Word count: 7,430
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to voldything for her extremely helpful beta, and to hils for looking it over and telling me where I was being too American. (What? I'm not used to writing in British fandoms okay!)
Feedback: Would pleasure me.
No Magic Necessary, by Kate
Running late as usual, Merlin jogs through the hall towards Arthur's room. It's been dark for hours and Arthur had specifically requested he deliver his mended robe before nightfall, so Merlin's plan is to slip inside unnoticed, leave the robe, and then come up with a brilliant excuse for his lateness in the morning. Fortunately the door doesn't creak when Merlin opens it, but unfortunately there is light coming from a solitary candle in the corner of the room, which means Arthur must still be awake.
Merlin tiptoes inside nonetheless, but is immediately confronted by the sight of Arthur sitting up in bed, in his nightshirt, blankets pulled up over his lap, watching Merlin with a very strange expression on his face. Why does Merlin have the worst luck in the entire world?
"Sorry I'm late," he winces, holding out the robe for inspection. "Shall I?" He points his thumb towards Arthur's dressing room. "I'll just. Yeah. I'll just put this in there." Best not to give Arthur the opportunity to scold him - being late is one thing; interrupting Arthur's sleep is quite another. He'll leave the robe and dash out of there, face a dressing down in the morning when he's not feeling quite so drained.
He's about to open the door and leave, shouting out "Goodnight!" over his shoulder before Arthur has even said a word to him, but luck is not on his side.
"Wait," Arthur barks. "Come here."
Oh great. He's going to get a bollocking right now, even though it's midnight and they're obviously both too tired for it, and the weird look in Arthur's eyes is starting to make him nervous.
Merlin reluctantly walks over to the side of the bed. "Yes, Sire?" he mutters meekly.
"I'm glad you're here, Merlin," Arthur says, bizarrely. "There's something I'd -- like you to do for me."
"Anything," Merlin replies with a keen nod.
"You might not like it."
"That's okay. I don't like most of what you ask me to do."
"Right." Arthur nods, uncharacteristically missing Merlin's jibe. He pulls the covers off his lap and turns his head away. "I'd like you to pleasure me."
It's unclear what he means so Merlin just waits and watches. He looks from Arthur's face to Arthur's lap and back again, but Arthur gives him no help in deciphering the request. "Uh..." he says. "Okay?"
Arthur glances at him irritably then turns his head away again, and if Merlin didn't know any better he'd swear that Arthur is embarrassed.
"How would you like me to ... pleasure you?" Merlin asks slowly, still deeply confused.
"God, you're so--" Arthur snaps through gritted teeth. "Use your hand." He unties his trousers, pushes them down and that's when Merlin cottons on to what's being asked of him.
"Oh," he says simply.
Oh dear. He must have walked in on Arthur while he was...
"Just do it as you might do to yourself," Arthur explains, sounding a little more relaxed, probably because he knows he's shocked Merlin into speechlessness and that pleases him.
Merlin stares at Arthur's cock, swollen up against his belly. "And why can't you do it yourself?" he enquires nervously.
"Are you questioning my authority, Merlin?"
"Yes I am."
"Well stop it," Arthur orders, turning away yet again. "Kneel on the floor next to the bed and do as you're told."
Merlin drops to his knees, yelping as he hits the cold, hard floor. "Ouch," he grumbles, hoping Arthur will take pity on him and change his mind about this. Surely this isn't something other servants have to endure. He narrows his eyes at the stiff rod in front of him and reaches out, curling his fingers around it, surprised at its warmth and the familiar (yet unfamiliar) feel of it.
Right, so. This won't be too difficult. After all, he's done it before to himself, and successfully to boot. He does it quite regularly in fact - perhaps two or three (or four or five) times a week, and it's never gone wrong, per se. The result is the same every time, and presumably Arthur is after that result himself, so all Merlin has to do, just as Arthur instructed, is do to him what Merlin does to himself. Easy.
"Merlin!" Arthur hollers. "What are you doing? For God's sake, slow down." Merlin stills his hand, and looks up at Arthur's face with wide, guilty eyes. Arthur looks extremely annoyed. "It's not a race," he says, as if Merlin is a complete idiot.
"Sorry," Merlin says. "You told me to do it like I--" he gulps. Maybe he should try being gentler with himself next time, see what it's like. He begins to move his hand again, this time at a much more leisurely pace.
Arthur leans back into his pillows and shuts his eyes. "That's better," he says, so Merlin continues to stroke him at exactly that pace and considers his situation. Is this going to become a regular part of his duties? And if so, how often will Arthur require it? Every night? Once a week? The worst thing about it is that this is something Merlin can't do using magic, because it's just that bit too risky. Sure, Arthur has his eyes closed now, but he could open them at any moment to make sure Merlin's doing his job properly and without cheating.
