Arthur was a sound sleeper, at least when he wasn't on campaigns. Merlin had noticed when he'd sneaked into Arthur's chambers one night. Arthur hadn't stirred. He'd slept on as Merlin stood frozen by the bed, staring. That first time, Merlin had been on a completely legitimate errand, searching for the jacket he'd left there, earlier in the day.
But there had been a second, and a third time. He'd told himself that he was keeping watch, that he was guarding Arthur against some undefined evil. Hadn't the dragon told him to guard Arthur?
He had touched Arthur the next time, telling himself he did it because Arthur had frowned in his sleep, unsettled by a bad dream. So Merlin had sat down at his bedside, letting a trembling hand slip through Arthur's silky hair. Arthur had been warm, his hair slightly moist at the temples.
Arthur smelled good, Merlin learned when he'd leaned over him to sniff at his nape. Daytime Arthur smelled sharp and keen, of grass and leather and horses and metal. This Arthur had smelled sweet. He had smelled soft, giving. He had moaned in his sleep, and Merlin had stroked his hair, gentling him back into a deeper slumber.
Merlin grew used to it, to kissing Arthur's nape and his shoulders, whispering soothing words into Arthur's ear. He liked to think that Arthur slept better like that.
And then there was a heat wave. It had been very warm for a fortnight, and Arthur lay naked in his bed. He'd kicked off his sheet, but he was still warm, faintly sweaty. He was frowning, perhaps thrown into uneasy dreams by the oppressive heat.
Merlin wanted nothing else than to comfort him, sooth and cool him. He licked a long stripe, from between Arthur's shoulder blades to his nape. He repeated it, laving Arthur with his tongue, cooling him down. It seemed to work, as Arthur made a soft, moaning sound, and relaxed further.
He tasted wonderful. Merlin couldn't even begin to describe the taste and smell of Arthur's sleeping skin; warm, clean, fresh. He thought of clay being fired, of wood ash, of milk and the crust of freshly baked bread. It was all of that, and nothing. It was elusive. It was addictive.
Merlin licked further down, tracing Arthur's back and the valley of his spine, mapping the fine texture of Arthur's skin. When he first kissed the delicate dimples just above the swell of Arthur's backside, he had to swallow down a moan. It was smooth and warm, like a cliff hollowed out by the sea.
He let his tongue go further, to play along the cleft of Arthur's arse. His heart was racing now, his cock was painfully hard and shamefully wet. He followed the cleft, pressing kisses to it. He wanted to bury his face there, in this secret place where Arthur was musky and ripe with taste, but he didn't dare to, fearing that Arthur would wake. Arthur didn't, but his body tensed at the touch, and then he parted his legs further, sleepily arranging himself for Merlin's pleasure. Merlin worshipped him until the sky began to grey and the first birds of morning started to sing. Only then did he sneak back to his own bed.
It was almost a week before Merlin returned. He had vowed to stay away, shocked at himself and what he had done. But he couldn't resist. It didn't help at all that the heat had made Arthur walk around practically naked in his chambers in the evenings. On the night that Arthur dropped an apple and spent a good, long while searching for it under his bed; his pert bottom raised indecently, Merlin gave in.
He stopped feeling guilty when he saw Arthur sprawled in sleep. He was lying on his stomach, naked, his legs parted. Surely he wouldn't sleep like that if he didn't want... Merlin shook his head. This night, he lay down at Arthur's side, burrowing his face close into Arthur's neck. He smelled so good. Merlin sighed, and his hand wandered, almost on its own, down along Arthur’s strong back.
"You're lovely," Merlin breathed. "My sweet, beautiful prince." The words made him blush, but he couldn't stop himself. He continued whispering sweet nothings as he touched Arthur.
He realised that his fingers had found their way in between Arthur's generous arse cheeks when he felt soft hair and a perfect pucker of moist, silky skin. Merlin gasped, then traced it again. There was the hidden, private little core of Arthur's body, a delicate rosebud, all relaxed and trusting under Merlin's roaming fingers.
