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Finding the Truth

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If you asked King Arthur Pendragon why he had thought that his half-sister’s maidservant, Guinevere, was the omega for him, he wouldn’t be able to answer you properly. All he’d be able to say was that he suddenly starting feeling some sort of niggling and pulling sensation, and that more often than not the sensation occurred while he was around Gwen. If you asked him when, though, he’d be able to tell you instantly- it was when Merlin had arrived in Camelot.

Arthur had always known that Gwen was an omega. He was an alpha, after all, and alphas could always sniff out an omega. Not only that, but Morgana was an alpha too, and she had caught Gwen’s scent when they had first met and relayed it to Arthur. When he thought back on it, Morgana had been far too happy and insistent on pointing out this fact to Arthur for it to be a coincidence. She must’ve had some sort of hope that Gwen would be the one for Arthur. Arthur had had no idea why- Arthur could not marry a servant while he was still merely the Crown Prince, and at first there had been no connection to Gwen, anyway.

“Why don’t you mate with her yourself?” Arthur had asked Morgana, annoyed.

Morgana had shrugged her shoulders. “She’s not the one,” she’d said simply. When Arthur had questioned her about how she knew that, Morgana had had no answer.

“I just know,” was all she’d said.

Arthur had asked his father, when he was only fourteen years old and was very clearly an alpha, how he would know when he’d found the omega that was meant to be his. “You just feel it,” Uther had said. “Deep within you, you just… you just know. It’s impossible to describe it, my son. When the time comes, you will know.”

So, when he’d begun to feel that tugging sensation around Gwen, Arthur had naturally assumed she was the one. It was Gwen he was meant to be with. And after Uther’s death, Arthur had begun courting her properly. When Lancelot returned to Camelot, though, intending to ask Arthur to join the Knights of Camelot under him, everything had changed.

Lancelot had walked into the room where Arthur, Gwen and Gaius were talking- with Merlin lurking close by- and Gwen’s head had snapped up instantly. Until then, none of them had realised that they had a visitor- or who it was. And the way they were looking at each other… Arthur knew. He knew he had been wrong all along. He wasn’t the alpha that Gwen was meant to be with. Lancelot was. When Gwen had instinctually gravitated towards Lancelot, Arthur hadn’t tried to stop her. He’d just let her go, before walking out of the room with a worried Merlin watching after him. He should have known. He should’ve seen the signs, when he first saw the pair interact all those years ago. But he hadn’t, and now he had to deal with the consequences.

That was why Arthur and Merlin found themselves on an impromptu hunting trip. Arthur couldn’t stand being in the castle with Gwen and Lancelot another moment, and their many sincere apologies and feelings of guilt were making things worse. So he had to get away. Merlin had complained, of course, but he was the King’s manservant- if Arthur ordered him to go somewhere, he had to go. And while Merlin may have been protesting, Arthur had a sense that Merlin knew why Arthur wanted to get away. He may have been a beta and was therefore clueless about how an alpha/omega relationship worked, he knew Arthur. So Merlin kept up his inane chatter while he followed Arthur out of the city and into the woods, this time complaining about why they had to kill perfectly innocent animals for sport.

They were out in the woods for hours, getting as far away from Camelot as possible while still being close enough to get back before nightfall. Merlin had a pained look on his face, as if he felt rather uncomfortable. “Is your little bottom sore, Merlin?” Arthur joked.

“No,” Merlin hissed, and Arthur could hear the obvious distress in his manservant’s voice.

“Merlin? Are you okay?” Arthur asked, genuinely concerned now.

“No,” Merlin said again, barely able to choke the word out. “Arthur, I… I need to stop.”

Knowing that something was very, very wrong with Merlin, Arthur pulled up the horses instantly. Merlin immediately slid off his horse, doubling over in pain. “Merlin, talk to me,” Arthur insisted. “Are you hurt? Are you sick?”

Merlin shook his head. “This shouldn’t be happening,” he muttered. “It’s too early, it’s too early, I shouldn’t be-” Merlin cut himself off, groaning in absolute anguish.

“Merlin!” Arthur cried, rushing to the man’s side. Merlin was still doubled over, pressing his arms to his stomach, and Arthur couldn’t see his face. “Merlin, look at me!”

Merlin finally looked up at Arthur, and he looked… well, he looked wild. He was covered in sweat, his hair sticking to his face, he was breathing heavily, and his eyes were darting everywhere. “What’s wrong with you?” Arthur asked again, feeling very confused on top of his worry. As Arthur spoke, Merlin’s eyes locked onto his. Suddenly, unbidden, a burning began to fill Arthur, starting in his groin and spreading through his entire body. A want, a need, a yearning, to have Merlin, to mate with him, to make him his own. Arthur could feel that instinct getting stronger and stronger, threatening to take him over. But it didn’t make sense. Arthur may have been an alpha, but Merlin was merely a beta, just a regular person. Wasn’t he?

“Merlin,” Arthur hissed out, not trusting himself to be able to say anything else. He was fighting, fighting, fighting against himself, trying to squash the burning instinct and desire within him. This was Merlin, for crying out loud!

“Merlin, you aren’t- are you-?” Arthur choked out. It was all he could say. All his energy was going into fighting what his body was urging him to do.

“I’m so sorry, Arthur,” Merlin breathed. “I can’t- I need to get away from you, Arthur- until I stop-” Merlin took a great, shuddering breath. “I’m in heat, Arthur. I’m in heat, and it’s so strong, and I just-” Suddenly, unbidden, a great burst of wind came from Merlin, nearly knocking Arthur to the ground.

“What was that?” he gasped, momentarily distracted from what he was feeling.

“When I go into heat, if I don’t… mate, I guess, I can’t control my magic,” Merlin explained. “Taking matters into my own hands doesn’t help. So Gaius makes these draughts and herbs for me, to stop me from going into heat, but-” Merlin was cut off as more magic burst out of him, this time actually knocking Arthur flat onto his back. “I guess it’s too late now.” Looking up at Merlin, Arthur could see that the man was fighting hard against himself- and losing. “I- I don’t think I can control myself much longer.”

“Your magic, or your instincts?” Arthur asked automatically.

“Both,” said Merlin, panting. “God, Arthur…” Merlin practically moaned Arthur’s name, causing Arthur’s already hard cock to twitch. Before either of them could do anything else, though, more magic burst out of Merlin. Except this time it was different. This time it was like ribbons, like ropes, reaching out for Arthur. Merlin’s entire body was singing, mine, mine, mine. Must have him, must let him have me, alpha, my alpha… and when the magic touched Arthur, he reacted in kind, getting up from the ground and crossing over to Merlin.

“You’re mine,” he hissed in the omega’s ear, the words leaping into his mouth before he could even think them. But he knew it was true. As soon as Merlin’s magic had touched him, Arthur had realised something. It had been Merlin all along. It was Merlin who was meant to be his, not Guinevere or anyone else.

“Are… are you sure?” said Merlin.

“Merlin, shut up.” Arthur pressed his lips to the tiny sliver of his manservant’s neck that he could see, causing him to shudder as waves of desire flowed through him. “Stop fighting,” Arthur whispered. “Stop fighting your instincts, Merlin. Give yourself to them. Give yourself to me.”

Arthur prised Merlin’s arms from his stomach, turning the man around and kissing him full on the mouth. Merlin didn’t even hesitate; as soon as Arthur’s lips met his own he couldn’t think anymore. His lips moved against Arthur’s in a perfect rhythm, as if they were made for each other- which, Merlin would’ve realised if he could form a coherent thought, was actually true. All he could think about was Arthur, that Arthur was his Alpha, and if he had realised he would’ve stopped taking his draughts ages ago. The pleasure that filled him was amazing and intense, and they were both still fully dressed.

