Warnings: explicit sex, mentions of pseudo-prostitution.
Word Count: 4615
Disclaimer: I own nothing of 'Merlin'. Nor, I have to say, would I want to; I much prefer telling fun and filthy lies on LJ. ^_^
Summary: When Merlin needs money, he tries the oldest trick in the book to get it. Arthur disapproves, but he's not above taking advantage of it. (And it all turns out alright in the end, anyway.)
(OK, sod it, look - in my head, the summary for this one is 'Prostitution is the world's oldest profession (but Merlin, dear sir, is nothing like a professional)'. This is what you get for listening to far too much Cobra Starship. It rots the brain, kiddies!)
AN: Written for this request from lies_d, who won a story from me at help_japan: Arthur spies Merlin having sex with one of his knights for gold (maybe Merlin needs to send some to his mother or something). The next day Arthur tells Merlin he should have gone to him first, and offers him all the gold he needs for one night of sex. They spend the night together, which goes so well that it's obviously the first night of a long relationship. Honestly, I'm not sure it's exactly what you were looking for, but I hope it comes close? Thank you for your generosity, and also your lovely prompt - I had huge fun writing it!
Frozen at the sight, all Arthur could do was stare. Really, it wasn’t as though he’d never seen his knights taking a tumble with a servant before, but it was – it was unthinkable that he was seeing what he thought he was seeing. He couldn’t be.
Gwaine’s trouser’s were half down, and he was thrusting up into his partner, grunting as his partner’s finger’s tightened in his hair, pulling Gwaine towards him even as he wrapped his legs more tightly around Gwaine’s waist. For a long moment, Arthur stared at those long pale fingers, and carefully didn’t imagine them tangled in his own hair, didn’t imagine that he was in Gwaine’s place, with Merlin hoisted onto a windowsill in a disused part of the castle, legs round Arthur’s waist as Arthur – Arthur cut that train of thought off viciously. It was none of his business. Merlin was his servant, his friend, not his lover. No matter how betrayed Arthur felt, Merlin was doing nothing wrong.
If Merlin preferred Gwaine to Arthur, well, that was clearly a significant lapse of judgement on Merlin’s part, one of many, he thought, gathering feigned indifference round himself like armour. And he wouldn’t interfere. If Merlin felt he couldn’t tell Arthur that he preferred Gwaine, well... that hurt more, but Arthur would let it go. They didn’t share everything, after all. They were – friends, he thought. But they didn’t giggle and gossip like Morgana and – Arthur shied away from the thought yet again. Damn, he thought fiercely, and damn again. This whole thing was complicated, and it stirred up things Arthur thought he’d had well-buried.
Merlin cried out, drawing Arthur’s attention back to the scene in front of him. Merlin’s head was tipped forwards against Gwaine’s shoulder, dark hair even less tidy than normal, long neck exposed, and Arthur wished it could be him who turned his head to kiss at the skin there, as Gwaine was doing, wished it could be him who stroked a hand down Merlin’s thin back, wished it was him with Merlin.
He should really leave, he thought, leave them to it.
He stayed, and he watched.
“So,” he said to Gwaine later, at supper, when Merlin (a slight hitch in his walk, damn him), had poured him his second glass of wine, served him his food, and was standing out of earshot, “you and Merlin, eh?”
Gwaine didn’t start, but then it took an awful lot to faze Gwaine. He’d only been one of Arthur’s knights for a month or so, and Arthur knew that already. “No, sire,” he said simply, and speared a piece of venison.
“Oh, come on, Gwaine,” Arthur said, trying to make his tone ribbing rather than testy, “I saw you, you know.”
“Whatever you saw,” Gwaine said, calm unimpaired, “was a favour for a friend.”
“Do you often favour your friends-” by shoving your cock into their arse, Arthur had been about to say, and he briefly regretted drinking his first glass of wine so quickly, “-that way?” he finished smoothly.
Gwaine grinned. “Merlin’s always been special, my lord.” His eyes flickered as though he knew something Arthur didn’t.
Arthur ignored it. “That’s one way of putting it,” he agreed dryly. “So, just scratching an itch of his, then?”
“No,” Gwaine put his cup down firmly, wine sloshing just a little. “Arthur, is this bothering you?”
