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“Father, what exactly is it that you’re trying to suggest?”

Uther sighed, and stood up out of his chair.

“Arthur, you’re a young man,” he told his son. “You’re in prime health. When you come back to your chambers after training or after a fight, do you not find that you have - excess energy and spirit inside you that you need to rid yourself of?”

Arthur frowned. “Well, yes...” he realised. “Yes, I suppose so.”

“Right,” Uther said, leaning forward to put his hands on the long wooden table. “And that’s what I’m talking about.”

Arthur pulled a face, still completely lost as to what his Father was getting at.

“Servants - ” said Uther, pointedly. “- are there to serve you, Arthur. In whatever way you need. They are there to be - used.”

Understanding slowly started to dawn in Arthur’s mind, and slight horror came with it.

“Father…” he began, slowly. “You mean you think I should…”

“Yes.”

Confusion and concern still furrowed Arthur’s brow.

“Until you take a wife,” Uther continued, “you have bodily needs that require attention.”

Arthur breathed out, heavily.

“If your servant is worth anything at all, he will oblige, willingly, knowing that your well-being is crucial to the future of the Kingdom.”

“But, Father,” Arthur protested. “Is it not rather… unnatural? Merlin is, after all, a man.”

“I am aware of that, Arthur,” Uther said, impatiently. “And, obviously, outside of these circumstances, such an arrangement would be entirely unacceptable.”

Uther made his way back to his chair, and sat down.

“However,” he added. “The alternative would be to take a female servant, which is frankly even less desirable. It would sully you, and make it impossible for her to find a husband, which wouldn’t be fair to the poor thing.”

Arthur couldn’t help the images of himself and one particular female servant which filled his mind. If only that could be how he rid himself of extraneous energy.

“Besides which,” Uther was explaining. “Common girls aren’t known for their discretion. At least a man can be relied upon to keep a secret. This way you can be certain that details of the activity will stay behind closed doors.”

Uther picked up the parchment that had been laid before him for his attention, and began to study it.

Arthur guessed that meant that the matter was over, but he stayed rooted to the spot. He still wasn’t sure what he was meant to do.

“So - did - did you ever…?” he attempted.

“Arthur,” his Father said, sternly and without looking up at him. “There is an unspoken understanding between master and servant. Don’t think too much about it, and don’t ask questions.”

*  *  *  *
Merlin followed Arthur up the stairs and into his chambers, carrying his sword and cloak and shield.

Arthur seemed particularly riled up after today's training session. He'd fought three Knights in combat practise, and seemed to still have some lingering aggression to dispel, if the way he'd stomped up the corridor was any indication.

Merlin hoped, as he closed the door behind him, that he wasn't going to be on the receiving end of said aggression.

Arthur threw off his belt, as usual not caring where it landed, and sat heavily on the end of his bed.

Merlin laid the Prince’s cloak on the table, resentfully eyeing the grass stains on the hem. He knew he'd be scrubbing those out later. As well as having to take the sword and shield down to the armoury for a wash and polish. He rested both against the wall by the door, and walked towards his lord and master, ready to help divest him of his armour.

Arthur was rubbing the back of his neck with a gloved hand, looking tired and irritated.

“Here,” Merlin said, holding his hands out.

Arthur presented his own, and Merlin pulled the gloves off. He tucked them under his armpit, then unfastened the armour around Arthur's chest and neck. He took it off, set it down, then pulled the heavy chain mail up over Arthur's head.

Arthur was being as unhelpful as ever, just sitting there, letting Merlin do everything.

“You know, this would be a lot easier if you stood up,” Merlin muttered.

“If only it were my job were to make your life easier, Merlin,” Arthur said, dryly. “Oh, wait - it's the other way round.”

Merlin frowned, but didn't bother responding. He gathered up the discarded garments, and took them over to Arthur's cupboard.

He tossed the cloak into the laundry basket, and hung up the chain mail. He would leave Arthur in his shirt and trousers unless otherwise instructed.

“If that’ll be all, Sire…” Merlin began, turning back around to face the Prince.

Merlin stopped, and his mouth fell open a little in surprise.

Arthur was leaning back on one hand, and he had his eyes closed. His head was slightly tipped back, and tilted towards his right shoulder. His other arm was resting across the top of his thigh, and his hand was moving just below his stomach.

For goodness sake, was he…?!

Merlin coughed, pointedly.

“Would you like some privacy, my Lord?”

Arthur looked up, and didn't cease the movement of his hand as he locked eyes with his servant.

“No,” he answered, voice disproportionately calm, given the act he was indulging in.

Merlin swallowed, and didn't know where to look.

“No, Merlin,” Arthur said, again. “I would like some assistance.”

Merlin stared at Arthur's face, wondering what on earth he meant by that. Arthur released himself, and stood up.

“Undress me,” he instructed.

Merlin froze, hypnotised by the sight of the large bulge that was straining at the Prince’s lower clothing.

“Now,” came the quiet, stern command.

Merlin shook himself from his trance, and hurried towards his Master. With shaking hands, he loosened the laces of Arthur's shirt, and lifted it over his head. He draped it over the foot board of the bed, then put his hands at the top of the Prince’s trousers.

As he did so, his wrist knocked against the hardness of Arthur's flesh. Arthur jumped a little at the contact, but quickly composed himself. Merlin paused for a second, then exhaled through his nose, and eased the soft material down Arthur's legs.

Arthur stepped out once he was able, and Merlin remained kneeling at his Master’s feet. He glanced up to see Arthur's cock proudly jutting out above his head, and his heart beat faster at the sight.

Merlin had, of course, seen Arthur with nothing covering his dignity, when the Prince was bathing or undressing, but he had never let his eyes linger. Certainly, before now, there had been nothing like this to linger upon. Unaroused, Arthur's genitals were nothing of note; Merlin had been completely indifferent to his master’s nakedness.

Like this, though - firm and full and big - Arthur’s body had Merlin totally awed and enticed.

“I'm not knighting you with it, Merlin,” Arthur jested. “Stand up.”

Merlin smirked, and did as he was told.

Arthur turned around, so that his back was to Merlin's chest.

He reached behind himself to grab Merlin's right hand, and pulled it round his hips, placing it on his cock.

Merlin wrapped his fingers around the hard smooth skin, and began instinctively to stroke.

Right, so I'll just add this to my never-ending list of chores, shall I? he thought, wondering how the spoiled brat couldn't even do this on his own.

“Mmmmm…” Arthur hummed, appreciatively; a low rumble in his throat that made Merlin yearn.

Alright, maybe it's not exactly a chore.

Merlin took initiative and drew his other hand round Arthur, to fondle his balls while he rubbed him.

Arthur gasped, and put a hand on the bedpost, to steady himself.

Merlin’s face was so close to the back of Arthur's neck, that he could easily have kissed or nibbled at it.

But why would you want to do that?? he chided himself.

He rested his forehead at the top of Arthur's spine, and focused on the job literally in hand.

Merlin had attended to himself in this way many times, so was familiar with the requirements. He alternated his grip from loose to tight at regular intervals, and he gradually built up speed. His other hand massaged and played.

Arthur was gasping and releasing small choked-off sounds as Merlin worked him, and sometimes his lower body would tremble a little.

Merlin was trying to remain detached and calm, but his own body had started to respond as if it were himself receiving the intimate treatment. He felt sure Arthur would be able to feel his breathing becoming erratic, and his heart thumping against the Prince’s spine.

He bit his lip as he registered his own hard flesh nudging against Arthur's behind. But if he moved away, he'd lose his grip and his rhythm, and he needed to complete his task.

A task which was certainly not something he'd been prepared for when he'd been given this job, but Merlin was perfectly happy to serve Arthur in this way, as in any other.

More than happy, if truth be told. This was actually the first time he'd genuinely enjoyed something Arthur had commanded him to do. Hearing Arthur's reactions was giving Merlin such a sense of pride.

Merlin felt Arthur tense up, and knew the inevitable was imminent. He let go of Arthur's balls, and cupped his hand at the end of Arthur's cock. He couldn't see what he was doing, so he used his right hand to angle the royal member down, so that the head touched the palm of Merlin’s left hand.

Satisfied with his positioning, Merlin gave a few last firm strokes, and Arthur spilled into his open hand with a soft cry.

Merlin stood against his master, breathing with him for a little while, indulging in the nice afterglow… then he pulled himself together.

He closed his fingers on his palm, encasing the sticky liquid within, and moved away from Arthur, who was still supporting himself with one hand holding the bedpost.

Merlin cleared his throat. “I should - get all this washed,” he said, voice cracking slightly.

“Yes,” came Arthur’s voice, steady but quiet. “Yes, do.”

Merlin heaved up the laundry basket, wiped his hand on a dirty pair of breeches, then folded them up tight so that the sticky evidence of Arthur’s release would be concealed. He hurried from the room, and closed the door.

He stood still in the corridor for a moment, getting his breathing back to normal and trying to process what he’d just done. He chewed on his lip, and shifted the heavy basket on his hip. In doing so, he registered the hardness in his trousers.

He looked down, accusingly.

“Don’t suppose anyone’s going to help me with that…” he muttered to himself.

Chapter Text

Arthur sat down heavily on the ground, and rested his back and head against a tree. It had been a really long day. He wished they could sleep at home tonight, but they were too far away, and it was getting dark.

He watched Sir Elyan start a fire, while Gwaine passed around the drink.

“Thank you,” he told his Knight, as the flask reached him, and he drank, eagerly.

Arthur looked over to where Merlin was securing and watering the horses. His nether regions twitched, and he silently cursed them.

It was very useful having Merlin to help extinguish certain of his needs, but now that his body had begun to associate his servant with physical gratification, it was prone to the occasional spontaneous and inappropriate response.

He shifted on the grass, willing his genitals to calm down.

Apparently, Arthur wasn’t the only one with impurities on his mind, because as the evening wore on, the Knights started to trade stories of their lewdest misadventures.

Percival was being the most gentlemanly, unwilling to reveal much more than names and places, while in contrast, Gwaine was merrily sharing tales of all his conquests in vivid detail.

“Honestly, the things some girls will do,” chuckled the cocky and charming Knight. “And that was when I was just a commoner. Imagine what they’d do to me now?!”

“But now that you’re a Knight, you couldn’t get away with such behaviour,” Leon suggested, with a smirk. “You have to conduct yourself with a bit more decorum.”

“Aye,” Gwaine nodded. “It’s a crying shame.”

Arthur laughed, and shook his head. Maybe he should tell them all to knock the gutter talk on the head and go to sleep, but really he didn’t see anything wrong with it. As long as he didn’t contribute; that definitely wouldn’t be proper. Besides, there was nothing to contribute. He’d never engaged in anything more than a kiss with a woman. A virginal Prince; how dull. He'd never really been that interested, to be honest. Riding and fighting always held more appeal to Arthur than any horizontal activities.

He looked up at Merlin, who was sitting a little removed from the main group, repairing a ripped boot by the dim glow of the firelight.

Arthur wondered whether Merlin had ever been with a girl. Or another boy. The thought stirred something in him which probably would have become jealousy if he'd allowed it to develop. Instead, he crushed it down and went back to listening to Gwaine, who was mid-story.

“...she just knelt down in front of me right there in the stable…”

The Knights laughed encouragingly as they sat round the fire, hanging off Gwaine’s every word.

“...she pushed down my breeches, and just fucking went to town on my old man like it was a cut of pork!”

Next to Arthur, Leon chuckled into his drink, and Arthur felt his own mouth go dry. He'd never really imagined that act before. He'd overheard some filthy tavern-talk every now and then, but folk didn't tend to openly discuss such things in front of royalty. Putting your mouth on someone's intimate area was something only whores would even consider, surely?

“I tell you, lads,” Gwaine continued. “I've never experienced the like before or since. She was unbelievable.”

Arthur heard the crunching of twigs and dry leaves to his left, and knew that Merlin was moving. He glanced over, and saw his servant adjusting his position on the tree stump he was perched on. He looked up and caught Arthur's eye, and Arthur immediately looked away.

“Her tongue,” Gwaine was saying, eyes now closed with the memory. “Felt like it was made of silk.”

The men fell silent, presumably all lost in the same fantasy, and only the crackling of the fire accompanied Gwaine's voice.

“She licked up and down the length of me,” he recalled. “Made me practically mad with desire. Teased the tip… then wrapped her whole mouth round me and slid down to where it connects with the rest of my body. Fuck knows how she got it all in her mouth without choking, but by god… it was warm and tight and like nothing I've ever felt.”

Arthur swallowed, and forced himself not to look at anyone. His face was hot, and he was getting hard. Everything Gwaine was describing, Arthur was picturing. Except, Arthur was the one being sucked and licked, and it wasn't a farmer's daughter kneeling before him - it was Merlin.

“I couldn't even be a gentleman and warn her I was about to come,” Gwaine said, with a light chuckle. “She was so bloody good, it happened unexpectedly. All I could do was grab a handful of her hair and hang on for dear life.”

Elyan broke the silence with a laugh. “And did you leave the poor girl on her knees in the hay with just a throatful of seed to remember you by?”

“Did I, fuck!” Gwaine protested, swigging a mouthful of his drink. “I laid her down and showed her what my tongue can do.”

* * * *
Merlin flopped down onto his bed, relishing the luxury of some peace and quiet.

He had been blessedly relieved of his duties until such time as he would need to bring Arthur his supper, and Gaius was at market, meaning he was alone for a little while.

Merlin wondered whether Arthur would require the new special service of him tonight. It had been a few days since the last time Merlin had helped Arthur with his - Merlin searched his mind for an appropriate term - ejection?

It didn’t happen every day. Mostly just when Arthur was wound up. And the request didn’t need voicing any more, either. It was in the way Arthur looked at Merlin, or the way he asked him to close the door. The implied need was blatant.

Merlin had started to find that he was a little disappointed each time the act went undelivered. He had gone from merely obliging, to actively looking forward to it. He liked knowing Arthur in that way; the way that no one else did. No one else saw Arthur when he was vulnerable. No one else got to touch him there, or hear the noises he made when physically excited…

Merlin became aware that he had unconsciously begun to touch himself. His right hand had sneakily started to rub between the top of his thighs.

May as well, he thought. Don’t get much opportunity for self-indulgence.

He pushed his trousers down to expose the necessary body parts, and took hold. He sighed with relief, and closed his eyes.

