corilannam: (Merlin - pendragon)
[personal profile] corilannam
Continued from Chapter 3

Merlin had just tucked the bottle of wine into his knapsack and slung it over his shoulder when he heard the rapping at the door. He checked his phone in surprise, but time was still progressing at its normal rate. Arthur could not have got here from London that fast unless he had found a fighter jet to take him. Even given Arthur's status and how eager he had sounded to get out of London, Merlin doubted he had mustered the RAF.

When he opened the door, he was no less surprised to find Gwaine on the other side. "Hello, Merlin." Gwaine gave him a toothy grin and stalked forward until Merlin had to back up and let him in the door. "I've come for a chat."

"I was actually just leaving for dinner at my mum's." And he needed all the time he could get to think of a way to break it to his mother that the King of Great Britain and Northern Ireland might be dropping by in time for dessert.

"Don't you worry, it won't take long." Gwaine settled himself in Merlin's favourite seat at the kitchen table and made an elaborate and emphatic gesture for Merlin to join him.

Merlin stood by the open door, wavering. He and Gwaine had become great friends already from working together, but something about Gwaine's predatory manner made him worry that this might make him later for dinner. "I have to cycle all the way across town."

"Town is about five minutes from end to end, Merlin. Stop fussing. I'll drop you off." Gwaine patted the table next to him. "Have a seat, my friend."

He gave up, let the door close, and joined Gwaine at the table. "All right, but you're explaining it to my mum if you make me late."

"Fair enough."

"So what's so important that you drove all the way out here on a Sunday night?"

Gwaine leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers with a Poirotvian air. "I have, of late, noticed a change in my housemate."

Merlin mimicked his steepled fingers, but held them over his head in the shape of a crown. "Shiny thing on head, weight of history on shoulders, general expression of expectant melancholy?"

"Nah, that's what passes for normal." Gwaine waved a dismissive hand. "And I was expecting it to get worse, given the circumstances. Except that suddenly he's all smiles, coming home late without a word of explanation, won't tell me—me!—a damn thing."

"Yeah?" Merlin tried hard, really hard, to bite back the grin trying to spread across his face. "How odd."

"You know what's really odd?" Gwaine leaned forward and fixed Merlin with a hard look. "For weeks, every other word out of his mouth was your name. Merlin doesn't like me and I don't understand why, Merlin spilled curry on my blueprints, Merlin had a surprisingly good idea today, Merlin Merlin Merlin Merlin."

"That does sound pretty odd." Merlin made his face a perfect blank, revealing only a mild interest. He was usually good at that, after many years of moderating Sunday dinners with his mum and Will. "I would never have thought he'd admit I had a good idea."

"Oh, that's not the odd part." Gwaine grinned a toothsome grin. "The odd part is that in the last few days he has not mentioned your name even once."

"Not once?" That was somewhat disappointing, although Merlin had long since stopped mentioning Arthur to Will or his mother as much as possible for his own sanity.

"I would have thought he was just distracted by other, more pressing current events, but I couldn't help but notice that he also changes the subject whenever your name is mentioned at all. So peculiar, yes?"

"Maybe he finally realized that I'm beneath his notice?"

"Or alternatively, he's finally fucking you."

Merlin started coughing over thin air. He had felt so secure in their secret that despite all the build-up, he had never suspected Gwaine was anywhere close to the truth. "What?"

"Are you fucking the King, Merlin?"

Merlin had no idea what to say. He had not even begun to think about coming out to anyone about his bisexuality, let alone his fledgling relationship with Arthur. " such a specific word."

"I didn't suspect until Arthur came home with a certain post-coital glow Thursday night." Gwaine leaned back in his chair, managing to sound both stern and smug. "Even then, it took me a couple of days to figure out what it was, since I've never seen Arthur with post-coital anything before."

A pang went through him that Gwaine had seen that at all, that Merlin had to share that with anyone instead of basking in that glow himself, alone with Arthur. He sighed. "What do you want me to tell you, Gwaine? I'm not talking about Arthur with anyone, not even you."

To his surprise, Gwaine smiled at that. "Glad to hear it, actually. And you don't have to talk. I just want to make sure that you know that Arthur is my friend, and I take his happiness very seriously."

Merlin met his gaze blankly for a moment. "Are you giving me the ‘if you break his heart, I'll break your legs' speech?"

