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The Wall of Arthur

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“Hello?”

“Is this Arthur Pendragon?”

“This is he. Who’s this?”

“Oh good, it’s the right number. I’m Merlin. You don’t know me or anything. I’m in this bathroom and it has tons of graffiti on the walls and there’s literally a wall dedicated to an Arthur Pendragon. Your name and number are on the wall. Seriously, did you know you have a whole wall full of stuff about you? I just need to know if you’re aware of the Wall d'Arthur.”

What?” About halfway through this person’s speech Arthur had choked on his own spit and started gasping at nothing in particular. He must have looked like a crazed student after a bad exam as he stopped in the middle of the lawn with a phone pressed to his ear.

“I’m guessing this is news to you. Brilliant. Wow, I was really hoping you didn’t know and I would enlighten you. It’s quite fascinating. Do you really have a cupcake tattooed on your ass?”

“No!” Arthur shouted too loudly and a pair of girls was eying him like they might pepper spray him if he got too close. He cleared his throat. “What the hell is going on?”

“Well not all of it’s bad.” The person on the phone, Merlin, said casually as if he knew Arthur personally. “There’s a couple waxing poetry about your bum, so cheers to you mate, I guess.”

“Where is this?”

“It’s in the center of campus, the restroom in North Hall.” Merlin replied. Arthur turned on his heel and started walking at a fast pace.

“Mate, you’re a legend.” Merlin was saying as Arthur walked. “The bathroom in the South Lecture Hall has all this political propaganda, but this one has the Wall of Arthur. You’re up there with Ché.”

Arthur let out a noise of frustration. “How did this even happen? Who even put my number there?”

“Don’t know. Do you mind if I add something? I have this overwhelming urge to participate in this. It’s like a mob mentality.”

“What?” Arthur rounded along a path and saw the building in sight. “Don’t add to it! Who the hell are you anyway?”

“I could write, something as if you were The Most Interesting Man in the World. ‘Arthur Pendragon doesn’t always drink beer, but when he does he drinks Dos Equis. Stay thirsty my friends.’”

“I wasn’t sure before because of the strangeness of the situation but now I’m positive you’re weird.”

“Thank you.” Merlin sang from the other end. “You should come by here and sign this wall. It’ll be Arthur Pendragon approved.”

“Alright whoever the hell you are, don’t deface university property. I’m coming to the lecture hall and seeing this for myself.”

Arthur entered the hall and found the large unisex restroom that Merlin had been talking about. He paused for a moment and then knocked. If he hadn’t stepped back as fast as he had, he would have been hit squarely in the nose when Merlin opened the door.

Merlin was about how Arthur thought he would be. He had on combat boots, a tight shirt, a red scarf, and black rimmed glasses. His fingernails were painted black and a leather bracelet looped around his wrist. His hair was ruffled like a bird’s nest and both his ears, which were rather large, were pierced with black studs. One ear had a dragon cuff curling around it. His eyes were crinkled with mirth and his lips were spread in a grin.

He had a phone to his ear, and when he said, “Arthur Pendragon, in the flesh! I think I might faint” it echoed in Arthur’s ear.

Arthur ended the call on his phone. “I guess I’m in the right place?”

“Come and see this.” Merlin grabbed Arthur by the arm, as if they had been friends for years, and pulled him into the bathroom. “Ta da!” Merlin sang.

Arthur looked at the tiled wall in front of him. “Holy fuck.”

“I know right?” Merlin was smiling far too widely in Arthur’s opinion.

The wall had his name on it, a tile for each letter of his name. His phone number was underneath it with a scribble that said ‘Prank call me!’ A closer inspection revealed that there were opinions about him all over the wall, just like a secondary school bathroom’s Hot or Not list.

Merlin read off a few of them in different voices: ‘His hair looks so soft.’ he said in a high pitched voice. ‘He’s a pompous ass.’ he said in a deeper one. ‘Fuck him!’ in a rough voice was followed by a light ‘Yes please!’

“Would you stop that!” Arthur snapped.

“Hey.” Merlin raised his hands. “It’s not me. Someone else wrote it. I could have not called you to let you know.”

