Title: As If Everybody Here Would Know Exactly What I Was Talking About
Pairing: Merlin/Arthur, background Gwen/Morgana
Rating: Fluffy PG
Word Count: ~6700
Warnings: Fluff, some mild high school style bullying, mentions of homophobia, and it's an American modern AU which means Merlin says Mom not Mum (it's hard for me even to write it, I know). Finally, my knowledge of the X-Men is limited to what I remember reading in the 90s, the movies, and Joss Whedon's run on Astonishing. Feel free to let me know when I've made an egregious error.
Author's Note: Big thanks to [info]powderedmilk for making my story all around presentable to other people. All mistakes and errors are my own.
Kink_Meme Prompt: Can be found here: "Arthur/Merlin. X-men crossover. Arthur lives at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters and Merlin is a super-powerful mutant with more talents than should be possible. They meet by chance (or, are enemies maybe?) but can't help themselves. Or, you know, something along those lines."
Summary: Merlin is new at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning and gets off to a very rocky start with another student, Arthur Pendragon.
"Hi, my name is Guinevere." The girl said sitting down next to him on the grass and offering her hand. "But most people call me Gwen."
Merlin sat up and brushed the grass off his shoulders before returning the handshake. "My name is Merlin, but most people just call me Idiot." He said, spitting out some grit. They both watched the retreating form of the student named Arthur who had just knocked Merlin to the ground. Merlin still didn't know what he'd done to deserve that except maybe have the audacity to talk back to him.
"Actually, I think it's just the one." Gwen said smiling back at him. "Still it was brave to stand up to him on your first day at the school. Most people aren't that brave when dealing with someone as brawny as Arthur, especially when strength and agility are part of his, um, talents." She stopped, and then started backtracking, waving her hands in front of her face. "Not that you're not brawny. I'm sure you're plenty strong. And I have no idea what you can do. I mean for all I know you're stronger than Spider-Man or Beast. Or both. Combined. It's just that you don't look that muscle-y. And-" She stopped and seemed to replay what she had said before continuing. "And I'm going to stop right here and we can pretend I didn't say anything how's that?"
He smiled briefly at her before he said to Arthur's retreating back, "It's nice to know that even in this safe haven from bigots everywhere, I still manage to find the bullies." A gorgeous bully, he added to himself, but a bully nonetheless.
"Oh, Arthur's okay once you get to know him. He's just him, sometimes." She said as if that cleared up anything. "I bet he's just jealous of you." Merlin had a hard time believing that anyone who looked and acted like Arthur would be jealous of someone like him. "I mean, we all saw your Mom say good-bye to you out front this morning."
"God, that was embarrassing." Merlin said, resting his head on his palms. And a bit sad, Merlin thought.
His Mom was worried that even at this new school, Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, he wouldn't fit in. Merlin could do amazing stuff – telekinesis, pyrokenesis, slow down time-esis. He'd been powerful since he was a toddler from what his Mom told him, but in the last few years he'd become so strong he'd lost the edge of his limits. It scared him, and he was pretty sure it scared his Mom as well. She loved him, he knew that, and she wasn't scared of him, but it wasn't a good time to be a mutant and it really wasn't a good time to be a mutant with limitless powers. After a lot of talks with his Mom and with Will (and finding out he didn't need financial aid to attend the school), they had both decided that he might learn more about who he was and find his limits in a place made for mutants than he would in a normal high school.
Which was all well and good until they were on the front steps of the school. Then she started crying and hugging him in front of everyone. She would hug him, start to leave, only to turn around and hug him again. She did this five or six times until Professor Summers persuaded her that he'd be late for his orientation if she didn't let him go.
Gwen's pursed her lips and glared at Merlin. "Don't be embarrassed. Most of the kids here would give an arm to have a parent who cared enough to drop them off at the steps, let alone cry over them. Arthur's parents dropped him and his sister off at age 11 and have all but disowned them. Lots more of the other students came here as runaways after their parents kicked them out."
Now he felt like a giant jerk. He knew he had an amazing Mom, not that he would ever admit that out loud, but he didn't realize how awesome she was. "Great. You know what? I think Idiot is a pretty good name for me." He stood up and then turned around to offer Gwen a hand up, but she was already in the process of standing.
"You're new here, and you at least have a parent who still loves you. You're not an idiot, you're just lucky."
