Title: Not These Stars
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Merlin marveled at how easy it was for some people to communicate, to relate to each other, without wondering if they are disgusted by who you are.
Warnings: low self-esteem issues, implied bullying and racism.
Word Count: 1k
Prompt: #308: This is me
Author's Notes: Sort of a Wicked AU. Sort of ;)
The moment his presence was known the whispering had began. The pointed fingers and taunting words followed him as he made his way across the Grand Hall. Gathering his strength, Merlin choose to ignore them. To pretend they weren't there. Otherwise he'd run away.
He had thought that once he was at Uni the taunting would stop, that the enlinghtened and brilliant minds CU prided itself on teaching would see beyond. He soon discovered Camelot's brilliant minds were also capable of hatred.
They saw him as an abomination.
He'd learned to walk with his eyes nailed to the ground, blending, fading into the background. Tonight was different. Merlin didn't cower, he stood tall and continued walking. He had to remind himself to breathe.
"You look so handsome, Merlin," Gwen said, once he'd reached their table. He shook his head, a blush rising on his cheeks. Gwen was one of the few people in his life who had shown him kindness. Her sweet smile was infectious, he returned it feeling less on edge.
Morgana's eyes took him in, assessing. Her smile couldn't be called sweet, it was pleased. "Of course he does, I was his fashion advisor. I wasn't going to let him show up to the ball in one of those ratty shirts he holds dear." She nodded her satisfaction and gestured for him to take the seat beside her.
Unlike him, Morgana was loved by all. She was gorgeous, stylish, conninving if need to. A powerful witch from a line of high warlocks and priestesses.
A week ago both of them, together, sitting at the same table willingly would've been unthinkable. Their private sorcery lessons had helped to bridge the gap between then and see each other in a new light.
"This is so exciting," Gwen said, gesturing at the three of them.
"I'd say, look, we're the center of attention. I wonder if they think this is a ruse of some sort," Morgana pondered.
Gwen craned her neck to get a better view. Merlin didn't need to, he felt their eyes burning holes into his skull.
Morgana surprised him by covering his hand with her own, he hadn't realized he was grabbing onto the table, hard. His breathing ragged. He let go. For the first time since they met and proceeded to hate each other's guts, Morgana was being understanding and supportive.
"Ignore them," she said. "They don't know you. They're missing out."
"Thank you," Merlin said, sincerily.
"Oh, he's here!" Gwen clapped her hands, grinning, she bolted out of her chair. There was only one person who could ellicit such a reaction from her.
His suspicions were confirmed, the chatter around them had changed into something more lively and excited. Arthur Pendragon had finally showed up, flanked by Gwaine and Lancelot, his best friends. Every one knew them, every one fawned over them, and Merlin couldn't keep his eyes away from Arthur.
Merlin steadied himself seeing Gwen guiding them to their table.
"Evening," Arthur said, polite as always. Lancelot greeted them by name.
"I've only been here for five minutes and I've already given up on life," Gwaine complained, dropping down on a chair.
"Don't be so negative. We're all here." Gwen's good mood couldn't be dampened.
"I could help you liven up this ball," Morgana said, conspirationally. Gwaine was instantly intrigued.
Merlin marveled at how easy it was for some people to communicate, to relate to each other, without wondering if they are disgusted by who you are.
They were talking over each other, planning a night of mischief, laughing at the most outrageous suggestions, cortesy of Gwaine. Merlin had been welcomed, but he was miles away from them.
He got up, cleared her troath, attracting Arthur's and Morgana's attention. "I need to-- I'm have-- I'm tired."
He'd managed to duck out almost unnoticed. His exit though abrupt as Morgana had pointed out, was what he needed. In the unlit hallways, wandering alone, aimless, he felt safe.
He'd reached the indoors herbology garden, the big glass windows gave him a view of the sky outside, under the moonlight peeking in the flowers and plants thrived. It was calm inside. His magic had come alive, little twinkling lights floated in the air like fireflies. The smell of lillies and wet soil filled the room.
"So this is where you hide," a familiar voice said.
"I like it here." Merlin sighed, his stupid heart almost leaping out of his chest. "Why are you here?"
Arthur shrugged. "I thought I'd come find you." He was as beautiful as ever. Charming. Merlin had imagined before what I'd would be like to be close to him. To feel him.
"To be honest I'm not a big fan of parties, and I thought you might want to help my night not be completely horrible."
It was possible Merlin had finally manage to forget basic functions like breathing. His mouth was half-open. Above him, the lights he'd summoned were blinking fast.
"Don't be so surpised." Arthur chuckled.
He was allowed to, Arthur left his friends to be here. With him. Arrogant, kind, smart, beautiful Arthur. Merlin couldn't figure out what it meant.
Arthur climbed on top of the only empty tables. A half, crooked smile on his lips. "I like the suit."
"I-- thank you?"
Arthur patted the spot next to him, Merlin sat down, hoping Arthur wasn't aware of the way his heart kept leaping, and his hands were sweaty. All because of him.
The silence that surrounded them wasn't awkward, but Merlin felt the urge to say something. To have a real conversation with Arthur.
What he ended up saying wasn't what he wanted. "If anyone finds you here with me rumours will start flying."
Arthur frowned. "I don't understand."
"They'll talk about you, Arthur. Everyone will know you were here. With me." Merlin can't help the desperation rising in his voice.
"So? I don't care. I'm here because I want to. Because I want to be with you. You, Merlin," Arthur said, stressing each word as if he wanted Merlin to understand.
"Me? Arthur..." Merlin shook his head, unshed tears burning his eyes.
"I see. I think I made a mistake. I'm sorry to have bothered you." Merlin was cold, Arthur was no longer smiling, his entire body had gone rigid. Merlin was now truly on the outside.
Before Arthur could get down, Merlin stopped him with a hand on his arm. "Wait. I don't want you to go. I'm just afraid."
Arthur turned toward him, his features soft, something Merlin was scared to name could be read in them. "Of me? You're afraid of me?"
"No. Of the rumours, of me. Because I want what I can't have."
"Don't think so much about it," Arthur whispered, he'd reached over, his knuckles ran down his check. Arthur was gentle.
Merlin gulped, closed his eyes. He wanted to live in this moment forever. "You have Gwen," he said. It was true, everyone knew they were meant to be. For weeks everyone talked about their date. A picnic. So romantic. Merlin had already made peace with it. He really had, until--
Arthur was so close, within reach, tangible. Being everything Merlin thought he would be.
"No, I don't. We're friends. I don't have her because I only want to have you." Merlin gasped and before he could say anything Arthur was closing the distance between them. The kiss was tentative, their lips brushing together.
"Are you sure?" Merlin asked. Their foreheads were touching, damp, warm breaths mingling.
"Yes. I am."
"But, Arthur. You should know this won't be easy. I'm a hybrid, I have Dragon's blood," Merlin murmured, he was proud of his heritage, but he loathed to think someone else could get dragged because of him.
"I know, you idiot. It's not like it's a secret," Arthur said, amused. "I know and I think you are the most beautiful person I've ever seen."
Merlin wrapped his arms around him, kissing him again. This time more sure if himself. Arthur melted into it, his fingers buried in Merlin's hair. He wanted Arthur and he was wanted back.
If the world had a problem, they would fight. Together"