Being the Prince's manservant, Merlin is in frequent attendance when the Knights of Camelot are training. Fetching weapons, handing over towels and cups of water, and sometimes standing in for the practice dummy are all a part of Merlin's duties. Becoming the Prince's lover makes his attendance a veritable requirement. Not that Merlin minds as he gets to unabashedly ogle Arthur during training and Arthur is not at all subtle about showing off when Merlin is watching. He preens, makes jokes and laughs, his head thrown back and his hair shining. Leon just shakes his head and chuckles whenever he looks over and sees Merlin grinning like a besotted fool from the sidelines and the other Knights are too afraid of offending Arthur to pass any remarks. Watching the Knights' train becomes something that Merlin actually enjoys, even on the swelteringly hot days; watching Arthur swing a sword around, topless and glistening with sweat is definitely something that Merlin is OK with. Yea, Knights training is definitely one of his favorite "duties."
And things only get better after Gwaine and the others are knighted.
After they return to Camelot, Merlin has to split his time on the training field between squiring for Percival, Elyan, Lancelot, Gwaine, and Arthur. He's run a bit ragged but he doesn't mind because he'd grown close to them all during the Siege and the following weeks of reconstruction. Once things have settled down and the Knights are actually back to proper training again, he volunteers to squire for them until they can all find squires of their own. Arthur is behind the idea from the start and makes a point of assigning Merlin's other duties to different servants when he sees that Merlin is getting tired. Knights' training is even more enjoyable for Merlin with all of them together. Arthur is laughing again for the first time since the Siege and Merlin has Lancelot and Gwaine around all the time to talk to. Things are really good.
Until Arthur starts acting strangely.
It's no secret to anyone who has met him that Gwaine is a bit of a flirt and a charmer. He has a wink and a sly grin more every lady in Camelot and almost every man as well. So when he hands Gwaine a cup of water during training and Gwaine tweaks his ear and winks, Merlin just bats his hand away and laughs because Gwaine will never ever change and Merlin's glad to have him around. He takes the cup from Gwaine and turns to refill it when he catches sight of Arthur. Arthur's mouth is a thin line and he's staring daggers at the back of Gwaine's head. Merlin waves to catch his eye and Arthur just looks at him with this look and then turns back to the other Knights.
"I usually love a man who plays hard to get but I'm going to die of thirst here, Merlin and I know how much you'd miss me," Gwaine says, leaning against the weapons rack and reaching out to give Merlin's hair a quick tug.
He hands the cup back to Gwaine and waits while Gwaine downs the lot. Gwaine finishes with a flourish that has stray droplets of water sprinkling on Merlin's face.
"Haha sorry, my friend. I think I got you there," Gwaine chuckles, swiping his thumb across Merlin's cheekbone. He laps the stray drop up with his tongue and gives Merlin another wink before hefting his sword and striding back onto the field. Shaking his head in amusement, Merlin turns to set the cup down and sees Arthur looking at him again with the same intense expression as before. Merlin looks at him quizzically and the Prince just averts his eyes and walks further onto the training field, his back ramrod straight.
Arthur strides off the training field and makes a beeline for the castle as soon as he dismisses the Knights and Merlin is left behind to take all of Arthur's things to the armory for cleaning. Luckily, Elyan volunteers to hammer out the dents in the rest of their armor so Merlin only has to worry about sharpening four extra swords. Gwaine helps him carry it all to the armory and they talk the whole way, stopping only once so that Gwaine can laugh good-naturedly while Merlin recollects all of the armor when he stumbles and drops everything. When they get to the armory, Gwaine tries to convince him to just leave everything and come out to the tavern with them.
"Princess can deal with not having perfectly shining armor for one day."
He keeps on for a bit, promising to teach Merlin bawdy songs to sing loudly in the mornings when Arthur doesn't want to get up, but Merlin just laughs and declines and eventually Gwaine gives up and is gone with a grin and a swish of long brown hair. Alone, Merlin decides to sharpen the five swords first and take the armor up to Arthur's chambers so he can clean it there.
