This is just a short little piece to help me work out my Arthur/Gwen issues - it has not been beta'd as I haven't found a full-time Merlin beta yet. Do hit me up if you know of anyone suitable (I'm working on a multi-chap that'll need attention soon).

It had been almost a month since he had seen more than passing glimpses of Merlin, so hard the man had been to track down after returning to his old chambers in what used to be Gaius' work-room. Arthur paused outside the door to wonder at the reception he would receive. Merlin had not taken the marriage well, but Arthur had hoped he would come around.

He pushed the door open and stepped through, eyes immediately finding the shock of dark hair, now lightly tempered with grey. Merlin had his back to the entrance, murmuring quietly as his finger skimmed the open book in his hands. Immediately, Arthur's mind dragged him back in time; back to when Merlin had been wide-eyed and idealistic, and Arthur had been noble and headstrong.

Arthur pulled himself back from the memory of easier times just as Merlin turned, fixing Arthur in his sights. The book slid from his hands, pausing suddenly mere inches from the stone floor. Merlin's eyes never left Arthur.

"Merlin." Arthur kept his tone warm, pushing down the hungry claw of want at the sight of the man he had been missing. "You're looking well."

"Sire." Merlin bowed slightly, bending to pick up the fallen book, and turning his back on Arthur. Arthur frowned at the formal address, and also at the dismissal. He stepped forward determinedly.

"The knights tell me you've been holing up in your rooms," he tried, "Gwaine, in particular, complained at your absence. He says no one reacts so well to his teasing as you."

"Sir Gwaine knows where to find me if required," came the curt response.

Arthur's frown turned into a scowl. He stepped closer still, close enough to see the individual curls at the nape of Merlin's neck, and the way his hands shook ever so slightly. Unable to ignore the call any longer, Arthur closed the distance between them and laid his hands on Merlin's shoulders. Merlin's body tensed beneath his touch, and Arthur responded by allowing his fingers to gently roll the muscles beneath them.

"You work too hard," he murmured, close to Merlin's ear.

"Don't you have other duties to attend, sire?" Merlin's voice was steadier than Arthur would have given him credit for. He clenched his jaw before forcibly relaxing his stance, keeping up his fingers steady movement on the muscles in their grasp.

"You are my only duty tonight, Merlin," he murmured, low against the man's neck. He was rewarded with a shudder. Arthur allowed his hands to travel further down Merlin's back.

"Sire, I really am very busy..."

"Would you refuse your king?" Arthur cut him off smoothly, moving until their bodies lightly pressed together, his fingers finding Merlin's hips through the thin trousers he wore, and stroking gently. Merlin drew a shuddering breath and, after a few seconds, his body slumped.

"No, sire," he whispered, "I could no more refuse my king than deny the stars."

Thrilled by his response, Arthur pressed the body in his arms forward, through the door at the far end of the chamber, into the small room that served as Merlin's bedchambers now. Arthur was grateful that he'd replaced the servant bed with one of greater comfort one afternoon Merlin had been gathering herbs, as he pressed the pliant body down upon it.

"I wish you'd return to your old chambers," he murmured against the back of the man's neck, fingers clumsily worrying at buttons he couldn't manipulate, trapped as they were between Merlin's chest and the bed.

"These are my old chambers." Merlin's voice was muffled, positioned as he was. He resisted as Arthur tried to manoeuvre him onto his back, but yielded quickly enough at his king's persistence. Once Arthur had Merlin beneath him, he managed to wrest him of his clothes hastily, excitement making his movements more inelegant than usual.

"I've missed this," Arthur mumbled into the man's naked collarbone as he licked a path across his throat, "I've missed you."

"Arthur..." but Arthur knew that tone, and knew he didn't want to hear whatever thought came with it, so he filled that sweet mouth with his tongue, silencing Merlin as effectively as he knew how.

Merlin remained pliant beneath him as he reaffirmed his knowledge of sensitive spots and acts he knew would raise whimpers, and all the while Merlin looked up at him with a kind of reluctant want in his face.

Arthur wanted his Merlin back; the man who would writhe beneath him, biting and scrabbling, who would ache and need and take just as much as Arthur. This thing with Guinevere had caused more damage than he had anticipated, had struck a deep blow in something Arthur had always believed the most solid thing in his life.

He pressed Merlin's thighs apart, suddenly desperate to own the body pinned beneath him, even as he feared the man that inhabited it was pulling away from him. That thought drove him forward, his fingers quick in their work, channelling a path his cock was swift to follow.

Merlin gasped beneath him at the intrusion, clinging to his forearms, eyes wide with something that made Arthur want to lock him in his chambers and never let him leave. Arthur kept his rhythm steady, unwilling to rush, unsure when his duties, and Merlin himself, would allow them the luxury of each other's bodies again.


"Fetch me Merlin," Arthur sighed, waving an arm at the boy, but the boy merely stood, terror on his face.


"Hurry up, boy!" Arthur snapped, annoyed to be kept waiting.

"But...Merlin left, sire," the boy squeaked, "three days past."

Arthur remained seated at his desk, back rigid, right hand slowly clenching into a fist. Gwaine watched him, worry etched on his face.

"Leave," he commanded the boy, who ran gratefully. He sat a few more minutes, tamping down the raw fury coursing his muscles, before addressing Gwaine without looking up.

"Fetch him back."

"But sire..."

"Fetch him back."

His tone brooked no argument, and Gwaine bowed then took his leave to ready his horse. Arthur remained at his desk well into the night, staring blankly at the wall.

As always, your views are greatly appreciated.