The secret we share
They were children and didn't know what they were getting into when it started. They just wanted to have something special, two weeks a year when they could have a best friend no-one would ever know about. A friend they should keep secret, if they didn't want to end up being the meal of the ancient dragon Arthur swore was under the Castle.
The Castle was just Merlin's grandparents' big, big house, on Camelot Hill, and the dragon a huge guardian dog.
They met when they were eight years old and Merlin came to Camelot to spend two weeks with his dead father's parents. Arthur didn't understand why Merlin's mum never came with him, but they had an agreement, no family talking, in fact, no talking at all about their lives outside those two weeks.
The first meeting wasn't exactly smooth. Arthur laughed about Merlin's ears and Merlin threw at him a wood sword that hit Arthur right on the head. There were blood and tears, and an earned punishment for both of them. But at the end of the day, they had already made up, and before Arthur had to leave with his father, they pinky promised to keep each other secret. Neither of them would talk about the other to the rest of the world.
The first years went perfectly fine. Here they were like super-heroes, they had a secret life no-one knew about. Two weeks a year they got to save damsels in distress and go on adventures to fight for their kingdom. Arthur was the King - King Prat if you asked Merlin - and Merlin was his court sorcerer - because he was a girl, if you asked Arthur.
But as they grew up the games changed too.
Arthur was the one to suggest they could do other things - things he had heard his sister talking about. They spent their thirteen year old summer experimenting what sex was like, nothing major, just a few messy hand jobs and a couple of awkward blow jobs. Things went on like that for a couple of years, but when they hit fifteen a jerk off session wasn't enough to calm their desire, their bodies aching for something more.
One afternoon they were walking around the park, seeing the couples kissing under the warm summer sun, while their picnics baskets lay forgotten, and Merlin proposed rescuing them. It was a nice and clean take and run for their life rescue mission. They got to the edge of the lake and lay there, trying to get their breath back. Merlin rested his head on Arthur's stomach, feeling him breathing - in and out - while Arthur ran his fingers through his hair. They stayed like that for a few minutes, both with their eyes closed, hearing the sound of the birds until Merlin started talking.
"I want you to fuck me. Don't talk, just hear me out, please. I… I know you're not gay or anything but it would mean a lot to me. You've had sex before and it can't be that different from fucking a girl, it's… it's just… sticking your dick inside someone else hole."
By the end of his speech he didn't even know what he was saying. Sticking your dick in someone else hole? Sex was something more than that, he knew it, and Arthur knew it to, so he tried to explain it again…
"I've been thinking about it for a while… I mean… there is this guy I'm dating. He is… He's my boyfriend, and we've been thinking about taking the next step in our relationship but I… I wanna know how it feels first, know what to expect."
The last part wasn't really the truth, the only reason Merlin didn't let Cenred fuck him when he asked was that he wanted Arthur to be his first. Arthur had been his first everything and he wanted to keep it that way, but Arthur didn't need to know that.
Arthur stared at him for a while, not saying a word, and when Merlin stopped rambling he got the picnic basket and prepared everything so they could eat. There was a bottle of champagne, fresh fruit, cheese and some bread. Merlin didn't really like champagne, but he knew you couldn't be picky with what you found on a stolen basket.
It took an hour for Arthur to say something, and Merlin was afraid he over stepped the boundaries of their friendship; a blow job was okay, but fucking was something big, he could understand that. But then Arthur said yes and Merlin jumped him and started kissing him everywhere, which lead to an amazing make out session. They explored each other mouth with their tongues, and when the heat got too much and Merlin could feel Arthur's hard cock trough the denim pocking at his thigh he lowered his hand and undid the zipper. He kissed his way down Arthur body, leaving a wet path with his tongue, until he got his mouth to Arthur's cock. He couldn't wait to feel Arthur inside of him.
Merlin blew him first and Arthur returned the favor with his hand after he came down Merlin's throat. They ate the food they stole and then went back home, but, before they had to split, Arthur caught Merlin wrist and stopped him.
"I'm going to do it, Merlin. Tomorrow I'm going to fuck you, but I'm going to do it because I want to and because you asked me to. But I'm not… I'm not doing it to make your relationship with that guy any easier. And do me a favour, Merlin, don't talk about your life outside this two weeks ever again."
