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Patience And Persistence

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It was Merlin's first day at Avalon Academy, and he'd been looking forward to it all summer. He walked into his dorm room and was glad to see that the bed next to the window was still unclaimed for. He quickly threw his bags over the bed and opened the window.

There were two other beds in the room, and it seemed that the other blokes had already begun decorating their corners with posters of football players and setting up their bookshelves. They weren't lying when Merlin was told that everyone took their schooling just as seriously as the sports. He saw a leaflet for rugby try-outs the next day and quickly jotted the information down. He'd be trying out for sure!

He turned to his suitcase and grabbed a towel. He was exhausted from the long journey and wanted to take a shower before he met his roommates. He didn't want them to know that he was the only one who probably didn't get dropped off by a parent in a fancy car. He'd taken the train from Ealdor to Camelot, and then a coach to Avalon Academy. His mother couldn't afford to take the time off to give him a ride. She was too busy working in order to pay for his books.

Merlin remembered how proud she had been when he received the letter in the mail that he'd been accepted to Avalon. Merlin had studied night and day for his exams and his mum had worked extra, picking up the night shifts in the hospital just so Merlin wouldn't have to work.

The shower water was hot. Hotter than Merlin was used to. Normally, he'd have to wait and run the water for a few minutes before it would get warm enough to be stepped in. This was nothing short of a luxury for him. He considered having a wank in the shower since it's been ages since he did that. The water at his mum's flat is usually only warm for ten minutes before the temperature would drop. He'd saved his wanking to the odd hours of the night, after his mum had left for work and he was sure no one else was going to come by the flat.

Right when Merlin was enjoying the warm water, and his cock was half hard in his hand, Merlin heard noises through the door. It seemed that his roommates were back. There goes that idea, he thought to himself and continued with the washing, forgoing his pleasure for the moment.

Five minutes later, Merlin met the most obnoxious and arrogant prat in the history of prats, Arthur Pendragon.

Merlin walked out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist when he saw a blond bloke sitting on his bed, going through his bag.

"Excuse me, that belongs to me," Merlin said, firmly, yet politely.

"Don't worry, I wasn't going to steal it," the bloke responded.

"I didn't say you were." Merlin raised an eyebrow and walked over to his bed. "I'm just saying you should be a bit courteous, mate."

"I'm not your mate," the blond scoffed, getting off Merlin's bed and threw Merlin's shirt at him.

"That much is obvious," Merlin huffed under his breath and turned away from the group. He hoped to God that that annoying, self-centred prick was not his roommate.

"Are you Merlin?"

Merlin turned towards the group again after he'd put on a t-shirt, but still had a towel wrapped around his waist. He nodded.

"I'm Gwaine, I've got this bed over here," the other bloke with black hair said. He seemed a lot more considerate that the blond, whose eyes were still on Merlin.

Merlin shook Gwaine's hand and turned to scowl at the blond. "Are you the other occupant of this room?" he asked.

"Right," the blond answered shaking his head, as though what Merlin had said was utterly outlandish.

"No, this is Arthur," Gwaine said. "He doesn't share."

Merlin nodded and turned again. He found a pair of shorts from his suitcase and quickly put them on. He grabbed the towel off his waist and began to rub his head with the other side of it. "Where's the other bloke?" he asked Gwaine, completely ignoring Arthur, who was still looking at him.

"I reckon he's out with this bird he met at the bookshop." Gwaine laughed and the others joined him, except for Arthur. Apparently he was too good for a laugh as well. "This is Percy, and Leon. Their room is just down the hall, and Lance is the other bloke that's going to be sharing the room with you and me."

"Right." Merlin nodded towards the other two blokes in the room and smiled. They smiled back equally pleasant. Percy was tall, fit, and muscles twice the size of Merlin's neck, and Leon was tall with flowing blond hair and intoxicating eyes. "I—Erm—" Merlin seemed to be struggling for words as he shook Leon's hand. He smiled back at him and Merlin found himself wishing that Leon would have been the one sharing the room with them.

"I'm bored. Let's go," Arthur said, snapping his fingers as he proceeded towards the door.

Merlin frowned and looked at Gwaine. He was sure his expression was spot on. Who the fuck does this bloke think he is? Gwaine rolled his eyes and winked at Merlin, and Merlin only let out a snort.

"Sorry, the Princess is hungry," Gwaine whispered and tapped Merlin's shoulder. "Get you anything?"

"Sure, I'd love a turkey sandwich—" Merlin struggled to look for his wallet in his bag.

"No worries, mate. My treat," Gwaine said and winked at Merlin again. He, Percy and Leon left shortly after, following Arthur, leaving him wondering why they were friends with that idiot.

Frustrated for not being able to wank and then having his day pseudo ruined by a rich prat, Merlin crashed on his bed and thought about the leaflet he'd seen about the rugby try-outs. He was definitely looking forward to that.

An hour later, he met Lance, the other bloke that was sharing the room with him, and Gwaine. It seemed as though everyone, Gwaine, Lance, Percy, Leon and Arthur all grew up together and were all admitted to the Avalon Academy. "Some based on merit, rather than wealth," Lance told him and Merlin smiled. He reckoned he was going to like Lance; he seemed like a decent bloke.

"Do you want to get something to eat?" Lance asked, as Merlin was setting up his room and began placing his clothes in the cupboard.

"Oh, I told Gwaine—he said he was going to bring me back—"

"Gwaine probably ate the sandwich the moment after he would have ordered it. You can't rely on him to get you food. You'd starve!" Lance laughed and patted his shoulder. "Let's go."

They headed to the cafeteria. Lance talked about his family and how he had to work twice as hard to prove his worth in school because his father wasn't as rich as all of his friends. He told him that he used to get picked on school all the time for his clothes, and it was until he'd met Gwaine and the others that his life had started to become better.

"Gwaine seems like a nice bloke," Merlin said, "Leon...too." He hesitated for a moment unsure if he was casual enough in his tone.

Lance laughed. "Everyone loves Leon. It's something about those eyes...isn't it?"

Merlin felt his face burning up and was sure that he was turning a different colour. He nodded at Lance and looked down at the chips on his plate.

"He's straight as an arrow though," Lance said. "Just so you know." Merlin was sure his disappointment was visible on his face. "Arthur, though—"

Merlin scoffed.

"What?" Lance asked, almost defensively.

