Harlequin's Slash Fic

That Which Makes It Whole

Title: That Which Makes It Whole
Author: Harlequin
Universe: Merlin
Characters featured: Merlin/Arthur
Category, Word count: Short story; 5596 words
Rating: NC17
Summary: Merlin seems like little more than a clumsy dolt, but once he arrives in Camelot, Arthur’s world starts changing.
Notes: For Muppet, as a small return for her support and friendship.

That Which Makes It Whole

Merlin | clumsiness

It wasn’t my fault.

Merlin had been carrying a small woven basket of Gaius’s remedies across the room when a table leg had – obviously with malicious intent – tripped him up. Merlin had gone sprawling across the floor, and the little bottles had gone flying… He quickly twisted around onto his back, holding the bottles suspended in the air. Serendipitously, half of them had been caught in a sunbeam pouring in through the window… Merlin lay there, spinning each of the bottles on their own axes, orbiting them all around each other through the sunlight so that the translucent liquids cast pretty colours across the stone floor and the opaque ones glowed

The door opened. ‘Merlin!’ cried Gaius in exasperation.

For a moment the bottles plummeted – but then Merlin blinked, and slowed down time long enough to gather them safely back into the basket, before collapsing back onto the floor again himself, cradling the basket of bottles in both arms as if he’d managed to save them all the mundane way in the first place.

‘Merlin,’ Gaius repeated, shutting the door firmly behind him. He was all disbelief and anger. ‘Do you do it deliberately?’

‘No,’ he blurted defensively. Of course not. It wasn’t as if Merlin wanted to get caught. Was it?

‘This is what you laughably call hiding in plain sight, is it?’ Gaius crumpled down onto a nearby stool, as if exhausted. ‘Is it your intention to make everyone dismiss you as both mentally and physically incompetent?’

‘Well…’

‘This bumbling and clumsiness…’ Gaius complained.

‘Some people find it endearing,’ Merlin brightly replied.

Gaius turned even more severe: ‘It’s your clumsiness that will give away your secret one day.’

Merlin frowned, and slowly picked himself up off the floor. Went over to sit next to Gaius, hugging the basket to his chest. ‘How d’you figure that?’

‘You’ve never had to learn to be graceful or careful, have you? Not like us mere mortals. Instead you can just fix things instinctively.’

His frown deepened. ‘I guess… Except I can’t fix bruises.’

‘I don’t suppose a young man cares much about bruised shins. You might even consider them a badge of honour.’

Merlin shrugged this off.

‘You wander along with your head in the… well, not so much the clouds as another realm. Or at least, another aspect of this realm that most of us can hardly even sense.’

‘But if everyone dismisses me –’

One day, someone will add it up, as I just did. Or you’ll drop something and instinctively save it using magic.’

‘I won’t – Not if there’s anyone around.’

‘You already have.’

Merlin sighed, and stood up. ‘I have to go deliver these.’

‘They should have been there an hour ago.’

‘Then I’d better not delay any longer.’ And with a sketchy pretence of a smile, Merlin headed out of the castle, and down into the township.

Except the moronic mates of the Prince of Prats ambushed him, and the little bottles ended up flying through the air again, only this time thrown back and forth between the dunderheads. Merlin stumbled around, trying to catch them, getting more and more irritable. Trying not to use magic to regather the bottles and humiliate the morons, because it was broad daylight and he’d never seen this stretch of road so full of curious townsfolk and villagers.

It was useless of course, and his own stupid attempts to fix things in the ordinary way only made the blockheads more raucous.

‘Merlin!’ The sternly disapproving voice of the brat prince. As if this was all his servant’s fault.

Merlin spun around to locate Arthur, and promptly fell sprawling on his arse. Again.

‘What are you supposed to be doing?’

‘Um… Delivering stuff for Gaius?’ Merlin squinted up at the fellow. He was dimly aware of the prince’s friends surreptitiously collecting the remedies and bundling them into the recovered basket.

‘Why do I find you here playing games, then?’

‘I wasn’t –!’

‘Don’t argue with me.’ The basket of bottles was humbly proffered in Arthur’s direction; he took it without even glancing at the guilty parties, and thrust the basket down at Merlin. ‘I’ll come with you,’ he announced. ‘Make sure you don’t get sidetracked again.’

