Title: Twilight Comes
Summary: When Arthur wears his crown, Merlin sees a new side of him.
Word Count: 875
Prompt: 18 Gold
Author's Notes: This prompt allowed me to use something I'd started a long time ago. Takes place when Arthur is still prince. Um, I planned a higher rating but ran out of time and words. :D
“Glad that’s over,” Arthur said to Merlin as he swept into his quarters, red cloak swirling behind him. Uther had charged Arthur with leading delicate trade negotiations with a neighbouring kingdom. The meeting had required the utmost in pomp and circumstance. Watching the proceedings, Merlin couldn't help beaming with pride. Arthur looked every inch the prince, from the gold circling his head to the proud bearing of his stance. Merlin was struck by the gleam of the golden crown, how it transformed Arthur's whole demeanour, gave him a gravity he didn't have otherwise. Arthur didn't wear it often, only for formal occasions. The way it lit up his whole face made Merlin wish he'd wear it all the time.
Arthur hadn’t given an inch in the negotiations, obtaining every concession his father required from the other kingdom. At the end, Uther had clapped Arthur on the shoulder and given him a rare compliment, his pleasure in his son’s accomplishment tugging his mouth into an unaccustomed smile. Merlin grinned at that. Maybe Arthur would actually mutate from prat into a proper royal at some point, he thought.
“Draw me a bath, Merlin. It’s time for a good long soak,” Arthur said wearily, perching in the window for a breath of fresh air.
“Yes, sire,” Merlin agreed with uncharacteristic enthusiasm.
“Sire?" Arthur asked, eyebrow cocked. "Are you quite all right, Merlin? You don’t seem yourself.”
The fact was Merlin couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. Here he was, working for the future king, right at his side. For the first time, he felt pride in his position, practically in awe at being so close to the seat of Camelot's power. He didn't feel like engaging in their usual banter. "I'm fine," he said, still grinning. The waning sun made Arthur's crown sparkle and his skin and hair glow almost as if lit from within. The blue of his eyes mirrored the lapidary shade of the dusky sky.
Arthur wiped his face with his hand and closed his eyes for a moment, leaning heavily against the window frame. Merlin came over to him and put a hand on his shoulder. Arthur was tight, practically radiating tension, so Merlin began to dig his fingers into the taut muscle. Arthur smiled at him and even deigned to put his hand on Merlin's. "Feels good," he said. His eyes lingered on Merlin's and Merlin felt a surge of warmth all over.
It should have been awkward. Instead it was as if they were stepping over a threshold. Merlin became aware he was holding his breath, his pulse quickening under Arthur's gaze. His fingers stopped moving, yet Arthur's hand remained on his. Under the pretense of shifting his weight to lean against the wall next to the window, Merlin inched forward so his body was closer to Arthur's, his chest just an inch or two from Arthur's back. Now he could absorb the heat of Arthur's body, watch his breath lifting the stray hairs on Arthur's head, lit up golden by the sun.
Arthur didn't move away, even though he had to feel how close Merlin was. He actually seemed to settle a fraction closer to Merlin as he turned to look at the sunset's kaleidoscope of colours. "It's beautiful, isn't it? I've always loved Camelot at sunset, the view over the towers, the town and countryside spread below."
"Yes. It's lovely." The closeness of their bodies, the growing darkness, Merlin's pride in Arthur, all compelled him to speak in a quiet, intimate tone. In response, Arthur's fingers swept lightly over the sensitive skin between Merlin's fingers. The touch was delicate, teasing; Merlin’s breath quivered in his throat. He wanted to press closer but he wasn't sure what Arthur would allow, what his touch meant. He curled his fingers more tightly around Arthur’s shoulder and Arthur’s hand pressed down in response, their fingers fitting together.
Wordlessly, Arthur leaned back into Merlin, slowly, at first the merest brush of his back against Merlin’s chest, so Merlin could feel the points of his shoulder blades. But the pressure kept coming, with more weight, until finally Arthur’s shoulders fully enfolded in Merlin’s chest. Merlin had no choice but to wrap his arms around Arthur’s chest. They both sighed, as if something long sought for was finally attained. Merlin felt a sense of deep contentment. Arthur’s scent filled his nose, whiffs of horse and steel and a whisper of wind caught in his hair. Arthur filled Merlin’s arms perfectly. His strong chest and muscular arms seemed to fit naturally in Merlin’s slightly taller frame, his long arms.
Their breaths flowed softly into each other as their bodies molded together, Merlin’s chest finding the curve of Arthur’s back as the day flowed into night, the brilliant oranges and pinks of sunset fading into indigo. Merlin ventured a small kiss into the hair behind Arthur’s ear. “My king,” he whispered.
“Not king yet,” Arthur replied.
“No,” Merlin said. “But you will be. And then everything will change.” With a whisper of gold, the night folded around them.