Title: Hole in the Paper (Heart)
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur's answer would change everything.
Word Count: 1000
Prompt: Picture Prompt (Do you like me?)
Author's Notes: Another continuation!
His mother was going to kill him.
She would chop him into pieces before putting him back together so she could do it all over again.
Merlin shook himself, driving away the morbid thoughts. His mum would never do anything like that. She wouldn’t even threaten it, not considering the threats they already dealt with in their lives. But she was going to be angry.
Merlin wasn’t sure what was worse: sitting in detention with Arthur or the black eye emerging. The school nurse had taken a look though and declared he would look like a boxer for a while but there would be no lasting damage. If she had hoped it would cheer him up, it had failed dismally. Merlin had spent the whole time watching Arthur. It hadn’t been a surprise when Arthur had refused to be looked at, staring at the nurse with such a haughty expression she hadn’t dared ask again.
Merlin knew he was lucky not to have been hurt. Apart from his pride, that was. It hadn’t taken Valiant much effort to get him on the floor. But Merlin had known that before he rushed into the fight. There was nothing else he could have done though, not when he heard the jeers and knew that Arthur had stated something once again.
Merlin didn’t know what was going on with his friend, but he could guess. Arthur hadn’t just been getting into more fights, he had been provoking them. Merlin did his best to stop him – or dive into the fray himself – but he knew it couldn’t continue. The only thing he could think of was Arthur’s father was making him act like this, but when he had tried to ask, Arthur had yelled at him and for the first time since their friendship began, they had spent a day not talking.
Merlin didn’t know if Arthur had forgiven him. There had been a horrified look on Arthur’s face when Merlin had hit the floor. He hadn’t stopped to help though but instead thrown himself at Valiant with a cry of rage. Thankfully, the older boys were serving their detention elsewhere; the teachers seemed to have realised putting Arthur and Valiant in the same room was asking for trouble.
Arthur had barely glanced at Merlin since they had taken their seats. Ripping a page out of his book, Merlin scrawled a message asking Arthur if he was okay and slipped it onto the boy’s desk when the teacher wasn’t looking. Arthur didn’t react though. Merlin tried again, this time asking if he was hurt, if there was anything he could do and finally coming out and asking if Arthur was ignoring him.
Even his last note was met with silence. Merlin sighed heavily, then tried to look innocent when Mr Muirden looked over at him. The man gave him a suspicious look, but Merlin kept his act up until the man looked back to his marking. Then Merlin glanced at Arthur again. Arthur’s back was rigid and he was staring straight ahead. He wasn’t even pretending to do his homework like they were supposed to be. His hands were scrunched into fists on his knees. Merlin realised Arthur had been tense since their pretend marriage almost a week ago. Had Arthur been bluffing when he said that his father wouldn’t find out? Was all of this Merlin fault because Morgana had noticed that he liked Arthur more than he should?
Biting his lip, Merlin glanced at his desk, then back to Arthur. If this was his fault, he had to fix it somehow; it was what hiss mother would have said.
Tearing out another page, Merlin traced his pencil over the lines. He sketched the boxes carefully, making sure the squares were neat and Arthur had no reason to mock him. Once he was sure he had made them even as he could, he wrote his question out carefully and then slowly wrote yes or no under the boxes. He was nervous, more nervous than he thought he would be. If Arthur gave the wrong answer, Merlin wasn’t sure what he would do.
He slid the piece of paper onto Arthur’s desk and pretended to look the other way like it didn’t matter. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched Arthur closely. It only took a few seconds before Arthur glanced down, then seemed to do a double take.
“Of course, you idiot!” He exclaimed loudly and Merlin winced. The boxes had been there for a reason and now the teacher was looking over.
“You’re supposed to be studying in silence. “
“But Merlin is being such an idiot!”
Merlin didn’t think Arthur needed to put so much emphasis on the insult. After a few stern words and the threat of staying over lunch the next day, Arthur fell silent. But he kicked Merlin on the ankle. Merlin kicked him back; it was how they always reminded each other they were there for each other. Arthur thought it was a great code, Merlin thought it was stupid but as normal, Arthur had got his way.
They were finally free. School was strange this late but Merlin knew his mum would be waiting. For them both, no doubt, for there wouldn’t be anyone there to pick up Arthur. He should have been nervous about her reaction, but he couldn’t. Arthur had shoved the paper back in his hand as they had left.
Merlin took his scolding with good grace, and his reaction meant is mother let him off with doing the dishes after they had dropped Arthur home. Finally, his heart pounding hard, Merlin was alone in his room and unfolded the piece of paper.
Do you like me?
Arthur had torn a gaping hole in the paper from where he had scribbled in the yes! box for too long and pressed too hard.
The rip in the paper mended any weakness in their friendship and put a wide grin on Merlin face.