Arthur nibbled on some bacon as he looked over his schedule for the day when his dark-haired boyfriend let out a gleeful laugh.
“Do I even want to know?” Arthur glanced up across the table and couldn’t help the little smile that crossed his face as he looked at Merlin’s beaming face, still full of laughter.
Merlin’s laugh had always been, as cheesy and cliché as it sounded, like music to his ears. The first time Arthur heard it, it got stuck in his head, like a catchy song on the radio that he couldn’t get out of his head, no matter how hard he tried, except Arthur hadn’t actually tried that hard.
Merlin wiggled his eyebrows as he gleefully said, “They’re calling you a homewrecker again.”
He rolled his eyes, of course, they were. It was second only to the tabloids calling him a man-whore. Grabbing his cuppa tea, he looked down at his schedule again, “And who’s marriage am I destroying today?”
“Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s.”
Arthur had chosen the wrong moment to sip his tea because he was choking and now spitting all over the table.
Merlin burst into a fit of giggles and nearly fell out of his chair. Arthur decidedly no longer loved his laugh. Well, at least for the next hour he wouldn’t.
Once he was no longer choking, no thanks to Merlin, he threw out his hands and grumbled, “I literally have only met them once and that was last year!”
His decidedly evil boyfriend snorted, “Not according to the latest gossip. Ooo, apparently it’s not the first time either!”
Merlin giggled as he looked down at the clearly manipulated photo. Glancing over at Arthur he teased, “Tell me Arthur what’s Meghan’s favorite position?”
Arthur threw a spoon at him. Merlin dodged it, the bloody prick, and he frowned. “Wait don’t they live in Canada now?”
Merlin nodded, already knowing where this question was going. “They were in London for a few days for a charity event. Guess Meghan decided to visit London’s biggest star while she was here.”
Arthur rolled his eyes. Even though it had been a few years it still felt weird knowing that he was a household name. It felt like just yesterday him and Merlin were celebrating his first non-extra roll in a movie, drinking cheap wine from the corner shop in their first crappy apartment together.
“I will never understand why you enjoy reading those god-awful gossip rags so much.” Honestly, his stupid boyfriend enjoyed those ridiculous tabloids far too much.
He shrugged. “It’s just funny, how completely and utterly wrong they are about you.”
It was true, the tabloids always painted him as a pretentious playboy who slept with a different woman every night when the only person who had slept in his bed the last 9 years was his very male partner.
“They think you’re this smooth outgoing arrogant entitled operator who can get into anyone’s pants with a look and you’re none of those things. Well,” Merlin put a finger to his lips as he paused, “You are kind of cocky and entitled.”
“Oh really?” Arthur asked, before getting out of his chair and deciding to prove just how easily he could get into a particular someone’s pants.
Merlin smirked back as Arthur pulled him out of his chair before wrapping his arms around his neck, “Like I said cocky and entitled.”
Arthur smiled, as he once again, thanked the director. “This was such a brilliant project thanks again for the opportunity.”
The director laughed, “Anytime Arthur! See you at the wrap party tomorrow.”
The blond nodded as he headed to his car, “See you there!”
He climbed into the backseat of a black limo where his manager Leon, sat waiting with piles of scripts everywhere the eyes could see. Arthur sighed, “Right what should I look at first.”
Leon gave him a quick smile and called out for the driver to start towards their next location. “I’d go with the pile to your left. You should have enough time to skim through that pile and the one next to it before we get to the studio for your interview.”
Arthur nodded, grabbing the first script and glancing through before chucking it in the maybe pile.
They were halfway there when Arthur reached the end of the first pile. He quickly glanced through the script in his hand, then stopped, intrigued. He went back to the beginning and started reading it properly.
This one was good, very good. Normally he ignored apocalyptic films because they were so overdone. They were all essentially the same, but this one wasn’t. There were no zombies or monsters, just people trying to find the strength to keep going for another day. In the middle of it all, there were two lovers finding each other again. He looked at the title, As the World Falls.
“Leon look into this one.” He said, tossing the script into the other man’s lap.
Leon glanced down and smiled, “I had a feeling you’d like this one. Auditions for the role of Nate are next month. You’ll have to tape your audition since you’ll be in New Zealand then.”
Arthur laughed. Of course, Leon already had everything figured out already. “Sounds good.”
It’s was near two am when Arthur finally got home exhausted. As quietly as he could, he walked over to the bedroom only to find Merlin lying in bed still up. He had his tablet on his pillow while he worked on a book cover for a new YA novel coming out in a few months at the publishing house he worked at.
“Don’t you have to be at work at nine tomorrow?”
Merlin's hand jerked. He had been so lost in thought as he worked, he hadn’t even heard Arthur come in. He sighed in annoyance and complained, “Arse. You made me mess up the lines again.”
Arthur scoffed as he undressed, “Go to sleep.”
The curly-haired man rolled his eyes, “It’s fine I’m working from home tomorrow.”
“Oh really? And this has nothing to do with the wrap party tomorrow?” Arthur teased as he climbed into bed. While Merlin wasn’t one for being in the spotlight, hence why he usually declined going on the red carpet with Arthur, he always seemed magically available for the parties. It was something Arthur teased him about endlessly.
Merlin turned his head towards him and grinned. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Trying and failing to keep the smile off his face Arthur grabbed the tablet out of Merlin’s hands. The design is simple, a tree around the side with what looked like a dead campfire, but he can already tell it’s going to be brilliant once Merlin puts in all the little details and tells him so.
Merlin rolls his eyes as he moves closer because Arthur doesn’t what he’s talking about. Honestly, he could draw the world’s worst stick figures in the world, and he was pretty sure Arthur would still insist it was a masterpiece and mean it.
The tree needed some serious work and he still had to figure out the right coloring for the sky but otherwise, he had to admit it was shaping out pretty good.
Merlin moved to his side and rested his head against Arthur’s pillow. “How was your last day on set? You finished around lunch, right?”
Arthur nodded, “Good. Took a few takes but it came together at the end. Elena was a bit emotional about the filming being over.”
“Of course, she is! This is her first big-budget film as the female lead!”
“Yeah, she kept apologizing for getting emotional. I finally had to ask for five and tell her about my first big project before she was able to calm down.” He said putting the tablet on the nightstand and turning so they were face to face.
Merlin snorted, “The crew said like one nice thing about you, and then you were bawling-OW!”
Arthur pinched his arm. “I was not bawling!” He blushed lightly as he admitted, “There were a few, a few tears, but I certainly wasn’t bawling.”
Merlin rolled his eyes as he wrapped his arms around his boyfriend, because it was definitely more than a few but decided to let it go for now. “How was the rest of your day?”
Arthur smiled. “Good. I think I found the next movie I want to do.”
“Oh? Well come on, what’s this one? Another superhero flick? Wait! No are you going to be the next bond? Because I could definitely get behind that.”
Arthur chuckled. “No, it’s an indie film actually. It’s about this guy, Marco who runs into his first love, Nate during an apocalypse.”
“Must be good if you don’t care about being an apocalypse film,” Merlin said with raised eyebrows. “Which role you going for? I can’t imagine you as a Marco.”
Arthur laughed softly and shook his head. “Me either. I’m going for Nate.”
“Well if you need help practicing any kissing scenes you know where to find me,” Merlin teased, pressing further into Arthur’s embrace with a yawn.
Arthur hummed in agreement as he pressed his head into the crock of Merlin’s neck before finally letting sleep take him.
Over the next month, Arthur appeared on a few talk shows for an action film he starred in that was coming out but otherwise focused entirely on his audition. Arthur has always believed that practice makes perfect, and no one is perfect so really, he practiced until he knew the character by heart. It was a long process that involved lots of thought, internet searching random notes that he thinks would help develop the character, and forcing his boyfriend to rehearse lines with him until Merlin cracked and threatened to sic their cat Kilgharrah, whom he truly regretted letting Merlin name, on him.
He sent his reel in before leaving for filming in Vancouver.
He’s was in between takes, guest-starring in an episode of Lucifer when Leon called and told him he got the callback and if he was just a tad more enthusiastic that day on set? So be it.
Despite what some people might think, Arthur was still a nervous wreck before auditions. Before he was famous, if he fucked it up he could just brush it off as being off his game but now that he’s a successful actor, it was far more nerve-wrecking because now people expect things from him. He was supposed to blow them away, to live up to the hype. And while Arthur certainly doesn’t get every role, he auditions for, no one can say he doesn’t give every audition his all.
