Harlequin's Slash Fic

Strange Customs: 01 King takes Prince

Title: Strange Customs: 01 King takes Prince
Author: Harlequin
Universe: Merlin
Characters featured: Uther/Arthur, with hints of unresolved Merlin/Arthur
Category, Word count: Short story; 2788 words
Rating: NC17
Summary, Notes: So, antychan asked: ‘Where are all the fics about how there is this tradition in Camelot that once the son is of age and crown prince (ep 1×09), the king takes him to his bed to deflower and then have an affair with him that lasts until the king dies or the prince marries or something? Where?’ And I reply: ‘Right here, mate! Sorry it took me so long to get on board.’
Warnings: Please be warned that here be father/son incest. Oh, and probably this story shouldn’t be taken very seriously.


King takes Prince

It is late on the night of his twenty–first birthday, and Arthur is in a decidedly mellow mood, just sitting there on his throne with his cheek propped on one hand, feeling the welcome weight of his growing responsibilities in the form of a newly bestowed crown. The other two thrones are empty, as Uther is somewhere else, and Morgana is in the far corner indulging in giggles with Gwen. The court murmurs happily around Arthur; they are all there in his honour and yet they are letting him be, they are letting him simply enjoy this moment for what it is. He’s drunk just enough wine to be aware of a delicious charge of energy surging vaguely around, just out of his ken, just out of his reach. It’s as if something wonderful is about to happen…

But, hey, his father the king has just made Arthur the crown prince of Camelot, and did so with great pride and pleasure evident on his usually stern and forbidding face. Something wonderful has already happened. Arthur smiles in deep contentment, and takes another sip of the wine.

‘Arthur…’ comes a discreet whisper at his shoulder.

He turns with a brow raised in amusement, as he has already recognised Merlin’s voice, and discretion is rather unexpected from such a source. ‘Mmm?’ he enquires.

‘Come on…’ A gentle tug at his sleeve. ‘I’ve got to get you ready.’

‘Mmm, yes?’ He is not yet enlightened. ‘Ready for what?’

‘Come on.’

Arthur shrugs. He is too mellow, really, to resist Merlin’s unwonted insistence. This thought in itself provokes a few nicely warm thoughts, and he follows his man servant across the hall with a speculative gleam in his eye. Members of the court make way for him as he passes, bow or curtsy to him with a shade more respect than previously, and watch him with rather speculative gleams in their eyes; but Arthur doesn’t pay much attention. He’s used to being watched and carefully thought about by everyone around him. For some reason Merlin grabs a handful of white flowers from the table decorations just before they pass out through the hall doors.

Maybe one day, Arthur thinks as he follows Merlin to his own rooms. Maybe one day Merlin will follow through on a hint or two that he would actually like to be tumbled by Arthur… Though whether Arthur would be expanding Merlin’s horizons or vice versa, Arthur is no longer very sure. Maybe tonight? Arthur wonders as Merlin lets him through the door and closes it behind them. Maybe this is the something wonderful that had been buzzing with potential all evening. Though Arthur is feeling really very mellow indeed, and maybe he would actually like to be tumbled by Merlin instead… It’s a possibility, he decides, if Merlin is finally impertinent enough to do something about it.

Merlin sits down at the table, and is watching Arthur with those bright curious eyes and ready grin. His long fingers are deftly weaving the purloined white flowers into a long garland of ivy and ribbons of white and gold and red. Long moments pass, as Arthur stands there, and they consider each other. Arthur wonders if the man servant is imagining the same things as the crown prince…

Eventually, inevitably, the irrepressible Merlin cannot help but speak what’s on his mind. ‘It’s a strange custom,’ he observes.


‘I mean, you told me you thought my village customs were odd…’ Merlin shakes his head.

‘They are.’

Merlin laughs. It’s a nice sound, and one Arthur has grown very used to. ‘None so odd as this,’ Merlin says. He has finished with the garland now, and stands, walks over to Arthur. He raises his hands and very reverently lifts the crown from Arthur’s head, puts it down on the table.

Arthur watches it go with some regret, even though it’s heavy. ‘Can’t we leave it on…?’ he murmurs a bit wistfully.

