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Merlin likes to make Arthur jealous. He likes seeing Arthur's eyes go dark and heated as he takes in the sight of Merlin flirting with whoever he's chosen for the purpose. He likes it when Arthur grabs him by the wrist and drags him up to his room, throwing a murderous glare over his shoulder at the poor, cowering boy who has no idea what's going on. He likes feeling Arthur slam him up against the wall, strong thigh spreading his legs wide, hand grasping him by the hair and pulling.

Arthur is a force of nature in the throes of his fury, beautiful and angry and wild. He rends Merlin's shirt apart and leaves bites over every inch of him he can reach. Merlin is never more reminded of Arthur's strength and power than when Arthur has him spread wide and face down on the bed, hands clenching his hips and yanking him forward with every thrust he makes. Merlin turns his head to the side and gasps and whines onto folded arms, need coursing through his body.

Arthur will not let him finish until his voice is cracked and hoarse from pleading. Arthur holds him on the edge of completion, halting in the depths of his body to pull Merlin impossibly closer and ask in a voice guttural with pleasure, "Do you imagine anyone else could give you this?" And Merlin, knowing he is dancing with fire and loving every moment of it, tilts his head back and refuses to answer.

Arthur closes his fist over Merlin, twisting once, twice, and then stops. Merlin chokes back a cry. "Answer me, Merlin," Arthur orders, and his voice is dangerous and low. He rocks his hips forward, fingers tightening, tightening on Merlin's hips until Merlin drops his head in unmistakable submission and breathes out, "No. Only you, sire."

Merlin can feel Arthur's teeth bared in the crook of his neck before he bites down savagely.

"Only me," Arthur repeats, and then pulls out and slams back in, and Merlin yells out and finally loses himself over the edge.

When he drifts back, he finds himself tucked into Arthur's side, warmth and stickiness spread over his stomach and thighs. He wriggles slightly to feel the ache deep inside him, and pulls the sheets down.

There, curved over and around his hips are bruises, bruises from Arthur's hands, marks of passion and possession, and Merlin runs his fingers over them in satisfaction. He is Arthur's, and the proof is written on his body.

When he looks up he sees Arthur watching him with a banked heat in his eyes, alongside gentle amusement, because Arthur is no fool.

"You needn't do that, you know," he says quietly, reaching over to trace the bruises he left. Merlin shivers. "You just have to ask."

Merlin says nothing. Arthur may know that Merlin tries to make him jealous so he will leave marks all over his body, but he doesn't know why.

But what Merlin knows is that Arthur is his prince even before he is his lover, and so he knows that this happiness can be his for only so long. He tries, with his flirting, to make Arthur feel a little bit of what Merlin feels, knowing that he has to share Arthur with his kingdom and one day his bride.

He feels a hand tip his chin up and his gaze is met with eyes that have a surprising understanding in them.

"I can't promise you it will only ever be you in my bed," Arthur says directly, with sadness on his face, and Merlin tries to look away. "But I can promise you that you will be the only one that means something."

He draws Merlin into his chest, fingers tangling in his hair, asking "Can you content yourself with my heart?"

And Merlin closes his eyes, feeling bruises on his skin and lips pressed against his forehead, and knows that it is more than enough.