Silent Thinker (inspired_being) wrote in camelot_drabble,
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'Finding Out: The Hard Way' for argentsleeper

Title: Finding Out: The Hard Way
Recipient:argentsleeper
Author: inspired_being
Rating: PG
Pairing/s: Arthur/Merlin (established), (with Gwaine and Mithian as side characters)
Summary: Merlin has been distant, Arthur jumps to conclusions and they both learn a lesson or two.
Warnings: Angst! (with happy ending), hurt/comfort
Word Count: 5233 (I got slightly carried away and had to claw it back loads)
Author's Notes: Dear argentsleeper, I really hope this is to your liking and that you’ve had a lovely holiday season thus far!
A huge thank you to wanderlust48 for the urgent beta job. I owe you one!
I must also thank all my fellow sprinters for their help and support while I was writing this. Couldn't have done it without you. I hug you all!
Disclaimer: Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.



Arthur's eyes darted after every few lines from the notes he was typing on his phone as he waited for a response. He was pretty sure Merlin was avoiding him or angry with him, but he didn’t know what he’d done wrong, if he’d even done anything wrong. It had been a week and a half since he had last seen Merlin in the flesh.

The time between seeing each other had been getting longer and longer in the past couple of months. Whenever Arthur suggested a time to catch up, Merlin either already had an appointment, cancelled last minute or the time they had together was limited by one thing or another.

Arthur’s phone buzzed on his desk before lighting up to show part of the incoming message. Seeing Merlin was the sender, he quickly picked it up and swiftly manoeuvred his fingers across the screen to bring up the full message.

Sorry, I can’t. My mum wants me to go shopping with her that night. How about Monday?

Arthur tossed his phone back down to his desk. Monday?! It was Wednesday and that would make it over two weeks since they had seen each other. Why not on the weekend? He grabbed his phone and typed a message back.

I could come shopping with you and your mum. I don’t mind.

He read over it a few times before hitting send. And waited.

An hour and a half later: I don‘t think that would be a good idea. Mum wants to get Christmas presents.

Arthur liked Merlin’s mum, but he was beginning to get annoyed with her monopolising Merlin’s free time of late. Or maybe Merlin was just using her as an excuse to hide something. Arthur’s mind was filled with all the possibilities; Merlin wanted to break up with him, he’s seeing someone else, he wasn’t really gay, he was being too needy, his wealth really did intimidate Merlin, his family intimidated Merlin, he didn’t enjoying their time together, he’s bored, he’s dealing drugs.

Once he had finished repeating all of those possibilities to Gwaine during his lunch break, he heard his best friend’s hearty laughter resonate through the phone as if the man had been standing next to him.

“This isn’t a laughing matter, Gwaine,” Arthur said sternly.

“Sorry.” Gwaine tried his best to stifle the outburst. “But you have to admit, some of them are just absurd. This is Merlin we are talking about, right?”

“Yes, of course we are talking about Merlin. What’s so farfetched about them?”

“Well, for starters, you know Merlin is very accepting of your differences and he’s not one likely to get involved in any drugs. I doubt he’s even seen them in real life.”

Gwaine had a point, Arthur conceded. “Then why doesn’t he want to see me?”

“Did he say he didn’t want to see you?” Gwaine asked.

“No,” Arthur answered. “But--”

Gwaine cut him off. “Then how do you know he doesn’t want to see you?”

“We’ve hardly seen each other in months. He’s always too busy or cancels at the last minute.”

“It’s a busy time of year, things come up,” Gwaine offered. Arthur wasn’t buying it.

“I’ve been busy too, Gwaine. But you make time for the people you care about. What could he be possibly be doing that he wouldn’t allow him to make time to see me? The logical conclusion is that he doesn’t care about me anymore.”

