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Master and Mate

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Merlin sighed, blinking to his chambers and undoing the clasp of his cloak, his eyes flashing gold as his magic took over instinctively, like it was known to do, lifting the cloak and hanging it up neatly. The king ran his hand over his hair and sat down on the edge of the bed, his gaze fixed upon the wolf fur soft beneath his hands. The day had been stressful, and not for the first time since they’d returned to Albion did Merlin wish they’d remained separated in their own little pocket reality. It had been nicer back then, but it had always been meant to be temporary while he worked on invigorating Avalon and Daobeth. There had never been any getting around returning to Albion, even if it had taken them longer than expected to do so.

It didn’t help that Albion seemed to have deteriorated during their absence. Droughts and wars had ravaged the kingdoms, leaving people hurt, homeless, starving, and incredibly thirsty. For the other kingdoms to see how Dragonhold had prospered during their own decline had been a slap in the face, and while some had tried to seize the kingdom and its bounties for themselves they’d become a feast for the dragon. After that no one else tried to touch Dragonhold, but the more desperate of kingdoms begged to join, and it was only the sight of the hungry, desperate children that had made its monarchs agree.

Magic united the now even more enlarged kingdom, and Dark Magic claimed the warriors of the newly joined citizens, turning their loyalty to the throne and assuring that no mutiny could ever take place. The human part of Merlin still disapproved of his actions, but he would not allow any weakness to put his kingdom - his family - in danger. No one else mattered to him. No one. The demon and dragon agreed a hundred per cent, and that helped, especially when they tended to gang up on Merlin’s human side and bully it into acquiesce. 

“You didn’t even say hello,” a voice scoffed from behind him on the bed.

Merlin sighed, closing his eyes tighter as he tried to release the pent up frustration inside of him. “Hello.”

The bed moved beneath shifting weight, and then Arthur’s heat enveloped him from behind, his mate not only wrapping his arms tightly around Merlin’s stomach, but resting his cheek against his back while plastering his body to his. “Did something happen today?”

Rubbing his hands against the ones clutched around him, Merlin leaned back into his mate’s comforting warmth. “I missed you so much I couldn’t concentrate on anything, and kept making people have to repeat themselves over and over and over again.” He could feel the smile that curved Arthur’s lips at those words pressed against his back. “Stop being so happy about that. If you’re not around I’m supposed to be present enough for the both of us… not utterly useless because I’m too distracted missing you.”

That smile grew against his back before Arthur started to press kisses to his spine. “The fever broke earlier so I should be good to return to the throne room with you tomorrow.” He rubbed his face roughly into Merlin’s back. “You’re not the only one who was missing his mate, you know.”

Merlin brought one of Arthur’s hand to his lips, and began pressing soft kisses to each finger before paying rapt attention to his palm, licking, nibbling and sucking at it.

The hand Arthur still had around him tightened in his clothes as his wife groaned into his back, the sound a low, needy keen that went to Merlin’s cock, and made it hard for him to control himself. Arthur didn’t seem to give a fig about Merlin’s attempt at self control as he loosened his grip on Merlin’s clothes only to slip his hand into his husband’s trousers to take him in hand and begin stroking him.

Wife…” Merlin pulled Arthur’s hand out before he slipped away from the blonde and off of the bed, turning to face his queen, who looked highly annoyed with him. The sight made him smile as he leaned down and pressed a kiss to those lips before pulling away right when he knew Arthur would try and yank him into bed. It was hard to control himself and his desires, but he did just that, skirting out of Arthur’s reach to instead walk around to the other side of the large bed. He sat there and smiled down at the raven haired boy curled up around a pillow, snoring softly. Next to him, another raven-haired boy, the second a little younger than the first, sucked on his thumb in his sleep. Merlin smiled, as he always did whenever he beheld his sons, and reached down to brush his fingers tenderly through their hair. 

Neither Alaric nor Calder had their mother’s eyes, and Merlin didn’t understand why Arthur had been so incredibly happy to note that after their births. Both boys looked entirely too much like Merlin sometimes, and the cambion sulkily wished there’d been more of their mother in them. Arthur was by far more attractive than he was, and it would have been better for the boys to have taken after him more, yet at least they hadn’t gotten Merlin’s ears.

“I used to get fevers around this age as well,” Merlin admitted as he fixed his attention on the reason Arthur had been absent for the last couple of days in the throne room. “No doubt Calder will also start to experience them once he gets a little older as well. It’s his magic starting to manifest, as well as his body trying to grow accustomed to it.”

Arthur pressed up against him from behind once more as his arms slipped around Merlin, his palms caressing Merlin’s stomach roughly. “I continue to be glad I wasn’t born a magic-user. My poor husband and sons have to go through so many frustrating situations I thankfully never had to.” He slipped his thumb under the waist of Merlin’s trousers and used that grip to easier reach into it with his other hand and wrap around Merlin once more, stroking him slowly. “The least I can do is… tend to their needs.”

Considering Alaric had been sleeping in their bed the last couple of nights - as well as Calder since he didn’t see why he shouldn’t as well if Alaric was being allowed - Merlin had been unable to lose himself in his mate the way he would normally, and the abstinence was killing him. That being said, he had to be strong, at least until both boys were a little older. 

Grabbing Arthur’s hand by the wrist, he did the one thing he didn’t want to do, and forced it out of his pants. “Now now, Arthur, what did we agree on while Alaric’s ill?”

We didn’t agree on anything,” Arthur grumbled into his back sulkily. “You came up with a stupid plan, and I warned you it wouldn’t work. I’m surprised you’ve lasted this long without desiccating and turning into dust.”

“Behave, Arthur,” Merlin cautioned him softly.

“Since when do I ever listen to your orders or suggestions - or to you in general?” Arthur wanted to know, moving the hand he’d been using to hook the waistband of Merlin’s trousers to instead reach in for him once more.

Merlin barely caught it and yanked it out before Arthur could reach his cock once more. He held onto both wrists tightly, his cock twitching, his demon and dragon snarling, and his control very nearly gone. “Arthur. Stop it.”

“Yes, I’m terribly afraid of you right now.”

