There is such a story behind this:

I've always loved this film and believed it to be a brilliant piece of... coming of age - and understanding what love is. I enjoyed it and wanted to write it with Merthur, because the two mesh so well together.

Kit got me into reel but she had to drop out, which shook me, so, obviously, I lost all faith in this. I hope it's alright: I warn you now, apparently, my writing style has been called, 'knotted'.

This isn't betaed, but I have edited it twice – which is why there will more than likely still be SPAG mistakes...

Well, at least I hope not, and I hope you enjoy it ^_^

Look Before You Leap

Chapter 1

The First Jump

"Time is a game played beautifully by children."
Fragments, Heraclitus

Merlin was sleeping rather happily in his room. His bed was comfy; a nice duvet fortress that he'd made out of the sheets and things was quite adequate to his needs. The bed in question was up against the wall on the right hand side if you're entering through the door. Next to the bed to its own right, is a very cleverly placed bedside table. Then, from the coming-in-through-the-door person's perspective, on the left hand side of the room, was Merlin's wardrobe built into the wall with sliding doors. This left the rest of the room to be filled with his stuff: books, loose sheets of forgotten (he remembers when he wrote them) poetry tucked into the bookshelf on the far wall, next to the window, which actually had a nice view of their garden, their apple tree which grew outside, and the road going down-hill.

That's where Merlin lived, on Camelot Hill.

Now, as was said, Merlin was having a lovely sleep, until he heard whispers which didn't really get to him all too coherently from his mind's fuzzy state,

'Merlinnnnnn'

Merlin moved in his dozing state of grace,

'MERLIN!'

Then out of completely nowhere, Merlin felt this very hard, very metallic bang upon his forehead, which did not only wake him up, but bloody hurt.

'OowW!' Merlin yelled as he was yanked from the remnants of a strange dream, filled with voices and the reminder that his sister stole his custard pudding! He was playing with his friends when he got the text, the event being so dramatic and utterly devastating that he must have dreamt it too.

There, standing next to him, was his sister, a little girl of fifteen, same black hair and white complexion as he, but not the same, because it made him feel less... individual? Unique? Real?

She was standing next to his bed, drinking her morning milk, ready for school.

Merlin was about ready to throttle the little BRAT, and if the pain in his dear head didn't stop, pulsing against his skin's surface, then he'd sue her too!

But then he realised that his alarm clock, a flat cuboid of sorts in shape, flat aluminium sheets for appearance, all nice and shiny, with a red digital screen...

Read 8:15...

'Shit!' Merlin thought.

(School started in ten minutes!)

Merlin, clad in a loose black t-shirt with a v-neck and buttons down to about mid-way, with checkered pants of blue hues, had a mini heart attack.

'It's about time you got up.' Freya said, finishing off the last of her milk.

X

Merlin ran down the stairs, now dressed for school.

Damn his sixth form head for making them wear proper uniform this year!

'I mean honestly, just my luck for it to happen in the last bloody year of sixth form!'

'What did you turn the alarm off for?' Merlin shouted as he completed the decent onto the ground floor of their hardwood house.

'I didn't, you turned it off yourself!' Freya shouted back as she left the house for a lift, of course, out the front door, which was down the hall on your right if you were coming down the stairs.

DAMN HER FOR GETTING A BLOODY LIFT AN' ALL!

Merlin heard vaguely on the news that it was the 13th of July, 08:18, which Freya must have left on and Merlin would get the blame for, coming from the living room which was opposite the staircase as it bent into the main hallway.

The seventeen year old lolloped into the kitchen, which is a bit further down the hall on the left if you're like Merlin and spinning round the staircase.

'Finally managed to get up, did you?' Hunith spoke sweetly, a little cheeky smile soft like mother's do when they know they shouldn't anger you but just can't help provoking just a little because your reaction is "so adorable." She was by the stove, which was on the left from the kitchen's entrance.

Merlin ignored this.

He got to the table, slap bang in the middle of the kitchen, also used as another surface for random shit, like food, shopping, candles, a fruit bowl and such like, but all he wanted was his slices of toast and his milk.

'Morning Mum,' he said hurriedly as he then started the most strenuous task of gulping down his milk in one: broken gulps of disappearing milk and a bobbing prominent Adam's apple a most becoming image on Merlin.

Once he slammed the glass back down on the table, not that worried it would break from the abuse, he grabbed one slice of the two of toast, melted butter delicious, and took a bite with a rush, then proceeded to announce his leaving and legged it for the door,

'See ya Mum!'

But when he had slammed his right foot against the doorframe, now cursing God and Freya, Hunith halted his efforts for escape.

'Hang on a second, Merlin; on your way home could you give this to your Auntie Witch?'

That's Nimueh, by the way.

Merlin felt very put upon, and very taken advantage of, his brow frowning in an odd dance between down and up, confused as to which way it should go to express Merlin's annoyance and need for haste: it settled for pouting his eyebrows like lips in perturbation.

'What! No way, I can't lug all this to school on my bike!'

It was a bushel of apples.

She gently forced the bag into his left hand.

'Also, could you try not to die in your rush please?' She said again, very annoyingly sweetly and very mother-like.

While she was saying this, Merlin was in the porch, slipping on his shoes, which were navy converse.

At least he got to wear his own shoes to school.

The uniform, by the way, was the standard: white shirts for boys, with either dark navy or black "smart" trousers, no tie thank god, with the female alternatives for girls.

Merlin wore very dark navy trousers, almost black, a bit too long, because even with his shoes on they still bunched up quite a bit around his ankles, but at least they fit his waist, which was the important thing. His shirts were clean, of course, but well worn, and his friends found it quite comical how the torso fit well, but Merlin's arms were a bit on the edge of too skinny for the sleeves, even though they were short-sleeved.

Top button undone.

'Alright,' Merlin kissed his mum on the cheek, then swung the front door open, a little and very much loved breeze coming in from the action.

It was bloody hot today!

'See ya!' He repeated, then ran to grab his bike against the garden wall, swung open the garden gate, iron and rusted, then pegged it down the hill, descending on the left, as his mother cried out warmly, 'Have a good day!'

