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Merlin became a part of Arthur’s life completely by accident.

First there was Arthur, all by himself because his father and sister didn’t count. They were like shadows that spun outwards from his feet, one to the right and one to the left. When he kicked out, they spiralled and shivered, rippling across the pavements and being just what they were: shadows.

Arthur couldn’t explain what Merlin was in comparison, not really. Not except that he was the brightest thing—a thing that jerked and annoyed and jolted beneath his skin, crackling like a hot hot fire that burned his flesh and warmed the numb tips of his fingers. He couldn’t ever say that, though. It wasn’t something that ever came out of a person’s mouth: ‘I know a man who dents the ground with his smile and slices the sky and opens up my veins’.

“I hate you.” Arthur had told him with a conviction he hadn’t felt, the last time Merlin kissed him, because Merlin only bloody kissed him when it was a joke. It was a joke and Arthur had never understood Merlin, because Merlin didn’t flicker like a shadow flickers. He flickered like a candle and Arthur couldn’t stand the distortion.

“No you don’t,” Merlin whispered, lips pink and glistening, eyes baby blue and captivating. Arthur wanted touch them, his fingers moving without permission to the lines around them that spindled out across his face. “No, no, no you don’t.”

“No, I don’t,” Arthur repeated, jostling closer, pushing Merlin back against the wall, or maybe it was a table or a bed. It was solid though, and Merlin squirmed against it, smiling. “But you don’t love me, really. You love girls and...and not me. This is a joke.”

“No, Arthur.” Merlin wasn’t supposed to be here—he never would have been there if they hadn’t accidently bumped into each other, and it hadn’t been raining and Merlin’s hair hadn’t been a complete mess. But Merlin was there, and Arthur kissed him again, carefully. Something twirled in his stomach when Merlin touched him, and he gasped and let it happen, let it let it let it happen.

Even though he shouldn’t.

Even though Merlin light was too bright light and burnt his eyes out.

“You love me, don’t you? You’ll come with me. You’ll come, come with me, Arthur.”

“Where?”

“Here, Arthur, here. Then everywhere, we’ll go everywhere, won’t we?”

Arthur shook his head as fire licked up his spine and he felt his bones melt. He couldn’t go everywhere; he had things to do here. He had a job, after all, and a life.

“Don’t shake your head, Arthur,” Merlin’s own head was thrown back. His chin cast a darkness down over the white of his neck, and he swallowed. “Promise me, please.”

Merlin wasn’t supposed to be there, and one day Merlin would go and Arthur wouldn’t be able to bring him back. Merlin was magic and Arthur was ordinary, Merlin was was was the sun.

Merlin.”

“Yes.”

“I promise.”

“Everywhere?”

“Anywhere.”