Title: Moonlight Revelations

Fandom: Merlin

Pairing: Merlin/Arthur

Rating: M

Length: 6,146

Spoilers: Series 1 but mostly episodes 4, 10 and 11

Summary: Written as a response to lizardspots fantastic artwork on

Notes: This is my first ever time writing fanfiction so I dunno if it's any good. Any comments would be greatly appreciated:o). Also, the first part in italics up to And then... belong to lizardspots

Disclaimer: Merlin and Arthur are property of the BBC.

Arthur, in a fit of princely mischievousness, drags Merlin with him down to a woodland lake outside Camelot in the middle of the night for a spot of sekrit skinny dipping by moonlight. Maybe on a dare, maybe because he heard some stories about the mysteries of moonlight, maybe because he just wanted to escape the castle after a horrendous duty-laden week.

It all starts innocently enough, and then Arthur's struck speechless by the sight of Merlin rising above the surface, water streaming down his body, his skin glowing in the ghostly light. And Merlin looks at him with his sincere, devoted face, and Arthur's heart misses a beat, and he thinks, "What the hell am I doing here, frolicking in the water with my servant? I can't think. I don't want to."

And then Merlin's smile fades, because Arthur's handsome face is so intense and, is it really? Yes, Arthur is actually looking him up and down, and Merlin's breath catches in his throat, thinking, "What's going on? Why now? Am I imagining things? A trick of the moonlight?" And then Arthur's hand is reaching towards him, and Merlin dares not move away, dares not lean forward, either.

And then Arthur's knuckles are grazing down his arm, cold wet skin against cold wet skin, and Merlin looks up and meets Arthur's burning blue eyes. "Merlin..."

And then...

Arthur's knuckles trail back up Merlin's pale arm and when he reaches his shoulder, Arthur turns his hand so his fingertips brush against the softness he finds there; fingers trailing lightly in the watery sheen on Merlin's body. Arthur keeps his eyes on his fingers as they gently glide along Merlin's collarbones until he can slide them around the back of his servants' neck. He rests his palm flat against Merlin's skin.

"Arthur?" breathes Merlin as almost absent mindedly, his princes' fingertips rub small circles into his wet skin. Merlin is surprised to find that Arthur's skin is warm despite the coolness of the water. Hearing his name, Arthur lifts his head so that he can look at Merlin's face. He remembers Merlin's adoring look from what felt like hours ago and thought that Merlin was the one who should be marvelled at.

'Look at him' thought Arthur. 'Moon pale skin and raven hair. Long limbs that hide deceptive strength and those eyes. A blue so deep that I could lose myself in.' Arthur pauses his thoughts long enough to realise that one, had Morgana heard that she would accuse him of being a girl and two, he had moved closer to Merlin so they were almost nose to nose. Arthur closed his eyes and breathed. 'He smells like the earth. A rich woody scent. It fits him somehow.'

In front of him Merlin let out a contented sigh. 'I wonder what he's thinking.' He'd been wary when Arthur first touched him but now, seeing Arthur so peaceful, Merlin welcomed the contact. Stepping forward Merlin closed what little distance there was left between them. He brought his right arm up and gently slid his fingers into damp, sun blonde hair and rested them against the top of Arthur's head. He then leant forward and rested his head so his chin was against the curve of Arthur's left shoulder and his cheek brushed against Arthur's ear. Next Merlin slid his left hand around the other man's waist and pulled him flush against his body.

Arthur exhaled in a way that seemed both sleepy and relaxed while burrowing his nose in Merlin's shoulder. His hold on Merlin's neck shifted so it went under the arm whose hand was buried in his hair and it came to rest against the small of Merlin's back. Arthur then brought his right hand up and slid it around the boy's shoulders and effectively locked Merlin into the embrace.

Time seemed to slow around them and Merlin wasn't sure if it was his magic or his emotion that had caused the sensation. Either way he couldn't have cared less. So content was he, Merlin missed what Arthur had said.