A delightful chuckle this time. Which bodes well. ‘Patience. You’ll have it back in a moment.’ Merlin’s hands are at Arthur’s shoulders now, pushing off his jacket. Then those long fingers are unfastening his shirt, lifting it off.

Arthur sighs in contentment, and averts his eyes. He doesn’t mind being vulnerable around Merlin these days, and he rather likes where this is heading.

But then Merlin has come back with a fresh shirt, a new creamy white one, very fine, and he is waiting for Arthur to lift his arms again so he can help him on with it.

Arthur complies, though by the time his face is revealed again he is frowning. ‘What are you doing?’ he asks. The shirt falls soft around him, and Merlin begins tucking it in, the fabric and those fingers gentle against the tender skin of Arthur’s waist.

‘Getting you ready,’ is the patient response.

Still not enlightened. ‘For what…?’

‘You’re the crown prince now,’ Merlin observes, as if this explains everything.

‘Yes, and…?’

‘Well, and…’ Merlin picks up the garland, and places it around Arthur’s neck. He stands back to consider the effect, and nods to himself as if well pleased with his handiwork.

‘Merlin,’ Arthur says a bit severely. ‘What?’

‘Come on, the king will be waiting.’ Merlin picks up the crown, and carefully places it back on Arthur’s head. Considers it, and adjusts it just a tad.

‘Merlin, were you born obtuse, or have you been working on it?’ The mellowness had pretty much fled by now.

‘Oh, a bit of both,’ Merlin absently replies. He plucks a flower from the garland, and tucks it into the crown. Considers Arthur again, and stands back with an expression of great self–satisfaction. He says encouragingly, ‘You look very beautiful, you know.’

‘The king will be waiting – for what?’

Merlin nods and grins. ‘That was pretty much my first reaction.’

Totally lost now. ‘What?’

‘When Gaius told me this afternoon. I didn’t believe him! He had to show me the book.’

‘What book?’

‘The one on Camelot’s customs. You know.’ Merlin shakes his head in bemusement. ‘You lot are so strange.’

‘The book on…’ Arthur turns away, frowning. He does remember such a thing, that’s true. Geoffrey had given it to him to read one perfect summer afternoon a few years before, and he’d dutifully lugged the tome back to his rooms. The stuff about the Beltane feast was a lot of fun, but most of the rest of it was just so incredibly deadly dull that Arthur almost started regretting being born a prince. Almost. Rather than risk any further disillusionment, he’d just let the book fall shut and gone off for some sword practice with his knights in the sunshine, which was infinitely better than homework. The problem was…

The problem was that, when Arthur lugged the tome back to the library sometime the following week, Geoffrey had taken one look at it and then blushed bright red. And asked in a very constricted tone whether the prince had any questions or concerns… Given the mutual embarrassment that had ensued when Geoffrey had tried, some years before that, to explain about the cooing doves and the honey bees, and flowers being pollinated and then unfolding in the warmth of spring, and so on and so forth – well, Arthur had just shrugged in his most manly way, and blustered about everything being perfectly clear, thank you, he wasn’t a complete imbecile. Except maybe…

Arthur turns to Merlin. ‘Tell me. Just cut out the obtuseness, and tell me.’

Merlin boggles at him. ‘You don’t know?’


‘Oh… Uh… Well, maybe you’d better sit down first.’

So he did. Then Merlin told him.

When at last Arthur reached the long corridor that led to the king’s rooms, he found it lined with the whole court, everyone waiting there in anxious silence. Then those nearest him realised he’d finally arrived, and they stiffened, and dropped into a respectful bow or curtsy, and a ripple travelled right through the crowd as they all followed suit, until the ripple reached…

Until it reached the door to the king’s rooms, where Uther waited… Where Uther waited like an impatient groom on his wedding night, with a garland of ivy and red ribbons hanging around his neck.

Arthur swallowed. He loved his father, he really did. In all kinds of ways. He’d just never expected –

A hand gentle in the small of his back. ‘Go on,’ Merlin whispered.

Arthur glanced back at him. Took in his servant’s bright eyes and mischievous smile and fond encouragement. There was even a wistful look on his face that seemed to deliberately remind Arthur of those moments in which he’d imagined Merlin wanted to be tumbled.

