Word Count: 680
Prompt: 322. Pity, cope, bleed
Summary: Arthur made up for neglecting Merlin and now the important semi-final is on
Notes: Not beta’d. Well, it looks as if football is not coming home this time. This is a sequel to ‘his favorite football fan’
It had been a close call. He was a fanatic when it came to footie, but that he had almost forgotten he even had a boyfriend wasn’t good. Alright, he hadn’t really forgotten that, he was always aware of Merlin when he was around and some part of him unconsciously missed him the moment he left the room. It was unforgivable, though, that he had been so busy with the World Cup that he hadn’t been noticing that Merlin wasn’t really having near as much fun as everyone else.
It was very lucky, though, that Merlin demanded a day where there weren’t any games scheduled, so Arthur could turn his full and undivided attention towards Merlin. They had decided to check out the new water park and it had been so much fun. They used all the big water slides, had popsicles in the shade and even though they tried to take care that they were always slathered in sun blocker, they both had managed to get a slight sunburn.
Merlin seemed to have enjoyed the day, too, if the way he had been rewarded by him that night was anything to go by.
Arthur smiled when Merlin showed up wearing a Team England bucket hat when their friends arrived to watch the game and he loved how Merlin stuck close all during the match.
What he hated was how the game ended. His team had been so good in the beginning and then the other team totally took over and his guys never even really fought that. He had really believed that they would make it through to the finale, but had to bury this hope halfway through the match.
It stung that they just didn’t find any means to stop the other team.
Their group of friends got quieter and quieter the closer the game came to an end. Even though there were some encouraging words, Arthur knew they wouldn’t make it through overtime alive. He just knew that they would lose this and his heart was bleeding. They had given their all for this tournament and now, so close before the biggest triumph since 1966, they lost.
After staring at the screen in disbelief for a few minutes, everybody scrambled up quietly and left.
“Do you really want to watch the recaps and all of this?” Merlin asked softly.
When he didn’t answer, Merlin reached for the remote and shut the TV off.
Arthur didn’t really notice how Merlin started to collect empty glasses and removed the biggest mess they had left and only looked up when Merlin sat down next to him again. “Don’t do this, Merlin.”
“What? Cleaning up? If I don’t do it tonight, I’ll have to do it tomorrow morning.”
“What then?” Merlin looked at him and he looked really cute with his bucket hat and Arthur knew he should appreciate that Merlin hadn’t taken it off already.
“Your pity. I don’t think I can bear it right now.”
Merlin pulled him close. “I don’t pity you. I suffer with you. When my boyfriend suffers, I suffer.”
“You don’t care at all.”
Merlin nuzzled into his hair. “I might not really care about the game, but I do understand how close it was and that this is a disappointment. They did really well, though, in the beginning.”
“They did. And we didn’t get this far in the World Cup in ages. So…” Arthur took a deep breath.
“How about…we celebrate how far they have gotten instead? Or is it too early to suggest that?” Merlin ran his thumb up and down the side of Arthur’s neck.
“Too early.” Arthur sighed.
“Come on,” Merlin let go and got up. “Let’s go to bed. We both have work in the morning and it’s late already.”
Blowing out the deep breath he’d taken, Arthur got up. “You’re right.”
Merlin turned when he was at the door. There was a slight grin on his face. “Maybe I can help you cope a bit better?”
Smiling widely, Arthur followed. The world already looked a bit brighter.