"How do you stand that bloke? He is so insuffer—"

"Look who it is." Someone had approached Lance and Merlin, and Merlin saw Lance's face light up and he smiled. Merlin turned to look, and he scowled. It was Arthur.

"Stealing my friends already?" Arthur asked; his attitude had almost changed. He seemed more friendly, and a bit playful.

"I reckon that's not really that hard to do," Merlin retorted and returned his attention to his chips.

"You watch yourself, Merlin," Arthur said sticking his hand out on Merlin's plate and grabbing a chip. He took a bite of it and glared at Merlin. Almost daring him.

"Or you'll do, what?" Merlin roared, turning to face Arthur, almost standing up.

"Arthur, come on," Percy placed a hand on Arthur's shoulder and pulled him back. "Don't start something with a new student on the first day. You know what happened last year—"

"Yeah, I know what happened last year," Arthur replied disdainfully. He gave Merlin a once over and scoffed before walking away.

Merlin turned to look at Lance who was expressionless. "What?" Merlin asked, and Lance didn't reply. He shook his head and continued to eat his food.

They returned to their room where Gwaine was playing video games. Merlin sat on his bed and opened up his books. He wanted to interact with his roommates more, but it felt like that the tension between him and Arthur had inadvertently caused tension between the rest of them as well. He eventually changed out of his clothes and went off to bed. Not sure if he'd imagined one of them mumbling a "goodnight" to him.

It was a dark room and Merlin knew someone else was there with him. Moments later he realised he was naked, and wet. Where was he?

He took one step forward and was immediately pushed back by a press to his groin.

“What—” Merlin struggled.

“You want me to do this or not?”

Someone was on the floor. A bloke. His head was near Merlin’s thigh, and suddenly, the man enveloped his mouth around Merlin’s cock. Merlin didn’t even know he was hard.

Who was this bloke? And God did he know how to suck cock. Merlin moaned and slammed his head against something. It was a door. The room wasn’t so dark anymore and he was in—in a bathroom.

A shower.

He was in the shower.

Before he knew it, Merlin was coming in that bloke’s mouth and the man moaned around his cock as he sucked Merlin dry.

“Who are you?” Merlin whispered, unsure why he was whispering.

“Don’t steal my friends, Merlin. Be my friend.”

Merlin woke up.


When Merlin awoke, Gwaine and Lance were still asleep, and snoring rather loudly. He quickly hopped into the shower and then headed to the sports division. He wanted to get a schedule for all the team try-outs for the sports, just in case he wouldn't make it in rugby.

When he arrived at the pitch, he saw a small group of students gathered.

Merlin spotted Arthur, trying out for the same sport as he was. The moment Arthur laid his eyes on him, he scoffed and said something to the group of blokes next to him and they all laughed. Forget anything else. Merlin was going to play rugby, and he was going to beat Arthur.

It started with a push, then a shove. Merlin had the ball and Arthur came after him as though they weren't on the same team. What was wrong with him? He knew that he'd gotten off on the wrong foot with Arthur but this was getting ridiculous. The bloke really had it in for Merlin.

This was supposed to be a try-out, and not the real sport. With the way Arthur was acting, neither one of them were going to get a spot on the team. He frowned when he noticed from the corner of his eye that Arthur was going to trip him. The moment Arthur stuck out his leg, Merlin jumped and kicked him while landing back. Arthur fell on the ground, his face in the mud and Merlin took off with the ball. His team won that round and everyone cheered him on. Arthur looked like a fool.

"Alright, settle down," the coach announced after blowing on his whistle. "Good show everyone. Proper form. I'll have the team member announcement with tentative placings listed outside my office door by midday tomorrow. Now get cleaned up!"

The coach walked away and Merlin high-fived with a few of the blokes that were trying out, including Gwaine. "I saw what you did with Arthur there." Gwaine winked and patted him on the back. "He's going to be very cross with you." He laughed, as though he were some vindictive little thing that got off on torturing people.

"I'm not scared," Merlin said, crossing his arms.

"Good, I'm glad. Arthur needs someone to set him straight," Gwaine answered and winked again before running off to catch up with Lance and Percy.

Merlin contemplated heading back to the dorms to shower and change there, but he supposed that it would show him as scared of Arthur's "wrath" or whatever he was supposed to be scared of. He casually walked into the changing rooms and found an empty stall and grabbed his bag. He took his time getting cleaned up. Arthur had pushed him one too many times into the mud and he felt it pouring out from all corners of his skin.

By the time he was done, there was no one left in the locker room. He headed to his cubby-hole to grab his clothes when he felt as though someone was there—watching him. He turned to look and nearly startled. It was Arthur.

"Oh, it's you," Merlin said, nearly scoffing, and turned to tend to his things.

"You're a fucking wanker, do you know that?" Arthur's tone was haughty.

"Yeah, what else am I?" Merlin sneered.

"Who do you think you are—" Arthur closed the distance between them, and he was close enough that Merlin could feel his body heat on him. "I've been playing rugby since I could walk. Your cheap tricks can only take you so far—"

"How long have you been a prat?" Merlin asked, stepping in a centimetre closer. He wasn't afraid of Arthur. He might have realised that Arthur looked really good with a towel around his waist, but he wasn't afraid of him.

Arthur looked deep into Merlin's eyes for a few minutes and didn't say anything. Merlin stared back. Again, he wasn't backing down. Arthur made a grunting sound, almost threatening, and stepped back. When he was around the corner to the other side of the locker room, Merlin let out a sigh of relief. He turned towards his things again.

"Fuck," he whispered. He was hard. He looked down at the tent in his towel and shook his head. He couldn't believe it. Fucking Pendragon, had made him hard.

"I can help with that."

Merlin jerked up his head and glanced back. It was Arthur, again.

"Is that how you make all your friends?" Merlin retorted.

"I don't shag my friends," Arthur said, almost in a whisper and took a step closer to Merlin. Merlin looked down and saw a tent in Arthur's towel as well. Merlin found that somewhat relieving.

"Oh, so the mystery remains to why you have such loyal friends."

"You watch your mouth, Merlin."

"Why, afraid it won't suck you?" Merlin's eyes widened the moments the words parted his tongue. Arthur raised both his eyebrows as well.

"Oh so that mouth is good for something?" Arthur shoved Merlin against the wall pushed himself on top of him. "What else can that tongue do?" he whispered and Merlin inadvertently jerked his hips. "Eager aren't we?"

