Title: Play On
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Merlin's a pianist who loves to play, and Arthur's the boyfriend who loves to listen.
Word Count: 1161
Prompt: #88 - Breathless
Author's Notes: So. Musician!AUs again. I love Musician!AUs, you have no idea. Though, I must say, this is honestly inspired by this Korean Drama my parents have been watching lately called Five Fingers. It's got a lot to do with music and pianos and blah, blah, blah. But you know. Sorry for again, going over the word count, but I felt inspired and well, yeah. Couldn't stop once I started. I listened to a good piano playlist while writing this, and it was great. So yeah, hope you guys enjoy!
His fingers dance gently along the keys, sounds quietly moving together to form a melody. He hums along with the tune as he does so, allowing the music to run through him, like whispered words inside his head, thoughts swirling.
“It's been a while,” a voice drawls from the doorway. “Since you've played that. I was beginning to think you'd forgotten the notes.”
Merlin lets a smile curl onto his lips as he keeps playing, but stops in the middle, switching tunes. His fingers are surer, now, more confident in the notes, at ease, but with his mind intent on playing each sound just right, while making sure it all flows together in the way that a river would. He knows this song like the back of his hand, coming to him in short bursts that all weave themselves together.
He doesn't have to look up to know Arthur is smiling at this, but he looks anyway, just so he can see the curve of his lips, the way the light of the small room will stream into his face just right as he leans in the doorway, softening his features, brightening his blue eyes, reminding him of how honestly beautiful Arthur is. Arthur has always reminded him of some fairy tale prince, the type of boys you only dream about, the ones that only exist in stories. When he'd first met him, he didn't think he'd have had a chance in hell with him—until Arthur talked to him first.
“It's my favorite song,” Merlin says easily, pressing down on the last key. “How could I forget it?”
Arthur chuckles, shaking his head as he makes his way over. Merlin loves Arthur's laugh, the real, genuine one. He loves Arthur's little mocking laughs, and his jabbing, teasing laughs, and he even loves his ridiculous, plethora of other laughs that all rich people seem to have—but he's particularly fond of the small, gentle one, that Merlin can't help but feel like is just for him, and him alone. It always makes him feel warm, like drinking a cup of hot tea, first thing on a winter morning. It settles easily into his stomach, in his bones, and he sighs, still smiling.
“Play something else,” Arthur says to him, resting against the piano itself, now. “It's been a while since I've heard you play.”
“Maybe you should be home more, then,” Merlin chides him, half teasing and half serious. Arthur shakes his head. Merlin knows he doesn't want to have this talk right now, and Merlin would be lying if he said he did. So he leaves it be. He tilts his head at him. “What would you like to hear?”
Arthur clicks his tongue, and pauses, as if running through the music in his mind. Merlin taps at his keys patiently, as if he's already predetermining a tune.
After a moment, Arthur says, “I don't know its name, but my mother...she always played it. I have a vague memory of sitting on the bench with her, while she played it one time. It goes something like...”
There's a moment's hesitation, before Arthur starts humming, soft and low in his throat, but Merlin definitely recognizes it. He hums it with him for a moment, tapping his foot as he begins to let his fingers dance along the keys again, the melody coming out in gentle waves, reverberating over the room.
Arthur doesn't stop humming as Merlin plays, and Merlin smiles at how easily the music comes to him, how easily it flows from his mind to his fingers to the keys. Playing music like this has always excited him, when it comes to him as simple as breathing. Arthur always joked with him that he did breathe music, and Merlin has never been entirely sure if he's wrong. Music has always been a part of him, an extension of himself, ever since he first started smashing the keys at his Uncle Gaius' house, all those years ago, when he was barely tall enough to see the piano keys themselves.
He closes his eyes, letting it overtake him completely. With the quiet lilt of Arthur's vocals intertwining with his playing, he let it wash over him. He can't remember the last time he's felt this peaceful, can't remember the last time he's been this happy. For this very moment, he doesn't have a care in the world—all that matters in his world right now is the music, and Arthur.
Merlin doesn't want it to end.
But as all things must, soon, he reaches the last note. Playing the last part of it with gentle care, he hums the last bit of it. An immense amount of relief fills him, strangely, and he sighs, content. He glances over at Arthur, who looks more peaceful than he's probably ever seen him. For once he doesn't look tired, just content, as he is, just warm and tangible and human, like he doesn't work nearly twenty-four seven, like he actually gets a good night's rest on a regular basis.
Merlin counts this as a small victory.
“Good?” he asks, just to win a grin from him. He grins himself, in the process, but Arthur's winning smirk overshadows his.
He leans down and kisses him chastely, soft and sweet. Merlin smiles into it, Arthur's fingers brushing along his neck.
“Good,” Arthur says, then shrugs. “Could've been better, though. You'll definitely need practice, for one thing.”
Merlin is about to protest, knowing there wasn't a point he messed up, but he catches the look in Arthur's eye. You'd think after all this time, he'd be able to pick out the little bit of teasing, the blatant mockery. His lips might have said he needed work, but Merlin can tell by looking at his eyes that he'd thought Merlin was brilliant. And that's pretty good for him.
“Well, guess it's a good thing you're here to listen, then?” Merlin quips, and Arthur snorts.
“No one else is going to listen to your mediocre playing,” he says, matter-o-factly, with a raised brow. He nudges him over, and he sits down on the bench next to him.
Merlin just grins, and Arthur softens (but just a bit).
“Play something else?” Arthur tells him, but it's more of a question than a demand. So what else can Merlin do but play? He pauses, trying to recall another song, when one in particular comes to mind.
Fingers poised about the keys, he plays slowly at first, surer hands working their way up in tempo. This is his favorite song, for so many reasons. So many memories are alongside of it, and he can't help but close his eyes while playing it, immersing himself completely. It makes him feel breathless from the influx of it all, the raw emotion that courses through him.
But when Merlin feels Arthur's hand on his shoulder, warm and strong, understanding and knowing, he finds it ever easier to play on.