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Fit to be tied

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“You know,” Gwaine says conversationally as Merlin sits back to admire his handiwork. “I am actually a knight of Camelot now, I’m not exactly going anywhere.”

“Well, you’re certainly not now,” Merlin says serenely, licking his lips as Gwaine flexes against the soft cloth binding his wrists to the bed frame.

Merlin’s motivations for getting him naked so quickly—which had thus far gone happily unquestioned—now become apparent. Gwaine rolls his hips up against Merlin’s straddle in an attempt to wrest back some control, but Merlin just slides off him to lie on his side instead. The bed should be far too narrow for them to be side by side, but with Gwaine’s arms tied above his head Merlin is able to slot in easily, pressing himself up close, hitching a restrictive leg over Gwaine’s thighs. The cloth of his trousers is a little rougher than the worn weave of his shirt, and Gwaine forces down the hedonistic desire to squirm around and get Merlin’s leg higher, petulantly not wanting to give Merlin the satisfaction.

Merlin smiles at Gwaine like he’s very pleased with himself anyway, and leans in for another kiss. Which may or may not be his way of intercepting Gwaine’s next drawled remark, but Gwaine finds he doesn’t care. The kiss is slower, less intense than the ones Merlin had distracted him with just a few moments ago, and Gwaine relaxes into it, the tension in his shoulders settling into a sweet ache. Merlin directs the depth and speed, his lips considering and proprietary, and Gwaine makes a small noise of surprise when the tips of Merlin’s fingers drag lightly up the underside of his half-hard cock, Merlin’s mouth not even pausing.

Merlin withdraws far enough to search Gwaine’s face as he keeps up the barely-there touch to Gwaine’s cock, their lips a hairsbreadth apart; Gwaine can feel it when Merlin smiles. His fingers drift up and down, faint but relentless, and it shouldn’t be this close to unbearable but Gwaine shivers into it, breath huffed sharp against Merlin’s mouth, wanting to pull away from the poignant tickle of it, or to grab Merlin’s hand and force him to firm the touch.

Gwaine’s arms flex against the restraint, this time involuntarily, and Merlin smirks. He draws back enough that Gwaine can only just brush a kiss against his mouth when he stretches upwards, and Gwaine strains in vain to reach the delectable angle of Merlin’s neck when Merlin turns his head to look down Gwaine’s body.

Gwaine’s cock is filling and firming rapidly under the deliberate touches, and Merlin finally wraps his hand around it, stroking up and down in a relaxed fist, his thumb rubbing the looser skin deliberately. Merlin sighs, gusty and pleased, and it rushes across Gwaine’s neck like a caress.

“Merlin,” Gwaine implores, mouth watering as he angles his head toward him. Merlin obliges, his kiss firmer to match his touch this time. His breath huffs against Gwaine’s cheek, and his mouth is deep and open as they lick back and forth.

Merlin’s thigh hitches up, rough fabric of his trousers brushing just faintly against Gwaine’s balls, and on Gwaine’s caught breath he draws away again to press his mouth against Gwaine’s jaw instead, then down to the soft angle of throat beneath it. His tongue strokes hard against Gwaine’s skin, forcing the stubble of hair back against its grain, and his mouth drifts further down to bite the corded tendon of Gwaine’s neck with sudden sharpness.

Gwaine gasps at it, hips twitching upward and Merlin’s hand squeezes, dragging out the startled surge of pleasure. He rocks his body against Gwaine’s, and Gwaine can feel the growing hardness of Merlin’s cock against his hip.

Merlin spreads his kisses further and faster, lavishing them wetly down Gwaine’s throat and to the taut strain of his shoulders and chest, lingering to give sucking bites occasionally—below his adam’s apple, the thick tendon bracketing his exposed underarm, the meat of his pectoral. The dry stroke of Merlin’s fist around his cock doesn’t stop, scraping sensitivity across Gwaine’s body that he craves more of Merlin’s mouth to soothe.

Merlin stops, and when he lifts his head again his mouth is pink and wet, face flushed. He shifts his position, propping himself up on one elbow, and pushes his knee up between Gwaine’s legs instead. Gwaine tightens the grip of his thighs, pushing against him.

“Undress,” Gwaine suggests warmly, trying to catch Merlin’s eye again, to convince him of how much of a good idea it would be if they were both naked.

“Mmm,” Merlin says distractedly. “Maybe later.” And Gwaine watches breathlessly as Merlin methodically licks his own hand before returning it to Gwaine’s cock.

