Special thanks to Hanihana for the suggestion that I write an AU Arwen fic!
There is a আগুন at an office building downtown. Not a huge fire, but the আগুন department is summoned, and the usual crowd forms. The আগুন is extinguished easily, and as Arthur packs the gear into the truck, he takes a moment to look around. He takes his শিরস্ত্রাণ off, wiping his sweaty forehead with his arm, freeing the damp blonde hair that has plastered itself there. It is midday, so most of the onlookers are senior citizens and businesspeople on their lunch hours, most of them frowning at the inconvenience caused দ্বারা the trucks.
The লাইব্রেরি is across the street. Slight motion in the large floor-to-ceiling windows on the side catches his eye, and he turns his head to see a petite form looking out. She is standing and watching, one hand against the glass, the other toying with what looks like a necklace. Inexplicably intrigued, he steps forward, peering, trying to get a better look through the glare on the glass. Her skin appears dusky, latte-colored, and her hair is either up অথবা short. She is wearing a figure-hugging স্কার্ট that comes just to her knees and her calves are shapely.
He turns. “Huh?” It’s Merlin, one of the emergency medical technicians. He is also Arthur’s best friend.
“You expecting that hose to coil itself?”
“Oh, yes,” he says absently. He steals one last glance in the direction of the library. She’s gone.
“Cute, huh?” Merlin laughs, having seen the cause of his friend’s distraction.
“I’m not sure. Possibly,” he says, winding up the hose into the truck’s side compartment.
“I thought আপনি liked blondes.”
“Normally I do. She just… intrigued me.”
“They always ‘intrigue’ you. Until আপনি get bored,” he says, clapping him on the shoulder and walking back to the ambulance, chuckling.
“Hey, Merl?” he calls.
“We still going out to Excalibur tomorrow night?”
“Sure. Your turn to drive.”
“Damn. Pick আপনি up at eight, then.”
At the club, Arthur is lamenting over his bottle of water. Probably better I don’t get wasted tonight anyway,
he thinks. He’s been in a bit of a funk these past few weeks.
“What is your problem, anyway?” Merlin puts his bottle down on the টেবিল with a thud. Some suds spill out the শীর্ষ of the bottle and land on the table.
“I’m bored,” Arthur tells him, “bored with this scene. Bored with…”
“…women?” Merlin suggests.
“No. Girls,” he clarifies. “A woman
would be most welcome. I just know this isn’t the place to find one.”
Merlin looks around, seeing nothing but sweet young things, barely dressed, mostly wobbly. He twists his mouth to the side. “Good point.”
“Why did we want to check this place out again? Remind me, because so far, I’m…” he trails off, as he spies something through a break in the crowd. অথবা he thinks he spies something. Someone. No. Way.
“Arthur?” Merlin pokes him on the shoulder.
“It’s her,” he whispers to Merlin, leaning in.
“Her who?” Merlin whispers back. “Why are we whispering?”
“From the library. I’m almost positive.”
“Over there,” he points surreptitiously. “Don’t look!”
“Well, how am I supposed to see if I don’t look?”
“I don’t know, be casual.”
Merlin leans back in his chair and pretends to stretch, looking around. He spots her, he thinks, and straightens back out. “Over there, in the purple shirt? With the pale brunette?”
Arthur peeks again. He hadn’t noticed that she was with someone. She catches him looking, and he quickly ducks his head, pretending to read the label on his bottle. “Yes,” he confirms to Merlin, having seen her companion, a woman of striking beauty with চীনামাটির বাসন skin and raven hair.
It has to be her. It has
to. Someone approaches their table, asking her a question. She declines whatever was asked, putting her hand out, palm forward. Same shape, same long tapered fingers as the hand he saw pressed against the glass.
“What’s the big deal with her, anyway?” Merlin asks.
Arthur thinks. “I don’t know. Like আপনি said, she’s not my normal type. I just feel… drawn to her. Something pulling me,” he pauses, noting the expression on his buddy’s face. “You think I’ve gone bonkers, haven’t you?”
“No, no! I’ve just never seen আপনি like this. আপনি know: thoughtful. I’m trying to get used to it.”
Arthur flicks him on the ear for the remark, and sneaks another glance across the club.
