He never fully understood why he felt the way he did. He would spot him from across the cafeteria. The way his gaze drifted towards the elf-like eared man within any room baffled the young man. The way this…mere man made him begotten with so much of his presence…and the dance that spun between them started with an unfortunate run-in in the hallways. It was a simple bump of the shoulders; and, while it wasn’t strong enough to knock down one of his friends on the football team, it was enough to send Merlin crashing to the ground – his textbooks and papers spewing around the titled floor.
Arthur stood bewildered for a moment, his mates laughing loudly at the teen that was scrambling to pick up his belongings. Torn between doing the right thing and fitting in with the crowd, Arthur watched as Merlin gathered the last of his things and held them close to his chest. He was still on the back of his heels, hesitant to stand and his head bowed.
“Oi, leaning how to walk on your knees?” gaffed one of Arthur’s football mates.
Merlin’s head snapped up, his blue eyes narrowed, “Shove off,”
Arthur frowned, “Hey…”
“Shut up, prat,” Merlin snapped, “Ever heard of watching where you’re going? Or saying sorry?”
Arthur blinked and watched as Merlin scrambled away, the man pushing his shoulder into Arthur’s as he brushed by. Arthur sighed and shook his head as Merlin ducked into the nearby science room; his friends once again laughing. “Come on, we have practice.”
Hearing a crunch, Arthur peered down and blinked. A notebook, torn and obviously used extensively, lay forgotten on the floor. Glancing up, Arthur saw that his friends were halfway down the hallway. He quickly bent down and grabbed it. Flipping it open, he saw the sprawl on the inside cover that spelled out the name Merlin Emrys.
Sighing, Arthur flipped the notebook shut and quickly slipped it among his before trotting to his friends. He threw an arm around Leon’s shoulders and smiled as he and his mates headed to the football field.
Arthur wiped the sweat from his brow, the young athlete running through the forest preserve, the path winding around the lake. The sun was beginning to set and he was rushing to finish his last mile before heading home. With a huff, he pushed himself forward. A figure made him slow down, his pace falling to a mere walk as his blue eyes honed in on the edge of the lake.
Hesitantly, Arthur made his way forward. “Hey,”
“Know any other words?”
Frowning, Arthur stood up and put his hands on his hips, “Do you know who I am?”
“Arthur Pendragon, son of the Mayor, star footballer of Camelot High, and an insufferable dollop-head.” Merlin answered, his eyes shifting up as a cheeky smirk spread upon his lips.
“Dollop…head…” Arthur repeated, slowly, “Is that even a word.”
“What does it mean then, hmm?” Arthur remarked, smirking.
“In the shortest amount of words?”
“That would be best.”
Arthur sighed and plopped down beside Merlin, “You know, I didn’t mean to bump into you today,”
Merlin sighed and rested his head on his knees, “I know, but your mates…aren’t exactly the kindest people.”
Arthur frowned, “How so?”
Merlin snorted, “And why, pray tell, should I tell you? You’re practically their king.”
“If I am their so-called king…then shouldn’t I have the power to fix what is wrong?” Arthur whispered.
Merlin sighed and shook his heads, “It’s just the woes of being different. Nothing serious.”
“If its dragging you down then it’s obviously serious,” Arthur muttered, his hand coming to rest on Merlin’s on the grass.
Merlin glanced up at the blond, his own blue eyes accentuated by the fading sunlight. Black hair stuck to his forehead while a few wayward strands stood in the back. A cartoonish wizard hat piercing decorated the man’s large right ear, while three hoops were in the left one. A dark red scarf was wrapped around the thin neck and its tails drifted and hid part of the Slayer symbol on the dark blue shirt.
“Well, if the problems stem from being….different,” Arthur murmured, “Then, why be…”
“Because this is who I am.” Merlin stated proudly, “Why should I change for a bunch of prats that can’t accept that there are people out there that aren’t great athletes or whatever else your bunch is.”
Arthur nodded and turned his attention back to the lake. The crescent moon now shined brightly in the clear water, a soft breeze blowing through the area. He felt Merlin shiver, the man standing up. Arthur mirrored the action, the two teens standing awkwardly. Merlin glanced up, his head slightly bowed, “Uh, thanks I guess?”
Arthur shrugged, “It was no problem.”
Merlin smiled and chuckled. His glanced back up at Arthur before his gaze fell to his feet once more. Arthur, boldly, took a step forward and leaned to whisper into Merlin’s ear, “Pool. Tomorrow. Noonish.” Before walking away, a smirk on his lips the whole way back home.
“The bloody prices went up!” Arthur growled, the man gripping his towel tightly, “Why the hell did the prices go up!”
“Maybe you should ask your father,” Leon remarked, a frown on the man’s face as well.
Arthur rolled his eyes but turned back towards the county pool, “I don’t want to drive back and get more money,” he grumbled, “I knew Father should’ve opened the pool earlier.”
“Should’ve, would’ve,” Gwaine remarked, a large grin on his face, “We could just head back and raid your father’s liquor cabinet again.”
