Shut Me Up
Merlin could only take Arthur telling him to shut up so many times. He had endured the prat's taunts for nearly a decade now, but the irritation from having his speech cut off with those two words caused him great annoyance.
The first time it had happened, Merlin had passed it off as Arthur's nerves getting to him while he was readying himself for the tournament. He had been teasing him about why he wasn't more jumpy, and perhaps he had struck a nerve when he said, "Really? I thought everyone got nervous."
It had mostly been his fault that Arthur had practically yelled, "Will you shut up!" right in his face.
Sometimes, though, Arthur's words were fond, despite the fact that the underlying order was clear. "Shut up, Merlin," he had said once, when Merlin was in the process of reasoning with him that it would be perfectly fine to have Lady Sophia in the room next to his, given that his intentions towards her were 'perfectly honourable'. Or that time when he had confessed his feelings for Gwen to Merlin by the river, and that had been his fault, really, if he were perfectly honest with himself. Arthur had always been sensitive about his emotions, so he really did have it coming that time. Arthur would sometimes even accompany his "shut up" with a friendly shove, and when he did that the phrase always lost its sting.
There had only been two times where Arthur saying "shut up" had really hurt Merlin's feelings. The first time had been when he had completely dismissed him in favour of that lying good-for-nothing bootlicker, Cedric. To this day, Merlin could still not fathom just how he had randomly fallen asleep in the stables, and on top of a pile of horse dung, too. Cedric had stood aside, all smug and confident, suggesting that Merlin had been slacking off, that he wasn't as good a servant as Cedric himself could be. It had infuriated Merlin to no end, and if he had had his way he would have thrown that snobbish man with the unruly hair and too-large moustache against the wall in a flash. He had only barely kept his magic in control, but had lashed out with his sharp tongue instead, making the whole situation worse by calling Arthur a clotpole (where had that word come from, anyway? It seemed to have appeared up in his head out of nowhere), and had had to cool himself off in Gaius' chambers while Cedric tended to Arthur for the rest of the afternoon. It had not been one of his better days.
And the second time, well… that was now. Merlin normally only got angry when people offended him three times in rapid succession, but combined with all the other times Arthur had told him to shut up, and him not having deserved any of those times at all, this more than made up for it.
"Of course. Absolutely. Not a problem. Whatever needs doing," he replied, with as much sarcasm as he could muster, knowing what was coming.
"Could you… please… shut up." Though the unusually polite 'please' threw Merlin off a little, it was not a genuine plea for Merlin to close his mouth. It was an order. And that just made him even angrier.
Before he could get a hold of himself, the words burst out of his mouth. "I'd like to see you try. So make me."
Arthur froze from where he had been walking away from Merlin, and after a long, pregnant pause, slowly turned around to look at him. Normally when this happened, Merlin would immediately apologise for his insolence or try to smile in the hopes that Arthur would pass it off as a joke, but his rage was boiling over in his head and consuming his mind, so he just stood there in the corridor with his fists clenched, glaring defiantly back at the king.
"Is that a challenge, Merlin?" Arthur said, his voice soft, but dangerous at the same time.
"Y-yes." It was only now that Merlin realised what he had just said, and he was beginning to dearly regret his actions. Arthur's eyes were burning into him, and it was frankly quite scary.
(It was also turning him on, just a little. But there was no way in hell Merlin was going to admit that.)
"I'm sorry," said Arthur, not sounding very sorry at all. "I understand that my actions have caused you some distress. Would you care to explain your sudden outburst?"
Merlin opened his mouth, then closed it again. He wasn't sure if there was anything he could say that could quell the obvious anger that was showing in Arthur's face. He decided to take a risk and go for light sarcasm again. "Yes, I can do that," he said quickly, his words running together in his haste. "Of course I can. That's not a prob – "
Merlin fell silent.
He shut up for a full three and a half minutes before letting out a shuddering gasp that echoed all the way down the corridor. Grinning triumphantly, Arthur stepped back and sauntered away with a spring in his step that had surely been absent before.
Merlin stood alone in the corridor, with his back and the palms of his hand pressed against the cold stone wall. No one else apart from himself was there, but had anyone passed him by, they would have noticed his completely stunned expression, as well as the fact that he was breathing very heavily, panting gulps of breath that would point towards him having a very recent shortage of oxygen. His pupils had dilated, making his eyes darken several shades, the blue barely visible any longer. A pink flush had crept into his cheeks as well, colouring the pale skin until it turned bright red.
Then, slowly, ever so slowly, Merlin's hand reached up and touched his own lips, where Arthur's had been only seconds before. He closed his eyes.
It seemed that Arthur had found an effective way to shut up his manservant at last.
This was a fun one to write. It was based off another fanart by OrangeMouse based on the idea of Merlin saying, "make me," when Arthur told him to shut up. Hope you liked it, and tell me what you think! Said fanart can be found as the cover image for this story.