Arthur is not quite sure whether to be surprised or not when he wakes up to find his winter coat missing. At most, he can only shake his head. Remembering how cold it had been the night before, he doesn't blame Merlin for taking it. He only wishes he could do more, bound by duty as he is.

For the rest of the morning he barks at his knights, blatantly ignoring the pointed looks from Leon and Gwaine and avoiding Elyan as much as possible. It was a mistake to bring Elyan along. Every time Arthur sees him it's a reminder of how he left Gwen at Camelot. She may have understood, but that doesn't make it any less hurtful.

Arthur strides past Gwaine to fasten his pack onto Llamrei. Bitingly he calls out to him. "Are you going to be insubordinate today Gwaine or will we actually get a move on for once?"

"Aye, I can be insubordinate if you like, Princess; I am good at that."

"Sometimes I think that's the only thing you're good at."
He misses Gwaine's smirk due to his back being towards him, but that didn't mean he couldn't still hear it. "Then what would be your reasoning for always bringing me along then, hmm?"

And just like that, the almost easy, normal start to his morning is gone. He glances over his shoulder at Gwaine's still smirking face and replies in a low voice, "Merlin."

He straddles his horse and they move out. No one talks for the rest of the morning.


He finds Merlin's recent tracks sometime around midday. He doesn't mention them, and it seems that his knights don't see fit to mention them either. It crosses his mind, briefly, that this entire thing is a sham. A façade they are all willing to take on if only for the sake of their leader. Arthur feels slightly ill at the thought.

They decide to make camp at sundown again. Arthur's fairly sure that Merlin has been keeping close all day. He shakes his head as he fiddles with his pack. Merlin makes no sense. He runs from Camelot without so much as an explanation, like he actually expected the first words out of Arthur's mouth to be "burn him", and then he sticks close to the bloody search party of knights. Surely by now, he'd have realized that Arthur doesn't care about the magic?

Memories of the previous night surface in his mind. He reflects on what Merlin said and holds back a deep sigh. Clearly, he has not been a good friend if Merlin actually believes that Arthur would hate him for the magic. It was the lying. Arthur clenches his jaw. If—when—they find him, he and Merlin are going to have a nice, long chat about the lying.

Their night at camp is much like the previous ones, though much more subdued. The knights still crouch around the fire, talking and sharing gossip. Arthur still grabs his share of dinner and retreats to his solitude, unable to sit in the tense quiet that seems to come of his friends whenever he comes close.

Later that night, when everyone has slipped off to their own tents and to sleep, Arthur remains awake. He sits up on his bedroll and waits; it's foolish, he thinks, waiting for Merlin. The way he's got it figured, Merlin would sneak back in, if only to steal more of Arthur's clothes (as if Arthur's best winter coat was not enough for the little idiot).

By the time Arthur hears rustling outside, most of the knights have retired to their own tents, and the fire has burnt down into embers. He stays still, waits for the scratchy shift of his tent flap. The person doesn't speak out as they enter his tent; it's definitely Merlin.

He hears Merlin shuffle closer to his bedroll. He waits until Merlin is close enough, and then he moves. Quick as a flash, he has Merlin on his back underneath him. Arthur straddles his waist and glares down at the frightened face of his ex-manservant.

"Ah, Merlin. How niceto see you again. And in my own coat, how wonderful." Arthur's voice is hard with sarcasm, and he feels a twinge of guilt as Merlin recoils from him. He'd never meant for it to become this.

"Well? Do you have anything to say for yourself?" He tightens his hands on Merlin's wrists where they are on either side of his head. Merlin grimaces.

"Arthur, I…"

"You what, Merlin? What?"

"I – Arthur. You're hurting me." Arthur hisses and abruptly lets go of Merlin. He stands and moves to the far side of the tent, which isn't really that far. Even still, it feels like a gulf between them. Merlin sits up slowly, rubbing his delicate little wrists. Arthur almost scoffs. He hadn't been holding on that tightly.

The silence stretches between them, Arthur not sure how to get all his muddle thoughts out into the open, and Merlin staring despondently at Arthur's bedroll. Eventually Arthur huffs a breath.

"You can stop looking like I'm about to murder you Merlin. I didn't spend weeks following your trail to kill you."

Merlin swallows and looks at him with wary hope in his eyes. Innocent looks like those were what made Arthur's gut clench and his heart thump annoyingly in his chest. Damn Merlin for his face.

"You – you're not going to have me executed?" He asks hesitantly. Arthur crosses his arms.