Merlin was thankful for the very boyish basket he had on the front of his bike, because he could then toss the bag with the apples in that. His own school bag, a worn leather satchel, hung loosely on his side, but he'd flipped it so it was on his back for the bike ride.

Merlin, for more description, had moonstone skin, jet black lace hair, which was in the shape of a classic "bed head". He'd tried in the past to use water, gel and wax to make it resemble something like "neat" but had been unsuccessful because, although most of his hair would obey, there was always a patch of "anarchy hair" which just wouldn't go down, so because he couldn't go round half done up, he'd just let it swing loose...

Which meant sticking up in directions a bit odd; this style also made him look like he had a bit of a cow like going on of sorts: a ridge of hair handing over his forehead like a cliff edge.

His eyes though, were a very sharp sky blue, a summer's sky blue, with little silver tendrils here and there in the iris. His build was... some said "spidery" but he didn't like spiders: they were cute an' all, but the way they crawled was very much not.

So there he was, a little awkward but getting into the swing of the bike as it sped down the hill, turning down the roads he needed to, houses whizzing past as the mechanical rattle of the bike rattled past the people walking up and down the hill; turning heads as he went, some in amusement, some in frustration as he almost rode into them.

X

There was this particularly very steep indeed side of the hill, which was almost like a vertical drop and looked like it should be in one of those surrealism abstract paintings.

Merlin was on the descent of it now.

It was nicknamed "Avalon's Descent" funnily enough, by the locals.

There was also a train track placed at the bottom, which split the valley in two.

People could hear distant wail-like screams, while waiting as the bars went down, stripped yellow and black, with the lights of the crossing bleeping and flashing a ruby red, alternatively hopping from one side of the lamp to the other.

Merlin then almost crashed into the bar, but was able to stop the bike before he flipped over it from the sudden stop and resulting momentum.

The bike's brakes screeched, sounding very old and very nearly broken from their harsh abuse.

People cried out in indignation, while others giggled, particularly the females, at Merlin's regular clumsiness.

'Sorry for the rush very morning,' Merlin said, while turning a very flattering hue of tomato red at the embarrassment of almost colliding with several mothers, children and business men.

X

Merlin had crossed the crossing, and was almost at Ealdor High, when he spotted his best friend, the Arthur Pendragon.

Now, Arthur Pendragon was a bit elusive, because he was new this year, no one really knowing who his parents were, where he lived and such like, but he and Merlin were fast friends, thick as thieves, despite the constant banter and... well, you'll see,

'Hey!' Merlin shouted, a bit whiny, as he caught up to Arthur on his bike, listening to his MP3, headphones plugged into his ear sockets.

Upon realising Merlin's presence next to him, Arthur stopped the little beating of his hands to the rhythm of his music, smiled brightly straight at Merlin, who was peddling alongside him now, and pulled out a headphone, the one closest to Merlin so he could hear him better, so the right one.

'Arthur!' Merlin called again, even though Arthur was well in range.

'Hey Merlin,' Arthur grinned, 'Cutting it close this morning, don't you think?' Arthur proceeding to be a smug dickhead, the air around him just oozing his self-satisfaction, 'Maybe you should get up earlier.' The suggestion that he was so almighty in knowledge and cool in style did not go unnoticed on Merlin.

'That's priceless coming from you!' Merlin exclaimed, clearly warmly irritated by Arthur's teasing. He didn't mind really, but Arthur could be so... Arthur sometimes!

'Fell back to sleep, didn't you?' Arthur provoked, putting on a mocking tone and higher voice, his grin never failing, his pearly teeth shining, with the last remnants of saliva disappearing in the next breeze on this GOD AWFUL HOT DAY!

'Shut up!' Merlin said, very much flustered, and sped on ahead into the school gates...

Then actually into the school, Merlin boiling and blushing at Arthur's laughter, bright and brilliant, deep and deafening, just like his smile and the sun above.

'What's in the basket?' Arthur called as he was the one to catch up this time.

'None of your business!' Merlin shouted, knowing so very well that Arthur thought it "absolute class" that Merlin of all people, of all boys, had a straw basket on his bike.

Merlin was not a girl! No matter what Arthur said, and how often he reminded him.

It was bloody irritating, Merlin thought: he and Arthur were practically the same age, yet Arthur still acted like he was older.

Arthur was unnaturally fit for his age; muscular, toned. All his clothes were comfortably tight on his skin, not because he bought them like that for the style, but because they sized on him like that anyway.

Today, Arthur was wearing a dark red t-shirt, his school short-sleeve shirt open, overhanging him as it gusted in another breeze, or by the bike's motions. On his left wrist he wore a navy sweatband.

Merlin never saw him without it.

'Come on, tell me,' Arthur spoke, with genuine, radiant apology in his voice for vexing Merlin so.

X

Merlin crashed into the classroom, near the top floor now.

Bloody sixth form layout!

He panted to his desk, and thumped down into it, catching his breath, his bag being flung to his side.

Merlin's desk was on the second column from the left, on the left being a large rectangular window, overlooking the central courtyard. There were six columns in total, each with six seats in a row.

'Barely made it again,' Lancelot said with the appearance of being unimpressed but was amused because it was Merlin. Lancelot sat on Merlin's left, which made Lance on the column closest to the window.

Lancelot was your classic "good guy".

He had a shorter hair cut this year, and was very "knightly" in his actions towards others.

His reading glasses were profound brown, rectangles.

Merlin had a distant thought that the early bird and punctual prefect was hogging all his much needed breeze.

'Why don't you give us some variety and be late for a change,' at the end of this, Lancelot turned the page of his probably textbook, Merlin thought.

He may have sworn at Lance under his breath... maybe twice.

Upon hearing this, Arthur came up behind Lance and came to protect Merlin's virtue, 'Why so early this morning Lance?' Arthur pushed him with his elbow as boys do in such situations of teasing, 'Forget to jerk yourself off this morning?' He whispered loudly in his ear then pulled away, bubbling with hilarity.

At this, Lancelot turned round to Arthur, clearly shocked and going a bit pale at the mention of such things, while Merlin looked on in mirth.

Merlin realised Arthur's grin never faulted.

And then that grin was directed at Merlin, and from the glint in Arthur's eye, it was as if Arthur was checking that Merlin found him funny, the way his features paused, still smiling of course, still chuckling of course, but paused in waiting certainly supported the idea.

