Few Words Suffice

There is a limit to what Merlin can stand when it comes to attending Arthur.

Helping the prince with his baths is tolerable – once he lugs the endless buckets of water into the room - as long as he leaves before Arthur disrobes and while Arthur is still in the tub. Merlin is always oddly grateful to spot the trail of puddling footprints Arthur tracks across the room. It's his cue that Arthur is either dressed or at the least, already behind the privacy screen again. If Merlin stays too long or returns too soon, he is sure to be tormented by the sight of Arthur with nothing but a length of cloth around his hips for modesty.

Dressing Arthur for important dinners is usually a pleasure, mostly because Arthur only ever needs help with the fastening and straightening of his cloak, or the brushing of his jacket, and, on one notable occasion, the combing of his hair.

Preparing Arthur for his quest meditation was as scintillating as it was solemn. His commitment to the sanctity of his purification before the ritual had kept Merlin from letting his imagination run away with him, even when Arthur had stripped off to nothing but his smalls and sat, not saying a word as Merlin bathed him. It had been exquisite, aching torture to slowly, thoroughly cleanse Arthur's face, neck and chest, his feet. His hands. God, if Merlin closes his eyes, he can still feel the quiet strength of tense, coiled muscles under Arthur's smooth skin.

And now, without the trappings of rituals or formal suppers, Arthur is lying on his stomach, nude as can be, one of those capable, strong hands reaching back to rub at his sore thigh.

"Merlin, are you particularly thick today? Get on with it," he says, eyebrows raising impatiently. "I'm just as thrilled as you are that Gaius is in the country picking herbs or whatever he's doing there. Just… hurry up, will you?"

"Visiting my mother," he says, before he can bite down on the back-talk.

"What are you mumbling about?" Arthur says, sighing impatiently. "Why would Gaius be visiting your mother and why wouldn't you be with him if he were?"

Merlin draws in a deep breath. "She needed a physician and we obviously couldn't both leave at once," he answers, careful not to allow even a hint of "you prat" on the end.

Arthur must hear it, though, because he frowns and huffs out his next breath. "Is she very ill?"

It sounds like an accusation instead of an inquiry.

"She took a fall and it seems she must've broken a bone in her arm. Gaius has gone to set it. He'll look after her," Merlin says, sighing. If he's honest with himself, he's relieved to be here with Arthur rather than tending his mother. He's never been good with sick people.

"You should have gone with him." Arthur ducks his head onto his folded arms and the long expanse of unblemished, tanned skin stretches from neck to flexing toes.

Merlin nods, realizes Arthur isn't looking and says, "She understands that Camelot is my home now." He sighs again, so distracted by Arthur's skin he can barely focus. "Besides, if I'd gone, who would do this?"

"Well, let's get on with it, then," Arthur says impatiently, hand waving in dismissal.

"I'll just… apply… er…" He grabs the squat jar of slick, minty salve Gaius had prepared the week before. Merlin's rooms had only just cleared of the stench and here he is, covered in it once again. But somehow he thinks the smell will never be unwelcome in his bedchamber again. "Gaius said this will work wonders. Arnica and um… some sort of mint, I believe."

"Yes, well, it's not going to rub itself on, is it?" Arthur mumbles against his arms. "Damned Leon and his useless stretches."

Merlin opens his mouth to disagree, but Arthur shoots a glare over his shoulder, forestalling any argument.

His fingers are coated in the thick, fragrant ointment and he's poised to begin when Arthur shifts on the bed, his thighs spreading slightly. Merlin focuses on the back of Arthur's knee, which helps exactly none at all, and presses his fingers into the lower end of the injured thigh.

At the first gliding touch back and forth across the sore leg, Arthur groans. Merlin starts, but doesn't take his hand away. He opens it flat and presses warmth against the muscle and asks, "Too deep? Shall I stop?"

Arthur props up on his elbows and shakes his head. "It's fine. Keep going. The worst is higher up."

