‘Are you sure no one saw you?’ Arthur demanded, even as he pulled Merlin further into the room, slamming the door behind him seconds before he slammed his mouth over Merlin’s.
Merlin’s answer was muffled and he patiently allowed his mouth to be ravaged even as he steadied himself against the door. When Arthur finally pulled away for breath, he quickly ducked down under the cage made by Arthur’s arms and moved away, turning back around to be faced with Arthur’s pout.
Merlin rolled his eyes.
‘First of all,’ he said, folding his arms. ‘That pout may have worked when you were five but now it just makes you look stupid-’ The pout immediately disappeared from Arthur’s mouth and a scowl appeared instead. ‘And secondly, for the billionth time, yes I am sure that no one saw me! Give me some credit, Arthur.’
Arthur raised an eyebrow.
‘Seriously?’ he demanded, wishing now that he’d had the sense to just continue with the kiss. Arthur was pretty, but when you engaged his lower brain, his upper one tended to disappear. Merlin knew this for a fact: he had often used sex as a tactic for when he needed to distract Arthur. By the time Arthur remembered what it was that he was annoyed about, he was already drifting along on a post-orgasmic haze and was too fucked out to do much more than grunt in irritation.
Arthur folded his arms in a mockery of Merlin’s stance and started tapping his foot, waiting.
Merlin finally gave in but not without first giving a dramatic roll of his eyes (Merlin’s eyeballs had received a great deal of exercise from the moment that he had been first introduced to Arthur. Never mind the fact that they had both been approximately three years old at the time.)
‘Fine,’ he huffed, before straightening up. Clearing his throat, he began to recite: ‘Lance and Leon are in the common room, arguing with Elyan and Percy about how golf is so much more interesting than snooker. Gwaine’s hanging around in the background drinking beer and loudly remarking about how both golf and snooker suck balls.’ Merlin paused. ‘I actually think he’s a tiny bit drunk. Anyway, they’re probably going to be there all afternoon, so they won’t be a problem.’
‘Good,’ Arthur nodded. ‘Then?’
‘Gwen, Elena and Morgana are out shopping,’ Merlin reported dutifully. Arthur’s spine immediately relaxed upon hearing that his witch of a sister wasn’t anywhere close. ‘They will be gone all day. Will’s fallen asleep in front of the TV, and no one else is in the flat because they’re all off doing fun things like normal uni students do at weekends.’ He stopped and glared at Arthur. ‘Satisfied?’
A slow smile spread over Arthur’s face and his eyes took on a predatory gleam.
‘Satisfied?’ he purred, striding forward in a way that he knew did things to Merlin. ‘No, I wouldn’t say that. Not yet, anyway.’
‘Hmm,’ Merlin bit his lip to stop the smirk from spreading over his face. ‘I don’t suppose there’s anything that I can do to help you with that?’
Arthur’s eyes sparked.
‘Funny you should say that,’ he murmured, moving closer.
Half an hour later, Arthur lifted his head and rolled off Merlin’s loose and boneless body, flushed, panting and unable to keep the silly grin off his face.
‘Yeah,’ he panted out, one arm flopped on Merlin’s chest and the other thrown over the side of the bed. ‘Yeah, I guess I’m satisfied now.’
‘Prat,’ he murmured, but his tone was laced with affection.
‘Your prat,’ Arthur murmured back.
They lay close, cuddled together in each other’s warmth, until the argument from the common room down the corridor reminded them that there was more to the world than the room that enclosed them.
‘Remind me again why we have to keep this a secret from all of our friends?’ Merlin murmured some time later, idly tracing a spiral on the skin of Arthur’s bare forearm.
‘Because they would be absolutely unbearable if they found out,’ Arthur replied patiently. ‘We would never hear the end of it. Especially from Morgana. God, Morgana. Can you imagine all the “I told you so’s”?’
Merlin let out a hum of contemplation.
‘I suppose,’ he said eventually. ‘Gwaine won’t be any better, I’ll tell you that. But – we’re going to have to tell them eventually, right?’
