Merlin has no idea why Arthur thinks it’s a good idea for his boyfriend to meet his esteemed father by way of family dinner on a Sunday, but, for some inexplicable reason, Merlin agrees and here they are.
Except…Arthur had forgotten to mention that his half-sister Morgana would be there, along with his father’s girlfriend, Catrina (though in his defense, he looked surprised himself to see her sitting at the table too).
As Merlin is served the first course of soup by a servant (an actual servant in these times!) he feels himself being looked over by both Uther and Catrina.
Neither one of them had been very welcoming, but Merlin is sort of used to that, so he takes it in stride.
To compensate, Arthur sits beside him, and has a hand on his knee under the table…it’s still insanely awkward though.
“You said you’re going into the Arts program…is that right?” Uther sounds a bit disgusted by that, but at least he’s pretending to show a little interest, so Merlin answers him as politely as he can.
“Yes sir, I’ve switched degrees a few times, but I think that I finally fit in best with the Arts program…it’s quite enjoyable.”
Uther nods, taking a sip of his sparkling water, “Arthur didn’t even try to explore the Arts, he jumped straight into the lawyer program at the Institute.”
He sounds very proud of that fact, so Merlin won’t spoil it by telling him that his son is rubbish at anything else that doesn’t involve verbal or physical fighting.
“He’s very good at what he does,” Merlin tries for, stirring his spoon around in his soup, a little too nervous to eat anything properly.
Catrina raises a brow from where she’s sitting next to Uther, “becoming a lawyer will provide him with a good job,” she looks at Merlin as though he is scum, “what will you be doing with your program?”
Merlin opens his mouth to say something--anything, when Arthur cuts in smoothly, setting down his drinking glass gently, “Merlin’s managed for the band Camelot in the past, and he’s also quite the artist. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone hunted him down just for his past work.”
Morgana, from where she had been secretly texting across the table, looks up at that, adding in swiftly, “yes, Merlin’s very good at what he does…I’m surprised that the Camelot boys’ let him go without more of a fight.”
Uther’s eyes are shining now, “and why, exactly, did you leave ‘Camelot’ behind then?” He’s careful not to speak Merlin’s name as though it’s a curse of some sort.
Arthur looks ready to jump to his defense again, but Merlin quickly puts in his own words.
“My mother was sick sir, I had to quit so that I could take care of her properly…her illness had been going on for a few months, and it just kept getting worse. I found a replacement for the band then so that I could leave them in safe hands.” He smile softly at that, thinking of Freya and how nervous she had been to accept the position at first.
Catrina looked annoyed at his words, her lips pursed, but Uther is looking at him seriously, his hands spread out on the table.
“To care for one’s family is one of the noblest causes,” he says, eyes all but gleaming in the dim lighting of the dining room. “I’ve always taught Arthur that without family there is practically nothing in the world, and I’m glad to see that he took those lessons to heart.” When he tied himself with you, are the unspoken words.
Merlin feels a flush on his skin, a bit embarrassed to be called out like that, even if it was over something good.
“Thank you sir,” he mutters instead, looking back down at the bowl in front of him.
Silence meets his response, but that’s alright, because now everyone feels as sufficiently awkward as Merlin does…
After two more courses (which are too delicious to seem real, and probably cost more than Merlin’s whole wardrobe to make) everyone makes an escape from the dining room and go their separate ways.
Morgana flees to the sanctuary of her own bedroom, which Merlin had only been in once before; while Catrina and Uther go off together down a hallway that leads to heavens knows where.
Arthur leads Merlin up to his own room, obviously anxious for them to be alone.
Arthur’s room seems to be bigger than Merlin’s whole house, and looks like someone bathed it in blood before sticking sports posters all over the drying mess.
Arthur flops down on the red and golden duvet on his bed that reminds Merlin of Harry Potter, while Merlin glances around the room.
He’s only been in here once before, the same time he saw Morgana’s room, and that was to wait for Arthur to change out of his sweaty gym clothes and into some proper ones so that they could go see Camelot perform.
Now that he has time to look around, Merlin decides he likes what he sees.
He had always imagined Arthur’s room to be cold feeling and barren, but instead, the room is filled with personality and warmth, something that Merlin is beginning to associate with his boyfriend.
“Sorry about Catrina,” Arthur says from his spot in the middle of the queen sized bed, “she can be a real bitch sometimes.”
Merlin shrugs, going to sit on the foot of the bed near his boyfriend, “it’s alright. I’ve dealt with people like that before.”
Arthur looks up at him sweetly, pouting as he crosses his arms to put his head on them, “yeah, but she’s hateful to nearly everyone. The only one she likes is that ridiculous cat of hers, Jonas.”
Merlin had met Jonas just minutes before dinner actually; the pesky thing had tried to escape outside when Merlin first entered the room. The hairless cat had nearly knocked over a vase in his attempts to get away, and had hissed violently at both Arthur and Merlin before whipping its tail at them in departure.
Merlin sighs, reaching up to run his fingers through Arthur’s downy soft hair, “she seems to like your father.”
Arthur snorts at that, “she likes his money, alright.”
Merlin rolls his eyes, “your family seems to attract a lot of people like that.”
Arthur nudges himself closer so that he’s pressed up against Merlin’s side, “it’s not my fault that my family has impeccable genes that make us irresistible.”
Merlin laughs at that, tilting his head back, “right, of course your Highness, I forgot. Pendragons’ are the best. At everything.”
Arthur smiles, eyes closed, “good. Now that you know it, don’t forget it.”
Merlin hums in response at that, letting his fingers run down to scratch gently at Arthur’s neck, making the other man shiver in response.
“Do you think he liked me?” Merlin finally asks, a bit worried about the answer.
Arthur grumbles, “he certainly likes you better than he likes some of his own family, if his reactions were anything to go by. Hell, this first introduction with you was better than when Morgana brought Gwen home the first time.”
Merlin glances down at him, “what happened then?”
Arthur smirks, blinking his eyes open to observe him as he speaks, “Father came home from a date with Catrina one night to find Gwen and Morgana in the living room, taking up the whole couch as they made out. Father was furious!” He grins at that, as though he’s happy about his sister’s bad fortune.
“He wouldn’t speak to Morgana for about a week, and she with him, since he nearly threw Gwen out of the house. Then, he got over it, and demanded to meet Gwen…he liked her once she came out of her shell and actually talked back to him.”
Merlin raises both of his brows, “that…sounds like something that would only happen to Morgana and Gwen.”
Arthur laughs, rolling over so that he’s now on his back, looking up at Merlin with an arm tucked under his head, acting as a makeshift pillow.
“I think you two will get along,” Arthur tells him, “once you get to know him, and once he gets to know the real you too.”
Merlin shoves at him, “careful, you might jinx us that way!”
Arthur chuckles at him and moves so that his other arm is positioned around Merlin’s waist, holding him close.
“I’m glad you came tonight Merlin.”
Merlin leans back on his forearms, still looking at his boyfriend, “surprisingly, so am I.”
Arthur grins at him, and that’s that…