His mind readily provided the images which had been skirting around his imagination since the night round the fire. Gwaine’s accounts had inspired many new fantasies. One in particular that Merlin was desperate to make a reality - he wanted to take Arthur into his mouth.

His grip tightened, and his strokes sped up slightly.

The idea of kneeling in front of Arthur, and Arthur putting his hands in Merlin’s hair… Sucking Arthur’s hard flesh, while looking up into his eyes… Getting Arthur to make those little moans, hearing his breath catch in his throat… Maybe Arthur would say his name…

“Oh!” Merlin couldn’t help a small exclamation as he heard it in his head.

Thus far, the incidents had been very quiet - it was not something to which any attention should be drawn, obviously. Arthur’s satisfaction was always clear, but Merlin did sometimes fantasise about the Prince loudly vocalising his pleasure.

Arthur…” Merlin whispered, getting closer to his peak. “Oh… yes…”

Merlin hit the apex of his pleasure, and moaned softly as his body convulsed, the face of the Prince forefront in his mind.

He just finished wiping himself off with a damp rag as he heard the main door open and close. He quickly redressed, and took a deep breath, shaking off the remains of his fantasy. He left his room, and saw Gaius crossing the floor, armed with herbs and oils and various other market spoils.

“It's chaos down there today!” Gaius complained. “Everyone's stocking up before the weather turns. Nearly came to blows over that chicken.”

Merlin helped his old friend sort and shelve everything, barely saying a word as he did so. Evidently his unusual silence was not going to go unchecked.

“Is everything alright, Merlin?” Gaius asked. “You seem awfully distracted.”

Merlin forced himself to focus, and slapped on a small smile.

“I'm fine,” he attempted.

Gaius answered with a cynical eyebrow, but didn't push.

Merlin sighed. He knew he'd tell Gaius eventually, so he may as well get it over with.

“Can I ask you something?” he said, placing a small bottle up onto the physician’s shelf.

“Of course,” Gaius answered, turning to fetch a jug of water. “Anything.”

They both reached the small wooden table at the same time, and sat down.

Merlin clasped his hands in front of him. “Is it normal for - lords of Camelot to, er…”

He paused, frowned, and coughed. This was awkward. He couldn't meet Gaius’ eye.

“To what?” Gaius prompted.

Merlin began nervously tugging at the material of his sleeve.

“To, um… demandphysicalfavoursfromtheirservants?” he blurted out.

Gaius took a deep breath, and sat back in his chair. Merlin kept his head down, but lifted his eyes to gauge the reaction. Gaius’ expression was pretty unreadable, as though he were just processing the information.

“Arthur has asked certain things of me,” Merlin elaborated, feeling the need to fill the silence. “And I just wondered if it was usual practice.”

“I'm afraid it is,” Gaius replied, quietly. “I must say I'm surprised, though. I would have thought Arthur would be where this particular Pendragon tradition ended.”

Merlin didn't say anything. He wanted to disclose to Gaius that he was finding that he liked it, but wasn't sure if that news would be well-received.

“I'm sorry, Merlin,” Gaius continued. “There's nothing to be done but grin and bear it, I'm afraid.”

Merlin nodded.

“Be grateful you have a kind Master, at least,” Gaius added, pouring Merlin a drink. “Some are violent and cruel in the taking of their servants. I've seen some injuries that I - ”

He cut himself off, and Merlin was glad he did. He didn't want to know.

“Well. Arthur would never hurt you,” Gaius concluded.

“No,” Merlin agreed, with a smile.

“Merlin,” Gaius said, in a voice laced with warning.

Merlin looked up.

“It would be advisable not to attach any feeling to the acts,” Gaius suggested.

Merlin’s smile turned into a frown. “Feeling?” he repeated, defensively. “Trust me, Gaius, the only feeling involved is irritation at the tedium of it all.”

He gulped down his drink and didn't look up for fear that Gaius might see the truth in his eyes.

Chapter Text

Arthur stood at his window, hands on his hips, teeth lightly chewing at the inside of his cheek.

He'd been pacing around his room, and had finally come to a stop.

He'd spent a very pleasant few minutes in the company of Gwen; he'd spotted her at the gates on her way home, and had offered to escort her to her door. They'd had a short walk together and they'd talked and laughed, and it had been most enjoyable.

Just before Gwen had gone into her house, the two of them had exchanged a lingering look, which managed to say more than a hundred poets ever could.

So now Arthur was frustrated. Emotionally and physically. He wanted to call upon Merlin, but increasingly he was worried that this arrangement was a betrayal to Gwen, somehow. It was ridiculous, because there was nothing really going on between himself and the beautiful handmaiden - unless mutual hopeless yearning qualified as a relationship.

To make everything more blindingly complicated, Arthur now couldn't make it through a day without desiring Merlin's hands on him.

It had been about three weeks since he'd first asked Merlin to function as his own personal ejaculation facilitator. There had been no protest; Merlin seemed not to be too bothered by it.

Despite his father’s thoughts on the matter, Arthur would certainly not force his friend to do these acts if he truly didn’t want to. Thus far Arthur had only made use of Merlin's hands, and he couldn't help but wonder what other body parts Merlin might be willing to sacrifice to the cause...

Arthur sighed, deeply, and ran an agitated hand through his hair.

There was a knock on the door.

“Come in,” Arthur snapped.

He heard the door open and close, but no one announced themselves, which could mean only one thing.

Arthur turned to see Merlin place a modest supper tray down on the table, then stand awkwardly next to it.

“Sire.”

“Merlin,” Arthur acknowledged.

Neither man moved. Merlin was clearly awaiting instruction, and Arthur couldn't for the life of him think of one to give him that wasn't explicit.

“Should I…” Merlin began. “...turn the bed down for you, my Lord?”

“Well, yes, Merlin,” Arthur replied, retreating with relief to the safety of sarcastic impatience. “Unless you think I should sleep on top of the covers, that would be a great plan, wouldn’t it.”

Merlin hurried to achieve the task, and Arthur tried not to look too long at the sight of him bent over the bed.

Arthur was already in his more casual attire, having eaten an informal dinner with his father and a few select Knights, and he was confident that he could undress himself tonight. But where was the fun in that?

With the blankets and sheets suitably turned down, Merlin turned back to Arthur.

Arthur raised an eyebrow and slightly lifted his arms.

“Oh!” Merlin realised what he was meant to be doing, and grabbed the softer sleeping trousers from the end of the bed.

Draping them over his shoulder, he helped Arthur out of his shirt. The brush of Merlin's fingers against his waist and ribs affected Arthur now in a way it never used to.

Damn it.

Merlin unlaced Arthur's trousers and Arthur could've sworn there was an audible gulp from his servant’s throat.

Arthur stepped out of the trousers once they were pushed down, and into the other ones that Merlin was holding open for him.

Merlin straightened up once Arthur’s nethers had been re-covered, and stood still in front of the Prince, rather closer than was strictly acceptable.

Arthur looked right into Merlin’s eyes, acutely aware of his own bare torso. He knew his body was in prime condition - yes, he sometimes wished he could have arms like Sir Percival or the finely tuned stomach muscles of Sir Gwaine, but he knew he looked good. He felt somewhat self-conscious in front of Merlin, now, though.

Do I want him to desire me? Arthur wondered. Why do I care what he thinks of my body? This is absurd.

“Sire?” Merlin murmured. “Will there be anything else?”

There was a promise in Merlin's low voice, which stirred Arthur's loins. He closed his eyes against the need. He should put a stop to this before it gets out of hand. If he starts to get addicted to Merlin's touch, he'll be ruined for his future Queen.

Arthur coughed. “No,” he said, voice strained. “No, thank you, Merlin. You can go.”

Arthur saw Merlin's expression drop, just briefly, and he wondered if he was disappointed.

“Right,” Merlin answered. “Goodnight, then.”

* *
Merlin slammed the door so hard that the bottles shook on the shelves.

He marched straight past Gaius, ignoring him when he sleepily asked what on earth was wrong, and stomped up to his chambers.

He slammed that door as well.

He didn’t know why he was so upset. Well, maybe he did, but he didn’t want to acknowledge it to himself yet.

Thankfully, Gaius left him to get out of his mood on his own, and after a few minutes of deep breathing while sitting on the edge of his bed, Merlin had calmed down.

He stood up, and was about to go out and apologise to Gaius for stropping around like a petulant child, when he heard a knock on the main door. Curious, he waited behind his closed one, and listened.

“Arthur,” he heard Gaius say with surprise. “Are you alright, Sire?”

“Yes, I’m fine, Gaius,” came the reply. “I’m terribly sorry to disturb you so late in the evening.”

The mere sound of Arthur’s voice made Merlin’s treacherous heart beat faster in his chest.

“Not at all,” Gaius assured him. “Is someone hurt? Is there something you need my assistance with?”

“Actually, it’s Merlin I’m after,” Arthur explained, and Merlin’s heart was joined in its excitement by his crotch.

“Certainly,” Gaius said. “He’s just gone into his room.”

Merlin heard Arthur’s boots as he crossed the floor, but the sound stopped when Gaius spoke again.

“Sire?”

“Yes, Gaius?” Arthur asked, and Merlin heard a short impatient sigh accompanying his master’s words.

“Forgive me, but - may I give you this?”

Merlin put his face up to the small hole in his door, allowing him to see out. He couldn’t see much, but it seemed that Gaius was handing Arthur a small bottle.

“What’s this?” Arthur asked.

Gaius’ voice was soft and conspiratorial. “I use it in particular patient examinations,” he told the Prince. “It smooths and lubricates the skin, easing access to certain internal areas.”

Arthur said nothing, and Merlin’s face flushed as he absorbed the implications of Arthur having this liquid in his possession.

“It also acts as a muscle relaxant,” Gaius added, secretively. “To relieve any tension during the more - thorough - physical examinations.”

There was complete silence, and for a moment Merlin was concerned that Arthur would get angry with Gaius for being so presumptuous.

“Just a good thing to hold onto, in case you ever need it,” Gaius concluded.

“Right,” Arthur said, eventually, after clearing his throat. “Thank you, Gaius.”

Merlin backed away from his door as Arthur resumed his journey towards it.

“Merlin? Can I come in?”

Merlin considered grabbing a book and lying on the bed looking nonchalant, but he couldn't move.

“Yes,” he called back.

Arthur entered the room, and closed the door behind him.

Merlin stood still, about three feet away. He was breathing heavily, and when Arthur slowly licked his lips, he felt quite light-headed.

“I thought, um…” he stammered. “I thought you didn’t need anything further from me tonight…”

Arthur shook his head. “Damn you, Merlin,” he muttered.

Two broad steps were all it took for Arthur to be in Merlin’s space. He put a hand up onto the side of Merlin’s face, and kissed him.

He kissed me! Merlin’s brain screamed. Oh sweet mercy, Arthur’s kissing me!

Merlin put his hands on Arthur’s hips, and kissed back; passionately and earnestly.

“Damn you…” Arthur repeated, in a whisper, lips still against Merlin’s.

Hurriedly, the two men undressed each other, and ended up on Merlin’s creaky old bed.

Arthur lay on top of Merlin, and they rolled their hips against each other while they kissed, both of them getting harder and harder.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Merlin registered the sound of the main door closing, but he was far too distracted by the tongue massaging his own, and the naked Prince grinding on top of him to give it much thought.

“Oh, my Lord…” he murmured, as Arthur's mouth moved down to his neck and collarbone.

Never in all his relatively short life had Merlin felt anything that even came close to this level of pleasure. Arthur was strong and solid and confident, and each kiss that was laid on Merlin’s sensitive skin seem to set him alight. He closed his eyes and surrendered to the bliss.

“Wait,” Arthur suddenly said, and dismounted the bed.

Merlin propped himself up on his elbows to see where Arthur was going, hoping to glory that he hadn't decided to call it a night and go back to his chambers.

Fortunately, Arthur remained in the room, and seemed to be looking for something among his clothes.

“Aha!” he declared, triumphantly, and returned to stand at the edge of Merlin’s bed.

In Arthur's hand was the bottle Gaius has given him. The one that eased entrance into internal areas.

Well, then.

Merlin sat up and pivoted round to sit on the side of the bed. He gazed up at the Prince, who seemed uncharacteristically hesitant all of a sudden. Merlin put his hands on the top of Arthur's thighs, and pulled him towards his face. Keeping their eyes locked, Merlin stuck his tongue out, and licked.

Arthur made a sound that was half a gasp and half a moan, and the encouragement prompted Merlin to take Arthur completely into his mouth.

It was everything he'd been day-dreaming about, and more. Arthur was so hard and so smooth, and the taste was so intensely erotic, Merlin thought he might lose his mind.

Arthur had put his fingers through the hair on the back of Merlin's head, and was gently thrusting his hips as Merlin sucked him.

After a few ecstatic minutes, Arthur gently extracted himself from Merlin's mouth. He nudged at Merlin's shoulders to make him turn around and get back onto the bed.  

Merlin crawled up onto the straining mattress, feeling thrilled but extremely undignified. On all fours, presenting himself like an animal. The threatening shame was quickly smothered by ecstasy, as he felt Arthur's strong hands on his thighs and buttocks.

Whatever was in that bottle turned out to be worth its weight in gold. Merlin felt the cold wet press of Arthur's finger against that part of his body that had, up until now, been ‘exit only’. He instinctively clenched up, but the royal digit entered his body smoothly and with almost no pain.

As Arthur moved that finger, and gradually added more, Merlin wanted desperately to cry out in pleasure. He bit his lip to stop himself; he couldn't risk anyone hearing them. He didn't want to do anything that might damage Arthur's reputation, and he also didn't want Arthur thinking he had no more decorum than a common harlot.

He was powerless to stop the soft whimpers and involuntary little groans, however. He hoped Arthur wouldn't mind them.  

Arthur suddenly pulled his fingers out, and Merlin had no time to mourn their loss before his body felt a decidedly bigger intrusion. Clearly smothered in Gaius’ blessed potion, Arthur's cock slid into Merlin with minimal resistance.

Merlin closed his eyes, and decided that if he were to die right there and then, he might not actually mind.

Arthur's grip on Merlin's hips was tight, and he fucked hard. It was primal and animal, and Merlin had to clutch the sheets to stop himself being pounded right off the bed and out through the window.

Encasing Arthur, being used by Arthur, serving him in this most base way - it felt very natural and right. And so, so good. It was what Merlin had wanted since the day they met, though he hadn't realised it until today.

