Disclaimer: Don't own Merlin.
Sequel to: Master And Lover
A/N: It amuses me how Master & Slave was only supposed to be a oneshot...and yet it has somehow taken on a life of its own and spawned a series.
A/N2: This story touches on one of the many legends of Merlin's conception...but with my own twist to it!
Warning: Somehow something similar to plot has occurred.
It'd taken them less than a year to decimate Camelot and its allies, snuffing out their forces brutally until it was more than obvious that until the return of Prince Arthur the Mercians hadn't been giving the war all they'd had. But after news of Camelot's dirty schemes spread, the soldiers had been pissed, the Mercian armies scandalized by such a lowlife way of trying to win a war when loss on the battlefield should be the only true way of victory. And while no one ever dared say it to his face, or say it at all, everyone knew that Merlin hadn't been in the war with all his might until that moment either.
The young sorcerer had always been against the war, dreaming of ways to end the conflict as bloodlessly as possible, but after what Arthur and Camelot had done to him something had changed in him. He was dedicated to the war, the sole creator of new spells which would help the cause-no matter the casualties. As King Bayard's Favored One, and due to the many great displays of power, Merlin had always been deeply respected by the Mercians and by the Court in particular...but now they all seemed to worship him and what he'd heard referred to more than once as his 'godlike powers'. If there was something that Mercians treasured, it was strength and power, and he had both.
He also had an advantage.
Arthur would have told the court about him and his power, so now that they thought he was dead...for no human would have ever survived the spell Nimueh had cast on Merlin...Merlin had taken upon the name his mother had given him. Emrys. Unlike before he led his own group of sorcerer warriors, always wearing a mask to hide his identity, and by the end of the day another victory would be alloted the Mercians over Camelot and her allies.
He sometimes heard his name whispered amongst others at taverns in fear and awe.
Emrys, the King's Sword.
It hadn't come as a surprise to Merlin that Camelot had, after being crippled due to its never-ending vicious defeats on the battlefield, asked for a meeting to discuss a peace treaty. What had surprised the sorcerer was just how quickly they'd managed to swallow their pride and do so. He also admitted to being somewhat disappointed as he had yet to fully vent his anger and frustration, but he kept himself alert as they traveled to Camelot to discuss this peace treaty. Hopefully this was some sort of a trap so he would have the excuse to pulverize the castle from within. That would help his mood considerably.
The thought of seeing Arthur again was enough to cause him to grind his teeth in fury and clench his fists to keep from doing something vicious. He knew that he couldn't attack and kill the prince on sight as he many times daydreamed, and that annoyed him, but King Bayard had let the Court Sorcerer know that he was to be on his best behavior. Apparently there were rumors that the king's illegitimate daughter by his mistress, the beautiful Lady Morgana, was going to be offered to Bayard as a way of permanently aligning the countries and keeping war from ever breaking out between them again.
If Camelot was that desperate, King Bayard wanted to see them wriggle and beg...and Merlin did too...so he reigned in his anger and spite and prepared himself for what was about to happen.
He still wasn't sure if he would let those from Camelot know he still lived, toyed with the idea of transforming himself to look differently...but there was just something viciously satisfying in the thought of throwing back in their face how their High Priestess of the Old Religion hadn't even left a scratch on him.
"If this is a trap to get us in their territory so they can kill us...I pity them." Bayard announced with an amused expression as he and Merlin sat within the royal carriage, soon to finally end their long voyage and arrive at the castle at nightfall.
They'd purposely made the trip from castle to castle as slow as possibly, as they didn't really care and wanted to make the others squirm for a while.
To be truthful, Merlin knew that Bayard really wasn't contemplating peace. He wanted Camelot, always had, as it bordered his lands. The fact that victory was almost certain to him now-which even Camelot must realize if their new tactics were anything to go by-only made Bayard more obsessed with the thought of 'acquiring' Camelot and joining it to Mercia, making his realm even greater than it already was.
The only reason he was playing along was most definitely the rumors of Lady Morgana's unsurpassable beauty.
King Bayard had loved his wife whilst she lived, and she had been known to be the most beautiful woman alive. But other than beauty, Bayard had a weakness for cunning, slyness with a dash of devilry...which was probably why he was so fond of Merlin...and Queen Marguerite had been the slyest, most devilish woman to have ever lived. Upon her deathbed she'd made her grieving husband promise that he would never marry a woman less beautiful, cunning, or ruthless than her.
Considering that no other woman existed, King Bayard had kept his promise and remained unmarried despite the pressure from court to produce an heir. But now, with word of Lady Morgana's unearthly beauty, he was curious enough to venture from the safety of his own castle to enter the lion's den so to speak, and see this lady for himself. He admitted to Merlin that while she might miraculously live up to Marguerite's standards of beauty he had very little expectation for her to be a quarter of the devil his wife had been. This trip was merely being made because winning battle after battle was a little boring and he wanted to switch things up a bit before he got stuck in a rut.
"What if Lady Morgana does in fact live up to the late Queen's devilry?" Merlin chanced the questions no one else would dare ask.
King Bayard scoffed. "I doubt that's possible."
"And yet, what if she does?" The King's Sword wanted to know, leaning forwards. "What if she is as beautiful and...spirited...as your late queen?"
King Bayard frowned. "I hadn't really considered it as a possibility." His eyes narrowed. "I would have to go through with it...for I doubt I'd find another like her in my lifetime and I severely need an heir."
"So you would make peace with Camelot?" Merlin made a face at that.
The older man scoffed. "Of course not."
Merlin tilted his head. "But if you marry a daughter of Camelot-."
"If she is half the woman my Marguerite was, she'll be instigating me to cut down that old windbag of her father so she can be queen of a larger realm." King Bayard assured, smiling with a sigh of nostalgia as he remembered his beloved wife. "My Marguerite was devious and capricious."
"Forgive me, my king, but I can understand why Mercians enjoy pain." Merlin couldn't keep his lips from twitching in amusement. "Their kings have quite a history of seeming quite fond of suffering...especially from their spouses."
"Such sweet sorrow." Bayard had to admit, smile friendly, before it melted away as he cleared his throat. "Have you decided whether you will be revealing the true identity of The King's Sword?"
Merlin flinched, looking out of the carriage's window. "I'm not sure." He paused for a moment. "It would truly unsettle them all, to realize that I live." He smiled at the thought. "They'd either start to doubt Nimueh's loyalty, or the true strength of her powers..." he pursed his lips in contemplation. "Or they'd realize that I'm not human."
"You're half human." Bayard replied stuffily. "And the half of you who is human is Mercian thanks to your father, so you're my subject, bound to what I say. And I say you're human."
Merlin's lips twitched once more, yet this time with fondness for the man who'd taken him in despite what his mother was, and had made sure he was trained and treated well. While others would have scorned the 'devil's child' if they'd known about his mother, especially after his father's death when he was left to care for himself, the King (one of the only people who did know the truth of Merlin's heritage) had been civil and had given him a future...and Merlin had always known he'd grow up to serve Bayard. The king had looked past Merlin's mother, and had seen the greatness the child could possess, and Merlin would never be able to repay him for the kindness shown to him when he'd been a scared, lonely child. He'd given his magical, unbreakable oath to use his magic to serve Bayard to the day the king died, and he strived to make sure that his guardian died a peaceful death of old age, surrounded by loved ones.
"Merlin..." Bayard cleared his throat. "You know that I believe in giving you as much independence and freedom to choose what you do with your personal life...but I...I've known you since you weren't taller than my hip and as your self-appointed guardian and king I feel the need to express my concerns over your...solitude."
Merlin frowned. "My King..."
"It's not just about how you've been since what that princeling did to you." Bayard interrupted, eyebrow raised. "You've always been a solitary creature. First your father kept you apart from the rest of the world in fear that they would realize that you were more than just an incredible sorcerer...and then while in my care your powers astounded all and they tended to put you in a pedestal, were too intimidated by the power you held in your hands to try befriend you."
The young yet godly powerful warlock sighed, ducking his gaze, letting his king continue.
"It's why I gave you that princeling unknowingly. He was beautiful, and you needed a companion." The King continued. "You've had lovers, yes, but you have never been serious with any of them. I wanted you to feel what it was like to have a companion, a constant companion...and despite my good intentions I only ended up hurting you. And for that I am sorry."
"It's not your fault!" Merlin looked up at his father figure, eyes wide. "No one could have guessed the depths of Camelot's schemes."
"I am reluctant to admit it, but it was an impressive scheme." Bayard admitted, shaking his head. "I never would have thought Uther would risk his heir's safety like that...but I suppose they realized that and used it against us."
Merlin's gaze went out of the window once more.
"What I am trying to say, Merlin," Bayard continued. "Is that you need to take a companion, a lover. One of your own choosing. It matters not who it is, as long as you do. You cannot allow that princeling to ruin the good that came out of your brief time together." He smiled sadly. "For a moment in time, you were a different, happier, Merlin."
The sorcerer turned to look at his king, touched speechless by the obvious emotion in that face and voice.
"I want to see that Merlin again." The Mercian monarch demanded. "See to it that he returns."
The younger male just looked at his father-figure and smiled softly, nodding. "I will work on it as soon as we return to Mercia."
"Good boy." Bayard smiled, absolutely pleased. "And if this Lady Morgana performs a miracle and lives up to my Marguerite's standards, you should broaden your horizons to Camelot as well..." He grinned evilly. "It will be Mercia's either way."
Merlin smiled a little viciously, nodding. "Yes, my lord."
"Good boy." The king nodded, before suddenly bringing his hand to his chest in a wince.
Merlin frowned, worried. "My king?"
"It is nothing." Bayard insisted, raising his hand to stop Merlin from coming to sit next to him. "Just a little excitement, that is all."
"Don't think I haven't noticed you do this previously." Merlin murmured.
"I am fine Merlin." Bayard opened his eyes and took in a deep breath, chin raised. "Now as your king I demand you drop the subject."
His oath kept his unable from disobeying any direct command from the king, so Merlin nodded silently, letting the issue die despite his worry.
Merlin's gaze went out of the window, still debating how he was going to handle The King Sword identity, and considering that he still wasn't sure by the time they arrived at the castle he magicked a mask of shadows against his skin. He wore his blackest cloak, hood over his head, enchanting his eyes so that they glowed a light red from deep within the shadows, giving him that ominous, monstrous look others whispered about. It didn't exactly mean that he wasn't going to reveal his identity later on, but for now he preferred the anonymity the mask gave him. His emotions warred inside of him as he followed his King into the throne room, where Uther and his Queen sat upon their thrones, Nimueh standing at Igraine's side and...and Arthur standing at his father's.
It took Merlin all he had inside of him to keep from faltering as his gaze fell upon Arthur, who was dressed up in all the regalia of a prince, face blank. But somehow the sorcerer was able to do so, walking only a step behind his king, proving to all his high position in the court.
"Welcome to Camelot, King Bayard." King Uther stood from his throne, motioning towards another throne and set of regal seats that'd been arranged for them. "Please, sit, you have come from far and must be tired."
King Bayard turned to Merlin and raised an eyebrow.
Nodding, knowing that this was the part where they demonstrated the immense power Merlin possessed, warning the King without words that they weren't to be fooled with and were not vulnerable despite being in the enemy's camp. The sorcerer raised his hand, palm extending towards the guest throne and seating, his magic transforming them into versions of themselves that were even grander than the ones Uther and his wife sat upon. It was a clear affront, letting the King know that they were the ones with the true power in this situation, and a reminder so that the monarchs didn't forget it.
Feeling an angered glare on him as he escorted Bayard to the throne, Merlin sent a discreet glance at the Camelot monarchs.
Arthur's face was blank, but his eyes were dark and furious and filled with hate.
