So it's been a while since I really started writing any new fanfiction. In fact, I'd thought I was pretty much done wiht ff before Merlin came along. But, what can I say? It's a guilty pleasure. This is my first go at a fanfic for Merlin, so... eep.

This story was partly inspired by one of my favorite fanfics: Pairing Pendragon/Merlin. Though I love it, there are parts of that story that I would have liked to see go differently/would have liked to see more of/etc., so I've long considered writing my own fic that is similar, but different. I'm also just kind of a fan of fics in which Merlin is an adorable nerd and Arthur is a stalker. XD So I made this fic about the characters being on tumblr.

None of the tumblr usernames used here are based on real people, though after I finished the fic, I went and checked and a lot of the urls are actually taken (though a lot of them are inactive blogs, boooo.) So if somehow someone is reading this and I used your name, I apologize. Practically all the good urls are already taken, so yeah.

Also, tumblr is a major part of the story, but hopefully if you aren't familiar with how the site works, you can still understand what's going on. I tried to keep things fairly simple and formatted the text so you know what is a computer message and what is a text and whatnot. Besides that, I threw in bits and things from other fandoms, but I really don't think those are necessary to follow the story. (Edit: Urgghgkdkjl, FF messed with my formatting. Let me know if anything is hard to follow?)

Warning: Homophobic anon hate. Also, I am American, so there may be a lack of or misuse of British terms? Please correct me if I wrote something that is incorrect so I can fix it.

Sometimes Merlin wondered if he spent too much time on the internet. It was probably unhealthy that the first thing he did when he came home was turn on his laptop. But he couldn't entirely bring himself to care, and it's not as if he had anything better to do; he wasn't like normal people who spent their free time doing sports or playing musical instruments. Nope, his hobby was obsessing over books, movies, and television shows over the internet.

He opened up tumblr, scrolling down his dashboard to check the new posts. Despite how often he was on, he wasn't exactly one of the tumblr famous people. Merlin followed over two hundred people, but he only had a little over twenty followers himself. Of those twenty, he only really interacted with four of them. And two of them were IRL friends.

Will (will-is-me on tumblr) was the one who first told him about the site two years ago. He'd been one of his best friends since they were six years old and they lived in the same neighborhood. They didn't live near each other anymore, since Will had gone away to college, and Merlin went to the nearby university and lived at home, but they stayed in touch. Will was a graphic designer and internet comic artist. (Though he claimed he was the next Hussie, his comics hadn't really caught anyone's attention.)

His other friend, Guinevere (ladygwen on tumblr), was someone he met in his medieval lit class. They had bonded over the fact that they both were named after characters from Arthurian legend and discovered that they had a lot of the same interests.

He saw that she had reblogged a Harry Potter gifset from the fifth movie with the comment:

Wow, look at all that teen angst.

He reblogged it from her and added:

At least Dan got a haircut before Harry turned emo.

Merlin preferred to add his own comments, trying to be funny or clever as much as he could. Afterall, there were tons of people who could add the gif of Harry from the Potter Puppet Pals going "Angst, angst, angst." And he couldn't count the number of posts where people just added overused phrases like "MY OVARIES" or "OMG I CAN'T." Merlin didn't even have ovaries. Alas, he still didn't have many followers, so maybe he wasn't as interesting as he liked to think he was.

He scrolled down a bit more, pressing the little heart icon to like a post of a cute cat gif. Then he saw a post by onceandfutureking.

Onceandfutureking was everything Merlin wasn't. He was witty and funny and he made his own gifs and fanvids and did in-depth analysis of scenes from shows and movies. Occasionally he even did personal posts or videos. Not only was he talented and smart, he was freaking gorgeous. And he was involved with pretty much everything. If there was a fandom worth being in, he was in it. Onceandfutureking had over three thousand followers.

So maybe Merlin had a bit of a crush. But so did half of the internet, and could you blame them? There weren't that many guys who were willing to brave the fangirls on the internet fandoms, and the ones who were, generally were overweight hermits or gangly nerds like Merlin.

Onceandfutureking's most recent post was about the latest episode of Doctor Who. Merlin bit his lip and added it to his liked posts to read later; he hadn't seen the most recent episode yet, due to an essay he'd had to finish.

