All you to do was watch them for all of six seconds and you knew that Arthur and Merlin were one of those patently boring couples who had loved each other since the beginning of time and always would until they had a final date at the Restaurant at The End of the Universe and sit in the same booth and snuggle until Merlin had a minor panic attack about food that wanted to be eaten and Arthur had to feed him ice cream until he calmed down a bit. They were the background couple to be the foil for the main romantic leads who would angst and bitch and moan about how they hated each other with all their secret love juice, and they would snuggle and snip and have pickle eating contests and offer advice. Truly horrible advice, mind you, but advice would be there along with the pickles. And the snuggling. And the pickle snuggling. And the Jedi duels with baguettes until one of their weapons broke and the other declared: "Your weapon is inferior to mine! We shall chop it up, dip it in egg sauce and have it for breakfast to show it's shame!" and then Merlin would make the French Toast of the Gods. And Arthur would have it with pickles.
Arthur and Merlin were the kind of couple who would go into a coffee shop and get free muffins for being so sickeningly adorable. They were the kind of couple who tourists took pictures of. They were the kind of couple who watched marathons of bad TV in their boxers and threw noodles at one another. They were the kind of couple who played hot-seat Civilization IV so enthusiastically they were practically in each other's laps as they moved through the ages, and Merlin mocked Arthur for never leaving Monarchy. They were the kind of couple that was so boring without splendidly perfect for each other they were, you were kind of surprised they weren’t old and throwing popcorn at ducks.
It was all there, all the staples of a good relationship: Arthur put Merlin's head under his arm and noogied him until he grinned, Merlin propped his chin on Arthur's shoulder to see what he was doing, they cuddled up on their Couch Of Mutual Laptop Staring and refused to move for hours, sharing companionable silence unless one of them wandered over to something entertaining and/or naughty. They would live in their boxers and socks if the girls didn't basically also live with them. They gave each other foot rubs (usually preceded by trying to shove their feet in the other person's face) Merlin made grabby hands for another bottle of soda and Arthur would be the one to get up and get his “damn radioactive mutant juice. Arthur would pick up more on his way home when they were elooking low. Arthur would ask Merlin to make his favorite food—which was “…and pickles” and Merlin would make ice cream and pickles, or ramen and pickles, cheese crackers and pickles, milk and pickles, rice and pickles, chicken and pickles, or the ever popular pickles and pickles.
They wore matching mismatched socks.
The problem of course being that then Arthur would then mention his crush on some girl in class, or Merlin would get a call from his fringe benefit/girlfriend/sugar mama/shut-up-we're-complicated-like-a-freaking-Celtic-knot-type-person of the month (Merlin was a heartbreaker. You wouldn't think so, but it's always the innocent looking big eared ones) and the observer would realize that Arthur and Merlin—while being the more adoringly boring couple ever invented since ever—weren't actually dating.
Oh sure, Merlin bought Arthur plastic horses and knights for his ever growing collection of action figures, and yes Arthur would leave at four AM to drive to the 24 hour chemist and get Merlin some more cough medicine when he got another one of his skinny-boy colds. Yes, of course they took each other to dinner and Merlin would fix Arthur’s tie and Arthur would fix Merlin’s hair (“Which, really, is the acne of lost causes.” Arthur would say, whilst continuing his struggle with Merlin and his bowl cut). Yes, Arthur would give Merlin piggyback rides around Morgana—declared the cheese in the middle—and they snuggled like a pair of dysfunctional cats (“Merlin hold still I’m trying to lie on top of your face.”
All of these things were true, but they'd just get matching confused expressions if anyone actually referenced anything about them dating and point to each other and, in sync, say: "He's just my best mate." Then say jinx and demand a soda.
It was just kind of weirdly unbelievable that they went to sleep in separate beds, and had sex with other people and took them out on dates and whatnot, because...they were just...
"So sickeningly adorable you half want to vomit and half want to put them in a box and keep them forever?" Morgana asked as she flipped through her Anthropology notebook.
"Yes!" Gwen said, "I was like oh what an adorable couple and then they weren’t...and it isn't like they aren't still adorable! I... he had his head on his lap! Not that that isn't okay for boys to do, but he was petting him! There was petting and…they were like two ducks! And ducks mate for life. I want to make gold casts of them and make them into trophies and then make an elaborate rating system of couple who would win the Merthur.”
"Would we win a Merthur?" Morgana asked.
"We'd have a special trophy case for it in the dinning room." Gwen patted her hand.
"You should see them when they get new shampoos," Morgana said, scanning over her notes for the day, which mostly consisted of doodles of clown bowling pins and Indiana Jones fighting snakes in space. Good class period, then. "They'll play guess the scent and Arthur will tickle Merlin until he tells Arthur, but Merlin always gets it. Mostly because Arthur always gets Irish Spring.”
Gwen put her hands to her mouth in a distinct Oh my goodness that is so cute and then waved her hands a little, "how do you even stand it?"
"They've always been like this, and if you think they're painfully cute now… When Arthur got a prize in a cereal box he'd give it to Merlin, and Merlin kept them in a little cardboard box decorated with macaroni noodles—which his mum still has and shows everyone Merlin brings home, I might add— Merlin would take his little construction paper flag and tell our neighbors that their gardens had been conquered in the name of King Arthur."
"Oh my God, they would have been so tiny! With their tiny hats and their tiny scarves and their wee little socks!" Gwen said and flailed a bit more and Morgana got up to get her a mug of tea to calm her down and Merlin and Arthur looked up in sync to see her walk out. Merlin took off his glasses and Arthur took them from him and began cleaning them, saying Merlin was rubbish at cleaning.
“She seems nice,” Merlin said, snatching his spectacles back and wrinkling his nose, “You licked my glasses.”
“I always lick your glasses,” Arthur said, because he did, because he was disgusting and had been since Merlin first got his glasses in second grade and was incapable of keeping them clean.
“You pickle licked my glasses,” Merlin pointed to the open jar of pickles.
Arthur smirked then turned back to Morgana, “I like her, she’s much too good for you. I will be sad when you inevitably go all Billy no mates again and cock it up.”
“We should nosh it up.”
“No one says nosh anymore, Merlin, and yeah, let’s pop ‘round to the chippie or something.”
Both Morgana and Merlin stared at Arthur, before Morgana poured Gwen some tea and left with a, “God you’re British.”