“I’m not so sure about that. There are hundreds of plausible reasons. You just have your ‘worse case scenario’ glasses on or something. I mean, next thing you’ll be saying you’re going to have him followed or follow him yourself.” Arthur heard Gwaine's laughter through the phone again, but it didn’t register. He was thinking about whether it would be better to hire someone to follow Merlin or do it himself.

“That’s not bad idea. I think I will follow him. I’ll see what he is doing with my own eyes,” Arthur replied.

“Are you serious?” Gwaine asked, his laughter replaced by shock and concern. “Arthur, just ring him.”

“He hardly answers my calls. No, following him will be better.”

“Then wait until the next time you see him to talk, then,” Gwaine said, trying to talk some sense into Arthur’s thick head.

“The next time I see him, he won’t see me,” Arthur said matter-of-factly. “Thanks Gwaine. I better get back to the office.” Arthur didn’t wait for Gwaine’s goodbye before ending the call.

---

Rugged up in his fur-lined, black leather jacket, leather gloves and black beanie, Arthur felt the part of a private investigator. He had left his office early in order to spy Merlin when he left the newspaper’s building, from writing the daily horoscopes.

He watched as Merlin exited the large glass door onto the street and started in the direction of the tube. Arthur did his best to blend into the crowd and keep from Merlin’s notice while still keeping him within vision.

Knowing Merlin lived on the south part of the Northern line, Arthur was surprised when he made his way to the platform from where the trains travelled north. It wasn’t long before the next train arrived. He watched Merlin file in before he made his move and entered at the other end of the carriage. Arthur quickly positioned himself next to a larger man for cover, in case Merlin looked in his direction. Thankfully, Merlin stood with his back to Arthur.

Merlin had said he wasn’t available tonight but he hadn’t given a reason why. Arthur had given up asking. The drug dealing theory was beginning to look more plausible to Arthur the further the train moved across the city and to the inner northern suburbs.

It wasn’t too long before the train arrived at Merlin’s destination. Moving late, Arthur nearly didn’t make it off after Merlin before the carriage doors shut for the train to move off again. With less of a crowd to hide him now, he continued to follow further behind Merlin. He was so focused on Merlin’s movements that he hardly noticing where his boyfriend was heading, though he couldn’t miss the Brent Cross Shopping Centre when it came into view.

Arthur usually tried to avoid the major shopping centres during the lead up to Christmas. He didn’t like the crowds but tonight he was grateful for them as he zigged and zagged in and out of cars, doing his best to keep Merlin from seeing him. He was surprised at how easy it was following Merlin. His boyfriend didn’t seem to have any idea he was there as he walked with purpose towards one of the many to the complex entrances.

As Merlin moved closer to the entrance, Arthur wasn’t sure how far back he should stay. He didn’t want to lose sight of Merlin for too long, in case he wasn’t able to find him again. He decided to stay behind one of the cars packed closest to the entrance and wait until Merlin entered before running to the entrance to watch through the glass in which direction he continued.

But Merlin didn’t get as far as the glass doors. Instead, he seemed to spot someone he knew; a woman. Arthur didn’t recognise her as any one of Merlin’s friends, but the look on her face told him she was a close friend. The lingering hug she gave him confirmed it. Arthur couldn’t see Merlin’s expression because he was at his back, but the woman was all broad smiles as she pulled back from the hug.

There was a pause in which Arthur reckoned Merlin said something he couldn’t hear. He saw the woman’s lips move in reply before she closed the distance between her and Merlin again, only this time delivering a kiss to Merlin’s mouth. It seemed as though their lips stayed locked for a long time as Arthur’s jaw dropped and he watched in shock horror.

How could Merlin let her kiss him like that? Why wasn’t he pulling away; protesting? Who did she think she was? The questions ran through Arthur’s mind.

Finally his brain registered them standing back from one another and he saw Merlin holding the woman’s hand as they entered the shopping centre together.

