Last one I'm afraid, but may have a sequel, when I get round to it.
The last time was, quite naturally, the happy ending.
Arthur let himself into the house, struggling a little with his briefcase and the box he was holding. Very carefully he got the box down and then his briefcase, before he shut the door and looked around. Lights, Merlin's voice and the smell of cooking told Arthur the action was in the kitchen. Walking down the hallway he went to find Merlin.
They were not living in the house that Arthur was developing. Gwaine was still working on that. Instead, when walking, and taking a short cut through the park, Merlin had paused, looking at a house on the corner of a quiet suburban street. It looked a little out of place, the way it was built, with arched leaded windows and surrounded by a high brick wall. But what caught Merlin's eye was the turret that seemed to be built on one corner, which left an odd circular space in the bedroom that it was attached to. They had taken that as their bedroom even though it was not the largest. What had also caught Merlin's eye was the forlorn looking 'For Sale' sign pinned to a crumbling stretch of wall.
He hadn't even waited until he saw Arthur later, Merlin had called him then and there, and that afternoon they had viewed the house. Arthur saw certain flaws with it, but let them go because he could see Merlin loved it, and Arthur had to admit it had a nice feeling about it, if he let his emotions have a say in the matter. They had gone back the next day, Gwaine in tow, so he could asses if there were any major problems. Arthur knew most of them as he saw them, but Gwaine was the expert.
On the third day Arthur negotiated a price based on the flaws that Gwaine had found, and was then employed to fix. Arthur however found himself conceding on the asking price more than he normally would, if he was doing it as a financial investment; because this was an emotional investment, and he wasn't about to lose out on it.
Two months later they were in it. Living in it. And very much so if you were Merlin, who was, currently causing chaos as he cooked, while talking on the phone to Gwen.
"I was hoping to plan the housewarming for next Friday. Arthur is threatening to get caterers, I threatened him with death," Merlin said, with his back to Arthur as he tried to tidy up one handed, knowing Arthur was home soon, and having no idea he was there and listening. "Well, actually I threatened him with no sex, but that seems to be one and the same for Arthur."
Arthur grinned and jumped on Merlin, wrapping an arm around his waist and pulling Merlin against him nibbled on the nape of his neck. Merlin yelped.
"Sorry Gwen, can't talk any more, my foot just landed in my mouth!"
Merlin wriggled as he threw the phone down on the side, narrowly missing a bowl of grated parmesan, and Arthur's hands squeezed his ribs.
"Hi, I didn't hear you come in. I need to turn that down!"
Arthur conceded and let Merlin reach over to turn the gas down where he was boiling pasta.
"Smells nice," Arthur said. "You're quite the domestic damsel."
"I like it," Merlin said, working while Arthur kept hold of him.
"So do I," Arthur said. It was nice watching Merlin, who had clearly never been truly comfortable in Arthur's rather sparse flat, bustle around the house that he could lay claim to. Arthur pulled the single red rose out of his pocket and brought it round to hand it to Merlin.
"Ooh," Merlin murmured appreciatively. "I thought you felt like a prat buying me flowers."
"I don't when I'm bringing them home to you," Arthur said, releasing Merlin and turning him round to face him. "Plus that's to soften you up a little bit."
Merlin regarded the flower debating if they had a suitable vase to put it in, and said. "Not something you often want to do to me."
"Oi!" Arthur snapped. Merlin looked up and grinned. Then Arthur added, "And okay, no caterers for the party. Have you invited the neighbours?"
"Some of them, the ones that don't stare at us like we have two heads."
"Okay," Arthur nodded. The neighbourhood had been rather surprised by the two of them moving in, and the local girls had been stalking Arthur, also being the ones who had recognised him as a Pendragon. Merlin had commented that he expected them to rush up as some point and ask for his autograph. Arthur had laughed himself silly.
"So, why are you softening me up?" Merlin asked.
"Something Gwaine found," Arthur said, pulling Merlin from the kitchen, glancing at the steaming pans for a moment. "Is that stuff all right?"
"Yeah, but it will be ready in about fifteen minutes."
"Enough time then," Arthur said.
"Not if you want to get a shower."
"I'll do that later, with you."
Merlin grinned and let himself be pulled into the hallway and Arthur let go of his hand to pick up the box. Merlin frowned as Arthur held it, balancing it as he started to open it.
"Gwaine was clearing out the garage at the property when he came across it."
"Aawww," Merlin said as he looked into the box and met a pair of angry yellow eyes. The ginger tabby-patterned fur was fluffed out but it didn't make the tiny kitten look any bigger as it hissed ferociously.
"The vet says it's okay, a little malnourished but grown up enough to eat solid food. I didn't know what else to do with it but you know… can we keep it?"
"It's so sweet!" Merlin said, putting his hand in to pick it up. He got clawed and bit for his trouble but he got the tiny little animal out of the box and cradled it in his hands, where it settled, stopping the attack after its initial scare. It had to be a bit scared, being in a box, Merlin mused.
"She," Arthur said.
"She's so sweet. You want to keep it?"
"Well, cats are independent so you know it's just food, water and litter tray."
The cat started to purr, lying on her back as Merlin tickled her belly and rubbed under her chin. Her claws started to flex, grabbing hold of him and she closed her eyes in delight.
"We'll have to think of a name, something catty."
"Morgana?" Arthur suggested. Merlin paused stroking long enough to slap Arthur on the arm.
"Yeah, your right, that might be considered animal cruelty," Arthur said, getting another slap. The little kitten opened her eyes and hissed, stopping when Merlin went back to rubbing her chin. Arthur went for her belly and the purring seemed to up in volume.
