“I never left.”
“You mean to say...”
“...you’ve been under there, this whole time?”
“No. Of course not—no!”
“Cos if you were...”
“I wasn’t, I swear!”
“Good, you shouldn’t be there, because—”
Arthur cut himself off, coughing. He returned his sword to its scabbard, eyes darting around the floor. Merlin watched him curiously, unsure what this was about.
“No, nothing,” Arthur replied dismissively. “It would just be odd for you to be under my bed.”
Merlin was silent for a moment, raising an eyebrow, a perplexed smile curling at his lips.
“And what would you be doing alone in here that you wouldn’t want me to be present for?”
Merlin was surprised when Arthur’s cheeks coloured. The Prince was actually blushing. He didn’t think he’d ever seen that before.
“Nothing, nothing. Well, of course, there’s the sleeping, washing down and changing, which would be strange for you to want to hide under my bed to watch.”
Merlin rolled his eyes.
“I’ve been present during your sleep in the mornings on a number of occasions, while I prepared your room. And I’ve seen you bathe and undress hundreds of times. I’m your servant; that is part of my job, after all.”
Arthur folded his arms across his chest, unwilling to meet Merlin’s eyes.
“Well, yes. But I knew you were there at those times,” he replied. “If you were under my bed, not alerting me to your presence, then you’d clearly be doing it for some other perverse reason of your own.”
Merlin grinned wolfishly at this, tilting his head and taking a step closer to Arthur.
“And what perverse reason would that be?”
Flustered, Arthur turned away from him slightly.
“I don’t know, Merlin,” he said gruffly. “I’m not you; I have no idea what goes on in that disturbed brain of yours.”
Merlin noticed the way Arthur seemed incredibly uncomfortable with this topic. The warlock was intrigued.
“Well, you must have some idea, otherwise you wouldn’t be so bothered about it,” he pointed out. “Tell me, Arthur, what exactly would I be thinking about while hiding by myself under your bed, watching you undress?”
Arthur really did blush at this.
Merlin knew he’d gone too far, speaking so candidly to his master; but he’d been unable to resist. He wanted to know why Arthur was being so secretive.
Arthur’s embarrassment manifested as indignation, and he stepped threateningly toward Merlin, giving him a stern look.
“Merlin, sometimes I think you’ve gone soft in the head, the way you speak to me,” he said abruptly. “Alluding to such filth might be acceptable among commoners, but it is certainly not looked kindly upon in the royal house.”
Merlin looked down, feeling his place all of a sudden, but still couldn’t stifle his smile. He may have been the one speaking inappropriate thoughts out loud, but it was obvious the same things were on Arthur’s mind too. If they weren’t, the Prince would have been completely oblivious to the allusions, and would not be getting so riled up.
“My lord, I apologise if I’m too candid, but I’m curious as to what I was being accused of if I was actually hiding under your bed,” he explained.
Arthur sighed, backing off a little in response to Merlin’s attempt at being respectful.
“I wasn’t accusing you,” he said. “I was simply pointing out that it would be an odd thing to do, even for you.”
Merlin bit his lip, his eyes tracking over Arthur’s face and his open-necked nightshirt. He knew he should hold his tongue – pushing Arthur further could be dangerous – but his head felt strange seeing the Prince like this. He found he suddenly had very little impulse control.
“If I was afraid for my life – which, in fact, I have been – then I don’t think it’s so strange that I would remain in the one place I felt safe. Even if I were to be discovered by you.”
Arthur fell silent at this, an unreadable expression on his face. Merlin continued.
“But I don’t think this is just about me, is it? Like I said before, it seems as though there was something happening in your room that you don’t want me to know about.”
Arthur frowned again, tipping his head in warning.
Merlin held his hands up defensively, not wanting to aggravate his master too much.
“Well, what I mean is, you could be having, erm, late night visits from ladies, that you don’t want me around for,” he said quickly. “And don’t want anyone to find out about.”
