Hazelrush, Tinewort, Nettle leaves. Merlin ran through the list in his head and smiled happily. Only Rigitone stems left, and then he could collapse for a few hours and simply not move. With that blissful thought in mind Merlin trampled through the thick tangles of brush towards a tall plant covered in large droopy purple leaves. He snapped the stems and tugged off the leaves, tucking them into a spare jar in case Gaius found use for them. The unusually warm autumn sun fell like liquid along his shoulders and neck and Merlin wondered if he could just lie back on the grass. He abandoned the thought as a more expected autumn breeze brushed past him, sending a chill down his spine and stood to leave, brushing the loose dirt from his knees.
He didn't realise he was being attacked until he was face first in the broken stumps of the Rigitones.
Groaning in confusion and grimacing at the pain lancing up and down his spine and through his shoulders, Merlin stood slowly, hand at the small of his back for support. He turned and narrowed his eyes. Nimueh. She stood there smirking serenely as if it was perfectly normal to be in Camelot's forests, uncaring of the cool September air that blew against her exposed arms. An impossible ball of fire licked and swirled in her palm.
She didn't speak and left no time for Merlin to react further before her hand was raised and Merlin only glimpsed the glowing ball turn from fiery orange to icicle white before he was on his back, clawing at the soil in agony and murmuring nonsense spells. Anything, anything if it could stop her for just a second, he even tried to cast a boot polishing spell in his desperation. Lazily Nimueh lifted her arm and the pain ebbed away slowly. She watched placidly, a self-satisfied smirk upon her face as Merlin gasped for breath. Finally Merlin found the strength to lift his heavy eyelids and saw… nothing. Just black everywhere, no trees, no basket stuffed with Gaius' herbs! …Nothing.
Nimueh's cruel laugh resounded through the glade and he could imagine her flawless ivory mask twisted into the ugly truth of her face, eyes like blackened pebbles and pearl teeth bared in a leer, ready to rip him apart.
"This day has been long in waiting Merlin, you have been an obstacle for too long. Longer than I suspect you even know." Crunch, crunch, crunch, Nimueh was moving closer, dry twigs snapping under her feet but to Merlin they sounded like brittle ancient bones. He shuddered. "Sadly it is not my place to kill you. But that does not stop me from driving you to the release of death. Without your sight how can you help your dear princeling when he next falls into danger?"
Merlin's blood stopped cold in his veins. Arthur. Nimueh was right, Arthur seemed to personally offend ever fey creature in the land, and their mother for good measure. How long could it be before Arthur needed him, what use would he be then?
The icy smooth touch of Nimueh's fingers along his jaw pulled Merlin into reality, he felt her soft breathe – the only sign she was truly human – ghost across his face. His stomach clenched and writhed sickeningly when her hateful lips brushed his own and the moment dragged forever. Her lips were soft as any rose in the royal gardens, but not a drop of warmth. He tried to scream, tried to shout spell after spell at her but now the sounds were missing, the words never left his tongue. She'd stolen his voice.
Palms still holding firmly to his cheeks she spoke, "From now on little wizard, you shall hear his cries, but never answer, you will feel his wounds, but never see the attack. Arthur is not yours."
She left him there, hands clutched in the dirt for some sort of anchor; head spinning and mouth still tasting bitter from her vile kiss. He fell to the side as his body trembled, too drained to even contemplate walking home. Besides, he'd only end up lost now. Aching and sobbing silently Merlin curled in on himself, tucked his knees tight to his chest and pressed his temple close to the moist earth to feel something real and honest.
How long he laid there he never knew. Only the soft hoots of owls and rapidly cooling air told him night had fallen. When the rain fell in gushing torrents he still refused to move, and soon fell into the welcome escape of asleep under the relentless pounding droplets. Hours later he felt something warm pressing against his arm and pulling him up, and a soft sweet voice whispering something he was too tired to hear. Exhausted to the centre of his bones and relieved that he'd been found, Merlin fell back into unconsciousness.
Merlin woke to the sound of hushed voices whispering in what seemed to be a heated argument. The simple noise brought a smile to his face, but the lack of blinding stinging sunlight shining on his eyes quickly wiped it away again as reality pounded into him. He was still broken. Still worthless.
