Author's Note: Hello everyone! This is my very first Merthur oneshot and I'm quite pleased with the result if truth be told ^.^ I would love to hear what you slash maniacs think! The idea came to me one day while I was in the shower... I have no idea why :/ So I decided to write it :D Again, reviews are welcome!

Disclaimer: *Sigh* I don't own Merlin, no matter how many shooting stars I wish upon...

~)*(~

Arthur Pendragon awoke with a groan, the sun's rays peeping through the slightly parted curtain, temporarily blinding him. He rolled over with a growl and sat up in his bed, giving a mighty stretch.

"Where's my breakfast Merlin?" he asked without even looking around his room. No one answered him.

"Merlin?" The Prince opened his eyes to find that his manservant was not in his chambers. He huffed his impatience and got out of bed. This was the third time in a row this week Merlin had been late to work. Unforgivably late. Arthur was well aware of the complete incompetence of his manservant, so he usually allowed Merlin to be a few minutes late, but this? This was the last straw.

I'll just have to dress myself this morning, he thought bitterly to himself. Walking over to his wardrobe, he pulled out his red leather lined jacket and brown breeches. He yanked on his trousers and was just buttoning up his jacket when Merlin burst through the door.

"Sire!" he exclaimed breathlessly as he skidded to a halt in front of the Prince, rubbing the dark circles under his eyes. Arthur crossed his arms over his chest and glared at his servant.

Merlin straightened and looked Arthur up and down. The young Pendragon failed to notice the warlock's eyes taking in each and every inch of him, memorizing for later.

"...You're dressed," Merlin said eventually.

Arthur curled his lip in irritation. "Boy, nothing gets past you Merlin," he said, words biting with sarcasm. His manservant smiled sheepishly.

"You're late again. Why?" he demanded with his usual princely arrogance. Merlin glanced down at the floor, ears turning a slight shade of pink before looking at his master again.

"I could say the same about your skills of noticing things-."

"Don't. Even," the Prince practically growled. "I've been pretty lenient with you Merlin, knowing your incapability of being on time for anything even if your life depended on it, but this has gone too far. I've noticed you've been very…flighty… these past few days, and it's making your being my servant far more annoying than it needs to be." For once, the warlock had nothing to say. He had this look like he was going to explain himself, but made the decision to keep quiet.

Arthur sighed in frustration. "What am I going to do with you Merlin?"

"Oh, hmm I dunno, maybe stop trying to work me to the point of death every day and only allowing me a few hours rest, so that you can yell at me for being too bloody late the next morning!" the raven haired man exploded.

They just stared at each other. The Prince felt his eyebrows rise in surprise. Although he would never admit it to him, that was the thing Arthur loved most about Merlin; his spirit. Wait, 'loved'? He shook his head, attempting to rid himself of his foolish thoughts.

"I'm sorry, sire, I didn't mean to-."

"Yes, you did mean to. Don't worry about it, by now I've become used to your idiotic outbursts." He grinned at his servant, and lightly punched him in the shoulder. The sorcerer smiled in relief.

"Come on then, go fetch my breakfast." Merlin sighed and did as he was told. Arthur found himself still smirking a while after Merlin had left.

~)*(~

It was now a little after midday, and Arthur was just finishing up training with the knights. At some point during his sparring match with Sir Leon, he had pulled a muscle in his back trying to bend himself out of his opponent's reach. Not only had he lost a bit of his pride seeing on how he lost the match, but lo and behold, his servant was once more, nowhere to be seen.

"Merlin!" he shouted indignantly. To his anger and wonder, no large-eared, goofy looking, neckerchief-wearing, scrawny boy came loping around the corner, grinning from ear to ear. Swearing quite profusely, he picked himself up from the ground and headed off towards the castle.

"Where is the Prince's manservant? Should he not be here in case something like this happens?" Arthur overheard one of the older knights say to Sir Leon. "In fact, I'm certain that boy is all but useless. Why does his Majesty insist on keeping him around?" The young Pendragon kept walking, and hadn't noticed his face heating up.

He reached Gaius' chambers in no time at all, despite the ever blossoming pain in his back.

"Gaius?" he called, knocking several times on the door. No answer. Arthur pushed the door open, and called again. Still there was no reply. He was about to turn and resume his search somewhere else when he caught sight of Merlin's closed door at the back of the room. He felt the corners of his mouth curve up. The bloke had probably sneaked off during training to take a bloody nap! Oh, he'd let him have it alright…

As silently as he could, he crept over to the far side of the room and put his ear next to the door. There wasn't a peep on the other side. With one quick movement he pushed on the handle and bashed the door open so it slammed against the wall. He jumped into the room, expecting to scare the pants off Merlin. And he probably would have to, had he actually been there.