Arthur didn’t want to believe it. He couldn’t bring himself to go further than the car park. He was in too much shock what he had seen already. Did it mean his whole relationship with Merlin was a lie? Was the man even homosexual, like he’d told Arthur? Was he bi and didn’t want to admit it? Just having a woman on the side in secret instead? Or worse; was he totally hetro?

Arthur’s gut twisted and he could feel his jaw tighten while his hands were clenched into tight fists, his nails digging into his own palm. He stormed back towards the tube.

---

“I think he is seeing someone else.”

“Merlin? What makes you say that?” Gwaine confused voice asked through the phone.

“I saw him,” Arthur exclaimed quietly.

“Bloody hell, Arthur!” Gwaine exclaimed back down the phone. “You really did follow him, didn’t you?”

“Of course I did.” Arthur could picture Gwaine shaking his head. “How else was I supposed to find out why he kept making excuses not to spend time with me?”

“I dunno,” Gwaine said with a sarcastic lilt to his voice. “Maybe you could have talked to him.”

“He hardly answers my calls,” Arthur complained.

“Man, you need to talk to him about this,” Gwaine insisted. “I’m going to hang up and you are going to ring Merlin, got it?”

“How can I talk to him after what I’ve just seen?”

“You’ve got to give him a chance to explain, Arthur. I doubt what you thought you saw is what you really saw.”

“The woman kissed him, Gwaine! And he responded! I know what I saw.”

“A woman?” Gwaine questioned.

“Yes, a woman!”

“Well that makes it even less likely that he’s cheating, doesn’t it? Probably just a close friend,” Gwaine suggested.

“Or maybe he’s been lying to me and isn’t really gay.”

“I’ve seen Merlin with you, Arthur,” Gwaine replied. “I’m pret-ty sure he is gay.”

“You didn’t see him with this woman,” Arthur protested.

“You’ve been with him for over a year. Talk to him,” Gwaine tried to insist again. “Promise you’ll ring him after I hang up.”

There was a silence as Arthur contemplated his options. “Arthur, promise me you’ll ring him.”

“What am I supposed to say? Hi Merlin, I followed you and saw you kissing a girl. Care to explain?”

“Well, I probably wouldn’t put it quite that bluntly, mate.”

“Then what?”

“I don’t know. Act normal, I guess. Maybe ask him what he did after work or something. You’ll figure it out.”

“That really helps, mate,” Arthur sighed. “I’ll ring him,” he agreed. “But I still don’t think it is a good idea or that it will help.”

“You’ll thank me later,” Gwaine said and hung up.

After ending the call, Arthur brought up Merlin’s number. As he pressed the dial button and put the phone to his ear, he silently hoped Merlin didn’t answer. He had no idea whether he would be able to restrain himself enough to have a normal conversation. He couldn’t even remember the last time they had had a conversation over the phone. Most of their communication of late he been via text.

The ringing tone stopped and it clicked over to voicemail. Arthur quickly pulled the mobile from his ear and pressed the red handset. He wasn’t prepared to leave a voice message. He really did need to think about what he was going to say to Merlin.

Should he admit he followed him? It was bound to come up sooner or later. Would it be so bad if it was later? Would Merlin understand his reasoning if there really was an innocent explanation? Did he even still want to be with Merlin if that was how he behaved when he wasn’t around? How could he trust him?

Was their eighteen month relationship even worth fighting for or should he just cut his loses? His heart gave a tug at the thought of not having Merlin in his life anymore. They had spent so many wonderful times together already. It all felt so real. There had been so much passion between them. But what if all of it was a lie? A fresh tug answered Arthur’s question; his heart would rip in two.

If there was an innocent explanation, Arthur couldn’t see it. All he could see was that woman’s smile after she had kissed the man Arthur lo--. He couldn’t even think it without his heart hurting. How could he have let someone in that deep and be fooled this badly?

Arthur took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. He drew in a few more and thought about what he might say to Merlin. He decided, for this exercise, Merlin didn’t need to know he had followed him. No, Arthur just needed to gain a simple explanation as to where Merlin had been and whom he was with.

