Colin woke to an empty bed. Comfortable as he was, he was still alone. He blinked away the remnants of slumber and extended his arm out to the left. The material underneath was still warm.
The restroom door swung open and heavy feet pounded across the floor. "I had to piss so bad this morning, you would not believe it!" Bradley yawned and plopped back onto the bed, lying down with his head at Colin's feet.
Colin grimaced. Still, he was content to feel the added weight on the bed, it reminded him of how it now took him an additional ten or fifteen minutes to fall asleep when on his own.
The silence between them was comfortable. Both were lying still, deep within their own thoughts.
Colin ventured into the silence. "What time is it?"
Bradley shrugged. "Eight, maybe even nine."
Colin weighed the silence after Bradley's response, it changed. He felt as if it were just a momentary pause, impatiently waiting to be relieved.
Bradley spoke hesitantly. "Listen..." he said quietly, pausing for a long while.
Colin stared at the ceiling, waiting.
"Did I – I mean, last night," Bradley paused again, his cheeks burning up. He addressed Colin gently "did I hurt you?"
"What?" Colin frowned and sat up.
"Colin, did I hurt you?"
"Oh," Colin blinked. "You didn't hurt me, Bradley." He put his hand on Braldey's leg and squeezed tightly. "Bradley, you didn't hurt me."
Slowly, Bradley nodded, and Colin lay back down.
Colour rose to his cheeks. He shifted to Bradley's side and propped himself up on his elbow. "Kiss me."
Bradley obeyed and met his lips.
Colin smiled at him. Only a few months ago he had scowled at himself in the mirror, pulling at his uniform with distaste, grimacing at the thought of going to some pompous school – pompous it was, but Colin adored it anyway – to spend the day with some snivelling, rich kids. Should someone have told him he'd take to the school and its students without a second thought he would have stared incredulously and laughed. And, had someone told him he would end up falling for a high class prat, prideful and gorgeous, self-centred and kind...he would have shaken his head fiercely, maybe even with something akin to horror marking his features. And yet here he was, and here Bradley was, both lying on a bed, where only a few hours ago passions he could have never dreamed of had racked his body.
Bradley grinned at him leisurely. "I think breakfast is already waiting, but if you'd like to take a shower, feel free."
Colin nodded quickly and rolled off the bed. "Alone!" he called over his shoulder as he went into the restroom. For good measure he locked the door behind him. Colin hopped into the shower quickly, before it was even fully warmed up, and took to scrubbing himself and raking through his hair in the chilly water. He was out by the time the steam had begun to fog up the long mirror in front of him and he quickly used his towel to wipe off the haze. He realized he only had last night's suit with him and...and...
"Bradley!" Colin rushed out into the bedroom and scanned the space with feverish eyes. "Bloody hell," Colin whispered.
One eyebrow raised, Bradley looked over at Colin from the bed. "Alright?"
"Where are our masks?"
"From last night!"
Bradley looked about for a moment. "Not sure," he shrugged.
Colin rolled his eyes impatiently. "What if we left them at school? In the classroom," Colin stressed.
"Ah," understanding seemed to dawn on Bradley. He stared hard at Colin and then threw an arm behind him lazily. "What of it?"
Exasperated, Colin made to object to Bradley's indifference but promptly rejected the idea, knowing it to be of no use. Instead, he asked for some clothes to wear and retreated to the bathroom to put them on, nervously running through consequences of their actions in his head. They'd be expelled – well, not Bradley, but Colin for sure. And if not expelled?
A tap at the door broke through his thoughts and he admitted Bradley into the bathroom.
"Nothing's going to happen," Bradley confidently told him. "I don't even remember what they look like, so why would anyone else?"
Colin couldn't picture the masks either and felt slightly calmer. "Still, they'll know someone has been in one of the classrooms."
Again, Bradley shrugged indifferently. "Do you even know how many people are in Pendragon? And how many wore masks last night? Calm down."
Colin crossed his arms and tapped his foot impatiently. He bit his lip and stared at Bradley. A bubbling laugh escaped his lips and the knots in his stomach eased. He clenched his fists in his shirt and burst out into laughter until his face was red. Doubling over, he hobbled over to the bed and dropped down upon it with a groan.
