Story takes place immediately after season 2.
Full Summary: After Merlin banished the Great Dragon, Uther throws a celebratory feast and invites the noblemen of the neighboring kingdoms. Meanwhile, a herd of unicorns are passing through the forest, and they make themselves visible to Merlin. There is an innocence and purity in the young wizard, and the unicorns think him a kindred spirit. But we all know how Arthur cannot resist hunting innocent things! Slowly, Arthur finds himself drawn to Merlin, his hunter's instincts working in a rather different way. Merlin, too, finds it harder and harder to resist his prince. But it seems that not just Merlin knows there are unicorns in the forest; some of these visitors wants to capture these powerful magical creatures. Merlin and Arthur must make sure power does not fall into the wrong hands.
Merlin knelt on the soft grass and laid his head against the unicorn's flank. He had come to the forest for some quiet. Inside the walls of Camelot, the buzz of preparations and excitement grew, kings and representatives from the bordering kingdoms have come to celebrate the triumph against the last dragon. Uther had proclaimed it would be the feast of feasts.
"And they do not know who brought them this triumph, dragonlord?"
The unicorns arrived in the forest roughly the same time as the bordering kings. There was a herd of them, they had beckoned Merlin the same way the dragon did, through dreams, and visions and voices in his head. Their voices were deeply unseating, Merlin felt as if it was the calling of kin. It was a feeling he had not felt since Balinor. The unicorn herd welcomed him, the last dragonlord, one of magic-kind.
"Foolish men. They think they can defeat a magical-beast without the help of magic-kind. Did you come here because you were tired of their idiocy?" This was the unicorn lord of the herd.
"I came because I couldn't bear the celebrating whilst Balinor is dead."
It was almost winter in Camelot, the cold seeped straight through his servant clothes and was sharp against his skin.
"Why stay in Camelot, Merlin? You are the last dragonlord now, your place amongst magic-kind is unchallenged. Look at you in your human clothes. Man humiliates you with these sorry excuses for wool."
"I stay for Arthur," said Merlin, the answer was simple.
"For a slayer of unicorns?"
"He's proven himself pure of heart."
Merlin's lips curved upwards, as they automatically did every time he thought of Arthur. He pressed himself closer to the unicorn for warmth. And he could not help imagining it was Arthur's silken hair against his cheeks.
"He's a hunter," said the unicorn lord.
"He's my friend."
The unicorn snorted, his flank vibrating in a comforting way.
"That is biggest lie I have ever heard, Merlin Emrys. He is much more to you than that, and you to him."
"What's wrong with loving Arthur?"
"As a unicorn, I find it strange. Do you remember the first unicorn Arthur hunted? Arthur wanted its horn, he fell for its pureness, its silken mane and soft flank. There is the aura of the unicorn on you; Arthur fell for the white innocence in your soul, for your pale, ethereal beauty. And he will cast a net upon you and make you his. And you, Merlin. You are a prey in love with the hunter. I think you love his hunter's eyes devouring you. I think you find it erotic to serve your master."
After a few moments of silence, the unicorn prodded Merlin gently. "I am right, am I not? The thought of surrendering to him arouses you."
And he was right. The image the unicorn painted made Merlin blush. His breath was becoming shorter, and coarser.
"It's not so complicated. I'm happy to serve Arthur in whatever way he wants. I'm happy to serve him for the rest of my life. I miss Balinor. But I won't seek comfort in magic. I won't leave Arthur."
Once more his heart sank at the thought of Balinor. If his father had been alive, would Merlin leave Camelot, bring Balinor to Ealdor? Would he be living with a united family by now? Would Uther end his feud with Balinor, and leave him be? So much could have happened; so much could have been different in his life-
"Don't think about Balinor, pretty one. Come with me, I'll bring you to visit my herd. That'll cheer you up."
The unicorn lord led Merlin deeper into the forest to find the rest of his herd. Twelve unicorns were grazing under a shelter of trees. Their manes, long and twining with the falling leaves took Merlin's breath away.
As if they could feel Merlin's appreciation,the unicorns thumped their white forelegs in welcome; they surrounded him and whinnied that the dragonlord was beautiful too.
The unicorn lord nudged Merlin. "My mate has recently given birth to a son. He's only few weeks old. Would you like to see him, dragonlord?"
Merlin eagerly followed the lord of unicorns behind a particularly big tree. He heard a tiny whine, a tiny voice like the chiming of bells.
"His name is Wild," said the unicorn lord.
Merlin peeked behind the tree, and grinned. Wild stared at him with huge, bright black eyes. He did not have horns yet, but when Merlin looked closely, there was a tiny bump on his forehead.