Before walking into the room, Arthur took a deep breath and thought about what Merlin said to him before his first audition back when they met in Uni all those years ago.
“You have nothing to be nervous about. You’re Arthur Pendragon, prat extraordinaire,” he said with that ridiculous goofy smile Arthur loved so very much.
And as always, the memory made the anxiety fade away into nothing but a distant wave. He pushed the door open and walked over to the front of the room.
“Arthur Pendragon, reading for the role of Nate Walker.”
When Leon called him three days after his chemistry test with the three potential Marcos and told him he got the part, Arthur immediately texted Merlin because no matter how cheesy it sounds it’s true, no news truly feels like good news until he’s told Merlin. The way Merlin’s face lights up and the jumping excitement in his voice as he congratulates him is truly the best. Nothing can quite beat that feeling.
As if on cue, his mobile rang. Arthur picked it up and laughed as Merlin grinned ear to ear and once again, facetimed him in the loo.
“Please tell me I’m not interrupting anything,” Arthur teased.
Merlin laughed. “Shut up you prick! I’m in the office today and I can’t exactly facetime you from my cubicle without my boss seeing, now can I?”
That of course, made Arthur chuckle. The one and only time Merlin facetimed him at his desk, his boss Lydia literally squealed and stole Merlin’s mobile and then spent the next twenty minutes telling him how much she loved his latest romcom.
“So when do you start filming?! Ooo, do you know who’s playing Marco yet?” Merlin asked looking like he was itching to start jumping up and down like a child who just ate way too much sugar.
“Leon said mid-May and no, I didn’t ask,” Arthur shrugged.
Merlin groaned, “Of course you didn’t you arse! You never do, despite the fact that I ask you every time!”
“And yet you ask even though you know I did not ask, every single time,” Arthur argued back with a smile on his face.
Merlin snorted, his face bright and full of delight. “We’re quite the pair, aren’t we?” But his face was beaming like he wouldn’t change a thing.
Arthur grinned softly, “Yeah we’re something else alright.” Because he wouldn’t change a thing either.
Arthur doesn’t meet his co-star for another month and does a quick google search of the guy on the way there. The man has starred in a few direct to tv movies, almost all of them romcoms, which didn’t surprise Arthur at all after that chemistry test. The man was gorgeous.
He had just walked into the building when the director, Mithian Nemeth, called him over.
“Thank you for coming today Mr. Pendragon, everyone is really excited to work with you over the next few months.”
Arthur smiles and he shakes her hand, “I am as well. And please, call me Arthur.”
“Alright,” she replied with a small smile. “So today I just wanted to introduce you to our Marco and go over some of the shooting and press stuff.” She looked over to her left. “He should be right back he just went to grab some water... Ah! There he is.”
Arthur looked up and grinned, with his dark wavy locks, neatly trimmed facial hair, and smothering eyes the bloke looked like he should be on the cover of a romance novel.
The man smiled sheepishly as he reached out his hand. “Sorry to make you wait, I’m Lance DuLac. It’s an honor to meet you, Mr. Pendragon.” Arthur could tell by the man’s tense shoulders that he was a bit nervous.
Arthur smiled, “No need to apologise, I just got here myself and please call me Arthur.” He shook Lance’s hand and smiled as he saw his shoulders relax a bit.
Mithian then called them over to talk about some necessary filming and PA information but Arthur made a note to self to make sure to get a photo with Lance before he left to show Merlin. He grinned, he could already hear his boyfriend’s grumbling, ‘Holy Shit he’s fit! Fuck, why didn’t I go into acting?’
“I hate you so much.”
Arthur threw his head back, already roaring with laughter. He knew Merlin’s reaction would be hilarious.
He had just gotten home and immediately plopped down next to his boyfriend on the sofa when Merlin asked about meeting his costar. So Arthur being the
evil wonderful boyfriend he was, showed him the photo he took with Lance.
Merlin’s face scrunched up into a pout with his knees against his chest. “Ugh, it’s unfair how attractive he is! Seriously, I’m so jealous I might break up with you.”
He then proved his point by scooting closer and pressing his body up against his boyfriend’s side.
Arthur wrapped his arm around Merlin. “Aa, but if you broke up with me then I’d have to take you off the visitor’s list and you’d never get to meet him.”
Merlin sighed dramatically and then said, as if he had just been given the world’s greatest burden, “Well I guess I’ll have to keep you around for a little longer then.” He could tell Merlin was trying not to smile but Arthur could see the tick of a grin at the corner of his lips.
He scoffed, “Oh what a burden, to have to keep dating your incredibly handsome and charming boyfriend of nine years.”
It was Merlin’s turn to scoff, “You’re not that attractive.”
“I think People’s magazine would disagree.” He was Sexiest Man Alive two years in a row after all.
Merlin groaned, “I cannot believe they picked you once let alone twice! Ugh, all those years with me trying to stop you from getting too big of a head utterly ruined!”
Arthur lifted his head, so his chin was rested on Merlin’s shoulder. “What I’m hearing is you DO think I’m that attractive you just don’t want to admit it.”
Merlin opened his mouth towards the ceiling and made a sound that could only be described as something between a whine and a groan before grumbling, “You definitely aren’t charming.”
Arthur grinned as he shoved Merlin down on the sofa and started kissing his neck. Merlin laughed gleefully, “See? Not charming at all.” He mumbled breathily.
Arthur reached over and slowly caressed Lance’s cheek, “I’m glad you’re okay.”
Lance looked at him with his soulful eyes and opened his mouth but then he must have heard the footsteps because he pulled away and Arthur’s hand fell into his lap. Arthur carefully dragged his eyes past the camera and towards the door.
Another dark-haired man opened it, “Hey Marco, glad you’re okay mate.”
“Yeah good thing I know how to swim,” Lance said with a laugh and a tight smile, refusing to look at him.
Arthur got up with a sigh, “Hey Max I need help organizing the supply room.”
The man playing Max groaned, “Fiiine but you own me one Walker.”
As Arthur walked out the door and turned, he heard him say, “You’re lucky you’re hurt Marco!”
Arthur walked off camera and through the short hall that separated the scene and the rest of the set and back into the larger room. He walked over behind the camera and watched the camera do a close up of Lance staring down at his hands with a look of frustration and heartbreak on his face.
“Aaaaand cut!” Mithian shouted. Lance looked up, eager for more notes.
Mithian smiled, “That was perfect guys! Twenty-minute break and then we are on to the next scene!”
Arthur cheered with the crew as they started packing and moving things around.
A hand clapped on his shoulder and Arthur rolled his eyes good-naturedly as he already knew what the man playing Max was going to say. “No Gwaine.”
Gwaine laughed. “But I haven’t said anything yet.”
“And yet I somehow already know what you’re going to say.” Arthur teased.
Gwaine put a hand on his face and grinned. “So what you’re saying is I need to get more creative.”
Arthur rolled his eyes as he snickered, playfully shoving the man away.
“Gwaine, stop trying to get Arthur drunk on set,” Lance said with a frown like a parent gently scolding their child.
The other dark-hair man grinned, “Fine but as my character would say, ‘Liquor is the nectar of the gods.’”
He then walked over to the craft table and immediately started flirting with the girl setting up the coffee.
Lance and Arthur shared a look before both rolling their eyes and following.
Arthur looked mournfully at the chocolate croissants before grabbing some fruits instead. As much as he wanted the chocolatey starch if he ate one now that meant he couldn’t have crepes on Sunday when he and Merlin went to their favorite brunch place, and damn it, he would not be denied crepes!
“Are these chocolate?” Lance asked picking up one of the croissants before putting on his plate. “Gwen makes the best Nutella croissants.”
This time it was Gwaine and Arthur that shared a conspiracy look before Gwaine winked at him and pretended to look confused. “I’m sorry, who’s Gwen again?”
Sweet, oblivious Lance, as always blushed and stuttered out, “My um… friend. Well she’s more than a friend, we’re been on a few dates but um, you know she not- I mean it’s-”
Arthur placed his hand on his costar’s shoulder and took pity on him. “Mate we know who Gwen is, Gwaine’s just pulling your leg.”
This only made Lance blush harder if possible.
Gwaine leaned forward and pinched his cheek, “You’ve only been talking about her since the first day of filming mate.”
It was true, they had been filming for a month now but somehow Lance found a way to bring her up in almost any conversation. It was terribly sweet and only slightly annoying at times.
“So when are we going to meet the lovely Gwen?” Arthur asked.
“Yes! You won’t show us a picture because it’s quote, too early, end quote.” Gwaine chimed in making air quotes.
