Title: Second Chances
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: He had destroyed it all by breaking up with Merlin. But was it too late?
Word Count: 1000
Arthur stood nervously outside of the door in front of him. It wasn’t the door that was the problem, it was the fact that it was shut. He knew it was his own doing that had caused it to be slammed in his face nearly three weeks ago. He had refused to give Merlin anything in return, still acting as if their relationship was just a mutual benefit rather than anything that involved feelings. He had been scared and had panicked. He had never felt this way before, and now he had lost it all because he hadn’t been able to say it.
He loved him.
He knew now that was nothing to be scared of, that Merlin was slipping further and further from his reach the longer he left it. He had to do something and taking a deep breath, he ran his fingers through his hair and knocked.
He didn’t think anyone was in to start with. It certainly seemed to take Merlin an age to get to the door and Arthur found that his nerves were increasing with each movement the second hand made. But eventually, the door opened. Merlin wasn’t quick enough to cover up the surprise on his face and for a split second, Arthur thought he saw a flash of something in the man’s eyes. It was so brief that he wasn’t sure whether he imagined it or not, but if there was one thing he was certain about, it was that it had not been hate in Merlin’s eyes. It had been the complete opposite until he seemed to remember that he was angry at Arthur. That Arthur had broken them apart.
“Can I come in?” Arthur asked quietly and Merlin shrugged, stepping back to let him in at the same time. He made no further movement than that and Arthur knew that he was not welcome beyond the hallway. The same hallway they had stumbled into more than once, hands groping each other as their mouths collided.
“What do you want, Arthur?” Merlin still didn’t sound angry, he just sounded tired. Arthur realised he had just been standing there, staring around him as if this was the first time he had seen Merlin’s flat.
He didn’t know what he wanted to say. Well, he did, but words didn’t seem to touch upon what he was feeling. Merlin gave him a moment, then rolled his eyes.
“I see your way with words hasn’t improved.” Merlin made to move towards the door and Arthur knew he was about to lose everything.
“I love you.”
Merlin froze, his hand on the handle even as his head twisted back to stare at Arthur.
After all of this time, Arthur couldn’t believe how easy it had been to say the words. He gave a shaky laugh as he stared at Merlin and this time he knew for sure that Merlin was having to fight to keep his expression one of indifference. Something had flared into life in his eyes at Arthur’s words, and the blond suddenly knew that he was doing the right thing.
“I love you,” he repeated, beginning to pace. “I’ve loved you all along, I was just too much of a scared fool to see it. I’ve never been in love before, I’ve never let myself. I got scared and I ran because it was easier than having to deal with the idea that I don’t know what this meant. It was easier to leave and put it behind me than let myself fall deeper. But I was wrong, so very wrong.”
He didn’t notice as Merlin let go of the front door and finally turned to look at him properly, almost as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“I thought putting my heart on the line like that made me weak, made me vulnerable. That’s certainly what my father has always taught me, and with the pressure I was under… I thought I was doing the right thing and would make myself stronger by being on my own. But I was so wrong. I’ve been a mess without you, you are the one thing that keeps me going, that makes me far stronger than I’ve ever been on my own. I love you.”
Holding his breath, Arthur stared at Merlin. The man’s face was shut down; as if he was scared to let anything show about how he was feeling. Arthur knew the feeling, that was how he had been. But seeing it turned around back on him was hard and he felt his breath catch in his chest. Is this how he had made Merlin feel?
“You broke my heart, Arthur, you can’t expect me to just let that go.”
“I know,” Arthur replied quietly, staring at the floor. Time stretched on and he didn’t think that Merlin was going to say anything else. Arthur sighed, knowing that he had clearly pushed things too far.
“I’ll… I’ll just go then, shall I?” He moved towards the door but Merlin put his hand on the opposite wall, stopping him from going further.
“But I do know I need you,” Merlin admitted, and it almost looked as if he didn’t want to be saying it. Arthur suddenly saw himself in the man. He had hurt Merlin, and now Merlin was guarding his heart. But it seemed he wasn’t able to quite shut it off the way Arthur had.
“I need you and I love you. I can’t forgive you just yet, but I will let you have another chance.”
Arthur stared at him, a blinding smile lighting up his face.
“Really, you dolt. It seems I can’t function without you anyway, so may as well have you here making a fool of yourself and dragging me down with you.” Merlin’s words were flippant but his face was shining with emotion. Arthur smiled, reaching up to cup his face gently.
“I need you too.” He whispered softly before kissing him.