Arthur had to agree with that, but Merlin’s complete amusement over the situation was a little irritating. Arthur wasn’t sure he knew what he was feeling. Mostly confused. A little violated.

“There’s a whole section right here dedicated to your bum.” Merlin pointed and Arthur changed that feeling to a lot violated.

“Thank you, Merlin” Arthur groaned.

“You’re welcome.” Merlin chimed as he popped opened a sharpie.

“What are you doing?” Arthur asked, as he hesitantly looked at the permanent marker.

“Contributing” Merlin grinned as he wrote down The Most Interesting Man in the World quote with a very good sketch of The Most Interesting Man in the World next to it.

Arthur must have been staring oddly because Merlin shrugged and said, “I’m an artist. I’m studying mathematics though.”

“You study maths?” Arthur said as he looked over Merlin. To be honest, Arthur had thought Merlin was studying art or something like it.

“Yeah, you ass.” Merlin rolled his eyes and offered the sharpie to Arthur. “Come on, sign the wall and make it official.”

“I will not!” Arthur protested.

“Come on, don’t be a stick in the mud.” Merlin drew an x with a line, just like a signature space. Arthur grumbled and took the marker, signing his name.

“Hm.” Merlin studied the signature.

“What?”

“You would be the kind of person with a fancy signature.” Merlin pointed at the wall where Arthur had signed.

“Oh for the love of-” Arthur rolled his eyes. “Does it matter?”

“Not really. So who hates your guts enough to do this? Oh! Better question: who loves you so much they need to express it on a tiled bathroom wall?”

Arthur shuddered. “God I hope it’s just a prank and not a stalker.”

“Do you think they want to wear your skin like a jacket?”

Arthur spluttered, “What the hell is wrong with you?”

Merlin snorted out a laugh, finding way too amusement in Arthur’s pain, and shrugged his shoulders. “Just kidding, mate. But on a serious note, who has your number and decided to put it up on the wall? Oh, that reminds me.” Merlin took the sharpie from Arthur’s hand and blacked out the number. It was the most rational thing he had done. Even Arthur hadn’t thought of that.

“Thanks.”

“No worries.” Merlin stuck the marker into his bag and gestured to the door. “Come on, let’s get out of the toilets like a bunch of freaks. I’ll buy you a Just-Got-a-Stalker-Coffee.”

“Wow, thanks.” Arthur said as Merlin dragged him out by the arm.

***

Over coffee Merlin and Arthur concluded that it was probably Vivian, Arthur’s ex-girlfriend, who started the whole Graffiti Nightmare. She had Arthur’s number and she was crazier than an old cat lady. They decided it was better if Arthur didn’t approach her about it because it was deemed too dangerous.

They parted ways, but only after Merlin said: “I’m keeping your number, by the way. This was nice. You’re a bit of an ass, but you seem like a soft center kind of chocolate.” Merlin held up his phone where Arthur’s number was saved as ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World’ and then strolled off as if that wasn’t an odd thing to say at all. Arthur wasn’t sure if he should feel complimented or insulted.

To say the least it was an odd day for Arthur, and definitely one that he was never going to forget. But that did not mean that he wanted to forget it. He ended up saving Merlin’s number in his phone as ‘Oddball from the Graffiti Incident’ which about summed up the entire day perfectly.

***

Arthur found himself in Merlin’s company more often that he thought he would. As odd as it seemed, Arthur enjoyed Merlin’s company. They had lunch a couple times a week and studied in the library together a few times, although that always seemed to end in chaos and being kicked out.

Arthur wasn’t sure why they kept seeing each other when most of the time they just argued. They bickered over everything and Arthur was enjoying it. But of course, Merlin wasn’t always arguing or half as weird as he was the first day. He would do his work just like any other student and complain about maths. But he would also sketch and show up to lunch with a smear of charcoal across his cheek.

He was kind and friendly in the most open (and often weird) ways. He was physically affectionate, always patting and hugging his friends. He declared his love for multiple things, including typical things like sweets and a good book, but his list also included dragons and prime numbers (apparently they were lonely and needed love). He spoke often and sometimes never stopped. Merlin was candid and affectionate.