“We’ve only been dating a few weeks!” Lance replied defensively, before looking down at his plate and mumbling quietly. “She’s coming to set to watch me this afternoon.”
“Whooo! Finally!” Gwaine cheered.
Arthur whistled, “Bringing her to set eh?” He then sang, “Someone’s trying to impress his girlfriend.”
Lance rolled his eyes but smiled exasperatedly. “I knew I shouldn’t have told you lot.”
Gwaine and Arthur grinned ear to ear, looking entirely too pleased with themselves.
“I wouldn’t eat that if I were you,” Arthur warns the curly-haired woman as he moves over to the craft table.
Her skin was a warm brown and she has a twinkle in her eyes as she asked, “Oh? And why not?”
“Because for reasons I can’t fathom, there are raisins in the egg sandwiches today.”
The woman shuddered, “Yeah no egg Sammy for me then.”
She looked at the rest of the food on the table and bit her lip. “Anything else I should stay away from?”
Arthur shrugged, “Everything else is fair game. I’m Arthur by the way.”
“I know, you’re a wee bit famous,” she said with a laugh, “I’m Gwen Smith.”
“Gwen, as in Lance’s girlfriend Gwen?” Arthur grinned.
“No-err yes, maybe?” Gwen blushed, “Did he say that? That I was his girlfriend?”
“No, but it’s clear that he wants you to be.”
Gwen bit her lip and a small smile crawled onto her face. “You think so?”
“Absolutely. The man can’t go ten minutes without talking about you. The crew has a betting pool on how many times he’ll say you’re name in a day.”
“Seriously, I won a hundred pounds last week.” He had won a few rounds but so far, Gili the mic guy was the man to beat with his eight wins in counting.
Gwen grabbed a cookie clearly thinking from her distant expression. “Lance is so sweet, but he can be a bit quiet sometimes, so I hadn’t been sure what I am to him.”
Arthur nodded. Lance was always so calm and friendly; it took a minute to realize the man used it as a way to keep attention off himself. “I haven’t known him very long but the way he talks about you it’s clear he’s absolutely gone on you.”
Gwen smiled, “I am too. Gone on him, I mean.”
Arthur grinned, “Good. Now I don’t have to give you the ‘you couldn’t possibly do better than Lance speech.’”
Gwen's eyes crinkled in amusement as she chuckled. She raised her water bottle, “Cheers to that.”
Arthur smiled as he tapped her water bottle with his. “Cheers.”
It was at that exact moment when Lance walked over.
“Oh dear, it seems you guys have met. Should I be worried?” Lance joked.
Gwen grinned, “Arthur just saved me from an egg and raisin sandwich.”
Lance frowned, “Who would do that to a perfectly good sandwich?”
“So what were you guys laughing about?”
Arthur and Gwen looked at each other and grinned. “It’s a secret.”
Lance was going over his lines before his next scene when someone ripped the script out of his hands. He looked up and his frown only got worse when he saw who it was. Cenred. Lance tried not to judge people but Cenred was sort of a prick. “Can I have my script back please?”
Cenred flipped through his script glancing at his notes before tossing it back.
Lance looked down at his script but Cenred hadn’t moved. Exasperated he asked, “What do you want Cenred?”
The man smirked, “Me? I don’t want anything. I just thought you might want to know who your girlfriend was chatting with,” He said nodding to his right.
Lance looked over and frowned. “She’s talking to Arthur so what?”
Cenred scoffed. “So what? If my girlfriend was being chatted up by Hollywood’s biggest playboy, I think I’d want to know.”
“Arthur isn’t like that,” because he wasn’t. He wasn’t anything like the tabloids said. He was nice and fun and quickly becoming a dear friend.
Cenred sneered, “Oh please of course he’s like that. He’s a man and he’s famous. When you’re that famous it’s all about the hunt and your costar’s girlfriend is a better hunt than any single fan.”
Lance rolled his eyes, “Oh come off it Cenred, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Cenred shrugged and said, “Whatever you say mate,” before walking away.
As he looked back down at the script he scoffed. Cenred was clearly trying to start trouble. Lance looked over and watched as Gwen burst out laughing at something Arthur said. Arthur grinned from ear to ear as he showed her something on his mobile.
Yeah, he’s just making trouble, Lance told himself as he tried to ignore the uncomfortable feeling forming in his stomach.
Arthur was lying on the sofa, reviewing the script for tomorrow when he heard the door open.
“Honey I’m home,” Merlin sang.
He rolled his eyes, “Did you remember to grab the takeaway on your way home?”
Merlin came into the room, looking unfairly attractive in Arthur’s gray plaid peacoat.
“But of course your pratness.”
Arthur climbed off the sofa to walk over and peck Merlin on the cheek. “Good, because I’m starving.”
Arthur walked over to the kitchen and grabbed two plates and two glasses as Merlin unpacked their food.
Once they were both seated, they started talking about their day as they ate. Merlin told him the latest development with his coworker Mordred whom he hated for no real reason and was convinced was trying to ruin his life.
“…And then he actually said he was sorry! Sorry! And I had to say it was okay or else I’d be the monster!” Merlin fumed, as he stabbed a dumpling with his chopstick.
“Yes, how dare he admit to his own mistakes and apologise.”
Merlin glared at his boyfriend and threw a soy sauce packet at him. “Prick.”
Much to Merlin’s frustration, his stupid boyfriend did not understand just how annoying and infuriating Mordred was. He had only met him once at the publishing house’s annual Christmas party and Mordred had spent the entire time excitingly asking Arthur what it was like being a movie star.
Arthur laughed, his body feeling nice and warm at the insult. He liked that even after all these years he still got all warm and fuzzy whenever Merlin threw an affectionate insult at him. “I still think you two got off on the wrong foot. You just need to clear the air and let it go.”
Merlin sighed. “I know, I know; I keep telling myself to talk to him but every time I go over, I see his stupid face and I want to punch him.”
Arthur tried not to smile as he took a bite of his fried rice. He swallowed before changing the subject. “I got to meet Lance’s girlfriend today.”
“Her name is Gwen, right? What’s she like?”
Arthur nodded, “Yeah. She’s really nice, I actually think you two would get along.”
“Yeah?” Arthur nodded. Merlin chuckled to himself. “We could start a club, ‘Our Boyfriends are Actors’ or no, wait. ‘Tired Partners of Incredibly Annoying and Needy Actors Club.’”
Arthur glared at his very annoying boyfriend. “I am not annoying or needy.” Well not nearly as annoying or needy as Merlin was.
Merlin snorted, “You literally texted me this afternoon that if you didn’t eat Chinese tonight you thought you might die.”
Okay so maybe Merlin had a slight point. He’d never admit though. “Shut up Merlin.”
“It’s Merlin Emrys.”
The security guard looked at his clipboard before replying dryly, “ID.”
Merlin was used to this and had his ID out and ready.
The man looked it over before nodding and giving it back. “Have a good day.”
“You too mate,” Merlin replied cheerfully.
He walked onto the set and looked around. It looked like a scene was being filmed, not wanting to cause Arthur to break character again, (the last time he showed up unannounced and started watching filming Arthur did a double-take and forgot his line) and instead looked around for Arthur’s chair.
Once he found it, he immediately climbed in and threw his legs over one of the armrests while he tried to drape himself over the other.
“Sorry, but what are you doing?”
Merlin looked over and smiled at the curly-haired woman. “Trying to annoy Arthur.”
A man with a lazy smile on his face stopped walking and said, “Sounds fun, I’m in!”
Merlin grinned. “Okay, which position do you think will annoy Arthur more, this?” Merlin waved a hand over himself, “Or….” Merlin flipped himself so that he was upside down with his feet hanging out the back and his head was dangling an inch from the ground. “This?”
The man laughed, “That one.”
The woman was trying to look like she disapproved but she couldn’t quite keep the smile off her face. “Isn’t that uncomfortable?”
“Oh definitely. I can feel all the blood rushing to my head, but it will be totally worth it when I see Arthur’s face.” Merlin replied, grinning ear to ear.
The man snickered as the woman shook her head in amusement.
“I’m Merlin by the way.”
The man opposite him opened his mouth to reply when, with a groaning Arthur loudly said, “Merlin! You moron, what are you doing?”
“I thought it was obvious, I’m visiting you.”
Arthur frowned, “Really because it looks like you’re trying to annoy me.”
The man laughed, “Good guess princess!”
“I like him,” Merlin replied as he righted himself into a normal sitting position.