"You're the one that wanted to help me," Merlin answered. His hands were by his side, palms resting on the back wall. He didn't want to pull Arthur in, just in case it was all a big joke.

Arthur traced his finger from Merlin's neck down to his stomach, following a strand of water that had been trickling down from his hair. "Who knew, a skinny little thing like you, wouldn't be bruised after being pinned under me for a dozen times." Arthur leaned in and licked another wet spot on Merlin's neck.

Merlin wanted to moan the moment he felt Arthur's tongue, but resisted. "I'm stronger than I look," he replied, unsure if he was telling Arthur or himself.

"We'll see about that," Arthur said, thrusting into Merlin again. Their towels were still wrapped around their waist intact and Merlin knew that he wasn't going to be the first one to concede. Arthur rubbed his hand over Merlin's erection and stroked it harshly.

Merlin finally let out a gasp and Arthur pulled down Merlin's towel, grabbing his erection full into his hand. He looked down at Merlin and licked his lips. Merlin wondered at that moment what it would be like to kiss Arthur. He tugged on Arthur's towel and pulled it apart, bringing them both on equal ground.

He finally removed his hands from being pressed against the wall and wrapped them around Arthur's waist. He pulled Arthur in, gliding their cocks together and it was now Arthur, who released a small moan. Merlin kept his hands firmly on Arthur's hips, his nails digging into Arthur's skin as Arthur grabbed both of their erections and was groaning more freely now.

"Fuck," Merlin whispered again and bit down Arthur's shoulder. "That's it," he groaned lowly. "Right there." His one arm wrapped itself around Arthur's waist and the other slid up into his hair. He pulled on Arthur's hair and Arthur only sped up his movements. Merlin could feel it; he was going to come at any moment. He wanted Arthur to slow down; he didn't want to come so soon, but he loved what Arthur was doing to him.

One more harsh stroke, and Arthur was coming. A few moments later, Merlin too, was spilling all over Arthur's hands. "Shit," Merlin said. "I'm going to need another shower."

Arthur took a step back and picked up Merlin's towel. "Well better get to it, then," he said, throwing the towel at Merlin and he picked up his own, walking away. What else could have Merlin expected?


The next morning, was the first day of classes for the term. Merlin was the last one to shower out of the bunch but the first one out the door. He arrived five minutes early and noticed that the seats were set in alphabetical order. Glad to be sitting far away from Pendragon, Arthur, Merlin took his seat which was next to Du Lac, Lancelot.

He heard the door open and looked up. It was Arthur. He looked better in a fitted uniform jacket as he did in just a towel. Merlin rolled his eyes at himself for being taken a little bit. He turned his gaze back to his book.

Moments later, other students started coming into the classroom and Merlin was comforted by the familiar atmosphere of the classroom.

After classes had ended, nearly everyone Merlin had met, made a beeline for the coach's office to learn the results of the rugby try-outs.

As Merlin pushed into the crowd to read the list, he heard Gwaine and Percy cheer. He reckoned they had made the team. As he made it to the front of the group, he saw his name, next to Lance's again. They were both centre, and Merlin was tempted to trace his finger down to look for Arthur's name but he resisted. He turned and saw Arthur standing right next to him.

"Did you make it?" Merlin asked, not caring that he sounded excited. He was excited.

"Yeah, scrum-half," Arthur said.

"Great," Merlin said and walked away. He hugged Lance as he saw him at the end of the crowd of people and they made plans to go out for a pint. Unfortunately for him, Lance wanted to invite everyone else too. Especially, Arthur.


Later that evening, as Merlin was getting ready to go out with the team, he wondered about what had happened with Arthur. Was it a one-time thing? Would it happen after practice again? He didn't care, not really. It just felt sort of good to be with someone after a while and Arthur was a good-looking bloke. If it never happened again, he wouldn't care. He'd rather it didn't happen. Then, he could concentrate on his classes and rugby. That's what he was there for anyway: to study.

"Where are you going?"

Merlin and Lance had arrived at the pub and were amongst the last ones to arrive. They were also amongst the last ones who were still sober. Lance took a seat next to Gwaine and Percy and the only spot that was left free was next to Arthur. Merlin decided to sit at the other table with the rest of the teammates.

He turned to look at Percy, to answer his question when Arthur scoffed and stood up from his seat. He brushed past Merlin and was evidently headed to the loo. Merlin shook his head and sat down across from Gwaine and Percy.

"What's going on with you two?" Lance asked.

"What do you mean?" Merlin responded.

"He almost started to say something nice about you last night, then, it was like mid-sentence he changed his mind." Percy started laughing as he took a swig of his lager.

"Who knows? He's your friend," Merlin answered. "I reckoned he was cross with me, thinking he might not make the team—" Gwaine laughed and Percy scoffed at the same time. "What?" Merlin asked, curious and confused about their reaction.

"Arthur always makes the team. Wherever we are. Whether it be St Albion's Academy for Boys or Avalon Academic University." Gwaine turned to look at Lance who shook his head, almost disapprovingly. "Lance loves Arthur, so he won't say anything."

"Why does he always make the team?" Merlin raised an eyebrow. Now he was really interested, and even more, he was curious about Lance and Arthur's history.

Arthur returned to the table and they changed the subject. Now Merlin was stuck in between Percy-The-Giant and Arthur-The-Prat

"Another round!" Arthur announced and grabbed Gwaine's hand and headed off to the bar to get a few more pitchers. Merlin took the opportunity to slide out of his seat and head to the loo himself. He didn't want to get stuck in between again where his knee kept on touching Arthur's, and the more pissed Arthur would get, the higher his hand would ride up Merlin's thigh.

Merlin locked himself in the toilet stall to take a breather. He'd only known Arthur for a few days and was annoyed at himself for being bothered by him. He was nothing more than a rich, spoiled, snob who only cared about himself.

The moment Merlin opened the door to the stall, he found Arthur standing in front of him. He groaned his frustration, perhaps a bit louder than he anticipated. "What do you want?" he snapped.

"What is your problem?" Arthur said, poking Merlin's shoulder hard with his finger.

"What—? You're pissed," Merlin answered, and rolled his eyes. Arthur pushed him into the stall. "What are you doing?" Arthur locked the door behind him. "Someone will see—"

"No they won't," Arthur said and pushed Merlin. He began unzipping Merlin's trousers and Merlin tried to stop him.

"Why are you doing this?" Merlin managed to ask as Arthur began stroking Merlin's cock from above his pants.