“I didn’t see any milk and sugar in that tea. That is not a proper cup of tea, Morgana! You fail at tea! Gwen, break up with her until she makes tea properly: this cannot stand!”
And faintly they could hear “…little glasses!”
You didn't talk about Arthur. You didn't talk about Merlin. You talked a lot about Arthur and Merlin— as a general rule. Their mates did it, Merlin’s mum did it, people who had never met them did it, Arthur was fairly sure that they were in the uni’s promotional material. Merlin said that his Profs called roll for Merlin and Arthur, even though they had never had a class together.
Most importantly you didn't date Arthur and you didn't date Merlin, you dated Merlin and Arthur. Sure you went to bed with just one of them, but it was always sort of close call on that count. It had been known for girls to forget which one they were actually supposed to be dating—a girl Merlin and Arthur had been seeing for months had given them both anniversary gifts and had ended up asking which one she was allowed to sleep with, since no one could remember which one she had started off going for. That…that had been bad. The answer had sort of ended up being both. Oh Freya. Merlin had fond memories of her before she went off to be a sailor. She had understood them. Them and knots. She had a very firm grasp on the subjects of Them and also Knots, and the nice little bit where those two areas of academia collided.
The bad part had been when they also hadn't known which one of them she was supposed to be breaking up with. That had been bad. That...that had been a problem.
Sophia was number 15 of Blonde Girls Arthur Keeps Dating Because He's Wants To Match With Someone in Merlin's scrapbook of such (when they first met Merlin had taken a sudden Polaroid picture of her shocked and haughty face and crowed happily.) She had thought that things would be a bit more...intimate then it had been when she'd been simply flirting with Arthur. Let it never be said she hadn’t done her best there, as it was blindingly difficult to seduce a man when his best friend was always there and Arthur clearly wanted him there. Not that she really minded Merlin, exactly, it was just…he was always there. She wouldn’t have managed at all had she not been in many of his Psych classes; she was into behavior modification, and Arthur was poking around Abnormal psych warily, like it might bite him, or give him too many homework assignments.
Sophia turned out to be mistaken in this. Oh, sure he’d shown up to their first date alone, but she'd had all of sixteen minutes with Arthur— talking about his footie matches and her horseback riding— when Merlin called Arthur and Arthur had not only taken the call, but talked to him for ten minutes before going with a, "sorry Sophia, but I have to go, Merlin and Morgana blew a tire because neither of them should be anywhere near a car.”
"Don’t they have other friends?" Sophia had asked and Arthur had paused as if the idea of Merlin calling someone not him for any kind of problem was an unthinkable atrocity. He reiterated, "Merlin is stranded with Morgana, I need to save him, who knows what two hours in a car with her will do to him. She might put him in make-up or something. Cheers Sophia, knew you’d understand."
And then he'd been gone. She had stared down at her coffee in utter confusion, because Arthur hadn't been bored, surely not, he'd been laughing and smiling with her. And he did text her! He didn’t even do that stupid waiting game guys did, but neither was he clingy. She wasn’t sure how he did it. The next date, Merlin had actually come along, and the date after that Arthur seemed incapable of telling a story where Merlin hadn’t played some major role. So it made perfect sense that Sophia was more than entirely resentful of Merlin. It wasn't like she didn't think Arthur could have friends, they would stop him from becoming unbearably clingy for one, but it would be nice if they could have some alone time. You know. Ever. She couldn't even have a proper goodnight kiss without Merlin hanging over them like a cheerful big-eared cloud.
Really Sophia would have given up the whole thing if it weren't for the fact that Arthur was so charming, strong, attractive, just short of unbearably British, well-groomed, rich, muscular, well proportioned and would probably give very patient and attentive oral, or at least screw like a champion. He was also not too charming. Sophia was extremely wary of men who were too charming. Arthur had a healthy dose of narcissism and thick-headedness to balance out his virtues. Though that pride and stubbornness could be a good thing. Arthur was clearly the sort of guy who took the number of times a girl came with him as a point of pride and...and... really if Arthur paid half as much attention to her as he did Merlin he would the best boyfriend ever. She just needed to get that attention.
So it was perfectly logical that Sophia, as a psychology major with a focus on behavior modification, could just...tweek Arthur a little. Reward him for paying more attention to her. He lived with Merlin, Merlin got to see him all the time, and Sophia was Arthur's girlfriend now. It would give Merlin a chance to find someone; they were too helplessly codependent— they finished each other's sentences without even realizing they were doing it. Really, it was for everyone's good. She just needed to figure out what, exactly Arthur liked more than Merlin that she could reward him with. She thought about sex, but she couldn’t justifiably have sex with him at this point without being an utter slag.
She considered her option while waiting for Arthur to show on their fifth date.
"Hey Sophia, sorry I'm late."
"Merlin need help?" and of course Arthur didn't even notice any particle of displeasure in her voice, and he even smiled at her little that she asked after his favorite pet Chemistry major.
"Nah, a thing came up, but Merlin's covering for me so I could spend some time with you.”
Sophia blinked, "What?"
"Oh it's just my aunt,” Arthur waved the idea of family away with a shrug, “She's one of those people that never ever stops talking, you know? So Merlin stood in for me for her to talk at. He's going to be sitting through at least four hours about how should eat more. Who knows, maybe this time he’ll actually cave and lose his waifish figure. Anyways-"
"Oh," Sophia said, "that was nice of him."
"That's Merlin for you. He'd carve out his liver with a spoon- oh he's like that one bloke. With Hugh Laurie and his dispiriting American accent. The one. Where the guy handed over the gun—He's like Laurie’s character’s best friend. You know the guy? With the face? Based off Sherlock Holmes?"
She blinked at him and Arthur waved it off and grinned at her like she was the only thing that mattered at the moment and she decided she could plan later.
Merlin showed up to where Arthur was staring up at the town clock tower with a hazelnut roast coffee, three sugars—Arthur always said he wanted two, but that was a lie— and a splash of hazelnut creamer and some hot cocoa, which was really the only way to drink the cafeteria coffee. Arthur insisted on drinking coffee instead of tea this year, because Arthur didn't want to appear like a British stereotype—despite that he basically did everything is his power to make himself a British stereotype. He had weird teeth, his name was Arthur, he constantly used somewhat outdated British slang, he followed rugby and footie religiously, he was brought up Anglican, and he ate everything smothered in brown sauce: it was sort of a hopeless case.