"We'll think about it. Don't we need to get her all that stuff, food and bowls and a collar and other things?"
Then Merlin grinned as he looked at Arthur's sheepish expression.
"It's all in the car," he said.
Merlin lay in bed, dozing a little, but still on the point of wakefulness. Opening his eyes he turned his head and looked at Arthur, sprawled in the bed next to him, sleeping soundly, one arm flung around Merlin, holding him loosely. Merlin carefully turned on his side so he could look at Arthur as he slept.
Over in the corner, in the odd shaped section of room the cat slept, in the fluffy basket Arthur had bought her. Both of them had said she should stay in the kitchen, but the now newly named Winnie (because Merlin idly stated some parts of her fur looked the same colour as Winnie-the-Pooh's) had ended up with them. Neither of them had wanted to leave her down there, after she had followed them around all night, and they spent some time teasing each other about who was the most soft-hearted.
Merlin felt the usual odd quiver that seemed to run through him every time he looked at Arthur. It was something to do with love, a connection that Merlin could hardly believe, that he could look at Arthur and know that Arthur was his. What surprised Merlin even more was the reciprocation of such a feeling.
He tensed as Arthur's arm tightened around his waist and his voice announced.
"I thought that kind of behaviour was creepy and stalker-ish," Arthur drawled. He tugged Merlin across the bed, rolling over as he did so. Arthur lay on his back and pulled Merlin on top of him. Merlin obligingly straddled him and looked down at Arthur.
"Not any more I don't think," Merlin said. "I was just considering how we got to this point."
He sniggered as Arthur shifted his hips, indicating the point that Merlin might be referring to.
"You know what I mean," Merlin said, settling on Arthur, Arthur's hands around his waist keeping him steady. "I didn't even want to go to that party you know, when we met. Having to spend an evening avoiding that friends of Cain's who always used to grope me."
Merlin felt Arthur's hands tighten on him and Arthur's arms wrapped around his waist protectively.
"Don't mind me for asking but what did Cain think about that?"
"Never batted an eyelid, even the time he walked into the kitchen to find the creep with his hand between my legs."
"And he had the bloody cheek to get the hump about me flirting with you," Arthur said, holding Merlin gently and trying not to feel utterly rattled by it.
"I think that was why he wanted me to go, he did comment that 'that fucking twat Arthur Pendragon' was going to be there."
"So, he was what, trying to show you off and then got the hump when I noticed you?"
"I think that was more me noticing back. Plus I wasn't playing it as he wanted it," Merlin mused. "I think I was supposed to flirt back and then he could have a go at you."
"Don't tell me, that was why you were carefully avoiding me."
Merlin shrugged. "I didn't think you deserved to get dragged into that. Even though you did in the end."
"That was the best timed cigarette I have ever had," Arthur said. Merlin leant down and kissed him briefly.
"It was why I left him, in the end, finally, because of you."
"I am glad to be of service, as a knight should be," Arthur said. He moved on the bed, lifting Merlin and rolling over so he could be on top. Merlin relaxed underneath him, wrapping his arms around Arthur's neck as Arthur pressed his lips on Merlin's. They kissed for a long moment breaking apart at a scuffling sound. Both of them turned as, in the dim light, they saw a little head appear over the side of the bed and Winnie determinedly clawed her way up onto the bed, she purred loudly and pawed at the sheets.
"Cute," Arthur said before turning his attention back to Merlin, nuzzling into his neck.
"Arthur, no! Not in front of the cat!"
Arthur laughed. "She's a cat Merlin, she doesn't care what we are doing."
Winnie was quite happy exploring the pillow, clawing the material and sniffing the dip where Arthur's head had been minutes ago. She seemed happy with it, turning round in a tight circle twice, fluffy tail up in the air, before she curled up and politely proved Arthur's point by putting her back to them. She started to purr in contentment.
"See," Arthur said going back to nuzzling, feeling Merlin squirm underneath him.
"Well, you'll have to be careful not to squash her," Merlin said, jumping as Arthur nipped him. He pulled back a little, but his breath was still warm on Merlin's neck.
"Are you saying I'm fat?"
"No," Merlin said brightly. "Although you did eat a phenomenal amount of pasta tonight."
Then he yelped at Arthur tickled him. Winnie lifted her head, looked at them and then turned away, putting her head back down on her paws. Merlin wriggled, trying to get away but he didn't put up that much of a fight. Arthur grabbed Merlin's wrists in one hand and pinned them down over his head. Merlin panted for breath.
"Take that back!" Arthur said.
"I think the pasta is long gone Arthur," Merlin told him.
Arthur went nose to nose with Merlin. "I am not fat!"
"Shame you're not," Merlin said. "I was going to suggest some vigorous exercise."
"Oh really," Arthur drawled. "Like what?"
Merlin tried to extract his hands from Arthur's grip, which Arthur didn't let him do, and he stayed out of Merlin's reach so they couldn't kiss. With a huff Merlin wriggled a little and wrapped his legs around Arthur's waist, squeezing him.
"Oh God!" Arthur groaned and he kissed Merlin with vigour. Arthur released his grip on Merlin's wrists and they both started to wrap what they could around each other, panting as they grappled.
On the other side of the bed the little kitten felt the bed shifting underneath her and her ears swivelled as she listened to the pants, gasps and murmured endearments. None of it disturbed her from the nice warm, safe little place she found herself in. Instead she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.
An hour or so later, Arthur and Merlin, wrapped tightly together, did exactly the same thing.