Wow! Two one-shots in one day! I've impressed myself!
Has anyone seen the preview for the Nanny McPhee Returns movie? What is Mordred doing on a farm?
UNMASK THE NIGHT
Prince Merlin tugged at his sleeve for the thousandth time, trying to fit it just right. Once he was satisfied, he reached to the small table beside him and grabbed his pearly silver mask that seemed to shine with its own light. Fixing it on his face, he turned back to the full-length mirror and did a quick once-over. His midnight blue jacket fit him well over his finest black tunic, and his charcoal pants fell loosely around his legs. Grinning, the young prince hurried out of the guest chambers and sprinted down the long hallways. The castle of Camelot was not his own home, and he feared getting lost, especially since he was already late.
The raven-haired man skidded to a halt and whirled around.
"Dad!" He beamed as he saw his father, King Balinor, striding toward him. His smile was almost larger than Merlin's as he approached his son.
"We're late," Merlin said sheepishly. Balinor gave a booming laugh. "Like father, like son!"
Together, they hustled to the Grand Hall, where the masquerade was taking place.
Before they could enter, a guard called, "Hail to King Balinor, and his son Prince Merlin!"
The crowd cheered and clapped. A loud clanging from the front of the hall drew everyone's attention to the three nobles sitting in their thrones. King Uther sat in the middle, holding a goblet in one hand, and a spoon in the other, having just used the spoon to hit the goblet.
How very cliché, Merlin thought.
To the King's left sat his ward, Lady Morgana, dressed in a gorgeous deep purple gown, with a golden necklace and intricate gold mask to match. To the King's right sat his son, Prince Arthur. He wore a bright red jacket and black trousers much like Merlin's own. His gold mask matched his blonde hair, which Merlin found attractive. Actually, Merlin thought all of him was quite handsome.
"I'd like to thank you all for attending this ball, to honor the Lady Morgana's twenty-second birthday!" Uther said. Everyone cheered some more. "I'd like to add special thanks," he continued, "to King Balinor, and his son Merlin, for traveling all the way from their kingdom Avalon to attend the celebration." More clapping ensued, and Merlin found himself blushing slightly as everyone turned to smile. At a cue from Uther, the music started and people paired off into couples to dance. A young girl with coffee-colored skin strode by and began talking to the Lady Morgana, who was now standing amongst a group of admiring noble men.
A tap on his shoulder drew his attention away from the beautiful woman, and he turned around, coming face-to-face with Prince Arthur. His sky blue eyes took Merlin's breath away and it took him a moment to realize he was being spoken to.
"I'm sorry?" he said politely.
"I'm Arthur Pendragon," the blonde man said, holding out a hand. "Merlin Emrys," said Merlin as he grasped the hand. He almost gasped as sparks of pleasure jumped up his arm. Arthur seemed to experience the same sensation, and he pulled away quickly. Coughing awkwardly, he said, "I'd like to thank you for attending the party."
Merlin smiled. "Of course, how could I refuse?"
Now Arthur was smiling. Realizing they were staring at each other, they quickly turned their gazes to the other couples on the dance floor.
"So," Merlin said, trying to fill the silence. "Have you found your future queen?"
Arthur visibly tensed. "My father has been trying to set me up, but I haven't found the right one yet, if you know what I mean." Merlin nodded. He knew Uther to be much stricter than his own father, and could only imagine the pressure he was putting on Arthur. Balinor was quite the opposite. He didn't push woman after woman on him. But this was mostly because when Merlin was a teenager he had told his father that he was gay (which lucky for him Balinor had accepted). Merlin had discovered this when one day he suddenly found he had feelings for his childhood friend Will. Will returned the feelings, but only after a month of their new relationship, Will had been brutally killed defending Merlin from an ambush while on a walk through the woods. Tears sprang to his eyes as he recalled his friend's last words.
"Merlin…Merlin I'm scared."
"Don't be, Will, it's going to be alright," Merlin tried his best to sound confident, but inside his heart was stabbing itself repeatedly in a suicide attempt.
And then he was gone. Just like that. His best friend and lover. And he knew the hole in his heart would never be filled.
The brunette snapped out of his daze to find Arthur a mere few inches from his face, his lovely blue eyes filled with concern which melted Merlin's heart.
"Are you OK?" the blonde prince asked.
Merlin nodded quickly—he hated dumping his problems on other people. Arthur stared at him skeptically, but didn't comment.
Merlin's mind went back to wandering. Alright, he'd admit it; he was beginning to have feelings for Arthur. Would it really be that bad, though? They were both meant to rule a kingdom someday, and if they married, then that would be two kingdoms!
Whoa, Merlin thought. Marry? I want to marry him now? I only just met him!
Arthur was staring at him again, with something akin to amusement and concern.
"You alright?" he asked.
Merlin nodded again, thanking the dim lighting to hide his flushed cheeks.
A few moments later, the music changed to something much slower, and Arthur glanced at Merlin to find him looking back expectantly.
Clearing his throat, Arthur said, "May I have this dance?"
Merlin's chest tightened and he couldn't keep the grin from his face. "Sure," he whispered.
Taking Arthur's arm, he allowed himself to be led into the throng, people parting to make way for the two princes. They began to waltz, never taking their eyes off each other, even if Merlin did stumble every now and then.
"Just my luck," Arthur said, "I had to pick the clumsiest person here to dance with!"
Merlin stuck his tongue out childishly, and Arthur laughed. Merlin's heart swelled.
By now there was a ring around them as people pointed and admired the couple. Merlin suddenly blushed and pointed this out to Arthur, who only squeezed his hand and smiled reassuringly. "Just follow my lead," he whispered. Merlin did, and they gracefully swept their way across the dance floor, spinning and twirling like a pair of figure-skaters. As the song began to end, Arthur ended with dipping Merlin low to the floor, which earned a good laugh from him. Around them people applauded and returned to their own dancing as another song began.
Completely oblivious to the rest of the world, Arthur leisurely pulled Merlin back to his feet, never breaking eye-contact. Merlin's rosy cheeks only grew darker as Arthur kept his hand in his. Smirking, Arthur led Merlin through the crowd, out the double doors, and into the hall, ignoring the stares of other nobles.
Once he had Merlin around the corner of another hall, he attacked his soft pink lips. Merlin was surprised at first, and it took him a moment to realize what was happening. As soon as he did though, he kissed back with equal ferocity, moaning at the feel of Arthur's chapped lips against his own. Arthur broke off to remove their masks, and then swept back in for another kiss.
"Merlin," Arthur murmured softly. "I think I'm in love with you. I know this sounds girly, but suddenly I feel like I've found my other half. There's no other way to put it."
Merlin sighed dreamily and delivered a short, sweet kiss. "I think I love you too."
Maybe his heart could be whole again.
Back in the throne room, King Uther and Kind Balinor grinned at each other.
"Our plan worked!" Uther congratulated. "I knew our sons would be perfect for each other. Now when they take over they will surely expand our empires throughout all of Albion!"
Balinor smiled happily. "I'm just happy they've both finally found someone."
They clinked goblets.
"To Albion!" said Uther.
"To true love!" said Balinor as the same time.
They glared at each other.
Not totally proud of this one, but I had to get it off my chest. I'll actually probably end up rewriting it. Oh well.