Arthur seemed to have the same thought. “Take your fucking clothes off,” he growled. Merlin had never heard him sound like that before- forgetting about propriety and being the Once and Future King and instead giving himself completely to his instincts.

“Take yours off,” Merlin countered. God damn it, if Arthur was going to lose control of himself, so was Merlin. “I’d do it with magic, but I’ll end up making something explode.”

God, Merlin…” Arthur practically tore Merlin’s clothes off of him, all but assuring that Merlin would need new ones in the near future. At the same time that Merlin did the same to him, not even caring that he’d probably be the one to repair Arthur’s clothes. Then naked skin met naked skin, and oh, both men felt like they were on fire as they touched each other. Their hands ran all over each other and their lips met again and again and again, and all they wanted was more. Arthur pulled Merlin down onto the ground, and Merlin could feel himself getting wetter and wetter, as his body prepared itself for Arthur.

“Arthur… Arthur, I need you…” Merlin moaned. Understanding instantly, Arthur turned Merlin into the best position before sucking and biting at his neck, leaving his mark. Arthur didn’t bother preparing Merlin; he knew Merlin’s body would be automatically doing that for him.

“Tell me what you want,” Arthur whispered in Merlin’s ear, his voice husky with lust. His hands raked down Merlin’s sides, stopping just above Merlin’s ass. “I need to know what you want.”

Merlin gripped Arthur’s hands, holding his king in place. “I want you, Arthur… god, I want you in me. I want you so bad it hurts, and I need- oh!”

Before Merlin could finish speaking, Arthur was inside him, and his knot fitted oh so perfectly. It was like he and Merlin were made for each other- which in fact, they were.

The next several minutes were a blur of limbs and movement and waves upon waves of pleasure. Eventually Merlin came with a loud cry, Arthur following him over the edge not long after. Both of them lay nearly motionless on the ground for a long while afterwards, breathing heavily. Arthur was the first one to move, pulling Merlin into his arms and pushing the man’s dark, damp hair out of his eyes. He was still inside Merlin, his knot locking him in place. “Hey,” he said softly when Merlin looked at him. “Can you believe we just did that?”

“No,” Merlin admitted. “All this time… I never thought it would be you. I always thought it would be a woman.” Merlin sighed, leaning his head against Arthur’s chest. “Honestly, there was a time when I thought it was Morgana.”

“You did?” Arthur gasped. “You thought your mate was my sister?”

“Arthur, she was the only female alpha I know,” Merlin pointed out. “It was when I found out she had magic, like me… so I didn’t take my draughts one month, but it wasn’t her. So I took these emergency herbs, and I was fine. Besides, I was close, wasn’t I? I just had the wrong Pendragon.”

“Well, I’m glad you’ve found the right one now,” said Arthur, stroking Merlin’s face gently. “Goodness, Merlin… I never thought it would be you, but you’re beautiful. You’re absolutely perfect.” Leaning forward, Arthur kissed Merlin again. It started off a long and tender kiss, but it wasn’t long before the kiss and those that followed gained speed, aggression and desire once more. Arthur could feel himself going hard again inside Merlin, and he could tell the other man’s body was getting ready again too. “Ready for round two?” Arthur said in a low voice.

“Of course,” was Merlin’s reply.

The two of them had sex several times over the next several hours. By the end both men were very satisfied and very exhausted, never having experienced anything like that before. Arthur felt like he had been in a marathon battle or a swordfight.

“I could really use a goodnight’s sleep after that, Merlin,” Arthur sighed, pulling himself out of his manservant. He had a smile on his face as he spoke; he didn’t think he’d ever felt happier in his life. Finally, after all the years of searching, after the heartbreak that was Guinevere… Arthur had finally found his mate.

“Mmm,” was all Merlin said in response. “We should probably get back to Camelot, though. People will be wondering where we are.”

“Of course,” said Arthur. He looked over to where their torn clothes had been scattered. “Thank goodness one of us thought to bring a change of clothes. I don’t think we’ll be wearing these ones any time soon.”

“As long as I don’t have to repair them,” Merlin muttered.

“You won’t, Merlin,” Arthur promised. “Don’t worry.”

Arthur sighed, pulling himself to his feet before walking over to where their belongings had dropped after they stopped. Merlin watched him move, a smile on his face and a strange feeling in his heart. It wasn’t an unpleasant feeling; Merlin quite liked it, actually. It was almost like a tugging, like a rope or a wire- something that bound him to Arthur, something that told him where he was and what he was feeling.

Arthur turned around once he’d located their clothes and gotten himself dressed (wondering the entire time why on earth their horses hadn’t run away) to see Merlin looking at him. “You feel it too?” he said. “That pulling?”

Merlin nodded. “What is it?” he asked. “I realise I should probably know this, it’s just that mother didn’t explain very much to me and Gaius didn’t do a whole lot besides making those draughts-”

“Merlin, it’s alright,” said Arthur, interrupting the omega’s ramblings. “My father, and Morgana as well even though I didn’t really want to listen to her talk about this, told me about this bond that forms between an alpha and their omega when they mate for the first time. That’s what that pulling feeling is. It ties us together. Lets both of us know where the other one us, and whether they’re all right… or not. It’s also what will tell me when you go into heat next time.”

“So you mean I’m tied to you for the rest of my life?” said Merlin, sounding annoyed.

“Hey! You could have worse,” Arthur pointed out. “In fact, you are incredibly lucky that your mate is the King of Camelot, Merlin.”

“I was kidding, you clotpole!” said Merlin, laughing. “I know I could do a lot worse. There is no better man than you, Arthur. I’ve always thought that, you know I have.”

“I know.” Arthur crossed back over to Merlin, handing him the bundle of clothes in his arms. “Here. Get dressed. We’ve got to get back to Camelot before people start wondering where we are and ask us too many questions when we return.”

“Do you not want them to know about us?” Merlin asked, looking away from Arthur and feeling hurt. Was Arthur ashamed of Merlin, somehow? Did he not want people to know that his mate was his manservant, and not some beautiful princess?

Merlin, of course not!” said Arthur, taking Merlin’s chin in one hand and forcing his head upwards so he was looking Arthur in the eye. “I want nothing more right now than to tell the world that I’ve finally found my mate. But I want to tell them in our way, and in our own time. Okay?” Arthur waited until he was certain that Merlin had seen the conviction and sincerity in his eyes before continuing. “And besides, I don’t really think that people will be that surprised that my mate is you, Merlin. We already spend all of our time together. Even if it doesn’t reach my ears, I’m sure there is already talk about the extent of our relationship. For the record, Merlin, I could never be ashamed of you, even if you are an idiot.”

“Hey!” Merlin exclaimed, but he was smiling now.

Arthur smiled back at him. “Get dressed,” he said. “I’d help you, but I don’t think I’d be able to keep my hands off you.”

“You’re insatiable,” said Merlin, beginning to dress. While Arthur didn’t help him, he did watch, unable to keep his eyes off the man. He was unashamed as he watched his mate- as he watched Merlin. Part of him was still struggling with associating his thoughts of his mate with how he saw Merlin, but part of him knew it made perfect sense. He had become a different person when Merlin had come into his life, as much as he’d been loathe to admit it. He would not be the person he was now if he’d never met the warlock. Arthur needed Merlin, and if he had’ve known that Merlin was really an omega and was just hiding his true nature… well, maybe he would’ve considered the possibility that Merlin was his other half a lot sooner.

Finally, Merlin was dressed and ready to head back to Camelot. He was half on the ground still, kneeling down and breathing deeply. This certainly hadn’t been how he expected his day to go. He hadn’t expected to go into heat, and he hadn’t expected to find his alpha in King Arthur Pendragon. More to the point, he sure hadn’t expected to be so happy about it. Sure, he’d already dedicated his life to serving Arthur, but being bonded to the man for the rest of his life? Having the uncontrollable urge and need to have many rounds of sex with the man every time he went into heat? That wasn’t what Merlin had had in mind for his future.

