Title: Let Love Dance Between Us
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Arthur has a very important question. Problem is, he wasn't expecting Merlin to have the same one. But Arthur will always stand by the fact that he had the idea first.
Word Count: 1,446 (oh)
Prompt: #76 - Nervous
Author's Notes: I was going to apologize for going over the word count yet again, but I was so inspired that I just couldn't stop and it makes me ridiculously happy that I'm finally getting back on my writing kick, so um, yeah. Anyway, I actually like this piece, so please enjoy!
The ring is heavy in his coat pocket.
It's ridiculous, how nervous he feels. Arthur has never once in his life been nervous before, not before a test or getting up in front of people for a presentation, nor for asking Merlin out for coffee all those years ago, but this, now? Only now does he get nervous? It's preposterous and he wants to blame Gwaine, because Gwaine seems to be the root of all evil at the current point in time.
It is Gwaine's fault though—Arthur had been perfectly well thinking that there was no doubt Merlin would say yes to his proposal. They'd been together for nearly four years now, and their anniversary just the past week, and Merlin, from what he could tell, isn't sick of him yet. He's actually pretty sure Merlin's besotted with him, and though he'll never admit it out loud, he'd rather lovestruck over Merlin as well. But Gwaine being Gwaine had to go and bring up the fact that Merlin could possibly say no—considering that Arthur, though he tries, isn't the kindest of people, and that Merlin, while he may love him, might not be too keen on spending the rest of his days with him.
“Bloody hell, Gwaine,” Arthur swears to himself, scrubbing his face with his hands. “Never in my life have I been nervous, and then you have to put all of these stupid feelings inside of me.”
It's also ridiculous how he's basically hidden himself in the bathroom of the restaurant they're currently at, Gwaine's words echoing in his mind as he was just about to pop the question. He excused himself rather quickly, and the strange expression on Merlin's face only made him move faster.
He supposes he should get back out there now, lest he want Merlin to come in and figure out what's wrong with him.
Arthur leaves and returns to the table, where Merlin is staring at him quizzically. Arthur clears his throat and offers a smile, but Merlin just crosses his arms and raises a brow in that way, no doubt inherited from his Uncle Gaius.
“What?” Arthur asks finally, and Merlin relents, relaxing.
“You okay?” he says, tilting his head. “You seemed in a hurry.”
“Didn't feel well,” Arthur lies, shrugging his shoulders. He slips a hand into his coat pocket, feeling the small velvety box, before pulling out, shifting. “Fine, now.”
Merlin isn't convinced, he can tell. But he sighs, seemingly impassive. “We can go, if you want. I don't mind.”
“No, that's alright,” he shakes his head. “I mean, you're not even--”
“I'm done eating, really,” Merlin smiles, lighting up his face in a way that makes Arthur's heart squeeze. He concedes, and flags down the waiter, pays for the meal, and they leave.
The drive back to their flat is done in relative silence, with Merlin's occasional quip of conversation here and there. When they arrive, Merlin's barely through the door before he's taking off his own coat, and tugging fruitlessly at the tie that Arthur tied around his neck earlier.
“Next time, I'm choosing the place,” he complains, tossing it over the couch haphazardly. “I hate it when you choose. You're all fancy-pantsy and it requires me to dress nice. Who cares how we look, anyway? As long as we pay, I don't think it should matter.”
Arthur chuckles quietly, hanging up his own coat, minding the ring still in its pocket. Merlin's looking over at him in a mixture of affection and annoyance—probably due to his laughter—and Arthur, in return, closes the distance between them. Needing a surge of confidence, he kisses him fully, and Merlin eagerly complies.
“But I like it when you look nice,” Arthur says, pulling back, and Merlin laughs. “It makes you look like a decent member of society, without loose fitting shirts and that horrid grey thing you call a jacket.”
“Oi!” Merlin protests, giving him a shove. “You like how I dress and you know it.”
