In the thick of the forest the world was wrapped in twilight. Trees became pillars holding up a canopy of green silk, and the air was humid and thick with the smell of life's ever-turning circle of birth and decay. Arthur had never been to this part of the forest before, and he tread carefully, reluctant to disturb the quiet and peace. His mare had been left behind when the trees and undergrowth became too dense, bound to a tree where she could graze while Arthur explored. He was alone. At least that's what he had been telling himself.
It was probably only his imagination, paired with a guilty conscience, that made him look over his shoulder every few minutes, unable to shake the nervous feeling of being watched. There were stories about this part of the forest, old wives' tales really, claiming that it was enchanted, that wondrous things could happen here, and not all of them good. But Arthur was no coward; he was the prince of Camelot and a knight. The stories had only heightened his curiosity.
There were reasons why he shouldn't be in the forest though. Different reasons, which would probably earn him a proper dressing down when he returned to the citadel, but Arthur had not been able to stand it one minute longer. He had needed to get away from the castle where the court was all but buzzing with excitement over the arrival of Lord Godwin and his daughter Odilia. It might not have been announced officially, but Arthur knew what the purpose of that visit was. His father had hinted quite plainly at what a favourable match the Lady Odilia would be. What an alliance with the house of Godrac would mean for Camelot – namely reaping the riches of the Southern kingdoms and a secure boarder on top of that.
Arthur knew all that. But Camelot was prospering herself. There surely was no need for a rash decision, not when Arthur was only sixteen? He was finally doing the full knights training and was hoping to lead them come his next birthday. The last thing on his mind was marriage.
Lost in his musings Arthur was surprised when the trees suddenly thinned in front of him, and he pushed through the low hanging branches to discover a small clearing. The floor was lush with thick moss and fresh grass, and his eyes were immediately drawn to the big hawthorn tree on the other side. It looked like a perfect resting place. He'd been wandering for quite a while, and he reconned that it must be long past the midday meal, so it was no wonder that his stomach was growling.
Walking over to the hawthorn tree, Arthur saw something white flash up between the green blades on the ground, and he curiously sank down on one knee to take a closer look. It was a row of mushrooms. Some were small, some were bigger, but they all had the same velvety soft, white caps and, looking up, Arthur realised that they formed a perfect circle. It was almost like a small citadel of the forest, as if nature had marked the spot just for Arthur to find. With a smile on his face he got up and stepped inside the ring, putting his satchel down under he tree. The branches danced softly in the breeze, and for a moment Arthur thought it sounded like whispers and quiet laughter.
He shook his head at himself and sat down, leaning against the trunk and reaching for his waterskin first. It was still warm and he'd grown thirsty from the long walk, so he drank in long, greedy gulps, causing some of the water to spill down his chin and chest when he gripped the skin too hard. Wiping at it with the arm of his tunic, he suddenly heard a low chuckle right next to his ear.
Arthur froze, his heart beating wildly. Had someone been following him after all?
''Who's there?'' he demanded, hand reaching for his crossbow.
There was no answer though, just the wind in the trees and the whisper in the grass. Forcing himself to relax even though his instincts remained on alarm, Arthur reasoned that it must have been just that: the wind and his own imagination playing tricks on him. The forest was dense and hard to navigate, surely he would have heard if someone had approached.
Deciding to not let his guilt for shirking his duties spoil the day, he opened his satchel and pulled out the loaf of bread and some cold meats he had nicked from the kitchen, setting it all out on a piece of cloth. He broke the bread and took a piece of the meat, leaning back against the trunk once more to enjoy his meal. The warm autumn sunlight was filtering through the still green leaves and the smell of the moss and the mushrooms was rich and savoury. It was a peaceful place, really. Arthur surely had nothing to worry about.
He was just about to close his eyes for a little nap, when he heard rustling and crackling in the undergrowth on the opposite side of the clearing. Within seconds, Arthur was up on his feet, crossbow in hand. The leaves of the low hanging branches shook and Arthur trained his weapon, broadening his stance.
Then, the undergrowth parted and a young roebuck stepped into the clearing, causing Arthur to lower the crossbow with a chuckle and a small sigh of relief. He felt slightly silly that the deer had spooked him.
The roebuck cocked his head, his ears twitching and the big, dark eyes looking directly at Arthur. He did not seem to feel threatened by his presence at all though.Trying to show the animal that he indeed meant it no harm, Arthur slowly lowered himself back to the ground. He might have brought his crossbow, but he had no intention to hunt, and it did not even occur to him to try a shot.