Damn it but I wish I could see his face...

Arthur made virtually no sound, save the heavy breaths and occasional grunt.

The voice in Merlin's head was chanting; “yes, yes, yes!” with every thrust, and the friction of his cock along the sheet beneath his body pulled a shuddering climax from him.

He felt his body tighten round Arthur, and the Prince came to a shaky halt as he hit his own peak inside Merlin’s warm body.  

Arthur remained inside him for a little while, circling his hips as the heart rates of both young men returned to normal.

When Arthur at last removed himself, Merlin collapsed onto his bed, feeling extremely satisfied. He rolled himself over to look at the man who had just taken what Merlin had never expected to give.

Arthur was fumbling with his clothes, and seemed reluctant to make eye contact.

“Are you alright?” Merlin asked.

“Yes,” came the tart reply, as Arthur got his shirt back on over his head, pulling it down roughly.

“Let me help you,” Merlin said, moving to crawl off the bed.

“There's no need…” Arthur began, but Merlin ignored him.

He assisted the Prince with getting his trousers, boots and jacket back on, and pretended not to hear Arthur's sighs of objection. He was also fighting very hard to ignore what was currently escaping his body and dribbling down one thigh.

Adjusting Arthur's collar put Merlin's face very close to his master’s, and the proximity felt extremely marked, given what they'd just done.

Merlin cleared his throat and took a step back. As he did so, he slipped on something and nearly fell. Arthur's quick reflexes and strong hand caught him just in time.

“Careful!” Arthur scolded, but didn't let go of Merlin's arm.

Merlin looked down to see which inanimate object had been trying to sabotage him. It was Gaius’ bottle. He bent down to pick it up, and slid it into Arthur's breast pocket.

For next time… he wanted to say, but hoped instead that the look in his eyes would transmit that wish for him. Suddenly very aware that he was utterly naked, Merlin swallowed and reached for his blanket.

“Well, goodnight, my Lord,” he said, pulling the coarse material around him and sitting on the bed.

“Goodnight, Merlin,” Arthur replied, eyes slightly wider than usual, but voice steady and regal as always.

Chapter Text

Armouries were dark, cold, and mildly threatening places. They were for storing weapons and chainmail, and there was nothing else to them.

They certainly weren’t for covert hand-jobs up against walls, which was exactly what this particular one was currently being used for.

Merlin had been all over Arthur as soon as the other Knights had left. All it had taken was Arthur locking eyes with his servant, and licking his lips, before Merlin had asserted his hand unceremoniously down the front of Arthur’s trousers.

Arthur had leaned - or let himself be pushed, he couldn’t exactly remember - back against the wall, and let Merlin work him over. Merlin’s face was against Arthur’s neck, not kissing him, but just breathing hard, and Arthur could feel Merlin’s lips and skin.

It all felt really bloody good.

“Merlin, I'm… I’m going to…”

“Yes, yes, come on… come on... for me… just for me.”

For me…

Arthur didn't have time to consider the possessiveness and intimacy of those words before he released into Merlin’s fist with a soft, sharp cry. Merlin worked his hand slowly as Arthur came down, then he removed it, and readjusted Arthur’s shirt to cover the damp incrimination.

“That - “ Arthur began, voice still more breath than sound. “ - was risky.”

Merlin smiled a naughty smile, and quirked an eyebrow. His face was still close to Arthur’s, and Arthur found that he was really starting to like that.

The Prince licked his lips, and frowned a little as he studied the expression currently colouring his servant’s face.

“Honestly, Merlin, sometimes you look at me as though I were a feast to be devoured.”

“Oh, but my Lord,” Merlin replied, with a faux-innocent smile. “You are.”

Arthur had no answer to that.

When he’d first taken Merlin that night the previous week, he had had to force himself to disconnect his body from his mind. He had started to think all sorts of inappropriate thoughts while he had had his fingers on and inside Merlin. Ridiculous, affectionate thoughts. He’d been touching and kissing Merlin as if this were a romantic arrangement. He blamed the way Merlin kissed, and the way he looked up at him with those big blue eyes while sucking him… it was confusing.

So, he’d detached himself from any and all emotions, and just drilled into Merlin, brutally, until he’d reached release.

Unfortunately, all that had served to do was make him feel guilty. He’d worried afterwards that he’d hurt Merlin. He’d also resented the fact that his virginity (and presumably Merlin’s as well) had been lost in such a way. He had read enough books and heard enough ballads to know that one’s first time is meant to be accompanied by candles and soft touches and declarations of…

Well. No matter. It’s done, now.

Still, Merlin didn’t seem to have objected. He was still looking at Arthur every day with that ‘want’ in his eyes.

As Arthur moved his hands from where they’d been gripping Merlin’s hips, he felt Merlin’s arousal through his trousers.

Merlin’s arousal.
Merlin.
Was aroused.

It was obvious really, when you thought about it. The male anatomy responded to stimulus; often at the utter disregard of one’s wishes on the matter. Of course Merlin’s body would be receptive to all this - he was a young man with needs, just as Arthur was.

Arthur could hear his father’s voice in his head telling him to pay no mind to his servant’s satisfaction, but Arthur wasn’t his father. He could not and would not treat his servants like slaves or animals. Especially not this one.

So, he slipped his hand inside Merlin’s clothes, and closed his fist around the hot, hard skin.

Merlin gasped with surprise, and put a hand up against the wall next to Arthur’s head to steady himself.

They were staring into each other’s eyes, and Arthur was mesmerised. Merlin was practically panting, and Arthur found himself wondering what sort of sounds he’d be making if they were able to do this uninhibited.

Gwaine had often remarked on the various noises he was able to pull from the women he bedded, and how the sign of a successful fuck is when your partner utterly loses themselves, vocally. Arthur had thus far not been able to generate more than a whimper from Merlin. Of course, it could be that Merlin was just very good at controlling it - certainly Arthur himself had had to stop himself screaming out in pleasure at times. Maybe Merlin was just doing the same thing. Holding it all back for the sake of propriety.

I want him to be enjoying this, Arthur thought. I want to know that he likes it. Come on Merlin, make a noise for me…

Arthur squeezed his hand, and firmed up his strokes.

Merlin emitted a small sound like a wounded animal, closed his eyes, and trembled a little as Arthur felt the wetness spill onto his knuckles.

Merlin dropped his head down onto Arthur’s shoulder, and Arthur heard him whisper; “Oh… oh, my…”

Arthur pulled his hand up out from Merlin’s clothes, and unsubtly wiped his messy fingers on the back of Merlin’s tunic.

Merlin looked up and raised an eyebrow. Arthur answered with a cocky, what-you-going-to-do-about-it expression.

Merlin looked like he was about to say something, but then obviously decided against it in favour of biting down on his lip. Arthur leaned his head back against the wall, feeling spent after the training session and the - well, this.

He kept his eyes on Merlin though, who inexplicably lifted his hand, and gently stroked his knuckles down the side of Arthur's face, along his jaw.

In the back of his mind, Arthur thought he should probably demand to know what Merlin thought he was doing, or push him away and tell him to keep his hands to himself unless otherwise requested. Instead, he found himself turning his head slightly into the touch, still maintaining this bizarrely profound eye contact with his servant.

“Arthur?” came a searching call, echoing down the corridor.

The two of them jumped, scrambled to resituate their clothing, and moved away to a non-suspicious distance.

Merlin turned away, and pretended to be hanging up some swords, while Arthur ran his hands through his hair and made his way hurriedly towards the sound of Leon’s voice.

He didn’t look back.

******

Merlin hated evenings like this. Uther had some horrible guests at the castle - some awful King from a neighbouring kingdom, and his equally awful Queen. They had brought with them a whole entourage of Knights, and there wasn’t a single shred of courtesy or good manners amongst them.

The Queen and her ladies-in-waiting had excused themselves quite early in the evening, haughtily shoving past Merlin as they made their way back to the guest chambers.

So now the main hall was just full of loud, drunk men, who were getting louder and drunker. All apart from Arthur, who was sitting next to his father, cringing at the proceedings. Once in a while he’d catch Merlin’s eye, and they’d exchange pained expressions.

The visiting King - whose name Merlin had completely forgotten - was getting more and more lecherous as the night drew on. He kept slapping the maids’ arses. It was lucky Gwen wasn't one of them or he'd have got a slap back.

Merlin was standing next to Arthur, replenishing Uther’s drink, when he saw the royal guest just brazenly grab one of the maid’s breasts.

“Watch what you’re doing!” Uther scolded, as Merlin accidentally spilled the wine he’d been pouring.

“Sorry - sorry,” he stammered.

Sorry I got distracted by your guest roughly groping my colleague… he wanted to say, but was instead forced by his social standing to keep his head down and his mouth shut.

“Bloody servants, Robert - utterly useless,” Uther complained to the visiting King.

“Not utterly…” the King replied, leering at the maid whom he still hadn’t released.

Uther chuckled, and King Robert turned to grasp his flagon of drink, allowing the poor girl to dash away to the safety of the kitchens.

“You’ve just gotta keep reminding them of their place,” he slurred, swigging a great gulp of wine.

Merlin successfully refilled Uther’s cup, and Uther eyed him with contempt.

“Quite,” the King of Camelot agreed.

Merlin turned towards Arthur, and held the jug up questioningly. Arthur shook his head, looking just as miserable as Merlin felt. Merlin wished he could whisk the Prince away to his chambers and cheer him up…

“This one’s all skin and bones!” King Robert bellowed, and Merlin looked up, mortified to find that he was the subject of this appraisal.

“Well, we don’t exactly invite him to the feasts,” Uther snarked.

King Robert pushed his chair back and stared past Uther at Merlin. He looked him up and down in a way that made Merlin’s skin crawl.

“You need to find the balance though, Pendragon,” Robert said, voice unsteady with the alcohol. “Can’t starve the buggers, or they have no energy to do what you need them to do.”

“Well, this one doesn’t do anything anyway,” Uther sneered. “Don’t know why Arthur’s so fond of him.”

Merlin felt his face flush with both embarrassment and annoyance.

“Father,” came Arthur’s welcome voice. “It is getting rather late, and we’re meant to be going on a patrol tomorrow morning.”

“Nonsense!” Robert shouted. “There’s still hours of drinking and feasting to fit in, lad!”

He banged on the table with his fists. “Music!” he yelled, and the court musicians sprang into action.

Merlin sighed. This was going to be a very long night.

Chapter Text

The journey up to Arthur’s chambers seemed extra long tonight. The stone steps seemed further apart than usual, and Arthur’s legs felt too heavy.

He wasn’t even drunk - he’d barely had more than a cup and a half of wine. The night had just dragged on and on, and it had been so loud. He hated King Robert with a passion. The man was rude and obnoxious, and even more arrogant than Uther. Arthur deeply resented being obliged to attend these interminable feasts for these dreadful men.

His Knights had had to really keep it together in order to avoid a fight, such was the boorishness of King Robert’s accompanying party. Arthur had twice seen Percival reaching for his sword, and having to be dissuaded by Elyan. Arthur had been as desperate as his men to defend the honour of the poor maidservants who were being felt up all night, but was compelled to ignore his moral compass for the sake of peace.

Fortunately, Gwinevere had spent most of the evening attending to Robert’s wife, because god help him Arthur would’ve upped arms without a second thought if anyone had laid a hand on her.

As Arthur reached the top of the stairs, he wondered where on earth Merlin had got to. Standard practice after these evenings was that he should come straight up and wait for Arthur at the end of the corridor, but he was nowhere to be seen.

There was a sudden loud thud from the guest chamber on Arthur's left, and a shout.

With his hand on the hilt of his dress sword, Arthur knocked, then opened the unlocked door. He hadn't registered whose room it was that he was barging into, until he saw King Robert standing there in a state of undress, with his hand around Merlin's wrist.

“Merlin?” Arthur said, suspicious and very worried.

He took in the scene a little more. A chair had been up-ended - maybe thrown across the room - and that must have been what had caused the noise that Arthur heard.

Merlin was bare-chested, seemingly because his clothes had been ripped off him. The remnants of his shirt still hung about his arms. There was a red mark on his face.

Arthur turned back to Robert with fury boiling in his throat.

“What - are you - doing?” he asked, through his teeth.

Robert still had a death grip on Merlin's arm, and he yanked him towards him.

“I'm trying to take my pleasure,” he sneered. “If you wouldn't mind, young Prince!”

Arthur took a step towards them, knowing how disastrous it would be to challenge one of his father’s friends, but not caring in the slightest. The belligerent oaf had hurt Merlin, and for that he would pay dearly.

“Unless,” Robert said, putting a sweaty hand in Merlin's hair and forcing his head back. “You want to share?”

Arthur tightened his grip on his sword.

“We could take turns,” Robert continued, his face far too close to Merlin's. “Pass him between us like a doll til we're sated, what do you say?”

“I say -” began the Prince, with barely contained bile colouring every word. “Take your hands off him if you wish to still be in possession of them come morning.”

Robert looked at Arthur curiously, apparently trying to deduce whether or not he was serious.

“I beg your pardon?” he said, removing his hand from Merlin's hair, but still holding onto his wrist.

Arthur took another step forwards. “I said, let him go, or you will not enjoy the consequence.”

King Robert turned his face up in disgust and surprise.

“How dare you!” he spluttered. “I'm a King, boy, and your guest! I can eat your food, I can drink your wine, and damn it if I want to fuck one of your servants, I can do that as well!”

Arthur unsheathed his sword and brandished it in a way which couldn't possibly be misinterpreted.

“No,” he said, surprising himself with how level his voice sounded. “You can't.”

At that moment, two of King Robert’s Knights appeared behind Arthur. He sensed them before he saw them out of his peripheral vision, and Robert’s face filled with smug victory.

“Oh dear,” he sneered. “You appear to be outnumbered.”

Arthur licked his lips. He could smell the wine coming off the men - outnumbered he may be, but two drunk idiots would really be no trouble.

“Run along to bed, little Pendragon,” Robert growled, pulling Merlin into him, so that Merlin's back was flush to the King's chest. “If you're nice and quiet, you'll be able to hear me ploughing your manservant…"

Arthur felt like he was going to be sick, as King Robert's hands travelled down Merlin's body. 

"Mmmm," Robert hummed, through a laugh. "He's going to love it, if I don't accidently snap him in half...”