Arthur is right, though, Merlin thought to himself. I could do far, far worse. There is no better man in the world than Arthur Pendragon. Even if Arthur hadn’t been Merlin’s mate, the warlock knew in his heart that this was true.

“Shall we leave, then?” said Arthur, holding out a hand to Merlin. Merlin took it gratefully, using Arthur’s considerable strength to pull himself to his feet.

“Pretty sure that’s the first time you’ve ever helped me to my feet,” Merlin commented. “Most of the time you just call me lazy.”

“After today, I don’t think I can call you ‘lazy’ ever again, Merlin,” Arthur replied.

“I’m not going to forget that,” Merlin vowed. He looked like he was going to say something else, but instead of speaking, Merlin swayed precariously on his feet.

“Merlin?” said Arthur, suddenly worried. “Merlin, are you okay?”

Merlin did not reply. Instead he blinked rapidly, clearly fighting against some feeling, before his eyes rolled back in his head and he slumped towards the forest floor. Luckily, Arthur had fast reflexes, and managed to catch Merlin before he hit the ground.

“Merlin!” the king cried. “Merlin!” He shook his mate, but Merlin did not stir. “Shit, Merlin…” Arthur had no idea what to do. One minute, Merlin had been fine, and the next he had passed out. Arthur had never been so panicked and so scared. Well, okay, he had- but all of those times were when Merlin was in danger. Guess now I know why that was, Arthur thought wryly.

Arthur knew he had only one option. To ensure Merlin would be okay, he had to get him back to Gaius. Only the court physician would be able to make sure that nothing was wrong with the warlock. Moving quickly, Arthur bound Merlin to his horse so he wouldn’t fall off, before climbing onto his own. They then began the long ride back to the castle, Arthur praying that whatever was wrong with Merlin wasn’t too serious, and that he’d get Merlin back to Gaius in time. Arthur had only just found his mate. He wasn’t about to lose him now.

 

Arthur raced back to Camelot as fast as he could get the horses to go. He made sure the horse carrying Merlin went ahead of him, so he could keep and eye on it and ensure that Merlin didn’t fall off. As soon as they arrived back in Camelot, Arthur headed the horses over to the first stableman he could find and found a servant to put his things away, before carrying Merlin in his arms to Gaius’s rooms.

“Gaius!” Arthur called out when he arrived. “Are you in here? Gaius!”

“Yes, I’m here, my lord,” said Gaius. Arthur entered the room, to find Gaius sitting at a table, reading. Gaius looked up, pushing his seat backwards and leaping up when he saw his unconscious ward. “Merlin!” he cried. “What happened?”

“I don’t know, he- he passed out, Gaius…” said Arthur, unable to keep the panic out of his voice. “I tried to wake him up, but I- Gaius, is he okay?”

Gaius didn’t answer; instead he ushered Arthur over to the bed, making sure he put Merlin down gently before turning to look at the king.

“What happened?” he asked.

“I- I-” Arthur stammered. He didn’t know what to say, or how to say it. He had been serious when he’d told Merlin that he was not ashamed of him, but he still had no idea how to describe what had happened between them. Finally, Arthur said, “He went into heat, Gaius.”

What?” Gaius gasped, looking down at Merlin before looking back at Arthur. “But he didn’t have his draughts with him!”

“I know. Gaius, I… we…” Arthur swallowed. He could do this. It was Gaius, after all. It wasn’t like he was talking to, say, Gwaine. “It’s him, Gaius. He was trying to fight against himself, but his magic reached out to me, and, well, we both knew. It’s Merlin. It’s always been Merlin.” Arthur crouched down then, gently brushing a clump of hair damp with sweat out of Merlin’s face before looking back at Gaius.

The physician had a look on his face that conveyed both shock and understanding, as his gaze drifted between the king and the warlock. “You mated with Merlin, didn’t you?”

Arthur nodded. “He was fine afterwards,” he said. “But when we were about to leave to come back here, he collapsed.” Arthur sighed before rising to his feet again. “Will he be okay?” Arthur sounded almost frantic as he questioned Gaius. Gaius could only remember Arthur sounding this scared once before, and that was when Merlin had risked his life for Arthur and had very nearly died.

“He should be,” said Gaius, and the uncertain answer nearly caused Arthur to yell out in frustration. “My lord, you’re going to be no help here, and your panicking is only going to be a distraction. Go back to your chambers. I’ll come and get you later.”

“I don’t want to leave him,” said Arthur instantly. And he didn’t- their mating was still so new, with their bond and all the emotions that came with it still so raw and unexplored, that Arthur didn’t think it would even be possible for him to leave Merlin’s side right now. The thought almost hurt.

“I know you don’t, Arthur,” said Gaius. “But it will be better for both of you if you do. And besides, the bond that has formed between you and Merlin will tell you if something’s wrong.”

Arthur sighed. He knew that Gaius was right, but it still didn’t mean he wanted to leave. “Fine,” he said. “But you tell me immediately when you have news.”

“Of course, my lord,” Gaius promised.

With one last long look at Merlin, who did not stir even under Arthur’s pleading stare, the king turned and swept from the room. He headed straight for his changes, not even looking at anyone as he walked past them. A few people looked like they wanted to talk to him, but one glance at their king’s face told them that that was a bad idea. Arthur eventually reached his chambers uninterrupted, and as he entered he slammed the door shut behind him, emotion threatening to overwhelm him. This had definitely been a very, very long day.

 

When a soft, tentative knock sounded at Arthur’s door, he planned on ignoring it. He was most definitely not in the mood for politics or some sort of disaster right now; his mind was still on Merlin, and every instinct in his body was pulling at him, telling him to go to the omega. To go to his omega. Arthur could still scarcely believe it; he’d finally found his omega, and it was Merlin. It made sense, he supposed. He had always felt some sort of connection to Merlin, one that he hadn’t been able to explain. Well, he could certainly explain it now.

“Sire?” said a steady yet worried voice from right outside Arthur’s door. “May I come in?”

Gaius, Arthur realised. There would be only one reason the physician would be at Arthur’s chambers now. “You may,” Arthur finally replied.

The door opened and Gaius entered, looking as serious as always. Gaius watched Arthur closely, the younger man looking every bit the weary king as he sat at his writing desk.

Arthur was the first one to break the silence. “Is Merlin okay?” he asked. Concern was radiating off of him in waves, so strong that Arthur wouldn’t be surprised if Gaius could feel it. “I didn’t… I didn’t hurt him, did I?” Arthur couldn’t bare the thought.

“No, you didn’t hurt him, sire,” Gaius assured him. “Merlin… because of his draughts and his herbs, he hasn’t been in heat in over a decade. And after it finally happened, especially since it was with the alpha that he was meant for, it took a lot of energy out of him- more than his body was ready for. He just needs rest. A lot of rest.”

“So he’ll be fine? I didn’t hurt him?” Arthur said.

Gaius chuckled. “I doubt you could hurt him like that, Arthur. Your bodies were made for each other’s. I’d say it would be next to impossible.”

Arthur didn’t know what to say to that; instead he rose from his chair, crossing the room to stand beside his bed. He sighed heavily, resting a hand on the bedpost. “It’s been a rough couple of days, and I don’t just mean that literally,” Arthur said. “At first I thought we wanted to just because I am an alpha and he is an omega, and he hadn’t been in heat in so long. But then his magic reached out to me, and every part of me was screaming that he’s mine, and we just… it’s him, Gaius. It’s really him.”

“You were beginning to give up hope that you would ever find him, weren’t you, sire?” Gaius realised.

Arthur nodded, not looking at the older man. “Especially after Guinevere, I… and there was always something about Merlin, I could just never put my finger on it. But why on earth did he not take his draughts before we left?”