The slicker touch is like a cascade of hot water washing over Gwaine’s body, the feel of Merlin’s thumb rubbing over the sensitive tip of his cock divine, and Gwaine’s head grinds back into the pillow as he gasps.

Merlin nudges Gwaine’s head to the side to worry at his earlobe, the feel of his teeth a sharp dart of pleasure that shoots down to Gwaine’s groin. Merlin hums lowly, pleased, and his hair tickles Gwaine’s temple as he looks down again. Gwaine follows his gaze, watching the confident, exploratory touch of Merlin’s hand around his cock.

Merlin’s hips roll against Gwaine’s side again, Merlin’s stiff cock still kept from him by a few layers of cursed clothing. Gwaine opens his mouth to insist that Merlin undress, but Merlin speaks first.

“You should stick around longer.” His voice is conversational and husky, and he gives a toe-curling, tight pull on Gwaine’s cock on the next stroke. “So I can get used to being fucked by your lovely big cock again.”

Merlin huffs out soft laughter when Gwaine’s cock twitches in his hand, breath hot against the shell of Gwaine’s ear, and Gwaine groans, feeling any remaining shreds of articulateness fleeing.

“Please,” he begs, the restriction of being bound suddenly far more consequential; he needs to get his hands on Merlin, he could remove Merlin’s clothes himself if he could just get his hands free.

“Not this time,” Merlin whispers into his ear, the rock of his hips steady with the rhythm of his hand, now. “It’s my turn.” His thumb presses deliberately against the slit of Gwaine’s cock, rubbing back and forth, and Gwaine makes an open-mouthed sound that nearly resembles begging. The sensation is intense, almost painful, and the pressure of it builds low in his belly, everything amplified by his lack of control. Helpless and exhilarated, he can’t keep quiet, can’t stop straining against the scarf binding his wrists.

“Shh,” Merlin says, moving lower again to take Gwaine’s nipple between his lips, stroking the flat enamel of his teeth against the little nub. Gwaine tenses as the delicate sensation clashes with the burn of his straining muscles, and Merlin rubs his hands up and down Gwaine’s sides soothingly.

When Merlin looks up at him, chin digging into Gwaine’s chest, he looks achingly soft and tousled. He smiles at Gwaine fondly, mouth and cheeks red, hair a mess. “Calm down.”

“You want me to calm down,” Gwaine states. “Really?” He twists his wrists in their restraints pointedly. “I think you might be going about it the wrong way.”

Merlin laughs softly—infuriatingly and reassuringly mellow about the whole thing—and rises to straddle Gwaine again, resting his weight on the tops of Gwaine’s thighs. He strokes Gwaine’s chest, his sides; he leans forward to dig his fingers into Gwaine’s underarms, and then slide the flat of his palms along the soft skin all the way up Gwaine’s wrists. He stops there, his grip squeezing around the scarf.

“Yes,” Merlin murmurs, eyes dark and amused and very close to Gwaine’s. “You can’t lose it just yet.” He kisses Gwaine lightly, then lets go to reach for something beyond the bed. This time when he leans over his bare throat is close enough for Gwaine to lick, even distracted as he is by the brush of Merlin’s clothes against his cock. The particular flavour of Merlin’s skin and sweat is enough for Gwaine to exert some focus beyond the fog of his own desperate arousal; Merlin tastes refreshingly of himself, and his low laughter buzzes against Gwaine’s tongue.

When Merlin leans back again he’s holding a small dark-glassed jar, and it’s cold against Gwaine’s skin when Merlin shuffles back and rearranges Gwaine’s limbs. When he settles on his heels, Gwaine’s thighs are splayed open in his lap, hips tipped upwards.

Merlin unstoppers the jar and sniffs it absently, then pours a considerable volume of its contents onto the exposed base of Gwaine’s cock. Gwaine curses aloud in shock—it’s cold—and has barely a moment to recover before Merlin’s hands are back on him, palms spreading the oil up the underside of his cock and smearing it across his belly. The excess has run down over his balls and into the crease of his arse, and when Merlin has thoroughly coated his cock, he holds it in one fist while with gentler fingers he rubs down the trail of it, touch firm but not penetrating, though Gwaine groans hopefully and pushes back against it.