Arthur snorts, but doesn't deny it, and instead kisses him again, wrapping his arms around him as Merlin hums in pleasure, carding his fingers through his hair. He loves this—he loves kissing Merlin silly and senseless, and he's enjoying it quite a bit until Merlin draws back abruptly.
“Hang on, hang on,” Merlin breathes, smoothing out the creases in Arthur's shirt. He tends to do that when he's nervous, now that Arthur thinks about it. “We need to talk. There's, um, something I've been meaning to...well...tell you.”
Arthur feels dread plummet in his stomach. Conversations starting with, we need to talk, never end well. What horrible timing, he thinks bitterly. Now that he's finally worked up the gall to propose, Merlin's going to break up with him.
Just after our anniversary, too.
“Yeah?” he finds his voice, and Merlin stares at him in concern, obviously noticing his discomfort. So he marches on, “What's wrong, then?”
Merlin clears his throat and steps back, slipping his hands into his pockets, almost nonchalantly. He straightens his shoulders and takes a deep breath, before giving him a tight smile.
“Well, um,” he starts, awkwardly. “Okay, so you know we, sort of...just had our anniversary right, and that's um, been four years, now? Since we started dating?”
Arthur nods, slowly. To be quite honest, Merlin looks like he's going to faint. But instead, he regains his composure.
“Yeah, and that's...that amazing. This has been the best...the best relationship I've ever been in. I really, really, really...well, in case it wasn't obvious I'm pretty in love with you, you know,” Merlin bites his lower lip, shifting. “And, well--”
“For God's sake, Merlin,” Arthur snaps, running his fingers through his hair. “If you're going to break it off, can you just get to it already?”
Merlin looks mortified. “Oh my God, no! No, that's not what I was going to do at all!”
Arthur pauses. “It's...not?”
Merlin barks out a noise that sounds somewhere in between a laugh and a strangled cry. He pulls his hand out of his pocket, and opens his palm, and it's only then does Arthur notice exactly what he's holding.
It's a ring.
“Oh,” he says, rather dumbly, and Merlin, the bastard, starts laughing.
“I was going to ask you to marry me, actually,” Merlin mumbles, idly twisting the ring in his fingers. “I didn't think you were ever going to, whether you just didn't think about it, or didn't want to, but I figured...what have I got to lose? I was about to ask you in the restaurant, but you just...fled like that, and I thought you'd figured it out. So I was going to wait but then I said, no, no, I have to do this, I have to do this today, and well...here we are.”
He holds it out to him. “I'm not getting down on my knees. As if you need a bigger head, mind you. But I thought, well, If you wanted to...we could?”
Arthur feels rather dumbfounded now, but he lets out a rather strangled laugh, before cuffing Merlin over the head.
“Ow!” Merlin whines, rubbing the spot. “What on earth was that for?”
“For beating me to it!” he exclaims, and walks back to his coat, pulling out the box. Merlin stares at him in awe as Arthur opens it and withdraws the ring. “I was going to ask you in the restaurant as well, but Gwaine said--”
“Since when do you listen to Gwaine?” Merlin puts in bluntly, but shuts his mouth at Arthur's glare.
“As I was saying, I was going to propose then, but Gwaine put this silly notion into my head that you just might say no, and I happened to get...well...nervous--”
Merlin snorts, covering his mouth. “You got nervous? The great Arthur Pendragon got nervous?”
His protests of it's not funny, Merlin! are drowned out by Merlin's laughter, before Arthur grabs Merlin rather roughly by the arm, sliding the ring onto his finger. Merlin's laughter ceases, and is replaced by his indignant squawks.
“You prat! I didn't even say yes!”
“As if you would say no,” Arthur smirks, and isn't at all surprised when Merlin slips his own ring onto Arthur's finger.
Merlin laughs then, and steps closer, wrapping his arms around him. He rests his face into the crook of his neck, while Arthur takes the hand with the ring, interlocking their fingers. “So, is that a yes, then?”
Merlin mutters something akin to ridiculous man under his breath, before kissing him again, whispering yes against his lips.
And as Arthur loses himself in the kiss, he thinks his own answer is the same.