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A Normal Relationship?

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Morgana was the one that first pointed out the obvious, at what would have been a normal breakfast. Arthur was scoffing down yet another piece of bacon, Gwaine was stealing from Lancelot’s plate, unaware that Percival was stealing from his. It was a time where the Knights, plus the Pendragon siblings, were free to act as they pleased, without the pressures of running a Kingdom. Now, the High Priestess had noted a growing theme between the six men at the table, highlighted further when the door swung open and Merlin came sauntering in.

‘Good morning, Lady Morgana, Sir Knights.’ She smiled back to the servant, considering he had been up late last night assisting her with her Magic, she figured she’d have to do something nice for him later. Maybe collect some herbs, save him the trouble of such a thing.

This was the moment where Morgana looked around the table, noted that the usual antics had faded the moment that Merlin entered. Leon had frozen from reading his recent report as First Knight, Elyan had been drawn away from his mushrooms and was sneakily glancing to Merlin as he stocked up the firewood. Gwaine was openly ogling him, eyes tracking as Merlin bent to feed the embers of the fire.

Lancelot, on his part, was trying to pretend not to be watching him from the corner of his eye. Percival had become fascinated with the mantelpiece, and Morgana realised that not a single one of them was paying attention to the plate in front.

Arthur was the last person she looked to, surprised to find him trying his best to focus on a piece of bacon that had never been admired so thoroughly. She knew, on a basic level, that Merlin intrigued each and every one of the Knights. That, even without his Magic, they thought him a useful companion and a friend. Morgana had been watching them beg Merlin to use Magic for weeks, to show off his gifts, only for Merlin to blush and deny the request. Not even Arthur could coax him.

Curiosity, she would have called it. But now, watching them, she came to the obvious conclusion. That they were, on some level, attracted to the servant. That, she could understand. Merlin was cute, bright eyes and full lips, hidden by clothes that never fitted his form and a neckerchief that was a constant. She may even have considered him attractive, had she not had eyes only for Guinevere.

Once Merlin had left, Morgana decided to set a plan in motion. To reward Merlin with something he had probably never even considered, the attention of the Knights of Camelot.

‘So, how long have you all been crushing on Merlin?’ The barrier spell protected her from Arthur’s choked cough on his drink, while Percival’s fork clattered to the floor and Lancelot blushed so darkly that the colour would have been similar to his cape.

‘What... I... wait. You too?’ Leon asked, blinking in confusion at the other Knights, whom all looked startled.

‘Since the Griffin incident.’ Lancelot admitted, breaking the silence that had fallen.

‘After he saved me from the Tavern, the first time.’ Gwaine filled the next gap, not looking in the least bit concerned that he was openly admitting to his affection.

‘When I saw how he treated Gwen, how much he cared and protected her.’ That, Morgana could agree with. He was very protective of Guinevere, they were the closest friends, always standing in the back of the throne room and giggling till Arthur kicked them out. It was only natural that Elyan would pick up on that as well.

‘My father came to visit, and Merlin was the one to help me through the visit.’ Leon’s voice startled the group, Arthur’s head shooting up. She knew a little about Leon’s family, that they had sent him to Camelot as a child to be raised by another Knight, to be raised to serve Arthur. She also remembered the visit, Leon had been moody for ages.

‘He kept me company, when I was injured and you all went on a Hunt.’ Percival finished up, before all heads turned to Arthur, who was still on the same piece of bacon. Eventually, the King sighed, looked up briefly.

‘The Mortaeus flower.’ Then back down, shoving the bacon in his mouth to stop any other words from spilling. Morgana let the moment settle, before offering out a small smile.

‘Evidently, you all have feelings for Merlin.’ She had never seen a bunch of grown men look so nervous before, not even in the face of mortal peril. It was quite amusing.

‘You suggest we let Merlin choose which one of us he likes?’ Leon questioned, confused, and Morgana placed down her fork and sat back.

‘Of course not. If he picked one of you, the others would feel left out.’

‘Hence why I never pursued anything.’ Elyan remarked, chasing the mushroom around his plate with a sad smile.

‘So, the answer is obvious.’

‘Pretend it doesn’t exist?’ Arthur muttered, and Morgana hit him lightly on the arm. He pouted, looking more like a child than the twenty-seven year old King. She waited until they were all staring at her, desperate for a solution.

‘You share him.’ They looked scandalised, like the noblewomen when they heard of muttered mentions of men sharing tents when they went to War. Each scrabbled for words, Arthur almost falling from his chair, but she simply held a hand up. They fell silent, and Morgana looked to her brother.

‘At this table sit the most powerful men in Camelot, yet you cannot bend a few rules for love? I’m sleeping with your wife, who you have no attraction to.’ She pointed out, and Arthur opened his mouth to argue the statement, before shutting it. At the time, it had been a logical solution. Arthur needed a Queen, and Morgana could never marry a woman, so Gwen had taken the position as Queen.

‘But how would we…’ Leon paused, trying to find the words, and Morgana chuckled.

‘I’m not suggesting you all share the same bed. You can Court him as a group, woo him, see if he would be open to such a thing. And, if so, you’ll make it work.’ Morgana stood, straightened her gown and acknowledged the fact that each of the men seemed deep in thought.

‘You have much to discuss, I’m sure. Enjoy your breakfast, friends.’ And with that, she went in search of Guinevere.

**

It was later, when Morgana was on the bed and Gwen was laying between her legs, back to Morgana’s chest, discussing their day, that the door opened. She had no need to panic, her Magic had told her it was Arthur, and he came in quickly.

‘Oh, sorry.’ Most would find it funny, the fact that Arthur was apologising for the intimate moment between his sister and wife. Morgana just looked across, continuing to run her fingers through Gwen’s hair.

‘It isn’t an issue, Arthur. What’s up?’ Gwen had approved of Morgana’s plan to help the Knights Court Merlin, had said that it might help the servant realise how valued he was.

‘The Knights and I have been talking and,’ He paused, shuffled between his feet awkwardly, looking nothing like the usual confident King,

‘And we’ve decided you’re right. We’ll start Courting him tomorrow.’ She just grinned, whilst Gwen clapped her hands and squealed.

‘Treat him right.’ Morgana murmured, and Arthur’s nervous smile was proof enough that he would.

What she was looking forwards to, however, was Merlin’s reaction when he learnt he could have all their attention. She couldn’t wait to tease him.

Chapter Text

Merlin was beginning to get confused. He had been going about his normal day, polishing armour and waking Arthur, who was being uncharacteristically friendly. He even went to the training ground early, to set up the targets in preparation for the Knights coming down. Gwaine was the first there, and that in itself was a shocking thing. The Knight greeted him with his usual flirtation, to which Merlin laughed and ignored him, knowing Gwaine would flirt with anything. He wasn’t serious, Merlin was a servant, nowhere near the level of a Knight.

But then the strangeness continued. The group fought better than he’d seen in a long time, smooth and as one, like they could read each other’s thoughts. Plus, they were being more friendly with him, Leon ruffling his hair and Elyan nudging his shoulder, bright smiles and lewd winks from Gwaine.

Afterwards, Merlin considered the potential that they might want something. So, he headed in the direction of the Knights’ Chambers, to ask them if they wanted help with their armour after such a thorough training. Instead, he found Leon’s door ajar, and the servant in him had him creeping forwards. Who was he kidding, he was always curious, peeking around to see the Knight in his room, with Percival.

‘Do you like them?’ Leon asked, Percival holding a bunch of the prettiest flowers Merlin had ever seen. Tied with a ribbon, and Merlin felt bad for intruding.

‘They’re gorgeous. What about this?’ Percival handed across a little ornament box, so dainty in his large hands, and it would have been the perfect thing to store herbs in. The Warlock watched it, then crept away, feeling bad for watching what was clearly an intimate moment.

How had he not seen that coming? Percival and Leon, not the two that he presumed would be interested in each other, but he was happy for his friends regardless.

**

Now, there had to be a conspiracy. Had they been struck with love potions? Merlin watched Gwaine and Elyan on the bell-tower, gifts in hand, whispering words with their heads close together, laughing every so often as they did so. He wondered if Gwen knew that her brother was courting Gwaine, wondered how Merlin had never noticed the pairings within the groups before.

Strangely, he felt oddly left out. He knew it was completely selfish of him, but he had always liked the attention from the group, even if he didn’t always deserve it. That was what drove him to walk from the Castle, musing about everything he had seen, and wondering why he hadn't noticed. For being the protector of the King and the Knights surrounding him, Merlin hadn't done a very good job predicting this moment.

‘Are you alright?’ He looked over his shoulder, surprised to find Sefa, the maid for Gwen. She looked slightly uncomfortable, always shy and nervous, no matter how Merlin tried to include her. He patted the space by his side, watched her pick her skirts up and come and sit down.

‘I think the Knights are courting each other.’ He said aloud, and Sefa looked across, wide eyes and a frown.

‘Really?’ He wondered what she knew, she always seemed so quiet, and servants always managed to know more about the Castle than they should.

‘They’re buying each other gifts.’ Sefa looked back out, chuckled slightly.

‘Perhaps it isn’t what it seems. Like Queen Guinevere and Lady Morgana.’ Ah yes, Sefa was sworn to secrecy about that relationship, although anybody with eyes could see the affection between the two.

‘Like you and George?’ He teased, and the maid blushed right to the base of her throat, knocked his shoulder with his.

‘He’s a sweet man.’ Merlin had never seen George actually try and be so… normal. Gifts, normal conversations, he even offered to walk her back to her room in the evenings after her duties.

‘If you say so. If you like jokes about brass.’ Sefa was not comfortable around the group like Merlin was, rarely spoke when she was within the Castle walls. But now she laughed brightly, tipped her head back and then grinned across at him. She rested her head on his shoulder, and he tilted his head to rest on top of hers.

‘The life of a servant, hey.’ He joked, and Sefa snorted.

‘Indeed.’

**

‘And you’re sure?’ Arthur questioned, Elyan nodding his head. The group were solemn with the news, they had never suspected that Merlin and Sefa… The King bowed his head, looked across to the window.

They’d each bought a first Courting gift for the servant, and now there was the potential that he was after Sefa? This was worrying, but Gwen didn’t seem bothered, sitting in the corner of the room with the brightest smirk on her face.

‘What’s so funny?’ He asked his wife, her eyes rolling as she picked at the hem of her dress.

‘Merlin and Sefa aren’t a thing. They’re just close, because they’re servants. Like I am with Merlin.’ Arthur was unsure, about to argue against it, but Merlin came swanning into the rooms with his dinner.

‘Evening Arthur, my Lady. Knights.’ He placed down the tray, looked amongst the group, picking up on the tension.

‘Is there something wrong?’ He asked, Arthur feeling awfully confused, not sure if he should ask the question. Luckily, Gwen was one step ahead, smoothly inputted herself into the conversation.

‘How’s Sefa?’ Merlin’s bright smile returned, chuckling as he went to clean away the papers that Arthur had spread across the table.

‘Fine, enjoying George’s Courting rituals, although the brass jokes appear a little boring.’ Arthur almost tripped, heads spinning to look at Merlin.

‘George is courting Sefa?’ Elyan asked, and Merlin nodded.

‘I know! Takes all sorts, I suppose.’

Gwen’s smile was going to haunt him to his deathbed.

**

Merlin stared to the offered flowers, then back up to Leon. The Knight was smiling, full of affection and the friendliness that he was used to, but now it was aimed solely at him. Were these not the flowers that he had given to Percival? He took the bunch carefully, admired the bright petals and the beautiful smell, along with the ribbon.

‘They’re beautiful.’ He muttered, then looked to the First Knight in confusion.

‘Whoever he, or she,’ He amended, having to pretend that he had not been snooping, ‘is, will love them!’ And with that, he handed the flowers back to the First Knight, and went back to his duties. Odd, that Leon would ask for his advice, surely he was the worst person to ask on Courting advice, considering he had the least experience out of all of them combined.

‘Wait!’ Leon was back, and Merlin turned to look up to him. Leon shook his head, ducked his head and pressed a kiss to Merlin’s cheek, before offering the flowers back out.

They were for him.

Merlin just stared, holding them in his hand and trying to understand what on earth had just happened. Leon looked slightly smug, bowed his head before walking back towards the Castle, a spring in his step as he did so.

If Leon was trying to court him, then who was Percival trying to court?

He had never been more confused.

Chapter Text

Percival appeared, right before Merlin could escape to his home. The Warlock wasn’t sure why he jumped so much, or felt incredibly guilty about the fact that he was holding flowers.

‘I… er…’

‘Merlin! Here, I got you a gift.’ The herb box from earlier, handed across while Merlin blankly stared at it, mouth opening, then falling shut. Percival’s smile continued, the Knight walking away while humming, and Merlin decided he was going mad.

He walked into the hut, placed down the flowers and then the box, and stared at them. A spell, a curse, that was the only thing that made sense. Why else would they have given him gifts like this? Merlin was still staring at the box, thinking it might move, when someone knocked on the door.

Elyan poked his head around, and Merlin sighed in relief. Somebody that might be able…

‘I bring you a gift, Merlin.’ The Knight came forwards, procured a small, wooden box. Merlin almost fell from the bench, especially when the man came forwards and placed it down, before reaching out and cupping his cheek briefly. The emotion behind it, the gentleness of a man that was a Knight, it was incredible.

Merlin swooned. He couldn’t help it, Elyan was a good-looking Knight, and it was only logical that his heart would quicken when he looked at him in such a way. The moment broke, Elyan bidding him a good day and leaving the Warlock to unpack his new gift.

**

By the time the door opened yet again, he was working himself into quite the state. Luckily, this time it was Lancelot, a long-trusted friend that relaxed Merlin on instinct.

‘Oh Lancelot, thank the…’ He froze, because the Knight had paused, in his hand, a small wrapped parcel. He looked from it, to the Knight, then back to the brown paper it was used to wrap whatever the gift was.

‘Merlin, I… this gift, it made me think of you. I… I’d like you to have it.’ Merlin watched him take another step, until there was very little gap between them. Lancelot had been one of his first friends, a Knight that, on some basic level, Merlin had found attractive. Handsome, stubble-lined and with a charm that would make any woman, or man, weak.

Now, however, those sweet eyes were focused on him, and Merlin reached out, aware that his hands were shaking.

‘Thank you.’ He whispered, wishing that this had been true, that he had four gifts from men that weren’t enchanted.

**

Merlin was slumped on the table, staring at each of the gifts. A bunch of the sweetest flowers, a box for his herbs, a selection of small vials with different scents, and a figurine of a unicorn, an image of Magic. He watched each of them, studied them, tracked them for any signs of Magic. Yet there was nothing, and he was forced to confront the fact that maybe this was a lot more complicated than he thought.

‘You look confused.’ Gwaine was leaning against the doorway, in his hand, a book.

‘You don’t read.’ He pointed out, and the Knight laughed.

‘No, sweet Merlin, but you do.’ Merlin watched the book be offered out, slowly accepting it. A book on Magic. Gwaine had been the first person that he had told, the first he actually admitted, his Magic to. Showed him, a simple spell, and Gwaine had been intrigued. Called him…

‘My Warlock, you’re doing so well.’ That was what he’d called him, and Merlin had laughed the flirt away.

‘Stop it.’ He whispered, felt tears prick at his eyes. This had to be a trick, a horrible, evil trick.

‘You know we would never hurt you.’ He trusted them, he did. But he couldn’t understand this. Gwaine took the book, placed it back down on the table, then placed a hand on his arm.

‘It isn’t my birthday.’ Merlin pointed out, the only other explanation, and Gwaine’s laugh filled the ache in his chest. The Knight pressed a kiss to his forehead, before leaving the room.

**

Each of the five Knights had given him a gift, unprovoked. He had done nothing, hadn't saved them recently, it wasn’t his birthday. They had just given him a gift, with a smile that would be like someone Courting him.

That was impossible. They were Knights of Camelot, and he was a servant. A servant, of the-

‘Merlin.’ He rose his head, Arthur standing in the doorway staring at him like he was late. Which he was, because he should have brought Arthur’s dinner ages ago.

‘Arthur. Sire. Sorry, I was just…’ He stopped, realised he didn’t have a logical explanation to why he hadn't turned up.

‘It’s fine, George brought me dinner. I just thought I’d stop by, er…’ The King took another step into the room, before taking a package from his jacket.

‘No.’ Merlin stated, more out of defence, and Arthur rolled his eyes.

‘Stop being such a girl, Merlin. It isn’t a bloody ring.’ So, it was a Courting gift. Which made absolutely no sense, but Merlin’s instinct was to snap back.

‘You’re the idiot who thinks it’s a good idea to give me gifts.’ Arthur’s expression softened, and he placed the parcel down on the table, along with every other gift.

‘For once, Merlin, can’t you let yourself be happy?’ And all Merlin could do was watch the King leave the room, leaving Merlin to unwrap the new neckerchief with an oddly persistent smile on his face.

**

‘Do I even want to know?’ Gaius asked as he moved into the room, Merlin looking to his father-figure, then to the gifts.

‘No, probably not.’ He conceded, but Gaius hesitated. There was something close to concern on his face, and Merlin tried his best to smile.

‘You may be an all-powerful sorcerer, but you’re still human. A little… companionship, goes a long way.’ Merlin looked to Gaius, then back to the gifts.

‘Can we pretend this never happened?’ Gaius chuckled, moved to the table and began to chat about his day, whilst Merlin packed away the gifts.

He would figure out what the Hell they were doing later.

**

‘Merlin…’ Gwen scolded, and the servant looked up to the Queen. He’d asked for her advice, slightly unsure about doing so considering she was now the Queen of Camelot. Fast forward less than half a day, and he was curled up in her bed, with Gwen’s head resting against his chest.

‘My Lady.’ He replied, sassy, and Gwen slapped him. He pretended to be annoyed, when really he was enjoying the fact that they could still have this friendship.

‘Who are we to dictate the way to the heart?’

‘Very poetic.’ He remarked, and Gwen propped herself up on his chest, looked down at him.

‘I’m serious! I’m the Queen of Camelot, but I share Morgana’s bed and have never slept with Arthur! It might be unconventional,’

Merlin snorted at that, and Gwen scowled,

‘But if it makes you happy…’ He had thought about it, and was slightly confused as to how it would work. Would he spend a day with each of them? Did they want to share him?

‘I don’t… know how it would work.’ Gwen burst into laughter, just in time for Morgana to walk in. She looked between them, before kicking off her shoes and climbing up to join them. Merlin let her settle on his other side, wrapped his arm around her and smiled when he felt the familiarity of her Magic.

‘Merlin’s asking about how he’d sleep with all six of them.’

‘Gwen!’ Merlin scolded, and Morgana chuckled.

‘Well, Merlin, when a man loves a…’

‘Don’t even think about it.’ The two girls both looked amused, and Merlin was regretting climbing into this bed.

‘This is what I get for sleeping with you two.’ He muttered, then realised how it sounded, and blushed bright red as the two burst into a fit of giggles all over again.

Chapter Text

‘Good morning Sire.’ Merlin swanned into the chambers, straight for the curtains that he threw open. Arthur groaned something into the pillow, and the servant took a moment to look to the shirtless-King, before he remembered his plan. Walking across to the edge of the bed, he snatched the pillow that Arthur was using to hide.

‘Up you get, Lazy Daisy.’ Arthur’s grumbling could be heard all the way to the wardrobe, where he picked out his clothing and started recounting what he had to do today, including the training practice with the Knights. By the time he was done, Arthur had managed to make it to the table, and was looking down at his breakfast.

‘Is that all, Sire?’ Arthur rose his head, before he fell silent. Very silent.

‘You’re…’

‘Is there an issue?’ Merlin quipped, and the King said nothing. Merlin took his leave, reaching up for the new neckerchief he was wearing with a grin.

**

‘Merlin’s acting…’

‘Strange.’ Gwaine finished, and the others agreed, peering across to where the servant was humming, cleaning armour like it was the most interesting thing in the world. They hadn't missed the cheerful mood, and how many times did he have to bend over to pick things up?

‘I nominate Elyan.’ Leon stated, while Elyan went to protest.

‘Seconded.’ Percival added.

‘Third.’ Gwaine remarked, raising a hand.

‘Fourthed.’ Lancelot concluded, none of them needing to look to the King to know that he would agree. Elyan pouted, but did as told and walked across in the direction of the Sorcerer.

‘Good morning, Merlin.’ He began, and the man turned to look at him. He suddenly forgot all about the fact that he was supposed to be here out of force, the bright blue eyes and the smile getting to him like they always did. It was ridiculous, how quickly he lost focus.

‘A very good morning to you, Sir Elyan. How are you today?’ Those lips were downright sinful, he mused, tracking them before realising that he was supposed to be answering the question.

‘Quite well, and yourself?’ The servant quickly replied, happy and bubbly as ever, and Elyan decided it was time to push his luck.

‘And the gift, yesterday? Did you like it?’ The vials of scents had caught his eye, Merlin always smelt like the most delicious mix of flowers and herbs, and he had hoped to be the one to add to such a thing.

