Harlequin's Slash Fic

Season 2: 10 Stronger Than Magic

Title: Season 2: 10 Stronger Than Magic
Author: Harlequin
Universe: Merlin
Characters featured: Merlin/Arthur
Category, Word count: Ongoing story; this part 2662 words
Rating: NC17
Summary: Both Merlin and Arthur have learned something about love.
Warnings: Season two spoilers.

Stronger Than Magic

Merlin knocked quietly at the prince’s door late that night, and carefully put his head in. He had for once honestly been expecting Arthur to have already settled for the night, and to not want Merlin’s assistance. But the prince was still dressed and sitting in his chair, sombrely pondering. He saw Merlin almost immediately, and beckoned, sitting up properly as if putting aside his thoughts. ‘Ah, Merlin. Good. Come in.’

‘Yes, sire.’ Merlin began the usual nightly routine: pouring water into a bowl for the prince to wash, fetching a fresh set of linens –

‘No, leave all that for now,’ Arthur said. ‘Come here and sit with me.’

This was an unusual request. It wasn’t that Merlin wasn’t permitted to sit in Arthur’s presence, but more that when he did it was usually because he was doing some work that was more easily performed at the table – and Arthur would usually be on his feet the whole time. Rarely had they sat together in a companionable way here in the prince’s rooms. Merlin settled in the chair just round the corner from Arthur and put his hands together on the table, trying to appear relaxed.

The prince seemed to drift back into his thoughts, but after a moment he commented, ‘It has been a strange few days…’

Merlin nodded in agreement, but then thought about it, and smiled. ‘That’s Camelot for you!’

Arthur huffed a laugh. ‘Yes, I suppose so.’ He quickly sobered again. ‘Merlin… There was one thing which has been driven home to me lately. Though I said it light–heartedly enough at the time. You cannot help who you fall in love with.’

‘You were enchanted.’

‘I wasn’t talking about the Lady Vivien.’ Arthur sighed. ‘I have long been reflecting on the notion that… a person can care for more than one person at a time. Genuinely care. The songs won’t have it that way, but what we find in life is more complicated. You spoke of one true love, Merlin, but I don’t think it works that way.’

‘No,’ Merlin slowly agreed. He might have argued not so long ago. Before Freya. ‘I guess it doesn’t.’

Arthur spoke very brusquely now: ‘I know that Guinevere – cares for me –’

But he broke off, and a difficult silence stretched. Merlin eventually offered, with equal amounts of wariness and humour, ‘Weren’t you going to kill me if we ever spoke of this again?’

‘Shut up, Merlin, you know what I meant.’

‘Yes, sire.’ All right, Merlin did know that. Not in public. Not in daylight. Only when it was the two of them, alone, in the safety of the prince’s rooms somewhere around midnight.

‘Guinevere cares for me,’ Arthur eventually continued a bit harshly as if that were the only way he could get it out. ‘But she cares for Lancelot as well. Perhaps as much if not more. If he hadn’t withdrawn from the field… Well, I don’t doubt they’d be together by now. They might even be married already.’

Merlin looked carefully at the prince, at his pinched mouth and pale face. He didn’t seem overly bitter, but Arthur certainly wasn’t happy.

‘And then there’s you, Merlin,’ the prince added, looking up – and his gaze was suddenly deep with Merlin’s very soul.

‘Sire!’ he gasped, as if penetrated with one long stroke for the very first time.

‘You have told me how you feel about me. And yet there was this girl you cared for. You said you loved her.’

‘Yes,’ he said on another gasp. Laid bare.

‘And then there’s…’ The prince looked away at last, withdrew into himself a little. ‘Well,’ he eventually said, more brusquely still, ‘you know how I feel.’

‘Yes.’ Merlin smiled, though even he knew it was a bit shaky. ‘I’ve learned something, too, Arthur. Love is stronger than anything. Stronger than magic, stronger than destiny. If you want to marry Gwen, then you’ll find a way.’

Arthur glanced at him in surprise, and then settled into a contemplative frown. ‘Why are you so… How can you have been so supportive of my… feelings for Guinevere? I would hardly be so generous towards Lancelot.’