"Hmm?"

"I said you're beautiful Merlin." Arthur pulled away just enough so he could look Merlin in the eye. As he did so he noticed the light blush spreading delicately across those amazing cheekbones. Merlin had lowered his gaze and turned his head away.

"You're the beautiful one Arthur. I'm just pale, skinny and have big ears. I'm clumsy and talk too much and..."

Arthur silenced him by pressing his forehead gently against Merlin's cheek.

"Merlin" said Arthur quietly, "you're not skinny. You're wiry. You may have large ears but they suit you and yes you may be pale but it's a healthy colour." Arthur takes his arm from its place on Merlin's shoulders so he can use his hand to tilt Merlin's chin. "Yes you talk too much but a lot of the time you challenge me and cause me to question everything I've been taught to believe. You talk to me like I'm a real person instead of as only the Crown Prince."

Arthur's voice dropped to barely above a whisper but Merlin could still hear the emotion behind it.

"You're not afraid to stand up for those you care about. I want to do the same Merlin. I want to protect those I love without fear of judgment from my father. Every time you annoy the King I want to draw you away from his cold stare. I want to hide you somewhere where he can't look at you." At this point Arthur figured that somehow he'd wandered off what he was trying to say but he carried on. "I want to be strong like you Merlin. And even if you are clumsy at times I will just have to make sure I am there to catch you because you are beautiful Merlin. A beautiful soul."

Merlin didn't know what to say so instead he did the only thing he could do. He cupped his hands around Arthur's jaw and kissed him. Just a simple press of lips and Merlin pulled away before doing it again. Every press of Merlin's mouth against his face sent tingles skating down Arthur's spine. Before Arthur could respond however, Merlin spoke in between soft kisses.

"You are a fool Arthur Pendragon."(corner of his mouth) "I've watched you risk your life for your people," (his chin) "I've seen you fight monsters and humans alike" (his cheeks) "sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. You've stood up to Uther and saved my life." (his nose) "Your people would do anything for you." (his eyelids) "Not because you're the prince but because you're you. Just like I care about you so too do they. They can't live without their prince." He stopped and looked straight into Arthur's eyes and felt like he was seeing destiny herself. Resting his forehead against Arthur's he whispered, "and neither can I. I need my prince. I need my Arthur. I need you."

Arthur ducked his head and claimed Merlin's mouth in a kiss. It was more urgent than Merlin's delicate butterfly kisses but still just as tender. "And you shall have me," murmured Arthur. Arthur placed his strong hands on Merlin's waist and gently tugged him towards the shores of the lake. Merlin went willingly while clutching at Arthur's shoulders; desperate to not let him go. Once they reached the soft grass Merlin stumbled a little but Arthur didn't release him. He fell with him and Merlin couldn't help feeling that he had fallen just a little further for the man before him.

Panting slightly from the drop to the ground, Arthur lay on the grass and stared up at his best friend. Merlin was sprawled on top of him. Their legs had gotten tangled together and Merlin's hands were still attached to Arthur's shoulders and his forearms were supporting his weight against Arthur's chest. Arthur caught sight of the full moon as its soft glow reflected off Merlin's raven locks making them appear blue. Merlin's skin was almost luminescent as he basked in the shimmering light. The flush was still light across Merlin's nose and cheeks. Arthur's breath hitched at the vision as he reached upwards, tangled one of his hands in Merlin's hair and drew him down into another kiss.

Merlin whimpered as his mouth came into contact with his Prince. All he could do was try to ground himself against the onslaught of feelings as Arthur plundered his mouth. He felt Arthur's hands, which had somehow moved to cup his throat, leave their place and trace down his neck and back before coming to rest over the curve of his arse in a display of tender possessiveness. Merlin moaned at the contact. Without thinking he pressed back into Arthur's grip. Arthur buried his face in Merlin's neck; his nose brushing against Merlin's jaw line and let out what he would later deny as a desperate moan.