Arthur may have been an oblivious prat at the best of times but that didn’t mean he didn’t pick up on the sudden uncertainty in Merlin’s voice despite his attempts to hide it.
‘Idiot,’ he said fondly, nudging Merlin’s side gently with his elbow. ‘Of course we will. This isn’t some sort of sordid affair, and neither of us have been seeing other people … have we?’ It was Arthur’s turn to sound hesitant and uncertain.
Merlin gave him a look.
‘Now who’s being an idiot?’ he said with a snort. Then he looked down and started studying the weave of the bed sheet interestedly. ‘You know I haven’t. You know that it’s only ever been you, Arthur. There’s no one else – at least, there hasn’t been for me.’
‘Me neither,’ Arthur said quickly, eager to reassure him. ‘It’s just you and me, Merlin. Always has been.’
‘Then remind me again why we’re keeping this a secret?’ he asked, cocking his head.
‘Well, it’s kind of a big deal, isn’t it?’ Arthur said, his eyes fixed on the ceiling. ‘You and me, I mean. Telling the others – well, it will change things, won’t it?’
‘And we all know how well you react to change,’ Merlin said with a wry smile.
‘Well it wouldn’t do to shock everyone, would it?’ Arthur asked, waving an arm expansively. ‘I mean, they’d all be hit with it completely out of the blue. I’m not sure how they’d take it.’
‘God, can you imagine their faces though?’ Merlin couldn’t help but giggle at the thought.
‘Like they’d been hit in the face with a frying pan,’ Arthur snickered. ‘Which, thanks to Gwaine and Will, we already know how that looks.’
Merlin let out a snort of laughter.
‘You’re right,’ he said. ‘I know, it shocks me too. But yeah, it will probably be best if we don’t spring the idea on them too quickly. Get them used to it, and stuff.’
‘Yeah,’ Arthur said, smiling happily. ‘Besides, I like having you as my dirty little secret.’
‘I like being your dirty little secret,’ Merlin replied, throwing Arthur a flirty glance.
‘Emphasis on the dirty,’ Arthur growled, before quickly turning over and trapping Merlin underneath his body.
‘They do know that the walls are paper thin, right?’ Elyan asked, sounding genuinely concerned.
‘Doubt it,’ Gwaine said promptly. ‘Or else it never stopped them going at it like rabbits the last twenty times, so it probably won’t now either.’
‘Maybe we should tell them?’ Lance suggested, sounding uncertain, his cheeks ever so slightly flushed in embarrassment.
‘As long as I’m not the one to do it,’ Leon said. ‘You guys always make me the spokesman but there’s no way I’m getting into this. Let Gwaine do it. He’s got no shame anyway.’
Gwaine threw him a wicked grin.
‘You’re assuming that I actually want them to stop,’ he said, a lecherous note entering his voice.
The others all groaned. Percival grabbed a cushion and whacked it at Gwaine, who ducked just in time to avoid impact.
‘What?’ Gwaine protested. ‘They’re both hot and I have a healthy libido; they get to continue screwing in peace and I get a nice soundtrack to enjoy the evening – it’s a win-win situation.’
The others turned away in disgust.
‘We should have just gone along with the girls,’ Lance sighed. ‘They were lucky enough to get out of here before anything started.’
‘They were smart enough, you mean. Morgana saw the warning signs and left before she had to hear her precious brother gasping and grunting in the next room.’
‘Even shopping would have been better than this,’ Elyan said gloomily.
‘Maybe we should just talk louder?’ Percival suggested.
Leon let out a grunt.
‘What about? We already discussed how golf is better than snooker.’
‘Guys, not this again,’ he whined.
But it was too late.
They were still going strong over half an hour later, while Arthur and Merlin lay in the next room, still coming down from a post-orgasmic high.
Almost two hours later the keys jangled in the lock and in walked Morgana, Elena and Gwen, interrupting the indisputably highbrow sports debate in the common room that (somehow) had not yet degenerated into impromptu wrestling matches or outright sulking. The boys were growing up.
