Title:Love isn't something you find...
Character/s:Arthur, Merlin, Uther, Gwaine, Percival, others
Summary:It's time for Arthur to choose a suitable bride
Author's Notes:There will be a second part to this! Also written for the Tropes bingo at merlin_writers, for the "royalty" and "mail order bride/groom" prompts on my card!
Arthur looked at the big black file his personal assistant had left on his desk. He knew what it contained but still wasn’t keen on opening it, yet.
Since his 16th birthday, Arthur had knew about that file. He remembered perfectly well the conversation with his father about his future wife and how, if he hadn’t found a suitable pretender before his 28th birthday, he’ll have to choose one from a list made by his father’s most trusted assistants. Arthur knew he was expected to be wed before he was 30 and being in love with his wife was clearly optional. It was one of the downside being heir to the throne.
At that moment, Arthur had hoped to find someone he’ll really love before the due date. Though when, around two years later, Arthur discovered he liked men better than women, he had knew he would probably end choosing his future bride from that leather-covered file. Knowing it didn’t make it easier though.
In the last years, Arthur had managed to have fun with some men, never getting attached as it was meant to end sooner rather than later. He conveniently had tried to forget about the file and the prospect of marrying out of duty rather than love.
After another distrustful look at the file, Arthur took a deep breath and finally opened the file… And closed it immediately. It couldn’t be possible. Nobody knew apart from Leon, his cousin and best friend.
Arthur opened the file again. The first form was really including the picture of a man. “Percival Knight, heir to the Duke of Gloucester”.
Slowly, he started to understand what that really means. It couldn’t be a joke, his father had no humor apart from polo-related jokes. So, however he may have known, it seemed like his father was allowing him to follow his preference. A smile appeared on Arthur’s lips, what a scandal it would be! Morgana would probably inherit the throne or Uther was planning to chance some laws… Whatever, Arthur suddenly felt relieved of a heavy weight he had forgotten he was carrying.
He still had to choose a husband from that file, though so he turned the page to discover the record of another pretender.
“Gwaine Green, Earl of Moray”. The guy was handsome though Arthur continued to turn the pages.
“Elyan Smith, Viscount Ashbrook”. Another fine specimen but he didn’t tick Arthur’s fancy.
Arthur kept browsing the other records, never stopping for more than a few seconds. “Cedric Sigan, heir to the Viscount Galway”, “Cenred Essen, Baron de Ros”, “Tristan Wood, heir to the Marquess of Bath”, …
It looked like the list of all the gay noblemen of United Kingdom aged from 25 to 35… And it was a very long list. There were of course some of Arthur’s acquaintance in there! Some of whom he didn’t even know were gay.
Slowly getting tired of it, Arthur sighed as he turned another page.
He stopped when he saw the picture. He knew that man! These ears and cheekbones were quite unforgettable. He looked more presentable than what Arthur was used to, though.
Arthur checked the name on the record: “Merlin Emrys, heir to the Count of Armagh”.
There must have been a mistake… How could the clumsy boy working in the shabby bookshop be heir to a Count? That didn’t make any sense!
Arthur turned the page, deeming it as a mistake.
An hour later, Arthur had browsed the whole file and though some of the men in there seemed quite interesting (Gwaine’s hair and Percival’s arms would be wanking material for a few days at least!), nobody had really caught his attention…
Apart from Merlin’s of course but not for the right reasons… Or at least that’s what Arthur wanted to believe.
And if he kept reading the record about the heir to the Count of Armagh, it was just out of curiosity and had nothing to do with raven hair, striking blue eyes and memories of a pert bottom on the top of a ladder in the back of a small shabby bookstore…