Harlequin's Slash Fic

With Thine Own Ardour Glowing…

Title: With Thine Own Ardour Glowing…
Author: Harlequin
Universe: Merlin
Characters featured: Merlin/Arthur
Category, Word count: Short story; 3564 words
Rating: NC17
Summary: Merlin has been avoiding having sex with Arthur in a desperate attempt to keep the magic secret… but of course that’s not going to work forever. Arthur eventually insists, and is horrified when Merlin’s reactions reveal the truth.
Notes: The (rather pretentious) title comes from the hymn ‘Come Down, O Love Divine’ by Richard Littledale.


With Thine Own Ardour Glowing…

Once Merlin had set up Arthur’s bedroll on one side of their campfire, he went over to his pack and picked up his own.

‘Don’t bother,’ Arthur said. ‘You won’t be needing that.’

‘What?’ Merlin straightened up, looked around at the forest and thought again of all the beasts that might lurk in the darkness. He hugged the bedroll to his chest. ‘You don’t expect me to stand watch all night, do you?’

‘No.’ Arthur was sitting cross–legged by the fire, looking very calm and in control. Very authoritative. ‘No, you’ll be sharing my bedroll tonight.’

‘What?’ A desperate mental scramble as he tried to avoid what he feared was coming. ‘It’s not that cold. You can have my blanket, if you want.’

Arthur rolled his eyes. ‘Come on, Merlin,’ he said flatly. ‘I’m tired of us dancing around this. You are going to sleep with me tonight, and we are going to have sex.’

‘No…’ he tried.

‘Yes. That was the whole point of me organising this little hunting trip.’

And it was true that the prince had shown surprisingly little interest in actually killing things that afternoon. Merlin had wondered if he was coming down with something.

‘When this all started months ago,’ Arthur was explaining in that tone of his that managed to sound both utterly reasonable and utterly irritated, ‘I thought you simply weren’t interested. But we both know that you are – There’s no point denying it,’ Arthur added as Merlin opened his mouth to argue. ‘I’ve caught you looking at me often enough. The sort of look that can’t be mistaken. As for the way you undress me at night…’

Merlin turned away with his arms tightening around the bedroll, so he wouldn’t be tempted to gaze inappropriately once more, nor reach over and let his fingertips gently brush the prince’s soft skin. He hadn’t realised he’d given himself away so completely. He hadn’t realised that, after the prince’s initial sorties had been ignored or rebuffed, Arthur hadn’t been quite as oblivious as he’d seemed.

‘Then I thought you were inexperienced, and I was required to respect that. But after seeing you with your friend Will in Ealdor, I realised that wasn’t the answer either.’

Merlin shot his prince an imploring look over his shoulder. He really did not want to talk about this.

‘And then I thought,’ Arthur steadily continued, ‘you were grieving for your lost love, and I must give you time. But you aren’t, are you? Will was an excellent friend to you, but it wasn’t a romantic thing – no matter what you country boys got up to on those long dark nights.’

‘Arthur –’

‘So, enough is enough, Merlin. No more dancing. No further delays. Come to bed with me.’

‘I can’t.’ He turned back around to face his prince, his master. His friend. ‘Arthur, I just can’t.

‘Why not?’

‘Because –’ But Merlin stalled again.

‘Because what?’ Arthur was absolutely implacable, and cold with it, though there were already signs that his patience wasn’t infinite.

‘Because then you’d see who I really am.’

‘Yes,’ said Arthur with a tiny bit more warmth. ‘That’s sort of the idea. That’s part of how it all works.’

Merlin looked at him. ‘Is it? You mean, this isn’t just about you getting laid? Your highness,’ he added, to make a point.

‘What do you think? If it was just about me getting laid, I would have insisted a long long time ago, and it would be well and truly over and done with.’

‘You’re insisting now.’

‘Only because I can see no earthly reason for all this dancing about. We’re both grown men. We’re friends. It’s something we clearly both want. If you can give me a good reason for not doing it, then I’ll respect that. I think I’ve proved that I can restrain myself when I have to. But I don’t think you can give me a reason. Can you?’

