Fandom: Merlin: Modern Day
Summary: Written for schmoop_bingo. Arthur is determined to find out why his best friend has been avoiding him and gets more than he bargained for.
Prompt: First Date
Disclaimer: Not mine, they belong to legend… and the BBC.
Part One| Part Two| Part Three| Part Four| Part Five| Part Six
There is a pub in South London that Merlin and Will found during their first week in London. For anyone who knew London, the north was where the Pendragons of the world lived, whereas the south was were the Wills and Merlins of the world could just about afford to live.
North London featured in films like Love Actually and Notting Hill, while south London was often the setting for films about drug abuse and prostitution.
The one bedroom flat that they had barely been able to afford, even with two other roommates, was a far cry from the home Merlin now shared with Arthur. It was funny that this dingy little pub was still their pub of choice. Merlin could still remember inviting Arthur out for birthday drinks and seeing the abject horror on the blonde’s face. He hadn’t been there five minutes before he was trying to convince them to let him take them to The Ivy instead, one of London’s most famous restaurants.
Yet Arthur had come back here, time and time again. Merlin suspected it was less about the place and more about the people.
The toilets were cramped, with only one toilet each and a little sink. The lock on the men’s room didn’t work so they had to go in pairs, with one guarding outside. So when the toilet door opened while Merlin was washing his hands, he knew it could only be Will.
“You know, the last time one of my mates followed me into the toilet I ended up getting snogged against a wall,” Merlin said with a cheeky grin, his eyes meeting Will’s in the mirror above the sink.
Will pulled a horrified face before shooting Merlin a wink. “Actually I just wanted to have a chat with you.”
“Is everything okay?” Merlin asked, drying his hands on some paper towels from the dispenser.
“I just… I wanted to say I’m sorry, yeah?” Will began, leaning against the thick wooden door.
“Oi, you’d better not be shagging in there, some of us ‘ave got ta piss,” came a disgruntled voice from outside.
“Fuck off,” Will shouted, thumping the door before walking over to lean against the sink so that he and Merlin were face to face. Merlin, though slightly embarrassed that someone thought they were having sex, smirked at how Will took it in his stride.
“Do you remember when we first met?” Will finally asked, running his hand through his hair.
“Yeah, of course. We were eight, you’d just moved down from Manchester and it was your first day at school,” Merlin answered with a fond smile. He remembered how some of the girls had loved Will’s northern accent, that he still retained to this day, thanks to his parents.
“And that little twat, wasshisname? He was picking on you,” Will reminded him.
Merlin laughed and nodded. “Yeah, Andrew Wells. He used to flick my ears and make fun of them. Then one day you were there, you saw him do it and you came over, pushed him down, and told him to sod off.”
Will laughed. “Yeah, even back then I had a gob on me.”
“I don’t understand though, what exactly are you apologizing for?” Merlin asked. “If this is about that Superman action figure you threw in the pond because Susie Dawson wanted to kiss me and not you then don’t worry about it, I forgave you twelve years ago.”
Will rolled his eyes. “It’s not about your stupid doll, it’s about Arthur.”
Merlin frowned, getting slightly worried that Will was about to confess to having done something to Arthur. “Okay, if you’ve thrown him in a pond then I will probably just find that funny.”
“I’ve been a right jealous twat,” Will confessed, pulling out a paper towel just to fiddle with. “I’ve been your best mate for the last thirteen years and you’ve only known Arthur a year. It felt like as soon as you met him he just replaced me.”
“Oh Will, no one could ever replace you,” Merlin assured him, striding forward to pull his friend into a hug. Will, as always, pretended to be put out at having to get all touchy feely, but Merlin knew he secretly liked it.
“Yeah but, it’s okay, I get it now. He hasn’t replaced me as your best friend, he’s just… well, you love him, don’t you? He’s your boyfriend now, and I’m still your best friend,” Will tried to explain. “So, like I said, I shouldn’t have felt like you were replacing me, ‘cos all you were really doing was falling in love.”
Merlin let his friend go and thought over what he had said. “Yeah, I think I was falling in love with him months before I even realized it.”
There was another impatient bang on the door and before Will could shout anything, and quite probably get himself into a fight, Merlin opened the door, smiling apologetically at the large, gruff man as he passed.
Gwen was just coming back from the bar when the two friends arrived back at their little corner table. “I got you an orange juice, Merlin. Arthur said you’re on pain killers?”
Merlin rolled his eyes and plonked himself down on the bench beside a smirking Arthur. “I only took them because apparently my constant moaning about how much pain I was in was annoying his highness.”
“It’s only a sprained wrist. The doctor said you’d be fine in a day or two,” Arthur pointed out, taking both his and Merlin’s drinks off the tray that Gwen had placed in the middle of the table.
“It still bloody hurts,” Merlin protested, pouting as he turned more towards Will than Arthur.
“Well that’ll teach you not to go running through the flat with your trousers down around your ankles,” Arthur commented, surprised by how Merlin stiffened and looked down into his glass worriedly.