Maybe the buck understood his intention, but Arthur was still completely stunned when the animal slowly stalked forwards until it stood barely a yard away from Arthur, studying him. It was a beautiful creature. The deep chestnut coat was soft looking and gleaming in the sunlight, and the mysterious eyes were framed by long, elegant lashes. Arthur would not have been able to say what made him reach out, but his hand came up to slowly stroke the buck's cheek and muzzle. To his surprise, the buck turned into his touch, sniffing Arthur's hand but content to be petted.
And then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the roebuck turned away and with a few quick leaps vanished back into the undergrowth, leaving Arthur smiling if a little unsettled.
Arthur couldn't say how it had happened. He only had closed his eyes for a short moment, but when he opened them again the clearing around him had fallen into a dusky gloom. The trees rose up like black giants, raising their multiple arms into the darkening sky, and there was whisper in the bushes even though the wind had died down.
A soft golden glow was coming from the grass around him, and it took Arthur a moment to realise that the source of it was the ring of mushrooms. He pushed himself up from the mossy floor, looking around, and could see that the glow formed the same perfect circle he had seen this afternoon. The innocent white cups were now sparkling like starlight, beautiful and mesmerizing.
Arthur blinked. Something about the light was strange indeed; it seemed to pulse and flicker and he couldn't take his eyes away from it. It called to him, telling him to come and fall into it, bath in it and drink his fill. Then, the light slowly started to spread out towards Arthur until it filled the whole circle, the air around him sparkling with what he now could see were tiny dots, or rather little, winged creatures, dancing like fireflies around him.
There seemed to be a music to the light, a low, seductive humming that vibrated through him and filled him with a longing to join that dance which looked so carefree, so joyful and free. Some of the fireflies were coming closer, circling Arthur, while others still followed the trail of mushrooms in their jumping and spinning. It made Arthur feel a little dizzy, and there was something like a tugging, deep in his guts. No, not only in his guts. There was, Arthur realised a little alarmed, a more and more insistent tugging on his clothes.
When Arthur felt the buttons of his tunic go one after the other, he froze. But the gentle, happy humming in the air calmed him immediately, and he blinked at the fireflies buzzing around him, his skin tingling where they touched him. His tunic slid off his shoulders and down to the ground. A little uncertainly Arthur watched the fireflies move on to his trousers, but he didn't question their intent. He felt warm and strangely safe. He could tell that the light was not malicious, just curious and maybe a little bit wicked. His boots came off next, and he buried his toes in the moss, enjoying its softness and hardly realising that the laces of his trousers untangled themselves. Then they were pulled down his legs and Arthur stood in the circle of light in only his undergarments.
The light in the circle intensified suddenly. It gathered in a small, pulsing ball that grew and grew, until it exploded, lighting up the whole clearing so brightly that Arthur was forced to close his eyes and turn away.
When he opened them again, there was a boy standing in front of him and the light had returned to its low pulsing circle. The boy himself seemed to glow with his own inner light though, his skin so pale it was almost white and his eyes as big and black as the buck's had been. There were leaves winding through his dark hair and over his strange ears, as well as around his hips. Apart from that the boy was completely naked.
He took a step closer to Arthur, looking at him expectantly and then speaking words Arthur couldn't understand.
''Emrryyysss...,'' something whispered in his ear.
Arthur didn't know why, but he thought it was supposed to be the boys name. It seemed important somehow. And then the dark eyes watching him sparked with gold, and Arthur understood that this was no ordinary boy but something else, something out of fairy tales and legends, like a god of the forest, and that it wanted Arthur to obey.
''You were tested, Prince Arthur of Camelot,'' the boy suddenly said in a clear voice. ''We don't like people trespassing on our lands, but you have bowed and paid respect, you have shown that you mean no harm and you have stepped into the elfendans to give yourself as a sacrifice. The land recognises you, and it accepts.''
Arthur blinked. It was as if the boy's eyes were holding him captive and Arthur was unable to look away.
''You may kiss me now, Prince Arthur, and seal your promise.''
Arthur's feet moved forward almost as if under their own volition, his gaze drawn to the boy's full lips. His heart was beating wildly. He had never kissed anyone, had imagined it, but never like this. The air between them tingled with energy, and the light in the circle of mushrooms flared up again.