“Of course, you do.” They were, after all, both idiots. Arthur rolled his eyes. “Merlin this is Gwen and Gwaine. Gwen and Gwaine, Merlin.”
“Nice to meet you!”
Gwen smiled, “You too. I like your outfit by the way.”
Merlin looked down. He was wearing black jeans, a blue and white stripe t-shirt, and Arthur’s navy-blue blazer with the sleeves rolled up. Merlin pulled at the jacket as he said, “Thanks, the jacket’s Hugo Boss actually.”
“No, it’s Fendi.” Arthur flicked Merlin’s cheek, “If you’re going to steal my clothes at least have the decently to remember the brands properly.”
Merlin frowned, “I thought this was the Hugo.”
“The Hugo one has pale yellow stripes in the lining. The Fendi which you are wearing has black dots.” Merlin looked down and sure enough, there were black dots where he had rolled up the sleeves.
Merlin rolled his eyes, “You literally have five identical navy blazers sorry I can’t remember the minuscule differences between them.”
“Do you steal his clothes often?” Gwaine asked, wagging his eyebrows.
Arthur ignored whatever come on he was starting and answered honestly, “Every day since Uni.”
Merlin shrugged with no shame. “You have nicer clothes than me.”
Gwen laughed. “Well, it is a nice blazer.”
Merlin and Arthur replied at the same time, “Thanks!” “Thank you, Gwen.”
Gwaine threw his head back, roaring with laughter when Arthur scowled at Merlin.
“…and I was not going to admit Arthur was right, so I walked straight into the room and sat there for an hour listening to the Professor talk about the mating habits of zebras.”
Gwen burst out into a fit of giggles, her body leaning heavily against Lance’s as they sat on the ground picnic style.
Lance and Arthur had an hour before their next scene and Merlin had decided it was the perfect day to eat outside. They were behind the set at one of the few grassy spots in the lot.
“So you finally admit I was right,” Arthur grinned smugly. His smile only got wider at Merlin’s face scrunched up in a look of complete displeasure. Arthur laughed gleefully and poked the other man’s face. “It’s about damn time.”
Merlin huffed with visible outrage, but Gwen could see the amusement twinkling out of his eyes as he tried to shove Arthur away. It only resulted in Arthur moving closer until their sides were pressed together.
Gwen bit her lip and looked at them before looking at Lance, but Lance didn’t seem to notice, much to her annoyance. Because the thing is, she was fairly sure Arthur and Merlin were a couple, but she didn’t want to assume. It was hard though seeing how they were just so couple-y!
As if to prove her inner monologue, Lance said, “Merlin you have something on your face.”
Merlin laughed and tried to rub it off only to keep missing it before Arthur rolled his eyes and grabbed Merlin’s face to rub it off himself and teased, “I don’t know why I bother seeing as you’re going to get more of it stuck on your face in the next five minutes.”
Merlin stuck his tongue at him and then took another bite of his sandwich only to get sauce on his face once again.
They all laughed but Gwen didn’t miss the besotted look in Arthur’s eyes as he once again brushed the food off his face.
“So how did you guys meet?” Gwen asked.
They looked at each other and grinned, “First year at Uni.”
Merlin chuckled, “So it’s the second day of classes and I overslept so I’m running, trying not to be late and nearly bump into someone. I turn my head to say sorry, only to slam right into Arthur.”
“I had stopped to look at my class schedule when this idiot slammed me into the ground and spills his iced coffee all over me.” Arthur said, glaring playfully at Merlin, who laughed sheepishly.
Lance throws his head back chuckling, “Nooooo.”
“Yes!” Merlin replies. “Horrified I open my mouth to apologise but then Arthur starts screaming at me! ‘Ever heard of watching where you’re going, you lunatic?!” Merlin throws his arms around, impersonating Arthur. “And well, I’ve never been one to run from a fight so I’m like, ‘Who just glues themselves to the ground in the middle of a crowded hallway you clotpole!?’”
Arthur laughs, “And we just continue screaming at each other for several minutes until the reminder on my mobile goes off and I realize class is starting so I shout, ‘You own me a new shirt!’ before rushing off.”
“Except my class is in the same direction so we bicker all the way down the hall only to realize we are in the same class.”
“But of course,” Gwen grins, taking a sip of her water.
“We spent the next two months fighting like cats and dogs during lecture, constantly ridiculing or trying to show the other up,” Merlin said looking at Arthur with a fond look.
“So what happened?” Lance asked.
Arthur rolled his eyes, “Our professor had everyone pick a name out of a hat for our final projects and of course, Merlin drew my name.”
“I tried to throw it back in the hat but I’m guessing the look of complete and utter horror gave me away because Professor Stracke didn’t even ask and called out Arthur’s name.”
“Before I could even protest, she replied that all partners were final,” Arthur said look of exasperation.
“And then we realized while working on the project that we both may have jumped the gun and mischaracterized the other.” Then Merlin smiled at Arthur in this small, quiet way that was so full of love that it was impossible to miss.
Arthur smiled softly back and opened his mouth only for Lance’s mobile to go off.
Lance sighed, “Well this is fun, but they need me back in makeup.” He leaned over and pecked Gwen on the lips before getting up.
Arthur got up as well, “They’ll probably call me over in a bit as well.”
“You guys go, Gwen and I can clean up.”
Arthur shook his head, “I have a few minutes to spare I’ll help as well.”
Lance opened his mouth, but Gwen pushed him forward. “Go! We got this.”
Lance walked off and the three of them quickly cleaned up before heading back to set.
It was only after Merlin stepped away to the loo that Gwen finally decided to ask the question she had been hesitating on. “So how long after you two stopped being complete daft did you start dating?”
Part of Gwen expected Arthur to be nervous or even surprised by her question, but he was neither. In fact, he looked pleased, if not a little embarrassed. “Don’t laugh, but seven months.”
She chuckled and Arthur grinned, “I know I know, but after the project, it was winter break and we only texted sporadically and then you know, we were mates.” Arthur paused, a fond smile on his face as he seemed to remember something. “And before we knew it, we were always together. And we were too busy with classwork to really think about it until summer break. Merlin had gone back home, and I was in London, missing him terribly. I nearly bought a train ticket to Ealdor five times before finally just calling him.”
Arthur nodded as someone passed by and smiled sheepishly at her. “When Merlin told me had signed up for a summer lecture and would be back in London the next week, my heart nearly jumped out of my chest. So when he asked if I wanted to grab a drink, I said yes so fast he hadn’t even finished asking.”
Arthur rolled his eyes but smiled. “Our ten-year anniversary is actually next month.”
She gasped and immediately squeezed Arthur’s arm. “Congrats! What are you doing?”
Arthur looked around to make sure Merlin wasn’t around before replying. “I’m taking him on a trip to South America to see the Amazon rainforest once filming is done. He’s always wanted to go, and I figured we could do a bit of sight-seeing, maybe go see Machu Pichu while we’re at it.”
It’s then when Arthur is called back to makeup and Gwen squeezed his arm again, “I’m sure Merlin will love it.”
Merlin and Gwen are sitting in their boyfriends’ set chairs close enough to the monitors to watch but far enough that they can chat.
“Oh, this is my favorite scene!” Merlin whispered to Gwen excitedly.
“You’ve read the script?”
Merlin nods, eyes glued to the monitor. “Arthur always makes me run lines with him.”
“Aw, I think it’s sweet your boyfriend asks you to run lines with him.”
Merlin smirked at her, “So you do know I’m his boyfriend.”
Gwen frowned. “Is it a secret? Sorry, it’s just Arthur didn’t seem to care I knew.”
Merlin laughed his eyes full of amusement. “It’s not. It’s just, the tabloids are always spouting nonsense about him that everyone just assumes he’s straight and that I’m his best mate.”
Gwen’s face was set into a deep frown. “But you two are so lovey-dovey!” Honestly, it was so obvious.
“I know! What’s funnier is that because of the tabloids the media all think he’s this stereotypical asshole fuckboi who’s constantly sleeping around that no one’s ever actually thought to ask him about his love life.”
Merlin laughed at Gwen’s face twisted in disbelief and amusement. “Wait so you’re saying-”
“I’m saying that if the media had ever asked, they would have realized he was bi ages ago! And Arthur, bless him, hasn’t realized they don’t know.”
Gwen shook her head. There was no way! “Okay, now I know you’re lying. There’s no way he doesn’t know!”
Merlin bit his lip and laughed quietly to himself and shook his head. Pleased as Gwen laughed, her face scrunched up in confusion. “How?”
