Title: Substitute

Pairing: Gwaine/Merlin, hints of Arthur/Merlin

Rating: NC17/Adult

Word Count: 1,800

Spoilers: None

Warnings: None that the pairing and the summary don't allude to

Disclaimer: The characters depicted herein belong to Shine and BBC. I make no profit from this endeavour.

Author's Notes: Written for moment_of_sen at merlin_santa . Summary: Merlin finally admits he needs to move on from Arthur.

"Okay, this one's yours," Merlin pushed open the door to the chamber with a flourish, revealing a large canopied bed, and a suite of furniture to rival that of Arthur's chambers. Only the best for a Knight of Camelot. "You'll even get a manservant – and probably one who doesn't argue back if you're lucky."

Gwaine laughed as he passed Merlin and entered the room, glancing around with a satisfied smirk. "Nice," he said with a nod. He sat on the edge of the bed and bounced up and down. "Very nice."

"I thought so," Merlin mused absently, moving to stare out of the window down into the courtyard below, where Arthur was helping Gwen, his future Queen, into the saddle of a horse he'd recently picked out for her exclusive use. He squeezed his eyes shut at the sight and span back to look at Gwaine, opening his eyes as he turned.

Gwaine had stuck around this time; and despite his having being knighted, Merlin hadn't expected it. He was a man who didn't like being tied down in one place. A man who sought out adventure, and who had adventure seek him.

"It's still just me with the single bed in the back of Gaius's quarters," Merlin muttered under his breath, for his own benefit because it was typical really - Merlin had saved Camelot at least once a week since he'd first arrived there, but got no recognition for it – other than from Gaius and Lance, who knew of his magic. There was no knighthood for Merlin, the man who had more power in his little finger than an average knight did in his whole body, because Camelot reward physical strength and outward courage, but paid no heed to sorcerers save to burn them at the stake.

"Well, there's plenty of room for two in here," Gwaine raised an eyebrow suggestively, and Merlin's heart leapt into his throat. There could be no mistaking that meaning. The eyebrow waggled.

"Um -" he stammered. "Gwaine I -" His pulse quickened. There was no mistaking his body responded to the implication, even if his heart ultimately rebelled.

Gwaine pushed himself off the bed and came to stand in front of Merlin, causing him to step backwards, until he was backed against the wall, swallowing nervously. He hadn't seen this coming. Even with hindsight, he could see nothing to indicate that Gwaine saw him as anything other than a friend.

Merlin had been too busy concerning himself with Arthur's wants and needs to notice Gwaine – really notice Gwaine – because now he really took the time to see...Gwaine was bloody gorgeous.

Gwaine stopped when he was almost pressing against Merlin, the gap between them mere millimetres. Brown eyes met blue. "You're the reason I'm here, in Camelot," Gwaine confessed, his eyes searching Merlin's. "This has never been for Arthur, or for the kingdom - only ever you Merlin."

"Oh." Something hot and exciting stirred in Merlin's belly. He swayed slightly, his head spinning with this new information. Gwaine wanted him. He couldn't have Arthur now – his destiny with him apparently didn't extend beyond closed doors – but Gwaine; Gwaine he could have, without the secrecy and the lies. Unthinkingly he leant forward and pressed his lips against Gwaine's.

Gwaine groaned into the kiss, "Merlin!" and closed the gap between them, one hand sliding around the sharp edge of Merlin's hip, the other winding its way into Merlin's hair, pulling him closer, his tongue outlining Merlin's lips before seeking entry to his mouth.

Merlin's fingers curled into the fabric of Gwaine's tunic, clenching tightly onto the fabric like a life-line as his knees wanted to buckle beneath him at the arousal coursing through his veins. Gwaine. Merlin could feel the extent of Gwaine's desire for him nudging against his thigh, his need to see, to touch becoming all consuming. He hadn't known he'd wanted this, but now he had it, he didn't want to let go.

One curious hand let go of its grip on Gwaine's clothing and began to unlace the ties of his breeches, maybe a little magic eased the way, Merlin honestly couldn't say right now because his hand closed around Gwaine's cock and Gwaine all but swooned, spinning Merlin round in one swift movement and backing him towards the perfectly made bed in the centre of the room.

"Want you," Gwaine hissed into Merlin's lips as they came up for air. "Want you so much."

"Yes." Merlin managed as his legs hit the bed and he toppled down, Gwaine crawling on top of him, straddling him. He lifted Merlin's hands above his head and threaded his fingers into his, leaning down and taking his lips again, plunging his tongue inside Merlin's eager mouth. Merlin met him stroke for stroke, tasting the faint trace of mead and something that was purely, simply, Gwaine. He found Gwaine's cock again and liberated it from his breeches, breaking the kiss just to stare down at it as it reached for the stars, straining red and hard against Gwaine's cloth covered belly.

Merlin gripped the hem of Gwaine's tunic and yanked it over his head in one swift movement, with a finesse he didn't know he had. God, Gwaine was physically perfect, all hard planes and tanned muscle. Merlin ran his hand down the smooth lines of his chest, his thumbs skimming over erect pink nipples, licking his lips with desire.