“Go talk to her, Dollop-head,” Merlin tells him. “Introduce yourself. Buy her a drink.”
“You think I should?” Arthur asks.
“It’s better than sitting here looking like a pervy stalker. Come on,” he stands, pulling Arthur দ্বারা his shoulder.
“You know, for a skinny guy, you’re surprisingly strong,” Arthur মতামত as he is dragged off his stool.
They approach the ladies’ table. Arthur clears his throat and says, “Can we buy আপনি ladies a drink?”
She looks up, her deep brown eyes soft and almond-shaped. He stops breathing when she looks at him, shrugs, and says, “Sure.”
“Would আপনি like to sit?” her friend asks, motioning to the two vacant chairs at their table.
“Thank you,” Merlin says and plops himself down পরবর্তি to her, ensuring that Arthur can sit পরবর্তি to his dream girl.
Arthur motions to a waitress and sits. She comes to the টেবিল and takes their orders. Another water for Arthur, another বিয়ার for Merlin. The brunette has a রাম and Diet কোকাকোলা while the mystery girl from the লাইব্রেরি orders a Diet কোকাকোলা with no rum.
“Designated driver, too?” Arthur asks her.
“Non-drinker,” she tells him.
“Oh. Cool,” he says, then remembers, “I’m Arthur. This is my friend, Merlin.” He holds out his hand. She takes it and says, “Gwen. My friend, Morgana.” Her hand feels very soft and cool under his, yet he suddenly feels warmer at her touch. He reluctantly releases her hand to shake Morgana’s as well.
“Merlin. What an interesting name,” Morgana says.
“Yeah,” Merlin sighs, clearly used to people remarking on his unusual name, “My mum was a bit into stories and legends about wizards when she was pregnant with me.” The girls laugh, but not unkindly. He has learned to have a sense of humor about it and laughs with them. He then adds, “My middle name is Gandalf.”
“It is not!” Morgana is cracking up now.
“Okay, আপনি caught me. It’s Keith.”
The waitress delivers the drinks and removes the empties. A slower song starts. Arthur gets up his courage. I’ve never been nervous like this before,
“Would আপনি like to dance?” he asks Gwen. She glances at Morgana, who says, “Go ahead. I’ll have a few laughs with the wingman here.”
Arthur chokes on his water upon hearing this, and Merlin slaps him on the back, laughing again. He recovers and stands, holding his hand out for Gwen.
She stands and he is certain she is the same person he saw in the লাইব্রেরি window. She is tiny, coming just past his shoulder, and she is wearing cream-colored Capri pants with a lavender গলরজ্জু, halter top. He can see the nice calves he admired before, and her skin looks gorgeous against the pastel color of her top, and he is dying to touch those দগ্ধ শর্করা shoulders. Her hair is down now, a loose array of curls so dark they are almost black.
She assesses him as well. Jeans, nicely fitting, a white shirt, open at the neck. Simple, almost boring clothes, but on him they looks spectacular. Golden blonde hair, longish but not unflatteringly so. He is very fit and she blushes, realizing her hands are itching to caress the muscles she sees glimpses of.
They walk to the dance floor and he puts his hands around her waist. She brings her hands up to his shoulders, pausing for just a সেকেন্ড before reaching around behind his neck. They are silent for a few moments, then he speaks.
“So, what is it আপনি do?”
“I’m a librarian.”
“Oh,” he says, raising his eyebrows, pretending that he hadn’t seen her.
“I know, boring and nerdy, right?”
“No, actually. It’s… it’s kind of hot, to be honest,” he smiles. This time she stops breathing for a second. What was that?
Recovering, she asks, “How ‘bout you?”
“I’m a firefighter,” he says casually, praying that she didn’t see him watching her the দিন before.
“Well, that is definitely hot,” she replies, biting her lower lip slightly. He wants to do that, too.
“In a temperature sense, yes,” he says with a chuckle. She laughs, a loud carefree laugh. Not a laugh আপনি would expect from a librarian. Her head tilts back slightly as she does so and he catches a glimpse of her throat. He fights the urge to bend his head down and চুম্বন the pulse he sees throbbing there. Is it beating a little fast?
he puzzles, not wanting to stare.
