Summary: “Show me,” Merlin breathed, nosing at the visible skin of Arthur’s neck, tongue flicking out slightly, just brushing wet beneath his jaw. Arthur shook his head, slowly.
Warnings: None :)
Word Count: 756
Author's Notes: Sleepy!Merlin is my favourite thing right now and it's ridiculous- I can't get away from him xD I was intending to write some Merlin/Arthur/Gwaine, but all that came out was Merthur. Ahh well. Hope you like it :)
“Go to sleep, Merlin,” Arthur was propped up on his elbows, watching Merlin tottering about the campfire, peering at each of the knights in turn, checking that they were asleep, and dragging rough blankets further up, to their chins, where necessary. The prince frowned when Merlin spent an especially long time making sure that Sir Elyan was warm enough (the man had sustained an injury to his left arm whilst hunting, and Merlin had gotten it into his head that he was the one who ought to be keeping them all in good health).
“One minute,” the manservant called back, softly, eyes lifting to linger on Arthur’s face for a moment. The affection swimming in the blue of his gaze was startling in its openness, and Arthur felt his chest constrict slightly.
“Okay,” his reply was just as quiet, but he continued to watch, trying not to feel jealous when Merlin moved on to Percival, and then Leon, before finally walking to where Arthur lay, and curling up against his side, breathing white onto his armour. It couldn’t have been comfortable, lying pressed against the metal, but the young man’s sighs were of contentment, as he lay cocooned in the prince’s iron embrace, long white fingers tracing patterns on his breast plate.
“Show me,” Merlin breathed, nosing at the visible skin of Arthur’s neck, tongue flicking out slightly, just brushing wet beneath his jaw. Arthur shook his head, slowly,
“Not today,” he murmured, and the boy curled beside him could hear the apology, laced beneath his words. Still, the disappointment was greater than it ought to have been: Merlin knew that Arthur hadn’t come away from the hunt today unscathed, and yet he was not being allowed to help; to break the metal plates from the prince’s body, and press kisses to the old white scars. Then he would rub salve, or wrap bandages around the fresher wounds, draping himself over the older man’s body, keeping him safe. Keeping him warm.
But not today.
“I want to see you,” Arthur stated, but it came out like a request, or a demand, his words brushing over the shell of Merlin’s ear, who stiffened, shivering against the silver cold which encased the man beside him.
“Why?” he asked, raising his head a little, trying to find the reasoning in Arthur’s expression. He merely shrugged,
“You know every line on my body off by heart,” he smirked when Merlin blushed, “I know you do. Now, I want to see you.”
It wasn’t a proper explanation, not really, but Merlin understood. Something warm rose up inside him, as he moved to sit cross-legged, and pulled his neckerchief from round his neck, and then his shirt over his head. Arthur wanted to know him, and Merlin would let him.
With his top half bare, the boy found himself shaking uncontrollably from the cold, teeth chattering as his arms moved automatically to wrap around himself.
“No,” Arthur sat up too, and pulled Merlin’s hands away, “I’ve got you.” He assured, waiting till Merlin nodded before releasing him, and then looking.
The scars were there: spaces filled with marble till they were overflowing, raised bumps on otherwise perfect flesh. They surprised Arthur, and it was with awe that he allowed himself to touch them, revelling in feeling Merlin beneath his fingers, anger writhing just beneath the blue of his veins, as he wondered how each one had been made.
There were enough so that the hair which grew on Merlin’s chest was sparse; scattered unevenly around the damaged skin. One day, Arthur thought, as he traced the largest scar, one that was obviously a burn, centred on his chest, he would ask his manservant to tell him. To tell him why he wasn’t as unblemished as a baby, as he should be.
That thought was adamant in Arthur’s mind: Merlin should be untouched, and unharmed.
When his eyes rose back to Merlin’s face, the prince could see the discomfort etched there, pinched into the lines around his mouth. He pressed a soft kiss to the boy’s lips,
“You’re lovely,” he muttered, as they broke apart, noses touching. Merlin still shook, and Arthur snatched up his shirt, to pull it back over his head, watching in amusement as the skinny thing burrowed down into the material, smiling sleepily.
“You too,” he said, after a moment, before pulling Arthur down with him.
Above them, the moon winked and stuttered, its glow reflecting the colour of the scars which mark men’s skin, and make them beautiful.