Title: Arthur’s Dance Lesson
Summary: Merlin teaches Arthur to dance.
Warnings: Absolutely none!
A/N: I needed fluff in my life this weekend, so I wrote this. I might continue this as a series.
“What has you looking as if you’ve lost your favorite toy dragon, Merlin? I thought you’d be all happy. The dance tonight is for the servants. You get to forget all about me for the night whilst you go and do whatever it is that servants do when you get together,” said Arthur as he sat down beside Merlin and removed his boots and socks before stretching out his legs and feet. It had been a long day already, and it wasn't even noon. "Personally, I don’t know why Father agreed to this. I think it must be his new attitude since the... er..."
“The troll?” Merlin offered, laughter in his voice. ”Well, you really can’t blame him, can you? His pride was wounded, Arthur, and he’s attempting to show everyone that he’s not as aloof as the troll made him out to be.”
"Maybe, but he could have opened the dance to everyone.” Arthur then stood and walked behind the partition to change into his training clothes.
“Arthur's jealous," Merlin teased in a singsong voice. "You want to go dancing.” Merlin grinned like a Cheshire Cat. It was rare that Arthur wanted anything that Merlin had, so, yes, Merlin was more than a bit smug. Let Arthur get a taste of what it was to be on the outside for once. He stood and whistled as he walked over to the table, sat, and began polishing the silver goblet that he'd put on hold whilst he’d gone to help Gwen with preparations for the dance.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Merlin. I don’t even know how to dance,” replied Arthur incredulously, stepping out whilst tying his belt. “But it would be amusing to watch all the servants trying to dance. More specifically, you.” Arthur then waved his arms in the air and turned around, mimicking what he thought Merlin would look like when he attempted to dance. Then he stopped, looked at Merlin, and pointed his finger towards him. “If you’re as graceful on the dance floor as you are whilst on patrol or when I'm hunting, I have the utmost sympathy for the maids whose feet you will step on tonight.”
A glare was Merlin’s immediate reply, but he didn’t stop there. “For your information, Sire, I dance very well. My mother taught me. We had very little growing up, but she wanted me to know the finer things in life and she had learnt many dances as a small girl when her grandmother worked in a castle near Ealdor.”
Arthur laughed. “Oh, so you’re a dancer? Let’s see then. Show me what you can do,” said Arthur, a wicked grin on his face. “This, I have to see.”
“Well, okay, but it takes a minimum of two people, Arthur,” said Merlin, as if everyone should know that fact. “If you want to see me dance, then you’ll have to dance with me.” He gave Arthur his most innocent look. “Your call, Sire,” was said exaggeratedly as he stood from the table and bowed deeply in Arthur's direction before making his way to a part of the room where there was room enough for them to move around without bumping into anything. Merlin was having entirely too much fun with this.
It was quite obvious Arthur didn’t wish to do any such thing, and he nearly said as much, but when he saw no graceful way to back out of this farce, he reluctantly nodded his head, stood up straight, and stuck out his chest like a matador. He had never been one to back down from a challenge, and he certainly wouldn’t begin now.
A chuckle. Merlin shook his head. “You’re not trying to fight a bull, Arthur, you’re going to dance. So, what should we do? Oh, I know, let’s begin with a waltz. It’s probably the easiest dance there is, but, er, you have to get closer, Arthur,” and he watched Arthur take a few steps nearer him. “Closer,” and he motioned with his hand. A few more steps. “Closer.” Merlin knew he shouldn’t be laughing, but he couldn’t help it. Arthur looked completely defeated, as if he'd just been told his father had decided to make Morgana his heir.
“If I get any closer, Merlin, I’ll be in your arms." Arthur looked scandalized and as if the mere thought was akin to spending a day in the stocks.
Merlin rolled his eyes. “That’s the idea. Did you think we were going to do the reel with two people? Get with the program, Arthur. Who else is there to dance with?”
Arthur reluctantly stood as close to Merlin as he dared, which was entirely too close for his liking. He had been close to Merlin before, but he knew that this wasn’t the end of it. He had no idea how to dance, but he knew what two people dancing together looked like and he wasn’t looking forward to that bit. Or, perhaps he was and that was what bothered him. “Okay, what’s next?”