Arthur stared up at the clock face and sipped his coffee, made a face, and then pretended he hadn't made any such face, because clearly he was above such face making. Merlin took a sip of his travel-mugged tea and stared up with him.
"Boys, what are you...oh it is that time again?"
"Five minutes," They replied together and Morgana stood next to them, Gwen came with her, seeing as her hand was tucked into Morgana's pocket. They'd only had one pair of gloves, so Morgana wore one, Gwen the other, and they kept their free hands in Morgana's pocket amongst the cough drops, chapstick and coins. There might have also been a screwdriver and a chopstick.
"What's in five minutes?” Gwen asked, looking around for a parade or some such excitement.
"It's their anniversary," Morgana sighed,
"Sixteen years ago today, or rather, in five minutes, a five year old Arthur smashed a snowball in a three year old boy's face, felt bad about it, and got him a cup of poorly made tea to make amends. And then declared the little boy could be the Merlin to his Arthur and took him inside to introduce him to his stuffed animals."
"How do they even remember that?" Gwen asked
“Mum does,” they both replied.
"Also, what is Merlin's real name?”
"Merlin," everyone replied, in a way that suggested it wasn't, but God only remembered what it actually was. Not even Merlin's mum called him by his birth-name anymore.
"For awhile I was Merlin Penn when Arthur proposed to me that first time," Merlin added.
"How did that go?" Gwen asked.
"Well I was four and Arthur was six so we got bored of playing house after a week and decided we should be Jedi Knights, so I was Merlin-Penn-Obi and Arthur was Arthur-Wann-Kenobi-Maximus."
"Merlin was my padawan," Arthur said, "I taught him everything he knows."
"He put a blindfold on me and bopped me over the head with a pool noodle until I went home, and then he spent half an hour trying to open my window with the force. And then when I let him in he had snipped the hair off one of Morgana's dolls and superglued it to my head. Mum was so confused between laughing at us and being angry."
"Mum usually was," Arthur said. For his seventh birthday a five year old Merlin had said, very stoically, that since Arthur didn't have a Mum, and everyone should have a Mum, he could share Merlin's, because Merlin had the best Mum ever. Merlin's mum had maybe sort of cried a lot and Arthur hadn't had the heart to tell Merlin that wasn't how the world worked (since Arthur had been seven and of course knew how the universe worked. He'd gone to first year.) He’d solemnly thanked him and then later smashed his face into the cake and demanded Merlin give him back his new truck. Granted that was how most of Arthur's birthday's ended. Also just any time that Arthur and Merlin were near a cake. Their love was very cake face smashy.
"Wait, the first time?" Gwen asked. According to Morgana, who explained as the boys stared constantly at the clock, the second time Arthur had wanted to ride on Merlin's bicycle and promised to marry him if he could take it around the neighborhood, only getting divorced when Arthur kept stealing said bicycle and Merlin never got a turn, "and they fought for a whole afternoon before they made up over fudgecicles." The third time they had found a baby bird and decided they needed to be good parents for the bird and "Merlin was such a bleeding heart, so I promised to make an honest man out of him, but then the bird died anyways," Arthur added, because Merlin hadn't known how to feed it. So it choked on the night crawler he got it-digging in the dark and trying to stuff it down the bird's throat because birds eat worms, and he had chewed it up maybe a little. Merlin had be inconsolable for a week.
"Why does so much of your friendship involve dead birds?" Morgana asked.
The fourth time was more of a joke, as they had gone to Sadie Hawkins together, no one knew why they were having Sadie Hawkins since they were in Britain, but the girls on the school council insisted, and a hitching post had been there, a bet had been involved, and maybe Merlin might have gotten a little bit hog tied. Arthur maybe might have resented having to wear kicks, a cowboy hat and flannel.
Arthur did not look good in flannel.
Of course there'd been that time at Ren Fest, and that other time outside the movie theater, and that time in the tree, and that time Arthur had been a bit drunk and declared Merlin his "heterosexual life partner for life" and put a ring pop ring on him...Oh! And that time last year when Arthur had carried Merlin across the threshold and knocked his head against the door frame, and that time Arthur had declared he'd marry Merlin for his cocoa and the tax benefits if nothing else. And that other time he did that, which was every day as far as anyone could tell.
"Really though, they aren't dating," Morgana said.
They sipped their drinks in unison and the clock tower shifted to 3:45 PM and they both picked up a handful of snow and mushed it into one another's faces. Then they handed each other their respective beverages and took a drink as the snow dripped down off their chins. Ritual complete, Arthur slung his arm over Merlin's shoulder and they walked away.
Gwen looked at Morgana beseechingly.
"Wait until they're out of earshot to squeal, they might still decide to start a snowball fight with us.""
"With their little mittens!" Gwen insisted, "and what do they do if there's no snow on the ground?"
"Get snow cones usually," Morgana said. She gauged the distance of the boys and said, "you can squeal now, if you'd like."
Gwen did and maybe pointed a little, but it was a very reserved and adult squeal, considering, "with their little snowballs! And his mum! Morgana, he gave him his mum."
“She makes Arthur eat his vegetables and everything. And one time they went out and found a mama duck dead on the street and the baby ducklings were just following each other around in a circle, and Arthur took the dead mama duck and dragged it to their backyard, and their mum let them raise them in the backyard. And screamed murder for Arthur touching a dead bird and soaked his hands in peroxide.”
Really, Arthur and Merlin's friendship was a building founded on the carcasses of birds.
“I want to make sandwiches named after them and have them be right next to each other on the menu, and every time someone orders an Arthur sandwich and Merlin sandwich together I will give them cookies in the shape of hearts and baby ducks,” Gwen said clutching Morgana’s head to her bosom in excitement, as she was want to. Morgana really didn’t mind and maybe nuzzled into it a little.
So that whole thing with Sophia was going pretty well according to Arthur and Merlin. Though Arthur was rubbish at dating girls, mostly because he thought chicken equaled love (see: The Dead Bird Conundrum) and would just bombarded his intended with hot wings until she threw up or fell madly in love with him. So, Arthur often made Merlin write his soppy romantic texts/cards for him, and pick flowers out for him, but that was because "Mum made Merlin watch romantic comedies with her, so he knows all about what girls want to hear," and in revenge Merlin made Arthur talk about his feelings. ("Arthur, you need to talk about your feelings. Your feelings about girls. Your feelings Arthur, your feelings") Sometimes they watched romantic comedies for research. Which devolved into mocking the film in which they would fill in the romantic lead’s inner monologue, which consisted a lot of “You have breasts and ambition! I hate you, let’s never make out until at least fifteen minutes into this film,” and “are we in love yet? How about now? Should I lean against something? Would leaning help our epic romance? You’re the only one for me! Don’t you know that all other women are just side characters?” and, the ever popular “You cannot deny the epic chemistry between your rubbish beard and my clumsy breasts!”