That last request for confirmation was heavy, and a purely rhetorical challenge. ‘I already did,’ Merlin answered unhappily.

Arthur sighed. ‘You don’t want me to see who you really are.’

‘Yes. I mean, no.’ Merlin shrugged. ‘You know what I mean.’

‘Merlin, we’re friends. I’m not quite sure why, but we are. Why don’t you trust me?’

‘I do. I do trust you.’

‘Then what’s the problem?’

He turned away again, feeling quite miserable.

Arthur said, a bit more gently, ‘Why don’t you put down that bedroll, and come over here? Just come over here, sit down, and talk to me.’

But he knew how that would go. As soon as he got close to Arthur, they would kiss, and then it would all be unstoppable. ‘You don’t wanna talk.’

‘No, I want to kiss you, you idiot.’

‘I know!’

‘Then tell me: What the hell would be wrong with that?’

Merlin was close to tears now. He felt torn in two. And the worst thing was, he wanted to give in to Arthur. It wasn’t just that he was dying to make love with him – he was also desperate to finally confess his secret. To finally be known. To be completely known by this man who shared his destiny.

‘Come on, Merlin –’

‘You won’t like it!’

Arthur huffed a laugh. ‘I’m sure you’re not that bad at it. Anyway, you keep telling me you’re a fast learner. I’m sure we can find a way to make it work.’

‘I don’t mean that! I mean, you won’t like the truth about me.’

‘Won’t I…?’

Arthur’s voice was suddenly right there at his shoulder. Merlin spun around. But it was already too late. The prince was standing there with an amused but fond smile on his face. Prying the bedroll away from Merlin’s arms, and tossing it aside. Reaching a hand to shape to Merlin’s cheek, to push further back and cup his nape. To draw Merlin close for a kiss.

The stars wheeling above him as Arthur’s mouth met his own. At last, at last… And it was just as wonderful as he’d imagined, just as provoking as he’d dreamed. Golden sparks whirled through the air. Arthur drew away for a moment to glance at the fire as it gusted towards them.

Then Arthur dropped his hand to instead take Merlin’s hand in his, and lead him back around to where Arthur’s bedroll awaited them. ‘Come on,’ the prince said, knowing now that he would not be refused.

Merlin followed.

There was a bit of a breeze that night, so for a while the dance of flying golden sparks could be safely attributed to the fire. Arthur lay beside him, half over him, his thigh warm across Merlin’s thighs, his hands roving over Merlin’s head and shoulders and arms, his mouth hungrily kissing Merlin’s mouth and throat. It was wonderful, but Merlin tried to remain uninvolved, tried to control his own reactions. However, once Arthur had wrestled off Merlin’s shirt and begun mouthing down his chest, and nibbling at his nipples, then control became rather problematic. A glow began forming around Merlin, a cool bluish–white glow. He had tried to contain it, time and again, but had never once been able to.

Arthur had been concentrating far more on his sense of touch than his sight, but eventually he stalled, and lifted his head. Frowned a little as he considered Merlin lying there. He looked back over his shoulder for a moment at the moon, but it was a new moon, and not bright enough to illuminate them like this. And when Arthur looked back down it was probably immediately apparent that Arthur himself wasn’t casting a moon–shadow over Merlin.

The frown deepened. Arthur looked up, met Merlin’s gaze. Visibly started as he saw that Merlin’s eyes were glowing gold. And flung himself backwards and up to his feet in a way that Merlin would have found hilarious if only this wasn’t his life and his death and his love and his destiny all bound up together.

‘Arthur –’

‘For God’s sake!’

Merlin sighed. ‘I told you you wouldn’t like it.’

But Arthur was horrified, and in no mood for banter. ‘What the fuck – This is magic! You’re a sorcerer?’

‘A warlock.’ Another sigh as he lay there bereft. ‘This was how Will found out, too,’ he confided.

‘All this time, with everything we’ve been through, you’ve been lying to me.’

‘I’ve been trying to avoid execution, that’s all. But I suppose that’s inevitable now. You’ll tell your father, won’t you?’

Arthur looked away, uncertain. ‘I… I don’t know.’