It turned out Wild could already speak a few words.
Dragonlord. Son of Balinor.
"I have told him about you," said the unicorn lord.
"Hello," Merlin whispered, "My name is Merlin."
Merlin…Arthur's lover, Arthur's Merlin…
"I am not his lover," said Merlin gently, "I'm his servant."
Merlin turned to the unicorn lord. "How does he know about Arthur?"
"I did not tell him of your prince. Young unicorns have powers of foresight. Wild is made of more spirit than flesh."
"What does he mean by 'Arthur's lover' ?"
"I think you know what it means. Dragonlord, if you don't make a move, the prince of Camelot will claim you for his own."
Merlin could not think of a reply, so he turned to the unicorn lord and said, "It's late. I should leave now. They might notice my absence." At once his heart leapt back to Camelot, even as the unicorn lord brought him to the edge of the forest.
Arthur would be training now. Later Merlin would lead his horse to the stables, and then fetch Arthur's dinner from the kitchens.
The unicorn lord snorted. "I wish Balinor was still alive. He'd have skinned Arthur for bewitching you like this."
Arthur saw Merlin approach the side of the training field. He struggled to pay attention to the knights; he couldn't be distracted in a duel. Sword fighting was the last thing on his mind, however, with Merlin barely twenty meters from him.
He sneaked glances at Merlin, swerving this way and that to keep him in his peripheral vision as he approached.
Merlin's features were ethereal, so pale and silken; the skin on his neck was just begging to be bruised. Arthur often caught himself wondering what Merlin's thighs would be like, if his face and hands constantly under the sun was still so pale and soft.
He sometimes wondered how he failed to notice the beauty in his servant the first time they met.
Obviously his knights knew merchandise when they saw it, because half of them had paused to stare. Growling, Arthur stiffened. He slammed his sword into his scabbard.
Merlin jumped at the sound of sword sliding into scabbard. Arthur was striding towards him. He yelled "Dismissed!" at the knights, and they turned to their own servants and horses. Arthur slung an arm around Merlin. It could be passed off from afar as a friendly gesture, but Merlin's heart leapt as Arthur pressed him possessively to his chest.
He could smell Arthur. Arthur's sweet scent of sweat and soap. Merlin closed his eyes, and breathed deeply.
Recently the two of them had been exchanging rather intimate gestures. Merlin wasn't sure when or how it started, but Arthur would find excuses to touch him, a firm, possessive caress during a banquet when some lord or lady glances at him, a wistful hand on his shoulder before bed. And Merlin would lean close to Arthur when he dressed him, would lean close to Arthur when he prepared a bath.
Arthur knew Merlin's love for him ran beyond master and servant. And Merlin knew it was the same for Arthur.
Merlin sniffed again, but this time Arthur heard him. Merlin felt Arthur's hard chest and muscles shiver.
But they both let the situation stay as it is, the two of them standing now on the training fields, Merlin in Arthur's arms, and they did not make any further moves. They were too afraid to step forward; too afraid they would invite some kind of disaster would bring an end to this delicate balance of touch-then-move-away.
Besides, Arthur was a lot kinder to Merlin now, and that was already very satisfying. Arthur treated Merlin with a gentleness he never knew the prince possessed. It was a thrilling sort of gentleness, Arthur was hunter, and Merlin found his gentleness arousing, because he knew Arthur was applying iron self-control.
Merlin untied Arthur's horse. He knelt down, and braced himself. His master stepped onto his back, and for a moment, Merlin allowed himself to indulge in the feeling of Arthur upon him, pushing him into the earth.
"Get on the horse with me," said Arthur.
Usually a servant led the horse by the rein and walked on foot.
Arthur was smiling, but his eyes were firm. "It's a command, Merlin."
Merlin's mind went blank at the smile. All he could do was obey. Arthur hauled him up effortlessly, and placing Merlin in front of him. Arthur grasped the reins, his arms around Merlin. He jerked the reins, and the horse turned towards Camelot.
Merlin served Arthur dinner in his rooms.
Well this is a surprise, Merlin," said Arthur between mouthfuls, "You've actually served dinner without dropping anything."
"I'll take that as a compliment, sire," Merlin muttered sarcastically.
"Have you eaten anything?"
No. But I'd rather not go down to the servants' hall when I can spend the hour with you.
"Good. You need to wash my chain mail, sharpen my sword, and mend my boots. Get a move on it, Merlin, don't just stand there glaring at me."
Should have left when I had the chance.
Later that night, as Merlin began to put away the plates, Arthur sat by the window-sill, staring out at the quieter, but still bustling streets of Camelot, Merlin sharpening his sword.