Unless they were watching one of those films in which case “Oh Mr. Broody McBrood, please let me into your Broody Pants!”
“Never! I must lean suggestively against this wall for at least another two hours and freeze my bollocks solid, go get yourself almost killed and then maybe I’ll inexplicably love you.”
“KAY THANKS, B-R-B.” They'd shout together and throw popcorn at the screen.
Then they went to go pick out shirts together, even though they didn't dress even slightly alike. Save for the part where they were both of the opinion that only the colors red and blue existed. Well, Arthur had suits, and Merlin had horrendously ugly tweed suits, because Merlin wanted to be an old man and have a cane and go to bed at 8 pm and get up at the crack of dawn, and yell at kids to get off his lawn. And honestly they were both inordinately fond of brown—but if there were actual colors involved they were always either red or blue. Sometimes to be daring they wore both red and blue.
They also borrowed each other’s clothing. No one knew how or why because it wasn’t like they were the same size or had the same tastes, but there was at least one shirt and three ties that no one knew who they actually belonged to. Mind you, these were the ties that they had cut eye holes in so that they could play Ninja Turtles. They’d had to get another one for Gwen when she and Morgana started dating (because now they had all the turtles and Gwen would play wouldn’t she? Under the combined force of the Great Puppy Dog Eyes (Arthur exclaimed that he was forceful and dynamic and did not have puppy dog eyes, but that boy could pout like someone had stolen his ice cream pony) Gwen had melted like a hot fudge sundae abandoned on the beach because Arthur was too busy shoving sand down Merlin’s trousers to eat it, and thus she was Donatello.) They knew that tie had been bought for her; the others had belonged to one of them at one time before they were dedicated to their higher purpose, but Arthur declared that neither of them would wear a purple tie anyway, and thus it had waited patiently for Gwen.
Anyways, Arthur went on dates with Sophia that Merlin tried not to interrupt unless it was really super important, and when Arthur got home Merlin demanded details. Arthur would call him a 14-year-old girl and tell Merlin everything anyways, and Arthur might get a bit dreamy in the eyes, and Merlin would make cocoa. Morgana and Gwen (who basically lived with them, because they were closer to campus and Morgana's actual roommate had a rabbit that shit everywhere, so Morgana had moved out second week, and Gwen's roommate kept her sexiled, and the other two people Arthur and Merlin had lived with had long ago mysteriously vanished, and no one had really cared why) sat in the living room and shook their heads at the Boys and stole the leftover cocoa, because Merlin made magnificent cocoa. Magnificent.
"Really, how does he do this without the help of booze?" Morgana asked the reindeer mug. Gwen shrugged and cuddled up against her, sipping her cocoa and flipping through channels on the telly, stopping when she saw hippos. Gwen loved hippos, she found them toddly and precious, and Morgana often doodled Gwen riding a Hippopotamus to the moon, as, if one was going to ride a hippopotamus, one might as well go to the moon with it; sometimes Gwen had a crown and was declared High Queen of the Hippopotamuses. Sometimes Morgana doodled Gwen in just a crown, but that was a side issue and had nothing to do with hippos, but it also had nothing to do with anthropology, and yet there it was, in her notebook. Funny old world.
Raucous laughter came from the Den of Inequity (they had a sign and everything) and Gwen tried to keep down her sudden hippo plus boys flailing. "You know the worst part?" Morgana said, hoisting her mug at the door, "They're totally talking about her eyes and the way she smells instead of how she's stacked. I usually end up being the person who says the most lecherous comments about women. Merlin has genuinely commented on a woman's beautiful soul. I think his mum broke him a little bit."
The bedroom door slammed open and Arthur entered the Living Room with conviction, Merlin entering the room like a normal person. Arthur liked entering rooms with conviction, as if no one believed he was actually there unless he convinced them he was. With his conviction.
"We need scarves!" Arthur declared. "Morgana, where does one get scarves? Not wavy little things, good, solid winter scarves."
"Why do you need scarves?" Morgana asked, petting Gwen's hair. It was just so texturally appealing, the tight curls curling around her fingers like they didn’t want her to go, going all “but baby it’s cold outside” and plying her with more hypothetical eggnog. If the eggnog didn't work, her hair was totally going to break out the blankets and a movie, and snuggle her into staying the night. That's how Gwen's hair rolled.
"Sophia and I need matching scarves. Knitted ones, not Merlin's pounce-y neckerchiefs," then he got an idea, which was rarely good, "Merlin, we could knit them."
Merlin stared at him then burst out grinning like musicals burst out in song and aliens burst out of people’s stomachs.
"And make hats!" Merlin said enthusiastically, "hats and socks! We could have endless socks. We could make socks enough for all the poor sockless first years upstairs who don’t want to do their laundry."
“Merlin, we can’t save the sockless first years.”
“We can save everyone. We can be heroes! We could make hats with little flaps on them. I love hats with little flaps on them. We can be flappy heroes.”
And so they went, determined to save all the poor sockless first years and maybe later they would remember what they needed matching scarves for. How they knew where to find yarn and not scarves was just one of those things. They girls turned back to the telly because they were experts in cuddling. They could have Cuddling Workshops. They were much better then Merlin and Arthur who, more often then not, cuddled by Arthur shoving Merlin down and laying flat over him like they were trying to make a bread sandwich. Sometimes Merlin sat in Arthur's lap for a laugh and just forgot to get out, but for the most part they were really dysfunctional cuddlers.
Gwen asked, "So how is that going to turn out? Please say matching mittens. With pom-poms."
"They're going to tie each other up with grossly expensive yarn made from llama wool, have fights with knitting needles, and then forget they were doing this entirely.”
"I want an aquarium full of them. Little adorable fish them. And little fish Merlin can make sure Arthur has all his favorite colored rocks while little Arthur fish goes and gets fish chips from the top and gives them to Merlin." Gwen flailed a little bit of cocoa onto the Laptop Couch and they debated which side of the cushion was less stained to flip it to. One side had orange on it. They didn't know orange what, but it was prison colored, and the other had brown splotches like it was dreaming of being a giraffe. The chose the giraffe; Morgana was fond of giraffes.