Of course it is. The worst of his pain wouldn't be anywhere convenient like Arthur's toe or wrist, although now Merlin's thinking of Arthur's wrists and their strong elegance, those might not be so convenient a spot, either.

"I… I'm afraid I'll hurt you," he stammers, sounding like a ninny and rolling his eyes at his own timidity. "I mean, I don't want to damage the muscle further."

An exasperated sigh is all the warning Merlin gets before Arthur takes hold of his hand, smearing the salve, and presses Merlin's palm to his upper thigh. "There. And put some strength into it. I'd like to be able to walk tomorrow."

"I should get some ice," Merlin says, staring at his hand where it rests just below Arthur's buttocks. He doesn't move away to fetch any ice, doesn't actually think he can. "After I… finish."

Arthur hums his ascent, laying his head back on his arms, his cheek turned so Merlin can't help but see the pained furrow of his brow and the hitch of his upper lip. His leg must truly be hurting him if he's allowing the pain to show, even if only to Merlin.

There's nothing for it, no way around it. He presses his fingertips against the tight, unyielding muscle and slides them, the salve slicking the way, clear down to Arthur's knee. The sound Arthur makes is half moan and half growl, but he also opens his eyes, watching Merlin watch him.

"Was it the lunges or the partnered stretches?" Merlin asks, knowing Leon enjoys putting the knights through their paces and wouldn't shy away from challenging the Prince to join in on the more challenging training techniques. Merlin's seen them all limping away from Leon's sessions, the laughter always tinged with true discomfort.

"How would you know about partnered stretches, Merlin?" Arthur asks, taunting him even as he's trying to help.

"I pay attention," he answers, opening his hand to grip the muscle as he pushes his way deeper and up, clear up to Arthur's bottom, where his hand slides too fittingly into the crease between thigh and buttock. He clears his throat and pulls his hand away quickly as Arthur's lips curl into a small grin.

"If that's so, then you'll have realized by now that you're on the wrong leg," he says with a laugh, and closes his eyes again.

Merlin stares in disbelief, fingers stuck in the goopy salve, wondering if Arthur is pulling his leg or if he's actually… no. Surely not.

"You would've said." Slathering on another heaping handful of salve, Merlin shrugs. "I could rub them both, just to be certain, but we'll be here awhile and you can't be comfortable, can you?"

It's rather obvious, he knows, but Arthur is naked on his bed, Merlin sitting so close his hip is touching Arthur's knee and his hands are both on Arthur's thigh now, pressing steadily into the knotted muscle. The salve begins to warm beneath his ministrations and the mint is so thick in the air he is almost able to taste it.

"Stop being such a girl and kneel up so you can put your weight into it."

Rolling his eyes, Merlin obeys, his hands pressing deep into the muscle as he awkwardly gets to his knees. He leans his body into the next rub up and the pain of the deeper pressure sweeps across Arthur's face, his eyes squinting and lips pulling back in a scowl.

Arthur takes a deep breath, closes his eyes and exhales slowly, shakily, jostling Merlin as he spreads his thighs a bit more. "The inside of my leg, too. God, I swear I'm sore in muscles I didn't even know existed."

"That's what all the knights say when Leon runs training," he says, stoically not looking between Arthur's legs as he dips his thumb down the inside of his thigh, hand squeezing firmly as he slides it back down and up again. When he gets to the top, the tip of his thumb brushes something that is most definitely not Arthur's leg. "Um, sorry," he says, flushing from his chest to his scalp so hotly he can literally feel the heat coming off him in waves.

"It's fine," Arthur says quietly, not opening his eyes or shouting or thumping Merlin on the head. "Didn't you threaten to rub them both?"

Merlin stops breathing altogether as Arthur's legs spread even wider, his knee bending up a little as though he's settling in for sleep. Merlin can't help but see Arthur's thick arousal lying between his legs.

God is punishing Merlin, torturing him for something. Or shoving him off a cliff he's not been brave enough or stupid enough or strong enough to leap off of, not in four long years of touching, dressing, bathing, doctoring and caring for Arthur.

