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It was a normal evening of March. It wrapped him with its fresh air, while he was walking fast toward the Excalibur, the oldest pub near Oxford University.

He was strangely late and was still asking himself how the hell had Gwaine managed to convince him to go out with him and his new partner.

Being the third wheel was already an unpleasant situation, but what made him even more restless and disgruntled was entering into a pub he knew was crammed full of Alphas and their damned testosterone.

Unconsciously, he tighten his light jacket to his chest, searching for a bit of warm. He let the first spring fragrant that he could shyly smell in the crisp air hug him. He tried to find a minimum of peace but, at every step toward his destination, he felt that tranquility disappearing. His heart was beating fast in his chest.

He hated Alphas because of thousands of reasons.

***

“What have Alphas ever done to you, Merlin? Why are you so angry with them? Ether you have been hit as a child or molested by them….” Gwaine had pressed him at the beginning of a violent discussion, happened precisely two months before, when he told Merlin he had started dating a guy named Percival, an Oxford student, none the less.

The raven-haired boy had understood he was an Alpha as soon as he had seen his friend’s shiny eyes, lighting up with excitement just by pronouncing his name.

“God forbid if they tried! Oh Jesus Gwaine, have you seen yourself? You are already drooling just at the mare thought of him!” He had clenched his firsts until his knuckles became white. He was pacing from a room to another, occasionally running his hand through the raven hair and rolling his eyes to the sky. Gwaine was chasing him like a shadow.

“And then you ask me why I hate them? Because in this loathing society, they are the “upper race”, people obey them with just a word, they are the only ones that can aim for a brilliant career in every field; the only ones that can choose a political career and they believe to have a functioning brain (as well as a functioning dick). If you are born Alpha in this world, you can have everything. You can long for and be whatever you want. They are the Chosen ones! Snob and arrogant, just because they were born under the right star. They believe the world is their personal fun- fair/harem and with it, the right (as they believe) to look at Humanity from above, spitting with disdain on whoever is not like them.”

“Stop it, Merl! They aren’t all the same! Percival is not as you describe him! You must meet a person before judging them! Even if he is an Alpha or, in your case, especially if he is an Alpha …”

Oh God, are you listening to yourself? Christ, Alphas see Betas as poor imbeciles, just because they haven’t a brain that (as theirs) works thanks to hormones and are able to live a normal life (that according to Alphas, means boring) and to give birth to other Betas…God forbid an invasion of mediocrity! Doesn’t your new idol feel frustrated, knowing that by being with you, he cannot breed without medicines?”

“Stop saying all these nonsense, Merl…you are starting to piss me off! You are talking as a damned racist!”

“Oh but wait for it… the best part regards the Omegas…oh yes! We are considered just broodmares, a well-fed herd of sheep with the smallest brain in the world. Before and after the Bond, our only aspiration in our short life is just to have a giant Alpha cock between our thighs and to give birth to a numerous litter for our master. He has to take care of us and cuddle us. We have to devote our life and our almost-inexistent brain to him, as dogs, living only of their master’s love. Alphas see it this way, Gwaine, nothing more and nothing less. And you are dating one of them…. you are with one of them and hope to be happy!!!”

“Fuck Merlin, Stop! You speak this way because of what happened to Will. I know you are still hurt but it has been years! And you are fucking your life and denying yourself opportunities because of a dead person!!! It’s in the past now and not all the Alphas are like that asshole of Agravaine!”

God Gwaine, he was my cousin; more than that, he was like MY BROTHER! How can you talk like this? You knew him….how can you expect me to forget? How do you expect me to…“

In that moment, Gwaine had put an upset and trembling Merlin against his chest and hugged him with an unexpected strength for a Beta. He had petted his raven hair and let him cry all his pain, frustration and anger. His slim body was devastated by the sobs and too thin under his big red sweater.

Then, the raven-haired boy had ended the hug and flew out of the flat. His head low and his fists closed. He had left his devastated friend behind, slamming the door with violence behind him.

After that episode, it had taken a week for Merlin to talk to him again.

Then, it had taken an entire month, full of supplications, begging, offerings of food and other basic provisions from Gwaine’s part, for Merlin to listen to him without grimacing or leaving the room as he talked about Percival. About how fantastic he was for an Alpha, how sweet his attitudes were despite Gwaine being a Beta, how intelligent he was, handsome, virile, great, tall, muscular, elegant, charitable, a true knight….

Listen to him….He is SMITTEN and he doesn’t even realize it.’ Thought Merlin to himself, while his flat mate, freshly out of the shower, walked around the house half-naked. He walked with his muscular physique in sight, bathrobes and towels to mop his brown hair, that fell softly on his shoulders. He kept singing the praises of that Alpha of his incessantly and insistently …

Gwaine was such a sight when he was in love!

Merlin considered him as a brother. So on one hand, he loved to see him so happy and full of hope but on the other hand, he swore to himself that if that Alpha ever dared to hurt him, Merlin would kill him with his own bare hands. He had remained helpless once too much in his life to allow it to happen again…

“Merl, are you even listening to me?? So, what do you think??” Gwaine had interrupted his train of thoughts by placing himself in front of his nose with those vaguely hopeful hazel big eyes.

“How could be possible not to listen to you, Gwaine? I got it. This Percival is ‘everything’, but please, please stop. I can’t take it anymore… in the last month and a half, all you did was talking about him, him, him. You're getting monotonous and YOU’RE. BORING. ME” said the dark-haired man, running a hand over his eyes in surrender.

He was lying comfortably on the couch in the living room, the ubiquitous red sweatshirt slightly raised above the navel.

“Then, give me a clear answer, Merl! Yes or no?!”

“Yes. Yes, of course…it’s a great idea … whatever it is,” The dark-haired man had snorted, losing himself in his anti-Alpha thoughts.

He hadn’t heard a single word of the last of the thousands of speeches about Gwaine’s probable future husband.

And that was the fatal mistake….

“Perfect! Emrys, this is how I want you!!!! It’s decided. I will organize a night out at the Excalibur next Saturday!!”

“Wait a moment. Calm down! What night out?” Merlin had asked, straightening on the soft cushions.

“Our first outing in three to meet him! Finally, after almost two months! He wants to meet you! Didn’t you just say it was a good idea?”

“No, sorry Gwaine, I must have misunderstood you… I ….it’s too soon and….” The dark-haired man had said, looking down and biting his tongue, unable to find an excuse.

“Oh no no no no Merlin. You have already accepted!!! Once a deal is made, you cannot back down” the other man had said, toying with his cowlick, happier than ever.

He had disappeared before Merlin could find an excuse to refuse the meeting.

At that point, Merlin ad fallen heavily on his back, curling up on himself and trying to drown in the heat of the sweater he was wearing.

HE WAS SCREWED!! MISERABLY SCREWED!

***

Therefore, that evening found Merlin walking with conviction; thinking that the sooner he would arrive at the pub, the sooner he’d carry out his duty as a good and patient friend and be over with it. Making everyone happy… included himself.

He only prayed that the gods of the testosterone wouldn’t piss him off...

He was still deep in his thoughts when a familiar voice called his name. Gwaine, at the Excalibur doorway, was waving to make himself visible. A moment later, he reached him and fervently hugged his tiny body as if he hadn’t seen him for ages.

"You are here, Merl! Fuck, I thought that in the end you would let me down! You are late! Everyone is waiting for you!" He said with a toothy smile, so authentic that Merlin found himself smiling back. He realized then that he had done well to come, because his friend really wanted him there and that smile was well worth an evening of pain.

“Oh Gwaine. Everyone who? And more importantly… did I ever let you down?"

"Indeed, you never did, Mr. Prissy, but knowing your opinions, I knew you would rather chop your arm off than getting to know Percy and his friends. They also want to meet you. And since you are never late… yes... the doubt that you could not come because...I don’t know... you had lost one of your balls or you had an ingrown toenail, came to my mind! I admit it. However, that's enough! You are here, my insane ears-bearer” Ended the other, grabbing Merlin’s lobes, barely visible under the black hair.

It was a bit long but properly combed to hide his bulky ears! He did not want to give a blatant excuse to tease to that lot of oxen. He grabbed Gwaine’s hands, which were still titillating his lobes, and pulled them down, looking grim, while the other was laughing, amused.

He lowered his eyes briefly. The fact that 'everyone was waiting for him' was not very promising. He took a deep breath, scraping together a little of pride, and moved away from his friend to advance toward the old wooden door of the pub.

He muttered to himself, "The show begins and so on and so forth"

***

As soon as he set foot in the old pub, he was forced to stop at the doorway and to close his eyes. The intense smell of Alpha pheromones enveloped him like a blanket; it was so strong that it made him slightly weak.

He had never been happier to be under the influence of a double dose of suppressors, his only barriers to mask his smell of unbound Omega. They prevented bystanders from killing each other in order to jump on him and mate with him where he stood.

However, it took him a good dose of willpower to move in that place, trying to look natural.
The wonders of chemistry were admirably hiding his smell, causing the elite of wolves to sense him, a tasty lamb, as an ordinary Beta, devoid of any interesting smell.

Thank goodness for that.

Moving forward, he analyzed the place around him. In the dim light, the old wood that covered the walls of the room, full of boys and girls busy talking and sipping dark beers and laughing at nothing, absorbed the dim warm light of the lamps. The fact that no one had turned to look at him and that he was being blissfully ignored calmed him a little.

The Beta put a hand on Merlin’s shoulder, squeezing strongly and quietly asking if he was all right, seeing that he had stopped and looked paler than usual.

“I’m fine, Gwaine” Merlin reassured him with a thin smile; the deep blue eyes were slightly darker.

Gently, his friend moved in front of him, looking around in search of his goal. After a moment, it turned out to be a round table. It was made of inlaid, antique, dark wood, oozing history. It was a fine sight in the deep niche in the right corner at the bottom of the local. Above the arch, on the wall, there was a trompe l'oeil with a wonderful arabesque writing, written in ancient characters. It was a bit faded and quoted ‘The Knights of the Round Table.’

Gwaine took Merlin’s hand and began to make inroads, hopping between the tables, dragging him, until they reached the Round Table. Around it, six boys sat, busy talking to each other.

“Hey! Here we are! My dears, I’d like you to meet the sweet genius of my roommate, Merlin Emrys!” said Gwaine aloud to attract their attention.

Six pairs of eyes turned to them.

“Merlin” said Gwaine, clinging the boy to his side and pointing the bystanders, “these are Leon, Lancelot, Elyan, Percival, Mordred and Arthur”

The Knights of the Round Table were good-looking boys and all of them smiled back at him friendly, welcoming him with apparent warm.

All but one.

The blond boy named Arthur was not smiling. He was just staring at him. Sorely.

Merlin felt himself blushing under the blue gaze of the other boy. However, he didn’t look away. He returned the stare as he sat at the Round Table; the moment seemed endless.

Sitting on one of the two empty chairs with Gwaine, he took his time observing his new acquaintances, one by one. Despite the fact that they were born with the wrong gene, they seemed to be approachable people.

Leon, for example, was tall, with deep green eyes and curly ash-blond hair that glided softly on his shoulders. He had a genuine smile and a sharp wit.

Elyan, at his side, was a handsome black skinned man with rippling muscles, squeezed in a light gray t-shirt. He was good at listening to his mates, doing just the right observations on everything.

Lancelot, whom everyone called Lance, looked like the classic good guy of next door and that meant he had a charm of its own: quiet, probably given by the perfect mix of olive skin, dark eyes and open sweet smile. If the smell had not clearly qualified him as an Alpha like his companions, he would have passed as an Omega or a Beta at most.

Mordred was the perfect good boy. Obviously younger than the others, he was nonetheless unafraid to expose his ideas and intervened successfully in more arguments with logical and intelligent speeches. There was something deep in him that Merlin liked.

On the other hand, Percival...well, he was Percival, and Merlin was not surprised that his flatmate was in love with him! He was beautiful and brilliant, big as a wardrobe with a childish face on which it was easy to read any type of emotions. Tall a head more than the others and absurdly muscular, he shouted spontaneity and masculinity from every pore…without overlooking the fact that he enclosed (or better crushed) Gwaine’s waist, sat next to him, in a possessive way… typical of Alphas.

And then, him.

Arthur Pendragon, captain of the football team at Oxford University and scion of one of the most ancient and noble English families. He represented what was indicated in the dictionary as a perfect specimen of male Alpha: strong, determined, a sculpted physique trapped under an anonymous white wool sweater that, however, allowed you see every muscle, drawn almost perfectly. Light skin, uncovered forearms crossed in front of his chest, big virile hands, moving naturally. A long neck with a soaring Adam's apple, a perfect face, framed by golden hair that fell softly on his forehead, a strong jaw, full red lips, a hint of blond beard and blue eyes, like the placid waters of a lake.

Everything about him, every damn inch of his body, shouted virility, passion and power.

After half an hour of attendance, Merlin had understood with absolute clarity that somehow he was the leader of the group. He spoke little, listened a lot and smiled at the jokes of others without laughing openly. When he spoke, everyone turned to him and fell silent to hear what he had to say, as if he had an aura of its own that fascinated those around him. With great self-control and self-awareness, he had a natural elegance, shown by his gestures. However, they betrayed a repressed anxiety… as if, under the surface and the blue of his eyes, a flood of emotions hide, held with difficulty.

Yes, those eyes were a curse. Not only because they were as blue as a spring sky, but mostly because they were insightful, and often resting on Merlin. Arthur stared at him from across the table and with such intensity that Merlin could feel his gaze on him even while he was not looking.

The dark-haired boy was trying desperately to appear nonchalant, even though he knew/felt that Arthur was watching, studying and X-Raying him. He felt his presence stronger than he ever felt near another Alpha and despite his intentions to ignore him, he could not help but throw a few fleeting glances to him. Every time, every single time, Arthur crossed his gaze, firmly planted on him.

Merlin had never been afraid of Alphas, NEVER. Yet this person with blond hair like the summer wheat and red fleshy lips could make him feel a strong uneasiness. It was not just for his movements and the strength of his Alpha body, but also for the smell. It was so different from the one emanated by his peers. Stronger, musky, intense, haunting. He smelled of wood, rain, ground and shadows.

Then his voice.

Jesus, his voice was deep, warm, baritone, persuasive, dominant. The raven-haired boy was surprised of the definitions that his brain could come up with when the subject of his own thoughts was Arthur.

The blond boy was a damn Alpha, and Merlin’s suppressants should act as a shield and exclude any type of drive related to the hormones floating in the air.

And Yet ... and yet Arthur was ... attractive? Pleasant? Damn seductive?

Oh, God, Merlin, get a hold of yourself. He is an Alpha, damn. Not different from the others. He is part of that scum of horny oxen you've always hated. He is the enemy. Remember that!!

After the second round of beers Merlin realized that, after Arthur’s discussion about the British government, he could not take his eyes from the lips of the other and that Arthur seemed almost pleased with this fact.

They looked into each other’s eyes.

Again.

And the world around them became muffled and stopped spinning.

It was as if they were talking without saying anything. It was as if Arthur was sending waves of subliminal messages, which invested Merlin without giving him truce, combined with hot pheromones.

His head began to spin. ‘What the hell was going on??

Their subliminal relationship was interrupted by a whistle of approval that Leon sent to the waitress who had just brought the third round of beers and chips. She was a bonded female Omega, as the red mark on her neck showed. However, she was very attractive, wrapped in a pair of tight jeans and a white T-shirt, short hair, full lips, green eyes and the face of a doll.

The girl smiled back at Leon, a bit embarrassed, before she left with the tray.

“Wow” said Leon laughing, slightly tipsy, “if she was free, probably I would have already jumped on her and now she would already be pregnant with my children! Luckily, his Alpha is not around….”

There it is. The dream was over. With alcohol in the body and the inhibitions gone, the true Alpha spirit had not been slow to make its entry on the Round Table.

Elyan looked at Leon askance, “Come on, Leon. Do you think it’s proper to talk about a bonded Omega in that way? It is not respectful!”

“It is not only disrespectful. It’s disgusting. You know how I feel about Omegas, Leon … do not do this kind of praise in front of me. Please.” Arthur suddenly burst, his lips suddenly bent in a bitter grimace.

Everyone fell silent for a moment.

“Why? What do you exactly think about Omegas, Arthur?” said Merlin, planting a curious and inquiring look on his interlocutor, genuinely surprised by the tone used by the other.

Arthur chained his eyes to those of the dark-haired man and with an icy coldness began to explain his opinion.

”You see, Merlin, I do not like the dynamics between Alpha and Omega. Of course, Omegas are our natural mates. Nature created them just for us and endowed them with a body and a mind shaped for the needs of Alphas. They are instinctive beings and naturally attracted to our dominant character. Yet I abhor the idea of joining for life to a being that, after the Bond, would depend completely on me and to whom I should dedicate the rest of my life. One I should take care of like a puppy, constantly in need of attention and whom I wouldn’t be able to be separate from; with the sole ambition of starting a family. Wanting them just for me would be an unjust imposition on them. Personally, I hate that Omegas tempt us. Steadily. I think that for an Alpha it would be better to find mates among their own kind, as my parents did, or between Betas, as Percival rightly did by choosing Gwaine.

No hormonal upheavals. No Bond for life, but only the consensual will to share your time and space with the person you love. Without complications, hormones and broods of children. As a Beta, I think you can understand, Merlin…”

“Of course, Arthur ... thank God I'm not an Omega, otherwise I would feel very offended by this kind of reasoning …” said Merlin, barely containing the anger and clenching his fists under the table.

Percival looked at Gwaine for a moment, who shook his head slightly as a warning, inviting him to shut up.

“Why, Merlin? What do you find so illogical in my reasoning?” Arthur pressed him, almost amused.

“Well, first, I do not think that ‘love’ is a concept so far removed from the words complications, hormones and children. Secondly, have you ever thought that MAYBE not all Omegas have as their life dream being an Alpha’s sex slave, forced to prostrate at their feet? Then, oh! You are right! Nature has made them so mischievous and seductive …of course, THEY are the ones tempting you Alphas. You poor little ones are not to blame if you get carried away too much and often bordering on rape. Ah, if only their ill nature would not spur them to bond with you, it would be so much simpler. Less…how to say it… TEDIOUS for you. You know what? Everyone should think like you! If Omegas are so complicated and hormonally unstable and keeping up with them is so challenging, I do not understand why, when you have them on hand, you don’t just limit yourselves at fucking them, instead of forcing a bond on them that maybe not all of them want. But who cares? How much weight could the will of an Omega ever have in this society? None, of course.”

“Well, gentlemen, it’s late and Merlin and I have to go…” said Gwaine, freeing himself from Percival that, like the others, was watching Merlin with a mixture of astonishment and disbelief, in absolute silence.

“I’m glad to hear you think so Merlin! The paths we take are different, perhaps, but the conclusion of our reasoning is the same: it is not good for an Alpha to bond with an Omega.” said Arthur, showing a calm that smelled of storm.

He hold back the anger, while Merlin stood up, putting on his jacket and refusing to give the last word after his outburst.

The already turned dark-haired boy stopped. He turned back and circumnavigated briskly the Round Table. He reached Arthur, who in the meantime, had risen, ready to face the battle. He lost none of the movements of the other.

Merlin positioned himself in front of him in open defiance, eye to eye, an inch of air dividing them. Arthur’s smell was unmistakable: male, Alpha, ready to attack.

Despite his Omega instinct begging Merlin to look down and to expose the neck to the enemy, begging for forgiveness, Merlin did not back down. On the contrary, in response, he slapped a mocking smile in Arthur’s face, raising his hands up in a gesture of apparent surrender.

For a moment, Arthur looked at him confused.

The next moment, Merlin leaned on him and brought his lips to the blond’s ear, being careful not to touch him. While he was losing himself in the heat of the other’s body, so close to his, he whispered in a voice as languid and seductive as possible.

"You're right, my dear Arthur ... is not right for an Omega to bond with an Alpha ... especially if that Alpha is you...”

Pure, sweet, intoxicating poison.

Before realizing the effect that he knew his words would have on his interlocutor, Merlin had already left the pub. The fresh and free of pheromones air on his face and in his hair was a nice blessing for his mind and his nerves, already trembling under his skin.

Gwaine joined him after a moment, while the Omega was moving away from the pub in strides, as if death was behind him.

Jesus, Merlin. You have been epic! I had never seen anyone brave enough to respond in kind to Arthur Pendragon. Normally, when he speaks, no one dares to argue!”

“Obviously! He is a Prime Alpha! No one would dream of telling him clearly in his face that HE IS AN ASSHOLE! … By the way, you didn’t tell Percival that I’m an Omega, right?”

“No, Merl” His friend shamelessly lied, “I said nothing.”

“Good” said Merlin sharply, stopping his advance and planting his eyes as sea in those nutty ones of his friend “And do not ever tell him or I will kill you!”

***

‘What the hell happened?’

While walking back to the university accommodations, Arthur Pendragon pulled his hands out of the pockets of his jeans and discovered them violently trembling. He clenched them in fists a few times, trying to regain control. That was the night he discovered the meaning of the words "shaking with rage".

He was furious, fucking furious.

He rubbed the palms of his fingers on his stormy eyes, pressing hard to find a minimum of calm and to analyze what happened with a cold mind.

It had seemed like a quiet evening as usual. Pub. Friends. Beer. His favourite combination.

Then, HE had arrived.

Merlin Emrys.

Since meeting him through Percival, just over two months ago, Gwaine did nothing but talking and praising his roommate. He loved him. It was obvious. The attachment to this person was impressive and, since he kept talking about him, the whole group wanted to meet this genius, who graduated with honors in medicine, two years ahead of schedule. Strangely, he was not an Alpha, as confirmed by Gwaine himself on demand by Leon. No, he wasn’t an Alpha, but, by the way Gwaine had skated over his race, the roommate had to be a Beta or, God forbid, an Omega ... No! He could not be an Omega with such grades.

Well, anyway, now he had made himself known. That was for sure.

From the moment he set foot in the pub, Arthur had sensed him.

His smell had crept subtly into his nostrils and Arthur had begun to look for him. It was weird. Sweet. A faint note, almost whispered. Different from the sour smell of the common Betas he interacted with every day.

No one seemed to have noticed. But after all, he was pretty sure that no one else in that pub, apart from him, was a Prime. It was typical of his specie to have a smell tenfold more developed than common Alphas’, so he could pick up even the subtlest smells, those that others could not sense.

He had smelled him from twenty yards away, as soon as he crossed the threshold of the Excalibur. He had seen him stopping a moment and then Gwaine pulling him to their table, as if he was reluctant. When he saw him up close, he was left dumbfounded, his breath caught in his throat.

Who the hell was this creature? Pale as the moon in winter, a thin face with high and sharp cheekbones, full and rosy lips, big, blue eyes as a summer night, which promised just as much heat, set in that perfect oval face, framed by a mane of ebony hair, lying softly on his forehead and ears. The thin neck, long and equally candid, disappeared into a black sweatshirt, possibly making his skin whiter.

His hands were something unique.

He could be a violinist. The fingers were thin, beautiful, long, tapered and they never stopped. One moment, they supercharged the inlays of the table, then clutching his glass, then flew long and light in the midst of his black hair to comb them, now running on his perfect and full lips.

God, those lips.

Arthur had been unable to stop looking at them... when they tended in an open and somewhat sweet smile, he could distinctly sense every single lapillus of pleasure, flaring up under the skin and going straight to his spine.

He. Couldn’t. Stop. Staring. At. Him.

It was absurd.

Moreover, he had to have noticed it too, because in turn Merlin had glanced at Arthur with short and curious gazes at first, then increasingly with longer and more intense ones. Then, he had looked away embarrassed, while the cheekbones redden so tastefully. Even his body language had changed constantly.

At first, his arms were crossed, clearly on the defensive. Then he gradually relaxed. When he realized he was being watched, he had closed himself up like a clam.

Before realizing it, all his senses were already pointing at him as a predator fixes its prey. The hairs on his arms and neck were straight; his whole body was tense, ready, his jaw clenched and his eyes darkened with desire.

Merlin was ... interesting? Beautiful? Desirable?

‘He is just a Beta, Holy Christ! How can you react like this?’

Yet, he wanted him.

He wanted him physically.

The more he lost himself in his blue eyes, the more his instincts as Alpha awakened. His pheromones were flowing, wrapping around their prey, imprinted themselves on Merlin and demanding him, marking him, forcing him to open up, breaking down his defenses in a pure desire to dominate.

It was absurd that a simple Beta could give him those sensations.

Fuck, even an Omega had never had that effect on him.

Nevertheless, at that time, there was no reason. There was just instinct. Pure, simple desire, imprinted in the blood like fire.

Then, it all happened too fast. A joke from Leon. He, explaining to Merlin his point of view in terms of Omegas, and Merlin...reacting.

He reacted. He opposed him. HOW DARED HIM! As he was like a Green Peace for the rights of Omegas.

I’m a Prime, damn. Even those idiots of Betas should know my rank and understand what their place in the society is. He should have kept quiet even if he did not agree with me. He should have shown me respect. Instead, he had dared to argue back?!? To resist me?!? To provoke me?!? Who does he think he is??’

Then the memory of Merlin approaching him froze the blood in his veins.

He could see it again in slow motion, the moment when he leaned toward his ear, exposing the neck under his nose. In another situation, he would have taken it as a lovely gesture of submission to his superiority. The proximity of the warm, white skin and the thin and sweet scent, combined with something like lavender, was going to his head. The tone of his words was like honey on his muscles (ready to snap)…. He was ready to take him, when his brain was able to focus on what the other was saying.

“…is not right for an Omega to bind with an Alpha ... especially, if that Alpha is you ….”

Merlin’s blue eyes in his for a moment …

“…especially, if that Alpha is you ….”

… burned…

“…if that Alpha is you ….”

…like fire!

“…is you…”

What the fuck did he mean?

Before you could argue back, the dark-haired boy was already on the threshold of the pub, Gwaine behind him. The guys around the table had looked astonished. No one had dared to utter a word.

Unable to sustain their looks with the fury in his body, the blonde-haired Alpha had left the pub with no explanation… just his clenching jaw and fists, engraving the skin of his palms with his nails.

When he crossed the threshold of the Excalibur, he swore he could hear some timid laughing behind him.

He did not stop to check, for fear of punching someone's face.

Chapter Text

That morning came too soon, excessively too soon. He had lay awake all night. The timid rays of a pale dawn came in through the closed Venetian blinds, softly enveloping the thin and tired figure lying limply on the bed in the dim light of the room.

Merlin ran a hand over his eyes and then passed it in the midst of his black hair, shaped as after a long battle. The other hand went to creep under the big sweatshirt he wore to sleep. He alighted it on his hairless chest as he took a deep breath and planted his blue eyes on the ceiling, as if he was looking for answers that would never arrive.

All night, he had thought about what had happened, remembering every second a thousand times more in his mind. Too many emotions had upset his existence: fear, anger, desire.

The sweet feel of triumph on an Alpha tickled his mind. His rosy lips stretched in a sweet smile as he thought again about the words that surely had brought Arthur Pendragon to madness, giving him a mixture of anger and pure elation.

He hadn’t felt so well in a long time.

He closed his eyes again to look for that figure imprinted in the shadow of his pupils.

He saw his own mouth an inch from his ear. He drew his tense muscles under the fabric of his sweater; he retraced the shape of his clenched jaw; his red lips tightened into a thin line. His neck with the large Adam's apple that soared restless, while the other swallowed. He saw his blue eyes narrowed and darkened with anger and he felt the warmth of his body, along with his male smell that wafted dominant, wrapping him like a blanket while he lingered, hurting himself in order not to touch him. He was ready to deliver the killing blow...

You're right, my dear Arthur ... is not right for an Omega to bind with an Alpha ... especially, if that Alpha is you….” That moment was….Jesus pure perfection!

He saw himself as he stepped away from his ear, as he placed himself an inch from his red and fleshy lips. Some shivers were overwhelming them. As he watched him in the eye, the sea lost itself in the stormy sky irises of his rival, sending an electrical discharge straight into his lower belly.

He had left to enjoy a well-deserved victory, leaving the Alpha standing there.

He remembered turning around on himself triumphantly to leave the pub, leaving Arthur to deal with his anger. However, he could not remember that the blonde-haired boy had forcefully grabbed him by the arm, pulled him back and then crashed him into a wooden column, capturing his wrists and pinning his hands above his head firmly. 

He did not remember that the Alpha had nailed him where he was, covering him with his hot body and tight muscles, in a clear position of dominance. 

He did not remember that Arthur had mashed their lips together, violently insinuating himself into his mouth, requiring to open it, so that his moist, warm and unpretentious tongue could hunt its twin, forcing it to dance and starting a fight that none of them wanted to lose.                      

He did not remember that his mouth separated from the other to breathe again the air around them, full of pheromones that ended up right in his lungs and in his brain, shouting at him to surrender, to submit.                                                          

He did not remember the moment when Arthur, feeling him giving up, putted a knee between his legs, forcing them to open up to him and making him feel clearly his huge erection, imprisoned in his hot pants. He placed it on his belly as he began to push violently his pelvis against him in an unmistakable movement.                                                                                                      

He did not remember discovering himself excited more than it ever happened to him before; nor did he remembered being surprised to feel his pants painfully tight, while the smell of Arthur’s excitement assailed him, impressing itself on him, marking him as the Alpha domain.                        

He did not remember Arthur grabbing his buttocks so hard that it hurt, in order to push him against his hot sex even more, letting Merlin know who was in charge and to whom he had to submit.                                                                            

He did not remember that Arthur had planted a hand through his hair and pulled his head to the side, creeping into the crook of his neck, which Arthur had thoroughly sniffed and licked with that hot and humid tongue on the sensitive and special point where you create the Bond.                    

He did not remember how Arthur’s deep and dominant voice had dramatically increased his pleasure by blowing on that point and crumbling miserably his defenses.                                                                                                                                    

He did not remember the Alpha growling lowly:                                                                                                                                        

"You're mine, Merlin. You will learn to obey me and I will fuck you with such a violence that you will not have enough breath to beg me to stop. I will give you my Knot and I will fill your belly with my seed so much and so many times that you will always be pregnant with my children. I will put so many inside of you that you will not be even able to walk. Your smell will change, bringing my name engraved on every pore… because now you are Mine. I will kill anyone who dares to look at you. You're my Omega. Mine and only Mine”.        

He did not remember that after those words, Arthur had bitten him, sinking his teeth into the soft flesh in the crook of his neck, claiming him as his. While he was abandoning himself against the body of HIS Alpha, shocked by the pleasure procured by the Bond, in an endless ecstasy made of odors, hormones and a sense of belonging.

Merlin opened his eyes suddenly, his cheeks flushed, short breath, a damp disaster covering his belly and a hand involuntarily close around his still pulsating erection.

He did not remember any of all that.

Yet, his brain was sending him the same vivid images.

Truer than ever.

He felt a heart pang and he could not say whether it was of relief or annoyance. Nothing he had imagined (because he had imagined it) had happened. Arthur had just stayed paralyzed there, while Merlin was leaving the pub.

Yet, he continued to see (and to his dismay to want) Arthur on him, against him and to feel him as he had never felt anyone before. He was forced to deal with and to fight the only element against which he knew he would always lose… his own nature.

Being an Omega was also this and, even if it was a bitter bite, he had to admit that somehow Arthur was right, after all. An Omega wanted, craved above all else to have an Alpha ready to take care of him, protect him, reassure him, love him and satisfy him sexually.

Despite the fact that suppressants helped him to calm his instincts and his hormones, his nature could not avoid but cry out to his brain and his body that something was deeply wrong in that forced abstinence, in spending his heat alone, comforted only by silicone and rubber objects. He used them to suppress his needs, but they were poor surrogates for a free bonded Omega without an Alpha taking him and making him his.

After the first year of living with Gwaine, one morning, Merlin had asked him what he found so extraordinary in Alphas to make him return at 5am, permeated with the smell of sex imprinted on his clothes. In response, the brown-haired boy with a Disney charm blossomed with a catlike smile and gave Merlin one of his many pearls of wisdom.

“Merlin, I hate to tell you but you're a fool to deny yourself the pleasures of life. You cannot know it, my dear virgin little elephant. None of your toys can even remotely make you understand what it feels like to have a beautiful Alpha cock inside your body to satisfy you. And note that I'm a Beta and naturally, I do not have your Omega needs … You know that stuff about hormones, dripping and needs such as 'you're mine and I'm yours'….that stuff? Well, I do not have it and yet, I cannot deny that once I tried the original, I stopped using the ... let's call them... latex imitations haahhahahahha”

That time, Merlin had to withhold himself from punching him to death, probably because he knew that Gwaine was right, in the end. After all, who is the cause of his ill, should only cry for himself...

However, in his mind, his hate for Alphas bordered only the hatred he felt for his own nature as a weak and needy being. He would never, NEVER give himself to an Alpha, no matter who.  He would never subdue to his nature, he would never agree to have a master and to live for the love of a pumped arrogant man, unable to listen to him and needy to fuck Merlin every days in order to produce offspring.

Yet, he could not deny that there was an unbearable sadness behind that reasoning.

“Merlin, are you alright? We're out of milk! We need to buy...Oh Jesus, Merl! WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO?“ Said Gwaine, entering the door suddenly. He had the clear intention to wake his flatmate, but he remained paralyzed in front of the dark-haired boy lying on the bed, half-naked, with the remnants of his erection in his hand and his pleasure on his belly.  Merlin looked at him like a fish.

Merlin's mouth closed while Gwaine’s opened. Merlin's eyes were full of fire while Gwaine’s were shelled. A moment later, something white and fluffy went and hit the intruder straight in the face, leaving him dumbfounded. In the meantime, the dark-haired boy (who had become of all the rainbow colors) covered himself in a hurry with the fleece and the blankets, yelling:

“GWAINE, WHAT THE FUCK! HOW MANY TIMES I TOLD YOU TO KNOCK BEFORE ENTERING IN MY ROOM?!”

Gwaine’s laughter made Merlin even more furious. His friend was holding the pillow that he had launched, laughing like a maniac. He positioned himself at a safe distance from the bed to avoid being hit by other blunt objects.

“And why should I knock? My little big-ears professor doesn’t do these things...right, Merl?  Oh God, I think this is the first time in my life I see a failure on your part. HALLELUJAH!

Even my insane ears bearer 'touches' himself, and you are not even in heat! The miracle had happened! Welcome to the twenty-first century Merl! You know… I started to stop hopping...”

“GWAINE STOP NOW!” yelled the dark-haired boy. His face as red as the sweatshirt he was wearing. The other man passed him a packet of tissues, resting on the nightstand next to him, a thirty-six teeth smile on his face.

“Do you need help? You know, to...”

“GWAINE...I will not bother you by describing the details of the unmentionable way in which I will kill you if you do not get out of this room immediately!”

“But I just wanted to help you... You know, I was getting worried before. I was in the kitchen, when I distinctly heard you say (or beg) ‘Arthur...’, ‘Arthur no....’” said Gwaine with his hands to his cheeks, rolling his eyes upward and miming a desperate lustful voice.  “So, I could not resist the temptation to see what was happening! Et voilà! Fuck, if I knew that Artie would have made you ‘human', I’d have introduced him to you sooner!       Well, in fact he is a great cool guy…I must admit it. If I were not with Percival, I would probably let him fuck me willingly...”

“Gwaine...!”

“Oh no no no calm down! I will not touch him!”

“GWAINE!”

“Ok ok… In the meanwhile, I'll get the milk. You have a shower and then we’ll see each other in the kitchen for breakfast in twenty minutes so...we’ll talk...” said the brown-hair man, leaving the room happy like a fool and closing the door behind.                  

Merlin sank on the bed with a thud, his hands pressed over his eyes, while he bit his lower lip, thinking about the implications of what had just happened.

MISERABLY SCREWED, AGAIN!!!

***

Gwaine went out of the flat in his pajamas and dressing gown and, with mobile phone in hand, began to compose messages a mile a minute.

G: Hi Percy! What r u doing?

P: Hey, honey! I’m going to the match. What about you?

G:  I’m going to buy milk to the grocery store near home! Maybe an apple, too! About yesterday?

P: Artie left with his tail between his legs. Shit, I did not know if he was more excited or angry! Anyway, it had been too funny!!! Merlin had impressed him...

G: And you don’t know the news!!!

P: What do you mean???

G: you won’t believe it!

P: come on! Tell me!

G: Merl likes Artie!

P: Bullshit! Are you drunk?

G: what do you think? It’s 9 am in the morning!  -_-

P: what happened? Talk!

G: I caught Merl in... let's say… shady attitudes with Artie’s name on his lips!

P: shady attitudes?  O_O’

G: Handjob....

P: DON’T TELL ME! Merlin?!? Your virgin roommate who hates Alphas likes the only Alpha who hates Omegas? Oh God! It seems such a joke!

G: Oh, he could never hate you! You are adorable, my strong and wiry Alpha. I feel so lonely without you.

P: Don’t tell me these things, otherwise I will get there and rape you among the vegetables of the market. You are mine! You know it!

G: Lol!!! Anyway, here we need a Council of War. Will you rally the others, please?

P: Of course! I’ll see to it now!

G: Warn the General in the meantime. Tell her everything. She will decide the next moves! And keep an eye on Artie! Stay near him and work him out.

P: Will do, my love. Talk to you later. I love you. Be good and go home. I do not like to know you are out without me!

G: Don’t be a possessive Alpha!

P: But I’m an Alpha! Mine is not a request. Go back! Ok? Otherwise, I'll have to punish you tonight...

G: Can’t wait for it!

As soon as Gwaine set foot in the house, he noticed the absolute silence. Useless to call: Merlin had fled from the apartment in record time.            

The handsome man smiled catlike and bit into his juicy apple. He started to plan as he put the milk in the fridge...

***

When he returned to the apartment that night, Merlin had Gwaine summoned to his room to give him the three golden rules that he had given birth to during a day of intense thoughts. They were:

1) Do not talk to him about Arthur Pendragon ever again

2) To forget what had happened that morning

3) Never, under any circumstances, talk to Percival or anyone else about what he had seen and heard in his room that morning

 

“Ok, ok genius! These three rules are bullshits! However, I want to do a little game with you: admit that you like Arthur and I will follow your rules!” exclaimed Gwaine with hands on his hips in defiance.

“I don’t like Arthur Pendragon! It was a coincidence and I...I have never called his name... I just had a wet dream! It’s natural for any man not accustomed to ... well you know!” said blunt Merlin, while putting on his pajamas and changing the bed, still unmade from that morning.                    

He tried desperately to avoid the scrutiny gaze of the other.

“As if... but I am not called Gwaine, in truth I’m Sheena, Queen of the Jungle...Come on, Merl… it’s not like you’ll die, if you admit that you find him attractive”

Merlin turned to his roommate, placing himself an inch from him and planting his blue eyes straight in Gwaine’s with his index finger a millimeter from his nose. His hair still messy, his cheekbones red and an exasperation shouted loud and clear by the trembling of his body:

“I.DON’T.LIKE.ARTHUR.PENDRAGON! You know how I feel about Alphas and come on ... have you heard as he thinks? A zucchini has more intelligence than him!”

“If you do not admit the truth, I will not give you respite until you do!”

“Do as you want. I will not admit anything because there is nothing to admit. It was only chemistry, Gwaine. I was exposed to too many Alpha pheromones last night and it sent my brain in confusion. Nothing more!”

“But you were under the effect of the suppressants!!!”

“I know that, but he is a Prime! It’s possible that my body has rebelled the drug because of the idea of the Bond, rather than because of the attraction toward the Alpha himself!”

“Bullshit, Merlin! In these years, you have been in contact with many Alphas and I'd never seen you like this! Last night, the air between you and Artie could be cut with a knife and served with Tea, thick as it was. Not all Alphas make you feel like that! In years, you had never wanted to tie yourself to anyone and all of a sudden, your body wakes up and begins to follow his natural Omega instincts? You want the Bond because Arthur impressed you deeply… you have to admit it!”

“I do not want neither the Bond nor Arthur!! It’s just that he managed to awake the most animal part of my nature. I do not even know why! Moreover, I don’t want it! I have never wanted it!”

“Are you doing it again, Merl? Are you locking yourself back in your ivory tower where no one can reach you? Why can’t you give in? Why do you deny yourself not only love but also the idea of attraction toward someone? God, for the first time in your life, you've had a wank thinking about Arthur and you cannot even admit that you like him! You're just a coward!”

Merlin closed his eyes, praying to all the gods of the universe to come to his aid and not let him smash the face of his best friend.

“GWAINE, STOP! JUST STOP! DEAL WITH IT! DON’T TRY TO SEE WHAT’S NOT THERE, BECAUSE THERE’S NOTHING TO SEE! I’M LIKE THIS AND YOU CAN’T CHANGE ME!”

In response, Gwaine looked at him with a mixture of sadness and compassion. He saw before him his lifelong friend with his slender body shaken by tremors of anger, as he tried to escape from himself and his feelings once again… his eyes were shining, his lips swollen and his cheeks burning.

He would have embraced him in that moment because, behind those screams, he saw the huge fragility of a castle that was falling apart.                

He looked down, unable to meet the blue gaze of the other and exited, whispering to himself, “We’ll see about that...!”

***

It was about midnight the next day, when the General made her entrance at the Excalibur, heading immediately toward the Round Table, where the War Council was already there.

Gwaine, Percival, Mordred, Lance, Leon and Elyan greeted the tall willowy dark-haired woman, called Morgana Pendragon, with big smiles, standing up in turns to go and greet her. She kissed all their cheeks, turning a warm smile to everyone and exchanging a few pleasantries, before taking a seat on a stool and ordering beer and chips. She officially started the meeting.

The Round Table met in the War Council at least once a year and all the times that in the small group of friends there were tensions or difficulties, requiring an extraordinary session. All the members were bound by friendship and a strong sense of belonging. Among them, there were no secrets and those revealed during the Council, there remained. The purpose of the Council was to help each other. If even one of them had a problem, the Council met and planed how to solve it or how to give a hand in a kind of mutual aid.

God knows if this time, the situation needed it.

The subjects on the agenda were Arthur Pendragon and Merlin Emrys.

Morgana’s white and slender fingers emerged from the Valentino bag, lying limply on the ground, revealing a red folder with the golden symbol of Pendragon Law Firm imprinted on it. The girl put it on the old antique wooden table, so that everyone could see it, and loudly pronounced:

“Well, my friends. Apparently, we are here for an emergency meeting...” She said, smiling and lifting the wonderful and deep green eyes from the folder to place them on the Knights. “Who is going to tell me all I need to know about the issue?”

Percival raised his hand and Morgana gave him permission to talk with a slow wave of her hand, to which the boy replied, after looking to his teammates. He began to tell the long black haired General what had happened the previous Saturday night. He told her about Merlin’s arrival at the Round Table; the clear attraction between Arthur and him that everyone had noticed; Leon’s commented on the waitress (the Knight gave a little slap on his wrist as to scold himself); Artie’s reaction and Merlin’s counter-reaction, which culminated in a disaster.                                                  

Morgana drank every word of Percy’s story, whose impressions his friends around him often confirmed and supported. She often stroked her long black hair that hung limply on her shoulders and made precise questions on the situation.

“I find it amazing that my brother has expressed, even if not in words, a so obvious attraction towards someone. Normally, he is cold and detached about heart issues. It is very rare for him to engage himself truly into a relationship. The only person I've ever seen him sincerely attracted to in this respect was Guinevere... but we all know how it went with her. By the way, Lance, everything all right between the two of you?” She finished the sentence, raising her eyebrow and drowning her green eyes in Lance’s He had a half smile painted on the face as he answered.

“It is Gana. Gwen and I are fine ... together!”

Everyone sincerely laughed, giving sound pats on Lancelot’s back, who had inflamed cheeks. He was still not used to speak aloud about him and his girlfriend, especially because of what happened with Arthur.

“Well, if the attraction between our two lovebirds is so powerful, I do not see the problem. We help them to meet and to create situations in which the two of them can date.  It’s true that Artie can explode when provoked and he will not go easy on Merlin, but it is also true that he is not rancorous. If we create the right atmosphere, I foresee a great victory...” said Morgana to the group, seeking their approval.

“It is not so simple...” said Gwaine, intervening in the discussion. “...it is obvious that what I will say here is just for your ears and, like everything that is said in the War Council, is and must remain strictly secret.” pointed out the brown-haired one looking at the members of the small clan who got closer to share the dark mystery.

“What is the problem, Gwaine?”  The General urged him.

“We have three problems and they are not of little relevance. The first and most important one is that Merlin is an unbond Omega and, as we all know, Arthur doesn’t like Omegas... especially if males!”

For a moment, all the members of the Council were astonished and then, looked at each other in the eyes.

“What are you saying, Gwaine?!” said Elyan, breaking the silent.  “Merlin had no smell. We all thought he was a Beta like you...”

“No! He’s not! He is an Omega,” concluded Gwaine, bringing his eyes to the Knights. “I've known him since we were little, we practically grew up together. Many years ago, his cousin Will, who was like a brother for us, died because of the problems he had with his Alpha: he committed suicide. This brings us to our second problem: Will’s death had hurt and upset Merlin deeply. It made him develop an intense hatred for your kind and now he lives of suppressants, which cover his smell and inhibit heavily his Omega instincts, making him much more like us Betas.” He sighed dejected, crossing his arms over his chest, while the others reflected on his words, starting to look for possible solutions.

“And the third problem?” Morgana asked to Gwaine.

“Merlin likes Arthur... I am sure of it; do not ask me the details but I KNOW IT. However, he is very torn and he’ll never admit it easily, especially because Arthur is an Alpha. He must become aware of it slowly and by himself. The problem is: does Arthur like Merlin? Or, after his joke on Saturday night, he does not want to meet him anymore? I’d not blame him too much after the lecture that my flatmate gave him...”

Morgana seemed to assimilate all the information for a moment, closing her eyes, then, she opened them and began to explain her thesis: 

“Regarding the first aspect, well, I must tell you that in all sincerity I’m almost glad that Merlin is an Omega. Arthur does not hate them, nor does he despise them. Behind his behavior, there is only a deep insecurity and it is time that my brother begins to face his fears for once… although, I recognize that it will be a challenge!" said the dark-haired woman, continuing to torture a tuft of hair.

“I’m sorry, Gana, but I cannot believe that the Alpha par excellence, 'fears' Omegas...I tell you, he’d eat them in one bite in the morning! I have never seen your brother afraid of something... he has a strong character" Leon argued, opening his palms upward and looking around for the approval of his fellows, who could not do anything but agree.

“You do not know him as much as I do." She replied firmly with an undisguised sad note in her voice, while planting her eyes on the veining of the table....“You should know that, before our mother’s death, our father was a staunch supporter of unions between Alphas. After all, my brother and I are Primes... Let's say that to convince Arthur of the goodness of his ideas, Uther had seen it fit to take him to a Fertilization Center, in order to inform him about the facts of life...” She paused a moment to bring her eyes on her interlocutors, that seemed intrigued and shocked all together.  "...the problem is that Artie was only five years old, when he attended for the first time to the reproduction between our two species and what he saw in that institute has upset him so much that since then, his way of relating to Omegas has changed dramatically. Rather than hate or fear them, he is afraid of what he might do to them during his Domination Phase. That’s why he keeps them away and does not want to deal with them...but he is an Alpha and, as such, he is attracted to them, despite what he says, and Merlin is the clearest proof of that!"

“But Arthur thinks Merlin is a Beta. That’s why he was attracted to him. If he knew he was an Omega, he would immediately stop it, despite of what you've just told us!” Mordred interrupted her seriously, with his hands crossed on his glass of beer.

“This is not entirely true...” said Gana, biting into a chip. “Prime can perceive things and feel odors that other Alphas do not smell or are indifferent to. We are more sensitive and controlled by nature than a normal Alpha. I cannot believe that Arthur has not perceived the scent of an unbond Omega. Medicines fail to make the smell of a person disappear completely; they can only inhibit the production of pheromones but never completely. Probably, Arthur’s mind simply rejects what he does not want to accept or feel. Being Merlin’s contrail definitely weak and hardly perceptible, my brother’s brain has catalogued him as a Beta, but I’ll bet my boots that his animal sixth sense already knows too well he is an Omega!” Morgana finished, wiping her hands and taking a sip of beer. Then, she continued.

“Regarding the second problem, namely the hatred of Merlin towards Alphas, well... we have to make him understand that we cannot all be seen as the Alpha that caused the death of your friend Will. We love our Omegas. Such situations are really rare.... Percy, Gwaine, this task is yours. You have to start talking to Merlin about your relationship and all of us will make him feel accepted and well-liked in the group. When he’ll realize that we are not monsters, his Omega nature will do the rest. My brother is a fine male specimen and I'm sure that Merlin will not be able to suppress his instincts forever ... nor will Artie. And here we reconnect directly to the third non-issue: Arthur likes Merlin a lot and has certainly not intention to let him go!” She added, curling her lips into a thin smile.           

She opened the red folder that she had previously placed on the table, revealing the content to the intrigued Knights: pictures, drive license and various documents … all about one person...

“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the world of Merlin Emrys. On Sunday, when there was no one, my brother went into our law firm and there, he researched in our 'private' database, finding all the findable things about a certain Dr. Merlin Emrys: photos, curriculum, graduation, address, school yearbooks and current job ... in short, all you need to know. I know about it, because we have recently installed CCTV, recording the access to our computers 24 hours on 24. Fortunately, I was the only one to realize the intrusion, erasing everything before our father could find out. Arthur came in and out in less than half an hour and he would not have risked it, if he did not care about the object of his research. The fact that he did it in secret is indicative: he does not want Uther or me to horn in on. Fortunately, one of the few information you cannot find in the databases to which we have access is the Seed of the subject. So, I exclude that Artie knows that Merlin is an Omega!” Morgana sighed with a grin evidently shared by the members of the Council.

“Well, in the light of all this, it seems feasible! As usual, you're great, Morgana.” said Percival, lovingly clutching the shoulders of his partner.

“Gentlemen, let’s lift our glasses! Let’s throw ourselves in the challenge without fear. Or glory or death!” said Morgana, standing up and raising her glass.

Immediately, all the smiling Knights rose to toast, echoing her, “Or glory or death!!!” they shouted before slamming the glasses against each other, laughing as it didn’t happen in a long time.

The dark plots started…

Chapter Text

In a damp Sunday of March, the evening shadows were already peeping through the window, when Arthur pulled his nose from the documents, accidentally stolen from the private archives of his father’s Law Firm that morning. He had been studying them for hours, escaping from the outside world.

Among the papers in front of him towered a school yearbook photo of a beautiful brunet boy with pale skin, large ears, high cheekbones, deep blue eyes, full lips and a sweet and open smile. The same picture that was branding itself in his mind, as well as the smile that he kept seeing in front of him, every time he closed his eyes.

Merlin Emrys. Twenty-seven years old. His mother and father died in a car accident when he was only four years old. Bred and raised in the countryside by his uncle, Gaius, physician specialized in obstetrics. He moved with his relative to town when he began attending Cambridge University, thanks to a handsomely deserved scholarship.

He graduated with honors in medicine a full two years ahead of his school program. After two years of training in hospital, he got a brilliant PhD, specializing in orthopedics and traumas. Besides serving twice a week in traumatology and rehabilitation at the J. Redcliff Hospital as a volunteer, he currently runs a small but well-initiated medical study with his uncle in Headington, where he lives, sharing a small two floors flat with Gwaine in Ramsay Rd.

That name and that face were already going to his head.

He had left Excalibur the night before, quivering with anger and only thinking about erasing that arrogant Beta, who obviously did not know his place, along with the rest of that disastrous evening. Back in his room in the university campus, he soon discovered that the darkness, in which he wanted to drown, remained him always of the same face. Always that smile. Always that scent that ignited his senses and that now was depriving him of his sleep.

Fuck you, Arthur! Stop it!

However, Merlin was obviously determined not to let him sleep that night, and his mind raged over him repeatedly, as the crash of waves…slow but steady. Again, over those damned lips; again, over those irreverent eyes; again those high cheekbones and that skin, so pale, as to beg to be marked; again, over those words that had distilled fire in his blood. Moreover, the more he tried to push him away, to tarnishing his memory, the more the dark-haired boy came back strongly in his thoughts, forcing Arthur into a drowsiness, which resembled a torture.

Take me, Arthur.

He yelled.

He whispered.

Tame me.

He hated him so much.

Claim me.

He liked him so much.

He was the first Beta he had ever seen to have the balls to oppose him. Jesus, it was incredible that he didn’t suffer his influence, or at least that he didn’t suffer it so much to prevent him to talk back. Betas had a definite place in the society: UNDERNEATH. ALPHAS.

Yet, Merlin, with a huge naturalness, seemed to evade this simple law, etched in stone and in their nature since the beginning of times. Well, it didn’t matter. Arthur would make him understand soon.

He wanted him. It was useless to deny it. As soon as he had felt him entering the pub that evening, he immediately understood and immediately, he had wanted him. Somehow, Merlin had to be his.

He should have been his.

He would be his.

***

The action plan was on and it seemed like luck was on his side.

First rule: know your enemy.

During the first week, after his law classes, followed by the blonde-haired man with a concentration less than poor, Percival invited him several times to get coffee at the campus before football trainings and often, Gwaine joined them. If Arthur sought to extort extra information about Merlin, he got much more than he had been hoping for. Percy’s mate was strangely prolix on the subject, not sparing any details about his life with the dark-haired boy.

He seemed to do it on purpose...

By the end of the week, Pendragon knew almost everything there was to know about the beautiful young doctor. Apparently, Merlin suffered of eating disorders: he never had breakfast, he ate a light lunch (if eating) and he allowed himself to eat a little more in the evening. Generally accurate, timely and orderly. He had never had a serious relationship in his life, preferring to study medicine to anything else.

Being a committed propagandist, he had taken part in the so-called "Purple Revolution": a group of activists who fought for equal rights of Omegas and against the laws regarding the Mandatory Procreation. That explained the reaction he had when Arthur had exposed his ideas about the relationship between the two species... although he did not think to have been so insulting.

As for his sexual orientation, well.... Gwaine bet that he didn’t disdain male company, never having seen him going out with a girl in his life. However, it was hard to tell because of the way Gwaine painted him: Merlin was like a priest.

He did not drink, did not smoke and did not touch himself.

If this magical triad had left Arthur pleasantly surprised (a virgin territory to discover), the rest of the details on the life of his prey left him quite puzzled.

Merlin never let anyone get too close to his world, probably for fear of suffering. The loss of his parents at an early age had already made him suffer enough, and his cousin Will’s suicide, who was just twenty at the time, had deeply upset him, instilling in him the absurd belief that those he loves are destined to end up badly. Even Gwaine, lifelong friend, could never penetrate too deeply into that inner and obscure world, made of bristling walls with thorns; behind which, the brunet barricaded himself too often.

The thing that worried Arthur the most was the hatred Merlin felt towards Alphas. It placed Arthur in a problematic disadvantage.

It was Friday night and the campus bar was crowded with young men for an aperitif, as usual. Arthur sat limply at a table, along with Percy and Gwaine. Both boys and girls gave him glances that left no doubts or misunderstandings. He was excessively accustomed to it. Too bad that the only eyes that interested him had not even looked at him. The topic of the conversation was always the same and after the second cocktail, Gwaine had given away to the memories.

Will's death was a rupture of Merlin’s life. From what he could understand from Gwaine’s story, the cousin was an Omega. When he was eighteen, his College professors, an Alpha, approached him, surprising Will during his heat and raping him into the Bond. Thereafter, the same Alpha, unable to impregnate his Omega, had started to blame him of their problems. He accused Will of not being fertile enough; threatened to sever the Bond if Will would not give him a son soon and he became cold, unfriendly and violent against Will. Merlin, seeing his cousin’s depressive state, had tried to talk to him and to convince him to leave the Alpha, before he managed to hurt him even more, but Will was tied and could not leave.

Gwaine still remembered the afternoon when Will called for the last time.

“We were having tea at Gaius’s house. We were still in College and I was always at Merlin’s house, before we moved in together. Merlin had the cup in his hand and we were laughing about nothing... Then, the phone rang. Merlin answered and his expression changed immediately. I will never forget how he had started to tighten up the phone. I went to hear who it was and the voice on the other side of the phone was Will’s. The more the other talked and cried, the more Merlin became paler. He kept saying ‘No, Will, don’t do it. We’ll find another way. Jesus, calm down and don’t do anything stupid. I’m coming, Will, wait for me. Wait for me, please...’. Gaius was out, we didn’t know where. Therefore, we took our bikes and we went to the villa where Will and his captor lived. Jesus, Merlin broke down the front door by kicking it. Can you image it? He, small and skinny seventeen years old, who threw himself against that door... we entered into the house, calling Will, but no one answered. We looked in all the rooms, but in the end, it was the sound of running water to make us unable to breathe. We went into the bathroom. Will was there. In the tub full of overflowing water. Marble skin, eyes closed, pale lips, wrists cut to the nerve and a pool of blood all around. For a moment, I went in tilt. Before I could recover, Merlin had already entered the bathtub and hugged Will tightly. God, he called him repeatedly and he would not let him go. I remember that I had to lift him away from the lifeless body of his cousin by force, while screaming and crying. After the funeral, he spent a whole month in bed. Wide and lifeless eyes. He did not speak with anyone. He did not eat. His uncle fed him though I.V... I thought he wouldn’t have recovered. But what does not kill you makes you stronger, although at the cost of great sacrifices.

After that, Merlin was never the same. He cursed Alphas for their twisted nature, blaming them for Will’s death. He cursed Omegas for their fragility and their need of Alphas to live. Above all, he cursed himself for not being able to save the man he considered a brother from a horrible and announced death. He cursed his weakness and took the blame. From that day on, he began to have feeding problems. I seriously think they are due to the fact that he doesn’t, consciously or unconsciously, want to attract a mate. He does not take care of himself, at all and he barely eats. When I hug him, I have to be careful because I'm afraid to hurt him most of the time...”

Arthur took the beer bottle to his lips and took a long sip.

The reasoning didn’t bat an eye. Alphas and Omegas instinctively sought a fit and healthy specimen as a mate for a thousand of good reasons. Omegas favored toned and muscular Alphas that could vigorously claim, protect and defend them. Alphas had fewer expectations: their Omega mate simply had to be healthy and fertile so he could be suitable to breeding and to complete more than one successful pregnancy.

No Alpha or Omega would instinctively chose Merlin as a mate because, despite the sheer beauty of his face, his body was too thin, angular and pale. He did not seem to glow with health. This was clearly a strategy of his and in fact, even Arthur had to admit that to see him so skinny bothered him.

“Don’t worry, Arthur” said Gwaine to the blonde man, that had not realized that he had put on a face so worried to be misunderstood, “...Merlin will resume eating normally sooner or later, I'm sure!”

“Of course, Gwaine. It is none of my business! I hope for him that he will resume eating soon. Maybe, it will improve his personality as well...” said Arthur with a tight smile as he finished his beer, trying not to catch the provocation.

The brown-haired man clung more to Percival as if he needed to feel him. Then, he stood up with him, starting to get dressed to go home and to prepare for the evening. “He will resume eating when he will be able to let go of the ghosts of his past, Arthur. He will resume living, when he finds someone who will love him for who he is, not for what he should be or look like... and when he will be able to forgive himself and to allow himself to love someone.”

Arthur smiled bitterly when, after saying goodbye, he saw them going away hand in hand.

After all he had heard, he just wanted to go at Merlin’s house, knock on the door, hug him and hold him. The purely Alpha need to nurse, to care for and to protect that creature, so beautiful and fragile but with an untamable spirit was so strong that it hurt his heart, tearing him apart from inside.

Shit, How could a simple Beta do this to him?!? He was like a drug! A sweet poison that had lit his senses and from which he could not break away.

God, he wanted him so much that he could kill to have him.

When the waitress brought him the bill, he looked at it for a moment before tearing it apart, curling his lip with disappointment. A phone number and a name were written on it, as it usually happened. Only God knew how much it pissed him off thinking about anyone else but Merlin.

Before being able to articulate any other thought, Arthur had already got in his car, speeding away from the campus in the dark of the night.

***

That Friday evening, Merlin did not expect any visits. As usual, Gwaine was out with his boyfriend. Therefore, the house was free and silent. As Merlin liked it.

The brunet came out of the shower, he dried himself quickly and looked at himself in the mirror. The long lines of his body seemed carved into alabaster. He was pale and perfectly defined, with the chest wide and flat as the belly. Only the muscles were slightly hinted on the abdomen. The black hair of his groin, just below the navel, contrasted with the incredibly snowy complexion of his reflection. In the midst of it, his penis lay limply.  It was long and slender like the rest of his limbs.

Raising his arms, he saw the skin stretching on the clearly exposed ribs. He was too thin and he knew it. However, he did not want to eat anything. Gwaine had rummaged everything that was in the fridge and he did not want to go out to get something to the near grocery store.

He looked at himself with those blue eyes, finding them oddly intense behind the black and wet hair that fell messily over his forehead.

Then, him.

As always, in his mind.

An Unexpected but welcome guest, with whom it was always difficult to deal.

He was alone with himself in that small warm tarnished by steam nest, stripped not only physically but also mentally. He felt exposed and fragile and he did not like that, at all. He was afraid to look at what was inside of him, as if he was on a slide.

After almost a week during which he did not see him, struggling with himself, with Gwaine not to think about what had happened, he decided to allow himself a break, and to stop fighting, making himself be invaded by the thought of HIM.

He closed his eyes just to see that blue gaze on himself.

I wonder what Arthur has thought about me that night…

I wonder if he has liked me. At least physically...

Of course, it is unlikely with this body. He could easily have better. Someone like him has definitely someone that warms his bed during the night. Someone who does not have my problems, who does not treat him as shit when he sees him and who does not hate his Seed.

Who does not challenge him, ticking him off and who does respects him as an Alpha.

Jesus! I was an Idiot.

However, he was an idiot, too! Listen how he talks about Omegas! We "tempt him"…oh God, but how can he be such an asshole??!!

So, if he is such an asshole and so Alpha, why I cannot get rid of him?

Because I seem to feel him. Inside. Always.

He opened his eyes when he realized that his hand was on his crotch, imprisoning his already swollen sex. Upset, he removed it immediately, putting the palm on the sink and shaking his head, in complete embarrassment.

NO! STOP, MERLIN. YOU ARE NOT AN ANIMAL.

That said, he finished drying and put on a light gray tracksuit. Warm and soft. He loved to wear clothes clearly two or three sizes too big for him. He loved to feel wrapped in tissue without constrictions.

Despite spring being near, the air was still cool, so Merlin thought to light up the small fireplace in the living room. He settled in the armchair near the large window, overlooking the small garden and the street. Perfect. He loved to be like this. In peace and quiet. The fireplace on one side and the romantic light of the dusk out of the window to cuddle him.

He took his laptop and began to look at new techniques invented for rehabilitation, bone calcification, fairness of the procedures for the cast...

***

Arthur stopped the car around the corner of Ramsey Rd. Coming out of the car; he shrugged his leather jacket, firmly planting his hands in the pockets of his jeans. He walked briskly toward the number 24, where his research had placed Merlin’s house.

He just wanted to see him. He hoped to see him ... he knew that he would not really dare to knock and say, “Here I am, I'm the asshole of last Saturday. Do you still want to plant a knife between my shoulder blades, or can we talk?”... Therefore, he was happy to stop across the street and just observe the small house surrounded by ivy, with a small, well-kept garden in front of it.

The large windows on the first floor, showed the warm reflections of a fire, probably lit in a fireplace inside the room… out of his sight.

He could not resist the damned temptation to approach it.

Therefore, he did.

He entered the small garden, approaching the big window, which took almost the entire front wall of the house. He peered inside, feeling his heart in his ears. The gold reflections stroked the white skin of the figure crouched in the armchair by the window, clearly asleep.

The marble skin had taken on soft warm reflections; the high cheekbones were lightly colored; the full mouth was soft and completely relaxed; the slender body, wrapped in a large tracksuit that gently drew the contours of his body; the black as ink hair was slightly wet and shiny on his forehead.

God, what a sight he was.

The completely absent tension on that face made him sweeter than ever.

He had seen him only once on the Saturday before. Then, every night and every single second of every single day. He had not fully realized how much he had missed his face until he saw him again.

Therefore, he stood there immersed in the night, motionless, his breath broken in his throat, watching the man he wanted. Whom he had chosen for himself.

He stood there, looking at him, until the moment Merlin suddenly opened his eyes and looked at him in turn, losing the blue of his eyes in Arthur’s sky ones...

***

Merlin regained consciousness gently. With still lowered eyelids, he became aware he had fallen asleep, but was in no hurry to wake up completely. He opened his eyes and saw Arthur before him, beyond the window, wrapped in the shadows of the evening. He thought he saw the contours of Arthur’s face; his lips; his blue eyes, worshiping Merlin and his pure gold hair, shining silver under the moonlight. His heart suddenly quickened, shaking away the numbness of sleep.

He rubbed his eyes unceremoniously, hoping to see him again in front of him, but once he focused better on the contours of the window; he saw that there was no one out there.

He was wrong. Inside his heart, the bitter note of a betrayed hope made him lower his eyes.

As always, his brain had played him a bad joke.

God, I have to get him out of my head!

He rose from his armchair, putting his hand on his chest under the tracksuit, stretching as he went into the kitchen to get a glass of water, yawning.

When he returned to the room, he could not resist the temptation to look outside, where he thought he had seen Arthur. It was true that he had just woken up and that he probably had the brains numb from exhaustion, but the image of the other was so clear... was it possible that he was really becoming mad?

With his heart in his throat and a bit of shame, he opened the door slowly, not knowing what to expect. He held his breath and opened his eyes, taking a few steps out.

He was alone.

Jesus Merlin, did you really think that the God of Alphas was looking for you to take you away on his white horse? Come on...

He was about to go back in, when he saw something on the ground that choked the breath in your lungs. He rested his long fingers on the small rectangular white package, laid carefully and strategically close to the jamb of the door. He held it to his chest. Above, it was engraved the gold inscription ‘Cristie's Bakery’, the best bakery of the city.

And how has it ended up here?!?

He looked out again but saw no one...

He opened the box where he was and the smell of freshly baked oil focaccia invaded his nostrils, gently caressing his senses. It was his favorite... Who the hell could have deliv...

He did not finish. His heart began to accelerate heavily in his chest, while he was starting to suspect that perhaps it had not been a dream... maybe it really was... No! Highly unlikely if not absolutely impossible. It was probably Gwaine’s idea. Only he knew that this particular focaccia, of that particular bakery, was his favorite. He probably felt guilty to have forgotten to do the shopping and to have left him nothing to eat. He must have seen him asleep from the window and, not to wake him up, he had left out that little gift. Yes, this is what had happened! Yet, it would have been nice if...

His stomach gurgled loudly, interrupting his thoughts.

He was...hungry? Was it possible?

He took a piece of bun, he smelled it for a moment and he brought it to his mouth with circumspection.

It’s delicious he thought as he licked his oiled fingers and gave a last look on the street.

Still clutching the package against his chest, he went back into the house with a big smile, unaware that around the corner of the street two blue and curious eyes did not lose any of his moves...

***

 

Merlin yawned loudly as he opened the door of the bedroom, going down to the kitchen, where Gwaine was preparing pancakes... he must have gone to buy the ingredients that morning because the fridge was empty last night...

“Good morning my little elephant!” said the brown-haired man, always in a good mood, approaching him and hugging him in a particularly radiant way, “Ok, so, first of all, I apologize if yesterday I did not go to the grocery store. But this morning, I made pancakes, to amend! Come on, even you cannot resist uncle Gwaine’s sweets!”- smiled the brown-haired man, turning a flying pancake.

“Hum, you know I have no appetite in the morning...!”

“You have to eat, Merl! Otherwise, how can you sustain yourself? Come on! I bet you did not eat anything even last night...,” said the other, annoyed by the whims of the brunet.

“I ate your bannock, Gwaine! Thanks, by the way! It was really good” Merlin smiled, thinking back at the surprise of the night before.

“MY bannock, of course! That...well yes, in fact... what bannock?”

“The one you left me out of the door!” snorted the brunet, rolling his eyes for a moment toward the ceiling, before planting them on Gwaine’s back. “Who, if not you, knows that Cristie's oil bun is my favorite? And above all, who would dream to give it to me in the evening, if not my roommate, guilty for having left me without anything in the fridge?!?”

“Ah. Of course. Interesting...”

“Interesting?”

“Interesting!”

Merlin frowned for a moment, trying to piece together the puzzle that had formed in his mind and trying to decipher the cryptic answers of his friend, who anointed the pancakes with maple syrup and put them in front of his nose. They were hot.

“Gwaine, tell me it was...”

“Uhm. NO! It wasn’t me. Although, I admit that I would have liked doing it!”

“You didn’t leave me the package from Cristie's??”

“No! I am not the culprit. Come on, eat!” said Gwaine, pushing the plate with the food nearer Merlin’s nose.

“Gwaine, who the hell would think of...”, but the words died somewhere in the brunet’s throat, who put a hand on his chest, where his heart began to beat faster. Immediately, Arthur's face appeared behind the window halfway between reality and dream.

“Gwaine, who did you speak of my food tastes with? With someone of your boyfriend’s Alpha friends, isn’t it?”

“No, no!” hastened Gwaine, putting his hands up. Too fast to avoid arousing suspicion in his interlocutor. “Well… not about your food tastes...”

“BUT YOU TOLD THEM ABOUT ALL THE REST????” hissed a furious Merlin, while his face became of every shade of red known to men.

“Merlin, would you calm down, please? I do not know who had the bright idea to give you a gift like that, but I said nothing! To anyone!” but who knows why, the brunet did not seem to believe him. Therefore, he took his ear firmly and began to pull it down and to tighten it.

“Gwaine, if you care that your ear remains attached to the head, YOU WILL TELL ME NOW WITH WHO YOU TALKED ABOUT ME AND EXACTLY WHAT YOU TOLD THEM. Especially when last Saturday I told you VERY CLEARLY, that you were not supposed to talk about me with ANY of your Alpha friends! Tell me, Gwaine! NOW!” yelled the furious dark-haired boy, while still holding the ear of his prisoner who complained and kicked.

“I said nothing, Merl! Fine, I told Percy a few things! You know he is jealous and wanted to know more about the person I live with”

“You told Percival? Just him? Are you sure?”

“Well, occasionally, there was someone else with us... but not always!”

“SOMEONE. ELSE.WHO. GWAINE?” hissed Merlin, squeezing and pulling even more the lobe of his friend, in obvious difficulty and with his face bright red.

The brown haired man looked at him with shining eyes because of the pain, hermetically closing his mouth. He would not reveal anything else. He would not do it. He would not… OUUUUUUUCHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

“Ok ok ok, Arthur was there. Ok? Arthur was there!”

Merlin let go. The eyes became absent for a moment, to ingest the information Gwaine was giving him, as he tried to restart the heart locked inside the stomach. He panted heavily, staring at the table, while his friend was recovering and putting distance between them.

SCREWED! MISERABLY SCREWED, AGAIN! SHIT!

“Gwaine... what have you... said in front of Arthur?” asked Merlin, with a note of desperation in his eyes and in his voice, as he set his semi-absent eyes on his lifelong friend. “Do not tell me that you told him that...that I’m an...”

“NO, MERLIN, NO! I didn’t told him you are an Omega. Don’t worry! Moreover, I have not even told him about the episode of last Sunday, OBVIOUSLY... It’s just that he asked me things about you and I...I answered him. I do not see anything wrong about it!”

Merlin stared stunned and incredulous at the brown haired man, still trying to regain the lost lucidity “Wait. Wait a moment. Arthur asked you about me?!? Arthur Pendragon asked you about me? What did he...”

“Yes, dear! He asked me all right. But I will not say anything until you eat your pancakes, made with my golden hands...”

“Gwaine, Jesus, Why? Why did you have to tell him something about me? And then, why does he even care!?!? I told you to keep me out of these situations...” said Merlin, covering his eyes with the palms of the hands and putting his head on the kitchen table, a clear sign of surrender.

“Ah no no no! You've just told me not to tell Percival or the others that you are an Omega! You've never told me not to say anything else about you if SOMEONE asked!!! What the fuck, it’s not the end of the world!”

Merlin cringed, while a sea of doubts and questions began to dig in. He had to know what Gwaine had told about him, but mostly, he was extremely curious to know what Arthur Pendragon had asked him. He knew that there was only one damned way to find out.

He raised his head and looked at Gwaine straight in the face, with a look saying: “If I could I would kill you”. Then, he picked up his fork, cut a piece of those fucking dripping with maple syrup pancakes and stuck it in his mouth. He said in a falsely composed voice “START TALKING, GWAINE...”

Chapter Text

Merlin could smell the stench of trouble from kilometers. Being it a doom instead of a gift, he was pleasantly surprised when he noticed that his brave roommate, for almost a whole week from the fateful evening, had not mentioned neither Arthur nor the unpleasant incident.

Up until that Saturday morning, when the Pandora's Box had been uncovered.

And what came out...

As he slowly ate Gwaine’s pancakes one after another, his friend revealed to him that in that week he had seen Artie more often than usual. Arthur had asked him a thousand of questions such as “How long have you and Merlin been living together?” or “What did your roommate study?" or "Where does he work?" or “What does he like to eat?”

The more Gwaine spoke of what had happened, the longer the food went sideways, because Merlin was sure that his heart was beating really too fast. Alternatively, it was the emotion or the excess of maple syrup on those damned pancakes.

Why is Arthur interested in me?... after I treated him that way, too... I thought he hated me after that evening! Oh God, he could even likNO! DEFINITELY NOT!

“No, Merlin! I know what are you thinking about and NO! He doesn’t hate you! Quite the opposite! It is obvious that he likes you!” Gwaine said as if he had read Merlin’s mind, a sly smile on his face.

Suddenly, the brunet blushed to the tips of his big ears.

“Stop talking nonsense, Gwaine. He is probably looking for information about me to pack up my voodoo doll better, in which he will put pins every morning or worse.... if he asks you to bring him my hair, tell him no! Besides, he is an Alpha with stupid ideas about Omegas! Look, I would not think of him in that way even in a million years not even if he's the last man on Earth...”

“Of course, Merl! Sometimes, I forget how good you are at lying to yourself! Must I remind you that I caught you with Arthur’s name on your lips and something more substantial in your hand only six days ago? Just what wouldn’t you consider even in a million years? Merl, I’m serious. Arthur is as not bad as you think...,” said the brown-haired man, at the limit of exasperation, his hands in his hair.

“Ah no? Do you hear what you are saying? You were there that evening, weren’t you?” hissed Merlin, rubbing his hands nervously.

“Merl, I have to tell you something about Arthur and perhaps, after, you'll understand...”

“I do not want to hear stupid justifications about an Alpha! An Alpha is an Alpha and you know it... his nature is like that and that is not an excuse!” The brunet scoffed annoyed, rising from his chair and trying to go. However, the brown-haired man grabbed his wrist and forced him to sit.

He pinned him on the chair, eye to eye, and Merlin thought he had never seen his friend so damn serious in his life, except that one time ... with Will. He decided it was better to listen to him.

Gwaine revealed he had only recently learned some details of the blond’s life and childhood, showing that he was masking with contempt what was actually fear as well. Fear of what he could do to an Omega in his Domination Phase as an Alpha. How their suffering was basically similar.

“Can’t you see it, Merl? You hate Alphas, because you think they are all the same and good only to mistreat Omegas, but Arthur denies his own Alpha nature in order not to hurt the people of your Seed. How do you judge him, now? Will’s death for you and the beliefs of Arthur’s father for him have changed you so much you have forgotten that nature wants you together. Stop fighting Alphas, Merlin. Your fight is stupid and futile and it will only make you suffer...”

The brunet was speechless. Simply speechless. His mind was in turmoil and he could not find peace. Christ, but how could Arthur’s father do such a thing to him, when he was still so young ... that man was a lunatic sadist!

“And then, he brought you the bun as well... Do not forget it!” finished Gwaine, quite satisfied for having suggested the doubt in the mind of his friend.

“It wasn’t him, Gwaine!”

“And who do you think it was? The ghost of buns? IT’S OBVIOUS it was him...”

Merlin blushed heavily and rested his chin in his hands, as if he was praying.

Yes. It was he. Now he knew it... and inside himself, he deeply hated the feeling of happiness that invaded his heart and that was inappropriate...ANSOLUTELY! His Omega part was betraying him once again. His Omega part whispered the deep complacency and subtle joy in his ears from having for himself the attentions of an Alpha. He put his hand to his heart. His nature made him weak.

Despite Gwaine’s explanations had moderated his dislike for the blonde-haired boy a lot, the fact that he was an enemy remained.

Yes, he was handsome!

Yes, Merlin liked him.

However, unfortunately, he was an Alpha, which corresponded to a death sentence and necrophilia was not for him!

His little world had its precise rules and he didn’t accept they could be overturned by a damned stupid, blond, arrogant Alpha with the body of a god, the eyes of ice and a smell what the fuck, Merlin!!!

“I do not care what Arthur does or says. He'd better stay away, Gwaine. You know why too well. The sea is full of fishes and I know too well that behind an apparently innocent and juicy morsel, there is always a hook, and I DO NOT WANT to be caught!” said Merlin, standing up and trying to be definitive with his friend, “Please, Gwaine... don’t concoct strange things. And above all, stop talking about me. It makes no sense and it shouldn’t be important to him! Understood?”

“Of course, Merl. I perfectly understand...” Gwaine replied seriously.

As he would experience too soon, of course Gwaine had not understood anything...

***

That Saturday, Merlin focused himself in his new purpose: to banish Arthur Pendragon from his head. The gift the blond gave him the night before had clearly upset him, and he still didn’t understand its meaning. It was the first time in his life that an Alpha was paying that kind of attention to him, even though he did not want it. Or did he? Oh God, how complicated life is!

That morning, Gwaine asked him, if not ordered, to keep himself free for that night. Merlin would go with him in what his friend had called a “surprise place ". The brunet hated surprises and had had too many in the last seven days... but it was Saturday and he didn’t have a social life to allow him to refuse an invitation.

Trying to make sense of the mess he called life; Merlin went shopping, cleaned the house, washed and ironed both his and Gwaine’s clothes. Finding himself free at mid-afternoon, he decided to research a new topic of study on his computer.

The Alpha / Omega dynamics began to interest him a lot, especially since he knew that his body seemed to react strangely every time there was a certain man near. Suppressors, that he had been taking since he was a boy, seemed diminishing their effect when he was near. The lowering of his defenses was not temporary: it lasted hours after the contact and during that time his Omega instincts came alive strongly.

He began to do researches on the matter, which he had already widely studied at university, to see what could inhibit the effect of the drugs in his body. He hoped with all his heart that the answer to the puzzle was not the one his investigations were confirming.

The answer to his questions was well illustrated in the Reproduction and Dynamics of Species Atlas. There, Dr. C. Goodwing, university professor and luminary in studies on Alpha / Omega behavior, argued that in both Seeds there was a latent recessive gene. In rare cases, it allowed Alphas or Omegas to recognize a mate, perfectly compatible for reproductive purposes and common life, in a subject of the other Specie.

The professor believed that for each Alpha existed a perfect "counterparty" Omega, with a degree of compatibility much higher than normal for that specific Alpha. In short, a perfect mate whose genome seemed made especially for mating only with that particular subject.

In the rare studied cases in which an alpha and an omega with such a degree of compatibility first met, a true response at molecular level was recorded. From the first contact, the exposure to the "mate’s” pheromones unleashed in the Alpha and in the Omega an immediate hormonal overproduction in order to "be recognized by the other", making him feel he is unequivocally the perfect mate for the Bond and the coupling.

The moment the Alpha and Omega with a GCS (degree of compatibility) higher than the standard recognized each other, what happened was called Imprinting in the Medicine of Species. The presence of the ideal mate is "imprinted" in the two subjects in a stable and permanent way, anticipating in some way the sense of belonging to another typical of the future Bond. This type of imprinting was so strong that it forced the mind of the subjects to regress to the primary instincts and impulses, typical of the species they belong to.

It wasn’t over. When the imprinting occurred, even a brief contact of the two parties was enough to ensure that the body of the Omega "prepared" itself to mate with its PBM (Perfect Bond-Mate). In this case, the drives ended inevitably with the Bond, which ironically does not sanction the belonging of an Omega to an Alpha as it was normally, but stabilized the instincts of the two subjects who already belonged to each other on a genetic level, well before the bond itself.

The imprinting works like "love at first sight". After it happens, nothing becomes more important than being with your mate, looking for them and wanting them almost obsessively.

It is like falling in love, but ten times faster. A belonging to each other, realizing they can turn themselves into everything the other needs: a protector, a brother, a friend or a lover.

No suppressors can work against it: the stronger chemistry between the species defeats the chemical industry. The desire becomes need, which in turn becomes domination.

If he saw Arthur again, he was almost certain, given the hormonal reaction of their bodies when they first met, that the imprinting was soon to follow and then the Bond.

The only thing Merlin didn’t want.

In no case.

***

Saturday night.

 “Can I know where you are bringing me, Gwaine?”

“Wait and see, my eared genius!”

“But weren’t we going to Old Bridge to pull darts?”

“I said nothing about darts, Merl!”

“But what is... a sports hall?”

“More or less...come on, in here!”

“There is an illuminated field... but where the hell...it’s a football match? You brought me to see a football match? Oh come on, Gwaine! You know I hate...”

“Merl, you're starting to become boring! Less talking. Up the bleachers. But not too high!”

 “Ok, but when do the players arrive?”

“Give them a minute. The game starts at nine! It’s a scrimmage!”

“Which are the teams?”

 “You’ll see!”

“I don’t care about football, Gwaine! How did it occur to you that...”

Merlin felt distinctly his throat stopping and the breath remaining stuck in his chest, threatening to choke him while the two teams came out of the locker room and entered the field.

The one who had taken his breath stood there in the grass. He wore a yellow and green microfiber t-shirt that swathed his sculpted body; the shorts of the uniform framed his perfect ass, leaving uncovered his muscled toned and hairless legs; his hands were casually brought up to muss his blonde hair as he bounce the ball in front of him with an elegant motion. On the right arm, he wore the red band of the captain. There was no doubt, about who he could be and the dark-haired boy felt distinctly his heart fall straight in the stomach and began to throb inconsistently.

Arthur.

The time of the match began to dilate. Nothing actually seemed to make sense any more.

Not Gwaine supporting Percival (goalkeeper), not Leon and the other Knights who took their seats on the bleachers a little away from them, and especially not the match. Everything seemed devoid of consistency and not worthy of attention. Everything but him.