Turning around rapidly to face his mate, Merlin grabbed Arthur roughly by the back of his neck, right under where his head met his neck. He saw Arthur’s eyes widen and his body tense immediately at the threatening gesture, and yet he could also see the flush of arousal climbing on his skin, as well as the way Arthur’s nipples were hardening. Merlin could also smell the instantaneous spike in Arthur’s scent, one which grew thicker the second a growl rumbled its way menacingly passed Merlin’s lips.

Arthur’s eyes darkened as Merlin’s fingers dug deeper into the back of his neck, his lips parting as his breaths grew heavier.

Realizing very quickly that this was backfiring on him spectacularly, Merlin let go of his grip on Arthur and was about to turn back to wrap their sons up with he found himself struck unexpectedly across his face with enough force to swing it.

The cambion froze in shocked confusion as he brought a hand up to his throbbing cheek. He looked down at Arthur in time to see the fear on the blonde’s face seconds before the boy started backing away slowly, his chest rising and falling rapidly.

So close to losing control, Merlin could feel his inner predator reacting to this visual stimulus. “Don’t r—.”

Arthur spun on his heel and ran as if his life depended on it.

Merlin fought it - he fought it with every fibre of his being - and yet the predator in him had been provoked, and given how close to the edge he’d been these last couple of days, his inner beast snapped horrifyingly quickly. In fact, he was charging before he’d even realized it, the cambion fighting with the little bit of control left in him not to shift, not to take wing and easily catch up with his fleeing mate. And yet even in this human form he was quickly catching up with the blonde, who’d made it out of the ‘bedroom’ and had already started running through the orchards and crystals.

The hand Merlin reached out towards Arthur was clawed, and he tried to stop it, to pull back, he tried his damndest, and yet in seconds he’d caught Arthur by the back of his robes and flung him face-first into one of the apple trees - his wings ripping out of his back and curling around Arthur just in time to cushion what would’ve been a violent hit as the blonde slammed into the tree and was pinned there.

Snarling despite himself, Merlin breathed heavily as he buried his face in Arthur’s hair. The talons jutting out from his wings dug deep into the apple tree, completely trapping Arthur against it, with Merlin’s body pressed up behind him for good measure. Those clawed fingers dug into Arthur’s hips warningly yet didn’t pierce through the material or the skin. He just needed to breathe. If he could just breathe—.

Arthur started to struggle as if he were on the brink of being murdered.

“Don’t. Fight.” Merlin begged roughly, his voice thicker, hoarser, betraying how close he was to losing it. “Just stay still. I won’t—.”

The second Arthur struggled even harder Merlin lost it, being overwhelmed by his demonic and draconic natures uniting (as they tended to do more and more often lately) in shared displeasure. His teeth dug into the one bite mark that remained on Arthur’s neck - which Arthur referred to as Merlin’s mark of ownership - and in moments like these the cambion couldn’t agree more with that description as he used one hand to force Arthur’s cheek roughly against the tree and trap him in place, as the other hand freed his pulsating, shifting cock.

Not giving his cock time to truly shift from its human form, Merlin fought Arthur’s Slip to the side and slammed into him viciously all the way to the hilt. He didn’t give his mate time to adjust to him, or to his shifting, growing size, instead he tightened his toothy grip on Arthur’s neck and began to slam his hips into his mate’s, glorying in finally being able to be inside of his body after so many days and nights of being without. Merlin loved their sons - he adored them - but sometimes he missed when he didn’t have to share Arthur with anyone, and he figured that made him a terrible father, which was why he never admitted it out loud no matter how many times he might feel it.

Gods below!” Arthur’s voice was trembling just as hard as his legs. “I’ve missed you so much.” He caressed the hand forcing his cheek against the bark of the apple tree. “If I couldn’t get us a moment to ourselves soon I was going to seriously h-hurt you!” He let out a tortured keen as his hips arched, his other hand rubbing his stomach as it started to bulge with the shifting, enlarging phallus buried within him. “You feel so good, my love.”

Letting go of his hold on Arthur’s head, Merlin growled in pleasure as his claws returned to Arthur’s hips, holding them captive as he continued to move. “You need to stop… purposefully provoking… my inhuman side. I might… seriously hurt you… one day. And if I do that… I will die.”

“You won’t hurt me.” Arthur sounded so assured of that that it terrified Merlin. “No matter what I do to make you snap, no matter how I incite or fuel the chase, once you catch me you never hurt me.” His voice broke in pleasure as he arched his back. “I love it when you lose control and take me like this.” He glanced over his shoulder at Merlin, betraying not only the flush of arousal climbing up his neck to his neck, but the utter lust in his darkening eyes. “Be rougher with me, Merlin, I will not break.”

He dug his claws in deeper. “Stop underestimating the sort of creature I—!” And yet his warning snarl turned into a choked whimper the second Arthur clenched around him, massaging him with his warmth. The cambion latched onto his wife’s neck once more as his hips slammed into Arthur’s, taking him far rougher than he would’ve liked given they hadn’t been able to be together for a couple of days now. 

The sounds Arthur let out were beginning to drive him crazy. Merlin’s breaths and growls sounded less and less human even to himself as he drove himself ever harder, ever deeper, into his beloved. And then he reached around and rubbed his hand over Arthur’s stomach, feeling the way it bulged in betrayal of him, and as always a feeling of ownership, of possession and possessiveness, overcame him. 

“Can you feel me inside of you, Arthur?” Merlin rumbled into his ear, feeling the way the blonde shivered at the sound, the proximity, of his voice. “Sorry, that was a silly question, wasn’t it? Of course you can feel me. You are stretched around my cock as it thrusts inside of you and carves out its home once more, as it re-claims your delectable body, as it reminds it who it belongs to.” He chuckled when Arthur started letting out desperate, pitiful whines, the boy’s breathing growing heavier with each word that slipped from Merlin’s lips. “So yes, you can no doubt feel me deep within you, loving you, reminding your body of its master’s form. But Arthur, can you also tell just how desirous I have been for you?”

“Yessssssssssss….” Arthur dug his nails into the bark and flung his head back, lips parted and eyes closed tightly, slick dripping so thickly out of him it was puddling on the ground between them. “I feel your every desire, my love, and I want you just as desperately!”

