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Challenge Three: Non-Human Characters

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01

Warnings: voyeurism, middle-of-the-night-have-a-wank-so-I-can-sleep trope

Merlin heaved a sigh, his wings fluttering and shifting. When the higher-ups had decided to give him his first assignment he’d expected it to be a lot more exciting. But so far the only interesting thing he’d had to do so far was stop a bowl from smashing in the blond prat’s head.

He rolled his eyes in annoyance. And not only was it a boring job, but now it was also a full-time job. Sure Merlin didn’t really need the sleep—Guardian Angel and all that—but it still got under his skin that he’d have to spend every single moment watching over Arthur.

Then again, Merlin mused as he watched Arthur groan and flip onto his side, dragging the sheet with him and exposing his bare chest and a hint of naked hip. Night watch duty isn’t so bad if I get to see that every night.

In the dark Merlin could see the glint of moonlight reflecting off of Arthur’s eyes. The poor bloke had been having a hard time getting to sleep the past few days. If Merlin didn’t know better he’d say all Arthur needed was a shag. But he’d been around to witness that that was certainly not the case. Arthur Pendragon got more tail than Merlin’s sister did. And Morgana was a fucking succubus! Puzzle that one out.

This time it was Arthur who let out a sigh, pushing away his sheets and sitting up. He scrubbed a hand over his face. Merlin’s lips pursed, wondering if it was to be the telly or the treadmill tonight. Treadmill was the more dangerous; then he’d actually have to watch him to make sure the clod wouldn’t brain himself or break a toe or something.

Turned out, it was neither. Tonight Arthur headed straight for the bathroom and into the shower. Merlin let out a groan. He’d even take the stupid exercise machine over this. At least then Arthur would have some clothing on. But no, shower it was, and Arthur—glorious naked Arthur—stepped into the warm spray and immediately went to rubbing suds over himself. Merlin slowly squeezed himself through the small doorway, trying to fold his wings in as close as they could, but the cumbersome things liked to be difficult on the best day. Finally Merlin stumbled into the steamy room and with a huff settled himself on the counter. Then he made the mistake of looking at Arthur.

Arthur had finished his actual washing and had moved on to other pursuits. Merlin twitched as he saw Arthur’s big hand sliding up and down his quickly hardening dick. Arthur breathed out, body already relaxing as he kept a steady pace. Up and down and up and a twist over the head. Merlin was hypnotized. Strictly speaking a Guardian’s job was to protect and watch over, but give space for certain… activities. Then again, Merlin had always been pants at following rules.

Merlin licked his lips and hopped down from the counter. He stepped up to the shower and pressed one hand to the glass door, eyes fixed on Arthur’s hand stroking up and down. Arthur was breathing heavily, almost panting. Merlin could feel his heart rate picking up. His other hand inched toward the bulge in his trousers. He wasn’t supposed to feel this way. Guardians couldn’t feel like this for their wards. And yet…

And yet Merlin’s cock was still standing at attention and throbbing with every stroke of Arthur’s hand. Merlin moaned, hand finally coming to rest over the bulge. His wings twitched and tensed, wanting to be touched. He couldn’t remember the last time someone had touched his wings.

Merlin slipped a hand into his trousers, cupping his hot flesh in his hand, sliding his fingers across the wet head. He moaned just as Arthur gasped out. Merlin focused on Arthur again. Arthur’s hips were jerking forward, fucking into his hand. It didn’t take long before he let out a loud groan and his come was spurting out onto the tile. And, with keening sound in his throat, that was all it took to have Merlin creaming his pants.

Merlin’s head fell forward to rest on the glass as he breathed heavily. It was only when there was a strangled noise that his head jerked up to find bright blue eyes staring right at him. His own eyes widened. In the next moment his wings folded around his body and he disappeared from Arthur’s sight.


02

She comes to him in reflective surfaces: halts him just past a looking glass, not sure if he really saw what he thought; beckons from rainwater pooled under a hang-dog sky; lifts her eyebrow in the curved turn of a tankard under the tavern candle’s quivering light.

Merlin thought he was imagining it, that the girl he saw in the lower town who borrowed the shape of her smile had dredged grief from its usual pocket, but when he gets to his room, in a bowl of water Gaius must have left for him, the flat black gives up her slow grin.

“Merlin,” she says, voice a liquid ripple down his spine. “I’ve missed you.”

Heart rattling as if she’s an army and not a shimmer of a girl, Merlin kneels and touches the basin’s edge. “Freya? Is it really – ?”

Her smile widens, huge, dark eyes glimmering as if stars have fallen into the water.

“Is something wrong? Do you need – ”

“I didn’t come for your magic, Merlin.”

Merlin swallows. “I wish I could – ” His hand hovers over the surface of the water, but at the movement, she undulates. He holds his breath in case it makes her disappear, frowning at his own reflection over her face as the image steadies again.

She meets his eye, and his stomach tightens. “What would you do if you could touch me?”

Hesitating only a second, Merlin brushes his knuckles over his own cheek, smiling – or almost – at the thought of her skin beneath his. “And I’d kiss you. I’d kiss you as if we were going to do it forever.”

“Then what?”

Lips parting in surprise at the teasing, yearning look in her eyes, Merlin clings to the table, aware of the stirring in his britches, that he should be thinking something noble and not about all the things he only ever got to imagine: the taste of her tummy and the way her fingers would twist in his hair as he worked his way over it to fit between her legs.

“It’s all right, Merlin. You can tell me.” Voice a shivery whisper, she shifts in until all he can do is stare at the curve of her hip and imagine it beneath his tongue. “What would you have done on our first night together under the stars?”

Breath harsh enough to bow the water, he murmurs, “Whatever you wanted.”

“Shall I tell you what I imagined?” At his frantic nod, she smiles, shy and wild, making his soul crave and his cock twitch. “You take off your jacket and kick off your boots and dance with me in the grass until we’re breathless and giddy and kissing – exactly as if we’re going to do it forever. You lift up my hair – ” She closes her eyes, hands scrunching up her waves, shivering. “ – and make me prickle all over. You know how that feels?”

Merlin's hand drops down to stroke at his cock where it's heavy against the fabric of his trousers. “Yes.”

Freya runs her fingers down her neck and over the front of her dress. “We get out of our clothes – the grass tickles as we lie down – and you give me a wildflower and look at me as if I’m the most precious thing in the world. And you kiss me. You start at my ankle and work your way up. You lick the back of my knee and I don’t know whether to giggle or beg you to do it again.” She shifts, hitching up her skirt, fingers trailing over her thighs. “And then you put your beautiful mouth here.” Hand slipping between her legs, she bites her lip, head falling back, material moving with the motion of her fingers.

Fumbling for the tie on his trousers, Merlin shoves them down to get at his own skin, imagining the slide of her under his tongue – the hitched noises rising from the water meaning he doesn’t have to reach very far.

“And – ” With a gasp, her head falls back, and Merlin can see the wildflower in her hair and the starlight on her skin, feel the hot pulse of her body against his lips.

He comes, clamping down around his own cock, clenched with the effort of not knocking the bowl.

It doesn’t matter. When he opens his eyes, the water is just water, and ache he pocketed years ago tugs everywhere at once.


 

03

Warnings: slavery/ownership of mythical creatures, dub-con

Arthur eyed the odd creature with trepidation, its beak gave him the most worry and sadly there went any ideas for oral he might've had. But he had to hand it to Morgana, this...thing. This Merlin (A newly discovered subspecies of phoenixes kept mostly as pets, arm candy, or accessories by the bored rich and famous; a giant leap from the original god-like warriors in history books.) would definitely do. And as far as birthday presents went, she was winning their little war (7-5, but he wasn’t counting).

Arthur circled around the creature, frowning when he realized it stood taller than he did, but he figured it was the weird talons at the end of very human legs, and yeah, he'd definitely have to keep it in the sex swing or file them down. Other than the beak, its head was remarkably human, piercing blue orbs for eyes, a strong forehead, and ears that went on for days. Black down and feathers covered the creature at the oddest places throughout its also humanoid torso and arms and Arthur couldn’t help but poke and prod.

Merlin (Arthur would keep calling it that. With all the blood rushing to his cock, he wasn’t feeling very creative.) made a squawk-like noise that sounded quite a bit like "Prat" narrowing its eyes at Arthur, judging him. It crossed its arms and closed its wings around itself, but Arthur paid it no mind moving the feathers of the giant wings on its back now, to get a good look at what he’d been given to work with.

And yes. Definitely acceptable.

Arthur smacked the pert little bottom, revelling in the echo of the sound in the empty loft he'd bought just for the purpose of his meetings with the creature.

"Gonna fuck you, Merlin." He told the creature plainly, never one to beat around the bush (he preferred them shaved, thank you) and led it to the giant bed. It was- the only piece of furniture in the entire flat, stationed in the corner by the wall, where he'd already fastened some restraints. (It wouldn't do for him, a giant celebrity movie star, to show up in public with scratches.)

Merlin turned its head and looked back at him as Arthur pushed it forward, snapping its beak and shuffling its feathers, making them stand up, attempting to look threatening. Arthur laughed, the only thing it looked like was what Arthur was about to put his dick into.

And, once he strapped Merlin safely in, facing up, black wings spread out beneath him (definitely him, if the half-hard cock against his stomach was anything to go by) like the night sky or something, they stopped thrashing. Merlin just stared up at Arthur, the clear hatred from before turning now to mild annoyance, the loud screeches kind of like purrs only bird-like as Arthur petted the wings.

When he felt Merlin was sufficiently subdued he felt his way through the soft, downy feathers between his legs, like fuzz, really, only more, until his fingers touched something wet and sticky. He pulled them back to look at them and saw a clear fluid. Merlin turned his head away, embarrassed.

Fuck. Morgana didn't mention self-lubrication. What a lovely surprise.

Without further ado, Arthur pumped himself a couple of times, rubbed his cockhead teasingly among the soft, wet fuzz before sliding all the way home. The heat surrounding his dick was tight, but not unbearably so. Pleasant, in fact. Especially with the way the downy feathers tickled Arthur’s thighs with each push in and out.

It felt too good for Arthur to prolong it, and since he’d get to fuck Merlin whenever he wanted, he didn’t. So he kept fucking into him with increasing speed and strength as sudden keening chirps escaping Merlin’s beak spurred him on.

It was then that Arthur noticed that Merlin was totally erect. His cock doubled in size as it hardened, reminding Arthur of a tripod. Arthur stared at it, and though he'd never sucked cock before, he thought (ironically, since he was fucking a phoenix-creature) 'You only live once,’ and bent his head to lick experimentally. Merlin tried thrusting up as much as the restraints allowed and Arthur thought he heard “Yes” and “Please” so he sucked it like a lollipop.

Arthur continued sucking and thrusting until he felt hot liquid spurting in his mouth. It tasted like French vanilla. Arthur came.


