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Arthur returns injured.

His armour isn't off, but Merlin can tell by his gait, slightly cumbersome and unsteady, as if he were favouring one side. There isn't much he can do, so he watches warily from their bed of furs, lips pursed. There's so much he wants to say, to chide and scold, to drill into Arthur, using his words and voice that violence begets violence; and such bloodshed to become a king isn't worth it.

He doesn't say any of those things, for he is a scholar turned slave, silenced by his new status.

Arthur strips himself of his armour, leaving a trail within his wake. He drops thick hunks of metal held together by leather. Some of the metal is speckled with blood and dirt; dented, imprints of knives and swords that fell upon their mark and failed to deal the deathblow, this time.

"Merlin," Arthur growls, settling on the bed of furs across Merlin. He takes off his tattered tunic, throwing it to the floor. It’s soon followed by his dirty trousers. "Why don't you make yourself useful and get me some wine.” His teeth are gritted together in pain, the line of his lips twisted in a grimace that does nothing to ruin the loveliness of his face.

Merlin. Merlin. Merlin. Always Merlin, never ‘slave’ or ‘boy’ or ‘thing’. Merlin, as if he is still his own man, as if he still meant something, an equal.

He realises how lucky he truly is, that Arthur allows him the luxury of clothes. Not just that, but the clothes are of a high quality, finer made than some free men have. His shirts are vibrant, shades of blue and violet, just because Arthur has admitted to liking the way they look on him. Even Merlin’s boots are fine, supple leather and warm in a way that causes the other more poorly dressed slaves to eye him with envy.

Though currently, Merlin is wearing none of these things. All he has upon his body is a sleep tunic that adequately covers his nether parts.

"Maybe I should dawdle. If you're in pain long enough then you might get it through your thick skull that not everything has to end up in a fight." Merlin inhales sharply, trying to retrieve his words to no avail. He doesn't mean this, knows that his opinions aren't warranted, but he's never been the meek and quiet sort, no matter how hard he tries.

Arthur laughs, a bark almost, cut short from pain but still rich and full of mirth. "Your mouth," he says, beginning to unwrap the blood stain bandage that covers his chest and shoulder. "There are better uses for that mouth than to be cheeky."

A whipping. A lashing. Three days in the stocks. These are the punishment offered to any slave that dares to mouth off and yet... with Arthur, it's different.  

Merlin rummages through the ornate chest against one of tent walls. There are precious things within. Things that act as comfort for men while on campaign. Scented oils, the good wine, other odd bits and pieces. He pulls out the wine, as well as the strip of willow bark. "Discussions of peace without war," Merlin says, unable to help himself. "Or perhaps I should just lament about the fact that my master is an utter prat." He passes the strip of bark to Arthur. "Chew," he orders, holding the flask of wine out of reach when Arthur tries to swipe at it.

Dutifully, Arthur chews on the bark, grimacing at the bitterness that is no doubt flooding his mouth. The numbing of pain is a double-edged blade, be it a bitter taste or the eventual loss of mind. "You know what I mean."

Oddly enough, it’s when he is injured that Arthur is most docile. It’s then Merlin is able to prod and jab at his body, his mind. It should irk Merlin, the relief that makes him sigh audibly when he realises that Arthur’s wounds aren't life threatening. None of the wounds take on the characteristic pus and rawness that speaks of infection. "You cannot be so reckless. You're an awful master, but I'll no doubt get one more awful should you become fodder for the carrion birds.”

Arthur rolls his eyes. "Your concern for me is astounding. If I fall, I shall have you buried with me for such loyalty."


"Alive." Arthur corrects, tone serious in jest. There's a lazy grin on his face now, no doubt the pain of his wounds being numbed by the medicinal qualities of the willowbark. He spits out the bark, now that it has been chewed, and reaches for the wine that Merlin passes to him, taking deep gulps that have his throat bobbing.

Merlin huffs in amusement. Fingers trailing along some of the cuts on Arthur’s side and chest. He tries to take in everything, notes the speck of dirt upon Arthur’s cheek, the smattering of dried blood dusted amongst golden hair. “This will need to be bandaged up again.” He leaves the bed, retrieving wads of cloth and a jar of poultice. “I will not have you bleeding all over the furs.”

“Worse than a fishmonger's wife,” Arthur mutters, sitting up straighter, allowing Merlin to coat his wounds with the pungent smelling poultice. “You’ll nag my ear off.”

Merlin ignores him, because he has to concentrate, has to make sure that every wound is adequately covered. “These wounds are here because no armour covers it…” Arthur’s skin is warm, tanned and taut against his corded muscles. Merlin cannot help but run his hands along Arthur’s chest, before he pulls himself together. He reaches for the bandages, begins to bind Arthur’s chest and shoulder. “Have your blacksmith fix it.”

