Fandom: Merlin (BBC)
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: semi-explicit sex, general spoilers for season 1
Summary: Arthur seems nervous about something and it's beginning to worry Merlin.
Author's Notes: Thanks to Soph for the beta.
Word Count: 2,344
Link: to MMOM 2009 fic links
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Merlin had noticed something strange over the last week or so; Arthur seemed nervous whenever Merlin touched him. The first time Arthur had actually moved away from him he had assumed that Arthur had a wound from practice or something that was bothering him and was doing his usual, not being weak thing. The second time he had thought it was something to do with what was going on in the courtyard below, but now, after the sixth and seventh times, he was getting worried.
Most of the time Arthur seemed perfectly normal, but when they were alone together and Merlin was helping Arthur dress, Arthur seemed anxious. It was almost as if Arthur was a little bit afraid of him and there was only one reason Merlin could think that that might be.
"Did you want me on the big hunt tomorrow?" Merlin decided to try casual conversation as he started to help Arthur out of his day clothes and into those for the feast that evening.
There were visiting dignitaries staying from some kingdom or other and so there was feasting every night and entertainment most days. The next day there was a big showy hunt; the kind that, as Merlin had found out, Arthur hated. Once when slightly drunk, Arthur had waxed lyrical about how there was no sport in sending twenty squires into a wood to flush out anything alive inside so idiots could take pot shots at it with badly made bows.
"It's a picnic, not a hunt," Arthur said in a short tone, "you can stay with the women and keep out of the way, but you can't get out of it completely. The Lady Naomi seems to be taken with you anyway."
The Lady Naomi was a lovely young woman with long black hair and very pale skin, a bit like Merlin really, but she wasn't overly bright. She had seemed terrified when first brought into court and Merlin had found her crying in the stables the next day. The poor girl was terrified her father was going to marry her off to Arthur who some idiot had told her would do terrible things to her. Someone had failed to give the poor girl any real knowledge of what being married was like from a social or a personal prospective. The reason she liked Merlin is that he had talked to her and told her what a nice man Arthur was and that she didn't have anything to be afraid of. After that she had been a changed woman.
"Naomi is very sweet," Merlin agreed, kneeling down to get at Arthur's boots, "and she's finally not terrified of you, which took some doing. She'd make a terrible queen though."
"Have an eye on her yourself?" Arthur asked in a very acid tone, even as he shifted back a little.
Arthur really was acting very strangely, one minute nervous, the next seemingly annoyed.
"Are you feeling alright?" Merlin finally asked, kneeling there and looking up at his prince.
There was a slight flush to Arthur's cheeks and something was definitely off.
"I'm fine," Arthur snapped and turned away, "just get out, I can dress myself."
Merlin doubted that; the outfit he had laid out for the evening's feast had some complicated ties on it. Adding that together with the fact that he was very unbalanced by the way Arthur was acting, he decided that he would rather know the truth.
"Have I done something?" he asked after a moment. "You've been acting strangely for days and that was before Naomi and her father arrived."
The way Arthur's shoulder's tightened at Naomi's name was odd to say the least. At least Arthur half turned and looked at him when he asked that and for a moment he thought Arthur would actually tell him what was wrong, however, then Arthur sighed and shook his head.
"You have done nothing," Arthur said in a slightly mournful kind of voice, "there is nothing wrong. The negotiations are tiresome and I am in a bad humour."
Merlin plain didn't believe that for a second.
"Rubbish," he said, deciding that plain speaking was the only way to go, "this has nothing to do with negotiations."
He stood up and stepped towards Arthur, only to see his friend go to shift away. Arthur never, ever backed down from anything, so to see Arthur move away from him terrified him.
"If you don't tell me what's wrong," he said desperately, "I can't help."
He'd rather deal with another Sophia than this and she'd almost killed both of them.
"In this, Merlin," Arthur said, all but glaring at him, "you are the cause, not the cure."
That stopped him in place as he went cold all over; Arthur had to know, that was the only explanation. Somehow Arthur had to have found out about his magic and his friend was afraid of him.
"Tell me the truth, Arthur," he said, speaking not as servant to prince but as friend to friend, "why are you afraid of me?"
"I am not afraid," Arthur snapped back instantly, but Merlin just stood there.
Something was not right and he needed to know if he could fix it.
Arthur looked away and they might have stayed that way for a long time, except Arthur made a very small move, one that caught Merlin's attention. Arthur's shifted his stance, as if slightly uncomfortable and unconsciously put his hand down and rearranged himself. It was not an uncommon gesture among men, but it drew Merlin's attention to something he had not paid a mind to before; Arthur was hard. That was definitely not a fear response and the thought set off a cascade of memory in his mind.
Merlin was well aware that the male body was unpredictable when it came to such things; he had lived through his teenage years after all and it wasn't as if he hadn't undressed and dressed Arthur and seen Arthur react from time to time. It just happened and he had realised it was part of his job to ignore such things, but Arthur's behaviour began to add up. At every occasion when he had observed Arthur reacting strangely, Arthur had been hard; not one or twice, but every time; every time Merlin had been touching him.
"Oh," he said as a bell started ringing in his head.
The way Arthur's head snapped round at that almost looked like it hurt and he stared into his prince's eyes. He really was at a loss as to what to say.
"Just go, Merlin," Arthur said, back to the short, clipped tone even though they both knew that they were both aware of what was really going on.
"No," he replied and watched Arthur's features crease with annoyance.
