Title: Hiding the Evidence
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Uther
Summary: Merlin had practically moved in. Now they had to hide it from the king.
Word Count: 999
Author's Notes: What my sleepy brain came out with.
Arthur couldn’t help glancing across the room at Merlin. Merlin grimaced, pulling a face and Arthur knew his voice had sounded as fake to everyone else in the room as it had to him. He climbed out of bed (still wondering how the hell Merlin had got dressed so fast) and placed his hands on his hips, trying to look casual. At least he had managed to put nightclothes on after their last round. The king stared at him.
“Are you ill?”
“No, Sire. The…patrols tired me more than I realised.”
Merlin laughed, then hastily turned it into a cough when Uther shifted. While Merlin hacked away, Arthur glared at him. They both knew it wasn’t the patrols tiring him out. His father gave him a long, suspicious look, but turned to leave. Arthur didn’t know what his father had come to his chambers for, but he couldn’t help wishing the man would hurry up and leave.
But Uther did no such thing.
“Is this yours?”
Arthur had to move to see what the king was looking at. He caught Merlin’s eye before schooling his expression into one of neutral indifference when his father looked at him.
“Yes?” Arthur knew his words came out as a question. The king was beginning to look worried and Arthur wondered if he would survive this encounter without being escorted to Gaius.
With a disgusted expression on his face, Uther tugged the shirt – Merlin’s shirt – from under the table. Arthur tried not to let images of his lover bent over that table the night before cloud his mind. That was the last thing he needed.
“Honestly, Arthur. We have the finest seams-mistress in the whole of Camelot and you insist on acting like a commoner.”
Before Arthur could say a word of protest – or defence, he knew that was the best Merlin could afford (and he paid the man’s salary)- his father threw the shirt on the fire. Merlin made a startled move and Arthur shook his head warningly. It came as no surprise that Merlin had dressed in something different… Arthur was sure if one was to look closely, there were as many of Merlin’s clothes strewn around the room as there were Arthur’s.
As the thought crossed his mind, Arthur suddenly noticed one of Merlin’s boots sticking out from under his chest of drawers. Arthur gave Merlin a startled glance, who followed his gaze and his mouth opened in a soft “o” of surprise. They had spent days looking for the missing boot.
Arthur moved around his father, still attempting to look casual as he leant against the dresser and folded his arms across his chest.
“Was there something you needed to discuss, Sire?” Arthur asked, shifting until his foot was on top of the boot. Making sure Uther was still watching the shirt burn, Arthur flicked his foot back. The boot shot under the drawers and Arthur knew they were going to need Merlin’s magic to get it back out again.
“You didn’t attend your training session this morning,” Uther said. There was a time where Arthur would have been pleased his father noticed. Now, he inwardly cursed. Couldn’t he have the morning off to screw his manservant without someone reporting it to the king.
“Like I said, Sire, the patrols…” Arthur said lamely. Before he could think of anything else, Merlin was by his side. There was a pot in his hand and Arthur saw at a glance it was his oil. His eyes widened and he flushed. There was only one thing they had ever used that for.
“Gaius said to apply the ointment every few hours, My Lord.”
Arthur blinked. It took him a moment to realise Merlin was extending on the tiredness. Uther would push him if he was tired. If he was injured, he wouldn’t risk harming his heir.
“Why didn’t you say, Arthur? I shall leave you to rest. But for the love of Camelot, boy-,” his gaze snapped onto Merlin-,”do your job and get this mess cleared up.”
“Yes, Your Highness,” Merlin said, dipped his head. Uther left and Arthur sagged back against the drawers as the door shut.
“You’re never that respectful to me,” he mused as Merlin drew the bolt across the door to ensure there were no further interruptions. Merlin lifted an eyebrow and Arthur became acutely aware that the pot of oil was still in his lover’s hand.
“You won’t chop off my head.”
“I could punish you,” Arthur said seductively. He walked closer and slid his hands around Merlin’s waist, pulling him flush against him.
“Leaving that much mess around my room, honestly, Merlin.”
“I’m surprised your father even noticed,” Merlin said. He automatically slotted against Arthur’s body and it took the prince a moment to register what he had said. When he did, he pulled back to look at Merlin.
“What do you mean?”
Merlin looked up at him and his mouth twitched. Arthur knew he was trying not to grin and instantly felt on guard.
“What have you done?”
“I don’t think he really bought that you were injured in training,” Merlin said, biting his lip. His hand lifted and he traced an area on Arthur’s neck. “Did you not notice the way he was looking at you?”
“I was still in bed, of course he would be suspicious….” Arthur trailed off and marched across his room. He snatched up his mirror and angled it so he could see where Merlin had traced his skin. The vivid red mark brought back how good it had felt when Merlin had sucked the mark into his neck the night before. Arthur hadn’t realised it would still be so obvious. No wonder his father thought he was going mad.
Arthur slowly turned and lifted an eyebrow at his servant. Merlin didn’t look the slightest bit apologetic.
“I’m definitely going to have to punish you,” Arthur said quietly. Merlin glanced down at the pot of oil and visibly gulped.