And having a face like that thrust at him, filled with so much life and big blue eyes, how could Merlin not give Arthur his reward?

'Ha Ha, very funny,' Lancelot said with equal laughs as he and Arthur then proceeded to greet each other with punches to the arms and a mini arm wrestle as Arthur sat down behind him; which made Arthur at a diagonal to Merlin, southwest, if you like.

'Just in time,' Merlin said to himself, thankful that he didn't have to do yet another detention for lack of punctuality.

But there was another feeling that Merlin was consulting: he felt a silent pool of warmth in the pit of his stomach, which then flushed to the contours of his skin. This wasn't an uncharacteristic reaction to Arthur's antics, Merlin had always experienced these glows within when he was around Arthur, but they were worrying him as of late, because they were becoming a lot more significant.

At that moment, the teacher walked in, Dr. Gaius, with a suspicious and very ominous looking pile of papers.

Merlin looked on in horror at them and his sudden dark thoughts were beginning to rage, but he was distracted by Arthur who poked him in the shoulder with his voice, 'We're getting lucky this week,' he said, still way too happy for a Wednesday morning.

Merlin turned round, his full attention now on Arthur and his beaming features, 'We're lucky? I'm the lucky one, I had to race all the way here!'

'Excuse me,' Arthur said, pulling a face with a hidden grin.

Merlin was about to make a very clever comeback, that was until Dr. Gaius spoke up, 'Now class, why do you think I took so long to get here,' he proclaimed, while waving a booklet-like piece of paper in his hand.

'Not a test!' Someone whined in the back.

'Yes, Mr. Macken: a nice, surprise test to check your progress.'

The class groaned loudly in mutual angst.

Merlin suddenly lunged forward in his seat, hands slapped down, face drained of all blood and panicking quietly inside his mind, 'What!?' he shouted, clearly panicking.

X

Merlin's got to say, that he's pretty lucky most of the time, not only that, but he has good instincts too. Because of that, his grades are okay. He knew he wasn't a brain, but he wasn't a complete idiot either.

Dr. Gaius was patrolling the room, checking no one was cheating and such like. Merlin glanced to Lance; of course, he was getting really into it. But when his eyes got to Arthur...

The guy was fucking sleeping!

Or at least dozing, which was just as bad!

Dr. Gaius noticed this, and when he got to Arthur's desk, lifted the exam and found it fully tried, every question answered.

However, when Dr. Gaius got to Merlin, he found Merlin in a different state to both that of his friends.

Merlin's thoughts were as follows:

'Is this a fucking IQ test?! Who likes an IQ test on a bloody Wednesday morning?

And what do they show anyway? What happens if you get good grades but then do shit in an IQ test? Does that mean people will think you've cheated or the IQ test was shit to begin with? But what happens if you reverse it? What happens if you do shit in exams but have a really high IQ? Does that mean that you're mentally challenged or just lazy? Tests and exams are completely pointless...'

Dr. Gaius loomed over Merlin's left shoulder quite menacingly, then said loudly, 'You have five minutes remaining,' then walked on.

Merlin was stuck on question 13... of 30.

'I'm not dumb... by most standards!

This time doesn't count!'

X

Another new thing to this year's sixth form, Merlin lamented with much sorrow, was that every student had to take an hour's lesson on "Food Tech" each Wednesday, but it wouldn't be one of their options and they wouldn't be graded; it was under this new programme trying to get students better "Life Skills".

So as you can guess, next was Merlin's Food Tech lesson.

If Merlin was asked, he would say that he wasn't especially skilled in anything, but he wasn't a walking disaster either.

Today they were making stir fry or curry or something because as yet another programme to help communities they were having a, "Cultural Creativity Week" in schools, it didn't affect the sixth form that much because they needed to focus on their studies, so for them it basically meant cooking non-British foods for a week, which most families did anyway.

Merlin, with chopsticks as was dared by Arthur, his chosen partner for Food Tech because otherwise he really wouldn't survive it, tried to move a king prawn into the wok. However, they must have put too much oil into it or something, because the next thing Merlin knew was that he was backing and hopping away from the wok, burnt hand scalded with hot liquid. He then, obviously, knocked into somebody who nudged him out their way, resulting in Merlin grabbing for a chopping board because his balance was absolutely terrible. But the chopping board was half on half off the table with a cabbage on it. So when Merlin tried to secure his landing with its aid, the chopping board fell to the floor, making Merlin crash down and the cabbage to be catapulted into his and Arthur's wok; the oil spilled over the sides from the impact, and then it caught fire.

Merlin laid on the floor, sprawled out, clutching his burnt hand, while the teacher panicked for him, 'Why are you all just standing there!' she screamed calmly, 'Get a fire extinguisher!'

Will got it, which was good of him, and blasted the contains at the wok...

Which made it slip everywhere, thus there was a huge havoc.

Arthur, throughout all of this, was bloody kicking himself with laughter, splitting his sides with it, practically doubled over.

Merlin glared at him with vehemence.

He was going to fucking kill that blonde!

'Again,' Merlin thought to himself, as the teacher glared at him with vehemence, 'an exception!'

X

Merlin was also pretty careful most the time, so he didn't get hurt too bad.

They were in the courtyard, walking to their spot of "hanging out".

By "they" I mean Merlin and Morgana, who Merlin described as a, "sane witch" if you can use those two words together.

Merlin was a bit down from what had happened that morning, and thus further depressed when he remembered Arthur had a football meeting that break time.

The courtyard was a large area in the middle of the school buildings. Between the Arts and Sciences blocks it resided, with four lush green patches of summer grass, split with a dirt path of cream gravel like stones in the shape of a plus sign. There was a chestnut tree on the southeast grassy patch, placed on the northwest corner of that patch, so it kind of gave shade to the courtyard's junction.

Quite a few students came here, mainly the upper years.

Merlin noticed Kay and Valiant being the dickheads they were, Kay swinging Valiant by his feet.

'Idiots' Merlin thought with a passion.

He and Morgana were walking together so that they were coming up for the junction, the chestnut tree on their right.

'Are you sure you're alright?' Morgana asked with giggles but a concern was there.