He knew that the next words out of Arthur's mouth would be harsh and unnecessary so he stepped towards Arthur before Arthur could say them. Arthur in turn stepped back, looking worried. Merlin wasn't used to having the upper hand when it came to Arthur, but he used it to stop Arthur chasing him away.
"Do not read anything into this, Merlin," Arthur said, trying to sound confident and completely failing, "just because I seemed to have a reaction to you does not mean this is something..."
"If it was nothing," Merlin said, refusing to let Arthur get away with that, "then you would not look so worried and you would not back away from me. Why are you so anxious about this?"
He really didn't understand. They had saved each other's lives so many times; they were friends when they were only supposed to be master and servant and yet now Arthur could not speak to him.
"It is improper," Arthur said, refusing to look at him.
Merlin didn't understand that.
"How can that be improper?" he asked feeling mystified. "It's not as if you can help it."
Arthur did finally look at him then, clearly trying to assess him.
"You are my servant, Merlin," Arthur said in a tight voice and Merlin almost decided he had heard enough, since he was fed up of the whole noble and servant thing. "If you thought I wanted ... and ... it would be an abuse of our relationship. I would ... could never ... force ..."
The light dawned in Merlin's head as to what Arthur was trying to say. This wasn't about the fact Arthur did not want to consort with a servant, it was about Arthur thinking Merlin might let him because he thought it was his duty. Merlin couldn't help it, he laughed.
At that Arthur looked affronted.
"This is no laughing matter, Merlin," Arthur told him.
"And you call me an idiot," was all he replied and shook his head.
Arthur didn't seem to know what to say to that, so just stood there appearing offended.
"Arthur," Merlin said, sobering and looking into his friend's eyes, "answer me one thing truthfully; do you want me?"
For a moment Arthur did not do or say anything, but finally the crown prince nodded.
"Completely, all the time," was the totally honest response. "But I would never..."
"Shut up," Merlin said and closed the distance between them.
For once in their bizarre relationship Merlin realised he had all the power and he used it. As Arthur looked at him with panicked eyes, he took Arthur's face in both hands and kissed his prince with everything he had. He had wanted Arthur for almost as long as he had known him, but it was something he kept locked away deep in his heart so it couldn't get out and wreck the friendship they had. Arthur had always been unreachable and so he had not allowed himself to want, but now he let it out into that kiss.
"We'll see about completely later, when we have time," he said feeling breathless and giddy, "but for now, let me help you with that, Sire."
He stressed the last word, making it sound far dirtier than it should have and very efficiently finished unlacing Arthur's breeches. Arthur just kind of gasped and grabbed for the bed post to stop from falling over as Merlin went straight for what he wanted. As it turned out Arthur wasn't just a little hard, Arthur was so hard that Merlin's fingers found slick wetness as they moved over the head of Arthur's shaft. Clearly Arthur was in some need and Merlin was very happy to oblige.
"Merlin," Arthur's voice was tight with arousal, "you don't..."
It appeared Arthur was being thick headed, but Merlin silenced him with one look.
"I love you, you great idiot," he said, since he was pretty sure Arthur wasn't going to understand anything else; "I want this as much as you do."
The look of shock on Arthur's face was priceless, however, Merlin soon discovered that he had effectively removed his advantage. Suddenly Arthur's hands were on him, hard and demanding and he was being kissed and they were falling onto the bed because they were so busy with each other. It was almost a battle as to who could get to the most skin first and Merlin kind of lost track pretty quickly.
Finally getting what you want was a very heady experience, but Merlin managed to hold on to his one thought of making Arthur lose control as Arthur tried to do the same for him. His hands might not have been overly good with the swords Arthur and the knights habitually played with, but he was doing rather well with another type, metaphorically speaking.
Their encounter was not about slow exploration; it was all hot, fiery passion as they both let out what they had been hiding and Merlin wasn't overly surprised that it didn't last long. Arthur came first, moaning his name which, along with the other stimulation Arthur had been giving him, was more than enough to push him over the edge as well. It blew away what few thoughts he had left and they just lay there in a tangle of limbs for quite some time.
"Are you planning on keeping that or can I have it back for now?" Arthur asked in a very dry tone after a little while.
It was only then that he realised that although it was now soft, he was still holding Arthur's cock.
"Well I thought I might keep it," he said, feeling bold and mellow; "to keep you out of trouble."
Arthur tried to look stern about that, but was clearly amused. The anxiety he had seen in his prince over the last couple of weeks was gone and Merlin found himself smiling in what he suspected was rather an idiotic way. That it had all been about him kind of amazed him and that he had been able to fix it made him so happy he thought he might burst. There was, of course, one thing that still hung between them.
"After the feast we need to have a really long talk," he decided, carefully releasing his hold on Arthur, "there are some things I need to explain."
Then he moved because they still had a feast to attend and if Arthur was late it was him that would end up in the stocks.
"Merlin," Arthur said, staying on the bed and not bothering to move, "I do know all about the birds and the bees; Gaius gave me the instruction when I was twelve, both versions."
That thought kind of made Merlin cringe.
"Please, never mention Gaius and sex in the same sentence again," he said, making a face.
Of course he knew it was a mistake as soon as he said it and he momentarily considered trying to make himself deaf, but decided that finding something to clean up with would be better. At least he knew Arthur wasn't suddenly going to be un-Arthur like, because when things like that happened they upset his world, and Merlin liked his world just the way it was.