“Can’t. Morgana is with Gwen in the house doing something undoubtedly girly,”
“Oh, look who decided to suddenly appear,”
Arthur watched as Valiant – a man that if Arthur was honest didn’t particularly like – saunter up to Merlin, the lithe man rolling his eyes and stood firm. Sighing, Arthur jogged up, “Merlin, you decided to come…although you’re late.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” Merlin drawled, “Although, it also appears that you all lack the ability to get into the pool,”
“The prices went up, and we brought just enough to get t in,” Arthur explained.
Merlin raised an eyebrow but without further explanation, Merlin walked towards the fence that kept the pool from public access. “Hey! Will!”
A lifeguard turned, a broad smile suddenly appeared on the young man’s face, “Merlin! What the hell are you doing here?”
“Well, was hopin’ to go swimming, but you know how my Mom is and Gaius.” Merlin rolled his eyes, “So, I was hoping…”
“You know I only have so much leeway dude,”
“Come on, you can get me and five other people in easy,” Merlin slightly begged, “I’ll pay you back. I’ll get you a McFlurry or something.”
Will narrowed his eyes, “Last time Merlin, I swear.”
“Yeah, yeah. Just work your magic.”
Will smirked, “I believe that’s your department, but I’ll see what I can do.”
Merlin grinned and leaned against the fence, “There.”
Arthur let out a laugh of disbelief before impulsively hugging Merlin, “You…are awesome.”
Merlin blinked before wrapping his arms around Arthur quickly before the two men detached from each other. Arthur grinned and tugged on the blue towel that was wrapped around Merlin’s neck, “Let’s go swimming.”
Merlin grinned and followed Arthur into the pool area, his smile widening when he felt Leon pat him on the back and Gwaine cheer.
Quickly, the hours passed. Merlin found himself warming up to Leon and Gwaine, the dark haired man very loud and apparently liked alcohol from the amount that he talked about it. Lancelot hovered behind him often as if a protective shadow, but Merlin would be lying if he didn’t think he was nice company with his compassionate nature.
Merlin peered up, his eyes involuntarily squinting as he faintly made out Arthur’s silhouette. The blond held out a bottle of water, to which Merlin took gratefully. “Thanks, but I thought you didn’t have enough money.”
Arthur sat beside Merlin on the cheap, lawn chair, “We didn’t have enough money to get into the pool, not no money at all,”
Merlin took a few swigs of the water, “Why don’t you play water basketball with your mates? I don’t need a babysitter.”
Arthur shrugged and leaned back, “I’m done for a bit; plus, you did get us in the pool be kind of bad if I didn’t at least sit with you for five minutes.”
Merlin frowned, “I’m not an obligation.”
Arthur’s eyes widened slightly before he sat up, “No. I know that.”
“Didn’t sound like it,” Merlin mumbled before taking a sip of water.
Arthur sighed heavily before shifting forward, his arm coming up to wrap around Merlin’s shoulders, “I…apologize. I didn’t mean for it to come out like that.”
Merlin nodded, his head bowed as his thumb ghosted over the white cap of the water bottle. Arthur cocked an eyebrow when he saw Merlin’s eyes glance at him before shifting back to the water. Chuckling, Arthur leaned closer to Merlin, his ear centimeters from his mouth, “You know, I don’t have all bloody night, idiot, if you think I want it, then I probably do.”
Merlin’s head whirled around, blue eyes wide. “You..wha…”
Arthur laughed before brushing his lips against Merlin’s, “Idiot.”
Merlin smirked, “Prat.”
Days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to months. Quickly, snow covered the grass and trees were bare, then as school dismissed, the two of them watched as buds blossomed on the trees in the parks. Most of the time, the couple found themselves in Arthur’s house, curled up on the large couch watching movies with a bowl of popcorn between them. “There was enough room,” Merlin mumbled, his arms crossed over his chest.
Arthur laughed and plucked a piece of popcorn from the bowl, “It’s a movie,”
“Still! Jack could’ve lived if Rose moved her bloody ass over,” Merlin grumbled.
Arthur shook his head and pecked the top of Merlin’s head, “Calm down idiot, it’s a movie.”
“Prat,” Merlin muttered as he burrowed deeper into Arthur’s chest, “So, you’re coming over next week, right?”
“Yes. Seven o’clock right?”
Merlin nodded, “Promise you won’t run away?”
Arthur snorted, “It’s going to take more than your parents to push me away,”
Merlin mouthed the words as his attention was slowly being pulled back by the end of the movie, “You haven’t met them yet,”
Summer took over and one night the blond found himself in front of a plain, everyday house. Arthur took a deep breath and hesitantly knocked on the plain white door of the small house. The door flung open, an middle-aged woman grinning behind the screen door, “You must be Arthur!”
“Uh, yes ma’am.”
“Hunith, please,” she said, “Come in, come in. Dinner is almost ready.”
Arthur took a step forward and instantly spotted Merlin on the couch, the young man kneading his forehead and shaking his head. Glancing up, he smiled when he saw Arthur and stood. “You can still run,” Merlin offered.
Arthur smirked and pecked Merlin’s lips, “I should at least get some free food before bolting.”
“Typical you,” Merlin said, rolling his eyes, “Stomach first.”