"I ought to have your head just for thinking I would do such a thing. Idiot."

"Prat." It's so reflexive now, that it seems to just slip out of Merlin's mouth. It makes Arthur laugh ruefully. Merlin returns his smile with a small one of his own. It feels like old times.

"So," Arthur levels a glare at him. "You took my coat."

"Well, it is the middle of winter, in case you hadn't noticed."

"Oh, I had noticed. It got quite cold after someone took my coat."

They both laugh when Merlin gets a sheepish expression. Arthur feels much lighter than he has in weeks. He's missed Merlin. Arthur sobers after a moment, surveying Merlin.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

And just like that the moment is lost. Merlin twitches, saying nothing. But he doesn't need to say anything, the guilty, tired expression on his face says more than enough.

"You fool. You damn fool." Arthur whispers, hands clenching unconsciously. He vaguely registers Merlin's throat bobbing.

"I... I can't –"

And then the next minute he's dashing out of the tent and Arthur's yelling after him, calling out his name. Arthur makes it to the edge of camp before he loses sight of the warlock. He pauses, lets out a gust of breath and curses. The knights clamor up next to him. He glances sideways at them. Gwaine is staring at him with an inscrutable look.

"That was Merlin? Been having secret midnight rendezvous with him often then?" Arthur brushes off the pointed and questioning looks of the others and rushes back to mount Llamrei. He's done trying to explain himself, his motives, his fucking feelings on the matter. Right now he just wants Merlin back where he belongs, by Arthur's side.


Merlin rushes through the underbrush, tripping over tree roots. He hisses as he fails to dodge a stray twig, a cold-hardened bark scraping against his skin, leaving a thin cut over his cheek. He doesn't pause for it. He knew it was a bad idea, a horribly bad idea, to sneak into Arthur's tent again. He'd known damn it. But the nights had been growing steadily colder and Arthur's tent had been so warm, and he would have givenanythingjust to see Arthur's face again, soft and gentled in sleep as it had been that night.

No chance of ever seeing that now, he thinks bitterly. But he bites his lip against the clench in his chest and the strain in his legs and pushes on. He had been running for what seemed like forever by the time he stopped to catch his breath. He leans over, gasping for air, and listens intently to his surroundings. The woods are silent. Not even a cricket or an owl, or even the dreaded sound of Camelot Knights. Just the wind rustling through the trees.

Merlin breathes a sigh in relief and collapses down next to a fallen tree. He closes his eyes and leans back his head. Stupid, he thinks. Why did he have to go and be so stupid? To think that Arthur would actually forgive him, hell that he would welcome him back with open arms? Stupid! He shakes his head ruefully. So much for destiny.

A snap of a twig startles him to his feet. He looks around. The trees around him are rather thick; perfect hiding grounds. But that's just as good for him as it is bad. Merlin tenses at another crack behind him. Without thinking, he centers himself, goes over spells in his mind. He whirls on the spot, ready to attack whoever, whatever is there, but there is nothing. Caught off-guard he falters, and that's when they strike. A sudden yell makes him freeze momentarily and then he's face to face with a bandit. Merlin's eyes widen as he ducks away from a sharp sword.

Backing away quickly, he flings out a hand. His eyes grow gold with the spell on his lips and a large branch falls to hit the bandit to the ground. "Ic bebíede feallan!"

Merlin straightens with a deep breath, thinking that the danger is over. But then three more of his bandit friends rush out of the trees, yelling and waving blades about. Merlin gulps and fends them off the best he can. He manages to knock one of them out, but the other two keep coming at him. His breath gets heavier and his dodges get slower. He manages to make one of their blades burn bright as it slices through the air to his side. He hisses; that was a close call.

Then disaster strikes in the form of a tree stump. Merlin flails as he loses his balance and falls backwards, hitting the forest floor with a grunt. The two bandits smirk down at him. He swallows. He really, really doesn't want it to end like this. Merlin takes a deep breath and steels himself. If it is his time, he's damn well going to go down fighting.


He urges Llamrei through the trees, not paying attention to his knights struggling to keep up with him. His focus is entirely on the woods around him. He searches through the trees for a glimpse of Merlin. There's nothing. Arthur curses, bringing his horse to a stop. There's nothing here. No tracks, no red neckerchief, no Merlin. He curses again.

Gwaine is the first one to pull up beside him. He has an inscrutable look on his face. Arthur bites back to the urge to snap at him.

"What?" He asks instead, voice weary and resigned.