Merlin noticed all her laughing, but decided to let it slip; Morgana was a bitch to everyone.

'Yeah, but my hand still bloody hurts' and Merlin reached for it in his dismay, as like a wounded animal would do to inspire sympathy.

Morgana was alien to emotions such as compassion.

She giggled on,

'But didn't Arthur give you something for it?'

Merlin was going to answer, but just then they heard a bellow, and the next thing Merlin knows, is that Valiant is flying towards him, Morgana dodged it out the way, and now they're both flat on their faces, of course, after they had a very painful encounter with the tree trunk.

Everyone started to crowd round them, asking if they were okay, but all Merlin was fixed on was going cherry red in anger, screaming, 'Get the fuck off me you idiot!'

Morgana giggled on.

X

Ealdor High also has a "volunteer" group in the sixth form: basically where the higher years can help the younger students with work, clean the school, organise inter-year events, and in exchange they get big brownie points to put on their CV in the future.

There were such two girls on this group, Morgana, as strange as Merlin thought, with her good friend and sister, Morgause. These two leading ladies were helping a Year 11, Gwen, as she liked to be called.

Gwen had a crush on Lancelot, so the girls were basically trying to get her to ask him out.

Currently, now that the two volunteers had cohering free periods, and Gwen was let out early, the three were in the field at the back of the school, looking out onto the school's PE courts, where Arthur had just thrown a basketball at Lancelot's head for probably saying something smart, and Lancelot was now chasing him.

The three girls sat on the field's hill, which was only split in two by a cement path which was designed and shaped to connect the courts with the other buildings of the school. Save for the numerous trees, they had a pretty good view.

'I don't think this has anything to do with your blood type horoscope,' Morgause wisely spoke.

'Yeah but it says they're not compatible!' Morgana cried out in terror.

Gwen groaned in between them as they half spoke over her head and half checked out the scene before them.

'It could be dicey' Morgana said gravely, putting the magazine down into her lap and giving a sad sigh.

'Who cares if it's dicey, she's the one making the decision.' Morgause said back, taking a sip of her coke.

Gwen made a small noise, high and nervous, but no words came out.

X

So that was Merlin's day...

After school or at least 1pm, when their school day finished giving the sixth form, "independent study", Merlin, Arthur and Lancelot typically went to the local court not too far from the school grounds.

However, Merlin and Mithian had to move the morning's test papers to the prep room to be marked. Merlin thought that was such a weird place to put them, but as it turns out they needed to be kept somewhere safe; somewhere that was locked and out of bounds so no "tapering" could be done.

Merlin was touched that the teachers trusted him to not change some answers which he thought were undeniably abysmal.

Merlin and Mithian were in the classroom, both with brooms since Dr. Gaius asked them to do a quick clean up too.

Mithian came up to Merlin, who was eyeing the papers with a dreading for the future.

'Hey, Merlin,' Mithian said, quietly, realising Merlin was in some kind of trance.

Merlin startled and looked to her, upon realising it wasn't some ghost about to kill him.

Mithian was nice, Merlin supposed, a little too nice if he was honest. She was pretty but not in the sort of stereotypical way: she had nice eyes, nice hair, fair skin... but it was completely out of the league of most of the girls at the school. She seemed... mature, in her looks, Merlin thought that was it.

'Oh, hey, Mithian,' Merlin smiled, forgetting the exams for a bit.

Mithian spoke up, obviously finding it strange and a bit scary to be talking to Merlin.

He wondered why she'd find talking to him nerve-wracking.

'Have you decided to go with Arts or Sciences yet?'

Another new programme: the school had decided that for the last year of sixth form, since most of the students would be dropping a subject and only carry three onto A2, they thought the most "capable" students should do some fancy extra course in a chosen Arts or Sciences path.

Merlin was one of those, "capable" yet seriously; he thought he couldn't handle it.

Merlin didn't really get it, but the school loved brownie points so...

'Not yet,' Merlin said, looking down; it was moments like these that Merlin realised he wasn't a child anymore, and it hurt and troubled him in equal measures: the unknown just behind the door, yet he tended to ignore the future a lot, saved time in the present worrying.

'How 'bout you?' he said, with a weak smile and a weaker spirit, trying to change the topic off of him.

'Still thinking,' she said, maybe relieved that someone else still hadn't decided when the deadline for the slips was in a fortnight. She smiled then, her full lips stretched thin around her teeth.

'Jesus,' Merlin thought, 'she has a really big smile!'

'Good,' he returned the sentiment, 'I'm glad I'm not the only one,' then he looked to the white board in front of them because Mithian was way too radiant talking about this.

She was usually a shy kind of girl.

She calmed down, facial feature wise, thank god.

'It's a big decision to make,' her voice now a bit quicker, a bit quieter.

'Hey, Merlin!'

Arthur.

His voice could be heard from the courtyard, loud and obnoxious.

Merlin and Mithian both turned their heads.

'How much longer you going to make us wait?' He grinned out.

Merlin legged it to the window, infuriated by Arthur's audacity.

'You could always come and help!' He shouted out into the lower level.

Lancelot was standing coolly, watching, while Arthur cycled round him on his bike, looking up at Merlin, in some twisted form of a provoking dance.

'Like that's ever going to happen.'

'Arthur smiles way too much!'

However Lance stepped in before Merlin tried to throw his broom at Arthur's face, 'Just hurry up alright?'

'Yeah yeah,' he brushed off.

He turned round then, to take the papers up, because he was kind like that and said Mithian didn't have to do it, but he found Mithian blushing, then realising Merlin was staring, kind of startled.

She recovered herself quickly, but said something else, while Merlin placed his broom in the cupboard next to the board and went to pick up the hill of exams, 'I wonder,' she started tentatively, 'I wonder what Arthur's going to do,' Merlin paused while struggling with the tests.

You know, for paper, these were bloody heavy!

'I don't know,' he said, because it was obvious Mithian said something anyway for an answer, 'Probably Science,' his voice was strained, just like his arms were aching, 'he's not the book type, lazy sod,' he said the last bit in a whisper, because cursing Arthur was easy when he was in physical pain, because Arthur was usually the cause of it.

'Anyway, why'd you bring up Arthur?' Now Merlin was curious...