Arthur’s demeanour softened at this and he smiled slightly, shaking his head and looking down a little.
“No, Merlin. There’s been no late night visits from any ladies.”
He paused, turning to sit on the side of his bed with a sigh.
“There’s been no visits from ladies at all, in fact.”
Merlin cocked his head curiously, eying the empty space next to Arthur. Slowly, he lowered himself beside the Prince, watching cautiously. Arthur flicked a glance over and nodded almost imperceptibly in consent.
“I remember you saying before; too much pressure and expectation?” Merlin queried.
Arthur let his hands rest on his knees and looked up at the moonlit window for a moment.
Merlin licked his lips, a smile beginning to play on them.
“Well... I suppose that would explain why you’d want privacy in your bedroom at night then. Left to your own devices.”
Arthur’s head flicked back to stare incredulously at the warlock.
Merlin stifled a laugh, looking down at his hands. When he glanced back up, Arthur wasn’t angry, as he’d expected, but actually chuckling.
“You really don’t think sometimes before you open your mouth, do you?”
Merlin shrugged, still smiling.
“Well, sire, I do. But a lot of the time I speak anyway, even when I shouldn’t.”
The Prince grinned, and then spoke again.
“Though that takes a lot of courage,” he said. “Especially to suggest the Crown Prince of Camelot partakes in such... self-indulgence.”
“You’re probably going to put me in the stocks for speaking so plainly but...”
Arthur raised an eyebrow.
“...I don’t think any prince of your age and health could deny himself such acts, at least once in a while.”
Merlin was surprised when Arthur actually laughed again, shaking his head.
“Good heavens, Merlin, there really isn’t anything you won’t say, is there?” he asked.
“No, I suppose not,” he admitted, with a sheepish smile.
Arthur leant back on one hand, raking the fingers of his other hand through his sleep-ruffled hair.
“And... I suppose you’re right though,” he said, looking back at the window again. “I don’t deny myself.”
Merlin swallowed, his heart thudding in his ears. He couldn’t believe Arthur had actually admitted to that. To him.
“Me either,” he found himself replying.
When he looked up, Arthur was giving him a strangely intense stare, a smile playing on his lips.
“Well, I’m not surprised by that. It’s not as though commoners are often taught about social propriety in those matters,” Arthur said. “I assumed you were perverse like that.”
Merlin laughed, shaking his head.
“I don’t think my place has anything to do with it. I think it’s just that we’re young men. Young men who aren’t courting women at the moment.”
“I suppose you’re right about that too,” he agreed. “And it’s a rare day I find you’re right about anything. There really must be disturbing magic going on in Camelot.”
Merlin grinned, and they fell into a companionable silence.
The warlock found his eyes tracking up the Prince’s pyjama bottoms, then over his crumpled nightshirt, to where it opened and small tufts of Arthur’s chest hair poked out.
Merlin’s mouth went dry.
He couldn’t tear his eyes away, and he found himself speaking without thinking again.
“Do you indulge yourself a lot?”
Arthur’s posture stiffened, and he was no doubt giving Merlin a murderous look.
“Merlin! You cannot ask me that!”
Merlin’s eyes tracked higher on Arthur’s chest and up to the golden skin of his throat. The warlock’s fingers suddenly itched to touch the smooth expanse, and know what the Adam’s apple felt like under his fingertips.
“I know. I know I can’t. But I want to. Because I do it a lot. A whole lot,” he blurted out. “So much sometimes, in fact, that I worry I will go blind, like they say. And I need to know if it’s just me.”
He dared to bring his eyes further up to look Arthur in the face. The Prince looked gobsmacked to say the least.
“I-I’m sorry,” Merlin stammered. “I don’t really have anyone else to talk to about this.”
Arthur was still giving him an astonished stare.
“You’re my servant – I’m your lord,” Arthur said firmly. “It’s not appropriate for us to talk about these topics together.”
