In an hour he’d be King. A whole kingdom, all the gold and treasure in Camelot and the love of all his people but there is something he can never have.
His eyes meet with Merlin’s as he straightens the shoulders of his ceremonial chainmail. For the first time in a few days he doesn’t feel like the metal was the weight of the world.
“How does it look?” Arthur asked, eyebrows raised, waiting for the inevitable bad joke or witty taunt.
“Fit for a King.” A slightly goofy smile crept up on Merlin’s face and Arthur couldn’t help but smile, shaking his head as he did so.
“If only all I needed to do was look good...”
“That is all you do.” He muttered to himself as he fetched the red tunic, emblazed with the Pendragon crest. It felt thicker than anything he’d ever worn but then most of Arthur clothes were.
“I beg your pardon?” Arthur asked slightly tense, he couldn’t see Merlin’s face, was he serious or was he smirking with sarcasm? Was he, himself, over thinking one tiny remark? When Merlin turned around he was smiling but in good humour, almost impossible to read anything into it.
“Hey, is it my fault if you can’t take a compliment? Arms up.” He gestured, pulling the tunic over Arthur’s head.
“Was that even a compliment?” His voice muffled because the struggle with the tunic was unintentionally suffocating him.
“I’m sure there was one in there somewhere...I think it’s stuck”
“You really are hopeless, aren’t you?” He winced as Merlin tried pulling it harder. “Oh, for the love of...Just let it go, Merlin!”
Merlin let go and took a step back, watching with envy as Arthur pulled it down in one tug, making it look easy.
“You’d think that now I’m expected to be rule, I’d get a better servant.”
“I gather you haven’ found one yet seeing as I still have to dress you. Maybe I should find a better job?” Arthur could see that he was biting his tongue in an effort not to laugh.
“You don’t have to dress me, you know.”
“Does that mean you get me to dress you for your own enjoyment?”
“Does that mean you actually do it for your own enjoyment?”
They stared at each other for a second, waiting for the other to crack. Merlin broke first, leaning on the bed post while he laughed. Arthur couldn’t stop himself from watching the colour raise in his cheeks.
“See, why would you ever want another servant?” Merlin asked, still laughing.
“I wouldn’t.” He sighed, he would never be able to let go of him, despite his inability to serve him in any way that could be considered useful. “You’re still dismissed now though. I really do have to get ready and you’re being, not surprisingly, counterproductive.”
“Alright.” He nodded and left. “Let me know if you can’t find your socks.” He said poking his head back round the door for the barest of seconds.
“Out.” Arthur rolled his eyes and contemplated throwing his socks at him.
In the next hour he’d be given everything he should want but something he could never have left him standing there, staring at the door.