Title:Four times Merlin and Arthur nearly kiss (And the one time they do)
Rating:PG-13
Pairing:Arthur/Merlin ,
Summary:Four times Merlin and Arthur nearly kiss… and the one time they do.
Disclaimer:Not mine. No money being made from this. Entertainment purposes only… Blah blah blah…
Author Notes:Okay so I know this idea has been done to death but I really couldn't help myself. This is what happens when you leave uni okay? Your brain has to do something to keep active! Hehe!

***

One

"Arthur, this is utterly ridiculous." Merlin bemoaned for what seemed like the thousandth time that hour.
"Merlin, how many times do I have to tell you? I don't care what you think! Now get on with it."
"But Arthur-"
"Merlin!"
"Fine. But I am so not happy about this."
"Don't. Care."
Sighing dramatically Merlin hoisted the deer carcass over his shoulder, heaved it up onto the back of Arthur's horse and secured it with leather straps. It certainly wouldn't do for it to slip off during the ride home.
Task completed, Merlin stepped back and looked at Arthur again. Arthur merely looked back, his eyes motioning pointedly to his saddle.
"Really?" Merlin asked once again.
"Merlin!"
"Alright! Alright. But I am formally against this."
"And I am formally telling you to shut up."
Sighing again, louder and clearly more protesting than the last time, Merlin put his foot into Arthur's stirrup and attempted to pull himself up onto the horse. After 3 attempts, he was having very little luck. Getting on a horse without having to lift your leg even higher to compensate for a dead deer was hard enough.
After the fourth attempt Arthur grumbled and stepped forward, all but lifting Merlin onto the horse. Merlin had never felt like such a girl.
"There!" Arthur said as Merlin settled himself properly. "Was that so hard?"
"Yes. It was."
Arthur rolled his eyes and tugged on the reins of his horse, urging her on. Merlin didn't have the strength to kick her into movement, not after she was so used to Arthur's strong and sure kicks. Merlin always moaned about not wanting to hurt the horse.
"Arthur-"
"If you complain once more I am going to walk you right to the stables."
Merlin paused, the thought filling him with complete unreserved horror. He mumbled an apology and remained largely silent on the short ride back to the castle.
"Arthur, we're near the gates." He said eventually.
"So?"
"Arthur you promised!" Merlin began pulling on the reins trying to get the horse to stop at the same time as Arthur was tugging her forward. Of course his horse would listen to him; she kept moving.
"Arthur!"
He chuckled, he had had his fun. Halting the movement, he stepped back as Merlin leaned forward, swinging his leg back and hitting the deer he had almost forgotten about. Trying again, he managed to lift his leg over the deer, slide down the saddle and off the horse. Right into a heap on the floor.
"As dignified as ever." Arthur smiled right above him, before he reached down and hauled Merlin back onto his feet.
Unfortunately, or not depending on your view point, Arthur hadn't quite judged the proximity that the pair would be in once Merlin was actually standing in and, standing a hairs breadth apart it was impossible for Merlin not to notice just how blue Arthur's eyes were. Arthur was finding it difficult to ignore Merlin's frankly magnificent cheek bones, accentuated by Merlin's grin of triumph about finally being allowed off the horse. A grin, he noticed that was rapidly disappearing.
Arthur's eyes flittered down to Merlin's lips to double check this piece of information and, as Merlin was staring right into Arthur's impossibly blue eyes, he noticed this at once. Sucking in a deep breath Merlin's own eyes mirrored the movement, completely by their own accord.
It would be so simple to close the tiny gap between the two sets of full lips, so easy to kiss that grin right back onto Merlin's face…
A twig snapped to their right, shattering the atmosphere that had descended upon the pair. Arthur stepped back immediately as Merlin coughed rather awkwardly.
"If you've finished being a girl Merlin, we can go home." Arthur said his voice rough.
"Right, yeah. Sure." Merlin avoided looking directly at Arthur but saw, nonetheless, the one quick fluid movement that Arthur needed to settle himself into the saddle of his horse.
"Prat" he mumbled
"What was that?"
"Nothing."