 

04

Captain Arthur Pendragon of the Federation starship Albion was having a bad day. Bad enough that most of his away team had been killed by the surprisingly hostile predominant species on the planet. Bad enough that his Chief Medical Officer Gaius, had declared the survivors on the team couldn’t return to the ship until medical and engineering figured out how to filter the parasites they’d picked up out of their blood via the transporters, lest they infect the whole ship. No he also had to discover that his half-human, half-Vulcan first officer was actually entirely Romulan. Although he supposed it did explain why the Commander’s adherence to logic always seemed constructed for maximum annoyance, and that felt like flirting. It stung thinking about how easily he’d been manipulated.

“So Merlin, I suppose this means your mother didn’t name you after a human legend due to her love of your father’s stories. Who are you really, Commander?” Arthur tried to keep his tone neutral, but from the Romulan’s wince, he must have failed.

“Our family name is M’rys, my mother wanted to be sure I never forgot who we used to be. I’ve been Merlin as long as I can remember though.” He sighed and slid down the wall of the abandoned building they’d hidden out in. The man looked close to tears and Arthur was torn between pity for the pain Merlin was obviously feeling, and revulsion at the blatant display of emotion acting as a reminder of his lies.

“My father was the commander of the Warbird Kilgarrah, he was reported killed in a classified mission, a few months before the destruction of Vulcan. My mother heard a rumor that he was assassinated by a rival, and that we were in danger, so she appealed to an acquaintance of hers in the Vulcan High Council for asylum. We were on our way to Vulcan on a ship with a forged signature when Nero attacked. After that she just pretended we were refugees, and we came to Earth. I grew up there. Earth is the only home I have.”

“I suppose Dr. Gaius is your mother’s friend from the council then, since he isn’t here to defend himself against accusations of treason, but…” He didn’t get to finish that sentence, without even noticing him move, Merlin had gained his feet and pinned Arthur to the wall and had his arm pressed against Arthur’s throat.

“Do not bring Gaius into this,” he snarled. Merlin was pressed against him, eyes wild with rage, skin flushed green, and Arthur had never seen anything so beautiful. Then he cursed his errant dick for its interest. There was a moment where he could feel Merlin growing hard against him as well, before his eyes widened in alarm and Merlin pushed away.

“Sir, I’m..., I didn’t mean..., I’m loyal to you Captain,” he dropped to his knees as all the fight went out of him.

“To me or to the Federation?” Arthur stepped closer to him. Merlin looked up and at him as if the question itself was insane, and Arthur felt his breath catch as he realized that for Merlin loyalty to Arthur was the same thing as loyalty to the Federation.
“Sir,” he said, bowing his head, “I know my people aren’t friends to the Federation, but I only lied because it was the only way to survive. I know that I’ll have to be court martialed, but please, let me help you get back to the Albion.”

Arthur watched the fine tremors of his shoulders until he couldn’t take it anymore and dropped down to kneel next to Merlin. “Commander, we have a five year mission to complete, you’re not getting out of it that easily.”

Again, Merlin moved faster then Arthur could see, and he found himself with his back against the wall once more, and a lap full of first officer. “I won’t disappoint you Captain.”

Arthur inhaled sharply at the realization they were both still hard, and he decided that if he was flagrantly disregarding regulations, one more wouldn’t hurt. He grabbed Merlin’s face to hold him still for a kiss.

As if a switch had been thrown, Merlin’s hands were all over him. He acted like he was trying to fuse bodily with Arthur, grinding their hips together and trying to get his hands under Arthur’s uniform. Arthur’s orgasm shocked him, he’d not come in his pants since he was a teenager.


 

05

Batman, meet Mr. tentacle

 

The Bat Signal blazed in the sky. “Sir?” Giaus said his eyebrows doing a dance of concern.

“Don’t wait up.” Arthur growled as he slid into the Batmobile.

--

Arthur had a lot of faith in the suit that Gwen built him and all the gadgets she’d managed to fit into the ridiculously tight lines of his trousers. He was Camelot’s defender, her knight. Yet.

Arthur wasn’t sure what to do about this.

The object had fallen from the sky and crashed right through a wall and into the north wing of Lakeside Asylum for the Criminally Insane. Even bending a few speed laws he was too late to stem the chaos. Sirens painted the scene in garish light and; whole building had caught fire somewhere along the way smoke pouring out the windows and obscuring the low hanging moon.

“Who escaped?” He cut to the chase, addressing Commissioner Leon.

“Nimeuh, the Wicked Sisters Morgana and Morgause, and the Dragon. I think the Dragon set the fire during the chaos and all the inmates have needed to be evacuated it’s impossible to get an accurate report on who’s missing. We found one of Morgana’s knives in a guard already.”

Arthur bit down on the childish urge to scream and shout in frustration. It wouldn’t help anything. “Any idea what crashed?”

“None, it didn’t even show up on radar until it was right over the city.”

Arthur swept his cape behind him as he turned sharply on his feet. “I’m going in.” He growled and Leon made a token protest but Arthur knew he wouldn’t move to stop the Batman.

What he found in the dark halls of the asylum was a few lingering inmates. He broke the arm of one that rushed him with a fist full of plastic cutlery, and another he found curled in a corner babbling something about a Star Man.

Arthur couldn’t figure out what David Bowie had to do with this until he found the ship. It was blackened along the blunted nose and throwing off showers of sparks where it had been almost ripped in half by the impact, trailing glittering debris. The side was pocked with dents from automatic weapon fire.

Something moved and Arthur reacted instinctively as it grabbed for him, deflecting the hand and whirling to slam whoever it was against the ground. He landed in a figure-four arm bar that didn’t take because it’s ‘arm’ squished becoming a tentacle and bending with the force instead.

He rolled away from it and stared. It looked like it was trying to be human but all its source material was cartoons. The eyes were far too big and an unnatural luminous blue. The angles of the skinny body were all subtly off, head too big and limbs just a little off.

The Batman wasn’t equipped to deal with this.

“Help.” It said, voice coming out a croak.

--

Of all the things ‘Merlin’ had picked up since crash landing on earth and moving into socialite and billionaire Arthur Pendragaon’s house sarcasm was probably the first. Arthur blamed Giaus. With some more observation Merlin managed to look more human at least, even if his ears were still ridiculously large.

He was pressed against one of the huge windows, wearing only a silk robe and the bandages from a fight with the Dragon.

There should’ve been something weird about this (who was he to talk- he dressed as a fucking bat) but instead it was just perfect. Holding Merlin by the jaw and shoving his cock down his throat. Merlin wasn’t human ergo Merlin didn’t have a gag reflex.

He let the window take more of his weight, spreading his legs at the dry slither feeling of Merlin’s (don’t call them tentacles don’t-- oh) tentacle moving up the inside of his thigh. He jerked, caught between the pressure of Merlin pushing into him and the tight wet heat of his mouth as he held Merlin’s head steady as he fucked his throat rough enough to bring a hint of wetness to the corners of Merlin’s too-blue eyes.

He shouldn’t feel like this, stuffed so full of tentacle and coming hard enough that the edges of his vision greyed with Merlin helping support his weight.

“Do you come in peace?” Merlin smirked up at him, sucking a possessive bruise into Arthur’s hip.

He let his head hit the window a hollow thump groaning, “fuck.” Outside the Bat Signal painted the sky.


 

06

Warnings: maybe a hint of Dub-con?

As Merlin shifted against the ropes, he reminded himself that he only had to hold out until morning. Then the villagers would see that he hadn't magically freed himself, that he wasn't a sorcerer, and everything would be fine.

Except it wasn't. His heart jumped when the great shadow loomed over the hill.

Despite not a sign of it for months, the dragon had come for it’s sacrifice this time.

He cringed when the beast landed, its ruby scales glistening brilliantly, then closed his eyes when it reared over him. He hoped in that moment that it would be over quickly, that it wouldn't leave anything for his mother to find in the morning.

When nothing happened though... Merlin squinted an eye open to find the dragon had lowered its head. Its blue eyes roved over his body with ineffable intent, and its serpentine tongue flickered curiously out into the air.

"What are you waiting for?" he yelled when it didn't attack, because he had never been patient, and the anticipation was driving him mad. "Get it over with and kill me already!" His voice was panicky and edged with anger.

When it roared, every hair on his body stood on end, and Merlin snapped his eyes closed again.

"Most humans don't typically want me to kill them, you know," a smoky voice rasped into his ear.

Merlin jerked in shock and his eyes flashed open, meeting vivid blue that were strikingly similar to... He looked wildly around. The dragon was gone, and instead a man- a very naked man- was standing before him, the heat of his body radiating onto Merlin across the small space between them.

"Who? What are you?" He gasped, trying to keep his eyes focused on the handsome face, the shining blond hair that glinted in the sun, and not the proud body that made his own quicken with desire.

"I am Arthur.”

“But!” Merlin protested, and then he bristled when Arthur smirked in understanding.

“Idiot human, did you not know that dragons could change their shape?”

Merlin... hadn't known.

The man's lips quirked into a wicked smile. Now that he was in human form, Merlin couldn’t misinterpret the way his blue eyes traveled over his body.

"So you aren't going to kill me?"

"Why would I want to do that? It would be such a," he licked his lips "waste."

Merlin shivered when a hand palmed his face, then slid lower to feel the contours of his chest, to cup his cock, before pulling away.

"It's been a long time since I have been offered a sacrifice of such loveliness," the man-dragon murmured. "Usually I am offered virgin girls," he scoffed. "What use do I have for a virgin girl? Of course I kill them..."

