Hi! So, this is my first Merlin fanfic! I'm excited to see how it will go. I love Merthur! They are one of my OTP's and I will ship them forever. I really hope I've done them justice. Please review, send me feedback, tell me you're enjoying it so far, tell me what you think of the beginning of season 5, which I think is simply amazing :)

I will most likely update once a week.

So, let's begin this journey shall we?

Thank you for reading it.

Isadora. (I shall use my penname because I like that name)

AGE SEVEN

A small raven haired boy, called Merlin, clutched his mother's hand tightly as she led him to the playground, towards the big yellow slide he was so frightened of.

"Come on sweetheart. You can do it, you don't have to be frightened," Hunith said kindly.

"Mummy, it's so big, and scary, do I have to do it?" Merlin asked in a small voice, staring up at her with those innocent big blue eyes.

"Well, you don't have to do it, but what have I always taught you?" Hunith asked.

"That the only way to defeat fear is to show it what a brave boy I am, like in the book," Merlin muttered anxiously.

"Yes, exactly like in the book. Now you jumped into the pool didn't you? Even when you were terrified? Hunith added.

"That wasn't even scary!" Merlin replied proudly, puffing out his chest.

"I know, so, the slide won't be scary either. Now, I'm going to go sit at the bench, over there, and keep an eye on you, alright?" Hunith smiled.

"Yes Mummy, I'm going to make you so proud!" Merlin said.

"There's some other kids over there," Hunith pointed out, "See the blonde boy and the dark haired girl? They look about your age, why don't you go and say hi?"

"I dunno, they might not want to talk to me," Merlin said.

"Of course they will, sweetheart, why don't you ask if they want to go on the slide too?" Hunith responded, gently brushing Merlin's soft raven hair with her fingers.

Then she pecked him on the cheek and wandered over to the park bench. Merlin approached the two other children who seemed to be in a huge fight, the blonde boy was tugging at the other girl's long dark hair, and she was retaliating by stomping on his feet.

He smiled hesitantly at them; their fighting seeming to stop as they noticed his presence.

"Hi, I'm Merlin," He said in the politest voice he could muster.

"Merlin, what a stupid name," The blonde boy scoffed.

"Shut up Arthur," The girl hissed, elbowing his ribs. "Hi Merlin, I'm Morgana, and this is Arthur. He's a bit of an idiot you see, so I wouldn't pay much attention to what he says. I think Merlin is a cool name."

"That's okay and I think that Morgana is a cool name too! Do you want to play?" Merlin asked, he didn't really like Arthur, he seemed mean. But Morgana seemed really nice.

"Fine but we're playing Knights and Princesses. That's MY favourite game. Morgana is the Princess. You can be the evil wizard who kidnaps her, Merlin. I'M the royal prince, of course." Arthur said pompously and sauntered off to pick up a stick of wood near the bushes.

"Royal Prince, more like royal prat," Merlin whispered to Morgana, and they both collapsed into silent giggles.

And so the game began, Merlin and Morgana quickly scampered up the tall ladder onto the high base they called the 'tower' it was one with the big yellow slide. Merlin glanced at it nervously. Arthur was climbing up.

"Let the fair lady go, evil sorcerer," Arthur called out in a ridiculously deep voice that made Merlin and Morgana stare at each other and burst into a fit of laughter.

"OI, why are you two laughing? You need to take the game seriously!" Arthur huffed.

"Sorry!" Merlin yelled back.

"Rescue me! Rescue me!" Morgana called out meekly. She looked down and glanced at Arthur, rolling her eyes.

"You come up here, and I will turn the Princess into a toad!" Merlin said, attempting a menacing voice.

"Oh no!" said Morgana.

Arthur clung on tightly to the yellow plastic of the slide while brandishing a wooden stick at Merlin.

"I will rescue you, princess, don't worry. You harm her and I will make sure my dogs eat you for their dinner." Arthur growled.

"We don't have dogs." Morgana raised her eyebrows. Then clapped a hand over her mouth.

"Sorry Arthur!" She added at her brother's increasing irritation.

Merlin screamed a little as Arthur suddenly reached the top, his blonde head popped up and he smirked at Merlin's mildly shocked face.

Arthur heaved himself up onto the barrier and reached out his hand to Morgana.