‘Would you not?’ Merlin asked lightly. He sincerely doubted that, but rather than argue the point he continued, ‘Gwen has the best heart of anyone I know. She’s kind and warm and – and you care for her, and she for you. I can’t imagine anyone better for you. Or for Camelot.’

‘Well –’

‘And you will have to marry one day, won’t you, Arthur? There must be a queen when you are king. And then another prince, or two, or more – and some beautiful princesses…’

Arthur was looking at him thoughtfully. ‘And you, Merlin? What of you?’

‘I’ll happily serve you till the day I die, sire, I’ve promised you that. If there comes a day when you no longer require…’ He glanced towards the bed, but the point hardly needed to be reinforced. ‘If one day you no longer require certain duties of me… then I will… withdraw from the field. But I’ll still serve you in every other way.’

‘Merlin –’

‘I’ll miss you!’ he cried out, his voice cracking. ‘I love you, Arthur. You know that. But I’ll be whatever you need me to be.’

God, Merlin…’ The prince leaned forward, his blue eyes afire. ‘How can you be so damned reasonable about this?’ But then, only a moment later, the prince sighed and sagged back in his chair. ‘Tell me something you want, there must be something I can do or bestow…’

‘It’s not like that, Arthur.’

‘Well, indulge me. Let me grant you a favour of some kind. You’re not the sort to appreciate a distinction at court – nor indeed do honour to it –’

‘Why, thank you, sire,’ he said with smooth irony.

‘– but there must be something.’

Merlin thought for a moment, and then grinned. ‘Climb up to my window one night. When your ribs have mended.’

‘Are you mad?’

‘Yeah, but you asked! You scaled a castle wall for Gwen, and climbed up to the Lady Vivien’s room. Do that for me.’

‘The towers here are a lot smoother than at Hengist’s castle. Even you could climb those.’

Merlin laughed. ‘Yeah, I know.’ He shook his head, happy enough that the prince hadn’t just dismissed the notion outright. ‘Nah – for real? If you mean it. Just come to my room one night. Come to my bed.’

Arthur looked at him dubiously, but after a long moment he nodded, just once yet decisively. ‘When my ribs have healed.’ And then he lifted a hand towards Merlin, and said, ‘Now, come. It is time to perform those particular duties of yours…’

An old familiar configuration. Arthur lying on his back with his hands shaped to Merlin’s thighs, with Merlin lifting and falling over him, lifting and falling in a rhythm that might have begun with time itself. ‘Arthur…’ he murmured as he gave himself over and over again, as Arthur filled him with destiny and an unspoken friendship that Merlin was beginning to suspect would stand any test the world cared to throw at it. ‘Arthur…’

‘Yes,’ the prince said, low and intense. ‘Yes.’

‘Love you… I love…’

‘Yes…’

Merlin’s arms had been suspended out to each side, his hands seeking balance from the air, but now he reached one hand to rub fingerpads either side of the hard nub of Arthur’s left nipple, reached his other hand to echo the caress on his own. Merlin moaned at the mirrored sensations as the pleasure given augmented the pleasure received –

– and Arthur’s breath hissed through his teeth, his hands shifted to Merlin’s cock and balls, caressed them firmly yet tenderly. ‘All right?’ the prince asked.

‘Yes. Yes!

And Arthur triggered Merlin’s climax, then cried Merlin’s name as he pushed up hard within him, coming with a deep torn groan that might have had as much to do with his poor ribs as with pleasure. He was muttering, Arthur was muttering, something indistinct that included Merlin’s name, something that sounded almost as if he were chanting an incantation.

‘Love you,’ Merlin was murmuring. ‘Love you…’

Until eventually they were both done, and the ragged rhythms fell away into peace, and Merlin collapsed down onto the bed under the prince’s left arm. Arthur pressed a kiss to Merlin’s temple. ‘Thank you,’ he said, in an easy honest tone.

‘You’re welcome,’ Merlin replied, in just the same way. ‘Goodnight, Arthur.’

And Arthur didn’t wish him goodnight, but he kissed Merlin again, and that was even better.

