Nine months later
Arthur came home right on time. Merlin should have known not to be worried. Arthur was usually very punctual. Merlin had managed to calm down enough to get working on the laptop. He had edited the thing a million times by now.
They shared a smile and soon Arthur was leaning over the back of the couch and pressing his lips to Merlin’s.
“How was Mithian?” Merlin asked when they pulled apart.
After work, Arthur told Merlin he was planning on stopping by and visiting his new baby sister, Mithian. Even though things between Arthur and his father were never the same, Arthur refused to abandon his sister. It was just another reason why Merlin loved him so much.
“She’s delightful as always. I think that I have a way with babies. She was crying when I got there, but as soon as I held her she stopped. When I left, I could hear her starting up again.” Arthur took his coat off and frowned. “Poor thing. I think at two months old, she already knows her parents are a nightmare. Took me a lot longer than that.”
“That’s because Mithian is smarter than you are.” Merlin teased.
“Hilarious,” Arthur said taking a seat next to Merlin and pinching Merlin’s thigh. He looked over at the laptop. “What are you working on? Some kind of potion for work?”
Merlin rolled his eyes. “I’m a scientist, not a wizard. You still don’t quite understand what I do, do you?”
Arthur just shrugged.
Merlin shook his head. “It’s not anything for work. You’re not the only one who can write for fun in this relationship.”
“I’m not writing only for fun. I’m working on the next great piece of British literature...if I could just-”
“Actually work on it and not your latest Steve/Tony opus?” Merlin interrupted with a cheeky grin.
“I can do both,” Arthur retorted.
Arthur hit Merlin on the back of the head. As Merlin rubbed the back of his head, they looked at each other and laughed.
Merlin was mostly teasing. He loved Arthur’s fanfic and that he still made time for it and he knew how hard Arthur was working on his book. Getting to watch Arthur write, to see how dedicated and passionate he was about it, filled Merlin’s heart with joy.
“So, what is it that you’re working on?” Arthur asked again.
Merlin lifted up the laptop and put it Arthur’s lap. “See, for yourself.”
“Alright.” Arthur cleared his throat. “Once…” He slowly looked at Merlin with a sour look on his face. “Once upon a time…” He stopped again. “I can tell already this is going to be literary gold.”
It was Merlin’s turn to hit Arthur on the back of the head.
Arthur laughed and continued. “‘Once upon a time a dashing scientist met an overworked prat named Artie.’” Arthur’s lips curled up into a smile. “‘The prat was desperate and needed the brilliant scientist’s help in tricking his ogre of a father.’” Arthur sat back. “‘Brilliant’, ‘dashing’...and I don’t appreciate how often I’m being referred to as a prat.”
Merlin shrugged. “I’m sorry I have to be as authentic as possible.”
Arthur just shook his head while chuckling. He started reading it to himself.
While he was doing that, Merlin slowly slid his hand in his pocket and pulled out the ring.
“‘The scientist saved him with a fake proposal.’” Arthur started to read aloud again. “‘The ogre choked on all of his rage and bile and exploded.’ Well, that’s graphic, but no less than what he deserved. ‘The scientist and the former prat’ - former prat, that’s better.” Arthur smiled. “‘They went off to live their new adventure together. It was a blissful time. Six months later, the dashing, brilliant, funny scientist proposed for real.’”
Arthur squinted at the screen. “Proposed for real? What does that…?” He trailed off.
Merlin was on one knee with the ring in his hand. He was shaking, but tried to smile. “I know the story was rubbish, but I didn’t give you any warning last time and I didn’t want to do the same thing again.”
Arthur put his hand over his mouth and his eyes widened as he looked from Merlin’s face to the ring and back again.
“You know I kept this ring all this time because I had a feeling we would be back here again, which is crazy considering how we started, but somehow I knew. I was starting to think it would never happen for me, but I finally figured out how my parents have lasted all of these years. I always wondered how it didn’t get tiring being with the same person day in and day out, until I met you. Sometimes we’re just sitting at home and watching the telly and I look over at you and I get this rush of excitement and happiness because I know that I get to be with someone who I love and that loves me - who I can laugh with and myself with. I don’t think that will ever get boring, whether it’s six months, six years, sixty years from now. You are who I want to spend every day of the rest of my life with and I want to start that life right now. So...will you marry me?”
Arthur bites his lip as tears fall from his eyes. He wipes them and types something out on the laptop. He turns it toward Merlin.
Merlin leaned over and read it. “Yes, you idiot.” He looked up and grinned from ear to ear. “We’ll just edit out that idiot part later.”
Arthur threw the laptop onto the couch and launched himself into Merlin’s waiting arms. They laughed together and Merlin closed his eyes in relief and let a feeling of total bliss wash over him.
He pulled back and slipped the ring on Arthur’s finger. They both stared at it and then leaned in for a kiss. They made love right there...and then again in their bedroom.
Afterwards, as they lay basking in each other’s arms, Merlin stroked his fingers up and down Arthur’s arm. A strange thought occurred to him. “Arthur, this probably isn’t the time, but I was wondering who gets to tell Uther?”
They shared a quick glance and then both raised their hands.