Arthur grunts, though Merlin is not sure if it is in pain or agreement.

A comfortable silence befalls them, interrupted by the occasional heavy breath or hiss of Arthur’s pain as Merlin patches him up.

Merlin wonders how he got to this point. Two months of trying to escape. Six months of confusion, unsure of how to deal with this seemingly barbaric man. The conqueror who had no qualms about being a kingslayer but would not bed Merlin without explicit consent.

“There,” he says, almost a whisper, hand upon the layers of neatly placed bandages. “Give yourself a week, a fortnight even, before you do something stupid again.”

Arthur looks at him. “I promise nothing,” he says, hand creeping up to tug at the hem of Merlin’s tunic.  

Merlin takes it off with a clumsiness only he possesses. He shivers as Arthur’s warm hand returns to his skin, low on his belly.

Arthur trails his hand up higher, finally stopping upon Merlin’s collarbone, thumb tracing the jut of bone.  Full on wine and no longer in too much pain, another hunger lurks within his gaze.

“Arthur!” Merlin squawks, finding himself on his back, Arthur’s caging him, straddling him, hand still hot around his neck. “You’re injured,” he says, breathing out. He cannot help but notice every breath he takes has his throat brushing against Arthur’s calloused hand.

"Barely a scratch. So what is a stab wound to the side? My cock is at full capacity.” As if to prove his point, Arthur grinds his hardening cock against Merlin’s, causing a spike of desire to unfurl within his loins.

Merlin snorts, "And that's all that matters? Your bandages will get dirty.”

"You’ll change them for me," Arthur says, a pleased hum at the back of his throat as he lets go of his hold on Merlin’s neck, leaning down for a kiss.

His kisses are gentle, Merlin has noticed. Languid. Slow strokes of his tongue that has Merlin's toes curling. There isn't an ounce of dominance within his kiss but then, why would there have to be? He kisses with the arrogance of knowing that Merlin is his and nothing upon this plane of existence can contest this.

"Arthur," Merlin keens when they finally part and he is left breathless.

Arthur kisses the corner of his mouth, suckles on his bottom lip until it throbs with a pleasant ache and grins. "Turn around," he urges, manhandling Merlin onto his front.

Merlin strains his neck, turning for another kiss. "I—" he starts, panting as they break apart again and he feels Arthur's dry fingers teasing his hole.

Arthur huffs. "Oil?"

Merlin thrusts against the bed, moaning when his hard cock and sensitive nipples rub against the velveteen furs. "In the chest—oh!" He bucks his hips, bum smarting from the sharp slap Arthur gave him.

"You make an injured man leave his own bed to retrieve the oil?” Another slap, this time followed by a soothing rub. "Cocktease."

"Me? You’re the one thinking of wetting his cock while injured. Insatiable beast.”

Stay,” Arthur orders as he goes to retrieve the vial of oil, stiff cock swaying as he walks.

Of course, Merlin doesn’t do as he’s told. He sits up, taking his cock in his own hand, stroking and touching himself. He moans, fingering the slit, spreading the droplets of precome around the head.

“You think I won’t punish you for your disobedience?” Arthur says, slicking up his cock as he watches Merlin fondle himself. He clambers onto the bed, gripping Merlin’s wrists tightly above his head.

“Could you?” Merlin teases, knowing that the worst punishment Arthur’s ever had him do was to clean the stables. “I’d like to see you try.”

Arthur clicks his tongue. “You’ll regret those words,” he says with a grin, lining his cock to Merlin’s hole and thrusting in with one smooth movement.

Merlin moans, loud and wanton, as he throws his head back. He loves this, is addicted to it. The feeling of being filled by Arthur’s cock, the heavy fullness inside of him, an invasive comfort. “Gods,” he groans, wanting nothing more than to wrap his legs around Arthur’s waist, to pull them closer. But Arthur is wounded, so he settles for planting his feet on the bed, trying to buck up his hips.  

“I’ll never tire of this,” Arthur grunts, pummelling Merlin’s hole with his cock, thrusting over and over again. The slick sound of the rubbing oil, of skin against skin, is obscene, loud in the quietness of their tent.

Arthur's cock grazes a spot within Merlin that has his mind halting with a spark of blind pleasure. “Arthur!" he yells out, mindless of the fact that the walls of the tent are so very thin. He can feel his orgasm cresting, the precipice of pleasure so close. "I'm–,” he starts, hips bucking up against Arthur, meeting him thrust for thrust. “I’m coming. I’m close.”

Arthur stops. Stops and doesn’t start up again.

"Prat!" Merlin hisses, the promise of completion ebbing away. "Arthur, no.” He thrashes, squirming against Arthur's grip.