It's not all bad though, Merlin supposes. Arthur's not very good at complimenting Merlin, or telling him when he's done a good job, but the little grunts and sighs he occasionally makes are a clear indication that Merlin's not a complete failure.
"You can speed up a little bit now," Arthur whispers, his eyes still shut. Who is he thinking about? Morgana? Gwen? Someone else? "Not that much! Good God, Merlin. Here." He reaches down and wraps his hand around Merlin's, holding it still, then slowly speeding it up until they're going the correct speed. But even when Merlin understands what he's supposed to do, Arthur doesn't take his hand away, helping Merlin get him to where he wants to go.
Arthur climaxes with a strangled groan, splashing his milk all over his belly and nightshirt, and his breathing is loud, almost hoarse, until it eventually quiets down to a normal level. "Look at the mess you made," he grumbles, melting limp into his mattress and closing his eyes.
"That's not my mess," Merlin says indignantly, standing up off his aching knees with a relieved sigh. He hobbles over to the night-stand and picks up a handkerchief, then returns to the bed to mop up.
"Thanks," Arthur murmurs dozily, rolling away from Merlin. "See you in the morning."
Too peeved to respond, Merlin storms out of the room and back to his quarters. Gaius is fast asleep, thank Heaven, so Merlin changes quickly into his nightclothes and pulls the covers up beneath his chin. It's not so much that he minded doing what he just did -- it wasn't difficult and Arthur clearly benefited -- it's that Merlin feels frustrated. How is it fair that Arthur got to feel so wonderful when all Merlin got was sore knees? The next time Merlin will at least demand a cushion to kneel on, although truthfully, he's hoping there won't be a next time. Because while being a servant means feeling fairly degraded on the best of days, this feels like a whole new level of degradation, and Merlin isn't sure how he's going to face Arthur in the few hours he has before the new day begins.
He needs to get some sleep but with the way he's feeling it's not looking likely. The only answer is for him to reach his own climax -- that always does the trick when he's feeling too wound up to fall asleep. It feels comforting touching himself after the foreign feel of Arthur's cock in his hand, and okay, he'll stop thinking about Arthur's cock right now. He clears his mind and pumps himself quickly, coming into his handkerchief within a few seconds.
Arthur acts no differently whatsoever during the day -- criticising everything Merlin does, insulting his intelligence, chatting to him almost as if they're friends but never once showing an interest in Merlin's life. The usual. And Merlin waits. All day he waits for an invitation to visit Arthur in his chambers after dark, and he's forced to spend the day reining in his terror at the prospect. He'd rather be pelted with tomatoes than do that again, quite frankly, but by the time night falls no invitation has been proffered and Merlin can't help but feel offended.
Was he really that terrible at it? Arthur had complained a fair bit, Merlin supposes, feeling queasy with embarrassment, but he'd gotten the job done! Hadn't he?
He retires to bed feeling self conscious and humiliated, and entirely unable to get to sleep despite only catching a few hours the previous night. Perhaps now would be a good time to practise his technique, so that if there is a next time he won't mess it up so badly.
Stripping his trousers off quickly and pushing them down to the foot of the bed with his feet, he takes his already hard cock in hand, and forces himself to be still and patient. He holds himself without moving his hand, lets himself adjust to the sensual comfort of such simple non-action, then finds his mind wandering into territory that some might consider treasonous. How does his cock compare to Arthur's? Merlin's feels a little thinner in his hand than Arthur's did, but when he peeks under the covers and has a good look it's also unquestionably longer. Oh dear, is he allowed to think such things?
Merlin chuckles at himself -- of course he can think it. Thoughts can't be illegal, unless you use them to move objects. He lets his head fall back onto his pillow and continues to think about size discrepancies.
Last night he went too fast and that wasn't what Arthur wanted, although Merlin isn't sure why yet. It's not going to be easy but he can go slow if he has to, and clearly he has to. Within a minute he's desperate to speed up, desperate to have an orgasm, but he can't fail at this because it's a ridiculous thing to fail at, so he just takes his hands off himself completely and places them both flat on the bed either side of his hips, breathing deeply and attempting to calm down. He remembers the look on Arthur's face -- exasperated and unsurprised -- and it makes Merlin more determined than ever, so he blinks hard and thinks about the rest of Arthur's body instead: the triangle of pale gold skin where his nightshirt splayed open at the neck; his broad shoulders, tense underneath the flimsy white material; his narrow hips, muscular buttocks, his thick cock and the way it felt hot and rigid in Merlin's clumsy hand.