‘Indeed I did, you were most kind. Thank you.’ And with that, Merlin leant in to kiss his cheek, before brightly smiling and moving on his way. Elyan’s mouth hung open, confused, and from the rush of Knights that suddenly surrounded him, they were just as shocked at the open affection.

**

‘They’ve been watching you all day.’ Sefa remarked, and Merlin nodded. The Knights were pretending to be training, wrestling and showing off, while Merlin spent the time sitting on the bank and enjoying the sun. Beside him, Sefa was busy fixing some holes in one of Gwen’s dresses. He should probably have been cleaning Arthur’s armour, or polishing his sword, but his eyes were busy watching six muscular men. After all, he was only human, such things were difficult to ignore.

‘I’m still so confused as to why they are attempting such a thing.’ It didn’t make much sense, but then again, when did anything? They all liked him, and if he could believe that bit, then the rest did actually make sense. One would never pursue, not if he thought it might hurt the others. They were a team, and nothing would break that. So, they were looking for something to slot in.

‘Surely you do not miss the fact that you aren’t bad looking?’ It was a weird way of saying he was cute, which he teased Sefa with, knowing that she was only playing with him.

‘Have you ever been courted before?’ Sefa asked, and Merlin fell quiet. She went to apologise, but he beat her to it.

‘Back in my village… there was a boy. We were kids, but we never took it further than looks and whispered words, my Ma’ would have boxed my ears.’ Sefa chuckled, while Merlin shoved away painful thoughts of Will.

‘And then there was… a girl. We were going to run away together, but she passed away.’ Died, Freya was dead, and sometimes remembering how harsh it was kept him from being fooled. These were Knights, a perilous job at best, and he had to be prepared for the fact that his Magic might not be enough to save them.

‘Do they know?’ He shook his head firmly, looked to where Percival was currently pinning Leon to the floor.

‘They’d understand, Merlin.’ She stated, took his hand and squeezed. The moment passed, and he stood up quickly, dragging her with him.

‘C’mon, help me sneak some pastries.’

**

Arthur was sweaty and gross, debating whether to bathe, when Merlin reappeared. The Knights stopped their bickering, looked to the bright-eyed Warlock, who wore the smuggest smirk he’d ever seen.

‘I thought you’d be hungry, after all that… scrapping.’

‘We were not scrapping!’ Leon protested, and Arthur realised in horror that his men were trying to show off.

‘Manly fighting.’ Gwaine remarked, wiggling his eyebrows to Merlin.

‘Very manly.’ Merlin teased, before revealing the pastries he had probably stolen. The group were quick to snatch, and Arthur restrained himself so that he looked patient, earning him a laugh from Merlin.

‘When do you ever wait for food.’ He joked, and Arthur saw the nerves underneath the words. This was new for all of them, and he was rising to the step that they had taken.

‘I’ll still put you in the stocks.’ He threatened, knowing that it would never happen.

‘Of course you would, Sire.’

**

‘Hunting?’ Merlin inquired, looking between the group. That’s what Knights did when they got bored, decided to go on a Hunt. That, or questing. He should be glad it was the former.

‘We’ll pack some food and drink,’ Gwaine grinned at that, ‘And have a trip from the Castle. I’m bored to death of politics.’ The others were quick to agree, while Merlin wondered if this was such a good idea. Alone with the Knights, he wasn’t sure how to react to their flirting. At least at the moment, he could have breaks between it.

‘Sounds like a plan.’ Merlin caved, knowing that it wasn’t like he could ever deny them this.

Knowing, deep down, he didn’t really mind their advances.

**

‘I say we advance our tactics.’ Elyan suggested, where the group was huddled and discussing the next way to promote their Courting.

‘Perhaps we need to learn if he’s had experience in this manner.’ Leon’s idea gained some nods, it would do well to find out how far Merlin had taken such things.

‘As long as we do not get jealous.’ Arthur added, knowing that it would make Merlin annoyed if they reacted badly.

‘Why would we? He knows we’ve dabbled in… acts.’ Coming from anybody but Gwaine, it could have been considered a normal sentence. But with the lewd tone, it left no room for misinterpretation.

‘A little alcohol to loosen the tongue, perhaps we ask to see his Magic! He’s always denied us thus far…’ Lancelot began,

‘But this is different. We’re trying to learn more about him.’ Percival remarked, before they jumped apart as someone cleared their throat.

Lady Morgana looked amused as they straightened their backs, pretending they weren’t plotting how to seduce Merlin.

‘I take it that you need suggestions?’ Somehow, she always managed to look regal, Arthur thought with a huff. He felt like a child, caught with his hand reaching for cookies, her all-knowing gaze assessing them.

‘The thing about Merlin, is that he pretends he does not like the attention. When really, he loves nothing more than affection.’ Arthur thought back to all the times he’d tried to avoid hugging him, just because he feared that his hold on his emotions would break. This was taking a step over that line.

‘He worries about the… shall we call them practicalities, of such a group, but if none of you would get jealous, then I’m sure your inventive minds can come up with something.’ And with that, she was walking back towards the Castle like she wasn’t advising them on how to bed a servant. No, not a servant, not when it was just the group. He was one of them.

‘I’m brilliant in seduction, this will go perfectly.’ Gwaine remarked confidently, and they all knew this was going to go horribly.

Chapter Text

Merlin knew his limits. Alcohol was a thing that could mess with him easily, despite his near-immortal body, and so it was important to always maintain a careful watch on how many he had drained. Which was why he surprised himself by accepting yet another drink, sitting around the fire with his closest friends, no, were they slightly more now? The Hunt had been successful, the Knights showing off the stag deer like they expected him to be proud.

He wasn’t like the women of Camelot, he would not praise their masculinity and strength. Instead, he cocked his head as they had held up the creature, before sniggering.

‘Six grown men take down a stag, how… awe inspiring.’ His teasing resulted in him preparing the meat, although he didn’t really mind, it was the least he could do considering the recent turn of events. They’d eaten a good meal, far more than usual, and had brought out the wineskins. Merlin was now at the giggly stage of tipsy, sitting on the floor while resting against Gwaine’s leg. The group were all content to chat and relax, seemingly pleased with how Merlin had opted to join in with them.

Okay, so sometimes he forgot that he was quite a bit smaller than them, and the alcohol would affect him quicker than it did them.

‘Your tolerance is worse than a maid’s first drink, Merlin.’ Arthur teased, and he giggled, rolled his eyes in Arthur’s direction.

‘S’not my fault m’tiny compared to you.’ He gestured around the circle at the end, confused when they all laughed at him.

‘Adorable.’ Leon remarked, and Merlin turned his head to the First Knight, tried to pout.

‘M’fierce. Not adorable.’ That just made them laugh more, a hand in his hair, and Merlin tilted into it. It felt good, like a massage.

‘Fierce like a kitten.’ Gwaine agreed, and Merlin grinned up at him, rewarded with another tug in his hair.

‘Can you show us something?’ Elyan prompted, and Merlin looked to him, determined to make them all smile, to make them as happy as he currently felt. He was confused, though, didn’t quite understand what they were talking about.

‘Something… magical?’ Percival inquired, and Merlin beamed, he could do that! That was his speciality, although he was sure there was a reason he didn’t usually show them. Well, he couldn’t remember it now, so he figured it wasn’t that important. He didn’t even need to turn his head to the fire, just knew that it worked when he saw their amazement.

It was a Dragon, if his Magic had listened correctly, flying up in the embers of the fire.

‘Bloody hell, Merlin.’

‘If he can do that drunk…’ Leon whispered, something close to admiration, and Merlin preened like one of the chickens in the yard. Puffed up, rewarded with yet another tug on his hair.

‘S’a dragon!’ He exclaimed, and Lancelot laughed beside him, the others just watching as the Dragon sparkled.

‘I’m glad you trust us with this, Merlin.’ Gwaine remarked, his voice sounding a lot softer now that Merlin had drunk a wineskin and a half. He looked up to his gaze, the brown eyes familiar and calming, but his must have been burning golden still.

‘Course! You n’Gaius, Gwen, oh and Morgana!’ Those were all his friends, and he supposed his Mum should be added to the list, she knew about his Magic. Then again, she hardly ever let him use it.

‘Does anybody else know? Someone… close to you?’ Arthur asked, his question earning a lot of attention. Close? Like he was close to them? Merlin pondered the question, there wasn’t anybody that he trusted as much as the six men in the clearing.

‘Was Will, he knew bout my Magic.’ Had found out by accident, and had promised to keep it a secret, for fear that Merlin would be taken away.

‘You and Will were close.’ Arthur recalled, a flash of something that looked like guilt. Merlin couldn’t understand why, Arthur had saved his Village!

‘S’my best friend.’ Merlin stated proudly, and the Knights looked awfully sad.

‘S’okay, I’ve got you now.’ He looked to the Dragon, then twisted the image into something different, focused on the tiny Gates at the front of Camelot, on the Castle and the bustling market.

‘Beautiful.’ Lancelot praised, and Merlin blushed, tried to hide his proud smile.

‘Come here, Merlin.’ Arthur asked, no, requested, in that Kingly tone that Merlin always obeyed, even if he was slightly drunk. He left the warmth of Gwaine’s side, figured that standing might be slightly difficult, so he just crawled to the other side of the fire.

‘Fuck.’ Gwaine muttered, and somebody slapped him.

‘You’re too drunk.’ Arthur muttered, brushing the side of his face in a way that had Merlin closing his golden eyes, felt the Magic drop.

‘M’not!’ He protested, filled with a sudden desire for more, more of whatever this was, a confidence that he knew would help in this situation. Arthur chuckled, a smirk on his handsome face.

‘You are. But that’s okay, we’re taking this slowly.’ Merlin blinked back his confusion, instead stole Arthur’s wineskin and downed the rest of it.

‘Oh, Merlin.’ The King remarked, and Merlin giggled again.

**

Gwaine spun Merlin around, the Warlock laughing and twirling, while Arthur and the others watched. The two had been dancing for a while now, working away Merlin’s intoxication with Gwaine’s quick charm and smiles.

‘Who was Will?’ Percival asked, and Arthur told the story, including how naïve Arthur had been, how he’d told Merlin off for keeping the secret of Will being a sorcerer. A lie, to protect his best friend.

‘It wasn’t your fault, Arthur.’ Lancelot remarked, a good man, placing a hand on his shoulder to try and cheer him. He tried to muster a smile, but found that he couldn’t, not until he looked back to Merlin and saw the sorcerer trying to follow Gwaine’s feet with his own, only to get muddled and tumble into the leaves.

‘We’ll go to the Lake, tomorrow.’ Arthur suggested, and the Knights saw through the plan. A chance to strip down and swim, maybe even coax Merlin to join them. Speaking of, the man came tumbling across, fell into Percival’s lap with the coordination of a foal, raising his head with the brightest smile.

‘You can meet Freya!’ Every head turned to the Sorcerer, jealousy and confusion brimming.

‘Who in Albion is Freya?’ Arthur questioned, but Merlin had already fallen asleep on Percival’s lap.

**

Merlin woke up with a headache that rivalled even the worse pain he’d been in, groaned, then cuddled closer to the warmth surrounding him. His blankets had got a lot nicer, he thought, until he remembered they were out Hunting. That meant the headache was from the…

Oh, the wineskins. He flicked an eye open, found out that his blanket was actually Percival, asleep, an arm around him and keeping him close. Merlin watched, unused to being this close to a sleeping Knight. They were rather like wild beasts, quick to jump to action, very rarely seen so peaceful. It was nice, Merlin rather wished he could stay this close, but he needed to relieve the pressure in his stomach, and his head.

He managed to escape from Percival’s large hands, without waking any of the Knights. For men so prepared for battle and attacks, they were sleeping like babies. He moved further from them, used a quick spell to heal his headache while relieving himself. Feeling slightly unclean, he used yet another spell, surprised when his Magic was more than happy to respond.

Stronger than normal, a presence closer to his skin than he usually kept it. Still, he didn’t mind, decided it was time to make breakfast for the Knights.

By the time they woke to the smell of roasting deer, Merlin had remembered the drunken dancing, was determined to pretend like he hadn't crawled across to Arthur. Goddess, he was never getting drunk again.

‘Morning.’ He cheerfully exclaimed, earning him several looks of disbelief.

He had survived one day, only two more to go.

Chapter Text

‘Your beauty rivals that of the sun itself.’ Gwaine attempted, one of many flirtatious lines that had left his lips over the morning, and the group chuckled. Merlin snorted with laughter, looked back at Gwaine, from where he was riding at the front with Arthur.

‘Keep going.’ Merlin teased, and Gwaine rose to the challenge.

‘My love for you is like a river.’ For a moment, the statement hung, and then Merlin started laughing again.

‘Able to dry out and rather cold in the winter?’ Gwaine’s pout was worth it, Merlin returning to face the front.

‘I was going to say winding and complex.’ If these were the lines that he usually used, Merlin wondered how he ever managed to make women swoon.

‘You’re awful.’ Merlin stated, honestly, and the Knights fought to hide the amusement at Gwaine being put down, albeit gently.

‘Like you could do better.’ He teased, and Merlin thought for a moment, before confidence filled his stomach. He blamed it on the leftover alcohol in his system, or the fact that they were heading towards the Lake of Avalon, and so close to where he felt safe.

‘I have a suggestion for how to make your armour more appealing, Sir Gwaine.’ Merlin remarked, flashing a smile over his shoulder. The man looked intrigued, gestured for him to continue.

‘It would look a lot better if it was off.’ Silence, and then the Knights burst into laughter, Elyan almost toppling from his horse, whilst Arthur halted the procession. Gwaine looked shocked, and Merlin merely sniggered, urged his horse into a canter as he sped away from them.

**

‘Join us.’ Gwaine lazily remarked, swimming across to where Merlin was seated on one of the rocks at the shore. He did want to, but he hesitated, knowing what he looked like under his clothing. It wasn’t just the fact that he was a lot skinnier than the men around him, but he had scars. Ones that he didn’t want to explain.

‘I’m fine on the shore.’ He lied, eyeing up the water with interest.

‘I know you can swim.’ Arthur added, from where he was attacking Leon with water. The others peeked across to him, and Merlin shifted under the scrutiny.

‘If you think we would judge you…’ Lancelot was a lot more attuned to Merlin’s emotions than the others, figured him out before he could hide.

‘Judge you for what?’ Leon inputted, and Merlin wondered if they were blind. He was so much smaller than them, all gangly limbs, as Arthur liked to tell him.

‘I’m not exactly like… you lot.’ He finished, refused to make eye contact with a single one of them. It was Lancelot that came up to him, propped himself up on the rock and stared at him with those expressive eyes.

‘No, you’re you, the person we all care for.’ Merlin grumbled, mostly about how it wasn’t fair that Lancelot got to use his puppy-dog eyes. He kicked off his boots, where the Knights had left their armour, and then reached for the neckerchief.

‘Just… don’t ask, okay?’ He didn’t wait for an answer, undid the neckerchief, then pulled his shirt off. He kept his face to them, not daring show his back, not with a Serket sting and whip-marks that were under the order of Arthur’s father. Still, he didn’t meet their eyes, didn’t want to see the horror at the fact that he had a few too many scars to be normal.

**

Lancelot had, to some extent, been aware that Merlin had scars. He’d caught sight of one, back when the Griffin had been killed. And, logically, he knew there would be more. Merlin looked so nervous, a blush across his face as he refused to meet their gaze, and Lancelot let his eyes drift.

The nasty burn had faded well, and Lancelot placed it from the fight with Nimue. Then there were a selection of white marks, varying from arrows, sword slices, a mace, and who knew what else. Merlin kicked off his breeches, left the smallclothes on like they had, then walked to the Lake. It was cold, and he shivered, before diving under.

Lancelot shot the others a glare, told them that it wasn’t their place to question it, that they should act as they normally did.

When Merlin resurfaced, Gwaine splashed him, and the group settled happily.

**

Merlin was swimming, enjoying the fact that the water was actually nice and cold, when he spotted Arthur eyeing him up oddly. He swam across, to the shallow section where he was seated.

‘Something you want to say, Sire?’ He teased, and Arthur splashed him in response. He pouted, spat out the water he’d inhaled, then went to splash him back, but Arthur halted him before he could.

‘Who’s Freya?’ Merlin lost his footing, managed to regain it, tried to recall what he might have said when he was drunk.

‘How’d you hear that?’ He snapped, then softened his expression quickly. He had no right to snap at them, they were being understanding, all of them. The others drifted closer, eager to hear the story, but only if Merlin offered it.

‘You mentioned her last night. Said we could meet her.’ Oh, did he? Merlin frowned, tried his best not to let his heart ache at the mention of her.

‘Freya is, well…’

‘Merlin?’

Several things happened at once. Arthur shouted, jumped back in the water, and the group formed a defensive position as Merlin turned to the voice, to where Freya had appeared in the lake. She looked slightly confused, before her eyes lit up in excitement.

‘What the…’

‘Who in Albion…’

‘Do I need a sword?’

‘Should I be jealous?’

‘Did you bring me…’ Too many voices, and Merlin just levelled them a stare that shut them all up.

‘This is Freya, who is the Lady of the Lake.’ She came closer, smiled to Merlin with a soft look that had him smiling back, before she looked to Arthur.

‘I remember you…’ He muttered, while Leon looked a little green.

‘The Bastet.’

‘Oh, I was cursed, but you killed me and Merlin brought me here, where I now live.’ Freya explained, calmly, her hand resting on Merlin’s arm. He glanced to it, too cold to be human, and fought the urge to shrug it off.

‘Brought you here…?’ Arthur was staring at him, like he felt betrayed, and Merlin looked down.

‘We were going to run away together, me and Freya, until the night where…’ Where you stabbed her, he thought, before pulling it back. Freya was staring at Arthur still, then to Merlin, and smiled.

‘I bear no ill will to any of you, I’m here to help Merlin, when he requires it. Like the sword.’ Oh, he wished she hadn't mentioned that, because now Arthur looked even more confused.

**

The fire crackled between them, and Merlin felt miserable. Nobody was speaking, not a single word since Freya had vanished, and Merlin felt awful. He’d only had them courting him for a couple of days, and he’d already ruined it.

‘Merlin…’ Arthur began, and Merlin’s heart felt crushed.

‘I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, but I didn’t want you to feel guilt about something that wasn’t your fault and I- oomph.’ Arthur had crossed the space, yanked him to his feet, and was now glaring at him. Merlin blinked, waited for the hit he was expecting, and then felt lips against his.

Oh. That was… different. Nice, but he didn’t know where to put his hands, and Arthur was pulling away far too quickly.

‘I’m not angry at you, Merlin. I… I’m sorry, for…’ This time, Merlin took the initiative to kiss him, slightly more hesitantly, but firm, enjoyed the way it worked to shut him up.

‘I guess that sorts that.’ Gwaine joked, and Merlin blushed, stepped back from the King and then sat down quickly, before he could make a fool out of himself. Arthur looked pleased, smug, and the rest of the group looked just as amused.

‘Would you look at that, your blush spreads all the way to the tips of your ears.’ Gwaine remarked, nudging his arm, and Merlin scowled.

Chapter Text

Gwaine knew that the Princess was hiding something, dragged him away from the others and watched Arthur’s scowl grow.

‘You do realise I’m the King?’ He stated, staring at the arm that Gwaine was holding, and the Knight dropped it.

‘Yeah, Princess, I got it. What are you hiding?’ The immediate flash of guilt, added to the fact that he went into his defensive stance, meant that Gwaine had been spot on. Honestly, he was a great Knight, he didn’t understand why they all thought him a lazy one.

‘I don’t know what…’ He’d been expecting that, Arthur was always stubborn, so he quickly rolled his eyes and placed a finger to the King’s lips.

‘I expected you’d say that, so I have a little bet for you.’ Arthur’s anger melted into curiosity, it was well-known that the King would always proclaim himself the best at everything, and Gwaine could play up to that.

‘I’m listening.’ Arthur remarked, and Gwaine grinned. This was perfect, right where he wanted the Princess to be.

‘Simple, if I manage to get Merlin sexed-out by the end of the evening, you tell me what you’re hiding.’ Arthur’s immediate frown told Gwaine all there was to know about his proposition. He’d been considering it for a while, and it was really in all of their best interests if he managed to help Merlin see that they were serious about him.

‘Depends on your definition of sexed-out.’ Arthur whispered, clearly nervous that the Warlock would overhear. From the way he was currently listening to one of Percival’s stories, eager eyes only on the big Knight, Gwaine knew that wouldn’t be an issue.

‘Getting him to finish.’ That was the polite terminology, but even that had Arthur’s eyes widening, a blush spreading on his cheeks.

‘Don’t be crude.’ He hissed, and Gwaine rolled his eyes.

‘I’ve heard you telling tales of tavern ladies with the Knights, don’t tell me that was crude.’ It was a thing done amongst men, he supposed, and even in front of Merlin on occasion.

‘This is Merlin.’ Arthur remarked, like it made it all different, and Gwaine supposed it did. This one mattered, they didn’t want to mess it up.