Merlin smiled and kissed him again before going home.
The next day, while Merlin's grandparents were at a concert, Arthur kept his promise; he came to their childhood castle bringing everything they would need. That night the King didn't think about saving any princess, he only had thoughts for the sorcerer lying underneath him, moaning and repeating his name.
That wasn't the only time they did it that summer. After that night, every moment alone was spent having sex. The last week of the summer was a blurb of condoms and trying positions to see which one was better. Merlin loved how desperate Arthur looked when they fucked, like he couldn't get enough, like every time was gonna be their last. But it never was, there was always a next time. They didn't always plan it; sometimes the heat got too much while they we're kissing and fucking was the only option left. Like that time in the park, it was the middle of the day and Merlin was reading with his head resting on Arthur's thigh. Arthur started to get bored of his Ipod and forced Merlin to stop reading to kissed him and entertain him, and Merlin was happy to oblige.
They kissed, and touched each other underneath the clothes, they were both hard and panting, and the next logical move was to step away from each other to calm down or finish what they started using their hands, but that wasn't what Arthur wanted.
Merlin was kissing his neck when he heard it.
"I want you to ride me, here, now. I want you to be so desperate to have my dick inside you, you don't care if someone sees us while you're straddling me."
"God, yes, Arthur… yes, I want that." He didn't wait for encouragement, he lowered his pants and took Arthur's dick out.
Arthur handed him a condom which Merlin open and rolled on Arthur's dick within ten seconds. He was desperate, he wanted Arthur inside of him. They fucked under the summer sun, with Arthur sitting against a tree and Merlin pantless for anyone to walk and see.
But that wasn't the only summer they fucked, once they started they never stopped. Every summer was a new opportunity to explore each other's body, to see how it had change in the year they had been apart. They craved each other body. The first time they always looked for new scars or freckles that weren't there last year, wondering what could have caused them, but never asking.
Every year when Arthur plane landed, Merlin was there, waiting for him in the airport parking. Arthur would say goodbye to his father and leave with Merlin. If his father ever thought of it as strange he never said a thing. He could have spent the two weeks in Merlin's grandparents' house and his father wouldn't even know, but Merlin's grandparents would, and meeting the family wasn't part of the deal.
So they used to spend their time in the park, swimming in the lake, or visiting the surroundings in Merlin's car. One memorable time, the car broke down and they had to walk to the nearest village to ask for help. At first, Merlin freaked out and rambled about not having the money to pay the repairs.
"Merlin, calm down. It's just a car, and surely your grandparents will pay for it, there's nothing to worry about."
But it didn't ease Merlin, it just made him look sad.
"No, Arthur, you don't get it. I don't want them to pay for it, it would just make them believe that what they did to my mother is okay, and it's not. I tolerate them because after that first summer I couldn't not come back, but I don't want their money, and neither did my mom."
"God, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that." Merlin was almost crying and Arthur had to do something to stop it.
"My mum died giving birth to me, and sometimes I think my father can't stand seeing me. Don't get me wrong, he loves me, but people says I look just like her and I guess that's kind of the problem."
Neither of them said anything else, and they never repeated or acknowledged having that conversation, but they held hands the rest of the way to the village.
None of them talked about boyfriends or girlfriends, though they knew there was someone else. It was obvious in the way Arthur retreated to talk on the phone sometimes, and the texts Merlin received continuously.
If they ever felt guilty, they never said a thing, they were too busy smiling and kissing each other.
The first time both of their lives collided was at twenty one.
Arthur had just finished his business degree in Oxford as the best of his class, and soon he would start working for his father's company. Morgana, his sister, was a successful photographer who didn't understand Arthur's wish to someday take over his father's company but loved him dearly, nonetheless. She was the one to suggest going out for drinks after the dinner with their father.
That night all of Arthur's friends and his girlfriend, Sophia – much to Morgana's displeasure- went together to a club. They had been dancing on the middle of the dance floor when Arthur noticed him. Merlin. It wasn't an illusion or a figment of his imagination, he was right there, sitting at his table, talking and laughing with Morgana. What the hell was he doing in London? What the hell was Merlin doing talking with Morgana? Arthur loved his sister but if she didn't get her hand off Merlin's arm, they were going to have a problem.