“This part of you belongs only to me, Arthur,” Merlin snarled into his ear. “I’ll never allow anyone else to touch it, to slip passed its tight ring and bury themselves inside of you. Your body, your warmth, your slick passage - it all belongs to me.”

Yessssssss.” Arthur’s voice was wobbly as the flush of desire warming his body grew darker. “It’s yours, Merlin. All yours. Only yours. I—” his words were muffled when Merlin’s fingers slipped into his mouth, but the blonde did not complain, instead sucking and licking those fingers as they thrusted into his mouth the same way that that cock rammed into his body. Drool slipped out and down the sides of Arthur’s mouth, but the usually prideful boy did not seem to care, completely lost to worshipping his husband’s body.

Merlin was close, he was so incredibly close, but he wouldn’t allow himself to find pleasure before his wife did. And yet they’d been apart for too long, and his body had been craving Arthur so desperately that it was terrifyingly close to finding pleasure on its own. He couldn’t - wouldn’t - be the first to find release, not when he knew Arthur had been suffering just as badly as he had from their withdrawal. 

Leaning in harder, Merlin spoke deliberately low, rough, into Arthur’s ear. “What a perfect little cocksleeve you are.”

Almost immediately Arthur sobbed as his body clenched instinctively tightly around Merlin. While the cambion loved, adored, worshipped, his blonde, the boy reacted explosively whenever he was called these sorts of names, whenever he was treated this sort of way, so if Merlin was ever in trouble of being the only one to find release, this was the only course of action that could save both him and his pride.

“How did you ever survive these last couple of days without my cock inside of you?” He nibbled roughly on the shell of Arthur’s ear while pressing deeper inside of him seconds before his ridges sharpened, scraping Arthur unexpectedly, causing the boy to scream out around Merlin’s fingers. “Did you spend the whole time imagining that my cock was in its rightful place? That you were being used for your true purpose?” Merlin snarled desperately at the way Arthur was trembling around him, the boy clearly losing control over himself rapidly. “What a hopeless little whore.”

Arthur sobbed something loud and yet muffled around Merlin’s fingers.

Shut up.” Merlin hissed dangerously into the boy’s ear, using his own desperation to darken his words even as his thrusts grew quicker with his own approaching climax. “I care not for what you have to say. You are not my wife or queen or even the mother of my children right now, you are nothing more than my whore, my cockhole.” He gripped Arthur’s hair viciously and forced his head back, his neck arched, as he snarled into his ear: “All I want from you right now is for you to be quiet, to relax your womb, and take my seed deep inside of your body like a good little bitch.”

Screaming around Merlin’s fingers, Arthur climaxed explosively. His body visibly lost utter control, spasming around Merlin’s, dancing, kissing, caressing, massaging, coaxing, begging for the seed it was being promised.

Relief seared through Merlin as he hooked himself deep into his beloved and finally allowed himself to find completion. He let go of Arthur’s hair and wrapped his arms around the boy, whispering words of love and devotion as he came, filling his lover with his seed and his adoration until they were both breathless.

“MAMA!?” A voice called out from the bedroom. “WHERE ARE YOU?”

Arthur groaned and shifted his head to the side of the tree so he could more clearly call out: “I’LL BE THERE IN A MINUTE!” He then rested his forehead against the trunk and whimpered unhappily. “I don’t think this is going to be enough.” He reached behind him and groaned as he cupped Merlin’s asscheek, pressing him deeper into his body. “I’ve missed you so much, my love. It’s been so painful not to - I’ve felt so empty, I—.”

“I know. I am suffering too.” Pressing kisses to the side of Arthur’s face, Merlin sighed heavily and fought against his instinct to take his mate once more. “Go to them, I will try and relax with a swim.” He sighed heavily. “I’ll return when I am calmed enough not to risk taking you on the same bed as our sons.”

Arthur slammed his fist into the tree. “Do you really think I can—I am not just saying that I am suffering too! That I am desperate for—-!”

“I know, my love,” Merlin soothed into Arthur’s hair softly. “I know. I know. I love you. I really love you. Always. Only you.”

Despite his previous anger, Arthur began to tremble slightly, and when he spoke there was no trace of annoyance, instead replaced by tremulous need. “Only me. I’ll murder whoever tries to take advantage of this situation to try and get their claws into you. Just because I’m stuck in our quarters does not mean—-!”

“How can they ‘get their claws into me’ when my claws are in you?” Merlin whispered into those golden locks.

“I’m sure Lady Mithian must be loving my absence from Court.” Hips beginning to move, Arthur let out choked sobs. “She—-.”

“Has a crush on you,” Merlin reminded him, still not able to understand how Arthur did not get that. Mithian had once been the only heir to Nemeth, one of the kingdoms which had recently joined with Dragonhold due to its people starving thanks to the drought, and thanks to Dragonhold acquiring Nemeth she’d lost her claim to the throne and had been downgraded from “Princess” to “Lady”. She was smart, beautiful, and feisty. She was also very clearly attracted to Arthur, and the only reason why Merlin wasn’t aggressively territorial given that was because, well, he was very much confused as to how Arthur didn’t seem to realize her attraction was towards him (even after Merlin told him it point-blank) and instead still seemed to consider Mithian as some sort of threat.

“What difference does that make?” Arthur snapped angrily at him, as if this was all Merlin’s fault somehow.

Despite being a king and a very powerful magic-user, Merlin felt no shame in admitting that his mate left his utterly befuddled most of the time. “Arthur, my love, if you realize that you are the one she is interested in, then why are you jealous?”

“Why aren’t you?” Arthur wanted to know immediately as he slipped free of Merlin so he could turn around and glare at him, gripping at the front of his tunic angrily.

“I am.” Merlin wasn’t lying at all, but he was also far more confused than jealous.

A muscle ticked dangerously in Arthur’s cheek. “You do not act as if you were jealous. You act as if you are amused.” Annoyance darkened in his eyes as he tightened his hold on Merlin. “I cannot think of one good reason why this situation would amuse you… unless you do not care that there is a threat to our relationship.”

“The only way Mithian could ever be a threat to us is if you were attracted to her as well,” Merlin declared with a scoff as he rested his hands on Arthur’s hips. “And you will never be attracted to her.”

