Summary: Arthur asks Merlin to accompany him home for Uther's New Year's Eve party,
Warnings: alcohol, pining, fake dating, only one bed
Word Count: 4800
Author's Notes: Happy Holidays, elirwen! I hope you enjoy this, I tried to base it off some of your prompts/likes. Thanks to jiang for the fabulous beta job!
Disclaimer: Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.
Merlin was thoroughly enjoying his croissant and the sun shining through the window and the sweet gentleness of the Sunday morning. Then Arthur went and said, “So, I have an odd favour to ask,” and Merlin knew things were about to go downhill.
“Is that why you asked me to meet you?” Merlin asked. “Here I was I hoping you just liked my company.”
“I do,” Arthur said quickly. “And it’s not a bad favour.” He took a sip of his coffee and looked out the cafe window, letting that hang between them.
“Just an odd one,” Merlin said. He finished off his croissant and looked back at the counter, wondering if Arthur’s request would land better if he got a second one. “Let’s hear it, then.”
“So… I got an invite to my father’s New Year’s Eve party.”
“Right.” Arthur went to that party every year, much to the disappointment of their group of friends who liked to celebrate the holiday together.
“And I said I’ll go.”
“So far that all seems normal.”
Arthur shrugged, and Merlin took in the tense line of his shoulders and the unnatural way he kept crossing and uncrossing his legs. He was nervous.
“So… my father has been on my case lately,” Arthur said, looking down at the table between them.
“Is he ever not?” Merlin asked.
Arthur’s mouth grew tight. “No. But, I… I might have…” He sighed and then said in a rush, “So, he asked if I was seeing anyone who might want to come to the party with me, and I said yes.”
Merlin frowned, his chest clenching a little. “But you’re not seeing anyone. Unless—”
“No,” Arthur said. “I’m not.”
Merlin exhaled, letting go of that fear. “Then why—”
“Because he’s obsessed with finding me a husband,” Arthur said miserably. “And I knew that if I didn’t say I was seeing someone, he would spend the whole night trying to set me up with his friends’ sons. Their straight sons.”
Merlin gave a sympathetic grimace. “Okay, that’s… fair.”
Arthur took a deep breath. “So…”
“So, you lied.”
“I lied, and now…” Arthur looked up at him. “I need to you come to the party and pretend to be my boyfriend.”
If Merlin had been drinking his tea, he would have spit it out all over Arthur’s dejected face. “Excuse me?”
“You heard me,” Arthur mumbled.
Merlin shook his head, and once he started, he couldn’t stop. “Arthur—”
“I know, I know. I know. I just… it’s the only thing that will placate him.”
“You have a very special relationship with him,” Merlin said, still shaking his head.
“Look, I know I’m asking a lot. Like, too much, probably. But maybe this can be your Christmas present to me?”
“I already bought a Christmas present for you, you dolt!”
“Return it, then.”
“I will not be returning it, and I will not be pretending to be your boyfriend!”
Arthur looked out the window and took a long gulp of his coffee. “Sorry,” he said finally. “You’re right. I was… I thought…”
Merlin sighed, feeling slightly guilty. Maybe Arthur’s request wasn’t so outlandish. Still, Merlin couldn’t do it, not with how he felt about Arthur lurking under the surface. “Look, I know your dad’s a… real piece of work, but you can’t let him walk all over you like this. You’re an adult, and if you’re not married, that’s no one’s business but your own.”
Arthur glared at him. “I know. I just let him get to me. He’s been relentless this year.”
“Then be relentless back at him. You know you’re just as stubborn.”
Arthur smirked just slightly, the first smile he’d had since they met at the cafe that morning, and Merlin grinned back at him.
“All right,” Arthur said. “You win. I will just suffer through the evening with him.”
“I believe in you.”
Arthur drank the last of his coffee. “I have to go,” he said. “I’m supposed to go shopping with Morgana so she can pick out her present from me.”
“Another very special relationship.”
Arthur rolled his eyes as he stood. “You staying here?”
“Yeah, I’m going to get some more tea, I think. Do some people watching.”
Arthur gave him a tight-lipped smile. It didn’t reach his eyes, and somehow it made him seem sad. “Enjoy your day,” he said before walking towards the door.
Merlin watched out the window as Arthur pulled a hat out of his jacket pocket, fit it on his head, and set off to meet his sister. His shoulders were a little slumped, and his gait was somehow despondent.
