“Why are you sitting on your own, Perceval?” asked Arthur smiling.
The prince and his knights have travelled the whole day to be in the kingdom of Camelot at nightfall, Mercia may be an ally now but you never felt safer than in your own home.
Perceval had just joined Camelot’s cavalry as a knight. He was a young man, silent, shy and respectful. Arthur knew him for a few months now but the knight has always been careful around him, never looked him in the eyes. He was so tall that Arthur has to lift up his head to talk to him, which was kind of embarrassing.
Perceval looked-down as he always did.
“It’s because of the others” he answered barely audible “When we’re sitting together by the fire, they always mock me”
Arthur stayed silent for a moment. Sure, he had heard his knights teased Perceval but they’ve never been mean to him, they’re just joking. He wouldn’t have tolerated it otherwise.
“You mean, because of the girls’ stories?” he asked trying to find the best way to talk to Perceval.
“You do know they don’t mean to be bad to you, they’re only teasing you. No knights in Camelot would bad-talk about a brother-in-arms” added Arthur searching for Perceval eyes that remained cast down.
He nodded once again.
The boy was really shy and easily shaken.
“It’s just…” Perceval whispered “It is embarrassing to be the only virgin”
He was now blushing as a maiden. Arthur had to smile at the picture.
Perceval was a really handsome young man and Arthur was pretty sure that a lot of women certainly proposed to him but everybody knew by now that Perceval was waiting for his true love.
“You don’t have to be embarrassed, Percy” he gently smiled at him, his hand resting on his knee “There is nothing wrong or shameful to wait for the one you love”
Perceval barely cast a glance at him as if to be sure the prince wasn’t teasing him too.
“It’s so hard” Perceval added in a desperate whisper.
“To find true love?” answered Arthur “It is. That’s why it’s so precious”
“No…” answered Perceval looking Arthur in the eyes for the very first time.
“What’s hard, is knowing that this love will always be the only one, that it is the only thing that makes you go on, that it is the only thing that matters, that you couldn’t breathe without it, that you would die for it”
Arthur stared at Perceval now uncomfortable.
Those eyes were full of sincerity and hurt, pain and love.
“What hurts the most is knowing that you’ll never been loved in return, that you can only look at your sun but never try to touch it because it’d burn”
“Perceval” whispered Arthur fully aware of what was happening.
It was the very first time in his life that a man was confessing to him and he was deeply moved. He wasn’t indifferent to the young man, who could be, but he couldn’t reciprocate.
His true love was sitting at the other side of the camp, looking at him, looking at them, knowing what was happening. He couldn’t do anything though because a servant didn’t disturb his master when he was talking to a knight. Yet, Merlin never used to respect those kinds of things so why would he now? Because Arthur was the one who have to explain to Perceval, he is the one who has to reject this pure love.
“You don’t have to say anything, my Lord” smiled gently Perceval “I’ll always be yours whatever”
Arthur’s heart broke. A knight shouldn’t love his prince in that way.
“Goodnight, Perceval” he said decided to sleep over this confession.
Later, when he was lying in his bed tortured by Perceval’s words, Merlin entered his tent. He wasn’t alone; Perceval was standing next to him.
“I shouldn’t be here” he whispered, embarrassed.
Merlin gently shushed him, kissing those full lips. Arthur has never seen anything more beautiful. Merlin’s hands, talented and accustom, slowly undressed Perceval, caressing the strong muscles and the untouched skin.
“Come here” whispered Merlin to Arthur.
Merlin has always had a good heart. Arthur knew Merlin was doing that to help a friend, to please Arthur.
“I love you” said Arthur before hungrily kissing Merlin in front of Perceval, admitting his feelings aloud for the very first time.
Merlin melted into the kiss, his shaking fingers lost in his hair.
Arthur wrapped on arm around Merlin’s waist, the other gently rubbed Perceval’s jaw before kissing those swollen lips.
“I love you too” whispered Merlin to his ear.
It wasn’t dawn yet when Perceval decided to leave the prince’s tent.
Arthur is fast asleep, tired and over-loved, an arm possessively wrapped around Merlin’s slender frame.
Perceval took his other hand and lovingly kissed it, tasting once again Arthur’s skin, smelling his smell for the last time.
He looked at Merlin. He hadn’t slept at all. Now his big blue eyes looked at him, tired but not resentful.
“Thank you, Merlin” Perceval whispered.
For one night Merlin has given him what he thought he’d never have, he has embraced the sun, has been warmed up by his rays without burning.
Merlin didn’t answer. Perceval didn’t hold it against him, Merlin have done so much already he couldn’t certainly answered a “you’re welcome” when he had to share the man he loves with another.Perceval gently kissed Merlin’s hand as he had Arthur’s before leaving the tent, before leaving the man he loved, his prince, with the man who would always care for him.
Perceval would never have his prince, his love, again but he could live with that beautiful memory, with the warmth his sun gave him.