Surprise began to overpower Arthur’s previous annoyance. “You sound very sure of that fact, Merlin.”

“Of course I am,” Merlin assured him as he trailed one hand around Arthur’s hip so as to slip a finger between his asscheeks and into his body, watching the way Arthur reacted instinctively, flushing in arousal, his eyes darker, glassier, his breaths quicker, whimpered. “This body of yours belongs to me, my love, and it knows it.” He smiled at the petulant pout curving Arthur’s lips, and leaned in to press a soft kiss against them. “And it’s not just your body that’s all mine, Arthur. Your heart, your soul, your mind, they are all mine. Your love for me is far too strong to be affected by a pretty face, or by swaying hips.” He worked his finger inside of Arthur into a steady rhythm, using magic to elongate his touch and massage his lover deep within. “Plus, out of the both of you it is quite clear who is the better looking one, both of face and of… hips.”

He could feel the reluctant smile curving the lips under his.

“I know I wanted you to become more confident,” Arthur whispered under his mouth, “but it’s unnerving how incredibly attractive you are when you’re like this.” He tightened his hold on Merlin’s tunic and pulled him closer, his breath hot and his voice muffled by Merlin’s lips when he whispered: “Just the thought of the Court being able to see you when I cannot - of them having you all day to themselves without my presence to remind them of their place - I don’t like it, Merlin. I hate it.”

Realizing how unnerved and unhappy his mate truly was, Merlin wrapped his arm around him and whispered soothing sounds into his hair. “Did you not hear how useless I was without you? I doubt anyone has been impressed with me since you have been tending to Alaric.”

Arthur clutched at him so tightly his hands shook. “What if someone tries to steal you away from me like Edwin did?”

Cassius’ assistant had taken Merlin by surprise considering the cambion had kept forgetting he actually existed. He couldn’t even remember which of the kingdoms Edwin had originally come from, and had only ever noted him as being one of Cassius’ favorite interns since Lancelot was jealous of the boy saying that Cassius wouldn’t stop praising him by saying the other man was ‘incredibly clever’. 

“What if someone else does something like he did?” Arthur’s voice was low and emotionless, which proved to Merlin just how truly pissed and worried he was. “What if they slip you ground up Dragonsweed to induce an artificial mating fervor while I’m here, unable to do anything - not even knowing what is happening so as to—-?”

“Arthur, if visiting my mothers did not stop you from sensing when I entered that state, I doubt you being in our bedchambers will hinder you from it.” He sighed, knowing that that was truly not the problem. “I was lax, I let my guard down because I felt no ill-will being directed towards me. I apologize for that and the pain it caused you.”

“Pain? I felt no pain.” Arthur was finally starting to actually sound pissed. “I was furious. You will never understand the magnitude of emotions I experienced when I blinked to where you were! You were hurting yourself so that the pain would help keep you from succumbing to the mindless lust that that asshole and his minions had forced you to feel! And all because you were oblivious to them and their desires? Because he wanted to be your mate? He even tried to use my face while you were in that state! He—that asshole—if I hadn’t made it to you when I did  they would’ve used your drugged state to force you to rut them - or you would have killed yourself to keep that from happening!”

Arthur.” Merlin slipped his fingers free to embrace Arthur with both hands, feeling his mate trembling in rage. “Nothing happened. No matter the state I am in, I know my mate.”

“I know that!” Arthur’s voice was muffled. “But that doesn’t make it any better! What if someone else tries to do what they did!? Or something else equally as deplorable?! You said so yourself! You’re distracted right now because I am not there! They could realize that and try to do something to you, to—-!”

Merlin closed his eyes and breathed in his mate’s scent. “If they try to do something like that again, Arthur, then the same thing that happened to Edwin and his conspirators will happen to them.”

Arthur went still immediately. “What do you mean by that?”

Rubbing his face into Arthur’s hair, Merlin let out a heavy breath. “I might have been disoriented due that artificial heat, but even I am not so oblivious as to believe Edwin and his co-horts used your confusion and shock to run away, to disappear into the night. I know you stayed with me, I know you took the brunt of that artificial heat to help me through it, and that Calder was born from it… but I also know that you killed Edwin and the others who’d been in that room with me.” He rubbed Arthur’s back soothingly. “I could smell their blood for months afterwards, although the clean-up was impeccable, so I am assuming Sophia or Bors helped you with that.”

You knew?” Arthur whispered in a soft voice.

“That my mate will do anything to protect his family?” Merlin purred into Arthur’s hair before he nodded. “I’ve always known that.” He rubbed his cock against Arthur’s, and rumbled happily at the way the smaller rod trembled and gushed at the attention. “Just like I know that they are not the only ones that you have dealt your own special brand of justice to since becoming my Queen.” He bent his head to suck on the pulse racing in Arthur’s neck. “Just as I know that some of the disappearances are my handy-work.”

Arthur leaned back heavily against the tree with a stuttered groan as he angle his neck to give Merlin better access. “Y-yours?”

“I think, my love, that after seven years under our reign, that our kingdom knows its bloodstained monarchs well enough to know better than to do anything to piss us off…” His lips curled in dark delight as that smaller, throbbing cock gushed slick against his own inhuman one. “Especially you.” He scraped his teeth against his mate’s pulse playfully. “Do you know what I’ve overheard you being called in low, scared, incredibly reverent tones?” The cambion smiled sharply. “The Paramount.”

Magic wrapped around their cocks, trapping them together as it stroked them.

Arthur let out a loud, choked sob which forced Merlin to abandon his neck and instead silence his cries with his mouth before the sound ventured to their bedroom and brought their sons out in worry. He kissed his mate, slipping his fingers through that golden hair and grabbing fistfuls to keep his head in place as he consumed him.

“MAMA?!” Alaric could be heard yelling in worry, and sounded much closer to the door than it had the first time. “WHAT WAS THAT NOISE? ARE YOU OKAY?”

Arthur let out a despaired sound.

Thrusting his hips harder, quicker, Merlin’s mouth consumed Arthur’s sobs while his magic tortured the boy, working relentlessly on him until Arthur was a blubbering mess barely managing to remain standing. It was wrecking havoc on Merlin, and he nearly cried in relief when Arthur found release once more, and Merlin could finally allow himself to follow.