Arthur’s athletic movements were perfect. He loved to see him run across the field, flicking the leg muscles, discarding opponents, encouraging his teammates when they were tired or giving them directives. He loved, when the game stopped and the Alpha caught his breath by placing his hands on his narrow perfect hips, throwing his head back and exposing his neck and the Adam's apple that moved up and down at the rhythm of his breathing.

He was beautiful. However, there was more. He could lead others, who looked confident and ready to follow his instructions, proud of their leader. That was who Arthur was. Besides him being an Alpha, he managed to inspire people that were close, to catch them in his aura and to push them to improve. For him.

Merlin was still lost in his thought when the referee marked the end of the first half of the match with a shrill whistle that stirred him.

Arthur waited for Percival, clapping him on the shoulder and together, they reached the bench with their teammates. They took the water and drank greedily from the bottles. The blond drank so fast that the water ended up on the shirt, wetting it. However, he did not care and in response, he tilted his head back and poured the rest of the content of the bottle on his head, to cool off.

Merlin felt distinctly desire grabbing his spine and pouring in hot waves inside him. He had never seen anything sexier in his life.

And then, it happened.

Percy looked up to the bleachers towards him and Gwaine (who was waving hello with the hand) and whispered something in Arthur’s ear, who immediately tried to find Merlin in the bleachers and pierced him with his blue gaze. Merlin felt himself blushing and looked down.

The expression of the blond became tense for a moment, his jaw clenched. Then, he raised an eyebrow almost intrigued, while Percy whispered something else in his ear and he started to laugh, returning his focus on the coach who was giving instructions.

It was the first time after last week foul deed that Merlin could look Arthur in the eye again, perceiving his presence clearly again. Inside of him, a storm of emotions was taking place. They were difficult to manage.

Amazement, desire, uncertainty, shame, greed, curiosity.

However, not anger.

Not hate.

In his heart, he hoped that the other reciprocated, that he did not hate him for how he had treated him the first time.

Then, he shook his head and planted his eyes to the shoes, realizing how those hopes were stupid.

It would have been better if Arthur hated him.

It would have been easier to be able to turn him away from his heart, where the blond had crept in like a thin blade. Moreover, if the Alpha would not hate him, then, Merlin had to hate enough for the both of them, because he knew that if he didn’t have the strength, the determination to keep the distance, his fate would inevitably be the Bond and the permanent loss of his freedom.

His submission in the mind and in the heart.

And he could not accept it.

***

If the first half had seemed short, the second one passed in a blink. The looks Arthur threw at him from time to time from the field got him warm and Merlin opted to take off his scarf and to open his windbreaker, hoping not to catch fire, despite being early April and the temperatures not so mild.

Towards the middle of the second half, the captain reserved a look to Merlin, as to say "look at what I’m about to do". After a second, he lunged towards his own goal post, where two opponents were trying to undermine the good Percival. With a perfect dribbling, he took the ball and ran around the field, discarding all the opponents. Then, he placed himself in front of the goalkeeper and kicked a bomb in the left corner of the goal post.

The bleacher erupted in a chorus of shouts of joy; the Knights raised their arms to the sky and beside him, Gwaine overwhelmed him with a crushing hug, filling his cheeks with kisses.

On the field, Arthur’s mates rushed to congratulate him, with sound backslapping, compliments and hugs. As soon as he recovered from the fuss of the team, the blond man searched again for Merlin’s eyes, finding them immediately. He smiled like a child, pointing at him with his right hand, as to say, "I did it for you".

The brunet smiled back applauding, feeling an overwhelming pride growing inside of him. He was proud to know that Arthur had done it for him and he was proud of the strength demonstrated by his own Alpha.

By his own Alpha.

This thought made its way in Merlin as an icy wind that stole his life, taking away the smile and the warmth in the heart. Nor only his body, but also his mind had already begun to consider Arthur as something of his own. As something more.

God, it is not possible. Think, Merlin, think...

The responses from his brain to his questions hit him like a punch in the stomach.

The imprinting was not next to come as he had thought.

It had already happened, the evening when they met. When his Alpha pheromones activated by wrapping and claiming him as his own.

They had entered and engraved Arthur’s name inside of him clearly, branding it in his blood, in his flesh, deeper than he expected or had ever wanted.

Trying to distance himself from him would be incredibly painful and probably unnecessary.

He could not prevent what had already happened.

Arthur was already inside of him, already hinted at the bottom of his heart. Eradicating him would be much more difficult now that all of himself unconsciously called the other, knowing that he had found the lost half that would made him whole.

His mind and his body were already changing.

For him.

For an Alpha, Jesus NO! Anything but that.

The referee's whistle marked the end of the game. The Oxford team had won apparently. Percy had moved from the goal post and had joined the others to go to embrace Arthur. Even the captain of the opposing team had approached the blonde man to shake his hand.

Merlin was still half-lost in his thoughts when the blond boy and Percival left the field to go up in the bleachers toward their friends. The row of celebrating people who approached him to congratulate was consistent and Merlin felt distinctly a vice in his stomach.

The previous thoughts had troubled him deeply and he was afraid of what would happen by being close to Arthur again.

Because he would surrender. Because he would get hurt.

He had to get away from there as soon as possible.

Yet, he could not stop watching the slow advance of the blond towards him. He greeted everyone warmly. He smiled at everyone, shook hands and then searched for Merlin with the eyes in the crowd. He looked at him, as if to say "I'm coming to you, wait for me".

He had to run.

He had to move those fucking legs and disappear, possibly from the face of the earth.

Then, someone came who persuaded him to move.

Gwaine had already flown to his boyfriend, leaving Merlin alone and Arthur was not more than five feet away, waving to the Knights one by one and licking his lips for what was about to happen. He was already moving toward the brunet, when a female voice erupted from the chaos around him.

“Well .... aren’t you going to greet me, my sweet Artie?”

Merlin stood for a moment petrified, seeing a slender and beautiful girl with long black hair jumping up to Arthur. She had a pale complexion, a face so beautiful it was almost eerie, two blood-red lips thin like the nose and two huge, beautiful green eyes, who seemed able to look into one’s soul. A splendid specimen of Prime Alpha.

The woman reached the blond and literally rubbed herself on him, embracing him with force. Arthur stood dumbfounded for a moment but then embraced her in turn smiling, lifting her off the ground.

“Gana.... I did not know you were coming!” said the blond, still holding her tight.

“I could not miss it, Honey! You were fantastic! I'm proud of you!” she whispered to his ear with a huge smile and a look that said it all, kissing him on the cheek.

When Arthur, still smiling, turned to introduce his sister to Merlin, he noticed with his huge disappointment that there was no sign of him.

He looked at Gwaine embracing Percival and quietly asked him where Merlin was. When the friend shrugged, Arthur’s face darkened.

It took a while to connect the dots as the blade of uncertainty pierced him. He looked at Morgana worried and she looked back at him not understanding.

“Arthur, what...” began the girl, before her brother broke free from her embrace and started to run towards the exit of the small stadium.

Merlin had definitely misunderstood.

He saw a beautiful female Alpha literally jumping on him and Arthur holding her tenderly, as he always did when it came to his sister, not thinking about how it might seem to those blue eyes that did not know the truth.

Arthur had been very stupid.

He was one-step away from him, he was about to reach him, to talk to him and he had not thought about how that behavior could be easily misunderstood.

Merlin didn’t know Morgana.

He didn’t know she was his sister.

Probably, he thought she was his partner.

Arthur did not know if the brunet felt even half of the attraction he felt toward him since he had seen him the previous Saturday, but he could not allow the other to have any doubt about his feelings, nor Morgana’s role in his life.

He had to reach him and talk to him.

No matter what.

***

He was running away.

Yes, he was fleeing. It was what he wanted. It was what he had to do.

Before he knew it, he was running out of the stadium. He opened the big black door from which he and Gwaine had entered nearly two hours before, throwing himself violently on it with the firm intention of putting distance between himself and his torment.

Arthur had a girl. Jesus, it was obvious! Merlin, you are such an idiot! Someone like Arthur mathematically cannot not have one. You couldn’t have really thought that Mr. IamthegreatmaleAlpha could really be interested in a bony Omega, the last of his kind, without any apparent attractiveness and that had spat on him since the first meeting. Certainly, it wasn’t like Arthur did not deserve it. He was an asshole. And he should have known it. He could not afford to have any illusions about the two of them. Imprinting? Please! Only mutual attraction or desire to conquer fast. She really was right for him. She was beautiful and they really seemed to care for each other. He definitely did not want and did not deserve anything less. It was for the best, wasn’t it? Good. Very good in fact. This was what he needed to give it a nice clean cut. In truth, it was a good thing to have seen them together. He could go on. Going on from what? He felt nothing for Arthur, if not an empty and stupid physical attraction as a virgin.

Yes, he was almost happy. In fact, he was very happy to feel so damn lonely and wrong. Very happy to be conscious of what he would never be allowed to have. Happy not to longer have the temptation to be tempt by a fucking Alpha! He was so happy to cry for the sense of relief. He was so happy to feel those damn tears rolling down his cheeks. Tears of joy, of course. So why did it hurt so damn much?

Then, the sound of footsteps behind him.

A warm and strong hand seizing him by the arm.

Someone pulling him back and stopping his run, pulling him against himself.

The warm chest of someone embraced him, holding him, preventing him to escape.

His smell.

Smell of earth, rain, sweat, male, Alpha.

His warmth.

His chest against his face, his strong arms crushing him, his quickened and boiling breathing in his hair.

His heart beating in unison with his. It spoke to him without words.

His warm, baritone, deep, soothing, calming voice.

“Where are you running, Merlin?”

But Merlin wasn’t there.

His body was there, but his mind was deeply immersed in the essence of the one who was hugging him.

He started to pull away but Arthur would not let him. He held him tight to his chest, preventing any movement. With horror, the brunet realized there was no other place in the world where he really wanted to be, if not in those arms.

There wasn’t another smell that he wanted on his body, if not Arthur’s.

There was no other person Merlin would allow to touch him so.

There never was and there never will be.

If not him.

This hurt him. Too much. Because it hurts to want something you cannot have.

Then he realized he was sobbing and crying against Arthur’s chest. Why couldn’t he stop the tears? Why was he so devastate? Why did his body not obey him, when there was that one variant in six letters involved? Why...

The next moment, he felt a large and warm hand positioning itself in his hair, starting to draw small circles on his skin. God, it was a so gentle, intimate, heartening touch. That and the smell of Alpha that enveloped him like that first night. It claimed and protected him like a blanket in which to cuddle and stay on to watch the stars before the dawn.

He stopped crying when he realized that Arthur’s nose was firmly planted between his jet-black hair and was sniffing him with interest.

Evidently, Arthur needed to feel him too.

Merlin stood there. To get comfort. To be rocked as if it was the most natural thing in the world for a time that seemed endless to the both of them.

It took lots of courage to break away from that chest.

It took even more courage to meet the blue gaze of Arthur, who had allowed Merlin to move away from him only enough for him to look at him, and not for something else. He still held him, circling his waist and the right arm and seemed unwilling to let him go.

Their breaths met before their eyes and Merlin felt fear gripping his heart again.

He did not know what to say.

He could only look at him and tell him everything without talking, because he knew that Arthur was reading him, like that evening. He was melting under the blue gaze that laid him bare, digging into him deeply, intimately, ripping every secret and crumbling his will.

Feeling himself blushing, he shyly tried again to diverge from him, but the Alpha would not let him.

God, the feeling of strength and solidity of Arthur’s body touching his was driving Merlin crazy.

“Why are you running away?" Arthur asked with a soft, deep and calm voice.

“I...it’s late and...I have to go...now..." said the brunet with a trembling voice, desperately trying to regain a minimum of self-control.

“Stay. Please. I need to talk to you."

It was not a request. It was an order disguised as request, but always an order and the brunet hurt himself trying not to obey as a good Omega.

“Arthur, I don’t..." he began.

“Listen to me, Merlin. I’m sorry for last Saturday. I didn’t want to be offensive in any way, but I admit that I expressed myself wrongly. I know that you believe in the causes of Omegas and absolutely, I don’t..."

“Stop it, Arthur. I’m sorry, too.” Said the brunet, laying a finger on the lips of the other to silence him, before realizing that in truth, he was testing his warmth, softness, proximity “But now please, please let me go."

“Only if you tell me why you were crying while running away… from me!" said the blond with a quiet but serious tone.

“Probably for the same reason you delivered me a bun in the middle of the night." Merlin replied embarrassed, without taking his eyes off Arthur.

There was silence all around them, but the noise of their hearts was deafening.

Both knew the answer to the question of the other, but the words seemed to disappear in a dark place between the mind and the heart ... it was so hard!

“Mine was a peace offering Merlin. An unconventional offer and I have to admit, to an unusual time. Besides, I was glad to give you something to eat ... you're too thin and you know it.”

“Arthur, I do not need anyone to worry about me or about what I eat; let alone an Alpha...”

“Ah no?”

“No!”

“Fine, then. I apologize. Now, explain to me why you were running in tears?”

“I...” he could not speak, his voice choked in his chest while he blushed violently to the tips of his considerable ears, failing to find a plausible excuse.

“Tell me, Merlin.” continued the blonde in a soothing tone.

Seeing that the brunet was in an obvious difficulty, Arthur smiled softly and squeezed more, moving closer to his ear and eliminating the distance. He whispered softly in a wet and hot voice “did it have something to do with seeing me with a beautiful brunette girl, that kissed me and who, by the way, is my sister?”

An immediate shock of chills poured into his spine, going up to the brain, and then back down to the lower abdomen. He began to gasp as he felt his defenses vanishing, like his saliva while the gears of his brain began to turn...

Sister?

SISTER!

Not mate!

Merlin felt his eyes pinched for the tears he was trying desperately to hold between his long eyelashes, while his heart was spreading hope and his lungs resumed to breathe, forcing him to inhale deeply.

Then, Arthur’s lips came down, positioning themselves in the hollow of Merlin’s neck, who began to tremble slightly in his arms. The blond felt it and, with a gentle movement, touched with the nose the point where Merlin’s special glands were already beginning to emit more pheromones than usual. Suppressors were ceasing to work. Again. His body was already beginning to covet the Alpha’s that surrounded him. That dominated him.

If he did not hurry to leave, Arthur would find out his true nature soon, and even if it would help to dismiss him, his Omega voice begged him to ensure that this does not happen, sensing the danger of definitely dismissing the Alpha.

The blonde continued to sniff the hollow of the neck, inhaling deeply to retain his essence, to feel that sweet note released by his prey better. So subtle yet so attractive. So feeble and yet so damn powerful to cloud his senses.

“There's something about you Merlin. I can't quite put my finger on it....” whispered Arthur. His words and his hot breath were laid by his tongue directly under the skin of the brunet, who let out a groan, feeling distinctly his body awaking, tensing and wetting at the touch of his executioner.

He closed his blue eyes, still beaded with tears, and tilted his head, offering his neck in surrender. He began to indulge in the pleasure, in the heat and in the purely Omega need to be taken, claimed, possessed, protected.

To yield.

 

“Merlin, where have you been?” Gwaine shouted, exiting from the door of the stadium with Percival in tow. The Knights were behind them, intent to talk about the just ended game.

One glance from Merlin was enough for the brown-haired man to realize what was happening. To see the danger resulting from the fact that Arthur was hugging Merlin, holding him tight.

Merlin’s eyes reopened abruptly, wetter as ever. He looked at his friend, begging silently “Gwaine, save me, save me SAVE ME OR HE’LL FIND OUT! PLEASE...”

His friend rushed forward at the very moment in which Arthur, seeing himself discovered, had loosened his grip on the brunet’s body, allowing him to be free. Gwaine literally jumped on Merlin, hugging him with warmth and moving him away from the Alpha.

All Merlin’s body cried out in pain because of that separation, that usurped heat, that interrupted contact, betraying the need of contact with his dominus.

“Well, gentlemen. Thank you so much for the game. Merl and I have to go home early, tomorrow is cleaning day. Furthermore, I am really tired because of the double shift at the restaurant...” Gwaine exclaimed, standing between Arthur and his prey.

In response, the blond curled his lip and clenched his jaw, issuing the low growl of an animal to which they were taking the prey away from the mouth.

The smell was unmistakable: Male. Alpha. Infuriated.

Gwaine stepped back instinctively, shielding Merlin. Also Betas knew that it was dangerous to come between an Alpha and his prey, but the brunet was his best friend and, Christ, he would help him at the cost of his life.

“What’s happening, Artie?” said Morgana, coming to his brother from behind and putting a subtle but firm and strong hand on his biceps.

The smell of the Alpha suddenly changed, calming at his sister’s familiar touch.

“Nothing, Gana. I was just greeting a friend who came to watch the game against all my expectations...” Artie answered.

Morgana smiled sweetly and, surpassing a still alert Gwaine, stealthily reached the object of his brother’s more than obvious attentions.

She watched Merlin looking at her in a bewildered and uncertain way. The girl saw it and smiled gently. She quietly rose a hand to shake and introduced herself. “I’m Morgana Pendragon. I’m Arthur’s sister. Nice to meet you, Mr...”

“Merlin... Emrys.” replied the brunet, shaking her hand hesitantly.

“Well, Merlin Emrys! It was a real pleasure to meet you. If my brother were to give you too much bother, call me and I will put him back to his place!” she finished, smiling openly.

Merlin smiled back, visibly more relaxed, and then, he crossed Arthur’s eyes again. He was smiling, too.

“Are you sure you don’t want to join us for a beer?” said a voice from behind them.

“Thanks, Leon” Gwaine replied immediately “but it's really time for me and my roommate to go home. Goodnight everyone! Percy, see you tomorrow.”

The brown-haired boy kissed his big boy on the cheek, took a still dazed Merlin by the arm, and started to drag him away from the crime scene.

Despite being turned away from him, Merlin felt Arthur’s eyes piercing his back.

The fight was not over.

It had just begun.

Chapter Text

The journey back home seemed to never end.

The rhythm light of the street lamps against the shadow of the night was hypnotic and somehow comforting, while the car was advancing fast towards home.

Gwaine was speaking, but Merlin did not hear him. He was asking him questions, but he did not answer.

He was lost.

He wrapped his jacket around himself, trying to remember the warmth of the Alpha’s body he had recently dismissed himself from.

He touched his neck, where Arthur's soft and warm lips had lingered for a moment, and again, a trail of chills ran along his body.

In that moment, he realized that he had forgotten his red scarf on the bleachers of the stadium. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered now.

His mind was drowning in a chaos in which the only thing that made sense was the instinct.

Was Arthur.

All about the Alpha called him, wanted him, craved him and every cell of his body responded in kind, moving, lighting and vibrating for him.

He felt nothing else.

He wanted nothing else.

The reality around him seemed a thin dream with feathering.

The engine going off.

The car door opening and closing behind him.

The comforting view of his home.

Feeling Gwaine’s touch, who leaded him into his room, undressed him and dressed him with the huge red sweatshirt he used to sleep in and made him lie down on the bed, annoying Merlin so much that he almost felt nauseous. The touch of someone who was not Arthur irritated him and his friend must have felt it, because he hastened to light a candle and get out of the room, closing the door without a word.

He couldn’t fight it. He couldn’t break free from his damned Omega impulses.

He tried to struggle against himself, against the desire that was possessing him, but he was like an exhausted castaway that couldn’t fight the storm. Too exhausted, he stopped fighting, abandoning himself to the oblivion of what his mind and his body wanted so intensely: Arthur.

On top of him. On him. Inside of him.

He brought a hand under his sweatshirt, on his boiling chest, heaving rhythmically, trying to rip his heart that wanted to be taken, claimed, protected, loved, dominated… hating it deeply. Hating himself for his weakness.

He closed his eyes, tired of fighting. Calling him in his mind.

Arthur...

“I’m here..."

Merlin opened his eyes suddenly, recognizing immediately that deep and warm voice, which had made him wince just a few hours before. His heart pounded in his throat as he shook off the last shreds of sleep and emotions, just pushing away the soft blankets that enwrapped him.

Desperately trying to focus on his interlocutor’s shape in the twilight of the room, he let his senses be overwhelmed by the strong and virile smell of the Alpha that was leading him to madness, recognizing him by instinct, rather than with the eyes.

Him?! He can’t be really here...

He rubbed his eyes to seek confirmation of his thesis, until the blue of his sea crashed into the stormy sky of the blond’s, sitting at the foot of his bed.

 It had to be a dream...

Yet, illusions haven’t a scent that can possess a person’s body and soul.

“Arthur, how..." Merlin began weakly.

“Shh..." whispered the other, leaning a finger to his red and slightly wet lips, while eating Merlin with his eyes.

Standing up, the blond moved closer to Merlin slowly, placing himself too close to him. He stayed there, still, with a sweet smile on that perfect face, to let him decide if he was an illusion or not.

Merlin took a deep breath, looking down and trying to calm down in vain. He tried to find a logical way to what was happening. But Arthur’s presence right there was intoxicating. The proximity of the warmth of his body, the authority of his presence and those damned Alpha pheromones that weren’t asking but actually demanding, were already beginning to drag him into a deep chasm of senses and instincts, from which he knew he would not be able to escape very soon.

God, Merlin, stay in control, stay in control...

Arthur raised his hand and put his warm palm on the white cheek of the other, causing him a small tremor and an immediate delicious redness.

“I heard you calling me..." the blond said slowly, with that damn voice, deep and warm as the abyss of Hell, soft, wet, dominant in every sense, “...and I came. For you.” He ended, whispering almost intimately those words that reverberated like a tuning fork in the body of the brunet, making him vibrate with pleasure. And fear.

I must not believe it. He is not here...

“Look at me, Merlin,” The Alpha continued, brushing Merlin’s chin with his forefinger and pulling his face slightly upwards, “I want your eyes on me...”

Merlin gave in.

Every fiber of his Omega body, repressed until then, lit in pure desire as he watched Arthur with his breath caught in his throat, enjoying the imagines that his blue irises were sending back to his brain.

Arthur was there. A blond God. Beautiful. His face just inches from him; strong jaw, proud eyes, majestic. His hair like a golden waterfall bordered by the soft light of the candle that loved that sculpted body; those rippling muscles drawn under the lightweight sweater by soft shadows; the towering Adam's apple who claimed to be bitten and those swollen and red lips seemed a curse.

It took him a moment to regain control of himself to notice the red scarf that Arthur had around his neck. Merlin recognized it as his own. He had forgotten it on the bleachers that night.

“This...” Merlin whispered timidly, placing a thin white hand on the end of the red fabric, “... this is mine ..."

“Well, now it’s mine! Besides, who finds something, keeps it...” pointed out the blond, curling his lips into a sly smile that created a lovely dimple on the left of his mouth.

Merlin was strongly biting the inside of his cheek in order not to obey his goddamn inner voice that was begging him to lick the pleating at the side of Arthur’s mouth, exposing his neck to his Alpha and letting him claim him, putting an end to his sufferings.

He is an Alpha, Merlin. You hate them. Don’t you see what they do? Never with an Alpha. Never with Arthur Pendragon!

The blond looked at the pale creature in front of him for a moment. It reminded him of a bird with a wounded wing that trembled at his gentle touch, surging between his fingers demanding freedom, yet fearing it.

He was inhumanly beautiful.

The flame of the candle gave warm shades to his white and perfect moon skin. He caressed his high cheekbones and those rosy lips that promised the taste of a ripe fruit in summer, like the sweet scent of his smell, flooding around the room. So subtle yet so damn powerful to awaken an instinct that Arthur thought dormant.

But what killed him were his eyes.

When Merlin finally decided to look up at him, he could dive and get lost in the depths of that wonderful blue, in which his irises were dyed. In them, he could see fear, curiosity and a barely repressed desire.

The long and white neck, that was lost in the huge red sweatshirt, leaving a shoulder naked, whispered thousands of perverse ideas straight to his brain. They all had to do with biting, licking, sucking and branding every inch of that paleness as his. All the while, his pheromones shouted, "You must be mine!"

“Why the candle, Merlin?” the Alpha asked softly, as he admired his prey, wrapped in the blankets.

Merlin let out a deep breath. He still couldn’t figure out if Arthur was there for real or if it was all a hallucination of his tired mind. Therefore, he remained silent, trying to figure out what to say, what to do...

Arthur noticed the tension vibrating in the body of his interlocutor and patiently, gently, whispered, “I'm just a dream, Merlin. Do not worry. You can tell me whatever you want...”

Those words hit the mark, because Merlin calmed down for a moment and seemed to regain control of himself. He looked down and pulled his hands out from under the blankets, starting to crease them nervously, looking for words that patterned long dormant emotions in his heart.

“Long ago... when a family member of mine died, I spent...well... a bad period. I was afraid to fall asleep. Horrendous nightmares tormented me. I kept seeing him in front of me, covered… with blood, repeatedly.... I was losing my mind. Then one night, my uncle put a candle near my bed, like this one. He told me that its light would guide me out of the darkness of the night and of my soul, like a lighthouse that leads you home. And so, I was able to fall asleep again, cuddled by the candle light. When I still happened to have bad dreams, I'd wake up in the warmth of that light, reminding me I’m at home, protected and safe. This is why, when I am agitated or tense, Gwaine lit a candle next to my bed. It helps me to relax and sleep ... and to find the way back to myself, when I'm surrounded by darkness.”

Arthur smiled gently, sincerely impressed by that story.

Merlin: this strange sweet creature, so small and frail but with a strong heart; able to face the pain of the loss, keeping it all in, blaming himself and not talking about it with anyone... God, how much he wanted him to be his, to protect him from every sorrow, to dominate him completely and to love him with all his body, his mind and his heart, not allowing anyone or anything to hurt him anymore. The need to protect him was overwhelming.

The blond leaned toward Merlin’s temple, breathing deeply his fantastic smell. In response, Merlin dodged slightly, scared yet captivated, not understanding the Alpha’s intentions.

It was then that Arthur took Merlin’s right palm. He opened it, stroked it with his thumb and then, he brought it to his lips, kissing it lightly. Merlin's eyes widened, emitting a choked sigh, while relishing the softness of Arthur’s sweet and intimate touch. He instinctively tried to pull his hand away but Arthur held him back, and in response, placed a second kiss, opening his mouth and licking the line of life with the wet tip of his tongue. All the while, Arthur planted his dark with desire eyes in those of the brunet. Merlin bit his lower lip involuntarily, closing his eyes, savoring the new sweet sensations that the other was causing. Pure lava straight in his lower back.

 Stop, Merlin! Get a hold of yourself...

 “Ah...Arthur don’t...”

“Don’t?”-

“Don’t do these things...”

“And what do you not want me to do to you, Merlin?”

“You must not touch me...”

“But I want to touch you...”

“But you must not...you can’t...”

“And with what part of my body I must NOT touch you, Merlin? With my hands? With my tongue?”

“I mean that no part of your skin has to come into contact with mine, let alone your tongue!”

“Uhm... is this a challenge, Merlin?”

“You cannot have everything you want, Arthur.”

“Good. If I respect your conditions tonight, will you allow me to kiss you?”

“What are..? Sorry...? to kiss me? No, Arthur, no way!”

“Then, I will not kiss you until you’ll ask for it...”

“That will NEVER happen.”

“Are you sure?”

“Certainly!”

“Then, prepare yourself...”

“For wh...”

Arthur jumped up, leaving Merlin's hand. Then, with a quick gesture, he suddenly took a corner of the sheet, pulling it on the head of the brunet. Immediately, Merlin started to break free from the cloth that covered his face but in response, the blond literally lay on him, covering him with his body, forcing him to lie down with him on top and that bloody sheet to divide them.

“Arthur, what the hell are you doing?” said Merlin surprised. A betrayed fear in his voice, not understanding the intentions of the blond.

“Shh...” Arthur silenced him, putting a finger to his lips at the other side of the fabric, and towering above Merlin.

The brunet closed his eyes, suddenly realizing what the other was about to do. His heart bit faster, while his breath lost itself in an undefined place between the mouth and the heart. He couldn’t see the body of the Alpha but Christ he could feel it with his whole body ... even if Arthur was not touching him directly.

 “...no part of your skin has to come into contact with mine...”

 And so the damned was doing!

Arthur did not wait long before starting to move his warm and pretentious hands along Merlin’s body. He stroked him through the thin strip of cloth that separated them, testing the texture, the contours, giving him thousands of shivers of pleasure that went dangerously to reverberate his lower bell, already dangerously alert.

Merlin closed his eyes, excited and embarrassed at the same time, feeling Arthur’s hands stroking him. First, the contour of his right thigh; then, he moved on to draw his narrow hips and ribs with his fingertips. He felt Arthur rest his head on his chest. His warm breath radiated on Merlin’s skin. His fingers lingered curious about his sensitive nipples, who responded at the gentle touch, becoming turgid. And not just them.

Merlin hyperventilated, when he realized that his erection, crushed by the body above him, was starting to throb painfully. Naturally, his hips started to push weakly against those of Arthur that was torturing him with abundance beyond the cloth.

Talking, asking him to stop would be useless, and why deny it? In the end, it was just a dream ... just a damn dream....

The brunet let it go, finally, and Arthur felt it clearly. The tense muscles of that subtle body under his relaxed immediately as soon as Merlin accepted the attentions Arthur was giving him in the twilight of that little dark world, sealed and only theirs.

Merlin began to call his name over the cloth with a weak and choked voice. His sweet scent, at first thin, started to be more powerful, signaling to the Alpha that his prey was preparing himself to mate.

It was then that Arthur positioned himself in the hollow of Merlin’s neck, to smell him better, to get lost in that wonderful smell that, even under the cloth, came into Arthur’s lungs and went straight to his brain, turning his pure instinct on, passion, research and domination. He put his hand under the sheet, looking for Merlin’s right hand. He drew it out and put it on his chest, kissing the palm. He hungrily licked the fingers. Then, he drove it gently on his body deeper and deeper...

Both of them let out a strangled groan, when the thin and white hand of the brunet rested on the stretched fabric of Arthur’s pants, testing the consistency of what they contained.

Hearing Arthur moan and shake, Merlin tried to move his hand away, mentally cursing himself for his inexperience. In response, the blond held it back and pressed it again on his pulsing erection, like Merlin’s.

Merlin was devastated by the chaotic emotions that throbbed beneath his skin: excitement, anger, desire, fear and something completely new and terribly sublime, that left him dumbfounded. It clouded his vision, tore his breath in his throat and made his heart ache. He did not know what to do, how to move, how to deal with it.

It was too much...

Arthur felt the tension and indecision of the other by the change of his smell, probably due to his inexperience and fear of doing something wrong. Suddenly, he remembered how Gwaine had described him and Arthur realized that he should be the one to guide him.

“Touch me, Merlin.” the Alpha ordered with a voice dripping with desire. The obedient Omega in him, now that it had taken over by eliminating his will, moved his uncertain fingers over the waistband of his mate’s underwear, touching the fiery dry tight skin of Arthur’s hard sex.

Blindly and by being guided only and solely by instinct, Merlin freed Arthur’s erection from his pants, touching the tense beam with his fingertips along its entire length. He tested its strength, hardness, texture, warmth, the pulsations of the heart of the other, reverberated in that piece of meat, boiling in the palm of his shy and absolutely inexperienced hand.

 God, it was huge...

The Alpha roared lowly at the touch of his mate, his scent changed again, dipping in pure carnal animalistic desire, as he settled better on the body of his prey. He placed their erections together, entwined his fingers with the ones of the explorer hand of the dark-haired boy in an intimate gesture.

It was the only part of their bodies touching for real, skin against skin, while the thin inexistent fabric divided the rest of them…

“I want you, Merlin. Can you feel it? Can you feel how much I desire you?” Arthur hissed in a low and dark voice, drenched and dripping with sex.

Then, with a decidedly unequivocal Alpha movement, he pushed hard on him, pinning Merlin into the mattress and making him feel all his weight and his strength, while vigorously rubbing his hard and majestic penis against Merlin’s smaller but equally tense and eager one.

Oh My God...

The Omega in him awoke strongly, thanks to the sudden rush of endorphins and pleasure, which that contact provoked in his body. It dug deep into the bowels of his being, releasing what was not to be released: his nature and a blind instinct, feverish and demanding to be taken, possessed.

Merlin found that strip of cloth that separated them useless and annoying. With a single gesture, he pulled back the sheet, showing himself to the blond and finally, drinking the vision of Arthur’s face over his. His rosy and swollen lips, slightly trembling, his dark with desire eyes and his golden hair, disheveled on the forehead. Merlin enjoyed his look that was telling him, "You are mine. Mine. MINE "

The Alpha raised his waist, definitely taking away the rest of the sheet. Then, he glided again on the half-naked body of his prey. He freed Merlin’s erection from his boxer firmly and fast. Now, they were there, skin to skin, turned on by desire, no more veils between their sexes that started to know each other, looking for each other. Their sexes belonged to each other in a calm and studied dance at first. Then, they crushed against one other in a more hectic, tough, strong and decomposed way, while the desire became need, instinct and rage. It tore an endless series of moans and strangled breathes from the both of them. Arthur’s hot and humid tongue on his chest, on his neck, everywhere ... searched, claimed and branded.

“Merlin” started the Alpha with a broken voice “You are mine, now. Only mine. Your body and your heart belong to me. They are mine. I will not let anyone touch you, or watch you, and you'll not rest your eyes on others but me. You will accept my sex every time I’ll take you and your body will be my temple, my refuge, my home, where you will not allow anyone else to enter. You are mine. From now on and forever!” He declared as he distinctly felt the knot at the base of his penis swell, stimulated by the smell of his mate.

In a moment, they both felt at the brink of an abyss, together, at the same time, unable to rationalize what was going on, lost in the pleasure that they were giving to each other. All of this was amplified by the safety of the presence of the other, as if everything was so natural, right and perfect, and nothing existed but them, there in that time.

“Ask me for it, Merlin...” Arthur ordered. His voice hoarse and deep, full of need.

“No...” the other said mischievous.

“Ask me for it...” the blond repeated pressing.

“Never...” Merlin smiled against Arthur’s hot skin, arching slightly to reach his face, taking his lower swollen and red lip in his mouth and sucking it gently.

That was the end for the Alpha that finally lost those few shreds of rationality and self-control still present in him. He pounced on Merlin with a deep, animalistic, guttural moan.

Arthur licked the base of Merlin’s neck, claiming him. The instant he bit strongly, marking the Omega as his, they came together, giving themselves to each other, completely.

At the same moment, their cocks throbbed in unison, tight between their pelvis, ripping a liberating animal cry from the both of them, while their wet pleasure poured on them, hot, wet and sticky. It took away the air from their lungs, exhausting them and pinning them in an infinity embrace, while Arthur collapsed heavily on a breathless, exhausted Merlin’s thin body, invaded by white light reverberated behind his eyes.

***

Together...

This was the only and the first word that Arthur’s brain gave birth to that morning. His naked toned and muscular body was engulfed in white silk sheets in his bedroom in the twilight of the morning.

The red scarf that Merlin had forgotten the night before on the bleachers and "stolen" by Arthur was the only garment in contact with his body. His huge erection agonized under the soft blankets, carrying the smell of his sex… only that, unfortunately. Merlin’s scent stood out among a thousand of others, imprisoned in the soft red fabric, so stubbornly wrapped around his neck.

Arthur took the strip of the crimson cloth and laid it under his nose, inhaling strongly. The smell of the other was so sweet, strongly imprinted in the subtle texture... Jesus, he was getting hard again. He took off the scarf, wrapped it in his hand and placed it safely under his pillow.

He covered his eyes with his palms while the knowledge that it was just another damn dream, filled him with anger and frustration. Yet it was so damn real.... the room immersed in the night, the feeble light of the candle that caressed their bodies and Merlin, Merlin, Merlin... who tore his heart, his soul, his will.

Three strong blows to the door took him to safety from his thoughts, while two prying green eyes peeped from behind the white wooden door.

“Good morning, sunshine!” his sister greeted him softly, while she entered the room. Her slender and perfect body wrapped in a soft silk pale purple robe.

She walked to the window, opening the shutters. The marvelous light of a radiant morning of April immediately invaded the room.

Arthur instinctively pulled the covers on his body, not to cover it from his sister’s eyes, but to get used to the sudden light that invaded the surrounding environment.

The girl with long black hair went to the bed and pulled the covers, uncovering her brother’s muscular and perfect body. He sat, looking at her half-asleep.

Morgana pulled up the sheets, discovering the rest of the Alpha’s body. She raised an eyebrow as soon as she was certain about what had happened among those blankets. She inhaled the scent of sex dripping from the perfect body of her brother and smiled mischievously.

Arthur let her be. There were no secrets or modesty between Morgana and him since a long time, because the chemistry of the species meant that there could not be any kind of attraction among members of the same bloodline. Never and for no reason. And not a day passed in which the blond didn’t thank for that.

“Honey, it is better that you take a shower ... and I do not think the owner of the red scarf would want it back? Knowing what you used it for...”

Arthur looked at the pillow. A small piece of red cloth was left in sight and he hastened to slip it under the soft pillow better, protecting it from the prying eyes of his sister.

“When you're done, come down in the veranda, I’ll make you breakfast ... then, we'll talk if you want.”

“As you wish, little sister” said the other, stretching and ruffling his hair as he walked toward the bathroom.

He heard the door closing behind him and hurried into the shower, allowing the hot water to worship his sculpted muscles. It washed away the remnants of his pleasure from his body. However, it did not eliminate what remained of that wonderfully intense dream, whose contours still burned strongly in his mind. It was sharp and perfect, branded.

I had him in my arms.

Merlin is mine.

***

Morgana made croissants. He loved when his sister cooked those sweet rolls that flooded the house with a wonderful aroma of butter. He loved it even more when she set the table in the veranda and the morning light reverberated on the table, colored with a thousand of different small bottles of jam (his sister’s passion), orange juice and coffee. Morgana definitely knew how to cook for him, especially when she wanted to make him talk. She was damn skillful at it.

He loved his sister. She was a beautiful sweet and intelligent Alpha and somehow, she had always watched over him. She was his confessor when he fought with his father and she always had a kind word for him, when he was down. Above all, she could read him better than anyone else could.

Arthur smiled and sat, letting himself be embraced by the first warmth of the morning rays, admiring the grace with which Morgan took the croissants. She opened them and filled them with as much butter and jam as possible and then she passed one to him.

“So, Arthur...” she began softly, while his brother bit into the first one “...it seems you like this Merlin Emrys a lot.”

“Would you believe me if I deny it?”

“I would say no, dear... especially after what I have seen this morning... but then, I had never seen my brother so excited by a scarf. I saw it last night when you rushed on the bleachers to take it, after Merlin and Gwaine were gone. How you kept it close to you.”

Arthur turned red as a tomato, obviously embarrassed, while Gana was smiling, because she had clearly hit the mark.

“Merlin Emrys...I remember this name from somewhere. Whatever… from what I could see; he is a beautiful specimen of Beta? Omega?”

“Do not joke, Morgana... he is a Beta, of course. Although, I must admit that he has a very sweet sub-smell, actually similar to the one of Omegas. However, it is also true that if we were not Primes we would not even be able to perceive it ... in fact, the boys do not smell it. You and I do.”

“Interesting, Arthur ...it had been so long since I saw you so taken by something or.... someone with such intensity! The last time, I think it was Gwen, if I’m not wrong, but I've never seen you so taken by her sincerely...” said Gana, taking two sips of mint tea. Her favorite.

“Can we not talk about Gwen? Thanks!” Continued the blonde, obviously annoyed.

“I’m sorry, Artie. I was just saying that it's nice to see you in love...”

In love. That word sounded like a tuning fork in him, opening his eyes, digging in the heart. Was he? Really? Or was it just a physical attraction due to the hormones? No, it was not. It was much, much more.

More than he really wanted to admit.

“Morgana...is it possible... that only after a meeting one evening, a person can manage to enter in your heart and in your mind more deeply than you could ever imagine? Do you think it’s possible to love someone after just meeting him?”

“Arthur, I’m a woman. Of course, I believe in love at first sight... is it what happened with him? With Merlin I mean...” she asked curiously.

“I don’t know... but when he is not present, it is as if he is there, always, in a deep dark part of me. I cannot get rid of him. I feel as if I have a need inside, screaming his name, and trust me; it is a deeply Alpha need! The strange thing is that I feel everything that I should feel toward an Omega, but he is not. I want to be near him, protect him, take care of him, dominate him, love him, bond him to me…Jesus, it is torture, Gana!” Arthur let out, shaking his head back and looking intently at the ceiling of the porch, as if he could read there his non-existent answers to his questions.

“Uhm... it’s probably due to his sub-smell, so similar to an Omega’s one, that exalted your senses ... or maybe he's an Omega under suppressors ... have you ever thought about that?”

“No, Gana, I rule it out! He is a Beta! He’s not scared or submissive or in need of attention, nor lascivious in any sense. In fact, he is alive, vital, has his opinions and defends the rights of Omegas, no matter what the consequences are. He is a genius. Did you know he graduated two years ahead of schedule?... He could be an Alpha with that attitude! He is a rebel. The first time we met, he dared to challenge me. To challenge me, can you image it? A Prime Alpha! If he were an Omega, he would never have done it! He is really...Oh God; I did not know whether to hate him or love him, because of the balls he had.”

“Well, I'd say you have optimally chosen the second option, brother...”

“Yes... I also believe it...”

“BUT you must admit that it is unnatural that he wakes your Alpha instincts so strongly if he is a Beta. Certain dynamics happen only with Omegas...”

“Dynamics?”

“Yes, brother! I don’t mean only the needs that you have mentioned before ... some highly dominant Alphas tend to pour certain instincts even on their Beta mates, such as to protect them, dominate them. Some of them even bite them to create a fake Bond just because they feel the need to and not because nature demands it. In this case, however, the dominant factor is the Alpha’s desire to treat a Beta as an Omega. It happens rarely, but it happens. However, there are things that simply cannot exist except with an Omega. For example, the Knot during the coitus. It will never form with a Beta, no matter how captivating his scent is...”

“Well then, I'll just dream him like I did tonight. In order to have him, I’m willing to sacrifice whatever instinct I have. I’m a Prime. I can do it. I can avoid biting him. I can be what he wants me to be...”

Morgana put the cup of tea on the table and looked at him seriously. Her severe green eyes penetrated him, disturbing him. Her expression changed into a mixture of sadness and resignation for that hardheaded brother who did not want to understand. All his instincts, from the first moment they met, had pigeonholed Merlin as an Omega, yet Arthur rejected that idea with all his being.

“Arthur, if he was an Omega, you would not be able to control anything. And maybe, you’d deserve it!”

“But he is not! He is a Beta, Gana. He is a fucking, Beta.” ruled the blond, standing up and trying to go. “If I had even the suspicion that he was an Omega, I would not even have approached him. You know I hate them! I will NEVER be with an Omega. NEVER, Gana. Never.” He finished with a growl. Then, he abandoned the veranda, dragging his sister’s shocked look, full of pity.

***

Merlin stood limply in the bathtub. The hot water and a great deal of lather at the scent of lavender gave him comfort in the water. That morning, he woke up early. Too early.

He closed his eyes and breathed loudly, trying to deal with his emotions...

It had happened again. Dreaming about Arthur Pendragon twice in two weeks and coming both the times was too much even for him.

Yes, he had dreamed of him.

That morning, he had literally jumped out of bed, flying to the bathroom to check his neck. If a part of him was relieved to see that there were no signs of the Bond, his Omega nature had made him feel a certain disappointment, or better to say, a livid anger due the evident lack of it.

Deep inside, he knew he wanted that sign. The point where Arthur had bitten him in the dream hurt. It was as if his body desired that damn bite so much to let him noticed it with the pain.

How was it possible ... he had been with Arthur so little that night, even if the contact had been intense. Returning to his room to get some clean underwear before getting into the bathroom, he had noticed that in the room the smell of the Alpha was still clearly present, which had frightened him to death...

The answer to all his questions was lying on the nightstand next to his candle. The shirt worn by Arthur during the game the night before was making a fine show of itself. It was drenched in sweat and Alpha pheromones. The note above it carried Gwaine’s handwriting and quoted 'For Merlin: last night, Percy visited with a gift for you ... guess from whom? Sleep well! I have to go out. I’ll come back for lunch.”

All made sense now. Arthur’s essence came from the t-shirt. Merlin had had it under his nose all night, filling the air with pheromones and unconsciously, his body had associated the smell of the garment to its owner.

Promising to himself to strangle his flatmate, Merlin squeezed into the water and put his knees to his chest, trying to calm his crushed heart.

He was deeply ashamed of himself.

Yet, during that strange and extremely realistic dream, he had not had the strength to oppose him.

He had donated himself to Arthur as if it were the most natural and right thing in the world. As a drug, that Alpha had crept into the folds of his thoughts, in the depths of his heart and Merlin already knew he could live without him only at the cost of a lot of agony.

The Imprinting was claiming its price, his nature shouted the purely and deliciously Omega need to seek his Alpha, to please him, to live for him and with him, to be caught, to be dominated.

All the things Merlin hated and vowed never to do.

It was simple: he just had to decide between Arthur and his personal and mental freedom.

Because he knew that once the Bond was established, there was not turning back.

Will had taught him well.

Since he had been working in his uncle’s medical clinic, he had seen it all. Omegas very happy to have marks to show their Alphas’ domination; Omegas impregnated against their will, without a chance to take birth control because their Alphas would not allow it. How many Alphas did not even let their Omegas entering the room of the doctor alone, insisting to accompany them. And what did those thick-headed do? They smiled, Jesus. As if their only concern was to please their master, as good-trained dogs. Once, one had come proudly wearing a leather collar with a tag with the initials of his Alpha... shocking

 No.

Merlin would never give in. He could only imagine how Arthur would reduce him. Probably, he would put the leash on him the day after the Bond. It’s true he had apologized for his behavior, which was absolutely unusual for an Alpha... but Merlin had to be careful.

 A wolf can disguise himself as a sheep but he is still a wolf, Merlin...

But then, if his reasoning was so damn logic, why was so hard not to beg the wolf to eat him...

Merlin sank his head into the water to try not to hear the echo of his own thoughts... what an unworthy mess!

He forced himself to get out of the tub, when small lesions formed on his fingertips.

He dried himself quickly and, still in a bathrobe, returned to his room. He opened the window to change that air, still so full of the scent of Arthur.

Before he knew it, the brunet was already clutching in his slender fingers the shirt given to him by the Alpha. He brought it to his face and breathed strongly, closing his eyes and looking for him under the eyelids. He found him immediately in front of him, with that body and devilish smile, those blue eyes lit with fire.

“Ask me for it, Merlin...” his deep voice...

“No...”

“Ask me for it...” in his ears...

“Never...”

Merlin savored again the strength of that moment in his mind, loving him more than he wanted. He touched his lips with his fingers as if to search for a contact that was not there ... then, he opened his eyes, folded the shirt of the blond, put it in a clear plastic bag and put it away in a drawer, to safety.

Hurriedly, he walked to the kitchen to see what he could find in the fridge.

Strangely, that morning, he was hungry...

Chapter Text

M: Hi, Gwaine. Are you ok?

G: Hey, Gana! I’m fine. What about you?

M: I wanted to compliment you. Bringing Merlin to the match on Saturday was a master's touch! How's our invasion plan?

G: I’ll just tell you that Sunday morning, I caught him eating. Eating! Without me forcing him to. God, I was about to have an embolus! How is going with Artie?

M: Tell me about it. He is more stubborn than a beast. He likes Merlin a lot but he does not accept his nature. He is so convinced that he is a Beta. It’s essential we make them meet again.

G: At the restaurant where I work, on Wednesdays at lunch there are not a lot of people. I will invite Merlin and "accidentally" you and Arthur might be there too.

M: Perfect. Time is running out.

G: Ok. I’ll also invite Uncle Gaius. I will inform him in private and he will be happy to help us.

M: What do you mean?

G: He hates to see his nephew going on with suppressors. It is long to explain but he will help us to get Merlin out of his cocoon if he sees what happens when those two are together!

M: All you need, sweetie! Or glory or death! Kiss Percy for me.

G: I will, my General!

***

That week, the routine resumed without major shocks and Merlin was increasingly torn.

Every day, getting up from the bed, he kept saying to himself that he had put a lid on Arthur once and for all, putting as much distance as possible between them and with the firm intention not to see him again. However, every time he said that, his goddamn inner voice kept asking insistently to see his Alpha again and it was really, really stressful.

He tried to solve the problem with a double dose of suppressants, which helped but not too much.

Sometimes, he could not resist and opened the drawer where he kept Arthur’s t-shirt. He opened the thin bag in which he held it. He touched it with his fingertips, just before closing the plastic bag and the drawer, as if he was afraid to be discovered. Then, he went into the bathroom. He closed the door behind him and inhaled strongly the scent imprinted on his fingers, horny to explore his body in a silent shame.

 Arthur...what the hell are you doing to me?

That morning, as usual, he tried to stifle the image of blond by diving into his work in the clinic which, thank God, could keep his mind busy for most of the day. It was the case, until his uncle called him from the hallway, while he was writing a prescription to a patient.

“Boy, it’s that crackpot of your roommate at the phone for you...“ Gaius exclaimed benevolent, coming into the office with a smile, holding the cordless phone to his nephew "... hurry… Mrs. Otis is already waiting and you know how pregnant women can become ... irritable!"

“Thanks, Uncle. It’ll just take a moment," answered the brunet, taking the handset.

“Hello, my little elephant! It’s your super sexy favorite waiter! How about having lunch here with me? I'm so bored. If you do not come, I swear that I’ll put myself behind the counter and sleep, my boss will catch me, I'll be fired and it will be your entire fault...” Gwaine begged from the other side of the wire.

“Well, tell Mr Super Sexy that the next time he has the morning shift, he should sleep more than four scarce hours..."

“Come on, Merl, handsome, a little bit of more understanding for your old friend would not hurt... do I need to beg you? Because I’ll do it if you want..." whined the brown- haired man with a plaintive voice.

“Ok, ok, but only if the food is free. I finish at 13.00 in the clinic and I'll be there at 13.20. Wait for me, ok?" Merlin sighed, defeated.

“This is how I want you!!! I'll wait for you, dear! Pass the phone to Uncle Gaius."

Merlin, amazed by the request, passed the phone to the old man who listened for a moment and concluded with a nod. Then, he closed the communication with a mischievous smile.

“Well? What did Gwaine want from you?" Merlin asked, suspicious.

“Nothing of importance. He invited me to lunch!" said Gaius, raising an eyebrow and rushing to let Mrs. Otis in.

Merlin’s sixth sense snapped on the alert. There was something going on...

***

“Hello, Artie! Where are you?" Morgana asked from the other end of the phone.

“I'm reaching the parking lot!" the blond sighed, almost annoyed.

After a minute, she heard someone knocking lightly on the glass of her sleek black Mercedes. She opened the door to his brother who entered unceremoniously.

In response, the forest green-eyed girl speeded away, darting along the tree-lined road that led out of the university campus of Oxford.

“What’s wrong, little brother?" the girl asked, changing gear and accelerating systematically.

“Nothing. Don’t worry, Gana. I'm just tired lately. It may be the spring, the course of Advanced Criminal Law...”

“Merlin Emrys..." Morgana said mischievously.

Arthur glared at her. “Ok, you damned Witch! What do you want me to say? That I like him? You know it already! That I think about him all the times? You know this too!"

His sister smiled sincerely, giving him an elusive look and added "Calm down, brother. You know I love you.  By the way...news? Did you invite him on a date? Maybe for lunch or dinner?"

The blond curled his lip as he always did when something worried him. He wrapped his arms in front of his chest and allowed himself a moment to think.

“No, Gana. I hadn’t had the chance yet. I don’t even have his number... I can never talk to him enough to ... I never have enough time or lucidity to take a step forward. Moreover, I honestly don’t even know if he would agree to see me in private. He hates Alphas. Every now and then, I think it's all in my head. I mean… we met only twice and in both cases, he ran away before I could react. I don’t know, Gana. This story is driving me crazy! Maybe I should let it go and move on with my life...”

Morgana had a feline smile.

“Oh my God… my brother giving up? It’s not like you! However, if you put it like this, next time I see him I could have a go with him. Personally, I find him extremely attractive. A little too thin indeed, but there is always time for that. I cannot wait to do a nice restorative therapy on him. He has two eyes, deep as the night; his black hair is so dark that it seems to have blue reflections. Have you ever noticed it? Then, that mouth looks so soft …”

“Gana, STOP IT!” Arthur snapped suddenly. Morgana slowed for a moment to look at her brother. His lips were stretched in a hard line, his jaw clenched, his blue eyes darkened as the stormy sky and tension crossed the muscles of that perfect body.

“Artie, if you react like this for a joke, I don’t think you really want to give up. Fight for what you want as you always have! He can’t stand Alphas? Show him he is wrong. Do you want him? Win him over! Woo him! Let him know you for who you are and he will love you like I do!!” said the brunet reassuring, before returning to push on the accelerator.

“And he's a boy! Have you noticed?" she added immediately after.

“What are you saying, Gana?"

“Nothing... until now, it seemed like you had always preferred women to men... in fact, I have NEVER seen you with a man..."

“I don’t know what to say, Gana. I am shocked too! I'm probably losing my mind...”

“Ok, now stop. Let's enjoy lunch with Gwaine, ok? I am starving...”

***

Indeed, nothing could compare to the enjoyment she felt at seeing her brother, as he watched the object of his desires entering the front door of the King's Cross. Arthur was drinking a coke and he almost choked when his eyes met Merlin’s, equally astonished to see him.

The both of them stared for a moment before sinking into each other. They looked away embarrassed, blushing deliciously.

Morgana was the first one to get up and to head toward Merlin and his uncle. She cordially greeted and invited them to eat together, while a smiling Gwaine was already beginning to join two tables together.

So, if a part of Merlin wanted to torture and kill his roommate with an ax (because he ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT BELIEVE IN COINCIDENCES, especially those that had to do with Arthur), his Omega part shined with excitement, clearly perceiving the presence of the Alpha.

Gaius sat in front of the young brunet woman; while Merlin was obviously seated in front of the blond...Let the dance begin.

Like the previous times, as always when they came near each other, their eyes were unable to break away from those of the other. Their bodies began to emit pheromones to recognize, find and claim each other. They talked in silence, words gone, only the senses and instincts commanded. Merlin let out a deep breath, his beating heart caught in his throat as he wetted his lips. Across the table, Arthur swallowed, making his Adam's apple towered in his powerful and alive neck, pleading to be kissed.

“Well, gentlemen” Gwaine began, interrupting their thoughts “What can I bring you to eat?”

“For me, seafood pasta and a bottle of white wine” Morgana said nonchalantly.

“For me a pizza, Gwaine ... put on whatever you like,” said Gaius.

“For me, a double hamburger with fries” said Arthur.

“I take a salad with tuna and tomatoes.” Merlin finished, returning the menu to the waiter.

“Good. I will bring you everything soon” the brown-haired man with the cowlick informed them, winking at the brunet, who nearly ate him alive… clothes included.

When their orders arrived shortly after, Arthur looked at Merlin briefly and then, he rested his eyes on his salad, bending down the sides of his mouth in a clear sign of disapproval. It didn’t escape Merlin’s attention.

Do not talk. Pretend you did not see him. Say noth...

“Something to say?" Merlin snapped suddenly.

“Do you eat only a salad?"

“Yes. I like it and it doesn’t weigh me down. I have to work this afternoon."

“It does not weigh you down for sure. BUT it does not support you either."

“It is more than sufficient for my metabolism. I don’t need to eat sandwich and chips to feel satiated."

“Are you sure it’s enough?"

“Certain"

Their eyes were planted in the eyes of the other and they were like a fire that blazed. Arthur barely refrained from retorting. The desire and anger were palpable under the skin, his jaw and full lips tightened into a hard line. 

And here they are, those damned Alpha pheromones, getting straight under Merlin’s skin and in his spine. They started to wrap and claim him, gradually destroying his defenses by imposing a state of attention on the movements of the blonde. Arthur must have known he had effected Merlin, because the left corner of his mouth lifted in a half smile. He threw a fork in the wrong way on one side; he took the sandwich in front of him with both hands and he voluptuously bit into it in front of Merlin. He stared at the brunet in a way that seemed to say, “I'll eat you alive. You will end up like this sandwich, dying between my lips”.

Jesus, he was really sexy while eating. It was a sight to see the food getting into his mouth, wrapped in those full lips, as his soft tongue licked them.

Merlin felt himself dying inside.

Shit, is he doing it on purpose?

With every bite that the blonde gave to the damn sandwich, Merlin felt tremors shivers of hot pleasure, starting from the stomach and going straight to settle in his lower belly, where his pants were starting to feel ignominiously tight. He could not take his eyes from Arthur’s mouth. He could not do anything but stand there in front of him, watching him eat with a lump in his throat, while his cheeks blazed redness, as also the rest of his body.

He seemed a fool and he knew it.

“Eat your salad, Merlin...” the blond ordered with a low and baritone voice, dominant in every sense. It caused the brunet another volley of shivers of pleasure straight to his now aching penis.

Merlin obeyed like a good Omega, as his body and his mind, clouded by the pheromones of the other, ordered him to do. The salad was devoid of any flavor at that point.

It looked disgusting.

Fuck, Merlin, come round.

At that point, the satisfied blond cut a small piece of his sandwich, handing it to Merlin, who kept looking at him, captivated by his movements.

“Take it. Try it ... you’ll see… You’ll like it...” Arthur said with the exact same deep voice, coming from the underworld of the Earth.

It inflamed Merlin’s already tired cerebral cortex. The brunet, as hypnotized, raised his hands to accept the Alpha’s gift. He tried to ignore the joy that his Omega body and brain felt because of that gesture that denoted care and attention from the other. The moment his long and thin fingers touched the strong and robust ones of the Alpha, Merlin drank greedily his heat, shocking himself. However, not as much as seeing a smiling Arthur taking his dirty fingers in his damn mouth, sucking them softly between his lips one by one with his tongue. Arthur’s blue eyes, darkened with desire, firmly planted on his, while ordering him, “Eat, Merlin...”

Arthur watched as a captivated, upset and embarrassed Merlin gently brought the sandwich to his soft and smooth lips. Arthur would have eaten them with desire like that fucking sandwich, while his blue eyes shone, betraying the desire that the brunet had for him.

This time I will not let you go! You must understand, Merlin ... you have to want me...

He could not deny that seeing Merlin obeying him without uttering words, excited him heavily. He would have made Merlin his, by ripping his clothes and by taking him there on that table until he begged for mercy, if they were not in the presence of family members that, in the meantime, he knew were watching them as they spoke. However, he didn’t care.

There were only Merlin and he in that moment.

He and the fucking, faint and sweet smell that he emanated and that was going to his brain. It made Arthur see hallucinatory fantasies such as, taking the brunet, throwing him against a wall, licking the hollow of the neck, where the scent was stronger and bite him there, on the spot, Binding him to Arthur, teaching him the respect due to his Alpha, forcing him to fear and want him.

Wait a moment. What the hell I’m thinking? It’s not like he is an Omega! He is a Beta, you imbecile…Come round. He is a Beta with a fucking smell similar to the one of Omegas, but he is not an Omega. Thanks God! I must be one of those too possessive Alphas who act around Betas as if they were with Omegas...

Merlin ended his part of the sandwich with three bites, having to admit to himself that it was sublime. Arthur stared at him straight in the eye with a so obvious and clear desire that bended his knees and reduced them in jelly, and the fact was not displeased at all...

Merlin looked away, closed the long plaid shirt to hide the soaring erection in his Jeans and got up from the table to go to the toilet quickly and closing the door behind.

Damned imprinting. Why can I not control myself? ... Why am I so fucking weak?

He rinsed his face with cold water, trying to calm down and to return clear-headed as usual. He tried to kill the erection in his pants, but with poor results.

I have a dignity to defend and.... Oh blessed Christ!

Reopening the bathroom door to go back to his sit, Arthur’s Alpha pheromones invested him again like a slap in the face.

Meanwhile, they had ordered dessert. Arthur had a sinful piece of strawberry cheesecake in front of him and was holding the spoon limply between his lips, waiting.

“Boy” said Gaius “we ordered dessert, but we did not know what you wanted...”

“Doesn’t matter, uncle. I don’t eat sweets.” He said, replanting his sea-blue eyes on Arthur’s sky-blue ones, who did not seem to appreciate his regained lucidity.

The blond looked down at his cake, as if he was disappointed or worried. He waited for the other tablemates to resume their conversation, before replanting his eyes on the brunet, talking in a low voice.

“Why don’t you taste a piece of my cake, Merlin? A bit of sugar will not harm you! What will they say in the hospital if you faint in the ward?”

“No, thanks!” he said, blunt.

“But you liked the sandwich. Or am I wrong?”

Merlin’s cheekbones immediately took a lovely pink color. While biting his lower lip, he whispered, “yes, it was good, but I don’t want anything else.”

Arthur's face became serious all at once and the boy leaned toward the brunet not to be heard by the others. His proximity was intoxicating, as his warm voice that reached his ears, imprinting itself in his brain, like his musky and manly scent.

“You must eat more, Merlin. If you don’t have breakfast and at lunch you eat a salad or, as today, a miserable piece of sandwich, you will not have the strength to...”

“I KNOW HOW TO TAKE CARE OF MYSELF, ARTHUR,” Merlin hissed, incinerating the other with his eyes, trying to maintain the control that he felt slipping through his hands like sand.

“I don’t want to impose, Merlin. I’m saying this, because I'm worried about you, not because I doubt that you know how to look after yourself. You're too skinny and skipping meals is not good for you...”

“Arthur, stop. I don’t want the fucking cake as I don’t want an Alpha to tell me what to do with my life. Do you understand the concept or should I draw it to make you understand?”

“Well, sorry if I'm worried about you, Genius!”

“I have never asked you to worry about me, have I?!” The brunet hissed, regretting his statement immediately, as soon as he saw Arthur’s look, changing again in a mixture of concern, disappointment and anger. His fists clenched until his knuckles whiten, the blonde’s full lips closed in a thin line as he lowered his eyes.

That look of defeat instead of exhilarating him, struck Merlin as a stab in the heart that hurt more than anything he had ever experienced.

Suddenly, Merlin’s long white fingers crept surprisingly on the blond’s closed fist, which opened immediately, giving him his fork.

With a single elegant gesture, Merlin sank the prongs in the cheesecakes. He took a consistent piece and carried it quickly to his mouth, magnetizing to himself Arthur’s blue eyes, somewhere between amazement and disbelief.

Neither of them spoke. There was no need. Arthur raised the sides of his mouth in a shy smile, immediately releasing the tension, while Merlin took the same color and the same consistency of a tomato. When Arthur smiled, he was wonderful and the Omega felt his heart lighter than ever, seeing his Alpha’s satisfaction.

God, Merlin, what have you done? I have to run away! Now!

“Well, sorry everyone but I have to go back to the hospital. I was asked if I could get in an hour earlier today. I had forgotten“, Merlin said, attracting everyone's attention, while he could still feel his cheeks burning and Arthur’s eyes stabbing him. Merlin knew he would sense his discomfort. Alphas could read Betas and Omegas as open books, because they perceived any changes in their mood through the emitted pheromones and the smell of their skin.

Merlin prayed to God that Arthur could not read him at that precise moment, while he put on his denim jacket and ran out of the local as soon as possible.

Just outside, he breathed a deep sigh of relief and began the long briskly walk toward his goal. He had to put more distance as possible between him and the Alpha and he had to do it now!

 

He is running away. Again! Shit!!!

Morgana glanced significantly at her brother, who put on his jacket as she threw at him the keys of her car, in front of a pleasantly surprised Gaius. The subliminal message was "do not let him go".

Arthur left the restaurant hurriedly. He identified Merlin trotting briskly down the street. Holy Christ, he was fast.

Without a moment of hesitation, he mounted in his sister’s Mercedes and left. He was determined to reach quickly his prey. He passed him and exited out of the car, putting his body in front of Merlin without a word, but with a look that said it all.

Merlin stopped on the sidewalk, surprised to see the other. Blond and beautiful, muscles rippling beneath the gray t-shirt, toned thighs wrapped by light jeans and the expression on the face was of immediate violence.

“Can I give you a lift?” Arthur began with a smile, pointing to the car, betraying hope in his voice.

“No. No, thanks, Arthur. I’ll walk.”

“Merlin, by walking it'll take at least forty minutes if not more and if you really are in such a hurry...”

“Can you explain how do you know where I work?”

“I have my resources...”

“Ah… is that so? ...well, tell 'your resources' that tonight I'll kill him when he returns from work.”

“Merlin, please, give me a chance to show you that I'm not a complete asshole...” Arthur finished with a so sweet and appealing expression that Merlin felt himself literally melt in front of him.

God, he is so damn beautiful and Alpha and... Don’t giveindon’tgiveinDON’TGIVEIN!

“I...all right. All right! But only because if not, I’ll be late!” the brunet ended, red as a pepper, planting his eyes on the ground for a moment.

Merlin tried not to smile when he saw Arthur’s sincere smile. He looked like a child. He was clear, nice and warm as the sun. Moreover, seeing him so happy, filled Merlin with a strange and sweet feeling. For a moment, he smiled back, unable to restrain himself as he climbed in the powerful sports car.

While driving, Arthur was something inhumanly sexy. His body was tense and focused as he rapidly shifted gears, speeding down the street and displaying an innate self-confidence in everything he did. However, the final blow came when he put on the Ray-Ban sunglasses, which gave him an aspect of someone so hot, so sure of himself, so damn dominant. Merlin felt like fainting. He felt his defenses crumble as in the dream of a few nights before and as always, when he was with Arthur. However, this time, it was different. He could not escape and was trapped. It was his own fault.

He was literally drowning in Arthur’s Alpha pheromones and beginning to feel his senses clouding over. He closed his eyes, starting to feel rather than see the Alpha next to him. In turn, he started to emit more hormones, while the suppressors were slowly stopping working, discovering his disobedient Omega instincts.

Arthur must have sensed his excitement, because Merlin began to hear him breathing faster. When he opened his eyes to see what was going on, he saw Arthur with swollen open lips, as he tried to bring air in his lungs. His eyes, behind the glasses, were darkened by desire and goose bumps were evident on his muscular taut forearms, while he held the steering wheel so tight to make the knuckles whiten.

He was an excited Alpha that wanted, felt his Omega, who sought and claimed him.

The cold blade of awareness attacked Merlin’s heart, while fear was making his way into his body, exciting him but putting him even more on the alert.

Then, Arthur made an abrupt hard braking: they had arrived in the hospital parking lot.

They looked at each other, gasping. Aware of what was going on.

Merlin rapidly got off the car without a word, almost running away like that night. This time, he heard the car door opening and closing behind him, before he felt the strong hand of the blond holding him back, making him land softly on his chest.

Arthur. God, Arthur…

“I will not let you escape, Merlin. Jesus, tell me why! Why do you always run away from me?”

Because I do not want to and I cannot give in, and if you look at me like this, I...Oh God...!

“Arthur, let me go...please, you...you can’t...”

“Merlin, I need to know. I need to know if it's all in my head and If I'm deluding myself. If I’m the only one to feel...shit, all this... I can no longer concentrate on something that is not your lips or the way you look at me or talk to me. Because in every moment of the day and the night, my mind rages on you in ways that I'm ashamed to say. Because every time you are not with me, my instinct seeks you, my mind calls you, my body longs for you so much it hurts. And the more I try to rebel and to regain control of my heart, the more I realize that I cannot because in truth, I haven’t a heart in my chest anymore. You tore it out and you're holding it tight. I have neither the will nor self-esteem nor pride, and I’m an Alpha, Jesus Christ. I'm going crazy and if I’m the only one to feel all this, I have to know now or I’ll probably die. Tell me, Merlin. If I'm deluding myself, tell me you don’t feel the same about me and I swear that I disappear from your life right now. Tell me you do not think about me, that you don’t want me, I’m nothing for you and you will not see me ever again... ”

Merlin was shaking in Arthur’s arms. He was trembling visibly and feverishly, while hot tears stung his eyes making them shiny, bright and wonderful. He was biting hard on his lower lip.

Why does this Alpha, who by his nature is arrogant and an asshole, unable to be empathetic towards those who are not of his species, care for him?!? Why is he giving Merlin his heart without any hesitation or fear, in a manner so damn real and deeply human? Why had he to rip him from his little protected world, made of habits and loneliness, intruding by force in his life? And above all, why all of himself, from his body to his brain, did not want anything but Arthur on him, inside of him, now and forever?!?

He was crying.

Merlin was crying.

Everything was just too much.

Too many emotions.

Too much desire.

Too much anger toward himself and the world.

Yet, in the arms of this beautiful specimen of Alpha, for the first time in his life, he felt at home, protected and safe as ever. He felt alive, loved and desired. And Merlin found himself loving in turn, wishing all that heat, which warmed his cold soul, long dormant in the shadows; those words that went under his skin, inflaming him with desire; everything...

And he hated himself.

Because he knew that he was giving himself to the person he was falling in love with...

Because as he put his palms on Arthur’s face, he felt the resentment slipping away from him. As he approached his face to the one of the blond, stirring their breaths, he felt the weight of years and years of repression abandoning him. As he placed his trembling lips on Arthur’s soft, warm and inflamed ones, he realized he was inevitably lost... against all his logic, his life, against his pride, against his will.

Against everything that he had been until then.

Against all his beliefs.

When their lips met, nothing had more sense.

That initially sweet, shy and clumsy contact became soon frantic and feverish, animalistic in all senses, while a delighted Arthur forcefully opened up Merlin’s mouth with his tongue. He put inside his hot, wet and impatient tongue, which looked desperately for its mate. And when he found it, he began to court it by licking and sucking it with pleasure and desire, forcing it to a frenzied and primordial dance. They kissed, wanting each other, throwing in it all the anxiety and bitterness and the mutual need of those past weeks. They deeply loved their mutual taste, imprinting it in every fiber of their body as they both melted in delicious moans. They drank each other’s essence in that contact, so intimate, sweet, wonderful, desired above damn everything else. Arthur’s right hand on his neck pushed him against his mouth, sinking into his inked hair, drawing small circles to the rhythm of their kiss as to cheer him up. His left hand was around Merlin’s waist, promising love, presence and warmth.

They broke apart, only when the both of them were in need of air. Merlin abruptly walked away from a shocked Arthur, with a huge erection, visible through the fabric of his jeans. His eyes darkened with desire, the expression dazed as he watched Merlin, not knowing what to say, what to do. He only had genuine surprise in his eyes and a cheeky desire, drawn on those swollen and red lips, calling, shouting not to be abandoned.

Merlin trembled. A hand over his mouth and his eyes wet as he watched the man he wanted more than anything else in the world, knowing what this meant...

He desired an Alpha. He was falling in love with an Alpha.

Arthur had managed to get into him more deeply than he ever wanted. In the heart, mind, breath, soul, blood... he was everywhere in him. He had failed to keep himself from wanting, desiring and kissing him. Instinct had prevailed on the mind.

God, what have I done? What have I done....

Before he knew it, he had crossed the doors of the hospital lobby, taking shelter in the doctor’s locker room and closing the door behind. He sat on the long bench, hands firmly in the hair, elbows on his knees and eyes closed, while tears streamed down his flushed face.

What have I done?

Chapter Text

“If today I had not seen with my own eyes the chemistry between those two and someone had come to tell me that my nephew has a crush on an Alpha, I think I would have called this person a crazy crackpot and I would have recommended hospitalization. I think it’s time that I go to church to light a candle the size of a light pole!”  Gaius exclaimed, still sat at the restaurant table, a half smile on his wrinkled face. Morgana and Gwaine had spent the last half hour informing the old man about what was going on between those two, complications including.

After Merlin had escaped from the restaurant with Arthur at his heels nearly an hour before, the old doctor had been staring at Morgana and Gwaine giving each other a high five and laughing, leaving him dumbfounded. For good grace, the two devious conspirators had decided to let him part of their plans, informing him of all that had happened in the past few weeks.

“Now, I understand why Merlin is often airy fairy at work ... which is unusual for him! My nephew has always been very precise and private. Probably this is why he told me nothing... after what happened to Will, I no longer hoped he could be interested in someone in that sense... let alone in an Alpha... I will do everything I can to assist you with this issue. I really wish Merlin would stop denying his nature. He takes suppressors that hurt him and has been already taking them for far too many years. It is not healthy for an Omega to arrive at his age without Bond. In the long run, that stuff will devastate his liver… not to mention the laws about mandatory fecundation...”

Morgana sincerely smiled and in her mind, she was already elaborating small delicious tortures for his brother to be implemented with the help of the doctor, while next to her, Gwaine was patting Gaius’ back.

“Welcome to our little War Council, uncle!” the flowing brown- haired man addressed him, visibly pleased.

It was the bell of the door of the restaurant to startle them. They were the only ones in the room at that time. They watched as Arthur entered and unsteadily approached their table. Tension shined through him clearly by the clenched jaw, by his blue gaze wandering aimlessly, by his Adam’s apple as he swallowed, by his hands stuck in his jacket and by his lips curled as if he was thinking about how to solve one of the greatest mysteries of the universe.

Eventually, his eyes fell on the six pairs of eyes planted on him, in reverent waiting.

“Merlin?” Morgana dared asking with a whisper.

“I... I escorted him to the hospital...” Arthur said, looking at her in the eyes.

“Well... so what? What's wrong?” Gwaine asked, sensing that something must have happened, because he was not used to see Arthur so upset.

“Did you ask him on a date?” his sister asked anxious...

“No”

“Was he angry with you?!?”

“No”

“Has he offended you?”

“No”

“Artie, what the hell happened then? Why are you so shattered?”

“I...He...He ki...”

“He ki???”

“Kissed me! He kissed me!” He spat out in one breath, embarrassed.

For a moment, the onlookers watched him with wide eyes, before shy smiles appeared on their lips.

“Ah...“ Gwaine said pulling out of his pocket the cell phone that had vibrated for a moment. He looked absorbed at the screen “... It’s Merlin! He sent me a message asking if tonight I can pick him up at the hospital at the end of his shift.”

“Well, I could do it” The blond said, hopeful. Inside, he felt thrilled by the desire to see Merlin again as soon as possible.

“Bad idea, Arthur.” the brown- haired man said, moving a rebellious lock of hair from his face. “Listen to me. I have known Merl for years. For him, things are not so simple and if you force him now that he has taken a first step out of his shell, you will risk losing him even before being near having him. Merlin seems harsh, but he is actually very fragile and inexperienced in heart issues. Probably, what he gave you was his first kiss. And, he gave it to you, which has surely sparked an internal conflict in him. Especially, because of the fact that you should be what he hates the most in the world… in other words, an Alpha. I'll be with him tonight and let him vent.”

“As long as you keep me informed of what he tells you...” Arthur snorted annoyed.

“Arthur! Stop being a jealous Alpha.” His sister scolded him immediately.

“But he is mine! He kissed...”

“Gwaine is right, boy. What is happening in my nephew’s life is something extraordinary. I still find it hard to believe... if you care as it seems, try to be patient... slowly Gwaine and I'll give you a hand, as much as we can. Although, I have never liked to intrude in Merlin’s life too much, I'll try to do everything I can. And now, excuse me but I have to get back to the clinic” the old doctor finished, while getting up and shaking hands with Morgana. “Gwaine, if there are any problems tonight, call me, ok? See you soon, guys...” Gaius concluded, taking his leave.

“I have to return to the faculty, Gana.  Let’s go or I'll be late for the tax law course...”

“Ok, let’s go” the brunet said, standing up. “Start the car while I pay the bill”

“Perfect, but hurry up!” her brother concluded, putting on the Ray-Ban sunglasses and exiting.

He did not see his sister smiling at Gwaine, giving him a high five and winking at him.

“So, Dear! Tonight, when you're done with Merlin, I want to know everything. You’ll report to me and only to me, understand? I want to keep my brother on his toes! I need as many details as possible to improve our strategy. Tell Percy to inform the Council of the progresses and everyone to be always ready. All clear?”

“Crystalline, my General!”

“Or glory or death!”

“Or glory or death!!!”

***

Arthur had come back at Pendragon Mansion that night, unable to stay at the campus, where he had to explain his behavior to too many people. He only wanted Merlin.

He closed his eyes, languidly lying on the mattress of his king size bed and clutching the red scarf of the other, sniffing the sweet and subtle scent. In his mind, he went over that moment of pure grace that had messed up his existence and made listening to his classes that afternoon impossible.

Merlin’s beautiful blue eyes; those sweet and full lips on his; his moist and warm tongue, that danced with Arthur’s; his taste; his smell; his body; that delicious tremor that travelled along his limbs as he hugged him.

“...Probably, what he gave you was his first kiss...”

Jesus! Just thinking about it sent blood to his brain, making every single minute without the brunet an unmatched agony.

When he opened his eyes, Morgana was beside him.

“I talked to Gwaine.” She said satisfied, while her brother ran a hand through his blond hair, ruffling it and focusing on her. “Everything is fine. Don’t worry, Arthur. Merlin is only slightly shaken. Even he doesn’t understand what drove him to kiss you, but at least now he is more 'in tune' with the idea of hanging out with you and accepting your attentions, even if you are an Alpha!”

“He...What did he tell you?”

“Gwaine took Merlin out to have a beer. He says to tell you that 'he ate'; although, I don’t know exactly what he means. He also says that it is better to go easy because, for the first time, his friend admitted he doesn’t mind the idea of hanging out with you that much, which is already a lot, seeing the previous attitude of complete closure Merlin had against anyone of our Seed... He says that now it's up to you to show him you're different from how he sees Alphas! But he also says to not jump on him like a lion on a gazelle, because Merlin’s legs still work very well!” she finished with a heartening smile.

Arthur let out a sigh of relief. Now it was really up to him to make Merlin understand that he could choose Arthur as a mate; that he could love him without fear, because Arthur would never hurt him.

“Ah by the way, Arthur” his sister added with a sly smile. “This might be useful to you... take it as a little incentive in your way to success...” she said mischievous, waving a note between the thumb and the forefinger.

Arthur clumped his lips, trying to get the note, while his sister pretended not to want to give it to him ... when, after a death threat, he was finally able to snatch the note from the witch’s hands, who laughed amused; he read a cell phone number. He widened his eyes and looked hopeful.

“Is this his...his number?”

“Yes! Gwaine send it, but he recommended not calling Merlin... begin with texts. According to him, Merlin will be less embarrassed... and I agree! And remember that in love win those fleeing, so I recommend letting him have his space and not always keeping him on the leash.”

“God, Gana, I'm not a five years ago child!”

“No, in fact, you're just a possessive and impetuous Alpha in love, who has lost his mind just because his not-yet-mate gave him a kiss... having said this, I’ll leave you to it, dear!

By the way, next Sunday I have organized a nice trip to the lake with the boys; there will be also an adjoining barbecue, so do not make commitments. ”

“Perfect, Gana. Perfect...”

“Have you already had dinner?”

“Yes, don’t worry and...Thanks. Thank you so much for everything!”

She replied with a wink and left the room and her brother alone with his thoughts. Arthur jumped up and memorized Merlin’s number on his phone. He started thinking about what would be best to do or to say or…

He closed his eyes, running a hand under his shirt, gently stroking the chest and the muscles abdominal...

Arthur… Arthur....

The blond opened his eyes abruptly. He was sure he had heard Merlin’s voice calling him in his head. He took a deep breath and focused again; lowering his eyelids... and he saw him there. In front of him. Arthur recognized the room as the one of the dream of a few days before. The white wooden furniture, the large window on the courtyard, the lighted candle on the cabinet next to the bed. He, Merlin, sitting on the mattress, knees to his chest, encircled by his thin arms, sunk in the red sweatshirt, too big for him, his raven hair ruffled on the forehead, his bright eyes staring at the ceiling and his lips parted in a sigh. Near the pillow, Arthur recognized his captain's t-shirt... he had kept it close then! It was the most beautiful, sweet and fragile thing he had ever seen and his heart skipped a beat.

“Merlin” he whispered in the shadows.

The brunet tilted his head toward him with wide eyes. “Arthur…” he said, shocked...

The blond opened his sky blue eyes to find himself in his room; the phone in his right hand and Merlin’s red scarf in the left. He had seen him, but it was an illusion again.

Yet, it was so…true, real...

Is it a dream? Was it really a dream?

Looking at his phone, he began to type a message...

A: I heard you in my mind. You were calling me. Sorry, I probably sound stupid but I just wanted to know if you were all right. Good night. Arthur.

As he pressed send, he distinctly felt his heart in his chest stopping. He did it. He had sent a message to Merlin and now, he looked at the screen, impatient for an answer that he hoped could arrive soon. As a five years old child…Oh Jesus!!! Damned Witch!

He looked at the screen repeatedly… Nothing.

But what the hell was I thinking? I’m an idiot... maybe he is already sleeping.

Then, a sudden vibration rekindled his hopes.

M: I’m fine. Thanks. Sorry about today. I don’t think you're stupid. Don’t worry. Good night.

A: Don’t apologize. It has been very nice and intense, at least for me. Good night.

M: Not only for you. Good night.

A: Have you eaten? Are you really okay? Sorry again if I’m annoying you. Good night.

M: Yes. Rest reassured. I have eaten something with Gwaine at the pub. Good night.

A: Ah, ok. Then, Good night.

M: And anyway, I have had a stomachache all day long today, because of your sandwich. You won’t convince me to eat something like that ever again!

A: Because you're not used to eat meat. But it’s good for you. You have to put on more weight, Merlin. Good night.

M: Arthur... can I ask you a question?

A: At your disposal.

M: Why do you worry so much that I eat? I like being skinny and I do not intend to fatten, much less to please an Alpha who believes he has rights over me that he has not.

A: Not yet. Give me time... I'm sorry, my dear Merlin, but you just have to put on more weight.

M: Ah yes? And who will force me to?

A: I won’t force you, Merlin. As you rightly have said before, I have no right to impose myself on you, so... I hope you’ll do it on your own free will...

M: And why would I want to gain weight?

A: Can’t you understand why on your own? Yet, they tell me that you're a genius...

M: No, Arthur, I don’t understand... do you want to enlighten me?

A: Maybe it's better not. Good night, Merlin.

M: What are you doing? You throw the stone and then hide the hand?

A: Think about it. Good night, Merlin.

M: Tell me, Arthur.

A: Merlin... forget it! Good night.

M: Don’t you dare Goodnight me...! Now, explain!

A: Are you sure you want to know?

M: I would not ask…

A: And what do I gain from it?

M: Devious blackmailer! What do you want?

A: Another kiss...

M: And if I had no intension of kissing you again?

A: well, in that case, trust me… it would be pointless for you to know. Good night, Merlin.

***

That week passed too quickly. Every day something happened.

Every morning, a package of Cristie's magically appeared before the front door of the apartment in Ramsey Rd; Merlin’s favorite oil bun inside. Merlin felt amazed and surprised at first, but then, he started, as a good Omega, to feel pleased by the kindness that the Alpha dedicated him.