"Merlin. Please. Can I have you?"

Merlin released a needy whimper. "Yes Arthur. I'm yours."

Arthur growled low in his throat and rolled them over so Merlin was pinned underneath his bodyweight. From this angle it was easy to feel the effect he was having on Merlin and vice versa. He trapped Merlin's wrists as he bit into the hollow of Merlin's throat as at the same time he gently thrust his hips. Merlin arched up at the contact but had little room to move to get the friction he wanted.

"Arthur." His name left Merlin's lips in a breathless gasp.

Arthur trailed his lips up Merlin's neck and traced a line to his ear. "What do you want Merlin?" he said in a husky whisper. The sound sent shocks against his sensitive skin and from there straight to the ache between his legs. Merlin wrapped his legs around Arthur's waist and tried to thrust upwards. Arthur ignored him even though the movement was driving him crazy. "Tell me what you want. I need to hear you say it." He wasn't sure what he was expecting him to say but never-the-less it caught him by surprise.

"I want...I want you to love me Arthur." Merlin opened his eyes when he felt Arthur move and felt small puffs of air against his cheeks. For a moment he'd thought he'd gone too far but then Merlin saw the raw emotion across Arthur's face and in the depths of his shining blue orbs. It made Merlin's breath catch in his throat and his mouth go dry. He flicked his tongue across his bottom lip and the movement caused Arthur's pupils to dilate further. Merlin thought that if he had been standing, the desire he saw would have made him collapse.

Then Arthur's face softened and he reverently cupped Merlin's jaw. He peppered kisses to every inch of Merlin's face he could reach and Merlin was content to let him. After a while, Arthur paused and looked at Merlin as though he were looking for something. He must have found it because he smiled. It wasn't one of his arrogant smirks or his 'Merlin-you're-an-idiot- but- you-amuse-me' one's either. It was Merlin realised, a smile of genuine happiness.

Arthur leant closer and bumped his nose gently with Merlin's; his smile still in place. He whispered, "I promise I'll try not to hurt you." He nipped at Merlin's bottom lip before sucking on it gently and slowly exploring the confines of his new lover's sweet mouth. Merlin, Arthur thought, tasted like thunder and rain and briefly wondered what the rest of him would taste like. He left Merlin's mouth in search of new territory to claim. He found that Merlin was sensitive around his ears and that licking the dip at the base of his throat caused Merlin to tremble.

Downwards he went; the symphony of Merlin's gasps and moans guided his way around trembling, pale flesh. Through it all, Arthur would return to Merlin's flushed lips as though he couldn't quite believe Merlin was letting him do this. To Merlin, Arthur kisses felt like he was saying thank you to something he found far too great to put into words; that Arthur was desperate for Merlin to feel everything he was feeling...

"Oh Arthur." Merlin tipped his head back in silent scream as Arthur closed his mouth on Merlin's hardened member. Arthur looked up at Merlin through his lashes. Merlin had raised himself onto his elbows so he could watch Arthur. The way Arthur was looking at him; passion, lust and love, made his heart start to beat even faster. Arthur smiled around his mouthful and slowly lowered his head. Merlin felt as though every nerve in his body was centred around his cock; especially when Arthur began to suck. Arthur brought a hand to the base of Merlin's dick and squeezed gently in time with the movements of his mouth.

Arthur felt like he'd died and gone to Avalon. The sounds Merlin was making were slowly driving him closer to the edge. Arthur slowly lowered his free hand to tease at the soft skin of Merlin's balls. He gently fondled them in his palm and felt their weight. Merlin's hands had come to rest in Arthur's hair. The soft, damp strands slid through his fingers as he brushed the top of Arthur's head. Giving Merlin another long look, Arthur followed the same path as his hand with his mouth. He nuzzled at the pearly skin before taking one of his balls into his mouth and sucking gently. Merlin nearly screamed. Arthur chuckled and the vibrations sent shudders through Merlin's frame.