‘Is it over?’ Elena whispered, jerking her head over towards the wall of Arthur’s room.
Percival opened his mouth to answer her when a loud, resounding moan did the job for him.
The entire group winced as one.
‘Apparently not,’ Will said dryly. He had long since woken up from his mid-morning nap due to both the enthusiastic sports debate in front of him and the disturbingly loud, only slightly muffled sex noises from behind him.
‘They had stopped,’ Lancelot said apologetically. ‘They were quiet for a while. It just looks like they decided to start up … again.’
‘They just keep going at it,’ Elyan said miserably. ‘It’s like they’re animals or something.’
‘If they were animals I would have had them neutered by now,’ she said snippily, glaring at the offending wall.
‘Believe me, we would all have chipped in for that operation,’ Leon said gloomily. ‘Well,’ he said after a pause. ‘Gwaine might not have …’
‘Hey, I’ve suffered just as much as you!’ Gwaine protested, struggling up in his seat. ‘Just because I sometimes enjoy the auditory delights of two gorgeous, nubile men doing nasty, dirty things to-’
‘What I mean to say is,’ Gwaine said, getting to the point. ‘Is that it’s not all unicorns and rainbows from where I’m sat. I’ve suffered just as much as any man – any girl-’ he added quickly at Morgana’s pointed glare. ‘-here!’
There was a collective rising of eyebrows at this statement.
‘I have!’ Gwaine protested. ‘Do you know how many hours of lost beauty sleep I’ve had to endure? Merlin’s room is right next to mine, you know, and they’re loud!’
‘Arthur’s room is next to mine,’ Leon said pointedly. ‘So suck it up Gwaine.’
‘That’s not all!’ Gwaine said hurriedly. ‘I’m still pissed off that you lot don’t allow me to go to the cinema with them!’
There was a collective groan at that.
‘Are you still going on about that?’ Percival groaned.
‘It was The Expendables!’ Gwaine said insistently, as if that made all the difference. ‘Sylvester Stallone, Arnie and Bruce Willis in the same film! Not to mention Jason Statham. Jason fucking Statham!’ Gwaine all but wailed, crossing his arms and burrowing deeper into his armchair. ‘And I had to wait for it to come out on DVD!’
‘It’s Arthur and Merlin,’ Leon sighed, turning to Gwaine with a raised eyebrow. ‘You know there probably wasn’t very much actual film-watching going on there, right?’
One month earlier: What really happened at the cinema…
‘You know,’ Merlin sighed, flicking his tongue over Arthur’s lips contentedly. ‘I’m kinda glad no one wanted to come to the cinema with us after all.’
‘Hmm,’ Arthur agreed, and went back to kissing Merlin, gently licking his way into his mouth and nipping his reddened lower lip. ‘Mmm you taste of popcorn.’
‘Yes, I wonder why that is,’ Merlin said sarcastically, or at least he tried to but he ended up sighing happily instead. Then it was his turn to make an irritated noise when Arthur pulled away.
‘I am surprised though,’ Arthur said, smacking his lips together noisily, earning himself a venomous look from someone seated a few rows down. ‘I mean, why wouldn’t anyone want to come and see The Expendables?’
‘Maybe they just can’t handle so much macho manliness on one cinema screen,’ Merlin deadpanned, before diving back in to suck Arthur’s upper lip between his.
‘You’d have thought that Gwaine and Percy at least would have been up for it,’ Arthur mumbled.
Merlin pulled away.
‘You know, if you are thinking about Gwaine and Percy while I am kissing you, then obviously one of us is doing something wrong,’ he said dryly. He sat back and fluttered his eyelashes exaggeratedly at Arthur. ‘And such a pity too, considering how horny and practically gagging for it I am.’
Arthur licked his lips.
‘Gagging for it, are we?’ he murmured. ‘Well, we’ll have to see if we can do something about that, shan’t we?’
Merlin grinned at him.
‘Good thing there’s no one else sitting in the back row, isn’t it?’ he asked cheekily.