Three things then happened almost simultaneously. Firstly, Robert stuck his tongue out to lick Merlin's face. Second, Arthur swung round to strike at the Knight on his right. Third, Sir Gwaine appeared as if from nowhere and punched the one on his left.

It didn't take long for Gwaine and Arthur to knock out the pair of visiting Knights, and when they were both down, Arthur turned back to King Robert. Who wasn't where he'd been a few moments ago.

Merlin was alone in the centre of the room, and the King was slumped, unconscious, in the corner, looking as though he'd been thrown at the wall, slid all the way down it and crumpled in a heap. Merlin was breathing heavily, as if he'd just exerted himself, but surely he hadn't fought off the King? Even inebriated, Robert was stronger and more experienced than Merlin… then again, fear can induce feats of incredible strength, and Merlin had looked very afraid.

“Are you alright, Merlin?” Gwaine asked, going to Merlin's side.

Merlin nodded, and looked at Arthur.

Arthur swallowed, wanting nothing more than to wrap his arms around his friend, but not wishing to do so in front of Gwaine.

“Impeccable timing, Sir Gwaine,” Arthur said, forcing himself to sound jovial.

"I was headed to bed," Gwaine replied, eyeing Merlin with concern. "I passed this room and saw a situation that looked like it could do with my involvement."

"Indeed," Arthur agreed. “Your involvement in combat is always welcome. But I'll take care of Merlin. You get some rest before morning patrol.”

Gwaine nodded, and clapped Merlin affectionately on the shoulder.

As the Knight passed Arthur on his way out the door, Gwaine muttered in his ear; “That bastard King didn't - did he? I'll fucking kill him…”

“No,” Arthur assured him, rage still buzzing around his veins. “He would have, but we stopped it. Thank you, Gwaine.”

Gwaine nodded, and headed off to his room.

Arthur looked at Merlin's face, and held his hand out. “Come on,” he instructed. “Come with me.”

Merlin took his hand, and let himself be silently led to the Prince's chambers.

* * 

“Honestly, I'm fine,” Merlin insisted for what felt like the nineteenth time.

He was sitting on the end of Arthur's bed, wearing the nightshirt that the Prince had flung at him.

Arthur was pacing around in anger, and kept coming over to Merlin to inspect and express his displeasure at the marks and bruises King Robert had left on his skin, then going back to pacing again.

The truth was, Merlin had never been in any real danger. Yes, Robert had slapped him and gripped him too tight, but had it gone any further, Merlin would have hit the horrible git with all the magic he could muster. In fact, he'd been about to when Arthur showed up. He'd sent a chair flying as a distraction, and was preparing to send Robert to sleep.

Merlin couldn't deny, however, that there was something extremely pleasing about having Arthur ‘rescue’ him. Knowing that Arthur had been prepared to take on an esteemed guest without a second thought just to protect Merlin.

They hadn't started off on a very good footing when they'd first met, and yes Arthur could occasionally behave like a total prat. But fundamentally he was a good man; maybe the best man Merlin would ever know. 

When the short fight had started, Merlin had waited til Arthur's back was turned, then summoned a spell to hurl the hateful King against the wall.

“I just - I can't believe - how dare he!” Arthur was ranting.

“It's fine,” Merlin repeated.

“It's NOT fine!” Arthur yelled.

Merlin looked at the floor. He was so tired.

“Merlin,” Arthur said, more softly now.

Merlin glanced up. Arthur sighed, pushed a hand through his hair, and came towards him.

He crouched down on the floor in front of Merlin, and put his hands either side of him on the bed.

“It's not fine,” he repeated, voice quiet but still fuelled with irritated energy. “He can't treat you like that, he can't touch you.”

Merlin swallowed. Having Arthur looking up at him like that was making him feel things.

“No one can touch you, Merlin, no one,” Arthur was saying, firmly. “I'm the only one who - “

He frowned, and didn't seem sure whether he should go on.

Merlin put a hand on Arthur's shoulder. “Yes,” he encouraged. “You're the only one allowed to touch me, Sire.”

Something in Arthur's eyes caught fire, and he stood up, urging Merlin to lie back.

As Merlin did so, he watched Arthur remove his upper garments.

Oh so you can do it by yourself… Merlin thought, with a smirk.

His heart beat faster at the sight of Arthur's chest and shoulders. The Prince really was a very, very attractive man.

“No one else,” Arthur muttered, as he draped his body over Merlin's.

Arthur was hard, and Merlin sighed with pleasure as he felt it against his leg. Arthur thrust and rolled his hips, evidently going for external satisfaction tonight.

Fine by me, thought Merlin.

He didn't care how it happened, just as long as it happened with him. Having Arthur on him would erase the disgusting memory of Robert’s hands and mouth.

“You're mine,” Arthur murmured in his ear. “You're mine…”

Merlin closed his eyes and wrapped his arms and one leg around Arthur's back. He met and matched Arthur's rutting motion, thinking how amazing it would be were they to peak at the same time.   

“Say it,” Arthur begged. “Say it, Merlin, say that you're mine… please…”

“I'm yours,” Merlin whispered, sincerely. “Yours, Sire, just yours… no one else gets to touch me, only you.”

Arthur groaned, and fucked against Merlin even harder. Merlin glowed inside, knowing that he could make his Prince feel so good just with these words.

“Mine, mine, m-mine…” Arthur was chanting.

“Yours,” Merlin agreed, breathlessly. “I belong to you, my Lord.”

“Oh!” Arthur exclaimed. “Yes, yes!”

Merlin didn't know whether the Prince’s sudden possessiveness was merely instinct, or a symptom of something deeper, but he really liked it. He did belong to Arthur, in all the ways one can belong to another person.

“Make me yours,” whispered Merlin. “Mark me, my Lord… so everyone can see…”

Arthur bit down on Merlin's neck, and sucked. Merlin clamped his teeth into his lower lip to keep from yelling out in ecstasy. He squeezed Arthur's shoulders and trembled through a dizzying climax.

Arthur was moaning into Merlin's skin, and his rhythmic movements faltered as he came against the inside of Merlin's thigh.

“Aaaaahhh… aaahh!”

Arthur shuddered and cried out as he emptied himself, and Merlin held onto him even tighter.

They lay wrapped in each other for a short while, then Arthur rolled off and away. Merlin felt bereft, and wished they could just curl up together and fall asleep. He was feeling understandably vulnerable, and didn't want to lose the comfort of Arthur's proximity.

He put his palm on his forehead, took a couple of centering breaths, then sat up, twisting his body round so that his feet found the floor.

“No,” Arthur said, from behind him.

Merlin turned his head. “No?”

Arthur reached up and grabbed Merlin's arm. He tugged him gently back down onto the pillows, and put an arm around his chest.

“No,” Arthur repeated, shuffling closer to Merlin so that their bodies were touching all down one side.

Merlin smiled, put his hand on top of Arthur’s, and closed his eyes.

Chapter Text

“Gwen knows,” announced Arthur, suddenly.

He had no idea what possessed him to share that information with Merlin right at this moment.

It hardly seemed the time or place, sheltering from the rain as they were, in a cave which would certainly be in the running for dankest and murkiest of the year, should a competition ever take place.

“Knows what?” Merlin asked.

They were standing against the rocky interior wall of the cave, still damp from where they hadn’t managed to outrun the downpour, and very close to each other for the sake of sharing body heat.

Arthur turned his head towards his servant, and felt a little thrill at the sight of the mark he’d left on Merlin’s neck in the throes of passion a few nights ago.

“Knows that we…” Arthur began, but the words seemed to get lost on the way from his brain to his mouth. “...well.”

Merlin didn’t look at him, but a small smile drew across his face.

“You’ve talked to her about it!” Arthur accused, almost fluent now in Merlin's micro-expressions.

Merlin sighed, and rested his head back against the rock.

“She asked me, directly,” he explained, calmly. “I’m not going to lie to her, am I? She's my friend.”

Arthur frowned.

When Gwen had broached the subject with him, she hadn’t seemed angry or jealous. She’d just stated it in passing.

“Merlin slept here again last night, then?” she’d said.

Arthur had stuttered and stammered, and nothing even remotely resembling coherent English had been forthcoming, and Gwen had just smiled at him.

Then she’d stepped close, and told him; “It’s alright, Arthur.”

She’d kissed him on the cheek and left the room. And that was that.

“What did she - say?” Arthur asked. He was curious to know whether she’d been a bit more candid with her feelings when discussing it with Merlin.

“She said,” Merlin began. “That she’s not a child, and she knows that the physical act of love isn’t always performed for the sake of actual love.”

Arthur swallowed, and was grateful that the dim light of their surroundings wouldn’t show the blush he felt on his cheeks.

“She said that she’s glad Arthur has such a good friend.”

There was something odd in Merlin’s tone, but Arthur didn’t really want to pull at that thread. They were far more than just friends; since all this began, his connection with Merlin had become something strange that defied definition.

‘The physical act of love’?

Certainly at the start it had all been for the sake of bodily gratification and nothing more - and even that would never have crossed Arthur’s mind had it not been for Uther’s suggestion. But the fevered rage that the Prince had felt when King Robert had had his hands on Merlin, and the subsequent all-consuming need to possess and protect; that was something Arthur had never experienced before. Then to wake with Merlin in his arms…

Arthur fought back the ridiculous notion that was marching determinedly from his heart towards his mind. No. Down that path lay madness.

“I - care for Gwen very deeply,” he said, quietly.

“Yes,” answered Merlin. “I know.”

“I do, um….” Arthur ran a hand through his wet hair, and coughed. “I do care for you, as well, Merlin.”

Merlin looked up at him, eyes wide and bright in the gloom.

Arthur got a bit stuck staring into those eyes, and had to force himself to look away.

“What I mean is,” he added. “You’re not just - I’m not merely… um, I hope you don’t think I’m just - using you.”

Merlin shook his head.

“Firstly, you’re perfectly entitled to use me, sire,” he said. “You’re the Prince.”

Arthur's jaw tightened. He kind of hated that sometimes. Why couldn’t he just be on a level setting with everyone else for a change?

“But it’s fine,” Merlin appeased. “I don’t feel used. Not at all.”

Arthur felt a stirring in his stomach.

“Do you - um…”

Do you enjoy it? Do you like me touching you? Do you think about me all day long like I do about you? Do you want me?

Arthur exhaled through his nose. He couldn’t ask any of that.

Instead, he settled on; "You’re always very quiet."

Merlin regarded him, quizzically.

“It’s difficult to know whether you’re…” Arthur paused, wishing he was capable of expressing just one clear and direct thought. “I always worry that you’re… oh damn it all, why can’t I SPEAK?!”

Merlin laughed a little, and moved to face his master.

“Sire,” he said, lightly placing his hand on Arthur’s shoulder. “Please don't mistake my silence for discontent or discomfort.”

Arthur licked his lips.

“I'm not quiet because I'm just enduring it til it's over, if that's what you're getting at,” Merlin continued. “I'm quiet because… well, three reasons actually.”

Arthur swallowed, face feeling warm. “And they are?”

Merlin smiled that secretive little smile that both annoyed and aroused Arthur in equal measure.

“Firstly, because I thought we had to be discreet,” Merlin explained.

Arthur could give him that one. “Well, yes, we -”

“Secondly,” Merlin continued, voice rumbling. “I thought you'd tell me off for being unseemly, if I started moaning underneath you like a whore.”

Arthur's jaw dropped a little at the very idea.

“And, lastly,” Merlin said, mouth just inches from the Prince's face. “I was afraid.”

“Af- afraid?” Arthur stammered. Damn this boy for making him lose his cool to such a degree.

Merlin's eyes had dropped.

“Afraid of what?” Arthur asked, softly.

“Of revealing how much I enjoy it,” Merlin responded, voice dropping to match Arthur’s volume.

“I didn't know if I was supposed to like it,” he added, lifting his eyes to look into the Prince’s. “The protocol of these things wasn't something in which I was ever, er, instructed.”

Arthur took a deep breath, swallowed hard, and tried in vain to steer the conversation back to safer ground.

“Well,” he attempted. “I'm - I'm relieved to hear that you don't… mind.”

A small smirk crept onto Merlin's mouth.

“No, sire,” he said. “I don't mind. I don't mind it when you fuck me.”

The temperature of Arthur's body ascended dramatically at the sound of Merlin saying that word.

Merlin leaned in even closer, lips brushing against Arthur’s neck, and lithe fingers on his belt.

“I don't mind it when you put yourself inside me…”

The rock at his back made Arthur feel slightly trapped, and all his Knightly instincts were telling him to fight; to defend himself. His wish to surrender to his baser desires, however, and let Merlin capture him like prey, was winning out.

He closed his eyes, and let Merlin expertly loosen his clothing.

Merlin continued in a dark, velvety voice.

“I don't mind it - when you just - take me…”

Arthur groaned, and put his hands up to hold onto to Merlin’s upper arms. All the lifting and carrying that Merlin did made this the strongest part of his slight frame, and Arthur thrilled at the muscles flexing beneath his fingers.

“I don't mind you taking what you need,” Merlin whispered in his master’s ear. “I don't mind it at all, because…”

He interrupted himself to kiss Arthur's neck, and Arthur's breath caught in the back of his throat.

“...I want to give it to you.”

Merlin's hand had found its way down the front of Arthur's trousers, and Arthur buckled a little with relief as his servant’s hand moulded itself to the hard shape it found in there.

“I would give you anything, Arthur,” Merlin continued, voice starting to sound strained with arousal.

“My body…”

Arthur moaned with the bone-deep pleasure of it all.

“...my life…”

Arthur's breathing was increasing in speed, and making his chest peak and fall like a wave.

“...my soul.”

The pressure reached boiling point, and Arthur pressed his mouth to Merlin’s, needing to taste and take and claim.

Merlin reciprocated immediately and passionately, his hand dislodging from inside Arthur's clothing as he was forced to hold onto the Prince’s hips for balance.

Arthur was pushing Merlin backwards over to the other side of the cave, the kiss and the Prince’s movements becoming more desperate.

The rain was still teeming down outside, and was now accompanied by the occasional roll of thunder.

Arthur pushed Merlin against the thick rock, to the left of where they'd come in. The moonlight caught the side of Merlin's face, highlighting his bloody perfect bone structure.

Arthur's usually steady hands scrambled to relieve Merlin of his lower garments, his efforts not helped by the fact that he could not stop kissing Merlin's lips.

He likes it, he said so, he enjoys it, thank heaven...

