Harlequin's Slash Fic

Arthur: 01 Innocence

Title: Arthur: 01 Innocence
Author: Harlequin
Universe: Merlin
Characters featured: Uther/Arthur, and unrequited Arthur/Merlin
Category, Word count: Short story; 4000 words
Rating: NC17
Summary: Arthur is yearning for an oblivious Merlin. Uther is also yearning, and finds his options are limited. In desperation, he turns to his own son.
Warnings: So please be warned this contains father/son incest and non-consensual sex! Apologies to those who find that totally squicky. If there can be any excuse made for such a story, it is that the piece contrasts the very different characters of the king and the prince.
First published: 10 December 2008 on Harlequin’s Slash Site
Kudos: Nominated in the Best Dub/Non-con Fic category in The Camelot Awards, Spring 09. XD

 

Innocence

Arthur watched as Merlin finished polishing his favourite boots, and then dutifully lined them up with the other six pairs. An industrious yet inept display followed as Merlin put the various bits of cleaning gear away – some things in the wrong place, and at least one completely forgotten. Arthur would pick up the brush later from where it had fallen under the table, and put it away himself. Merlin stood, and stretched out his lower back, apparently sore after all that stooping and bending; Arthur continued to watch as that gawky body resettled into its usual tall, inelegant configuration.

Then Merlin sighed and looked around the room, yawning wide. It was late; it was totally dark outside, despite it being high summer. ‘Anything else?’ Merlin muttered to himself. Obviously he received no answer, for he finally turned to Arthur – seeming surprised to find himself scrutinised – and asked, ‘Do you need anything else, sire?’

‘You know what I need,’ Arthur said with all the insinuation he could muster.

Merlin snorted a laugh. This had become a running joke between them.

‘Come on, then,’ Arthur brusquely continued. ‘Off with the clothes, and into bed with you.’

‘Oh yeah, sure…’ Merlin replied, laughing outright now. It was a wonderful sound. Like music. Like a peal of bells.

‘Honestly,’ Arthur complained, ‘you really are quite the worst servant I have ever had. Or not had,’ he amended in the inspiration of the moment. ‘You really care nothing at all for my pleasures, do you?’

‘No, sire.’ Merlin’s eyes were sparkling with mirth, and his beautiful broad mouth was stretched into a delightful grin. He made a decent attempt at a bow and a bit of deference: ‘I trust that I give satisfaction in every other way, sire.’

‘Very little, Merlin. Precious little satisfaction indeed.’

‘I am very sorry to hear that, sire.’

Arthur gave a big theatrically long-suffering sigh in response. But that was probably enough for now. Arthur must keep the joke light and easy. Arthur mustn’t let Merlin twig that he actually meant every last yearning word of it… Arthur cleared his throat and looked about him. He couldn’t quite bear for Merlin to leave yet, so he said, ‘Look, I have to get up early tomorrow. Could you set out my clothes? The red tunic, the gold belt, the black breeches, the usual linens.’

‘Yes, sire.’

Merlin obediently moved about his rooms, as Arthur watched. There were moments, true, when Merlin seemed to carry the weight of the whole world on his scrawny shoulders. Strange, troubled moments when he would gaze on Arthur with some kind of conflicted guilt and worry. But for fifty-nine minutes of every sixty, Merlin seemed the happiest of men. Always willing to learn, to find enjoyment in everything he did. When Arthur thought back over the months, over recent weeks and days, it was obvious that Merlin was even finding enjoyment in learning to be somewhat competent about matters such as Arthur’s clothes, his armour, his weapons, his food. Things Merlin obviously hadn’t cared two straws about when he’d first been assigned as Arthur’s servant. But he’d made the most of the situation. He was open to the wonders of the world, even in its most mundane aspects, in ways that Arthur hadn’t been since he was three years old.

Innocence, that’s what it came down to. Merlin’s precious innocence. Arthur had been planning on guiding Merlin towards gaining some rather belated experience. On watching Merlin happily learning about the pleasures of the flesh, finding enjoyment in skin and muscle and sinew, discovering the wonders of –

‘Arthur!’ Merlin grinning at him with his own delightful brand of innocent mischief. ‘Whatever are you thinking about?’

‘Nothing.’ Arthur cleared his throat, feeling badly caught out. ‘Nothing at all. Are you done yet?’

‘Yes, sire, but if you –’

Arthur was never to know exactly what if he, for there was a pounding at the door that almost stopped his heart. ‘Enter!’ he managed to cry. It was late, and the castle was otherwise silent around them. What the hell could this be?