"Arthur," Merlin was more then slightly drunk and hanging off Arthur like ivy, "Arthur, Arthur, Arthur, Arthur," he added eloquently and Arthur's arm automatically wrapped around his waist to keep him up, because it would be like Merlin to sprawl all over a dancefloor and get a however-many inches stiletto stuck through his arm or something. Merlin was not made to go to college parties; he’d get roped into a drinking game, and be utterly tupped in roughly ten minutes.
“God, you're a cheap date. What?" Arthur asked, his attention taken from Sophia yet again. Sophia may have hinted at her girlfriends to get Merlin off and doing something. Maybe one of them would fancy him and start a drunken snog so she and Arthur could go somewhere a bit more private.
"Arthur tell me I'm pretty. Mark, said I wasn't pretty," Merlin hazily pointed at the staircase as if that would help them figure out who “Mark” was and Sophia decided she needed easier friends. Merlin was grinning and trying to pout, but Merlin couldn't hold a pout longer than the half second it took to register that he was trying to pout before he broke into a grin. Surely Mary would be all over Merlin. She once made out with a lamp at a party.
"Merlin, were I unwed-"
"You are unwed, and you have yet to take me in a manly fashion, so those are lies. Vicious horrible lies."
"God, you're picky. Fine, if you were a girl or we were both gay blokes, I'd shag you so hard that we'd both fail out of uni because we'd never get out of bed. "
Merlin grinned, "What about if you were a girl? Why do I always have to be a girl? If you say anything about my neckerchiefs I will gag you."
"You let Gwen do your nails last week. Anyways, I'd be too busy having lesbian sex. If we both got turned into girls I'd make sure you who were who I experimented with, even with your inevitably horrid haircut."
Merlin somehow seemed satisfied with that, greeted Sophia and said she looked rather nice in her new dress (how did he know it was a new dress?) and it suited her face, and then he was gone again, because he "bloody loves this song, I hope everyone knows to watch their face. He gets all elbows when he dances."
"Do you want to dance?" She offered, sidling closer and playing with the buttons on his coat, "and you know, tell me I'm pretty too, since I am a girl and have a wonderful haircut.” She tried to pass it as joking, but she didn't think it was wholly believable.
"Yeah I could dance for a bit," he then bowed over her hand and swore that he always liked to dance with the prettiest girl in the room and even offered her his arm, because Arthur was kind of a complete prince like that. Also his parents had forced him at gunpoint to go to ballroom for years, and now he was vice president of the ballroom dance club because it seemed stupid to have spent so much time and money becoming awesome at something and not share his gift with the world. And it was fun to point out popular dance beats and go "this is a samba" or "we can merengue to this" and well...actually you could merengue to anything, but that was a side point.
And for awhile, three or four songs, it was great, they were getting close, Arthur was totally into her, they’d been pleasantly jostled closer to a shadowy little corner of the room, and then when she was about to wrap a finger in his hair and ask if maybe he wanted to maybe go somewhere a bit more…well, you know, Arthur looked up, huffed and shook his head. She followed his gaze and there: Merlin was curled up on the couch- under Arthur's jacket no less- and entirely asleep.
"He's such a lightweight, I’m not even sure how he’s still alive. Hey, listen, sorry about this, but how about I'll catch you later; I've got to get him home."
"I could help you," she offered quickly. "I mean, I brought my car and it's cold out. He can barely walk sober.”
Arthur grinned, bright and brilliant and took her up on it. Arthur hoisted Merlin up and Merlin plaintively whined, “I don’t want to live on the moon.”
They got Merlin curled up and mumbling to himself in the backseat. She drove them to their flat and Arthur gave her a kiss and she watched as he helped Merlin up the stairs. He called her on her mobile and said they could meet tomorrow for lunch or something, but Merlin was in his grapple octopus stage of utterly pissed, and she glowered at the phone and said something sweet and noncommittal.
Really, it would be Arthur's own good, seeing as Merlin kept holding him back, and if Merlin were really such a good friend he'd understand that when your best mate dates someone they need alone time. Once in awhile. They hadn’t even made out yet, she’d gotten farther with her first boyfriend. And she’d been nine.
It wasn't all that awkward for Merlin and Arthur to wake up in the same bed. Merlin's bed was lofted and he kept falling out of it—because he was helpless and easily startled— he’d then get confused and crawl over to Arthur's bed and flop all over Arthur like they used to when they were kids, before they knew it was weird. When Merlin fell asleep somewhere Arthur would just toss the lug into his bed, yank off his trainers and choking hazard fashion statement, then get ready for bed. Arthur hated sleeping by himself, seeing as he had grown up with like...sixteen dogs ("three, Merlin, there were three" "OVER NINE THOUSAND.") and they had all loved Arthur and refused to sleep outside, and he and Merlin had had more sleep overs then was probably legally justifiable. So Arthur was used to going to bed with three (or four, if you counted Merlin) smelly, warm bodies jostling to pant right in his face, and he wasn’t adverse to returning to a comparable situation once in awhile.
Merlin yawned and stretched his neck until a truly disgusting amount of cracks emanated from it and then, utterly cheerful for someone who had fallen asleep drunk the night before, rested his chin on Arthur's chest and asked if he might like some French toast. Of course Arthur did. Merlin only knew how to make five things that didn't come from a can, but he made them well, and that was better then Arthur's lonely little tuna casserole-especially since they both hated tuna.
"Merlin," Arthur asked, padding out from the bedroom, not bothering to put on a shirt or trousers, since they liked to bum around in their pants anyways. The girls kept the heat up in the flat like they wanted to cook eggs in the open air, and were now used to the fact that they liked to sprawl around in their boxers. To be fair, Gwen and Morgana also liked to bum around in boxers and tank-tops, so really they were always about five minutes away from becoming the opening to a porno.
The girls were tangled up on the futon and could sleep through anything that wasn't alarm or cold water. Merlin had once dropped every pan in the kitchen in a giant rainfall of crashing metal and Gwen had merely snorted and rolled over. "Do you think we're weird?"
"Yeah," Merlin said, whisking together eggs and half-and-half and some brandy whilst humming Sesame Street Songs. Mum had let him watch American telly, which was why Merlin was mentally deranged and insisted the final letter of the alphabet was “zee” and not the proper and obviously correct, “zed”. He’d stopped when Arthur had threatened to waterboard him in figgy pudding until he learned the Queen’s English and Merlin still murmured that Grover had said it was zee and Grover was perfect.