He left Sophia dancing with Leon and went back to the table to meet his sister's new acquaintance, but neither he or Merlin acknowledged each other when Morgana introduced them. According to Morgana, Merlin was in London for the weekend, to celebrate his new medical career and his scholarship to continue his studies abroad. He had chosen London to surprise a friend.
"I bet he's surprised to see you here. "- said Arthur shaking his hand and smiling brightly.
"And where is he?" – asked Morgana.
Merlin looked at her confused, - "Where is who?"
Arthur started laughing at Merlin's answer.
"Where is your friend Merlin?"
"Ohhh… right. He… he went home, he was tired."
"And he left you here all alone? We can't have that, no, no, you're staying with us, and that's final."
They carried on with the farce the rest of the night, Arthur dancing with Sophia and kissing her while exchanging glances with Merlin. When Sophia went to the toilet Merlin called it a night and said goodbye to everyone. He stood up got closer to Arthur, and kissed him. He kissed him in front of all his friends, and Arthur kissed back, and then Merlin just vanished, leaving all of Arthur friends gasping and laughing.
"What the hell was that? Are you okay, mate?" – Leon was the first to recover from the shock.
"Yeah, I'm… I'm alright. I guess that's how country boys say goodbye these days."
"Well, he's lucky Sophia wasn't here, she would have killed him." – Sophia arrived just in time to hear Leon talking.
"Who's lucky I wasn't here?"
"The guy Morgana invited to join us? He kissed your boy before he left. Right on the mouth, and I think I saw a little bit of tongue in there." – Answered Percival laughing.
"No, he didn't! Oh my god, sweetheart, are you alright? I knew I didn't like him, he looked funnily at you."
One hour later Arthur received a text with an hotel name and a room number, he left the club and got on a taxi as soon as he said goodbye to everyone.
Merlin was waiting for him with a smile on his face and a package of condoms.
Arthur couldn't hold back the smile. "You are naughty, kissing me like that in front of all my friends."
"I waited till she was in the bathroom…?"
That night Arthur didn't go back home, neither did he the next day. He spent the rest of the weekend in that hotel room, fucking the life out of Merlin, celebrating their college achievements.
They kept seeing each other once a year till they turned twenty five.
That was the last time they saw each other like that. Merlin was waiting for him in the airport but he didn't smile when Arthur got off the plane. That was the first sign that something was wrong, Merlin always had a smile for him.
The ride in the car was silent. Arthur had expected this visit since two months ago, when Merlin told him his grandparents wouldn't be there. The house was theirs so he didn't have to stay in a hotel. Arthur had been dreaming about spending the two weeks naked, always prepared for when the need stroked them. So this silence, this feeling in his guts that something was wrong was killing him. When Arthur finally felt strong enough to ask what was going on Merlin's answer hit him like a kick in the guts. That night Merlin broke their promise again and he started talking about his real life. He didn't say much, just that his boyfriend, some guy called Will had proposed to him.
"I haven't answered him yet. I wanted to talk to you first."
Arthur couldn't look at him, not when Merlin was going to destroy what they had.
"Arthur, If I… If I say yes this is the end, I can't… I won't cheat on Will anymore, not after the vows."
After that Arthur couldn't keep his mouth shut any longer, he was furious with Merlin for breaking his word.
"I don't want to know any of that Merlin. I don't want to know his name or what a wonderful husband he will be. This is not what we do, we don't talk about this stuff and it was going great, why do you want to ruin it?"
At this point they were both screaming, both wanting to get their points across.
"Great, Arthur? What we have is not great, it's destructive and I can't keep doing it for the rest of my life; it's not enough, and it's not fair, not for us and not for our partners."
Both of them shut up at that. Merlin was crying and the next thing he said stung, and left Arthur in the brink of tears.
"I want more than just a couple of fucks two weeks a year, Arthur."