Two

Merlin let himself into Arthur's chambers, his Prince's frankly excessive breakfast in hand. Setting the tray down onto the table, Merlin looked to the bed where Arthur was spread eagled, snoring lightly. For a soldier, Merlin thought it took a heck of a lot of effort to wake Arthur in the morning. 'Battle ready in an instant my arse' Merlin thought with a slight grin.
"Breakfast!" he said loudly. Arthur sniffed in his sleep, rolling onto his side.
Rolling his eyes Merlin walked to the bed "Arthur." he said again. Nothing.
"Arthur, you have to get up." Arthur's face scrunched up, usually a sign of waking, but he merely rolled back onto his back.
Leaning over, Merlin shook Arthur's shoulder roughly. "Arthur" he almost groaned out.
Arthur's hand stopped Merlin shaking him, clamping around Merlin's wrist tightly. "Finally!" Merlin said triumphantly. "Your breakfast is-" Arthur rolled over again, dragging Merlin along by his wrist effectively pulling Merlin into the bed with him.
The tight grip on his wrist lessened, Arthur's hand sliding up to take Merlin's hand in his own, pressing his lips to it with an unconscious grin.
Merlin suppressed a shiver at the thought of their position. It was almost as if they were… no. That thought would do no good in this particular situation. Not when he was in Arthur's bed, all but spooning Arthur.
"Arthur!" he whispered right into Arthur's ear. This seemed to do something; Arthur hummed in response, releasing Merlin's hand and rolling over again. Dropping his hand onto Merlin's shoulder, Arthur's eyes finally opened revealing his beautiful, sleepy eyes.
It took a moment for their situation to dawn on Arthur and Merlin could see the exact moment the penny dropped for Arthur.
"Merlin, why are you in my bed?" he asked slowly.
"I was trying to wake you up and you thought better of it."
"I did not do this."
"Uh yeah, you kind of did."
"Did not."
"Are you four?"
"Shut up."
Merlin stopped his response, he would not argue with Arthur in Arthur's bed. Arthur's eyes followed his arm, up to Merlin's shoulder where his hand was still resting, flexing his fingers slightly Merlin followed his gaze. Both men looked up at the same time, their eyes meeting. Holding Arthur's stare, Merlin swallowed heavily a direct response to the atmosphere around them.
Arthur began to lean towards Merlin achingly slowly. It seemed Arthur was trying to give Merlin as much time as he could so that Merlin could refuse before their lips met. That wasn't going to happen.
Merlin moved forward, his eyes sliding shut at the last moment; he could feel Arthur millimetres from his lips, stretching forward, he parted his lips in anticipation.
A sharp knock on the door broke through the haze pulling both men out of the moment. Merlin bolted from the bed so quickly his head span wildly.
Arthur coughed, clearing his throat before he barked "Enter" to whoever was interrupting them.
A boy opened the door, looking at the floor shyly. "Sire, the King requests your presence immediately."
"Of course. I'll be there shortly." Arthur said, watching Merlin fuss with his breakfast.
The boy nodded and let himself out of the room, leaving Merlin and Arthur alone again.
Their eyes met again, flitting away from one another almost immediately.
"Well then, get my clothes ready." Arthur said, rolling out of bed.
Topless.
Merlin groaned.

