Disclaimer: I don't own the characters and I'd like to say the sap also belongs to BBC, but I'm not so sure. The sex is probably not anything BBC or the show's creators would like to claim but they ought to consider it.

After S4x9 I was so distraught that I started writing a deleted scene. This wasn't intended to be more than one little scene, one I could imagine actually airing (that is, if they could get anything right)...but naturally as soon as I started writing Arthur went all OOC and...well, it got a bit shmoopy and out of hand after that.

This is my very first beta'd fic (I know, embarrassing, I've been publishing without a beta) and I'm so grateful to rhythm junkie for it. It wasn't scary at all! Any errors or silliness are entirely mine.

Beware, S4x9 spoilers abound.


Arthur confronts Guinevere and sends her away. Devastated, he retires to his chambers and demands not to be disturbed. Merlin grows concerned and goes to check on Arthur anyway.

The torches lighting the corridor are waning. As Merlin nears Arthur's chambers he hears loud crashes and a strangled cry.

He speeds to the door and pushes through to find the room in a shambles. Furniture is overturned and the floor littered with debris. Arthur kneels in the centre of the room with his hands buried in his hair and his head bowed. It's dim, but anguish is etched on the King's face in the twist of his mouth and the shadows on his cheek.

Merlin goes to Arthur and kneels beside him, laying a hand on his shoulder.


Arthur's eyes are lost as he turns. "Merlin…what have I done?"

"Sire? What have you…?"

"Yes! I! What have I done? I did this. I did it."

"Arthur, if anyone is blameless here certainly it's…"

"Don't! Merlin, don't try to absolve me of this. I've done so much harm. If I had just been honest…"

"I don't understand. Honest…?"

Arthur lifts a hand to Merlin's kerchief and gently strokes it once before curling Merlin's tunic in his fist. His eyes widen and his breath stalls in his throat. "Merlin, I need you to understand. Please tell me you understand."

"Uh, I…"

"Merlin, the lies! We've been telling such lies. If' I'd been honest none of this would have…. Oh, Gods! Gwen, and noble Lancelot! They were only…"

Merlin steadies Arthur, who sways and grasps at him. He spreads his fingers across Arthur's biceps and looks into his King's wild eyes. They are quiet for a moment. Merlin's deep breaths begin to match Arthur's and the energy between them lights. Merlin studies Arthur for a sign, for permission.

"Tell me, Arthur. What have we been lying about?"

"Merlin, you know. You know it was wrong of me to pursue Guinevere. To court her. To propose to her. You know why."

"I know, Arthur. You have to tell me."

Arthur releases his grip on Merlin's shirt. His hand trembles as he lifts it toward Merlin's face. He grazes Merlin's cheek with his knuckles and then drops his hand to his lap.

"There's only ever been one, Merlin. When I gave you my mother's sigil… I wanted… I hoped you'd understand. I didn't expect to live but I hoped you'd understand how I felt. I should have told you long ago, but I've been a coward. And I hoped you knew. I…I…."

Merlin clasps Arthur's hands in his lap. "It's ok, Arthur. It's ok."

"It's not, Merlin. I led her on. I wanted to be different. I hid from you and lied to Gwen and drove her… There was never anything but friendship between us. She wanted to be there for me. Maybe she wanted me to love her, too. But Lancelot was always better for her. "

Arthur shakes his head and looks up at Merlin as his voice drops to a near whisper. "I couldn't give her love because I'm in love with you, Merlin. It's been you for so long."

Merlin swiftly wraps his arms around Arthur, who holds stiff in Merlin's embrace. "It's not your fault, Arthur. You were trying to do the right thing."

"No, no. It was never the right thing. Lying is never the right thing. It was cruel. I let Gwen think there was something wrong with her that I didn't feel… And Lancelot. Gods! He took his life!" Arthur chokes on a sob and Merlin pulls him in tighter, Arthur's wet cheek to his shoulder.

