Looking around at his new dorm suite, Arthur thought back to his first year in Uni and thought that it was pretty brilliant. All his best mates from secondary and college went to the same school as him, and he also made another lifelong friend in Lance. But…
Okay, if there was one thing he wished he could banish from his mind, it was that one incident where he absolutely did not scream like a girl no matter what anyone says. No matter if his shout woke up half the floor.
It was nearing midnight and Arthur was getting ready for bed. He was at his, what Leon likes to call “vanity table,” slipping his mother’s ring off his forefinger when he looked up to see a student with a disheveled mop of black hair behind him, a little too close for comfort.
“What the fuck are you doing!?” Arthur managed to get out after his initial shout.
For all of that, the boy, deathly pale with deep bags under his eyes, simply looked from side to side and let out a great sigh. “Sorry, mate, thought it was my room.”
Before Arthur could even retort with a haughty, “I’m sorry, but do I know you? No? Then I’m not your mate!”, the boy walked out of the room never to be seen again.
If Arthur’s heart wasn’t beating so loudly, he would have gotten a better look at that face in order to track him down and give him a piece of his mind. That’s when Lance showed up to check on him, being the ever brilliant RA that he was, and that night cemented that friendship. So he supposed there was that.
This was his second year of Uni and Arthur hoped that he would survive the dorm without a hitch this time. Besides that incident and a few others, Arthur managed to make it out pretty much unscathed. The deal with his father was that he would dorm for two years for the experience and then his father would let him buy a flat, either for himself, or a whole house to share with his friends. He was still deciding between the two. His father said that if he got a house, that his friends would have to pay rent. Not for financial reasons, but because it was “the real world and not everything comes so easy, wealthy or not.”
His father did have a point, but he had a whole year to decide. With that, he opened the first of his many boxes and began to unpack.
“Alright, assignments are on the board and your assigned group project members are on the sheet you’ve just been handed,” said the professor to the groans of all his students.
Leon looked to the ceiling with minimal hope. The second week of classes and the damn professor was already assigning a group project? He had to take this literature class as a prerequisite for his major, but it was also filled with students that were using it as a general elective or filler class aka “no shits need to be given” class.
Looking down at the sheet, he finally found his name. Along with his own, he saw the names Valiant, Cedric, Myror, and Merlin.
“Fuck,” Leon muttered. Valiant didn’t do shit, Cedric was a dumbass, and Myror fucked off after the first class. Merlin was a new name, but he didn’t have much hope.
After the first half of class, professor Monmouth excused the students to meet with their groups. Like Leon had suspected, Myror was nowhere to be seen. As was Merlin.
“Alright, mate? I think you’ve got a good handle on this. I’m going to fuck off now so I can see my bird,” said Valiant with a lecherous wink.
“Um, Lionel? What class is this,” asked Cedric.
“Piss off Cedric. Go home,” said Leon, reigning his patience. After the two had left, Leon let out a huge sigh and placed his head in his hands.
“Please don’t tell me that was our group. Tell me that was just your friends leaving for their own groups,” said a deep voice in front of him.
Without bothering to raise his head, Leon just dropped his hands and said, “Yep, that’s them. I take it you’re Mer-”
“Fucking hell. Well, you’re still here, so that’s got to mean something. Those pillocks may not give a shit, but I sure as hell do. If you’re not going to be doing anything, let me know now and I’ll just do the project by myself,” said the boy.
Leon finally looked up to see a pale boy with a slightly angry flush on his cheeks. “Definitely not my mates. Bunch of pillocks like you said. I definitely give a shit.”
“Brilliant. I’m Merlin,” said Merlin, sticking out his hand.
“Leon. Good to meet you,” said Leon.
“Between the two of us, we’re going to fucking ace this project and I will passive aggressively write an anonymous note telling the professor that the other gits in our groups did fuck all,” said Merlin on a roll.
“Whatever you want,” said Leon with a chuckle, “as long as we get this done.”
If Merlin was saved under “smol angry kitten” in Leon’s phone for the better half of the semester, no one had to know that.
A couple months into the semester and Arthur already felt bogged down with the amount of assignments he had. He was in the library looking for a stats book for his latest project. He received a tip from Gwen that the text was running out fast. Just as Arthur found the book and was about to pull it out, he received a text. He glanced at his phone to check who it was before putting his phone back in his pocket to read it later. As he looked back to the book, all he saw was a blank space.