“Arthur’s been out since he was fifteen but he’s always looked like your typical straight jock, so when he started auditioning and getting roles people just assumed he was straight, and Arthur,” Merlin paused trying to find the words. “He can be a bit oblivious sometimes. To him, it’s so obvious that he doesn’t have a preference. Gender is a construct after all,” he shrugs before continuing on, “but Arthur always forgets that just because something is obvious to him, doesn’t mean it’s obvious to everyone. So, he just assumes that when we go places together or when he introduces me to people, they know we’re a couple because we never had to point it out when we were in Uni.”
For a second, Gwen could see a bit of sadness over that fact in Merlin’s face but then he blinked, and it was gone.
“I’ve actually made a game out of it, I call it ‘How Obvious Do I Have to Be Before They Realize I’m Arthur’s Boyfriend?’ game.”
Gwen laughed, “Bit wordy.”
Merlin sighed, “Yeah I know, I’m rubbish at names.” He paused, “Don’t tell Arthur I said that though, he’s trying to get sole naming rights for our next cat after the name I picked for our current one.”
“What’s your cat's name?”
Merlin sighed exasperated, “Kilgharrah.”
Gwen gave him a look and he squirmed in his seat, “We’re Arthur and Merlin! I thought it would be funny if I took a name from an Arthurian legend!”
“That’s very sweet,” she replied giving him a soft sweet smile, before she said gently, “But maybe you should let him name the next one.”
Arthur opened the door and ceremoniously tossed his sweaty self onto the sofa, “It’s hot as balls out there.”
Merlin, who had been quietly reading his book on said sofa groaned at the sudden weight on his belly as Arthur plopped on top of him. He frowned, “I told you it was a mistake to go running.”
Arthur groaned into Merlin’s shirt instead of replying. Merlin rolled his eyes and put his book on the coffee table. “Hey I was thinking we should go on a double date with Lance and Gwen.”
Arthur turned his head and thought out loud, “We could take them to Sharky’s.”
Sharky’s was an old school pub that had ridiculous pirate memorabilia everywhere so of course, it was their favorite pub.
Merlin grinned. “Yes! They would love Sharky’s!” Lightly shoving Arthur’s shoulder he said, “Gimme your mobile and I’ll text Gwen.”
Arthur frowned. “Why can’t you text her from your mobile?”
“Because it’s in our room charging.”
Arthur opened his mouth but closed it not wanting to point out for the thousandth time that there were in fact two chargers next to the tele but Merlin swore that the one in the bedroom charged his phone faster.
“Fine,” he replied and passed him his mobile. Merlin quickly sent out the text and then, with his face scrunched up he told Arthur. “You stink by the way.”
He snorted, “Gee thanks babe.”
Merlin grinned, “What? I’m being honest. You need a shower.”
“Hmm I see,” Arthur said lifting his head up. “Well in that case care to join me?”
Merlin pretended to look put out as he replied, “If I must.”
Arthur tickled him until he yelled out, “OKAY! OKAY! FINE YES! YES I WANT TO!” between giggles as Arthur dragged him off the sofa.
Lance was a simple man, he didn’t need much to be happy. He was pleased just by cuddling on the sofa with his girlfriend while binge-watching the tele after a very rewarding, but long week. Or at least he was until Gwen got a text.
“Hey, are you busy tomorrow night?”
Lance shook his head, “No, why?”
“Arthur wants to go out for dinner with us.”
Lance knew it was nothing, he knew it, but as much as he hated to admit it, all of Cenred’s little comments over the last few weeks were starting to get to him. So without thinking he asked, “Since when have you had Arthur’s number?”
Gwen, not sure what was happening, frowned. “Since I met Merlin. We were chatting and he gave me both their numbers.”
“Then how does Arthur have yours?”
“Because I texted him hi and my name, you know, like a normal person?” she said like a question, annoyed and confused at where this was going. “What’s wrong with me and Arthur having each other’s information?”
Lance winced, not sure how to put it without sounding like arse. He looked up at the ceiling, trying to figure out how to say what he needed to say. “I care about you a lot and I trust you completely, and I like Arthur, he’s a great man but….”
Gwen just looked at him because there was no way he thought what he was implying. “I’m sorry but you don’t actually think something is going on between me and Arthur, right? Because that’s absolutely ridiculous.”
“No of course not!” Lance immediately squeezed her hand before adding, “At least, not on your side.”
Gwen burst out laughing, she couldn’t help herself because it was that ridiculous. When she finally calmed down, she saw by the uncomfortable look on his face just how serious he was.
Gwen frowned, trying to figure out how he could possibly think Arthur was interested in her when he was clearly only interested in his boyfriend. Suddenly Merlin’s game dawned on her. “Um, Lance? You do know Arthur’s already involved right?”
The look of pure surprise on his face answered her question. “Since when?”
She bit her lip to stop herself from laughing, “Since long before we met him. How do you not know this? I mean I saw them together for five minutes and knew and I’ve only been on set with the both of them a few times.” Gwen didn’t get the chance to visit set that much, but she knew Merlin had been there a couple of times when she hadn’t.
“What are you talking about?” Lance asked because he had no idea who she was talking about. Was Arthur dating someone from the movie?
“I’m talking about Merlin. Arthur’s boyfriend,” she said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“Merlin isn’t…” Lance started but the look on Gwen’s face clearly saying, ‘Come on it’s obvious.’
Lance frowned. “Are you sure?” Because while Lance admittedly had never had good ‘gaydar’ he felt like he would have heard if the Arthur Pendragon had a boyfriend.
Gwen nodded, “Their ten-year anniversary is next week.”
“Wow! Okay just wow,” Lance couldn’t help but laugh at how wrong he was. “Well, at least now I know Cenred’s been wrong this whole time.”
She frowned, “Cenred?”
Lance looked sheepish as he admitted, “Yeah, every time you and Arthur talk by yourselves Cenred always seems to find me and make little comments about how he wouldn’t leave his girlfriend alone with a man who famously sleeps around.” He sighed and run his fingers through his hair. “I been trying to ignore him because Arthur isn’t anything like how the media portrayals him, but you guys always got along so well….”
Gwen squeezed his hand. “You and Arthur haven’t known even other very long. I can understand how someone telling you something over and over again might cause you to doubt your instincts.”
“Doesn’t make it right,” Lance said, a deep frown crossing his face and he squeezed her hand back.
Gwen loved how Lance was always trying to learn from his mistakes and how he strived to be the best person he could be. “No but it makes you human like the rest of us.”
She then leaned over and kissed him. It was quick but made Lance smile, nonetheless.
He pulled her closer and kissed the top of her head. “Tell Arthur we’re in.” It was then that a thought hit him. “Wait is this a double date?”
Gwen snorted, “Took you long enough.”
Arthur was in a great mood. He had filmed his character’s big emotional scene in one take, they had his favorite ham and cheese sammies on the craft table today, he had gone on a delightful double date the other night, and tomorrow he would be off celebrating his anniversary. The only problem he could see was that he couldn’t drink too much on his anniversary since he would have to be back on set the day after.
So of course, Arthur had not seen what happened next coming.
“Arthur do you have a few minutes?” Lance asked. He looked a bit tense like something was wrong.
Arthur’s felt his eyebrows furrow and tried not to frown. “Sure, what’s wrong?”
Lance took a seat next to him and sighed. Running his hands through his hair he said, “I need to apologise to you.”
He tried to think of anything Lance might have done to him but came up blank. “What for?”
Lance looked embarrassed. “When you and Gwen first met, I thought-well, there are all these stories about you and I’d ashamed to admit that for a split second I thought they might be even remotely true.”
“Oh.” Because Arthur really didn’t know what to say. He felt a knot form in his stomach. “You thought I was after Gwen.”
Lance winced, but nodded, “I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t get the thought out of my head. Thankfully Gwen knocked some sense into me next week but I felt like I owed you an apology. You’ve been nothing but a good friend to me since we met, and I should’ve known better than to listen to the rumors the media puts out about you.”
Arthur swallowed down the lump forming in his throat and forced a small smile on his face. “You really didn’t have to apologise.”
“It just didn’t feel right, laughing, and joking around with you when I had accused you of something that wasn’t true and you not knowing.”
“Most people wouldn’t have ever told me. In fact, they would’ve lied if I had asked.” Arthur clapped him on the back and this time smiled for real. “You’re a good person Lance and a good friend.”
Arthur really was glad Lance had told him, but it didn’t get rid of the knot in the stomach that stayed with him for the rest of the day because now he couldn’t stop himself from wondering who else thought that? Had people from past films thought that? Did people think he was cheating on Merlin? Had Merlin?
