Title: Alone in My King's Harem

Summary: SLASH! AU. TWO-SHOT. Merlin, one of Arthur's concubines, is in for a world of heartbreak as he falls in love with him. He knew it could never be. This thing they had meant nothing for the king. That's why he needs to extinguish the hope that's blossoming in his heart whenever the king summons him.

Pairing/s: Arthur/Merlin (WOOOOOT!)

Genre: Hurt/Comfort, Romance, Angst

Rating: For teenagers and above please!

Warning/s: SLASH! Homophobes, how could you hate love? Also, implied *coughs awkwardly* you know . . . but nothing too graphic.

A/N: Oh my god. Oh my god. I can't believe I posted this (I've got like five other slash stories that I'm working on and this is the first I've posted)! MY FIRST SLASH! I don't know whether to be ecstatic or extremely afraid. And then, MY FIRST MULTI-CHAPTERED FIC! But then again, it's only two-shot. And I really wanted to upload something.

Another note! This is closely (and I mean very closely) based on a manga (Japanese comic, just in case you didn't know) I read. So, if it sounds familiar, you have probably read it too. For selfish reasons, I will be saying the title of that story in the next chapter . . . Hehe, sorry.

Disclaimer: If I own Merlin, you wouldn't know any Colin Morgan because I wouldn't show him to the world. I'd keep him for myself. Yes, I'm a creepy fangirl XD

Enjoy~

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This is a tale from long ago where monarchs and wars ruled the very surface of the earth.

There was once a small country called Camelot.

It was a kingdom so small that you had to strain your eyes looking at the map. And when you do find it, it was but a microscopic dot, seemingly insignificant to the eyes of travelers and merchants alike.

In the heart of the kingdom, there lay a small castle with two high towers, adorned with intricate runes, and protected by a simple bricked wall surrounding it.

In the castle, the kingdom's young king resided. His name was Arthur Pendragon. To anyone who asks, they would say that he was a great warrior, a fair king and every lady's dream—what with his golden hair, chiseled body, handsome face and very blue eyes.

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He had just a few servants . . . and just a few concubines. Unfortunately for a certain young man, he was one of the latter.

This young man was called Merlin.

Merlin grumbled irritably as he walked the halls of the castle, pulling the hem of the dress he was given to wear and attempting to at least make it reach his lower thigh. He thought only women were allowed to be concubines. And apparently, so did the seamstress, Guinevere. She blushed as she handed him the clothes (his peasant garb wasn't satisfactory. But if he was going to do what concubines normally do, then what exactly was the purpose of extravagant clothes?)

Merlin didn't volunteer for this—not really. He didn't know why anyone would. ("Who wouldn't?" one of the concubines sneered at him. "The king is filthy rich and incredibly gorgeous!").

His village was poor and neglected, barely getting by. Then, a messenger of the king was travelling by, looking for beautiful maidens who would be willing to be in the king's harem. The villagers exchanged glances and, somehow, their gazes settled on him.

"W-What?" he had asked with wide eyes.

The messenger's eyes travelled up and down his body and then, he smirked. "He'll do."

The villagers were paid handsomely as he was forced to come with the leering emissary. Merlin couldn't blame them, though. They were just doing what they can to survive. And seeing as his mother, Hunith, and only family died last winter, no one protested.

The king had summoned him to his chambers—well, not him precisely but the 'newcomer'. As Merlin made his way to the royal's chambers, his heart throbbed loudly in his ribcage. He had done nothing like this before with a girl, let alone a man. He hoped the king was as good as the rumors say he is.

Lost in his worries, he didn't notice the guards, knights and male servants looked at him appreciatively as he walked by. Nor did he notice the blushes of the maidservants and huffs of noble ladies.

He arrived at the chamber door a little too soon for his liking. Well, he can't back out now. Taking a deep breath and bracing himself, he pushed the door open.