‘Who says I’d care if there were?’ Arthur pulled Merlin to him and kissed him hungrily, purring in his throat when Merlin practically melted against him, eagerly reciprocating the tonsil-examination.
It was a good thing that it was The Expendables that they had been watching because they spent the rest of the film doing very filthy and depraved things in the back of the cinema, and the only explosions that they noticed were the ones that occurred in their heads when one of them did something excessively clever with their tongue.
When later asked, both Arthur and Merlin give glowing reviews to the film, claiming that it was indeed, as thrilling and adrenaline-inducing as the trailers had claimed.
‘You know there probably wasn’t very much actual film-watching going on there, right?’
Gwaine’s look of righteous indignation slid into a smirk.
‘And the problem with that is …?’ he asked, raising an eyebrow.
The others snorted and rolled their eyes at him good-naturedly.
‘They’re still in their honeymoon phase,’ Gwen said, smiling as she snuggled up to Lance. ‘They’re all over each other. They can’t help themselves.’
‘Have you seen the way they look at each other?’ Elena sighed. ‘It’s so romantic!’
Morgana snorted at that.
‘Romantic?’ she huffed. ‘Maybe, if they could actually keep it in their pants for once. I swear, those two go at it all. The. Time. If I wasn’t afraid of actually scaring Arthur off the one decent thing that’s going for him, then I would have confronted him a long time ago!’
‘Yes, but don’t you think that it’s adorable the way that they are with each other?’ Gwen persisted.
‘What? Going at it on every possible surface?’ Will raised an eyebrow while the others all snorted. ‘You didn’t have to put up with Merlin over Christmas!’
‘Or Arthur,’ added Morgana.
Christmas break, the previous year …
‘Move to the left. The left, you idiot, not the right!’
‘I was – I was moving to my left. Prat.’
‘Yeah well – I was talking about me.’
‘And that’s different from normal in what way, exactly?’
‘Shut up Merlin, you’re not being very helpful.’
‘Oh sorry, your Royal Pratliness, I’m so sorry that I’m not being helpful in getting you off.’
‘Okay, okay,’ Arthur grumbled, only slightly repentant. ‘It’s just – could you angle your screen a bit upwards? I can’t see your face.’
Merlin mumbled something, but his expression was softer as he adjusted his webcam.
‘Yeah, that’s good.’
‘I’ve missed you, you know,’ Merlin said after a beat.
‘It’s only been a week, Merlin,’ Arthur said consolingly. ‘It’s not like you don’t enjoy spending Easter at home. Plus we’ll be seeing each other in just a few days, you know. And we get to skype every day.’
‘Yes, but that doesn’t really help when I’m horny,’ Merlin said, rolling his eyes. ‘Maybe we’ve been spoiling each other, but it’s pretty damn hard going back to just your own right hand after getting laid every day for the past – how long has it been?’
‘Seven months, give or take a few days,’ Arthur said steadily. ‘And why do you think we’re skyping instead of phoning? And honestly Merlin, it was all going well until you decided that calling me a ‘prat’ was a legitimate form of dirty talk.’
‘What, are you saying it doesn’t turn you on?’ Merlin shot him a sly grin.
‘Only because you had your hand down your pants when you said it,’ Arthur grumbled. ‘And speaking of – why don’t we get back to that?’
‘Yeah okay,’ Merlin said, sighing. ‘It’s just – it’s weird you know? Doing this with you on my laptop … in my old bedroom with my mum downstairs …’
Arthur rolled his eyes.
‘Merlin, I know for a fact that this isn’t the first time you’ve wanked off in your old bedroom while your mum was downstairs,’ he said, smirking. ‘And I’m not even going to say anything about how many times you’ve probably wanked off to something on your laptop. So I’m kind of failing to see the difficulty here.’
‘See?’ Merlin grumbled. ‘Prat.’
‘You love me anyway,’ Arthur said, grinning.
‘I said it once and you’re forever going on about it,’ Merlin sighed, though he secretly looked pleased. ‘You’re always going to hang it over my head, aren’t you?’