Gwaine shrugs and looks away. "Nothing," he says in a casual tone. But Arthur's not having any of that. He scowls at the other man.


"It's not my place to say, Sire." And just how is it that Merlin and Gwaine can make his title sound like an insult all the time?

"Since when have you ever worried about 'not your place'?"

"Obviously, I've spent too much time with nobility and not enough time in the tavern."

Arthur rolls his eyes. He sighs. "No need to hold back on my account Gwaine. You've fought with me about this every step of the way. Why back down now?"

"True," Gwaine smirks at Arthur's admission. "It's just… You've been having these secret midnight meetings with Merlin this whole time, yet you're still hell-bent on taking him back to Camelot."

"Was there a question in that?" Arthur glares at him. "And I haven't been meeting Merlin this whole time, just last night."

"No question. Just an observation." Gwaine falls silent, but looks at Arthur with piercing eyes. It makes Arthur's skin crawl.

"Of course I want him back in Camelot, alright!" Arthur suddenly bursts out. First the whole thing with Merlin, and now Gwaine, has him on edge. "Contrary to what everyone seems to think, I do care about him! I just… I want my friend back, alright?"

Arthur's voice lowers to a plaintive whisper that has Gwaine leaning closer just to hear. When Arthur finishes, he stares at the ground. He shouldn't have lost his composure like that. He tenses as Gwaine lays a hand on his shoulder.

"You're not alone in that, Princess." They share a look, finally on the same page where this whole thing is concerned. Arthur only wished he could say the same for everyone else.

Their moment is ruined by a sudden noise from the woods. It sounds like a yell. And then the unmistakable sound of a spell followed by the crack of wood. Arthur and Gwaine glance at each other before dismounting and rushing towards the yells.

The scene that meets them is a surprise. There is Merlin, on the ground, and hovering menacingly are two armed men. Arthur wastes no time. With a shout, he's running toward the bandits and attacking. The first one he dispatches easily. He parries and sticks his sword swiftly into the man's gut, not pausing to watch him hit the ground. Arthur turns to find Gwaine facing off with the other one.

The bandit quickly falls victim to Gwaine's blade and then everything is over. Arthur takes a small breath. He meets eyes with Merlin, who is still on his back. Almost against his will, one of his eyebrows raise and he looks down at Merlin.

"Don't you worry Merlin, we've got it all covered. No need for your help."

Gwaine chuckles and gives Merlin a hand up. Merlin huffs as he's hauled upright and brushes absently at his backside.

"Lot of ruddy help you are. I did manage to knock out twoof them before you showed up, you know."

A quick glance around the forest floor showed he was right. Arthur was almost impressed. Almost. Instead he rolled his eyes.

"I suppose a simple thank you is a bit beyond your mental capacity," he says.

Merlin immediately looks sheepish. He opens his mouth to say something in reply, but then the rest of the knights are hurtling through the brush. They stop short at the sight of Merlin next to Gwaine and the bandits strewn about the ground. Leon recovers first.

"Sire," he addresses Arthur and glances to Merlin. "Your orders?"

Merlin tenses and makes to run, but Arthur catches his arm. Arthur doesn't look him in the face. "Your orders," he stresses, still not looking at Merlin, but at Leon. "Were to track down the sorcerer Merlin."

Arthur pauses and finally—finally—looks at Merlin's face. "And so we did." He looks around at his knights. Leon, with his disapproving looks that he can't quite hide. Elyan and Percival, who act unsure and wary of contesting their King. Gwaine, who remains openly discordant in everything he does. And finally, Merlin, who still has flickers of fear and hesitant hope in his eyes.

"I meant what I said Merlin. I have no wish to kill you, much less hurt you."

"What are you going to do then? Magic is banned, Arthur. I won't go back if it means my death!"

Arthur's arms fly up. "I know! Damn it Merlin!" He rubs his hands over his face and takes a deep breath. "Merlin…" He trails off as he looks at Merlin. Really looks at him. He doesn't see a sorcerer or an evil man. He doesn't even see his manservant anymore. Standing there, Merlin is just a man. A man Arthur is so god damned in love with. A man who – who's bleeding from his side! Alarm fills him.

"Merlin!" He says again and rushes forward to pull up his tunic. Merlin looks down at the deep gash Arthur reveals. He stares at it blankly, his mind flashing back to the slight sting he'd felt in the midst of battle. He'd been so focused on surviving; it had escaped his notice completely.

"Oh, that." He says, and then his eyes roll back in their sockets and Arthur barely has time to catch him. The rest of the knights rush forwards as well, Gwaine crowding in first to help Arthur support Merlin's dead weight.