"Tell me you don't want this."


"Tell me. You. Don't. Want. This."

Merlin slammed his head against the side wall of the stall. He closed his eyes and nodded. He wanted it. Arthur was going to get on his knees in the filthy stall of the pub. The rich snob. The prat. Wanted to suck Merlin's cock. Yeah, Merlin wanted it.

Arthur stroked upwards and ran his thumb over the head of Merlin's prick. He continued by pushing his hand back down, he was rough. A moment later, his cock was inside Arthur's mouth as he swirled his tongue around it. Merlin moaned.

"Shut up," Arthur commanded.

"Fucking prat," Merlin whispered his retort. He slightly slammed his head against the stall wall again, as he ran his fingers through Arthur's hair, steadying the rhythm. "Fuck..."

Arthur moaned around Merlin's cock, his tongue doing devilish things that made Merlin wonder where he'd learn to do that. Merlin had only had his cock sucked once before and it was never anything close to what Arthur was doing. Arthur was enjoying himself.

"More," Merlin whispered as he grabbed Arthur's hair with both hands and urged him to speed up. Arthur caught on quickly and his mouth was sucking him faster, and Arthur's hands were massaging Merlin's thighs.

Merlin was so hot. His body was aching with desire—he had a fire inside his stomach he couldn't explain. He wanted to come so badly, spill into Arthur's mouth and watch him take it all in. Lick him, everywhere. But he didn't want Arthur to stop. He wanted to continue fucking his mouth, hear him make the sounds he was making, and—

Merlin came.

Arthur didn’t even flinch as he licked and sucked him until he was completely dry. Arthur released Merlin’s cock waking him up from his blissful dream-like state.

The moment Arthur stood up to face Merlin, his expression had changed. It was no longer a look of want or lust, rather, he was back to being his insufferable self.

“That was…” Merlin uttered.

“It doesn’t mean anything,” Arthur said.

“Thanks for the newsflash.” Merlin scowled.

“Don’t get all—”

“I’m not,” Merlin retorted. “What... do you think I’ll be upset?” He sneered. “Because of you?”

Arthur scoffed and left the toilet stall. Merlin didn’t understand why he’d let him do that. Or why he’d let Arthur get under his skin like that. He allowed himself a moment of pity before picking himself up and dusting it all off. He wouldn’t let Arthur bug him. The man was a horny prat, and that was that. He was going to treat it like the way it was. He wasn’t going to go ask for it and he was going to make himself unavailable if and when Arthur came looking for it.

Three days later, it happened again.

Only this time, Merlin was in Arthur's single room on all fours, and Arthur's tongue was darting in and out of his hole. How did he get back there? Merlin had no idea. He was doing well. He'd go to his classes making sure he was surrounded by people. He'd begun practice for the rugby team and either showered quickly in the locker rooms while it was still crowded or just ran off to his room for a shower. He even avoided going out to the pub with the team unless he had someone else to speak with. He avoided the loo.

Then Arthur claimed he wanted to borrow a book from Gwaine and took one of Merlin's book "by mistake." Merlin went by Arthur's room to retrieve it, and Arthur kissed him. Merlin couldn't believe it. Kissed him.

It wasn't one of those shove a person against the wall, "want to fuck you now" kind of kisses either. It was soft, almost too sweet; it spoke of longing, and desire—qualities Merlin didn't think Arthur possessed. Merlin was putty in Arthur's hands, and he hated every moment of it. Except, the shagging—the shagging was good—more than good. Arthur's cock slid so swiftly in and out of Merlin, and the way he moaned, it only made Merlin stiff. How could a person at such a young age be so good at fucking?

Of course, Merlin thought, when you shag someone constantly and keep telling them 'it doesn't mean anything' only ups your performance.

"Are you talking to yourself?" Arthur asked, stopping in the midst of Merlin’s orgasm.

"What? No!" Merlin roared. "Are you going to get on with it, or not?"

"Well if that's how you're going to treat it, then I might as well stop." Arthur grabbed Merlin's hips and began to slowly pull out.

Merlin pushed back on Arthur's cock. Hard. "Don't you fucking dare stop, Pendragon."

"Oh, so you do like it?" Arthur teased, pushing in harder.

"Of course I fucking like it, you half-witted prat. I don't hang around you for your company," Merlin replied and hung his head low again as Arthur continued to plunge in and out of him. "Harder. More...Arthur!"

Merlin shocked himself with the tenderness of his voice when calling out Arthur's name. A moment later, Arthur had stopped. He tried to tilt his head back to see what happened when Arthur pulled out and switched Merlin around. He pushed Merlin on the bed on his back, and spread his legs. Right before pushing in again, Arthur leaned in to kiss Merlin.

Ever since then, Arthur picked on Merlin just so they could fight. A kick here, or a shove there that usually resulted in a shag in the shower, or a blowjob in the toilet stall. Arthur tortured Merlin in public, to the brink of him almost snapping, then Merlin would get his revenge too. He'd flirt with a bloke at a party, tell Arthur he didn't understand why he was so bothered given that they "didn't mean anything." Arthur would almost always start the fight, and he would almost always be the first one to touch Merlin. Even if Merlin would eventually have him pressed against the wall.

It continued like that for months, and Merlin wasn't surprised when his friends started to notice.

"What's going on with you two?" Gwaine asked one afternoon after Arthur had left their room subsequently having an argument with Merlin.

"I don't understand. You saw the way he talks to me—"

"Not that," Gwaine said. "You two fight like cats and dogs and then disappear together."

"We do not disappear together," Merlin tried to argue.

"No, you argue. You walk away, cross. He disappears moments later. Then he's back, and then you're back. We're all starting to take bets—"

"On what?"

"Whether or not you're boyfriends," Lance said.

"We are not boyfriends," Merlin snapped. "Even if we were...doing whatever you're suggesting. Arthur is not my type. I'd never want him as a boyfriend!"

"Why not?" Lance asked, and Gwaine crossed his arm, looking engrossed.

Merlin huffed. "He's mean, and rude. And he's just so unapologetic about his insufferable attitude! I don't even know how you lot can be friends with him. Why would I want to date him?"

"You don't think he's attractive?" Gwaine asked.

"I didn't say that," Merlin replied.

"And you don't stare at his arse as he walks away?" Lance added.

"I—" Merlin was suddenly tongue tied. He was sure he wasn't that obvious.

"You actually do it quite a lot," Gwaine said.