Merlin glanced at Arthur occasionally, admiring his firm jaw line, which was so tantalizing on display. He smiled.
"Is this what you do at night when I go about my chores? Sit and stare out the window?"
"I'm…" Arthur paused for a moment, "thinking, Merlin."
"You? Think? Sire?" said Merlin in the same tone he asks 'You're not fat, sire?'
"Merlin!" Arthur threw a cushion at Merlin without turning away from the window.
"What were you thinking of?"
"Nothing," said Arthur evasively.
And then Arthur surprised Merlin by blushing. He folded his arms and looked away. Merlin frowned. Was it something he said?
Burning with curiosity, because few things could make the crown prince blush, Merlin peaked out the window over Arthur's shoulder.
The window looked straight toward Merlin's rooms.
Merlin smiled goofishly.
But Arthur didn't find this funny. As they both fell silent, tension grew in the room.
Merlin was now feeling slightly uncomfortable. He was incredibly pleased to learn that Arthur actually thoughtabout him, but he really didn't know how to respond.
Arthur glanced at him. Their eyes made contact, Merlin quickly looked away. The restrained love and lust, the mixture of gentleness and possessiveness in Arthur's eyes scorched Merlin.
"I…" Merlin gulped awkwardly, "I think I should go help Gwen in the kitchens now. There's that feast coming up."
"No, stay," said Arthur, "I've actually been meaning to ask you something."
Merlin cocked his head inquisitively.
Merlin's hand tightened on the cloth and sword-polish.
"I've noticed something about you, Merlin. You…
Terror blocked out the rest of Arthur's rant. Merlin felt his own head buzzing.
Surely it wasn't about his magic? Had Arthur seen it, when the dragon attacked? Had he seen it when they were with Balinor?
All the warm feelings in Merlin's heart went cold.
Arthur was never even going to look at him again. Merlin didn't think he could bear that. Not after losing Balinor.
"…you always disappear in the forest in the afternoons. Gaius says he's got no idea what you're up to. And you're so…you're down Merlin, especially after that dragon attack…"
Oh. It wasn't about his magic after all.
"…and I don't think it's shock or anything like that, it's much more serious. Gaius kept saying you miss someone," Arthur's tone grew jealous, "but he just won't tell me who."
Balinor,Merlin, and I'll miss him forever.
During the day it was easier to escape this feeling. The unicorns helped with his grief. But now it was night and he was in Camelot, so cold and harsh, where, if not for Arthur, he would have suffered like any other servant under noblemen. Any of his secrets could get him killed, and only just now he thought he had lost Arthur's love.
Arthur…Balinor…I am nothing without you two…
Balinor would probably tell him what to do. But Balinor was gone forever.
"What's wrong, Merlin? You've gone kinda green. This is what I meant by you being down."
Merlin let out a half-sob.
"I…I loved him."
Arthur, who had been in a relatively relaxed posture, suddenly stiffened. He turned to Merlin, who was too grieved to notice.
Merlin should have seen the look of the hunter in Arthur.
"Who?" said Arthur very quietly, a kind of quietness that was louder than the room.
Merlin felt tears prick in his eyes, "I wish he were here…I…I miss him…"
All of a sudden Merlin felt Arthur's hard, strong arms grab him, he felt himself thrown onto the bed. Arthur held his wrists in an iron grip with one hand. Merlin felt his legs pushed apart by Arthur's, he could not move, Arthur grabbed his chin with his other hand. Merlin whimpered.
Then he felt Arthur's demanding hardness against his soft belly, he cried out as he grinded, and brushed against Merlin's own stiffening cock. Arthur pressed his lips by Merlin's ear, and growled, "Who. Is. This. 'He'?" Merlin's breath hitched, he couldn't say anything between the pleasure and tears. Arthur growled, his hands tightening, he grinded again, so much lust and force put into it Merlin cried out this time, "Ah…Arthur…I..."
"Give." Arthur grinded, "Me.", Merlin by then, dazed in Arthur's grip, cried out again and again, "A. Name." Arthur pressed his hardness so harshly against Merlin he screamed, screamed and whimpered, and Arthur, so aroused, held him in a bruising grip.
They were both so aroused, they had been so restrained.
"Balinor…" Merlin could barely form a coherent sentence, "no…Arthur…it's not like…I didn't mean…please…"
Arthur's eyes blazed with pure fury. He had now the same look as when he shot the unicorn, he was going to claim, he was going to have.