‘Yup,’ Arthur grinned, leaning into his webcam so that his face filled up Merlin’s screen. ‘Forever and ever.’
‘Hmm,’ Merlin said, hiding a smile. ‘I think I can handle that.’
‘Good,’ Arthur said, returning his smile. ‘Because it’s what you’re getting. Now, can we please get back to the wanking?’
Smiling, Merlin shook his head fondly and angled his webcam down.
‘Believe me,’ Morgana sniffed. ‘Their subsequent reunion and the sounds that came out of their bedrooms afterwards were anything but romantic.’
‘I’d say animalistic,’ Will said thoughtfully, nodding in agreement. ‘Wild, savage. Almost bestial in natu-’
‘I didn’t mean that,’ Gwen said hurriedly before Will could say more. ‘I mean more in the way of how they keep staring at each other with those love-sick expressions and keep running off together and being generally really adorable and obvious, but somehow still seem to think that nobody knows and that they’re being all secretive and discreet?’
‘Ahh,’ everyone nodded at that and made understanding noises.
‘I didn’t even realise that they were being secretive at first,’ Percy admitted. ‘I asked Arthur if he wanted to go on a double date with me and my girlfriend of the time, and he got this real panicky look on his face – ‘cause Merlin was in the room, right? – and started saying very loudly and very deliberately that he thought double dates were ridiculous and stupid and that he wasn’t even looking for someone right now, and that he liked things just the way they are, thank you very much, and then finally told me to sod off and go and mind my own business. He hadn’t realised that I’d invited him and Merlin, not just some random bint that I’d wanted to set him up with.’
Everyone laughed at that.
‘See what I mean about them being adorable?’ Gwen laughed, and even Morgana had to admit that the two of them were pretty cute together, reluctant as she was to use the word ‘cute’ to describe anything connected to her brother.
‘Anyone can see that they are head-over-heels for each other,’ Lance said warmly, looking at Gwen with just such an expression.
‘I wish they’d just admit it already,’ Leon said with a sigh.
‘I don’t know why they haven’t already, but I bet it’s all Arthur’s fault,’ Morgana declared.
‘I mean, it’s pretty damn obvious that they belong together,’ Leon continued. ‘I first realised that they’re practically married all the way back in sixth-form when Arthur kept fixing Merlin's school tie and Merlin kept going on at Arthur to eat his vegetables!’
‘I knew it since the first time that Arthur ‘accidentally’ dropped a glass of beer on my lap for flirting with Merlin,’ Gwaine said with a smirk.
‘Yes, well I’ve known since their very first play-date together when they were three years old, when Arthur insisted on bringing Merlin home and then wouldn’t speak to me for a week when I made Merlin smile at me instead of at him,’ Morgana smirked. She shrugged when everyone looked at her in surprise. ‘What can I say? Some people are just born married.’
Fourteen years earlier …
Merlin was three and a half years old and Arthur was almost four when they first met. Arthur was at the stage when all he wanted out of life was to be a courageous knight and go around questing; Merlin was at the stage where he wouldn’t go anywhere without his giant stuffed dragon Gary accompanying him.
When others later looked back on the meeting, they all had to admit that it was an accident that had been waiting to happen and that they should have seen it coming all along. Words such as ‘fate’ and ‘destiny’ were also used, though admittedly, the tones in which these words were spoken were more exasperated than awe-filled.
Merlin, happily making mud-castles on the floor with Gary the dragon at his side, had paid no attention to the blond little hooligan waving a wooden sword about and (strangely) making loud light-sabre noises to accompany each furious wave of his sword. This innocent indifference, however, was soon destroyed when – out of nowhere – Arthur’s sword came down and whacked Gary right across the head, sending him toppling into Merlin’s little mud castle.
‘I have saved you from the evil fire-breathing dragon, pheasant!’ Arthur had declared, proudly puffing out his chest. ‘You may now thank me!’
Merlin, who was staring at his toppled mud-castle and Gary’s mud-stained face, looked as if he was about to cry. At Arthur’s words, however, he focused his attention on the cause of his misfortunes and Arthur quickly found himself faced with the overwhelming fury of an outraged three year old.
