Title: To Dance with the One You Love
Characters/pairings: Arthur, Uther, past Uther/Ygraine, references to Merlin/Arthur
Summary: Arthur asks his father why he made Merlin his manservant.
Warnings: mentions of homophobia that morphs into fluff (via a very OoC Uther)
Prompt 214: Dancing
A/N: I’m taking a break from the series I've been writing, but will continue it soon.
Arthur slammed the door to his chambers and leant against it. What had his father been thinking making Merlin his manservant?
Yes, the boy had saved his life and that would no doubt be worthy of a substantial reward in his father’s eyes, but not this.
Several deep breaths later, Arthur closed his eyes.
“Arthur?” called out his father from the other side of the door, his voice not at all reflective of its usual stern, angry cadence as he knocked on the door rather forcefully.
Arthur laughed. A bit too late for worry, wasn’t it? “What?” he said as he jerked the door open and stepped back, his chest heaving, his heart beating so fast and hard that he thought it might burst forth from his chest at any moment.
“I want to explain, Arthur,” his father said softly as he walked over to the table and sat in Arthur’s chair, looking at his son with a smug smile, knowing that his son disliked anyone else sitting in his chair.
Another laugh from Arthur, but this one verged on the hysterical. “What was that all about, father? You made Merlin my manservant! Are you punishing me? I know I’m a disappointment to you, but how could you be so cruel? Or is that what this is? Are you that disgusted with me that you want to flaunt it in my face that what I want you forbid me to have? I know you overheard Leon and me talking before he left yesterday, so you know that I can’t get Merlin out of my mind. Believe me, I’ve tried, but I can’t. So what, you decide to remind me daily of my failings? Well done, Father. Well done. I hope you’re proud of yourself.” Arthur swallowed and stared at his father, unsure if he really wanted to hear the feeble attempt at an acceptable explanation.
“You don’t understand, Arthur, I wa—”
“I don’t understand? Ha, What is there to understand? I like men. I like Merlin. You have forbidden me to speak of my wants ever again. So, no, forgive me, but I do not understand. Enlighten me, Father.”
Arthur felt so close to losing control of his emotions, but he wouldn’t. His father was the last person he would ever allow himself to appear weak before.
He had done it the one time, when he had told his father he wasn’t interested in women, and that harsh exchange had been so traumatic that Arthur had shut down and vowed that he was done with caring. He would go around and act like he was supposed to. He would do his duty. He would remain unhappy.
Arthur cleared his throat and saw his father sigh and open his mouth. To spout a lie, no doubt.
“Do you know what I miss the most about your mother, Arthur?” his father asked, standing and walking towards the window. He opened the shutters and looked out over Camelot. He settled his hands on the windowsill and bowed his head. Several seconds later he turned and looked at his son, who was looking at him as if he had grown another head. “I miss dancing with her. Holding her in my arms and dancing. Before you were born we would stand out on the balcony in each other’s arms, and dance. We barely moved, but that is what I miss. The feel of her in my arms. The smell of her. The sound of her breaths. The soft words whispered in my ear.”
Well, that was profound, Arthur mused. Probably the most his father had ever spoken to him about his mother. “Go on,” he said, hoping he sounded disinterested, even as he was about as opposite of that as one could be.
“Yes, I did overhear you and Leon yesterday, Arthur. I don’t pretend to understand how you can be attracted to a man; it makes no sense to me, but there was something you said that I do understand. Do you know of what I speak?”
Arthur went to sit in his chair and noticed that he could smell his father, whom he’d never even realised had a distinct scent, but he did.
After he had gathered his thoughts, Arthur forced himself to look into his father’s eyes. “I told Leon that I’ve been with many women and that many of them excited me and pleasured me beyond my expectations, but that only once have I been in close contact with someone and felt a oneness with them. I think I laughed and said something about being completely mental and said I wondered if Merlin would be a good dance partner. That bit?” Arthur deadpanned, curious as to what there was about that statement that had his father in such a mood.
“Yes, that bit,” Uther replied, sounding none too happy. “When you mentioned Merlin and dancing in the same sentence, Arthur, it jolted me awake and made me realise that this thing with you is real and isn’t going away. I don’t much like it and I still hope you’ll have a change of mind, but for now I want you to be happy, and if you think Merlin will make you happy, then that is what I want for you. As long as you and he are discreet, Son, you have my blessing,” and with that he stood and walked towards the door. “I know what it is to long for someone. Your mother is gone, Arthur, but the one who could make you happy might very well be here in Camelot. I don’t want you to miss a second of that,” and with that he left.
Arthur wasted no time calling for Merlin. He wouldn’t do anything this night; he didn’t want to frighten his servant before he got to do anything with him, but the mere fact that Merlin would be near was enough.
There would be time for dancing later.