Title: All The Little Things
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin,
Summary: Arthur has a lot of things to be grateful for.
Word Count: 1000
Prompt: Making a List
Author's Notes: Continuation of Breathing Space, On the Same Page and Scarlet Streak
Arthur rolled onto his back, staring at his ceiling as he listened to the wind and rain lashing against his window. It had been four months since he had got home from a summer break that had changed his life and the weather was informing him that summer was truly over.
Reaching over, Arthur grabbed his phone and sent Merlin a text, complaining about the rain. He smiled as it instantly chimed with Merlin’s response.
Summer might have been over, but their relationship wasn’t.
Arthur had never dealt with a proper relationship before, let alone a long-distance one. But the miles between them wasn’t really that great and they were able to spend most weekends together. He usually went to Merlin’s; he could see Gwaine and Lance and the others if he was there. Merlin’s mother also allowed him to stay, even if she was firm about him sleeping on the couch.
It hadn’t stopped them though and Arthur grinned even as he blushed, thinking how far they had gone the weekend before. They had been discussing their futures and where they were thinking of applying for uni. Then Merlin had been kissing him and their shirts had ended up on the floor. After that, it was little more than a haze, but one Arthur knew he wanted to experience again.
Climbing off his bed, he made his way into the bathroom and splashed his face with cold water. It wouldn’t be long until dinner and the last thing he wanted was to be thinking about having sex with Merlin in front of his father. The man didn’t know; he had never known where Arthur disappeared to every day of the holiday and he had never asked. It was better that way – keeping Merlin to himself meant that his father couldn’t interfere and ruin things the way he normally did.
But Arthur paused on the way back to his room, stopping at the top of the stairs. He could hear his father on the phone, his tone strict and professional. Arthur knew he would be eating alone again that night: Morgana was out and he recognised that tone of voice – business would keep his father occupied for the rest of the evening.
When he got back to his room, he saw that he had another message waiting for him.
“What are you thinking about?”
Arthur smiled. He sat at his desk, putting his feet up.
“Soppy prat. What else?”
Arthur thought for a moment before responding. What was he thinking about? Although his father missing dinner hurt, it no longer meant as much to him as it used to. He was used to it. It wasn’t as if he was spending every moment alone anymore, either. He had the weekends with Merlin and his friends and had even managed to open himself up to old friends at home. Leon had been guarded when Arthur had first asked if he wanted a kick around the way they used to, but had quickly accepted that Arthur was trying to change.
“All the things I’m thankful for.” He sent back.
Arthur chuckled and made to throw his phone on the bed. But before he could do so, it chimed again.
Before he knew what he was doing, Arthur was making a list. What was he thankful for? He was glad that his father had forced him into going on the trip in the first place and then had buried himself in his work. He was grateful that his sister knew about his sexuality and supported him, even if they never spoke about it.
He was thankful that Merlin had allowed him in, had opened his heart, pushed aside his insecurities and let him know what it meant to be properly loved. He was glad that Merlin’s friends had accepted him and that Arthur knew he could call them his friends as well. And he was relieved that Leon had allowed Arthur to get close again and he was no longer isolated in his own home.
“Like going to a campfire in the middle of the woods one summer’s evening.”
He didn’t need to explain further than that. Merlin inviting him to sit by their fire that evening had quite literally changed Arthur’s life. This wasn’t the sort of conversation they could have over messages.
His phone rang.
“I didn’t think you wanted to talk via messages,” Merlin said and Arthur grinned.
They spoke for a while. Arthur admitted everything he had just been feeling and how glad he was that his life had been given the chance to turn around before he made decisions that would impact his whole future. Merlin gave him strength and the courage to stand up to his father and Arthur was finally considering a university course based on his own passions rather than what Uther wanted for him.
“Go on then,” Arthur eventually prompted. “I’ve spilled everything. What are you thankful for?”
Merlin was silent for a moment. “That Gwaine has finally returned my Star Wars DVDs.”
Arthur laughed. He couldn’t help it. He knew that Merlin would know that would be the reaction. It was something else to be thankful for – having someone who knew how he would react. He flopped back on his bed, relaxing back and knowing Merlin hadn’t finished speaking yet.
“Seriously, though?” Merlin continued. “I’m thankful that you decided to join us that evening. I never would have opened myself up again otherwise.”
This time, Arthur’s smile was soft. “I gotta go,” he said regretfully, “dinner. I’ll call you tomorrow?”
“It’s Friday tomorrow, Arthur. You’re still coming down after school, aren’t you?”
Arthur had lost track of the days of the week. After promising that he would indeed be there, he hung up and headed downstairs to have dinner on his own.
Regardless of his list and all the small things he was grateful for, one stood out more than any.
He was no longer alone.