Title: There's a Fine, Fine Line
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Arthur realizes he might not be number one in Merlin's life.
Word Count: 716
Prompt: #208: Picture Prompt (Do You Like Me?)
Author's Notes: Follows this: Lessons, You & Tea
Arthur finds Merlin sitting by the Elder Tree, he should've known and gone straight there instead of wandering up and down halls and rooms filled with crackling noises and the aromatic scent of fresh herbs. He would've save time and avoided a conversation with Gaius he was sure his father set up, the words coming out from Gaius' mouth resembled his father's. Since his birth he's been destined to carry on with the Pendragon legacy, and he's well aware of what Camelot and its neighbors expect of him, but sometimes he wants nothing more than leave expectations behind and behave like every other kid living in the citadel. Most of the time with Merlin by his side.
He approaches Merlin as silently as he can, ready to jump on him and startle him, but he notices his eyes are golden hued. The leaves rustle violently with the force of a sudden wind, a shivers runs up and down Arthur's body, and not for the first time he finds Merlin's magic absolutely fascinating.
"You found me," Merlin says, smiling and patting the empty space next to him. Arthur doesn't even blink before he's occupying the spot.
"Well, duh, of course I did."
"You're usually slow in the mornings."
Arthur shoves Merlin, laughing, already feeling the weight on his shoulders becoming more bearable. "At least I'm not a clumsy mess."
Merlin stares at him, making his eyes as wide and big as he can, Arthur swears he can still see specs of gold in them. "Yes, Sire. But I'm magic."
"You're ridiculous Merlin. Have I ever told you that?"
"Only every day."
Arthur is about to point out the reasons he thinks so, when he notices the box by Merlin's feet. It's small, but looks heavy, and there's something carved into the good Arthur can't make it, before he even thinks about it, he's asking Merlin if the box is magical. Merlin shakes his head, getting the biggest grin on his face. In the months Arthur has known him he has never smiled like that, not even when Arthur tried to cheer him up after a particular bad day. He frowns, plucks the grass around him and ignores the first words Merlin says, only tuning in when Merlin mentions his home.
"He must have known I was missing them."
"Yes, Will. He sent me this box and a letter, he wrote me about the things I have missed since I've been away. He's my best friend."
Arthur's plucking gets more intense, he hates the sinking feeling in his stomach and he can't meet Merlin's smiling face, instead focuses on the dirt stuck to his boots. This is the first time he's hearing about this Will who's apparently Merlin's best friend and sends him gifts which make him smile.
Merlin has gone from happy to serious, probably because Arthur is visibly scowling.
"Is there something wrong?"
Arthur shakes his head vehemently, hoping mind reading isn't within the reach of Merlin's magic.
"Nothing. So, Will?"
"Oh." Merlin instantly goes back to smiling. "Our families have been close for years, we were friends almost since we were born. I miss playing with him. He's really funny and smart, that's why I like him."
Arthur thinks the idea of babies being friends is absurd. They don't even talk. Whatever, Arthur is probably smarter than Will. "Hey Merlin, do you like me too?"
As soon as the question comes out Arthur feels ridiculous, his face heating up. Merlin's answer takes a long time, and Arthur wants to hide from him for at least the rest of his life if it means he can hide his reddened face from the other boy. But as soon as he's trying to get up, Merlin grabs his arm, and smiles in the same way when he talking about Will, no, bigger. It has to be bigger, Arthur is sure because they're too close and there is no way Arthur's eyes are lying to him. He stays put, waits between silence and the palpitations of his heart. Merlin's hand finds his, holds on tight.
"Yes, of course I do. You're my best friend too, right?"
Arthur studies Merlin's clammy hand, the way it just rests inside his own. It's that easy. "Yeah, I am."