Merlin spluttered, but picked himself up.

‘Cedric,’ Arthur continued, at last looking directly at one of his friends. ‘Walk with us, would you?’

Cedric shrugged, but said, ‘Yes, sire.’

So the three of them set off further down into the town. Silence for a moment or two. But then Arthur said, very clearly despite all the people around them, ‘I understand you’ve managed to severely embarrass a laundry maid.’

‘What!’ cried Merlin.

‘Not you, you idiot. Good grief…’

Merlin bristled at the implication he was above suspicion in this regard. Though he had to admit, to himself at least, that any such suspicion would be more theoretical than practical at present.

‘Cedric, you have sown your wild oats and now they’ve taken hold.’

‘That’s what they’re for, sire,’ the man responded very complacently.

‘Be that as it may, you’ll pay for the privilege. Three gold pieces to take care of her while she can’t work, and another seven to be held in trust for the child.’

‘What?!’ They all came to a halt.

‘Maybe you’ll think twice next time. If Merlin’s the only one left standing who can wash socks, you’ll rue the day, I assure you.’

But Cedric was furious. ‘Ten gold pieces, when the bint can only be glad to have some nobility added to her bloodline…’

Arthur looked at him with a quelling eyebrow, and did not say a word.

‘And it’s not like she wasn’t as keen as I was. Keener!’

The prince remained unmoved.

‘Oh, but you wouldn’t know about any of that, would you, your royal pureness…?’

And Cedric stomped off back up towards the castle, leaving behind a gaping Merlin and a slightly flushed Arthur.

‘Well,’ said Arthur after a moment. ‘Where are you taking those medicines?’

‘Um, Gilbert the Baker. He stocks them for the townspeople to use.’

‘Yes.’ And Arthur gestured, as if inviting Merlin to lead the way –

Merlin spun around and took a step – belatedly registering Arthur’s sudden look of dismay – and found himself toppling over a foraging piglet that had appeared under his feet.

Arthur caught the basket of remedies in one hand, and slid the other arm around Merlin’s back, holding him there suspended. Off balance and a tad dizzy, Merlin didn’t budge, other than to clutch at Arthur’s shirt with both hands and plant his feet firmly on the ground again. Arthur looked down at Merlin resting there with his waist snug in the crook of Arthur’s arm –  a warm sort of speculative look growing on the prince’s face. ‘I know your secret,’ Arthur eventually murmured.

‘What?!’

‘It’s perfectly obvious, the way you drop everything, or collapse in a heap of ungainly limbs, every single time you see me.’

Merlin spluttered a bit. ‘I don’t! I never!’

‘Come on, Merlin,’ Arthur chided, raising him slowly, keeping him close. ‘Admit it.’

‘No… No… It’s not true! I’m not ma–’

‘You’re in love with me.’

Somehow the word magic became a squeak. Merlin pulled away, stepped back, staggered upright – somehow not overbalancing – snatched his hands away. ‘Am not,’ he protested.

‘You are, too. There’s no point denying it.’

‘I so am not!’

Arthur handed over the basket of bottles, with the most aggravating air of complacency. ‘I’m used to it, you know, what with being the prince of Camelot. What can I say? It’s almost inevitable that people fall in love with me. I recognise all the signs…’

‘You do not!’

‘Merlin, Merlin, Merlin…’

The argument continued as they wound their way down to the baker’s, and then all the way back up to the castle. Neither of them gave an inch, and neither of them won. Merlin had to admit to himself that it was actually kind of fun.

Arthur | humiliation

I’ve hardly even lived yet.

Everyone thought Arthur a coward for accusing Valiant of cheating, and being unable to prove his assertions. Nevertheless, he would face Valiant in the tournament final tomorrow, and if people wouldn’t accept that as proof of his courage then Arthur would be in no position to do more. If it were a fair fight, Arthur would be quietly confident of winning. But he knew that Valiant would use magic. Despite all the humiliations and reverses of the day, Arthur still trusted Merlin’s word on that. The unavoidable conclusion was –

‘If you fight, you die,’ Merlin declared.

‘Then I die,’ Arthur responded.