Okay, so maybe Arthur likes to be touched. Maybe Arthur doesn't just want to have an orgasm. Maybe he enjoys the build up to the orgasm as well.
That actually makes sense, Merlin thinks, starting again. This time he imagines that he's touching Arthur's cock instead of his own, and every time he speeds up too much and gets too close, he makes himself slow down, or even stop completely. He makes it last. In fact, he doesn't let himself come for a good hour, after which he spends a minute or so feeling proud of himself before falling into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Arthur doesn't ask Merlin to visit him in his room for another week or so.
After a nasty argument with Uther that Merlin is witness to, Arthur storms around like a bear with a thorn in his paw, yelling at most everyone who crosses his path. He calls Merlin an idiot for no good reason, but then he seems to have second thoughts. Or maybe he just comes up with a far better way to punish Merlin for his alleged incompetence.
"Come to my quarters at ten," he murmurs coldly into Merlin's ear, then he stalks off, probably pleased with himself, probably assuming he'd completely ruined Merlin's day or something.
But Merlin is ready for this. He's been practising every night for the past week and he's gotten pretty good at it if he does say so himself. Yes, it's nerve-racking, and yes he would still rather spend time with himself in his own bed than give that prat even a moment's pleasure, but a job's a job.
Arthur's sitting up in bed waiting for Merlin and he pushes the covers off himself as soon as the door is shut.
"About time," Arthur snaps, leaning back against his mountain of lily white pillows and closing his eyes. Legs slightly splayed, he's wearing only a nightshirt this time, and it's bunched up under his ribcage, revealing his flat, masculine stomach with its trail of light brown hair travelling from his navel to his groin. His cock, currently completely soft, is framed by a rather thick forest of pubic hair.
Arthur's complete lack of arousal alarms Merlin. He has not practised starting from nothing for goodness sake, because just the anticipation of pleasure was always enough to make Merlin stiff.
But not Arthur, no. Apparently Arthur isn't even in the mood for Merlin to service him, and apparently anticipating Merlin's visit hasn't excited him even a little bit. Which, when Merlin thinks about it for a few seconds, may be the most insulting thing that's ever happened to him.
"Can I please have a cushion to kneel on?" Merlin asks, not bothering to keep the insolence out of his tone.
Arthur's eyes fly open and he looks at Merlin in surprise. "Yes, fine. Take the one from the chair over there," he says, gesturing vaguely. "But I swear, Merlin, if you keep me waiting any longer I'll send you to the stocks tomorrow."
Cushion in place on the floor next to the bed, Merlin shuffles around a bit until he feels something approaching comfortable, although his eyes keep being drawn to Arthur's flaccid penis, a deflating sight if ever there was one. With a silent sigh, he reaches over and picks it up. It seems so much smaller today, Merlin thinks meanly. Smaller and softer and sadder and stupider and--
Oh. Wait. It's...it’s encouraging that all Merlin has to do is squeeze it a little bit; that his hand alone is enough to give the thing life, and as it thickens and stiffens, Merlin's dark mood brightens.
Arthur is fully hard within ten seconds, and that's when Merlin starts to move his hand up and down. He watches Arthur's reactions carefully, keeping the pace slow and the pressure gentle. When Arthur starts to open his eyes Merlin suspects that might be a sign of boredom, so he tightens his grip and speeds up slightly, getting a grunt of pleasure for his trouble.
If there's one thing Merlin has learnt over the past week it's that the key to doing this well is holding back. The more he holds back, the longer he can make this last, the more aroused Arthur will get, and the more intense his orgasm will eventually be. But it's also okay to sometimes go fast -- not too fast of course, not the way he used to do it -- but it's okay to make Arthur think that his climax is imminent, because it makes him move and grunt a bit more, and it also gives Merlin the opportunity to take him near the edge then snatch him back from it before it's too late. Abruptly slowing down like that actually causes Arthur to groan and squeeze his eyes shut, thrust his hips up and beg for it faster.
Merlin toys with Arthur in this manner until he's bored, then he gets his handkerchief ready and brings Arthur to a shockingly loud climax, this time catching all the thick fluid and wiping Arthur clean immediately afterwards.
He's nearly out the door before Arthur has caught his breath enough to speak.
"That was much better than last time, Merlin," he pants. "You've clearly been practising." Put so condescendingly, Merlin feels humiliated all over again and suddenly regrets caring so much about performing well. Heck, if he'd stuffed it up again Arthur might have changed his mind about using Merlin in this way. "You know I'll be inclined to call on you more often now, Merlin," Arthur says ominously, confirming Merlin's fears. "See you in the morning."
