AN: Hi there! This is my first proper, solo Merlin fic, so please do be kind and give it a chance!

This is set in the future of the show's universe, and, amongst other things will include Mergana, Arwen and if you squint, and I mean really squint, a bit of Merthur. As it's sort of AU, or at least present day, there shouldn't be any spoilers. I should probably also warn that you should expect some Merlin whump and that THIS STORY IS RATED FOR MILD-STRONG LANGUAGE AND VIOLENCE.

The story is set in present day, and Merlin's past is something which will unfold, for now, I encourage you to come to your own conclusions.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Merlin, that's BBC land and property, however, I do own all original characters, plots and storylines, so don't steal.


" And don't come running back to me!"

A tall, brutal looking man grabbed the straps of Merlin's backpack and hurled him from the door- sending Merlin flying and slamming the cheap cracked door behind him.

Merlin fell with a smack onto the weed ridden concrete path, hissing in pain and grazing his hands on the wet, rough stone. He grit his teeth, looking back at the door to see the man was gone, and then; sighing, he wearily got to his feet with a sigh, stumbling because of the pain in his knees.

He tripped along to the end of the path, heaving the pack on his shoulder and pushing the rusting wrought iron gate open. He paused on the sidewalk to glance briefly back at the latest house he'd been sent to by social services. Lace curtains in the small window on the ground floor were deceptively innocent, and oddly out of place in the rest of the fa├žade- peeling brown paint and bleak stone. He'd been full of trepidation when he'd arrived, but had tried to shrug it off- after all, what was it worth? It was another chance, and he should have learnt by now not to judge by appearances.

Turned out he'd been right, and as Merlin made his way along the path- not sure yet if he'd bother going back to Elizabeth House, he resolved to trust his gut instinct next time, it was always right.

He took a left, and further on a right, and kept taking random turns- not caring where he was going or what was around him- just looking for somewhere private and peaceful to stay and gather his thoughts. The sky was grey- it always was in Ryderton, and his bony hands were starting to shake a little when he heard raised voices to his left.

Of course, his gut instinct was to keep walking, head down, and get away from this new source of trouble. Merlin decided to start that resolution later- and instead looked up to see the source. A gang of kids- private school by their fancy velvet blazers, were grouped round another, slightly smaller one. Merlin frowned as he crept down the alley that separated him from them.

The group's victim was clearly less well off than this lot- his clothes were worn and didn't quite fit, and he was skinnier. As Merlin scrutinized the boy's features, a blast of recognition jolted through him, and before he had time to think, he shouted "Will!"

The boy- Will, looked up to the source of the voice, as did a group of his attackers, including a tall, blonde, prattish looking kid. Merlin gulped. Ah.

He tried a smile and held up a hand, "alright?"

The blonde kid frowned. "I'm sorry, what?" His voice was haughty and his elocution perfect, it put Merlin's broad northern accent to shame.

Unperturbed, Merlin shrugged. "Means 'How are you' round these parts, and hello. Just being friendly."

The blonde's frown turned into a look of incredulity and he forced a mocking laugh, looking to the others who hurriedly joined in. Merlin just waited patiently, and eventually they realized they were receiving no reaction and stopped. The blonde straightened.

"What do you want?" He surveyed Merlin with a look of distaste. "Street Urchin."

Merlin grinned- it was hard for people to offend him by now, and this was a poor attempt. "Street Urchin, that's a bit Victorian really isn't it- fan of Dickens?"

The boy looked ruffled but tried to keep up an appearance of composure. "Oh so you can read? Congratulations."

"Thanks very much- its, ah, well, I'd say it was an honour but you look like too much of a prat, sorry mate."

The boy turned red, and the others around him growled something- with their attention diverted Merlin nodded to Will as subtly as he could, and the brunette, not needing any further hints, scampered off as fast as he could.

Some of the toffs gave a shout and made to run after him but Merlin wasn't planning on his rescue being foiled so easily.

"So tell me- are all of you prats? Do you take lessons from him, or is it more of a communal thing?" The boys turned back to him as one, like a pack of wolves and Merlin guessed he'd stepped on a homophobic nerve, common to these kind of people, and frankly idiotic.

'Well' he thought, 'lets dance on it.'

"Maybe it's a sort of 'friends with benefits' thing? You get a bit more than prattishness from each other eh?"

The first fist came from the blonde prat- who was an interesting shade of angry red- and Merlin faltered as the force knocked him off balance-his weakness from malnutrition and bruised knees from earlier making him stumble as the world spun, then fall to the ground. After that the punches and kicks rained down, grinding him into the filthy ground. Merlin curled into a ball, still shouting insults at them, trying to keep them distracted from Will. At one point he felt a sickening crack and shift in the general area of his ribs, and choked in pain- blood ran down his face from his nose and split lip. A particularly vicious looking thug stamped down on his ankle and Merlin strangled a cry as it snapped.

Still, he kept going, shouting random, incoherent words till he had to stop- and as much as he'd have liked to have thought it was because he knew Will would have gotten away by now, it was just because he couldn't take any more.

The attack continued for a few more minutes, but without any more provocation, the boys soon settled down. A few of them seemed upset by what they'd done- by the scene of the bloody boy on the floor and, swearing, they ran off. The rest grumbled to each other and half heartedly jeered at Merlin on the floor- who was too busy categorizing his injuries and trying to breathe to pay them any attention.

The few who jeered tipped over a nearby dustbin, chucking the rubbish on the pavement and, having heaved Merlin up between them- they shoved him inside. A boy- not the blonde prat surprisingly, growled down just as the pounding in Merlin's ears began to fade.

"Tell anyone and you're not just hurt, you're dead."

Merlin started to chuckle, blood trickling over his lips, raising an eyebrow and making the boy turn white as a sheet, slamming the lid down.

Merlin kept laughing as he sank into the bin's stinking recesses, knowing he couldn't move himself in this state. Still, he couldn't get over how entirely ridiculous and practically soft the boy's threat had seemed to him, one laughing sentence rolling round and round his disorientated mind.

Like I haven't heard that one before.

Ooooh, poor Merlin. Will he be ok? Where's Arthur? Why's he being like this? What's going to happen next?

I really hope you enjoyed it, this chap's short, as it's a bit of taster. Please do review or pm me with comments, constructive criticism, questions and speculations, I'll reply and would greatly appreciate it.

If I get three reviews I'll post chap 2 tomorrow afternoon, if not I will do so at my leisure, again, thankyou for reading and I hope you enjoyed it,