Arthur thought Merlin was exceptionally wonderful like this; completely lost to the sensations he, Arthur, was causing. Arthur groaned again as he moved further back to tease his tongue across the entrance to Merlin's body. The hole quivered and Arthur ran the tip around the outside before easing gently forward.

"FUCK! Arthur!" Merlin was shivering now. The pleasure was building rapidly and he knew he was close to finishing. "Arthur please. I'm not going to last," begged Merlin. Arthur ignored him. He kept moving his tongue; working to loosen Merlin up so he could move deeper. He also started moving his hand up and down Merlin's neglected member. Between Arthur's hand and Arthur's tongue, Merlin was close to weeping. The tension coiled low in his stomach until it snapped; his release hit him like one of Arthur's punches only infinitely more welcome and his come hit his stomach and some remained on Arthur's hand.

Arthur had looked up in time to see Merlin spend himself. He wanted to see the look of wonder on Merlin's face again; only this time he wanted it to be when he was buried inside Merlin's body.

He pulled himself up Merlin's body; scattering kisses as he did so. He met Merlin's deep blue eyes with his own. Merlin blushed and looked down Arthur's body. He stared at Arthur's proud cock and tentatively reached out a hand to brush against it. Arthur shivered and Merlin marvelled at the feel of it in his palm. It felt hot and hard and it was leaking pre-come. A couple of drops landed on Merlin's fingers so he brought them to his mouth and sucked them clean with a curious expression on his face.

"Merlin," groaned Arthur. "The things you do to me." Arthur gasped as Merlin wrapped his hand more firmly around Arthur's aching cock. After a few cursory tugs, Merlin grew more confident; encouraged by Arthur's low murmurings and soft whimpers. "Merlin. Please...stop." With considerable effort, Arthur forced himself to still Merlin's fingers.

"Arthur...I want you...inside me. Please." Merlin's eyes were shining and he wanted nothing more than for Arthur to claim what has always been his.

Arthur looked down at Merlin and was suddenly knocked for six at what Merlin was asking of him. He wanted Arthur to be his first. The knowledge that Merlin would trust him enough for this made his pulse beat faster and his heart swell with emotion. He knew Merlin was a virgin. Merlin had told him this when he falsely believed that Merlin and Will had slept together. Although Merlin assured him he and Will hadn't ever had sex, the unicorn incident helped him to believe him when it had, gods, it had let Merlin touch it.

Arthur pressed a soft, loving kiss to Merlin's red lips. When he drew back he straddled Merlin's thighs and replaced his lips with his fingers. Merlin took them into his mouth and began sucking on them. He swirled his tongue between the digits and across the pads. Breathing ragged, Arthur withdrew his fingers and moved back down his lover's body. He noticed that Merlin was already hard again as he pressed the tip of a finger against his entrance.

Merlin's face was open and trusting as he eased the first finger in. There was very little resistance until he introduced the second. Arthur rubbed circles on Merlin's inner thigh until he began to relax. Arthur got the second in and gently began caressing Merlin from the inside. He made a scissoring motion which helped to loosen him further. Arthur bent to kiss the head of his cock as he brought in the third. Merlin's tension was more obvious this time so he stilled his fingers and allowed him time to adjust.

"Are you okay Merlin?" Merlin looked at Arthur with a mixture of discomfort, joy and pure love. He became lost in watching Arthur's face as Arthur concentrated on what he was doing. Knowing he was being so careful with him made Merlin smile. He closed his eyes and willed himself to relax. Arthur wasn't expecting the sudden release of pressure so his fingers slid in further and more quickly than he wanted. He watched in concern as Merlin yelped and arched off the ground.

Chest rising and falling in heavy pants Merlin choked out, "Do that again." Arthur grinned and gently probed further and hit the spot inside of Merlin that had him pressing back onto his fingers. When he felt Merlin was stretched enough, he used his pre-come and some of his spit to slick up his cock and press gently to Merlin's stretched, pink hole. Arthur reached down and laced his hands with Merlin's and pressed them to the grass. Using Merlin as an anchor, Arthur squeezed Merlin's hands as he pushed slowly forwards.