He dialled Merlin’s number again and put the mobile to his ear. It rang out again, redirecting to voicemail. “Hi Merlin, just wondering where you are and what you’re up to. Miss you.”

Arthur successfully fought his voice’s attempt to break over those last words. He did not, however, manage to fight the lump in his throat or the tears welling in his eyes after he hung up.

---

It was a good forty-five minutes later when Arthur’s mobile started to buzz with his ringtone chiming in a couple of seconds behind. He didn’t have to look at the screen to know it would be Merlin. He answered and put the phone to his ear, not bothering with a greeting. There was a fair bit of background noise before Merlin’s voice resonated down the line.

“Arthur?”

Arthur let Merlin hang for a little longer until he responded. “Yes, Merlin. That’s who you called, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Merlin answered, voice tentative. “Arthur, are you alright?”

“I’m fine.”

“You don’t sound fine.”

“How would you know?” The angry retort was out of his mouth quicker than he could bite his tongue.

“Is this about Friday night?” Merlin didn’t wait for an answer this time. “I’m really sorry, but she’s my mum. What am I supposed to do? You’d do the same if it was your dad or Morgana.”

“Not when I haven’t seen you in ages. And what’s wrong with the weekend, anyway?” Arthur felt the conversation being steered away from where he wanted and he quickly added, “Where are you now?”

“Ummm, I’m…” the question seemed to stump Merlin.

‘Are you coming, Merlin?’ Arthur heard a female voice the in the background and he would bet it was the same woman he’d seen kissing Merlin earlier that night.

“Who’s that?”

“Nobody. I’m by myself.”

“Doesn’t sound like it to me.”

“Look, Arthur, I’m in a shopping centre, if you must know.” At least he knew Merlin was being honest there.

“Why didn’t you say that before?”

‘Come on, Merlin. You shouldn’t keep a girl waiting.’ There was the voice again. The background noise became less and he thought he heard Merlin whispering something.

“Merlin, answer me!”

“Sorry Arthur, I can’t talk much longer.”

“Why not? Who is that? Who is she?”

“It’s nothing, Arthur.”

“Then why won’t you tell me?”

“Because there is nothing to tell. I’m in a shopping centre doing some shopping. That’s all.”

“Merlin, I’m not stupid. I heard her! Why do you keep lying to me?”

“Arthur…”

“Don’t Arthur me. You’ve fooled me for long enough, Merlin.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You can stop playing dumb. It’s over, Merlin. Go enjoy yourself with that girl. I hope she’s worth it.”

Called end, Arthur put the phone face down on his coffee table, resisting the urge to throw it across his living room and sat back on his lounge as the consequence of his own words sunk in.

---

Merlin had made several attempts to contact Arthur over the last couple of days.
It was hard, but Arthur managed to ignore the sporadic calls and messages from Merlin throughout Thursday and Friday while he was at work, turning it off when he didn’t need it after work and all of Saturday. Arthur didn’t want to hear Merlin’s pathetic excuses and he didn’t want to talk to anyone else he didn’t have to, especially because everyone was so bloody cheery with Christmas less than a week away.

“You’re off your trolley! What did you go and do that for?”

Gwaine had invited himself around to Arthur’s apartment on Sunday afternoon. Merlin told him Arthur had done something irrational and that someone needed to talk some sense into him. After a bit of prodding, Arthur had proceeded to tell his best friend his side of the story about breaking it off with Merlin. Gwaine was obviously gobsmacked by Arthur’s assessment of the situation and immediate action.

“He cheated on me with a woman! What was I supposed to do? Say ‘that’s great, let’s all get together for supper.’”

“That would have been better,” Gwaine mused aloud.

“Bloody hell Gwaine, who’s side are you on?”

“I’m not on any side. I just don’t think you should have made such a judgement on so little fact.”

“You told me to ring him and I did. She was there with him.”

