"And she couldn't have gone out for them herself?" Arthur asked sourly, while unsaddling his horse and dropping his bedroll on the ground.
"Chivalry is truly dead," Merlin muttered under his breath.
"What's that, Merlin? Speak up! People might think you were talking to yourself and you know what that means, don't you?" Arthur asked scornfully.
"That I'm having an intelligent conversation for once?" Merlin asked, not in the mood for Arthur's bullying tactics. Besides, he'd known him for long enough now to just speak his mind. At least when they were on their own.
"They'd think you were a fool, and what do you mean, for once?" Arthur stalked toward him. "We have intelligent conversations, you and I, or at least as intelligent as you can handle them."
Merlin just smiled even wider. He loved being able to get under Arthur's skin like this. "I'm smarter than you think," he replied, using flint and a tiny bit of surreptitious magic to start the camp fire. "So, did you find any?"
"Any what?" Arthur grumbled. He was hot, he was tired and the leather trousers he had put on this morning were chaffing in unmentionable places.
"Badgers, you prat!" Merlin shot back. "What did you think I was talking about? Fairies?"
Despite what Arthur had said, Merlin had not been idle. He'd managed to collect a ton of firewood as well as the flowers. He's also tracked, cornered and killed a pair of small serkets and destroyed their nest, and all without alerting Arthur to the fact that he was doing it all with magic!
Arthur snorted. "You wouldn't know a fairy if it bit you on the nose."
It wasn't lost on Merlin the way that Arthur checked over his shoulder. Heh, Merlin knew perfectly well that Arthur had a strong dislike of fairies. Not because Uther had banned magic, but because one actually hadbitten him when he'd been a small child. It was possible he'd never forgive the whole fairy population such a transgression.
"Would too, and because my manners are better than yours, it wouldn't bite me in the first place," Merlin said sweetly.
Arthur came up to him and stood close, glaring Merlin down, although as per usual, that had no effect whatsoever. One would think, that by now, Arthur had learned this lesson, right?
Merlin startled a little when the ominous sound of thunder in the distance broke the tense silence between them.
"Right, of course it's going to start raining any moment now," Arthur said with a sigh, his menacing stance slumping. "Just perfect."
"There's an old ruin not far from here," Merlin said, trying to remember where.
"That's right!" Arthur said with a grin, slapping Merlin's shoulder so hard that it made him stagger. "Occasionally something intelligent does come out of your mouth."
"Be still my heart, for I do not believe I can handle such praise," Merlin said drily, but he kicked dirt over the newly lit camp fire, making sure it was out before he gathered the flowers and his own bedroll and went over to his horse.
As fate would have it, the rain hit before they reached the shelter, and by the time they had tethered the horses under an overhang, they were both soaked to the skin. Merlin wished he'd thought to bring some of the firewood he'd gathered earlier. There was not much more than rubble and old leaves surrounding the ruin. One room was relatively intact, and even had a door hanging by one hinge, but at least there was a roof, albeit one that leaked. There were also a set of rusty shackles hanging from one wall, making Merlin wonder what the hell sort of place this had been.
They threw down their damp bedding in one corner and huddled under Arthur's cloak until their teeth stopped chattering.
"Stop fidgeting!" Merlin complained. "You're causing a draft!" Arthur just fidgeted even more. Merlin sighed and poked him in the ribs with one bony elbow. "What's wrong with you, Arthur? Have you got ants in your pants?"
Arthur jabbed him back with less bone, but more force. "For your information," he said imperiously, "wet leather is incredible uncomfortable. My trousers feel two sizes too small."
"Take them off then," Merlin teased.
But of course, Arthur was not one to let such a challenge go by unanswered. "Good idea, Merlin. But I'll need your assistance to peel them off."
Merlin's look was comical, if not very flattering.
"Erm, on second thought, you might catch a chill if you take them off," Merlin said, wincing at his own tone of voice.
Arthur had slipped out from under the cloak, standing over Merlin, his hands on the fastenings of his trousers. He stared down at Merlin, one corner of his mouth lifting, then the other following. "They're wet, Merlin, I'll surely catch a chill this way. You are my servant, and it's not like you've never helped me dress before."
Merlin swallowed hard. He'd helped him dress, but not normally undress. That at least the crown prince seemed to be capable of quite fine. A thing, for which, Merlin had been eternally grateful for since he'd realized that his body had some pretty severe reactions to naked Arthur. A view, as much as he loved it, he avoided coming across like the plague.
He liked his job and he liked his head on his shoulders.
Arthur leaned in, planting one hand flat on the wall above Merlin, putting his crotch right at Merlin's eye level.
"Ah, bugger," Merlin muttered to himself, glad the cloak covered his own dick, currently trying to dig itself out of his trousers.
"I'd really like to wait with that till we get somewhere with a bed," Arthur teased, and Merlin's hands froze on the fastenings, fingers digging into the already stiffening and drying leather.
"Um.... you... pardon?" he stuttered, sure he must have misheard. Arthur could not seriously have just suggested they shag when they got back to Camelot. He stared at Arthur's crotch, addressing his next comment directly at Arthur's dick. "Have you suffered a blow to the head I don't know about?"