It made guilt seep back into Merlin’s consciousness. Maybe he’d been too harsh. Arthur was just trying to get through the holiday season as best he could. Merlin had never met Arthur’s father, but he’d been hearing stories for years, and, really, Arthur probably couldn’t be blamed for wanting one year off from his father’s meddling. It wasn’t his fault he had such unreasonable family members.
And it wasn’t his fault Merlin had deep, dark, secret feelings for him. Or, maybe it was his fault, but it wasn’t like he knew anything about it. Merlin had been very careful to keep how he felt under wraps. He and Arthur were friends, just friends, and that was fine. Eventually Merlin would get over his schoolboy crush, but pretending to be Arthur’s boyfriend was definitely not a step in the right direction.
But Arthur had looked so sad, so hopeless, so desperate. Merlin hated to see it.
“Fuck it,” Merlin muttered and pulled out his mobile and placed a call.
“Did I forget something?” Arthur answered.
“No, I just—I’ll do it.”
“Go to your father’s party and—I’ll do it.”
“Shit, are you serious?” Arthur asked.
“Unfortunately, I think I am.”
“You’re the best, Merlin. Seriously, I owe you one.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Merlin couldn’t believe he was agreeing to this.
“Oh, I see Morgana, I have to run. Thank you, though. Really, honestly, thank you.” Arthur sounded relieved and happy, and Merlin found himself smiling.
“You’re welcome. Tell Morgana I say hi.”
“Will do,” Arthur said before ending the call.
Merlin put his mobile away, feeling a little lighter, and went to order another tea.
“I think I regret agreeing to this,” Merlin said as he got out of Arthur’s car.
“Don’t be such a baby.”
Merlin raised his eyebrows and gave Arthur a pointed look.
“Shut up,” Arthur said. “And come on. The sooner we get this over with, the sooner it will be over with.”
“How come Morgana weasels her way out of this party every single year?” Merlin asked as they approached the house. “Seems unfair you always have to go it alone.”
“Best not to argue with Morgana.”
Merlin tutted, and Arthur rang the doorbell.
“Thank you again for doing this,” Arthur said. “I hope you know I do really appreciate it.”
Before Merlin could respond, a man with grey hair who was obviously in high spirits opened the door.
“Arthur!” he exclaimed, pulling Arthur in for a hug. Arthur patted the man on the back before stepping away.
“Father, this is—”
“This must be Merlin,” Arthur’s father said, grinning so wide his face went all wrinkly. “I’m Uther. I’m so glad you both could make it. Come in, come in.” He stepped back and let them into the house.
It was still decorated for Christmas, and Merlin was immediately charmed. He knew Uther lived by himself, and maybe he only bothered for the party, but it was sort of sweet to think about Arthur’s father putting up a tree and tinsel and lights to make his house a little cheerier for the season.
The front room was crowded, mostly with people who looked to be about Uther’s age. A few of them turned to see who had arrived and gave Arthur waves and shouts of hello.
“Let me get you boys a drink,” Uther said before heading off.
Arthur picked at a bit of fluff on his jumper.
“That wasn’t so bad,” Merlin said.
Arthur shrugged and plastered on a smile as one of his dad’s friends came over. He introduced Merlin as his boyfriend, which was still a shock to hear even though that had been the plan all along. Arthur said it so calmly, so naturally, and the label fit over Merlin like a warm jumper.
“Here you are,” Uther said when he returned, handing over two glasses of wine. Arthur hurried to drink some of his. “Now, tell me all about yourself.”
He directed that last part at Merlin, and Merlin took a quick sip of wine. “Not much to tell, really.”
“Nonsense,” Uther said, smiling wide again. “What do you for a living? How did you meet my son? How was your Christmas? See, there’s plenty to talk about.”
“I suppose there is,” Merlin said, trying to make himself smile. He felt weirdly nervous, like this mattered in some way other than the obvious. He was here to help Arthur out of a tough spot, but now he felt like he had to make a good impression and reflect well on Arthur, like a real boyfriend. “I’m an exhibit designer.”
“Oh? What’s that?”
“He designs exhibits,” Arthur muttered into his wine glass, and Merlin struggled not to laugh.
“I work for a museum,” Merlin explained to Uther, ignoring Arthur. “I help plan out the rooms, the spacing, the labels, the placements—that sort of thing.”
