TITLE: Way Up High

SUMMARY: There's only one man who can make Merlin feel like flying, and that man is a knight in shining armour without sleeves…

PAIRING: Merlin/Percival

A/N: I've gone all fan girl. At least it'll balance all the angst and dark violence I normally produce. Might not be your thing, but hopefully those whose thing it is will enjoy. As ever, I am your obedient slave, writing not just for my own enjoyment, but for yours as well.

It's almost sunset, and there is a lone figure waiting silently beside a window in a chamber. At least, it can be assumed that he's waiting, as these are not the chambers of a servant, and the man is dressed in the clothes of one. As the door opens, he smiles, but doesn't turn around.

"You're tidier than Arthur. Perhaps you and he could trade servants. I'd have so much spare time."

"If you were my servant, we'd never leave the chamber."

"I see no problem with this scenario."

"I see a few. Arthur wouldn't like me taking indefinite leave."

"Who cares?"

"I do. Got to put bread on the table somehow."

"You know," says the man by the window, as opposed to the man pulling a chain mail shirt over his head, "it's been almost a minute, and you haven't so much as given me a hug yet. Must be a new record of some kind."

"Merlin," says the knight, smiling deviously, "I'm naked." Merlin smiles at the window, but doesn't turn around, and deliberately keeps his eyes trained on the waxing moon.

"Is that a fact, Percival?"

"And filthy. And I hear this rumour that you helped Arthur practice sword fighting today."

"The rumours are so true."

"Well then, why don't we take a bath together?"

"Could you have tried to make that sound romantic, instead of stating it like I'm off to brush boots?"

"Why don't you and I take a bath - and we can soap each other off - and then maybe I can pamper you?"

"Sounds good to me." Percival steps up behind Merlin, loosening his neckerchief until it flutters to the floor. His calloused hands trace a path up that sooth column he loves so much, lingering over yesterday's mark where he got carried away. You couldn't get a sheet of parchment between them, and Merlin leans backwards to rest on Percival's shoulder with a sigh."

"You need a back-rub, don't you?" Percival murmurs, kissing the dark hair.

"Yes," Merlin whispers, the smile in his voice. "Desperately."

"Then lets get into the hot bath I know full well you already have standing ready, and then I'll give you a back rub."

Merlin's sigh is quiet, but Percival still hears it as he slides into the water.

"He's been overworking you again. Here, lean against me. Just for now, let's just sit like this together." The crackle of the little fire in the hearth is the only sound for a long time. The lovers are rested together, Merlin's head resting on Percival's neck, the latter's arms rested around his shoulder, crossing over his chest. Merlin's hands are entwined with Percival's and he's looking at where their hands join.

"He just doesn't always remember that I'm not quite as strong as he is. You mustn't blame him."

"I don't blame him. It just bugs me when you're like this."

"Like what?"

"In pain. And don't go lying to me."

"Gaius gave me something to massage in."

"I'll do that for you when we're out."

"Percival, what did I ever do to deserve you?"

"I ask myself the same thing about you every day. Are you comfortable?"

"Yes. I love how my head fits just right into your shoulder. And you give amazing hugs."

"I like holding you. Makes me feel calmer. And then - I feel like I should protect you." Percival places gentle kisses onto Merlin's cheek, who turns slightly in his arms to find his lover's lips with his own. Their kiss is slow, but not lacking in any passion. It's slow and gentle, and Percival slides one hand into Merlin's damp hair.

"Lean over the end of the tub, sweetheart. I'll just sponge you down - I promise I'll be gentle." Merlin nods, and moves away with clear reluctance. Luckily, the edges of the tub are padded so he can rest on them without discomfort. Percival is true to his word, his actions soft and soothing. Merlin's eyes close, a smile on his lips as he rests his head down onto his arms. The sponge feels so good against his skin, and the hot water soothes aching muscles. He hears splashing while Percival sponges down, then stands up. The next moment, he's being gently lifted out, wrapped in a towel, and then cradled in strong arms as Percival carries him over to the bed. Merlin rolls onto his front, feeling a few bruises protest. "Where's the stuff Gaius gave you?"

"In my pocket," Merlin murmurs, stretching and feeling his muscles sigh in protest. The bed dips next to him, and he peeks up from where his head is resting on folded arms.

"Just lie still, relax, and enjoy," Percival whispers, kissing a shoulder blade. He squints at the instructions, and pours a small amount of liquid into his palm. "Tell me if I hurt you."

"You never could." Rubbing his hands together, Percival starts at Merlin's shoulders, rubbing gently in a circular motion, listening to Merlin's quietly relieved exhale. Strong, battle-hardened hands have to have serious talent to be this gentle, Merlin manages to think through the haze, undulating into those strong hands, as they push and manipulate and caress. He hits a tender spot, and Merlin gasps sharply.

"Did I hurt you?" Percival demands, hands freezing.

"No, carry on." Merlin's voice is barely louder than a whisper. Thos hands continue to sweep downwards and work until Merlin is barely even able to think any longer, lost in the haze of dizzy pleasure. Only Percival can make him feel like this without getting sex involved.

"Better?"

"I think my bones liquefied."

"My work is done." Percival slides the covers up over Merlin, and sneaks in beside him. Turning to face him, Merlin smiles lazily.

"Thank you."

"It's fine, you were practically screaming out for that."

"I think some of me was. How do you get to make me feel so good?"

"Natural talent. I love you, sweetheart," Percival whispers, stroking Merlin's face with his hand, cupping the face he loves so much tenderly.

"I love you too." Merlin presses a kiss into his palm. They cuddle down together, wrapped in each others arms, and sleep soon claims them.