Merlin hoped he wasn’t becoming soft, but it was true he didn’t sleep quite as well in his own bed any more. He wasn’t sure whether that was more to do with the lack of the prince or the lack of the prince’s mattress. That night he was plagued with nightmares. Cornelius Sigan had returned, and ravens were cawing, and the gargoyles had come to life, scrambling round the rooftops and scratching at his turret window – and then pounding at it, trying to get in. Merlin moaned a little in fright, though part of him knew it was just a dream, knew that even if it wasn’t he could destroy the evil creatures, explode them into rubble… But they knew his name, and that creeped him out badly. ‘Merlin…’ They hadn’t known his name last time.

Then suddenly it was morning, and he was late, and Arthur was shouting for him. ‘Merlin, god damn it!’

‘Coming, sire!’ he mumbled, pushing himself up in the bed, bleary and thick–headed.

Except that it was still night, it was still dark, and Merlin flopped back down again. He’d had those nightmares before, the ones in which no matter how fast he dashed here and there throughout Camelot, no matter how quickly he completed his chores, no matter how very hard he tried, he was always late and the prince was always furious.

‘Merlin!’

He sat up again. No, that was real. Arthur. But not in Merlin’s room. And not in the main room, shouting like that. Gaius would be up already if that were so, and he didn’t hear Gaius stirring.

‘Merlin, if you don’t wake up and open this godforsaken window now, my arms will give out and I will plunge to my death on the stones below, and you will have to explain the whole sorry thing to the king my father.’

By the time the prince was through that tirade, Merlin was standing on the table just below the window, which was now open, and Merlin was beaming at the prince who clung tenaciously to the wall just beside it. ‘Arthur!’ Merlin cried in delight.

‘I hate to think who else you were expecting.’

‘No one but you, sire… Not that I was expecting you –’ Merlin felt giddy with exuberance. ‘I knew you could do it! Those smooth walls weren’t going to stop you. Not the crown prince of Camelot!’

‘Oh for god’s sake, Merlin, just get out of the way and let me climb in.’

Merlin tried to help, quickly realised that he wasn’t helping at all, and got down out of the way. Once Arthur was inside and standing there stretching out his shoulders, shaking out his hands, Merlin exclaimed, ‘You did it! You climbed the tower for me!’

‘Yes, well – don’t expect me to ever do it again.’

‘Once is enough, sire. Thank you.’

Arthur just nodded absently, still focussing more on the effort he’d expended and what it might have cost him than on Merlin. And it was true the prince was looking a bit scuffed, a bit flushed.

‘Are you all right?’ Merlin asked tentatively. ‘D’you want –’

‘I’m fine,’ Arthur replied, with a note of exasperation. ‘This had better be worth it,’ he added, casting a dark look in Merlin’s direction. ‘I really have no idea why I put myself to so much trouble, when you’re actually such an easy lay.’

Merlin blinked. And then he said, with an attempt at their usual bantering tones, ‘I’m only easy for princes, sire. In fact, I limit myself to crown princes these days.’

Arthur was looking rather shamefaced, but he made the same kind of attempt to retort. ‘You’d better be thankful. You’d better show me some real gratitude here…’

‘Where’s my rose?’ Merlin demanded.

Arthur shot him a withering look, and then replied with more of his usual confidence, ‘About a hundred yards below us on the paving stones. Perhaps you’d like to go fetch it?’

‘That won’t be necessary.’

‘Didn’t think so.’ Arthur glanced at him assessingly, and then ventured, ‘Told you you’re an easy lay…’

‘Where’s my kiss, then?’

Arthur growled, but then suddenly strode closer, grabbed Merlin by the shirt, hauled him in for a devouring kiss.

Neither of them got caught up in it – the situation was too odd, too new for that. But they were both eager enough, both getting hard while still standing there in each other’s arms, kissing and holding and pressing up close together.

Arthur eventually cast a disapproving glance at Merlin’s narrow bed, and commented, ‘We should both undress before we get in, I think. There seems to be little room for manoeuvring.’

‘Yeah,’ Merlin agreed, even as he reached for the hem of Arthur’s shirt.

