Title: Room with a View
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Morgana, Gwen, Cenred, George
Summary: Morgana and Gwen's attempts to get Arthur and Merlin together turn somewhat desperate.
Word Count: 2784 (hugely sorry, I got carried away)
Author's Notes: Written for camelot_drabble prompt 175 - 'stay', and also fills the 'mistaken identity' square of my merlin_writers trope bingo (that's 19/25 done).
This is the sixth part of the 'Impressions' series, which can all be found on A03 here.
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.
(Here on A03 as well as I'm so close to the deadline)
Room with a View
The American trip was, Arthur knew, going very well. They’d secured several good contracts with top boutiques, and apparently both Lancelot and Mithian had been so inspired by the visit that they’d already started work on their next collections.
The one aspect of it that Arthur wasn’t particularly enjoying, though, was Cenred’s presence in the group. A photographer was, of course, essential, given their field, but Arthur couldn’t recall one ever needing or wanting to hang around quite as much as Cenred did.
He was there in the hotel bar pretty much every evening. He invited himself along for business dinners, and offered his services as unofficial city tour guide to the group. Well, mostly he offered those services to Merlin, and hadn’t looked overly pleased when Gwen had said that she’d like to come along as well.
Merlin, Arthur noticed, didn’t seem to be enjoying Cenred’s attentions very much. After Cenred had discovered that Arthur was only Merlin’s boss, and not his boyfriend at all, the American photographer had decided it was open season on Arthur’s assistant, and seemed to be at Merlin’s side at every opportunity.
“You know,” Arthur heard Cenred say casually in the bar one evening. “I do specialist photography as a side line.”
He was talking to Merlin, so naturally Arthur edged closer, trying to eavesdrop. Merlin was fidgeting with his drink, and looking over to where Lance and Gwen were huddled together in a corner, oblivious to his plight.
“You’re a natural,” Cenred continued. “You’d look amazing in my pictures.”
“I’m really not a model,” Merlin told him. “Morgana made me do that shoot.”
Mithian and Morgana were next to Arthur at the bar, busy chatting about the show earlier that evening, and requiring no input from Arthur. So it was easy to carry on listening to the pair on the other side of him.
“These cater to a particular market,” Cenred told him. “No experience required, just a certain look. You’ve got that look. You could have quite the career.”
“I don’t think…”
“I’ve got some pictures, up in my room,” Cenred continued, edging closer. “I could show you what I mean. So why don’t we take this up there, nice and private?”
Arthur’s hand clenched tight around his glass. God, the world was full of men with long hair who wanted to hit on Merlin. Given the choice, he was surprised to find he actually preferred it when it was Gwaine. And at least Gwaine wasn’t staying right there in the same hotel, with a room just a few doors away from Merlin’s. Although as Merlin’s boyfriend, he’d probably be staying in the same room… Arthur tried not to think about that. Perhaps he didn’t prefer Gwaine after all.
“Um… I really don’t think modelling’s my thing.”
“That’s fine,” Cenred purred, and Arthur could see his hand sliding over Merlin’s, gently stroking it, running his fingers up Merlin’s arm. Arthur had to put his glass down at that point in case it shattered. “But you know, I’m an artist, I’d still like to show you those photos. It’s sort of professional pride, you know? Why don’t you come and have a look?”
“I think Arthur needs me for… um… work stuff,” Merlin squeaked, pulling his hand away.
“That’s right,” Arthur intervened smoothly. Well, he thought it was smooth anyway. Cenred glared at him but Merlin turned huge, desperate, pleading eyes on him and Arthur really didn’t care what Cenred thought. “Merlin, why are you still sitting in the bar? You’re supposed to be checking on the flyers for tomorrow. You know there’s a really tight schedule once we arrive in Vegas? Only three hours till the first show?”
“I should get onto that,” Merlin agreed, draining his drink and nodding furiously. They’d gone over it all two hours earlier, but Cenred wasn’t to know that. “Thanks for reminding me, Arthur.”
“Shall I help you?” Cenred offered.
“No need,” Arthur told him, getting up. “I think we can handle this. Come on, Merlin, I can’t trust you to do this by yourself, can I?”
If looks could kill, Arthur would be dead.
“Thank you,” Merlin breathed as soon as they got out into the lobby. “He won’t leave me alone. I don’t want to even think about what sort of specialist photography he does.”
“It’s porn,” Arthur told him helpfully, pressing the call button for the lift. “BDSM porn. Morgana told me,” he added, before the startled then curious look on Merlin’s face transferred itself into the inevitable question. “Highly rated, apparently. Google him when you get back to your room. You could be a star. Not too late to go back…”
Merlin had gone even paler than usual. “Mum would disown me!”
“Not too great for the family album,” Arthur agreed, getting into the lift. “And of course you’d have to sleep with him. Gwaine wouldn’t be too happy about that, would he?”
“Yes. You know, your boyfriend.”
“Gwaine’s not my boyfriend,” Merlin said as the lift doors closed. “We only went out once. He’s fun but too wild for me.”