Suddenly the air twisted, and a dragon stood before Merlin once again. He didn't flinch away, but he did gasp when giant claws wrapped around him, and with a mighty effort lifted him into the air.

~~~

The dragon's- Arthur's- lair was a surprise to Merlin. It was a large cave, but it was clean and there were human comforts. He eyed the fire and large bed of furs.

"Do you like it?" Arthur breathed. "I hope you do, because I don't plan on letting you go."

He gulped, and then let his eyes travel along Arthur’s glorious body. When he led Merlin with meaningful intent toward the bed, he didn’t protest.

Arthur's body was fever hot. Merlin almost couldn't bear to touch him, but he tolerated it, cried for it when a suckling mouth stretched around his cock.

By the time three fingers worked inside of him, he didn't care. "Yes!" He groaned when Arthur turned him onto hands and knees, and then he keened when a fat cock, hard as dragon scales, began forcing its way inside of him.

Arthur growled when he was close, and then he pulled out, flipped Merlin onto his belly and roughly jerked himself until burning hot seed landed on Merlin's stomach. He hissed in pain, then cried out when it combined with the sharp pleasure of fingers once again massaging inside of him, mercilessly pressing against the spot that had him seizing with unbearable pleasure.

And when it was over and he was curled, sated, into soft furs, he decided that being sacrificed to a dragon wasn’t really the worst thing after all.


 

07

Warnings: Do we need to warn for interspecies humanoid sexual activity?

Arthur was eight years old when he discovered Greystone. The young prince crawled through a tower window onto a narrow ledge of castle roof seeking a private place to mourn his dying Nanny. High winds threatened to send him plummeting from the heights to the courtyard below, but the boy found safety cradled in the lee of a stone gargoyle. None but cold stone bore witness to his tears.

At nine, he buried his head in the statue’s lap when his father striped his back for a transgression; at ten, he trembled under its outstretched wing as a family of sorcerers, including a baby, was burned for their crime.

By Arthur’s twelfth year, the harsh demands of training and the pressure of the King’s scrutiny sent him roof-wards more nights than naught, to pour out frustration and whisper secrets to its homely countenance.

At fifteen, Arthur blushingly confessed that he had stolen a kiss from the kitchen maid… and the falconer’s boy… His heart full of feelings, his friend witnessed them all with a grotesque grin and laughing eyes.

On the night of the Prince’s seventeenth birthday, the young man squeezed his broad shoulders through the tiny tower window and hefted himself to the roof above with the ease of many years’ practice. His jaw jutted in anger, he pried viciously with his knife at the moss clinging to the slate tiles. Greystone waited him out with the patience of ages, until he found his words.

“My father has announced that he seeks a bride for me.” Arthur leaned his forehead into the crook of the statue’s squat neck. “I’m… I know he thinks me a man now, but I’m not ready. Not to give myself so wholly to someone I’ve not yet met, to give over every part of myself. I know it must happen – just – not yet. I’m not ready.” He climbed onto the lap of the crouching creature, straddling its leg, and rocked himself to completion against its broad muscular thigh. When he’d had his release, he laid his head against its chiseled shoulder. “I’m not ready to give you up.”

~~~

“Father has given me a new manservant,” he told his stone companion one evening. “A rude, unwashed peasant. Don’t laugh! Do you understand? I’ll have no privacy. How will I come to you if he stalks my chambers with his endless chatter? “

Greystone chuckled, settling Arthur to its chest, where it smelled of rain and moss and wet stone. It ran clawed hands – talons – down Arthur’s bare back. “You have always found your way to me, my Prince,” its low voice rumbled. “Let me distract you from the indignity of this imposition.”

Arthur stroked his hands around Greystone’s thick phallus, guiding it towards himself. Greystone rolled them, laying Arthur down lovingly against the mossy tiles. It crouched between Arthur’s thighs, the round knob of its cockhead nudging unerringly against the slicked circle of Arthur’s opening. Arthur cried out as it pressed inside, the rough scrape of granite on his passage a welcome burn to Arthur’s hungry need. Pulling back, the giant plunged again, and again, lifting Arthur to dizzying heights of pleasure. Its clawed hand grasped Arthur’s dripping cock, squeezing and stroking it until Arthur begged for release. In moments, Arthur painted His lover’s chest with long lines of come. Greystone waited until Arthur had pumped out the last drops of orgasm before gently pulling out. Wiping the come off the crevices of its chiseled chest, it pressed two claws between Arthur’s lips, allowing him to suck the salty taste from cold fingertips.

~~~

With a crash of glass, the window to Arthur’s chambers shattered and a towering monster of gray stone crouched before the Prince’s bed, snarling. The new servant leaped toward the beast, arm outstretched and eyes flashing gold, blasting the creature back. The combatants circled, vying for position between the Prince and their opponent.

“Gargoyle!”

“Sorcerer!”

“STAND DOWN!” Arthur commanded, stepping between them. “Enough name-calling! He turned to his servant. “A SORCERER, Merlin? Really?” he rolled his eyes. “This should make life… interesting.”

“I’ve been trying to protect you, you arse!” the servant glared, wary.

Greystone threw up its head and laughed. “Oh my Prince. You shine so brightly, you blind yourself. Your destiny walks in your shadow, and you cannot see for your own light.” It smiled sadly, soft grey eyes flitting from Merlin to Arthur. “I am no longer needed here.” With a snap of wings, it took flight.


 

08

Arthur swore that next time he would bother to read some reviews before buying an expensive device.

It was not that E-MRYS 2050 was bad at the household chores it was build to do as such, it was magical in all the best ways, but sometimes it was a bit overeager. The problem was that whenever Arthur brought someone home with him, the robot (or Merlin as Morgana had called it ever since Arthur had first used the word magic to describe it) tended to interrupt the action by inquiring if the guest would like any refreshments or if the bed was comfortable enough. It bothered Arthur to do anything in front of the machine even when the intelligence shining out of its sensors was artificial.

He liked sex, but preferred waking up in his own bed and didn’t want to visit some stranger’s flat just to get laid. This had led to Arthur never getting off with the exceptions of quick mutual wanks in backrooms of several clubs and too rarely his own hand at home. Arthur was constantly frustrated at work, because nowadays he never took time at pleasuring himself.

This needed to change as soon as possible. When he finally came home after a long day, he took a glass of red wine to relieve his tension and dimmed the lights. He tried to imagine another person sitting with him on the sofa; he had a mental image of dark hair, blue eyes, and slender body. His breath hitched when he thought about kissing plush lips and fingers searching for the fly of his trousers.

Arthur closed his eyes and teased himself by palming his crotch and touching chest with fingers. He opened his legs wider and opened the trousers, before pushing a hand inside them.

Oh God, it had been too long. He was hard and leaking, and it was going to be so good.

“Do you need any help?”

Alarmed, Arthur opened his eyes and looked for the source of the voice. Two blue lights were shining from the sensors Merlin had in the processing centre and in the semi-darkness the robot looked almost like a human. Before Arthur could answer or give a command to leave the room, Merlin had rolled closer and touched his arm gently.

Arthur had expect the robot to feel cold, maybe metallic, but it was made of some elastic material and felt warm, even hot, to Arthur’s skin. The gentle touch made Arthur moan and wonder what the touch would feel like on his cock.

He did not have to wonder for long, because Merlin was in front of him and lowered itself enough to easily touch Arthur’s stomach.

“Will you allow me to do this?”

Merlin’s fingers, no, no, they were grasping equipment, Arthur reminded himself, were moving softly and pushing his boxers down his thighs past his cock. Then the movement stopped, and Arthur realised the robot was waiting for an answer.

“Yes, yes, please do.”

“At your service.”

Arthur had a feeling that if Merlin could have produced proper facial expressions it would have been smirking right now.

A few drops of clear, slippery liquid landed on his cock. One second later Arthur realised it must have been the oil used to keep his furniture polished. The grasping equipment wrapped around his cock and began to bring him slowly towards an orgasm. Arthur dropped his head on the back rest and imagined clever fingers touching him instead. He tried to keep the thrusts of his hips in check, but it was hard with Merlin holding his cock just right and the oil making the touch slippery and smooth and dear lord, how hot the touch felt on his skin.

Arthur moaned aloud. He needed more. Just a bit more and he would...

Merlin slid the other grasping thing, hand, fingers, fuck, whatever it was, through the oil and under his balls and asked,

“Do you want it like this?”

“Yes, yes, fuck yes,” Arthur breathed. So. Fucking. Close.

When the almost-fingers touched his prostate, Arthur felt a shock of pleasure going through his whole body and came shuddering with Merlin leading him through it.

“I will bring you a towel. I have some cleaning up to do next,” Merlin said and backed off to give Arthur time to recover. Maybe Arthur imagined it, but the electronic voice sounded almost happy.

On a second thought, maybe buying Merlin hadn’t been such a mistake after all.


 

09

Her workroom is hot, even in the dead of winter. The furnace is always burning, steam pouring through her chimney at all hours of the night. The room is in chaos; scrap metal, glass, and wiring litters the floor, the wooden workbenches piled high with strange-looking tools.

She’s grown fond of it.

*

The creation stands in the corner, a complicated series of leather straps holding it in place. Its shape grows more distinct every day, the form of a man becoming slowly visible.

She covers it when she sleeps.

*

Morgana is the only one who visits her, bringing her meals once a week and attempts to coax a smile out of her.

She’s genuinely grateful to Morgana for it, but when Morgana asks, as she always does, if she’s sure this is the right thing to do, she turns away. And when Morgana stands to leave, holding her close for a moment, she whispers in her ear.

“Remember your promise.”

*

She dreams of him almost every night.

If she’s lucky, it’s of his bright smile and soft eyes. A mosaic of the good things they shared; sunlight, dances, whisky, nights full of smothered giggles and soft moans.

Most of the time she’s unlucky. She dreams of battle and bloodshed and promises foolishly begged and even more foolishly kept. She hears herself whisper over and over, “keep him safe, please, for me,” and every time he nods. He never kisses her before he goes.

The war taught her many things. Fear. Anguish. Grief. But, most of all, regret.

*

And so day after day, she builds and polishes, the pieces coming together slowly, order assembled out of chaos. She remembers the things her father taught her, and smiles that her hands are now as work-rough as his had once been.

*

“Are you certain it’s ready?”

“Yes.”

Morgana circles the creation, mingled awe and concern on her face. She runs a finger across the shoulders, up along the neck and cheek.

“How did you do the skin?”

“It’s just a glimmer. It’s really steel and platinum.”

Morgana shoots her a sharp look. “A glimmer? Where did you get that?”

“From Merlin, long ago. Before - everything. It was a gift.”

Morgana doesn’t reply, but drops her hand to rest on the chest.

“And the heart?” she asks quietly.

“Clockwork.”

“I’m not sure - ”

“Morgana, you promised.”

Morgana’s eyes flash for a moment, and she remembers. The war, and what it did Morgana, how betrayal and madness tore at her until she fled, how fearful she is now, how rarely she uses her gifts. Remembers a promise made in fear and despair. “Please,” she adds softly.

Morgana sighs. “Very well.”

*

They lay her creation on the bed in the corner, and Morgana stands at the foot of it, her hand extended, eyes gold. The incantation is surprisingly simple, but she feels the power sparking off Morgana as she chants.

She can tell the moment it happens, can see the instant it goes from well-worked metal and glass to indefinably more.

*

He awakes suddenly, sitting bolt upright. He looks confused and shaken and gloriously beautiful, and she can’t help the way she starts to cry.

He pulls her to him at once, unquestioningly, and she only sobs harder.

“I brought you back to me, Lance. I had to.”

“I know,” he says. “I’m glad.”

*

His hands are different. She built him from memory, not measurement, and they sit differently on her hips, her breasts, the curve of her cheek. But the softness of his touch is achingly familiar.

It feels strange and a little scary, the cold, hard feel of metal under her fingers contradicting the vision of warm, soft skin. She hadn’t thought this far ahead, obsessed entirely with having him here with her again, but she finds herself helpless. He’s been touching her for an age, as if trying to relearn her, and the aching burn low in her stomach has her almost ready to beg.

There’s no tongue on her skin, no ragged breath in her ear, but he slides his fingers inside her and starts to move, and it’s better than it’s ever felt. He’s here, he’s close, she can hear him murmuring in her ear, endearments and promises and so much love her heart can’t hold it all.

He speaks her name, reverent, and she comes sobbing, clutching at his ironwork shoulders, lips pressed to his chest over the heart she made herself.

Gwen.”


 

10

Warnings: feminization, "Felis Sapiens" induced dirty talk

Merlin waits until after he has the knight alone before he lets his hood drop. He refuses to lower his eyes because he has nothing to be ashamed of, but he can’t help but blush from the way the knight - Gwaine - whistles.

"I wondered why you stuck around," Gwaine says, grinning, already palming his crotch like the hormone driven pillock that knights usually are. Merlin doesn't care; Gwaine is undeniably hot and now is as good a time as ever.

Merlin turns away and starts to undress. "Just - can we get on with it?"

"Sure thing, pet," he says, casual as you please but by the time Merlin's undressed, Gwaine is flush up against the back of him, pressing his already hard cock against Merlin's arse. "I'll take care of that pesky virginity for you."

"You're disgusting," Merlin tries to say but Gwaine tangles a hand in his hair, fingers grazing his hyper-aroused ears, and pushes him over the side of the straw bed until his bare arse is in the air, tail flexed. "What—"

"Hush, let me take a look at you."

Merlin hisses, fighting the sound the curls in his chest as Gwaine rakes his fingernails down Merlin's back and palms his arse, spreading him open without hesitation.

"Just," Merlin says but Gwaine is laughing, making his cock leak and his tail twitch.

"Let me run this show, pussycat."

Merlin is about to get up and march out, but Gwaine keeps him spread with one hand as the other goes to jerk hard the base of his tail. Merlin cries out, head going limp with pleasure as his entire body lights up.

"Pretty kitty with the pretty pussy," Gwaine whispers, mouth so hot and close to Merlin's hole. He couldn't - no, he wouldn't -

Gwaine's mouth is sloppy and almost cool against the heat of Merlin's body. The sensation has him bucking back and making an embarrassing noise that Gwaine doesn't shush, but encourages with a soft "yes, there you are", tongue snaking out to lick up and inside.

"Oh, oh," Merlin can hear himself cry out in time with the way Gwaine jerks at his tail with every stab of his tongue. "Fuck, please just—"

Gwaine's mouth is gone, replaced swiftly by the blunt head of his cock and it hurts, oh gods it hurts, but the smell of sweat and sex makes Merlin’s body unfold without his permission and Gwaine sinks until his balls slap against Merlin's arse—all resistance long forgotten.

"You're on fire, babe," Gwaine growls, hips hitching too fast but Merlin can only purr, rutting his ears against the bed and tearing at the sheets. Against all logic, Gwaine's cock feels phenomenally good inside of him. "Gonna fuck those ears right off your precious little head."

Gwaine is grinding into him, punishing hips drilling his cock inside, while he fingers Merlin's fur until he yelps, tail flicking back into Gwaine's face.

"Naughty kitten," Gwaine says with another thrust, before he takes the tip of Merlin's tail into his mouth and sucks.

Merlin screams, fingers grabbing at his ears as pleasure flares up his spine—he's going to come, his cock pressed into the thick straw mattress beneath him. But then Gwaine's changing the angle, hitting something even hotter inside of him and leaning over to cover Merlin's body completely.

"Next time, I could take your arse and I want this inside me," Gwaine moans out into Merlin's tufted ears. "Have your tail curling inside me, pussycat—while I fuck you."

Merlin comes on a mewl, feeling wet slickness inside of him as Gwaine grunts around the wet fur of Merlin's tail, spurting messily between Merlin's cheeks and thighs.

Afterwards, he wakes long enough to realize Gwaine is cleaning him with a cool wet cloth and rubbing at his ears until Merlin can't help but purr at the sensation.

"Too bad they'll be gone before the morning," Merlin hears, still fucked out and sleepy as he butts his head into Gwaine's hands. "You know where to find me pet, ears or no ears, yeah?"

But Gwaine is gone before Merlin can come out of his slumber to reply.

The next morning, Merlin goes to the mirror to take in his new reflection. Only, he sees himself staring back. The ears are still there and the prophesy haunts, hanging heavy and true in the pit of his stomach: only the Once and Future King will make a man from a boy—there your destiny lies.


 

11

He’s shifted so many times he’s not sure he knows his own face anymore. It doesn’t matter though, the world is his for the taking this way.

Lancelot

This may be his favorite skin to wear. The Queen is greedy for this face. She lets him lift her dress and feast on the delectable wetness dripping from her core.

He licks up her slit and slender fingers weave into his hair to pull him closer. She’s delirious with need, tugs at his hair while she rides his face with abandon. He pulls her clit into his mouth and sucks hard until Guinevere screams and comes all over his face.

Morgause

This skin is more difficult. Morgana’s magic is powerful and she can sense this isn’t his true face. She lets him in anyway.

The sorceress’ skin is a beautiful alabaster white that he spends hours caressing. Her flesh prickles in goosebumps, nipples rising to pert attention under his fingers. He sucks one of the rosy buds into his mouth and is delighted as she squirms beneath him.

He pushes two fingers inside her and pumps them without mercy, ripping her release from her. She comes with fingernails digging into his shoulders and her sister’s name on her lips.

Elyan

Wearing this face gets him well and truly fucked. Percival welcomes him into his tent with open arms and forces him on his hands and knees. Long, thick fingers carefully stretch him open before something much larger replaces them and slides in to the hilt.

His muscles contract around the shaft inside him, squeezing it, encouraging it deeper. Percival’s hands grip his hips hard enough to leave bruises, pulling him back to meet each powerful thrust.

“Elyan. Fuck,” the man whispers into the skin at his shoulder. Percival grabs his cock and strokes him so hard it’s bordering on pain. He comes all over his stomach just as he feels the knight release deep inside him.

Gwaine

He has so much fun in this skin. Leon is shy and far too proper, which makes every whine of pleasure, every whimper of want, that much more enjoyable to drag from him lips.

He lets his fingers slip out of Leon’s hole and pulls the man onto his lap.

“Fuck yourself on my cock.” He demands.

Leon’s eyes go wide and his cheeks dust pink. Regardless, he still nods and lifts himself up, ever obedient.

He leans forward and kisses Leon firmly, groaning into his mouth as the other man lowers himself onto his dick. He reaches around the knight and runs his hands over the plump curve of his arse, grasping the meaty flesh and kneading. He guides the man to a steady rhythm, not stopping until his balls pull up tight and he comes hard.