He paused for a moment, sighing again.
“But I suppose, I’m here to give you advice, otherwise you might never learn,” he conceded. “In which case... I don’t think you need to worry that you indulge yourself too much. From what I can gather, there are a lot of men in Camelot who do, though they would never admit it. And I’ve never known any of them to go blind. So I think you’re safe.”
Relief washed over Merlin’s features and then he bit his lip, looking up at Arthur though his long lashes.
“So... are you one of those that do?”
Arthur’s hand came up to slap Merlin in the side of the head.
“I’ll give you advice, but you need to stop speaking so wickedly, Merlin. Honestly, where did you learn to talk of such things?”
Rubbing at the side of his head with one hand, the warlock shrugged.
“I didn’t learn anywhere in particular. I’m simply saying out loud what people would be thinking anyway.”
Arthur arched his eyebrows, shaking his head.
“Well I don’t know the types of people you surround yourself with, but myself and those of the royal court certainly don’t have our heads filled with that filth all the time.”
“Oh, horse-twot,” Merlin muttered, stretching his arm up to scratch the back of his neck.
“I beg your pardon?” Arthur said sharply.
Merlin allowed his eyes to meet the Prince’s, flashing slightly with fear.
“I-I said I think it’s horse-twot,” he repeated. “I believe everyone thinks of such things all the time, they just don’t admit to it.”
“But for some reason, you do?”
“Because it doesn’t scare me.”
“And you think it does me?”
Merlin shrugged, nodding weakly.
“Merlin,” Arthur shot back. “You do realise you just called the Crown Prince of Camelot a coward, don’t you?”
Wincing, Merlin’s hands fumbled at his neckerchief.
“No. I mean, yes. I mean... I didn’t mean it like that, necessarily. It’s just that people of higher social positions seem to be more reluctant to speak so plainly, in my experience.”
Arthur gave him a hard look.
“I am not afraid of it.”
“Merlin, I am not.”
“I believe you.”
“No, you don’t—I can see it in your face.”
Merlin shrugged again, his eyes tracking down to Arthur’s throat once more.
Arthur narrowed his eyes.
“Fine. I’ll prove it. You want me to prove it to you?”
Merlin smiled slightly.
“Arthur, I really don’t care.”
“Well, I do. I won’t have my manservant thinking I’m a coward.”
Merlin fought the urge to roll his eyes. Sometimes it was almost too easy to make Arthur’s pride get the better of him.
“So—what? What would you like me to say that would show you I am unafraid? Anything, come on; I’m ready.”
Merlin quirked an eyebrow.
“Well... you could answer the questions I ask you,” he said slowly.
“Fine. I will then.”
“No matter what they are,” Merlin stipulated. “You have to answer honestly.”
Arthur shifted, and Merlin could tell he was a little nervous about being so upfront.
“Fine, fine. I said I would. So would you please get on with it?”
“Alright. Well, I suppose we can pick up where we left off just before.” He paused, and Arthur waited. “With indulging yourself.”
“What about it?”
“Do you do it a lot?”
Arthur was quiet for a moment.
“I have no idea what you classify as ‘a lot’. Your terms of reference may be very different to mine.”
“Well... let’s say, more than once a week.”
Merlin thought he could see Arthur blushing again, though it was hard to tell in the dim light. The Prince was quiet again, then clenched his jaw and brought his gaze back to Merlin.
“Yes. More than once a week.”
“How about every day then?”
“No, not every day—I do need time to do other things, Merlin.” He paused. “Perhaps when I was younger, it was that frequent. But not anymore.”
Merlin nodded, a smile creeping onto his lips.
“I’m the same.”
“So you said,” Arthur replied distastefully.
Merlin’s smile grew into a grin. He then let his eyes wander to the Prince’s hands, which were fidgeting slightly on the pyjama bottoms.
“What do you think about when you’re doing it?”
The Prince was affronted.
“I am not sharing that with you!”
