Series Three in two months!

This is set in an Alternate/Future universe. Enjoy :)

It all started with Merlin trying to prove a point. Or rather, trying and failing.

He was with Will in their dorm, both of them procrastinating about an assignment due in three days, staring at the blank TV screen. Blank because, seven minutes earlier, Merlin had thrown the remote out the window as his arm flew out upon reaction to Will banging the door open.

"I told you I was jumpy!" Merlin protests, looking back at the open window with a glare, as if it would give them back the remote with an 'oh, sorry guys, I didn't know Merlin had such fast reflexes'. Or something.

"Merlin, did you honestly think that by 'jumpy' I thought you meant 'stupid enough to throw our TV remote out the window'? Because to me, that isn't exactly what jumpy means." Will responds, sinking lower down into the couch.

"I'll go and get it," Merlin offers, giving Will a grin that was not very reassuring.

"I don't think that's a good – Merlin! What are you doing? There are stairs in this building!" Will's voice gets steadily higher; it does that when he's nervous.

Merlin looks back from his position at the window, a grin on his face that instead of trying to reassure just reminds Will that his best friend is very, very stupid.

"We're only on the second floor, I can climb!"

Will's mouth opens in obvious horror. Merlin seems to have forgotten that he has the worst athletic ability anybody has ever seen, regularly trips over his feet and cried like a baby when Will tried to get him to go abasing last summer.

"Um, Merlin, I think we – you - should use the stairs," Will stands up, but before he can pull Merlin away from the window his (insane) friend is already sitting on the ledge, his head ducked awkwardly to avoid a nasty collision.

"You are the stupidest person I have ever met," Will grumbles, about to grab Merlin's shirt to pull him back into the room but before he can Merlin jumps.

Will tries to recall any memory of Merlin confessing suicidal thoughts but nothing comes up. Instead he hurries towards the window, looking outside with a wince. The sight that meets his eye has him ducking back in and laughing so hard tears are forming in his eyes.

Merlin's fall has been cushioned, and he's laying awkwardly on top of the last person Will ever expects will appreciate it. Arthur Pendragon.

Merlin really doesn't know why Will is worrying so much. It's only the second floor, after all. And the fall is hardly anything. Besides, if he just gets the TV remote it'll shut his best friend up, and he's willing to do a lot for that to happen. As he jumps, he doesn't see his life flash before his eyes or anything else that he's heard happens before death, so he's confident that he's not going to meet his end by jumping out his dorm window.

Then he realises that he's falling towards somebody, and before he can shout a warning (not really thinking it will save him from crashing on the campus floor), he lands, knocking the person to the ground. He winces at the impact, groaning and trying to form an apology. Nothing comes out except a muffled "oomph". He's face down in someone's (muscular) chest, and as soon as he realises that he blushes, rolling over despite the pain and landing onto the ground.

"Shit," He mutters, embarrassed and still without the remote. Will's probably having the time of his life watching this spectacle.

"You better have a good reason for this," is the reply he gets, and the voice freezes Merlin in place. He knows who this is – he's got almost all of his classes with him and three days ago they argued in a class discussion over if you could prevent destiny.

If there's ever a time he wished he could be swallowed by the earth it was now.

"I fell out the window."

Oh God. Why does he always become incoherent at the worst times?

"Yes, if I were you I'd want to jump out a window too," Arthur replies.

Merlin frowns. He hardly knew Arthur at all, yet the prat was insulting him.

"And if I were you," Merlin says without thinking "I'd want to do so from at least ten floors up, because that way there's no chance of survival."

Merlin doesn't think he's ever said anything so rude and his instinct is to apologize, but a childish voice in the back of his mind reminds him that Arthur started it.

"Excuse me?" Arthur is standing and looks very angry. In fact, Merlin now wants nothing more than to get the remote and run back to the safety of his dorm.

He moves to sit up but apparently landing on someone doesn't do much good to your stomach so he falls back again, helpless. Which is just great, because now if Arthur chooses to beat him to pulp he can't defend himself. Not that he'd have any chance even if he was in full health, but it was nice to think that he could at least prevent a punch or two.

"I admire your strength," Arthur says sarcastically, and Merlin glares. He doesn't think he looks very imposing though, because Arthur just laughs.