“Bothering me?” Arthur forced a laugh. “What Merlin gets up to irritates, amazes and baffles me, Gwaine, but he rarely manages to really bother me. But,” he added on noticing Gwaine’s sceptical look, “I will admit to some curiosity. Indulge me.”
“He needed gold,” Gwaine said, after a pause during which he searched Arthur’s face intently. He seemed to have found whatever he’d been looking for.
Arthur choked. “And you asked that in return?” he asked, almost demanded.
Gwaine waved an impatient hand. “Of course not, what do you take me for?” he asked, irritated. “If it’s within my power to give it to him, Merlin only has to ask.” Arthur filed that information away for later perusal, trying to work out the strange note in Gwaine’s voice as he said it. “No, it was his idea. He said he couldn’t take what I could give him without – paying me back.”
“I see,” Arthur said, though he didn’t, not really. The wine was buzzing behind his eyes, and he found the whole thing a little difficult to take in. “What does he need this gold for?”
“I didn’t ask.” Gwaine looked down at his plate. “Something important. I gave him what I had, and if I had had more, I would have given him that, too. I don’t think it was enough.”
Arthur glanced away from him, out across the hall to the place where Merlin was laughing at something another servant had said. For a moment, he found himself staring again, then Merlin glanced his way, eyes meeting his. Arthur immediately looked away, ears burning. “Not enough?” he heard himself say, distantly.
“I don’t think so,” Gwaine said, unusually serious. “And I don’t know who he’ll go to next.”
“Lancelot, probably,” Arthur said, trying to make a joke of it. “I just don’t understand why he didn’t come to me.”
“Arthur,” Gwaine’s voice was amused. “Merlin won’t take what he doesn’t think he’s earned, and I don’t think he thought he could ever pay you back. Not in any way you would know about, anyway,” there was a twist to his words that Arthur couldn’t follow, and he didn’t bother trying to.
I would have taken what he offered you, he thought, but even he thought less of himself for it. He offered Gwaine a smile he was a long way from feeling instead. “How much did you give him?” he asked instead.
“What I had,” Gwaine said, clearly not about to talk about his finances with Arthur, which was, Arthur supposed, to be expected. Especially from Gwaine, who was even more fiercely independent than Lancelot.
“Gwaine, Merlin is my body servant,” he said, and didn’t let himself get close to thinking of the double entendres there. “I will cover his expenses, and pay back any debts he owes.”
“He doesn’t owe me any debt,” Gwaine said stubbornly. “He paid it back.”
“I would prefer he didn’t decide to take that up as a sideline,” Arthur said, trying to sound lofty and aloof and suspecting he only really managed to make himself sound like the arrogant prince Merlin was always saying he was.
Gwaine just laughed, more than used to Arthur’s ways by now. “He won’t. And I won’t let you pay me back the money I gave him. I would have given it to him as a gift if he’d let me, but since he didn’t, getting it back from you would make what he did seem worthless.”
Arthur couldn’t see it like that, but he let it go, unable to get his own logic straight in his mind in order to refute Gwaine’s. “Fine,” he waved a hand. “Whatever you like.”
“Talk to him,” Gwaine advised, looking away, out over the hall. “See if you can get it out of him. He – Gods know why, Arthur, but he likes you.” And was that jealousy in Gwaine’s voice, under the amusement? “He might tell you.”
Definitely jealousy. Arthur stored that thought away.
He left it that night, too drunk to risk it, though not half as drunk as he let Merlin think. Letting Merlin think he was drunk meant that he could let his arm fall around Merlin’s skinny shoulders when Merlin escorted him back to his bedchamber. He could let himself make a couple of suggestive comments, and allowed himself to stare at Merlin in a way he’d never dared let himself do before.
Merlin didn’t seem repulsed, but then Arthur supposed he wouldn’t exactly have let on if he was.
The next night, though, when Merlin brought him his evening meal, Arthur brought it up.
“Gwaine,” Merlin glanced up sharply at the name, “tells me you’re having money troubles.”
Merlin shrugged. “Nothing I can’t work out, sire.”
“There is a word,” Arthur said carefully, “for what you did, and it’s not a nice one, and I don’t know what they do in Cendred’s kingdom, but in Camelot it comes with a considerable punishment.”