"Shush." Gwaine held up his index finger with an air of cultivated gravity. "I've never had the chance to do this before. This is really fun for me."

"Oh." Merlin relaxed and mirrored the grin tugging at the corner of Gwaine's mouth. "By all means."

"He may seem very important and powerful, but he's really very vulnerable."

Merlin, who thought Arthur's importance was mostly in his own head with some unhealthy validation from people like Merlin's mum, tried not to yawn.

"And he has pretty much no relationship experience at all. I mean, zero. Zilch. He is a blind man in a snake pit."

"Okay, Arthur's actually doing fine so far, but I'm starting to worry about your girlfriends."

"Sure, everything's rosy now, you've only been shagging for a few days. But Arthur takes everything really seriously. He may be a professional flirt, but he's not one for flings. I don't think he's ever had one at all, despite my best efforts."

"I think I'm in love with him." As soon as the words left his lips, Merlin clamped his hand over his mouth in a futile attempt to stop them. Well, shit. He had no clue where that had come from and wished he had not said it out loud, but he could not bear to take it back.

Gwaine stared back at him, momentarily speechless. "Well," he finally said, "the Pendragons always were an all-or-nothing kind of bunch."

"Guess I fit right in after all." Merlin let out a long breath and slumped in his chair. He had fallen in love with Freya the day he met her as well.

Gwaine echoed his sigh, and then grinned and slung an arm around Merlin's shoulders. "Dinner at Mum's, you said? Then I guess it's time I meet the family."

And that was how Merlin wound up introducing his gobsmacked mother to the Duke of Clarence.

"Mum, this is Gwaine—er, do you even have a last name?"

"It's ‘Duke of Clarence.'" Gwaine took Merlin's mum's hand and kissed it. "But you must call me Gwaine."

His mother stared at her hand, still clasped in his, as though it had sprouted new fingers. "Your Grace—"

"Please, the only person who calls me that is my butler, and I hate him." Gwaine smiled and let her hand go only to present her with a small bunch of flowers. Merlin had no idea where they had come from. "And a lady as beautiful as you can only be a queen in disguise, exiled far from your kingdom."

"I do rule my employees with an iron fist at times." His mum beamed up at him from under her eyelashes as she sniffed the flowers.

"In a velvet glove, I don't doubt."

"Is he chatting up my mum?" Merlin whispered to Will, who snickered. "Seriously, he's chatting up my mum."

"I can't decide if that's brilliant, or if I should be punching him in the face," Will answered.

Merlin gave him a sidelong look. "That's unexpectedly mellow of you."

Will shrugged and leaned on his shoulder. "You running around with the aristocracy has taken all the fun out of my proletariat ranting. I think I'm going to have to find a new hobby."

Merlin silently agreed that was probably for the best, all things considered.

Arthur pulled up in front of the address Merlin had texted to him. The little house looked warm, windows glowing with light in the deepening dusk. He liked it immediately; he wanted to feel at home here.

At the moment, all he felt was nervous. He had met a thousand mums in his life, but never his boyfriend's. Not, he imagined, that Mrs. Emrys knew he was seeing her son, unless Merlin had suddenly become as much of a chatterbox about their relationship as he was about everything else.

He picked up the bottle of wine from the passenger seat, hoping it was of sufficient quality without being uncomfortably expensive. When he had met Mithian's mother, he had brought her a horse to add to her breeding stable. He doubted that would be normal courting behaviour in Merlin's eyes.

Girding his loins and reminding himself of his glorious ancestry, he got out of the car and strode up the walk. He heard laughter and voices from inside the—was that Gwaine?

Arthur knocked on the door. A burst of laughter drifted from inside the house, and yes, there was no mistaking Gwaine's voice. Apparently they were all too busy being entertained by him because no one came to the door.

He knocked again. This time he heard Merlin: "Oh, shit," and then the thump of feet running to the door.

"Always nice to be noticed," Arthur sniped when the door opened.

"You don't get noticed enough?" Merlin sniped back, but he smiled and looked abashed enough to mollify Arthur's nervous strop. "Come on, there's still plenty of food."

He pulled Arthur inside. When the door shut, they were alone in the dim light of the small foyer. Merlin hesitated, looked over his shoulder, and then pressed up against Arthur with a kiss that lingered for touch after touch.

