Harlequin's Slash Fic

Season 2: 04 The Bright Side

Title: Season 2: 04 The Bright Side
Author: Harlequin
Universe: Merlin
Characters featured: Merlin/Arthur
Category, Word count: PWP; 1141 words
Rating: NC17
Summary: Merlin finally knows that Arthur is in love with Gwen, so the two young men have to work out what that means for their own relationship.
Notes: Another M/A response to the second season as it unfolds.
Warnings: Season two spoilers.

The Bright Side

Late that night, Merlin quietly let himself into the prince’s rooms, trying to remain unobtrusive just in case. But Arthur was awake, and exactly where Merlin had thought he’d be – sitting in his chair, his chin propped on one hand, staring pensively into the fire. He gave no sign that he’d even noticed Merlin, but of course he must have. Merlin stood there with his back to the closed door, hands tucked behind him against the rough wood.

After a long shared stillness, Merlin broke the silence in as unassuming a tone as he could manage. ‘Do you need me for anything tonight, sire?’

A painful grimace crushed Arthur’s face for a moment. A real grimace, not one of the mock ones he used in play, in banter.

‘Sorry,’ Merlin offered. ‘I know I’m probably the last person you want to see right now.’

‘Not quite the last,’ the prince answered in clipped tones.

Merlin’s heart lightened a little. That was good, that Arthur had responded. Merlin didn’t move away from the door, though. ‘If you need to talk –’

‘I don’t want to talk about any of this ever again.’

‘No, of course not. But if you need to…’ Merlin sighed. ‘Well, I’m probably the only person you can talk to, really, aren’t I?’

Arthur cast him a glower. ‘There is so very much in my privileged life to be thankful for.’

Merlin sketched an ironic grin, knowing there was no humour in any of this. He let the silence return for a while. Then observed, ‘I knew something had changed. Within you, I mean. You were – kinder. Warmer. I didn’t know why.’

Arthur was just looking at him as if wondering what on earth he’d trodden in on the way home.

‘Well,’ said Merlin, ‘I’m sure you don’t want me here tonight. But you know where I’ll be if you need anything.’

Arthur was considering him coolly now. Merlin turned and put his hand on the latch. ‘Merlin,’ said Arthur.

‘Yes, sire?’ He didn’t turn around.

After a moment, the prince said, ‘Thank you.’ And it sounded surprisingly gratifyingly simply genuine.

‘You’re welcome, sire. Goodnight.’ And he unhooked the latch.

‘Merlin.’ This time with a hint of the annoyance that meant this would be blatantly obvious to anyone who wasn’t an imbecile.

‘Yes?’

‘Not so long ago…’ A heavy sigh. ‘Oh, don’t stand there with the door ajar and your back to me.’

‘No, sire.’ And a moment later Merlin was leaning his shoulders against the secure door again.

A quieter sigh. ‘Not so long ago… you gave me to understand that you wouldn’t…’ Arthur’s hand waggled towards the bed, ‘perform certain duties unless you actually wanted to.’

Merlin let a beat go by, not sure where this was going. ‘Yes, sire,’ he cautiously agreed.

‘Well, are you assuming the same doesn’t apply to me?’

Merlin stared at him, trying to work that one out. ‘Do you mean… Are you trying to tell me that… you wanted to do that with me?’

Arthur rolled his eyes. ‘I don’t know why else I would have decided to put up with such a moronic companion.’

‘And you still… even though…’ Something belatedly occurred to Merlin. ‘You changed – I mean, you must have fallen in love with Gwen, and you were still…’ he waggled his own hand towards the bed, ‘with me.’

‘Yes,’ said Arthur.

‘Oh.’

‘Does that trouble you?’

Merlin shook his head, a bit baffled. ‘Not for my sake.’ He’d had no expectations of Arthur. ‘But Gwen would have minded.’

‘Are you trying to be ironic?’ Arthur shifted in his seat, sitting up unhappily. ‘Well, I might have been the first prince in recorded history to even consider fidelity, but that’s all entirely beside the point now.’

‘The point being…?’

‘I chose you as a companion, Merlin. God help me, I still choose you.’

‘Ah.’

‘That is, if – if you still choose me. Under the circumstances.’

A tension he’d hardly even been aware of left Merlin as his heart flowed out towards his prince, his friend, his destiny. ‘Yes, Arthur. I choose you.’

‘Good.’ A curt nod.

A lengthy silence.

And then Merlin quietly asked, ‘D’you want me to stay, Arthur?’