“There was a আগুন across the রাস্তা from the লাইব্রেরি yesterday, আপনি know,” she says. Her fingers are threading themselves in the hair at the nape of his neck, playing almost absentmindedly. She hasn’t realized she has done this until it was too late to stop. Well, he doesn’t seem to mind,
she thinks, noting that his hands are gently stroking her back now, fingers spreading, hands creeping, but nothing improper.
“Yes, I know,” he says, her fingers at his neck turning his insides to liquid. All right, say it
. “I was there.”
Her eyes fly up to his. She has never seen that particular shade of blue in someone’s eyes before. They are dark blue, a little grey, unlike Merlin’s bright blue ones. They stare into each other’s eyes for a moment, and the সঙ্গীত changes back to a fast song. They continue on as if the slow song was still playing.
“I saw you,” she says softly. He doesn’t hear her due to the change in music, and leans in.
“I saw you,” she says into his left ear, her warm breath sending chills down his entire left side.
“Yes. আপনি were… cleaning things up. Coiling up the firehose. You…”
“I saw আপনি in the লাইব্রেরি window.”
“I know. আপনি took a step toward me, and I knew you’d seen me.”
“I don’t know what…”
“I know. When I saw আপনি here tonight, I almost ran.”
“Yes. I… was afraid of what would happen if আপনি came over. Morgana made me stay. She was too
“I shall have to remember to thank her. Why were আপনি afraid?”
“Because the moment I saw আপনি take off your শিরস্ত্রাণ yesterday, something happened. I was… drawn in. Like a dream.” She pauses. “I can’t believe I’m telling আপনি this. We just met,” she tries to shake herself from the spell that seems to be around them. They don’t even notice the strange looks they are getting from the other patrons on the dance floor. They are in their own universe, where only they exist.
“No, no, I felt it, too,” he admits, “I totally panicked when I saw আপনি tonight. Merlin physically dragged me off my মল to come talk to you.”
“I shall have to remember to thank him.”
He pulls her a little closer, his hands sliding on her back. She lets him.
“I have another confession to make,” she says.
“You’re not my usual type.” Now it is Arthur’s turn to laugh. She likes his merry smile and notices the slightly crooked front tooth, which she finds charming. His eyes crinkle when he laughs.
“You’re not mine, either,” he says, then bravely ventures a hand up to caress one of the shoulders that has been taunting him. Her skin feels like velvet,
he thinks, closing his eyes for a moment.
Her fingers are still in his hair, and when he touches her skin she gasps just slightly, his touch feeling like the sweetest fire. She licks her lips, wanting to চুম্বন him. This is madness. I have known him for ten minutes,
His breathing is a bit labored as well. Especially when he opens his eyes just in time to see her lick her lips. He brings his hand around under her chin and lifts her face to his. He swoops down and kisses her, swiftly and softly, once. Her eyes drift closed and when she opens them he is staring at her. His eyes are dark.
“I’m sorry… I don’t usually…” he begins, embarrassed at his own forwardness. She impulsively kisses him back as her way of telling him he needn’t apologize.
“Neither do I,” she breathes, leaning her forehead on his chest.
Arthur happens to glance in Merlin’s direction. He has been talking animatedly with an increasingly-inebriated Morgana, but he happens to turn and look in Arthur’s direction and give him a bewildered look that says, “What the hell? It’s a fast song now!”
“The music’s changed,” Arthur tells Gwen.
“I only just noticed, myself.”
He doesn’t want to let her go. She doesn’t want him to let her go. Still, they realize how ridiculous they must look and return to the টেবিল hand in hand, both blushing slightly.
“So Merlin, are আপনি a fireman, too?” Gwen asks, attempting to recover.
“Nope. I’m an EMT,” he tells her.
“EMT?” Morgana asks.
“Emergency Medical Technician,” he explains.
“He drives the ambulance,” Arthur chimes in.
“Oh yes, that’s all I do. Drive the ambulance,” Merlin repeats in a sarcastic tone. “I don’t save any lives অথবা anything, no, leave that to the big ব্রেভ firemen to do.”
Arthur laughs, familiar with this diatribe. “I see you’ve had some আরো drinks,” he says, explaining the usually sweet Merlin’s current temperament.
