A sudden, loud buzz miserably wakes Merlin up.
Groaning, he stretches his hand and gropes the ground beside him for his phone, only finding it after he squints his eyes open and catches sight of the blinding light of the screen. He grabs it with sleepy, clumsy hands, then blinking a few times, manages to focus his vision enough to notice he's got an incoming message from Arthur.
He frowns and turns around to look at Arthur's sleeping bag, but the supposed lump of Arthur's body isn't there. He sits up straighter, rubbing at his eyes before clicking on the text.
| 'i'm outside, come out' from Prat
The thought of leaving the tent and the cocoon of his sleeping bag in the dead of night is unpleasant but, Arthur being Arthur, had to go and do something stupid in his absence. Merlin being Merlin, a.k.a Arthur's best friend, can do nothing but go in his search to save his arse.
Messily, Merlin places his glasses over his ears and the bridge of his nose and levers himself up with another throaty groan. Arthur better have a good excuse for this.
Despite the warm summer night it’s definitely a lot warmer inside the tent, so Merlin's body gives an involuntary shiver. Peering around, he finds the rest of his classmates and teacher Kilgharrah peacefully resting in their tents, so he tiptoes away before someone notices him.
Lightening the screen of his mobile, Merlin makes his way amongst the bushes, using it as a lantern. "Arthur?" he calls, becoming uneasy as he recedes from the camp, the only sounds in the quiet night those of the distant birds and crickets.
"I will bloody strangle you, Arthur, if this is a joke," he says, but when he doesn't get a response he just stops in his tracks and dials Arthur's number.
"Merlin?" Arthur's voice comes after the first ring. "Where the fuck are you?"
"Me?" Merlin says, incredulous, stepping over a branch carefully now that he doesn't have the light of the phone to light his way. "What the fuck are you doing sneaking around in the woods at night? I was sleeping, Jesus, Arthur!"
Arthur snorts and Merlin swears he hears the eye-roll. "Get your skinny arse over here, Merlin, I've got to show you something."
Merlin grunts and resists the urge to facepalm. Only Arthur would make him get up at arse in the morning to probably show him the most stupid thing ever. Only him.
"Where is here?"
"Just walk in a straight line, I can hear you nearby," Arthur tells him, sounding irritated.
"Arthur," Merlin whines, batting a mosquito away with an unpleasant hiss and a wild wave of his free hand.
"God, Merlin, really," Arthur says, starting to sound more and more annoyed. "You're a bloody chicken. Come on, hurry up, I'm waiting."
"Prat," Merlin whispers.
"Just hang up, you're almost there," Arthur growls before the line goes dead.
Merlin stares down at his mobile, mutters, "right." Then, he pushes his glasses up his nose, and keeps on walking until he sees a remarkable silhouette, unmistakably Arthur's.
"Fucking finally," Arthur says, sounding nervous and out of breath, as if he's the one who's been waken up and forced to walk into the middle of god knows where. He's wiggling his hands in front of himself, looking at Merlin with a shy smile.
That's the most suspicious thing Merlin has ever seen.
"Um, Arthur? Care to explain?" he says, rubs at his eyes under the glasses, and then places them rightly as he steps closer to Arthur.
Arthur takes a breath, urges him to come forward with an impatient hand. "Just come here, would you?"
Merlin rolls his eyes and does as Arthur says, feeling stupid in his blue pyjamas and with his rumpled bed hair and sleepy face. Even though Arthur was sleeping earlier, too, he seems as golden and flawless as always. Utterly gorgeous.
"Can't we do whatever you want to do in the tent?" Merlin asks, punctuating the last word.
Arthur's jaw clenches and Merlin knows better than to say anything else, so he simply waits.
"Do you always have to bloody fuck everything up?" Arthur's voice is definitely irritated now. "I'm trying to do something nice here!" he cries, pointing down to the ground beneath Merlin's feet where—oh. Merlin frowns, notices a blanket spread wide in an imitation of a picnic, and a pair of Cokes and a pathetic bouquet of wildflowers. There are also two lanterns that—Merlin notes—are the ones providing light around the place.
Merlin glances up at Arthur and a smile creeps up on his lips. "Did you prepare this?"
"No, it was here when I happened to pass by. What do you think, Merlin?" Arthur crosses his arms over his chest, eyebrows knitted together, bottom lip jutting out.