Every morning, Arthur sent him a message wishing him a good day, asking him if he had breakfast with his gift and if he could have a kiss as a thank you. And every morning, Merlin thanked him, informing him that he had appreciated the gift and that he had eaten, and then, in turn, he wished him a good day and replied that he could forget about the kiss.

 Obviously, Gwaine helped too by idolizing Arthur and his behavior constantly.

“See, Merl? It's not so terrible to be with an Alpha...”

“I’m not with an Alpha, Gwaine...”

“Are you sure, eh? But you like him! Come on… Artie is damn hot...”

“Yes, Gwaine, I like him, but we're not together...”

“Not yet...”

“Oh God ... it’s impossible to talk to you!”

“But he brings you food; he cares for you... Come on Merl, how much will it take for you to give in?”

“GWAINE!!! ”

“Ok ok, I’ll stop”

During the day, Arthur sent him sporadic messages like “I hate criminal law. It would be better with a kiss!”; “I’m drinking a beer with Percy and Leon. What do you think of coming to the campus and put your lips on mine?”; “What did you have for lunch today? By the way, have you thought about when you’ll kiss me again?”; “I hear you in my mind ... I know that you are dying to kiss me...”; “All I do is thinking about your mouth. I want to kiss you again...”; “I want my goodnight kiss...”

Obviously, Merlin became of all the colors of the rainbow when the phone vibrated. He could not deny that every single time he read one of the blonde’s texts, his heart beat with joy, despite his mind, too rational about it, reproached by reminding him that Arthur was an Alpha... Yet, his inner voice, shouting reasoning, began slowly to become more unstable. It was undeniable that after the fateful kiss, his Omega nature was becoming stronger and more and more arrogant and animalistic, finally free after too many years of repression.

He often thought about him, accepting his desire for the Alpha, although he was still deeply ashamed by it. Coming to terms with himself and with his convictions was not easy, but the more Arthur approached him and filled him with attention and care, the more Merlin was aware of wanting the attention.

Of wanting him.

He wanted to kiss him again... no, better… he wanted Arthur to kiss him, to take him, to claim him, to protect him.

Increasingly, he often remembered that dream ... in which he had touched him, in which they had touched each other ... his lower back caught fire immediately, and he could control himself no longer.

He was ashamed, because he locked himself in the bathroom, in his room, or wherever solitude was ensured and closed his eyes, not to see his hand slipping in his boxer shorts urgently to find his penis, discovering it already hard and trembling, in need of attention. Blushing, he closed his hand at the basis of the pole, starting to move towards the big dewy, swollen and tense under the foreskin. Then, it fell back down, slowly and then up, tightening the taut skin and testing the hardness of his own member. Then, again down toward hell, and again, again, again, with increasingly determined, hard, intense movements, that plucked delicious moans, while he bit his lower lip, panting. Then there he was, Arthur, his impudent expression, his broad shoulders, his majestic Adam's apple towering in the neck, and those stormy eyes, his red and swollen lips, the Alpha chiseled physique, hot, strong, demanding in contact with his, his mouth, his tongue, his taste, his smell...

“You are mine, Merlin... You are MINE!” his liquid lava, baritone, deep voice said.

And this thought was enough to get him on the brink, making him come with violence. His pleasure exploded on the belly, while his legs gave away with a crash and his breath choked in his throat, moaning desperately, the name of the blonde tattooed on his lips, imprinted in his soul. 

 Oh God, Arthur...what are you doing to me? ...

***

That Friday evening, Merlin was returning home a little bit earlier than usual. He was using his bike, since temperatures had begun to be much milder for the past week. The air smelled of spring and Gwaine had told him Morgana and the others were going to a trip to the lake that Sunday. They had invited Merlin too.

Obviously, a part of him could not wait, because he knew that he would see Arthur again, and that thought filled his heart of a mixture of excitement and fear, but it also drew a lovely smile on his lips.

He dismounted from the bike near the apartment he shared with Gwaine. He entered the small courtyard and placed the bike in the small rack by the window, when he felt the phone vibrating.

It was him.

Merlin took a moment to read the text before entering the house, where the light was turned on in the floor above, signing that his roommate was already back.

A: Hi, Merlin. Where are you? Did you finish work?

M: Yes... I have just arrived at home.

A: Today, I thought about you a lot. Sometimes, I think I can hear you in my head. Have you thought about me?

The brunet blushed heavily, placing a hand on his lips and smiling like a child, while he retraced in his mind the 'episode' in the bathroom of the clinic, while his uncle was calling him and asking him if he was okay since he had been in there for ten minutes...

M: I’m sorry, Arthur. But I had a lot to do today, and you're not the first of my thoughts...

A: Ah, I’m not? Have you not thought about me?

M: Oh, of course. I thought about you every time I apologized to a patient, because I had to read the messages you sent me...

A: I feel flattered you interrupt the examinations to read my texts...

SCREWED AGAIN... but was it possible that Merlin could never get the best of him?? Damned Alpha... he shook his head, smiling.

M: Actually, I am surprised you're still alive after the curses I sent you...

A: you know you're beautiful when you laugh...

Merlin looked up from the screen of the mobile phone, looking around with the heart in his throat, breathing hard and blushing.

How can he know?

M: Arthur, where are you exactly?

A: If I tell you, will you kiss me?

M: Jesus, Arthur, no one ever told you that you're persistent??

A: When I want something, I can be quite determined.

M: I would say quite a pain in the ass... Tell me where you are!

A: We have a deal?

M: Maybe... but if you do not tell me now, you will not get anything!

“Then, I'd better let you see me now...” said a voice behind the brunet.

A warm, mellow, deep and unmistakable voice that crept straight under his skin and in his heart, ripping out a beat and sending it straight into his stomach.

His voice.

God, how much he had missed it...having him near; perceiving his smell and his presence was so different from hearing him only via SMS...

The brunet turned, catching the blue eyes of a smiling Arthur. Those full and delicious lips, curled right where two dimples peeking on his cheek; his wheat hair fell limply on the forehead; the tense jaw; the tense neck; the broad and strong chest, displayed behind the V-neck of the gray light shirt. His musky smell, typical of his Seed, that drenched him, while the blond approached him with a white bag in his right hand and the other hand in his jeans pocket, perfectly bandaging his muscular legs.

He was a visionHis vision.

Merlin hurt himself to regain control of the neurons of his brain that had decided to disappear, compromising his intellectual faculties as his body lit with desire...

“I brought you something for dinner ... Do you like chicken?”

“I...yes, I like it!”

“Perfect ... I have bought you various things... I didn’t know what you like” the blond said, obviously happy to see Merlin. He drew a paper cornet from the small white bag, inside of it there were croquettes. Taking one with his fingers, he handed it to Merlin, smiling slyly.

“Open your mouth, Merlin...” the Alpha whispered, making him feel goose bumps.

Before Merlin could understand what was happening, he had already hatched instinctively his lips and bite a mouthful from an amused Arthur’s fingers.

Oh God!!! What the hell are you doing Merlin?

After feeding him, the blonde took his own fingers to his lips, sucking the residues crispy breadcrumbs and oil, sticking out his tongue and licking them softly...

But it’s not fair! The bastard is doing it on purpose...

“Do you want more, Merlin?” Arthur asked him, interested in that delicious blush that was spreading on the cheeks of his prey.

No! It is something else that I want in my mouth right now, not the fucking chicken! Oh come on Merlin, get a hold of yourself!!

Arthur smiled in amusement at seeing the confused expression of the brunet. He put a big and hot hand on Merlin’s white cheek, stroking his lips with his thumb, as if to wipe them...

Merlin froze, his body tense in the desire of the Alpha, whose pheromones floated all around him for some minutes ... they wanted and sought each other… it was useless to deny they belonged together.

“And now I want my reward if you don’t mind...” the blond said caressing, while his face approached Merlin’s, whose eyes were unable to break away from the lips of the other.

The next moment, their breaths were merged into one, their eyes closed, their lips melted together gently.

Arthur flinched a moment, watching Merlin with determination. He wrapped Merlin’s face in his hands. He opened his deep and wonderful sea eyes, trying to catch his breath. The blond was going to give him a light kiss, to test the reaction of the brunet, hoping not to be slapped in return. However, when he saw Merlin’s chin lifting up toward Arthur, looking for him, and his eyelids drooping again, trembling, Arthur found himself opening his mouth and biting Merlin’s lower lip, sucking it with kindness and desire.

Jesus, it was so damn soft...

He moved his fingers on the nape, immersing them in his inked hair and cocked his head to the side, deepening the kiss. Merlin let out a soft moan and Arthur felt him sinking his fingertips in his massive forearms. The Alpha thought Merlin wanted to push him away and for a moment he was seized by panic, but when he tried to withdraw, Merlin leaned forward, wrapping his arms around his neck, not willing to let him go.

Before he could understand what was happening, Arthur found himself encircling the slender body of the brunet and pressing against him, sinking his tongue into his mouth with delight. Merlin tasted so good and he was so hot and delicious, while welcoming Arthur between his lips. For a moment, he did not react, stiffening against him, and then, he felt him melting in his arms.

It was the end.

Merlin clung firmly to Arthur’s body and returned the kiss, moving his head in rhythm with his thrusts. He let out small-uncontrolled moans, moving away just to rub sensually against his lips and then, returning to bite and to suck the tongue even more passionately. They were both stunned, completely lost in each other, in a sweet and completely intentional and conscious gesture.

There was nothing around them, nothing made sense anymore if not the heat of their bodies, the groans in their mouths, the fingers creeping everywhere, feeling hungry, in need to touch more skin, to explore new and attractive boundaries...

There was only Merlin and his sweet and fresh smell that filled Arthur’s nostrils, his raven hair smelled of lavender between Arthur’s fingers, the soft and velvety texture of his lips against Arthur’s own.

There was only Arthur and his overpowering smell of male Alpha, his rippling muscles and his hot body that enveloped Merlin, promising love and protection. His every move was shouting desire, possession and unconditional love.

When their lips parted, Merlin pulled back by planting his intense, brilliant and slightly shiny blue eyes in Arthur’s, stepping back and looking at him as if he were struggling to process what had just happened. He was wonderful with that ruffled hair, his white and delightfully flushed cheeks and rosy swollen lips.

Their bodies were united in a hug, while Arthur’s hands descended dangerously towards Merlin’s bum, squeezing it with both hands and pushing him against himself. He made sure to make him feel how much Arthur wanted him, what the brunet could do to him, making him feel his erection, trapped in his jeans. Arthur smiled with delight when he felt that even the brunet was in his same conditions.

Jesus, What you do to me, Merlin...” the blond whispered in his ear. His voice dripped with pure desire. He hated having to let go and put distance between him and his prey. He was fully aware that if he held Merlin in his arms a minute longer, Beta or not Beta, he would ripped his clothes and fucked him in the courtyard of his house; in such a violent way, that he would turn into exactly what Merlin feared the most. Into the beast Arthur also feared to become...

No one had ever had that effect on him.

No one had ever been able to attract him and turn him on in this way.

He had to wait for Merlin to want him too, to want him physically as Arthur did...

Retracting, Merlin looked at him questioning, not understanding his intentions.

“I have to go now. Eat, please. The roast potatoes are delicious. Send me a message later, so you can tell me how they were...” Arthur said looking down like a child caught with his hands in the cookie jar. He turned around to leave.

“Arthur, wait...” Merlin said, holding him by the shirt and forcing him to turn around. He didn’t want him to leave so soon. In truth, he didn’t want him to leave at all, but he understood what the Alpha was doing and was grateful, because he needed a little more time to come to terms with all this... “You haven’t told me yet why you care so much that I eat. You told me you would if I kissed you, so now you've to keep your word!”

Arthur smiled in amusement as he watched Merlin fondly, stroking his cheek gently.

“But what you gave me just now was the reward for visiting you. If you want to know the answer to your question you have to give me another one...”

Merlin didn’t hesitate a moment.

“Tell me and I'll give you another kiss!”

“You are starting to like it.”

“You wish!”

The blond smiled. He got close to Merlin again, who held his breath, drinking the warmth of his body in, so close again, while the other whispered in his ear...

“...Ok. I want you to put on weight because when I will make you mine, I don’t want to worry about me hurting you. When I will take you, being it on a bed, on the floor, on a wall or here in the yard, I don’t want to worry about me not being able to tighten you too much because I might cause you pain. And, please, take note that I did not say "if" I take you, but "when"! I want you to be prepared to receive me, Merlin. Remember, I am an Alpha. And I want you. Remember this too!”

That said, Arthur stepped back to enjoy the wide eyes full of desire of the brunet. He had brought a hand to his mouth and tried to breathe properly again, because those words, he knew, had snatched the breath from his lungs...

Arthur removed Merlin’s hand from his lips and deposited a light and sweet kiss there, slightly sucking his bottom lip. He smiled openly as he said goodbye with a wave of his hand, heading back with his perfect arse, tight in those fucking pants.

“Good night, Merlin. Text me later... and eat, please!”

Merlin stood there, looking at the object of his wildest dreams going away. For the record, he wasn’t sure he was still in the world... it took him three minutes to recover from the shock and go back in the house. It took him other two to extract the food from the bag that his Alpha brought him and start eating with gusto, as he heard the heartening sound of Gwaine singing in the shower...

He was home...

Chapter Text

That Saturday night, Gwaine invited the Knights over for pizza since the weather was horrible. For that week, they would be forced to give up the trip to the lake. The forecast said rain, rain, rain.

Merlin didn’t mind the situation that much. It had been too long since they had friends in their apartment ... and there was Arthur.

The kiss of the night before was still burning in his mind, as well as the words that the Alpha had whispered in his ear...

 “...when I will make you mine, I don’t want to worry about me hurting you... I want you to be prepared to receive me, Merlin. Remember, I am an Alpha. And I want you. Remember this too!”

Obviously, those sentences had caused him the usual reaction: ten minutes of close encounter with his hand and a very long bath ... Certainly, Arthur was upsetting his life habits, both sexual and dietary ... but he had to admit that he didn’t mind it that much.

From a brief analysis of the situation, done precisely with his head immersed in the hot water and an unidentified amount of lavender bubble bath to wrap him, the problem was no longer about taking notice of his feelings for the blonde: he already had. He knew he was in love with the Alpha and denying it further would be futile. The problem now was that he believed Merlin was a Beta, and that was a detail of no small importance!

He had to tell him he was an Omega as soon as possible ... because his defenses gave away near Arthur and no suppressants could help him. His damned body was reacting on his own to the presence of the blond, so much that he was amazed that Arthur had not already noticed his true nature...

 He is a Prime, Jesus. He should already know I’m an Omega!

It was the doorbell to tear him from his thoughts. When the merry band arrived with smoking-hot pizzas and a fair amount of beer and general alcoholic drinks, the brunet found himself smiling, as his brilliant roommate made everyone settle in the kitchen. Morgana was at the head of the pack, then Mordred, Leon, Percy, Lance, Elyan. Only one was missing...

“Here I am! The end man!” Arthur said, crossing the threshold of the Emrys House with a bottle of wine in hand, while Elyan turned the corner to settle in the kitchen, leaving them alone in the doorway.

He was beautiful, as always.

The thin golden hair, softly resting on the forehead, framed the sexiest face Merlin had ever seen. The mighty neckline finished in a red t-shirt with a too pronounced V-neck, which revealed the thinning blond hair of his muscular chest. Stonewashed and adherents jeans, ripped properly in the right spots, and a sports dark jacket. An Alpha vision that left the brunet speechless for at least ten seconds.

Arthur laughed, well aware of the effect he had on Merlin.

Merlin shook, feeling the blush rising to the cheekbones, imposing himself not to look like a boiled fish and trying to give the semblance of a normal person.

He watched the blond looking around, as to make sure they were safe from prying eyes. Then, in one fluid motion, the Alpha leaned on him without notice, putting a light kiss on his mouth. He gently sucked Merlin’s lower lip in a second shy kiss, as to confirm the success of the first one.

Merlin was paralyzed, the heart pounding in his stomach, especially when he realized he had closed his eyes, as if that behavior was natural and well liked. His Omega nature filled his heart with satisfaction in seeing his own Alpha giving him those so sweet, intimate and secret attentions.

When Merlin opened his eyes, he got lost in the blue gaze of Arthur, finding himself speaking without words, to feel him as he had ever felt him, in his body, in his blood, drowning in his pheromones, in his male smell… so intense, strong, primitive...

“SO, YOU TWO LOVEBIRDS! DO YOU NEED A WRITTEN INVITATION? PIZZAS ARE GETTING COLD!” It was Morgana’s voice, coming from the kitchen.

Merlin sighed heavily as he opened his eyes in disbelief and an incredulous expression was painted on his face, looking at the blond for answers.

“How the hell did she know?”

“Don’t ask, Merlin. My sister is a witch... she knows things about me that even I do not know...”

The evening went well, between pizzas, smiles and funny stories. Obviously, the Knights had orchestrated everything to put them near each other and were enjoying Arthur’s every attempt to touch Merlin somehow (brushing his arm, touching his shoulder, taking the pizza from his hand and eating it) and the brunet’s face. Merlin smiled tenderly, gently embarrassed by those attentions, while blushing constantly and looking down, unable to bear the amused gaze of the onlookers. On the other hand, the blond was fully at ease in that situation, because inadvertently (but not much), he was showing everyone that the person at his left was His HIS!!

After dinner, Morgana came up and proposed to play Monopoly together, an idea that was obviously welcomed by everyone with great spirit!

One glance from the General and all the Knights followed her in the living room, while Gwaine (who smiled quietly) distractedly asked Merlin to tidy up the kitchen, while he lit the fire and prepared the low table for the game.

In a moment, the two found themselves alone, eye to eye. The blond smiled slyly, "Let me give you a hand, Merlin...”

In a moment, a perfect harmony was created, while the both of them tidied up their surroundings, dancing around each other. One took the glasses, while the other collected the carton boxes. Merlin stretched under Arthur to take the cutlery, while the blond grazed him, when he removed the bottles. The both of them enjoyed that so intimate moment, just theirs. It saw them as a happy couple and you could tell it, by their acting in sync without words.

Immediately after that, Merlin was at the sink, yellow gloves on and hands in the foamy water, while he did the dishwashing.

Arthur’s strong hands on his hips broke his breath in his throat, sending him a thousand chills that went up fast in his spine, making him shiver slightly, before nose-diving toward his lower abdomen. A gentle warmth radiated throughout his puny body, feeling the chest of the Alpha in contact with his back.

His smell was...Jesus so virile, powerful, enveloping, dominant and male. In a moment, they were alone again in that room and the whole world disappeared, as if it had never existed, as if nothing made sense, except their bodies and their hearts, hammering in their chests in unison, feeling and looking for each other.

The brunet closed his eyes, overwhelmed by those feelings: joy, completeness, belonging, love. New emotions that he had rejected with all his being till a month before and now, they were invading him with the force of a thousand armies, leaving him no hope and demanding his surrender.

Arthur felt him. He felt Merlin’s smell becoming more intense and sweeter, clearly pointing that his mate was happy with his presence and his care. Feeling Merlin so open and relaxed filled Arthur with Alpha pride, because he knew he was the architect of that state of mind and taking care of his mate was everything for an Alpha.

The blond took a moment for his reflections, while reclining his warm lips on the neck of the brunet, closing his eyes and taking his time sniffing him.

He wondered how he had managed to live without all that up to this time, to live without Merlin, since he was unlike anyone else he had ever met in his life. They had left no trace of their presence in Arthur’s life, while the puny sea blue eyed boy had succeeded in such a short time to mess up his thoughts and to imprint himself so strongly in him. Everything had lost sense. Everything except him, who had become the pulsating center of Arthur’s universe. Who was everything. Everything....

He stirred himself, when he felt the brunet leaning back to look for him and putting his raven head on Arthur’s shoulder, giving him access to his neck in a so sweet and docile manner that Arthur had to bite his own cheek not to bite him where he was.

“Merlin...” Arthur started, turning him toward himself, taking away the yellow gloves and pulling him against him, while Merlin leaned on his own against the edge of the table. Arthur was happy to note that the brunet didn’t oppose any resistance. “...I...Jesus it's really hard to put it into words! You know you are important to me and I wish you could consider our relationship as ... well ... as exclusive.

I know it's early for you but I feel that if I ever find you dating someone else, I think I could really die, obviously after drowning him in his own blood...”

Seeing that the brunet was opening his mouth to answer, Arthur put his index finger on his lips, being briefly struck by their softness, but trying not to lose the thread of the conversation.

“...No, wait, let me finish. I know you don’t want the Bond, especially with an Alpha and that is not right that I impose something on you, and that I am too possessive and I'm running too fast ... but I am like this, Merlin. I don’t know what happened or what you did, but you've changed my existence. I... I cannot think about anything but kissing you all the time, being near you, taking care of you, loving you, giving you pleasure and making you mine. In the morning, I wake up and my first thought is to ask if you've eaten. At night, I fall asleep wondering if you're fine and if you're thinking about me. I hear you in my mind more and more often, and every breath I take has your name engraved in it. I know I'm asking you a lot and I am ashamed of what I'm saying, especially since I’m an Alpha, but I have to do it at the cost of looking like an idiot. I know I'm probably pouring on you attitudes that I should have only with an Omega, but I would really like for you to be ... mine. I need to know I’m the only one for you. As I assure you that you are the only one for me. Please...I...”.

Arthur” Merlin stopped him, coming closer and putting his palms on his chest, while the other continued to girding his hips, gently stroking them. He was surprised to feel how strong the heart was pounding in the chest of the blond. The fact that he had exposed himself so much, despite being an Alpha, snatched Merlin’s every intention of refusal. Seeing him give himself to Merlin like this, in a so true and sincere way, was something so sublime that filled his heart with a new, sweet and immense feeling, to which Merlin’s mind had already given a name. “All right!”

“All right...what?”

“All right, I won’t date anyone else. I had no intention to do it, anyway. Contrary to what you might think, I don’t allow many Alphas to approach and touch me the way you do… don’t worry.”

Arthur sighed in relief and pulled him against himself, holding him tightly as if Merlin was the most precious thing in the world. He sank into his smell and rocked him gently, heart against heart.

“Mine?” he asked in a small voice, hopeful, as if not wanting to break the spell that they had created.

“...Yours...” the brunet confirmed, wide and shy smile on his face.

“Are we together, then?”

Merlin stiffened for a moment, because he would have never thought to hear these words out of his own mouth, “Yes, Arthur. Now, are you done embarrassing me?”

“So, does that mean I can kiss you when and how long I want?”

“Don’t overdo it. I might change my mind very quickly...”

“In that case, I’d better kiss you now, before you do...”

Merlin blushed violently as the Omega in him crushed any doubt, any uncertainty, shouting at the Alpha to take him, own him and love him.

Arthur put both his hands on his face, gently stroking the cheekbones with his thumbs and drawing Merlin to himself slowly, softly, before feeling their breaths becoming one, and feeling the soft touch of Merlin’s lips on his own. Kissing Merlin was like coming home after a long journey.

A long yearned emotion that fills the heart, empties the brain and only gives way to an infinite sense of tranquility, security and unconditional love.

The brunet leaned completely on Arthur’s broad chest, warm and full of beats, while Arthur’s hands came down to Merlin’s ass, almost lifting him and forcefully pulling him against himself.

Merlin whined with pleasure, moaning softly, which shocked the blond, making him slowly lose all his inhibitions. He opened his mouth, licking slightly the lower lip of his mate, stroking him with his hot and pretentious tongue, asking a dumb access to something more, that the brunet gave him almost immediately. Merlin intercepted Arthur’s tongue with his more timid and inexperienced one, sucking it slightly, bringing it gently in his mouth, welcoming him with warmth, desire, passion.

This time it was Arthur to stifle a groan, delighted and pleasantly surprised by the initiative of the other. Feeling him so sweetly ready to indulge him, no longer any doubt nor any resistance filled his heart with thin and unknown joy.

There was only Merlin. There was only him. His perfect soft lips, his smell of lavender, sweet, thin, decided, increasing...

Arthur hugged him more to himself, continuing to kiss him, continuing to taste his wonderful and addictive flavor, while his hands went in his shirt to touch that white, fresh skin, soft under his fingertips, his back, his lower back. Then, down just below the waistband of his boxers underwear, testing the consistency of his buttocks, wonderfully soft, fresh and full. The brunet groaned again at the touch, moving away from his mouth to breath.

Merlin was a vision. His raven hair were ruffled on the forehead; his deep blue eyes were bright with desire; his cheekbones were gently red; his swollen and rosy lips were just parted for breathing; his slender body was pleasantly excited in contact with the one of the blonde, shocked by a little fleeting shiver...

Arthur was not outdone. Seeing him at a breath from him as he moistened his red and fleshy lips, sent Merlin a volley of pure pleasure straight in his lower belly. His stormy sky blue eyes darkened with desire; his male Alpha smell claimed him, loved him; the solidity of his hot, muscular, soft and hard body and his big and strong hands sought him and took him.

Surprisingly, Merlin did not care to hide his excitement to Arthur, because even without seeing it, he could feel in a clear and precise terms the erection of the blonde behind the fabric of his jeans, pressing on Merlin’s belly. His pheromones were turned on and claimed him insistently. Feeling wanted for the first time in his life made Merlin unusually happy, instead than embarrassed, as he had always believed. Probably because Arthur was the person who was giving him the attention and in that moment, the Omega in him wanted nothing more than to please his Alpha, to love him and to be loved, without hesitation or thought, nor pride.

The blond seemed to sense his thoughts, because he took his face in his palms and smiled so sweetly to tear Merlin’s heart apart. Then, he rested his luscious and red lips on his in a sweet little kiss, just before licking his lower lip in a deliciously voluptuous gesture and silently inviting him to want more, because in that moment, Merlin could ask for the moon, and Arthur'd climb the stars to give it to him.

“Arthur...” Merlin smiled at him on the skin of the neck, as he felt the possessive embrace of the Alpha encircling him tight “...the others... are over there and if I'm alone with you five minutes more, it’s gonna end badly here...”

“Ah, yes? And if I told you that I don’t give a damn about the others, that for me there is only you, and above all, that I am very curious about what you meant by ‘it’s gonna end badly’?”

“You're impossible!" Merlin said gently, smiling and placing both his hands on his strong chest, moving away from his face, "Look at the state you put me in! Oh God!”

“Well, I will go there with the others even now if that's what you want, but I'm afraid everyone will notice which conditions I’m in because of you ... and for me it is more difficult to mask it, trust me...”

“What are you implying?” Merlin hissed, pretending to be upset.

“What do you think? You know we Alphas have some ... let's call them ... Species prerogatives. Big prerogatives, to be precise...” The blond continued, giggling.

“Ah, really? I don’t know what you are talking about...” the brunet said, shrugging his shoulders and turning his eyes toward the sky.

“No? Yet, you graduated in Medicine of the Species if I remember correctly. Doctor Emrys, I feel something strange in my pelvic area. Do you recommend for me to take my jeans off so you can take look at it?”

“Mr. Pendragon, as much as the idea of seeing you without clothes delights me beyond words, I don’t think this’s the right moment for such proposals. I think that after a brief visit to the bathroom, you’ll be perfectly able to get the situation back under control...”

“I don’t think I can keep anything under control when you are around, provoking me as you are doing now... with those sharp cheekbones and this backside, made to be bite. And don’t let me start talking about your smell...” the blonde smiled, stroking Merlin’s hips under the clothes, worshiping the blush that was spreading on his white face, his shy smile and the downcast eyes of his mate.

“Hum, look who's talking... now that I think about it, you have a very good smell as well...”

“Are you talking about my backside? You have noticed it!”

“It’s difficult not to!”

Arthur smiled with delight, before taking the brunet by the neck and putting his warm and soft lips back on his, sinking immediately in Merlin’s mouth, pleading for kisses.

“MERLIN, if you are done snogging in the kitchen, tell my brother to bring his ass here, so I can show him how you become the boss of ‘Mediterranean Avenue’!!” Morgana's voice broke into their hidden world, bringing them back to reality, while the laughter of the Knights at that statement became high.

Oh God!” Merlin said, pulling his lips away from those of the blond, making a leap backwards and blushing. “How the hell can your sister...”

“Witch” Arthur hissed, through his clenched teeth, “GANA, it’s Monopoly, not the Godfather!!”

***

Merlin sat on the bed. The inevitable candle on the bedside table and Arthur’s t-shirt under the pillow to shed its fragrance in the air...

The rest of the evening was great. Arthur had dragged Merlin into the living room, where he had made clear to their friends that the brunet was, from then on, his and only his.

Obviously, everyone applauded them happily. Morgana could not keep from smiling and continuing to elbow Gwaine, who smiled mischievously in response, clinging to Percy.

Apparently, everyone was just waiting for the good news. God, it was so obvious...

The brunet found himself blushing, sinking into his huge red sweatshirt, pulling Arthur’s t-shirt to himself, sniffing it ... immediately, his brain set in motion to reconstruct the image of the Alpha, associating him to his smell.

Without realizing it, his mind was already calling him...

Arthur... Arthur... ARTHUR...

Diligent, the blond appeared magically in his room, as he often did when the brunet closed his eyes.

Merlin knew it was a dream.

A very real dream, sure, but in the dream, he basked increasingly in the presence of the other, talking to him, getting to know him, drinking his beauty in, his strength and virility. By touching him and by being touched, slowly and shyly.

Yet, that evening, Merlin wanted him in a way he had never experienced, if not during his heat. The events of a few hours before had turned his animal instincts on, and the Omega in him showed no sign of wanting to quell, longing for his Alpha and shouting his desire loudly.

And he had come.

As always when Merlin called him.

During the long nights of his heat, he imagined a nameless and faceless Alpha who could own him. Now, that Alpha had blond hair, blue eyes like the placid waters of a lake, and swollen and fleshy lips; a red scarf around his neck and a light tracksuit to fill his muscular statuary body.

It was enough to turn on his desire. This and his intoxicating smell...

“I’m here, Merlin.” He exclaimed in a deep warm voice, dripping pure desire as he approached him, sitting on the bed. He put his warm and strong hand on his cheekbone, stroking it gently with his thumb “You are beautiful, you know?” he ended, just before drowning in his mouth with a fluid and natural gesture.

They kissed for a long time, gently. Merlin clung to the strong shoulders of Arthur, who held him in turn, wrote poems on his neck, and held him close, rocking him to the rhythm of the kiss. Merlin loved those moments when the silence between them was shouting promises. They were one in the mind of the other, understanding each other without speaking and feeling each other with their whole body and heart, without the need of anything else.

The brunet broke away from the lips of the Alpha with many difficulties, drowning in the pheromones of the other. They were imprinting on him, claiming him mercilessly.

Arthur looked at Merlin in the eyes, finding them wet and wonderful, and a new expression painted on his soft and hatched lips, shouting desire.

The blond clumped his full lips in a worried way, trying to understand what was happening, observing his mate quizzically.

Meanwhile, Merlin looked away embarrassed, then back at the blond, taking his hand and fastening it with his.

“We are a couple, now...” the brunet whispered.

“Yes...”

“And you said you want me...”

Arthur smiled, sincere "I have never stopped wanting you since I first met you; I thought I had been clear about it...”

Merlin turned his gaze again, unsure about what to do. The lack of experience and the excessive shyness were betraying him, painting on him expressions and giving him sweet and awkward movements that flared immediately the senses of the blond.

“Hey...” Arthur began, taking his flushed face in the palm of his hands and putting a light kiss on his lips, “you can tell me everything, Merlin. Remember, it is a dream... What troubles you?”

In response, the brunet circled his strong neck. He approached his lips to Arthur’s ear, blowing into it his answer with a thin and wet of desire voice.

“I’m an Omega, Arthur. I am YOUR Omega. And I long for you. I want you...now...”

The brunet perceived the Alpha’s body stiffen for a moment, before becoming hot under his touch.

“You are lying ... you just want to please me...”

Merlin moved under Arthur’s chin, voluptuously licking his Adam's apple that moved hectic, while the blond swallowed. He sucked it gently in the sexier and intoxicating gesture that the other had ever experienced.

Arthur groaned loudly, while the chains that held his will imprisoned were falling one after another. Soon, Merlin found himself lying on the bed with the blonde over him, fully covering his body and imprisoning his wrists above the head and with Arthur’s warm hard response, shoving on his belly button...

God, he wanted him with all his being. His body screamed at the Alpha to take him, to own him, to love him, to claim him, to cure him and to protect him. The other replied in kind, promising love, protection, care, devotion.

Arthur licked his long and white neck, sucking and marking him as his own, snarling, “You are mine, Merlin. You are only mine, now and forever. My Omega. Your body, your mind and your womb are my domain. They are mine.”

At the same time, his hands slid under the huge red sweatshirt to capture as much skin as possible, to make sure that the words of his mate were not mere promises but something real, and so it was... Merlin moaned, delighted and embarrassed under his expert hands, without resistance, and lifted his back to allow Arthur to remove the garment easily.

The view of the white skin, as marble, discovered beneath him and his sweet, light, sublime scent almost made Arthur cum in his pants. The blond kissed him strongly, putting his hot tongue into the mouth of a pretentious and sweet Merlin, who was absolutely conscious and surrendered to his desires. Arthur sank in him, as if to leave a piece of his soul, when he felt the trembling thin and inexperienced fingertips of his mate slipping down his muscled and toned back, drawing him to himself, deeper and deeper, until they creep timidly under Arthur’s boxers, stroking his ass.

Arthur freed the brunet’s lips, just to moan loudly, as his penis tended to spasm, violently throbbing.

“Jesus, Merlin...” he whispered hoarsely, as his tongue went down on the Omega’s white and hairless chest, savoring the scent and taste of his skin. He sucked a nipple to make him groan beneath him “...if you don’t stop me now, I won’t be responsible for my actions anymore.”

In response, the brunet sank his long fingers in his golden hair, continuing to emit delicious sounds that sent bursts of hot lava straight in the lower back of the blond.

When his hot and humid tongue reached the navel and the first dark hair of the groin, that promised untold treasures beyond the elastic boxer line, Arthur paused to test the intentions of his mate. The vision of Merlin, abandoned on the pillow; his full lips, parted and wet, while he moaned softly; his eyes closed for the pleasure and that damn sweet fragrance, literally tore the breath from Arthur’s lungs. His little reasoning was totally thrown behind his back.

Arthur took his shirt off, almost tearing it and threw it on the ground. In one motion, with eager and experienced hands, he grabbed the edge of the boxer and pants of the brunet, pulling them down in a fast and urgent gesture, freeing his penis from the already too tight garments.

Merlin breathed strongly, widening his eyes and covering his belly instinctively with his hands, as if all of a sudden he was realizing what was going on.

He began to shake violently as a wave of sudden shyness flushed his cheeks, the heart beating in his throat.

“Move your hands, Merlin. I want to see you...” the Alpha said with a warm, deep, baritone, imperative voice.

It was obviously an order and the Omega in Merlin did not want to do anything but obey. Yet, his qualms about his body and the lack of any previous experience stopped him, instilling thousands of doubts.

“Arthur, no...I’m not... beautiful nor…desirable nor... please, don’t look at me...”

“You are the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, Merlin. And, you are mine. This makes you even more desirable and wonderful...”

The brunet shook his head, looking away, deeply embarrassed.

In response, Arthur kissed him gently, as he took one of the hands that the brunet held stubbornly on his groin. He brought it between his legs, putting it on his pulsing and tense member behind the light fabric of the pants that he was still wearing.

Merlin felt Arthur moaning into his mouth at that contact and pulled away from his lips, not understanding his mate’s intentions.

“Do you fell it? Do you feel how it pulses? How much it wants you? Do you think I would be in these conditions if I didn’t like the person I am making love with?” A little kiss on the cheekbone, “If you were not beautiful beyond words?” on the cheek, “If every cell of my body didn’t find you desirable and wonderful?” At the side of his mouth, “I found you beautiful from the first time I saw you. I immediately wanted you and I didn’t think about anything but this moment between us...”

It was true. He felt the truth in Arthur’s words and his strong smell, his Alpha pheromones rested on him, sending him an immediate sense of tranquility, care, protection, as to want to comfort him.

Merlin looked at him with shiny eyes, darkened with desire, before kissing him with the breath stuck in his throat and as if there was no tomorrow; as to love him, giving him everything: his mind, his heart, his soul. Arthur took everything that the other was offering, delighted to feel him again available, compliant, confident, his...

Leaving a trail of kisses on the neck, the blond continued, going always more down, until he returned to the starting point. He placed another kiss on Merlin’s hand that still covered him, definitely pulling it aside and drinking the view of the long, slim and slender sex, which soared obscenely between the thighs of the brunet. It was hard and throbbing like Arthur’s one. The tip was dark, swollen and dewy, slightly wet from a few drops of liquid that moistened the tense glans.

Arthur’s hot breathe on that bare and sensitive skin made Merlin moan again, making him even hornier.

The heart of the blond skipped a beat when he knew and deeply understood to be the creator of his Omega’s state of excitation. It filled him with an incredible pride, a superfine pleasure.

“Relax, Merlin. This is my first time too...” Arthur hissed, just before laying his lips at the base of the shaft, burying his nose in the pubic hair, where Merlin’s sweet smell was more pronounced and intense. He started to lick, to kiss, to suck, to nibble slightly the taut flesh, ripping an indefinite series of groans and wonderfully indecent moans from the Omega.

Merlin's body began to tremble, when the enveloping warmth of Arthur's mouth closed around his erection, making it impossible for him to perceive anything that was not his own pleasure. His pelvis began to twitch involuntarily, pushing inside that warm and perfect cave. His fingertips sank in the golden hair of the Alpha, who continued to suck, to lick and to write poetry with the tip of his tongue on his frenulum, before circumnavigating the glans and then, down again to hell and back...

Then, Merlin saw nothing else. He no longer felt anything else but a pleasure so intense to snatch any thought, as he felt his seed spilling out of his body. His muscles tensed in spasm violently, as he came again, and again...

When he regained consciousness after a moment, Arthur was rocking him gently, taking away a lock of black hair from his shiny eyes, passing a finger on his parted lips, before kissing him. Tasting himself on those full lips, red as sin was something intoxicating. The smell of the Alpha had become even more intense and now, it was claiming him aloud.

“Arthur, God... this has been something so...you have...I have...”

The blond smiled on the skin of his neck and then, he sank the nose in his raven hair. Lavender...

“Undress me...” Arthur whispered in his ear with a liquid voice, full of desire. He laid next to Merlin, making himself admired by his Omega. the chest covered with soft blond hair; lips and sculpted muscular abs; pubic hair just below the navel, covered by light trousers of the tracksuit, which could not hide the shape of Arthur’s swollen and impressive sex, needy of attention.

Merlin drank that vision, while obeying his Alpha. He didn’t feel humiliated by this, in fact, he acted on his own will and pure joy for what they were sharing, sensing it with a tremor in the heart because he knew that their union would soon take place.

Merlin began to stroke Arthur’s already naked chest, going down on the skin with a shy touch, sending shocks of pleasure to the spine of his mate, who smiled gently, caressing his cheekbones. Merlin focused on the elastic pants, lifting it and then, trying to lower it, despite the hard impediment. To help him, the blond lifted his lower back by pointing his feet and raising the pelvis area to allow those long, graceful hands to take definitively off the useless garment.

Merlin watched him for a moment. Then, he looked away, too, too embarrassed to look at the more than considerable sex of his Alpha, soaring between the hazel pubic hair, a darker shade than the hair.

Oh God, it’s huge...

“Am I so ugly that I don’t deserve to be looked at? Do I not deserve to be touched by my Omega?” Arthur asked meekly, smiling at his mate’s shyness. He stroked his smooth back to reassure him, enjoying its softness.

The musky smell coming from his groin, wrapped Merlin like a blanket, astounding him and luring him as does honey... ordered him to surrender, while he realized that he was dripping moods all around, like when he was in heat.

Indeed, that was how it seemed. The heart pumping furiously in his chest, hot lava instead of blood, his ring of flesh hidden between the buttocks completely relaxed and pulsing, perfectly wet and ready, asking desperately to be filled... the symptoms were the same. Yet, more than a month was missing until his next heat. Arthur had that effect on him. His Omega body was automatically predisposing itself to mate, when he was with Arthur. He had not thoroughly understood it by reading his books, but now, he understood how much the imprinting shaped an Omega on the needs of his Alpha... it was incredible.

Arthur sent him into heat.

His reflections were interrupted, when the blond drew him in, causing him to lay on top of Arthur; his legs astride of his groin, as Arthur’s hands slid down Merlin’s back. He hesitated a moment when he caressed the smooth fresh and hairless skin of Merlin’s butt. He ripped out a moan of pleasure from Merlin, as he savored the texture of that firm flesh, stopping where the buttocks joined the legs, squeezing them in a very possessive gesture.

“You have a backside that could provoke a cardiac arrest. By law, they should forbid you to wear tight trousers. Do you know what I do to you in my dreams?” Arthur ended, squeezing it strongly and getting a groan in response.

Slowly, Arthur’s hand moved inside the buttocks, looking for Merlin’s opening and trying to insert a finger. He was shocked to find it soft, wet, ready, perfect...

“No, Arthur, I don’t know what you do to me in your dreams, but I intend to find out...,” said Merlin, stooping over him and licking his neck, circling Arthur’s hips with his knees.

God, Merlin...” Arthur growled low, sweeping his mate and reversing their positions, lying on top of Merlin, between his legs, in a more than perfect position for what he needed to do. The smell of the brunet flooded his nostrils, shouting to take him, that he was ready, that he was his...

Unable to hold back anymore, the Alpha quickly aligned himself to Merlin’s opening and, in one fluid gesture, he pushed his hard and tense sex inside of Merlin, sinking completely in his infinite and perfect heat.

Merlin twitched around him, as he opened his mouth and clenched his eyes, filled with a burning pain.

Arthur stopped immediately, hurting himself not to move, to let his Omega get used to the huge intrusion. It was wonderful to get lost in that heat. It was amazing to hear the heartbeats of Merlin, irradiated in that deep, moist and delicious cave.

Moreover, the fact that the Omega’s body was able to host entirely his sex, letting Arthur reach his more intimate and profound point without him getting hurt, gave Arthur a feeling of completeness and power as nothing he had experienced before.

Everything was so perfect and right. Merlin was his to protect, to satisfy, to love...

My Omega...

After only a few seconds, he felt the muscles inside the brunet relaxing, and after a few others, he sensed a slight movement of the pelvis with which his prey was silently inviting him to continue...

Arthur kissed him gently, starting to step back slowly, as if to leave. Then, he sank back into the soft and warm cave. Again…. And again… And again...

Merlin bit his lower lip until it almost bled, due the great pleasure he was feeling, while his Alpha filled him, violating him with slow decision, swinging his hips. Arthur owned him rhythmically with strong, determined movements, but also with grace and attention, like a wave of the sea breaking on the rocks, retiring and then, crashing again, giving Merlin shocks of pleasure that reverberated from his belly to his mind. Merlin moaned low. His breath was broken in his lungs.

Having his own Alpha inside, feeling the connection and the Bond that grew under the rhythm of his thrusts, Merlin was brought back to the brink of perdition, and when he began to think about it being too much, nature took its course. He felt distinctly the knot at the base of Arthur’s penis swelling, finally uniting them, while the blond settled in better, pushing deeper inside of him.

He groaned loudly, when the Alpha Knot touched his prostate, stimulating and constantly forcing him to come without warning, on several occasions.

Arthur lifted his head to look at Merlin’s face, seized by ecstasy. His blue eyes clouded with desire and his swollen lips parted, not stopping pouring sweet moans of pleasure that rested on his heart like caresses, while the Omega’s long and thin penis throbbed between them, releasing his wet pleasure.

"Arthur..." Merlin whispered as his body twitched convulsively around Arthur’s boiling Knot, compressing it and forcing it to come.

The Alpha let go, feeling the impending orgasm and sinking deeply into that devastating heat. He felt his swollen and filled testicles emptying in constant waves into the body of the brunet, filling it more than it had already been.

While he distinctly felt his semen pouring into the body of his Omega, he leaned on Merlin’s neck, where the smell was more intense, and gently licked the groove near the shoulder. Then, he sank his teeth, leaving his mark and bonding Merlin to him, before licking the bite marks and mixing their DNA, claiming the brunet as his own. Merlin moaned with pleasure at the touch, feeling whole for the first time in his life.

Exhausted, Arthur took Merlin’s weight and rolled him over, putting him on top, without separating their waists, firmly united by the Knot. It would keep them tie for a long time, before deflating and allowing them to separate.

Merlin beamed while losing himself in the warm and possessive embrace of his Alpha, who was stroking his dark hair, holding him tightly and whispering, “You are mine, Merlin. You are mine, only mine. My perfect, wonderful, beautiful Omega! I love you as I've never loved anyone else in my life, and I will love you until the day I die. I will never leave you alone. I'll give you everything you want. I will take care of you, giving you the world. I just want to make you happy... ”

Arthur didn’t see the tears running down Merlin’s cheekbones, nor could the brunet see his lover’s wet eyes, while he spoke the words the dream would take away soon, but that would remain etched in the heart of the both of them, once awake, far from each other, once again...

Chapter Text

G: Hi, Gana. Latest News after last night. The Blackbird is cooked to perfection, but I predict crisis.

M: Hola, handsome. Crisis? Explain!

G: This morning he was nervous. I cooked pancakes and made him talk. For two hours. He is fucking afraid to tell Arthur he is an Omega. He thinks he will reject him.

M: Come On! I didn’t know he was so anxious!

G: He is so fucking in love. Merl keeps everything inside, but when he set it free, he is like a landslide: he brings everything down with him... He is going to his uncle for lunch to talk about it...

M: Well, let’s hope Gaius calms him down a bit.

G: Please, talk to Artie! I don’t want your brother to ruin things now that Merl has unbuttoned himself...

M: yes, I understand. We need to hit him with an iron bar to be able to put some common sense in that damn Alpha brain of his, but I'll see what I can do... keep Merlin calm. I'll try to make Artie see reason, to make him give in. When he softens, we will give him the news :P

G: Ok, I’ll do my best to keep him calm. Meanwhile, let them go out together.

M: Obviously! But keep an eye on them all the same. We will succeed. Or Glory or Death!

G: Or Glory or Death, my General. XD

***

“I think I have experienced the Imprinting.”

Gaius noisily dropped his fork with the bite of meatloaf he was bringing to his mouth, while his nephew’s words rang clear over the patter of the rain on the windows of his countryside villa.

It was raining heavily that Sunday and Gaius was surprised when the bell rang, announcing an unexpected visitor. Opening the door, he smiled to see his nephew, his raven hair slightly wet and an insane need to embrace him invaded Gaius.

The old man invited him to enter, hugging him warmly and inviting him to eat with him, given the time. He still couldn’t hold back the wonder of seeing Merlin eating...meat...and potatoes... devouring what was in his plate, before opening his mouth and messing up the rest of Gaius’ day...

“You have experienced the Imprinting?!? Merlin, how can you tell for sure?”

“Uncle, I’m a doctor. I recognize the symptoms.”

Gaius approached him, concerned, lacing his wrinkled fingers on the table.

“With who? Who’s your PBM (Perfect Bond Mate)?”

Merlin looked away, embarrassed...

“Arthur Pendragon...”

As soon as that name left the brunet’s lips, his phone began to vibrate from where it rest on the old wooden table. The boy apologized to his uncle as he opened the message: immediately his cheeks became red and a sweet smile appeared on his lips.

“It’s him. He is asking me if I'm eating.” He said, smiling more frantic as his fingers rested on the mobile, writing his response.

“It’s nice he cares about you,” the old man said, thoughtfully.

“Indeed, it is...” Merlin said, smiling and resting the phone on the table again.

“It doesn’t bother you he is an Alpha?" the old man asked.

“Not anymore.” Merlin said, “At first, I rejected him with all my strength. Then, when I accepted the idea of the Imprinting, I realized it was useless and painful to resist it. I think I am... seriously ... in love ...”

Gaius started to cough convulsively as something went down the wrong way. He would have never imagined hearing his nephew talking like this. A huge smile stretched the wrinkles of his face, while a hand clutched his in an affectionate gesture.

“The imprinting is a very rare phenomenon to study... the fact it has happened to you is exceptional. I should use you for my experiments...”

“Well, I’m at your disposal... I wanted to ask you some information about it, since I know that many years ago you conducted a study on the subject with Prof. Goodwing...”

Gaius smiled, pleased.

“Well, in this case, I think you will have to do the teaching. Tell me everything and I'll see how I can help you"

Merlin looked down for a moment, embarrassed, and began to tell the complete excursus of his relationship with Arthur, from the first fateful meeting to the last embarrassing dream, of course omitting some details...

“It is absolutely clinically fascinating. You see, it is normal the suppressors are not working with him around. You always have to remember the Imprinting is the absolute application of the Dynamics of the Species. Omegas are created for the coupling with the Alphas and in this case, the industrial chemical cannot compete with the stronger natural chemical. Arthur is your predestined Alpha and you are his Omega. Your body will obey only to his touch and will predispose itself for coupling with him more than a normal Bonded Omega would with his Alpha. I'm not surprised he induces you into heat, even when you're not; especially in the initial phase of your relationship. According to my studies with Dr. Goodwing, there is already a real Bond between the two of you, called the "Soul Bond" and the Bond through the bite, as we all know it, will only "stabilize your union" and your hormones. The dreams you say you have, where you see Arthur, are not real dreams. When you call him and he comes, you tell me he has your red scarf around his neck, which probably happens in the reality. When he feels your smell and focuses on you, it's as if he "tunes in" on you. He looks for you and finds you, because you too are "tuned in" and looking for him in the same way.

Also the subjects we had studied told us that they could "hear" their mate as a voice in their head and were able to transmit feelings and emotions to them, no matter the distance. I think it’s happening the same to you and Arthur. I do not believe yours are just dreams. Your body hurts the next morning; it "feels" Arthur. I believe your experience is shared: you create your space in which you meet, perceive and interact in a so intense way that your body remembers everything. It is something extraordinary... a kind of telepathy, but stronger and more intense..."

Merlin smiled, embarrassed. “Uncle, I promise you will be allowed to study me up until boredom and write another book about DOS, but now I have another problem..."

"What?"

Merlin shook his head between his palms, sinking his fingertips in his ravened hair and sighing loudly.

"I have to tell Arthur I’m an Omega and I have to do it as soon as possible..."

"Yes... Morgana had mentioned Arthur has a problem with those of your species..."

The brunet widened the eyes, raising them on his uncle, in alarm. "Morgana? Morgana informed you? How..."

"Oh, pizzas chatter... and what she didn’t tell me, Gwaine did..."

"Oh God!!! When will he learn to mind his own fucking business? ...I’ll kill him!"

"Merlin, calm down! What is the problem? I am happy for you“, Gaius said, taking his hands in his, comforting him. "Look at you, boy: you smile, you're eating and you’re in love. This poor old heart of mine didn’t think I would see this day. Your happiness is as if it is mine own!"

Merlin bit his lips, lowering his gaze again on their clasped hands. "I’m scared, uncle. I really fear that if I tell him I am an Omega, Arthur will react badly..."

"Merlin, he knows it. He knows you are an Omega, even if he doesn’t want to admit it. He is a Prime; he couldn’t have failed to smell your scent, even under suppressors. Besides, you told him in the dream..."

"Yes, but he doesn’t have our medical knowledge and thinks it was just a dream."

"But in the dream, when you told him, he reacted well, right?"

"Yes... more than well, actually..." the brunet said, blushing.

"Perfect. Merlin, they say dreams are the mirror of our soul. If he reacted well, it’d mean that within himself, he loves you even if you are an Omega. Otherwise, he would have interrupted the contact and good-bye... I'll tell you more... I think that  deep inside he wants you to be an Omega. He is just incapable of saying it to himself, but that does not change the fact he has experienced the Imprinting as well. You are and will always be his Omega ... Don’t worry, Merlin."

That said, he stood up, hugging him like a father and smiling like a child.

“And now, finish eating ... I made apple pie ... don’t you dare tell me you don’t want to taste it!”

***

 

That morning, Arthur had woken early, taken a shower to wash the residues of a breathtaking dream away and decided to go jogging. It was the best way for him to think about how things were evolving.

The shower rain that was falling from the gray sky didn’t bother him that much, on the contrary... in truth, he loved the smell coming from the undergrowth, the trees and the wet ground of the park around him. It calmed him and allowed him to reason with lucidity.

The more he saw Merlin and the more he was in contact with him, the more his need of him grew, becoming overwhelming. Every step forward in their relationship immediately drove him to want to reach the next stage. They had just got together (already a great result in his mind) and Christ Arthur had already dreamed about making love with him, possessing him deeply, body, heart and soul, making him his in every possible way.

And the more he thought about it, the more it frightened him.

It was the first time in his life he was seriously and actually involved in a relationship. It was the first time he felt the need to care for, to take care, to possess, to love, to brand as his own another human being.

Merlin was teaching him the true meaning of the word "want", hand in hand to the deep meaning of the word "love", which increasingly peeked into his brain whenever he thought about his new mate. Hence, all the time.

He was amazed every day he could feel him like a firm presence in him, in his mind, as if he was near. Always. Even though Merlin was not physically close.

“Arthur, you are jogging, too?” Morgana asked, dressed for jogging, as she briskly reached her brother, interrupting his train of thoughts.

Arthur slowed down until he stopped; shocked his sister had joined him.

“If you want the details of what happened in the kitchen last night, you can forget it...” he said, smiling and starting to walk to allow her to keep pace.

“Oh, my darling! Don’t worry, I don’t need you to tell me what I already know...!” She said, mischievous. They laughed together.

“I like Merlin a lot, Arthur. He is a great person and I see you happier than you have been in a long time …”

“I am, Gana. I am happy with him. Somehow, he completes me. It’s as if I had been searching for him all my life and now ... he is here, one step from me.”

“So what you're worried about, dear brother?”

“Who says I’m worried? I have just told you I'm happy...”

“Honey... it is morning, it's raining and you're running before breakfast. I know you well enough to know that when you do this, there is something bothering you. I mean, when our father imposed something you didn’t want, you got up at dawn and ran cross-country in the garden early in the morning and you didn’t stop for any reason ... you needed to let off some anger and I understood it. But why do you need it now?”

Arthur stood under an old oak tree and put his hands on the knotty trunk, inhaling deeply and shaking his head back for a moment, before turning back and meeting the emerald gaze of his sister.

“I love him, Gana.” He said, running a hand through his slightly damp blond hair. “I'm in love, and if on one hand it makes me gloat, on the other hand it scares me to death. I want him in a way I had never experienced with anyone else before. Mine is a real desire that takes away my sleep. I just want to take him, to take him with me somewhere and to make him mine until I take his breath away from his lungs. If I think about the fact someone else can watch him for more than two seconds, I feel my blood boiling and I want to kill anyone who hovers around him... He awakens animal instincts in me that I thought I hadn’t or at least I was able to keep perfectly under control. And that's what I’m losing, Gana. Control!”

“Arthur” Morgana began, approaching him and stroking his bulging biceps. “Why are you afraid of losing control? Even if you are a Prime, you're always an Alpha and for the first time in your life, you're in love. It’s normal you want to be with Merlin every minute. It’s normal for you to be jealous...”

“But it’s not normal for me to dream about fucking him as if he was an Omega!” Arthur spat angrily and then, he pressed the cold palms on his eyes, trying to calm down. “Sorry, Gana, really. Sorry. I'm afraid to hurt him. And I cannot explain why I dream that he is an ... an …”

“An Omega, Arthur? Jesus being an Omega is not a crime. And what if he is one? Have you ever thought that if you dream about him like this, maybe it's because your mind is trying to tell you something???”

“That’s the point. I'm pouring out upon him needs and fantasies that I should not have. Fuck! I hate Omegas. I cannot be with an Omega, not now nor ever. Yet, I dream of doing it and it has never happened before...”

“Arthur, let's talk seriously about it once and for all! What exactly do you fear? What could an Omega possibly do to you to be so wrong?”

“God, you know what they do, Gana... they manipulate you, they stick on you, they are all 'take me, cuddle me, fuck me, live for me', they are aberrant and boring, with intellectual limits, obvious most of the time. They tempt you until you fall and then they force you to Bond them for the rest of your life, removing your freedom. They live for you as trained dogs, constantly in need of attention and care. And then, come on... they drip when in Heat ... it's disgusting!”

“Ah, you speak from experience as one who had to deal with many Omegas...”

“Gana, I know what I saw...”

“When you were a child?? Our father made the biggest shitty-thing of his life by taking you to see the little show of a forced breeding between our species," The brunet yelled scornfully, pointing her finger in the face to the blond. “Arthur, besides the fact you are my brother and that I'd like to slap you hard because you sound like a damn racist, I can tell these are all nonsenses and I have too much respect for your intelligence to pretend that you're telling me the truth!”

“Ok, so what do you want me to say, Gana? WHAT. DO. YOU. WANT. ME. TO. SAY??? That I'm afraid to treat him as Alphas treat Omegas? That I'm afraid of losing control, of biting him, of sinking too deep in him, of hurting him physically and morally? He is brilliant, beautiful and intelligent and he has character. He doesn’t deserve to be treated as something he is not! Biting him would be an insult. Comparing him to an Omega would be an insult... he doesn’t need to act like an Omega to be attractive in my eyes...”

“Arthur, why do you talk like this? Omegas have never done anything wrong to you. They are wonderful beings. The care they require from us Alphas is a natural instinct that is already part of us. Not something they force us! You yourself said that when you think about Merlin, you want to take care of him and protect him, and he has never asked you to do it! It is part of your nature and it does not seem so terrible for you to indulge this instinct when it comes to Merlin...or am I wrong?”

Arthur was dumbfounded for a moment, unable to replicate. “Merlin is different... he is not an Omega and I don’t have to treat him as such! It wouldn’t be fair to him! I should remove my own instincts from my mind. He would indulge them just to make me happy; he’d violate his Beta nature to please me, because he loves me.”

“Did he tell you all this?”

“No, but I... I feel it... and I have to control myself …”

That said, he turned, beginning to take the way home, closely followed by his sister.

“Arthur, can I ask you a question?”

“Tell me”

“If Merlin was an Omega, hypothetically speaking, what would you do?"

“Merlin is not an Omega. So there’s no need for me to address the problem!”

“I said hypothetically…”

“Gana” he said, stopping, taking her by the shoulders and hooking his blue gaze in her green eyes, serious. “I’d break up with him. I cannot be with an Omega. I just can’t.”

Morgana’s look was suddenly sad and worried, as she watched her brother disappearing behind the trees of the park on his way home.

Damn Dollophead! I’d be damned if I don’t change your mind!

Right way, she took out her phone from her pocket and dialed a message.

M: Gwaine, I have an unhealthy idea... gather the Council tomorrow night...

***

That Tuesday night, Merlin was crouched in his armchair, reading a book. They had just finished dinner and Gwaine was chatting with Percy with his laptop in the kitchen. The brunet looked at the phone hopeful, and in that moment, the screen lit up, making him gasp.

A: Hey you! What are you doing?

M: Nothing much …I’m reading a book.

A: And are you consumed with love for me?

M: you wish...

A: I am pining for you...

M: I don’t doubt it, stallion! Try not to pine too close to someone else...

A: Jealous? Are you my girl petticoat?

M: I'm not jealous...AND I’M NOT A GIRL PETTICOAT!

A: Ok. I humbly ask for forgiveness. Would you like to see me?

M: Why do you ask questions you already know the answer to?

A: Well if you miss me, I thought that, instead of reading a boring book about the Anatomy of the Species, you might come out for a walk with me...

Merlin’s heart began to speed up in his chest, while his cheeks blazed.

M: How do you know which book I'm reading?

A: Well, because my eyes cannot stop looking at the most handsome man I've ever seen...

Merlin looked toward the window where two deep sky blue eyes were staring at him, chocking the breath in his throat.

 Arthur...

Before realizing it, he had already jumped down from the armchair, bare feet trampling the warm wooden floors, heading fast toward the entrance, while the brunet opened the door. Arthur was a vision. Stonewashed and adherents jeans, a black polo shirt with the collar turned up that highlighted perfectly the perfect lines of his muscles, throbbing behind the cloth; leather jacket, tousled blond hair on his forehead, lips slightly bent left to form two dimples that demanded kisses, like the strong and majestic neck from whence his intense, warm, enveloping Alpha scent came from.

HIS Alpha.

"Good Evening, Doctor Emrys. Do you also receive overtime?” the blond said mischievous, pulling Merlin by the shirt and leaning in for a quick kiss on his lips.

"Arthur! I thought you were at the campus! Don’t you have a curfew?"

"Yes, but I'm good at climbing over the gates, and I wanted to see you..."

“Am I wrong or tomorrow you have an exam?”

“Advanced Criminal Law. But I don’t want to think about it”.

Before Merlin could object, Arthur pressed him against him, burying his nose in the crook of his neck, placing light kisses that reverberated like fire along the spine of his prey.

"God, Merlin, Your smell is so damn exquisite and sweet..." He whispered languidly, before licking his neck with the tip of the tongue, happy to feel his mate's body trembling and tensing in his arms, just for him. Having control over him gave him a dark joy, in which the component of the domination was overwhelmingly dominating.

Merlin was unknowingly in alarm. He put both his hands on Arthur’s chest, feeling that the blonde's heart was roaring so loud from beating so fast.

Whenever they were close to each other, their bodies recognized each other, sought each other, touched each other, loved each other without words.

It was something shocking.

It was something wonderful.

Merlin tried to speak, but Arthur decided that those lips were not made to speak. So he thought to invade the well-made, hot and delicious cavern with his own tongue, exploring it meticulously to imprint in his blood the form of that mouth, which belonged to him. It was HIS to kiss, lick, explore. As Merlin was his HIS HIS!

The brunet had no objection to that, especially as his Omega nature begged never to end that contact. It prayed that it was a prelude to a much more intense physical domination by his Alpha. Therefore, he welcomed Arthur inside of him, giving his tongue a warm welcome and replying in kind. He encircled his neck and deepened that so intimate contact, which tasted so sweet, that felt so intense, that took his reason away.

Because Arthur was this for him: a breath of fresh air after a thousand years under the ground; a hot sunny afternoon after the winter snow; a beacon in the night that leads you back home; his arms were a safe place to sink and let go.

“Here they are our lovebirds”

Merlin froze, while Arthur, who was still sucking his bottom lip, threw a glare at Gwaine behind them, as to say, "I kill you"...

The brunet struggled from the grip of the Alpha and with a bit of embarrassment (and a grim look at his flatmate) asked Arthur to wait while he went to put something more comfortable to go for a ride together, leaving him there with Gwaine, who smiled slyly.

"So, Artie... How was your dental exploration proceeding?" He said mischievous in the doorway.

In response, the blond smiled feral, giving him a resounding slap on the back, "Gwaine, Gwaine, Gwaine ... you always choose the right moment, isn’t it?"

"If I may say so myself...your sister is a fantastic teacher. By the way, how is she?"

“Magnificently..."

“And how's going with Merlin?”

“Equally magnificently..."

"And how long do you think it will take you to have your way with him?"

“Gwaine, I am saying this with not hard feelings but...it is none of your business!"

"You are right, Artie." The brown haired man said, running a hand in his hair. “But the happiness of my best friend is my business. Remember that. Forewarned man..."

"Gwaine, Merlin is important to me as well. I would never do anything to hurt him."

“Under no circumstances?"

"Never!"

“Remember your words, Pendragon... remember them!"

The blond was dumbfounded. Gwaine had such a serious face he was almost scary.

***

Arthur loved chocolate. Since his childhood, he simply adored it. Then, when that flavor came from the mouth of the brunet, perfection was complete.

That night, they took a walk in a park, not far away, stopping first to get ice cream. Merlin took peach and vanilla flavor, while Arthur chocolate and cream. When they were sitting on the grass, looking at the stars, Merlin stole Arthur’s ice cream, giving it a maliciously lick.

“I like chocolate as well...” He said blushing, before Arthur took him by the neck, sinking voracious in his mouth.

Jesus you are delicious” He commented, licking Merlin’s lower lip, before biting it gently. "I have many ideas at the moment and they all concern you, a bed and a lot of chocolate!”

“Uhm it's getting interesting...” Merlin smiled, looking up, while Arthur put his head on the legs of the other, also watching the sky above them. Instinctively, the brunet began to pass his long snowy fingers through the blond hair, cuddling him gently, while the other whining of pleasure.

“Are you making a wish, Arthur?”

“No. The stars have already fulfilled all my wishes.”

“Are you sure you don’t want anything else?”

Arthur took a deep breath, taking the other hand of the brunet and twisting his warm fingers to those of the other.

“You are the only one I want. I want to know everything about you and I want you to know everything about me. I want to just have to cross a room to talk to you and not a city or even a road or to need half an hour to reach you. I want to be part in your decisions as you will be in mine. But, above all, I want to know you will be there for me, when I need you. I want you to know I'll be there whenever you want me.” said this, he brought the palm of Merlin’s hand to his mouth, placing a light kiss. Then, he sat up, stroking the face of his mate with one hand, finding him trembling, with a sweet smile on his lips.

“Arthur, you.... Jesus you're unbelievable! You arrived in my life unexpectedly... you twisted it up completely. Overnight, you snuck strongly in my thoughts. You steal my breath, when you kiss me and my little world shatters, when you touch me. You destabilize me as if it was the most natural thing in the world. We've been together since so little time and you tell me things... things that no one ever told me, and that I never thought to hear, much less from an Alpha... Who the hell are you, Arthur Pendragon?”

The blond caressed his face with his fingertips, writing poetry on his cheekbones and losing himself in his overseas blue eyes, full of stars.

“I'm the one who loves you the most” The blonde whispered on his mouth, before kissing him slowly, gently, possessively, savoring every single moment of that kiss, every movement of his shy and hot tongue, the softness of his lips, the sweet, subtle, wonderful smell, imprinting his flavor in his flesh, in his blood, with all his heart, soul, everything.

“I am the one who you belong to...”

***

Morgana sat at the Round Table, where all the Knights were ready, chips and beer in hand, waiting to conspire with their General.

“My friends." The brunet began, “I have gathered you here because, as you know, last Saturday, Arthur was able to convince Merlin to date him.”

She smiled when the bystanders clapped happily at her words, before starting to speak again. “Although it seems the worst is over, we face a new problem. Merlin is afraid to reveal his Omega nature to Arthur and on the other hand, that Dollop-Head of my brother, who as we know has less intelligence than a radish, doesn’t want to listen, despite the fact I have tried to put in his head the idea that Merlin could be an Omega. He says he hates them and blah blah blah... I'll spare you the crap that I had to put up with. But the point is that he doesn’t even consider the possibility that Merlin could be of ‘the other team' so ... well, we have to do something.”

The boys exchanged smiles and glances. Leon interjected first. “Tell us what you have in mind, Gana...”

The girl took a large swig of beer and began to explain her idea.

“The plan is simple. On Sunday, we go on a trip to the lake. We’ll leave early in the morning and spend the day together, BBQ and more. No swimming: it's still too cold. Gwaine, the first move is up to you: you’ll replace Merlin’s suppressors with pills without any effect, but very similar to the incriminated drugs. Gaius will prepare them for you and on Sunday morning, you'll give them to him. This way, towards mid-day, the effect of the suppressors he has taken the day before will end and Merlin will no longer be able to cover his smell in any way. Then, Arthur will be put in front of the truth and understand that Merlin is an Omega, without him having to tell him.”

“If Merlin remains without suppressors, his smell of unmated Omega may attract the attention of other Alphas...” Elyan reasoned aloud.

“And this is when you enter in the scene, my noble knights...” Gana whispered mischievously, while playing with a rebel curl of hers.

“What should we do exactly?” Lance asked, puzzled.

“You must prevent other Alphas from approaching Merlin. You will be his bodyguards. Discreetly of course, he must not become aware that you are guarding him! You will create a shield around our two lovebirds. Only Artie will be near him and no one else. Understood?”

Percy leaned forward, "Gana, they have been together only for a week. Don’t you think it's better to wait a bit longer?"

"No, my friend. I thought about it. If Arthur were to react badly, it’d be better he knows now rather than later. Otherwise, the deeper their relationship is, the more I fear Arthur could feel fooled for not having known it before."

“So you think he may react badly?" Mordred asked, interested.

Morgan lowered her gaze for a moment. "I don’t know, Mordred... I really don’t know. My brother is very proud, but he is also very much in love. I can only hope everything goes well but I don’t give guarantees. Arthur doesn’t seem to think. That’s why we have to force them a bit, even though we don’t like it..."

Gwaine clenched his jaw, visibly nervous and Percy surrounded his waist with his arm, giving him a light kiss on the neck, trying in vain to calm him down.

Morgana noticed the tension of his features and put a hand on the one of the brown haired man, "Everything will be fine, Gwaine. Don’t worry..."

“It is like asking water not to be wet. God, Gana, you know what happened to Merlin. You know this is a great step for him. If things don’t go well, if Arthur were to reject him, I don’t know how..."

"Gwaine... Let’s cross the bridge when we come to it. I'm sure everything will be fine..." Morgana finished, trying to appear convincing.

Gwaine looked at her in the eyes.

She was lying.

***

That Sunday morning, the weather was beautiful, with a hot summer sun displaying itself in a clear sky, wonderfully blue, like the eyes of his Alpha. He and the Knights were putting together the base camp that included blankets, a beach umbrella, the cooler and the BBQ.

Merlin closed his eyes and sighed happily. It had been a long time since he had felt a so beautiful, heartening sensation, so comfortable in the company of friends and with someone to love.

Involuntarily, his eyes looked for Arthur’s and found them after a second. The blond was wearing a red light fitting jersey and slightly wide jeans. He was kneeling on the grass, intent to roll out the blankets with the others. When their eyes met, Arthur smiled sweetly at him, giving him a little nod and Merlin smiled back.

It promised to be a great day.

The lake waters were placid. Many families, couples and groups of friends like them were present on the lawn in front of the mirror of water from the very early morning. Therefore, Gana’s idea to leave at dawn to be able to take the "best places" had actually worked out great. In fact, not far from them, a small wood promised a pleasant shade and shelter from the sun that seemed already pounding and the location of their "base camp" was perfect, between the lake and the woods.

After they finished assembling everything they needed, the merry band stretched out on the blankets, while Percy pulled out his more than qualified guitar and began to strum, while everyone improvised themselves singers. The laughter that came out were sensational.

His Alpha was particularly sweet that morning. While the others were singing, Arthur continued to observe Merlin insistently, smile at him, sink in his neck with his lips, wrap him with his pheromones, trying to imprint himself on him in an almost possessive way, which didn’t bother Merlin at all. Since they started dating, the Omega in Merlin had often won against his more rational part. The attentions of his mate, if up to two weeks ago embarrassed him to death, were now more than well accepted, and often sought.

The truth was that Merlin felt ready. Ready for Arthur. And if Arthur forced him and bite him to create the Bond, Merlin wouldn’t back out of it.

He was in love for the first time in his life and for the first time, he was able to escape from the pain of his past. And it was all thanks to an Alpha, to his words, his gestures, giving his heart without reserve and as he would have never thought possible.

He smiled with downcast eyes, flushed cheeks, while Arthur approached his cheekbone, and placed a light kiss and a lick with his tongue there. Merlin looked at him amazed because of the so intimate touch.

“You have cheekbones so sharp I could hurt myself … I'll have to lick and bite them more often to smooth them …” Arthur said, mischievous in his ear, sending him a jolt of chills down the spine.

“At your disposal, my Alpha” Merlin whispered, equally mischievous, knowing as an Omega how those words would have a deep effect on his mate.

It was one of the natural inclinations of his species to satisfy his own Alpha and that morning, sparks seemed to burst between them. The sexual tension the both of them perceived, when they were near, was almost insurmountable, and each of them basked in the presence of the other, lost in each other's smells, in the heat made by the reciprocal hugs, kisses and elusive touches.

By midmorning, Gwaine pulled out the death game: Twister. Merlin knew what consequences there would be... that game was a curse, but being able to rub against Arthur in the most unlikely positions with the excuse of the game was enjoyable and fun.

The best moment was when Percy, to put his right hand on red, fell heavily on the blond, who in turn did all he could not to reduce Merlin under him to a well-packed sardine. The laughter that ensued were atomic, as well as Gana’s malicious comments, who was holding the square board, turning sadistically the spinner.

Having Arthur on him, although just for the game, was good for him and he didn’t notice the wide smile on his face as the Alpha yelled at Percy to move from above him.

Yet, when the mastodon decided to get off, Arthur laid for a moment on the brunet, giving him a fleeting kiss on the lips, which made Merlin hug and kiss him in turn.

Everything was wonderful.

Everything was perfect.

When the brunet was able to get back to his feet, it was almost lunchtime and Leon decided it was time to start to turn the barbecue on. Obviously, Arthur immediately proclaimed himself the king of the situation, giving orders left and right to collect firelighters and go and get the food and drinks.

Merlin wanted to enter the forest to collect small branches, useful for the purpose, but to his surprise, Leon held him by the shirt, telling him that he would do it along with Percy. He told Merlin to stay with Artie.

It was strange, but Leon’s tone had been so adamant that he couldn’t help but step back …

When Merlin tried to go to the car to take the bags with the food, Elyan stopped him, putting a hand on his shoulder and saying that he'd do it along with Lance. He asked Merlin to stay close to the ‘master of the BBQ’.

Merlin was surprised again. Turning around, he saw Arthur struggling with the charcoal, while Morgana and Gwaine, who were staring at him, invited him to join the blond next to the barbecue.

It was as if they were doing everything to make him stay with Arthur, which certainly didn’t bother him, but he couldn’t shake off the unpleasant feeling of being like a mouse, placed inside a labyrinth with many curious eyes studying his moves.

Not understanding the situation, he adapted and decided, resigned, to go back. However, as too many people were already close to the barbecue, Merlin ended up opting for a walk along the bank of the lake.

The cool breeze that licked his skin in that sunny day was more than pleasant, and the clear water, reflecting the sky, was beautiful and inviting beyond words.

A male voice interrupted his natural contemplation. A voice that he hadn’t heard in a very long time.

“Merlin Emrys?” Someone called behind him. He turned around immediately, associating the voice to a distant memory.

In front of him was a fine specimen of Alpha. He was tall, slim, handsome, with long dark brown hair that fell softly on his massive shoulders, toned muscles imprisoned in a light black shirt; a youthful face, charming with just a hint of beard and deep brown eyes that stared at Merlin from above. An open smile painted on his lips.

Merlin took a moment to weave the threads of his olfactory and physiognomy memories. Then, his lips curled into a smile.

“Cenred??” Asked an astonished brunet, “is it…is it really you?!?”

“At your command, Dr. Emrys” The other replied, approaching and embracing Merlin warmly, “Jesus It’s so good to see you!!! You disappeared after graduating!”

“What about you? Did you manage to graduate?”

“Your question sounds a bit offensive, my dear! I have never been as smart as you, but in the end, I managed in the challenge too!”

“I had no doubts, Cenred! God, it has really been too long…” Merlin laughed, beaming after meeting one of his college buddies, patting him hearty on the back.

“And what about you? Damn Merlin, you are as gorgeous as ever, even if you're thinner than I remembered you! Are you all right?” The Alpha asked, concerned, seizing a wrist and verifying its narrowness with clinical eye. He was slightly worried.

“Yes, don’t worry… I went through a bad period, but now I'm fine…” Merlin said, slightly embarrassed, well aware to be too skinny.

Who the hell is that?” Arthur snapped, seeing another man, who first embraced and then touched his mate. He stood at attention.

Gwaine and Morgana looked toward the lake. The Knights were around and the two of them were distracted in the preparations of the barbecue, leaving Merlin free to wander alone.

The blond soon felt an irrational and blind anger growing inside of him. He began to advance in strides to reach Merlin, with Morgana and Gwaine behind him, giving each other worried glances.

As soon as the blond was in the vicinity of the pair, the brown haired man tried to restrain him, but Arthur was in full 'Prime Alpha Mode' and couldn’t hear anything or stop. At that moment, he only saw his mate in danger with another Alpha around.

“Merlin” The blond hissed, furious, suddenly coming between the brunet and his interlocutor, “Are you all right? Who is this and why is he touching you?”

Merlin realized soon that something was wrong. Arthur had the hair behind his head straight as spines, the rippling muscles were tense, while he pushed Merlin behind him, his jaw was clenched and his produced pheromones were the mirror of his discomfort in that situation. He was angry and ready to attack to defend what was his.

“Hey, my friend” Cenred began, trying to ease the tension “Calm down, calm down! Merlin and I were classmates at university...”

“First of all: I’m not your friend. Second: this doesn’t give you the right to touch him” Arthur growled low, still holding Merlin behind him.

“Interesting. And who the hell are you to tell me what I have the right to do and not to do with an old friend? Are you perhaps his Alpha? Because I don’t see any bite on his neck, nor do I sniff your smell on him...” The dark brown hair man began, in defense mode.

“I don’t need to bite him to establish the Bond. Merlin is a Beta, not an Omega and he is MY MATE!!”

Cenred’s laughter was the last thing Merlin heard, while he felt distinctly his heart sinking into his most irrational fear. He instantly realized where the conversation would take them and what would follow. His breath was stuck in his throat, while Cenred delivered his death sentence...

“Are you taking the piss out of me? Merlin a Beta? Oh Holy Jesus you're kidding me, right? I mean, does your nose even work? Do you not sense his smell? It’s so perfect, sweet, inviting... so Omega...”

Arthur lunged forward, hitting Cenred straight on the nose with a so well placed right to make him fall to the ground with a thud. Immediately, Merlin broke free from Arthur’s shoulders to go to make sure of the brown haired man’s conditions, standing between his Alpha and his victim.

“Arthur, stop it! What have you done!?!” Merlin shouted, upset, holding Cenred’s head, making sure he had not broken his nasal septum.

As soon as he recovered, Cenred returned to laugh aloud, taunting his opponent and continuing in his ruminations, “Well, it is normal an Alpha tries to defend His Omega...Merlin, but what kind of boyfriend have you? He didn’t even notice your nature...he believes you a Beta!”

“Cenred, stop provoking him!” Merlin said, desperate.

“Merlin, tell him!” Arthur growled above them, while Gwaine grabbed him by the shoulder in an attempt to stop him, “You are a Beta... my Beta...TELL HIM!”

“Yes, Merlin, tell me. SINCE WHEN ARE YOU A BETA? Because if there is a way to genetically alter one’s nature, I would be happy to know. Evidently, Mr. I- know- Everything knows more than me about Medicine of the Species...Come on, Merlin. Enlight us...”

The brunet looked intently at Arthur with his mouth open, unable to lie, unable to hide, while his worst nightmares were coming true and the truth was beginning to demand its price...

 

Chapter Text

“Arthur, I…I…” Merlin began, before discovering that the words were so stuck in his throat to hurt him. However, what destroyed him the most were the eyes of the blond, who passed from disbelief to awareness, from disappointment to anger, while his jaw hardened and his hands clasped into fist, along his sides, the muscles so tense to crack at any moment.

The Alpha’s grasp on his arm was so strong that it’d leave marks on his white skin, while Arthur dragged him into the near woods unceremoniously.

“Arthur” Morgana called him peremptorily, hoping to get his attention and obviously worried about the turn that events were taking.

In response, her brother stopped his march, spun around and pointed his finger at his sister and Gwaine, while Cenred remained on the ground with bloody lips.

“The two of you, don’t you dare follow us or I swear you will regret it!” He growled low, in a tone that brooked no argument.

The two of them remained planted like pillars, while Merlin's heart sank into an abyss of fear and pain. He had never seen or heard Arthur so enraged.

After a moment, the two men disappeared among the trees, while Morgana bent over the unfortunate man on the ground to lend him first aid. She commanded Gwaine to rally the Knights. Things were not going as she had expected...

***

“Tell me I’m wrong! Merlin, tell me I’m wrong...”

His blue eyes were like two thin strips and promised storm, like his voice, deep, dominant... and cold as stone, while tearing Merlin’s heart apart, reducing it to shreds.

“Arthur...I...please...”

He didn’t have time to understand what was happening. He only felt the thick bark of a tree behind him and realized he had suddenly exhaled all the breath in his lungs in the moment he violently collided against it. Arthur had no qualms about shoving him against the tree. Now, he covered Merlin with his body, smelling of wet earth and shadow, pushing against him without any delicacy and firmly grasping his black hair with his right hand, pulling violently to the left and forcing him to expose the long white neck, in which Arthur buried his nose a moment later.

He didn’t feel Merlin trembling.

He didn’t hear him groaning.

He didn’t notice his broken breaths, oozing fear, and that wandering tear his long black lashes were unable to hold back.

In that moment, Merlin realized with horror that his Omega smell was clearly perceptible. The suppressors were completely gone. His strong, sweet smell permeated the air around them. And the more the blond pushed on him, the more his body ceased to obey him and predisposed itself to welcome his mate, who at the moment was the incarnation of livid and pure rage.

Merlin knew that an Alpha in those conditions was dangerous… Very dangerous.

Arthur took his time smelling him without a word: the base of the neck near the collarbone, then, slowly, behind his ear, hidden in the inked haired. He slowly inhaled the sweet scent of his prey, giving time to his brain to come to the only conclusion he wanted to avoid with all his being.

When he felt the Alpha’s hot and humid tongue licking the base of his neck to test the taste, the brunet almost fainted, covered by violent chills. The only thing he wanted was for Arthur to bit him, to sink his teeth into his flesh. Then, to lick the wound, mixing their fluids and finally claiming him as his Omega, establishing the Bond.

But it was too late for that ... damn too late...

When the blond resurfaced from the crook of his neck, he had tears in his eyes for the despair, his lips were tight in a thin line and his pheromones were traveling around them, crazy.

You are an Omega...aren’t you? Yes, you are... God! I was an idiot for not noticing it sooner...” He said with a barely concealed note of desperation in his voice, as he ran a hand into the blond hair, looking down.

“Arthur, listen to me...” Merlin began with a trembling voice, trying to explain.

“Fuck, Merlin, tell me I’m wrong! Tell me you are not fucking Omega!! That you didn’t deceive me, allowing me to fall in love with you, knowing what I think about Omegas! Tell me you didn’t make a fool of me since the first night we met!!”

Merlin reacted instinctively, deeply hurt by the words of the other, as tears began to fall on his red cheekbones.

“I didn’t make a fool of you, Arthur. I fought against my beliefs about Alphas and myself in order to give you a chance to enter my little world. And this is why I never wanted a relationship with anyone. Because, fuck, I have already suffered too much in my life. Then, you came and messed it up. I have experience the Imprinting, and certainly not because I wanted to. If I could, I would have stayed as far away as possible from you. Yes, it’s true!! I have never told you I am an Omega, because I have listened to my heart, and not my head, for once in my life. Because I found something I desired with all my myself and I didn’t want, subconsciously or not, for it to be taken away from me. I didn’t want to lose you! I wanted you for myself...”

