Harlequin's Slash Fic

Good Enough

Title: Good Enough
Author: Harlequin
Universe: Merlin
Characters featured: Gwaine/Leon
Category, Word count: Short story; 3100 words
Rating: R
Summary: It’s such a lovely day that Gwaine insists Leon accompany him on a quest. For once, Leon lets himself be persuaded.
Notes: Set somewhere in between the third and fourth seasons. A humble offering for gealach_ros.

 

Good Enough

He didn’t even know what he was doing there, really. Leon let out a breath that wasn’t quite a sigh, and slumped forward a little to rest his elbows on the table. It was late morning, and quiet, and he could just make out if he listened carefully enough – or was only it his guilty imagination? – the bright clash and grunting shouts of the knights at their regular training session. That’s where Leon should be, of course. He should be there at Arthur’s right hand.

Instead he was here in the Knights’ hall, almost alone and completely inactive. He was just sitting there, doing nothing, except maybe occasionally almost letting out a sigh. He hadn’t even known he was capable of doing nothing. Yet here he was, sitting there, not quite sighing – and watching while one of the scribes stood balanced at the top of a ladder while painting Lancelot’s name on the ‘Knight of Ye Month’ board.

Leon sighed. He’d been expecting this, of course. Ever since Lancelot had returned to Camelot, Leon had known he’d be effortlessly outshone. He’d had a good run, and he should be grateful. ‘Sir Leon’ was listed on that board seventeen times consecutively, and another five or six times in the year before that. Leon counted them again to be sure. Six, yes, and seventeen made twenty-three. And now it was ‘Sir Lancelot’ and probably would be forevermore.

It wasn’t even that Lancelot could always prevail over Leon when they were training, or that Lancelot had smote more of Camelot’s enemies – and he hadn’t tried to help Leon with all the mundane day-to-day organising of the knights, let alone taken over. It wasn’t even about Lancelot being a particular friend of Arthur’s, and of Merlin’s, or that he was smitten by Gwen to boot. Even Leon couldn’t blame it all on favouritism, or anything like that.

No, it was that Lancelot was possessed of a certain indefinable something … a je ne sais quoi … that Leon couldn’t emulate. It wasn’t even possible to strive for such a thing. In his better moments, Leon let it lift him. But right now he seemed sunk.

As if to reinforce that thought, Gwaine chose that moment to wander in. “Hey,” Gwaine said in amiable greeting. He took a slight detour to snag an apple from the generous supplies always available to the knights, and then crossed the hall to finally drop onto the bench beside Leon. Everything Gwaine did – or everything he wanted to do, more accurately – he did with verve. The bench was still vibrating beneath Leon’s rear when Gwaine bit into the apple, and the crunch sounded sharp and juicy …

“Shouldn’t you be at training?” Leon asked rather pointedly.

“Took the words right out of my mouth,” Gwaine cheerfully replied.

“No, I’m –” But Leon stopped himself. He was used to having reasons. He wouldn’t make excuses.

“It’s too nice a day,” Gwaine supplied, gesturing out towards the pour of spring sunshine and the waft of soft air. He crunched another bite of apple, and then spoke with his mouth full: “Life’s too short.”

Leon huffed at this truth. He certainly wasn’t a young man any more. He’d have to work harder than ever if he wanted to maintain his new position as the second-best Knight of Camelot.

“What are you up to, anyway?” Gwaine asked. “Not doing your paperwork on a day like today, are you?”

“No,” Leon replied with a wry smile as if even he could see how ridiculous he was.

Gwaine was mildly curious, it was true – and given that the table in front of Leon wasn’t covered in accounts and reports and letters, Gwaine’s gaze wandered further afield, and maybe finally alighted on the half-finished name ‘Sir Lancelot’.

Leon cleared his throat. He didn’t like being teased, but some subjects were even less bearable than others. “No, I’m not doing my paperwork, but only because … that’s all up to date now.”

“Good,” said Gwaine – and he sat up taller, and slapped a decisive hand on his own thigh. “Come on, then. We should head out for the afternoon.”

Leon glanced at him askance. “On patrol?” he asked in doubting tones.