"Merlin? Who is it?" a female voice called from within the house.

They both started, and Merlin winced. "If she loses her mind, just remember that I'm about seventy-five percent sure that it's not hereditary."

"You did tell her I was coming, didn't you?" Arthur followed Merlin into the light of the house. "Didn't you? Merlin!"

Around the dinner table, everyone froze as they entered. Gwaine was in mid-tussle with a young man across the table over a depleted bottle of wine. Arthur recognized the other two from the photographs in Merlin's home, although the pictures were missing the slack jaws and stunned eyes that faced him now.

"Arthur!" Gwaine took advantage of the distraction to liberate the wine bottle from the grasp of the man who could only be Will. "Sorry for horning in on your date. I just dropped by to ask Merlin about his intentions, and now here I am."

The focus shifted from Arthur to Gwaine for an instant, and then back to Arthur. He took a deep breath, put on his most charming smile, and turned to Merlin's mother. "Good evening, Mrs. Emrys. It's such a pleasure to finally meet you."

She wobbled to her feet and took his extended hand. "Your Majesty. I—it's a pleasure to meet you, too. Merlin has not told us nearly enough about you."

"He's told me a great number of wonderful things about you." He squeezed her hand in both of his, and then looked over at Will, calculating his approach. "You, on the other hand, not so much."

That startled a snort of laughter out of Merlin's friend, and everyone else joined in. It sounded mostly genuine, so Arthur relaxed a little, though it was Merlin's uninhibited grin that pleased him the most.

"Please, Your Majesty, join us," Mrs. Emrys said. "I'll get you a plate."

Gwaine saved his own arse by immediately hopping up to let Arthur have the seat between Merlin and his mother, liberating Arthur's wine bottle on the way.

"Please, call me Arthur." Arthur settled into the chair next to Merlin.

She looked dubious, but smiled as she set the plate in front of him and started filling it with food before he could stop her. "I promise to try, as long as you call me Hunith."

"What a beautiful name." He tucked into the food, suddenly starving and eager to experience home cooking by a real mum, as opposed to Gwaine's.

Merlin found it surreal at first to have Arthur here at his mum's dinner table, but after a few minutes, it was easy to forget that this was not a normal Sunday night.

"At least he's not hitting on your mam," Will muttered to Merlin with a sidelong look at Gwaine, who had taken the empty chair next to him.

Gwaine seemed unfazed as he savored the (much better) bottle of wine that Arthur had brought. "She's a beautiful woman."

Merlin confiscated the wine long enough to get some down his own throat; if anyone needed to drink tonight, he should have first dibs. Then he turned towards Arthur and his mother, prepared to find a way to facilitate a conversation.

He was less prepared to see Arthur leaning away from him, sitting bent towards Merlin's mum. She had her hand over his hand, and they were talking in soft voices. Merlin caught enough scraps of the conversation to know they were talking about Australia and Arthur's upcoming tour; he turned away, uncomfortable with eavesdropping.

Will watched them as well. "If your mam is looking to adopt another orphaned wanker, I just want it clearly understood that I was here first, I was."

Merlin grinned and held up his wine glass in a toast. "Cheers to that, mate!"

The wine and food had long gone by the time Merlin gave Arthur's shoulder an affectionate jostle. Arthur looked up from his chat with Merlin's mum with bright, happy eyes. "Hello. Oh, it's late. We should help Hunith clean up."

"Already done." Merlin grinned at his embarrassment. "No worries, but someone has to give me a lift home since I wasn't allowed to bring my bike."

"I told you, I'll drive you back," Gwaine hollered from the kitchen.

"No, he won't," Arthur retorted with a regal authority that made Merlin's mum beam. It made Merlin stir in his jeans, a fact he wanted none of the people in the house to ever figure out.

Will appeared at the door between the kitchen and dining room. "Actually, I think you're going to have to take them both. I just tossed that one's keys in the freezer for his own good."

Arthur rolled his eyes at an angle only Merlin could see. He stood up and leaned in close to Merlin's ear. "Damn Gwaine."

Merlin could only nod without words. The missed opportunity hit him--as far as anyone knew, Arthur was still in London. No one would be watching for him to come home. No one would have noticed if he went home with Merlin instead.

"Merlin love, why don't you just sleep here tonight?" his mother said. "You shouldn't inconvenience Arthur."