Arthur lives up to his word, asking Merlin to visit him four times over the next week, and each time Merlin tries to make it more interesting than the last, twisting his hand in new ways, stroking and sometimes squeezing Arthur's testicles, and then, most recently, slicking his hand with a little olive oil stolen from the palace kitchen before he begins. He knows it feels good because he tried it on himself the previous night, and he also knows it feels good because Arthur is swivelling his hips around in a slow and decidedly erotic fashion, and moaning continuously.
"That's very good, Merlin," he gasps. "You're an exceptional servant. The best servant I've ever had."
Merlin flushes with pleasure and feels an ache deep in his belly. It's not exactly the first time he's felt a stirring of arousal whilst serving Arthur in this manner, but it is the first time he's felt conscious of enjoying himself. There's no point denying it: he likes the way Arthur's mouth falls open when he gets aroused, he likes the way his eyelids droop and the way he grunts and groans and moans; he likes being the one responsible for Arthur's loss of all princely control -- sometimes Arthur thrashes about on the bed, face dripping with sweat, hips thrusting up so hard Merlin thinks he might fly off -- and he especially enjoys the way Arthur's face distorts when he climaxes, his prettiness gone for a few short seconds, the bliss too strong to let even a man as vain as Arthur care what he looks like.
After their sixth session -- the one with the oil -- Merlin is wound up so tight he has to jerk off twice when he gets back to his own room.
And still Arthur treats him no differently during the day. One would think that someone who was revealing so much of themselves at night would be less inclined to continue ordering their faithful servant about so damn rudely, but one would be very wrong. How Arthur can carry on as if his feelings for Merlin haven't changed a bit, is... well, Merlin will likely scream with frustration if he even attempts to make sense of it. All he knows is that he feels differently and that acting normal is becoming increasingly difficult.
He hasn't figured out exactly how he feels about Arthur, but the fact that he's seen Arthur in a state that very few, if any, other human beings have seen him in, makes Merlin feel warm and somewhat special. Although sometimes he wonders whether Arthur shared a similar intimacy with his previous servants and that bothers him more than he'd like.
Perhaps that's something he will ask Arthur about the next time he's got him, literally, in the palm of his hand.
It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if Arthur asked him to come over tonight; it's been five days since Merlin last saw Arthur in that capacity, and he's feeling bored, irritable and unwanted. He's snapping at Gaius, Gwen, even Morgana on the rare occasions he runs into her, and nothing seems to hold his attention for more than a few minutes. But Arthur appears to have no intention of extending such an invitation, instead ignoring Merlin entirely in favour of flirting with an (admittedly gorgeous) visiting princess, called Blancheflap or Blancheflor or something. Eventually Merlin gives up on waiting for some eye contact and goes home, relieved that Gaius isn't there because Merlin's in the mood to mess around with magic.
When he accidentally breaks a window with the floating slingshot he'd conjured (and imagined pelting Arthur with) he gives up and goes out to find Gwen.
At first she seems happy to hang out with him, but after an hour in his company, she says, "Would you mind if we talk about something else, Merlin? I mean, I know that Arthur can be a difficult boss and everything and I'm sorry that you're having a hard time at the moment, and I want to be here for you because we're friends and I want to be a good friend, but can we please change the subject?"
Merlin suspects he might be a drag to be around at the moment so he decides to take his leave and hole up in his room for the rest of the day.
He goes to bed in a terrible mood, falling asleep to a fantasy of cursing Arthur with disfiguring facial warts, but is woken up abruptly an indefinite amount of time later by one of Arthur's messengers.
"I'm awake, I'm awake," he mumbles, slapping away the boy's shaking hand from his shoulder. "What is it? Is Arthur okay?"
"Yes sir, he's fine. He just requires you to go to his room right away. He was very clear about the need for you to hurry."
Merlin practically falls out of bed in his haste, amused that he'd just been called "sir", and excited about what Arthur must be needing from him at this time of night. He knew Arthur's apparent loss of interest wasn't going to last forever -- Merlin is far too skilled for that -- but five days is hardly any time at all! At last Merlin feels like he has the upper hand. Although...
Is Arthur only calling on him because he's been with that princess all day? Would Arthur rather be with the princess? She was very beautiful and Arthur did seem to like her an awful lot -- stupid giggling idiots -- and it would make sense that after a day in such a lady's company, Arthur would be in the mood for some...relief.
Great. Merlin is just a princess substitute. It hardly seems fair and Arthur certainly doesn't deserve this, but Merlin will just have to be so good tonight that Arthur will, at least temporarily, forget all about her.
He catches his breath before knocking gently on the door, and Arthur calls him in without hesitation.
"Oh my goodness me," Merlin exclaims the moment he's inside.