Bigbadwitch and limegreenknight, his other tumblr friends—the ones he didn't know IRL, but who he actually interacted with on a regular basis—had reblogged his post on Morgan LeFey and added commentary of their own, which had spiraled into a bit of an argument, though that was fairly normal for them. He had started talking to both of them because of Gwen. Apparently they had known each other since high school and when Gwen reblogged so many of their posts, and they saw the posts she reblogged from Merlin, they had inevitably started talking.

He grinned and reblogged their argument with the comment:

Okay children, settle down. I know you actually love each other.

Merlin scrolled down a bit further, past a bunch of posts he didn't care much about. Then he got to another post by onceandfutureking, this one about Tom Hiddleston. He didn't often reblog things by him; mostly because he felt like whatever he said wouldn't even compare to whatever onceandfutureking had to say, and he maybe had a bit of an inferiority complex, but whatever, he was in a good mood that day.

He reblogged and started to type:

Sigh. I would totally have his children. You know, if I had the right reproductive organs for it.

He giggled and then his mother called up, "Merlin! Would you please set the table for dinner?"

He glanced at the time, surprised that it was so late already, and shut his laptop before heading down the stairs.

Stepping out of the bathroom from his shower, Arthur turned his computer on to give it time to start up while he dried off and got dressed. He hadn't had a chance to check his blog all day and wanted to see if there were any new things of interest. Most of his followers just liked or reblogged posts without really commenting on them. It made him a little paranoid at times, and a little aggravated that he couldn't get a good discussion going, but he figured they wouldn't be following him if they didn't like him.

Sitting down to look at his posts, he noticed someone had reblogged and added something. It wasn't anything particularly brilliant, but it did call attention to the fact that a) this person was a guy who b) liked Tom Hiddleston, who also happened to be a guy.

Arthur knew that logically there had to be other guys besides him who were fanboys, but he knew for a fact that the majority of his followers were fangirls. It was just a fact of fandoms.

He clicked on the username. Merlinsbeard. The voice in Arthur's head gave a snort. Who would pick merlinsbeard as their username?

Whoever he was, his blog was fairly typical. Lots of reblogged pictures and gifs from Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Sherlock, etc., with a few posts of his own here and there, mostly about Arthurian legend. Arthur had a love of Arthurian legend himself, being named after King Arthur, and obviously having chosen his username based on the book by T.H. White. But Arthur had figured merlinsbeard had more to do with Harry Potter than the actual Merlin of legend.

He saw a post about Morgan LeFey and that both his sister Morgana and his friend Gwaine had reblogged and argued over. He raised an eyebrow, wondering how two of his friends had come to be following this person without him knowing. Now that he was looking, he spotted another post that merlinsbeard had reblogged from ladygwen.

Ah. That's why.

While the break up between him and Gwen was mutual, he still felt awkward around her, especially considering the fact that he'd come out as gay shortly after. She had been very understanding, but things really weren't the same between them. He had made a point of pretending he didn't know her blog existed, figuring it would be weird if her gay ex-boyfriend started following her on tumblr.

Nonetheless, this guy's blog seemed interesting and he actually contributed to discussions and offered his opinions. The fact that he was probably a guy was an added bonus.

Despite the large number of followers he had accumulated, Arthur was very selective about who he followed. Originally, he would follow back anyone who followed him, but after the first hundred people or so, his dashboard had been cluttered with posts he didn't care about and conversations that didn't concern him. He felt a bit bad about unfollowing so many people, but really, it was his blog, he could do as he liked. He let his mouse hover over the "follow" button.

He sighed. "I'm over thinking this. Morgana's right, I really do obsess over things." He clicked "follow" before he could change his mind, and then went back to his dashboard to scroll through the posts that had come up since he was last on.

When Merlin came back to his computer later, a cup of hot cocoa in his hands, he nearly choked on the hot liquid when he saw he had a new follower. A new follower who just happened to be onceandfutureking. He swallowed and clicked to start a new post. He closed the tab, then opened it again.

"Crap, what do I do?" he muttered.

He finally decided that friendly but generic would be best. Spazzing out and being like, "Ohmygod, I've followed your blog since forever, I love your posts, and is your hair really as shiny as it looks?" would probably just make the guy unfollow him. He went with:

Hi onceandfutureking! Thanks for following my blog! :)

He nodded to himself. It probably didn't much matter. Onceandfutureking probably followed a bunch of blogs and had a bunch of other, more interesting posts coming up on his dash anyway.

He kept scrolling, reblogging a silly behind-the-scenes photo.

Twenty minutes later, he's back at the top of his dashboard and lo' and behold, he sees this:

onceandfutureking reblogged you:

My pleasure, you post some great stuff.