"But—okay, okay. Why did you do this, though?" Arthur stares at him with that look Merlin sees constantly on Arthur's face lately, that 'you are irremediably idiotic' kind of look, and an idea occurs to him. "Oh, you want me to call Gwen, is that it? Did you prepare all of this for her and—"
"Shut up, Merlin!" Arthur says, face red with anger. "God, what on earth are you on about? This is for you, you idiot! This is for you and me. You're the most oblivious person ever, Jesus, Merlin." Arthur literally facepalms.
Merlin raises his eyebrows. "What do you mean this is for me, Arthur?" he asks, because he still hasn't caught on.
"I'm trying to tell you that I fucking fancy you, okay? I've fancied you for years but everything I do—you just never seem to notice any of it."
Arthur is pouting.
This is serious, then.
"Oh," Merlin says cleverly. This is quite the revelation.
Arthur likes him. Him, his nerdy, unpopular, awkward and best friend Merlin. Arthur fucking fancies him and Merlin doesn't know what to do with that piece of information. Merlin has had the most ridiculous crush on Arthur for so long he has learnt to live with it and accepted the fact that Arthur ever considering Merlin something more than a friend would be impossible. And now—now it seems like it's happening and Merlin is so stunned he can't even process the fact that it's coming true.
"So that's it, that's all you have to say; oh."
"What?" Merlin takes a step closer. "No, no, it's just. I wasn't—I just wasn't expecting this, Arthur."
Arthur snorts, shoulders slumped.
Merlin's heart clenches. "But—!" he hurries to say. "I—" He plays with his sleeve. "This isn't a joke, is it?" He needs to make sure.
Arthur's face goes from disappointed to hurt, and Merlin quickly walks closer, almost tripping in his haste to get to Arthur. Arthur catches him by the elbow with a small, fond smile.
"Does it look like I'm joking?" he asks, softly.
Merlin looks around them, down at the ground where Arthur has made an effort to get this to look comfy and nice. "Um, no, actually, no, it doesn't."
"There." Arthur moves forward, unsure.
Merlin's breath catches. This is so odd. This is Arthur and him, but this is Arthur doing something romantic, for him, not like a friend. This is them, but this is not what they normally do. And yet, this is good, so bloody good, too fucking good to be real.
Merlin smiles to himself and then at Arthur, who's looking at him expectantly. "Well?"
"Does this mean I get to kiss you?" Merlin asks, his smile growing into a full grin when Arthur just barks a laugh.
"What do you think, you idiot?" he replies, then tugs Merlin closer until their chest are pressed together and their faces almost touching. "And what are you waiting for?"
Merlin smiles and then crashes their mouths together, throwing an arm around Arthur's shoulder and caressing the back of his nape as he lets his tongue explore Arthur's mouth slowly, touching the seam of Arthur's lips first, then brushing against his slightly chapped bottom lip and the row of crooked teeth until it meets Arthur's eager tongue inside.
He doesn’t even think about how ridiculous this whole situation is, or the fact that Arthur has the most idiotic ideas ever and couldn’t find another more appropriate moment to tell Merlin he likes him other than now and here. Merlin just tilts his head back a little and nips at Arthur’s lower lip, dragging him along with him when he takes a step backwards towards the supposed picnic blanket.
Arthur makes a moaning noise in the back of his throat and presses himself closer to Merlin again, devouring Merlin's mouth in a possessive snog and smashing his cheek against Merlin's glasses, making Merlin scrunch his face when it digs against his eye, forcing him to pull back.
When Merlin glances at Arthur his vision is blurry, so he takes his glasses off. Arthur snatches them away from Merlin's grasp and throws them to the grass carelessly, ignoring Merlin's protested oi!, and pushing Merlin down to the ground, too.
Merlin goes willingly, and just as Arthur settles between his legs, Merlin decides he couldn't ever be more glad that they are both wearing their soft cotton pyjama bottoms, because they give a much better friction than jeans or anything else would. Merlin can feel everything. Arthur's cock is half-hard and pressed against Merlin's thigh and Merlin's is poking Arthur in the hip and it's wonderful.
"Oh, bugger," he whispers when Arthur latches his mouth against his throat, sucking a kiss over the underside of his jaw and another under his ear.