Uther looked fascinated. “How does one get into exhibit design?”
Not sure what else to do, Merlin started in on describing his education and career path. He didn’t think it was especially interesting, but Uther seemed to be hanging on his every word, and even Arthur was paying attention despite the fact he knew all this already.
“What do you do?” Merlin asked when he’d run out of things to say about his own work.
“Hasn’t Arthur told you?” Uther asked.
Merlin glanced at Arthur. “Should he have?”
“He’s a geneticist,” Arthur said.
“Like father like son,” Uther said proudly. “I’m mostly a lecturer at this point, Arthur’s generation is where all the exciting research is at.”
Arthur smiled, and it almost looked natural, except that he was clenching his jaw. He looked so uncomfortable.
Merlin wanted to reassure him that things were actually going just fine, but he didn’t know how to telegraph that. If Arthur were really his boyfriend, he might reach out and hold his hand or put a hand on his back.
Well, he was here to convince Uther that Arthur had a boyfriend, wasn’t he?
Merlin reached for Arthur’s hand, and Arthur tensed for a second, nearly pulling his hand away, but then he relaxed into it and gave Merlin’s hand a squeeze.
Uther looked enormously pleased.
“What do you lecture on?” Merlin asked to take the attention off him and Arthur.
“Oh, this and that,” Uther said, but then he started going into incredible detail, listing off topics that went straight over Merlin’s head.
Merlin nodded politely as Uther spoke, though, trying his best to keep up. Some of what he was saying was familiar, thanks to what Merlin knew of Arthur’s work, but most of it went in one of Merlin’s ears and out the other. He couldn’t focus on much other than the way Arthur’s palm felt against his. It was warm, and his grip was strong, and Merlin couldn’t quite believe Arthur was letting it happen.
“Enough about me,” Uther finally said, grinning. “Tell me how you two met. Obviously not through work.”
The truth was that they’d met through friends of friends, and then they’d met again, and again, until they’d become friends themselves. It had happened over the course of months, slow and sweet, and before they knew it, they were part of each other’s lives.
That wasn’t much of a story, though.
“Some friends set us up,” Arthur said shortly. He knocked back the rest of his wine. “Anyone want some more?” he asked, holding up his glass.
For a moment, Merlin thought Arthur was going to leave him alone with Uther.
Then Uther said, “Nonsense!” and, taking Arthur’s glass, went off to refill it.
“I hate this,” Arthur whispered, leaning close to be heard. He didn’t let go of Merlin’s hand, though.
“I’m sure he’ll get bored of us eventually,” Merlin said.
Arthur didn’t look convinced. “We should have come later,” he said.
“We came at ten,” Merlin pointed out. “It’s already past my bedtime.”
Arthur gave a genuine smile. “I’ll give you a tour if he ever lets us alone.”
“I’d like that.”
Uther came back a moment later with Arthur’s wine. He asked about Merlin’s Christmas and family, and Merlin told him all about his mother, and overall it was a very pleasant conversation.
At long last, one of Uther’s friends pulled him away to open up some fancy liquor, and Arthur, finally letting go of Merlin’s hand, ushered him upstairs before anyone else could come over.
“He’s really not so bad, you know,” Merlin said as Arthur showed him around.
“I’ve literally never seen him this happy,” Arthur said. “When we fake break-up and he finds out I’m single ‘again’, he’s going to be miserable.”
“There are worse things.”
Arthur shrugged and led him down a hallway. “This is my old room,” he said, flicking on the light.
Merlin stepped inside and took in the posters of football players on the walls, the books and figurines on the shelves, the tidy desk, and the small bed. It was obvious no one had lived in the room for years, but it was sort of sweet the way Uther had kept it preserved.
“Quaint,” Merlin said.
“It’s something like that.” Arthur turned off the light and went to the next room. “You can sleep in here, it’s Morgana’s room.”
Morgana’s room looked much the same as Arthur’s, except there were concert posters on the wall instead of football players. The bed looked like it would be comfortable enough, though, and that was all that mattered.
“Should we get back downstairs before we’re missed?” Merlin asked.
“Probably,” Arthur sighed.
“Hey,” Merlin said. “Are you sure you’re all right? You’ve been down since we got here.”
