Seven months later

Arthur released Merlin's hand as they entered Uther's house, but they stayed close together as they crossed the hallway, entering the huge living room and moving through the crowded space. He felt Merlin's hand at the small of his back once or twice – a reassuring pressure as they squeezed through the throng of people.

Arthur spotted his father, chatting to the guests of honour and moved towards them with a smile on his face and Merlin at his side.

"Arthur, Buona sera!" An attractive woman in the group caught sight of Arthur and moved forward to hug him, kissing him enthusiastically on both cheeks.

"Buona sera, Elena," Arthur smiled, returning her kisses smoothly.

Arthur extracted himself eventually and moved to greet Roberto Kilgari, who was beaming next to his wife. "Good to see you again, Roberto." Arthur slapped him on the back as they embraced warmly.

He stepped back and put his hand on Merlin's shoulder and drew him forwards. "Allow me to introduce my partner, Merlin Emrys. Merlin – Roberto and Elena Kilgari."

Introducing Merlin as his partner still gave Arthur a secret thrill. He wondered whether he would ever get used to the idea that this beautiful man beside him belonged to him. He grinned with pride as Merlin greeted the Kilgaris easily, charming them with his smile and easy manner.

His father welcomed them with a nod and a smile, and Arthur was filled with gratitude for his acceptance of Merlin as a permanent fixture in Arthur's life.

It hadn't been easy when Arthur first decided to break the news of their relationship to his father. Uther had been disbelieving and dismissive initially, trying to write it off as a phase. He had resented Merlin, viewing him as a catalyst in what he saw as his son's sudden conversion to homosexuality. But eventually he had realised that Arthur was serious, and began to see that his son's relationship with Merlin was making him happy in a way that he had never been before. Slowly but surely Uther had come around, even apologising eventually for his initial reactions.

Coming out to others had been a piece of cake in comparison. Some people in the office were shocked, others were amused, many didn't even seem surprised. But the majority were accepting and supportive.

Hunith was over the moon when Merlin told her that he and Arthur were together. And when they had gone back to visit Ealdor at Christmas, she'd welcomed them both with open arms, telling them once again how happy she was for them.

As the evening progressed, Arthur circulated, chatting politely, making small-talk. But he was constantly aware of Merlin, whether he was close by or on the opposite side of the room. Arthur felt anchored to him in some indefinable way and every time he caught Merlin's eye he had to suppress a huge smile of happiness that threatened to paint its way across his face.

At the end of the evening they left together, as they always did now. Merlin had given up the lease on his flat and moved in with Arthur two months ago.

They weren't exactly compatible in their habits. Merlin was prone to leaving a trail of mess behind him, whereas Arthur was tidy to the point of being obsessive. Merlin was a night owl and a grumpy arse in the morning; Arthur preferred early nights, but was up with the lark – usually out jogging and back, showered and breakfasted before Merlin had even emerged from under the duvet. They bickered over the TV remote and mocked each other's taste in music; Merlin's eclectic, Arthur's rather dull (according to Merlin anyway). But Arthur had never been happier. Any rows they had were usually resolved in bed with spectacular fucking and lengthy cuddling afterwards. And for the first time in his life Arthur knew beyond doubt, that somebody loved him – loved him deeply and passionately – just for being exactly the person that he was.

It was raining outside in the London street. They walked to the corner and stood, waiting for an empty taxi to hail. Arthur turned to Merlin who grinned at him, his hair curling wet on his forehead and dripping into his eyes.

"Come here, you." Arthur pulled Merlin close and wrapped his arms around him, sheltering him as much as he could from the weather.

Merlin's cool wet lips parted against his own and their warm breath mingled. They kissed, long and deep, leaning into each other's touch as the rain fell around them and droplets trickled down the backs of their necks. Several taxis sailed by as they clung to each other, oblivious. There was no rush to get home. In Merlin's arms, Arthur felt as though he was already there.

THE END


A/N: Please leave me some feedback, I hope you enjoyed the story.
If you liked it, check out my other fics. I write for Harry Potter and Twilight as well as Merlin.