Merlin turns a reproachful eye on him at the noise, but Gwaine can’t take the look very seriously with the way Merlin’s hand has started to move slickly on his cock. Then it’s even harder to keep quiet—though, to be honest, Gwaine’s not exactly trying—when Merlin turns his full attention back to it, screwing his fist around the shaft with tight, deliberate pulls. Gwaine’s body rolls up into it, the angle of his hips against Merlin’s thighs emphasising the growing ache in his lower back. It matches the tense pull of his shoulders, and his spine feels charged with the connection.

Gwaine tries to keep his head up to watch, but his neck loses the strength to when Merlin doubles his touch. Hand over hand, he strokes Gwaine’s cock up and up, fists twisting around the slippery skin one after the other, squeezing a little tighter at the base and skimming over the head. It’s relentless and divine, even the wet sounds fuelling the sudden tumbling momentum of Gwaine’s building climax. His voice is raw in his throat, mouth wide open as he tips his head back on the bed, spine arching—

And Merlin stops. His fist grasps tightly, warmly just around the head of Gwaine’s cock, then slips down to squeeze the base.

“Merlin, Merlin,” Gwaine moans desperately, pushing his hips into Merlin’s hold, trying to get him to move again; to restart that overwhelming, constant stroke that was well on the way to pulling Gwaine’s soul from his body and depositing it in Merlin’s hands.

“You need to be quiet,” Merlin says, voice low and intent, but his thumb is stroking against the fat vein on the underside of Gwaine’s cock like he’s encouraging Gwaine to disobey.

Which Gwaine is only too happy to oblige, of course, twisting his wrists and tensing all the muscles that ache from being held in the position Merlin’s put him in. “You need to hurry up and fuck me,” he suggests hoarsely, voice stripped of composure.

Merlin’s hands leave Gwaine’s cock to grab his thighs instead, and Gwaine’s breath hitches when Merlin yanks him forward, tightening the forced stretch of his body and spreading his legs wider. When Merlin leans forward, Gwaine can feel the press of his cock against his inner thigh. Even through the Merlin’s clothes—still—its heat and hardness make Gwaine squirm in anticipation, a happy rumble purring in his chest.

“Hush,” Merlin whispers, though his mouth is curled in a private smile. In his hands he’s twisting another square of cloth, once-bright colour faded into something very familiar.

“How many of those have you got?

“As many as I need,” Merlin answers primly, not looking at him, and Gwaine laughs. Tied to Merlin’s bed, Merlin’s hips splaying his legs wide open, and Merlin warm and proud and playful above him, he feels a wave of comfortableness—he’d be perfectly happy to stay here forever.

The feeling evolves into something else, though, when Merlin holds the scarf out. He’s twisted it into a cord, held taut between his his hands. “Open your mouth,” Merlin says soberly, watching him closely.

It’s an opportunity for Gwaine to turn him down, and Gwaine recognises it as such, but he’s already anticipating the texture of it against his tongue, the tense resistance between his teeth. He opens, and Merlin lowers the bulkiest part of it into his mouth, hands reaching around. Gwaine lifts his head up for Merlin to tie the scarf at the back, not so tight that it saws the delicate corners of Gwaine’s mouth, but definitely tight enough that he can feel it there, and not so loose that he can move it with his mouth.

Merlin’s breath is quick when he draws back, and he searches Gwaine’s face intently, his eyes dark, black encircled by just a thin ring of blue. He strokes the hair off Gwaine’s temple with a gentleness that contrasts the position he’s got Gwaine in, and Gwaine pushes into the touch and makes a muffled sound against the gag.

“Quiet,” Merlin murmurs almost absently, his gaze shifting to watch as he touches fingertips against the stretched corners of Gwaine’s lips.

Pointedly, Gwaine folds his legs up to squeeze Merlin’s sides with his knees, and then digs his heels into Merlin’s lower back. Merlin laughs—loudly enough for Gwaine to give him a glare at the injustice—and then he moves back again. Instead of getting on with the business of fucking Gwaine, he sits back and folds his legs, though he does settle Gwaine’s hips back in his lap. He pours more oil onto his hands and begins to stroke Gwaine’s cock again—not with the dizzying, endless pulls of before, but more lingering touches: circling the tip with his thumb and pressing against it to see how much the flesh yields, tracing the ridges of the stiff shaft, sliding a tight ring of his fingers up to watch Gwaine’s foreskin sheath all but the tip of his cock.

Gwaine swallows dryly around the hard twist of cloth, sweat prickling anew across his body as he struggles to keep his hips still for Merlin’s play. And he succeeds, mainly, sinking into the anticipation of each new touch, concentrating on getting deep enough breaths through the gag.