"He's actually quite a good bloke," Lance said.

"I'm actually not interested. Just because he's gay, and I'm gay, doesn't mean we should be boyfriends!" Merlin wasn't sure why he was arguing so much. He was, in fact, shagging Arthur. Almost exclusively. If his friends knew that, they would call them boyfriends. It's what people did in Boarding Academies, wasn't it?" They'd find a person to get involved with and be a couple. Except, Merlin and Arthur never really discussed it that far. Arthur had stopped saying "it doesn't mean anything," and Merlin never bothered to ask. Ever.

"If you find him attractive, and you stare at his arse just as much as he stares at yours when you walk away—"

"Listen, mates. You know me. I told you my life story. I'm poor, with a working class mother, and a deadbeat abandoned father. I earned a full scholarship to go here; I don't fit in your—his kind.

"Is that what you really think of Arthur?" Lance asked, and Merlin shrugged. "When was the last time you had a conversation with him?"

"Er—never?" Merlin answered.

"Then how can you be so—"

"Listen, I'm not sure why you're so cross about this. You said so yourself that he gets to play for whatever sport he desires. Register or withdraw from any class of his choice—"

"But that's because of his father—"

"Yeah. I don't have that luxury. I want to be with someone who is real."

"Don't you think he's actually good at rugby?" Lance asked and Merlin shrugged again. "And his classes. Isn't he the one who knows the subjects the best, and always has an answer for the Professor?"

"Yeah, so?"

"So he does what he does on his own accomplishments. He just has his father to open the door for him. But he doesn't need that!"

"Listen," Merlin said raising his hands in surrender. "I get it. He's your best friend. He's your brother. And Lance, for some odd reason he's your knight in shining armour. But he's just that isn't he? He's yours. He's nothing to me. To me, he's my classmate, my teammate, your friend. I don't want him to take pity on me when he finds out that for Christmas hols, I'll have to lug my suitcase on a coach then a train just so I can go see my family, while he's out driving his latest car and deal with a father he barely cares for. Alright? I don't want to be his charity case!"

Merlin grabbed his jacket off his bed and stormed out. It was starting to get dark out early and he roamed around the rugby pitch unsure of where to go. He was too stressed from the conversation earlier to return to his room and he couldn't exactly go to Arthur's. They weren't exactly boyfriends, or even friends. Merlin was afraid of this. He was afraid of giving his status with Arthur a name. He knew that he didn't want to fall for him, and now he knew why. He was afraid of being rejected. Arthur would have probably rejected him once he'd found out that Merlin wasn't like the rest of them. He didn't come from money, or status, or power. He was nothing.


Merlin looked up as he heard Arthur's voice.

"You know you've just been walking around in circles?"

Merlin shrugged. "What are you doing out there?"

"I decided to go for a run. Burn off some steam—the old fashioned way." Arthur grinned and Merlin smiled softly. He wasn't sure if it was because he hadn't had dinner yet, or the cold was setting in on his bones, but with his hair damp and sweat trickling down his neck, Arthur looked sort of beautiful.

"Do you want to come by?" Arthur asked. His voice almost sounded concerned.


Arthur spun around and started to walk and Merlin walked a few feet behind him. "What are you doing?" Arthur asked as he stopped walking. "Come on, Merlin, I haven't got all night!"

Usually they walked feet apart in case anyone saw them together. It has been their unspoken arrangement. Another unspoken understanding just like everything else between them.

Merlin picked up the pace and they began to walk together. "Are you alright?" Arthur asked.

"Yeah, why?"

"You just seemed a bit, I don't know, distracted."

Merlin shrugged again. "Just a lot on my mind. Stress of sorts."

"You should go running, it's a good stress relief."

"You know what I like to do for stress relief."

Arthur laughed. "We should go running together. I bet you'll like it."

"Why?" Merlin asked.

Arthur looked a bit taken back by the question. "'s what friends do?"

"We're not friends."

Arthur opened his mouth as though the light bulb in his head had just turned on. "Ah...right." They arrived at Arthur's room and he opened the door allowing Merlin to go in first. "So, what are you stressed about?"

Merlin ran his fingers through his hair and scrounged up his face. "I had a fight with your friends. They think we should be boyfriends."

"Oh, you too, huh?"

"Wait, they've approached you about this?" Merlin asked and Arthur nodded. "What did you say?"

"I don't know. Not much."

"It's a ridiculous idea," Merlin said, removing his jacket and throwing it on Arthur's chair. It was the routine.

"Is it?" Arthur's brows furrowed for a split second.

"Come on, Arthur. You'd said yourself, it doesn't mean anything."

"Yeah but that was months ago and we—"

"Honestly. You can't be serious. You think that we should be boyfriends?"

"I just don't think it could hurt to get to know each other more than just fr—"

"Is that what you told them? You want to be my boyfriend? That's what they were harassing me about wasn't it. You told them that we were shagging and now we should boyfriends?"

"Oh my God, can you stop saying the word boyfriends so much?" Arthur snapped.

"What did you fucking tell them?" Merlin nearly roared.

Arthur sighed. "I told them that depending on how you feel, I wouldn't be completely against the idea."

"The idea of—"

"Of being friends. Getting to know each other. Going on dates and see if we are romantically compatible.

"That's ridiculous," Merlin said. "If you were interested in me like that you would have said so from the beginning."

"You hated me in the beginning."

"And you hated me."

"I was stressed!" Arthur said. "I had to make the team, deal with being the only gay and out bloke out of all my friends. My father was harassing me—it was—it was just a distraction. I knew I could just use—"

"Use me?"

"We never did anything you didn't want to do," Arthur said, and Merlin didn't answer. "It was like that in the beginning, but things changed. Last few times you almost slept through the whole night here."

"That's because I was exhausted from all the fucking!"

"Why do you think we fuck so much? It works for us, whatever it is, we just seem to click. It's what I have been trying to tell you, Merlin. Trying to show you. I want more than just fucking. I want—"

"It was wrong for me to come here tonight," Merlin said and turned to grab his jacket.

Arthur pulled on Merlin's arm. "Don't. Don't fucking shut me out."

"Let go of my arm!" Merlin argued, trying to yank his arm free of Arthur's grasp. He pushed Arthur back who only lunged after him more. "You are so stubb—"

Arthur kissed him. He had Merlin pushed against the door to his room, pinned under him. He pushed his leg in between Merlin's thighs and was grinding his knee against Merlin's cock.