Even though Arthur had been the one to push Merlin down on the grass, Merlin was going to consider it water under the bridge. He didn't need to make an enemy on his first day of class. He'd assumed that Arthur would leave him alone which meant, of course, that he didn't. Instead, he declared war on Merlin. By the end of his first day Merlin was already tired of the abuse. Mostly, Arthur and his friends mocked Merlin while he walked down the hallway, but they weren't above tripping him, or accidently bumping into him while he was carrying something. Like maybe his tray full of lunch.
He tried to ignore the heckling, especially since Arthur seemed to want to get rise out of him. It was bound to make things worse if he gave Arthur what he wanted. He really tried, but the morning of his third day Arthur opened his arms wide and inviting a punch to his (pretty) smug face and said, "Oh, come on." And there was no way anyone could blame Merlin for what he did. No way.
He turned around and started to take off his hoodie, teeth grinding together and squinting at Arthur. He didn't care if he'd accidently pissed off Arthur his first minutes at school, or if Arthur's home life sucked, Merlin did not deserve to be bullied.
Of course, seeing Merlin preparing himself for a fight just spurred Arthur and his friends to laughter, which made Merlin blush a little, but damn it, he was not going to take this.
"You think you can take me on?" Arthur said.
Merlin didn't trust he voice not to break with anger, so he just nodded. When Arthur didn't move, Merlin shrugged his shoulders as if to imply "unless you're scared." With that Arthur was on him faster than Merlin could track. He was plowed back into a hallway wall and all the air was knocked out of him. He gasped for breath and tried to push Arthur off him, only using his powers a bit to help him, the way he used to when he got in fights in Ealdor.
Arthur stumbled back looking a bit surprised before he was back in Merlin's face throwing a punch. Merlin slowed down time and ducked Arthur's fist which went through the wooden wall behind Merlin. Arthur howled in pain. Merlin dodged away, smirking a bit at Arthur. He looked like he was about to run after Merlin when a large blue, furry hand grasped his shoulder.
"While we believe in training in the use of our powers even in combat, I also believe our regulations provide other avenues for venting the frustrations that come up between young people." Merlin, who was breathing hard more from the excitement of being in a fight than from exertion, was glaring at Arthur. He could feel himself blush again, this time in shame at being lectured like he was a five year old. "I also believe our regulations provide punishment for fighting outside of structured areas. And," he glanced over at the hole in the wall, "they provide penalties for those who destroy school property while in full control of their powers."
With that Merlin and Arthur were hauled off for more lecturing by Professor Summers who gave them a month's worth of detention and maintenance of the school grounds. Together. There was a warning that their parents would be called if they were caught fighting again. Merlin didn't miss the tightening of Arthur's jaw when Professor Summers said that.
After the meeting Arthur and he didn't speak, but the war continued. This time it was a slient, cold war.
Two days into his detention and Professor Summers was already asking him into his office.
"This isn't fair. I haven't done anything." Merlin whined, preempting anything the Professor had to say. "I've been good in class, I'm doing my chores, I've been on time to detention everyday so far. What could I possibly be doing wrong now?"
Professor Summer's looked sternly at Merlin, clearly waiting for him to shut up. Not that Merlin could read his expression that well, what with the visor that ate up half his face. "Merlin, please, could you sit down?"
Merlin sat down opposite the Professor with a thud.
"Thank you." He opened a plain manila folder on his desk, and Merlin could see his name printed neatly on the file tab. "Professor McCoy is done with your genetic evaluation. I don't know how to say this Merlin, but you're not a mutant."
"But I am. I have to be." Merlin said. How could he explain to the man sitting across from him that his whole life he had known he was a mutant, that he was different than the majority of people on earth? Calmly, Professor Summers explained Merlin didn't have the mutant gene, nor had he been genetically altered after birth, or been exposed to cosmic rays or any gamma radiation.
"We have to talk to your Mom, but if you want to stay here Merlin, we are willing to keep our doors open to you." Professor Summers offered. "Dr. McCoy is interested in following up his last round of tests with some more, if you and your Mother consent. But you have powers that need to be harnessed, and regardless of where they come from, Merlin, we would like you to stay here with us."
"I guess, I mean, I'd like to stay." Merlin said. He had been so sure that this school would be what he was looking for: a safe haven to explore his powers with others, who were just like he was. "But could you not tell the other students?"
