confessions by the fire
Title: confessions by the fire
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Merlin and Arthur spend evenings huddled in front of the hearth while drinking wine.
Word Count: 988
Prompt: Bingo Round 2 - wine
Author’s Notes: the story mentions events in The Darkest Hour, and is also set after that. i hope you like it! :)
"You're a disaster, Merlin."
Arthur ducked when Merlin swung a fist towards him, but Merlin lost his balance and promptly fell on his side on Arthur's lap. They both laughed loudly.
It was a cold evening, with snow slowly trickling down outside the window of Arthur’s chambers, and the full moon illuminating the night sky. Arthur and Merlin sat in front of the fireplace, a bottle of wine and two glasses between them, already slightly inebriated.
Ever since winter started, they would put a blanket around themselves to ward off the cold, since the fire's heat was no longer enough. None of them wanted to break their tradition of their weekly wine huddles by the fire.
It all started when Arthur was having a particularly bad day, and he wanted nothing more than to forget about everything. After supper, as Merlin was arranging his clothes for the night, he suddenly stood up and commanded Merlin to get a bottle of wine and two glasses. As usual, instead of just doing what he was told, he asked Arthur why. Arthur just stared at him until Merlin rolled his eyes and left.
Arthur doesn't usually drink outside of local banquets, and lunches with visiting nobles. Since he became king regent, he was almost never seen in the tavern with his knights. But these past few days have been hard on him, with running the kingdom for the first time, and worrying about Morgana's next move. He was brimming with anxiety and he needed to release it somewhere soon. Hunting was out of the question, so he figured a couple of drinks tonight would help damp his restless energy.
The door burst open, with Merlin holding the wine and glasses in his hands. He set them on the table.
Arthur sat back down while Merlin poured wine in his glass. He drank it all in one go.
Merlin raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure you're all right?"
"Absolutely," Arthur exclaimed. "Things are going well now in Camelot."
Merlin looked at him with sympathy. "Arthur, you know you don't have to bear this alone."
Arthur stared at him. His manservant knew him too well. "I know," he said, averting his eyes.
He stood up with the bottle and glass in hand. "Merlin, take that glass and join me."
He sat down in front of the fire, waiting for Merlin to come over. He knew he was asserting his power asking Merlin to accompany him, but Merlin's presence was comforting. Despite his knowledge of Merlin's magic, and his feelings for his clumsy, idiotic manservant, he only ever felt truly at ease with Merlin by his side.
As Merlin sat down beside him, they started talking and drinking, and before they knew it, the sun was almost up. That was the first time he gave Merlin a day off.
They’ve continued this weekly routine for months now, which was basically just them discussing about anything they could think of. Arthur realized how vulnerable he could get during these times. As much as he wanted to keep certain thoughts to himself, he continued to share them with Merlin easily. This was the only time he was ever this open with someone else. Not that he had any other friends to begin with.
So, a fortnight following the events in the Isle of the Blessed, their evening was peaceful again now that the Dorocha were gone. Also, ever since then, Merlin got himself drunker than Arthur, which was saying something.
They were now on their third bottle, with Merlin becoming quieter as he drank more. Arthur would have to nudge his manservant's shoulder to shake him out of his reverie.
"Hey, you're thinking again. You might actually hurt yourself this time."
Merlin chuckled and downed the remaining contents of his glass. "It should've been me."
Arthur narrowed his eyes. "What do you mean?"
"In the veil. It should've been me, not Lancelot." Merlin stared into the fire.
"No, you idiot, it should've been me! What the hell did you do?"
"Nothing!" Merlin pursed his lips before continuing. "Well, I may have knocked you out."
"Knocked me out? How--" Arthur remembered the sensation of being pulled back by an invisible force before the world turned black. "It was you."
"Yeah, sorry for hitting you--"
"No. You didn't hit me," Arthur said, his voice steady.
Merlin looked at him warily. "What are you talking about? I knocked you out, that's why you became unconscious!"
"Yes, it may have been your doing, but no, you didn't hit my head," Arthur insisted. He looked Merlin in the eye. "You pulled me back with magic."
Merlin looked at him in horror and as he was about to speak, Arthur raised a hand. "Don't worry, I already know. Still, I don't expect you, or anyone else, to lay down your lives to save me."
Merlin was staring at him, his eyes more sober than before. Various emotions warred in his expression - from horror, disbelief, confusion, to finally, resignation.
"I would do it a hundred times more," Merlin said, his eyes determined.
"No, I forbid it," Arthur raised his voice.
"There's nothing you can do to stop me."
"I know!" Arthur shouted. "You're a powerful warlock, and I can't stop you. But I couldn't bear to lose you. I wouldn't."
Merlin stared at him, his face pained. Arthur took his hand.
"You mean more to me alive, Merlin. I need you with me," Arthur whispered.
Merlin cupped Arthur's cheek. "And I need you too, Arthur," Merlin whispered back.
Arthur closed the distance between them and kissed him desperately, putting into it how much Merlin meant to him. He felt Merlin do the same, returning the kiss with fervor.
Once they were out of breath, they pulled away. They grinned at each other.
"You're still an idiot, you know."
"Shut up, dollophead."
Arthur laughed and pulled Merlin in for another kiss.