"It's not the slightest inconvenience." Arthur gripped Merlin's upper arm as though she were about to steal him away.

"But you don't even have a backseat." Merlin tried to convince himself it was fine; if he had to part from Arthur, it hardly mattered whether it was here or five minutes from now at Merlin's house.

"We'll take Gwaine's. Get the keys out of the freezer, Merlin. I'll deal with Gwaine."

Will snorted in disbelief. "Good thing I can walk," he said before kissing Merlin's mum's cheek, punching Merlin in the arm, and heading out the back door.

Arthur dealt with Gwaine by marching him out to the car in an unrelenting hold and shoving him into the back seat as if he were under arrest.

"Oh God, I'm cockblocking you," Gwaine moaned from the back as Merlin slid into the passenger seat. "I can't believe this."

"No, you're not." Merlin's voice sounded not just unconvincing, but outright pathetic even to his own ears.

"Yes, he is." Arthur got behind the wheel and slammed the door hard enough to make the whole car shake. "He knows the score, don't you, Gwaine?"

"All these years I spent trying to get you laid, and here you are, not getting laid because of me."

Merlin could almost feel sorry for him if he was not also failing to get laid on account of Gwaine.

Arthur sighed. "It's not like it's the first time I've had to drag your plastered arse home."

He got the car onto the road and then reached for Merlin's hand, holding it as if defying either one of them to deny him. Merlin twined their fingers and stared down at their hands, acutely aware of Gwaine just behind them. He thought he liked this, having someone else know how he felt about Arthur and how Arthur felt about him. It made it feel real.

"Sorry the night turned into a clusterfuck," he said when they pulled into Merlin's driveway. "So much for a relaxing taste of normalcy."

Arthur's grim face suddenly brightened into a smile. "No, it was brilliant. I love your family."

Merlin grinned back, relieved. "We love you, too."

And because it was dark and Gwaine had started softly snoring in the backseat, he dared to lean toward Arthur and kiss him.

He felt no need to hurry, and Arthur matched the slow linger of his kisses. Stolen moments were always the sweetest—at least in the beginning. What could they do with an entire stolen night?

"Come in," he whispered when Arthur started to pull back. "Just leave him in the car. He deserves it."

Arthur huffed with laughter and kissed him again. "He does. But I think there are laws about leaving pets and children in the car overnight."

"Pets get fed better," Gwaine mumbled behind them. "Don't mind me. Go on snogging."

At least that made it easier to get out of the car. "Don't be too hard on him; he meant well. See you tomorrow?"

"Of course." Arthur gave him a little wave as Gwaine heaved himself into the passenger seat.

Merlin went inside, but looked out the window until the taillights disappeared around the bend. He wondered how on earth they were ever going to make this work.

"I really did mean well." Gwaine stood in the doorway, looking like the offspring of a kicked puppy and a well-scolded schoolboy. He held out a cup of tea as a peace offering. Of course, now he was perfectly sober.

Arthur sighed and accepted the tea. "Did you really go out there to ask Merlin's intentions?"

"Someone had to look out for your innocence. You don't even know what a long-term relationship is, and you're skipping right off a cliff into one before you've even had a proper date."

"I tried the proper date thing. Went really well, don't you think?"

"You're meant to have more than one, Arthur!"

"I know. I've been watching you have plenty of them for years. Where's your long-term relationship, Gwaine? I can't see that my way leaves me any worse off."

Genuine hurt flashed over Gwaine's face. "It's different with you, Arthur. Don't let's pretend that it's not."

"Yes, it is different." Arthur sagged into his chair and stared down into the tea. "Where am I supposed to meet people, Gwaine? I don't want to go pull blokes in clubs. I just want to find one person I like, and who wants to date me because they like me, too, not because I'm the bloody King."

"And you had already found Merlin. I get it. Honestly, if I had to pick out one person for you, I'd pick him. But you know he's not out, right?"

"Of course. We've talked about it. He has his reasons." Arthur rather thought that dating someone with a natural sense of discretion should be lauded, not criticized.

"I'm not judging. But you're the most out gay man in the world right now. Even Elton John has a few doubters compared to you. At some point, that's going to be a problem."

"Why do I have to think about that now?" Arthur demanded. "Why can't I just have sex and enjoy his company, like any other new relationship in the world?"

