Harlequin's Slash Fic

Season 5: 01 Other Talents

Title: Season 5: 01 Other Talents
Author: Harlequin
Universe: Merlin
Characters featured: Merlin/Arthur
Category, Word count: PWP; 975 words
Rating: NC17
Summary: Merlin has cause to revive some old duties that he’d let lapse.
Notes: Remember how I wrote a short M/A slash fic after each episode through the second season? Well, I do like a challenge… so I thought I’d revive the practice for the fifth season. Heaven knows how long I’ll last! But the thing I love about slash is that it can overcome any obstacle except the author’s or reader’s disinclination.
This fic draws on the second season fics for its backstory, though I don’t think you’d need to go back and re-read them. (Though please do if you like!)
Warnings: Spoilers! Though little of enormous import. It’s more personal than plot-related.
Also: Infidelity! As we know, Arthur’s a happily married man now.

 

 

Other Talents

Merlin dealt with Arthur’s armour as he always did, undressed him as he often did, and then helped him quickly bathe in front of the fire. Queen Annis had made sure they had everything they might need; her castle wasn’t as modern and finely appointed as Camelot, but she had as fine a sense of what was due a guest as Guinevere did.

So Merlin helped Arthur undress and bathe, and then slipped a clean tunic up his arms and over his head and shoulders, in lieu of a nightshirt. Arthur crawled wearily into bed. By the time Merlin was done fixing everything – even to the low standards that Arthur expected – the king was halfway to sleep. Nevertheless, Merlin stripped off his own clothes, quickly washed the parts of him that most needed it. And then he crawled into the bed, too.

Arthur, surprised, turned towards him and lifted an arm, perhaps even instinctively warding off the intruder – but Merlin took advantage of that, and settled in close, with his head beside Arthur’s on the pillow, and Arthur’s arm around his shoulders whether Arthur liked it or not… A still moment passed. And then Arthur sighed, and turned further towards him. Made their embrace more comfortable. ‘I’m not that cold, Merlin,’ the king grumbled. ‘The fire’s heated the room well enough.’

‘I know, sire.’

‘Ah…’ he said, the slow sound dragged from a man still caught midway between life and dreams. ‘You’re making a point, aren’t you?’

‘What would that be?’ Merlin nestled in closer still, remembering how they’d used to fit together as young men, learning how they might fit together now.

‘You’re reminding me that you do have other talents. Or at least one other.’

‘I know I used to please you, my lord,’ Merlin murmured, feeling unwontedly humble.

Arthur looked at him sharply, no doubt remembering that Merlin had always been confident, at least in this aspect of their lives. ‘You did…’ he allowed.

How was Merlin to explain that he felt so helpless now, so small and powerless, with the vision of what might be Arthur’s last battlefield looming in his mind’s eye? ‘I have had,’ Merlin said, ‘a bad dream – almost a presentiment, you might say.’

Arthur gusted a sigh. ‘What did I tell you about stealing from the cheese platter at supper?’

‘I should restrain myself?’

‘Quite.’ Arthur’s arms tightened around him for a moment. So far they had simply held each other, and ignored the perfectly obvious fact that their bodies were responding to each other’s presence in all the old ways. ‘I suppose I am expected to comfort you now. Am I?’

‘If you wish.’

Arthur considered him, with blue eyes fully awake now and a little eerie in the dim room, as if they’d gathered what moonlight there was into themselves and now it shone bright on Merlin and his motivations. ‘Tell me first,’ said the king, ‘why it’s been so long since you last came to me.’

Merlin closed his eyes for a moment. ‘I know you love… the queen.’

‘I do. But then, I’ve loved her for a long time, and that didn’t used to stop you. And you also know – that I’ve loved you as well.’

‘What was… forgivable once – can change. You married –’

‘Merlin –’

‘And there was Lancelot.’ Merlin continued on, overriding Arthur’s sudden intake of breath: ‘I know how much that hurt you. I didn’t want you to be a hypocrite.’

A silence stretched, before Arthur said in rather clipped tones, ‘Well, I thank you for taking such great care of my morals.’

‘Arthur –’

‘But there is the question of prior loves. Prior loyalties. Even at the time – I asked her to explain it. I said, if she had loved him first – Of course she cared for him before she came to care for me. I knew that. But she said she hadn’t. She couldn’t explain. That was what hurt most. As if it was just a whim, a passing fancy… Of all people, I would have understood if it was more than that.’

‘Would you? You didn’t forgive her for months.’

‘Apart from which, there are other questions where a queen is concerned. Would the people understand, if we – when we have a son – would the people of Camelot understand if they couldn’t be sure whether he is mine or another man’s?’

‘If you told them, that would be enough. If you claimed the child as yours regardless –’

‘Yes, I see that now.’ Arthur frowned, gazing up into the darker corners of the room. ‘I wasn’t as confident then as I am now, Merlin.’

‘Well, then…’ Merlin said.

‘Well, then,’ Arthur replied.

‘Will you let me… take care of you?’ Will you let me remember that you’re still alive? That I love you, that I’d do anything –

‘Yes,’ said Arthur.

And Merlin leaned in close, and met the king’s mouth with his own, for the first time in more years than he could recall.

Merlin sat astride Arthur’s hips, as he had used to do in their earliest days, taking Arthur deep within, making and remaking his destiny as part of himself. ‘I will keep you safe,’ he whispered fiercely to Arthur – who stared up at him, his hands strong on Merlin’s thighs, and his expression half rapt and half uncertain, as if he couldn’t be sure quite who this man was, this man who promised so much more than Arthur had ever expected him to deliver. Merlin trembled, but his purpose remained forever firm. Arthur must have seen that. ‘I’ll always protect you,’ Merlin promised as the slow relentless rhythm threatened to finally undo him.

‘And I you,’ Arthur swore. And then he reached for Merlin, and with deft hands he demonstrated that he hadn’t forgotten anything at all about what they’d shared so long before.

Posted in: Merlin, Slash fic

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