It’d been nearly a year since Arthur had heard the name “Merlin.”
After Merlin had broken up with Morgana, she’d gone through a series of men, and Arthur didn’t know what she was trying to do. Was she trying to forget him? Or prove that she didn’t need him?
They’d only been dating for a few months, and Morgana had once confessed to Gwen, who’d eventually told Arthur that they hadn’t even had sex more than a handful of times. Still, she was hurt by Merlin breaking up with her so fast and maybe she needed to find her confidence.
Arthur never really understood women, anyway.
He was bisexual and preferred the company of men over women, but he still continued to date women to keep up appearances. His father would have never approved if Arthur had settled down with a man. Well, he was gone now.
The announcement of Uther Pendragon’s passing was made in the Camelot Gazette, and they were expecting hundreds of people at the funeral. The last person Arthur expected to see was Merlin.
On that bright and sunny day, when it was unusually warm for October, Arthur looked up from the ground and found Merlin walking towards the ceremonial grounds. “Morgana,” he whispered softly to his sister standing on his right who looked up at Merlin, then gave a surprised look to Arthur.
“What is it?” Mordred asked from Arthur’s left. After everything that had been said and done, it was a surprise to Arthur how close he and Mordred had become. They’d never shagged after that one night in the dark, grimy toilet stall and that was all right with Arthur. He had started to cherish his friendship with Mordred.
They still talked about Merlin sometimes, especially if Arthur had been drinking, and Mordred had been gracious enough to never insult him about it.
“It’s Merlin,” Morgana answered for Arthur. “He’s here.”
“Maybe he read the announcement in the paper,” Gwen supplied from Morgana’s other side. She too, had forgiven Arthur when she’d found out that the reason they hadn’t really meshed that well was because they were together for all the wrong reasons.
When Arthur had introduced her to Lancelot, Gwen had never looked back. Or happier.
Merlin waited on the other side of the crowd until the ceremony was over, people had said their words, and everyone had paid their respects. When the crowd started to thin out, Merlin was still there.
“Hi,” Merlin said as he approached them and stood in front of both Arthur and Morgana.
Mordred placed his hand on Arthur’s lower back as if to support him. Arthur glanced at him sideways and nodded. “It’ll be all right,” he said.
“Very well,” Mordred said and started to walk away from Arthur. “Gwen?” he added, asking Gwen to join him, leaving Morgana and Arthur alone with Merlin.
“I’m very sorry for your loss,” Merlin said, softly. He had his sunglasses on also, just like Arthur and Morgana, so Arthur couldn’t tell who Merlin was looking at.
“Thank you for coming. It’s a pleasant surprise,” Arthur said politely, unsure of what would be the appropriate thing to say.
“I hope you’re well,” Morgana added.
“Yes, thank you.” Merlin smiled and then finally removed his sunglasses, placing them on his head. “This is probably not the best time to discuss this, but I wanted to speak to the two of you. Do you think we can find a time to get together for coffee?”
“Some friends and family are going back to the house so you can come with us if you’d like,” Morgana said.
“What’s this about?” Arthur asked, blunt. He didn’t have the time for this and didn’t care if this wasn’t the right time or place for it.
“Just an apology of sorts. I’ve been thinking about it a lot and then when I heard about your father’s passing, I thought, maybe it was time to...” He paused, shrugging.
“Time for what?” Morgana asked, curious.
“I wasn’t the best boyfriend to you, Morgana, and that was partially because I was infatuated with Arthur since we’d met. I could have handled things better. Told you how I felt and not try to seduce Arthur on my own and—”
“You what?” Morgana’s voice rose slightly, and then she flinched at her own tone. “I—you tried to seduce my brother?”
Arthur chuckled, because he had no idea what else to do in this situation. Nothing better than discussing his sexual exploits or lack of at Uther’s funeral. “Did I ever tell you how I’d met Mordred?” he asked.
“At that club, the same night when Merlin broke up with— Oh.”
“We really need to be getting back,” Gwen’s voice seemed to have come out of nowhere giving both Arthur and Morgana a start. “Sorry, I didn’t wish to interrupt, but guests will be arriving—”
“Of course, Gwen,” Arthur said and looked at Morgana. “We’ll ride together. Mordred, can you take Gwen to the house?”
“No worries, mate,” Mordred said and they left once more.
Arthur turned to Merlin, “If you’d like to come by the house—”
“Sure. I’ll drive myself there,” Merlin said and nodded before he, too, walked away.
Arthur and Morgana were quiet the entire time they’d walked up to the car. The driver opened the door for them as they sat in the back and then they started to drive off. It was all so bizarre. There was no other word for it. He didn’t want Morgana to ever find out about what happened, or didn’t happen, between him and Merlin and he was so afraid of what she might think of him now.
“Did you care for him?” Morgana asked, ending the silence.
“I—I don’t know. I think I might have. Maybe that’s why I didn’t—”
“You still care for him,” she said; it wasn’t a question. “If he wants to be with you, would you want that?”
“What about you? What if he wants to be with you?” Arthur asked, simply because he didn’t know the answer to her question.
“No. I’ve moved on,” she said, looking out the window. “I don’t want to be with someone who was with me and wanted to be with my brother.”
Arthur laughed. “And how would you feel if I...” He couldn’t get himself to finish the question.
She shrugged. “I won’t say it’ll be easy for me to see you two together, but, I’ll be all right with it. I mean, if he really loves you...”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Morgana,” Arthur said and the car came to a stop. They’d arrived at the house and there were already a plethora of cars parked there. “Let’s just get this over with. The lawyer wants to talk to us, too. I just don’t know why today, but...let’s just do this now. Okay?”
She nodded and gave him a hug before they left the car and entered the house. Mordred and Gwen joined them shortly.
“Do you need anything from me?” Mordred asked as soon as they’d reached the door and Arthur saw Merlin coming out of his car.
“No. Just thanks for being here.”