Chapter 1: The Beginning
Their first kiss had been fleeting, nothing more than a quick brush of lips, but both boys had reeled back at it with flushed cheeks at the mass of giggles from their two friends that were watching them. They looked at one another, really looked, before the elder of the two gave a haughty scoff and declared his younger companion an awful kisser, a declaration that the younger demanded an explanation too.
“Your lips are cold! What kind of kiss is cold?”
Pouting at the elder’s words the dark haired youth licked his lips and caught the taste of ice-cream still fresh on then from the cone he’d had minutes before. “You’re a prat Arthur.” He declared suddenly.
Grinning from ear to ear Arthur looked his younger friend over before glancing at Gwen and Morgana to make sure they hadn’t run off. “At least I’m not a bad kisser Mer-lin.”
The conversation dissolved quickly into an argument from there but the small group of pre-teens didn’t think too much of the dare or resulting fight once the hour was over. One fact did remain through the years though, even as the dare faded in memory.
Their first kiss had been cold.
Chapter 2: Immortal
When Merlin reached out for his hand behind Arthur’s first instinct was to ignore it but the bitter sob all but ripped from sunny little Gwen had him reaching out and clasping Merlin’s thin hand in his own. Funerals were not uncommon in their suburban village but in almost every case everyone knew that the death was coming, it was these sudden deaths that rattled the small community. This time more so than others because it was Gwen’s father Tom, the mechanic that everyone knew and Gwen’s only living relative in the village.
“They make you think they’ll always be there for you.” Merlin whispered suddenly, low enough only Arthur could hear. “It’s the best lie anyone can tell and parents are good at it.”
It was true and Arthur knew that watching Gwen was bringing back memories of the the private little funeral Merlin had attended when his father’s plane went down, knew the smaller boy was probably fighting the sting of bitter tears. Arthur knew because he was fighting them too while he thought about his mother who had always been weak and how the year before she had passed and been buried in their family plot not twenty steps away.
This death though carried another bitter edge to it. Gwen didn’t have any family in the village and her estranged mother and brother had settled lives elsewhere which meant that all too soon their little band of four was going to be cut by one.
Parents, Arthur thought, really are cruel.