“NO, you made fun of me!” Arthur thundered to a millimeter from his face, “You should have told me immediately. I wouldn’t have even tried to care for you! What we have now is based on a lie, fuck! You were mine! I would have given my life for you! I was willing to give everything up in order to have you. I was ready to placate my very nature, because I was in love…I was in love with you, Merlin...” he finished, moving away from Merlin and taking a few steps back, allowing the brunet to breathe again.

“What are you talking about? What kind of sacrifice have I forced on you exactly? You are an Alpha. I am an Omega. You don’t have to give up your nature for me! Besides, don’t you dare lecture me! You are a Prime. It’s impossible you didn’t notice my nature. You just didn’t see what was in front of you because you didn’t want to see it!”

Merlin closed his eyes, when he heard the blond's fist hitting the wood, a few inches from his face, with such force that the tree behind his shoulders shook and the words died in his throat, quivering between the mind and the heart.

“Don’t you dare blaming me, Merlin. DON’T. YOU. DARE. There’s nothing you can say to convince me!” the Alpha ended, distancing himself from Merlin. “I believed in you. But now, when I look at you, all I can see is a dirty lying Omega, who tried to chase after me, to tempt me, to force me into the Bond, lying to me to satisfy his needs. You perfectly embody everything I've always thought about your species... you are not different from the others!” The blond said, calmer, as if he had taken fully awareness of the words he was saying.

He looked at the hand that had hit the wood: it was red, swollen and with some stuck splinter of wood that made blood coming out.

Arthur pressed his palms on the blue eyes, shiny, because they were holding back the tears that only his pride was preventing him from letting slide free.

He looked at Merlin for the last time, planting his blue and cold eyes in his pupils, piercing him from side to side. In his mind, he imprinted every stretch of the man who he loved, before burying his memory in a deep hole in his heart. Then, he turned and delivered his sentence.

“I don’t want to see you ever again, Merlin. Stay away from me or next time, I’ll become exactly the beast you thought I was when you first met me...” He said while going away, as Morgana and Gwaine appeared along with the knights.

The blond passed between them with his eyes down and without a word, while Gwaine ran to support Merlin, who was trembling with sobs, tears and anger.

***

Merlin spent the rest of the day with the Knights, who did their best to comfort him and give him moral support, promising to do everything they could to make Arthur see sense.

Merlin wanted to talk to him again, but the blond had gone who knew where, leaving everyone speechless, after the bitter outburst of that morning.

Morgana hugged him like a sister, trying in vain to get him to eat something.

“Merlin, I apologize for him. You are an extraordinary person, a wonderful Omega and I'm sure Arthur didn’t think half the things he said to you. The fact is that he is so... stubborn and proud. He doesn’t hate Omegas. He hate himself, because he is afraid of what he might do to you now that he knows about your nature. It’s like the fable of the fox and the grapes, with the difference that in this case, the fox is afraid to ruin the grapes by trying to take it. Therefore, he convinces himself that he doesn’t like it. He is just afraid to hurt you, Merlin, not understanding that by doing this, he is hurting you more! I will make him see reason, at the cost of sending him to a psychologist, kicking his ass. His rudeness is inexcusable. But please, don’t lose hope and don’t doubt he loves you. He will find out in the hard way that certain feelings cannot be put aside so easily...”

“We are with you, Merlin.” Percy said, offering him a cup of coffee. “Arthur is our friend and we love him, but he must understand he made a mistake by offending and leaving you. Rely on us!”

“And if he doesn’t understand...well, Cenred left me his phone number... the sea is full of fishes, Merlin, and he is not the only Alpha in the world!”

“I’m grateful for your support,” Merlin said, resigned, as he rubbed his hands ceaselessly “but he is my Perfect Bond Mate. This means that there is and there will always be only him for me. He is not only imprinted in my heart and in my mind. He is imprinted in my blood. Anyone else would be wrong, now that I know he exists. Besides, I don’t want to find a replacement. I don’t want anyone but Arthur.” Merlin sighed, realizing the deep meaning of his words as he spoke them.

“What does Perfect Bond Mate mean?” Mordred asked curiously.

Merlin composed himself and tried to explain in a more clear and simple way what the Imprinting was and what it entailed. He and Arthur were simply destined to belong to each other. He had fought against this thing from the beginning, but then, he had to succumb, until his fears had come true.

Later that evening, they brought Merlin to the Excalibur and convinced him to eat at least a little bit of Fish & Chips. The reality was that everyone saw him destroyed and didn’t have the heart to leave him alone.

Around eleven, Gwaine took pity of his broken heart and took him home, saying goodbye to everyone.

Morgana remained with the Knights of the Round Table and summed up what had happened.

“I don’t accept it! Gentlemen, my brother’s attitude was absurd, rude and senseless. I cannot see Merlin like this. Especially because it was Arthur who had chased after him to make him give in. I don’t even want to think about how that poor boy must feel and about Gwaine who has to take care of him.”

The companions nodded in unison.

“What should we do then? Arthur is stubborn as a donkey and he’ll never listen...”

“Then, we will take Merlin’s side and make Arthur think and feel like an asshole. That wretch doesn’t know me! I will make his life a living hell and make him understand the gravity of his mistake in the end. And you will help me. From tomorrow on, you will barely address him. Every time he’ll try to convince you of his reasons, you’ll throw at his face his own wrongdoings. On the other hand, I want you to back Merlin and Gwaine up, to invite them out even without my brother. I’ll think about the rest... if Arthur has no intention to care for Merlin, Cenred will be my incentive... you will see how Arthur’s ears will lift up, when he’ll see his Omega dating someone else!!!”

“Always if Cenred agrees...”

“He’ll agree! I’ll convince him! He will only have to be seen with Merlin a few times and my brother will be blind by range; trust me... Besides, if the Imprinting is just half of what Merlin told us, my brother will go through hell! From tomorrow, the offensive starts. I want you ready and wound up!!!”

“Or Glory or Death, General!” the Knights cried.

“Or Glory or Death!” she echoed, as an evil grin made its way on her face.

Dear brother of mine, you don’t know what’s in store for you....

***

The first week was the hardest to bear.

Merlin looked continually at his phone, hoping to have some kind of news from his now ex-boyfriend. However, Arthur seemed to have disappeared into another world, leaving Merlin in a reality full of shadows, dull and colorless.

For the first few days, the brunet refused to leave the house and Gwaine called in sick at work to be able to be with him all the time. He washed Merlin, took care of him and prepared tea and biscuits, the only things Merlin was willing to eat and not without being forced to. Obviously, he informed the others about the brunet’s conditions, because everyone was very concerned about the situation. Primarily Gaius was worried and called even five times a day to make sure his nephew was all right and if he needed anything.

He was regressing.

It was sad to see him in bed all day without a word, looking at the ceiling, still, locked in the silence, full of pain, memories and needs. Every time the phone rang, he opened his eyes in the hope it was Arthur; and then, he closed them wearily, when he saw a different name appearing … it did not matter whose.

Often, he pressed himself against the t-shirt the Alpha had given him and focused, closing his eyes. He called him desperately, mentally recalling their bond, but from the other side, he felt a sharp denial, anger, resentment, and more.

The fifth night, he felt him.

It was faint, but Arthur was calling him. He concentrated more and for a moment, he saw him: Arthur was in a small room, full of big books and posters, probably his room in the Oxford campus.

Merlin recognized his muscles, designed by the moonlight that filtered through the window, his blonde hair that caught the pale light. He was lying on the bed, naked, his muscles were covered in sweat, tense as they moved rhythmically, sinking hard into an unknown body.

“Do you see, Merlin? I don’t need you...,” the Alpha growled lowly and deeply, while strangled moans of pleasure came out from the shadows, probably a woman’s.

“Arthur, no...” the brunet sobbed, covering his mouth with his hands; his eyes shocked by the sight of his mate in the arms of another. His world collapsed into thin pieces.

In that moment, he heard distinctly the sound produced by a broken heart.

It was HIS OWN.

The blond seemed to have heard him, because he lifted up his face immediately, meeting Merlin’s eyes for a moment. The brunet jolted awake in his room, screaming.

Gwaine rushed into his room, hugging him tight and trying to calm him down, holding that slender and shaking body.

“What's up, Merl? What happened?” He asked worriedly.

His ultramarine blue eyes were full of tears and Merlin’s expression tore Gwaine’s soul apart, like the words out of his mouth.

“I want to die...” he said, defeated, while Gwaine, more worried than ever, passed a hand through his black hair to cheer him up, cuddling him as gently as possible. “Gwaine, he is with someone else...I have seen it...please, I cannot do this...I cannot stand it...God please, kill me now...!”

“Merlin, don’t say that ... don’t do it...” the brown haired man groaned, hugging him even tighter. “He doesn’t deserve you. He doesn’t deserve all this pain and your consideration!”

“It's my fault ... I should have told him before ... I lied to him, Gwaine. I have lied to him and I have lost him forever,” the brunet sobbed on the neck of his friend, wetting him with warm tears.

After a good hour of pampering and milk with honey, laced with a good dose of downers, Merlin fell into a dreamless sleep, while Gwaine meditated upon his revenge.

The brown haired man called Percy to warn him he was coming to the campus.

When he got out of the car, it was after eleven p.m. and Percy went to meet him, not knowing what to expect.

“Hey baby, what’s happening?”

“Tell me where Arthur is!” Gwaine said in a voice so low and full of hate that Percy himself struggled to recognize him as the Beta he loved.

“What...Gwy, what are your intentions?” His mate interjected, still not understanding.

“Percy, I love you, really, but now, TELL ME.WHERE.IS.THAT. BASTARD!”

“I do not know exactly... Wait, I’ll do some calls to the guys to know if anyone has seen him...”

 “Forget it! Where is his room?” Gwaine asked, cold.

“On the second floor, West wing. Gwy, you are scaring me...”

“And you are right to be scared. Take me to his quarters. From there, I'll take care of things!”

Percy led the way through the complex maze of corridors and buildings that created the dormitories of the university. He did not even try to touch his mate, permeated by an aura of livid anger, so deep that it was perceptible, despite Betas not emitting any odor.

Sensing the destructive potential of the situation, Percival secretly and quickly sent a text message to Leon ('Red Alert. Arthur’s room, now!'), while he was giving his mate the tour to give time to his friend to answer the call.

After five minutes, the big boy stopped and pointed a white door down the hall.

“He is here...” the colossus exclaimed at the end. From the brass handle, hung a stupid red stub, probably stolen in some hotels of the lowest category, saying, ‘DO NOT DISTURB’.

At seeing it, Gwaine smiled ironically, turning purple, as the blood went to his brain dangerously.

“Piece of shit!” he whispered to himself, while cutting the card into pieces and before starting to knock on the door violently…. No answer.

Gwaine continued to hit it repeatedly, with such a violence that, if the door didn’t open immediately, he would pull it down with his fists. He was so furious that he did not even realize that, behind him, Leon and Mordred had arrived; both looking shocked at Percy.

“What’s happening?” Leon asked his friend, mimicking voicelessly the words, not to be heard.

“I have no idea!” Percy mouthed silently in turn, shrugging and shaking his head.

When he finally heard the 'click' of the key, Gwaine gave a powerful boost to the wood, bursting into the room.

Arthur stood before him shirtless, with his blond hair ruffled and an erection dying, badly restrained by the red pants of the tracksuit. Smell of sweat and sex permeated the small room, while Gwaine focused on the figure of a woman lying on the bed in the shadows, who was hastily covering herself with a white sheet.

“… he is with someone else...I have seen it…”

“...please, I cannot do this...I cannot stand it...”

“…please, kill me now…”

Gwaine needed a moment. He closed his eyes as he remembered Merlin’s words, squeezing his heart.

“Gwaine...Explain what....” the Alpha started, annoyed, running a hand through his hair, not understanding what was going on.

But Gwaine wasn’t seeing Arthur.

He was seeing Merlin.

In front of him, Gwaine saw Merlin’s blue eyes, full of pain, as his right hand clutched into a fist. In front of him, he saw his thin body, shaken with sobs, as he grabbed Arthur by the neck. He heard the shouts and tears of his best friend in the ears, as his knuckles met the blonde's jaw.

He had a heavy heart, as he struck him with such a violence to make him fall down to the ground with bloody lips. He had Merlin’s words, steeped in pain and blood, in the mind, while he mounted astride the bond’s bare chest, smashing him to the ground, continuing to hit him repeatedly with such a force he couldn’t recognize himself.

Percy’s hands brought him back to reality. Strong hands held him from the waist, lifting and pulling him upward and back, in order to free the body of the Alpha from beneath him, who was standing a moment later, ready to attack.

Leon step treacherously in the middle, blocking Arthur, who was already charging toward Gwaine, eyes bloodshot, ready to respond to the violence.

“YOU DAMNED BASTARD! Come here, so I can show you who the real Alpha is between the two of us!” Arthur cried, while Mordred came running to Leon’s aid to keep him away from his attacker.

“You are an arsehole, Arthur. AN ARSEHOLE! You promised! YOU PROMISED, Shit! YOU PROMISED NOT TO HURT HIM! UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES!” the brunet shouted back, trying in vain to break free from Percy’s powerful arms, who restrained him with difficulty, also being careful not to hurt him.

“Fuck you, Gwy! You are not my father! Don’t you dare lecture me! Have you started to be the fucking defender of the weak? He lied to me. HE LIED TO ME, FUCK!”

“And he did the right thing, seeing how you reacted! You know what he went through!”

“He is a FUCKING OMEGA! I loved him and he made a fool out of me!” the blond spat poison, while the Knights still held him.

“Oh, of course! You loved him so much that now you go and fuck around, while Merlin is LETTING HIMSELF DIE! FOR YOU!”

Arthur stared, stopping immediately, his jaw clenching, his muscles still tense and the blood in his veins frozen.

“What do you mean? WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN?”

“I mean what I said, you bastard! But what do you care? You don’t give a fuck about anyone else but yourself! Go ahead and fuck around until you lose that Alpha brain of yours, while a collect the pieces you left behind!” Gwaine spat, as Percy tugged and took him out of the room. “YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS, PENDRAGON. Did you hear me? You are a bastard! Make sure I don’t see you ever again. Otherwise, alpha or not, I WILL KILL YOU. Understand? This is a fucking promise, Arthur!” Gwaine finished, while his mate took him away, still trying to calm him down.

Then, Leon and Mordred lightened their grip on Arthur's chest, still panting in anger. He had a split lip and a swollen cheekbone.

“Let me go, you two” Arthur told them, furious.

The Knights let him go. However, the look they gave him was not what Arthur had expected. They were looking at him with a mixture of disgust and pity, staring briefly at the woman on his bed and shaking their head without saying a word, leaving the room quickly.

Arthur quickly composed himself, touching his face, battered by the blows of his assailant. However, what hurt the most was not his lip, or his cheekbone; it was the contempt he had read in the eyes of his friends, as Gwaine’s words dug a hole in his heart.

“...YOU LOVED HIM SO MUCH THAT NOW, YOU GO AND FUCK AROUND, WHILE MERLIN IS LETTING HIMSELF DIE! FOR YOU!”

“...IS LETTING HIMSELF DIE! FOR YOU! ”

“...FOR YOU!”

“Arthur... who the hell is this Merlin???” The voice of the Beta said almost annoyed, still lying in his bed, hurting his ears.

He swallowed.

He clenched his fists.

He picked up his clothes and put a sweatshirt on, taken from the ground with little grace. “Redress. I don’t want to find you here when I come back.” He ordered, turning his back to her and exiting.

“Artie, what are you talking about?”

The blond turned to her, looking askance. “Do me a favor: shut up and fuck off.”

The ‘BASTARD’ he heard from behind him was masterfully covered by the sound of the door of the room slamming violently.

Chapter Text

In some strange way I am not with you, I am against you.

We are destined to hold two truths.

I love you and I fight you.

And you, the same.

We will be stronger for it, each of us, stronger with our love and our hate.

Anaïs Nin, Henry and June: From "A Journal of Love"

 

Arthur was sitting alone under a tree in the big park in front of the faculty, eyes closed to think better about what was going on in his life lately; his palms pressed firmly over his eyes, knees to the chest and a heavy heart.

It had been two weeks since that fateful Sunday, since he had discovered that his Merlin was an Omega.

Since that day, he moved, he breathed, he spoke; yet, everything was different, twisted, without any sense.

He seemed to walk through a world of shadows that danced around him and spoke in a language that he did not want to understand.

He could not understand.

He spent the first week with a bottle of beer or hard liquor in hand for most of the time, skipping lessons and trying to avoid his lifelong friends to avert having to face the consequences of his actions, despite the thin voice shouting 'coward' at his every step.

During his more or less vigilant hangovers, he had been an asshole with any woman he happened to see, Alpha or Beta. He was convinced he could find his answers between their thighs, or at least the hope of being able to convince himself not to need that one Omega element that had so powerfully changed his life recently.

And he had miserably failed.

Simply because they were not Merlin.

They were not Merlin.

Since that graceful and frail Being had entered his world, he had changed radically and dramatically Arthur’s prospects, setting a new standard by which measuring his life, becoming the center of his every damn thing.

It had taken him less than a minute to find out he could fuck anyone, but it would bring him no satisfaction (in fact, frustration was the only feeling that he felt) and it would only make him feel like shit. Because as he sank into those hot bodies, in those wrong smells, always holding back, his thoughts went always and only in one direction.

It had taken the most unlikely man in the world to put him in front of a fucking mirror: Gwaine, punching him, as he was shagging with one of the many, whose name he did not even remember...

The brunet’s words had entered him like acid, burning his heart as well as taking away the air from his lungs.

“MERLIN...IS LETTING HIMSELF DIE! FOR YOU!”

Arthur had never seen Gwaine like that. He had never seen him so serious. He had never seen him so violent. His words dripping with blood and contempt. Which had made Arthur understand he was not exaggerating.

Without thinking, he had exited the faculty and had rushed at home in the middle of the night. Briskly, he had headed to his room to regain possession of Merlin’s red scarf, well hidden in one of his drawers. He put it under his nose, inhaling strongly the brunet’s thin smell, still imprinted in that cloth (now, he knew the sweet note was only a pale reflection of his Omega’s wonderful, thick, amber aroma. This thought was a stab to his heart).

“You will not find him in that piece of cloth!” Morgana hissed, acid, on the doorstep, announcing her presence.

“Gana, don’t start!” the blonde spat, clenching his jaw and tensing as soon as he met his sister’s emerald eyes.

In response, the girl decidedly stepped into the room with a smugly smile, the thin purple robe floating freely all around her slender figure. She was a breathless vision.

Pure, powerful, Alpha.

He had never seen his sister like this. Her expression was hard and devoid of any shred of love or pity.

Now, her delicate features were stretched in fine lines, while her eyes penetrated him, looking at him inside, as if to tear all his secrets away.

“I see that Gwaine gave you what you deserve, Arthur.” She ascertained, looking at her brother’s still battered face.

“How do you know...”

“I KNOW EVERYTHING, brother. You haven’t learned the lesson yet, have you?”

“Who warned you? What did they tell you?”

“Does it matter?”

“IT DOES TO ME!”

“Too bad! Because for me, it does not. I'm not going to tell you anything until you apologize, begging, you donkey! What you did to Merlin is ... Oh Christ! Ignoble!”

“You saw Merlin?”

“No. However, I know in which state he is. Gwaine keeps me informed every day.”

“So? How is he? Is he really 'letting himself die'? I hope it is an exaggeration because I don’t want to be responsible for his fate nor his health.”

“Oh, of course, brother. The fact you don’t care is quite clear TO EVERYONE. Don’t worry about it.”

“Answer my question! In what conditions is the Omega?”

“Ah, interesting. You don’t want to be responsible for his fate, but you worry about how he is… You know what? Go and ask Gwaine! He is the one who had been taking care of Merlin for nearly a week now. You will find out nothing from me until a bit of humility and intellect grows in your chest. Which, I know, is impossible. So good night, brother.” Gana hissed scornfully, before giving him her back and going towards her room.

The blond hesitated for a moment, looking down, hands clasping in a shaking fist.

“Gwaine won’t let me see him. He has been pretty clear about it.”

The girl turned around with a smile on her thin lips. “I know! And he has my respect for that! After all, you don’t want to take responsibility for your actions. So, do everyone a favor: sod off, Arthur! Go back to fuck and act cool with those Alpha and Beta ditz you always hang out with! It should be you on that bed, agonizing, not Merlin!” She finished, cold, driving an icy stab in his chest, before exiting and leaving him alone with his anger.

That night, he dreamed of him. Lying on the bed, he held the red scarf near, while slowly sliding into sleep.

Merlin… Merlin...

Beyond the closed eyelids, images had formed fast, weaving the shapes of the shadows, immersing the little room that he had already visited many, many times in his dreams.

The candlelight softly enveloped the surrounding environment and the figure dropped on the bed before him, plunged into a deep sleep and sank limply in the red blankets.

The glimpsed white wrist was so thin it had hurt Arthur’s heart.

He closed his eyes, struggling against himself. He found the courage to move a step forward, then another. He wanted to see him, but he was also afraid of what he might find among the soft fabric.

He stopped at the foot of the bed, while the air was suddenly sucked from his lungs, leaving him breathless. Merlin’s face emerged as pale as the moon and gaunt, in sharp contrast with the red fabric around him. Deep dark circles were under his closed eyes. The normally gentle expression was tense. The slightly parted lips were chapped, the breathing irregular, the cheeks hollow and the cheekbones sharp.

Arthur distinctly felt something breaking inside of him, seeing his Omega in those conditions, while his whole body and his Alpha instincts shouted to hug him, comfort him, treat him, make him his again, craving a touch that would not come.

Jesus, what did you do, Merlin?

The image of the man he loved, reduced to a ghost, dug in him with force, imprinting itself in his blood, making him feel like the most abject person in the world, hurting him, as he did not believe possible.

The relief he felt when he wake up in his bed, thinking it was just a dream, didn’t help him in the least.

Although he had decided to forget about Merlin and their relationship as soon as he had discovered the truth, the need to protect and to care for his own Omega lurked like a demon in his heart, ready to bite, scratch, hurt as much as possible, in an almost intolerable way.

Inside of him, there were floods of emotions that he didn’t know how to handle. He simply couldn’t do it.

  1. COULDN’T. DO. IT.

Hatred, anger, disappointment, sadness, and even anger, grief, love... Love?

No! NO! NO!

He had excellently repressed his Alpha instincts for so many years, while now ... shit it was as if they had uncovered the damn Pandora's Box and his instincts had come out, refusing to return to the prison he called 'everyday life', reaching him strongly in the chest, overpowering him with every breath.

Jesus, what a mess!

***

The second week had gone even worse: his "friends" avoided him cordially and his attempts to know something about Merlin’s conditions had failed miserably, leaving him with a bitter taste.

He had thought about calling him to know how he was, but with what courage could he still rub it in? After all, he had left him and in a bad way. He had told Merlin not to get in touch anymore.

But he had lied to him.

HE HAD LIED TO HIM, FUCK.

HE WAS A DAMN OMEGA.

HE WAS EVERYTHING HE COULD NOT STAND, EVERYTHING HE DIDN’T WANT.

HE WAS EVERYTHING HE LOVED...

Therefore, the days had passed and he stood alone under a tree with his fists clenching, his eyes absorbed, his blonde hair ruffled by the many times he had passed though it with his hands.

For the first time in his life, he did not really know what to do...

***

It took another two weeks before Arthur saw Merlin again.

Despite all his resentment for what had happened, he couldn’t get the brunet out of his head.

On the other hand, he just wanted to know if he was okay, nothing more. He was convinced that his obsession, which was wearing out his mind, would magically disappear if he saw Merlin resuming his life as before.

The problem was that none of the Knights and not even his sister were willing to give in any information about the conditions of his ex-boyfriend. His stalking in front of Merlin’s house had remained fruitless, especially because Gwaine stood guard at the windows as a mastiff and Arthur had to hide to avoid being seen.

Not knowing was the worst thing.

That dull pain in his heart was always present. Constant and angry. Just as the sense of loss, as the void he felt around and inside of him. Not giving him peace.

He missed a part of himself.

The one that Merlin had stolen.

The one he had to learn to do without.

If I knew he was fine, I could go on with my life! The only thing that matters to me is if he is better.

He was convinced that if he could see Merlin for one last time, he would put his heart at peace and would be able to forget him permanently.

He was doing what was right.

It was what he wanted.

Only once.

Just once and that’s it.

***

After the soccer training that Friday afternoon, Gwaine had come to visit Percy, watching from the bleachers at first, and then, waiting outside of the changing rooms.

It was the first time Arthur was able to see him after the incident with Merlin, which meant the brunet had to have recovered enough to be able to be alone in the house.

Percy had washed and dressed in a hurry to reach his mate in the lobby, which had not escaped Arthur’s notice, who had in turn had a quick shower, dressed with equal speed to follow the footsteps of his big friend.

He could not miss the opportunity.

Knowing "nanny-Gwaine" fairly well, Arthur knew the boy would do the impossible to make Merlin go out and convince him to rebuild his life; he knew he would force him to spend a few hours out of the house, most likely with Percy and others to rehabilitate him slowly to the outside world.

Arthur had to find out where they would take Merlin.

With little grace and a good dose of shame, Arthur hide behind the door of the changes rooms. He heard them agreeing on where to spend the evening.

His ears understood only a part of the conversation, but he seemed to understand "American Dream", "at eight" and "Merlin". Then, he heard no more.

With his heart pounding in his chest, he came out of the locker room with feigned nonchalance; collecting Percy’s questioning look and Gwaine’s grim one. He had not forgiven him yet for what he had done and the blond suspected that he would NEVER forgive him ... but in that moment, nothing mattered, except his goal.

He left the gym, feeling the gaze of the brown haired man burning on his back.

***

The heart of the blond clenched into a fist of ice, when he saw Merlin was not there.

It was half past eight and the American Dream (a pub featuring an American diner; very popular among young people in recent times) was filling up quickly.

Meanwhile, he had sat in a corner of the long bar, from which he could keep an eye on the overall situation, hiding behind the long and cumbersome menu of sandwiches and hot dogs the house had to offer.

The first one he saw was his sister with Leon and Mordred in tow. After a few minutes, Percy and Gwaine arrived. Elyan was the last to sit at a long table reserved for them ... there were two free seats at the table and the blond deduced that they were intended for Lance and Merlin.

Yet, the more time passed, the more the brunet was making everyone wait.

Maybe Lance went to fetch him; it was perfectly possible they had saddled an escort to take him to the pub. However, he was not there...

“Sorry, I’m late” A voice at the door said, rousing Arthur from his thoughts.

That same voice froze his blood in the veins.

It was Cenred.

That asshole of Cenred. That bastard of Cenred. What the hell is he doing here? Oh God, No! Don’t tell me they arranged everything to make him go out with Merlin...

After a moment, he saw Morgana talking to Gwaine, and together talking to Cenred, gesticulating. Then, they called a waitress, who took away the seats near the newcomer.

Arthur took a minute to connect the dots and the next minute, he was already in his car, driving toward the house of his Omega...

The prey had been left without a guardian ... it was his chance!

***

Merlin ran a hand over his eyes, leaving it there for an instant to escape from the usual boring medical treatise.

Gwaine, who had been forcing him to eat with the funnel for two weeks, contrasting all his refusals with a chicken leg or a pancake, had brainwashed him in the last month. He chanted Arthur was an asshole and that he had to rebuild his life, that it was better it had happened at the beginning of their relationship and not later. “So, you have waste not too much time because of that bastard ", forcing Merlin to get over Arthur day after day.

At first, Merlin had thought he was dying. Then, Gwaine had pulled him out from that dark hole of grief into which he had fallen, taking care of him lovingly like a brother, to make him feel better.

Knowing his best friend had beaten the Alpha up had given him a shock, making him laugh, as it had not happened in a long time.

Merlin owed him his life.

He was tired of reading. Therefore, with a deep breath, he let go of the book with little grace, he grabbed the laptop on the bedside table and began to surf the internet... Gmail, Facebook...

Before having the time to tell his brain to STOP, his fingers were racing fast on the keyboard, typing ‘Oxford+football+Pendragon’ on Google and here they were… a thousand of pictures magically appeared on the screen, showing him the image of the person he loved.

He was beautiful.

His Alpha.

His heart began to beat faster as his stomach was writhing in pain.

He had done everything to erase those blue eyes, like sky, wind and sun; that hair of wheat; those sweet and soft lips that demanded him constantly, making him feel whole, loved and alive for the first time in a long time...

He wanted him with every fiber of his body and of his damned heart. He wanted him beside him, on top of him, inside of him.

Yet, he saw him next to another woman, on top of her, inside of her. And that had destroyed him deeply, leaving ruins where before there had been a heart. Then, came the anger to keep him alive and to mend badly his existence.

It had annihilated him deeply, because Arthur was HIS and only his.

The Imprinting had effected both of them, and yet, the blond had been able to react better evidently.

I wonder if we'll see each other ever again ... but what would the point be? ... Just to hurt us more ... just to hurt me more...

The sound of the bell brought him out of his thoughts, making him jump. He looked at the clock of the laptop ... it was not late ... maybe, it was Gwaine, who had forgotten something at home...

Quickly, he put his slippers on and went downstairs to open the door.

His heart got stuck in his chest as soon as the Alpha pheromones reached his nostrils.

“Hi, Merlin...”

The brunet tried to recover, letting out a long sigh and bending the lips in a sweet and a little embarrassed smile.

“Hi, Cenred. What are you doing here?”

“I have been invited to dinner by Gana and Gwaine, but your roommate told me you didn’t feel quite ready to leave the house and so, well, I thought I'd come and see how you were ... I didn’t want to bother you...”

Merlin closed his eyes for a moment. He had fought with all his strength against his roommate, who had tried everything to get him out of the house that night, promising a surprise, which quite clearly was the presence of the Alpha in front of him ... DAMNED GWAINE!

“I... no, you are not bothering me! No trouble at all. I'm just sorry you've missed dinner ... do you want to come in for a drink or to eat? Gwaine keeps the pantry full after the recent 'events'...”

“No, no, thanks, Merlin. Morgana is waiting for me in the car. I came with her and I cannot linger too much. I just wanted to apologize for the way things had gone...”

“No, Cenred. I should apologize to you for Arthur’s behavior ... the truth is that I should have told him sooner that I was an Omega ... and you’d just appeared at the wrong time... ”

Cenred smiled amiably, lowering his eyes, "No, Merl, the truth is that your boyfriend had a cold at least... not realizing that you were an Omega is almost an insult for a Prime...”

“I was under suppressors ... but I have stopped taking them now... unfortunately, they don’t interact well with antidepressants...”

The dark haired man sniffed the air, before saying, "I can smell it, Merl. You have a wonderful smell. So Omega.”

Merlin felt his heart squeezing, as the Alpha grabbed his right wrist in his hands, like that time at the lake. However, this time, Arthur would not come to reclaim what was not his anymore...

Cenred ascertained the thinness of the Omega by the protrusion of the radius, feeling his pulse with the thumb. Merlin understood there was nothing 'sexual' in his gestures and yet, he found the touch alien and very unwelcome. It was not his Alpha touching him. It was not Arthur.

Merlin smiled, slightly embarrassed, trying to conceal, "What’s up, doctor? Are you giving me a check-up?”

Cenred got closer to put a warm hand on Merlin’s cheek, lightly brushing the part below the right eye, where dark circles were still on display, disfiguring the Omega’s alabaster skin, "Yes, Merl, I’m doing a check-up, because I'm worried. You have to take sleeping pills if you cannot sleep and you know you have to eat, don’t you? You are too thin and it’s not good for you...”

At those words, Merlin felt his heart hastened enough to want to get out of his rib cage, while a thin pain planted itself in the ribs, causing him to hold back the tears barely.

Cenred realized that he had made a misstep, while the Omega distanced himself, regaining possession of his wrist.

“Sorry, Merl, I...”

“Don’t worry. Arthur always wanted me to eat too, but for other reasons..." the Omega uttered with his eyes planted on the ground, embarrassed.

“Merl, please. I found you again after a long time and I'm not going to get away from you again. As a friend, of course. I don’t expect anything more than that. Are you ok with it?”

Merlin lifted his eyes, meeting the mortified ones of the other. Cenred was really a fine specimen of Alpha: beautiful, intelligent, handsome, a capable doctor ... but he was not Arthur.

“Of course!” He finally answered, "You were a good friend during university, as well as one of the few Alphas that I could stand, and I'm sure you'll be it even now ... just give me a bit of time to recover, ok?”

“Of course, Merl! Here is my telephone number. Call me whenever you need it, ok?”

“Ok... and you say hello to Gana for me, please! She is a great woman.”

“I agree! I'll bring her your greetings!”

The brunet took his phone from his pants pocket and memorized the number of his friend, giving him a ring in turn. Cenred said good-bye with the promise to call him and then, he disappeared into the driveway.

Merlin closed the door behind him, with a turmoil of feelings in his heart. It had pleased him to see Cenred again; yet, something inside of him was playing out of tune, as if there was a latent unexpressed anger, as if there was something wrong that echoed in his mind.

Probably it was because of the Bond the Imprinting had created between him and Arthur. The Bond they would never stabilize. A part of his Omega body and mind still belonged to his Alpha and refused any other person who was not Arthur.

Unfortunately, that would never change for him.

Between them, there was a Soul Bond and it would not be broken until the end of their days. The distance would make them suffer. Perhaps, with time, they would built a life with other people, but that Bond would remain forever. It would be like a thorn in the side that cannot be removed. Like a cut tree, whose roots remain stubborn in the ground. Like a photograph in the more hidden corner of the room that you cannot throw away and cannot stop looking at every time you pass by it… even if you know that the memories of it will hurt...

Unchangeable… Forever.

He wiped a wandering tear, dying on the cheek, before returning to his room.

***

“They are cute together, aren’t they?” Morgana said behind her brother.

Arthur closed his eyes and count until five, not to hit her. A blind rage had taken possession of his whole being and was forcing him to tremble, while the image of Cenred touching his Merlin made his blood pure lava, pushing him to clench his fists to bleed.

Once he had arrived at the house of the brunet, he had not had the courage to take the first step. Waiting in vain to be able to catch a glimpse of him through the window of his room, Arthur had hidden behind the trees of the park facing the house.

He had waited. With his heart in his throat. Feeling him close. Feeling the lack of courage.

He had just wanted to see him, to know if he was okay. Then, he would have gone away.

He did not know how long he had been hidden in the darkness with his nose up, hoping to see him, PERCEIVING HIM without seeing him. He stared insistently at the light coming from the second floor, wincing every time a shadow suggested the movement of the person who occupied the room, wondering stupidly what Merlin was doing, if he was thinking about him, if he had eaten…

Oh God, Stop it, Arthur! It’s over! He is a fucking Omega. Remember it!

Cenred’s presence brought him violently to reality, messing him as soon as he felt the smell of the Alpha, radiating from the other side of the street. When he saw the brown haired man arriving from the nearby alley and heading toward the white door of Merlin’s house, his instincts had stood on the alert and the anger had mounted within him like a stormy sea.

What’s Cenred doing here? Wasn’t he at the restaurant with Gana and the others? What the fuck does that guy have in mind?

Only the icy touch of his sister’s hand had kept him from going across the street to make a massacre. Gana’s presence made him skip a beat, as her steady hand was planted firmly on his muscular chest, with the clear intention to block him.

“What are you doing here, Gana?” Arthur asked sharply, “What’s HE doing here?”

“I have smelled you at the restaurant. You went out when Cenred entered and, since I don’t believe in coincidences, I put two and two together...”

“And why did you bring him here?" Arthur growled.

“He wanted to come and see how Merlin was. You know, he's REALLY worried about his conditions...”

Arthur closed his eyes again, sighing loudly and trying to focus on what was going on at the other side of the street.

The vision of Merlin talking to Cenred choked the breath in his throat. The brunet had lost weight again, but not excessively and this made Arthur breathe a sigh of relief. His hair was longer and it fell heavily on his forehead, almost covering his eyes. He wore peacefully that delicious red sweatshirt, too big for him. It fell sprawling on his slender body, on the white skin ... Arthur adored when he put it on.

Too bad the vision was horribly disfigured by the presence of the other Alpha, with whom Merlin seemed to converse too amiably.

What the fuck is that asshole doing?” The blond hissed, when he saw Cenred taking Merlin’s wrist.

“I would say he is TOUCHING him, Arthur..." Morgana said mischievously, knowing too well she was hitting her brother’s uncovered nerve.

When the Alpha’s right hand rested on the Omega’s cheek, Arthur’s blood went to his brain and he began to hyperventilate, but then, he saw Merlin retracting violently from the touch, looking down. His Alpha pride cheered at the defeat of his rival.

“Cenred will never have him...” the blond exulted, continuing to keep his eyes fixed on the two men.

“What makes you say that?" Gana asked, curious.

“Because he is MINE.” Arthur hissed, resolute.

He is yours?” She asked defiantly, "he is still YOURS even if he is an Omega?”

Arthur swallowed, looking down, defeated.

He WAS mine...”

Morgana took both his shoulders, turning him toward her, planting her emerald eyes in his sky eyes and shaking him strongly.

“NO, Arthur! Merlin is yours. He is your fucking Omega. Go there and take him, Holy God! He loves you. You love him. What is your problem??”

“He is an Omega. Here's the problem. And he lied to me. Here's another problem. Gana, you cannot understand. You can’t ... no one can!”

Morgana's eyes clearly saw the tears, held firmly behind her brother’s blond eyelashes, along with the pain and the anger, ill-concealed in his gestures, as he wriggled away, hands clenching along the tight jeans, disappearing into the shadows of the night, to go and face his demons alone.

The only thing she felt in her heart for her brother was a movement of immense love and especially pity for that battered soul.

She had to do something and quickly...

Approaching the car to accompany Cenred home, she phoned Gwaine, still at the restaurant with Percy.

“Gwy, it’s me. My suspicions were correct: Arthur was here! I need to talk to you urgently. Meet me at my house in an hour. Bring Percy...”

***

At about eleven o'clock p.m., a black Volvo entered the avenue of Villa Pendragon, cleaving the shadows of the night, stopping at the door, where the girl with long black hair was waiting.

Gana acted as host, inviting Gwaine and Percival to sit in the living room, where four packs of ice cream and three tablespoons appeared soon.

The Restricted Council could begin.

“Gwaine, I need your help.” Morgana uttered with authority, "But you have to trust me like never before.”

“You know I trust you, Gana. What do you have in mind?”

“I know you didn’t agree with my decision to make Arthur and Merlin go back together, especially after the latest developments. Yet, I want to give them a chance...”

At these words, the brown haired man stiffened and slammed the jar of apple ice cream (his favorite) on the coffee table in the living room, planting the spoon in it as if to assassinate it. His hazel eyes lifted, meeting those of the Alpha.

“NO, GANA! NO! We have already talked about this. It took me everything I had to prevent Merlin from cutting his veins and he is still not out of danger! I’m not going to bore you by telling you how many antidepressants I had to force down his throat to convince him to keep living even if his Alpha had left and cheated on him…I won’t leave him again at the mercy of that bastard! NO, NO and NO!”

“Gwaine, I know how you feel and I respect you. However, I saw my brother tonight and he's ...torn to say the least. He has been there all the time to watch while Merlin talked to Cenred and he was furious. And he looked like wretch. As I thought, Merlin is not a closed chapter for him. The lies he tells himself are battering him. I know he deserves a punishment and I’m the first to claim he acted like an asshole, but I know one thing for sure: Arthur loves Merlin. He really loves him and I think the feeling is mutual. I know you'd rather see him with Cenred, but he's not THE ONE FOR HIM! And Merlin knows that. Keeping them separate will only make them suffer even more. So, we must make an effort to put Arthur in front of a mirror and make him admit his feelings, even if Merlin is an Omega.”

“Gana, I respect the love you harbor for your brother, but I harbor as much love for Merlin and I CAN’T SEE HIM SUFFER AGAIN just because Arthur wants to play who’s the biggest ass! Moreover, I don’t think Merlin wants to have anything to do with Arthur anymore. Really! He has the right to rebuild his life...”

“They have experienced the Imprinting, Gwaine. They are soulmates who have sought and found each other. Sure, Merlin has the right to make a new life IF HE WANTS, but he may also decide to love Arthur and not to give him up.”

“AH, OF COURSE! They are so soulmates that Arthur has fucked half Oxford in two weeks… let's stop saying nonsenses...”

“Yes, Gwy, he has fucked half Oxford… and yet, tonight, he was at Merlin’s house ... you know as well as I do what despair makes you do. My brother is not one to cut his wrists! But he can do other types of craps in return...”

“Gana, he has cheated on him! For me, this is enough. And for Merlin too!”

“This is why I must talk to him, Gwaine. I have to talk to Merlin. Face to face. However, I cannot and I won’t do it without your permission. It would not be fair to you. I am not asking you to support my ideas with Merlin, but only to assist me. Then, you can decide what to do, depending on what he will answer me. I don’t want to hurt him ... I just want him to fight for what he wants in a way or another!”

Gwaine returned to eat his ice cream with enthusiasm, while Percy smiled behind him, rubbing his back and smiling mischievously to Morgana, as she broke the mental walls of his mate.

She really was a witch.

Gwaine found comfort in the gentle and warm touch of his mate, who helped him relaxing a bit, while he finished the jar of apple ice cream under her emerald eyes.

After finishing the dessert, he took another moment to think.

“All right. Tomorrow, I have the afternoon shift at the restaurant! Tomorrow morning, I will wait for you at our home at ten! I'll be helping you, but I won’t support your thesis… I want you to know that.”

Morgana smiled. She began to eat the mint ice cream resting on the coffee table.

“Deal!” She said, bringing the spoon to her mouth.

“And if Merlin, by pure hypothesis, proves to still be interested in that twit of your brother?”

Morgana looked at him in the eyes, smiling even more.

“I will let him join the Council...”

 

Chapter Text

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,

in secret, between the shadow and the soul....

so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,

so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep...

 P. Neruda

 

Merlin felt his heart tightening in his chest, as if a cold hand had spread in his bowels to touch that so delicate and fragile muscle.

Morgana was before him, gently leaning against the white armchair in front of him; her eyes, as green as the leaves in spring, were firmly chained to his ultramarine blue ones, while digging to read all his little secrets in his soul.

Next to him, Gwaine’s presence was reassuring, as a rock to hold to, while the girl was touching the deepest nerves of his heart, the ones that hurt the most. The ones that were forcing him in front of that mirror, before which he had struggled with his nails and teeth not to look at, in order not to discover the intensity of what he had inside.

The intensity of his love for Arthur.

His Arthur.

His Alpha, whose memory Merlin was burying in a dark hole every day, to forget, to return to live, or at least to try doing it.

After a month of agony, after a month that had seen him slowly beginning to strengthen up the pieces of what was once his heart, she had arrived, his sister, making his world twitch again. Anger bite his stomach and his demons, who he believed he had been able to chain away from him, began again their slow torture.

That morning, she had arrived at Emrys house as a summer wind on a winter day, talking with her heart in hand, explaining, listening and asking. And everything had leaded to him.

To Arthur. Always and only to Arthur.

It had taken all he had to explain to her how he felt, and to hear what Arthur had done in that month of forced separation.

Knowing that the Alpha had suffered too didn’t make him feel better. On the contrary, it had hurt him even more, because he really wanted the happiness of his mate, even if Arthur were to find it away from Merlin.

“What are you asking me to do, Gana?” he finally asked in a faint voice, looking at his hands, clasped in his lap and squirming relentlessly.

“I am only asking you to look honestly inside of yourself, Merlin, and to understand what you want! My brother didn’t have an easy childhood, you know that, but I'm not justifying him, Merlin. I'm not doing it, I swear.” Rising from the chair, she kneeled on his right, taking his hands in hers in a light but decided touch.

“I just want you to tell me whether you love him or not. It’s a simple question. And if in your heart there is nothing left for him, then I will go through that door and I will never talk to you about this anymore...”

Merlin licked his lips, as tears rose to his eyes. Why could he not lie to her? Why could he not lie to himself?

The moment a tear escaped his raven eyelashes, a faint "Yes" escaped his lips.

“How can you ask me this, Gana? He is my Alpha and I am his Omega, whether I like it or not. Yes, I still love him. Yes, I have always loved him and I will love him to the day I die. I don’t want anyone else but him in my life.” The brunet said, wiping his cheek and trying to catch his breath after that confession. “However, I have to face reality, as should you: he does not want me, Gana. HE. DOES. NOT. WANT.ME. I would be an idiot to continue deluding myself, to save something that is not there. I cannot get hurt again. I’m at my limit.”

“Merlin, honey, I am talking to you as a sister, as well as a friend, and I’m only asking you not to give up. My brother loves you. HE REALLY LOVES YOU. He fought to have you, to conquer you when you had rejected him. Now, I begging you, Merlin: do the same for him. Fight for him, for your love… to rip my brother from a miserable life without you. I don’t want you to want his love. I want you to demand it, because it is your right to have it. Take it, Merlin. If you do, the others and I will be at your side in the battle that waits ahead. We will support you in any way...”

Merlin looked at Gwaine, overwhelmed by emotions, in the hope that his words could lit up, where before there was only darkness.

The brown haired man smiled openly at him.

“Whatever you want to do, Merl, I am with you. Always." He finished, laying a warm hand on his thin shoulder, sending him a sense of peace and confidence, as he has always done in the past years.

He had hated Alphas for a long, long time. Then, it had taken an Alpha to mess his life up, to teach him what it meant to love again. And as that Alpha had changed him, saving him from a solitary existence, it was now Merlin’s turn to save Arthur from himself and to give him the strength, the courage and the ability to love him again.

Merlin tightened the hands clasped to his; he had a new light in his eyes and a new fire in his blood.

“I want my Alpha back, Gana." He said resolutely, "I want him back whatever the cost...”

Morgana smiled, warmly embracing him; the smile of a little girl and the heart of a warrior ... it was time to let Merlin Emrys join the Council of the dark plots...

***

Helena was really a beautiful specimen. Tall, blonde, a little doll face, a slender and breathtaking body. In a few words, a perfect Beta. Half Oxford courted her and more than one Alpha had triggered fights to date her, or just to be noticed by her. Helena was what every man wanted, whatever Alpha, Beta or Omega. She was really nice, smart and practical. Perfectly aware of what men wants.

That evening, her blue eyes and the smile on her lips were reserved only to him, as he sat on the other side of the table that they were occupying at the Excalibur; a candle between them and the voices of many other couples around them.

She gestured gracefully as she talked about her curriculum over a beer and fish & chips, pretending not to see the eyes of many men and women in the room, pointed at her. She knew she was beautiful. She knew she was the center of attention and she managed it nonchalantly.

He had bet with someone (he did not remember who) that he would have never been able to get a date with her. In truth, it had taken him less than a week to make her capitulate. A few drinks and some texts and now, she was his steady girlfriend (which meant that he had spent the last four days with her, shagging for most of the time, and he was a GOD when it came to it).

Helena was beautiful and she hide a very good brain under her long platinum blonde hair. She would become a great lawyer. Nothing to envy to an Alpha.

Yet, despite the fact that he was sitting in front of this concentrated of beauty, grace and intelligence, his eyes could not avoid looking at the slim profile of the Omega sitting at the Round Table, along with his former friends and sister.

That damn viper!

M: Artie, tonight we are out with the boys for a beer ... want to join us?

A: No. I'm out with Helena. Maybe I'll join you later. Where are you going?

M: To the Excalibur. We will be all there.

A: I promised her that we would go out alone. I do not know...

When he had entered the pub that evening, hand in hand with Helena, a delicious smell had dulled his senses, sending his memory back to almost a month in the past, when for the first time he had smelled that wonderful essence in all its power.

Hot sun, green trees near clear waters and that sweet smell all around him. Cobalt blue eyes, shining with stars in them; a slim body, carved in alabaster; soft lips, full; black hair, ruffled in the wind and smelling of lavender; a clear smile; the notch of the long, thin neck and those huge ears, which became red as those cheekbones, so sharp that it hurt.

He had sought his eyes, peering in the dim light of the room, finding them immediately.

That smile, those eyes, that smell…Arthur’s heart had gone wild in his chest, as his Alpha pheromones had flown, trying to reach his Omega, finding him sitting on the same seat he had been the first time he had seen him entering the pub months before.

Merlin was smiling at Percy, who was giving him a mock punch on the shoulder, just before looking towards the entrance and planting his eyes in Arthur’s ones, losing his gaze in his, before looking away, embarrassed. At that moment, his smile had disappeared and almost automatically, all the knights turned toward Arthur, nodding their heads in greeting.

Helena had practically dragged him to their table and he COULD NOT take his eyes off Merlin, like a thirsty man in the desert, who sees a water source and does not look away for fear that the object of his desire could disappear.

…Merlin…

Just saying his name in his mind had messed him up.

And from that moment, the most excruciating torture he had ever suffered in his life began.

 

Everything seemed silly, silly, silly.

And Helena, in her damn beauty, perfection and wonder miserably faded in comparison to his Omega. Merlin’s amber smell went straight to his brain, making the most beautiful girl in the pub absolutely dull and insignificant.

The evening was taking an absurd turn.

“Arthur, are you listening to me?” the blonde girl asked testily.

“Yes...I’ll buy you another beer.” He said, getting up and heading quickly toward the bar.

“I'm drinking cider, not beer! Besides, my glass is still full! Arthur!”

He quickly left the complaints of the girl behind. He needed to break away from her for a moment, or maybe more. Since when her voice had begun to get on his nerves?

“Give me something strong, Sam! Doesn’t matter what!” He said to the owner of the pub, nervously rubbing his hands through his hair, trying to stop himself from looking at the Round Table, where Merlin was showing off. He wore a tight black shirt that made his white skin stand out even more, streamlining him more than necessary; stonewashed jeans, ripped at the thighs and that damn white and long neck that lit prohibited desires inside of the Alpha...

Their eyes continue to meet repeatedly, talking and seeking each other, as it had always been, as their instincts wanted, because, despite everything, the sense of belonging was not gone… Never.

Arthur drank the whiskey in one go, looking for a way out.

“So here you are, brother!”

Arthur forced a smile, "Gana ... have I ever told you how much I hate you?”

“And why is that? I have invited you tonight, right? It’s you who is otherwise engaged ... with ... ah yes! Molly? Holly? I don’t remember...”

“You had failed to tell me Merlin would be here as well...”

“I said ‘We will be all there’ and in any case, what difference would it have made? You were not going to come anyway ... or were you?”

“You're unfair! I'm here with Helena and you are throwing Merlin under my nose!”

“Well, brother… You are the fathead idiot! If you had a minimum of intellect in that buggy brain of yours, you would go there to reclaim what is yours... but since intellect seems to have left your mind, go back to your Blondie, while I take care of making Merlin happy in your place...”

“He is not interest in you, Gana! Not in that way, at least ... I'm pretty sure of that!" Arthur ended with a tight smile, asking another short to the bartender with a nod.

“Yes, I'm not the one that will end up in his bed, however... let's say that I‘m supervising it, and you know how much I like supervising, don’t you?” The girl smiled, while savoring her beer and her brother’s suddenly contracted jaw. He was afraid of her dark plots and she knew it.

She sniffed the air in a theatrical manner.

“And here comes who will soon take your place, little brother ... my plan is taking shape!”

As soon as Cenred’s smell pushed his way into Arthur’s nostrils, the blond drank his second short of whiskey, violently slamming the empty glass on the old bar, keeping his eyes straight ahead. His pheromones went crazy because of the presence of the other Alpha so close to his Omega.

Arthur turned to his sister, tense muscles, his jaw clenching as he swallowed, clenching his fists repeatedly in a nervous gesture. Then, he turned up the collar of his adherent blue polo that he was wearing that evening, as to protect himself.

She grinned with delight at seeing him being so in conflict with himself. Therefore, he hurt himself in the attempt to do a dry and credible smile, telling a nonchalant “Have it your way. I do not care what you do or you think to do with Merlin. He and I are no longer together, so I don’t care... and I'm here with Helena, the most beautiful girl in Oxford, whom half the pub is envying me. And most likely, I'll end my night in bed with her so ... good luck with your plans, sister...”

Morgana did not move a muscle.

“You know what amuses me? That I don’t need your permission to do as I please, Arthur...” Morgana hissed, her voice thin, emerald eyes lit with an evil light, while holding the neck of the bottle of beer in front of her. “...and now, I’ll go back to the person who has the eyes of the other half of the pub on him, in case you hadn’t noticed… including yours! An Unmated Omega with Merlin’s beauty is not easy to find in the neighborhood! So, go ahead and fuck your little friend if that's what you want, but remember one thing...” She ended, planting her eyes on him and the forefinger of her right hand on his chest, “...SHE IS NOT MERLIN. She will never have his taste, his smell, his intelligence: she will never be him! And you know that all too well, so go back to What-her-name-is-I’m- platinum- blonde and continue to pretend she is important to you, while I'm going to enjoy the company of your EX-Omega!”  

The grin that spread on her red lips was almost evil, like her eyes that chained Arthur there where he stood, leaving him speechless, before turning on herself and returning to her table.

Mission accomplished!

The blond took a full minute to force himself to breathe again; air trapped in his throat, anger held back under the skin and fingertips itching violently.

Damned witch! DAMNED WITCH!

“Arthur, who the hell was that?” A voice behind him asked. Helena had joined him at the bar to bring him back to their table.

“She is my sister...” The Alpha growled, as if the words were a curse.

“It didn’t seem so." the blonde girl squeaked, "You don’t look anything alike! And anyway, what did she want from you?”

“Nothing, Helena. She just wanted to say hello...” Arthur said, almost hysterically. Fists clenching in the jeans, as he kept looking at the Round Table, where Cenred had taken place near Merlin and Morgana.

“You know Arthur, you seem weird tonight. I wanted to tell you the other day I met with my friend to buy a pair of shoes to put on at the comparative law exam...”

Helena talked and talked and talked, but his concentration was fixed on Cenred. He was laughing, sniffing, touching his Omega, who had stopped seeking Arthur’s eyes. Now, he was devoted his attention to the Alpha close to him.

Merlin was reciprocating.

Merlin was smiling slightly embarrassed, but he didn’t move when the brown haired man touched his hand, or when he encircled his shoulders or when...

Oh Christ, what the hell is he doing?

Cenred gave Arthur a mischievous look, greeting him with a brief nod from afar, as if to say 'look at this, Arthur'. After a moment, he drew Merlin toward him, putting a hungry kiss on his long and thin white neck.

Seeing Merlin startling and smiling embarrassed was the last straw. The Alpha distinctly felt the heart sinking somewhere in the depths of his soul, which wanted revenge. He felt the hairs on his neck standing up, anger mounting in his blood, screaming in every pore.

That is MY OMEGA! MY FUCKING OMEGA!

Before realizing it, he was in front of the Round Table; fists so tight to whiten his knuckles, tense muscles in spasm because of his ill-concealed anger, his heart in his throat, as his stormy eyes were literally incinerating Cenred.

Sensing his intentions, Gwaine and Percy stood up in unison to block his way, while Cenred joined them.

“Arthur, nice to see you! I apologize if I do NOT invite you to join us..." Gwaine defiantly whispered to him.

The blond pulled himself together, while always keeping his eyes on Cenred, who in the meantime had come behind the two boys.

“Oh fuck you, Gwy, I'm not here to talk to you.”

“Well, you're not even here to talk to Merlin. Because I. WOULD. NOT. ALLOW. YOU. TO. After all, you do not GIVE A SHIT about him. Am I right, Mr. I'm-too-busy-fucking-around?”

The rush of pheromones that Arthur gave out was so heavy that Gwaine took an involuntary step back, while Percy held his position.

“Gwy, STOP PROVOKING HIM! Arthur, please...” Percival whispered, in the hope of throwing water on the fire that was spreading.

“Good Evening, Arthur.” Cenred said, cold, pushing Gwaine back and facing the blond, "Can I do ANYTHING for you?”

“I've seen what you're trying to do, ASSHOLE! Apparently, last time I have been too gentle with you! Let’s go outside and solve this once and for all!" Arthur spat, getting closer to his rival.

“And why would I do that?" Cenred asked sharply, coming to an inch from his nose. An explosion of Alpha pheromones saturated the air. You could cut the tension with a knife, “Why are you angry, Arthur? Because I am courting YOUR Omega? Oh yeah, sorry, I have forgotten! Merlin IS NOT YOUR OMEGA! If anything, he will soon be MY Omega. But, you don’t mind, do you? Because, you don’t like Omegas, right? And then, I would not want to ruin your evening: you have an adorable companion tonight; a delicious Beta if my sense of smell serves me right... she suits you, Arthur...you prefer Betas, don’t you?”

The blond clenched his fists more, as Cenred’s words cut into his skin like a thousand of ice blades, making him tremble with rage for the second time in his life.

Because his rival was returning to him his own statements and his own behavior, and he could not retort, because it would be like admitting that he was wrong, making him look even more foolish.

ARTHUR. COULDN’T. ANSWER. BACK.

Clenching his jaw, he sought Merlin’s eyes over Cenred’s shoulders.

The Omega was standing at the other side of the table, held in place by Morgana, who barred his path. The slender and white body, banded by a dark shirt, leaned forward on the table, as if to look for Arthur; the pink mouth was slightly open and he had a shocked expression on his face: fear, anger, worry and something else.

Arthur gasped when he read the only emotion he thought he would never see in those features again.

... LUST…

Merlin’s ultramarine blue eyes were fixed on his. They called him, full of nostalgia, like a subtle and sweet lullaby, sung by the most sublime of the mermaids, that begged him to love him, while his sweet intense and amber smell went to his head, pulling him toward the brunet, shouting his name, asking, even pleading to be taken, claimed, possessed by HIS Alpha.

Feeling that smell again, after a month of abstinence, hurt him more than he had ever thought possible.

He wanted him.

He had never stopped wanting him.

But Cenred was right.

Merlin was an Omega.

And he was NOT INTERESSED IN OMEGAS.

Yet, every damn fiber of his body and his soul shouted aloud Merlin’s name. The proximity of his body and the smell of his skin removed his reason and his Alpha instincts were about to take over forcefully.

Damn Dynamics of the Species!!!

He would make a massacre.

Arthur was ready to hit Cenred, to break free from Percy’s grip, to push Gwaine back, to jump on the Round Table, to leap over his sister, to take Merlin in his arms, tightening him to his chest; then, to sink his teeth at base of his marble neck, depositing a mark, so deep that it’d bled for hours. All the while, he’d take Merlin there on the damn table.

MinemineminemineminemineMINEMINEMINEMINEMERLINMERLINMINEMERLINMINE!!!!

"Arthur, can you explain once and for all what the hell is going on with you tonight?”

Helena’s voice and the touch of her thin and cold hand on his bulging biceps tore him from the fog of pheromones in which he had got lost. It slammed reality to his face: him, standing, three people in front of him and the others behind, watching him as if he was crazy, and everyone ready to protect the Omega, as if they expected a violent reaction from Arthur.

He looked like an idiot...

The blond closed his eyes for a moment, inhaling deeply.

When he opened them again, he looked at the object of his desires for the last time. Merlin seemed confused and alarmed by the presence of the girl next to him.

Arthur smiled sharp and, keeping his eyes fixed on Merlin, he pulled Helena to him in one fluid gesture and sank into her mouth with desire, in front of all the witnesses, without a word.

Sensing Merlin’s smell change, showing his frustration at seeing his Alpha in a so intimate act with another woman, gave Arthur an absurd feeling of omnipotence. His heart stupidly rejoiced like a spoiled child at smelling the note of anger and regret coming from across the round table.

He had won after all.

Breaking away from her lips, Arthur reassured her, “Nothing, darling... I was just talking with my friends and I had not realized it was so late; besides, I've been drinking way too much. You’d have to take care of me, my love... as usual...” He finished, digging those simple words in the bleeding heart of his ex-boyfriend, who began to tremble visibly in anger, biting his lower lip.

Morgana, aware of it, stroked Merlin’s cheek, forcing him to look away from the blond, magnetizing his attention on her. She smiled at him tenderly, taking his right hand in hers, in an attempt to convey calm and determination, gesturing with her lips, "Do not give him the satisfaction! He is an idiot!”

Merlin smiled back weakly.

“Very well, Pendragon. Then, ENJOY YOURSELF and GOOD NIGHT.” Cenred said sharply to him, inviting him unceremoniously to leave, while he returned to his place near Merlin. He suddenly pulled the Omega toward him and hugged him at the waists possessively, “It will SURELY be for me...” He finished contemptuous, sinking his nose into the Omega’s neck.

Arthur clenched his jaw and swallow, before turning around with Helena under his arm, exiting the pub. Outside, he exhaled a deep breath, as if he had been holding his breath for hours, enjoying the sensation of fresh air on his face.

“Arthur, would you tell me what happened in there?" Helena asked, angry.

“None of your business...” The blond answered abruptly, “Let’s go home. I need you and a shower”.

***

As soon as the blond went out of the pub, Merlin collapsed on the chair, like a puppet with no strings.

Unable to move.

Unable to breathe, while everyone clustered around him.

His liquid blue eyes were fixed on the antique wooden table in front of him; Morgana’s hands were on his back, moving in concentric circles to give him comfort, while the girl put a light kiss on his cheek.

He was still shaking.

From pain, frustration, anger.

Cenred had moved away, making way for Gwaine, who started comforting Merlin on the other side.

“Are you all right, Merl? Are you all right?” The brown haired man asked worriedly.

“No! I’m not all right!” Merlin said, upset.

The base of his neck, where Arthur had deposited the bite of the Bond in his dream, hurt like crazy. Yet, there was no sign that cut the white skin. It was all in his mind and in the sensations of a body that remembered something that, in fact, was not there.

That thought hurt him.

More than he thought possible.

“We are with you, Merlin!” Gana continued, stroking his hair gently, "Do not give up! I will make my brother's life a living hell until he gives in! Tonight we scored a nice point! Did you see what he did? It has just taken Cenred approaching you to make Arthur snap! And I have planted a seed of doubt in him! Tonight he will not sleep soundly, I can assure you.”

“Cenred was a God at making him jealous!" Gwaine smiled, amused. "Moreover, he has repeated Arthur’s own speeches about Omegas in his face! And he could not answer back. Soon, he will realize his own idiocy and how much his motives are illogic!”

Merlin looked at Cenred, who was standing there with an open and sweet smile, winking at him. He was really a good friend, as well as a great actor.

The night before, the Restricted Council had organized the evening in detail and Cenred and Merlin had spoken very carefully about the situation. The Omega was grateful for his help, but he did not want any real involvement with him.

“I’m hopeless... I don’t know how to pretend and I'm not used to make someone jealous. I have no malice for these things!” Merlin had explained to his university fellow.

“Well, Merl, lucky for you, I have attended a drama course! I'm a genius at acting! Where you’ll fail, I’ll aid you ... do not worry!” the brown haired man had said, confident.

“Cenred, I... it’s hard to say, but ... I'm afraid to deceive you. Despite Gwy does not agree, I am still emotionally involved with Arthur and I am not... available for others, let’s put it this way! So, every smile, every touch, anything from me will be only in friendship, never for something more ... can you understand that?”

“Merlin, I know that your heart belongs to Arthur. Don’t worry. I'm not going to take by force what is not mine to take, although I know that Gwy sees us well together. However, the idea of making that ASSHOLE jealous is exciting me a lot. So, don’t worry Merl… even if you're a beautiful Omega, I have other plans.... Christ I cannot believe that someone like him can be your brother, Gana...”

“Yes, my dear. I sometimes wonder too, but no more talks. We have an encounter to organize!" Gana said.

And everything had gone pretty much as expected.

What Merlin had not anticipated was the deep sense of belonging that he had felt growing in his womb, when he had felt again the smell of his Alpha; every fiber of his body was seeking him with a hungry desire.

What Merlin had not anticipated was the jealousy and the despair that had spilled in his blood, while observing Arthur sinking into the mouth of another before him, carelessly trampling the ruins of a heart that had reborn from its ashes with difficulty, only to break it even more.

What Merlin had not anticipated was the deep anger that shook his bowels, as he thought that that night it would not be him to warm his Alpha’s body, but someone insignificant.

A shadow between them.

 

Chapter Text

When you cannot breathe

you wonder,

if you still have a soul

or if by chance

you have buried it

under icy leaves

covering the feelings

that you insist

to deny.

-T. Regna-

 

Fuck, I’m such an idiot!

It was night and the hot water of the shower brushed gently his well-turned muscles, worshiping them one by one in the shadows of the bathroom, while he lowered his blond head. His strong forearms leaned forward to hold his weight and both his palms were in contact with the cold tiles, dimly lit by the lights outside the window. He was in the shadows to seek a comfort that he knew would never come.

The evening had been a mess, and his sister had been right once again.

“...go ahead and fuck your little friend if that's what you want, but remember one thing... SHE IS NOT MERLIN.”

“She will never have his taste, his smell, his intelligence: she will never be him!”

Damned witch!

He turned his back to the wall, staring at the faint lights outside the window, immersing himself in the shadows of the room more, finding the ticking of the water drops that were coming down rhythmically on his body almost healing and calming.

He had tried all night to delete those damned words from his head.

After the pub, he had dragged Helena to his quarters in the Campus, where he had taken the girl, stripped her unceremoniously, pushed her on the bed and mounted her like a beast in heat, almost violently, with that angry need that leaves a bitter taste behind.

There was no love in all that.

Only a physical need to vent the frustration that cried in his blood and needed to find an outlet, somehow.

She had not complained. She knew he was a "physical" man and was fine with it. Besides, she was an 'expert' pretty girl and, although she was a Beta, Arthur was not her first Alpha.

Yet, something was wrong.

More than something, actually.

While he was pushing in Helena’s warmth, everything had seemed wrong for the first time. Her breasts too round; her thighs too full; her fingers too thin, digging into his back; her buttocks beneath his fingertips too soft; the tone of her moans had hurt his ears like the screech of a chalk on the blackboard, as he drove into her again and again, holding himself back so not to hurt her.

Every time he had instinctively lowered himself, burying his face in the crook of her neck, the lack of the warm and amber smell that his mind had expected to find had filled him with frustration. When he had looked away, not to see what he had in front of himself, Merlin’s blue eyes appeared before him, filled with pain and resentment, making Arthur feel miserable.

It was all wrong.

Feeling his excitement getting limper at each thrust, he focused on finishing quickly, articulating his own gestures in mechanical movements, without any feeling, accepting her orgasm as a liberation.

He had slipped out of her quickly and without a word, looking at the ceiling for an unspecified amount of time, while she was still gasping, speaking words that were senseless for him, undoubtedly to please him as an Alpha...

…Wrong…

…Wrong…

ALL WRONG!

“I am going to have a shower. I have a test tomorrow, so...”

“I understand, Arthur, I understand. At least, give me the time to get dressed ..." She had said angrily.

He had turned with a tight smile, trying to appear credible, as he laid a kiss on her parted lips, "Sure, love ... take your time." He had whispered, before closing the bathroom door behind him.

Love?!? Jesus! Since when have I become such a good liar?

He had not turned on the light.

He did not want to see.

He had preferred to drown in the shadows around him rather than to face the whole situation for another minute. Everything seemed unreal. Like when you walk on the fine line between dream and reality, not understanding where is your place in the world anymore. As if, you are living the life of someone else, while your soul is locked far away. You can only see yourself move without will nor voice, one day after the other, one minute after another...

 

After what had seemed like endless moments, the sound of the bedroom door, slamming strong, widened his heart, causing him to breathe again.

She was gone.

Why, Christ? WHY are you doing this to me?!

The jet of water wrapped him in a warm embrace, relaxing the still tense muscles. He ran a hand through his wet hair, swallowing and clenching his jaw.

Being near Merlin again had been more destabilizing than he thought. Seeing him again in all his pale beauty, feeling his sweet Omega smell again and the sound of his laughter had put Arthur back to life, allowing him to breathe fresh air again after a lot of time.

Yet, Cenred’s hands, hugging him around the waists, and his lips on the Omega’s white neck had broken him, bringing his deeper instincts out.

Anger, resentment, despair.

He had been about to hit all of them just to push them away from Merlin.

Yet, he was a Prime and he should have been able to control himself with relative ease.

He smiled in dismay, as the voice of his father resonated in his mind, cutting the ticking of the water around him. ‘That’s what Omegas do to you, Arthur... they manipulate you... they make you lose control, trying to force you into the Bond. They are devious Beings, you must never trust them, you must never approach them or allow them to touch you, or it will be too late, before you know it...’

He had sworn to himself to get over him. He had locked his love for Merlin in a cell, deep in a forgotten place of his soul, where that feeling would have die slowly.

He just wanted to know if he was okay, and now he knew.

He was glad to see him happy.

He was glad to see him looking good.

And it should have been enough, right?

NO! Because you are not the one making him happy. You are not the one taking care of him! You are not the one touching him, loving him and comforting him. His smiles are not for you. They are for another, who is courting YOUR Omega, taking care of him, warming him, touching him…

The punch he gave to the wall to stifle the voice of his conscience cracked a tile. His bloody knuckles remained him of how they were when he hit the tree behind Merlin that fateful day, when the truth had come out. Behind the eyelids, he remembered his blue eyes, scared and angry, full of love, despair and desire.

… For him.

Just like that night, his eyes had sought him, wanted him, demanded him, and he had felt those damn feelings on his skin, in his bones, in the depths of his soul.

He had felt everything.

But he had turned him away, humiliated him, rejected him.

He had done what he had to.

He could not be with an Omega; he had said it a thousand of times. It was better this way.

It was damn better this way.

But it also hurt too damn much.

...Merlin...

He opened his eyes and could not stop himself from imagining Merlin, feeling him there with him in that dark room. The hot water brushing his pale skin; the warmth of his slender and white body; his ultramarine eyes turned on by light and desire; his high cheekbones wonderfully red; his parted lips, full and moist; his strong hands that sank in that ink, wet, shiny and vaguely smelling of lavender hair...

Arthur closed his eyes.

Before realizing what he was doing, his hand began to trace its own way from his neck thought the muscles of his chest, lingering on the tense abdominal, to drop lower and lower, where his throbbing sex, hard as stone, stood between the thick blond hair of his groin.

He moaned softly, caressing himself, focusing more on the features of the brunet, trying to remember his smell, his voice, the feel of his body, pliant and soft under his touch, as he had been many times in the brief moments spent together.

That memory, combined with the heat of the water in contact with his erection, made him shudder with pleasure. Suddenly, the hand on his sex was Merlin’s thin, pale and inexperienced one.

He moaned loudly at that vision, at the feeling.

Then, the Omega’s eyes sought his, drowning in them, while he leaned toward him, his rosy, plump, moist and parted lips seeking his in a light chaste touch.

Arthur moaned again, recreating in his mind that taste of that mouth, so unique, so his. Quietly, he asked for more, licking his lower lip, and the brunet, yielding, allowed him access to explore his sweet, hot and humid cave. It gave Arthur a feeling of possession, so hard it went under his skin and reverberated straightly into his Alpha soul.

He found his tongue. He gently fondled it, desiring it, hunting it, sucking it with passion.

They parted only to breath, while the violinist hand of the brunet continued to fondle gently his turgid and swollen sex, stroking slowly.

“Merlin, God...” the blond moaned.

In response, the Omega began to trace a trail of wet kisses on his neck, licking greedily his Adam's apple, while the Alpha swallowed, ripping a series of strangled breaths and delicious moans from him. When his tongue lapped his abs, lingering on his navel, the blond seriously risked to go crazy; his breath caught in his throat, as the hand of the brunet stroked his majestic penis with more determined movements, from the base to the tip, covering it and discovering it every time.

Suddenly, the Omega’s lips left his abs, ripping out a low growl in frustration from him, which was smothered immediately by a strangled groan as soon as the Alpha felt Merlin’s wet and hot tongue coddling his big dewy and tense member; his fleshy lips close around it, sucking lightly.

He found instinctive drowning his hands in Merlin’s hair to guide him toward him. He watched, delighted, the tip of his outstretched cock disappearing between the soft lips of his Omega.

It was too much.

The orgasm that came over him was so intense that, for a moment, the dark world around him became suddenly shining white, filling him with a wonderful feeling of contentment, driving out every thought that was not his and his Omega’s fullness.

He came in waves for a minute, before going flat, the knot at the base of his sex just bloated.

When he opened his eyes, shocked, Merlin was not there.

The feeling of missing and emptiness hit him like a punch in the face, causing him harm, ripping his soul.

Arthur clenched his jaw and looked for the shower gel, quickly washing away the remains of his orgasm from his lower abdomen.

Just the thought of Merlin could make him lose control in a way that overwhelmed him.

Jesus, even the fieriest night of sex with Helena could not hold a candle to what the mere memory of his Omega unleashed inside of him.

He just wanted to have Merlin in his arms, caress him. The Omega would be plaint, soft and warm under his touch, his lithe and inviting body stretching under his fingers, promising his world, submitting to him as his Alpha…

Arthur pressed his palms on his eyelids to prevent tears to leave his eyes. Even if they were tears of rage, he got a grip on himself: an Alpha must never cry… NEVER.

I cannot want you Merlin! I can’t, I can’t, I CANNOT HAVE YOU!

***

It was dark around him.

The room was cold, without any furniture but a large glass covering almost the entire wall before them.

It smelled of disinfectant or something chemical that stung the nostrils.

Only his father’s voice, who was speaking softly with someone at his side, permeated the air around them; perhaps a doctor, he had a white coat ... then, the foreign presence was gone, in the same silent way he had come.

Everything was silent. Uther’s voice resonated clear between the bare walls.

“Arthur, do you know why we are here?”

He slightly shook his blonde head.

“We are here because it is vital you are informed about the facts of life, my son. You know our society is divided into Alphas, Betas and Omegas. They taught you Omegas are the natural mates of Alphas ... in truth, son, there is no biggest lie than this. Omegas are inferior in every way, lacking grace and intelligence, whose sole purpose in life is to get pregnant and give birth to our offspring. It is important and necessary for you, as a Prime Alpha, never to give in to their enticements. The truth is that Omegas induce us constantly to obey to our most primal instincts, but we must not give in. Son, Omegas are abject and treacherous beings.

They will always try to occupy our minds, manipulating us with their body and their damned pheromones, trying to make us lose the control that, of course, we Alphas have. And if we lose control and surrender, they will force us into the Bond, using the only weapon they have: sex. They will try to drag you into a life made of pathetic coaxing, constant crying and demands of attention. In no time, they will depend on you for everything, as poor idiot puppies, to which you will have to dedicate your whole life, castrating yourself for them. They will take away your freedom and rationality, forcing you to follow their hormonal fluxes, overwhelming you with children, pretending unnecessary jealousy, relegating you in a non-life for the rest of your days. They are inferior beings, intellectually and morally. Remember, Arthur: you must avoid the Bond at all costs. These beasts tempt us constantly, using their body as a weapon. They may look beautiful, attractive, it may seem like they care for us and for our feelings, but it’s not the case, Arthur. It’s NEVER the case. They only want to manipulate us and to be kept for the rest of their life, popping out children.”

Suddenly, a light cut through the shadows in front of them, showing a small room beyond the glass.

Smooth and shiny white tiles.

A cot with a mattress on top... grey.

On top of that bed, there was a slender body, white, angular, stark naked in a fetal position; his head sunk between the arms. The only hints of color: a longish brown hair and the red marks left by the handcuffs on his thin wrists.

“You see, son… that is an Omega. An Omega in heat, to be precise. It’s what they do, when they want to be taken, and tamed, when they want to force us into the Bond.” Uther said authoritarian, indicating the poor huddled figure, barely moving and moaning, as if condemned to death.

Arthur watched fascinated the Omega getting up from his poor bed, staggering around the room, looking around confused: it was evident he had been drugged in some way, but Arthur understood that only years later.

He was young.

…very young.

As the Omega walked towards the glass, he had a violent spasm. His hands on his belly, as he closed his eyes. Then, he spread his legs slightly, where a transparent and translucent fluid was leaking profusely.

The Omega’s eyes widened and his breath broke in his throat.

Arthur saw the terror in those eyes, fear and something else that his mind of child still could not understand.

After a moment, he returned where he had come from, moaning. He knelt with little grace on the bed; legs wide open and his hands ran fast to his groin. Tense muscles were beaded with sweat, while he took his hard and turgid sex in hand, starting to pump in urgent and almost desperate gestures. His buttocks rubbed rhythmically back and forth on the mattress, spreading their fluids. His head collapsed back on the shoulders.

“Do you see it, son? Like beasts, they go into heat and emit fluids of a peculiar smell, which serve to attract Alphas, to excite us and to force us to copulate with them...”

Then, a sharp noise. The deadbolt of the door. The hinges squeaking.

And the beast came in.

The Alpha was huge, a single sheaf of tense muscles and virile power; his face contorted into a cruel and predatory sneer; his black eyes injected with desire… even a child could recognize that easily.

He sniffed the air like an animal, immediately getting closer to his prey, which was dumbfounded for a moment, curled up at the base of the cot, his knees to his chest as to protect himself.

“Present yourself, Omega.” The Alpha said, growling low. The gargantuan dewy member was swollen and stretched toward his victim.

The Omega, trembling, bowed his head, crawled forward; his face pressed on the mattress to stifle a groan and his backside up, presenting himself to his tormenter.

The clear liquid drop profusely on his buttocks, while the ogre behind him took his hips with little delicacy and aligned himself.

Arthur will never forget the groan of pain that erupted from the Omega’s throat in the very moment the beast entered in him in one fluid motion.

The bed creaked heavily. The frail and pale figure, still in handcuffs, clutched the railing of the bed, which moved in unison with the Alpha’s brutal thrusts.

Arthur felt sick.

Yet, he could not stop watching as the Alpha heavily dominated the Omega, lifting him like a puppet, scratching him, biting into his back and arms, as he continued to pump furiously inside of him. All rationality gone, just instinct, thrusts and groans, expanded in the air around them, while his victim screamed and screamed again, crying and sobbing at every thrust.

He was a beast.

He growled, while taking the Omega, muttering lowly incoherent phrases, which Arthur’s memory forgot with the years. They were words of domination.

Soon, the white body of the moaning Omega was reduced into a mess. The scratches and the bites were visible everywhere, like the bruises on the hips, where the fingers of the other had sunk too deep, and on the back, where the blood had been sucked by the ogre behind and inside of him.

Between the thighs of the Omega, large streams of blood mingled with the translucent and colorless liquid.

All this lasted not more than ten minutes. Ten minutes of guttural moans, choked cries, sweat and tears. Until the Alpha lifted the Omega, his back against his chest, impaling him on his member with such a violence to make the huge knot (which in the meantime had formed at the base of his penis) enter fully into the rectum of his victim, who was shaking, crying, sobbing in pain and pleasure.

“You are mine, Omega. Only mine! MINE! MERLIN!!!”

Suddenly, the Alpha in the room was Arthur.

The moment he felt his throbbing knot in the tight humid and hot cave that welcomed him, he grabbed the Omega’s raven hair to the root, pulling his head to the right against his shoulder, exposing his long pale neck, studded with cruel red marks and bites. Then, he sank his fangs into the soft skin beneath him.

The metallic taste of blood exploded in his mouth, arousing him even more, as he came profusely in the belly of his Omega in hot long and firm jets.

“Can you feel me, Merlin? Can you feel me? I'm planting my children deeply inside of you. In your belly, that is mine to own, to take, as your body. Mine and mine alone. Soon, you will be delightfully pregnant and round, so huge you won’t be able to move and everyone will see how wonderfully fertile my Omega is.”  He growled low, putting a hand on the belly of his prey, feeling his bulky presence in the body of the other from outside, and feeling his belly swelling, while Arthur’s seed filled his small uterus.

No answer.

It was then that the Alpha lowered his eyes: the blood was still copiously exiting from the gash done by the Bond Bite, flooding his chest and the Omega’s slender shoulders.

His primary instinct forced him to lick the wound, trying to make it heal as soon as possible, by mixing his saliva to the blood of the other, thus completing the Bond.

Yet, the blood did not stop.

The wound was too deep.

The body of the Omega in his arms was suddenly cold under his touch and unnaturally heavy.

Arthur pulled back the Omega’s body as far as possible from himself, as much as the knot that tied them intimately permitted.

Only then, he realized the mess.

The slender and diaphanous body of the brunet laid prone in front of him, completely battered, covered with bites, bruises, blood, scrapes, scratches and saliva. The short trembling fingers, tightened around the handcuffs that still encircled the devastated wrists, were the only proofs that he was barely still alive.

What have I done? FUCK, WHAT HAVE I DONE? Jesus, MERLIN NO! NO! NO!

Unable to bear that sight, Arthur looked away, frantically searching for help for his Omega, something ... BUT THERE WAS NO ONE!

Desperate, he lifted, with more delicacy, the body of the man he loved again, squeezing him to his chest, protective, almost cuddling him, while copious tears flowed on his face, hidden in the Omega’s ink hair, who gave no response. He laid between his arms, as a marionette to which a cruel hand had cut the strings.

…Motionless…

…Lifeless…

The blood continued to flow everywhere.

Arthur's voice came out broken.

“I’m so sorry, Merlin. Oh God What have I done to you? Merlin, please, answer me. I didn’t want to hurt you. I SWEAR I DIDN’T WANT TO...I LOVE YOU...I...OH GOD...GOD...”

He groaned at the massacre just happened, as he felt his heart, his mind, his soul ripping and dying with the man he held in his arms.

He had killed him with his love. 

“He is a beast” Little Arthur said in one breath, trembling behind the glass, looking at HIMSELF and at what he had done to the man he loved, while his father’s powerful hand rested on his shoulder.

“You are right, Arthur! That Omega is just an animal in heat, as those of his species!”

But when Little Arthur met the lost and pain saturated eyes of the Alpha he had become, so dirty in semen, blood and sweat, wrapped around the lifeless and broken body of his own Omega, he realized something important, something that would remain branded in his mind for the rest of his life:

HE WAS THE BEAST.

***

Arthur woke up with a start, his forehead sweating and copious tears rolling down his cheeks. Still halfway between sleep and wakefulness, he sought Merlin’s presence in his bed. When he did not find it, he sighed, relieved. No blood on his lips, no death in his arms.

Oh God!

He jumped out of bed in one fluid motion, heading for the bathroom sink, turning on the light this time, eager to leave the shadows behind of him.

He washed his face, pressing cold palms on his eyes.

It had been a dream.

Once again, THAT dream.

