Title: The Email Order Bridegroom, Chapter 38
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur has a plan to stay in the United States. That plan is Merlin.
Warnings: Fluff and ridiculousness
Word Count: 886
Prompt: 219, Forgiveness
Author's Notes: This is a continuation of The Email Order Bridegroom which starts here.
Merlin wakes with a start at 5:40 Wednesday morning. They’d slept with the windows open and there’s a car alarm going off somewhere close. He rolls out of bed to shut out the sound then lies back down. After fifteen minutes of tossing and turning he gives up, worried that he’ll wake Arthur.
He pours himself a glass of orange juice and looks to see if the paper has been delivered. It hasn’t. He gets his laptop and settles at the kitchen table to sort through email. There’s a reminder of their Marriage Based Adjustment of Status Interview this morning. Like we’d forget that, he mentally scoffs.
His mum has forwarded a photograph of their neighbor’s tabby nursing five kittens in her flowerbed. I get first pick is the subject line. Which one should I choose? He looks closely and laughs, typing back I need to see more than their back ends to help with the selection process. More pics please.
Morgause has sent a reminder about the table read tomorrow and even though there’s no way Merlin would forget that appointment either he shoots back a quick thanks. He makes his way through a dozen emails that need responses before he hears the newspaper hit the front door.
The coffee has just finished brewing and Merlin is pulling a spinach quiche out of the oven when Arthur comes into the kitchen just after seven. He looks at the quiche and then at Merlin. “Have you been stress baking?”
Merlin grins. “Car alarm baking.”
Arthur looks confused. “That’s a thing?”
“It is when it happens right outside our bedroom window before six. I couldn’t get back to sleep.”
Arthur walks to the coffee pot and pours a cup before leaning in to kiss Merlin good morning. “You taste like oranges.”
Merlin smiles. “You taste like sweaty socks.”
“It's disturbing that you know what sweaty socks taste like,” Arthur laughs.
“If Will was your best mate you’d know what they taste like, too,” Merlin says.
Arthur grimaces. “Gross.”
“In his defense he stopped shoving them at me by the time we started secondary school but the damage had already been done. You can’t unknow some things but I’ve forgiven him.”
Arthur laughs again and takes a drink of his coffee. “Now I taste like socks and coffee. Give us another kiss.”
Surprisingly, Merlin is happy to oblige.
It’s nearly eight by the time they finish reading the newspaper and eating breakfast. Arthur pushes the sports section aside. “Are you nervous about the interview?”
Merlin looks up from the crossword he’s filling in. “No. You?”
“If I say I am will you come back to bed to help calm me down?” Arthur asks, eyes twinkling.
Merlin laughs, “If you brush your teeth I might be persuaded.”
Merlin scowls at the quarter sized hickey Arthur has left just below his ear on the right side of his neck. “I don’t think Immigration will take kindly to making a vampire a United States citizen.”
Arthur laughs and leans over to meet Merlin’s eyes in the mirror. “I’d say it’s pretty convincing evidence that we have a valid marriage.”
Merlin gives him a little shove. “I’d say it’s pretty convincing evidence that I married a possessive prat who likes to mark me up.”
“That, too,” Arthur agrees with a wide smile.
Their appointment is scheduled for 10:15 but they arrive at the Citizenship and Immigration Services building twenty minutes early. There’s a long line to pass through a security checkpoint and metal detector.
They take seats in uncomfortable green plastic chairs in a large waiting room filled with dozens of fidgety people clutching files similar to theirs. Merlin hadn’t been nervous before but the tension in the room is catching. Arthur must sense him stiffening up because he reaches over to clasp Merlin’s sweaty hand. It helps.
A long faced, jug eared man with a clipboard periodically emerges from what must be a warren of offices they’re facing to call out people’s names. At 10:50 they’re finally announced. He leads them to a small room with a slim blond woman sitting behind a large beige metal desk covered in files. She looks up as they enter.
“Remain standing for the swearing in,” she says. “Raise your right hand and repeat after me.”
Arthur and Merlin raise their right hands.
Merlin hands over their file as he and Arthur take their seats. Their interviewer, Annis Caerleon the nameplate on her desk states, quietly looks through wedding and vacation photographs, random candids from nights at the pub and dance clubs, flipping them over to read descriptions of events and the people pictured. She reads a few of the sworn statements from friends and family and then looks briefly at the deed to the house and their joint bank and credit card statements. She scrutinizes Arthur and Merlin’s wills naming one another sole beneficiaries of their estates.
”All my worldly goods pretty much mean my clothes and student debt,” Merlin had laughed when Arthur had suggested it. When you bring that Oscar home I want to make sure it’s staying home,” Arthur had said firmly. Merlin made out his Last Will and Testament that afternoon.
Ms. Caerleon interrupts Merlin’s musing, “Everything looks to be in order.” She smiles softly. “So, gentlemen, tell me all about your first date. Don’t spare the details.”