Finally, all obstructive clothing was out of the way, and Arthur forced himself to release Merlin's mouth, so that he could turn his servant around. Merlin folded his arms on the rock and braced himself against them. He arched his back, and slightly bent his knees.

Arthur ran his hands down Merlin's waist and hips, and allowed himself the indulgence of squeezing Merlin's behind. It was immensely satisfying, like kneading fresh dough.

Arthur had a sudden urge to bend down to bite and lick Merlin there, but surely there had to be some limits.

Merlin released a low groan, and Arthur realised he was essentially just standing in a cave massaging his servant’s arse.

He gave himself a mental shake, took hold of his engorged cock, and pressed his body to Merlin's. He kissed Merlin’s neck and cheek to try and soothe the imminent intrusion.

Merlin whimpered a little as Arthur breached him, and Arthur fought back his searing lust so that he could enter Merlin's body as slowly as possible. The last thing he wanted on this earth was to cause Merlin any pain.

When he felt Merlin's body relax, Arthur grabbed his hips and took him, in earnest.  

“Oohhhh…”

Merlin cried out a little, then seemed to stop himself.

“It's alright, Merlin,” Arthur told him, breathless. “You don't have to be quiet now… I - I want to hear you…”

Merlin pushed himself back from the rock a little, and reached down to take hold of his cock.

The concept of Merlin pleasuring himself while being fucked was one which Arthur found to be tantalisingly thrilling, and he felt himself get a little harder, if that was even possible.

“Oh - oh god, Merlin…” Arthur breathed. “This feels… you feel - so good.”

Arthur increased his speed, feeling like he was chasing, hunting… The angle at which he’d been inside Merlin changed, and Merlin let out a spontaneous scream of pleasure.

“Aaaaahhhhh!”

Arthur almost came instantly at the sound, but managed to pull his pleasure back from the precipice.  

He moved his hands up to Merlin's waist and held on tightly. He folded himself over to kiss and mouth at his servant’s neck and jaw.

Merlin was emitting a stream of cries, gasps and moans, loud enough to compete with the hammering rain, and Arthur's body lit up inside with each one.

“Oh… yes, my lord! Fuck me, fuck me… Yes, yes… YES!”

Hearing Merlin exclaim like that; uninhibited and with such raw abandon, was the most amazing thing, and Arthur felt like he couldn’t breathe.

Merlin's body started to shake, and he clenched around Arthur's cock.

“I’m coming, I’m coming! I’m - aaaaahhhh - yes!”

The pride Arthur felt at inducing such a climax propelled him into his own. And it was damn loud.

Chapter Text

“Merlin!” Gaius snapped. “For the last time, stop biting your fingernails!”

Merlin scowled, and took his hand away from his mouth. He drummed his fingers agitatedly on the table, and his leg jiggled, compulsively.

Gaius sighed, and closed the large book he'd been studying.

“What is it?” he asked, sitting back in his chair.

“Nothing,” Merlin answered, futilely.

“Merlin.”

Merlin rolled his eyes, and folded his arms defensively across his chest. “Nothing you can do anything about,” he corrected.

Gaius eyed him, carefully, and pursed his lips in contemplation.

“Perhaps not,” he conceded. “But talking can be a very helpful tonic, Merlin.”

Merlin's brow furrowed, and he shifted uncertainly in his chair. He could always talk to Gaius about things; he trusted him completely and valued his opinions. So why was this so difficult?

Possibly because he’d never before had to confess his passionate desire for a man who was not only his superior, and the future King, but someone whose destiny was inextricably woven with Merlin’s own, for reasons known only to crazy people who write prophecies and legends.

It wasn’t really a situation with any precedent.

Fortunately, Gaius saved Merlin the trouble of having to form all of that into words.

“It's Arthur, isn't it?”

Merlin looked up.

Gaius smiled, a little sadly. “I'm old, Merlin, but I'm not blind,” he said. “Or deaf, for that matter.”

The physician shifted a little in his chair, and his eyes darted briefly to Merlin's bedroom door. Merlin blushed at the thought of his pseudo-Father hearing the creaking bed, and all the muffled moans and groans…

He cleared his throat. “I, er - yes. Yes, fine. It's Arthur.”

Gaius nodded. “Has he upset you?”

“No,” Merlin replied, quickly. “No, he's -” he smiled, fondly. “- he saved me.”

“Saved you?”

“When King Robert was here,” Merlin explained. “He tried to - to take me, and Arthur wasn't having any of it.”

“Merlin, why didn't you tell me!”

“I didn't want to worry you.”

Gaius looked appalled.

“It's alright,” Merlin said, eager to clear the trouble from his old friend's face. “I would've used my magic on him if it came to it - well, actually I did, when Arthur and Gwaine weren't looking. I flung him against a wall.”

Merlin couldn't help the smug satisfaction in his voice - it had felt really good to send the horrible bastard flying across the room.

“No wonder he left in such a hurry,” Gaius mused.

Apparently, King Robert and his wife had returned to their kingdom early on the morning after the feast. Gwen told Merlin that the King seemed more grumpy than usual, and more than a little embarrassed. According to the Knights, he'd muttered something to Uther about disobedient servants and stupid Princes, and just buggered off.

Merlin himself had been asleep at the time, in a bed which was more comfortable than he could ever have imagined. He had woken with Arthur's arm across his chest, and with an ankle hooked around his own. He'd never been happier in his whole life, and having to leave had been excruciating.

The way Arthur had been so protective and so fiercely possessive of Merlin that night had been intoxicating.

Then, yesterday, taking shelter from the rain together had somehow resulted in screaming physical ecstasy - so potent that the two of them had actually exited the cave hand in hand before they both remembered themselves.

Merlin didn't want to share that particular detail with Gaius. It felt too precious a moment. He wanted to hold it close and private. 

“We've - changed,” he offered, quietly. “Arthur and me. It's not the same any more.”

There was a thick silence.

“You've been sleeping in his chambers,” Gaius observed.

Merlin nodded, looking down at the table.

“That’s most unusual, Merlin. I'm sure you realise that.”

Merlin flicked his eyes up to Gaius’ face, which was sporting a kind but concerned expression.

“Only Queens or courtesans sleep in the royal bed,” the old man pointed out.

He clasped his hands together, and seemed to be searching for words.

“You're clearly very special to Arthur,” he said, and Merlin glowed.

“But,” Gaius added, with an emphatic finger. “Whatever it is that's blossoming between you, Merlin - I fear it can't go on indefinitely.”

A dark ball of fear appeared in Merlin's gut.

“He will marry, one day,” came Gaius’ gentle voice. “It's not to be, Merlin.”

Utterly unbidden, tears began to form in Merlin's eyes.

It was absurd, really. Gaius hadn't said anything that he didn't already know. His relationship with Arthur had been a whirlwind - from despising him to becoming his friend, to now falling head over heels for him. It was all too much.

And Gaius had warned him not to get attached.

“Merlin,” Gaius said, softly. He put his hand on top of Merlin's, by way of comfort and support.

It didn't help at all.

“You'll find someone, too, you know,” Gaius said.

The very idea made Merlin feel ill.

Who?! he wanted to shout. Who in this world will ever make me feel like he does? Who can look at me the way he can, and kiss me like there's nothing else he'd rather do?

“I can't imagine wanting anyone else,” Merlin confessed, and the truth of it stung. “Ever.”

Gaius didn't respond.

"I just want Arthur,” Merlin insisted. “I - I love him. I'm in love with him.”

Silence descended again.

Merlin waited for Gaius to tell him that it wasn't love, that it was merely infatuation. Or to reiterate that it was entirely pointless and that he must get over it immediately.

His predictions turned out to be wildly inaccurate, because what Gaius actually said was; “I do miss the days when you'd come to me with problems about errant pixies.”

Merlin looked at him in surprise, then laughed out loud. Gaius did, as well, and it was a relief to break the atmosphere.

“Oh, I know,” Merlin said, with a chuckle and then a sniff. “Magic is a cinch compared to unrequited love. Give me dragons and trolls any day.”

“You're sure it is unrequited?” Gaius asked.

Merlin opened his mouth to say 'yes, of course', but closed it again.

Because in actual fact, he wasn't sure. He had seen flashes of what definitely passed as affection. In the armoury one time, Merlin had stroked Arthur's face in a post-climatic daze, and the look they'd shared had been layered with, well, something. Merlin could have happily stayed there all day, just staring at Arthur’s lovely face.

“It doesn’t matter even if it’s not, does it?” Merlin said, sadly. “Like you said, it’s not meant to be, so…”

“I’m just thinking that if Arthur is struggling with this, as you are,” Gaius mused. “Who is he talking to about it? He can’t go to his Father, and he has no older brothers, and all of the men he would consider his friends are technically under his command. Talking to them about matters of the heart would be entirely inappropriate.”

Merlin frowned. Poor Arthur; he really didn’t have anyone he could confide in about this.

It had never occurred to Merlin before, but Arthur was probably the loneliest person he knew. No other young Princes ever came by; he didn’t ever travel to visit any childhood friends - the only people he could truly be himself with were Gwen and Merlin. And both of those relationships had to be covert, because Uther didn’t approve of his son being close with servants.

“Whatever you currently are to him, Merlin,” suggested Gaius, cutting through Merlin’s thoughts. “You’re also his best friend. Much as the stubborn boy would likely never say it out loud.”

Merlin smiled a little.

“And, although I maintain that this arrangement should end for both your sakes,” Gaius continued. “I would suggest an honest conversation about how you feel. The two of you must always be able to trust each other.”

Chapter Text

Arthur was really running out of plausible reasons to go into the woods with Merlin.

There were only so many times he could conveniently schedule a training session for the Knights at the same time that he ‘suddenly needed to go on a quick afternoon patrol and oh dear Merlin's the only one available to accompany me’.

The excuses were getting more and more feeble, and he suspected that they might be onto him. Certainly Gwaine had shot them both some very suspicious eyebrows lately - the flirting was getting a bit overt.

Today, Arthur had tried a new tactic, and told his father that he was taking the afternoon off from the responsibilities of court, and treating himself to an isolated picnic by the river. Of course, he couldn't possibly be expected to serve up his own food, so Merlin would have to come along.

They'd ridden out together in the mild sunshine, and it had somehow turned into a race. Arthur had of course won with no problem, and had teased his servant about his riding ability. Merlin had then cheekily promised to show the Prince exactly how well he could ride, and that was how Arthur had ended up on his back on the picnic blanket, naked from the waist down, with Merlin sitting on his cock.

Merlin had taken total control, and had mounted Arthur with a brazen confidence that rendered the Prince powerless, and hopelessly turned on.

Arthur had his hands on Merlin’s hips, and was staring up at him, slightly awed. He thanked the gods that he’d snuck the bottle of Gaius’ smoothing potion into his saddle-bag.

Merlin had his hands on top of Arthur's, and was using his thighs to rhythmically lift and drop his body, muscles tight around Arthur's cock. He was biting his lip, and periodically making small moans and whimpers.

He was gazing down at Arthur, but every now and then his face tightened with pleasure and his eyes would scrunch up. They always connected immediately with Arthur's again when he opened them, though.

Merlin's face seemed extra appealing today - everything about it was tugging at Arthur's affections. The eyes, the cheekbones, his lovely soft skin.

It occurred to Arthur that, in all the times they’d engaged in these penetrative antics, they'd never before been able to see each other's faces. Usually he was taking Merlin from behind, or rutting against him with his face buried in Merlin's neck.

Arthur was torn between the nerves of suddenly feeling exposed and vulnerable, and the joy of being able to watch Merlin come undone on top of him.

“Merlin,” he panted. “You look - very - striking - like this...”

Merlin answered with a coy smile, then raised Arthur's left hand up to his face. Keeping his eyes on the Prince’s, Merlin pulled two of Arthur's fingers into his mouth. He licked and sucked on them, and Arthur was mesmerised.

Merlin's long tongue and pouty lips often featured in the young Pendragon’s dreams, and this little display was going to send him hurtling into climax far too soon if he didn't get a grip.

Keen to reclaim some regal authority, Arthur reluctantly withdrew his fingers, and put both his hands firmly on Merlin's behind. Time to stop passively receiving, and instead give as good as he was getting.

He pulled his knees up and planted his feet on the ground, in order to give himself more leverage for upward thrusting.

He fucked hard into Merlin, smiling at the surprised yelp he induced, as his servant was knocked off balance. Merlin fell forward, and held onto the outside of Arthur's shoulders.

“Oh, oh… OH!” Merlin moaned, his face hovering just above Arthur's.

That bloody gorgeous face. Those stupid bloody lips that I'm definitely addicted to.

“Kiss me,” Arthur whispered.

Damn, he thought, closing his eyes. I didn't mean to say that out loud. Nice, Arthur, very attractive, begging to be kissed like some pitiful damsel…

His train of thought was derailed by Merlin's mouth pressing against his. Merlin parted his lips, and Arthur forgot his embarrassment, and followed suit. Their mouths were slowly opening and closing against each other, in soft contrast to the rougher actions of their bottom halves.

Merlin put that tongue back to work inside Arthur's mouth, and Arthur opened his eyes. Merlin's were closed, and Arthur felt briefly overwhelmed by the intimacy. Merlin's hand was cradling the Prince’s face, and Arthur was making soft sobbing noises which probably sounded utterly pathetic, but he couldn't help it.

The kiss ended only when Merlin's pleasure caused him to break away with a blissed-out cry.

“Oh, yes!” he mumbled, forehead against Arthur's. “Oh, my lord… you feel amazing… so amazing inside me...”

Arthur was sweating and he was getting tired, but he couldn't slow down. Merlin was getting close to the peak, he could feel it.

“Merlin,” he breathed. “Wait for me.”

Merlin lifted his head and looked down at Arthur. His expression was unclear, but Arthur was even more struck by how unfeasibly handsome he was.

No, not handsome. Something else…

“You want us to get there together?” Merlin asked, voice wavering with every one of Arthur's thrusts.

“I'm almost there,” Arthur told him, breathless. “Just hold on a little longer for me, p- please…”

Merlin ran a hand through the hair falling into Arthur's face, and kissed him again.

“Of course I'll wait for you,” he said, secretively and passionately. “I - I, oh Arthur, I…”

He cut himself off with another kiss, and Arthur’s climax began to crest. He reached down to touch Merlin’s cock, and Merlin gasped.

It took some concentration on his coordination, but Arthur stroked Merlin to ecstasy at the same time as making the ascent himself.