Professor Summers studied him, and Merlin wished he could see the man's eyes to know what he was thinking. Finally, he said, "that's your choice, Merlin, but one the faculty will respect." He closed the open folder on his desk. "We'll talk again after I've had a chat with your Mother to decide what's going to happen, but I want you to leave this room knowing that we are happy to have you here Merlin."
Merlin survived the first week of school fairly well, news of his freakishness, detention, and war with Arthur Pendragon aside. Coming in at the beginning of the school year was making things a bit easier. Gwen was becoming a fast friend and had introduced him to her friend Morgana in fairly short order. She was Arthur's step-sister, or half-sister, he hadn't caught what their relationship was exactly. Despite the fact that, or maybe because, Arthur hated Merlin Morgana liked him right away.
"But one of the reasons you're here is to train your powers and get them under control right?" Morgana said, taking a bite out of an apple.
"I just don't see why I need to do this in front of the whole school."
"It's not in front of the whole school. It's only in front of a few professors and your peers, the ones who will be in your training group." Gwen offered from Morgana's side. "Everybody has to do this at one point, it's not a big deal." They at their lunch on the grass, outside enjoying the last heat of the Indian summer.
"My guess is that Mystery Man Merlin here is going to have everyone paying attention." Morgana said.
Gwen elbowed Morgana and stage whispered, "You're not helping."
Morgana just smiled a lazy, and Merlin would say smug, smile at Merlin and said, "What do you expect. You've not used your powers all week and none of the teachers are talking about it either. There are rumors everywhere. The biggest bets going are that you're a non-muntant spy with no powers, some ordinary mutant with some irrelevant but gross and embarrassing powers, or you're more powerful than Professor Grey was." Merlin followed Morgana and Gwen's glances over towards a statue in the courtyard of a beautiful woman. "My money's on irrelevant and gross."
"There's money being exchanged?" Merlin asked, mortified.
"No of course not." Gwen said and Merlin felt mollified. "It's all chore trading. We've got an equivalency board up in Zach's room."
Merlin let his head fall into his hands covering his face. "Great, just great. This is all…just…great."
"Told you he'd take it well." Morgana said, her voice sounding very pleased with herself.
"I hate you both." He mumbled into his hands.
Gwen was at the training session as well as a few other students he recognized. And Arthur. Merlin's traitorous heart leapt a little when he saw Arthur leaning on the far wall of the danger room. It was only a week and a half but he was already getting used to thinking his only nemesis at school was also the only one he was attracted to. When Arthur noticed him looking, Merlin gave him the stink eye for good measure. Arthur volleyed with a rude gesture, and Merlin would have replied in kind had not Professors Pryde and Frost came up to him and told him to get ready for some preliminary testing.
As they walked across the floor of the training room Merlin tried not to notice how all the students in the very large room were watching him, and hiding it badly. When he passed Gwen who was working on molding and shaping some metal sculpture, apparently with her mind, she stopped what she was doing to give him two big thumbs up. Merlin felt himself blush all the way up to his ears. He heard some laughter from behind him and recognized it as Arthur's and his friends. That probably meant they were watching too.
Professor Pryde put a reassuring hand on Merlin's shoulder and said, "Just do your best. They might give you a hard time today, but by tomorrow, no one will care."
Professor Frost said as she looked down on her clipboard, "Merlin Emrys."
"Uh, present." He said smiling at his joke. He thought it might ease the tension, well his tension, since he didn't know exactly what was expected of him here. Frost didn't seem amused.
"You've got an impressive list of talents." Merlin swore he could hear money exchanging hand behind him. Professor Frost's announcements were enough to make a lot of people lose a lot of bets. "You say your strongest is telekinesis." She pointed to a table with various objects, all of them relatively small and light. "Why don't we see if you can lift any of them."
Merlin rolled his eyes. He'd been levitating teddy bears to him from across his bedroom as a toddler. Last year he managed to uproot a tree in the forest near his apartment when Will dared him. The table was not going to give anyone an idea of what he could do. He proceeded to lift each object into the air starting from the smallest to the biggest, while the Professors took notes. Then he lifted the table itself. Then he turned around and lifted Gwen's giant metal statue off the ground and then Gwen along with the stool she was sitting on.
Professor Frost lifted an eyebrow at that and Merlin couldn't see Professor Pryde, but she did urge Merlin to put Gwen and her sculpture down gently. "What is the biggest thing you've ever lifted?" She asked.
