Summary: After discovering Merlin's love of sweet treats (and handsome kings), Arthur concocts a plan.
Word Count: 2194
Author's Notes: Happy Christmas Narlth! I hope you enjoy this bit of Christmas fun. I enjoyed writing this, hope you enjoy it too :) Lots of sugary, fluffy Christmas fun :)
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.
It had been a long, tiresome day, and Arthur felt particularly irritable as he headed back towards his chambers. The council session had not gone as planned and with winter in full force beyond the castle windows he was having to deal with freezing temperatures on top of everything else. Snow was piled in heaps around the castle windows and many of the outlying villages had been cut off by snowdrifts. Trying to ration out the winter stores as well as sending men to the villages was taking far too much time and effort.
Still, Merlin had promised a warm bath and food, and who was Arthur to reject that offer?
Pushing open his chamber doors, he stopped abruptly. Standing in front of the table, Merlin whirled around, a guilty look, and highly incriminating crumbs, on his face.
Arthur narrowed his eyes.
“Sire,” Merlin said, subtly trying to swallow down his mouthful of food. Arthur’s food. The fact he had used Arthur’s title was evidence enough of his guilt. “You’re back … early.”
Arthur let the silence stretch, inwardly enjoying how it made Merlin squirm. “Turn around,” he said eventually.
Shoulder’s slumping a little in defeat, Merlin turned, a couple of biscuits and one of Cook’s famous sweet pastries sat in his hands.
“Stealing my food, are we? You do realise that is one of the greatest crimes in Camelot? Even sorcery falls below the level of treason you have just committed.”
After a moment, Arthur sighed. He was tired, and as much as he enjoyed inflicting their refined form of teasing on Merlin, the day had been too long. Even though he ached to carry on the easy banter which had grown between them over the years, now was not the time.
“It was a joke, Merlin,” he said, moving past Merlin into the room, unable to summon more than a roll of his eyes at Merlin’s expression. “No need to look like such a startled deer.”
His tiredness must have shown in his voice because the stolen treats were back on the platter and Merlin had crossed the room before Arthur really registered what wa going on. “I’ve drawn a bath, and you should relax,” Merlin said, concern filling his gaze. “Was the council difficult?”
A warmth was filling Arthur’s belly as he let Merlin undress him and then guide him to the bath.
“It’s proving hard to get provisions to the villages that need them,” he explained, sinking back in the warm water - he never had understood how Merlin managed to keep it warm for so long - and letting his muscles relax. “Lord Axebrough’s the worst, keeps saying we should keep the stores for ourselves and to forget the peasants.” He wrinkled his nose in disgust. “He’s the biggest idiot I’ve ever had to deal with.”
“I thought that was me?” Merlin joked, stoking the fire.
“No, you’re just a clotpole -”
“- and I can’t see you denying starving peasants food.”
Merlin humphed a laugh, by now carefully stowing Arthur’s clothes away. “So you don’t mind if this starving peasant takes a few well-earned biscuits?”
“Ah, there is the problem, you’re not starving.”
“You haven’t tried Gaius’ cooking,” Merlin replied accusingly, he was quiet for a beat. Then, “And you’re hardly starving either!” he protested.
“No, Merlin, but I’m the king.”
Merlin humphed again and Arthur clearly heard, “And a prat too.”
Mood distinctly lightened, Arthur was grinning as he got out of the bath. Merlin helped to dry him and then brought over Arthur’s sleeping clothes which he had been warming by the fire.
“Thank you, Merlin. That will be all,” he said, heading for his chair by the fire to relax a little more before bed. “Just bring the pastries over before you leave.”
He heard Merlin set the platter down at the end of the table, near Arthur’s hand and then quiet footsteps as Merlin left. After a moment of dazedly staring into the fire, Arthur reached back to find a pastry. Only to find the tray empty.
* * *
“Well … you know Arthur,” Merlin sighed, “it wasn’t pretty.”
Gwen stifled a giggle as Merlin finished recounting the events of the previous evening.
“It’s not funny!” he protested.