‘Which is why I’ll play nicely. Do I have your bet?’ Arthur’s frown deepened, considering the risks, before he gave a brief nod.

‘You can’t get him drunk.’ Like he would dare.

‘Nothing beyond a half-wineskin to relax his nerves.’ Gwaine promised, and Arthur sighed.

‘I’m going to regret this.’ The Knight chuckled, patted the Princess on the arm.

‘No you won’t, it’ll be good for you too.’

Gwaine’s plan was set in motion the moment he sat by the fire, offered out his drink to Merlin, who leant back against his leg with all the trust that he usually had.

Now, how best to show the Warlock how much he meant to them? Gwaine had thought long and hard about this situation, and so, while the others were chatting and helping themselves to the stew that remained, Gwaine reached his fingers back for Merlin’s hair.

Instantly, the Warlock was tilting back, more than happy with the idea. This little bit of information had been gifted by drunk-Merlin, the fact that his hair seemed to be a hardwire to his smile, he was like a kitten when Gwaine ran his hand through the dark hair.

This time, he accompanied it by leaning until his lips were close to the shell of Merlin’s ear, felt the full-body shudder of the sorcerer as he murmured,

‘Bets on Arthur challenging Lancelot to a sword-fight?’ It usually happened, when they had little to do in the dusk of the evening, and Gwaine knew that they wanted the excuse to show off in front of Merlin. The Warlock was very open in the fact that he watched them, although he pretended it had no effect.

‘Almost definitely.’ Merlin responded, before raising the wineskin.

Yes, Gwaine thought, that was the answer to both his bets tonight.

**

Merlin didn’t know how long it had been since they had started wrestling, all he knew was that he was considerably closer to Gwaine than he had been, leaning closer to the warm weight and finishing off the half-full wineskin that he had been allowed. The hand in his hair was a constant, tugging and teasing, something that had started a warm heat in his belly. He wasn’t entirely sure what it was, no, that was a lie. He wasn’t an idiot, he understood the fact it was arousal, but this was in front of Gwaine!

And the others! He shifted slightly, Gwaine spreading his thighs so that Merlin could rest against the inside of one, and he was glad that the Knights had abandoned their armour.

‘He looks good, doesn’t he.’ Gwaine remarked lowly, and Merlin looked to where Elyan was pining Leon into the dirt. Muscles that were usually hidden by armour, now on full-show, and Merlin eyed them both.

‘They both do.’ He admitted, before blushing. Gwaine’s chuckle meant that it was okay, he wasn’t offended, so he continued to ogle them both. Then it got worse, Arthur and Lancelot teaming up against Percival, a whole lot of manliness in one place.

‘Could pin you down real good, always difficult to struggle out from under Percival.’ Gwaine remarked, like it was a casual thing, while Merlin rose one knee up to hide the fact that he was finding this situation… hot. There was no real way to pretend he wasn’t.

‘Uh huh.’ Merlin stated, voice wobbling, and Gwaine tugged at his hair slightly harder.

‘You look real pretty when you blush, Merlin.’ Did he? Because right now, he was pretty sure his face was the colour of his shirt. A couple of the Knights kept looking across, smirking slightly, like they knew something he didn’t.

‘You trust me?’ Gwaine asked, and Merlin’s response was instinct. Of course he did, he trusted Gwaine with his life.

‘Sit back against me.’ He did just that, until his back was pressed to Gwaine’s chest, felt the eyes of the others on him. Nerves began to get the better of him, but Gwaine’s lips were back whispering things into his lips that distracted him.

‘You see, you get nervous. And that’s okay, but I got a way to help that, but you have to trust me a lot. S’okay, if you can’t, we can take this slow.’ But he didn’t want that. He wanted to be confident, like the Knights were when they spoke about the women they bedded, or when they openly admired him as he got out of the water earlier. He wished he had that confidence, and who better to learn from, than Gwaine?

‘I trust you.’ He verbally promised, felt fingers untying his neckerchief.

‘Any time you need me to stop…’ Gwaine remarked, but Merlin just tipped his head back and looked into his eyes, found comfort in the fierce loyalty he saw shining in them, the adoration.

‘I’ll say.’ He mumbled, nervous, but the heat in his stomach was growing. A hand was turning his chin back to the others, who had mostly stopped fighting now, curiously watching what was going on.

‘That’s it, deep breath for me.’ The neckerchief was back, this time around his eyes, and Merlin fought the urge to panic. It was Gwaine’s hands tying it, Gwaine’s words filtering through his mind, hands drifting back to his shoulders.

He got why the Knight had done it. Merlin panicked when he could see them, when he wondered what their expressions showed. Now, he couldn’t see them, could just feel Gwaine’s chest rising and falling behind him, the pressure of his hands moving.

‘Good boy.’ That shouldn’t have had him tilting into Gwaine’s touch, but it did, and Merlin ached for something, even if he wasn’t sure what it was. The fighting had stopped now, there was no longer the sound of scuffling, he was pretty sure the Knights had come to sit around the fire.

‘Get out of that head of yours, Merlin.’ Gwaine teased, calloused fingers tracking up the side of his neck, and the Warlock arched his head so they had more space to travel over. It felt good, his Magic settling into his bones, content to let this happen. He wasn’t at risk, it knew that, even if his heart was racing faster than it ever had.

‘Still with me?’ Merlin nodded instantly, felt Gwaine’s foot moving under his leg, hooking around his ankle. He was going to ask what he was doing, but before he could, he was being moved.

Still with his back to Gwaine’s chest, only now he was level with the Knight, Gwaine’s feet hooked around his ankles and spreading his legs slightly.

He’d never felt so exposed, tipped his head back to rest on Gwaine’s shoulder, more than aware of the fact that the tent in his breeches would be on show.

‘Okay?’ Gwaine’s voice had changed, was lower than normal, and that tone did little for the issue between his legs.

‘Yeah.’ Breathed out, Gwaine’s hands resting on his thighs, and Merlin’s breathing hitched.

‘Easy, Merlin. You’re doing so well.’ He’d done nothing, just sat here, but the praise was enough for him to smile.

‘Look so good, spread out like this.’ The sound that broke from his lips was probably close to a whimper, Gwaine’s fingers digging into his thighs, each point of pressure heightened with Merlin unable to see it.

‘Want more?’ Gwaine asked, lips against his neck, and Merlin didn’t have to think before nodding. He had no clue what Gwaine was offering, didn’t even care that he had to look a fool right now, just cared that he’d never felt more embarrassed, nor more aroused, in his entire life.

‘My Warlock.’ Gwaine muttered, and he’d never said it like THAT before, Merlin determined to hear it again. Lips closed over his pulse point, left a soft kiss, before they began to trail up his neck. Hands were moving, fingers tracing small circles onto his thighs.

Something was happening, he could hear movement that was neither him nor Gwaine, and he tensed when his Magic told him there was somebody in front of them.

‘Trust me.’ Gwaine’s voice was back, just as he thought it had gone too far, soothing his frazzled nerves. The hands on his thighs were gone, moving to his hips, and Merlin kept his head in Gwaine’s shoulder. He was okay, this was alright, Gwaine knew his limits. He didn’t know how he did, couldn’t figure out when Gwaine learnt him so perfectly, but he wasn’t complaining.

A new set of hands were on him, and Merlin was surprised to find that it wasn’t worrying, in fact he had to bite back a sound at the new feeling.

‘Think of it as a game,’ Gwaine nipped at his earlobe, teeth barely grazing it, ‘of guess who.’ It was difficult to concentrate, especially when the hands dipped into his inner thighs, and Merlin spread them further, more than willing to let this happen.

Vulnerable, in a way he had never been. His Magic had seen to it that Destiny was the biggest factor in his life, had prevented him from living a life with Freya. But these men were the ones he was sworn to protect, there was something so… exhilarating, about trusting them like this.

The hands were rough, he could feel it through the breeches, but that didn’t narrow it down. It wasn’t Percival, nor Arthur, he’d know if it was. With those that were left, he tried to narrow it down. The hands dipped low again, and Gwaine laughed.

‘Not easy is it?’ He teased, sucked on the skin at the side of his neck, and Merlin groaned. It felt too good, fingertips chasing up his hips now.

‘Elyan.’ He knew he had it right when Gwaine’s hands squeezed, and a second later, there was a pair of lips on his. It was too brief, he chased after them, heard Elyan’s amused laugh as he tried to seek the warmth.

‘Well done, my Warlock.’ Gwaine purred, voice sinful.

‘Want another?’ Yes, yes he did, nodded desperately and it earned him a soft kiss, over the mark he must have left. This time, his Magic didn’t bother to warn him that someone else was present, it knew he was perfectly safe in the hands that held his hips.

A hand was on his chest. Right over his heart, reassurance, and Merlin let his head leave Gwaine’s shoulder. He knew who that was, quirked his lips into a smile.

‘Lancelot.’ The hand moved down slightly, to where he realised that his nipples must have hardened enough to peek through the shirt, and it felt far too good when his thumb pressed down.

‘Clever.’ Lancelot murmured, and Merlin prayed that he’d get a kiss.

It was even briefer than Elyan’s, and he pouted, which earnt him another one, a peck.

‘Patience is a virtue.’ Gwaine mocked, but gently.

‘That I don’t have.’ Merlin finished, and the Knight laughed, chest vibrating with laughter.

‘If you’re able to sass me, then I can’t be doing this correctly.’ The lips were back, on his neck, stubble grazing the sensitive skin.

‘Maybe that’s the las…Oh, last thing to go.’ He was distracted by the bite, soothed by the apology kiss that was placed over it.

Another person was here, and Merlin was surprised when fingers brushed over his stomach. Too light, teasing the hem of the shirt and tugging at it, Merlin twitching into it. Gwaine was smirking against his neck, his hands joining the set that were lifting the shirt.

His breathing stopped, nerves coming back, and both sets of hands halted in a synchronised move.

‘Talk to me.’ Gwaine’s lips were teasing, but considerate.

‘Keep going.’ Merlin’s voice betrayed his nerves, but Gwaine trusted him, helped tug the shirt over his head. His hands fell back to Gwaine’s thighs, where they had been resting to keep himself calm.

Shirtless. He couldn’t see their expressions, didn’t know how horrified they must be because…

‘Thinking again.’ Gwaine’s voice was back to that soft tone, and Merlin offered a weak chuckle.

The hands came back, tracing bare skin, going for the smaller scars on his stomach. Gentle, which meant there was only one person it could be.

‘Percival.’ He was rewarded with a hand over his stomach, large, covering what he presumed was the knife-wound to his side.

‘Doing well.’ He was glad, because it felt like something in his stomach was going to burst, and his head was spinning. Percival was gone, a kiss that barely ghosted his lips leaving him feeling strangely overwhelmed.

What startled him was lips against his bare shoulder, the fourth person a lot more confident, strategic movements along his collarbone. Merlin let his head tip back, encouraging more, and the lips sealed over the dip at the base of his neck.

For some reason, his hips moved at that, and Gwaine’s grip tightened.

‘That felt good, I’m guessing.’ Merlin whined, words failing him as teeth grazed over his skin, hands on his clothed thighs and holding him steady.

‘Leon, please.’ No, no the head pulled back, and Merlin could have cried. This was ridiculous, he wanted… well, he wasn’t sure what he wanted, but these men had to have experience in this. They knew what he needed.

‘Soon.’ The Knight promised, and kissed him properly. That was better, his hands itched to reach out for him, but he had a suspicion that was breaking the rules.

‘Keep still, Merlin.’ Gwaine warned, but he wanted more, kissed Leon back properly. A tongue was running along his bottom lip, and he opened up eagerly, but it was gone. The hands on his thighs squeezed, but Leon was already moving away, and Merlin was left panting.

Gwaine’s thumbs brushed over his hipbones, keeping him still, and Merlin knew who was left. Wanted him, regardless of the blindfold, or the fact that there were others watching. When Arthur knelt down, it was between Merlin’s spread thighs, and he could have cried.

‘Doing so well.’ Arthur breathed, thumb brushing over Merlin’s lips, and he let them part. Arthur sucked in air, his hand dropping to…

The burn. Nimue’s burn, when Arthur almost died and Merlin thought he was going to die and…

‘Arthur.’ Gwaine warned, as did Lancelot. His hand left it, and Merlin didn’t realise he was crying but he was.

‘Merlin…’ That was Gwaine, asking if he wanted to stop, but Merlin just wanted Arthur. He could imagine the worried blue eyes, hoped that Gwaine wouldn’t stop him when he reached out.

Arthur’s lips were soft, unsure, and Merlin was just as gentle. His hand rested on Arthur’s hip, while the King cupped his face gently.

When he pulled back, it was gradual, apologetic.

Merlin didn’t know what was going on, why his stomach was so tense, his head so confused, or the weight between his legs incredible. Arthur was gone, and Gwaine’s hand was on his chest, pushing until he was moulded to Gwaine’s form.

A thumb and forefinger pinched his nipple, twisting it deliciously, and Merlin arched into it, panted as he wriggled his hips.

‘Did perfectly, so well, looked so good.’ He spread his legs more, bucked his hips up slightly.

‘Gwaine…’

‘I know, my Warlock, you don’t have to worry now. I’ll get you there.’ He didn’t know where that was, but was pliant in his arms, Gwaine could do anything and he wouldn’t stop him. More wandering hands, pinching and rolling and Merlin was sobbing in his arms.

There was a pressure against the small of Merlin’s back, and he realised with shock that it was Gwaine, hardened and up against him.

That, combined with teeth sinking into his shoulder, and a hand that cupped the front of his trousers, was all too much.

Merlin came with a shout, hips moving, Gwaine groaning as he squirmed desperately.

‘There you go, love.’ Gwaine mumbled, and Merlin fell back into his arms.

Chapter Text

‘A deal’s a deal.’ Gwaine remarked, looking from Arthur, to Merlin. The Warlock was asleep, curled up between Elyan and Leon, the two Knights having refused to let him sleep by himself. Merlin, for his part, hadn't argued. Too tired, too confused, just happy to have the comfort of them. Percival was asleep as well, leaving just him, the Princess, and Lancelot.

‘A deal?’ Lancelot’s immediate response was anger, fearing that Gwaine had only done that because of a bet. He was soothed by Gwaine’s glare, like he’d ever have exposed Merlin like that just for a bet.

‘I took us Hunting so that Morgana could sort out one of the spare Chambers.’ Arthur admitted, whispering the words so that he would not wake the others. Gwaine cocked his head, while Lancelot just looked confused.

‘I figured that, although we agreed to each have a day with Merlin once we were back in Camelot…’ Gwaine got it first, eyes widening.

‘That there is a place within the Castle walls that we can share.’ He concluded, and the King blushed. After tonight, he wondered why Arthur was scared of being a prude, they had all been more than willing to join in earlier.

Gwaine had to admit, just thinking about it got the blood rushing. He’d never expected Merlin to react so well, to let himself be so vulnerable in front of them. Having the Warlock sitting between his legs, squirming and making so many pretty noises, Gwaine had been as hard as rock. The others in the group had been more than happy to gather, and while it started as nothing but innocent, it had escalated.

It wasn’t like they had never seen each other nude before. Knights had very little privacy, and on especially cold missions, were know to huddle together for warmth. They openly discussed who they bedded, and Gwaine had been on more than one mission where a Knight would take himself in hand, other usually following suit.

This had been different, this was Merlin, and the group were still unsure about how they would share Merlin, especially when it came to this. They’d been onboard with Gwaine’s suggestions, understanding his cues and teasing Merlin openly in front of the others. Gwaine had seen the way they rubbed at the front of their britches, didn’t say anything as hands moved below clothing.

He hadn't dared, not with Merlin being his main focus, so pretty and spread out for him. Like a buffet, that Gwaine had to hold back with. He’d thought Merlin would stop, especially when Arthur’s hand went for the burn that Merlin evidently was so scared of, but he hadn't. Impressive, and hot, Gwaine was never going to forget this moment.

‘I agree with the idea. If anything, tonight has shown us that this can work.’ Lancelot remarked, Gwaine noting the way that thinking of it affected all of them. Just speaking about it, the Knight’s eyes darkened, lips twitching, and Gwaine chuckled. Yes, it had been a good idea to test his luck.

‘That we can share.’ Arthur agreed, then looked at Gwaine.

‘How did you hold back?’ They had a point, Merlin was the most handsome thing to ever cross Gwaine’s radar, and although he had no real attraction to the other Knights, it had been hot to see them lose inhibitions enough to openly indulge.

‘Knowing that Merlin is trusting us, that we might get more of this.’ Speaking of, the Warlock rolled over in his sleep, Elyan pulling him close and Leon shuffling towards the warmth in unconsciousness, Merlin grabbing the Knight’s arm and wrapping it around his middle. Cute.

**

Neither Arthur nor Lancelot asked why Gwaine had vanished for a bit, they had seen how much he had held back as Merlin writhed in his arms, skin exposed and marked by the Knight. Now, Arthur looked back to where Merlin was sleeping, wondered about the scars that he had.

It was evident that he’d need to wait, for the explanation that he desired. Although he hadn't been able to see Merlin’s eyes, he felt the tears, the way he tensed. Both Lancelot and Gwaine had picked up on it, Gwaine because he could feel Merlin, Lancelot because he knew why, presumably. Surprisingly, he didn’t feel jealous of that fact.

Sharing Merlin might be more simple than he first thought, especially with how arousing it had been to watch Gwaine toy with him. Arthur pondered over this, knowing that things might change when they went back to Camelot, but hoping that his idea of a room to share had been a good one.

Morgana had agreed, looked impressed that he had come to that solution. She’d stated that her Magic would help, and that Gwen would assist. When they returned to the Castle, he was sure that they would want to know about what had happened, would pick up on the marks that Merlin would have to hide with his neckerchief.

Gods, he needed to stop thinking of it. Lancelot, from the knowing look he was giving the King, knew exactly where his mind had been.

**

Morgana grinned, looked around the room while Gwen eyed it up curiously. It had taken a lot of Magic to complete such a thing, and she usually wouldn’t have bothered, but Arthur had looked adorable when asking. Big expressive eyes, a nervous smile, trying to look like the King he was, when he was really a young adult with a crush on his manservant.

The room may have been Arthur’s idea, but Morgana had improved it. Her Magic wasn’t strong enough to invent things from nothing, like Merlin’s, but she could use pre-existing things and improve them. The bedframe was now spreading over the room, a couple of wardrobes with clothes that she figured they would need if they ever left the comfort.

Blankets and cushions, her Magic had gone a little overboard, and she had made the attaching room into a sort-of bath. The metal tub had turned stone, would easily fit three or four full-grown men. As it was the attached servant-quarters, it had a fireplace in it, which she supposed could be used to warm the water. Not that they’d ever need to, Merlin’s Magic could do it.

‘This looks like…’

‘A paradise.’ Morgana finished. Normally, she wouldn’t want to ever think of her brother’s sex life, but if it meant making Merlin happy, then she would take the jump.

‘D’you think he’ll be okay?’ Gwen asked, the concern about Merlin making Morgana smile. It was like they’d adopted him, despite the fact that they were the same age. He was so unsure, when it came to anything but his destiny.

So, it was her duty to make sure that the little Warlock managed to get in bed with six Knights.

‘They’ll keep him safe. And, eventually, he’ll realise he can trust them.’ She thought to the scarring, to the secrets, to the way he refused to show the Knights what he could do with his Magic.

She could only hope that their trip was going well.

Chapter Text

Merlin had hidden the marks from Gaius, had barely been able to look at the Knights without blushing. Still, waking up next to Elyan and Leon, curled in between them, it was incredible. Being back in Camelot was nice, he spent his time catching up on the jobs that that George had taken over, then went to watch Arthur and the Knights training. They were keeping something from him, and when he’d asked about it, they’d stated he had to wait until he’d had the “date-week”.

The first day was with Arthur, and he took Merlin out for a picnic. It was rather nice, filled with Arthur’s teasing about the night in the forest, and Merlin threatening to throw strawberries at him. Eventually, they settled in for casual silence, Merlin snuggling up to the King, who pretended to be annoyed about it but he had a smile on his face.

‘Are you happy, though?’ He’d asked, when the sun was setting and Merlin peeked up at him, slowly moved himself to straddle the King. Arthur grinned lazily, settled his hands on Merlin’s hips, and he suddenly regretted the surge of confidence.

They’d told him that he had to wait till the end of date-week before they could spend another night together, like the one in the forest. It was exciting, to think that he had done such a risky thing, although the others seemed a lot more confident than he had ever felt.

So, straddling Arthur’s hips, he was wishing that the rule could change. He was allowed a kiss, which he took, Arthur’s lips plush against his. A tongue danced along his bottom lip, and Merlin groaned into the kiss, tilted his hips up in hope that Arthur would let that feeling come back, the one that he’d had in the forest.

But Arthur pulled back, rocked his hips once, then relaxed.

‘Not today, Merlin.’

He was annoyed.