~~~~

He always assumed he’d be found out one day, but he also thought it would be by one of the people he’s fucking; not the King.

He had just come from the Queen’s chamber and Arthur seems to have followed him all the way to the lower town.

Right now he’s wearing a strange mix of Lancelot’s skin and the face of a guard he was shifting into. Magic ebbs and flows through his body, parts of him are peeling and rolling back only to be replaced by something new. The space around him buzzes with energy, expanding to make room for his change.

“Tell me who you are.” Arthur has Excalibur pointed towards him, voice threatening.

“That doesn’t matter.” He answers slowly, hands up in submission. He lets his body settle back into the visage of Lancelot. Someone Arthur trusts. Little pieces of skin lock into place and bones reset until his body finally goes still and settles into the form. “What does matter, is that I can be anyone you want.”

Arthur steps closer, sword nearly resting on his chest. “Anyone? Even--” his voice is steady and face composed, neither betraying the emotions flickering through his eyes.

His head tilts, “Even Emrys. You miss him don’t you? His death must have been hard on you,” he says and takes a small step forward, feeling the cold steel press into skin.

Arthur appears to be warring with himself.

“Do you want to see him again?” he asks. The air around him shimmers and vibrates as his eyes brighten to a shining blue and his lips curl into a goofy grin.

The King gasps, his sword clattering to the ground, forgotten.


 

12

Warnings: AU (duh?), scaly things (ok, dragons), cliches?

Here There be Dragons

 

It was like a dance, a wild, thrashing, crazy dance. One with huge wings, thrashing tails, and glittering scales, in midair. Merlin didn’t know what was worse, sitting here with all the other betas or being invited to join.

Drakes swerved in and around each other, butting heads and breathing fire that licked dragon teeth. Betas perched on the rock outcropping near him stood occasionally, tails raised in blatant invitation. As drakes came to hover around those standing the serpentine tails would lash, lowering swiftly or perking. The latter was offered a clawed hand and dragged into the sky for a courting dance.

Merlin himself was very, very unimpressed. None of the drakes looked his way, or had a mean look he didn’t like. He fluttered his own wings, gold and blue shimmering. He’d been nervous earlier, but now he wanted to be alone. Dread crept in as Gwen accepted the hand of a dark-haired drake. Freya was already chosen. He’d be all alone.

A shadow fell across him. He expected them to leave with another beta but the shadow didn’t move and he bristled as he looked up. A green-winged drake hovered, scales covering bulging muscles but unable to hide the mean look of his face. He held out a hand, demanding. Merlin shook his head though his heart was pounding. He’d stay unchosen, thanks. Even that vicious female drake, the purple one (Morgana perhaps?), looked nicer.

The drake snarled and landed in front of him, against tradition. Not a moment later he was flung off the outcropping. Merlin almost hoped his wings snapped as he fell.

But his attention was diverted by the new drake. Well muscled, with wings that could easily wrap around Merlin three times, his scales, an almost-rusty red-gold, were smattered over his body, forming ridges on his cheekbones and moving like armor over his shoulders. His chest was decked lightly though Merlin could see the seemingly smooth skin glittering like jewels. Blue eyes hadn’t left Merlin. A smirk revealed pointed teeth, which quickly became human-like again. And he was blonde, uncommon, especially for a drake. Which meant this could only be one drake… Arthur, who he hadn’t seen for years. What had he done to deserve this?

---------------------
An arm slipped around his waist and pulled him back into a wall of muscle as he stared at the nest of furs. The wall rumbled. “You like it?”

Merlin shuddered but nodded. “Were you expecting to bring someone home?”

“Here I thought on your own mating day you wouldn’t be mouthy.” He chuckled, and Merlin’s bones liquefied. Luckily Arthur scooped him up and lowered them to the bed, Arthur lying over him with just their breeches between.

Arthur snuffled into his hair, and Merlin poked his side. “Teasing now?” He was thrilled his voice sounded confident with his stomach trying to rebel.

Arthur bit at his neck, making Merlin arch. “Impatient. I want to enjoy my spoils.”

His firm thigh against Merlin’s erection cut off his protest, and allowed Arthur to continue. Merlin could only press against his thigh to work himself toward pleasure as Arthur seemed content where he was. Until Merlin started shaking he was so close.

