It was Gwaine’s fault, obviously. But the swashbuckling knight was more inclined to blame his ale.
His grand idea started early in the day when he saw Elyan glancing unhappily at Gwen. The two were fighting--again. Ever since he’d come back to Camelot, the knight and his sister had been getting into squabbles, bickering about old arguments and who was the more responsible sibling (Gwen, obviously). Elyan, for his part, looked repentant enough when he was alone, but couldn’t keep his mouth shut to apologize properly when he ran into Gwen. Honestly, men!
They needed to make up, and after a few drinks in the tavern, Gwaine had the perfect idea of how to do it.
So, Gwaine pushed both siblings into the nearest closet he could find, locked it, and sauntered off, whistling his favorite drinking song. He’d come back in an hour or two and everything would be better.
“I’m such a genius,” he preened, ignoring the angry shouts from the broom cupboard.
It turns out locking a brother and sister in a dark, cramped space does produce results. Of a violent nature, of course. By the time Gwaine got back, Elyan had a red slap mark on his face and walked with a limp, but Gwen was looking pretty satisfied.
“So, what was eating you two anyway?” he asked happily, still walking a little unsteadily.
“Oh, nothing,” Gwen said sweetly, “I just needed Elyan to see sense… but don’t think I’ve forgiven you Gwaine.”
Yeesh, if looks could kill. If Gwaine hadn’t been so hammered, he would’ve felt threatened.
But as it turned out, he was too busy finding more people to lock in closets to care too much.
A week after the first closet incident Merlin managed to tick off Arthur again. Or Arthur had annoyed Merlin first, depending on who you talked to (Arthur or Merlin) but the result was the same. And while occasionally watching the king get insulted by skinny little Merlin was fun, this time it felt serious.
A burglar got in, stole Arthur’s keys, and took some swirly thing from the treasury. To make matters worse, Merlin had probably helped him do it. Gwaine went to see Arthur, as a matter of course, and tell him that if he touched a hair on Merlin’s head he’d find himself without one. But the king was more irritated than angry.
“There’s such a thing as being too kind-hearted,” he grumbled after Gwaine got a few drinks in him, “that thief probably gave him some sob story about starving children, so of course Merlin had to give him the keys to the whole bloody vaults! I swear if he ever does that again…”
Gwaine pursed his lips and waited for the inevitable death threat, but the king just grumbled something about it being ridiculous and sipped more wine.
Huh, so Arthur wasn’t too mad. He just thought Merlin was insane. Granted, that wouldn’t make Merlin too happy, but currently, the poor man thought he was going to be banished for treason. They really needed to talk uninterrupted.
Gwaine grinned; he knew a perfect place for that.
Merlin could yell louder, but Arthur could probably break the door down with brute force. Tricky, but there was more than one closet in Camelot.
Gwaine lured them downstairs with reports of a certain burglar, and when the two avenging angels rushed forward, he tripped Arthur and sent them flying into the vault. Once it was locked properly he decided to give them privacy and joined a dice game the guards were playing a few corridors away.
When he let them out an hour later (and much richer) both of them were mad, but only at him. Gwaine got put on night shifts for a week, but it was worth it when he saw that the idiots were friends again.
Sadly, his third attempt did not go so well. Gwaine knew he got drunk, but he never reached the limit of ridiculousness some people (Merlin) did after a few drinks. So, it was his guess that there was something a bit stronger in the mead that night, otherwise, he wouldn’t have locked himself into the closet along with Percival and Leon.
Originally, he’d meant to put the redhead and the giant together to work out some argument they had--something about how to season chicken?--but the details were too fuzzy now. He couldn’t remember if that’s even what they were nannering about… or if they were even fighting at all, to be honest. And now they were stuck in a small, smelly closet.
“Gwaine,” Percival said, squished into the corner, “when we get out I’m going to kill you.”
“Excellent idea,” Leon nodded, his foot in a mop bucket, “pin him down and I’ll help.”
“Hee hee,” Gwaine hiccuped, starting to feel a little queasy, “see, you’re already friends again. It worked--ooh, that doesn’t feel good. Guys, I think I need some water.”
In the end, they got out, but it took a few days for either of the knights to talk to him again.
To make up for his last failure, Gwaine decided to play matchmaker to redeem himself. And out of all the couples in the palace, Arthur and Gwen needed the most help.
“Think you can convince Gwen to come to the east corridor this morning?” Gwaine asked Merlin while he was polishing armor.
Merlin looked up and narrowed his eyes. Gwaine’s exploits were starting to get well known, and if he recalled, the east corridor had its fair share of closets.
“Why…?” he asked.