Since he had discovered Merlin’s true nature, the memory of his father and "that experience" came back to haunt him almost every night, so often he was almost afraid to fall asleep.

The blond shook his head on his shoulders.

“I don’t know what to do. WHAT should I do?" He whispered, with his hands through his hair, eyes tightly closed.

His conscience answered him, with the sincere and merciless voice he had as a child.

He is an Omega. You know what you’ll become if you give in.

“I cannot breathe without him. I cannot tolerate a life without him...I love him...”

Then take him. Make him yours and accept the consequences.

“I can’t hurt him!”

You know you will. You know what you will do to him. You know you will destroy him. You have seen it in the past.

“There must be a way to avoid it...”

There is, Arthur: let him go. Don’t become a beast. Please, don’t become a beast...

 

Chapter Text

Please, say no! No! NO!

“Of course we’ll stay to see Star Wars with you! I have never seen it before! Besides, it’s raining heavily, it's cold and it's about time I get to know Artie’s friends better...”

The Alpha closed his blue eyes, desperate, while Helena uttered those few simple words to his sister. He noticed how much those same sentences contained a multitude of things that bothered him:

1) He wanted to stay at home ALONE to give himself time to think. The fact that Helena had arrived without invitation to 'look after him' and 'to make him vent' annoyed him greatly; especially since she was not so important to him to make him want to share his life and his innermost thoughts with her. Her nurse instinct with the damned magic-wand-solving-problems was getting under his skin and not in a positive way.

2) He didn’t want to be near other people in that moment, least of all his sister.

3) He didn’t believe it was time to make Helena meet his friends yet, especially because of the fact they had been dating for less than a week (and he was sure that none of his friends approved of their relationship);

4) How could he have thought to entertain a (any) type of 'serious' relationship with a person who had never seen Star Wars?

5) Together with his friends and sister, of course there will be Merlin as well. And he didn’t want to see Merlin again. It would be best if he didn’t see Merlin again. Especially now his feelings for him are summed up in a tangled mess and his head was in conflict with his heart.

6) If he saw his Omega again with Cenred, he would not be sure of being able to keep his hands to himself.

“Very well then. Be my guest … the others are already in front of our big screen in the living room. Artie, can you help me with the popcorns?”

The blond smiled with little conviction, following his sister to the kitchen. He mentally recited a series of endless curses when, arrived at the ground floor, a sweet and amber smell invaded his nostrils, forcing his heart to beat faster and his eyes to close.

The smell that whispered to him about smiles, black hair and night sky eyes.

The smell still subtly trapped in the weft of a red scarf, jealously hidden under his pillow.

The smell that called to him, drew him, attracted him gently in a hot limbo, interwoven with memories of a distant happiness, and whispered promises of love in the silence of a night full of stars.

Against a pale skin, on which his tongue had written love and shadow poems.

The smell of the man he loved.

His heart clenched in his chest and he sighed, heavier than he really wanted.

When he opened his eyes again, the emerald eyes of his sister were on him, inquiring, but he noticed a flicker of concern. He knew she loved him. He had always known it; as he knew her attitude in the last month was dictated only by the fact that she wanted to see him happy… with Merlin.

Too bad she didn’t realize how deep the gully in which his fears kept him stuck was.

“Are you ok, Artie?” She asked, visibly worried.

“Yes...Everything is fine. Gana, for God's sake, tell me you didn’t invite that coxcomb with fluffy hair...”

“Of course, I've invited him." Gana smiled mischievously, putting the bag of popcorns in the microwave. “He will come later tonight. You know, he is on duty at the hospital today. Why? Is there a problem?”

“You know that Alpha infuriates me! Christ, are you doing it on purpose???!?”

“Who? Me? Come on! The fact is that inviting Merlin at his ex’s house without his current boyfriend did not feel right...”

“Boyfriend?” Arthur said with a faint voice, as he distinctly felt his stomach convulsing repeatedly.

“Yes, boyfriend. There’s clearly attraction between the two of them. Don’t tell me you didn’t notice... But then, why do you care? After all, you have that sweet Beta ... Holly? Elly? I never remember her name...”

“Helena!”

“Ah yes, Helena. What a lovely girl! You seem just made for each other. Yes, yes, I have to apology to you; the more I see the two of you together, the more I understand Merlin was probably the wrong choice for you ..." She continued, lightly moving and gracefully pulling out the pack of popcorns from the microwave and putting another inside. “She really deserves you. She is so intelligent, thoughtful, so fantastically Beta. Everyone loves her, everybody wants her, and everyone had probably had her… but who cares? The most important thing is that she makes you happy and that she supports you when you're down, my little brother!" She finished, pinching his cheek, while the blond clenched his jaw and removed her hand from his face.

“Gana, I love you but stop bullshitting me, otherwise I don’t know what I’ll do to you...”

“But, honey, I’m not bullshitting you. I am very and genuinely happy for you! Of course, the fact that she has no idea what Star Wars is makes me somewhat perplexed ... but in the end, who you take to bed is your problem," She finished, pulling a fake smile on her red lips. "And now, help me carrying the popcorns...”

Arthur grabbed the bowls with little grace, letting his sister precede him in the hall. He paused a moment, staring at the wall before him.

Ok, Arthur. Now, you’ll go into that room and your concentration will be ONLY on Helena and only on her.

You will see Merlin.

You will greet him politely and you’ll sit on the couch next to your girlfriend. You’ll do so. You have to forget about the Omega and your attraction for him.

A brief look.

A brief nod and then, THAT’S IT.

Then, he stepped into the room.

It was the end.

When his eyes met Merlin’s, he realized that all his good intentions would go down the drain, from the first to the last one, in a matter of seconds.

He didn’t hear the greetings of his friends.

He didn’t hear Helena asking him to sit next to her.

He didn’t notice the smirk that Morgana was hiding behind her thin fingers.

The moment he saw him, he knew he was lost more than he had ever admitted to be, giving at the word "need" a new meaning, deeply full of Merlin.

His raven hair fell ruffled down on his ears and eyes. They were of a blue so deep to make you drown in them. His rosy fleshy and parted lips seemed to speak directly to his brain, demanding attention, reminding him the softness of their touch and the sweetness of their flavor. Then that neck ... white, thin, very long, lost in a blue sweater with the 'V' neck, at least three sizes bigger than it should be, leaving his collarbone exposed, which begged to be bitten. He sat in the armchair by the window, next to the couch, curled; thin but muscular legs were wrapped in jeans, torn in the right places, and were close to his chest, as to protect himself. A cloud of delicious pheromones, that reached Arthur immediately, surrounded him, asking, longing, pleading and begging.

‘Take me’...

***

Merlin felt him before seeing him.

He clearly perceived the blond’s pheromones spreading in the room, reaching him and trying to impress themselves on him, to claim him, as they always had done every single time their bodies had come close to each other.

He was standing at the doorstep and the brunet felt distinctly his heart falling in his stomach as soon as he laid his eyes on Arthur.

A pastel blue sweater and a pair of dark jeans were enough to bring out fully the leap muscles of the Alpha. His blonde hair was disheveled slightly and was worshiped that beautiful face of his; strong jaw slightly contracted; eyes, clear as the water of a lake, completely lost in his; his full lips, slightly worried, showed the typical expression he had when he was lost in his thoughts. His Adam's apple towered, while the blond swallowed.

Merlin had missed him as the air.

His smell was so intense, strong and musky that Merlin lost lucidity for a moment, while he felt him creeping under his skin, overbearing, imposing and dominant as ever.

There were just the two of them.

Like Always.

A month of separation, pain, deprivation and exasperation hovered between them, like an elephant in the room, but it didn’t matter in that moment.

That moment in which souls touched each other in silence.

When Helena’s hand pulled the blond to the couch, making him sit next to her, Merlin's stomach clenched and he felt almost sick.

He shouldn’t think about it.

The night before, everyone was seated at the Council. For Merlin, sitting at the round table had felt almost unreal and he still could not comprehend how his life and his meetings with Arthur had been supervised and sometimes heavily controlled.

He had been outraged at first.

Then, the smiles of the knights and a particularly warm embrace of his roommate had made him understand that everything they had done was for a good purpose and that everyone had shamelessly cheered for the two of them since the first moment.

Morgana was a natural leader: over a beer and abundant fries, she had exposed her plan to the bystanders. “Gentlemen, tomorrow we will launch our second attack on that hard- head of my brother. He didn’t know what to do just by seeing Merlin with Cenred few nights ago. When I tried to talk to him the next day, he closed like a clam and isolated himself. With a little coaxing, I managed to talk to Helena, introducing myself as Arthur’s sister. Over a cup of coffee, I pretended to be very concerned about Arthur, making her believe that, as his girlfriend, only she could help him in this difficult time and she ... oh Christ she made such a face… she took my hands in hers and said 'Don’t worry, Morgana, I'll take care of your brother!' That girl believes herself Candy Candy… if there is one thing my brother hates is who has the Red Cross nurse syndrome and those who stand in his way. Eventually, Arthur will rethink about their relationship, you'll see. Pretending to be relieved, I then revealed to her that Arthur will be at home tomorrow and that going to him would be a good idea. Obviously, I made her promise to never reveal to Arthur that behind all this there was his loving worried sister!” She had finished, laughing in her sleeve, while Merlin had been shocked, thinking about everything this demon dressed as an angel had just revealed.

“Good, Gana!” Percy had exclaimed, tightening Gwy around the waists, possessive, "I have never liked that girl, but Artie didn’t listened to me when I told him”

“You're right, Percy! She shows off too much and uses Arthur almost like a nice little dog to show around! You should see how she poses in university..." Mordred had added from beyond the table, before gulping down a handful of chips.

“Yes, yes, I don’t like her either, but we need her for our purposes: Arthur must understand the difference between our Merlin ... and all the people who are not Merlin!” She had finished, smiling and starting to play with a lock of hair. She had turned toward the brunet, “And you, Merlin… tomorrow you will have to be strong, to grow a pair and to make yourself desirable. Remember that deep down my brother loves you and although he hides behind his foolish Alpha pride, pretending he does not care, in truth, every time he sees you and cannot touch you, he suffers! So watch out! No yielding. That fathead must clearly understand that:

1-      You are an Omega and he has to accept you as such;

2-      You are not available for anything that is not a more than serious relationship;

3-      You are not willing to share him with anyone else; otherwise, you can do very well without him!

Merlin, I know I'm asking you a lot, but if you are not firm on your intentions, Arthur will never abandon his positions. Although it will cost you; although it will not be easy; even if you have to suffer and see him suffer… DON’T GIVE IN!”

“Gana, I don’t know how to be desirable ... you know that I ... I don’t even know where to start! I have no malice for these things...”

She had put a warm and subtle hand on his cheek, gently stroking his cheekbone, smiling sweetly.

“Thankfully, Merl, you don’t need to do anything. Your beauty shines through your openness. Be yourself and my brother won’t be able to resist you. He hates falsehood and made-up attitudes. Your smell is delicious since you stop taking the suppressors and it will drive him crazy. He even keeps your red scarf as a relic under the pillow to smell it occasionally.  I am sure Arthur’s fear that someone else would come close to you is more than real ... and I count on it, Merlin. Remember: Be proud of who you are and don’t be afraid to demand what you want. At any cost!”

“I'll try my best, Gana, but if he’s too close to me, I don’t know if I will be able to resist him”

“Sweetie, we have tried the easy way and it didn’t work. Now, we have to use the hard way: we have to shake him and the only one who can do it is you. If you give in, if he understands you want him back, he’ll think he can have you whenever he wants and never change his attitude: he will lock himself in the limbo of uncertainty he continues to live in and will never Bond with you seriously. We need to get him out of the den at any cost, even if we have to use a stick!”

“And if that doesn’t work, I can always take the stick and hit him in the head with it ... to wake his brain up!" Gwaine had interjected, serious, causing the laughter of all the Knights.

Let’s go to war

Therefore, here they were, next to each other, and a platinum blonde hair girl to divide them.

So near, yet so far.

While Luke Skywalker was playing Princess Leia’s message, projected by the memory of C3P8, Merlin forced himself not to look in the blond’s direction, despite distinctly feeling his gaze burning him.

When Obi-Wan Kenobi explained to the young Jedi what the Force was, Merlin knew he would need a lot of it to continue to hold his nerves, while the pheromones of the Alpha crashed on him, slowly and steadily, clouding his mind.

Thank goodness, he was a lover of the first trilogy and soon, he forced himself to ignore the constant and stupid questions Helena asked minute by minute, such as: “How can they understand what the hairy one is saying? They seem just screams to me...”, or “What kind of princess would have two donuts on her ears instead of hair?”, or “Why does the dressed in black guy wear a mask? I don’t think he’s breathing well...”

But it was when the blonde girl naturally asked "when does Captain Kirk make an appearance? And the one with the pointy ears?", that things became too much. The shocked looks abounded and Arthur's jaw was so contracted you could hear the gnashing of the teeth ... Morgana threw a significant look at Merlin: Candy Candy had messed up way too much this time!!!

After 125 minutes of passion and inappropriate comments to say at least, the knights decided to take a little break, before starting "The Empire Strikes Back".

Merlin vanished upstairs, where Morgana had indicated their private bathroom, as the blonde girl had occupied the one downstairs for more than ten minutes, debuting with a cryptic: "I'm going to freshen up...”

As Merlin walked down the long hallway to the loo, he caught the smell of a strong fragrance, musky, dominant, proof of the strength of his owner: it came from the open door to his right.

He didn’t need someone to tell him it was Arthur’s room: he just knew it!

As if his feet had their own mind, Merlin found himself inside a large and well decorated room, in which everything was impregnated with the smell of his Alpha. The books he had touched; the chair he had sat on; the carpet; the pillows and the sheets, where he slept, probably thinking about him, dreaming with him.

His surroundings were lit by the wonderful light of a late afternoon sun, whose rays worshiped the huge four-poster bed, made of old wood and richly inlaid, adorned with scarlet covers and with the symbol of a golden dragon, finely quilted on them: the Pendragon family crest.

Before noticing what he was doing, his body acted on instinct and he found himself languidly lying on his Alpha’s bed. Thinking about Arthur lying on the bed, his scent all over, lit the fire inside of Merlin. The distance that separated them only five minutes before, forcing the brunet not to turn even a glance to the object of his desires, was suddenly zeroed and Merlin was invaded by the overbearing presence of the Alpha.

He rubbed himself among the red sheets, trying to imprint Arthur to the bones inside of him. It all seemed so damn right and perfect.

Morgana's voice broke in his mind ... her words from the night before...

“...your smell is so delicious... it will drive home crazy...”

“...he even keeps your red scarf as a relic under the pillow...”

Curious to find out the truth in those words, Merlin reached under the white pillow and his slender fingers tightened around a soft long red scarf, which he pulled carefully out of its hiding place, bringing it immediately to his face.

It was really his. Gana had not lied.

It was clear Arthur had used it more than once, because Merlin could clearly perceive the smell of the Alpha in the fabric, joined to his own. Together the two essences softly whispered of love, perfection and destiny. Tightening that delicate piece of cloth to his chest and against his own skin came natural to him.

A voice roused him from that heaven on earth: Gwaine was calling him from downstairs, and he, a little embarrassed, put his scarf back in its place. He took a moment to sort the slightly rumpled sheets and then, he went flying out of the room, blushing.

Putting on the mask of indifference was the hardest thing he had ever done.

***

Merlin could not hold back a dejected grin, when during the next 127 minutes of 'The Empire Strikes Back' Helena’s questions were like, “the little green one has pointed ears. Is he a Martian, right?”, or “Is Banderas the one with the curly mustache? And what kind of name is Lando?”, or “Oh what a shame, I don’t think Luke has taken well that the guy in black is his father ... shouldn’t he be happy to have found part of his family? So, who were those dressed in white, who had raised him in the igloo in the desert? I have not figured out yet, why there were igloos in the desert...”

At that point, the murderous instincts of the merry company were no longer so secret …

 

It was when Han Solo was imprisoned in the carbonite that Gana gently asked Merlin to go and look in the fridge for the pitcher of lemonade she had previously prepared. Without a word (and especially without looking at Arthur and his young 'companion', smeared on him), the Omega went to the kitchen. He opened the tap water, washing his wrists and face in a vain attempt to shake Arthur’s presence away from under his skin.

Opening the fridge, he pulled out a large jar filled with a clear liquid. There must have been at least three liters! Gana surely knew how to do things big.

Merlin put the pitcher on the nearest shelf and turned to take the glasses.

A second later, someone lifted him up and shoved him strongly against the fridge door. While Merlin’s heart jumped into his throat in fear, he felt the touch of hot and overbearing lips taking possession of his own in a violent and needy kiss, full of dark desire.

Two lips whose touch he had dreamed and longed for too many times in the past month and a half.

… his...

…Arthur...

When he tried to pull away, the blond stopped him, crushing him against the fridge; his muscular and warm body perfectly adherent to his thin and captive one. Arthur’s strong hands encircling his face and his fingers digging into his ebony hair, possessive, gave Merlin no escape route. His pheromones drew themselves on his body, entering in his skin, branding his Alpha’s name in his soul.

Merlin moaned loud and Arthur moaned needy.

He licked his lower lip, biting passionately, asking a dumb access to something more, while his Omega instinct shuddered with joy and required him to submit, recognizing the touch of the one to whom he belonged.

And he gave in.

As soon as the brunet opened his lips, the Alpha sank impetuous in his mouth, immediately restoring his lost dominion, imposing and seeking an exhausting and exulting need. When he found the Omega’s tongue, he started a sweet duel with it.

Merlin was overwhelmed, amazed and incredulous: Arthur was not merely kissing him ... Christ, he was possessing him.

In that so intimate contact, Arthur was giving everything he had: body, soul, heart. As if his very life depended on that single kiss. As if to make Merlin understand without words how much he had wanted and desired him. How much despair he had felt seeing him with another, in not being able to touch and kiss him. Unable to share every beat of life with him. How much all this was costing him...

Then, there was anger.

Then, there was pain.

Then, there were the torn shreds of an Alpha’s pride that revealed a man with a child's heart.

A child with a heart that had been broken many years before.

Then, something dark and incomprehensible ... terrible.

Then, fear... FEAR and rejection. Rejection that came from the fear itself.

The images and the feelings passed from Arthur’s mind to Merlin’s, who was reading him like an open book...

With an incredible effort, Merlin broke the contact and both resumed breathing, foreheads touching, the breaths stolen from each other, eye to eye. Despite every single fucking fiber of Merlin’s body asked, shouted to restore immediately the contact with his Alpha, the brunet tried to regain control of his mind.

“Merlin...God… how much I have missed you...” Arthur said, depositing those words directly in Merlin’s heart, filling him with a dark joy.

The heat of Arthur’s broad chest, his strong and firm presence, his wonderful smell made Merlin feel protected, cared for, safe ... at home after a long time.

Tears stung his eyes, but the words remained stuck in his throat in that moment of absolute perfection.

“Love, can you bring me water too besides the handkerchiefs, please?”

At the sound of that voice, both of them closed their eyes and sighed loudly.

Suddenly, reality came to them as a punch in the stomach, pulling them fiercely away from the gold limbo in which they had fallen for a moment.

When Arthur opened his eyes again, Merlin’s expression was a mask of ice, his jaw and lips tighten in a taut line.

You have to be strong, Merlin.

Grow a pair!

“Arthur!” the brunet began, voice still shaky, but damn serious, "You cannot ... you cannot do this to me... you cannot tell me to get out of your life and then, kissing me as if nothing had happened...”

The Alpha took a moment, looking down, reflective, and then, he replanted his eyes on Merlin.

Jesus, Merlin, is it not obvious how I feel about you? Don’t you get it?!”

“No, Arthur, I’m sorry but I don’t get it! One day you tell me you love me, the next one you send me away because of my nature. You have broken my heart, you have cheated on me…you have not even bothered to ask if I was alive or dead. Then, as soon as I try to start a new life, you take me to one side and kiss me... and you dare to ask me if it is obvious how you feel about me? NO! It’s not obvious, Arthur! Can you give me an explanation?”

“I want you, Merlin… I have never stopped wanting you...” Arthur roared, burying his nose in his neck, licking obsessively and transforming Merlin’s knees in jelly.

Morgana’s words recurred powerfully in Merlin’s head, warning him...

“...if you are not firm on your intentions, Arthur will never abandon his positions. Although it will cost you; although it will not be easy; even if you have to suffer and see him suffer… DON’T GIVE IN!”

“You are an Omega and he has to accept you as such”

“You are not available for anything that is not a more than serious relationship”

 “You are not willing to share him with anyone else, otherwise you can do very well without him!”

Merlin sighed loudly, hurting himself to resume control of himself and forcing himself to pull out all the pride he had.

“Do you want me, Arthur? Do you want me, even if I’m an Omega? Are you ready to engage yourself in a stable and serious relationship with me, to create the Bond and to live your life with me and for me, together to the end of your days? Are you willing to go out there and throw Helena out of your life on the spot? To give up anyone else for me? Because if you don’t have the guts to do it and to do it with no regrets, then, please, don’t touch me, don’t kiss me, don’t look for me. I want this and I honestly don’t think you're ready or mature enough to give me what I want!”

Arthur's jaw tensed and the Alpha stepped back, pointing a finger on Merlin’s chest. “You still love me, Merlin. I know it! I feel it! You want me like I want you!”

“Yes, Arthur, I want you! I would be stupid to deny it. However, I also want a man who is not afraid of my NATURE, but that accepts it, along with all the consequences that this entails. I want my Alpha to be proud to have an Omega like me by his side and to love me without any hesitation or fear or ... Only God knows what!! And do you know what the funny thing is? That YOU made me realize what I really want. I hated Alphas. However, you made me realize, even if for a brief moment, that I was wrong to think you were all beasts without soul or brain. You made me realize what it means to be loved. Now, I don’t want to deny it anymore. You made me grow up, Arthur. And now, I know what I want.”

“And what you want is that dude with fluffy hair? PLEASE! You are hiding yourself behind these beautiful words, throwing Cenred under my nose… but inside, you know he is not ME!”

“AS HELENA IS NOT ME! Try to kiss as you have just kissed me!”

“At least she doesn’t need to lie to me, pretending to be what she is not!”

“Ah, I see! You desire me as a person, but you hate me as an Omega! You don’t want to be serious with me because I’m an Omega, but at the same time you don’t want me to have a life with anyone else, because, fuck, no one is like Arthur Pendragon, the one and only! Do me a favour, Arthur: GROW UP! Try to find out what you really want from your life and from me…and above all, as long as you keep fucking with whoever has a pulse, don’t try to touch me ever again! You have already hurt me too much!”

It was then that the blond took him by the hair and pulled him toward him in an abrupt and violent gesture, forcing Merlin to kiss him. His Alpha pheromones went crazy all around, exuding a blind rage.

Arthur roared low, “YOU-ARE-MINE”

When a slap struck on his cheek, the blond could scarcely believe it.

Merlin had just slapped him.

“I TOLD YOU NOT TO TOUCH ME, ARTHUR.”

In that moment, it was as if the Alpha’s eyes opened for the first time in his life. Merlin, an Omega who dared to oppose the will of an Alpha, stood there before him; blue eyes bright with anger, veiled by despair and a repressed desire, clearly perceived in his smell; his body shaken by violent tremors.

That gesture had cost a lot to Merlin and Arthur understood only in that moment, when he realized he had hurt his ex-boyfriend in every possible way.

He had been so taken by himself, by his feelings and his fears against Omegas to forget the deep essence of this wonderful boy. Merlin had a strong character, a brilliant mind and was never afraid of Arthur or his opinions. Above all, Merlin had the guts to stand up to him since the first time they met.

And this was what had hit Arthur that night, at the Excalibur. This was what had prompted him to fall in love with Merlin.

Yet, when he had discovered his nature, Arthur was no longer able to see him as anything but an Omega, with all the consequences.

Then, he had taken Merlin for granted. As he had taken for granted the fact that, if he had ever decided to get close to the Omega again, Merlin would have given in immediately, kneeling at Arthur’s feet like a good Omega, grateful for a second chance.

…Until now.

“Merlin, do you need help?” Morgana's voice tore the Alpha from his thoughts. When he turned, his sister stood limply, leaning against the kitchen doorway.

“Yes, Gana, I can’t find the glasses...please, I’ll leave it to you!” The brunet finished, slipping away from the grasp of the blond, taking the pitcher of lemonade and heading to the living room quickly.

Arthur started to follow him but Morgana got in his way, blocking him with a smirk on her thin lips.

There was no need for words. Not between the two of them.

Chapter Text

I would like to be the shadow of the night

to hide you in my silence

And to keep you safe

soothing you

In the thin fabric

Of my dark mantle

  Hugging you in wind and stars

To whisper in your heart

Those ancient words

  Of soul and shadow

I have never told you.

E.R.

 

Arthur was lying limply among the red covers of his bed, Merlin’s scarf around his neck; his scent was now stronger and more intense than before...

He had seen him.

That afternoon, he had followed the brunet upstairs; hiding behind the corner of the hallway, he had observed him entering his room. With his heart in his throat, he had seen him lying down on his bed, smelling his own scarf. Arthur had had to rely on all his self-control not to get in, cover Merlin with his body and possess him there where he was.

More than anything else, this is what had told him Merlin was pretending indifference; that in truth, beneath that cold mask, he was concealing an infinite ocean of emotions, who had Arthur as the only common denominator.

That simple vision had shocked him, widening his heart and giving him the blind belief that Merlin would have come back to him if only Arthur had wanted it.

That Merlin was his as he had always been.

He had been wrong.

Once more, he had been wrong.

But it had been Cenred to give him the hardest lesson.

When he had arrived, he had taken Merlin to one side to make sure he was okay, probably smelling the Omega’s discomfort. Instead of giving him a kiss to greet him, he had taken his right hand and brought it to his lips, giving him a meaningful look and placing a light kiss on it.

He remembered he had also done it at the pub a few nights before. Probably not to embarrass him or to respect the Omega’s will. 

Cenred had not imposed on Merlin as Arthur had always done more or less. Cenred had surrounded him with affection and tenderness without being overly invasive… at least, not without his permission. Well… sometimes he had kissed him on the neck and hold him in a possessive way, but it was clear he had done it more than anything to 'mark his territory' when Arthur was watching his Omega, which meant too often.

All through dinner, Cenred had covered Merlin with attentions. He had cut the pizza for him, filled his glass, laughed with him and assured him. He had caressed his wrist and twisted their hands, always smiling ... constantly ... taking care of him as an Alpha should take care of an Omega... teaching Arthur what HE should have done with that splendid creature that was Merlin.

What he should have done and he had never done.

All the time, the blond had thought about himself and about his own personal gratification... while Arthur had placed himself at the center of their relationship, Cenred seemed Merlincentric: every gesture, look, word when together had seemed a love dedication to the Omega, creating an incredible intimacy, when someone observed them.

And he had been the one observing them.

He had been the one put aside.

He had been the one that was supposed to shake that subtle hand, kiss that snowy neck, breath in the smell of his skin, bask in his smiles and die, while savoring the taste of those lips.

He…not Cenred.

And that thought hurt him more than a thousand of stabs in the heart.

He loved someone he could not have.

In the darkness, he squeezed the red scarf more, calling him, while falling asleep. At least in his dreams, Merlin could still be his, as he was a long time ago...

…Merlin…

…Merlin...

Even wrapped in the coils of the night shadows, Arthur could easily draw Merlin’s figure, lying on the bed by the window, watching the stars. The figure was frail, thin. However, that wonderful porcelain skin stood out amazingly under the gaze of the moon, which was peeking from the blue clouds against the black sky, worshiping his body and painting it in an almost ethereal light.

It was a wonderful vision and Arthur felt the breath in his lungs failing him: his sweet intense smell, everywhere...

He took a step toward him.

It was then that Merlin seemed to notice his presence. He moved slightly and gracefully, sitting up on the bed and waiting without a word, until Arthur joined him, sitting before him.

The world ceased to exist, while the night cradled them in its silence and the moon was the only witness of those never uttered words.

The hearts beat in unison.

The souls spoke to each other.

As it always was between them.

Arthur sat on the bed next to him, taking his white hand, caressing it gently, opening his palm, before taking it to his lips and placing a kiss on it, which forced slight moan out of Merlin, as a thrill born and died under his skin.

“This is not the real you..." The brunet whispered, looking into his eyes.

Arthur slightly smiled.

“You're absolutely right..." He whispered back.

Getting on his knees, he came up to Merlin’s face, stroking a cheekbone. He hold back to ask a dumb permission, remembering what he had wanted to say that afternoon, when Merlin had slapped him. He wanted to act with the utmost respect of his Omega in mind.

Merlin stood there for a moment. Arthur’s hot breath intoxicating his face, the vivid throbbing of his body so close, his strong and musky smell imprinting on him. He looked down on the red and full lips of the Alpha. Then, he closed them, leaning slightly toward him and completing the movement started by the other. He pressed his mouth on his, giving him a small chaste kiss.

Delighted by that light touch that seemed to have turned on every fiber of his body, Arthur timidly licked the brunet’s lower lip once… twice… with the tip of his tongue, biting lightly.

Everything ended too quickly.

Merlin swallowed hard, while Arthur pulled away slightly. His blue eyes were in contrast between desire and torment, as they ran on Merlin’s face, waiting for a signal from him… not wanting to give in to his domination instincts, respecting Merlin, as he should.

Arthur watched the brunet licking his lips, cheeks reddened and his heart beating so strong to be clearly audible in the silence between them. Then, his wet mouth opened to form a whispered word: "Again”

At that vision, Arthur groaned heavily, losing the fight with himself to remain rational and leaned back on him. He felt Merlin’s light fingers resting on his chest and clinging to his shirt. Arthur raised a hand to recline the nape of the Omega, the other hand under his chin, as he brought his mouth to touch gently the parted rosy lips that were waiting for him.

His kisses were so mild, so full of love and respect; gentle as the touch of a brush on the canvas.

Merlin was genuinely surprised: he could feel Arthur’s frenzy from the way his heart was beating in his chest, from the transparent tension shouted by his muscles. However, he was holding back, uncertain, fearful.

Where was his impetuous Alpha?

Merlin groaned, shyly flicking his tongue on Arthur’s upper lip reassuringly, expressing his desire, before sucking in turn his lower lip.

Oh God, he was dying on those lips. And it was such a good feeling.

Arthur returned the touch immediately, tilting his head, changing the angle of their kiss, opening his mouth, inviting Merlin to take control of the situation. He accepted the invitation in silence, slipping his tongue in the Alpha’s mouth.

The kiss became soon desperate, frantic, hungry, burning and so painfully sweet, full of the purest desire; one lost in the flavor of the other.

Merlin felt the soft blankets against his back, while Arthur covered him with his body, resting him on the covers, crushing him with his weight, pressing his hot and hard arousal on Merlin’s abdomen, eager for attention under the fabric of the tight pants.

God, how much he had missed all this.

Their kiss became deeper. Finally, the touch of Arthur’s mouth and tongue was confident and rude again, as he possessed Merlin’s mouth with lust, in a natural and wonderful gesture, so damn perfect and exciting.

And this time the brunet was not less so. Merlin couldn’t have enough. He found himself demanding more and more, sinking into Arthur’s mouth as a man dying of thirst. He went towards him with his whole body and began to move to the rhythm of the Alpha on top of him, also already excited, tense and ready.

More, Merlin thought, Oh God, I need more!

The Omega moved his fingers from Arthur’s throbbing chest and encircled his waist first. Then, they designed his back muscles, insinuating without hesitation under the elastic of his boxers, alighting on his muscled and perfect buttocks, pulling the Alpha against him even more.

The moan that Arthur let out on his lips was something so pornographic that Merlin was afraid he would come just by hearing him. He enjoyed the enveloping warmth of the Alpha’s body through the thin fabric separating them. They were virtually pushing against one another in unambiguous movements, trying to penetrate each other to become one, more than they already were, sharing everything, EVERYTHING.

This belonging was pure and simple. It was like coming back home after a long, long time.

It was a realization that made his blood rush to his head, refilling his heart with an unknown joy. Merlin groaned low, giving a sound to his thoughts, as Arthur’s hands wandered under his jersey, collecting more skin as possible, exploring everywhere.

Merlin pulled away from his mouth for air, right in the moment when the Alpha made their erections touch one other, pressing heavily on him, sending him pure fire in the spine.

“Arthur...”

The sound that came out of his mouth was drenched in desire. Yet, the blond stopped. He saw the Alpha’s confused blue eyes crumbling with sudden alarm. Then, Arthur got up from him, breaking the contact of their bodies, pushing away from Merlin, sitting down again on the bed, covering his arousal with his shirt as much as he could, turning away, highly embarrassed.

Merlin recovered. He sat in turn near the Alpha, taking his hand and lacing his long and thin fingers with the strongest and most robust ones of his mate, as to want to reassure him.

Then, they looked at each other, losing themselves in the other’s eyes in a moment just theirs.

Both of them had their eyes shining with tears, wet and full of words and stars.

“This is the real you ..." Merlin said with a smile.

“Sorry, I didn’t want to disrespect you or to force myself on you or .... God, how much I have missed you...” The blond admitted, still rocking Merlin’s hand in his, "I could not breathe without you...”

Merlin felt his heart melting in his chest. He had never seen him so open and vulnerable, not even when he had declared his love for Merlin the first time...

“Arthur, I’m sorry...” Merlin began, placing a hand on the cheek of the blonde, who immediately put his own over it, pressing it more on his face.

“No.” the Alpha interrupted him. "No, it is me who’s sorry. I'm sorry for what I have done. There is no a day I don’t regret how things went. I have been a selfish asshole and I swear I love you, Merlin. My life is nothing without you and every time I see you with ... Oh Christ! I can’t ... this is too much...” He finished with his breath strangled in his throat.

He began to kiss the palm of the brunet, as if it was a sacred thing, drowning the words in an ocean of regrets.

Merlin had his heart in his throat. He distinctly felt it throbbing under his Adam's apple, so strong that he could die in that moment and not mind it.

Arthur loved him.

HE LOVED HIM.

He didn’t notice the tears of joy slipping on his cheekbone.

Never mind that the blond thought it was all a dream, because in that dream, he was telling him the whole truth. He was giving Merlin the keys of his soul… it was the only thing that mattered.

Arthur had sought him, had come to him, not to possess or to impose himself, but to apologize and to declare himself; respecting him for the first time and putting Merlin above his physical needs, his lies… above everything.

Now Merlin had to be strong enough for the both of them.

Merlin squeezed Arthur’s hand and took all the courage he had. His voice as steady as possible, yet sweet, not to break the delicate balance that they had created.

“Arthur, listen to me... I need to know the truth once and for all. If you really love me as you say, why are you pushing me away? Why are you dating Helena? Why do you enjoy watching me suffer? This is not love...”

“No, Merlin! No! Pushing you away is the last thing I want, but I have to, I MUST!” His voice almost choked, as he sank his cheek more in Merlin’s palm, demanding reassurances.

When his sky eyes returned on him, they were shiny and immensely sad.

“I can’t have you, Merlin. And Helena… well ... she is nothing to me. When we broke up, when I discovered your nature, something broke inside of me hopelessly. I think it was my heart. Jesus, you don’t know what kind of hell it was. You were sick, but I was dead inside. And you don’t know how many times I stopped in front of your house just to be able to see you from the window, to see if you were okay...” He looked down, “I tried to get away from you, to take back my heart, to replace you with anyone else… but it was too late.  All roads lead me ALWAYS to you ... and this is the truth, which I have to live with for the rest of my life… because I will love you for the rest of my life, Merlin. Although you may not be close to me, you'll always be inside of me...”

“Why, Arthur? Why cannot you have me? I need to know...”

Arthur tightened his jaw, swallowing, and drowned his sky eyes in Merlin’s deep sea ones. He gave him a smile so sad and true to tear his heart apart, making his torment so tangible to astound him.

“Because you're an Omega, my love. And I cannot be with an Omega ..." He whispered. His voice breaking.

“Why, Arthur? Tell me what your problem with Omegas is! Why cannot you be together with one of us?! Why do you hate us so much?”

“I don’t hate Omegas, Merlin ... in truth, it is quite the opposite...”

Arthur got closer to him again, leaning in and touching his lips with his. They were warm and fleshy. He filled him with small sweet kisses that Merlin accepted and returned, encouraging him. The brunet felt that they had reached the limit of a truth that had to come out eventually and that he wanted, that he had to know.

He pulled away from his lips and asked again, in a gentle but firm tone, "Tell me why Arthur. Why cannot you be with me?”

“Because I would physically hurt you, Merlin ... because I might lose control ... because I might kill you..." He said on his lips, giving him a last kiss. Then, stepping back slightly, "... and I love you too much to do that to you”.

Merlin was speechless. His heart stuck in his throat.

What is he talking about? Kill me? What the hell?

“Arthur, what do you mean ‘kill me’? You would never hurt me...”

“YES, HE WOULD...”

The Omega turned abruptly toward the door of his room, where the figure of a child came out of the shadows.

He was young, probably about seven / eight years old, dressed entirely in black. He had a light skin with small freckles on his cheeks; rosy fleshy lips, surmounted by two bright eyes, blue and clear as a spring sky. His long blonde hair almost reached his shoulders. It seemed silver under the moonlight.

He walked out of the shadows of the room to get closer to them.

Merlin was shocked and yet, not at all afraid of that presence. After a moment of observation, he recognized the features of that child.

It was Arthur.

The brunet was shortly baffled, while the child kindly took the Alpha’s hand before him.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHY DO YOU CONTINUE TO DREAM ABOUT HIM?”

“This is Merlin. MY Omega.” Arthur said with a sweet smile.

The child seemed startled for a moment. Widening his blue eyes, he asked:

“YOUR OMEGA? THEN, YOU HAVE DECIDED TO TAKE HIM? OH ARTHUR, YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’LL BECOME WITH HIM. YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WILL DO TO HIM...PLEASE, NO...”

“I have already told you. I will not take him. But at least, let me be with him here. It’s just a dream. I will not really hurt him. At least here, let me be with him..." The Alpha finished, stroking the child’s blonde hair, reassuring him somehow.

“YOU ARE ONLY GOING TO HURT YOURSELF. DREAMING ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN’T HAVE WILL DESTROY YOU IN THE LONG RUN...”

“I know...but I need him. I NEED him.” The grip on Merlin’s hand became stronger.

The child seemed to calm down a bit. Then, he took a step toward the brunet, standing still and looking at him, before smiling sweetly.

“YOU REALLY ARE A BEAUTIFUL OMEGA. I LIKE YOU. A LOT. I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO BE WITH YOU. I WOULD REALLY LIKE IT. ARTHUR, BE CAREFUL...”

The next moment, he was gone. In the room, there were only the two of them, with evident relief of the blonde, who smiled slightly.

“Arthur, who was he? That child was… was he you?” Merlin asked, definitely shocked.

“Yes, my love... he reminds me of who I am, but mostly what I must not become and what I cannot afford to have ... he is a bit the voice of my conscience... but this doesn’t change what I feel for you. At least in my dreams, I can have you just for myself, even if you're an Omega. At least in my dreams, I can love you as you deserve.”

That said, he attracted the Omega to him and kissed him softly, intensely, with love and grace and desire and strength.

“I love you, Merlin. I love you...and I will never hurt you. Forgive me for everything I have put you through. Forgive me for the indifference that I will have to show you. Forgive me for everything ... but always remember that there is not a corner of my heart or my mind where you are not present.”

***

When Merlin opened his eyes, stretched out on his bed and wrapped in the moonlight, he exhaled a deep breath, as his heart was beating fast. God, it had been more than a month since the last time he and Arthur entered into the Resonance in a dream… and the most shocking thing was that it had been the Alpha to seek him.

The fact he had revealed his true feelings, even if Arthur had done it thinking it was a mere dream, filled him with an intense joy.

Jesus, he loves me... what a jackass!” He smiled, putting a hand over his eyes, "Gana was right! Oh My God...”

Then, he stopped. The child. What did it mean?

He was certainly Arthur. He was a part of his conscience. He was what Merlin had felt through the mental contact, created that afternoon when he had kissed Arthur. A child with a broken heart.

Now he had seen him.

But what did his words mean? What the hell did he mean with: ‘you know what you’ll become with him. You know what you’ll do to him’? But mainly, why was Arthur so afraid to hurt him?

Those questions demanded answers and he knew who to ask to find them.

He raised his wrist to his nose and sniffed the strong smell of the Alpha, imprinted in the red elastic wristband he had stolen in Arthur’s room that afternoon. He was a bit embarrassed because of it, but he did not care. He had his smell and it was more practical and discreet than a football t-shirt.

He fixed his eyes on the ceiling, trying to calm the furious pumping of his heart. Finally, a small step closer to understand in what kind of quagmire Arthur was and what kept him from exit it. It was as if the Alpha’s conscience had voluntarily gone to ground in a dark hole, from which he himself did not want to come out.

And it had only taken one well-aimed slap to shake Arthur like that and to force him to come out.

I wish I had known this sooner...

‘Basically’ Merlin thought, ‘it was simply a case to figure out how deep the White Rabbit hole was’.

 

Chapter Text

It was early June and despite everything, that morning the leaden sky did not bode well.

In the enormous park in front of Villa Pendragon, a light and fresh wind blew, making the long branches of an old weeping willow move languidly. Underneath, two figures sat on the stone bench, surrounded by the soft rustle.

Merlin was drowning in Morgana’s eyes, finding the same colors and the same force of the nature around them in them: a deep green with a thousand of gold flecks. Her pale skin was like his, framed in a cascade of soft black hair. Her Alpha smell, joined with the scent of rain and undergrowth, was intoxicating.

That morning, at dawn, those same amazed eyes had welcomed him at the entrance of the huge inlaid wooden door of the Pendragons’ white manor, gently nestled among the trees of a huge nature park. Morgana had answered the door, smiling at him tenderly and clutching a green shawl on her delicate white nightdress that she was still wearing, rising and falling around her. Without a word, she had slipped over the threshold, taking his hand and guiding him through the maze of the green backyard; barefoot on the dewy ground, up to the willow tree, under which they had taken refuge.

“Why barefoot? You’ll catch a cold...”

“Because when I’m barefoot I can feel the life of the earth flowing. Because there is no other way to feel for real the strength of what is around you if not by doing this, Merlin. Becoming part of it with all yourself.”

This girl was nothing short of extraordinary. The person who would ensnare her heart would be the luckiest man in the world.

Once seated on the ancient hidden stone, the girl took the brunet’s hands between hers tenderly.

"Merlin, what’s going on? What happened?”

“Last night ... I met your brother in the strangest dream I've ever had”

“Well, I do not find anything strange about it. You love him. It's normal you dream about him.”

“No, Gana. Between Arthur and me is different. The Imprinting that binds us gives us the possibility, under certain conditions, to create the "Resonance", i.e. a kind of shared dream, created by the both of us, in which he and I interact subliminally, interweaving a parallel reality. In this reality we move, we communicate and perceive each other. Arthur doesn’t know about it, obviously. He thinks it’s just a dream, when in truth, he creates a connection between our minds and souls, speaking to me...”

Morgana gasped; her forest eyes genuinely amazed, while her sharp mind connected the dots...

“One morning, not long ago, my brother and I were in the park, jogging together, and Arthur told me he had dreamed about you in the guise of an Omega ... in light of what you have just told me, he had not only dreamed ... he had interacted with you and you had revealed to him to be an...”

“An Omega, yes... the secret weighed on me since then, and I couldn’t not tell him, even if only in a dream ... we had just got together... When I said it, he didn’t believe me. Then, in that particular Resonance had happened things that ... well… let's just say in that moment he realized by himself I was not lying...”

Morgana tightened his hands more, smiling slightly. “Merlin, what's between the two of you is wonderful. Do you realize it? If Arthur knew it was not a mere dream, he could no longer accuse you of being a liar, because you had revealed your nature when your relationship had begun...”

The brunet shook his head sadly, as the wind played with their inked hair. “Yes, Morgana, but he does not know it and I don’t want him to know. In his dreams, he opens his heart and his mind to me, revealing his true self, do you understand? And this is what brings me to you this morning. Yesterday, as you know, Arthur kissed me in the kitchen ... and I responded by giving him a slap...”

Morgana smiled heartily. “Gwaine must have been exceedingly happy about it”

“His exact words were 'WELL DONE, MERL! I KNEW YOU HAD GUTS DOWN THERE AND WOULD HAVE USED THEM IN THE RIGHT MOMENT' if I remember correctly...” The brunet finished to the amusement of the both of them, “Anyway, that gesture has stirred something inside of him, because last night, after more than a month, it was him who sought the Resonance. I saw him in my room as I see you now, sitting next to me as you are now, and he was ... God so sincere and open as I have never seen him.”  Merlin took a little break, looking down, “...and he told me he still loves me...”

She took him by the shoulders and after a moment, she threw herself on Merlin in a tight adoringly embrace, while whispering in his ear, “Oh, Merl, I knew it, I knew he loved you. He made his first step towards you, knowing who you are ... it's a huge win, my darling!”

“I know, Gana. But I haven’t told you everything yet: when I asked him why he could not be with me, he told me he was afraid to lose control and... kill me “

The girl's eyes widened, stiffening.

“Then, when I asked him to explain...” The brunet continued, “A child popped out from the shadows of the room and approached us... blonde hair and sky blue eyes, not more than ten years old. You will not believe it, but I knew ... I felt the child was Arthur, when he was little. And he was scared to death your brother could take me and bind to me… that he could hurt me...”

Merlin noticed the worried expression on Morgana’s face and his heart sank: he had never seen her in those conditions. Normally, the Alpha was strong and nothing could frighten her. Now, she was before him, taut as a violin string; liquid emerald eyes with tears barely held back by her long curved lashes.

He took her hands gently, getting lost in her eyes. “Gana, I need to know if this means anything. If it makes sense to you. Gwaine once told me that Arthur had suffered a trauma as a child, because of his father, and it was the cause of his fake hatred for Omegas... he also told me something about the fear of hurting him, but then, I had just met Arthur and I didn’t pay too much attention to Gwy’s words. Now, you have to tell me exactly what happened.”

The girl tightened his hands more. She rested her eyes on the branches of the weeping willow all around them, as if it wanted to protect them, and began her story, whispering.

“We were little children, Merlin, very little. My brother was seven or eight years old, I don’t remember exactly, and for us our father was like a mountain, which we could not oppose. He has always hated Omegas. He has always considered them inferior, in some way. And for years and years Arthur and I had to put up with his endless lectures about how Omegas were nothing but broodmares and how wrong it was to mix with them.

Anyway, once I remember he took Arthur away for a whole day. When they returned in the evening, my brother was white as snow. He was silent, his lips were tight in an almost pain grimace, and that night he refused to dine with us. When I asked my father what had happened, he only said that day he had taught his son 'the facts of life'. I didn’t understand his words, but for a whole week, Arthur barely ate. He locked himself in a dead silence for a week. He didn’t speak to me, and from the dark circles that I saw on his face more visible every morning, I gathered that he was not sleeping.

One evening, I went into his room and he was there on the bed, knees to his chest, staring into the shadows; his eyes wide open, as if he was having a nightmare while awake. I remember I took him in my arms and carried him under this willow with a candle, because it was night. I held him close to me for hours until he fell asleep. The next morning, when he awoke, I prepared him breakfast in the patio, promising him croissants and jam. He ate them as if he had been starving for months.

Then, I ventured to ask him what had happened and he looked at me sadly and only said, "I found out what I really am”. After many attempts, I gave up, convinced that time would have adjusted things… but I was wrong...

Later, when we were both teenagers, I began to notice that Arthur avoided the Omega girls that threw themselves at him. At first, I didn’t give too much importance to it. Then, there was Vivian, a classmate of mine: blonde and beautiful, of course Omega. I noticed my brother looked at her persistently. However, Arthur had never approached her, despite all my efforts. I could see he wanted her, but when he was in her presence, he walked away with an excuse, trying to stay away from her, watching her from afar, becoming even more frustrated. When one evening I got him heavily drunk, I asked him why he did not approach Vivian or any Omega. He told me he was 'fucking afraid' to hurt them, and that he would 'turn into a beast' if he was with an Omega.

He revealed to me in bits and pieces that my father had brought him to a Center of Assisted Reproduction (C.A.R.) many years before. He had made him understand what the dynamics of the coupling between our two species were... and when he saw what he could become, he decided to avoid Omegas no matter what. I was young at the time and I knew little of the 'Centers' where my father had brought my brother.

Later in life, seeing that Arthur continued to avoid Omegas, I became curious and I looked for information. This type of centers was born in the early '900 to balance the number of Alphas and Omegas in the world, which from the statistics had dropped alarmingly in the previous two decades. Thus, they enacted infamy laws and created the C.A.R., where Omegas are still forced to breed with Alphas, in order to conceive other Alphas and Omegas. Today, thanks to the struggles that the generations before ours have accomplished, Omega subjects that are induced to the assisted reproduction are only Omegas that must serve serious penalties or who have committed a crime, and in general anyone who wants to submit to it voluntarily in order to conceive.

There are many more safeguards and controls in this type of structures, but in old days, it was not so ... In the past, if you were still a Free-of-Bond Omega at 22, the police could come to your house at any time and lock you in one of these centers to force you to conceive. It was a mass violence and these Centers were more like Prison camps than medical facilities... The Omegas, very young, were drugged to induce a false Heat and raped by the Alpha on duty to impregnate them ... and unfortunately, accidents were very frequent...”

At each word of Morgana, Merlin’s heart tightened even more; his jaw clenched and his eyes closed in a thin line and his breathing became heavy... what the hell had Arthur been forced to watch? What had those sky eyes seen to upset him so much? What had happened to that child to change him so deeply and to make him the man he was now?

“What kind of accidents, Morgana? What are you talking about?”

She braced herself, looking sadly at him with her emerald eyes.

“Omegas died, Merlin. The brutality of what happened to them, the drugs they gave them had scary side effects and the Alphas raped them in the truest and deepest sense of the word. In the past, there was not a selection of the correct Alpha for an Omega, as it is today: it was left all to chance. It only mattered the sexual act was accomplished and the Omega got pregnant, no matter how. This is why it was common for Alphas to beat Omegas before ... Oh Christ! Then, the Alphas could take virgin Omegas and ... well you know how they say 'size matters'? Well ... you can imagine what happened when an Alpha with huge privates was assigned to an Omega at his first experience ... internal injuries, cardiac arrests, sometimes death...”

The last word articulated a deep echo in Merlin’s consciousness. His hands clutched in fists, so tight to whiten his knuckles, his nails embedded in the skin of his palms until bleeding. Arthur words were like fire-branded in his heart, returning in his mind:

“Because I would physically hurt you, Merlin ... because I might lose control ... because I might kill you… and I love you too much to do that to you”

“I've never been sure, Merlin, but after what you had just told me about your dream and what my brother revealed to me when he was younger, I'm almost certain Arthur was forced to watch a very violent act and that, at the end of it, the Omega died. I see no other explanation ... he said he is afraid to kill you ... so it all makes sense now ... after more than twenty years I can finally put in place the last piece of the puzzle that was missing...Jesus I should kill Uther for what he did to Arthur...”

“But why had he to steal the innocence of a child? ... His son ... how could he even think of doing such a thing?”

“I don’t know, Merlin. Probably, it’s partly my fault ... I have never been able to be 'under my father’s command' and more than once I rebelled against him, siding with Omegas in our frequent quarrels. I fear Uther thought I would have had a 'bad influence' on my brother; that I’d have taught him to love Omegas, inculcating in him ideas Uther would never agree to. For me it was too late, but Arthur was still little and taming his conscience with such a thing would have been extremely easy ... and so it was, actually.”

“Your father is loony! What the hell have Omegas ever done to him? Or he's just a damn racist from a family of racists?” Merlin asked, trying to keep his tone of voice firm, with a hint of barely concealed anger.

Morgana laughed and looked down on their still holding hands.

“Before dying, my mother told me my father came from a very old noble family, with strong preconceptions about Omegas; but Uther had never shared them. In some ways, hearing what mum had said, he was a lot like me: proud and too rebellious. When my father went to college, he met an Omega and fell in love with him. He was my father’s reason to live. They created the Bond and stayed together for years until graduation. At that point, my father asked the Omega to marry him officially, against the opinions of his family, which threatened to disinherit him. It seems the Omega refused the proposal and left my father, breaking the Bond ... and you know what that means...” The girl drowned her green eyes in his sea blue ones.

Merlin was shocked. He knew what the dissolution of a Bond involved for a stable couple.

“The books speak of unspeakable suffering and, in rare cases, of the death of both Alpha and Omega due to heartbreak. The Bond is a part of the heart that is given to a mate for life. If the Bond is not stable or is just born, the consequences are not too serious. However, if the Bond is deep and enduring, the pain of the loss of the life partner drives the Alpha to madness, and the Omega dies of loneliness. It’s a very dangerous operation...”

“Well, my father survived. His family had spent huge sums of money to treat him in the best clinics. Moreover, as often happens, the deeper the love is, the higher the possibilities are of it turning into hate, when things change. My father began to hate Omegas more than anything. The pain of the loss was enough to make him blind to anything else. Obviously, his family was very happy. My father has never recovered completely... At that point, he was more than happy to marry an Alpha, my mother Ygraine, with the approval of the Pendragons, who had organized it for a long time: a union between two Prime Alphas would have brought honor to the families; and the Primes born from the union would have been rulers, with all the doors open for them...”

“Jesus... Your mother told you all these things?”

“Yes, Merl…“ Gana said with a sad smile on her face, “I loved her very much, but I remember very little of her. Alphas are not made to conceive. Giving birth to me had already been very difficult for her, between hormone treatments and everything else. Then, my father told her he wanted a son and they tried again. When she got pregnant with my brother, the doctors advised her not to continue the pregnancy, but she strongly refused to abort, saying no one would touch her beloved child. And so it was. Giving birth to Arthur gave her immense joy, but her body became weak and eventually, she died three years later. My mother was a great person. You would have liked her. Arthur always wears her ring on his thumb. I wore her medallion. It’s a way to keep her with us.”

Merlin gently stroked Morgana’s face, collecting a tear from her cheekbone. When she threw herself into his arms, he remained to rock her gently, giving her little kisses on the forehead and stroking her hair slowly, in silence, picking up the beats of her heart, collecting the pain of which her soul was imbued. He shared with her the burden that until now, those slender shoulders had brought.

“Pendragons are not bad people, Merlin” Morgana finished, getting up and showing a slight smile, trying to recover as best, “We're just very, very, very complicated! But we know how to love beyond words: if you take our heart, you'll have it forever...”

“I am sure of it, Gana ... although, I think your dad is mad as a hatter...”

“He’s just an old and wounded man, who now travels around the world to take care of the family Empire. However, he hides his misery and leaves his children alone too often. I think he regretted many times what he did to Arthur, but he never had the courage to admit it. He preferred to run away from his responsibilities at some point ... but that’s his way. He cannot change.”

“Has he ever tried to look for his Omega?”

“No. Never.”

“Then, I'm really sorry for him. He’s a poor man.”

“Who lives with his regrets, Merl ... Now, let’s go back talking about more pleasant things. I have good news for you, lover boy.”

“Such as?”

“Arthur broke up with Helena.”

Merlin felt distinctly his heart flying and filling with hope.

“Really? Jesus...but what...when?”

“Last night, when you and Cenred left. I kept looking at my brother and saw him tense and worried. Then, he curled his lips as he does when he is thinking hard about something... He alienated himself for the rest of the evening. When Helena asked him if she could stay the night here, he said no. She didn’t take it well and he went outside with her, with the excuse to escort her to her car. Gwaine and I went to peek through the kitchen window. I saw Arthur taking her arm to stop her. Then, she tried to hug him but he pushed her away, continuing to talk. I will never forget how her face changed expression: she became as red as a tomato and clenched her fists. Then, she said something big, pointing her finger at his chest and hitting him more than once. We were too far away to hear anything, but we understood very well what was going on. Then, all of a sudden, Arthur said something, looking down, and she slapped him. Then, my brother blocked her hand, in turn pointing his forefinger at her face, chanting words straight on her nose. She answered by freeing herself from his grip angrily. Then, she hurriedly climbed into the car and went away, leaving my brother there, hands long the hips, watching her leaving. At that point, I went outside to make sure he was all right. Arthur said ‘I’m more than fine, Gana. You have won, damned witch. I have broken up with her. Now, leave me alone!' Then, he took his motorbike and left, probably to get drunk in some pub. Obviously, the Council was pleased to know it. We drank last night too, quite a lot actually. After all, certain events must be celebrated properly:  Council 1 – Bimbo 0!!!”

Merlin laughed heartily, a hand to his lips and his heart beat fiercely: Arthur could still be his.

“So, Merl, my conclusion is only one: you have to slap my brother more often! Look at the results! And all at once!”

“And now, what do we do, General??” The brunet asked, standing up with her and taking her hand.

“For the first time, I don’t know. I have to think. Now that I’m aware of what my brother went through, I'm sure the best way to act is for you to continue dating Cenred to make him jealous even more, but you need to be tender and sweet during your Resonances, making it clear to Arthur what he is missing and what he could have. You should try to talk with him as a child again and reassure him. If you manage to do it, I'm sure his demons will disappear slowly and he will give himself another chance to be happy with you. However, remember, Merlin: in the real life, don’t give in to him. You are you, a beautiful and proud Omega, and you won’t indulge him. I'll talk to Cenred this afternoon. You just do your part...”

“I will, Gana. Thanks for everything!" The brunet finished, hugging her tightly.

“And now, let’s go back home… do you want to have breakfast with me? I think Arthur will be there too... His motorbike is in the yard…”

“No, Gana, thank you... if I see him this morning, after last night Resonance and what you've told me, I think nothing would stop me from jumping him and filling him with kisses. I have to rest a moment from all this, before seeing him again.”

“I understand, Merlin ... I’ll see you soon, ok?” She finished, giving him two kisses on the cheeks. “And thanks to you for the love you are showing toward my brother! Don’t give up, honey. We will win this war! O Glory...”

“...Or Death! Have a good day, Gana.” The brunet said goodbye, smiling, before taking the girl's hand and kissing it. He went towards the great gate of the villa.

Morgana watched him leaving, standing on the lawn in front of the door.

When the brunet was far away, she wrapped herself in the shawl. She turned and planted her green eyes in the blue ones that were waiting for her on the doorstep. Arthur stood there, motionless, holding firmly the railing. A light shirt covered the muscles of his chest. He was wearing the gray pants of a tracksuit. His body was tense, his lips pressed into a thin line, his jaw tense and the blond hair messed up on his head. He was a beautiful blond disaster.

Morgana climbed the stairs gracefully, stopping next to her brother, who was studying her movements.

“What are you plotting, Gana?” Arthur asked with sincere interest, “Why was Merlin with you in the park this morning? I saw you two talking...”

“So?”

“You were hugging and kissing him”

“On the cheeks ... he is a friend after all.”

“A friend, of course...a close one...”

“Arthur, is there a problem? Are you jealous?”

“Of you? No, my dear. I know you would never do such a thing to me. Besides, he doesn’t like you in that way.”

“No?”

“No”

Morgana looked at Arthur straight in the eyes, sensing the tension from his body and his pheromones. Her heart clenched. In that moment, she felt his indecision, his struggle and his doubts, locked at the bottom of his soul. Her heart filled with compassion.

“Arthur, I love you. I have always loved you. Forgive me for not understanding sooner...” She whispered in his ear, hugging him hard. She tried to calm him like when they were children, enjoying the warmth of his broad chest and his muscular arms that had wrapped around her waist right away.

“Gana, can you explain what you're talking about? What happened with Merlin? What did he tell you?”

She stroked his face, placing a gentle kiss on his lips, giving him a surge of genuine astonishment.

“Gana, are you ok?”

“I’m totally fine, Arthur. I'm fine now. And I will make sure you are happy too”

“Gana, I’m getting worried. What do you mean?”

“Nothing, Arthur. Life is short and you should fight to have the happiness you deserve. Against everything and everyone. Even against yourself if necessary...”

Having said that, she slipped from his arms to return home, leaving him alone on the patio with an infinity of questions, stuck between his throat and heart.

***

It was five in the afternoon when Cenred poured the steaming and amber tea in the delicate and white porcelain cup in front of Morgana. The Tea Room was not too crowded that afternoon and the both of them had benefited from it. They talked for a long time about what their behavior and strategies must be to make Arthur surrender in Merlin’s arms.

Cenred’s spirit and wit delighted Morgana, as much as her beauty and intelligence fascinated him.

“I want you to kiss Merlin! In front of my brother. No matter where or when, but you have to do it. He needs another shake-up...”

“God, Gana... more than the slap Merlin gave him last night?”

“Absolutely YES!” She finished strong, dunking a round biscuit with a cherry on top of it in her tea and taking it to her mouth in a sensual way.

“Are you flirting with me, Morgana Pendragon?" He asked bluntly.

“Maybe” She admitted with a sly smile on her scarlet lips, her green eyes full of promises.

“And you are doing it just to get me to hang from your every word and do what you want me to do?" He asked with a cheeky smile.

“Maybe.” She admitted, cryptic. She loved wrapping men around her little fingers.

“Then, here's the deal ... I will kiss Merlin. And you will kiss me. Now.”

Morgana smiled, amused and intrigued, "And why would I do that?”

Quid pro quo, Morgana. Let's face it, you want to kiss me since you saw me for the first time”

“Oh yes... watching you on the ground, bleeding by the lake was ... you know ... magic ... I immediately thought about kissing you." She said, mocking gently.

“Witty, my princess. I’ll tell you what… I’ll do it. I’ll kiss Merlin for you... And when you want, you will give me my reward. Deal?" He asked quietly.

“Deal.” She finished, as he took her white and slender hand and leaded it to his lips, giving her a light kiss, which made her shiver.

She liked Cenred. A lot.

But for now, she had other plans to think about...

Chapter Text

Throughout the week following his break up with Helena, Arthur closed himself in a thoughtful silence, and with the excuse of having to prepare for the new session of exams, he persuaded Morgana not to ask him too many questions.

The truth was he was exhausted.

He laid down on his bed. His strong and muscular body abandoned on the mattress. The fingers curled into a bitter fist, as he opened and closed his hand rhythmically. His eyelids were lowered to imprison his sky blue eyes.

This ongoing struggle against himself was taking away all his energies. On one hand, his heart cried ceaselessly, craving Merlin’s presence, instilling in him a desperate need to talk to him, hug him, kiss him, love him and Christ make him his. On the other hand, his mind and his conscience objected sharply.

He was afraid.

And Arthur hated living in fear.

Yet, fear made him watchful, careful not to give in to his nature, conscious of being able to hurt the only person he had ever really loved.

God, I really love him. I should have never let it happen. Never...

He had struggled with himself, with his mobile phone in hand, every single day, composing messages he had never had the courage to send.

He wanted to talk to him. But about what? What could he say? “Hello, I am that jerk of your ex, who has cheated on you multiple times and who you slapped last Saturday. I wanted to know if we could see each other, because I have a terrible need to be with you, kiss you and do things to you I'm ashamed to say aloud. However, I don’t want to be with you, because you're an Omega and I may lose control and rape you, while I try to kiss you. Knowing all this, would you still like to go out together?

Fuck you, Arthur!

Merlin had slapped him.

And his world had collapsed in an instant.

Shit, Arthur, you are stupid stupid stupid.

Merlin was absolutely right: he didn’t know what he really wanted.

He had to fix his own mess, not Merlin. Still, he was dying to tell Merlin he was staying away not because he was an Omega, but only because he wanted to protect him!

Yet, he could not ignore his heart.

He wanted him.

He wanted to see him.

His sweet smell still trapped between his lips.

But he didn’t know how to do it and asking his sister to arrange something was out of the question. She would never get over this.

But if he thought about Cenred with Merlin, about the fact in that moment the brown haired man was holding, touching and kissing him...OH GOD!!! DAMNED HIM… He would kill him with his bare hands… His punches would be nothing in comparison. He should die under his feet for even thinking about getting close to his Omega!!!

However, this didn’t help to circumvent the problem…He was in love with Merlin, but he could not make him his without hurting him.

He closed his eyes, gently rubbing a hand through his hair.

What he did not know was that he would have an 'excuse' to see his Omega again very soon...

***

“Forgive me, Clarice, I'll be right back.”

“Yes, sure, Dr. Emrys… I have no intention to move from here, not without you..." The girl squealed, smiling and batting her eyes at him.

“Thank you. I'll need just a second..." The doctor apologized, blushing, slightly embarrassed.

Removing his hands from the girl’s wrist, Merlin stepped back, retreating for a moment in the small bathroom of the clinic, where he was applying a bandage.

Closed the door behind him, he approached the mirror and uncovered his neck and right shoulder. He touched a specific point, where months before Arthur had bitten him during one of their Resonance, in order to establish the Bond. It had been so long since the last time he had felt that feeling. The bite point hurt, throbbing. Yet, the mirror in front of him showed him the image of a white and perfect skin under his touch.

For a moment, a bad feeling crept under his skin, and his thoughts went immediately to his Alpha, wondering if something had happened to him.

He took the phone from his pocket and looked at the screen.

No missing calls.

He put it back in his pocket with a sigh. All week, he had hoped Arthur would call him, after he had left Helena.

Vain hope. 

After their last Resonance and after speaking with Morgana, he wanted to see him more than anything.

He had even thought of sending him a message, but then, he had given up: he had to be strong ... the slap had worked and he was not going to give in, no matter what.

If this was the only way to have him back in the end, he was willing to fill Arthur with punches every second he was not kissing him...

He rinsed his face, ready to return to the room and finish his bandage, trying not to give in to the lure of the girl lying on the bed: cute but way too Beta and above all too female for his taste.

The hospital had been relatively quiet that afternoon, strange thing for the traumatology ward. Normally, the department was flooded with teenagers with sprained ankles or old people with aching joints, who maybe had fallen down the stairs and broken a foot, some ribs or something similar. But that afternoon, everything had run smoothly.

He had wrapped a sprained wrist for Clarice, removed a boy’s plaster and now, he was relatively relaxing in front of the coffee maker, torn between a healthy cappuccino, coffee and a good cocoa.

He needed something insanely sweet to treat his heart, so he opted for the third option ... cocoa. He inserted the key, pressed the button, and the machine began to produce his reassuring hum.

Then, a subtle smell crept into his nostrils with arrogance and forced him to close his eyes and take a deep breath.

Warm, musky, strong, it reminded him of blond hair and sky blue eyes...

Alpha! Arthur.

…ARTHUR…

Merlin abandoned the cocoa in the machine, while he darted down the corridor of the ward, heart in his throat, ignoring the stares of the onlookers, as he tried not to crush them. His instincts were blind to anything but his Alpha.

Why is Arthur here? Is he sick? Has something happened? Christ, I feel him...

As soon as he opened the door of the emergency room, Arthur's eyes rested on him, surprised. Along with those of Morgana and Percy, all around the wheelchair the blond was sitting on in his Football uniform.

“Merlin, fortunately you are here! I called your uncle and he told me you were on duty" Morgana squeaked, hugging him hard, while he was still standing in the doorway.

“He hurt himself during a friendly match; he was dribbling and a moment later, he was on the ground, clutching his thigh. Perhaps, a sprain..." Percival explained with a shrug.

…Arthur...

Merlin found difficult not jumping on him, holding off his Omega instincts and doing his best to appear calm. However, he realized that restraining his hormones, now that he was no longer under suppressors, would be the hardest thing he'd ever had to do.

His Alpha was beautiful, as always. The scent of his sweat wafted around in the environment, his pheromones went around him, wedging under his skin, craving him, taking him, violating his every pore, shouting his desire to possess, demanding immediate surrender.

Merlin clenched his jaw and his fists, well hidden in the pockets of his white coat, so close that his nails dug into the flesh. He knew the Alpha was reading him like an open book, but he tried to overlook it. The pain helped him not to give in.

“All right, all right, let's take a look. Percy, help Arthur to lay on the bed. Morgana, don’t worry… make some space for me...”

The giant took Arthur under the arms and helped him to stand up and to lie down on the bed. Merlin approached the blond and called all his willpower to appear professional.

"Well, here we are. Where do you feel pain?”

The blond clenched his jaw, avoiding looking at him, obviously embarrassed. He stared at the ceiling and pointed his right thigh with his index finger.

Merlin gently slipped his hand under the football shorts, pushing them toward the groin and uncovering his muscular and perfect thigh, while his heart rate got faster.

Touching his Alpha and seeing him in front of him so helpless and defenseless, completely at his mercy, unleashed the darkest desires inside of Merlin.

He bit his tongue to regain control.

Gently, he began the palpation of the injured muscle: the skin was hot, the muscle resulted contract under his touch. With every passing movement, Arthur clenched his jaw even more.

"Does it hurt when I touch you here? And here?”

Arthur replied with a nod, eyes still firmly planted on the ceiling.

“Probably, you have suffered a pulled muscle, of mild / moderate intensity I would say… otherwise, here, you would feel a kind of rung where there would be the injury of the smooth muscle, and I do not feel it. No strain! You are lucky. Probably today or tomorrow, you will see the appearance of a bruise, i.e. an extensive black-and-blue mark. It’s normal… don’t worry.”

“How can we treat it? How quickly will he recover?" Morgana asked, worried.

“In this initial phase, the treatment goals are: the immobilization, the application of a cold pack for 15-20 minutes every two or three hours (cold compress or freeze spray) and of an elastic bandage to reduce the bleeding, and the mechanical stresses on the injured part. If the pain is intense, he can use crutches, but the important thing is to avoid contracting or straining the damaged muscle in any case. I will prescribe you anti-inflammatory and painkillers; ibuprofen should do the job. If after 48-72 hours since the injury, the swelling has subsided and the bruises appeared, Arthur will notice an improvement in his contractile capacity. If it is the case, we will start a rehabilitation program. The strengthening of the quadriceps, combined with stretching, is necessary to prevent making the injury incurable. Early in the treatment, I would recommend light stretching and massages… the ideal would be to work the muscle in the water, which limits the load on the injured muscle. I predict a resumption of the mobility in two weeks, if everything goes as it should.”

“Thank you so much, Merlin.” Gana said, more relaxed, giving a pat to Percy’s chest.

“And now, ladies and gentlemen, please step out: I have to apply the elastic bandage to Arthur. Don’t worry: I'll return him safe and sound in about twenty minutes...”

The two of them exited the clinic immediately. The Alpha and the Omega were alone now.

“Ok, lift your leg, Arthur. Take your shorts off. I have to shave you and put a skin-saver bandage before the elastic one.” Merlin said, turning and fumbling in the medicine cabinet to take what he needed, pretending not to see Arthur smiling.

When he turned around, his heart skipped a beat. The Alpha had taken his shorts off, throwing them aside. He now remained loosely lying on the bed, in wonderful gray boxers, which obviously were squeezing his manhood, in addition to his perfect hips. They designed its shapes and its more than considerable size in a perfect manner. And he knew it too well.

Bastard!

Merlin closed his eyes, trying to regain control of himself.

I am a doctor, for God sake! Arthur is only a patient! I have to be professional! No involvement!

The Alpha smiled weakly, feeling the Omega’s excitement and Merlin distinctly heard a voice inside of him, telling him 'SCREWED! HE HAS NOTICED IT'… his excited and crazy pheromones all around.

All right. Do you like to play? Soon, I'll be the one laughing!

With a mischievous smile, Merlin proceeded with the hair removal, deliberately going very, very close to Arthur’s groin, paying particular attention to the inner thigh, with slight movements of the razor. Arthur stopped laughing in the same moment his sex began to wake up, under the brunet’s expert fingers on his leg, so close ... oh so damn close, but never close enough.

Then, it was bandaging time and even then, the Alpha did what he could to maintain control, while Merlin accompanied the gauze with subtle movements of his hand, pushing it into contact with the blond’s skin. He enveloped it from the knee towards the upper part of the leg with slow movements that simulated caresses, to adhere the fabric better to his skin… higher and higher, until Merlin touched his testicles with the back of his white hand, before leaning his head on Arthur’s lap, to tear the gauze with his teeth.

Then, Arthur groaned, covering his boxers with the football shirt that he was still wearing, in an attempt to cover his erection, completely tense and throbbing in his underwear.

“What’s wrong, Arthur? Problems? Have I hurt you?" Merlin asked, feigning indifference.

“No...don’t worrAARGHGHGHH” The Alpha cried, while the Omega began the real elastic bandage, squeezing his thigh where he knew it would hurt.

Now, it was Merlin’s turn to smile mischievously, as he finished the last bandage. Arthur was reduced to a mix of choked breathes of pain and moans of pleasure.

Merlin 1 – Arthur 0

Winning this round had galvanized him. Yet, seeing his own Alpha before him, naked and dying, sexually frustrated and completely at his mercy was a bit like a dagger in the heart.

It was not fair to treat him that way ... it was like subjecting him to the torment of Tantalus. He knew Arthur loved him and he knew he was doing everything to suppress his Alpha instincts. However, a little voice inside of him kept telling him 'Make him pay '!

He decided to stop with those at least inappropriate reflections and gave Arthur a gentle pat on the shoulder, feeling his sky eyes burning on his forehead.

"I am done ... can you stand up?”

The moment their eyes met, it was as if someone had taken the air out of the room. There was only the two of them, lost in each other, beyond revenges, pain, tears and jealousies… only with the sublime desire to keep the eyes of the other chained into their own and lose themselves as castaways, with no way to return.

Merlin broke the silence, still staring at him intently. “Can you stand up, Arthur?" The tone was softer now...

“I think so...” The other whispered equally softly.

“Wait… I’ll help you.”

In a lithe gesture, Merlin hugged Arthur's chest, helping him to his feet. However, when they had to separate, both stood still, lost in the mutual embrace, each of them basking in that warmth and in that touch that the both of them had missed so much.

Time stopped as they sniffed each other, each with his nose firmly planted in the hollow of the neck of the other.

Both men were breathing the smell of the mate, gently, as not to interrupt that moment of perfection: moss, earth, rain, man, Alpha versus honey, lavender and wind, Omega.

A slight shudder ran through them, under their skin. Their nature awakened. The presence of the other so near lit them up with desire, want, belonging, love, unity, dominance and submission, forcing them to moan softly in the ear of the other; eyes closed, while every fiber of their bodies tended strongly, looking for a contact. The air around them filled with pheromones. Their smells, mixed together, joined in a perfect poem.

The embrace became involuntarily tighter. While the brunet lowered his arms to stroke the blond’s hips, the other slid both of his hands on the hard and perfect ass of the Omega, pulling him against him, holding him without a word.

And everything was so damn right...

When Arthur lightly licked the hollow of Merlin’s white neck, the other began to tremble convulsively, his erection locked in his pants, in contact with the huge, hot, and throbbing one of the Alpha, pressed against his abdomen. Christ feeling him like that and knowing to be the cause of his excitement was just too good, too addictive.

Arthur was a drug, and every fiber of his body demanded it.

Yet, in that fog of hormones, Merlin forced himself to react.

He started to pull away from the embrace, but Arthur stopped him, reluctant to break the contact.

“No, Merlin. No.” The blond whispered in his ear; his voice hoarse, broken, deep.

His Alpha’s pleading voice broke his heart. Nothing would have given him more joy than falling in his arms, worshiping that body with kisses, so alive, warm and vibrating in contact with his.

Hating himself to regain control, Merlin removed his hands from the Alpha’s hips, standing still, trying to calm down, his eyes still closed for the effort.

“Arthur, please. I’m not your Omega. I’m just your doctor. And there is a doctor-patient relationship between us and nothing else. If not, I'll have to ask immediately the intervention of another doctor to treat you, because I cannot have any involvement with patients...”

“You cannot or don’t want to?" The voice of the Alpha had become cold as a blade of ice, as he stepped back from the Omega’s body, who immediately missed that heat.

“I cannot, Arthur, and I don’t want to" Merlin finished, tightening his jaw and clenching his fists.

“You are lying, Merlin” the blond roared, "I feel it in your smell: you want me as much as I want you. How long will you deny yourself? Being stubborn doesn’t suit you. You're aroused as much as I am right now, and don’t tell me you're normally like this with all your patients, because I. don’t. believe. you

“NO, Arthur! I’m not like this with all my patients! I’m like this only with you, but it doesn’t change what I said last Saturday. You are not ready to be my Alpha. You don’t want to be it. You want my body, but not my soul, and that’s it. Go back to Helena. I am surprise she is not here already, rubbing herself all over you”

“I broke up with Helena, Merlin. I left her because she is not you. No one is you. And even if you can’t understand it, I don’t hate you as an Omega… It’s just that…I can’t be with you as an Omega because I could hurt you!”

“What the hell are you talking about, Arthur? This is only an excuse not to get serious with me, not to deal with your problems. Well, you know what? I am not your plaything, Arthur. I am not something you can take and put aside as you wish. If you really want me, grow up and deal with your problems!”

“Jesus, Merlin, if it were so easy, don’t you think I would have already done it, taken you and claimed you as mine?”

“Then what’s the problem, Arthur? Talk to me. Tell me what’s wrong. Give me some answer! Or is ir something like ‘You are too special, I don’t deserve you’? Because these are teenager excuses and if this is truly the case I don’t even want to listen”

“It’s not like that! Those are bullshits and I have too much respect for your intelligence to say them. Merlin, I lo…lo…oh, talking to you is incredibly difficult! For once in your life, can’t you be a good and obedient Omega and shut up, so that I can say one meaningful sentence at least?!?”

Merlin's eyes widened, mimicking his last words. Then, he walked away, leaning against the desk, arms folded, his face an expressionless mask, evidently exasperated.

“Well, Arthur. Now I’ll stay here nice and quiet and listen to your explanation, so speak before I lose all my patience!!”

Arthur widened his eyes, genuinely surprised by Merlin’s attitude. Now it was a neck and neck and it was his turn to respond. He tried to calm down, but it was difficult with the brunet’s eyes firmly planted on him, stabbing him.

“I lo...lo...” He started, getting lost in his own words.

I love you. I love you, Merlin. Jesus, why can’t I say it? I love you. I love you. I LOVE YOU.

“...long for you. I want you to be mine.” The blond finished, exhausted, red as a pepper.

Meanwhile, Merlin raised an eyebrow, bored.

“You have told me this many times already. Is there anything else you want to tell me? Such as this mysterious reason why you cannot be with me because you have to protect me?”

“Merlin, I...It’s complicate to explain...”

“Well, I have a degree in medicine…I’m not that stupid. You know…if you talk to me, I understand”

“I...you see, when I was a child...my father forced me to...watch...I may...if I take you I may...”

“What, Arthur? What did your father force you to watch? What do you think you may do? Tell me!”

Merlin stepped back from the desk and approached his Alpha, eyes soaked with despair, wet with desire. The expression on his face was tender and encouraging, while he rested a hand on Arthur’s cheek, as if to calm him down.

“Tell me, Arthur. Please, tell me...I’m here for you. Talk to me...” Merlin whispered in a soft voice. His pheromones went to embrace his Alpha as a warm blanket.

Arthur closed his eyes and rested his head on Merlin’s shoulder, who distinctly felt the fabric of the white coat getting wet near his neck: Arthur was crying.

His Alpha was crying.

Oh my God!

“Arthur, please, talk to me...” Merlin whispered in his ear. His heart pounded madly in his ears and both his cold white hands were immersed in the hair of the other, drawing small circles, in order to calm him down, "Whatever it is, we can face it together...”

Arthur pulled back for a moment, to look at the person he loved in the eyes and Merlin knew in that moment how much pain he carried on his shoulder; how deep was his wound and the fear, hidden inside of his blue irises, which gripped his heart, pushing him away from what he wanted with all his soul.

That look planted itself in Merlin’s heart, as a spear. It was so painful that for a moment it astounded him.

Merlin saw it clearly, painted on his Alpha’s face: love, devotion, desire, care, want, passion, soul, loyalty, destiny, all in a gaze.

Arthur was giving all himself to Merlin. Without a shred of pride. Without a word. There was no need. Not between the two of them.

Arthur’s eyes wet with tears, as his lips mouthed two words without a sound, which impressed themselves like fire in the soul of the Omega.

“I LOVE YOU”

Merlin stood still, while the Alpha hugged him with all his strength, as if to claim him, as if to want to melt with him by osmosis. The brunet felt distinctly the cracks in his heart getting deeper, lying his Omega soul bare, which craved his mate above everything else in the world. No matter the lies, the jealousy… more than anything else.

The aftermath was frantic. Merlin felt like dreaming when Arthur approached his lips to his mouth. They breathed together in unison, full of beats, promises and hope. And he wanted him.

Jesus, he wanted him with every cell of his body, every heartbeat shouted his name.

Then, Arthur stopped a millimeter from Merlin. The breath of his soul and his thin lips diverted, resting on Merlin’s forehead, trembling with desire, bewildered and with eyes full of tears.

"I WILL NEVER HURT YOU” He uttered, drowning the words on the Omega’s black hair, placing another kiss.

In that moment, there was a knock on the door and Arthur pulled himself away from his Omega immediately.

“Merlin, is everything all right in there?” The voice was Gwaine’s.

The brunet’s brain was in hibernation and failed to respond in time: the brown haired man opened the door unceremoniously, a worried expression on his face, while Percy was trying to hold him by the shirt.

Obviously, it took a moment to realize what was happening. Gwy rushed to Merlin, while Morgana rushed to Arthur, both wondering why the Alpha and the Omega had tears in their eyes.

“Arthur, are you all right? Have you cried?”

“Merl, you too? What has that asshole done to...”

“GWAINE” Morgana rebuked him in a serious tone.

“Nothing happened. Calm down. I have applied a bandage to Arthur. Now, you only need to apply ice every three hours and keep the muscle at rest. Let's see how it goes in the next forty-eight hours. I want to see you again the day after tomorrow. I will remove the bandage and if all goes well, we will start the rehabilitation. That is, I mean, you'll start it... I will recommend some colleagues more than capable of helping you recovering and...”

“I want you!” Arthur burst out in a firm voice, "I won’t let anyone else put their hands on me, understand? Nobody else.”

“Arthur” Merlin said with a barely concealed note of desperation in his voice, "Some colleagues are competent in this type of trauma and rehabilitation. I'm not a physiotherapist and I have little experience in this kind of thing. I am entrusting you to them for your own good.”

“I. ONLY. WANT. YOU” The blond roared.

Merlin clenched his jaw.

These next two weeks would be crazy.

Chapter Text

“Now, you’ll put this on, Merlin ... and without a word”

Comfortably sitting in the armchair of his own office, the brunet looked intently at the Alpha, who was almost hopping on the chair in front of him; red lips stretched into a mischievous smile. His look of initial amazement soon changed into one of worried.

“Gana... I don’t think we should ..." He began sadly.

“Oh come on, Merl. Don’t be such a virgin! You have worn one of these before, haven’t you?”