Merlin didn’t flinch. “Gwaine did me a favour. I did him a favour back.”
“And who will you ‘do a favour’ for next?” Arthur wanted to know. “Lancelot? Percival? Leon?”
Finally, Merlin flushed. “I don’t know,” he muttered, refusing to look up. Arthur relented a little.
“What do you need this money for, Merlin? Why couldn’t you-” come to me, he wanted to ask, to demand, but Merlin wouldn’t take that well. “earn it up in the usual way?”
“My mother,” Merlin whispered, and Arthur wanted to kick himself, because of course it was Merlin’s mother. “She isn’t well, and the cure – Gaius can make it, but it’s – it’s expensive, and I- he couldn’t afford it outright and I can’t – but she needs it. My father is dead,” sometimes Arthur thought everyone in the kingdom had secrets they were keeping from him, because even though what he said could be nothing but outright fact, Merlin sounded like Gwaine had the night before, like he had a secret he would never tell Arthur. “I can’t lose my mother, too.”
“Why couldn’t you come to me?” Arthur asked, ignoring one hurt in favour of another. “I would have helped, you know I would have done.”
Merlin looked at him blankly. “What could I have done in return?”
Been here, everyday, Arthur wanted to tell him, every day since we found out about Morgana, since I lost my sister and my father in one stroke. Been a friend when no one else dared to be. Been everything I didn’t know I didn’t have, and everything I could never have begun to realise was missing. But he said none of it. Instead, he said quietly, “I have obligations to you, as my servant. This would count as one of them.”
It didn’t, but he was willing to bet Merlin didn’t know that, and Merlin wasn’t the only one who could have secrets. Arthur would never tell him.
Merlin looked at him, and smiled. Arthur was shocked to realise it was the first time he’d seen him smile in days. “I can’t just take money from you,” he said simply. “I can’t, Arthur.”
“Then,” Arthur said, mouth dry, “give me what you – you repaid Gwaine. You can repay me the same way. But only if you want.”
Merlin stared at him, and Arthur thought for one heart-stopping second that he’d just shattered the best thing in his life. He was king in all but name, but sometimes it felt like Merlin was the only thing keeping him from going as mad as his father.
Then Merlin’s face split into a grin, wild and a little crazy, and Arthur reflected that there were kinds of madness that were in no way as damaging as his father’s. “I would like to,” Merlin said. “It would be – if you’re sure –but I don’t-”
“Merlin,” Arthur said, over-patient in the way he sometimes was with him, “one thought at time.”
“Afterwards,” Merlin promised, and took a single step towards Arthur. Suddenly, Arthur couldn’t breathe.
“What did you – what are you doing – Merlin?”
“One thought at a time, Arthur,” Merlin said with a grin, suddenly so much closer, one hand coming up to Arthur’s shoulder.
“How much do you need?” Arthur asked, trying to regain control of the situation and himself.
Merlin’s grin softened into a smile. “Anything you can give me,” he said, and leant in to kiss him before Arthur could even begin to formulate a response.
Merlin was, it turned out, a fantastic kisser, and Arthur groaned into his mouth, wrapping his arms round Merlin’s skinny waist and hauling him closer, until Merlin pulled back, tipping his head back and laughing, for no reason that Arthur could divine. It didn’t matter; Arthur found himself grinning foolishly along with him, bending his head to kiss at Merlin’s throat. It was him, now, not Gwaine, who could do this, and if it was only for one night, then he would make the most of it.
Merlin twisted back, blue eyes hot with lust and intent, and drew Arthur into another longer, hotter kiss, biting at Arthur’s bottom lip until Arthur pulled back, licking over the sore spot unconsciously, thrilling a little at the throb of pain.
“What do you want?” Merlin leant in to ask, breath whispering against Arthur’s ear. “Do you want to fuck me or have me suck you off? Anything, it’s yours, anything you want.”
“I never-” Arthur began to say, then had to clear his throat before he continued. “I never did teach you to walk on your knees.”
Merlin grinned, and slid his hand down the front of Arthur’s breeches, feeling his cock through the soft cotton. “Now?” he asked, pulling back a little, and Arthur seized the opportunity to regain the upper hand.