Whirling around, there was a boy right next to him with Arthur’s book in his hand.
“That’s mine,” blurted Arthur.
“Excuse me?” Said the boy.
“That book, is mine,” repeated Arthur.
“Uh, no it isn’t. It belongs to this library. And it’s mine, now that I have it,” said the boy said with a little furrow in his brow.
“No, I got here first and I need it for my assignment,” said Arthur, making a swipe for the book.
“Tough luck, mate, but I actually grabbed the book first. You were just standing there,” said the kid, lifting the book out of reach.
“I got distracted by a text. You know, things that sociable people get from mates. Something that’s probably a myth to you types of people,” said Arthur, irritated.
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Said the irritated boy with piercing blue eyes.
“Dressed in black everything, skinny jeans, leather cuff. Need I say more?” Said Arthur with a huff.
“Ignorant twat,” the guy muttered before turning to walk away.
“Hey! I need that book! I can just tackle you and get it from you, but I’m being nice. So hand it over,” said Arthur.
“Over my dead fucking body, you supercilious jock!” Said the boy before sprinting off.
Arthur was too shocked to do anything, but stare.
Elyan had to remind himself that he was doing this for extra credit. Why else would he be missing footie practice for some third year’s psych study. It was too early in the morning and only one other student must have signed up for this time slot. They gave each other an acknowledging glance and then sat a couple computers away from each other.
The task was simple enough. He just had to take a somewhat interactive survey and type in his answers.
Halfway through the survey, he heard a muttered panic. Elyan pulled his earbuds out to check on the bloke next to him.
“Fuck! Fucking aye! No, no, no! Let me go back!! That was a typo!! The first thing I look at on my phone when I wake up is the clock, not cock!! Fuck! Why didn’t I just write ‘the time’,” said the bloke in a panic, frantically clicking his mouse and jabbing the keyboard.
Elyan had to stifle his laugh. He used to bullshit all his answers for these labs, but having changed his major to psychology in the last year, he took them more seriously.
“Don’t worry mate, these surveys just take your general info like ‘male, 20s, ethnicity’ and shit like that. It’s more for statistics. Your name isn’t recorded,” said Elyan with a reassuring smile.
“Are you sure?” Said the boy, still mildly panicking.
“Yeah. Sure this person will get a random outlier as an answer, but I’m sure. Plus, who knows what people look at first thing in the morning,” said Elyan with an eyebrow raise.
“Fuck, this is so embarrassing. I hope I didn’t fuck up this person’s lab,” muttered the kid, who was resembling a kicked puppy, or actually kitten seemed more appropriate.
“Here, eat this. You’ll feel better,” said Elyan, digging in his rucksack to pull out a piece of chocolate, “I’m Elyan.”
“Merlin,” said the exhausted looking student, nibbling on the chocolate.
“If it makes you feel better, you can write a note to the student in charge of the lab,” said Elyan.
“Yeah, I think I’ll do that. Thanks, mate,” said Merlin.
“Sure thing,” said Elyan.
“Hey, want to grab brekkie after this? My treat. I feel like I owe you for preventing an unnecessary panic attack,” said Merlin.
“Sure, why not,” said Elyan.
“Alright, cool! I’m meeting a friend already, but I’m sure you’ll get along fine. If not, Vivian can piss off,” said Merlin, in happier spirits.
“Alright, you seem more awake now. Finish up that survey without anymore typos, yeah?” Said Elyan with a smirk.
“Yeah, yeah, don’t be an ass about it,” said Merlin with a smile.
Elyan was always up for meeting new friends, so he didn’t feel too bad about missing footie practice anymore.
The one thing that Arthur hated about living in a dorm was having to do laundry. It’s not like he didn’t do his own at home, okay he didn’t, but at least he had some privacy. Grabbing his duffle of dirty clothes, he made his way to the laundry room. As soon as he got in, he heard someone shuffling in behind him. Without turning, he moved to give the person space as he searched for an empty washing machine.
As soon as he spotted one, he made a move to go towards it when he saw the other person in his peripheral do the same.
“You!” Said Arthur, realizing it was the skinny bloke from the library a couple of weeks ago.
