Title: Great Expectations
Characters/pairings: Merlin, Hunith
Summary: Merlin receives an unwanted missive.
Prompt 194: Expectation
A/N: Part fifteen of my reincarnation series Merlin and Arthur Live Again.
“Merlin, it isn’t going to open itself,” said his mother as she picked up the unopened cream-coloured envelope beside his plate. “It must be important,” she added as she pointed to the return address as she walked around the small table and sat down. “Should I open it for you? I assume that’s what you’ve been waiting for.”
“Yes, please,” Merlin said, more than a little trepidation in his voice. He should probably feel badly that he had to get his mummy to open his mail for him, but being that the letter was from Uther Pendragon, Merlin thought he had every right to be hesitant.
He wiped his sweaty palms on his napkin as he watched his mother pry the envelope open and retrieve a thin sheet of paper. At least it wasn’t a lengthy missive. That was something positive. “Why would he write to me?” he asked petulantly, worry on his face and in his trembling hands. What if Arthur’s father had found out he had magic? “I thought he’d gone out of the country.” Merlin set down his napkin and fork; he couldn’t eat. He’d been starving minutes earlier, but his appetite seemed to have flown away when the mail arrived.
His mother opened the sheet of paper, read whatever it said, then looked at Merlin and gave him one of those looks that said it wasn’t bad, but neither was it good. Merlin swallowed. “What does he want?” Dread filled him. He never knew what to expect from Arthur’s father. Sometimes the man was as cold as ice, but then he could be the complete opposite. When Arthur and he had seen Arthur’s father at the cemetery, he’d almost been warm and welcoming. The memory brought a smile to Merlin’s face, but it was soon replaced with a frown as he awaited his mother’s answer.
“To meet with you and Arthur in his office Friday evening at six. The topic of said meeting will be expectations.” Her expression was blank and her voice was neutral. So much for her giving away how she felt.
Merlin swallowed as he reached across the table to take the envelope and letter from his mother. “Arthur was afraid this might happen. He said his father is concerned about how he will do at uni when I’m there with him.” Merlin let out a small laugh, as if the thought was completely ludicrous. He rolled his eyes.
“Well, his father isn’t alone in his worries, Merlin,” said his mother, her expression now serious. “I, too, wonder how the two of you will get on in your studies. You must admit school has never been anything you’ve cared much for. With Arthur as a distraction, it worries me. You can’t blame Arthur’s father for doing the same.”
Merlin sighed. He was almost seventeen, but, in his mother’s eyes he would always be her child and she would treat him as such, but almost as soon as he had that thought he knew he was being unfair and that his mother had every right to worry. That being the case, he guessed he really couldn’t blame Mr Pendragon for doing the same, but it made him feel like a little child being chastised to have to meet with his boyfriend’s father and tell him what their expectations were for the coming term. “You and Dad would never treat me like this, though, Mum. You would never send a letter to my boyfriend. Would you?” he asked when he noticed his mother looked thoughtful.
“No, Merlin, we wouldn’t send a letter, but we would want to discuss this with the two of you, and I will want to do that,” she said with emphasis. “This isn’t a free trip the two of you are going on; your father has sent the money for first term, but, as you know, he said he won’t pay for another term if your grades are not good. We don’t want to push you, Merlin, or ask something of you that you are unable to do, but we can’t be spending money on Avalon University if you aren’t going to take it seriously. You can always go here if things don’t work out there.”
For the first time since he’d decided to go to uni, Merlin felt uneasy. What if he wasn’t up to the task? He’d been so sure everything would be fine and that being at uni with Arthur would make it all the better. But now he wasn’t so sure. This was serious. He didn’t want to have to go to Uni in Ealdor, but the only way he could stay at Avalon was if his grades were good. That wasn’t going to be easy.
He felt his breathing speed up and felt his magic beginning to flutter within him. He closed his eyes and heard his mother’s chair scrape across the floor as she stood and came around and stood before him. It’d been a while since he’d had a magic flare-up.
“Breathe, Merlin. You’re going to be fine. Direct your magic like your father told you to do,” she said as she put her hands on either side of her son’s face. “Focus on my hands, love.”
It took several minutes, but when he felt his magic settle within him and quiet down, he slowly opened his eyes. “What if I can’t do this, Mum?” Merlin had never wanted anything as much as he wanted this. He wanted to do well at uni and he wanted to do it with Arthur.
“You can do this, Merlin. I know you can.” She removed her hands and stood. “Why don’t you see if Arthur can come to Ealdor Thursday and we can have our talk so it can prepare you for the talk with his father. Does that sound like a good idea?”
It certainly did and immediately calmed Merlin further. He was thankful his mother knew what to do; she always had and he knew she always would. He didn’t know what he’d do without her. “Yeah, thanks, Mum.”