Title: Scarlet Streak
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Morgana
Summary: The boys take a romantic stroll
Word Count: 1000
Prompt: Picture Prompt
Author's Notes: Continuation of Breathing Space and On the Same Page
Lunch was better than Arthur hoped. Once he relaxed and stopped worrying about embarrassing himself, the conversation flowed easily. Likewise, it didn’t take long for Merlin to stop jumping at every new person who entered the small café and start flirting again. Arthur preferred the confident Merlin: it made Arthur feel more secure himself.
With the awkwardness banished, Arthur soon realised they had a lot in common, and enough differences that he could listen to Merlin talk about his passions with genuine interest.
When Merlin text him the following evening and asked if he wanted to go for a walk, Arthur jumped at the chance. His father was in a conference-call and Morgana had already come back and slunk off again, dressed for a party. Arthur had been wondering what to do with himself, and slipped out of the house without a word to his dad. He left the man a note, but knew the chances were that Uther wouldn’t notice he was gone.
He met Merlin by the lake.
“I thought we could just go around it,” Merlin said, gesturing with one hand. Arthur nodded. The lake was big enough that they would be out for a couple of hours, but small enough that it was a plausible option.
It was as if their conversation from the day before never stopped. Arthur admitted things that he hadn’t told anyone, even Morgana. It was the first time he had willingly told someone that his dad’s behaviour hurt. Merlin told him that his mother was overprotective: having lost his dad, she didn’t want anything to happen to her son either.
But not all of the conversation was serious. Arthur was flushed with laughter and Merlin’s eyes sparkled by the time they reached their starting point. Arthur wasn’t ready to go back.
“Let’s go down here,” he said. He led the way, leading Merlin onto the small jetty that stuck out into the lake. The scene was tranquil and neither of them spoke: words weren’t needed. Merlin sat down when they reached the end, his feet dangling off the edge. Arthur followed suit, sitting next to him.
The sun was starting to set but the summer’s evening was still warm. Arthur lent back on his palms, sighing.
“I could stay here forever,” he murmured. It had been a long time since he had felt this at ease and he knew it was partly because of the boy sitting next to him.
“Me too,” Merlin said. Arthur jumped as a hand rested over his, but then he smiled and relaxed into the touch.
“I was ready to go home the other day,” Arthur admitted, “and now I don’t want this trip to end.”
“I don’t live that far from you,” Merlin said. Their home lives had been touched upon briefly during one of their many conversations. “We can still see each other. If you want…”
He trailed off uncertainly. Arthur looked at him and grinned.
“I’d like that.”
He had only known Merlin for three days. Neither of them were suggesting they make a long-term plan. But he knew that he felt at ease in Merlin’s company and got on well with his friends. He also knew that he liked Merlin. That was enough for him.
Suddenly, Arthur realised that Merlin was looking at him. Merlin’s gaze flicked to his lips, then back up to his eyes. As Merlin swallowed, Arthur realised he was returning the gaze with equal intensity.
Then, with no warning, Merlin kissed him. Arthur froze. He wanted it, he just hadn’t expected it. Merlin, clearly thinking he had misread Arthur, went to pull back. But Arthur’s hand rose, resting lightly on Merlin’s chest. He looked quickly into Merlin’s eyes, then kissed him back.
They kissed in the way only uncertain seventeen-year olds could – pouring everything into it. Sparks ran through Arthur’s entire body and he shifted closer to Merlin. He didn’t notice his eyes had closed until a wolf-whistle sounded.
They sprang apart and Merlin instantly looked at the ground, his body tense. Arthur remembered what Gwen had said about Merlin being hurt before. He shifted until he was in front of the other boy, turning to face their audience.
Then he sighed in relief and rolled his eyes.
“It’s my sister,” he muttered to Merlin, who relaxed with his own sigh. He turned back. “What are you doing here, Morgana?”
“Looking for you,” Morgana said. She sauntered towards them, her gaze fixed on Merlin. “I came to save you from yourself and being such a good little boy who always does what Dad says.”
Arthur flushed: his obedience compared to Morgana’s relaxed attitude always made them argue.
“I saw your note; that you had gone for a walk. I didn’t realise it meant a romantic stroll.”
“Shut up.” Arthur knew he was blushing.
“Holiday flings, baby brother, is what holidays are for.” Morgana winked, opening her handbag. “I was going to drag you to a party, but think you’ll have more fun here. Aren’t you going to introduce me?”
Arthur had a “no” forming on his tongue, but Merlin had regained his courage.
“Merlin,” he said, with the same lazy smile he had graced Arthur with by the fire. Arthur grinned: Merlin’s laid-back attitude was rubbing off.
“Well, Merlin,” Morgana drawled, “if you hurt my little brother, I will kill you. Slowly. You hear?”
Merlin balked. Arthur tried to protest: they had kissed once, that was all! But his voice died into a strangled yelp as Morgana drew something out of her bag and threw it at him.
“Don’t say I never look out for you.” She turned and strolled casually back down the jetty, her heels clipping the wooden planks as she did.
“I can explain,” Arthur said, flushed and willing Merlin to look away at the condom by their feet.
Merlin looked up and smiled. “I think this one is kinda self-explanatory,” he said.
Arthur turned as red as the setting sun behind them.