The voices stopped and Merlin wanted to shout for them to continue, just don't leave him in silence but of course he couldn't. Instead he counted the awkward lumps of the mattress which dug into his back and smiled softly when he realised that this was his bed. At least he was home. Home and not kidnapped in his moment of sheer weakness. He wanted to stare through his tiny window like he always did in the evenings, trace the stars and make nonsense shapes in the sky. The mattress lumps would simply have to do.
A warm wrinkled hand pushed his fringe back, the scent of herbs and acrid smoke drifted past his nose, and he knew it was Gaius. Merlin opened his eyes, only to let Gaius know he was conscious, and instantly the physician leapt to attention. The hand tightened and he felt fingers against his forehead to check for fever.
"You gave us all quite the fright there Merlin. Poor Gwen has been insisting I let her in to see you since she got you home. Shall I?" Swallowing past the lump in his throat at the thought of petite Gwen dragging him so far home Merlin nodded and listened intently to the squeak of the door hinges and the soft pad of slippered feet.
Immediately his free hand was snatched up and clutched tight in small warm hands. Gwen babbled a mile a minute until finally she choked on a sob and played mindlessly with the frayed edge of Merlin's worn-blue tunic.
"So… what happened to you Merlin? Do you remember?" It was instinct to open his mouth to reply, and for that it only hurt all the more when the words didn't appear. Merlin shook with the horror of it, he was useless. Useless to let Nimueh get the better of him, useless to dear frightened Gwen, and he would soon be useless to Arthur. As he began to shake more violently and hot tears prickled in the corners of his eyes Gwen wrapped him in her slim arms and hushed him soothingly.
Gaius frowned with concern as he watched Merlin weep quietly into Gwen's shoulder. His eyes seemed glazed, and even when Gwen was but a mere two feet from Merlin he still stared over her shoulder. What was he not telling them?
Shifting slightly where he sat on the bed, Gaius tugged Merlin's hand to gain his attention. Merlin carefully disentangled himself from Gwen and sat back against his pillow. His eyes were fixed on Gaius' ear.
"Merlin, can you see me?" Gaius asked in a voice forced to be calm. Merlin's jaw clenched and he shook his head softly, no more then necessary, and squeezed Gaius' hand tightly. Somewhere close to the window Gwen gasped. Steeling himself for his next question, Gaius was already pouring through his brain for some potion or tincture to make this right.
"Can you speak?" Wracked with silent sobs Merlin shook his head fiercely, messy curls turning wild and eyes clamped shut. The room went silent. Gaius waited patiently for Merlin's shoulders to still before he leaned close and quietly assured him he would fix this. A watery smile thanked him.
If patience was a virtue then Arthur didn't much care to be virtuous. He'd been left waiting for his manservant all night and had finally forgone his bath and fell asleep with the comforting thought of throwing Merlin in the stock the next day.
But morning dawned, chilly without a servant to light the fire ready for waking, and he was still pacing his floors waiting on Merlin. No breakfast tray from the kitchens, no clothes lain out on the table, a simple lack of Merlin. It was a brand new level of ineptitude and Arthur would not stand for it.
So now he was storming through corridors with enough force to make torch-flames quiver in their brackets, and shrugging off the concerned looks and far-from-subtle whispers of busy-body servants. His mind ran rampant with ideas to berate Merlin in a way befitting this staggering feat of incompetence as he impatiently threw open the physician's door to crash against the stone wall. Gaius, elbow deep in something glutinous and far too green, started at the slam of the door, but his worried eyes calmed at the sight of Arthur.
"Ah, sire," He began, returning most of his attentions to mixing the green substance with an unpleasant squelching sound accompanying the movements of his hands, "I assume you're looking for Merlin? He's in his room, you can go on up. But do try not to shout, his hearing is a tad tender at the moment."
Arthur faltered. Something was distinctly off kilter about this, surely Gaius would be telling him to calm down, or sharing a knowing comment on Merlin's laziness? Not one to let his own confusion be apparent to others Arthur just nodded politely and thanked Gaius for the help and climbed the creaky stairs to Merlin's room. In front of the small splintered door Arthur took a moment to regain his bluster. Gaius' odd behaviour would not dampen his annoyance at Merlin's lack of decent servitude (even by Merlin's standards). Suitably outraged once more Arthur thrust the door open briskly, glare on his face and a cruel comment on the edge of his lips.
Merlin was there just as Gaius had promised, but Arthur had never at any point expected this. Goofy, never-frown Merlin was clinging to his flimsy pillow, gangly legs drawn up close to his thin chest and crying silently, fat salty tears seeping into the fabric looking as pitiful as a kicked puppy. Arthur cleared his throat and Merlin mouthed a swear, angrily wiped his eyes clean on his already damp sleeve and turned to stare at Arthur's armpit.