She couldn't answer, and by the way she looked, it didn't seem she wanted too, because Will came in just then, saying quite unbecomingly, 'Merlin! Hurry up and bring those papers up to the Prep Room,' then left, slamming the door.

X

School stairs are steeper than the usual kind, or so Merlin thought, as he climbed the mountain of a school. The staircases were of the classic layout: one leap of stairs going up, then a flat bit like platform where you turn to start another leap of stairs, then after that you're on the next floor.

'What a hassle!' Merlin exclaimed miserably, or it would have been, if his voice wasn't muffled by the stack of papers he was carrying and the exertion his body had to go through to do it.

Once he got to the top floor of the school... it seemed so desolate.

The corridors had dull green shiny floors, with a greyish white paint for the walls. Some corkboards were put up here and there, telling students about what's what and what's going on. He turned around, so he was facing the massive window that was behind the spiral of stairs, opposite to him: the light was shining in, quite beautifully, Merlin thought.

Once he then got to the prep room, his arms were ready to prepare for mass mutiny.

Thank the heaven's that the door to the prep room was a sliding one, so Merlin could jog it with his foot, otherwise he'd have to let go of the exams and he really didn't want to have to pick them up again.

He staggered to the teacher's table, or something that looked like a teacher's table, and plonked the papers down.

He was mildly sweaty.

He was about to leave, when something caught his eye.

He saw movement in the other room; then noises of chairs wobbling and tables being knocked.

Merlin cautiously stepped up to the door, knowing no one should be in there.

He reached for the yellow brass handle slowly, turned the knob then burst in quickly.

Merlin was ready to be all high and mighty and tell the little brats to go do something worthwhile with their lives, but, 'It's empty...' Merlin said aloud, glancing around at the workbenches filled with science equipment: conical flasks, oxides in special tubs, carbonate powder spills, and the general apparatus everywhere. There were a few glass and wooden cabinets on the walls, filled with similar stuff, and with the light streaming in from the window; everything had a sheen of reflecting light to it. On the far wall to Merlin's right, was the other door to the room.

He strolled slowly around the tables, looking for... something, something to indicate maybe someone was hiding, because he was sure it sounded like someone was in here.

He walked round skeletons and fossils, yet... all seemed well.

Merlin went to the other door then, to see if some little shit was behind it, but when he went to tug it open and shout, it was locked.

Merlin then felt a mild discomfort in his stomach.

The person, if there even was any, could only have gotten in through the other door, but Merlin had seen no one.

Now a bit more freaked out then he'd like to be, Merlin went to organise the exams: the quicker he did that, the quicker he could get out.

But upon moving past one of the bench tables, he must have dislodged something, because a seed dropped down.

The noise of it hitting the floor and bouncing a bit echoed in the silent room.

Merlin paused, scrunching his face up in examination.

It looked like a Deku Nut if he was perfectly honest.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, someone moved in the shadows.

Panicking out of his mind and senses in disarray from the abrupt stimulation, Merlin tried to turn to see who it was, but his feet got tangled and he fell backwards, slapping the floor and elbowing the "Deku Nut".

He yelped in confusion, but he didn't see a ceiling.

High pitched noises assaulted his ears, and it felt like he was on a rollercoaster, speeding upwards in a seat that was accelerating tenfold by the second. He was properly yelling now, frightened beyond believe, eyes wide as he hit an upside down lake, water entrapping his body, bubbles everywhere, then he was spun round and was pelted out of this body of water, into a sensation that felt like he was falling. He was tumbling, free-wheeling, cart-wheeling, spiralling, whirling, spinning, turning, rotating, revolving, slamming through the air with hurrying, escalating velocity. All he could see was this blinding whiteness, yet it was as if he could see the air itself move past him. He heard it, sharp like daggers in his ear, increasing in strength, until there was a critical point where it was all just one high pitched stream of beaming noise. Then, as if in a dream, he suddenly struck the floor, and with a jolt as if he had died in this dream, battered back down a second time... into the prep room, lying unharmed where he would have fallen naturally.

X

They usually played baseball for a bit, only because they couldn't really play basketball because Merlin was hopeless at the sport, much to the enjoyment of the other two, mainly Arthur, and they couldn't play tennis, because Arthur won every match and you couldn't really have a fair match of tennis with three people.

So there they were, in the blazing heat, playing baseball; the sun beating down on them with only a few clouds in the sky, and even they were purest white.

Merlin laughed at how American it all was, the sport that is. Lancelot gave him a disapproving look, but said no more.

One would throw; the other bat, and the third field.

Arthur was still laughing at Merlin, after he told them of his, "accident". He didn't go into details of the strange experience he had, he left that part out.

Merlin was throwing at the moment, Arthur batting, Lance fielding.

If Merlin was a volcano right now, Arthur would be Pompeii.

'Are you an idiot or what?' Arthur chuckled, the bat shaking in his hands, ready, 'My stomachs killing me!'

'Come on,' Lance, ever the peacemaker, 'it's not that funny,' he called from where he was.

Merlin turned to Arthur, looking unimpressed and very much discomfited now, 'He's right,' he shouted, maybe a bit too loudly, 'You're laughing way too hard,' and Merlin proceeded to throw the ball, aiming for Arthur's head.

Now, it wasn't that Merlin was a bad thrower, it was just because he was angry, and Arthur was distracting him: that's why Arthur had to jog a bit to the right to hit the ball.

As it soared through the air, Arthur's laughter could still be distinguished, 'But it's hilarious!'

By this time, Merlin was glaring knives at him and wondered if a bat through the head would shut him up, while Lance caught the ball and called for Merlin to catch it.

He did, never looking away from Arthur, eyes on his prey.

Lance was mildly impressed by the catch, and looked on.

'Shut up!' He threw the ball again, this time, hitting Arthur in the chest.

Merlin smiled, happy now.

'Do you wanna go to my dad's for a CT scan?'

Merlin was both flattered for the concern but also a bit shocked that Lance could think he could ever injury himself that badly!

'No! Thank you very much! I'm fine, alright?'

Arthur had got the ball now and lobbed it at Merlin, he ducked, Lance catching it.

'Take it easy,' Lance said, cool despite the summer's sun, 'but it could happen again.'