“Ah fuck. Look, that’s the only washing machine open right now, and I really need to get these washed,” said the skinny guy, with his mop of fluffy black hair that Arthur maybe wanted to touch.
“No. Like last time, I got here first. And this time, you can’t steal the washing machine from under my nose and run away with it,” said Arthur.
As soon as he said that, the guy gave him a shifty look. Anticipating his move, Arthur reached the machine at the same time as the guy.
The guy rubbed at his eyes and looked around exasperatedly at the other machines. “I’ve not had any sleep for the past two days. I don’t have time for this. For my sanity. Ah, fuck this. Let’s just fucking share, okay?”
“You’re joking,” Arthur said, a bit incredulous and more than a bit disgusted.
“No, no, I’m really not. Oh look, too late,” said the bloke, already shoving some clothes into the machine.
Arthur wanted to storm away, but that would be giving up, and worse, losing. So he started to put in his clothes as well.
The guy looked at Arthur a little surprised. “I was so sure that you would walk away in a strop. That someone as mighty as you wouldn’t deign to share a washing machine with the likes of me,” said the bloke with an amused eyebrow raised.
“At least tell me your name, so I’ll know of the dirty peasant I’m sharing a washing machine with,” said Arthur, unamused.
“It’s Merlin, sire ,” said the skinny boy, with what Arthur would never admit, an adorable smile no matter how sarcastic. Then his words caught up to him.
“You’re shitting me, yeah?” Said Arthur.
“Yeah, because of all the fake names I’d could pick from, I’d choose Merlin,” said Merlin, rolling his eyes. “Well, come on then, what’s yours?”
“Arthur. Arthur Pendragon,” said Arthur with an eye roll to match.
“Oh,” said Merlin with a laugh, “I see now. But did you have to say it like that. I mean you’d give Bond a run for his money, but you sound like a ponce!”
“Hey! I am not a--what did you say?” Said Arthur, caught off guard by the compliment.
“Oh, would you look at the cock? CLOCK! I MEAN THE TIME! The fucking time! Gotta run, I’ll see you later!” Said Merlin, before he ran off leaving a confused Arthur standing there.
Lance woke up to heavy knocking on his door. As an RA, this wasn’t an uncommon occurrence, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t annoying. He was almost beginning to regret the “Hi, I’m Lance, knock on my door anytime!” sign he made the year before. Almost.
“Yes, I’m coming,” said Lance, throwing on a shirt before opening the door. As soon as he did, he nose was assaulted with the smell of alcohol.
“Mate. Mateee. I’m so sorry. So terribly sorry. But I’m locked out of my room,” said a lanky bloke, leaning heavily on the wall by the door.
“It happens, mate,” said Lance, returning to his room to retrieve the master key.
“Ugh, I’m being that guy, aren’t I. That guy who got drunk and got ‘imself locked out of ‘is own bloody room! S’not my fault though. Fucking Will grabbed my keys to borrow my car, and my key was on that key, you know?” The bloke kept slurring.
“Yeah. Here, let me help you up. Which one’s your room? You can lean on me all you need to,” said Lance, trying not to laugh at this poor bloke.
“Last one down the hall. You’re ace, mate! Oneofthebettar ones. Not like that stupidprat I keep runnin into! I’m Mur-leeen bytheway,” said the drunkard.
“Mer-lin?” Asked Lance to clarify.
“Yep! Thass my name! Don’t-no, I mean do! Use it as much as you want. No one else has that name so it’s impossible to wear out!! Gods I’m such a stupid drunk. All Will’s fault. But he’s me best mate. And I’m thebestfuckinwingmanever! I’ll set you up! Seriously, my friend Gwen? I just knowww you guys are purrfect for eachovva!” Said Merlin with a happy grin.
“I’m sure,” said Lance, chuckling at Merlin while opening the door. “Have a goodnight, Merlin."
“Thanks, Lancelot. No, that wasn’t it. Lance! Yes. Good. Goodnight, Lanceee!” Slurred Merlin before he closed the door.
Lance just smiled fondly at the endearing drunk and went back to bed.
The next morning, Lance was cleaning up his room/mini office with the door open when he heard a quick knock.
