Sing a Song For Me
Disclaimer: I do not own Merlin or any of the characters associated with it.
Summary: Merlin likes to sing while he works. Arthur likes to listen.
Arthur Pendragon was furious. For the first time in his life, he had been bested by his prey during a hunt. The large buck had surprised him by rearing up and kicking out with it's front hooves, catching the prince harshly in the shoulder when he had moved forward to strike the beast across the chest. The prince, who had been knocked to the ground by the attack, was unable to retaliate before the buck had disappeared from view. The few knights who had accompanied him were wise enough to keep any comments to themselves, and allowed Arthur to take his frustrations out on a half dozen hare, before convincing him that they should return to the castle.
Now the prince could be seen storming through the courtyard, headed in the direction of his chambers. The citizens of the kingdom hastily made way for the fuming man, not wanting to give him any cause to turn his foul mood on them. Tentative whispers followed the man as he ascended the staircase to the castle's front door, making him narrow his eyes and tense the muscles in his shoulders. This, in return, sent a jolt of pain through the large bruise that had formed from the attack. Arthur winced then scowled, as his anger reached boiling point.
By the time he reached his chamber doors, Arthur had managed to convince himself that somehow, this whole thing was Merlin's fault. His manservant had been late to wake him that morning which meant the prince had been forced to rush through his breakfast, arriving at the stables a half hour late, groggy from the sudden start to the day. Obviously, his grogginess had made him less aware of his surroundings, and since his manservant had failed to wake him in time, it stood to reason that Merlin's incompetence was the real reason for the mishap in the forest.
With this reasoning in mind, Arthur pushed open the doors to his quarters, mouth opening as he prepared to let all of his rage out on the unsuspecting man, when a soft sound made him pause. A gentle melody flowed through the room, the voice, a strong yet quiet tenor, was coming from the tall man sitting cross-legged on the floor.
Arthur closed the door silently behind him before leaning against it and studying the brunette curiously. Merlin was facing away from the door, and had a pile of Arthur's armor in front of him. From the movement of his arm, Arthur could only assume that the man was in the middle of polishing the lot, and his lack of response at Arthur's entrance told him that Merlin had not heard him come in.
As Arthur listened to his manservant sing, he felt the anger melt away from his body, leaving him feeling content and strangely happy. Merlin's voice, so different from the usual tone he used with the prince, brought a gentle smile to the blond's lips. A sudden warmth spread throughout his chest and an unexplainable urge to take the brunette into his arms flowed through him.
Before the prince could question his actions, he stepped forward, not stopping until he was standing a mere hands length from his servant. From this distance, Merlin's voice sounded more passionate; as if he had a deep, personal connection to the song. Arthur stood transfixed as he watched the brunette move the polishing cloth in time with the music. When Merlin had finished with the gauntlet he had been polishing, he swiped the cloth off the end with a flourish that made Arthur laugh; an action he regretted a moment later.
Merlin whipped around, his legs unfurling and sending the pile of armor skidding across the floor. Upon spotting the prince, his eyes widened and a dark blush crept onto his high cheekbones.
"A-Arthur!" Merlin attempted to push himself to his feet, but in his embarrassed state, he only succeeded in tripping himself.
Arthur's smile grew, a fondness he normally wouldn't display overtaking his features as he reached a hand out to help the other man to his feet. "Why did you stop?"
Merlin's eyebrows drew together in confusion. He looked from the prince's face to his outstretched hand for a moment before taking it and hauling himself to his feet. "Why did I stop what?"
"Singing. You have a lovely voice." He let go of Merlin's hand somewhat reluctantly, the loss of contact making him feel cold.
The brunettes eyebrows shot up at the compliment. "Oh. T-Thank you, sire."
Silence fell over the two men and Arthur frowned when Merlin didn't continue his song. They stood facing each other for a moment longer, before the blond sighed and walked toward his window. He could hear Merlin behind him, slowly moving around the room and collecting the scattered armor, but the room remained void of the music Arthur longed to hear.
With another sigh, Arthur let his body lean towards the windowsill only to recoil and let out a hiss of pain when the movement jostled his bruise. Merlin was by his side immediately, gently taking his arm and pushing him toward his bed.
