Harlequin's Slash Fic

Secrets

Title: Secrets
Author: Harlequin
Universe: Merlin
Characters featured: Merlin/Arthur
Category, Word count: Short story; 2000 words
Rating: R
Summary: On their return from Merlin’s home village, Arthur thinks he has worked out Merlin’s secret – and that it’s the same as his own secret…
First published: 1 December 2008 on Harlequin’s Slash Site

 

Secrets

It was expected of the prince’s man servant that he would go to the prince’s rooms one last time late at night, to ensure he had everything he needed before sleeping. For Merlin, this was a duty honoured more in the breach than the observance. But tonight, after their return the previous day from Ealdor, he had remembered.

He found Arthur sitting there looking very content, very much as if all was right with his part of the world. He was in his big throne-like chair with his booted feet up on the table, and was gazing upon Merlin with great satisfaction. Such an expression was so rare that Merlin felt quite spooked.

‘Merlin,’ the prince said. ‘Merlin, Merlin, Merlin…’

‘Yes?’

‘What are we going to do with you?’ It sounded as if Arthur already had an answer in mind.

‘I don’t know,’ Merlin said nervously.

‘I have worked it out.’

‘What’s that, sire?’ he asked, his nervousness increasing.

‘Seeing you in your home village. Meeting Will. It all became clear to me.’

Merlin stared at him dumbly. Hoping against hope…

‘You have a secret, don’t you, Merlin?’

He turned away, his heart clenching in despair. He was lost. His life would be forfeit. Gaius would be so mad at him…

‘I am sorry you did not trust me enough to tell me yourself.’

‘Arthur,’ he murmured, wondering if he could possibly divert the conversation. ‘If I –’

‘I mean, I realise all too well that you risk execution –’

His heart became a black lump of coal. That Arthur would mention this inevitable outcome so casually… Merlin remembered the sound of the executioner’s axe slicing through the air and thudding home.

‘My father will never relent about such things, I know. But I hoped you’d know you could trust me with the truth.’

‘Arthur, please,’ Merlin said. But he didn’t know how to even begin to plead his cause.

‘There should be no secrets between us.’

‘No, I could not expect –’

‘You can be yourself with me.’

‘I cannot!’

Arthur stood, stepped towards him. ‘Do you really not trust me?’

‘I could not expect you to keep my secret from your father.’

‘Why not?’

Merlin rolled his eyes. Of course the king’s rule would prevail. Arthur could not stand against Uther. Not when it came to something as serious as the outlawed practice of magic.

Arthur was close now. He said quietly, ‘I realise you must mourn for your friend Will. He was a good man.’

‘Yes,’ Merlin said roughly, though he could not see how Will factored into this, if Arthur had figured out that Merlin was the sorcerer and Will had been covering for him.

‘But don’t you realise… my dear Merlin…’

He turned, puzzled. Gazed bemused at Arthur’s sincerity.

‘It is a secret that I share with you.’

‘No…’ Merlin shook his head. He knew Arthur. He had after a bad start come to respect him, and now regarded him as rather heroic. The prince had many excellent qualities, and would in time make a fine king, certainly a more compassionate king than Uther. But there was not an ounce of magic in him. Not even a whiff. Arthur was simply… Arthur.

‘Yes,’ whispered Arthur. And he stepped closer still, and leaned in towards Merlin –

– Merlin watched him draw near, still not understanding. He did not fear Arthur, he did not back away. But he didn’t know –

– Arthur’s mouth was on his, pressing against his. Merlin remained motionless, stunned. Arthur shifted a little, tilted his head. The press became a kiss.

Belated comprehension made Merlin part his lips in an Oh, and Arthur pushed home, his mouth firm, the tip of his tongue tickling inside Merlin’s lower lip for a moment. It was a sweet kiss, there was no denying that. Arthur’s hands settling either side of Merlin’s waist sent the unexpected sensation hurtling downwards, and then one hand lifted to tenderly cup Merlin’s face, so that he felt all afire from top to toe.

Arthur drew back a little, regarded Merlin fondly. ‘There,’ he said with some satisfaction. ‘Now you know my secret, too.’

‘Sire,’ Merlin whispered, wondering how to explain. But the stakes had been raised immeasurably. Had it become even more imperative that Merlin keep his own secret secure? He tried to imagine announcing, Arthur, you have just kissed a sorcerer. You have just trusted your truest self to what you think of as evil. No, he couldn’t. Arthur’s horror would know no bounds. How else could Merlin withdraw without offending Arthur’s honour, without doing him harm? ‘Sire, you are mistaken…’

Arthur’s sudden wariness was heartbreaking. One moment he was supremely content, happy both with himself and with Merlin – perhaps truly happy for the first time in years, given the dangerous nature of his secret. In the next moment, Arthur was withdrawn, afraid.

‘I mean,’ Merlin scrambled, not wanting to hurt this man. ‘I mean, I mourn Will only as a friend. Not as –’

‘Ah…’ Arthur nodded, thinking he once more understood the situation. Though he did not regain the beautifully contented peace. ‘You did not love him, then? You loved him as a friend, but not with this kind of love?’

Merlin shook his head, and murmured, ‘I did not.’

‘Poor fellow. Then was his love for you unrequited?’

It was all too confusing. That was the problem with secrets – they got so damned complicated. Or had Arthur actually seen something in Will, recognised something that Merlin himself had never perceived? Merlin grimaced, trying to work it all out.

‘Then, with all due respect, we need not wait,’ Arthur murmured. And he was leaning close again, and kissing Merlin, winding a strong arm round Merlin’s waist and drawing his body hard up against Arthur’s own.