"Uhm, okay," Bradley said, utterly confused.
"Bradley," Colin groaned his name dejectedly. "I can't believe the things I do when I'm with you."
"No? Because you're pretty good at them," Bradley said and walking over the bed, gently tugged on Colin's hair, bringing his head up so that he could see his face. "Didn't do that type of stuff back in Ealdor?"
Colin pulled the blond on top of him and lay back comfortably. "Never," he said seriously.
"You never told me why you left."
"Mum got a job...things just...changed," he said with a shrug.
Bradley scoffed and shoved his hand in Colin's face, rubbing his palm against his forehead. "Come on, stop pretending to be interesting. Tell me."
Colin smacked Bradley's hand away. He sighed. "I just didn't fit in anymore." He thought for a moment and looked down. "I wanted to find somewhere that I did," he added quietly.
Bradley grinned. "Had any luck?"
Pretending to think hard, Colin looked up at the ceiling and scrunched his nose. "I'm not sure yet," he smiled and pecked Bradley on the nose. "Now come on," he rolled off the bed, sending Bradley to the floor "let's go."
They went down together silently and found Uther, Katie, and Gwen seated at the table. A hush fell over the room instantly.
Bradley shot Katie and Gwen a quick smile. He held his chin up and nodded at Uther. "Morning."
Uther stood up and looked at his son for a long moment. "Good morning, Bradley." He made to sit down, but stilled and straightened back up. "And Colin," he turned his eyes over to the wiry youth standing beside his son and was met with a nervously cracked smile and frightened blue eyes.
"Good morning, sir."
Uther motioned to the table. "Won't you two join us?"
Bradley stared at his father in shock. "Y-yeah," he walked around to Uther's side and sat down.
Colin sat down next to Bradley and said a quick hello to Katie and Gwen. He leaned over a bit and whispered quickly: "We thought you might bring Leon."
"Bugger off, Colin," Katie said cheerfully, though her eyes flashed in warning.
Mrs. Bartlett appeared seemingly out of no where and served both him and Bradley with a platter of eggs, two over easy ones for Bradley, and scrambled ones for himself. He nodded at her in thanks and then politely rejected the bacon she was offering. He let Bradley begin and followed suit. Mrs. Bartlett poured him a glass of orange juice and in a separate cup, hot tea. There was a stifling lack of conversation and though the atmosphere wasn't completely unpleasant there was a strain to every movement and the one time Colin chanced a glance at Uther, one that was met, he turned his eyes down right away with an embarrassed flush. Katie and Gwen made an effort to liven up the mood and chattered on about the night before as if it were the event of the decade. For Colin it just might have been.
Uther listened to the girls attentively enough, but seemed disinterested at most.
"I am pleased that there was no trouble. Congratulations, my dear," he reached over and patted Katie's hand. "Did you enjoy your night?"
This, directed at Bradley, took a moment to be answered, as his son was in the midst of stuffing a rather large amount of bacon into his mouth.
There were times when Bradley could be more graceful than a swan and so elegant as to make him seem like a fairytale prince, but other times he could be quite the slob, and so very bloody annoying. Colin, though slightly cringing for his sake, rather enjoyed those brutish qualities, for it brought Bradley down to a level which he felt comfortable to reach. There were moments that Colin felt severely inadequate and unfit to be at Bradley's side, but there were enough earthly traits to Bradley that made him feel, if still below him socially, then equal enough as a mere person.
"Yeah," Bradley said while chewing. He took a quick gulp of his juice and cleared his throat. "It was pretty amazing actually, Colin really liked it."
Shooting a glare at Bradley at having purposely brought him up, Colin nervously looked over at Uther, who was considering him silently.
His tone was one of feigned pleasantry. Surprising those in the room, Colin especially, he continued:
"This was your first dance of such a nature, was it not? I can't imagine you have experienced such things in Ealdor; the schools there are quite small, are they not?"
Colin winced at the mention of his home town and hunched down at the unimpressed tone. Clearly Uther had done some checking up on him, and most clearly wasn't impressed by the result. Bradley moved to speak but Colin stayed him with a hand on his arm. "Yes sir, we didn't have nearly as many students in my school as in Pendragon. Ealdor is quite humble, but my school was in the city so it wasn't that small. There was much here that was new to me though." He answered simply and truthfully, not feeling the need to do any serious defending on his part, after all, what Uther had said was essentially the truth.