For a moment Merlin wondered if Arthur knew who he was, and that made him smirk slightly evilly at the thought, but then he realized that the hatred in those blue eyes wasn't a personal hatred from someone who knew you. No. The hatred Arthur had for him was the hatred he'd have for the faceless King's Sword who'd decimated so many of Camelot's troops and singlehandedly was behind the fall of Camelot...the reason why they had to humble themselves the way they were now.
That smirk grew on Merlin's face as he took his place standing next to his king.
He allowed his gaze to go to Nimueh, the witch who'd tried unsuccessfully to kill him. This was the first time he'd really had a good look at her, and it wasn't because because of his hatred towards her and her alliance...but he felt a little disappointed. Somehow he'd expected the High Priestess of the Old Religion to be a little more...something.
"Emrys, my Court Sorcerer and Right Hand." King Bayard announced, answering something King Uther had said. "Prince Arthur knew the man he replaced. So did your High Priestess."
The barb to their past was fierce and stung, Merlin noticed the way both Arthur and Nimueh flinched at the reminder of the assassination they didn't know had been unsuccessful.
The King's Sword didn't speak, didn't even truly listen to the conversations between the monarchs, didn't pay attention to the entertainment, didn't partake of the food. His eyes were forever vigilant, expecting an attack in any form, watchful on the food tasters should they collapse due to poison if something had been slipped into their food or drink. The issue of their peace treaty wasn't brought up that night, instead public relations and entertainment.
Merlin felt eyes on him, and it made him uneasy, expecting an attack any moment...and yet he traced the stare to a young male in the crowds. He looked around sixteen, with dark hair and intense blue eyes that were trained on Merlin. The older male could sense the magic coming from this one, it seemed like that of a druid, earthly and natural. It was said that Uther's mistress was a druid and that was why he had such strong ties with them, apprenticing many of their strongest sons in Camelot.
'Emrys.' A voice whispered in his head, those eyes meeting his.
Merlin raised an eyebrow, admittedly impressed that the boy had been able to get around the barrier he'd placed in his mind. Sure, it hadn't been a particularly strong one, but others hadn't managed to break through until tonight.
'My people have prophecies of you.'
He didn't answer, looking away, feigning disinterest should this be some sort of trick or trap.
But he had to admit that he was intrigued, and whenever his gaze found the boy he was watching him.
Apparently, he wasn't the only one who noticed this, as when he escorted the King to his quarters later that night, sensing the whole area for any magical traps, Bayard made mention of it.
"He was cute, don't you think?" The King smirked, his man servant beginning to disrobe him. "Young and nubile and clearly in awe of Emrys the King's Sword."
"He's a druid." Merlin mumbled, satisfied to not find any magical weavings anywhere, setting up his own protections around this room and his king. "If Camelot's non-magical sons are crafty and have no honor as to how they fight or win, I want nothing to do with their magically inclined ones."
"Well, when I make this kingdom mine, I'll give him to you." King Bayard decided.
Merlin snorted. "Because that did not end in tragedy last time."
The king made a face and threw himself on the bed. "I'd hope that my taste for your men wouldn't be so horrible as to choose two disasters."
Merlin couldn't help but smirk. "You shouldn't have a taste for my men, my king. Let me choose them."
"Him." King Bayard reminded. "I want you to settle down, remember that."
Merlin smirked deeper, amused. "Yes, my king."
"Good. Good." Bayard shooed him away. "Now go, we have a big day ahead of us tomorrow."
Merlin nodded and bowed, leaving the room.
He needed his rest.
Tomorrow would be yet another challenge.
The introduction of Lady Morgana to King Bayard was not as subtle as Merlin thought it could have been. The beautiful woman, with shimmering black hair and deep blue eyes had been placed as their guide the next day, along with her brother. Merlin couldn't help but hesitate a moment when he discovered that the druid boy from the night before was her brother, and also King Uther's illegitimate son by his druid mistress. Mordred, for that was his name, was Arthur's brother as well, and while one might think that made him a possible heir to the throne apparently King Uther's mistress had signed an agreement that forfeited any claims to the throne of any male children she might conceive during their union might have, so that left Mordred without the right to claim. Merlin wondered how the boy felt about that, and wondered if they could use it against King Uther in the future. He'd have to talk about this later with his king.
King Bayard and Lady Morgana walked ahead, arm in arm, conversing quite friendly to each other, while Merlin and Mordred were relegated to the back, acting as chaperones.
"Did you know the Prince, while he was in Mercia?" Mordred finally spoke, sending him a sideways glance.
"I didn't know him." Merlin replied because while he might have thought once that he had, he truly hadn't known Arthur. "I saw him, but know him? No."
"Did you know of this Merlin? The one who was his master?" Mordred wanted to know. "It must be an incredible man to have forced the prince to submit so fully. No one speaks about it, not really, but we've heard the rumors."
Still wearing his shadowy disguise, Merlin raised an eyebrow. "Rumors."
"That the prince wasn't exactly forced." Mordred replied easily. "So the man the prince would submit to intrigues me. Even if he's dead."
"We don't speak about him. He's dead and gone." The sorcerer replied curtly. "You have your Prince and High Priestess to thank for that."
"I'm sure you're not exactly crying tears of sadness over his death." Another voice announced, hostility deep in his tone, as Prince Arthur appeared from one of the hallways. "You quickly appeared and took his place as the Court Sorcerer."
"Prince Arthur." Mordred bowed his head.
Arthur sneered at Mordred before turning his dark eyes on Merlin once more. "So you're the famed King's Sword, the Butcher of Mercia, the Devil's Hound."
"Devil's Hound?" Merlin smirked, glad that the spell changed his voice slightly. "That's a new one. I hadn't heard of that one as yet." His smirk grew. "I like it."
Arthur nearly snarled. "I'll have you know that I don't care about father and his ideas, the thought of aligning our houses sickens me to the bone."
Merlin sneered, taking a menacing step forwards. "You seem to forget your place, young Prince. Everyone in Mercia knows it, and I'm sure many in Camelot already know as well. You place is on your knees with your arse in the air."
Fury blazed through Arthur's eyes as his clenched fists trembled. "You dare insult me in my own kingdom?" His voice lowered dangerously. "Do you wish to die, Court Sorcerer?"
"Not particularly, as I'm sure you don't either." He replied coolly. "But not everyone gets their wish of a peaceful death. We should ask Merlin about it. But we cannot, thanks to you and your little Priestess."
That clenched fist trembled harder, Arthur's voice going hoarse. "You don't know what you're talking about. You don't know anything!"
"Prince Arthur!" Lady Morgana snapped from ahead, both her and King Bayard having turned around at the sound of his escalating voice.
Arthur flinched, yet refused to look away from Merlin. "I detest you."
Merlin chuckled darkly. "I already knew that."
Arthur's eyes narrowed in confusion for a split second before filling with fury once more.
"Is everything alright here, Emrys?" Bayard made his way towards him, purposely ignoring the prince's presence.
"Of course, My King." Merlin smiled, giving his monarch a respectful bow of the head.
"King Bayard." Arthur turned to the older man. "If we are to believe that your desires for peace are genuine, I believe it counterproductive of you to have your...Sorcerer...hidden so. How are we to trust if we have yet to see his face."
"Prince Arthur." Lady Morgana glared at him warningly, which kinda shocked Merlin because as the mistress' daughter he would have thought her so much more below Arthur in status that she wouldn't be allowed to speak to him so disapprovingly.
Then again, she like the others knew that their only hope was in Bayard falling into their trap and marrying her, securing an alliance.
"Now you listen here you little..." Bayard began, obviously having had it with the prince.
"My Liege," Merlin placed a hand on Bayard's shoulder. "The boy prince brings forth a credible accusation, we have nothing to hide."
King Bayard eyed Merlin before nodding, giving his consent.
Whispering the spell to remove the shadow-mask, Merlin didn't hesitate before reaching up and lowering the hood from his head, revealing his face for the first time in a very long time.
A dark hush fell over them before Lady Morgana broke it. "You are very young, Court Sorcerer."
Mordred just eyed him silently.
"Merlin?" Arthur whispered, voice hoarse and disbelieving, like that of a hurt child. His face had gone ashen, his expression shocked and confused.
Merlin sneered, raising an eyebrow at the prince before giving a mockery of a bow, disgust obvious on his face. "Your Highness."
Arthur flinched at the pet name Merlin had once had at him, eyes filling with tears, proving once more how good he was at putting on a show. "How-? I-I thought you were-."
"Dead?" Merlin's lips curled in an ugly smile. "Obviously your High Priestess isn't as powerful as you gave her credit, especially considering that Camelot's sudden desire for peace with Mercia has nothing to do with the actual desire for it, but the need for it." He took a step towards Arthur, staring down into those eyes he'd once treasured. "Next time you try to kill someone, little prince, make sure you have the right tools to do so."
For a second Arthur just seemed in a trance, and then horror filled his every expression. "Merlin you can't think that I-!"
He reached out for Merlin, but was cut short when the sorcerer viciously slapped his hand away before the prince could touch him.
"Don't presume any familiarity with me, Prince Arthur." Merlin replied coldly, taking a step away from him, sneering in disgust. "The only reason I am here is on orders of my King, and to make sure your kind don't try another underhanded, desperate attempt to try and win this losing battle." His eyes flashed red in his barely concealed fury as finally he was able to confront the person who'd hurt him the most in his whole life. "If it was left to me, you and your whole castle would be in flames."
All around them, unbidden, projections of his words were projected in the air. Images of Camelot destroyed and on fire surrounded them, the screams of the people within echoing with horrifying promise.
Lady Morgana gasped, eyes wide, as she looked around her at the circle of hell that seemed to have enclosed around them.
Mordred didn't visibly react other than to take in the dark scenes being portrayed on his every side.
Arthur, on the other hand, looked sick and pale as he gazed upon the deaths and disaster, before turning to Merlin. "Stop it Merlin. Stop it. This isn't like you!"
The sorcerer didn't react to those words except to curl his lips in an ugly smile, the visions growing in intensity.
"Emrys." King Bayard only said his name, but it was enough for Merlin to regain control of his anger and hurt and fury, disintegrating the nightmares around them, once more without even muttering a word.
"Forgive me, My King." Merlin gave a respectful, half bow to his monarch. "Shall we continue towards the Gardens? You were very interested in seeing the famed Queen's Rose."
King Bayard nodded, offering his arm to Lady Morgana.
The beautiful woman eyed him shrewdly before nodding, sending a sideways glance in Merlin's and Arthur's direction before taking the King's arm and beginning to lead him away, once more falling into conversation with the older man.
Arthur turned to Merlin.
Merlin turned to Mordred, bestowing a suave smile to the younger male, motioning before him.
Mordred eyed him for a second before smirking and turning to Arthur. "By your leave, Prince Arthur." He then turned to Merlin and began leading him away.
Merlin listened halfheartedly to Mordred commenting on a statue they neared, his eyes on the youngest male, yet his attention truly on the blonde they'd left behind, watching them in silence.
Ever since the news of his true identity had leaked into the Camelot court Merlin had noticed that the terrified looks he received doubled. Everyone in the court seemed more terrified of him now than they had when he'd been nothing but a mysterious figure in a cloak and glowing red eyes surrounding by thick darkness. He kept his hood off, not seeing the need to use it anymore, and the rest of the day the young sorcerer was darkly pleased by the whispers and looks of fear. He'd noticed Nimueh watching him at the festive dinner thrown that night, the High Priestess obviously very disturbed and confused. King Uther as well proved very disturbed by this turn of events, and not only did he keep sending Bayard and Merlin worried, pale looks, but his eyes would sometimes narrow on the High Priestess as well, as if beginning to question her competence.
It couldn't be going better.