Merlin did not and perhaps could not understand. ‘How can you go out there and fight like that?’

‘Because I have to,’ Arthur said very simply. ‘It’s my duty.’

After a long moment, Merlin turned his back and walked out with nary another word.

Arthur’s banked down fury roiled within him again… He hadn’t wanted Merlin there, but he hated that Merlin had just walked out. He wanted to be alone, and yet he’d never felt so achingly lonely. He knew the truth of what would happen tomorrow – although he found that he wished he didn’t. Arthur had gone over and over it in his mind so many times now, and he had no very useful plans to deal with Valiant – and Arthur knew he was facing an end to it all before he’d even come of age – and if only he didn’t know, then this would be just another tournament, and he might actually be able to sleep that night…

‘Arthur –’ Merlin again.

Arthur glared at him, all anger and resentment, because it was Merlin’s fault that he knew – Merlin really would need to learn to mind his own business, though Arthur wouldn’t be here to teach him –

But something had changed within Merlin, too, in the space of those few long moments apart, for he strode right up to Arthur, and his hand jabbed towards him – though only the very fingertips came to brush gently against Arthur’s shirt over his breastbone – and Merlin declared with his face half pleading, half determined, ‘I’m going to fix this. I’ll find a way to make sure you’re all right tomorrow.’

‘What on earth do you think you can do?’

‘You’re going to win.’ As if the alternative just could not be contemplated – that mouth turning mulish, then those pretty lips trembling a moment before twisting in pain, in desperation, in bitter grief –

And Arthur surged forward, and met Merlin’s mouth with his own – kissed him, damn it, kissed Merlin – shoving him back up against the wall, pinning him there with the heels of his hands digging into Merlin’s shoulders. Kissing him, kissing him – until he had to draw back to take a shuddering breath –

Merlin looking baffled, the idiot, and murmuring, ‘What – what are you doing…?’

Arthur scrambling for the most likely explanation – and it was true, damn it, what he came up with was true – ‘I’m punishing you.’

‘Yeah…?’ A softly dazed smile grew on those lips, banishing the bitterness. ‘Um… So far I’m rather liking it.’

‘Shut up, Merlin.’ He still held the man pinned there. By the gods, he wanted to lean in again and –

‘No one’s ever kissed me…’ Merlin’s eyelids drooped shut for a moment’s surrender, and Arthur’s heart added an extra thud to its beat. ‘I mean, not in punishment. No one’s ever kissed me in punishment before.’

‘You humiliated me. I’m going to humiliate you.’

‘All right.’

‘There’s no need to sound so happy about it.’

‘Sorry.’

‘That’s marginally better. Unfasten your britches.’

‘Arthur –’

Arthur took his hands away from Merlin, straightened up a bit. But he didn’t move away. ‘There’s something to be said for living pure. I don’t see the need for dying pure.’

Merlin responded, heartfelt, ‘You are not going to die tomorrow, Arthur. I won’t let you.’

‘Right. Well.’ He crossed his arms. ‘You can go, then.’

Disappointment marred that mobile face. ‘You’re not done punishing me yet!’

‘Britches,’ said Arthur.

Merlin grinned, and those long pale fingers of his worked at the knotted cords, while his hips jutted forward provocatively, then he pushed the loosened waistband down to his hips.

‘Turn around.’

A moment’s uncertainty – fear – hope – trust – yes, a trusting flash from those blue–green eyes, and then Merlin obeyed him, lifting his own hands to spread flat against the stones of the wall, bracing himself. That dark head lowered a little, turned just to the left, so Arthur could see the slightest hint of his fine pale profile peeking round from behind that thick thatch of hair.

Arthur worked quickly at his own britches, pushed them halfway down his thighs. Carefully lifted Merlin’s shirttail, and tugged Merlin’s britches down further, to reveal his narrow pale buttocks… Looked upon them, aware of his own breath coming harshly now.

Merlin moaned a little – murmured, ‘Arthur…’

He stepped closer, knowing what must be done, imagining it, planning ahead.

Another little moan from Merlin, as if kindly indicating a wish to surrender. This wasn’t going to be entirely one–sided.