Arthur sighed in his sleep, parting his legs further. That was all the invitation Merlin needed. He moved in close, close to Arthur, almost draping himself over him. Lying on his side, with his head pillowed on his arm and the hand of his free arm playing with Arthur's puckered little bud, Merlin felt almost at ease. It didn't feel wrong. He wasn't harming Arthur, he'd done this to himself and knew that it felt good. He kissed the back of Arthur's head, hid his face in Arthur's hair and tried not to think.
Arthur continued sleeping naked even when autumn came. He demanded to have his bed piled with thick covers and that was that. No more sleep pants. No more nightshirts. Merlin resisted the urge to set fire to the offending, and no longer needed, garments, and gave them to the cook's grandson instead.
Arthur was the king in all but name now, his father a shadow of his former self, locked away in his chambers. During daytime, Arthur bore his burden with quiet dignity, but in the night, he was sometimes plagued by bad dreams. Merlin knew, because he was often there. He crept in at Arthur's side, and Arthur curled into him, the little spoon to Merlin's big spoon. Arthur's bad dreams went away like that, when he slept in Merlin's arms.
Merlin whispered the things he never said in daytime: that he was proud, that Arthur would make a fine king, that he was just and good and kind and beautiful. He kissed the words into Arthur's neck, licked and sucked them into Arthur's pulse point and the sharp edge of his jaw. Arthur was always relaxed and pliant in Merlin's embrace. His opening was soft and trusting under Merlin's fingers. Arthur seemed to like it when Merlin used his fingers to make love to him. He pushed back a little at first, and then he lay there, smiling in his sleep as Merlin's spit-wet fingers curled and circled and pushed.
This night was no different. It was cold now, the first snow could come any day. Merlin snuggled into Arthur gratefully, always happy for Arthur's intense warmth. Arthur turned on his side slowly, almost rolling into Merlin's arms. He made a sound deep in his throat.
"I'm here now," Merlin whispered. "I'll take care of you." He leaned over, kissed Arthur's cheek in an unusually brave display. Arthur was stubbly and hot and wonderful. He moaned at Merlin's kiss: a deep, happy sound. But he seemed to want more, if the wiggling of his amply rounded arse was to be believed.
Merlin chuckled. "Mmm. Wanton. Don't worry. You'll get a nice finger or two up your fine arse." He sucked at his fingers, but then Arthur whimpered, and Merlin gave up. He put the fingers, already wet from his own mouth, to Arthur's lips. Arthur swallowed them greedily, suckling Merlin's spit from them, only to replace it with his own.
Merlin was always hard when he was in bed with Arthur, but this time he almost embarrassed himself. Arthur sucked as if he'd been born to do it. He gorged himself on Merlin's fingers like he would have done with a cock. The thought of Arthur - whose sexual experiences, as far as Merlin knew, was limited to kisses with perhaps a handful of women - sucking on a man's cock, was shocking.
Merlin pulled his hand away, leaving Arthur's tempting, gaping, shameless mouth and buried down between their bodies until he found what he was looking for. Arthur was moist already, always a little sweaty there. Merlin's spit-slick fingers slipped into the welcoming sheath of Arthur's body as easy as if it had been a girl's wet, loving cunt.
"You're wet for me," Merlin whispered, awed as usual as Arthur's pucker clung to his fingers, like it wanted to keep them there. "You want me inside you."
Arthur hummed sleepily, shifted his hips, his hungry hole taking Merlin's fingers all the way.
Merlin kissed Arthur's shoulder as he fingered Arthur deep and slow, just as Arthur seemed to like it. When Arthur's body tensed, Merlin feared that he was doing something wrong. He stopped, only to realise that Arthur was fisting his own cock, milking it with quick, irreverent movements.