"Fuck. We have to get him back to Camelot. To Gaius." Gwaine gives him a stony look. Arthur clenches his jaw. "He needs to see Gaius. You know what can happen to a man if this kind of wound goes untreated, Gwaine."

Gwaine sighs. "Alright. Come on then Princess. Let's get him on the horse."


Agravaine and Gaius must have some sort of seer powers because they're both waiting in the courtyard when Arthur and the Knights gallop in. Agravaine has a large grin on his face as he observes the unconscious body of Arthur's former manservant.

"Arthur! Well done, my boy!"

Arthur ignores him, jumping off his horse and quickly pulls Merlin down from Gwaine's saddle. "Gaius," he speaks over his shoulder. "Gaius, he's wounded."

Gaius strides forward. "What happened?" He takes in the blood on Merlin's tunic, the dark circles under his eyes, and the pallor of his skin.

"Bandits. Four of them. They were armed. He faced off with a few of them before we interfered."

"Come. Let's get him to my chambers." Gaius leads the way, Arthur right on his heels. Both ignore the flabbergasted look on Agravaine's face and the shocked faces of everyone they pass. Gaius bangs open the door to his chambers and starts rustling around his many potions and herbs, muttering to himself.

"Lay him down there, on his side," He points to a long table to one side of the room. Arthur quickly places Merlin there, knocking down a few empty bowls and a few candles to the floor. Without prompting, he removes Merlin's shirt. Without the clothes, Merlin looks smaller, more vulnerable. He can see the whole gash now. From what he can see, it's a clean cut, no jagged edges. It spans for at least six inches from his back downward towards his hip. The blood seems to have mostly stopped, now tacky and brownish.

"Here, help me clean up the wound." Gaius shoves a wet cloth into his hand. Carefully, Arthur dabs the sides of the gash, clearing away the dried flakes of blood. He accidentally grazes the red edge of the wound, making Merlin moan and shift away. Gaius soothes another rag over the wound; this one reeks to high heaven. Arthur really doesn't want to know what the physician is using to treat Merlin with. Merlin settles in his sleep.

"There. That should prevent infection. Now," Gaius turns to grab a pile of white cloth. "Help me wrap him, Sire."

They work quietly, wrapping the thin material over and over around Merlin's torso. Finally, Gaius makes one last pass and ties off the binding. He sighs and wipes his brow with the back of his hand before looking over at Arthur. There is gratefulness in his eyes, and something else that Arthur can't really name.

"Thank you, Arthur. For getting him to me so quickly."

Arthur nods his head absently. Fixing Gaius with a solemn look he says, "Make sure he gets better."
With that he strides towards the door, only to halt at Gaius' voice.

"What will you do, Sire? After he regains his health?"

Arthur looks over his shoulder at his old mentor. "I think it's time Uncle and I have a little chat. I won't be the same man my father was. I can't be. My own ideals are different from his. My feelings on certain – matters, are quite different as well," Arthur turns fully to Gaius, but his eyes stray towards the prone form of his friend. "There are some things I must change, Gaius."

Gaius' eyes light up in a way that Arthur can only interpret to be approval, or pride. Either way, it feels like a small weight has been lifted. With one last nod to the physician, he makes his way out of the chambers and through the castle.


He finds Agravaine in the council chambers, unsurprisingly in the midst of a heated talk with the rest of the councilors. It strikes Arthur then, that he doesn't have any of his own appointed councilors; they're all from his father's reign. Everything had just been so hectic after his father's death that he'd never really thought about appointing his own. Perhaps, Merlin would consider the position. Arthur would need the advice on magic if what he planned actually came to pass.

Arthur clears his throat to get their attention. Almost immediately their voices die down and Arthur finds himself the center of attention. Agravaine is the first to speak up.

"Arthur! What the devil is going on? You've brought back the prisoner. Surely by now you would have sent out for the pyre to be prepared. Or at least fetch the executioner."

Arthur steels himself for his announcement; this should be an interesting discussion. "Uncle. Council members. There is not going to be an execution."

There is silence in the hall. Then Agravaine starts chuckling, like Arthur's said something particularly amusing in his innocent, young boy sort of way. When the council members join in, Arthur's jaw clenches.

"Arthur," Agravaine speaks as if patronizing a child. "You of all people know that the law demands this boy's life. Your father –"

"Perhaps my father was wrong!" Arthur cuts Agravaine off. He continues despite the growing look of outrage on Agravaine's face. "There is no justice in killing a man who saved my life. He saved my life, Uncle. More than once. He will not be punished for it."