Merlin tossed back his head and gasped. The feeling was a strange one. A slight burning sensation that was both pleasure and pain combined. He felt Arthur slide further inside of him and he could sense the control Arthur was exerting to keep himself going slow. When Arthur was about half way in, it became too much. Merlin tightened up to the point where Arthur couldn't go any further.

"Merlin? Are you okay?" Arthur released one of his lover's hands and gently stroked his cheek. He found a stray tear sheltering in the corner of one of Merlin's eyes. Arthur kissed it away. The last thing he wanted was to cause Merlin more discomfort so he tried to withdraw. He was surprised therefore, when Merlin wrapped his long legs around Arthur's waist.

"Arthur. I just... I need a moment to..." he couldn't finish but Arthur understood. He reached down and smoothed Merlin's sweaty fringe. He traced patterns along his chest and rubbed slow, soothing circles down Merlin's sides; trying to offer any comfort he was able to. If it came down to it, Arthur would rather remain celibate than give in to what his own body wanted.

Gradually, Merlin's stressed breathing began to level out and the pressure around his cock started to ease. Merlin opened his eyes and nodded at Arthur. Arthur pulled back a fraction before pushing forwards again. Keeping their gazes locked, they were both able to see each other's faces as Arthur finally sunk in all the way.

Unbeknown to the other they both thought the same thing. 'Home.'

For a long while Arthur kept himself still. He rested his ear against the other man's heart. He closed his eyes as he listened to the slightly too fast beating and smiled. He felt Merlin's free hand slide into his hair again and he exhaled a deep sigh of contentment.

"Arthur? Please. You have to move. I can't feel my legs." Arthur sat up on his hands and knees above his lover and stared at Merlin astounded. He took notice of Merlin's dishevelled hair, swollen lips and cheeky grin. Then he looked down to where they were joined together and came to a decision. He claimed Merlin's mouth in a hungry kiss. Then he slid his hands under Merlin's shoulders and pulled upwards so Merlin was sat straddling his lap. A wanton moan escaped Merlin's beautiful mouth as the change in position caused Arthur to become buried even more deeply and caused Merlin's erection to graze Arthur's stomach.

Arthur moaned desperately as he was engulfed in Merlin's warm and willing body. Merlin looped his arms around his princes' neck as Arthur lifted him gently and pulled him back down. His eyes were now almost completely black and mirrored the lust in Arthur's. On the next thrust Arthur altered his angle and he brushed against Merlin's sweet spot again. From here on in it was frantically gentle pushes and pulls. A rhythmic dance of two bodies to a melody that was as old as time itself. Here they were not prince and manservant. In this they were equals.

Merlin's neck was tipped backwards and Arthur took advantage of the long column of pale skin that was displayed for him. Arthur bit at Merlin's pulse point and suckled a mark into the skin. Merlin mewled and dropped his head forwards. He sought out his lover's mouth and they shared a deep, passionate kiss. Merlin felt something else then. He felt his magic flare at the sensations that Arthur's kisses were causing. He knew what Arthur would see should Merlin open his eyes and he tensed. Arthur noticed immediately.

"Merlin? What's wrong?" Merlin shook his head and whimpered. "Merlin. Look at me." Still Merlin shook his head and kept his eyes clamped shut. "Merlin. Please." The note of worry rang clear in Merlin's ears and knew that now was the time for Arthur to see him for what he really was.

Arthur had stopped his movements and waited for Merlin. He could sense that this, whatever it was, frightened Merlin so he kept quiet and waited. He rubbed his thumbs unconsciously against Merlin's hipbones. At last Merlin released a small, shuddering breath and opened his eyes. Arthur felt his own widen and his jaw slacken in shock. Merlin's eyes were swirling with golden light. There was no trace of blue left. The power he saw twinkling in their depths caused Arthur's breath to catch. He was startled when he felt Merlin shift and try to move off of him.