When Gwaine slipped a hand into Merlin's breeches and pressed his palm against Merlin's erection, Merlin knew he was truly lost. "Gwaine – fuck me, please," he invited, bucking his hips desperately against him.

"God yes," Gwaine whispered, his brown eyes hazy as he eased Merlin's breeches down over his knees, yanking his boots off and disposing of the material onto the floor. He pushed back down to kiss Merlin again, one hand threading with Merlin's again as the other closed around his cock and began slowing caressing the length. "I want you to ride me."

Merlin didn't know where the oil came from, but Gwaine had the small bottle in his hand and was coating his fingers, tickling a lone digit around Merlin's hole teasingly before pushing gently inside. "Umph," Merlin groaned, lifting his hips in delight. Gwaine winked down at him before dipping his head and taking the tip of Merlin's cock into his mouth, applying pressure with his tongue around the slit before swallowing him down and humming gently around the length and Merlin spewed forth a number of curses to celebrate the sensation of that hot mouth around his cock and the two fingers now curling inside him, working him loose, read to take Gwaine's considerable length.

Gwaine suddenly released him, kissing his way up Merlin's pale torso to his mouth. He took his tongue again as he flipped them over so that he was lying on his back and Merlin was above him. "Ready?" he rasped, his hands coming to grip Merlin's jutting hipbones as their hungry cocks bounced together where their bodies met. He was glad of the lack of foreplay and unnecessary preamble. He needed -

Merlin nodded, taking hold of Gwaine's erection and lifting himself upwards, aligning himself over the other man before slowly sinking down onto him. Oh God he needed this; this– lost in these long minutes of pleasure at Gwaine's hands he could forget. Gwaine was watching him through lust filled narrowed eyes as if waiting for permission to begin. Merlin settled back, his hands on Gwaine's thighs behind him, his feet curling beneath is knees. Something must have told Gwaine that he was ready, because at that moment the older man thrust his hips upwards, jolting Merlin as the penetration went deeper, more intense, and Merlin heard a keening noise that he knew must be coming from him. His fingers dug deeper into Gwaine's flesh.

They met each other thrust for thrust, Gwaine propping himself up on his elbows, his eyes on Merlin's as they moved together, his calloused palms moving to Merlin's knees. Merlin leant forward, placed his hands on Gwaine's chest, pinching his nipples and leant down to take Gwaine's mouth in a hot open mouthed kiss, all the while moving himself up and down on Gwaine's cock, trying not to scream when every other stroke found the place that had the power to turn his vision white and set off a magical storm.

"Merlin," Gwaine breathed into the kiss. "Merlin."

It was frenzied and furious and so needed, and Merlin's orgasm rose from the core of his being, spreading outwards, sending spasms of pleasure searing through him, taking him over, his eyes flying open as he teetered on the edge. It was then he saw Arthur, framed in the open doorway, wide-eyed and pale, watching Merlin's face. So Merlin fell; pleasure so intense that his magic reacted violently, taking his consciousness from him momentarily as he desperately tried to keep it contained. Arthur. His seed exploded from him and coated Gwaine's chest in ribbons of white.

"Merlin, I love you!" Gwaine shouted as the explosion took him and he spilled himself inside Merlin, eyes closed, his head tipped back. Merlin held Arthur's gaze for another second before dragging his eyes away and leaning down to kiss Gwaine. He didn't return Gwaine's declaration. How could he? He loved Arthur. Always had, probably always would.

Arthur had made his choice and it hadn't been Merlin. He'd be crowned King any day now, Uther's declining mental health meant that the responsibilities of the Kingdom had fallen to him too soon. 'A King needs heirs, Merlin,' he'd said. 'This doesn't mean that you and I can't still be together.'

Merlin had walked away. Of course it meant they couldn't be together. Merlin wasn't anybody's dirty little secret; not even Arthur's, not any more.

Now there was Gwaine. Gwaine who loved Merlin, who wanted him for him, who wouldn't cast him aside for propriety, who would want the world to know Merlin was his.

Merlin flopped down beside his new lover and murmured, "Wow – that was..." His voice broke, thick with tears. Arthur had left; the door was back to being ajar as it had been when they'd entered the room. Gwaine was none the wiser. Merlin wanted it to stay that way. He never wanted to Gwaine to know that he was second best to the future King, a substitute. Gwaine deserved to better than that, better than someone who could never give their heart.

Merlin was good at pretending to be something he wasn't; he could do this. He could show Gwaine love and be just a friend to Arthur. He had to - for his own sanity.


Gwaine ran a possessive hand along Merlin's spine, counting the nubs, splaying his palm across the smooth pale skin on Merlin's lower back. He pulled him close, pressed his face into his hair and inhaled Merlin's unique scent.

He was no fool; he knew he came second best to Arthur. Arthur's time had run out though and Gwaine had Merlin now. He would spend every waking moment of the rest of his life making sure Merlin was happy and loved.

Merlin would love him. Gwaine was sure of it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow - but one day – Merlin would love him back. Gwaine was a patient man. He had time.