“It could have been anyone.”

“All the signs have been there for months, though. He’s been distant, our contact has been more via text than phone calls or face to face. We haven’t really been that intimate in the bedroom. And when we have, it’s been more routine than anything passionate.”

“Most couples go through those phases. You just have to work at the relationship a little bit harder.”

“I tried!”

“Did you discuss your concerns with Merlin?” Gwaine asked.

“Yes,” Arthur answered with a straight face. Gwaine looked sceptical.

“Did you really?” Gwaine asked again. “And, I mean, have a discussion; not you telling him you’re upset or angry with something he’s done, going to do or not done. Rather you sat down and talked through what your concerns were, then suggested some changes that might alleviate some of the pain and strain of certain behaviours?”

“When did you become such a relationship expert?” Arthur retorted.

“I’ll take that as a ‘no’, then.” Gwaine snatched Arthur’s phone from the coffee table and turned it on. “The woman could be an old high school friend, a cousin or even a work colleague,” Gwaine said as he waited for Arthur’s phone to start up.

“Merlin hasn’t spoken to me about any old female friends. He did have a close male best friend that he’s still in contact with, but that’s it. Pretty sure he doesn’t have any extended family and I doubt it’s a work colleague, since he tends to complain about most of them.”

Gwaine entered Arthur’s passcode.

“What are you going to do with that?”

Gwaine shrugged. “Can’t hurt to have it on. Your father might be trying to contact you or something.”

The phone vibrated in Gwaine’s hands. Five missed calls from Merlin. Just as he went into the call log, the phone vibrated again, but this time started playing the incoming call tone, displaying the caller as ‘Merlin’.

Arthur eyed the screen. “Let it ring. Gwaine, don--”

Too late, Gwaine swiped his finger across the screen and put the mobile to his ear. Arthur stayed quiet and heard a muffled voice he thought was too high pitched to be Merlin’s or even male.

“Hi… no I’m not, but hang on a second and I’ll get him for you.” Gwaine took the phone from his ear and offered it to Arthur. “For you. She said her name was Mithian, a work colleague of Merlin’s.” The ‘I told you’ was written all over his face.

Arthur refused to take the phone, so Gwaine put it on loud speaker instead. “Sorry Mithian, Arthur doesn’t seem to want to talk at the moment.”

“I was afraid of that. From what Merlin tells me, he is quite stubborn.” Arthur didn’t warm to that comment, glaring at the phone and Gwaine. “Well, would you mind passing on a message?”

“Sure, no problems.”

“Tell him that Merlin had a… an accident at work. He’s going to be fine, just a bit of a concussion I think. The doctor wants to keep him overnight for observations just in case though.”

Gwaine watched the surprise and worry as it appeared on Arthur’s face. “What happened?” Gwaine asked on behalf of his best friend.

“Umm… Merlin is shaking his head. I think he wants to tell Arthur himself… once he’s calmed down.”

Gwaine looked pointedly at Arthur. “I see.”

“Do you think you could get him to come down here? Merlin’s been pretty upset and worried the past few days. I don’t think he is coping with Arthur breaking up with him.”

“I’ll do my best. Text Arthur which hospital Merlin’s in.”

“Thank you. I will.”

“Thanks.”

Arthur ended the call. Gwaine observed him expectantly. He rose from his seat on the couch and moved into the kitchen. Gwaine followed. Arthur turned the kettle on and pulled a mug from the cupboard. He placed a teabag in it and waited.

“Oh, come on. You can’t just pretend like you aren’t worried.”

“She said he’d be fine. He’ll only be in overnight. What’s the point in going to see him?”

“Fine, don’t go. But don’t ask me to tell you anything from my visit.”

“Your visit? Why are you going?”

“It’s alright if you don’t want to know who Mithian actually is and how Merlin’s accident happened, but I want to know and the only way I’m going to find out is to go and see him.”