Lit candles engulfed the room with a warm glow. The chamber was everything one would expect of a king's. It had a gigantic wardrobe, a dining table, a shelf full of books, a fireplace, a large bed that occupied a fourth of the room and was, all in all, full of ornamentals.

As Merlin entered, a figure sitting in one of the comfy chairs jerked alert. The man rose to his feet and the moonlight gave way to his features.

The air in Merlin's lungs left him. The man before him was stunning—from his strong jaw, red full lips, broad figure and sea-blue eyes. The rumors had done him no justice. He thought the king was too good to be true but as it turned out, a man of such beauty existed.

"Ever heard of knocking?" the haughty and annoyed tone dragged him out of his thoughts.

Yup, the king was too good to be true. Merlin knew there was a catch in there somewhere. He managed to control the urge to roll his eyes.

"Sorry." He said insincerely before he could stop himself.

The other man raised a brow at his tone but said nothing. Then, he felt the king's eyes assessed him and his body flushed under the scrutiny. He self-consciously tugged the skirt down again, eyes down.

"You're a man." He deadpanned, emotion belied by wide blue eyes.

"What an astute observation, Sire." He replied sarcastically, and then berated himself as he saw the king frown. His mouth often got him into trouble. "I mean—I apologize, Your Majesty. If I am not to your liking, I could fetch one who is." The reality of the situation dawned to Merlin and his anxiety came back tenfold. He fervently wished the king would accept his offer and get another concubine.

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Arthur stared at the dark-haired man before him.

The calves and thighs of his pale long legs were so similar to that of a woman's. The blue dress hugged his lanky frame snugly, accentuating his hips and waist. His flat chest was obvious as the dress was cut low, showing off his chest smattered lightly with hair and his collarbones. The long sleeves covered most of his arms but it seems to be as dainty and effeminate as the rest of him.

Finally, Arthur's eyes found his face. Sharp cheekbones that can cut through glass, periwinkle eyes brought out by the color of the dress, rosy full lips being nibbled in worry, dark eyelashes contrasting beautifully on pale skin, and ridiculously large but strangely endearing ears.

Arthur found himself aroused by the sight. He figured out what Cenred, his courier, saw in this peasant boy.

"No. You'll do." He said.

He saw the other man starting to panic. "Are you sure, Sire? I'm a bit in-inexperienced in all t-this. Maybe you'd like someone better?"

This one had some guts in him, answering back to the king. Very few had even raised their heads to look him in the eye, let alone talk to him in that tone. It was oddly refreshing.

"Are you . . . untouched?" he asked jokingly.

But then, a blush started on the pale man's ears, spreading to his cheeks and going down his swan-like neck. A wave of possessiveness gripped the king and he wondered where it came from.

"I-I-I" the man continued to stammer, worrying the hems of his sleeve.

"Sit down before you fall over." Arthur gestured to the bed, seeing the man swaying from his position.

After a moment's hesitation, the dark-haired man sat down at edge of his bed. He was gulping deep breaths, trying to calm down. Amused, Arthur settled down beside him, their shoulders almost touching. The man jumped and tried to scramble away from him. He held his wrist and pulled him closer until their faces were inches apart. The man's wide eyes stared into his impassive ones.

"Settle down. You look like a startled stoat." He laughed out.

He saw the man's features morph into some kind of pout.

"Well, at least I don't look like a bone-idled . . . toad." The concubine retorted.

"You think I look like a toad?" he drew him closer as if to prove him wrong. The dark-haired man swallowed audibly and Arthur smirked. "What's your name?"

"M-Merlin."

He caressed his cheek, half-expecting his finger to be cut by those sharp cheekbones. "Merlin~." He felt the other shiver at the sound. "Like the falcon?"

Merlin pulled away a bit and Arthur let him. With eyes averted and flush evident on his cheeks, the concubine nodded. Then, like all his other concubines the first time he bedded them, the king gave him a generous offer.

"Since this is your first time, as a reward, I want to give you a present." Arthur said, Merlin staring at him curiously. "What is it you desire?"

