Sorry about all the fuss about the last chapter! It seems like I wasn't the only one have problems, but they seem to be all sorted now! I've honestly been overwhelmed by the support for this story, there have only been 2 chapters guys! I love your enthusiasm so much, it keeps me writing! Anyway, more Merthur and Gwercival! There will be Gwancelot (is that even a thing, I dunno, maybe I made it up but you know what I mean) sometime soon don't you fret!
The events of the night before seemed all but forgotten when Arthur called his court to session the next morning. The king, his knights and his advisors sat around the table and discussed the day's business. They started with finances, something Arthur loathed sitting through, it was just a few old men reciting numbers that had little to no meaning to the young king. Next on the agenda were problems that specifically required the king's input; unrest and discontent within the kingdom.
A greying advisor of Arthur's by the name of Sir Broderick spoke up first, "It appears sire that there has been a crop failing in the eastern villages, an envoy arrived this morning pleading for aid."
Arthur always felt terrible during times like these, he had thrown a banquet just the night before and now he discovers that some of his people will be going hungry because of food shortages, it was a sobering thought.
"Give them as much grain as the city can spare, I shan't have my people starving, take some from the royal store, they need far more than I."
Broderick raised an eyebrow quizzically but scratched the order down wordlessly on the parchment in front of him.
"We have had a bought of tax evasion in the south and there have been reports of bandits in the nearby woods, would we be able to spare any men to help in that area sire?"
Arthur looked to his knights who in turn looked at each other.
"I'll go sire" Percival said, "Although I'm quite sure I won't be able to do it alone."
"Then I shall go with him." Gwaine spoke up, Percival smiled gently in acknowledgement, "I reckon the two of us should be enough."
"If you are certain, Broderick, Sir Percival and Sir Gwaine will see to the problems in the south."
Broderick nodded, scratching out Arthur's words again in his spidery handwriting that Arthur maintained was only legible to Broderick himself.
"The last piece of business to attend to concerns your announcement from yesterday evening sire."
The room went quiet, all eyes flicking between Broderick and Arthur.
"What about my announcement?"
Broderick narrowed his eyes, "It needs to be a point of discussion sire, the court wishes to input their thoughts on the matter before it is finalised and announced to the people."
Arthur pursed his lips and nodded, this was an obstacle he had not expected, "Go ahead Sir, but please bear in mind that it was my decision and I am a stubborn man."
Sir Leon covered a conspicuous laugh with a cough and Arthur smiled, there were a few men at least who would trust his judgement.
"If I may be permitted sire," Arthur nodded towards Sir Pendry, a beady eyed man with silver hair and a penchant for fine wine, a trait that manifested itself in the colour and bulbous shape of his nose, "I believe it is … misguided, even if he were not a man, which is incredibly displeasing as it stands, I would not advise such a drastic political move as marrying a servant! There will be uprisings and protests, the people will not like it my liege!"
A few of the other men muttered amongst themselves and nodded in agreement. Arthur felt the heat in his face rising, so their problem was not with Merlin himself but with his status within the court! He was expecting some rebuttal for Merlin's gender but he had never foreseen this ridiculousness.
"So what you are saying is that even if he were a woman you wouldn't approve purely because he's a servant? Does that mean that if he were a nobleman you would approve regardless of gender or are you bigoted in that sense as well?"
Pendry's face turned a hot beetroot to match his nose and his brow knitted together furiously, "I don't believe that is an appropriate statement sire, I was merely expressing my opinion."
"And I, sir, am just expressing my emotions, emotions that you have dubbed 'misguided'. Are there any other decisions that I have made today that you deem 'misguided' or is it just my choice of partner?"
The older man spluttered a little and shook his head vehemently.
"If you just got to know him the way I do, he can be a clot sometimes but he is intelligent, bright, cheerful, fiercely loyal and every now and then I look into his eyes and see wisdom beyond his years. He is always so selfless, willing to help anyone who needs it regardless of the cost to himself, he never once asks for thanks. He is a gifted physician, even Gaius says so, there is so much more to him than the manservant that you see!"
The room was quiet as Arthur realised he had raised his voice a considerable amount more than he had intended and judging by the looks on the faces around the table it was an outburst no one had been expecting.
Sir Evans cleared his throat, "Sire, if I may, it seems to me that the court may not approve of your betrothal, yet it is clear that you sincerely care for the boy and those feelings won't be dashed with ease." He gave Arthur a pointed look, "As you say, you are a stubborn man. I propose a trial period, you bring your betrothed to court, you share chambers, you go about your business as though you were married so that you can both have a chance to prove to the court that it will be a prosperous and advantageous union." Looking towards Pendry he continued, "I don't think anyone could oppose that."
Arthur's face softened as the council agreed with Evans' declaration, albeit reluctantly on the parts of Pendry and his cronies.
"It's settled then, the trial period shall be implemented as of tomorrow."
Broderick turned to Arthur, his gaze narrow, "Your Highness, would it not be proper for it to be implemented as of now? You may then take your betrothed into your chambers tonight, as I am quite sure you are anxious to do."