“Oh,” said Arthur, and couldn’t think of anything else to say. He wondered if Morgana knew about that development. He suspected she did.
Merlin was slightly braver on the internal flight to Vegas than he had been for the transatlantic flight earlier in the week. At least Arthur didn’t need to hold his hand throughout the flight, and put up with Morgana smirking at him the whole trip.
Merlin did sit next to him, though Arthur thought it was probably to avoid having to potentially sit next to Cenred rather than anything else. He also jumped and flinched at the slightest turbulence, and breathed a huge sigh of relief when they safely landed.
“You’re getting better,” Arthur told him.
“I hate flying,” Merlin replied, picking up his carry-on and following Morgana off the plane. It was another private charter, but this time Merlin wasn’t being forced to wear one of the designer collection items. Apparently he’d slouched too much in LAX and Mithian had refused to let him anywhere near anything of hers.
“You like the travel though,” Arthur pointed out. He’d noticed how, despite Cenred’s rather creepy attempt at playing tour guide, Merlin had made sure he visited all the best tourist spots in Los Angeles. There had been talk on the plane of a photo under the waving cowboy sign, and whether there was going to be time to take a day trip out to the Grand Canyon. Arthur quite liked the idea of the canyon trip. He was sure Morgana could manage without either of them very easily.
“Yes,” Merlin agreed. “Ooh, what about Red Rock Canyon?” He pointed at a poster they were passing.
“Grand Canyon’s better,” Arthur assured him, despite never having been to either of them and having no idea what was at Red Rock Canyon. “We could probably hire a helicopter.”
Merlin looked so pleased by that idea that Arthur wondered if he could hire helicopter trips to both places. Though Merlin would be horrible on a helicopter. He’d probably cling to Arthur for the whole flight, terrified.
“I’ll see to it,” he promised with that thought in mind, trying to remind himself about his rule about dating employees and how very bad and wrong that was. “Definitely the Grand Canyon, I want to see that.”
Merlin beamed at him happily. Arthur wasn’t enchanted at all. No.
“This is where we’re staying?”
Merlin looked around at the huge, ornate, pink lobby of the hotel in bemusement. Arthur was inclined to agree with his assessment. It was so over the top, and the pink was making his teeth ache.
“It’s hideous,” Arthur whispered, making sure the concierge didn’t hear him. But the man was dealing with Morgana and Gwen and the room allocations, and nothing short of an earthquake was likely to draw his attention far from Morgana’s cleavage.
Cenred had sidled up to them while they were waiting. “Don’t knock it,” he advised. “There’s a suite on the top floor with playrooms.”
“Playrooms?” Merlin asked. Arthur almost smacked him for being stupid.
“Don’t ask,” he advised.
“I could show you,” Cenred offered. He glanced slyly at Arthur. “It’s a big suite, plenty of room for three…or four…”
Arthur held up a hand. “Stop. Don’t even consider finishing what I think you’re suggesting.”
“I probably should introduce you to my mate Gwaine,” Merlin agreed. “He’d love you.”
Arthur thought that was a great idea. It would solve two problems at once. Not that Gwaine was really a problem now. He was about to endorse Merlin’s suggestion, when Gwen and Morgana came over, handing out room key cards. Arthur took his quickly, eager to get away from the oily photographer. He wondered if they could get a different one at such short notice. They definitely wouldn’t be hiring Cenred again.
“Ah, there’s been a bit of a problem with the rooms,” Gwen told them. “Sorry, Merlin, I’ve been trying all week but there aren’t any.”
“Something to do with an Elvis convention in town,” Morgana added. “You’ll have to share with someone.”
“You’re welcome to share my room,” Cenred told him immediately.
Arthur knew he wasn’t imagining the involuntary flinch Merlin gave at that.
“No, Merlin’s my assistant and I’m in a suite I think,” Arthur looked to Gwen, who nodded. “That’s fine, he can share with me.”
“Thanks,” Merlin looked gratefully at him.
“No problem. These suites are always huge. Come on, we need to get ready.” Arthur ignored the disgruntled look Cenred was giving him and marched off towards the lift, Merlin in tow. Their room was up on the 25th floor. That would be a lot of stairs. He hoped the lift wouldn’t break down during the stay.
“This is it,” Arthur announced, flinging open the door to room 2509. He strode inside, threw down his case, and then froze.
There was a single, huge, bed in the middle of the room. It had a heart-shaped headboard covered in the deepest red velvet. The white covers had red rose petals sprinkled all over them. There was a vast sunken bath on the far side of the room, and that also had rose petals sprinkled around it. On the bedstand was a magnum of champagne in a bucket of ice.
“Oh my god!” he heard Merlin exclaim from behind him. “Is this the right room?”
It had to be. The key wouldn’t have let them in. Obviously there had been a mistake in the booking. “I’ll get the hotel to change it. This looks like the honeymoon suite.”
There was an envelope under the champagne bucket. Merlin went over and looked at it.
“It’s addressed to Mr and Mr A Pendragon,” Merlin told him.
