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written for this kinkme_merlin prompt: Arthur/Merlin
You know those stories where, for whatever reason, someone's friends/family decide to pay someone else to date their friend? Merlin's friends decide to do that, and they choose to pay Arthur to go out with Merlin.
Except Arthur tells Merlin what they did as soon as he sees him.
The two of them still go out (they could have had feelings for each other before, or just hang out and have the feelings develop) and basically put on a show for Merlin's friends. And when one of said friends eventually lets it slip that they paid Arthur to date Merlin, the couple has already rehearsed the dramatic argument that they will have before finally telling their friends that Merlin knew their plan all along.
Bonus for using the whole "At first it was just the money, but I totally fell for you for reals" cliche during the 'reveal'.