The sudden rush of lust made Merlin lose his breath, as if he'd been punched in the gut. He held Arthur closer, pushed a third finger into the clenching, oppressive heat of Arthur's hole. Arthur spent himself with a wet gulp, as if he'd almost choked on his own saliva. He clutched at Merlin's fingers, spasming around them as his peak died down. Merlin pulled his fingers out slowly, his cock so hard it hurt. He traced the rim longingly, feeling Arthur's swollen, pleasured pout before he sat up, ready to leave.
He would have, but Arthur turned, came to lie on his back. Suddenly, Merlin could smell Arthur's seed from under the covers. He was there before he knew what he was doing, licking the precious it from Arthur's limp cock and his belly and even the sheets. He spent himself while doing it, wetting his smalls.
As winter came, it became usual for Arthur to climax as Merlin fingered him. At first, he would touch himself, but as Merlin's fingers grew cleverer and Arthur's body adapted to it, he came untouched. Merlin spent himself while rutting into Arthur's back and arse, always in his clothes.
It was a few weeks past midwinter when the laces of Merlin's trousers gave in. The trousers were old and worn, and it was only to be expected. Merlin didn't notice, not until he felt the softness of of the furry hair in Arthur's cleft against his own, sticky cock. The shock almost made him come, and a small spurt of wetness leaked out to mix with the sweat and spit already making Arthur's private place so moist and welcoming. Merlin stopped, knowing that he would spend himself all over Arthur's arse if he moved. His fingers stilled inside Arthur, making Arthur grunt in disappointment.
"I can't," Merlin whispered. He'd heard that some men did these things to each other, but surely it wasn't really possible? But he wanted it to be possible. Oh, he wanted it so much.
Arthur wriggled back against him, begging wordlessly. Merlin closed his eyes. He resisted the temptation for a long, long while. And then Arthur moved again, and Merlin let his fingers slip out and pressed the head of his cock in their place. He stayed still, with just the tip impossibly buried inside Arthur. It would have been beyond him to stay like that for long. The moment ended when Arthur suddenly clenched and spent himself. At the rippling of the muscle, Merlin spilled too, his warm emission spurting into another's body for the first time in his life.
He licked Arthur clean before he left, as he always did. Only this time, he licked Arthur's backside too, gently sucking at the puffy skin, pushing his tongue as far in as it would go, ensuring that none of his seed was left inside.
Arthur made these raspy, sobbing sounds as his hole was thoroughly cleaned, and Merlin almost spent himself again.
When Merlin returned the next night, there was a candle still burning at Arthur's bedside. The light made Arthur look even lovelier than usual. As Merlin sat down to remove his outer garments, he noticed a small vial of oil next to the candle. It seemed to be the sort that was used to rub sore muscles. Had Arthur stretched something? Well, Merlin would just have to ask him in the morning. He slipped in, and Arthur settled in his arms.
Merlin felt hungrier this night than he had for a long time. The memory of Arthur's heat around his cock was still vivid. He kissed Arthur's neck, tasting him. Before long he'd made Arthur suckle his fingers for him and inserted them into Arthur's opening. He fingered Arthur slow, but enthusiastically, feeling Arthur's already relaxed muscle open further, until it was more slackened and welcoming than Merlin had ever known it to be. Merlin loved it like that. Loved having Arthur so relaxed and pleased and generous in his arms.
In the end he couldn't help himself. "I wish you would let me love you," he said quietly, safe in the knowledge that Arthur couldn't hear him. "I've only ever... There was a girl and we... But I didn't spend inside her, because we were afraid that..." he blushed at the thought, then burrowed closer to Arthur. "I wish you would let me."
As if in reply, Arthur moved against him, rubbing himself against Merlin. Merlin swallowed.
"Oh, just a little, then. I'll just put the tip inside. You're so soft and open, it won't hurt, won't it?"
