It started with Gwen. Merlin was distracted by the warmth of the prince's room compared to the chilly halls, so he initially didn't notice Gwen balancing on a chair near the doorway. He paused for a moment before the fire, then moved to drop Arthur's folded laundry in the chest at the foot of his bed. When he finally turned around, Gwen was sliding the chair back into the table.
"Hello," he said, looking at her askance.
"Hi." She smiled, a cross between giddy and nervous, and started edging towards the door. "I'm just going to..." She motioned towards the door.
It opened before she got there. She bumped into Arthur, giggling slightly as she edged around him. "Pardon me, your majesty." She dropped a quick curtsy and was gone, shutting the door behind her.
They both stared at the door.
"What was that about?"
Merlin shook his head. "I have no idea." His feet carried him over to the table, to the spot where Gwen had been standing. "She was doing something with..." The words trailed off as he looked up.
He was suddenly keenly aware of Arthur's presence next to him. The prince looked at him, then looked up. A clump of mistletoe hung from a bright red ribbon above them, dangling off of one spoke of the chandelier.
A mischievous smile spread across Arthur's face. "Well, it is tradition."
Merlin barely had a second to react before Arthur's hand was behind his head, pulling him closer. In the way of first kisses, theirs was a very strange kiss. Merlin stood frozen, his mind still not quite caught up with what was happening. Arthur pressed on valiantly. His tongue worked its way into Merlin's mouth and that seemed to be the act that sparked life back into Merlin. He made a noise, a tiny squeak that was very, very unmanly, before melting into the kiss. Their second kiss, which followed close on the aftermath of the first, went much better, as did the third.
They were both breathless when Arthur pulled away. He stared at Merlin in incredulity, his mouth working but no words came out. The longer they stood there, the more Merlin wished he could create a pit, right then and there, that would swallow him up and hide his embarrassment.
"I thought you liked Gwen," Arthur said, looking as surprised as Merlin felt.
"What?" It was Merlin's turn to ask. Arthur still stood close to him, his mouth scant inches away. If he leaned forward, they could....
"You. Liking Gwen?"
Merlin shook his head. "No, I never did."
A frown crossed Arthur's face and he shifted on his feet. "Well, why didn't you say so?"
The realization that Arthur seemed to have actually enjoyed the kiss, and more specifically, enjoyed kissing him, was slowly sinking in, leaving Merlin feeling slightly giddy. "I did. Multiple times, in fact."
"Well, you should have..." It was obvious that Arthur was stretching, trying to find some reason how his and Morgana's ignorance was Merlin's fault. "...been more specific."
Merlin just smiled. "I'll keep that in mind. And you, who do you like?"
The kiss was answer enough. Kissing Arthur was slowly becoming familiar, though he had a feeling he would always remember the tentative way Arthur's tongue mingled with his, and the hesitancy as Arthur's hand reached under Merlin's shirt. He knew that Arthur was an old hand at seduction. The tales Arthur told to his friends were far too graphic, far too detailed to be fiction, yet the way Arthur held him showed none of that.
"I would think," Arthur said between kisses, "that was quite obvious." Their hips were pressed together, giving Merlin firm evidence of Arthur's words.
"Then you should know that the feeling is quite mutual." He never imagined he would have the chance to act on that attraction.
Arthur's face was nearly split by his grin.
Boldly, Merlin reached down to unfasten Arthur's belt. He watched the leather hit the floor, the buckle jingling slightly on the stones. The sound seemed to spark something in Arthur. It was as if that one act was the catalyst, sparking them both into action. Clothing fell around the room in a jumbled mess that Merlin knew he would have to clean later.
Arthur pressed him down onto the bed. The sheets beneath him smelled of Arthur, giving Merlin the impression that he was being enveloped by the prince's presence. He didn't mind. Arthur's kisses had trailed away from Merlin's mouth, wandering along his chin and neck, then down across his face. He could feel Arthur's muscles, alternately tensing and releasing beneath his fingers. His hands explored Arthur's shoulders and back, rubbing along Arthur's biceps then moving up to tangle in his hair.
Merlin's hips were parted. He shifted, making room for Arthur between his thighs. Their hips met, erections grinding against each other as Arthur thrust against him. Arthur reached down with one hand to grip Merlin, the callouses on his hand feeling strange against Merlin's erection. Merlin mirrored the action, feeling slightly inadequate as he did so. His fingers were thin and bony but Arthur didn't seem to mind.
"Merlin." Arthur whispered his name softly, bringing his attention back up to Arthur's face which was suddenly much closer than Merlin remembered.
Their noses brushed. Arthur twisted his hand around Merlin, wringing a strangled gasp out of Merlin and causing him to buck up into Arthur's grasp. The gasp was followed by a series of similar noises, swallowed moments later as Arthur's mouth covered his once more. He came minutes later, spilling seed into the prince's hand and feeling, belatedly, quite embarrassed at the impropriety of it. His embarrassment only lasted a moment until Arthur followed suit.
Arthur pulled back, giving Merlin a good view of his bare back as he leaned over Merlin and pulled an old shirt from the floor. He cleaned the spilled seed off of both of them, apparently oblivious to Merlin's sudden hesitancy. The shirt was tossed back to the floor. Arthur flopped onto his back next to Merlin without a word.
Merlin debated what he should be doing. He wasn't exactly used to being tumbled in the prince's bed. Should he leave? There was clothing strewn about the room, and Gaius would, in theory, be expecting him back at some point that night. He started to rise, but an arm around his waist pulled him back to the bed and tight against Arthur's side.
"Where do you think you're going?" Arthur asked with a slight frown.
He considered the answer to that question carefully. "I don't really know."
"The correct answer," Arthur said, with the air of someone imparting great wisdom, "is nowhere."
Merlin shifted. If he was going nowhere, he would at least rather be a bit comfortable. He threw an arm and a leg over Arthur, and let his head fall against Arthur's shoulder. "Is this more like what you meant?"
"Yeah, exactly." There was satisfaction in Arthur's voice.
They stayed like that until sleep claimed them.
Morgana smiled as Gwen entered the room, a mischievous smile on the girl's face. "So, it worked then?"
Gwen's broad smile was answer enough.