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If Greater Want of Skill

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Merlin hates his life. No seriously. He hates it. Not only did he sleep through his alarm this morning and missed an important meeting with the financial advisor in charge of his scholarship, but he had to spend his Friday evening trying to tutor a little shithead of a high school student that showed up high to their study session. And then he was suppose to have a good beer and rant about it to his heart’s content with Gwen at their favorite bar—they might even have gone clubbing. Merlin could be receiving a random blowjob from a stranger in a dirty bathroom stall right now—just to end up on the wrong fucking bus. Which led him here. Here being the worst place in the whole universe: freezing his ass off on Frat Row at one in the morning, waiting at the bus stop right in front of some douchy fraternity having some kind of orgy if the sounds coming from over the music are anything to go by.

God. Merlin doesn’t even want to know.

"Dude, what are you doing?" a voice says behind him.

Merlin turns around to see Arthur Pendragon, the overly entitled rich boy that sits behind him in his intro to poetry class and spends most of his time kicking Merlin’s chair or tapping away on his phone until Merlin snaps at him to fucking stop it already. He’s shirtless. In winter. He has some indecipherable red lines all over his chest that Merlin suspects are lipstick, his hair is in disarray, and he’s holding a cup of what is probably a vile concoction designed to get someone drunk in ten seconds flat in hand. He looks sort of confused and amused at the same time, and it’s almost endearing, except it isn’t. Because Arthur’s a rich asshole and Merlin doesn’t care if Arthur’s stupidly hot, it’s only distracting because he’s been thinking about the potential blowjob he’s not going to get tonight.

Still. He tries not to stare.

"Waiting for the bus," he says coldly before turning his back on Arthur.

Arthur snorts. “Good luck with that. The schedule’s wrong. The last bus was, like, an hour ago.”

Merlin sighs. Of course. Of fucking course. Fuck his life. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

"Hey, you’re that dude who sits in front of me in poetry! Merlin, right?” Merlin closes his eyes and wishes the Earth would swallow him. “Dude, you gotta chill. You’re always so goddamn uptight.”

"I’m sorry," Merlin says, turning around. He doesn’t stop to think why Arthur thinks that because Merlin swears Arthur doesn’t actually take any notes or pay attention to anything else but his stupid phone in class. His blood is boiling because Arthur’s a douchebag who can sail by his classes if he wants, what with his dad being the Dean and all, but Merlin can’t afford that. He can’t. And he tells Arthur as such with as much contempt as he can muster. Which is a lot.

"Some of us care about our future, alright?" And yeah, okay, maybe he’s being overly dramatic but Merlin cannot stand guys like Arthur who have it so easy all the time just because they’re loaded. Or their daddies are. Same fucking difference.

Arthur raises his hands in a defensive manner. “Man, calm down. I care too, okay?” Merlin snorts. “Why do you think I’m in a fucking poetry class? It’s not like I need it or anything. Maybe I just fucking like Keats, you know?”

Merlin glares at him but says nothing.

"Just come inside," Arthur says. "It’s freezing and my nipples are going to fall off. I’ll drive you home."

"I’m not getting in a car with you," Merlin says even as he finds himself walking with Arthur to the house. Because yeah, it’s cold as balls.

"Not now, you idiot. I’m wasted as fuck. Tomorrow. I’ll drive you tomorrow.” Arthur’s walking a bit unsteadily and Merlin almost reaches out to grab his elbow but stops himself in time. He pinches his lips together against the urge to feel the goosebumps on Arthur’s arms under his fingers. It’s that blowjob he was suppose to have again, it messes with his head.

“For now you just enjoy the party, okay?” Arthur’s saying. “You really look like you need to loosen up, man.”

Merlin takes a deep fortifying breath and lets it out through his nose. He looks at Arthur sideways, at the way his nipples are really fucking hard, and the way the muscles in his back move under his skin when Arthur raises a hand to flip the bird at some guy screaming obscenities from a second floor window.

“When’s the last time you got laid anyway?"

The Frat house is big and imposing, three stories high with all the lights on spilling yellow over the front yard. They stop on the porch before Arthur opens the door.

"Why?" Merlin says. "You offering?" He means it as a goad. Just to see what manly frat boy Arthur will do. Merlin’s got that itch under his skin that makes him want to push until something breaks. He’s wound tight and angry. He feels mean and horny and yeah, maybe it’s stupid, but Merlin’s never been good at dealing with that level of underdressed hotness. He can’t help it.