Arthur is on the bed, just as expected, but this time he's completely naked, the hair on his chest is damp with sweat, his forehead is glistening in the candlelight, and his cock is very, very hard.
"Come here," Arthur orders, but he doesn't lie back like he usually does, he swivels around until he's sitting on the edge of the bed with his legs spread and dangling, directly in front of the cushion that's already been placed next to the bed in its usual spot.
It's difficult not to respond to the sight of Arthur in this state; so aroused and so desperate to be touched, and Merlin is painfully aware of the quick, helpless rise of his own penis, but he doubts Arthur has noticed, which is both a good and an infuriating thing. He kneels on the cushion, his eyes travelling slowly up Arthur's body from his big feet to his handsome face, and Merlin tries his best not to look too worshipful, but it's not easy. Arthur looks very good naked, with his broad shoulders, muscular biceps and enviously hairy chest. But it's his face that's nearly the undoing of Merlin's self control: wet, parted lips, and piercing blue eyes beneath his tousled blond hair -- he looks about ready to devour Merlin whole.
Staring down at Merlin, Arthur leans back on his hands, and it feels so different this time because Arthur never usually looks at him when they're together like this. Merlin reaches up and puts one hand on his thigh -- bolder than he might normally be but he can't imagine that Arthur is going to mind. The other he wraps around Arthur's cock, squeezing it hard while he stares up at Arthur's face. He strokes him firmly, confidently, and Arthur throws his head back, thrusts his hips up, then he stares right back down at Merlin, his mouth curled up into a dazed half smile that's a gratifying mixture of relief and ecstasy.
"I've been looking forward to this all afternoon," Arthur tells him, finding a rhythm with his hips.
Merlin's about to ask about the princess when he's shocked into silence by Arthur's hand, clamping down on his cheek, fingers digging in and thumb sliding over his chin.
This is the first time Arthur has touched him.
"Did you--" Merlin starts, but Arthur stops him saying any more by dragging his thumb slowly and seductively across Merlin's bottom lip. He's looking at him weirdly, and it's a look Merlin recognises. It's the look Arthur gets on his face when he's about to ask Merlin to do something he's never done before.
"Kiss it," Arthur whispers.
Glancing back down at his hand on Arthur's cock, Merlin gulps, then looks back up questioningly. He sort of thinks he might understand what Arthur just asked him to do but he needs clarification.
"Little idiot," Arthur croons fondly. "Use your pretty mouth."
"You want me to--"
"Oh God, kiss it, Merlin," Arthur groans. "Kiss it."
Merlin stops stroking but keeps holding on to it, looking at the head of Arthur's cock, poking wet out of its foreskin, and thinks about what he's being asked to do. Such an intimate, strange request, and yet... when Merlin puts himself in Arthur's shoes -- something he's really begun to enjoy doing recently -- he gets it. And while he may know next to nothing about sex, he can certainly appreciate the appeal in having someone -- Arthur ideally -- kiss his genitals. That would be nothing short of magical, Merlin thinks, now so hard it's actually starting to hurt.
Before he does it he needs to quickly reassure himself that he hasn't misinterpreted the request, so he leans towards it, looks up. Arthur's teeth are gritted and his eyes are boring into Merlin's, and he nods, just once.
So Merlin closes the distance and presses his lips to the tip of Arthur's penis, where the slit is, where it's seeping fluid, and he holds his lips there, letting them get wet with Arthur's desire. It's as lingering and effective a kiss as he can manage and then he draws his head away, licking his lips, and looks back up at Arthur for approval.
"Now lick it," Arthur says, his voice strained, strangled, running fingers through Merlin's hair and cupping the back of his head, gently guiding him downwards again.
Licking Arthur's cock is a wholly different experience; the taste of him alone makes Merlin's head spin, even though he's not sure he likes it. It's a subtle variation on the way Merlin himself tastes, which is something he probably shouldn't know, but he got curious the other day, and isn't it normal to check that the fluids your body produces when you're aroused are not offensive?
He licks the juice from the swollen, near-purple head of Arthur's cock until it's wet with Merlin's saliva instead.
"Keep going," Arthur encourages. "That's good."
Merlin licks every inch of Arthur's dick, trailing the tip of his tongue up and down each protruding vein, dropping slow kisses from the base up to the tip, and as he gets more into it his kisses get deeper until he's practically got the entire head of Arthur's cock in his mouth.
"God, yes," Arthur gasps from above. "Suck it, Merlin. You're marvellous."
Compliments like that are a rarity in this job and Merlin doesn't (always) need to be told twice. He sucks hard on Arthur's cockhead, enjoying the taste of him now that it's more familiar, enjoying even more Arthur's surprised, ecstatic moans.