And then their lips met, just a soft brush and a warm exhale, but Arthur felt something locking into place inside him, something he had not even known had been missing.
''Yes,'' he breathed. Not entirely sure what he was promising but not caring the slightest. He would promise this boy the whole of the kingdom if he could just keep kissing him.
''Will you serve me, Arthur?'' Emrys asked then. ''As I will serve you when the time has come?''
All Arthur could do was nod. He would do anything that was asked of him.
The boy moved his hands over the leaves at his hip and they fell away, leaving him completely naked. Arthur swallowed when his eyes were immediately drawn to the boy's erection, rising proudly up towards his stomach. It was long and stretched to a flared head that was a dark, reddish purple. It looked a bit like a mushroom itself.
''Kneel, Arthur. Take me into your mouth and suck me.''
Even though he was slightly nervous at the sight of the full, throbbing cock, Arthur obeyed without hesitation. He sank down to his knees in front of the beautiful boy and gingerly reached out his hand, wrapping it around the stiff shaft. Emrys sighed.
''Yes, Arthur, very good. You're doing so well. Now your mouth.''
Arthur opened his mouth and hesitantly wrapped his lips around the purple head, pressing his tongue against the underside and licking around it slowly before he went further down on the shaft. He couldn't help but love the way it filled his mouth, the weight on his tongue and the taste, the musky smell that filled his nostrils when he buried his face in the boy's pubic hair.
A hand came to rest on the top of his head, running through his hair and petting him gently.
''You are so beautiful, my prince, so very beautiful like this.''
Arthur hollowed his cheeks around the cock in his mouth and sucked, his lips moving up and down on the stiff flesh. It made the boy moan and push in further, thrusting into Arthur's mouth and choking him a little, but even that felt good. Arthur looked up then, pressing his face against the boy's hand, wanting to know he was making this good for him. Emrys' eyes looked straight into Arthur's, but they were not dark any longer. They were blue.
''So eager. So willing to please,'' he whispered, his fingers stroking over Arthur's cheek and the stretched corner of his mouth. ''You will do anything I ask of you, won't you? Anything at all.''
Arthur nodded, bobbing his head on the boy's erection.
''Will you give yourself to me completely, Arthur? Will you let me take you?''
Arthur nodded again. He had no idea what the boy was talking about, but there was no question in his mind that whatever Emrys wanted from Arthur, Arthur would give him.
The boy pulled his cock from Arthur's mouth with a wet noise, and sank down on his heels. His hands kept stroking Arthur's hair, his neck and his cheeks, and he softly kissed him on the lips, wet as they were with both their juices.
''Lie back,'' he said then, ''and take of your braies.''
Arthur did as he was told, exposing himself and his by now completely stiff cock to the mysterious boy, who came to sit between Arthur's slightly spread legs. The hands of the boy were gliding over Arthur's skin, tingling like the fireflies but better and much more arousing. He stroked Arthur's legs, his chest and his belly, and then down to Arthur's balls and the cleft of his arse.
''You are so beautiful,'' he murmured. ''You are the key, Arthur, you alone. The land loves you just as much as I will love you. I am yours and I'm going to make you mine in return. Give yourself to me and let me have you now.''
There were fingers, gentle but insistent at Arthur's entrance, rubbing over it. Some far away part of Arthur's mind whispered that this was dirty, forbidden and perverted, but all his senses screamed at the sensation, the need it sparked to have the boy fill the emptiness inside of him. Emrys had said Arthur was the key, but he felt more like he was the lock and Emrys would fit into him and release him, open him and free him.
''Open your legs and lift them. Yes, just a little bit further.''
Arthur didn't try to watch or understand any longer. He just followed the boy's commands, letting his head drop to the ground and taking in the touches, the pleasure they brought. When he was breached there was a dull burn, but it faded quickly, leaving Arthur to concentrated on the motion of what he supposed was the boy's finger, then two of them, moving inside his channel. They curled and brushed at something and every nerve in Arthur's body sparked at the same time, making him shudder and squirm on the ground.
A palm was put upon his abdomen, gentle but firm.
''Stay still. It will make this good for you, I promise, Arthur.''
Arthur relaxed. He didn't want to fight the boy. He knew Emrys would never hurt him, was doing this for Arthur as much as himself, maybe even more. The fingers started moving inside of him again when Arthur didn't struggle any longer. The sensations were almost too much, hovering on the brink between pleasure and pain, but Arthur learned to bear them, to enjoy them until he didn't want the boy to ever stop.
