Harlequin's Slash Fic

The Once and Future King

Title: The Once and Future King
Author: Harlequin
Universe: Merlin
Characters featured: Merlin/Arthur
Category, Word count: Short story; 1118 words
Rating: NC17
Summary: Arthur is reincarnated in England’s hour of need, but Merlin isn’t quite sure that Arthur has his priorities right.
Notes: My rather tongue-in-cheek take on the reincarnation idea. Not to be taken overly seriously! Written for my friend babydracky.

The Once and Future King

Merlin never read the sports pages, but no one could avoid the drama surrounding the selection of the England squad for the 2010 World Cup. So that was how he found Arthur in this incarnation: via a grainy photo on the back page of a newspaper someone else was reading on the Tube. He knew right away that it was him; Merlin’s heart pounded instinctively even before his mind had processed the familiar heroic expression.

He stood with the fans outside the hotel, waiting for hours until at last the coach pulled up and the team started spilling out the door.  Finally, almost the last one off, there was England’s rookie centre, Arthur Carlisle. As beautiful as ever. Despite everything, Merlin’s breath caught at the sight of him. It always did.

Arthur was oblivious at first, but then he sensed something. He looked up, confused. That golden hair shifting in the sunlight as he looked around, searching for the source of something he had yet to understand. Finally his gaze tracked past Merlin, and then returned like a bolt slotting home. He stared, frowning. Merlin could almost see the memories flooding back through him. The knowledge.

A long moment. And then Arthur shook himself. Settled into a distinctly more regal posture. Merlin smiled wryly. Arthur almost never had trouble with this part: no matter where or to whom he was born, he always seemed to have a deep–rooted sense of entitlement. The saving of him was that he always had a good heart as well, and there was grace in the balance between these two traits.

Arthur beckoned to Merlin; said something to a security guard. Merlin was allowed through. A searching gaze from Arthur, which Merlin bore with a tentative smile – and then Arthur finally broke into a happy grin. Led the way into the hotel, not oblivious to but apparently not caring about the speculative stares they drew. Merlin followed, beaming like an idiot, with his heart thudding loud.

As soon as they were behind the closed door of Arthur’s hotel room, Merlin was shoved up against it with Arthur’s hands running over him, hard and hungry; his mouth on Merlin’s, demanding. ‘I knew,’ Arthur muttered between kisses, between mouthing down Merlin’s throat and chewing at his earlobe, ‘I knew there’d be someone.’

Merlin’s heart was pounding so hard he felt lightheaded. His love, his love…

‘I don’t always know, do I? Before I meet you, I mean.’


Arthur’s arms were suddenly tight around his waist; Merlin was picked up, and they fell across the bed together. ‘God – love you, Merlin. Love you… Have to have you.’

‘Have me, then,’ Merlin said evenly. ‘I’m yours, sire. I’ve always been yours.’

They were frantic with need. Until at last there was a still moment when they were both naked, and Arthur was sitting back on his heels between Merlin’s thighs. Arthur was rolling a condom onto himself, oddly contemplative. ‘I didn’t wait,’ he said. ‘I knew there was someone, but I went out looking for him. You know?’

Merlin nodded. ‘You didn’t know you’d simply recognise me one day. So, you had to try.’

Arthur grinned, though it was with chagrin. ‘I tried a lot.’

‘I’m flattered,’ Merlin said lightly.

Arthur shifted up and over Merlin. ‘You always wait for me,’ he observed in hushed tones.


‘This is going to hurt.’ They were both shifting into position even while they spoke.

‘Hurt me, then,’ said Merlin. ‘Do you think I care about that?’

‘Love you,’ Arthur said again, with those blue eyes dark and full of sincerity. And he started forcing himself inside.

Merlin’s breath caught, his heartbeat fluttered – as he was sundered and made whole again in one long beautiful moment of pain.

Afterwards they lay there quietly, holding each other in easy contentment. There was always this secure foundation, this belonging, this peaceful place. They could survive anything, if they were together.

‘So,’ Merlin eventually said, ‘here we are again. England’s hour of need.’

‘Mmm,’ said Arthur, pressing a kiss to Merlin’s hair.

‘How are you going to save us this time? What’s it to be? The economy, the war. The divide between the Western and Muslim worlds…?’

Arthur glanced at him and away again, a bit shifty. ‘Dunno.’

‘What are you thinking?’

‘Well.’ Arthur cleared his throat. ‘There’s the World Cup to think about first.’


‘England has to win the World Cup again.’

Merlin got up onto an elbow and stared at the man. He said, very politely, ‘I beg your pardon?’

Arthur looked rather self–conscious, but also determined. ‘It’s been a long time. 1966. We need to get it back.’

Unbelievable. ‘You were reincarnated to play football?!

A shrug. ‘Yeah. I guess.’

Unbelievable! Merlin could hardly even splutter. ‘Don’t you – Don’t you think that’s kind of trivial?

‘No. And neither would most Englishmen!’