All thoughts of shouting and stocks far away now Arthur moved to sit on a rickety spindle-legged wooden chair beside Merlin's bed. He felt the sickly sense of dread rise in his gut when Merlin's gaze never found his face. He'd seen this too many times in battle. Men blinded by fire or potion or magic. It ruined lives, Merlin couldn't be blind. Bad things weren't supposed to happen to Merlin.
"Merlin?" Merlin didn't reply, but his shaking hand reached out to grab at the air near Arthur's ear. Deftly Arthur grabbed the hand and absently rubbed Merlin's long fingers, felt them quake gently in his own larger hand.
"How did this happen?" Merlin's expression became pained then, his mouth forming every shape imaginable but not a sound escaped. Eventually a frustrated flush stained his cheeks a deep pink that spread up along his ears and Arthur placed his free hand on his shoulder.
"Calm down Merlin. I won't make you tell me. I'm not a monster you know; I know that this must be hard. Take your time." Far from comforting Merlin he only seemed to grow more irate and thrust a hand through his messy knotted hair, leaving it to pull slightly on an oversized ear.
Gaius entered the room, green mixture in hand, face solemn. "I'm afraid to say sire that Merlin can't tell you even if he'd like to. He's been unable to see or speak since young Gwen found him in the forest this morning while she was picking flowers for the Lady Morgana."
And wasn't that just the final sucker punch to this horrible sham of a morning. Arthur watched numb, completely detached from the world, as Gaius gently encouraged the cup of foul slimy something into Merlin's pale hand and down his throat. It came as a surprise to no one when Merlin's voice still failed him.
And then it was too much. Merlin was more innocent than a baby unicorn yet there he was, so damaged and frail and Arthur couldn't stand to watch. Standing quickly Arthur left without a word and almost collided with Gwen as she walked through the door with a long wooden cane in hand. Too much.
Now Arthur wandered through the castle hallways without purpose, vaguely ambling up to the battlements without paying attention to his feet. The cool autumn air was a blessing and he breathed deeply, closed his eyes for a moment's peace and wondered if this uninterrupted black was what Merlin saw now. He pressed his back to the wall, slid his hands over the stonework to feel the cracks and moss and weather-smoothed bricks that made up the castle.
It'll be fine. Gaius will cure him and he can go back to losing my socks and not paying attention to what I say. It'll be fine.
Denial really was a wondrous thing.
For a full five days Arthur avoided Merlin like the plague. He woke early and dressed himself, sent the stable-hands to tend his horses and the smithies to polish his armour. He even braved breakfast with his father (not a feat to be spoken of lightly) so Merlin wouldn't shuffle upstairs with a tray balanced on one hand, cane clutched tightly in the other.
But even then he still caught Merlin in the corner of his eye, carefully tapping his way through the halls in the evenings, always blushing and mouthing apologies when his cane smacked into a passing servants leg, or walking through the fields near the forests with Gwen holding his arm to smell the flowers they would pick for Morgana.
Now Arthur sat in his rooms staring into the empty fireplace, brooding quietly as his eyes traced the burnt sooty stains at the back of the chimney wall. He could finally find solace in his rooms for a few hours while Gaius subjected Merlin to test upon test in the hope of curing him. Soon though he would be forced to skulk about again, hide in the orchards or the grain stores lest he have to face Merlin's innocent sightless gaze.
But no, it appeared peace and solitude were not his to be had. Morgana crashed into his rooms without even a cursory knock or the barest of greetings. Her face was pure thunder and her eyes clouded with barely concealed loathing. Smack! Arthur's head span to the left as Morgana's small hand snapped against his cheek sharply, leaving a prickling sting and a glowing red imprint on his skin.
For a moment he sputtered, wide-eyed and too stunned to speak. As his senses collected he turned to shout and yell and curse at Morgana; how dare she! But then there were her eyes, icy blue slits that made his skin wriggle and burn with the accusation, the disgust, he found in them. Arthur felt all of four years old, and many feet shorter, as Morgana leaned close to his face with her chin tilted defiantly. Daring him to stop her tirade. He didn't.
"You will go to Merlin right now and beg his forgiveness for being the insufferable bastard you are." She didn't shout or raise her voice, or even sound angry. In that moment her voice was pure silk, smooth and gentle but ready to wrap about his throat and cinch in tight if he did not listen.
