Pairing - Merlin/Arthur
Rating - PG-13
Summary - For kinkelot prompt: Restraints. Merlin is going to talk to him whether he likes it or not.
“Merlin, I think we should-”
“Sorry, Arthur, but I’ve got to run an errand for Gaius,” Merlin announced, cutting him off and making a break for the door.
“But we need to talk!”
Merlin feigned deafness, avoided making eye contact as he hurried out and slammed the door behind him.
Arthur sighed, frustrated. He and Merlin had been doing this same dance for weeks now; he would try and talk to Merlin and Merlin would make an excuse and run off. Merlin’s excuses were getting ridiculous, everything from running errands for Gaius to walking a friend’s dog (who Arthur had never heard of and wasn’t sure even existed). It was driving Arthur crazy; they needed to get this sorted out. He wanted the easy friendship they used to have back again.
(Three weeks earlier)
Merlin’s fever was still raging, causing him to toss and turn, occasionally muttering to himself. Arthur sat beside Merlin’s bed as Gaius left briefly to prepare a herbal relief, watching his servant with a tightness in his chest that he swore hadn’t been there before. He’d missed Merlin the past two days when he’d been ill, missed the snarky remarks and teasing. No, that wasn’t entirely it, he thought. He’d missed Merlin just being there.
Arthur hurried forward to Merlin, touching the side of his face lightly. “No, it’s me. Arthur.”
“’Don’t think I’m going to be at work today,” Merlin told him groggily.
Arthur shook his head. “That’s not why I’m here. I just wanted to see if you were alright.”
Merlin smiled then, turning over so that he rested on Arthur’s hand. “Better now you’re here,” he said, his eyes closing again. The last thing he murmured before falling back asleep was, “Love you.”
Arthur was left staring at Merlin, wondering if he’d just heard what he thought he had.
When Merlin’s fever had broken, he had denied remembering what he’d said, but Arthur knew different. He could see it in Merlin’s eyes. Unfortunately, whenever he tried to talk to his servant about it, Merlin fled. He’d tried to tell himself that it was a good thing, that he really did not need this kind of complication in his life, but he also knew he was only fooling himself. Fever or not, Merlin’s words had been the highlight of his year.
Well, enough was enough. Merlin was going to talk to him whether he liked it or not.
That night he crept into Merlin’s room, making sure he didn’t wake him. Gaius wouldn’t be around tonight as he was spending a few days with a friend outside of Camelot, which meant that no one saw him sneaking around in the middle of the night.
Merlin awoke when he felt a hand on his arm and opened his eyes to see Arthur watching him. The smile on Arthur’s face worried him almost as much as the fact that both of his wrists were tied securely to his bedposts.
“Arthur?” He tugged at the bindings and then glared at Arthur in the dim light that the candle gave out.
“Calm down,” Arthur told him. “I don’t want you to hurt yourself.”
“So untie me. I mean it, Arthur. Let me go.”
Arthur’s smile widened a little more. “No, not until we talk. This way I know you can’t run away to some dreamed-up emergency.”
The other man’s complaints stopped immediately as he shook his head, going silent.
“Fine; I’ll do the talking,” Arthur said. “I think- no, I know- that you’re attracted to me, Merlin. You even told me that you loved me and I am certain that you didn’t mean as a subject loves his Prince. Am I correct?”
Merlin looked away. “No,” he said softly
Arthur frowned. “I don’t believe you.”
“Why are you doing this?” Merlin asked.
Because I want you more than I should? Because I’ve been waiting for you to give even the merest hint that you reciprocated my affections before I acted, so as not to scare you away? Because… There were endless reasons, Arthur thought, but he needed to hear it from Merlin first. What he didn’t want to do, however, was to push Merlin into something he wasn’t ready for.
He hooked his index finger under Merlin’s chin to force him to look up. “Alright, Merlin,” he said with a sigh. “If you can look me in the eyes and tell me that you don’t want me, I promise to leave you alone, to never mention this again.”
Arthur watched the expressions flit across Merlin’s features, hoping that the answer was the one he sought. He would be true to his word and leave Merlin be should he say no, but Arthur hoped it wouldn’t be necessary. Still, Merlin remained silent. He hadn’t said no, Arthur thought, taking a chance and leaning over to press his lips to Merlin’s. For a moment Merlin froze before he relaxed, returning the kiss.
“Now are you going to stop being such a worry-wart?”
Merlin looked offended. “I wasn’t; it’s just… what are people going to think? I mean, you’re the Prince-”
Arthur laughed. “If Morgana is to be believed, we will just be doing what everyone already thinks we’re doing.” He could see Merlin open his mouth to say something more and kissed him again, effectively stopping him.
“Could you please untie me now?”
Arthur studied him for a moment. “Or maybe I could just keep you like this…”
“Arthur,” Merlin whined, and the prince gave in.
As soon as he was able, Merlin reached up to wrap his arms around Arthur, hands slipping under Arthur’s shirt and pulling him down for another kiss.
At around noon the following day, Gaius let himself into his house and put his bag down. Looking around, he frowned; Merlin’s bedroom door was shut, the rest of the house still undisturbed, the curtains closed. Merlin couldn’t still be asleep, could he? He was going to end up in trouble again for being late for his duties. With a sigh, Gaius headed for Merlin’s room, ready to wake him and send him on his way to work.
When he pushed open the door, however, he realised that at least one person wouldn’t be looking for Merlin.
Arthur and Merlin lay in each other’s arms, curled up together, fast asleep. A tangle of bedcovers partially covered them, leaving Gaius under no illusions as to who owned the clothes which were scattered all over the floor. Merlin shifted in his sleep and cuddled himself further into Arthur’s side, a happy expression on his face.
Gaius smiled to himself. Finally, he thought, as he quietly backed out of the room again, closing the door behind him.