"You never wanted anyone to get hurt, I know you didn't Arthur. You are a good man. ...the best…"

Arthur calms himself and pulls back, moulding his palm to Merlin's jaw. "You are precious to me. I hurt you most of all. I'm so sorry, Merlin. I've been wretched. I had no right… you, of all people. I owe you my life many times over."

Merlin falters for a moment, his eyes a rising tide. "I…you don't owe me anything, Arthur." He hesitates. "...if this is gratitude…"

"Merlin…how could you think…?" Arthur digs a firm hand into the scruff at the back of Merlin's neck and tugs. He kisses him softly at first and then growls, forcing his mouth roughly against Merlin's. They fumble to their knees. Arthur's hands explore Merlin's face, the lines of his brow, his cheek, his jaw. They trace the tight sinew of Merlin's neck, down Merlin's arms, leaving goose bumps under the fabric, along the angles and slope of Merlin's lower back, over his buttocks. Merlin whimpers as he wraps his arms around Arthur's shoulders, and let's himself be pushed back onto the floor.

Arthur nudges Merlin's legs apart with his knee and settles himself between them, his body pressed heavily on top of Merlin.

"I swear to you…" he gasps and pulls back slightly. His eyes search Merlin's face as he runs a thumb over his bottom lip. He hooks his thumb into Merlin's mouth, skimming Merlin's teeth, the edge of Merlin's tongue. And then kisses him hard, moaning, pressing his thumb and his lips into Merlin's mouth.

Arthur then drags his wet thumb over Merlin's cheekbone. "You are gorgeous. I swear to you, as grateful as I am - what I feel is not chaste. It's not noble. It's not generous. It's selfish and very dirty."

Merlin exhales deeply and beams at Arthur, a wicked smile playing across his red lips. Merlin grabs Arthur's arse and grinds himself into Arthur's hip.

Arthur groans. "Very dirty."

Merlin leans up and kisses Arthur, angling his head to get closer, deeper. He bites at the corner of Arthur's mouth, licks into Arthur, moulds his swollen lips to Arthur's heated mouth.

"I. Love. You. Arthur, " he says between kisses.

"And I you. More than I have any right to."

Arthur lets one last kiss linger before tugging Merlin to his feet. He takes Merlin's hand and leads him to the bed.

"Merlin, will you stay with me? Tonight? I know we have a lot to talk about. I have no right to ask it of you. I promise I won't… We'll sleep. I just…I've waited so long. And before it's day, and before we deal with all my mistakes, and before you remind me what an arrogant prat I am, I just want to hold you."

Merlin squeezes Arthur's hand and breaks into a blinding smile. He pecks Arthur on the cheek, and bounces himself onto the bed.

Scene Fade

Hours Later

The candles have long since burned out and the room is chilled. Arthur's bare chest is pressed against Merlin's naked back and his arms hold Merlin tightly. They are both slumbering heavily when Merlin jerks awake and elbows Arthur as his limbs fly.



Merlin huffs and cranes his neck to see Arthur coming into groggy consciousness. "Merlin?" Arthur slurs.

Merlin turns away and buries his head in the pillow. Arthur reaches for him and tugs on his shoulder. "Merlin?"

"Hmmm?" he moans into the pillow.

"You okay?"

Merlin shudders and pulls away from Arthur fractionally. "I had a bad dream. I… I'm scared, Arthur."

Arthur lies on his back for a moment looking up at the bed canopy, and then leans over and puts his chin on the jut of Merlin's shoulder.

"Merlin, talk to me. What is it? Are you worried about what's going to happen with Gwen?"

"I wasn't…I mean…no, that wasn't… but, yes, that too…"

Merlin turns to face Arthur and they lie side by side. Arthur strokes Merlin's hair, and then begins to trace the lines of Merlin's face.

"You know I'm going to have to bring her back. I have to do right by her. Do the honorable thing."

Merlin nods.

"Of course I can't make things right. It's too late for that. Too late for Guinevere and…gods know too late for Lancelot." Lancelot's name is a rasp on Arthur's tongue. An accusation. "I can only try to make amends."

