Title: My darling — I love you more today than I did yesterday
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Kilgharrah
Summary: Modern AU. Merlin and Arthur's landlord ships Merthur.
Word Count: 913
Prompt: 364 - Pretend Couple
Author's Notes: This is a little...different from what most drabbles will be posted, but if I didn't cut myself off the word count might reach over 3,000. I had a lot of ideas for this prompt and this is not entirely developed so I might just end up creating a short series or something for it at AO3, where it will be revised later. Terribly sorry for the poor quality of this drabble.
Merlin stares blankly at yet another beautiful bouquet of flowers on his desk. People from all over the office giggled as he shook his head with a small smile and sat at his desk, this was happening far too often. He gave the bouquet a tiny whiff, sighing in contentment at the pleasant aroma. As he knew there would be, he found a dedication card amongst the flowers.
My darling — I love you more today than I did yesterday
There was no signature or name, but Merlin knew exactly who it came from.
He could feel everyone in the room watch as he stood and walked into the boss’s office. Merlin didn’t even knock, he was sure people took notice on that too, but as Arthur Pendragon’s best friend and roommate, he figured he was allowed to do so. Arthur never complained, anyway.
“He’s done it again,” Merlin says immediately, shutting the door. Arthur doesn’t even look up from his papers but Merlin sees him pause for a moment. “Kilgharrah has sent me another bouquet.”
This is where Arthur looks up, amusement evident on his face.
“He hasn’t given up then, has he?”
“D’you think I’d be receiving flowers from him still if he had?”
Kilgharrah Drakken was their landlord and elderly neighbour who had been convinced that Arthur and Merlin were dating when they first moved into their apartment. They were used to people mistaking them for a couple and quickly cleared that up with the old man. Unfortunately, while it did get through to him that they weren’t together, he’s got the idea that Merlin and Arthur have feelings for each other and just don’t know how to move forward from there.
So for the last two years, he’s tried several antics and strategies to get them to admit their “love” for each other. He’s tried leading them underneath the mistletoe a couple of times, threatening to evict them if they didn’t start dating (not that he ever really did), and let’s not forget the New Year’s Eve party where he locked them in a closet and only released them at midnight to kiss. Suffice to say, Merlin and Arthur were glad it’s just flowers this time.
They’ve repeatedly told him that they really were just friends and that neither had romantic feelings for each other.
“I’ll admit,” says Arthur as he stands and takes the card from Merlin. “He’s beginning to get a hang of my handwriting. Pretty soon you might actually be convinced it’s from me.”
Well, at least one of them had no romantic feelings for the other. The chuckle his friend lets loose has Merlin distinctly aware of the feelings he had for Arthur, not that he’d act on it or ever tell Kilgharrah. That would only make things worse.
Merlin snaps out of his stupor. Surely he heard wrong.
“What?” he chokes out.
Arthur gives him that look, the one where he’s trying not to judge Merlin for not listening but fails.
“I said maybe we should pretend we’re dating. For his sake.” The statement is met with confusion and a gaping Merlin. “Look, I know it sounds crazy, but c’mon. He’s old and pretty soon, given the lengths he’s willing to go to just to get us together, he might just get a heart attack if we don’t do something.”
There’s a moment where there’s only silence between them, but then Merlin laughs. He laughs and shakes his head. It was the only way to debunk the hope that was rising in his chest and to quell all his sudden thoughts.
“That’s funny,” he says. “What comes after that? We stage a proposal and a wedding?”
Arthur rolls his eyes and is ready to retort when his phone begins to ring. Merlin watches Arthur’s neutral face shift to worried as he answers the phone.
“We’ll be right there.” Arthur ends the call. He pockets his phone and grabs his coat. “We need to go.
“What’s wrong?” Merlin asks, anxious. “Where are we going?”
“The hospital,” Arthur says, voice sharp and already halfway out the door. “Mr. Drakken’s in the hospital.”
“He’s fine,” says the doctor as they stumbled into the hospital room. “He’s just resting now.”
Merlin breathes a sigh of relief, he and Arthur had rushed as quickly as they possibly could. Kilgharrah had no children or living relatives and had listed Arthur and Merlin as his Emergency Contacts. Neither minded, after all, the man was wise and caring despite his persistence regarding their relationship.
Merlin looks to the sleeping man on the hospital bed, hooked up to a heart monitor and a dextrose. He sinks into the chair by the bed, placing his hand on the old man’s.
“What happened to him?” Arthur asked.
“He’s just had a mild heart attack, nothing uncommon at his age. It’s a good thing he didn’t hit his head and develop a concussion.” The doctor smiles. “But you should take this as a warning. He needs plenty of rest, make sure he’s taking all his medication, and it’s recommended that he has someone with him as often as possible. This way we can avoid anything like this incident from happening again any time soon.”
“I understand,” Arthur nods, glancing at Merlin and locking eyes. “Thank you, doctor.”
The doctor smiles and leaves the trio in silence.
Merlin is the first to break.
“Alright, let’s do it.”
“Let’s do what?”
“Pretend to be a couple.”