“Are আপনি a librarian as well?” Arthur asks Morgana. She busts out laughing at the suggestion.
“Morgana is a hair stylist,” Gwen says. “She thinks my job is boring and snooty.”
“Well, it is. Sometimes I think আপনি prefer বই to people,” Morgana says, leaning on her elbows.
“Oh, stop. আপনি prefer gossip to actual information,” she teases back.
“Hey, আপনি get your hair done for free, so don’t poke fun!” Morgana pokes her shoulder as she says poke
“You two seemed to be… getting along,” Merlin says, changing the subject.
“Um, yes. Turns out Gwen here was watching the আগুন yesterday from across the street.” Arthur tells him, giving him a kick under the table. Play along.
“Oh really? Did আপনি see me? I was the one driving the ambulance,” he grins at her.
“Was there an অ্যাম্বুলেন্স there? I didn’t notice,” she grins back, teasing him now. He mocks being crestfallen.
“Of course I saw you, I saw both of you,” she tells him, reaching across to pat his hand once. Arthur expects to feel jealousy as she touches his friend’s hand, but doesn’t. That’s odd,
he thinks. He’s actually glad they are getting along.
“Did you, now?” Merlin asks, making a sideways glance at Arthur.
“She knows I saw her, Merlin,” Arthur tells him.
“Oh. আপনি just ruined my fun, আপনি know that?”
“Yes. Yes, I do.”
Gwen laughs at the two friends. She is inexplicably drawn to Arthur, but she finds she quite likes Merlin as well, albeit in a completely platonic way. He is easy to talk to and charming. But Arthur… he takes my breath away. I’ve never kissed a man that quickly before. He is like a magnet, and I cannot pull away.
She looks at him again. The fact that he is unreasonably handsome doesn’t hurt either.
“Give me your phone,” Gwen says to Arthur. He reaches in his pocket and pulls out his phone. She pokes around a bit, finds the contacts তালিকা and adds her name and number. She hands him his phone back and their hands touch again, like electricity. His eyes meet hers and hold while he puts his phone away. He returns his hand to hers on the table, eager to feel her skin under his hand again. She is addictive,
Morgana is now asleep, leaning her head down on the table. Gwen looks over and sighs, “I guess I had better get her home.”
“Will আপনি be okay? I mean, will আপনি be able to handle her?” Arthur asks.
“I think so,” she says, shaking Morgana’s shoulder. “Wakey-wakey. Time to go!”
She lifts her head, her face bleary but still beautiful. Odd. Not attracted to her at all,
Arthur thinks. She is very beautiful, but she stirs absolutely nothing in me. Wonder if Merlin likes her?
Merlin helps Morgana to her feet, and she leans over and kisses his cheek wetly. “Hi, Merlin,” she says, grinning stupidly.
“Come on,” Merlin says, holding his drink a bit better than she.
“We’ll at least help আপনি get her to your car,” Arthur offers, then reluctantly goes and helps Merlin with the floppy Morgana. She is light, but her limpness and silliness makes her hard for one person to handle.
They reach Gwen’s car, and it is not far from Arthur’s. They bundle Morgana into the passenger আসন and shut the door, but not before Merlin is accosted দ্বারা her when he reaches in to fasten her আসন belt. Apparently Morgana is an affectionate drunk.
“Are আপনি sure you’ll be okay with her?” Arthur asks again.
“Yes, I’ve done it before. I just have to talk to her like she’s a child and she obeys. I’ve got practice at it, আপনি know. Librarian and all,” she smiles at Arthur, whose mind is reeling with the thought of a stern Gwen, giving orders.
“I’ve really enjoyed meeting আপনি tonight, Gwen,” Arthur tells her.
They stand there awkwardly for a moment. Merlin slowly starts to walk to Arthur’s car. Arthur suddenly dips his head and kisses her again, this time a little longer. Her hands rest on his chest. He can feel heat coming from her cool hands.
“You have my number,” she says quietly, opening her eyes and getting into the car.
As he walks to his car, Arthur pulls his phone out again and scrolls through the contact list, looking for her name. He sees it there: Guinevere.
Part 2: link