“YES!” Merlin cried against Arthur's jaw. “Oh, don't stop, don’t stop, please, please…”

“I'm coming,” Arthur sobbed. “Merlin, M- Merlin!”

He felt the release pour from his body, just as his fingers felt the pulsing orgasm from Merlin's cock.

“Aaaaaaaahhhh!”

Utterly uninhibited now, Merlin screamed loud enough to wake the dead, and Arthur was grateful they'd chosen a spot far from civilisation.

They held each other as they came down, breathing hard and shaking a little.

Merlin was evidently not done with the kissing side of things, because he was sleepily and softly placing languid kisses on Arthur's lips and cheeks.

This was so far removed from Arthur's original intention. He should have known that he was in trouble right from the day when he'd first engaged Merlin's 'assistance'. He'd come so hard that day that he'd felt dizzy, and that had only been with Merlin's hand.  

When they were both finally back on the planet, and Arthur had slipped out of Merlin's body, Merlin dismounted and lay next to his master on the blanket.

He stayed close, arm around Arthur's middle, right leg over his shin, and head on his shoulder.

Arthur put his arm round his servant, and refused to give an audience to the voice in his head telling him that allowing this couple-esque cuddling was both insane and emotionally hazardous.

Merlin hummed, happily, and snuggled even closer.

“Well, Merlin,” Arthur said, blinking up at the bright sky. “You win. I concede. You are an accomplished rider, after all.”

Merlin chuckled. “At last my talents are being acknowledged.”

“And,” Arthur continued. “We've now worked up an appetite for the picnic.”

Merlin propped himself up on one arm, and smiled such a smile at Arthur.

Beautiful. Arthur decided. Merlin's face really is beautiful.

“Maybe we should get dressed, first,” Merlin suggested. “My arse is getting cold.”

Arthur was on the verge of making a lewd comment about warming it up again, when his hunting ears pricked up.

“Do you hear a horse?” he asked Merlin, suddenly panicking.

The last thing he needed was for them to be caught with their trousers round their ankles by a random farmer or peasant. Not exactly an inspiring image of your future King.

They both sat up, but before they had a chance to re-clothe and investigate the noise, it was too late.

“Well, fucking hell,” came a familiar voice. “That's not a sight I expected to see today.”

* * * *

Merlin decided a while ago that he hated jousting. It involved far too much running around, for one thing. The endless swapping of lances and running after horses and patching up of helmets…

For another thing, it played havoc with his nerves. Watching Arthur get mildly injured on a regular basis was an occupational hazard, but Merlin still couldn't bear it. He had to look away most of the time to stop himself going full Wizard-mode on the poor men with whom Arthur was in non-mortal combat. Standing back and letting the Prince get hurt went against every instinct Merlin had, and he couldn’t wait til this tournament was over.

He had just got Arthur ready for the next bout, and just before the helmet went on, Arthur shot Merlin a wink which made him blush, and sent a tingle all up his legs.

He jogged off to stand behind the fence, leaned forward on his arms with his hands clasped together, and nervously licked his lips. He'd just started to distract himself by fantasising about the bath he’d be giving Arthur later on, when he felt someone else lean on the wooden panel next to him.

He turned his head, and was met by Sir Gwaine’s knowing smile.

A smile which he hadn't wiped off his face since he'd caught Merlin and Arthur 'in flagrante delicto' in the woods three days ago.

“Bloody knew it - Percy owes me a flagon of wine!" he'd declared, triumphantly, as the two of them had scrambled to cover their respective dignity.

Arthur had sworn Gwaine to secrecy, even though he had insisted that no one would think any less of either of them for it. 

“Merlin,” he greeted.

“Hello,” Merlin said, with a wry smile, waiting for the teasing to start.

“Enjoying the sunshine?” Gwaine asked. “And, of course, the opportunity to gaze dreamily at your heroic and undefeated lover?”

Merlin glowered at him. "Funny,” he remarked, dryly. “Did you just stand there to make fun of me or are you here to gaze dreamily at him, as well?”

Gwaine laughed, heartily. Merlin always did like that sound. He liked Gwaine, in fact. Not as much as he liked Arthur, obviously, but Gwaine was very handsome and charming, and very brave. 

“He’s a good-looking lad, I’ll give you that,” Gwaine conceded. “Hair too short and breasts too small for me, but if I were in the market for a man, he’d certainly be in the running.”

Merlin smiled, as Arthur and the other Knight prepared to begin.

Despite Gwaine’s glee at having something new to rib Merlin about, he was actually very understanding and supportive of the whole situation. He didn't seem to be in the least bit shocked or disgusted.

“So, you don’t find the idea of two men together unnatural, then?” Merlin asked, glancing around to make sure no one else was listening.

Gwaine shrugged. “Makes no difference to me,” he answered. “If two people can make each other happy, then who cares what's going on under their breeches? There’s not enough pleasure in this world, so get it where you can, I say.”

Merlin sighed a little and looked down at his hands.

Everyone still thinks it’s just about sexual pleasure. 

The sound of hammering hooves and shouts from the crowd made him look up. He watched Arthur keep his perfect hold and posture as he galloped. Merlin winced as the lance connected, but Arthur was victorious yet again, and the crowd cheered as he slowed his horse, and turned ready for the return journey.

Merlin beamed with pride.

“Merlin?” came Gwaine’s inquisitive voice.

“Mmm?”

“What is Arthur, to you?”

Merlin looked into the Knight’s eyes, trying to understand the question.

“What do you mean?”

Gwaine smiled, and looked over at the Prince.

“What is he?” he repeated, tone and volume low. “Sum him up in one word.”

Merlin frowned, and followed Gwaine’s eyeline to where Arthur had just set off again, horse pounding the ground, and lance perfectly poised.

“He's - he’s everything.”

There was a pause, and out of the corner of his eye, Merlin saw Gwaine nodding a little.

Then the Knight nudged Merlin, hard, with his upper arm.

“Bout’s over, squire,” he said, voice back to light joviality. “Go help him out of that armour, and try to control yourself in the tent, alright?”

Chapter Text

This was a terrible idea.

Arthur had had some pretty awful ideas in his life, but this really was a rock-solid dungheap of an idea. He just couldn’t stop himself.

He was meeting with Gwinevere in less than ten minutes. He had invited her up to his room to share a clandestine light supper.

A light supper which had been delivered by Merlin.

Having laid the table, Merlin had gone to the window in order to close it and draw the curtain. Arthur had walked over to where his servant was tugging the heavy material across the frame, pressed in close to his back, and started kissing his neck.

Terrible idea.

Because Gwen would be up here any minute, and Arthur had his cock against Merlin’s behind, and his hands squeezing Merlin’s sides like he had all the time in the world.

“We can’t…” Merlin whispered. “There isn’t time…”

Arthur ignored him, and ran his right hand round to Merlin's stomach, then down to the tangible evidence of his servant’s arousal. He cupped that hand and pressed down, and Merlin groaned.

“You get so hard for me, don't you, Merlin?”

Merlin whined with need as Arthur’s other hand slid down his ribs and waist to his hip.

“Are you ever this hard for anyone else?” Arthur demanded, lips brushing Merlin's jaw.

“N- never…” answered Merlin, tipping his head back and closing his eyes. “Only for you, my Lord - I just get hard for you...”

Arthur slid his hand up under Merlin's chin, stroking the left-hand side of his neck with his thumb. The long, luscious expanse of skin running from Merlin's shoulder up the other side of his neck to his face was irresistible. Arthur kissed and licked it like a starving man who'd been let loose on the buffet.

“I want you,” he growled, between kisses. “Fuck, Merlin, I need you so much…”

“Not now,” Merlin protested, feebly. “Gwen - you’re having supper with - ”

Arthur spun Merlin around, held his face, and kissed him, desperately.

Merlin surrendered to it, making a helpless noise into Arthur's mouth, then returned the kiss, matching Arthur's passion.

Logic eventually persuaded Arthur to pull himself away, and he rested their foreheads together, forcing his breath back to normal and willing the same of his cock.

“Sorry,” he breathed. “Can’t keep my hands off you.”

Merlin removed Arthur’s hands from his face, and held them as he addressed the Prince. “You can put these hands back on me as much as you like, when you’re not having a romantic supper with your girlfriend.”

He headed for the door, but Arthur wasn’t having that tone of voice.

“Merlin!”

Merlin stopped, but didn’t turn around.

“Are you - jealous?"

Arthur saw Merlin’s shoulders sag a little. He turned back around, face defiant.

“Of course I’m jealous,” he spat, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “She gets wined and dined in soft candlelight, and I get fucked roughly against trees!”

Arthur was shocked into a brief silence, then he felt himself get angry.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” he retorted, sarcastically. “Did you want me to escort you on my arm to a bloody banquet?”

Merlin huffed a bitter laugh, shook his head, and made for the door again.

“Or would you prefer it if I were fucking her against trees?” Arthur demanded.

Merlin froze with his hand on the door handle. He turned his face in Arthur’s direction, but made no eye contact.

“What I would prefer,” he said, quietly, but with anger sizzling under every word. “Is to not be your shameful secret. My Lord.”

He pulled the door open, just as Gwen appeared on the other side. She smiled, happily, blissfully ignorant of what she was walking into.

“Hello, Merlin,” she greeted.

Merlin stormed past her, without a word, and she looked at Arthur with concern.

“What’s the matter with him?” she asked, coming into the chamber and closing the door behind him.

Arthur rubbed a hand over his face, and breathed out through pursed lips.

“We, er… we just had a minor disagreement,” he said. “He’s a bit annoyed with me, but, um, he’ll get over it.”

I hope.

Arthur knew that he’d only snapped because Merlin had touched a nerve. Of course he’d love the opportunity to get all romantic with the infuriating boy, but it was hardly that simple, was it? Good grief, it was difficult enough sneaking Gwinevere up here, never mind trying to orchestrate a candlelit dinner for him and his bloody manservant. It was preposterous.

“I’m sure he’ll be fine by tomorrow,” Gwen offered, with a smile.

Arthur didn’t answer, and his worry must have shown on his face because Gwen came close and squeezed his forearm.

“It’s alright,” she comforted. “He might be cross now, but it won’t last. Merlin adores you, you know that.”

Arthur forced himself to smile.

“Yes,” he agreed.

Focus on Gwinevere. Sort Merlin out later.

“Please, sit down,” he told her, pulling a chair out for her.

They ate together and talked, and, after Arthur had successfully put Merlin out of his mind, it was as effortless and fun as it always was.

Until Gwen decided to turn the subject back around.

“I should take these plates down with me,” she suggested. “I don’t think Merlin will be back for them tonight.”

“You’ll do no such thing,” Arthur insisted. “He can get them in the morning.”

Gwen finished off her drink and set the cup down. “I imagine Gaius will be surprised to see him tonight,” she said, with a knowing smile. “Makes a change for him to sleep in his own quarters.”

Arthur shifted nervously in his chair. It was one thing that Gwen knew about his arrangement with Merlin; it was another thing entirely if she wanted to actively discuss it.

“I don’t mind, you know,” she said. “I mean, it’s not my place to mind one way or the other, since you and I aren’t, well…”

She took a breath, and smiled at him. “What I mean is, I have no claim to your fidelity, and even if I did - I understand that men have needs.”

Arthur squirmed.

“Needs that I would be unable to fulfil,” Gwen continued. “Unless we were married. Which we’re not. And probably never will be, so…”

She sighed, presumably impatient with herself for getting tongue-tied. Arthur knew the feeling.

“I gather that abstinence is not always the healthiest option for a young man,” she said, calmly. “Some men would visit brothels and all sorts, so I’m relieved you’re able to abate your urges with Merlin’s help.”

Arthur bit his lip. It bothered him to hear Merlin spoken of as if he were just an insignificant receptacle.

“Gwinevere,” Arthur began, enjoying as he always did, that beautiful name on his lips. “Forgive me, but - you're wrong.”

She looked up, smiling but confused.

“Wrong about what?”

Arthur deliberated the correct way to start this, then let out a determined sigh. He put down his drink, and moved from his chair opposite her, to the one right next to her. He leaned forward to hold her hand.

He licked his lips, and took a deep breath.

“What I'm about to tell you - “ he said, carefully. “ - might well result in you changing your opinion of me.”

Gwen frowned, and shook her head, but Arthur held up a hand to silence her before she spoke. He didn't want her to say anything until he'd finished. When she sat back in compliance, he rested that hand upon the other one, clasping hers, hoping this wouldn't be the last time she'd let him.

“But, it would be a disservice to you were I to give you anything less than complete honesty,” he told her.

He swallowed, licked his bottom lip again, and took the plunge.

“When I'm with Merlin… it isn't just meaningless, mechanical gratification.”

Arthur stared resolutely at his hands, not prepared to see Gwen’s reaction until it was all out.

“He means so much more to me than that.”

Now that the truth was nudging at the wall of denial that Arthur had constructed, he decided that he may as well let it make a run for it. Guinevere would either understand or she wouldn't, and at least he would've said it out loud to someone. Lord knows there was no one else on whom to offload all this.

“I don't mean to be indelicate,” he added, apologetically. “and I'm so sorry if any of what I'm about to reveal causes you any pain… but the fact is that I - we - he has made me feel more wonderful than I realised was possible.”

Well. That was slightly more flowery than I intended. No going back, now.

“There is something between Merlin and myself that I don't quite understand. I don't know if I could ever adequately justify or explain it.”

Arthur's thumb was compulsively stroking up and down the back of Gwen’s hand as his thoughts made a dash for freedom through his mouth.

“It's so many things all at once - it's strange and new, while at the same time it feels ancient and familiar and eternal; it's intangible starlight but also it’s solid and it's strong; it's consuming and dizzying but so comforting and warm and I…”

Arthur's voice gave up as a lump formed suddenly in his throat.

He didn't dare look up, couldn't bear to see the hurt he was certain he'd just caused.

“Arthur,” Gwen said, voice so soft he couldn't refuse the unspoken command to look at her.

To his surprise, all he saw in Gwen’s face was her standard sweet smile, and those glorious eyes which always managed to be simultaneously maternal, sisterly and amorous.

She liberated one of her hands from underneath Arthur's, and gently wiped away a tear from his cheek. A tear he had no memory of producing.

He frowned, embarrassed.

“Thank you,” she said.

The frown on the Prince’s face turned into bewilderment.

