I don't usually delete stories. Actually, I have only deleted three fics throughout my career. The first was because of an anonymous reviewer posting sixty copies of the same review EVERY SINGLE DAY. The other two were because I reread them and realized that they flat out sucked and needed to die. These two fics were my only contributions to the Merlin/Arthur fandom and, frankly, I think I did a great service by getting rid of them. Now, I'm going to make a new attempt to put my two cents into this awesome fandom. It WAS the pairing that initiated me into Yaoi fangirlism, after all. Let's see how this goes... Enjoy!
Arthur often had nightmares. This was one of the first things Merlin had learned about his master when he had started checking the sheets and the locks on the door after dark. Almost every time he would walk in, Arthur would be thrashing around, mumbling in a subdued, panicked voice.
Over the months, Merlin noticed that the night terrors followed a certain pattern: There would be a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. Then, around midnight, Arthur would have a sleep-battle for maybe ten minutes. There would be another stretch of time, then the thrashing would go on for up to an hour. Eventually, as if from exhaustion, the young prince would slowly settle back into a peaceful slumber, his eye twitching occasionally.
Merlin thought back to how his mother had often comforted him when dreams about being discovered and executed for his magic surfaced. She would always sit by his bed, a warm hand on his brow, and sing him a lullaby.
At one point, Merlin found himself doing the same. He found himself timing his nightly check-ins so that he arrived just as the extended stage of Arthur's terrors arose. He found himself sitting on the edge of the prince's bed, a hand on his flaxen hair, quietly humming his childhood lullaby.
"Running legs begin to sway,
Stumbling, stumbling on the heights
As the burning fire of day
Turns to cool and icy night.
Four great horses gallop by,
Singing songs of shadowed sleep.
Their trail is an ebony sky,
The moon above their shining keep.
Black and white and gray and red,
Cloaked with stardust, bright and soft,
A crown of stars is on each head
As evening winds bear them aloft.
Sleep, sweet colt with eyes of gold.
For now, your daily toil is done.
Wait to open eyes so bold,
Their light shall bring the rising sun."
Arthur always relaxed under Merlin's touch, as if some inner need for contact and comfort was being subconsciously fulfilled as he slept.
Sometimes, there were nights when Arthur would actually snuggle closer to Merlin, his head almost falling in his lap. He would nestle against his servant's warmth, sleepy sighs escaping his lips. During this time, his eyelids would cease to twitch or flicker.
During these times, it was almost possible for Merlin to believe that Arthur was a sweet and innocent individual.
Then, morning would come and the prince's eyes and mouth would open. The illusion ended then.
"Merlin!" Arthur's sharp, annoyed voice cut through the peaceful afternoon.
Taking a deep breath and silently counting runes in his head, Merlin turned around. "Yes, sire?" His attitude faded when he saw the near-frantic expression on the prince's face.
"Go to the castle and get boiling water and clean rags, now. Lilian has had her foal!" Pure white Lilian was Arthur's favorite mare.
Merlin's face lit up with joy as he ran after Arthur toward the castle. "Filly or colt?"
"Merlin!" Arthur pointed impatiently toward the castle as they approached.
"Now, that is the best name for a young stallion that I've heard in ages." Merlin joked before quickly running up the castle steps, narrowly avoiding a blow to the head.
When Merlin entered the stable with the bucket and rags, Arthur was standing against one of the far walls, out of the way of the fussing stable boys. Smiling softly, the young warlock approached.
The colt was beautiful! He had a sharp, lively face and bright eyes. His gray coat was dappled with bluish-slate patches and tiny spots of white. The stable boys shooed him away before he could see more, so he settled for standing next to Arthur.
"Your father won't be happy that you're wasting time in the stables." Merlin commented.
"He probably won't." Arthur agreed. "I'll leave soon. I just want to make sure he and his mother are healthy."
"So, is his name Merlin?" The young warlock teased.
Arthur rolled his eyes. "Please, Merlin. Your name isn't fine enough for a royal horse. A royal ass, maybe, but not a horse."
Merlin gave the prince a dry look, but didn't comment. He supposed that he had been practically begging for a jibe of that nature.
"I'll call him Arolos."
"Arolos." Merlin nodded his head slowly. "That's a good name." He took a step forward as the stable boys judged Arolos healthy and ready to nurse. "Who sired him?"
"That daft bay of yours, unfortunately." Arthur huffed, kneeling down to look at the colt. "A single imperfection in an otherwise flawless animal."
Merlin smirked and glanced toward the stall where his bay horse was eying the foal with mild curiosity. "Well done, Dracon."
The stallion whinnied cheerfully, his nostrils flaring.
Merlin mentally cursed the young prince as he half-dragged him up from his position. After a full day of chores, he had come down to the stables to find Arthur, despite previous assurances that he would not do so, sleeping soundly on a bale of hay.
"Arthur! Arthur!" Merlin gave Arthur a firm shake.
"Ugh... Hn!" Arthur's eyes fluttered open and he instinctively shoved the young warlock away. He blinked a few times. "Merlin?" He looked down at his servant, who was now sprawled on the straw-strewn stable floor.
Merlin flashed a bright, sarcastic smile. "Always a pleasure seeing your smiling face when you awaken, sire."
"Shut up." Arthur rubbed his eyes. "What time is it?"
"Almost midnight." Merlin stood up. A thought occurred to him. "You weren't having any nightmares this time!" As soon as the words left his mouth, he realized how stupid he was for uttering them. The prince didn't need to know about his nightly visits!