“Because of that,” he said, jerking his head toward a lovestruck Arthur pretending not to care that Gwen was trying to ignore him a few feet away. Morgana, somehow caught in the middle, looking bemused and ready to throttle both of them. A similar mood to Merlin and Gwaine’s, if not all of Camelot.
“Oh, that ,” Merlin said, scrunching his face, “sure, I’ll manage. What time did you say?”
And so the king of Camelot proposed to his true love in a broom cupboard. It was the only way they could convince Gwaine, and the half dozen other eavesdroppers, to let them out.
Feeling pretty good about himself, Gwaine decided to help other couples along too, using his ‘standard method’ of course. It became a kind of fad for a while; it was all great fun (even if Gwaine occasionally forgot to let people out) and he prided himself on creating a legacy for future generations. Especially since the tradition involved stuffing arrogant nobles into dirty closets.
And that was all well and good until he decided to mess with Morgana.
It didn’t take an idiot to see how she looked at Merlin. And Merlin, for his part, seemed to notice her back. But neither of them made a move on the other, and that was incredibly frustrating. Even when there were insidious plots threatening the kingdom, the two of them never had a desperate confession or unexpected kiss. More often than not, one of them got injured in the ensuing conflict and spent the next couple weeks tormenting the other. It made Arthur and Gwen’s years of flirting look downright melodramatic. If Gwaine didn’t do something soon, Merlin and Morgana would probably end up friend zoning each other!
One cold, winter morning he made his move.
“So, Gwaine, what did you need again?” Merlin yawned, rubbing his eyes. “It’s super early, and I need to get Arthur’s breakfast, so it better be quick.”
“Oh, it might be quick,” Gwaine said, bouncing on his heels, “but it depends.”
Merlin realized they were in front of a broom closet, and frowned.
“Gwaine… you don’t have anyone in there, do you?” he asked.
An angry hammering answered for him.
“Don’t worry, I’ll let you out!” he told them, then turned back to Gwaine. “Am I helping you avoid getting beaten up again?”
“Nah, this is better,” Gwaine said happily, putting an arm on Merlin’s shoulder. “Just remember to invite me to the wedding.”
“Wha--huh?” Merlin blinked, but too late. Gwaine flung the door open and shoved the manservant inside. A quick squeak and some swearing meant that he landed on Morgana. Good, that’d speed things up.
Gwaine locked the door and walked off, whistling happily. He’d come back in two minutes for phase two; man, this was fun!
Meanwhile, Merlin and Morgana were not so optimistic. It wasn’t as if they hadn’t been gazing intensely at each other for months, but that was mostly because they wanted the other dead.
“You mean he locked us in here because he thinks we’re in love ?” Morgana shuddered, “that’s disgusting!”
“I know,” Merlin agreed, “like I’d ever make eyes at a soul-sucking traitor anyway.”
“Says the poisoner.”
“Touche. Can you use magic to get out? I’m pretty busy today.”
“Sure. I’d rather not kill you right now anyway since Gwaine would know it was me.”
“Depends how you play your cards,” Merlin shrugged, “you could always say I protected you from a psychotic butcher, of died of a broken heart when you rejected me.”
“No, still too suspicious. And once I start killing the knights I’ll need a lot of alibis.”
“Thanks for the hot tip,” he said drily. Great, another plot to squash. “Now, are you going to use that handy lock picking spell, or what?”
“Of course,” Morgana sniffed, shoving past him for the door, “... you know Merlin, if you’re so paranoid about me, you could just kill me right now.”
“With what, the mop?” Merlin snorted, “besides, I have the same problem as you; a witness.”
“Yeah, well Gwaine would cover for you, and you’re so clumsy he’d probably believe it if you said it was an accident.”
“Hmm, you’re right. In that case--"
“Wait!” Morgana hissed, putting her ear to the door. “Can you hear that?”
Merlin pressed his ear to the wood. There was some murmuring… people talking?
“I bet ten coins that they kiss!” he heard Gwaine say, “come on, do I have a taker?”
Morgana had stopped breathing and Merlin felt his eye twitch in irritation. Gwaine might have been having fun, but this was too much.
He turned to Morgana; her eyes were downright murderous.
“You know, I can take a joke,” he said calmly, “but they’ve gone too far.”
“Truce?” she hissed.
“Yeah,” Merlin agreed, “just until we get back at Gwaine and whoever he invited, anyway.”
Someone--who sounded suspiciously like Arthur--took the ten coin bet. Then Leon muttered something to the king, and Arthur raised it.
“Oh, this is going to be fun,” Morgana growled, stretching her fingers.
“Oh yes,” Merlin agreed. “Fun, fun, fun.”