Title: Faint Fondness
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: He should hate him. He should. But somehow... He couldn't
Warnings: Slavery/sexual slavery
Word Count: 998
Author's Notes: Paranoid rating for themes more than actual content.
Merlin found himself propped up on one elbow as he stared down at the sleeping face of his master. Now would be the prime opportunity. He had been waiting for an occasion like this since the very first time he was dragged into these chambers. Arthur was asleep and vulnerable. Even he couldn’t protect himself if he didn’t see it coming. There was a knife on the table, all Merlin would have to do was slip out of bed, seize it and plunge it into the prince’s heart. He could make it quick and painless… and then he would be free.
But Merlin couldn’t.
For however many months he had been a prisoner here, bound to Arthur’s chambers by the magical chains on his ankles and the collar around his throat. He had fought, screamed, thrown tantrums and tried to kill Arthur more times than he cared to count, only to have the prince block his every move. So he had calmed down. He found that he was telling himself so that he could just bide his time, but he knew deep down that wasn’t the case. It was easier to be calm. It was simpler and as Arthur began to trust him a little, Merlin had found that life wasn’t so bad after all.
He couldn’t think like that.
He had been given to the prince to serve his every need. Magic-users all across the land had been enslaved in the same manner to anyone with money. Merlin knew that the High Priestess, Nimueh, was just as helpless as him as she writhed in the king’s bed. He was powerful, therefore he had been gifted to royalty. It was like an obscure game; the more power that was being restrained, the more they were worth. It didn’t matter if he was the most powerful or the weakest, once the iron collars were on, they were all the same.
He had heard stories about how sorcerers were treated and had been filled with a wild terror when the guards had forced him into Arthur’s room. Yet the prince hadn’t touched him. He had just looked at him with something that resembled sorrow and ordered a bath and food for his new possession.
Merlin had thought it was a trick for months. He didn’t trust that Arthur didn’t want him. He watched the man bathe, he saw how his body reacted when Merlin washed him with swift strokes, resisting the urge to force his head under the water and holding him there.
But Arthur had never touched him.
Until almost a month ago.
But Merlin knew that even then it was nothing to do with the prince truly wanting to. Well, he might desire it, but he wouldn’t have pressed Merlin to the bed with apologies dripping from his lips if it wasn’t for the king. He had somehow got word that his son hadn’t been using his toy as he should be and demanded that Arthur rectified that immediately or the king would take possession of Merlin. Arthur had looked horrified and Merlin knew that the stories surrounding Uther’s cruelty were not lies.
So it was with an audience of his father and guard or two that Arthur had been forced to bed him. But he had been gentle. Ignoring his father’s demands that he got on with it, Arthur had taken his time. Merlin had decided he hated him even more by the time that it was over because he had got as much enjoyment out of it as the prince had.
But deep down, he knew it wasn’t hatred he was beginning to feel. Arthur was as trapped into this as he was, and if that had been anything to go by, he was even trying to protect the sorcerer gifted to him. It was only three days after that when Merlin had overheard something that had changed his mind about Arthur forever.
The prince had been having a muffled conversation with the blacksmith. It seemed they had been working together for months to try and find a way to remove the chains from the sorcerers. That was the only way they would truly be free. It was that night Merlin had dropped to his knees willingly. Arthur had looked astonished, but his slave didn’t exactly give him much time to protest before he set about taking Arthur apart.
They had fallen into some sort of awkward friendship (with benefits) since then. Merlin found he didn’t mind serving Arthur in such a way, especially as the prince always made sure he got as much out of it as the royal. Merlin stared down at his sleeping face, realising how Arthur must trust him to a certain extent. There was no way he would be sleeping peacefully with a warlock practically chained to his bed otherwise.
Was he right to trust him?
Merlin found his eyes flicked to the knife and then back to the prince. Sighing – and hating himself for not fighting back – he yawned and snuggled back into the crook of Arthur’s arm where he had been sleeping peacefully. Reaching up, he brushed a stray lock of hair away from Arthur’s forehead and felt a sense of pride in doing it. How could he kill a man who had protected him?
But as Merlin let his eyes drift shut, he knew it was more than that. He wasn’t just grateful to Arthur. Instead, he knew he was beginning to feel something more. They sparked off each other and Merlin knew they were more than good together when they coupled. They quipped and argued, they laughed and ranted. He wasn’t just Arthur’s slave, he was his friend.
And as the prince let out a soft sigh in his sleep and pulled Merlin closer, the slave knew he wasn’t just sparing him out of gratitude. He had genuinely become fond of the man over their months together. Unless he was much mistaken, Arthur felt the same.