Title: Be My Hideaway (pt. 3)
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur Pendragon is part 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 sports aficionado finds inspiration in Arthur.
After a chance encounter, they start getting closer. Together they might discover sometimes all you need is someone to listen.
Warnings: None for this part
Word Count: 1k
Prompt: #287: Thankful-campfire
Author's Notes: This part didn't come out like I wanted *sigh*
Merlin focused on his feet while they walked aimlessly through the streets. The night was getting colder and he wrapped his arms around himself trying to keep warm, he should've grabbed his scarf before he left, but well, he'd had other things in his mind when he all but ran out of Gwen's. Next to him, Arthur sighed heavily and hid his hands in his jacket's pockets.
After he'd followed Arthur out into the night Merlin had felt his insides twist with the sudden realization they were alone. Their conversation so far had been stilted and both kept words scarce. Tomorrow Merlin would replay this moment with Arthur and would come up with several conversations in his head.
Arthur came to a halt, and, a bit belated Merlin did the same. He'd almost knocked his limbs against Arthur's, if he noticed he didn't comment on it.
He sat down on a nearby bench, stretching his legs. Merlin noticed they were back in campus, near the older buildings where big trees stood and a big renovation project was in progress. Merlin hesitated before he sat down next to Arthur, mindful of the space he left between them.
"I like coming here," Arthur said startling Merlin. His voice sounded somehow deeper. Merlin has almost gotten used to the silence.
"Huh?" Merlin asked, and rolled his eyes at himself. "You like crumbling buildings?"
Arthur chuckled. "No, I meant I like how quiet this place is. Not a lot of students come around, and I've found it's a good spot to get some work done or just, I don't know, think."
Merlin arched an eyebrow. "Is that why you were in the hallway earlier? You wanted peace?"
Arthur tossed his head back and started up at the sky mottled with stars. "Let's say I've exhausted my monthly quota of social interactions," Arthur said after a long pause.
"Then what are you doing here? With me?" Merlin asked curious.
Arthur shrugged, waved his hand around. "I haven't the faintest idea. You're so. I don't even know what the right word for you is. Every time I see you, you're smiling and helping people...you're just so you." Arthur turned to look at him, head tilted.
"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"
"I'm here with you. I'm thinking it's a good thing," Arthur said smiling wryly.
Merlin snorted. "You're kind of a pompous arse, aren't you?"
"I've heard that one before."
Arthur stayed quiet his eyes were narrowed, regarding him with intrigued curiosity
Merlin wiped his face feeling self-conscious. "What?"
"I'm trying to figure you out."
"Okay?" Merlin asked not sure what he was supposed to say. Not really a surprise.
"You see. People just seem to be drawn to you, everyone loves you and has a high opinion of you. I don't think I've ever heard someone say a mean thing about you. Except for like a critique on your sartorial choices but I confess that might have been me," Arthur confessed.
"Hey," Merlin protested indignant, he had an eclectic sense of fashion. Some people had even complimented him on his clothes. Arthur smirked. "I don't know what to say to you, Arthur. I'm just a regular person trying to make it through and you're this popular athlete. I've seen people fawn over you and throw themselves at your feet."
Arthur snorted shaking his head. He bit his lip drawing Merlin's attention to it, his smiled had dimmed. "It's different."
"It just is, Merlin. Believe me."
The fell silent again, but this time Merlin didn't feel the need to say something. Being with Arthur was easier than he thought.
"Hey, you should come out with us tomorrow," Arthur said suddenly.
"Sorry?" Merlin had no clue as to what Arthur meant.
"This is our weekend off and Gwaine had the brilliant idea of going camping, something about strengthening the team spirit," Arthur explained. "Personally I plan on sleeping as much as I can, but you should come, could be fun. I mean, you can also bring that friend you're always with."
"You mean Freya?"
Arthur nodded. "Yeah. Her."
Merlin thought about it and found he couldn't say no, not when Arthur was looking at him, expectant and--Merlin could've been wrong--hopeful.
"Yes," Merlin said, watched Arthur break into another smile. "Sounds fun."
Merlin watched Arthur from across the camp where he was trying to start a fire, Gwaine insisted they needed more wood. When the first flicker of flames came to life Arthur shoot him a smug.triumphant grin. Merlin's stomach clenched and felt a pang on his chest.
He looked away but the image of Arthur laughing by the campfire, the bright orange flames bathing him with their glow, had already made an impression on him.
Merlin was glad he had come along.