He turned around, startled to see Merlin slowly army crawling into his room, looking like the dead come back to life, with a mug clutched in his hands.
“You don’t know me and it’s a long story, but can I come in and use your kettle to make a cup of tea?” Said Merlin, with grim determination.
“Sure, Merlin,” said Lance.
“Wow, do you have everyone’s names memorized? Must be a brilliant RA. I’d give you full marks for letting me use your kettle anyway,” said Merlin, reaching Lance’s desk and practically climbing onto the chair before flicking the kettle on.
“Merlin, we met last night,” said Lance with an amused smile.
“Did we? Shit, I swear I usually have great memory. Was it at the pub? Or the second pub? Or shit, I don’t know how many pubs I went to last night,” said Merlin with a grimace.
“No, I helped you get back into your room,” said Lance, waiting to see if Merlin would remember.
Merlin had his eyes half closed, and was preparing his tea as if he always made tea in Lance’s room. Then he stopped. His eyes opened wide and a flush graced his cheeks.
“Ah fuck. I take it that I was extremely pathetic and embarrassing and I’m sorry you had to witness that,” said Merlin with a self-deprecating laugh.
“Nah, you were great. Though you did wax poetic about what an amazing wingman you are and that you’d set me up with one of your mates. Gwen, I think was it?” Said Lance with a huge grin.
“Of course I did. Oh, Gwen. I love Gwen. I’m actually meeting her for breakfast because I’m not talking to Will at the moment. Oh, Will is-”
“Your best mate that you played wingman for, but who also abandoned you and unwittingly locked you out of your room,” finished Lance.
“Shit, I probably talked your ears off,” said Merlin with a wry chuckle. “Anyway, I don’t ever say anything I don’t mean, even when drunk. And now that I’m sober enough, I agree with my drunk self. Come have breakfast with us.”
“I wouldn’t want to impose,” said Lance.
“Nonsense! You saved me from sleeping in front of my door like a tramp! That deserves at least a week of breakfasts. But one breakfast and meeting Gwen is more than enough to cover that. Besides, if we show up and she see’s you helping little ole me, she’d be a goner,” said Merlin with a brilliant grin.
“Alright then,” said Lance feeling warmed by the appreciation.
“I’ll give you the ‘hurt her and I’ll castrate you, no matter how handsome you are’ talk later, because I’m sure that right and you guys will be sickeningly cute together,” teased Merlin.
“Okay, Merlin,” said Lance with a laugh.
“Now that I’m feeling much more alive, let me just pop by my room for my stuff, and I’ll meet you back here in five!” Said Merlin already leaving the room with his mug in hand.
“See you soon, Merlin,” said Lance with a fond shake of the head.
“This is turning into a bizarre pattern, Arthur,” said a voice from behind him.
Arthur looked behind him to see Merlin and then back to what he was doing. He was at the Uni-mart and had just placed his hands on the last shopping trolley.
“I only need two things, yeah? Just be a good samaritan and let me have it,” said Merlin.
“Hmm, what were the words you used last term? Over my dead fucking body,” said Arthur with a smirk. “Besides, I’m in a rush.”
“Me too. Arthur, please?” Pleaded Merlin.
“I’m not giving up this cart, Merlin,” said Arthur, unimpressed.
“Well, we both fucking need it, so mind if I just dump my stuff in with yours?” Said Merlin, already leading both Arthur and the trolley into the mart.
“It would seem I don’t have a choice,” said Arthur.
“It’s not my fault this whole system is fucked. It’s the rules. No trolley, no purchase. I don’t know why they thought they could promote healthy living by making each patron lug a trolley around--”
“It’s for the exercise,” said Arthur.
“It’s complete shite. What if a girl just needed a box of tampons. She’d have to pull out a trolley just for that?” Merlin said, shaking his head.
Arthur stopped the cart and gave Merlin an odd look.
“Best friends are feminists. I’m a feminist. Everyone should be one by default. If you’re not one, I’m stealing your cart and leaving you for dead,” said Merlin, giving Arthur a look.
“When you have a sister like mine, it’s impossible not to be one, by default or not,” said Arthur.
“Good. Because I actually do need to buy a box of tampons for my friend,” said Merlin with a smile, before running off with the trolley.
“ Merlin!” Arthur shouted after him with a laugh.
