"So how about Anna from the kitchens?" Arthur spoke casually, but the stare he was giving Merlin seemed to drill down to the bone. He sat in his fur-draped chair with such negligent grace and casual relaxation that one could almost forget he was a prince and see him as simply a man. A man with an infuriatingly one-track mind.
Merlin sighed, hardly believing they were having this conversation again for what had to be the dozenth time. The last girl Arthur had tried to set Merlin up with had cried on his shoulder about the knight who'd recently broken her heart, and Merlin thought he'd convinced Arthur to drop it once Arthur had stopped laughing. Obviously, he'd been wrong, and Arthur was not ready to let it go just yet. "She's betrothed to the baker's apprentice."
"Well, there's the blonde who cleans my father's chambers. She might be able to--"
"Stop!" Merlin covered his face with one hand and sighed again. "Please, Arthur. Just, stop. These attempts at matchmaking are beneath you."
"But you need a girl beneath you." Merlin didn't have to look up to know Arthur was smirking. He could hear it in Arthur's voice, that very definite audible smirk that he'd been hearing for the last couple of weeks since Arthur finally remembered--or was told (probably by Morgana)--about the calm-in-the-presence-of-virgins part of unicorn lore.
"Maybe I don't want one," Merlin retorted, before he could stop himself. He could only pray that Arthur hadn't heard him.
"What was that?" Arthur's voice was suddenly closer and Merlin finally looked up to see that he'd left his chair to come and stand over Merlin's, looming-- with princely intensity, Merlin couldn't help but notice, a little shiver running down his spine.
"Nothing," Merlin said, hopefully, sliding out of his seat and standing to put some distance between them. "I'm finished with your armour. The repairs needed were minimal so I just took care of them myself. I'll take this on down to the armoury now--"
Merlin's voice died in his throat when Arthur pressed up against him, Arthur's torso warm and firm against the length of Merlin's arm. He spoke Merlin's name, not as a question or a command but something softer, not hesitant but not completely sure either.
Merlin licked his lips and turned his head slowly, meeting Arthur's intense gaze with wide eyes and held breath. "Merlin," Arthur said again, barely above a whisper. "If you don't want a girl, then what do you want?"
Merlin swallowed hard and tried to guess what the right answer was. He knew what he wanted, of course, and he almost thought he knew what Arthur wanted him to say, but expectations and destiny, his servitude and Arthur's position as crown prince of Camelot, the sheer unlikelihood of this particular dream coming true, all weighed down on Merlin until he could barely breathe.
"I..." Merlin swallowed again and tried to look away, but he seemed trapped in Arthur's gaze and suddenly intensely aware of how close his hand was to Arthur's groin. "You..."
"Yes," Arthur said, somewhat nonsensically in Merlin's opinion, then raised one hand to the shoulder he wasn't already touching and turned Merlin to face him. Merlin's hands flew up and settled on Arthur's biceps, clutching tight and pulling him closer before he'd even made a conscious decision to do so. He experienced a split-second of sheer terror and then Arthur's mouth was on his. All the fear and worry fell away as he fell into Arthur's kiss.
Arthur's hands had settled at Merlin's waist, but as his tongue slid between Merlin's lips, his hands moved a bit lower, cupping Merlin's hips and pulling him in tight so that Merlin could feel Arthur's cock stiffening against his own. When Merlin shuddered hard and gasped, Arthur pulled away with concern in his eyes and a question on his face, but Merlin just shook his head and pulled Arthur back to him, licking at his lips until Arthur opened his mouth and let Merlin in to taste more than just the wine he'd been drinking--warmth and strength and promise. In Arthur's kiss was everything Merlin had ever wanted but never really hoped to get, a thread of acceptance that wound around him, pulling tight in his chest even as a certain tension loosened in his belly.
Moments or eons passed before they broke apart again and just stared at each other. Merlin lifted one hand and brushed his fingers gently across Arthur's kiss-reddened lips. "I guess that answered my question," Arthur murmured before catching one of Merlin's fingers between his teeth. "No mistaking what you want now."
"I'm not completely...you know."
"Virginal?" Arthur grinned wolfishly, making Merlin almost desperate to strip off Arthur's clothes and erase all that amusement from his eyes.
"Unicorns must have a very narrow definition of virginity," Merlin said, with a shrug and a not-quite-as-wolfish grin of his own.
"Why didn't you just say so, instead of letting me whore you out to every available woman in the castle?"
"Well, for one, it's extremely personal and two, I didn't think you were serious at first and then you weren't listening to me anyway. So really, nothing new there."
Arthur licked his lips and pushed his hips against Merlin's. "I'm listening now. Is there anything else important you want to share?"
That brought Merlin up short. Was Arthur ready to hear the biggest secret of all? The way he reacted to Will's confession of sorcery and the comments he made about Anhora's lack of trustworthiness, Merlin didn't think so. The time was coming when Arthur would find out all about Merlin. Merlin could feel it looming on the horizon like a slowly approaching thunderstorm, but it wasn't here yet.
"No," Merlin said. "Well, there is one thing..."
Before Arthur could ask what the one thing was, Merlin pushed his hand under Arthur's shirt and hooked his fingers in the waistband of Arthur's trousers. He pressed his mouth to Arthur's ear and whispered exactly what he wanted to do next.
As Merlin sank to his knees, it was Arthur's turn to shudder and gasp just a little before breathlessly saying, "Why Merlin, that's surprisingly filthy. And an excellent idea."
Merlin was too busy to answer, but he showed his enthusiasm in other ways.