‘Merlin,’ Arthur whispered, his throat aching with all the things he’d left unsaid in his short life, his balls aching with all the lust he’d left unslaked – and all he had to do now was take one more step forward, and find that place where Merlin would let him in, and –

And –

Gods!

Just the thought of himself plunging between those willing buttocks, pushing deep inside, finally joined with another, embedding himself, finally not alone – just the thought had him surging forward, pressing against – his flesh pressed against Merlin’s – and suddenly it was crashing through him, the most intense kind of pleasure, too much to comprehend at the time, and already poignant with waste, with regret, because of course it shouldn’t have been like this, should it, what a stupid way to start and end his first time with another person within reach.

He shuddered to a finish – and grabbed Merlin’s shoulders again, spun him around and shoved him back against the wall. Looked down to find Merlin’s cock very half–hearted about the encounter. Looked up to see Merlin gaping at him in shock, no doubt amazed by how pathetically useless that was. ‘Get out,’ said Arthur roughly.

‘What?’

‘You’re just one humiliation after another, aren’t you, Merlin?’

‘Arthur, I don’t –’

Get out!

And Merlin pulled up his britches, and for once he obeyed.

Merlin | yearning

He is so very beautiful, inside and out.

Lancelot was lying stretched out on his bedroll on the floor, hands beneath his head, meandering through another intriguing story of chivalry and love, and the true nobility of a generous heart; these tales were the things he’d learned along with swordcraft while walking the long roads towards Camelot. Merlin was lying on his front, propped up on his elbows with his head at the foot of his bed, gazing down at his new friend, drinking in every word from that rich voice, every nuance from that beautiful face.

‘Lancelot! There you are.’ It was Arthur, standing in the doorway, sounding startled and rather regally displeased.

‘Yes, sire,’ Lancelot offered, scrambling to his feet, and then bowing his head with his hands clasped behind his back.

Merlin just lay there, wondering what the problem was.

‘Why haven’t you moved to the knight’s quarters yet? You should be boarding with them now you’re in training.’

‘Sire, Merlin and Gaius have been particularly good friends to me, very kind hosts, and –’

‘And nothing. If you want to be a knight so badly, then you need a proper bed, proper food, proper company – No offence, Merlin.’

‘None taken, sire,’ Merlin smoothly responded. Anyway, he’d been telling Lancelot much the same thing himself.

‘Sire, I’m perfectly happy to stay here, and I don’t wish to be any more of a burden than necessary, especially in this time of crisis.’

‘Nonsense,’ Arthur briskly responded. ‘Gather up your things, and go over there now. The steward is expecting you, and Bedivere will see you settled in.’

‘Yes, sire.’ Lancelot’s head lowered further still in acquiescence, and then he collected together the little gear he’d had with him. ‘Goodnight, my friend,’ he offered moments later, casting a last warm dark direct look at Merlin. ‘I hope I’ll see you tomorrow.’

‘Night, Lancelot. I’ll come find you when I can.’

‘Goodnight, sire.’ And he slipped out, jogging down the little flight of stairs.

Merlin sighed. Arthur waited there as Lancelot’s footsteps sounded through Gaius’s main room, and then the far door was quietly closed behind him. He was gone. Silence. Merlin looked up at Arthur, who remained unforthcoming. Eventually Merlin asked, ‘Was there something you wanted?’

Arthur glanced away. Thought for a long moment. Stepped further into the room. Had second thoughts. Turned away – but when he got to the head of the stairs, he changed his mind again and closed the door. ‘Where’s Gaius?’ he asked with his back still towards where Merlin lay on the bed.

‘Um… With your father. Tending to his shoulder. Did you want him? They usually have a drink or two afterwards, and start reminiscing, so I’d suggest the sooner the better if you want to get any sense out of him. Apparently your father serves very strong wine.’

‘No. I don’t want Gaius.’

‘Arthur –’

Arthur turned, and came over to the bed. Stood looming over him. ‘Merlin.’

‘Yes.’ After a moment, it became perfectly clear what Arthur actually did want. Merlin rolled over onto his back, and lifted a hand towards him. Softly said, ‘Come here.’