“He’s supposed to take them before he would otherwise go into heat,” Gaius explained. But that wasn’t supposed to be for another two months.”

“He went into heat two months early?” Arthur gasped, nonplussed. “But why?”

“I can only guess. But it could have something to do with the fact that he was alone in the forest with you. Being in such close proximity to you, and without any threat looming over your heads, could’ve led Merlin’s body to push itself into heat so he could mate with you without him realising what was happening.”

Arthur nodded. “Are you sure all he needs is rest?”

Gaius chuckled. “I’m sure, sire. I am the Court Physician, after all.”

“Of course,” said Arthur. “When he is well enough, I want him to come here, to me. And make sure he brings all of his belongings, too.”

“Sire?”

“He’s staying here with me from now on, Gaius. No arguments.” Arthur couldn’t explain it, but now that he’d found his omega, and that they’d bonded, he felt an incredible, insatiable to be near him. And he could feel Merlin’s pain; the warlock was tired and sore and completely drained of energy, but Gaius was right about his condition. He was going to be okay.

“Are you sure you don’t want to see him now?” Gaius asked.

“I want to, believe me, Gaius,” Arthur admitted. “Every instinct I have is screaming at me to go to his side right now. But if I go to him, I won’t be able to leave.”

“Very well. I’ll send him to you when he wakes.”

 

Arthur knew that being apart from Merlin after they had bonded would be difficult, but he didn’t anticipate it being this difficult. He also didn’t count on Merlin being asleep for two days. He could feel that constant pulling, pulling, pulling, telling him to go to Merlin, that his omega needed him. And as much as Arthur wanted to go to him, he needed to stay away and keep his mind on other things: he was king, after all, and he still had a kingdom to run. He’d told everyone that Merlin had merely fallen ill while they were away, and luckily they had believed him. He’d had another manservant tend to him in Merlin’s absence.

Besides Gaius, Arthur had not told anyone what had happened between he and Merlin. He knew it would come out eventually; how could it not? He was the King of Camelot, and finding his true mate would be a cause for celebration, no matter who that person was. And from what Arthur knew, his and Merlin’s behaviour would change now; he would become very possessive and protective over Merlin, and the warlock himself would find it very difficult to leave Arthur’s side. Those feelings would be very strong at first and very difficult to control, but eventually they would fade. They would, however, always be there.

Arthur was out on the training field when he felt it. One minute he was knocking Gwaine to the ground, and the next minute he could feel something pulling at him, telling Arthur to go, go, go to his side. Then he realised what it was: Merlin was awake.

“Leon, finish the training session for me,” Arthur said, storing his sword and pulling off his armour, handing off to the servant waiting there.

“Is everything alright, sire?” Leon asked, concerned.

“Yes, everything’s fine,” Arthur said, sincerely and briskly. “Something’s just come up, and I need to go.” Before any of the knights could say anything else, Arthur turned around and trotted away.

Arthur didn’t have to go looking for Merlin, as his instincts and his body were telling him exactly where he was. He was still in Gaius’s chambers, clearly having just woken up. Arthur headed straight there, not bothering to knock before he pushed open the door and walked in.

Merlin looked up instantly upon the sound of the door opening. “Arthur!” he cried happily, his face breaking into a bright smile.

Gaius, who was standing beside Merlin’s bed, bowed his head to the king. “I’ll leave you two alone,” he said, before leaving the room. “Good to see you awake,” said Arthur, crossing the room and dropping into the chair beside Merlin’s bed. “How’re you feeling?”

“Still tired,” Merlin admitted. “And sore. But good. Really, really good.” He sighed, looking at Arthur. “You have no idea how glad I am that I don’t have to take those potions anymore. Suppressing who I am… it wasn’t easy.”

“I’ll bet,” said Arthur. Merlin shifted closer to the other side of the bed, and Arthur took the cue to sit on the bed next to him. “But you don’t need to take them anymore. Because you’re mine now, and I’m not letting you go.”

Merlin laughed. “I never pegged you as the possessive type,” he said.

“Neither did I,” Arthur admitted. “But I was told that it is to be expected. Not to mention you’ll be following me around like a lovesick puppy.”

Merlin groaned. “Seriously?”

“Afraid so,” Arthur chuckled. “You’ll be able to control it eventually. Except when you’re about to go into heat, of course.”

Merlin smiled. “Hopefully I won’t go into heat early next time,” he said. “If it happens when it normally does, at least we can plan for it. Leave Morgana in charge while you are otherwise… indisposed.” Merlin leant his head against Arthur’s side, closing his eyes and humming in contentment. “Mmm. Can we just never move from this spot?”

“I would love that,” said Arthur. “But I have a better idea.” Arthur got to his feet. “Get all your stuff.”

“Why?” Merlin asked, confused.

“You’re moving into my chambers with me,” Arthur declared. “I want you there, with me, at all times.”

“Seriously?” Merlin gasped. “Aren’t you… aren’t you worried that people will, you know, find out? That you finally bonded with your omega, who just so happens to be your manservant?”

“They’re going to find out eventually,” said Arthur. “And I want them to know, Merlin. I want them to know that I’ve finally found you.”

Merlin smiled. “Very well. You’re lucky I don’t have very many possessions.”

“We’re going to have to change that,” said Arthur. “Especially once people find out we’re bonded. I mean, you’re going to be the king’s consort, Merlin. People are going to expect you to be a lot more… refined, once they know.”

“Is that your way of asking me to be your consort?” said Merlin, raising one eyebrow.

With horror, Arthur realised that he’d never actually asked Merlin to move into his chambers, or if he could begin properly courting him. For one, heart-stopping moment, Arthur thought that maybe Merlin would refuse, and say that he didn’t want to be Arthur’s consort or that he needed more time to think it over, but then Merlin smiled. “You don’t need to ask me, Arthur,” he said softly. “You know it’s yes.”

“Good,” said Arthur. “Because now that I have you, I’m not letting you go again.”

“Is this more of that new-found possessiveness you told me about?” Merlin asked.

“Yes, and no,” said Arthur. “I’ve never felt this possessive over anyone or anything before in my life. But at the same time, I’ve always felt kind of possessive over you. Just not… well, this intense.”

Merlin smiled. “Good. And this may be me acting like a ‘lovesick puppy’ as you put it, but I’m glad you don’t want to let me go. Because I don’t want to leave your side.”

“You won’t have to, Merlin,” Arthur promised. He stepped back, holding out his hand to the warlock. “Come on. Do you reckon you have enough energy to get to my chambers?”

Merlin took Arthur’s hand gratefully, using it as support to get out of bed. “I think so,” he said once he was on his feet. Even so Arthur helped Merlin out of his room, to where Gaius was waiting. “I don’t think I’m going to be able to do much more than that, though,” Merlin admitted.

“I can bring Merlin’s belongings over later, sire,” Gaius promised.

“Thank you, Gaius,” said Arthur, helping Merlin out of the room.

Merlin and Arthur walked next to each other on the way to Arthur’s (Arthur and Merlin’s, now) chambers, as close as they could get without touching. They wanted to be near each other, but they weren’t ready for anybody to know what they now were to each other.

Eventually they reached Arthur’s chambers, and as soon as they were inside and the doors had closed behind them Arthur had Merlin in his arms again, holding him tight against his chest. Merlin relaxed into Arthur’s touch, leaning all his weight against him.

“You still tired?” Arthur asked.

Merlin nodded against his chest. “Mm hmm.”

“You want to go back to sleep?” he asked, stroking Merlin’s hair. Arthur had never, ever been this gentle with anyone- especially Merlin. But all he wanted to do right then was protect his mate- and this moment was definitely not one for their usual banter.

Merlin seemed to realise this too, as he shook his head against Arthur’s chest. “Not yet,” he whispered. “I’ve been asleep for so long… can we just lie down? I want to look at you.”