Soon they were naked and Arthur was lying back on the bed, bringing Merlin down with him to lie atop, their legs interwoven. Arthur’s hands ran strong down Merlin’s back, cupped his rear, encouraged him to begin a slow rocking rhythm so that they were thrusting against each other, their cocks beside each other, hungry for more.

Despite which, Arthur shifted his shoulders irritably, and asked, ‘How can you possibly sleep in this thing? Or, indeed, do anything else.’

‘The anything else happens… elsewhere. In a bed fit for a prince.’

‘So it does.’

‘Anyway,’ Merlin commented, ‘it’s no less comfortable than that bed you take with you when you’re hunting or travelling. And it’s more comfortable than the ground – which I know very well you’ll sleep on when you have to.’

‘That’s different.’

‘Is it?’

‘Yes.’

‘All right,’ Merlin agreed. He leaned in for a kiss, and increased the pressure a little, upped the rhythm. Arthur’s hands blessed him for that, and then asked for more.

The heat began to build between them at last, the need, and Merlin wondered if they would manage to lose themselves in the passion after all. Arthur seemed to relax a little, become more involved, and there was something about how his thighs widened and opened below Merlin that prompted memories of the night the prince had wanted Merlin to fuck him. Merlin gusted a needy sigh, and ran one hand down Arthur’s side to slide beneath his rear, to push his fingers towards the place he found himself yearning for… Merlin lifted a little to watch the prince, and he saw Arthur’s expression was softened, surrendering.

‘Arthur…’ he whispered. ‘Arthur, d’you want me to…’ And he dug his fingertips into the prince’s firm buttocks to make his point.

‘Not tonight,’ Arthur answered with a sigh. ‘Not here. No.’ But his eyes promised soon and in my bed and yes. ‘Just… d’you remember when you… when I was in the chair, and you…’

‘Just… rubbed against you?’

‘Yes. That. Do that.’

‘All right,’ Merlin agreed. And he set about it with a happy heart. ‘I love you,’ he murmured as Arthur finally began to sink into the pleasure of it.

‘I – I climb towers for you,’ Arthur softly retorted.

‘Well,’ Merlin quibbled, ‘just the one, anyway.’

‘Isn’t that enough?’

‘That’s more than enough.’ And Merlin settled in close so that he could kiss the man.

Afterwards, as they lay there together, seed sticky between them but both too contented yet to move, Arthur commented, ‘I like that you love me, you know.’

And Merlin replied, ‘I like it, too.’

Posted in: Merlin, Slash fic

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18 responses to “Season 2: 10 Stronger Than Magic”

  1. I always look forward to your updates. I think you’re the first person I’ve seen actually deal with the ending of ep. 10 instead of just writing about what they wished had happened. Absolutely loved it :)

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Notragicmercury – Thank you so much! It really means a lot to me that you anticipate my little fics… And I’m glad that you feel I dealt with the canon – I’m glad you’re glad that I did! :-D I have to admit I haven’t read any other episode tags yet – I usually wait until after I’ve written mine – but I will do so with interest. Thank you again for commenting. I really appreciate it!

  2. avatar Sinka says:

    This is was just… wow… breathtakingly beautiful. It hurts *so much* to see how Merlin is totally giving himself to Arthur and expecting absolutely nothing in return. He is happy with what he has now, but he also thinks he is not the one and that it’s not going to last… and, damn it, Arthur is so confused and totally incapable of admiting his feelings (to himself and to Merlin!!). I want to smack them both!!

    Seriously, I love this series to death. Every week I await eagerly for the next part. It’s amazing how much work you put into each installment, shapping it just right to fit into the episode perfectly!! The last three episodes look like a challenge, but I’m sure you will manage!! I believe a happy ending is possible!!