Uther’s old servant Paul opened the door, but barely stepped inside. ‘Sire, your father wishes a word with you.’

God, the last thing he needed right now… ‘At this time of night? Is something wrong?’

‘I don’t think so, sire, but he was very insistent.’

Arthur sighed. ‘All right. I’ll be there in a minute.’ He stood up, shrugged on his jacket as protection against the cold corridors. Paul tactfully withdrew, closing the door behind him, while Merlin just stood there lost in thought, gaping a bit. ‘Go on, then,’ Arthur said impatiently. ‘If you’re done, you can go.’

‘Don’t you want me to wait?’

‘No. There’s no need.’ Of course he wanted Merlin to wait. He wanted Merlin to never leave these rooms ever again. ‘I might be a while. It’s already late. You should get to bed.’ Arthur added with a wink, ‘And it must be your bed, I suppose.’

And on Merlin’s amused smile, Arthur walked out.

Uther’s rooms were lit only by the blaze in the fireplace and long slabs of cool moonlight falling through the windows. The king was pacing around in his linens and a red silk robe, bareheaded, a goblet in his hand. He took a long mouthful from it, but seemed sober. In fact, he looked utterly serious. Arthur sighed.

‘Ah, there you are,’ Uther said. ‘Come in. Shut the door behind you.’ Once Arthur had done so, Uther added, ‘And lock it, would you? I don’t want any interruptions.’

‘Yes, sire.’

Uther poured dark red wine into another goblet, and held it out to Arthur, who walked over and took it, sipped at it. It was very good wine, far better than that served at banquets, even at the head table. Arthur took another sip, even though it was really too late at night to be drinking – but the wine was smooth and heavy and potent, and had a will of its own that Arthur did not want to resist.

After a while, Uther announced, ‘I wanted to talk to you about Morgana.’

Ah. ‘Yes, sire?’

‘I need to ask… what your intentions are towards her.’

Arthur took momentary refuge in a swallow of wine. And then he played it safe by asking, ‘What should my intentions be, father?’

Impatience flashed behind Uther’s sombre expression, but he was not one to discourage obedience to the king’s will. ‘When her father entrusted her care to me, he knew what he was doing.’ Uther turned away into the direct firelight. ‘Either she would marry you and become the next queen of Camelot. Or she would become my companion, and the consort of the current king. Either way, she will be honoured throughout the kingdom.’

Arthur had understood as much, once he was grown – though it had never been spoken about, and certainly not stated so bluntly. He wondered what Morgana thought of it all. She had probably figured it out ages before Arthur twigged.

‘I want to know,’ Uther continued, ‘if you intend to marry her.’

And Arthur already knew the answer, even though he’d hoped not to have this conversation until he was thirty. That’s how he’d unconsciously arranged it for himself: when he was thirty, or when he became king, whichever came first. Arthur said, ‘I would happily marry Morgana, if she consents. She was always my closest friend, until – And she would make an excellent queen. But not yet, father. I am not yet ready for marriage.’

‘No.’ It sounded as if Uther were agreeing with him. And yet he still looked pensive. ‘No, not yet.’

‘Then, father –’ The words stuck in his throat.

Eventually Uther prompted, ‘Yes?’

‘If I am to ask her to marry me, father, I must ask something of you in turn.’

Uther looked thunderous. ‘Yes?’

‘I must insist that you do not ask her to be your companion in the meantime.’

Of course, the king never liked being given ultimatums. He enjoyed granting an unexpected and generous boon during negotiations, but oh he certainly did not like anything being insisted upon by anyone but the king himself.

Arthur dared to press his point. ‘I don’t doubt it would have happened already if the lady were both interested and willing.’

Uther was furious now. He stalked away, poured himself more wine. Strode to a window and gazed out across some small part of his kingdom. Arthur waited in silence. After a long while, Uther ground out, ‘What, then, am I to do?’

‘I beg your pardon, father?’

Uther walked back towards him. ‘What do you suppose I should do? I am not old yet, Arthur, whatever you may think. I have the same needs as any healthy man.’

Arthur turned his face to stone. He was hardly ignorant, but Uther had never spoken quite so directly on such matters. Had never betrayed such a deep-seated need.

‘And you now insist on denying me the most obvious solution.’

‘Father –’ He had to clear his throat. Uther loomed over him. ‘Father, I am sure there are any number of women in the castle or the village who would be happy to oblige you.’

‘You will learn, if you haven’t already, that such matters are best kept within the household. It prevents… complications.’

Arthur thought about that, figured out the second most obvious solution, and cried, ‘No! You can’t!’

