Today's prompt: Returning to an activity that you haven't done in days/months/years.
Dress the King
(Merlin, post-reunion, 445 words)
Merlin threw open the curtains, letting the morning light shine into the King’s chamber.
“Rise and Shine, Sire!” Merlin called, smiling. “Up and at ‘em!”
Arther groaned. Merlin smiled harder.
“I’ve got your breakfast,” Merlin said. “Let’s just get you dressed first.” While Arthur pulled himself out of bed, Merlin went over to the wardrobe and selected the King’s clothes for the day. A nice pair of trousers, a white dress shirt... Merlin thought of the chill in the air, and also selected something warm.
He handed the trousers to Arthur, who seemed to be still dazed enough to put them on without comment.
“The shirt now,” Merlin said, his voice oddly rough. Arthur stared at him, but dutifully let Merlin thread first one arm, and then the other through the sleeves of the white shirt. Merlin carefully pulled the shirt over Arthur’s shoulders and pulled it closed, hiding the broad chest from view. He did the buttons up slowly and carefully, starting with the second one down, so that the collar was left comfortably open, the way Arthur liked it.
Merlin’s fingers were shaking. It was the cold. The cold always made him a little clumsy. He gave Arthur an apologetic smile when Arthur frowned at him.
“It’s cold today,” Merlin said, reaching for the cardigan. “Arms out.”
“Arms out,” Merlin repeated.
Arthur leaned forward and held his arms out, allowing Merlin to pull the cardigan on over his head as he straightened. He carefully pulled the hem down to Arthur’s waist, adjusted the shoulders, and smoothed the material over the chest. He reached up and adjusted the collar of the dress-shirt, and then mustered the courage to look Arthur in the eye again, smiling for him.
Arthur was giving him a soft look. Merlin looked away, awkwardly patting Arthur on the shoulder.
“There, all dressed for the day, My Lord,” Merlin whispered.
But Arthur didn’t let him step away. Instead, Arthur hand came up to cup Merlin’s face, using his thumb to wipe the tears from Merlin’s cheek. Merlin choked on a sob and then he was being pulled tight against Arthur’s chest and held in place by strong arms.
“Merlin,” Arthur whispered into his ear. “It’s all right. Everything is all right now.”
Merlin felt old. He felt old and fragile. He felt as though if Arthur let go, he might be knocked apart by the slightest breeze – carried away on the wind like dust. Arthur squeezed him tighter. He found himself trembling, holding fistfuls of Arthur’s cardigan. Merlin had bought it nearly fifty years before because he thought the colour would bring out Arthur’s eyes... and it did.