Title: Fork, Let me Introduce you to Happy
Pairing/s: sort of Merlin & Arthur
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Morgana, Gwaine, Gwen & Lance
Summary: Merlin has good reasons.
Warnings: mild homophobic comments
Word Count: 1,034
Prompt: #174 Intent
Author's Notes: Followup to Say Something href="http://archiveofourown.org/works/4638294"
This could also be fork in the road in my Merlin Bingo Card.
“Will I ever see you again?” The words kept running through his mind. Not goodbye or I’m going to miss you or I’m sorry or …’ He stopped that thought. He wouldn’t lie to himself but he didn’t need to torture himself either. It hurt, ate at what was left of his heart. He was doing the right thing. He knew that inside and out but it was hard.
Gwaine didn’t say anything as he got into the car. He just started it up, turned on the radio and drove. Merlin for his part just stared out the window. He watched them pass his favorite coffee shop and the funky Indian place that Morgana liked, saying goodbye. He had loved his life here. The constant hustle and bustle of this city. He had a cool flat and lots of places he loved to hang out. He was employed doing something he loved that was interesting and unique, rare books and manuscript preservation. He always had something to do and someone to do it with until he didn’t or couldn’t or wouldn’t. Now it had too many memories, too much that was shared.
They had met in the first week of classes at Uni, Art History. They were like oil and water that somehow mixed and they spent the next four years bantering about. For Merlin a masters was his career. Arthur went to work for his father. Life was good and somewhere along the way together became together.
Until Uther stepped in.
“You are grown up now, Arthur. You need to stop your... experimenting.” “I expect you to marry Arthur, preferably someone with a strong social standing.” “A respectable businessman has a family. It shows he has his life together and consequently his business.” “No one wants to do business with a homosexual Arthur. It just suggests deviance from the top down.” On and on and on it went like a worm burrowing, infecting, tainting.
Uther was smart and had a plan. He was always kind to Merlin, never said a thing against him as a person. He was always careful to invite him to family get togethers and make him feel welcome.
It all worked. Arthur started to pull away and as he did, Uther rewarded him, gave him the attention he wanted, praised him. She wasn’t unknown to them. They had met Gwen in Uni but back then she had been all about Merlin’s friend Lance. Uther approved. Gwen’s father ran a very successful hardware company and the beginnings of a construction empire. Gwen was an up and coming manager with a head for numbers. They seemed made for each other and before long Merlin had found himself on the outside looking in.
They shared the same friends, the same hang outs, the same interests. Everywhere he went they were there. He tried to let it go, to find new things, to be happy that Arthur was happy except that somehow they were still there. It almost felt like Arthur was following him. He still glanced at him and touched him, just an arm over the shoulders or a pat on the back but it all felt presumptuous. And god, did it hurt. So he just stopped. He stopped going to his favorite coffee shop, he avoided the pub and the Thai restaurant, the used bookstore was off limits, and he quit going to his friend’s places. The months still seemed to drag him down as Arthur, almost always with Gwen, somehow managed to stay in his sight.
The final straw was an impromptu party Morgana had thrown together. She had insisted he come, said there would be a lot of people and a surprise. Lance had returned home from the Peace Corp. The real surprise though was Arthur and Gwen. They were there, of course, along with Arthur’s jealous ego. He had watched as Gwen greeted Lance with a long hug and a kiss on the cheek. He noticed how she had stayed close holding his hand as they exchanged a few words and Arthur being the prat he was made a rash decision. Instead of following a plan that he had spent a couple of weeks working on and waiting for the right moment which would have been any moment that Merlin wasn’t there, he got down on one knee in the middle of Morgana’s living room.
Merlin had glanced quickly at Lance and then at Morgana. He was out the door before he could hear Gwen say yes. He had arrived at the fork in the road and going left never looked better.
Gwaine’s question pulled him out of his reverie, “Are you ok?”
Merlin took a deep breath, “Yeah.”
Gwaine glanced over at him, “Did you tell him off?”
“Gwaine,” Merlin sighed. “It was never my intent to tell him off. I just had to say goodbye, for me.”
Arthur had stood there for a moment watching Merlin walk away. He was leaving and he wasn’t coming back. He took a deep breath trying to hold himself together. He wasn’t supposed to feel this way anymore. He was with Gwen now. They were getting married, he was happy, Gwen was happy, Uther was happy, everyone was happy. Happy. Happy. Happy.
“Here, you look like you could use this.” Morgana held out a glass of something clearly alcoholic.
“You knew.” He said as he tossed back the drink.
“I helped him find a new place.” Morgana gave him a neutral look. Arthur just stared at her.
“Go ahead and ask Arthur. I might tell you the answer.”
Arthur stared at her for a moment, “Why?”
Morgana looked at him curiously, “Did I help him leave or why did he leave?”
Arthur gave her a pained look. He wanted the answer to both but knew this was the only time she was ever going to answer either question. She took his silence for an answer of sorts. “Because you wouldn’t let him go Arthur. You wanted to have your cake and eat it too.” She stepped forward and put a hand on his shoulder. “I know it wasn’t your intent to hurt him, but you did, over and over again.”