Arthur must have been trying to intimidate Merlin somehow, or maybe prove that he wasn't intimidated by these turn of events, because all throughout the festivities, entertainment, and food, the young prince never once took his gaze off of Merlin.
The sorcerer never once gazed in the golden youth's direction, but he could feel the weight of that stare. It reminded him of nights in Mercia when he would be awake, going over documents and such at his desk in his room, under the light of his candles. Arthur would sometimes wake up in the bed they shared and spend hours just watching him, thinking he was doing it discreetly, but Arthur's gaze had always been as obvious to Merlin as the blazing sun on a cloudless day. The foolish sorcerer had once thought that it was one of the many subtle 'signs' that Arthur truly felt something for him, but he knew better now.
While Merlin was making plans, trying to figure out how the end the war as peacefully as possible, Arthur had been making plans as well, trying to figure out how to end his life as quickly as possible.
The memory was enough to refuel the hatred that welled deep inside of the sorcerer, as if it'd needed refueling.
Merlin's gaze was never really on the entertainment, keeping an eye on his king, protecting him.
Bayard seemed to realize that Camelot was kissing his arse big time, and was enjoying it greatly.
That made Merlin's lips twist in an amused smile.
Also, Bayard seemed to be growing somewhat fond of the beautiful Lady Morgana, and Merlin wondered if he would grow fond enough before they returned to Mercia to go against his promise to his Queen and take Lady Moraga as wife. No matter how much Merlin tried, he couldn't see King Uther's illegitimate daughter having the capabilities of being as dark and sharp and cut-throat as the late Mercian Queen.
Speaking of Lady Morgana, unlike the rest of Camelot, she and her brother seemed more intrigued with Merlin than terrified.
Ever since the truth of his identity had been revealed to them, Merlin had caught both siblings staring at him, deep in thought. Mordred was more silent than his sister, his expression usually quite blank, making Merlin curious as to what exactly was going through the druid's mind. Lady Morgana on the other hand seemed to quite enjoy whatever it was she was thinking, because throughout the night Merlin caught her eyeing him with a sly tilt of her full, red lips.
He had to admit, he'd always had a preference towards males, but if Lady Morgana hadn't apparently captured his king's attention Merlin would have made it his mission to get to know the beautiful maiden more intimately.
Interestingly enough, despite being feared, from the looks he was receiving, Merlin knew that he could easily find someone to sate himself in tonight.
One he knew would welcome him was young Mordred himself. The boy mightn't have been the most emotional of people, but he was emotive, and Merlin not only sensed the attraction in the youth...but was attracted to the thought of the anger Arthur would feel if Merlin took his younger, half brother.
That was almost enough for him to lean in and whisper an invitation into the druid's ear, but Merlin held back.
Mordred might have been courteous and attentive, but he was from Camelot, and Merlin had no intention of involving himself with anyone from this accursed kingdom.
He'd sooner see it burnt to the ground.
"Lady Morgana and young Mordred both seem very taken with your power." Bayard announced after they retired to his room, expression thoughtful. "And she hasn't truly come out and said anything, but from certain word choices and such, I do believe that she isn't fond of Camelot or the Royal Court."
"She's the daughter of the King's Mistress." Merlin replied, frowning. "Not every wife is accepting of the child of their husband with another woman."
Bayard paused, sending Merlin a look. "Hunith was unable to have children. When Balinor returned with you, the fruit of his infidelity...she happily overlooked the transgression because it gave her you, the child she'd always wanted."
Merlin gulped and looked away. "And yet I've been nothing but pain for her."
"Do not say that." Bayard frowned. "We will find an end to the enchantment over her. You will free her, Merlin."
"Father is already dead." Merlin's gaze went to the window. "For all my godlike power I was unable to save him, or keep the woman I loved as a mother from being cursed and trapped the way she was." He closed his eyes tightly. "It is my fault she was hurt."
"No." Bayard shook his head, coming towards Merlin and placing his hand on his sorcerer's shoulder, squeezing reassuring. "None of this is your fault. You were just a child." He took in a slow breath. "I do not like speaking ill of the dead, but if anyone is at fault, it was your father."
Merlin gulped. "I should have been able to-."
Bayard turned the younger man towards him, making him looking him in the eyes. "Merlin. None of this is your fault. We will win the war. You will grow greater in power. And you will free Hunith from her enchantment." He gave the sorcerer a little shake. "You will. Because you are Merlin Dragonlord, greatest of all sorcerers...and sons." He gave the sorcerer a tender smile. "And I am lucky to call you friend."
Merlin's throat constricted and his eyes watered as he was forced to look away from his king to keep from losing his composure. "Thank you, my king."
"Now go, and get some rest...or grab that druid boy and let him experience what his rotten brother couldn't appreciate." Bayard winked lecherously.
Laughing, Merlin shook his head, in a much better mood now as he left, making sure the spells around this room and his king were still in place and untouched.
The young sorcerer was still in a very good mood as he ventured towards his room, and yet once he arrived at his door he could feel the warnings, had known that someone had been inside of his room despite his orders that not even cleaning maids shouldn't enter his room. His eyes narrowed and power grew in his palm like a ball of lightning as he pushed the door open, sauntering into the room, expecting an attack of some sorts.
Yet none came.
Arthur stood from where he'd been gazing at the fire roaring in the fireplace, brushing his hands together, clearing his throat. "I see you still don't trust people in your room. Your magic's still cleaning the place while you're not around, and keeping the fire going even when there isn't any wood."
Eyes going around the room, Merlin frowned, realizing that there was no on else there.
What sort of attack was this?
With his free hand he pushed his door closed and willed the magic to fade, the orb of lightning disappearing.
"To what do I owe this visit, Prince Arthur?" He folded his arms over his chest as he leaned against the door, eyes narrowed, wondering what exactly Arthur's game was.
The blonde flinched, shadows from the fire dancing over his face. "Merlin..."
The sorcerer waited, but the young prince only looked at him with that ridiculously sad face.
Did he really think Merlin was going to fall for that?
Annoyed, the older man pushed away from the door. "If you're just going to stand there I'd prefer it if you left. I don't have the time or the patience to put up with you or your games."
Arthur flinched once more, looking away, impressing Merlin with the way he managed to look so hurt. "Merlin, I-I know that we weren't-I know that-."
Merlin sighed, leaning back against the door once more.
"You think that I planned for Nimueh to come and try kill you." Arthur finally announced, eyes flashing with too many emotions to really decipher any. "But while I knew that she'd find me soon, I didn't want her to kill you. You're such an idiot! After everything-how could you-you fool?"
Merlin was used to Arthur calling him names, and he'd once thought it was Arthur's way of showing in his own way that he cared, but now he wondered if it wasn't just that Arthur really had thought him all those things and had just been brave enough to tell it to him to his face.
It'd probably been the only time Arthur had been truthful to him.
"Is that all?" Merlin wanted to know, eyeing the prince in a bored fashion.
Desperation flashed over Arthur's face as he took a step towards the taller man. "Why are you doing this? You didn't want the war, Merlin. You-you would stay up at nights because you couldn't sleep knowing people were dying needlessly. You-."
"Oh, cut the charade, Little Prince." Merlin rolled his eyes, annoyed and barely managing to keep himself from flinging something at the boy and somehow starting up the war once more while they were still on Camelot's soil. "Your acting abilities have either decreased during your return home or maybe I'm just not as gullible as I used to be." He pushed away from the door and took a couple of menacing steps towards the boy who refused to back away, bringing them dangerously close to each other. "Either way, don't waste your breath." He reached out and brushed golden silk out of the prince's face. "I do not believe anything that comes forth from your pretty little mouth."
Arthur glared up at him, face hurt and defiant, tilting his head upwards slightly so he could stare angrily into his eyes. "How did you survive the spell Nimueh hit you with?" He gulped, looking as if he wanted to duck his gaze and yet refused to do so, refused to tear his gaze from Merlin's. "Why did you let me believe you were dead?"
"Did you really think you'd seen the true extent of my power? That I told you everything, Little Prince?" Merlin taunted, leaning down lower, eyes dark and stormy. "You think I'd trust the sex slave who'd tried killing me multiple times in the past?"
"You trusted me." Arthur argued, eyes flashing angrily as he surged forwards and grabbed Merlin's cloak with both arms, betraying his strength by how effortlessly he yanked the sorcerer closer with his anger. "You told me things no master would tell his slave!" His grip tightened, his knuckles nearly transparent, his voice hoarse. "I wasn't just your slave and you know it! I was your lover!"
Merlin hated himself for the flinch he gave at that, hated himself for betraying, if only a little, that this did affect him.
That the conniving little prince still could affect him.
"Is that what this is all about?" The sorcerer sneered nastily. "You returned home and realized that you couldn't find someone who could fuck deep inside you in the way that made you whimper and grip so tightly? Couldn't find in Camelot someone who could grab and push you face first against a wall before taking you, burying deep inside of your body to the hilt, till the hairs of his cock tickle your arse?"
Arthur's eyebrows drew closer, an expression of near torture making itself at home on his face.
"What? Have you been unable to find someone who can look passed your being a prince and is brave enough to shove you down and tear your trousers from your begging arse, to slap that slutty, begging little hole?" His voice grew hoarser as his own words began to undo him, of that clutching heat assaulting him at the worse of times. "Thought once you discovered I was still alive you'd come here and annoy me enough so that I'd snap and rape you?" He snickered, hating the prince for taunting him with what he'd once had and what he'd thought he'd finally stopped wanting. "What would the Queen say if she knew her son was a little whore?"
Arthur snarled, which was the only warning before his clenched fist connected with Merlin's face, drawing blood.
The sorcerer was a little surprised, having been caught unprepared.
Merlin raised his hand to his face and came away with his digits covered in his own warm blood.
He wasn't really angry though, truthfully, he was grateful.
If Arthur hadn't done something like that Merlin might just have raped the little prince in his own castle.
Merlin doubted that would have helped the 'peace talks' any.
Chuckling, amused at how something that should have sent him over the edge with fury instead lulled him, comforted him somewhat, Merlin shook his head. "I think its time for your curfew, Little Prince. Good boys should be tucked in bed right now, and I advise you head straightaways to yours."
"Are you dismissing me, Mer-lin?" Arthur whispered hoarsely, head lowered, clenched fist shaking.
"Oh, of course not Your Highness." He chuckled, wiping at the blood trickling from his nose. "I am not your Master. I am not in the position to dismiss you."
Arthur's gaze rose sharply and he sent Merlin a furious glare at that. "You're being such an idiot."
"You know, I do not have much experience in peace talks, but I do believe that the kingdom seeking peace shouldn't physically attack members of the other's court." He raised his blood-covered fingers, wiggling them a little tauntingly. "If I were to go to my king, this would be enough to have him call off any peace treaty and crush this pathetic little kingdom with the ease we all know that he can."
"You won't do that." Arthur whispered, soft yet strong.
His assurance shocked Merlin a little out of his taunt, filling him with reluctant curiosity. "And why are you so sure of this?"
"Because, I know you. The real you. Not this damned Emrys the King's Sword you think you are." Arthur replied emotionlessly, eyes narrowed as they rose to him. "And the fact that you don't even seem to realize who the real you is only shows just how much of an idiot you really are." He raised his chin defiantly. "Which only prove that I'm right. I know you. You're a soft-hearted, powerful idiot."
Once again Merlin should be pissed, but he just found himself slightly disturbed. "I am tired. Get out."
A muscle jerked in Arthur's cheek, but he shocked the sorcerer by doing the one thing he'd never done while Merlin's slave.
The young prince stormed passed Merlin, reaching the door, before hesitating.
Merlin needed him gone. "About Mordred."
He could sense Arthur's tension rise despite the fact that both of their backs were facing each other.
"What about him?" Arthur finally asked.