**

Lancelot was next, and they spent the day down by the river. As the longest-standing person in the group that knew of his Magic, it was refreshing to have someone that understood. Or, at least, Lancelot knew more than the rest, let a hand come to settle over Nimue’s burn. Merlin didn’t speak, couldn’t, but Lancelot gave him a knowing look.

‘You know that they won’t judge you, Merlin.’ The Warlock tried to hide his head, his eyes always showed too much, but Lancelot’s gentle touch stopped him. Bright blue eyes that sought his out, that Merlin could trust.

‘I’ll try.’ He muttered, smiled as Lancelot ran his fingers into his hair. Typically, that was Gwaine’s favourite thing to do, but Merlin wasn’t picky, any of the Knights could do it and Merlin would melt into a disgusting mess of… well. This. A heat in his stomach that he knew he couldn’t do anything about.

‘C’mere, Merl.’ He settled by his side, Lancelot’s hand holding his, and they spent the rest of the afternoon watching the clouds.

**

‘What was it like, growing up in Ealdor?’ Leon asked, feeding him a strawberry. Merlin chewed on it, sitting in between the Knight’s legs as they spoke of their childhoods. Leon grew up the second-eldest child of Lidar, a man that lived in Odin’s Kingdom. He had been left in Uther’s care to raise as a Knight, adopted by the councillors and kept in Arthur’s presence.

He’d had a pretty good life, all things considered, made a family and was now First Knight. He’d originally been engaged in a marriage that would create a treaty with Nemeth, but Arthur had fought for him against Uther’s suggestion. Merlin was glad, he felt weird when he thought of a single one of his Knights being with somebody else.

‘Quiet. It was really just me and Will, we’d always get in trouble for the mess we’d make.’ Leon noted the name, cocked his head curiously. He’d never push it, although he did squeeze his hand in support.

‘You were close?’

‘Best friends. Once…’ He paused, something in his heart aching,

‘It might have been something more, but he found out about my Magic, and my Ma’ sent me to Camelot.’ There, it hadn't been too bad to admit. Leon nodded, offered out another strawberry, and Merlin was glad for the distraction.

‘So, who was your first?’ It took Merlin a minute to understand the question, and when he did, he felt the blush form. Leon looked down, Merlin moving forwards to look back at him, and he could tell the second the curly-haired Knight realised.

‘You’ve never been with anyone?’ Merlin fidgeted, shook his head.

‘I’ve only kissed someone, Freya, that’s about it. I mean, before you guys.’ Leon looked shocked, but then just opened up his arms and let Merlin curl back up.

**

Evidently, the news of his virginity had spread between the group. Percival didn’t bring it up on their date, even though Merlin could tell he wanted to. Instead, they spent their time in the forbidden library, the one that Uther had locked away after Ygraine’s death. Percival had grown up around Magic, knew of the druidic prophecies about Emrys, and although Merlin didn’t go into detail, they did briefly discuss it.

They spent most of the time reading to each other, Merlin quite enjoying laying his head in Percival’s lap as the Knight told him stories. Although he was the scariest looking Knight, he was also the cuddliest, and Merlin was adoring all the attention.

He never thought he needed so many cuddles, but it was nice. Affection was something that had always been limited to Hunith, occasionally Will. By the time they had read through the books, Percival walked him back to his home and kissed his cheek, and Merlin felt like a teenage girl.

Gaius, for his part, said nothing about the blush on his cheeks as he walked in.

**

‘This is hopeless!’ Elyan exclaimed, the chicken flying away from his grasp once more. Merlin was already on the ground, clutching his stomach with laughter as the Knight tried in vain to collect the chickens he had accidentally let escape on their trip around the Market. Now, quite the crowd had gathered, to watch one of the King’s Knights scramble after the creature, dust being kicked up as Elyan tried talking to it.

‘Merlin, make it work!’ He whined, and the Warlock snorted, a stitch in his side from trying so hard to keep his amusement hidden. Eventually, he took pity on the Knight, used a little Magic to tempt it forwards. Elyan scooped it up, placed it back in the coop, then turned to look at him.

‘Not a word of this, to any of them.’ Merlin smirked, raised one eyebrow in a Gaius-typical manner, and stared at the Knight.

‘And what if I do?’

Arthur found them running through the Castle, Merlin shrieking as Elyan hunted him down. The King just watched in amusement, offering no help for Merlin, who got picked up over the Knight’s shoulder and carried back down the corridor, despite his pleading.

He’d never laughed harder, nor worked himself so tired. The Knight left with a kiss to his lips, longer than considered a simple kiss, and Merlin rocked back when he left.

**

Gwaine didn’t take him to the Tavern, like Merlin had been expecting. Instead, they went out hiking in the woods, Gwaine determined to see the beauty in nature like he did. The Warlock introduced the Knight to his favourite herb-picking spots, the place by the stream where he relaxed, and the quickest route to Aithusa’s hiding spot. The Knight was aware of the baby Dragon, although had never met him yet, that was something Merlin was working himself up to.

They opted for sitting down in the clearing, Merlin collecting herbs while Gwaine took out his sketching. The Knight had begged Merlin to keep it a secret, ever since drunk-Gwaine admitted to such a thing. Merlin’s promise was legitimate, he would never tell that secret, was happy that Gwaine was willing to do such a thing in front of him.

Merlin used a little Magic to coax one of the plants back to life, found Gwaine watching him over the top of his paper. He flashed a grin, the Knight beaming back.

‘So, tomorrow, for the surprise,’ Merlin could hardly wait, not that he was going to admit that, ‘Did you like what happened last time?’ He blushed, couldn’t believe they were going to have a conversation about this so openly.

‘Yeah, I… the blindfold was a good idea. Stopped me panicking.’ Gwaine nodded, hummed thoughtfully as he continued to sketch.

‘You think you’d want it again?’ Almost definitely, it made it easier to focus on what he wanted, rather than panicking about them.

‘If it’s okay…?’

‘Of course it is. Whatever you want, my Warlock.’ Merlin blushed, wouldn’t ever admit that he loved the nickname more than anything, smiled up to the Knight.

‘Thank you.’ Gwaine grinned, flicked a twig at him.

‘You’ll be thanking me after tomorrow.’

**

Merlin settled down with Gwen, the two curled up on the seat in front of the fire, wrapped in blankets. They had been whispering about their relationships, Merlin showing her Gwaine’s faded marks, Gwen squealing as he hesitantly talked about the more physical side.

He’d never been a prude before, not when Gwen talked about her relationship with Morgana. He listened to the dirty details, the things Gwen loved more than anything, the quick ruffle in the closet. The way that Morgana had told Gwen that she wasn’t allowed to wear smallclothes at the last meeting, so that they could fall straight into bed after.

But this was different, it was him, and Gwen took his hand and reassured him that it was okay that he was finding it so overwhelming, that he could take this as far as he wanted, as quickly as he wanted.

The thing was, he wanted it. He didn’t even know what he wanted, just that the sexed-out feeling that came when Gwaine told him he could finish. When he admitted that, Gwen grinned, told him that the best way was to lay his trust in Gwaine, that the Knight would know his limits.

**

Dinner was stew, and Merlin tucked into it while looking at Gaius, who kept sneaking glances at him. Eventually, he put down his spoon and stared at his father-figure, cocking his head curiously.

‘What is it?’ Gaius spluttered, coughed up the soup, then averted his eyes.

‘I may not be your father…’ Merlin scoffed, they’d had this conversation before,

‘But you are my boy. And if you need to talk to me about anything…’ He knew. He knew that Merlin was being courted, or knew something about it.

‘Thank you.’ He muttered, ducked his head and tried not to feel embarrassed. Gaius looked proud, then took a mouthful of the food, with meat that he hoped was chicken.

‘But they are six big men, and if…’

‘We are not having this conversation!’ Merlin shrieked, running to his room with Gaius’ laughter echoing in his ear.

Chapter Text

‘How are we planning on doing this?’ Arthur asked, looking nervous once more. Gwaine would have thought that he was the blushing virgin, not Merlin, who wasn’t yet in the room. He loved their new hideaway, Morgana had informed them that it was a soundproofed room, which Gwaine had fun testing by making the others run outside and screaming insults at them.

Not that he thought Merlin would be screaming. He didn’t think they’d get that far, he wanted to soothe Merlin into their arms, not panic him.

‘Just follow my lead, Princess.’ Gwaine had a plan, to do much the same as last time, but without the wineskin to ease his nerves first. This time, Gwaine would have to trust that Merlin would tell him if it got too much.

‘Who put you in charge?’ Arthur snapped, but more out of worry, than the fact that he had an issue with Gwaine doing this. The Knight rose an eyebrow, and the Princess sighed.

‘Sorry.’ He rarely admitted to being wrong, so it had to be important to him.

‘Are you alright with taking lead again?’ Lancelot inquired, out of politeness, and Gwaine nodded. To him, it didn’t matter too much if he had to focus on Merlin, over himself.

‘Then let us wait for our Sorcerer to arrive.’ Leon suggested, and the group settled themselves on the large bedspread, against the edges, boots off and looking relaxed. Gwaine watched them all, before going in search of the Warlock.

**

Merlin had just finished bathing, got dressed and figured that it would be Gwaine, who came for him. He felt nervous, worried that he wouldn’t do what they wanted, that he disappointed them in some way. Should he call it off? He didn’t think he could stand it if they told him he wasn’t what they wanted anymore, and he would hate…

‘Overthinking?’ Gwaine was in the doorway, leaning against the wall, looking… Hot. His shirt was v-necked slightly, his necklace on show. Merlin looked up to Gwaine, who had a knowing look on his face.

‘Yes.’ He admitted, and the Knight came forwards.

‘Don’t be. We won’t start anything until you’re settled, it’s just like any other time. Plus, you’ve got to explore.’

Explore was the right term for it. The place was incredible, the group chuckling when Merlin stated that he wished he hadn't had a bath before this, staring at the stone bathing room that Morgana must have created with her Magic. The bed looked comfy, and strangely, his nerves disappeared as he moved up onto the bed, settled with his legs over Leon’s lap and rested against Lancelot.

Chat turned to the annoying Councillors that were attempting to get Morgana to show what her Magic could do, they wanted to use it to show that they had powerful allies that would dissuade Odin from war. Merlin, for his part, wasn’t too worried about a War with Odin, if it came to it, he’d get involved.

Lancelot was stroking through his hair again, and Merlin tilted his head up for a kiss, the Knight being more than happy to oblige.

‘Are we interrupting?’ Gwaine teased, and Merlin felt inspired by the smirk. It told him that they were amused, not angry, and so Merlin put on his best no-nonsense face.

‘Actually yes you are.’ Merlin then went back to kissing Lancelot, who chuckled against his lips and tugged him closer, into his lap. Ahh, he loved how small he was compared to them, it was easy to be lifted up and manhandled. When he pulled back, he shot Gwaine a look, one that told him that it was his fault this happened.

Gwaine, however, responded by beckoning him closer. Merlin froze, then slowly moved towards him, watched Gwaine’s eyes darken. Then the Knight was moving, crawling over him and pushing him back to the bed, gentle, and he allowed it to happen. Fingers crept under his neckerchief, while Gwaine pinned him down easily.

‘Going to ask you to do something for me, Merlin.’ The hands moved the neckerchief to his eyes, and he allowed it, no spike of fear this time when it happened.

‘Anything.’ And he meant it, he trusted Gwaine. The Knight chuckled, finished tying the blindfold, then sat back.

‘I’m going to need your Magic for this, my Warlock.’ Oh, oh he didn’t know what it was, but it was hot. Gwaine had just asked him for something that was part of him, had done it so simply, and Merlin fought to keep himself still. Gwaine was taking his hands, moving them to above his head.

‘Can you do that for me?’ Merlin focused, concentrated even though it was hard when Gwaine’s body was pressed against his and he wanted nothing more than to urge him onwards, to do something. He knew it worked, felt the warmth spread over his hands, tying them together. It was fabric, he figured, and Gwaine chuckled.

‘Kinky.’ He didn’t ask, just felt them tighten and then pushed his Magic away, he didn’t need it for this. Gwaine pressed a kiss to his cheek, then climbed back, settled by his side. Close enough that he was there, if Merlin needed him.

‘Well, who’s first?’ Merlin teased, even though he couldn’t see, wiggling his hips slightly.

**

Gwaine had watched the golden light with awe, watched the cord wrap around his hands. Did Merlin have any idea what he had done? The Knight shifted, trying to keep his arousal from pressing against Merlin, even if he could feel that Merlin was interested, from the pressure he was straddling.

‘Kinky.’ It was, tightened the ropes and then briefly kissed his cheek, rolled to the side and eyed up the others. It was funny, how quickly they were entranced by Merlin, how he could already see the tell-tale signs that they were interested.

And then, Merlin had to provoke them. Arthur moved first, with Leon by his side and the others watching in amusement. Gwaine watched as the King pressed a kiss to Merlin’s lips, the Warlock obviously surprised, trying to chase after them. But Arthur’s intention was to keep going, lips beginning to move down his neck, to the edge of his shirt.

Hands moved under his shirt, before in one, quick movement, Arthur ripped it.

Gwaine watched Merlin’s breathing hitch, and knew that this was only going to get worse.

**

Gods, he couldn’t breathe. There were hands on his chest, lips sucking and biting at his neck, and fingers tracking his breeches down his legs. He lifted them, strong thumbs pressing into the soles of his feet, and he didn’t know whether to laugh or sob. He tried to arch his hips up, desperate for some form of pressure, but the hands that had been on his chest shoved him back down.

He didn’t want to beg. Well, he did, if it meant that it would achieve anything, but he knew they would be smug. Whoever it was, and his brain was just about functioning to tell him it was Arthur, was doing a brilliant job of winding him up.

Something hot sealed over his nipple, teeth grazing, and Merlin cried out. His hands strained against the ties, but he couldn’t break from them, so he just bucked up and hoped that he would do it again. He did it again, licked and sucked and then there were hands spreading his legs, fingers tracking up his bare skin and lips kissing the inside of his knees.

He knew where they were heading, but he’d lost all ability to do anything but squirm. Someone was kissing him, which was confusing because now there were definitely three people on him, and Merlin couldn’t stop it.

‘Please!’ Someone was laughing, but Merlin just continued to plead, until a hand pressed down over his cock. Friction, finally, and Merlin wanted more. Arched his hips, tried to thrust up, but the hand was gone.

‘No, no, please…’ Lips back over his, and Merlin had decided that they were being horrible.

‘What do you want?’ Arthur murmured, lips against his own. Merlin didn’t even know what he was asking for, just something, anything, to take the ache from between his legs. Teeth were back on his chest, a warning nip, and Arthur repeated the question. So, he was working with someone, the cheat.

‘Anything.’ Merlin begged, and the hand returned to his cock. Vaguely, he could hear the sounds of muttered words and grunting, face growing hot as he realised that the others were getting off to this.

And then, Merlin had an idea. A very good idea, which he stopped squirming to think about.

‘What’s going on in your head, my Warlock?’ Gwaine’s voice was back, and Merlin turned his head towards the Knight, grinned.

‘Magic.’ He let it move, sneaking out across the room, trusted that it would work. He could tell the moment it did, six men gasped at the same time, before a chorus of groans filled the room. Merlin had to focus slightly, twisting the pressure so it moved across their lips, then down across the expanse of their chests.

‘Minx.’ Growled, and Arthur was stripping his shirt off, he could hear others stripping clothes, felt a hot heat against his thigh. Oh Goddess, he knew what that was, urged both his Magic and thigh as an offering to them.

‘Bloody hell, Merlin.’ Gwaine gasped, and it was evidently working, he could feel it as if it was his own hands trailing over skin, but six bodies at the same time.

He was pretty sure this was not what all his mentors had meant, when they told him to explore the potential of his Magic. Still, it was a good use of it, especially with the way that it was winding them up.

‘Off, please, off!’ Hands were gripping his smallclothes, finally, and he lifted his hips to help them down. He didn’t care that he was fully exposed, especially not when a hand wrapped around him. He was down for that, urged his hips into the movement. His Magic began to focus on the three closest to him, Arthur, Lancelot and Merlin presumed the last was Leon, and he felt the change in the room almost instantly.

He couldn’t hold back, cried out as the hand around him squeezed, and that was it. His stomach was painted, Merlin shuddering and pushing his last bit of energy into the Magic, and Arthur grunted above him. Lips back against his, and then wetness against his chest, swallowing down Arthur’s groan. Lancelot was gasping by his side, Merlin turning his now-free from Arthur face to his bare thigh. That was all Lancelot could take, groaning his name.

Hey, Merlin was getting good at this. Leon was the only one left, and Merlin hooked his ankles around his body, from where he’d been resting between them. Dragged him forwards, encouraged the Knight to rut against him. His cock was beginning to take interest already, Magic working on filling it, and Leon gasped.

‘Yeah, c’mon.’ Merlin encouraged, and Leon chuckled, nipped at his jaw. It felt too good, having a weight pinning him down, hooking his leg around the Knight’s waist as he was rutted against, moaned at the feeling.

This was what he’d been missing, and he decided that he wasn’t ever going to go without this feeling. Leon gasped, shuddering above him, and Merlin worked him through it, knew he had to look a mess.

‘Want more?’ Gwaine was back, sounding strained, and Merlin nodded.

‘Yeah, where’s Elyan and Percival?’ Chuckling, like they were surprised that he knew which one was which. There was some shuffling about, until a hand held his hip, and Merlin recognised it as Percival.

‘Okay?’ Percival questioned, kissing his hip, and oh Goddess Merlin thought he was going to explode if someone didn’t touch him.

‘Uh huh, please, need…’

‘We know.’ Elyan soothed, kissing his lips as Percival’s mouth closed around his cock. Merlin didn’t know whether to push his hips up, or cry, or gasp. Elyan licked into his mouth, hands moving to his chest and thumbs pressing down. It felt so good, Merlin could do nothing but moan, while the hot heat around him kept licking.

He started a casual rhythm, his brain just about managing to keep the pattern, falling in time with the hips thrusting against his leg.

‘Oh Gods.’ Elyan’s head thumped back against the frame, Merlin could hear it, and he let his Magic explore once more, thanking the Knight for the pleasure.

**

Gwaine had never seen such a sight. Even in all his years… it was incredible. Merlin had just finished for the second time, arching up into Percival’s mouth, and the Knight finished across the Warlock’s chest.

It was a mess, a hot, sticky mess. The Knights were pressed back, most naked, slumped and sweaty, exhausted. Gwaine tried not to focus on the pressure between his thighs, moved over to Merlin and ran a hand through the mess on his chest, taking two fingers and pressing them to Merlin’s lips.

‘Open.’ The Warlock didn’t hesitate, lips parting and sucking, and that pressure went straight to his cock.

‘Going to take this off.’ Merlin lifted his head, and he untied the neckerchief. Golden eyes, hazy with pleasure, and Gwaine pressed a kiss to his lips.

‘Did so well.’ He praised, reaching for the cord tying his hands. It undid easily enough, the skin underneath red but not badly, like his Magic had been protecting him. It was a nice thought, to know that they couldn’t go too far, otherwise his Magic would tell them.

‘W’bout you?’ Merlin questioned, grabby hands that tried to reach for him. Gwaine had stripped his shirt off, left his breeches but he wasn’t wearing any smallclothes underneath, and the hand that pressed over his cock was almost too much.

‘Wanna make you feel good.’ Merlin’s eyes were so innocent, wide puppy-dog expression, and Gwaine had to have something.

‘Just… just like this.’ He rolled Merlin so that the Warlock was facing the others, pushed a knee between the man’s legs and unlaced his breeches. Chest pressed to Merlin’s back, slotting his dick between Merlin’s legs and thrusting.

‘Gods, Merlin.’ Head to his shoulder, and the Warlock encouraged the movements. He reached around, wrapped a hand around Merlin’s cock, which was hardening once more.

‘Think you can go once more?’

**

Merlin gasped out Gwaine’s name, barely able to move as his third high rocked through him. Gwaine moaned against his shoulder-blade, a heat splashing against his back, and that was it. He slumped, unable to do anything but rest, needing what felt like years of sleep.

‘Need to clean up, Merls.’ Lancelot whispered gently, while Gwaine was attempting to manoeuvre him. Merlin, however, could think of nothing he wanted more than to be tucked up between them, fast asleep.

The spell took the last of his energy, the mess disappearing and fresh sheets forming underneath them.

‘Impressive.’ Percival muttered, the others looking amused, and Merlin rolled into the pile of pillows and buried his head into it. Didn’t care that he was nude, he just wanted sleep. A hand closed over his back, where the Serket sting was, but he couldn’t do this now.

‘Even fucked-out, you’re still able to perform Magic.’ He would explain, eventually, that he didn’t perform Magic. That he WAS magic, it came as easily as breathing. He reached for Gwaine, grabby hands.

‘Cuddles please.’ He was rewarded with a press of limbs, and he settled.

That was better.