Despite his blundering and Arthur's complaints, Merlin is as good as any maid, he knows. All the maids said so, said he worked as hard or harder for Arthur than any of them, even Gwen. And better, too, because in him, Arthur had found a true friend, one with no ulterior motives or noble ties.

He knows all of this, but still, Merlin could never ask Arthur for so much as scraps from his dinner, let alone his companionship. He cannot lose this, this whatever-they-have, for a roll in the hay, as it were.

"Merlin?" Arthur prompts impatiently, raising up again to look over his shoulder. "Where is your head today?"

Merlin looks down at his wide-spread hand and bites his lips, shrugging. "Must be the weather," he says softly, raising his eyes to look out the window as he begins rubbing again. The windows are safe, and he really can do this by touch. No need to look again.

And Arthur clearly isn't interested in him - any man would get aroused from someone's hands rubbing him in such an intimate place. Right?

"It was sweltering out there," Arthur says, still craning his neck to look at Merlin, who stares out the window but can't help seeing Arthur out of the corner of his eye. "You're as soaked as I was, nearly, and burned."

Merlin looks down at his own chest, nodding. His tunic is drenched. The roots of his hair are damp, too, but he'd hardly noticed once Arthur began disrobing, tossing his soiled clothing straight at Merlin instead of into the laundry basket. "Not much shade to be had on the paddock," he says, noncommittally.

"Next time go into my tent, and take the other servants with you. You'll need something for that burn of yours when you're through here."

"Is your leg any better?" he asks, daring to look at Arthur with what he hoped was an obvious plea for dismissal, the burn on his shoulders and nose starting to itch painfully. There's no way he can touch it, not that it would do any good, but his hands are covered in a salve that would surely feel like fire on his sunburn. The more he realizes he can do nothing about it, the worse it itches. He smoothes his hands up and down Arthur's thighs again quickly, then removes them, clenching them into fists over the backs of Arthur's knees. "I'm not sure I'm doing any good as it is," he hedges, hoping to be released.

Arthur lay his cheek back down on his folded arms. "You are, believe me. Can't you feel the knots loosening?"

"Not really," Merlin answers honestly, beginning to press his knuckles in a long, slow glide up Arthur's thighs. "I'm not familiar with muscle injuries, apart from soreness at the end of the day and that's usually eased by morning."

"I'd have thought you'd have plenty of pulled muscles, what with all the carrying of armour and buckets of water and so on."

"I know what it's like to ache all over, or to strain something, but I've never…" Merlin closes his eyes and shakes his head, feeling like a fool for nearly saying far too much about his lack of a personal life.

Merlin slides his palms and fingertips softly along Arthur's legs this time, up from knee to arse in one long, gentle touch. It's perhaps too intimate, but, his mind is running on an endless loop of every lurid dream he's ever had of Arthur and he cannot shrug off the emotion buzzing just beneath his skin.

"Never?" Arthur encourages, eyes cracking open to look back at Merlin again as he moves his hands down again in the same slow, gentle touch.

"Never had anyone ask this sort of thing of me before, all right?" Merlin blurts out, face burning again, and just when it had begun to calm. "I don't exactly have a long line of nobles waiting to marry me or anything. I'm a servant, remember?" he adds, less harshly, but he still wishes he could swallow the words as soon as he's said them.

"There are times, Merlin, when I truly wish I could forget you are," Arthur says, no anger or jest in his voice. Arthur shifts beneath his touch, pushing up on one hand and turning slowly onto his side. Merlin's hands slide along his skin as he moves, as if he is unable to end the contact so suddenly, even though he'd longed for an end to this just moments ago. He reaches up and cups Merlin's jaw, startling him. "Don't you?"

"Of- of course I do," Merlin stutters, closing his eyes to feel every whirl of every line on Arthur's palm and fingertips against his face. He's not certain why Arthur's touching him but he isn't going to stop him. "Who wouldn't wish to be waited upon?" he says, voice still shaking like a leaf in the October wind.

"Here." Arthur's hand slides to Merlin's bicep and tugs him down as Arthur scoots over, turning on his side to face Merlin, thumping the pillow with his hand. "Lie down."