“Coward...” Merlin coughed.
Arthur grabbed the warlock by his neckerchief, eyes flashing.
“How dare you!”
Feeling bold, Merlin just continued to grin. Arthur released him, grunting in defeat.
“Well, what most men think of, I suppose,” he admitted. “Women. Women’s bodies.”
Merlin grinned wickedly, his eyes glittering with mischief.
“Well, clearly,” he said. “It’s not like you would be thinking about men, and men’s bodies. Although...”
The next thing he knew, Arthur had him by the neckerchief again, only this time much more roughly, and yanked Merlin’s face close to his own, a furious look in his eyes.
“You do not suggest I ever have such unnatural thoughts as those if you want to keep your life, Merlin,” he growled.
Merlin put his hands up, his heart racing.
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry,” he apologised. “I didn’t mean it like that. I wasn’t necessarily suggesting it was you that would have those deviant thoughts...”
He snagged his bottom lip between his teeth, and slowly tracked his eyes up to Arthur’s, gazing at him from under low lashes.
Shocked, Arthur released him and made a horrified face.
“You mean to imply that you do...?”
Merlin shrugged, blinking slowly, his lips curling into a smile.
“I think about a lot of things when I’m doing that,” he replied. “Some thoughts are just more immoral than others.”
Arthur swallowed thickly.
“Yes, but men, Merlin...? That’s just wrong. It’s against the natural order of things.”
“I can’t help what my body likes,” the warlock said. “When I have those thoughts, it just responds.”
Merlin gave him a coy smile, his eyes darkening.
“Oh, come on, you know what I mean by that,” he murmured. “My skin grows hot. Heart rate goes up. Breathing gets heavy. Fingers itch for touch. And that aching pull starts deep down in my belly.”
He licked his lips as Arthur watched him in stunned silence.
“A desire. Yearning. Awakening my body, so parts of it heat up and grow—” He paused as Arthur’s eyes widened. “—firm.”
“And men make you feel like that...?”
Merlin tipped his head and leant back on one hand.
Arthur shook his head, rubbing at his face with one hand.
“I don’t understand how thinking about men’s bodies could do all that to you.”
“Well, it’s not only thinking about their bodies. It’s also—” He stopped, grinning. “Wait, I thought this was meant to be a talk about you, not me.”
“Clearly you have more dark secrets and desires than I do.”
Merlin scratched idly at his neck with his long fingers.
“Yeah, probably,” he agreed. “Are you sure you want to know them?”
Arthur squared his shoulders and swallowed hard.
“Well, if it will prove I’m honest and unafraid, then yes, I’d better.”
Merlin shrugged and gave him another cheeky smile.
“Well, then I don’t simply think about their bodies,” he explained. “I also sometimes think about what I want with their bodies. To do to them.”
Arthur’s hand came up to his temple and he grimaced.
Merlin chuckled and let his head tip back a little, back arching.
“I think about running my hands over them; seeing what they feel like. All that firm muscle and hard bone; narrow hips and broad shoulders.”
He allowed his free hand to start rubbing up and down one thigh, his eyes closing for a few moments.
“I think about what their skin would smell like—and taste like.”
He opened his eyes to see Arthur’s eyebrows arched, eyes wide.
“I’d press my face into their belly and up their ribcage—run my fingers through chest hair and over bones.” The warlock let his eyes track in synchronicity as he spoke again. “And then let my tongue find a path from the bottom of their throat, all the way up to their jaw.”
Merlin watched as Arthur’s Adam’s apple bobbed thickly in his throat, a flush now certainly visible in the Prince’s cheeks.
“God have mercy...” Arthur whispered.
Merlin chuckled and leaned closer.
“Of course, I’d take my time as well; just work my tongue slowly over all the bumps and dips in their neck to taste them properly,” he purred. “And then let my lips suck on their Adam’s apple for a while—maybe even sink my teeth in a little, if they’d let me.”
