The large, lushly decorated garden is alit with colour; both potted and hung in a cascade of streamers and soaring balloons.
Laughter fills the air like song, a rhythmic chorus dancing around the clearing as feet stomp, and bodies swing.
The man standing at the edge of the wooden dance floor smiles, as he watches loved ones in joyous celebration of his Irish heritage. It is a ceili dance.
In particular, one figure catches his eye. Presently being swung in a tight circle, his husband, a fine specimen of a man he proudly thinks, is trying to escape Aunt Mabel. Chuckling softly, he wonders if Arthur is going to make it through the dance without throwing up.
You would think by his expression that he has been set loose into the void- but Arthur is soon re-captured, to his horror. His eyes roll and Merlin's dance. Despite his amusement, Merlin sympathises as he can see the beginnings of a familiar green tinge around those noble features. Several family outings to the fairground have pointed to a weak stomach, no matter how much Arthur blames his cooking.
Snorting as he recalls the arched brows and utter certainty behind these slanders Merlin wonders whom his haughty partner can manage to blame today. After all, Arthur has prepared this scrumptious feast laid out on several lined tables. A barbeque of mixed delights, crisp, colourful salads and pitchers of freshly squeezed homemade pink grapefruit juice all capturing his senses. There are potent beverages such as wine and cans of beer but Merlin prefers the cool tang of grapefruit to refresh his palate; Arthur, who knows his preferences probably better than his own, has made it with love.
He drank it on their first date and on their second; Arthur presented him with a bottle of pink grapefruit juice stoppered with a cork. Uncharacteristic stuttering and a similarly pink face had evidenced the softer, insecure side of a man Merlin had doubted capable of such behaviour.
First impressions of an extremely masculine, slightly arrogant man remained true until this day but every day small tender gestures have coloured and shaped that opinion until he now believes himself the luckiest man in the world.
"Daddy! Daddy!" he hears and watches fondly as a boy, no higher than his knees, toddles over, trying to run and landing on his cushioned behind more often than not. A blue and white cuddly unicorn-almost as big as its owner-dangles from a grubby fist; Growler did not seem an appropriate name at first, but the way the toy is launched at people who upset his son it is rather apt after all. His namesake is a famous conqueror, which makes it even more fitting. Merlin smiles and a gush of paternal protectiveness sends shivers through him as he leans down to collect the child plus the plushy in his arms.
A shock of blonde hair flops over bright blue eyes. He is the spitting image of his father and Merlin impulsively presses a kiss to the sun kissed cheeks one after another.
"No France daddy," the boy squeals, but presses closer and nestles his face in his father's neck.
Merlin laughs at his son's antics. "No Will, we aren't at Grandpa's but my special boy deserves two kisses for being so well behaved."
"Gra-pa said I had to be a proper little Pendragon," Will whisper solemnly. "Cos this party is important and so are my daddies."
Most people speak in hushed tones when mentioning Uther Pendragon, the patriarch of the infamous family. That usually excludes the man's grandson though Merlin muses as he looks down at the mop of blonde curls. Perhaps the old man is beginning to respect their union as well as love their son.
"Happy anniversary," is husked by his left ear, making him jump. Will giggles madly and reaches for his papa.
Arthur grins at his son and gathers him into a bear hug but then turns to wrap an arm around his husband who has shared his life these past two years. He'd practically given up on life after Gwen died, despite the presence of his baby son. Tightening his arms, he can't believe those feelings now but Merlin has since soothed by explaining he was in shock, it wasn't lack of love for his son – no, their son now and always.
Merlin has breathed new life into all compartments of his life until he is the only part, which matters, along with Will.
Will, who considers himself the 'bee's knees' for having two dads. (He’s overheard Gaius, the family G.P., laughing as he calls Will this for allowing him to fix the many scrapes he's got into.) That's more dads than Mordred, Lance and Morgie!
He and Merlin have shown their son pictures of his mother and he has had told stories of her gentleness but also sunny, fun nature.
Oh, he is a very lucky man is Arthur Pendragon.
Surprisingly his father agrees.
Uther Pendragon is seated on an iron chair under willowy trees observing the two men and his grandson.
He can't take his eyes away and he wishes that Ygraine were here to see their love that...glows.
He isn't usually stuck for words but in their case, the emotion is tangible and makes him swallow and almost gasp. People automatically move back as if pushed by an invisible force.
The three of them glow and it makes an old man happier than he will ever admit.
Two bodies fight for supremacy.
The slightly taller, dark haired man laughs and his partner huffs in annoyance as he is pressed back into their bedroom wall.
Upper torsos bare, rubbing and intoxicating in the extreme.
Their hands cling to muscled shoulders and press, smoothing over hair-roughened chest.
"Daddy! Papa!" cries Will from the door, hands balled into fists, which scrub tiredly at half-lidded eyes. Somehow, they retain their grip on 'Growler' the unicorn.
Shared looks of resigned amusement swiftly become calculated grins, which then become an attack of two tickle monsters. Giggling and screams of "...et me go!", the battering of 'Growler' over Merlin's head and Arthur's chest become the soft snores of a tired wee boy who is tucked snugly between his daddies.
Two satisfied smiles become a peck on the lips over said small boy with a promise of later.
Slash. M/A. Character death (past/main character but not M/A)
Thanks socalrose for beta (hugs)
Thanks socalrose for beta (hugs)