"This is stupid." She exclaimed. "If I got stolen by some evil wizard then I would beat them up so hard that they would be scared of me. I wouldn't need someone to rescue me. Especially not you."

And then she seated herself on the slide and quickly pushed herself until she was zooming down.

"Let's play something else!" Morgana shouted from the ground.

"I'm so angry!" Arthur said furiously. "She ALWAYS does this."

"Well maybe we should all play something that we all like." Merlin suggested.

"No, we should all play something that I like." Arthur corrected.

"You are such a prat!" Merlin said, annoyed at the other boy.

"You swore! I'm telling your mum! Besides, my ideas are always the best ones." Arthur said smugly.

"ARE YOU TWO GOING TO COME DOWN OR WHAT?" Morgana shouted again.

"Hurry up!" Arthur said, pointing at the slide, as the other boy was in front of him.

"I can't- I'm going down the ladder, the slide's too big." Merlin said quietly.

"You're a wimpy scaredy-cat." Arthur said nastily.

Merlin felt the tears rise up in his eyes and he looked away. Why was Arthur was being so awful? He hadn't done anything to him.

"I'll help you go down?" Arthur offered guiltily.

"No-no, it's okay, I thought I could go down, but I can't now, it's too high," Merlin replied.

"Don't be such a girl." Arthur said.

"I HEARD THAT," Morgana yelled.

"Why don't you sit in front of me, and we'll go down together?" Arthur suggested.

"I don't know," Merlin began. "Okay,"

Merlin sat worriedly on the edge of the slide. Arthur thrust his make believe sword, the wooden stick, into Merlin's clammy hands.

"Here hold this. Squeeze it if you get scared." Arthur said, unusually kindly.

"I feel sick." Merlin said.

"Oh shut up Merlin," Arthur laughed, and pushed off.

Merlin shut his eyes tightly, but opened them again as a light feeling in his stomach drowned out all the nervousness. The wind against his face and his heart hammering a little, he had to admit, it was certainly fun. He peeked open an eye and the joy was soon over, they had reached the end.

"See was that bad?" Arthur questioned and shrugged the other boy off him.

"No, it was really fun!" Merlin said breathlessly.

"I didn't know you could be nice, Arthur," Morgana grinned, bemused and shocked all at once.

"Shut up," Arthur retorted, hiding a smile. "Merlin, I want my sword back."

Merlin laughed and threw the wooden stick back to Arthur.

"How does hide and seek sound?" Morgana asked.

"Okay," said a grudging Arthur.

"Sounds good!" Merlin said happily.

He looked over to Hunith, who was grinning and gave him a thumb's up. Then returned back to her book.

And so for the rest of the afternoon, the three kids laughed and ran and hid and had so much fun that the amount of time passing was utterly forgettable.

Until an angry man, dressed in an expensive grey suit marched up to them. He glared at Arthur, and Morgana seemed to back away behind him. Merlin stared curiously at them.

"I have been worried sick looking for you! Anything could have happened. You two are being incredibly stupid. I've been searching around the whole of Camelot for hours." He said furiously.

Merlin glanced a little awkwardly at his orange and black sandals. And then suddenly, a warm hand pressed on his shoulder. It was Hunith, who had a determined expression on her face.

"Hi, what seems to be the problem here?" She asked the man.

"It really isn't your concern, Mrs?" The man said curtly.

"Emrys. But you may call me Hunith. What's wrong?"

"Hunith well, it's nothing, just that my kids seemed to run off from our home, but I've found them now. They're safe, that's all that matters." The man replied.

While the adults talked, Morgana glanced apologetically at Merlin. He smiled back and drifted away from the adult's conversation.

"Our parents were fighting, so we left the house to get away from it." Arthur explained silently.

Merlin nodded.

"Well that's it then," Hunith grinned at the man, who appeared to grin back. "It was, nice to meet you, Uther, I hope we see each other again, one day."

Merlin stared, confused. Why were they getting along now when they were seemingly angry before. Adults, he could never understand them.

"Thanks for keeping an eye on them," Uther said genuinely, "Say goodbye to this lovely young lad, kids,"

Morgana flung her arms around him.

"Today was the best day EVER. Do you live here?" She asked.

"No, I live in Ealdor," Merlin said sadly.