He didn't get very far. Merlin found himself trapped by Arthur's bruising grip on his hips. Finding he couldn't move Merlin settled for staring at the space where Arthur was buried within him. He felt his eyes begin to moisten with tears, 'This is it, he hates me. He's going to push me away and never speak to me again. He's...oh.'

Arthur was licking his way into Merlin's mouth as his right arm came up to tangle in Merlin's hair. It was hot, needy and desperate. Tongues battled for dominance until they had to break apart to breathe. Panting into each other's mouths Arthur broke the silence. "I always knew there was something about you. But Merlin, why come here to Camelot? You could've been killed you idiot!" He kissed him again as though he thought Merlin was going to disappear before him.

"So could you," murmured Merlin. Arthur pulled away and looked puzzled before it dawned on him.

"All those coincidences. All those times when I thought I was going to die something happened to prevent it. That was you?" Merlin opened his mouth to speak but Arthur interrupted him. "That light in the caves when I went to get the morteius flower. That was you." Arthur grasped Merlin's jaw and seemed content to kiss Merlin into oblivion. His kisses ranged from soft and sweet to hard, demanding and sloppy.

"So you're not angry?" gasped Merlin when he managed to free himself.

"Of course I'm angry. You could've been killed and then I would've been forced to train a new servant." Although he was joking, when their gazes locked once again Merlin saw the sincerity of Arthur's words. Merlin had no choice but to kiss him then.

"Do you trust me Arthur?" Arthur nodded but, "Please Arthur. I need you to say it."

The look Arthur gave him burned straight through to Merlin's core. "I trust you with my life and my heart Merlin. Don't ever forget that."

Merlin smiled a truly radiant smile and rested his head in the crook of Arthur's neck. He nipped lightly at the skin and rolled his hips. He grinned as he felt Arthur shudder against him. Arthur quivered and practically purred when Merlin uttered foreign words of magic into his ear. "Open your eyes my prince," whispered Merlin. Arthur did as he was bid and gasped.

Merlin had managed to move them so they were settled a few centimetres above the lake water. They were resting in the reflection of the bright round moon. That wasn't all. Some of the clouds had shifted to reveal brightly lit stars and they were slowly making their way to earth and formed a ring of soft light around the two of them. Merlin spoke again and coaxed some of the stars to dance and settle around Arthur's head.

Merlin shifted so he could look Arthur in the face. Merlin still felt apprehensive but Arthur reached out and said, "You're amazing."

Merlin smiled shyly. "Look in the water." Arthur nodded and faced their reflection. Merlin had formed a crown of stars around Arthur's hair turning it from golden to silver. Arthur reached up tentatively and brushed his fingers against one of the smaller ones. He had expected heat since Gaius had once told him that to shine that brightly, the stars had to burn to a great temperature. Instead he felt Merlin shiver in his lap as Arthur continued his caresses. Puzzled he stroked again; this time harder and Merlin moaned.

Arthur pulled his hand away and Merlin stared at him breathing heavily. Arthur raised an eyebrow and Merlin blushed. "This is how I see you. A king that burns brighter than any star." Merlin's blush deepened. "And this..." he laced the hand Arthur had used in his exploration with his own. "This is how I feel you." He reached their joined fingers up so Arthur's knuckles brushed the stars again. The magic Merlin was using to keep the spheres of light there caused Merlin to shiver again. "My magic is part of who I am; I can't not use it. But like the rest of me, my magic yearns for you too."

Merlin's voice dropped to a whisper. "There isn't a single part of my being that you haven't touched Arthur Pendragon. Mind and body, heart and magic; they are all yours."

Arthur was speechless. Merlin, his sweet and often clumsy Merlin who would risk his life for him, had laid bare everything that he is at Arthur's mercy. "You really are beautiful Merlin. I can't ever lose you." Arthur grasped hold of Merlin's forearms and hauled him in to a searing kiss.

