Title: Reaching Out
Pairing/s: Merlin/Arthur, one-sided Mordred/Merlin
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Mordred
Summary: Mordred and Merlin try to get some work done in the library. Arthur interrupts.
Warnings: Some violence, sexual fantasies
Word Count: 994
Prompt: #28 Jealousy
Author's Notes: Okay, this is slightly rushed and unbeta'd, and I will come back later to make sure this was a good idea. It's Modern AU with magic (and referenced prejudice against magic users). Mordred is seventeenish, Arthur and Merlin are around twenty. Happy Amnesty Week, everyone!
They sit in the very corner of the library. The desk is a mess – Mordred scrupulously, tirelessly puts all his books and notes in alphabetical order but Merlin is chaos put in human form when he’s zoned out. Right now, he highlights a paragraph in a book about a foot to his right while simultaneously digging up a stray piece of paper from a pile before him, his eyes focused on nothing in particular.
Mordred tries to keep to himself. His attention slips though, every five seconds, to focus on some inconsequential detail. It’s the way Merlin drums his long, slender fingers on the cheap wooden desk; or the way his dark hair is highlighted alternately in blue and brown when he nods his head; or the tiny marks his teeth make in his lower lip when he bites it.
Mordred doesn’t even pretend to understand the rows and columns of numbers that Merlin is painstakingly analysing. There are graphs and maps and diagrams; he sometimes catches a glimpse that makes him recoil, but Merlin notes his reaction without even looking in Mordred’s direction and files away the offensive bits of paper.
It’s just nonsense, Mordred thinks. His paper – an essay, about some novel he hasn’t read and can’t even pretend to be interested in – is half-way done. Has been for over an hour.
Merlin’s eyelids flutter. His eyelashes make a long, sweeping arch over his cheeks. From beneath, his eyes flash gold.
The pen. He has his hand hovering above a pen, fingers spread out. The sleeves of his shirt are pulled tight over his palm, almost up to his knuckles, but Mordred can still notice the thick brand of black metal encasing his narrow wrist.
The pen rises. Not by much, an inch perhaps. Then it begins to twirl, at first slowly, then picking up the pace.
Merlin allows himself a small smile. His other hand is still occupied, adding up some numbers and then scribbling down an equation that is more letters than digits, and all of them in Greek.
The pen continues to twirl.
Mordred eyes the room nervously. No-one is looking in their direction, and even if they were, it would be impossible to notice anything amiss in this mess. And yet he’s uneasy.
In theory, the iron wristbands (manacles) should render all magic useless. That was the theory, anyway. Mordred knew, with every fibre of his being, that what the cold metal around his own hands did was slowly seep out all of his energy and then turn it violently against him when he tried to use magic. Sometimes they flared up all by themselves, the pain burning but short-lived. Other times, it was days and days of dull ache that threatened to drive him insane.
They would keep the magic at bay, the government has said. Safe. Controlled. Like putting a dam across the river.
Well, if an average sorcerer’s magic was a river than Merlin’s was an ocean. The shackles couldn’t contain him any more than they could keep the sun from rising. They did cause him pain – the skin around them was reddened and scarred, and even now Mordred could spot that the metal turned red-hot – but Merlin never seemed to care.
Suddenly he drops the pen and the fire in his eyes dies off. They are blue and guileless, and the smile flashing across his face takes Mordred’s breath away.
A moment later Arthur Pendragon drops into an empty seat next to him, all careless elegance. He spares Mordred no look before leaning in and capturing Merlin’s mouth in a kiss. His arm wraps possessively around Merlin’s shoulders.
The kiss takes way too long to be a simple greeting. Merlin’s throat is working, his head swaying gently back and forth; he makes soft, keening noises that drown out every other sound in the library. Arthur catches his lower lip between his teeth, drawing out another soft moan.
It’s like porn. Mordred only started watching when curiosity got the better of him, and now he sometimes ventures the darker parts of the Internet. Like porn, minus the music in the background and – he presumes – the follow-through. It’s still a library. Still a public place.
The kiss only ends when Arthur wants it to. He draws back, smug and self-satisfied, with a final peck to Merlin’s reddened lips.
‘Hello,’ he says quietly, and Merlin laughs.
‘Hey, you,’ he says back.
Only then does Arthur seem to notice Mordred. He nods his head in his direction.
‘How are you doing?’ he asks casually, arm still draped over Merlin.
‘Fine,’ Mordred replies.
‘I still have work to do,’ Merlin complains.
‘You always have work to do,’ Arthur says, exasperated.
Mordred hopes he isn’t blushing. There are—he has these thoughts, sometimes. When he’s lying down in his bed in the dead of the night, sleep eluding him. His thoughts drift in that direction – Merlin and Arthur, Arthur and Merlin. Entwined with each other, completing each other. Giving each other the kind of pleasure Mordred doesn’t know but wishes he did.
These nights always end with a sticky mess over his hand and a burning shame in his chest. Afterwards he falls asleep, and when morning comes he promises himself he will never do that again. It’s an invasion of their privacy, even if it happens inside his head.
But sometimes he wonders what it would be like. Curiously, it’s always Arthur he imagines himself with. But it’s Merlin he craves, with his bright smile and his blue-gold eyes and his kindness and the power shimmering beneath his skin.
One evening Mordred has gathered his courage and asked. Merlin rubbed the shackles around his wrists.
‘He loves me in spite of what I am,’ he said quietly.
Well, I love you because of what you are. But you won’t give me a chance.
Ever since their first meeting, Mordred has known love. Now he’s learning about envy.