Title: Be My Hideaway
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Freya
Summary: Arthur Pendragon is the star of Camelot University's rowing team, always pushing himself to be better, giving everything for his team. He's popular and loved by all. From outside his life looks ideal. But looks can be deceiving. Merlin Emrys an art student and fantastic friend, who finds inspiration in Arthur has the chance to get close to him, and maybe learn who Arthur truly is.
Word Count: 792
Prompt: #284: angst month-anxiety
Author's Notes: Thank you for tagging! Earlier I posted from my phone and messed it up, lol. This is the first part, hopefully my inspiration won't go away and I'll be capable of updating weekly. We'll see.
"What do you suppose he's telling them?" Merlin wondered out loud, observing a group near the edge of the river. Their matching black running leggings and red and gold jackets presented them as a cohesive unit. They were laughing, shoving each other playfully, they looked carefree and loud.
The mid-afternoon sun's rays skittered over the blue water and fell on them. Merlin thought it was no coincidence. Arthur's blond hair shone, swayed with the sudden gusts of wind. He took a beanie out from his bag, and Merlin mourned for a second the dissapearance of the blond locks, his hair always looked so soft Merlin has thought about running his fingers through it. Arthur said something again, this time the laughter was hysteric until it dissolved into sniggering.
"You're doing it again," Freya said, stopping Merlin from daydreaming.
"You're watching him in slow-mo," she explained, making a motion with her hand. "I know you like the bloke, and those tight clothes do enhance certain aspects of his body I'm sure you appreciate, but do you think we could go grab a bite. I'm famished."
Merlin made a face. He felt exposed. Freya took one look at him and rolled her eyes. "We can come ogle him some more tomorrow, promise. Best friend's honour."
"I'm not—I just happen to have an appreciation for the male anatomy, and athletes are a great source of inspiration," he defended. Adding before she could make a smart-arse remark, "In a purely artistic way."
"And pigs fly," Freya snorted. She grabbed the sketching book he'd left on the bench beside him, leafing through it, one page flying over the other, she proved a point: Arthur was his sole inspiration.
"Talk to him," Freya said when they were at their favorite café. Her chin jutted out, pointed to were Arthur and Gwaine had settled and were now having tea and cake.
"You know how I get when I talk to him," Merlin answered. "Specially when he smiles at me."
Freya wrapped one arm around his shoulders and squeezed. "You get tongue-tied. Don't worry, it happens to the best of us."
That wasn't exactly true. Freya had never made a complete fool of herself. The few times he'd managed to engage Arthur in small, meaningless conversation he'd vomited whatever came to his mind. One time he spoke nonstop about types of clouds. First impressions count and Merlin’s sure Arthur already made up his mind about him.
"Come on." Freya grabbed him by the arm, effectively taking him with her when she left the table. Merlin trudged behind her, knowing where she was taking them and making peace with it.
Her steps stopped and her voice went chipper when she spoke, "Hey! Gwaine, Arthur. How's it going?"
Their conversation came to a halt, Arthur closed his mouth, swallowing whatever he had been about to say, Gwaine's gaze fell on Freya, he grinned in a way that was so him, three parts charming and one flirty.
"My afternoon got infinitely nicer," he said, winking in their direction. Freya's coy smile and nervous twisting of her hair made Merlin feel a bit better.
Merlin waved hello, while Arthur inclined his head in acknowledgment.
"Do you want to join us?" Arthur asked, polite as always.
Freya wasn't asked twice and took the chair across from Gwaine, leaving Merlin to sit close to Arthur.
Gwaine and Freya filled the silence, chattering about their classes and the team's next competition. Occasionally Arthur would add something, he'd laugh and hide his smile by looking at the table. His fingers were busy tearing a napkin to shreds.
Merlin noticed how he constantly changed positions, apparently unable to find his place. He lifted a leg, rested his chin on top of his bent knee. Merlin stared, when Arthur was around he was unable to do anything else. The beanie casted shadows over his features, and Merlin had a newfound appreciation for it, it made Arthur look softer somehow. Mysterious. He was—
Merlin felt his shoulders shaking, he turned his head. Freya and Gwaine were giving him twin odd looks. Her hand was wrapped around his bicep.
"Merlin?" Freya asked, one of her eyebrows had rose. "Are you okay?"
Merlin shook his head as if to get rid of fog. "Yeah, yeah. Just a bit tired." He made a show of hiding a big yawn behind his palm. She dropped her hand, dubious.
"Actually, I am too. I'm going to leave," Arthur said getting up and gathering his things. "Catch you later." Arthur's departure was so sudden Merlin felt dizzy.
"Oi," Gwaine called before Arthur had taken even two steps away. Arthur let out a long sigh, and faced him. He jumped from foot to foot, worrying his bottom lip leaving it plumpler, redder. Arthur acted as if he wanted to be anywhere but there.
"Don't forget about tomorrow's party," he said.
Gwaine's easy-going nature shone through in contrast of Arthur's closed-off one. His smile had dwindled, it wasn't the bright thing that had blinded Merlin earlier that afternoon. Perhaps their training had taken a toll on him.
"No, no. I won't," Arthur answered in what sounded like resignation.
Merlin watched Arthur's retreating back till he dissapeared in the dusk.
"Party?" Freya asked.
From her tone alone Merlin knew he was in trouble.