"I mean...” Merlin paused, “Uh...be more specific yeah? Yesterday we bought yarn and then, instead of knitting, decided to pretend we were Spiderman and Zombie Spiderman. And the day before that we decided that for Halloween we should get a big shirt and trousers and walk around like we collided into one being. You said we should be called Merthur, and I said that sounded like a horrible disease to get from some back alley hooker. Then you said Arerliner and I said it sounded like a make-up company, and you smashed my face into your muffin.”
"No I meant, like...how much we touch. And stuff, whatever dude, you know…and stuff," Arthur was trying to resist fixing Merlin's hair, and that just made him painfully aware of how often he did fix Merlin's hair and that just made him feel awkward. It wasn’t his fault. Merlin had painfully stupid hair.
"We're best friends," Merlin took a thick slice of French bread—you had to make French toast from French bread; otherwise where did the French come from? It wasn't like the toast made out with other bits of toast with its tongue. "People who think it’s weird for best mates to watch out for each other haven't had a proper best mate. This about Sophia?"
"Little bit, yeah," Arthur shrugged, took the plate of French toast from Merlin and slathered it in maple syrup.
When he turned around Morgana and Guinevere were standing expectantly with their own plates and he nearly burned himself on the range. "Don't do that!" he yelped and Merlin turned and tried to defend himself with the spatula.
"Toooooast," The girls implored holding out their plates. Merlin slapped their hands away with the spatula, but they were the French Toast Zombies and nothing would satisfy them but delicious battered toast flesh. “Give us all your toast and syrup.”
“I banish ye foul creatures of the deep!”
"We are the Hungry. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile," Morgana declared.
"Unless you say no, in which case we'll respect your boundaries." Gwen added, because she thought the Borg could be nicer about their universe conquering, and tended to hide behind things whenever they were on the screen.
Merlin grumbled and began slicing more bread.
So Sophia got Arthur a soft and cozy sweater in red, and that was nice. And she took them to a theme park and let them ride on the roller coaster that Merlin was afraid of, but pretended he was not afraid of, and can we just go on the bumper cars already? And she rubbed his back and watched action flicks and, okay, yeah they went dress shopping and ate at restaurants with portions the size of a tea cup and such, but sometimes they just went driving and listened to horrible pop songs, because Arthur liked horrible pop songs and no one could stop him.
And then she found The Chocolate. He wasn’t sure how she found out about his sick, sick love of what Merlin called "dog testicle sized hunks of chocolate, mint, orange, coffee, toffee and peanut butter that are wrapped in like...five layers of disgusting. With a gobstopper in the middle, to make it that much more an affront against confectionariness."
Merlin just didn't know how to eat them, and never mind they had been recalled, Sophia had found them somehow and she did it just to put a smile on his face. There may have been celebratory celebrations of an adult nature, but nostalgia deserved such things.
"Hey Merlin, look what Sophia found for me, because I’m awesome.”
“If it’s another sweater I’m setting you on fire for your own good,” Merlin said, clicking around on way to conquering France or whatever he did when Arthur wasn’t around. Merlin looked up and then fell out his chair to scramble away and press against the wall. "No, get rid of it before the Gods of Chocolate strike you down for your continued love of their most damned atrocity; damn it to the farthest reaches of confectionary hell. I banish ye foul creature, I banish ye to the deep and the dark and may no child learn of your horrid actions. May the Chocolate Gods forgive us this unspeakable transgression. Oh, but they will coat us in fudge until we die of fudge-inhalation. Do you want delicious fudge-y death? Banish it to the bin. Bin it Arthur, quickly, before someone sees it, or worse, you make me eat one," Merlin said with the air of one who has practiced such a speech on the off chance any of Arthur's searches for the confections turned up something. Arthur was so hacking onto Merlin’s laptop and seeing if he’d actually written it. He just needed someone to dangle their keys in front of Merlin or say there was a kitten in trouble to distract him.
Arthur was mildly impressed that Merlin still remembered the candy just by the packaging and then pulled something else from his pocket. Merlin never had understood the true genius that was chocolate, mint, orange, toffee, coffee peanut butter wrapped fruit suckable treats, because he was an uninformed simpleton, with pedestrian tastes and a horrid lack of true culinary appetite, but Arthur accepted that about him. Merlin had, however, been able to polish off the company's coconut pineapple squishy sugar covered fried dough treats like they were messages from God to his (uninspired) stomach. Merlin held the package reverently and they both tore into their respective nostalgic stomach pumps waiting to happen.
About twelve minutes later they were both curled up on their sides and moaning. "How did we ever eat this shit?" Merlin groaned, clutching his belly, "I feel like a baby volcano tribble was born in my stomach and is now making thousands of little volcano tribbles, and soon they'll be having mad volcano tribble incest. And I'll die and you pine for me until you die, and we have so angered God by our eating of this devil food that we’ll go to hell and be sodomized by pickle salt covered pineapples.”
“Don’t talk about pickles, pickles are too lovely to be mentioned at this time,” Arthur said, "that was disgusting. How did we ever think those were good?”
"I was five. I thought worms were tasty," Merlin defended and Morgana and Gwen peeked in, saw the candy wrappers and slowly backed out again.
"Curse you are your gastrointestinal nostalgia."
"Merlin, I need you to get a knife and cut out the pain."
"Can't...move. Will have to use...my teeth."
"Boys," Morgana sighed from outside and Gwen peeked out from the loo with toothpaste foam and shook her head at the Den of Iniquity.
Sophia’s initial attempt at seducing Arthur away from Merlin had ended in Arthur being sick for three days, developing a sudden and rather suspicious wool allergy, and still being boyishly excited about roller coasters. He had, whilst looking a bit green around the edges, thanked her for the thoughtful gift, and then thrown up in a bin when they got to the snack counter at the cinema. She thought maybe she should have tried testing the candy out in a small amount before buying a stock in it. She'd have candy for Halloween for ~years~, though (after reading the ingredient's list) she thought she wouldn't trick-or-treaters after that first year. Maybe she'd feed them to the psych rats scheduled for termination or something. They'd eat anything and they were usually mildly lobotomized anyways.
