Title: A Helping Hand
Summary: Gwen helps clean up a spill.
Warnings: sexually-oriented material
Word Count: 759
Author's Notes: Set early in S3.
Arthur did not dare to meet Guinevere's gaze. Instead, he fixed his eyes resolutely on the ceiling, attempting to focus on the cracks that needed to be replastered, instead of on her hand rubbing a rag over his trousers, attempting to sop up the wine Merlin had just spilled on them.
He had protested at first.
"Guinevere, you truly do not have to do that."
"Merlin made the mess; Merlin can clean it up. And he had better hope the stains come out when he washes them. These are my favorite trousers."
"You are the one who ordered him from the room. And anyway, it's less likely he'll be able to clean them if the stains set in. Now, hold still."
Since Gwen was not to be dissuaded, Arthur was simply trying to keep his breathing moderate and not notice how her head moved as she wiped up the wine. It was bad enough that his dreams (and daydreams, as well) had a tendency to stray in that direction, for which he felt rather guilty. Having an actual visual in mind could only make it more frequent.
Still... it was difficult to not sneak a peek.
Or, impossible not to.
Of course, he wound up peering down at her just as she moved from his calf to his thigh. Arthur's eyebrows shot up; if she happened to glance right in front of her face, even his hauberk would not be entirely sufficient to hide his reaction. A corner of his mind begged him to let her continue to where the spill was the worst, right in his lap... and he knew better, knew he could not, yet his feet would not quite allow him to step back.
"I've found a rag to clean it-- oh. I see Gwen's got it." Merlin stopped in the doorway, looking between them with an expression Arthur was going to have to wipe off his face later.
Gwen began to stand, and Arthur gave her a hand up. He returned the smile she gave him, although his was a bit strained.
"I've got most of it, anyway," she replied to Merlin.
There's still some just a bit higher, that wicked part of Arthur's brain murmured. Clearing his throat, he said aloud, "Thank you, Guinevere. Merlin, I'm going to change out of these, and you need to hope that I can wear them to the feast next week." He caught the gently admonishing look Gwen gave him, but could only shrug. Other men might have their servants thrown off the parapets for dumping a full goblet of wine in their laps; at least, he was giving Merlin the chance to rectify his mistake.
Merlin gestured at Arthur's wardrobe. "If not, you could wear the black pair. Or, the blue pair. Or, the tan pair."
Throwing Merlin off the parapets was sounding more tempting with each passing minute. "I want to wear this pair."
"Right," Gwen piped up, clearly not wishing to be present for any further debate. "I will leave you both to it."
"You don't have to go," Merlin quickly said. "I'm sure Arthur won't mind if you stay."
Parapets. Definitely with the parapets.
Gwen patted Merlin on the arm as she walked past. "Morgana's likely wondering where I've gone off to. I'll see you later." Giving Arthur another smile, one which he returned more fully this time, she left the room.
Once she was out of earshot, Merlin commented, "That looked cozy."
With another glare at him, Arthur stalked behind the changing screen to get out of his wet clothing. "The stocks look cozy, too. Unless you wish to revisit them, you will make sure to do a thorough cleaning on these." He flung the trousers over the screen in the general direction Merlin had been standing in, pleased when his manservant's muffled exclamation told Arthur he had hit his mark. Pulling on a spare pair that he apparently had left back there yesterday and Merlin apparently had not seen fit to collect, he went back out.
Merlin made for the door, but stuck his head back into Arthur's chambers long enough to say, "If you want, I can spill wine on you when Gwen's nearby again, tomorrow."
"Merlin," Arthur growled, taking a step forward.
Merlin's laugh rang down the corridor as he ran off.
Arthur came to a stop, the offer running through his mind. Yes, Merlin had been joking, but...
No. Too obvious, too devious, too lecherous.
With a sigh, he went over to his table to finish his dinner.