Arthur chuckled. "Look at you, being all sappy,” he said, but he pulled away from Merlin, taking the man’s hand and leading him towards the bed- their bed now. “I always knew you were a girl.” Okay. Maybe there would be a little banter.

“Ha, ha,” said Merlin sarcastically. Arthur let him lie down on the bed, before climbing onto the bed himself, close enough to be able to touch Merlin but far enough away that the two men could look at each other properly. And oh, what a sight Merlin was. He was clearly still tired and his eyes were half shut, but that only served to make him look even better in Arthur’s eyes. His hair was still incredibly messy, both from what he and Arthur had done and from sleep.

“Have you bathed yet?” Arthur asked. Merlin shook his head. “I’ll have another servant get a bath prepared for us later.”

“Won’t they see me in your bed?” said Merlin, confused.

“I’ll draw the curtains around the bed so no one can see you,” Arthur promised. “But you really need to bathe, Merlin. And I could probably use one, too.”

“Wait, both of us?” said Merlin.

“Oh, so you’ve finally picked up on that, have you?” Arthur laughed.

“Give me a break, I’ve been asleep for two days,” Merlin said, pouting. As he stuck out his lower lip Arthur laughed again, biting at it and holding it between his teeth.

“You’re beautiful,” Arthur growled. “And you’re mine. My omega. My sweet, little omega.”

“Hey! I’m neither sweet nor little, I’ll have you know,” Merlin protested. “But I am yours. All yours. Always, always, always.”

“Good,” Arthur ran his teeth along Merlin’s neck, stopping right at the point where he knew Merlin’s pulse was throbbing beneath his skin. He looked into Merlin’s blue eyes, and Merlin stared back at him. Taking that as a sign, Arthur pressed his lips to Merlin’s skin before biting down hard. Merlin cried out and his back arched up off the bed but otherwise he stayed still, clinging to Arthur as if to hold him in place.

“Arthur…” Merlin managed to get out, Arthur’s teeth sinking deeper into his skin, right where he had bitten Merlin while they were mating in the forest. Except this time, Arthur was certain that his mark would remain, that anyone who saw Merlin’s skin would know instantly that he belonged to Arthur and Arthur alone.

“Want to do it again, right here, right now,” Arthur murmured against Merlin’s neck. “But I know you’re too tired.”

“Wait until tomorrow,” Merlin promised Arthur. “Then I will really blow your mind.”

Arthur smirked, pressing his lips to the mark on Merlin’s neck. “Never thought I’d hear this type of talk from you, Merlin.”

“Honestly, neither did I,” Merlin admitted.

“Never thought you had it in you?”

“Never thought I’d get the chance,” Merlin clarified. “Remember, I only went into heat because of chance, Arthur.”

“And thank the gods for that,” said Arthur. “I don’t know what I would’ve done if I’d never found you. A king without his mate isn’t a very good one.” Arthur sighed, pulling Merlin closer to his chest. “Now you, rest. You’re no good to anyone exhausted, and the knights have been asking where you were. I didn’t know what you wanted me to say, so I just said you got sick while we were away.”

“Good,” said Merlin. “This is still too… new, I guess, to tell people about it. I mean, I know people will have to know about this eventually, given you’re the king, but for now can we just live in our own little world?”

Arthur chuckled. “Of course, Merlin. I wouldn’t mind that for a while, either.”

 

It was over a week before Merlin returned to his duties. This wasn’t actually Merlin’s choice, though; Arthur had refused to let him work until he was sure Merlin was fully rested. Of course, Arthur hadn’t let this stop him from having sex with Merlin, and Merlin wasn’t complaining. He would never complain about that. He was Arthur’s omega, and his instincts and his body drove him to satisfy Arthur, to let the king have his way with him.

Merlin thought, though, that even if his instincts didn’t drive him into becoming a writhing mess under Arthur, he would’ve done it anyway. He would’ve wanted it anyway. Now that he and Arthur were linked together in the most permanent way possible, Merlin was able to admit to himself that he’d had feelings for Arthur all along. When Morgana had told him that she thought that Gwen would be Arthur’s mate, Merlin had tried to quash those feelings. But now… now Merlin would never have to do that again.

Merlin was wandering the training grounds alone, Arthur ensconced in a council meeting with his advisors, including Gaius, Leon and Morgana. He came across Gwaine (who did occasionally attend council meetings as Morgana’s mate but wasn’t there today), who was practicing on a training dummy.

“Gwaine!” Merlin called out, trotting over to him. Gwaine instantly stopped and looked up, his face cracking into a wide smile when he saw his friend. “Merlin!” he cried, dropping his sword and pulling Merlin into a hug. “How are you feeling?”

“A lot better, thank you,” said Merlin with a smile. “Just needed a lot of rest. Arthur wouldn’t let me return to work, anyway. I think he felt… responsible for my condition after being the one to make me go into the forest in the first place.” Merlin shifted from foot to foot, slightly uncomfortable. “Gwaine, I had a, uh, question I wanted to ask you.”

Gwaine studied Merlin curiously. “Fire away,” he said.

“What was it like, when you discovered that Morgana was your alpha?” Gwaine just stared at Merlin; that was definitely not the question he had been expecting. “You don’t have to answer me if you don’t want to,” Merlin added quickly. “I’m just… curious, I guess.”

“It’s okay, Merlin,” said Gwaine. “It was… indescribable. The greatest feeling in the world. When you find that person who is meant to be your other half, it’s like you're complete. Whole. I’ve never felt more right than when I went into heat and Morgana was there. She is… she is everything to me. I’d do anything for her, and she for me. And the sex…”

“Okay, okay, too far!” said Merlin, holding up his hand. “How do feel knowing that you are a man who can get pregnant by a woman?”

Gwaine shrugged. “I’m alright with it. I’ve spent my entire life knowing that I’d get pregnant one day, and I knew there was a very real possibility that my alpha would be a woman. I mean, I wouldn’t be able to train, but I kinda can’t wait for it to happen. Why?” Gwaine went back to studying Merlin. “It’s not like you to ask a question like this.”

“I…” Merlin didn’t know what to say. He’d kept his omega status hidden nearly his whole life. He had no idea how to go about telling people now, especially those he cared about.

Luckily for him, he didn’t have to worry about telling Gwaine. The man’s eyes grew wide as he stared at Merlin, a realisation hitting him. “Oh my god,” he said. “You’re an omega, aren’t you? I can smell it on you.”

Merlin nodded. “I had to keep it hidden. I had to take draughts to stop me from going into heat, because if I go into heat and don’t mate, I can’t control my magic.”

“Then why aren’t you hiding it now?” Gwaine asked.

“When I was in the forest, I… I went into heat early,” Merlin answered. “I, well… I mated. With Arthur.”

“You mated with Arthur?” Gwaine repeated. “Is he your-”

“Yeah,” said Merlin. “Arthur is to me as Morgana is to you.”

“Wow, Merlin… I certainly didn’t see this coming,” Gwaine admitted.

“Neither did I. Neither did Arthur,” said Merlin. “I’m glad it happened, though. I can stop hiding. I can stop pretending to be something I’m not.”

“Like when we found out you have magic?” said Gwaine jokingly.

“Hey! That was different!” said Merlin. “You guys all just assume I’m beta. You never actually asked me.”

“Good point,” said Gwaine. “Does… does anybody else know? About you and the princess?”

“Just Gaius,” said Merlin. “We kind of wanted to keep it to ourselves for a while. Just be Merlin and Arthur without the whole of Camelot watching.”

“Wish I’d thought of that,” said Gwaine. “I still get jealous looks and snide comments from all the noblemen and some of the knights ’cause I’m shacking up with Morgana.”