Agravaine makes a face like he's going to argue with him, to reason with him; as if the words he speaks are the only truth and Arthur only refuses to see the light. Arthur cuts him off before he even starts.

"My father's laws are not my own. If I am to rule over this kingdom, then I will make such a kingdom, which sees every man honored for their good deeds and punished for their evils. Magic or otherwise. That is my word. I am the King of Camelot and that is my word."

Arthur's tone holds such steel that the councilmen back down immediately. Agravaine looks to contest him, but seeing he's outnumbered, quickly kills whatever protests he had. Arthur counts it as the first victory of many.


Of course it isn't as easy as that; it never is. In reality, it takes Arthur weeks to bring everyone—the council, his advisors, the nobility who think their opinion is worth a damn—to see his side of things. It's a very trying month, blanketed by the cold of winter and shadowed with the dwindling food stores. Arthur laments that the timing really could have been better.

Merlin had woken up that night after they'd gotten back. Arthur had been standing vigil by his window when Merlin had gasped awake, brow dotted with sweat and eyes glazed over. They hadn't really talked that night, but almost every night after. Well, mostly it was Arthur doing the talking. He told Merlin about his plans to lift the bans on magic. Merlin had listened silently, nodding now and then, and when Arthur had finished he'd given his King the most gut-wrenchingly happy smile Arthur had ever seen and hugged him tight. Arthur had clutched him back, not replying to the soft Thank you whispered brokenly into his neck.

There had also been, at length, a somewhat embarrassing talk about their… feelings. Arthur simultaneously shudders and smiles a dopey smile when he thinks of thatparticular conversation.

(So, when exactly, were you going to tell me that you love me? That you would do anything for me? That you'd move mountains, rearrange stars, alter time itself –"

"Shut up, Merlin." Merlin smirked back at him. He stuck his tongue out at him, the tease, and plopped himself down next to Arthur where he lounged on his bed. Arthur rolled his eyes and looped an arm around his friend.

"Come here. Idiot."He embraced Merlin close to his chest, feeling the large grin growing on Merlin's face.


Unbidden, a matching smile lit his own face. The smile grew wider as Merlin muttered, "I love you too."

They leaned back against Arthur's headboard, enjoying the closeness and breathing in each other's space for another few minutes before having to return to the real world again.)

Now, a month later, Merlin is mostly healed up and attempting to return to his manservant duties. Arthur's told him for days now, not to stress his side; he doesn't need Merlin's wound re-opening on them. Merlin just waves him off and calls him a mother hen. Arthur enters his chambers, hot and sweaty from training despite the blistering cold outside. He resists the urge to roll his eyes as he sees Merlin on his knees, backside wriggling as the warlock tries to light the fire.

"Can't you just use your magic to light that Merlin? Or are you incompetent in thatas well?"

An indignant huff comes from the fireplace and Merlin's voice filters out. "I'll have you know, Sire, that the majority of fires you have asked me to light over the years have only lit due to my magic," With a groan, Merlin sits back on his heels to stretch. He looks over his shoulder at Arthur with a cheeky look. "Including some of the ones you tried to light yourself."

Arthur does give in to his urge to roll his eyes this time, but refrains from retorting back. Instead, he motions to himself. "Help me out of this rubbish would you? I don't relish being stuck to it."

Merlin huffs a laugh, but helps him out of his armor. They fall into an easy silence. As Merlin gets him down to his chainmail, his eyes start to get a little shifty. Arthur remains quiet, knowing that if it's important then Merlin will bring it up eventually. He finally does.

"The servants are all talking you know. About Agravaine."

Ah yes, his distempered uncle. Arthur should have known. Arthur nods, not really adding to the conversation, just acknowledging Merlin. Merlin continues.

"So it's true then? Agravaine is leaving Camelot?"

Merlin finishes divesting Arthur of his training wear and lays it carefully on the table for polishing later. With and flick of Arthur's head, they're both moving to the bed; Arthur laid back stretching out his aching muscles, Merlin perched next to him. Automatically, Merlin's hands shoot out to start rubbing the soreness from Arthur's calf muscles. Arthur lets out a small groan, allowing his eyes to slide shut.

"Hm. Yes, he's leaving. We don't exactly see eye to eye anymore and it's difficult to get anything done when he tries to hedge me off at every turn. We had a talk and agreed it would probably be in his best interest to head back to Tintagel."