"You're so warm," Arthur says, sliding his hand inside Merlin's shirt and running it over Merlin's side, his ribs, rubbing a nipple and then back down, until his hand is resting with his fingertips grazing the small of Merlin's back.
"And you're so bloody—ngh."
"Always so coherent, Merlin," Arthur smiles against his collarbone and Merlin pulls at Arthur's hair in revenge for making fun of him and having stopped kissing his skin, which only makes Arthur laugh against the hollow of his throat and then lick a trail up to his chin that has Merlin's eyes almost rolling back inside his head.
"God, yeah. Don't stop," he pants, rutting back against Arthur's hip and fisting Arthur's shirt at the back whilst Arthur licks every inch of skin visible that passes anywhere near his mouth.
Arthur moves down and hitches Merlin's shirt up to his armpits, exposing his flat belly and sending Merlin a dark glance just before he attacks Merlin's nipple with fervent kisses and licks, leaving Merlin grinding against Arthur's stomach. He tries to put his hands on Arthur's skin too but Arthur's tongue, insistent and wet, feels so incredible over him that it keeps distracting him.
Merlin shoves Arthur's pants down slightly a second later, just so, and Arthur groans when Merlin palms his arse cheek and clutches at it tightly, controlling the rhythm of Arthur’s hips as Arthur gasps and clings to him.
In the midst of the sprawl of limbs and the roaming hands tearing clothes away, they miss the footsteps coming, and only realize they are not alone anymore when Merlin freezes as he hears a muttered 'fucking hell' that sounds suspiciously like Gwaine.
Merlin scrambles up to his elbows in surprise, untangling himself from Arthur and warning him of Gwaine's presence. They catch sight of him, standing there and with a hand shoved down his joggers.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" Arthur husks, voice full of annoyance, face red again—now for completely different reasons.
"Well," Gwaine looks between the two of them with a smirk. "I was gonna take a piss but now I feel like having a wank, too."
Arthur practically growls and Merlin swears Arthur's hands tightens his hold on his body. Merlin would laugh if not for the fact that he was just about to come, and his skin is prickling and itching where Arthur's tongue’s been just seconds ago and where Merlin needs it again.
"Get. Lost," Arthur says through gritted teeth. "Now."
Gwaine smirks at them smugly, flips his hair with a flourish and disappears amongst the brushes.
When Arthur's done glaring daggers in Gwaine's general direction, he glances back down at Merlin and goes back to kissing him senseless and rocking his hips against Merlin's with abandon, until they are both panting too much, and soon after, coming in their pants at the same time.
A moment passes, and Merlin ends up caressing Arthur's blond hair softly without realising as they catch their breath. Merlin attempts to think about how much their relationship is going to change now after this, but he can't bring himself to care as long as they do this again and again and again.
He feels a small rush of wind biting at his skin when Arthur pushes himself up and leans on his forearms, hovering over Merlin with a tiny smirk.
"What?" Merlin says, feeling self-conscious, stupid, squirming a little because his pants are all damp and uncomfortable and his nipple is wet with Arthur’s spit, knowing his cheeks are flushed, his hair is terrible and his body is not nearly as impressive as Arthur’s.
"Nothing," Arthur replies, only smiling wider. He inches down and captures Merlin's upper lip in a soft kiss with just a little bit of playful tongue.
Merlin quickly feels himself growing hard again after a few more snogs, and by the feel of it, apparently so is Arthur. Merlin smiles against Arthur's lips, glad that they are sixteen and have good stamina, as he considers the idea of going back to the tent where they can have more privacy. He likes what Arthur has done here, though, with the blanket and the flowers—it’s silly and sweet, and Merlin knows how much effort Arthur has put into it, because truth be told, Arthur has never been one to be romantic.
He pulls his face back, looking Arthur straight in the eye and licking his lips. “Thanks. This is really nice, y’know,” he whispers.
Arthur swallows, avoiding his gaze, neck flushing. “Uh, I—yeah.”
Merlin chuckles, hooking one leg over the back of Arthur’s thighs, pulling him closer. “Always so coherent, Arthur,” he mocks. Arthur smiles, rolls his eyes and glances back down at him. "But, do you think we could move this to the tent now, though?" he asks, then adds in a lower voice, “Away from prying eyes and where you can muffle your noises when I suck you off?”
Arthur groans in response.