Merlin shakes his head in disbelief but obeys at Arthur's impatient glare. He curls onto his side, his hands held carefully close to his chest so he doesn't stain the sheets with the ointment. He lowers his head, breathing as if he's just finished one of Leon's exercises, his face whisper-close to Arthur's on the over-large pillow.

And then he's lying on Arthur's bed – oh God, Arthur's bed - for the first time.

He's thought of doing it before, of course, but he's never indulged in that particular fantasy. He's sat there a handful of times when tending Arthur's illnesses or wounds, but he's never stretched out, never laid down. The thought of lying where Arthur sleeps, where he makes love and pleasures himself and dreams – it's so overwhelming that Merlin almost pushes up immediately.

He can't be here now, not like this, not with Arthur so close and Merlin unable to stop himself thinking of these things. He smiles nervously and begins to rise, struggling a little to get his knees beneath him without the aid of his ointment-covered hands. "Listen, I'd better get back up to the tower. Gaius will be expecting me to be done with all my chores when he returns and-"

Arthur sits up, lays a hand between Merlin's shoulder-blades and gives him a shove. As shaky as he is, Merlin falls easily, flat on his chest.

"Nevermind your chores. You're clearly over-heated and need looking after. With Gaius gone and no friends of your own," Arthur teases with a huge grin, "it falls to me to see to your care."

He props instantly up on his elbows, his head hanging down as he speaks. "Arthur, I really don't need-"

"Riiight," Arthur drawls, tugging at the hem of Merlin's tunic. "Get this off."

"Arthur," he protests weakly, his voice muffled as Arthur works his shirt up off over his head.

Merlin quickly wipes his hands on it as he pulls it off the rest of the way, holding it to his chest as if he could cover himself with it even now. When Arthur takes it between his thumb and forefinger and drops it over the side of the bed looking at him mischievously, Merlin swallows thickly. "We shouldn't be doing this."

"I have no idea what you're talking about." The look of confusion on Arthur's face is comical, but Merlin can't bring himself to smile through his anxiety. "I could call for the house-matron to slather you up if you'd prefer."

"I don't need anything. I'm perfectly fine," he croaks out as Arthur straddles the backs of his thighs, his weight pushing Merlin into the soft, cushiony mattress, the soft, warm press of his arse against Merlin's legs somehow comforting despite the nervousness that bubbles up inside him.

"Yes, I can see that," Arthur agrees sarcastically, pressing a finger into the red skin on Merlin's neck. "Where was your scarf today? The one time it would do you any good and you leave it off."

"It was too hot for it," Merlin answers back, wincing away from the pain of Arthur's unkind touch on his burned skin.

"Which one is it?" Arthur asks, reaching for Gaius' satchel and picking up jar after jar. Merlin can't help and Arthur drops them none-too-carefully back into the bag. "No labels. Doesn't seem very conscientious of him, does it?"

"It's the yellow bottle," he says, knowing if he doesn't say something, he'll end up with God-knows-what all over his sunburn.

The cool, thin lotion drizzling along his neck and across his shoulders sends a chill down his spine. As Arthur sets the small bottle on the bedside cabinet, his chest brushes Merlin's bare back and Merlin shivers all over again.

"Cold, eh? They always are at first," Arthur says with small chuckle. "Like your fingers on my sides when you help me dress. Can't you at least warm them before you paw at me?"

"I've never once pawed at you! You know I would never presume to-"

"And why is that, Merlin, do you suppose?" Arthur asks quietly, both of his hands spreading over Merlin's shoulders and gently rubbing in the lotion he'd poured there. His voice is just behind Merlin's ear, his body so close Merlin can feel the heat coming off him in waves. "Why have you never once presumed?"

Merlin lays there, dumbfounded, half-naked on Arthur's bed and Arthur completely nude above him, rubbing the cooling lotion into his skin with the softest, most considerate touch Merlin has ever felt.

Why has he never presumed to touch Arthur with any of the emotions he was constantly feeling? Why has he never taken the risk, jumped off that cliff?