Arthur only grins and raises an eyebrow. Merlin’s breath catches in his throat.

“Careful what you wish for, Emrys.”

“You’re just a rich asshole.” His voice’s shakier than he’d like it to be and he says it more to fight the rush of heat in his veins. Damn Pendragon and the way his lips quirk, all red and wet. And fuck his goddamn hard nipples too.

“Perhaps,” Arthur says, opening the door. “I still fucking love Keats, though.”

Merlin only rolls his eyes and follows Arthur in. At least it’s warm. The music’s blasting and there are people everywhere. Merlin can feel the vibrations of the bass in the wall when he tries to steady himself as a person rushes past him and out the door, promptly puking over the banister.

Arthur grabs his elbow and drags him through the crowd. “Let’s get you drunk.”

Merlin doesn’t mean to really, but Arthur’s right there and Merlin’s only human so he’s staring at Arthur’s fucking perfect, pert ass before he knows it. He has the sudden urge to drop to his knees and sink his teeth into it. He grabs a cup from someone’s hand as he passes and downs whatever’s in it letting it burn his throat and stomach.

“You have a phone number written on your back,” he says loud enough to be heard over the music.

Arthur twists around trying to see over his shoulder and smiles the goofiest of smiles Merlin has ever seen, says “Yeah” with a sort of wonder like it’s a goddamn accomplishment. Merlin doesn’t know why he does it, he can already feel the alcohol from whatever he drank coursing through his body. He rationalizes that he’s tired, the house is too warm and smells like sweat and booze and weed, people are making out everywhere in different stages of undress, but he reaches out with a finger and smears the last two digits of the phone number with his thumb, lets it slide over the sweat that broke on Arthur’s skin.

Either Arthur doesn’t realises or doesn’t care, either way, he doesn’t comment. He only lets go of Merlin’s arm once they’re in the kitchen at the back of the house. The music’s a bit muffled here, the air a bit easier to breathe.

“Arthur!” a tall guy with red hair yells from his spot in the corner where’s he’s handing out cups to a couple of girls from the keg in front of him. “Where were you, man?”

Arthur grabs random cups on the table, sniffing them then putting them back down until he finds one that seems to satisfy him and shoves it in Merlin’s hand. “Drink,” he says. “I walked back Viv to her house.”

The red-haired guy frowns. “Thought that was ages ago.”

Arthur gives him a smirk. “Got delayed there for a while.”

The other guy laughs out loud, but Merlin doesn’t miss the quick look Arthur sends him as he shuffles the empty cups on the counter. Merlin frowns.

He quickly forgets about it though as he’s plied with more alcohol than he’s ever seen in his life. Arthur’s frat brothers come in turns in the kitchen where Arthur leans against the wall while Merlin downs whatever’s thrown at him until all of his muscles feel heavy and loose at the same time. He lost his coat at some point, and his sweater. His skin’s hot and he’s really fucking grateful for the counter behind his back because he’s pretty sure he’d have a hard time standing straight without it.

In all the fuzziness, he thinks it might be time to slow down. So when the next rich douchebag (they’re all rich douchebags, okay?) comes at him and Arthur to tell them about the hot chick he just bangged in the garden shed and he somehow wants to get a toast out of it because apparently it’s also a goddamn accomplishment, Merlin sets the drink aside.

Even in all the coming and going, the shouting and display of manly heterosexuality, it’s hard to ignore how fuckable Arthur is. And Merlin hates himself a little bit for it. But Arthur’s all there with his broad shoulders and his pecs, his narrow hips and perfect ass that Merlin can’t see right now, but knows is there, waiting to be fucked or bitten or licked. God, but Merlin would bury himself in that ass and never come out.

It’d be easier if Arthur had an ugly face or something, but no. The dickbag has one of those faces that Merlin can’t just stop looking at, with golden hair, and big blues eyes, high cheekbones and red lips that would look great stretched around Merlin’s cock. And nipples. Arthur has great nipples.

It’s starting to be a problem.

Merlin turns around to get another glass of something, anything really, because fuck this, he needs to be drunker, but when he turns back Arthur’s all in his space, crowding him against the counter.