"I . . . desire?" he titled his head.

Merlin stared at the king, looking for any tell of a jest. Was this a test? If not, what did Merlin want? His family was dead and he had no friends. Those were the only things that matter to him.

"If you suddenly spring 'anything', nothing really comes to mind." He answered truthfully, frowning.

To say that the king was surprised was an understatement. He couldn't give much as he had but a small kingdom. However, most people would take advantage of this opportunity to achieve their dreams. The ones he gave the offer to last times certainly did.

"Very well." Arthur decided. "Then, choose from among the things in this room." He swept a hand to all the furniture, clothes and ornaments from his chamber.

The concubine tilted his head, then, gave a small shrug. Merlin's gaze roamed around and Arthur watched with a smile as those blue orbs lit up. The dark-haired man walked across the room and pointed at two pieces of cloth folded and placed at the center of the dining table.

"Then, can I have these?" he asked, tracing and admiring the intricate patterns sewn on the fabric.

Arthur came beside him, his fingers brushing with Merlin's as he touched the dark-blue and bright-red cloths. "These will do? These are dishcloths."

Surprise filled the concubine at the thought, unfolding the cloths and revealing more of the design. "The pretty things are used as rags?"

"Yeah." The king elegantly shrugged. "How else can they be used?"

The other man gave him a look like he was a child needed to be chastised. Arthur should feel insulted, really, but he was too busy wondering how Merlin could bravely give the king that look. And how he was to respond to that.

"There are many things to do with these!" He flipped the fabric, contemplating.

Afterwards, the concubine swiftly wrapped one around his slender neck, tying two ends at his nape. The red cloth felt warm and soft against Merlin's skin. Merlin fingered the tip, smiling.

"A neckerchief?" the king said, tone incredulous.

"Winters are harsh in our village." Merlin's eyes went distant. "We want to get all the warmth we can get. I remember Mother knitting me one like this. But, of course, it's nothing sophisticated or anything."

"I see." Arthur sensed the sadness in his voice and knew that the boy's mother was most likely gone. The king's heart ached as he remembered his own; one he never got a chance to meet as she died before he even opened his eyes. "You can have them."

Merlin's face brightened and he beamed. "Thank you, Sire."

And Arthur couldn't resist anymore. He swooped down and captured his alluring lips in a searing kiss. After a moment, Merlin responded with the same vigor.

And the night grew on . . .

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The next morning, Merlin returned to the wide room where all the other concubines stayed. As he went to his own bed, a surprise greeted him.

It was cloths—neckerchiefs—of various colors. And lo, the beauty of the designs sewed in them. Each one had a different artful pattern. One contained the sun with its beautiful rays. Another contained the stars and the moon.

And one had a merlin in mid-flight. As he held it up, Merlin decided that the latter was his favorite as it also had the words 'For you, my love. From Arthur' in swirling letters. He liked that the king used his own name instead of his title.

As he tied that one around his neck, he realized he might like Arthur more than he cared to admit. The notion made him giddy and fearful at the same time.

Shaking himself out of his thoughts, Merlin observed the pile of cloths atop his bed. After a moment of contemplation, he nodded to himself and gathered the pile.

"Can you teach me how to sew?" he asked Gwen, the seamstress, later that afternoon.

Guinevere, the kind soul she is, patiently gave him instructions and demonstrated carefully. It was hard and he wasn't born with the talent but he spent the whole afternoon learning. He was determined to do this.

"Who's that for?" Gwen had asked with a smile, gesturing at the two cloths (one blue and the other dark green) he had successfully stitched together. Merlin had a lot of bandages on his fingers but it was worth it. "And where did you get those? They're beautiful."

"Arthur gave them to me." He replied with a big grin.

Gwen settled down beside him as he continued on working his little project. She seemed to be contemplating something before she turned to Merlin.

"Merlin . . . you're a concubine."

"Yes, Gwen. I am"

"And he's the king . . ."