"Fuck, Arthur—"

Arthur pulled Merlin and all but dragged him to the bed. Merlin couldn't believe he was going through with this, but every time he tried to draw away, Arthur would only pull him in.


Merlin had never spent the night before, so when he woke up and realised it was four o'clock, he slowly slid off the bed and got dressed. He watched Arthur mumble and move about in the bed, but otherwise, he didn't really do anything else.

Merlin finished dressing in the dark and before he could change his mind, left Arthur room. He crashed on his bed a few minutes later, but didn't actually fall asleep.

What was he doing?

Arthur had all but said that he wanted to be Merlin's boyfriend. Merlin didn't have time for a boyfriend—he shouldn't even have been doing what he was doing with Arthur in the first place. He couldn't believe himself. If his mum found out, who knows what she would have done.

Merlin needed to end it.

He didn't have time to get attached to a rich, spoiled brat, who would probably leave him at the end of the school year anyway. Merlin was going to go back to Ealdor and figure out what University he was going to attend. How he would be able to afford it. He didn't have time to worry about some boy from boarding school—rather—some rich boy from boarding school whose Daddy paid for everything.

He was not going to fall for Arthur. He was not going to be Arthur's boyfriend.

And that was decided.

Glad, that it was his last day there and he was headed back home the next day, Merlin eventually drifted off. Unfortunately for him, his dreams only reminded him what he was going to miss. Arthur was on his knees begging to suck Merlin off, or Merlin on his back, his legs in the air as Arthur was pounding into him.

Merlin woke up moaning and stiff. The last time that had happened, his friends had teased him about it for days. This time, Merlin found himself alone in the room. Gwaine and Lance's things were gone. They must have already left for the holiday, Merlin reckoned. They didn't even say goodbye...


Merlin packed up his things and was headed off when he thought for a moment if he should check in on Arthur. His mates had left, so he was sure that Arthur did too. He shook off the notion and headed to the bus stop. He had a long way ahead.

His bag was heavier than he'd have liked it to be, but Merlin was taking all of his books with him. Along with a few souvenirs for his mum and Gaius that he'd bought from the school bookshop. He was not going to think about how much he would miss Arthur. Because, he wouldn't.

Arthur was a spoiled prat, and he would most likely have already picked out a new fuck buddy by the time he arrived in his hometown. Gods, who knew, maybe he shagged Lance when no one was looking.

Merlin's stomach turned with jealousy. He was more annoyed at his own thoughts than the fact that Arthur probably wouldn't think twice about shagging someone new. He tried not to think about it, he really didn't, but every time Merlin closed his eyes, he'd see Arthur smiling at him. He'd picture Arthur's face when he came or when Merlin came inside him.

This was the most distance they had had in-between them. Merlin never had time to think about how beautiful Arthur really was when they were fucking. Or just how beautiful Arthur was.

His stop came and Merlin was glad for the distraction. He had forgotten to purchase his ticket home in advance and hoped that the trains weren't sold out. He'd been too busy with school, and rugby, and...Arthur.

He thanked his luck that he'd managed to get a seat on the next train to Ealdor and bought himself a cup of coffee and a newspaper; things were finally looking up. He had a ticket home, and he hadn't thought about Arthur. Though, he did think about how he wasn't thinking about Arthur, a lot. But that didn't count. Not really.

Of course that changed when he turned to the Business section of the paper, and a giant article on the future of Pendragons' Industry was in the centre of it. Merlin immediately crumpled the paper and threw it in the rubbish bin. There goes that.

Merlin was so cross with Arthur. Why did Arthur have to go and tell him all those things the night before? That he wanted to be friends? Maybe boyfriends?

Then, they all...just left. No one even said goodbye to him. Was it because he'd insulted Arthur and they didn't want to be friends with Merlin anymore? No one wanted to be friends with Merlin. Merlin's heart sank when he realised that the only friends he'd made at school were friends with the bloke he'd been fucking. And now that they were over, he had no one left.

An announcement came over the intercom and Merlin's train was getting ready to be boarded. A few more hours then he'd be home. Hopefully his mum could pick him up from the station. Or, he'd have to call Will. Merlin groaned at the idea of relying on his ex-boyfriend for a ride home. He'd never live it down. Will would most likely invite himself over, and then try to get too friendly with Merlin.

Merlin hated it, but he could never shut himself off from Will forever. It's what people did in a small town like Ealdor, they just put up with each other since there was nothing else to do. Will was nice, but he wasn't exactly boyfriend material, either. His goals were too small, and he never wanted to leave "home." He'd given Merlin so much grief for going to boarding school all the way in Camelot. Unlike Merlin, Will was always happy with what he'd get, and didn't want to achieve more. He had no fire. Not like—Arthur.

Merlin scowled to himself as he sat back on his seat in the train. Again, he was thinking about Arthur. He jerked up and opened his bag and took out a few books. Might as well get caught up on Maths homework, he thought.

A half hour later, he dozed off. And a half hour after that, he woke up frantically, right before Arthur was going to sink down on his cock and start riding him. God, Merlin hated Arthur. More than the fact that he'd started to realise that maybe he loved him.

"Come on, Merlin. Homework is not going to do itself," he told himself and opened up his book again. He could do this. He could. Of course he was only thinking so much about Arthur because the night before had probably been one of the best shags they'd had and he was still riding high from it. That was it. It had nothing to do with the fact that Arthur had said that he wanted to be Merlin's boyfriend, or that Merlin had really considered it regardless of how much he denied it.

Shite. Merlin was considering.

No, he wasn't considering it.

It didn't matter anyway. It was too late now. It was over. For the next two weeks, at least. Merlin was going to be home and Arthur was going to be nowhere around him. He didn't have Arthur's mobile and Arthur didn't know Merlin's home number. There was going to be no communication.

And Merlin would get over it. He would.


The train pulled up to North Ealdor Station and Merlin gathered his things. He needed to find a payphone to call his mum, and if not then call Gaius, before Will. Call anyone he possibly could, before Will.

He dragged across the platform with his bag on his back and his Maths book under his arm. Every time he'd think about Arthur, he was going to do a problem set. It was a great way to deal with it, really. The best way.

Merlin headed to the main entrance at the station to find a phone box. Okay, now he was really going crazy. Because he had moved up from just thinking about Arthur to imagining him. He saw a blond haired bloke standing by the giant clock, and he looked at Merlin and smiled. Wow, Merlin really had it bad, didn't he? He had begun to hallucinate.

