James and Q had been dating for three years and engaged for a month when they met Merlin and Arthur. The latter pair - dating for five years but often mistaken to be married for ten.
As the new professor and dean candidate for Camelot University’s recently established Computer Science department - Q was the talk of the town. A young genius, engaged to a former Royal Navy Commander - a damn dashing one at that. It was no wonder Arthur decided to investigate. In the sense that, he assigned Merlin to show the new professor around.
It was no hardship for Merlin really, the Chemistry department’s office was recently moved right next to the Computer Science department’s office. It didn’t even take a week for Merlin and Q to hit it off.
Merlin loves Arthur, he really does. But after dating, fighting and numerous heated and heartfelt conversations. They both figured out that Arthur was likely leaning towards the aromantic end of the scale. Not that Arthur actually understood all the terminologies and flag colours. But Merlin understood him and that was enough.
Arthur would die for Merlin. He really would. They do have a splendid sex life and co-exist very well in their shared space. But getting him to agree on a candlelit dinner was worse than pulling teeth.
Candlelit dinners that Merlin had been having with Q.
It all started with a simple dinner dates to discuss work. After having several of them at the same eating establishment. A misunderstanding here, a private table there, suddenly they both were very much enjoying themselves in the romantic bubble they accidentally found themselves in one evening.
One evening turned to two, then three. Then breakfast and lunch and tea. Meal dates to discuss work turned to long walks in the park, through campus, on a grassy patch that breezy spring day.
On a particular evening, after an exceptionally lovely dinner together. Q walked Merlin to his doorstep, feeling giddy from the wine and good mood, he leaned in - his mind already thinking of kissing Merlin goodnight before returning home to James. A moment passed between them right before their lips touched. An understanding, a resolve - that they had to talk about this to their respective partners.
James took it well. He said honestly, what Q had shared with Merlin, sounded very much like his nights out with Alec. Minus the romantic atmosphere and urges to kiss his friend.
Arthur took it as well as he did any news of Merlin actually having relationships with anyone else but him. Which was - with a lot of whiny tantrums, pouts and childish sulking. Times like these, Merlin questioned the sanity of the people who put Arthur on the University’s board of directors.
But just like the time Freya, Arthur agreed with Merlin’s reasoning, but put his foot down on the kissing.
One shared Christmas later, a convoluted game involving the mistletoe and James sucking the breath out of Arthur’s mouth (Grinning like the devil incarnate while doing so). An uncomfortable game of drunk twister and a kiss from Q this time, then someone named Eve and Alec. Arthur didn’t think at all when Merlin and Q exchanged their own kiss.
A year on, when Arthur picks Merlin up from the restaurant Q and he were having dinner at. He only rolls his eyes in exaggeration when Merlin and Q kissed goodnight, before ushering his lover into the car and driving them back home.