For a moment, he considers screencapping the message, before he snaps himself out of it. Sure, onceandfutureking was smart, handsome, funny, and had over a thousand followers on tumblr, but he was really just another average guy. There was absolutely no reason to start hyperventilating over the fact that he had just responded to Merlin's post.

Merlin closed the tab and grabbed his phone to send a text to Gwen.

M: Help!

G: What?

M: U kno onceandfutureking on tumblr?

G: Yes?

M: He followed me!

M: And he reblgged my 'thnks for follwing' post

G: So?

M: So what do I do?

G: What do u do when other ppl tlk to u?

M: ...

G: Exactly

G: Turn off ur comp and study for our quiz

M: Fine :(

That was not really what he'd been going for when he'd turned to Gwen for help, but her advice did help calm him down. He was always thinking too much about what he should do or say, and worrying people would think he was a weirdo. Well, he was a weirdo, he could admit that, but he was the good kind of weirdo and he was afraid people would think he was the bad kind of weirdo.

Whatever. He grabbed his text book and flopped down on the bed, pointedly ignoring his computer. He really did need to study for the quiz tomorrow.

The next day, Arthur saw a Supernatural post that merlinsbeard had reblogged. It was a gif of one of the gory opening scenes for an episode, where someone was brutally murdered by some monsters and then the rest of the episode would be about the Winchester brothers finding and killing it. Merlinsbeard commented:

They always use such similar opening scenes: An unsuspecting victim comes across a supernatural creature, the camera pans away as they are horribly murdered, and all we see is the blood splatter. I bet if you took every opening scene blood splatter and compared them all, you would have a pretty accurate portrayal of the series' progression.

Arthur chuckled. It was probably true. He clicked "reblog."

At the very least, you'll have a bunch of good examples of how not to film a realistic crime scene. I feel like in the last season, the blood splatter wasn't even meant to be realistic.

Minutes later, merlinsbeard reblogged him again:

Maybe the crew was making a game of it. They probably made bets at the beginning of each season. "Let's see how creative they'll let us get with the blood this year, guys."

Arthur reblogged and added:

"I bet you guys we can make arterial spray splatter a wall ten meters away and the audience will never notice."

Merlinsbeard reblogged and added:

Maybe the audience doesn't notice, but fandom does. Fandom notices everything.

Arthur reblogged and added:

That's pretty creepy.

Merlinsbeard reblogged and added:

Only because it's true.

Merlin grinned at his computer screen. After his initial shock and celebrity worship had worn off, he realized that onceandfutureking really was just an average person. Merlin found himself engaging in conversation with him as easily as he did with bigbadwitch or limegreenknight. Both of whom, he discovered, knew onceandfutureking, as his sister and friend respectively, so between all of them, some really interesting conversations occasionally occurred.

The other thing he realized was that his crush on onceandfutureking did not fade away once he actually started talking to him, but intensified, if that was possible. He could only hope that he didn't do something stupid, like reblog one of those "Ask me about myself" posts. Because inevitably someone (probably bigbadwitch, because somehow she knew things, dammit) would ask him who he had a crush on and then Merlin would inadvertently spill the beans, because he couldn't lie even if his life depended on it, not even on the internet.

He went to onceandfutureking's youtube channel, playing an older video of his, where he rants about adults being interested in children's shows and how, instead of making fun of people for liking children's shows, the children's shows should be praised for being able to appeal to an older audience. What would that teach children, if adults didn't want to watch what they were watching?

Merlin watched as he used his hands to gesticulate his points, his gaze moving to look at different things as he thought about what he was saying, but always coming back to look at the camera.

"I mean, if my sister came in one day, wearing a My Little Pony shirt, would I judge her?" You could see he was holding back a smile at the thought. "Okay, actually I might just a little bit, but come on, she's the big bad witch!"

"Are you gossiping about me on the internet?" came a voice from the background.

"Oh sh—" The last thing you see is a hand grabbing the camera and blocking out the blonde's panicking face before the video ends.

It was one of Merlin's favorite videos that he'd done, if only because of that unexpected, unscripted moment at the end.

He sighed. The internet made him feel like a stalker. It wasn't his fault attractive people made videos of themselves for the world to watch repeatedly on public websites.

