Arthur tried to shrug his friends’ teasing off and took the turn into the empty classroom. If he had paid a bit more attention to class than to footie, he wouldn’t have to do this. But his grades had taken a nosedive and he knew he needed help. Too proud to ask for it – a Pendragon never asked for help – he had waited even longer until Mr. Yearwood forced him to come here. This way, he could at least pretend that he wasn’t here on his own account and maintain his image.
The room was still empty and Arthur checked the time on his mobile. He had been on time, why was he alone now? The bloke should at least have the decency to show up on time. Another five minutes passed, in which Arthur had taken out his book, his notepad and a pen and then started to watch funny videos on his phone. This was a waste of time! Just as he decided to go to the school’s office to tell them that his tutor hadn’t shown up, the door opened.
A skinny bloke, all gangly limbs and black hair that didn’t even remotely resemble a decent hairdo, stumbled in, dropping a book and a few sheets of paper as he tried to juggle his backpack and a tray with two paper cups. “Hi! Hi, I’m sorry!”
Arthur just watched. This catastrophe of a bloke was his tutor? He could barely walk without hurting himself, how was he supposed to know a lot about French and Maths? “Hi Sorry, you’re late.”
The bloke, who had hectically tried to set the paper tray and his backpack down without dropping more things and to pick up the book and the papers, stopped his movement and looked at Arthur. For a moment, Arthur forgot to breathe; those were the bluest eyes he’d ever seen. But then he noticed that the bloke was laughing and that irritated him just as much as the colour of the guy’s eyes. “What’s so funny?”
“You.” Getting up, the book and the sheets pressed against his chest, the boy sat down. “That was a quite funny remark. Means you’re not as thick as they say you are, there’s hope.” He grinned and started to free the paper cups from the tray and held one out to Arthur. “Hi, I’m not only sorry for being late, I’m also Merlin and your tutor. Here, have a tea first.”
“I’m not here to drink tea with you.” Arthur had meant for it to sound hostile. He wanted this to be done and over with as soon as possible, it took away time from footie. But there was something so disarming in Merlin’s smile that he couldn’t help but smile back and reach for the tea. “Thanks.”
“Next time you’ll bring the tea.” Merlin winked.
Arthur just stared. That wink had made his insides flutter. It had been ages since he’d reacted to a boy like that but he couldn’t help it.
He tried to concentrate on what Merlin was telling him but was totally lost when Merlin moved his chair next to his, so they could look at his book together.
“What do you do after classes?”
Merlin threw him a confused look as he was interrupted mid-sentence. “Trying to teach you French and later Maths.”
“Why are you so good at both?”
“My uncle lives in France and I usually go there in summer and for Christmas, sometimes, and Maths is just logic, that’s easy.”
Arthur hardly heard a thing Merlin said, he just watched his lips moving and took in the animated way Merlin was talking in. He wanted to run his fingertips over the sharp cheekbones to see if they would cut his skin and over the absurdly sticking out ears that just added to Merlin’s…Merlinness.
Merlin got up, took a piece of chalk and wrote stuff on the black board, going into a long explanation why a certain grammatical structure was used that was different from English.
It was difficult to concentrate on what he was saying not just watching him move and talk, but Arthur even managed to take a few notes. The moments he was able to focus on Merlin’s words, the foreign language even started making sense!
He didn’t even notice how time went by as he scribbled notes and even asked questions when he still didn’t understand one thing or the other.
“Alright. That’s all for now, I think.” Merlin started packing his things and then he grinned. “What we talked about today tells me one thing about you.”
Arthur perked up.
“You’re not dumb, you’re just lazy. Memorize the vocabulary, the grammar gets a lot easier when you know which words to use.” The grin on Merlin’s face got impossibly wider. “Okay.” He picked up his backpack. “That’s it.”
Merlin was leaving, he couldn’t allow that. He hadn’t found out everything he wanted to know. Arthur started to panic. “What do you mean?”
Arthur’s heart was beating hard. He couldn’t allow Merlin to slip out like this. “Can I…” Usually, he had no difficulties at all asking someone out but now he heard his blood rushing in his ears. “Can I see you again?” He held his breath.
There was a slight blush on Merlin’s face, before he laughed. “You won’t get rid of me so easily. We still have a lot of work to do before your grades are back on track. See you Wednesday for Maths.” He opened the door, about to leave, when he turned back. “Don’t forget to bring tea!”