So she tried letting Arthur do all the things Merlin didn't like him doing, like she would if she were trying to steal Arthur away from a highly unsuitable girlfriend. Only Arthur and Merlin watched rugby and footie together, they played vaguely disgusting games with one another, talked through the night about whatever, wrestled on the carpet for the remote, watched truly terrible telly together, and listened to rubbish pop music and sang at the top of their lungs until people threw things at them, and then Arthur generally would wrestle them, and Arthur was always in the process of trying to teach Merlin to ballroom dance, and Merlin was always sort of in the process of falling over. They happily raced all over town trying to find the perfect vanilla ice cream to go into their sundae experiments and had once had a six hour trip to get the correct kind of plastic dinosaurs.
There wasn't anything Merlin and Arthur didn't already do together besides sex. When they went to movies together the boys held each others hands more then Arthur tried to make a move on her. There was nothing to tempt him with other than the fact that she had a vagina and Merlin did not. And that would really hold Arthur's attention for so long.
She needed to get drastic.
"You need to break up with Arthur."
Merlin looked up from his coffeeshop spaghetti (why the coffeeshop sold spaghetti was up in the air) he blinked and slurped the rest of his noodles. "Uh...wait...for you? Isn't that kind of...um?"
"You're more his girlfriend then I am. You keep getting him these little gifts that always make him smile, and whenever he goes somewhere, he goes there with you, and you two always win at Taboo," one time Merlin had made a noise at the back of his throat and Arthur had correctly guessed "Whippersnapper" and no one had gotten it, "and you two spend all night talking, and you cuddle an indecent amount, you make each other dinner, and he makes sure you always wear a hat when you go out, and he buys you hot tea after zombie movies, because you have a weird theory about how tea is what is stopping the zombie apocalypse, even though we just saw 28 Days Later, and moreover he knows your weird theory about tea stopping zombie attacks."
Merlin blinked at her a few more times. "Er... We're best mates Sophia. Best mates know each other, okay?"
"What is his dream romantic night?"
"What? I'm not going to-I'm not talking about this with you."
"Does it involve candles? Rose petals?"
"No, he'd want to go to the gym a- er...I don't want to discuss your and Arthur's sex life-"
"But you know what his perfect date would be! You know exactly what he wants in bed. He gives you piggyback rides Merlin," because that was a sticking point, "He tells you you're pretty when you need him to, and you do the same for him, you go shopping together, you try out new restaurants together, you brunch together. You don’t go to brunch, you brunch. You. Are. Dating."
"I love brunch!" Merlin protested, “who doesn’t like bacon at noon?”
"When he's had a bad day he goes to you, you cuddle on the couch, you make scrapbooks Merlin. Scrapbooks. Do you think I haven't noticed? Most guys, when they have best mates, watch telly together and play video games. You have literally painted his toenails and braided his hair. He would never let me do that; he won't even let me touch his hair."
Merlin dropped his fork and she clutched her handbag.
"You backseat drive," Sophia said, "I want to backsteat drive Merlin. Don't you see that you're stopping Arthur from having a meaningful relationship with a woman, because you already filled up the bits a woman would fill. Merlin if you were a girl the two of you would be married by now."
"Yeah, but...we..." Merlin blinked a few more times, "wait, are you breaking up with Arthur through me or what?"
"I'm telling you that you need to back the hell off so Arthur and you can stop being so co-dependent on each other and you can form adult relationships; with other people. And I want you to help me-"
"So, I'm going to go, because if you think you can guilt me into abandoning Arthur, then you...yeah. Um." He picked up his spaghetti and shoulder bag and ran out of the coffeeshop.
About five minutes later her mobile rang. It was Arthur.
"Sophia, this is going to be short because Merlin is on the other line, so I'm breaking up with you. No, I don't want to talk about it; no I’m not going to change my mind. I'm not going to date a woman who gets jealous of my best mate, that’s ridiculous and petty. He’s Merlin, you really think I’m…yeah, bye."
The mobile clicked and she was left confused. That ploy always worked in movies, and she had made her argument very well, she thought. It was…she…
The mobile rang again and she opened it automatically, "What?"
"And don't you dare try and take revenge on him, or me, because I won’t stand for it," and it clicked off and she stared at it in utter bewilderment.
What the fuck just happened?
Merlin stayed on the mobile with Arthur until he got to their building. Arthur let him in and then Merlin stayed on it anyways until Arthur took it from his hands with a huff and clicked it off. Merlin fiddled with his hands all the way back and Arthur had to shove him through the door. He could have led him, but that would have been lame. Merlin didn't even squawk in protest so Arthur knew something was wrong.
“What’s wrong Merlin? You’ve got your baby duck face on.”
"Dude-" Merlin began, because all heart-to-heart-we-have-feelings-and-we're-~touching~-them conversations should start with "dude."
"Arthur... we're dating. Arthur we're dating. We're like a couple on the Lifetime channel, if one of us was a single 30 year old woman and the other was a stereotypical gay man. Arthur, Arthur, Arthur, Arthur, Arthur, Arthur, we're married, we should just get rings and shake our heads at America and Mexico for being so mean to couples like us, and adopt children from China. China, Arthur, we should adopt little girls and paint our walls pink and make remarks about cheese and have fights about getting dolls or Tonka truck because we don’t want our little girl to think she’s slotted into a gender role, and Morgana will get noise making toys in vicious revenge for all the times you’ve insulted her and the fact we will have made Gwen the godmum-“
Arthur stared at Merlin looked at him with post-break up fervor and "weirded out epiphany" delirium. The thing was that every single one of Arthur's girlfriends did this eventually. Usually around the four-month mark they would go harass Merlin, maybe to learn more about Arthur, maybe to tell Merlin to back off, but Merlin was always accosted and came back positive they were dating and coming up with more ridiculous hypothetical lives together.
"Arthur, Arthur: brunch," Merlin insisted, clutching his shirt and shaking Arthur a bit, though since Merlin was like the Weak Sapling That Really Couldn't, he mostly just tugged Arthur's shirt around. "Arthur, Arthur, I see your true colors shining through, I see your true colors and they are red and blue, and they're beautiful like a rainbow. That's us! Sappy love songs Arthur! We're sappy love songs."
“You misquoted that. And you love brunch," Arthur sighed, "you love breakfast foods, but you're never hungry in the morning, and you say the noon sun makes eggs taste better, and who doesn’t like bacon at noon?”