‘You – you prat!’ he yelled. ‘You hurt Gary!’
Arthur stared at him, nonplussed.
‘I saved you from the evil dragon, pheasant!’ he said haughtily. ‘You should be thanking me.’
‘Gary is my friend!’ Merlin shouted angrily. ‘And stop calling me pheasant! I’m not a bird!’
‘I never said you were a bird,’ Arthur sniffed. ‘You’re just a dirty, smelly little pheasant who lives in my kingdom.’
‘The word is peasant, you clotpole!’
Arthur went bright red. Even at so young an age he hated being showed up, and it didn’t help that he hadn’t the slightest idea of what a ‘clotpole’ was.
‘You’re just angry because you’re evil too,’ he snapped, scowling. ‘You’re in league with the evil dragon. That makes you an evil sorcerer.’
‘I am not!’ Merlin protested, his hands clenching even though they were fist-deep in the mud. ‘Take that back!’
‘Sorcerer!’ Arthur intoned, pointing his sword at Merlin. ‘You’re under arrest!’
That was when the first mud-missile was sent through the air, landing with a great splat on Arthur’s shiny blond hair.
There was silence for a moment. Both Arthur and Merlin stared at each other, wide-eyed and unblinking.
Then, with a great battle-cry of the sort that hadn’t been heard for hundreds of years, Arthur threw down his sword and leapt forwards.
When Arthur’s mother Igraine and Merlin’s mother Hunith found them fifteen minutes later, Arthur had Merlin in a headlock, while Merlin had somehow managed to shove Arthur’s face into the ground.
Both of them were covered from head to foot in sticky, clumping mud.
Hunith and Igraine exchanged long-suffering glances.
Two days later Arthur and Merlin had their first joint play-date together, and Gary the dragon and Arthur’s wooden sword were relegated to the back of the cupboard.
Toy dragons and wooden swords, after all, were nothing when it came to new Best Friends.
Present, two days later …
Arthur and Merlin slipped out of the bedroom as quietly and discreetly as possible, trying to adjust their clothes and hair to avert any suspicions.
All their precautions were rendered useless when the light switch was suddenly flicked on, and they found themselves surrounded by almost all of their friends.
‘Arthur, Merlin,’ Leon said in a grave voice. ‘We are having an intervention.’
Both Arthur and Merlin exchanged twin looks of apprehension.
‘An intervention?’ Merlin asked nervously. ‘For who?’
‘For both of you, dumb-ass,’ Morgana said with a roll of her eyes. ‘No, Arthur, don’t frown at me like that for talking that way about your boyfriend-’
Both Arthur and Merlin let out identical little yelps of shock at that but Morgana just ploughed on.
‘No, no, you can’t, because I have been waiting months – no! I have been waiting years for the two of you to get your act together and then when you finally do, you don’t even have the decency to tell us-’
‘How did-’ Arthur began but Morgana spoke over him as well.
‘And I have been holding this in for so long, and I can’t any longer or I swear I will burst and please tell me you weren’t about to ask how we knew, because there is no one on the planet less subtle than the two of you-’
‘Seriously, Uther knew. That’s how bad you guys were. Uther knew.’
Arthur’s jaw immediately clamped shut.
When he next spoke, his voice was low, hesitant.
‘Is he very angry?’ he asked, subdued.
Morgana’s expression immediately went from terrifying to soft.
‘Oh Arthur,’ she sighed. ‘Is that what you were afraid of? You idiot – of course he’s not angry. He’s known how inseparable the two of you are since you were toddlers – we all have. He just wasn’t aware that you two had – shall we say ‘progressed’? – onto a – a more sexual relationship. You should have seen his face when he realised what it was that you were doing while skyping Merlin in your room.’
Arthur went bright red.
‘He – how did he-?’
Morgana’s smug smirk gave him all the information that he needed to know and his confused expression immediately morphed into a scowl.
‘Witch,’ he growled under his breath.