Arthur contemplated Gwaine’s words as images appeared in his mind’s eye of the woman sitting by Merlin’s bedside, her hand in his and their gazes locked onto each other’s eyes. At one point he’d been convinced that Merlin was the one; the man he would spend the rest of his life with. But seeing Merlin with her… that had put a large crack straight through the middle of his heart. Did he really not want to know who it was that could come between him and Merlin? And at Christmas time, no less.

The water boiled and the kettle switched itself off. Gwaine had retrieved another mug from the cupboard and started pouring milk and water into both of them. Arthur picked up his tea and let the warmth of the liquid inside it warm his hands.

The image of her by Merlin’s bedside continued to stick in his mind. The more he saw it, the more he knew it was wrong and he should be the one by Merlin’s side, comforting him. She didn’t belong there.

But he had told Merlin it was over. Could he really go to Merlin’s side and expect Merlin to take him back?

Mithian’s voice played in mind: he wants to tell Arthur himself…. once he’s calmed down…. Merlin’s been pretty upset and worried… don’t think he is coping with Arthur breaking up with him.

“Alright, I’m coming with you,” Arthur announced.

---

Be the time Gwaine parked his car at the Royal Free Hospital, Arthur still didn’t have a clue what he was going to say when he saw Merlin. He was sure this Mithian woman was going to be there. The image of her next to Merlin was still in his head and he wanted so badly to pull her out of the chair, push her out the door and slam it shut so she couldn’t come back to get between him and Merlin again. But he was pretty sure that wouldn’t win him any points with Merlin.

When they reached the reception desk, Gwaine was the one to ask which room Merlin was in.

“Follow me,” Gwaine said after speaking to the receptionist. “She said visiting hours close at eight so you’ve got about forty minutes to kiss and make up.”

“Great,” sighed Arthur as he followed his best friend through the corridors of the hospital.

They found the room Merlin was in easily enough. There were three other beds in the room and two of them were occupied. As Arthur feared, the woman he had seen kissing Merlin sat next to his bedside.

“Arthur.” There was a mixture of surprise, joy and pain in the voice that breathed his name. He turned his gaze to Merlin, who was sitting up on the hospital bed with a drip in his arm and a bandage covering the left side of his forehead.

“Merlin… I…” Arthur didn’t know what to say. Part of him wanted to rush to Merlin’s side, shower him in kisses and beg forgiveness, but he restrained himself. The noise of a chair scraping across the floor filled the area. The woman, Mithian he supposed, had pushed back from Merlin’s bed.

“I’ll leave,” she announced.

“No, Mithian. Stay. You have the same right to be here as he does.” Arthur didn’t like the sound of that.

“It’s okay, really. You need to talk… to each other. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” She leant over and kissed Merlin on the forehead, then turned to walk out of the room.

“Do you mind if I…?” Gwaine asked in an almost whisper.

“Go,” Arthur said softly without looking away from Merlin.

Before leaving, Gwaine dragged the curtains closed around Merlin’s bed. “Go easy on him,” were his parting words. Arthur wasn’t sure whether he was talking to him or Merlin.

Arthur drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to calm himself. Where were they supposed to start?

“She’s a work colleague, that’s all Arthur, I swear,” Merlin blurted out. “Nothing happened. I don’t know what you saw or thought you saw, but Mithian is just a friend. She’s affectionate and passionate, yes, but she knows I’m not that way inclined and that my heart is already accounted for… or at least, I hope that it still is?”

“I don’t know anymore,” Arthur said honestly. “You’ve been so distant in the past months. We’ve hardly spent any time together. You kept changing your schedule. I didn’t know what to do.”

“Arthur.” Merlin’s voice choked on the tears he was trying to hold back. He blinked and the tears began to fall. “Arthur, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it... I tried, but… but I wanted to surprise you.”

“Surprise me? By sacrificing our relationship?” The hurt was plain in Arthur’s voice.