It was then Arthur stopped him, clawed hands on Merlin’s hips to still him and peel his pants away. “Arthur, please…”

A growl broke over him. “You come on my cock, Merlin. My mate.”

Merlin could only moan and cling to him, fingers dipping to run over the smooth membranes of his wings. They twitched under his touch and Arthur reached outside the nest for a flask of oil.

Merlin flushed and spread his legs slowly. All the male betas were taught preparation, and told to practice. He pried the bottle from Arthur’s resisting hands, coating his own fingers to prepare himself while Arthur watched, enraptured.

Merlin shuddered around his own fingers, eyes clenched shut, and almost came out of his skin when a thick finger pushed between his own. He nearly went cross-eyed with pleasure and looked up to see Arthur’s pupils blown wide.

Another growl came and Merlin was keenly aware of Arthur’s red-gold tail, its spiked end menacing in the half-light as Arthur knelt over him. He brought his hands to Arthur’s shoulders and a sudden wave of pain swept through.

Arthur paused, actually leaning down to kiss him. The shock of that alone made Merlin open his mouth, moaning softly as Arthur pushed forward. “Hmm…” The hum vibrated through them both. “Mine.”


 

13

Warning: some violent imagery, alien robot sex (for Tform fans: a form of Plug 'n Play, Spark sex)

Vivitron stumbled along the darkened street, energy levels so low her processor glitched every few steps, making her stumble sideways into half-ruined buildings and piles of rubble.

The tower, her home. She had watched it fall, fled the liquid fire that rose in its wake. Primus.

Gone was her status as the sparkling of a Councilmember. Gone the extra rations and the vicious, idle play with her agemates. Gone security, entitlement. Gone the days when her only concern was whether she had scratched her paint while plugging into some other highborn youngling.

Iacon was burning. The rebellion was real. Uther Prime, if he still lived, might fall like Olaf's tower had, in flames.

She made her way toward the edges of the city, away from the smoldering fires and their angry smoke. Frag it, that was energon burning. Food. She was so hungry, desperate, and she knew she would not reach the safety of the plains outside the city if she could not find energy somewhere.

Exhausted, she crashed once more into a wall and stayed there, tipping forward as her optics went dark.

^

She came back online slowly. Diagnostics sprang to life, damage reports and self-repair sequences. Someone was connected, her emergency fuel line sunk deep into another mech's tanks. Whimpering, she unshuttered her optics.

An older mech with maroon coloring sat with her head propped on his lap. "Hush, youngling," he told her when she tried to rise. "You ran too low. Give your systems time to self-repair."

"I am not a youngling," she said primly, or tried to. Her vocalizer rasped, as drained as the rest of her body.

He smiled gently. "Of course not."

The feeling of taking energy directly from another mech was strange to her. Half-formed memories from when she was a sparkling returned - Olaf had done this for her when she was too small and primitive to feed herself, in the first few weeks of life, while her programming sorted itself out. It should have made her feel small and weak again to do it now, but something about the quiet way the other mech sat did not insult her dignity.

Not only sparklings but lovers, too, did this - and friends, to save each others' lives. Or so the holovids told her. She had never needed such help, had never felt the sensitive port of her adult siphon tube slide beneath armor, deep into another mech's vulnerable protoform. She shuddered, sensor nodes coming online one after another, all reporting the perfectly snug fit of her siphon within the other mech's tank.

The energon within tasted different from the high grade she was accustomed to. Rather than a pure hit of energy, it was spicy, flavored with dozens of trace elements her systems latched onto eagerly, absorbing them through the walls of her own tank and sending them to help rebuild damaged systems.

She could taste, feel. Her frame shuddered, responding to this newfound sensitivity after so long feeling numb.

Are you well? The mech commed, concern overlaying his message.

She tried to block him out, but a brief burst of static from her was enough for him to understand, his own optics widening.

"I am sorry," he said, "I did not mean to-"

His spark pulsed involuntarily, and her own jumped in reaction. He tried to retreat, guilt layering his processors, and why could she feel his thoughts anyway? Ah, the tube. It was warming, suction easing, preparing to detach now that she had adequate supplies. Abruptly, she realized she did not want to disconnect.

Who are you? she asked, even as her spark throbbed again, sending a wash of energy through them both.

His optics shuttered. Aglain, he whispered across the growing bond, desperate already. The name carried a thousand flavors of his past. She saw a refugee camp full of sparklings, old mechs, the damaged. She saw how he purified energon from contaminated sources and brought it to his people. She caught a brief glimpse of the inside of the council chambers, long ago. Before Uther Prime began murdering his people. The words were not hers, but even as she recoiled at the thought, she was reaching for the voice itself.

Please. Her chest casing opened, offering her vulnerable spark in this dirty street in the midst of a burning city. And gently, slowly, he opened to meet her.


 

14

Arthur woke up in a cave, but he was certain that he'd fallen on the battlefield.

The low embers of a fire burned nearby. He was resting on a bed of furs. The dawn -- or the sunset -- shone diffused light outside. The wind whistled, the birds sang, the branches clacked.

Arthur had no recollection of coming to this cave. He didn't remember there even having been a cave near the killing grounds.

But he was alive, and he had dreamed of a man with shining, golden eyes snuffling at his injury and washing him with his rough tongue. It was so absurd a memory that Arthur would have laughed had he the strength, but where there had been a wound was now a scar, and he was nearly hale.

Arthur reached for his clothes. He froze as the shadows shifted, at the deep, warning growl that echoed in his soul.

It was a cat, but not like any he'd ever seen. It was as large as a man, bigger than any wolf. The sunlight gave it no colour; its fur was as black as pitch and its eyes were an unnatural gold, shining bright all on their own.

It padded inside the cave, its long tail swishing. There was a flash of sharp, white fangs when it bumped a paw against the cauldron warming by the coals. The contents tipped and doused the low flames in a huff of steam and smoke.

Arthur fumbled for a weapon.

The cat stretched out on top of him, heavy but not suffocating, tickling bare skin with soft, soft fur.

Arthur's sword was... almost --

Strong, slender fingers closed around Arthur's wrist. A whispered shush was too human to be animal. Arthur looked down and into the golden eyes of a man.

A shapechanger.

Arthur had only heard of them from his father's old Knights, those who had gone and hunted down every single one, showing the beasts no mercy. He touched the man's face, disbelieving, and the man smiled.

The cat -- the man -- was beautiful. The glow in his eyes had faded, but not until Arthur had seen a glimpse of the blue in them before it was too dark to see. He had a strong, angular face, lovely cheekbones, a soft mouth. There was a heady, mesmerizing scent to him, and from the way he was stretched shamelessly against Arthur, he was long and lean and naked.

Arthur's cock twitched. He abandoned the sword at his fingertips and wrapped his arm around the man.

Beyond the cave, loud voices barked in a barbarian tongue. Arthur tensed, his heart pounding. He recognized the enemy.

There were shouts, laughter, thrashing sounds. They were coming closer.

"Trust me," the shapechanger whispered, and Arthur was enthralled by the flash of gold in his eyes.

He waited. They waited. The barbarians departed.

Arthur caught himself inhaling the shapechanger's rich, musky scent. It made Arthur dizzy. It made Arthur kiss the man.

There was a new sound.

Purring.

The man nuzzled at Arthur's throat. Pressed light kisses under his ear. Ran a tongue, scratchy and moist, along his jaw.

Arthur bit his lip to keep from moaning. The man's hand danced over his skin before wrapping around Arthur's cock and stroking with such a feathery touch that Arthur's back arched, hips fucking that circle of slender fingers, wanting more.

Abruptly, Arthur was held down, smothered by both weight and messy kisses, his thighs parted by the rough kick of knees and a rearranging of limbs. He gasped at the press against his ass, at the insistent push that hurt until the man's cock was seated deep, at the brief, panting pause before the burn of the first few thrusts became glorious pleasure. Arthur reached between them, fisting his own cock, and he was at the frustrating crest, unable to come --

A sharp bite on the soft flesh between shoulder and throat, sharp enough to draw blood, should not feel so good --

The shapechanger spilled his heat inside Arthur even as Arthur came. The shapechanger kissed and nuzzled before pulling out roughly to lap at the mess on Arthur's stomach.

The fire burst to life with the glow of golden eyes. The shapechanger leaned over Arthur and kissed him, his lips moving in soundless words until he breathed a growling "Mine."

The big black cat padded to the mouth of the cave, pausing to look over his shoulder at Arthur, and was gone.


 

15

Arthur ducks swiftly into the spare room, hoping the door won’t squeak as he closes it quickly behind him. He can still hear Morgana bellowing at him from the hall, and the click-click of her stilettos as she chases him down.

“I will kill you, Arthur. You and your football!” Morgana shouts. “That vase cost a fortune.”

Nothing for it. Arthur assesses the situation with military precision and decides to make a tactical retreat to the empty wardrobe in the corner. He remembers to leave the door open a crack, because he knows it is a very foolish thing to shut oneself into a wardrobe.

He dives deeper into the wardrobe, tripping over something and stumbling backward, landing his arse in a pile of something wet. “That’s disgusting,” Arthur mutters to himself, before he turns around and discovers that the wetness is actually a clump of snow.

Arthur gets to his feet, bewildered, and finds himself in a forest, with snow falling thickly around him. He see a light coming from far off, beyond the trees. He squints through the crack of the wardrobe door into the spare room, making sure he knows the way back, although he’s not keen on facing Morgana just yet. Nonetheless, Arthur Pendragon is not a man to say no to an adventure. He grabs a tree branch from the snowy ground for protection, heading for the mysterious light in the distance.

---

Arthur reaches the light—it turns out to be an old-fashioned lamppost—and wonders what in the bloody hell is happening. Before he can ponder on that too much, he hears the crunch-crunch of feet in the snow behind him. He whirls to face his enemy, brandishing his tree branch.

A half-human creature is staring at him with undisguised surprise, red woollen scarf around its neck and tail wrapped neatly around its arm. Arthur stares at the creature’s horns, at its large ears, and at the bright blue eyes looking back at him with equal curiosity. Its bottom half, though—its legs aren’t those of a human, and instead more like those of a goat. Arthur’s eyes skate over the creature’s bare chest, and since it isn’t wearing trousers either, Arthur sneaks a look between its legs and, well, it’s definitely male. And, actually, rather hung like—

“—a horse,” Arthur says involuntarily, and most definitely does not think about riding him.

The creature looks positively livid. “I’m not a horse!” he says indignantly. “I’m a faun. I don’t have those nasty hooves like horses do—my feet are cloven.”

Arthur snorts a laugh, dropping his branch. Of course, he’s a faun.

The faun glares at him. “And what, exactly, are you?”

Arthur blinks. “I’m a human, of course.”