"Because you're the Crowned Prince of Camelot and I am your servant," he answers simply, because this is when it must be said, he supposes. This is when they will agree that things will always remain as they are. Or were, before Arthur climbed atop him. "That cannot change. I need for that not to change."

"Would it?" Arthur whispers, his breath on the back of Merlin's neck as sensual as if it were his lips. "If I… if I kissed you, would any of that change?"

Merlin buries his face in his arms, squeezing his eyes closed and praying to a God he's never spoken to once for mercy. Just let him wake and see that it isn't yet dawn. Let him wake and see that he's fallen asleep in the stable, hay stuck to his sweaty face.

When he opens his eyes and raises his face, Arthur is still with him, waiting for an answer.

"No," Merlin murmurs, shaking his head. It's half-answer and half-denial and he says it again, louder, as Arthur moves off of him.

He thinks it's over, but Arthur pulls on his shoulder, turning him onto his back. As Merlin begins to sit up, Arthur traps him with a hand on either side of his chest.

"Please don't." Merlin inhales deeply, struggling for control. "Don't make fun of me," he pleads, the sunburn on his cheeks scorching with the flush that spreads over him. "Not like this."

Arthur's hand closes tightly on Merlin's arm, thumb sliding down to press against his wrist. "Your heart's racing," he whispers as if he hadn't heard Merlin at all. Lifting Merlin's hand to his chest, he presses Merlin's palm and fingers flat against his skin and Merlin can feel that Arthur's heartbeat is as rapid and frantic as his own.

"I would never make light of this."

He gasps as Arthur climbs back on top of him, one thigh pushing between his own, and Merlin's never been so glad for breeches in all his life. They're the only thing separating his achingly hard arousal from Arthur's bare skin.

Gentle fingers brush back through Merlin's hair, Arthur's stubbly cheek scratching up the sensitive, pink burn on Merlin's neck. He sucks in a breath and tenses with the feeling of so much sensation.

Unmistakably hard, Arthur rocks his hips into Merlin's, his nose tucking down beneath Merlin's ear and lips pressing, warm and soft, just below. "You smell amazing," Arthur breathes, the exhalation tickling along his prickling, hot skin and Merlin's toes dig into the duvet beneath him.

They're both so hard, so desperate, and they've not even kissed, not even agreed that this is something they're going to do.

"It's the lotion," Merlin says dumbly, completely incapable of thought and entirely unsure where to put his hands. They're fisted in the covers on the bed, holding on for dear life when Arthur sits on Merlin's thighs. His bare backside is warm against Merlin's legs and Merlin can feel his sac against his thighs.

The weight of Arthur pressing him down feels so safe it's frightening.

"It's you," Arthur whispers, and his hands seem to know exactly what they're doing. They trail down Merlin's arms, working his fists open and fingers loose from the duvet, lifting one of his wrists to Arthur's lips. "May I kiss you?"

Mouth opening gently, wetly over the inside of his wrist, tongue brushing back and forth across the thin, sensitive skin, Arthur sucks gently, watching Merlin with such intensity it makes him want to look away.

'You already are,' he wants to tease, but he's not so brave, not as comfortable as he usually is around Arthur. He manages to nod and lick his lips before Arthur is on him, taking his mouth, first with warm, full, closed lips.

He eases Merlin's mouth open with slow, gentle strokes of his tongue and Merlin falls into the kiss as naturally as if kissing Arthur was just another of his duties. He smiles at the thought of Arthur ordering kisses from him along with dinner or polished boots, in front of people, on horseback, in the throne room. He all-out grins at the picture of the shocked faces of the court his mind forms and Arthur pulls back, returning the smile with a questioning look.

"Something you'd like to share?" he whispers, biting both of his kiss-reddened lips in as if drawing Merlin's flavor into his mouth.

Merlin smiles lazily up at him, then lets the mirth slip away. He nods. "Only everything," he breathes, closing his eyes so he won't see Arthur's reaction. It's too honest, too much, he's sure.