Gwaine actually looked amused at that. "All right. If you can look me in the eye and tell me that you've never had a fantasy about Merlin involving Westminster Abbey, I'll let it go."

Arthur stared at him, trying to project indignant dignity. "Poets' Corner is very romantic."

"That's what I thought." Gwaine grabbed his head and kissed him on the top of it with his usual rough affection. "I hope you do end up in the Abbey with him someday. Just make sure you're on the same page about that."

After he heard Gwaine's door slam shut, Arthur fidgeted and looked down at his watch. It was not even midnight; he had a long time to wait before he could reasonably expect to see Merlin again.

Or did he? No one lurked outside, and he could take Gwaine's car again. Was that not the kind of gesture that those newly in love made? At least in the movies, but surely Merlin watched movies (all the girliest ones, no doubt) and would find it more romantic than creepy if Arthur turned up on his doorstep in the middle of the night, overcome by passion.

Before he could think himself out of it, Arthur went to reclaim Gwaine's keys.

Almost no traffic got in his way at this hour. He rang Merlin's doorbell at a quarter past twelve. When Merlin opened the door and gaped at him, Arthur waggled his wrist and said, "It's tomorrow."

Merlin said nothing. He just grabbed a handful of Arthur's shirt and hauled him inside. Arthur's watch disappeared after that, and his shirt, and every other stitch of clothing not long after. Arthur was too busy getting under Merlin's pyjama bottoms to care where anything went.

They fell into Merlin's bed. Arthur tumbled naked into sheets still warm from Merlin's body, and then Merlin's naked skin blanketed him from above.

"Arthur." Merlin moaned into Arthur's neck. His stiffening cock rubbed into the crease of Arthur's thigh with small jerks of his hips.

Arthur jerked up into him in reflexive response. "You feel so good. Fuck, I don't even know all the things I want to do with you."

"Do whatever you want. Anything." Merlin scraped his teeth over Arthur's shoulder. "Just stay."

He started to promise he would, but Merlin's lips pulled his mouth open and that was the end of talking. Their bodies moved together in small flexes, awkward in trying to find how they fit together. Their mouths did better; they knew each other now.

Arthur felt an urgency in his skin, his limbs, his gut. He flipped Merlin onto his back, rolling on top of him. Merlin looked up at him, eyes glazed until they focused sharp on Arthur's face.

"I'm going to stay tonight." Arthur lifted himself up so that only their ankles and knees brushed. "I don't want to rush."

"Me, neither." Merlin arched up to bump his cock against Arthur's hip. "Within reason."

"Agreed." He lowered himself until his thighs pressed against Merlin's thighs. "I've never been naked with someone before."

"Really?" Merlin shifted so that their thighs rubbed together, scratchy and smooth, the hardness of muscle under the give of flesh. "Did you have a private little prince's room at school, or were you excused from games altogether?"

"I love sport, and that's not what I meant." He bent and brushed his lips over Merlin's just to feel the heat of his breath. "I've seen naked men. Hell, it can be hard to get Gwaine to put some damn clothes on around the house."

"I'm not sure I want you talking about other naked men right now." Merlin clamped his hand around the back of Arthur's neck and kissed him harder.

"Fair enough." Arthur trembled as he lowered his hips until his cock rubbed against Merlin's cock.

"Oh, fuck." Merlin kept his grip on Arthur's neck, ran the other hand down Arthur's back and pressed himself up against him. "I've never been naked with a man, either. I've never felt anything like your body."

They started kissing again. Merlin fumbled toward the bedside table until Arthur shifted with him enough for him to reach the drawer. He dragged out a bottle of lubricant. "Here. I'm sure we both know how to use this."

He drizzled the cool liquid liberally over both their cocks and balls. "Merlin," Arthur protested when it began to run messily over Merlin's stomach and thighs.

"Don't care, just--ahh." Merlin pushed up against Arthur's body, and now their skin rubbed in a wet slide.

When Merlin's arms wrapped around his back, Arthur gave up any attempt to control what was happening to them. He buried his face in Merlin's neck and ground into him. "Merlin. It feels so good. It makes me want...."

Merlin's hips met his thrusts in a steady, primal rhythm. "Do you want to be inside me?"

"Fuck." Arthur groaned, his cock surging out of control at the thought. "Yes. Would you want that?"