“Unless this is inconveniencing you, Merlin, then-” but Merlin was already sinking to his knees, and Arthur’s brain shorted out on whatever he wanted to say. “That’s good,” he managed inanely, then Merlin was pulling Arthur’s cock out of his breeches, sliding them down halfway, just as Gwaine’s had been when he’d fucked Merlin, and – Arthur tried not to think about that. The last thing he needed was to think about someone else having Merlin, especially when he had Merlin right now.
Merlin didn’t bother with finesse, it seemed, sucking the head of Arthur’s cock into his mouth with enthusiasm and swirling his tongue over it before pulling back. Arthur’s brain went blank as he watched Merlin lick the palm of his hand then slide it down over Arthur’s cock; the sensation coupled with the image Merlin presented, on his knees in front of Arthur, lips already red and shiny, was even more than Arthur had been expecting.
Merlin jacked him a couple of times experimentally before he leant back in again, and slid his mouth down over Arthur’s dick, his mouth meeting his hand, still loosely clasping him. He looked up at Arthur, his eyes mischievous, then he sucked, tongue working the bottom of Arthur’s cock. Arthur’s vision when white, and he came with a strangled shout, without warning.
When his vision cleared, Merlin was sat back on his heels, looking remarkably smug. Arthur would have been irritated, but his come was trickling out of the corner of Merlin’s mouth, and really, he couldn’t find it in himself to feel anything other than rather smug himself.
Then Merlin wiped the come away with one long finger, and licked it off, a thoughtful expression on his face, and lust made itself known again.
“Did I meet with your Highness’ satisfaction?” Merlin asked, still with that look of smug satisfaction, and Arthur raised an eyebrow at him. (If he was honest with himself, he was rather proud he had the coordination to do so.)
“For the moment, Merlin,” he said, going over to his bed and sitting down, stretching his legs out in front of him with a passable display of unconcern. “I intend to get my money’s worth tonight, you realise.”
If anything, Merlin just looked smugger. “I wouldn’t dream of giving you anything else,” he said, with surprising sincerity. “Everything, Arthur.”
Arthur looked away for a second. “I should- I mean, you need to – don’t you?”
“If you mean, do I need to come,” Merlin said simply, “then you’re a little behind times, sire.”
“You mean-” Arthur started, baffled.
“I quite like cocksucking,” Merlin said, in the same way that a normal person might announce that they quite enjoyed flower-pressing. Arthur took a moment to himself to ensure that he didn’t choke again.
“Clearly,” he said, once he had full control over himself. “Well then, you’d better get yourself out of your soiled things.”
“Soiled, is it, your Highness?” Merlin said cheerfully, getting back up off his knees and beginning to untie his dreadful neckerchief. Arthur found himself transfixed by those fingers again, and only looked away with an effort of conscious will.
“Soiled,” he echoed himself weakly, kicking off his boots as Merlin bent to take off his own.
Piece by piece Merlin’s clothes fell away, until he was left naked and utterly shameless in front of Arthur, who had equally little shame in looking his fill.
“You’re-” beautiful, he wanted to say, but didn’t know how it would come out. “Too skinny,” he said instead. “Maybe you should take your evening meal in here. With me. Gaius can’t be feeding you properly.”
Merlin looked entirely too knowing for Arthur’s comfort, and came towards the bed with a smile. “Gaius feeds me just fine,” he said simply, “but I would like that, sire.”
“Arthur,” Arthur muttered as Merlin sat next to him on the bed, hand hovering a moment over Arthur’s naked shoulder. The first touch of Merlin’s hand against his bare skin sent a shiver through Arthur, and he stood to shuck off his already-undone breeches, reversing their positions and standing bare in front of Merlin.
“You’re beautiful,” Merlin said simply, and Arthur smiled weakly.
“Honestly, Merlin,” he said, but it lacked conviction. “I am manly and rugged and handsome. Not ‘beautiful’. Have you been reading Geoffrey’s fairytales again?”
Merlin smiled. “You’re all that, too – don’t let it go to your head.”
Arthur smiled back, feeling a weight lift off him as they bantered back-and-forth, one he hadn’t known he’d been carrying. He was the Prince and almost the King, and he was no longer a brother, and he was barely a son anymore, but Merlin didn’t care because he didn’t want him to be any of those things. He wanted nothing more from Arthur than Arthur knew he could give.