“Come on, Gwaine, you love it,” said Merlin, waiting until Gwaine broke out into a grin. “I’m not looking forward to that, though, when everyone finds out about me and Arthur. I’m going to be the King’s Consort, for crying out loud! I’ll never have another moment’s peace! And it’s not really something that you can prepare yourself for.”

“No, it’s not,” Gwaine agreed, remembering the moment that everyone had found out that he had mated with Morgana, and the scrutiny he’d lived with ever since. “But it’s worth it. They’re worth it. Anything that means we can be with them and make them smile is worth it.”

“Yes,” said Merlin. “It sure is.”

 

The weeks that followed passed by in a haze for Merlin. He knew it was the effects of his very recent mating with Arthur, but his every waking thought was about the king. The bond between them was so strong and still so raw that Merlin couldn’t stand to be away from Arthur; it physically pained him to not be by the alpha’s side. Merlin knew that this would be bearable eventually, but for now it kept him practically glued to Arthur.

Not that either of them minded, though. Merlin practically followed Arthur around all the time anyway, and Arthur liked having Merlin around, whether for comfort or advice (not that he’d tell Merlin that). This of course meant most people didn’t notice any changes in their behaviour whatsoever.

Morgana, annoyingly, was not most people. Gwaine had not told her of his conversation with Merlin, understanding that his friend had told him in confidence, but Morgana was very perceptive. She had seen the subtle changes in the pair’s behaviour over the past weeks, how closely they stood to each other and how they seemed to know how the other felt without talking, and she knew. Of course she knew; she recognised the signs. She’d been in the same boat with Sir Gwaine, after all.

It wasn’t until Morgana was alone with Arthur that she brought it up, though. They were outside, and Gwen and Merlin were walking ahead of them. Like he had with Gwaine, Merlin had told Gwen about his mating with Arthur. Gwen most likely would’ve figured it out anyway; when their alphas weren’t around, omegas naturally gravitated towards each other.

“So,” said Morgana, trying to draw her brother’s attention. Arthur was watching Merlin, in such a way that Morgana thought that Arthur didn’t even realise he was doing it. “You seem very happy lately.”

“I am,” said Arthur, not taking his eyes off of Merlin.

“And so you should be,” said Morgana. “Am I right in thinking that this new-found happiness of yours has something to do with Merlin? You can’t take your eyes off of him, after all.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Arthur automatically, even though his eyes remained on Merlin.

“Come on, Arthur, don’t think you can get this past me,” said Morgana. “I am your sister. I also know what it’s like when an alpha mates with their omega for the first time.”

If Arthur hadn’t been afraid of losing Merlin, he would’ve stopped where he was. Instead he turned to look at Morgana incredulously. “How…”

“I just told you, it’s pretty obvious. For me, anyway, I doubt anybody else can tell,” Morgana added, when Arthur looked panicked. “But you are watching Merlin as if you’re deathly afraid that something’s going to attack him where he walks.”

“I am afraid that something’s going to attack him where he walks,” Arthur admitted. “Plus Merlin does have this uncanny ability to get himself into dangerous situations. I know he can take care of himself, but…”

“You have an uncontrollable need to protect him anyway?” Morgana supplied. “I know the feeling. Gwaine is one of Camelot’s best knights, but I still feel the need to protect him with my might and my magic should anyone threaten him. It’s part of being a mated alpha, Arthur. They are the single most important thing. Once you’ve found them, life without them would be meaningless. When you think about it like that, that protective instinct makes perfect sense.”

Arthur sighed. “I know. I knew this would happen, and yet I didn’t expect it at all. I didn’t expect it to be this strong.”

“It’s because you loved Merlin even before you knew he was your omega,” said Morgana. Arthur did stop then, turning to stare at his sister. “What? You know it’s true.”

Arthur turned to look at Merlin. He and Gwen had stopped too, and the male omega was making Gwen laugh. Arthur felt a sudden flash of jealously, even though he knew it was unwarranted. Merlin was his, though; it should be Arthur who he was getting to laugh, not Gwen!

“Merlin… has always been important to me,” Arthur finally admitted. He wasn’t very adept at talking about his emotions, especially when he was talking to his sister. “There’s always been a bond between us. Now I guess I know why.”

“Why didn’t you figure it out earlier?” Morgana asked.

“He was masking his nature with draughts that Gaius made,” Arthur explained. “Merlin’s magic is so immense and so powerful, that if he goes into heat and doesn’t mate, he can’t control it. The only reason he hadn’t taken his draughts when we went into the forest is because he went into heat early. Gaius believes that because he was alone with me, his body knew what I was to him and drove him into heat before Merlin could realise what was happening.”

“No wonder you wouldn’t let him out of your chambers when you returned,” said Morgana. “Merlin would’ve been exhausted after his heat.” Arthur nodded. “When are you going to make it public? That you mated with Merlin, I mean. Not to mention he needs a new title. Being personal manservant to the king just won’t cut it anymore.”

“I don’t think Merlin realises yet that he’s going to have a higher status than even you, Morgana,” said Arthur. “But soon. Before his next heat, at least. A king can’t sequester himself in his chambers with his manservant for an extended period of time for no reason. And I don’t want to risk being interrupted.”

Morgana chuckled. “No, no you do not,” she agreed. She still remembered the first time Gwaine went into heat around her, and the servants that kept trying to barge in. Luckily she’d been able to use magic to lock the door to her chambers.

“I’m glad you finally found him, Arthur,” said Morgana sincerely, her face suddenly serious. She rested her hand on her brother’s shoulder as she spoke. “Finding your omega, your true mate, can do more for you than you could ever imagine. Gwaine pulled me away from the darkness. And Merlin… Merlin will make you into the greatest king any land has ever known.”

“I think he already has been,” Arthur whispered, suddenly turning away from Morgana as Merlin came towards them. Smiling, Arthur took a step forward. “Hey, you,” he said.

“Hey,” said Merlin uncertainly, glancing over at Morgana.

“Relax, Merlin,” said Arthur, leaning forward and kissing his manservant, who let out a surprised squeal. “My ever observant sister seems to have already figured us out.” Arthur glowered at Morgana, who smirked.

“I’m happy for you, Merlin,” said Morgana with a smile. “Just get ready for when everybody else finds out, though. You won’t be able to be just the personal manservant to the king anymore, no matter how much you may want to.”

“Morgana!” Arthur cried.

“It’s okay, Arthur,” Merlin assured him, resting a hand on Arthur’s arms. “I know things are going to have to change. I’d be naïve if I thought they weren’t. But it’s worth it. You’re worth it.” Completely forgetting that Morgana and Gwen were there, his mind solely focused on his alpha, Merlin reached out and touched Arthur’s cheek. Arthur leant into the touch, kissing Merlin’s hand. Even Arthur couldn’t fight against his instincts right now, and his instincts were telling him to comfort Merlin. What he really wanted was to take Merlin and run away from the thousands of eyes that would always be watching them and judging them, so they could live just the two of them. But he knew he couldn’t do that.

“Ew, gross!” said Morgana wrinkling up her face in mock disgust and ruining Merlin and Arthur’s moment. “Save it for your chambers, you two!” Merlin pulled away hurriedly, looking embarrassed. Gwen just laughed.

Arthur could feel Merlin’s emotion through their bond, the one that had formed after their mating. Merlin felt embarrassed about giving in to his instincts in front of Morgana and Gwen, and apprehensive about the people of Camelot finding out about his mating with the king, but stronger than all of that was the happiness and love Merlin felt. Merlin was happier than he had ever been in his life- he didn’t have to hide anymore, and he’d found his mate, who was someone he knew cared for him. And he loved Arthur with a strength and a passion that staggered the king- also, Arthur was surprised to find, Merlin had loved him since not long after they met. Long before Merlin had stopped suppressing his nature and they had mated.

Maybe that connection was always there, Arthur thought to himself. Even though Merlin managed to hide his omega status, maybe he wasn’t able to suppress that link between us.