"How old is he?" Merlin asked.
"A year younger than me." Arthur replied curtly.
"Seventeen." Merlin pondered, waiting for Arthur to take the bait.
The prince didn't disappoint, snarling. "Stay away from him, you stupid sorcerer."
And with that he stormed out and slammed the door shut behind him.
Now alone, Merlin let out a little sigh as his magic locked the door behind Arthur. The sorcerer was a little annoyed with his magic, which had let Arthur into the room when it shouldn't have. Sometimes it was as if his magic had a life and mind of its own, and it was times like these that made it frustrating.
Going towards the bed, Merlin merely pulled off his coat and boots before collapsing on the bed, tired as hell after that confrontation with Arthur.
He shook his head as he raised his hand to the nose his magic was already fussing over, healing.
It disturbed him how despite hating the prince, this encounter only amused him.
Amused him deeply.
"Has something happened between you and Prince Arthur?"
Merlin looked up from the book he'd been reading in the Royal Library and gazed upon the young druid watching him with deep disapproval in his light colored eyes. "I thought you had an intriguing depth of knowledge into all that's happened between myself and your brother."
Mordred flinched. "He is no brother of mine."
Merlin had sensed discord between the brothers before, between Morgana and Arthur as well, and he snapped his book shut, wondering just how Mercia could use the siblings. "Your mother, is she in the Court?"
Mordred shook his head. "Our elder sister, Anna Morgause, was married off to King Cenred of Escetia. The Queen had one of the conditions of this highly favorable alliance-making match be that my mother be forced to live in Escetia with my sister and not return." The druid's eyes blazed with so many emotions before he finally shook his head and gazed away. "My sister and I have seen her only once since she left five years ago, but only because we travelled to Escetia ourselves. And now, with my druid training and the war, and Morgana's position as a possible alliance in the making, we have been unable to travel and see our mother for so long."
Merlin could feel a stab of sympathy.
He knew what it was like to be a child kept from his mother.
"And now your father is bartering off your other sister as well." The sorcerer declared thoughtfully.
Mordred nodded. "I knew it would be obvious to Mercia the moment he put her as King Bayard's guide."
Merlin smiled, glad that not everyone in Camelot thought Mercians idiots. "If my king were to fall for this seduction, would you be sent to Mercia as your mother was sent to Escetia? It would be...a very clever way of removing you as a threat to the Crown Prince."
Mordred sneered. "My mother already signed away any inheritance I could claim."
"As things are now." Merlin murmured, knowing that if the young druid worked for Mercia, that King Bayard would happily make the boy a lord over some provence as a reward, especially if he were to marry the boy's sister.
Mordred's sharp gaze rose to Merlin's, not needing the sorcerer to say anything further to understand the undertones of the conversation. He paused, observing the older man, before gazing away. "Camelot has great faith in its ability to woo its enemies by flaunting its women before them. Before the king gave my eldest sister to Cenred, he detested Camelot, only agreeing to peace so he could have Anna Morgause."
Pocketing that information, Merlin put the book back in the shelf and smirked.
Rumors of Cenred being unwilling to displease his wife were rampant throughout Albion, and Merlin doubted Queen Morgause was all too pleased by how she'd been sold off...or how her mother had been treated either.
If Mercia were to gain Lady Morgana, Queen Anna Morgause's sister, as it's own Queen, and the ladies' brother as an ally...
...Merlin could see one of Camelot's strongest allies become one of its nastiest enemies.
This would be a battle of family.
Before, once upon a long time ago, Merlin had understood King Bayard's need for Camelot, and with his oath taken to serve the king no matter what, he'd known he'd do whatever it was to help his king have what was needed. But Merlin had wanted to do things in an impossible way. He'd wanted a war without bloodshed, without injury, without casualties.
When he'd almost died he'd realized that in war there was always going to be casualties.
Also, the best way to make sure less people died was to win the battle quickly.
It meant one had to be cruel to be kind.
What a paradox.
"Tomorrow starts the day the true peace talk commences." Merlin commented.
"I'm sure," Mordred's eyes flashed bluer. "That Mercia will find us to be most useful allies."
To anyone that would sound like a very patriotic thing to say.
And yet Merlin read the double meaning to the comment, and allowed himself a smile, reaching out and placing his hand on the younger male's shoulder. "I'm sure we will."
The side of Mordred's lip curled.
"Lady Morgana has assured me that while Camelot will keep up the truce for maybe up to a year should we wed, that King Uther is on what he believes is a gods blessed mission to unite all of Albion under his rule, and he will give us good cause to break the peace." King Bayard announced, fingers steepled. "He has already instructed Anna Morgause to search out the weaknesses in Cenred and Escetia, and has told Morgana the same should she become Queen of Mercia. He intends to use them as spies, so that he can easily take over the kingdoms of their husbands."
Merlin smiled. "Yet why be Queen for a while only to give the power back to the man who has never publicly acknowledged you as his own blood?"
"Exactly." King Bayard smiled back, both sitting before the king's fire that night, readying themselves for what would be done when the peace talks truly started the next morrow. "She is devilish and cunning, willing to betray her own blood for the power Queenship would give her, and for the pleasure of seeing the family whom slighted her downtrodden and unthroned. She is ruthless, heartless, would stab you with a pleasant smile on her lips."
"I see. You've decided to marry her." Merlin announced, leaning forwards in his seat. "Allow me to be the first to congratulate you, My King."
"Thank you." King Bayard nodded, before pausing. "What has happened between you and the princeling?"
Merlin frowned, leaning back. "That's the second time I've been asked that. Mordred wanted to know the same thing." He shook his head. "Why do you believe that something has happened between me and that spoiled brat?"
The King eyed him before answering. "You seem less angry...and it is not because you've sated yourself with the druid boy. You have spent most of the day in the presence of the princeling and yet you didn't glare at him hatefully throughout it, or ignore him spitefully. He also did not look at you the same way he did before. Now he is just very angry. And I should say, annoyed."
"Annoyed." Merlin raised an eyebrow.
"Yes, he seems quite annoyed with your constant companion." Bayard frowned. "It...it reminded me of how he used to behave in Mercia whenever you were around Lancelot. Like a spoilt child who didn't want anyone touching his favored toy."
Merlin felt annoyance at himself for the quick surprise and pleasure he felt at that, shaking his head. "As Crown Prince I doubt Arthur has ever had to share anything he believed his."
"Exactly." King Bayard declared. "His."
Merlin raised an eyebrow at that. "He's being childish."
"He's being possessive, Merlin." King Bayard responded. "Were it not for the fact that I desperately need Camelot under Mercia's reign, and were it not for the fact that my soon to be Queen would stab me should I not keep my word, I might truly consider this peace treaty."
"Why?" Merlin asked, frowning.
"For you." King Bayard sighed.
"I know why you need to win this war, my King." Merlin frowned darkly, ashamed that his king worried this way for him. "I know what no one else does. I will help you win this war, and I will make Camelot yours. Arthur's position means nothing. I have sworn to help you conquer Camelot, and I even if I wished to defy that oath, which I do not, you know that I am unable to. My magic has bound me to my oath and to your reign. You will have Camelot."
King Bayard watched him, and nodded wordlessly.
Merlin wondered what his king was planning.
"There is going to be peace between Camelot and Mercia."
Merlin tore his gaze from the smug expression Uther's face and the sly one on Bayard's, turning his head slightly to gaze on Arthur, who stood next to him. "Apparently your father's methods of securing alliances has won out once more." His gaze returned to his king, who was standing over the peace treaty along with his soon to be father in law, whom was younger than himself. "Camelot is in luck that Uther had another daughter."
Arthur frowned next to him. "You're being difficult again. Peace has been achieved. It's what you've wanted ever since the war begun."
"We've signed peace treaties with Camelot before." Merlin reminded him with little emotion. "Camelot has failed to keep its side of the bargain every single time."
Arthur flinched. "This time it is different. My father will honor his word."
It wasn't the words that surprised Merlin, but the fact that Arthur sounded as if he truly believed having his half sister on the throne would force his father to keep the peace and stop his dream of uniting Albion under his rule.
Either Arthur was a better actor than Merlin had previously given him credit for, or the young prince didn't know his father's order to his daughters.
"Do not think that I failed to notice the stipulation that Mordred come to the Mercian Court so that his sister wouldn't 'feel so lonely'." Arthur folded his arms over his chest, and yet like Merlin, was gazing at the kings. "Don't treat me as a fool, Merlin. I know the real reason for that request."
Merlin raised an eyebrow. "And here I thought you'd be grateful for the chance to insert another spy into our court."
"We're back to that, I see." Arthur announced, head raised high.
Merlin refused to answer, watching as King Uther signed the agreement.
"The story I told you once, about how I came to be in the battle..." Arthur cleared his throat. "It was the truth."
Frowning, the sorcerer couldn't keep from turning his head slightly to stare at the prince.
"My father refused to let me leave and join the war. I was too young. I was his only acceptable heir. He wouldn't risk it. Wouldn't risk me." Arthur announced, eyes on his father as he spoke. "For years his mistress had taunted my mother on her lack of children, as the druidess had already given my father two strong daughters. When my mother finally conceived all those years of taunts didn't matter because not only had my mother given birth, but she'd given birth to a son, the heir. I was the beloved heir, the one who needed to be protected. I hated it. I couldn't have my men dying while I sat in my room doing nothing."
"So you dressed as a knight and went into battle without your father's knowledge, leaving a letter." Merlin whispered, knowing his shock was visible on his face, as he remembered the story Arthur had once told him.
The sorcerer's whole world shook as he forced himself to look away, eyes wide.
The King and Queen, would have spread the rumor of the prince's bed rest once they read the story, to keep Arthur as safe as they could.
And they'd have Nimueh searching for him.
If the Queen had had so much trouble conceiving, it wasn't a stretch to believe Nimueh had aided the Queen by magic, and that would leave a little bond between her and Arthur that would have helped her finally track him despite the strong magical barriers Merlin had always had around him. And once the High Priestess had found the prince, in the way she had, she would have reacted in anger and struck down the man who'd supposedly violated the captured prince.
Merlin began to shake slightly as all he'd believed for so long crumbled around him.
The sorcerer ran a shaky hand over his head, unable to full comprehend this.
"You let me think you were dead for almost a year, you useless sorcerer." Arthur whispered harshly. "And if I hadn't insisted you show your face you would have been here, before me, and would have let me continue thinking you were dead."
"Yes, I would have." Merlin agreed softly, unable to look at Arthur until he'd managed to settle back into his normal composure.
"Spineless coward." Arthur hissed.
Merlin snorted, darkly amused by the fact that Arthur seemed to have been pissed off because he hadn't been able to insult Merlin as much as he used to and was using these days they had together to catch up on the insults he'd missed flinging towards him. "I assure you, cowardice was not the reason I chose to keep myself away."
Merlin turned away his gaze, forcing himself to refrain from doing something childish like roll his eyes.
King Bayard signed the document.
A large cheer went forth amongst the people.
Mordred, standing next to his sister, turned slightly, gaze finding Merlin's. It is done.
Merlin nodded to that.
"Where is Lance-alot?" Arthur slurred the name with as much distaste as he always used to. "If I remember right, he always seemed to stick to you wherever you went."
"He was injured in the last battle, and remained in Mercia despite his assurance that he could still do his job." Merlin replied. "Cassius is tending to him."
"Ah, yes, the Court Physician." Arthur mumbled.
"Also, his husband."
Arthur's body jerked visibly at that, as he turned to look at Merlin, eyes wide. "Lancelot and Cassius? Since when?"
"They became...of an agreement...a month or so after you 'forbade' me from being intimate with him." Merlin shrugged, finding it so odd and surreal to be speaking about this to Arthur of all people, and with such candidness.