“I just… didn’t think it would be bother me this much. It’s like I’m only worth something to him now that he thinks I’m in a relationship. Why can’t he just be happy for me in the life I choose to live?”
“I’m sorry,” Merlin said. He hadn’t really thought about it that way. “That’s really shitty. If you want, we can have a public break-up when we get downstairs. I’m sure he’d be on your side if I dumped you in front of everyone like that.”
Arthur managed a smile. “Nah. Let him have his night. I’m fine.”
Arthur nodded, and Merlin followed him back down to the party. They made the rounds, talking to all of Uther’s friends and going over the same information and stories—Merlin’s job, how they met, how they’d spent Christmas—until it was all becoming a blur and Merlin wasn’t sure who he had or hadn’t talked to.
All the wine wasn’t helping. As soon as he finished a glass, Arthur would go get him more, and before long Merlin had lost track of how much he’d had. He was feeling exceptionally warm, though, and it was very enjoyable.
The wine seemed to be helping Arthur, too. He was smiling more freely, talking more openly, even being a little affectionate. His hand kept drifting to Merlin’s lower back, and it was rare that his gaze left Merlin’s face—he was really putting on a very convincing act.
Merlin let himself bask in the fantasy and do the same, touching Arthur on the shoulder, admiring his handsome profile, laughing extra hard at all his jokes.
He bet no one at the party would ever suspect they were really only just friends.
Then someone shouted out that it was just a few minutes to midnight, and Merlin saw everyone shuffling around the room, finding their spouses. Men and women were coupling up, ready to celebrate the start of the new year with a kiss.
Merlin licked his lips and glanced at Arthur, who seemed to be having the same realisation.
“Maybe we could go into the kitchen,” Merlin said, keeping his voice low.
Arthur nodded and managed to take a few steps in that direction, but then Uther stopped him in his tracks, appearing out of nowhere with three champagne flutes.
“Nearly time,” he said jovially, handing two of the glasses over. “Another year, can you believe it?”
Arthur looked at Merlin, very obviously panicking, and Merlin swallowed before offering a smile. It was fine. It would be fine. They would kiss, and it wouldn’t be a big deal, and it would all be fine.
“Don’t look so morose,” Uther chided, clapping Arthur on the back. “You’ve got plenty more years in front of you.”
Merlin wished he could have taken a picture of Arthur’s ridiculous forced smile so he could make fun of him for it later.
“Ten!” someone shouted from across the room.
“Ah, here we go!” Uther said.
Merlin took Arthur’s hand in his own and leaned in close to whisper, “It’s fine.”
“I’m so sorry,” Arthur said under his breath.
“Five! Four! Three! Two! One—”
Arthur gave Merlin a quick kiss as the room cheered, “HAPPY NEW YEAR” around them. His lips were soft, gentle, and Merlin closed his eyes for the brief moment they were on his.
“Happy New Year,” Arthur said.
Merlin’s heart was pounding, his stomach fluttering nervously, but he managed to smile and pull Arthur in for a hug. “Happy New Year.”
Arthur’s hair smelled good this up close, sort of fruity from whatever shampoo he’d used, and it overwhelmed Merlin for a moment until Arthur pulled back.
“Happy New Year!” Uther said, practically shouting, as he stepped up for his turn to hug Arthur.
Merlin sipped at his champagne, trying to ground himself back in the moment, and then found himself wrapped in a hug.
“Happy New Year,” Uther said. “I’m so happy you’re here.”
“Thanks,” Merlin managed. “I’m happy I’m here, too.”
Uther stepped back and beamed at him.
Merlin finished off his champagne, resolved to be done drinking for the night, and watched as Uther’s friends all started getting ready to leave all at once, now that the big excitement had passed.
“I’ll go get our bags from the car,” Arthur said before disappearing.
Merlin was left to fend for himself for a few minutes, and he shook more hands than he could count as everyone started saying their goodbyes. Women kept patting him on the arm, telling him how sweet he and Arthur were together, and Merlin’s face hurt from smiling by the time Arthur came back in.
Rather than coming to the rescue, though, Arthur took their bags upstairs. He reemerged only a few seconds later, looking distraught. He went over to Uther and had a quick conversation before coming back over.
“There’s a problem,” he said, voice low, as he approached Merlin.
“What?” Merlin asked, but Arthur didn’t get a chance to say because there were still guests parading by on their way out.