When Arthur asks for more Merlin understands completely. More of Arthur's cock in his mouth is what's required of him, and it's what he wants to do too, because it feels wonderful: the stretch of his mouth around Arthur's impressive thickness, the way it slides over his tongue in a deliciously repetitive motion, the way with each dip of his head he swallows more of it, until Arthur's pubic hair grazes his lips and nose each time.
It can't last forever though, and soon Arthur is shouting, "Yes yes yes!" and ejaculating into Merlin's mouth, down his throat, holding his head in both hands so he can't get away. Arthur's thrusts become harder and more raggedy, the orgasm making him lose his rhythm, and the liquid in Merlin's mouth tastes bad but if he doesn't swallow it he'll choke on it, so he dutifully forces himself to drink it all down, squeezing his eyes shut and gagging a few times. Arthur releases his grip and Merlin nearly falls over.
Swaying on his knees and feeling dizzy with lust, Merlin watches Arthur fall onto his back, chest heaving; a sign, Merlin supposes, that he should leave this instant, which is not a problem because he's on the edge of his own orgasm and he can't let Arthur see him like this. He stands up and walks towards the door. "Night, Arthur," he says over his shoulder, but before he can open the door and make his escape, Arthur says his name.
"Yes, Sire?" he says with a gulp, turning around. He can't even focus his eyes anymore but he can tell the Arthur blur is looking straight at him.
"Merlin, are you--" Merlin's eyes right themselves for a second and he realises that Arthur is looking at his groin. He maintains eye contact while dying a little inside, and he can only imagine how bad it must look. "It's okay," Arthur says slowly. "You can go."
On his rather awkward jog home Merlin tries to decipher what the tone of Arthur's voice meant. He didn't sound dismissive, nor did he sound condescending. Was he annoyed to see that Merlin was aroused? Should Merlin not be getting anything out of their time together? Or was that the voice of a man who hadn’t noticed that Merlin was responding to him until that moment?
Was Arthur actually surprised?
If that's true it would make him the most self-absorbed prat in the entire world, but then, Merlin already knew that. A very attractive self-absorbed prat, true, but a self-absorbed prat nonetheless.
He stumbles into his bedroom, climbs onto his bed, pushes down his trousers and comes as soon as he touches himself.
Drat. He'll have to wash those sheets in the morning now.
Helping Arthur get dressed isn't the same chore it used to be. For one, Arthur isn't criticising him or even talking at all; he just frowns at him occasionally as if he's trying to figure something out. Secondly, when Merlin straightens Arthur's armour he's pretty certain Arthur shudders.
Strangest of all, just before Arthur leaves his room to go train with his knights, he quietly asks Merlin, "Are you coming over tonight?"
That it was a question as opposed to an order shocks Merlin into speechlessness, and he can only nod.
"See you then. You can have the rest of the day off."
Then he leaves.
Merlin stands stock still, in the middle of Arthur's bedroom, astounded and pleased. Arthur clearly didn't mind Merlin's inappropriate arousal last night and still wants Merlin to visit him at bedtime.
But he's fully dressed, in trousers and a casual tunic, when Merlin arrives at five minutes to ten, and he's not looking particularly happy.
"Close the door behind you," he says, pacing around the room, although he seems to be deliberately avoiding the area surrounding the bed.
Merlin walks over to the bed and stands next to it for the sole purpose of seeing what it will make Arthur do. He gets his answer when Arthur stalks up to him, eyes blazing and jaw clenched.
"You're my servant, Merlin. My servant. You're not supposed to--" He jabs Merlin in the chest but doesn't finish the sentence.
"I'm not supposed to what, Arthur?" Merlin asks, instantly annoyed. "I'm not supposed to like it when you force me to pleasure you?"
"No, that's not--" he shouts. "I didn't mean it like that." He sounds as flustered as he is angry, and Merlin takes pity on him.
"Then what's the problem?" Merlin asks, dropping to his knees and looking up at Arthur with a cheeky smile.
"Get up," Arthur growls, grabbing Merlin by the elbow and hauling him back up on his feet. "Why do you like it so much?" he demands, pushing Merlin backwards, causing him to stumble and fall back onto the bed. He's never been on the bed before. "Is this what you want?" Arthur takes hold of Merlin's upper arms and flips him over so he's face down, his cheek flat against the soft blanket, and Arthur is standing in between his legs.