"Ever since then? Why did you never tell me?" Arthur snapped, annoyed as hell.
He'd liked Arthur's possessiveness. "I didn't see how it was any of your concern."
"Not my-?" Arthur sounded like he was ready to draw his sword against the sorcerer.
From where he stood next to his sister, Mordred raised his chin slightly. May I come to your chambers tonight? I need to speak to you in private.
Merlin nodded once more.
Mordred's lips curled slightly and he turned his attention to Lady Morgana when she spoke to him.
"Emrys." Bayard turned towards his Court Sorcerer the same time Uther turned towards his.
"Why does he keep calling you by that name?" Arthur muttered darkly, folding his arms over his chest. "We all know who you really are."
Merlin's gaze slid to the young prince. "Do you really?"
Arthur's expression fell slightly, eyes narrowed, eyebrows nearly touching in a questioning frown.
The sorcerer moved towards his king the same time Nimueh did towards hers, and they met at the peace treaty, blue eyes eyeing the other.
Nimueh outstretched her hand and laid her fingers on the scroll.
Merlin did the same, facing the High Priestess.
"No human would have survived someone powerful enough to cast the spell I cast on you." Nimueh spoke loud enough so that only he could hear, her fingers beginning to glow as her power gathered at its tips.
Merlin smirked, nodding his agreement, his eyes bleeding gold as he gathered his power as well.
"I know what you are." The High Priestess replied, face deadly serious.
Merlin eyed her with his golden gaze, sensing the doubled protection spells she'd placed on herself, and the way she watched him with a gaze that tried to look defiant, yet the nervousness betrayed itself in the tension in her body and the way the tiny muscle next to her left eye twitched.
His lips curled in a provocatively devilish smile. "Then you know your doubled protective wards are useless."
Her eyes narrowed slightly, and she gulped, but raised her chin slightly. "Your kind has its weakness."
"Do we?" Merlin grinned, showing teeth.
The High Priestess visibly flinched, and then visibly hated herself for it.
Merlin's whole eyes flashed gold as the magic journeyed through his hand into the scroll, finalizing Mercia's side of the agreement. He then smiled viciously on purpose, and turned his back on the High Priestess, showing her how little he feared from her as an enemy, making his way to his King while the High Priestess filled her magic into the contract as well.
"We have reached an agreement!" King Uther declared. "Let the celebrations begin!"
Everyone was completely drunk.
Merlin sighed, watching yet another Camelot nobleman collapse in a drunken mess under the table.
He nudged the closest unconscious blob of snores and drool with the tip of his shoe, but other than snore a little louder the man did nothing.
It kinda reminded Merlin of the nights when Mercia really celebrated.
Apparently drunken men made complete arses of themselves no matter where they lived.
That realization was somewhat comforting.
Like back at home there were very few who refrained from drinking more than they should, Nimueh being one of them wasn't a surprise to Merlin. If she truly knew what he was she would do wisely in keeping completely sober and vigilant, as she was doing now. If the High Priestess had truthfully discovered the truth about his mother, Merlin wondered exactly how she'd done so. It didn't scare him, or worry him, that it could and would be made known one day. He'd already proven everything he'd needed to prove, and it would probably give Mercia an edge in the upcoming war. Merlin was just very curious how exactly Nimueh had discovered the truth, given the few number of those who knew.
Considering this happened during the years of peace between Camelot and Mercia, and the fact that Balinor had been born in Camelot and lived there until Uther had him banished...there could be people in this kingdom who were close enough to Balinor Dragonlord to have been confided in.
The sorcerer watched as Lady Morgana, his future Queen, was escorted from the room by her personal maid, Mordred following behind silent as ever, always seeming quite protective and vigilant of his beautiful, older sister. Despite being his children, Uther didn't seem quite as preoccupied or concerned of them as he was of Arthur. The King clearly favored the son of the wife he'd been rumored to have loved since childhood, and it had only been demonstrated when he sent his mistress packing to Escetia with his eldest daughter. Merlin wondered how one could truly love someone and yet have lovers on the side. He himself had stopped seeing his many lovers when he'd been in that relationship of sorts with Arthur. It hadn't hindered or deprived him any because after a while Arthur had started initiating their intimate moments and the boy's sex drive had been animalistic and never-ending.
Merlin flinched, reminding himself once more to put thoughts of Arthur away.
Whatever they'd had together was finished.
There was a war between Mercia and Camelot, and while a false peace had been installed between them it was nothing but that, false, and it would end.
Arthur was always going to be on the opposite side of the war as Merlin, and even if the Prince ever had any true feelings for him, their positions as Prince and Court Sorcerer of two battling kingdoms would forever divide them.
If Mercia were to win the war, Merlin doubted that Arthur would be content to revert to their pervious circumstances.
And should Camelot win Merlin would be dead. There was no other way that Camelot could emerge victors from this war if Merlin still breathed.
Also, Bayard had been right when he'd declared that Merlin needed to find a lover, a steady one. Merlin doubted he could feel for anyone else what he'd felt for Arthur, but that didn't really matter. He was what he was, and it truly dictated his actions, not his heart. For a moment in time he'd let his heart dictate what to do, and while it was a bittersweet memory he could never forget, it was also a state of mind he couldn't relive. He now had to choose a lover, a stable, more permanent person.
It was his King's wish...and his need.
The problem was that he'd lived in Mercia from his early childhood, he'd lived in the Royal Court raised as Bayard's ward almost just as long, and it'd taken Arthur's capture and being gifted to him for Merlin to finally feel those emotions he'd heard the scullery and chambermaids giggling amongst themselves about. Sensations and confusions and emotions he'd never felt before, had wondered if he could truly feel, had only been awakened by the cheeky and prattish 'sex slave' who'd thought he was the master of their odd and complex relationship.
That was probably another reason why the betrayal had hurt Merlin so much.
He'd finally found someone who proved that Merlin could very well be human...and the sorcerer wasn't sure he could find those feelings and contentment with someone else.
Ever since the Prince's return to his rightful place and kingdom Merlin had had many lovers, many of them he couldn't remember the faces or names of. None of them brought upon the need to wrap an arm around, or watch, or run his hand through their hair. Woman and man alike had been thrown out of the sorcerer's room once having consummated with him, all leaving him feeling unsatisfied on a deeper level than he'd ever felt before.
It was another reason why he'd hated Arthur.
Why someone he could never truly be with?
He was sure his mother must be behind this somehow, punishing him for choosing Hunith over her.
Punishing him more than she already had.
Someone sat down next to him, but he didn't pay the person any mind, keeping an alert eye on his king.
"Your devotion to him and his safety is very commendable." A soft, feminine voice commented. "Despite this being a time of festivities, you have foregone any merry-making of your own out of your desire to protect him."
Merlin turned his gaze upon the one sitting next to him, and his eyes widened a fraction in surprise to realize that it was Queen Igraine. He eyed the beautiful older woman, choosing his words carefully, not exactly sure why Arthur's mother had singled him out. "He is my king."
She smiled, blonde curls bouncing as she tilted her head slightly. "I hope you do not find me forward, Court Sorcerer, but once word reached my ears as to who you really were, I felt the need to speak to you."
He steeled himself, wary, as his gaze focused on her face.
"My son has been indulged and pampered since birth, as is his right as sole heir to the throne of Camelot." Queen Igraine began. "When I discovered that he had left with the knights, my heart was torn with fear...and then when news of his regiment being taken captive...I nearly died from grief and worry."
Merlin listened in silence, wondering where the Queen was taking this.
"Nimueh couldn't find him, couldn't locate him despite...the bond...between them." The Queen looked away, flinching as she confirmed Merlin's suspicions about Nimueh using magic to help the Queen conceive Arthur. In a way, Arthur himself was a magical being, with Nimueh as the father more than Uther, since she was the one who helped create Arthur. "And then finally she could, and it was enough for her to bring my child home...yet when he returned he needed to be sedated because he seemed to have gone insane with what we thought were the atrocities he'd had to live through in the Mercian Court." She closed her eyes, seeming quite grief-stricken. "Gaius...our Court Physician...conducted a full examination on him and we know...we knew that he was used...but it wasn't...violent."
Terribly uncomfortable by Arthur's mother bringing up the topic of his having repeatedly sodomized her beloved son, Merlin cleared his throat and shifted in his seat.
"When he awoke Arthur told us everything, not sparing a detail. He is blunt, it is how we raised him." Queen Igraine surprised the hell out of the Sorcerer by reaching out and placing her hand on his. "What I mean to say is that I want to thank you for having taken care of my son."
Merlin blinked, utterly confused, suspecting that Arthur really hadn't told his mother the truth at all.
"Any other master would have treated his slave poorly...especially one as outspoken and...spoiled...as Arthur." Queen Igraine smiled sheepishly, obviously accepting some of the blame for having spoiled said boy. "Arthur admits to having tried to kill you multiple times during the beginning...and if it had been any other master he wouldn't have lived passed the first attempt. I know this. Arthur knows this. Uther knows this." She squeezed Merlin's hand. "No matter whatever happens between Camelot and Mercia, I want you to know that I will forever be indebted to you for how you treated my son, and should you need anything from me just ask."
The young sorcerer just stared at the Queen, unable to understand...to say anything.
He didn't like Uther, couldn't find it in him to truly trust anyone in Camelot...and yet its Queen had managed to fill him with warmth he hadn't felt since Hunith had been taken so violently from him. With only a few words Queen Igraine had touched the sorcerer, and he was forced to look away and gulp, to gather his wits and emotions.
She must have sensed his conflicting emotions because she squeezed his hand and stood, excusing herself from the festivities.
Merlin watched her go, eyes prickling, the warmth of her hand on his still there.
"What did my mother want?"
Turning his head to the other side, Merlin cleared his throat as Arthur arrived and sat down next to him. The blonde wasn't overly drunk like the others in the celebrations, but it was more than a little obvious that he'd had his share of mead and wine.
Merlin's gaze went to his king, whom seemed to be entertained with whatever story King Uther was acting out drunkenly. "She came to thank me for not returning the favor and killing you after your first attempt on my life."
"Oh." There was silence, and then the prat spoke once more, sounding quite petulant. "No one is going to stab your precious little king if you look away from him for a second. We are amongst allies now Mer-lin."
Realizing that it did seem suspicious that despite the treaty signed he obviously still didn't trust Camelot, Merlin forced his protective nature to calm somewhat, and turned his gaze upon the prince once more. "Force of habit."
Arthur nodded, seeming to accept this answer easily.
Then again, he had lived with Merlin for so long in Mercia...knew of the many nights Merlin had gone sleepless trying to find ways to protect his king, to weed out any traitors. Arthur better than anyone knew how extremely important the king was to the court sorcerer, although Merlin never divulged the reason for his devotion. He'd doubted Arthur would be able to be as confident and comfortable with him as he'd been if he truly knew the source of Merlin's powers, that he was much more than just a truly gifted sorcerer. But he supposed that as soon as the Mercian entourage left, with the soon to be Queen with them, the High Priestess would let her monarchs know what she'd learnt about him.
Merlin wondered how Arthur would see him, knowing what he was.
"We're allies now, Merlin." Arthur mumbled, voice only slightly slurred, eyes fixed on him.
The young sorcerer tilted his head slightly as he eyed the younger man. "I realize this."
"Do you really?" Arthur asked, eyes narrowed.
It was around that moment that Merlin realized he mightn't be understanding the undercurrent of this conversation, especially since Arthur looked so annoyed with him, as if he was tempted to punch the sorcerer.
"Do you really understands what this means, Court Sorcerer?" Arthur challenged.
Merlin studied the prince, wondering if he truly was as drunk as he'd seemed moments ago, since he'd stopped slurring and seemed quite composed.
