Arthur and the Unicorn

It happened after the hunt for the unicorn. Merlin was especially quiet when he brought up Arthur's dinner that night. Arthur sipped his stew and watched him, the stiff line of Merlin's back as he tended to the fire, his jaw set and stubborn as he folded Arthur's laundered clothes.

Merlin was prone to these moods after Will's passing. It had been nearly four months, and Arthur had lulled himself into thinking that perhaps Merlin was getting past his mourning. But apparently he had been wrong.

Arthur left the stew to go stand behind Merlin as he folded clothes. Merlin's arms slowed with each step that Arthur took, and when he was right behind him, Merlin stopped altogether, the tunic drifting to the bed uselessly.

Merlin's back was straight, his body perfectly still as Arthur reached out and touched his neck gently. Merlin's skin was warm and Arthur felt a jolt up his arm.

"Merlin?" he whispered.

For a while they just stood there, Arthur's hand on Merlin's neck, Merlin not facing him. And then Merlin shrugged and Arthur's hand fell limp at his side.

It was a few more moments before Merlin spoke.

"You shouldn't have killed that unicorn."

Arthur's voice rose despite his best efforts. "I was hunting!"

Honestly, just when he thought he knew Merlin—why the hell did his servant care about sodding magical creatures, anyway?

Arthur felt that anger again—this irrational anger he sometimes had toward Merlin. It flared up and clouded his vision until all he wanted to do was lash out and wipe that stupid look off Merlin's face.

But before Arthur could tell him to leave, Merlin turned on his heel and walked out. Arthur stared at the folded laundry sitting at the foot of his bed, that anger eating away inside him until all he could do was to put the clothes away in his wardrobe and finish his stew, chewing the meat into unnecessarily small pieces.

-x-x-x-

After Arthur passes Anhora's tests:

Fine, so maybe Merlin had been right about the unicorn. But Arthur had a hard time just saying that, so he settled for clamping his mouth shut and letting Merlin prattle on and on about the beauty of the creature as he readied Arthur's bath.

Arthur, for his part, was just glad Merlin was back to his old self, not ignoring Arthur and not going into any of his moods. Arthur leaned back in his chair and watched Merlin heat the water in the fireplace.

"I can't believe it let us get that close," Merlin was saying, pouring heated water into the bath and refilling the large kettle with water from a bucket.

They had both steered carefully away from the subject of Anhora's last test and Arthur's decision with the goblets. Arthur was perfectly fine with that.

"Arthur? Are you listening?"

"What?" Arthur sat a little straighter in his chair. "I'm listening."

"I was saying it was really very noble of you to bring back the horn to the forest."

"Oh—yes." The room was suddenly too hot, and Arthur was too big for his skin. Merlin was smiling at him, grinning really, and it made Arthur's throat dry. "I—yes, it was a good thing."

Merlin grinned wider, and attempted to take the kettle off the fire.

"OW!" Merlin dropped the kettle, and then danced out of the way of the boiling water snaking all over the floor.

Arthur was at his side in an instant, pulling Merlin away. Merlin was clutching his hand to his chest, his face scrunched up in pain.

"Let me see that," Arthur said, and to his surprise, Merlin held out his hand without protest. Arthur took it gingerly. It was very, very red, but not too bad off.

Arthur fetched a pail of unheated water and set it on the table. He took Merlin's hand again and sunk it gently under the cool water.

Merlin's face was pained. Without thinking, Arthur reached up a hand and rubbed the back of Merlin's neck.

Merlin's eyes snapped up.

Arthur stopped rubbing. He had that feeling again, like he couldn't fit into his own skin, like he was going to expand and expand and become the air.

Merlin had this look in his eyes, this intense look that Arthur wasn't used to seeing, like Arthur was the only person in the world at that moment.

And then Merlin was moving forward, pressing Arthur into the table and kissing him open-mouthed and hungry like he couldn't get enough. Arthur only had a few moments to think what the hell are we doing and this is wrong until he gave in and kissed Merlin back, pushing his fingers through Merlin's hair.

Arthur was drunk on Merlin, his head light and his hands clumsy as they kissed again and again for he didn't know how long. At some point Merlin guided him toward the bed, pushed him down into it and climbed over him, never breaking their kiss. Arthur's hands didn't know where to go, so he settled for rubbing them all up and down Merlin's side.

"Merlin," he breathed once Merlin broke the kiss, pressing kisses down Arthur's jaw, onto his neck.

Arthur's body was fire, all feeling and too much too much but he wouldn't give it up for the world. Merlin sucked a spot on Arthur's neck and Arthur arched up, up, writhed into Merlin's body above, craving just more touch and more Merlin. He was very hard, and so was Merlin. He could feel Merlin's erection on his thigh and that made him all the more harder.

He pulled at Merlin's shirt, because suddenly it wasn't enough and he wanted to feel Merlin's skin on his, the warmth of it against him. And then it was there, and he didn't remember taking his shirt off but that was gone, too, and Merlin was pulling Arthur on top.

Arthur kissed feverishly down Merlin's body, mumbling nonsense and basking in the fact that Merlin was moaning those little moans for him.

"Merlin," he kept saying over the over. "Merlin Merlin MerlinMerlinMerlin."

It should've been embarrassing, but not when Merlin bit his lips like that and hooked his legs around Arthur like that and flipped them over like that and ground down into Arthur's hips like that and—

And it became very, very important to take off their breeches, at anything keeping them from skin. Arthur didn't know how he managed, only that Merlin's mouth was taking him in—all of him—and the sight was enough to make Arthur come, shivering and shaking.

But Merlin didn't let him go, just kept his mouth around Arthur, kneading at his balls slowly until Arthur was hard again. Arthur wound his hands into Merlin's thick hair and pushed up.

It wasn't enough. He needed more, something of Merlin. But he had only opened his mouth when Merlin lifted Arthur's legs and spread them. Merlin's eyes were closed. Arthur only then realized what Merlin was about to do but it was too late and there was a warmth at his entrance and a pressure and then Merlin was inside and Arthur thought he would burst.

"Breathe, Arthur."

And Merlin's voice was so low, so commanding that Arthur relaxed, and Merlin was slick and moving inside him—and Merlin was inside him. It was too much but Arthur wanted more and more and more.

"Harder," he heard himself say.

Merlin growled and pushed deep inside him. Arthur hooked his legs around Merlin's waist and pulled him deeper harder, until they were both shivering—and then Arthur was too full too full and Merlin hit something in him that made him see stars behind his eyes. Merlin was coming inside him and the thought of it brought Arthur over the edge and they both shook into their orgasms and collapsed into a tangled heap.