"It's my responsibility, too, Arthur. I'm in this with you."

"Merlin, I promise you no matter what Guinevere chooses –whether she chooses to hold out for love or chooses to be queen of Camelot – she'll understand that only one person will ever share my bed. I'll do the honorable thing, I will play the part for Camelot, but there will be no more lies between us. Camelot might have her queen, but I will have you at whatever cost."

Arthur's fingers on Merlin's cheek are suddenly wet. Arthur tries to pull Merlin in for an embrace but Merlin pushes him away.

He's weeping and Arthur is frantic at his sudden anguish. "What is it, Merlin? Tell me. Will this be too hard? Too painful?" Merlin sobs with his knuckles buried in his eyes. "Please, you've got to talk to me. Please."

Finally, Merlin begins to calm and wipe the tears from his face. He sits up, strokes Arthur's head and then turns away. "I understand what you have to do for Gwen. It's the right thing to do. I would never begrudge you that, nor Guinevere. I want that. That's why I love you. I'm crying because I fear I'll lose you anyway."

Arthur sits up and rubs Merlin's back, his palm warming at the touch of Merlin's skin. "Why, Merlin? Don't you trust me?"

Merlin turns, takes Arthur's hands, and looks for something in his eyes. "Arthur, how can you ask that? You're the most trustworthy person I know. I trust you with my life. …But…"


"But…I haven't trusted you with my secret. I'm afraid when I do that I'll lose you forever. I've been afraid…so afraid…that I've kept something enormous from you. Something essential to who I am."

Arthur contemplates Merlin, his expression unreadable. "I've always known you were keeping something from me, Merlin. How many times have I said that? I've always wished that you would trust me. Please, will you?"

"It's never been that I didn't trust you. You have to know that. It isn't a matter of mistrust. But your beliefs – what you've been taught, everything you know…. What I am is…by your own value system I am an abomination and that fact is…" Merlin's eyes blur and he tucks his chin into his chest, crying silently.

"Merlin…it can't be that bad. You're the kindest, gentlest person I've ever known. You're good. There's no way I could think you an abomination. Please." As Arthur speaks he tries to lift Merlin's chin, but Merlin is overcome and can't look at Arthur.

"I'm…Arthur, you don't understand. I'm…magic. I'm magic, Arthur."

Arthur is still, his expression perplexed. His brow cut deep with lines. In the silence, Merlin waits with his head hung like that of a condemned man.

"You're magic? You practice magic? What does it mean to be magic?"

Merlin looks up at Arthur with his head still bowed. "I am magic, Arthur. I practice magic the way you breathe. It's not something I chose, not something I can do more than my best to control, but it's who I am, how I was born. I try only to use it for good…have only ever used it to protect you. I've hidden it to save my life from your father. …And to save my heart from ruin."

Arthur's face is a quickly advancing storm. He shifts away from Merlin and slowly begins to shake his head.

"No, no, no…I don't… how…you've lied? All this time? You've kept this from me? How could you?"

Merlin's lips curl down and his eyes shut as he gathers strength.

His fists ball and his shoulders bunch, and then his eyes blink open. His voice is steady when he responds. "Because, Arthur, I am what you hate most in this world. And I love you! What choice did that leave me? How do I reconcile those things? How could I not lie, when the truth meant losing…everything. Not just my life, but the love of my life?"

Merlin catches his breath and waits, but Arthur continues to shake his head, warring fury and confusion in the tightness of his mouth and the pinch of his eyes.

Merlin then begins to move away, climbing off the bed, again in tears. "It's pointless, I know that. I knew I would lose you. This. This is why I never told you. Because I couldn't bear the thought of this."

Merlin grabs his trousers off the back of a chair by the bed and stumbles into them. In the shadows, the sharp angles of his face are distorted with pain as though the bones had crumbled beneath his skin. He doesn't look at Arthur, frozen on the bed. He can't get out of the room fast enough, pulling his tunic over his head as he moves through the dark for the door. The door is open and he's halfway through it when the anger that is his momentum dies, suddenly, in the frigid air of the corridor that leads nowhere.