'It won't' Merlin shouted, violently offended that his two best friends could gang up on him like this, both with different tactics, both with the similar effect of making Merlin feel like a complete and utter idiot!

'And if it does,' he started, running to catch Lance's throw, 'I have a serious problem.'

He was, quite cleverly, trying to change the tilt on this and just go with the fact that he had a dilemma when it came to balance, but then Arthur ruined it,

'You're right,' he grinned, 'it's not normal for someone to collapse like that.'

Merlin saw red, and if they saw steam coming out his ears, he wouldn't be surprised.

'Hey! Someone else was in that room!'

And suddenly, by Merlin's outburst, the air changed.

Arthur sobered up, and Lance looked aloofly apprehensive.

'What do you mean?'

'Like... who?' Arthur stammered.

'Hmm I wonder,' Merlin dripped out with sarcasm, giving Arthur a very pointed look; it wouldn't be the first time Arthur went out his way to plan Merlin's demise.

But apparently, it wasn't so this time and Arthur looked back with innocence, 'You think I had something to do with it?' his voice was placidly higher than normal.

Change victims.

'Maybe not,' and on the last syllable he turned to Lance. The prefect wasn't that much of a plotter, but that didn't mean he didn't like teasing Merlin when he got the chance, especially when fuelled by Arthur's influence.

Lancelot looked put out and a mixture of affronted and afraid of Merlin's doom gaze, 'So I'm the bad guy suddenly?'

And there was silence, apart from the occasional cricket and birdsong.

'Who else could of it have been?'

X

After a little bite to eat, they decided it was too hot for baseball, so resorted to just a nice simple game of catch.

In a triangle on the court, the dried grass a dull creamy yellow; things were starting to go back to normal.

'Man it's hot out here,' Arthur complained. He recently took off his school shirt, so he was just left in his t-shirt. It was sleeveless though, giving a perfect display of his toned arms.

Merlin didn't realise he was staring.

'Suck it up! The summer holidays are almost here anyway.'

Lance's voice snapped him out of it, and he was thankful neither had noticed.

'Yeah,' Merlin said, voice cheerful and hopeful, hopefully masking his inner flush, 'We should go someplace.'

The ball was with Arthur now, he threw it to Merlin while saying, 'How about a night gig?'

'We did that last month. That's all you ever want to do.' Merlin teased, and threw to Lance.

'Well do you have any better ideas?'

'How about the beach?' The beach was nice.

'In this heat!' Arthur exclaimed, acting as if he had just been told the world was about to end. He caught Lance's ball.

'Well then how about a fireworks festival? I heard there's one in Mercia in about a fortnight. Tickets still selling.'

Arthur perked up, obviously lightening to that idea.

'Yeah, that's a possibility.'

Merlin beamed.

Lance coughed. Merlin hoped he wasn't about to get a cold. He didn't think Lancelot had hay fever.

Lance eyed downwards, Merlin following the movement.

Oh right! Merlin had the ball.

He quickly tossed it.

'Where do you want to go Lance?'

The boy smiled knowingly, a little something playing on the way the edges of his lips were tugged by his cheeks, 'to the library.'

'What?' both Merlin and Arthur shouted in union.

'I'm hitting the books,' and then hurled the ball happily to Arthur, 'you two do the festival.'

'Your brain's gonna melt if you keep shoving shit in there during this heat wave,' and Arthur lobbed the ball to Merlin, giving him a playful wink.

Merlin smiled sweetly back, agreeing whole-heartedly; eyes scrunching.

'You guys don't study nearly enough!' Lance shouted, defending his honour.

'I don't have to, I'm smart enough already,' Arthur cocked out.

Lance looked unconvinced; then once he secured Merlin's shot, directed himself to Merlin, hoping to push some sense into at least one of the two.

'What are you going to be after school then?'

Merlin caught the ball.

'What?' he said softly, quietly.

That was unfair, pinning the spotlight on Merlin.

He shoved the ball at Lance's leg, 'A hotel tycoon!'

Lance recovered, not as athletic as Arthur, Merlin thought slyly, but still worthy of a medal.

'Get real! It's nothing to joke about.'

Why did Lance always have to be so serious all the time!

'What are you gonna do Arthur?' Merlin said, maybe a tad bit too desperately for back-up, while they all stared up at Lance's high shot into the air, making a point somehow, some way.

'Who me?' Arthur stepped back, never looking down, paused a bit, and Merlin thought that was uncharacteristic, 'I don't know.'

The sun then ignited in a wave, so Arthur couldn't see the landing meteor, which promptly knocked him on the forehead.

Merlin burst into giggles.

Lance looked on.

'You two have got to start taking life more seriously.'

X

Arthur was washing his sweaty face in the nearby fountain, in the shade of an avenue of trees that was next to the court.

Merlin wasn't looking at Arthur, studying various parts of him, when he realised the apples were still in his basket.

'Going already?' Lance accused sadly, as Merlin rushed to his bike.

'Yeah, I just remembered something my mum wanted me to do.'

Arthur then quickly shot up with extraordinary speed, looking like a lost deer in headlights, but he joked it off, 'No no no no: don't be a party pooper, your leaving me with the nerd!'

But Merlin was already halfway down the avenue.

'Guess so, see ya,' Merlin turned a bit on his bike to wave them goodbye.

'Come on Merlin, your heartless.'

Merlin giggled how Arthur's voice broke slightly on the "heartless".

X

'Let's get going,' a tired, large woman uttered out to her child, a carefree spirit of eight, and a healthy looking boy.

'But the train's almost coming!'

They were on Avalon's Descent.

Merlin then whizzed past, almost knocking her over.

'Hey! Watch where you're going!'

'I'm sorry,' Merlin whined out.

The ruby lights started flashing, their high beeping started, and the barriers started lowering.

Merlin pulled the brakes.

They moved, but didn't work.

In that moment, Merlin felt his heart move, but not work either.

He tried again; it was probably him just being stupid.

The brakes clicked, but the bike still rattled past the crowds on the hill, shops and houses hurtling past him.

He tried again, and again, but still the bike didn't respond. Merlin started panicking, cold flushes subsiding into full blown rushes of energy. His mind was buzzing, and he looked up to see the barriers had completed their drop.

