Beren (beren_writes) wrote,
Beren
beren_writes

Fic: From Darkness Comes Light 03/03, Merlin, Arthur/Merlin, NC17/18

Title: From Darkness Comes Light 03/03
Fandom: Merlin (BBC)
Author: Beren
Pairing: Merlin/Arthur
Rating: NC17/18
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by the BBC. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Warnings/Spoilers: explicit sex, general spoilers for up to 1.10
Summary: When dark creatures that prey on the living, taking their blood and causing the dead to rise from their graves are reported in Albion it is Arthur who is sent to destroy them. Some things, however, do not fall to the sword and Arthur learns this the hard way. Merlin is faced with giving up more than his secret to save his friend.
Author's Notes: Okay, so those who know me from other fandoms were probably wondering when the vampire fic would happen :). I can never resist it ::g::. Thanks to Soph for the beta.
Link: Ch 1 | Ch 2
Long Fics | HP Short fics | All Other Short Fics | Series Fics

Allies

Merlin had spent the night with Arthur so he was on light duties for the day, at Arthur's insistence, not his, but at least it meant he'd have some time for reading. Over the past few weeks his light duty days have given him spare time that he wasn't used to having and he had to admit he was enjoying it. He was quite looking forward to getting some more research done, right up until the point where he walked into Gaius' rooms and found Gwen standing there.

"Hello," she greeted and favoured him with a smile.

"Morning," he offered in return, hoping that he didn’t look like he had just had sex.

Sometimes when he came back, Gaius commented on how he really should show more decorum, but it wasn't his fault that Arthur feeding left them both begging for all the sex they could get. Light duties wasn't because of blood loss or anything like that; it was because Merlin rarely got any sleep on one night a week. It had been two weeks before he had stopped sleeping in Arthur's room as a matter of course and they were about to enter their third week after that. Gaius was being very cagey about whether he thought Arthur's condition was changing any more, but Merlin couldn't convince his mentor to say any more.

"You were out early," Gwen said in a conversational tone that led him to believe she would not be leaving any time soon.

"Oh, I stayed in Arthur's rooms last night," he said and then mentally kicked himself for his honesty as Gwen looked kind of surprised. "Um ... he occasionally has night terrors from the attack and I have to be there to administer one of Gaius' drafts, but you didn't hear that because Arthur is invincible, okay?"

That made Gwen smile.

"Okay," Gwen promised, seemingly satisfied.

Without thinking about it, Merlin wandered over to the bench and poured some water into the big bowl Gaius always left out. Then he removed his neckerchief and began to wash his face and neck. When he was done he turned back and realised that Gwen was frowning slightly.

"Merlin," Gwen asked and had him worried just by the way she said his name, "what's on your neck?"

His hand flew to where the bite mark had to still be visible and he scrambled for an explanation. It didn't feel raw so he prayed it didn't look too new and he did his best to smile. He wasn't sure it worked.

"Oh that," he said, turning and putting his neckerchief back on casually as if he wasn't trying to hide the injury, "it's nothing. Arthur managed to clock me one with the end of a sword yesterday while trying to teach me how not to be clumsy, and it made a funny mark, but Gaius says it's nothing to worry about."

He wasn't good a lying, but he gave Gwen his best butter-wouldn't-melt expression and prayed it would work better on his friend than it did on his mother. Gwen did not look completely convinced, but she was the type who didn't accuse people of lying.

"Well as long as Gaius is sure," she said and he gave her a big grin and a nod to encourage her way of thinking.

"He's sure," he said and wandered back towards her. "Were you waiting for Gaius, or is there something I can help you with?"

Thankfully that tactic seemed to work and Gwen smiled at him and began to tell him why she was there. She seemed a little worried about something, but he couldn't be sure what since she didn't give him any hints. When Gaius came back, Merlin decided to leave Gwen in his mentor's capable hands and went to his room to read.