Above him, Arthur made a noise that Merlin could only call chuckling. "I'm up here," Arthur said, catching Merlin's chin with a crooked finger and forcing his head up so that he had no option but to look Arthur in the face. "Is the thought of bedding me so hideous to you, Merlin?"
Merlin gulped, well aware that he was in a very compromising position with his fingers still tangled in the lacings of Arthur's trousers. And he could feel the heat radiating from Arthur's groin on his face. It was... distracting. "Um... well, no. It's not hideous, exactly. More like... unbelievable?"
Arthur frowned. "Look, I know that compared to the likes of Gawain, I'm not much to look at but..."
"Hang on, hang on!" Merlin interrupted. "Let's not bring Gawain into this. Or at least not to begin with. I'm sure he'd be up for it though, as he's up for most things. But before we get all side-tracked and adventurous, I want you to know that you are way more attractive than Gawain."
"Really?" Arthur preened. "In what way?"
"Don't push your luck, prat," Merlin replied, shoving Arthur backwards so that he sprawled on his back on the cold stone floor.
"Ooh, pushy, are we, Merlin?" Arthur practically purred, sitting back up to snag Merlin's shirt and pulling him down on top of him.
"You're fishing for compliments," Merlin gasped, trying to catch his breath as Arthur's move had knocked the wind out of him. "You know better than that."
"Do I, Merlin?" Arthur asked, suddenly serious underneath his smirk. "You mouth off at me at the best of times and where I know I make an impression on other people, I'm never quite sure with you."
"You made an impression on me from day one, you arse, just not a particularly positive one," Merlin admitted, nuzzling at Arthur's jaw, breaking their eye contact. The look in Arthur's eyes had been far too serious for Merlin to deal with on top of the admission that Arthur wanted to....
Ah, yeah. And the fact that Arthur's dick was digging into Merlin's thigh. Merlin rocked forward, pressing his own erection against Arthur's hip, bringing his thigh up harder against Arthur's straining trousers.
"Oh, what you do to me, Merlin, you idiot," Arthur muttered, running fingers dirty with dust from the floor along Merlin's cheekbone. "If you only knew."
Actually, Merlin was getting a pretty fair idea of what he was doing to Arthur. It would be very easy to continue to do it, too, but the little voice of reason in the back of his mind was being very insistent. He'd served Arthur for years, and never once had the man suggested anything like this. It was so far out of character that Merlin couldn't help but wonder if someone had put an enchantment on Arthur.
It would be really shit to wake up tomorrow morning and find Arthur totally disgusted at himself. He wasn't sure he could live with that. So he squirmed out of Arthur's loose embrace and got to his feet. "Rain's stopped," he managed to say in a passably conversational tone. "We should probably make a start for home."
Arthur was still lying on the floor, looking much put out, and just a little bit hurt. "It's not going to happen, is it?" he said sadly.
Merlin offered him a hand and pulled him to his feet. "Oh, I don't know. If I can find out for sure that you're not bewitched, or drugged or just plain addled, then your arse is grass and I'm a herd of goats."
Arthur gave him a puzzled look. "What does that even mean?"
"It means, I dowant to shag you, you bloody clotpole."
Arthur looked as if he weren't entirely sure if he could believe Merlin's words. "Yeah?" he asked carefully.
"Yes," Merlin admitted with a defeated sigh.
Arthur was on his feet too fast for Merlin to react and a moment later, he was pushed against the crumbling wall, Arthur's mouth hungrily covering his.
Screw ethics, Merlin thought to himself, he'd take Arthur any which way he could, drugs or magic be damned.
Just as fast as Arthur had kissed him, he stepped away. Thankfully he had a hand on Merlin's hip still, or Merlin would have sunk to the ground. "Let's get back to Camelot," Arthur said with a big, pleased grin.
Merlin licked his lips. "What's the hurry?" He couldn't take his eyes of Arthur's lips.
"I want you naked in my bed before sundown," Arthur rasped, his eyes turning darker, from bright happiness to intense predatory want.
Swallowing hard, Merlin could do nothing but nod. What did one say when Arthur made such promises?
Arthur stepped further back. "Well, what are you waiting for, Merlin? Get a move on, I want to get home, get out of my wet clothes and then shag you through the mattress."
"Who says you get to top?" Merlin asked, more to annoy Arthur than because he wanted that position. The images Arthur's words were giving him were absolutely perfect. They would, however, make the ride home pretty uncomfortable.
"I'm your employer, I'm your crown prince," Arthur said loftily, redoing his trousers.
"You're a delusional prat, is what you are," Merlin growled, stealing a quick kiss before slipping past Arthur, heading at a fast pace toward the horses.
Arthur's laughter rang through the old ruin. "You know you can't address me in that manner, right?" he asked, shoving their gear into the saddle bags in a haphazard way.
Merlin rolled his eyes and scrambled onto his horse. The little voice of reason inside his head was still gabbling on about honour and integrity but he was too busy listening to the other voice inside there. The one that sang about love, and destiny and forever.
Now that was a voice he could seriously get behind.