Rating: PG-13 (or maybe light R)
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: “Are you daft?” Arthur asks, gesturing down at himself, because apparently being in the bathtub means one loses the ability to feed themselves. “Peel one and give it to me.”
Warnings: none that I can think of!
Word Count: 917
Author's Notes: I SWEAR I'LL STOP POSTING NOW.
It has been established many a time that Arthur Pendragon is a complete and utter prat.
To be fair, over the years he’s grown from that stuck-up bully of a prince Merlin first met, but that’s not really saying much. Sometimes Merlin thinks it’s akin to a maggot’s metamorphosis into a fly; taking something unappealing and turning into something a little less so, but still annoying as ever.
Okay, maybe it’s a bit cruel and uncouth to compare the King of Camelot to a mere insect, but Arthur should feel lucky he’s not being labeled as dung in Merlin’s mind after today. Ignoring the fact that Morgana and her cronies could be lurking outside the city walls at any moment, Arthur had hauled Merlin out of his nice, warm bed to face a not-so-nice, cold morning hunting trip. On which they catch absolutely nothing, even hours later when they finally head back. It’s apparently all Merlin’s fault for “traipsing around the forest like a wounded doe”, and certainly not because Arthur missed every target he had been aiming at. Though, that’s unusual in itself, if one actually thought about it.
(And yes, Merlin supposes one could also suggest that him constantly making anguished faces at the idea of defenseless woodland creatures being slaughtered for enjoyment might have been slightly distracting, but it’s never seemed to bother Arthur before. It certainly didn’t prevent him from wounding the unicorn that one time.)
After the morning excursion that has stretched into the afternoon, Merlin is famished from missing both breakfast and lunch. But as soon as they return to Camelot, he doesn’t get a moment’s respite before Arthur barks at him to fetch his meal from the kitchens. To make matters worse, the king is apparently in the mood for Merlin’s personal favorites, and Merlin somehow manages to keep his mouth watering because of all the heavenly aromas.
He’s unable to keep his stomach from growling at the most inopportune moment however, apologizing profusely to one of the scullery maids and trying to explain that, no, that was not him acting untowardly to her, but just his gut trying to digest itself. There’s no need to screech about impropriety to poor, starving Merlin.
Grumbling about misunderstandings and dollop-heads that are the root cause of them, Merlin pushes open the door of the royal chambers with one hand, balancing the tray of delicious-looking food on the other.
And stops shortly at the sight of a very naked Arthur stepping into a tub of hot, steaming water.
“Merlin, what have we discussed about knocking?” Arthur huffs, rolling his eyes as he sinks down into his bath, and a pang of longing bursts inside Merlin as he watches. Whether it’s because he could use a bath himself, or he could use an Arthur in his bath, he’s not quite sure. Instead, Merlin shrugs, struggling to keep his tone nonchalant. “I’m sure you’ll have to enlighten me again sometime. Should I send your food away until you‘re finished?”
“No need for that.” Cupping water in callused hands, Arthur washes the day’s grime off his face before waving Merlin over. “You can just feed me while I‘m in here.”
“…You’re joking.” It doesn’t matter that hand-feeding Arthur has been a secret desire of his for awhile now, Merlin can’t help but feel that Arthur is taking advantage of the situation.
Of course, that’s soon revealed to be the case exactly. “Did you forget, Merlin, that point of being a servant is to serve? No wonder you’re so horrible at it.”
…Ohhh, Arthur definitely does not want to hear Merlin’s response to that. Biting back bitter retorts, Merlin unceremoniously shoves a bowl of grapes forward. “Here you go, sire.”
Arthur looks at Merlin like he’s being the unreasonable one here. “Are you daft?” Arthur asks, gesturing down at himself, because apparently being in the bathtub means one loses the ability to feed themselves. “Peel one and give it to me.”
When the hell did Arthur get so fussy? Muttering about the waste of perfectly good skin, Merlin does as instructed and holds a bare, succulent globe up for inspection.
What Merlin does not expect is for Arthur to lean forward and retrieve the grape with just his mouth, teeth brushing against Merlin’s skin in a way that sends jolts of electricity down his spine. He draws his hand back as if it’s been burned, but Arthur is just gazing at him expectantly with darkened pupils. “Again.”
There’s probably some slivers of skin still left on the next grape Merlin haphazardly unsheathes next, but Arthur doesn’t seem to care, his lips enclosing over the tips of Merlin’s fingers this time. When Merlin tries to pull away to get another, Arthur’s hand shoots out of the water to grab Merlin’s wrist and hold him in place. A needy whine escapes from somewhere deep inside Merlin as Arthur’s tongue darts out to lap at the sticky juice coating Merlin’s thumb. And when he actually starts to suck, humming softly as he does so, that’s when the bowl of grapes goes clattering to the floor.
“Now,” Arthur growls lowly, his eyes brazenly focusing on the growing bulge in Merlin’s breeches, “You can eat the meal I had you grab as an apology for dragging you out this morning, or you can join me in the bath I had someone else fill, since you always tend to gripe about it.”
In his haste, Merlin ends up falling into the water half-clothed.