Arthur merely grinned and wrapped an arm loosely around Merlin’s waist as they headed into the kitchen, “Where’s Gaius?”
“He got caught up at work, so I’m afraid it will be just us three,” Hunith said as she took something out of the oven, “Merlin, please get the plates from the cupboard.”
- Merlin nodded and quickly trotted over, the lithe man stretching to reach the small stack of plates on the top shelf as Hunith placed the tray of meatloaf onto the table. Arthur couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at the slight color difference but fixed a smile on his face when Hunith turned around to put the mashed potatoes onto the table.
Settling into a seat, Arthur couldn’t help but stare at the meatloaf as Hunith cut it and started dishing it out. It was just…a strange shade and Arthur couldn’t help but be confused. Hesitantly, he stabbed it and took a bite, his lips twitching as he tasted the obviously not-meat meatloaf. Hunith chuckled, “Oh, I’m sorry dear; I thought you knew Merlin was a vegetarian.”
Arthur glanced up at his boyfriend’s mother, “I must’ve forgotten.” He mumbled.
“Well, if you don’t-“
“No, its fine,” Arthur quickly said, “Delicious actually,” he added as he took another bite, forcing back his gag reflex as he choked it down. Feeling his knee being squeeze, he glanced at Merlin, the man smiling thankfully at him.
Arthur couldn’t help but allow a small smile on his lips. So he had a bad dinner, but it was worth it.
“I’m sorry,” Merlin whispered, “I should’ve made Mum make a hamburger or something,”
Arthur chuckled, “I’ll live one night without a proper meal Merlin.”
Arthur rolled his eyes, “Merlin, shut up. It’s fine, don’t fret.”
Merlin sighed, his eyes slightly narrowing as he led Arthur onto the porch, “Well, at least your passed Mum’s little test.”
“Test? What test?” Arthur blinked.
Merlin laughed, “If anyone can eat that fake meat, they pass in my mum’s eyes. Took her a year and half before she could even cook with it.”
“Why are you vegetarian anyways?” Arthur inquired, the football player leaning against the small fence.
“Never really like meat, and after I got food poisoning the one time I did, I kind of vowed I never eat it again,” Merlin explained with a small chuckle.
Arthur smirked and reached out to grab Merlin’s wrist, “Now I know why you’re so thin now. No meat on your bones.”
Merlin grumbled, “You’re not the first one to say that, so don’t think you’re original.”
“God forbid,” Arthur snickered, his arms loosely wrapped Merlin’s waist, “I have something for you.”
Merlin leaned back, “And what could that be?”
Arthur grinned and pulled out a small silver band from his back pocket, ““Without you, my heart would be blue. So I was wondering…” he stammered, suddenly nervous.
Merlin smirked and slipped the ring from Arthur’s grasp, “You know, I don’t have all damn night, prat, but if you think I want it…then I defiantly do.” He whispered as he slipped the band onto his ring finger, “This is going to cause problems, you do realize that.”
Arthur merely shrugged, “We’ll face them, and get through them.”
‘That bloody prat!’ Merlin thought as he followed his peers down the hallway, the dark red graduation robe bellowing around him as he sped walk, the ceremony delayed due to rain.
He forced a smile on his face as he entered the gym, the parents and family members cheering loudly as the graduating class weaved into their seats. Once he spotted the familiar head of blond, Merlin turned away, his mood quickly darkening once more and a frown on his lips.
Arthur sat behind him a few rows, but Merlin could feel the blue eyes on him. Soon, everyone was in their seats and the boring speeches began. Merlin frowned as he felt his pocket vibrate. Reaching into his pocket, Merlin glanced at his cell phone. He opened the small envelope and held back a loud sigh.
Arthur : Are you done being mad yet?
Rolling his eyes, Merlin quickly typed back his response : Me : Are you going to tell me why you’ve been an utter prat for the past few days?
When no response came, Merlin shoved his phone back into his pocket and frowned. While he loved the blond, there were days that Merlin wanted to shove the man into a hole and never return. Hearing the first names being called up, Merlin’s head perked up. It was almost over.
Merlin stood and walked confidently up to the small platform, the principal standing with a small black folder that held his diploma and had a large smile on her face. “One minute Merlin,”
Merlin blinked and looked at the elderly woman, “Uh…”
The dark-haired man turned and raised an eyebrow as Arthur strolled up to the platform. With a smirk, Arthur took the microphone from the principal and spoke, “Merlin, we’ve had our ups and down, hell, we just had a row days ago. And to answer your question, this is why I’ve been a right prat for the past few weeks,” Arthur bent down on one knee, ““Without you, my heart would be blue. And I know you want this, but I’m still wondering…”
Merlin chuckled, the familiar line breaking the tenseness that the proposal had. Reaching out, he took the ring and placed it above the ring he had on before, ““I don’t have all night, but you’re right, so make your move.”
Arthur grinned and stood up. Wrapping his arms around his lover, Arthur passionately kissed him, the cheers echoing around them, a few grumblings being ignored. Merlin grinned against Arthur’s lips as he reached up and cupped Arthur’s face. “I love you,” Arthur whispered, his forehead against Merlin’s
“I love you too….now can I get my diploma?”