when I'm really just a reclusive wanker (robot_sky) wrote in merlinxarthur,
when I'm really just a reclusive wanker
robot_sky
merlinxarthur

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fic: (wires/fingers) crossed

Title: (wires/fingers) crossed
Rating: PG
Warnings/Spoilers: a warning for typos.
Summary: {1878 words, somehow} In which Merlin is promoted, Gwen is upset, Morgana is lewd, and Arthur thinks he’s getting some free sexing. In response to joymaro's [Plot Bunny]. To recap:

"A Lord of the Bedchamber (also known as a Gentleman of the Bedchamber) was a courtier in the Royal Household of the King of the United Kingdom (and its predecessor states), the Prince of Wales and often a male consort. A Lord of the Bedchamber's duties consisted of assisting the King with his dressing, waiting on him when he ate in private, guarding access to him in his bedchamber and closet and providing companionship. The offices were in the gift of The Crown and were originally sworn by Royal Warrant directed to the Lord Chamberlain."

Slightly edited version of what I posted in the comments. I encourage those who actually have crack…talent to have a proper go at it, but so as not to waste my typing:



-



This is how it ends, or rather, how it begins:

“And do you, Merlin of Ealdor, accept your new position?”

“I do, Your Majesty,” replies Merlin, thinking absently that this sounded a lot like a wedding ceremony.

The irony won’t hit him until later.



--



"...so, I'm a 'Lord' now. Amazing, right?" Merlin tells Gwen excitedly.

"Er," she says eloquently. She looks up from folding one of Merlin's shirts. "So that's why you're moving rooms?"

Merlin nods and Gwen continues almost hesitantly, "This 'Lord of the Bedchamber' role. What would you actually...do? Because it sounds like. Well. I mean, I think I heard - although - it's just - of the bedchamber? What would it...involve, in the..." She swallows, "...bedchamber?"

"Probably a lot of things...in the bedchamber?" Merlin hazards, feeling a bit like he's missed something. It's not like Arthur was in the habit of dressing, eating, and sleeping in hallways or libraries or haystacks, so Merlin can't really imagine that many other places any of this would be happening. "As far as I can tell it's pretty much what I do already."

"Really?" Gwen squeaks, blushing for some reason.

"More or less," Merlin shrugs, shoving a crumpled wad of shirt in the basket beside Gwen's neatly folded ones. "I think I get paid more, though," he adds with a grin.

But Gwen doesn't meet his eyes or his smile. She smoothes her palm on the last of his shirts almost sadly, then snaps her gaze up to stare at him earnestly "And you're okay with this? Because, if you’re not…"

Merlin thinks. Same job, more pay, plus a slightly weird but still fancy title. "No, it’s okay."

"Oh," Gwen says, deflating. She stands up suddenly, "I think, I think that's everything packed. Um. Good luck, Merlin. I'll...I'll see you around, I guess."

She nearly trips in her haste to exit, and Merlin can only stare dumbly after her. After about a minute, he says to himself "....what just happened here?"

In the next room, Gaius sighs.


--


Merlin is lugging his basket up the halls to Arthur's chambers when he bumps in to Morgana. Not in the literal sense, unusually, but she does stop him in the hallway.

"Off to Arthur's bedchamber, then, Merlin?" she says, with a very rich smile, as though there is something intensely entertaining about the situation. She skims her fingernails over one of Merlin's shirts. "Mind you don't wear yourself out carrying these before your...duties commence."

Merlin smiles back, a bit nervously because he's never seen Morgana so amused and so smug before and he doesn't think he wants to know what brings it out in her. He ends up saying, somewhat superfluously, "So you've heard about it, my lady."

"That I have, Merlin. I must say I'm surprised Arthur himself didn't have it you promoted sooner."

"Well, you know Arthur," Merlin jokes, "Likes to keep his servants on their knees."

Morgana's eyebrows shot upwards. "I suspect you might know more about that than I do." It's a dramatic-exit kind of line: one of those Morgana favours and so she turns to sweep away, but Merlin's voice stops her.

"Wait - Lady Morgana, can I ask you something?" Merlin licks his lips and rushes, "About this Lord of the Bedchamber thing. There's nothing weird about it, is there? Gwen seemed to think there was something - I don't know."

Morgana appears to think about it. "Nothing...weird, no," she says slowly, "It is a very well respected position. And I imagine that, considering yours and Arthur's situation... there are various compensations involved."

I knew it, Merlin thinks gleefully, I do get paid more!


--



"You're late," is Arthur's greeting. He's already half undressed for the night, sitting on his bed -boots off and tossed to the side, cuffs unravelled.

"Sorry," Merlin says, backing through the doorway, "I was talking to Lady Morgana.” He glances around for a place to dump his basket. “Where should I put my clothes?"

"I don't care," Arthur mutters darkly into his shirt as he tugs it off. "Anywhere."

Merlin shrugs and kicks the basket to wedge in beside Arthur's wardrobe. It bangs against the wood and he thinks he sees a few mice run out, and glances back guiltily to check if Arthur noticed. But he isn't glaring like Merlin expected—he’s looking at him in that strange half-irritated half-wondering way that he has since the King announced Merlin's new role. There’s something oddly intimate about it and it make Merlin feel inexplicably embarrassed. He opens his mouth to ask Arthur about it when he notices that Arthur is pulling on his nightshirt by himself.

"Shouldn't I be doing that?" he asks.

"No." Arthur says emphatically, tugging his shirt on in one forceful movement. Merlin raises is eyebrows, and watches Arthur pinch the bridge of his nose. "Listen, Merlin. About you being my Lord of the Bedchamber. You don't have to do it, I can just explain to my father, and we can go back to how it was before."