Merlin lifted a hand towards him. ‘Come here and grant a condemned man his last wish…’

A shake of his head. ‘I thought we… I thought we were friends.’

‘We are.’

Arthur turned away. Paced away. Came back to look down upon him, though he kept his distance. ‘I am trying to understand this. I’m trying to comprehend this, but ­–’

Merlin sighed, and sat up, drew his legs up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them. ‘What’s to comprehend? You always said there was something about me you couldn’t put your finger on, right from when we first met. There were times when I almost thought you knew already.’

‘So why didn’t you talk to me about it? You never even mentioned it, for God’s sake.’

‘Because it has to stay secret. I figured you probably didn’t want to know. Like, you didn’t want to know for sure, because then you’d have to tell the king.’

Arthur shook his head. ‘You’re mad. This is – This is the stupidest, craziest situation you’ve ever put me in. And that’s really saying something!’

Merlin reached towards him again. ‘Come here and make love to me. You were right about that. I’ve been wanting you since… Well, a lot longer than I should have. I wanted you before I even liked you. I’m a bit ashamed about that.’

But Arthur was wary. ‘What kind of spell were you working? Were you trying to bind me to you? Make me fall in love with you?’

‘No, nothing like that.’

‘Like what, then?’

‘I wasn’t casting a spell! That was just me. I get like that when I’m…’ Merlin felt a blush suffuse his cheeks, and the bluish–white glow suddenly sent tongues of flame around him and pulsed stronger again. ‘When I’m excited.’ After a moment, he met Arthur’s searching gaze, and murmured, ‘Please, Arthur…’

But Arthur just sighed, and folded his arms. Dropped his head, and then looked back up at Merlin. In full sceptical mode: ‘And I should have sex with a warlock because…?’

Merlin grinned. ‘Because Will said I was spectacular.’

‘Yes, well. I’m sure he was only referring to the light show.’

Merlin muttered a few words that drew the laces of Arthur’s shirt and britches out through their holes. The laces twisted and twirled in the air for a moment while Arthur’s britches sagged to his hips.

‘Stop that!’ the prince protested, gripping his clothes with a rather unexpected display of outraged modesty.

‘Come here, then, and let me do it the old–fashioned way…’

Arthur took an involuntary step towards him, and then stopped. His head went down, as if he were still entirely reluctant to admit defeat.

‘Come on,’ Merlin murmured, getting up and going to him. ‘No more dancing about.’ He grasped the hem of Arthur’s shirt, and drew it up and off over Arthur’s raised arms. ‘We both want this…’ He took the prince into his arms, and their bare chests pressed together; Arthur took in a shaky breath. ‘You were right to insist. We let it go on far too long.’ When Arthur’s arms finally came up around him, Merlin took a step back, bringing Arthur with him. ‘I should have been honest with you.’ Another step. ‘Maybe even right from the start.’

‘Merlin. I don’t know…’

‘Yes, you do.’

And by then Merlin was lying back down on the bedroll, and pulling Arthur down after him. Arthur landed in his arms – and suddenly they were kissing again, kissing passionately, as if it were the most inevitable thing in the whole world. And perhaps, despite everything, it was.

A clumsy mix of hands and magic dealt with their boots and britches, and then Arthur was lying on him, thrusting cock against cock, staring down at him with lust, though his face was still tinged with dismay. Arthur – beautiful Arthur – relentlessly driving Merlin to the inevitable conclusion.

Merlin groaned under the onslaught. ‘We’ve got all night,’ he protested, even as his hands shaped themselves hungrily to Arthur’s strong butt, and encouraged his every move.

‘No,’ Arthur responded, though Merlin wasn’t entirely sure what he was denying.

Merlin’s excitement was ramping up, and Arthur glanced wildly about him as the glow brightened and grew and surrounded them both. Flames licked at Arthur’s skin where he was pressed against Merlin. ‘It’s all right. It won’t hurt you.’

Arthur grimaced, and increased the pace.

Merlin groaned. ‘I’m not gonna last!’ It had been so long since Will. So very long that he’d been wanting Arthur.

‘Damn you,’ Arthur muttered angrily.