“Thank you for your honesty,” Gwen clarified. “I've never heard you speak so plainly before. Ever.”

“I - I'm sorry, I…”

“Don't be sorry,” she told him, firmly. “Never be sorry for loving someone.”

Arthur felt his cheeks warm up, and he stammered out some sounds which were almost words, but not quite.

Gwen chuckled at his attempt.

“I'm afraid that's what it is, my Lord,” she said. “You love him.”

Arthur closed his eyes, and winced a little at the blindingly obvious revelation.

Damn. I love him.

He opened his eyes again and looked into Gwen’s face. She was still smiling, but she was definitely a little sad.

“I didn't mean to,” he told her.

She exhaled a laugh at the ridiculous defence.

“Well, I didn't mean to love you,” she countered. “But we can't help our foolish hearts.”

“Is it possible to love more than one person in that way?” Arthur asked, desperate for it to be so.

Gwen looked as if she were genuinely considering it.

“Perhaps,” she said, slowly. “Maybe lots of things are possible - if we just open ourselves up to them.”

Arthur smiled at her.

“You’re an amazing person, Gwinevere,” he said, sincerely. “I’m truly sorry for all this confusion.”

“I’m glad you shared it with me,” she told him. “But, honestly, Arthur, you do have a terrible habit of falling for people your father wouldn’t approve of…”

She smirked and raised an eyebrow, and Arthur grinned with relief that whatever they were, they were still friends first.

“Oh, god,” he said, putting his face in his hands. “I couldn’t make my life any more difficult if I tried, could I?”

Gwen put a hand on his knee, and gave it a light squeeze before standing up.

“Oh, I’m sure you’ll find a way,” she teased.

He looked up at her, and sat back heavily in his chair.

“Look,” Gwen said, with that quiet authority that belied her social station. “None of us knows what the future holds. The affection I have for you will never change, nor will the affection I have for Merlin - though they are of a very different nature.”

Arthur wondered what on earth he’d done to deserve this kind of understanding.

“I know you care for me,” Gwen went on. “And I don’t begrudge Merlin the relationship he has with you. He spends far more time with you than I, and of course he knows you in ways I…”

She stopped herself before she strayed too far into indecency.

“But I find myself curiously… not jealous,” she concluded. “I have absolutely no ill-feeling towards him.”

Arthur was hugely relieved to hear that. He was mortified to think that he might have driven a wedge between Merlin and Gwen. Their friendship was very special and important to them both; he knew that.

“If destiny and fortune bring you and I together,” Gwen was saying. “then so be it. If one day I find that I have moved on - then, again, so be it.”

She ran her fingers through his hair, and kissed his temple.

“For now, though, Arthur Pendragon - remember that I am on your side, and I will be by your side whenever you wish it.”

Arthur swelled with gratitude, relief, affection, and a dash of guilt. He wished he could give Gwen his whole heart - it was no less than she deserved. But he’d unwittingly gone and given a big chunk of it to someone else.

Gwen swept from the room with the easy grace and dignity that Arthur so loved about her, leaving him to ponder what the hell he was going to do about Merlin and his probably totally justified tantrum.

Chapter Text

Merlin nearly didn't go up there.

He'd ranted to Gaius that he didn't have to answer to the spoiled brat’s every beck and call. Gaius had tentatively pointed out that that was the point of a personal manservant, but Merlin was too far into his strop to listen to any fair arguments in favour of the selfish ass.

He was only forced to admit defeat when Leon turned up at his door, to inform him that he was under orders not to return to Arthur's room without Merlin - in chains if necessary.

Outside the heavy door, Merlin sulked as Leon knocked.

“Come in!”

Merlin rolled his eyes at the self-important voice, and stepped through the door as petulantly slowly as he could.

“If that'll be all, my Lord,” said Leon, barely veiled amusement in his voice.

“Thank you, Sir Leon.”

The door closed, and Merlin glared at Arthur, defiantly.

The Prince was sitting in the high-backed chair by the window, elbows resting on the arms, fingers clasped loosely together.

“Oh, don't look at me like that,” he said, in that old familiar bickering tone.

“Like what?”

“And stop taking it out on Gwinevere,” Arthur added, standing up. “She hasn't done anything wrong.”

“I'm not ‘taking it out on’ -”

“She's on your side, as it happens,” Arthur interrupted.

Merlin frowned. “What does that mean?”

Arthur sighed, and threw his hands up. “Don't ask me why, but she's wholeheartedly given her blessing to this nonsense!”

Merlin's jaw pressed up. “Nonsense?”

Arthur shook his head, and walked towards the centre of the room. “Don't start.”

“Start what?!” Merlin demanded. “I don't know what you're telling me!”

“I'm telling you that Gwen's fine with the way things are!”

“Good for her! And what if I'm not fine?”

Arthur put his hands on his hips.

“What do you want from me, Merlin?”

“I don't know - what do you want? You're the one who began this whole thing!”

“Excuse me?”

Merlin started to pace a little, agitated energy fizzing under his skin.

“You were the one -” he began, pointing accusingly at the Prince. “- who grabbed my hand all those months ago and had me empty out your spoiled royal balls for you!”

“My spoiled royal…?!”

“And it was you,” Merlin interrupted. “Who initiated all the cosy sleepovers and illicit woodland liaisons.”

Arthur frowned, but no defence was forthcoming.

“You might have started off just needing something warm to shoot your seed into,” Merlin went on, not missing the slightly horrified look in Arthur's eye at his barbed tone and intentionally crass turn of phrase. “But we both know it's something else now, and you refuse to talk about it.”

Merlin felt a degree of satisfaction at the troubled look which crossed Arthur's face. He had one more shot to fire.

“Meanwhile you're courting my best friend right in front of me and I'm not supposed to be affected. It isn't fair!”

With that, he stomped over to the chair that Arthur had vacated, and sat down heavily in it, one leg disrespectfully strewn over the ornately carved wooden arm.

Arthur raised a disapproving eyebrow.

“That's hardly accepted protocol, Merlin,” he remarked, impatiently. “You can't just flop down in my chair!”

“Protocol?” Merlin echoed, with an incredulous shout. “Is it ‘accepted protocol’ to come all over my face and then snuggle with me til daylight?”

There was a pause.

Arthur broke first, and they both dissolved into giggles.

When the moment subsided, Arthur rubbed his forehead, and sat down on the long edge of the bed.

“What can I do, Merlin?” he asked, resigned.

Merlin knew that Arthur wasn't really expecting an answer, so he didn't offer one.

“One day,” Arthur went on. “I’m going to be the King.”

“Yes.”

“With a queen.”

“Right.”

“And as fetching as I’m sure you would look in floor-length velvet, Merlin - it can’t be you.”

Merlin laughed a little. “I can’t be your Queen. Yes, I am aware of that. This is not news.”

Even as he said it, a tiny ball of dread formed inside Merlin, as he imagined the day when he'd have to stand there in the Great Hall, watching Arthur take vows to be joined with someone else.

“I just - I don’t want to lose you.”

Arthur's stark honesty caught Merlin by surprise.

The Prince looked up at him and continued; “I don't want to lose this. Us. When I get married. I don’t want this to have to stop.”

The bitterness Merlin had been harbouring began to dissolve.

“You'd better hope you get a very understanding wife, then,” he suggested.

“Well, if she can't understand how much you mean to me, then she's not the one.”

The dissolving bitterness was completely smothered by the resurgence of affection Merlin felt for the handsome regal bastard.

He sighed.

“I know you're in a difficult position,” he said. “I shouldn't have made you feel guilty for… for wooing Gwen.”

God knows Arthur's life would be far simpler if he'd just forget about both Gwen and Merlin, and marry some vacuous Princess of Uther’s choosing. Merlin could only conclude that the daft Prince must genuinely like both of them a hell of a lot. He had to concede he did feel sorry for him - Arthur was, however misguidedly, trying to do the right thing. Trying to serve his heart and not his head nor his Father's outdated wishes.

“She's very fond of you, you know,” Arthur told him.

“I know,” said Merlin, feeling bad for his jealousy. None of this was Gwen's fault. “I do love her, I just - it's like you reserve that softer charming side of yourself only for her and I just wish…”

He tailed off. Maybe he was being unreasonable. He got so much of Arthur's time and physical attention; did he really need the lutes-at-moonlight-poems-on-bended-knee business as well?

“You're absolutely right,” Arthur said, and Merlin's eyes widened.

“That's the first time you've ever told me I was right about something.”

“And it may well be the last, so enjoy it while you can.”

Merlin chuckled and shook his head.

“It isn't fair that you get none of the romance,” Arthur reasoned, standing up and walking towards Merlin.

Merlin shifted in the chair, sat up a bit straighter, body responding as it always did to ‘incoming Prince.’

“It just hadn't occurred to me that you wanted it,” Arthur told him, coming nearer.

Merlin swallowed. He probably shouldn't want it. It wasn't his place. But his ‘place’ wasn't what it used to be.

“This definitely has become ‘something else’,” Arthur added. “I don’t quite know what, but…”

He stopped in front of Merlin.

“You're not a slave to be used at my whim,” he said, voice getting lower. “You're still my manservant, but you're also - you're a lover, to be appreciated and respected.”

Arthur held out his hand. Merlin smiled, and took it, gladly.

He let himself be led over to Arthur's glorious bed, where he was encouraged to lie down.

It was only then that Merlin registered the dim candlelight which was giving the room a certain seductive atmosphere. He shivered with anticipation.

Arthur stood at the end of the bed, and stripped himself, slowly. Merlin's breath got heavier, and he utterly forgot what he'd been angry about.

Once fully naked, Arthur knelt with one knee either side of Merlin's legs, and began to divest him of his clothes. Merlin helped to make it as smooth a process as possible, and tossed each article away as it was removed.

When they were both completely uncovered, Arthur sat back and looked down at Merlin, hands reaching down lightly to Merlin's waist.

Merlin felt exposed and scrutinised, but also undeniably relaxed and safe. He was in his favourite place - beneath his Prince. Nothing bad could happen here.

“Merlin,” Arthur said, quiet, kind and authoritative. “I am at last going to do this with the care and tenderness you deserve.”

Merlin melted at the Prince’s soft and sincere words. Despite knowing that a melting human was a biological impossibility, he did it nonetheless.

Arthur moved to put his hands on the covers either side of Merlin's shoulders, and nuzzled at his neck.

“Oh, my Lord…”

“You don't need to call me that,” Arthur whispered, lips tantalisingly close to Merlin's ear. “I think, by now, you're allowed to use my name when we're like this.”

Merlin gulped, slightly concerned that if he started saying Arthur's name, he might never stop. His brain seemed to chant it relentlessly as it was.

“Arthur…”

“Oh, Merlin,” Arthur answered, with a soft moan in his tone. “My sweet, sweet Merlin.”

With that, he began to kiss Merlin all across his chest and torso, as if he could leave no inch of skin unmarked.

Merlin arched and trembled underneath Arthur's attention, and his cock throbbed in desperation.

Arthur's hands - those strong hands; powerful enough to wield mighty swords and fatally wound a fearful enemy - were being so gently laid on Merlin's body, and it was overwhelming.

“Arthur,” Merlin whispered, again.

Arthur hummed in response, as his mouth made its way to Merlin's hip bones. He kissed and tasted them, and squeezed the flesh of his thighs.

Then the Prince lightly ran his tongue up the inside of Merlin's leg, and Merlin’s higher brain function officially took the night off. He was no longer capable of logic or sound reasoning; he could only focus on his carnal pleasure. Which was currently off the scale.

He gripped the sheets, closed his eyes, and tossed his head against the pillow, feeling on the brink of madness from the ecstasy.

Arthur's tongue caressed the skin connecting the top of Merlin's legs, before licking all the way up his achingly erect cock.

“Oh! Oh, Arthur, fuck!”

Merlin opened his eyes and looked down just in time to see his manhood disappear down Arthur's throat.

In contrast to the hungry, often slightly frantic, way Merlin always sucked his Prince’s cock, Arthur was slowly savouring Merlin. He was being gentle and exploratory, and seemed to be indulging himself just as much as he was indulging Merlin.

His tongue and lips were tracing Merlin up and down, and if Merlin didn't know better he'd think Arthur had been practising - no one should be this good at sucking cock on their first try.

A few minutes of that, and Merlin was already perilously close to the edge. He needed to retreat, because he was desperate for this to last as long as possible.

“Stop, stop…” he breathed.

To his credit, Arthur desisted immediately, and Merlin's heart swelled a little more, knowing that Arthur was prepared to do whatever he asked.

“What's wrong?” the Prince asked, looking up through long eyelashes. His face was flushed.

Merlin leaned up on one elbow, and reached to stroke his fingers through Arthur’s fringe.

“I don't want it to be over so soon,” he said, hopelessly floored by that gorgeous face.

Arthur smiled the wickedest smile, and wrapped his fingers deliberately slowly round Merlin’s length.

Merlin gasped, and his eyelids fluttered.

“Who says it's only happening once?” Arthur asked, voice laced with filthy promise.

Merlin groaned, and fell back as Arthur once again sealed his mouth round his prize.

With that perfect mouth sucking him so methodically, and Arthur's hand teasing round his balls and his hole, Merlin had no chance.

“Arthur!” he cried, trying to warn him, convinced that he definitely wouldn't want Merlin spilling into his mouth.

Merlin’s hips bucked up uncontrollably, and his knuckles tightened in the sheets as he crashed noisily into climax. Arthur held onto the outside of his thighs, and swallowed him all down with no protest whatsoever.

Feeling extremely sensitive inside and out, Merlin looked down, trying to get his breath back.

Arthur was wiping his lips with the back of his hand, and looking extremely pleased with himself.

Merlin exhaled a laugh. “There's no need to look so smug,” he said, as Arthur crawled up to lie on top of him.

Arthur didn't reply, just pushed Merlin's hair back behind his ear, and sweetly kissed his cheeks and lips.

Then he lifted his face and just looked into Merlin's eyes.

With a thousand words in a thousand languages, Merlin would not have been able to describe that look. It made him want to cry. No one had ever looked at him like that before.

Arthur placed another sentiment-loaded kiss onto Merlin's lips.

“Merlinnn…” he murmured against them.

Tell him, urged the voice inside Merlin's head. Tell him you love him. Tell him all the stars in the sky aren't as beautiful as him. Tell him you'd tear down heaven and earth to make this night last forever. Just tell him.