Chapter Text

Merlin woke to a tangle of limbs, heat pressed against him, and hushed murmurs of people trying to talk while allowing him to sleep. Cute, but he was awake now, flicked his eyes open and took in the surroundings. He was lying on top of Gwaine, Lancelot to his side, and he was completely bare. The Warlock grumbled, which resulted in Gwaine’s laughter.

‘Morning, sunshine.’ The nickname was new, but he was usually not a morning person, so he could understand.

‘What time s’it?’

‘Just after sunrise.’ Gwaine replied, and Merlin hummed, crawled upwards slightly and settled back down against his naked chest. Comfy.

‘Breakfast. Hungry.’ Percival grumbled, rolling from the bed. Evidently, the others were in agreement, all stumbling around trying to reach for clothes. The only ones that didn’t move were Lancelot and Gwaine, who knew that Merlin was more than capable of summoning breakfast for them.

‘Alright, what are you sniggering about?’ Arthur questioned, one boot on, his breeches unlaced and his shirt off, hair a mess.

‘Breakfast.’ Merlin muttered, eyes lighting gold. The bed seemed heavier a moment later, plates of food appearing, ranging from pastries to beans and sausages. He’d never seen the Knights move so quickly, shedding the boots and diving back onto the bed, snatching up the food like they’d been starving for weeks.

Gwaine took a plate, offered him out a bite of pastry. Merlin happily snacked on it, still sleepy, one of Gwaine’s hands resting on his hip.

‘Where’d you get this one?’ His thumb brushed over a scar, tiny and white, sitting on his hip. The blankets covered him from the waist down, and he moved till his back was pressed to Gwaine’s chest, so he could better access the mark.

‘Sword.’ Merlin mumbled around a mouthful of food, for which Gwaine tapped him on the nose like a puppy. The Knight knew just when to push for answers, he mused, as his finger moved to the next mark.

‘This one?’ He waited till he’d swallowed his food before answering.

‘Crossbow.’ Gwaine hummed, thoughtful, and continued trekking. Most of the answers were simple, arrows, various swords or daggers, the occasional accidental trip or landing on something sharp. When he reached the burn, he skipped over it and went to the mark on the back of his neck, usually hidden by the neckerchief.

‘This?’

‘Morgause. Fomorroh, evil snake thing under the skin.’ He was rewarded with more breakfast, and in all truth, he would answer any question if it meant more breakfast. Gwaine’s hand tracked back to the burn on his chest, eyeing it up curiously, but not asking. Leaving Merlin the choice.

‘Burn, from Nimueh.’ That caused a reaction, several heads looking in his direction, from where they’d been pretending not to listen.

‘I would say I’d kill her, but I presume I didn’t have the pleasure.’ Gwaine remarked carefully, Merlin nodding and rolling back onto his stomach, giving the Knight access to his back.

‘Serket sting.’ Gwaine murmured, tracing it like it would hurt, and Merlin remembered how painful that one had been. Had it not been for Kilgharrah saving him, and Morgana finding his body once the Dragon’s fire had done its work, he would have been dead.

‘Morgause. Snuck out after her, and she abandoned me in a pit of Serkets.’ Gwaine’s arms wrapped around him, anger burning in his eyes. Lancelot ruffled his hair, and Merlin smiled. There, unjudgmental, he should give his boyfriends (was that what they were?) more faith.

‘Good thing she’s dead.’ He grumbled, while Lancelot gave Gwaine a frown.

‘These?’ The whip-marks, Merlin shot a worried look to Arthur, then continued.

‘One of the Guards. Uther thought I was a spy.’ Arthur looked ready to pass-out, the others looked awkward, unsure about openly cursing the previous King, but also not happy.

Gwaine, however, had no hesitation.

‘Bastard.’ Merlin chuckled, pressed a quick kiss to his lips, before a sharp pain stabbed through his head.

Ow, ow he sat up quickly, tried to work out why his Magic was going haywire.

‘Merlin?’ There was only one person, he realised, that could have his Magic reacting like that.

Morgana.

**

One second Gwaine was hand-feeding his Warlock, who was like a content kitten, the next they were running down the corridor while Merlin was barely dressed. The door to the Queen’s Chamber was thrown open, and Gwaine halted.

Gwen was in the centre of the room, tears in her eyes as she begged Morgana to stop. Morgana, who was holding a knife against her own arm, eyes golden and confused.

Merlin didn’t hesitate, threw himself straight between them and lunged for Morgana, shouting at Gwen to go and get Gaius. She scampered from the room, while Gwaine watched as Merlin disarmed the Lady in a move that he had taught him. No time to be proud, though, because once the knife was on the floor, it got worse.

Every window in the room shattered, and the door slammed shut behind them.

**

Merlin knew that Morgana was a Seer. They had discussed it many times, spent days exploring her gift. When the nightmares came, Morgana would sneak from Gwen’s bed and come to his, so that he could assure her that the future was not set in stone. This was not the first time she had risen a knife to her own skin, he understood, the nightmares made it hard to tell what was real.

The windows shattered, and Merlin took hold of her wrists, so that she could harm herself no longer.

‘Morgana, look at me!’ He was close to using his Dragonlord voice, that usually snapped her out of it, but she blinked.

‘Emrys.’ Okay, so not quite the name he was expecting, and he barely had time to throw up a shield before the shattered pieces of glass began to rise, Arthur warning him in a voice that told Merlin it had to look bad.

‘What do you see, Morgana?’ He had seen the future before, had it tear apart his mind in panic, and Morgana was the same.

‘You’re going to kill me. You’re going to kill me, and I’m a monster! I kill Arthur!’ Sobbing now, eyes so confused, and lost, and Merlin pulled her closer.

‘Listen to me, that’s not going to happen, remember? We changed it, you and me, to keep Arthur safe.’ Morgana looked to him, green fighting through gold, and Merlin pressed his forehead to hers. Let her see the memories, of her ready to run, to go to Morgause’s side, and Merlin begging her to come back.

‘Merlin.’ Gaius was entering the room, just as Morgana said his name, and the girl lunged. He caught her, the glass hitting the floor once more, her arms wrapping around him as she sobbed.

‘It’s only a small cut, can you have a look?’ He moved one of her arms to offer it to Gaius, the physician coming forwards and dabbing at it, while Morgana kept her head tucked under his chin.

‘I suggest a sleeping draught, if she’s had a vision.’ Morgana didn’t respond, so Merlin had to agree. The cut was wrapped, and Merlin tried to unwrap the lady from his body.

‘Gana, you’re going to need a sleeping draught, okay? It’ll help your Magic rest.’ Morgana’s watery eyes looked up at him, trusting, and he remembered this moment from when he first told her of his Magic.

‘I don’t want a potion, Merlin. You do it, please.’ Gaius paused, Merlin looking to his mentor for advice, but he said nothing.

‘Please! I trust you, Merlin. Just the two of us, remember!’ He did remember, and the promise that he had made was the truth. The two of them, and their Magic, would stop destiny from killing the others. He nodded, cupped her cheek and smiled.

‘Just us, I promise.’ The spell was whispered, and Morgana fell immediately. He caught her, scooped her up and worried when he realised she weighed less than the last time he had done this. He carried her across to Gwen’s bed, laid her down gently.

‘Is her Magic responding?’ Gaius asked, peering down, and Merlin paused. A quick spell, to fix the shattered glass, then another to see if she was responding to him.

‘She’s fine, just needs to rest.’ Merlin concluded, tucking her in and wondering if this was his fault, he hadn't been focusing on her as much recently.

‘You’re Magic’s getting stronger.’ Gaius commented, something Merlin had noticed as well, but he didn’t want to think too much about that. Not now.

‘Is she…’ Arthur came closer, and Merlin moved to the side.

‘Fine, she’ll be okay. The visions, sometimes they can be scary.’ Arthur just stared at him, then looked back down to his sister. Concerned, but unable to do anything.

‘Thank you.’ Arthur said, sincerely, and Merlin nudged his shoulder. The King smiled, didn’t think as he leant in and pressed a kiss to Merlin’s lips, then seemed to realise what he had just done. Gwen was beaming, and Gaius was doing a good job of pretending to be intrigued by his potions.

**

‘Why did you get kicked out again?’ Merlin asked, sinking back against Gwaine’s body, the Knight massaging his shoulders with moves that should be illegal. Honestly, he was good at this.

‘I kept telling the councillors to shove their ideas about Magic up their arse.’ Of course he did, Merlin thought, sighing as the warm water rose up higher.

Arthur had kicked him out of a meeting, and so the two of them had gone for a bath. Gwaine had collected water, showing off those arm muscles that Merlin got so easily distracted about, before Merlin showed that he could have filled it with Magic.

Now, they were in the bubbles that Merlin’s Magic crafted, Gwaine’s hands soothing out the tension.

‘Rebel.’ Teasing, and Merlin decided to turn, straddling Gwaine’s hips and settling on his lap. The press of Gwaine’s ring dug into his chest, the Knight looking up at him like he was… special. Worth something, and Merlin kissed him.

He should have known that it would quickly get out of hand, the two of them kissing as water splashed over the edges of the bath. Hands were gripping his arse, rocking him against the hot heat between them, and Merlin gasped as the friction built.

They were standing, Merlin’s legs wrapping around Gwaine’s hips on instinct, arms around his neck as he lifted them out. They only made it to the floor, however, Merlin’s back hitting the cold floor and a soapy Gwaine settling between his thighs, hips gliding easily with the wet skin between them.

‘Gwaine, please…’ Kisses, bitten lips and hitching of breath as a hand hooked under his knee, it felt too good, and Merlin tugged at the long hair.

‘Look so good, so pretty, want to take you apart.’ Gwaine growled, voice like sin, and Merlin groaned. Urged him on, hands moving to his lower back and spreading his thighs wider.

Then, he had an idea. Hooked his ankle and twisted, until Gwaine was on the bottom, the Knight looking slightly shocked by his strength.

Merlin then focused on moving down the slippery body, hands trailing over muscle, under he reached his destination. He had never done such a thing, but Percival had done it yesterday, licked and sucked at him until he felt like he was riding a high that would never end.

And Gwaine had been so patient with him, had worked him through all of it, without worrying about himself. So, Merlin wrapped a hand around Gwaine’s cock, the Knight gasping and fighting to keep his hips down. It couldn’t be too confusing, Merlin thought, cautiously tasting.

Musky, slightly salty, and a little hint of the soap that Merlin had lathered them both up with. Intrigued, he moved down further, kept his teeth firmly out of the way and used his tongue like he’d been shown last night. Gwaine was cursing, hands reaching for Merlin’s hair and tugging, trying not to push him. Now, Merlin wasn’t completely unaware of what happened here, he knew that there was a point at which he’d gag.

He found it, focused on sucking air through his nose, relaxed his throat. He was doing this for Gwaine, wanted to watch him as he came apart. It was working, Gwaine’s body arched beautifully, eyes screwed shut and lips parted as he gasped. Encouraged, he dropped the hand that had been holding the heat in his mouth, let his lips move down until his nose touched the coarse hair at the end.

The shout of his name told him he’d done well, moaned around Gwaine as the Knight gripped his hair, began to lightly thrust his hips. He must be doing okay, if he was responding like this, Merlin thought, letting Gwaine take control and watching. Tears pricked at the corners of his eyes, but he was pretty sure that if Gwaine kept attacking his hair, he was going to finish without a hand on his cock.

‘Merlin, gods, need to… I’m going to…’ Yes, yes that was what he wanted, swallowed down and licked at the underside, hummed gently in a hope that the vibrations would help. It worked, his head shoved down as Gwaine emptied down his throat, swallowed it down hungrily and pushed his hips down to the cold floor, emptying himself onto the stone.

‘Bloody fuck, Merlin.’ Good, he pulled off with a smug smile, watched Gwaine’s eyes rake down him hungrily before focusing on the fact that Merlin had spilt onto the floor.

‘That got you off?’ Merlin blushed, Gwaine’s talk was vulgar.

‘You kept tugging my hair.’ He admitted, letting his Magic clean the mess, just as the doors swung open.

Arthur paused, staring at the two of them, while the Knights pushed in to see what had distracted the King. Merlin squeaked, tried to reach for something to cover him, while Gwaine just laid back against the stone.

‘Best blowjob ever.’

Chapter Text

Merlin had never seen this side of the Knights, was quite enjoying the chatter around them and the music in the corner, the hum of people moving around the Tavern. They had left their Kingdom, because it would not be good for the King to be seen in a Tavern with a Warlock almost on his lap, especially not when he had a wife. It was an adventure, of sorts, a trip out that meant Merlin could relax, could deal with the fact that all six of them flirted with him at once.

Lancelot left to go to the bar, while the others continued to talk about general things, Arthur’s annoyance at Morgana’s stubbornness, how Gwen had been kind enough to take over ruling for the couple of days they would be gone. Merlin, for his part, was content to sit back against Arthur, looking around and frowning when his gaze landed on Lancelot.

The Knight was trying to get some drinks, and a Lady, if she could be called that, had come dangerously close. Merlin watched as she bent down slightly, offering out a view, and felt a stab of something in his stomach. Jealousy? Lancelot was blushing, trying his best to evade, and Merlin found himself standing up and walking across before he could even think about what he was doing.

It wasn’t uncommon, for Knights to bed their servants. It was uncommon for a servant to get jealous, to wrap an arm around his Knight and glare at the woman like he would smite her on the spot, tilting his head up for a kiss. Lancelot looked amused, kissed him properly on the mouth, and the woman disappeared.

‘Jealous?’ Lancelot inquired, a hand resting on the small of Merlin’s back.

‘I don’t know what you mean.’ Merlin shot back, rather enjoying the fact that Lancelot had no qualms about openly showing affection. Not that Merlin would have minded if he didn’t, he knew his place, but this was nice.

‘I have eyes for nobody but you, Merl.’ His Knight promised, and Merlin blushed.

**

They decided to stay at an Inn, the group going to book a couple of rooms, while Elyan gave Merlin a hand with the horses. The Knight didn’t want the Warlock walking around alone, even if he was fully capable of looking after himself. Plus, it felt slightly wrong, to treat him with so much love, then leave him to the duties of a servant.

‘Elyan?’ He’d been staring, the man realised, at Merlin. It was quite a common occurrence, really, Merlin was quite pretty to look at. Big eyes and pretty cheekbones, endless amounts of pale skin that he could get lost staring at. It was quite embarrassing, how quickly he had fallen for the man.

‘Sorry, I just…’ He then paused, realised he did not need to apologise anymore, that Merlin was perfectly aware that Elyan thought him attractive. Still, as he walked across, he made sure to check Merlin for any signs of hesitancy, for fear.

He wasn’t expecting the man to grip his shirt and tug him closer, until Merlin was pressed to the stable door and Elyan finally had a hold of him. So pliant, light as he reached down and hooked his hands under his knees, Merlin’s legs wrapping around his waist. The taste of ale, and sweetness and something so typically Merlin, that it had his heart hammering away before he’d even managed to explore. Hands under his shirt, trusting Merlin to keep his legs around him, letting his fingers track the edges of every mark, every gentle curve.

The sounds were sinful, tiny gasps and breathless pants from both of them, and Elyan groaned as he realised just how tight his breeches had got. Now was not the time, not in a stable in the middle of a village that was not in their Kingdom, not when the others would be wondering where they had got to. Not that he wasn’t allowed to have time with Merlin to himself, they had all agreed that jealousy wasn’t the way to go.

Regretfully, he pulled back, rested his forehead to Merlin’s as he tried to regain his breathing. The sorcerer didn’t look much better, the dark in his eyes blown and his skin flushed.

‘We should be… getting back.’ He didn’t want to, but when things finally happened between the two of them, just the two of them, he wanted to take his time. Plus, he didn’t want to push too far, knew that Merlin would do anything if he thought it would make one of them happy. Gwaine, so far, seemed to be the only one that actually recognised where Merlin’s limits lay.

‘I know. Just… one more kiss?’ Merlin asked, a pretty pout on his lips that meant Elyan was all the more happy to oblige.

**

‘I just don’t get it. The whole sibling thing.’ Gwaine remarked lazily. Although they had a couple of rooms to split between them, they had joined in one for the evening, to relax and talk. The conversation had turned to Morgana and Arthur’s bond, the growing trust between them.

‘Siblings naturally have a connection.’ Elyan argued, and Merlin tried his best not to think of earlier, in the stables. What was coming over him? He used to be fine without a single touch, for ages on end, and now he craved hands all over him. A harlot, that was what he was becoming.

‘No they don’t!’ Gwaine snapped back, and Arthur butted into the conversation.

‘No, he’s right. Being a sibling starts something, but the bond is built through trust.’ Gwaine huffed, and Merlin looked across to the moody Knight.

‘Maybe you’re the exception.’ He offered, and heads snapped between them.

‘You have a sibling?’ Had they presumed him an only child? Merlin froze, realising that he might have given away more of Gwaine’s secrets than the Knight wanted, but the man just shrugged.

‘A bratty harlot of a sister.’ An accurate description, Merlin thought.

‘Half-sister.’ He chimed in, and Gwaine chuckled.

‘Got all the good parts from the other half.’ He added, and Merlin had to agree. Gwaine was quite good-looking, whereas his sister was… not.

‘How come we don’t know about her?’ This was bordering onto something else, Merlin realised. Each of them had a relationship with him, and a brotherhood tying them together. But, now he was bringing them closer together. A season or two ago, Gwaine would never have answered these questions, didn’t want to bring any of this up.

‘Because she’s a creature of evil.’ Gwaine stated very seriously, before his hands began to wander, naturally seeking Merlin out. The Warlock noted it, casually moved closer to the Knight. If Gwaine realised what he had done, he gave no indication of it, whereas Merlin knew the others had made a note of it.

**

‘And then, she turned herself into a man!’ There were laughs, cheers, and Merlin listened to the tales of a sorcerer that was clearly bullshitting there way through a story, while the Knights all looked confused.

‘Impossible.’

‘Obviously, there isn’t a spell for that.’

‘Is there?’ Heads turned to him, and Merlin struggled to contain a laugh. Trust the bunch of them to go out, seeking tales of Magic, only to doubt them when they found them.

‘It’s possible.’ Merlin remarked, eyeing up the sorcerer that had reportedly been born a woman, only to turn himself into a man. It looked like a man, Merlin had to agree with that, but there was no way that he was strong enough to attempt that sort of spell.

‘Just not very likely. It would take a lot of Magic, and a well-practiced sorcerer.’ Morgana, potentially, could do such a thing with a little more control. Merlin knew, from one bored afternoon and a very dangerous idea, that he could do such a thing. But he had no idea if any old sorcerer could do it, it didn’t seem very likely.

‘We need you on more of these trips. We know nothing about Magic.’ The group concluded, and Merlin had to agree with them. Idiots, the bunch of them.

He pushed through the crowds, made his way towards the sorcerer, just to get a better read on his Magic. Nothing dangerous, from what he could tell, and Merlin was pleased. Nothing to ruin their date-trip.

**

‘This is a ridiculous dare.’ Gwaine grumbled, almost tripping over. They were on the trip home, and had decided it would be a good idea to drink some wine, then dare each other to do the most idiotic things. Merlin, for his part, was watching the entire thing with a smile. Arthur had lost his shirt to the fire, Elyan had been made to fight Percival with a wooden stick instead of a sword, and now Gwaine had his shirt tied around his head, attempting to locate Lancelot.

If he managed to find the Knight, then he’d get a drink from the wineskin. If not, he’d probably have to sacrifice his portion of alcohol to the rest of the group.

‘We could have made you dress up as a girl.’ Arthur offered, and the others seemed amused at the thought. Merlin disagreed, Gwaine would never suit a corset and a dress, far too muscular for such a thing. Not that he was staring.

‘I’d be a brilliant girl. Still able to beat your arse.’ The Knight stated, before his hand reached out and landed on the one of the horses, at its flank.

‘You’re not Lancelot.’ Gwaine concluded, and Merlin had never laughed harder.

Chapter Text

‘Logically, only one of us can do this.’ That was the question, wasn’t it? Who got the chance, to take Merlin’s virginity. Gwaine figured this would be the one thing they fought over, looked to each of the strong-willed men that would think it only fair that is should be them. He, for one, wasn’t bothered. It should be Merlin’s decision, not theirs.

‘Then how do we decide?’ What would they suggest? Flipping a coin? A game of poker? He rolled his eyes, continued to focus on the fact that they should be training. Merlin needed to be the one to think about this, to try and make the decision. Luckily, he was not the only one who thought so.

‘We could ask Merlin?’ Lancelot was, like him, more in tune with Merlin’s needs. Not that the Knights didn’t know Merlin, they did, just sometimes couldn’t picture his thoughts.

‘But what if he chooses?’ And that was the point, was it not? That they had to learn to deal with the fact that it would be one of them, and not the other six. Masculinity, wanting to be the one to take something that did not belong to them.

‘Then we have to accept the decision.’ Arthur stated, lowering his sword and levelling each of them a stare, that dared them to argue. Gwaine, for once, was in agreement with the Princess.