“You’re looking at me a lot, Emrys,” he says, warm breath fanning over Merlin’s cheek, eyes darting to Merlin’s lips. Merlin licks them reflexively and Arthur’s eyes widen a bit.

“You wish,” he says, voice cracking a little.

Arthur tilts his head to the side and smiles. It’s so self-assured and arrogant, Merlin doesn’t know if he wants to punch him in his fucking perfect face or drop down and choke himself on his cock.

“You want me,” Arthur says, and it’s not a question.

Merlin snorts and tries to move away, but Arthur cages his body with his arms and leans his chest against Merlin, still smiling that stupid smile of his. The face punching seems more and more appealing by the minute. That is until Arthur rolls his hips against Merlin’s thigh and Merlin feels his hard cock.

Oh, shit.

“That what you want?” Arthur says. His breath smells like alcohol, but his eyes are clear and his body so hard and warm and fuck fuck fuck. Merlin swallows. “Or am I not good enough? What did you call me again?” Arthur nuzzles at Merlin’s neck. “A rich asshole who—”

“Who doesn’t care about anything but himself and daddy’s money.”

“Yeah,” Arthur says, and rolls his hips against Merlin some more, then licks behind Merlin’s ear, making his shudder. “Yeah.”

Merlin digs his fingers in Arthur’s waist, skin smooth and warm under his hands. Merlin’s body thrums with restraint and he’s drunk enough that he knows he’s about two seconds away from turning around and offering his ass to Arthur, principles be damned.

He needs to act quickly before he has no dignity left.

“You’re arrogant,” he says, and Arthur hums, face buried in Merlin’s neck. He stretches his T-shirt down to mouth at Merlin’s collarbones. Merlin’s horrified at himself when he tilts his head back to give Arthur’s more space. He tries not to think about how hard he is right now, and how fucking good Arthur’s mouth is on his skin. “You—You take classes you think are easy just so you can breeze through them and don’t give a shit about the subject or the people who actually do care about it. Like it’s a joke. Everything’s a goddamn joke for guys like you.”

It’s the worst insult-slash-rebuttal Merlin’s ever come up with, but at this point he’ll take anything, because Arthur’s fingers have crept under Merlin’s shirt. They’re surprisingly soft and firm all at once on his back and Merlin’s overwhelmed with the thought of them pumping in and out of his ass. It’s not like he thinks it’s going to work or anything, but it gives his brain time to come up with something better, something meaner and angrier.

But then Arthur pulls off of him (Merlin doesn’t whimper. He doesn’t), and stares at him.

Oh. Okay, then. Good brain.

Arthur frowns, but his hands are still under Merlin’s shirt and, oh god, going up his chest, rubbing at his nipples.

“I do care,” Arthur says.

Merlin grabs a random drink from the counter and downs it again to hide the shaking in his fingers. “Please,” he says. “That thing about Keats? Dude, it may work with the chicks, but some of us aren’t that gullible.”

Something shifts on Arthur’s face and Merlin has to blink a little against the haze of alcohol because one moment Arthur’s serious and the other there’s this smirk on his face and a glint in his eyes that makes ‘Danger, Danger’ flash aggressively in neon red in Merlin’s head.

Arthur’s on him again, lips against Merlin’s jaw, and fingers tight on his waist, grinding his dick on Merlin’s and oh god, oh fuck, Merlin is so screwed.

“Bet you I can recite Keats while you suck my cock,” Arthur says, voice husky and low in Merlin’s ear.

There’s no denying the whimper that comes out of him at that. It’s highly embarrassing.

Arthur raises an eyebrow at him. “What? Scared of a little challenge, Emrys? We can do the opposite if you want? I bet you can’t recite anything while I suck you.”

There’s heat and anger deep in Merlin’s stomach at Arthur’s smugness, like he thinks Merlin has no chance of winning, and fuck that. He wants to erase that look so bad off Arthur’s face until it’s only a look of surprise when Merlin makes him come so hard he won’t even fucking remember who Keats fucking is. He can always blame it on the alcohol afterwards.

Right?

It’s Merlin’s turn to crowd Arthur until he hits the wall. It’s satisfying the way Arthur’s eyes go wide, but less so when he looks so damn pleased about it. Still, Merlin pushes on and bites at Arthur’s earlobe while sneaking a hand between them and cupping him through his pants.