‘Yes,’ said the prince, with no particular intonation.

And Merlin walked slowly towards him, and knelt at his feet. ‘You’ve still got me,’ he murmured. ‘My lord.’

‘Idiot,’ said Arthur, fondly. He let his hand shape itself to the top of Merlin’s head, run back down over his hair, cup his nape. ‘Thank you.’

Arthur moving over him in this new position of theirs, pushing slowly within him, Merlin revelling in it. He was arched back, his head jammed hard into the mattress, moaning contentedly with his arms flung wide, legs wrapped around Arthur and heels digging into the prince’s rear, encouraging the steady rhythm.

‘Merlin…’ Arthur eventually murmured.

‘Mmm…?’ He tilted his head up a little and opened his eyes to find Arthur watching him.

Arthur didn’t say anything, but held his gaze with toe–curling candour. Shifted one hand first to shape itself to Merlin’s throat, then to trail down in between them, and slowly… slowly… he brought Merlin off. Merlin groaned deep as he finally came, and Arthur cried out brokenly as he followed him.

Afterwards they held each other close, warm and sticky – and Merlin, at least, felt content. He could feel sleep approaching, but for once Arthur seemed clear–eyed and awake. ‘Merlin,’ he eventually murmured, stroking gently at Merlin’s flank, the length of his fingers undulating down his ribs and then caressing his waist. ‘Do you think it’s possible to… care for more than one person? At the same time, I mean.’

Merlin sighed. The prince must be thinking about Gwen – but from what he’d witnessed Merlin thought it would be cruel to bolster Arthur’s hopes. ‘I don’t know, sire,’ he hedged. When Arthur shot him an impatient look, Merlin added, ‘Perhaps, in different ways. Caring for different people in different ways, maybe. I don’t know, Arthur. I’ve only ever cared for one person like that.’

‘I must say,’ said Arthur, shifting back a bit on the pillow so they could see each other properly – though he managed to not quite meet Merlin’s dozy gaze. ‘I must say that you’re very generous, Merlin. And I appreciate that.’

Merlin lifted a hand to the prince’s sad beautiful face. ‘I’d be happy if you found love, Arthur. You deserve it.’ Arthur was watching him thoughtfully, but Merlin could hardly keep his eyes open. The last few days had been thoroughly exhausting in all kinds of ways. ‘Goodnight, sire,’ he managed over a yawn.

‘Goodnight, Merlin,’ said the prince.

And Merlin thought, as he drifted off, that Arthur might have pressed a kiss to Merlin’s temple before settling. Unless that was just another night fancy.

Posted in: Merlin, Slash fic

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6 responses to “Season 2: 04 The Bright Side”

  1. avatar ravenflight21 says:

    Oh, you fill me with such hopes! It’s a tough one, having someone like Arthur who’s chivalrous down to his little finger “cheating” on the woman he believes he loves. But you manage it. I love Arthur’s question about whether it’s possible to care for two people, and Merlin misunderstanding it. Lovely story!

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Thank you again! :-D Yeah, I was wondering if this was the ep that would stop me comfortably writing M/A. You are absolutely right about Arthur’s sense of chivalry, of course – which (as you probably realise!) was why I deliberately set it up in the first place that he already had an established relationship with Merlin that ran deeper than Arthur had acknowledged. And then he’s surprised to find himself feeling something for someone else. What’s he to do with such conflicting loyalties…?

      And of course I was also wondering about how Merlin would handle it. I want him to thoroughly love and be in love with Arthur, but consider Arthur as free to make his own decisions. And I also thought it important that Merlin wouldn’t want to do the wrong thing by Gwen, one of his closest friends.

      I am talking too much here! Anyway, so far the fic is working for me, and after this week’s ep, I actually feel fairly confident about managing to keep it going through to ep 13. Keep your fingers crossed for me…? :-D

  2. avatar Tak says:

    ooh yeah. Thank God for small mercies. And thank “you” for this… I MAY BELIEVE AGAIN YEEHEEEEEE !!

  3. avatar mithrel says:

    I missed this on LJ, so I went looking, and I’m glad I did. Of course Arthur wanted to do that with you Merlin! *rolls eyes* Stupid boy. And the end, awww!

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      mithrel – I’m so glad you came looking for this! And even gladder, of course, that it’s working for you. Hopefully we’ll manage to get all the way through to ep 13 and finish with a grand M/A declaration of undying love! :-) Nice to have you along for the ride, though, whatever happens… Thanks for commenting!

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