The night was dark and the king of Camelot and his loyal manservant were playing a game of dice in The Rising Sun tavern. Their amused knights have gathered around them to watch, together with their fellow citizens.
The king and his manservant were at it for a long time, and the servant kept on winning his king’s money.
“Ha!” Merlin exclaimed as he gathered his newly earned coins and put the dice into the cup again, ready for another round.
“There’s no disgrace for a servant to lose to his king,” Arthur reminded him.
But Merlin was far too excited to give in. “Or a king to a servant!”
A few more rounds later, the game was over and the king and his manservant left the tavern to go back to the king’s royal chambers, the servant’s sack of money a little heavier. Once the door was closed, Arthur turned to Merlin.
“You know, it’s really not fair that you use magic to win all the rounds.”
Merlin faked a gasp. “Me? Use magic to win? I’d never dare, sire.”
Arthur rolled his eyes. “It was obvious you were using it. Not to mention careless! You know that I haven’t legalized the practice of magic yet, so don’t make me change my mind.”
Merlin smiled apologetically and put his hand on Arthur’s shoulder soothingly. “Ok, I’m sorry, I’ll be more careful.”
Arthur refused to look him in the face. “Thanks,” he mumbled.
Then, Merlin’s eyes brightened with an idea. “How about this? We play the game again and this time I swear I won’t use magic to win, okay?”
Arthur’s lips formed a little smile. He looked up at his friend and nodded. “Alright. But I start.”
Merlin went to fetch Arthur’s empty goblet from the table and Arthur found his two old dice in one of his drawers in the meantime. A moment later, they were both sitting at the table, facing each other, Merlin handing Arthur the goblet.
“Good luck, my lord,” Merlin grinned.
“Oh, shut up.”
Arthur put the dice in the goblet, closed it with his palm and started shaking. He didn’t take his eyes off of Merlin for one second as he dropped the dice on the table and said, “eight.”
They both looked down at the dice and - to Arthur’s disappointment - they landed on a four and a three. Seven, then.
“Better luck next time, maybe,” Merlin told him. Arthur crossed his arms on his chest and leaned back in his chair, watching Merlin closely.
Merlin gathered the dice, put them in the goblet and started shaking. He locked his eyes with Arthur, a small but anxious smile on his lips. Then he cast them and said, “eight.”
The dice landed on two and six. Merlin’s smile grew while Arthur’s shoulders slumped. He groaned loudly, hoping that the guards outside his chambers didn’t hear him, and looked at the dice again. Merlin wasn’t using magic, he watched him the entire time, and yet he won. Life wasn’t fair.
“Remember, there’s no disgrace for the king to lose to his serv-”
“Will you shut up?”
“Sorry, I guess I’m just talented.”
Arthur sighed. “It’s a game of chance , Mer lin.”
Merlin picked up the dice and put them in the goblet, casting it aside. Then he stood up and rounded the table to stand closer to Arthur. Arthur looked up at him.
“Okay, I’ve got an idea. I’ll stop using magic in games when I play with you, I swear it. And since it’s a game of chance, one day you’re bound to win. Would you like that?”
Arthur frowned. “I accept your proposal, but please don’t talk to me like that, I’m not a hurt puppy for you to comfort.”
Merlin pursed his lips. “Sorry.” He then put both his hands on Arthur’s shoulders and waited for Arthur to fully turn towards him. Then he leaned down and kissed him on the lips.
“Did that make you feel better?”
Arthur licked his lips in thought and then looked up. “Maybe try again?”
Merlin smiled and leaned down for another kiss, this time accompanied by Arthur’s hands on his hips. Soon after that, they abandoned the table and went to play in the bed instead.
The night was dark and the game of dice lay forgotten on the table, and the king of Camelot and his manservant were lying in each other’s arms in the bed, breathing softly, lost in dreams.