"Have you and your mother adjusted well enough? It must have been quite the change to go from such...humbleness...to a place like Camelot."
Colin disregarded his patronizing tone and straightened up, looking Uther straight in the eye with a comfortable smile. "Camelot is great, and we've both very much taken to it quickly. The school has, as far as I've seen, wonderful teachers,and is managed extremely well – you must be proud."
Uther, startled at the compliment and easy tone, nodded slowly. "Yes, Pendragon is a highly esteemed school, not just anyone gets accepted."
Colin inwardly scoffed. "Unless you have the right amount of money," he thought. Though, to be fair, Colin had been accepted as much for his grade as his new wealth – still comparatively beneath that of his friends, but nonetheless much more than he had had previously.
"I have met a lot of admirable people here," he said quietly, and he couldn't help but shift his gaze over to the figure seated next to him.
Uther's mouth closed into a thin line but he presently made an immense effort to relax; achieving a somewhat more comfortable position and collected disposition before he ended their brief exchange. "I'm glad."
Colin gave him a short nod, acknowledging that this round had been concluded and gladly brought his tea cup up to his lips; it was hot, but he welcomed the heat as it burned its way down his taut throat. Katie nudged him under the table with her foot and her eyes sparkled when he looked at her. Gwen winked at him quickly, and he smiled at them both.
It felt as though a certain threshold had been crossed and he was being rewarded with approval from those around him who had been on the other side. Possibly even Uther, though his eyes were still somewhat like steel, but who was to say if that wasn't how they naturally were; Colin didn't know him well enough to be able to make any complete judgements. After all, Bradley's father had surprised him more than once during their isolated meetings, ones that might eventually turn into something more frequent, he realized. The thought wasn't so displeasing since it meant that his immediate future included Bradley in some way.
Colin thought that he would never go beyond calling Uther sir, no matter the time that would pass, due to the man's rather intolerable nature, but he had found his place in Camelot and would surely find his place with Uther one day.
"You done?" Bradley asked him, even though Colin's empty plate spoke for itself. He had asked to make his intent to leave known to those at the table.
Placing his fork and knife on the plate, Colin nodded and stood.
"Thanks for breakfast," Bradley said and made to stride out of the room, but pausing by his father, clapped him on the shoulder affectionately before leaving.
Uther did not smile or particularly react in any way to his son's action, but Colin could see that his eyes seemed to warm at the touch and speak out more than any action ever could.
Colin half bowed to Uther as he left and mouthed an "okay" to Katie as she waved her phone in the air, demanding a call or a text later.
In the foyer, Bradley stood leaning against the stairs with a bemused smile on his face. He was looking at Colin but at the same time through him. "Did that really just happen?" Bradley asked, his lips curling into a wide smile.
Colin nodded. "I told you he'd be fine."
"My dad spoke to you. Normally. Like a normal person talks to another normal person," Bradley said, gesticulation with his hands wildly.
Colin stepped forward and slipped his hands into Bradley's, lacing their fingers. "Yes, he did, didn't he?"
"Come on," Bradley said quietly, his eye's burning with joy. "I'll drive you home."
Bradley made his way leisurely down the driveway. "I'm still a bit dazed here," he said with a shake of his head. "Bloody hell!" He laughed and turned to look at Colin with a sillly grin.
Colin smiled after him as Bradley made his way to the car. He was dressed in Bradley's clothes and wondered if he could manage to keep them. He rubbed his cheek against his shoulder and Bradley's scent wrapped itself around him. It smelled like home. As he got into the car and Bradley briefly touched his thigh for no reason at all he felt simple peace. Had he had any luck? Colin smiled and turned to face Bradley. Their eyes met and simultaneously they smiled at each other. Colin life might as well have been the definition of serendipity. Luck, love, fate, whatever it was, as Colin reached out to touch Bradley's hand he realized he had never felt so whole. His life was finally sliping into place.
Everything was exactly the way it was supposed to be.
END.(thank you to everyone who actually read the entire thing. Holy crap you guys are troopers)
((All the reviewers? You don't even know how much that means to me. Thank you so much!)