====

Gaius, after Arthur had threatened to just declare himself completely fit, had finally decided Arthur was as well as he was ever going to be and hence, for the court and Uther, totally healed. This meant a celebration, which in turn meant a feast and the castle had been preparing for it for a day and a half already, which left the whole of the next day for preparations as well. Merlin and Arthur had decided to have their own celebration the night before the official one and hence Arthur's door was locked just as if had been once a week for the last three weeks since Merlin had moved back into his own room.

Merlin didn't always make it back to his room every night and sometimes he only barely made it back before the early hours, but they were trying to be discrete. The night when Arthur fed was the one night he was sure he would not have to find his way back to his own room, so he always looked forward to it.

Standing there in Arthur's powerful embrace, Merlin gave up all pretence of control. In this the strength was in Arthur and he had no choice but to accept that. He felt Arthur's breath on his neck and he moved his head a little to the left, even as his magic stirred under his skin. It knew what was coming as well as he did and his whole being was filled with nervous excitement and anticipation.

They had found through trial and error that sex and Arthur feeding did not always go together well, depending on how hungry Arthur was. Since Arthur was very hungry this evening, they had opted for feeding first, sex later, but that didn't stop the whole thing being incredibly sexual.

As Arthur's lips touched his skin and the pressure on his neck increased, Merlin barely felt Arthur's fangs slide into his flesh. There was a moment of pain, but it was so short as to be irrelevant as Arthur's need and pleasure at the bite flooded into him. He could feel his magic and his blood being drawn out of him and it was intoxicatingly wonderful as Arthur's reactions bled into him without any filter.

At that moment he could not have stopped Arthur even if he had wanted to and his body reacted in the only way it knew how. As pleasure ran round him in waves, he felt himself hardening, becoming super sensitive to the way Arthur was pushed up against him from behind, totally unable to ignore that Arthur was very much in a similar state. There was no separating this from the sexual edge and Merlin found himself moaning as Arthur continued to drink from him.

So completely overcome was he that the creak of the door barely made it into his consciousness, but the gasp of a woman did. He opened his eyes to see Morgana with a key in her hand and the door half open.

"It's true," Morgana whispered, expression completely terrified.

Merlin just stood there, only just able to comprehend what he was seeing until Arthur broke the connection.

"Morgana," Arthur said, voice tinged with power and Merlin knew that his lover's eyes would be yellow with magic and Arthur's fangs would be clearly visible.

That one word broke the tableau and then Morgana turned and ran. That kick started Merlin's brain as his thoughts finally started moving again and he broke away from Arthur. He had to stop Morgana.

"Stay here," he said, without looking back, well aware that Arthur would be unable to control himself for a while yet.

Then he ran as well.

As he exited the room, all he saw was Morgana's skirts vanishing around a corner and he put on as much speed as he could to catch her. It was late; there were no servants to see them and he prayed that he could reach her before she reached someone else.

"Lady Morgana," he called as he rounded the corner and saw her opening a door further down.

She looked back at him, so obviously afraid, and then ran up the stairs the door revealed. There was nothing else for it and Merlin ran as fast as his legs would carry him, charging up the stairs after her into a long dark corridor.

"Morgana, please," he begged as she ran from him, skirts making her slower than him, but fast enough to keep just ahead, "it's not what you think."

The chase might have continued, but there was another door coming up and with a thought, Merlin turned its lock. When Morgana reached it she screeched in frustration and fear, trying to get it open.

"My Lady," Merlin said, stopping halfway down the corridor so as not to frighten her more, "please."

Morgana stopped then, seemingly recovering her dignity and turned towards him.

"Arthur has you under his power," she said, clearly still afraid, but holding it inside; "you must fight him, Merlin; we must stop him."

At least she was talking to him now.

"No," he replied and put his hand on the wall as the corridor lurched a little, "I swear to you, it is not like that."

"Listen to yourself, Merlin," she responded, sounding sure of herself; "he is one of those things. I saw him drinking your blood."

Merlin might have laughed at how that sounded if he hadn't begun to feel alarmingly sick as the world gave a second lurch. Running had not been a good idea.