Slowly, with every drop of her usual grace intact, Morgana swept through the door leaving Arthur pressed back into his carved wooden chair still reeling. The guilt crept in like tentacles along his skin and pulled at him until his feet were out of the door and leading him at haste along the corridors.
It was only fitting that Merlin would become invisible now Arthur was so desperate to find him.
Arthur tried everywhere he could think of; in the physician's quarters Gaius said Merlin had been out in the market with Gwen, in the market none of the vender's had seen either Gwen or Merlin, the guards at the gates to Camelot proper informed him only a handful of farmers and traders had passed through that day, and when he bottled his pride and asked Morgana she only looked as confused as he felt.
Arthur was desolate on the traipse back to his rooms and his hair was tousled and soaked from frantic hands carding through the strands over and over and the pouring rain. He even found a pale pink blossom, crushed just slightly on a single petal, from the wild flowers fields he had scoured through. Mindlessly he twirled the delicate flower between his fingers and shouldered open his door, eyes downcast and immediately caught sight of scruffy pair of thoroughly worn and muddied brown leather boots. His head snapped up quick enough to twinge and yes, there was Merlin sat in Arthur's fur lined chair close to the fire, long legs crossed beneath him and leaning on the chair-arms, head tilted to the door listening closely.
Sparing only a fleeting thought for the poor sod that'd be cleaning his mess Arthur tossed his sodden leather jacket on to the floor and dashed across the room leaving a muddy trail of dripping water and dirt. So close to Merlin he forced himself not to flinch at the eyes that didn't find him. They looked just as Arthur remembered, the colour of stormy skies, filled with little lights that twinkled and flashed like lightning. He didn't have the right to wince, not after ignoring Merlin like the selfish bastard he was in his time of need.
Almost reverently Arthur knelt at the base of the chair and softly tugged Merlin's pale hand into his own larger one. Merlin cringed for half a second and Arthur was horrified to think he had screwed up his apology so early. Calmly Merlin gave him a small smile and reached for Arthur's hand again, softly rubbing it with both of his own when it was offered and Arthur wanted to laugh at himself. His hand was cold.
And then he was laughing, great hysterical chuckles that shook his entire frame. The pent up emotion of the entire event bubbled from his throat and tore tears from his eyes. The blazing heat of the fire was drying Arthur's soaked body and as the laughter turned to full-on sobs Merlin tangled his fingers into the soft curls at the back of his neck.
"M'sorry," Arthur murmured into Merlin's knee, shivering with guilt and the contrast of his too-hot fire warmed back and the still sopping cold of his front, "I couldn't- I shouldn't have- and you needed… M'sorry Merlin." The rough cloth under Arthur's face flexed and shifted, and he pulled back to let Merlin unfold his legs and slide to the floor beside him. Mouthing something Arthur didn't catch Merlin wrapped his arms sloppily around Arthur's neck and pressed himself tight to Arthur's chest. Merlin didn't seem to care about the icy water soaking through his tunic and despite his awkwardness Arthur returned the tight embrace with fervour. It was hard not to ask what this most intimate gesture meant but now wasn't the time; Arthur could feel Merlin's hands clenched in the back of his shirt. He was still hurting.
So for hours they sat, twined together on the floor in a mess of limbs to the sound of the crackling fire and Arthur's deep rumble talking about the most mundane of things. Merlin mouthed words against Arthur's shoulder while the prince blushed crimson and concentrated on every movement.
For just a short moment in time, the world felt right again.
Waking was uncomfortable to say the least. The pallid early morning light filtered through the gaps in the thick blood red velvet curtains and drained the room of colour. Arthur was the first to blink his way to consciousness, and rolled his neck against the stubborn crick he felt. Half beneath him Merlin looked wonderfully rumpled, tousled hair and rosy cheeks giving him enough adorable charm to rival any toddler. Not that Arthur notice of course. That would be ridiculous. Arthur pushed up onto his feet quickly, flustered and confused, and busied himself by stoking the embers back to a small flame.
Only minutes after Arthur threw a log to the fireplace Merlin woke with a pinched frown and yawned soundlessly with a great feline stretch. His hands groped the air until Arthur pulled him up to standing and Merlin ambled to the table, hands spread out to steady himself but clearly calling mostly upon his memory. And the tension knotted in the pit of Arthur's gut, the confusion racing through his thoughts, it all vanished when Merlin bashed his knee against a table leg and mouthed violently so even Arthur knew that he was swearing a streak any sailor would blush at. But the frown remained and Arthur resolved to wipe it away.