When he gets to Gwaine's blade, his mind flashes back on that moment on the training field and the look that Arthur had given him. He puzzles over it as he sharpens the next two and by the time he finishes sharpening Arthur's, he's smirking to himself.
He finishes up with Arthur's sword, lines the others up on the weapons rack, and gathers up Arthur's armor and the satchel of cleaning supplies before leaving the armory. As he walks through the castle, he can't help grinning to himself at the prospect of teasing Arthur mercilessly for being a jealous prat. When he nears Arthur's chambers, he shifts the armor to one side so that he can open the door and practically bounces inside, already talking before he's fully inside.
"You know, I'm so glad Gwaine is a Knight now. I really love having him around all the time," he says as he turns to close the door, making sure to exaggerate his words as much as he can. "He invited me to go to the tav—"
Merlin's words catch in his through and he barely keeps his grip on all of the armor when he turns around and sees Arthur watching him. The Prince is sat in his favorite chair, a plate of food on the table beside him and a goblet of wide in his hand, and he's giving Merlin that look again. A maid has probably been up because there is a fire roaring in the fireplace and the light catches the damp hair that curls behind Arthur's ear.
A maid has definitely been up. He's had a bath already.
Arthur is already dressed in his sleep clothes, the neck of his nightshirt slightly damp where the water slips out of his hair and drips down on it and if anyone else came in, it would just look like the Prince is relaxing before bed. But Merlin can see the tense set of Arthur's shoulders and he has to restrain his shudder when he meets Arthur's eyes again and Arthur inclines his head slightly, considering him anew.
"Put those down and come here, Merlin."
Merlin readjusts his grip in the armor and walks over to the table to put it down. He tries to keep eye contact with Arthur but he has to look away to make sure he doesn't put the pieces down on Arthur's food. Even so, he can still feel Arthur's gaze on him and when he's finished arranging them on the table, he shouldn't be surprised that Arthur is still looking at him but his heartbeat trips for a moment and then speeds up.
Now that he's closer Merlin can see how dark Arthur's eyes are as he watching him. And he knows those eyes. He's spent enough time in Arthur's bed to know what it means when Arthur's eyes turn dark that way and it sets him trembling
"Come here, Merlin."
When Arthur speaks again his voice is the same even tone as before. It doesn't give anything away and Merlin's pulse is racing with excitement now as he moves to stand in front of Arthur's chair. Arthur tips his head back and looks him over slowly, his gaze heavy and lingering and it makes Merlin want to squirm. He's just about to ask what Arthur wants when he's spun around and pulled down to sit on Arthur's lap. Now he squirms and one of Arthur's arms comes across him to hold him back against Arthur's chest while a hand settles on his hip to hold him still.
"What was Gwaine saying to you this afternoon?"
This time Arthur's voice isn't so calm and Merlin is emboldened against by the hint of aggression he hears. He doesn't answer for a moment and Arthur's grip on his waist tightens. Merlin smiles.
"He was asking me how much I'd miss him if died. I said I'd never stop mourning him," Merlin says, adopting his most flirtatious tone, talking about Gwaine like he's the greatest thing there ever was. He's never said anything of the sort to Gwaine but he hopes it will get a rise out of Arthur and he isn't disappointed. Arthur's whole body tenses behind him and Merlin feels rather than hears the barely contained growl that emanates from Arthur's chest.
"I don't like him touching you. I don't even want him near you," Arthur says, his hand tugging Merlin's tunic out of his belt so that Arthur can get at the bare skin underneath. "I don't like the way he looks at you," he grits out and Merlin can practically feel the jealousy rolling off of him in waves.
"How does he look at me," Merlin asks, all faux-innocence and wide eyes even though Arthur can't see his face. It's a stark contrast to what he feels right at that moment. Under his skin, it's all heat and jitters and want and his breeches feel like there isn't enough fabric. His cock is hard, ridiculously so, it has been since he walked through the door and the feel of Arthur's pressed tight against his arse is delicious.