"Yes," he said, dropping any formality as he realised he was running out of time, "but he is not one of them. The bite infected him, but the magic that saved us stopped him becoming like them. Arthur occasionally needs blood, but I go to him willingly."

As the corridor gave an alarming spin in his vision he leant against the wall.

"How can you expect me to believe that?" Morgana asked, righteous now rather than afraid.

"The creatures cannot stand light because they are dark magic, light kills them," Merlin tried to convince her; "Arthur walks around in the day. He is not evil."

What he wanted to do was put his head between his knees and stop the world going round, but he didn't dare.

"What he asks of you is beyond something even the most faithful servant or friend would do," Morgana said, but sounded less sure and Merlin looked up at her.

He had to make her see; if anyone else found out, Arthur would be exiled at best and killed at worst and that was unacceptable.

"I am not just his servant or just his friend, Morgana," he said, conveying his honesty in his gaze and using informality to insinuate how this was in the scheme of things.

For a moment she blinked at him, but it was clear she understood. It seemed that maybe he was getting through, but his time was running out. The spinning was more manageable, but his vision was beginning to go dark at the edges. With a sinking feeling he realised he was fainting and there was nothing he could do about it.

"He is still Arthur," he prayed he was getting his point across, because that was the last thing he managed to say and he started falling towards the floor.

"Merlin!" he heard a very familiar voice call his name and strong arms were catching him as the world went away for a while.

When it came back, it came with a stonkingly bad headache.

"Merlin, can you hear me?" Arthur sounded distraught. "I took too much; you should never have trusted me."

That almost made him laugh; the nobility could be so melodramatic.

"No need to be so dramatic, I'm not dying," he said, and winced as he opened his eyes, "and you didn't take too much."

Arthur looked so relieved, even with blood on his chin.

"Note to self, don't run after Arthur's been feeding," Merlin said, and tried to make his eyes focus properly.

Arthur moved to help him sit up and his temples pounded as he did so, but the corridor was very much more stable now and in colour, which seemed to be a good sign.

"I thought I said to stay in your room," he said, looking at Arthur's less than normal state.

The glow was almost gone from Arthur's eyes, but not quite and the fangs had receded, but there was still blood over Arthur's mouth and chin.

"Well I take orders about as well as you do," Arthur replied, looking him over as if he was afraid he would break.

It was then that Merlin remembered Morgana and looked over to see her watching them. The really strange thing was that all the tension seemed to have gone from Morgana's stance and now she was just watching them. He opened his mouth to speak, but Morgana got there first.

"We need to get both of you back to Arthur's chambers," she said and walked towards them, "and then the pair of you are explaining everything."

He actually heard Arthur's sigh of relief and then he was being helped to his feet, Arthur on one side and Morgana on the other. The pounding in his head kept him distracted until he found himself sitting in a chair in Arthur's chamber and being handed the restorative Gaius had made for him.

"Are you okay?" Arthur asked, still obviously concerned. "You don't usually react like this when I just bite you."

"I don't usually chase a very fast young lady down corridors and upstairs afterwards either," he pointed out and downed the herbal mixture in the goblet in one.

It tasted as awful as he knew it always did and he grimaced.

"What was that?" Morgana asked.

"A restorative," Arthur replied as Merlin reached for some water to get rid of the taste.

"From Gaius?" Morgana asked and Merlin realised they had just implicated Gaius as well.

"Of course from Gaius," Arthur said, a little more snappishly than Merlin thought was necessary; "you don't think he'd miss this do you?"

"Well the rest of us did," Morgana pointed out.

"Thank god," Merlin muttered to himself, but realised he had said it too loud when two royal faces looked at him.

Arthur handed him a plate of bread and cheese and then went back to looking at Morgana. Not really feeling up to anything else, Merlin began to eat meekly, but the good thing was that the water and the food almost instantly began to reduce his headache.

"Tell me everything," Morgana said firmly, "now!"