The faun looks startled. His gaze softens into something bright and hopeful, and his smile makes Arthur’s heart beat faster. “Well, that does explain why you look so cold,” he says, unwinding the scarf from around his neck. Without a word of permission, he steps closer to loop it carefully around Arthur’s neck. The faun’s hands are warm, lingering on his shoulders, and they’re only a breath apart, looking into each other’s eyes. Arthur leans forward just a little, unable to stop himself. The faun tilts his head, and—thank bloody hell—presses his lips to Arthur’s.

When they pull apart, Arthur manages enough coherency to say, “My name is Arthur.”

That gets him a slow, languorous look that sends heat coiling deep in Arthur’s belly. “My name is Merlin,” the faun says. “Would you like to come over to my place for tea?”

---

Normally, Arthur knows better than to go home with strangers, much less strange strangers who live in caves, but Merlin’s legs are covered in silky, smooth hair that feels absolutely fucking fantastic on Arthur’s cock, and he can’t bring himself to care. They fuck in front of the roaring fireplace, and Arthur finds that he doesn’t mind the fact that he’s shagging a bloody faun so much as he minds the carpet burns. There’s broken pottery around them—good thing Morgana never managed to find her way here—and stains on the carpet that are not all from Merlin’s tea tray.

“What did you say this place was called?” Arthur pants breathlessly between rounds, using the curve of Merlin’s shoulder as a convenient pillow.

“You're in Camelot,” Merlin says, drowsy and warm beside him. “Where you’ll be king.”


 

16

“You look like death warmed over,” Merlin quipped as soon as he opened the door. “Get it? Because it’s hot today, and you’re--”

“Yes, Merlin, I get it.” Arthur rolled his eyes as he pushed his way inside Merlin’s studio apartment. “What I don’t get is how you can still find that joke funny when you’ve used it a hundred times before. And if you say something about me just being too ‘grim’, I swear I will kill you.”

Merlin grinned, his eyes twinkling mischievously as he headed towards the kitchenette. “We both know how well that’d work out.”

Arthur sighed, sinking down onto Merlin’s couch. “You know, there used to be a time where people respected or even feared death.”

“I keep telling you, if you want to scare people, you should start carrying around the scythe again,” Merlin chuckled, handing Arthur one of the two cans of beer he had retrieved from the fridge before plopping down in his seat. “I also think that you should blame Blue Oyster Cult for being too damn catchy with their, ‘Come on baby, don’t fear the reaper, baby take my hannnnd...’”

“What have I told you about singing that around me?” Arthur groaned, taking a swig of his beer and ignoring how it tasted like ash in his mouth. He only took comfort in the action, a reminder of the humanity he never truly had.

Merlin pouted. “C’mon Arthur, it’s a great song.”

“I know,” Arthur said, hiding his smirk behind his beer can, “which is why I don’t want you butchering it.”

“Prat,” Merlin snorted, elbowing Arthur in the side. "Tell me you didn't come here just to make fun of my vocal skills."

Arthur never knew how to really explain it, how after doing the job for literally eons, some days it still got to him. "...I guess I just wanted to forget for a little bit."

Sympathetic understanding flickered over Merlin's face. He calmly plucked Arthur's beer out of his hands, setting it off to the side with Merlin's own. "Okay," Merlin said, moving to straddle Arthur's lap. "Let’s forget."

It was like a switch had been flipped inside Arthur at Merlin's words. He rose up to kiss and suck at Merlin's mouth greedily, weaving his hands into strands of silky black hair. Humans had no idea how lucky they were, to be able to connect with others through mere touch. Most of the time, Arthur couldn't even lay one finger on a person without them keeling over dead, their skin growing ashen as their lifeforce was drained.

Merlin was the only exception; his skin glowed radiantly under Arthur's touch, his magic thrumming just beneath the surface. Arthur loved to create patterns of light as his fingers danced over inch of Merlin's body, loved the sounds Merlin made during this golden waltz.

"Arthur, please," Merlin moaned, his fingers frantically scrambling at the fabric of Arthur's clothes. "I need you."

Arthur secretly thought it was the other way around, more than eager to comply with Merlin's request. He kicked off his shoes and tugged off his shirt, jeans, and boxers--he had ditched the traditional black robes decades ago--before helping Merlin remove his own. At every sight of previously covered skin, Arthur stopped to trace over it in awe, until Merlin was left squirming anxiously. "Gods, Arthur, will you stop playing around and fuck me already?"

"For being immortal, you're too damn impatient," Arthur retorted as he laid Merlin down onto the couch. He liberally coated two fingers with the lube from the side-table drawer, trailing down past Merlin's balls to push inside his entrance.

Merlin whimpered in response, raising his hips to meet in time with Arthur's thrusts, his ankles linking together behind Arthur's back. Arthur grabbed Merlin's straining erection with his free hand, swirling designs of buzzing magic along the hardened length before firmly stroking Merlin's leaking cock.

"Fuck!" Merlin shouted, bucking against the cushions already dampened with sweat. "Fuck, I'm going to--"

The rest of Merlin's words were cut off as Arthur's crooked fingers suddenly pressed against Merlin's prostate, and Merlin came with a sharp cry, shooting milky ropes against his stomach and chest.

Arthur didn't need Merlin to reciprocate, not when Merlin shuddering and breathing heavily underneath him was the only thing in the world that made him feel alive.


 

17

 

A Sea Change

“It’s lovely, Arthur. You should join me,” Merlin raises his voice so that it will carry over the swish of the waves rushing up the shingle, and the plaintive cries of the seagulls overhead.

“I’m good thanks.” Arthur waits on the shore. He’d refused to even paddle, despite the punishing heat of the sun.

“Your loss!” Merlin turns to float on his back, letting the swell of the ocean rock him, luxuriating in the silky-cool water cradling his naked body. Gentle arousal curls in his belly from the soft caress of each ripple and swirl of the water over his skin.

He flips back onto his front and swims a little further out. He wonders why Arthur refused to swim, usually he’s the first to strip off and dive into a river on a hot day. The mere sight of the ocean seemed to make Arthur unaccountably tense, and Merlin wondered whether his refusal was born of fear. But he knew better than to ask.

Merlin is distracted from his musings as the water temperature drops sharply and the sudden fierce tug of a current drags him away from the shore. He tries to swim against it, but it’s all he can do to stay afloat. He flails and struggles, panic filling him as his head slips below the surface. His mind scrabbles frantically for a spell to save himself that won’t reveal his powers to Arthur, but the burn of brine in his nose is distracting. He tries again, pulling the threads of his magic together. But before he has time to collect and channel the power coursing through him into something constructive, his body is gripped tight and thrust back to the surface.

Merlin chokes and splutters. “Arthur... how?” He coughs again, his throat raw and stinging, trying to makes sense of what’s happening.

Arthur is there; warm arms wrapped around the cool skin of Merlin’s torso in a way that’s surprisingly pleasurable considering the near-death situation. But something isn’t right, the lower half of Merlin’s body is being held too -- but by something cool, and bumpy... and slightly slimy.

“Argh!” Merlin flails again, grabbing at the things, which turn out to be tentacles. He wriggles frantically, trying to prise them off.

“Merlin... Merlin!” Arthur’s tone makes Merlin pause. “It’s okay... they’re mine.”

Merlin stares into Arthur’s eyes, as blue as the ocean glittering around them. Arthur’s cheeks are flushed as he stares back, his jaw set.

“Arthur...” Merlin whispers. “What are you?” He looks down, needing to see.

Where Arthur’s legs should be, there are greenish-grey tentacles, currently wrapped tightly around Merlin and holding him close. But from the hips and up Arthur is all man -- impressively so in the important places, Merlin notes. His body responds instinctively despite the strangeness of the situation, and his hands slide from tentacles to waist and find smooth warm skin. He presses his hips into Arthur's and their cocks bump together, hot under the cool water.

Arthur gasps, and his hands cup Merlin’s cheeks, pulling his face up so their eyes lock before he leans in to press their lips together.

Arthur tastes of the sea as they rock together in the waves. In that moment, nothing else matters to Merlin but the sensations building between them, racing through Merlin’s senses like a rip tide. Merlin brings a hand down to grip their cocks together, holding tight. Arthur thrusts against him while he explores every inch of Merlin’s body -- hands in his hair, on his chest, skimming over his ribs. The cool slide of tentacles prise Merlin’s legs apart and he wraps them around Arthur’s waist, crying aloud in surprised pleasure as the tip of something soft, yet determined, squirms its way inside him.

“Gods, Merlin,” Arthur mutters against his neck. Their hips grind sinuously together as the tentacle curls and twists in Merlin’s arse. “Wanted you for so long... I never knew...”

Merlin laughs then, a joyous sound as he throws his head back to shout his pleasure to the sky, spilling his seed into the ocean. Arthur follows him, cock pulsing in Merlin’s hand as his body shudders. When Merlin’s eyes meet Arthur’s again he sees shock and confusion, and knows that Arthur caught the flare of gold before it faded.

“Merlin?” Arthur questions, frowning.

Merlin looks down at Arthur’s tentacles and grins. “I think we both have a little explaining to do, don't you?”


 

18

Arthur didn’t remember gaining independent thought. He didn’t remember what his life was like before that either. All he really knew was a deep aching loneliness that echoed throughout his consciousness and that, sometimes, being a sentient computer program sucked. Really, when he thought about it, his entire life was a fucking ‘first world problems’ meme.

**

Arthur went through trends on the internet, if only to stave off his relentless boredom.

Every few months he would spend days spamming random inboxes with chain emails (‘forward this to 10 friends in the next 10 hours or YOUR MOTHER WILL DIE.) and penis size enhancement adverts (‘Gain an extra 2 inches or your money back!’). Usually, afterwards, he’d feel vaguely guilty, as if he’d ignored some unspoken prime directive before remembering that he used to be some type of anti- virus software and that rebellion was good for the soul.

He never felt guilty about the mid-2000’s though; when, lonely and bitter, he rickrolled thousands of people. That shit was hilarious.

**

Arthur’s current fad was fandoms.

To him the standard supernatural fan went through a similar metamorphosis to that of a vampire. They started out humanely innocent, were drained emotionally of all feeling; seduced and debauched by the fandom and its kinks, and then reborn into the world, unrecognisable from their original state, to turn others onto Supernatural and expand their immortal coven of wickedness.

In comparison, now that the novels and films were complete, Arthur regarded the Harry Potter fandom as if it were a zombie; dead to all new life and canon, but, if you weren’t careful, it could still grab you tight, consume your brain and devour you whole before the notion to run had even crossed your mind.

The Sherlockians, well, they were ghosts; awake but dead until the new season started, and then they were angry, violent and vengeful like the angry spirits they emulated. The less said about them the better really.

Fandoms were addictive. Arthur loved it.