The trains were coming round the corner now.

He put his legs down, his heels scrapping the cement as he yelled out his alarm.

People started to look now, confused.

Merlin's bike shuddered as it picked up speed; Merlin's left shoe flying past him. He forgot to redo his laces after he left Arthur and Lance.

Merlin was now completely screaming, but before anyone could do anything he collided with the barrier with a gong like echo.

The bike jumped up, flipping Merlin off it, resulting in a catapult like motion to fling Merlin into the path of the oncoming train.

He saw the world upside down, people gathered at the crossway, hopeless in helping him.

He heard the world silently, thoughts and ideas passing by him sadly.

The train smashed into his body and sped past, the crash and crunch deafening.

X

The next thing Merlin knew was that he was falling off his bike, aching all over, the back wheel still clicking.

'Hey! Could you watch where you're going?' a tired, large woman uttered out to Merlin with venom.

He looked up, absolutely confused and a little bit thoughtless.

'So, are you going to say something, the least you could do is give an apology!' She chucked Merlin's bike off her, strong for her age, but Merlin supposed that was because she was a bit large.

'I'm sorry,' Merlin began, 'I'm really sorry.'

'Do you know why God gave you eyes on the front of your head? It was so you could see where you're going!' She had some pipes on her.

'Yes, I'll try and be more careful next time, I'm really sorry.'

She humped up, grabbed her child's hand, but he pulled back, 'But the train's almost here!'

'What?' Merlin thought, stunned to the ground, 'It can't be...'

The ruby lights started flashing, their high beeping started, and the barriers started lowering.

The train zoomed past, the wheels booming up and down, or across the tracks, Merlin was unknown to it.

'Impossible!' Merlin said aloud, and was from then on speechless and felt a wee bit like he was about to faint.

Good thing he was on the ground then.

X

'Auntie Witch!' Merlin screamed out when he saw her coming down the grand staircase.

Merlin's aunt worked at the local art gallery, which was known for its leading expertise in restoring old masterpieces.

Nimueh was one with such skills.

She was gliding down the stairs, which were in the back centre of the entrance hall, which was decked out in chocolate browns and deep hues of wood that you only expect in an arts museum.

Merlin had cycled all the way there, once he was able to move his body. He cycled all the way there, eyes never blinking, vision hazy, and it was only when he went to open the doors to the gallery that he realised his hands were still shaking. Then he noticed his legs felt increasingly numb, and, probably coming out of some state of shock, was halfway through something like a nervous breakdown.

'Auntie Witch!' Merlin screamed out, running to meet her halfway, the bag of apples in hand.

'I'm alive aren't I? There's nothing wrong with me is there? You can see me can't you? I'm not dead am I? Please say you can hear me!' Merlin babbled out with haste unparalleled.

Nimueh, in a long dark skirt with a white shirt and cardigan, looked at Merlin in study.

Merlin waited for her answer, sincerely believing that he had well and truly lost it this time.

'You seem a little flushed, my dear,' she proceeded to touch his cheek, but she had to stop, because Merlin began to spontaneously self-combust into almost tears. His sharp throaty sobs echoed in the large polished hall, always followed by a heavy sniff.

He wasn't one for crying in public, gave many girls many speeches against it, but he was at the edge of his sanity, so Nimueh quickly took him to her office, which was a nicely decorated set of rooms near the top floor, some for leisure and comfort purposes, some for work.

X

'What you experienced was a "time leap"' Nimueh softly spoke with smooth delivery.

Merlin, sitting compacted on her sofa, cradled the mug of green tea she had given him to calm his nerves.

His cheeks were still a bit wet, but he had mainly recovered now.

She sat from her desk's chair, turned round obviously to face him.

'Time leap?' Merlin said in half disbelief and half astonishment.

Nimueh paused, as if confused her relation had never heard of such a thing. She spoke next with a tone as if to clear the air, 'You were about to be hit by a train, correct?'

'Yes,' Merlin said, feeling serene, surreal chills down his lower back at the thought.

'Shortly after being thrown from your bike?'

'Yeah'

'Then when you came-to, you had gone back a few minutes in time, just before the train came through the crossing?'

'Exactly!'

'That's what you call a time leap' she smiled, her eyes disappearing in her mirth at Merlin's expression.

He was blown out of his mind.

'You see, time can never be reversed, time itself can never go back, so it was you who went back in time,'

Merlin still looked a bit confused, his face mirroring the condition of the room they were in, which was littered with reference books and oil paints.

'In other words, you leapt through time and returned to the past,' Nimueh explained with finality.

Merlin paused, felt a beat naturally pass.

'Are you sure?'

Nimueh did that smile again, 'Yes, it is a rare occurrence, but not unheard of.'

Merlin's mind was screaming with... what's a word or phrase to describe the sensation that all you knew about the physical world was actually close to a load of bollocks?

And how come his aunt knew so much?

He settled that to her just being the type to know, she was like that, and he didn't like asking her too many questions anyway: he worried about where her line was.

'It happened to me,' now Merlin was definitely listening.

'Say you wake up one Sunday morning and feel like doing nothing at all: all you want is a nice lie in and then to just do gentle things like play games, watch films or draw a picture... sound familiar?'

'But then,' and here, she seemed genuinely upset and dramatic, 'before you know it's already evening,' she paused, as if to hold back tears, and Merlin didn't know whether she was taking the piss or sincerely sad about recalled thoughts, 'it comes as quite a shock.'

'You're like, "What happened to my precious Sunday?"'

She was so strange!

'I wish you'd take me more seriously, I'm not joking around here!'

She smiled again and now Merlin was confused for more reasons, 'Anyway, it's a good thing that you're alive.'

Merlin didn't appreciate the tone.

X

Merlin lay on his bed, exhausted to say the least, and let the thoughts rush through his mind.

"Leaping through time?" Who heard of a more ridiculous notion?

Nimueh kept on going on about how if Merlin got the technique down; he could probably do it again... and consciously this time.

But it wasn't possible!

Was it?

He did fly through the air, he supposed...

But he was scared: he felt the train crash into him; he felt the metal against his skin cold and unnerving.

He could still feel an ominous press at his side if he concentrated enough.