For a moment Merlin though Arthur might object, but eventually Arthur indicated the other chair for Morgana to sit in and then began to talk. Arthur really did tell Morgana everything, well except the fact that the magic which had saved them was Merlin's. To Merlin's shock, Arthur even explained when and how they had become lovers and from the way Morgana reacted he didn't think it was the first time the pair had discussed Arthur's love life. From the "About time" comment, Merlin didn't think that part really shocked Morgana either and he had to do a whole lot of reassessing of his own as the conversation continued. Suddenly Arthur's seeming infatuation with Morgana in public began to make more sense and the game Arthur and Morgana played for Uther's benefit became clearer and clearer. It was quite a revelation, so for once in his life Merlin just sat there and shut up.

"I'm going to have to tell Gwen," Morgana said, a minute or so after Arthur finally finished the explanation. "She saw the remains of a bite on Merlin which is why I came here tonight."

Merlin remembered the incident with Gwen at the end of the previous week and how she had seemed worried after it and it made complete sense now he knew she hadn't accepted his explanation. At least that was one weight off his mind.

"I knew something was worrying her," he admitted and finally entered the conversation.

"Yes," Morgana said, seemingly unimpressed, "well done for male understatement; she's been frantic. No one in Camelot mentions the word magic without very good cause."

Merlin did his best to look chastised; he was never going to understand women ever, but he knew how to appear apologetic and when to do so. Morgana was looking at him in a worryingly thoughtful way and Arthur seemed to have decided to keep out of it for now.

"You two are going to have to be more obvious about your relationship," Morgana finally decided and caused Merlin to almost choke on his own tongue.

"What?" he asked in a rather strangled tone, but although he looked surprised, Arthur did not seem shocked.

"The locking yourselves away once a week is suspicious, people will talk," Morgana said as if it should have been obvious. "Court intrigue always thinks the worst and after Arthur's encounter they'll need something else to focus on."

"And you think that being open about sleeping together is better?" Merlin was not quite sure how that worked.

He was still confused by politics.

"Of course," Morgana said and Merlin wasn't sure if she was trying to make him feel like an idiot; "Arthur wouldn't be the first prince to have a male lover. Of course you'll have to keep quiet the fact that you're madly in love with each other," Merlin felt his face heating up, "but other than that, be more overt. As long as Arthur still flirts with visiting ladies to make sure everyone thinks yours is a relationship of convenience, no one will care."

Merlin wasn't so sure he wouldn’t end up straight in the dungeon, but when he looked to Arthur, his friend and lover appeared thoughtful about the whole idea.

"Father will probably be relieved that he doesn't have to worry about any bastard children," Arthur mused, "especially if I tell him it's just more convenient when he demands to know what I think I'm doing. He might even approve, especially since he already knows Merlin is loyal."

The whole thing was making Merlin's head spin; he wasn't good at politics at all. The only thing he could imagine was Uther demanding he be hanged, but Arthur and Morgana clearly didn't think anything like that would happen.

"If Merlin virtually moves in here, your nights with locked doors won't seem anything unusual," Morgana said, seemingly having decided this was the only thing to do. "You could let slip to one of your knights that the locked door is because you get up to kinky things and that will just improve your reputation with those louts."

There was only so much redness one face could take and Merlin was pretty sure his was at the limit. Disappearing on the spot seemed like a vaguely good idea if he hadn't thought it might get him killed; although death was looking quite good as the embarrassment level rose. The way Arthur was eyeing him when he dared to look up, he had a feeling that Morgana was giving Arthur ideas.

"How do you feel about being felt up at the feast tomorrow?" Arthur asked with a smile that was a little too wicked for Merlin's liking.

Merlin just groaned; the feast to celebrate Arthur's return to health was going to be torture, he could tell.

====

The feast would be that evening and the castle was in full preparation for the celebration, but Arthur and Merlin were in Arthur's rooms waiting for Morgana and Gwen. Morgana had agreed to explain to Gwen, but they had all decided it would be better if Gwen could see for herself as well, so the meeting had been arranged.

"We should tell them about me as well," Merlin said, turning from where he had been staring at a new cobweb in the corner of the room.