Gwaine shifted his shoulders as if letting that slide past him. “Not exactly …”

“I can hardly just –”

“– have a few well-earned hours off?”

“No.” Ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. Leon did indeed see that.

“I’m guessing you wouldn’t come for a picnic?”

“Good grief, no.”

“Then,” said Gwaine, “you’d better join me on a quest.”

“A quest?” Leon echoed. And he watched as Gwaine got up, and began stowing apples, a hunk of cheese, and a slab of cake in a cloth.

“A secret quest,” Gwaine asserted, grabbing up a stoppered jug of wine. “Come on!”

Leon found himself standing reluctantly – apparently ready to be fooled. “But –”

Gwaine tilted his head towards the training grounds as if listening. And perhaps the others were indeed gathering for the midday meal. “Hurry up. Once that lot descend on us, there’ll be no getting away.”

Leon was taking steps in the direction of Gwaine – who was heading towards the far door. “No, but Arthur will –”

“– be well taken care of,” Gwaine tartly supplied, with the merest hint of a glance towards Lancelot’s name painted shining and new.

“All right,” Leon said at last, much to his own surprise.

Within half an hour they’d saddled their horses Arion and Greyfell, and ridden out through the lower town as if on the most serious and urgent of business. Once they were out of sight of the castle walls, however, Gwaine slowed their pace down to a walk.

They let their horses amble along the road, while Gwaine let his head fall back and his eyes close, his face turning towards the sun’s beneficence. Leon watched, amused and maybe a touch envious of Gwaine’s ability to utterly relax. The man held Greyfell’s reins loosely in one hand, and his thighs kept a gentle tension, but Gwaine had otherwise ceded control. He sat his seat comfortably, letting his hips roll with Greyfell’s gait, and the roll swayed through him, easing his shoulders, and eventually Gwaine tilted his head around as if letting go of the last of any stresses from his bones.

Then he happened to look at Leon, and caught Leon staring – and Gwaine grinned his cheekiest happy smile, and winked at him.

Leon cleared his throat, though he found his mouth quirking into a rueful smile, and he tried to deflect any remarks. “So, where are we going?” Leon asked a bit brusquely. “What’s this quest?”

“Oh … There’s a river about a league from here –”

“I am aware of it.”

“– and I found this amazing place where a branch of the river creates this little island, and it’s all oaks and honeysuckle and sunlight.”

“So, this really is just a picnic,” Leon said in disappointed tones, lifting the reins in his hands as if about to turn around and go back.

“Oh, no! No … It’s a quest.” Gwaine had sounded almost panicked there for a moment.

Leon smiled to himself, and decided to let this afternoon unfold the way it probably should. It was time he relearned how to take a few hours away from his duties, after all. He’d return all the fresher for it, he was sure.

“It’s a quest,” Gwaine repeated almost to himself, before finally continuing the tale. “I was asking people about the island, you see, and about why no one ever seemed to go there. And they said … they said there was a creature living there.”

“A water sprite?”

“No. A creature in the form of a man.”

Leon fielded Gwaine’s glance with what he hoped was a shrewd look. “You’re just making this up,” he accused.

“I’m not, I swear it.”

Leon scoffed, and didn’t ask him to swear on anything meaningful. “Right … So, what does he do, then, this creature?”

“Oh … I don’t think he does any harm. But people keep their distance, you know? Just wary of him, I suppose. Or overawed, or something. I hear … I hear he’s … quite fanciable.”

“I see …” It was all utter tosh, of course, but Leon could enjoy a picnic, surely he could, even if it was with Camelot’s rogue Knight. “What do you propose doing about him, then?” Leon asked.

“Just thought I’d check him out, that’s all.”

“Right. We should make sure he knows that if he does any harm, he’s answerable to the King.”

“Absolutely. Yes. Not that I think he would do any harm,” Gwaine added, half doubtful and half certain.

“But just in case,” said Leon.

“Oh aye, just in case,” Gwaine agreed.

