Summary:Five time Arthur broke Merlin’s heart and one time he mended it
Author's Notes:alafaye, I hope you'll like what I did with your prompt! Thanks to the mods for organising this exchange!
Disclaimer:Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.
Merlin was working late that day, as the bookshop needed to be ready for a signing session organised the next day.
When his phone vibrated, signalling an incoming message, he didn’t look at it immediately as he finished setting up the window display.
He only looked at it an hour later as he picked his phone before leaving the shop.
Merlin, I think I’m in love! <3
Arthur never used smileys. Merlin heart broke like he had all the other times Arthur had met someone. He didn’t reply before the next morning. He need to gather up his courage before faking to be happy for his best friend.
Arthur was coming to Merlin’s childhood home for Christmas like he had in the past years. Uther, Arthur’s dad, thought Christmas dinner was a useless decadence and always worked on the 25th December.
That year, Arthur had said he would come accompanied. It was the first time he’d bring his girlfriend to the Christmas dinner and Merlin knew what it meant. She was the one.
What was left of Merlin’s heart was shattered to dust when he finally met her. Gwen was perfect. Beautiful in a unique way, gentle, sweet though she had a wicked sense of humour. Merlin couldn’t even dislike her.
If Hunith saw the sad smile on his son’s face as Arthur and Gwen exchanged their gifts she didn’t say anything.
As the months went by, Merlin tried to distance himself from Arthur and Gwen. Seeing them so happy was hurting too much. That’s when he met Percival. A gentle and shy guy who, for a few weeks at least helped him forget how broken and sad he felt.
It didn’t last, though as Merlin still couldn’t get over Arthur.
It was a few days after his break-up with Percival that Merlin heart broke once more. He was in town, doing some shopping for his mother birthday when he saw them. Gwen and a man he didn’t know, sitting at a table outside a small coffee. They were talking animatedly, smiling and laughing. It was probably an old friend of her, Merlin thought. His idea was soon proven wrong as he saw the man trying to kiss Gwen. Gwen turned him down but Merlin saw in her eyes that she was attracted by the man in front of her.
Merlin’s first thought went to Arthur… He was so in love. He had even talked about living with Gwen and about their shared future. From what Merlin had seen, Gwen wasn’t cheating on him but the way she looked at the man clearly showed her affection for him.
Merlin spent the next weeks hesitating to tell the truth to Arthur though he couldn’t bear to be the one to broke his heart.
In the end, Gwen confessed to Arthur. She had met Lancelot through her work and she was attracted to him. That night, Arthur phoned Merlin. Merlin guessed why he was calling him and answered. They talked for hours. Arthur was heartbroken and Merlin came back to help him. It was his duty as a friend.
Arthur had booked some holiday for Gwen and him and ended inviting Merlin to accompany him.
They went to Sicily. It was wonderful. The sun, the beautiful landscape, the food… For two weeks, Merlin forgot everything and just enjoyed the moments he spent with his friend.
It hurt, too. Being so close to Arthur, alone together, so far from their homes and their jobs… Merlin couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like if they were together, on a romantic holiday…
Coming back to England was hard. Merlin and Arthur went back to their everyday life and, after his Sicilian break, Arthur was determined to start anew… Which meant he went out every weekend and brought back a new girl every week.
Each message telling Merlin about his last encounter was like a knife in Merlin’s chest. Though, Merlin always answered.
The last straw came when Arthur told Merlin he was thinking of accepting his father offer to go to New York as a supervisor for the setting of Camelot Inc. new branch. Arthur seemed quite enthusiastic about that prospect.
That time, Merlin was unable to support Arthur like he had since they met. He had accepted Arthur would never love him but losing him completely was too much. Merlin stopped answering Arthur messages and calls. He lost himself in his works. Gaius, his boss, started to worry as Merlin always stayed late at work. His others friends worried to as Merlin refused all their invites. Percival, with whom he had remained friends, came to his flat one day but Merlin didn’t even open the door.
He wanted to be alone, to forget about Arthur, to lose himself in his hurt.