**

‘Evening, Leon.’ Merlin smiled up at the Knight, moved across to make space for him. The First Knight smiled right back at him, and as soon as he had taken a seat, Merlin curled up close to him. A hand was in his hair on instinct, and he liked the fact that they all paid attention to what he wanted. To the things he liked.

‘Good evening. Why out here, all alone?’ The stars, that was why, they looked even brighter when he was alone. Shone, lighting up the dark, a peaceful state.

‘Peaceful, isn’t it?’ Merlin supposed that for a Knight, peace came with light. Knowing things, the security of the Castle Walls. It was nice that he had given up such a thing, to come and sit with Merlin.

‘I suppose. Rather scary, if you ask me.’ He chuckled, and Merlin tilted his head up, urging for stories about the time he wasn’t here, not in Camelot. Leon was more than happy to oblige, and he rested back against him.

**

Morgana had the scariest feeling, something deep in her gut, that told her something bad was coming. She paced the room, looked out over the dark sky. It terrified her, the things that could be outside of the walls, so many things she couldn’t control. Merlin used to sneak them out, to teach her the wonders of her Magic, and she adored the lessons. But, she couldn’t stray far from his side.

‘Love?’ Gwen came walking in, dressed in some of her formal robes. She’d had a meeting today, at Arthur’s side, and it never failed to make Morgana sad, the fact that she could never openly kiss Gwen, declare her adoration for her. And, one day, people would start asking why the Queen did not bear a child, why she remained barren.

‘Morgana, what’s wrong?’ She wanted children. Wanted someone to love, to raise and cherish, to cradle in her arms and call her own. To raise with Gwen, was that so much to ask?

Hands took hers, and she looked up to her Queen, to her love. She must have been crying, for her cheeks felt wet, and her chest ached.

‘I want more. I don’t… I just want you, Gwen. Always.’ Guinevere, as she always did, comforted her. Held her close, pulled her in and hugged her, kissed her lips gently and cradled her face.

‘You’ve got me, Morgana.’ She couldn’t help but think that something was going to go wrong, something would break them apart.

**

‘I’m sorry?’ Merlin questioned, staring up at Leon in confusion. Spending the night in his bed, just cuddling, although there had been some heated kissing.

‘Not that we’re pushing you! But… but we want you to be safe. To feel safe.’ Merlin blinked, tried to understand everything that Leon had just said. On a basic level, Merlin knew that he couldn’t lose his virginity to all of them. That they would all have their first times, but someone had to be the one to… He blushed, looked up to Leon, who was smiling.

‘It’s okay, whoever you pick.’ Good, because, when he thought about all the things he was unsure of, how it worked, and whether or not it would feel very good, there was only one person he really thought that he could trust with it.

‘It’s written all over your face.’ Leon remarked with a chuckle, and Merlin blushed.

‘Would you want us there? Or just…’

‘All of you.’ He didn’t even need to think about that, and even if he was slightly unsure of the practicalities of such a thing, he knew that he wanted the others with him. That he wanted to feel all of them, that his Magic would help tether them together.

‘Okay. Okay, we can make that work.’

**

Gwaine watched as Leon came across for training, the Knight looking incredibly well-rested. Merlin had spent the night with him, as far as they were all concerned, and it was nice to see Leon’s smile. Even if he was slightly late, for the first time ever.

‘Morning.’ Arthur greeted, not at all concerned by the fact that his first Knight was late.

‘Good morning.’ Gwaine was wondering if he could skip training, he was rather hungry. He’d missed breakfast, and had been drinking last night.

‘I asked him.’ Training was completely forgotten, swords abandoned and the group gathering around him. Gwaine was amused, they acted so rashly, when it came to Merlin. Did they not see, that there was no time limit on their relationship. They could take their time with Merlin, make him realise that he was worth every moment they had.

‘He said he wants us all there, regardless.’ Of course he did, Merlin wanted all of them, would have them all at once if he could. There wasn’t a bad bone in his body, Gwaine mused, staring up at the sun.

‘Sounds like Merlin.’ Lancelot remarked with a chuckle.

‘What did he say?’ Elyan asked, and Leon paused.

‘He didn’t even need to answer. It was pretty clear.’ Gwaine squinted, the sun was far too bright, and he was beginning to regret lying down in the first place. He then realised they’d all gone quiet, five heads turned in his direction.

Oh.

‘Me?’

**

Merlin hovered on the boundary, before stepping into Gwaine’s room. The Knight had invited him in, but he was still unsure about being here, so confused and worried that he would be laughed at.

‘You’re overthinking again, Merlin.’ Gwaine hadn't even turned to face him, was stripping off his sword and armour, and Merlin took a moment to appreciate the sight.

‘I was wondering if I could… ask some questions.’ Surprisingly, Gwaine turned immediately, settled on the bed and gestured for Merlin to join him. The Warlock scrambled onto his lap, flicked the door shut with Magic and lit the fire. He only realised that he’d used Magic so freely, once he was settled, but Gwaine didn’t seem to mind.

‘About what Leon asked you?’ So, they’d all heard.

‘I swear I’ve never seen men so good at talking.’ He grumbled, Gwaine chuckling and wrapping an arm around him, tugging him closer. Merlin tucked his head under Gwaine’s chin, let himself go boneless.

‘We care about you. They want to make sure everything they do, is in your best interests.’ Merlin understood that, it was why he wasn’t angry that they were talking about him. After all, if he spent last night with Leon, and tonight had asked if he could stay with Percival, then it was only fair that the others were involved in that.

‘I know. I’m just… not used to this.’ Gwaine’s fingers brushed aside his hair, and Merlin didn’t panic when his Magic reached out, aching for the same affection.

‘But you will be, by the time we’re through with you.’ A teasing tone, Merlin’s fingers coming to rest over Gwaine’s heart.

‘Thank you, Gwaine.’ He said it sincerely, looked up into his eyes and saw the same adoration that his heart felt.

‘So, questions?’ He paused, feeling rather shy, and Gwaine spotted the way he tensed immediately.

‘You don’t have to be embarrassed, about asking questions. You’ve never done this before, we want to make this good for you.’ With that in mind, Merlin shoved aside his worries, trusted that Gwaine wouldn’t mock him.

‘How does it work? Like…’ He trailed off, and Gwaine’s hand came to settle over his, keeping it at the Knight’s chest.

‘Oil. Lots of it, and you nice and relaxed. To make it comfortable, I’ll work you open with my fingers, until you’re used to the stretch.’ Merlin had to admit, the way Gwaine said it so casually, it helped. Merlin pondered the thought, quite liked the idea of Gwaine’s rough fingers on his skin.

‘Does it hurt?’

‘Maybe a little, but I’ll be thorough. I don’t want you anything but happy, Merls.’

‘And it’ll feel good?’

‘I’ve never been on the bottom, but from what I’ve heard, it’s incredible, if done right.’ That sounded okay, Gwaine would never hurt him, and he would be more than happy to let the Knight try.

‘Once… it happens, can the others…’ He stopped, felt rather like a harlot, a blush picking up on his cheeks. His Magic tingled, and Gwaine shifted slightly.

‘It might be slightly sore, if you want them all. Can your Magic ease the pain?’ He knew it wanted to, would never want to leave any member of the group out.

‘Some of it, I think.’ Gwaine hummed, tilted Merlin’s chin up so he could kiss him. Merlin sighed, kissed back, glad that the Knight had answered his questions honestly.

‘Remember, there’s other ways you can please them.’ Gwaine added, and Merlin thought back to the moment after the bath. From the look in Gwaine’s eyes, the Knight was remembering it to, cleared his throat and then looked to the window.

‘Percival should be off duty soon.’ Merlin kissed Gwaine again, for slightly longer this time, before climbing away from the warmth.

‘I better get Arthur his dinner first.’ Gwaine chuckled, Merlin going for the door, before pausing.

‘Thank you.’

‘Anytime, my Warlock.’

Chapter Text

‘Just relax.’ Gwaine coaxed, and Merlin rolled his eyes.

‘Easy for you to say, you’re not the one on the bottom.’ Gwaine snorted with laughter, tried to hold it back, but Merlin was laughing as well. This was supposed to be the moment, the time when he took Merlin’s virginity, full of sweet words and hot kissing, but instead, was turning out to quite amusing. The others were in the room, which was slightly unnerving, and Gwaine had to work hard to keep Merlin’s attention from slipping.

‘I’m the one doing all the hard work.’ He shot back, kissing along Merlin’s neckline, one of his favourite pastimes. So much skin, he could mark it all up so that everyone knew he’d been here, but then held back. He had to share, play nicely and all that. Still, he was allowed to rock forwards and press against Merlin’s groin, which was interested despite the humour between them.

‘Oh I’m sorry this is such a struggle for you.’ Merlin teased, tugging at Gwaine’s hair slightly when the Knight ran his hands under the Warlock’s shirt. It was nice, being able to see those blue eyes as he kissed down his torso.

‘I’ll make the sacrifice.’ He joked, focused on licking and sucking at Merlin’s chest, cutting off any reply. The Warlock arched, legs spreading on instinct, and Gwaine let out a pleased sound.

‘If you’re still talking, I’m not doing this right.’ Gwaine let his hand drift down to Merlin’s breeches, unlacing them and letting his fingers wander. Merlin rolled his eyes, urged his hips up to meet Gwaine’s hand, yet still the sassy expression did not waver.

‘Maybe you’re just not as good as you thought.’ Rude, Gwaine bit down on the soft skin of Merlin’s stomach, nuzzled at his hipbones as his hand worked off the breeches. Once they were gone, the smallclothes followed, and Gwaine looked up to find Merlin eyeing him curiously. A mix of fear, and arousal, but trust overall.

‘Maybe I’m even better.’ He decided distracting Merlin was his best bet, licking a long stripe up his cock and smiling when Merlin mewled under the touch, hands reaching for the bedsheets. This was better, Gwaine knew what he was doing now, reached for the oil that he’d been keeping for this very moment. It was his own private stash, not the stuff that Arthur kept having delivered from Gaius. Ew, not the time to be thinking about the old man.

‘Where’d you get it?’ Merlin’s brain was back to thinking again, eyeing up the pot of oil, and Gwaine could have laughed, had he not been busy licking. He paused, scrunched his brow.

‘Not from where you’re thinking.’

‘Good.’ Merlin hummed, relaxed back into his touch, and Gwaine stifled a laugh. Only Merlin would stop sex to ask where the oil came from. He continued to work on distractions, oiled up his fingers as Merlin became pliant, fully relaxing and hips moving into his mouth.

He brushed his first finger over him, felt Merlin shudder under the touch. Nerves, fighting against him, and Gwaine decided it was time to employ a little trick. Swallowed Merlin down to the root, the Warlock gasping beautifully, all muscles tensing, before they instinctively relaxed. That was when he pushed, felt Merlin’s body open for him, went back to licking just the head.

‘Cheat…ting.’ Torn in half, Merlin’s breathing laboured, and Gwaine kissed the head of his cock in an apology, before crawling back up, keeping his hand steady. From the confused look on Merlin’s face, he figured it felt rather weird, not painful.

‘Sorry, my Warlock.’ Kissed at his neck, Merlin’s hands coming to rest on his bare back. He’d settled for just breeches, figuring it would be odd to be naked, but smallclothes might get in the way. It was the right decision, it allowed him to move his hips and get some friction against Merlin’s thigh, while not restraining him.

‘Feels weird.’ Merlin muttered, looking so unsure, and Gwaine had to fight the words that threatened to fall. He looked adorable, cute, so innocent yet the same hint of Magic that always hung close.

‘It’ll get better.’ Gwaine promised, focused on working his finger, curling and reaching for the spot that he was sure would have Merlin relaxing. It worked, the moment that he brushed against the sensitive spot, Merlin’s hips rocked into the movement and his lips fell apart.

‘Oh!’ He exclaimed, eyes showing the shock, and Gwaine chuckled.

‘There you go.’

‘More!’ Merlin insisted, demanded, and Gwaine rolled his eyes at the Warlock.

‘Pushy.’ He joked, before pressing a second finger in. Merlin welcomed it, began moving after a brief hesitation. So tight, Gwaine didn’t know how long he’d last if it was this tight around his cock, not when Merlin was making such pretty sounds. Tiny gasps and throaty moans, wanting more.

But Gwaine had been serious when he’d said he’d do this right. Worked him with two fingers until Merlin was squirming and whining slightly, canting his hips, and Gwaine finally gave in. Another finger, watched the brief flash of pain that quickly changed back to pleasure. This time, he aimed for the spot that made Merlin shout, moved his fingers faster and watched in joy as Merlin chased them.

‘Gwaine, c’mon, please!’ Hands gripping the sheets, twisting them until his knuckles were white, Gwaine trying to ignore the throbbing between his legs at having Merlin plead for him. He wanted to give in, would never deny Merlin anything.

‘Almost, my Warlock. Doing so well.’ Merlin cried out, cock jerking and dribbling between them, and Gwaine kissed him. It was hungry, demanding and begging, fierce with teeth that nipped.

‘Need you in me, Gwaine.’ Merlin whined, and no mortal man could deny him, swore as he pulled his fingers free and unlaced his breeches. Hooded eyes watched him, batted aside his eyes and reached for the oil, slicking him up and spreading his legs wider. Gods, Gwaine wasn’t going to survive this.

‘Deep breath, eyes on me.’ Gwaine ordered, positioned himself and hooked one of Merlin’s thighs up slightly, to make it easier. He pushed gently, felt Merlin open around him, watched the Warlock tense slightly.

‘Shh, that’s it, look so pretty.’ Praise, that was the way to Merlin’s cock, and his body relaxed. He moved slowly, resisted the urge to just bottom out, instead went slowly. When his hips were pressed flush, he halted, tried to control his breathing. Merlin was staring up, wide eyes and a pretty smile, looking… shocked.

‘Feel so full.’ He groaned, tightened around Gwaine, and the man almost shouted. Rested his hands on Merlin’s hips, watched where his necklace was resting on Merlin’s chest.

‘Ready?’ His Warlock, Gwaine had said he didn’t care that Merlin had picked him first, but how could any man feel anything but smug now? Merlin was under him, open and willing, stretched around his cock and making noises that Gwaine would remember till the day he died.

‘Yeah, yeah, move.’ Bossy, Gwaine loved it, kissed Merlin’s nose and pulled back. This time, he bottomed out in one smooth thrust, watched Merlin for any signs of discomfort. Finding none, he set up a slow rhythm, moved Merlin’s leg to settle at his shoulder. A stretch for anyone, but Merlin didn’t complain, eyes rolling to the back of his head as Gwaine worked up the pace.

‘Fuck, Gwaine, more.’ He’d never heard such a crude word fall from Merlin’s lips, couldn’t help but snap his hips forwards harshly, Merlin choking and his eyes falling open. Meeting his, eyes burning gold.

‘Again.’ Like he’d do anything but obey, helpless to do anything but please his Warlock, until Merlin was panting under him, sweaty and flushed with pleasure.

‘That’s it, looking so good, want more?’ Merlin nodded, reached with grabby hands and gripped his shoulders, like holding on would keep them joined.

‘Harder.’ Fuck, he was going to Hell. This had to be a sin, nothing could feel this good, have his blood burning and his jealousy flaring even though nobody had ever touched Merlin like this, nor would they have the chance to be his first. That was Gwaine’s, the Warlock gifted it to him, and he bucked his hips hard. Bent down until Merlin was stretched as far as he could be, and jack-rabbited his hips until Merlin was sobbing his name.

Better, that was how he wanted to hear his name, cried out as Merlin spurted between them, without a hand around his cock. Gwaine grunted, fucked into him and stilled, hips jerking as he emptied.

Gods, he’d die a happy man, if this was his last moment on earth. With Merlin, sweaty beneath him, holding him, a small smile and hazy eyes.

‘Thanks.’ He whispered, too quiet for the others to pick up on, and Gwaine kissed him. Soft, quite the opposite of moments before.

‘Anything, love.’ It was a promise, and Merlin looked nothing but pleased.

Gwaine pulled out slowly, felt Merlin’s Magic begin to work, readying him for five other men that were staring at him like they wanted to eat him up. Gwaine looked them over, most of them naked and the dark in their eyes blown, focused entirely on Merlin.

The Knight slumped down onto the bed, dared anyone to tell him he had to leave Merlin’s side.

**

Merlin was beginning to think he could die of too much pleasure. Gwaine had taken him apart, built him back up and had him emptying without a hand over his cock, something that had never happened before. The others had been watching, eyes hungry and a slight tint of jealousy, before they had moved. It was clear that they would fall into a pattern, those who were confident moving first, and those who could wait, watching.

Elyan had come first, Merlin’s mouth wrapped around him while Leon’s hands were on his hips, a brutal pace that had his cock flushed against his stomach. It had been an odd angle, to swallow down the Knight whilst the other was between his spread thighs, but Merlin hadn't been complaining. Nor was his Magic, more than happy to keep his arousal soaring as he tried his best to please his Knights.

When Percival joined them on the bed, he’d laid down, head close to Merlin’s cock whilst the Warlock was offered the chance to swallow him down. Gwaine’s hand was in his hair, tugging and encouraging him to open his lips, sore and swollen from already sucking Elyan. But then heat was wrapping around his own, and he was gone, lost, finishing with only one lick.

Hands on his hips told him he was back, being encouraged up and into Arthur’s lap. He straddled his hips, felt the King pressed up behind him, a hand on his stomach while the other was guiding his cock into him.

‘Oh, please.’ That wasn’t his voice, only it was, broken and desperate. Arthur shushed him, pressed kisses to his shoulders and his neck, holding him like he was precious. With Percival done, slack and pleased, it was just Lancelot that remained, watching him from the chairs. Arthur grunted, stilled inside him, and Merlin slid from his lap, determined.

He wanted each of them, loved them like no other, crawled from the bed and stood on unsteady feet. His thighs were wet, knew he had to look a fucked-out mess, wobbled towards his Lancelot.

The Knight smiled, helped him settle in his lap, was gentle as Merlin hovered and sunk down. His Magic took away the burn, nothing but a vague pleasure humming over his skin. He was full again, Merlin realised, as one of Lancelot’s hands wrapped around him.

‘Thank you.’ Lancelot whispered, like Merlin was giving him the greatest gift, and the Warlock sat back and began to move his hips.

It was his pleasure.

**

Percival was the one that carried him to the bath, poured in the buckets of cold water and asked Merlin if he had enough control to warm it. He did, and the Knight lifted him and climbed into the stone bath. The others were in a heap on the bed, all fucked out and sleepy, but Percival had wanted the opportunity to wash the Warlock.

He was so sleepy, a pleased smile as the Knight washed his skin, ran his hands over each mark and scar, over the sticky mess and cleaned him.

‘T’anks.’ Merlin slurred, looking far too pleased, and Percival kissed his temple.

‘Don’t need to thank me, sweetheart.’ He flushed at the nickname, wondered if it was a step too far, but Merlin was beaming up at him. Once they were washed, he wrapped the Warlock in towels, carried him back to the now-clean sheets, that he suspected Leon and Elyan had changed.

Each of them looked like they wanted to cuddle him, so in the end, compromises were made. Merlin lay, sprawled out on top of Percival, with Elyan to one side and Leon to the other. Gwaine and Lancelot were to one side, content with their space, and Arthur was off to the other.

‘Nighty night.’ Merlin mumbled into his chest, and that was it.

Chapter Text

Merlin woke just as Morgana threw the door open. Even though they were all wearing smallclothes, the Knights all jumped to find clothes, anything to cover themselves, while Merlin just hugged the pillow tighter and wondered if he could just have five more minutes of sleep. From the fact that even Gwaine was putting on clothes, he figured he should get up.

Rolling over, he met Morgana’s gaze, her green eyes sparkling with amusement. He sighed, pulled back the blankets and thanked his Magic for putting smallclothes on, clambered from the bed and walked across to the wardrobe in search of something to wear. He didn’t need to worry about the scars, Morgana had seen them all before, knew were they came from and which ones not to bring up.

‘Good morning, all of you. Sorry for disturbing.’ A grumble of good mornings’ came through, Arthur glaring at Morgana with passion, whilst Merlin had found some breeches.

‘I’ve come to ask for advice.’ He’d figured that bit out already, watched Morgana take a seat on one of the chairs, didn’t miss the way her eyes flicked golden to clean it first. Probably a wise idea.

‘Don’t you knock?’ Arthur remarked, having found a shirt to put on, even if the buttons at the top were undone.

‘It’s not like I haven’t seen men naked before.’ She rolled her eyes, and Arthur scrambled for words, before he froze.

‘Men? Who?’ Merlin was glad he wasn’t facing either of them, because his cheeks grew red.

‘Merlin, for one. Completely by accident, mind you. Like when he walked in on me and Gwen.’ Oh, that was not a thing he needed to remember, turned to glare at her.

‘It isn’t my fault you didn’t lock the door.’ She snorted with laughter, and he gave up on trying to find a shirt, moved across and sat down on one of the chairs.