In essence, he was nothing like Arthur. Yet Arthur was fairly sure he was closer to Merlin than he was with people he had known since childhood.

One of Merlin’s never ending list of talents was his ability to state things that left Arthur wordless and often confused, often to the point that Arthur couldn’t think properly for the rest of the day. Such declarations included questions about rabbits (“Arthur, do you think rabbits have a hierarchy? I’d rather like to see a King Bunny. Look I’ve drawn one with a crown. I shall name him Frederick the Fifth.”) One time it was after Merlin told Arthur a theory that there might be multiple universes. (“Well obviously in one universe you’re a King and I’m a warlock, that’s a given. But what if we were spies in another universe? Or chickens. Maybe toothbrushes.”) Then there was the memorable time when he went back into restroom in the North Hall and drew a portrait of Arthur on Le Paroi d'Arthur in permanent marker. (“I think I got your condescending glare down really well actually. Don’t you think?”)

They were going to study in the library when one of those times happened. Merlin had stopped walking and when Arthur turned around Merlin was looking at him as if he was thinking on a very important philosophical question.

“What are you doing?” Arthur asked, trying and failing from taking the condescension from his voice.

Merlin hummed in concentration, eyeing narrowing. “Checking out your ass.”

Arthur spluttered and he turned around, knowing that his face was flushed.

“All those people on the Wall of Arthur were right about it.” Merlin gave him a cheeky smile before walking to their normal table and pulling out his books. Arthur didn’t recover for the rest of the day.

***

“Just shag already.” Leon said as he gestured to Merlin and Arthur across the booth, drink in hand.

“Leon!” Arthur glared at his friend. He made a mental note not to pay for Leon’s drink in the next round.

“Yeah Leon, stop making Arthur blush, that’s my job.” Merlin smiled as if this were a normal conversation. Of course he did.

“I will find a boyfriend in my own time.” Arthur groused. “I swear to God stop trying to pair me up with every man that passes by.”

Leon shrugged, “As your wingman, it is my job to find you a suitable boyfriend. Or shag. It depends on the night.”

“I regret being friends with you, by the way.” Arthur grumbled as he took a drink.

“Wait.” Merlin grabbed Arthur’s arm, looking more serious than he had the entire span of time that Arthur had known him. “You’re gay?”

“You two have been joined at the hip for how long, and you didn’t know that?” Leon asked with mirth in his eyes.

“You said you had a crazy ex-girlfriend!” Merlin protested.

“Emphasis on the ex.” Arthur said. “I was in the closet. Still am with my father. Vivian didn’t take the news very well.”

“You know I’m bisexual, right?” Merlin asked with a raised brow.

“After that traumatizing story about your past girlfriend, seriously Merlin as a gay man I didn’t need to know that, plus that time you checked out my ass: yes I figured it out.” Arthur rolled his eyes.

Leon chimed in for a moment, “I’m surprised you haven’t been shagging, honestly.” Again, Arthur glared at him.

“What? Am I not good enough?” Merlin raised a brow.

“What?” Arthur turned his body so that he was facing Merlin directly. “What are you on about?”

“Am I repulsive?” Merlin asked, his eyes wide as he waited for Arthur’s answer.

“What? No!” Arthur had no idea how they had gotten here, “I find you very attractive! I like your…” Arthur gestured to Merlin’s entire body because, now that he thought about it, there wasn’t much Arthur didn’t like about Merlin. He had a vague desire to run his fingers through that thick hair and bite at those ears.

“It’s just that you’re my friend, and I don’t want to ruin that.” Arthur felt his own brows pull together, “Wait, sorry, you didn’t ask me out either. How is this my fault?”

“I didn’t know you were gay, you donut!” Merlin slapped Arthur’s arms.

“Don’t call me a donut!” Arthur slapped him back.

Merlin sighed exasperatedly. “God, I knew you were stupid, but this is a new level.” Merlin said as he grabbed Arthur’s shirt. Arthur flinched as he was sure Merlin was about to punch him for the stupidest reason in the world. Instead, Merlin’s lips landed on his and before he knew it, they were kissing.

