Title: Oh, Darling I'm a Fool
Pairing/s: Arthur/Merlin, vague mentions of past Merlin/Mordred
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Gwaine
Summary: In which Arthur's a little dim, Gwaine's pretty helpful, and Merlin honestly didn't know the difference between Arthur's bullying and pulling metaphorical pigtails.
Word Count: 1,138 (sorry, I cut it down as much as I could!)
Prompt: #72 - Acceptance
Author's Notes: Eeeesh, I tried at least three different versions of this fic before it came out properly, and even now I'm not completely satisfied with it, but when am I ever? Like I said, I cut it down as much as I could without taking away from it, but it's still over 1000, unfortunately. Oh well. Please enjoy!
“Don't know if you know this, but Merlin likes you too.”
Arthur nearly choked on his drink as Gwaine slid next to him, giving him an impish grin.
“I beg your pardon?” Arthur sputtered, and Gwaine nudged him with his elbow.
“Come on, I know you've been pining for him for ages. It's written all over your face right now,” he pointed out, and Arthur scowled.
“I can't believe you'd ever suggest that. That's ridiculous. He's...weird. Strange. He's a gangly idiot with two left feet, and his elbows are like sharp projectiles that could possibly kill me if I slept anywhere near him--”
“And you're head over heels in love with him,” Gwaine finished, as if it were obvious. “Come on, princess, you tease him all the time, trip him up, and you argue with him on a damn near regular basis. You're both pining for each other, and everyone has been placing bets on whether you guys are going to angrily snog or shag first. It's like you've been pulling his pigtails for ages. Come on, just accept the fact that you like him!”
“He doesn't have pigtails,” Arthur pointed out blandly.
Gwaine rolled his eyes.
“It's metaphorical, genius. When a guy likes a girl, he pulls her pigtails to get her attention. You've been pulling Merlin's pigtails for how long, now?”
“I'm not pulling his pigtails!” Arthur hissed, but he paused. He had always teased Merlin mercilessly for whatever reason, ever since they were kids.
“Think about it,” Gwaine smirked, giving him another nudge. “You'll get there.”
Arthur had first met Merlin when he was five years old, after having accidentally knocked Merlin's sandcastle over when playing footie with Leon. The ball flew off and crushed it outright. Merlin had cried and called Arthur a prat when Arthur told him that it was just a castle and that he could rebuild it if it was really such a big deal.
(He was scolded by Merlin's mother later, but that's beside the point.)
It had always been like that for them. Merlin would try and live his life Arthur-free and Arthur would ruin it by showing up wherever he went. He prodded and poked fun at Merlin, enjoying the reactions he got out of him, and how Merlin gave him the attention he refused to give him before. It wasn't that he was an attention hog, of course not, but there was just something about him, something that he liked about Merlin, and he wanted to be around him.
Really, it had nothing to do with the fact that he liked him, did it? So yeah, maybe he did beat those kids who pushed Merlin down in the mud after school in junior high, but only because he was the only one allowed to do that to him. And yeah, okay, maybe he did want to punch Mordred's face in when he caught Merlin kissing him in freshman year, but surely that didn't mean he liked him, did he? Who could love Merlin?
Who could love Merlin, with big ears and scruffy hair, and impossibly blue eyes and pale face? Who could love Merlin, who carried around bandaids in his pocket for emergencies, and who left his friends sticky notes on their dorm room doors when they were feeling sad, and who would stay up until half past three in the morning just to make sure Gwen was okay, when her father died?
Who could love Merlin...who was so charming and sweet, and wonderful and everything that a person should be?
“Oh my god,” Arthur groaned, smacking a hand to his forehead. “Oh my god!”
“There we are,” Gwaine said, and then fished around in his pocket for his keys. He dropped them in his hands. “Now go on and scram, get your boy. Use the keys if he doesn't answer the door, sometimes he can't hear it if you knock.”
Arthur shoved his empty drink into Gwaine's hand and ran.
He arrived at the dorm room door just a little after eleven, and though feeling breathless, he knocked. He knocked about three times, waited, then three more times, then waited, and then went to knock again when Merlin finally opened the door, looking tired but as if he hadn't quite gotten to bed yet.
“Oh, it's just you,” Merlin muttered, and he made a face. “What do you want, Arthur? I thought you'd at least give me the courtesy of leaving me alone for just tonight, at least.”
“I...” Arthur paused, and for what could possibly be the first time in his life, he felt at a loss for words. He opened his mouth, closed it, then opened it again, and said quietly, “I'm sorry.”
That made Merlin stop. “What?”
He took a deep breath. “I'm sorry for everything I've ever done to you since we were kids. I'm a really huge asshole who doesn't really know how to express his feelings all that well, so I guess I did all of that to get you to notice me? Gwaine said it was called pulling pigtails, so maybe that's what it was? Anyway, I know I'm a really huge prat but maybe you can overlook that and accept me anyway because I just realized that all this time I've been hopelessly in love with you.”
The words came tumbling out of his mouth before he could catch them. Merlin was gawking at him, and for a horrifying second he was sure Merlin was either going to laugh at him or just slam the door in his face. He probably deserved both, but he fidgeted expectantly, and Merlin gathered himself.
“Well, that's...um...” Merlin murmured, then rolled his eyes. “Oh, sod it!”
Merlin grabbed him by the collar and kissed him fully on the mouth.
Kissing Merlin wasn't anything like kissing a girl. Actually, it felt better than kissing a girl, and he wrapped his arms around him, tugging him closer in attempts to deepen it. It was a little clumsy and awkward, kind of like Merlin, but it was probably the best kiss he'd ever had.
Merlin pulled back, looking breathless but deliriously happy. He cleared his throat, and then smiled.
“You know I'm pretty sure I've been waiting for you to do that since I kissed Mordred back in high school,” Merlin laughed.
Arthur snorted. “I wanted to punch him for that even then. You two definitely didn't look good together.”
“Yeah, good thing, I guess,” Merlin finally released his shirt, smoothing down the scrunched up fabric. “Because, well...I've got you now?”
It was question, and Merlin watched him warily. Feeling a burst of confidence rush through him, Arthur pulled him back in for a hug.
“Yeah,” he whispered, trying to keep from laughing, the exhilaration rushing through him. “You've got me.”