Now the anger won't propel him. He'll have to find the strength to move elsewhere. He straightens up and, with his back still to Arthur, he finds the voice to say, "I'm sorry. I never wanted to lie. It was painful every day to hide from you. I didn't believe I had a choice. I still don't believe I had a choice. But I never loved you any less."

It's the sadness that finally forces his feet across the threshold into the hall. He takes two swift steps away from the room and flattens his back against the wall. Every step further away is going to hurt. He feels himself floating like a water-bloated wreck whose anchor has just severed from its chain. He is weightless and a thousand stone all at once, and he's not sure how he's going to make his body leave the castle. He concentrates on breathing, his eyes closed and his skin prickling with magic that's trying to help. That's it. He'll magic himself away. Somewhere far away.

His eyes still closed, he gathers the force of it from under his skin, from the very centre of him, until he knows he is glowing with it, creating wind that will sweep the corridor clean of him in a moment. And then, in that moment, a touch breaks through his magic aura and a voice follows it. "Merlin, don't…"

At once the magic dies around him and his wrist burns at the touch. He's afraid of what he'll see if he opens his eyes, so he waits. "Merlin," says Arthur, gently, "don't go."

What he sees when he opens his eyes is not what he expected. Arthur is looking on him with wonder, not fear. With love, possibly. Not anger.


"Merlin, I don't know…I'm confused. I'm scared, I think. I'm shocked. I don't know what to think, but I know I can't lose you. Please come back. Talk to me."

Arthur's fingers slide between Merlin's and he pulls Merlin back into his chambers, walking Merlin slowly toward the bed, looking over his shoulder as if to be sure Merlin doesn't evaporate in the night air.

When they get to the bedside he stills and looks aimlessly around the room for a moment. His eyes stop when they find their way back to Merlin, and he looks half-broken but determined. "Merlin, I trust you. I always have. I've only ever seen magic do evil, but I know you're good. Show me. Something. Show me who you are."

Even in darkness the light returns to Merlin's features, as though the bones had knitted back together into seamless perfection, the despair wiped away by the tiny smile working its way onto his face. He squeezes Arthur's hand, turns and, with a flash of his eyes, ignites the dead embers in the fireplace. The fire smolders for a second then roars to life. He looks to Arthur and studies him for a moment in the new light of the flames. He tucks a playful finger under Arthur's chin, and then turns to the debris from Arthur's earlier tantrum and pushes the force of his magic in a wave over it. Papers fly from the floor into orderly stacks on Arthur's desk. Clothing is sent neatly back to the cupboard. Plates and goblets are returned to the table, which rights itself. Merlin's eyes glow with the easy effort and he beams in the instant his magic leaves him. Arthur is still holding one of his hands in a fierce grip.

The room is tidy in mere moments and the playfulness of it leaves Merlin quickly. He regards the awe on Arthur's face and frowns. "Arthur, I can't."

"Apparently you can…"

"No, I mean, I can't prove it to you. I can't show you that it's good because it isn't. Cleaning your room, lighting the fire…they're chores. Magic is a tool. The tool can be used for good or evil. I choose to use it for good. But I can't prove goodness to you with parlor tricks. Magic is… it's also my lifeblood. I choose not to be corrupted. I can only hope that you know who I am."

Arthur's brow is creased but he gives Merlin's hand a squeeze. "I need time, Merlin. But I think I need you most of all…"

Scene Fade

This is a family show, so naturally the scene ends there. Lucky for us, there was a Director's Cut. I think Colin choreographed the remainder because it is decidedly MPOV.

Director's Cut:

…I need to feel you. I need to…"

"Touch me."