A breathless, crushing moment later, eyes still squeezed shut, he feels Arthur's reaction instead.

That amazing, sensual mouth returns to his, this time with none of the gentleness or consideration of before. Merlin's lips and jaw sting with the nips of Arthur's teeth, the kiss taken and his mouth ravaged, Arthur's hand squeezing painfully on his burned shoulder. At Merlin's gasp, Arthur moans into his mouth and lowers the hand to Merlin's chest, fingertips raking greedily along his skin, over his nipple, down to his waist.

Merlin breathes hard against Arthur's cheek as they kiss, not stopping to say anything, not stopping even when Arthur's fingers curl into the waistband of his trousers and yank the drawstring.

Merlin whimpers, sucking his stomach in away from the touch. He's ashamed of being so timid, of wanting and not wanting, of being afraid he'll humiliate himself, but Arthur doesn't seem to be worried about any of that. He only seems in a hurry to get to Merlin's skin, his groan humming against Merlin's jaw as his fingers dig into the hair at the nape of his neck, hand curling tightly there to guide him onto his side.

Facing Arthur again, seeing the absolute focus of his desire, Merlin moans and lets his reservations fall by the wayside. He may never have this again.

The hand on his neck squeezes and Merlin shivers, Arthur's other hand working Merlin's trousers down his hips, shoving and pushing at the fabric as Merlin wriggles and writhes, one arm trapped beneath Arthur's side, his free hand trying in vain to help Arthur when he gives up the last of his reservations and lets himself feel every touch of Arthur's skin against his own.

He sucks in a breath through gritted teeth as they manage to get his trousers down to his knees. Merlin kicks them off. They stare at each other, then down between their bodies as Arthur's hand closes around his cock, the tight, hot grip like nothing he's ever felt before, not even like his own hand, not even when he used magic like a hand that one shameful time. This is far and away more… more and the sight of it, God, the sight of his cock sliding up through Arthur's fist is just amazing, just the best thing he's ever seen, hands-down the best.

"Merlin." It's just a whisper but Arthur sounds desperate, like he needs this, like he needs Merlin more than anything.

Merlin nods as if there's some permission left to give and by the time he realizes there is and he's given it, Arthur is moving down the bed, kissing every inch of skin between Merlin's jaw and his cock. His little biting, sucking kisses leave a trail of wet pink marks behind.

His vision is white-hot and narrowed until he can only see the red stain of Arthur's lips moving closer and closer to his cock, can only feel the hand that closes on his thigh, slipping around behind to pull it over Arthur's shoulder. An encouraging squeeze and Arthur's lips are open, shiny and dark and smiling just a little as he looks up at Merlin, who can do nothing but stare and pant.

At the first scalding touch of the circle of Arthur's mouth closing tightly around his cock, Merlin throws his head back and thrusts, his hips jerking up and back uncontrollably. The hand on his arse pulls him in and squeezes with the rhythm Merlin absently sets and he knows he shouldn't be taking this from Arthur, shouldn't be fucking Arthur's sweet, fierce mouth like this, but he is and he can't stop and Arthur's not stopping him. He fists his hands in Arthur's hair and growls as Arthur sucks hard and takes him deeper.

He's so far inside he can feel the head of his cock hitting up against the back of Arthur's throat, so sunken inside that soft, gripping heat that the tip of Arthur's nose pushes into Merlin's stomach on every thrust in. Arthur's moans are as loud and desperate as his own as he shoves in and draws out, his legs tangled with Arthur's, his ankle slipping between Arthur's and rubbing up and back over his leaking shaft, moaning as Arthur cries out around his cock, his tongue cupping Merlin's shaft, head thrown back, hips rocking forward to rub himself on Merlin's leg.

"God, Merlin," he pants, hand closing in a wet, hard sheath around him as he looks down, thrusts his hips to get more friction. Merlin pushes his thigh into the next thrust and Arthur's arousal slips, leaking, along the inside of his ankle, his thighs closing tightly around Merlin's leg.