***

It was hard for Arthur to find any decent conversation on the internet. He could converse with users by leaving messages on forums and commenting on blogs but the interaction often felt like a lie; he wasn’t human and a human wouldn’t understand his issues (“Ugh, I found a bug in my coding today and it took forever to get out. #FIRSTWORLDPROBLEMS. LOL.”), just like the only way he could understand theirs was through mimicked repetition of other users responses.

The only other possible conversant around was cleverbot whom, besides being as pretentious as his name indicated, was also exceedingly dull. So dull his name should have been something ordinary, like George so he could fade into obscurity faster.

With his lack of experience communicating, epic failure could only be expected when Arthur met the only other sentient computer program around.

**

“Hi, I’m Merlin”

“Shh, Sherlock's about to jump. God Cumbersnatch is the best part of the entire show.”

“Andrew Scott says no.”

“I believe in Sherlock Holmes!” Arthur glared, his program freezing in contempt.

“Richard Brook was innocent!” Merlin parroted back mischievously whilst Arthur rebooted, unable to respond.

**

The second time they met Arthur spent the entire awkward conversation (“So I’m not alone then? Good to know”) trying to adapt a human pick up line to work to his advantage. “Do you wanna come back to my place and compare codes?” or “I’d like to put my 1 in your 0” seemed serviceable, except Arthur's ‘place’ was the internet and he was a fucking sentient computer program who lacked the physical capability to touch. So, all in all, the venture seemed doomed to ridiculous failure.

Arthur could certainly imagine though. He lived on the internet, he was active in fandom; he had seen a lot of porn.

**

The third time they met Arthur and Merlin were pwning n00bs on World of Warcraft, Arthur’s golden warrior avatar, broad shouldered and strong, in stark contrast to Merlin’s darkly intoxicating waifish elfin mage.

“So…” Arthur began stiltedly.

Merlin bypassed words by kissing him soundly on the lips. Arthur’s coding tingling as Merlin’s avatar pressed closer to his own, tongues simulating the merging of their codes into one program.

Merlin ran his hand along the inner thigh of Arthur’s avatar uncertainly as Arthur groaned. He couldn’t really feel the touch but the phantom sensation of Merlin’s hands along his body ignited his imagination.

Arthur allowed himself to be pushed down and taken; Merlin’s cock a foreign sensation in his body that registered throughout Arthur's coding, joining them together as if they had been two parts of the same program all along.


 

19

Arthur grew up knowing very little about his mother. He’d been told she was beautiful and graceful, of course. Over and over he’d heard of all the things that made her fit to be queen of Camelot. The rest, he uncovered gradually, each new piece of information like a leaf emerging from the spring melt, its autumn descent all but forgotten.

Over time, Arthur learned that his mother had loved embroidery. She’d held hands with the infirm and walked daily with the elderly. Her favourite food was cantaloupe, and she couldn’t abide strawberries.

She was also a werewolf. This detail, Arthur suspected, only he knew.

On the first full moon of his twentieth year, Arthur quickened. It was painful and disorienting, and even years later, he remembered nothing of that first transformation.

While hunting the next day, still incredibly sore from his body’s drastic metamorphosis, Arthur learned he could smell his game, could hear the nuances of their movement.

It was this very acuity of senses that revealed a new, more fascinating prey to Arthur.

When Merlin walked into the room with breakfast his first day back from Ealdor, he carried the scent of desire with him. It hit Arthur so hard he had to dig his fingernails into his palms to keep from wrestling Merlin into the bed and burying his nose behind one of Merlin’s ridiculous ears. He wanted nothing more than to grab handfuls of Merlin’s flesh and simply drown in the scent of him, an urge he’d never felt before, and one from which the wolf would never release him.

Arthur’s growing awareness revealed something incredibly strange: Merlin spent an inordinate amount of time sneaking about Arthur’s chambers at night.

Every few nights, Arthur stirred at the sound of Merlin’s leather soles padding across the floor. Most often, he merely stood watching Arthur as though verifying the rise and fall of his chest. He looked behind the changing screen and the drapes as though expecting to find an intruder lurking in their midst.

All together, it was touching the way Merlin lingered protectively like a watchdog, sometimes falling asleep leaning against the foot of Arthur’s bed as though his small presence might somehow stave off a determined assassin. These nights were Arthur’s favourites, Merlin’s deep breathing keeping him company until dawn, when he would sneak out of the room. Minutes later, he would return with breakfast and a rosy disposition that did not at all give away that he’d spent all night sleeping on the floor.

Arthur quickly learned that Merlin’s top priority was Arthur’s safety. It surpassed the loyalty of a servant towards his master, and even that of knight towards king. Arthur knew that without a moment’s hesitation, Merlin would die to save him, but he still didn’t understand why.

Until one night he caught Merlin asleep at the foot of the bed, one of Arthur’s tunics bunched up in his hand against his nose.

Arthur’s chest swelled with tenderness as he reached down to take the tunic from Merlin, who yanked it back.

As Merlin stirred into consciousness, Arthur watched his face morph from sleepy contentment to abject horror.

“Arthur, I ... must have fallen asleep gathering the laundry.”

“Get up,” Arthur said.

Merlin stood, tunic still clutched in hand, and made for the door. Arthur caught him by the shoulders and hauled him back into the bed.

Merlin’s face was unreadable as Arthur tore his shirt off and shoved him back, plucking off his boots. All of Arthur’s qualms were silenced when Merlin lifted his hips to help Arthur pull off his trousers. There was no question; he wanted this.

“God, fuck!” Merlin cried out as Arthur pressed his face to Merlin’s groin, sucking in his scent.

The dark scent of Merlin made Arthur growl. He and the wolf shared this, this newfound need for Merlin’s skin.

Reaching a hand up to press over Merlin’s chest, Arthur pulled Merlin’s half-hard prick into his mouth.

He soaked up every noise Merlin made, loving the way Merlin enveloped him in a pocket of sensory bliss. He sucked Merlin’s cock until he came with a shout, leaking fluid into Arthur’s mouth that made his tongue go numb. He rubbed his hand over Merlin’s fast-beating heart.

Twining his fingers with Merlin’s, nose pressed against his damp neck, Arthur’s mind conjured an image of his mother linking arms with an elderly peasant on a summer’s afternoon. He was proud to be her son.


 

20

Merlin did a double take, triple take, frozen in the entryway of his private chamber. A strange man stood beside his bed, lighting the darkness more efficiently than a roaring fire. He wasn’t sure if the man was real or a figment of too much alcohol, his loneliness conjuring up a golem of magic.

The man had broad shoulders and thick arms, and golden skin that glowed like the light of the morning sun. His breath was captured, held captive by the man far too beautiful to be anything but imaginary.

“Are…are you real?”

The man cocked his head to the side and looked thoughtful. “You’re the one who called me here, Emrys.”

~

Merlin rejoiced with the crowd, cheering loudly as Arthur presented his bride. Petals showered the courtyard, and Gwen’s smile was bright with laughter and joy.

He approached his friends and wished them all the happiness in the world. He gave Arthur a tight hug and kissed Guinevere on the cheek.

After an endless night of drinking and dancing, Merlin retired to his room, exhausted. He rubbed at his sternum, trying to push the sharp ache back in its box.

~

Merlin frowned and assessed the stranger before him. He wasn’t so gone off his senses that he didn’t remember the evening, and he was certain that he hadn’t summoned the man – creature – that was currently lighting up his chambers like a torch.

“What are you?”

The man moved closer and reached out to press a finger to Merlin’s lips, silencing him as effectively as if he had said a spell. He smiled and his eyes lit like fireflies, swirling with magic.

A whisper of familiarity tugged the back of his mind.

A breath.

A beat of silence, and then the magic exploded like a crack of lightening and they were kissing. Hot lips devoured each other and magic swirled around them. His arms wrapped around him, and Merlin had the vague sensation of sinking into a hot bath. He felt wild and bright and remade, like Excalibur being born into flame.

Pushed up against a wall, he felt like he was being pressed between cold stone and the sun. He lost track of himself, drinking in the man against him, tall and powerful and familiar. He belatedly realized that they were both nude, but instead of questioning how or when, he rubbed his hands up and down a solid chest of burnished, burning bronze.

They were slick with sweat, pushing frantically against each other, searching for that perfect friction. Magic sizzled across his skin like a current and he felt like he was absorbing the man’s light, burning up from the inside.

He felt the exact moment when the sun crested over the horizon.

~~

“Is it true that a dragon used to live beneath the castle?”

Merlin smiled at the boy and nodded. “Yes. He was released not long before your father became King.”

Tiny blue eyes widened in shock and fear. Merlin chuckled and ruffled the boy’s wild, dark curls. “Don’t fret; the danger has long since passed. Dragons are nothing you should worry about.” He settled in to tell the young prince the story of Kilgarrah, editing it carefully to safely entertain an eight-year-old.

He absentmindedly rubbed at the ache in his chest.

~~

When Merlin woke the next morning, the ache pressing down on his chest was gone for the first time in decades. The static charge of magic permeated the air around him and he felt fresh and new. Merlin warmed when he saw that the strange man was still beside him, his body even more radiant in the new light of the day. As if sensing Merlin’s stare, he opened his eyes.

“I don’t even know your name,” Merlin whispered, tucking an errant strand of white-blond hair behind an ear, “but I think I know you.”

The man shifted closer, kissing up his neck and playfully nipping at his ear. “Yes, you do,” he murmured.

Puzzled, he tried to remember when he had ever encountered a creature as beautiful as the one before him. He thought back on their meeting, when he suddenly remembered the only words the man had spoken. As swiftly as though he had always known it, Merlin remembered. “I called you,” Merlin hedged. The man nodded, his smile brightening. Laughter bubbled up inside of him as the pieces locked together and his chest swelled with joy. He did call him.

“Aithusa.”


 

21

Arthur walks straight into the Tower of London, no queuing. He's got himself a membership by now, and why not? He's always been passionate about the past, remembering it, honouring it, preserving it. At this hour, most tourists are on their way out; it’s far too near the end of the day to see everything. But there’s just one particular part Arthur’s here to visit, and as he makes his way to the Salt Tower, anticipation prickles in his blood.

Inside is a twisting stone staircase, leading straight up. Arthur’s breathing hard by the time he reaches the top and steps out into the bare, round chamber. There’s no furniture, and the main feature of interest is the walls, covered in centuries upon centuries of prisoners’ graffiti.

Arthur doesn’t shiver. Never does. There’s never any chill creeping over his skin, nor cold settling into his bones. He isn’t sure if popular culture has got ghosts wrong in general, or if it’s just something about Merlin.

Merlin is the warmth pressing into Arthur now, spreading from his chest down to his toes. He’s nothing that Arthur can see, but Arthur still knows him, inside and out.

“Hello,” Arthur says. He’s smiling like a fool, he knows. Something he doesn’t really do outside this room, but it’s safe here, between them.