Arthur grasps the hem of Merlin's tunic and lifts it high enough to allow him to lay his hand on Merlin's stomach. He flattens his palm and spreads his fingers and presses into the flesh, wrapping his other arm around Merlin's back, holding him. Merlin's breath moves his body under Arthur's hand and he leans until his forehead is on Arthur's shoulder. Arthur's calloused hand slides up his abdomen, across his chest, and lightly teases his nipple. Merlin inhales a shaky breath at the touch, and wraps his arms around Arthur so that Arthur's hand is caught in the weight of their bodies. Arthur's fingers play Merlin's nipple, his index finger circling while his thumb strokes it. Merlin's breathing grows heavier. His hands slide down Arthur's naked back and under the waist of his trousers so that his fingers and palm slip into the crevice of Arthur's arse. Merlin's long middle finger reaches lightly down, down until he's playing in the space so close…

"Oh, gods, Merlin…"

Arthur presses his arse against Merlin's hand and uses the leverage he has to push Merlin back onto the bed, tumbling on top of him.

"Get…clothes off." Merlin reaches for the button on Arthur's trousers while still teasing the skin of his arse, almost just grazing his balls. Arthur groans, "Merlin, can't you…magic…faster…"

Merlin laughs and slides Arthur's trousers off with a flick of his hand. Arthur straddles Merlin's leg and pushes his thigh into Merlin's groin, grasping Merlin's wrists and pinning them above his head. "You are a treasonous manservant, Merlin. I'm fairly certain that's not the first time you've removed my pants with magic."

Merlin's returning grin is a poor attempt at innocence. "I would never, Sire…"

"Insolent traitor. Admit it," Arthur growls, and nips at Merlin's ear. "And why on earth are you still clothed? Can we evaporate these, immediately?" he asks, nodding at Merlin to indicate anything that might be covering skin.

Merlin realizes with surprise it's an incantation he's never learned. "I've never…" Arthur raises a dubious eyebrow "never had reason to simply evaporate garments."

"I suppose I should be grateful." Arthur uses the hard edge of his tongue to tickle the rim of Merlin's earlobe. "Figure it out."

Merlin whimpers and loses focus for a second as the sensation at his ear whispers through his body, into his limbs and between his legs. His cock is trapped under Arthur's thigh and growing hard.

Motivation is inspiration. With a huff of breath his tunic and trousers curl into nothing, as though the particles had shrunk until they were consumed by the air. In seamless motion, Arthur transfers his grasp of Merlin's wrists into one hand and slides the other down the soft underside of Merlin's arm, allowing his fingers to play with the elbow, tickle the outer edge of his armpit, and then continue over Merlin's sharp ribcage. Merlin shivers and Arthur let's out a small hum of approval.

"Better," is all Arthur gives as he wraps the spread of his palm and fingers around Merlin's waist and then roughly drags his hand down until he's gripping hard into the bony flesh of Merlin's hip. And then Arthur starts moving, shifting his weight over Merlin to create friction, not rutting hard but slowly stroking them both with the press of their bodies.

The movement is delicious and teases out something desperate in Merlin's gut. Merlin has never…he's thinking, when Arthur whispers into the crook of his neck, "Have you ever…?"

"Not exactly," which is vague enough to be true and true enough in his heart. "Have you…?"

Arthur lifts his head to press his lips to the bones that frame Merlin's face. "Not that's worth counting, and nothing like this," and Arthur releases Merlin's wrists to hold his chin and jaw, his other hand still at Merlin's waist, stroking Merlin's hip with his thumb. He nips at Merlin's bottom lip, licks softly, and then pins Merlin with the hand at his jaw and his own mouth. Arthur's kiss is an argument, his lips pressing, be mine, and then, you are mine, into Merlin's hungry mouth. The argument turns into a taunt when Arthur draws back a fraction, restraining Merlin when he tries to lean up to recapture the kiss.

His breath is hot against Merlin's lips. "You want me to kiss you?" Merlin strains against Arthur's grip and whines. "How badly?"