“Mate! Looks like you can use a breather! Come to my party!” Said Gwaine, spotting the tired looking, gorgeous, pasty bloke.
“I just came out for a smoke. That’s my breather before I get back to work,” said the guy.
“Why not just come to my party! Better than a smoke!” Said Gwaine.
“Ah fuck, why not? I don’t even smoke anyway. I’m Merlin,” said the cute boy.
“Gwaine! It’s good to meet a Merlin. Never done in my entire life!” Said Gwaine, a little buzzed already.
“I bet. I warn you though. I haven’t showered for three days and I’m not changing out of my sweats,” said Merlin.
“You can come just as you are, mate. You look perfect!” Said Gwaine with a grin.
“Alright, alright. You’ve convinced me. But only for a short while. I really have to finish my paper,” said Merlin.
Three hours later, Gwaine had made fast friends with Merlin. Although late into second term, Gwaine was glad he met Merlin that night because his so called best friends had all flaked on his party. So what if Gwaine had a party every other weekend? They were legendary! Was homework really that important? Did they really have to go see a movie with their date? Free party would save them money.
Merlin was down for so many things, but he had to hold up a hand at flaming shots.
“Mate, my greasy hair would catch fire and then where would I be?” Said Merlin, coming down from his buzz.
“Then you’d really be a moon prince!” Shouted Gwaine, receiving an unamused look from Merlin.
“Fine, fine. But you’re not getting off so easy next time, Merls!” Said Gwaine, downing Merlin’s shot for him.
Merlin finally begged off to get back to his paper, but not before Gwaine took a selfie with him and added Merlin to his contacts as “gorgeous pasty moon prince.”
Arthur mentally applauded himself for skipping Gwaine’s party that night. It was almost 3 AM and he was almost done with his semester long research paper. He stepped out to go into the communal kitchen to buy a cup of that oddly addictive coffee that either tasted like candy water or tires. No in between.
As Arthur neared the kitchen, he thought he heard something so he quieted his steps. When he got to the kitchen, he tried but failed not to openly stare.
Merlin was sprawled on the kitchen floor, coffee all over him and the floor, tears silently streaming from his face.
“M-Merlin?” Asked Arthur carefully approaching as not to spook Merlin.
“I’ve haven’t had any sleep for almost three days. I did something completely stupid and went to a party. A 30 minute break turned into 3 hours. My last bit of change went into getting a cup of coffee that’d rather be acquainted with my outsides and the floor, than my insides, where it really counts. Shallow bastard,” said Merlin in a zombie voice.
“When’s your assignment due?” Asked Arthur, grabbing some paper towels off the kitchen counter.
“In six hours. For my 9AM,” said Merlin, without blinking.
“And how much do you have left to do?” Asked Arthur, starting to mop up the floor. Oh if Morgana could see him now, she’d never let him live it down.
“Hmm?” Asked Merlin in a monotonous hum.
“How fucked are you?” Asked Arthur, wincing at how harsh that sounded.
“I’m finished for the most part. Just need to go through and edit it,” said Merlin.
“Oh, that’s not too bad, then,” said Arthur, getting up to toss the towels.
“Arthur. I’ve been awake for more than 60 hours and my paper is 30 pages long,” said Merlin, a little hiccup escaping his lips.
Arthur blanched at that. Before thinking, he said, “I’ll proofread your paper.”
That finally got a real reaction out of Merlin. “What? No. No, it’s okay. I’m alright. Sorry. Didn’t mean to drag you into my pity party for one.”
“Merlin, shut up. Get up. You reek and this coffee is certainly not helping. We’re going to go to your room. I’ll proofread your paper and you’re going to get a shower and go to bed,” said Arthur with as much authority as he could muster.
Merlin looked at him and then threw himself into Arthur’s arms. He grossly sobbed into Arthur’s neck for a good minute before he pulled himself together and led the way to his room.
Percy had just enough time to grab some crisps at the vending machine before his next class. As he made his way, he was happy to see that there was only one other person there, and he was already choosing his selection. No queue always made Percy happy.
“No. No, no! You have to be shitting me,” said the guy in front of him
From far away, Percy thought it was a kid, now that he was a few feet away, he could see that it was a gangly student. A gangly student that was thumping the vending machine. He then saw said student slump and place his forehead on the glass of the machine.