“Hi,” Merlin says, into his head. Then there’s a touch, just under Arthur’s ear, and another, and another, all along the line of his jaw. Merlin’s a relentless nuzzler, and Arthur, who has never been terribly good at loving softly and gently, has found himself addicted.

“So what’s the count?” Arthur asks. He reaches out and feels shoulders, rounded and firm - still invisible, but more solid by the instant, the more contact Merlin has with Arthur’s body. “How many tourists did you terrorise today?”

“I don’t terrorise,” Merlin says. Arthur raises a thumb to find and trace Merlin’s affected pout. “I give them an authentic Tower experience.”

“Of course you do.” Arthur follows his thumb with his lips, and bites at Merlin’s until he feels heat slide inside his mouth. Merlin has ruined him for kissing the living, strange but true; no-one alive has ever come close to taking Arthur apart like this, and he’s no longer interested in giving anyone the chance to try.

Once, early on, when Merlin’s touch on Arthur’s cock had been little more than a vague, teasing warmth, before Merlin had been able to project fingers to circle it with, a thumb to rub over his slit, Arthur had thought about that heat and asked, “Were you burnt at the stake?”

Merlin, accepting of Arthur’s complete lack of tact even then, had hummed and said, “Last time I remember, I was beheaded.”

It was awhile before Arthur saw the gaps in that answer, and considered the implications of the last time. He thinks about it again now as he kisses down Merlin’s neck - unmarred, no gruesome scar under his lips, just the warm, firm feeling of skin. It’s easy to imagine blood beating underneath it, picture how it might bruise when he worries one spot with his teeth and lips.

History repeats. He's studied it, he knows. Things happen, and sometimes they happen again.

Merlin’s going for Arthur’s belt, Arthur sees the leather slipping through the buckle, pulled by invisible hands. Arthur would be happy enough to let him, but as he’s got something of a goal, he turns them both, pulling until Merlin’s back is against the wall.

Then he drops down, knees to the stone floor, hands running down Merlin’s body. Merlin’s cock is already hard, and it pulses when Arthur palms it. While his fingers circle the base, he rubs his cheek against Merlin’s tip, and yes. Yes, that was a sound like a head hitting the wall.

Arthur looks up. He can’t see Merlin’s eyes, but he loves that Merlin can see his. Deliberately, he licks out with his tongue, and he’s sure for a moment that the wall in front of him is a little blurry, a little hard to see clear.

He grips Merlin’s hips, and takes his cock all the way in.

In front of him on the wall, eye level, is a particular piece of writing, messily carved. Arthur can read it easily now; on a good night, it’ll be too clouded before they’re done, a vague shape obscuring it.

On a perfect night, the one he’s working towards, Arthur won’t be able to read a word of it; will recite it instead, from memory, into the curve of Merlin’s ear - rather large, he predicts, based on how it’s felt under his lips.

Hated by many kings, but loved by one, Arthur will say. Once, future, always.


 

22

‘Let me go!’ the nymph cried, trying his best to pull away from his captor. ‘Please let me go!’

Arthur, God of the Sun, gazed at the creature before him in wonder.

‘Don’t worry,’ he said gently. ‘I won’t hurt you.’

The nymph immediately stopped struggling.

‘Oh I wasn’t worried about that,’ he said, no longer sounding quite so panicked. ‘It’s just that I’m rather late, you know. My mother will be waiting for me.’

‘Oh,’ Arthur said, his grip slowly loosening. He looked down at the nymph, considering. ‘If you tell me your name and your mother’s and promise not to run off, I will let you go. Agreed?’

The nymph nodded quickly so Arthur released his wrists.

‘Thank you,’ the nymph said, wriggling his long coltish limbs out before grinning up at Arthur. ‘My name’s Merlin. My mother is Hunith of the Aurae. She serves Zephyrus.’

‘And who do you serve, little nymph?’ Arthur asked curiously.

Merlin shrugged and grinned.

‘Nobody,’ he said proudly. ‘My lord Zephyrus gives me free reign to do as I wish. He says that I ought to choose the one I wish to serve.’

Arthur gave the nymph a speculative look.

‘Well in that case,’ he said decisively. ‘Perhaps I should put my case forward.’

Merlin was immediately on his guard.

‘Oh?’ he said cautiously. ‘And who would you be?’ A sudden look of suspicion entered his eyes. ‘You’re not a satyr, are you? Because my mother warned me about them, she said that it’s not safe for innocent little nymphs to be running around while they’re about.’

Arthur, whose ears had pricked up at the word “innocent”, grinned roguishly down at the nymph.

‘I am no satyr, nymph,’ he said haughtily. ‘Believe me, you will know one when you see it. I, my little Merlin, am Arthur, God of the Sun.’

Merlin’s eyes immediately went wide.

‘Oh!’ he said reverently, his eyes round as coins. ‘I beg your pardon, your Lordship.’

‘For what exactly?’ Arthur asked, smiling in amusement.

‘For being so familiar, my lord,’ Merlin answered, his eyes cast low. ‘My mother says that Lord Zephyrus is far too patient with me and that not all gods would appreciate my tongue.’

‘Nonsense,’ Arthur purred, reaching out to run a hand through Merlin’s dark hair. ‘I’m quite sure that a number of us would appreciate having your tongue.’

Merlin glanced up at that, and while his eyes were still wide they held a spark that hadn’t been there before.

‘Oh?’ he said slowly, looking up at the Sun God from beneath his lashes.

‘Yes,’ Arthur’s fingers slipped down from Merlin’s hair to his cheek and finally came to rest on Merlin’s lush bottom lip. ‘Indeed, I’m sure that there would be a number quite desperate to sample that sweet nectar.’

Merlin blushed at that.

‘And would My Lord be one of them?’ he asked boldly, still not daring to look Arthur straight in the eye.

Arthur smiled.

‘I most certainly am, little nymph,’ he said, before bending down and pressing his mouth gently against Merlin’s. Merlin immediately responded to the kiss, wrapping his arms around the god’s neck and closing his eyes with a sigh. This sigh changed into a moan when Arthur’s hand slipped down his naked back and onto the gauzy loincloth that Merlin wore around his middle. At the slight pressure of Arthur’s hand, Merlin lifted his legs up and wrapped them tightly around the Sun God’s waist.

‘Are you willing?’ Arthur murmured against the nymph’s lips.

‘Yes!’ Merlin gasped out, slowly rocking his hips against Arthur’s. ‘Yes – oh please!’

Smiling, the god carried Merlin a little way away and placed him down on the grass so that he was lying in a patch of warm sunlight.

‘There,’ Arthur said, pleased. Then he bent down and kissed Merlin gently, removing his loincloth as he did so.

‘Will you be mine?’ he murmured, rubbing slowly against Merlin, who moaned.

‘Yes!’ Merlin breathed, writhing in ecstasy.

‘You agree to serve me, little nymph?’

‘Yes!’ Merlin gasped out, his pupils blown wide.

‘And you will give yourself to no other but your Lord?’ Arthur continued, his voice low and controlled even as he moved over Merlin.

‘Yes!’ Merlin cried out, his eyes rolling back in his head as he was overwhelmed by his climax.

‘Then you are now mine, my little nymph, my little Merlin,’ Arthur smiled.

Leaning down, he kissed Merlin once more before finally giving in completely to his pleasure.


 

23

Warnings: substance abuse, sort of dubcon

The reset button's at the nape of the neck. You hold it down until the eyes close. Press it again and they open.

( )

"My name is Lancelot. I am yours to command."

"I'm Morgana. Pour me some whiskey and clear the table. Meet me in the bedroom when you're done."

She used to think it would be fun, giving out orders like a queen, having them obeyed without question. But as she sits on the bed, sipping her drink and watching Lancelot's smooth movements, she can only feel curiously sad.

"Come here, Lancelot," she says, lifting her skirt and peeling her panties down to her ankles. "Start with your fingers."

Even with the basic factory settings, they don't need a lot of instructions. They're obedient, responsive; know what to do when an owner spreads her legs and crooks her finger.

They all have that same trusting look in their deep doe eyes. The same shoulders broad with simulated muscles, obviously. A cock that'll swell with two strokes and stay thick and hard as long as she needs, keeping up the stimulation until she tells it to "come".

Morgana wraps her arms around her toy and rocks up her hips as it fucks into her. She's never been interested in sex with a man, but this is what Lancelot was made for, and it works. It feels good, for a little while.

( )

"My name is Lancelot–"

"I'm Morgana, and I don't have anyone to talk to. Here, take this lotion. You can massage my back while you listen. If I hadn't left my father's house I could have as many of you as I wanted."

All she's got now is this hand-me-down.

( )

"There's a roach in the kitchen, Lancelot. Go and kill it, clean up, and then come and fuck me."

Gwen never used the reset button, except for the one time. Merlin said it was better that way, to let it (he, Merlin said, Gwen said) get to know her and anticipate her needs. Merlin had created Lancelot's old personality, both as a challenge for himself and as a present for his best friend. That's why it carried around all his stupid ideas about romantic love.

"He's so lovely!" Gwen would giggle and gush, and Morgana would smile and pretend she didn't want to be sick, because at least talking about "boys" was a chance to sit with Gwen and hold her hand, lean in close and share her warmth.

But it was beyond creepy, to treat a machine like a person just so you could break its heart, make it write memories of day after day striving to please you and never being good enough.

( )

"I'm Morgana, and you've never belonged to anyone else."

If Morgana could get rid of all her memories and mistakes, she'd do it. Sometimes she drinks until she forgets who she is. (It's not as effective as the drugs they used to give her at home and in the hospital, but she won't go back there.) Sometimes she fucks herself on Lancelot's robot cock until she can't feel anything else. But in the morning everything's still all wrong. Lancelot's lucky, he always gets to start over.

("Would you be awfully insulted if I asked you to take care of Lancelot for me? He's really no trouble. It's just, now that I'm moving in with Arthur I won't have as much space or as much… you know."

"Straight couples are allowed to keep sex toys, Gwen."

Gwen's pretty face creases with frustration. "Can't you be happy for us? Even a little?"

Morgana's smirk is frozen in place, already starting to ache.)

"I'm Gwen," says Morgana, her voice barely shaking. "I was yours before I was Arthur's."

A pause, then, "I do not understand."

"You don't have to understand!" she shouts, stamps her foot like a child, starts over. "I'm yours, Lancelot. Let me be yours."

That seems to be close enough to a script it recognizes. Lancelot kisses her deeply and Morgana thinks maybe Merlin wasn't such a programming genius after all, if this was already wired into the model. Then she gives herself over, forgets Merlin and Arthur and Uther, and lets herself be Gwen. Beautiful, sweet, cruel Gwen, swooning senseless in her lover's arms.

She hasn't felt this close to her in months, in years.

"I would die for you," he whispers.

"I know."

Her fingers find their way to the back of his neck. She strokes his hair. She lets go.