Title: Put a ring on it
Summary: It’s their wedding anniversary and Merlin lost his ring.
Word Count: 977
Author's Notes: Thanks, issy5209, for the beta!
Merlin frowned and then cursed. “Come on, where are you?” He’d looked where he had last seen it and then behind the dresser drawer, in the bathroom, on the nightstand, he’d been down on his knees, searching under the bed and every place he could think of. There was no denying it – his wedding band was gone.
Biting his lip hard, Merlin frowned even more. “Come on, show up! You can’t be gone! Not today!” He’d even gone and took the insides of the vacuum apart, but aside from lots of sneezing, there had been nothing other than dust and hair inside. He had promised to never take the ring off but it had been so hot in the past days that his fingers were swollen and two days ago, he had pulled it off his finger and put it…right there! But it was gone and stayed gone, no matter where he searched for it.
For the past two days, he’d been able to hide the fact from Arthur that he was ring-less. It was their first anniversary, though, and Merlin was supposed to meet Arthur for dinner in town in about two hours. It took him an hour to get into the city centre, so he needed to find the wedding band quickly. Arthur would never understand why he’d taken it off in the first place. Not matter what happened, Arthur wore his ring proudly.
When it was time to go, Merlin still hadn’t been lucky, it seemed the earth had swallowed the ring and there was nothing to do but confess to Arthur. Nervously, Merlin entered the little restaurant they had met in but his face didn’t cooperate when he tried to smile.
“Merlin!” Arthur got up and put a little peck on Merlin’s cheek.
“Why don’t you sit down?” Arthur pointed to the other chair at the table. “I’ve already ordered a bottle of champagne, I hope that’s alright with you?”
Merlin fidgeted. He didn’t want to sit down before he had told Arthur that he’d lost the ring. He was sick to the stomach and the shirt he had picked for this occasion seemed to stick to his sweaty back. “I…”
“We can get something else if you don’t like it. A red wine? Or rather a white one? Or would you prefer something non-alcoholic in this weather?”
Taking a deep breath, Merlin slid into his seat. “I have something to confess, Arthur.” He had rehearsed his little speech in his mind on the way here over and over, stressing about it more and more since he was sure Arthur would have a fit. For him, this ring was his mark on Merlin, a sign that said ‘Hands off, mine’ and that Merlin had accepted it meant the world to him. How could he tell him…”I’ve lost my ring.” Merlin made a face and peeked at Arthur, his body getting ready to jump up and flee.
“Pardon?” Arthur, who had just reached for his glass stopped the movement and blinked.
Sighing, Merlin slumped. “I’m so sorry, Arthur. I took it off two days ago, remember, it was so hot that day. Just to take a shower. I meant to put it back on right after coming back from the bathroom. But…I kind of forgot and when I noticed it was not on my hand, it was gone. I’ve been looking for it all over, even tore the vacuum apart.” Merlin felt tears in his eyes. “It’s gone. I don’t know where it went. I’m so sorry. Arthur, don’t love me less because of that!”
Arthur reached over the table and put his hand on Merlin, not letting go when Merlin was ready to pull back. He brushed his fingers over the spot where Merlin’s ring was supposed to be. “I could never do that. But, Merlin, this is a misunderstanding. I asked Gwen to call you and inform you that I needed the ring for a short while. When I saw it lying there, I thought you’d left it for me and took it.”
“Gwen?” Merlin blinked. What was this about? Why would Arthur need his wedding band?
“My PA? Small, dark-skinned beauty with a head full of curls and big brown eyes? Remember her?” Arthur grinned.
“I know Gwen, but I haven’t talked to her in a while.” Merlin blinked. What did Gwen… “She forgot to send a message?”
“Obviously.” Arthur fiddled in the pocket of his pants and produced a little blue velvet box. Letting go of Merlin for a moment, he opened it and took the wedding band out. “I know how unhappy you were when you scratched it so badly while taking the tree behind our house down, so I took it to have it repaired and polished and to finally get the engraving we couldn’t have last year because we decided to elope.” He took Merlin’s hand, turned it around, put the ring in the palm and closed Merlin’s fingers around it. “I’m sorry that this stressed you out in the past days.” He lifted Merlin’s hand to his lips and kissed it. “I love you, happy anniversary.”
Merlin didn’t know what to say. He had been on the verge of a breakdown because he thought he’d lost his wedding band while Arthur had it and he hadn’t known. Swallowing, he opened his hand and took the ring between his fingers. “It looks like it did on the first day.”
“Not quite.” Arthur motioned to the ring.
Reading the engraving on the inside, Merlin swallowed. Today, tomorrow, forever – M&A July 2014The stress of the past days fell off of him and he knew that even though the ring meant a lot to both of them, he needn’t worry about Arthur’s love. Biting his lip, he handed it back. “Put it on me again.”
Smiling, Arthur obliged.