Three

"Merlin! I am not iner- inebriur- drunk." Arthur giggled, leaning heavily on his servant.
"Right, and I'm a nobleman."
Arthur snorted "You're not noble Merlin! You're my servant."
"Yes." Merlin replied suppressing a grin as Arthur stumbled over his own feet. "Come on, let's get you to bed."
"I don't want to go to bed."
"Tough."
Arthur pouted, rather adorably it was true. "I'm in charge in this relationship Merlin."
Merlin ignored the flutter in his stomach at Arthur's use of the word 'relationship'. Maybe Arthur was right, maybe he was turning into a girl.
"Not right now you're not." Merlin said taking great pleasure in that fact.
"I'm alw'ys in charge. Prince" he slapped his own chest "servant." he patted Merlin's chest, letting his hand slide down Merlin's front and off just above his waistline.
"Right. Sober" Merlin gestured to himself "completely trashed." he placed his hand on Arthur's chest. He just couldn't help himself!
If Arthur sighed and grabbed Merlin's hand as it lay on his chest, it was not Merlin's fault at all. Neither was Arthur refusing to let go of his hand for the rest of the awkward trip back to Arthur's chambers.
Pulling Arthur through the door to his chambers, across the room and pushing him onto the large bed, Merlin knew it was ridiculous to miss the warmth of Arthur's hand around his own.
"Merlin I said I dunwantgutobed." How Merlin actually understood that was testament to just how well he knew the Prince.
"And I said tough."
"And I said somethin' 'bout being in charge"
Merlin laughed nodding. "But you really should sleep Arthur- you're going to feel terrible in the morning."
"But I feel good now so why do you want me to feel bad sooner? You don't like me do you? You hate me. You're only here because you have to be." Arthur flopped backwards onto his bed again, looking absolutely miserable.
"No, Arthur I'm here because I want to be."
"No you don't, I can tell."
Merlin sighed and sat on Arthur's bed, looking down at Arthur. "I want to be here Arthur. I do."
Arthur stared right up at Merlin, wide eyed and trusting. "Do you really?"
"Yes."
"Do you like me?"
"Yes."
"Do you like me a lot?"
Merlin paused, this sounded like a trick question, but how could he refuse Arthur staring up at him like that?
"Yes."
Arthur's answering smile was beyond beautiful; his eyes sparkled, his white teeth peeked out from beneath his full lips curved into a breathtaking beam.
"I like you too" he whispered still smiling. Merlin couldn't help himself, he smiled right back.
It was only when Arthur was half way up that Merlin realised what he was doing. Instantly an internal war began waging in Merlin's mind- on the one hand Arthur was about to kiss him! Actually, kiss him.
On the other, Arthur was immensely drunk and was most likely leaning up to kiss him simply because he was drunk. There was no chance that Arthur would actually want to kiss him if he were sober.
Then again, Merlin thought back to the other times that they had been this close; Arthur had been entirely sober then. Maybe he would do this if he were sober. That settled it.
Merlin grinned and moved to close the gap between them when Arthur suddenly fell back. Merlin panicked; 'He wasn't going to kiss me! Oh by the gods!' His face burnt with embarrassment.
Gathering his courage, he looked down at Arthur who was sparked out, his mouth hanging open comically. Merlin breathed a sigh of relief, noticing for the first time that Arthur's hand was still resting on Merlin's forearm.
He had wanted to kiss him after all! The thought warmed Merlin to his core. He couldn't quite stop smiling as he rearranged Arthur onto his side; he couldn't have his Prince choke on his own vomit.
Not really the way Legend would want the Crowned Prince of Camelot to meet his end.

Four

Arthur walked into his chambers, dropping his sword heavily onto the table.
"Hard session?" Merlin asked with a small smile.
"They were slacking so I worked them harder."
"And you had to work yourself harder too?"
Arthur hummed noncommittally as Merlin began to unbuckle his armour, lifting Arthur's arm to remove the shoulder plate, noticing Arthur's wince immediately.
"Did you hit your shoulder again?" he asked, knowing full well that his shoulder still hurt from time to time.
A quick nod was all he would get out of Arthur on the subject and continued on with removing the armour as quickly as he could.
"Your dinner is on the table." he said as he finished. Arthur smiled gratefully and dropped into the seat, picking at the bread tiredly. "I'll draw you a bath. It looks like you could use it."
Arthur hummed again, looking up as Merlin left the room to fetch the water. Maybe he wasn't so terrible after all.

