Title: A Boy I Never Knew
Pairings: Arthur/Merlin
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: 3,800
Warnings: Age difference (16 years). All characters engaged in sexual activity are over UK age of consent.
Disclaimer: The characters depicted herein belong to Shine and BBC. I make no profit from this endeavour.
Author's notes: Thanks to Singlemomsummer for the beta. Written for glomp_fest 2012.
Summary: Arthur really doesn't want to go to Morgana's wedding, not when he knows his nephew's best friend Merlin is bound to be there making Arthur want things he shouldn't.


"You look as though you can't wait to get out of here," Arthur's nephew, Mordred, says as he comes to stand beside Arthur where he's lurking in the shadows. "I'm supposed to be the one pouting in the corner at the idea of having an evil new step-father."

If there had been any way Arthur could have got out of this wedding he would have taken it, but it's really not that easy to think of a valid excuse not to attend your big sister's wedding.

"You're twenty-one," Arthur says, letting Mordred draw him out of this mood for a moment. "And Leon's the nicest bloke we know." They both turn and watch as Morgana and Leon sway in each other's arms for the second dance of the night, the first one having been far more dramatic as they had re-enacted a dance scene from Morgana's favourite Fred Astaire film, 'Three Little Words'. Arthur had been secretly impressed, despite his current mood.

Morgana is in her element of course, the day she's been planning for over a year has finally arrived and this is her day to be a princess. Morgana's words, not Arthur's. Arthur feels sorry for her wedding planner, and Mithian has certainly earned her exorbitant fee just for putting up with Morgana and her ever changing mind. Arthur doesn't think he's ever seen Morgana look more beautiful than she does today. He wishes that Uther were here to see it.

Mordred shrugs. "He's alright I suppose. He makes Mum happy so I suppose I can put up with him."

"That's very magnanimous of you," Arthur says, nudging Mordred affectionately. He's as proud of Mordred as he would be if he was his own son. They're close, more like brothers than anything, Arthur's fourteen years older, but sometimes it feels like Mordred is the one with the more sensible head on his shoulders.

"So what's with—Oh good, Merlin's here—hey, Merlin!" Mordred's face lights up at the sight of his best mate standing in the ballroom's grand archway, an extremely tall man mountain standing beside him, searching the sea of guests for someone he recognises. "Back in a minute, Arthur," Mordred says and heads over to Merlin.

Arthur watches him go, watches him greet Merlin, sees Merlin's welcoming smile light up his face, watches them embrace—Mordred's been in Dublin for a few months and Merlin hasn't had the time to visit—holds his breath as Merlin's gaze meets his own. Arthur looks away, down into his drink. His glass his almost empty, he really needs to find another. Yes, that's what he'll do now. Drink.

He heads for the bar, head down, wanting to avoid getting dragged into dull conversations with Morgana's friends. This might be a wedding but he's really not in the mood for socialising.

"Ah, there you are, Arthur," Mordred says when Arthur's at the bar, his order barked out to the bar girl, the need to feel something stronger than whisky coursing through his veins overcoming his breeding. "I thought you'd made a run for it already!"

Arthur wishes he had. Mordred's flanked on either side. Merlin to the left, man-mountain to the right. "I needed another drink," Arthur replies, shifting uncomfortably. He glances up at Merlin who is watching him through narrowed eyes. Arthur's heart sinks.

Mordred doesn't notice any tension. "You know Merlin of course," he says affably, "This is his friend Percy Summers."

Arthur has to tip his head up to get a good look at Percy, and of course he's fucking gorgeous as well as ripped. Arthur wasn't going to bother—but Percy holds out his hand and Arthur's manners kick back in.

"Arthur Pendragon," he says, like this is a business meeting and Percy's the man he needs to woo for the important signature.

Percy smiles, and it's so sweet that despite not wanting to, Arthur immediately likes him.

It's going to be a long night and when Mordred and Percy strike up a conversation about the first time they met Merlin Arthur wants to teleport himself out of there before the conversation turns to dangerous ground. Mordred was six and Merlin was four, Mordred saved Merlin from the bully who was trying to steal his favourite Buzz Lightyear toy.

"My hero," Merlin jokes, hand over his heart, pretending to swoon. Mordred grins back, and they share one of those looks, one that's a twenty minute conversation condensed down into five seconds. They're best friends, they've learnt to do that well.

Percy met Merlin four months ago when Merlin, the world's clumsiest waiter, had spilled spaghetti sauce all down Percy's shirt front. What should have been a disaster had turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

"I was on the blind date from hell," Percy laughs, his eyes twinkling at the memory. "Merlin saved me from another few hours of 'The Vivian Show'. I made a huge fuss about the mess, told Merlin I was going to sue him and stormed out the place, took Vivian home, promised to call her—she's still waiting—and went back to Avalon's to apologise to Merlin for being such a drama queen about it and to thank him! The rest is history, eh, Merlin?"

