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Arthur knew the stories, so he didn't take any chances -- he burned the sealskin as soon as he found it. He heard footsteps only moments after the skin began to crack and peel in the flames. He knew without even looking, his servant's fey eyes burning into his shoulders, searing him with their gold light.

Two steps and he had Merlin pressed back against the stone wall, the fire behind him heating his back.

"Now, try and escape," he grinned into the curve of Merlin's neck. He felt like a hound scenting its prey, and the tang of Merlin's sweat opened up a gaping void in his stomach, and stiffened his cock, a need he'd only been half-aware of before now. "You can't, can you?"

"No, sir." Merlin's head bowed forward like a molten branch curling in on itself.

It took him aback. He had expected resistance, a fight he could win with subtle or not-so-subtle application of force, not this bending to his will. But even so, it made him hard, so hard, and he pushed Merlin down, opening his own trousers, and drawing the dark head to him.

Merlin's mouth was strangely cool, which made him jerk and then push up harder into it, watching Merlin's jaw work to accommodate him. Merlin moved back until just the head was in his mouth, licking delicately, his lashes dark on his cheeks, so pretty -- and then Arthur pulled him back down, the shudder and soft choke making him groan and want to push farther, deeper. Merlin was working hard -- unprecedented, that was -- and it was like a whirlpool around his dick, swirling and sucking.

He was getting too close though, so he pulled out and then tipped Merlin back with a foot on his chest. Merlin fell on his back and the look on his face almost made Arthur shiver: like he was falling down some long, dark crevasse. Arthur knelt hurriedly, smoothing back Merlin's hair and couldn't help himself -- he had to kiss him, opening Merlin's lips with tongue and breath, pressing as close as he dared. Merlin didn't respond and a seed of doubt uncurled in Arthur's chest -- he couldn't force him, he wasn't a monster -- but then Merlin moaned and kissed back, like he was waking up or he wasn't quite sure if he knew what to do. Was he so unused to this body still? He'd have to ask him later. I'm going to know everything about you there is to know, he thought, his hands tightening on Merlin's shoulders.

When he pulled back to look, Merlin had gone dazed and blank with desire. His hand came up to touch at his mouth, and then moved as if to wipe away the wetness from it and Arthur seized his wrist without a moment's thought, pinned it above his head as he leaned in to bite at Merlin's lips. If there was something missing in Merlin's eyes, some spark that had always been there before, he didn't see it.

Merlin kissed him back eagerly this time, until he started tugging at his trousers. A hand on the boy's cock calmed him though, or rather made him clench up like a clam and then spilled his legs open, breath rushing out of him in a gasp. Arthur's fist worked him firm but slow, thumbing the head now and again to test for pre-cum. He didn't have to wait long.

"You want this, don't you?" Arthur breathed hotly, "you've wanted it since you first became my servant, I bet."

Merlin whimpered but his hips tried to take on a faster pace. Arthur pressed him back down.

He wasn't angry as he'd first been, when he'd found the skin, but there was something pressing him on -- some need to tie Merlin to him with anything he could use. He wouldn't lose him -- not to death, not to someone else, not to the sea. Even if Merlin hated him for it.

But he didn't rush it, knowing that way was folly and Merlin running, probably through the castle half-dressed. He convinced with his mouth and then his fingers, growing slowly more daring and Merlin didn't object, didn't say anything -- just moaned louder and bashed him once in the face with a sharp hip until Arthur had to put his hand over his mouth and hold him down.

"Tell me you want me," he said. He'd discovered that mouthing Merlin's ear made him shudder and keen, while teeth made him buck.

"I want you," Merlin said, and he maybe sounded like he was just repeating the words Arthur had given him but his breath was coming in huffs and he couldn't stop squirming so Arthur thought that was good enough.

After his salve-coated fingers, it wasn't terribly difficult to get the first inch of his cock in, but then it was a struggle, and Merlin fought him, teeth and fingernails and flying elbows -- though he was still hard as rock against Arthur's belly -- and finally Arthur just gave an almighty shove and it was over, Merlin was pierced to the root. He went deathly quiet and still.

Arthur soothed with kisses and murmured nonsense in his ears, "so good, you're so good, oh yes," until Merlin's brow smoothed and he started, experimentally, to move. Arthur held himself very still, taking most of his weight on his knees and arms, until Merlin started wordlessly asking for more, with his hips and eyes and his hands clenched in Arthur's hair.

Then Arthur must have hit exactly the right spot because Merlin went wild, his legs heedlessly climbing up, pulling Arthur down until he lost traction and fell, huffing out a laugh, on top of him. Merlin's face went red with effort and perhaps embarrassment, and he was grabbing handfuls of Arthur ass, pushing and pulling him until Arthur cooperated and started fucking him faster, harder, deeper.

Despite himself, Arthur came first, and it was short and merciless, leaving him stunned and lethargic. When he could think again, he realized Merlin was struggling under him, trying to get a hand down to his dick and that was enough to make him move. He pinned Merlin's hands and then took care of it himself, thrusting gently until even that was too much.

When it was all over, he raised himself enough to roll to the side and looked down at Merlin.

Merlin's face was wet and Arthur felt a sick jolt in his stomach. Merlin wasn't sobbing but his eyes were just watering, tears running down his cheeks and into his ears and Arthur could suddenly taste the salt that he must have licked from them. He hadn't-- he hadn't noticed. He looked over at the fire -- it had burned out. Nothing was left but a few blackened scraps.

When he kissed Merlin again -- tentatively, with his eyes open -- all he could see was the ocean.