Merlin went willingly and let Arthur dominate him. He moaned when Arthur thrust his hips upwards and miraculously found his sensitive spot on the first try. Their bodies were pressed tightly together leaving not even a hairs breadth between them. Arthur released Merlin's mouth and assaulted his neck; sucking and nipping until he'd left a mark that couldn't be hidden; needing to let everyone know that Merlin was his.

Arthur sped up his thrusts and gently pressed forwards so Merlin would tip backwards. Thanks to Merlin's magic they didn't fall in the water and Arthur kissed him again. Merlin rolled his hips and met Arthur thrust for thrust every time; each growing more frantic. Merlin tightened his grip on Arthur shoulders at the shocks speeding through his body. Both of them were close to the edge and Arthur needed to see Merlin's face.

"Look...at...me...Merlin" Arthur ground out between heavy breaths. "Please. I need...to...see you." Merlin opened his eyes and stared directly at Arthur. Seeing his swollen lips, flushed face and sharp eyes that remained focused on him nearly undid Arthur then and there but he needed something more. "Merlin," he kissed him again. "I need you to come for me."

Merlin's eyes widened. His back arched and with a high pitched moan he let himself go. Arthur growled low and deep as he felt Merlin clamp down tightly on his cock. That feeling, along with the sight of Merlin so lost to their abandon, caused him to tip over the edge; filling Merlin with his essence.

Panting, they both came down from their high. Merlin's eyes were fading back to their normal colour and Arthur watched as the stars returned home. Merlin manoeuvred them back onto the bank and settled them so Arthur was on his back and Merlin snuggled into his arms; resting his head above Arthur's heart and pressing his nose into Arthur's collarbone. Arthur tangled their legs together and wrapped his arms around the boy drowsing sleepily. Arthur pressed a kiss to Merlin's sweaty forehead and breathed him in. It was a warm night so neither of them were worried about going inside just yet.

"Arthur?"

"Hmmm?"

Merlin paused and bit his lip. "Why did you come down here tonight?"

Arthur sighed and brought a hand up to trail up and down Merlin's spine. "I needed to get away from my father."

"What happened?"

Arthur laughed without humour. "King Bayard has requested Camelot's help with his campaign against the King of Bosworth. Of course my father said he would assist and that 'I would relish the challenge'."

Merlin sat up and looked down at Arthur in shock. "King Bayard? I'm surprised your father has even considered lending him Camelot's aid. Especially after what happened with the poison." He felt Arthur tense just as he frowned. "Wait. What did you mean when you said he said you would 'relish the challenge'?"

Arthur rubbed Merlin's left arm. "The King wants me to go and personally assist in the campaign. He thinks it would be wise to show that he bears no ill will about what happened with..." Arthur stopped and found he couldn't continue.

"Arthur?" Arthur had sat up abruptly so he was almost nose to nose with his friend. In a whisper he said, "My father said you are to come along as well." This time when Merlin went completely rigid in Arthur's arms it wasn't for a positive reason. As much as Merlin knew it not to have been Bayard's intention to poison him, the thought of being in his presence made Merlin feel uneasy. Arthur pulled Merlin's head forward so it rested on his shoulder.

"There's more. I don't know if you knew already but Bayard also has a daughter. My father hinted at a stronger alliance with Mercia and I have an inkling that father may use her as a way of making that alliance possible."

Merlin tightened the grip he had around Arthur's waist and went completely still. "He can't." Merlin whispered into Arthur's bare skin. "He can't organise your marriage to someone whose father almost killed you and..."

Merlin knew he was becoming slightly hysterical. He was breathing harder and somehow he knew that a marriage between Arthur and Bayard's daughter would only cause unrest; even his magic felt it. There was something wrong about Bayard and Mercia. He suddenly felt cold all over despite the warmth from both the night air and Arthur's arms around him. Merlin lifted his head and looked imploringly at Arthur.