To his astonishment, Arthur simply nodded. "It would seem so..." The young prince looked thoughtfully at the hay bales and the sleeping horses. His gaze lingered tenderly on Lilian and Arolos. He then turned back to Merlin. "Well, don't just stand there! Go up and prepare my bed!"
Merlin rolled his eyes, counting runes for the umpteenth time as he ran back toward the castle.
Arthur was so close to death! Merlin's brows were furrowed in agitation as he marched toward the stables, again. If Arthur didn't come up to the castle right away, Merlin would just leave him in the stable for his father to find! He could have easily made that oversized bed ten times by this point. What was taking that prat so long to-?
"-stars is on each head
As evening winds bear them aloft."
Merlin froze, his eyes widening. Was that...?
"Sleep, sweet colt with eyes of gold.
For now, your daily toil is done.
Wait to open eyes so bold,
Their light shall bring the rising sun."
Arthur's voice was filled with tenderness as he finished the song. Merlin peeked in to see him smiling at the sleeping gray colt.
The young prince glanced up. "Took you long enough." He said gruffly, moving away from the stall and brushing past his servant.
Merlin smiled to himself as he followed. Neither boy spoke as they walked up the stairs, down the halls, and into Arthur's bedchamber. Once Arthur was in his nightclothes, Merlin turned to leave.
The young warlock glanced over his shoulder, surprised to see a slightly vulnerable expression on the prince's face. "Yes, sire?"
Arthur quickly recovered, taking on his normal haughty appearance. "I may have nightmares tonight, you know. I will require your services."
Merlin blinked dumbly a few times before managing to stutter: " I d-don't know what s-services you m-mean..." Arthur's deadpan face caused him to change tactics. "S-Sire, it's past midnight. I need to sleep as well. Not that you don't, but, I mean, I haven't even slept yet. Then again, I'm not sure how comfortable a stable floor is and... Well, then again-"
"Merlin!" Arthur cut in impatiently. "I know you need to sleep." He glanced at the ground before looking at the bed and then giving Merlin a questioning look.
"Oh!" Merlin's eyes widened. "Oh, well that's different. What I mean is that-"
"You really should shut up, Merlin." Arthur sighed tiredly, pulling back the covers.
Merlin nodded mutely, walking over. He waited awkwardly for Arthur to lie down before slowly, cautiously sitting down on the edge of the bed. After a moment, he slipped off his shoes. After another moment, he began to move his legs onto the bed.
"It's a bed, not a cold pond." Arthur grumbled irritably.
Merlin's face flushed as he rested his head on one of the pillows and closed his eyes, his muscles incredibly tense. The warm blanket went over him. Then, something even more warm encircled him: Arthur's arms. He flinched briefly in surprise before relaxing. His face was nestled in the crook of the prince's neck and those warm hands were soothing the nervous muscles in his back.
As he grew more and more relaxed, Merlin decided to risk nuzzling Arthur's soft neck. He heard a rumbling noise of approval and smiled. Softly, tenderly, he planted a kiss on his throat. He felt Arthur's quiet sigh ruffle his dark hair. He blew a puff of air across his friend's neck, encouraging him to tilt his head back. He closed his eyes, covering Arthur's throat with gentle, sleepy kisses.
Merlin pulled back, looking at Arthur's face. Those blue eyes were misty with drowsiness and emotion and those full lips were pulled upward in a sweet, very uncharacteristic smile. "A little eager, aren't we? Is there something you wish to tell me?"
"Yeah." The young warlock grinned. "Someone clearly put something in my drink at dinner. It's the only explanation."
"The only one?" Arthur raised an eyebrow mock-questioningly.
Merlin paused, pretending to ponder the question. "Most definitely." He finally said, his eyes glittering.
"I see." Arthur nodded, smirking. "Then, you won't remember any of this in the morning. I suppose that means I can do what I want." He leaned in, touching his lips to Merlin's.
Despite his provocative words, however, the kiss was soft and drowsy. Merlin closed his eyes and smiled, returning it with equal tenderness. The prince's lips were unbelievably warm and sweet. Merlin purred deeply, threading his fingers through Arthur's down-soft hair.
Eventually, he broke away to stare firmly at Arthur. "You need to sleep, sire." Noticing Arthur's reluctance, Merlin whispered coaxingly: "Close your eyes. Come on."
The prince obeyed reluctantly, slowly shutting his eyes. Merlin touched his lips to his closed eyelids.
"Sleep, sire. If you have a nightmare, just hold me." His face flushed, but he didn't withdraw his statement. Instead, he snuggled up against Arthur, pulling the blanket further up and closing his eyes.
Arthur kissed the top of his head. He might have mumbled: "I love you, Merlin." Then again, he probably didn't.
The last thing Merlin was aware of was Arthur's steady breathing and a sleepy whinny from the distant stables.
Hope you liked it! Arthur seems to be the type to get all dewy-eyed over a new foal. Oh! I finally was able to watch Season 3 and have started Season 4 (Take THAT, Youtube Nazis! Eat my Library DVDs! HA!). I just have to say this one fact that is not related to Merthur whatsoever: Sir Percival is like a giant teddy bear! Seriously, he is completely adorable! He is currently tied with Gwaine (Why isn't it Gawain...?) as my favorite knight, simply because he reminds me of a big fluffy bear! ^_^ Anyway, please review but don't flame. Flames make Sir Percival sad. I KNOW you don't wanna make Percival sad. Peace out!
PS- Cookie to whoever figures out how I came up with the name "Arolos".