Merlin found himself responding to the sheer physicality of the act. He could hardly help it, after all. It was not as if there were many such occurrences in his past, and while he had never really imagined himself with another man, he had certainly never felt any antipathy for such an act. And then… and then… it was Arthur. His wholly unexpected friend. Merlin had come to think of him as handsome, responsible, good-hearted, loyal. Now he found him passionate as well, and complex, and trusting. Maybe that thought was what made the difference for Merlin: Arthur was willing to trust him with his deepest secret. Arthur was willing to make himself completely vulnerable to Merlin. Whoever could be expected to resist such a compliment? Such a pledge.

Merlin wound his arms around Arthur’s shoulders, and returned the kiss a hundred-fold.

The act had been simple enough. First, Arthur had gone to lock the door, and then they had undressed each other. It was unusual to be utterly naked; even when they bathed, they usually remained in their linens: the bareness added to the strangeness of this. Lying on Arthur’s soft bed in each other’s arms, shifting against each other, skin against skin. There was power in it, a magical power, as if tendrils of purple and gold crept around them, sparkled twisting through the air. Neither of them had the experience or the patience or even the need to make it last. Neither of them could make such a choice, really. Soon Arthur was lying on Merlin, matching him length for length, and the sweet sensations as they moved against each other melted through him. Arthur’s face betraying its complete surrender. ‘Merlin…’ he whispered in wonder – and then his seed was pulsing against Merlin’s fallow skin, and woke him to springtime, and pleasure unfurled, unleashed within him. ‘Arthur!’ he cried rawly, and he bucked hard, and yet Arthur would not be unseated.

Now they lay there together, and Arthur’s contentment seemed so profound that it would bring a thousand years of peace to his kingdom.

‘How marvellous,’ Arthur murmured. ‘How marvellous that we should find each other.’ He turned his head to smile at Merlin.

Merlin hardly knew how to reply. He had never seen Arthur like this, never anything like this. Could not have guessed at it.

‘And that it should be you.’

‘Sire?’

Arthur smirked, and suddenly the arrogant prince Merlin knew was clearly in sight again. ‘Merlin, don’t take this the wrong way, but if I had been asked to name the man who could bring me such joy, you wouldn’t have been first on my list.’

Merlin’s lips quirked despite himself. ‘I would have been the last, I suppose.’

‘Oh, not quite the last.’ He was teasing, though it was also the truth. ‘Gaius never did anything for me. Though even he would be preferable to that Edwin character.’ Arthur shuddered. ‘Damnable sorcerers always creeping about causing trouble!’

Merlin sighed, and sat up, turned his back on the beautiful man beside him. ‘Arthur. You know this can’t happen again, don’t you?’ And Merlin was surprised at how sad he himself felt about that.

Arthur sat up beside him; Merlin glimpsed panic flickering in his eyes. ‘What? What do you mean? I thought…’ Arthur gripped Merlin’s arm, forced Merlin to face him. ‘Now we’ve found each other, I’ll never let you go. Don’t you know that? I thought you felt the same.’

‘It’s… impossible.’ Merlin gestured in half–hearted frustration. ‘This a crime in Camelot, and you’re the crown prince. You, before anyone, must obey the laws. And you will need to marry, father an heir. There is no place for me here.’

‘Don’t say that.’

Merlin grimaced. ‘All right, yes – there is a place for me beside you, but only as your friend. You know that, Arthur!’

‘I do not.’ And Arthur took Merlin’s face in both hands, dragged him close for a kiss. A demanding kiss. They were both breathless afterwards. Arthur declared, ‘I will not let you go!’

‘You must. You know you must.’

‘Other kings have had their consorts!’

‘You cannot even dream that anyone at court would accept me as such.’

‘No… All right, no – but you will be my closest friend and advisor. I need you, Merlin. We belong together. Of course I did not always think so, but if you had any idea of how strongly I know that to be true now, you would not argue with me.’

Merlin looked at his prince, considered him carefully. Was it possible that Arthur sensed something of the shared destiny of which the dragon had spoken to Merlin? He sighed. He could not break away from Arthur entirely. And it seemed that he could not prevent Arthur from shaping their relationship as he wished. So perhaps Merlin must agree. It would be no hardship for him personally, though it must involve them both in the greatest danger. And when Arthur finally knew all… his sense of betrayal would be infinitely greater.

‘Merlin, please.’

‘My prince,’ he whispered in acquiescence.

‘Yes…’ Arthur murmured with satisfaction. ‘Yes, my dearest friend.’ He took an unresisting Merlin into his arms, lay back down with him. ‘We belong to each other. We know each other’s secrets.’

Merlin closed his eyes, and lied. ‘Yes, sire.’

Arthur laughed, trailed fingertips down Merlin’s face, down his chest, over the sensitive skin within his hipbone and then onto his thigh. ‘Merlin, Merlin, Merlin… Who could have thought you would have me so besotted?’

That sounded more like the old cool-hearted Arthur. ‘Besotted?’ Merlin asked lightly, looking up at him again. ‘Then it will pass.’ There was no doubt it was best that it be so.

But Arthur turned serious again. ‘It is love,’ he declared; ‘it will never pass.’

‘Love,’ Merlin echoed. His crushed heart turned from coal to diamond, beautiful and precious but cold. And yet he reached for Arthur, drew him into a warm kiss. ‘Love,’ he murmured against Arthur’s lips. Their shared magic, never truly absent, roused and began weaving around them. ‘Love.’ The air shimmered in purple and gold. There were tears in Merlin’s eyes.

Arthur attributed them to happiness.

Posted in: Merlin, Slash fic

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4 responses to “Secrets”

  1. avatar Jenny says:

    LOVED IT!

  2. avatar Lee says:

    Wow. :D

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