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Sinka – Wow! What a delightful comment to receive! Thank you so much – ‘breathtakingly beautiful’ is the kind of feedback I could never expect, but of course now I am wallowing in it like a… like a pancake in maple syrup! :-D

      And hopefully by the time my fics are done – only another three to go, alas! – you won’t be feeling like smacking these two young men any more… I am aiming for that happy ending, certainly, and there’s nothing this little slash fan likes better than a challenge. It’s great to hear that you feel the fics fit the eps so well. You reassure me that I am actually acheiving what I set out to do…

      Thank you again! See you next week. :-D

  3. avatar Tak says:

    Loved this, as usual. I didn’t know what you’d make of that episode, because of what the Dragon said, but once again, you saved the day… Go you!

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Tak – Hello, my friend! Thank you for your comment. I’m so glad you loved this one, given the canonical challenges! Thank you for the rousing encouragement… :-D

  4. avatar Dany says:

    It’s late and I’m quite tired, but you still deserve feedback, right? Right. Because this was a lovely chapter. ♥

    I’m quite Arthur/Gwen fangirl here (actually I ship both A/G and A/M) equally), so after last episode I was sure that I won’t be able to read Arthur/Merlin fics, because most of them won’t seem believable anymore, but yours is opposite, it gets more believable with every update. It really feels like all this happened and you never write something that conflicts with episodes (amazing talent!). So, thank you very very much for making A/M fics so good even after last episode. *hugs*

    I loved how sweet and calm this chapter was. And Arthur climbing walls in the name of love – that’s so funny. :D But there’s still something bittersweet here, I feel sad for Merlin, he gives everything and doesn’t ask anything, he is so reasonable that I almost wish he would cry and ask Arthur not to love anyone else. I guess that’s what love is – accepting everything about the one you love, even if it means his duty is to get married with another.

    Oh, and sex, touches and kisses was perfect as always. ^_^

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Dany – Aw, thanks, hon! I appreciate the feedback. I hope you got a particularly good night’s sleep afterwards, as a reward. :-)

      I’m glad you’re an A/G fan as well as A/M. I have a great love and respect for the A/G/L characters and story, and have done since reading ‘The Once and Future King’ in my teens – but I do very much love M/A in this current retelling of the story, and I really really love that in this version Arthur won’t have to end up alone because he’ll always have Merlin. As far as I’m concerned, that’s just ‘canonical’ Arthurian legend for me now! :-D

      Anyway, under the circumstances, I am particularly glad that you enjoyed this fic. It means so much to me that you feel these fics are only getting more believeable in relation to the show. Thank you! I do try, but sometimes I feel like I’m a bit of a contortionist!

      Thank you so much for describing what aspects of the fic really worked for you. I appreciate that! Yes, this Merlin loves his Arthur unconditionally, and that’s brave and wonderful, because he doesn’t even know that the writer of the fics has already promised him a happy ending. These two are gonna love each other till death parts them… ♥

  5. avatar E.A. says:

    Ah, you’ve brought tears to my eyes, honestly. Thank you for writing something so full of love and kind regard. I love that you accepted whatever canon throws at us, acknowledge it and then transform it into something even more beautiful and touching. Thank you for writing something so hopeful and acknowledging that we can love more than one person at a time.

    >>>‘I’ll miss you!’ he cried out, his voice cracking. ‘I love you, Arthur. You know that. But I’ll be whatever you need me to be.’<<<

    So here's where tears actually sprung to my eyes. *discreet sniff* Oh, Merlin. He's already devoted to Arthur on the show, and you've expanded it so deeply here. Ah, my heart. *clutches chest*

    And I love your Arthur too. You've made him so real and believable, with his royal air and his inability to say ILUs… but he does care, and in his own way he does try to show it to Merlin, and I'm so glad that Merlin knows that too. Oh, my boys.

    I absolutely adore that Merlin asked Arthur to climb the tower up to his room. EEEEEEEEEEEE! (hope I haven't ruptured your eardrums! *g*) And Arthur did it! Pretending to be all long-suffering and grumpy, heeee. *smishes boys together*

    Thank you, thank you for writing something so full of love and quiet joy. I feel like a kitten rolling around in sunbeam. I must stalk you on LJ, ehm, I mean I must friend you on LJ. ^.^

    Hope you have a great weekend. :)

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      E.A. – Aw, hon… What a wonderful comment to receive! How kind and wonderful you are to care so much about these young men we share that you got tears in your eyes! I just love you to bits for that. It’s wonderful to know you feel I’m expanding on canon, rather than forcing it into something different. That means a lot to me. I love that you love this Merlin and this Arthur, and I really appreciate the detail about how they’re working for you. That’s such great feedback! Oh, and ‘so full of love and quiet joy’… Yes… ♥ It shall always be my goal now, to make you feel like a kitten rolling around in a sunbeam. That’s the loveliest image ever!