Feeling foolish, Arthur allowed himself a glance around his vacant servant's quarters. As always, various clothes and books littered the floor and his bed. But one large draped item at the corner of the room caught his attention. It naturally drew curiosity from the young Prince, seeing as since it was covered, it meant Merlin obviously didn't want people to see it. He was about to turn away and leave, to grant Merlin some privacy.

But for the rest of my bloody life I will wonder what was underneath that. I might not get this chance again.

Temptation got the better of him. He looked at the front door making sure no one was coming, then strode over to the object in question and placed a hand on the cloth. This is it. There will be no going back after this Arthur, he told himself. He was, for some reason, anxious; it made him excited that his servant had secrets. The wonders never ceased.

He took a deep breath, and pulled the cloth off. Not even the gods could've prepared him for what he saw underneath.

It was a painting, and an absolutely gorgeous one at that. Of, wait a minute; this can't be right, of himself. At least, he thought it was himself. The person in the painting had short, cropped blonde hair, and skin as creamy looking as the moon. He was painted in front of a dark blue background of a forest, moonlight seeping through the trees and bathing his skin in it. He looked almost ethereal; a creature of beauty and not of this world. He studied the eyes of this man, and they were the exact same shade of ocean blue and stormy sky as his own. It was as if his eyes had been copied and somehow magically been put onto the canvas.

In the painting, he had only his trousers on, and was holding a sword (a magnificent one at that) up towards the moon. He noticed, with a flush, that his chest was also perfectly replicated; each muscle and sinew line on his body was there. This man that uncannily resembled himself looked like a being sculpted from the gods; without flaw and such an air of ferocity, splendour and magnificence. His face was also turned up facing the moon, perfect eyebrows furrowed in a look of defiance that the Prince saw almost every day when he looked in the mirror.

Arthur started to feel his knees grow weak. He did not know how long he stared at this painting; at the image of himself that radiated power and a hunger of some kind. Where in the bloody hell would Merlin get something like this? And more importantly...why? He took a step back unconsciously, and heard his boot step in something squishy. He looked down, and felt all the blood drain from his face.

It was a piece of wood, which looked like it held every single colour of paint in existence. He looked further, underneath the painting, to find a few brushes still covered with dried paint. Arthur finally felt his legs give way as he fell onto Merlin's bed, the sharp pain in his back bringing him partly out of his reverie.

How…? When…? …..Merlin? He never knew Merlin was interested in art; let alone having an unmatched talent for it. But where would he have the time to-. Realization suddenly hit him full force. The only way Merlin would've had time to do this was if he skirted his duties whenever he could, and if he stayed up late every night… which he did do, Arthur thought bitterly, remembering the dark circles lately he's seen under his servant's eyes.

But he felt his annoyance for his manservant fade as he gazed upon the portrait of himself again. Does Merlin actually see me this way? Is this what Merlin sees every time he looks at me? The thought caused a deep blush to creep up his neck.

Arthur studied the picture again. It was covered in astounding detail, every line and freckle on his face was perfectly copied onto the painting. Merlin must've had to stare at him a long time to get all of those right, and have an uncanny memory to reproduce said images later on. Another blush.

Gradually, Arthur brought himself to put the cloth back over the painting and walk out of Merlin's room. Breathing heavily, he made his way towards the door. He moved slowly now, the painting still fresh in his mind, slightly dazing him. But his back was really killing him now; he desperately needed to see Gaius.

With the aching and the painting all jumbling together in his mind in a confusing array of emotions, disorienting him, he nearly ran into his manservant once he rounded the corner.

"Merlin," the Prince practically breathed. The painting came barrelling back into his mind and he felt his face heat up with embarrassment. Merlin took note of his master's appearance; wide eyes, dilated pupils, red cheeks. He looks even more beautiful than usual, he mused to himself.

"Merlin," he repeated, voice slightly shaky.

"Yes sire?" The warlock couldn't understand why the blonde was acting this way. It was rather strange; even for him. "Is something wrong Arthur?" The young Pendragon shook his head briskly.

"No… I mean, yes, I need Gaius…my back….training…." He was tongue-tied, stumbling over his words like an idiot. He felt as if his face were on fire; he couldn't remember the last time he'd been this flustered. What is the matter with me? He panicked, it's only Merlin…

The young sorcerer raised a questioning eyebrow. "Gaius isn't here. He's gone to the lower town to get some supplies; he won't be back for a while."