Merlin stiffened, knowing where this conversation was going.

He put down the things in his hands with a sigh. "Look, Gwen, I know what you're trying to say. And believe me, I know."

"I'm sorry, Merlin." She gave him a weak smile. "It can never be. I just don't want to see you hurt."

Merlin's heart ached. He knew, of course, he knew nothing could or would ever come out of this. He was just a concubine and Arthur gifted all his other concubines too. He knew that.

But as he was summoned again to the king's chambers that night, Merlin allowed himself to live in hope.

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For the first few nights he shared with the king, Merlin was embarrassed at his own inexperience and afraid to displease the king. But after two weeks of continuous summoning, Merlin was (thankfully and abashedly) used to seeing Arthur naked under the protection of the covers.

Often, the king would talk to him after making love. They would talk about nothing in particular. Arthur would mention about court and his dislike about bootlickers. Merlin would tell him about life in the village and the bedtime fantasies his mother used to tell him. And they would just lie there, snuggling and finding comfort in each other's presence.

"Merlin," The king whispered one night. "I want . . . I want to show you things even more beautiful. I want to let you to wear lovely clothes." Arthur stroked his cheek, looking at him fondly. "I want to let you be in touch with all the extraordinary things in the world."

Merlin gave him a soft smile, putting a hand over his. "Arthur," the fact that he can call the king by his own name filled him with mirth. "I am thoroughly satisfied with everything you have given me." And it was true. Merlin couldn't remember a happier time in his life.

He just wished he could have this forever.

Then, Arthur's gaze went far off. It was somewhere Merlin's voice couldn't reach. Merlin carded a hand through those blonde locks and left the king to his thoughts.

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Before long, a war began.

Merlin couldn't fathom how it was the kind-hearted king he knew that started it. As the battle waged around the borders of the kingdom, the concubine worried about the young king fighting on the front lines. But he was powerless to do anything.

So, he just sat on his bed, devoting his energy in sewing and finishing what he started. It was nowhere near finish for he had to unstitch the works he wasn't satisfied with. But at least he wasn't pricking his fingers with the needle anymore and the ones he had finished were expertly done.

Merlin patted the red neckerchief—one with a merlin on it and the one he always wore—as he looked out the window, hoping his love was all right.

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The king won; not just that one war but other wars as well. And the kingdom earned money through trade and their economy skyrocketed. In a blink of an eye, the previously small kingdom spread its arms throughout the entire continent, claiming territories.

King Arthur Pendragon became a legend. He became exceedingly wealthy. The castle grew larger and had so many routes and rooms that Merlin sometimes got lost. Arthur gained rare treasures from other countries as his allies increased. He also hired numerous more servants for the upkeep of the castle.

The harem became sizeable and along came a lot of gorgeous concubines. Merlin clamped down the hurt that stabbed his heart as the king summoned a different (lovelier and more experienced than Merlin) concubine to his chambers every night. He knew it, of course. He knew he would be replaced the moment those girls entered the castle. He knew the nights he spent with Arthur—the king—meant nothing. He shouldn't be feeling this way because he knew it from the start.

But as tears escaped from his eyes and as he fisted the colorful cloths around him, he knew those nights meant something to him.

And so the days passed by. Merlin was buried under the gorgeous world. He became small, still and obscured.

The king no longer calls for him.

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Is Merlin still Merlin even without magic? Sorry, I couldn't insert his magic anywhere . . .

Bad? Good? Any wrong spelling? Grammatical errors? Too many unnecessary details? Too little details? Sappy? Corny? Or maybe 'Meh'? Should I write the other chapter or it's just okay to leave it as it is?

I finally learned how to reply to reviews. I've been looking for that button since I realized authors could do that! fanfiction is magnificent!

Constructive criticisms are awesome and very much appreciated! Flames are okay because who better to take out your frustrations to than a stranger you can never meet?

Have a nice day, everyone!

~Vividpast