He died once.

And, with these dark thoughts, Merlin curled up on the bed, staring at nothing in particular.

But then, quite surprisingly, he was overcome with this insistent need to try it again. The nagging was extremely sudden and overwhelmingly powerful.

So, just to shut up his mind, (seriously, at times Merlin thought he had some kind of split-personality disorder), he stood on his bed, duvet soft and dipping under his feet, really couldn't fathom that he was deliberately considering this as a legit option... closed his eyes and leapt.

'Like this?' Freya asked sweetly.

She and Hunith were in the kitchen, preparing dinner, and Hunith was showing her how to properly cut an onion.

When rapidly they heard a large bang followed by a clattering sound.

'What was that?'

But Hunith would never know, as Merlin lay in his room, holding onto his throbbing head for dear life.

So it didn't work... see? It's impossible.

But Merlin wanted to try again, he didn't know explicitly why, maybe to cement the fact that he was indeed still here, still living, and not going slowly insane.

Because if it worked then... Merlin hadn't died, so then, all was well, he reasoned.

Freya started walking up the stairs onto the landing, perplexed as to the sound's origin.

She opened Merlin's bedroom door to find him opening his window and proceeding to jump out.

'No! Merlin, don't do it!'

She lunged for him, pulled him by his t-shirt and swung him back into the room, Merlin's yelp very clear.

Laying on the floor, yet again so bloody confused as to how he kept ending up like this, Merlin was welcomed with Freya's face filled with feeling, 'I'm so sorry, this is all my fault isn't it?' She was crying now and Merlin really didn't know what the fuck was going on anymore. The world had gone insane, not him!

'Why would you do this Merlin? Was it because I ate your pudding? I know it was custard and you love custard but I couldn't resist! I'm so sorry!'

If there was some sort of global award for hysterics, Merlin would definitely enter his sister.

He just got up, thinking she'd completely lost the plot and that he'd have to "leap" somewhere else, dinner was in about half an hour anyway.

But Freya was having none of it: she latched her arms around his waist and begged for him to stay, 'I don't want you to die!'

'Nobody's going to die!'

'Where are you going then?'

'Up the road!'

'If it's pudding you want, I'll go buy it.'

'Don't worry about it!'

By this time, he was able to disentangle himself from the she-limpet and was trudging down the stairs, his mind in two completely different places. He felt like a ghost right now, not really knowing what to do.

'Are you mad?'

'No!' he shouted kindly, and slammed the front door.

X

Merlin found that he had made his way to Avalon River.

Avalon River was a stretch of water which was really like a massive lake, because you could only barely see what was on the other side.

It was a great place for sunsets.

To get to the shore, which uncannily resembled a shingle beach, you had to go down a slope, which at the top had the footpath.

Merlin was on this slope, looking out into the sunset, lost.

There were some kids trying to skip stones on the water, and he smiled faintly when they failed.

'There is no way! How can someone leap back in time! It is definitely NOT possible!

No chance. At least, it's not something I can do.'

With this last reassuring thought, he got up, brushed the grass off his bum, and started walking back up the slope.

Once he reached the top...

Merlin turned around so quickly he was surprised he didn't get whiplash, and pelted down the slope.

His gasps attracted all sorts of attention, and Merlin was just going with his instincts.

He yelled as he leaped, on the last bits of the shore, and the kids from earlier where struck dumb in amazement.

Merlin felt the same sensations as he did before, an increasing, constant falling.

He then crashed into his fridge.

The vibrating in his head wouldn't stop, and he only realised about after ten minutes rubbing his head that he was dressed in his school uniform.

He then started to panic, wondering where the hell he was, only to then discover the obvious fact that he was in his own home.

He didn't know why, but a part of his mind told him to open the fridge, so he did.

'Pudding?'

There it was: Merlin's custard pudding, the seal still wrapped on the top on the tub.

'My pudding, it's still here?'

He heard vaguely on the news that it was 12thJuly, a Tuesday.

Before things got anymore surreal and strange and bizarre, Merlin tucked into his custard, his taste buds singing.

Then the front door opened. Like a lightning bolt, Merlin hid behind the open kitchen door and he heard voices, voices he knew,

'How about that pudding?'

'I can eat it?'

'I'm pretty sure he'll be having something with Arthur.'

'I can have it then?'

'Yes, go on, I'll take the blame.'

'Yay!'

How could they!? His family was conspiring against him!

He jumped out from behind the door, infuriated and a bit wounded, 'There's no way you're getting it; this is mine!'

Hunith looked into the empty kitchen, she was sure the noise came from there, 'Merlin? When did you get home?' But no one answered, and she was very much mystified.

Merlin then found himself slamming into water.

Very cold water!

It entrapped him in an icy-amorous embrace, until he broke the surface, and panted for air, he was then so grateful he was near the shallow end.

He was in Avalon River.

But that wasn't important! 'Where's the pudding!' he shouted out loud, horrified. Then when a quick fruitless search gave him nothing, he swam to the shore and sulked, very wet, clothes ruined too, 'It's gone!'

But his ears found something interesting to listen to.

'Did you just see that jump that guy did?'

'Yeah'

'It was awesome!'

'You said it.'

'He vanished for a second too!'

'Oh come on! Get real! How could he just disappear? Now you're just lying.'

'I'm not lying, I saw it!'

And as the kids then started to bicker, Merlin's face dropped in realisation, his brain working at a mile a minute.

'Did I do it? A time leap?'

He opened the fridge door again, his custard pudding still there.

He grabbed it, and with likeness to a professor, who just discovered something truly remarkable, cried out, 'Delicious!'

Merlin then progressed to pace around his kitchen table, his face a little like a mad person, while stuffing his face silly.

'Wait a sec,' he started to mumble out between mouthfuls.

'This definitely isn't a dream!'

It wasn't: his house was very much real, so was his garden, so were the birds in that garden and the sounds of life around him; all of it was stimulating to his senses and none of it was fake or impartial in any way.

A bubble like sensation then started to break out in Merlin's body, starting at his core, then dissipating out into his limbs, when it reached his lips he gave the world a toothy grin, which he just couldn't resist.

The glee remained for as long as was dangerous.

'I can do it! I can leap through time!'