"Mine, you're mine, Merlin, nobody else's," Arthur grabbed Merlin's hair, forcing his head back. He pressed his lips against his, his tongue pushing Merlin, demanding he submit. Merlin, who had surrendered since Arthur's first touch, opened his lips. Arthur growled into him, he was ripping open his shirt, grabbing Merlin's soft, creamy flesh, touching his chest, touching him everywhere on the chest. Merlin moaned under Arthur. He could hear the unicorn lord, what he'd said earlier-
Dragonlord, the prince of Camelot will claim you for his own.
They broke apart, gasping for air, Merlin couldn't think, he could only see Arthur's blue eyes, dominating, merciless.
"You're mine, no one else's to have you, no one but me,"
Merlin Emrys…Arthur's Merlin...
Merlin was terrified. He was terrified of seeing Arthur this way, ravenous, feral, out of control. He felt Arthur's teeth harsh against his neck, Merlin keened as Arthur marked him.
He loved Arthur, he would serve Arthur however and in whatever way Arthur wanted. If Arthur musthave him now, he would let him, and gladly because Merlin too had desired this for so long.
But Merlin thought this wasn't right. Arthur claiming him under the impression that Merlin once loved another man romantically wasn't right.
His heart slammed against his ribcage, amidst the haze of arousal Merlin realized he wasn't ready.
"Arthur, no…no stop…please…Arthur…"
Arthur saw the tear streaks on Merlin's face, and stopped. His eyes were brimming with fierce possessiveness and love, but also regret because he thought he'dmade Merlin cry. And there was also lust; Arthur's being spoke of sheer lust and dominance.
"Not…not today, Arthur," said Merlin softly, "I…I love you. But I'm not ready."
Merlin, pinned under Arthur's arms and gaze, waited.
"You're right. You're not ready," Arthur gritted out, breaking himself away from Merlin. "Go before…before I…"
Lose control. Take you.
Arthur's whole posture spoke of claiming; though he had gotten off Merlin, he could barely keep his hands to himself.
Merlin leapt off the bed, and tumbled out Arthur's chamber as fast as he could. How he ached for Arthur, how he longed for Arthur's presence. But he could not have stayed a moment longer, how could he stay and maintain control, when they could no longer keep their hands off each other?
Merlin limped into his and Gaius' working room. His erection had not died down; it was throbbing, his whole being ached for Arthur.
Gaius took one look at Merlin, swollen lips, disheveled hair, bruises everywhere, and leapt up in alarm.
"What is this? Where have you been?"
"In Arthur's chambers."
These days Gaius tried to prevent Merlin from seeing Arthur too much. He wondered if Gaius had guessed at the sexual tension between them.
A hand shook him out of his daze. He did not realize Gaius was still asking questions.
"Merlin, look at me! Did Arthur force this on you?" Gaius sounded furious.
Merlin blinked. Force? Force makes it sound like an ordeal.
"I don't understand."
"I mean, were you willing? Answer me truthfully."
"Truthfully? No," said Merlin, "not at first. He took me by surprise. I…was not unwilling. But he didn't really… he stopped…we didn't do…"
Gaius nodded slowly, believing Merlin. The anger in his eyes subsided.
What Arthur had done…what Arthur had done was delicious … I wish it'd been at a better time … I wish he'd continued …
"Merlin," said Gaius, "go run yourself a bath of cold water."
"In fact, I'm going to call someone to run a cold bath for Arthur too. And also," said Gaius, "if there is something wrong, you must tell me. You can't say no to the prince, but even so-
"Gaius, that's not what Arthur's like. You know that."
A while later Merlin lay on his bed. He had closed the door; he curled up under the blankets. It was dark, it was silent, Merlin rubbed his cheeks lightly against the pillow, and felt the coolness of the blankets enveloped around him. His heated breathing filled the room. He did not take the cold shower as Gaius had suggested, and now Merlin's fevered skin shivered against the blankets. He reached a hand down and touched his still leaking arousal, and hissed at the sensitive feeling of pleasure and pain. Then Merlin took his hand away. He let it throb and brush painfully against his bedclothes, Merlin buried his head almost under the blankets and moaned in delight at the feeling of needing, desperately needing Arthur's touch.
He fell asleep, still throbbing and shivering.
In Arthur's dream, he saw a unicorn in the woods. Its outline was silver-white, its smooth flanks cream-white. As always, the darker side of Arthur reared in his heart. Arthur would claim this creature, it was beautiful, so pure, so soft, he would have it. Then the unicorn raised its eyes, they were Merlin's eyes, blue and gentle. And suddenly, it was Merlin in front of him, with the colour and aura of the unicorn. Arthur growled, and in his dreams, he hunted the unicorn, captured it, making the beautiful creature his.
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