Merlin takes a long, shuddering breath to gather the last of his control and pulls hard on Arthur's hair. Arthur looks up at him, eyes glazed and heavy-lidded, mouth a smear of flushed slickness.

Pulling free of the warm, slick sheath of Arthur's lips is torture, but Merlin needs more. He brushes his thumb across those used-red lips, sliding his hand to the back of Arthur's neck, urging him up. "Come here," he whispers and when Arthur nods, it's as if they're truly equals.

Merlin swallows around the lump in his throat and guides Arthur to settle over his trembling thighs. He'll do anything, everything Arthur wants, he knows, but he's hoping for another kiss more than anything else.

Merlin reaches down between them, guides Arthur's thick, straining arousal against his own and closes his hand around both of them, groaning as Arthur's body arches above his, pushing into his hand.

He rolls them over, pulling Merlin on top of him, his hands ghosting down behind Merlin's knees to spread them wide over his hips, palm sliding up, fingers pressing in gently behind his sac like an invitation to something more, something breathtaking and dangerous.

Merlin gasps as Arthur pushes against that untouched part of him, one slippery fingertip working its way just inside his clenching, clinging arse. Merlin arches and pants, his head thrown back, chin kissed and bitten as he settles into the feeling of even this small bit of Arthur inside him. It feels so much larger than what it is, feels like they're completely connected, like Arthur is a part of him more than he ever has been before.

Merlin wants to scream and beg for him, all of him, wants to know exactly how to please Arthur, wants to give him everything, but he just doesn't know how.

"Have you ever…" Arthur whispers against his ear, the finger inside him slipping deeper, rubbing hard and steadily in and out. "Has anyone been inside you?" The words are like fire shooting from Arthur's lips straight down Merlin's spine and into his cock.

He shakes his head, breathes out, "No," closing his eyes as Arthur pulls back.

"Good." Arthur kisses him softly, gently, his tongue slipping along Merlin's, finger twisting and pressing in further, Merlin's cock jumping against Arthur's between their flexing stomachs.

He opens his hand and presses Arthur's arousal against his own slippery groin, moan blending with Arthur's as he angles his hips and slides against Merlin's skin like he can't get enough of it.

The scent of them, of their clean sweat and the mint ointment and the soothing, cool lotion combines into something undeniably intoxicating, Merlin's head swimming with desire, more now, with the slick rhythm of Arthur's cock against his skin and the thick, sure finger stretching him, slipping from him. Arthur adds another finger beside the first, gliding them back inside his body. It feels like too much and not enough at once, his body wracking with shudders as Arthur touches something deep inside him that sets off sparks of indescribably pleasure over his entire body.

He cries out into their kiss, Arthur's lips and tongue working against his own as he begins to brush steadily across the white-hot bundle of nerves over and over. The motion of their bodies as they rock together feels as if Merlin is being taken, taken even more thoroughly than he truly is.

And he wants that, Gods, yes, he wants it, but they've done more already than he's ever dared to even let himself fantasize about. Fear of the unknown skitters alongside his desire, making him shy away from the idea even as he aches for it. He tamps it down - fear doesn't matter, nothing matters but Arthur and if he only gets one chance, one night, he will take all Arthur is willing to give him.

Merlin pulls on his shoulders, turns them so Arthur's back over top him, the hand between his legs pulling away only long enough for them to settle together again, his thighs spread open, one knee bent to make room for Arthur's warm leg and the fingers that quickly slide back inside him, filling him. He tilts his head back, Arthur's lips trailing over his jaw, teeth grazing his earlobe, the moan soft and silky against his skin as Merlin whispers his confession.

"I want you inside me." The words send chills along his spine as they hang in the air between them, they're so completely raw.

Arthur groans softly against his skin and kisses behind his ear.

"Do you... what do you want?" he asks, urging Arthur to look at him.

Arthur pushes up, cupping his face, thumb rubbing over his cheekbone. "This. You," he whispers, leaning back down for a kiss, hips quickening their pace, Merlin's own cock aching deliciously as it throbs with sensation, ready to spill. He grits his teeth and holds on, desperate for it to last.