That thought alone made his blood run cold. Merlin had always had a good laugh about the tabloid stories about him but now Arthur wondered if maybe some of them were harder to ignore and Merlin had just kept quiet about it.
When he got home that night, Merlin was on the ground playing with Kilagarrah.
“Oh! Now it’s over here! Come on, come on-OW!” Merlin hissed, dropping the toy and pulling his hand away.
Arthur grabbed a band-aid from the counter. “Here.”
He got on the ground and put the band-aid on the small scratch on his hand.
“Thanks,” Merlin gave him a quick smile before immediately frowning. “What’s wrong?”
Arthur sighed deeply, not knowing where to start. “You know I would never cheat on you right?”
“Yeah, I know.” Merlin reached over and placed his hand on Arthur’s cheek. “Where did that come from?”
Arthur smiled sadly. “Lance apologised to me today for thinking I was trying to shag Gwen.”
“Ah,” Merlin said, his mouth in a grim line but he didn’t look surprised by the news.
“Yeah.” Arthur sighed. “I understand how he might have thought that when we first met because of all those ridiculous gossip rags but what really upsets me is that he, or anyone really, think I’d cheat on you.”
Merlin bit his lip and looked down to his left like he always did when he wasn’t sure how to say something without upsetting him.
“Well,” Merlin said pulling out the word for a moment as he put his hand down and started playing with his fingers. “I’m pretty sure Lance didn’t realize we were a couple until recently.”
Arthur blinked. What? “We just went on a double date of course he knew.”
Merlin sighed, “When he apologised did he say when he realized he was wrong?”
“Yeah, last week.”
Merlin sighed because yeah that makes sense. “Which was right before our double date.”
Arthur frowned, what did Merlin know that he didn’t? “What does that have to do with anything?”
“Don’t get mad,” Merlin said, his eyes pleading him to stay calm. “But usually when I come to visit you at set people assume that we’re just mates.”
“What?!” His face immediately scrunched up in confusion. “Who? Since when?!”
Merlin winced. “Pretty much… everyone… since… I don’t know Killing It.”
“WHAT!” Arthur shouted because Killing It was his first real role in a film! He had played the main character’s best friend. He had shot that a few months after graduation. Seven years ago! He could feel the anger coming out of his voice as he said, “Why didn’t you tell me!?”
Before Merlin could respond a thought occurred to Arthur. “Wait! I’ve introduced you as my boyfriend before onset. Several times!” He hasn’t always, but usually, that was when Merlin came when he was in the middle of a take and he just assumed he told them.
Merlin bit his lip; he had been hoping Arthur wouldn’t ask that question. “Yeah, people may have thought you were kidding.”
As Merlin expected, Arthur did not take that well. “WHAT!”
Arthur was now up and pacing his hands over his nose and mouth which he only did when he was furious.
“Why didn’t you tell me?!” Arthur asked as he paced around the room.
Kilagarrah pressed himself against Merlin’s knee. Merlin began petting the cat and sighed. “I didn’t realize it at first. Not until the wrap party for Killing It when your coworker Sarah asked me if you had a girlfriend.” Arthur watched as Merlin petted their cat behind the ears. “And then I realized it again on your next film when I overheard some people talking about you.” Merlin rolled his eyes there, “The guys were all convinced you were sleeping with Vivian.”
“God no,” Arthur said, making a face. She was probably the most vapid woman he had ever met.
Merlin laughed, “Yeah I know, but they didn’t and at the time I thought it was sorta funny. Especially since only a few hours before you had your head in my lap as you took a kip.”
Arthur nodded, he had had a fight with his father that morning and was already exhausted. Merlin had stroked his hair the whole time to soothe him.
It was hard to believe anyone would think they were just friends after that.
“So I decided to play a little game.”
“Yeah I call it, ‘How Obvious Do I Have to Be Before They Realize I’m Arthur’s Boyfriend?’ game.”
Arthur frowned. “Please tell me you’re joking.”
Merlin shook his head smiling sheepishly. “Nope. Most people figure it out after the third or fourth time I visit but some people are more oblivious.”
Arthur stopped pacing. “Merlin,” he licked his lips before continuing, “How many times have you played this game?”
His boyfriend’s guilty expression said it all.
“Fuckin’ Christ!” Arthur growled. “So that’s why you were sure Lance didn’t know!”
“Yeaaah, Lance is a bit oblivious.” Merlin had literally kissed Arthur on the mouth in front of him once and the man still didn’t seem to get it. Merlin would bet all the money in his wallet that Gwen had told him.
“Merlin who else doesn’t know?” And the dark-hair man shrugged.
“Well, Gwen figured it out immediately, most of the sound and craft people. I’m not sure about the cameramen or Percy but I am ninety percent sure Gwaine knows.”
Arthur pressed his palms over his eyes. “So what you’re saying is that all this time everyone has assumed I was straight and I just missed it.”
“Pretty much yeah.”
“Seriously Merlin, why didn’t you tell me this before? I could have said or done something about it!”
Merlin sighed, “Honestly? Because I knew it would upset you, and I love you, but you can be a royal prick when you are pissed off. You were just starting to make a name for yourself at the time and I didn’t want you to get a reputation as a hothead just because some people were narrow-minded arseholes. Plus, it didn’t really matter to me, I’ve always known you were committed to our relationship and I didn’t need the web talking about us or whatever to prove it.”
Arthur sighed and came back down on the floor. “I don’t need the internet or social media to validate our relationship either. I like keeping my personal life private, but not at the expense of making you my dirty little secret. You’re important to me Merlin, the most important person in my life.” Arthur leaned over and pressed his forehead against Merlin’s.
Merlin felt his eyes start to water. “Stop it. You’re going to make me cry.” There was already a tear, but Merlin was smiling.
Arthur looked at the clock, it was midnight. “Happy tenth Anniversary love.”
Merlin shook his head, an amused chuckled spilling out as he lovingly said, “You prat.” Merlin leaned forward and kissed him. It was slow and lazy like they had all the time in the world.
Arthur pouted. “Are you seriously going to make me wear this silly blindfold the whole way there?”
Merlin laughed as he took a left on the road, “Yes! And don’t you dare peek or I’ll tie you up!”
“Not seeing a downside there,” he quipped.
Merlin threw a gum wrapper at his head. “Then how about I put gum in your hair?”
His blondie boyfriend laughed, “Alright I promise, no peeking.”
As he drove Merlin kept peeking at Arthur to make sure he wasn’t trying to get out of his blindfold. Ten minutes later Merlin pulled into the car park. “Alright, you can take it off now.”
“Finally!” Arthur whined, quickly pulling it off then frowned. “The big surprise is an underground car park?”
“Yes, I drove an hour just to take you to a car park,” Merlin replied rolling his eyes. “Come on now.”
Merlin got out of the car and walked up the stairs, knowing Arthur was right behind him. He took them two at a time, practically jumping up the stairs in excitement. He couldn’t wait to see Arthur’s face when he saw where they were.
He waited outside as Arthur came out and watched as his boyfriend became misty-eyed at the sight in front of him.
Arthur had to take a deep breath to stop from crying, “Merlin this is-”
Merlin smiled, “The movie theater where your parents met.” He reached over and squeezed Arthur’s hand. “I rented out theater 8 for the whole day so we could watch all those old movies you love.”
And suddenly, Arthur didn’t care that he had tears in his eyes because Merlin knew that he had watched all those films over and over again growing up because they were his mother’s. He reached out and framed his hands around Merlin’s face, and with all the love in his heart he said, “You’re something else you know that?”
“So, you keep telling me.” Merlin laughed cheerily. His smile so bright that Arthur just had to kiss him.
Arthur comes to set the next day with a strange mixture of elation and nervousness in his chest. He was sure the happiness from his anniversary yesterday was still pouring out from him, yet there was a small knot in his stomach from his and Merlin’s conversation the other night.
Not one for letting things lie, he decided to get it over with. Walking over to where the others were chatting as the crew set up for the day. “Morning.”
Everyone replied with similar greetings. Except of course Gwaine, who whistled. “Someone’s in a good mood today. Me thinkth someone got laid.”
“Let’s just say it was an anniversary to remember,” Arthur shrugged, but couldn’t keep the wide-reaching grin off his face before adding, “And that I’m out of honey.”
Lance laughed and gave him a hug. “Gwen mentioned your anniversary was this week! Happy Anniversary mate.”
Cenred frowned from his chair, surprised. “Anniversary?”