Arthur couldn't keep hearing it, he needed to shut Merlin up. He was minimizing what they had. To Arthur, these two weeks where the only time he felt real, the only thing that kept him going the rest of the year, and now Merlin was slipping away and he couldn't take it, it hurt too much.
He just needed Merlin to remember what they had, so he took Merlin between his arms and kissed him, holding him tight against his chest. Arthur carried him to the bed and undressed him slowly, caressing every single part of Merlin with his hands and lips, committing it to memory.
Arthur fucked him slowly, meaning every thrust; he wanted Merlin to feel what they were losing that night. They made love looking into each other eyes, holding the other close; afraid of losing the other before it was time.
The next day Arthur woke up to an empty bed.
The only sign that Merlin had been there was a folded paper beside his pillow, but he didn't read it, he just put it into his jacket, and left the room, leaving everything as it was.
After two months of a silent and a workaholic Arthur, Morgana was fed up. She didn't know what happened in her brother life anymore, she doubted she had ever known, but whatever was going on now had to stop. Arthur wasn't sleeping or eating for that matter and she was now really worried. His father was worried, and that was saying something!
It all had started after those two free weeks he always took every year. He used to come back smiling, like the world was a better place, but this time was different. It was like he had lost every reason to live and now all he had left was work. He stopped going out or hanging out with his friends.
Arthur spent all his time in his office, he didn't even go home to sleep. Sometimes, Morgana just wished he drank himself to sleep, anything that made him close his eyes and sleep seemed good to her. One time Morgana even considered drugging him, but she didn't feel comfortable with it.
She decided to take him away from the city for the day, and she took him to the beach. It had always made Arthur happy when they were little. He made castles and proclaimed himself king of the land and, when he thought that no-one was listening, he talked to his imaginary friend, and court sorcerer, Merlin.
But that was then, and his brother didn't even smile when he saw the sea, Arthur just got out of the car and started walking down the beach. She stopped to look at him, wondering where her brother was, because that - that empty shell in front of her - wasn't Arthur. She picked her camera and took a photo. He had left footprints on the wet sand as he walked down the shore of the beach, and in the photo he was looking down at his feet with his hands on the pockets of his coat. Grief was a great emotion to capture in a photo, but not the best one to base a life on. She was terrified that was the path her brother was starting to walk down now, just like his father did twenty five years ago when he lost his wife. Seeing him like that made her remember that time in her life, when she was only eight years old and lost her father and mother in just one day. Arthur now looked just like Uther after he came back from the hospital and it made her shiver.
She kept looking at him, trying to decipher what was going on with her brother, and then she saw him take something out of his pocket, and it really scared her because whatever it was, it made him fall on his knees and cry like a little baby.
Arthur had always been a strong kid, he never cried, not even that time when he crashed his bicycle on the wall outside their house and broke an arm. He never let anything touch him, not even his girlfriends, and he had had a long list of them - they never lasted more than three months, when it got too serious he left them. There had only been one girl that lasted a little bit more, Gwen, but after six month she left him for his best friend – Lance, and Arthur didn't even blink. It was like it had never happened. So Arthur crying was something unimaginable. Morgana ran to him and hugged him for what seemed like hours while he cried on her shoulder. She couldn't stand it any longer, she had to know what was going on so she grabbed the piece of paper he was holding and read it
I don't want two weeks, Arthur. I don't want us to be a secret.
I want a life with you.
Please, come and save me this time, save us.
The rest of the paper was just a direction. Arthur, put himself together the best he could and took her hand, leading her to the car. She didn't need an explanation to where they were going, maybe she didn't know who this girl was and how long she has been on Arthur life, but she was the only one who could bring him back, and that's all she needed to know. Arthur tried to pick the keys from her, but she didn't let him.
"Morgana, give me the bloody keys."
"I might not know what this is all about, Arthur, but one thing I know is that you're not driving my car in this state. But… I'm an awesome sister, so I'm gonna drive you there."
Arthur smiled and ran to the passenger seat, getting in the car as fast as he could.
"What are you waiting for sister?"
At first, all he did was smile like a mad man, but then his expression changed, like something has suddenly hit him. And he started to repeat the same thing over and over again; it can't be too late, please.
