Fic: One year, eight months and thirteen days. Chapter Three.
Rating: 12 (PG-13) for now
Other characters in this chapter: Sophia
Summary: Arthur hasn't seen Merlin since he left, one year, eight months and thirteen days ago.
A/N: Because I love Merther AUs and because this fandom needs more mpreg like woah.
A few people have asked if this is set in a universe where mpreg is normal, the answer is yes it is. Sorry for any confusion!
Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three
Merlin searches Arthur’s face for any emotion other than shock, but the blonde seems incapable of processing the information. A cold wind begins to blow, creeping down the back of Merlin’s neck, seeping through his jumper and clawing into his spine; it tangles itself with the turmoil in his stomach like barbed wire cutting though his flesh.
And then; something glorious happens. The clouds part and Arthur’s voice shines through.
“What is his name?” The blonde whispers and Merlin feels a tear that has been threatening to fall cascade down his cheek.
“Noah, his name is Noah. I named him after my Dad.” He replies in a whisper, and feels Arthur increase the pressure on Merlin’s fingers in the barest of squeezes.
Arthur tries valiantly to halt the torrent of questions racing through his mind, eventually grasping onto one and clinging to its thread for dear life.
He rolls his son’s name through his mind; Noah... I’ve never known a Noah, is Merlin Jewish? I didn’t know Merlin was Jewish, and even if he isn’t I like the name, I really do, Noah, my Noah…
“Noah.” He tests it on his tongue. “I like it.”
Merlin offers him a rare smile.
“Can I see him?”
Merlin blinks, a little fazed by the control that Arthur seems to exert over his emotions. He suspects that if this were the other way around, he’d be hyperventilating by now.
Not knowing quite how to articulate this, Merlin begins with: “Yes; of course, but...”
Arthur frowns at the hesitation.
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re taking this rather well. Better than I expected.”
The blonde gives a little laugh at that. “I think I’m still in shock to be honest. Although now that I think about it, Merlin, I’m... I’m a wealthy man, and my father would never forgive me if I didn’t ask...”
“Am I sure he’s yours?”
Merlin recognises that he could feel insulted, but strangely, he doesn’t. It’s a fair question. They did only know each other for two days.
“Aside from the obvious resemblance - I think the only thing he got from me where my ears, poor mite - I wasn’t- I mean, there was no one else around that time; no one but you.” He stops himself before he begins to babble uncontrollably.
Arthur nods stoically, but Merlin still senses uncertainty under that mask of control, so he continues; “I’ve heard they take a while, but I’d consent to one of those DNA testing things, if it would put your mind at ease.”
Arthur can’t hold back a relieved sigh; he’d been afraid that broaching the subject would result in a catastrophe. But Merlin, of course, is more level-headed than he gave him credit for. He’s always underestimating him; he really shouldn’t.
But Arthur has absolutely no idea how Merlin has managed not to cripple under the weight of his responsibilities, and the grief he must still be battling… how someone who looks so fragile and small can be so strong.
He nods again, not entirely sure what to say, but then an idea hits him.
“Actually, Merlin… I have a friend who owes me a favour. A doctor. We could get it sorted quickly, I think. Can I call her?”
He waits for a confirmation nod before reaching for his ever-present mobile. He can’t deny feeling of loss that creeps up on him when their tangled hands separate.
Later that day
Arthur wipes the sweating palms of his hands on a personalised handkerchief his sister bought him as he paces the room. His stomach rages tempestuously and his nerves spark with electricity, a thousand insecurities frothing and bubbling away under the surface of his skin.
He’s in one of Sophia’s private offices; one advantage of being rich is that you get more privacy. Still, it does nothing to quench his fears. What if Merlin was wrong? What if Noah isn’t his; will Merlin just disappear out of Arthur’s life, again? God, no, anything but that.
Arthur surprises himself by the fierce desire that roars in his chest; he wants to be Noah’s father, even if he isn’t, biologically. He hasn’t even met this child yet, but he’s craved Merlin, more than anything, for one year, eight months and fifteen days. Noah is a part of that deal now.
It’s a clause that Arthur doesn’t mind accepting; not at all.
Merlin steps out of the elevator and swallows thickly. He’s never been anywhere as elegant as this; it’s difficult to think of the plush carpets and expensive furnishings as belonging to a medical establishment.
The reception is empty aside from one young man, who smiles at them, opening his mouth to say something. He doesn’t get the chance, because Noah leans forwards in Merlin’s arms, happily squeaking; “Flow-er!” and pointing at a bouquet.
“Flowers.” Merlin corrects automatically, and the little boy’s forehead crinkles in effort as he tries again.
“That’s right! Aren’t you clever?” Merlin chimes, lapsing into parent mode and forgetting his apprehension for a moment. It comes back full force as the receptionist asks; “Merlin Emrys?”
At his tentative nod, the man directs him to a room at the end of the corridor.
Arthur turns to face the feeble knock on the door; and there is Merlin, looking washed-out and pallid against the rich colours of Sophie’s domain. Balanced on his hip is an inquisitive baby boy, with big blue eyes and golden hair, and Arthur thinks mine. This mother and baby are mine.
Sophia is hot on his heels; Merlin has barely croaked out a greeting before she saunters in, heels clicking on the solid wood floor. She’s all business and that’s what Arthur likes about her. She gets the job done; with a grace that puts even Merlin at ease.
She plucks a hair from Arthur’s head and swabs his mouth with a cotton bud, before doing the same to Noah, whose only response is to blink up at his mother in surprise. Merlin tells the infant that he’s brave and will get a special treat for being so good.
Arthur watches the exchange and wants to reach out and embrace them both, to hold the baby that is probably his, and to kiss Merlin’s sweet lips, to keep them safe and warm and loved.
He stays seated on one of Sophia's expensive chairs and says nothing.
Noah eyes Arthur with curiosity as Merlin tries to focus on what the doctor – Sophia something – is saying to him. She explains that the length it takes for an NHS paternity test is so long because of the backlog; the actual test itself only takes a few hours and she offers to give them the results via text. They both agree that this is a good idea and she leaves them for patient.
Merlin shuffles awkwardly, jiggling Noah on his hip as he avoids Arthur’s gaze. When he looks up the older man is watching him; Merlin’s gaze is trapped by those captivating cerulean orbs.
Before he can think through the words, he has asked; “Would you like to come to the park with us?” He bites down on his bottom lip, silently begging for a positive response.
“Yes. Yes; I’d like that.” Arthur grabs onto the opportunity, feeling foolish for not asking himself.
“Noah likes the park; don’t you sweetheart?” Merlin evades his gaze, instead looking down at their baby with unabashed pride as Noah squeals; “Ducks!”
Arthur finally gets his leg muscles under his command, crossing the room in three powerful strides.
“I like feeding the ducks, too.” He tells Noah.
The baby studies him for a moment, before giving Arthur a blinding smile that he recognises as his own.
A/N: Thank you to all my lovely readers, your comments have been fantastic. I hope you like this chapter too :)