“MAMA?!?” Alaric sounded much nearer, as well as worried.

Magicking Arthur and himself, clean, Merlin blinked himself away from Arthur before Alaric could reach them, appearing in the diamond waters, a groan of frustration and disappointment filling him. He loved his sons - he’d give his life for them - but he could not wait until they were old enough to be a bit more independent!


Arthur had spent the last seven years staring at his reflection more than he ever had. It wasn’t because he was particularly vain - despite knowing he was very very attractive. No. That was not the reason for the way he’d started finding his gaze turning towards reflective surfaces more and more often. 

It had started with his first pregnancy, the boy unable to dare to believe it every time he’d see a little more of a difference to his body. Every time he’d catch sight of himself he’d seem to find something different - more weight around his midsection being an obvious example - and he’d find himself mesmerized by the sight.  

That may have started it, and yet it was not the reason Arthur had continued to find himself observing his reflection. No. That reason was different, was both incredible and saddening at the same time for vastly different reasons.

The reason Arthur continued to stare at his reflection was to make sure that he hadn’t imagined it the first time (and all the times afterwards), and each and every time he looked he confirmed that it was truly what he’d suspected: Arthur had not aged. Just as Merlin seemed trapped in a younger body, so was Arthur, in fact, he looked closer to how he had when he’d first become Merlin’s sex slave - which meant he looked younger than he had when he’d stopped aging. A part of him wondered whether this was the effect of being mated to an immortal being, or whether he would’ve continued to age normally had he not ordered Merlin’s magic to make sure the passage of time never separated them.

Immortal, ‘long-lived’, however it was to be called, he and Merlin were it, and they were it together.

Their sons, however, might not be, and that was what made Arthur sad. He wanted to find a way to change that, but Arthur also knew that if Merlin could have chosen to be normal-lived he would’ve. Arthur, on the hand, would not. Immortality with Merlin still did not seem long enough, but he would take it. He did not know whether his children would feel the same however. Mayhap they would not have to make the choice - mayhap they would stop growing old after a point as their parents had - or maybe they would take more after their human family and age like normal. If they did, it would be their choice once they reached a certain age, whether they wanted to try and expand their lifetimes or not.

Arthur, however, had a feeling that they would not want to, especially Alaric. He’d broached the subject innocently once with his sons, and while Calder had displayed no interest in the subject, Alaric had been very resolute about the fact that if Cassius and Lancelot’s daughter Maeve grew old then he wanted to as well, as he had every intention of marrying her once he ‘grew taller’ than her.

Either way, preparations were being made so that when Alaric was old enough, once he was ready to be king, for Daobeth and Avalon to split away from the rest of Dragonhold so that their son could have his kingdom, while Arthur and Merlin could continue their ‘calling’ of guarding, and tending to, Daobeth and Avalon. 

“Is everything alright, Your Highness?”

Glancing at the reflection behind his, Arthur nodded as he sighed and turned to face the newcomer. “Do people truly call me the Paramount?”

Roarke blinked before nodding rapidly. “I did not know you had heard. They tend to never refer to you by that title whenever you are actually present.”

“Merlin told me about it recently,” Arthur admitted, a little flustered at this news for some reason. “Why am I constantly being given new titles?”

“At least they are all flattering,” Roarke declared with a grin. “I also heard that news of your soon return to Court has spread throughout the castle. To say that that news was met with relief is putting it mildly.”

Raising an eyebrow, Arthur huffed. “Oh, I am sure they missed me.”

“My Queen, if I may be frank with you, it has almost been eight years since Dragonhold became a unified kingdom, and in that amount of time the Court has discovered - has cemented as a  very well known fact - how dangerous and uncertain things can become when the king misses you. I know that the newly amalgamated kingdoms are quickly discovering that fact for themselves as well.” Roarke snickered as he planted his hands on his hips. “As a whole, the Court has been extremely worried considering that this is the longest period of uninterrupted time you have remained absent from Court in general, and the Throne Room in particular. They can see how depressed and lethargic the king continues to grow day by day, and more than a few of them are beginning to panic.” He raised an eyebrow. “It is more than obvious to all that if they want a functioning king, their queen needs to be present.”

He was not at all ashamed to admit how pleased he was to hear that. “How much of a wreck is he?”

Roarke’s lips twitched. “If I were to answer that question honestly I might get in trouble.”

“That bad?” Arthur grinned, and then grinned wider when Roarke nodded. “Well, Cassius believes Alaric will be ready to return to his normal routine tomorrow, so I will be returning to Court as well. Owain promises to keep a close eye on the boys, especially Alaric, and to be honest I am not very worried. Alaric’s fever is practically gone and I can tell he and Calder both are eager to get back to their training and studies… as well as their usual playtime with Lucan, Maeve and Vivian.”

Arthur couldn’t even begin to explain how relieved he was that Morgana hadn’t seemed interested in giving birth herself, and was more than content to have her and Guinevere’s children be carried by Guinevere. Even now the women were trying to give Vivian a little brother or sister, and thankfully, once more, Guinevere was the one whose genes would be carried down. 

So far Mordred didn’t seem interested in fathering a child, and considering how Percy had mentioned something about adoption the other day, Arthur didn’t think he had to worry about them either, which was a true relief for him. 

The last thing Arthur needed was the possibility of another Pendragon being born with his color eyes. His own sons, thankfully, were complete miniatures of their father - which made them absolutely adorable to Arthur - made them perfect. Every time Merlin complained on how he’d wished they’d taken after Arthur in some way - especially in their eye color - Arthur barely kept from decking him, instead reminding his husband that he was their mother and he had wanted Mini Merlins…. and Arthur got what Arthur wanted.

“Lucan is very anxious for Prince Alaric to return from his sickbed,” Roarke revealed with a mischievous grin on his face. “Apparently the Heir has been giving him much valued counsel on how best to woo Owain.”