“What were you doing running around with your pants down?” Morgana asked, her high arched left eyebrow rising.
“Nothing. I was just in a hurry to get into the shower and started undressing on the way there,” Merlin mumbled.
Will, sensing his friend’s discomfort, and knowing the real reason Merlin had been in such a hurry, came to his rescue, or at least it was a rescue in Will’s backward thinking brain. “And it’s your right wrist too, no wanking for a while mate.”
Arthur huffed beside Merlin and Merlin could see him out of the corner of his eye pulling out his phone. It was only a few seconds later that Merlin’s own phone started vibrating in his pocket, and he awkwardly pulled it out to read the text Arthur had just sent him.
WHAT THE HELL EMERYS? ARE YOU ASHAMED TO BE WITH ME OR SOMETHING?
Merlin sighed. Why couldn’t Arthur just understand that he didn’t want the rest of their friends knowing about them? He could already envision Gwen’s sympathy and Morgana’s anger at Arthur when this thing between then inevitably went bad. He didn’t want Arthur to seem like the bad guy when really he was just trying to do something nice, in his own strange way.
Of course not. I just think it’s too soon. What if in a week you change your mind, think about how pissed off Morgana will be at you.
“Are you two texting each other?” Gwen asked in amusement. “You realize you’re sitting right next to each other?”
“I miss Lance,” came Will’s second attempt at getting the spotlight off of Merlin. “I don’t like being out in odd numbers.”
“Then why didn’t you bring your girlfriend?” Morgana asked, her eyes still firmly on her step-brother.
“Are you mad, there’s no way in hell you’re ever meeting her,” Will insisted.
“Awww, worried that if she sees you and then me I’ll turn her gay?” Morgana asked with a playful wink.
“No. Though now you’ve said that it’s given my wank bank something new.” Gwen cringed while Morgana just laughed. “But no, the reason you lot will never meet her is because you’ll probably become friends with her, and then when I’m a total twat to her you’ll take her side.”
“It really does frighten me when I sort of see where he’s coming from,” Merlin confessed quietly.
There was a brief lull in the conversation and Merlin risked a glance over at Arthur, hoping to see that he had lightened up a bit, however, Arthur just looked hurt, staring down into his beer with a constant frown.
It was much later in the evening when the five friends all stood outside on the curb, hailing down taxis. Will still lived within walking distance so after many drunken hugs he wondered off.
“Is Sophia going to be your plus one tomorrow night?” Morgana asked Arthur, bringing him out of his bad mood for a second.
“Oh shit, the Mid Summer’s Eve Ball is tomorrow.”
Gwen shook her head in disbelief. “How can you have forgotten? It’s magical; I’ve been looking forward to it ever since we went last year.”
The Mid Summer’s Eve Ball was a masquerade ball held every mid summer’s eve in an upscale hotel hall that was transformed, somehow, into a beautiful dreamlike enchanted forest. Tickets were sold in pairs and cost five hundred pound per pair. It was something Arthur had been going to since he was eighteen, due to his father’s insistence that the Pendragons were expected to be there.
It was terribly romantic, with everyone dressing like characters from the Shakespeare play A Mid Summer’s Night Dream and dancing to a string quartette. To Arthur it was a nightmare. He was expected to take a date to these things but girls would inevitably get taken in by the romanticism of the evening and expect more from Arthur than he was willing to give.
“No,” he answered simply. “I dumped her.”
“When?” Morgana asked, clearly not surprised.
“Last Friday. Merlin will be my plus one tomorrow.”
Merlin looked at him in abject horror. “Me? I don’t think that’s a good idea. I don’t even have a costume.”
“Merlin?” Gwen asked, clearly amused by the idea. “You want to take Merlin on what is probably the most romantic date of the social year?”
Merlin could see Arthur grow more and more frustrated and he could only freeze as he realized what was going through the blonde’s mind. Arthur strode over to him, grabbed him by his collar, and pulled him into a quick but hard kiss, which made Merlin feel light headed.
“There,” Arthur said, pleased with himself as he turned back to his sister, who didn’t look shocked in the least and was in fact smiling knowingly at him. “Merlin is my plus one and yes we are together. And Merlin,” he said, turning to face his brightly flushed boyfriend. “Whatever issues you’ve got about my sincerity then they are your issues, not mine, and I’m certainly not going to lie to people about what we are to each other.”
Merlin could only stare at him, his mouth agape.
Arthur held out his hand as a black cab came near, making it slow before finally stopping before them. “Right, good. Now that’s all sorted can you find him a costume?” he asked Morgana who he noticed was still smiling.
“Of course. We’ll all meet at yours tomorrow evening and go together shall we?” she said casually, causing her girlfriend to turn and look at her like maybe she hadn’t just seen her brother maul his best friend.
“Perfect,” Arthur replied with a grin. He grabbed Merlin’s uninjured wrist and pulled him toward the cab, seeing that he was still seemingly in a state of shock. “See you tomorrow then.”
“Uh umph,” was all Merlin could muster as his boyfriend pushed him into the car.