‘It’ll be all right,’ Merlin reassured him. Then he added, ‘D’you want to know a secret?’

Arthur nodded.

And Merlin stretched close to whisper in his ear, ‘You’re even allowed to enjoy yourself.’

On that delicious thought, a push made him take the first step, and Arthur himself took the second one, and then the third, and the court lowered themselves more respectfully still as he passed, and Arthur looked at his father the king, kept his gaze steady on him, saw the deep pride and utter pleasure there. It was the longest walk he’d ever taken, but at the end of it Uther lifted his hand and Arthur placed his own hand in Uther’s, Uther drew him inside, and then at last they were alone.

He had no idea what to expect, but perhaps he should have foreseen that Uther would be utterly courteous. Arthur was invited to sit on the long couch before the fire, and Uther brought a goblet of wine to him. Then Uther stood tall and shifted back a little; raised his own goblet in a toast. ‘No father could be more delighted in his son,’ he murmured. ‘No king could be prouder of his heir.’

‘Thank you, father,’ Arthur managed.

They both drank to it. Then Uther continued, rather less formally, ‘The happiest moment of my life thus far was my wedding night, when your mother sat just where you are now, and told me she loved me.’

Mmm. Arthur wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to hear anything more about that. He shifted a bit uncomfortably.

‘I trust you will not take it amiss, Arthur, if I say that – Nothing could possibly detract from your strength and your manhood – but you are just as beautiful as she was.’

‘Thank you,’ he said, no doubt sounding a bit strangled by now.

‘And she was extraordinary.’

So he’d heard. At length. All right, Arthur had feared that the king would just claim his rights as soon as the door was closed, and there would be difficulties… Pain. But now Arthur was more worried that he would instead be complimented into complete mortification before they ever reached the bed.

‘I never thought I would have another moment to equal that joy. But here you are…’

Ah. A response was required. ‘Yes,’ said Arthur. Here I am, indeed. And he took another gulp of wine.

‘To be honest,’ the king confided, sitting beside Arthur though at a discreet distance. ‘To be honest, I have been expecting to hear on any day during this past year that you intended to marry Morgana instead.’

Arthur frowned, and said thickly, ‘I am sorry if I have disappointed you, father.’

‘Oh, no,’ the king was quick to protest. ‘Quite the opposite. I am happy for my own sake. Very happy. But may I ask,’ he added tentatively, ‘if you have any plans… In your own good time, of course… Or perhaps – perhaps you are not after all the marrying sort…?’

Arthur’s brows flew up into his hairline. ‘Oh! No, I, uh… One day, father.’ To the extent he’d considered marriage, it had never even occurred to him that wanting to tumble his man servant precluded the eventual search for a wife. Though it would never be the romance of the century; his father had already laid claim to that story. Even now, Arthur thought he would almost have chosen this rather than marry Morgana, much as he cared for her. Almost. He wasn’t ready for marriage yet. ‘Um, one day, of course… I owe Camelot an heir of my own… A crown prince of my own…’ The thought suddenly made his eyes cross.

Uther reached a hand to run lightly across his hair, to mould itself to Arthur’s throat, the thumb rubbing across the strong pulse there. ‘You are far more than I could ever have hoped for,’ the king murmured with some fervour.

And he was going to lean in and claim a kiss…

Arthur felt a momentary panic. ‘Is that why – do you think –’ he stuttered. ‘I never quite figured out why –’ Never involving, in this context, the mental scramblings of the last half an hour. ‘The reason for this custom.’

‘Ah, yes. I have pondered that myself.’ Uther’s hand dropped away – and Arthur was actually sorry for that. His skin felt cold without it. ‘I wondered if it was to cater for those of us who were born to this role, but weren’t inclined to marry. Or perhaps it was to…’ Uther shot him a wicked grin. ‘To encourage some princes into marriage, who might otherwise be reluctant.’ Then, more soberly, ‘It was never an issue for me, of course, because my father died when I was quite young. But I would not have wanted…’ A shudder went through him. ‘I respected him, of course, and I learned a great deal from him about being a king. I loved him in the ways that any child must love his father. But I am afraid to say that I did not… like him. And I would not have chosen this.’

