Title: This Bed of Roses
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Morgana
Summary: The sheriff's harlot they called him. Merlin remained proud despite the ridicule.
Word Count: 1k
Prompt: #317: tender
Author's Notes: I started this last week, but couldn't finish in time due to schoolwork, so I've mixed both prompts, overindulge + tender. Oh, and there's that one line I totally stole from Cold Mountain ;)
Dusk was near by the time Arthur could slip away from his duties. Behind the mountains, the sky was pink and orange, the desert's oppressive heat no longer suffocating, sun and sand clung to him. He crossed the town at a brisk pace, avoiding horses, carriages and whispers. When he was in front of the saloon he pushed the doors open with familiarity.
The air inside was heavy, smoke replaced dust. It was relatively quiet, only a couple of tables were occupied, and one of the regulars was at bar nursing a bottle of cheap whisky. Arthur tipped his head in greeting, getting no response back. He kicked at the paneled wood with his boot, drummed his fingers on the bar.
Morgana appeared before him, one eyebrow raised. "Back so soon? I swore I saw you sneak outta here this morning."
Arthur rolled his eyes. "Could I have something to drink?" He asked, irked by Morgana's insinuations. His proclivities were no secret, but often he wondered if others pitied him and took him for a fool.
"If you're so kind."
She moved swiftly, taking a bottle and glass that she filled. Arthur drank it in one gulp, wanting to relieve his thirst, drown the desert. Morgana's eyes never strayed from him.
"I've been thinking," she began, "we should establish a new bartering system, exclusive between me and you. Seeing as you enjoy our accommodations and my beautiful doves rather often."
"Dove," he said, taking a nugget of gold from his pocket and throwing it at her. Morgana caught it easily.
"You're my favorite client, Arthur," she said, smiling too much.
Arthur snorted. "You like my money, you mean."
She gave him this strange look, less predatory, softer, almost gentle. He bit the inside of his cheek, it was possible she pitied him more than anyone.
Arthur was so caught up in his thoughts he barely registered Sophia approaching, until she pushed her body against his, her corset pushed up her breasts, drawing attention to them, her short skirt revealed a flirty peek of her garter.
"Hello," she said, her dulcet tone velvet soft. She batted her eyelashes, her fingers ran up and down the silver badge on his chest. "You know, if you said the word I'd be your girl. I know how to please." Her breath was hot on his skin, her other hand was moving dangerously low. Arthur caught it before she could reach her objective.
"I apologize, I'm afraid I cannot accept your offer," he said.
"You should stop wasting your time. I'm much better."
"Sophia," Morgana said in her best authoritative tone. Sophia straightened up, chin raised in defiance. With a simple shooing motion Morgana got rid of her. Sophia sauntered away, her pretty features pinched into a scowl.
"You should head upstairs, he was in a rotten mood earlier. Maybe you can do something about it," Morgana said pointedly. Arthur left before he could ask what she really meant.
The door to the last room at the end of the hall flew open before he could knock. Out came Gwen, slipping past him giving him a meek smile.
"She came to warn me," Merlin said, holding the door open for him.
The bed was unmade, as if Merlin hadn't bothered that day. A few candles were burning. He was dressed in a silk robe, with a flower pattern, his hair unruly. Arthur took off his long coat, hanging it on the back of a chair. "Warn you?"
Merlin crossed his arms, his jaw clenched. "She said Sophia was trying to steal you away. Again."
Arthur rolled his shirt's sleeves up to his elbows. "Ah, that. Morgana came to my rescue."
Merlin sighed and filled a basin with water so Arthur could wash his face and hands, and handed him a cloth. He went though the motions, sitting down on the bed to take his boots off, stopping when Merlin didn't join him. He was quiet, unnervingly so. His face clouded like a stormy night.
Arthur ran a hand through his hair. "Come here."
Merlin stood stubbornly away from him. He wouldn't relent. Arthur reached out to grab the robe's belt and pulled, satisfied when Merlin was standing between his legs.
"You should know I'm only here for you."
Merlin nodded, avoiding looking him in the eye, still unconvinced.
"No one, but death, could take me from you," he said, honest and raw. He couldn't lie nor hide where Merlin was concerned. One corner of Merlin's mouth lifted.
"I'm sorry. I just hate-- I don't like it how it feels when I think you might favor another," Merlin said. Arthur understood, he'd be driven mad if someone else dared to lay a hand on Merlin. It was an unspoken truth that since the first night they spent together, Merlin had saved his nights for Arthur. The sheriff's harlot some called him. Merlin remained proud even in the face of the ridicule.
"Let's forget about her and everyone else. Why don't you tell me where you got this instead." Arthur untied the knotted belt, under the robe Merlin was stark naked. "Were you waiting for me?" He pressed an open mouthed kiss on the heated skin of his belly, licking at it with the tip of his tongue, the muscles clenching under his touch.
"Got it from Gwen," Merlin answered, his breath hitching. "And I'm always waiting for you."
Arthur hated hot days but the heat of Merlin's body was addictive. He dragged his nose up and down, Merlin's smell stirring all his senses, his cock was growing hard. "I want to taste you, been thinking about you the entire day, how I want to fuck you in every surface in this room." Merlin's fingers tangled in his hair, kept him there, close, worshipping him.
"Yes, yes, anything you want."
Merlin nodded, eyes closed. "Marry me."
Arthur instantly knew it was the wrong thing to say. Merlin stiffened, making to move away. Arthur stopped him with his arms around his waist. This had been a point of contention between them for months, Merlin's answer always was, you don't want to marry a whore.
"Please, forget what I said. Just let us be together tonight and the next, and all the rest."
Merlin dropped the robe, and straddled him. His arms going around Arthur's neck. "That is all I want."
They kissed with fervor, Arthur's tongue inside Merlin's mouth, licking and tasting. Arthur moved them to lie on the bed, Merlin spread beneath him, lips shiny and red.
Arthur quickly found the oil they kept around, slicking his fingers on it. Merlin spread his legs, licked his lips, wanton. Arthur settled between them, licking around his navel, down to his pubic bone, two of his fingers teasing his entrance.
"You better do something," Merlin said, pushing against his fingers.
"Always so impatient."
Without warning Arthur took him in his mouth, his fingers finally inside him, he loved the desperate, incoherent sounds spilling from Merlin. His hips jerked like didn't know which pleasure to seek, if the wet heat of Arthur's mouth or the ruthless pace of his fingers inside him.
Merlin came with a cry, Arthur swallowed every drop he had to offer. Merlin hissed when he pulled off and out. Arthur kissed the inside of his thighs, mouthing words on the skin. He laid his chin on Merlin's sweaty stomach.
"I don't need I savior," Merlin said in the quietness of the room. His fingers carded through Arthur's hair absentminded.
Arthur looked up at him, his eyes were brilliant blue. "I know and I don't intend to be. My only intent is to be with you." Arthur kissed everywhere he could reach. "Come away with me."
Merlin drew in a sharp breath, his fingers stopping their movements, eyes searching Arthur's face under the glow of the candlelight. He offered a hand, dragging Arthur up until they were face to face.
"I marry you, I marry you, I marry you," Merlin whispered.
Arthur smiled against his mouth.
Outside the window the heat was extinguished by the moon, rattlesnakes played with prey, and the stars shone down illuminating the trails, inside that little room on a far away western town a promise is made.