“You really are quite magnificent,” Merlin says at length, sounding confessional, not looking up from his contemplation. He presses his hand down around the base of Gwaine’s cock, encircled with finger and thumb. Gwaine’s balls throb under the flat of his palm, and Merlin seems to take a moment to just admire the length of him, hard and red and gleaming with oil. Gwaine’s done it himself enough times, but it’s never got the flush of warmth that Merlin’s acknowledgement brings: perhaps it’s the product of praise, rather than pride.

Merlin rubs both hands along Gwaine’s splayed thighs, and bends at the waist, leaning in to kiss his cock teasingly briefly. The disappointment of his mouth not lingering only lasts a moment, though, because Merlin’s fingers are finally at Gwaine’s arse, rubbing at his hole and then pressing, easing in.

“Of course,” Merlin says, as Gwaine huffs around the gag. “That’s one of the things that makes fucking you so good.” Two fingers in Gwaine, Merlin’s knobbly knuckles stretching him at the opening, twisting there before Gwaine coaxes him in further, as far as he can go. Merlin’s voice drops to a heated whisper. “That I get to take such a man.”

Merlin leans down to kiss the inside of his thigh, his hot mouth just as inflaming as his words, and then shuffles up onto his knees again, still curled over. He hitches Gwaine’s legs higher, and Gwaine spreads them wide, pushes his hips up to Merlin’s face, showing his compliance; in response Merlin bites him, nipping the tender skin high on Gwaine’s thigh and pushing another finger into him. It aches—the stretch of it and the friction, the oil all but rubbed in—and Gwaine tightens around Merlin’s fingers, making another noise in his throat at the drag of skin when Merlin withdraws.

Abruptly, Merlin seems to feel the same urgency he’s been stoking in Gwaine all along, and Gwaine finds himself panting in anticipation when Merlin finally, finally unknots his own trousers, shoving them out of the way only enough to draw his cock out. He fists it quickly, hand wet with fresh oil, and Gwaine cranes his head to watch the slick slide of it, every detail apparent to his eyes with the lack of ability to touch like he craves. His arse clenches with want for it, and Merlin’s newly wet fingers touch him there as if to both soothe and praise.

Merlin kneels forward, hands slipping on Gwaine’s hips before he manages to haul Gwaine higher in his lap, and then he rubs the tip of his cock against Gwaine’s opening, nudging forward—

He stops. Gwaine draws breath to make a noise of protest, but withholds it when he sees the look on Merlin’s face. It’s not teasing, but tense, and then Gwaine hears what caused it: the creak of the door to Gaius’ chambers, and the shuffle of footsteps across the stone floor.

Trussed up and helpless, it would be impossible for Gwaine to get out of the situation quick enough to preserve dignity. Rather than send him into panic, it makes his hips twitch up, the movement causing the tip of Merlin’s cock to press firmer against the yield of his body. Completely involuntary, Gwaine hitches out a moan, muffled but still audible behind the gag.

Merlin’s hand slaps onto Gwaine’s taut belly, pressing down as if to restrain him even while Merlin’s hips jolt forward. The head of his cock breaches Gwaine before he pulls back again—

“Merlin?” Gaius’ voice rises in query, and then closer: “Are you in there?”

Merlin’s head jerks around and the bar on the door slams down of its own accord, the sound of it whipcrack-loud in the room, and just as quickly he’s looking back at Gwaine, tint of gold fading from his eyes.

Gwaine stops breathing, certain his expression is as shocked as Merlin’s as they stare at each other.

The footsteps pause outside the door. “Merlin?” Gaius’ tone is somewhere between concerned and suspicious.

“Privacy,” Merlin chokes out in a half-shout, not looking away from Gwaine. “Please!”

“Oh,” Gaius says. “Oh.”

Even as Gwaine hears him move away Merlin seems to tense more than relax, his expression of shock shifting rapidly from panic into devastation. Gwaine’s heart skips and then thunders rapidly as if it had stopped earlier and is now striving to catch up; his chest heaves as he struggles to take in enough air.

Merlin moves his hands away from where their bodies are poised to join, instead bracing them on the bed on either side of Gwaine’s chest. When he begins to draw back Gwaine makes an automatic noise of protest that somehow has Merlin flinching, dropping his gaze. Gwaine strains against his bonds, suddenly fearing that Merlin’s about to flee, to leave while Gwaine’s still gagged let alone tied, not even letting him speak his reassurance—

Gwaine glares in rejection of the gesture when Merlin holds both hands up as if to show he’s unarmed, and when Merlin bites his lip and reaches for Gwaine’s wrists with slow, careful movements, Gwaine shakes his head. Merlin pauses and frowns, hesitant; when he reaches again Gwaine grunts out wordless dissuasion, shaking his head harder.