"Something like that." Merlin rolls his eyes. "I'm not sure I've forgiven you for the lecture I got off Gaius about customer satisfaction after you stomped off though."

"Hey, Arthur, do you remember the first time you met Merlin?" Percy says, being a nice guy, trying to include Arthur in the conversation.

Until that moment Arthur's been in his own kind of special hell, desperate to escape but at the same time, unable to move.

Mordred laughs. "Merlin caught you sleepwalking or something didn't he, Arthur? That time I stayed with you when Mum refused to leave me in the house on my own whilst she went on holiday even though I was eighteen and perfectly capable of taking care of myself…" Arthur's not listening; he's watching Merlin, waiting for those blue eyes to turn on him.

Arthur remembers all too well. He remembers coming down for a drink of water and finding a strange boy asleep on his sofa.

He remembers fucking him on that same sofa, burying himself deep inside and coming harder than he ever had before.

He remembers finding out afterwards that Mordred's best friend isn't the same age as he is. Merlin had been sixteen.

Merlin's watching him now. Arthur clears his throat, stomach churning, and says, "Excuse me," and he walks as fast as he can without breaking into a run, straight for the exit, up the sweeping staircase, down the corridor and into his bedroom where he shuts the door and slides down onto his arse.

He remembers the guilt that came after that, knowing that he'd fucked a kid half his age.


Arthur isn't surprised when he answers the knock on his door and finds Merlin standing there. "What do you want?" he snarls and Merlin rolls his eyes and pushes past him and Arthur has no choice other than to shut the door in his wake and turn to face him.

Merlin's not changed much since he was sixteen. He's filled out a little; his hair is a little longer, curling over his ears and into the nape of his neck. He's nineteen now, he goes to university, has a job, drives a car, he's a man now, not a boy.

Arthur's still sixteen years older than him.

Arthur still wants Merlin more than he's ever wanted anyone.

"I'm sorry about Percy," Merlin says. "He wasn't to know what happened."

"He's very attractive," Arthur observes quietly. "You look good together."

"Why are you doing this?" Merlin asks and Arthur shoves his hands in his pockets because he's itching to touch him and he can't, he can't. He goes to look out of the window, over the landscaped gardens to the fountain, beyond to the woodland and the deer park. It's a beautiful view, but all Arthur sees is Merlin's reflection in the room behind him.

"I'm not doing anything," Arthur says. "I'm not the one who can't take a hint. What happened between us is over and should never have happened in the first place."

Merlin's reflection dips his head and rocks back on his heels as though he's taken a physical blow and there's an audible gasp. Arthur doesn't turn. If he ignores him maybe he will leave.

Instead, Merlin comes up behind him and snakes his arms around his waist, propping his head on Arthur's shoulder. "What if I refuse to take the hint?"

Arthur closes his eyes against the sensations that roil through him at Merlin's closeness. Merlin's hands are inches away from his prick, which obviously does have a mind of its own as it perks up. Arthur's so doomed.

"Merlin-" Arthur starts; a desperate last attempt to reason with Merlin, but his heart's not in it. He doesn't want reason, he doesn't need it, what he needs is this, right now. It's all he can think about, and if he sends Merlin away, that won't change. Merlin's never been far from his mind since that night three years ago when fate played her hand and crossed their paths for the first time.

Merlin's hands move lower, under the waistband of Arthur's wedding suit trousers, beneath his boxers, one had slowly curling around his cock. "Remember that night, Arthur?" Merlin says like he's just read Arthur's mind.

Arthur's not likely to forget. How the sleeping boy opened his eyes and met Arthur's sleep-hazed stare, how he'd swung his feet to the floor and stood, apologising, saying he was Mordred's friend Merlin and that Mordred said it was okay for him to stay over they hadn't been able to ask Arthur because he was already in bed. Arthur had been mesmerised, the kid was wearing a pair of his pyjama bottoms and nothing else, slung dangerously low on his bony hips, and there was a trail of dark hair leading south and Arthur had to force his eyes upwards to find that intense gaze watching him.

To this day Arthur blames his half-asleep state and the whisky he'd consumed before going to bed that night, a nightcap he sometimes indulged in after a long day, because why else would it have happened? Some sort of unseen gravitational pull had him moving closer to Merlin, forced his hand to lift and run his thumb over Merlin's lower lip and say, "Beautiful," before replacing his thumb with his lips. After that it had been inevitable. It was only afterwards he'd realised Merlin had been a virgin, and exactly how young he was.

"It was a mistake," Arthur says now, even as his body is responding to Merlin's touch, his cock filling swiftly and rising, like his shame.