“I'm going to look after you, Merlin,” came Arthur's soft voice, speaking between kisses to Merlin's face and neck. “I want you safe… I need you to feel - treasured”.

Treasured.

Merlin positively whimpered at the lovely sentiment, and his heart ached.

Arthur rolled them onto their sides, and pulled Merlin's leg up to hook it over his hip. He very gently ran two fingers over Merlin's lips, then pressed those lips apart.

Merlin laved at the fingers in his mouth, gazing into Arthur's eyes as he got them wet enough for the task for which he was assuming they were destined.

He was correct, as proven by Arthur sliding his arm down behind Merlin's raised leg. He circled his damp fingers around their intended entrance, and Merlin whined with anticipation. Arthur gradually pushed one inside, and Merlin gripped his shoulders.

“Oh, oh…” he closed his eyes, tight, and felt Arthur kissing him once again.

Arthur's fingers inside him was a sensation Merlin was yet to get over; it felt almost more intimate, somehow, than having his cock in him.

Merlin opened his eyes as another finger joined the first, and found Arthur still staring at him with searing intensity.

He put a hand on Arthur's cheek, and smiled at him, before gasping in pleasure as Arthur's fingers found that spot inside him which made fireworks go off behind his eyes. That spot which felt more magic than actual magic.

Merlin's cock was stirring again, ready for its next engagement.

Arthur's face was soft, but determined. His mouth was slightly open, and he looked as though he were starting to lose his cool. He swallowed, hard. His arm flexed as he worked yet another finger inside his servant, and Merlin writhed under his ministrations.

“Do you feel good, Merlin?” Arthur asked him, brokenly. “I - I want you to always feel good… that's all I want…”

Merlin moaned, his fingers in the short hair at the nape of Arthur's neck. He was more overwhelmed with every second at the tenderness with which he was being treated.

“Yes,” he assured Arthur. “I feel good. You're making me feel so - oh…!”

It was all too much.

When he finally does start fucking me I'm going to literally explode.

Merlin realised he'd closed his eyes again, as he felt himself being pushed over onto his back once more, and Arthur's warmth disappeared from next to him.

He looked down the bed, and saw only the mass of blond hair between his legs. His thighs were pushed up, and Arthur was licking him. There.

Merlin couldn't breathe.

The future King of Camelot, who also happened to be the most jaw-droppingly stunning man he'd ever met, had his tongue in Merlin's arse.

It was unhurried, just as everything else had been so far, and Merlin heard Arthur humming as if he were tasting something delicious. Not only did he hear the hums, he felt them against his body, and his poor unattended cock throbbed.

Merlin was utterly gone - his head was spinning, and his mind was providing nothing but ‘Arthur, Arthur, yes, good, yes, Arthur’ on perpetual loop.

After what was probably barely two minutes, but could well have been several days or months - who cared? - Arthur repositioned himself, lining his cock up for entry. He nudged Merlin's legs up with his arms, and Merlin wrapped them round the Prince's back with the remaining muscle power he was able to generate.

As Arthur entered Merlin - agonisingly slowly - he leaned forward to kiss him. The kiss was accompanied by a certain extra flavour, given where Arthur's mouth had just been, but actually Merlin didn't find it off-putting or disgusting. It was just further proof of how much trust they had in each other, and gave the moment a deepened meaning. Besides which, Arthur could taste of dead horse, and Merlin would still want to kiss him.

Arthur began to fuck Merlin with such delicacy, and slow enough that Merlin felt every inch of his Prince as he moved in him.

Arthur's hands were under Merlin's shoulders, cradling him. He kissed whichever part of Merlin he could reach with each languid forward thrust. Merlin's hands were alternating between stroking Arthur's sides, gripping his hair, and squeezing his upper arms.

Arthur was sweating, possibly from the effort of restraining himself; forcing himself to go slowly. Merlin was so grateful - he wanted to live in this moment as long as he was able. The man he loved giving him everything. With all the crap he'd been handed by fate, this felt like a well-earned respite from it all.

A frown crossed Arthur's face, and Merlin instantly snapped back to reality with concern.

“What is it?” he asked, Arthur's well-being always top of the list, regardless of circumstance.

A few ambivalent expressions passed over Arthur's lovely face, then his features softened and he seemed to have come to an agreement with himself. He smiled, minutely.

“I love you,” he said.

Chapter Text

Arthur was consumed by emotions he’d never previously made room for.

To be inside another person was such an absurd and hugely powerful thing, and when that person was this person…

They’d never done it like this. It was slow and it was tight and it was hot, and even though they were as close as two bodies could get, it still wasn’t enough for Arthur. He was trying to project everything that he felt for Merlin through his eyes - the unspoken and undefinable mess that connected them.

As he looked at this beautiful man beneath him, Arthur's brain went into overdrive.

I love him so much - tell him then - but what if he doesn't love me? - well, he really shouldn't, you don't deserve it - but he deserves to know how you feel - tell him, you coward!

Merlin could obviously read the trouble in his face. “What is it?” he asked, full of concern.

That Merlin could put Arthur’s well-being first, even in the midst of this act, which was intended to be all about his pleasure, just made Arthur adore him even more.

“I love you.”

The words fell from his mouth, naturally and without ceremony.

There was an instant change in Merlin's eyes, and he looked so, so happy.

Arthur couldn't help the grin that spread over his face, and a sharp burst of laughter rushed from him; he was a little hysterical that he'd actually said it out loud.

Merlin's face pinched up with pleasure, and his head fell back on the pillow.

“Ohhhh… oh god…”

Arthur refocused on Merlin's physical enjoyment, angling himself to get even deeper inside of him.

“Are you close?” he asked, thrilling at the expressions on Merlin's face.

Merlin nodded and cried out, evidently too far gone to speak.

“Yes, Merlin,” Arthur praised. “Do it for me, let me see you come for me, you're so beautiful when you come, Merlin… come on, my darling…”

Arthur forced himself to maintain his slow, deep movements, refused to let the animal in him take over - he would not fuck Merlin like that, not tonight.

He could feel Merlin's hard flesh rubbing against his torso, and hoped it would be enough friction to send him over the edge. Arthur really didn't want to move his hands from where they were - one still under Merlin's shoulder, and the other holding his head, fingers threading through his hair.

Merlin craned up to kiss him, and Arthur obliged him enthusiastically. Merlin's lips were so soft, and his tongue was so bloody precise.

Merlin cried out again against Arthur's mouth as he neared the end, and Arthur felt hands grabbing his head. Merlin held his face still, and stared into his eyes, breathing hard.

“I love you, Arthur,” he moaned, and Arthur could've sworn his heart tripled in size.

“I love you so much,” Merlin told him, with a whimper. “I - I - oh my god, I'm - Arthur, Ar- Arthur!”

Arthur saw in Merlin's face the exact moment he hit his second climax of the evening. A second after, Merlin's body began to tremble and Arthur felt the wet evidence coating his stomach.

“Aaaaaahhh, aaaahhhhh, Arthur! Arthur!”

“I've got you, Merlin,” Arthur murmured. “It's alright, let go, let go….”

“I love you, I love you….” Merlin was chanting, brain apparently having got stuck when his body hit its peak. “Love y- love, lo- love you…”

Arthur kept up the slow deliberate pace right through to the other side of Merlin's orgasm. Merlin was shaking, and his eyes when he re-opened them were completely glazed.

He looked so perfect that Arthur almost didn't care about finding his own relief; he felt so pleased to have truly satisfied Merlin and finally shown him how much he cherished him.

Merlin found the energy to pull Arthur's face down to his neck, and he kissed Arthur's jaw and nibbled at his earlobe.

“Come inside me, my Lord,” he commanded, and god help him, the way it felt to have Merlin giving him an order was something Arthur definitely wanted to explore in the future.

“Yes, sire,” he whispered.

He increased his speed just enough to light the fuse of his ecstasy, and fell into, rather than climbed up to, that blissful release.

He buried his face in the side of Merlin's neck, and his breath came in fits and starts as his cock throbbed and pulsed its way through the maddening pleasure. He drew lazy circles with his hips until he was completely spent.

Merlin's fingertips were tracing lines and swirls up and down his back, and Arthur had genuinely never felt more at peace.

They lay there, sweaty and soft and cosy, until Merlin's quiet voice eased through the silence.

“Can I tell you something?”

“Mmmm,” Arthur responded, curling his body into Merlin's a bit more. “Of course.”

“Every time you touch me,” Merlin said, voice so soft that it sent tingles all over Arthur’s body. “it's like the whole rest of the world goes out of focus, and your skin connecting with mine is the only thing that matters. The only thing that makes any sense.”

Arthur lifted his head to look at Merlin's face. He smiled.

“That was very poetic, Merlin,” he teased.

“I'm serious!” Merlin laughed. “You've no idea the effect you have on me.”

They wriggled so that they were lying side by side, staring into each other's faces. Merlin slung his leg over Arthur's, and Arthur stroked the side of Merlin's insanely attractive face.

“I really do love you,” Merlin told him.

Arthur filled with huge amounts of soppy joy, and he smiled. “I really do love you,” he echoed. “I wasn't expecting to, but here we are.”

“Here we are.”

Arthur kissed Merlin on the lips, just because he could. Merlin moaned a little into it, and they just sort of melted into each other again.

When they came up for air, Arthur pulled Merlin into his chest.

“So how was that for romance, then?” he asked. “I hope I met your expectations.”

“Met, and exceeded,” Merlin confirmed. “Could you not tell from my reaction?”

“I do love it when you're loud,” Arthur said, unable to help the proud grin that overtook his face.

“Mmm, think the whole castle might know that, after tonight.”

Arthur couldn't deny a certain pride at the idea of being overheard. As much as his possessive side wanted to keep Merlin all to himself, the show-off in him would definitely enjoy other people knowing how good he could make his beautiful boyfriend feel.

Boyfriend? Yes, probably. Bloody hell.

“Don't get me wrong,” Merlin said, head still nestled on Arthur's chest. “I don't need it like this all the time.”

Arthur put his hand on Merlin's head and played with his hair as he elaborated.

“I'm not complaining about the passion taking you over in such a way that it makes you need to fuck me savagely up against walls…”

Arthur swallowed, and felt a rush in his stomach to hear Merlin talk like that.

“But this was amazing, so thank you. It was just what I wanted.”

“Merlin,” Arthur said, after a pause. “You said the other night that you didn't want to be my ‘shameful secret’.”

Merlin didn't reply, just stroked his fingers affectionately along Arthur's back.

“I'm not ashamed of you, Merlin,” Arthur assured him. “If anything, I'm ashamed of myself for not just thinking ‘to hell with it’, and shouting my love from the battlements.”

Merlin laughed. “You've only just got the courage up to tell me, never mind the rest of the kingdom!”

“I'll thank you not to question my bravery,” Arthur dead-panned. “I'm a warrior trained from birth, I'll have you know.”

“Yes, yes,” said Merlin. “You're fierce and terrifying and men tremble before you.”

“Well, I only want one man trembling before me…”

The banter led to tickling, which led to rolling and wrestling, which inevitably led to kissing and grinding - this time with Merlin on top of Arthur, between his legs.

Arthur felt both himself and Merlin beginning to get hard again, and sent up a silent prayer of thanks to whichever god it was who was in charge of the sexual capacities of young men.

“How do you do this to me?” he asked Merlin, rolling his hips up to make damn sure Merlin knew what he was referring to. “It's like sorcery, like my cock’s been bloody enchanted.”

Merlin bit his lip, amused, then kissed Arthur feverishly.

“How many rooms are there in the castle?” he asked, slightly breathless as he pulled away.

Arthur frowned, quizzically. “I've no idea.”

“We should challenge ourselves to do it in every single one,” Merlin declared.

Arthur laughed. “Great plan - balconies as well?”

“Sure,” Merlin shrugged. “On market day if you like, so that we have a captivated audience.”

“Interesting,” Arthur said, with a mock-serious nod. “So you want me to take you where everyone can see? Make you scream my name over the walls so the whole kingdom knows how good you get it?”

He was only teasing, but Merlin's eyes had darkened and he licked his lips, thirstily.

“Merlin!” Arthur said, with a scandalised chuckle. “You filthy thing.”

Merlin flicked up a cheeky eyebrow, then dipped his head down to nibble lightly at one of Arthur's nipples.

Arthur groaned and pulled lustfully at Merlin's hair.

Merlin knelt up astride Arthur, and ran his hands along his chest and collarbone, gazing down at him with an expression that was fast becoming Arthur's favourite sight, and one that he was pretty certain he didn't deserve.

Merlin bit his lip, and the expression turned a bit dirtier. 

“More?” Arthur asked, with a hopeful smile.

“Only if you're going to give me the day off, tomorrow,” Merlin answered, with a grin.

“Done,” agreed Arthur, firmly. "That door will stay locked, and we'll stay in bed, with no clothes on, all day.”

“What if we get hungry?”

“There are other servants, Merlin, you're not the only one. You're not even the best one…”

Merlin stuck his tongue out, and Arthur winked at him and smiled.

As the mood started to get heated and sensual again, Merlin circled his hips, bottom rubbing Arthur's crotch, coaxing him back to full hardness. Arthur licked his lips and put out a hand to do the same for Merlin.

Arthur hummed then gasped with pleasure.

“You're so fucking good,” he told Merlin, with a gentle laugh.

He really was. Good at this, a good friend, a good person generally.

Arthur vowed to himself that he would work hard every day to earn the love that Merlin had given him. He didn't think he was worthy of it, but he would damn well try to be.

He planned to start by bringing his feelings for Merlin out of the shadows. He might not have the balls to break it to his Father just yet, but he could definitely tell his Knights.

“We're not making our lives easy, you know,” he said, suddenly, wanting to give Merlin the option to bow out.

A relationship which crossed the social divide, and which went against gender conventions, was not going to be met with approval. Arthur didn't want Merlin to suffer gossip or abuse. Plus there was still the pesky matter of having to have a Queen one day. And, as Merlin had pointed out, she was going to have to be extraordinarily understanding.

Basically, rules were going to have to be bent out of all recognition once Arthur became King.

“I'll take this over an easy life any day,” Merlin said, softly. “I’ll always be here for you, Arthur.”

Arthur felt pinned by those amazing eyes, and he believed Merlin absolutely. He'd trust him with his life.

“In whatever capacity you need,” Merlin whispered. “Friend, servant, lover, whatever. You’re the centre of my world. And you always will be.”

                        * * * *