Title: Arthur and the Not So Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Characters/pairings: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Arthur’s first day of school isn’t starting out at all well, but a boy called Merlin changes that.
Warnings: references to bullies, Past character death
Prompt: #205: First Day of School
Disclaimer: I do not own anything Merlin-related. Shine and BBC are the lucky ones who do.
Arthur stood before the large brown door, his little legs shaking uncontrollably as he reached up and knocked. He could hear the teacher talking on the other side and just knew that he would get in really bad trouble for being late on the first day of reception. Would he get a caning? His sister, Morgana, told him that’s what happened when students got in trouble.
He’d always tried to be good and not give his father or anyone else reason to get angry with him. Even being only five, he knew when to speak and when to not, when to be a young boy who needed to have fun and when to try to be invisible. More oft than not he found himself doing the latter, which was no fun, but it was okay, because when Arthur’s daddy was around him he was always so sad and Arthur didn’t like to see him that way.
Morgana told him it was his mummy that Father was so sad about. Arthur didn’t remember anything about her, but he knew all too well that she had died not long after his birth. He would never forget that about his mummy.
There was a pause in the teacher’s talking, so Arthur knew she must be coming to get him. He tensed and wanted to run the other way, but he didn’t want to make his daddy angry with him for not doing what he was told. A tear fought to break free from his lashes, and he quickly wiped it away, but more tears followed. He ran his free hand over his face and wished his father had come with him. He’d promised the night before that he would, but he’d had an emergency meeting, so his valet, George, had been tasked with taking Arthur to his first day of reception.
It wasn’t that George was mean or that Arthur didn’t like him—he did—but he wasn’t his daddy. George had walked him to the front entrance, but had left after kneeling, handing Arthur his lunch and school bag, and telling him that it would be okay and that he would have fun. Arthur had doubted those words at that moment, and now that he knew he was late, he knew for a fact that there would be no fun to be had this day.
The large door opened and a pretty lady stood there looking down at Arthur with a warm smile that reminded him of the picture he had by his bed of his mummy. This lady’s hair was darker than his mother’s, but she had that same motherly look about her that made him think she would never let anything bad happen to him.
“Well, hello. You must be Arthur Pendragon,” his teacher said in a pleasing voice as she knelt and wiped away the tears that continued to roll down Arthur’s rosy cheeks. “It’s going to be okay, love,” she said as she took his little hand in hers and stood before walking him into the room. “My name is Miss Mithian,” she added kindly as she helped him out of his coat and pointed to a chair at the table nearest her desk. “Students, this is Arthur.”
“Hi, Arthur,” each of them said in unison without being prompted, most of them looking happy, but there were two boys who weren’t smiling; in fact, they were eying the new student suspiciously.
“You may sit by Merlin, Arthur. The girl who sat there has moved and Merlin might like to have a new friend sit by him, yes?” she said, looking at a boy with hair as black as coal. His wide eyes disappeared as he grinned and nodded enthusiastically.
Arthur looked back and smiled at Miss Mithian before he walked to the vacant spot at the small yellow table. Maybe George had been right, after all. This boy looked like someone Arthur could be friends with.
He set his bag down by his chair and was about to open his mouth and say something to the boy with eyes as blue as his when he heard giggling coming from behind. He froze and felt his lip quivering again.
“Hi. My name’s Merlin,” squeaked the small voice, “and don’t pay any attention to them boys back there; they’re big bullies and me mummy says to ignore them. If they bother you tell Miss Mithian straight away.”
Grateful for the information, Arthur nodded and smiled as he sat down. “I’m Arthur,” he said as he studied the small boy who didn’t look old enough to be in reception, but Arthur knew he was probably just one of the younger ones who hadn’t yet turned five. Arthur was almost six and was starting reception mid-year because he’d been overseas with his father for the past year.
The morning went by rather quickly and when it was lunch time they all went and sat at a table in a large room with a stage in the front. Arthur was starving and couldn’t wait to eat. He sat at the end and was sad to see Merlin sitting at the other end, talking to another boy. Arthur’s smile morphed into a frown; he really had hoped for Merlin and him to be best mates, but it was ridiculous to want something like that, wasn’t it? Merlin didn’t know him, so why would he choose to be his friend when he already had others whom he had known for months?
Resigned to eating alone he took out his lunch and was happy to see that Miss Daisy had made him his favourite, but his happiness was short-lived when he heard voices nearing him. He knew it was those bullies Arthur had told him about. He was scared and felt himself beginning to shake.
“Arthur, love, come sit down here by Merlin,” whispered Miss Mithian in his ear as she took his lunch from him, helped him up from his seat, and walked with him to where Merlin was seated. Arthur smiled and was happy when Merlin’s blue eyes disappeared again.