Shaking off the image, he headed towards the payphone and saw a small queue. There were two, and not much to his surprise, one was out of order.

He scowled, wondering how long he'd have to wait before he could start calling for a ride. He turned to look in the direction of where he thought he'd seen Arthur and that bloke was still there. Still, he looked like Arthur.

Seriously, what was wrong with Merlin?

The man turned to his right and looked at someone else. Merlin followed his gaze. Wait was that..."Percy?" Merlin said. Percy turned to his side and Merlin saw Gwaine.

Merlin wasn't hallucinating. He'd actually seen Arthur, because Arthur was there and he was with Gwaine, Percy and Leon. What was going on?

He stayed in queue and moved up as it did. Still unsure of how else to react.

"Merlin," Gwaine said as he was the first to approach him.

"What—?" Merlin's eyes widened. He couldn't believe this was happening. What was happening? "What are you doing here?"

"We're here to spend the holidays with you." Gwaine turned to look at Percy who was grinning as he came running and stood next to Gwaine.

"I don't understand—"

"Hi," Arthur said, approaching next. He looked nervous. "Maybe I should explain." Merlin nodded, he didn't know what else to do. Arthur looked over at his friends who soon but scattered away.

"What are you doing here, Arthur?"

"I wanted to—" Arthur sighed and ran his hand through his hair. God, Merlin just wanted to smack him for looking adorable. He wanted to smack himself for thinking Arthur looked adorable. When did that happen anyway? When did the tables turn like that?

"I wanted to ask you—to drive you—home. I had a feeling that you'd say no so I asked the guys, and they said you'd definitely say no. Then you'd probably throw some insult at me, tell me that I don't know, I don't understand—and that you weren't some charity case—"

Merlin grimaced. Did he really sound all that arrogant? He didn't mean to be. He just wanted to seem independent.

"So, I really like you, Merlin. Okay?" Arthur added. "And, I don't care about the holidays since my mother passed away several years ago—"

"Oh," Merlin said; he had no idea.

"Yeah. And my father won't be around to miss me anyway." Arthur cleared his throat looking around. It seemed that the people in the queue had started listening in on their conversation. Small town.

Merlin left the queue line and walked away from the crowd. Arthur followed.

"Listen, you can tell me that you don't want to see me. You can tell me to sod off. But I had to do this. I had to see you. When you left the room—"

"You were awake?"

"Yeah. I'm awake every time."

"You could have asked me to stay."

"Would you have?"

Merlin shook his head. No he wouldn't have. He hated Arthur, right? "So you came all the way here—dragged them—"

"Well they volunteered because I am terrible with direction, and Percy was navigating, and Leon just wanted to watch you dump me and well Gwaine—"

"Gwaine doesn't need a reason—"

"Exactly." Arthur smiled again, and Merlin's heart fluttered. When did he become such a fucking girl? Merlin had fucked this man standing in front of him. He was nearly twice his size and Merlin had had his cock inside him—whimpering—and now? He was acting like such a girl!

"Where's Lance?" Merlin asked.

"Oh, he decided he'd rather spend his time with Gwen, than chase after what seemed to him was a lost cause."

Merlin nodded but didn't say anything. Was it a lost cause?

"I know that we're different—that you think we're different. Your family background is different than mine, and I'm spoiled, and rich, and..." Arthur paused as though he was looking for words his friends had probably told him Merlin had said.

"An insufferable prat," Merlin offered.

"Right." Arthur laughed.

"Is this why everyone left this morning without even saying bye?" Merlin asked, still feeling a bit hurt from finding himself so alone.

"Yeah, we had to make a quick plan to get here. And find a hotel and—"

"There's only one hotel in Ealdor."

"Oh, we know. We got a tour of the town already, too." Arthur smiled again. This was a different kind of smile, Merlin knew. This one meant he was going to tease him real soon. "It's nice to see where you were born."

"Oh God," Merlin groaned. This was more embarrassing than he'd imagined. He looked down at his feet in order to avoid eye contact with Arthur.

"So— I take it that it's not a bad thing that you haven't kicked me, hit me, told me to leave—" Merlin looked up biting his lip. "And then you do that," Arthur said.

"I'm sorry that I've been such an arse," Merlin said, finally putting down his heavy bag and taking Arthur's hand. "I just thought— I don't know. I guess I still think it."

"Think what?"

"That I don't want to get too close. That you'll hurt me. Eventually, leave me— I mean we're going to finish boarding school and go off to Uni and—"

Before Merlin could finish his sentence, Arthur grabbed Merlin by his neck and pulled him in for a kiss. His words were half eaten by Arthur's mouth as Arthur's tongue found its way in Merlin's mouth.

Merlin heard a few gasps around him, and knew that this was definitely going to be the talk of the town for a while. No one was really so out and open about being gay and here he was— snogging—


Merlin nearly shoved Arthur away as he straightened up hearing his mum's voice.


"Hi," she said, looking confused at Merlin then at Arthur and then back at him.

"Hi. You're here. To pick me up?"

"Well, yeah. I knew you were coming today but I didn't know what time so I thought I'd try my luck, given the trains come every three hours from Camelot."

"Right. You're so smart," Merlin said, grinning and embarrassed and awkwardly hard. He was glad his coat was long enough to cover any further humiliation.

She furrowed her brows and looked at Arthur.

"Hi," Arthur said, walking up to them and offered to shake Merlin's mum's hand. "I'm Arthur. I— er— Merlin and I go to school—"

"Arthur's my..." Merlin cut in then hesitated. "Arthur's my boyfriend." He sheepishly glanced at Arthur who looked as shocked as Merlin felt for saying it out loud. "He—Erm—his dad's out of the country and the rest of them don't have any much family around, either, so they wanted to stay—" Merlin's mum looked worried, and he knew what she was thinking. There wasn't' enough room in their house for everyone.

"We've already checked in at the hotel," Arthur chimed in. "So it won't be any trouble, at all. I just— I just couldn't stay away." Even though Merlin knew that Arthur was being purposely dramatic, the look in his eyes seemed to be genuine.

"Pleasure to meet you, Arthur. I'm Hunith," she said, and shook Arthur's hand. "Your friends are welcome to stop by for tea if you wish..." she paused for a brief moment. "I have to return to work, so I take it, you'll be able to give Merlin a ride home?"