Merlin's eyes held his, and Arthur couldn't believe he had never noticed how extraordinarily blue they were. It was like looking into an ocean, a deep never-ending beautiful ocean…

"Arthur?"

The Prince mentally slapped himself. "Mm? Yes, well I guess you'll have to do then." He turned away from his servant brusquely and headed for Gaius' examination table. What in the devil was wrong with him today? Why could he suddenly not form a coherent thought around Merlin? Merlin, for god's sake!

The warlock followed him to the table and looked pointedly at Arthur. "What?" the Prince snapped, turning pink again.

"I… kind of need you to sit, sire." Arthur did as he was told. "So, what's been troubling you again?"

"My back," he replied irritably, "I think I pulled a muscle." Merlin walked around to the other side of him, pressing his hand to the middle of Arthur's shoulder blades and applying some pressure. The Prince inhaled sharply, not because it hurt, but quite the opposite actually…

"Is it there sire?"

"...No, no, it's more to the right." Merlin's hand traveled across his back to right underneath his right shoulder blade. Arthur shuddered at his touch. What kind of devilry is this? Men are supposed to feel this way about girls, not, their manservants… The raven haired man pinched the muscle tissue there lightly, and Arthur gasped aloud. Partly because it did hurt this time, and partly because he realized that he enjoyed Merlin touching him… much, much more than he should.

"Is that it Arthur?"

"Y-yes," the blonde stammered. "Aright, well that's one problem solved," the warlock said cheerily. "Now, where did Gaius put that book on muscle strains…"

Arthur felt his eyes following Merlin's every move as he rummaged around the room; taking in the shape of him. His long arms and legs, his scrawny torso, those ridiculous looking ears… Those adorable ridiculously looking ears, he thought gloomily to himself. Why hadn't he seen this before? Why was he just starting to feel this now? Perhaps I've always felt it, deep down. But ever since I saw that painting… Ahh, that blasted painting.

Merlin needed to hurry the hell up before Arthur did something he'd regret.

"Ah, here we are," Merlin said, setting down a few bowls on the table. He dipped a cloth into a bowl of something hot before wringing it out and placing it on the front of Arthur's shoulder. Arthur just stared at him. The way his eyebrows furrowed together, his beautiful full lips pursed in concentration… And gods, did the man have gorgeous cheekbones. They almost made him look otherworldly in this lighting.

Oh heaven help me. This is so wrong...

His eyes travelled down Merlin's slender arm to where his servant's hand had the cloth pressed against his chest. The young warlock then pivoted around Arthur so he had the cloth against the back of his shoulder blade. The Prince hissed as the hot cloth worked its magic, easing his tensed muscles. He became aware of Merlin's soft breathing, tickling the back of his neck. Without warning, he felt his pants become a little bit tighter.

You've got to be joking.

His breath came now in shallow pants, he felt his palms becoming slick. His whole body abruptly tensed with overwhelming desire. So wrong, so wrong, so wrong…. Suddenly, he felt something inside him snap. He needed to have him, now. He whirled around quickly with the speed of a trained warrior, his back screaming in protest, and took Merlin's face in both of his hands. Arthur didn't miss the surprise in his manservant's eyes before crashing their mouths together.

The Prince was floored. What on earth was he doing? What on earth was Merlin doing? Is this what he really wanted? Did Merlin? Well, maybe the bloody idiot shouldn't be painting erotic pictures of me, Arthur thought to himself, feeling his heart leap against his rib cage.

Thrown off-balance by his master's aggressive kiss, Merlin righted himself by placing a hand on each of Arthur's knees. Gasping at his servant's touch, Arthur tilted Merlin's head so that he could deepen the kiss. He felt the warlock's hands grab fistfuls of his trousers in response.

Arthur had never known anything like this. He was in bliss; complete and utter ecstasy. And he thought kissing Gwen felt really good. In fact, at one point he even thought he'd loved her… right up until now. What he was feeling for his manservant at this very second, was perhaps ten times what he'd felt for Gwen, maybe even more. The Prince didn't know. What he did know, was that he never, ever, ever wanted to let Merlin go. He never knew one could feel such desire for another; and Merlin at that. Merlin. Of all the idiotic, sputtering fools-

He was brought swiftly out of his thoughts as his object of desire's hands brushed his crotch, eliciting a low growl to rumble deep in his throat. His hands moved down to rest against the base of Merlin's neck, as his servant's hands moved steadily closer to his arousal. Arthur shuddered at the touch, and bit down lustfully on the warlock's bottom lip. Merlin yelped at the sensation; the beautiful sound exploding through the Prince like a thousand battle cries, causing every single bone in his body to ache with unimaginable yearning.

