Title: More Than I Should [Part 4]
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Merlin knows if he doesn't say something now, he will regret it for the rest of his life
Warnings: confessions of love, roaming hands
Word Count: 1352 (whoops)
Prompt: 309 Song Prompt (Photograph)
Author's Notes: Finally finished filming so I actually had time and could follow through on this one! Wahoooo.
Instead of thinking of a literal photograph when listening to the song, my brain went to a memory and wouldn't let it go. This is that memory.
Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / AO3
There’s a long pause as Arthur glances over at Merlin, studying him, gauging his meaning. Merlin meets his gaze and holds it. Half of him is screaming that he should pull back, laugh it off and retreat back to a safe distance. The other half wants this more than anything he has ever wanted before in his life.
It’s the latter half that keeps him still, his eyes never straying from Arthur’s.
Arthur looks away, staring up at the ceiling again. “I like you, Merlin. More,” he sighs, a heavy weighted exhale of breath. His eyes slip closed. “More than I should. More than you know.”
“Then tell me.” It comes out before Merlin can really think about what he’s saying. But he stops himself from taking it back, curiosity getting the better of him.
Arthur chuckles humorlessly, shaking his head. “So you can take the piss? Not a chance.”
Merlin’s not sure whether he wants to laugh or cry. Perhaps both just for Arthur’s lack of attentiveness at this moment. “I knew you were a bit thick but even you can’t be that thick.”
Arthur turns to look at Merlin, eyebrows raised, half pompous, half questioning. “What?” He shifts, turning toward Merlin slightly.
With a groan, Merlin rolls onto his back. The blank white ceiling with its simple crown molding fills his view. His head gives a painful throb at the movement. “God, Arthur. I don’t,” he closes his eyes with a sigh and opens his heart. “I don’t want to ruin what we already have. But I’ll regret it if I let this go.”
“Ruin what? What are you on about?” The bed shifts as Arthur moves beside him. Merlin imagines he turns toward him, curiosity piqued. But he keeps his eyes closed, revealing in the relief it allows his aching head and the fantasy his mind conjours.
A spark of frustration burns through Merlin and he turns his head sharply, ignoring the pain that follows. “Seriously? Arthur, I’m a bit in love with you.”
He doesn’t mean to be so honest with Arthur. He shouldn’t be, propriety and all that nonsense. Arthur is his charge, the one he has sworn to protect and serve. There’s a line he shouldn’t cross, one that he shouldn’t even entertain or speak of.
And he’s just jumped clear across it and danced on the other side.
Arthur is frozen, one arm propping him up on the bed, body half turned toward Merlin. His blue eyes are fixed on Merlin’s face as though he just grew a pair of antlers. It would be comical in any other situation but Merlin’s too busy trying not panic about having just confessed his love to the one person who could make or break him. In more ways than one.
“You’re what?” Arthur breathes.
Merlin looks away, a heat creeping up his neck and face. Too late to back out now, might as well run with it. “I’ve been trying to deny it for a while now but I just—”
“You love me?” Arthur whispers, the words just loud enough to cut off Merlin’s long-winded explanation. He’s yet to move a muscle, his face unchanging, eyes still locked on Merlin across the little space between them on the bed.
“Um,” Merlin frowns unsure if or where he went wrong. Arthur is strangely hard to read at this most pivotal moment. “Yes?” he finishes with a sheepish smile.
Arthur stares at him for a beat longer before his face morphs into one of anger. “You can’t just come out and say that?!” he shouts, an arm thrown wide, gesticulating his outrage.
“Sorry. I thought we were pouring out our hearts here,” Merlin says with a raise of his eyebrow. He’s not sure why Arthur is angry, but he can tell it’s more based in shock than malice. Still, he doesn’t want to hurt Arthur, if that’s indeed what this is doing. So with a helpless shrug he adds, “I’ll retract if you want me to but it’s a bit out there now.”
“No!” Arthur shouts as he jumps forward across the bed, hand moving toward Merlin as though he can physically stop Merlin’s words. Merlin’s heart nearly skips a beat at the desperation in his voice. As though losing Merlin’s love is the last thing Arthur wants.
Hope blooms in Merlin’s chest and he doesn’t dare breathe, watching, waiting for Arthur’s next words.
Arthur sighs, his body slumping as he shakes his head with a small smile. “And you say I’m thick.”
Before Merlin can speak up in his own defense, Arthur closes the space between them and draws Merlin into a deep kiss. His lips are chapped but warm and supple against Merlin’s own. It’s not a perfect kiss and Merlin couldn’t care in least. His heart soars just as the mere proximity of Arthur, of the heat radiating off him and the soft brush of skin and pressing lips. Merlin kisses him back with no resistance, mimicking the eager desperation that Arthur pours forth, parting his lips when Arthur’s tongue begs entry.
From there, the kiss turns filthy, with hands roaming across bare skin and through silken hair and Merlin gets lost somewhere in between. He only manages to come back to himself when he feels Arthur’s hands at the waistband of his pants. Reluctantly he breaks the kiss.
“Arthur,” he breathes, glancing up at Arthur above him and gently laying a hand over Arthur’s wandering ones and moving them away. “Not tonight.”
“What?” The disappointment in Arthur’s eyes immediately makes Merlin want to take back his words. But his eyes glance up to Merlin’s head and understanding floods Arthur’s face. He sits back on his heels still straddling Merlin’s torso and looks contrite. “Oh, shit. Sorry, I forgot.”
It takes Merlin a beat to realize Arthur is referring to his concussion. “No, it’s not that,” Merlin assures him, taking his hand and rubbing his thumb across the back of it. “I’m fine, truly.”
Arthur frowns down at him and Merlin can see the moment he comes to another, much worse assumption as his face completely shuts off. “Oh.”
He moves to extract himself from Merlin, trying to hide the pain in his eyes and the hurt lines of his body. But Merlin tightens his hold on Arthur’s hand and pulls him back before he can get far.
“No, Jesus Arthur,” Merlin huffs, rolling his eyes in exasperation. He knows exactly where Arthur’s mind went and can’t believe he would think so little of him especially after Merlin’s confession not a few minutes ago. “I’m not leading you on. I would never do that. I promise you, I’m very much in love with you.”
Arthur is all golden hair and soft skin, his eyes shining in the dim light of the room. “How can I not be,” Merlin whispers more to himself than to Arthur. He runs a hand down Arthur’s arm, soothing the hurt he feels there with touch and words. “But we have time, there’s no need to rush. Later, I promise if you still want to.”
In all honesty, Merlin’s body is begging to go all the way, right now. But his conscience won’t let him. He wants to give Arthur enough time to back out, to take back his words. To take back his heart. He wants him to have an out without making him feel obligated because he lost something along the way.
Arthur groans and flops back on the bed, hand thrown over his face. “You’re a tease,” he says gesturing to Merlin’s current undressed and very much flushed state.
Merlin chuckles, grabbing the corner of the discarded comforter and throwing it over himself once more. “Hey, you’re the one who came barging into my room.”
“You invited me in.”
“I’m not in my right mind,” Merlin countered, tapping the side of his bandaged head with a finger. “I can’t be held accountable for my actions.”
Arthur shot Merlin a cheeky smile as he gave him once over. “Apparently.”
Merlin also couldn’t be held accountable for the pillow to Arthur's face.