It was something he had been thinking about all night; in fact he had only managed about an hour's sleep as his mind had turned everything over and over. No matter how he protested his love for Arthur, he knew Gwen, and he was sure she would think of the relationship as exploiting him. Revealing the whole truth was the only solution he could see to helping Gwen to understand or she would worry about him.

Arthur appeared startled by his outburst.

"If anyone finds out about you, you could be killed," Arthur pointed out, although Merlin noticed his lover did not forbid his idea.

"So could you," Merlin replied, since it was true. "I think if they know it will actually make this easier for them to accept. Neither of them will betray us."

"Not deliberately," Arthur agreed with a nod, "but the more who know, the greater the danger something will be given away accidentally."

That was a possibility he had considered.

"I know," he replied, eyes wandering back to the spider's web with all its complexity, "but I think the risk is worth the gain."

When he looked back at Arthur, his friend appeared thoughtful.

"It is your secret to give, Merlin," Arthur finally said. "If it is what you wish I will not stop you."

Merlin nodded; it was what he wanted.

"You hate lying don't you?" Arthur broke the silence which fell after they had agreed.

The women were due any moment so there was no point in trying to do anything but wait.

"I've had to do it since I was very small," Merlin admitted with a small frown, "but I never get used to it. I always wished for a place I could just be me."

"I think we all wish for that," Arthur replied and Merlin gave his friend a small smile.

They were both trapped by what they were supposed to be. Merlin walked over to where Arthur was sitting and ran his fingers over the base of Arthur's neck, watching the tension fade away as he did. He had been amazed at what a simple touch could do and he had to wonder if it was because no one had ever really touched Arthur like that until him. Outside their safe places, he, a mere servant, would never be allowed to touch the prince with such familiarity even if the prince chose to touch him, but away from prying eyes they were just Arthur and Merlin and he let himself indulge.

Only when there was a knock at the door did he take his hand back.

"Come in," Arthur called and Merlin stepped away just a little, in case it was someone other than Morgana or Gwen.

He relaxed a little when first Morgana entered and then Gwen, looking a little nervous. As Morgana walked over to Arthur, he walked over to Gwen and took her hands.

"Sorry to have worried you so much," he said, and he really meant it.

The last thing in the world he wanted to do was upset Gwen; she was such a sweet person.

"You're really alright?" Gwen asked, searching his face with her eyes.

He nodded and gave her his patented, everything is great with the world, grin.

"Better than alright," he promised faithfully.

Then he led her into the room and offered her a chair, which she took with some reluctance, since they were in Arthur's chambers and servants didn't usually sit down, especially when their masters were still standing up. Morgana soon moved away from where she had been speaking quietly to Arthur and sat down next to her maidservant, so Merlin went back to Arthur's side. Arthur sat down, but Merlin preferred to stay close, rather than take the final chair and placed his hand back where it had been before the women had knocked. He hoped Gwen could see what he was trying to say.

"You must have questions," Arthur began, his princely persona as suppressed as Merlin had ever seen it in company.

Merlin was all too aware that one word from Arthur and Gwen could just quietly disappear, but unlike his father, Merlin also knew that Arthur was not that sort of person. The fact that Arthur was concerned about Gwen's acceptance made him realise just how much Arthur had changed since he first met him.

"We are not masters and servants here, Gwen," Arthur continued when Gwen looked nervously at Morgana; "we are friends. If we were still playing by those rules I would most certainly be dead by now."

That seemed to settle Gwen, at least a little.

"How can this be?" Gwen finally asked. "I don't understand."

"The creatures transferred their corruption with their bite," Arthur was not relaxed, Merlin could tell, but his lover did not object to the question. "One of them bit me and I was becoming one of them. I in turn bit Merlin as I was turning, but then magic came to our rescue. It passed through both of us, but it seems it could not remove the whole taint from me. It has left me with certain needs ..."

"That I am more than willing to fulfil," Merlin finished for Arthur and gave his lover a smile when Arthur looked up at him.

Gwen was watching them both very carefully now and Merlin could feel himself being assessed.

"Why?" Gwen asked, very directly.