The place really was idyllic, Gwaine had been right about that. There was a steep slope which Arion and Greyfell took surefooted, and then a stretch of greensward leading down to the riverbank. Leon and Gwaine unsaddled Arion and Greyfell and left them free to munch on the grass and to drink from the river. Gwaine set out the food he’d purloined on the cloth right by the water’s edge, and then took his boots off before he sat down so he could dangle his bare feet in the river. Leon stood there watching the clear water glinting in the sunlight, with the sand and colourful pebbles below, and Gwaine’s pale feet shifting in the current like elegant fish.

“Oh, that’s sweet,” said Gwaine with a low chuckle. He flashed a grin up at Leon. “Come on, man, join me.”

“I suspect you’re leading me astray,” Leon said in unhappy tones. Nevertheless he was already taking his boots off, and moments later he was sitting on the other side of the cloth from Gwaine, and his feet were lolling in the delightfully cool water.

“Good, isn’t it?”

Leon smiled at the man, and drew in a deep breath of honeysuckle-scented air. “Yes, it’s good.”

In response to which Gwaine – who seemed forever casual to Leon – seemed to finally truly relax. And that felt like the loveliest miracle of all.

They ate, and then they lazed there in the dappled sunlight, while their horses cropped the grass contentedly. Their conversation occasionally ran like rapids, but more often it was as smooth as a lake.

Finally, though, Gwaine had apparently had enough of the peace and quiet. He scrambled up to stand on the grass, and then before Leon had even drawn breath Gwaine shucked off his shirt.

“What are you doing?” Leon asked, hardly even bothering to stir.

“Heading over to the island,” was the reply. “You coming?”

Leon frowned up at the man as Gwaine began untying his britches. “I meant, what are you doing with your clothes?”

“Taking them off,” Gwaine announced with a complacent smile.

“Why?” Leon propped himself up on his elbows to look at the island, which was barely ten feet away – and the spill of river that curved between them and the island hardly looked very deep or swift. “It’s not as if we need to swim. It’ll be more like paddling.”

“But what if we fall over? Not you, maybe, but me. I’m such a clumsy git. And there’s no way I want to ride back to Camelot in wet britches. It chafes in places I’d rather were treated gentle.”

By now Gwaine was pushing his britches down his thighs. He wasn’t wearing anything underneath. Leon turned his gaze elsewhere – but made the mistake of looking at the enticingly refreshing river.

“Come on,” Gwaine begged. “It’s too gorgeous a day. Let’s enjoy it, eh?”

Leon pursed his lips and shook his head – and tried to shake off the feeling of being too warm and too uncomfortably overdressed even though he was only in his britches and linens and two tunics. He cleared his throat. And belatedly thought of another argument. “You’re heading over there to check on a creature, possibly magical – with no armour, no protection, no sword?”

Gwaine chuckled rather filthily. “Oh, I’ve got all the weapon I’ll need right here.”

And Leon made the mistake of looking up at Gwaine standing there as gorgeous as the day, strong and supple, and confident in all the right ways. A dark dash of hair nestled where his thighs met his hips, and from it hung attributes of which any man would be proud.

Leon knew he wouldn’t make half such a good showing, but the freedom of it beckoned, the imagined feel of air fresh against his skin, against all of his skin – and before Leon knew it he was standing, and he was discarding his clothes as eagerly as any man ever had.

Moments later they were wading out into the river, and once the water came up past their knees Gwaine turned and beckoned Leon upstream.

“But, the island,” Leon protested, having assumed they’d simply cross, and find a way in through the border of trees and tangle of honeysuckle.

“We need to come at it from the other side,” said Gwaine.

Leon cast him a suspicious look, but followed readily enough. Soon they were into the river proper, and it was much deeper and the current was strong – so they submerged, and there was a moment of confusion and fear and exhilaration before they each found themselves hauling the other out onto a grassy bank.

They lay back on the long grass as if cast there by the river gods. Leon was panting, and he could hear Gwaine’s heightened breathing, too. He was so very conscious of Gwaine lying there naked beside him, and although Leon had his eyes closed he could still sense when Gwaine shifted up onto an elbow.