Groaning loudly, his hands drifted further down until they reached Merlin's bony hips. Grasping at his sides, he lifted his manservant up and twisted around, depositing Merlin abruptly on Gaius' examining table. The warlock let out a squeak of surprise as he looked up at his master in complete shock. Arthur chuckled hungrily to himself at the sight of Merlin underneath him, blue eyes wide with their own wild longing. It was a look that the young Pendragon had never expected would send him over the edge.

He attacked Merlin's mouth again with a renewed passion, and was rewarded when his manservant dug his fingernails into his back. He pushed the younger man's mouth open with his own, and slid his tongue inside. He tasted of honey, lavender, and of the forest, and it was driving him mad. Their mouths moved together, synchronized, each never getting enough of the other. It was a foreign sensation for both of them; they'd never experienced anything close to this with anyone before.

After a few more minutes of frantic kisses, Arthur pulled his mouth away from Merlin's and began nuzzling his way down the sorcerer's neck. He sat up quickly and practically tore that blasted neckerchief off of him before resuming his tantalizing. Merlin shuddered delicately as the Prince's lips ghosted across the tender skin there, teasing, licking, nipping, sucking. He felt his eyes roll in the back of his head as his wildest fantasies came true. Is this really happening? Arthur has me pinned against Gaius's examination table, he's kissing me… This is too good to be true. Arthur's hands ran up and down Merlin's chest in a gentle, sensual manner, as if he'd done it a thousand times before. We really shouldn't be doing this, Gaius should be back soon, and what if he sees us? What if someone else sees us? We really really shouldn't be doing this, we would both be in a whole whack of trouble, it's not worth it, it can't last, we could never be together…

"Arthur," he moaned huskily, half dazed, arching his hips into his master's. The sound of his name coming out from Merlin's lips caused the Prince to bite down on his servant's neck, harder than he intended. The young warlock gasped, eyes jolting open. The sudden sharp pain was enough to bring him partly out of his trance; he knew what he needed to do. He'd probably be kicking himself later for it…

"Arthur," he said again, more firmly this time, as he somehow managed to get both of his hands against his master's chest, pushing him off of him. After a few moments, the lust-crazed Prince became aware of the gentle but firm shoves against his chest. He pulled back from Merlin's neck to stare down at him in confusion. The raven haired man had a resolute expression on his face, the seriousness of it almost made Arthur laugh out loud.

Again, Merlin pushed against his master. In a dreamlike state, Arthur moved off of his manservant, allowing him to get up. He didn't bother to hide his hurt and confusion, not to mention the aching need pooling in his groin.

He watched Merlin get up off the table casually, and reach down to retrieve his neckerchief off the floor. His expression was blank, as if nothing had even happened. He started for the door, when Arthur finally found his voice.

"It was what you wanted, wasn't it?" His manservant paused in his step, then turned his face halfway towards the Prince.

"I don't know what you're talking about," and he continued walking.

Alright, it was now or never. "I saw the painting," Arthur's voice faltered. Merlin stopped again, this time taking a few seconds before turning around fully to face his master. He opened his mouth, but no sound came out. Once he realized there was nothing he could say that would justify what he had done, he his head drooped and he lowered his eyes to the floor.

Arthur felt his heart sink in his chest. He hadn't wanted to hurt him, but why was he doing this? They both knew how they truly felt about each other now, there was no going back. He just stared at Merlin, noticing his ears getting redder and redder by the moment. He started to walk over to him to comfort him, when suddenly his head shot up, blue eyes gleaming with anger and unshed tears.

"Why where you even in my room? You had no business going in there, snooping your royal backside off, why? Just because you can? And it was clearly covered, so that roughly translates to "whatever-is-under-here-is-not-meant-for-royal-snobbish-princes-to-see"! You always have to stick your royal nose into other people's business you pratty dollophe-" Arthur had quickly closed the distance between them and smashed his mouth against his servant's in a fierce kiss. It was messy, both of them trying to dominate the other. Tongues clashed, teeth bashed against teeth, hands pulled at hair, gasps and moans filled the air.

Again after a few moments, Merlin pulled away from the Prince with a sad look in his eyes.

"What's wrong?" Arthur asked desperately, wanting to know why his Merlin kept backing away from him.