"Speaking of, Merlin, darling, we're going to be late for the train back. Say goodbye quickly," Hunith interjected apologetically.

"I hope I see you again one day," Morgana said brightly, patting Merlin's shoulder.

"Bye Merlin." Arthur said. "You're not that bad."

"Bye Arthur, neither are you," Merlin giggled.

"Oh and have this." Arthur said. "In case you get scared, then it'll remind you that I'm there to give you a push,"

He placed his prized wooden stick, sword, into Merlin's hand.

NINE YEARS LATER

"Merlin, if you come back a tosser and snob, you're never gonna hear the end of it from me. I'm gonna do your head in, do you hear me?" Will barked into the phone. "And you better keep in touch. Prick."

"How sweet," Merlin said sarcastically. "Will, I'm not one of them, I'm never going to be, and yeah of course I'll keep in touch, you're my best mate, how can you even ask that?"

"Yeah yeah, you say that now, can't believe you're leaving me for 'Camelot Private'." Will scoffed.

"It's one of the best school's in Britain! You encouraged me to take the scholarship program entrance exam, you waited outside whilst I did it. You're telling me this now?" Merlin accused.

"You know I'm proud of you, really," Will reasoned.

"I know. I know, I'll message you tonight. The train station's almost here, I can see Gaius waiting for me. I'm gonna miss you," Merlin replied.

"I'm gonna miss you too, mate, and if you start seeing a bloke, you better tell me first, because they're gonna have to get through me. Tell Gaius I say hi, yeah?" Will said.

"Of course I will, anyway, chat later, bye!" Merlin responded hastily.

"Bye!" Will said half-heartedly.

Merlin hung up just as the train came to a halt. He slung his black duffel bag over his shoulder and slipped his phone into his jean pocket.

He shuffled through the crowd on the train, stepping out and walking to an uncrowded space. He scanned the area for Gaius, who rushed up to him and enveloped him in a great bear hug.

"Merlin, my boy, you've grown so much," Gaius beamed.

"Gaius, you saw me last week when I came up with all my cardboard boxes filled with stuff," Merlin replied embarrassedly.

"Oh you did too," Gaius said. "It seems every time I see you, you've grown taller."

"It seems every time I see you, you've grown older." Merlin retorted cheekily, earning a swift slap at the back of the head by Gaius.

Gaius's house was only a few blocks away from the train station. So they walked there.

It was a nice house, a two storied one, with a pretty little garden out the front and an intricately designed white gate. Well, Camelot was a nice town. Finding a rundown house would've been a rare occasion. But what did he know, he had only visited Camelot a couple of times. It took over four hours to drive there, and Gaius usually caught the Ealdor train to visit instead of vice versa.

Plus, it was a couple of minutes away from the main road, where Gaius's doctor's clinic was. And a walking distance from Camelot Private. Gaius had assured Merlin it only took ten to fifteen minutes to walk there. It was perfect for them both.

Gaius unlocked the door and shuffled in his coat pocket for something. He pulled out a small silver key and handed it to Merlin.

"Here, I had a spare cut for you," He commented before entering in and heading straight for the kitchen.

Merlin scurried behind him, dumping his duffel bag on the carpet as he followed.

"Cup of tea?" Gaius offered, swinging open cabinet doors and pulling out various jars.

"That would be great, thanks," Merlin replied happily, leaning against the kitchen counter.

His phone vibrated in his pocket, the TARDIS noise whirring loudly. He loved that message alert sound so much. He pulled it out, rolling his eyes at Will's text message.

Amy just asked me if I wanted to grab coffee with her tomorrow. Do u think it's a date or not? Do u think she knows I like her, fuck im so stressed. What do I do?

I don't know! Merlin typed back. Just go and there and find out.

Gaius thumped a steaming mug on the kitchen bench.

"What are we having for dinner tonight?" Merlin questioned.

"I was thinking of going to a place called the 'The Tavern' the food really is delightful, " Gaius sipped his tea.

"Oh yeah, Mum talks about that place all the time," Merlin laughed. "She's going to go crazy once she knows I've tried the food. Maybe I should tell her that I hate it just to see her reaction."

"Oh no, don't, trust me, just don't." Gaius said distractedly as he checked his watch.

"Don't worry, I won't, she's probably really stressed about her café already," Merlin couldn't help but worry about Hunith managing her little café all on her own.

