Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Uther, George
Summary: Arthur had never belonged here.
Word Count: 999
Author's Notes: Hope you enjoy!
He was going back to a place he hoped he’d never see again. And he didn’t know why he was doing it. He didn’t owe his father anything. It wasn’t his duty to submit to the man’s authority, not any longer.
But still he had come.
His hand was on the gate as he stared up at the old house, the metal cold even through his gloves. Lights blazed out of every window and cars filled the drive. His father hadn’t said a specific time or date, he had just demanded that Arthur stop by the house. Just like when he had been a child, Arthur had jumped to obey. He hadn’t considered his father might have company.
Taking a breath, steeling his nerves, he pushed open the gate and walked up the long drive. He didn’t remember it being so long, giving him so many chances to turn and run. Merlin had offered to come with him, but Arthur had declined.
This was something he needed to do alone.
He could hear the music before he reached the door. Before he could pull his key from his pocket, the door opened. The servant blinked in surprise, clearly expecting another guest.
“Master Arthur,” he said.
“George. Can you let my father know I am here?”
George nodded and scurried off, casting anxious glances over his shoulder. Arthur took one step towards the drawing room, but stopped as he pulled off his gloves. The music was coming from there, along with the murmur of conversation. He had no intention of interacting with his father’s associates. He only wanted to know what the man wanted, then he would be gone again.
Nothing had changed as he looked around. The same old portraits of long-deceased family members decorated the walls. It was nothing like where Merlin had grown up and with a sad smile, Arthur knew which he preferred. It wasn’t only the decoration; Hunith had treated him more like a son than his own father had.
Arthur hadn’t realised that he didn’t know what it felt like to belong somewhere until Merlin had shyly asked him around to meet his mother after they had been dating for a couple of months. Arthur had been terrified up until the second Hunith had opened the front door.
Then he never had another doubt about whether he was welcome in her house or not. Yet those were the doubts that still plagued him about his own home, the place where he had grown up.
“Arthur.” The voice was stiff, the suit crisper still, but Uther Pendragon still cut an imposing figure. Arthur swallowed, reminding himself he was a grown man, successful in his own right, and would no longer be intimidated by his father.
“You wanted to see me, Father?” Arthur was proud of how steady his voice came out. He remembered what Merlin had said when he told his boyfriend about the invite. Merlin, like Arthur, had lost a parent. And he would do anything to ensure he didn’t lose a second. If his father was extending the olive branch, Arthur was prepared to take it.
“I have some papers I need you to sign.”
Arthur stared. Then, shaking his head, he backed down the hallway.
“They are in my study, Arthur. I just need you to release your shares on your mother’s clinic and I won’t take any more of your time.”
“That clinic was her life.”
“And we’ve received a good offer on the premises that will help free capital to invest-,”
For the first time in his life, Arthur interrupted his father. Uther stared at him, anger stirring behind his cold eyes.
“You will not sign?”
“I will consider it when you make contact with me for something other than business. I am your son, not a partner in your company.”
“This is important, Arthur.”
With those simple words, Arthur turned on his heel and left the premises. He breathed in deeply, the cold night air flooding his lungs. He blamed the frigid temperature for his stinging eyes and quickly set off for home.
His anger had come and gone by the time he put his key in the lock. All Arthur felt was tired and disappointed.
Merlin had waited up for him, wearing one of Arthur’s jumpers and clutching a steaming mug. He put it down, reaching for Arthur the second the man appeared.
“How was it?” Merlin asked, anxiety obvious in his tone. “How was going home?”
“Home?” Arthur laughed. He pulled off his coat and ran a hand through his hair. “That place isn’t home. It’s not where I belong; it never was.”
Merlin watched him closely for a moment. Then he nodded, understanding that Arthur wasn’t ready to talk about how his evening had gone, in itself providing the answer. Merlin stepped closer, wrapping his arms around Arthur’s waist.
“And have you found somewhere?” he asked, a teasing note in his voice. “Where you belong, I mean?”
Arthur led the way to the sofa. Sitting down, he pulled Merlin down next to him, navigating them until Merlin’s head was resting on his chest and Arthur could card his fingers through the man’s hair. He lent his own head back.
“If you don’t know the answer to that, then you’re a bigger idiot than I thought,” he muttered fondly.
“Prat,” Merlin laughed against him. Arthur used one finger to tilt Merlin’s head around until he could kiss him softly.
“I belong with you.”
“You belong to me,” Merlin murmured, heat in his tone as he deepened the kiss. “And no one is going to take you away.”
Arthur could do nothing but agree as Merlin scrambled up. He linked their fingers and pulled Arthur through to the bedroom.
Hours later, panting and sated, Arthur yawned and smiled for the first time that evening.
“This is where you belong,” Merlin said sleepily. Arthur agreed even as his eyes fell shut and his breathing evened out.