“I bet you can’t recite me your goddamn Keats while I ride your dick,” he says, because let it be known that Merlin Emrys doesn’t do things halfway. And as he squeezes Arthur’s cock in his hand, he finds that he’s really looking forward to having it up his ass.

“Fuck,” Arthur says, and “okay.” He pulls back and looks at Merlin for a beat. “Okay.” He dives in to brush his lips against Merlin’s in something quick and wet and surprisingly sweet in a way that stuns Merlin. He grabs Merlin’s hand and pulls him after him, back out of the kitchen, through the people dancing and making out and god knows what else, up the stairs to the third floor of the house.

As soon as the door to what Merlin assumes is Arthur’s room closes behind him, Arthur pushes Merlin on the bed and climbs over him, straddling his hips.

“Off,” he says even though he already has Merlin half out of his shirt. Merlin’s brain kicks back in and he scrambles out of his clothes. There’s something in their touch, something urgent that makes Merlin want to touch everywhere and everything.

“Take off your pants,” he says as he squirms out of his own, and Arthur stands beside the bed to do so.

Holy shit.

It’s so fucking unfair how hot Arthur is naked with thick thighs and his glorious cock that Merlin can’t decide if he wants to suck on, or have in him, or just hump against. Whatever. He needs that cock somewhere.

Arthur sees him stare and smirks at him. Merlin scowls.

Arthur finds the lube in a drawer of his desk and throws it on Merlin’s chest before climbing back on the bed.

“How about we start with you?” Arthur says, taking the lube and coating his fingers with it. He crawls up Merlin’s body and hovers over him, close but without touching him. Merlin can feel Arthur’s heat, see the way his chest moves with his fast breathing. Arthur just looks at him and for a moment everything stops. Merlin realizes that Arthur’s giving him an out, and that makes him roll his eyes and surge forward to push his lips on Arthur’s.

Arthur groans and settles on Merlin, heavy and hard, rolling his hips against Merlin’s. The delicious slide of their cocks together makes Merlin bend his knees and curl his toes, opening his thighs wider to accommodate Arthur. He doesn’t even think about how it makes him look. It feels like the only natural thing to do right now, what with Arthur’s tongue in his mouth, the nip of his teeth on his lips, and the whole of his body stretched along Merlin’s.

Arthur slides down Merlin’s chest, his mouth a hot brand on his nipples, then sternum and stomach, until he’s burying his face in Merlin’s crotch, mouthing at the base of his cock. He pushes a finger between Merlin’s ass, rubbing the tip of it on the rim of his hole.

It’s hard to breathe for a moment.

“Well, what about it, Emrys? Fucking start reciting.” Merlin raises himself on his elbows to glare at Arthur, but it’s kind of difficult to muster the right kind of anger when Merlin’s cock is just leaning against Arthur’s cheek like that. He has to bite down a moan when Arthur pushes a finger inside of him.

“Whatever you want,” Arthur says. “I’m not picky.” He pumps his finger in and out of Merlin in a steady rhythm, mouth hot and tongue wet on Merlin’s dick. Jesus.

Now mind is clear,” Merlin starts, forcing his eyes to stay open, to look at the red of Arthur’s lips on the red of his own cock, with the flash of white teeth and his golden hair clinging sweaty on his forehead. “as a cloudless sky.

Arthur hums and laughs quietly, pushing another finger inside Merlin, faster and harder. He curls his fingers just so. Merlin chokes on the next words, hips bucking off the bed.

Time then to make—make a home.” Arthur licks up Merlin’s shaft and closes his lips on the head of his dick, sucking harshly as he pushes a third finger beside the others. Merlin cries out. The burn of it is only soothed by how Arthur drags his tongue along Merlin’s slit. It makes his breath stutter and his lungs feel on fire.

Merlin buries his fingers in Arthur’s hair and pulls him off says “to make a home in wilderness” through clenched teeth.

It becomes apparent then that Arthur’s trying not to laugh. His shoulders are shaking and he hides his smile against Merlin’s inner thigh, biting lightly at the skin. And yet, he doesn’t stop pumping his fingers in Merlin’s ass, the slide of them perfect, stretching Merlin out.

“What?” he says.

Arthur burst out laughing, and his hand doesn’t even falter. Merlin doesn’t know why that pisses him off. Fuck those frat boys and their hand-eye coordination or something, it’s inhuman.