"Only couples brunch," Merlin said, "when we go to brunch there’s couples! We are on the Wall Arthur, we're on their wall of cutest couples, because only couples brunch. We don’t go to brunch Arthur, we brunch. We verb nouns Arthur. We verb them. Arthur, Arthur, Arthur, I'm your plus one to everything. We pick out sheets together. We have a favorite China Pattern"
“Our favorite China pattern is Star Wars and, Merlin we've gone over this. We're not a couple until you want me for my cock. Do you want me for my cock?"
Merlin didn't look even mildly dissuaded, "Arthur, my mum sends you mum sweaters. They have reindeer on them. With pop out antlers."
"That's proof that we're brothers, and now this is getting weird and incest-like."
"Or her son-in-law," Merlin said, pacing the room, "All your girlfriends break up with you because of me. They don't want to be the other woman, Arthur. The other woman."
"Merlin, people who date are just doing the stuff they could do with their best mates if they wanted, except for the part where they have sex and kiss, and cuddle on the couch, and make ridiculous sacrifices for each other, and stare deeply into one another eyes, and buy scented candles and..." Arthur trailed off as Merlin shoved the scented candle from the table into his face. It smelled like pie. Who doesn't want their house to smell like pie? Pie is delicious.
"We cuddle on the couch, Arthur."
"Yeah but, you know...poorly."
Merlin just continued to stare with his apple pie scented candle and Arthur went to make some tea.
By the time Morgana and Gwen came home from antiquing Merlin was curled up on the couch and moaning something about how he was going to be Arthur's hot young thing and there was nothing Arthur could do about it, and they would fill out tax forms together, and Arthur was going to help him raise the children damnit, because he was not a stay at home mum, and yes of course he was the mum, because he was the more sensible and nurturing one, and they would end up poor because they had no spending impulse control, so then they would have rob banks together, and when they went to prison Merlin would be Arthur's bitch in exchange for protection, and then they'd break out and run away to Rio and go under the name Jorge and Peter and Arthur would grow a rubbish beard and Merlin would wear a pancho and they'd have mad, crazy, sandy gay sex on the beach. And then Merlin would bitch at him, and Arthur would drink all the time, and wouldn’t anyone think of the children?”
"We could be heroes," Arthur replied.
"Don't quote Moulin Rouge at me when I'm planning our Big Gay Bank robbery."
"I thought it would help the mood."
"Stop stereotyping us Arthur," Merlin sighed, “just because our sex lives changed doesn’t mean we need to fall prey to societies expectations of us.”
“You love Moulin Rouge.”
“Nicole Kidman is a talented and beautiful actress, now can we please focus and not stereotype us? I don’t want to start caring about shoes. I hate shoes. Unless I’m the butch one. I could be the butch one and hang around in jeans and a leather jacket and everyone would shake their head and tell you not to spend time with me and you’d run around in tight pants and I’d get a motorcycle and we’d go on a crime spree to fund our gay love.”
"Oh, because you weren't doing that enough when you decided to hire Ringo the Screamingly Heterosexual-But-Maybe-Just-Maybe Jailbait Pool Boy." Arthur wasn’t even touching Merlin’s last comment. Sure Merlin was about as butch as a Persian named Missus Fluffykins, but he could not survive another Prank War for Great Justice. Merlin had no sense of boundaries when it came to pranks. He was brutal, brutal and inventive and vicious.
"He needed a job, okay?"
"We don't have a future pool! You decided it gave you hypothetical rashes."
Morgana and Gwen stood in the doorway as Arthur patted Merlin on the shoulder and said something to the effect of Merlin looking horrible in a pancho, and that Arthur only grew magnificent beards, and why were they robbing banks anyways? Especially since they had kids.
"Oh, did Sophia break up with you then?" Morgana asked as she put their brand new ugly 1940's vase on the table and Gwen put evergreen branches in it and Merlin continued on about how their kids would grow up with gay prison dads and start using heroin and shitting in their neighbor's rose garden, because seriously? Who decided Merlin would be a good parent? Arthur pointed out Merlin was the one who brought up kids in the first place.
"I broke up with her. She said Merlin was already dating me. Now belt up and go away, I need to convince Merlin I don't need to blow him in order to be his friend."
"My blow jobs will be horrible, but you'll grab my hair and moan anyways, because you won't want me to feel bad.” Merlin banged his head into his pillow. “Moan like the giant bag of whore you are.”
"Merlin, if you blew me, I solemnly promise that I would criticize your technique until you cried or improved to the point of being, at the very least, a 50 quid suck-hooker."
Merlin looked up. "I want to be a 100 quid hooker. I want people to have to go to ATM's in order to sleep with me. I want Americans to complain bitterly about the exchange rate when I bob them off." He buried his face and moaned theatrically. Arthur was fairly sure at least fourty percent of Merlin's freak-outs were just for the sheer spectacle of them.
"For a blow job? You'd need to make your john ejaculate rainbows," Arthur snorted, "let's be reasonable here. We'd make sure to get at least three hundred for ass fucking."
"Which way?" Merlin looked up from the pillow he was clutching.
"300 for receiving, 400 for dishing it out," Arthur promised, “blokes will line around the block for a taste. You’ll be able to retire to a life of peace and hemorrhoids.”
Merlin seemed moderately contented with this and went to go make popcorn, as he was want to do when mildly distressed and Morgana took a hand-flapping Gwen to the abandoned bedroom. They was high pitched gibberish after that, but Arthur accepted that about Gwen. She made Morgana happy; she should have the right to get unnaturally excited about things. Like fish for some reason.
"Arthur! Arthur, no I've got it, we can get really drunk and make-out, and then you can break up with me and no one will think we're dating anymore."
Arthur took a handful of popcorn and turned on the telly. He had homework, but he also decided he was Superman and didn't need sleep. Sleep was for the weak, or the brunette. Blonds did not need sleep.
"No Merlin. We've talked about this, your really need to pay better attention to me. Our love is true, epic and bromantic. We do not need the gay touch to make it better. We had T-shirts made. Leave the gay touch to people who do not need to get drunk to do it. Do not take the sacredness of the gay touch away from nice people like Gwen. She likely had to do a lot of soul searching to get where she is, and now she has to date Morgana to get tail. We don’t want to invalidate her, do we? Hasn’t she sacrificed enough?”
"I said nice people, Merlin, keep up.”
Merlin considered this and then flopped against Arthur to watch the telly with him and snuggle up with their blanket. Arthur put an arm over his shoulder. It was just Merlin's usually post-break up freak out. It always happened. It would pass and then they could go back to being epic bros.