One more time. Then that's it. I'm through with this.

That was what Merlin said to himself the every time he crept away from the physician's quarters at midnight, his feet carrying him across the castle.

Just this last time. Then I won't ever come here again.

Merlin promised himself this when he felt the familiar heat of his lover behind him. He had already stripped off his tunic and breeches and was standing bare in front of a large mirror, his own naked image reflected back at him in the dim torchlight.

Only his image.

His lover had no reflection. He was real enough, a creature of the night, all pale skin and dark eyes. But Merlin desired a body with sun-kissed flesh and golden hair so he chose to face the mirror. Never looking back. In the beginning, he just watched his own face contorting in pleasure and laced with so much sadness and shame and longing that the amber glow of his eyes was the only proof that he was seeing himself. And then he learned to keep them closed.

Merlin's cock was already hard between his legs and his lover, having come to understand what Merlin needed, wasted no time with sweet kisses or caresses. Merlin closed his eyes as he felt the thick bluntness push against his opening and behind his eyelids his eyes flashed gold. Merlin widened his stance to accommodate the thick length as it slid into him and bit back a groan as his lover took his hips in a bruising grip and began to fuck into him.

It was the same every time. Merlin would close his eyes and arch his back and groan at every thrust. The cold stone would always be the same against his palms and when he opened his eyes he would only ever see himself, naked and panting and utterly wrecked, mouth opened around the silent shout of a name that he dare not call aloud.

No lingering touches, no soft words, or gentle caresses. Just the sound of Merlin's groans echoing in the dark chamber, the tight grip at his waist, the smell of sweat and dust in the air, and the wet sticky sound of flesh hitting flesh. His lover didn't speak because his voice would never bear the teasing tone that Merlin wanted to hear. And Merlin never looked back because the eyes that would meet his would be black, never the soft blue that he needed to see.

And it couldn't be soft and sweet because the one he wanted was strong, he was a warrior, he didn't do sweet, and maybe if Merlin just took it hard enough, with just the sounds of sex in his ears and his eyes shut tight, maybe it would feel real.

And it almost became real when his lover's thrusts grew quicker and shallower and Merlin felt the familiar pricking of his own release down in his toes. When he tilted his head to the side and welcomed twin pinpricks and the sensation of his blood flowing freely from the wound. When he choked out a sob and his body jerked as he spilled himself onto the floor without even being touched. That's when Merlin would opens his eyes and, for the tiniest instant see a face behind him with sun-kissed flesh and golden hair, and he would out with the injustice of it because the eyes were always wrong. Just black rimmed with swirls of golden magic and never real enough.