“Jesus, I said shag but not right here.” Leon said in an exasperated tone. Arthur couldn’t tell how exasperated though because Merlin was half on his lap and Arthur was very occupied by the whole Merlin kissing him thing that was going on.

Merlin pulled away and Arthur felt like he had been in a coma for five years and just woke up. When he recovered from the haze, he pointed at Merlin. “You kissed me!” he shrilled.

“Very observant, Arthur.” Leon said dully.

“Yeah, and you kissed back.” Merlin’s smug smile was irritating. At least that is what Arthur told himself. Arthur was tempted to kiss those lips until they were bright red.

“You can’t just kiss your friends!” Arthur protested, despite the way he wanted to do it again.

“Come on, I’ve been pining over your ass since I met you.” Merlin gestured at Leon, “Poor Leon is done with the sexual tension.”

“I really am.” Leon toasted his drink.

Arthur was going to make a sharp remark to Leon The Betrayer, but then his mind halted. “Wait. Pining?” Arthur asked suddenly.

“Yes.” Merlin made an over dramatic gesture with his hand, “Over you and your ass. Both of which are nice. You’re definitely a soft centered chocolate and I like that about you.”

Arthur narrowed his eyes, “Are you calling me sensitive?”

“Yes. You’re soppy. Stop taking it as an insult.”

“Why didn’t you just ask me out!?” Arthur flailed around as he pointed to Merlin and himself.

“I thought you were straight, Mr. I-don’t-tell-my-friends-I-like-cock.”

“Merlin!” Arthur gasped at Merlin’s bluntness, though he should be immune at this point.

“Arthur!” Merlin mocked.

“Merlin!” Arthur said warningly.

“Leon is leaving.” Leon declared. “Don’t kill each other. I’ll see you in lecture on Monday.” Leon exited the booth, which left Arthur and Merlin to stare each other down like they might punch each other at any moment.

Still staring Merlin down, Arthur asked, “Want to go back to my place?”

“Are you going to ask me out?” Merlin countered. His eyes were still narrowed, as if accusing Arthur.

“You’re having dinner with me tomorrow night. I’ll pay. I might even hold your hand and kiss you of my own free will this time.”

Merlin looked like he was considering it. “Deal.”

“Good.” Arthur took his hand and dragged him out of the booth.

***

“Why haven’t we done this before?” Arthur gasped as Merlin captured his lower lip and pressed his thigh harder between Arthur’s legs.

“God, I don’t know. We’re so stupid.”

“So stupid.” Arthur agreed as he tore off Merlin’s sweater.

Merlin’s fingers tangled in Arthur’s belt and tried pulling at it, but he only pulled Arthur closer, making both of them stumble. Merlin groaned, “If you don’t take off your jeans this instance I’m suing the trouser company for infringement.”

“That doesn’t even make sense.” Arthur huffed as he pulled his shirt over his head.

“Oh fuck off” Merlin muttered as he pulled at the belt again. Arthur took off his trousers and then they crashed onto Arthur’s bed, Merlin crawling on top of him.

“Come here” Arthur pulled Merlin down and kissed him. He ran his fingers over Merlin’s neck and back, sucking on his upper lip.

As his nails ran over Arthur’s hips, Merlin whined, “I can’t reach your ass.”

Arthur laid back his head so he could look incredulously up at Merlin, who only pouted. “You’re completely serious, aren’t you?” Arthur asked.

“I’ll have you know, Arthur Pendragon, I am always serious-”

Arthur grabbed Merlin around the waist, sitting up and flipping him. Arthur spread Merlin’s legs and settled between them. Taking Merlin’s hands, Arthur set them on them on his ass. “Better?” he asked with a mischievous smile.

With a serious countenance, Merlin kneaded Arthur’s bum for a moment, pursing his lips in concentration. “Much better, thank you.”

“For the love of-” Arthur groaned and started laughing despite himself and despite the way Merlin’s hands were touching him. “You’re ridiculous.”

“I’ve read poems about your ass. It’s very important to me.” Merlin said, his fingers gliding down Arthur’s thighs and running back up to rest on the swell of his ass.