Sometimes Gwen could be such a mouse and other times her strength of character shone through like a beacon. Merlin just gave her a beaming smile to begin with as the feeling he was still getting used to welled into his chest.

"Because I love him," he said and for once was not remotely embarrassed about saying something so girlie.

Gwen actually smiled at him for that, but then she looked at Arthur and her smile disappeared.

"And?" she asked and Merlin couldn't help grinning as Arthur looked incredibly awkward and blushed a fantastic shade of pink.

There were some things about the upbringing of a prince out of which Arthur still needed to be trained.

"Um," Arthur really seemed incapable of just coming out and saying it, not that Merlin minded; Arthur showed him often enough, "it's mutual."

For a little while Merlin thought Gwen might push for more, which might have been disastrous, but then Gwen smiled and inclined her head.

"Thank you," she said in her usual gentle tone, "now I understand."

Arthur looked so relieved that it made Merlin laugh.

"Men," Morgana said and rolled her eyes, but she seemed more relaxed as well.

All in all things were going remarkably well, but Merlin sobered as he remembered that there was one more thing he needed to do. He used the excuse of walking over to the table and filling a tankard to gather his thoughts about what was to come next.

"There's," Merlin started to say, turning back to the others, but he faltered when all eyes turned to him. "There's something else you should know," he continued after a moment, pulling his courage together.

Magic was such a despised thing in Camelot that it was hard to speak of it, even to those he knew were friends. He found words hard in this case, but he was never one not to act. Holding out his hand, he whispered the words of power that came so naturally to him these days and the small, blue bubble of light appeared and floated up into the room. He watched it for a little while, waiting for his courage to gather again before he dared look at the others.

Arthur smiled at him and stood up as soon as their eyes met and his lover walked over to him as he finally faced Gwen and Morgana. Gwen's eyes were round with shock, but Morgana seemed less surprised.

"You're a sorcerer."

When Morgana spoke it was not a question.

"It was Merlin's magic which killed those creatures," Arthur said, slipping strong arms around his waist and leaning against him from behind, resting a chin on his shoulder, "and Merlin's magic which saved me."

"How did you learn?" Gwen was still shocked and obviously confused.

Merlin leant back into the comfort Arthur was offering in what was an unusual display of affection in front of others. He could not bear it if Gwen hated him for this.

"I didn't," he replied honestly, "I only learned to control it. I was born this way."

Morgana was watching him closely and he could see the wheels turning behind her eyes.

"Good god," she said finally, "the whole place is blind."

That made Merlin smile a little; he did sometimes wonder how the whole of Camelot hadn't noticed what he could do.

"But, Morgana, a sorcerer would be an idiot to work in King Uther's court, let alone for the prince," Arthur said in a way that made Merlin laugh out loud.

"Okay," he said, looking at Arthur out of the corner of his eye and doing his best to appear unimpressed, "I get it, I'm an idiot."

"But an idiot I'm rather fond of," Arthur replied and Merlin found himself blushing.

When he glanced back at Morgana and Gwen, the pair had just finished exchanging glances and he was pretty sure Arthur would not like what the women appeared to be thinking about them. It wouldn't do to call Arthur anything but macho to his face. Then he saw Morgana's expression become serious again and he was almost sure he knew what was coming.

"You have shared things with us," Morgana said, looking into the fireplace as if she was not entirely sure about what she was doing, "and I feel I must share something with you."

Arthur stilled behind him as if he too knew something big was coming.

"I think I have the Seer's gift; I have dreams," she said quietly, "dreams that sometimes come true."

Merlin did his best to appear surprised; he did not want anyone knowing that he already knew this secret.

"Gaius is the only one who knows anything about it and he keeps telling me it is not so, but I have long since come to believe he wishes to protect me from myself," Morgana seemed almost embarrassed by the confession. "I have seen too much to believe in coincidences anymore."

It was almost a relief to hear Morgana say that, because it meant that now Merlin had one less secret to keep. That she recognised what Gaius did for her was a blessing in itself.