“Come on,” Arthur said. “Morgana and Guinevere, I need you to gather the knights and Gaius. Arrangements need to be made.”

“You mean…?” Merlin trailed off. He didn’t need to finish his sentence; Arthur already knew what he meant.

“Yes,” said Arthur. “Your next heat isn’t that far away, and I want all the scrutiny and gossip surrounding us to die down at least a little before it happens. It’s time, Merlin. It’s time to tell everyone.”

 

The Knights of the Round Table (minus Gwaine, of course, who already knew) were the next to find out about Merlin and Arthur. Leon, Percival and Elyan were all surprised but pleased at the news, and when they thought about it the mating made perfect sense. Merlin followed Arthur everywhere anyway; it was like the two of them were attached at the hip. Lancelot, while surprised and pleased like his fellow knights, was also very relieved. He’d felt terribly guilty when he’d arrived back at Camelot and taken Gwen from Arthur, but now at least Arthur had found his own true mate.

Lancelot stayed behind after the meeting, in which they discussed how Arthur would tell the council of Merlin’s new status and then announce his mating to the people. Gwen was hovering uncertainly behind him, and Merlin, as he always was, was right by Arthur’s side.

“Arthur, I just wanted to say-” Lancelot began, but Arthur held up a hand to cut him off.

“Lancelot, what have I said about apologising?” Arthur reminded him, but then he smiled. “It’s okay. I know what you’re going to say. We can’t choose our mate, Lancelot. Gwen is yours. I think some part of me always knew she wasn’t meant to be mine, even though I wouldn’t admit it to myself. I’m glad you came back now, anyway. If you hadn’t, I may never have realised that my mate was Merlin.” Arthur smiled at Merlin then, placing a hand in the small of the man’s back.

“I’m glad to see you happy, Arthur,” said Lancelot sincerely. “You deserve it.”

“Thank you, Lancelot,” Arthur replied. “Now come, Merlin. We have much to work out.”

Two days later, Arthur held a meeting with his council. Morgana was present, of course, being the princess of Camelot, as was Leon as Arthur’s second in command of the knights, and Gwaine as Morgana’s husband and mate. Gaius was also present, being a member of Arthur’s council and one of his most trusted advisors. Merlin was also there, seated by Arthur’s right side in the place that was normally occupied by Morgana. There were whispers from the council as they walked in and saw Merlin, not standing a few steps behind Arthur as he normally was but sitting beside him, but they did not say anything directly to Arthur. They didn’t dare.

“Gentlemen. My lady,” said Arthur, with a nod towards Morgana. “I have called you here today to inform you of a momentous event that occurred several weeks ago. I know most, if not all of you, were beginning to fear I would never find my mate. I must admit that I never thought I’d find them either. But that fear is no longer necessary. I have found them.”

“Is that why Merlin is here, sire?” said Gwaine with a smirk on his face.

Arthur glowered at him. “Yes, Lord Gwaine, that is why Merlin is here,” he said, before turning to face the group at large. “Merlin, who is someone I already trusted greatly and consider a very powerful ally to Camelot, is an omega. And he is also my mate.”

As Arthur expected, there was instant uproar at his words. The members of the council were all yelling, banging the table, trying to make their voices and their arguments heard. The only ones who were silent were Gaius, Morgana, Gwaine, Leon and, of course, Merlin. Merlin was leaning back in his seat, trying to make himself as invisible as possible. He had known this would happen; he and Arthur had talked about it, they had planned for it… but he still hated it. It still hurt.

Eventually Arthur rose to his feet. He stared at the council until they fell silent, staring up at their king. “I know you may all have misgivings about this,” he said.

“Misgivings?” one man yelled. “Of course we do! He is a servant, your majesty! And a sorcerer!”

“He is a warlock,” Arthur hissed, his voice dangerously low. “One who is born with magic, not one who chooses it. And one who has saved all of our lives, and I’m sure you know is the reason this kingdom still stands. Or did you forget that, Rohan?”

Rohan hung his head, ashamed. “I’m sorry, my lord,” he muttered. Arthur looked away from him deliberately, turning back to face the whole group again. “I remind you all, now, that magic is not banned in my kingdom. I am not my father. And Merlin may be a servant, but that is by his choice. I offered him a position on this council, but he turned it down. Now I can see why.

“Now, does anybody else have any misgivings?” said Arthur.

“My lord, if I may,” said another man, sounding rather meek. Arthur nodded at him. “Well, its just- I was thinking… wouldn’t it be better- for the kingdom, I mean- if you were to marry a princess from another kingdom? To ensure strong allies in the future?”

“I’m already ensuring a strong ally, Horth,” said Arthur, rather more kindly than he had spoken to Rohan. “We have all witnessed first-hand how strong Merlin’s magic is. He could tear down this entire castle if he so chose. Yet he chooses to work with us, to bring our enemies down. There is no better ally then him. And besides-”

“The mating bond cannot be broken once made,” said a voice, startling everyone. They all turned to see that it was Geoffrey of Monmouth who had spoken. “The bond is formed when an alpha mates with the omega who is meant to be his,” Geoffrey explained. “They can feel each other’s emotions. They know when the other is in pain. They can feel where the other is. And when the bond is new, as King Arthur and Merlin’s is, they find it difficult to leave each other’s side.”

“I know you are beta, Horth, and therefore do not understand this, but once an alpha has found the one they are meant to be with, they can be with no one else,” Arthur added. “No one. I couldn’t leave Merlin, even if I wanted to. An alpha’s omega is like their other half- once found, it is impossible to leave them. Emotionally and mentally, it would tear an alpha apart to be without their mate, and vice versa. The bond is one born out of love.”

The room fell silent at this. There were a few alphas among the group, including Morgana, as well as omegas in Gwaine and Merlin, but most of them had no idea of the strength of the bond between an alpha and their omega. They knew Arthur hadn’t explained it in full- but they also knew that nothing would be able to tear Arthur away from Merlin, ever.

“For those of you wondering, also, an omega cannot disobey their alpha,” said Merlin, speaking up for the first time. “At least not in a way that is as terrible as me betraying this kingdom, which is something that I would never do anyway. My loyalty is to Arthur and Arthur alone. It always has been, and it always will be.”

“And, seriously, if Merlin was going to turn against Arthur, he would’ve done it by now,” said Morgana. She always hated these meetings; too many members of the council were still set in Uther’s old ways. She hoped Arthur would get rid of them soon (she was almost sure it would happen now, especially to those who had made their feelings about Merlin clear). “He’s been by Arthur’s side for years, even during Uther’s reign when his magic was punishable by death. Now if that isn’t unwavering loyalty, I don’t know what is.”

Thank the gods she’s on my side again, Arthur thought to himself. “Now, if there aren’t any other objections…” Arthur trailed off, but no one else filled the silence. They knew this was something that could not be changed. And a happy king made for a better king. “Good. My marriage to Merlin will be in three days, to give us enough time to prepare. At that time, he will be crowned king at my side.” Arthur held out his hand to his mate. “Come, Merlin,” he said. Instantly Merlin obeyed, slipping his hand into Arthur’s and getting to his feet. The two of them left the room, every single pair of eyes watching them go.

It was later that day when an announcement was made to the people of Camelot that their king was to marry his mate, and his mate was his manservant, Merlin. It was surprisingly very well received- Merlin had a lot of friends among the townspeople and the servants of Camelot, and he was very well liked. Plus, Arthur got the feeling that the people were very happy to have one of their own marrying the king; it would make them feel like they had a real voice in the kingdom, somebody who understood them like royalty never could. The members of the nobility, of course, had reservations- Merlin was a commoner, a servant- he knew nothing about the nobility and being king. Arthur had expected this, but he also knew that they would eventually get used to the idea. Merlin would make an amazing King Consort, Arthur was certain of it.