Arthur’s lips twitched in amusement at the reminder of what he considered one of the cutest (and definitely funniest) things happening in the castle right now. It would appear that Lucan, although young, had declared Owain would be ‘his bride’ when he grew older. Both Lucan and Alaric had already decided who they planned on marrying, and were supporting each other in their endeavors to win over their potential paramours - neither of which seemed very interested in the boys or their ‘wooing’. At least Owain was being extremely nice while doling out his many rejections of Lucan’s many proposals, Maeve (on the other hand) kept telling Alaric she wouldn’t marry a ‘shortie’ and that she instead was going to steal Bors and Sophia from Daegal once she was old enough to ‘take Daegal on’, which she assured them all ‘wouldn’t be too long’ given how ‘tiny’ Daegal was. 

Honestly, it was hilarious given Lancelot and Cassius’ own attraction to the Two-In-One. Maeve, it would seem, had the same taste in lovers as her fathers. And yet, despite this, Arthur did not feel too offended at her dismissal of his son’s plans to make her queen, because, well, Alaric and Calder took after Arthur when it came to tenacity and bullheaded determination, so truthfully Maeve was the one who was going to have to suffer through years of Alaric’s quite unique brand of wooing until she finally gave in… because although he might be ‘tiny’, there was no way Daegal would allow anyone to try to steal Bors or Sophia. The last person who’d tried had found themselves mysteriously castrated.

“Talking about disastrous wooing, how is Lord Gwaine’s fumbling going?” Arthur asked curiously with a raised eyebrow.

Roarke flushed and wrung his hands in a rare show of embarrassment. “I wouldn’t call it wooing.”

No one would call it wooing,” Arthur assured him, still not quite sure how someone stated to have been a grand Casanova back in the day could be so bad at this. Honestly, even Alaric wasn’t doing this poorly. “He gave you a barrel filled with soap. Sure, it was very nice, very flowery, very expensive soap… but it was still soap.

“I know. I was the one who received that… gift.” Roarke made up his face, clearly still not sure whether he should feel insulted about that gift or not. He shook his head and ran his fingers through his hair as he eyed Arthur. “He’s not even abiding by the mandatory waiting period to allow for mourning.”

That was true. Roarke had been one of the few Swain to find a ‘match’ during the first Dark Week, and he’d been with Lord Duncan until his death a few months ago. Usually there was a mourning period where a Consort who’d lost their master could grieve their loss in peace and tranquility. Gwaine had not only not respected this time of mourning, but had waylaid Roarke right before the funeral to make his intentions to court him very publicly known.

“Mama?” A voice called seconds before Calder peeked around the corner and grinned when he saw Roarke. “Hello Roarke! Alaric and I are going to do our daily swimming in the Diamond Falls!”

It would appear that while the water of the Diamond Falls was toxic to human beings, it was actually invigorating and healing for those of draconic ancestry, which might explain why it had been transplanted from where it’d been in Escetia to their quarters.

“That’s great!” Roarke smiled at him.

Grinning brighter, the five year old turned to Arthur as he hurried over. “Mama, when will papa be back home? Is his Throne Time thingy almost over for the day? We thought he would be finished by now but we haven’t seen him.” He shifted his weight on his feet excitedly. “We want to tell him about Alaric’s newest strategy before we’re able to see Lucan and tell it to him tomorrow.”

“Wait a minute.” Arthur stared at his son in sudden horror. “Is your father helping those two devise their plans to woo Maeve and Owain?”

“No.” Calder shook his head quickly. “He’s just listening to them, and if it is something he used on you - and it failed - he lets us know so it can be tweaked or scrapped.”

Arthur’s lips parted, a bit horrified and yet even more amused by this revelation. “I see.”

Roarke was very clearly trying to hide the fact that he was snickering by pretending to cough into his fist.

“I don’t know if Alaric should be going to your father for advice,” Arthur admitted with sigh. As far as he was concerned, Merlin had never actively tried to seduce him - Arthur had fallen for him because of how wonderful he was (both as a person and in bed) - so the queen wasn’t sure Merlin would be of any help to those poor boys.

“Of course he should!” Calder declared very faithfully, as well as visibly shocked at those words. “Papa married you! And everyone says you are the most beautiful and capable person in the kingdom!” Calder raised an eyebrow. “Clearly papa is the one to go to if he convinced you to marry him.” He then pursed his lips. “Although, papa did say he is not sure why you married him since you ‘deserve better’…”

Arthur wanted to both punch and kiss his husband, who he knew without a doubt worshipped the ground he walked on… yet still had issues seeing his own self-worth. Merlin was getting better, but he still had a long way to go. At least now, however, while he didn’t understand why Arthur loved him, he clearly was incredibly confident in that fact. And that was monumental progress in Arthur’s eyes.

“Calder! Where are you?” Alaric could be yelling from close by. “Papa’s here! He’s already at the Falls!”

Calder’s eyes widened in excitement. “Bye mama! Bye Roarke!” He then turned and hurried in the direction he’d come from. “Wait for me, Alaric!”

Arthur watched his youngest go before he disappeared around the corner, and then sighed as he shook his head. “If anyone did any wooing it was me.” He turned to Roarke. “You were there. You are my witness. I wooed the stuffing out of him.”

“You definitely… wore him down…” Roarke declared, clearly unable to keep his amusement from his tone. “And, to be quite honest, that would be the best approach for both Prince Alaric and Lucan to take.”

Exactly.” Arthur folded his arms over his chest. “They’re still young. I’ll give them a couple of years to figure out I’m actually the one they need to be consulting with.”

Roarke nodded with a smile before clearing his throat. “My Queen, the reason I came here to seek an audience with you is actually in regards to the new batch of potential Swain.”

“Oh boy.” Arthur sighed as he folded his arms over his chest. “What have they done now?”

Amusement twitch on Roarke’s lips. “You have no faith in them, Your Majesty.”

Not bothering to deny the fact that he still thought the Swain had things too easy for them to be such trouble, Arthur raised an eyebrow expectantly.

“Galvin, Owain and I were discussing some potential changes to the way we train the new recruits, and we’d like both your and Bors’ advice - Fionn has already made it clear he wants nothing to do with the Swain’s training, so considering the first Swain had a much more successful ratio of finding committed lovers we’d like to seek counsel with the both of you. Owain says that the both of your input were always very appreciated.”