''Please,...'' he whispered, not knowing what he was asking for, looking up into the smiling face above him.
''Yes, Arthur. Whatever you ask for.''
The fingers pulled out, leaving him empty for an almost unbearable second, but then something else pushed inside of him: better, bigger and so much harder. It filled him deeper, spread him wider and took possession of his very soul. In this moment, right there, Arthur felt owned, and he revelled in it.
Emrys was bend over him, holding Arthur's hips and thrusting into him in a slow, steady rhythm. It was good, so incredibly good, but still not enough.
''Please,...'' Arthur whispered again.
And this time Arthur knew what he was asking for. ''Harder.''
The boy groaned and trembled above him, but he gripped Arthur's arse harder and then he shoved his cock into him with a desperate moan. The burn of it was perfect, and Arthur clenched his muscles around him. He loved the deep, guttural sounds he could draw forth from the boy's plush lips as he shuddered.
Then, without any warning, Emrys pulled out and Arthur made a keening sound, trying to reach for him and pull him back, when there was the command.
''Get on your hands and knees.''
Arthur scrambled up and got into the position, shaking a little from the need and the anticipation.
''Gods, look at you. So perfect. So absolutely gorgeous.''
Tears were prickling in the corners of Arthur's eyes, and he smiled happily. No one had ever praised him such. He lifted his arse a little further, offering himself just like Emrys had asked him to.
He didn't get a warning this time either; the boy's cock rammed inside of him with enough force to rock Arthur forward and knocking his arms out from under him. He fell on his elbows with a grunt of pain, but with Arthur's arse in the air like that, Emrys immediately took advantage. His hands on Arthur's hips were almost bruising, and he started to pound inside of him forcefully, pulling Arthur back on his cock like a ragdoll and brushing that spot inside of him with every single stroke.
Loud slapping noises filled the night, the light of the circle around them pulsing in the same rhythm, and Arthur moaned shamelessly, feeling used and cherished in equal measure. And then a hand wrapped around his hard, weeping shaft and started to stroke him in time with the thrusts inside his arse. It might have taken not more than good dozen, Arthur couldn't tell, but the painful, glorious pressure built up until Arthur felt as if his life was hanging in the balance. It exploded, with one powerful thrust and a shuddering moan from the beautiful boy above him, and Arthur spilled his seed all over Emrys' hand and the grass beneath them.
They had collapsed to the ground right there and then, the pulsing lights diminishing and leaving only the pale light of the moon.
When Arthur turned towards Emrys then, he found him looking not so much like a god but like a boy - a boy just like Arthur. Only with long, gangly limbs and ridiculous ears. He also looked incredibly endearing and still very, very beautiful to Arthur.
He raised his hand, touching the boy's cheek, and when he turned into the touch it was like scales fell from Arthur's eyes.
''You were the buck!'' Arthur gasped and for a second the boy froze.
Then he said, ''I was.''
''I was curious,'' he said, looking sheepish. ''I wanted to see you, but I couldn't let you see me, the real me, before the ritual.''
''Of accepting your offering. Of making you one with the land you will rule one day.''
''Is... is this what this was?'' Arthur asked, feeling a chasm opening in his chest.
Emrys shook his head, looking at him earnestly, ''You are my destiny, Arthur. As I am yours. So it has been foretold. But it will be our decision what we make of it.''
''I wished... I wished we could be friends.'' Arthur said, feeling stupid for sounding like a little boy after all that they had done tonight.
But Emrys just smiled at him, open and brilliant and so broad that there were dimples edged into his cheeks.
''Then that's what we will be.''
He kissed Arthur then, softly, like a promise, and Arthur wrapped his arm around his slender form.
''I wish I could stay,'' he mumbled.
''Don't worry, Arthur,'' the boy whispered close to his ear. ''We are bound now. And I will come find you when your need for me is greatest. You will not remember my face but you will recognise my soul. Wait for me, Prince Arthur of Camelot, and I will be at your side before the leaves turn in a year from now.''
Arthur felt the boy's lips pressing against his temple and he closed his eyes, feeling tired but happy - and whole. The hawthorn tree rustled in the breeze, the branches whispering their secrets.
''Meeerliiiiinnnn...'', the wind sighed, and Arthur fell asleep.