Merlin lay back on Arthur’s pillows, long thin limbs sprawled across the fine linen, and Arthur’s breath caught in his throat for just a second. He clambered onto the bed on top of Merlin, feeling awkward and clumsy for moment before Merlin pulled him down on top of him with a grin. “Come here,” he whispered, and Arthur let himself relax into him, let Merlin pull him in for a long, wet kiss.
Desire burnt low in his belly, and Arthur ignored it, knowing that nothing was going to come from it for at least a little while longer – he wasn’t a teenager any more. Lust wasn’t the most important thing in his mind just now. For the moment, he had Merlin in his bed, and he was going to take the time to savour it whilst the need to come wasn’t driving his actions.
He kissed down Merlin’s pale neck, enjoying the way Merlin let his head fall back, his eyes shut, loving the way his breath was coming in heavy pants, bordering almost on moans as Arthur bit into his skin and marked him, where even his stupid neckerchiefs couldn’t hide it. Tomorrow morning, everyone would know what Merlin had been doing, and maybe they’d know that he’d been doing it with Arthur.
Arthur hoped they knew Merlin had been with him. Maybe everyone would back off then, and leave Merlin to him.
It was a heady thought, which sent desire pulsing through him again, making his toes curl into the covers. He slid his hands under Merlin and cupped his arse, fingers digging into the muscle, and relishing the surprised hitch in Merlin’s breathing.
“Gorgeous,” he whispered against Merlin’s skin, and caught Merlin’s mouth in a filthy kiss before Merlin could say anything in retaliation.
Merlin didn’t try to say anything, whining in the back of his throat, arms around Arthur’s neck, arching up against him. He was a wonderfully solid presence under Arthur, bone and muscle reassuringly real and firm under Arthur’s hands. It wasn’t even just the presence of another body in his bed – Arthur had had enough of the servants to recognise the difference between having them with him for the night, and having Merlin there. Merlin pulled no punches, gave nothing to Arthur that Arthur hadn’t earned first. It made Arthur want to cling on tighter, haul Merlin in closer – so he did exactly that.
He could feel himself getting hard again, and he fumbled around on the bedside table, ignoring Merlin’s wordless sound of protest at the distraction as he grasped the bottle of oil he kept for occasions like this.
The first finger he slid into Merlin got him a shout, and Merlin threw his head back, eyes shut, as Arthur thrust it against the spot inside Merlin that he knew would get exactly that kind of reaction.
“Is that what you want?” he asked, hardly recognising his own voice. “Is that what you wanted?”
Merlin didn’t reply, but he opened his eyes and stared at Arthur, the blue almost eaten up with the black of his pupils. “More,” he demanded, and his voice was reassuringly hoarse.
“Maybe I’ll make you wait,” Arthur retorted, even as he slid another finger into Merlin, who whined, writing against him. “Maybe I’ll keep you like this, fucking yourself on my fingers, until you come, and then I’ll fuck you.”
Merlin whined low in his throat, and Arthur took his time scissoring him open, enjoying the way Merlin arched every time Arthur hit that spot inside him. He wondered, with vicious pleasure, whether Gwaine had taken this much time with Merlin.
By the time he added the third finger, Merlin was almost sobbing with need, his cock hard and leaking against his stomach. A litany of ’please, please, please’ was falling from his lips, and Arthur took slow pleasure in corkscrewing his fingers inside him, watching as Merlin squeezed his eyes shut, unable even to beg.
“Enough,” he managed, when Arthur went to add another finger. “Enough,” he said again, “I’m ready, Arthur, fuck me, please, you can – please, please fuck me-”
Arthur was all too willing to obey. Watching Merlin react like that to just his fingers had made him desperately wonder what Merlin would look like on his cock. Slicking himself up, he slid into Merlin with almost ungainly haste, the hotwetgood of it drawing a groan from him. Merlin’s eyes flew open, and he moaned, arching frantically into Arthur.
“More,” he demanded, his voice shot, “more, more, Arthur, I need more-”
Arthur thrust once, powerfully, into him, and grinned as Merlin whined. “Is that what you want?” he asked, thrusting again. “So desperate for it, aren’t you, Merlin? Or is it the money turning you on? Do you always play the whore for it, Merlin?”