Arthur who had stopped trying to contact him sent him a last message the day he left for New York. Merlin launched his phone against the wall.
As he stepped inside his childhood home, Merlin sighed. This year, he was feeling eager like he had always felt at the prospect of spending Christmas here.
Arthur wouldn’t come and, even if Merlin was happy to spend a few days with his mother, he realised that Arthur and him had definitely taken separate paths. It was the end of year of friendship and trust. Merlin felt so void.
“Merlin?” his mother called from the kitchen, waking Merlin from his reverie.
Merlin finished unloading the car then helped his mother cook a simple meal for Christmas Eve. He tried to occupy himself, the only way he had find no to drown in sadness.
The next morning, Merlin woke up without his usual cheerfulness. Christmas had always been his favourite celebration. He loved to discover his presents, he loved to share a meal with all the people he loved, he loved to spend the afternoon drinking eggnog and watching cheesy Christmas movies.
“Merlin! Breakfast is ready!” Hunith slowly opened the door of his room.
“I’m coming.” Merlin answered but he didn’t manage to hide the tears in his eyes.
“Oh… Merlin !” Hunith came to sit on the bed and took him in his arms. “You miss him, don’t you?”
Merlin nodded and burst into tears.
They had finished exchanging gifts and Hunith was in the kitchen preparing the lunch when the doorbell rang.
“Merlin, can you go open the door?”
Merlin, still in his pyjamas, put some slippers and a dressing gown and went to open the door.
The door he closed almost immediately. It couldn’t be real… It wasn’t possible…
A knock on the wood.
A voice he knew too well.
“Merlin… I need to tell you something… Open the door.”
Merlin hesitated. Was he ready to see Arthur? To hear whatever he had to tell him? The part of his heart that still beat convinced him to open the door.
“Aren’t you supposed to be in New York?” Merlin asked in a harsh tone.
“I was… But as Christmas came I realised I was mostly in idiot.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I… I was missing you Merlin.”
“No, Arthur… Don’t… I… I can’t play that game anymore.”
Merlin saw the incomprehension in Arthur’s eyes. It was the moment to finally confess everything. To put the full stop to their story.
“Arthur… I can’t remain your friend when I want to be more than that and when I know it will never happen!”
Arthur smiled then and it was Merlin’s turn to look at him with incomprehension in his eyes.
“That’s why I’m here, Merlin. I don’t want you to remain my friend neither.”
“What?” Anger rose in Merlin’s chest. “You’ve came all the way here to tell me you don’t want to be friend with me? We aren’t friends anymore Arthur! Not since you hurt me and left!”
Arthur looked at his shoes, visibly affected by Merlin’s words.
“Merlin… I… I’m sorry for leaving. But it helped me realise how much I was missing you and....how much I love you.”
Arthur’s words took a few seconds to register in Merlin’s mind.
“I love you.”
“Merlin, I’ve came back from New York because I couldn’t bear the thought of spending Christmas without you. I… I know I took me too long to realise how much you meant for me but I was hoping that we could at least spent the day together and see if we can mend the things between us.”
“Is it a Christmas miracle?” Merlin asked, smiling for the first time in months.
Arthur opened his arms, letting Merlin decide what to do next.
Merlin knew he was risking his heart to be broken once and for all, but he wanted to take the risk. He threw himself at Arthur.
They stayed like that until Hunith came, worried that Merlin wasn’t coming back.
“Oh, it looks like I was right to make a dinner for three then!”
Later that day, as Hunith had gone to wish a Merry Christmas to their neighbour, Merlin and Arthur sat in front of the fire. It had started snowing outside. Arthur put his arm around Merlin’s shoulders and they watched the snow covering the garden.
“Arthur… I want to give us a chance.” Merlin murmured as he turned to watch his friend. “I don’t know if I can forget all the time you hurt me yet but I want to try.”
“And I want to spend the rest of my life making up for all the times I hurt you.”
It was Merlin who initiated the kiss but it was Arthur who, a few minutes later, pushed Merlin down on the rug.
“Merry Christmas, Merlin.”
“Merry Christmas, Arthur.”