Title: On Knife's Edge
Pairing/s: Arthur/Merlin (UST)
Summary: Arthur ponders the very precarious nature of his relationship with his manservant.
Word Count: 743
Prompt: #44 ~ Silence
Author's Notes: In my head canon, I'm imagining this happening sometime in S3 (pre 3x12, of course).
Sorry this is so late! I had a devil of a time with the prompt this week. This is the third attempt at writing for this prompt. It came to me as a brainstorm while I was at work yesterday, but had no time until this morning to write it!
On Knife’s Edge
Sometimes when he walks, I cannot but help watch the innate grace in the movement. His fingers, so long and delicate, so tender and soothing while straightening the collar of my shirt…smoothing the wrinkles from my shoulders. His lips, so full and lush, so rosy and soft; they are mesmerizing as they form his words. Blue eyes sparkle like sapphires, black hair shines like ebony. And all of it thoroughly, totally, completely off limits: untouchable, unattainable.
I know I do not suffer alone. It is in his eyes as he helps me bathe, in his touch as he helps me dress, in his actions as he remains steadfast and true, no matter the circumstance.
It is an unspoken burden we share; a silent truth left unspoken: look but don’t touch, want but can’t have. It is like a dance, pushing and pulling, waxing and waning. Always in each other’s orbit, but never colliding.
I long tried to deny it, but deep down I know I cannot. Even from our first meeting, I think I subconsciously knew. He is my other half, my soul’s mate. There will never be another to truly own my heart.
I’ve always been taught that to feel this way—to love a man, to want a man—was perverse, immoral, and wrong. Only deviants could possibly want such things. But when I’m near him, when I’m with him, it never feels like that. Instead, it feels more right, more true than anything else I’ve ever experienced. With him, and him alone, I can be myself…exactly who I am, no more, no less, and be accepted. I can be cherished; I can be loved, faults and all. With him, I feel complete.
And yet…I am the Crown Prince of Camelot. I have learned from a very early age what that means. My own wishes and desires must come second to Camelot and its needs. I have no siblings to further the Pendragon line; no one else to whom I could leave this legacy. It is only me and I know my duty. I must marry. I must procreate. I must have an heir, someone to leave my most prized possession: my kingdom.
He understands. He watches and waits, ready to step aside; ready to sacrifice all he’s ever wanted to another because he must, because we must.
Of course I know what happens between young men in the back rooms of inns, or between soldiers on long missions or quests. Despite the stigma, it happens more frequently than anyone would like to admit. And, in fact, if I chose to partake of such activities with my manservant, I am sure that most would turn a blind eye; the privilege of being a monarch.
But I don’t, and never have. Because what we share goes far beyond the physical… it is soul deep. Even though I know he would never deny me were I to ever ask, I could not bear to use him in such a way. I could not take this pure bond we share and turn it into something tawdry and cheap. And because I cannot offer him everything, I ask for nothing.
But oh, the temptation is there. It is there every single moment we are together. My fingers itch to touch, my lips crave to taste. I long to drink my fill of him and come back for more. I yearn to make him mine in every single way, and to be his…once, twice, forever.
Day after day, we balance on knife’s edge, forever acting out the beginning of a play that can never end. Sometimes we stumble, as humans often do, but the other is always there, grasping, steadying; ready with a friendly shove, a biting retort, or a “Shut up,” to help regain our fragile equilibrium.
I keep wondering if it is only a matter of time; if by denying us what we truly want I am simply delaying the inevitable. I only know that we keep trying each and every day, because I know that if we fall, there would be no going back. I could never give him up; I could never live without him.
So far, our combined strength of will has maintained our balance on the precipice. By the luck of the heavens or fate or whatever hand is guiding us, we have never had our moments of weakness at the same time.
Gods help us if we ever do.