As he said the words, he remembered the vial of oil. What a stroke of luck! He disentangled himself from Arthur. He removed his clothes, then fetched the vial and poured some of the oil over his fingers. It was rich and slick, smelling sweetly of some soothing herb. He smeared it into Arthur's body, relishing how wet it made him. He oiled his prick next, before aligning their bodies.
He didn't get to push inside Arthur, because Arthur pushed first. Merlin's cock slid in as far as it would go, which wasn't all the way, not in this position. It was still wonderful. They rocked gently against each other in the faint light of the candle, until they both peaked, almost at the same time.
Merlin almost fell asleep afterwards, but remembered himself and cleaned them both up as best as he could, before pressing a kiss to Arthur's mouth and leaving.
He was surprised to find the candle burning again on the next night. He really needed to talk to Arthur about that. It wouldn't do to have the castle burn down simply because Arthur had grown careless. He resisted putting it out already. It was nice to be able to look at Arthur, even if it only was in the dim light of a candle. The vial of oil was still there, too. Merlin was glad for it. He had longed for this all day. All he wanted was to be inside Arthur again, to be able to share the lazy intimacy he'd never shared with anyone before.
He stripped and burrowed in at Arthur's side. While he played with Arthur's opening, he was already wondering if there was some other way to make love to another man. When he'd lain with Freya, down in the cellars, she'd been on her back and he'd been on top of her. He wondered whether it could be done like that with a man. He figured it could.
He kissed the side of Arthur's neck. Arthur smiled. He arched his back, and his round backside came even closer.
"You want me inside?" Merlin whispered. "My cock inside your little hole?"
When Arthur pushed back, Merlin laughed. He sat up, fetched the vial of oil. And then the vial slipped from his hand and fell down on Arthur's shoulder. Merlin didn't even have the wits to stop time. He just froze, as Arthur jerked and opened his eyes.
"Merlin!" he exclaimed. "Clumsy idiot," he added and touched his shoulder. As Merlin stared down at him, he realised that Arthur was looking at him, through heavily lidded eyes.
"I'm sorry," Merlin managed.
Arthur blushed, but he still hadn't threaten to have Merlin executed or some such thing.
"You should be, " Arthur said. His voice was raspy from sleep, and he had closed his eyes again.
Merlin was silent for a long while, before he said, "Well, I should go then."
Arthur turned round at that, so that he was lying on his back. His eyes were still closed.
"What if I didn't wake up," he said. His voice was calm, sleepy. "What would you have done?"
Merlin swallowed. "I..." He didn't know what to say.
"What if I'm asleep now? What if I'm dreaming again? I usually dream about being held, about having my arse fondled and my neck kissed. And when I wake up, I feel so relaxed. Even my arse is relaxed. Lately, it's always a little swollen in the morning, and I'm a bit sore, but good sore, like your muscles feel after training." He spoke slowly, and it was almost as if he was dreaming, as if he was talking in his sleep.
"Do you like the dreams?" Merlin asked.
Arthur smiled. "I think about them as I touch myself during the day..." he said, and that was what made Merlin give up.
"I could... I mean, we could. I mean, you could just lie on your back and dream. Do you want that?"
Arthur didn't answer, instead he kicked off the covers, so that all of his naked glory was revealed. He parted his legs and smiled, opening his eyes a fraction before closing them again.
Merlin hurried to slick himself up before he did the same for Arthur, who was already nice and open and relaxed. All of him was slack, letting Merlin arrange him as if he'd been a rag doll. Eventually they settled with Arthur bent almost double, with Merlin over him. Only as he came did Arthur open his eyes, dragging Merlin with him.
"Stay the night," Arthur said, his voice brimmed with content, as Merlin's heart slowed down to normal again. Their bodies were still joined.
"No," Arthur interrupted. "Just clean us up and stay, yes? We'll talk in the morning. Now that I've bedded you properly, I would like to sleep with you."
All Merlin could do was obey.