Arthur nodded, “Yeah Merlin, you remember Merlin, right? Yesterday was our ten-year anniversary.” Arthur was sure Cenred had met him, but he wasn’t sure he and Merlin had ever really talked.
“I knew it!” Gwaine roared, “I knew you and Merlin were a thing! Percy, you owe me twenty pounds!”
Percy rolled his eyes, “I never agreed to that bet, besides you thought they were fuckbuddies.” He didn’t look surprised by the news, however. “Congrats Arthur.”
“Thanks, Percy,” Arthur replied, before turning to Gwaine with one eyebrow raised. “You thought we were fuckbuddies?”
Gwaine shrugged, “Technically, I thought you were secretly in love with your fuckbuddy but yeah.”
Arthur snorted. Playfully smacking Gwaine on the back of the head as he shook his head in amusement.
Once he mentioned his anniversary to the blokes, it seemed his relationship status had spread across the set like wildfire.
Arthur was relieved to find that most people had either already guessed he was a relationship with Merlin or hadn’t really cared enough to think about his love life. Only a handful of people were genuinely surprised that he was in a monogamous relationship with a man.
Arthur left that day feeling lighter than ever.
The next few weeks went by in a blur. Arthur, as always, was disappointed when they had finished the last scene.
“And cut to print!” Mithian shouted. “That’s a wrap for Marco, Nate, and for As the World Falls!”
The crew began clapping and Arthur grinned at Lance. They laughed, teary-eyed and hugged. “It was a pleasure working with you Arthur.”
“You too Lance. Don’t be a stranger alright? Or else Merlin and I might have to camp out outside your flat.”
Lance laughed. “I’ll make sure to have some biscuits ready.”
As Arthur went around thanking everyone and saying his goodbyes until the wrap party next week, he couldn’t help but wish he could live out this script a little bit longer.
After the wrap party time flew for Arthur, he signed on to his next project, a WWII spy thriller, and a guest appearance on Doctor Who before Arthur and Merlin finally got to go on their anniversary trip. They had just gotten back from enjoying a truly blissful month in South America.
As soon as they walked back into their flat, Merlin flopped onto the sofa and groaned. “Uuughh I don’t want to go back to work tomorrow.” He then turned his head and pouted, “I should quit and become a gold-digger. You make enough money for the both of us anyways.”
Arthur snorted and he moved Merlin’s legs on top of him so he could sit on the sofa, “I don’t think you’re supposed to tell the person you’re trying to gold dig that you’re after their money.”
Merlin shrugged. “Eh.” Before rolling over to look at him properly. “When is Gwen bringing Killi over?”
Arthur frowned. “Tomorrow after she gets off work, I think. Hang on,” Arthur quickly looked through their texts before nodding. “Yeah she has to supervise art club but after that, she’ll pop by. I should still be here then.”
“You excited for the beginning of the press tour?” Merlin asked cheerfully. Somehow he always knew which interviews he was eager for or dreading.
“Actually yeah.” Arthur had never really enjoyed the interview part of promoting films. It made him anxious. He always felt like the reporters were waiting with bated breath for him to make a wrong move. Which is probably why during interviews he put on a little too much false bravado. Which in hindsight is probably where his pretentious playboy image came from.
But he was excited to talk about this movie. He loved the film and couldn’t wait for people to see it.
“Arthur!” Lance called as soon he walked into the studio, grinning brightly when he saw him.
“Lance!” He said, immediately pulling the man into a hug.
“How was your trip?”
Arthur beamed, his face surely full of sunshine. “Brilliant! Merlin had to drag me to the airport when it was time to leave.”
Lance smirked. “And here I thought the trip was a present for him.”
Arthur laughed. “Oh trust me, he didn’t want to leave either. Our last week he kept trying to entice me to leave everything behind and stay in Peru forever.”
A man came over and told them the interview was ready to start. The two nodded and followed him over to the two movie-style director chairs.
A woman with light brown hair in her late twenties smiled at them. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Arthur Pendragon and Lance DuLac. I’m Sophia Sidney.”
They shook her hand and sat down as two techies approached them with click on mikes.
She grinned, “Right let’s get started, shall we? So, As the World Falls is a love story about two men finding each other again after the world falls to pieces. What drew you both to this story?”
Arthur nodded, “It was all of it really, the relationship between Marco and Nate was, well, I felt, really moving and flowed beautifully. But it was also the other elements of the story as well because it’s not just a love story, it’s a survivor’s tale, it’s found family, it’s a story about the small everyday things that really makes life worth living against the backdrop of an apocalypse.”
Lance smiled, “I completely agree. As the World Falls is about the little things in life that make living worthwhile. I think the romance between Marco and Nate really connects and cements this idea, and all the moving parts of the film as well into this beautiful love story about life itself.”
“How lovely! If I hadn’t already been curious about this film already, I would be now,” she said cheerfully.
“Glad to know we’re doing our jobs then,” Arthur joked.
“So I have to ask, Lance how did you react when you found out you’d be co-starring with THE Arthur Pendragon.”
Lanced smile widely, a quiet chuckle coming out. “I was definitely surprised. I thought they were having a laugh at me.”
“Haha, I bet!”
“When our Director Mithanian Nemeth told me I would be doing a screen test with him I thought she was pulling my leg. She had to assure me several times before I believed her.”
They had a few more questions before Sophia asked the fateful question. “How did preparing for the romance scenes in this film differ from other films where your love interest were women?”
Arthur couldn’t help it, he snorted. Because what she really meant was, ‘Was it weird kissing a man?’ And really, who asks that anymore?
Lance being the sweetheart he was, kindly smiled as he said, “Honestly it wasn’t much different. Just like with any scene partner before a romance scene, Arthur and I talked beforehand about what we were comfortable with and what we weren’t.” Lance smiled as he shrugged, “Arthur made it really easy. He was always so relaxed and friendly. Before our first kiss scene actually, he came up and told me, ‘I’m apologising now if my breath stinks. I’m a sucker for an egg and hammy and I’m not sure the spearmint gum is working.’ It was impossible to be nervous after that.”
Sophia smiled in amusement. “And how about you Arthur? What was it like for London’s resident ladies’ man?”
This time Lance snorted and Arthur tried not to laugh himself.
“Oh it was easy, I mean look him. He’s fucking fit. When they introduced him to me internally I was like, yessssssssssss,” Arthur said. pulling his arm back to the side of his ribs, his fist turned up in victory.
Lance laughed. “You did not.”
“Swear to god,” He said grinning at Lance before turning back to Sophia. “I’m a professional when the camera’s rolling, I’ll kiss a donkey if they want me to but as a bi man I was like ‘fuck yeah, he’s hot.’”
“I’m sorry did you just- did you just say ‘as a bi man?’” She said looking thunderstruck.
“Yeah, I’m bi,” Arthur said like he was talking about the weather. While he knew the world was going to act like this was a bombshell, to him it was just him pointing out the obvious.
“Oh my god. Wow! Okay! Wow. Um first off, thank you for feeling comfortable enough with me to come out,” Sophia said looking slightly frazzled.
Arthur laughed, “I’ve been out since I was fifteen. My family and all my schoolmates from secondary and Uni knew. I actually didn’t realize that the media thought I was straight until a few months ago. I kind of assumed they knew seeing how I was never hiding it.”
If the reporter's face looked shocked before it now looked like her brain was broken.
Merlin chuckled for the millionth time as he re-watched Arthur and Lance’s IMDB interview on Youtube.
“How many times are you going to watch that?”
Merlin looked up at his boyfriend from his spot on the bed. “When it stops being hilarious, so never.”
Arthur rolled his eyes and joined him on the bed.
“Seriously Arthur I think you broke the internet,” he said as he scrolled through the comments. There were some trolls of course but most of the responses were pretty positive.
“I knew the media was going to blow it up, but I haven’t expected it to happen this fast.” The interview had happened last night and practically every major media outlet had put something out about it early this morning.
The dark-haired man snorted. “Arthur, you have like five fan clubs. You were named sexiest man alive two years in a row. You are an action film star, who also does romcoms. You were John Constantine in that Justice League film, a part if you remember, that was supposed to be a minor role but you were so brilliant, they made a spin-off movie about you! You’re one of the hottest names in the industry, of course, they are going to make a big deal about this.”
“So, you think I’m hot?” Arthur teased with a smirk.
Merlin groaned and pushed him away. “You are literally the worst.”
Arthur grinned, leaning over so his lips was barely an inch away from Merlin’s he pointed out, “That’s not a no.”