"That must be hard," Merlin found himself talking before he thought about it; "knowing things and not being able to do anything about it?"

Morgana smiled at him for that.

"No harder than having to hide what a gift you are to this kingdom, Merlin," she replied and Merlin found himself blushing again when he realised she was not just teasing him.

He really didn't know what to say at all.

"Keep telling him things like that and we'll have to de-swell his head," Arthur saved him by making a joke of it.

"I think, Arthur," Morgana said, giving Arthur a very amused look, "you're confusing Merlin with yourself."

That made Merlin snort with laughter.

"See if I come to your rescue again," Arthur whispered in his ear and made him laugh even harder.

====

If Arthur called for wine one more time and felt up his arse, making him spill it, the whole court was going to see one manservant belt the crown prince good and proper. The look in Arthur's eyes alone had had him half hard all night and the inappropriate groping was really not helping him at all. How the hell was he supposed to concentrate on anything when all he wanted was to rip Arthur's clothes off and demand Arthur pay up on what Arthur's gaze had been promising all evening?

Walking over to a quiet corner in the stairwell, far enough from Arthur to be virtually invisible, but close enough in case he was needed, he decided to give himself a chance to calm down before he did something embarrassing. Uther had been shooting glares at him all night from the moment the king had noticed Arthur feeling him up and he just needed a little time away from both Pendragons to gather himself.

It was as he was standing in his quiet spot being ignored by everyone and he heard Arthur laughing (which of course did nothing for the whole calming down bit of the exercise) that an idea popped into his head. The idea made him smile and he got a funny look from one passing servant, so he decided that maybe he looked a bit demonic. Sliding deeper into the alcove he had found, he leant back and closed his eyes; it was time to get his own back.

As long as they were not in skin to skin contact, his magic did not bleed into Arthur, but that didn't mean Arthur was out of reach. Concentrating, he let his magic flow, finding Arthur easily and making it tangible the moment he did. He could see Arthur in his mind with no problem at all, in fact he had a perfect image of Arthur in his head and he sent his magic under the clothes of that image and downwards.

There was a thud of something metal hitting the wooden table and then the sound of someone coughing.

"Arthur, are you alright?" he heard Morgana ask.

"Fine, fine, thank you," Arthur replied, voice just a little tighter than usual. "Clearly I am missing Gaius' care already and am trying to choke myself to make up for it."

Merlin just smiled to himself and focused his attack a little more carefully. Thinking of his magic like a hand, he slipped it down into Arthur's underwear and wrapped it around his target and he heard Arthur cough again. This was fun.

"Are you sure you're alright?" Morgana asked, just loud enough so Merlin could hear.

"Absolutely sure," Arthur replied sounding just slightly off. "Have you seen Merlin?"

Merlin's smiled grew; it was nice to know Arthur knew exactly what was going on. Moving his magic very slowly, he began to caress Arthur in just the way he knew drove his lover completely to distraction. For a while there was silence and then he heard a very quiet moan.

"You're looking flushed," Morgana said and Merlin risked opening one eye into a tiny slit so he could see what was going on.

Arthur was kind of slouched in his seat, trying to appear nonchalant and failing and Morgana was looking at him with a very critical eye.

"I'm going to kill him," he heard Arthur say.

Morgana looked very confused by that statement.

"Who?" she asked and Merlin did his very best not to laugh.

"Merlin," Arthur all but hissed as he continued his assault.

It was then that Morgana smiled and relaxed, clearly Morgana did not choose to worry about anything when it came to him and Arthur.

"Oh," Morgana said and went back to speaking to the person on her other side.

Merlin almost did laugh then, but held it in check and closed his eyes again, torturing Arthur for just a little longer. It wouldn't do to have the crown prince make too much of a spectacle of himself, especially when Merlin was pretty sure he'd be blamed for it by Uther even if there was no normal way it could have been his fault, so after another minute or so he finally relented. He opened his eyes just in time to see Arthur looking kind of relieved and kind of disappointed, so he decided it was time to come out of hiding.

"Is everything alright, Sire?" he asked, playing the good servant and Arthur half glared at him and half looked desperate.