‘No,’ Uther agreed with roughened voice. He was close now, and leaned closer still. Too intimate. ‘Don’t worry. I can be reasonable. Even I know I cannot touch Morgana’s maid.’

‘Father, you must promise me that you won’t.’

‘I won’t. Not now.’ Uther drew away again, turned to the fire. ‘I owe it to the memory of her father. And Morgana would never forgive me.’

Morgana would take Gwen and leave, Arthur thought.

They were silent for a time. Uther was perhaps contemplating the tawdry difficulties. Arthur was just reeling. Would he himself ever come to such a sad and shameful pass?

Finally Uther said, ‘Will you lend me your servant?’

‘What?’ Arthur stared uncomprehending at Uther’s back. He wasn’t sure he quite understood, but he was pretty damned certain he didn’t approve.

‘That boy of yours. Lend him to me.’

‘Merlin? No!’ Arthur protested. ‘No way. Ever.’

Uther’s head hung low as he propped his hands on the mantelpiece; he shot a glare at Arthur from round his shoulders. ‘You have a prior claim?’

‘No.’ Arthur swallowed his disgust. ‘What about Paul, then, if you’re into the alternatives?’

Uther sighed. ‘That hasn’t been an option… for some while now.’

‘Good God… What do you expect me to say, father?’

‘I expect you to lend me your servant, if you won’t allow me any other solution.’

‘No. No, I can’t. You don’t understand.’ Arthur glared at his father. Was there any point in trying to explain? Or would he be betraying things that were better left safely secret? ‘He wouldn’t… He wouldn’t understand. A village boy, brought up simply. He doesn’t think about these things like you… like we do.’ God, that one word we had cost him dear.

‘You’re protecting him.’ Uther sounded calm then, and reasonable. Almost sane. For the first time that night. ‘You’re protecting this boy.’

‘Yes, father.’

‘Don’t you think he’ll grow up sooner or later?’

‘Yes. But in his own time. In his own way. Father, I’m begging you.’

Uther had turned and was contemplating him. ‘Does he mean that much to you?’

‘Yes,’ Arthur replied. Thinking that he was merely putting Merlin in the same protected category as Morgana and Guinevere. These you shall not have, father.

‘Then, would you take his place?’

‘What?’

‘You give me no other option.’

‘I, uh –’

‘Arthur,’ his father whispered, coming closer again. Too close. Arthur stood his ground, mind emptied by shock. Uther ran the back of his fingers down Arthur’s cheek, trailed a fingertip across the point of his chin, cupped his face in a large hand. ‘Arthur. You have my strength, and your mother’s beauty. My wits, and her nobility.’

‘Father –’

‘You remind me so much of her. And I miss her – God, how I miss her, even after all these years.’ Uther closed his eyes and bent his head until he rested against Arthur, forehead to forehead. ‘I should never have lost her. It should never have happened. But now all I have is you.’

‘Sire, please.’ Arthur felt ill. Feverishly squeamish, as if he were a reluctant maiden. But he was also sickeningly aware that a thread of desire coiled in his gut. Was it the remnants of what he’d felt as he watched Merlin that evening? Reawakened by this… this horribly illicit demand. He did not want this. He could not permit such a thing.

‘Arthur,’ the king said calmly. ‘You must let me have my way.’

‘No.’

‘Arthur…’

He tried to make it authoritative. Uther had accepted his denial of Morgana and Gwen. Why wouldn’t that work now? ‘No, father.’

Uther pulled away, and spun around to hurl his goblet against the far wall. The goblet dented and fell with a dull clang; the wine arched through the air and then smacked against the stone floor. ‘Then send me your servant, damn you.’

‘No,’ he whispered. He tried to imagine Merlin’s innocence faced with Uther’s corruption. Now; this very night, in that bed, in this firelight. He tried to imagine how Merlin would look in the morning, whether he would still smile delightedly as he greeted Arthur, whether he could still help Arthur bathe as if they were no more aware than children, whether Merlin would ever seem quite whole again. All these things may come to Merlin in time. But not yet. And not like this. Merlin’s experience, whatever it would be, must be gained with love. Not with greed and lust, shame and confusion. And so Arthur must take his place. He sighed.

Uther must have read this conclusion, this surrender on Arthur’s face. He stood for a moment, watching his son. And then he sat in the chair by the fireside. The king looking supremely satisfied with himself. He leant back, rested his head, and gestured towards Arthur. ‘Undress. I wish to see you naked.’