The next day, Merlin’s mother arrived in Camelot. Arthur hadn’t told Merlin he’d sent for her, so her arrival was a huge shock to the warlock. He was in the throne room, just standing there wearing the new clothes Arthur had had made for him, when she’d entered the room and he’d seen her. “Mother!” he cried, running the length of the room and pulling her into an embrace. “What are you doing here?”

“King Arthur sent for me,” Hunith replied. “Merlin, is it true that you’re…?”

“Yeah, mother, it’s true,” said Merlin. “My mate is the King of Camelot. I’m not wearing these clothes for nothing, you know.”

Hunith pulled away from her son so she could get a good look at him. “No, I suppose you’re not,” she said. “You should hear everyone back in Ealdor talking about you. They can’t believe it. This is even bigger for them then finding out that you were the sorcerer that saved Camelot.”

“I’ll bet,” said Merlin. “I’m kind of glad I don’t have to listen to all of it. Things are bad enough here. The lords and ladies aren’t exactly happy about the king marrying a servant.”

“Arthur isn’t going to listen to them, is he?” Hunith asked worriedly.

Merlin laughed. “He never does. He listens to them even less than he listens to me! And you know, mother- once the bond is made it can never be undone.”

“I know,” Hunith sighed. She was remembering Balinor, Merlin’s father- of when he had had to leave her and the anguish that had filled her when he'd died. “I’m so glad you found him, Merlin. It’s so much better than an eternity alone.”

Merlin pulled his mother back into his arms, just as Arthur appeared in the entrance to the throne room. Merlin didn’t see him, but Hunith did. Looking over at the king, she mouthed ‘thank you’ to him. Arthur nodded and smiled, his gaze drifting over to Merlin almost automatically. Hunith smiled warmly at the king, but he didn’t notice; he only had eyes for Merlin. Hunith could tell by the look on Arthur’s face that he deeply cared for her son; that he loved him. She could not be more grateful for this. Merlin deserved all the love in the world, and she knew that Arthur would give it to him unwaveringly. She could live the rest of her life happy and sure of that fact. And even after she was long gone from the earth, she knew her son would be safe and loved.

 

Finally, the day of Merlin and Arthur’s marriage arrived. Merlin was nervous; he’d spent the day with Gwen and Gwaine, his two fellow omegas trying to comfort him.

“I’m going to say something stupid, I’m going to trip over my own feet, I just know it…” Merlin muttered.

“No, you won’t, Merlin,” Gwen promised him. “Trust me, all you’ll be able to think of once you walk into that room will be Arthur.” Merlin knew Gwen was thinking about her own marriage to Lancelot, which was mere days after Arthur had allowed Merlin out of his chambers.

“And just remember, Merlin, after this you can get back to making sweet love with the princess, and making little Pendragon babies,” Gwaine joked.

“I think somebody’s beaten me to it,” said Merlin, a smile breaking out on his face when Gwaine’s eyes grew wide. “I know you went into heat Gwaine- you and Morgana disappeared for days between me talking to you and Morgana telling Arthur that she’d figured us out. And I can smell it on you. Can’t you, Gwen?”

Gwen was still for a moment, before she nodded. “I can. I can smell it on you.” Then she smiled. “Congratulations, Gwaine.”

“Thanks,” he said. “We haven’t told anyone yet; we wanted to wait until after today. Today’s supposed to be all about you and Arthur. Arthur will be the next to know, as Morgana’s brother and as our king, and because I’m going to need to lessen my training. But enough about me. It’s time for you to marry your princess, Merlin.”

The rest of the day seemed to pass by in no time at all for Merlin. One minute he was talking to Gwen and Gwaine, and the next minute he was standing outside the throne room in his ceremonial clothes, waiting for the doors to open. When they did open, however, it seemed time had stopped. Because there was Arthur, wearing his chain mail and his red cape with the Pendragon crest, the golden dragon, on it. His golden king’s crown sat on his head, and his sword hung on his hip. And he was Merlin’s. All Merlin’s.

Merlin hadn’t even realised he was walking towards Arthur until he was there, and his hands were in the king’s. Arthur smiled at him, and Geoffrey performed the ceremony. Merlin honestly felt like he was dreaming by this point. Gwen had been right; all Merlin could think about in that moment was Arthur, and when the two of them said “I do” warmth flooded him. And when Geoffrey pronounced them married, Merlin could barely hear the cheers from those watching as his lips met Arthur’s. Nothing mattered but Arthur; nothing mattered but his alpha.

But there was still more to do. Eventually Arthur pulled away from Merlin. The omega wanted to pull him back, but he knew that everyone’s eyes were on him. Arthur took the two steps up to stand in front of his throne, whereas Merlin stepped down to kneel on the cushion below. His head was bowed, waiting. Arthur spoke, but he barely registered the words. He felt like he was somewhere else until Arthur placed a crown on Merlin’s head and held out his hands, pulling Merlin to his feet. “Knew you couldn’t live without me,” Merlin whispered, and Arthur smiled. As Arthur led Merlin to the two thrones sitting side by side and they sat down, chants of “Long live the king!” filled the room. And Merlin smiled.

It wasn’t until very late at night that Merlin and Arthur were finally alone. They were in their chambers, their crowns and Arthur’s ceremonial chainmail, cape and sword long ago discarded. Arthur came up behind Merlin, wrapping his arms around his new husband’s waist.

“About time everyone left us alone,” Arthur said. “Don’t they realise what people do on their wedding nights?”

“I’m sure that’s what they’re thinking about right now,” Merlin laughed. He felt… strange, though. Off. And he had done for the past couple of hours. He had ignored it, too happy about finally being married to Arthur, but now…

“Merlin, is everything okay?” Arthur asked, pulling away from Merlin to study him closely. “Are you alright?”

“I think so,” said Merlin uncertainly. “All the excitement left me light-headed, I guess.”

“Well, if you’re sure…” Arthur came closer to Merlin again, and as skin met skin, Merlin realised what was making him so uncomfortable. A wave of heat flooded through him, forcing him to his knees.

“Merlin!” Arthur cried, crouching down beside him. “Merlin, what’s wrong?”

“I think we got married just in time, Arthur,” said Merlin with a smile,

“What… oh!” With that Arthur was pulling their clothes off, taking Merlin right then and there on the floor. Afterwards they moved over to the bed, their movements made difficult by the fact that Arthur was still tied inside of Merlin. When they were comfortable, Arthur spoke again.

“I guess you’re right,” said Arthur. “We did get married just in time. Thank god for that- I didn’t want to have to explain to people why we’ve locked ourselves in here. I’m sure people will put two and two together.”

“Mmm.” If he was honest, Merlin didn’t really care about that right now. He was in heat, after all, and an omega in heat could only think about their alpha. Merlin’s every thought was Arthur, Arthur, Arthur…

“Sorry,” Arthur laughed. “Probably not really want you want to talk about right now, huh?” Merlin nodded in agreement, and Arthur laughed again. “Shall we talk about the fact that I can smell something on you? And by something, I mean that I think I just knocked you up?”

Merlin froze. “What? Are you sure?” he said.

“Unless my nose is wrong,” said Arthur. “And I’m never wrong. It can normally be detected almost instantly.” He leaned down to kiss Merlin’s stomach. “As if life hadn’t given me enough today.” As soon as Arthur finished speaking Merlin whined, pressing back into Arthur as his heat hit him again. “Haven’t had enough yet?”

“You know very well I haven’t fucking had enough,” Merlin growled, pushing against Arthur again. “Hurry up, unless you want me to blow up the castle.”

“Alright, alright. You’re pushy for an omega.” Before proceeding to do as Merlin demanded, however, Arthur whispered, “I love you, Merlin. More than I ever thought possible.”

“I love you too, Arthur. I love you too.”