Leaning over him, pressing his body down onto Merlin's. "Is this what you want?" he asks again, hoarse and menacing. Merlin gasps when Arthur presses his erection against Merlin's arse, and mindlessly pushes back. "My my, aren't you full of surprises." Now Arthur is yanking down Merlin's trousers and when the cool air hits Merlin's bare skin, he yelps in surprise. "I never forced you, Merlin," Arthur murmurs, hand stroking Merlin's buttocks, fingers slipping between them. "You could have said no to me, but for some reason you didn't. You wanted to touch me, didn't you." That's a pretty interesting interpretation of the way it all went down, but Merlin's far too turned on right now to care about Arthur's delusions. "I'd never force you." Merlin feels Arthur pushing his own trousers down, baring his cock, hot and hard, and rubbing it against Merlin's bum, but then he whispers, right into Merlin's ear, "Unless you want me to," and he slips his cock between Merlin's buttocks.
Does Merlin want Arthur to force him? Kind of yes.
Now Arthur's trying to push his cock into Merlin but when the tip of it enters him it hurts so much Merlin cries out in pain. "Stop!" he wails. "That hurts."
Arthur backs up, standing up straight and stroking himself, his eyes a little wild. "It can't hurt that much, surely. Other people do it."
"It really hurts, Arthur. But maybe--" Merlin rolls over and sticks his hand into the pocket of his trousers and fishes out a little apothecary jar full of olive oil. "Use this?"
Arthur nods, eyes wide. "Yes. Give me that." He snatches the jar out of Merlin's hand, opens it and pours the oil all over his cock, while Merlin turns back over, kicks off his trousers and spreads his thighs in anticipation. He doesn't have a clue why Arthur would want to put his penis in there, but he did say that other people do it so perhaps it won't be too terrible.
Turning his head so he can see what Arthur is doing, he smiles at the sight of Arthur pulling off his tunic and stepping out of his trousers; Merlin really likes naked, unselfconscious Arthur, because he makes Merlin's heart beat faster. Arthur quickly climbs up onto the bed, kneeling between Merlin's legs, in such a hurry to be inside Merlin that he doesn't wait for another moment before trying again to enter him.
Merlin grabs two handfuls of blanket and holds on tight, tensing up involuntarily as Arthur pushes his cock into a place Merlin had never once considered could be used for sex. "Ow," he says, by mistake. It's not as painful as it was without the oil, but the stretch still feels unnatural, weird, wrong, and Arthur feels bigger now than he ever felt in Merlin's hand or mouth.
"I'm nearly there," Arthur breathes. "I'm sorry, Merlin, I don't want to hurt you. I just-- I need--"
"It's okay, it's hurting a little less now," Merlin assures him, secretly wondering why anyone would let this happen to themselves. He just hopes that Arthur climaxes quickly so that it will be over, and next time he'll just have to say no to this.
"Oh Merlin." Arthur's flush up against Merlin's buttocks now, fully inside him and shuddering hard. After a few seconds he moves, pulling out a little, pushing back in, again, a third time--
"Oh," Merlin gasps. "What--" Oh goodness, that feels--
"Are you okay?" Arthur asks, halting abruptly. "Too painful?"
"No," Merlin groans. "Keep going." Please keep going.
Arthur laughs breathlessly and begins to move again, his long, slow thrusts going in deep each time, hitting a place inside Merlin that makes his entire body pulsate with a pleasure more intense than anything he's ever felt before, and maybe this is a part of his destiny as well, because they fit together, they breathe together, they move together in perfect time, and it feels natural.
"Take it off," Arthur insists, pushing Merlin's shirt up as far as he can, letting Merlin pull it over his head, and that's when Merlin feels Arthur's lips on his back. Kissing between his shoulders blades, licking his neck. Whispering into his ear, "So lovely."
Merlin has never thought of himself as lovely, but it was said with sincerity, and Arthur is currently riding him with such lustful enthusiasm that Merlin thinks maybe he is just a little bit lovely.
It gets faster, and harder, and better, and Arthur keeps talking to him breathlessly, his speech punctuated by gasps and groans.
"You must have been so frustrated, Merlin ... Wanting me but not being able to say anything ... I'm sorry I haven't given you the same pleasure you've given me yet -- but I promise I'll rectify that ... I want to see the look on your face -- when I make you come."
He's thrusting into him with such force it amazes Merlin that it doesn't hurt at all, that it only feels miraculously good.
Arthur's orgasm is loud, long and aggressive. He pounds into Merlin so hard they inch across the bed, but with each wave his thrusts slow down, until he's finished, and collapsed on top of Merlin in a slippery wet heap.
Whether Arthur will still be interested in seeing Merlin's face while he comes is anyone's guess. In Merlin's limited experience, interest in sex dissipates the moment one has climaxed, but when he rolls over onto his back, Arthur's gaze is rather predatory.
"I'm going to suck your prick now," Arthur murmurs, crawling in between Merlin's legs and grinning up at him. "I'm very curious to find out why you enjoyed it so much."