Arthur leaned down, pressing his weight down onto Merlin, and started kissing at Merlin’s neck and ears, loving the way Merlin squirmed. Merlin didn’t hold back a single noise, completely open in his desire and affection. Arthur had always been a quiet person, but he was dedicated to making Merlin feel all his affection.

“Living up to my legendary expectations yet?” Arthur asked when Merlin let out a particularly impressive noise. Arthur licked his hand and started stroking Merlin, whose fingers dug deeper into his skin.

“I’m a little disappointed you don’t have a cupcake tattoo on your ass.” Merlin was panting, losing his ability to talk back. Arthur wondered how wrecked he could make Merlin.

“I like yours.” Arthur said, tracing his fingers down Merlin’s ribs where the gold engraving of ancient runes ran down his sides.

Merlin hissed out something that might have been ‘Thanks’ but it was lost in his groan and a roll of his hips.

“I’m beginning to be really grateful for that crazy graffiti.” Arthur said as he moved down, taking one of Merlin’s legs and pulling at it so that Arthur had room. He took Merlin in his mouth, licking in between strokes of his hand. Merlin’s legs trembled as he tried not to roll his hips into Arthur’s mouth and Arthur stroked the soft skin of his inner thigh to anchor him.

Then Merlin grabbed at Arthur’s hair, one leg resting on Arthur’s shoulder. His voice was rough as he said, “I’m sending your crazy ex a fruit basket. With berries and chocolates.”

Merlin’s hips started rolling and Arthur felt Merlin’s body tighten as he lost himself. Merlin was out of breath, barely able to form a coherent sentence at all. Arthur gave a final lick and started pumping Merlin as fast as he could. Merlin keened and spilled over Arthur’s hand and his stomach.

“Fuck” Merlin’s eyes were closed and his chest was moving fast with labored breathes. Arthur kissed his chest, licking his nipples and dragging his teeth over the sensitive skin. He ran his fingers over Merlin’s sides and down his thighs.

“God I’m never going to recover if you keep that up, you ass.” Merlin huffed, batting away Arthur’s head.

“Mm” Arthur hummed. “Take your time.” Then he grinned when Merlin glared at him.

Merlin narrowed his eyes, determined as he rolled Arthur over. With his eyes on Arthur, he dragged his lips over Arthur’s hips, leaving red marks as he went, until his mouth covered Arthur’s cock. It didn’t take long for Arthur to feel the tension building with the way Merlin’s pupils were blown wide under hooded lids and his fingers were firm on his hips. He pulled Merlin away, falling apart with barely a couple strokes.

Arthur gasped for air and his heart raced. He felt Merlin’s fingers spread across his chest, feeling the beat along with Arthur. It was oddly sweet and Arthur pressed his hand over Merlin’s, wanting nothing more than to share himself with Merlin. He opened his eyes to see Merlin’s content smile above him. This smile was so different from his crazy grin or his accomplished smirk. His eyes were alight and his lips were reddened by Arthur’s kisses. Arthur raised his hand to Merlin’s cheek and gently kissed him as he felt their bodies simmer down.

After they cleaned off themselves, Merlin curled up next to him and Arthur asked, “So pining?”

Merlin didn’t seem ashamed, but he did look a little bashful which was a sight in itself. “Maybe a little.”

“Maybe?” Arthur curled in so that he was facing Merlin, his arm draping over Merlin’s side.

Merlin shrugged. “The Wall of Arthur intrigued me, but the pining only happened after I got to know you.”

Arthur laughed, inexplicably pleased and happier than he had been in a long while. Arthur leaned in and kissed him slowly. Pulling away from Merlin’s lips, Arthur kissed Merlin’s cheek and watched his expression brighten in a way that made Arthur’s heart pick up pace again. “I haven’t stopped thinking about you since you called me about that damned graffiti. Though, I wasn’t aware I was pining for you until now.”

“Of course you weren’t.” Merlin rolled his eyes.

Arthur moved the blankets over them and turned out the lights. In the dark he felt Merlin tap his chest and made a vague gesture. “Don’t deny me of cuddles.” he said.

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Arthur said as he curled an arm around Merlin’s waist and pressing his face close to the hollow of Merlin’s neck, pressing a quick kiss there.