"Arthur, if you must assist Mercia then so be it but you can't marry Bayard's daughter."

"Why can't I? If Uther decides I must marry then I must marry." The bitterness did not go un-noticed but Merlin didn't bring him up on it.

"I felt something when Bayard and his entourage came to Camelot. After I recovered from the poison I thought maybe it was just the experience that had caused it but..." Merlin paused. Somehow he had to get Arthur to believe what he was saying. "There's something wrong, almost unnatural with Bayard's court. Marrying his daughter would only bring trouble."

The fear on Merlin's face worried Arthur as much as the tears he could see threatening to fall. He knew he could trust Merlin's word but he knew his father had made his mind up about the marital union. "Merlin. There's nothing I can do without any proof of what you are telling me but..." Arthur had to press his fingers against Merlin's lips to shush him. "But, we may have a chance to find out what is going on during the campaign."

Merlin knew that was a logical decision. He also knew it was the only decision but that didn't stop him from worrying about it. "Arthur just promise me that you'll let me help you should you need it. Even if you don't think you do." Arthur rolled his eyes but at Merlin's serious expression he answered carefully.

"I promise Merlin but only as long as whatever the situation is doesn't endanger you." Merlin opened his mouth to protest but instead found it smothered by Arthur's. Merlin sighed into it and knew that arguing was pointless. He heard Arthur's words on the beach before Arthur drank Anhora's poison to save him. 'You know me Merlin. I never listen to you,' echoed inside his head. 'Oh Arthur,' he thought. 'You should know that applies both ways.' He closed his eyes and lost himself to Arthur's kiss.

Arthur leant back onto the ground and pulled Merlin with him. There was a few minutes of thoughtful silence before,

"What are you thinking about?" yawned Merlin.

Arthur chuckled. "I'm thinking that you are still a lazy manservant whose idiocy knows no bounds."

"Prat," murmured Merlin happily.

Arthur smiled. "But at least you're my lazy idiotic manservant."

Merlin couldn't help smiling then. He shifted slightly and Arthur tightened his grip. "Arthur? Did you mean it?"

"Did I mean what?"

"Did you mean it when you said you can't lose me?"

Arthur tensed. "Of course I meant it. I meant every word I said tonight. I can't let you go now that I've got you." Then a horrible thought occurred to him. "Why? Do you want to leave Merlin? I wouldn't force you to stay if you really didn't want to but..." Arthur started to shake and Merlin was surprised to hear Arthur so vulnerable.

Here was Arthur, Crown Prince of Camelot, trembling all for the thought of losing his scrawny, clumsy and ever so slightly magical manservant. Despite the threat of losing Arthur to Bayard, Merlin couldn't help the small smile tugging at his lips. He braced himself on his hand so he could look down into Arthur's face. Merlin said what they both knew to be true. "Arthur Pendragon. I will never leave you. I..." He ducked his head and peered at Arthur from beneath his lashes. "I love you." The words were whispered softly, delicately and rang strong in their fragility.

Arthur was silent only for a short time but it was enough to make Merlin feel anxious. "Merlin," Arthur spoke softly but surely. "Look at me." Merlin did. As soon as their eyes met it was like something slid into place for Arthur. He knew that now there was no place for uncertainty or half-told truths. He needed to tell Merlin as much as Merlin needed to be told. Arthur took a deep breath and without breaking eye contact he spoke his next words with no hesitancy or doubt. "No matter what happens Merlin, I will always love you."

The smile that split across Merlin's face took Arthur's breath away and Arthur couldn't help returning it. Merlin settled himself back against Arthur's side and Arthur could still feel the smile pressed against his skin. Slowly, as they began to drift towards sleep, Merlin heard Arthur murmur, "You're mine Merlin. You're my beautiful soul."

With the Earth, the lake and the heavens as their only witnesses the two lovers finally succumbed to slumber. They went safely wrapped around the one they loved and in the knowledge that no matter what faced them in their journey towards the future, they will always have each other.