Sneaking into Disneyland Paris had been a rather brilliant plan, in Merlin's humble opinion.
(It helped matters that his old mate Percival owed him a tremendous favor, and those favors owed by the head of the security unit were certainly worth using.)
Weather had been mildly favorable, once inside the big park.
Morgana had dragged Leon along, insisting she needed more quality time with her eight-month-long fiancé since their working hours had gotten bodged: Leon as a newly recognized marketing manager under the thumb of Uther Pendragon's global company and Morgana as a well-hated satire columnist.
"Better to be infamous and honest with the public, love," she would trill into Merlin's ear, "than worshiped as a spineless liar."
There had been some truth in what Morgana said. Besides, Merlin thought her publications were hilarious. The prime minister Annis and Uther scribbled together, with flame-lit torches in one hand and then three-pronged pitchforks in another, jabbing them at each other. The cartoonish ears on Uther and word bubbles with a donkey's braying were a nice touch.
"Tell me why I agreed to this," Arthur deadpanned, nearly being collided into by an unsupervised little boy wearing a Daisy Duck shirt.
A Saturday afternoon in a popular entertainment attraction meant over-crowding. Morgana had given him a long, thoughtful look once she was done gazing at Sleeping Beauty's castle in the distance. Her apple-red fingernails buried into the skin on her forearms. "Because, dear brother, it is my birthday… surely you know how to read a calendar?" she said, primly.
"That means she gets to do what she wants," Merlin supplied helpfully, and yelped when Arthur's hand whipped out to smack the back of his head. Rude.
(But violently rude and emotionally stilted was part of Arthur's charm. At least when directed to Merlin.)
Arthur's eyebrows bunched.
"You're twenty-five years old, Morgana," he insisted, voice rumbling with irritation. "You're not a child anymore. Even then you wouldn't have chosen to spend it here." For just a moment, Merlin thought he was mistaken in witnessing a saddened emotion flit over Morgana's expression.
She snorted lightly, turning away. Fragments of light caught in the magnificent, colourful gems sewn and threaded into her dark, glossy hair.
"… Considering the tyrant we call our biological father, maybe it was time we both learn what it feels like to be children."
A hot sliver of mortified, second-hand embarrassment went up Merlin's spine as Arthur outwardly blanched and Leon winced in silence. "Oi!" he shouted to them, gesturing a bit frantically to a spinning rack of disposable, ridiculously priced cameras. "Gift shop!" As if by magic—Disney magic—the rest of his group perked up.
"The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror" and "Rock n' Roller Coaster" jolted and jerked the nerves, and afterwards, Merlin needed to settle down. Get his sense of balance back.
Adventureland turned out to be a favorite, not just for him but especially for one particular member of the Pendragon clan.
On board of Captain Hook's ship, the face-character of the captain himself removed his hat and decided to place it on Morgana's head, clapping his padded, felt hand and hook together in invisible applause. She mock-bowed, holding onto the brim of the feathered hat to keep it on her head, barely able to hide her glee.
With his brand-new camera, Merlin clicked a photo of her arm-in-arm with Captain Hook and a sequin-glittering, human-sized Tinkerbell.
Leon shrugged, eyeing Arthur, whose features twisted with exasperation. He, finally looking amused when Merlin clicked a new photo of Arthur "pouting" with his arms crossed.
The weather continued being nearly perfect as more tourists, and more rowdy children, milled about.
Even stuffy Leon had gotten into the spirit, lifting Morgana by the waist in one instance and twirling her on Main Street, chuckling at her gasping squeals. Determined not to miss a single happy moment of their trip, Merlin raised his camera and angled himself to get several, blurry shots. He wouldn't discover their blurriness until later, of course.
Arthur, however, was not so easily satisfied. That much Merlin see—though Arthur smiled perfunctorily, and teased his half-sister.
"La Tanière du Dragon" seemed to frighten the living daylights out of Arthur.
Not that anyone could have guessed that.
Morgana and Leon decided to explore "Alice's Curious Labyrinth"—or likely a nice hiding area to snog for an hour—while they had lunch and promised to meet the others at the giant tea cups. Merlin's shoulder and bicep tingled with phantom warmth—each time Arthur's fingers brushed against his jumper in the semi-dark.
(Not that Arthur would admit to being frightened—of robotic, growling dragons or heights. Not even in two thousand years.)
"Did you trip again?" Merlin asked, head lowered and grinning when those same, large fingers tugged at him. "What was that? The fourth time?"
Arthur immediately let go of his elbow, baring his teeth. He shoved a finger warningly into Merlin's face.