"You should have told me you were hurt!"
"It's nothing. Just a bruise," Arthur reassured him as Merlin gently pulled his shirt over his head.
The brunette scoffed and rolled his eyes, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips, but that smile soon turned to a grimace when Arthur's shoulder came into view. The skin had turned a sickly purple color, running from the space directly below his right collarbone down, in a palm sized circle.
Merlin hurried to the prince's bedside table, pulled a small jar of healing salve out of the drawer, and returned to the blond's side. Sitting down beside him, the brunette turned his body so that he was facing Arthur, and put a generous amount of the paste in his palm. Bracing his left hand on the back of Arthur's shoulder, Merlin began to gently rub the salve onto the ugly blemish.
When the other man's hand made contact with Arthur's skin, the prince found himself taking a sharp intake of breath at the sudden spark that shot through him. Confused, he turned his head in Merlin's direction, immediately noticing the way the brunettes eyes were fixated on his own hand, the way he was biting down on his lower lip and the fact that he was breathing quite heavily.
Arthur's eyes remained locked on his servant's mouth, not noticing the way his body had begun to lean towards the other man. Feeling the shifting muscles beneath his hand, Merlin glanced up at the prince, wide, blue eyes flitting over the face that was steadily moving closer to his own. The brunettes mouth went dry when he noticed where the blond's eyes were focused, and an intense fluttering began in his stomach.
"Arthur?" Merlin swallowed nervously, then quickly swiped his tongue over his lips, trying desperately to bring moisture back to them.
That brief glimpse of Merlin's tongue, wrenched a soft whimper from the prince, and before he had time to consider the consequences, he brought his left hand to the back his servant's head and swiftly closed the distance between them.
The initial contact had both men taking sharp intakes of breath, as warmth spread through both of their bodies. Arthur's eyes slipped closed as he pressed closer, right hand running up Merlin's left arm to his hand and intertwining their fingers. Merlin's free hand, rose tentatively to the prince's bare chest and moved upward, coming to rest gently on his left collarbone.
The kiss remained chaste, neither man willing to do anything that may have driven the other away. When the need to breathe became too great, they separated, resting their foreheads together instead.
Merlin's face split into a large, goofy grin, an act that had Arthur laughing fondly. They remained together for several minutes, before Merlin gently untangled himself from the blond and stood from his seat on the bed, giving Arthur a quick peck on the lips as he went.
The prince watched as his manservant began gathering his armor once again, smile a seemingly permanent fixture on his face. They remained in a comfortable silence as Merlin returned to his seat on the floor with his polishing cloth.
It wasn't long before Arthur noticed that Merlin had not continued singing when he continued his chores. The prince's smile faltered slightly and his eyebrows drew together in curiosity.
The brunette looked up, goofy grin still in place.
"That song you were singing earlier. Where did you learn it?"
Merlin's eyebrows rose, but relaxed moments later when he noted the prince's genuine curiosity. His smile softened, growing fonder as he recalled a distant memory.
"My mother used to sing it to me when I was young. She said it was the only thing that would calm me down when I got a temper."
Arthur's eyebrows rose, recalling how the song had had the exact same effect on him when he had entered the room.
"Will you sing it for me?"
He saw the man hesitate and rose from his perch on the bed, joining him on the floor moments later. Gently, he took the servant's hand in his own and waited until Merlin looked up at him.
"Please, Merlin. I meant what I said earlier. You really do have a lovely singing voice."
A light blush swept over his cheekbones, and Arthur could see his resolve weakening. Squeezing his hand reassuringly, the prince watched as Merlin's shoulders slumped slightly, a sigh escaping from between his still smiling lips. The brunette nodded causing Arthur's smile to widen.
Returning his attention to the task at hand, Merlin pulled Arthur's breastplate closer to him and took a deep breath. When he exhaled, the air took the form of a melody, slightly weaker than it was before, but no less captivating. Peering up at the blond through his eyelashes, Merlin smiled shyly around the words, and Arthur found himself smiling in return. Leaning back, the prince watched his manservant, content to do nothing, but sit and listen.