Pairings: Merlin/Arthur (maybe, ish...)
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur,
Summary: Hiding in the toilets seemed a great way to skip a lesson. He didn't realise he wouldn't be alone.
Word Count: 990
Author's Notes: This is what sprang into my head this week. High school AU.
Arthur ducked into the boy’s toilets as he passed, hoping that if no one saw him, he would be able to will away some time and then get a free period rather than going to the class he should be in. He knew that he was risking his father’s wrath by skipping class, but numbers just seemed to hate him almost as much as the teacher did. Arthur wasn’t thick by any stretch of the imagination, but he always left that lesson feeling tears of humiliation threatening to prick at the corners of his eyes from where he had been shown up to not know the answer again and again. It was easier just to hide from it all and then get the notes off a friend. If he played it right, he knew he could persuade his father it was the teacher’s fault and get the man to hire him a tutor. But until he could put that plan in motion, he first just needed to get through another hour without being seen.
Arthur folded his arms, leaning against one of the stalls and tried not to think about it too much. He was the golden boy of the school, and had taken to hiding in the toilets just to avoid a class. Shaking his head at how messed up it was, Arthur jumped when he heard a small sniff coming from the stall he was leaning against.
“Who’s there?” Arthur knew he could sound intimidating when he needed to and let that authority creep into his voice now. No one refused to talk to him, not if they knew what was good for them. Not that Arthur would ever do anything, he had grown out of his bullying ways a few years back. But to shun Arthur Pendragon meant accidentally shunning everyone else in the school. Arthur had connections everywhere.
Yet this time, there was another sniffle as whoever it was clearly tried to keep themselves as quiet as possible. Arthur found it had caught his interest and – having nothing better to do – moved around until he was in front of the door.
“Who is in there? Open up or I’ll come in. Unless you want me to catch you with your pants around your ankles, I suggest you open this door.”
There was silence again for a moment before the door was flung up so violently that Arthur flinched. He would have denied it if he wasn’t too busy staring at the boy in front of him. He recognised him from the year below, all ears and cheekbones. Only this time, those cheeks were stained with tears and the eyes that Arthur had noticed as being gorgeous were swimming with tears. He wasn’t exactly going to admit that this boy had caught his eye more than once, yet he could only stare.
“Is that what you do every time someone wants to be alone? Threaten to humiliate them unless they give you what you want?” Arthur flushed, thinking back to the reasons why he was in here in the first place. He didn’t have the chance to answer before Merlin rammed a pointy elbow into him as he stormed past. Knowing what would happen if he went out into the halls looking like he had been crying, Arthur held out a hand and caught his wrist. Merlin flailed in his hold for a second, but it was almost too easy to draw him back in.
“I’m sorry,” Arthur murmured, trying to look apologetic even as he let go.
“What’s a guy like you got to be sorry for? Don’t you just get your own way no matter what?”
“If that were the case, do you think I’d be in here?” Merlin’s eyes went impossibly wide and there could be no denying they dropped to below Arthur’s waist, as if to check that he hadn’t come in here to relieve himself. Arthur smirked, cocking an eyebrow as Merlin’s eyes found his face again. The boy instantly blushed.
“So, why are you in here?” The anger had gone from his voice and he sounded almost timid.
“Pretending that I’m not completely failing maths,” Arthur muttered, not being sure why he was telling Merlin this. “You?”
Merlin offered a shrug, but dropped his bag to his feet and leant against the stall, arms folded across his chest.
“Had a few problems with a few gits.”
“Valiant and his crew?” It didn’t take much to guess. They were the reason why Arthur had left behind his bullying ways. He had used to be in the same group of friends, until he had come out as gay and they had landed him in hospital without a second thought. Merlin looked at him sideways and nodded. There was something in his expression that showed he knew what had happened to Arthur and wasn’t going to judge him for once having been in that group.
“Just don’t try hiding in the gym toilets, they lurk about in there,” Arthur offered, shooting Merlin a small smile. To his delight, Merlin returned it, moving over to the sink and washing his face to try and clean himself up. Without knowing what he was doing, Arthur had pulled down one of the paper towels and offered it out.
“Here.” Merlin looked up and smiled.
“Thanks. So, maths, eh? The golden boy has a weakness.” Arthur flushed, but there had only been kindness in Merlin’s voice.
“Need a hand?” Merlin pulled out Arthur’s books and flicked through, muttering through the sums with ease despite being the year below. Arthur found himself gaping.
“You know this stuff?”
“Easy when you know how. Look, here, you need to make sure you carry this number down, you can’t just ignore it…”
Arthur couldn’t help but think he had just found his tutor after all as they settled down next to each other, knees and elbows bumping as Merlin explained the problems.