Title: Ties That Bind
Fandom: Merlin (bbc)
Disclaimer: I do not own
Summary: When Merlin saves a young boy from would-be-kidnappers, he unknowingly starts the course of events that lead him to meet the boy's father, Arthur, who has played a painful part in changing Merlin's familiy's life in the past.
And he looked again.
He even rubbed his eyes just to make sure that he was seeing things correctly.
He blinked. No way.
Gaping, Merlin looked up at the elegant sign that read Albion Fashions.
Arthur was in the fashion business.
It was shocking to the core.
It shook all the fundamental views he'd had of the blonde.
Merlin was still in a daze as Lancelot led him through doorkeepers and buzzers, and offices full of people who looked skinnier than him, and then to the front desk where a very pretty blonde was finding it hard to type due to her long nails. She'd grinned lasciviously at Lancelot, buzzing him into the office which had the sign: Arthur Pendragon, Founder. Dear gods
Inside, Arthur and Will both sported black eyes and snarls, each in separate corners of the room seeming to want nothing more than another excuse to throw themselves at each other and end the other's existence.
Merlin looked around the office in utter shock.
Lancelot cleared his throat. "Sire..."
"Will you get this---!" Arthur choked as he shot up from his seat, eyes wide in horror. "Merlin
Merlin finally turned his attention on the blonde, who was gazing at him with wide-eyed terror. "I thought you were a spy."
"I beg your pardon?" Arthur scoffed, looking a mixture of intrigued, surprised, and horrified.
"Or someone from the mafia." Merlin admitted, turning to get a better view of the amazing office. "And porno director did cross my mind once. And, well, to be honest, a porno star."
A very entertaining choking sound came from Arthur.
"I never would have guessed you were in the fashion industry." Merlin finally turned back to look at his friend.
"He's the designer of the Albion Fashions Line." Will was quick to announce.
"Shut the hell up!" Arthur snapped at him before turning to Merlin. "Now, Merlin, I know that---."
"Brilliant!" Merlin grinned, going to sit down on the plush sofa against the left wall. "This is bloody brilliant!" He chuckled as he rested his feet against the coffee table in front of the sofa and cupped his hands behind his head. "Why on earth did you keep this a secret for so long?
Arthur was just frozen, looking at him. "Are you...serious?"
"Why wouldn't I be? You design clothes!" Merlin grinned. "Thats a much better scenario than all the ones I came up with thanks to your stupid secrecy!"
Arthur sat back down on his seat and covered his face with his hands. "I can't bloody believe this."
"I know!" Merlin chuckled, looking around hims in awe. "This is awesome, Arthur!"
The blonde slowly tore his hands from his face and gazed at Merlin, frowning. "You really don't think that me being a fashion designer is...weird?"
"Why would I? You create art, like me. If anything I have a new appreciation for you." Merlin chuckled, turning towards the blonde, smile large and silly on his face. "I might make you design some costumes for my characters sometimes...oh, and halloween costumes? That's all on your plate now, mate."
Arthur just blinked, looking at Merlin as if he had just grown a second head.
It didn't phase the lithe male in the least bit as he got up to get a better look at some pictures on the wall. "Are these...you?"
Arthur stood, face suspiciously red. "Uhm, they're nothing. They---."
"He modeled for years before designing his own clothes line." Will answered, apparently knowing everything about Arthur.
Merlin couldn't help but feel a little envy.
He wanted to know these things about Arthur as well.
Why hadn't the blonde felt he could trust Merlin with these details about his life?
"Oy! What are you? My Unofficial Biography?" Arthur snapped at Will before heading towards Merlin and clearing his throat, hands clasped behind his back as he too looked at the many black and white, and colored, pictures taken in his youth form photo shoots to pictures taken on the runway. "Despite what my father is in the magical world, Merlin, his position in this world is much more shady."
Merlin turned to look at him in surprise at that.
"You would somewhat consider him the Godfather of London." Arthur took in a deep breath. "It's nothing as extreme as the movies, I'll tell you, but he has a tight control thanks to his money. He owns Parliament, practically, they all owe him ridiculous amounts of money, and well, growing up I was expected to follow in the line of business." Arthur made up his face. "I rebelled out of high school, and as a punishment my father cut me off, left me destitute." His eyes hardened. "Up until then I'd lived off of him, and it was a shock, but I was quickly scouted by a talent agent and I became a model. It was relatively easy work, and I got paid unbelievably well."
Merlin tore his gaze from the pictures to look at Arthur. "Is that how you met Morgause? I remember her being obsessed with fashion, was always pissy that I didn't take more pride in how I dressed."
"I like how you dress." Arthur surprised him by saying, before he cleared his throat and looked away. "But yes, that was how I met Morgause. I should have known better. People who...people from this part of my life seem to have me under one stereotype or the other, and they're never genuine, Merlin. People only see the pounds in my bank account, I couldn't trust anyone around me to be sincere." Arthur sighed, finally turning to look at the slightly taller man. "When you met me, that wasn't the first time Mordred had been involved in a near kidnapping, and it wasn't the first time orchestrated by someone who was supposed to be of trust either."
Merlin's eyes widened as suddenly everything about Arthur's attitude that night started making terrible sense.
"I couldn't understand you, Merlin." Arthur chuckled, shaking his head. "Not only were you hopelessly noble, suspiciously so, but you didn't seem to know who I was." There was a pause. "Do you know how rare it was to find someone who had no idea about who I was? Who didn't have any preconceived ideas about me and my family either because of my line of work or because of my father?" He sighed. "You were a breath of fresh air. You still are. Merlin."