‘Arthur –’

He could never remain on the back foot for long. ‘Look,’ Arthur insisted, ‘I’m the king –’

‘Not without me, you’re not.’

A glance of acknowledgement even as Arthur continued, ‘I’m the king, and I get to say what we fix each time.’

Merlin stared at him with sullen reluctance. He already knew he’d lose this argument. ‘You really think that we were granted the powers of magic and immortality and reincarnation in order to further the cause of English football?’

Arthur sat up and swivelled around so that he faced Merlin cross–legged. ‘There’ll be time afterwards,’ he said in conciliatory tones. ‘After the tournament…’

‘Huh. After the tournament, you’ll be training for the next one four years later.’

A grin acknowledged this truth. ‘Well, all right, yes. But I can’t play football all my life. There’ll be plenty of time for other things.’

‘Oh, Arthur…’ Merlin sighed, exasperated and resigned. ‘Don’t you dare ask me to fix matches for you.’

‘Have I ever? We’ll win it fair and square.’ Arthur’s grin softened, became fond. ‘Then the whole country will celebrate. It will unite them, it will give them hope. We need to learn how to win again. You’ll see…’

Merlin favoured him with a baleful glare, but then his lips twitched, and he couldn’t help but smile. He loved this man so very much… ‘Prat,’ he murmured.

‘Idiot,’ Arthur replied in exactly the same tones. He lay down again, and each took the other into his arms. Arthur started kissing Merlin, kissing him with intent, and Merlin surrendered to it as he always did. As he always did with a full heart.

Before any thought of England or Britain or the wider world, there was always this. Merlin and Arthur united. Merlin and Arthur full of hope. There was always love.

Posted in: Merlin, Slash fic

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24 responses to “The Once and Future King”

  1. avatar alexi_lupin says:

    Hahah I especially loved Merlin’s spluttering disbelief. :D

    “Merlin’s breath caught, his heartbeat fluttered – as he was sundered and made whole again in one long beautiful moment of pain.”

    That was a particularly beautiful line.

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      alexi_lupin – Thank you so much for your comment! You have mentioned my own favourite moment and favourite line, so something must be working right here! That’s very nice to know. :-)

  2. avatar Alznthlay says:

    I love your writing oh so much and this killed me.


    Cute, funny, and so THEM. :DD

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Alznthlay – Thank you so much! I’m totally delighted that you enjoyed this little fic. :-)

  3. avatar Adelagia says:

    HEE! Totally brilliant idea and fantastic execution with great wit and pacing and lovely prose. They’re just delightful together.

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Adelagia – Thank you so much! What a wonderful and thorough compliment for my writing! And the boys are indeed delightful together… I attribute that entirely to them. :-) Thank you for commenting.

  4. avatar Lara says:

    Agreed, this was a great little gem. As always, I love your character voices and the flow of your stories. Great Fic!

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Lara my sweet – Thank you for your comment. I appreciate your support! The dialogue and the flow of the fic – it’s wonderful to know that they work for you. :-)

  5. avatar firewolfsg says:

    [“You were reincarnated to play football?!”]

    BWHAHAHAHAHA! Oh this was priceless!

  6. avatar Kahtya Sofia says:

    I love your take on the reincarnation! I also love the football tie in given Bradley athleticism!

  7. avatar navlasha says:

    Football! *nods* It’s a countrywide passion according to my UK friends, so it’s a good place to start ;)
    Enjoyed this muchly, thank you.

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      navlasha – Thank you so much for commenting! Yes, I suspect Arthur was absolutely right that most Englishmen (and many women) would consider this a truly noble and worthy goal for him to pursue… :-D As you say, it’s a good place to start!

  8. avatar tarayith says:

    Haha, this is genius.
    lol and you’re right–no Englishman *would* think winning the World Cup was trivial. The country might actually explode!
    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      tarayith – So glad you enjoyed this! Yeah, I’m kinda on Merlin’s side of that argument, while acknowledging that actually Arthur is completely right. And anyway, if he scored the winning goal or something, he could pretty much do whatever he wanted after that! Of course, I’m sure he’d use his newfound power for good. :-)

  9. avatar cunitia says:

    I knew this story already and didn’t know it was you!!! Thank you again for every little piece you’re writing!!

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      cunitia – Hello, my darling friend! I’m delighted that you already enjoyed this fic, and you didn’t just like it for my sake… :-) I love sharing my fic with you, hon…

  10. avatar qw says:

    This is brilliant. Arthur coming back for the World Cup! If only!

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      qw – Hee! Thank you. :-D It was an irresistible idea, which I really owe to the friend I wrote it for… I have no doubt that England would win with Arthur Pendragon on their side! ♥

  11. avatar cinnatart says:

    HAHAHAHA *\o/*

    Glad to see Arthur’s got his priorities in order =D

  12. I found this after the World Cup season, but it’s still hilarious and poignant as ever 5 months later. :)

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      nuclearsugars – So glad you enjoyed this little fic! It was a lot of fun to write… and actually I have to admit that I think Arthur might even have a point, much as Merlin resists it… :-D

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