“Aw shit, is it broken, mate?” Asked Percy.
The student turned around and had to tilt his head back to see Percy’s face. He was pretty tall, but Percy was still a good head taller. Then, there seemed to be a gleam in the bloke’s eyes.
“My snack is stuck. You are a mountain. The gods have decided to spare me today,” said the guy with an almost manic smile.
“Excuse me?” Percy said, polite but completely confused.
“I’m recruiting you erm?” Said the guy with a pause.
“Oh, Percy,” said Percy in response.
“Merlin. I’m recruiting to help me get this sonuvabitch out so help me!” said Merlin with the most heartbreaking looking he could manage.
“What can I do?” Said Percy, not even attempting to say no to that.
“Just tilt the bastard. Should fall right out. I’d do it myself, but you know, I’d probably die and then you’d be arrested on the suspicion of murder and then we’d both be without crisps,” said Merlin simply.
“Wouldn’t we get in trouble for messing with the machine?” Asked Percy, gearing himself for the heavy thing.
“Nah, I know forsure that camera over there is a fake. It’s just intimidation tactics for this cheapy school that sucks out all of our money,” said Merlin, “I say we get our money’s worth.”
“Alright, in that case,” said Percy, happily tilting the machine.
Just then, Merlin did a weird twirling move and crashed into the machine.
“Whoa, mate, you alright?” Said Percy, putting the vending machine back into place
“Great!” Said Merlin, catching his breath.
“What was that?” Asked Percy, trying not to laugh.
“Oh, I just tripped,” said Merlin with an exaggerated wink.
“Uh huh,” said Percy, with a confused nod.
Merlin stuck his hands into the opening slot of the machine and pulled out not one, but seven bags of crisps.
“I may be clumsy, but I’ve learned how to be strategically clumsy. If I’m going to fall, might as well get the most out of it, right?” Said Merlin with a shit-eating grin.
“Amazing,” said Percy with a laugh.
“Here’s your half. Now, I have to get going before I’m late for class. Thanks a lot, Perce!” Said Merlin before running off.
“Anytime,” yelled Percy after a jogging Merlin.
“Who’s bright idea was it to have a bbq in the communal kitchen?” Grouched Gwaine, “why couldn’t we have a party like I wanted?”
“Stop your pouting,” said Percy, smacking Gwaine on the shoulder, “this is more personal. I think it’s great, Lance.”
“Hear, hear,” agreed Leon, “And leave it to Arthur to keep anyone else from coming into the communal kitchen while we have our meal.”
“Well, it is past 9 on a Friday night. Most people are out or having a night in. Don’t think it’d be too much of a hardship,” said Lance, tossing the salad.
“Step aside lads, here is the meat, fresh off the grill!” Announced Elyan, walking in with two plates of meat, followed by Arthur with another two plates.
“Alright lads, gather your pints! A toast to another year at Camelot University and cheers to another great season of footie. We’ll take down The Serkets in next week’s match no problem. They are no match for The Knights!” Said a proud Arthur.
“Cheers!” Said all the knights in unison, before each other started to fill their own plates with whatever food they could grab a hold of.
Not even five minutes into eating, there was a loud crash and the door burst open.
“What the hell-”
“That smells amazinggg!” Said the voice attached to the bloke stumbling into the kitchen.
“Merlin” said all six people in unison. Then they all paused.
“You know Merlin?”
“How do you know Merlin?”
“Did someone invite Merlin?”
“How d’you know Merlin?”
“Since when do you guys know Merlin?”
“You guys know Merlin?”
Said all six people at once. Before anyone could say anything else, Merlin picked up a spare plate, and started collecting food.
“Lance! Hero to the hapless. I didn’t know our floor had a bbq! Then I would’ve had an excuse not to go out with Will againnn,” Merlin slurred.
“This isn’t a floor bbq, Merlin,” Lance said fondly.
“Oh, Perce! The mountain man. Demi god to the weak and crispless! Here, eat some more. You need to feed your arms before they mutiny and jump ship,” Merlin cackled, putting more meat on Percy’s plate.
Percy just started cracking up. “Thanks, Merlin.”
“You went and got drunk without me?” Pouted Gwaine.