"Arthur!" Merlin manages to twist up and brush his lips against Arthur's briefly. Arthur nips at his plump bottom lip before pulling back again, teasing the skin of Merlin's pelvis and pushing hard against his groin as he does.

Merlin's answering groan is low and almost inhuman. "I'll have you on your back in a second, Arthur."

Arthur arches his back and shifts, stroking his cock against Merlin's hip, "Go on then."

Magic grips Arthur's wrists and pulls them away from Merlin's skin. His strength drains and Merlin softly rolls Arthur underneath him, seating himself in Arthur's lap and taking hold of Arthur's biceps. He moves in slowly for a kiss, returning Arthur's strength to him just as their lips meet. Arthur moans heat into Merlin's mouth and clasps his arms around Merlin's thin frame. "You've let me push you around all these years?"

"Mmmmm," and Merlin licks back into Arthur's mouth, pressing his arse down on Arthur's erection. Arthur's hips jerk in response and he mumbles around Merlin's tongue. Merlin feels desire and his magic shivering between his legs and along the surface of his skin, the taste of Arthur at once familiar and also so much more of everything he knows about the man. There is alchemy in the meeting of their lips, Merlin is sure. Something golden born of his soft skin on Arthur's rougher skin. It's only the urgency building lower and lower, down to his curled toes, that finally drags his mouth away.

"Tell me." Because Arthur feels it too. "What do you…?"

Merlin's answer is a search behind Arthur's dark eyes. Arthur's jaw is slack and lids heavy, his expression a mixture of lust and an openness that Merlin knows his King can't often afford. Arthur seems to understand because he kisses Merlin once, slowly, before leaning back and pressing his fingers into the flesh of Merlin's buttocks. Merlin shifts up on his knees and inches forward until his cock is at Arthur's lips. His thighs strain as he lowers himself, but he's determined to watch as Arthur's mouth wraps around the head. Any remaining blood above Merlin's waist rushes down at the sensation of hot, wet mouth around his cock and Merlin swoons for a second, catching himself with a hand on Arthur's shoulder. Arthur hums around Merlin's cock and rolls his tongue over the head, licks into the slit, and then leans up to take Merlin deeper.

"Oh, oh,..." Merlin's free hand wraps tight around the base of his cock and tugs, the movement out of his control. He's in an awkward position, crouched over Arthur, his weight in his haunches and on the arm pressed into Arthur's shoulder. But his sight is blurred and his awareness background noise to the sensation of Arthur's tongue licking up the underside of his cock and then the tight suck of cheeks pulling pleasure out of Merlin unlike anything he's ever known.

Arthur's grip on Merlin's arse tightens and he pulls him in, asking him to fuck his mouth with his hands on Merlin's slick skin. Perspiration tickles at the small of his back, his forehead, above his lip, and he slides deeper into Arthur's mouth. He tries to be gentle but the movement overtakes him and his hips thrust hard once, catching the back of Arthur's throat. Arthur makes a noise like a soft gag but encourages Merlin with his hands, guiding him in and out until Arthur's tongue and throat soften and Merlin is nearly balls deep into Arthur's mouth with every thrust. Merlin is gasping now, and moaning, and his eyes swim. The strain of his position while fire burns in his gut and his balls tighten is too much and he falls forward with his hands above Arthur's head, fucking into Arthur's mouth on all fours, knees bent low and arse spread wide.

Arthur slows when Merlin feels the tension and pleasure climbing, dragging his tongue and tight lips up and, then back down, moving a hand behind Merlin to massage his balls. "Fuck, Arthur…" The pace is agony and Merlin feels his orgasm begin to build almost in slow-motion, pleasure mapping it's way through the nerve endings of his limbs and gut and throat and mouth until it breaks and whites out everything. He screams as Arthur is swallowing around his come, and he's shaking on his limbs, his elbows bent and his face pressed into the mattress above Arthur.

When awareness and the shadows of the room return to him he's lying on his side and Arthur's face is burrowed into his stomach. Merlin whimpers and slides down Arthur's body, curling into him and tucking his shoulders and crossed arms into Arthur's embrace. "Mmmmm, Arthur. Was that for my service to Camelot?" he smiles into Arthur's chest.

