Title: New Kid
Pairing/s: Pre- Merlin/Percival
Character/s: Merlin, Percival
Summary: Modern AU. Merlin is the new kid in school
Word Count: 594
Prompt: #350, "whispered"
Author's Notes: None.
As the day progressed, Merlin felt the back of his neck get redder and redder. It wasn’t so much seeing the way people would catch his eye, then quickly look away. It was all the whispering they thought couldn’t be heard, the soft sibilance of secrets being passed from one person to the next.
He slid into his seat for his last class and immediately hunched down so he matched the heights of the girls who sat on either side of him. His second day at a new school, and he hated every second of it. Back in Ealdor, he’d been one of a crowd. Nobody had gawked at him or talked about him behind his back. They’d all known each other for years, and now, he was the outsider.
When a group of laughing boys entered the room, his gaze flickered automatically in their direction. At the head was Arthur Pendragon, local golden child. The others flocked around him like pigeons starving for food.
Merlin didn’t want to be jealous—from what he’d seen, Arthur was a bit of a braggart and more than a little obnoxious—but he was. He missed having friends to laugh with. He hated feeling like an object of derision.
He missed Ealdor.
The voice was surprisingly deep, coming from behind him. Merlin bent over his notebook, pretending to write in it, to avoid looking like he was listening to this new sideline conversation.
“It’s Merlin, right?”
His shoulders jerked as he twisted around. There, behind him, was the giant who usually hovered at the back of Arthur’s crowd. Merlin had never heard him speak before, though he was hard not to notice with his unusual height.
“Yeah,” he replied carefully.
The giant thrust out his hand. “Percy. You’re in my English lit class.”
Merlin would take his word for it, but he accepted the handshake anyway. “Hi.”
“If you need help or anything, just ask.” Percy settled back, but his posture remained open, his smile genuine. “Downing’s not much of a teacher. It can be rough coming in after term has already started.”
Warmth flooded through him. “Thanks. I appreciate it.”
Class wasn’t as bad as he expected. When they were dismissed, he lingered as he gathered his books, waiting for the chattering girls and Arthur’s gang to leave before rising from his seat.
He was surprised Percy was still behind him.
“I was new last year,” Percy said before Merlin could comment. “I know what it’s like when you think everybody is whispering about you behind your back.”
Merlin blushed. “Do I look that pathetic?”
“Thing is, it’s not all bad.” Percy scooped his books into his hand and rose. “Half the girls are already hoping they’re the one you ask out first.”
He highly doubted that. Especially once they discovered that Percy was more his type than any of them. “And the other half?”
“Are too busy taking selfies to even notice you’re alive.” His head tilted toward the door. “You have to be somewhere? Because if not, I can introduce you to the guys.”
“You mean Arthur.”
His disdain must’ve been obvious because Percy smiled. “He’s not as bad as he comes across. Trust me.”
Though he wasn’t sure it was the best idea, Merlin heard himself say, “Okay. If you say so.”
Percy’s smile widened, and he clapped a warm hand onto Merlin’s shoulder. “Just say the word, and I’ll get you out of there. Us new kids have to stick together.”
“Except you’re not new anymore.”
“I will be for you.”