“Trussst me, Gwaine. You may be able to drink me under the table, you filthy pirate, but I will not introduce you to Will. Or maybe I should. I’d save my liver and you’d be happy. Kill two birds with one ssstone. Then again, I won’t have it on my conscious that I’ve had a hand in your death, so maybe I won’t” said Merlin, accidentally tossing the cherry tomato he was trying to eat at Gwaine. “Whoops!”
“Just how drunk is he?” asked Leon.
“Leon! My rock. My ever steadfast project mate. You know I got stuck in another project with Valiant and I almost punched his head clean off! I hate that pig,” said Merlin, sticking his tongue out. “What am I doing, I’m a vegetarian. Here Leon, I bestow the honor of my plate to you!”
“Watch out there mate,” said Elyan, catching Merlin before he could trip.
“Elyan! Smartical lab man! I didn’t know you were Gwen’s Elyan. I can totally see it now!” Said Merlin with a smile. “Are you having a good time with Vivian?”
“Yeah, we’re great, thanks,” Elyan said, chuckling. “No more inappropriate typos then?”
“Nope! Oh, but remember that typo from the lab? I actually said it out loud to this prat and it was so embarrassing. Because I said it while fum-fub-fumbling after I accidentally complimented him,” said Merlin with a pout.
“ Merlin,” said Arthur with an unimpressed look.
Merlin twirled around and let out a little shriek. “Speak of the devil!”
Gwaine snorted into his pint.
“Oh no, Arthur. You’re not the devil. You’re quite the opposite. But you’re not an angel either. Hmm…you’re noble and kind, but arrogant. You’re a prat. But you’re my prat. My lovely, little clotpole,” said Merlin with a fond smile, booping Arthur on the nose.
Leon promptly choked on his beer while trying not to laugh.
“So you’re the prat,” Lance said with a knowing grin.
“Mmhmm, he’s the prat,” said Merlin with a yawn. “This all smells amazing, thanks for making me dinner, lads. I’ll come and eat after bed.”
Then Merlin waltzed out of the kitchen. Lance stepped out to make sure Merlin made it into his room before coming back to the kitchen.
“That was the weirdest round of introductions and nicknames I’ve ever heard,” said Elyan with a laugh.
“How is it that we all know Merlin and didn’t know that everyone else knew him?” Asked a puzzled Leon.
“I think it’s story time, princess and gents!” Gwaine said gleefully.
As the night passed, among other things, everyone was having a great time sharing their stories of how they came to know Merlin.
“If I didn’t know that Morgana was the one for me, I would have half a mind to go to Merlin myself. Can’t believe he’s matched of a third of us,” said Leon with an incredulous shake of the head.
“I’d go for him myself-”
“Don’t even think about it Gwaine,” said Arthur a little too quickly.
“-if I didn’t know he was already spoken for,” finished Gwaine with a knowing grin.
“I can’t believe he was the ‘smol angry kitten’ in your contacts,” said Elyan, wiping a tear from his eyes.
“Trust me though, the kitten part is spot on. Have you ever been on the end of one of his sad-eyed looks? I’m sure even Lance would end up promising his first born,” said Percy, shaking his head.
“So we’ve all, intentionally or not, adopted Merlin as our own then, haven’t we,” said Lance, chuckling in mirth.
“I just get an overwhelming sense to ‘protect’ every time I see the clumsy idiot,” Arthur agreed.
“It’s about time we got a mascot anyway, yeah lads?” Said Gwaine with a chuckle, and his pint raised.
“Cheers!” They all said, messily raising their cups.
Then they all agreed that the next best move was to wake Merlin. He needed to be there to celebrate with them. Three hours was more than enough to get over a hangover, right?
Bonus. Camelot University. Year Three.
There are five vital things that the lads have learned about Merlin while living with him.
- It’s rare, but when Merlin goes on a no sleeping bender and it passes three nights, he, what Gwaine refers to as, “sleep cleans,” and is not to be interrupted until finished.
They learned that the hard way. The first time it happened, Percy interrupted him to get him to bed, and that was one of his top three regrets in University, nay life. Merlin broke down on the spot and wouldn’t stop crying. He finally stopped when he was too exhausted to continue. They both would not stop apologizing to each other the next day.