With a shocked gasp Merlin edges away from Arthur -- it's not that he doesn't want Arthur to 'suck his prick', but he does want to emotionally prepare himself for such an event, because this must surely be historically unprecedented. Arthur's a prince, the future king, and everything up until this very moment has been normal (relatively speaking): Merlin has been a devoted servant, tending to Arthur's every need and urge, but if Arthur returns the favour, as it were, wouldn't that be inappropriately selfless of him?
Arthur crawls after him. "Where do you think you're going?" And soon Merlin's escape is blocked by the headboard and Arthur's hands are clamped down on his thighs. "Don't start being disobedient now, Merlin. We're far from finished."
"But," Merlin starts, feeling panicky. The way Arthur's looking at him is really sexy and all, but this will throw their whole dynamic out of whack and Merlin's not quite sure he's ready for that. "What are you getting out of it?"
Arthur slides his hands up Merlin's thighs, up over his belly and chest, roving without purpose it seems, unless the purpose is just to touch as much of Merlin's skin as possible. "What do I get out of it?" Arthur murmurs, laughing quietly. "I get to make you feel good." He trails fingers agonisingly slowly down Merlin's torso, then wraps them around Merlin's erection.
"Oh," Merlin whimpers, no longer capable of arguing. Someone other than himself is touching his cock, and it feels--
"You look very pretty like this, Merlin," Arthur says, stroking him with typical self assurance, as if he's done this for a million other servants. "Believe me when I say I'm getting a lot out of this. Now lie back, get comfortable."
Merlin slips a little down the bed until he's perfectly comfortable, his back and neck supported by several royal pillows, his eyes fixed on Arthur. Hungry, horny Arthur, who's moving towards him again, up the bed until he's looming over him, staring down at Merlin's mouth as if he's thinking about kissing him.
But before he can, Merlin blurts out, "Do you do this with all your servants?"
"Of course not," Arthur says, rolling his eyes and planting a kiss on Merlin's open mouth.
Merlin has kissed a couple of girls in his life, back before he moved to Camelot, but none of them kissed like Arthur does: feverishly biting Merlin's bottom lip and exploring Merlin's mouth with his tongue, all the while working Merlin's cock with his talented hand.
When Arthur moves from Merlin's mouth to his throat, sucking on it in a way that feels like it'll bruise, Merlin throws his head back and asks the ceiling, "Did you kiss that princess?"
"Nope," Arthur replies, kissing and sucking his way down Merlin's chest.
"For Heaven's sake, Merlin," Arthur snaps. "Would you please just shut up for one second and try to enjoy this?" He goes back to sucking on the sensitive skin of Merlin's inner thigh, lapping at his balls, licking a stripe all the way up Merlin's cock, and, finally, sucking the entire length into his mouth. It makes Merlin buck up his hips and squeal like a girl, but the sensations are too blissful for Merlin to feel embarrassed by his lack of control. This is what Arthur must have been feeling.
"Arthur," Merlin whispers, gaping at the top of Arthur's bobbing head. His hips seem to have a mind of their own and he can't keep them still even though he thinks he should probably be careful not to hurt Arthur. Only Arthur seems to quite enjoy it when Merlin thrusts up into his mouth, moaning with encouragement.
They make eye contact at that moment, and Merlin loses his last semblance of control. Arthur's eye are full of so much promise, his mouth full of so much Merlin, that he can't stop himself from grabbing Arthur's head in his hands and pushing himself so far inside that he can feel Arthur gagging on him, which makes him feel shocked and guilty enough to quickly withdraw, but by then it's too late, he's coming. And it's going all over Arthur's lips and chin and cheeks. His forehead, and oh God, oh no, in his hair.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry!" The words come pouring out of Merlin's horrified mouth, although it can't be denied that it's a rather spectacular sight: Arthur's face is, quite literally, covered in the most damning, filthy evidence, and yet ... he's smiling.
"Fetch me a handkerchief, will you?"
"Oh. Yes. I can do that," Merlin says, scrambling off the bed and frantically searching through the drawers of Arthur's dresser until he finds one.
As he wipes Arthur's face clean -- and this time it really is Merlin's mess -- he finds himself grinning.
"Is something funny?" Arthur asks, flopping down onto his back, and pulling Merlin with him so they're lying together in a sticky, warm embrace.
"You're funny," Merlin says, clinging onto Arthur happily.
But there's something niggling at the back of his mind and, despite his sleepiness, he feels like there's never going to be a better time than right now to do this. "Hey Arthur?"
"Mmm, yes?" Arthur murmurs.
"I've kind of got a big secret to tell you."