Summary: Merlin's skin never lies... or, when Merlin falls out of bed.
Warnings: None :)
Word Count: 667
Author's Notes: Sometimes I seem incapable of writing anything other than fluff xD
Arthur rolled over in his bed, one arm resting languidly across the soft expanse of quilt and cushion, searching for the boy who had fallen asleep beside him. There was a moment of weighted silence, where his fingertips came into contact with nothing but more fabric, and then the Prince’s eyes snapped open, and he sat up, tousle-haired and salty-eyed.
On the floor, in a tangle of nightshirt and lanky limb, lay Merlin. How he had come to be there was anyone’s guess, as he snuffled around the foot of the bed, shivering lightly without blankets to cover him.
“Merlin?” Arthur spotted the boy on the floor, and his voice was scratchy, raw in his throat before it slipped past his lips, “dammit, what are you doing?”
“Hmm?” Merlin curled up tighter, a content, hazy smile curving those pink lips.
“You are absurd,” the Prince said, with a sigh, “please don’t tell me you fell out of bed.”
“’kay,” was the mumbled reply, followed by a surprised gasp, and a fluttering of heavy eyelids, when Arthur fastened his fingers around Merlin’s forearms and tugged him back up onto the bed.
Merlin was Arthur’s manservant, and the one who slept in his bed, curled against his chest at night, those bright blue eyes comforting in the way that they were filled with dreams, long before he drifted off to sleep.
Merlin was Arthur’s manservant, and it was tricky to decide what his other titles ought to be.
“So you didn’t fall out of bed?” Arthur pressed, running a hand through Merlin’s sleepy hair, ruffling it and then pushing it back off of his forehead, which was smooth; worried creases worn away by recent rest.
“Well,” Merlin grinned, and then yawned, “I might have. Not my fault though; you kick too much.”
“I do not kick,” Arthur growled, and then leaned quickly backwards, with a roll of his eyes, when Merlin decided to stretch so widely that he almost hit the prince in the face (“careful!” “sorry!”)
Then, when Merlin had rid all the obvious signs of slumber from his body, Arthur cupped his face in his hand, one strong thumb running over the slighter man’s jaw, his rigid cheekbones, his lips.
The skin beneath Arthur’s touch was smooth. Merlin shaved close, and there were no traces of stubble beneath his calloused thumb, although lower down, on his neck, there was a faint rash.
“You really ought to have those kerchiefs cleaned more often,” Arthur chided, inspecting the red mark, which grew darker when Merlin blushed.
It always intrigued Arthur, the way Merlin reacted to certain things. Once, Arthur had thought he could read Merlin’s face like a book but, as time went on, he had learnt that wasn’t always true. Merlin could lie, and he could do it well. His face might be readable, but the boy often left it open on the wrong page; letting people only see what he wanted them to, and not necessarily the truth.
His skin however, and the blood which flowed beneath it, hid nothing.
The white lines on his face mirrored the cracks in the floor, telling of where Merlin had slept; the rash on his neck a result of rough, chafing material; the burns on the tips of his ears and nose clues to how he had spent yesterday working beneath the sun. Arthur was sure that, if he lifted Merlin’s shirt, he would find the beginnings of faint bruises, proving how he had fallen during the night.
Merlin’s skin was incapable of lying, and right now the heated, unfurling blood, which rose in a pretty blush in his cheeks, colouring his pale skin, was a message in a language only Arthur had taken the time to learn.
He smiled softly, leaning closer, almost nose to nose with Merlin, who couldn’t help but love being within Arthur’s grasp.
It was the crimson of pleasure and the early morning flush, which prepared the Prince for when Merlin licked his lips, tasting his own melting tiredness, and then pressed them to Arthur’s.