Merlin hums thoughtfully. His hands move gradually higher on Arthur's legs, rubbing and massaging the ache out his muscles. Arthur pops open one eye to peer down at Merlin. Merlin stops his motions, meeting his gaze.

"What?" Merlin's expression looks innocent. Too innocent.

"Keep that up and we'll have something else for you to rub."

"Oh really?" Merlin smirks and goes back to running his hands along Arthur's thighs. The cheeky bugger. Arthur narrows his eyes at him and the next thing Merlin knows he's being hauled up and snogged within an inch of his life. Merlin huffs a laugh against Arthur's lips, but settles into the kiss, returning it with equal fervor.

Arthur's hands trail over his lover's back, pulling at the loose tunic on the way up. He pulls back, panting lightly and says, "This. Off."

Merlin grins and leans back to shuck the fabric off and toss it to the floor. Arthur plucks impatiently at the ties on Merlin's trousers while Merlin attempts to do the same to Arthur's. They waste no time in divesting each other of the rest of their clothes and are soon pressed against each other, skin sliding together.

Arthur brackets Merlin's face with two large hands and brings him down for another bone-melting kiss. Merlin keens, unable to stop running his hands all over Arthur, everywhere he can reach. It was something Arthur had marveled at when they'd first done this, something he still marvels to be honest. Merlin is such a tactile, forward lover. It's just so Merlin.

They break apart again, breathing in each other's air, heating the space between them. Merlin leans back, his arse coming into contact with Arthur's stiff cock and smirks. He gives a cheeky little shimmy of his hips.

"Is this for me?"

Arthur groans as Merlin gives another little thrust for emphasis. "You know it is."

"Hmm. That so?" Merlin's blunt nails scratch slowly—painfully slowly—down Arthur's chest and he has to fight not to buck Merlin off and rut into him like an animal. "Guess I should do something about that, yeah?"

"Yes. Yes, you should." And damned if Merlin doesn't love it when Arthur gets a bit needy and desperate. With a hastily whispered word, a vial of oil is drifting from somewhere and Merlin doesn't really care where, because it's in his hand the next second and he wastes absolutely no time wetting his fingers with and stretching himself open. All the while Arthur looks on with a hungry expression and clenched hands on Merlin's hips.

Impatient, Merlin wrenches his fingers from himself and shifts backwards. Using one hand to hold steady and the other to hold Arthur's cock, Merlin impales himself onto Arthur as quickly as his body will allow. They both groan at the sensation of Arthur filling Merlin.

Arthur's hips twitch upwards but he allows Merlin a few moments to get used to the feeling. Merlin's head is thrown back and he's breathing hard, but then he looks down at Arthur and nods ever so slightly. That's all the signal he needs before he's grasping Merlin by the hips and thrusting up into him. Merlin moans Arthur's name, rocking forward to meet his thrusts.

Arthur releases one of his hands and brings it to Merlin's cock. It's leaking pre-come and flushed deep, deep red and hard as steel. He can feel Merlin's ball inching up on every punching thrust Arthur makes into his body, Merlin's going to come soon. Desperate to match him, Arthur speeds up his thrusting.

"You going to come for me Merlin? Hm, you going to come all over my chest sweetheart?"

Merlin keens, hips bucking erratically. "Yes, yes," he chants, eyes squeezing shut. Then he's coming and coming, body drawn tight as his cock jerks, spilling his seed in hot sticky ropes across Arthur's chest and belly, and his arse clenching tight on Arthur's cock. With a last heaving groan, Arthur buries himself in Merlin as deep as he can go and he's falling over the edge too.

Then Merlin's body goes lax and he's slumping forward onto Arthur's chest, Arthur's softening cock still wedged inside of him. It's both uncomfortable and supremely arousing that he's still inside of Merlin like that, so he doesn't move. Their breathing slowly returns to normal and every now and then Merlin's hole will twitch around him, sending a spark of arousal up his spine. His cock tries valiantly to stiffen again, but he's too exhausted from training and eventually he slips quietly from Merlin and they both calm, surrounded by warmth and each other. Merlin snuggles into Arthur's chest, nosing at his neck—his favorite place to be.

Merlin's voice drifts up quietly; he's half asleep already. "We're gonna be okay, right? This. You and me. Albion. We're gonna be fine, yeah?"

Arthur breaths in deep, inhaling the smell of sex and sweat and the heady scent of Merlin. He burrows his nose into the dark locks he loves to run his hands through.

"Yeah. I think we just might be."

The End