But Arthur had always been very straightforwards and never afraid of speaking what was on his mind, even when he was a slave and not truly entitled to have his own opinion; so Merlin really doubted that Arthur would resort to pretenses if it came to speaking to Merlin.
"As allies now, and with...Morgana...married to your king, I will not be a stranger to Mercia." Arthur replied slowly. "It is expected for me to visit our allies for the purpose of building a rapport with the royal family, and attend certain important events."
"Such as the wedding no doubt." Merlin replied with a nod. "Despite her being the bastard daughter of your father's mistress, she is still the reason for our peace treaty, and it would be disrespectful for Camelot not to attend the event in Mercia."
Arthur's gaze slid away, a muscle jumping in his cheek. "Exactly. That was exactly what I was referring to."
Merlin kept his face passive, not as obtuse as he sometimes played, suspecting what the prince had been referring to.
There were few things a man couldn't fake, and arousal was one of those things.
Despite everything, Merlin had always known that spy or not, Arthur had truly been aroused by their nightly (and daily) dalliances in his room. Truthfully, it was impossible for his lover to not feel pleasure when Merlin wished it so, and he'd always wished the most addictive, mind-blowing pleasure on Arthur, even the times when all he really wanted to do was wrangle his neck.
Ever since he'd let go of his hurt and anger, Merlin had noticed the way the young prince watched him, noticed his annoyance due to Mordred's constant presence by Merlin's side.
Arthur was truly the spoiled child Merlin had always known he was, and one who had never had to share his toys or possessions with anyone.
And somehow, Merlin realized that the prince considered him his.
It made him feel things he needed to repress and forget.
Merlin remembered that comment the prince had made while still in captivity, the one in which he'd divulged his assurance that once Camelot won the king would give Merlin to Arthur and Arthur would be his master.
There'd also been a lot of kinky sex included in that delusion.
If Arthur truly hadn't been part of a plan in which Merlin was supposed to die, then the young prince probably had planned on doing just as he'd warned he would, and switch their positions as master and sex slave...in which he only let Merlin use his power if the sorcerer pleased him 'exceptionally well'.
Merlin squirmed slightly in his seat, warning his extremities not to react to that realization.
Even if...even if things between him and Arthur weren't as sinister as he'd once thought, Merlin couldn't allow anything to happen between them anymore...even if he was sorely tempted by the idea. Truth was that Arthur was Camelot's Prince, and when this truce failed they'd be enemies once more. Merlin had nearly crumbled when he'd thought that Arthur had used him while all the while planning the war against him...and he wasn't about to do that the prince. Merlin knew that the truce between Camelot and Mercia would crumble, and with this foreknowledge he couldn't engage in any sort of relationship with Camelot's Crown Prince.
It was morally wrong.
That was why he would play obtuse to Arthur's overtures, and if need be, he'd discourage the prince from having any such inclinations towards him.
Also, Merlin knew he was addictive, and if he were to slip and make the mistake of sleeping with the prince he'd only strengthen the weakened yet existent addiction.
Noticing King Bayard standing, Merlin stood as well. "With your leave, Your Highness, but I must accompany my king to his quarters and then I will head towards my own. As you know, we return home tomorrow, and it will be a busy day."
Arthur stood rapidly. "I know you better than that Merlin, you don't sleep this early." He cleared his throat before taking in a deep breath and raising his chin. "Why don't I find us some more ale and we can enjoy it in the privacy of your room?" His eyes bore deep into Merlin's. "We have...much...to catch up on."
The sorcerer was taken back by the directness of the offer...by his body's intense wish to accept it.
Arthur was offering him a night with him, and Merlin's body and magic craved the prince almost desperately.
And yet the sorcerer pushed back his own desires and gave the prince a purposely bland smile. "I do not drink while not in Mercia, ally or not. And I would accept your offer to talk, but I'm afraid I already have plans for tonight, and a guest who must be waiting for me in my chambers."
Arthur's face fell, but he quickly forced his features blank. "I won't keep you from your duties then, Court Sorcerer."
The prince then turned away harshly and stormed out of the room.
Merlin watched him go, surprised to find his heart hurting him, his magic giving a petulant whipping sensation inside of him, letting him know how displeased it was with how he was handling the situation.
His magic had always had a soft spot for Arthur, had always found him the most appetizing and sating of any of Merlin's lovers and sources. Merlin had always wondered what exactly about Arthur drew him and his magic so, captivated them both...and now he wondered if it wasn't the fact that Arthur could be considered a creature of humanity and magic. The uniqueness and rarity to his birth might have called to the uniqueness and rarity in Merlin's own birth. Maybe his magic had felt that it had found something similar to itself, yet completely different, and it drew and feed from the magic that made up Arthur.
Though, Merlin had to admit, unlike Merlin's many other lovers Arthur hadn't seemed drained at all from their constant lovemaking. Arthur was the first person Merlin had ever been with solely, and Merlin had always wondered if he wouldn't drain one person too much if he were to be monogamous. He'd believed he could due to how Arthur had seemed completely unaffected, but now that Merlin knew of Arthur's birth he wondered if it wasn't only due to those extraordinary circumstances...
"Your mind is not here tonight." Bayard noted as they entered his room. "Has the princeling gotten under your skin?"
Merlin leaned against the wall. "Arthur propositioned me."
"And how did you let the princeling down?" Bayard surprised him by asking.
"How did you know that I-?" Merlin gazed up, surprised.
Bayard gave him a fatherly smile. "You wouldn't do to him what he did to you, Merlin. No matter how hurt or angry you are."
Merlin gazed at his king, before smiling and shaking his head, lowering his gaze. "You know me too well, my king."
"I like to think so." Bayard agreed contentedly.
"Arthur...he told me that the story of his running off to join the Knights was true...and then the Queen confirmed the story without my asking." Merlin folded his arms over his chest, gaze on his shoes. "Everything that happened...was a matter of chance...not cunning premeditation."
King Bayard paused, before scoffing, shaking his head. "I feel utterly let down. Uther had risen in my standards for what I'd thought a dastardly, cunning, utterly villainous move." Bayard was practically pouting. "A piece of me has just died."
Unable to keep the chuckle silent, Merlin shook his head, grinning brightly. "Goodnight, My King."
"Yes, yes, go see that druid boy who is most definitely waiting anxiously for you in your chambers." King Bayard winked, looking quite the lecherous old man. "Give him my best...or, should I say, your best."
Merlin paused, eyes widening once more on his king. "I might be the one with the magic in his veins, but My King, you seem to have the power of foresight. That is twice tonight that you know things without my telling you."
Visibly quite smug, Bayard smirked. "Foresight it is not, my son. One does not live this long as a King in Mercia without having a keen eye and noticing things others would not. Every little detail tells a story. That druid boy has made his interest no secret, and tonight before he escorted his sister away he sent you a look and you nodded...obviously an offer was given and accepted." He raised an eyebrow. "Also, he truly is a way to solve two problems you are now facing."
Merlin frowned, confused.
"What better way to discourage the princeling than by having his younger brother take his place?" Bayard wanted to know, dispersing some of his evil yet true wisdom. "And as a druid, that boy could be strong enough to handle being your sole lover."
"I haven't considered the boy as a potential lover, My King, much less my sole lover." Merlin frowned.
"It would be beneficial for us if you were to...cater...to his desires." King Bayard replied, tilting his head. "This way we could make sure that he wouldn't waver in his desire to help us when the time should come."
Merlin shook his head and sighed. "I believe that the promise of lordship is enough to keep his loyalties, My King."
"Merlin, that boy is ripe for the picking and he wants you to do the plucking." Bayard declared, near dramatically, as he stormed over and placed his hands on Merlin's shoulders. "He is so ripe that he's releasing pheromones left right and center! If you do not pluck him up soon I myself might fall prey to their allure and wind up buried inside the wrong sibling come my wedding night...and my Queen won't take too kindly to her brother having been deflowered by her husband before said husband even deflowered her." He tightened his grip on Merlin's shoulders. "So please, do your king a favor, and save him from the wrath of his bride."
Sometimes Bayard could be the picture of ruthless, cunning, savage foresight and wisdom...and other times he could be utterly ridiculous.
It was a contrast that constantly fascinated Merlin.
"I will consider it." The sorcerer finally agreed before excusing himself from the king's room, making his way to his own.
The king's words echoed through his mind, and Merlin knew that deep down inside what Bayard said was true. Mordred was the perfect way of solving two problems, but Merlin hesitated. Truthfully he wasn't sure if he was mentally or emotionally prepared to have only one lover once more. Arthur had been a special case...Arthur...Arthur was special.
Merlin shook his head, removing those thoughts from his mind.
What was important was that he needed to definitely end any sort of relationship he might still have with Arthur, as how things had occurred they'd been unable to truly define anything...yet this meeting gave them some sort of closure, didn't it?
Merlin had lovers.
He needed lovers.
He enjoyed lovers.
He always had and always would.
It was a part of what being him meant.
Fidelity and monogamy had never been important to him or any of the ones he'd slept with, Arthur being the only one who demanded it of him.
It was one of the many reasons he'd fascinated Merlin.
The sorcerer growled and stopped walking, slamming his fist sideways into the hallway wall.
He needed to stop thinking about Arthur!
Their time had passed!
He needed to think of the future, not dwell in the past.
Taking in a deep breath, Merlin continued on and only hesitated a second in front of the doors to his own room, feeling the presence of the young yet powerful druid inside thanks to Merlin's magic letting him enter, knowing Merlin had agreed to see him in his room. The sorcerer opened the door and entered, said doors closing behind him.
Blue eyes found Mordred, the younger male gazing out of the window before turning towards him. "You came sooner than I expected."
Casting a spell that would make their words gibberish to anyone trying to listen in, Merlin's eyes flashed gold as he moved to the ever-blazing fire. "You said you needed to speak to me in private." He removed his coat and watched as his magic took control and levitated said piece of clothing and hung it up. "Why would I keep you waiting?"
Mordred was silent as he just watched Merlin, and then he spoke. "I know what you are, Emrys."
Merlin's eyes narrowed slightly, not having expected this. "Do you."
The young druid nodded. "My people have prophecies of you."
"Do they." He folded his arms over his chest, eyebrow raised. "You've mentioned these so-called prophecies before. I must admit, I'm becoming curious to hear of them."
Mordred walked towards the fire and gazed into the flames. "My people speak of the child promised and born between the Dragonlord and his demon lover, the Succubus Queen."
Merlin's eyes widened a fraction.
"Nimueh believes that your mother was raped by an Incubus and left impregnated, as is the usual conception of a Cambion, but my people know the truth." Mordred turned to gaze at Merlin, the flames of the fire reflecting in his eyes. "Your mother was unable to bare children, so your father purposely went to the Succubus Queen herself, purposely laid with a creature of evil and darkness."
Merlin couldn't find his voice to speak, so shocked he was to hear the well-guarded truth spoken to him as if it were common knowledge.
"Very few know the Dragonlord bloodline descended from the Old Ones, thus their ability to command and control Creatures of Old, such as dragons." Mordred continued. "With his bloodline, your father knew that he could impregnate a Succubus, and with this knowledge he made it seem that he and your mother were in seclusion in the countryside, only his most trusted servants there. He left your mother and sought out the Succubus Queen and agreed to be her lover if she would bare him a son, and give that child to him to raise as his own. As a Dragonlord, his magic and energy was potent, able to fully sate the Queen...and it is a rare opportunity for a demon such as her to not only find a being strong enough to be her sole mate, but to have that being accept. Not many know that while succubi and incubi feed on many, they are at their strongest when they have found one whom they can feed off of."
Merlin sat down, unable to hide his reactions to the depth of Mordred's knowledge.