“You are such a prat,” Merlin mumbled, a smile gracing his handsome face before pulling Arthur forward.
Arthur isn’t stupid. He knew when he publicly came out in an interview for a gay indie romance film some people would think it was just for the publicity or for attention. Seeing people actually accuse him of it on social media however, didn’t feel great though.
He sighed. He knew he needed to make a social media post about his coming out he just reaaaally didn’t want to. Arthur wasn’t exactly fond of talking about himself, he much rather talk about his films but as his manager, Leon told him yesterday, he was going to have to do it sooner or later might as well do it before all the interviews he had lined up tried to twist his words around.
Arthur grabbed his mobile and switched it to selfie mode before clicking the big red button. “Hi there. So some of you may have seen my IMDB interview from the other night where I came out publicly as bi. I know a lot of people find the timing a little too convenient because of After the World Falls but I didn’t come out to make people see the movie, though I do hope people come see it because it’s brilliant.” Arthur paused and took a deep breath. “As I said in the interview, I was never trying to hide it. People have always assumed they knew my love life because of the tabloids so they never asked, but if they had it would have been out ages ago. I admit I am partially to blame for assuming that people did know.”
“Whether you believe me or not, I know who I am and this is who I am, a proud bi actor.” It was at this moment that Kilgharrah decided to make his presence known and started meowing loudly. “With a very hungry cat.”
The post on Instagram went viral. Thousands of comments of people cheering him on, thanking him, and telling him that his coming out as helped them in one shape or form. It warmed his heart more than he could say.
“So Arthur, when you started the now infamous IMDB interview, were you planning to come out?” Sir Bedivere asked.
This was Arthur’s first interview since the IMDB one. A late-night talk show with the popular Sir Bedievere. Arthur gave a playful smile to the audience as he leaned into the plush comfort red chair. “Not really no.”
“Now, in the interview, you say you didn’t realize the public didn’t know you were bi until a few months ago. Why didn’t you come out when you realized people didn’t know?”
“Honestly I almost did. I must have typed out like twenty different posts for social media but it just never felt right. I was never one to declare things. I’ve always been more of a show by actions kind of guy, I usually tell people things in passing. I came out to my sister while watching MTV and arguing with her over who was the hottest member of NSYNC was and then going on about how hot J Lo was in her latest music video. So I decided to wait until it felt natural.”
Sir Bedivere grinned, clearly enjoying what his next question was going to be. “So tell me, who is the hottest NSYNC member?”
Arthur smirked, rolling his eyes at the host. "JC obviously.”
“Obviously,” Sir Bedievere said, looking at the camera with a cheeky eye roll. “Now Arthur, since you’ve come out everyone has been trying to figure out who the magazines and tabloids have missed.”
Arthur scoffed and waved his hand in the air as he said, “Well I can tell you now if their guesses are famous or other actors’ they are wrong.”
Now here Bedievere looked surprised, “Really?”
“Really, in fact, they have been all wrong for years.” It felt nice to finally disperse all those ridiculous rumors.
“Come on Arthur, they couldn’t have been wrong about everything.”
Arthur grinned, he was going to enjoy this. “I’ve literally been with the same man since I was nineteen. Our tenth-year anniversary was in July.”
Arthur smirked widely, “Want to see a picture?”
Bedievere nodded. Arthur grabs out his mobile and shows the man his lock screen. It’s Merlin making a weird face while holding Killgarrah. It’s literally the stupidest face Merlin’s ever made and it’s embarrassing how endearing he finds it.
He tears his eyes off the photo and looks over to Bedievere hearing his name. “Sorry yes?”
Bedievere smirked at Arthur’s obvious distraction over a photo of his boyfriend. “I asked is that your cat?”
He nodded. “Yeah. My boyfriend and I adopted him three years ago.”
“Awww, what’s his name?”
Arthur groaned, “SO what you need to know is that I wasn’t the one who named him.”
Bedievere looked over at the camera and laughed loudly. “This is going to be good folks.”
If someone had asked Freya Murphy two months ago what she thought Arthur Pendragon’s flat looked like she would have probably guessed the ultimate man cave. But then Mr. Pendragon not only came out but revealed he’d been in a serious committed relationship for the last ten years. She was honestly more surprised by the serious relationship than him being bi. So when she arrived at Arthur Pendragon’s flat to interview him for Vanity Fair, she wasn’t sure what she expected.
She walked into the flat with bright camera lights flashing. The cameraman shooting Arthur in a deep blue velvet suit with no shirt underneath next to the fireplace.
The first word that came to mind when she looked around the room was homey. The flat felt lived in and loved. The walls in the sitting room were a light blue with a lovely pale green trim. The furniture was mostly wood, some a bit worn with age but clearly well cared for. There were paintings and photos all over the place. She stopped in front of a side table that had little green hand-drawn triangles painted onto it. On top of it were photos. Some of the photos were of Arthur with friends and family and some of a black-haired bloke with friends and family, but most of them had the two side by side.
Freya was looking at a photo of the two of them with two dark-haired women, one about their age and another a good twenty years older. “That’s my sister and my partner Merlin’s mum.”
Startled, Freya jumped before turning over and giving him a polite smile. “Hello Mr. Pendragon, I’m Freya Murphy. I’m here to do your interview.”
Arthur smiled warmly as he shook her hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you and please call me Arthur.”
She nodded, pleasantly surprised by how down to earth he was. “Of course, you have a lovely home by the way. I especially love this painting.” She pointed to the one next to the side table she had been looking at. It really was quite lovely.
“Thank you! My partner painted that. He painted most of the art on our walls actually,” he said beaming with pride.
“Really? Wow, your partner is quite the artist then.”
“I think so yeah but he won’t listen to me. Claims I’m biased.” Arthur rolled his eyes at the last bit as he walked over to another room and sat at the table. He gestured to the other side of the table.
Freya chuckled as she followed him over and sat down. “Well of course you are, you love him. That doesn’t mean you’re not right.”
“I like you already,” He said with a grin.
Freya smiled. Arthur Pendragon was much nicer than she thought he’d be. “Right let’s get this started, shall we?”
They discuss a few things. The photoshoot, his latest film, his next filming, being bi, being in the public eye, his home, his family, and of course, his relationship.
It’s during the last one when his partner Merlin came home.
“Arthur you home?”
Arthur gave her a sneaky smile and put his finger to his mouth, clearly planning something. “In the dining room love.”
“Ugh, you will never guess what Mordred did today! First, he broke the printer, he swears it was like that when he got there but-” Merlin stopped when he reached the dining room and saw Freya. With a very confused look on his face. “What’s going on?”
Arthur smirked. “It’ll come to you.”
Merlin frowned in thought, his eyebrows furrowed until he remembered. “The interview!” Merlin yelled before giving her an embarrassed smile. “Sorry,” he said, before glaring at Arthur.
Arthur chuckled, grinning broadly trying and failing to look innocent. “What?”
Merlin glared but he was smiling as he flicked Arthur’s cheek. “You are such a prick.”
Freya smiled as the two bickered for a moment, enjoying the softer side of the famous Arthur Pendragon.
The magazine came out a month later. Arthur is on the cover with a full four-page spread. Photos of him all throughout their apartment but his favorite photo is on the bottom of the fourth page. It’s a photo of their side table in the front hallway. In it, is two photos, one of him and Merlin at Uni sitting in the grass with some friends, Merlin sitting behind him with his arms around him and his head on Arthur’s shoulder smiling as Arthur relaxes into his chest, laughing at something someone said. The second a picture of them on their anniversary trip on top of Machu Pichu, they are both sweaty and worn out, but their arms are around each other and Arthur is kissing his cheek.
THREE YEARS LATER
“You ready?” Arthur asks as the limo stops. They are at the premiere of his latest film. An X-men film where he played Iceman.
“As ready as I can be,” Merlin replies, a nervous smile on his face as he squeezes Arthur’s hand. Arthur grins as he looks down and sees their matching wedding bands.
They were married last month in Merlin’s hometown. It was small and intimate with Merlin’s mum, Arthur’s sister, and about thirty friends. It was an outdoor wedding with trees and un-plucked flowers everywhere. It was perfect.
“Then let’s do this hubby,” Arthur says pecking him on the lips, relishing their newlywed status before opening the door.
As Arthur steps out of the car, he smooths down his red suit and turns to help his husband out. He immediately laces their hands together as they walk down the red carpet. They both stop and wave for a photo and Arthur can’t help himself. He leans over and presses a soft kiss on Merlin’s lips, lingering for a moment as the camera keep flashing.