Title: Ain't Nothing But a Heartache
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur is tactless, and Merlin is at a loss for words.
Warnings: prostitution, crossdressing
Word Count: 975
Prompt: #318 Naughty
Author's Notes: I'm not sure what I was trying to achieve with this. Sorry. It is genuinely awful.
The king is in an awful mood. Has been, really, since the day began — and not on a good note, Merlin thinks with a wince — and progressed, with him glowering at knights, courtiers, servants, and Merlin in turn, barely refraining from shouting at everyone for the crime of existing.
"Shall I clear away your dinner, sire?" Merlin asks, watching Arthur push around the mess of his leftovers, unrecognisable now, on his plate.
"Yes, you had better," Arthur answers, finally looking up at Merlin with an inscrutable gaze that somehow sends chills up Merlin's spine. "And be sure to return with a flagon of wine."
Merlin nods, bows — makes a run for it. And if he takes his time going back to Arthur's chambers, ambling and meandering his way through dusty, unused castle corners, he's well justified; at least until he realises he might just have exacerbated Arthur's strop.
"Why, thank you kindly," Arthur says, once Merlin has sheepishly shuffled into the room (late) and served Arthur an unnecessarily large cupful of red. "Sit down and have some, too."
Merlin starts in surprise; it's been some time since Arthur invited him to while away a lazy evening together, and though he'd rather be anywhere but in Arthur's line of sight given his current mood, his love for his king wins out (along with the thrill of watching Arthur unwind openly before him).
A half-hour of silent (nervous) drinking later, Arthur speaks.
"Sauciest thing you've done?"
Merlin splutters and nearly spills his wine over himself. That, of all things, was not what he had been expecting from tonight.
"Why do you ask?"
Arthur shrugs. "Curious. Haven't had the best day, thought talking about something bawdy might help.”
Merlin casts about for something to say. One thing comes to mind, but he cannot confess it to Arthur, he cannot, his heart clenches at the thought. "Well, I ask that my master volunteer an answer first."
Arthur sighs dramatically and swigs the wine before setting the goblet down and reclining in his chair, arms behind his head. His tunic is loosened at the neck and falls open to reveal the hard nubs of his collarbones — Merlin tears his eyes away before they can trail up to Arthur's mouth, trace the curve of his lower lip, the chap that he'd like to lick smooth and wet.
"Last month," Arthur starts. "I disguised myself and went to a whorehouse."
Well, there isn't anything particularly naughty about that. And Merlin knew about it anyway because — he gulps down some of his drink to avoid answering. Please don't let it be what he knows it's going to be.
"Since I needed a bit of respite from," Arthur waves a hand vaguely, "everything."
Merlin nods. Arthur is definitely talking about that thing, the thing for which Merlin followed him and —
"And I discreetly arranged to have a woman meet me in the furthest, quietest room." Arthur's eyes land on him, then, and Merlin in a moment of terrifying clarity knows that Arthur knows what Merlin did, and that's probably the reason he's been so distant with him and — fuck.
"I should go, it's late," he says very quietly, pushing his chair back, blood rushing to his cheeks in belated shame.
"Sit," Arthur commands, and Merlin drops back down as his knees give out in obedience. He can't raise his head as Arthur keeps talking.
"I paid the owner, went into the allotted room — found someone waiting for me.
"She looked lovely. I sound trite. But she was. Long dark hair and blue eyes, just like yours, Merlin, and eyelashes that she'd glance up at you through. Said her name was Marie. Painted lips, painted cheeks, painted eyelids, red, pink, rosy, and I couldn't see much of her in the candlelight but even then she was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen."
Merlin might just die from the humiliation burning him inside out.
"Don't know what I was going to do with her, but she blew out the candles and kissed me like she didn't instantly know who I was." There's some sound from Arthur's side — the scrape of a chair, fabric brushing as Arthur crosses his legs. "And I held her in my arms, brushed my hands over her flat chest, slipping her sleeves off her shoulders so I could bite them."
"And I got her bare after a while, and she had a cock, not a cunt. She wasn't a woman and apologised for the deception; needed the money, he said, trying to keep his voice high for me, to stay tender and shy even as I collapsed onto the bed.
"So I asked him to take off the false hair and then fucked into his mouth with my tongue, again and again until he melted into me — then I got him wet and fucked him, hard and slow, until he was crying into my chest and moaning my name as he clenched around my cock and came."
"I knew it was you as soon as I saw those eyes, Merlin,” Arthur whispers. "Why didn't you just — tell me? I could have raised your salary, gave you a loan, been your friend."
"That's not why," bursts out of Merlin. "That's not why I was there that night. I don't work there.”
Arthur frowns. Not as smart as he thinks he is, then. Merlin shakes his head. "That's not why," he repeats, in lieu of the truth.
"Then?" Arthur asks gently, already softening enough to reach across the table for Merlin's shoulder.
Merlin doesn't know how to explain jealousy, flagrant desire, the brush of a single chance flying from your fingers to someone like Arthur, who knows it all better than him. So he tilts his head, ear flush against Arthur's knuckles, and says,
"It doesn't matter."