"Yeah. Always have. Wanked about it for years." Merlin gripped his arse and pulled him in as if to tighten the grind of their bodies. They fit together perfectly now, belly to belly, like they were made for this. "Well, not you specifically."

Arthur undulated a bit to feel the tickle of Merlin's chest hair on his nipples. "But I'll do?"

"Yeah." Merlin giggled in the midst of a groan. "Next time. When we have all night to build up to it."

And the thought of preparing Merlin for sex, preparing his arse to accept the intrusion of Arthur's cock, was more than enough to make his balls and body tighten as the climax hit him. His come spurted onto Merlin's stomach, smearing between their undulating bodies.

He relaxed just enough that when Merlin rubbed hard against him and came, he could hold him and savour the wonder of how Merlin tensed and flexed and released in his arms.

They rested, kissing and touching until they hardened again. This time, when they grew ready to finish, Merlin turned onto his stomach and let Arthur's cock rub into his arse. Arthur's come pooled in the hollow at the small of Merlin's back; as he helped Merlin finish, he imagined it pooling in a condom deep inside Merlin.

The fantasy faded as his body cooled. Merlin curled against his back and dropped into sleep with a sigh. Arthur stayed awake, unused to sleeping with the heat of another body against him. He had never shared a bed before.

Slowly, the lassitude of his body and the warmth surrounding him lulled him. He drifted into another fantasy: a bed somewhere indistinct, but large and royal, with Merlin held tight against him like they both belonged there.

Merlin woke up a few minutes before his alarm was set to go off, which was not his habit at all. He felt vexed at the lost minutes of sleep until he felt the heavy weight on his chest and stirred himself to nuzzle into blond hair.

It had been a few years since he had woken up with someone. He had missed the intimate heat of sharing sleep with another person. Now he was sorry that he had not woken earlier so he could burrow down with Arthur and soak up his drowsy warmth.

Arthur stirred and tilted his head to meet Merlin's nuzzle. "Mm, morning." Unlike Freya, who had always curled up in a neat ball tucked against his side, Arthur's heavier limbs draped across his body.

"Morning." Merlin kissed Arthur, lazy and sweet. He was about to slide down to wrap himself around Arthur in a more satisfying way when his alarm started to beep. "Dammit. Call off sick?"

Arthur's eyes lit up with unholy glee. "Demolition contractor comes today. You don't want to miss that, do you?"

Actually, he would not mind missing that at all. "My poor school."

"She'll be better than ever, just you wait." Arthur grinned, then looked down at himself with a wrinkle of his nose. "I need a shower."

Merlin reached down and trailed his forefinger down Arthur's filthy stomach. "Yeah, you do."

Arthur bit his lip, almost shy as Merlin's finger dipped into his navel. "Is there time for both of us?"

"Well." Merlin bit his lip as well, but it was to hide his grin. "Only if we share."

"Believe it or not, I'm quite good at sharing." Arthur was still biting his lip, but he no longer looked shy.

The sacrifice of Arthur sleepy and warm was worth it once he had Arthur wet and slippery in the shower. They soaped each other much more than necessary for hygiene, pausing to kiss, heedless of the spray sending rivulets down their faces.

That ended with Arthur sputtering and tossing his wet fringe out of his face. At first Merlin laughed because Arthur had obviously picked up that gesture from Gwaine.

And then he saw Arthur with his eyes closed, head tilted back, water streaming down his face. A picture flashed from his memory, something from a magazine that he did not even remember seeing in the first place: Arthur on holiday somewhere sunny and expensive, emerging from the sea.

And then he started laughing much, much harder.

"What?" Arthur opened his eyes and stared at him.

Merlin gestured that he needed a moment and doubled over. The giggles welled up sharp and uncontrollable until he sank down to sit on the shower floor.

"Merlin! What?" When Merlin peered up at him, Arthur looked puzzled and a little hurt, his erection flagging.

"Sorry,"" he managed to get out in between giggles. "It just suddenly hit me that I have the King of Great Britain in my shower."

Which was the most absurd, hilarious thing Merlin had ever heard. Arthur did not seem so amused. His face closed off and he reached for a towel.

"No, wait, I didn't mean it like that." Merlin grabbed at his thighs to hold him still. "Wait. I love having you in my shower. Let me show you."

Arthur frowned, but he dropped the towel on the floor. Merlin kissed his hip, his thigh, all around his groin, until his erection firmed and bumped against Merlin's face.