As if I did, Arthur scoffed to himself. But then he looked at his father, his strong and handsome father, sitting there with the most expansive satisfaction evident on his face, and Arthur had to wonder at himself. It wasn’t as if he’d run for the hills when Merlin had told him, was it? It wasn’t as if he’d tried sending his regrets. He hadn’t dragged Morgana nor indeed any other obliging female off to have Geoffrey read the rites over them. No, he’d let Merlin finish getting him ready, he’d let Merlin bring him here. He’d walked down that corridor and put his hand into his father’s. In a state of dumb shock, perhaps, but he’d had options. And he’d chosen this. He’d chosen something wonderful.

‘Father…’ he murmured.

And Uther turned back to him, and looked at him. Quietly considered him with the profoundest joy. And then leaned in and claimed that kiss.

It was a good kiss. Certain and sure and passionately loving. Arthur went with it, let it happen, languidly responded. Remembered a long–ago summer when he was only a child, a golden summer in which he’d first been permitted to hang around with the knights, and how very fine he’d thought them all. He’d been an innocent then, of course, a complete innocent, but there was a precious thread running from those feelings through to the headier urges that had overwhelmed him as he’d grown older. Honey bees be damned, he reflected. It was all connected. And he had always thought – he had always known – that the king his father was the finest knight in all of Camelot, in all of Albion. There was no one finer.

Uther stood Arthur by the bed and undressed him, starting with the garland. He was better at it than Merlin, though possibly only because he paid more attention. Ah, Merlin… Arthur let a moment’s regret slip by for what had never quite been. Eventually, when Arthur was naked, he lifted his own hands to the crown that still rested on his head. But Uther stopped him with a gesture. With a slightly wicked smile. ‘You can leave that on,’ the king murmured. So he did.

The king moving over him, mouth passionate on Arthur’s mouth, his throat, his shoulders. Hands strong, guiding him into place, provoking his pleasure. That tough, battle–hardened, lonely body embracing him, shifting against him, letting Arthur return his embrace, in fact welcoming it. And easing, gradually gentling, as if Arthur was the spring and Uther was a plant that had been locked for far too long in the frostbitten ground. Uther claimed his rights and possessed his son with as much care as any groom had ever shown his beloved. Arthur arched into it, letting Uther complete him, fill him, fulfil him. And if Arthur had brought the spring, then Uther himself heralded a beautiful endless summer as Arthur’s warmth climbed, became heat, climbed further, and finally peaked, and his seed poured creamy golden balm on them both.

Posted in: Merlin, Slash fic

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6 responses to “Strange Customs: 01 King takes Prince”

  1. avatar Lara says:

    Wow! You actually wrote this. Great job with the characters, like Arthur being oblivious to everything and not reading a book.

    I do agree with Merlin that the people of Camelot are weird and we love them for it.

    Now all we need is a fic like the challenge that flashfic has going right now. Where the king has the rite to deflower virgins before their wedding, like in Braveheart.

    Yea for crack!

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Hey, Lara! Yeah, I did actually write this… I am as stunned as you are. I guess I decided not to take my writing quite so seriously for once… Or maybe it was just the recent dose of (medically-administered) morphine… Yeah, I’ll blame that. :-)

      I enjoyed writing Merlin as being utterly professional and supportive, and making it work for Arthur as best he could – all the while bemused to the point of laughter, and muttering to himself, ‘Weirdoes!’

  2. avatar KindKit says:

    Guh. That was hot. I especially love the combination of the ceremonial aspect with the real love and desire between Arthur and Uther, and how Arthur slowly realizes that this is something he genuinely wants.

    One of the cool things about Merlin as a fandom is that its setting is so detached from actual history that this kind of thing is workable as a story. There’s no Christianity with its sexual taboos, so why couldn’t there be ritualized incest for the king and the heir? There’s the Egyptian precedent of incest being permitted/encouraged for the monarch, although of course the rationale there is different.

  3. avatar Beth says:

    This is a long time coming. hehe Good fun! Frankly I’d love to see more fics with the two of them having a bit of fun :D

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Beth – Thank you for your comment! I’m delighted that you enjoyed this one, and that you appreciated this pair enjoying themselves… ♥

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