Sighing, Arthur nodded. “Of course. I will have Bors get back to you on times in which the both of us are available to speak with you.”

“That is much appreciated, My Queen.” Roarke bowed. “I will let the others know.” He then grinned. “I will not keep you from your family any longer.” And with that he smiled and left.

Watching him go, Arthur shook his head before Merlin’s magic anticipated his needs and took him to the edge of the Diamond Falls, where his husband was laughing and talking with their sons as the boys swam around excitedly. Happiness filled Arthur as he just took a moment to stare at his family, the queen still not sure how they’d managed to become this fulfilled. His life reminded him so much of the fantasies he’d cooked up of their future together that he sometimes worried he’d wake up and find out this had all been a dream - and that fear made him understand Merlin better as his husband had shared the same fear over the years.

As if feeling his gaze on him, Merlin looked up and smiled. “Hello, my love.”

Calder and Alaric shared amused looks, sending kissy-noises to each other.

Ignoring their playful mockery, Arthur sat down on the edge of the water and let his feet sink into the depths. “Hello husband.” It was amusing to realize that they were going to have to pretend that this was the first they were seeing of each other for the evening, that they had not been rutting desperately against an apple tree earlier.

“Mama!” Alaric called, capturing his attention. “Papa says that you were the first and only person he ever loved, so I shouldn’t worry too much about what Roger said about people not ending up with their first love.”

Amusement growing, Arthur swung his legs leisurely in the water. “Oh, your father said that, did he?”

“Yes, he did.” Calder nodded rapidly and answered for his older brother. “He also said that you’re his soul, that he’d be incomplete without you, and if Alaric can truly say the same about Maeve then she truly is the one for him.”

“Whether she wants to be, or not!” Alaric piped up cheerfully.

“You need to make sure she wants to be,” Merlin declared very quickly, eyes wide. “I’m not telling you to force yourself on her!”

“No, obviously not, papa.” Alaric rolled his eyes. “You’ve told me this a hundred times already. Non-consensual sex is only okay when it’s consensually non-consensual.”

Merlin’s eyes widened even further as he turned to look at Arthur in horror.

“I’m still not quite sure what that means,” Calder admitted as he scratched his head and peered between his father and brother. “How can someone want your willy inside of them but not want your willy inside of them?”

Merlin’s horror visibly grew.

“It’s like a sexual roleplay,” Alaric informed his younger brother with a sageness that shocked Arthur. “It’s something you agree with your partner beforehand as something the both of you enjoy doing together while having sex.”

Arthur raised an eyebrow at Merlin, his voice monotone as he declared: “I thought we’d agreed that they were still too young to have these kinds of talks.”

Merlin flinched, clearly uneasy at his monotone. “We live in Dragonhold, my love, they were bound to see something and be curious. I merely… answered any questions that they had regarding what they saw.”

“When Maeve and I get married she’s going to have my baby after we have lots of sex,” Alaric informed Arthur proudly. “With her vagina.”

Merlin palmed his face with a whimper.

Honestly, Arthur had no idea how he was going to handle this at all.

“Does mama have a vagina too then?” Calder wanted to know.

Arthur was going to punch Merlin. Hard.

“Of course not, stooooopid!” Alaric shook his head in utter disgust. “We’ve all bathed together! Mama’s got a willy just like us!” He rolled his eyes. “Papa says mama is special, that he’s divine, and that is why he could have us since only girls like Maeve and Vivian are supposed to be able to have babies.”

Oooooooh.” Calder’s eyes were wide as he nodded.

Divine? Arthur raised an eyebrow at a visibly sweating Merlin. Maybe I won’t punch him too hard.

“You two don’t need to tell your mother everything I say about him,” Merlin mumbled, a flush of embarrassment darkening on his cheeks.

“Why?” Calder asked innocently. “You only ever tell us how much you love mama. Why would mama mind hearing that?”

Body beginning to clench, to tingle, to burn for its mate, Arthur shifted as discreetly as possible on the edge of the water.

“Why don’t you two give your mother and I a moment?” Clearly still embarrassed, Merlin swam to where there was a ledge under water and sat down on it, causing the water to rise to around his chest. 

“I bet you I can make it to the far side of the water before you can!” Alaric turned to Calder with competitive excitement burning in his eyes.

“No way! I’ll definitely win!” Calder declared as he started swimming immediately.

“That’s cheating!” Alaric yelled as he hurried after his younger brother.

Watching them go, Arthur shook his head and chuckled before he took advantage of their departure to slip into the water as well and began to swim towards Merlin. “What sort of things are you telling our sons when I’m not around?”

“Arthur, I know that we said we’d keep them innocent as long as we could, but they caught Fionn with Sir Ethan and you know how those two go at it. By the time the boys found me they’d seen far too much for me to try and hide anything so I sat them down and explained things to them, that’s all.” Merlin fidgeted on the ledge. “We both know that it was bound to happen, and look how fast the time has flown. We also don’t know when or how strong their manifest their cambion heritage, so it would have been irresponsible of me to do otherwise.” He sighed heavily, shadows in his eyes. “They could be seriously hurt if they do not understand the danger that having this physiology can bring.”

Hearing it put that way made it impossible for Arthur to remain annoyed. “I understand that, Merlin. What I do not understand is why you are apparently telling our sons all sorts of things about me as if they were ‘one of the boys’.”

“Am I not allowed to brag about my wife?” Merlin was clearly trying to sound annoyed, his breathing grew heavier the closer Arthur got.

Chuckling at his pouting mate, Arthur pulled himself up on the ledge as well and settled himself on the triangle between Merlin’s legs. He brushed himself up against his husband’s already hardened human cock, and while he tried to pass it off as him merely accommodating himself he knew they both were aware of his actions. Still, he leaned back against his husband and smiled when Merlin’s arms wrapped around him immediately, the cambion sucking on the shell of his ear while his cock throbbed against Arthur’s ass.

“What are you doing to me?” Merlin groaned into Arthur’s ear. “Why the torture?”

“Who says I’m torturing you?” Arthur wanted to know as he shifted his hips once more to brush against Merlin’s cock.

I am,” Merlin whimpered before biting down on Arthur’s ear as his cock gave a more violent throb. “Don’t tease me like this when I am having problems controlling myself, especially when our sons are right there.”

