Title: Extended Family
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Hunith
Summary: It was time for Arthur to meet the rest of the family.
Word Count: 1000
Author's Notes: The next in my Uni AU series. Not beta'd.
Merlin woke. For a moment, he stared at the familiar ceiling, and smiled. Warmth rushed through him. He was enjoying university. But he couldn’t deny it felt good to be back; appreciate a few home comforts for a while.
Throwing back the covers, he reached the door before he remembered Arthur. Instead of stumbling downstairs, he delayed a few moments and dressed, running a comb through his hair.
The door to Arthur’s room was open and Merlin could hear voices. He went downstairs, smiling when he saw his mother and his… friend sitting at the kitchen table.
“He wakes,” his mum smiled. She passed him a cup of tea. “Arthur’s already been for a run.”
“He’s not a teenager,” Merlin complained. He couldn’t stay cross though, not when hot toast followed the tea. His mother raised an eyebrow.
“Just for today,” she said. She turned, putting her mug in the sink. “What are you boys going to do today?”
“Thought I’d show Arthur around,” Merlin said through a mouthful of toast. He swallowed. “Unless you’ve already seen it on your run?”
There wasn’t much to see. It was a small village – Arthur clearly hadn’t got lost going out on his own so far.
Arthur shook his head. “I’d love for you to show me.”
Merlin caught his eye, and a different type of warmth rushed through him. They both looked away. When Merlin dared look at his mother, there was a knowing look on her face that made Merlin’s blush deepen. He settled for taking another bite of toast, but it went down the wrong way and Arthur had to thump him on the back.
“I’m going to leave you two to it,” she sighed. She headed for the door, but paused. “Take Kili with you?”
Merlin nodded, grinning, even as he finished his breakfast.
“Kili?” Arthur looked around, as if expecting another person to appear.
“It’s time for you to meet the rest of the family,” Merlin said, mock-sincerity in his voice. Arthur was frowning as he followed Merlin through to the lounge, but he also seemed quizzical.
Merlin looked around for a moment. Then he saw a tail twitch.
Darting forward, he scooped up a small, white cat who had been trying to hide behind the curtain. Big blue eyes stared at him and Merlin stroked him between the eyes.
“This is Aithusa,” he said. He passed him over, and smiled as Arthur instinctively knew the right way to hold him. “He thinks everything is a game.”
As if on cue, Aithusa batted at the drawstring of Arthur’s hoodie, getting his claws caught. Merlin rescued him – and Arthur – and put him down. Aithusa made a figure of eight through his legs, purring, before disappearing behind the sofa.
Then he whistled.
For a while, nothing happened. Arthur opened his mouth.
“Wait for it,” Merlin said, holding up a hand to forestall him. Finally, they could hear claws tapping on the tiled floor and a head poked around the door.
Merlin dropped to his knees, and an old German Shepherd came into the room, rubbing his head against Merlin’s chest, giving a small growl of displeasure at Aithusa’s scent. Merlin scratched his ears by way of apology, and Kilgarrah pushed against him hard enough that Merlin fell over.
“This is Kilgarrah,” he said, “better known as Kili.”
Arthur looked unsure.
“He’s a softie,” Merlin said. “Won’t hurt a fly.”
“It’s okay.” Merlin stood up. He took Arthur’s hand, leading him closer until they were both kneeling down. Keeping his fingers laced with Arthur’s, he held them out to Kilgarrah. The dog looked between them, then gave a huffing sigh and lay down where he was.
Merlin suddenly realised he was still holding Arthur’s hand, and dropped it quickly.
“That means he likes you,” he said, a little breathless.
“Are you sure?”
“Trust me.” Merlin scratched his dog again. “You’ll know if he didn’t.”
“What about you?”
Arthur shrugged. There was a small smile playing across his mouth, a glint in his eye. “Do you like me?”
“If I didn’t,” Merlin said, carefully, “Kili would also know that.”
Arthur didn’t look away and Merlin swallowed.
“What about you?” He dared ask. “Do you like me?”
Kilgarrah lifted his head. Merlin fondled his ears, needing something to keep his hands busy. Arthur’s gaze also flickered to the dog.
“I think he’d know the answer to that, too,” Arthur said.
Merlin looked down, blushing. Kilgarrah nudged his fingers impatiently and Merlin got to his feet.
“C’mon,” he said, his voice a little hoarse. “I said I’d show you the village and he needs a walk.”
It didn’t take them long to find coats and shoes. Merlin clipped on Kilgarrah’s lead and they headed out into a beautiful morning.
The village wasn’t big. But with the old dog in tow, they had an excuse to take it slow. Merlin found himself pointing out places that he hadn’t considered as anything special. The tree he had once fallen out of and broken his arm. The spot on the green where Gaius had taken him as a child to give him something different to draw. The bench where his mother had told him about his father’s death.
Arthur was quiet as they walked. His hand would occasionally graze against Merlin’s, their arms bumping together. But it was a companionably silence and when they finally returned to the house, Kilgarrah slumping on his favourite rug, Arthur smiled.
“Thank you,” he said, his voice soft. “For showing me your home.”
Merlin shrugged. “Ealdor’s pretty special. It’s nothing like Camelot. It’s quiet.”
“Did you never get bored?”
Merlin shook his head. “It was what I was used to,” he said, curling up in the armchair as Arthur sat on the sofa. “I never imagined myself living in a city.”
“I never imagined being somewhere like this,” Arthur said.
Merlin looked at him. “I’m glad you came.”
Arthur smiled, and it was the only answer Merlin needed.