If Merlin was honest, there was only one reason why he walked Uncle Gaius' adorable but rather dumb goldie Ginny in this part of the park. It was about as tall as him, blond, blue-eyed and had the best laugh he'd ever heard. It also played football with his friends here on Sunday afternoons and if Merlin wasn't mistaken, it answered to the name of Arthur. So Ginny got a lot more workout than usual when Merlin decided to walk yet another round that would lead him to the field again.
Merlin didn't know much about American football, only what he couldn't avoid when his friends dragged him to their annual SuperBowl thing. He just went for the party, but he couldn't help understanding a lot about the sport, kind of just by accident.
So when he once again just stood there, pretending to let Ginny sniff at some interesting patch of grass, while he actually was watching the blond god who had chosen to discard of his t-shirt on this hot summer day, the egg-shaped ball flew into his direction. Without even thinking, Merlin let go of the dog's leash, caught the ball and started off to the other end of the field.
Later, he would claim that he had dodged so many players and ran just faster than everyone else, but truth was that the group of friends that played together was so surprised by the stranger getting involved in their game that nobody really went after him.
Shortly before he reached the end zone - an imaginary line marked by two water bottles - Ginny caught up with him and tried to jump up. Which inevitably led into Merlin's foot getting caught in the leash and him tumbling and almost face-planting into the end zone. Ginny was all over him, wagging her tail, licking his face enthusiastically, so he hardly heard the clapping and cheering from the guys on the field.
Only when someone stepped into his line of vision, Merlin managed to shove the dog aside.
"This was definitely my favourite big play of the day." The blond held out his hand and pulled Merlin up. "How long have you been playing?"
Merlin rubbed the side of his head where it had connected with the ground but couldn't find any damage, just some sand which he shook off. "You've just witnessed my very first contact with the ball."
A surprised laugh escaped the blond. "No kidding! You're never played football before?"
"Nope. And I didn't intend to ever do it."
"Wow." The blond nodded. "You're a natural. Care to join us?" He grabbed a water bottle and drank from it.
Merlin's insides did funny things as he watched the Adam's apple bop. "I'm not really...I should take Ginny home first." He looked around for the dog that he had completely forgotten.
He didn't need to look far as the dog was demanding skritches from every single one of the players.
"It's late already, I need to leave. See you next Sunday." One of the taller guys yelled over, grabbed his bag, patted Ginny again and then left.
"Yeah, let's call it a day." Another one said and reached for his towel.
An awkward little silence spread.
"I think I should..."
"Maybe we..." They started at the same time and then laughed.
"You first," Arthur grinned.
"I thought...now that practice is over...you might be interested in an iced tea? There's a nice little shop just at the corner over there. And maybe I can convince you to play with us again?"
Merlin beamed and nodded. He wasn't too fond of iced tea, but the thought of playing with Arthur, yes, that thought could hold his interest.