He was sitting on his father’s knee, as he used to as a child. Except that he was naked, and Uther’s hands were exploring places they shouldn’t even have touched. Arthur’s arms were around Uther’s shoulders, clinging on, just as he used to. He’d buried his face against Uther’s neck, as he used to – only this time it was so he needn’t watch, and so he couldn’t be kissed. Not a kiss on the mouth, anyway. But perhaps even the king didn’t want that. Uther’s head was bent over Arthur’s chest, grazing, biting, nibbling, gnawing.

Arthur tried to think of something else. Someone else. There had been a knight, Sir Bruin, whom Arthur had fancied one long summer years ago; a large fellow, and strong. Arthur had never let the attraction come to anything, even though he was sure it was halfway mutual – for it must have involved something like this: a complete surrender of his dignity; being cradled and held and fondled; being possessed. Giving himself over to another. A prince could not afford such a relationship in any context whatsoever. A prince must remain in charge. Except perhaps when he was alone with a king.

Arthur groaned a little, half in despair, and tried to escape to imaginings of Bruin cradling him. In some alternate kingdom where dignity and rank meant nothing. He would have let Bruin kiss him… For a moment it was almost sweet. Arthur groaned again.

Uther’s hands stopped. ‘Stand up,’ the king ordered.

So Arthur stood there, between the V of the king’s thighs, with the king’s hands hard on his hips, as the king went down on him. If Arthur had been able to deny the coiled thread of need before, he could no longer do so. The thread thickened, and wound about in his gut, and became a snake. It hissed within him, hungry.

Damn, but Uther was good at this, and Arthur could hardly help his body reacting.

Arthur had been planning on doing things very like this to Merlin. Though with his consent, of course. That was until he had gone to Ealdor, and spied the yearning love on the face of Merlin’s friend Will. Witnessed Merlin’s utter obliviousness in response. Not that Merlin didn’t love Will, but he hadn’t a clue as to how Will’s love differed from his own. Arthur had realised, then, he must leave well enough alone. Merlin –

Uther dragged him back to the present. His mouth busy on Arthur’s cock; his hands insisting on Arthur widening his stance; a finger suddenly invading him with no care. God – if it had been anyone else – Arthur was surprised to find he would have loved that. He let his head fall back, grasped his father’s shoulders for balance, tried not to groan again. Maybe he should just enjoy it while he could. He wouldn’t let anyone else do this to him, after all. He couldn’t. Maybe not even Merlin. God, Merlin

Was that the answer? Arthur was sure Merlin would be miserable now, if this assault had been his first time, if Arthur hadn’t taken his place. Yet perhaps he could take a leaf from Merlin’s book. Merlin’s daily happiness was due in part to the fact he let himself simply enjoy things, learn from things, even when he’d assumed he’d hate them. And Merlin remained whole and undeniably himself no matter what happened to him. Perhaps Arthur could just enjoy this act for what it was, and take no harm from it. God, but if only he were with Merlin instead, Merlin’s mouth around him, Merlin inside him…

Some kind of pathetic whimper escaped him, and suddenly Uther withdrew. Arthur swayed uncertainly.

A heartbeat passed. For a moment, Arthur dared to hope…

‘Lie down,’ the king ordered. ‘There, on the rug.’

But it wasn’t over yet. Arthur lay himself before the fire, the heat from the flames down his front, and then Uther’s damp warmth down his back. Uther unfastened his robe, rearranged his linens just enough to release himself. And then he was pressing inside Arthur, filling him. Hard and hot and bulky.

Arthur growled in pain, and tried to relax. Just go with it, he told himself. Just accept it now, and soon he’ll be done.

‘So beautiful,’ Uther murmured, face pressed against Arthur’s hair. ‘So beautiful.’ Then he cried out, and slammed hard into Arthur, and trembled taut as he came.

The king had fallen fast asleep with his arms wound tight around Arthur, and one leg thrown over Arthur’s, pinning him down. Arthur himself must have passed out for a while. When he woke, the fire was nothing more than glowing embers.

When Uther woke, he must take his pleasure again. Arthur was hurting, though, so he insisted that Uther fuck his pressed-together thighs instead. Uther pushed him over so he was facedown on the rug, and lay close over him. Crushing him. Not gentle, oh not gentle at all.

And then when he was done, Uther wanted his bed for his old bones. Arthur took the opportunity to mumble a goodnight; Uther didn’t protest, but lifted a weary hand to farewell him, to dismiss him. Arthur dragged on his clothes, and stumbled back to his own rooms.

A candle had been left lit for him. Merlin, bless him. Arthur started clumsily undressing again, wishing uselessly for a hot bath. He would have to demand one in the morning instead. For now, the only comfort available was bed.