"If you don't shut it—"
"Don't get fussy with me, you great prat. I'm just concerned for your safety." Merlin beamed, not doing a very good job of appearing intimidated. He got ahead of the straggling tourists, leaving Arthur hissing his name repeatedly, waiting until both men were alone before spotting a crossing bridge. Naturally, it needed to be crossed.
Merlin raced across it, feet pounding and creaking the bridge. He waved to the other man from the middle of it as Arthur cautiously approached— "Leg it!"
"Oh hell," Arthur whispered, gripping onto the steel railing, staring at the blue and green and violet-hued fogginess below.
"What are you waiting for?"
"For you to stop arsing around, you idiot!" he snapped, their voices beginning to echo. "The lot went that way!" Arthur pointed furiously, back towards the right end of the cavern.
"So?" Merlin laughed. "The view is fantastic from this end, c'mon!"
At the following, terse silence, Merlin's face illuminated by the pale green light softened. "You can trust me, Arthur," he said, extending out an open hand. "I wouldn't let you fall."
"No… " Arthur's chest heaved out a loud breath. "You need to come back. It's not safe."
Wait, wait. Merlin blinked, frowning, his hand lowering. He really was frightened. But it wasn't for Arthur himself this time.
Another blossom of heat—different from earlier, not brought on by embarrassment—filled him, astonished.
"Merlin," came out more urgently.
His lips parted. "Right, s'rry," Merlin said quietly, slowly making his way back to the main cavern floor.
Arthur's hand, sweaty and warm, grasped quickly around his. Their fingers slotted together.
"… Idiot," Arthur murmured, too low to show fondness, too nervous to be casual.
And it left all the air in Merlin's lungs to push out.
Leon tipped his head. "I admire your courage, Arthur," he said, grimly.
Morgana preened under the attention, tweaking one of the Mickey Mouse ears of Arthur's vinyl hat. Well, vinyl ears and a little, blue sorcerer's hat. "Doesn't he look lovely? I picked them out myself," she said, combing away Arthur's blond bangs from his forehead as he wrinkled his nose. "Merlin, tell Arthur how lovely he looks."
Merlin pretended to be fiddling with his disposable camera, for the sake of his unexplained bodily flush. "Hmm?"
Arthur sighed, but didn't toss away the Mickey hat like he must have intended.
"You live to humiliate me, baby sister."
Morgana retorted, playfully nudging his leg with one of her red, manicured nails, "Isn't that what baby sisters do to their older brothers?" A fleeting smile—truly lovely, Merlin thought—crossed over Arthur's sun-gold face as he nudged her back on the outdoor sitting bench, his shoulder pressing against hers comfortably.
They were ridiculously adorable.
Merlin cackled to himself, aiming and pressing down the flash button. Lousy circumstances that there wasn't a silent option.
"… WHAT are you doing?"
At Arthur's glare, he simpered.
"Uhm… commemorating the occasion?"
"Oh, you just love spoiling everything, don't you, Arthur?" Morgana patted the bench, hooking an arm around Arthur's. "Merlin, give your camera to Leon and come join us for a photo." He brightened, jumping onto his feet and pausing when a smiling, cunning Morgana forced a grumpy Arthur to the side, leaving the only available space next to Arthur.
Merlin awkwardly hunched down with them, hands gripping his thighs. "On three," Leon advised, poised with Merlin's camera.
Morgana curled her legs up, leaning into Arthur and pushing her lips to an exaggerated, gentle kiss on Arthur's cheek.
There it was again. The air in Merlin's lungs trickling out of him. He stared dreamily at Arthur's relaxing profile.
Gold facial hairs scraped roughly against Merlin's lips. Arthur's scent— sweet like artificial strawberry from his lunch milkshake, and the tinge of perspiration—hit Merlin's nostrils. He reeled back, slightly wide-eyed as a sharp realization gnawed him. He kissed Arthur. And Arthur was inches away, not gobsmacked like Merlin, but pleasantly wonderstruck.
"Blimey, Merlin," Leon spoke up, running his fingers over his beard in interested contemplation. "Didn't know you had it in you."
"Arthur, I think you broke the poor lad," Morgana scolded, grinning again as she watched Merlin's cheeks darken pink.
"See if I ever do you a favor again, Morgana," he muttered, but grinning along with her as Arthur huffed between them, his own cheeks burning.
BBC Merlin is not mine. This was my entry to camelot_drabble's 2013 Holiday Exchange! It's fluffy and dorky and I hope you all enjoy. Comments will be hugged upon sight.
"if there's pairings involved Merlin/Arthur and Leon/Morgana. Merlin taking a sneaky picture of Arthur and Morgana being all sibling-y together, because to Merlin they're most cutest pair of siblings ever"