"You know how he looks at you," Arthur forces out, relinquishing his hold on Merlin so he can fist a hand in his hair and pull his head back, exposing his neck. "He looks at you like he wants to touch you, like he wants to see you undressed, and I can't stand it," he growls, nosing along the pale expanse of Merlin's neck. The slight stubble on his face sets Merlin's skin on fire and he knows it's leaving behind angry red splotches that his neckerchief won't be able to hide but he doesn't care. The realization of how much he wants Arthur's marks on him pools hot in his belly and ignites him from the inside out; he's vibrating with it and he wants.
"He acts like he doesn't know you're mine," Arthur says, the hand on Merlin's chest moving down to tear at the laces on Merlin's breeches. When he gets them open, he brings the hand up to Merlin's face and forces three fingers into Merlin's panting mouth. While Merlin laves Arthur's fingers with his tongue, Arthur latches onto Merlin's neck, sucking a deep bruise into his skin and Merlin will never be able to hide it. Merlin grinds his hips against Arthur's lap and Arthur just groans, pulling his fingers free and replacing them with his tongue. His breath comes out fast and ragged against Merlin's cheek as he plunders Merlin's mouth, sucking on his tongue and nipping his lips until they're puffy and wet and shining in the firelight.
When Arthur takes him in hand, Merlin just whimpers and goes boneless against him, relaxing into Arthur's body, his thighs spread wide. Arthur isn't slow or gentle; he's just as aroused as Merlin and the fire in his veins makes his set up a ruthless pace. He fists Merlin's cock hard and fast and his fist is tight and just shy of being too dry and it's so good that Merlin doesn't bother to hold on. He just shakes apart right there in Arthur's lap, his cries muffled by Arthur's lips and his toes curled tight in his boots. Arthur doesn't stop fisting his cock until Merlin is whimpering into his mouth and pushing his hand away.
Arthur stands suddenly and Merlin just slips off of his lap, boneless as a rag doll. Arthur's hand is still fisted in Merlin's hair and the other is covered in Merlin's come. Merlin opens his mouth and starts to lap at Arthur's fingers, sucking each of them into his mouth and licking them clean. He gazes up at Arthur and Arthur is just staring down at him with his lips slightly parting, looking at Merlin like he wants to keep him there forever.
"Look at you. You're so- God, Merlin," Arthur breathes out and his eyes are almost black with his arousal now. He pulls his fingers free of Merlin's mouth and smears the traces of spit and come all over Merlin's cheeks. He's looking at Merlin with that same stare again and Merlin finally knows what Arthur wants now because he wants it too. Merlin presses his face forward into Arthur's crotch and rubs the hard line of Arthur's cock with his cheek.
"Do it," he whispers, pulling back when he feels Arthur's thighs trembling.
Arthur's free hand tears at his laces and Merlin brings his hands up to help. When his cock is free, Arthur leans down and licks a hot wet line across Merlin's cheek and then spits on his hand and slicks his cock up. He grips Merlin's hair tighter and pulls his head back and Merlin just goes, closing his eyes and groaning when he feels Arthur start to thrust hot and slick against his cheek. Arthur's pace is just as frantic as before and it doesn't take long before he's painting Merlin's face with liquid heat, his grip on Merlin's hair tightening so much that tears prick Merlin's eyes. Merlin feels Arthur's cock pulsing again and again over his skin and he feels Arthur's release where in lands in his hair, on his forehead, across the bridge of his nose, and where it starts to run down across his lips.
He opens his eyes tentatively and sees Arthur gazing down on him, his chest heaving as he tries to catch his breath. Keeping their gazes locked, Merlin opens his mouth and darts his tongue out to lick away the come that is painting his lips. Arthur releases his grip on Merlin's hair and runs his thumb along Merlin's bottom lip, smearing his come across Merlin's mouth.