Over the next few weeks, Arthur found himself reblogging more and more of merlinsbeard's posts. It wasn't intentional or anything, really. He just happened to post a lot of interesting stuff. A few of which led to actual conversations, which was rare for him. Sure, he liked to reblog something of Morgana's and go out of his way to disagree with her, and he could usually count on Gwaine to post something really funny or bizarre that would require little more than ROFL. Or sometimes, usually when he'd had a bit to drink, Lancelot got him thinking about political or philosophical stuff (if he didn't know Lance IRL and judged him purely by his blog, he might call the man a hipster).

But with merlinsbeard, it was just easy banter and playful discussions of characters or movies. And maybe a little flirting on his part. Just a little bit.

Arthur was lounging on his bed, back home for the weekend instead of in his dorm room. He had his computer in his lap and was working on an image in Photoshop when there was a knock at his bedroom door. Before he even gave permission for her to do so, his sister Morgana was strolling in and settling down beside him like it was her own room.

"How good to see you Morgana, please come in, don't stand at the door all day," he muttered sarcastically.

"I finally get a chance to talk to you, and this is how you act? How cold."

"You talk to me all the time," he complained.

"Yeah, on the internet," she laughed. "Never face to face."

"Perhaps I prefer less confrontational forms of communication."

"Is that why you're still single?"

He pointed at her. "You see, this is exactly what I'm talking about. Can't you just pretend to stay out of my business? Maybe I don't want to date anyone right now."

"What about merlinsbeard?" she asked with a sly grin.

"Oh no you don't," he said. "If you don't stop that train of thought right there, I swear I will block you on tumblr."

She rolled her eyes. "Like you actually would. Come on, spill. I've never seen you so conversational before."

He scoffed.

"No, really. It's a good thing. I haven't seen you make any new friends in years."

"Perhaps I'm just very loyal to my old friends," he muttered obstinately. "And it's not like it's face to face. He doesn't even post about his private life."

"And it bugs you, doesn't it?" she said, smirking

"Yes," he said emphatically. "Because I've put tons of information about myself out there, and what do I get in return?"

"A loyal army of tumblr followers?" she drawled sarcastically.

He shot her a withering glance.

She patted him on the head like a puppy. "Don't worry, Arthur. These things work out."

A post on the theories behind how Sherlock Holmes survived the series 2 finale made its way onto onceandfutureking's blog.

Okay friends, what are our theories? I think holding the ball under his arm to hide his pulse is one of the more popular ones. Any takers?

Merlinsbeard reblogged and added:

Shall I mention the suspiciously positioned truck?

Limegreenknight reblogged and added:

Sorry to break it to you two, but he really did die. The Sherlock we saw at the end of S2 was Sherlock from the past brought to the future by the Doctor.

Onceandfutureking reblogged and added:

So will S3 be about Sherlock solving his own death?

Merlinsbeard reblogged and added:

Plot twist! The Sherlock that the Doctor brought to the future was from the time before Sherlock knew John!

Limegreenknight reblogged and added:

And John will be convinced that Sherlock is suffering from some sort of amnesia, but he'll be so happy that Sherlock survived that he won't question it.

Merlinsbeard reblogged and added:

Sherlock falls in love with John, but the Doctor won't let him stay in the future, because that would create a paradox. So he returns to his time, and immediately goes searching for John to share his flat with him.

Onceandfutureking reblogged and added:

You two just turned one of my favorite shows into a cheesy scifi soap opera.

Merlinsbeard reblogged and added:

Isn't it brilliant?

Onceandfutureking reblogged and added:

Just a bit, yeah.

It was inevitable that Will would take it upon himself to warn Merlin away from giving away too much information about himself. The message that showed up in his ask box read:

I see you've been getting pretty friendly with a certain onceandfutureking. Don't be swayed by his handsome profile pic. In the end, he's just another nerd on the internet. Don't give him too much.

Merlin sighed and responded privately:

Thanks mom. I can assure you that I've already heard the talk about the dangers of the internet plenty of times.

Will sent him another ask:

I wasn't just talking about your location or whatever. I know you. You'll get attached, and you'll start looking for something more, and then when things don't go like you hoped, you'll be upset. Remember what happened with Gilli?

Of course he remembered, how could he forget? It was one of the most embarrassing moments of his life when he confessed his feelings to the boy he liked, only to discover that, not only was Gilli not interested, he was totally straight.

And I learned from that. Contrary to what you think, I'm not some helpless idiot. Just back off, Will. I know he's not interested in me as more than just someone to talk to on the internet. Can't I make friends?

Will-is-me asked:

Fine. Just be careful.

Merlin didn't bother to reply.