‘Love you,’ Merlin replied – and he was coming, arching back and thrusting up, the pleasure crackling through him like lightning, the seed sizzling out of him, Arthur’s hardness sliding slickly back–and–forth against his own now tender softening cock.

‘What the –!’

Merlin opened his eyes to find Arthur furious. They were hovering a good few inches off the ground. Merlin chuckled. ‘Oh, you ain’t seen nothing yet…’ This one time, he and Will had ended up crashing against the ceiling.

Arthur had frozen where he was, moving nothing but his eyes. The thing that probably threw him most was that they were both invisibly supported there; Arthur’s elbows and knees were taking his weight while resting on thin air. Once he’d anxiously, carefully considered their situation, Arthur lifted his torso so he could glare down at Merlin from arm’s length while his cock remained in firm contact with Merlin’s. ‘So,’ Arthur said. ‘This magic of yours. It’s not just pretty lights, and party tricks with clothes.’

‘No, sire.’

‘How powerful is it?’

‘I don’t know. I’m still learning.’ But Arthur wanted an answer. ‘Very. I think very.’ Which only seemed to infuriate him more. Merlin wondered if that came from fear. ‘I won’t hurt you,’ he whispered. ‘I’d never hurt you.’

‘You are destroying me,’ Arthur groaned.


But Arthur was in not in the mood to listen. He growled, and pushed himself up to his knees. Wrestled Merlin over onto his front. And then was straddling Merlin’s hips, finding the right place and pushing himself against Merlin, then shoving himself inside. Letting out a hoarse aggressive yell that was as much about punishment as pleasure.

Merlin groaned. He liked this act – but even if he hadn’t, he would have let Arthur take him if that’s what he needed. He canted his hips so that Arthur could sink in up to the hilt, moaning encouragement.

Arthur only managed three thrusts before he cried out, and he collapsed onto Merlin as he came, quaking, his hands bruising Merlin’s shoulders and his mouth biting Merlin’s nape.

When Merlin opened his eyes again, he was in Arthur’s arms with his head on Arthur’s shoulder, and they were lying on the ground, askew on the bedroll. Arthur was staring thoughtfully up at the stars. But it seemed he knew Merlin was awake, because he quietly asked, ‘Did you mean it?’

‘Mean what?’ Merlin asked. Though he knew what Arthur was referring to.

‘When you said you –’

‘Yes.’ He shifted over a bit so he could see Arthur properly. ‘What did you mean, about me destroying you?’

‘Oh God…’ Arthur closed his eyes, shook his head. ‘My father would have you killed. And there’d be no arguing with him. Remember what he was like when he thought Gwen was a sorceress? And she’s such a sweet and useful thing compared to you.’

‘I can be sweet,’ Merlin offered with what he thought was his most winsome smile.

‘Oh God, shut up, would you? This is serious.’

Merlin shifted up so he could prop his head on a hand. ‘When you’re king…’ he said slowly, trailing a finger through the hair on Arthur’s chest, ‘are you still going to ban magic?’

Arthur glanced at him. ‘I don’t know.’

‘You would have shown mercy to Gwen, though, wouldn’t you? When you thought she’d only used magic to cure her father, you said she wasn’t evil, she didn’t do anyone any harm. You wouldn’t have had her killed, would you?’

‘I suppose not,’ Arthur allowed.

‘Well, you just have to keep my magic secret until you’re king, then. That’s all.’

‘I’ve never – I’ve never kept a secret like that from my father. Just silly boyhood stuff, you know. Just a bit of mischief. I’ve never lied to him about anything important.’

‘It’s just this one little thing.’

Arthur gave him a disbelieving glare, and sat up. ‘One little thing,’ he repeated mockingly. ‘Hiding a warlock – not just in the castle, but in the royal household. A warlock serving the crown prince. You know his attitude to magic! I suppose you know it better than anyone. He’d swing the axe to execute you himself, and I’d probably be thrown in the dungeons, and not released again until his dying day…’

‘Arthur –’

‘I should banish you.’

Merlin stared at him.

‘I should send you away, for your own safety.’

‘No!’ Merlin cried. And he pulled Arthur back down into his arms, wrapped himself around him, held him as close as he possibly could. ‘Not now we’re finally together. Not now you know.’

