Title: I Wonder as I Wander
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Running headlong into Arthur Pendragon wasn’t the first time Merlin’s tendency to daydream led him to trouble, but it was by far the most disastrous.
Word Count: 425
Prompt: #251: Perfectly Imperfect
Author's Notes: Merlin and Arthur's first meeting in the First Noel 'verse, but can be read alone.
Running headlong into Arthur Pendragon wasn’t the first time Merlin’s tendency to daydream led him to trouble, but it was by far the most disastrous. Lost in contemplation as he hurried between buildings in his very first week of classes at university, he walked straight into something solid enough to hurt, but more mobile than a tree (which was the usual interruption to his walks back home). It gave slightly when he hit it, then a hand shoved him hard in the chest and sent him stumbling back as he pulled his attention back to his surroundings.
It was a someone, rather than a something, which made sense in the context of its—his—reaction to being walked into. That someone turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous bloke who immediately ruined the first impression his good looks bought him by snapping at Merlin before he could even apologize.
“Watch it,” he ordered, then turned to his friends and, like it didn’t matter at all that Merlin was still there, said, “Doesn’t anyone teach the first years their place anymore?”
And just like that, it no longer mattered to Merlin that he’d originally been in the wrong. Yes, he’d been a bit distracted, but he had a lot going on and the guy ought to have known that, since he pegged Merlin as a first year. There was no need to be an ass about it.
“Why don’t you watch where you’re going?” he shot back, distracting the older students from their self-congratulatory superiority bullshit. They turned back to him as a group, making various forms of offended noises and expressions, but the man Merlin had run into, obviously their leader, was the one to speak.
“I said, you should watch where you’re going. I mean, you could’ve just as easily stepped aside as me, but you and your friends seem to think you’re entitled to the whole walkway. Then when someone inevitably runs into you, you go and act like a condescending clotpole about it? I don’t think it’s us first years who need lessons on manners.”
He only became aware of the crowd they’d gathered when they started jeering and cat-calling, and he wasn’t at all sure whose side they were on but he knew from the look on the bloke’s face that he’d made himself an enemy.
Merlin sighed to himself and decided the fight would be worth being late to class. It was just such a pity the man let his personality ruin an otherwise perfectly good body.