"It's fine, Arthur," Merlin rolls his eyes a little. He is starting to get slightly suspicious again, but he reassures himself with Morgana's words. She wouldn't lie to him. "I already agreed. It's fine."

"Really," Arthur says deliberately, still looking sceptical but -oddly- vaguely pleased.

Merlin pretends to think about it. "Yes. Really."

Arthur just nods and turns back to his clothes. Merlin averts his eyes politely, and, looking around the chambers, notices something important.

"Arthur."

"Hmm?"

"...Where do I sleep?"

"What?"

"It's just, there's no bed."

Arthur does glare at him this time. "What am I sitting on then, a dog's liver? You sleep here."

"Oh," says Merlin. A beat, then, "Why?"

"What in God's name are you-- oh my god," Arthur breaks off, horrified. "You're being serious. You, you utter idiot. Do you have no idea what it means to be Lord of the Bedchamber?!"

Merlin is offended. He did have to sit there and listen to the whole spiel from Uther. "I help you dress, I wait on you, guard you in your bedchamber's -and for some reason your closet, though frankly I don't recommend you climb in there in the first place- and provide companionship."

"Provide companionship, Merlin," Arthur repeats slowly, as though speaking to an especially stupid child.

"Yes," Merlin says, equally slowly.

Arthur looks at the bed meaningfully, then back at Merlin.

Merlin stares at him.

Arthur stares back.

Merlin looks at the bed.

Arthur raises his eyebrows.

Merlin blinks.

"Oh," he says. Then, with a yelp, "Oh my God! Is that -- oh my God! Why didn't anyone say anything?!"

"How did you not realise?" Arthur exclaims, "This is beyond mental affliction!"

Merlin thinks back rather desperately to his conversations with Gwen and Morgana. "I just thought it was a title. Why does everybody here speak in euphemisms? How am I supposed to know what they mean?"

"Well, Merlin," Arthur grits, "I suspect they are attempting to be delicate with a matter they politely and clearly misguidedly think you aren't so stupid as not to understand!"

By this point Arthur has gotten up and is seething a foot away from Merlin. Merlin tenses himself for a fight, but Arthur just scrubs a hand over his face and sighs wearily. “Never mind. I’ll tell my father in the morning, you can… go back to your old rooms for tonight. And on your way there, try not to accept any station based on… how neat you think its name, without finding out what it actually entails.” He sighs again as though for effect. Merlin watches the shadow of Arthur’s shirt on his neck, and feels a kind of realisation begins to grow in him.

“I didn’t know,” Merlin says slowly.

“We’ve established that—” Arthur rolls his eyes, but Merlin isn’t finished.

“I didn’t know,” Merlin repeats, “But you did.”

Arthur’s mouth snaps shut, and he swallows. Merlin’s mind is racing— everything he has been noticing over the past months but hasn’t been acknowledging, hasn’t really given any thought— all the times Arthur has put his life on the line for him, all the journeys, all private moments, all the hunts, the banter, the quiet conversations under starry skies, the smiles, the laughs. When was it, he wonders, that he and Arthur began to spend so much time together, even when it wasn’t out of duty? When did Arthur start to listen to him, really listen to him, and start taking his advice? When did Arthur start looking at him that way, like he was amazed and delighted and wretched all at once?

“Arthur,” Merlin says gently. Arthur does something convoluted with his neck to avoid meeting Merlin’s eyes. “Arthur, do you—”

“Yes,” Arthur snaps, but his attempt to look stern is rather spoiled by his heavy flush. “And ha ha ha, it’s all very funny to you I’m sure. But can we just forget about it, you go back to your rooms, I’ll talk to father, and by tomorrow it’ll all be back to normal.” He pushes past Merlin and fumbles with the bolt on the door.

Merlin stays his hand. “Arthur. I don’t want you to demote me.”

Arthur sighs, “Merlin, you don’t have to — Don’t think I want you to do this out of pity, or of obligation.”

“Stop being so melodramatic,” Merlin says irritably. “Just as you said, I found out what the station entailed. And, I accept.” He licks his lips, suddenly nervous. He hasn’t misinterpreted this again, has he?

Arthur stares at him as though if he does it hard enough, Merlin’s thoughts will suddenly become transcribed on his forehead. “Are you sure.”

Merlin thinks of chalices and dragons and labyrinths and flowers and destiny and windstorms and lakes. He thinks of the way Arthur’s hair sticks up at the back in the mornings, the way he shows all his top teeth when he smiles, the way he always orders too much food and pretends he has no choice but to share with Merlin. He thinks of Arthur, the prince, the knight, steady on horseback and assured in battle. Of Arthur, the man, a frown between his eyes at every execution, smiling softly at every woman who reminds him of the mother he never had. Arthur, who not only accepted him, but had looked him dead on and sworn in blood to protect Merlin and his secret.

“I’m sure,” he says solemnly. Then he grins wide and breathless.

Arthur pretends to mull this over for all two seconds. He shrugs, “Good enough,” then grabs Merlin by the scarf and kisses him.


--


Later:

Merlin blinks lazily at the canopy. “That wasn’t so bad.”

“Oh?” Arthur says, amused.

“Yeah. I could get used to that.”

“Good. Now go to sleep.”

Merlin obligingly starts to doze off when memory strikes him like a cold punch to the gut. His eyes snap open.

“Arthur?” he asks anxiously, “I do get paid more, don’t I?”

“What? No. Who on earth told you that?”

Merlin opens his mouth to say Morgana did, then closes it again when he realises forcefully that she most likely didn’t.

A pause.

“Bugger.”




--


Even later:


“…do I hear… mice?”

“…”

Merlin.”

“Just go back to sleep, Arthur.”







Tags: contributor: robot_sky, fanfic, genre: crack, genre: humour, rating: pg
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