"Last spring I uprooted an old oak tree near my house." He heard a gasp from nearby and a girl surrounded by rapidly growing plants was glaring at him. "I put it back. It's still alive!" He said.
Aside from the one huffy plant girl, it felt good to show people besides Will and his Mom what he could do, in a place where people might accept him and his weird gifts. He noticed there was a crowd growing, slowly letting their own practices slide as they watched him perform his preliminary tests. He noticed Gwen, and a little ways behind her, he saw Arthur watching as well.
After his display of telekinesis they had him light things on fire, and shoot fire balls at targets, they timed him as he ran around the track on the outer circumference of the room, they measured him slowing time with some weird device. When they asked if there was more he could do, he showed them the balls of light he could conjure, and the new trick he'd been working on.
He took a small plastic sculpture of a dog out of his pocket and willed it to life. Its little plastic paws turning into the oversized feet of a puppy as the three inch dog scampered across the table barking at the other students who had gathered around the table to watch the puppy. After a few minutes the puppy seemed to get tired of barking and Merlin turned it back into the plastic toy. When he looked up from the dog, Merlin noticed fear creeping into the eyes of the same students who had only been filled with admiration moments before.
After a brief look between the professors Merlin couldn't begin to identify he was dismissed for the rest of the class. Gwen seemed happy enough to chat with him as she worked on her metal sculpture, but he couldn't stop thinking about his visit with Professor Summers. He wasn't a mutant, he didn't know his own limits, and he scared everyone with only a small display of his powers this afternoon.
After class was dismissed, Merlin went to sit outside as the rest of the students passed him on the way to the dinning hall. He had to admit he wasn't really into the idea of dinner right now, especially if it meant that everyone would be whispering about the new freak in school. He slumped down on his bench when he heard from behind him, "Cheer up, Mer-lin." Just before Arthur slapped him, hard, on the back. "You've just gotten me out of two weeks of chores and an extra week of dishes. That almost makes up for getting me into detention for a month."
"Glad to be of help." Merlin said. "Wait, you bet against the horrible and embarrassing powers?"
"Don't forget non-mutant spy." Arthur said and shrugged, before changed the subject. "You're friends with Morgana and Gwen, right?" Merlin nodded, suspicious of this almost friendly Arthur. "Well, if they haven't already told you, there's a movie night tonight that only the older students are allowed to go to. You should come." And with that Arthur left Merlin, jogging to catch up with some of his friends entering the school building.
Arthur ignored him at movie night, but that wasn't that different than the rest of the students who were busy avoiding him. Only Gwen and Morgana still seemed willing to sit with him. Morgana and Gwen were sitting on the ground in front of the couch, cuddled up closer than he thought friends would sit. Gwen patted the seat on the floor next to her, and he sat down. She offered him a bit of popcorn that Morgana had captured from the kitchens. "I dreamt Professor Logan was going to make some and forget about it when he realized the kitchen was out of beer. Perfect timing for movie night."
The movie was Wall-E, which Merlin had seen before and liked it enough. The movie was fun but it didn't take his mind off of being the freak in a school full of freaks. He knew now that he wasn't going to tell anyone that he wasn't a mutant.
The thing was, after movie night, Merlin's cold war with Arthur warmed up into something else. He didn't really know what it was, and there was no talking, but suddenly there were a lot more practical jokes and a lot fewer glares barely concealing hatred. It reminded him of spending days goofing off with Will back home than it did having detention with his nemesis.
On their last day of detention Arthur actually spoke to Merlin. "I figured out how you kept up with me during that fight." Merlin tried to speak, but Arthur continued over him. "Because you can do almost everything with your powers, I've seen you in class, but you can barely walk without tripping over your own feet. So, if it was just physical prowess alone, I would have won that fight with no effort."
"It's good to know that you can have your manhood back, now you know you could beat me up without my powers. Still beat you in the fight, though."
"I wasn't beaten," Arthur grimaced. "It was a draw. But that's beside the point. You used your powers with subtlety. No one noticed, not even me, and I was right there." He walked closer to Merlin, leaning forward mimicking how close they were in the fight. "Not even in a school of mutants." He leaned forward more, until Merlin could feel Arthur's breath warm on his face. Arthur glanced down, his lashes golden on his cheek, and Merlin had a hard time catching his breath. Arthur looked up again, into Merlin's eyes. "You are very talented, Merlin." Merlin tried to swallow, but his mouth was dry, and he couldn't actually manage to form any words.