A little while later, the bath was full and warm, ready for Arthur to sink into and ease away his pains. Walking to the bath, a towel wrapped around his waist, Arthur could feel Merlin's eyes burning into him from the table he was tidying.
Divesting his towel, Arthur stepped into the bath and sank down with a grateful groan. Merlin swallowed roughly, staring down at the plate in his hands as though it was the most interesting thing he had ever seen.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Arthur flexing his shoulder, wincing again. Merlin knew Arthur would never actually complain about any pain that he was in; the more it hurt, the less he talked.
Sighing, Merlin put the plate down and grabbed hold of the ointment Gaius had prepared for Arthur's shoulder. Turning to watch Arthur struggle to reach the place in his shoulder Merlin sighed and walked to the tub kneeling behind his friend. "Arthur, let me."
It was evidence of just how much pain Arthur was in, that he didn't once protest. Not even to the ointment, which he ordinarily refused point blank.
Rubbing the ointment into the red shoulder, Merlin began to rub either side of Arthur's neck, pressing his thumbs into the tense muscles in tight circular motions. Following the line of Arthur's spine, Merlin massaged Arthur's pain away, one knot at a time.
Merlin returned his attention back to Arthur's painful left shoulder, and worked the pain away in careful movements. Hitting an especially painful part, Arthur let out a hiss and allowed his head to fall back onto Merlin's chest. "Sorry" Merlin whispered, fearing that his speaking any louder would snap Arthur back into clarity and would once again refuse the help that he most certainly needed.
Dabbing more of the ointment into his hand, Merlin once again set to massaging his Prince's shoulder, easing the soreness with his hands.
"I swear Merlin; I sometimes think you should just be my personal masseuse. Your hands are magical."
Merlin snorted "Sure. Magical."
"Yeah, I know it's hard to believe buy you really are actually very good at this. Turns out you're not entirely useless."
"Good to know."
Arthur smiled as Merlin moved around to Arthur's side to get a better angle to massage Arthur; his chest was aching just as much as his back. Spreading his hand across Arthur's broad chest Merlin took a moment to appreciate his pale skin against Arthur's more tanned skin.
Apparently, he stared for a moment too long because Arthur shivered under his touch. Looking up quickly Merlin met Arthur's heated gaze before both pairs of eyes dropped down to Merlin's hand, still on top of Arthur's chest.
Slowly, so slowly Arthur's wet hand came up to cover Merlin's, running his thumb across the back of Merlin's hand, the contrast captivating the attention of both men.
Blinking, Merlin looked back up into Arthur's face and smiled shyly. He could read Arthur's intent as easily as he could read a book, his heart sped up wildly. There was no chance of interruption this time; they were in Arthur's chambers, Arthur had finished his duties for the day and he was entirely sober.
Leaning closer, his eyes focused on Arthur's lips, he licked his own lips in anticipation.
Arthur's eyes widened at this movement and lunged forward to capture Merlin in a kiss.
Before their lips met Arthur let out a groan of pain, glaring at his shoulder as though it had wronged him. Looking back up to where Merlin had been, he found the spot now empty.
Merlin had darted back to the table, his face flaming. Merlin heard Arthur sigh and he finished his bath in silence.
This was getting ridiculous.