"You're supposed to learn by your mistakes," Merlin responds, one hand moving to Arthur's hip and turning him to face him, moves his hand to his wrist and leads him over towards the bed. Arthur goes as well, letting Merlin still him when they're there to push his jacket off his shoulders. When he turns his attention to Arthur's shirt buttons, Arthur's eyes fixate on the look on Merlin's face, concentration, desire and something else, something wonderful. A switch flips and Arthur's passivity in the wake of Merlin's attentions turns in on itself and he's unbuttoning Merlin's trousers before he has time to blink. Their clothes hit the floor and Arthur drops to his knees and noses Merlin's erection before taking a swipe at the head and tasting the salty sweetness that is pure Merlin.

He closes his mouth over the end and presses his tongue into the slit. Merlin groans and his fingers slide into Arthur's hair making his scalp tingle. He glances up at Merlin who is watching him with wide hazy eyes and if Arthur wasn't already lost, he would be now. There's just something about Merlin that turns Arthur into this weak lovesick fool. He blinks and takes Merlin deeper into his mouth, closing his fist around the base of his cock and meeting his own fingers with his lips as Merlin is unable to hold back from fucking Arthur's mouth. Arthur's always preferred receiving head to giving it, but with Merlin, it's like he can't get enough of the taste of him, the feel of his skin against his tongue, the little noises Merlin makes as Arthur pushes his tongue along the line on the underside of his cock.

"Arthur—" Merlin says, his hands tightening in Arthur's hair. "Arthur—" and he's coming, filling Arthur's throat with hot salty liquid, making Arthur's toes curl with pure need. With one hand he cups Merlin's balls, sliding past along his perineum and tracing his hole. Merlin wrenches back, pulling Arthur to his feet, kissing him soundly on the lips and then pushes Arthur back on the bed. "Want your cock," he says and clambers up next to him. "Lean back against the headboard."

Arthur shuffles back. "Lube's in my bag," he says. It always is. Habit really. Merlin slides down, rummages and comes back with the tube in his hands, straddling Arthur's lap. Arthur takes the tube and coats his fingers with a liberal amount and Merlin kneels up, legs spread and Arthur reaches between his legs, slipping a finger into him, loving the keening noise Merlin makes at the invasion.

"Hurry up," Merlin says, as though he hasn't already come once, his cock already half hard again. He braces a hand against the headboard and the other on Arthur's shoulder, tipping his head back with a gasp as Arthur curls his finger and finds Merlin's weakness. "Jesus!"

Arthur's cock is painfully hard, reaching skywards, begging to be touched, and again, as though he's heard his thoughts, Merlin reaches down, closes his hand around his length and teases the slit with a thumb nail. Arthur shouts his approval in the form of Merlin's name, increases to two fingers and stretches. He hopes it's going to be enough, because he can't wait much longer, he wants to be inside Merlin when he comes.

"I'm ready, Arthur, I want you," Merlin whispers, bearing down onto Arthur's fingers, "Just fuck me already."

Arthur removes his fingers and Merlin hunkers down, leans forward and kisses him; hand still on Arthur's cock. Arthur reaches for the lube and Merlin takes it from him, squirts some onto his hand and then returns it to Arthur's cock. Anticipation is killing him by the time Merlin raises himself up again and lines up to sink down onto Arthur. It's tight, but Merlin takes his time, eyes never leaving Arthur's until he's bottomed out and God, he's moving; the slow slide against Arthur's cock almost burning. Merlin's fully hard again now so that when leans forward and kisses Arthur, his cock is trapped between them, dragging along Arthur's stomach leaving a trail of precome as they move together; Arthur thrusting up into Merlin, Merlin rocking back down to meet him.

Arthur doesn't want this over too quickly, but he needs this too much to hold back, he needs to come, needs to feel Merlin clench around him, he needs—

Time is playing tricks on him as they move together, Arthur chasing something more than just completion, something he doesn't think he can ever have, and Merlin says his name, licks into his mouth again, hands in Arthur's hair, tight, pulling on the roots, words of endearment flowing from him as he nears his second climax, words that shoot straight to Arthur's cock as his orgasm starts to build. He thrusts up, knowing his completion is imminent, feeling the sticky warmth of Merlin's come as it falls between them, breathing Arthur's name into their kiss, and that's it for Arthur, his balls tighten, his vision blanks and he's coming, the hot spurt of his release firing into Merlin, the image of which has Arthur picturing himself rimming the hell out of him later and making him come again from that alone.

Merlin flops down on his back beside Arthur, his breathing heavy, and for several long minutes they both lie there in silence that Merlin eventually breaks, "I missed you, Arthur," he says, turning on his side and placing a hand on that flat plane of Arthur's stomach, not seeming to care that it's sticky with sweat and come. "This last week has been hell."