“Well it is, a little,” she grinned back.
Through the crack in the door, Arthur could see the pair of them, Merlin with a cross between a scowl and a smile on his face. Arthur had been coming to fetch Merlin for target practice only to come upon the two of them laughing … about him.
“It’s not fair! He’s got all the wealth, the fame, the glory. And he won’t even let me have a few pastries. It’s like I don’t even matter.”
“He does value you, Merlin. He’s just got a funny way of showing it. He knows how you feel about him, and I’m sure he feels the same,” Gwen replied, putting a consoling hand on Merlin’s arm.
Merlin snorted. “No Gwen … he’s as blind to that as he is to everything else.”
Gwen frowned a little but didn’t press. Arthur felt a stab of pain. He did know how Merlin felt about him, or at least he thought he did. And he felt the same … he just didn’t know how to show it.
“Nope, I’ll just have to lead a biscuit-less life,” Merlin replied, bringing something of a smile back onto his face.
“Maybe Cook would give you some?” Gwen suggested. “If you asked nicely?” This also received a snort from Merlin. “Well then what about from Arthur? For Christmas?”
Merlin sighed. “Last Christmas Arthur gave me an extra large basket of laundry and told me to clean it quick or he’d put me in the stocks.”
Gwen bit her lip.
“To be honest, I don’t expect much more this year.”
Slipping away from the door, Arthur already had a plan forming. Merlin thought he was blind? Merlin thought he didn’t care? Well, Arthur was going to have to do something about that.
“Ah, excellent, Cook I’ve found you!”
The hustle and bustle of the kitchen seemed to pause for a moment, and one of the serving girls in the corner dropped her bowl of stew with a little shriek. In fairness, Arthur hadn’t been in the kitchens since he was a child - Merlin always went these days - but he was a little bemused at the extent of shock his arrival created.
“Sire!” Cook hurried over, wiping floury hands on her apron, and trying to hide her surprise. Her eyes narrowed as she spotted the mess of the stew. “We weren’t expecting you.”
“No,” Arthur replied, “you see I’ve come on a bit of a mission. I need you to make some of those delicious pastries of yours, and a few of the biscuits, and if it isn’t too much trouble, some of the cakes as well?”
Cook looked startled, but nodded hastily. “Yes, Sire. That will be fine. May I ask why you didn’t send Merlin instead?”
“Ah yes, last detail. Merlin can’t know. Bring the treats to my rooms but don’t,” - and he put all of his kingly authority into that word - “let Merlin see.”
* * *
Christmas day dawned bright and sunny, the light glinting off the snow surrounding the castle and throwing everything into a brilliant glare. The corridors and halls had been decorated with holly and mistletoe and everything seemed to sparkle and shine.
Merlin, despite his comments to Gwen, was extra cheery when he entered Arthur’s chambers that morning. He stoked the fire, happily humming to himself and then laid out Arthur’s clothes.
“What’s put you in such a good mood?” Arthur asked, determined to sound grumpy so Merlin wouldn’t have any idea of what was coming.
“It’s Christmas!” Merlin replied, looking scandalised at Arthur’s lack of enthusiasm.
“Oh really? I hadn’t noticed.” Arthur dead-panned.
He sent Merlin away after he had had breakfast, so he could prepare. Waiting a little while, it was not long before lunch when Arthur dashed across to Gaius’ chambers and burst through the door.
Arthur’s sword, which Merlin must have been sharpening - although he seemed a long way away - clattered to the floor, and Merlin jumped violently.
“Merlin!” Arthur did his best impression at sounding out of breath. “There’s a … sorcerer! There’s … there’s … everywhere!”
“There’s what everywhere?” Merlin asked, already hurrying to the door.
“Let me show you,” Arthur replied, and without waiting for Merlin, hurried off to the council chambers, trying hard to hide his smile.
Upon entering the council chambers, Arthur caught Merlin’s confusion at how normal the room looked, but quickly rushed to the window.
Upon the window ledge were a few of Cook’s special cinnamon buns.