‘I’ve been speaking with Gwen, and evidently I need Arthur’s approval as well…’ She trailed off, looking slightly nervous, and Merlin sent her a reassuring glance. Arthur was still trying to wake up, rubbed his eyes and ran a hand through his already sex-messy hair.

‘What is it?’ He asked, looking concerned. Morgana paused, unsure, while Merlin finished the sentence.

‘Morgana wants a baby.’ It shouldn’t have shocked her, that he could read her so perfectly. She raised an eyebrow, but conceded that he had been right, eyes hopeful.

‘A baby?’ Arthur spluttered, while the Knights looked just as shocked.

‘Yes, Arthur. A baby, why is that so shocking?’ Defensive, worried that her request would be denied. Merlin shot Arthur a warning look, then turned back to Morgana.

‘And Gwen…?’

‘Wants a baby just as much as I do. But, obviously, we need assistance on the matter.’ Merlin could see the obvious issue, let thoughts run around in his head while Arthur finally snapped out of his stupor.

‘You and Gwen want a baby?’

‘Yes, idiot.’

‘I can help. I can change either one of you to the other gender, but I suggest it would be wiser for you to change. If you were pregnant…’ Then Arthur would have to force her to be married. The mention of swapping genders had everyone’s attention, while Morgana grinned.

‘I figured it would be me changing, but you’d have to stay close by, right? To make sure the spell didn’t slip.’ He’d worked that out as well, didn’t really want to have to be too close, for reasons that were pretty clear.

‘I could stay outside the Chambers. Once you’re… done, I’ll change you back.’

‘Hang on, how do we know the spell works?’ Now, it was Merlin’s turn to go red again, while Morgana cackled.

‘Merlin changed himself into a girl once, very funny.’

‘Morgana!’ She’s promised to keep that a secret, the minx, and she shot him her best innocent face. Meanwhile, Arthur was gaping at him, along with the others. Gwaine, however, just looked intrigued.

‘I was testing it out, okay? I panicked, couldn’t turn back for hours.’ He grumbled, remembered begging Morgana to come and change him back, only for her to spend the entire time laughing her head off, far too amused at his misfortune.

‘We’ll talk about that later.’ Arthur remarked, levelling Merlin with a stare that could have been terrifying, had he not looked so sleepy that it was adorable.

‘Back to the main point. If Gwen’s pregnant, then the baby will be my heir. Are you alright with that?’ Arthur asked, looking to his sister, who seemed surprised.

‘I figured I’d have to ask you that question.’

‘Either way, they’ll be a Pendragon.’ That was a good point, and Morgana smiled. Stood up and launched herself at Arthur, who caught her relatively well, considering he was on the bed.

‘Thank you!’ He hugged her back, even if he looked a little uncomfortable with the affection.

‘Merlin, are you alright to wait outside the Chambers? I don’t want to make you…’

‘It’s fine, there’s a silencing spell around your room anyway. I’ll have one of these lot come and stay with me.’ She grinned, climbed off of Arthur’s lap and came across to hug him. He was more than happy with the affection, smiled when she kissed his cheek, her fingers lingering on Nimueh’s burn-mark on his chest. No doubt she could feel the Magic laced around it, and Merlin knew she was curious. He made a note to get back to training sessions outside Camelot in the evenings, maybe the others would want to watch.

‘Thank you.’ And with that, Morgana left the Chambers, the happiest look on her face. Merlin watched her go, then turned back to the mass of Knights still looking confused.

‘Training today?’

**

Arthur sighed, sunk back into the warm water, looking around his Chambers. Merlin was his focus of attention, sorting through his clothes, and he wondered if he should bring up the obvious. Arthur wanted Merlin to take a break, to let George take over his job, but how could he bring that up without it seeming like he wanted rid of him?

‘You’re thinking too hard, Arthur. Don’t push yourself.’ Idiot, he splashed Merlin, the Warlock avoiding the water with ease. He came across to the edge of the tub, knelt down and reached for the washcloth.

‘I was thinking…’

‘We established that.’

‘Don’t be a prat. I was thinking that maybe I should have George pick up your duties.’ Merlin halted, where he’d been pouring soap onto the cloth, hurt eyes looking up to him. Arthur sucked in air, he’d always fallen for that look, the puppy-dog expression that he couldn’t ignore.

‘You don’t want me here?’ Arthur gripped his wrist, to stop him from fleeing. The last thing he wanted was to chase him down the corridor naked, although he would, if he had to.

‘I want you to realise you’re not just my manservant, Merlin. Nor just a bedwarmer. I… I like having you with me, like this.’ He hated how sappy this had become, but Merlin’s eyes were shining with tears, and his lips were tugging up at the corners.

‘I want to be the one to wake you. And bring you food. And dress you. Nobody gets those jobs.’ He could agree quickly to those, would give Merlin anything he wanted. The manservant paused, cocking his head to the side in a way that made Arthur hungry for him.

‘Unless you’d like George’s brass jokes?’ He growled, Merlin laughing as he the King rose up, dragged him close and kissed him. Then, thinking that it served Merlin right for being an idiot, he pulled Merlin back down with him and into the tub.

It was a slippery mess, Merlin squealing and trying to escape, while Arthur held him firm. Eventually, the Warlock settled, soaked clothes clinging to him and legs straddling his hips.

‘No brass jokes.’ Merlin promised, and Arthur kissed him.

‘Glad you got the idea.’

**

Gwaine sat on one side, Lancelot the other, and Merlin was doodling on some of the scrap parchment that the Knight didn’t need to sketch on. Lancelot was now part of the trusted circle, able to sneak looks at what Gwaine was drawing, while they waited outside Morgana’s Chambers.

The spell had been pretty easy, and he’d watched light engulf his friend. Male-Morgana was quite an amusing sight, short black hair, sharp cheekbones and the brightest green eyes. Quite slim, but he still wouldn’t want to get in a fight with her, quickly left the room and joined his lovers.

‘I think something’s going to happen.’ Merlin blurted, regretted saying it the moment he’d opened his mouth. A silence fell, Gwaine putting down the paper and looking across, Lancelot taking his hand and studying him with confusion.

‘Something bad. I’ve… got a feeling.’ Merlin needed to talk to Morgana, to see if she’d had any nightmares, usually that was an indication something was going to happen. He thought back to her last one, to how she’d been adamant something was coming.

‘Then we deal with it.’ Gwaine stated firmly, leaving no room for arguing.

‘Together.’ Lancelot added, and he rested his head against the Knight’s shoulder.

‘We had something we wanted to run past you…’ Lancelot began gently, Merlin sitting up sharply and looking between them. Gwaine’s smirk put him at ease, this was nothing to worry about.

‘You know how you have an evening which each of us, then our night together?’ That had been the plan, although it wasn’t a rigid structure. Merlin was the one that decided who he saw, and when.

‘Yeah, don’t you want an evening?’ Was he that bad?

‘Yes! Yeah, we both do, but after this one, we were thinking…’ Lancelot paused, gestured for Gwaine to take over,

‘That we’d start merging ours. So you get both of us, but for two nights.’ Merlin froze, then smiled, nodded happily.

‘If that’s what you want, I’d love it.’ Gwaine grinned, kissed him quickly, and Lancelot’s hand stayed in his. If they were happy to share, then he was quite happy to have the two of them in his bed.

**

Morgana, back in her own body, smiled at Merlin. He looked good, a bright smile and a healthy flush, his Magic far stronger that it had been a while ago. Maybe it was growing, now that he was so pleased with his life. She got dressed, wrapped a robe around her and looked to Merlin.

‘Everything okay?’ His smile faltered momentarily, before it was back, just as bright.

‘Do you want to start training again?’ She froze, then clapped her hands in excitement. Yes! Of course she wanted to start training again, she loved learning about her Magic, Merlin was a great teacher. Gwen squealed, sat up in the bed and clutched the blankets to her chest, looking just as excited.

‘Yes! I’d love to! Tomorrow?’ He chuckled, a bashful smile spreading, before he bowed his head to the two of them and walked from the room. Morgana grinned, looked back to Guinevere, who paused.

‘Do you think the others will come to watch?’ Morgana wasn’t sure, but she hoped so. Maybe then they’d understand how powerful Merlin was.

Chapter Text

Merlin woke in Elyan’s bed, stretched out like a cat and then rolled over to find the sheets empty. Of course, Elyan had an early-morning patrol, and Merlin should be getting Arthur ready for his meeting. That drove the manservant out of his bed, to Arthur’s Chambers to dress him. The King was in a grumpy mood, apparently George had been trying to tell yet more brass jokes, and had even been late yesterday.

They made it to the Council, where the five Knights had assembled at the table, each smiling up at him as he walked in. He blushed, ducked his head and kept it bowed until they reached the throne, Arthur taking his seat and gesturing for Merlin to perch in his usual spot, at the chair near Arthur’s side. Nobody questioned why he sat there, it had been a thing long before Merlin tumbled into the bed of the King.

Something was going on. Arthur was nodding to Percival, the Knight that sat next to him, and Merlin tried to pick up on what they were saying. The doors opened, the councillors coming in, and the Warlock prepared himself for a boring morning.

Until a hand closed over his thigh. Merlin hid his jump, relaxed into Percival’s touch, more than happy to have the affection. Until the hand slid up slightly, and he regretted not dealing with his morning arousal, because it was creeping back in. Oh, this was the plan! They all knew, he could see it in the slight smirks, this was Arthur’s doing! Merlin figured it was because of George, and he shot the King a glare, who was trying to hide a smile behind his hand.

Well, two could play at this game, Merlin thought. He let his Magic creep out, careful to keep his golden eyes out of the way of the councillors. Luckily, Percival hid their view, and he focused on sending his Magic to the six at the table. He knew it worked, Percival’s grip tightened, and Arthur cleared his throat. The councillor talking, something about taxes, halted, before Arthur waved him on.

The hand was now circling his inner thigh, and Merlin spread his legs more than willingly, wanting more. Wherever Percival’s hand went, his Magic moved, and he was more than enjoying the meeting now.

Gwaine was the one that was smiling the most, eyes full of mischief, and Merlin returned it. Percival’s hand cupped over him now, the slightest friction, and Merlin sent his Magic to toy at the waistband of their trousers, pleased that they were only wearing light armour today.

Something about the money raised, while Merlin shifted in his chair, biting down on his lip as Percival’s hand slipped under his trousers. Oh, this was so bad, this had to be a sin. In all fairness, this was hardly the worst thing he had done, seducing the Knights right under the Councillors’ gazes.

Arthur was flushed now, most of the Knights were agitated, and Merlin was close to shoving Percival’s hand to where he wanted it best.

‘Forgive me, I’m feeling unwell, could we reconvene in a couple of days?’ Arthur asked, the council quick to obey his word like it was the gospel, while Merlin panted out a breath and arched his hips. Percival’s gaze could only hide so much, so it was a good thing that the men were dismissed.

‘Get up.’ Arthur growled out, and finally, Merlin was more than happy to jump up from the chair. The King looked incredibly impatient, gripped at Merlin and had him turning to the table, hands straight down onto a pile of papers that Merlin had sorted yesterday. He would have been annoyed, but his trousers were being stripped, and Arthur was unlacing his own.

‘Use your Magic.’ For what, Merlin wondered, until a hand was pushing his shoulders down to the table, and Merlin realised exactly what Arthur was requesting. He didn’t even know if such a thing was possible, tried to focus his Magic on what Arthur was requesting.

The King had managed to get himself out of the trousers, unbothered by the fact that Merlin was half-naked, while Arthur was still fully-dressed. A hand was dipping down between his thighs, Merlin’s Magic must have done its work, because two fingers were pushing into him, hot and slick.

‘Ready?’ Merlin nodded, pushed his hips back and tried to wiggle enticingly, Arthur’s hand slapping down. He yelped, but was rewarded seconds later by Arthur pushing into him.

This had been worth the wait, Merlin gripped the table and sighed, let his face rest against the cool stone. He wasn’t forgetting the others, sent his Magic to keep those entertained, whilst Arthur began to work up a rhythm that had him gasping.

Council meetings could be quite fun.

**

‘Steady.’ Merlin warned, while Morgana attempted to shape the flame, watching it reach upwards. They were standing outside Camelot’s gates, the Queen, King and Knights had come to watch, and Merlin was still slightly sore from earlier. If Morgana had noticed him limping, she did nothing but wink.

‘You say it like it’s easy.’ She snapped back, the flame reaching for him, before she pulled it back. It was quite pretty, dangerous though, and it reminded him of today’s lesson.

‘Ask for some of it, create the fire between your hands, and throw it.’ Morgana did as told, reached into the flames and controlled it, shaping it into a spherical shape, before it hurled towards the trees. It landed, the tree burst into flames, and Morgana grinned.

‘Success.’

‘A little more focus, and you could use that to defend yourself.’ Merlin agreed, his friend pouting.

‘Would compliments kill you, Merlin?’ Her eyes flashed golden as she did the same again, the poor tree really having a hard time.

‘No, but they wouldn’t encourage you as much.’ She snorted, the flame slipping from her hands and instead racing across the grass. Merlin put it out without needing to speak a spell, found Morgana watching him.

‘You’re getting stronger.’ So people kept telling him, but he was starting to think it was just a benefit of being able to show his Magic to the world.

‘It would seem so.’ He agreed, watched her smile grow.

‘Who knew you being buggered by six men would make you more powerful?’ He blushed, hurled a spell at her and watched as she tripped backwards, laughing, enjoying the way he was trying to dispute it. When he found no argument, he opted for scowling, which only worsened the situation.

**

Merlin was heading to the kitchens, when he heard Sefa’s shriek. Instinct had him running, barging open the door with very little thought, only to find the serving girl cowering away from a bulk of a man. He was a Guard, Merlin realised, one that served under Uther. He had very little time for anybody, hated the servants especially, and the Knights despised him.

Sefa was cradling her cheek, a red mark that indicated he’d slapped her. Merlin’s temper rose, and he put himself between the two of them.

‘Sefa, go straight to George. Don’t stop for anybody.’ She ran, the Guard turning to Merlin with a slight wobble in his step, drunk.

‘You servants are all the same! Think you’re so special,’ His hand was gripped, and Merlin’s Magic had no time to react before he was thrown up against a wall. Pain shot through his twisted shoulder, and he tasted blood from his lip, which he figured must have split.

‘When you’re nothing but common whores. You think they care for you?’ Sneered, right into his ear, and Merlin was horrified to find his Magic had fallen silent. Sunk down, as if reminding him that this was one of Arthur’s men. He couldn’t use Magic against Camelot, it wasn’t in his nature.

‘Like a bitch in heat.’ He grunted, a thigh splitting his legs and a hand wrapping around the back of his neck, his air supply being cut off. It hurt, but the words were worse, each one stinging more than the hit that was placed.

‘Think that you’re like the Queen? Can rise up, just by serving them? You aren’t special, sweetheart.’ He hit the floor, curled in on himself as he waited for the kick that never came, the door splintering as it was kicked open. Idiot Knights, never checking to see if it was unlocked, going straight for the show of strength.

Leon looked murderous, and Gwaine wasn’t much better, tackling the Guard and slamming him back into the wall. Merlin winced, tried to raise himself up, heart hammering away inside his head.

Gwaine reached for him, probably to check if he was alright, but he wasn’t having it.

‘No! Don’t touch me!’ This was Gwaine, and he wanted nothing more than to be embraced, but he found himself shoving away from the Knight. Standing up on unsteady feet and shoving past the two of them, fleeing.

He was crying, he realised. Tears, not because of the minimal injuries that Morgana’s Magic could easily heal, but because of the words.

The Guard was right, he wasn’t anything like Guinevere. She deserved her position, had worked so hard to become Queen, and ruled by Arthur’s side as was expected of her, despite her love for Morgana. Merlin had acted like one of the tavern-maids, disrupting the council sessions and trying to provoke the Knights.

His knees hit the grass, buckling in on himself as he cried, not even sure why he was surprised. He never had good luck, what made him think this would change anything?

**

Morgana was furious. Anger that sparked off her, golden eyes glowing as she marched into the throne room, to where Arthur and the five Knights were standing, speaking in hushed tones. Gwen and Sefa were following in her step, the maid with a red-mark to her cheek, but otherwise unharmed.

‘Where is he?’ She hissed, and Arthur looked between them, to Sefa, and back to Morgana.

‘Hayden is in the Dungeons. Merlin… he ran. From Gwaine.’ The last bit was added on, like it was to show the severity of the situation. But Morgana understood, she knew why Merlin had fled, could imagine the words that the Guard had dared speak to him.

She didn’t need to struggle to find him, Merlin’s Magic called to her like a siren, his pain radiating out. The others were following, Sefa included, but she knew they wouldn’t try and get close. Not when Merlin was curled in on himself like he was trying to disappear, kneeling on the grass with his Magic bound so tightly she was surprised it hadn't burst.

Running, before she even realised what she was doing, Morgana reached her friend. His eyes found hers, and she gasped, he looked a mess. A split lip, blood trickling down the side of his face in a nasty cut, bruising around his neck. She dropped down, dragged him close to her and clutched at him, said nothing as he sobbed.

Gwen was the one to join them, soft words as she reached for Merlin’s bruises, trying to understand how bad they were.

‘Called me a whore.’ Merlin mumbled, and Morgana gripped him tightly.

‘Listen to me, Merlin. You are not a whore. Nor anything else he called you. You know how much they love you, look at them! Each on tearing themselves up, because they think you don’t want them anymore.’ Merlin blinked back tears, glanced across to where the Knights were desperately waiting. She watched his expression change, the guilt creeping in, and that was almost as bad as the pain.

‘Gwen, could you give us a moment?’ The Queen nodded, rose and went back to Sefa’s side.

‘Sit still.’ Morgana scolded gently, hands reaching out and glowing with Magic as she healed what she could. The main cut on his face, the bruising and the broken lip. The rest would have to wait, healing Magic took a lot more energy than she had.

‘Thanks.’ He mumbled, before burying his head back into her shoulder, like he’d hide and never come back up.

‘Love you, Merlin.’ She stated it honestly, there was nothing but truth behind the words. Merlin sniffled, then gripped tighter.

‘Love you too, Gana.’

Chapter Text

‘You know that none of it is true?’ Gwaine stated for the third time this evening, and Merlin squealed and tried to get away from the tickling. The first part of the evening had been a sincere conversation, but now it had descended to chaos. They had finished the spell for Morgana, headed back to the room that was usually occupied by all of them, but tonight, it would be just him and Gwaine with a bed that was huge.

‘I surrender! I surrender! Yes! Anything you say!’ He gasped, laughing as hands raced down his sides, Merlin had never known he was this ticklish until Gwaine had pinned him to the bed and let his hands wander.

‘Good.’ Gwaine said with a grin, before Merlin was pulled up to sit across Gwaine’s hips, and the Warlock looked down to him.

‘Thank you.’ He said sincerely, and Gwaine just smiled, that smile that made Merlin’s heartrate ramp up, that had him bending down to kiss him. The kiss started as nothing but innocent, until Merlin used his Magic to restrain his Knight, Gwaine glancing to the golden bands that kept his hands tied to the bed.

‘I like.’ Was all he said, a stupid smirk on his face, and Merlin laughed. Kissed him again, let his hands run up under his shirt, marvelling at the amount of muscle. So much to explore, but Merlin was impatient, stripped him down with a flash of gold in his eyes. Gwaine watched him with hooded eyes, Merlin kissing his neck, down the chain of the necklace, skipping over and across to his chest. He looked so beautiful like this, all Merlin’s, and the Warlock had never felt so… safe. Strong. Adored, in the way that Gwaine watched as Merlin wrapped a hand around his cock, let his lips kiss patterns onto his chest.

‘So good.’ Gwaine breathed out, head tipped back, and Merlin hummed. Nipped at his skin, moved until he was settled between Gwaine’s thighs. He’d been here before, of course, but this time, it was on an exploratory mission. Small kitten-licks and gentle touches, letting his kisses drop to Gwaine’s inner thighs and trying out what sounds he could get Gwaine to make.

‘Merl… please, Merlin. Gods!’ Oh yes, Merlin liked all of those, sucked on the head of Gwaine’s cock while using his Magic to shed his own clothes.

‘Want to do something. C’mere.’ He released Gwaine’s hands, the Knight yanking him up and Merlin found himself on his stomach. He giggled, didn’t think Gwaine would be so impatient, but he wasn’t complaining. Drew his knees up behind him, and was surprised when Gwaine didn’t reach for the oil.

‘Trust me?’

‘Of course.’ Merlin answered immediately, looked back to where Gwaine was gripping his ass cheeks, spreading them slowly, and Merlin flushed. Embarrassing, vulnerable, but kind of hot in the way Gwaine was staring at him.

Until a tongue was pressing against him, and Merlin yelped. Yeah, he used Magic to clean everything… down there, figuring it was easy and sanitary, but that didn’t mean…

Gwaine, apparently, was just as good at this as he was sucking Merlin’s cock. It took approximately twenty counts before Merlin had his head buried into the pillows, groaning and trying to rut against something, anything. Fingers were spreading him open, no oil, just Gwaine’s hot tongue and the awfully obscene sounds that came with it.

