Title: A Sweet Saving
Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur, Arthur/Other
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Now was his time to be there for Arthur.
Word Count: 999
Author's Notes: A direct continuation of last week's prompt and can be found here.
“I’ll leave you get some rest,” Merlin murmured softly. He had made Arthur a strong cup of tea – knowing exactly the way he liked it – and the man was now curled up on the sofa, cradling it close with a blanket over his shoulders. It had to be nearly 1AM and Gwaine had just text to say the police had picked up Valiant. Merlin wasn’t sure what Arthur would want to do next – whether he was going to press charges or – but all he could focus on now was that the news had finally stopped Arthur from trembling. He looked exhausted and Merlin didn’t want to just hover.
“Don’t.” Arthur’s voice was barely audible, but there was no denying the twitch his arm gave, as if he had been about to reach out to Merlin and then caught himself at the last moment. But even more obvious than that was the plea in his eyes. Merlin smiled gently and sat back down. If Arthur still wanted him there, then that was precisely where he was going to be.
“I’m sorry you saw that…” Arthur started again, but Merlin found himself going rigid.
“Don’t you dare apologise, Arthur. Why would you be sorry that I saw you with someone? I was the one who ruined things between us. I’m just glad that I was there to help.”
Arthur caught his eye as he spoke and for a moment, Merlin was sure he saw something flare in otherwise tired eyes. A shadow of the love they had shared. Merlin knew he had made a mistake, and knew that he was still in love with Arthur. But after breaking the man’s heart, there was no way he expected Arthur to feel the same. That look, however, made him wonder if Arthur hadn’t let him go any more than Merlin had.
“How… I mean, why… I was just wondering…”
“Why I was with him?” Arthur supplied and Merlin nodded even though he was blushing.
“I know it’s not my business…”
“It is. It is because it was because of you. I wanted to see if I could be with someone without giving my heart, so I would understand you better. I knew what I was letting myself in for the first time…” Arthur’s voice trailed off and Merlin saw the way his shoulders were shaking again.
Without thinking what he was doing, he wrapped his own arm around Arthur and held him close. Arthur’s reaction seemed just as automatic; he shifted until he could lean his head against Merlin’s shoulder and let himself be held.
“Did he hurt you?” Merlin was proud of how controlled his voice was, but luckily Arthur shook his head.
“It was rough, not like…” The we had was left unsaid but Merlin tightened his grip nonetheless. “But it was nothing that I didn’t consent to. Not until… not until tonight.”
“And never again,” Merlin found himself vowing. After the words had left his lips, he found himself freezing. He had no right to interfere in Arthur’s life, not after what he had done. Arthur, however, didn’t seem to notice what he had just said. Or if he did, he didn’t mind for he simply curled up closer to Merlin.
“It was easy to not give my heart though,” Arthur suddenly said after a few moments silence. Merlin blinked himself awake, realising the comforting weight of Arthur leaning against him had been something that he had missed more than words could say. It wasn’t fair to feel this all again now after so long.
“Oh?” He found himself saying, just because Arthur seemed to want an answer. The blond sat up, the blanket falling away as he twisted. He put his mug down, but Merlin was too busy focusing on the hand resting on his chest to truly notice.
“Easy because someone else still had it,” Arthur whispered and before Merlin could even think anything – let alone say it – Arthur had leant forward. Merlin knew this was a bad idea, Arthur was probably in shock or something. But as soon as his lips brushed across Merlin’s, he knew he was helpless to resist. It was the sweetest taste.
How long they kissed for, Merlin didn’t know. But when he felt Arthur shifting again to get into a better position, his senses returned and he gently took hold of Arthur’s shoulders, pushing him away.
“No?” Arthur asked, disappointment in his voice. Merlin sighed.
“I want to say yes more than anything, Arthur. But I hurt you. And you’ve been through an ordeal tonight. I want you to be sure about this.”
“And I want us to take it slow this time,” Merlin continued, continuing to hold Arthur back. “I love you. I always have. And I’m sorry for the things I said and my refusal to look at a place for the two of us. I’ve never been in love before, and I was scared. What I did was unforgiveable.”
“I forgive you though,” Arthur said earnestly. “Don’t you see? I love you too. I knew that I could never stop loving you the first time Val…”
“You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to,” Merlin cut in quickly. He had only just begun to get Arthur to relax. “But don’t think I don’t want this. I just don’t want to ruin it.”
“You won’t,” Arthur breathed, and this time, Merlin was helpless to stop him. Arthur’s kisses had always been enough to drive him wild. But this time, it was Arthur who pulled back, respect for Merlin’s decision in his eyes.
“Will you stay tonight? Not… not for anything to happen. I just don’t want to be alone. Hold me?”
Merlin smiled and nodded, holding out his arms. They both shifted until Arthur was inbetween his legs, leaning back on him with his head on Merlin’s chest. As he felt Arthur fall asleep, Merlin smiled and dropped a kiss onto the top of his head.
They had a chance.