The warlock just shook his head, the first tears starting to stream down his pale cheeks. "We can't, Arthur. Don't you understand? Someday, your father will have you marry some rich princess to secure Camelot financially and economically, and to give you an heir. We both know I can't offer any of those."

Eyes gleaming with tenderness Merlin never knew the Prince had, he slowly brought his hand up to the raven haired man's face, caressing his cheekbone with his thumb. Merlin's eyes fluttered closed and sighed with contentment. "But you can make me happy," Arthur said simply, as if it solved everything.

Sighing again, Merlin took the blonde's hand and pulled it down from his face. His eyes opened gradually, brimming with tears. The Prince felt his throat tighten.

"What you want and what you need are two different things, Arthur. We should learn to tell the difference." Merlin's voice broke finally, tears sliding down his face. Without another word, he turned and walked out of the room.

Arthur didn't know how long he stood there, completely dumbstruck. Merlin was wrong, they could be together, what did he know? When he was king, Arthur would make it so. He and Merlin would be together forever and no one would be able to do a thing about it… He was so wrapped up in his revelation about his manservant that he was surprised to find his own tears had also made their way down his face, dripping onto the floor. When was the last time he'd cried?

He was startled by the sound of the door opening, as Gaius walked in. Hastily, he brushed away the evidence of his misery and turned to face the physician. He looked rather surprised to see the Prince in his chambers, and was even more puzzled by the fact he'd seen Merlin in a similar state only few moments earlier.

"….Can I help you, sire?" The Prince cleared his throat loudly before speaking. "Uhm, yes. I seemed to have strained my back in training earlier; you think you can have a look at it?"

Gaius studied the young man for a few moments; silently noticing the puffiness around his eyes. "Of course sire."

~)*(~

Things weren't the same between master and servant. Neither one of them brought up that day, or the painting ever again. Sure they still constantly bickered like children and behaved immaturely around each other, but something was off. There was always a tense aura when the two of them were together, and Gaius wasn't the only one to notice. Whenever Merlin would put on Arthur's armour, the Prince would almost always swear he felt a few lingering touches, but it was probably just his imagination.

They, though miserably, resumed their appropriate master servant relationship. If you looked close enough, you would see every so often, one steal a glance quickly at the other, then look away before either could notice. It was frustrating, sad, and heart wrenching- but that was the way it needed to be.

Time passed. Uther grew steadily older and died in his sleep one night. For weeks Arthur was completely wrought with grief; accepting no one's comfort or solace except for Merlin, and occasionally Gaius. The coronation ceremony followed after Arthur had started behaving like his old self again. Just as the crown was placed on his head and the throne room erupted with cheers and shouts, the Prince noticed that his manservant was nowhere to be found. That idiot, he growled to himself, keeps rambling on about "my destiny" and becoming "the greatest king that ever lived" and not even showing up to my own bloody coronation ceremony! He waited patiently until after all of his knights, members of the court, servants and peasants alike had congratulated him, then went out to search for Merlin. He ventured to his and Gaius' quarters, but was nowhere to be found. Arthur kicked over a stool in frustration, snarling and cursing Merlin under his breath. Dragging his fingers through his hair, he heaved a loud sigh before resolutely putting the stool back in its place. He was about to leave when a piece of parchment caught his eye. It was addressed to him. A feeling of dread crept its way up his throat. With a slightly shaky hand, he reached out, took it off the table and began reading Merlin's barely legible and hastily written letter.

Arthur,

You're probably still at your coronation ceremony as I'm writing this, and I just want you to know that I'm proud of you, and I know for a fact that your father would be as well. I'm sorry I couldn't be there for you, but something urgent has been brought to my attention. I… can't say exactly what, but one day I will tell you. I'm going to be away for a while, and I promise I'll explain everything when I return. Be careful.

Merlin

Arthur felt his jaw slacken. He was torn between wanting to rip the letter into millions of pieces and slowly burn every single one until it was naught but ash, and going and locking himself in his chambers for the rest of the evening. But he knew neither of these options would bring Merlin back to him. Instead, with an unwavering sigh, he tucked the parchment into his jacket and strode back into the throne room. Upon entry he was swarmed by dozens of his happy (and slightly drunk) subjects. He plastered a fake smile on his face and tried to keep his frantically buzzing mind off of the letter searing with heat in his pocket.

When you return Merlin, I'll kill you.

Author's Note: The end! Bwhahaha cliffhangerrr :D please don't hate me too much, a sequel is on the way folks! Reviews are love 33