The dark haired man looked at the blonde in shock.
He hadn't realized...
"I didn't want that to change, or for your impressions of me to be corrupted by others and..." Arthur sighed. "You have no idea how relieved I was to hear you say what you just did."
Merlin shook his head at Arthur and grinned. "Look, I don't know what kind of people you associate with because of your work, but when you get home its a different story, you know that."
Arthur smiled. "Yes, I do."
Will cleared his throat.
Merlin looked away, back at the pictures.
Arthur shot Will an ugly look.
Lancelot grabbed Will by the back of his shirt's neck, holding back when the guy would have gone towards Arthur. "We'll escort ourselves out." And with that he dragging a scowling Will out of the room.
"Good riddance." Arthur huffed.
Merlin snorted in amusement before leaving Arthur's side to go to his desk, browsing nosily through the papers on the desk.
They were designs.
"Wow." He held up one of the papers. "This is good."
"Of course it is, Merlin." Arthur scoffed as he joined him. "I did
design it you know."
Smiling, glad to see Arthur back to his old self, Merlin continued looking through the designs.
After the first nine, he started picking up a pattern.
He turned to look at Arthur, realizing that the blonde had been watching him with a smile.
Not sure why he felt embarrassed all of a sudden, he cleared his throat and looked down at the papers once more. "These look like things the kids would wear."
"You noticed." Arthur's voice was incredibly pleased. "They're my three newest lines, Fairy Princess, Wicked Lil' Witch, and Knight Errant. This is the second phase of them, each inspired by one of the children and their unique tastes."
Merlin couldn't believe what he was hearing.
"The first is doing well, incredibly so, especially in Baby Hollywood." Arthur sounded haughty, yet there was that glint in his eyes, eyeing Merlin expectantly. "Suri Cruise and Violet Affleck have both fallen in love with the Fairy Princess line, Zahara Jolie-Pitt enjoys Wicked Lil' Witch, and from what I hear, Kingston Stefani-Rossdale, Maddox Jolie-Pitt and others are enjoying Knight Errant."
Merlin turned to look back at the pictures. "I'm impressed."
"Of course you are." And yet there was contentedness in that voice. "You want some lunch?"
Merlin shook his head. "Thanks but Lancelot made me something before we came here."
Some of the contentedness melted from that face. "Oh he did, did he?"
"Yeah." Merlin nodded, not sure why that'd seemed to bother Arthur so much.
"He sure seems very dedicated to your every need, don't you think?"
"He's my protector, it's his job."
"No, his job is to make sure some asshole sorcerer doesn't hurt you." Arthur's eyes narrowed. "Otherwise he's supposed to stay in the background, not make himself an integral part of your life."
"He's human too, Arthur. Why would I treat him like that?"
"Because he's just a bodyguard!"
"He's not just a bodyguard!" Merlin snapped back.
Arthur's eyes suddenly darkened. "Oh, really?"
"Really." Merlin narrowed his eyes, resisting the urge to take a step back when Arthur took a couple of menacing steps towards him.
is he?" Arthur wanted to know.
"He's a friend." Merlin stressed, not understanding what was going on.
"I don't know, from the first time I saw you two together you seemed a lot
closer than friends should be." Arthur seemed dangerous. "You sure there's nothing you want to tell me, Merlin? Maybe about your sexuality
Merlin's eyes widened in shock. What
And then he remembered what Lancelot had told him about Arthur and Will.
If he thought for one second that Merlin might in some way be attracted to men...
...not that he was!
But still he felt unholy fear as he looked into those angry eyes.
But he couldn't back down.
not." He snapped, pushing Arthur away. "And just so you know, another reason I came here today was to tell you that I have a date tonight, with a woman
, and you're going to have to be home early for once!"
Instead of calming Arthur, as he'd thought it would, those words just made those eyes darken.
"Yes. A date." Merlin replied, not understanding anything.
"Who is she?" Arthur pulled away, face closed up. "Do I know her?" He paused, eyes narrowing. "Is it Nimueh?"
"Nimueh?" Merlin blinked in surprise. "No it's not---why would you think it was Nimueh?"
"No reason." Arthur went around the desk to sit down in his chair. "Well, I know how hard it is for you to find a date, Merlin." He replied, clasping his hands over his chest. "I'll be home early. And please, bring her home so she can meet your family."
Not exactly sure why that sounded so odd, Merlin nodded and left the office, wondering who in the world he was going to get for a date on such short notice.
?!?!" Sophia shrieked in horror.
Freya nodded, worry obvious on her face as she finished telling her brother and sister about the vision she'd just received of the argument between their parents. "He said he was going out with some woman
"This isn't good." Mordred's eyes narrowed. "We need to do something about this right away."
has gotten past my radar?" Sophia hissed, anger and disbelief visible in her features. "If it isn't Nimueh, then who could have slipped under the radar and gotten close to dad without me finding out and dealing with her?!?!"
"She must be very good." Freya worried. "Dad hasn't gone out on a date since...ever
"He's goes out on dates with papa all the time." Sophia snorted.
"It's not like he realizes that." Mordred countered.
Sophia pouted. "You have a point there."
Freya hugged herself, close to tears. "What are we going to do? If some woman
comes along and takes daddy away, he and papa aren't going to be together anymore and we won't be together and..."
"Frey, calm down." Mordred placed an arm around the shaking girl. "That's not going to happen."
"Exactly." Sophia raised her chin. "Because I have a plan."
Freya and Mordred's eyes widened. "The
plan." Sophia's grin was somewhat evil as she nodded. "Soldiers, take your positions on the battlefield, it's time to go to war."