Arthur felt his face colour, he hadn't really thought about that. He had thought about it of course, there wasn't a day that went by when he didn't imagine Merlin in his chambers, but how would Merlin react to that? He was still under the impression that this whole thing was a charade, just a ploy to get out of a sticky situation. He had no idea that just watching him go about his daily business made Arthur's chest ache, every time he did something stupid he just wanted to laugh and smile and stroke his thumb over his cheek because it was so goddamn endearing. He swallowed thickly, he was just going to have to exercise some self-control, he had done it before, he could do it again. Maybe.
Percival smiled one of his private smiles, the corners of his mouth tugged ever so slightly upwards and a warmth filled his eyes, the only indication that he was beaming inside. This was a step in the right direction, if the council members accepted Merlin then they would have to change the law and there was nothing stopping him from holding his lover's hand, kissing him, being with him in a way that wouldn't have to be shameful or hidden. He had wanted this so desperately ever since he first accepted his feelings towards Gwaine had been more than platonic. They had fought together before they knew each other's names and while he had always had his size and his strength on his side Gwaine fought with passion and loyalty and most surprisingly a great deal of mirth. He laughed alongside him, lifting the spirits of the men and in the end it saved them all. It had started as admiration, Gwaine was a proud man with steadfast morals, never afraid to speak his mind and while he lacked tact a lot of the time he was always ready with a smile and a slap on the back. Then he had started to notice the shape of his mouth when he smiled, how his eyes grew brighter when he laughed, the way his nostrils flared when he was trying really hard to keep an inappropriate bought of laughter from bubbling over. He soon realised that he loved the way the light caught his hair, the way he practically danced when he fought, so graceful with a sword Percival often felt large and clumsy in comparison. Before he knew it Percival was head over heels in love with a man. It wasn't that he was perturbed by his gender, that was irrelevant, he had never been with a woman, he had never even been all that interested in women, it was the fact that this man was never going to love him back, because men just don't fall in love with other men. Then there was the night the knights had all got obscenely drunk in the common rooms.
"Ok, ok so you're saying she was her sister the whole time!" Elyan cried, Leon nodded frantically, struggling to breathe, his stomach aching from a solid half hour of laughter. Gwaine was in tears, leaning on Percival to support himself, "C'mon Perce, your turn, not that you can top that one, Leon you cad!"
Percival chuckled, "I don't have any stories."
Elyan looked at him incredulously, "Seriously?"
"Percy, mate, you have to have one, it doesn't even have to be funny." Gwaine nudged him with his elbow, "Just dirty."
"I've never been with a woman, I just never had any real connection with anyone."
Gawping, Leon leant forward, "Percival, you can't be serious, you're a virgin? Never had a fumble in a barn? You haven't even kissed a girl?"
He shook his head, he wasn't ashamed of it but he could still feel the colour rising in his cheeks, he had had a few opportunities of late but his heart was so wrapped up in Gwaine he couldn't fathom even touching a woman, let alone kissing her or … other things.
"I think it's admirable," Lancelot chimed in, "It might be all well and good for you guys to fuck whichever women you want and not think twice but Percival obviously has standards, he respects women."
Gwaine laughed, "Oh don't be so wet Lance! Life is too short! There is not enough love in the world, who are we to deny them love?" he swayed as he pointed a finger at the group, "Woah, things are swimming, is everything moving or is it just me?"
Elyan rolled his eyes, "It's just you Gwaine, I reckon you've had enough ale for one evening, Arthur is going to skin us if we are hungover tomorrow."
Gwaine staggered to his feet and stumbled forwards, Percival slid an arm supportively around his waist, taking his arm and hooking it over his shoulder, "Come on, I've got you, let's just take you back to your room, you can pass out there." He nodded towards the others, who nodded back in acknowledgement, "See you later, remember we've got that extra archery training Arthur planned." The other's groaned as he walked off with one arm securely under Gwaine.
"So have you really never kissed anyone?" Gwaine asked, slurring slightly as the last mug of ale set in, "I honestly can't believe that, just look at you! You have muscles the size of … of … really big muscles! And you have that stupid look on your face, yeah that one! Your big puppy eyes…"
Percival blushed again, "You are ridiculously drunk."
"Drunk or not it's sacrilege that you have never had a first kiss! It's just unfair." Gwaine replied, frowning in thought.
"Enough. We're here, just get into bed, you'll feel dreadful in the morning." Percival pushed the door open and sat Gwaine down on the bed.
"Wait," Gwaine grabbed his forearm as he turned to leave, pulling him down. Percival felt his pulse shoot up as Gwaine crushed his lips against his own. He couldn't help but run a hand through his dark curls, it felt just like he imagined. Gwaine tasted of ale but he smelt earthy and rich and Percival couldn't help but breathe it in.
"There, now you've been kissed."
Eeee I love writing Gwercival so much! Sometimes I think I love them more than Merlin and Arthur! Anyways I hope you enjoyed that!