Half of him wanted this to be what it seemed to be, perhaps Arthur was attracted to Merlin the way Merlin was attracted to Arthur. He seemed to be leaning into kiss Merlin as it was. The other half, who had grown up gay as well as (supposedly) a mutant, was sure that Arthur was trying to rip Merlin's heart out and expose it to the whole school for fun. Arthur's voice, low and serious, cut through Merlin's doubts and down to his core, "did you know that your eyes glow when you use your powers?"
Merlin managed to stutter out a "yes" just before Professor Summers walked into the classroom where their detention was being held that day. He pointed to the desks and asked if they wanted more detention, because he could arrange that if they couldn't stop fighting.
The next time Merlin saw Arthur was that evening in the common room with his friends. Merlin wasn't sure exactly what had happened earlier that day, but he had decided he was going to talk to Arthur to see if maybe he could figure it out. He was starting to walk over, across the common room when one of Arthur's friends poked another in the ribs and gestured with his head towards Merlin while holding his hand up limply. The group started laughing again, Arthur turned around still laughing. He blinked a few times at Merlin, face blank as his friends started making kissing noises directed at Merlin.
For the first time since he came to the school, despite the teasing and the ostracism from his classmates, he felt real anger. The heat of it roared in his ears and tore open his chest coming out of him in a rush. While Merlin clenched his fists and stormed out of the common room the fire place roared to life a tower of orange flame shooting up the chimney. As he walked past Arthur's group, he heard one of them whisper, "what a drama queen."
Merlin walked stiff backed out of the common room and down the hall until he turned the corner. Then he let his back slump in defeat. He would continue at the school, and learn everything it could teach but he wasn't going to let it fool him into thinking that it was really a safe place for him.
He heard footsteps running down the hall towards him, and assuming it was Gwen, he slowed down time and ran for his own room. He didn't want to deal with her sympathy right now. Tomorrow, maybe, but not tonight.
Gwen ended up finding him that night anyway and they had a long talk. Merlin admitted he was gay and had a crush on Arthur. Gwen told him she and Morgana were more than friends and she knew how it felt to feel like there were things you could tell no one, even other mutants. Gwen insisted the school wasn't as bad as most other schools when it came to being out. There weren't a ton of kids who were, but the professors and many of the students were very accepting.
Before she left she said, "Merlin, don't waste your time on Arthur if Arthur only wants to be a jerk."
"Maybe I'm only attracted to jerks." Merlin said if only because he felt it might be true. But he knew he was being ridiculous, so he stood up clasping his hands in front of him and said in his best approximation of hysterics, "Oh, God. What if I'm destined to only be attracted to jerks? My romantic life is over and I'm only sixteen." Merlin kept a straight face for a moment or two before he bent in half with laughter.
Gwen joined in, pulling Merlin down to the bed again and declaring a tickle war. Sometime later they declared a truce, although Merlin suspected that was because Gwen was trying to be nice, and not because they were actually evenly matched. The girl was trickier in a tickle war than he expected. They lay next to each other on the bed breathing heavily and trying not to start laughing again when Morgana walked in. "You know it's a good thing I'm not the jealous type." She said. When Gwen noticed her, she lit up and Merlin saw why Morgana would never be jealous – Gwen's feelings were so openly expressed in everything she did when she was around Morgana. As Morgana joined them for a chat late into the night, Merlin allowed himself a small moment of bitterness that he wasn't lucky enough to have someone in his life.
The rest of the semester, Arthur would sometimes try to talk to Merlin when he was walking across campus, or studying outside at his favorite bench. The one partially hidden from view of the school. Merlin was always alone at these times and that made him even more wary of Arthur. Merlin would ignore Arthur, willing him to go away and, usually, after about ten minutes of sitting next to Merlin on a bench or walking him all the way across campus silently Arthur would leave.
Before finals Merlin was sitting on the bench, warmed to almost spring-like weather by his powers, trying to ignore Arthur and concentrate on his History exam notes. Arthur had been sitting just outside the edge of the warmth huddled in on himself against the cold of the day and he snapped.
He scooted closer to Merlin on the bench, towards the warmth. "I've been trying to apologize to you all semester." When Merlin didn't look up from his notes, he hit him on the back of the head. "Stop ignoring me."