“I said I’m sorry. I didn’t realise. You never seemed to mind before. You worked late hours and I didn’t think you’d notice too much.”

“Why wouldn’t I notice your growing absence in my life at a time when all I wanted was to be closer to you?” Merlin’s tears became sobs at Arthur’s words and he moved to hug his legs, crying into his thighs.

Sitting gently on the bed, Arthur ran his fingers through Merlin’s dark locks. Arthur sighed softly. “Merlin,” he spoke. “Tell me what happened… please?”

He heard Merlin take a couple of deep breaths through his sobs. “I… I wanted to surprise you. I wanted to get you something special to celebrate us being together for two years.”

“But that’s not for ages,” Arthur interrupted.

“It’s not that long. After what you planned to celebrate our first year together… I wanted to be the one that made our second year special. And I needed the extra money.”

“What do you mean? You don’t need money to make me happy, Merlin. You know that, don’t you? What have you been doing?” Some of the scenarios Arthur had pictured before came flooding back, and then some. Merlin rested the side of his head gently on his knees and gazed at Arthur.

“Nothing dangerous,” he answered, seeming to read Arthur’s thoughts from his face.

“Clearly,” Arthur said. “That’s why you are in a hospital, overnight.”

He could see Merlin wanted to argue the point, but chose to ignore the quip instead. “I’ve been working casually at Santa’s Grotto at the Brent Cross… as a helper elf,” Merlin started to explain. “There was a bit of training involved at the start. Then I was doing some weeknight shifts and weekends. They liked me so much, they offered me more shifts when others called in sick and stuff. Well, I wanted the money and I didn’t want to let them down.”

“So you let me down instead.”

“Arthur, I’m sorry. I really am… I did feel bad when I had to leave our dates early, but I thought you’d understand and I was doing it for you. To be able to give you something special.”

“So, how does Mithian fit into this? And how did you end up here, with that bandage on your head?”

“Mithian is one of the other elves I’ve been working with. She doesn’t live too far from me and she’s been giving me a lift home when we have the same shifts. We got talking and I told her what I was planning. She thought it was a wonderful idea and wanted to meet you, but I wanted to keep it all a secret. As for being here and the bandage… I was clumsy.”

Arthur smiled. “Why does that not surprise me?” Merlin cheeks bloomed red. “What happened?”

Merlin looked away from Arthur and let his words bounce off the wall. “I got given the long weekend shifts, but I also filled in for someone on Friday night too. I was minutes from my lunch break and was walking an overexcited kid down the stairs to his mother when I slipped on a step. I lost my balance and fell face first into the surrounding scenery. I’m not sure what I hit my head on, but it bloody hurt. Mithian said I was unconscious for a bit. When I got here, the doctor examined me and didn’t take too long to tell me I had a concussion. He also said I was likely to be dehydrated and ordered the drip.” Merlin motioned with his head to the bag of liquid to which the tube in his arm was connected.

“Bloody hell, Merlin.” Arthur ran his fingers through the back of Merlin’s hair, then trailed them down the side of his face, finally cupping his hand at his jaw and lightly guiding it so he could see Merlin’s eyes again.

“Forgive me?”

“But you didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Yes, I did, Merlin. I should have talked to you sooner... like a normal person. But I got some stupid ideas into my head and I followed you after work on Wednesday. I followed you to Brent Cross and when I saw Mithian greet you with a kiss… well, I jumped to the wrong conclusions.”

“You thought… Mithian and I…”

“It was stupid, I know. I’m sorry.”

A huge grin spread over Merlin’s face. “Oh, Arthur,” and with that he moved in to kiss his man. Arthur happily welcomed the kiss, wet salty tears on Merlin’s lips and all.


---
~*inspired being*~
Tags: !holiday exchange fest 2014, *c:inspired_being, c:arthur, c:gwaine, c:merlin, c:mithian, p:arthur/merlin, rating:pg, type:drabble
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