“They are not right there,” Arthur scoffed. “They’re over there.”

The sound Merlin let out was tortured as his fingertips dug into Arthur’s body, his voice low and growled in threat as those lips pressed against his ear: “Do not provoke me any further, mate. I will take you.”

Calder and Alaric squealed with laughter as they began splashing water at each other.

“Do we really have the right to preach to them about consent when we have both embraced very dubious consensual practices?” Arthur wanted to know, only half teasing as he rubbed the cock behind him. “I regularly pretend to fight and try to escape because I know your dragon is going to react to it and force me.”

“Yes, you do.” Merlin snarled, sounding more inhuman. “You like it when your mate forces his cock into your body and uses it like it would a bitch, don’t you?”

A tremor of excitement shuddered its way down Arthur’s spine as his gripped Merlin’s knees and leaned forwards to rub himself rougher against his mate’s cock. “Merlin!” He tried to keep his voice low but it was hard. “Merlin, I need—!”

“What do you need, Arthur?” Merlin rocked his hips, sliding his cock against Arthur while kissing the back of his neck. “Show me.” He scraped his teeth against Arthur’s claiming mark. “If you’re good, Arthur, you might be rewarded.”

Glancing over towards Calder and Alaric, noting they were still very much preoccupied, Arthur felt his own flush of arousal burning on his flesh as he reached between them and pulled the material of his Slip covering his entrance to the side. He glanced behind him, over his shoulder, at his mate, in supplication.

The demon and dragon flashed over Merlin’s features, and in seconds he’d wrapped a hand over Arthur’s mouth, covering it as he lined up the head of his human cock and then slammed in.

Arthur’s eyes rolled in the back of his head, and he was grateful for Merlin muffling his cries because he would’ve been unable to silence them on his own. Even when Merlin allowed his hand to drop Arthur raised his own to cover his mouth, and it was a good thing too, because when Merlin started rearranging the blonde on his lap it forced his cock to move inside of Arthur, and the boy croaked out a half-sob at the feeling.

Merlin spread Arthur’s legs on the outside of his own, and the second Arthur hooked his feet around Merlin’s calves the cambion snarled and embraced him tightly, keeping him in place as he started to move subtly inside of him.

Lust clouded Arthur’s vision as he melted back into his mate, head tilted upwards as he lost himself in the feeling. The movements were slow and they were subtle so that if their sons peered over in their direction it would not be obvious that their mother’s body was rising and falling over their father’s, and yet Arthur knew that just the look on his face might give it away, even if only to Alaric. It was why he forced his gaze downwards and bit down hard on his bottom lip so that he could drop his hands, instead gripping tightly at the ones wrapped fiercely around him.

I love you,” Merlin growled in an arousingly threatening tone into his hair. “I love you so much it hurts to be away from you.”

Arthur tried to unclench his teeth from his bottom lip so he could return the sentiment, but he immediately bit back down as a cry nearly escaped. So in lieu of being able to say it with words he caressed the arms holding him tightly and clenched possessively around the cock buried inside of him, massaging the rod loving him from within.

I missed you so much while Alaric was ill,” Merlin whimpered softly into his hair. “I wanted to stay here with you. I hated the Court for existing, for being the reason I had to leave your side.

Arthur trembled in awe at the love he could feel wrapped around him like a blanket. When they’d first married Arthur had worried that the years would dim the magnitude of Merlin’s love for him, and yet it seemed that with every year Merlin’s love grew stronger, grew greater, and by now Arthur realized just how greedy he had become - how eager he was for that love to continue growing to the point where Merlin could no longer exist if he were not there.

I’ll be with you tomorrow onwards, he promised even as his body started to ripple in pleasure all around Merlin. When the emissary court from Southron arrive I will be there with you to greet them. I am here, Merlin.

Relax your tight walls, my love,” Merlin begged in his ear. “Your husband has need of your womb.

Arthur came, spasming around Merlin and in practice doing quite the opposite of what his husband was asking for, and yet warm seed gushed inside of him almost instantaneously, filling  him with tingles and pleasure. He collapsed back against his lover and smiled contently as Merlin pressed soft kisses to his hair before yawning and cuddling around him lovingly. 

While he was still speared by his husband’s rod, neither moved, both content to merely be there in each other’s presence while listening to the sounds of their sons’ laughter on the far side of the water.

The blonde sighed as he rubbed his head against Merlin’s cheek. “I suppose we are lucky that they have not caught us despite how many risks we’ve taken around them.”

“Hhhmmmm.” Merlin purred contently.

“You still should have told me when they stumbled onto Fionn and Ethan,” Arthur murmured sleepily. “I should have been told.”

“You’re overprotective, you would have probably castrated Ethan the second you found out,” Merlin yawned just as tiredly.

“I’m not saying that that isn’t true, but you should have told me anyway,” Arthur declared, also yawning. “Have they stumbled onto anyone else?” When Merlin nodded, he groaned. “My poor babies.”

“They weren’t half as traumatized as you seem to believe, more confused and curious than anything else,” Merlin assured him. “They know that it isn’t anything that they should be actively watching, or doing at all for now, and that if anyone tries to touch them, or make them touch them in that sort of way for any reason and no matter how much they might trust that person, that it is wrong. And I will kill that person immediately for trying to harm them - although I doubt that anyone would be foolish enough to do something like that given how many people have ‘gone missing’ in the Court since Dragonhold was formed. If we protect and defend our matehood with savagery I believe our Court is smart enough to know the same ferocity would be extended to any who dared harm our hatchlings.”

Arthur closed his eyes and sighed, wishing, as he always did, that Merlin had not gone through what he had as a child, but he was also incredibly proud of his mate for having come as far as he had. He also knew Merlin would not want to dwell on this subject for long, so he graciously changed it. “By the way, I wooed you. How dare you pretend otherwise to the boys?”

Chuckling into his hair, Merlin did not disagree, merely purred contently.

Enjoying the vibrations of that purr, Arthur settled in a little more comfortably and allowed himself to be petted and loved on by his mate until the relaxing attention slowly lulled him into the best sleep he’d had since Alaric’s fever.