“Really?” Merlin asked in a surprised tone.

“Really.” Before Merlin could speak again Arthur said, “If you call me a soft centered chocolate again-”

“No, of course not” Merlin hummed into Arthur’s hair and laid his arm over Arthur’s back. They couldn’t be any closer and Arthur felt warm and content. He could almost see Merlin’s satisfied grin but he couldn’t find himself to care in the slightest because he was smiling too.

***

Epilogue

***

Daegal met Arthur after a Saturday football match on the university lawn.

“Wait a second.” He studied Arthur for a moment. “Is it odd if I say I saw your face graffitied in a restroom in North Hall?”

“Is that atrocious wall still there?” Arthur groaned.

Leon laughed, “I think the university refuses to have it painted over or the put new tile in.”

“Come on, Arthur. You love the Wall d'Arthur.” Gwaine said as he grabbed Arthur’s shoulder.

At that time, a student with thick black hair and a blue scarf shouted across the lawn to Arthur as he headed toward the nearest coffee shop.

“Hey asshole!” he shouted.

“What do you want?” Arthur yelled back.

“You owe me lunch!”

“Get your own lunch, beggar!”

“You’re rich! Get me food! I’m starving.” The student made an exaggerated gesture, almost falling over his long legs.

“Fuck off!” Arthur said with a rude hand gesture.

“Lunch!” The student demanded.

“Fine!” Arthur consented, inexplicably.

“What the hell was that?” Daegal asked. Arthur was rolling his eyes at the man who had yelled at him.

“What, that?” Perical gestured over to Arthur.

In a surprisingly good David Attenborough impression, Gwaine said, “Here you see the remarkable mating ritual of the Merlin and the Arthur. Which involves mostly insults and swearing.

“Merlin and Arthur.”  Leon explained. “They’re practically married.”

Arthur pointed a threatening finger at Leon, “Don’t say that. Merlin will get ideas.” Arthur said the word ‘ideas’ as if they were bombs.

“But I love Merlin’s ideas.” Gwaine started sniggering and Percival soon joined him.

“Merlin is probably the reason they won’t paint that damned wall.” Arthur lamented, “He would protest it until his dying breath.”

“Did he start it?” Daegal asked, not sure if it was a joke or not. He wasn’t sure if Merlin and Arthur were friends or worst enemies.

“He didn’t start it, but he did draw that picture of Arthur.” Gwaine said, framing Arthur’s face with his hands, which were soon batted away.

“Might as well have started it. He encourages it.” Arthur groans. “I’ll paint over it myself.”

“You will do no such thing.” Merlin came up behind him, a cup of coffee in one hand and a bottle of water in the other, which he passed to Arthur.

“I swear I will.” Arthur threatened.

“You will not.” Merlin said. “You love it, you attention whore”

Arthur scoffed. “I do not. It’s you who likes it for some reason.”

In a fake sweet voice Merlin said, “I love it because it’s all about you.” and smiled widely as he petted Arthur’s hair, which was considerably messy from the football match. Arthur smacked Merlin’s hand away as Gwaine made a fake sickening noise and Leon pretended to cough out the wedding march, which was rather impressive.

After Arthur grabbed Merlin into a headlock and ruffled up his hair, Daegal thought they were best mates. After Merlin pulled Arthur into a quick kiss, Daegal was convinced they were the oddest couple he had ever seen.

“Nice meeting you, Daegal.” Arthur said before he took Merlin’s hand and they went off to have lunch as Merlin started reciting a poem, which might have been about Arthur’s ass, but he wasn’t sure. He saw Arthur flick one of Merlin’s ears and Merlin kicked Arthur in the leg.

“They paint over the wall every term.” Leon said as they watched the pair leave, “Merlin goes back every time and rewrites the entire thing.”

“Arthur doesn’t mind?” Daegal asked.

“He pretends he doesn’t know.” Leon laughed, “For Merlin’s sake.”

Dageal wanted to say something sweet about couples but all that came out was “Weird.”

“Merlin and Arthur.” Leon said as if he was saying ‘It is what it is’ and grabbed Daegal’s shoulder to pull him into the next match.