Merlin draws back far enough to look at him, and the uncertainty on his face makes Gwaine long to grab him and fold him in close. He doesn’t want Merlin to untie him, though—he really, really doesn’t—so instead he wraps his legs around Merlin’s hips.

Merlin looks startled—not quite as much as he did when he used magic to bar the door, mind you—but this time it’s edged with hopefulness. His hands rest tentatively on Gwaine’s shoulders. “Do you want me to untie you?” he asks, voice soft and raw.

Gwaine just wishes Merlin would look at his cock again: it’s still hard, if anything harder than ever. Because it’s one thing to know that Merlin has him at his mercy. But to discover that the man directing his pleasure wields power so far beyond that of knots and self-restraint… It’s as if Gwaine’s accepted a knighthood and been given a kingdom.

He shakes his head again, slow and definite, then tips his head back to show his throat to Merlin, and pushes up to rub his cock against Merlin’s belly.

Merlin falls upon him, kissing Gwaine’s lips around the gag, and Gwaine’s jaw, and his cheeks and eyelids and chin. He presses himself down hard on Gwaine’s body—sending sharp twinges through muscles already long-held in strain—and pants relief into the nook of Gwaine’s neck and shoulder.

“Gwaine,” Merlin says gratefully, voice uneven, and then his hands are gripping around Gwaine’s hips and lifting him up again, no teasing this time: he pushes his cock into Gwaine’s arse smoothly and without pause.

Gwaine grunts low in his throat and arches up to meet him, Merlin’s cock opening him up and holding him wide, and Gwaine can revels in every sleek inch of him as he draws out then drives back in. He can feel it up his spine, pushing voice up through his throat, noises that catch and soak into the sodden scarf between his teeth. Merlin leans in to kiss him again, tongue soothing on the dry sting of Gwaine’s lower lip, breathing hotly into Gwaine’s mouth around the gag. He grips the backs of Gwaine’s knees and pushes, folding Gwaine’s legs up against his chest, and the stretch pulls a deep ache from Gwaine’s thighs when Merlin holds them down with his weight.

Gwaine is knotted and contorted, pinned and tied and held still by Merlin’s body; it feels like every muscle in his body is aware of Merlin’s power over it, and it’s intoxicating. He throws his head back and Merlin’s mouth finds his throat, rough and eager, matching the intensity of the deep, quick drive of his cock. Gwaine tightens the grip of his arse around it—loving how it feels, thicker and harder when it’s fucking him than when it’s in his hand or mouth—and Merlin gasps, rhythm broken. His grip tightens, forcing Gwaine’s legs back and apart until it hurts.

Merlin pants against Gwaine’s cheek as he finds a quicker beat to fuck to; the weight and strength of him infusing Gwaine’s body with a building ache from his raw wrists to the forced stretch of his arse. Merlin tugs on the gag with his teeth, and when it doesn’t yield he drags his mouth further back; his lips press against the shell of Gwaine’s ear, then he whispers breathless words that Gwaine doesn’t understand. The gag loosens abruptly and Merlin pulls it away easily.

Moments later Merlin’s mouth is on his again, soothing with his own saliva before Gwaine has a chance to, his tongue hot and smooth against Gwaine’s lips and tongue. Gwaine grunts and kisses back, licking deep and desperate to try and wrench himself further from passivity with Merlin so close to the edge. Gwaine closes his teeth around Merlin’s lower lip, lashing the plump flesh with his tongue, at the same time he shoves his hips up against the force of Merlin’s fuck, clenching firm.

Merlin’s thrusts stutter and push deep, and Gwaine makes an approving noise low in his throat, letting Merlin’s lip drag from his teeth. He can feel the heat of Merlin’s seed spilling within him, the new slickness magnifying the throb of Merlin’s cock. Their mouths part, Merlin’s head dropping to Gwaine’s chest, his face wet and breath rapid against Gwaine’s skin, gasping audibly even as the coiled tension of his back and shoulders unravels and falls away.

Gwaine turns his head to mouth at Merlin’s sweat-sodden hair, his own chest heaving, and as Merlin relaxes Gwaine’s legs slip from his shoulders to plant his feet flat on the bed instead. Gwaine’s still hard, his cock pressed between their bellies, but he closes his eyes and focuses instead the wet spread of Merlin’s climax, easing the movement of Merlin’s cock still in him as Merlin breathes and settles.