‘And proud of it,’ Morgana smirked, unconcerned.
‘So,’ Merlin said slowly. ‘You’re telling me that – this whole time – everyone knew?’
‘Well you weren’t exactly being stealthy there, mate,’ Gwaine said, clapping him on the back. ‘Incidentally, that noise you make when-’
‘Gwaine!’ Arthur growled, and Gwaine immediately backed off.
‘But we’ve been together for months!’ Merlin was saying. ‘Are you saying that you all knew right from the start?’
‘You two first snogged at last year’s New Year’s Eve Party,’ Elyan said immediately.
‘And you shagged two day’s later in Arthur’s bedroom while everyone else was out,’ Morgana added, looking down calmly at her nails while Arthur and Merlin gaped at her. ‘Believe us now?’
‘Why don’t you just go ahead and tell us what sort of condoms we were using, too?’ Arthur grumbled, but backed off when Morgana flashed him a rather scary little smile.
Merlin was blinking dazedly.
‘This whole time,’ he marvelled. ‘I can’t believe it.’
‘Believe it,’ Lance said grimly.
‘Hold on,’ Arthur was frowning now, his eyebrows drawn together and his mouth pulled down at the corners. ‘Hold on – Perce, if you knew that we were together then why, precisely, did you ask me to go out with some girl on a double date with you? What was that, some kind of entrapment? Force me to admit that Merlin and I were dating?’
Percival flushed at that.
‘Actually, I was asking both you and Merlin to join me,’ he said sheepishly. ‘There was never any girl, Arthur. I just – hadn’t realised that you two were trying to keep it secret.’
‘Secret being the operative word,’ Will smirked while both Arthur and Merlin groaned.
‘So now what do we do?’ Arthur demanded, running a hand through his hair.
No one said anything.
Arthur raised an eyebrow.
‘What – that’s it?’ he asked, confused. ‘You ambush me-’
‘Us,’ Merlin interjected.
‘Us,’ Arthur agreed. ‘You ambush us to tell us that you know, so that now we know that you know-’
‘Really Arthur, life isn’t one big Friends episode,’ Morgana muttered under her breath.
‘And now that we know – that’s it?’
‘Well,’ Leon said, scratching his nose. ‘Yeah. Kinda.’
‘Well,’ Arthur said after a moment. ‘I guess that’s it then.’
‘Seems that way,’ Elyan agreed.
‘We’ll just …’ Lance jerked his head towards the exit, clutching Gwen’s hand in his.
‘Yeah, I’d better go too, I have an essay that needs doing,’ Elena agreed, straightening up.
‘I’d better go and get ready for my date,’ Morgana announced, looking down at her watch. ‘It’s early yet, but this way I can take my time.’
‘I think there’s a footie match on,’ Gwaine said thoughtfully, causing Will, Percival and Elyan to look up interestedly.
Slowly, one by one they all trickled out until the only ones left in the corridor were Arthur and Merlin.
‘So,’ Merlin said after a moment.
‘Huh,’ Arthur blinked.
‘Well that changes things a bit.’
‘More than a bit. Everyone already knows about us.’
‘At least that we means that we don’t have to break the news to them,’ Merlin said bracingly.
‘There is that,’ Arthur agreed. ‘I mean, Morgana knew ages ago, and apparently so did Father – which means that mum and your parents must have known right from the start …’
‘Right,’ Merlin said thoughtfully. ‘Well, that saves us a lot of time and worry, then.’
‘Yeah,’ Arthur said, his expression slowly brightening. ‘We – we’re off the hook!’
‘Thank god for that,’ Merlin said, smiling.
There was silence for a minute.
‘So what do you want to do now?’ Merlin asked after a moment.
Arthur blinked and tilted his head, considering.
‘Want to go back to bed?’ he asked.
‘Yes!’ Merlin replied immediately, relieved.
The door slammed shut behind them as they tripped through into the room, all arms and legs and feverish kisses.
… Back in the flat common room, the volume button of the TV remote was tactfully pressed down and held there.