He’d meant it for a joke, but Merlin’s eyes flew open again, boring straight into Arthur. “It’s you, Arthur,” he said simply, and Arthur couldn’t even fathom doubting him for a second. The thought sent a hot spike of lust burning through him, hot in his belly, and he sped up his thrusts, words dripping from his lips that he would never have even thought himself capable of.
“So hot, Merlin, so tight around me, would do anything for this, you – you’re - Gods, Merlin!”
He came shouting Merlin’s name, and allowed himself a few seconds to enjoy the afterglow before he pulled out, ignoring Merlin’s disappointed little noise.
Sliding down the bed without a second thought, he gave Merlin’s cock a faintly wary look, then glanced up at Merlin. “I, er,” he started, awkward. “I haven’t done this before. So.”
“Arthur,” Merlin said, like it was an answer, a begging note in his voice. Arthur had had many people come to him and expect him to be able to solve his problems, but Merlin sounded like he couldn’t have doubted him if he tried.
Gingerly, Arthur licked a stripe up Merlin’s cock, then, emboldened by Merlin’s gasp, the way his toes curled into the sheets, he sucked the head into his mouth – and nearly choked as Merlin came then and there.
“Some warning,” he said, swallowing hastily and pulling back, “would have been nice.”
“Sorry,” Merlin said, sounding anything but. In fact, he sounded sleepy and warm and amused, and Arthur crawled back up the bed to lie beside him. His arm crept around Merlin’s waist of its own volition, just as Merlin apparently curled into him without conscious thought.
“How much money do you need?” he asked, after a few minutes of silence, and Merlin sighed into his shoulder.
“Twenty florins,” he said. “I have ten from Gwaine.”
“You prize your services highly, I see,” Arthur said, meaning it to sound mocking. Unfortunately, he sounded entirely serious.
“Are you saying you haven’t had your money’s worth?” Merlin asked curiously.
Arthur sighed. “No,” he said simply. “I’m – I’m happy that we, that this-” he broke off, frustrated with himself. “This was – everything I could have hoped for and more,” he said finally. “But I would have given you that money without ever asking anything in return.”
“That,” Merlin said carefully, “was why I couldn’t ask you.”
Arthur considered this. “That makes no sense, Merlin.”
“It does to me,” he said.
“Oh, well, so long as it makes sense to you,” Arthur said, gently mocking.
“I didn’t have anything I could offer you,” Merlin said earnestly. “Not that I didn’t already do. I can’t just take from you. I had no idea that you’d want this as much as me,” that Merlin had wanted it too sent a quick fizz of happiness through Arthur, though at this point it didn’t surprise him, “and I had nothing else that I could give you. Not that you’d want, anyway.”
“You give me-” Arthur cut himself off before he made a fool of himself.
“What?” Merlin demanded. “What do I give you?”
Arthur tightened his arm round him and tried to think of a way to finish that sentence which didn’t incriminate himself. Finally, he gave up. “Everything I want,” he said, defeated.
Merlin smiled into his shoulder, and leant up to press a kiss to his lips, gentle and quite unlike all the others they’d shared so far. This kiss wasn’t doing anything. It just was.
“That’s good,” Merlin said, an aching sweetness in his voice. “Because you’re pretty much everything I want too.”
Arthur didn’t trust himself to reply, just gathered Merlin closer, and pressed a kiss to his hair. Merlin seemed to get the message.
Merlin fell asleep long before Arthur, and Arthur stayed awake long into the night, pretending to himself that he wasn’t watching over Merlin. He wasn’t doing an especially good job. Now that he had Merlin, he would never, ever let him go. It was worth a few hours of lost sleep to make sure that he never had to.
When he glanced down, Merlin was slack-jawed and fast asleep, his face relaxed and utterly unlovely in repose, but now Arthur could understand the madness his father had been fighting off for so long. If anything happened to Merlin, he thought, he would go after whoever was responsible until there was nothing left of them. His father’s madness made so much sense. Arthur shivered, and wrapped himself into Merlin, trying not to think about it.
Merlin slept on, apparently oblivious to Arthur’s quandary, a warm and reassuring weight against him, and finally Arthur let go of his fears and fitted himself more snugly against Merlin. Whatever happened, he thought as he drifted off into sleep, they would face it together. His father’s madness was not his own; Merlin would see to that.