Hell doesn't even begin to describe it. The last three years have been their own kind of torture. "You'll get over it," Arthur tells him, reaching for his hands to push them away, but Merlin's holding fast.

"When are you going to get it through your thick head that I don't want anyone my own age, that I'd love you if you were sixty and bald?" Merlin's breath is hot against Arthur's ear and he feels himself wavering.

"I'm the only person you've ever been with—"

It hadn't stopped after that first time. Arthur had avoided Merlin the next day, avoided his nephew for weeks, but Arthur had answered a summons to his front door one night and Merlin had been there, telling Arthur it was his birthday, that he couldn't stop thinking about him, and Arthur had resisted for all of ten minutes until Merlin had dropped to his knees and clumsily sucked Arthur dry.

"If you start this again, Arthur, I swear to God I might just go out there and fuck the next guy I meet! Is that what you want?"

Arthur's brain helpfully supplies him with a vision of Merlin pinned to a wall by Percy, the image misting and his vision turning black. He tightens his arms around Merlin. "No," he grinds out. "I just don't want you to wake up in five years and realise you've missed your twenties."

"In five years I'll be twenty-four," Merlin points out. This does not help.

"Okay, ten years then," Arthur corrects.

"Why does being with you mean I miss out? Not everyone wants to go out clubbing all weekend. I want to spend my weekends with you."

Arthur had fought with himself for the last three years, but every time it had come back to the fact that he couldn't stay away from Merlin. He hasn't been with anyone else since he met him, despite his intentions to end it all and break the spell by fucking another guy—he'd gone as far as picking someone up but he couldn't do it. In the end he'd had himself checked out and after that, they'd dispensed with condoms and Arthur had stopped pretending that Merlin wasn't someone important, someone to be proud loved him, because Merlin did, he told him so often enough.

Last week they'd argued over this wedding, when Arthur said that it wasn't the time to show their faces for the first time as a couple and anger turned into bitterness, Merlin accusing Arthur of being ashamed of him, because there had to be a reason why he still refused to tell his family about Merlin, why Arthur always insisted that Mordred couldn't know about them, right?

Arthur had said many things he regretted and Merlin had walked out on him. Arthur hadn't gone after him. It was fate, he'd decided. They weren't meant to be. Arthur had crossed a line three years ago, let himself be controlled by his prick and not by rationality and now he was finally paying the price.

Merlin is nineteen, he has the world at his feet, and he can be anything or anyone he wants to be. Arthur's running his family business and has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Sometimes he can't just drop everything and head to the seaside for the weekend like Merlin wants, he can't stay up to the wee hours watching DVDs before going to bed and fucking Merlin senseless. He's thirty-five and the world was never at his feet, everything was decided for him and he let that happen. Merlin's not like that, he's a free spirit; he deserves to be with someone who he can conquer the world with.

"Whatever you're thinking, they're all just excuses, Arthur," Merlin says sadly. He sits up then, pushing himself to the edge of the bed, looking back at Arthur over his shoulder. "If you really meant it the other day when you told me to get out of your life, then I will, but that will be the end. I won't beg and I won't come back for you. I'll be dust in the wind. All you'll ever hear of me is fly-by mentions from Mordred, when he tells you what his old friend Merlin is doing now, how he's going to my wedding or my birthday party and if you probe any further he'll think it's strange that you're so interested, because after all, I'm just a kid you met a couple of times, I'm nothing to you."

Merlin's words are powerful, creating a vision of what his world might be like without Merlin in it. It's not a world he wants to live in. He rolls over, onto his knees and comes down behind Merlin, his legs caging him in on either side, arms going around him.

"I'm in love with you," he says, the words tumbling from him for the first time.

Merlin's close over his and he leans back against him. "Then we'll work it out," he replies.


They start by cleaning up and going back down to the wedding reception. Merlin has a word with Percy, Arthur with Morgana, and then they meet in the middle, Arthur holding out a hand to Merlin as they fall into each other's arms on the dance floor, swaying to some cheesy eighties ballad that Morgana's chosen for the playlist, uncaring that some of the guests are whispering and staring, lost in one another.


Across the room, Mordred rolls his eyes and turns to Percy who's taken the news that his new friend and crush has in fact been in a relationship for the last three years with Arthur Pendragon reasonably well, and says, "Bloody finally. I thought they'd never admit they're on together!"

Percy turns to him and says, "How long have you known?"

Mordred shrugs, "As long as they have. They weren't exactly quiet that first time they got together." He turns to Percy and adds, "I don't suppose you fancy a dance?"

Percy glances at the dance floor and shakes his head. "I'm not one for dancing." He scans Mordred's face and says, "I wouldn't say no to a nightcap in your room though."

Mordred grins and takes his hand.