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Silence (the Thought I'd Never Say remix)

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He comes out to Gwen years before he comes out to anyone else, before he leaves home and never really finds his way back again. They're still close, still know each other like they know themselves, so it's barely anything for Elyan to say, "I think I might be a bit gay."

Gwen doesn't even blink. "A bit?"

He shrugs. "Yeah. Like, not fully."

"Like bi?"

"Maybe." Elyan shrugs again. He still likes girls, he's just starting to think that maybe girls aren't all he likes. "It's hard to be sure."

Gwen gives him a smile, says, "Tell me about it," and Elyan lets out a breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding.

+

He doesn't come out to anyone else for a long time. He joins the LGBTQ+ society in his first week of uni and feels that rush of recognition, of belonging, of home. He flirts with other boys because he can, suddenly, because it's fun and easy in a way it never has been before, and people just sort of assume he's gay. Elyan never bothers correcting them. They might even be right, like, whatever, Elyan only really ever hooks up with guys, and that's the same thing, right?

He has boyfriends, too, but none of them really stick until Will. They go out together for most of Elyan's third year, Will's second, until it pretty much just fizzles out of its own accord when they figure out they're better friends than boyfriends.

"I could've told you that," Elena tells him, shaking her head. She's probably the closest thing Elyan has to a best friend, has been since the LGBTQ+ launch night way back in first year, and he called her as soon as Will left, with a brief hug and a, 'See y'around, mate.' "All you did was hang out all the time like you did before, except suddenly you were also fucking."

Elyan turns his head to look at her. They're sitting on his tiny sofa, squished in next to each other, and their noses almost touch. "Isn't that what dating is?" he says, and Elena laughs.

"We hang out all the time, and we're not dating, so no."

Elyan bites his lip, says, "But we're not fucking," and doesn't really know why except that Elena's eyes are suddenly on his mouth, and that's... yeah.

"Do you want to be?" she asks, straightforward as always, and Elyan can't speak, just nods, nods, and Elena kisses him, pressing him back into the sofa.

They go to the next LGBTQ+ society event together, holding hands, and nobody says anything to them, not to their faces, but at the sudden silence, Elyan feels like the rug's just been pulled out from under him.

Elena smiles like she's oblivious to the glares and marches them to a booth in the corner of the cafe the society's commandeered for the next few hours. Elyan barely lets her get five steps before he lets her hand drop out of his and says, "I'm just gonna get a coffee, you want something?"

Elena goes stiff, then very deliberately loose. "Nah," she says, "you don't need to get me anything."

+

He meets Gwaine and the others at a party that one of Gwen's friends, Morgana, is having. He doesn't know anyone in the area well yet, and they hadn't spoken in far too long before the phone call when she mentioned it to him, so he goes.

Gwaine introduces himself with, "Gwaine, resident bisexual, at your service," and a wink that makes Elyan laugh despite himself, despite the part of him that looks at Gwaine and just sees a stereotype. "Where's your alcohol?"

"Uh," Elyan says. Gwen told him it was BYOB, and he doesn't really like drinking with people he doesn't know, so he didn't bring any. "At home?"

"Fair enough," Gwaine says, "though I'll have to drink twice as much to make up for your lack of intoxication, just so you know."

"I'll hold you to that," Elyan says, mock gravely, and Gwaine does a complicated flourish with the hand holding his bottle of cider and bows.

By the time the party's started winding down, a few hours later, Gwaine is loose and giggly and Elyan's pretty sure he's made a friend for life. Leaning into Gwaine's side, he's suddenly really glad he came out tonight.

"I hold your oath fulfilled," he murmurs somewhere near Gwaine's ear, and Gwaine laughs, planting a kiss on Elyan's cheek.

"Hey," Percival says, appearing on the edge of Elyan's vision, "a bunch of us are gonna head into town and see if anyone'll let us into their club. Anyone else up for it?"

"I'm not as young as I used to be," Gwaine slurs out. "Go forth and pull someone in my stead, I beg you."

"Would that it were that easy." Percival shakes his head. "Though the hardest part would be finding someone you haven't already fucked, let's be honest."

Elyan laughs because Gwaine does, and it's a joke, and there are worse things Percival could've said, and. And.

+

"How are you doing?" Da's voice is crackly over the phone and Elyan can't tell if it's just static or not. "Been a while since we've seen you."

"Yeah," Elyan says, breathing in deep, "sorry. Been busy. I'll come home soon. For Gwen's birthday, yeah?"

"You're a good brother." Elyan's face burns with shame for a moment, before the wind whips it away. His dad called as Elyan was walking back from the shops, and instead of just walking home, Elyan's ended up circling back around, kicking through the autumn leaves collecting on the pavements. "Has she told you about her new boyfriend, Lancelot? He's such a lovely young man."

"Yeah," Elyan says. "She sounds really happy."

"She is," Da says, and Elyan can practically see his glowing face in the stars in the sky. "Have you found a nice girl yet? Or- or a boy?"

"No, Da," Elyan says.

"What happened to that girl you were seeing, El-something?"

"That was years ago," Elyan says, trying not to grimace. He never told his dad about Will, or any of the other boys he dated. "I haven't really- not for a while." His dad makes a concerned noise, and Elyan can't hold it back this time. "It's fine, Da, I'm fine."

Da sighs. "I just want you to be happy, son."

"I know." Elyan hangs up with a lump in his throat and squeezes his eyes shut for just a moment. It's long enough to smack right into someone as he turns the corner, though.

"God, I'm so sorry, I didn't see you there."

"No, it was my fault." Elyan makes himself smile at the woman he bumped into, and then he looks at her properly, and it suddenly isn't so hard. "I was lost in thought. I should've been looking where I was going."

"I know how that goes," she says, chuckling. She pauses, then smiles, half-uncertain. "I'm Freya, by the way."

Elyan smiles a little wider, says, "Elyan. Nice to meet you."