Arthur’s eyes had become heavy-lidded by this time, his posture tensed.
“Oh, I’m sure they’d let you,” he said, before he had time to stop himself.
Clearing his throat, he composed himself.
“I mean, if they were as deviant as you, they’d probably let you do whatever you wanted.”
Merlin’s eyes focused on Arthur’s mouth for a few moments before he lifted his gaze again.
“Well, I’d do more than just lick their neck and touch their chest, if that were the case...”
Arthur’s eyes went down to Merlin’s mouth this time, the warlock’s lip caught between his teeth once more.
“Oh...?” the Prince said thickly.
“Should I tell you what I’d really love to do...?”
Arthur’s lips were parted a little, and Merlin could feel his warm, rapid breaths against his face.
“I’d love to run my hands down, down, down their body to their thighs; feel how strong and thick the muscles are from all that riding, hunting, training,” Merlin breathed.
His fingers on his thigh tightened as he spoke, and he leaned back off his other arm to rest his hand in the small space between his and Arthur’s legs. Arthur didn’t seem to notice, his eyes fixed on Merlin’s face and throat.
“But then I’d let my hand slip inwards – between those thighs – and grab hold. Start pulling.”
A small noise emerged from Arthur’s throat at this, but he caught himself, swallowing hard. Merlin licked his lips and allowed his mouth to fall open as the Prince stared at him.
“My grip would be like his own, only different, and not at all like that of a woman,” Merlin continued. “It would be firm—”
Arthur took in a sharp breath.
The Prince exhaled shakily.
“I wouldn’t be gentle because he wouldn’t want me to be. I’d just pull and pull and pull, until he...”
Arthur swallowed, waiting.
The Prince found his voice again.
Merlin chuckled, letting his fingers start to play along the seam of Arthur’s pyjama bottoms.
“You know what that is, sire,” he purred. “When all those feelings, sensations, build up inside you so high that they suddenly explode in a moment of intensity and heat—and you make a mess of yourself.”
Merlin grinned wickedly and drew his lips near Arthur’s ear.
“It’s the thought of doing that to him – a man – that causes those yearnings, and makes me indulge myself. Those are the thoughts that make me peak.”
Merlin’s fingers slid warmly along the side of Arthur’s thigh, stroking slowly.
“You shouldn’t like such wickedness,” the Prince muttered.
Merlin’s eyes drew down to the obvious tenting in Arthur’s trousers, and he chuckled again.
“Well, it looks like I’m not the only one that does.”
Arthur closed his eyes and exhaled through his nose, frowning a little.
“That’s not what that’s from,” he insisted. “It’s just all the talk about women, indulgence and responses of the body. I’m just reacting to that.”
Merlin smiled, drawing his eyes back up to Arthur’s face.
“I wouldn’t care either way, my lord. I would never tell anyone if you did like that wickedness. And no-one would believe me anyway.”
Merlin’s fingers crept onto Arthur’s wrist, grasping it and moving the Prince’s hand inwards onto the obvious arousal in his pyjama bottoms.
“So you don’t need to pretend, or deny yourself.”
As he let Arthur’s hand rest over the warm lump, the Prince let out a soft groan, his brow furrowing. Merlin pressed down on Arthur’s hand in encouragement.
“Do whatever you want to do, and think about whatever you want to think about,” Merlin said softly. “There’s no-one to stop you, and no-one here who’ll judge you. Believe me, it feels good to let yourself go.”
Arthur’s eyes opened again and he looked at Merlin from under heavy lids.
“Only if you tell me of all your thoughts when you indulge,” he replied quietly.
Merlin felt Arthur’s hand rub idly at his arousal with the heel of his hand, and smothered a triumphant smile.
“Like I said, I think about men sometimes—making a man firm under my hands, and pulling him to give him pleasure.”
Arthur leaned back a little on his free hand, and moved the other in a slow motion up and back. Merlin moved his face close again, breathing into Arthur’s ear. He closed his own eyes.