It took what felt like an hour, but, finally, the house was mostly emptied out, only a few stragglers left behind to help Uther start cleaning up.
“What’s the problem?” Merlin asked.
“One of my dad’s friends from out of town is staying in Morgana’s room.”
“Oh?” Merlin didn’t see the issue.
Arthur looked like he was in physical pain. “You’ll have to sleep in my room. With me.”
“Oh. Oh. Oh, I mean… that’s… that’s fine.”
“It’s not, but we don’t have much of a choice.”
“It’ll be fine,” Merlin said, trying not to be offended by how upset Arthur was at the prospect of sharing a bed with him. “Honestly, it’s fine.”
Arthur didn’t look convinced, but he didn’t argue the point. He and Merlin went around collecting wine glasses and bringing them to the kitchen, where Uther was singing to the radio as he stacked up plates.
“Ah, thank you,” he said as they deposited the glasses into the sink. “Go to bed, you two. They’ll be plenty of time to clean up in the morning.”
He gave them both a hug and shooed them out of the kitchen.
Merlin followed Arthur through the house and up the stairs, down the hallway and into Arthur’s old room.
He’d forgotten exactly how small the bed was. It was definitely only meant for one person.
“Well, fuck,” Arthur said as he shut the door. “I could wait until my dad goes to bed and sneak down to sleep on the sofa.”
“If you want,” Merlin said, eyes still on the bed. “We’ll can make it work, though. It’s just one night.”
Arthur sighed and grabbed his bag off the floor. “I’ll go get changed.” He left for the bathroom, closing the door behind him.
Merlin exhaled and then let out a little chuckle at the absurdity of the whole situation.
He changed into his pyjamas and sat on the edge of the bed, waiting for Arthur to come back so he could take his turn in the bathroom. Arthur knocked before letting himself in, and Merlin flashed him a smile on his way out.
When he came back, Arthur was under the covers, and there really was very little bed left to be had for Merlin.
Merlin turned out the lights and got into the bed anyway. Arthur scooted over as far as he could, shoving himself against the wall, but it didn’t really help. Their sides were pressed together, their shoulders and arms and hips and thighs all touching.
“This is cosy,” Arthur deadpanned.
“Honestly, I’m exactly the right amount of drunk to not care. I usually sleep on my side, anyway.” Merlin rolled over, readjusting several times before he felt comfortable.
“You’re going to sleep on your side facing me?” Arthur asked incredulously.
“I always sleep on this side,” Merlin said. “How do you sleep?”
Arthur let out a very beleaguered sigh before rolling over, his back to Merlin.
“See, this isn’t so bad,” Merlin said. There was a proper amount of space between them now, almost like they weren’t sharing a bed at all.
Merlin let out a tired laugh. “Goodnight, Arthur.”
Merlin woke up draped over Arthur’s back, one arm slung around Arthur’s middle. He blinked in the darkness, damning his body for betraying him in his sleep.
He doubted he could extract himself without waking Arthur.
He lay there for a while, listening to Arthur breathe. He was warm, and he smelled good, clean. Merlin closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep again.
He nearly managed it, but then Arthur shifted, lifting one hand to cover Merlin’s.
Merlin went very still, trying to figure out if Arthur was just moving in his sleep or if maybe, somehow, for some reason, he’d done that on purpose. He listened to Arthur’s breath, the short, shallowness of it, and realised that Arthur was indeed awake. Which meant he had done it on purpose.
“Arthur?” Merlin whispered.
Arthur jerked and pulled his hand away. But that didn’t change the fact that it had just been on Merlin’s. And it didn’t change the fact that Merlin was still wrapped around Arthur.
Merlin shifted away slowly, as far back as he could get without falling off the bed. “Arthur?”
“What?” Arthur’s voice was gruff, low and rumbly with sleep.
“Just forget it.”
“You know exactly what.”
Merlin reached out and put his hand on Arthur’s shoulder, feeling like he had to reassure Arthur that he wasn’t angry. Arthur exhaled loudly.
“What do you want, Merlin?”
“I want to know what’s going on.”
“Nothing’s going on.”
“That’s clearly not true.”
Arthur shrugged off Merlin’s hand. Merlin wished he could just see Arthur’s face, read his expression in the moonlight, but he was still facing away, pressed against the wall.