When he took Arthur's cock in his mouth, it felt bigger than it looked; it tasted clean with a tang of salt. He had no fucking clue what he was doing, but given that Arthur would not know the difference, he just went for it.

When Arthur's knees buckled and his come hit the back of Merlin's throat, Merlin savored every drop in victory.

Not bad for a first blowjob. He supposed bisexuality just came naturally to some people.

The demolition crew had already arrived on site when Arthur and Merlin pulled up by the school. Arthur disliked any failings of punctuality, but he had gone to exchange Gwaine's car for his own at Merlin's mother's house. Of course, it had been necessary to say good morning to Hunith and have a cup of tea while they were there.

They had invited the local press to come witness the demolition, as it seemed like a good way to keep Avalon in the news (and Arthur wanted video of it to watch later). The small bunch of reporters and camera crews stood neatly cordoned off in the designated safe area.

As they walked over to join the Taliesin crew who were chatting with the demolition men, Arthur caught a flash of lens out of the corner of his practiced eye. Ah, one of the hounds had slipped its leash to find some more unique shots—Arthur did not think it was too egotistical to assume he was the intended prey.

He held up his hand in a casual but particular gesture. In a second, Percival appeared at his side. "Sir?"

Merlin jumped. "Shit. I always forget you guys are there."

Percival gave a solemn nod of appreciation for the compliment. Arthur smiled for a moment, but then inclined his head toward the shrubbery where he had seen the camera pop out. "Take care of that, would you?"

"Sir." Percival veered in the indicated direction as Arthur continued on.

"Take care of what?" Merlin watched Percival go with a frown before hopping to catch up with Arthur.

"I'm not fond of reporters being where they shouldn't, not when I'm at work." Arthur put his hand on Merlin's shoulder to steer him on. "Don't worry about it."

But Merlin still craned his head around to look.

Gwaine stood with Vivian, Lancelot, and the others from Taliesin. When he spotted them, he stalked out to meet them with a scowl. "You couldn't leave a note?"

Arthur raised his eyebrows. "You couldn't figure out where I went?"

"Where you went in my bloody car! I had to get a ride down with Vivian this morning. Vivian! I had to agree to dinner with her tonight in exchange. Do you understand what that means?"

"It means you're probably going to have sex with her tonight." Arthur shrugged. "I don't really see the problem."

"Well, that is a silver lining, that's true. But it's also not the point, Your Majesty."

"Relax. Hunith has your keys. All you have to do is go and let her feed you crumpets. You can bear it."

Merlin gave him a look. "You're not insulting my mother's cooking, are you?"

"It's considerably better than Gwaine's," Arthur answered with absolute if incomplete honesty.

He sensed he had not avoided suspicion, but he was saved by a dozen mid-sized humans who swarmed around them--no, around Merlin. Even the kids too young to be in Merlin's class called his name amidst babble about the school and the King, ignoring Arthur who was standing right there.

Arthur could not help grinning. He grinned harder when he spotted the bumbling blond teacher he had met that first day, mere minutes before he had met Merlin. She huffed and puffed as she caught up with the kids, a camera around her neck and five more dangling from her fingers.

"Excuse me, Your Majesty?"

He looked around, and then down. A girl half the size of her classmates looked up at him. "Hello, down there."

"I just wanted to say I'm sorry about your dad." She held up a handful of dandelions, wilting and a little dirty.

"These are the loveliest flowers I've ever been given." He took them and tucked them carefully in his lapel, heedless of the dirt on the stems and ducking his head to hide the sudden wetness in his eyes. "Thank you."

A warm hand rubbed over his back. He glanced up to meet Merlin's smile. "Elena's brought our top pupils from each year to watch. They're going to write essays on watching the school they've loved and grown up in get razed to the ground."

Arthur rolled his eyes at Merlin's cheek. "And rebuilt into a glorious palace of learning and fun, is how Mr. Emrys meant to finish that sentence."

"We teach our pupils not to rush to conclusions before all the evidence is in."

He had to make an effort not to grab the back of Merlin's neck and pull him into an affectionate embrace. Catching a glimpse of Gwaine horsing around with one of Elena's cameras, making her giggle and snort, provided a perfect distraction, both for Arthur and the more professional cameras that were always watching.

Chapter 5


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Cori Lannam

October 2017


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