Merlin rubbed the back of his head and glared at Arthur before giving in with a sigh. "Fine, your Majesty, you have my attention. Now, apologize."
"No, you know what? I don't even know why I've been doing this." Arthur leaned forward getting further into Merlin's space. "I've followed you around like a dog all semester hoping you would, what? Acknowledge I existed because you think I insulted you somehow. I'm Arthur Pendragon. I don't need this. And I don't need you."
"Right, like I needed you to apologize for your shitty behavior anyway. You're probably only trying to because Morgana threatened to cut off your balls if you don't. I don't need a forced apology, and if you think you don't need this, try being stalked all semester by a homophobic bully."
Arthur pulled back at Merlin's words. He stood up and walked away. Merlin watched him long enough to ensure he was really going inside before returning to his studying. He had way more important things than Arthur to deal with. Like finals and a meeting with Professor Summers.
The talk with Professor Summers started out worse than Merlin was expecting.
"You've had a bit of a problem" Summers paused and Merlin knew he was searching for the right teachery kind of a word. "Acclimating to the school."
"Not too much." Merlin says, wincing.
"You were caught fighting and had detention for the first week you were here."
"Um, yeah. That was inexcusable. I should have just ignored Arthur."
"Not everyone's always going to like us, not even here. We've got to find a way to work with people the best we can. But it does look like you're learning that. You've had no problems the rest of the semester and you're grades have been very good." He stopped and leaned forward in his chair a bit. Merlin hated that he couldn't see Professor Summers' expression. "But this is not why I called you in here."
"It's not?" Merlin asked. A dozen reasons Professor Summers might have wanted to talk to him raced through his mind but he settled on the one he most hoped it was. The one he most feared it was, as well.
"As you have experienced all semester, none of our professors know how to train your powers. We have run you through the basic tests and trainings for many of the powers you seem to possess, all of which you master more quickly than the all but the most powerful mutants. And there are many talents you have shown that no one here can even fathom, let alone train."
"I've noticed." Merlin said, not hiding the bitterness he felt. This place that had been like a dream to him, a place to be free, was only marginally better than his old high school.
"However," the Professor continued, "we may have found someone who will be able to help you. You know the professors and older students who are on our 'outreach' team."
"You mean the X-Men?" Merlin asked.
"Yes, the X-Men. We have had a few difficulties as of late that have brought us into contact again with someone who may have the answers to your biggest question." Merlin breathed in sharply. "His name is Doctor Strange and he assures us that he is no mutant, instead that he is a sorcerer of the highest caliber. Some of the other teachers here have their doubts about the truthfulness of his claims but he, like you, has none of the genetic cues or mutations that are manifest in people exhibiting any type of powers."
"You mean I'm magic?" Merlin asked. Saying it out loud felt incredibly silly but he couldn't deny how much he hoped it was the truth. He longed to know the reason he could do what he did.
"I hesitate to state it as a fact, but the Doctor agreed to meet with you next semester as a trial. We need permission from your Mother first, but if she gives her consent, you could have a personal tutor next semester."
The semester was over and it was movie night again in the common room, this time The Dark Knight was slotted to play. Merlin didn't know if he was interested or wanted to scoff at it. It seemed in questionable taste to have a movie about a superhero playing at the school. But finals were over, and he just wanted to hang out with Gwen and Morgana and turn his brain off for awhile.
Students were still milling around the room and chatting. Morgana had found some Christmas chocolate somewhere on the grounds thanks to her prophetic dreams and was sharing it with everyone around them. Merlin had just popped one in his mouth when Arthur entered the common room. He walked right by his friends and over to Merlin. Merlin turned towards Gwen and Morgana and rolled his eyes since his mouth was too full to say anything. Gwen hissed, "be nice" to him, so he decided he'd be the bigger man here. Besides his Mom was coming to pick him up for the holidays tomorrow and he'd have three blissfully Arthur free weeks.
Merlin stood up pointing to his mouth, still chewing the candy, and then wheeled his hands in front of him to prompt Arthur to start talking. Arthur looked down at his hands and then pressed a letter into Merlin's. "Every time we start talking you ignore me or we end up fighting, so I thought that I'd write down what was I was trying to say." Merlin took the letter and started to open it. "Read it later, after the movie."
Finally working through the chocolate, Merlin swallowed, and said, "Okay."
Arthur blinked, his face oddly earnest. "You have, um, a little chocolate, right here." Arthur gestured to his own lips.