When they got there Arthur got out of the car and ran to the house, knocking desperately on the door. It was a woman who opened it, scared of the two strangers knocking at her door at night. But Arthur couldn't really elaborate anything more than a name, her name she supposed. Merlin, Merlin, Merlin.
Merlin, a weird name for a girl, what a weird name for a person, but it wasn't the first time she had heard it, though she couldn't remember where.
The woman was about to answer when another person came to the door: it was a lanky man, with bags under his eyes just like Arthur's. They looked at each other and then the other man, the Merlin guy, smiled and threw himself at Arthur, kissing him like he needed Arthur to breath, and Arthur was laughing with his arms around this man's waist, holding him.
Morgana was speechless, Merlin was a man, and if she remembered it well, he was the same man that kissed her brother in a pub four years ago. They looked so happy together, so in love that she had to take a picture, and she did. Arthur was holding that boy against him by the hips while this other guy had his legs wrapped around him, and the woman Morgana presumed was Merlin's mother was looking as surprised as she was.
"Boys, enough with the show, the neighbors don't have to see how you two have sex outside the house."
Arthur released Merlin and instead took his hand, following Merlin's mom to the house.
"I guess you're Arthur then"- it was the first thing she said once inside the house.
"Yes, Arthur Pendragon, and this is my sister, Morgana. It's an honor finally meeting you."
"Yes, I guess that after seventeen years, it was around time that we met each other."
"Seventeen years? What is she talking about Arthur?" – Morgana couldn't hide the surprise in her voice.
"I see I wasn't the only one in the dark about these two, then. Somehow it doesn't make me feel any better, not in the least. I suggest that we keep this conversation for the morning and try to catch a little bit of sleep, it would do us all a lot of good."
"You two can share Merlin's room, but no funny business young men, I said sleep, and God knows you both need it. You sweetheart can have the guest room, come with me, I'll show you the way."
Arthur and Merlin retreated to Merlin's room silently. At first they just looked at each other, taking the other in and then Merlin lowered his head.
"What took you so long?"
"When you left leaving that note… I couldn't read it, I wasn't brave enough to read the last words you would ever say to me, so I just… I put it in my pocket and forgot about it, till this afternoon."
"You didn't read it? God, I've spent the last two months thinking you didn't want me, that you would never…"
Arthur got closer to him and caress his cheek, - "Want you, Merlin? I love you, I always have. I would have done anything you asked me to, I would have given you anything you asked me for."
Merlin put his hand on Arthur's over his chek, and tilted his head to the side looking for the warmth of his palm.
"The only thing I wanted was you, Arthur. I love you. I've bloody loved you since the first time I saw you. You really hurt me when you picked on my ears."
"I love your ears."
Merlin laughed at that.
"What happened with… with Will?."
"He is not here… not anymore, Arthur. When I left that room I knew what I wanted, and it wasn't him. Marrying him would have felt like… like betraying you, and I couldn't stand the thought of it."
Arthur kissed him and led them to bed, and they held each other to sleep.
They had a lot of explaining to do the following weeks, and Arthur's father didn't take it well, but they were together in the real world, and it was all that mattered.
His father didn't understand his choice to live with a man, a man he barely knew, but Arthur was sure that in time Merlin would have Uther eating out of his hand. His father respected young men that fought for their place in the world, and knowing that Merlin was a great Cardiologist helped, a lot. That, and his last name, of course. The Emrys were the owners of Emrys Publishing and half of Camelot factories; and of course, after the death of their son, Merlin was their only heir.
That was one of the things Arthur now knew about Merlin.
After seventeen years of a self imposed no-talking rule, they had a lot to talk about and they did. At nights they craved each other's body, but at the light of the day they also craved the little things that made each other who they were.
Merlin told him about his parents love story. He told him how Balinor had ran away from his parents to have a life with Hunith, in a little town. How his father disinherited him and how he died two months into Hunith pregnancy.
When they talked about those things, sometimes they felt like they didn't know anything about the other… but then a song would start playing and Arthur would know exactly why Merlin smiled at it, or Merlin would wake him up with a cup of hot chocolate before an important meeting and all those big facts they hadn't known before didn't seem so important.
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