“I want to know what it feels like when he peaks because of me—what sounds he makes, and whether he calls my name. I want to see the look on his face.”
Arthur groaned at this, rubbing himself harder through the fabric of his pyjamas. Merlin drew his hand away to allow Arthur to continue on his own.
“And when I’m feeling particularly wicked, I like to think about not just using my hands on him, but my mouth as well,” Merlin said, his tone laced with desire. “I imagine dropping my head between his legs to see what he tastes like.”
Arthur bit his lip to stifle a louder moan, the motion of his hand speeding up in response.
“Deviant,” he breathed.
Merlin grinned, his nose grazing Arthur’s cheekbone.
“I know,” he agreed. “That’s what makes it feel so good—because it is so wrong. I don’t know how many times I’ve peaked thinking of that.”
Arthur grunted and began to rub more in earnest.
“I think about what his firmness would taste like in my mouth; how warm he’d be, and how much I’d enjoy simply sucking on him.”
Merlin’s eyes tracked down to where Arthur’s hand squeezed and massaged, the shape of his erection now clearly visible through the thin material of his trousers. There was another soft grunt from the Prince.
“I’d do that slowly too; just suck and suck for the longest time to hear him moan, while he pulled on my hair.”
“But then I’d want to use my tongue as well; run it all over those ridges and dips, all those familiar but different features of a man.”
Arthur gasped for air.
“And I’d lick—keep on licking, over and over, until he couldn’t take anymore,” Merlin murmured, his voice warm with arousal. “Then I’d suck again – hard – until he peaked in my mouth; taste all that he’d spill in there and swallow every last bit of it.”
Merlin watched as Arthur rubbed the head of his erection through the fabric with firm strokes of his thumb, a groan coming from the back of the Prince’s throat.
“That’s filthy,” Arthur breathed, his voice shaking.
Merlin looked back up at his face, a smile stretching across the warlock’s features.
“I know,” he murmured, allowing his lips to brush Arthur’s ear this time.
Arthur didn’t protest at the contact, but his eyes went down to his hand that worked between his legs.
“I need to...”
The Prince’s hand slipped from the top of the cloth to inside the pyjama bottoms, taking hold of himself with a loud exhalation.
“It’s okay,” Merlin said softly. “It does feel good— the skin on skin contact. Only, sometimes I imagine...”
He trailed off, and Arthur’s eyes closed, his head tipping back as he began to pull on himself.
“What...? What do you imagine, Merlin?”
“I imagine it’s another man’s hands on me, pulling me while he does something even more wicked. The most deviant thing I know of...”
Arthur sucked in a breath, his hand working in earnest under the cover of his pyjama fabric.
“W-What...” Arthur breathed. “What’s he doing to you?”
Merlin’s eyes drank in the taut, flushed figure of the Prince pleasuring himself; a hand bobbing in his trousers, the other taking his weight behind him, and a tortured look of enjoyment on his features. His blonde locks stuck to his forehead in places where he was damp with sweat, and his lips hung open to draw in sharp, heavy breaths.
Merlin leaned in to let his lips brush Arthur’s ear again, speaking in low, growling tones to the Prince now.
“He’s got me on my back, laid out on the linen of his bed, and he’s over me, one hand wrapped around that firm part of my body. One of my legs is up, bent at the knee, so I’m laid open; vulnerable.”
Arthur groaned, clearly aware of where this was going.
Merlin snaked his tongue out to lick slowly along the bottom of the Prince’s earlobe, breathing warmly in his ear.
“Because he’s doing something so unnatural; being physically intimate with me as he would a woman. Only I’m not, but that firm part of him is still inside my body. In a place it should never be—between my legs, he fills me, violates me.”
Arthur moaned, his back arching, hips bucking into the motions of his hand.
“S-So wrong,” the Prince managed to gasp.