"Merlin, my afternoon shift is going to start soon, it's almost one , I am terribly sorry to leave you alone but-." Gaius began.

"It's alright!" Merlin assured. "Just one thing before you go, what's the-."

"Wi-Fi password?" Gaius interrupted. "It's stuck on the yellow note on the fridge."

Gaius raised an eyebrow at Merlin's stunned expression.

"I'll be back at five, be sure to get settled in, get your stuff sorted, etcetera." Gaius added.

He darted out of the house, mumbling something about 'young people' under his breath.

After the door slammed, Merlin raced up the stairs to his new room and grabbed his laptop he had dropped off with his other things the previous week. Oh how he had missed it.

He raced downstairs again, switching it on and furiously typing away the password to access the Wi-Fi. He logged into YouTube, his music playlist ready to go and started blaring it at full blast as he marched, unashamed up the stairs.

He had so many things to organize. It was going to be a while.

He was a neat freak. It couldn't be helped.

The hours passed with Merlin singing at the top of his voice and shoving his shirts and pants on coat hangers. It passed with him whirling around the room and stacking his books on the shelves. It passed with him placing all his new textbooks and notebooks and pens and pencils on the desk. It passed with him tripping over numerous objects on the floor, including his own feet. But the one object he had stepped on that really bothered him was a brown stick of wood.

It was so silly keeping it, but a part of him refused to throw it away. He had named it his 'fear stick'. He could vaguely remember the kid who had given it to him. His arrogant attitude and mop of blonde hair. Oh and the kid's sister, who had said that 'Merlin was a cool name'. He just couldn't remember their names.

He brushed the memory off and continued with all the things he had to do.

And then it was all done. He was hot, he was sweaty and tired but it was done. He gathered all the cardboard boxes and dumped them outside his room, in the little hallway.

He collapsed on the bed, breathing heavily just as Gaius' voice echoed throughout the whole house.

"MERLIN, GET READY IT'S TIME FOR DINNER."

He checked the time on his iPod, it was nearly six. How had so much time passed so quickly? That was all that time seemed to be doing now days.

"COMING, GAIUS. JUST GIVE ME A SEC TO GET DRESSED." He yelled back.

He didn't really need to change his skinny jeans. So he just pulled on a long sleeved v neck and one of his favourite scarfs.

He patted his jean pocket but then suddenly remembered that he had left his phone on the kitchen table.

Merlin was greeted by Gaius's concerned expression at the bottom of the stairs.

"What?" Merlin asked, amused.

"Sorry I'm late, a patient had to be taken to the Hospital, I was closing down but they rushed in and were in a critical condition." Gaius replied.

"That's okay, hey, I got everything sorted. Proud of me?" Merlin joked, jogging to the kitchen to grab his phone, which was displaying six new messages.

They were probably all Will. He hid a smile as his suspicions were confirmed, most of them were an angry: Merlin u better fkn reply.

"Very." Gaius said firmly, interrupting his train of thought and ushering him out the door.

To his surprise, Gaius drove there, in his tiny red car. They pulled up in the nearest parking space on the main road which the restaurant was on. It had a red and yellow medieval theme going on. It was tastefully done too, it didn't look tacky in the slightest. Not to mention it smelt amazing.

He was taken aback by the interior, the whole place was pale gold and white. From the walls to the handles of the cutlery.

And on the tables were plates with painted golden lilies and swan napkins. It was surreal. And the nicest place he had ever been to.

"So, school starts tomorrow," Gaius pointed out.

"I know," Merlin responded. "I'm really nervous to be honest, I just, I don't want it to be a hard year, you know, I mean, getting called a fag and other… things in Ealdor. Getting beaten up that night. I still have nightmares about that. I don't want to go through that again. I can't. It's too hard. That's why I left."

"You're not going to because I won't let them. And neither will the school board, I mean to say, I have met many parents part of it when they come into the clinic. They themselves are gay, or their children are. Don't worry so much, and if it happens, you must let me know immediately. I won't let them lay a finger on you. Alright?" Gaius ranted.

"Alright." Merlin said uneasily as a waitress came to take their orders.

They promptly ordered their dinner, ravioli for Merlin and a soup for Gaius, along with garlic bread and some breadsticks. The waitress then placed two glasses on the table and a jug of iced water.