“No! Never! I am not into this kind of ... things...! I'm embarrassed!”

“Only because Arthur isn’t the one giving it to you, but I was ... or rather, when you see him, you are going to tell him it is a gift from Cenred...”

Jesus, Gana... I'm ashamed! And massaging him with this on me ... no, I cannot do this ... It’s uncomfortable!”

“Doesn’t matter if you give him a massage wearing this ... the important thing is that he sees it... THEN, you can take it off, before lying your hands on him ... or before he puts his on you ahhahah.”

“Gana...”

“Oh come on, Merl! We're trying to get a reaction that would drive him crazy ... and if you put this on, I assure you my brother will go nuts! Trust me”

“Yes, in the worst sense! I'm seriously embarrassed ...it is not right to push him so hard. I feel like shit by teasing him like this...”

“Merl, we have already tried with the easy way, now we go hard on him with the hard way! Remember the slap? We need determination! Now, put it on and don’t take it off until Arthur sees it, and eventually takes off ... understand??? COME ON!”

“Ok, OK! God, Gana... sometimes you are scary...”

***

Arthur was happy. His leg was recovering well, thanks to the work done by Merlin and to the stretching he had prescribed and that Arthur was following meticulously. Every two days, there was a massage session that Merlin did himself with his hands (Arthur had noticed more books about the topic in his office and he felt flattered that his Omega wanted to treat him as best as possible. This filled him with a healthy Alpha pride).

Moreover, he had a great excuse to meet him, to see him on a regular basis without the brunet being suspicious or Arthur finding himself with a complaint for stalking.

He knew that soon the sessions would end and he would lose Merlin again, in favor of that idiot of Cenred, who appeared at the clinic to greet Merlin exactly when Arthur had his rehab time, happy to 'mark his territory' ... damned him!

He had to make it clear to Merlin what he felt for him.

He needed the courage to tell him he loved him.

He had to explain to him his was a struggle of the mind against the heart. However, he could not bear everything that was going on alone.

The truth was he was fucking scared.

In the last week, he had been brooding to find a possible solution that would allow them to be together as a couple, once removed (physically) the obstacle Cenred. Yet, it seemed a riddle, destined to remain without solution. He could not ask Merlin to start to take the suppressants again and, even if he did, it would not change the substance. Feeling him with an attenuated smell would only serve to frustrate Arthur even more and make him angrier; besides, he as an Alpha knew Omegas could not take that kind of medication for life if not with heavy side effects, such as infertility. On the other hand, Arthur didn’t think it was possible to ask Merlin to tie him to the bed and put a muzzle on him every single time they had sex, to be sure not to hurt him ... that was not exactly his concept of "love", at most it was only "kinky sex"

And he wanted to love Merlin in every sense.

Fuck, couldn’t he be an Alpha like anyone else?

Primes were faster, stronger, more controlled. Yet, when it came to sex, all their self-control disappeared (as the other Alphas), and all those gifts that nature had given them in positive had repercussions in a negative way on the Omega mate. From there, the possibilities were 50% ... if he lost control, he KNEW he would hurt Merlin.

He did nothing but dream about him night after night.

Blood, sweat and tears.

He could hardly stay away from him when the brunet was under suppressors, not touching him, being way too possessive. Now that the smell was no longer covered, every time he saw him, he always ended up hiding in the bathroom with a huge erection between his legs and an equally enormous frustration in his heart. He bite his tongue several times to keep himself from jumping the Omega and possessing him on the bed of that fucking clinic!

The first week had passed without a hitch and yet, every time he sat on the bed and felt Merlin’s hands on him, something in the deepest, darkest part of him awoke, pressing to rise to the surface, shouting the name of his Omega, shouting to take him.

With his heart still pounding and his mind enveloped by these thoughts, he knocked on Merlin’s door, ready for a new session.

As soon as he entered the small room, the sweet and amber smell of his Omega hit him pleasantly, like a warm breeze in a winter evening, causing a slight acceleration of Arthur’s heart.

Wonderful…

Like its owner, who was walking around the room; messed inked hair on his forehead, soft and wet lips, eyes as deep as the sea, high ivory cheekbones slightly red, a slender body wrapped in a blue coat, hands in the pocket, moving frantic.

Jesus he was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

“Good afternoon, Arthur. Get into position as usual. Today, I will do a stronger massage, hoping to help absorbing the hematoma faster and give you more mobility. I see you are no longer using the crutches. Does it mean the pain has diminished?”

“Actually yes, Merlin. Thanks to you." The blond said, placing the bag on one side and quickly taking off his trousers: that part always embarrassed him.

“Perfect. Then, lie down" the doctor invited him.

Arthur did as he was told, covering his groin and his underwear with the over-size and soft t-shirt that he always wore during their sessions, and that perfectly covered the frequent reactions that a specific part of his body had when the brunet put his hands on him.

The blond closed his eyes and sighed as he felt Merlin’s fingertips on his thigh. His warmth so close, his sweet and strong smell entered into his nostrils, his delicious pheromones danced around him.

Yet, something was different in his touch. Something hard rubbed on Arthur’s skin.

Arthur opened his eyes again, looking at Merlin, who suddenly blushed to the tips of the ears, looking down.

Then, the blond took Merlin’s right wrist firmly and raised his right hand, bringing it close to his face.

There, he saw it.

His heart almost collapse when he caught the hand of the brunet with little delicacy, sitting up suddenly and his eyes wide with astonishment. His heart skipped a beat and then, sank into a dark abyss the moment the artificial light of the neon above them lighted up the thin strip of silver making a show of itself on the ring finger of the Omega.

A ring.

A wedding ring.

A promise.

NO!

NO.NO.NO!

Arthur felt something distinctly breaking inside of him, while the bitter awareness of what that object meant made his way slowly into him, tearing apart his soul, burning his eyes, as if it was made of pure fire.

“Who...”

“Do I need to tell you?" the brunet whispered, greatly embarrassed.

The look of the blonde seemed fire, his jaw tensed, his lips narrowed into a thin line and his pheromones went crazy around them, showing his power, while crushing Merlin’s hand in his.

He closed his eyes, trying to slow down the beating of his own heart. He forced himself to breathe, distinctly feeling anger tensing his muscles. Pain spread along his spine, and a blind rage grew in his heart, relentless as the tide.

Merlin looked at him terrified, frightened, feeling from his smell the change in his Alpha’s soul, feeling ire raising from his stomach, knowing that he was the one to have provoked him like that.

He had made a mistake, but it was too late.

Arthur opened his eyes, his irises an ice storm ready to burst, the body tense and permeated by an aura of dark pheromones.

“I do not accept it.” The Alpha roared in a voice so deep to force the Omega to lower his head in submission, domination oozing from his every uttered word, "You are mine and no one else's, Merlin. Is that clear?”

Merlin was shaking, his body shaking unintentionally by shivers: fear, excitement, submissiveness stirred inside of him. He felt the uncontrollable urge, as an Omega, to kneel down, to move his head to the side and to expose his neck…submitted to his Alpha.

“How dare you wear the ring another Alpha gave you? How dare you show it to me?” The blond continued, standing up from the bed and with little grace, snatching the ring from the finger of a trembling Merlin. “You belong to me. You are mine. Why did you do this to me?” He added, attracting the Omega towards him. Then, he took him by the waist and threw him violently on the hospital bed behind him in one fluid motion, mounting on him, covering him with his body, crushing him under the power of his muscles.

Then, everything became dark, strange and ethereal.

Only Merlin’s choked begging in the background.

It was him, yet it was not.

It looked like a dream, in which he watched himself sinking his nose in the neck of the Omega beneath him; biting him, kissing him, tearing his tight white shirt under the coat apart. Arthur trapped Merlin’s slender wrists over his head, pushing his hard erection on the belly of his victim in frantic and jerky movements, while repeating in Merlin’s ear over and over again, "You are mine. Mine! Only mine!” before sucking his soft lobe and biting it strongly, reducing Merlin in a mass of chocked moans.

The brunet had surrendered. He could not resist. The warm body of his Alpha, so beautifully possessive against his, had drove him crazy, putting him in a position of almost complete submission. His Omega nature he had rebelled against for too many years, now was coming back strongly, because, despite the violence in Arthur’s gestures and the pain caused by his bites, the pleasure and excitement his behavior was causing to the brunet had no equal.

Merlin loved feeling his.

He loved that Arthur was reminding him of it. He loved that his Alpha was taking him, wanting him, and was reminding him it with every breath, with every little fiber of that hot and carved body over his, tensed for him, ready to take him, dripping with desire as never before.

Merlin groaned loudly. His body shuddered with pain and pleasure, united in a sublime way, as the Alpha’s tongue explored meticulously his mouth, loving it, enjoying it, dying inside of it. Merlin replied in kind, pursuing it, sucking it, fighting it. His loins rubbed against those of Arthur. Their throbbing erections joined between their bellies in a voluptuous and sublime dance, desperately searching for the other, giving and receiving pleasure. The blond’s fingers of his left hand were so stuck in the soft flesh of his white buttocks that they would leave their marks.

When Arthur pulled away from the mouth of the brunet, he could only hear a whisper coming from his wet lips, saying, "Take me”.

With a low growl, Arthur left Merlin’s mouth to bite his neck, the perfect collarbone, the white chest. Then, he voluptuously licked Merlin’s right nipple, discovering it deliciously red and tense.

“Mine!” He uttered, before sinking his teeth and biting that little dark bulge, tearing a sharp cry from the brunet, steeped in pain and pleasure.

“ARTHUR!” the scream involuntarily slipped off the battered lips of the brunet.

And that was enough to make Arthur come back to his senses.

In a moment, his consciousness claimed back his limbs, and Arthur pulled away from Merlin’s body, jumping back as if an electric shock hit him suddenly.

He took a moment to focus on what he had in front of him.

…He...

His cock hard as stone, throbbing and cruelly locked in his boxers, already wet. The knot at the base of his penis had already begun to swell, in an unworthy show that made him feel ashamed.

His Omega was trembling on an unmade bed, ruffled hair, panting. Red lips with a slight cut on his lower lip, from which came out a bit of blood. His long and snowy neck was terribly flushed, battered by bites and hickeys. His shirt ripped. Signs of his teeth on his nipple. Redness caused by the pressure of Arthur’s fingertips on the brunet’s hips and buttocks (he knew they would soon become small bruises), clearly visible above the elastic band of Merlin’s pants, dangerously lowered, barely containing the erection of his victim.

Arthur distinctly felt his stomach tighten and he felt sick.

He was raping him.

Because of a ring.

Because of a fucking ring.

He had lost control.

And the beast had appeared.

He was about to rape the one person he loved the most in the world. He was about to impose himself, without realizing he was hurting the beautiful Omega in front of him, the one he had sworn never to do harm to.

Just because he felt betrayed.

Just because Merlin had chosen another Alpha and not him.

And in light of this, Merlin did the right thing.

Involuntarily, Arthur huddled up in the far corner of the room, sitting on the floor, knees to his chest and both hands in his completely disheveled blond hair; blue eyes wet with tears. Short and chocked breaths left his lips glossy.

“Merlin, I...God... I don’t know what came over me. I don’t know what I was doing. This is why I can’t be with you. You see what happens to me. When I’m near you, I lose control and I hurt you. It’s a miracle I managed to stop ... if only you had not cried ... a bit longer and I would have...Oh God!”

Merlin was heartbroken at seeing Arthur reduced in that way, because of him. He understood immediately the implications of what the blond was trying to say and fear contracted his stomach.

The Alpha must not think he was about to violate him, otherwise all the progress made so far would be for nothing. His fears would take over and it would be even more difficult to get rid of them.

Merlin readjusted himself, quickly closing the coat and kneeing in front of his Alpha. He took his face in his hands and tried to sound as calm and reassuring as possible, stroking his face with both his hands.

“No, Arthur, listen to me. Your reaction was understandable. I should have not let you see that ring. I should have never put it on to begin with. Calm down, Arthur. You've done nothing wrong. Do you understand? You were only in your Domination Phase. It can happen to any Alpha. What was happening was ... I was ... aware and consenting. Do you understand me?! You were not raping me!”

But Arthur was far away.

His huge and wide-open eyes, staring straight ahead of him, were the same as that child he had seen in the dream. Filled with a dark fear.

The blond looked at him without understanding what Merlin was saying. Everything was strange and muffled around him ... slowed ... while a voice he knew too well kept repeating in his head:

“YOU ARE THE BEAST!”

***

The day had been a disaster!

After what happened, Arthur picked up his clothes hastily and locked himself in the bathroom of the office, while Merlin desperately tried to talk to him and make him come to his senses, without getting a word in response.

Half an hour later, he found out the blond had escaped, using the window.

Shit!

Cursing himself in every possible way, Merlin summarily informed Morgana, because the pang in his heart, that strangled him, didn’t let him think clearly. And honestly, seeing the girl at the moment was the last thing he wanted: a part of him blamed her for what had happened.

M : I should have not put on that fucking ring, Gana. I have pushed him too far and I have lost him!

G:   No, Merl, you haven’t lost him. I know my brother. He does so when he is afraid, but doesn’t stop thinking things through. Give him time. Use the Resonance. I'm sure that now that he is vulnerable, you will be able to speak straight to his heart.

M:   Christ, I hope so, Gana. I hope so.

Chapter Text

The room was dark when Merlin projected his soul there.

He had been in there once, yet he recognized his surroundings effortlessly. The dim light of the few street lamps of the immense park outside the windows reverberated weakly inside the room, drawing the profile of the furniture, the books, the cups, sparkling in the twilight, the pennants on the walls, along with the photos that whispered the moments of a fully lived life of a blond boy with sky blue eyed.

He approached the sumptuous palanquin bed, slowly, cautiously; his footsteps were light as the breaths of the small figure crumpled on the big rampant golden dragon on the crimson cloth, which caught the outside faint light.

Arrived at the foot of the bed, he looked through the light translucent curtain and moved it slightly aside, announcing his presence.

"Arthur..." He whispered weakly.

He was dumbfounded for a moment when he saw a golden-haired child on the blankets, who stared at the sight of him, snuggling even closer to the headboard of the bed, frightened. His hands tightly clasped on his knees against his chest. Merlin had noticed the same expression on his Alpha’s face that afternoon.

Everything of that little figure was shouting 'stay away' but his eyes begged 'help me'.

Jesus, Morgana was right: Arthur was in front of him in his most vulnerable form. Perhaps that was really the right time, the unique and valuable opportunity to reassure him, to calm him down and drag him out of the shadows of his past.

Merlin did his best to focus, letting his Omega pheromones spread around, infusing peace and tranquility in the little one, while he sat next to the child on the bed.

When he tried to take his hand, Arthur pulled away slightly, but Merlin smiled kindly, caressing it slowly, until the child decided to let him take it.

And here's the first contact.

“Arthur, It’s me. I’m here. For you.” Merlin began, rocking the little one’s hand in his, infusing courage and security, "you don’t have to be afraid of me. You never need to fear my presence, Arthur.”

The child seemed to relax at his touch. He got near him slightly, stretching his legs that before he had held to his chest, in a clear sign of relaxation. However, his eyes remained huge and vigilant at every movement of the brunet.

“Today you have run away from me, Arthur. Why?" He asked softly.

“Not to hurt you.” The child began, while his blue eyes became wet with tears, his voice choked, "You saw what happened! I knew it was better for him not to see you. To let you go. I knew he would hurt you, but he didn’t listen. He loves you and cannot let you go, but then ... Oh Merlin I didn’t want to hurt you. I didn’t want to...” He finished, throwing himself into the brunet’s arms and sinking into his embrace. The small body thoroughly shook with strong sobs; his face was hidden against Merlin’s chest; his nose buried in the folds of his shirt.

Merlin’s heart tinged with emotion, responding to the suffering of the little creature in his lap, and the injured man who that form was hiding.

He began to stroke his hair kindly, designing small circles on his skin, gently cuddling him, letting him calm down, doing his best to make his smell sweet, soothing. He whispered slowly, 'I’m here. I'm not going anywhere. I'm here for you’.

When after a while he stopped crying, Merlin pulled back slightly, wiping the tears from his face, still puffy.

“Arthur, I want to help you. Once and for all. I want to help us. I want you to talk to me without fear and remember that whatever you tell me, I won’t leave you. We will face this together. Ok?”

The nod he received heartened him.

“Very good. Tell me, Arthur; your biggest fear is that if you stay with me, if we join physically, you will hurt me, right?” The child nodded slowly and Merlin continued carefully, "This belief has arisen because you saw an Alpha and an Omega mating, and at the end of this coupling, something bad happened to the Omega?”

Arthur looked down and nodded again, clutching strongly his hand, while his blue eyes got wet again, tears barely held. With a small voice, he murmured, “The Omega died. The Alpha killed him. He raped, bitten and scratched him. He didn’t notice the Omega was crying. He didn’t understand he was suffering. He looked like an animal. He was an animal! He hurt him so much, too much and in the end ... in the end...Oh God, there was so much blood, all those signs and nobody cared at all! No one went and helped him! And I saw him dying and couldn’t do anything! My father found it natural. He told me if I ever mate with an Omega, that will be my fate! And I don’t want to hurt you, but I cannot let you go either...”

This time, it was Merlin pulling him and tightening him to his chest, allowing him to cry all the tears in his body, cradling him lovingly.

How could Merlin not have noticed the huge wound his Alpha had?

How could he not have realized how deep the conflict that was tearing his soul apart was?

The deep awareness that all that Arthur had done since he found out he was an Omega (leaving him, cheating on him, pushing away and coming closer again) were not mere whims of a spoiled young and arrogant boy. They were the will of a man with the heart of a child, extremely hurt and deeply afraid, who wanted to take care of the person he loved, to try not to cause him harm, to protect him, by lying even to himself.

Before he knew it, Merlin felt two tears escaping his eyelashes, bringing with them desire, pain, and a complete awareness that was now overflowing in his heart; like his love for this marvelous creature that was his Alpha. He felt their bond growing stronger in the heat of this feeling, which he could no longer held back.

He closed his sea blue eyes and whispered to the shadows.

“I love you, Arthur”

“I know, Merlin. I have always known”

A moment later, two soft warm and humid lips rested on Merlin’s, while two strong arms pulled him forward and lifted his weight, resting him on a long strong and muscular body that he could recognize with his eyes closed.

Merlin closed his eyes, lost in that flavor, in the smell of male, soil and shadow that had always marked his Alpha; the smell he had always loved, that had slipped under his skin and in his heart, from the first time he had felt it.

“Arthur” Merlin said, amazed, while the blond, no longer a child, made him sit astride in his lap, circling his waist possessively; blue eyes still glistening with tears and an adoring expression on his face.

Merlin’s heart skipped a beat.

He was the sweetest, most beautiful and sexiest thing he had ever seen.

And he was his.

…His Alpha…

The brunet pulled away slightly, putting both hands on Arthur’s chest, finding it warm and full of life. He got lost in those sky blue eyes, trying to regain his composure, and feeling they had arrived at a point where both had to face their own demons.

…together…

Timidly, the Omega ran his right hand on his face, stroking him gently, while Arthur buried his face in his hand, trying to steal its heat, whining to his light touch and kissing his palm gently.

“Arthur, forgive me for not understanding sooner. What happened to you is ... God I am speechless! If only I had realized it sooner..." Merlin muttered, continuing to stroke Arthur’s cheek, protective.

“Then you know I didn’t want to break up with you, I didn’t want to leave you. I was trying desperately to find someone to replace you with and get you out of my mind. I had to stay away from you only because I knew I could hurt you, and I didn’t want to... I didn’t realize it was useless, and by doing so I may not have hurt you physically, but I did hurt you anyway… I have hurt the both of us. I kept telling myself it was better that way… you'd find someone who would know how to love you without hurting you, but when I saw you with Cenred...Jesus I could not help wanting you. I felt crushed whenever that bastard approached you. Knowing they were not my hands on your skin; that they were not my eyes that lost themselves in yours; that they were not my lips touching you ... I was going crazy. I was never able to forget you; I could never stop loving you. And today, when I saw the ring on your finger, I ... I tried to control myself, really, but I felt like dying a thousand times in a single second. The idea of knowing that you are bonded to another unleashed such a fury inside of me that I could not contain myself, Merlin. And I have hurt you...”

“Arthur, you have done nothing wrong! I was willing! I was hard!”

“Merlin, I threw you on a bed and I bite you, not to mention the bruises I have left... and if I had not stopped, I would have raped you without any hesitation, just like the beast I saw as a child! I am unable to keep my instincts in check when I'm with you! I can’t do it!”

“Arthur, listen to me. Since I ... well ... accepted my Omega nature, I found out that certain attitudes that Alphas have during their Domination Phase might seem violent, but in truth, we Omegas found them ...pleasant. The bites denote desire and possession, and although they hurt at first, the pleasure they bring to us Omegas is quite strong.

I have never thought it could ever be so… when I saw those of my Species coming to me with bruises and bites, I thought they were crazy to let their Alphas do these things to them, but then...” Merlin looked down, furiously rubbing the red shirt of the blonde in his fingers, blushing deliciously, “…then, when I met you and you declared your love, I began to appreciate what I was... and when you're near me, I WANT you to do these things to me. I long for your marks on my skin. For the Bond mark on my neck. I want to belong to you and I want everyone to see I’m yours.”

Arthur closed his eyes, exhaling a deep breath, a pained expression on his face.

“Merlin, I want it too! God there is nothing I want more than to be with you. But I. DON’T. WANT. TO. HURT. YOU.” The blond began, swallowing. His cracking voice was steeped in despair. “I have always rejected any relationship with Omegas, because I didn’t want to risk losing control. Christ! Then, you appeared... strong and proud, but also mild and sweet...” Merlin felt the hot tears of the other wetting his fingertips. “...you stormed into my life, breaking all my defense… unexpected as a gust of hot wind in a winter night. Before I knew it, you'd stolen the breath from your lungs, you had taken logic away from my thoughts, you had captured my heart... and the more I tried to get away, the more every fiber of myself sought you. The more I tried to regain possession of my life, the more I realized I no longer had one without you. Because I swear, I am yours, Merlin. I always will be, even if I can never have you.”

“No, Arthur. I don’t accept it!” This time it was Merlin’s voice to come out choked from his throat, as he tried to drive the tears back behind his long lashes. "I don’t accept that you are giving up! I don’t accept that you won’t fight for me! For us!”

“Merlin, there is no solution.” Arthur said with shining eyes, “There is not an US to fight for if that contemplates the fact I may hurt you, lose control during my Domination Phase. The only way I have to preserve you, my love, to avoid hurting you, is to let you go. To let you create a new life with another Alpha that has not all my self-control problems. Someone who knows how to love you with sweetness and how to give you everything you need and that I'll never be able to be: an Alpha you can hug and embrace without fear he might do you harm...”

BUT I DO NOT WANT ANOTHER ALPHA! Why can’t you understand that?

Merlin cried, closing his eyes, trying in vain not to show his overwhelming despair, resting his forehead against Arthur’s chest.

This way they were not going to resolve anything.

Arthur was too afraid to go further. There was nothing Merlin could say or do to remove the image the Alpha had of himself: a beast, ready to kill as soon as he let his instincts dominate him.

It would be needless to explain to him that the Omega he had seen died more because of the drugs he had been forced to take than the injuries inflicted by the Alpha.

Simply, he would not believe him...As he did not believe he could control himself...

Therefore, he collected his courage and decided: desperate times call for desperate measures, and he was willing to do anything to convince Arthur not to giving up.

Even to lie.

Trying to remain composed and to appear calm, Merlin began his reasoning, praying his pheromones would not betray him.

“Arthur, this is the problem? The fact that you may lose control and hurt me? There are medical products for that! Medicines an Alpha can take when an Omega approaches his Heat or when he feels the need to. They relax the muscles and the heart, slowing the heartbeat and preventing hyperventilation. This way, the Alpha doesn’t lose control during his Domination Phase. If you ask Gaius to prescribe them to you, I’m certain he will be happy to help you... ”

Arthur's eyes widened in disbelief, hopeful. He opened his lips in an expression of genuine surprise.

“Tell me you're not lying, Merlin!” Arthur said, as he took his shoulders, shaking them slightly. “Is there a remedy? Is there a medicine to prevent the Domination Phase?”

“Of course there is!” Merlin said, trying to sound convincing.

“How is it possible? I made a thousand of researches and I have never found anything about it...”

“Because you are not a doctor! It's an officinal medicine, not an industrial one and few knows how to prepare it. My uncle is specialized in Medicine of Species and he prepares it for many of his hyper-aggressive Alpha patients... He has developed the medicine while working with Dr. Goodwing, a luminary of the Medicine on the Species, whom he worked with many years ago. Tomorrow, when you wake up, you will call Gaius talk to him. You'll see he’ll recommend the best for you.”

Before realizing it, Arthur was hugging him so hard he could feel the Alpha’s heart beating like crazy in his own chest. The pheromones the blond was giving off were a mixture of joy, hope, pride, desire, and Merlin begged God to ensure the Alpha continued to believe his words. This time, the tears he felt escaping from his eyes were of pure joy.

“And now you have no more excuses, Arthur.” Merlin murmured, still tight in Arthur’s arms.

“Merlin, but I don’t understand ... Cenred, the ring ... it was a Bond promise, wasn’t it?”

Merlin sighed, smiling, while Arthur took his face in his hands, wiping gently his red cheekbones with his thumbs in a gesture so sweet, so protective, so Alpha to break Merlin’s heart.

“Arthur, you are my Alpha. You've sniffed me. You know my smell changes when you're near me. You know my body responds to your touch, not to Cenred. The Imprinting has tied us together and my heart will always be yours... but you have to fight for me! You are the one who has pushed me away, don’t you forget it. You'll have to tell me how you feel, Arthur! You don’t have just to want for me to be yours... you have to demand for me to be yours. In the real world, I am not Bonded yet, but if you don’t hurry, Cenred, as an Alpha, will pretend the Bond and I won’t be able and won’t want to deny it to him...”

Jesus, Merlin, if there is really a way not to hurt you; I swear you'll be mine, not matter what”

Merlin smiled sweetly, murmuring, "My valiant prince on a white horse, coming to save me...”

“Hum... This would make you my princess?" Arthur said, faking his puzzlement.

“Definitely NOT!”

“My girl petticoat, then?”

“Not even that! And if you go on, you can forget I may even consider the idea of Bon-” Arthur’s lips swallowed the rest of his sentence.

“You talk too much.” The blond whispered on his mouth, "And you're MINE!”

“I will be, when you catch me," Merlin laughed in mock defiance “If you succeed to, of course...”

“I have already told you once before: not "if" but "when”, Merlin...” He finished, continuing to adorn his white neck with languid kisses, snatching pornographic groans and making his heart beat faster than ever.

Merlin closed his eyes in ecstasy, as his Alpha’s pheromones enveloped him like a warm blanket, dominating him, imposing an absolute surrender, entering under his skin, turning him on with a dark desire, repressed for too long. His Omega pheromones responded at each stirring, promising a sweet surrender, shaping himself under his touch.

Merlin leaned, reaching the ear of blond, languidly whispering, "How about NOW, for example?”

The needy moan Arthur gave him reverberated straight in his lower belly, where his sex was already powerfully hard, tense, painfully restrained by the thin fabric of his tracksuit pants.

Arthur smiled mischievously on his skin, feeling the excitement of his Omega, proud that it was because of him, as his tongue continued to write poems on his neck. His warm and strong hands slid down the back of the brunet, down and down, curiously creeping under the waistband of his boxers, hesitating only a moment before stroking the smooth and hairless skin of Merlin’s butt. Slowly, savoring the texture of the firm flesh beneath his fingers, Arthur pressed his palms hard, possessive, gently touching the cleft between the buttocks. He was rewarded by a delighted moan that escaped Merlin’s rosy lips.

Before realize it, the Omega found himself literally spread on Arthur, straddling him. The blond’s hands squeezed enthusiastically Merlin’s wonderful ass, down again, forcing him to open his legs more and open for him. In the meantime, Arthur’s curious and intrusive fingers reached his most sensitive and hidden place, ripping out from him a strangled groan as soon as he reached it, taking and stroking it languidly, stimulating him, preparing him.

Delighted by the touch, the brunet pitched his fingers on the chest of his Alpha, pushing down on his forearms, arching more to facilitate the movement of Arthur’s fingers, which crept into Merlin slowly. Merlin voluptuously rubbed his erection against that piece of throbbing, hot and huge flesh that was Arthur’s sex, barely restrained by the jeans.

God how much he had wanted to feel Arthur’s body against his again; the voice of his Alpha as he roared 'You are mine' on his alabaster skin. How much he had wanted to belong to him again.

As an Omega to his Alpha.

As Merlin to Arthur.

And now, after almost two months since the breakup, after all the tears, pain, betrayal, hidden truths and wounds that had never healed, they were them again, together again, again united in the desire to belong to each other. He was again in the arms of his Alpha, the one he loved, to whom he was related by blood and destiny.

The happiness and the desire that filled his heart spread in the shadows around them, clearly shouted by the sweetness in his smell, by the strength of his pheromones that went to imprint themselves on his Alpha, declaring love, understanding, loyalty, willingness, passion.

Feeling all this in the smell of the Omega, Arthur’s pupils widened and tinged with a darker desire, while his whole body tensed and stretched under his touch. The kiss that followed, when the Alpha captured Merlin’s lips, was wet, urgent, full of need and promises.

“I want you, Merlin,” Arthur roared lowly, straight on the lips of the brunet, before sinking back into his mouth, with renewed enthusiasm. He explored it carefully, memorizing every nuance of his flavor, impressing in his soul every excited moan and strangled breath that left the brunet’s swollen and wet lips, whenever his fingers rhythmically sank within him, exciting him, preparing Merlin to receive him.

Merlin pulled back slightly, breaking the kiss with a sweet groan, catching his breath and losing his eyes in his Alpha’s sea blue ones, reading in them care, protection, excitement, desire. His red and swollen lips claimed him; his strong jaw and his light hair, which caught the faint light in the gloom; his Adam's apple constantly shifted, while the Alpha swallowed; the strength of his hands, of his muscles, rippling beneath the fabric, tensed for him...

Christ Arthur was pure, pure perfection.

His Alpha was pure perfection.

And his smell was ... God ... musky, strong, dominant, sublime, so virile and powerful to cloud his vision, making him lose his mind. Merlin trampled his pride, ripping every hint of shyness, reducing him to a soul that implored attention and love. Making him fully Omega.

With only one desire.

"Take me, Arthur. Take me!”

Merlin could not say if he had spoken those words or if he had simply thought them. However, with a powerful movement, Arthur lunged, rising to his knees on the bed, making the brunet lose his balance. Merlin found himself lying on his back, with his legs slightly raised and around the Alpha’s hips, who was in full Domination Phase. Arthur roared low over him, taking Merlin’s shirt off, almost ripping his pants and underwear apart, leaving him naked beneath him.

Arthur groaned for a moment at the sight of the white and slender body of his Omega. His disheveled raven hair fell over his forehead; his blue eyes shined in the gloom; his rosy lips were wet, apart and demanding kisses, while his sweet and amber smell flowed into Arthur’s lungs, absolutely warm and wonderful. It turned every atom of his into pure desire, so much that his blood had turned into lava in his veins. Arthur’s brain could not process another thought but:

MERLIN. OMEGA. MINE. MINE. ONLY MINE. TAKE HIM. TAKE HIM. TAKE HIM. NOW. HE WANTS YOU. TAKE HIM. NOW.

A moment later, Arthur took his shirt off and freed his Alpha erection from the Jeans, putting it on Merlin’s belly in the exact moment he covered him with his muscular body, returning to kiss passionately.

Feeling Arthur’s sex, heavy and hard in contact with his, the smell of his manhood so strong and musky, skin against skin, unleashed a hormonal reaction in Merlin, so powerful that the Omega’s body was shocked for a moment by an involuntary shiver.

Arthur felt it clearly. He stopped, dumbfounded. He buried his nose in Merlin’s neck to understand what was happening to his mate, to make sure he had not hurt him, sniffing and licking the glands at the base of the neck.

Only then, he did notice the smell of the Omega was suddenly different. It was always wonderfully amber, but stronger and with a new profoundly sweet note that shocked Arthur.

It made his hair stand on end on the neck and his muscles were even tenser, while his body and his brain recognized what an Alpha craves above everything: his Omega’s Heat.

Merlin was in Heat.

The brunet blushed as he felt a bubble of warm liquid trickling between his buttocks and his body becoming a mass of quivering jelly. He craved above anything else in the world a hard, big, throbbing Alpha cock, firmly planted inside of him, with a nice knot to make him scream, as it had never happened.

Jesus! Arthur has the power to make me go into Heat.

His Omega body had recognized his soulmate in his Alpha and the Imprinting had automatically predisposed him to mate, with or against his will.

When he looked up at Arthur’ eyes, he found them so dark and wet with desire to scare him.

Nothing excites an Alpha more than an Omega in heat.

Nothing makes him lose control more than that.

And Arthur had clearly sunk into Domination Phase.

He ignored Merlin’s choked moans, while licking and biting his neck, well intentioned to leave his mark. He roared with pleasure as he heard him scream whenever he sucked a nipple, sinking his teeth, possessive. He whined happily, while biting the slim and white hips of the Omega, tearing moans of pleasure from his mate, mixed with strangled cries of pain.

Merlin called him, but Arthur didn’t hear him, deeply lost in the sensations the Omega’s body beneath him was giving him. He was frantically searching for his own pleasure, to dominate the other, to possess his heart, body and soul.

And Merlin was fine with it.

Even in this very 'violent' moment, despite the bites, the scratches and the fingers, sunk too deep into his skin, Arthur was unconsciously able to dominate himself. He didn’t make Merlin bleed or didn’t tore his skin. He didn’t hit nor abuse him (as it happened with many Alphas). Actually, the pain of the domination mixed with the pleasure of being dominated (typically Omega, in a unique chemistry that united the dominated with his dominant person) excited him mentally and physically, in a way that he could not describe, astounding him.

He knew it.

He knew Arthur was not the beast he claimed to be, that he was always afraid to become.

He was just a child, too scared of his fear of hurting the person he loved.

However, every rational thought he had was torn from him when the Alpha stood on his knees and spread Merlin’s legs. Merlin was able to observe the Alpha for a moment in all his power, drawing avidly the shape of his broad shoulders, the muscles of his chest, the tense abdominal. Then, he looked further down at his sex, obscenely huge and towering among his pubic hazel hair. It was hard as stone and languidly throbbing. The dark and swollen tip was beaded with drops of liquid, which slowly trickled on the wet and tense glans. At the base, Merlin could already see the slight bulge of his Knot.

God, he was glorious!

In a moment, Merlin felt a twinge of shame, making his cheeks red. He was nothing in comparison. In a scoring notation, where one was ‘being a toad’ and ten meant ‘being a God’, he was a mere six minus, against Arthur’s ten plus. He was thin, pale and angular, absolutely devoid of any physical attractiveness.

Arthur could have whomever he wanted: much prettier, gifted Alphas, Betas and Omegas, ready to submit to him completely and that would give anything to be chosen by him as a mate for life.

What had he to offer in return?

Nothing at all. This was the truth.

Arthur seemed to sense his thoughts, sniffing discomfort in the pheromones his Omega was emitting. With one hand, the brunet tried to cover himself, looking away embarrassed.

The Alpha immediately covered him again with his body, roaring lowly a 'Mine’ on his skin, nibbling his right cheekbone and licking it a moment after with a heartbreaking sweetness. His Alpha pheromones enveloped him like a warm blanket, comforting him, shouting his name, reminding him his mate had chosen him and wanted him, desired him, that he was wonderful beyond everything else.

And if that may have not been enough to make him understand what Arthur felt for him, for sure the Alpha’s red and swollen lips leaving a trail of wet kisses on his neck, chest, belly, and then, positioning himself strategically on his sex was an excellent tool of conviction.

His blood turned into lava, raging with great warmth in his belly, when Arthur’s mouth landed without hesitation on the base of his sex, starting to ... Oh God ... kiss, lick, suck and nibble lightly the flesh with his teeth, ripping from Merlin an endless series of groans and moans, dripping with pleasure.

When Arthur’s torturer tongue licked his glans, Merlin arched involuntarily, pushing his hips upward. However, the Alpha put a hand on his belly, holding him down, while with a deep lick he went from the base of the penis to the tip. Then, Arthur opened his mouth and lowered himself down, accepting his erection in his mouth, surrounding it with his warmth and softness, testing Merlin’s flavor and texture.

Merlin could not even remember his own name.

He could not see, he could not hear anything but the absurd, meaningless pleasure Arthur’s mouth was giving him; his tongue on his frenulum; the light bite on his penis that forced his back to arch, his muscles to tense up under the care of his Alpha, until it became too much.

Everything was too much.

The heart in his throat, the pleasure of being taken and dominated by the man he loved, mixed with the physical pleasure, led him to climax. His latest sensation was of his seed pouring out of his body nonstop, while the hot and humid cave, that was the mouth of his torturer, appeared to be closing in on him again and again, hungrily swallowing every drop of his essence, leaving Merlin exhausted and supplicant.

“Mine” Arthur roared, when his lips left his sex. With little grace, the Alpha lifted him without effort; eyes darkened with desire, as he forced Merlin to turn around. Then, he pushed him to lay face down on the red bedspread, which put even more in evidence the ivory pallor of his slim body.

“Mine, MINE, my Omega. So beautiful, so fertile, MINE.” He roared again, licking his neck, while positioning himself better between his legs, raising his pelvis and aligning himself to his rim, oozing hormones, completely relaxed and waiting to be breached by his Alpha.

“Yes, Arthur” Merlin moaned, excited again, the pleased that still clouded his mind, “Yes... take what’s yours, Alpha!”

Arthur groaned and entered him in one fluid motion. A firm push and Merlin’s muscles contracted, wrapping him in his heat, clouding his vision because of the intensity of the feeling of his sex that disappeared in that living and throbbing cave. Arthur was amazed at how the body of his Omega was perfect to host him, at how he managed to sink in it completely, without fear of hurting him, as if he had been created especially for him.

Merlin groaned loudly, clutching the sheet and closing his eyes, as Arthur’s penis pushed rhythmically deeply, taking his breath away from his lungs, giving him a wonderful feeling of fullness, mixed with pain because of the size of the Alpha within him. Thank goodness the oils, produced by his heat, and the inclination of his body to receive the mate faded the pain, amplifying the feeling of pleasure.

Gwaine was right about that.

Once you 'try' sex with an Alpha, there’s not turning back!

With both hands firmly planted on Merlin’s buttocks, Arthur began to move feverishly inside of his Omega, with fast and determined movements of his hips. The sound of his swollen and full testicles against Merlin's ass filled the silence between the broken groans of the brunet, bringing him more to the bottom of that soft and tight channel with smooth and warm walls that enveloped Arthur like a second skin.

"Ahh...Arth...Ahhhhh...yes..." Merlin whispered in a pornographic groan, smothered by the blankets, losing himself completely to his Alpha.

“My Omega.” Arthur roared, low, more like a beast than a man, “Mine and mine alone! You belong to me. Your body, your mind, your belly, they are mine to own and to use for my own pleasure. You exist for me, my sweet little Omega. You smell deliciously. You’re so wonderfully fertile. Your uterus will soon house the children I will plant within you. All mine! And God you will be so wonderfully round and pregnant with my children that I will not stop kissing your belly, not for a minute. I will take care of you, as you deserve. I will give you my knot every time you want. I will love you, taking you again and again, filling you of me, so much you will beg me to stop, making you feel so good you will beg me to give you a break. And when you do, I will continue to possess you with desire, until I satisfy you! Until I make you mine: body, mind and soul. Only mine!”

Merlin moaned loudly at that, completely excited again by the possessiveness of his Alpha above and inside of him. Arthur buried his sex deeper and deeper into the body of his Omega, setting a fast pace, hard, until he felt the knot at the base of his penis beginning to swell at the entrance of the narrow orifice that he was violating with so much wealth.

“Yes, Arthur. Yours and only yours, my Alpha. Take me; possess me. I love you as I've never loved anyone else in my life. I love being in your arms. I wanna be yours! My body belongs to you and I will adore being pregnant with your children. I want to feel you inside of me, Arthur...!”

The Alpha pushed as deep as possible with one last thrust, while his Knot swelled, completely blocking the entry of Merlin’s soft channel, finally tying them. The Alpha’s massive testicles banged, now more slowly, against those of his Omega, stimulating him. The Knot rubbed gently against Merlin’s prostate, giving him an intense pleasure, forcing him to come several times against the fabric of the soft red bedspread beneath them.

Arthur roared in satisfaction and pleasure, feeling the soft walls of the soft and warm hole, in which he was buried, starting to contract rhythmically around his Knot, squeezing him and making him come profusely, as he felt his balls emptying, pouring into the body of the Omega beneath him, who breathed deeply, satisfied, moaning with pleasure.

Merlin was lost in the wonderful feeling of his Alpha above him and in him. He was absolutely at peace at feeling Arthur’s seed filling him in constant and warm waves, while his Knot continued to stimulate him slowly, causing him to come again and again, giving him happiness and absolute perfection.

A moment later, Arthur’s warm tongue languidly licked the base of his neck, stimulating the glands under the skin. Then, he sank his teeth to impress the bite of the Bond, and gently licked the mark, clearly visible, that established his domain on the Omega.

Arthur laid down on his side, embracing Merlin’s waist and doing the big spoon behind him. He refilled his neck and shoulders with small gentle kisses, cuddling him and taking care of him, burying his nose in his black hair, enjoying his smell of lavender and sun. He was fully happy to feel his Knot, tying them, still firmly anchored in the body of his Omega, well determined to never let him slip from his arms.

He fell asleep, whispering in Merlin’s ear a sweet, “I love you, Merlin”.

Before the shadows enveloped him completely, Arthur thought he heard a whisper in the night.

“I love you too, my sweet and wonderful prince...”

Chapter Text

That morning, it had not been the trill of the alarm to wake Gaius up, but the annoying ringing of his phone, which forced him to rush down the stairs, while trying to put his glasses on, still asleep.

Sometimes the life of a doctor was hard!

Could it be Mrs. Otis? Yet, there is still a month until the childbirth ... or Mr. Dalton? Few patients have my home phone number...

When at the other end of the phone he heard his nephew’s voice, his heart clenched in his chest, while his mind was beginning to explore the darkest hypothesis.

“Merlin! Are you all right? What happened?”

“Calm down, Uncle! Why do you think there should be something wrong?”

“Because it is dawn, boy. I am still asleep. You never call me in the morning and as we'll see each other at the clinic in about three hours, although I'm not Sherlock Holmes, I’m assuming it's something urgent!”

“Okay, okay. It's an important thing in fact. I have to ask you a big favor...”

“Well, tell me, boy... if I can help you, I’ll do it gladly...”

“So, there is the possibility ... well… that Arthur will phone you and ask you...Oh God I know it sounds weird, uncle, but he’ll ask you a medicine that blocks an Alpha’s Domination Phase...”

The laughter that flowed spontaneously from the throat of the elderly doctor made him almost doubled over as he held his stomach.

Oh God...boy, what are you saying? It would be as if a patient were to ask me a pill to change sex or to let him grow a kidney or a third leg! It does not exist and it will never exist such medicine!”

“I know, uncle, I know! I am a doctor too!”

“Yes, of course... WHO put into Arthur Pendragon’s head that there is a medicine that can suppress the Domination Phase in an Alpha?”

“Does it matter?”

“It does when I have to lie to a patient, Merlin. I could be disbarred for that, without counting I would be the joke of the country and the clinic and the reputation I have built at the cost of years and years of work would be destroyed in a matter of a week or less!”

“Uncle, I know I'm asking a lot. I know the risks and what's at stake if Arthur goes and tell around, but he will not do it. And it is the only way to make him let go. You may prescribe him an anti-arrhythmic or beta-blockers to slow his heart rate...”

“They would be absolutely useless, especially during the Domination Phase! The Alpha hormonal chemistry is too strong. It cannot be blocked in any way. That’s why there are no suppressors for Alphas, but only for Omegas! It’s Chemistry of the Species!”

“Yes, but they would serve in the run-up to keep the subject more relaxed...”

“I will not prescribe Lidocaine to a perfectly healthy Alpha, who does not suffer of tachycardia! Not because it is dangerous, but because it is simply unnecessary...”

“Uncle, I need you to prescribe it to him. Alternatively, a placebo, without telling him. Give him whatever you want, but he MUST believe he can maintain control during the domination phase!”

“Merlin, asking an Alpha to "dominate" himself during the ‘Domination Phase’ is like asking water not to be wet! It’s a joke!”

“I perfectly know it, but he does NOT! Uncle, please! PLEASE! If you don’t convince him a medicine like this exist, he will never have the courage to step forward and claim me. And I will spend the rest of my life pinning in regret for not having been able to Bond my Alpha to me...!”

“Ahhhhh how melodramatic you are!”

“Uncle, I've never asked you for anything. But now, I am asking you this and I am doing it with my heart in hand! Do it for me.”

Gaius stood for a moment in silence, wiping his lips. “Okay lad. I'll think about it. However, I cannot promise you anything!”

“Oh thank you! Thank you!”

“Hey, I didn’t say YES!”

“I know, I know! It’s enough for me, uncle. See you later!”

“See you later, my boy! But I demand further explanations..."

"Promised, uncle! I love you!”

Gaius exhaled a deep breath, before lowering his head in the palms of his hands as soon as he ended the call. Then, he sat on the leather armchair in the living room and looked out of the window. The gentle movement of the foliage of the weeping willow in his garden, lazily caressed by the morning wind, was somehow comforting...

How much was it worth the true happiness of his nephew? Was he willing to throw away his career and his reputation for him?

Will's death had torn his heart apart once. He had thought Merlin would have never recovered. He had thought bitterly about the month in which the boy was left hanging between life and death, inert in a bed. And he, with all his medical knowledge, with all his love, could not make him feel better.

In that moment, he had sworn to God and to himself that if there was anything he could do to save him, he would give anything, pay any price, just to be able to save Merlin from the darkness he had sunk in.

And God had listened to him.

He had given Merlin the strength to react, to survive, but had demanded the soul of the boy in exchange, who had locked himself in a castle made of thorns, inaccessible to any Alpha. He had started to deny his Omega nature for a long, long time, drugging himself with suppressors, giving up having a normal life.

Then, Arthur Pendragon came, disrupting Merlin’s life. A perfect Alpha with a too important surname. Proud and passionate beyond belief, worthy son of his father.

And that boy had managed to snatch Merlin from his oblivion. He had managed to make him live again. He had managed to make him fall in love with him.

And the Imprinting between them was more than a sign of destiny.

It was something rare, unique and wonderful, that nature rarely manifested, and that bounded two people in the soul, in the existence, in the heart, before that in the body.

And now his nephew, always strong and independent, had asked him for a favor for the first time in his life.

A favor that could destroy him as a doctor.

How much was Merlin’s happiness worth?

After losing Will, the answer was only one: that boy was the only joy in the world that he still had.

And he would do what he had asked him, to honor his ancient promise to the God that had listened to him and saved Merlin.

He would pay his debt, whatever the price was.

And deep down, he was happy to do it.

Whatever was going to happen, looking back, he would have been proud to donate a hope and a smile to his nephew, those that were denied to Will a long time ago.

The soft chair welcomed his sleep and the shy smile on the lips of the old man showed no signs of disappearing...

 

An hour later, he was awakened again and this time, it was the ringing of his phone.

The old man roused from his sleep, wishing for the sound of his alarm clock. It would have been a long morning, if it had started like this...

He leaned across the table to reach the phone, putting on his glasses and clearly reading on the screen, “Calling: Morgana Pendragon”.

…interesting…

“Morgana?” The old man asked, answering.

“No, Doctor. Forgive me; I have stolen my sister's mobile phone to have your number. It’s Arthur, Morgana's brother. We met about a month ago at Gwaine’s ... for lunch ... do you remember? You are Merlin’s uncle, aren’t you?”

Arthur had called him. Exactly as Merlin had predicted.

This explained why his nephew had awakened him at dawn: it must have had something to do with a Resonance, because he was old and wise enough not to believe in coincidences....

“Yes, Arthur. I remember you perfectly well ... you're Merlin’s ex-boyfriend ... right?”

“I’m, sir. I have made many mistakes with your nephew; but believe me, what I did was only to protect him. I know you cannot understand me, because the situation is complicate between Merlin and me but please, believe me… I am trying to make things right and I need your help...”

“Arthur, I'd like to have a long talk with you one of these days, but for now I’ll postpone it ... what do you want from me?”

“You will find it an absurd question, but ... is there a medicine or officinal remedy that allows an Alpha to maintain control during his Domination Phase?”

“Why do you ask, boy?”

“I... It is difficult to explain, but it's very important to me. Would you please just tell me if this medicine exists?”

Arthur's voice contained a barely concealed note of desperation. The old man caught it clearly and that broke his heart. He was not used to hear a young Alpha begging ... especially a Pendragon, and this was enough to make him understand how much the words that he would decide to speak in a second could weigh on the fate of those two young men.

Gaius took a deep breath.

The show begins and whatever else happens to occur...

***

Morgana closed her eyes when her brother embraced her, enjoying the warmth of the gesture that had not happen in a long, long time.

She felt his tears on her neck.

Apparently, he and Merlin had reached a turning point.

 

That morning, Arthur had rushed to her room and she had thrown a pillow at him, seeing him looking in her bag and taking her phone without saying a word.

“Arthur, what the hell are you doing? Stop rummaging in my bag ... if you want a lipstick you just need to ask...”

“Witty! I need your phone… it’s an emergency! Do you have Gaius’s phone number?”

“Merlin’s uncle? Yes, I should have it... Explain to me, please?”

“Later. Promise.” The blond said, stealing her phone and starting to scroll through the speed dial, leaving the room with the same speed with which he had entered.

For her part, Morgana had stood up and put her purple robe on, now unable to go back to sleep. She had been overly curious about her brother’s behavior, who meanwhile had locked himself in his room.

Eavesdropping had been useless, so she had gone into the kitchen to start preparing breakfast, while her brain had sifted thousand hypotheses and possibilities ... Gaius ... the ring ... the mess with Arthur ... a Resonance? Almost certainly ... after all, it had been she who had adviced Merlin to contact him in the dream... but what the hell had happened? Why her brother had to speak with Ga ... No! Not with Gaius ... with a doctor specialized in Medicine of Species ... what the hell had Merlin been able to do?

When Arthur had come down the stairs and rushed into the kitchen, Morgana had offered him a hot croissant, hoping to get some information.

A moment later, he was in her arms.

The blond was hugging her strongly, burying his nose in her white neck, holding her close like when they were children and he had quarreled with their father and took refuge to her, needing her help, her comfort, her love .. . She felt his wet eyes and the slight trembling of his muscles, which held her as if not wanting to let go.

Morgana began to caress his hair, as she used to do as a child, knowing the gesture would help her brother to calm down, while her other hand was drawing large circles on his muscular back. Her pheromones wrapped him gently, promising love, understanding and protection.

“Arthur, brother... what happened?” she asked in a soft whisper to the ear of the young man, "You know I'm here for you. Tell me, Artie...”

The blond pulled away slightly, so that he could look at her, losing his wet blue eyes in the her emerald ones, holding out his lips in a slight and loving smile.

“You were right, Gana. You've always been right. About me. About Merlin. About wanting us together. I thought it was impossible. But now there’s a hope to get closer to him again ... God I have been so stupid and blind ... and maybe it's too late...”

Morgana could not believe her ears: finally. Finally, things had begun to take the right turn between him and Merlin.

The smile on her red lips was beaming, as she slipped the croissants in her brother’s mouth and urged him to tell her everything, holding his hand. Suddenly, they were kids again; they shared words, hopes and dreams, past and future.

Arthur had needed most of the morning. He had opened up completely to his sister, not leaving out anything.

From the forced reproduction their father had forced him to watch as a child, to his categorical refusal of Omegas. From his darkest fears to become a beast, to the first time he'd seen Merlin. How he dreamed about him constantly, desperately desiring him with every fiber of himself. From his suffering for leaving him, to the hope of being able to get him back. From the fear of hurting him, to the dream of the night before. And finally, to the phone call with Gaius.

Morgana had sat still, sipping her mint tea and listening intently to every word coming out of her brother’s mouth, completely empathetic about her feelings. A mixture of love and pride took hold of her, when in the end she embraced him tenderly, kissing him on forehead.

“Gaius has asked me to see him outside the clinic at midday. He has promised to prepare the medicine this morning and he will give it to me, unseen by Merlin.”

“It seems perfect to me! What is the problem then?”

Arthur smiled weakly.

“The problem is that Merlin has Cenred’s ring on his finger. It’s a Bond Promise. They have been together seriously, Gana. And I ... God ... yesterday I almost raped him... then, I ran away through the window, because I had not the courage to face his contempt. At this point, he must hate me!”

“But you're Arthur Pendragon! When have difficulties ever stopped you from getting what you wanted? You love Merlin. And I’m sure he loves you too... even if you have been a jerk, selfish bastard…even if justifiable! Arthur, you have to be strong for him. You are a Prime for God’s sake! Grow a pair! You have a love rival? Make Merlin understand you want him. That you love him and respect him as Omega. That you're ready to create the Bond with him! And you'll see there will be nothing he can deny you.”

“Why, Gana? Why should he break his promise with Cenred? He is ahead of me. He shows he cares about Merlin. That he cares and protects him, as I have not been able to do. Why should he choose me at this point?” Arthur asked, talking more to himself than to his sister.

“Because he loves you, stupid fat-head! And if you had not been so full of problems, you would still be together, making preparations for your wedding! He has faced his demons for you! He has changed for YOU! He doesn’t want Cenred. He wants YOU! He is with Cenred because he cannot have you! Because he is sure you don’t want him as an Omega! Make him understand it is not true! Fight for him. Take him. Claim him. Make him yours, Arthur! He is waiting for you. However, Cenred will not wait long to Bond him to himself during his next Heat...”

Those words hit the mark, because Arthur’s eyes tightened into a thin line, as well as the muscles of his body twitched in his chair. His hands clenched into a fist, so tight to whiten his knuckles, while the Alpha spirit in him awakened.

“I will never leave him to Cenred!”

“Perfect, brother! It was what I wanted to hear from you!!!” Gana said, getting up and rubbing her hands. She grabbed her phone, “And that's why from now on, you will do exactly what I ask you to do ... we go to war!!”

***

Merlin was locked in the small bathroom of his uncle’s office. His heart was beating so hard to be heard in his ears.

He had needed most of the morning to explain to his uncle what had happened in those past months: the pain, the Resonances, the Council, Cenred, Morgana’s plans and everything else.

Thanks God, his uncle had been listening in silence, asking a few questions he had answered a little embarrassed. Eventually, Gaius realized the deception his nephew had asked him to perpetrate was basically a white lie, made with good intentions, to stir Arthur from the quicksand of fears that had swallowed him as a child.

At the end of the story, Gaius had hugged him. He had told him Arthur had called him that morning and that he had offered him to prepare the fateful "Medicine", and that he would come to pick it up around midday.

And now, his uncle was in the other room, talking to his Alpha and telling him a lot of nonsense about how to use the miracle pill with the power to cancel the Domination Phase.

God, just knowing there was just a door to separate them ... hearing his voice, his scent, upset him to tears.

He wanted him in a way he had never experienced in his life.

He wanted him as an Omega craves his Alpha.

When he had woken up that morning, completely shocked and wet with sweat and sperm, the base of his neck, where Arthur had put the bite of the Bond during the Resonance, was red and it hurt him a lot.

His body, besides his spirit, yearned to be owned by his Alpha, so much that now it no longer answered him. He had to try to shake Arthur quickly or he would not be able to maintain the deception.

Just the thought of being touched by another Alpha repelled him. It was as if the Bond had already formed. The Imprinting united them in a subliminal level, so deep to make it almost hurt. The only thought to comfort him was that if he was feeling this way toward Arthur, then Arthur had to also feel this constant sense of lack, despair… compounded by his intimate problems with Omegas.

He took a deep breath when he heard the office door closing. Arthur was gone and Gaius knocked on the bathroom door.

“You can come out now, boy” It was all his uncle said, before seeing him coming out of the closet, red up to the ears. “Everything is all right. He believed it. He told me he has serious intentions toward you. I told him if he hurts you again, I will personally look for him and kill him ... but I don’t think I will have that pleasure...”

Merlin smiled weakly, embarrassed. “I hope so, Uncle! Thank you for what you've done. I know how much it has cost you and I will not ask you anything like this ever again...”

Gaius stood up from his chair and hugged him gently, rocking him for a moment.

“Son, there is nothing I would not do in this life to see you happy. And I feel you will be happy with Arthur. I love you, Merlin. I'll always love you and I will always be there for you.” The old man finished, squeezing him strongly, touched to feel Merlin hugging him back, strong.

“I love you too, Uncle." The brunet finished, with a sense of hope and happiness that he had not felt for a long time.

“So do I, boy. Now, go and get something to eat, before going to the hospital this afternoon. I have to go to Mrs. Otis’s house to check on her. Oh by the way. Arthur gave me this for you. He asked me if I could give it to you ... I told him there would be no problems," The old man finished, handing Merlin a white envelope with his name written on it.

The handwriting was unmistakably Arthur’s.

Merlin took it from the old man, as if it was the most precious of the treasures.

As soon as his uncle closed the door of the office, Merlin opened the envelope with a slight tremor of his hands and took out three papers, all written in a thread-like and elegant handwriting.

With his heart in his throat, he began to read:

My dear Merlin,

Forgive me if I don’t have the heart to tell you in person what upsets me inside, but for now writing is the only way I can pull out the essence of what I have in my heart.

And that essence is you.

I know you are promised to another.

I know I screwed up.

I don’t even know if you want to read what I have to tell you; I don’t even know if you will open this damn letter. But I hope that my words will still reach you.

The first time I saw your eyes, I got lost in their depth and I think I have never really been able to find myself again. You have captivated me from the first moment I met you, in that pub, when I was still a stupid Alpha, too arrogant to notice the essence of what was around me.

Yet, I noticed you. And your strength. And the grace you had fought me with without a shred of fear.

I had hated and loved you from the first moment.

And I knew right away any struggle to get you away from my mind would have been in vain, because the more I knew you, the more I wanted you. The more I lost myself in your smile, in the wonderful person you were and still are, the more I realized my only desire was to share every breath of my life with you.

I thought I was the stronger one, between the two of us.

How wrong I was...

The night you finally reciprocated my feelings was the best time of my life. I remember your eyes, blue, deep as the ocean, full of desire, like mine. I remember that when my hands trembled as I asked you to be mine, you had caressed my face and wrapped me in a hug I never wanted to end.

That kind of embrace that whispers to the heart, "Do not worry, I'm here for you...”.

Then a laugh. Then a kiss that swept away my insecurities and messed up my world, because Christ you were mine. Only mine. And nothing mattered anymore, because that night you had become the center of my universe.

I remember the moments we have spent together. A sunny afternoon in the park: you were reading a book, my lips on yours and you holding my face in your hands, kissing me and whispering, "We'll be fine together. Everything will be fine. I’m yours as you are mine.”

And I wanted nothing else, because my heart felt safe, beating in your chest.

I thought I had found my center. I thought I could face the world because you were giving me strength. Knowing I had you by my side made me grow in consciousness each day, gave me an inner peace I had always tried to find without results, before meeting you.

Then I found out you were an Omega.

My world had stopped moving and my demons got the better of me.

I had cursed myself a thousand of times the day I left you, in the woods in front of the lake.

Because I had felt betrayed and I didn’t understand that, instead, you were the one that had felt betrayed. You, before me, had faced your darkest fears to allow me to take hold of your heart. You had fought with yourself to have me, accepting the possibility of suffering, to be hurt, sacrificing your pride to give me a chance to get close to you. Because you loved me deeply and I, stupid beyond words, had took that sacrifice and crushed it, drowning it in a grave of bitterness and regret.

Because I thought I knew everything, but in truth, I knew nothing. About myself, about life and about you.

And there, I lost my heart.

The worst part had not been leaving you, Merlin. The worst part had not been the pain. The worst part had not been hurting you and hurting myself until I no longer had a heart that could bleed; nor had been betraying you, only in order to feel less stupid and alone.

The worst part had been understanding I didn’t have a life without you. I had never had one.

The worst part had been seeing you slipping through my fingers, in the arms of another, and knowing I was the one to have made you do it. That I had hurt you in every possible way, just to hurt myself even more.

Now it is my turn to fight my demons, for you.

Because, God help me, I am foolishly, hopelessly, madly in love with you.

And I know that it is unfair to tell you now and that you have all the rights to reject me and to have a new life with another Alpha; but please, believe me… I have never stopped loving you and everything I have done I have done it to protect you, even if now you cannot understand it.

One day I hope to find a way to tell you about my past, to make you understand what I felt and what I'm feeling.

However, I am not afraid anymore.

Some time ago, you told me I had to find out what I wanted. That you would not accept anything less than the Bond and that I had to want you as an Omega.

Well, that’s it.

I want you by my side. As a friend, as a lover, as a man and as an Omega.

I want to be your Alpha and to tie you to me for the rest of my days.

I want to take you, to own your body, your heart and your soul.

And I will fight for you. I will fight to get you back.

If there is a little hope that some of what you used to feel for me is still there in your heart, then, please, please give me a chance and I swear on my life, that I will take care of you and never hurt you again.

I have been a stupid fool once, but I have learned my lesson.

I love you.

I learned this too. And I am not afraid to say so.

I hope you will give me the opportunity to convince you with facts, as well as with these words, which I hope you will read. They come from my heart to yours.

With all my heart.

Arthur Pendragon”

Merlin's heart had stopped, trapped in his throat as he swallowed hard to return it back into his chest.

The hand that had run to cover his mouth as he read, now was running free on his flushed cheeks to collect the tears that had escaped his eyes, while the words of his Alpha imprinted themselves in his blood, enrolling in his mind.

The words that he had never said.

The words he had hoped to hear all his life.

…from him.

The words Arthur had had the courage to send along with his heart, which was beating, buried in those letters, mixed with the ink with which they had been written.

And Merlin cried.

He had found his Alpha once again.

Chapter Text

“Are you ready, Merlin?”

“I’m ready, Cenred. Let me get my bag” The Omega said, sorting himself out. Stonewashed jeans wrapping his legs, black Converse All Stars, a not too tight white T-shirt and a light jacket. Long disheveled hair fell over his eyes.

“Gana told me she is outside with Arthur. He came to pick you up, probably to declare his love and Gana has offered to give him a ride (but in truth, she has followed him to give him the courage to take this step). So this is the final chapter of our play...”

Merlin took a deep breath.

“I'm scared, Cenred.” He whispered finally, “There are moments in life when you're willing to fight, to sacrifice, to live every breath to pursue an idea, a person, a moment of infinity. And, as you struggle desperately for what you want, you turn around and you realize it's right there, one step from you, what you've always wanted, so much that if you stretch your hand you can reach it... Yet, there is a leap to make to reach the other side. A defining moment of what could be the rest of your life. And if at one hand, you cannot wait to make that leap, on the other hand you have a tremendous fear because you know everything will change. That the price has been paid. And you hope everything you have fought and suffered for would be beautiful and perfect. That it was worth it...”

The brown haired man cupped his face in his hands, affectionate, losing his hazel eyes in Merlin’s ones. He gave him a sweet smile, his Alpha pheromones reassuring him.

“Merlin, have I ever told you you are a wonderful person? I envy Arthur because he has your love. If I wanted an Omega by my side, it would be you. Thank heaven I met you again. You will always have my support, if you ever need it. Remember it!”

The brunet embraced him tenderly, whispering a faint "Thank you”

“And now let’s go making that Dollop-Head jealous for the last time! Have you put the ring on? Good! I will do a thing... and I need you to go along with it. Do you trust me?”

Merlin smiled. “I do! But be careful! He promised to fight for me!”

“That's what I hope, Merl! I have a promise to keep and a prize to collect by someone who is close to my heart. I am also about to sacrifice myself...”

“Now you are scaring me, Cenred...”

“Please! I am glad to do it! Besides, I have always wanted to kiss you!”

Merlin's eyes widened suddenly, stopping in his tracks. “kis...WHAT? Are you crazy?!? Arthur will kill you...”

“I’m counting on it! I recommend you reciprocate with passion! Now, let's go, my dear! It’s showtime...” Cenred finished, smiling, taking his hand and walking fast toward the hospital door, dragging Merlin behind.

***

It was eight o'clock in the evening as they left from the sliding door, hand in hand. The leaden and dark sky above them, in which the first shadows of the evening extended themselves, did not bode well.

Merlin's eyes instinctively went to look for the ones of the blond, finding them right in front of him. Involuntarily, he tightened Cenred’s hands more.

His Alpha had never looked so beautiful. His blonde hair, slightly ruffled on his forehead, captured the streetlights wonderfully. His hands were hidden in the pockets of the jeans. His black shirt was open at the front, showing off his perfect body, his wonderfully designed muscles, his biceps and forearms, in evidence, tense. In his strong and majestic neck soared the Adam's apple, moving relentlessly. His jaw rigid. His full lips, smiling before, were forming a hard line, while his blue eyes changed into storm at the sight of Cenred.

Morgana put a hand on Arthur’s shoulder, in an apparent attempt to calm him down.

A thunder. Then another one.

A few drops of summer rain began to make themselves known.

Cenred stopped just outside the doors, holding Merlin’s hands firmly, as if to show it to his rival, while supporting the look of the blond, waiting for his move.

The scent of the two Alphas suddenly became acidic; the pheromones that had exploded around the two shouted their tension, as they moved slowly towards each other. Cenred trailed Merlin behind him, deeply uneasy about the situation.

“Well, well, look who we have here! Arthur Pendragon, with his beautiful sister to babysit him.”

Arthur came closer, roaring lowly again. He looked at Merlin. The Omega was in obvious discomfort. He was keeping his eyes planted on the ground, feeling the gaze of the Alpha on him. His pheromones wrapped him, trying to reclaim him.

“Stop it, Arthur. Merlin is mine. I know what you're trying to do. I can feel your scent. Unfortunately, as you can see, Merlin and I are engaged...” Cenred hissed angrily, raising his hand, intertwined with that of Merlin, to make Arthur see better the thin silver ring that was displayed on their fingers. “You had your chance Mr. I-will- never-be-with-an-Omega. Merlin is mine now. Stop coming near him. Stop hurting yourself just to have an excuse to be treated by him. Stop trying TO HAVE WHAT DOES NOT BELONG TO YOU!!!”

“Merlin is not yours! I don’t see the bite of the Bond on his neck! This means you are not Bonded yet. If he had really loved you, he would have already allowed you to claim him!”

“Ah yes? You think so? Or maybe he just needed time to be able to forget about you, after you... yes, I seem to recall distinctly that YOU BROKE HIS HEART! Of course, it was difficult to make him grant me a chance, after the fact that AN ASSHOLE LEFT HIM, BLAMING HIM FOR BEING AN OMEGA! But you know what? I succeeded. And he has seen the difference between you and me.”

“Cenred, I will tell you only once: TAKE. YOUR. HANDS. OFF. MY. OMEGA.”

“Your what? You brain doesn’t work, Pendragon. HE IS MINE.” Cenred finished, clutching Merlin to him, never stopping watching Arthur in the eyes, in defiance "HE. IS. MINE!!!”

A moment later, the lips of brown haired man pressed on Merlin’s, softly but decided. The Omega closed his eyes, knowing he had to pay the price. The kiss was not welcome, as well as the too intrusive touch of the Alpha. However, he did his best to close his eyes and make sure that moment would end soon. A dark and deeply Omega part of his was shouting, calling for Arthur to save him, to claim him, to punish the wrong that was happening to him.

And Arthur felt him.

He read the deep and sudden stress in the pheromones emitted by Merlin. His normally amber and round smell was suddenly bittersweet, while Cenred imposed himself on him.

Seeing his Omega in a so intimate attitude with another was too much. Arthur stood helpless, as a blind fury overshadowed his mind, changing his blood into pure lava, throwing him in his purest Alpha essence, made of sheer instinct and shreds of soul.

It was a moment slowed in time.

Morgana shouted her brother’s name, as the Alpha snapped forward.

Arthur’s hands went on Merlin’s jacket, while he literally T.O.R.E. him away from Cenred’s embrace, lifting him with his right hand and pressing him to his chest, while his left hand took the Alpha by the scruff, squeezing his neck in a murderous grasp.

As soon as Merlin buried his face in Arthur’s neck, smelling his strong, musky, dominating scent, his heart immediately calmed down and his smell came back being as sweet as always, instinctively recognizing his Alpha, accepting him, feeling protected and safe after too much time.

Arthur took a moment to smell Merlin’s neck, roaring lowly in satisfaction, perceiving the state of acquiescence and happiness in the smell of his Omega, feeling him again in his arms, again close to him, once more HIS, before returning his attentions to the another Alpha.

Cenred shook his left wrist, turning it, forcing Arthur to give up his grip on his neck, roaring lowly and trying to get closer to Merlin. However, the blond stepped sharply between the two, pushing the Omega behind him, protecting him.

“STAY AWAY FROM MY OMEGA!” Cenred hissed, rushing on the blond, who stepped back to cushion the push with the shoulder that the brown haired man gave to his stomach. The blond Alpha bended in two for a moment, but got up again almost immediately.

“FUCK OFF, CENRED” Arthur growled. Then, he prepared his right, which straightly hit his rival. As it had happen at the lake, Cenred agonized on the floor, holding his nose.

“YOU FUCK OFF, PENDRAGON” The brown haired man cried, getting up and punching him in the stomach.

Arthur leaned forward and took the opportunity to punch his assailant’s side with his left. Cenred bent sideways, stepping back; Arthur was still lower at the front.

“JESUS, WHY DON’T YOU GIVE UP? HE IS MINE NOW! FIND YOURSELF ANOTHER ONE TO FUCK IF YOU MUST!” Cenred muttered, angrily.

“HE IS MINE. I LOVE HIM. AND I WILL NEVER LEAVE HIM TO YOU! NEVER!” Arthur shouted in his face. On his face, a mask of rage, ready to start fighting again.

The both of them recovered and went back to face each other, when Morgana stepped between them.

“Gana, step back...” Arthur hissed. A note so dark in his voice to send a shiver in the spine of the girl.

However, Morgana stood still; in fact, she stepped forward to face her brother, eye-to-eye, chin high and proud, a hard look, like the dominatrix she had always been.

“Stop it, Arthur! You have established your domination. Stop it, now!”

“DOMINATION, MY ASS!” Cenred roared from behind Morgana, causing a grunt in response from his rival.

“You too, Cenred, STOP IT!” she hissed darkly. Her pheromones wrapped the brown haired man in an attempt to calm him down, trying to restore the balance in that fog of testosterone, where the two men had lost themselves.

But the blond seemed not to hear her. His blue eyes were so dilated to seem black; his wake was sour and dark; his pheromones shouted anger and tension; his muscles were ready to snap at the slightest touch.

For the first time in her life, Morgana was afraid of her brother.

The situation was getting quickly out of hand.

“MERLIN” The girl cried, asking the Omega for help in calming the blond down.

The sky rumbled heavily above them, showing its dissent, while heavy drops of rain began to fall. The cool wind tried unsuccessfully to dampen the spirits.

A moment later, two white thin hands encircled Arthur’s waists from behind. Then, they settled on his chest, while Merlin’s face sank in his Alpha’s back, hugging him from behind, getting lost in the heat of his body, feeling the blonde's heart pounding in his chest.

“Arthur, I’m here. I’m yours. Stop it now.” Merlin spoke softly, hugging him.

Those words, combined with his Omega’s touch, his sweet and heartening smell were enough to make his mate regain control of himself, to calm his beating, to relax his muscles, making him exhale more controlled deep breaths, while his anger subsided into an uncontrollable instinct to protect the one person he loved.

Arthur squeezed Merlin’s hands on his chest, closing his eyes for a moment, inhaling deeply Merlin’s smell: honey, lavender and rain, whispering to his heart, ‘Calm down. I'm here for you. I'm not going anywhere. I'm yours. Calm down...’

The blond calmed down and focused on the beautiful green eyes of his sister; her red lips parted and softly pouting; her long black hair, wet due to the rain, while her whole body protected Cenred, keeping him away from him.

“Let’s go, Arthur.” Merlin whispered behind him, pulling him back firmly.

For his part, the blond took his Omega’s right hand, quickly pulling the engagement ring off and throwing it at Cenred’s feet, without a word. The bloodshot look he sent at the brown haired man was enough as a warning ... then, he turned, dragged away by Merlin.

Morgana turned toward Cenred, obviously worried, to check the status of his nose and in general that the Alpha was not too hurt, feeling directly responsible for his condition.

Cenred smiled weakly. He put his warm and strong hand on Morgana’s shoulder, before crashing his head in a satisfied smile.

Jesus, Gana... Your brother hits like a blacksmith, OUUUCH!” He uttered, holding his side, where Arthur had punched him.

“Hey hey, slow down...” She answered, running her cold and white fingers in his hair, clear gesture of appreciation "You have been amazing, my champion ... I don’t know what I would have done without you...”

“Your smile is all I need, my lady.” He said gallantly, tilting his head toward her touch, taking her right hand and placing it on his heart, "And now, we’d better go inside or you'll catch a cold, Gana. It is raining cats and dogs...”

“Well, it seems like I owe you something for your sacrifice ..." she said mischievously, beautiful in the rain.

“Indeed” The brown haired man began, pretending to think hard, losing his hazel eyes and in those alive and emerald of hers, "I seem to recall that someone had promised me a kiss if I did a certain thing...”

The girl smiled and a moment later, her lips rushed to seal Cenred’s...

***

…Rain…

…Warm…

The twilight of the leaden sky enveloped the reality around them.

Smell of a summer storm: a musky smell coming from the trees and the undergrowth around them.

Merlin pulling him under the rain, right in front of him.

But it did not matter.

The touch of his white hand, still on his wrist.

That mattered.

His soft, sweet, enveloping smell.

That mattered.

One step after another. Towards a rebirth. Towards a whispered hope from the heart, that his lips did not dare utter.

He had declared his love to his Omega.

He had fought for his Omega.

That mattered.

When their footsteps stopped, they were under a huge oak tree in the park, not far from the hospital. The rain cut through the silence, heartening pattering on the leaves above them and the grass all around them.

Merlin dropped his hand, and immediately Arthur’s whole body made a gesture of distress at the loss of that touch.

“Let’s talk,” He uttered, solemn, but his voice betrayed an ocean of barely suppressed emotions.

Arthur nodded, clenching his jaw.

“I have read your letter," Merlin began, looking in the blonde’s blue eyes, who was worshiping him with his eyes. And for a moment, Merlin did the same.

Arthur was everything he had ever dreamed about, finally one step away from him. His strong body wrapped by that black shirt, now even tighter to his body because it was wet. His golden hair flattened on his forehead. Everything about him shouted man, power, domination. His purely Omega instinct was absolutely pleased that his Alpha had fought for him.

Merlin closed his eyes, trying to pick up the logical thread of his speech.

But he could not find the words. Those damn words that he wanted to say and could not pull out of his heart.

Words of love and light.

Words of anger and shadows.

He was on the brink of the precipice and he had to jump. Arthur was waiting for him on the other side, beyond the doubts, beyond the uncertainties, beyond themselves and those unspoken words, holding out his hands. He had already jumped.

Now, it was his turn.

Merlin took a deep breath.

He took off his shoes and socks.

He turned without a word and started walking on the green grass, leaving the protection of the branches of the oak tree above them. He dived into the warm summer rain in the twilight of the evening, feeling the damp earth, black and odorous, under his feet. The smell of the plants calmed him, reminding him of his mortality, helping him to find himself.

He opened his hands and looked up. The rain worshiped his thin and white body.

Then, he turned toward his Alpha and simply said, "Take off your shoes and come here”.

The blond did not ask questions, mesmerized by his Omega’s beauty and with the only desire to please him.

He took off his socks and shoes and joined him in the rain, stopping at one meter from him, watching the drops drawing the outlines of that sinuous thin body, that he felt so his. The body that he had so meticulously explored in his mind a thousand times, so full of life, strength and wonder.

This was Merlin in his essence.

A mystical creature made of magic, moon and dreams of lavender; so beautiful and rare to force him to cry, while his heart was overwhelmed by his purely Alpha instinct to protect his Omega, to love him, to take care of him, impressing himself in his veins, roaring his desire in his blood.

“Why barefoot?" Arthur asked, approaching Merlin without even noticing it.

The brunet looked at him, smiling faintly. “Because someone once told me that by being barefoot you can feel the life of the earth flowing. Because there is no other way to really feel the strength of what is around you. Becoming part of it with all of yourself.”

They looked at each other, the sea eyes lost in the sky once, just waiting for him, and the world around them stopped spinning.

As always, when they were one near the other.

A step…

Then another one.

Merlin’s thin hands were on Arthur’s forearms, leading his strong and hot body on his, while their smells joined like their breaths in a moment of grace, which only the rain and the ground would witness.

An instant later, their lips touched, in a sweet, warm, lightweight, long coveted contact, fully wanted for a long, long time ... and there was no need for words anymore.

Arthur forced himself on his mouth, licking it lightly, asking for access, which was allowed at once. Merlin felt the Alpha’s demanding and wonderfully warm tongue caressing his palate, teasing its companion, gently, before begin to withdraw.

But Merlin could only think he did not want it to stop. He wanted to feel it again moving inside of him, deeply, demanding and gentle as it had always been. His body burned due to the intoxicating feeling of the kiss and the devastating whirl in him, of those emotions that for a long, long, time he had to repress. Merlin put his fingers on Arthur’s neck, preventing him from interrupting that sweet contact, chasing his tongue with his own.

The blond made a gesture of joy and pride at perceiving Merlin’s desire. He left the domain of the kiss to him, moaning softly against his skin. Every cell of his body caught fire, feeling his mate’s tongue creeping into his lips to follow the retreat of his own, following it, caressing it, loving it.

They fought, dancing… lost in a world of hot sensations that reverberated in their minds and in their bodies, until the need for air forced them to separate.

Darkness greeted slowly their faint moans.

Their lips was parted, but their foreheads remained united and it was so damn perfect...

“I love you,” Arthur whispered on Merlin’s mouth, before placing another light kiss.

“You have hurt me once, Arthur...” Merlin said, looking into his eyes, and the Alpha could not make out the rain from his tears, "don’t hurt me again...”

“Never again...” the blond finished, before taking possession of his lips again, losing himself again in their softness, in a needy and hungry kiss, dripping desire, as he hugged strongly the wet body of his Omega. He tested his heat and texture, designing the curve of his thin hips and his smooth back, that seemed made for the touch of his hands.

When their lips parted, Arthur squeezed him more, burying his face in Merlin’s neck, writing poems with his tongue on his white and fresh skin, sealing each verse with a little kiss. He got lost in the sweet amber smell of his Omega: lavender, rain, honey and home.

He wanted to spend the rest of his life with his nose pressed against his neck, breathing his smell, enveloping him in its warmth, lulled by the reassuring throb of his heartbeat, marking the minutes from there to eternity.

Merlin moaned softly, sliding his long thin fingers through the wet hair of his Alpha, gently massaging the skin, also enjoying the heat the blond’s solid and muscular body infused in him, feeling safe in his embrace. Arthur’s pheromones crept into his every pore, dominating him, claiming him, promising love, protection and devotion. Mine, they whispered, only mine...

And Merlin smiled at the rain and cried, overcome with happiness, pounding in his veins, as he felt whole again, in his Alpha’s embrace.

He was home again.

***

The blond returned at home with his sister late that night, happier than ever.

After reconciling with Merlin, the two of them had spent hours in a small cafe near the park, talking about everything and nothing in front of a good warm tea, until Morgana had joined them.

The girl had taken Cenred at home, battered but still standing. She had revealed to the boys she wanted to hit on him shamelessly, now that Merlin had found his Alpha again, happy to see them back together, hand in hand.

“We want to try again, Gana, with no rush. One step after another..." Merlin had informed her.

“Tomorrow we are having our first date ... I want to spoil this splendid specimen of Omega a bit and tell him how much I'm damn in love with him. For the record, Merlin, I don’t think I'll be able to wait that long, before having my wicked way with you!” Arthur had said, smiling, giving him a kiss on his white palm, enjoying Merlin’s cheeks blushing just for him, and his full, round and deliciously Omega smell tickling his nostrils.

“Sure, my dear Alpha… You can keep living in your little dream world... The most difficult thing will be convincing Gwaine of the goodness of our intentions! Oh Christ when he finds out we are back together, he will become a hysterical nanny ..." Merlin had laughed, covering his lips with his hand.

“I'll talk to Gwaine! He can’t still be upset about that story ...," Arthur had hissed, low.

“He is very angry. Pray not to be in a room with him and some knives, or else...”

“I'll talk to Gwaine, Artie. Don’t worry! He will understand as soon as he sees you cooing happily...” Gana had finished, ordering a pizza and Coca-Cola.

The evening had slipped away quickly and Morgana had needed a ride home, so Merlin had told them to go, and that he would return home on foot.

“You know my house is near here. It will do me well to walk for a bit, after today wave of emotions. It will help me clear my head ..." Merlin had said, mischievous, giving Arthur a quick kiss on the lips.

“Are you sure?" Arthur had asked, already panicking about having to leave his Omega.

“Yes, Arthur. Don’t start being an overprotective Alpha, please... we'll see each other tomorrow night, won’t we?”

“It will be a long wait until tomorrow...” Arthur had hissed, stroking his cheekbones with a strong and warm hand, before recapturing his mouth, licking his lips, drowning in that hot and delicious cave, testing his flavor that he had missed so much and that he could not do without anymore.

“Then, keep this and read it tonight…" Merlin had said, putting a white envelope in Arthur’s pocket, sealing another kiss, "Goodnight, Arthur. See you tomorrow...”

“What's that?" the blond had asked.

“My response to your letter. See you tomorrow!" Merlin had smiled lively, giving Morgana a kiss on the cheeks and leaving.

“Merlin” Arthur had called him, as he was walking along the street, "I love you. You know that, right?!”

“I know! See you tomorrow!” Merlin had replied sweetly, with a smile, so sweet that it would have haunted him in his dreams all night.

“See you tomorrow...”

***

Arthur laid on his huge four-poster bed.

His sister had gone to bed, after giving him a kiss. The villa was surrounded by silence, full of emotion. The cicadas sang outside in the night.

Sleeping was impossible.

He opened Merlin’s letter with a slight tremor of his hands, holding his breath.

“Dear Arthur,

I read your letter. And I read YOU among those lines; your strength, your will, and a feeling I thought had vanished in a haze of regret and resentment.