"Demons can mate, and the Queen took your father for her mate, and when she conceived she was sure that he would remain with her, that he'd accepted her as his mate as well. But he hadn't, and as soon as you were born he ended his relationship with her and left with you, bringing the child Hunith had always wanted to her. And they emerged form the seclusion with Hunith as the mother apparent of the child, only the few trusted knowing the truth." Mordred announced, those flames still visibly flickering in his eyes. "One might ask why Balinor Dragonlord would go to all the trouble of bedding a demon when he could have bedded any common whore and fathered a child for his barren bride. The answer lies in the well guarded secret that Balinor Dragonlord was a Cambion himself, the product of his mother's rape by an incubus. As your father's mother was her husband's niece, the Dragonlord blood was just as strong in her as in him, and Balinor was the first Cambion creation of the Dragonlord. He grew up knowing that Cambions find it easier to procreate with the demon side of their anatomy than the human...and this is why he turned to a demon when his beloved wife's wish for a child grew so desperate she became ill."
Merlin was silent for a moment, clasping his hands over his chest as he leaned back in his chair, before looking up at the young druid. "I must admit, your prophecies are...impressively detailed."
"For a long time the kings have taken our women for their whores and then thrown them aside, treated their bastard children as inferior members of their society." Mordred's eyes flashed with anger. "My own father refuses to refer to me as his son because I was born of the wrong mother, of the lower class filth. He didn't mind her social status while he was hilt deep inside of her, the fact that she bore him three children proves how much he did not mind...yet because we're half druids, half what the court term 'barbaric', we're disrespected. Anna Morgause did not wish to marry Cenred, couldn't stand him, and yet she was forced to be his wife, her feelings didn't matter." The young male stepped forwards. "Just like our people, we do not matter, Emrys."
Merlin frowned, listening to the boy.
"But you, you are our savior." Mordred whispered, coming towards Merlin. "The prophecies speak of a time when you will right the wrongs and unite all Albion under one rule. You."
Merlin's eyes widened.
He rule Albion?
It was Bayard whom would rule!
"The druids will no longer be the lower class citizens whom everyone looks down on because we prefer to live amongst nature, in simplicity. Under your rule, under your reign, we will have the respect we once had before the Pendragons made our men their slaves and our women their whores." Mordred hissed.
"Let me clear something for you, boy." Merlin's eyes narrowed as he leaned forwards and reached out, grabbing the front of the boy's shirt and pulling him down awkwardly to face him. "I have no intention of becoming king. I already serve a king, and I will serve him faithfully until the day I die."
"If you serve Bayard, we will serve Bayard as well." Mordred fell to his knees, placing his hands on Merlin's knees. "You speak, we will follow."
Merlin gazed down at the younger male with narrowed eyes.
"Your father was a Cambion and your mother the Queen of Succubi, you're more Incubus than human." Mordred leaned in, eyes never leaving Merlin's. "You need a constant source of energy, strong energy, and I can give this to you. As a druid, a son of mother earth, I constantly draw energy from her." He slowly raised his hands up Merlin's thighs. "I would happily share this energy with you."
Merlin stared down at the boy in deep contemplation.
Suddenly the door was flung open, and there Arthur stood, bottles of wine in hand. "Mordred, fancy seeing you here."
Mordred took in a deep breath and stood, eyeing Merlin. "Please consider my offer."
The young druid gave Arthur a stiff bow and then left, closing the door behind him.
Merlin turned his gaze towards Arthur, once more a little miffed that his magic had just let the prince storm inside when it knew Merlin didn't allow anyone inside his room once he'd entered for the night. "What are you doing here?"
"What does he want you to consider?" Arthur asked his own question, slamming the bottles down on the table.
"He was kneeling between my thighs, Arthur." Merlin drawled, trying for annoyance. "What do you think he wants me to consider?"
An flash of ugly emotion crossed those cerulean eyes, before Arthur's lips curled in a smile that was probably supposed to be cool and collected, yet looked slightly manic instead. "You don't have to worry, you know. I am not here to try and recover what we once had. Given our current circumstances I know that even if we both desired it, it could not be. Despite being allies you are the right hand of your King, and I am the heir of mine, both of us are bound to our kingdoms and thus it would make no sense to try being lovers."
Merlin clasped his arms over his chest, head tilted slightly as he listened.
This is what he knew he wanted to hear, but it still stung him, slightly.
And that annoyed him.
All this time he'd been worried about Arthur trying to push the issue, and yet here the prince seemed to have matured much during the time they'd had apart.
Merlin wondered what exactly had happened during Arthur's return to Camelot that had accomplished this mighty task.
"But despite that, I refuse to allow you touch my brother." That fire was back in those eyes. "I forbid you, Merlin, from replacing me with him. I forbid it!"
And that was the Arthur Merlin knew.
It was almost a relief for the sorcerer, and he allowed his amusement to show on his face as his lips twitched. "Prince you may be, but you are not my regent and I do not take orders from you, Your Highness."
Arthur flinched, glare growing. "I always hated it when you called me that."
"Why do you think I made sure to call you it at least once every day?" Merlin questioned, amusement growing.
Arthur's eyes narrowed more, and yet the annoyance was less harsh and more darkly amused as he shook his head. "It's not wise to provoke a prince in his own castle, you idiotic warlock."
Merlin wondered how they'd managed to fall back into their familiar banter so quickly and with such fluid ease. "What could you possibly do to me? We're allies now, Young Prince."
Arthur's amusement diminished, glare returning. "Stop doing that. Stop referring to me by titles."
"Why?" Merlin steepled his fingers over his chest. "It's the proper thing to do. You're the prince and this is your kingdom."
"Well, if you're so into protocol you should be standing now as I am standing and only be seated if I choose to sit." Arthur snapped at him.
Merlin raised an eyebrow.
The blonde had a point.
"I beg your pardon, Young Prince." Merlin made a show of standing and giving a little mock bow. "For a moment, I forgot I wasn't your master anymore. Do not worry though, I won't forget it again."
Arthur looked about to punch him.
Merlin opened his mouth.
"Shut up." Arthur growled, stalking towards the slightly taller, thinner male and grabbing fistfuls of his shirt, yanking him towards him. "Just shut up before you say something else spectacularly stupid."
And then he kissed him.
Merlin's breath escaped him in a groan as Arthur's lips attacked his, angry and marking.
He wanted to push the shorter boy away and tell him that they couldn't, but Arthur beat him to it, whispering "Only for tonight...forget you're not my master" into his mouth before deepening the kiss.
And that was when Merlin understood that Arthur was saying goodbye, in the only way he knew how when it came to the sorcerer.
Despite his mind telling him not to, to remember that as a Cambion he could be addictive, Merlin reached out, cupping the back of Arthur's golden head and drawing him closer as he took control of the kiss.
Immediately he could sense a change in the young prince as Arthur whimpered, arching into him as he tightened his grip on the front of Merlin's shirt, opening his mouth, welcoming the assault of Merlin's lips and tongue. The sorcerer raised his other hand to cup Arthur's cheek, raising his head slightly, angling it with as much possession as he once did.
At the mere touch of his skin against Arthur's cheek, Merlin's magic sparked like flames of fire, lighting the dim room, yet not managing to distract the two as they drew closer, their lips and body saying all they refused to say with words. Merlin backed away, Arthur followed, and once the back of Merlin's legs hit the bed he turned them around and pushed Arthur down, the prince bouncing slightly on the magnificent bed.
Arthur gazed up at him, eyelids half closed, lips swollen from kisses and nibbles, body flushed in arousal. He leaned up on his elbows, his gaze inviting, near dirty as he spread his legs in silent provocation.
Merlin chuckled darkly, his eyes flashing gold as his magic betrayed the extreme reaction he felt at having Arthur in his bed once more, even if only for one night.
He tried pushing away the memory that this was their last night together, instead focusing on taking off his clothes with determination, never lifting his gaze from the beautiful, golden youth lounged on his bed, beckoning him with his darkening, lust-filled eyes.
There'd been so many night Merlin had awoken from his dreams, having fulfilled himself better in those night visions than buried deep inside of his many partners...and he'd hated himself and the young prince for it. But now, as he lowered himself to the bed, between Arthur's parted thighs, he couldn't deny that hatred was the farthest thing from his mind. If anything it was extremely bittersweet.
Arthur slowly laid back down, unusually submissive as Merlin leaned over him, long, lean fingers trailing over the bulge in the young prince's breeches.
The blonde hissed, body jerking slightly, as a single, pale finger brushed over the head through the material. "Merlin..."
Words didn't even need to be whisper, the sorcerer's magic taking its own action as it disappeared the prince's clothes, leaving the younger male naked to Merlin's hungry gaze.
It'd been so long since he'd seen Arthur, and so Merlin took his time, gaze consuming the willing, beckoning body. The sorcerer leaned over, his finger trailing over that golden skin, over each ripple of subtle muscle and every dip. It was as if he was trying to reclaim every inch, while he really shouldn't, but Merlin remembered Arthur's words. Tonight he'd forget that he wasn't the boy's master. His touch grew bolder, more claiming, harder. Nails scraped against skin.
Arthur hissed, his cock giving a twitch.
The scent of the young prince's arousal teased at Merlin's nostrils, and he was unable to keep himself from leaning down and pressing a kiss to Arthur's erratically beating heart, deeper inhaling his scent at the same time. His lips worshipped that golden skin, his teeth leaving his mark over everything it touched, as his hand slowly made its way down to cup Arthur's beautiful, quivering, weeping member. Arthur tasted of sunshine and a flavor Merlin had never been able to categorize yet had always found addictive. Now, know what he did about the circumstances of the prince's birth, Merlin had a deep suspicion that that taste was of magic.
He wondered how he tasted to the prince.
Pushing all thought away, focusing instead on the feel of Arthur's nipple Merlin nibbled on it hard enough to hurt, yet his tongue soothed away any pain.
"Merlin!" Arthur arched, fingers digging deep into Merlin's shoulders.
He could use his magic to stimulate Arthur, yet Merlin refused to let it out, instead hungrily wrapping his own hands around Arthur's cock, the only magic used to lubricate as he moved his hand in a slow, torturous rhythm. Greedily, he wanted to have tasted and touched everything himself, with his own hands and lips, refused to share the experience...even if it was with his own magic.
Arthur's fingers kneaded Merlin's shoulders, gently nudging him downwards as the sorcerer slowly kissed and nipped his way down the prince's body. Blonde head tilted back, eyes closed tightly, Arthur's teeth bit down so hard on his bottom lip it bled slightly, a small trail of red making its way down the side of his mouth.
Merlin stopped his slow descent and stretched up, his tongue reaching out to lap at the small trail, healing it before taking Arthur's mouth again as he sped his movement around the boy's viciously twitching cock.
Arthur cried into his mouth, a sound so familiar and missed Merlin could have shed tears.
Instead, the sorcerer focused on the task at hand, and was caught off guard when suddenly Arthur came all over his hand. The older man blinked, pulling away from Arthur enough to gaze at his soiled hand. An eyebrow raised in curiosity as he returned his gaze to the extremely embarrassed, yet utterly defiant-looking youth. Arthur had reacted as if this was the first time he'd been touched by a man since...well...since a very long time ago...but Merlin pushed away that thought because he doubted that someone in his prime like Arthur could go so long without having a lover. So he just attributed it to the boy's extreme excitement, and it gave him a dark thrill as he brought his thumb to his mouth and flicked his tongue over it, cleaning the digit of the royal seed.
Arthur watched him like a man in a trance, before whispering a soft curse, reaching up to cup behind Merlin's head and bringing him back down in a deep kiss.
Merlin's cocked was on fire, set aflame by the passion and need transmitted in this kiss. His hand reached down blindly and found Arthur's cock once more, surprised to find that it hadn't lost any of its hardness.