‘Merlin, I don’t…’ Arthur sighed, shook his head. Lifted an impatient hand to indicate that Merlin should give him room to sit down. They ended up sitting next together on the side of the bed. ‘Merlin,’ Arthur eventually said. ‘You care a great deal about Lancelot, don’t you?’

‘Yes.’

‘I see.’

‘He’s marvellous. I’ve never met anyone like him.’

Arthur grimaced a little. ‘I don’t think there is anyone quite like Lancelot.’

Merlin nodded, taking this in. Arthur would know far better than Merlin. ‘He… astonishes me,’ Merlin murmured very quietly.

‘I see. Yes.’ Arthur stood up, and headed for the door. ‘Well, I wish you luck, if you need it. Goodnight, Merlin.’ And he nodded very formally.

‘Wait! Where are you going?’

‘I’m retiring for the night. There’s no need to attend me, I can manage well enough on my own.’ He had already opened the door.

Wait, damn you.’

Arthur lifted a sardonic eyebrow at him.

Merlin headed straight for him – and when Arthur instinctively tried to take a step back, Merlin took advantage of him being off balance – wrapped one hand around Arthur’s right hip to hold him in place, pressed the other hand against his shoulder, so that Arthur was forced to lean back against the wall. Stood there, so close to him that their thighs interleaved. ‘I love Lancelot,’ Merlin said, low and insistent, staring directly into Arthur’s startled eyes. ‘I feel nothing but good things for him. He’s my best friend next to Gwen.’

Arthur was grimacing, obviously wanting to turn his face away, but Merlin wouldn’t let him go – not his body, not his gaze – he held him locked there. ‘Merlin…’ Arthur protested brokenly.

‘As for you…’ Merlin eased his nethers just a little bit closer, so that his own hipbone was suddenly teasing against Arthur’s cock, which was hard and tensed against his tight britches.

Arthur drew in a breath through his teeth, hissing.

‘You irritate me so much I fear you’ll drive me mad. Sometimes I almost think I hate you.’ He pushed closer still, letting Arthur feel his own enthusiasm.

‘Merlin, please…’

‘By the gods, though – I want this. Don’t you understand? I’m wanting what you’re wanting.’

‘Merlin!’ He sounded desperate. When Merlin dropped his hand to shape itself to Arthur’s waist, Arthur groaned – finally broke Merlin’s hold just enough to close his eyes, turn his head away against the wall. ‘It shouldn’t be like this,’ he protested.

‘What should it be like?’

Arthur shook his head. No.

‘There were times I thought about leaving Camelot. I thought I couldn’t possibly belong here. I feared I wouldn’t be any use to you. But then out of the blue you would do something so noble – so kind – so clever and brilliant and brave – that I knew I belonged at your side.’

‘No…’

‘And that’s when I knew…’ Merlin concluded, leaning in to press a soft kiss against Arthur’s mouth, gentling his hold, shifting his stance from demanding to surrendering… ‘That’s when I knew that I lo–’

But Arthur had cried out sharply, and he was shaking, at last grabbing hold of Merlin, grasping them up tight together while he rode out the sensations.

Then even before he was quite done, Arthur was growling, ‘This must never happen again.’

‘Arthur…’ Merlin whispered, trying to cling on.

The main door opened, and Gaius came in, for now safely oblivious with wine.

Arthur shoved Merlin away, and straightened up from the wall. ‘And you must never talk about it. Not to me, not to anyone. Do you understand? I require your promise.’

Merlin stared at him for a long moment, but the prince wasn’t going to allow any other response. Eventually Merlin nodded his reluctant agreement.

Gaius had noticed them now, but had tactfully turned away to pour himself a tankard of water, to busy himself at one of the benches.

‘Do you promise?’

‘Yes,’ Merlin gasped, not wanting to say it. Not wanting to mean it. Not wanting to keep it.

Then Arthur was away, striding across the room with his head down and only a curt nod for Gaius.

And Merlin shut the door of his empty little refuge, and curled up alone on his bed.

Arthur | regret

Nothing is as it was.

The four of them camped in the forest for a night on the way back to Camelot from Ealdor. Arthur sat up over the campfire for long hours after the others had settled. Pondering all that had changed these past months. All that had happened these past days. Thinking about what he’d done, in this his first real experience of independent leadership. What he could have done better. That last item was a long list.