Maybe he could take Merlin to the flower fields like Gwen had? He'd enjoyed that. The thought of himself leading Merlin, cane clutched in hand, through a meadow of blooms, tying blossoms and tiny flowers into each others hair made Arthur want to laugh raucously or perhaps vomit. No, that wouldn't work.
So Arthur put his faith in his feet and grabbed Merlin's elbow without tentativeness and steered him out of the room, grabbing a thick woollen cloak as he passed the hanging rack by the door.
Arthur guided Merlin up staircases and along hallways, only seen by the early rising servants who all called out softly to Merlin in greeting and bowed their heads to Arthur. It was difficult to slow down, keep to Merlin's cautious pace and was hindered in no small way by Merlin's constant twisting and turning to glance vaguely in the direction of every friendly hello to meet his hears. But finally they were stood by a small wooden door, where Arthur had only decided to go to on a whim. Tenderly but just slightly stiff with the oddness of it all Arthur draped the blue cloak over Merlin's shoulders and fastened the clasp. He smiled shakily, awkward once more, and for a second he forgot Merlin was blind because he was smiling back.
Shaking the thought away Arthur toed the door open and helped Merlin through the small gap into the crisp air. A shiver rolled down Merlin's spine and he clutched the soft blue cloak tight around himself but the enormous grin couldn't be mistaken.
Eagerly Merlin hurried forward and Arthur had to snatch at his waist to stop him from toppling over the battlements. Merlin shook against Arthur's grip with silenced giggles and clutched happily at the hand on his abdomen. It was odd for Arthur to watch as Merlin titled his head up to listen to the bustling markets and feel the cool breeze and speckles of rain against his cheeks. Then he grinned wide and twisted around to nuzzle Arthur's neck and inhale deep. Arthur barked a laugh and squirmed at the tickling sensation.
"Silly bugger." Arthur muttered, pulling Merlin closer and praying Morgana would never know of this moment. The rush of novelty slowly wore away and Arthur watched closely as the frown reappeared on Merlin's (absolutely not at all kissable) lips. He wanted to know what was wrong, wanted to help, but that was no simple matter now. The voices continued to lilt up towards them and Arthur decided his voice alone would be more than enough to occupy Merlin for the day; he'd need some privacy to work out what was wrong.
"Merlin, would you like to go for a walk?" Merlin quirked a brow but nodded and made a gesture at his hand then started tapping at the battlements. Guessing that this translated to 'cane' Arthur told him they'd fetch it on their way out and led Merlin back through the castle, stopping at Gaius' quarters and then the stables when Merlin sheepishly remembered he'd left his cane there while grooming one of the mares. Arthur took it all in stride, teased Merlin good-naturedly as he handed the cane to him and beamed at the ever-so mature raspberry Merlin replied with.
Together they rambled through the Camelot Forest and when the rain started trickling through the thick canopy of leaves Arthur yanked the hood of Merlin's cloak low over his eyes until just the surprised 'o' of his lips was visible. It was too tempting to tell himself no.
Softly Arthur tugged a pouting Merlin closer and traced his bottom lip nervously with his thumb, his touch so light it almost tickled. He shouldn't do this, not when Merlin was so vulnerable, but it was so close! One kiss couldn't hurt right? Slipping his hand up to Merlin's cheek Arthur stroked lightly against the smooth rain spotted skin and began to lean in. He licked his own lips out of nerves and shuffled his feet a little. Just a little closer…
Merlin felt Arthur's warm breath slide over his face and smiled excitedly, so bloody ready after waiting so long. He knew Arthur was close, any second now he'd feel those lips.
He twisted around sharply and cringed when Arthur's face bumped against the side of his jaw. There was no time for badly mimed apologies though; he could feel the viscous slickness of dark magic crawling around his ankles, sluicing past his ears, swirling in his lungs and it ached. Merlin felt at the air, snatched handfuls of nothing as he tried to tear the evil force apart.
A hateful stench was spiking the air, it smelled like blood and charcoal and it sent Merlin's stomach into flips. The sensation of malicious magic around him grew thicker until he was surrounded by it, the source hidden away like the coward Merlin knew she was behind the chaos of power.
A clang. A thud. A groan. She laughed. Merlin saw red.