Merlin! As he drew near his bed, Arthur spied a curled shadow against the covering, and realised that his man servant had waited for him after all. He walked closer, treading carefully so as not to wake the boy. Not that there was much chance of that – Merlin was dead to the world, his mouth gaping wide and his knees drawn up yet his arms sprawled akimbo. Arthur smiled, and watched him for a while. He was drooling a little, this endearingly idiotic servant of his. Merlin was drooling on Arthur’s pillow.

How could this gawky young man with his flapping ears and his gangly limbs have so entranced them all? Gwen had a major crush on him; Morgana trusted him far beyond anyone but Gwen; Gaius had awoken to devoted surrogate fatherhood after years of kindly yet distracted care of the household. Uther wanted him. And Arthur was… He faced the whole truth for the first time. Arthur was half in love with him. What had Merlin done – who or what was he – to inspire such reactions?

Arthur wondered if he could crawl onto his bed, and hold the man. Just hold him, nothing else. His cock throbbed sullenly – for after all that stimulation, despite his decision to take what pleasure he could from the encounter, Arthur hadn’t come once. Nevertheless, what he wanted most right now was comfort. Surely he was allowed a bit of comfort. Merlin had stayed, Merlin had laid himself down on Arthur’s bed, so could he possibly object to a night–long cuddle…? It would be a perfectly reasonable request from his lord and master.

In fact, maybe he was underestimating Merlin. Maybe Merlin would be uncomplicatedly happy to learn about sex from Arthur. They were friends, after all. Arthur pictured that delighted, intrigued smile broadening Merlin’s hauntingly beautiful face, his eyes glowing warm as Arthur reached for him, touched him…

Arthur sighed. Who was he trying to kid? They were friends, yes, but they were master and servant before that, and any servant – even Merlin – must assume that the master held all the power in the relationship. If Arthur had anything at all to hope for, it must be that Merlin himself would finally twig, and start something himself. It must come from Merlin, and Merlin must explicitly consent. There was no other way.

But that could not be. Not yet. Not for a long time yet, given the boy’s current state of innocence. Arthur must continue to leave well enough alone.

He reached for Merlin’s shoulder, and gently shook it. ‘Merlin,’ he said. ‘Merlin, wake up.’

A blink, a snuffle, and then consciousness slowly returned. Merlin pushed himself up onto an elbow. ‘Anything wrong?’ He glanced at the window to see the early summer dawn starting to lighten the sky. ‘You’ve been hours.’

‘No, everything’s fine.’ The lie came easy. ‘You didn’t have to wait.’

‘I wanted to. Figured something wasn’t good.’

‘Nah. Come on, get up. You go sleep in your own bed.’

‘All right.’ Merlin yawned and stretched, and dragged himself off the bed and upright.

Arthur just stood there watching him, smiling a little. I am half in love with you, Merlin. More than half. You sweet innocent man. You great loveable dolt.

‘What’s wrong?’

‘What? Nothing.’

‘You’re just standing there. D’you need help with something?’

‘No.’ Truth be told, he didn’t want to move in case he betrayed the fact he was hurt. The fact he was still heavily aroused. ‘Look, just go away, would you?’

Merlin gave him a wide lopsided grin. ‘All right.’

‘One thing,’ Arthur said just before Merlin got to the door.

‘Yes, sire?’

‘I don’t need to be up early tomorrow, after all. I want to sleep late. When you get up – just whenever you get up – come and get a bath ready, would you? A really good hot bath.’

‘Yes, sire. Sleep well!’ And he was gone.

Arthur crawled into his bed, and curled up with his dirty linens, tainted heart, blood-thickened cock, corruption and all. And he slept sound, as if his conscience weren’t plaguing him, as if his love weren’t breaking him, as if his father weren’t twisting him awry. He slept well, because Merlin had wished it so.

Posted in: Merlin, Slash fic

Subscribe to these comments

4 responses to “Arthur: 01 Innocence”

  1. avatar Laura says:

    OMG freaking wrong and brilliant!

  2. avatar beizanten says:

    Poor Arthur. he is willing to go through that for Merlin. Uther is so evil doing that to his own son. But I can see he lusting after arthur since he look like his mother, Ingraine. Wish Merlin wouldn’t be so innocent for long. Oh, who am I kidding. That guy is so innocent he can lure a unicorn

    • avatar Harlequin says:

      beizanten – Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you felt so for Arthur, and understood him wanting to protect Merlin. You may have seen there are sequels to this fic, in which Merlin is (or becomes, depending on your pov) rather less innocent. :-) Thank you again! ♥

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *