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[personal profile] maja_li
Title: Cinnamon Boy
Pairing: Merlin/Arthur
Rating: G
Warnings: Shmoop, massive historical innacuracy (I'm sure)
Word count: ~700
Disclaimer: These conceptions of Merlin and Arthur belong to the BBC, etc. Not me.
Summary: A feast and a dance and a different kind of magic.
A/N: Written because of the lovely madness going on over at [ profile] the_cinnacult , where the accompanying song can be found.

Torches smoldered in their sconces along the stone walls of Camelot's banquet hall. The Midwinter feast had been devoured, the long tables cleared away, and now the hot, mulled cider and wine flowed ever more freely as the castle's residents took to the dance floor. Merlin watched from the safety of a scantly-lit corner as his Prince took turn after turn across the polished flagstones, each time with a different lady on his arm: now a duchess, now the daughter of a knight, now a comely serving girl liberated by the indulgence of the holiday. Even Gwen was coaxed to his side for a lively farandole, whirling resplendent in one of Morgana's "cast-off" gowns (barely worn, and suspiciously well-fitting for a dress designed, in theory, for a woman several inches taller and of rather different proportions than Gwen).

Indeed, Arthur's energy seemed boundless—which was why Merlin should not have been at all surprised when the prince approached him well into the evening and held out an imperious hand.

"Come on, then," he said, cheeks flushed with exertion or drink or both. When Merlin hesitated, confused, Arthur scowled. "What are you waiting for?"

"Erm. You to tell me what you want?" Merlin tried uncertainly. He'd had an uncommon urge to drink that evening—every time he'd watched Arthur dancing, in fact, and it must have been that just the thought of prancing about so was enough to make Merlin thirsty—and was feeling somewhat less than keen.

Arthur rolled his eyes.

"Merlin. Even you can't possibly be this thick."


"I want you," Arthur enunciated carefully, pointing at Merlin, "to come dance," flapping a hand at the capering court, "with me." He jabbed his thumb into his own chest.

"What, now?"

"Oh, for—" Arthur gave up. "Come here!" He snatched the goblet out of Merlin's right hand, tossed it over his shoulder, and made to haul his manservant bodily out into the crowd. Merlin balked—or tried to, rather, because ten months of using magic to fetch Arthur's bathwater had nothing on ten years of daily combat training and all Merlin accomplished was to make Arthur yank his arm even harder. Unsurprisingly, he stumbled and wound up sprawled against Arthur's chest, clutching at the prince's jerkin and encircled by his arms.

"Well. That's better," Arthur said, setting Merlin more firmly on his feet and moving his left hand from Merlin's waist to take Merlin's right hand. The troubadours struck up a strange, uneven-sounding introduction. "Now, put your hand on my shoulder—" Merlin obeyed without thinking, which was really getting to be a bad habit when he was in such close proximity to Arthur, "—and off we go!"


Merlin had no choice but to cling desperately to Arthur as the prince whirled him around the hall, the swift triple-beat of their steps beating a dizzying tattoo into Merlin's skull.

"Arthur—I don't feel so good," he whispered weakly, the small sane part of him trying at least to avoid unnecessary attention. "What are you even doing?"

"Some new heathen thing from Saxony," Arthur shrugged, grinning carelessly. "Father's making me learn it so I can dance with the ambassador's daughter when they come to treat in the spring—but I've got the hang of it already, don't you think?" Arthur raised his arm and sent Merlin into an elaborate twirl that left him disoriented and grabbing at Arthur's shoulder for stability. "There, you're not so bad yourself."

"Are you sure this is supposed to work like this?" Merlin groaned.

"Hush. Stop fighting it." Never slowing in his movement, Arthur leaned in and rested his forehead against Merlin's. "You can even close your eyes. Just—trust me."

And what else could Merlin do? He closed his eyes.

Without the visual distraction of the spinning hall, Merlin felt steadier. It was easy to let Arthur guide him, to let Arthur's warm presence enfold him. Merlin breathed deeply—in-two-three, out-two-three—and smelled the sweet wine and mulling spices on Arthur's breath: oranges and allspice from the Indies, cloves and rare cinnamon from Ceylon. Then, as if by magic, just like magic, like a spell suspended on the tips of his fingers, all of it—Arthur and Merlin and the strange music-in-three—slotted into place.

And they danced.
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June 2016


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