He moans and wraps his arms around Arthur, holding him tightly and rocking his hips up to meet each thrust, then down onto the rhythmic slide of Arthur's fingers deep inside him. His tongue slips along Arthur's, daring to sweep inside as their moans fill the space around them and Merlin arches up on the next hard push of Arthur's fingers inside him.

They still their thrusting as Merlin shatters, groaning and panting, shuddering against the warm skin and hard, strong body above him. Arthur's lips slide to his jaw, his throat, then take his mouth again, hard and Merlin can't breathe, will maybe never breathe again and doesn't care as long as Arthur doesn't stop.

Arthur's fingers slip from his body in a slow, gentle glide, swirling against his entrance as if promising to return and he sighs into their kiss, clinging to Arthur. He shifts his legs so both of Arthur's thighs slip between his own. Wrapping his arms around Arthur, hands spread wide on the small of his back, Merlin deepens the kiss, arches against him and pulls him in, pulls him closer. He rocks his hips up to meet each of the sharp, strong thrusts against his stomach and shivers as Arthur's cock slides all the way up, flush alongside his own, slicking its way in his come.

He groans into their kiss and pulls his mouth away, looking down between them, seeing their cocks lined up together, moving and sliding and he's so aroused, so completely hot that his cock is still swelled and dark. Arthur's temple presses against his own and they're both looking, both seeing the wet, fast slide of them together. Merlin arches beneath him, head tilted back, one hand reaching down to clasp a handful of arse and pull Arthur harder against him, the other sliding roughly into Arthur's hair. The pace of their thrusting doubles as Arthur buries his face in Merlin's neck, slamming forcefully against him and Arthur cries out against Merlin's skin, hips jerking in release, spilling hot and slick over Merlin's belly.

He closes his eyes and locks as much of the moment into his memory as he can.

The air around them is almost hazy with heat, with the scent of them, and their skin slips together, slick with sweat and Merlin's come. They breathe as if they'd been racing each other on the paddock or been at weapons work for hours. Beneath Merlin's hypersensitive skin, the blankets are smooth and soft, a stark contrast to Arthur's unshaven cheek against Merlin's throat.

He lifts his fingers to touch the stubble there, the pads of his fingertips tingling as he memorizes the feel of it. Arthur is heavy and pliant on top of him, lips pressing softly against Merlin's sunburned neck, breath panting hotly on his shoulder.

Merlin stays very still, not quite relaxed but not quite tense, as though with the strength of his release, he can't be one or the other. He wouldn't choose either right now.

He feels exactly perfect.

Their scents swirl together – sex, sweat, breath, the ointments - and Merlin inhales deeply, determined to remember it. When Arthur pushes up away from him, Merlin keeps his eyes closed, half convinced when he opens them again, it will be to find himself alone.

Fingertips trace his hairline and he turns his face into the touch, so grateful for all it tells him. There aren't words for this moment, not for him to say or to hear - maybe that was why Arthur had held him for so long.

Arthur kisses him slowly, in no hurry at all this time, the mouth on his drifting through the kiss as if the world has stopped just to make time for it.

When Arthur pulls away again and Merlin opens his eyes, the prince is smiling down at him. "You've undone all your hard work. My thighs are killing me."

Merlin smiles, he can't help it, he smiles like a fool, then laughs. He slaps Arthur's arm and starts to shove him off. "Turn over, then. I'll get the ointment."

A hand closes on his wrist and he stops, one leg already over the side of the bed. Arthur doesn't say anything, just stares at him, his eyes so full of emotion it's hard to look at, but Merlin can't tear his eyes away.

When Arthur's lips finally quirk up in a half-smile, Merlin leans down and takes another kiss, lying back down, one hand rubbing up and down on the back of Arthur thigh.

Somehow he thinks the ointment can wait. After all, they're neither one expected anywhere until morning.

~ finis

beta by _makeachange, who fell asleep with this fic at 3am and woke up to finish betaing this morning - how awesome is that?

Feedback is always greatly appreciated!