Merlin excused himself to go to the bathroom. He needed to pee urgently, a discovery he had only made when Gaius began pouring water into their glasses.

He rushed over to the male restroom and pushed open the door. Just to be greeted with loud moaning noises from one of the toilet cubicles.

Jesus fucking Christ. If they wanted a wank, they could at least have the courtesy to do it in private and not at a public place. The situation was unbelievably awkward.

And as if a place as nice as this would have literally two cubicles and no urinals.

It was just his luck as he began to approach the free toilet, the door to the occupied one flung open.

Merlin wanted to sink through the ground.

He was mortified and he honestly hated his pale skin sometimes, because he could feel himself going very red. Very bright red.

So he averted his eyes as a man wearing a waiter's uniform stumbled out, flushing in humiliation and embarrassment as staunched past Merlin to leave the room.

And then, just when he thought he was safe. Another person appeared.

But this one though, he was younger, and stared at Merlin in annoyance instead of embarrassment.

He scratched the back of his extremely tousled gorgeous blonde hair. Gorgeous? What the fuck was wrong with him for thinking that. But the way his tight white shirt clung onto that chest, his sparkling blue eyes that seemed to stare angrily at him. That light golden skin. There was no doubt that he was insanely attractive; he looked like a male model for Abercrombie & Fitch or something.

"What the fuck are you staring at?" He spat out rudely at Merlin who was rooted to the ground in shock.

There was something eerily familiar about the way he spoke. He couldn't place his finger on it, they'd probably never met before. Perhaps he was an actor, he'd seen him on telly. He certainly had the looks for it.

"Uhm, nothing, I'm so sor-sorry," Merlin blurted out, mentally banging his head against the wall. Repeatedly.

He rushed for the empty cubicle next to the one the male model look alike had been using.

He buried his head in his hands.

After the bathroom incident, yes, Merlin had already named it. He sauntered over to the table Gaius and him were sitting at.

"What took you so long?" Gaius asked.

Merlin shook his head at him and plonked down on the chair.

Gaius gave him one of his famous eyebrow raises and began chatting about art classes, he didn't really pay much attention as he had just noticed that the blonde-male-model-look-alike was sitting a couple of tables away from him. Merlin sagged a little in his chair, he could see the back of his perfect golden head clearly.

What really shocked him was that he was on a date. A pretty girl, wearing a deep purple that really complimented her dark skin tone. She leaned forward to kiss him on the lips. He began to twirl a lock of her dark hair.

He could not believe what he was seeing. He was clearly bi or gay.

Merlin began to suspect they had an open relationship but then it seemed less likely when Blondie rummaged in his pocket and pulled out a little jewellery bag. He handed it over to her, and she gasped in surprise as she rummaged through it, finding a silver chain. He doubted people held that kind of sentiment towards each other if they were just casual.

Merlin couldn't distinguish what the pendant hanging of the chain was. He didn't even know why he was so interested anyway.

"Merlin! Are you listening to me?" Gaius barked.

"Yes, sorry, Gaius! What were you saying?" Merlin replied apologetically.

"Doesn't matter. What's bothering you?" Gaius asked.

"See that blonde boy sitting over there? The one with the white shirt? Who is he?" Merlin answered.

Gaius twisted his head to get a better look.

"Oh, that's Arthur. It's Uther Pendragon's boy. Uther's, a lawyer, a great one too. Anyway, his wife passed a few years back, so he's widowed. Arthur's a great football player, around your age too- and going to the same school. But why are you so interested?" Gaius asked suspiciously.

"Yeah, I think," Merlin said.

"He was just rude to me before, when I went to bathroom, " Merlin lied, well, it was the half-truth for what it was worth.

"Ignore him. Merlin, he can be arrogant at times but he's got a good heart," Gaius said truthfully.

"Yeah, I'm sure he does. But who's the girl?" Merlin questioned.

"Oh that's the lovely Gwen. She's very kind you know, and good for him. After his Mother died, you know, he was broken, she helped him mend himself. They've been together ever since. Since they were fourteen, I presume." Gaius smiled.

"Oh great." Merlin said under his breath.

Going back to school tomorrow seemed oddly interesting yet frightening somehow.

He was determined to find out more about this Arthur Pendragon bloke.