Merlin’s body is that of a scholar, pale from lack of sunlight, lithe from lack of manual labour. He is wiry and toned. Arthur, on the other hand, has the body of a fighter, muscles forged through training, scars acquired in battle.

Any attempt Merlin makes to force Arthur into compliance is laughable, to say the least.

"Move," he demands petulantly, forgetting his place.

"You are so cruel,” Arthur says, feigning a hurt expression. He traps both of Merlin’s wrists in a single hand, the other massaging Merlin’s lower belly, where Arthur’s cock rests deep within him. “Your tongue is like a knife, saying all those things to me. Tell me, Merlin. Speak the truth. What do you like about me?” He’s grinning, those lazy smirks that Merlin both hates and adores. “Tell me or I will stop and leave you wanting.”

“If you don’t move right this very moment...” Merlin continues to squirm, not caring that his wrists will bruise. That it will cause the other slaves to whisper behind their hands and give him pitying looks, or soldiers to leer and make snide remarks about bedwarming. “Then there will be nothing I like about you.” He tries to clench his internal muscles to spurn Arthur into moving, but all it does is have Arthur shudder, grunting as he swivels his hips, pushing in deeper.

“Come on. Tell me.”

“Fine,” Merlin relents after moments of awkward silence. He can feel the sweat behind his knees and on his chest. “Your hair,” he says, hating the flush that blooms across his cheeks.

“My hair?” With that, Arthur lets go, looming over Merlin to kiss at his forehead. “Because it’s golden like the sun?”

“Hardly.” He tangles his fingers into the nape of Arthur’s neck, playing with the fine hairs before wrapping his arms around Arthur’s neck. “Because it’s soft, like that of a kitten.”

“A kitten.” Arthur sounds mildly insulted and charmed at the same time. He pulls his cock out, then pushes back in, once. “What else?” he asks, kissing Merlin’s cheekbone, the corner of his lips and licking his ears.

He is driving Merlin to insanity. That must be his goal. “Your nose…” Merlin trails off. He wants to come too much and he’s being teased so much. He doesn’t know how much longer he can take of Arthur being such a prat.

“Why?” he asks, rubbing his nose against Merlin’s.

It takes Merlin a moment to answer, because he’s too lost in the sensation of Arthur rubbing circles on his belly, of Arthur ignoring his aching cock. “Regal,” he manages to say. “Sign of a good king.”

“You’re quite odd, do you know this? There’s just something about you.” Taking pity on Merlin, Arthur lavishes attention on his cock, long, slow drags of his fist from root to wet tip. “Is that all you like about me?” He laughs at Merlin’s desperate little whimper. “My hair and my nose?”

“You—Your cock. I like that best. Your thick, well-hung coc—” The rest of Merlin’s sentence gets lost because Arthur is finally, finally moving again. He fucks into Merlin like a beast, ruthlessly battering his prostate in the best of ways. It has Merlin wailing like some sort of harlot. His orgasm takes his breath away. It washes over him, a tidal wave of pleasure, and he’s spurting white over his own belly and Arthur’s.

Arthur isn’t too far off as well. His mouth falls open, letting out panting breaths as his hips hitch and buck in an uneven rhythm. “Merlin,” he whispers, sweat running down his chin to fall on Merlin’s hot skin. “Perfect,” he whispers, groaning as he comes, spilling his seed deep within Merlin. He thrusts once, twice, then has to pull out, balls empty and cock over sensitised.

He slips down lower, tongue lapping at the droplet of come on Merlin’s belly, sucking and kissing at the skin above the thatch of dark pubic hair. Then he kisses Merlin.

Merlin moans, eyes fluttering shut as he tastes the bitterness of his own spend. He gulps it down, licking at Arthur’s tongue and cheek as if desperate for more.

It seems to take a lot of effort, but Arthur moves away Merlin, laying on his uninjured side, eyelids fluttering closed as tiredness consumes him.  

Merlin shuffles closer, covering their cooling bodies with the furs. He tucks his arm under his head, looking at Arthur with an equally exhausted expression.

It’s along the fraying edges of sleep and wakefulness that Merlin feels Arthur touching him. Fingers carding through his hair, trailing along his cheekbones and brushing against his lips, barely dipping into the bow.

Merlin opens his eyes, a sleepy “mhn?” on his lips.

“A man cannot court another man, let alone a slave,” Arthur says, far too awake for a man who is both injured and sex sated.  “He cannot offer a fellow man the same promises and oaths he offers his wife. That will change, when I am king,” he promises, almost obscene with his sincerity. “When I am king, you will be a free man, but you will still be mine.”

The words settle in Merlin’s chest, make themselves at home there. He doesn’t know what to say, how to voice the fact that he will follow Arthur to the end of the world and beyond. Merlin can only nod his assent, curling his body closer to Arthur, so that they may sleep as close to each other as possible.


The End.