“I should have known,” Arthur says, mouth back on Merlin’s dick. “I should have known you’d be all about The Beats. Fucking little hipster.”

“Oh, fuck you.”

“Jesus fuck, that’s not even real poetry, Merlin,” Arthur says, pushing hard with his hand and keeping his fingers there, deep in Merlin’s ass, as he rubs the rim with his thumb.

Merlin’s jaw drops. “You’re joking, right?” Arthur only shrugs. “I think I’m going to be sick.” Arthur laughs some more, and Merlin narrows his eyes at him. “Well I don’t see you reciting your stupid Keats.”

“You’re still not riding my fucking dick.”

Right. That’s it. Merlin moves as fast as he can, limbs heavy and uncoordinated, dizzy with the sudden movement. He doesn’t care about how he looks, he’s got a score to settle. Somehow (don’t ask him how) he’s got Arthur on his back, and Merlin only gives himself a brief moment to mourn the loss of his fingers inside of him.

“Where are the condoms, douchebag?”

Arthur reaches out to grab one from the bedside table and shoves it in Merlin’s hand. Merlin wants to punch his smug face again.

He puts the condom on Arthur’s cock and straddles his hips, then slowly lowers himself. Arthur’s cock is wide and stretches Merlin more than he’s been in a while, but the burn of it takes away the fuzzy edge of the alcohol a bit. He bites his lip, eyes fixed on Arthur’s face.

Arthur’s mouth fell open the moment his cock touched Merlin’s hole, but his eyes are wide and blue and staring back at him.

Merlin wriggles his hips a little, wrenching a groan out of Arthur as he throws his head back and closes his eyes. Arthur hips snap up a little and his hands come up and grip Merlin’s waist .

Once Merlin’s all the way down, he takes a long, deep breath and braces himself on Arthur’s chest, sweaty and red from all the smeared lipstick.

“Recite, big boy,” he says. “La Belle Dame Sans Merci, yeah? That shouldn’t be so hard for such a huge fan of Keats like you.”

It’s Arthur’s turn to glare at Merlin. Merlin feels sort of victorious at that.

He starts riding Arthur with short, shallow movements of his hips, occasionally pinching a nipple (Arthur’s goddamn nipples. Seriously. It’s a thing) between his fingers. He likes the little twitches it elicits.

Oh what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,” Arthur starts, and Merlin would lie if he wasn’t fucking surprised. It must show on his face because Arthur grins a little, so Merlin gives a mean twist of his hips. It makes Arthur’s fingers dig painfully in his sides, but he stutters on the next line.

Arthur recites line after line of the poem and Merlin rides him faster and harder, ready to yell victory every time Arthur stops to moan, or bite his lip, or swear when Merlin clenches hard around him on a downslide. Arthur’s hands settle on Merlin’s thighs and grip the muscles that burn and ache there, but Merlin doesn’t stop.

On I met a lady in the meads Merlin pulls off until only the head of Arthur’s dick is still in his ass. And on a fairy’s child he pushes back down in a long, fast slide that makes Arthur choke on the last word, eyes clenched shut. Merlin’s certain he’ll have bruises on his thighs tomorrow.

Arthur’s beautiful under him, and his cock fits in Merlin’s ass perfectly.

When Arthur says the last line of the poem, voice thin and ragged—and no bird sings pushed through clenched teeth—he looks up triumphantly at Merlin, eyes bright, wet fringe falling across them. Merlin can’t help but smile at him for a moment, because he looks like a goddamn child who just won his first soccer game or something and it’s sort of endearing.

He catches himself though, and huffs. “Fine,” he says, slowing his hips to let himself catch his breath a little. His cock is so fucking hard it leaks over his and Arthur’s bellies. “So you know Keats.”

“And Byron, and Shelley, and Wordsworth, and Pope.”

“Oh god.” Merlin stops and stares at him. “You like Pope?”

“Pope’s iconic.”

Merlin can’t believe what he’s hearing. “Right. We can’t do this anymore. I think I’m gonna barf.” He tries to pull off Arthur, but Arthur grabs his waist and brings him back down wrenching a loud moan from both of them.

“You recited Ginsberg, Merlin.”