Merlin frowned in confusion. “But-”
“They’re everywhere,” Arthur replied, before Merlin could get a word in. “Here, my chambers, the corridors, the training ground, even the stables. Merlin, I don’t want to cause panic, we’re going to have to eat them before too many see them and worry.”
A highly suspicious look crossed Merlin’s face, but he reached up and took down the buns without complaint.
Arthur didn’t miss the touch of a smile on his lips either.
“Here you go then, Merry Christmas,” Merlin said, holding one out to Arthur.
“Oh no,” Arthur said, throwing up his hands. “You’re going to have to eat some first. they might be poisoned.”
“... If they’re poisoned I’ll die,” Merlin pointed out.
“Yes, but I’m the king, Merlin. You know how it works.”
Rolling his eyes, Merlin took a bite. A look of sheer bliss crossed his face.
Arthur waited a moment, then took one from Merlin’s hand. “They’re clearly fine,” he said, popping it into his mouth. “But we’ve got to hurry, there’s so many more round the castle.”
They headed from the council chambers to Arthur’s rooms, coming across more sugary treats en route. There were small danish pastries, spicy ginger biscuits, crystallised orange cakes, and some of Arthur’s favourite apple tarts.
He was incensed to discover Gwaine had already found the pile of truffles in the armoury before they got there, and resolved to give the knight a week in the stocks for ruining Arthur’s well laid plan.
By the time they reached the stables, Merlin knew exactly what Arthur’s game was, Arthur had almost given up pretending, and they were both experiencing the symptoms of a sugar rush.
Leon was in the stables, getting his horse ready to leave for a ride and looking bemusedly at a pile of raisin and honey biscuits.
“Ah, Leon,” Arthur said, quickly striding past Leon to grab the biscuits and having trouble suppressing his giggles. “Don’t worry, it’s all covered.”
Over by the door, Merlin hiccuped.
“A very serious business, Leon,” Arthur replied, almost giving up completely at the look of confusion on Leon’s face. “But Merlin and I are well equipped to deal with it.”
“Dark magic,” Merlin said. “Very - hic - dark magic. But it’s not a problem. His royal pratliness and I have it under - hic - control.”
Leon opened his mouth in shock but Arthur and Merlin were already gone, in fits of giggles they made their way up the street.
“There’s some more in the North tower I think,” Arthur said. Ignoring Merlin’s feeble attempt to punch him on the arm.
“I know what you’re doing,” Merlin said accusingly.
“Yes, fighting dark magic, as you said,” Arthur responded, not even bothering to suppress his smile.
Merlin tried to glare, but hiccuped again, rather ruining the effect.
They ran into Lord Axebrough on the stairs, whom - to Arthur’s delight - when about embark on a long spiel about supplies was unfortunate enough to have his belt snap.
Patting him on the back, as the man hastened to pull up his trousers, Arthur moved past him.
“Don’t worry, Axebrough,” he said jovially, “it’s all under control.”
He looked back to grin at Merlin and was surprised to see - or did he imagine it? - a flash of gold in Merlin’s eyes. It must have been the sun …
There was a feast that night, the wine flowing freely and more than one knight asleep in his cups by the end of it.
Arthur found he couldn’t keep his eyes off Merlin.
Finally, they headed back to Arthur’s chambers and Arthur knew the charade was up.
“You know you could’ve just given me the treats,” Merlin said.
“Ah, but Merlin, where would have been the fun in that?” Arthur grinned lazily.
There was a pause, and then Merlin stepped close, looking at something over Arthur’s head.
Arthur glanced up to see a bunch of mistletoe, white flowers just coming into bloom.
No, Gwaine was spending two weeks in the stocks at this rate, he thought grimly.
When he brought his gaze down, he found Merlin standing very close.
“Thank you,” Merlin said quietly, and then all of a sudden leaned in and kissed him. His lips tasted of sugar, and cinnamon, and sweet delights.
Arthur had barely registered what was happening, when Merlin pulled away, his expression one of shy happiness.
“Merry Christmas, Arthur,” he murmured.
“Merry Christmas, Merlin.”