“Leon, look …” came Gwaine’s hushed voice, “darlin’, look … there’s the creature …” in tones that expressed nothing but wonder and appreciation, “and he really is beautiful after all …”

Leon laughed, knowing what he would see when he opened his eyes – and he did so, and of course there was Gwaine leaning towards him, gazing at him with a kind of reverence, focussing on him as if there was nothing more gorgeous than Leon on this amazing day. Leon laughed again, so very happily. And then he pushed up far enough to kiss the man.

They tussled there in the sunlight, wrestling with each other as if there was no getting enough of the other’s skin against his own, as if there could never be enough kisses, as if the hunger of their hands would never end. But it would end, of course, and so very soon … Leon decided he’d let it happen, he’d let it flow, he wouldn’t struggle to make the pleasure last – and already he could feel the delicious tension coiling within him. Gwaine must have sensed it, too, because he pushed Leon over onto his back so Gwaine could sit up straddling Leon’s hips, and wrap both of them up in his hands. Leon groaned, and spread his own hands to grip tight around Gwaine’s strong thighs. Gwaine’s head fell back and his eyes closed – just as he’d done when swaying to Greyfell’s easy gait – and his hips rolled in gorgeous rhythm as he thrust himself against Leon. He was such a sight, such a feast for Leon’s eyes and ears and skin. But it wasn’t enough.

“No,” Leon said –

– and Gwaine’s eyes flew open. “What?” he asked with easy concern. “Leon darlin’, what?”

“Come down here,” Leon huskily insisted. And he reached one arm to snare Gwaine, and to wrap around his shoulders once Gwaine leaned forward – and Gwaine still had one hand wrapped around them both, and Leon had a hand firmly gripping Gwaine’s hip – and their mouths met again in a glorious kiss. At last the pleasure burst through them and through them and out, and the wonderful day became more perfect still.

Gwaine collapsed onto the grass beside Leon, and they lay there together, sprawled in a tangle of limbs, while they got their breath back and the pleasure slowly ebbed away.

After a while Gwaine chuckled, and turned his head to grin at Leon, and he said, “Am I finally good enough for you, then?”

“No, I’m finally bad enough for you,” Leon replied with a rueful laugh. At which Gwaine laughed, too, and nothing changed. Gwaine didn’t flinch away or even look hurt, but there was a hint of something below the surface, a resignation to always being not quite wanted, too easily abandoned. All his life, Leon reflected, Gwaine had been used to people walking away. “Well,” Leon amended, wanting to turn it into a compliment, “I hope I’m naughty enough for you. If they had a board up in the Knights’ hall for ‘Ladies’ Man of Ye Month’, I should think your name would be there every single month, even if you were in Camelot for but a day.”

“Huh,” said Gwaine, though he looked pleased – and he countered, “’Lover of Ye Month’. It’s really not just the ladies. Not for me.”

Leon cast him a glance, before closing his eyes and turning his face to the sun again. “And there I’d been thinking you were flirting with me just to annoy me.”

Gwaine huffed a laugh. “That wasn’t the only reason.”

When a shadow fell across Leon, he looked up to see Gwaine leaning over him. Gwaine’s hair was still wet enough from their dip in the river to lie close against his head. It made Gwaine look oddly vulnerable.

Though Gwaine was confidently insisting, “You’d better give me a chance to earn my place on that board for this month. I was too desperate for you the first time. I was all urgency and no finesse.”

Leon thought about saying, That counts, which was the truth. But instead he lifted a hand to caress Gwaine’s warm shoulder and wistfully asked, “Are you not desperate for me now?”

“Leon darlin’, you have no idea.”

“It might take me a long while to get past the urgency …”

Gwaine’s lips quirked happily, though there was still a hint of doubt in his eyes.

Leon wanted to watch that doubt die, no matter how long it took. “And then I’ll probably want to enjoy the finesse for a longer while still …”

“Oh well,” said Gwaine, “then we’d better get started, hadn’t we?”

“Life’s so short,” Leon agreed, pushing up onto his elbows.

“Life’s so good,” Gwaine countered.

“True.” And Leon leaned into the space between them, and dispelled it with a kiss.

Posted in: Merlin, Slash fic

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