Arthur swallowed up in thickening blood should stutter Merlin's heart in fear. Only... it's the blood of others. The blood of their enemies.
And that makes him more impossibly beautiful than he can bear.
"To me, Merlin."
The glistening, red tips of fingers carefully gesture him forward. That lukewarm fluid gathers at Arthur's shoulders within the dark pool.
Merlin remembers those fingers well—how they buried and clenched tightly in the slave-trader's hair, forcing his neck above the stone basin as Merlin held out the already smeared, blood-crusted ceremonial dagger. Gashing open sun-leathered skin. Flowering out his life.
The somewhat awed look on Arthur's face, how his lips parted rounding and saliva-damp, had Merlin more aroused than he could remember.
"Yes, sire," he murmurs, drawing near and ignoring propriety. Merlin brushes his open hand against the soft nape of Arthur's neck.
"Warm the bath," Arthur orders, simply.
With a piercing flash of yellow eyes, the blood surrounding his king starts to bubble, hot and frothy.
It's for glory—Camelot's knights whisper with their heads down. It's for vitality—the servants nervously chuckle. It's for us—Arthur proclaims, saddled between Merlin's bare legs and groaning when that familiar, too-hot spark of pleasure seizes him, filling him as Merlin's prick does.
At this moment, the same bloody fingers tug apart the lacings to Merlin's trousers. Impatience written on Arthur's once lax expression.
"Is there anything else?" Merlin asks, keeping his voice from cracking, his fingernails clenching down on Arthur's flesh.
"Am I to understand you have somewhere else to be, Merlin?"
The rumbling of a warning drifts around them, from Arthur's tone, and he laughs, reveling in the sudden, mild jealousy.
"There's still your armour to polish," Merlin says, forcing it in a staged whisper. He hums. "Perhaps in finishing your chores tonight, I'll by chance meet the new serving lad. The one with the yellow hair. He's a young thing, meek and eager to please." Merlin grins when Arthur's fingers drop, when blue eyes glare outright. "I've thought about taking him under my wing f—"
A light, breathy choking noise drowns out the rest of that sentence. Arthur pulls Merlin's head down, careful to not bruise his neck where he grips tightly to the base of Merlin's throat. At least... not with fingers.
"I believe there's going to be a place for him outside these walls." Arthur hums back, Merlin's fingernails biting down and scraping the nape of his neck. Arthur's skin burning on the surface and raw. "He will find work in one of the outlying villages. Sir Caradoc will be sorry to see him go."
"Or—?" Merlin challenges, grin never wavering.
Arthur's lips hover to his, perfectly shaped and ruddy pink, opening slightly to release an low exhale.
"—Or he will take part of the next bath."
Merlin's body tingles, in either apprehension or thrill or shame of how fast he grows hard. "Not loads of choices left to him," he breathes against Arthur's mouth, whimpering when the fingers around his throat curl harder, Arthur's thumb stroking a line of heat under Merlin's chin.
"Remove your clothes."
"Do I have a choice, milord?"
This time, Arthur is the one to grin. He lets go. "You can do as you wish, Merlin—it seems you are inclined to thinking this regardless of who I am," he tells him. The amusement doesn't go unnoticed. With the ratty lacings of his trousers already loosened, Merlin pushes off the wool material along with his smalls, already bare-foot to the chamber.
Guards have been dismissed. Counselors and knights to their own business. Nobody with a half a brain would dare enter and interrupt.
Before he has the moment to ruck up his tunic, Arthur's fingers—renewed in saturated, warm blood—slide over Merlin's hardening cock, encompassing it. He plays gently with the foreskin like it were an instrument, needing attention, needing focus, and needing sensitivity.
Merlin swallows down a small moan, rocking forward and grabbing for Arthur's shoulder. He would reach for the basin or risk tumbling over.
The other man leans in, taking Merlin into his mouth without an acknowledgement and stroking him off quicker with the other hand.
"Arthur," he gasps softly, dragging a hand into fine, yellow hair. Merlin cradles Arthur's head to him, perhaps in likeness to a mother to babe. He would watch over Arthur, as long as the earth breathed and lived, as long as Merlin's bones were made whole, as long as others would try to bleed Arthur.
And if they wanted blood... they could have it.
They could have theirs shining against a ceremonial blade, dripping fresh into the crevices of Merlin and Arthur's fingers entwining each other's.
BBC Merlin is not mine. Reposted from my LJ and AO3. Thought you guys might enjoy some Dark!Merthur. Any comments/questions are deeply appreciated.