Title: Fools of Us Both
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Morgana
Summary: Three years ago, Merlin and Arthur had a rather nasty break up. Three years later, Arthur might get a second chance.
Word Count: 996
Prompt: #75 - Foolish
Author's Notes: Eeesh. Sorry if this sounds awkward or off. I went over the word count and I did take the time to cut it down to meet the word limit. I've been going over the word count way too often lately. So yeah, if it sounds awkward, that's why. Sorry! Can't say I'm entirely happy with this one, but when am I ever? Please enjoy, though!
God, it was great to see Merlin again.
Three years had been kind to him, it seemed. He looked good, hair a little bit longer now to where it curled over his ridiculous ears, a bright beaming smile lighting up his entire face and beautiful blue eyes as he caught sight of Morgana.
Merlin approached them, drawing Morgana into a hug, kissing both of her cheeks. “Morgana! You came!”
“As if I wouldn't,” Morgana laughed next to him. “My, what a name you've made for yourself! The elusive M. Emrys has finally had his first successful art show.”
“I wouldn't say successful yet,” Merlin replied. “It's only just begun.”
“Please, darling,” Morgana drawled, patting him on the cheek. “You're going to be a star soon enough.”
Merlin laughed, and his gaze drifted to Arthur. His smile didn't falter, but he could see the flash of panic dance across Merlin's eyes. He extended a hand anyway.
“Mr. Pendragon,” Merlin said coolly, his voice softer. “I'm honored that you came along, as well.”
Oh, so he'd been demoted to Mr. Pendragon. God, he hated it when people called him that.
Three years ago, Arthur and Merlin had been in quite a happy relationship. Those had been the best years of Arthur's life, falling asleep at night with Merlin wrapped snug in his arms, breathing in the familiar scent of coffee and paint that would eventually lull him to sleep. He'd loved all of Merlin's quirks, and the way he was constantly covered in colors.
The fight had been unreasonable, really, but one thing quickly turned into another, and it had ended in shouting and Merlin storming out without so much as a bag of his clothes. Gwaine had come over the next day, and collected Merlin's things, but not before giving Arthur a punch in the jaw, telling him he was a right bastard.
He deserved that punch.
“Not at all,” he finally croaked out, giving Merlin a tight smile in return. “I've...never been much of an art fan, but your work truly is quite unique. There's something...remarkable about it, something I can't quite put my finger on.”
Merlin's hand tightened on his ever so slightly, and he wondered if he'd overstepped a boundary. He'd said that to Merlin the first time Merlin had showed him his work. He swallowed and smiled, just as tight, before he let go of his hand.
“Thank you,” he said breathlessly, looking shaken. “I appreciate the compliment.”
Morgana cleared her throat, and Arthur thought for a split second that she might be saving him from the unbearable awkward tension. He was wrong. “I'll be right back. Arthur, why don't you keep Merlin company for a little bit, hmm?”
She walked off with a wave of her hand, and Arthur glanced back to Merlin, who looked just as stricken at the thought of being left alone with him. Arthur sighed.
“Look, I can go if you're--”
“Why are you here, Arthur?”
He stilled. Merlin shifted from one foot to the other, pulling at the tie around his neck nervously. He finally looked up to meet Arthur's gaze.
Morgana dragged me along, his mind supplied, but instead his mouth said, “Because I missed you.”
The look Merlin gave him was enough for him to wish the ground would swallow him. But instead he just kept going, “I...wanted to see you.”
Merlin looked like he might faint, and Arthur sincerely hoped he didn't. “You...missed me?”
Arthur opened his mouth, but Merlin interjected before he could reply, “You told me you never wanted to see me again. That usually means for a lot longer than three years, Arthur.”
The bitter edge of Merlin's voice made him ache.
“Morgana dragged me along,” he said. “But that doesn't mean what I just said isn't true.”
Merlin's face flickered in confusion.
“I...” he grabbed Merlin by the hand. “Come on, this isn't a conversation for here.”
“Guests—Arthur I can't--”
“They can be without you for a few minutes!”
Arthur dragged Merlin outside the gallery. When they made their way to the chilly air, Merlin wrenched his hand free and shouted, furious, “What the hell, Arthur!”
“Listen,” Arthur hissed, and carded his fingers through his hair, trying to say everything before he lost his nerve. “I wasn't...I wasn't lying, okay? I missed you. I do miss you. I miss you every second of every day, Merlin.”
Merlin was quiet. He took that as an initiative to go on.
“I miss your smile and I miss your laugh. I miss the smell of paint in my flat. I miss your mindless chatter and the way the sun hits your face when I wake you up in the morning. It's completely ridiculous because I'm the one who let you go and I'm a total fool for not running after you that day,” he took a deep breath. “I need you to believe that.”
Merlin looked frozen, eyes wide and his posture stiff. Arthur thought he might slap him. He would've deserved that too, probably.
“I don't expect you to forgive me,” he went on. “I hurt you and that's completely unforgivable. But...” Where were all of these words coming from? “But if you'll let me...I want to spend the rest of my life making it up to you.”
Merlin hid his face in his hands, and it took Arthur a grand total of two seconds to realize Merlin was crying. Oh God, he'd made him cry--
“You prat!” Merlin hissed, tears streaming down his cheeks. “You are horrible! Ridiculous, horrible, no good, thickheaded, arrogant prat--”
He grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and kissed him, fierce and controlling. “Stupid.” Kiss. “No good.” Kiss. “Foolish.” Kiss. “Clotpole.”
“That's not a word, Merlin--”
“Shut up,” Kiss.
Arthur laughed, probably a little hysterically, before he cradled Merlin's face in his hands, kissing him fully, drinking in the feeling of soft lips and the sweet warmth that followed.