It's a nice laugh.

"I think it's because your huge ego winded me," Merlin mutters, unable to stop the retort.

Arthur blinks, shocked that anybody, especially someone like Merlin, would talk back at him.

"You do know I'm Arthur Pendragon," he says, looking down at Merlin with a smirk. "My father runs this University, and I can easily get you removed."

Merlin can't believe that Arthur is threatening him - and all because Merlin landed on him. It wasn't exactly a pleasant experience for him either.

"It's a wonder you got into this school," he mutters, finally getting the strength to pull himself up, albeit wincing slightly at the pain.

"What did you say?" Arthur asks, eyes narrowing.

Merlin swears he hears Will laughing in the background. Stupid arse.

"I said," Merlin repeats, unsure why he's talking back, "that it's a wonder a stupid prat like you got into this school."

Arthur looks like he's going to punch his head it and Merlin gulps, suddenly aware that he's talking to the son of the man who run's this University, and compared to Arthur's muscular form Merlin might as well be a beetle.

"Don't you ever," Arthur takes a step towards him and Merlin tries to back away but he's greeted by a wall "talk to me" another step and Arthur's corned him into the wall "like that" the blonde places an arm either side of Merlin's head "again" he finishes, smirking at the terrified expression on Merlin's face.

"Um, I'm s-s-orry." He's stuttering and he can clearly see Arthur's blue eyes right in his face. They're shining with something akin to pride and quite probably humour at how frightened Merlin must look right now. "I'll just go now." He adds, pleading with the prat because how else is he going to get out of this situation?

"You aren't going anywhere," Arthur says, arms still pinning Merlin to the wall.

Merlin chokes, closing his eyes and waiting for the blow. Nothing happens. He holds his breath, each second becoming painfully apparent. Still nothing. He opens one eye, then the next, and is greeted by Arthur's scrutinising gaze.

"Um," he says, wanting to thank the blonde for not beating the crap out of him but unable to form a sentence.

"I'm not going to hit you," Arthur says, exasperated and upon closer inspection Merlin can see the shock in his eyes.

"Oh, um, oh, okay," Merlin stumbles over the words before finally forming a single syllable: "thanks."

Arthur lets his arms drop and Merlin's about to bolt, but he's stopped by Arthur's gaze.

"I'll ... um ... sorry for ..." Merlin gestures at the window, blushing like a girl.

"That's ... okay." Arthur finally says, opening his mouth to say something else but closing it again. Merlin suspects that he's never apologised to anyone before. "It was quite amusing to see you shake like a girl."

Merlin's about to retort, forgetting that a few seconds previous he was close to being punched to nothingness by the same approach, but before he can Arthur continues to speak.

"I'll see you around, Merlin."

Merlin scurries away, ignoring the fact that Arthur knows his name. He feels the blonde's gaze on his back until finally he's inside. He runs all the way back to the dorm, throwing the door open and glaring at Will, who's shaking with laugher. Merlin throws a nearby cushion at him, but it misses and narrowly avoids the same fate as the remote.

Remembering the reason he jumped from the window ledge in the first place, Merlin goes to hold up the remote in a victory (which, let's be honest, was hardly anything victorious). Then he realises that his hands are empty. He curses under his breath and moves towards the window to check if it's still outside, but before he can something hits him in the chest. He stumbles backwards, grabbing something to steady himself before leaning down to inspect the object – guessing it's been thrown by Will. He glances at his friend, who's still laughing, and frowns.

Leaning down, he picks the object up and turns it over. It's the remote. And, written on the back in red marker is one word:


He inches towards the window, looking back down from where he'd fallen minutes ago. Sure enough, Arthur Pendragon is looking up, arms crossed over his chest and a smirk on his face that Merlin is starting to realise has a permanent place there.

He opens his mouth to say thanks, but decides better and just rolls his eyes.

"That's no way to thank me, Merlin!" Arthur shouts up, surprising a younger girl walking by. She drops all her books to the floor. Arthur ignores her, focused on Merlin.

"If you're trying to be romantic, Romeo and Juliet really isn't working for you," Merlin shouts back, pulling a face and closing the window.

The last thing he hears is "at least you admit you're Juliet." He responds by sticking up his middle finger.

He can hear Arthur's laugh even with the window closed.