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At all times

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“Keep your personal belongings with you at all times.“

Arthur, who’d had his eyes on the monitor, got up. “Come on, Merlin, that’s us.”

“Hey!” Merlin chuckled. “I’m not your personal belonging!”

Leaning in and pressing a quick smooch on Merlin’s cheek, Arthur grinned. “I’d still rather keep you with me at all times.”

***

It had started on a flight from London to Madrid but turned into a running gag pretty quickly. In the beginning, Merlin hadn’t minded but the longer this went on, it bothered him more and more that Arthur had started to refer to him as ‘his personal belonging’.

Just the other day at the restaurant, Arthur had told the waiter ‘he belongs with me’ and when he picked up a suit from the dry cleaners and the lady had asked ‘which one is yours?’, Arthur had pointed at Merlin.

 

“You don’t own me, you know?” Merlin glared at Arthur when he once again had mentioned it.

Arthur blinked in surprise.

“I’m not your luggage or a piece of furniture. I’m my own person, I don’t want to be treated as if I was someone’s property!” Merlin huffed, somewhere between ranting and pouting.

“But…” Arthur seemed to be very confused.

“No, no ‘but’! I’m me and I only belong to myself. I’m a human being! See!” Merlin pointed at his limbs. “Arms, legs, head…human being!” He yelled.

“I’m…I know. I’m just…”

Merlin was about to start again, so Arthur closed his mouth.

“It’s always what you want to do. Movies? You pick what we see. Theatre? You already bought the tickets without even asking what I want. One of your boring work things? You make an appointment at the tailor’s for me to get a new suit and conveniently already told my barber I’d be dropping by after that. I’m not a trophy! Hanging on your arm to be shown off!”

Arthur blinked again. “I never thought you were.”

“Then why do you treat me like one?” The fight seemed to have left Merlin and he leaned against the window sill and just looked at Arthur.

“I…I don’t know what to say. If all of that bothered you so much, why didn’t you say anything? The ‘keep your personal belongings with you at all times’ was a thing of not paying attention and timing, you know I didn’t say that on purpose and you’ve been laughing just as hard as me back then.”

“It got old.” Merlin pouted.

Carefully, Arthur took a step closer. “You usually want to see the movies I’m picking and normally, we’ve talked about plays and musicals we wanted to see before I get the tickets. And sometimes…I like to surprise you. The look on your face and your shining eyes when I give you something that you didn’t even know you’ve wanted and to see how you get all excited about it…” He sighed. “I know the work things are boring and I admit wanting to see you in a new suit is a bit selfish. You just look even better when you’re all dressed up, so I’m just taking advantage of the company’s name to get an earlier appointment.”

Merlin still looked at him, the pout on his face gone. “I’m sorry…I thought…”

“I’m…I didn’t mean for it to look the way you took it.”

Arthur looked so lost that Merlin reached out for him and let himself be pulled into a tight hug. “I’m sorry, Arthur.”

Nuzzling into Merlin’s neck, the smile returned to Arthur’s face. “I still like to keep you with me at all times, though.”

“You do?” Merlin sniffed.

Arthur pulled back, grinning. “It would be awfully dull around here without you. And I guess, I got so used to you…”

Merlin poked him in the side and when Arthur pulled back and ran off, Merlin set out after him.