Arthur was holding him, too, though he was calm where Merlin was frantic. ‘How have you managed all these months? You’re useless at lying. Worse than me.’

‘I just… pretend to be the village dolt.’

‘Yes, you certainly had us all fooled about that, didn’t you?’

‘So, we’ll just continue the same way. You pretend that you still think I’m the village dolt. And no one will guess I’m not.’

‘Won’t they?’

‘You’re the only person in Camelot who’s ever said to me that there’s something about me, something more than meets the eye. Even Gaius spends half the time calling me an idiot.’

Arthur looked at him sharply. ‘Gaius knows about the magic?’

Merlin’s heart sank at his own foolishness. ‘No.’

‘You’re lying.’

‘So – now you can practice pretending to believe me.’

‘Merlin…’ The prince sounded incredibly frustrated. ‘God, Merlin, just shut up for a bit, would you?’

After a long silence, Merlin asked very quietly, ‘Are you really going to send me away?’

Arthur sighed. ‘No.’

‘Why not?’

‘Why do you think, you idiot?’ Arthur groaned in utter annoyance, and turned further towards Merlin, gathered him close. ‘I couldn’t bear it. I love you, too.’

Merlin grinned, and kissed him – which kind of didn’t work very well because of the grin, but which was also really wonderful.

‘This is it now, isn’t it?’ Arthur asked, looking at him very solemnly. Lifting a hand to run the back of his fingers down Merlin’s cheek. ‘This is the bit where I start growing up. This is where the politics and the lies begin. The compromises and the secrets.’


‘It won’t be enough any more to just be the best knight, to just be the champion. I’ll have to play the prince. For real.’

‘I’m sorry, Arthur,’ he offered.

‘Well,’ Arthur replied a little more brusquely, ‘I have to learn to be king one day, don’t I? Maybe the challenge is to… to manage all that with honour. Maybe there’s wisdom waiting at the end of this path. A long way down the path…’

‘You’ll be a great king,’ Merlin replied with honest fervour.

Arthur seemed to not even notice the compliment. ‘And I suppose in the meantime you will make it worth my while.’

‘I’ll devote everything in my power to making it worthwhile, sire…’

Everything in your power…’ Arthur almost snorted with amusement. ‘That’s quite a bit, then, I take it. From what I’ve seen.’

Yes, sire,’ he promised.

Arthur leant in to kiss him, but he remained thoughtful. After a moment he pulled away again, and announced, ‘First thing tomorrow, we’d better get back to the castle. You have some very important work to do.’

‘What’s that?’

‘We are going to need thick curtains for my chambers. To block the light. Or all of Camelot will take it as an omen every time you come.’

Merlin grinned. ‘What’s wrong with a good omen or two…?’

‘Oh yes, my father and his people are well known for interpreting strange lights as good portents!’

‘Or they might just find it entertaining. Don’t you want to entertain your people, my prince?’

‘Mmm. Perhaps not. I don’t know…’ Arthur let his gaze wander down Merlin’s body, and his hand followed, in a caress full of curiosity and care. The prince still seemed thoughtful, but apparently they were becoming very earthy thoughts. ‘Let’s entertain the forest creatures first. I am going to try lighting you up like it’s the feast of Imbolc…’

‘Yes, sire,’ Merlin murmured. And he’d have to be so very careful from now on, because it took little more than Arthur’s loving intent to make him start glowing…

Posted in: Merlin, Slash fic

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10 responses to “With Thine Own Ardour Glowing…”

  1. avatar Lara says:

    Hey you,

    Giggle! Your story had me laughing so hard. Merlin *glows* during sex! He see stars when he comes. While having sex he soars. Oh, how I love your wit.

    I love this version of Arthur finding out.

    This story was delightful! You always spoil me with wonderful fic to read.


    ps I have been meaning to ask you what you prefer to be called. Harlequin, Quin, Harley, Slashweaver, Weaver, or just plain old HEY YOU.

