Title: Learning to Walk
Pairing/s: Arthur/Merlin/Lance/Gwaine, Morgana/Elaine(OC)
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Lance, Gwaine, Morgana, Elaine(OC), Galahad(OC)
Summary: Galahad's learning to walk, but isn't so good at learning not to hurt himself
Warnings: Menage a quatre, and other than that... Upset small child? I don't know, do people need warning for that? The prompt is tears, after all
Word Count: 918
Author's Notes: Things I haven't made entirely clear: Arthur, Merlin, Gwaine and Lance live in a large house with lots of bedrooms together, one of which is currently being turned into Galahad's so he can stay overnight when Morgana and Elaine (who live in their own not so large but still really nice house) want to foist him off on his father for a while; Lance was in effect Elaine's sperm donor, she tricked him into not using protection by telling him she was on the pill, and they broke up when the relationship would have to end or turn serious because she was pregnant; and then things happened and we have the current state of relationships
“Yes, Galahad, that’s it!”
Lance crouches on the floor, arms outstretched for his son. Galahad’s only just learning to walk, but something seems to have clicked. When he forgets that he’s doing something new he can walk across the whole room. But moments like this, when Galahad frowns in concentration, learning the placement of one foot in front of another, the sensitivity of his inner ear to each lurching movement, he needs a little encouragement.
Father gathers son into his arms and smiles.
“Well done! Now, are you going to walk to Uncle Gwaine for me?”
Uncle Gwaine was only supposed to be passing through the living room, covered in drying paint, to get some taller help for the ceiling. But he drops to his knees where he stands, wiping paint into his hair as he brushes it out of his face.
“Gala? Come see me, yeah?”
Galahad giggles, arms held up in the air as if clutching an adult’s hands, and totters over to Gwaine. He’s almost there, giggling again, Gwaine’s heart melting, when something catches his eye.
He’s had a remote control obsession for a few weeks, loving pushing the buttons and chewing on the smooth plastic like it’s some kind of teething toy. So it shouldn’t be a surprise when Galahad makes a beeline for the television table, where they’ve all forgotten the remotes still sit on the polished wood.
Arthur dives from the sofa where he was pretending to read a book, but he’s not fast enough to catch Galahad before he smacks his forehead into the corner of the cabinet, too excited by the prospects of shiny black plastic to pay attention to his own safety.
He looks shocked for a moment, turning back to the room to show them all the red mark almost hidden in his loose light brown curls. In the time it takes Arthur to right himself and reach Galahad, his face has screwed up and he’s crying, hot tears that look huge on his little face.
Arthur swoops him into his arms, hands him a remote control and bounces him up and down. It placates him a little, but not enough to stop him crying. Gwaine and Lance look to each other, but can only really sit and watch.
At the other end of the room, the French doors slide open, and Merlin slips inside, closely followed by Morgana. There’s still a little gold in their eyes.
“What happened?” Merlin asks.
“He hit his head on the table,” Arthur explains, pointing out the mark. Merlin goes over, leaning in to have a look.
“He’ll be alright,” he says, murmuring a spell to make sure, stroking through Galahad’s wispy hair and kissing Arthur as encouragement.
Elaine flings the door open, a streak of flour across her cheek, and looks down at Arthur and Merlin and Galahad.
“Bumped his head,” Arthur says, holding a still crying Galahad up to his mother. She cradles him close, murmuring soothing nothings to him, but still he cries on. So she sways on her hips, changing Galahad’s view. His hands reach forward, grabbing at thin air, so Elaine turns him further, and looks up.
Morgana looks a little startled, a little confused.
“He wants you, sweetie.”
“Me?” she asks, pointing to herself.
“Yes. You’re better with him than you think, you know.” Elaine goes to her, passing over the precious little life and kissing Morgana on the cheek. Morgana turns at the last moment, so their lips meet.
Elaine pulls back just enough to smile at her, a soft, loving look in her eyes. Morgana smiles in answer, looking down at Galahad and cooing. He’s stopped crying.
Elaine turns to go back to the kitchen and her cake, and Morgana follows her. After all, there’ll be no more magic with a Galahad in her arms.
There’s a little mischievous look in Gwaine’s eyes when he stands and turns to Merlin. But Merlin lets him kiss him quickly, and drag him upstairs by the front of his t-shirt to the room that will soon be Galahad’s. Arthur goes back to pretending to read his book, and Lance curls up next to the sofa with his head on Arthur’s knees, leaning into him and stroking circles on his ankles under his jeans. He looks up at Arthur, who’s watching him with a questioning look, and smiles.
None of them know what they’re doing. They don’t understand how to deal with each other, let alone Lance and Elaine’s baby. This – the love between the four men and that between the two girls – is new to them all. Serious, and of paramount importance not to be screwed up. They whisper around each other, carrying their love slowly and carefully so it doesn’t drop and shatter. Because all their hearts would go with it, and then there would be nothing.
They learn to love each other softly, using the fuel of their hearts slowly so it doesn’t burn out. They teach themselves how to live with each other, what it feels like to sleep knowing that someone will be there in the morning, loving almost too much to bear. They begin to realise that sometimes it’s hard. Because these are the people that matter, and they hurt so much more when words fly like arrows between them. Because they can’t be lost.
Lance reaches for Arthur, arms outstretched. And Arthur falls into him.
And he thinks, just maybe, they’re all learning to walk, in one way or another.