Eurydice (eurydice72) wrote,

Fic: The Men They've Become (Arthur/Merlin)

Wow, I think I actually did schmoop this time. And I know I said I wasn't going to write Merlin fic for the last schmoop_bingo prompt, but this fit well enough that I wanted to do it.

I find it ironic that while my shipper heart lies elsewhere, I've managed to write another Arthur/Merlin ficlet, lol. This started out as a response to a prompt over at kinkme_merlin, but it didn't quite get there. It just felt too complete as it is to add anything more.

TITLE: The Men They've Become
PROMPT: Soulmates
PAIRING: Arthur/Merlin
LENGTH: 900 words
SUMMARY: Set in the far future, when Arthur is King and Guinevere has left him for Lancelot.

The Men They've Become

There are days he yearns for the body of his youth, when his reflexes were unparalleled, his muscles hungry for every demanding moment of battle. He had fewer scars then, both visible and not, and time had not yet bargained for his unflagging strength and won. He could face a day of countless clashes, and be poised and ready for the next, come what may.

But Arthur only makes these silent wishes by the light of the sun. Because the night reminds him why he accepts the mantle of time passed.

His shoulders are slumped as he trudges the last few steps to his chambers, his armor heavier than the norm. Few believe Camelot’s king should continue to join the fray, but his knights are already stretched thin, and these skirmishes too vital to their ongoing peace prevailing with the neighboring realms. Nobody utters their opinions aloud, of course. It would be a waste. Arthur only listens to one counsel anymore, and that particular voice remains mute on this subject.

A single lit candle flickers within his room, but its soft amber glow soothes the uppermost layer of tension holding Arthur’s body prisoner. He will fight for as long as it takes, provided this is his bounty when he returns. His gaze slides automatically to the room’s periphery, as a shadow separates from the wall.

“You’re late,” Merlin says.

“I know.” He rests the dented gauntlet he’s carried all the way through the castle on the table. “Gorvenal was run through on the field. I stayed to make sure he was all right.”

“And is he?”

“He’ll live. That’s the important thing.”

He remains still as Merlin steps behind him, silent as the years that have passed since they first met. His hands are much surer than they’d been in the beginning, though, and while Merlin is no longer a servant in anyone’s eyes, he refuses to allow the task of Arthur’s armor to fall on any other shoulders.

Arthur bows his head as the first piece comes free. His bones are weary, and the prospect of his bed more appetizing than the finest meal from the kitchen. Merlin senses this – just as he has always sensed it – and takes more care than usual in stripping Arthur down, the tips of his long, graceful fingers wisps across Arthur’s nape, knobbed knuckles brushing across his aching back. Item after item joins the gauntlet on the table. Neither Merlin nor Arthur speak.

Neither of them have to.

When he stands there in just his sweaty shirt, he catches Merlin’s wrist before he can gather everything up. His fingers go completely around the slim joint, so delicate, so frail, and yet, Arthur knows the falsehood in both perceptions. “Stay.”

Merlin’s free hand rests on Arthur’s upper arm and squeezes. “Of course.”

At the wash of warm breath across his neck, Arthur shudders and sighs. He does not always ask, though Merlin spends more nights with him than not as the months march on. And though Merlin has never refused, each time Arthur hears that low-pitched affirmation, relief so powerful it burns rushes through him. He doesn’t know what he would do if Merlin ever said no. He’s grateful he doesn’t believe Merlin ever would.

He guides Merlin to the bed, the blankets already drawn, and pauses when he feels a fragile kiss along the side of his neck. His head tilts, allowing Merlin to take more, but Merlin only chuckles and gives him a light shove.

“Even exhausted, you’re insatiable.”

Arthur sits on the edge of the mattress, his mouth pursed into Merlin’s favorite pout. “I’ve gone all day without seeing you. I think that makes me incredibly patient.”

“Whatever you say, sire.”

Arthur is ready to retort about Merlin’s insolent tone, even if the words themselves are appropriately respectful, but it chokes in his throat as the candlelight outlines Merlin from behind, creating a soft nimbus around the still-dark hair. His silhouette as he removes his clothing is all angles, but Arthur knows that once he’s joined him in bed, the harsh lines will merge perfectly with his. That, more than playing some childish game that never fails to amuse either one of them, is what he desires, what he needs. He follows Merlin’s lead and is naked and ready by the time they are both secured beneath the blankets.

Merlin props himself up on one elbow, a knee thrown casually over Arthur’s legs. “You should sleep. You need the rest.”

Part of what Merlin says is true. His observations usually are. But there is more he is missing, and Arthur is not in the mood to acquiesce so easily.

“I need you more.” He grasps Merlin’s thigh and tugs. That small motion is all that is necessary for Merlin to roll on top of him, his weight welcome, his heat more so. The light doesn’t travel this far, and now, the face he loves is a cast of shadows, unfathomable to anyone who isn’t Arthur. He strokes the hard line of Merlin’s cheekbone. Smiles for the first time that day. “Where would I be without you?”

“Lost. Just as I would be.”

They move together, mouths meeting in between. The shackles of Arthur’s day fall away, and he opens to Merlin’s kiss, knowing they are not the boys they once were, glad instead for the men they’ve become.

baby – feeding
cuddling by the fire
day at the beach
romantic holiday
baby – shower
playing instrument
unexpected date
baby's first holiday/celebration
blind date
lazy Sunday
shower together
nurse back to health
cuddling in vehicle
first fight – making up
anniversary – one partner sick
feeding – erotic

Tags: fic, merlin, merlin/arthur, schmoop

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