Title: Why am I different?
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Merlin doesn't understand Arthur's behavior. He needs answers but is he ready to hear them?
Warnings: mention of sexual slavery
Word Count: 1096
Prompt: #94 Caring
Author's Notes: Thanks to derenai for the beta! Another part of my serie : "My Special One" .
Merlin had been in Camelot for three weeks now. Three long weeks. And he still didn’t understand Arthur’s behavior.
At first, he had thought the Prince would use him as his sexual slave but three weeks later and Arthur still hadn’t even tried to touch him. It didn’t make any sense for Merlin.
Arthur was really gentle with him. He had let him write to his mother every week, had let Merlin go to the library alone with a servant to choose the books he wanted to read, went to see him daily but never pressed him for more intimate contact.
Arthur had even taken him to town at least once a week but he still insisted that Merlin wore that leather collar as a proof he was his propriety.
Merlin felt more and more frustrated by all this. He was happy that Arthur hadn’t used him like the others but why keep him then?
It was just too much. Merlin needed some answers.
When the maid came to bring him his supper, he asked: “Mary? Can… Can I ask to see Arthur? Or do I need to wait…”
Merlin was never sure about what he was allowed to do as the rules didn’t seem to apply to him.
“Oh… I… In general, the toys can’t request for something like that but… Given that you’re Prince Arthur’s favourite, I’ll see with his manservant if I can do something.”
“Favourite?” Merlin repeated. Was that why he was treated differently? Still, that didn’t explain why Arthur didn’t want to have sex with him.
“You’re special, Merlin.”
“I… I know… Thanks, Mary.”
The maid left with a nod.
Merlin had just finished his supper when he heard a knock on his door. Nobody never knocked.
“Enter!” he yelled.
That was Arthur.
“You asked to see me? Is there a problem?”
“Oh… I… I didn’t think you’d come tonight,” Merlin confessed as he stood up.
Arthur came closer and gently put his hands on Merlin’s shoulders.
“Of course I came as soon as I knew you wanted to see me! So… What’s the matter?”
It was strange how Arthur gentleness always made Merlin feel warm.
“I… I wanted to talk to you.”
Arthur nodded and let go of Merlin.
“Let’s sit in front of the fire, we’ll be more comfortable,” the Prince suggested.
Merlin followed him and they sat on the furs in front of the fireplace. It was indeed very comfortable and Merlin relaxed.
“Arthur… Why do you treat me differently from your others… toys?”
That word still made Merlin angry and he hated it but he needed to know.
“You let me go outside the castle with you. You let me write to my mum… I know you don’t do this with the others.”
“Oh…” Arthur fixed his gaze on the fire and his shoulders tensed slightly.
Merlin decided to continue then.
“And… You don’t seem to… have sex with me,” he managed to say not without blushing furiously.
“I don’t want to force you and I know you’re not ready yet… I’ll wait as long as I have to.”
“I don’t understand.”
Merlin was even more lost than before. Arthur’s behavior was so strange.
“What if I don’t change my mind?”
Arthur finally faced Merlin. He looked troubled.
“Merlin, I just want you to be happy here in Camelot.”
Merlin didn’t know what made him lose his temper then, Arthur’s words or his soft expression. He really didn’t understand what he had made Merlin endure.
“Arthur, you nearly kidnapped me!” Merlin’s voice rose. “Camelot is not where I want to be and it will never be!”
“No buts! I don’t want to be your slave and I’ll never accept this fate! Whatever you do or whatever you say! Never!”
Merlin stood up and paced the room.
“I want my old life back! I want to live in Ealdor, peacefully with my mum!”
“I thought you were getting used to your life here,” Arthur said, shyly.
“I don’t have any other choice! It’s that or I’ll get mad!”
“So… You want to leave?”
“Will you let me?” Merlin asked suddenly calmer, a spark of hope appearing in his heart.
“I can’t Merlin… Even if I wanted to, I can’t! A noble never lets his toys go… Never. It’s the biggest disgrace! And I’m a Prince! If… If I did that, I’d lost my people’s respect… I can’t.”
Hearing Arthur’s words, Merlin finally understood. In his own way, Arthur was held captive, too. Prisoner of centuries of traditions, prisoner of his role as the heir to the throne.
Merlin came back to the fire and sat.
“You… You could change the tradition? Break the rules? If not now, when you’ll be King.”
“I don’t know.” Once again, Arthur looked away. “I’m not sure I’m brave enough.”
It was strange to hear Arthur confess his weakness like that and Merlin knew he was probably one of the few to hear the Prince say such things.
“Arthur… You still didn’t tell me why you treat me differently,” Merlin insisted.
“You really don’t know?”
Arthur looked at Merlin, surprised. Merlin shook his head.
“Because I care, Merlin…. Because I care about you more than I ever cared about anybody else in my life,” the Prince confessed.
Merlin saw the affection in his eyes. He wasn’t lying.
Merlin leaned against the Prince, only guided by his instincts and he didn’t try to escape when Arthur put his arm around him.
Never Merlin could have guessed that Arthur felt something more than desire for him. It didn’t change his mind about Camelot, his role as a toy or the fact that Arthur had taken him from Ealdor without his consent but for the first time, Merlin wanted to give a chance to Arthur.
They stayed cuddled in front of the fire, silent, for a very long time. But when Merlin was nearly falling asleep, Arthur shook him gently.
“Merlin… You should go to sleep.”
Merlin nodded and Arthur help him stood up.
“I’lll see you tomorrow? I thought we could go to the market.”
“That would be great.” Merlin smiled and Arthur smiled in return.
Just before Arthur walked away, Merlin held him by his wrist and, on an impulse, kissed his cheek.
Arthur looked surprise but he went out of the room without another look back. When the door closed behind him, Merlin let himself fall on his bed.
He finally had the answers he was looking for, he was still confused, though.