Title: Hurtling towards the day
Rating: Nc-17 (series rating: nc-17)
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, George
Summary: Their bodies are united, but their hearts are not, still walled off by secrets and lies.
Warnings: Still more sex and angst.
Word Count: 940
Prompt: #67 Healing
Author's Notes: This is a short one. The stuff coming up is quite complicated, so it will take me a little while to finish, but hopefully the fireworks will be worth the wait.
You can find the rest of this series on AO3, or here at Camelot Drabble.
George manages to talk his way out of bed early without either begging or demanding; somehow he ends up trailing after Arthur as the King goes about his day, and Arthur has a vague memory of protesting, as well as a strong sense that it didn’t work. Though the man is sensible enough, at least, to delegate most of his heavier duties to others, leaving only Arthur's personal needs in his own care.
Arthur has ordered more guards in all inhabited parts of the castle, and conducts random sweeps of all floors, but they find neither hide nor hair of the sorceress. Arthur examines every face he passes for traces of ... something. What does a disguised sorceress look like? He recalls the old woman who stole the face of Lady Helen, the songstress, but at the time he didn't know to look for anything out of the ordinary, and by now, the details have been blurred by time.
He conducts his country's affairs from the throne, only to drift off in contemplation of Emrys' wrinkled old face. That too is getting harder to picture, though. He knows he found the old man's eyes familiar, but he can't remember why, or even what colour they were. Not that it matters; if she was disguised, perhaps she changed her eyes too. That's the problem with magic; it makes deceit so easy, and the truth so hard to find.
As planned, George finishes his duties early every evening, and slips out of Arthur's chambers just in time for Merlin to slip in. Merlin with a medicine bottle clutched in his hand. There’s only water in it, Arthur finds out on the first night.
Since they haven't seen each other all day, there will be some talk first, a bit of "how was your day" and "did you stub your toe? It's blue. What happened?", but the answers are usually more kisses than words.
They rut together, insatiable, like animals, the candles of their lives burning hot in their prime. Or so Arthur thinks, until he begins to realise that the heat is coming from Merlin.
The hand he presses to Merlin's forehead is not welcome. "Are you sick still?"
Merlin takes the hand and puts it somewhere more productive. "I'm fine," he says with a pointed and impatient roll of his hips.
But there is fever in his eyes, and a restlessness in his limbs that grows worse daily. Arthur does his best to soothe, running his hands all over Merlin as if he can wipe away his jittery energy like the Earth draws lightning out of the sky. He isn't sure if it works, but at least Merlin enjoys this.
Once, Arthur catches Merlin with a hand at his own ass, spidery fingers rubbing his hole and making himself gasp and buck as if it were a pussy. Arthur pushes those fingers away and replaces them, and rubs, rubs, rubs hard and fast until Merlin comes with a shout, spilling over his own fist.
"Next time," Merlin says drowsily as they lie together afterwards. "Next time, you can fuck me."
"I am fucking you," Arthur replies, tracing Merlin's cheekbone and wondering at the excessive sheen of sweat on his lover's pale skin.
Merlin rolls his eyes. "You know what I mean." He kisses Arthur lightly and gets out of bed, stretching. "I'd better get back."
The first few nights he had stayed until morning, but lately he has begun to leave earlier. While the sex is pretty fantastic, Arthur would trade it in if Merlin would just stay. He is there for the lovemaking, responsive and attentive, always eager, but the distance between them is growing anyway. The air around Merlin feels heavy, like in the days before a storm breaks out: full of anticipation.
Days and nights pass, until Arthur won't tolerate it anymore.
When Merlin tries to slip out of bed, Arthur wrestles him back in and rolls them around so Arthur is pinning Merlin with his weight.
"You will stay here tonight."
Merlin bucks, first to test Arthur's hold, and then more angrily when he realises he is trapped.
"I have to get back. I'm needed, Arthur!"
Arthur keeps his voice measured and firm. "I will send someone down to keep vigil with Gaius. Besides, you should be one of the patients, not the healers."
"I am fine!"
"You're burning up. You've been getting steadily worse for days!"
Merlin huffs, twisting stubbornly. "If I was sick, don't you think Gaius would have noticed?"
Arthur searches Merlin's face, but it's so hard to read. There is tiredness, overlaid by a stubbornness that has no doubt kept him going past his limit for some time. Happily, Arthur thinks he can still catch a glimmer of Merlin in there, his kindness and wit. But deep beneath it all ... is that ... fear?
Arthur lets go and backs away, sitting up on his haunches. Merlin sits up as well, rubbing his arms. "I don't want to go, Arthur, but I am needed."
Arthur's frustration boils, but he keeps it down. "Go then," he says, looking away. "But I will talk to Gaius in the morning. He will accept more help. I won't let this go on."
He startles as he thinks he catches, in the corner of his eye, Merlin's face contorting into a mask of rage and frustration. When he turns his head, though, it's gone. Merlin's eyes are shuttered, his expression blank.
"Very well, Sire."
Arthur watches as Merlin pulls his clothes on, all gangly limbs in the moonlight.
To think ... in two days it will be Christmas.