Eventually Merlin stirred, and came to sit beside him on the old fallen tree. They remained companionably silent for a while, but at last Merlin asked, ‘Shall I keep watch for a bit? D’you want a rest?’

‘Oh, there’s no real need to keep watch. Anyway, I’m a light sleeper on nights like this.’

Very light,’ Merlin agreed with a chuckle.

Arthur offered him a small smile, but then turned back to the fire.

After a while, Merlin asked, ‘Is something the matter?’

He gusted out a breath. One of the good things about Merlin was that Arthur could be honest with him, in ways he couldn’t be honest with anyone else in the kingdom. ‘I was just thinking of all the things I did wrong in Ealdor.’

‘Yeah?’ Merlin shrugged. ‘We still won, though. Right?’

‘Right,’ he echoed, with an equivocal shrug. ‘But we… lost people. Good people.’

‘Couldn’t avoid some kind of price being paid,’ Merlin said stoutly, though the people who’d died were from his home village. People he’d grown up with. Matthew. Merlin’s particular friend Will.

God, that blasted man Will…

‘What about him?’

Arthur glanced at him, startled, unaware of having spoken. ‘I – uh. I’m sorry.’

‘I know. I’m sorry, too.’

Arthur let a long silence go by in honour of Will. Sorcerer or not, he’d been Merlin’s friend. And Arthur had felt burningly jealous of the easy camaraderie and affection the two of them shared, even when they were arguing. Pettily jealous, just as he’d been jealous of Lancelot. But this time he had restrained himself from doing anything foolish.

‘Well, you know,’ Merlin offered, ‘thank you and all that, but I don’t really believe it’s the thought of Will keeping you awake so late.’

So at last he explained, ‘It would have all been very different not so long ago. I would have taken my friends on a “hunting trip”, and we would have “accidentally” crossed the border – and once we’d “coincidentally” run into Kanen creating trouble, what could we do?’ He shrugged theatrically. ‘Old Cendred should consider it a favour.’

Merlin nodded. ‘Yeah, and…?’

‘I mean my old friends. Cedric and Barnaby and Jack, and that lot.’

‘Oh. Not us, then.’

‘No offense, but men who know how to fight. God, I could have gotten us all killed. Can you imagine what the king would do to me if I’d let Morgana get hurt?’

‘We weren’t completely useless,’ Merlin protested, just skipping right over any thought of Uther in a genuine grieving rage. Which was probably wise.

‘No, but… be honest. None of you are real fighters, are you?’

Merlin just shrugged, but he didn’t contest the point. ‘So, why didn’t you bring Cedric and that lot along?’

It was Arthur’s turn to shrug. Did he really need to say it? I have different friends these days. Most of the time that’s better. Some of the time it’s not.

Merlin was looking at him very directly. ‘All right, so why didn’t you bring a few knights, then?’

At least he was able to answer that one clearly and honestly. ‘I couldn’t do that. Uther forbade any kind of official action, and for good reason. And the knights’ loyalty is to the king and Camelot.’

‘Are you sure about that? I think the knights would follow you anywhere.’

Arthur shook his head, knowing that Merlin was blissfully unaware he was talking sedition, if not treason. ‘Anyway, I would never compromise them so.’

Merlin sighed. And then at last he again observed, ‘We still won, though. Didn’t we?’

Arthur smiled at him. ‘Yes. We still won.’

And as Merlin returned to his bedroll, the back of his hand just seemed to accidentally brush against Arthur’s shoulder – and Arthur found himself vastly comforted.

Merlin | determination

I want to break that promise and make you a new one.

Merlin waited until their third night back in Camelot, once Arthur and Morgana had finally cleared things with Uther, and everything had settled again. And then he went to Arthur’s rooms quite late, with half the castle already asleep. Arthur was sitting by the fire. Apparently pondering again. The prince had been doing a fair bit of that lately.

Arthur looked up after a moment, and there was the briefest hint of a smile before he was overtaken by a troubled expression. ‘Merlin. There’s no need to attend me tonight. In fact, I think I’ll just take care of myself in the evenings from now on. I can always send for Morris, if necessary.’