“First, you need to put your right hand on my left shoulder. Yes, well, okay, that's good, but a bit higher. Lower." Merlin sighed. "We don't have all day. There, perfect," and Merlin rewarded Arthur's lack of coordination with a patronizing smile.
“Okay, I think I have this first step down,” said a grinning Arthur, proud of himself, but he had to admit that he felt ridiculous, as well as some other emotion that he couldn't put a name to. He was actually beginning to enjoy this. “I'm ready for the next step.” Arthur, by this time, was breathing deeply. This dancing thing wasn't easy, and Merlin's mouth was much too close. If he moved just--
“Next, put your left arm out so I can hold on to it, like this,” and Merlin showed Arthur what to do. When Arthur did as he was told, Merlin continued. “Now, I rest my left hand on your right shoulder, like this,” and Merlin moved in closer. He immediately sensed Arthur’s unease and, as much as he didn't want to end this lesson, he didn’t want to make Arthur uncomfortable. “If you don’t want to see me dance, we can end this now. I’ve plenty of silver to polish, and you have your training to attend.”
"No, this is fine,” Arthur said hastily, unwilling to end this, and not completely sure why. “I have half an hour more before I'm needed." Arthur was as uncomfortable as he’d ever been, but it wasn’t all bad, in fact, he rather liked being in Merlin’s arms. Merlin was smaller in stature and fit into Arthur’s arms as if he were made to be there, a thought that caused Arthur to swallow. Where had that unwelcome idea come from? “Next?” he said tersely, trying to concentrate on his feet and arms, while ignoring his roiling insides.
Merlin proceeded to explain to Arthur what else to do and it only took them ten minutes to get the first three steps down. After several attempts, Merlin had to concede that Arthur wasn’t a born dancer, but he did eventually learn, and soon the two were gliding across Arthur’s room.
Merlin quite enjoyed being held by Arthur. He had long dreamt of such a thing, not quite in this way, but he wasn’t complaining. “Good, Sire,” then he pulled away. He couldn’t allow himself to get carried away. He had work to do. “If you want to continue this, perhaps I could teach you another dance tomorrow,” he said, hopeful.
“Yeah, we could do that after my morning training,” said Arthur, feeling the heat on his cheeks. This wasn’t at all good. He walked towards the door, but turned towards his servant, who he shouldn't be thinking about at all as he opened it. “I’ve got to go. Time for training.” He grinned and felt like a fool. Why was he acting like this and why didn’t he want to leave?
“Hey, Arthur?” Merlin said as Arthur was walking out the door. When he had the prince's attention, Merlin swallowed. “I could give you another lesson tonight. During the dance. I don’t fancy being around everyone. I'd rather teach you than dance with servants who are going to step on my feet all night.” After he finished, Merlin couldn’t believe he’d said that. It was the truth, but he knew his cheeks had to be glowing. What must Arthur think? And then Merlin wondered what he'd been thinking.
“You should go to the dance, Merlin. I know Gwen is looking forward to dancing with you, and I don’t think she would step on your feet," Arthur added, not entirely sure whether he wanted Merlin to go to the dance or not.
“You’re probably right, but, if we danced, all she’d do is talk about you, and if I'm going to have to hear about you, I’d rather it be from you,” Merlin said, hoping he sounded casual rather than as if his heart were about to burst forth from his chest.
Arthur shrugged his shoulders. “If you want to give up your one night of being free from me to be with me, then who am I to object?” was his droll reply, but he was suddenly feeling much happier. He hadn't been looking forward to this afternoon's training, but now he’d have something to look forward to afterwards. "See you at six,” and, with that, Arthur closed the door.
Merlin walked over to the table, sat down, and let out a shaky breath as he picked up the goblet and began polishing it again, but, this time he had a grin on his face and anticipation thrumming through his body. In seven hours he would once again be in Arthur’s arms. He looked towards the door and made a mental note to thank his mother for teaching him to dance.