He had definitely accomplished his mission; now Arthur knew how he had been feeling all evening.

"No," Arthur said in a tight voice, "I think my incapacitation has left me unused to strong wine. I have a headache; I wish to go back to my room, make sure it is ready."

Merlin gave a small bow and walked towards the corridor while Arthur made whatever excuses were needed. He did not go straight to Arthur's room, since he knew it was quite prepared for habitation, but he did move a little further along and around a corner before he stopped and waited for Arthur.

He began to count in his head and then he heard hurried footsteps and a rather flustered looking Arthur charged around the corner.

"You are going to pay for that," Arthur all but growled at him and then pushed him against the wall.

"I do hope so," Merlin managed to reply before Arthur covered his mouth with a bruising kiss.

He had been dying for that all evening and he might have started ripping Arthur's clothes off there and then if he hadn't had just the faintest memory of where they were. Arthur probably wouldn't get into that much trouble if someone spotted them, but he was pretty sure he'd end up in the stocks, again. However, it was Arthur who pulled away, very reluctantly and looked back down the corridor. After a moment Merlin heard footsteps that Arthur had to have heard earlier and they turned towards Arthur's room and pretended to be walking.

"Arthur," Uther's voice stopped them in their tracks.

"Yes, Father?" Arthur asked, turning and surreptitiously placing his body between Uther and Merlin.

For his part, Merlin tried to blend into the background.

"Would you like to explain exactly what you think you have been doing this evening?" Uther asked, clearly not overly happy.

"Giving the court something to talk about," Arthur replied without any sign of embarrassment or regret.

"Well that much was obvious," Uther replied and Merlin found himself being glared at.

Arthur placed a hand on his Father's arm and drew him away a little as if in a conspiratorial huddle.

"I have very good reasons, Father," Arthur said quietly, but loud enough so that Merlin could still hear; "I do not make a spectacle of myself lightly."

That appeared to calm Uther a little, a fact that made Merlin very grateful.

"I was attacked by creatures of dark magic, Father," Arthur pointed out, "and I was ill for a long time. It made me reassess how I was living my life and I decided that I needed to relax a little more from time to time. Merlin was willing and we were trying to be discrete, but Morgana brought to my attention that there were rumours about me going around the court, rumours to do with sorcery. You know all too well how rumours can become uncontrollable, so I decided to control them. I think you will agree that rumours of me and my manservant are far preferable to those pertaining to dark sorcery."

"Who would dare suggest ..." Uther began to bluster.

"Father," Arthur placed a soothing hand on the king's shoulder, "people talk, we cannot change that, all we can do is control it. By next week what I choose to do with my manservant will be old news and the rumours of anything darker will have been completely forgotten. I need an outlet, Father, and at the moment, Merlin is it. I know you have dallied in your time, so I am sure you can understand the urges. I would have been discrete, but for a greater need."

Uther still did not look completely happy, but the king did not appear about to explode any more either, which Merlin thought was a very good thing. Finally Uther nodded and Merlin let out the breath he had been holding.

"Just remember where your duty lies," Uther said, seemingly needing to have the last word.

"Of course, Father," Arthur replied in a very serious tone, "that is always my first concern."

That apparently satisfied Uther that his point had been made because the king turned and walked away with one last glare at Merlin. Only when Uther was completely out of sight did Arthur turn around and walk back to Merlin.

"Sometimes," Arthur said with a little shake of his head, "I wonder if my father thinks I am an idiot."

"Well you've always thought I was an idiot," Merlin pointed out with a grin.

Arthur raised an eyebrow at that.

"I still think you're an idiot," Arthur replied in a haughty tone, but then smiled as well. "It's just now you're my idiot."

Merlin accepted the kiss when Arthur leaned in.

"I've always been your idiot," he whispered when Arthur finally pulled back.

The End
Tags: category: slash, ch_story: from darkness comes light, fandom: merlin, fictype: 10-30kwds, fictype: chaptered, pairing: me - merlin/arthur, rating: r to nc17
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