‘Morris!’ he cried in outrage. Merlin had been intending to maintain a calm and resolute manner, but a sudden flare of frustration and resentment had him angry instead. He strode closer, so they faced each other from either side of the fireplace. ‘And you call me an idiot!’

‘I do,’ the prince equably agreed, ‘and with reason.’

‘All right, you great prat – I want you to listen to me.’

A moment’s surprise, before Arthur settled back into a sardonic look.

‘I was going to thank you properly for doing what you did in Ealdor. I don’t know if – I don’t think it matters what you did wrong, if there even was anything. What matters is that you came with me, and you did your best, and we won – and you didn’t really have any reason to do any of it. So I wanted to thank you,’ Merlin said, in possibly the most aggressive tone of gratitude ever heard. ‘And then I was going to tell you that I have to break that promise – you made me make a promise that you knew I would never keep. We have to talk about this. Us. We have to talk about us. You and me. I don’t care that it shouldn’t be like this – whatever that means. I don’t know what you mean by that. But it’s love, you idiot – I love you – and you love me, I know you do – and if you haven’t been saving yourself for love, then what on earth use is living pure?’

Merlin paused, breath coming heavy, throat feeling harsh.

They stared at each other for long long moments.

Eventually Arthur glanced away – but when his gaze returned to Merlin’s, it was a little softer. Still sardonic, but in a gentler kind of way. ‘Are you quite done?’ he asked.

‘Maybe. Depends.’ Merlin shrugged a bit uncomfortably. ‘Depends whether I’ve made my point yet.’

‘You’ve made your point.’ Arthur smiled a little, wryly. ‘You had me at prat.’

‘Right. Right.’ Merlin dazedly cast about him for ideas. He’d had plans for this stage – hadn’t he? – but he hadn’t expected Arthur to capitulate quite so readily.

‘Merlin.’

He spun around, startled – and Arthur was there, standing right beside him, and Merlin’s knees almost gave out on him – but then Arthur had caught him round the waist, and was drawing him close with a hand shaped to his nape – and they were kissing, kissing… by all the sweet dizzy gods…

Arthur broke away after a while, and stood there, resting his forehead against Merlin’s. He looked, from this close and possibly skewed perspective, deeply thoroughly content. And eventually Arthur murmured, ‘I think we’d better try the bed this time.’

Merlin felt his mouth tug into a grin. ‘Yeah, walls don’t seem to be our thing.’

A small shrug. ‘Maybe we have to work up to walls.’

He groaned hungrily at all the implications of that…

‘Let’s keep it simple to start with. So, lying down. In the bed. Together. Without clothes.’

‘D’you see what I mean?’ Merlin started babbling as they began making their slow way over to the bed. ‘You come up with these clever plans,’ as they were haphazardly discarding various articles of clothing. ‘You quite unexpectedly do such noble things.’

‘Noble?’ Arthur queried with a laugh.

‘Like loving me,’ Merlin explained, meeting his gaze directly. ‘That’s a noble cause if ever I heard one.’

‘Ah, I see…’

‘And you can be so very kind,’ as Arthur turned down the bed, and indicated that Merlin should get in. ‘And brave…’ as Arthur climbed in after him.

‘Do I need –’ They both gasped as they finally embraced, skin meeting expanses of skin for the first time. ‘Do I need to be brave?’ Arthur asked gruffly as they each tried to find a place within the other’s arms.

Merlin was awkward – conscious of being all knees and elbows and desperation.

‘Oof.’ Arthur gathered him in closer. ‘Yes, all right, I can see that I’ll need to brave a few bruises. At least until we have the hang of this.’

‘You need courage,’ Merlin explained, ‘for this kind of love.’

Arthur was looking at him, pondering, but also wanting. Needing. ‘What kind of love is that?’ he asked in a raw whisper.

‘The kind they tell stories about for years afterwards. The kind they write poems about, and songs. The epic kind.’

‘Yes, I see…’ And then Arthur pushed in close, and was kissing him, moving over him – and suddenly they fit together so well, as if their bodies were wise enough to make this work despite the clumsiness, the inexperience.