      Thank you again… Catch you on LJ, and see you again next week!

  6. avatar Queen Mab says:

    :) I think you handled the episode very well… I too was wondering how you would write this update what with the whole “true love kiss” coming from Gwen in the episode and all.

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      Queen Mab – Thanks, hon! I’m delighted this one worked for you… Ah, slash fans… We can surmount any challenge we want to!

  7. avatar BecsX says:

    Oh Arthur pleeease say ‘I love you’ back!!! I love that Arthur climbs towers for Merlin- showing him that he loves him. Adorable!

    I love this part;

    ‘I’ll miss you!’ he cried out, his voice cracking. ‘I love you, Arthur. You know that. But I’ll be whatever you need me to be.’

    It broke me a little bit inside but it’s so true of Merlin! So in character.
    *happy sigh* Love this, angst filled but oddly sweet.

    See you again next week :)

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      BecsX – Awww, hon… I love your comment! I love that you’re enjoying these characterisations… Only three eps to go! *gasp* I wonder if Arthur will manage to say those magic words or not… :-) Thank you for being a part of this with me. Catch you again soon!

  8. avatar Dany says:

    “[..] because he doesn’t even know that the writer of the fics has already promised him a happy ending. These two are gonna love each other till death parts them… ♥ “

    Now you’re officially the best A/M writer ever! ♥

  9. avatar lachatblanche says:

    Oh god!!! Ive been reading through all your fics and Ive restrained myself from commenting so far coz I wanted to do that at the end but … oh my! Your little additions to the show .. well DAMN but I really REALLY want them to actually be part of the show! I love that you waited for each episode and then found ways to make it so that the slash continues in spite of all the awful Arthur/Gwen rubbish (that I LOATHE – I am a firm Merthur fan!) and I bless you for making the slashy love continue!

    And this bit … oh WOW! Arthur doing what Merlin really wants and climbing the tower – it reminds me of the end of Pretty Woman when Richard Gere climbs up to her room but INFINITELY better and sweeter!!!!

    And then when Merlin tells Arthur that he loves him and then Arthur replies “I climb towers for you” my heart burst. Seriously, I was so .. I dont even know .. happy sad anguished … just so in love with the two boys and DAMMIT THIS HAPPENED!!!!! They just didnt show it in the episode is all! But that line … wow. Just wow.

    I REALLY dont want Arthur and Gwen to get together but its inevitable in the show I suppose … thank god for you and other Merthur fans who soothe that hurt … Arthur and Merlin belong together, theres no doubt about it!

    Well sorry for ranting, on to read the rest of the fics now. PLease continue with the gorgeous work and write more Merlin fics! I adore them, and your writing is gorgeous! And PLEASE get Arthur to tell Merlin that he loves him, I’m this close to heartbreak on Merlin’s behalf by all Arthur’s unspoken love for Merlin!! x x

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      lachatblanche – Thank you so much for your lovely long comment! What an utter pleasure it was to receive. ♥

      I’m really delighted that this sequence of fics worked for you. It was a fascinating and occasionally strange process to write them while the series was unfolding, but I’m really glad I did. To be honest, I am happy enough with the Arthur/Gwen story in the show, but no matter what happens with Gwen, Arthur/Merlin will be the pairing that stands the test of time. That’s pretty much canon. (And, I mean, even Bradley thinks so, though of course he’s thinking friendship.)

      In the meantime… I’m so glad that the climbing of towers worked for you! Oh my – happy sad anguished – what a lovely reaction to my fic. And pretty much exactly what I was hoping for. Thank you so much for sharing that with me. Thank you even more for wanting me to keep writing. All this means so much to me! Thank you. ♥

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