After a little while, Merlin lifts his head again, and when Gwaine opens his eyes Merlin moves his hips more deliberately, watching him. Gwaine’s toes curl at the sensation, and he can’t help but arch up into it. Even with the gag gone, all his words have run out, leaving just the apt response of his body to Merlin’s questioning.

“I had planned to come on you,” Merlin whispers, soft and intimate, seeming to suffer no such aphasia. “But I couldn’t stop.” He angles up again, hands curled under Gwaine’s bunched biceps. His mouth purses in a rueful smile. “You kiss too well.” He lowers his mouth Gwaine’s again, the kiss brief, but liquid and sleek.

Gwaine huffs in amusement, and he’s looking up into Merlin’s eyes when they flare briefly gold again. There’s sudden lack of resistance in the pull of Gwaine’s wrists, though when he begins to lower them he finds that they’re still tied together, just not tied to the bed any more. He hisses in pain halfway through the movement, and Merlin hushes and guides him with his own hands, looping Gwaine’s arms around him.

“Merlin,” Gwaine breathes. His entire body feels antagonised to the precipice of bearable sensitivity, as if releasing him from the bed frame has emptied the last stores of patience as well. “Please.

Merlin shifts off him and onto his side, reaching down to ease his cock out of Gwaine. Gwaine’s arms are still around him, so the change in position half-twists Gwaine toward him, even as he holds Gwaine’s lower body down with a leg thrown over Gwaine’s thighs again. They tremble under the weight this time, nearly as sore from being held and forced and stretched as his arms are.

Merlin’s hands are gentle and soothing as they stroke over him, shoulders and chest and back and belly. Merlin’s a sorcerer, Gwaine’s mind whispers to him as he watches the beautiful lines of Merlin’s hands. It floats clearly to the surface of his awareness, as if his prolonged arousal has simmered long enough to steam away the cacophony of desperate lust.

Merlin’s a sorcerer. He can’t consider it abstractly, the truth of it is too immediate: he feels comfortably raw, as if he’s been held naked in this tiny bed for far longer than he can conceive of, pressed close to Merlin’s body like they’ve never been apart. When Merlin’s hand closes around Gwaine’s cock, it’s just the final braiding together of all the other threads of stimulation—the rough friction of cloth against his bare skin, the musky smell of sex that stirs when their bodies move, the feel of Merlin’s breath and heart a constant beat against the surface of Gwaine’s body.

Merlin’s gentle touch coaxes the climax out of Gwaine like he hasn’t been on the edge for what feels like forever. Though the promise of it had grown tremendous, it flows out of Gwaine with the quiet intensity of surrender, making him gasp and tense, then shake weakly in the aftermath, wrung out. Merlin kisses the corners of Gwaine’s mouth as Gwaine struggles to regain his breath, stroking Gwaine’s seed onto his belly, the thick scent of it filling the air.

“Untie me,” Gwaine says at last, his voice painful in his throat, and almost immediately the final restraint around his wrists loosens and slithers away.

He wraps his freed arms around Merlin’s shoulders, groaning at the persistent ache, and finally gets off his back and onto his side. They lie face to face, and Gwaine can’t help but smile, though even that hurts a little in the abraded corners of his mouth, because Merlin’s still completely dressed.

The last of the tension around Merlin’s eyes falls away, and he smiles hesitantly back. “Thank you.”

“You’d better be grateful,” Gwaine drawls teasingly. “I’m going to be feeling that for a week.”

“No, I mean—” Merlin blushes, and they’re close enough that the movement of ducking his head just presses their foreheads together. “Thank you.”

Gwaine squeezes him closer. “Not the first sorcerer I’ve had a tumble with,” he whispers secretively, and it snaps Merlin’s interested gaze back to him quickly. Gwaine curls his lips in a suggestive smirk. “I once knew a witch who had some wonderful uses for magic, let me tell you.”

Merlin searches his gaze. “Will you stick around to teach me them?” He asks, lips pursing slyly as he presses a little closer.

Gwaine laughs, though he only has the energy for a few pleased, quiet huffs of it. “Not sure I could teach,” he says. “But I could help you learn.”

“Your turn next time, then,” Merlin says generously, and Gwaine ignores the ache of his muscles to roll him over and pin him. They ought to topple off the bed in the process, but somehow don’t; it may have grown a little wider without Gwaine noticing.