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Hey there, Lara! :-) I’m delighted to have made you laugh. What nobler pursuit could I dedicate my life to…? I’m so glad this one worked for you!

      cheers, Harlequin

      PS I’ll answer to anything, including ‘Hey you!’ but Harlequin is my fannish pseud – Harley is cute – and I think of slashweaver more as a job description… (Of course harlequin was already taken as an LJ name!)

  2. avatar mcicioni says:

    Harley it is!

    Delightful story. It took a little while to get going, but once it did, it was fantastic. Light and levitation, yay! But I liked M using magic to undo all of A’s laces, heh heh.

    Loved++ Merlin pointing out that he has quote a lot of power. Loved+++ Arthur realising that “this is where he needs to grow up”, to learn to lie skilfully and negotiate.

    Btw, did you know that one of the main characters in the Lewis ep “Music to Die for” is played by Bradley James?

    And to finish in glory – gort Merlin Part II today! Thankyouthankyouthankyoubeyondwords.

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Hey, mcicioni, my dear friend!

      Glad you enjoyed this one. You know, I actually thought the opening was the strongest part, so it’s interesting that you found it slow. Anyway, as long as we’re all on board for the light show itself, then that’s the important thing. :-D

      I saw a photo of Bradley in Lewis… Is he any good? Should I chase that one down? I think he’s truly brilliant as Arthur – but I have to say it’s Colin I’m madly in love with, and who cares if he’s quite literally half my age. I indulged in a DVD of the Catherine Tate Show that Colin features in, and almost expired laughing. What a way to go that would have been! He was great – going through every possible shade of astonishment, embarrassment and horror as his aggressively supportive mum goes around telling everyone, ‘Have you heard about our John? He’s a gay man now.’ Bless him!

      Glad you got the Merlin DVDs OK. I love this show! I loved it from the very first ep, but this last run of eps is so very very strong. Now I am just living for the second season, which is way too far away…

      Oh well, I shall just go and write more slash now to make the time go faster. :-)

  3. avatar Jerk says:

    I’m only just discovering this fandom. Of course the first thing I did was search out all of the really great fanfic. Ta-da! You win! I loved this. Not only are your general writing abilities above par, you add in extra elements of characterization. Seriously, Merlin is pretty spot-on with his half-awkardness and his smugness. Arthur is my current favorite, so I was glad to see him done properly. (And on top, as the last ten fics I read had Merlin topping and I quickly tire of the same old-same-old.)

    “Good omens?” Hahaha, I trust you’ve read that book or else you wouldn’t have put that in there. I love all of the minor moments of hilarity. :]

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Hey, Jerk! (Does that sound bad? I don’t mean to sound bad…)

      Thank you so much for your feedback. You make me feel like a winner, indeed! I’m delighted that you feel I have the characterisation right.

      Yeah, I’ve read Good Omens. I try to aim for the same kind of hilarity, but can really only bow down in awe… :-D

      Thanks again!

  4. avatar Christina says:

    Oh, I really like this version of Arthur finding out. And Merlin’s magic acting out when he’s aroused is a definite FTW plot device. I love it when authors use it in their stories and you did not fail to disappoint! :D

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Hello again, Christina! Thank you for your comment. I’m so glad this one worked for you! I had a lot of fun writing it. (What’s FTW mean, BTW…?)

  5. avatar Dany says:

    Hi! I’ve just started to read your fics, this one is very nice and sweet despite the angsty moments. As much as I love all the sweet, fluffy, funny and sexy moments between Merlin and Arthur, I must say that my favourite part was this:

    ‘This is it now, isn’t it? This is the bit where I start growing up. This is where the politics and the lies begin. The compromises and the secrets.’

    I can’t actually explain why, but it’s just… perfect. I really do believe that when and if Arthur will find out, he will have to make some hard decisions and learn to be responsible for them, learn to be an adult. You put it in the words so perfectly!

    Anyways, thank you for your wonderful fic! :)

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Dany – Thank you for dropping by and reading my fics! I hope you enjoy them. I’m really glad you like this one, and especially the parts about both of them having to start growing up now. I love their sweet naive innocence and their occasional moments of wisdom, and I am going to love watching them grow up in the show, and come into their powers. It’s fun to explore that in the fic a bit, too! Thanks for commenting.

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