"Oh, um." Merlin said before he tried to lick it away, working his tongue over his lower lip. When he looked back up at Arthur he saw Arthur staring at his lips. "Is there still something there?" He asked.
"Yeah, it's just, uh, yeah." Arthur said, while he moved next to Merlin. He leaned in and started to suck on Merlin's lower lip before opening up and kissing him.
Merlin was too shocked to think to do anything, but his body had no problems and realized that Arthur + kissing = kissing back. After a few heavenly moments where Merlin forgot completely he was kissing Arthur in front of almost everyone in the upper grades, Arthur pulled back. "Read the letter," he said, and then turned to walk out of the common room.
Merlin watched him leave, and then looked down at his letter. He turned back to Gwen and Morgana, ignoring the rest of the students. Gwen was staring after Arthur, but Morgana said, "How dumb are you Merlin? Go after him."
Movie night forgotten, Merlin ran after Arthur.
When he was in the hallway, he didn't see Arthur, and having his first clear moment to think since Arthur kissed him he decided to read the letter, so the next time he saw Arthur he could at least tell him he did as he asked.
It was short.
I don't know what you think I did wrong and I have no idea where you got the idea I was homophobic from. I've been trying to apologize for my behavior in detention our last day there. It was obvious from your reaction in the common room that night that you were angry at me. And I'm sorry if I offended you in any way. I went out to look for you after you left the room, but I couldn't find you.
Since, I'm writing this letter, I'll admit that I've wanted something more than friendship from you since the first week of class this year. But right now, I'd love a chance just to get to know you as a friend.
If you want to try and talk, and not argue, then meet me at our bench after movie night.
"Fuck." Was all Merlin managed to get out before he ran up to his room to get his coat and hat.
Arthur was stamping his feet in the snow and trying to nonchalantly shiver next to "their" bench. Which turned out to be the one where Merlin liked to study.
"I read the letter, Arthur." Merlin said by way of greeting as he walked up.
"That's great, could you warm this place up? I'm freezing."
Merlin warmed up the air with a wave of his hand and created a floating blue ball of light to light up the bench in the December night.
They sat down next to each other on the bench and waited in silence for the other one to begin. Finally, Merlin figured he'd be the brave one this time and come to Arthur's aid. "I wasn't angry about detention. I was angry because your friends and you were making fun of me in the common room that night."
"No we weren't."
"Yeah, I saw Bill look at me and then make this." Merlin held out his wrist limply. "Not the worst thing in the world, I mean, I suffered worse daily in high school. My old high school. But after that afternoon."
A connection seemed to be made for Arthur. "Oh, God. You thought I was trying to bait you into something?"
"You have to admit, that's what it looked like."
"They were giving me a hard time for liking you. You nerd." Arthur huffed out an exasperated sigh. "Bill can be a bit of a 'phobe, but he's an okay guy and my friend."
"So you weren't planning on trying to out me in front of the school."
"No, if only because I thought you were already out."
"I came out to everyone after that so you couldn't use it against me."
"Oh. I'm sorry. If you wanted that to be private."
"Whatever, I'd rather not have another secret."
"I know what you mean. Ever since Dad kicked me and Morgana out of the house and put us up here, I've felt like I've never wanted to live a lie again. I've been out since I realized I was gay, so has Morgana. It was a pact we made together."
Merlin nodded in understanding. He took a deep breath and admitted, "I'm magic."
Arthur's eyes widened comically and he looked like he was trying not to laugh. "I'm sorry did you just say you're magic?"
"I mean," Merlin wheeled back, trying to make sense of what still didn't totally make sense to him. "I don't want to have any secrets between us which means I'm not a mutant." Merlin held out his hand because Arthur looked like he was about to protest. "None of the professors know what I am. Right now, they think I might be magic."
"Not really, I think. I think they might be right. Apparently, someone's coming out to see me next semester. To see if what I can do is magic or not."
"Oh." He paused. "Wait, why don't you want any secrets between us?" Arthur asked catching up to the other part of Merlin's confession.
"Because I think I'd like to be more than just friends with you too. If, you know, it turns out we can have a conversation that doesn't end in an argument, at least."
"Really?" Arthur asked moving closer to Merlin.
"Yeah." Merlin leaned forward and kissed the side of Arthur's mouth. "I think I would."
Arthur kissed him back and Merlin thought that this was the best way to end a semester.