Merlin’s idea of a perfect Sunday was laying on his couch, under a plaid, reading a great book with soft background music and drinking tea. He had other options, of course, but none of them involved getting outside in the pouring rain to watch twenty-two amateurs running behind a ball.Warnings:None
Author's Notes: Eurydice, I loved all you prompts but wasn't sure I could do some of them justice so I went with this one! I hope you'll like it! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!
Disclaimer:Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.
Merlin’s idea of a perfect Sunday was laying on his couch, under a plaid, reading a great book with soft background music and drinking tea. He had other options, of course, but none of them involved getting outside in the pouring rain to watch twenty-two amateurs running behind a ball.
Yet, it was exactly what he was going to do. And it was all Gwen’s fault!
His best friend had asked him to accompany her a few days before.
“You see, Morgana, my new colleague…”
Merlin nodded, showing Gwen he was still listening even if he was concentrating on not burning their dinner.
“She has a younger brother… Just a year younger, mind you… Arthur…”
“I know Gwen, you already told me about him yesterday… And the day before… And every day we talked to each other since she showed you his picture.”
Gwen had the decency to blush but she went on.
“So… She may have mentioned me to Arthur and… She thinks it could be great if we met but you know, not like a date yet… JUst a friendly meeting with other people around…”
Merlin kept stirring the pasta sauce, slowly getting worried about where this conversation was going.
“So… She has invited me next Sunday… Arthur plays football with an amateur team and they have a match… Then, as a tradition, they all go to the pub after so…”
“Gwen, I’ve known you for more than twenty years now so I know when you’re not telling me something. Stop beating around the bush.”
Merlin heard her taking a deep breath before she asked: “Would you accompany me?”
Of course, Merlin had been unable to refuse. Gwen and he had been friends for so long and in all these years, they had always been there to support each other, whatever the circumstance. And a football match wasn’t going to kill him… Doesn’t it?
After the first half of the match, Merlin wasn’t so sure of that anymore. He had brought a book with him in case it was as boring as he had imagined but with the pouring rain and the uncovered stand, it wasn’t even an option anymore. Next, to him, Gwen and Morgana were talking non-stop, probably about Arthur.
The only positive point was the goalie. The guy was exactly Merlin’s type. Tall, brawny but with a sweet smile.
The second half of the match went well for their team as they won 3-1. Merlin still hadn’t understood a thing but he had surprised himself by shouting when Arthur scored the third goal.
That earned him a chuckle from Gwen.
“I still don’t like it!” He had grumbled.
Half an hour after the end of the match, they all met on the parking lot and Morgana introduced them to a part of the team. That’s when Merlin learned that the goalie was named Percival.
They all went to the pub next to the little stadium, chatting animatedly. Merlin was talking with Leon, one of Arthur’s friend who was also his colleague and played as a defender in the team.
Leon told Merlin more about the team members and Merlin was particularly interested in Percival. He learned that he was working in the same company as Arthur and Leon as a project manager and that he had joined the company and the team a few months earlier.
They talked a bit about the other members of the team but Merlin was clearly less focused then.
As they reached the pub, Gwen called for Merlin who joined her.
“Leon is straight, you know,” she whispered as Arthur and Morgana led them inside.
“We were just talking.” Merlin answered, “Aren’t we here for you and Arthur?”
Gwen didn’t answer but sighed.
“Merlin, you can’t stay alone forever you know… And you won’t find anyone if you don’t socialize.”
“I see lots of customers every day.”
“Whatever!” Gwen surrendered.
Merlin knew she would come back to it later, as she had done in the past two years since Merlin had broken up with Cenred.
Inside the pub, Arthur and Morgana had chosen a row of tables against a wall and they all arranged the chairs and tables to sit all together.
By a happy accident, Merlin found himself sitting between Percival and another player named Bors. On the other side of the table, after some intervention from Morgana, Gwen was sitting next to Arthur but at the moment he was turned on the other side, talking to Leon.
Leon and Arthur who went to order drinks for everyone.
“You are a friend of Morgana, then?” Percival asked, making Merlin jump.
“Oh… I… Not really. I’m a friend of Gwen who’s a friend of Morgana.”
“We have a new supporter, then?”
“I’m not really a fan of football… I’m just here because Gwen asked me to accompany her.”
“I see,” Percival said in a flat tone.
Merlin realized he had made a mistake. If he wanted to get acquainted with the man, saying he wasn’t interested in what was probably his favourite hobby wasn’t a good idea.
As Merlin was trying to find something to put things right, Percival asked again :
“So, if you don’t like football, what do you like?”
Merlin hesitated for a second, pretty sure that saying the truth would put an end to their conversation but lying would be ridiculous.
“I… I own a bookshop so I love reading. And I also love art… And baking.”
Merlin braced himself for a snarky remark but Percival’s reaction really surprised him.
“I love baking, too!”
After that, they spent the whole evening talking together and even ended exchanging their number.
The next day, like every Monday, Gwen came at noon to Merlin’s bookshop so they could share their lunch break.
Of course, they talked about their night at the pub.
“So? It looked like you got along with Percival…” Gwen started before Merlin had even had time to ask her how it had ended after she had left the pub with Arthur.
“Yeah. He was friendly.”
“Merlin, you spent the whole evening talking together…”
“We found out we had some common interest in cooking so… But I’m not sure we have other things in common so…”
“You’re hopeless! Stop looking for your perfect double! Cenred and you had a lot of things in common and though he ended being a perv!”
“I know but…”
“No buts. You exchanged your numbers, didn’t you?”
“So, call him, go out with him another time and you’ll see.”
“And if you told me about you and Arthur rather than interfering in my private life?”
Merlin’s phone rung as he was advising a young lady on what book to buy for her niece so he didn’t pick it up. He only had time to look at it later and his heart skipped a beat when he saw Percival’s name. He looked around to check that the shop was empty before calling back.
“Percival? It’s Merlin… I saw you called but I was busy at the shop.”
“Yeah, I thought about that after having called.”
“No problem. So… Hum…”
“I… I called because I was wondering… We could go for a coffee on Saturday if you’re free…”
Merlin sighed. He was doomed.
“I would have liked it very much but it’s impossible.”
Silence on the other end of the line.
“No… It’s… It’s not a lame excuse,” Merlin continued, “but the last Saturday of the month is Children’s day in my bookshop so I need to be there. I’m reading stories for the kids.”
“I… I could come… If I can help or do something…”
“You would? We can see each other another time, you know.”
“No, really. I love kids.”
“It’s settled then!”
Merlin gave Percival the address of the bookshop and they agreed on a time to meet and hung up with a cheerful goodbye.
Percival hadn’t lied when he had said he loved kids. He had been wonderful with them and the kids clearly loved him in return.
Merlin had done the first reading and then Percival had asked if he could have a go. Merlin had agreed and he had found out that Percival was very good at doing voices.
Once the kids and their parents had left, Percival had stayed to help Merlin clean the shop.
“It was nothing and I really enjoyed myself.”
They exchanged a smile.
“I… I was planning to bake some cookies tomorrow,” Merlin said. “I could use some more help.”
“Oh… I have another match tomorrow.”
Merlin didn’t manage to hide his disappointment.
“But you could come to support me and then we’d go back to yours to bake these cookies?” Percival suggested.
That time, Merlin didn’t bring a book with him to the stadium. And if he had checked the football rules on the Internet the night before, nobody needed to know about that.