Arthur chuckles. "I'm sure Camelot owes you, but that was most definitely for me. "

"From you," Merlin purrs and stretches, reaching a lazy hand down to Arthur's erection.

Arthur groans as Merlin's long fingers wrap around him. "That too. But I think I enjoyed it as much as you did."

"Not unless you passed out," and Merlin twists his hand, strokes up at the same time that he presses an open-mouthed kiss to Arthur's chest. Arthur is leaking and Merlin uses it to slick his hand before stroking him again, sucking soft, flat-tongued kisses into Arthur's chest and around his nipple. He skims the tip of his tongue over the hard nipple as he picks up the pace and Arthur sighs and shifts his hip up into Merlin's strong hand. Arthur is on his back and Merlin leans up over him, kissing and nipping a trail down Arthur's abdomen. He noses the curled hairs and then lifts Arthur's thigh, hooking his knee over his shoulder, spreading Arthur open under him.

Merlin has no idea what to do with his magic, which is reaching for Arthur almost as strongly as his own desire. It's an element of his desire. He's scared to touch Arthur with more than the human heat of his hands or the wet of his mouth, but the urgency to be inside of Arthur with the same energy he pulls from the earth is strong. His hand on Arthur's cock slows without intention and he's lost between Arthur's powerful thighs, needing to touch…to crawl inside.

"Merlin…?" Arthur's voice is hoarse and sensitive. His usual bite is gone. He's close to undone, calling Merlin back to him. "You don't have to…"

Merlin sighs against the soft flesh on the inside of Arthur's thigh and stills his strokes completely while carefully fingering the puckered flesh at Arthur's hole. "Oh, gods!" Arthur's words melt into babble.

Merlin stops a moment and whispers into Arthur's flesh, "Can I?"


"Do you understand? My magic?"

Arthur thrusts his cock into Merlin's hand and groans, "Merlin, you're killing me. Please!"

Merlin warms and slicks the hand around Arthur's cock with magic and returns to a quicker stroke, sliding his thumb over the wet head. He plants his lips and the soft nip of his teeth into Arthur's thigh before licking at Arthur's hole, letting his magic warm and soften the skin there. Arthur comes apart almost instantly, not in thrashing movement but like he's unraveling from the inside. Merlin's magic opens Arthur for him just enough for him to stick the end of his forefinger into the heat and he feels Arthur's pleasure in the energy passing between them. Merlin's own cock twitches and he ruts into the mattress as he fingers Arthur's hole and rubs his cock faster. Merlin's magic is an extension of his senses and it's deep inside Arthur, shuddering with him and through Merlin. Arthur's neck is bared to the sky beyond their room, his back arched, animal noises coming from deep in his throat. Arthur clenches around Merlin's fingers and rasps out, "Oh, fuck, Merlin!" He white knuckles the sheets and at the last moment before he comes apart in Merlin's hand, he rips at Merlin's hair. His grunt and mumbled affections in the grip of his own pleasure are the least noble and most beautiful things Merlin has ever heard fall from Arthur's lips.

Before Arthur fully returns to himself, Merlin gently cleans them up with the bed sheets. And shortly Merlin is back in his new favorite spot, curled in Arthur's embrace. "I think there's a piece of my scalp still in your fist." Arthur merely tightens his embrace.

Silence threads its way between them, settles in the moments when dawn breaks grey light over them. Merlin shivers as his sweat and Arthur's cools and dries on his skin. Arthur's voice is rough when he finally speaks low to Merlin. "It's going to hurt, Merlin. You know that?"

Merlin swallows. "I know. It'll be all right."

"I wish it could be different."

"I love Gwen, too. We'll find room for all the pieces."

"You are truly good, Merlin."

"Even my magic?"

Arthur presses a kiss to Merlin's forehead. "So far, I'm a quite fond of your magic."