Arthur was going to kill Morgana. And Gwen too. He took the envelope and opened it. Inside were various vouchers and tokens for various services included in their honeymoon package.
“It’s passes for couples massages, a romantic gondola ride, and a reception with Elvis,” he told Merlin disgustedly.
“My mum loves Elvis,” Merlin attempted. He was staring at the bed. The one, solo bed.
There was a knock on the door. Arthur gave a small sigh of relief that they’d realised their mistake. He opened it, and found a short, dark haired man on the other side, immaculate in his hotel uniform.
“Welcome to the Camelot Hotel,” the man said, marching in to stand in the middle of the room and giving a little bow. “I’m George, I’ll be your helper for the duration of your stay. Please feel free to call me at any time. I’m here to ensure your honeymoon is as relaxing and enjoyable as every honeymoon should be.”
“Yeah, about that,” Arthur told him. “We’re not married.”
“Oh!” George clasped his hands together in horror. “But you’ve got the honeymoon package.”
No, death was too good for Morgana and Gwen. He’d drive them out to the desert and abandon them there, miles from nowhere. In their heels.
“There’s been a mistake,” Arthur began. “But don’t worry, I expect it was on our side.”
George was only half-listening, busy checking the iPad he was carrying. “I’m so sorry! But don’t worry, leave it with me, I’ll get it fixed immediately.” He frowned at something on the screen, then nodded to himself. “If I just move that…”
“A foldaway bed would be fine,” Merlin said.
“Mmm,” George replied absently, still intent on his screen. “Ah! I see what’s happened.” He looked up and smiled confidently at them both. “All sorted now. Please, enjoy the facilities and we’ll be ready for you at nine, come back here after your fashion show. I’ll notify everyone and send up the revised details. And another complementary bottle of champagne because of the mix up.”
Arthur wasn’t ever one to pass up the chance of free champagne. “Thank you.”
“No problem at all. Now, your itinerary will be on the TV screen, just press the information button on the handset. Do call me if you have any problems operating it. And thank you for choosing our hotel for this important and precious occasion.”
He gave a little bow again, and showed himself out.
Merlin frowned. “So he’s bringing in another bed, right?”
Arthur shrugged. “Sounds as if it’ll be here at 9. Bit late, but as long as we get one.” He looked at the champagne. Really, he could do with a drink. All the hearts and rose petals were a bit much. And that huge bed, which Merlin would look so good sprawled across. No, he wasn’t supposed to be thinking about that. “Let’s open this, as we’re getting another one. There’s a couple of hours before we need to meet that damned harpy, for her stupid show.”
“Fine with me,” Merlin agreed. He sat down on the bed, and started to operate the TV.
Arthur tried not to look at him, on the pristine white cover, surrounded by rose petals. Instead, he popped the champagne cork and filled the two flutes. He handed one to Merlin, who grinned delightedly at him and took a large mouthful.
“I love champagne,” he declared. “I can’t drink too much of it though, it goes straight to my head.”
“Lucky you’re not rooming with Cenred then,” Arthur told him, sitting down on the bed beside him. He was tempted to hand over the bottle. But that would be very wrong of him. He wasn’t Cenred.
“Yeah, thanks again for that.” Merlin was flicking through the channels, then suddenly the information screen came up. “Oh!”
Arthur almost dropped the flute in his shock.
At nine o’clock that evening, in the hotel’s very own Chapel of Love, George had helpfully arranged their wedding for them. They both sat there, staring at the screen, stunned.
Arthur recovered first. He took a huge gulp of the champagne, and immediately poured himself another glass.
“Give me some of that!” Merlin demanded, grabbing the bottle and refilling his glass. “How the hell did this happen?”
“Morgana and Gwen,” Arthur told him. He took the bottle back. It was going down fast. Arthur definitely needed more. This was the worst overseas trip ever. “I’ll call George and cancel it, and order that spare bed. And Morgana can run her own show today, we’re taking the rest of the day off.”
“I hope she runs Gwen ragged,” Merlin agreed. “Serve her right. Can you ask for more champagne while you’re at it?” He gave a little hiccup and Arthur tried very hard not to find it completely adorable. “And some chips. They’ll do chips, right? Oh look, there’s a menu on here, you can order on the telly!”
“Fries,” Arthur corrected, watching Merlin excitedly scrolling through the lists. “Oh, nachos! Get some of those too.”
“Nachos and champagne? Really?”
“You’re having chips!”
“Yeah,” Merlin lay back on the bed, empty champagne flute in one hand, remote in the other. “But you’re posh. Look, caviar blinis! That’s more your sort of thing.”
What was completely Arthur’s sort of thing was now lying out on the rose-petal strewn bed, laughing stupidly at things he was finding on the menu, and looking more delectable than anything the hotel had to offer.
It was distracting.
Arthur couldn’t help lying down next to him, just for a few minutes. After all, Merlin was now choosing them a movie to watch. He’d just stay there and give his learned opinion on the rubbish Merlin was insisting they watch. Just until the food and drink turned up.
And then he’d ring George.
He had plenty of time…