Title: Hearts of Fools
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Why had he gone in there to say it?
Word Count: 981
Author's Notes: Barely any sleep and then a run this morning, this possibly makes no sense!
Merlin stormed out of the bar, the look on Arthur’s face swimming before his eyes and giving him the urge to punch something. He had risked it all coming here tonight, certain that he had read all the signs right and that Arthur was feeling the same as him. How could he have been so wrong? How could he have thought that coming here was a good idea?
It might have been okay if it was just Arthur. He hadn’t laughed out loud, he had just looked at Merlin with an almost inscrutable expression on his face once the younger man had finally plucked up the courage to push his way across the crowded dance floor and tell the blond how he felt.
But it wasn’t just Arthur.
It was all those so called friends that he was with. Merlin knew full well they were only hanging around with him because of his name and his money, and Arthur was so desperate for approval from someone that he allowed it to happen. Merlin knew he wasn’t thick, he had to know that they weren’t being sincere.
But while Arthur had just looked at him strangely, they had laughed out loud. They had mocked and jeered and sent him on their way with a few well-placed jibes that cut Merlin to the heart and made him want to just stand there and cry, despite it having been years since he last shed a tear.
He had somehow held it together enough to get out of the club and walk down the street before he had found himself stopping, yelling to the sky for a long moment. Lucky, the night was well underway and people simply skirted around him, believing that he had had one to many rather than wanting to ask why he was sounding like he had just had his heart ripped out.
How could he have been so foolish?
Taking a deep breath, Merlin forced his hands into his pockets and began walking away. He would find Gwaine, the man was always up to taking Merlin’s mind of the fact that he was hopelessly in love. Would it be enough this time though, when it was no longer just a secret crush that they could laugh about?
“Merlin! Merlin, wait.”
It was only through sheer shock that the owner of that voice would be following him that made Merlin stop, although he wasn’t sure if that was necessarily a good reason. Even while his feet refused to move, his mind and heart went into panic, thinking of all the things he could say to make it sound like he had been drinking rather than confessing his undying love. He couldn’t help it, there was just something about Arthur that really got under his skin and seemed to stick there, no matter what Merlin did to erase it. He half turned, then cursed himself and made to turn back, but it was too late. Arthur had reached him.
“Did you mean what you just said?” he asked quietly and Merlin could only stare at him. There was a pink tinge to his cheeks from where the run and the cold air had made his blood pound, his eyes were bright and his dark clothing was sticking to him with the sheen of sweat it was impossible to come out of the club without. For a moment, Merlin could only stare, but when Arthur prompted him, sounding nervous, he sighed.
“What do you want me to say? I think I’ve made enough of an idiot of myself in there. I was a fool to think that saying anything would get me anywhere. You have your reputation to live up to, your friends, your father, your…mm…”
Merlin was sure that he had quite the impressive rant in his mind. But his words were stolen as Arthur lent forward (Merlin had always known that he was slightly taller, but it felt good the way Arthur looked up at him through his eyelashes) and pressed his lips against Merlin’s. It was chaste and uncertain, almost as if Arthur didn’t know for sure what he was doing, but there was a smile on his face when he pulled back. Merlin didn’t realise his eyes had closed until he forced them open again.
“I swear, Arthur, if this is all some prank between you and your friends…”
This time, Arthur kissed him with more confidence, his hand slipping around the back of Merlin’s neck to cradle it gently. Merlin knew he let out a surprised sound in the kiss, but as Arthur went to draw back again, he realised that this was no joke. His own hands slipped forward, one wrapping around Arthur’s waist to haul him closer and the other threading through his hair as he kissed him back.
When they finally came apart again, panting, Arthur was not the only one with a grin on his face.
“Do you really…”
“Sorry, I just…”
“Yes, I like you too, okay? Yes, I’m gay, and yes you are the first person that I’ve openly told. Or shown as the case may be. I’m sorry that I froze in there, I just couldn’t believe you were really there saying it, I didn’t know how to react. That you would even notice me…”
“You worry about people noticing you?”
“Yes. They notice my name and my money, they don’t actually notice me.” There was something lost in Arthur’s voice and Merlin slipped his hand into the other man’s and gave it a gentle squeeze.
“Then they are the foolish ones for not seeing how wonderful you are,” he murmured gently. To his delight, Arthur blushed.
“Come on, let’s go somewhere else.”
And despite being one of the most known people around and the one to make all the decisions, Arthur simply followed meekly as Merlin pulled him away.