The second time it happened, Elyan and Gwaine were playing video games. Merlin came over to dust the T.V. and when he blocked the screen, Gwaine tried to nudge him over with his foot and a “budge over, mate.” What happened next was Merlin yanking out the cords to the console and telly, and dusting them off in front of Gwaine’s face. Elyan, smart as ever, quietly left the scene and called Arthur for help.
The third time it happened, it was almost prevented, but not quite. Leon was in the kitchen eating breakfast, keeping an eye on Merlin cleaning the kitchen. Then, Gwaine’s shag of the night waltzed out to make herself something to eat. Leon swears he just glanced at his phone, but the next time he looked over, he watched in horror as the girl was about to tap Merlin on the shoulder.
When her hand landed on Merlin’s shoulder, he dropped the cleaning supplies he was holding and stared blankly at her. Then he must have given the girl “the look” because her lips started quivering and they both started to silently sob.
Leon yelled for Arthur, who rushed down the stairs in half alarm and half asleep. He took one look at Merlin, and engulfed him in a bear hug. It was before the “wracking sobs stage,” so Merlin was able to calm down much faster.
Not much could be said for the girl. She kept telling Leon and then later Gwaine, that the strange, beautiful boy had stared deep into her soul.
- If you ever get sick, Merlin will mother hen the life out of you, and you’ll be treated like a Prince.
At first, the boys thought Merlin was treating Arthur so well because he was his boyfriend, but when Lance caught Arthur’s cold the next week, Lance got the same treatment. Then a month later when Percy got sick, he got the same treatment as well.
Gwaine being Gwaine wanted to test out this theory. He faked sick with all the “symptoms” and strategies he used when he was in secondary. Needless to say it worked like a charm. He was feeling rather good about it until Arthur caught him and ripped him a new one. Then he felt incredibly guilty. In no way was he trying to manipulate or use Merlin in any way. The next day, he offered Merlin a sheepish apology and offered to buy him drinks. Merlin just laughed it off and said he knew all along.
“Nothing gets passed me,” said Merlin, tapping his own nose before tripping and crashing into Arthur.
- On a similar note, Merlin is the best person to go to when you need to vent out any sort of feelings.
Merlin is so good in fact, that sometimes the lads will fight over who gets to talk to him first. He’s very understanding and seems to always know exactly what to say or not say, do or not do. He doesn’t know that the lads specifically search him out. When complimented that he is very good at reading people, he simply shrugs with that smile of his and says he gets that from his mum--whom the boys all love and fall over their feet to impress.
- Merlin has very good intuition for everyone except himself. Which doesn’t help at all to the fact that Merlin is extremely clumsy.
Arthur went mad with worry the first couple months of their living arrangements. He almost baby proofed the entire house so he wouldn’t wake up to find Merlin dead on the floor after tripping over air. Arthur and Merlin are both confused as to how the other have managed to survive all these years without the other.
He’s helped Elyan make the right decisions for his Psych projects, convinced Lance to study abroad now instead of permanently moving abroad later (Gwen was upset, but ended up thanking Merlin in the long run), kept Gwaine from getting food poisoning, made sure Leon didn’t give Morgana a shit birthday gift, and prevented Percy from eloping with a strange foreign girl.
- Protect Merlin at all costs.
Sure Merlin can handle himself, but he has such a kind heart, that he often doesn’t see the bad in others until after he’s been hurt. There’s no telling what any one of them would do, least of all Arthur, if they lost Merlin, but none of them ever want to think about it.
So if Percy is always the one to accompany Merlin to the gym, who’s to say it’s to intimidate others from saying anything about Merlin? Or if Gwaine is not always as drunk as he seems, keeping tabs on Merlin in the pubs, who’s to know? If Elyan makes sure to take the sketchier looking customers at Kili’s Kafe, or Lance looks out for Merlin during their classes (both majoring in medicine), and Leon sends Merlin to the backroom every time a stupid homophobe wants to check out a book, who’s to say they were doing anything out of the ordinary. At least they all know how to be subtle.
The same cannot be said for Arthur. Arthur always-need-to-be-touching-Merlin-because-he’s-mine Pendragon.
Merlin was the last piece of the puzzle to their little gang of knights. A piece they didn’t even know was missing. They’d be damned if they let anyone take that away from them.