Merlin smiled and let his lips enclose Arthur’s earlobe, sucking on it gently, slowly. Arthur shivered.
“But it feels so good,” the warlock murmured, releasing the Prince’s lobe. “He pushes inside me, over and over, in that tight space, holding me down while he does. He takes me; takes away my innocence, like I want him to.”
Merlin drew his face away a little.
“Like I’ve always wanted him to.”
His eyes met Arthur’s heavy-lidded ones for a moment before the Prince closed them again. Merlin came back to lick the shell of Arthur’s ear, winding his tongue in and then sucking again. Arthur squirmed, tilting his head slightly.
“He drives me mad with how deep he fills me; I feel like I’m splitting apart inside but I don’t want him to stop,” Merlin breathed.
Arthur let out a low moan, his strokes rapid.
“And before I know it, everything comes rushing together and I hit my peak, spilling all over myself.”
Arthur’s breath hitched, and Merlin could tell he was teetering on the brink.
“And he can feel it. Because he’s so deep inside me, and it pushes him to his peak too, the way I shake and squeeze around him.”
Merlin allowed his lips to suck again, and then slid his teeth forward to bite down.
“Squeeze so much – so warm and tight – that he peaks so hard.”
Arthur never saw the way Merlin’s eyes glowed gold as he spoke the last words. But the next thing he knew he could feel a hard, jarring squeeze around his erection and a sharp, overwhelming tightening deep inside his pelvis.
He’d never felt anything like it before in his entire life, and he was shoved over that knife-edge.
Arthur let out a short cry as orgasm took him, his eyes rolling back in his head and his mouth falling open as pleasure flooded his body. He felt teeth sink into the side of his neck, and in the midst of the overpowering intensity, a name fell unbidden from his lips.
Merlin sucked at Arthur’s throat just below his ear as the Prince rode out the shocks of climax, his own heart pounding in his ears. He breathed in the smell of Arthur’s skin, hot and damp with sweat, and committed to memory the taste of it under his tongue. It wasn’t something he wanted to forget anytime soon.
When he pulled away his eyes tracked down to where Arthur’s hand held his softening erection, the white evidence of his release smeared up his belly. The warlock fought the urge to lick it off. He knew he couldn’t do anything to startle the Prince, or their relationship would never recover. Nor could he even acknowledge what had just happened; it would be far too much for Arthur to bear.
Merlin knew he had to tread carefully, and act like nothing had changed at all.
He slipped slowly away from the dazed Prince, standing up from the bed to collect a piece of linen from a nearby drawer. He stepped back over to Arthur, handing him the cloth and shifting his demeanour into one of servitude.
“He’s fresh linens for you to clean up with, sire,” he said quietly, dipping his head a little. “I believe there’s still some water in the wash-bowl from this morning too; I’ll fetch it for you.”
Arthur seemed to gather his wits, taking the cloth from Merlin and beginning to wipe himself down. He cleared his throat.
“Thank you, Merlin,” he replied formally. “That would be helpful.”
Merlin slunk off to the other side of the room to retrieve the wash-bowl. Arthur removed his hand from his trousers, wiping it down on the linen, and did his best to clean the rest of his body before Merlin returned.
The warlock set the bowl on the bedside drawer and Arthur handed him the soiled cloth.
“This needs cleaning,” he informed him, his tone short.
Merlin nodded, taking it from him.
“I’ll go down and wash it myself right now.”
He turned his head away a little as Arthur unlaced his pyjama bottoms and began to remove them.
“Take these too.”
Merlin nodded again, taking the trousers, and he turned his back as Arthur stood to retrieve fresh clothes from the drawer. He was heading toward the door when Arthur spoke again.
“When you return, we’ll discuss Lady Catrina and my father,” he said. “Just make sure you don’t get caught on the way back. I know what you’re like.”
Merlin grinned to himself before exiting the Prince’s chambers, checking it was safe and then slinking off down the hall.