‘Brilliant!’ Merlin cried as Arthur lifted himself with a groan, his back arched, his hips pressing down. ‘You’re brilliant, you’re so fucking brilliant…’ as they came within moments, their seed pulsing between them, mingling together, binding them. ‘I belong by your side,’ he murmured as they kept moving gently, irresistibly. Kissing, and stroking, and holding – their embrace neverending.

‘Yes,’ said Arthur. ‘By my side.’ Another long kiss, before he murmured, ‘There’s no one in the world quite like you, Merlin.’

‘Nor you. No one so infuriating. No one so amazing.’

And Arthur finally stilled now, looking down at Merlin, pondering. ‘If you want to know the truth… when I said you had me at prat… I didn’t mean when you said it this evening.’

Merlin grinned up at him. ‘No?’

‘No.’ Another kiss, before Arthur continued, ‘I meant when you first said it. I was already pretty much yours. Not that I realised at the time.’

‘I’ve been yours since the day I was born. The day I was conceived.’

‘That’s just ridiculous.’

‘No, it isn’t,’ Merlin asserted, pushing Arthur off and over, following him, tumbling onto him, kissing him, holding him…

‘Yes, it is.’

‘No, it’s true,’ as he began moving over his love, moving against him, fitting them together, creating magic of a different kind.

‘How am I meant to believe such rubbish?’

‘Because I delight you, and you love me.’

‘I never said that.’

‘But you do.’

‘Do not!’

‘Shut up, Arthur.’

‘Right. That’s two hours in the stocks for impertinence.’

‘Now?’ He pretended to pull away. ‘You want me to go down to the stocks now?’

‘Well, maybe not this very minute.’ Arthur’s hands grabbing at him, wrestling with him, moulding him. ‘Maybe tomorrow…’

Who’s talking rubbish…?’

‘Merlin, you’re really the –’

He didn’t bother telling Arthur to shut up again – Merlin just kissed him, and he settled in close to begin exploring the further possibilities of one body moving against another.

Which seemed to work. The next time Arthur spoke, he talked of love.

Posted in: Merlin, Slash fic

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8 responses to “That Which Makes It Whole”

  1. avatar Noor says:

    Arthur & Merlin was going through such sweet torture before they finally got what they wanted. Sad & sweet ♥

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Noor – Thank you for commenting! I’m glad there was enough sweetness there to balance the angst. :-)

  2. avatar lonelyreverance says:

    love this, it tells so much and really reaches to core.

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      lonelyreverance – Thank you so much for your comment! Of course the core is where I aim for, so it’s very pleasing to be told I reached it. :-) Thank you again.

  3. avatar ravenflight21 says:

    ‘Do I need to be brave?’ Arthur asked gruffly as they each tried to find a place within the other’s arms.

    I loved this story. The reason for Merlin’s clumsiness; Arthur’s jealousy of Lancelot; Gaius being tactful. And the sentence I quoted. Lovely <3

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      ravenflight21 – Thank you! I really appreciate your comment, and especially your description of the things you liked best. I think I want to do more with the notion of Merlin’s clumsiness as one of the things that marks him as something more rather than less… It’s been intriguing me for a while now, but I haven’t found the right fic in which to explore it.

      Anyway! Thank you again. :-)

  4. avatar BecsX says:

    Holy bajoly! (Hm, that’s a new exclamation of awe there…) Since you said not to be shy about the spam, sorry fic!love here comes the fic!Love!

    FUHFGJFDGVIUHDKSNCCOKVFUHFSDJFNZXKCJZXLICBHZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    This is beyond WORDS! You know how much I totally fangirl all of your fics, but THIS ONE! Wow to the power of six billion!
    It was so powerful! I reckon you got the exact right amount of everything in there. Arthur in denial and being confused and Merlin being hurt but then taking control of the situation being all confident.
    AND THEN THE SEX AND THE LOVE!!!! *brain explodes* :D :D :D :D :D

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      BecsX – Aren’t you wonderful…? Making up new exclamations of awe! Thank you so much for the fic!love, especially for this particular fic. The ‘exact right amount of everything’, eh? That’s a brilliant comment to receive! And as for your last reaction there… well, that’s what we aim for! Exploding brains through the sex and the love… It’s a messy job, but someone has to do it.

      Thanks again, hon! So glad you’re enjoying yourself here! ♥

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