So much that I no longer believed in it.

You have hurt me more than I thought possible.

And now you are asking me to come back to you.

You asked me, if there still was something of that love, which had messed my heart for the first time, and that I had given you with the strength of my despair.

What should I answer you?

Probably ‘No’.

I should tell you I don’t care about you anymore. That I am not your plaything. That you've had your chance with me, but you've wasted it and will never have another one. That my heart is mine and mine alone, and that you have shown me I was right in hating your species.

And I'd be lying.

To myself, as well as to you.

I remember so many things.

I remember the first time I saw you: how I tried to force myself to hate you, how I tried to stay away from you, and how you attracted my thoughts, against my will, relentless as the moon draws the tides.

I remember the first time you hugged me. I felt safe for the first time in my life, as if I had finally found my place in the world, a safe harbor after years in a stormy sea.

I remember the first time you kissed me. Thousands of butterflies exploded in my stomach, as I tasted your lips, as I died on your tongue and as my essence lost itself in you.

I remember the first time you asked me to be yours: my breath on your skin, the echo of your words in my heart, so loud it hurt, your blue eyes in which my universe began to beat. In that moment, I had ceased to exist and I had started living in you.

In your smile, in your hands, in your body, in your eyes. My heart in your chest. Your hands caressing my soul, shaping my life, drawing my life in the world that you were creating for me, every single day.

Then, you found out that I was an Omega.

I distinctly remember the thud of my heart as it broke, when you left me, and my wandering in the shadows. The air had burned my lungs with each breath without you.

Then, I got up, forcing myself to relegate the memory of your love in a dark corner of my heart, where sooner or later you'd have died, where sooner or later you would have stopped hurting me, where I would have killed you slowly, to start living again.

At least, that’s what I thought.

I thought I would have hated you.

I thought I didn’t want to see you again.

I thought I had found someone to love in your place.

I thought I could exist without you.

And I was wrong.

Because at night, when I'm alone in my bed, I close my eyes and I realize how much I miss your laughter, your eyes on my body, your hands on my skin, your lips on mine, your breath in my lungs.

Everything that defined my world was you, Arthur.

So it was, and so it still is.

Because even if I don’t want to, even if I hated myself for it, although I opposed it with all my strength, I realized something: I exist because of you.

Because I'm your Omega, as you are my Alpha.

So be careful with my heart, Arthur Pendragon.

Once before I had put its pieces back together and it had cost me a lot.

I don’t think I can do it again.

Yet, I am here and I am willing to take this step, even if it would cost me everything.

For you.

Because I love you.

Your Merlin”

 

Arthur clutched the letter to his chest; his blue eyes bright with tears.

An Alpha does not cry.

But he begged God to make the next day arrive soon.

***

 

That morning the blond got up with sublime happiness in his heart.

He got ready in a hurry. He took his car and drove to Christie's to buy a donut for himself and an oil bun for Merlin: a surprise. The plan was to pick him up, wait for him outside the door, kiss him, surprise him with breakfast, kiss him again, drive him to work, kiss him again, and decide the detail for the evening.

Then, kiss him good-bye.

He arrived in front of Merlin’s house as fresh as a daisy. He checked his watch: a quarter to nine. Normally, Merlin went out at that time to go to his uncle’s clinic.

Arthur realized he was grinning like a fool ... God he looked like a teenager on his first date! Absurd.

Minutes passed quickly and it was nine o’clock.

Then, a quarter past nine.

Strange ... he is late.

When the green door of Merlin’s house opened, Arthur missed a beat, but his smile disappeared almost immediately when he noticed it was Gwaine at the door of the house.

The brown haired man took a few steps out of the door and Arthur got closer, saying good morning to him.

“What are you doing here, Arthur? Have you come here to mock me for being able to persuade Merlin to get back with you?”

“I came to pick him up, Gwaine ... how do you know that ... he told you?”

“No. Gana informed me... and wipe that smug grin off your face! Anyway, I thought Merlin was with you. Last night he didn’t come home and after your sister’s message, I haven’t waited up for him...”

“What do you mean he didn’t come back?" Arthur's voice betrayed a barely concealed note of concern.

“That he. didn’t. come. back. When was the last time you saw him? Arthur...”

But Arthur did not hear anything. A new form of fear crept into his heart, ripping his soul, while Cristie's bag fell to the ground, heavy as a boulder....

Chapter Text

“Where is my boy?” Gaius asked, worried, entering the living room with the violence of a storm, slamming the door and rushing toward Gwaine, who intercepted him, hugging him, trying to calm him down.

“We don’t know, Gaius. Last night Gana and Arthur left him out of a cafe near the hospital. He did not want them to give him a ride home. However, he has never arrived home. I have checked his room: the bed is still made. Therefore, he didn’t come back home. And he is not answering his phone...” The brown haired man explained. He made Gaius sit down in the living room, but the old man started to pace, in perpetual motion, unable to calm down.

Arthur joined them with his sister some time later. They had gone on patrol, retracing the route from the house to the hospital that Merlin did last night, asking around if anyone had seen the brunet, finding Merlin’s phone dropped on the side of the road, near a manhole, clearly damaged, as if it had received a strong blow.

“We should call the police, Gaius." Gwaine said, worried.

“We can’t. Not only is he not missing for forty-eight hours yet, but also because Merlin is more than twenty-eight years old and he is an Omega without Bond and without children… you know what that means...”

Morgana looked down, while Arthur clenched his fists until his knuckles whiten.

“No, I don’t know what it means. Can you do me the courtesy to explain?" Gwaine interrupted the flow of their thoughts.

“It’s complicate, Gwy! According to the laws in force, to prevent the decline of the population of Alphas and Omegas, the Omegas are forced to breed by the Government. In a time not too far away in the past, the forced reproduction occurred as soon as the Omegas were eighteen years old. They were taken by force to a Center for Assisted Reproduction, where they were drugged to induce their Heat, so that they could successfully mate with an Alpha and get pregnant… with the sad incidents we are aware of...” Morgana paused a moment to put a hand on her brother's shoulder to reassure him, seeing him tense and rigid, standing by the window, knowing her words were digging inside of him. “However, Omegas fought hard against these laws and arrived at a much more 'human' compromise. Nowadays, the Government grants two possibilities to Omegas: the first is to create the Bond by their 21st birthday or to be bonded and pregnant, or with at least one past pregnancy, by their 26th birthday. If you fulfill one of these two conditions, the Government leaves you free to live your life. But if you do not fulfill either of them and the Government finds out for any reason, they took less than a minute to take you in a C.A.R. to make you fulfill your parental duty...”

Oh God!” Gwaine said, white-faced. "This means that if they realize Merlin is still ... they will force him to breed with an Alpha he doesn’t even know ... God no...”

“And we cannot ask the police to help us. If they find Merlin, they would do a standard background check on the database and it wouldn’t take them long to discover he is an 'outlaw'. Anyway, now that he is no longer taking the suppressors, his smell and the lack of the bite of the Bond on his neck are enough to be discovered by whoever finds him and has the intention to report him!" Gaius finished, torturing his chin nervously.

“But Merlin works at the hospital ... anyone would have been able to report him, then...”

“Anyone, but a doctor. We doctors are bound to our professional oath… we protect Omegas; we do not report them! All the hospital staff knew Merlin’s condition. I personally know the hospital director and he assured me my nephew would have full support from everyone. When he stopped using the suppressors, he still wanted to continue his work, even if the risks to be discovered were higher. The Omegas’ luck is that the whole society is against these laws, not for nothing called 'Of Shame' ... the whole society but some Alphas of course...”

“Why has Merlin stopped taking the suppressors though, if he knew he would be in this kind of danger?" Arthur asked Gaius.

The old man looked at him with a mixture of anger and sadness, "Because they interact badly with antidepressants...”

“Fuck!!” Arthur growled lowly, striding out of the room. Morgana followed him like a shadow, running after him.

“Arthur” She blocked him in the back garden, forcing him to stop. "I know it's difficult, but we have to stay calm and try to think about a plan in order to find Merlin!”

“Difficult? DIFFICULT? Fuck, it’s not difficult. It is impossible! He is my Omega, Gana! Jesus! And he is missing and I cannot even call the police because if whoever kidnapped him has not raped him yet, the law will, in a way that could kill him! I can’t allow it! He is mine and I can’t stand...not knowing where he is. It is as if…as if they took a part of me and we are not even mated yet…I wasn’t able to protect him...” The blond finished, punching the trunk of the tree in the garden so hard to injure his knuckles.

She took him in her arms and hugged him as much as she could, trying to ignore the tears of anger and frustration streaming down his brother’s cheeks, praying to God to be able to find Merlin, before it was too late....

***

Merlin opened his eyes slowly, returning to consciousness.

He was in a very large room with cream wallpaper, finely damask. The daylight came in through a window at the foot of the bed, from which he could glimpse the slight movement of the wind on a branch of a tree, behind the thin curtains.

He brought his hand over his eyes, feeling something clutching his wrist.

He tried to focus, but his eyes were still hazy, so he used the touch, as well as the sight... his thin wrist was caught in a leather bracelet with a small sparkling padlock, to which a rope was tied, thin but strong.

And this impediment was also present on the other wrist.

The heart of the brunet skipped a beat, as fear began to spread inside of him, dark, along with the memories of the previous night.

He was returning home.

Arthur had declared his love.

He had fought for him.

They had finally explained each other’s actions and Merlin was so happy he had not understood anything else after that. With his head blissfully in the clouds, he had crossed the street and two car headlights had cut through the shadows of the night and an under-braking car had run him over in the crosswalk.

The blow had not been strong enough to make him lose consciousness, but strong enough to make him lose lucidity. He had ended up on the trunk of the car. He had been still there, stiff and sore, when the driver had exited the car, taken him by the shoulders and pressed something on his face...

Merlin put a finger under his nose and his medical knowledge informed him the smell he felt was chloroform ... whoever had taken him had made him fall asleep on purpose, to take him here...

Trying to calm down, the Omega sat on the bed, taking stock of the situation: both his wrists had these kind of leather handcuffs, but his ankles were free.

He no longer had his jacket and someone had removed his clothes and dressed him in a light pajamas. There was no trace of his phone. His right temple was pounding heavily. He tried to get up and found out he could stand up. The rope was long enough to allow him to reach the small bathroom, where Merlin washed his face and cleaned himself up.

He could not take his clothes off, so he washed as best as he could and began to explore the room.

He soon found out the ropes didn’t allow him to reach the window, which was hermetically closed in any case. There was a single air intake and a ceiling fan. He could not even get to the door, placed near the window.

There were no sharp or blunt objects, with which he could force the handcuffs open. This knowledge made him feel sick, besides the fact he didn’t know where he was. He didn’t know how to contact Arthur or anyone else, nor did he know how he would escape that situation.

He began to yell for help and continued screaming with all the breath in his lungs for half an hour.

But no one came to his rescue.

..No one…

Merlin curled in a corner of the bed, concentrating and trying to call Arthur in his mind again and again, but without having established the Bond and without the smell of his Alpha near or on him, his attempts failed.

...Arthur...

The hours passed.

In silence.

Outside of the window, the first evening shadows stained the afternoon sky.

Suddenly he heard footsteps stopping in front of the room.

A key turned in the lock.

The hinges complained, while the white door opened.

And the wolf came in.

***

When Arthur came into Merlin’s room, his heart broke in his chest.

It was like stepping into one of his dreams.

The sweet scent of his Omega was everywhere...

The bed with the red sheets near the large window; the white nightstand; the bookcase with many books about Medicine of the species; the white wardrobe and drawers to the left of the door; the pictures with photos of him with Will and Gwaine; his degree certificate and a myriad of small items, each with a secret story to tell.

The white carpet on the floor swallowed the sound of his footsteps.

He stopped in front of the bed, running his hand under the pillow, finding his football shirt, which he had asked Percival to deliver months before. He squeezed and sniffed it: it still had his scent imprinted, together with Merlin’s faintest one.

He knew Merlin held it there ... he had seen it in his dreams. He had seen the brunet tightening it and putting it under his pillow.

And the candle on the nightstand...

“Why the candle, Merlin?”

“...it helps me find the way back into myself, when I'm surrounded by darkness...”

Jesus! Hearing his voice in his ears, like that first night, his words, his smell, the warmth of his body. As that time, his need to love, dominate, protect that sweet creature became so overwhelming it hurt, as he would never have believed possible.

“How is it possible? This room...this is the first time I have entered this room. Yet, I have been in here before...”  Arthur said, looking at Gaius, Gana and Gwaine on the doorstep, a mixture of fear and disbelief in his voice. "In my dreams. I remember every detail ... I knew the shirt was under the pillow and the candle...”

Gaius walked into the room, looking around and recognizing his nephew in every detail.

“It’s the Imprinting,” The old man pronounced solemnly, as Gana approached her brother, ready to support and mitigate his reactions. “Arthur, I know it will be hard to believe, but you and Merlin are already in some way tie to one other. It’s true you have not exchanged the bite of the Bond yet, but you have experienced a rare medical phenomenon that replaces the effects of the Bond completely...”

Arthur sat on the bed, shocked, tightening his full lips, as it always happened when he did not understand something.

“Explain,” He ordered. The low tone came out almost like a roar.

“Simply, you and Merlin were predestined to be together. Nature and your hormones have chosen for you, long before your will, recognizing each other as your Perfect Soul Mate. In short, one completes the other. You are meant to be together, Arthur... The Imprinting replaces the Bond itself by creating a connection between you. Subliminally you seek each other, all the time, and the Bite will only 'stabilize' your hormones.”

“Is this why I was so sick without Merlin? Is this why I was dying of desire for him?”

“Well, this may be a reason, Arthur. But in truth, the Imprinting does not work if the subjects are not compatible. And above all, it creates the need, but not the attraction and certainly not the love...if anything, it expands it ... it protects it, it strengthens it. And I believe you are in love with each other. Which explains why the bond between you is so strong, even before the Bite.”

Arthur looked down for a moment, looking into his heart for that hot flame and that knowledge that had eaten him alive for months.

Yes, he loved him.

And not because of some strange chemistry.

He loved him…that's it.

“However this doesn’t explain why I remember this room..." The blond continued, looking around.

“Because you have already been here." Morgana stepped in softly. “The Imprinting has created a connection between the two of you, so powerful that, together, you have created a space just yours, where you called each other and interacted together in a common dream...”

Arthur's eyes widened and his breath was torn from his lungs badly.

“No...it’s impossible...you're telling me that what I thought were only MY dreams were actually shared with him? All of them? Therefore, what I saw, felt, said, what he told me in those dreams was not a figment of my imagination? He was really the one talking to me? He was the one...”

“Well, not all your dreams were shared, Arthur. The emotional degree for a Resonance had to be deep ... that dreams must have seemed very real, and not all dreams are.”

Arthur closed his eyes, placing his palms on them and pushing hard.

Everything they had talked about.

Everything he had dreamed to do to him.

Merlin had heard him and above all, he had done these things to him.

Moans on the skin, heartbeats, the Bond...

Every whispered word, each prohibited caress on that white body, the warmth and the scent that invaded his senses, every gesture steeped in dominance and submission and the meaning of "lack" in the morning, when he discovered it was only a dream ... everything was shared, everything seemed real because in the end, somehow dark to his understanding, it was.

When he called him, wrapped in the shadows of the night, when his body was hot with desire and the need was urgent...

...“Merlin”...

...When he followed the candlelight to reach him, when he heard the call...

... “Arthur”...

Merlin had told him he was an Omega. In their first shared dream, that had shaken him deeply, because he had dreamed about him as an Omega, covering him with his body, lying with him as an Alpha... Merlin had told him from the beginning. He had confessed it to him.

And Arthur had been too stupid not to ask any questions ... thinking it was a bad joke of his brain, deliberately ignoring what his mind, his heart, his instinct and Merlin were shouting aloud...

What a moron I have been...

And when he had broken up with him, that night he had seen him for a moment, appearing in his room at the campus, while he was... Oh! God, NO! Merlin had seen him ...with another person. While he was saying he did not need him. While he was arrogantly rubbing in his face that he could have whomever he wanted, in whatever way he wanted. Then, after Gwaine had beat him, Arthur had seen Merlin in this same bed, where he was sitting, wrapped in the blankets, heartbroken ... he had thought it was his guilt making him imagine him, but it was true, Arthur had REALLY seen him.

Christ, what have I done to him?

And the other night...

“Arthur” Morgana whispered, sitting next to him, breaking the line of his thoughts. “There is a reason why we are telling you all this now," She said, taking his hand in hers and holding it in her lap, "Can you try to get into a Resonance with Merlin?”

Arthur skipped a beat as the flame of hope spread inside of him.

“I don’t know! God I didn’t even know there was such a thing until a minute ago! I don’t know what I should do ... I don’t even know where to start...”

“You must start from Merlin. You have to look for him inside of you. And you have to have something that connects you to him ... something that carries his smell ... choose what you want in this room...” Gaius said with a barely concealed note of sadness in his voice. “...the rest, you have to find out by yourself, Arthur. I can show you the way, but you are the one who must go down the road ... and I'll tell you the truth: I don’t know if it will work, because I doubt Merlin has anything near him that carries your smell. So, entering in a Resonance will not be easy for him...”

Arthur looked at the ground, shocked. Then, he turned, probing the room with his eyes. He grabbed a blue light bandana, resting on a chair.

“I'll try, but now I need some air ... I don’t feel well." He said, before flying out of the room. He felt like he was suffocating.

***

Merlin felt his head spinning and the urge to vomit going in his throat as soon as he recognized the Alpha who had just entered the room.

His pungent smell Merlin had never been able to bear; his dark hair, slightly long; his eyes were black as the darkest night and the evil grin on his face...

His body stiffened involuntarily, while Merlin clenched his fists and rose from the bed, planting his blue eyes in those of the other, in clear defiance.

He remembered that smell. He remembered that face. And he hated that man with all himself.

“Merlin Emrys. What a pleasure to have you as my guest… finally, after all these years...”

“Needless to say, the pleasure is not mutual, damned Devil.”

“Oh, Merlin, Merlin...I see you remember me. What a wonderful attitude.” The man hissed, approaching him. “Your cousin was right ... you are so proud and combative ... so different from Will. Look at you. You really are a wonderful Omega!”

“I have no use for your compliments, Agravaine! Let me go or...”

“Or what? What will you do to me, Merlin?” The man asked, reaching him in two strides and taking his wrist by force, tightening it so much to leave the imprint of his nails on the skin. “Remember that you are an Omega and nothing more. You may have a strong character, but fear not, I will break you. And after we establish the Bond and after giving me children, you will stop being so arrogant and disobedient!”

Merlin felt his heart breaking in his chest.

“And I didn’t even think you were an Omega. Will had told me, but I didn’t believe him. Your smell was so unripe the first time I saw you at the wedding...you were just a little boy. And after Will’s death, I followed you for a while...but you had no longer any smell and soon, I lost interest in you. Until a month ago. I was at the hospital and I felt the sweetest and attractive fragrance in the world ... an Omega scent similar to Will’s, yet incredibly variegated, with thousand tones, more...exotic. And when I saw you, I couldn’t believe it ... it was really you. So delicious, pure and so ready for me ... my second chance!”

“Ready my ass! I hate you, Agravaine. I will never create the Bond with you!”

“Oh Merlin, Merlin” The man hissed, taking him by the neck and slamming him hard on the bed, covering him with his body, pinning his hands above his head, “You'll soon learn to please me.”

The brunet tried to struggle as much as possible, biting and kicking, but Agravaine’s grip was strong and he looked like a child without force by comparison. The Alpha’s pheromones, excited due to the fight, began to float around, trying to impress themselves upon him and claim him. But Merlin, blind with hatred, prevented it.

Feeling his distress, the Alpha put his nose in the crook of Merlin’s neck, starting to lick the base, on the point where you create the Bond, knowing the effect the gesture caused to Omegas. Merlin immediately stopped struggling, frozen by a shiver that invaded his spine, becoming more docile at once, remembering why he used to curse himself for being an Omega.

“You can bite me all you want, but it will be useless! The Bond is created by two people and in another way. A bite is not enough!”

“Oh Merlin, I know... I know...but who tells you I won’t undress you now and take you by force?”

“The fact that Will told me how you got off with him! And there is no way I will scream. Whatever you do to me, I prefer to die rather than surrendering!" Merlin roared with a barely concealed note of desperation in his voice.

“Ooohh listen to you, my sweet little virgin! I can’t wait to prove to you that you're wrong..." Agravaine spat, biting his ear in defiance, until it bled. "Your resistance is useless, Merlin. Soon, you'll go into Heat and then, you will beg me on your knees to take you. It’s true I get excited just by hearing my partner scream, but every Alpha get hard when he feels an Omega in estrus. I'll just wait for your Heat and when I take you, I'll enjoy myself hearing you scream, while I penetrate you deeply and without giving you time to breath. I am going to rape you brutally and long, tearing you breath and heart apart, while I make you mine, while I tie you to me, while I put my children in your belly!”

Merlin clenched his teeth and spat in his face, closing his eyes just before being slapped. He moaned without screaming. However, he kept his eyes closed, so not to see the grin on the face of his torturer, hyperventilating.

He did not see him undressing.

He only felt his smell becoming stronger.

Then he felt the fabric of the pajamas he was wearing being tore with a thud. He felt the cold air on his chest and his pants being tore, leaving him naked, exposed.

A shiver of fear shook his body, as he curled up on himself, trying to protect himself.

He would not give in.

He’d rather die.

...Arthur...

But Arthur was not there and that knowledge hurt him more than a sword stuck in his heart.

Agravaine was right: He was just a stupid foolish Omega and, despite his pride, he was weak without his Alpha defending him.

He took a deep breath, trying to confront his fears and the monster on his lap, holding him on the mattress, as he prayed God to give him the strength to resist. The shadows of what was going to be a long night soon swallowed his tears.

***

Arthur felt him.

Curled under the tree that only the day before had offered them comfort and shelter from the rain, Arthur dipped his face in the blue silk again, finding all the notes of Merlin’s amber scent, continuing to call him in his mind again and again.

And in the end, he felt him, like a faint light behind his eyes. Arthur could not see him; he could not hear his words, but he felt strange sensations. He saw blurred colors and a dark presence. He felt the terror of his Omega, combined with a mixture of pain, anger and a strange sense of nausea went through him.

For a moment, anger filled him.

He would kill anyone who had dared take away his Omega and in general, anyone who would touch even a hair of his. But what was destroying him the most was his helplessness and the fear they could hurt Merlin.

Trying to slow his heartbeat, he focused again, trying to calm his mind and to reconnect with Merlin.

When he felt connected with Merlin’s emotions, Arthur tried to instill peace and strength, reassuring him about his presence, that he was looking for him, that he loved him...

The response was almost immediate.

Awe, hope, love, need ... then again, pain, fear, a cry for help...

Arthur tightened more the cloth in his hands, praying to God to take him to Merlin as soon as possible...

Chapter Text

That morning, Merlin awoke in a house that was not his and with a smell, soaked into his skin, that was not his.

Closing his eyes, he clenched his jaw and forced himself not to cry, collecting a bit of courage to soothe his broken spirit. He was afraid, as he had never been before.

Only the anger kept him from going crazy and the knowledge that his Alpha loved him and was looking for him.

He closed his wet eyes again, displaying Arthur in his heart, calling him with his mind. A faint light peeped behind his eyes and a feeling of warmth, care and love invaded his soul.

He knew it was a sharing, made possible by the Imprinting.

Normally that kind of feelings that linked an Omega to an Alpha took place just after the Bond. He had heard many times about it: the subjects were able to exchange feelings, even thoughts and words sometimes, carried through the Bond that united them, even from many miles away.

Heartened, he tried to transfer his feelings from his heart to his mind, to share them with the one who he knew was waiting on the other side...

Arthur, Alpha, look for me. I’m scared. I’m nothing without you. Vulnerable. He is hurting me. Help me.

Immediately, the light behind his pupils changed, becoming darker. He could feel the anger of his mate creeping in his body… as if it was his own. Along with another flood of feelings that his mind understood effortlessly.

Merlin. Don’t worry. I’m looking for you. Soon, I will be there. Hold on. I'm with you, my Omega. I love you. I'll kill him. I will kill anyone who hurts you. You are mine.

The brunet mentally thanked for that contact, so small; yet, so important for him.

He smiled, slightly heartened. Then, he opened his eyes and sat up on the bed.

He was completely naked.

The leather handcuffs remained cruelly around his wrists, witnesses of his condition.

His hands were shaking.

His skin, as white as alabaster, was contaminated by an indefinite series of small bruises, bite marks, scratches and dried blood in small wounds that had been inflicted on him, reminding him of how every sign had been inflicted on him; what each gesture had involved. A violent shudder ran through his body and Merlin clenched his fists.

He had to be strong.

Slowly, he got up and stumbled to the bathroom. Near the sink, there was a towel and soap.

The image he saw in the mirror shattered his heart even more: his black hair was disheveled; a pale blue bruise was proudly displayed itself on his cheekbone and his lower lip was split in several places.

Agravaine had beaten him, when he had not screamed. He had bitten his lower lip until it bled, just to make Merlin scream, but he had resisted, moaning but not uttering a sound more than that!

And Agravaine had beaten him again.

Merlin took the towel and the soap and began washing himself, rubbing the skin until it became red, as if to erase everything that had happened, until his tears stopped and he got his breath back in his lungs.

Agravaine had bitten him in several places ... the neck, nipples, on the wrist ... Merlin wanted to wash away his smell, along with that feeling of intense humiliation and anger he was feeling.

He had kissed him, licked him and had tried to arouse Merlin without success. The mere thought of the Alpha’s skin in contact with his made him sick.

In the end, failing in his purpose, Agravaine had tortured him.

He had pulled the rope until it blocked Merlin’s wrists over his head. He had covered him with his body and, with his total horror, Merlin had felt something violating his more intimate part. He had struggled, kicked, rebelled, but his body was far thinner than the Alpha’s, who had kept him crushed on the mattress.

It had been all pretty damn useless.

Merlin had repressed a cry of pain, as he had been penetrated without notice or preparation by something big and hard, probably a dildo, since the Alpha was absolutely impotent.

“You like it, don’t you?" Agravaine had whispered in his ear. His voice was hoarse and wet with desire, enjoying the sensation of Merlin’s body, tense and filled with sobs, "It’s with this that you Omegas love wasting your time, when you don’t have a true Alpha? Oh come on, it doesn’t hurt that much!”

“Fuck you, Agravaine” He whispered, faint, clenching his teeth.

The slap that had followed had hurt far less than the part of his body his tormentor was violating.

“No, Emrys, no! You have to understand your place in the world! You're just a stupid Omega, no different from a thousand of other stupid Omegas. You may have more character than Will, but your nature betrays you. You will worthily take his place; you will become mine, my little pet… an animal to fuck and to use as I like, created to please me.” He had hissed those words on him mercilessly, continuing to violate him again and again, ripping moans of pain out of him, holding him down on the bed with his weight, enjoying his pain. "You're nothing but an animal, Omega! You will submit to me during your Heat and I promise you I will fuck you until you pass out, making you fall deep in your Omega essence, so much you will lose your ability to talk. Not before long, you'll be so round and pregnant with my children you will stop disobeying me. You will shape your life on my desires and stop resisting me once and for all. I swear I will break you, Merlin Emrys. If it's the last thing I do”

It was about after those words that the pain made him faint.

It was a good thing, for sure.

That asshole doesn’t have fun if he doesn’t see him suffer.

He continued to wash himself repeatedly, as if to shake off the memories, as well as the smell of the Alpha, but he felt hopelessly dirty.

When he was done with all the rest of his body, he took a deep breath and tentatively brought a hand between his buttocks, touching slowly. The stab of pain that followed was excruciating and Merlin was finally able to emit a liberating scream.

He saw dried blood on his thighs and was still feeling a burning pain where he had been raped. Expecting there would be at least a wound or laceration, he took the towel. He dipped it in cold water and he tried to clean and disinfect himself with meticulous attention, as best as he could.

Holy God.

The thought that this monster could return that same day and do to him again all he had done that first night threw him into a darker turmoil. However, he avoided sharing these thoughts through the bond: if Arthur read his mood, he would suffer and Merlin loved him too much to do this to his Alpha.

Bending over the sink with a broken heart, he wept and shouted at the top of his voice...

***

Arthur looked like a caged lion. He didn’t leave Merlin’s room, constantly attached to his blue scarf that he moved in his hands again and again, trying to smell the scent of his Omega and to establish a more lasting and deeper contact.

“Arthur,” Gaius entered the room and sat on the bed next to him. His voice was broken with worry, "Do you feel him? Can you see him? How is he?”

The blond swallowed, looking down on the cloth between his hands, clenching his jaw.

“I felt him. I know they did something to him last night. I clearly felt a feeling of acute pain, panic and helplessness, but he is still here with me. This morning I felt him more calm, but extremely sad. Then, I haven’t felt him anymore. I think there is something he is hiding from me with difficulty... I... Gaius, I am afraid another Alpha may bond him and hurt him and I won’t be able to prevent it ..." The voice that came from his lips was broken and Arthur pushed his palms over his eyes.

He hated being seen so weak, almost as much as he hated feeling so desperate.

The old man ran a hand on his shoulder, apparently trying to give him support.

“Arthur, if it may console you, know that if you can feel him in your mind, it means he has not established the Bond with anyone else. I think you also know the real Bond between an Alpha and an Omega can be established only during the Heat of the latter. And Merlin is not in Heat. At least not yet ..." The doctor finished heavy.

The Alpha leaped up, watching the old man restlessly. “What do you mean 'not yet'? What are you hiding from me, Gaius?" The Alpha asked lowly.

The old man rubbed his hands, obviously worried. "Arthur, Merlin will go into Heat in less than a week. And when the Heat comes, even I don’t know what will happen.”

The blond felt his heart falling in his chest and a dark chill pervaded his limbs, chocking the breath in his throat.

"How do you know that?”

“I’m a doctor, Arthur, and I know my nephew. It has been almost two months since he stopped taking the suppressors. And it’s natural and cyclic that without inhibitors, Merlin’s body would go into Heat. I was really happy you and my nephew got back together before its approach, because he would have spent that special time with you. He would have accepted the Bond, because he loves you and he would have been happy and complete for the first time in his life, as a person and as an Omega. But now, I am scared. I have already lost another nephew of mine because he was bonded to the wrong person. I'd hate for it to happen again with Merlin...”

“If you say that I and Merlin share the Imprinting and that it is as if we were already Bonded, I'm sure he will resist anyone. He will refuse to bond with anyone but me!”

“I said the Imprinting simulates the effects of the Bond and the bite will stabilize them. However, if someone that is not you should establish the Bond with Merlin by taking him during his Heat, there is little you or I can do about it. The both of you would live half a life, because you were destined to complete each other. But nothing is stronger than the chemical of the species. An Omega in estrus regresses to his animal instincts: he cannot refuse an Alpha that is nearby, whoever he is and even thought his will opposes it. It’s a damned matter of hormones. Omegas were created to be the mates of Alphas and to give birth to their offspring when they are in Heat, regardless of their will. The same happened to Will. An Alpha, one of his professors, surprised him during his Heat and he was unable to fight against it. The Alpha took him, bonding him to himself. Although Will was not in love with him, he married him. My nephew was a sweet and mild soul, and that Alpha had been his doom. We have to find Merlin before he goes into Heat, Arthur! Otherwise, almost certainly, it will be too late...”

The Alpha clenched his fists until his knuckles were white. The very thought that Merlin could be touched by anyone but him sent the blood to his head. But the thought that his Omega could bond with another made him sick.

Still holding the blue scarf, he took a few steps toward the exit. Then, he stopped. He turned back, bent over Gaius and hugged him. He whispered in his ear, "I'll do anything, anything for him. I'll find him, Gaius! If it's the last thing I do in my life!”

A moment later, the old man was alone in the room, while the heat of the Alpha refused to leave his shoulders.

***

It was late afternoon when Morgana’s secretary announced the presence of her brother in the Law Office.

“Bess, get me two coffees. One with milk and sugar, the other black. Thanks." Morgana dismissed her, heading toward Arthur, hugging him tight.

The blonde enjoyed the hug, trying to find a little comfort.

"Any news?" He asked, worried.

“I spoke with Gwaine half an hour ago. The boys are searching actively. They are spreading the word, but nothing. Only Mordred has found something. His father is in the police and he seems to have managed to get hold of a surveillance footage, which shows the alley where we found Merlin’s phone. He is bringing it here. He should be here any minute.”

“Good. Let’s hope to find something useful!" Arthur said, sniffing Merlin’s blue scarf, "I have to find him within a week, Gana. Or he will go into Heat and whoever has kidnapped him will bond with him..."

"Who told you ... how do you know?" She began to ask.

“Gaius. He told me everything. It cannot be anyone but an Alpha that took him. Any other hypothesis makes no sense. He's an Omega. Pure. It’s obvious he is an easy prey...”

“It’s true, but it is still strange. Merlin definitely has a pretty face, but by the standards of an average Alpha, he is too skinny. He doesn’t catch your eyes... why would they prefer him to others?”

“Damn it, Gana, I don’t know! I DON’T KNOW!” Arthur snapped, slamming his fists on the desk, "Maybe he was the only Omega available in some horny Alpha’s way at that time. Christ if only I think about... OH GOD, WHAT I HAVE DONE? I had to insist on accompanying him home!”

“Arthur, I was there too, remember? And you had just decided to start over ... you could not press him immediately. It had been him to tell you not to take him home. No one could have predicted it... not even you." She said in a soft voice, "It's not your fault, Arthur. It's not your fault!”

“I HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO PROTECT HIM, GANA. I failed as an Alpha. I failed as a man. And now he is paying for my failure..." The Alpha said, defeated.

“Stop beating yourself up, Artie. You are only hurting yourself and Merlin doesn’t need to feel that! You have to be strong for him! He is feeling you...”

“Here are your coffees. Mr. Mordred is asking for you, Mrs. Pendragon." The secretary said, entering with the coffees and laying them on the desk with grace.

“Yes, let him pass, Bess! Bring another coffee with double sugar.”

The blond started to drink his black one, "How do you know how Mordred wants his coffee? How the hell do you always know everything?”

“What can I say? You always say I'm a witch. The least I can do is to know everything about everyone!”

Arthur smiled weakly. He deeply loved his sister. She could snatch a smile from him even in the blackest situations.

Mordred came breathlessly, greeting Morgana with a hug and Arthur with a handshake, before pulling a USB flash drive from his pocket, giving it to the girl.

“I will not say what I had to do to get it. My father will kill me if he finds out. It’s of the night of Merl’s disappearance!”

Gana hurriedly inserted the flash memory and played the video on her computer. The image showed a dark alley with a number of cars, parked on both sides of the street. The traffic was normal, nothing strange. She fast-forwarded the video until nearly midnight when they had taken their separate ways.

Suddenly, Mordred outstretched his finger toward the screen.

"Look, there he is”

To the right of the screen, Merlin made his appearance, walking quietly, while watching the phone. He crossed the street without stopping and a moment later, two headlights appeared from the darkness of the alley, running him over.

Arthur’s heart sank as he watched the slender body of his Omega slumped over the trunk of the car, which fortunately was not going too fast and had stopped immediately after hitting him.

A dark figure stepped out of the car. He was wearing a long dark coat and with the collar up to cover his facial features; dark hair, tall, fit.

"He has something in his right hand. It looks like a handkerchief or a piece of cloth!" Mordred said.

The dark figure leaned over Merlin. For a moment, it seemed as if he wanted to help, but a second later, he was holding him firmly on the trunk, pressing his hand with the white cloth over the Omega’s mouth and nose.

"What the hell is he doing?" Mordred asked the others.

“I don’t know, but Merlin has stopped moving...I believe the cloth was soaked with something that caused him to lose consciousness..." Gana whispered, still concentrated on the screen.

Each passing second, Arthur’s heart became heavier and his fists clenched, as the black-dressed figure lifted Merlin in his arms, clearly unconscious, and settled him in backseat of the car. Then, he looked around to make sure no one had seen him and drove away.

“It’s a kidnapping and it was clearly premeditated! Arthur, this is serious! That man wanted Merlin. The car went out of the parking lot when he saw him approaching the intersection. He hit him so that Merlin would not resist excessively. However, if he had wanted to harm him, he would have run him over with more violence. When he came out of the car, he was already holding a cloth, presumably soaked in chloroform, so he must have prepared everything previously... which means he knew Merlin somehow, that he had studied his movements, had waited and taken him as premeditated ... we must narrow our search to acquaintances, patients, friends. I can’t see the license plate of the car, damn it. That would have helped to track down the kidnapper!”

“Well, we know he drives a black Mercedes, right?”

“There are too many cars like that in London ... without a license plate, it is like finding a needle in a haystack!”

“Mordred, please, see if there are more videos to track the route of the car. If there are other cameras that keep an eye on the streets… I know there are...”

“I can try, but my father is not a big shot and for this video I have already asked a lot of favors ... I promise you nothing!"

"Okay, Mordred. You try!" Gana encouraged him.

"And you try to stay calm, Arthur. We'll find him, you'll see!”

The blond smiled weakly, heartened, but the relief on his face disappeared, when his attention was caught by the figure that was coming into the room from beyond the glass door.

“Well, well, what a miracle ... my son setting foot in the office. To what do we owe this honor? Did you come to learn from your sister? Your graduation is near...”

Uther Pendragon, famous lawyer and founder of Pendragon&Pendragon Law Firm, made his entrance in an elegant black suit, black shirt and red tie. His blue eyes were like those of his second child. His dark and powerful Alpha smell, fire and earth, demanded respect and instilled a thin fear in anyone around him.

“Hi, dad.” Arthur greeted him slowly, while Morgana stood between her brother and father, feeling the scent of the blond becoming acid in the presence of their parent. After what had happened when Arthur was young, the boy had developed a kind of holy terror against Uther over the years, and now that Gana knew their past, her protective instinct towards her brother had become rampant.

“What's going on here? ... Are you throwing a party? Morgana, you know we have to be in court in an hour. It's better to review the files of the Magnussen case and to start preparing...”

“Yes, dad. Let's go into the conference room. I have already prepared everything there. Sorry guys, but I have to go. I’ll see you for lunch?”

“Okay, Gana, see you later." Mordred said with an understanding look toward Arthur.

“Ah Arthur, by the way...” Uther said, planting his eyes on his son, "Keep yourself free tomorrow evening. It’s your uncle Agravaine’s birthday. We are having a family dinner.”

Arthur clenched his fists, tensing his muscles under the thin red shirt, and Uther noticed the tension of his jaw. In the current situation, celebrating something or someone was the last thing he wanted. He had to think about Merlin. He had no time for nonsense and he certainly was not in the spirit to celebrate anything that was not the rescue of his Omega.

"Dad, I don’t think ..." The blond began to excuse himself.

“I don’t tolerate exceptions, Arthur. Family is family. If you don’t want to linger, at least come and greet your uncle, eat with us and then go wherever you like. By the way, Vivian called me, asking about you ... it is time you decide to call her back. She is a beautiful and well-born Alpha.”

Arthur looked down and clenched his fists until his nails planted into his palms. He couldn’t think of having a relationship with anyone but Merlin; let alone with a full of herself Alpha, only because his father had nothing better to do than planning his future.

"See you tomorrow, Arthur!" Uther hissed, leaving the office.

Morgana turned to her brother, hugging him. "Be strong, Arthur. We will talk about it at lunch! Wait for me; I'll try to be as quick as possible..."

Arthur hugged her, sighing loudly, before letting her run after Uther in the meeting room.

Things went from bad to worse.

***

“I do not think that you know the whole story of what had happened between me and Will,” Agravaine said, tightening the rope around Merlin’s right ankle, blocking it at the foot of the bed, like the left one.

Merlin was still, hands and feet bounded, legs spread apart. The Omega's eyes were closed and his face turned to one side. His sweetish scent changed continuously, denoting stress and fear, tinged with dark notes.

Once finished the job, the Alpha took a bottle, resting on the table, and with a quick gesture, he put a few drops of the amber liquid contained therein on a handkerchief. Then, he put it on Merlin’s nose, who rebelled immediately against the contact. Holding his breath was useless.

The smell, soaked in the handkerchief, was vaguely reminiscent of pine and something else that Merlin did not recognize ...he was surprised when he realized he was not losing consciousness, as he had expected; on the contrary... his heart seemed to beat faster.

Thanks to his medical knowledge, he mustered the possible drugs he knew and their possible effects, but he could not concentrate ... his heart was beating too fast.

The Alpha sat on the bed next to him.

He seemed to be waiting for something...

“Ah he was really cute ... a bit like you. At the time, I taught history in a college. I've always loved young boys. In all senses of course. So fresh, a concentrated of hormones...I was delighted with all those young Omegas. Of course, at the time, my seductive arts were subtle. However, Will changed my life, and not exactly for the better..." The Alpha began to caress the flat stomach of the Omega.

Merlin gasped, starting to tremble visibly at the touch. His body had become hypersensitive. His heart was still pumping furiously and he had goose bumps. His Omega senses awoke powerfully.

“You must know I was walking through the corridors of the dormitory, it was a June afternoon and there was an unusual heat in the air. At some point, I felt a wonderful smell ... intense, sparkling and very sweet. It didn’t take me long to figure out where it was coming from. I remember I almost broke down the door, recognizing the smell of an Omega in Heat. I was absolutely blinded by lust." The Alpha said softly, telling him these words, imbued with desire and hatred, in the ear, while his hand continued to fall dangerously down on the Omega’s belly.

Merlin groaned, when he realized Agravaine was touching him and his body was responding, as it shouldn’t do. Shocked, he opened his eyes, trying to breath, hyperventilating, realizing only then in what the cloth was soaked: the Alpha had drugged him. It was a drug with a stimulant effect, which he hardly prescribed, except in very rare cases, since it has devastating effects on the metabolism. It’s dangerous, because in the wrong hands it could be used for improper purposes.

As in this case.

…Christ!

The brunet moaned, desperate, feeling his body tensing under that unwanted touch, praying any God that was listening to make that torture end soon. But the cruel grin that was painted on the face of the Alpha presaged the opposite.

He tried to rebel with all his strength, only to make the ropes tightening more around his ankles, injuring his white skin, ripping another gasp of pain from him.

The Alpha smirked. “My poor lovely Merlin ... You should have seen me, as I ripped Will’s clothes. While I took him, making him mine again and again. He moaned deliciously, like you right now...”

“YOU ARE A MONSTER, AGRAVAINE! YOU ARE A DAMN BASTARD!” Merlin shouted at him with all he had in his body, tears in his eyes and his body shaken by tremors of anger.

The following slap did not surprise Merlin. However, the pain passed in a moment, because soon after that, with a quick twist of his wrist, Agravaine gripped his manhood more tightly and began to masturbate him faster, enjoying the view of the helpless Omega under his touch, excited against his will.

“I created the Bond with him that very same day. Unfortunately, the story was discovered and I had to marry him in order not to lose my job. He was so sweet, naive and friendly. I broke him and taught him to love my perversions. He became my masterpiece, after transforming him according to my wishes ... you should have heard how much I was able to make him scream! Oh but you'll soon learn, my little Omega...!

Merlin felt his heart and his body breaking. Anger, grief, fear, frustration, excitement, shame and everything became too much, just too much.

Unable to hold back, he called Arthur with his mind, finding his light, pouring his despair in it, while he lost consciousness once again, thanking the darkness and embracing it with joy, while it enveloped him in a deep oblivion, like the darkest night, where not even the monsters could reach him...

***

In that moment, across town, an Alpha was shouting his anger to the sky and the earth, cursing the God that seemed not to listen to him...

Chapter Text

Morgana was shocked when she saw Merlin’s face among the many photos of the album that she was flipping.

Her fingertips lingered on the young facial features of the brunet, while her heart began to pound in her chest. Under her fingers, the face of a very young Merlin was showing itself off with a lot of more meat on the bones. He had an expression absolutely unreadable.

Why is Merlin in these family photos?

Intrigued, she rose softly from the leather armchair she was sitting in a moment before. Holding the album, she quickly went through the living room of the Pendragon manor, bare feet on the ancient creaking parquet.

It was her uncle Agravaine’s birthday and the girl had awakened that morning with the precise idea to find a picture of her relative to frame in a nice card.

That morning, however, flipping through the family albums, the last thing she had expected to find was Merlin.

Intrigued, she entered the patio where her father was having breakfast, Tea and biscuits. She greeted him and put the object with a thud before him.

Uther looked up, smiling at his daughter. He brushed a raven and rebel lock that was caught on her shoulder.

"Good morning, dear. What’s up so early in the morning?”

“I was looking for a photo of uncle Agravaine to put in his birthday card!" She said, pointing to the photo that portrayed Merlin, "and I found this ... he is a friend of mine. Can you tell me on what occasion were these photos taken? Who are these other people?”

Uther leaned on the album, flipping the pages, and the features of his face darkened. "Yes ... they were taken on your uncle’s wedding day... many many years ago”

Morgana’s heart jumped in her chest, as she opened her forest green eyes, suddenly interested. "I ... I did not know uncle Agravaine had been married"

"You didn’t know, because I have kept it hidden from the family. He married an Omega, but it did not end well. Probably, the brunet boy in the picture was a relative of the groom; I don’t know ... I never bothered to know these kind of people”

Morgana sat in front of her father. Her deep green eyes were alert and vigilant, as she began to play with a lock of black hair and urged him to tell that story she had never heard about.

“It happened many years ago. Your uncle was working as a teacher in a college ... I don’t remember the name ... and that guy, Will, I think was his name, was an Omega. With a shady trick, he made sure your uncle Agravaine found him in Heat, who in the hormonal madness took him and created the Bond. Obviously, I had to resolve the situation. To cover the scandal, I gave a generous donation to the College and imposed they married. They married in a hurry in a private ceremony. You and Arthur were on a study abroad trip in America ... do you remember?”

Morgana felt the blood freezing in her veins, while Gaius’ words made their way into her mind: it was Will. The person who had married his uncle was Will.

Merlin’s cousin.

"Yes...I remember you sent us to the USA for a few months, when we were younger. We are talking about many years ago. Why didn’t you tell me my uncle had got married in the meantime?”

“Because I have never approved of that marriage!" Uther said sharply, "You know what I think about the Alpha-Omega unions. I've never agreed and never accepted it! Your uncle was ensnared by that Omega, who was a liar and stupid like all Omegas. He had misled Agravaine to force him to Bond!"

Morgana clenched her fists and bit her lower lip. Her father had no right to say these things and sooner or later, she would make him go back on these words one by one. However, she bit her tongue, because in that moment she was only trying to understand.

“Tell me what happened ..."

"Nothing special. They married. And it ended badly"

"What do you mean it ended badly, dad?"

“The Omega died! He was also sterile. He had not been able to give my brother children and took his own life after a few years of marriage. Your uncle has suffered a lot! He mourned the death of his Omega for two years and then, he went on with his life. Although he had other possibilities, he has never taken them. He said there was something special about his Omega’s smell that he couldn’t find in others ... I don’t know. I have never understood him”

Morgana looked down at the photo of the young man near her uncle and at Merlin in the background.

Strange that Gaius was not there. Or perhaps not. The senior doctor had told her of the problematic relationship between his nephew and his husband, often described as a torturer.

The story the old doctor had told her was obviously quite different from the one her father had just told. From what Gaius had described, Agravaine was a monster, a control freak, who used to blame his Omega for not giving him children and to use violence freely, hurting his husband to the point where Will had spontaneously aborted twice. Will was afraid to give him children, given his tendency to be violent. Merlin and Gaius had repeatedly attempted to propose to Will to break the Bond. But the boy had a too mild and weak character and he could not do something like that if there was still time.

Once depression took over, there had been nothing more to do.

The end of the boy had been tragic and Merlin had died inside, due to his cousin’s death.

“Obviously, don’t say anything to your uncle! For him it had been tragic to lose his Omega. But deep down, it has been better this way. My brother has always been too weak and indulgent towards them. However, it is in the past now. You should get ready now and go to pick Arthur up wherever he is! I checked: he did not sleep at home. Agravaine should arrive around 13 for lunch.

Do me a favor… while you look for your brother, go to Christie's and take the cake I have ordered, please. This morning I have an important work call to make”

Morgana exhaled sadly. "All right. See you later, dad. "

With a graceful gesture, she closed the photo album and laid it against her chest. She took it back in the large library in the central hall of the Pendragon Villa.

She was shocked by what she had heard.

She would have never suspected that a monster like that was hiding in her family. Certainly, now that she had connected the dots, she would not be able to see her uncle Agravaine as the same person who used to hold her on his lap when she was a child.

But now, there was something more important to think about.

Clutching in her lilac petticoat, fluttering around her at every step, she quickly went to her room to change. She dialed her brother’s number.

No answer.

After a moment, her phone rang: it was Gwaine.

"Your brother is here at home. He is sleeping in Merlin’s bed. If I was not so pissed off with him, he would be endearing, Gana.”

She smiled weakly. "Wake him up! I am going to pick him up around noon. We have a family commitment at lunchtime...”

“Honestly I have not the heart to, Gana. He has two big dark circles under his eyes. Last night I found him in the park in front of the house punching a tree in the dark. I heard his scream from my bedroom. We talked a lot. About his feelings, his sensations, his despair. He collapsed around four in the morning ... I have not totally forgiven him yet for what he did to Merlin, but I can feel the love he has for him. I see it, Gana. It hurts me to see him like this, nearly as much as it hurts me not to know where Merl is. It’s a really bad situation”

“I know, Gwaine. I know! But I have some good sensations. You see… we’ll find him soon! You know I'm a witch!”

“I know, Gana, I know. I only pray it will be over soon! I'm going to make coffee, before waking him up. Bye, dear. See you later at home! I’ll pass your message.”

“Ok, see you later, Gwy” She ended the call with a half-smile.

She finished dressing herself quickly, before reaching a corner of her room near the window, where there were a series of decorative pumpkins, small and large and of a thousand of different colors, on a table full of objects.

Her thin fingers caressed them all until she reached a yellow pumpkin, wonderfully round and not too big. Morgana picked it up and noticed the underside was wet.

She took a small white cloth and gently wiped the oozing of the vegetable. When she was done, she pressed it to her heart with a heavy expression, as to lull the little yellow cotton ball.

"Be strong, Merlin. Hold on. We will be with you soon" She whispered to the pumpkin, placing a light kiss on it.

Because of an ancient belief that her mother had taught her, each year Morgana took a pumpkin, which represented a relative, a family member or a friend. Each pumpkin protected a person, attracting upon itself the negativity, being a litmus test of what was happening to the protected person. If the pumpkin was oozing, the protected person was in danger or in a severe stressed situation.

And Merlin’s pumpkin had been oozing since he was kidnapped, an unmistakable sign of what was happening to him.

"Soon, Merlin ..." Gana whispered, placing the pumpkin near with the others and leaving the room.

***

That morning, Merlin awoke with Agravaine clinging on him.

Just feeling the Alpha’s acrid smell in his nostrils made him feel so bad inside that the physical pain, in various sore spots of his body, was nothing compared to the wounds that every contact and every caress of that monster had procured to his heart.

However, that dawn had brought something different: taut skin, slightly sweaty, sensitive, general fatigue, hunger, heat and an almost inhuman need to have his own Alpha close.

Merlin swallowed stronger than he actually wanted, while a dark fear began to make its way into him, squeezing his heart in a vise mercilessly.

The symptoms were unmistakable and, as a doctor, he recognized them one by one: soon he would go into Heat.

The only thought that comforted him was that at least, no matter how much Agravaine wanted him and how fiercely he could rape him, Merlin wouldn’t be able to give him children, at least not this time.

The first Heat of an Omega after years of suppressors was always sterile. His body had to return to its normal canonical hormonal functions. This Heat would in no way produce children, even if he had spent it with Arthur, as he wanted.

The latter thought crushed his heart.

…Arthur...

He closed his eyes, seeking him in his mind to find a bit of comfort. He found his warmth and the subtle bond between them as a reassuring golden light, pulsing, exhausted, in the shadows behind his eyelids.

Arthur was suffering too. Merlin could clearly perceive it and this hurt him even more… if possible.

He wanted his Alpha more than anything else in the world.

But he was not there.

And the beast was waking up.

With a brief shudder of his muscles, Agravaine covered his naked body with his own, burying his nose in his neck, grinding his teeth.

“Good morning, my little Omega ... hum what a good smell you have." He said, starting to laugh almost hysterically on his skin. “So, here we are... by tonight, tomorrow at latest, you’ll be in Heat. Your smell is the same as Will’s ... so pure, so delicious...”

Merlin closed his eyes and turned his mouth away from the kisses of his tormentor, who in response began to lick greedily his long pale neck, sending cold chills along his slender body. He trembled fiercely, as Agravaine’s hands closed on his sex, immediately receptive and tense because of his condition.

“Look at you. Soon, you'll be ready for me. You're something unique and wonderful. Something special. My Merlin. You'll soon learn to indulge my needs and I will take you as no one else has ever done. You'll have me so planted inside of you you will beg me to stop and I, magnanimously, won’t listen to you and I will take you again and again. I will pleasure you as never before and soon, you will become pregnant and round with my offspring"

The Omega cursed himself again for the weakness of his nature.

“I'm not going to have children with you, Agravaine. I have just got out of a very long cycle of suppressors; therefore, I fear you'll be greatly and sorely disappointed if you expect me to carry anything that might belong to you. And for the record, before that happens, I’ll kill myself… just as Will did!”

The punch that landed on his jaw cracked his lip, causing him to emit a long wail of pain.

“Believe what you want, Omega. We will talk again tonight, while you beg me to rape you! I don’t care for the children you will give me. If this Heat is not receptive, the next will be... I am a patient man. But nothing will take the pleasure to hear you scream away from me. And now, forgive me, but I have to prepare myself. I am having lunch with my family for my birthday. A real pain in the ass. But I have to obey traditions; it’s my family after all...”

Having said that, he got out of bed with a cat-like leap and Merlin was able to resume breathing as soon as the Alpha was gone.

Half an hour later, the kidnapper made a show of himself in the middle of the room with a pair of black elegant trousers, a shirt of the same color and a black jacket, in perfect combination with the pants, while the Omega laid on the bed, quiet and still, to prevent any violent reaction from the Alpha or worse.

Agravaine pushed a plate with bread and the cold soup from the night before near Merlin. The brunet had not touched it, like almost any food the Alpha had served him during those three days. Until then, avoiding eating had been quite simple. He would rather starve to death than indulging that ignoble monster. However, now that his Heat was coming, refusing food had become far more complicated.

“Eat, Merlin. You have to regain your strength for tonight, for when I start my courtship. And if I don’t find that plate empty, I'll know how to make you pay and trust me, it will not be pleasant”

The Omega squeezed his arms around his subtle body and sighed loudly. He was really tired of the whole situation, exacerbated by the fear and the violence.

He was close to his breaking point.

“Come on, don’t be like that!" Agravaine pushed him back on the mattress, licking his neck again, lying on him again, even if fully dressed. "Tonight we’ll be together and I’ll tie you to me ... a bit of patience, my sweet Omega. You'll see… you'll be happy to wear my collar and to call me master...”

The brunet looked at him defiantly, obviously furious.

In response, the Alpha laid above him, blocking him again and licking the skin of his chest and biting hard, making him bleed slightly.

Merlin groaned in despair, unable to hold back the tears.

"See you tonight, my little Omega. Wait for me and prepare yourself if you can...”

Once Agravaine’s steps became distant and Merlin heard the door of the house shutting, his heart began to beat faster, his muscles relaxed and the pillow swallowed his despair and all his tears.

Not only Arthur would not find him in time; he would have to bond with an Alpha he didn’t love and that didn’t love him. With time, nothing was going to prevent Agravaine to have what he wanted.

Unless Merlin found the strength to kill himself.

It was funny.

For years, he had been angry with Will for his gesture, for leaving him alone against the world.

And now, he would follow his same steps.

Closing his eyes, filled with tears, he whispered his Alpha’s name to give himself courage, calling him as a sweet lullaby, unable to suppress his feelings, in order not to bother him.

…Arthur…

...Arthur...

...Save me...

***

“Why must we do this thing, Gana? Christ I’m not in the mood to see my father, less of all my uncle..." Arthur spat, shirtless in his room at Pendragon Villa, while his sister, fully dressed, was sitting in a chair with her legs crossed. She was scanning her brother’s perfect body, undressed in front of her.

“I know, Arthur. I am in the same situation, but you know how our father is. If we are not present to celebrate our uncle, he will probably disinherit us"

"Fuck, Gana, I ...”

“I tried to explain to our father you're not in the mood, that you're not well and that you have other concerns, but you know what Uther said?"

"Christ Gana, spare me his bullshit, please. Merlin is sick. I feel him. I feel he is weakening and getting worse and he is calling me. He is calling me and I ...fuck I cannot reach him!" Arthur spat, desperate, punching the wall, strongly enough to crack the plaster.

Morgana stood, hugging him from behind, placing her cheek on his mighty back and her palms on his chest, rocking him slowly, as she did when she was a child, when Arthur could not sleep. Instinctively, the blond leaned against her and his restless heart beats calmed down suddenly.

“You really are a witch," Arthur hissed, placing his hands on his sister’s, happy to be cuddled.

“I know,” She smiled, caressing him sweetly, hugging his heat even more.

“I have to find him, Gana. I love him. I would give my life for him, because he has already my soul. And I have been so stupid and dump. So damn useless and immersed in my pride I've got it all wrong. I was not there when he needed me. I have hurt him by denying myself, leaving him and losing him again as soon as I found him..." Arthur sighed. His voice cracked.

“Arthur, don’t feel so guilty. You were wrong, that’s true, but you have realized your mistakes with me, with us, and even Merlin has forgiven you. He has been able to wait for you. He really wanted you, because he has seen what a wonderful Alpha you are. He loves you and you have to be strong for him," She finished, forcing her brother to turn, losing her emerald eyes in his sky blue ones. "And now, my prince with stormy eyes, let’s find you a shirt you can wear. Our uncle is about to arrive and I'm not going to put up with another useless lecture from our father just because we are late...”

That said, the both of them busied themselves to dress the blonde as best as possible.

Eventually, Arthur walked down the stairs of the landing squeezed in a pair of black jeans, black and white Sneakers, white shirt and a black jacket, not too formal. His sister followed him, dressed in a sober indigo suit. She was much more elegant.

Both were quick to get to the hall, where they could catch a glimpse, through the already open door, of their uncle’s black car, parked in the small plot in front of the house.

Morgana instinctively took her brother’s hand and looked at him intensely to give him strength. Arthur was a mask of pain; his jaw taut and his full lips stretched into a thin line; his sky blue eyes were so tired and firmly planted on the floor.

When Agravaine greeted Uther at the door, Morgana drew her brother by force to greet their relative, seeing that the boy was standing motionless.

…A step…

…Another….

…Then another…

Arthur didn’t even notice the strength with which he pulled his sister back, as soon as his nostrils captured a sweet smell in the air that he knew too well.

Immediately, all his being came to life, his sky eyes returned to shine, wide with surprise, as every cell in his body froze, staring to recognize what his palpitating heart had already recognized.

Closing his eyes, he sniffed the air strongly to confirm his suspicions. When he opened them, he met Morgana’s emerald gaze. He was clutching her hand with a probably excessive force, mirroring the tension of his body, while his mind analyzed the subtle scent that permeated the air.

Omega, without Bond, Pure, Lavender and bergamot, the more amber note indicated the approaching of the Heat.

The girl looked at her brother’s face and in a moment, her face changed from concern to wonder, to uncertainty, to awareness, to anger, as her fingers clung those of the blond. Both siblings looked at the black figure close to Uther at the same time.

Merlin’s smell, sweet, clear and unmistakable, had entered the room with him. And the both of them had recognized it.

“Arthur, Morgana, how are you, guys?" Agravaine greeted them, opening his arms, seeing his nephew and niece running to him together.

His expression changed radically, when he realized Arthur was coming to him a bit too fast for a friendly hug. Besides, Morgana’s eyes, advancing at Arthur’s same pace, had a touch of fire he had never seen.

The last thing Agravaine heard, before a right punch connected with his jaw, putting him down, was Uther's voice, uttering, "Arthur, what are you ...", then nothing.

Stunned, he fell on the floor, rolling on the wooden floor of the lobby. He did not even have the time to understand what was happening, because two strong hands seized him by the collar and lifted him up, slamming him hard against the wall, forcing his lungs to empty.

Arthur’s smell was salty, sour, extremely dark, night and shadow. What his scent was not saying, his fiery eyes were.

"Arthur, what the hell are you doing??”

“YOU, DAMNED BASTARD! TELL ME IMMEDIATELY WHERE MERLIN IS OR I SWEAR I WILL KILL YOU,” Arthur cried out in the throes of a blind fury, continuing to throw Agravaine violently against the wall.

"I don’t know what you're talking about! You are mad!”

Immediately, Uther’s hands were on his son's shoulder, trying to dissuade the boy from hitting his brother again, but Morgana came between them and dragged her father away from the fray with a sharp gesture.

“Arthur, STOP IT! Morgana, you too! WHAT THE HELL HAS COME OVER YOU?” Uther cried in anger, trying to push his daughter away, holding him firmly in place, despite her slender and light body.

“Dad, I love you, but just this once SHUT UP!!” Morgana replied, annoyed, looking back towards her brother, who by then was literally filling their uncle with punches, sending him flying to the ground.

Once lying on the floor, Arthur sat on him and, despite the fact the Alpha on the ground tried to keep him away by hitting him from that unfortunate position, the blond dodged him and continued to hit him again and again, reducing his face to a swollen pile of bruises and blood.

“Talk, you piece of shit. TALK! You have his scent on you! You are covered! Talk!”

“Stop it. Stop it, please” Agravaine whined, protecting his face.

“Tell me where my Omega is and pray he is safe, because everything that was done to him I will do it to you, asshole!”

In response, Agravaine laughed, as if he were mad, moaning in pain due to his own gesture.

“And why should I tell you?" He hissed, spitting blood on Arthur’s white shirt. "He is mine and mine alone. He is my Omega, not yours!”

“He is at his house! I bet he is at his home! Arthur, Mordred told me he saw more videos of the black car that had run Merlin over. He followed it, tracing the path from there. Its last sighting was in the north-east part of London, where Agravaine lives. And it’s there they had found Will the last time!" Gana exploded, as if struck by a lightning strike.

“Will?” Her brother said, punching again the not yet overly battered face of Agravaine. "What’s Will got to do with this now?”

“Will, Arthur! Agravaine was his husband! It was because of him he killed himself! Will was Agravaine’s Omega! He and Merlin have a similar smell, that’s why he has kidnapped him!”

Suddenly, Gwaine’s words echoed clear in his mind...

We were having tea at Gaius’s house. We were still in College and I was always at Merlin’s house, before we moved in together. Merlin had the cup in his hand and we were laughing about nothing... Then, the phone rang. Merlin answered and his expression changed immediately. I will never forget how he had started to tighten up the phone. I went to hear who it was and the voice on the other side of the phone was Will’s. The more the other talked and cried, the more Merlin became paler. He kept saying ‘No, Will, don’t do it. We’ll find another way. Jesus, calm down and don’t do anything stupid. I’m coming, Will, wait for me. Wait for me, please...’. Gaius was out, we didn’t know where. Therefore, we took our bikes and went to the villa where Will and his captor lived. Jesus, Merlin broke down the front door by kicking it. Can you see him? He, small and skinny seventeen years old, throwing himself against that door... we entered into the house, calling Will, but no one answered. We looked in all the rooms, but in the end, it was the sound of running water to make us unable to breathe. In the end, we went into the bathroom. Will was there. In the tub full of overflowing water. Marble skin, eyes closed, pale lips, wrists cut to the nerve and a pool of blood all around. For a moment, I went in tilt. Before I could recover, Merlin had already entered the bathtub and hugged Will tightly. God, he called him repeatedly and he would not let him go. I remember I had to lift him away from the lifeless body of his cousin by force, while screaming and crying...”

And his heart stopped in his chest.

Giving a look of understanding to Morgana, he stood up, releasing the battered body beneath him, making sure to kick him in the groin, making Agravaine double over. Then, he rushed to the entrance of the hall, took the car keys resting near a huge mirror and ran out to get the car.

Meanwhile, the girl let Uther go from her grasp and let him run to his brother. She went to get her phone, starting to dial Gwaine’s number.

“Gwy, it’s Gana. We know where Merlin is. Get Gaius and reach us at Agravaine’s villa. Yes, Agravaine. I bet you remember perfectly where it is. See you there!" She said, advancing quickly toward the exit. Then, she stopped. She turned and bended over her uncle’s aching and whining body and slapped him on the bloody and swollen lump that his face had become.

“MORGANA!!! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU AND ARTHUR DOING?? ARE YOU CRAZY???” Uther exploded. His face was red with anger and his blue eyes were wide.

“Dad, I'm telling you this now with great love and respect: PISS OFF AND SHUT UP!!” Morgana snapped, flushed as much as her father was.

Uther's eyes widened and he immediately closed his mouth.

That said, Morgana stood, directing a cold stare at the both of them and hurried toward Arthur, who was waiting outside with the car door open...

Chapter Text

Arthur couldn’t hear anything but the crazy beat of his heart straight in his stomach, while he violated every existing rules of the road traffic with his gray Mercedes. He forced Morgana to cling to her seat, as not to bump into the blond at every turn and every braking.

Gana looked at Arthur briefly, putting a hand on his forearm, hoping to calm him down, obviously failing. The blond’s eyes were so dilated they seemed almost black and his smell was the darkest thing you could ever imagine.

Anger, grief, despair and again, anger anger anger.

His jaw was tense, his full lips closed in a thin line, while the muscles flickered under his unbuttoned white shirt, flexing at every change of gear or direction. His right hand tortured the stick-shift, squeezing and hitting it with such force that he could tear it.

Even Morgana didn’t dare say anything, for fear to unleash the beast, barely concealed under her brother’s skin, ready to explode as soon as he saw his Omega.

Yeah, Merlin.

The girl closed her eyes, hoping fervently Agravaine hadn’t hurt him too much, otherwise Arthur would never settle for just punching him: he’d pretend his life in exchange… rightfully so. She felt a lump in her throat remembering Gaius’ words about Will’s mate. About which kind of violence and torture he had undergone to abort in secret and above all, to ensure he decided to take his own life.

Three days were not a lot, but everything could have happened in the hands of that monster. Gana was really afraid of what might have happened.

It took them less than ten minutes to get to the narrow road at the end of which stood Agravaine’s house.

“The gate is close!” Morgana said, pointing at the black gate that closed the access to the garden.

“It's not a problem! Hold on, Gana!" Arthur growled low, accelerating exponentially, throwing his car into the gate that was ripped without any problem, while Morgana clung to the seats without hesitation. Her heart exploded in her chest.

“All right?" The blond asked, placing a hand on his sister's shoulder, brushing her black hair, as soon as the car stopped in the gravel driveway in the courtyard of Agravaine’s house.

The girl let out a deep breath to clear the shock.

"I’m fine, Artie. Let's go!" She said a little shock, but ready to exit the car and to follow her brother, who briskly ran up the steps in front of the door, pouncing on it with an impressive ferocity, starting to kick and to shove it.

Meanwhile, behind them, Gana recognized Gwaine’s car, also crossing the fence, stopping just behind theirs.

The boy dashed out of the car, almost running, and so did Gaius, clutching Morgana’s shoulder in greeting. He stayed away from the door, where the brown haired man and blond alternated each other against the wood.

After less than a minute, the door creaked and then, it was completely unhinged. Arthur and Gwaine rushed over the threshold, breaking in the house, shouting Merlin’s name loudly.

Gwaine went immediately toward the bathroom, where they had found Will years before. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the empty bathtub.

On the other hand, Arthur stopped in the hall, closing his eyes due to the force with which Merlin’s smell crept into his nostrils: the Heat had to be close, because the well-known amber note was overwhelming.

Without a word, he walked to the steps, leading upstairs, two by two, going without hesitation toward the room down the corridor. His senses were alert, looking desperately for his Omega.

With his heart pounding in his throat, he opened the white door in front of him.

When he took in the scene that was before him, his eyes clouded with tears.

Merlin was there, pale, lying on the bed. His white and slender body was naked and curled up on itself, while he slept, exhausted. His face was marked by deep black circles. His typically full and shiny lips were dry and with a flashy cut on the lower lip. A bruise was on the left of his mouth, sign of a well-aimed blow. His black hair was a bit longer than usual and completely disheveled on his forehead. A thin layer of black beard was on his cheeks. Leather handcuffs, attached to the head of the bed by a rope, bound his thin wrists. His chest was showing various bruises and teeth marks, numerous scratches and bruises even on the neck and arms. His ankles showed obvious signs of ligature marks, which had left burning marks, probably because he rebelled against the torture he had suffered.

When Arthur stepped into the room, he was not Arthur anymore, but something dark and sinister that had taken his place

***

As soon as they set foot in Agravaine’s house, Percy, Mordred and Leon had to use all their skills to try to calm their instincts. The smell of an Omega in pre-estrus was sparkling and strong enough to put all the present unmated Alphas on alert.

“What’s happening, Gwy? Where is Merlin? Is he okay?" Percival asked his boyfriend, opening all the windows to make the surrounding more comfortable for him and his companions.

“He is up with Arthur, but we need your help..." Gana said from upstairs, hearing the Knights’ voice. They had appeared less than half an hour after them. "Things are not going well!”

“What do you mean, Gana?” Percy asked, reaching her upstairs with the others behind him.

"Arthur has lost his mind!" Gwaine said over her shoulders.

All of them stood on the landing of the first floor, intercepted by Gaius, who signed to them to calm down, eager to explain what was happening.

“We have a problem, Percival.” The doctor began seriously. "Arthur was shocked by Merlin’s conditions. He suffered various types of violence. I know it from the marks on his body, but I cannot get close to my nephew because Arthur is not allowing anyone to enter. He is not allowing others or me to touch Merlin. When we entered the room, he was releasing him from his restrains. However, as soon as I tried to get close with Gana, Arthur started to growl low and threatened to kill us if we stayed in the room”

The boys eyes widened: how was it possible that Arthur had certain attitudes toward those who wanted to help him...

“What you are saying cannot be true. I know Arthur; he would never threaten a person, let alone one he takes in great consideration! It’s impossible..." Mordred interjected.

“No. He can indeed. Arthur has regressed in pure Alpha Phase. It’s rare, especially in the Primes. However, it can happen that when an Alpha goes into shock, he sinks in an almost purely animalistic level, made of instincts and absolutely no human reason. This happens when the Alpha is about to lose his life or when he feels that a person he is Bonded to is in danger. In this case, he felt so guilty and so angry about what happened to his Omega to lose his reason momentarily. If I were to enter now, trying to get close to Merlin, he would probably kill me. We must help the both of them!" Gaius said.

“What should we do?" Leon asked at that point.

"Percy, Leon, Mordred, you have to try to block Arthur, while Gwaine and I take Merlin away. Gana, you try to talk to your brother, trying to wake him from where he has lost himself. The kinship is strong between you. Once we take Merlin in another room and cover his scent, Arthur should be able to recover. All clear?" The doctor asked to the large group before him.

Everyone nodded, convinced.

“Let’s go to war,” Gana whispered.

One step after another, they walked down the hallway, leading to the room where the fight would take place.

The first to enter was Percy; the others were right behind him.

The room was large and well lit up.

Arthur was in the left corner. His back against the wall.

He had wrapped Merlin’s sleeping body in a white sheet and was holding him in his arms, rocking and holding him close to his chest. He had lift him as if he had no weight. His nose was deep in Merlin’s dark hair, eyes closed as he whispered his name softly and with despair.

The sight astounded everyone because of the tenderness of that gesture. But they had to act to help Merlin as soon as possible.

Percy took a step forward, his hands raised and palms open, presenting, as well as Leon and Mordred behind him.

Only then, did the blond reacted, sensing the smell of the other Alphas. He began to growl low, warning. He muscles tensed and he clutched the slender body in his arms even more.

“Arthur, let him go.” Percy tried gently, approached with another step. "We are not going to hurt him, but he needs medical attention. You know that too. Nobody here wants to claim him. We know Merlin is yours. Don’t worry. I just want his uncle to check him up. Let him go, Arthur”

In response, the blond sent a grim look at them. His eyes were completely black, while he gently rested Merlin’s body on the floor. He moved in position to attack, snarling with greater ferocity, "Mine". His muscles were tense and he had a salt, sour and dark as night smell, so much to send a shiver down everyone’s spine, regardless of their belonging species.

Percy took a moment to regain control of his instincts. Going against the will of a Prime was something totally unnatural for a normal Alpha, but in this case, the situation was less than 'normal'.

He took another step forward in open defiance and a moment later, he could distinctly feel Arthur’s hands around his neck. The blond had leapt forward in a second, with the clear intention to attack his friend. Arthur mounted on him with enough force to throw him off balance, causing Percy to fall on the floor.

Immediately, Mordred and Leon went to help Percy, trying to stop Arthur. However, the blond, prey of the blindest fury, punched Mordred and hit Leon strongly with his head, who was trying to remove him from above Percy.

Mordred recovered instantly and charged Arthur on his side, causing him to lose his balance, making him fall to the side. Leon quickly blocked his right arm on the ground, while Mordred sat on him and Percy blocked his left arm, giving him a well-aimed punch.

Arthur took the blow grudgingly, but trying desperately to free himself from his attackers.

“Gana, Gwy, take Merlin away from here now!!” Percy shouted to the others that stood back, not knowing what to do.

The two friends shot forward, past the bed. Gwaine gently picked Merlin’s body up, tightly wrapped in the blanket. He put him up on his shoulder and led him quickly to Gaius that awaited for him in the doorway.

"Hurry, boy, hurry!" The old man exhorted, making way to the brown haired man, closing the door as soon as he went out with the precious cargo in his arms.

Then, Morgana opened the window, trying to get a minimum of fresh air in the room and mitigate Merlin’s smell. Once she did it, she leaned on her brother, who was still kicking, biting and growling like an animal on the floor, precariously held by the other three Alphas.

Closing her eyes, she put her face against Arthur’s. Her soft hands slid into his hair, beginning to massage his skin with regular circles, like when they were children and she had to calm him down because of his nightmares. With a silkily, soft and flute-like voice, she began to whisper on his forehead: "Calm down, Artie. It's me. I'm here. I'm not leaving you. Calm down...”

Almost immediately, Arthur stopped struggling, but his muscles were still tense and his teeth gritted, as if the beast in him had calmed down, but was still ready to fight.

Morgana waved to Mordred to move and she took his place on Arthur’s body. She laid down on him, her forehead in contact with his right cheek, her ear on his pounding heart and her left hand in his hair.

“Calm down, Artie...like this...like this...I’m here with you. I'm here now to protect you.”

When Arthur’s irises came back clear, he realized to be hyperventilating. His sister was lying on top of him and his three best friends were blocking his hands and feet. His heart slowly returned to its normal beat, stopping pounding in his ears.

Merlin’s smell was still thin and persistent in the air, but his Omega was not in the room… at least that was what his sense of smell was telling him.

Focusing, he noticed the bruises on the faces of his friends and asked himself the reason for this strange situation. At least for a moment before the last vivid memories of what had happened returned. He had entered the room. He had seen Merlin. Then, something had snapped in him and from there, he remembered nothing...

“Merlin, is he fine? Where is he? What happened?" Arthur asked quietly, as he tried again to connect the fragments of the memories, lost in the unknown of his mind.

"Merlin is fine. His uncle is treating him. Calm down now..." Gana said, still on top of him.

Arthur gave a meaningful look to his friends to make them understand that he was fine. They let him free, smiling at see him coming back to his senses. The blond embraced his sister to him protectively.

“I heard your voice in the darkness, Gana. You really are a witch. But I love you...”

The girl hugged her brother and placed a light kiss on his cheek. "Me too, my little prince with stormy eyes. And now let's try to recover!”

That said, she stood up with her brother and everyone went out. Gwaine met them down the hall of the first floor, informing them Merlin was in another room, since Gaius feared Arthur would go back to the Alpha Phase if he saw him again. Therefore, he asked everyone to sit downstairs, at least until they decided what to do.

Arthur immediately objected, but Gwaine didn’t back down.

“Arthur, we know how much you care for him. But now, Merlin needs medical care and not an Alpha that would mount him almost immediately due to his Heat. Give us the time to treat him and to understand what to do. He is here and safe. No one will take him away from you again. Rest assured. Ok?”

The blond swallowed, clenching his fists and fighting his instinct that was shouting in his every pore to reach his Omega and to help him.

Gana's hand came down on her brother’s clenched fist and that brief contact was enough to calm him down.

"All right." He said. Then, he went downstairs.

"I'm sorry to see him like this, but this is a delicate phase, guys. Merlin is on the threshold of his first Heat after the suppressors, which in itself it’s not easy to deal with, but after what he has suffered, we have to rehydrate him and cure his wounds ... Gana, help us, please. Take a bowl, hot water and towels."

The others nodded, understanding the delicacy of the moment very well. The girl immediately move to help.

***

Believe it or not, he was beating his father.

After all, it wasn’t like he had never wanted to do.

But now, he was doing it and it was really...liberating.

***

Once reassured about Merlin’s conditions, Arthur went out in the garden of the villa along with Leon and Percy to get some air. That place disturbed him deeply and he could not wait to take Merlin away from there.

Mordred had gone into the kitchen to make a cup of tea for everyone, hoping to calm tempers all round.

The blond was thanking his life-long friends for having been by his side in that difficult situation.

However, the roar of a black Mercedes, which made its entrance in the driveway, swallowed his words.

When Uther rushed out of the car, he immediately went toward his son, giving him a resounding slap on the cheek.

Arthur didn’t move, but held out his jaw and clenched his fists, while his pheromones went crazy again, indicating he was ready to attack. The look he sent to Uther was cold.

“HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND? You and your sister hitting my brother and reducing him almost an inch of his life?? Have you gone completely craz-”

He could not finish the sentence because Arthur gave him a right punch, strong enough to send him to the ground.

“Uther” Arthur began, “My uncle kidnapped and tortured MY OMEGA. Therefore, what I did was right and just. And if you dare defend that monster, I will forget you are my father and not hesitate to deal out justice. Against him and if I have to, even against you!" The Alpha spat furious. Percy and Leon were immediately next to him.

Uther was shocked, as he clearly read the homicidal instincts in his son’s smell. He could not believe the feeling of hatred transpiring from the blond.

Then, his brain began to connect his son’s words. He got up, while holding his jaw, maintaining a safe distance this time.

“An...an OMEGA? You have caused all this mess for an Omega?? Your Omega?! Oh God Arthur, have you learned nothing from what I said during these years? Omegas are ignoble beings. First your uncle got tangled up with that scum, and now you too?? NO, NO and NO! I’m gonna stop you from making stupid mistakes, Arthur. You will never establish the Bond with an Omega! I won’t allow you to ruin your life as Agravaine did. You will marry and Alpha and create Primes, as your mother and I did! Even if it’s the last thing I do!”

“You sound just like your father, Uther Pendragon.”

The voice was thin behind him, barely audible over the hot summer wind blowing around them.

"I would have never thought one day you'd be the one saying them...”

Uther froze completely at that; his eyes wide, as his brain tried to connect something. His Prime senses were alert, but not due to danger. But due to something different and much more terrifying.

Those words.

That voice inflection.

That accent, so particular.

Uther's heart began to pound in his ears, as he lowered his hands. He closed his eyes, imposing himself to breathe and to regain the breath that seemed to have been torn from his lungs by force.

That smell.

Omega, without Bond, pure.

That essence spoke of sun, of long summers spent on books to prepare for the exams. Light hair and sky blue eyes. A smile he had imposed himself to forget. A simple boy with big dreams and a good heart, clear as water; grown up in Ireland with a French mother. He had never lost that particular inflection that graced his words.

And now, that sweet smell came back to his nostrils after years. The scent he had dreamed a thousand of times, along with the boy it belonged to. White skin and stars. Then, Uther denied it and closed it in the darkest and deep den of his mind, in a prison of blood and painful memories, from which he had never really been able to escape.

A Broken Bond.

And now, that smell was returning from the shadows to torture him. That voice was like a sword, still stuck heavily in his heart.

Uther found himself with tears in his hyaline eyes, unable to turn around to look at the person he would have given his life for once.

He turned slowly towards the threshold of his brother’s house.

And he was there, along with his daughter.

Despite his facial features were different, older, they were still fascinating.

Tall, gray hair, like his, but of a lighter color. The same long thin hands, intertwined, as he was used to do when they were young boys. An expression of pain and reproach that Uther would not forget easily.

He had never forgotten it.

It was the same of when he had told him to leave him, because it was too important for him to stay in the Pendragon family. That with the family he would have a bright future and that he could not throw it away to be with a simple Omega.

Yet, each time he had told him that nothing would have moved him from his decision and that he would have remained at his side, despite the contrary will of his father, that pouting mouth had stretched in a sympathetic smile. Because even he had never endured the idea of being apart from each other.

But he had never said it.

He had never imposed his will, unlike his father.

And Uther had loved him for that.

A flood of painful memories emerged from that prison, destroying him deeply.

The only Omega he had ever loved and the only one he had ever established the Bond with.

The only one who managed to break his heart.

“Jean Gaius De La Croix” Uther whispered to himself, taking a step toward him.

The senior doctor called Percival and Leon and went into the house without another word. The boys followed him, Arthur not far behind them. But not before he sent an icy look at his father, who stood stiffly on the gravel of the driveway, trying to recover from the shock!

After a few minutes, he followed them.

***

Percival went down the stairs with Merlin in his arms, fully clothed, but wrapped in a blanket, still asleep.

“I have sedated him," Gaius said to Arthur, "But he's fine. Now I have to get him out of here fast. I don’t want him to wake up in this house and I don’t want the police in the way. Arthur, I ask you a little of more patience. I am taking him to my house and you'll be able to see him tomorrow if you want and if Merlin will feel up to it. These are critical hours. I have to give him antibiotics and make sure he doesn’t have lacerations, internal injuries or major hidden bleeding. He has been beaten very strongly...”

Arthur felt a huge lump in his throat at those words and tears emerge on his cheeks. He had failed to defend his Omega once and the idea he was about to be taken away again, even if only for one day, hurt him deadly; especially now he was in Heat and every cell of his body asked him to claim him as his.

“I know what you're thinking, Arthur. No one will prevent you from Bonding with Merlin, but not while he is in these conditions. I beg you to respect it. However, I can read the disappointment in your smell. I will allow you to bite his neck. It’s a light bite obviously. It doesn’t establish the Bond, but it will keep the both of you more relaxed, until you establish the Bond in the canonical way. It will allow you to mark your Omega visibly, obeying your Alpha instincts to claim him, and Merlin will have the impression of having his own Alpha near. The sense of belonging will help him recovering faster.”

