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Safekeeping

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The second the cup slips from Merlin's fingers, the movement of time and space halts. His mind whirs, cataloging the details of the day thus far -- it's 6.49 in the morning on a Thursday, he's running late for work, it's warm and cloudy outside, his striped mug is half-full of hot tea, the man standing on his doorstep is smiling -- and an imitable warmth gathers somewhere beyond the range of Merlin's senses.

The world whooshes back into motion a second later and Merlin finds his mug pressed back into his hand. The man on the doorstep smiles again and looks down at his own hand, as if wonder is spreading through his senses.

"Is that what it feels like? I wasn't sure… I didn't even know if that would work." His gaze moves from the mug to Merlin's face and he keeps smiling, at least until Merlin takes a step away from him.

"Oh." Merlin blinks at the mug, then at the faltering smile on the man's face, and takes another step back. "You- who- what's going on?"

"Ah. Right. You would make this awkward for me, wouldn't you?" He leans in a bit to skim a fingertip over Merlin's knuckles. "Have some more tea first. You might need it."

"I... what?" Merlin frowns in confusion, then rolls his eyes when the man nods at his cup of tea. "Fine. Now--"

Before he can manage another swallow of tea, the hand at his wrist moves to his arm and the man in Merlin's doorway takes a step in to kiss him.

Merlin flails, feels tea slosh from his mug once more, and then --

And then there's that warmth again, reaching from the back of his heart to the edges of his senses, as if he were being outlined in the gold-tipped rays of the sun. The sensation is more than warmth, though, and more than desire; awareness sparks through Merlin's mind and then, there, at the brush of lips and breath against his own, he knows this feeling, this man, for who they really are.

Arthur, he thinks, and his body, breath, and mind remember all at once, magic rushing through him. His magic, Merlin knows, and his lips press to Arthur's once more to feel the way it glows between them.

"You kept it for me, held it inside, for how many years…" Merlin murmurs against Arthur's mouth.

"Too many," Arthur says, but he's smiling, laughing, mapping his mouth over Merlin's face and neck. "But I found you when I needed to."

Merlin laughs, too, and finds that he can let go now, he can leave behind that odd, slightly incomplete feeling that followed him up until this morning, he can remember to forget the life before this one, where he sealed up magic and power inside the man he knew would find him again, he can let go of the world and let it spin madly around them while he pulls Arthur into his house and shuts the door behind him.

"I'm late for work," Merlin says and kisses up along the line of Arthur's jaw to nuzzle at his ear.

Arthur sighs and the sound makes something catch in Merlin's chest. He leans into Merlin, unbuttoning Merlin's only half-buttoned shirt, and strokes Merlin's stomach until Merlin moves in to kiss his mouth once more. "I quit my job. Two weeks ago, I left."

"You're home now." With that decision, Merlin lets his magic take the tea to one of the side tables, snaps his fingers to let his and Arthur's clothes fall to the floor, and steps into the warm circle of Arthur's arms.