Arthur and Merlin both nodded in unison. She smiled, kissed Merlin on the cheek and left.

"She doesn't seem that mortified by catching you snogging a bloke," Arthur said, after she had left the station. He grabbed Merlin's bag and started walking as well. The rest of their friends were already waiting by the door.

"Well, she'd once walked in on me and Will almost— yeah, so I think she probably just thinks that I'm just some randy teenager—"

"Who's Will?"

"Just an ex— If you weren't waiting here for me, he probably would have been the one picking me up."

"Good thing, I'm here then," Arthur said. "No one else should be picking you up but me."

Merlin laughed and Arthur grabbed his hand as they left the station. People were still turning to look at them, and Merlin knew it was partially because everyone was intrigued by the new guests in the town, and partially because two blokes were holding hands.


They didn't go to Merlin's house. Not right away, anyway.

Arthur had book two rooms at the Ealdor Inn. One with two double beds for Leon, Percy, and Gwaine, and one with a king size bed for himself.

"How did you know that I was going to want to spend time with you?" Merlin asked, after they arrived in Arthur's hotel room and Arthur had all but pinned Merlin on the bed underneath him.

"I didn't. I had hoped."

Merlin rolled his eyes. "God, you are such a girl, Arthur," he teased, knowing fully well that he was the one who had butterflies in his stomach.

Arthur's eyes widened and Merlin saw the fire that he'd so admired. "That's rich from someone who just introduced me to their mother as his boyfriend."

Arthur brought Merlin's hands above his head and tightened his grip. He leaned down to softly kiss Merlin before pulling away and gliding their erections together. Merlin moaned, trying to free his hands. He just wanted to take his trousers off and wrap his legs around Arthur's waist.

"I thought you wanted to be my boyfriend?" Merlin whispered, thrusting up, and tried to squirm his hands from Arthur's tight hold.

"I did," Arthur said. "I mean, I do. Why did you change your mind?" Arthur released Merlin's hands and sat up on the bed. Merlin immediately sat up straight as well.

"I had a lot of time to think. On the coach rides, then the train— I mean, I didn't think I was going to see you again for weeks and what that mean, and how I left things." Merlin ran his fingers through Arthur's hair and leaned in to kiss him. "I was just scared, you know." He looked at Arthur who nodded. "I just didn't realise that I was hurting you too and I didn't want to do that.

"I realise I was wrong. I was wrong about you and how you are. I just saw you as a taker, and didn't see how it was me who was doing all the taking eventually and you just kept giving."

Arthur smiled softly but didn't respond. He only leaned into Merlin's touch.

"I see it now," Merlin said.


"Why they love you so much. You're an arse, but you're not. And it's kind of amazing."

Arthur laughed and then Merlin kissed him. He guided Arthur down on the bed and started to remove his trousers. It wasn't long before Merlin had closed his mouth around Arthur's cock and began to suck eagerly. His hand reached back to his back pocket to grab his wallet. He wanted to pull out a condom and be ready.

Arthur ran his hand through Merlin's hair and tightened his grasp, trying to draw a steady rhythm. Eventually Merlin pulled up releasing Arthur from his mouth and Arthur immediately whined.

"Not like this," he said, "I'm going to ride you."

Arthur looked surprised again. Merlin loved giving Arthur that look. "You've never—"

"I know," Merlin said. It was usually in the dark for them when Merlin was either on his back or his stomach. This was a big step for Merlin too; he’d always rushed through the sex trying to get the satisfaction. This was different. He wanted Arthur to know that he loved him.

He handed Arthur the condom as he started to take off his clothes. He knew that he didn't need much preparation given that he'd been with Arthur not twenty four hours ago. Arthur hastily removed his shirt as soon as he'd placed the condom on, and Merlin hovered over him, balancing himself on his haunches.

Arthur's hands reached down and held his cock as Merlin slowly began to sink down.

"Fuck," Merlin whispered when he felt Arthur's cock pushing in. It was always the same reaction; the same feeling of wholeness that he didn't want to give a name to.

When Merlin was finally settled on Arthur's prick, he shifted his hips slightly and Arthur released a gratified moan. Merlin smiled and did it again. Arthur closed his eyes and almost arched up. He grabbed Merlin's hips and thrust up.

"I can't believe you thought that we weren't going to do this for over two weeks!" Arthur said, trying to steady a rhythm between Merlin's hip shifting and his own thrusting.

Merlin laughed and leaned in towards Arthur, placing his hands on Arthur's chest, and Arthur immediately took a hold of Merlin's cock and started tugging. "Need you," Merlin whispered, and he knew that Arthur was close. He was going to spill inside Merlin at any moment's notice, and Merlin wanted to come with him.

Arthur released another harsh moan and thrust up. "Fuck," he uttered as he came. "I love you, Merlin," he said, and Merlin didn't have a chance to react as he came on Arthur's hand, spilling all over his chest.

"God, I could watch you ride me like that every day, Merlin," he said, still tenderly thrusting up, as though he didn't get enough of Merlin. Merlin knew that he didn't, couldn't, get enough of Arthur.

Merlin bit his lip and pulled up, releasing Arthur's cock from inside him. He ran to the loo and grabbed a towel, cleaning himself up and then wiping Arthur's chest. "You said..." Merlin hesitated for a bit.

"I really did say that, didn't I? I was hoping it was in my head," Arthur said, softly. "Well, I reckon it's out in the open now."

"How do you know it's love?"

"How do you know it's not?"

"Jesus, you have to argue about everything, don't you?"

"And you have to second guess everything I say."

Merlin rolled his eyes and put on his t-shirt.

"Just come to bed, Merlin. I just want to lay here. I'm tired and I—"

"I have to get home," Merlin said. "I should probably get started on dinner, as a thank you to my mum for—"

"Do you want help?"

Merlin shrugged. "I don't know, we'll probably just end up fucking on my bed, and not do anything productive."

Arthur immediately stood up and grabbed his trousers. "Then, I'm definitely coming. You know, again." Merlin glared at Arthur. "What will we tell the others?"

"Tell them to come to my house for dinner in a few hours," Merlin answered.

"Oh, how will they get there?" Arthur finished getting dressed and turned to look at Merlin.

"Same way we will. My house is a five minute walk from here."

"Oh this is going to be a fun Christmas, after all." Arthur's eyes lit up and Merlin could only imagine the antics he was thinking in his head.

"Indeed," he answered, and grabbed Arthur's hand to lead him home.