“You like Pope. Pope, Arthur. That’s worse than being a fucking, rich, douchebag of a frat boy.”

Arthur twists them around with a laugh until he’s pushing Merlin hard into the bed. “And yet, here you are, letting me fuck your tight little ass.”

Merlin says nothing because Arthur starts pounding him into the mattress like it’s his job, and sue him, but it’s distracting as hell. Instead, Merlin grabs his hair and pulls, not caring if it’s too hard, and crashes their mouths together.

“I bet—I bet you can’t recite anything that wasn’t written by a straight, white dude,” Merlin pants against Arthur lips. He hooks his legs around Arthur’s waist and clings to his neck.

Arthur closes his eyes and leans his forehead on Merlin’s shoulder. He grunts and moans, mouth open and wet on his skin and it doesn’t look like he’s going to say anything. Merlin thinks he should feel vindicated that he called out Arthur on his bullshit, because clearly Arthur only knows the one poem (probably to pick up chicks, like the dickbag that he is), but instead he feels a twinge of disappointment somewhere in his chest. Fuck, he so doesn’t need this.

But then Arthur, goddamn Arthur, has to go and fuck with his world again.

Stasis in darkness. Then the substanceless blue,” he says before closing his lips on Merlin’s nipple, nibbling at it. “Pour of tor and distances.”

God fucking damnit. Fuck him. Just—

“Oh fuck,” Merlin says, staring at the ceiling and holding on to Arthur’s biceps. “You had to go with Plath, you asshole.”

Arthur doesn’t say anything, just fucks into Merlin harder, the slide of his cock so good and so wanted, but not as much as the words he pours inside Merlin’s skin.

A line from Sexton against his collarbone. A stanza of Yeats along his jawline. Homer behind his ear, and Frost sliding on his cheekbone.

And then fucking Pope against his heart as Arthur wraps his hand around Merlin’s dick and pulls.

Merlin’s laughing as he comes all over his chest and Arthur’s hand, the shock of it burning all along his veins. He feels completely undone and loose. It burns and it’s awesome all at the same time.

Arthur’s grunting and sweating over him still and god Merlin never wants it to stop.

It only takes a short time for Arthur to come too, pushing one last time, burying himself as deep as he can inside Merlin. Merlin can’t stop touching him. He can’t even muster the proper disgust at himself for the shushing noises he’s making as Arthur drops on top of him, breathing harsh and fast.

“You fucking jackass,” Merlin says, kissing the top of Arthur’s head. “I can’t believe you made me come with Pope.”

Arthur laughs into Merlin’s chest and bites lightly at his shoulder before standing up with a loud groan. He stands unsteadily beside the bed and for a moment, it almost looks like he’s going to fall. But then he steadies himself and shoots Merlin a smile like that’s another huge accomplishment. Merlin just rolls his eyes at him.

He does appreciate the view when Arthur turns around to get rid of the condom and grabs a towel from the hook on his closet’s door.

He wipes his own stomach before throwing the towel on Merlin’s face.

When they’re relatively clean (the lipstick somehow got everywhere, even on Merlin, and it’s not really going away. Merlin predicts an embarrassing phone call to Gwen to ask her about her make up remover in his near future), Arthur arranges himself and Merlin under the covers and wraps himself around Merlin’s back.

“Dude,” he says, lips on Merlin’s shoulder blade. “I totally won the bet. You owe me a date.”

“We never agreed to the terms.”

“You lost.” He peppers Merlin’s back with sweet, small kisses that pull at something inside Merlin’s chest and make it very hard to fight him on this issue. Any issue, really. “You owe me a date.”

Merlin sighs. “Fine,” he says as disgruntled as he can make himself sound, but still pushes back into the embrace.

The silence settles around them. Merlin can still hear the sounds of the party downstairs. The bass of the music is still making the walls vibrate, but somehow everything is muffled and feels more distant than it is.

Arthur tightens his arm around him. “Time then to make a home in wilderness,” he says, picking up where Merlin had left off. “What have I done but wander with my eyes in the trees? So I will build: wife, family, and seek for neighbors.

Merlin’s chest feels tight as Arthur pushes the words in the back of his neck with his low, round voice that makes them sound like they’re a secret meant for him only. They travel along his spine, soft and warm and precious, and wrap themselves around his bones.

“Aw, shit,” Merlin says. “I am so fucked.”