In the early sixties, Merlin is an architect fresh out of college, heavily influenced by the prairie school movement and still riding this wave of new professional inspiration. When he and Arthur meet for the first time in this life, Merlin is in charge of designing the new Wales offices of Pendragon & Pendragon. It’s his biggest project to date and he can barely believe he managed to swing it but he’s so full of infectious enthusiasm and new ideas that when Arthur stops by on a rainy Thursday to oversee the goings-on and what Merlin has planned, he ends up getting a bit sucked into it and against his better judgement invites Merlin to dinner with him to discuss ideas, unable to put his finger on exactly what it is that makes this spotty, clumsy architect so fascinating.
It’s that infectious enthusiasm that Arthur both envies and adores. It’s been almost six years since that day and now they live together in Wales where Merlin works at a firm with Lancelot and Gwaine. Business has never been better for P&P, and even when Arthur is working late, he loves the feeling of having accomplished something worthwhile too much to really mind. They’re in a flat now, one that Merlin loved for its view of the city and Arthur loved for the way Merlin would press his face to the glass of the window in the mornings, cup of coffee in his hand and a faraway look in his eye, dreaming up new buildings in the skyline. They’re sitting at the table together one morning, discussing their day, when Merlin stops Arthur mid-sentence with a finger to his lip, going to retrieve his briefcase from where he left it in the hallway. Shuffling through the papers with a small frown on his face, he finally pulls out some prints and sets them on the table, over Arthur’s paper.
“I don’t know if this is too early, or too late, but I was bored. And I thought— well, it’s a big investment, bigger than a flat, but I thought, maybe, you’d—”
Arthur catches his drift then and kisses him over the kitchen table. It’s not a marriage proposal, couldn’t be, but to Arthur it’s good as gold. The house they’d build together, every room a different paragraph in a loveletter— Merlin’s never been good with words, but this is all he needs to say.
Three years later, they are laughing together on the lawn of their new home. Before Merlin can object, Arthur scoops him up bridal style and carries him over the threshold.