Due to work rules, I have to go to the doctor today and get a note excusing me from work for having the plague. On the upside, there's no chest congestion, which is yay, as I have been a totally paranoid person and spending a lot of time coughing as much as possible to test this. For anyone who has had pneumonia and the doctor gave you a torture device to breathe with and then cough copiously, you remember this horror, but it's not nearly that bad. On the downside, head congestion is like walking around with lead sewn into my cheekbones and head and a headache that is like an analogy for the hugeness of the Titanic--or perhaps Australia?--and I have no intention of actually thinking up an adequate analogy so just deal.
So. Being miserable and sick, I want attention and basically, I will take it any way I can get it. Snippet below cut. It's a dumb snippet. But I am sick and it made me laugh myself into easy coughing fits to imagine it, so there you go. Dedicated to shinetheway for her life-saving porn ficlets. This is not porn. Which you will see, is the entire problem.
Merlin's found, over time, that there's a relatively predictable pattern to Arthur's bad days, and all of them start with special, deeply familial midday meals with Uther and Morgana. Merlin doesn't even need to guess anymore; when the kitchen tells him they are setting three plates and they don't have visiting courtiers, Merlin knows he's doomed and plans accordingly.
Which is why he's ready, more or less, when he's summoned to Arthur's chambers at nearly midnight, because after the joy that was their afternoon together (fell off horse, fell over due to sword, fell down the stairs carrying armor; basically, Arthur's bad days are also Merlin's bruised days), their evening (he didn't have to duck a thrown dagger or a bottle of ale, but that's about all he can say for it), Arthur won't hesitate to let him escape any more prince/manservant bonding time for anything as ridiculous as sleep.
Merlin reserves the right to be an ass about it, though, pushing open the door and staring resentfully at Arthur, who is camped out in front of the hearth in nothing but his unlaced shirt and trousers, with three skins of wine and a wide, brilliant smile.
Predictable, yes. Merlin closes the door. "I'm not that funny when I'm drunk."
Arthur grins at him winningly. "Yes, you really are."
This is how it goes wrong. Arthur blames society.
"Oh my God," Morgana says, and Arthur lifts his head and regards with no favor the swell of her chest only a few inches above his face. Morgana is not to be faced before breakfast. Or ever, really. "Arthur!"
Arthur reaches for a pillow and finds something terribly un-pillow-like. In fact, it feels a great deal like skin.
"I had--" Morgana, for a wonder, turns a hideous shade of red, backing up a step and actually stumbling. "How long?"
The skin-covered pillow moans and says, "Please, sire, next time, I'll do it without wine, I swear," and Arthur thinks Merlin and wine and fuck as Merlin rolls over and collapses across his back. Swallowing, Arthur tries to decide between vomiting and going back to sleep in hopes this is all a bad dream.
Hope wins. "Later, Morgana," Arthur manages with dignity intact, reaching for an (actual) pillow and covering his head, while Merlin's breath puffs against the back of his neck and he says, "Yes, later. Very sore now."
This cannot end well.
Merlin wakes up to Arthur sitting up (naked) and staring at the floor (he's naked) with an expression somewhere between epic homicide and hilarity (while naked). This is never what anyone sane calls a good sign; Arthur lacks a reasonable sense of humor and finds the oddest and most inappropriate things amusing.
(But naked and Merlin admits, to himself if no one else, his own patience with Arthur grows in inverse proportion to how much he's wearing. Merlin's agreed to many terrifying things when Arthur's bathing. Many things.)
"Sire?" he starts, then realizes that the sheets feel so very good against his naked skin because he's naked as well. Closing his eyes, Merlin reaches for a pillow and covers his head. "Later?"
Arthur drops back on the bed beside him and nearly crawls under him with a sigh. "Yes, please."
Here's what they know: they did not have sex. But no one will ever believe it.
"Merlin, you can't stay in here forever," Arthur argues, though his heart's not in it. Staring at the sun (well above the horizon, which will only add to the entire horror), Arthur stares hatefully at the wineskins and thinks of horrible purges of winesellers throughout the world for their foul discovery of what happens when grapes sit too long in large casks.
"I'm not going out there again," Merlin states, stealing half of Arthur's very late breakfast with the shell-shocked look of someone who was questioned gently about consent and willingness by Morgana for an entire hour in the dining hall and then even more gently questioned by Gaius on whether Arthur had been--had been-- "I can't face another inquiry on my virtue, Arthur. It's not happening. It's not."
Arthur sighs and picks at the bread and cheese and says, "Gaius asked me if I was gentle," Arthur says, staring at the wall. "After you ran away. And if there was bleeding."
Merlin says, "Why isn't there a purge of winesellers?"
Merlin drops his head on the table. "No one will ever believe us. Ever."
Arthur picks up a knife and wonders if falling on it would be such a bad idea. "My father did compliment me on the efficiency of using my staff for dual purposes," Arthur says, and this time, he doesn't even feel like crying. "One who cannot get pregnant."
Merlin lifts his head miserably. "Gwen complimented me on bagging a prince."
Arthur nods thoughtfully. "More wine?"
Merlin nods gratefully. "Please, yes."
Which is how the entire rumor started. How it became true...well, that's a different story entirely.
shinetheway and I are snippeting here on what happens next. Feel free to add if you wish. And no, this is not a desperate and transparent plea for entertainment for the afternoon. Except you know, it totally is.