Back in the hallway:
“So... that happened,” Merlin says, breaking the ice. Arthur turns to look at him, disbelief in his eyes.
“That’s all you have to say? You’re not going to prattle on about it like you usually would?”
Merlin sighs. He knows what happens next. Either he admits that he knew Gwaine was courting Percival and he sent the princess his way on purpose. Or he lies and risks Arthur not believing him. Both options result in an angry king.
“Merlin,” Arthur presses.
“Fine! Yes, I knew Gwaine was in love with Percival! And, yes! I sent the princess after Percival so he would get uncomfortable and Gwaine could swoop in and be a hero! And you can be mad at me all you want, but at least I got those two idiots to stop pining for each other! You can’t tell me that you were actually considering marrying that girl! I saved you from a lifetime of misery, so if anything, you should be thanking me-”
Merlin freezes. “Sorry.”
Arthur smiles and Merlin becomes very suspicious. He looks behind him, hoping there’s another reason the man in front of him seems to be happy. There’s no one else in the hallway but the two of them, so Merlin concludes that Arthur is delirious.
“Merlin, I was never considering marrying her. And you would know that if you actually listened to me once. She came here because she thought she could win over my heart and become the next queen of Camelot. The only reason I allowed it was because I didn’t want a war with her kingdom and...” Arthur huffs, looking away from Merlin.
“And my heart’s already been given to someone else,” Arthur grits out begrudgingly.
If it were any other moment, Merlin might’ve laughed at the notion of Arthur saying something so floral and heartfelt, but as it is not, Merlin feels like he’s going to lose his lunch. He nods his head somberly. “Gwen,” he mumbles.
Arthur’s eyes snap up and Merlin sees an emotion he can’t place. It looked like hope, but it couldn’t be.
“You’re an idiot.” Arthur says.
“Thank you, sire,” Merlin rolls his eyes, “Mind telling me what is was that I did this time?”
Arthur stalks toward Merlin and Merlin has to resist the urge to step back. He’s slammed into the wall and lips are on his before he can even react. Arthur’s lips hungrily ravish Merlin’s before he pulls back and starts kissing a trail down Merlin’s throat.
Merlin moans and the sound reverberates through the hallway, reminding him where they are and what they’re doing. He pushes Arthur off and glares. “Arthur, what do you think you’re doing?” He croaks.
“I’m not in love with Gwen, Merlin. She and Lancelot are better suited for each other anyway,” Arthur says, and Merlin thinks it’s not fair that his voice comes out even. “Merlin, my heart belongs to you.”
“This isn’t funny, Arthur.”
“Who’s laughing?” Arthur steps forward. “Let me show you I mean it,” Arthur pleads softly.
Merlin looks deep into Arthur’s eyes, searching for any sign Arthur might be messing with him, but all he finds is sincerity. Merlin nods hesitantly.
Arthur’s face lights up and Merlin can’t help but return his smile. “On one condition,” Merlin says.
“You give me a day off,” Merlin smirks.
Arthur barks a startled laugh. “I’ll think about it,” he says, which Merlin knows actually means “no,” but he’s sure he can find a way to convince Arthur they both need a day off. With the way Arthur is looking at him right now, it won’t take too much convincing. But then again, Arthur is a stubborn ass, it might take all night. Good thing Merlin doesn’t mind.