A primal scream ripped from his lungs as pulse upon pulse of angry writhing magic pounded against one non-descript spot. Another scream joined his own, higher than his and so agonised and Merlin felt pained to hear the torture he was inflicting. He didn't stop, just screamed louder. He would not fail Arthur!
The entire glade flashed with blinding pure white light and an unearthly scream rent the air. Two bodies hit the ground together; the third was nought but ash.
Arthur woke to a throbbing skull and the copper taste of blood staining his teeth. The attack rushed back to him but when he sat up sharply (head protesting with all its might) all he saw was a tattered red cloth lying rumpled on the dead brown leaves, and Merlin slumped on the ground.
He scrambled on hands and knees to Merlin's prone form, and pressed his quaking fingers hurriedly against Merlin's neck, sagging considerably in relief when he felt the strong thrum beneath his fingertips. Gently he dragged Merlin's head into his lap and caressed his hair slowly, lost in thought while he waited for Merlin to wake.
Merlin had been using magic. Which, Arthur supposed, makes him a sorcerer and all sorcerers are criminals. But he couldn't find it in himself to believe the memorised words. Merlin had killed that enchantress yes, but to save Arthur. If the law was just, Merlin would be rewarded with riches beyond imagining. No, that was a simple matter, Arthur would just keep the secret and damn to his father.
Much more pressing though was what Arthur had heard, for he was certain beyond reckoning that Merlin had screamed. Long and loud and so hurt it tore Arthur's chest to shreds but such a sound! Would he speak again? …Could he see?
Finally Merlin's eyes fluttered open and he smiled as he reached up to still Arthur's stroking hand. His eyes still weren't focused but maybe, maybe they would finally talk again, share thoughts and jokes and even insults! The thought made Arthur tremble with anticipation.
"Merlin," he whispered, the dell too silent to warrant anything else, "Please Merlin, please try to say something." Obediently Merlin parted his lips and Arthur watched as they formed the shapes of his name. No sound. Arthur's smile cracked and Merlin frowned sadly, guiltily, until Arthur ushered him up into his arms and mumbled soothing nonsense as he trekked back to Camelot.
The ragged red dress blew away from the clearing, forgotten.
Arthur loathed feasts. Despised them with a passion that was only equalled in slightly more 'personal affairs' and even then it could be a bloody close call. So at last when Lord Arseonbottom (Ahsecunbetum! Merlin would insist later) called it a night Arthur was all too eager to say his farewells and bound back to his rooms for some much needed peace and relaxation.
So of course he found Merlin rearranging the furniture with a flick of his wrist.
"Merlin!" The bed thudded down between the windows (and actually it did look quite nice there) and a mirror smacked into the wall with a ringing tinkle but quickly fixed itself to seamless perfection. In the middle of the room Merlin stood in loose blue robes grinning sheepishly.
Too tired to be angry but not tired enough to say "sod it" and bugger off to bed Arthur arched a brow and Merlin rushed forward to plant an apologetic kiss on the corner of Arthur's lips. A fond smile stretched over Arthur's lips and he wrapped himself tightly about Merlin, pressing close to the length of his back and nuzzling at his messy raven hair. Quickly he pressed a kiss to the back of Merlin's neck before pulling away regretfully to hop about pulling off his shoes and uncomfortable tight evening doublet.
"So, how did your speech therapy with Gaius fair?" Merlin tossed him a casual shrug and Arthur rolled his eyes. Only Merlin would be so nonplussed about his own ability to talk!
Impatient for a comfy bed Arthur dragged Merlin by the back of his robes and crowded him onto the bed, spooning against his back tightly and peppering kisses wherever he could reach until Merlin teasingly tossed his head to the side and Arthur's jaw bumped painfully against Merlin's jaw in a very familiar fashion.
"Idiot." He growled into Merlin's sensitive ear, causing the warlock to tremble. Merlin rolled over and kissed Arthur bang on the lips, slipping his tongue along the crease to entwine in a heated battle. When they pulled away to draw in air he laid his lips right over Arthur's ear and croaked back, softer than the faintest whisper of wind and his voice breaking unpleasantly.
A/N: I'm so ashamed, I try to never do Author's Notes but I just wanted to say quickly if anyone want to try some fanart for this I would honestly adore you forever. Any part of the fic is great, but if someone wants to have a crack at the scene where Arthur is kneeling in fron of Merlin by the fire then I may just have to kiss you. XD