And the one time they did

"Gaius!" Arthur called desperately, bursting into the physician's chambers carrying an unconscious and bleeding Merlin in his arms. "Gaius, please be here!"
Gaius rushed out of Merlin's room to Arthur's frantic calling.
"Oh my! Sire, what happened?"
"We were hunting and bandits ambushed us. He was hit by the first arrow. I didn't even see it coming."
"Put him down here." Gaius said moving the books on the table aside allowing Arthur to lay Merlin down.
Tearing Merlin's tunic to get to the wound in Merlin's left side, Arthur hovered behind Gaius, staying out of the way as best he could; he knew he would do more bad than good.
Gaius pressed a cloth to the wound in Merlin's side, "Arthur, come and put pressure here if you will."
Arthur rushed to Gaius' side and pressed where he was told to whilst Gaius rushed around his chambers, gathering everything he needed to, Arthur assumed, stitch the injury.
"Alright, you can let go now. I need a fresh bowl of water. Would you mind getting some from the well sire?"
Arthur hesitated. He didn't want to leave Merlin's side for a second. "He will be fine Arthur. It is a flesh wound; deep for sure but the arrow hit no vital organs. He will heal in time." Gaius set to stitching the wound, as Arthur nodded once, grabbing a bucket. He ran to the well filled the bucket and returned to Merlin as quickly as he possibly could.
He filled a bowl of water for Gaius and set it on the table next to Merlin. Watching Gaius methodically close the wound Arthur had never felt so entirely useless. If he had been further from Camelot Merlin would have lost too much blood for even Gaius to save. Arthur had no idea about sewing wounds and if they had been unable to get to Gaius in time…
Arthur sighed and moved to Merlin's right side, kneeling and carefully, so as not to jostle him, he took Merlin's limp hand in his own.
He was impossibly worried about his friend. The only person in Camelot's party to be seriously injured in the ambush and it had to be Merlin. The one person that, when hurt, could send a shock of fear so violent through Arthur, that he felt physically sick himself.
If anything happened to Merlin he had no idea what he would do. Over the years Merlin had become more than a servant to Arthur, more than a friend even. He was… Arthur struggled to place Merlin's position in his life. More than servant, more than friend, more than anyone he had ever known. One word pushed its way to the surface, one word Arthur was reluctant to accept; love.
Did he love Merlin? If you were to ask him the question just a few months ago, Arthur would have said it was impossible. It was not that he couldn't love Merlin, it was that he shouldn't.
Merlin was a servant, the class divides were impossible not to notice. Merlin brought his breakfast in the mornings. He bathed him when Arthur couldn't do it himself. He polished his armour and sword, cleaned out his stables and tidied his chambers. Arthur relied on Merlin for everything. Everything a servant should do. And even more.
Merlin would give up his life for Arthur, had done on several occasions, and Arthur would do the same for him in a second; had done.
Suddenly, it was clear to Arthur, what he felt for Merlin was love. An impossible love, but love nonetheless.
Abruptly fear gripped Arthur's heart once again; what if Gaius was wrong? What if Gaius couldn't save him? What if he never got the chance to tell Merlin how he felt?
Arthur gripped Merlin's hand tighter; the warmth seeping into him, from Merlin steadied his frantic heartbeat.
Later, much later, Gaius announced that he was finished. "He needs rest; could you move him to his room?"
Arthur dropped Merlin's hand and lifted him from the table in a smooth motion being sure not to bump him and pull at the freshly sewn gash. Placing him carefully on the small cot Arthur frowned; this couldn't be comfortable.
"Gaius, will he be alright if I take him up to my chambers?" he asked quietly, his eyes not leaving Merlin's slack face.
"Yes, I would imagine so, so long as he isn't moved around too much." Gaius said smiling knowingly. "If there are any problems, send someone to get me."
Arthur nodded lifting Merlin again and taking him to his chambers, hating how limp Merlin felt in his arms.
Eventually, Arthur lowered Merlin onto the left side of his own large bed before settling down next to him on the right of his bed, tucking the covers over Merlin carefully.
"I'm sorry Merlin" Arthur whispered, stroking the mess of raven hair out of his eyes. "I'm supposed to protect you and still I let this happen. This is my fault" he released a short burst of a laugh "I know what you're thinking, I can hear it as though you were speaking back 'It's not your fault Arthur!'… right? So why does it feel like it is?
"I wasn't paying attention. I should have seen it coming, what's the use of me being trained to kill if I miss an ambush? It was such an obvious place. I should have been on guard. I shouldn't have taken you out with me. I shouldn't have put you in danger like that. I don't even really need you out on my hunting trips but I'm so selfish. I want you there. I want you everywhere.
"I know I'm ridiculously annoying with the whole thing, asking you to do every little thing I can possibly come up with but I have a bit of a confession to make. I kind of think of everything to keep you busy so you don't have time to really see or think of anyone other than me. I know I know! I'm a terrible person! I didn't even realise I was doing it until my little epiphany earlier. Oh yes, my epiphany I should probably tell you about that when you're conscious, though this way will probably prove easier… especially without you looking at me with that gorgeous face of yours.
"I wonder whether you've thought about all those times we've come close to stepping over that last line. The line I've secretly wanted to jump across for months. Have you thought about those times as much as I have? I doubt it, I've done very little else since that first time.
"I think that's when I first started thinking about you like that. I've always thought that you were oddly attractive, on paper you shouldn't be but by the gods there's just something about you. I don't even know what it is." Arthur paused, looking at Merlin, still out cold.
"I want you to wake up, I want you to tell me I'm a prat and that all of this is my fault… and I want you to tell me you feel the same about me. I hope you do, god you have no idea how much I hope you do but I'm nothing if not realistic. I know you kind of hate me, even if you don't think you do. You have to hate me a little bit for everything I make you do. I'd hate me a little. I can't really think of very much when you're looking at me with those wide eyes, I just sprout off things I know I should say. When you wake up, I'll tell you what I should have been telling you for months. I promise.
"Just, please, do wake up. I need to see those eyes of yours again."
Arthur settled himself down, burrowing further down into the bed so that he was now lying next to Merlin. Arthur placed his hand gently on Merlin's arm and let his eyes slip closed for a second. Just for a second.