They lay in silence for a moment, then Arthur huffed and sat up abruptly. He crawled to the end of the bed and got off.
Arthur escaped into the hallway, closing the door behind him and leaving Merlin alone in the dark.
Merlin sat up and dropped his feet to the floor, scrubbing his hands over his face. He found his mobile on the nightstand and checked the time. It was just past 4 o’clock.
He waited, and waited, and waited. He kept glancing at his mobile, watching the minutes tick by. Why had Arthur tried to hold his hand? Why was he acting all huffy about it? He had clearly thought Merlin was asleep when he’d done it. Maybe he hadn’t wanted to be caught. But… why?
When a full twenty minutes had passed, Merlin got up and went into the hallway.
The bathroom door was open, the lights inside off.
Merlin went downstairs, moving carefully in case there were any creaky steps, and found Arthur laying on the sofa, arms crossed, face pressed to the back cushions.
“Hey,” Merlin said, pushing at Arthur’s feet so he could sit down.
“Go back to bed, Merlin,” Arthur said, his voice muffled by the cushions.
“What’s going on?” Merlin asked. He waited in the silence for what felt like a long time.
“I’m having a weird night,” Arthur finally said.
“I mean, clearly.”
Arthur didn’t respond to that.
“What happened?” Merlin asked.
Arthur sighed and turned onto his back. “I just… you were so good with my dad and his friends, and you made the night so easy, and the whole party could have been this massive disaster without you, and I guess I… realised what I’m missing out on.”
“By not having a boyfriend?”
Arthur grimaced. “By not…” He sighed. “Never mind.”
“No, just—talk to me. Tell me.”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“Try me,” Merlin said.
Arthur sighed again. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that I’ve never brought anyone home before. It just felt really… really intimate, you know? Like…” He crossed his arms and closed his eyes. “I guess I wished it could have been real.”
“It could be,” Merlin said, his heart sinking. “I mean, when’s the last time you tried dating? It’s not as if you’re putting a lot of effort into finding a boyfriend. If you tried—”
Arthur sat up, and suddenly they were face-to-face, so close Merlin could see the lines on his lips.
“I don’t want some random boyfriend,” Arthur said.
“Oh,” Merlin said. He wasn’t sure he understood. Unless Arthur meant—but he couldn’t mean that.
Except, he’d been so touchy-feely at the party. And he’d been giving Merlin all those looks. And he’d touched Merlin’s hand.
“Just—forget it,” Arthur said, lying back down. He turned towards the cushions again.
Merlin sat there, mind whirring. Arthur wanted him? Arthur wanted him.
“Arthur,” Merlin said, pulling on Arthur’s shoulder.
Arthur turned onto his back again. “What?”
There were a million things Merlin could have said, but they all would have paled in comparison to what he really wanted to convey. He leaned down and pressed his lips to Arthur’s.
Arthur gasped and shifted, but Merlin shifted with him, drawing out the kiss, and after a moment Arthur relaxed into it. He tasted like wine, sweet and heady.
“Merlin,” Arthur breathed when they broke apart.
Merlin licked his lips. “Will you come back to bed?”
Arthur smiled, bright and glorious. “Is that all you have to say?”
“For now,” Arthur repeated. He sat up and pulled Merlin into another kiss, a proper one, and Merlin melted against him.
“All right,” Arthur said, lips still on Merlin’s, “let’s go back to bed.”
Merlin grinned and ducked down to give Arthur’s neck a quick kiss before he stood. He pulled Arthur up with him, and they snuck back upstairs and into Arthur’s old room.
Arthur got into bed first, and he patted the spot next to him. Merlin crawled in after him, folding himself around Arthur under the covers. Arthur took Merlin’s hand and held it tight to his chest.
“Thank you,” he whispered.
Merlin grinned and pressed a kiss to Arthur’s shoulder. “We’ll talk in the morning.”
Arthur gave Merlin’s hand a squeeze. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” Merlin murmured, eyes already closed. He snuggled close, pulling Arthur against him and breathing him in. He smelled comforting, familiar, and Merlin swelled with joy. He’d started the night pretending that this was real, and now they were here, making it happen, and Merlin couldn’t have asked for a better New Year’s Eve.
He drifted off slowly, smiling, looking forward to the morning and getting to talk to Arthur again, getting to have breakfast with him, getting to ride back into the city with him, getting to spend all the time with him in a brand new way.