiling at the knights now, seeing him back in Camelot… It did matter. It mattered a lot.
Things had changed.
Arthur looked back at his bed, saw the reassuring shape in the blankets where his lover lay still sleeping, oblivious. Then he looked back out of his window, down into the courtyard.
Perhaps Lancelot would try Gwen again. That would be good, she deserved someone worthy of her, and she had her newly-knighted brother around now to ensure any suitor would treat her well.
There was a groan from the bed, and some muttering. No doubt Merlin would be complaining that he’d been abandoned. Arthur’s warmth was something Merlin seemed to particularly crave. Too many years in a cold bed, Arthur supposed. He wondered if Lancelot had been warm.
“What’s happening?” he heard Merlin mutter. “Why are you out of bed?”
Down in the courtyard, Lancelot was on his feet now, greeting Leon warmly. Was it possibly he was even more handsome now that he was a little bit older? Arthur didn’t want to go any closer and find out.
“It’s nothing,” Arthur said. “Go back to sleep.”
But Merlin would never do that, far too nosey, and was already staggering across to peer out of the window. He suddenly grinned broadly when he saw who had arrived.
“Lancelot! He’s back!” Merlin favoured Arthur with a huge, delighted smile as if somehow this was a particularly wonderful gift that Arthur had given him just by standing there at the window. Normally Arthur would have tried to take advantage of the situation, particularly as Merlin was already naked. But this was Lancelot. Handsome, perfect Lancelot.
“You already know he’s good enough,” Merlin carried on. He was pulling his clothes on, presumably to race downstairs and greet his old friend. Merlin was never usually that quick to get up, not since he’d found how very warm and comfortable the king’s bed was. Obviously there were greater attractions. “You’ll make him a knight now, yes?”
Arthur would have liked to make him a permanent resident of another kingdom. Lancelot would look too good in Camelot red. He’d be far too noble, far too heroic. People would find him even more attractive than ever.
“We’ve got a lot of knights now,” Arthur ventured.
“Always room for one more, when they’re that good,” Merlin told him cheerfully. “Come on, I’ll help you dress, we should go and meet him.”
“I’m the king,” Arthur reminded him importantly. It was a fact Merlin often seemed to overlook. “It wouldn’t be right for me to rush down to the courtyard. It might make Lancelot seem overly favoured.”
Which he was, of course, though not by Arthur, who realised his mistake a moment later.
“I’ll go by myself then,” Merlin told him.
“What? No, you’re the royal consort!”
“Unofficial,” Merlin reminded him.
“Well, yes, but…” Arthur had been giving some thought to making it official. Perhaps now was a good time? Before Merlin headed off to see that handsome would-be knight who had already enjoyed far too much of Merlin’s company. “Wait! Yes, of course. Official… we should make it official, definitely. As soon as possible.”
He’d expected Merlin to look excited, delighted even. Instead his lover looked rather suspicious.
“What’s the sudden rush?”
“Well, you and, um…” Arthur couldn’t help glancing back towards the window, just for a moment. And Merlin noticed.
“Lancelot? Arthur, are you jealous?”
“Well. You and… him.”
“Me?” Merlin went back to the window, looked out, smiled and waved at someone, then turned back to face Arthur. “Lancelot is right now kissing Gwen. Neither of them have been interested in anyone else since they first met. Why on earth would you think he was interested in me?”
“Well… you…” Arthur paused, then added firmly, “he slept with you.”
“In my room, on the floor,” Merlin clarified. “He wouldn’t take the bed.”
“But…” It would have been helpful to have had that piece of information earlier, really.
“And besides,” Merlin added more gently, “I’ve only ever wanted you.”
Oh. Arthur floundered for a moment, not quite sure how to react to the admission. “Even back then?”
Merlin rolled his eyes, then picked up Arthur’s shirt and pushed it at him. “Come on,” he told him (and Arthur wondered just who was supposed to be king here). “Let’s go and greet our friend.”
As Arthur pulled his shirt over his head, he was sure he heard the word clotpole muttered under Merlin’s breath.