***
"Arthur." a croaky voice broke through Arthur's sleepy haze. It took a moment for Arthur to place the voice calling to him, but as soon as he did, his eyes snapped open.
"Merlin! Oh thank the gods you're awake!"
"Yeah, seems so… what happened?" Merlin asked, his hand covering his fresh wound.
"You were hit by an arrow on our hunting trip yesterday." Arthur whispered, avoiding Merlin's eyes guiltily.
"Trust me." He laughed weakly, coughing a little. Arthur immediately jumped up and filled a cup of water for his servant. The action not lost on either of them.
"Drink up." Merlin nodded, emptying the cup in one long swig.
"Thanks"
Arthur nodded "How's your side?"
"Fine."
"Good… Okay, I promised myself I'd do something as soon as you wake up so, excuse me for just one second alright?"
It was Merlin's turn to nod, stopping abruptly as Arthur knelt down next to Merlin and closed his lips over Merlin's in a strong but impossibly sweet kiss. Lips dancing over one another as Merlin responded eagerly opening his mouth to allow Arthur entrance in direct response to his tongue sweeping over Merlin's lower lip.
Reaching up, and burying his hands in Arthur's hair, Merlin pulled Arthur closer leaning up to meet him barely feeling the pull of the stitches as he moaned into Arthur's mouth as Arthur's hands skimmed down his right side.
It was only when the call of oxygen outweighed the call for one another, did either pull away, breathless and grinning.
"I've wanted to do that for months." Arthur whispered as he rested his forehead against Merlin's.
"Me too"
"I love you."
Merlin smiled broadly "Was that your epiphany?"
"How do you know about that?"
"I heard every word Arthur. This wasn't your fault."
Arthur snorted "And I love you too."
Arthur smiled broadly before leaning down to press another kiss to Merlin's lips, feeling that this was what he had been waiting for, what had been missing and he was nothing if not determined to make up for lost time.

***

Well now… that's the longest one shot I've done in a while… not sure about the ending… what do you guys think? Thanks for reading! :D