Arthur's hand slid over his, and slowed Merlin's pace, showing him how he wanted it, and Merlin (as always) aimed to please the younger male and satisfy his every desire.
The hand cupping the back of Merlin's head was unflinching, keeping him there, as their mouths slid against the other's, tasting each other, nibbling, teasing.
Finally, the sorcerer couldn't handle it anymore, pulling out of Arthur's hold and restarting his mouth's journey down the golden youth's body, kissing and nibbling, though this time much faster than before. His need to be buried deep inside of Arthur was burning intensely at his core, his rigid cock in agony. Merlin moved them, raising Arthur's leg and hooking it around his neck. He pressed kisses to that inner thigh, worshipping it, leaving his marks on Arthur's skin, as he stroke himself.
A groan escaped Merlin's lips and he was forced to abandon his own cock as it twitched viciously, his fingers trailing down to Arthur's blinking star. Those long, thing digits teased the rim before sinking deep within, a flash of golden eyes ensuring those fingers found Arthur wet and warm, muscles relaxed.
"Merlin!" Arthur's voice went low in arousal as he gripped at the sheets.
Unable to control himself, his need, to fully prepare Arthur, Merlin gave into his baser compulsions and yanked his fingers out, replacing them with his cock as he lined up with Arthur's entrance and pushed in urgently. He slid in, finding some resistance in Arthur's muscles yet pushing onwards, the slickness providing ample lubrication as he buried himself to the hilt inside of the younger boy. Magic jolted inside of him, exploding like golden and red fireworks behind his eyes.
The way Arthur's eyes widened betrayed the fact that the prince could actually see the explosions.
Somewhat ashamed at how intensely affected both he and his magic were by being within Arthur once more, Merlin moved, eliciting a cry from Arthur, whose eyelids closed in pleasure as he pushed against Merlin, meeting his thrust with a buck of his hips.
Up until that moment Merlin had deluded himself thinking he could find this feeling in someone else, but now he was once more balls deep inside of his boy melancholy and anger built inside of him as he realized that he truly had never felt anything near this with anyone else...and he probably never would. There was something about this young prince that made him perfect for Merlin, compatible in ways the sorcerer couldn't even truly comprehend, and that wasn't something one could easily duplicate.
He felt like crying, yet refused to, instead fucking deeper into Arthur, wanting to leave his seed so deep inside the prince Arthur would never fully be rid of him. He wanted to leave the blonde sore and unable to walk straight for days, unable to ride his horse, unable to breathe without feeling that twinge deep inside that would remind him that Merlin had been inside of him to the hilt-Merlin had been the one to cum over and over until every bit of him was covered and claimed.
Like an animal wanting to mark its territory, Merlin was overwhelmed by a demonic fervor. His thrusts were nearly punishing, his grip on Arthur's hips unforgiving.
Arthur cried and groaned his name, sputtering half-words and commands that didn't make any sense.
Still it wasn't enough.
Merlin wanted to fuck him so hard he forgot how to talk.
Arthur cursed, begged, tried to buck his hips, tried to touch himself...desperate for some sort of contact for his weeping cock, but Merlin's magic soared out and trapped the boy's wrists to the bed.
Merlin knew Arthur's body, knew his weaknesses, knew how to use each and every one against him. He shifted his hips, angling his thrusts so they hit that one little spot he knew Arthur absolutely insane.
"MERLIN!" Arthur cried, body trembling with his pleasured agony, with his struggle against the magic's hold on him. "Merlin stop! Let-let me go! Merlin! Touch me gods dammit! Merlin!"
The sorcerer was deaf to the orders, continuing to torture the prince by keeping him at the edge of pleasure yet not quite enough to reach fulfillment.
"Merlin!" Arthur sounded near insane, his voice breaking as his body jerked, his eyes closing against the blinding, terrible pleasure. "Merlin please!"
The sorcerer was deaf to the pleas, instead quickening his thrusts, putting more force between them until Arthur's body was jerking with each violent thrust.
"Mer-Mer-Merlin!" Arthur screamed, voice strangled, as suddenly he came even more viciously than the first time, spilling onto his stomach.
Merlin fucked him through the climax, never letting up, never having pity, until with a groan he buried himself as deeply as he could and came, filling the prince with his seed.
Arthur panted, eyes half closed, satisfaction obvious in his eyes. "I've never...not without some sort of friction...I..."
And yet Merlin didn't let him finish as he pulled out. His eyes flashed gold as magic jerked Arthur around, landing him face down on the bed, ass in the air, and then Merlin was behind him, inside of him. He gripped those hips, fingers digging in, purposely leaving their marks, his thrusts resuming their deep, torturous qualities.
Arthur's cries were smothered by the pillow, yet he pushed back just as viciously, meeting each thrust, his hand finding his own cock as he stroked himself.
Draping himself over Arthur's back, Merlin curled him arm around the prince's waist as he fucked him deeper. He didn't trust himself to talk, didn't trust himself not to say something he'd regret, so he continued his silence, letting his body transmit every feeling, no matter how dangerous it might be.
By now Arthur was incoherent and had stopped talking, instead his voice moans and cries, hisses of breath and groans. He fucked his hips back to Merlin's every thrust, his hand working furiously on his cock as something that sounded like broken bits of Merlin's name escaped his lips like a chant.
Merlin bit deep into Arthur's shoulder, anchoring onto him like an animal would as it mounted its mate.
Arthur cried, his body spasming as once more he spilled, this time onto the sheets.
And once more Merlin had no mercy, fucking him through it and enjoying the way Arthur's ass closed so tightly around him, pulling him in deeper, begging for more. Begging for punishment. Begging for his cock to leave him broken and sore and able to feel him days later.
All throughout the night Merlin gave the young prince no rest, until they both collapsed, exhausted, as the sun made its appearance.
Despite being Bayard's betrothed, for propriety's sake Morgana and Mordred travelled in their own carriage, so Merlin was alone with his king in their carriage after bidding Camelot and its monarchs farewell. Uther, his wife, and Arthur would be journeying to Mercia for the wedding, and Merlin wondered how he'd handle seeing Arthur in Mercia once more...like old times..and yet completely different at the same time. For a moment, when he'd awoken in bed with Arthur curled in his arms, Merlin had thought that everything that'd happened had only been a very bad dream, but then he'd realized that he wasn't in his chambers in Mercia and the truth had hit him hard. He'd magicked the sleeping prince back to his own room before bathing and changing into his journeying clothes, attending breakfast with his king and the monarchs minus their sleeping son.
Merlin had almost thought Arthur would sleep through their farewells, had somewhat wished he would, but Uther must have sent a servant to wake his son before Arthur arrived with a servant, trying his best to hide the fact that he was limping.
It'd given Merlin a dark thrill.
Queen Igraine had been worried, but Arthur shrugged off her worries. Merlin hadn't heard whatever lie the boy had told his mother as to the reason why he was in the state he was in, but she seemed to believe him.
Mordred and Bayard, on the other hand, gave Merlin looks.
"I thought you denied the princeling his little proposition." Bayard finally addressed the situation as they sat across from each other on the carriage an hour after having left the castle.
"I did." Merlin replied, leaning hard against the seat. "And then he showed up in my room. We both agreed that it would be useless to be lovers. It was...it was a way of saying goodbye."
"Some farewell." Bayard snorted. "The boy could barely walk."
Merlin couldn't stop his lips from curling evilly in satisfaction. "I noticed."
Bayard eyed his Court Sorcerer. "Do you want me to give him back to you when I take over Camelot? Will that make you happier than the little druid boy?"
Merlin rose his gaze to meet his king's. "It wouldn't be the same, so no. Let Arthur live his life."
"So you have finally given up on the princeling and are ready for the druid boy then." Considering the 'druid boy' was to be Bayard's brother in law, the king truly needed to start referring to him by his name.
Merlin folded his arms over his chest, taking in a breath. "Arthur forbade me from taking his brother. It was...amusing."
"What did you answer him?" Bayard asked, eyebrow raised.
"That you are my king." Merlin replied.
The Mercian monarch was silent a moment before chuckling, shaking his head. "That I am."
Merlin gave his king a smile. "The past is now behind us, we now have to concentrate on the war, and what our next move will be."
"A year or so of peace will be intriguing." Bayard commented. "I will use it to ensure my Queen conceives an heir."
Merlin tilted his head, smiling at the thought of Bayard with a son in his arms. "A noble campaign if ever there was one."
Bayard returned Merlin's large smile. "And I will see you settled down with a sole companion even if it kills me."
Merlin's lips twitched and he sighed, looking out of the window of the carriage.
They continued the trip in silence, the sorcerer trying to accustom himself to the issue between him and Arthur being truly over, and the king worried it truly wasn't.
"Are you sure?"
"I have studied him while he was here, and a source of mine has confirmed that he is of mixed parentage." Nimueh nodded to her king. "It explains his godlike power, the mixing of Dragonlord and demon blood...and his ability to live despite the spell I cast on him. No human would have lived through it...it is our proof that my source is correct and that he, in fact, has Incubus blood flowing through his veins."
King Uther leaned forwards. "It would also explain this magnetism the boy had. It was enough to draw in and keep Arthur enchanted...and you saw Mordred...he's under the same lustful spell."
"It's not a spell, Your Highness." Nimueh shook her head. "Its a pheromone of sorts, he secrets it naturally, without an ability to control it. Cambions are rare, but that is fortunate as they are extremely powerful, even more powerful when they have fixed lovers. They draw energy from sexual relations or even sexual arousal, leaving the partner drained and many times fatigued."
"I am not fatigued." Arthur growled, standing in the corner, leaning against the wall, arms folded over his chest. "I'm sore, but I like it."
Uther looked utterly uncomfortable and maybe a little hysteric, but managed to calm himself. "Son, it isn't normal to enjoy pain like that."
"In Camelot." Arthur couldn't help but reply.
Nimueh and Uther shared a look before the king turned to his son. "He's feeding from you. You do realize this."
"Better me than someone else." Arthur replied, eyes narrowed. "Especially not Mordred."
"Mordred would make a very agreeable source for a Cambion. As a druid he is constantly in contact with the earth and her energies and the Cambion would be able to feed well on him without tiring or draining him as much as he would someone else." Nimueh warned. "If I know this King Bayard will too, and as Court Sorcerer we give an oath of complete obedience to our monarchs. Because of this oath we are forced to do whatever our monarch wishes, even if we ourselves do not wish to do this."
"He is not going to take Mordred!" Arthur snapped at her.
"Our Court Sorcereress makes a compelling point Arthur, reign in your temper." Uther chided his son. "We must be prepared for the Cambion to take Mordred, whether it be Bayard's order or not."
Arthur snarled at both his father and Nimueh.
"But this is a good thing." Uther stood. "If Merlin took Mordred, then it would put both Morgana and Mordred in bed with the two most powerful people in Mercia, and it will make it easier for them to fulfill their mission and bring Mercia crumbling from within."
Arthur folded his arms over his chest and shook his head. "What's wrong with peace, father?"
"If there is a Mercia you will never have him, Arthur." Uther turned to his son. "He is bound to Bayard as long as the king lives. He will never be yours."
Arthur's eyes narrowed, and he was forced to look away.
"Once Mercia belongs to Camelot, he will belong to us, to you." Uther continued. "We both get what we want."
"They do not plan on keeping the alliance either." Nimueh continued. "It will only be time before they do something and break the alliance, and Mordred and Morgana will help hasten that goal."
Arthur gazed between Court Sorcereress and King, before shaking his head and turning his back on them, heading towards the window. He gazed out in the direction of their border with Mercia, knowing that Merlin must still be traveling through Camelot.
The young prince folded his arms over his chest and took in a deep breath.
Now the war truly begun.
This twas 90 pages long.