Who Can Touch Unicorn?
Merlin released a longing sigh as he watched the unicorn trot away deeper into the forest. He could hardly begin to describe the sense of utter tranquillity that descended upon him at the sight. It was as though the unicorn was the purest creature he would ever see, and his heart was unwilling to let the moment go.
Beside him, Arthur drew a reverent breath, his eyes transfixed upon the spot where the unicorn had stood only moments before.
"Beautiful." The word was said so quietly, that Merlin almost convinced himself he had not heard it. But he had seen Arthur's lips move, and though he knew the Prince would later deny it, it was clear the young man had been as affected by the presence of the unicorn as he had.
"It's even better when you're close to one." Merlin told him quietly, unwilling to disturb the peaceful silence more than was necessary.
"You managed to get close to it?" Arthur asked, tone rife with surprise and amusement.
Merlin frowned. "You know I did." He responded. "I yelled at you not to shoot moments before you took the shot." A slight wince passed across Arthur's features at the words, and Merlin felt momentarily guilty for resurrecting the memory.
"Oh," Arthur said after a moment's silence. "I thought you were still at the other end of the clearing – I didn't realise it actually let you come near it." Again there was barely disguised laughter in Arthur's voice, and Merlin, for his part, failed to see what was so funny.
"What?" He demanded rather irritably, turning to face the Prince.
Arthur's face was drawn into his customary smirk. "The legends say that only a maiden may approach a unicorn, Merlin." He informed his manservant promptly, offering the other boy a leer as he looked him up and down.
Affronted, Merlin drew himself up to his full height, propping his hands on his hips. "Well obviously the legends are wrong." He said tartly, "I'm not a girl."
"Not that kind of a maiden, Merlin."
Arthur was laughing openly now, spurred on by the look of horror on Merlin's face, and the light blush that was rising in his cheeks.
"Well they – they're wrong." The young warlock protested vehemently, studiously avoiding Arthur's gaze and attempting to dispel the blush from his cheeks. He could still hear Arthur laughing, but he knew there was no malice intended. With a sigh, he turned back and busied himself with finishing the grave for the unicorn's horn.
Arthur knelt beside him, strong hands deftly arranging the rocks into a stable structure that would withstand the harsher winds that occasionally tore through the forest.
After a while, he began speaking again, in a conversational tone that Merlin had learnt to be wary of. "It's nothing to be ashamed of you know." The prince offered casually, ignoring the glare his manservant sent his way. "We can't all be blessed with good looks and gracious charms." He clapped a friendly hand down on the other man's shoulder. "I'm sure there's a woman out there somewhere, who's willing to look past your physical short comings." Merlin brushed the hand irritably from his shoulder, causing Arthur to laugh, and focused on placing the last of the stones at precisely the right angle. He knew for a fact that Arthur had taken many a serving-maid to his bed, during the time Merlin had been in his service, though he had only ever invited the ones who had shown interest first. Arthur was very careful not to make any overtures to woman who had not made their intentions obvious, he did not wish for any woman to feel she must comply simply because he was the prince. He also made it a point to avoid those who had shared a bed with his father.
Apparently oblivious to Merlin's wish to drop the conversation, Arthur continued. "I'm sure if I tried, I could find a woman willing to have you. Not Gwen though, I'm afraid – she's far too virtuous – if you're still in love with her you're just going to have to wait. I'm sure several of the scullery maids however, don't find you all that unattractive." He ran an appraising eye over Merlin's form, and the sorcerer had to fight the urge not to squirm. "After all, you're not completely unfortunate looking."
Merlin blinked owlishly at him and Arthur shifted uncomfortably. "Well," he coughed, "that is to say –" he tailed off, not entirely sure what he had meant to say. Merlin was still looking at him, and Arthur was suddenly struck by the fact that his servant actually looked rather good.
If one were to ignore the slightly obtrusive ears and the obvious lack of courtly manners, Merlin was really quite attractive. His skin was as pale as Morgana's, his eyes just as blue and his hair just as dark. He had high cheekbones and lips that liked to smile, and Arthur knew for a fact that despite appearences, Merlin's clothing most probably hid a liethly tone physique. He had after all, been part of a farming community before coming to Camelot - and hard labour in those villages was a necessity.
The man in question raised his eyebrows slightly, and Arthur realised he had been staring. Abruptly, he pushed to his feet, clearing his throat to hide his discomfort. Muttering something about finding the horses, he strode purposefully away, silently wondering just what it meant that he thought his manservant was good looking.
A/N: Continue or not to continue....you decide.