The blond nodded, calmer. He approached Merlin and leaned over him, carefully moving his head sideways and losing himself in his wonderful fragrance. Immediately, his pheromones wrapped his Omega’s body, trying to impress themselves on him.

Arthur reached the base of the neck of the brunet. He licked it gently, basking for another second in the essence and smell of his skin. His heart was beating fast in his chest. He sank his teeth, being careful not to break the Bond gland.

Merlin moaned slightly in his sleep.

Once he was done, he licked the small wound to heal it and he felt better immediately, acknowledging his own mark and smell on the Omega.

***

Merlin awoke to the smell of lavender in his nostrils. His brain needed only a moment to recognize the only place he knew to give that essence in the air: his uncle’s countryside house.

He opened his eyes, finding himself in the bedroom. The walls made of ancient stone, the warm floors and a large fireplace to his right. The scent of crackling wood spread around and the fire reverberated an amber light everywhere, while the fading light of a late afternoon entered through the window to his left.

Slowly he sat down on the bed and, as soon as he made that simple movement, he could feel a slight pain in the right zone of his chest and a gush of hot liquid running down on his legs, accompanied by a slight pain in his lower belly that made him exhale a deep breath. He looked around and realized with great relief he was not a prisoner of that monster of Agravaine anymore.

Apparently, his Heat had begun while he was asleep.

His heart expanded in his chest because of the immense joy and a sense of security enveloping him like a warm blanket.

They had found him just in time.

Merlin looked around quickly, trying to find his Alpha. He could feel his smell, but he could not see him.

"Arthur ... Arthur!" He began to call with a barely concealed note of desperation in his voice. He began to feel strongly the need of him, led by the Heat.

“I fear that for now you will have to settle for me, boy..." Gaius said, exiting with Gwaine from the kitchen with a cup of tea in hand.

Another sharp pain in his lower belly surprised him, combined with another hot gush, while his body acquired an always-increasing sensitivity.

He needed his Alpha.

The old man sat down on the bed next to him, hugging him tenderly.

"Uncle, I feel his smell ... how is it possible?”

“I sedated you and let him give you a light bite, otherwise he would have not allowed me to take you away. But I had to take care of you. You have a small tear in your private parts, a cracked rib and a series of abrasions, which will go away only with time. Now, drink this. It will help you calm down and handle your Heat better." The old man said, handing him the steaming cup. Gwaine remained behind in silence, looking at him with a hopeful smile, immediately returned by the brunet.

Instinctively Merlin put his hand on the bite Arthur had left at the base of his neck, feeling the slight swelling and the scent imprinted therein, which heartened him immediately.

“I want Arthur with me, uncle. I won’t spend this Heat alone, especially not after what happened. This thing has scared both him and me. And he needs me as I need him. You must call him and tell him to come here right away" Merlin's voice was strong and determined, with one hand clutching his belly.

Gaius closed his eyes and sighed.

“Merlin, you are not in the condition to spend a Heat with Arthur, nor with any other Alpha. Your state of health does not permit it. Look at you: you're injured, weak, and Arthur is a Prime. He has fallen in Alpha Phase when we saved you. He had not let anyone approach you and he was violent. We don’t know how he might react to your Heat or what he might do to you ... if he was to lose his lucidity, as it’s more than likely to happen, he could hurt you a lot. Please, Merlin, there's no rush. You can wait...”

“I DON’T WANT AND CAN’T WAIT ANYMORE. Uncle, I NEED Arthur. I NEED to establish the Bond with him now. I know that from a medical point of view, it is a risk, but if Arthur begins to THINK he may hurt me, lose control and all these sorts of things, he will distant himself again… I know it. I cannot afford to lose him again. I fought too much and too long to be able to get him back and I’m willing to make any sacrifice to Bond with him. Please, uncle...PLEASE.”

Gaius smiled weakly, looking down. Then, he hugged his nephew again.

"Well, I tried! I knew what you'd have said. The fridge is full of things to eat, remember not to make excessive efforts (although asking this during the Heat sounds almost like a bad joke) and drink a lot and....”

“Uncle” Merlin interrupted him with a smile, "I'm a doctor ... I know what it means to be in Heat...”

Gaius looked at Gwaine, who shrugged. Then, he pulled out a cell phone from his pocket and handed it to the brunet, but not before he had strongly embraced him too.

"Keep this. Your old phone is gone. Arthur’s number is saved inside, together with all ours. All you need to do is hit enter. We’re getting out of here. Should you need anything, just call, ok?”

“Thanks, Gwaine! Really!”

“Merlin, I cannot stress how much I care about you. If it were up to me, I would spit in half the Pendragon family’s face, but Arthur ... he is a good guy deep down. He was very worried, when you were kidnapped. He really cares about you and I will give him the benefit of the doubt this time..."

Merlin smiled heartily, tightening his hand and pulling him for another hug.

***

M: Hey you! I'm still alive. Where the hell are you?

A: They ordered me to stay away from you to allow you to heal. If it had not been an order from your doctor, nothing would have kept me away from you. How are you?

M: Better. Awake and in need of my Alpha.

A: Merlin, I know you are in Heat. I have thought about it and maybe, it's better to wait for the next one to be together. After what has happened, I am ashamed for what part of my family has done to yours. Maybe it's better to talk about it first...

M: What are you talking about? Apart from the fact Agravaine is not you and I hope you've killed him, I need you now. I don’t want anyone else by my side.

A: Merlin, your uncle is right. What was done to you ... your body needs to recover, before committing to something like a Heat with an Alpha.

M: you mean a Heat with YOU.

A: Merlin God...it's really hard for me to maintain control right now. The thought of you in Heat breaks my breath in the lungs. I cannot and I don’t want to hurt you.

M: My uncle gave you a medicine. Take it and come to me now.

A: Merlin, don't tempt me.

M: What part of the words 'I NEED YOU' is not clear? I want you here and now. I want you to take me and to cover me with your body. To claim me. I need to feel you inside of me now. Come to me, Arthur. Gaius and Gwy have already left.

A: Why did they leave you alone?

M: What do you think? Because I'm waiting for you and I think that for the next three days we will need some privacy. Now come to me!

Arthur looked at the ceiling of his room and pressed a hand over his eyes. Just the idea of Merlin in Heat and far away from him made him feel physically sick. Without counting the throbbing erection in his pants, while his mind went back to when he had bitten Merlin on the neck.

Jesus!

Rising from his bed, he began to search for his car keys and the medicine that Gaius had prescribed him.

A: I’m coming.

Chapter Text

“I didn't fall in love with you.

I walked into love with you, with my eyes wide open, choosing to take every step along the way.

I do believe in fate and destiny, but I also believe we are only fated to do the things that we'd choose anyway.

And I'd choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I'd find you and I'd choose you”

― Kiersten White, The Chaos of Stars

 

G: Gana, where is your brother? Gaius and I are coming back to town. We left Merlin at the countryside house.

M: Ok, Gwy ... Message received. Artie has already left. He is going there. He was all excited… you should have seen him. He took something like four pills with a bit of water and left.

G: Great and excellent.

M: Gwaine, ask Gaius what kind of pills he had prescribed him...

G: Gaius says 'well packaged breath mints'...

M: XD Excellent ... Let’s hope this time those two don’t screw up!

G: Let’s hope so, my General. Anyway, mission accomplished!

***

Arthur got out of the car, trying to breath in the fresh air of the dusk.

For the past fifteen minutes, he had been hyperventilating in the car, praying every existing God the medicine Gaius had prescribed him would work.

The first evening shadows appeared slowly and the first stars accompanied them in a pink sky. The small stone cottage was a perfect sight, surrounded by lavender flowers that were spreading their mild fragrance all around.

His heart was beating wildly in his chest, as he opened the white gate of the courtyard in front of the house. The white gravel driveway was surrounded by an expanse of purple.

It was time.

He knew that once he walked through that door, he would not be able to go back, because as soon as he would feel the scent of his Omega in Heat, nothing and no one would be able to stop him from taking what he wanted.

But he had to try to restrain himself; he had to try to maintain control, because he would rather die than hurting Merlin again.

God, how can I do this to him after what Agravaine has done?

He clenched his fists until his knuckles whiten, looking intently at the faint, warm light coming from the windows of the small house.

Then, a voice began to quiver in his mind:

“Come to me”

“Arthur”

As soon as he crossed the front door, he did not notice the soft warm light of the fireplace that designed the wood furniture laying on the floor. He did not notice the lavender bunches, placed everywhere in the old stone kitchen. He didn’t notice the crystals of the chandelier hanging from the rafters, which sent back fiery sparks and soft reflections all around.

He didn’t notice anything.

The intense and sugary smell that permeated the air hit him with such a force to completely obscure any sense, forcing him to hyperventilate. He clearly felt his heartbeat fastened in his chest, pumping blood to his brain, sending electric shocks in constant waves straight to his groin with such intensity that he began to tremble slightly.

God, give me strength...

Arthur clenched his fists, desperately trying to maintain the control of his mind and his body. However, with each passing seconds, he felt the hairs on his neck standing up; his skin becoming sensitive; his fingertips tingling, slightly fogging his sight. Every muscle tensed, ready to spring, while the tightness of his jeans became absolutely painful.

He closed his eyes, as one by one his senses went out, giving way to something dark and feral, screaming to be let out.

Omega. Merlin. Pure. Without Bond. Fertile. Sweet. Take him. He is yours YOURS YOURS YOURS. Claim him, NOW!

He ran through the living room to get into the master bedroom, whose door was ajar.

In the big bed near the fireplace, white sheets wrapped around a slim body that moved moaning softly, revealing a clenched white hand and a mane of mussed raven hair.

And as always, their pheromones met, permeating the space around them, recognizing each other, filling their essence. Lavender and sugary honey Omega and forest, land and shadow Alpha.

Merlin felt him immediately.

As soon as Arthur entered, his smell reached Merlin and his blue eyes, large and deep as the ocean, fell on him. He admired his strong and solid figure.

His swollen lips. His golden hair. His sky blue eye, almost blacks with desire. The tendons in his neck, tensed, as he swallowed hard. His soaring Adam's apple. His tense muscles were ready to act under the black jersey. His light jeans painfully withheld his huge erection. His entire body was shouting pure Alpha virility.

Merlin rose slightly, using his arms. He immediately felt weak and in need to feel the heat of his mate on his body.

The Omega’s soft lips parted, pronouncing his name. His voice drenched in desire.

“Arthur...”

A moment later, the Alpha was on him.

The blond jumped on the bed, lifting Merlin’s weight with fast and too urgent gestures. He literally ripped the sheets off his sweaty body, which stood naked and exposed. Grabbing his raven hair, he pulled his head back to expose his white and rangy neck, pouncing on it. He licked it, bite it, sucked it hard. He made Merlin moan in pain and pleasure under his lips… vibrate under his hands.

After a moment, Arthur let out a low moan. He took Merlin back into his arms, lifting him as if he was weightless. He forced him to turn on his front, knocking him prone on the soft mattress beneath them. Arthur’s right hand was still firmly in his hair.

“You are mine, Omega...” He roared, as his deep, mellow baritone and dominant voice rested directly under the skin of the brunet, who groaned loudly, while a new wet bubble opened up between his legs.

The Alpha crushed him down, covering him with his hot body.

Merlin forced himself to breathe, still feeling his strong mate’s grip in his hair holding his head planted on the pillow, while the Alpha licked and bite his back. His warm and wheezing breath was on his shoulder blades, then down his spine and up to his lower back.

Arthur put a knee between his legs and spread them strongly. He placed his throbbing erection, still firmly trapped in his pants, between Merlin’s buttocks, so that he could feel it clearly. He started to rub it and to push on that sensible skin.

The Omega moaned his mate’s name again, feeling the scent of his body behind him, intense and musky, corrupted by a blind desire to dominate.

"You're mine, Merlin. Mine! Only mine. Submit to me!" His voice was throaty, husky, turning on every cell of his body, ready to respond and to be shaped under his touch.

"Take what's yours, Alpha!" Merlin whispered, strangled.

Arthur grunted in approval, sensing the amber note in his smell becoming stronger and warmer, sign of a conscious submission and acceptance. Definitely delighted, Arthur removed his hand from Merlin’s hair, standing up on his knees behind him. He quickly took off his shirt, almost tearing it apart, and started to move frantically to take off his jeans as fast as possible, while the brunet whimpered in need, raising his hips in the air and presenting himself.

His legs were apart. He was lubricated and ready to receive his Alpha, ready to be taken and claimed for the first time in his life by the One who already flowed in his veins, thicker than blood. As it had been since that first evening, when their paths met.

Afraid of the pain. Expectation for the pleasure. Merlin’s breath was taken away from his lungs, waiting with his eyes tightly closed for what in a few moments would unite them for life.

The tears were poorly retained by the raven eyelashes, while his heart, wounded a thousand of times, was beating strong, too strong in his chest.

It was not just a meeting of bodies, but also a fusion of souls, and Merlin sent a silent prayer to the sky, in the hope that everything would be fine.

“YOU ARE MINE. MINE! YOU BELONG TO ME, OMEGA." Merlin heard him roar behind him in a hoarse voice, putting something hard, hot and throbbing between his buttocks "NOW AND FOREVER. YOU WILL BE MINE UNTIL YOUR LAST BREATH IN THIS WORLD!"

It just took a moment.

With a violent push with the loins, Arthur pushed inside of him completely, without any warning, without giving him time to prepare, taking Merlin’s breath away. He finally sank in his heat, forcing him to open up for him for the first time.

Merlin's eyes widened, while a indistinguishable mix of pain and pleasure made its way into every fiber of his body, causing him to contract every muscle, screaming against that wonderful invasion that was tearing every shred of his rationality, giving way to the purest instinct .

The sex of the Alpha was huge, impossibly hard and hotter than ever. Having Arthur so deeply in him was a new sensation, intense, painful and wonderful, so different from all the shared dreams that they had previously had.

Because he was there now.

Above him.

Inside of him.

Dominating him.

Arthur groaned too and paused, too overwhelmed by the wonderful feeling of warmth that his Omega’s body was giving him, contracting and throbbing around him, alive. He seemed born to satisfy him, existing for him and for that very moment.

After a moment to settle, the brunet tried to ignore the pain and moved forward, tentatively, feeling Arthur’s weight above him. The warmth of his breath on his back. His strong fingers stuck in his white and thin hips. His musky odor imprinted on him, entering his lungs, his soul.

Without a word and obeying his instinct, the Alpha retreated almost completely and then, he pushed forward again with violence, forcing Merlin’s resistance, who gritted his teeth and the sheets in his palms, welcoming him in himself with a groan that turned the Alpha on even more. He sent him a shiver down his spine and straight in his lower belly, making him roar with pleasure.

Arthur retreated again and then sank in again.

And again.

And again.

Christ!

Merlin groaned loudly, loving the feeling of fullness, of belonging and of absolute domination that the Alpha was exercising on his body, on his mind, perceiving the Bond growing at the pace of his mate’s thrusts.

He perceived his own body accepting him and vibrating under his touch, lighting up with every thrust, finding perfection in a totally wanted and conscious act, with a full consciousness and will to love and please his Alpha.

Arthur was lost in him, completely sunk in his Domination Phase.

More like an animal than a man, he kept thrusting furiously in the white and thin body beneath him, without respite, without breathing. His cock was harder than ever, as he sank relentlessly in that soft flesh, which was not resisting any longer; in that eternal heat, that was tearing all his rational thoughts apart. A voice in his head kept telling him:

TAKE HIM. CLAIM HIM. HE IS YOURS, YOURS, ONLY YOURS. MORE. LIKE THAT. DEEPER. AGAIN.

The blond growled low, burying himself more into his Omega, holding his head crushed on the mattress with one hand, the fingers of the other one firmly planted on his hips.

He continued to dominate him, pushing in him with a blind fury, intoxicated by Merlin’s sweet smell, entranced by the sound of flesh against flesh. He felt the Omega’s heart beating in unison with his own through the smooth walls of the soft and warm cave that was welcoming him.

Feeling the pleasure beginning to grow fiercely, Arthur squeezed his hand through the Omega’s raven hair, pulling his head aside, forcing him to expose his white neck.

“You're mine, little Omega.” Arthur said, putting his words directly on Merlin’s skin, continuing to sink in him with brutal pace. His muscles were tense and sweaty.

"Mine and no one else’s. You're my white canvas. I will paint myself on you with my body, my senses and my essence, creating a world where you can dream of me, where you can live in me and breath me; where I can take care of you and protect you, drawing your life in mine with our own colors, day after day. You will learn to obey me and I will learn to please you. I will give you my Knot and I will fill your belly with my seed so much and so many times that you will be pregnant with my children right away. God you are so fertile and perfect, just for me! I am going to kill anyone who dares to look at you. I am going to kill anyone who dares to touch you. You're mine. Mine and mine alone. You belong to me. Your body and your belly are my domain. You exist for me, and I love you. I will protect you as long as I live on this earth. I will claim you for me, Merlin. You are mine!”

The brunet groaned loudly at those words of domination. His thin and slender sex was so tense and pressed against the sheets to hurt him, painfully excited by the possessiveness of his Alpha above and within him.

Soon, Arthur’s pace became uncoordinated, his thrusts even more violent and deeper. His smell turned into pure shadow in the exact moment the Alpha’s Knot began to swell, putting pressure on the soft walls of the narrow orifice that the blond was repeatedly violating.

Obeying his instinct, with a last push, the Alpha went as deeper as possible, while his Knot grew at the base of his penis, sealing the Omega’s soft channel, tying them together permanently.

As soon as that natural swelling rubbed on his prostate, Merlin’s groans became real cries of pleasure, which invaded him inexpertly with rhythmic waves, so wonderfully intense to force him to close his eyes and arch toward his mate’s chest. His wet mouth was wide open, as he came against the white sheets beneath him, in an infinite orgasm that shocked him in the depths of his soul, making it vibrate, making him tremble.

The Alpha roared in satisfaction, feeling Merlin contracting rhythmically around his Knot, forcing him to come and leading him to climax. In that moment, he felt a wave of wet pleasure thickening in his lower abdomen. The blond violently jerked Merlin’s head to the right, forcing him to expose his thin neck. He eagerly licked the skin where there was the bite he had left a few hours before.

Growling a strangled 'MINE', Arthur sank his teeth into the soft flesh, reaching the Bond gland, biting it until he broke it. A violent shiver of pleasure shook Merlin’s body, as he came again and again, moaning the name of his Alpha, who was gently licking the mark that established his domination on his Omega.

The taste of blood on his tongue soon led Arthur to climax in turn, spilling completely inside of the brunet with a strangled cry, filling his belly with his hot seed, pouring in slowly and steady.

Gasps, groans and everything around were Alpha and Omega, Merlin and Arthur and a Bond that now tied them and that grew with each beat of their hearts, overwhelming them, entering inside of them like a hot wind of life.

"You are mine, Merlin..." The blond whispered, encircling his stomach.

He lifted him up. Then, he tacked them too much to the right, making Merlin lie down more comfortably in his embrace, looking for a position that was convenient to the both of them, while the Knot tied them intimately.

Once seated, Arthur pulled the covers up and wrapped their bodies close together; starting to place small kisses on Merlin’s back and left shoulder. Then, he sank his nose in his raven hair.

“Are you OK? Did I hurt you? I ..." Arthur whispered on his skin.

"No, Arthur. You didn’t hurt me. Don’t worry. Everything has been perfect." Merlin said and Arthur caught the smile in his gentle tone, while his smell changed and his pheromones testified his satisfaction and his contentment.

“Merlin...I lo…”

“I know. I can feel it. Me too.”

More relaxed, the Alpha squeezed the Omega toward him, heartening him, protecting him. Then, he rested his head on the pillow, falling softly asleep.

Merlin needed a bit more time to do the same.

He was enjoying the warm body of his Alpha behind him, feeling the strong beat of his heart against his back, which required him to fall asleep, as if it was a slow lullaby.

Only a few months ago, he was just an Omega that hated Alphas, resigned to a lonely life, made of resentment and hatred. And now, he was mated to the man of his life. A powerful, protective and virile, handsome and sweet Alpha. Incredibly, the only desire in his heart was to be faithful to him and to see him happy.

God, how could everything have changed in such a short time?

Moreover, Arthur’s touch was so different from that of the Alpha who had kidnapped him. So damn hot and perfect. Merlin’s body seemed clay in his hands: it lit with color and pulsed with light, conforming to him.

And the Bond was something unique. It was as if he could hear Arthur straight in his head, feeling his emotions, transmitted through the Bond: care, protection, infinite love ... Arthur was sending this, even unconsciously, and Merlin was feeling it, promising love, respect and obedience in return.

He felt the Alpha’s feelings as if they were his own and he could not hold back a tear of emotion.

It was strange and wonderful, like felling his smell clearly changing into darker colors and earth and rain, becoming less sweet and sugary. With each passing hour, it would change completely, becoming a perfect combination of their two essences. A further testimony that he had been claimed.

Now that they were together, everything took second place: their quarrels, their bitter words, the struggle to be reunited, the kidnapping and its aftermath.

Everything was behind them now.

Only they remained.

Together….

In each other's arms.

One inside the other, for as long as nature needed to run its own course.

He laid there, safe in that warm embrace, losing track of time and feeling his Alpha’s breath on him. Sometimes Arthur moved inside of him, giving small lascivious pushes and moaning softly in his sleep every time a new hot flood filled his belly. The Knot slightly decreased the pressure inside of him.

Happier than he had been since a very long time, Merlin too allowed the sandman to drop the whole bag on him.

***

Cold sweat, sensitive skin, aching limbs, a tingling at the base of his neck and a slight pulsing between his buttocks.

When Merlin opened his eyes, the fireplace was off and in the dim light of the room, there was only the subtle glow of dawn, permeating his surroundings.

He moved tentatively and immediately, a wet bubble hatched between his thighs.

Damn Heat!

Remaining silent, Merlin could still feel Arthur’s deep and rhythmic breath behind him, slow and rhythmic.

He turned slowly towards him not to wake him up, although every fiber of his body longed to have the heat of his mate on him.

His Alpha was a dream. Limply lying among the sheets, his half-covered naked body was completely relaxed and Merlin could easily design the perfect line of his tense abdomen, his chest muscles, his broad shoulders, the tendons in his neck and the sharp line of his jaw. His full lips were still wet and a mess of blond hair fell over his closed eyes.

He was beautiful. A sleeping God. Simply perfect.

Overnight, the Knot had deflated completely and they had separated.

The brunet was grateful that everything had gone all right. He carried a slender finger at the base of his neck, stroking the spot where Arthur had bitten him and that now was throbbing like his tight ring of flesh, while another wet bubble wetted his legs.

He needed his Alpha.

Yet, he dared not wake him up. While Merlin had been sedated by Gaius and had had time to recover, Arthur had suffered the events of the previous days without respite. Therefore, Merlin didn’t have the heart to interrupt his first night of sleep after a long time.

Tentatively, he curled on himself under the covers, grabbing his already fully erect and in need of attention sex in his right hand, while his left hand reached his opening, touching it. He pressed it slowly with his fingers. He found out that they went in easily since he was completely wet with desire and still soft after making love with his Alpha.

The brunet closed his eyes, drowning deeper in the blanket, not to be heard by Arthur. He bite off his tongue in a vain attempt not to make a sound, as he tried to remedy by himself to his own needs.

Suddenly, the blanket hiding him was lifted and Arthur was in front of the brunet. His eyes were still sleepy, as he tried to see Merlin’s figure in the shadows. He curled his lips, as he usually did when he was thinking about something important.

With a fast gesture, the Alpha pulled the covers away completely, pulling them on one side and exposing the naked and rangy body of his Omega, embracing him closer and flattening him against him.

“Good morning” Arthur whispered, catching Merlin’s lips in a wet, deep, sweet kiss, sucking his tongue and slightly biting his lip. "Well, well, look who was having fun under the covers without me..."

Obviously, the Omega’s body replied immediately to the attention of his Alpha, becoming wet even more and causing a delightful blush to spread on Merlin’s cheeks up to his ears.

"You see, I ..." Merlin began, embarrassed.

"Yes?" the blond said, taking his place on the Omega’s body, crushing him under his weight and moving languidly over him, exciting him even more.

Merlin took a deep breath, feeling Arthur’s sex hardened against his stomach. The Alpha’s smell was darker and penetrating above him.

"Forgive me; I didn’t want to wakehahhhhhh ...!" The brunet continued, feeling Arthur moving on him, naked and aroused. Greedily, the blond licked and bite his very sensitive nipples, causing him shocks of pleasure, so intense to be almost painful, and a further natural lubrication.

The blond planted his nose in Merlin’s skin, roaring in satisfaction at feeling his smell on his mate’s skin and the change of tone in Merlin’s pheromones, shouting Omega, in Heat, Mated.

"You are mine, little Omega. How dared you even think to give yourself pleasure when your Alpha is here to take care of your needs?" The blond hissed, going up to kiss and suck his mate’s long and slender neck. "Now you're mine, remember? Only mine. And the only thing you have to worry about now is conceiving, while I’ll take care of you in the most satisfying and sweetest possible way...”

At these words, Merlin winced, because they went straight to his heart.

Hearing Arthur talking about children was... God ... shocking and it filled with reality what had seemed like a dream. Arthur had taken his virginity as an Alpha and he was sharing Merlin’s Heat with him, not only because he loved him, but also to conceive children with him.

Merlin genuinely smiled at that thought and Arthur immediately captured his soft and rosy lips, violating the Omega’s mouth with his hot and pretentious tongue, seeking and chasing its partner and engaging with it a sweet fight, imbued with desire.

God, how much he had missed those lips.

When another bubble of pleasure exploded between Merlin’s legs, he began to cry, calling Arthur. He showed his need by rubbing and moving lasciviously beneath the Alpha. He spread his legs and gave him free access to anything.

Before he knew it, Arthur was slipping gently into him, filling him again with his hard and throbbing flesh. Merlin had put his legs around his hips, slowly moving in unison with him, going towards him slowly at first, then always faster, as the coils of his Heat demanded it. He searched desperately Arthur’s Knot and the pleasure that would come with it.

And Arthur did not disappoint him.

After a few well-aimed thrusts, his Knot began to swell. However, unlike the previous one, the Alpha held back from the Omega’s opening this time, causing the Knot to form out of his body, as he continued to sink rhythmically into his mate, but never penetrating him deeply.

And Merlin was... oh a sight for sore eyes. His black hair was ruffled over his forehead; his blue eyes were wet with poorly retained tears; his slender and warm body was a blank canvas beneath his, ready to be painted with his Alpha’s colors; his expression was intense, as Arthur led him to the limit; his eyelids lowered at each thrust, accompanied by delicious groans.

Merlin wanted more.

The night before, Arthur had taught him what it meant for an Omega to have his own Alpha’s Knot inside and now, every fiber of his being craved it, feeling incomplete.

Therefore, the brunet began to purr and whine needy, increasingly meeting him, feeling Arthur’s Knot at the entrance of his opening. Yet, every time he tentatively pushed forward, the Alpha pulled back.

Frustrated, Merlin pouted, planting his eyes in those of his Alpha, who was still sinking in him strongly. He had tense and slightly sweaty muscles and an arrogant smile on his lips. He was reading his Omega’s dissatisfaction through not only his pheromones, but also the sensations that the brunet was sending him through the Bond.

“What do you want, Merlin?!” The Alpha asked mocking; sinking a bit more in him and making him feel the delicious bulge at the base of his sex.

"You know what!" The brunet said in a choked voice, between a groan and the other.

"No. I want you to ask me." Arthur's voice had become low and even more baritone. A voice of pure domination that made Merlin expose his neck automatically… a sign of submission.

"Your Knot" He replied shyly, while his ears became red, “I want your Knot...”

“And where do you want it? Tell me, Merlin...” The beast in Arthur roared lowly, starting to lick his neck greedily, tearing delicious moans from his victim.

“...inside of me...” The Omega whispered softly, becoming completely flushed. He looked away, ashamed of what he had asked.

"This is your punishment, Merlin. If I am close to you, you will never give yourself pleasure alone again. I don’t accept this kind of provocation. I'm here to satisfy you and you are mine. I'll be the one to give you the pleasure you need, every time you want it. Is it clear?" The Alpha asked with a low and dominant tone, dark as the night. He stopped moving, so that the Omega could acknowledge his every word.

Merlin closed his eyes, holding back a tear of joy. He nodded without words, with a sweet smile painted on his pink and soft lips.

The Alpha, pleased, licked the bite of the Bond, clearly visible on his mate’s white neck. He sank his teeth again, causing Merlin a jolt of pleasure that pervaded his entire body. It left him surrendered, while the Alpha pushed in him completely, forcing his Knot at his opening and pushing it inside with a firm movement.

Merlin groaned, clutching the sheets in a perfect mix of pain, when the big bulge entered him, and pleasure, as soon as the Knot found its perfect location within his body. Once inside, it did not cause him any discomfort ... in fact ... it was as if his body had been created to comply with Arthur.

Rejoicing, Merlin tried to move, but the Alpha continued to bite his neck, holding him still and forcing him into a purely passive role, where the domination act was Arthur’s.

And Merlin was okay with it.

Abandoned beneath his mate’s body, Merlin surrendered. He was still under Arthur’s small thrusts. His Knot was stimulating his special point languidly, torching every cell; making him tremble with life. Arthur was taking him beyond his limits, ripping the breath from his lungs, multiplying his moans, while he came again and again on both their bellies.

His Alpha followed closely, pouring in him, warm and throbbing. The blond flooded his belly with his seed. Then, he collapsed on the brunet, moaning.

The Knot tied them again.

Merlin hugged his Alpha, stroking his sweaty body, inhaling his scent. He drew his back muscles with his thin fingertips and Arthur gloated, pleased with those attentions. He was still coming inside of him. However, he was being careful not to impose too much on his Omega, in order not to hurt him.

The brunet noticed that little attention and smiled even more, thanking every existing god and praying that such happiness could last forever...

 

Chapter Text

Merlin regained consciousness in the early afternoon after a busy morning, during which his Alpha had taken good care of him and his Heat.

After an awkward start in which Arthur had caught him secretly masturbating under the covers, the blond had cuddled and satisfied him over and over again throughout the morning.

And it had been wonderful.

They had laughed and joked, when they were intimately tied, as they hadn’t done in a long time, talking about everything, or almost everything...

Then, every time the Heat had raised again, the young Pendragon had showed all his manhood, reading his mind, covering him with his strong and warm body, loving him tenderly and possessing him strongly. He read his desires through the Bond that now united them firmly.

It was like talking without words; like feeling each other deeply, beyond anything else; as 'seeing' each other through different eyes and without lie; as reading one’s soul… a wonderful and visceral sense of belonging to almost hurt the heart.

When he had opened his eyes that afternoon, a hot sun was flooding the room with light and the scent of lavender was permeating the environment with its ancient aroma.

Merlin started to move but then stopped, realizing the strange position he was in: he was lying on his side; one of Arthur’s arms beneath him, tightening his waist; the other arm was keeping his thigh up, forcing his left leg above the left leg of the Alpha; his big Knot was swollen and throbbing inside of him.

Christ…

As soon as he moved, Arthur held him in place, sighing with force, but without a word. He was sleeping. His breathing was soft, lilting and heavy.

How was it possible?

The brunet remembered his medical knowledge. During the Heat, the Alpha and the Omega were dominated by instincts rather than by rationality. Therefore, it was likely that in his sleep the Alpha had unconsciously perceived another heat wave from his mate and, before Merlin himself could wake up, had unconsciously took care of mounting and satisfying him, as not to interrupt his sleep and not to make him uncomfortable.

Merlin smiled more, standing still, enjoying the feeling of the warmth of his mate’s body on his back; enjoying the Knot that Arthur was giving him, and feeling his warm belly full of his Alpha’s seed, which helped him enormously to relax.

As a doctor graduated in medicine of species, he knew perfectly well the interaction and chemistry unleashed during the Alpha / Omega coupling. He knew the symptoms of the Heat; the natural lubrication; the length and shape of the Alpha’s penis, Knot and its exact allocation in the body of the Omega; the pressure on the prostate; the orgasm; the allocation and shape of the gland of the Bond; the types of the bite; the changes of smell; the amount of seed ejected from an active subject, etc. etc..

This was how he had always seen sex between Alphas and Omegas ... and even if he knew every aspect, he had never felt the urge or desire to experience it with anyone.

Then, Arthur Pendragon came.

And his world had stopped spinning.

That guy with a warrior spirit and a child's heart had taught him what the worlds passion, desire, beauty meant. He had taught him the grace to be what he had always considered a defect: being an Omega.

Merlin had always hated the idea of belonging to an Alpha. Even more, the very idea that an Omega had to submit to the orders of another person, as a trained dog that lives longing for the orders and for the love of his master.

He had never be so wrong.

Now that Arthur had claimed him, he understood it was not just chemistry ... above all it was desire; not merely to please his Alpha, but to make him happy, because he knew his Alpha would do the same for him; he would give his life for him if he could.

Now, thanks to the Bond that made him feel his mate, he understood, or rather felt, that Arthur’s only desire was to protect him, to please him, to make him happy, to prove his strength to him. To let him know that he could count on him for anything, that he would love, cared for and protected him until his last breath.

And the Omega’s only answer to all this was love and obedience; not because it was imposed or because it was the price to pay to have all this from an Alpha, but because the heart was suggesting it, because he wanted it with every fiber of himself.

Belonging to that guy with blond hair and stormy eyes that had made him his own.

Belonging to the Alpha that had made him his own.

And suddenly, everything was different.

Where he thought there was an obligation, now he saw will; where he thought there was submission, now he saw love.

And Arthur was...God everything an Omega could hope to have.

His Alpha had the power to melt him like snow in the sun: golden hair, blue eyes, sweet swollen lips, created especially to write poems on his skin, muscles made of steel that imprinted strength to every movement of his body, drenched in a warm elegance and natural grace.

Whenever those hands made their way over his body, Merlin shaped himself under that touch, and each time the Alpha came into him and made him his, Merlin died and raised again to a new life.

The Omega closed his eyes, moaning slightly like the Alpha behind him when, with a slight throbbing of the Knot, a new hot wave filled his belly, relaxing him further. Arthur's hand was firmly on his waist, holding him tight.

Almost without thinking, he covered the left hand of his mate on his belly with his right one: one day he would carry Arthur’s children.

That simple thought made him smile even more. As he closed his eyes, he could see a pink bundle with blue eyes and blond hair, taking his first steps in a green grass field, with spring colors around him and with Arthur behind him, watching his every step, holding his hand, giving him balance.

God...Arthur would be a great father someday. Sweet, caring, present...

“What are you thinking about, my sweet Omega?” The blond asked. His voice was thick with sleep behind Merlin, hugging him tighter.

Merlin startled slightly, but he immediately began to droop in his embrace, enjoying his mate’s warmth.

“Good afternoon ... " The brunet said softly.

“Surely it is if I find myself like this..." the blond said in response, moving slightly into him, sending him a shiver along the spine, "So? What were you thinking about?"

"Nothing in particular ..." Merlin said softly, placing his hand on his belly on the Alpha’s.

In response, Arthur pushed a bit, burying himself more in the Omega, forcing him to moan softly. Pleasure was growing deeply inside of him, while his sex began to wake up strongly under the renewed attention of his Alpha.

"Do not lie to me ... I can feel it in your pheromones ... they have a sweet note that they did not have before; so powerful to wake me up!”

“I’m just happy...”

“I can feel it ... but I want you to tell me what you were thinking about just now ... I want you always happy as you are now ..." He languidly moved inside of him, ripping more choked moans as he shifted position, smashing Merlin on the mattress with his body and starting to move slowly.

"I was thinking that you'll be a great father one day ..." Merlin said, embarrassed, "... but not now.”

The omega sensed the darker note in his mate’s pheromones changing and he immediately regretted hurting his Alpha, who in the meantime had stopped.

“Don’t you want to have children?" Arthur asked with a barely concealed note of sadness in his voice.

“Of course I want them! Even if I’m older for an Omega, I'd like to carry your children in my womb, Arthur. However, this is my first Heat after years of suppressors and ... no matter how much you or I may want it, it doesn’t change the fact that unfortunately this Heat will not yield results. My body still has to get used to his new conditions and to resume his normal life cycles. The first Heat after years of chemistry is always sterile ... and frankly, I think we need a bit of time to know each other better and to be together, before starting a family"

"I don’t want to force you, Merlin. I knew you would not have conceived in this particular Heat. Gaius explained it to me while you were ..." Arthur swallowed hard and squeezed him even more, “... in short, I had been warned. And I don’t want to impose my Alpha will on you, because I want our relationship to remain absolutely equal. But I won’t deny that in this particular moment (maybe it's my purely Alpha part talking) there would be nothing that would give me more joy to know you are pregnant with my children.”

At these words, Merlin’s heart began to beat faster, as the Heat was beginning to want its price. The blond felt him, conscious of the effect of his words on his mate.

"I know it's wrong and I don’t want to sound impatient, but during your next Heat ... well, could you consider the idea of ..."

Merlin buried his purple face in the pillow, while the Alpha began to sway slowly but rhythmically above him. His still swollen Knot was deliciously stimulating his prostate, bringing him quickly to ecstasy, which arrived as soon as the blond bit again the gland of the Bond.

He forced him to raise his head and to groan loudly, as the world disappeared beneath him and the sheets swallowed the fruit of his pleasure once again, while the Alpha also poured into him again.

Oh God Arthur...” Merlin gasped, catching his breath.

“Oh Merlin, you are...wonderful. I want to spend my life with you, inside of you...” The blond said, collapsing above Merlin and covering his shoulders and neck with small kisses, burying his nose in his black hair.

"Well, I was saying," the brunet said, catching his breath, "considering the fact that the next Heat will be in about three months ... I can consider the idea ..." Merlin said with a smile "... but only if you won’t make me angry or push for it!"

"Well, as a male Alpha, you should give me absolute obedience, so...”

“Oh listen to you ... don’t make me laugh! Haven’t you just say you want an equal relationship between us? You can’t order me to do this and that just because now you've claimed me… "

Arthur drew a smile on the skin of his back, stroking his belly slowly in an incredibly sweet and protective gesture.

"You are the master of my heart Merlin. Ask and ye shall receive. I will respect your choice, whatever it is. I will protect you and I will love you, as you deserve, because you are mine now. And you'll be mine forever. In a thousand of years and in a thousand of lives, I'll find you and I will love you forever.”

Merlin smiled at the pillow and a wandering tear left his eyes, hidden from the world and from Arthur’s blue eyes...

They were together in that moment in that little corner of ancient world that lived and throbbed only for them ...

And that was enough...

***

Days passed and these days saw them together.

The Bond grew solid and strong, like their feelings and their understanding.

Merlin found himself thinking about Arthur more and more often, looking obsessively for his presence.

He studied for the first time the effects of the Heat on himself: in those days, the Alpha had become the center of his universe and every time he thought about him leaving, a subtle pain pervaded Merlin.

He needed his warmth.

He needed his body.

And the Alpha was more than willing to give it to him.

They were always together. The blond did not wander off from him if not to prepare something simple and light to eat, walking around the small cottage naked, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, while Merlin changed the blankets and the sheets. Then, he joined him in the bedroom with omelets or with whatever he had cooked. His smile was breathtaking.

Merlin found himself watching him more and more often, especially when he slept, so much that now he could draw every curve and muscle of his body: when Arthur dreamed, he gently clumped his red and swollen lips in a sweet expression; his blond hair fell everywhere like a ruffled aureole. His jaw twitched rhythmically, as well as the tendons in his neck and his Adam's apple, as he swallowed. His chest rose and fell rhythmically. His perfect abs were always tense and slightly visible, and below them, just below his navel, a thick hazel hair contained his sex, that even when resting was beautiful, big and long. There, the skin color was slightly darker than the rest of the body.

It was unbelievable: when it came to Arthur, Merlin lost his very perceptive eye.

How many naked Alphas had he seen in his life as a doctor? Hundreds!

And no one had ever had an effect on him.

Never….

He knew by heart the sex characteristics of Alphas and their reproductive system, so different from Betas and Omegas’ one. The sex length and size (huge for the Alpha; normal for the Betas and Omegas); its size and the testicles capacity (much more developed for the Alphas, as breeders par excellence, compared to the Betas’ and almost non-existent in the Omegas).

Everything in the Alphas’ body was designed for the reproduction of the species and for the domination.

But when he looked at Arthur naked ... God! He forgot his medical books and the various medical notions and he immediately felt like blushing: his Alpha was really well-endowed, even in comparison with a normal Alpha and he was also a disarming beauty.

Looking at himself, Merlin hide under the covers: at times, his sense of inadequacy was so great to hurt his heart.

Yet, every time he looked into Arthur’s eyes, Merlin read desire. Every time he felt the blond’s emotions in his head through the Bond his self-esteem grew enormously: His Alpha loved him the way he was. And in those days of Heat, he had found out that his appetite had returned.

A part of him knew it was due to the sense of happiness and completeness he felt now that they had established the Bond. Another part of him knew that the time of sacrifice was over. Now he longed for his mate to see him in top of his peak form.

A perfect Omega, who could make his Alpha proud to have him as a mate.

That evening, they ate together, sitting on the large dark wood table in the kitchen. It had been three days of absolute passion and that day, the Heat had soothed, leaving the both of them calmer and more in control of themselves.

They had had time to do the laundry; to make the bed; to clean all the surfaces and the many places in the house that had seen them making love wildly during those days: the shower, the bed, the floor, the sofa, the attic and last but not least the table where they were eating. And now Arthur did nothing but stroking said table languidly. Then, he winked, making Merlin blush too much.

"I've never been a big fan of the kitchen..." The blond said, smiling and putting a nice dish of mixed salad and scrambled eggs in front of Merlin. He knew his tastes in food too well. "... but since we've been here, I would do nothing but cook for you and watch you eat ..." he continued, sitting down next to him and taking a good forkful of salad, offering it to his mate.

Merlin accepted the gift with a smile, opening his mouth and eating the bite like a good boy. Arthur loved feeding him.

"You don’t know it, but it’s your nature that makes you do it. You are an Alpha and taking care of me as your Omega comes naturally to you. Bringing me food, cooking it for me and feeding me is nothing but an expression of your Species’ strongest instincts. This simple gesture pleases you, it makes me feel loved and protected and it strengthens the Bond between us." The brunet calmly explained, blushing slightly as the blond continued to give him food; his lips clumped in a slight smile as he meditated on Merlin’s words, "I also think that subconsciously you want me to fatten up… this is why you insist that I eat...”

"Um ... this is a GREAT observation indeed. Yes, I want you fatter." Arthur said with a languid note in his tone, as he approached one of the brunet considerable ears, licking and biting slightly the lobe, startling him. "I want you to fatten up, so that you won’t hurt yourself, while I take you and make you mine again and again ..." His tone became suddenly serious, as he bit his earlobe stronger and his voice lowered, becoming deep and sensual as the night. "... I want you to fatten up, so that I can put my children in you. I want you healthy, so that you can get pregnant with my seed soon. I want to see you becoming round and swollen with my children, so that I can kiss your belly every single day until you give birth, so that I can take you and satisfy you as much as you want me to"

At these words of domination, every single cell of the Omega lit up. The Heat had just finished, but it did not matter ... he was hyper-reactive when Arthur approached him in that way and his body was not listening to him. It responded by itself completely.

A moment later, Arthur lift him up, as if he was weightless. He picked him up and hugged him, taking him without a word on the couch in front of the fireplace. He laid him on the pillows like a precious thing.

"Undress" he ordered him. The tone was dark and purely dominant, and Merlin obeyed without a word, slightly embarrassed by the Alpha’s piercing gaze, who slipped on his white and slender body.

The next moment, Arthur was on him, the golden reflections of his hair, burnt by the flames of the fireplace, created a halo of light around his face, making him even more beautiful, if possible.

However, there was no time for such reflections: his body was already tremendously tense and ready, excited and waiting, recognizing the blond’s pheromones as those of his mate. He vibrated under Arthur’s expert hands, who kissed his neck, chest, belly, and slid further down...

His thin and white fingers shook through the Alpha’s hair as soon as his boiling tongue of the latter went to lick the pink tip of his sex, already fully exited, hard and in need of all the attention that his dominator could give him. Merlin was unable to hold back his small inconsistent moans.

Arthur smiled on the taut skin of the brunet, panting and tossing on the ruffled sheets. Merlin’s cheeks were on fire and his lips swollen, while he whispered the name of his torturer in an endless chant. It was when the other blew gently on his dewy glans that the Omega realized he could not take it any more: he needed to be taken and possessed right away or he would die.

There was no need for words: Arthur felt what Merlin wanted thanks to the Bond. He smiled slyly at how simple it was now to read the wishes of his mate through his pheromones.

Promptly he rose to his knees, quickly getting rid of his clothes and letting his mate’s eyes drink his perfect and powerful body, lit by the hot flames of the fire that drew a wonderful play of light and shadow on his muscles.

His breathing accelerated. His eyes were a stormy sky, so darkened by desire to seem almost black. His Adam's apple moved unabated, while the Alpha swallowed. Arthur laid his strong hands on Merlin’s knees and pressed lightly to spread his legs.

Merlin stared at him in need, with huge eyes, and the blond leaned over him, covering him with his body, pressing his excitement on his belly. He kissed me languidly and with renewed desire, passion and vigor, as if there were no tomorrow. Arthur was letting him know his soul was enclosed in that touch and that the true ruler of his life was Merlin himself.

And Merlin gave in and replied in kind, looking for the Alpha’s tongue and welcoming it in his mouth, sucking it, biting it, caressing it, dancing with it. He felt his and he wanted to be his.

When they separated, needing air, they remained like that, with their eyes closed and their forehead together, feeling each other deeply, not only physically, but also with the mind and the heart. The Bond united them was firmer than ever.

Then Arthur stood up on his forearms, making the dark miss the warmth of his skin. Kneeling again between his legs, Arthur touched his little testicles, making him shudder. Then, he slid further down; his eyes, darkened by desire, planted in his, while his fingertips slowly rubbed the opening between his buttocks, designing its contour to test its strength.

He knew the Omega’s Heat was over. Therefore, he had to be more careful, because the natural lubrication was over ... yet, finding Merlin’s body wet and responsive to his touch was a very pleasant sensation.

Merlin held his breath, feeling his own body warm and excited, despite being no longer in Heat. After all, Arthur had always had the power to excite him and his body responded to his touch, preparing for him in a natural way.

He closed his eyes, moaning when Arthur increased the pressure and pushed in, violating him with his fingers, finding him soft and ready.

During the Heat, everything had been frantic and dictated by instinct.

This time was different.

They were not merely coupling.

They were becoming one, belonging to one other.

They were loving each other for the first time.

And it was all a mix of groans, sighs, heartbeats and dreams and desires ... and it was like going back home after a long journey.

They both felt it.

Arthur continued to torture him sweetly, slowly adding one finger to another, plunging himself always a bit deeper, ripping a hoarse moan and an unconditional quiver from the brunet.

It didn’t matter they had already done it so many times in those past few days. That was the first time Arthur was making him his with all the attentions of a caring and attentive lover.

And everything looked new once again.

"Relax, my Omega ... like a good boy. I'm here with you and for you ... God my scent on your skin is perfect. You're perfect. Mine. Now and forever. Just Mine." He said, mimicking the act that soon they would unit them.

A tide of hot and cold chills poured on his skin, making him shiver as the fire crackled in the fireplace. It was the only witness of their quick breaths.

Arthur clenched his jaw, imposing himself to be calm, conscious that he could not be impulsive as usual and that he had to leave Merlin time to get use to the intrusion, knowing very well what would come shortly thereafter.

Without the Heat, it was more difficult.

Nevertheless, Merlin’s body under him was so damn hot, incredibly inviting, so responsive and soft under his hands, that was slowly tearing every ounce of his will, calling powerfully his Alpha part.

"Arthur ..." the brunet begged in a broken voice, moaning softly, arching his back, lifting his pelvis, offering his body to his mate.

Arthur slipped his fingers deeper, forcing the boy to yelp a broken gasp, feeling the already soft walls putting less and less resistance. He decided that he was definitely ready to receive him.

Because he would not last much longer.

In a moment, Arthur took his sex in hand, discovering it already tense and hard as stone, while he aligned to his entrance.

Gently but firmly, Arthur entered him. The dewy tip of his sex forced Merlin’s wet flesh to spread apart, while Merlin arched in response to the huge intrusion, throwing his head back on the cushions of the couch, breathing hard, as the blond pushed in him, violating him, opening him, forcing him to accept him deeper and deeper, forcing him to hatch for him.

It was more painful than during the Heat.

Despite the fact his body recognized and accepted his partner, receiving Arthur without the impetus and the abundant natural lubrication of the Heat was a lot more difficult.

Yet, Arthur was behaving very well: understanding the situation all too well, he was holding back and moving slowly, with grace. He was alert to the slightest variation in his Omega’s pheromones, pausing after each thrust to make him get used to it.

Merlin noticed his clenched jaw and he mentally thanked his mate for the effort, who was trying to be slow and gentle, fighting his own domination instincts.

After a while, the pain gave way to pleasure and the brunet relaxed his pelvis unconsciously, to Arthur’s delight, who slid deeper, pushing in him to match up their pelvises.

Christ!

Merlin's mouth opened in a silent beg, the breath broken in the lungs, eyes shut, his heart pounding, as the blond pulled back only to penetrate him again and again with needy violence, forcing him to open up for him, burying in his body, forcing him to moan with every thrust, as he entered him with ever-increasing pace.

After two or three well established thrusts, the Knot at the base of Arthur’s sex swelled fully, finding its perfect location in a Merlin that was trembling with pleasure.

As soon as his prostate was stimulated by the Alpha’s thrusts, now stronger, the Omega began to moan louder, needy. It was then that Arthur held out his arms and squeezed him, pulling him upright, forcing him to rise and impaling himself on his sex.

Merlin buried his face in his shoulder, clinging to him with his arms and legs, sobbing with pleasure, as Arthur’s thrusts became more languid, stimulating the special point that made Merlin scream with pleasure at every slightest movement.

With one last push, strong, deep, Merlin came, tagging their bellies. Merlin contracted repeatedly around his Knot, while Arthur sank his teeth at the base of his neck, reviving the bite of the Bond, growling a low "MINE" before he came with a hoarse moan too, filling Merlin’s belly with his hot seed.

They stayed like that, tied, sweaty, one straddling the other, one inside the other for all the necessary time to catch their breath.

Merlin melted in his Alpha’s warm embrace, enjoying the wonderful feeling at having him inside of him, at feeling the heartbeat of him mate irradiated in his body. Merlin felt his feelings flowing freely between them through the Bond.

Jesus Arthur ... you have been..." Merlin whispered in his ear with tears in his eyes.

"Yes… I know. You're mine, sweet Omega. I love you and I won’t stop telling you every day for the rest of my life." The blond said, smiling on his white skin.

The night saw them together, hugging, with a thousand of whispered words and as many heartbeats and a universe to discover that bore their names. They waited together for a dawn that would take them back home...

Chapter Text

God, I can’t believe it. 

This thought haunted Gaius’s mind, while he was about to submerge two tablespoons of Black Tea in his ceramic teapot, already preheated, on a rainy morning.

The smell that came out heartened him instantly, helping him to calm the accelerating beating heart that the Alpha sitting in his living room had been causing him for more than half an hour.

He was sure his poor heart would not hold for much longer in the presence of Uther Pendragon, who had arrived in his house that morning, hollow face and dark circles under his eyes. He must have not slept well in the last few days.

To be honest, he wasn’t in much better conditions either. Although he had wanted that moment for an absolutely indefinite number of years and had dreamed about it again and again in every detail for many years to come, Gaius was not prepared for the reaction his body and his heart had as soon as he found himself in front of his True Bond Mate.

They had stood still, watching each other on the doorstep, for at least a full minute, before Gaius had decided to let him in.

There had been no need for words and suddenly, the last forty years were wiped out with a blink of an eye.

The Omega had been unnecessarily trying to impose his usual demeanor, while the scent of iron, wood and rain, which had always distinguished Uther's figure, had crept in him, impressing upon him as it used to do once, seeking him.

“You have not changed," Uther had simply said, following him into the living room. He too was lost in the ancient scent of lavender and sun that used to distinguish his Omega from the rest of the world.

"This is the best joke of the past decade." the doctor had said with a tight smile, inviting him to sit. "Why are you here, Uther?"

"Well, Morgana has informed me (in truth she had shouted at me for a good hour) about the Imprinting and about the fact Arthur is with your nephew at the moment. It seems like they are sharing his Heat, despite my ban...”

“They are True Soul Mates,” Gaius had said in turn, taking place in the old leather chair in front of the one where Uther sat. "And this is the fifth day together. Merlin has sent me a message; they should come back later this morning. And when they are here, you should not make a scene like that of the other day, Uther. Those boys have the right to love each other and to be together without the opposition of the family. They have already suffered too much.”

Uther had run a hand through his dejected hair, "Sure. Therefore, you think I should let them do it, don’t you? Or maybe I should be happy for my son: at least he has the opportunity to be with his Omega. Unlike me."

Gaius had gripped the arm of the chair, stiffening and planting his eyes in those icy ones of the Alpha. "Uther, it is useless to reopen old wounds ... once and for all, why are you here?”

"Because I want a bloody answer" Uther had spat, clearly angry. His pheromones had gone crazy all around them, "You left without a word years ago and I want a damn explanation once and for all. First, you leave without a word; then, you reappear in my life and do as if nothing had ever happened between us! Do you have any idea how long I've looked for you? How sick I have been because of you? And now, you have the courage to give me a lecture about how I should act with my son? For Christ's sake! You've hurt me too much, Gaius. And I demand to know why!”

“Ah, I have hurt you too much?" the doctor had snapped, flushed. "You and your family are monsters! Your brother killed my nephew Will and tortured Merlin. Not to mention that brainless bastard of your father! And you, who had hated him so much, have become exactly like him!"

"And what did you expect me to do? You have broken our Bond. I was in love with you. I was your Alpha and would have given my life for you! And you, who had promised me undying loyalty, disappeared into the shadows. You have been killing me slowly for all these years. I haven’t even allowed myself the luxury to love Ygraine fully because, despite everything, my heart has always belonged to you! And don’t think I didn’t try to deny it to myself in the long nights of my life, or every time I looked at her and laid with her. And what's worse is that she knew it. She had always known it! And she had never made me feel guilty. On the other hand, you…you hide yourself from my eyes. You ran away like a thief in the night, after having promised me you would have stayed by my side forever! I was willing to fight my father, to give up anything to be with you! How could you have done that to me? How could you have condemned me so? Damn it!”

“You think it was easy for me to leave my Alpha? Do you still believe it was 'my choice'? That one day all of a sudden I woke up and I decided to disappear? Christ, how little you know me! Your father had forced me to. The day 'I went away’, I was taken from my room in the campus by two big Alphas that pushed me forcefully into a car.

They brought before 'His Highness' your father, who thought well to threaten not only me, but also my sister and my brother if I didn’t stay away from you! He had files with their photos, addresses and phone numbers! He even knew where they worked and about their health problems. He knew everything. And if I had not left you immediately, he would have destroyed not only my life (that I would have willingly sacrificed for you), but also that of all my loved ones. And let's face it: your father could do it with a snap of his fingers. When I told him I would have denounced him if he had tried to do something to my family, he ordered his men to take me away. They kept me imprisoned in an apartment in a French town, whose name I don’t even remember, where two of 'his' men were always ready to beat me whenever I tried to rebel or to run away. After nearly six months of torture, one morning I got up and his men were gone. I found myself alone and penniless in a country I didn’t know. I managed to return only thanks to the embassy. As soon as I returned to the campus, I found out you were not there anymore. I tried to ask around and they told me to look in the newspaper: there was your and Ygraine’s picture, announcing your engagement and upcoming wedding. After only six months, you were engaged to another. So, I dropped out of university and spent a whole year lying on a bed with a broken heart. I was dead inside. It took me time to recover and to complete my studies. However, every single day I felt sick, thinking you were breathing the same air I was, that we were under the same sky and that you were not with me. Not a single day has passed without me suffering. I have never mated with anyone else, despite the fact that our Bond was broken. And this should be the proof you have been my one and only Alpha and my one and only love. I have never given myself to others. And you know what that means for us Omegas not to share our Heat with someone. It’s a life sentence“

That said, the doctor had stood up with a quick and abrupt gesture, running to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. He had hoped to calm down a bit and to stop the tachycardia prevailing in his chest, after giving voice to years and years of secrets and pain. He had left a gaping and puzzled Uther in front of him, gazing into space.

"I cannot believe my father went that far," The Alpha whispered, devastated.

"You can bet he did," Gaius muttered from the kitchen.

Uther put his head in his hands, trying to rub his temples, swallowing hard. He tried to process the whole series of information that had fallen on him like a cold shower.

He knew his father was a monster. Nevertheless, he would have never imagined this much.

All those years spent hating his Omega, asking himself why of that gesture. And all that anger poured into the lives of his children...

"Why have you never tried to get in touch with me?" the Alpha asked softly.

"And what was I supposed to say? 'Hello Love, here I am. Your father kidnapped me but I'm back. Oh, you got married in the meantime? Oh what beautiful children you had without me!' Uther, do me a favor. Stop talking nonsense. You'd made a new life. And I didn’t want to reappear as a ghost to ruin your life more than your father had already done."

Uther stood up and went into the kitchen, pausing in the doorway, not daring to go further; eyes planted on the floor, getting lost in the pheromones of his Omega, feeling the stress clearly showing in the acidity of his scent.

"I have hated you for all these years, Gaius."

"I know," said the Omega. The regret was oozing in every letter, "But that's okay. Just don’t do to our boys what your father did to us." He finished with a broken voice.

Uther’s heart sank and he instinctively went to Gaius, who was showing him his back and trying not to make his hands shake too much as he poured the Tea into the cups, and clasped his shoulders, resting his forehead on the back of his neck.

The Omega did not rebel. That touch did not turn out to be unwelcome, despite a part of his mind was detached by it.

"God, I feel so bad ... after all these years. Your scent hasn’t changed."

"Unlike yours, Uther" Gaius sighed, closing his eyes and trying not to enjoy too much the touch of the Alpha that his body still recognized as his own, after so many years.

"I blame myself ... for what my father did. For not trusting you not to hurt me on purpose. Christ everything seems a bad dream. It’s as if I have lived in a bubble of resentment and hatred for so long to lose touch with reality."

"What is done is done, Uther. I don’t want to live in the past anymore. I have been doing it for too long. Now I just want to look ahead and think about Merlin’s happiness. And you should do the same for your son..."

Uther nodded, gently rubbing his back, enjoying the disappearance of the acidity in the doctor’s pheromones, who was apparently relaxing under his touch.

And for a moment, everything was as it was once. Sunny afternoons and smiles invaded the memories of both men, while the threads of an old broken Bond pushed under their skin in order to intertwine again. Hearts found the synchronicity they used to have. Words steeped in soul and pain resurfaced in the tears that now were streaming down their cheeks.

"I remember when you used to tell me I was an ass and that I had to study more. You used to throw books at my head. You were violent. It’s amazing you have become a doctor" Uther said behind him.

"Well, I don’t think you've changed that much, Uther ... as for me, now I have more subtle ways I could hurt you with... needles for example. If I remember correctly, you have a natural aversion for them, so ... don’t piss me off and drink your tea." The Omega smiled, bringing the cup to his lips and holding out the other one, full of amber liquid.

The moment was interrupted by an arrhythmic and strong sound, coming from Uther’s pocket.

The Alpha took the phone from his pocket, intrigued, "It's Morgana. Excuse me a moment; I have to take this!" The other said, kindly going away from the doctor. A moment later, the cup that Uther was holding was slammed hard on the nearest surface.

"What the hell do you mean ‘Arthur is in prison’? Which one? Where have they taken him? WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?"

Gaius put down his cup in turn, getting closer to the other man, trying to understand what had happened, when the phone in his house rang as well. In that confusion, the doctor took the receiver to answer, intent to cut it short to listen to the conversation between Morgana and Uther.

“Gaius, it’s Gwaine”

“Yes, boy. Sorry but now I don’t have time for you. I am busy with..."

"Gaius" The brown haired man interrupted abruptly, "You have to listen to me! Morgana called me a few minutes ago and asked me to warn you. Arthur is in prison and Merlin..."

Gaius swallowed hard, while a dark fear clutched his stomach.

"Merlin WHAT? Where is my nephew? Speak!" The doctor asked, now seriously worried.

"Gaius ... Merlin has been taken to a Center for Assisted Reproduction."

"WHAT? WHERE? WHICH ONE? What the hell happened? Why...”

“From what Morgana told me, they were returning home, but the police was waiting for them to pick Merlin up. It seems like someone has reported him to the Police as a more than twenty-six years old Omega without Bond and offspring. The police was waiting for him in front of our flat; has taken him and loaded him on a truck. Arthur fought them, making it clear Merlin was his Omega and they were Mated, but apparently they didn’t listen to him. In an attempt to free Merlin, he beat three police officers, before being restrained and taken to jail, sedated. As soon as he recovered, he used the phone call to alert Morgana, who warned me. I'm coming to pick you up, Gaius! Get ready!"

Gaius put the phone down. He was so upset. He looked at Uther, still on the phone with his daughter.

Merlin…

In a C.A.R.

My God, no.

NO!

The doctor felt his knees becoming like jelly. He barely managed to reach the armchair and to cover his eyes with both hands, suddenly feeling weak. The Alpha’s voice seemed distant.

"Warn our Law Firm. I want to know where they are holding him. All right, see you there..."

The touch of Uther’s hands on his was gentle but firm.

"Gaius, my son has been arrested. Morgana is already on her way to him."

"Yes, I know ..." The doctor whispered, unabashedly agitated, trying to still the beating heart in his chest and to retrieve his clarity. "Go ahead. Go to him. Gwaine is coming to get me. Merlin is in a CAR… he has been put in a..."

"I know Gaius. Morgana has warned me. We’re going there. She went to bail Arthur out of jail. I’m coming with you to the C.A.R. as a lawyer and I’m going to demand your nephew’s immediate release. Gana and Arthur will join us there as soon as possible"

The doctor suddenly sobered: what was he saying? He was going to come with him to his nephew?

"Why? I don’t understand ... you hate this situation and certainly, you hate Merlin too, since he is an Omega ..."

Uther took the Omega’s hands in his, peering into the soul in his eyes.

"Let's just say I don’t want to repeat the same mistakes my father made. I’m also doing this because otherwise you will never forgive me. Now let's go. Gana has told me someone is going to pick us up...”

***

In that moment, everything seemed surreal.

That morning they had been so happy. They had left the countryside house at dawn and they had hold hands all the time in the car, making plans for the future, laughing and joking happily.

Arthur had every intention to buy a loft, big enough for the both of them, where Merlin was going to move in with him in the nearest future. He didn’t want to stay away from his Omega, not even for a minute, especially in the early months, when the Bond required the mate’s almost constant presence.

That morning, they had gone to Merlin’s house to take his clothes and to take them to the Pendragons Mansion, where Arthur was going to set the guesthouse of the villa up as their own private marriage bed, until they could find their future apartment. Moreover, his father was never there and, by the way, he was ready to face anything in order to be with his Omega.

Everything had seemed perfect.

Until they had arrived at Merlin’s house that morning.

“Merlin Emrys?”

The voice behind them, as they were opening the door, had been dry and cold.

How could he have not noticed their presence ... he was a Prime ... he had not even smelled them.

They had hardly had time to turn around, when four pairs of hands had grabbed his arms and shoulders, pushing him away, while two black figures had encircled his Omega’s white wrists, tugging him back.

“Merlin Emrys, you are hereby under arrest for violation of the Omegas’ Mandatory Reproduction Law. You have to come along peacefully..."

He had not understood what was happening.

He had only known that it was wrong.

Those men are touching MY Omega.

The reaction had been decomposed and blind, totally instinctive: before realizing it, he had wriggled free; he had put the two dumb thugs that had imprisoned him in their grip out of the way, one with a well-aimed right punch, the other with a punch to the stomach. Then, he had launched on the two men that were tugging Merlin.

The voice in his head had kept hammering incessantly: Merlin. Don’t touch Merlin. Don’t touch my Omega. He is mine. MINE. MINE. MINE.

The last thing he remembered had been Merlin’s ocean blue eyes, wet with tears, pleading, steeped in confusion and fear, as he held out his hand to him. His pheromones had gone crazy with a heavy sour note that had permeated the air around him.

"Arthur ... Arthur, NO!"

He had been about to take his hand and free him from the clutches of the Police.

He would have defended and protected him at all costs.

Then, Arthur had been pushed on the ground, with three people crushing him on the cement floor, immobilizing him, while shouting Merlin’s name, trying desperately to free himself. The syringe had been the last thing he saw, while hearing a dry, 'just hold him still, fuck’.

It was the sound of a key and the cell door opening on its complaining hinges to redeem Arthur from his thoughts.

"Pendragon, you're out. Hurry up!" The voice of the guard was toneless.

***

Morgana was waiting patiently for her brother’s arrival, walking up and down the long and dark corridor of the police station, where her brother was detained.

She recognized the sound of his footsteps, before recognizing his figure.

Turning around, she could see two police officers down the corridor behind the bars and she immediately recognized her brother walking between them: the shaggy blond hair; a cut on his full lips, as he was trying in vain to break free from the grip of the two Alphas; eyes down; his jaw drenched in pure hatred. The guards led him to her and removed the handcuffs.

“Mrs. Pendragon, he is all yours.” One of the policemen said, pushing him forward towards his sister.

Arthur embraced her immediately, strongly, and Morgana returned the hug, trying to instill a bit of calm in her brother.

He was shaking with rage.

"Gana, we have to go to Merlin. Immediately! I'm feeling him through the Bond. He is scared! I must go to him NOW!"

"Of course," She decided, leading the way through the door of the district, "I have already warned Gwaine to fetch Gaius and ... I have also warned Uther."

"Our father? What were you thinking, Gana?? Holy Christ I have enough of what is going on to worry about him too!" The blond spat, tensed, getting in his sister’s Mercedes.

"I have spoken to him..." Gana said starting the car.

"You have TALKED to him??" Arthur said almost incredulously.

“Yes... for hours, in fact. The fact he has found his Omega after years and years, has ... you know ... knocked some sense into him! I have blackmailed him: Gaius’s address in exchange for a bit of indulgence towards you and Merlin..."

"God, Gana, I cannot believe it. I cannot believe it! You gave him Gaius’s address?"

"Well, I have asked him first ... don’t worry!”

“Anyway, I don’t care. Do you know who has reported Merlin to the cops?"

"Exactly who you think! Although I am not 100% sure"

"If it hadn’t been my father ... it was that asshole of Agravaine?"

"That's right, little brother. The complaint was anonymous, but there's no sign of our uncle. It seems like he has left London, but I have not been able to find out where he went.

Probably, to avoid a counter- complaint for kidnapping and injuries, his reasoning must have been: ‘If I can't have him, no one else can'."

The Mercedes sped at full speed through the streets of the city.

“That piece of s .... I should have killed him, killed him, HOLY CHRIST! Not just beating him!"

"Unfortunately, it was in his rights as an Alpha to do the complaint, even if anonymous. Obviously, the Police checked and then... they put two and two together! However, Gwaine went to pick Gaius and dad up to take them to the CAR of Kenninghton."

"Gaius and Uther were together?"

"Yes ... at Gaius's house! Dad has gone to see him this morning, on my advice. I wanted them to clarify themselves before your return ... and I hope they managed to!"

Arthur shook his head sadly. Then, he inhaled strongly. He widened his eyes and started to tremble visibly.

“Artie, what’s wrong?” His sister asked him, worried.

“Gana...I can’t feel Merlin anymore...”

***

When Gaius set foot in the lobby of the C.A.R., he nearly fainted. The smell of chemical disinfectants was something horrible, in perfect harmony with the monochrome gray marble that covered the entire shiny and aseptic floor and walls.

He, Uther and Gwaine went to the cage of the information office, where a Beta in black uniform and with thick glasses was reading a book, behind a thick layer of glass.

"Merlin Emrys" the doctor began, "they have brought him here this morning. I demand to know where he is and what you have done to him"

The attendant looked up, clearly annoyed by the Omega’s worried tone.

"You are?"

"I'm his uncle, Gaius De La Croix. His one and only relative. And now, tell me what happened to my nephew.”

The clerk tapped his fingers rhythmically on the keyboard of your computer, narrowing his eyes on the screen. Then, in no hurry, he said.

"Yes ... Merlin Emrys. He has been taken this morning. They are treating him right now."

Gaius felt his blood frozen in his veins.

"Treating him? What the hell do you mean?"

"Sir, this is a Center for Assisted Reproduction. In your opinion, what can it mean? You know the law for Omegas: Bond within twenty-one years of age or children within twenty-six years..."

"His nephew is mated with my son. Arthur Pendragon” Uther said, authoritarian. "And I'm his lawyer. Uther Pendragon. I demand to see my client immediately."

In response, the attendant pushed his glasses on his nose, looking at him with absolute indifference.

“If the Bond had occurred recently or less, we will update the archives. But the fact remains that Mr. Emrys has no offspring. And, although the late Bond may be 'forgiven', we cannot do the same for the fact he has generated no Alpha or Omega. Therefore, the violation of the law remains. Mr. Emrys will be subject to fertilization and once we can confirm his pregnancy, we will return him to you for the gestation. In ten months, our Police will check to confirm the birth and that Mr. Emrys has fulfilled his duty toward society"

"My nephew has just stopped a multi-years cycle of suppressors: he is not fertile. He will not be before his next Heat. If you induce the Heat chemically and make him mate, you will not get any results anyway. You have to give him time. He wouldn’t be able to conceive even if he wanted to!" Gaius intervened in panic.

The attendant wrote something on the keyboard and then resumed, flat: “Thank you, but Mr. Emrys had already given us this information. However, we have found no traces of suppressors in his body; therefore ... he will be able to enjoy the hospitality of this institution until he conceives."

"It’s obvious you have not found them: he stopped using suppressors months ago. But, that doesn’t mean his body doesn’t need to adapt..."

"Mr. Emrys has already had his first natural Heat a few days ago, as he himself has told us and as the tests have confirmed. Data tell us that 80% of the Omega population that stops suppressors returns fertile between the second and third natural Heat ... but a remaining 20% is already fertile between the first and the second Heat. Therefore, Mr. Emrys is still going to be subjected to our treatment."

Gaius beat his fists against the double glass, giving the Beta a fright.

“What the hell do you mean, you ignorant fools? That you can rape my nephew in the hope he is part of that 20%?? And if he is not? If instead he is part of the remaining 80% and will be fertile in three months?"

The attendant got up from the chair in defiantly, resting his palms on the marble desk. He approached the glass, so that they could hear him better.

"Mr. Merlin Emrys has broken the law. He will be subjected to the first treatment today. If after this treatment he is not pregnant, we will wait for his next Heat and repeat the operation. We will repeat it again and again, until Mr. Emrys goes through a pregnancy. Is that clear now?"

"I demand to speak with the director of the Institute! Now!" Uther spat, angry.

"I'm sorry, but the director does not receive anyone without an appointment. And I want to remind you that this is a public facility. We take all necessary precautions before subjecting our guests to the treatment. We are not the ones that have violated the law. At the moment, Mr. Emrys cannot see anyone, since he is in pre-treatment. If you want to wait for the afternoon visiting hours, you can do it in the waiting room."

"Call the director RIGHT NOW or you will regret it for the rest of your life.”

*** 

Merlin curled up on the small bed in the room where he had been locked up. It was completely white, except for a large mirror on one wall.

He was naked. His body ached. His muscles were rigid. His skin was hot and permeated by a thin layer of cold sweat. The viscous substance that was dripping from his legs left no doubt that the liquid in the syringe that had been injected in him less than one hour before had induced the Heat.

When they had taken him that morning, they had thrown him in the shower, stripping him by force. Then, they had given him a hospital dressing gown. They had closed him in a room with a doctor, who had asked him a thousand of questions for an hour.

He had been treated like an animal, naked and weak without his Alpha to protect him. The worst part was he knew full well what he was getting himself into. In his mind, he had called Arthur many times, feeling his desperation growing; feeling his Alpha’s frustration, as fear ran through their Bond.

“I have just shared my Heat with my Alpha! See? The bite of the Bond is vivid and fresh. I have just finished a long period of suppressors. I’m not fertile yet! If you give me time, I am sure I can conceive my Alpha’s children on my next Heat, without having to endure all this! I'm a doctor, I ..." His voice had come out like a broken lament.

His assigned doctor, an elder Omega with understanding eyes, had gently touched the bite on his neck. Then, he had sat in front of him, releasing a regretful smile.

“I can see it, Mr. Emrys and if it were up to me, I would let you go. I work for this Institute, but I don’t approve the laws that govern it. There is very little I can do. I am going to draw some blood to make more specific analysis, but unfortunately, I don’t think there will be enough time to get the results on your fertility before you are subjected to the fertilization process. And to be honest, I think it won't matter... the minds that manage these structures see us omegas only as broodmares. Once you have broken the law and end up here, your rights disappear and the only thing you have to do is pray to conceive as soon as possible. An Omega’s only chance of getting out of here is if they are pregnant.”

Merlin had begun to hyperventilate. The fear that had gripped his heart was twisting his stomach, causing him to vomit. The very thought of being intimately touched by someone who was not Arthur was driving him crazy. The doctor had noticed it and had given him some water, trying to calm him down.

"I know it's hard, especially with the newly established Bond. Just close your eyes and think you are mating with your Alpha... I'm really sorry, Emrys"

His tears and sobs had been useless when they had taken him in the cell, where he was being held now, and they had not stopped the needle that they had pushed in his arm without a word, while injecting an amber colored liquid under his skin.

Now, he was lying in that bed. His body was warm and vibrant, while waiting for the inevitable with fear in his heart and tears in his eyes.

The hands that would touch him were not going to be Arthur’s; the one who was about to violate his body was not his Alpha, and the life that he may bear would not belong to the man he loved, but to a stranger.

Jesus!

He closed his thoughts and fears in a cocoon, trying to alienate his mind, cutting Arthur off, so that he would not feel his thoughts, perceive his emotions: otherwise, he would die because of it.

When the pheromones of the Alpha, who had entered the room, pervaded the air, looking for him, attacking him, demanding attention, Merlin closed his eyes, sobbing.

It was useless to resist.

His body was already prepared for the coupling and, although his mind was still alert enough to rebel, his hips had moved on their own, spreading his legs and presenting at the Alpha, naked and wet with desire, ready to be taken and possessed.

The last thing he saw was his own tears wetting the pillow, before feeling the touch of the Alpha on his hips. He prayed God that the horny beast behind him would do his duty as quickly as possible.

*** 

Morgana was hugging her brother, trying to convey a calm that she, in fact, did not possess.

The both of them were disappointed and angry. They could do nothing but wait for the afternoon visiting hours with Gwaine, Percy (who had arrived in the meantime), Gaius and Uther in the cold and sterile waiting room of the C. A. R. But when the time had come, they were informed Merlin was not yet available for visits after the treatment. Therefore, they had to wait.

Not even her father, with all his influence, had managed to pull Merlin out of there.

Arthur was like a lion in a cage. He had tried desperately to 'feel' Merlin and the thought of what they could do to his Omega sent him into a rage, especially because he was helpless in this situation.

“Are you Mr. Emrys’s relatives?" The gentle voice in the doorway caught everyone by surprise.

Immediately, all eyes rested on the tall figure, dressed in a white coat, over the threshold.

He was an Omega, a senior. He looked like a doctor.

Arthur quickly lunged at him, taking the collar of his coat, while Gwaine and Percy tried to restrain him.

“Where is my Omega?! What have you done to him?” Arthur roared with a so intense hatred that the doctor inadvertently moved his neck to the right, a sign of submission, closing his eyes, assaulted by the Prime’s pheromones.

It took a moment for the blond to calm down enough to allow him to talk.

"You must be Arthur Pendragon, Mr. Emrys' Alpha. We are releasing your Omega today. He is getting ready. We wanted to warn you."

That statement shocked everyone.

Arthur let go of the doctor, who struggled immediately, getting as far away as possible from the Alpha, holding his neck. The blond stood there, watching him. His blue eyes were glassy and his jaw was rigid, as his mind flew to a range of possible scenarios.

Gaius stepped forward: "What the hell does it mean you are releasing him? They told us the only way for an Omega to get out of here was..." He could not finish the sentence, because his breath was caught in his throat.

"Yes. Mr. Merlin Emrys is pregnant. Confirmation came about half an hour ago, against all odds. Therefore, he can leave the facility now. I wanted to be the first to congratulate you”

“To congratulate for what?! For raping a Mated Omega? For forcing him to conceive with someone that is not his Alpha? What kind of people are you? You do this and then you come here as if nothing happened, happy with your work? Happy to have ruined the life of a person that will be traumatized by this day forever?”

Arthur shouted, held back once again by Gwaine and Percy, before he could reach the doctor, who had stepped back against the wall in the meanwhile.

“Mr. Pendragon, please, calm down." The doctor said, trying to sound as calm as possible, "Mr. Emrys has not been subjected to our treatment. His blood tests indicated the conception just before we went on with the insemination. The process has been stopped just in time"

Arthur paused again, eyes widening. His clenched fists relaxed for a moment.

"What the hell are trying to say?" He asked with a slim hope in his heart.

The Omega smiled kindly, approaching him, "I'm saying the baby is yours, Mr. Pendragon. It’s the result of the Heat you have just shared. We would have never thought it possible, given the fact this has been his first Heat after the suppressors, notoriously sterile. Yet, the miracle has happened. Mr. Emrys is carrying your child. That’s why I’m congratulating you. And now, excuse me, but I must return to my duties..."

After a moment of silence, smiles began to appear on the lips of everyone in this room.

The first to embrace a still shocked Arthur was Percy, who nearly lifted him up, shaking him amicably. "Oh-ho. Bravo. This is our Alpha! Well done! Congratulations, Artie!”

“You, scoot over!” Gwaine said, laughing and shoving Percy out of the way. He embraced the blond too. "Congratulation, big head! You'll be a great father. However, the kid will love his Uncle Gwaine the most! I'll give him a ton of apples...”

Arthur turned toward his family, still trying to absorb the information.

"How is it possible? ... Gaius ... this Heat ... you told me it would be sterile."

"I think the Imprinting has something to do with it ... obviously, Merlin’s body has recognized you on a deep level, preparing itself for you and to conceive, against all expectations ... after all, I have always said that the natural chemistry is stronger than the artificial one. It's clear that my nephew’s body has eradicated the residual effects of the suppressors, naturally preparing itself for you, accepting your seed. Something that would have never occurred with another Alpha. It's really a miracle ... a case that I need to study deeply. Boys! Your Bond is something unique!”

“Congratulations, little brother!" Morgana said, tightening the Alpha’s muscular body strongly, whose pheromones were already abandoning the acidity they had been having since early that morning.

Arthur hugged her and Gana saw her brother weeping with joy for the first time in his life.

*** 

A green field…

Sun…

Warmth…

Trees in the distance.

A scented wind was messing the ebony hair of a little girl with blue eyes, like the spring sky, and a sweet smile painted on her rosy and plump cheeks. She was wearing a mint-colored dress with a big red ribbon around her waist.

Her hands were raised upwards.

“White ... butterfly... "

Merlin smiled tenderly.

"Yes, Vivian ... do you see the butterfly? It’s beautiful, isn’t it?" The brunet said, once again amazed by the little girl’s beauty. He lifted her from the lawn, picking her up.

Instinctively, he placed a light kiss on her plump and soft cheek, smelling her scent.

Omega, pure, wonderful combination of his and Arthur’s scent.

His daughter.

Sky blue eyes and long ebony hair; fair skin, like snow, and wonderfully rosy cheeks; full lips, stretched into a smile, as he stroked her cheek.

"Where is Daddy?" The little girl asked sweetly.

"Yeah, where is Daddy?" Merlin asked, looking around.

He heard laughter behind him and turned around. Arthur, his muscular body perfectly comfortable in a pair of breeches and a t-shirt, was chasing a child of the same age as Vivian along the lawn, running around him, pretending to chase him, while the child kept running, laughing delightfully.

Even Merlin found himself smiling, while Vivian stretched out her rose hand, calling aloud: "Daddyyyyy"

The smiling blond turned towards them, waving his hand and trotting after the child, who was still running around. Arthur caught him and lifted him up, putting him astride on his powerful shoulders.

“It’s time to go, Will...."

A moment later, Arthur's lips were on his, soft, fragrant and heartening, while the children laughed in their arms.

Will began to fidget on Arthur’s shoulders and instantly, he encircled Merlin’s neck, lowering himself in his arms.

The brunet smiled, looking at the miniature portrait of his Alpha: deep blue eyes and blond hair; red and fleshy lips; a bulbous nose that was drop-dead gorgeous; his skin was more tanned than his sister’s, and he had a few freckles too...

Will…

A small Alpha, identical to his father.

Once grown up, he was going to break some hearts. Like his sister.

The both of them were getting heavy in Merlin’s arms, but he did not care.

Arthur came up with his usual sly smile, folded in two dimples on the sides of his mouth.

"I love you..." He whispered to his lips, before possessing them with a kiss, drenched in sweetness and desire that made his heart beat faster.

"Daddyyy"

"Dad, I'm hungry...”

***

Merlin woke up slowly in their bed, letting the beautiful dream he just had to fill up his mind a little bit more.

He found himself smiling like an idiot: his Alpha was awake and was embracing him from behind, possessive, gently caressing his belly. His nose was planted in his jet-black hair, smelling him.

"Sorry ... I didn’t want to wake you up ... but you have such a good scent ... motherhood suits you. You are irresistible; do you know that, my sweet Omega? If I could, I would do nothing else but make you mine all day.”

“You haven’t woken me up... don’t worry. I like your plan... I might just take you up on that!"

"And how’s going in here?? How's my little boy? Or little girl?" The blond asked, drawing a trail of kisses on his belly, which Merlin was starting to show visibly. He put a stronger kiss on it and put his ear on Merlin’s belly button.

Merlin smiled, running a hand through his mate’s golden hair.

"You know Arthur, I think we are having twins ... a boy and a girl ... I have seen them just a moment ago.” 

“Then, you were having sweet dreams ..." The Alpha said, capturing his lips softly, sucking them slowly, ripping a moan of pure pleasure from him.

"Yes, Arthur ... beautiful dreams indeed ..." Merlin answered, smiling at him on his neck skin, before hugging the blond.

Outside the windows, the shining sun was promising a very good day.

He smiled.

He was home...

 


THE END