Then Merlin was flipped onto his back, Gwaine between his thighs and the kissing came back. He liked this bit, ignored the slight thrill that ran through him at the taste on Gwaine’s lips, enjoyed the feeling of being stripped down to nothing. The fingers were back between his legs, working him open thoroughly, dipped into the open oil at the side of the bed.

But Merlin wasn’t done having his way, rolled them so he was straddling Gwaine’s hips, gently positioned himself and reached back until he could lower himself down.

It stretched, burned in the most delicious way, and even better, Merlin could watch Gwaine’s every movement. The Knight tensed, arching his spin beautifully, lips parting as he sucked in air.

‘Fuckkk.’ Drawn out, calloused hands coming to settle on Merlin’s thighs, letting him work himself open until he was fully seated. It felt good, much fuller than he’d expected, and he whimpered when he caught sight of his stomach. Bulged, ever so slightly, he could feel it when he pressed his hand to his stomach.

‘Should have known you’d be obsessed with size.’ Gwaine teased, dark eyes hungry, and Merlin rocked experimentally. Rotated his hips, shuddered as pressure was put upon that spot that never failed to make him leak.

‘Going to ride me?’ That was exactly the plan, finding balance and beginning to move, testing the perfect angle to bounce. Hands helped him, urged his hips up and down, Gwaine drawing his legs apart and propping them up slightly so he could push back against Merlin.

He realised that he was going to finish shockingly quickly, tried to reach a hand to clamp over his cock to try and stem it, but Gwaine was having none of it. Made his hands stay on Gwaine’s chest, until Merlin was crying out and going boneless, unable to look away from where he was painting both their stomachs white.

Gwaine slowed, but didn’t stop, put an arm behind his head like this was relaxing for him. Merlin was still trying to catch his breath, still clenching around him, but the Knight seemed unaffected.

‘Good?’ He knew it was, smug bastard, and Merlin sent a shock of Magic to warn him not to tease. Gwaine shuddered, before his free hand rested on Merlin’s thigh.

‘Again?’ His Magic was quickly answering that question for him, filling him back up as he began to move his hips once more.

‘Look like you belong here.’ Gwaine growled out, eyes focused on where they were joined, before he was being moved. Swivelled, so he was still straddling Gwaine, but facing away. He knew why, the Knight wanted a view of… that.

‘Enjoying the show?’ Merlin asked, gulping in air as he tried to focus on not finishing again, and he heard Gwaine’s deep chuckle.

‘You have no idea.’ Fuck, Merlin was so close already, tried to stem his Magic off so it stopped making his refractory period so short. He’d be stretched sore by the morning, was slightly thrilled at the prospect.

The sound of skin hitting skin increased, the wet sound that was making his cheeks burn, until Merlin was panting once more and begging Gwaine to lay a hand on him. The Knight sounded just as breathless, reached around and wrapped a hand around him.

‘Fuck!’ Was that him? Merlin was lost, spilling as Gwaine’s hand worked him over, and he was being pushed back to the mattress, gently, legs being spread.

‘Again.’

‘I don’t… I don’t know if I…’

‘Again, Merlin.’ Gwaine growled, and Merlin gasped, loved the tone the Knight had adopted, spread his legs and hooked them around Gwaine’s hips.

‘Get on with it then.’ He teased, his Magic humming beneath his skin and begging Gwaine to finish him off. Gwaine pushed back into him, began a steady pace, and Merlin sighed, hooked an arm around his Knight and moved with the thrusts.

Until fingers dipped to where they were joined, and Merlin looked up at him in confusion.

‘Gwaine?’

‘Tell me to stop.’ Gwaine stated, but Merlin didn’t, too curious, to aroused to do such a thing. Fingers pressed to his stretched hole, beginning to push, and Merlin’s breathing hitched, arching, unsure if he should be fucking down onto the fingers or trying to get away.

‘Fuck, fuck Gwaine, more.’ He didn’t even know if he wanted more, until a finger was pressed alongside, and Merlin was beginning to imagine what it would be like…

‘You want us both? Me and Lance, tomorrow night?’ Gwaine was grunting, Merlin could tell he was getting close, and just the prospect of having both the Knights tipped him over for the last time, vision going black and his head fuzzing.

When he came around, he was wrapped up against Gwaine, limbs entwined and his head pressed to Gwaine’s heart. A hand was in his hair, fingers tugging and wrapping, massaging against his head.

‘Okay? Too much?’ Gwaine sounded so concerned, so Merlin tilted up and kissed him, warm and loving.

‘Perfect. As always.’ The Knight was looking concerned still, and Merlin waited, knowing Gwaine would speak eventually.

‘I love you.’ He halted, blinked, stared at Gwaine’s lips. Those words had genuinely passed from his lips, and oh Goddess, Merlin was crying.

‘Oh shit, I shouldn’t have… I’m sorry, I…’

‘I love you too.’ Merlin stated, babbled, then kissed him again. And again, until he had stopped crying and was sucking on Gwaine’s tongue like it would preserve this moment forever. Gwaine cupped his cheek, held him, a soft smile on his lips.

‘Can… I’d like to ask something of you. You don’t have to if you want…’ Gwaine was holding his clenched fist, slowly opened it. Merlin blinked, then stared at his hand.

‘Gwaine…’

‘You know that I do not hold any loyalty to my family. That… that you are my family. I’d be honoured, if you’d…’ Merlin took the chain, and the ring attached to it, ran his fingers across it.

‘Yes. Always a yes.’ Gwaine smiled, put the chain around his neck, and Merlin felt the cool weight against his skin.

‘Is that a yes to Lance joining us tomorrow?’ Merlin laughed, a proper laugh, and tucked himself back against his boyfriend.

**

Merlin hummed a tune under his breath, yanked the curtains open. Arthur was grumbling something under his breath, about it being far too bright this morning. The manservant had little care for such a thing, turned and crawled up the bed to settle beside Arthur, who peeked out from under the pillows.

‘You’re in a good mood.’ He snorted with laughter, Arthur looked so annoyed in the morning.

‘Of course I am. Today you’re training with the Knights, and tomorrow you’re all going to laugh as I attempt that spell.’ That brightened the King, who propped himself up and looked at him with a smirk.

‘You’ll look funny.’ Of course that would be Arthur’s response, the prat.

‘I’ll remind you of that, when you try to fall into the bed.’ The King was rolling towards him in an instant, thumb brushing his cheek and lips hovering over his.

‘Like you could ever resist me.’ Arthur teased, and Merlin moved in, brushing his lips lightly over Arthur’s, before pulling back altogether. The King blinked, looking far too confused, and Merlin threw a pillow at his head.

‘Up and at em’, Lazy Daisy!’

Arthur’s groan of annoyance was worth it.

Chapter Text

Merlin couldn’t be happier. He’d made a promise to Gwaine, a promise to be the family that the Knight wanted. After waking Arthur, his job took him down to the training grounds, to set up for the Knights that would soon be clambering towards the weapons rack. He hummed as he went, using a little Magic to speed the process along, before stopping when he heard someone clear their throat behind him.

He turned, heart stuttering when he saw the face of the Guard, Hayden. He had an awful bruise over his eye, a lip that was split and he was sure what he was seeing did not begin to cover the injuries. The man shifted, looking down at the floor, before back up at him.

‘I should never have hurt you.’ He began, and Merlin felt the honesty rolling off of the man, his Magic apparently now able to read people’s emotions.

‘I should never have hurt Sefa, either. I got too drunk, not that it’s an excuse, and… I regret my actions. I’ve been stripped of my role, and am heading away from Camelot. A new start.’ Merlin felt his heart ache for the man, he could see how upset the man was, but he was still one of Uther’s men.

‘I apologise, Merlin. I’ve… learnt my lesson.’ With his Magic now telling him that the man was close to tearing up, Merlin gave a quick nod, tried not to show any emotion as he spoke.

‘I forgive you.’ The man breathed out, rubbed the back of his neck and then winced, and Merlin took pity. Moved forwards, making a note of the fact that some of the younger Knights had already arrived, probably eager to make a good impression on the King. The Guard flinched, like he feared Merlin would hit him, and the servant tittered.

‘Stay still.’ A quick spell, a flash of gold, and the main bruising on his face was gone. The man blinked, touching his now-healed eye, then stared at him.

‘Why?’ Merlin didn’t really know the answer to that.

‘You were hurt. I don’t like people being in pain.’ The man gave him an incredulous look, before bowing his head and scurrying off. Merlin watched him go, before a hesitant Knight came across, looking rather nervous.

‘Merlin?’ He turned to face him, he believed his name was Jay, one of the nobles from Odin’s Kingdom.

‘Yes, Sir Jay?’ He’d been right, and Merlin was slightly proud of his ability to learn the names of each of Arthur’s Knights.

‘I was wondering if you could show us how you get the swords so polished? The King always scolds us for ours.’ The three men behind him gave weak smiles, like they were worried that he’d deny them. Merlin chuckled, they could be barely sixteen, but they looked so hopeful. Wet behind the ears, he mused, taking out one of the swords and beginning to teach them the best way.

When Arthur arrived, an amused smile on his face, they hurried away. Merlin tilted his head to the King, studied the smile.

‘Why do you look like the cat that got the cream?’ Arthur surprised him, ducking his head to kiss Merlin, heard the giggling Knights.

‘Staking my claim.’ Arthur murmured against his lips, like it was perfectly ordinary to do such a thing, and Merlin chuckled.

‘You’re not the only ones coming to do that.’ Merlin pointed out, watched as the other five walked across. Gwaine was looking rather smug, probably because of last night, and Merlin smiled back at them. Elyan reached him first, ruffled his hair while Leon offered a bright smile. Percival took a seat beside him, and Lance and Gwaine stayed back, probably conspiring about tonight. Just the thought of it had Merlin blushing, focusing on the fact that they were supposed to be training.

**

Leon had a reputation to uphold, as First Knight. So, while giving the younger Knights a lecture on how Magic could be both an enemy and a friend, one of the Knights asked how. Leon was ashamed to admit he’d forgotten the boy’s name, called Merlin across and hoped that he would sneakily be able to tell him.

‘We have a question about Magic.’ Leon remarked, and Merlin beamed. Turned to the group, and the Knight repeated the question.

‘How can Magic be used for good, in a fight?’ It wasn’t a harsh question, more curious, and he had to remember that most of them would never have seen Magic be anything but bad.

‘Well, Sir Leonard, I could give a demonstration, if Leon would help?’ Leon would be more than happy to give anything Merlin wanted, and with the bonus of being able to see his Magic?

‘We’ll fight against the others.’ Merlin explained, and Leon called them across. He wasn’t sure exactly how it would work, but he was more than happy to draw his sword.

‘Attack them whenever you’re ready.’ Merlin offered. Leon blinked, looked to the four Knights and King facing him, before charging.

He wasn’t sure what Merlin was doing, but it was incredible. It felt like he could move faster, see everything, act quicker. Every reflex, every action, it was quick. He moved smoothly, facing five attackers with ease, disarming Lancelot and knocking Percival in his breastplate, before using the momentum to twist them around and stop Elyan, who had been charging. The Knight went falling back, and it was Arthur and Gwaine that he focused on now, dropping Percival’s weight.

The King wasn’t using Excalibur, which he was glad for, that sword was deadly. It was difficult, even with Merlin’s help, to manage to disarm Gwaine and send the Knight flying into Arthur, who yelped, just about avoided him, but was stuck when Leon lunged. He tried to parry the blow, but it was too late, and his sword went sprawling into the dirt.

There was a round of applause, and Leon turned to see Merlin’s golden eyes, a smug smile that made him look too cute. Leon wanted nothing more than to kiss him, but the Knight, Leonard, was speaking.

‘And against a fight?’ They were egging Merlin on, who tried to claim that he didn’t fight, but Arthur was laughing, telling Merlin he better get up.

Leon watched, amused, as Merlin grumbled. Still, he walked across, and Leon turned to face the Warlock.

‘How fair are we making this?’ Leon paused, stared at Merlin in shock. Could he… could he stop all six of them? Evidently, Arthur was wondering the same thing.

‘Let us at least have a shot, need to look good in front of the rookies.’ Gwaine joked, and Merlin nodded.

It was a fun fight, this one. Merlin’s eyes glowed, hands sparked with power, and he deflected with a shield made of Magic. Each time they lunged, he would laugh and run, would block and return with small hits that did very little damage.

Eventually, Merlin tapped out, the group lowering weapons. All Leon could wonder was how strong their Warlock was, walked across and nudged him.

‘Trust you to befriend them all.’ Arthur remarked quietly, while the newer Knights began to practice.

‘They seem to love you.’ Leon commented, and Merlin chuckled.

‘Jealous?’ He teased, stuck his tongue out, and Leon scowled. Reached in to briefly kiss Merlin’s lips, and smirked when the Warlock blushed.

‘Nope. They don’t get to have you.’

**

Merlin rode out alongside Morgana, the two of them dismounting when they were far enough away. It was supposed to be a lesson, but Morgana had more important things to be discussing. Like the dream she had last night.

‘I think something’s coming for us. For Arthur.’ He frowned, took any threat against the King very seriously. Morgana didn’t want to tell him, not when she’d never seen Merlin smile this much, but she had to think of Gwen. Of the baby they were trying to make, an heir for Arthur’s throne.

‘What did you see?’

‘An assassin. A temple. You, glowing. No death.’ She figured that Merlin was becoming stronger, had seen how his Magic had been radiating recently.

‘Then we keep our eyes open. Nothing will hurt you, Gwen or the baby. I won’t let it.’ She saw the fire behind his eyes, the power that she would trust with her life. Then, she caught sight of something under his shirt, came forwards and gripped the chain.

Gwaine’s necklace. She’d seen it a couple of times, figured it was a memory of his family. Her eyes widened, and her she fought the urge to bounce around like a lunatic in excitement, focused on Merlin’s blush.

‘He thought I should have it.’ Oh, did he have any idea how much they loved him? How much they’d sacrifice?

‘A little birdie told me that you were using the spell on yourself tomorrow.’ She teased, changing topic, and Merlin grimaced. Looked nervous, and she cocked her head.

‘What is it?’

‘I presume they want me as… a girl. Like clothes, and stuff. And I don’t know how those… bits work!’ She laughed, couldn’t help it, and eventually Merlin’s pout turned into a laugh.

‘I’ll help you dress. And it’s usually the same. Get it wet, stick it in.’ Merlin gasped at her, blushing at her crude words, and Morgana clutched at her stomach with the laughter. He looked so virginal, like he wasn’t in the bed of the six strongest men in Camelot.

‘Plus, now you’ve got two…’

‘Don’t even think about finishing that.’ Merlin warned, and Morgana giggled. She could speak freely with Gwen about this kind of stuff, they had a very open relationship, trusted each other with every thought. After all, Morgana would turn into a man every evening, and that was the kind of thing that took a lot of talking about. Now, she saw Merlin’s curiosity coming through, a question on his tongue.

‘Gwaine and Lancelot… they want me in their bed tonight.’ She’d heard that the two had decided they could share, honestly, it made sense. Double the time with Merlin, and the two got along well enough, evidently both wanted to make Merlin feel good.

‘And…’ She prompted, and Merlin’s blush increased, the tips of his ears red.

‘Gwaine suggested they could have me. Both.’ Morgana was about to point out that was hardly scandalous, she knew that Merlin had to have used his mouth for…

Oh. She understood, and had heard of such things, of oil and nights of incredible pleasure. It worked for women as well, although the thought had never crossed her mind.

‘It’s supposed to feel good, when done right. And they’ll do it right.’ Merlin nodded, evidently wishing that this conversation would end, and so she took pity on him. Summoned her Magic, let her eyes flick golden.

‘Sticking to safer topics…’ He laughed, his own eyes burning with Magic, and she grinned.

Chapter Text

Merlin was the last in the room, halted when he saw both Lancelot and Gwaine on the chairs, enjoying what he presumed to be wine. Probably stolen from Arthur, no doubt, and Merlin shut the door with a grin. He had just been to see the King, who had admitted he’d heard that he was spending the night with both Gwaine and Lancelot. When Merlin blushed, Arthur had asked what sort of night they were going to have, and Merlin had promised to tell him in the morning.

‘Come join us, Arthur’s wine is always the best.’ Merlin laughed, ran across to join them, settled between the two of them and let Lancelot ply him with the sweet drink. Gwaine watched, amused, and Merlin settled back against the other Knight.

‘Sweet.’ He stated, swallowed down another mouthful, mindful of the way Lancelot’s hand had already crept to spread across his hip, thumb brushing small circles. Oh yes, Merlin did like this, liked the time he got to spend with them.

‘Like you.’ Lancelot teased, nuzzled into his hair affectionately, and Merlin smiled up.

‘Enjoyed training earlier?’ Gwaine asked, draining his drink while keeping his eyes trained on Merlin. The Warlock shrugged, had quite enjoyed getting to show them he had Magic that could aid them on Quests.

‘It was fun. The younger Knights look up to all of you, should see the way they stare.’ Merlin remarked, while Gwaine chuckled.

‘Not just at us. You’re quite the sight.’ Lancelot added, nipped at Merlin’s ear, and he squirmed. It felt pretty good, as did the wine, and Gwaine’s dark stare following his movements.

‘Awfully hot.’ Merlin muttered, knowing he was blushing under the attention of both of them. It was weird, he always felt so confident, until he was right at these moments. When hands were on him, and he wanted so many things. Everything, all of it, but he didn’t know how to ask for things.

‘Should get this shirt off then.’ Lancelot’s hands were moving under his shirt, Merlin letting the hands lift the fabric, until it was taken over his head. This was nice, Lancelot was the only Knight that he hadn't had time with just the two of them. Even if Gwaine was watching, it felt like just the two of them.

‘Think you should have some time to… relax. You worked hard today.’ Hands moved to his trousers, and Merlin lifted his hips to encourage. It looked awfully obscene, from this view, watching as Lancelot’s hand wrapped around his already-hard cock. Should he stare? No, no he should look somewhere else.

‘Watch.’ Usually, Lancelot’s voice was bright, cheerful. Now, it was dark, ordered him, and Merlin’s eyes wandered back to the sight.

‘Want to learn what you like, Merlin.’ The Knight already knew, the hand that gripped nicely, twisted at the top and teased in a way that made it all the more better. Merlin turned his head, requested kisses from the Knight, who was more than happy to do so. He was always so gentle, when really Merlin wanted something less so, let his teeth graze Lance’s lip.

‘Tell me what you want.’ What he wanted, more than anything, was to be opened up ready for them. Lancelot kept hold of him, waited for him to speak, and Merlin knew he’d die of embarrassment.

‘You know we won’t judge you.’ Gwaine chided, foot nudging against Merlin’s, a tiny reminder that he was here as well. That this could stop, if he asked. He thought to the chain around his neck, the one that he hadn't taken off before this night, figured that Lancelot probably wouldn’t mind if he was wearing Gwaine’s token.

‘So? More of this?’ Lancelot accompanied it with a particularly good twist of his hand, and Merlin gasped.

‘No. Want… want you to open me up.’ He blushed, ducked his head as he spoke, but was stopped when Lancelot tilted his chin and kissed him. Warm, secure, a promise that he wasn’t judging him for what he wanted.

‘Up, lay over my lap.’ Shit, Merlin shouldn’t find that so attractive, the thought of being bent over, but he did as asked. Didn’t miss the way Gwaine’s eyes shone with amusement, like he could read Merlin’s mind.

**

Lancelot had been nervous. More than nervous, he’d been terrified that he’d do something wrong. That, compared to Gwaine, he had barely any seduction skill and Merlin deserved… everything. Everything he could possibly give, Merlin deserved it. That was when the wine came out, and Gwaine rolled his eyes when Lancelot admitted he didn’t know if he could do it.

‘Why? Merlin’s head over heels for you, nothing you do could be wrong. Just… trust your gut. Don’t be afraid to be a little rough with him.’ The very thought scared him, how would he know if Merlin wanted more? But then the door was opening, and Merlin came in looking so beautiful yet so innocent, and Lancelot felt his nerves slip.

Now, he wondered if he was spending too much time with Gwaine. Merlin was sobbing, although the sobs were more because Lancelot was teasing, rather than from any pain, he was still surprised he’d come this far.

Merlin was laying across his lap, legs spread wide and oil shining from where he’d been working Merlin open, the man rutting against his thigh for some friction. Gwaine had been watching, leaning back with his trousers tight but not doing anything, far too relaxed, and it had made him wonder how he did it. He was so calm, so collected.

And Lancelot had brought his hand down a little too hard on Merlin’s arse. Completely accidentally, more Lancelot getting frustrated that he wasn’t quite as good at this as Gwaine was. He’d not expected Merlin’s shriek, nor the way the Warlock then begged for him to do it again.

‘Aw Lance, don’t leave him begging.’ Gwaine teased, eyes focused on Merlin, let his fingers brush over Merlin’s cheek. He watched, mostly in fascination, as two of Gwaine’s fingers disappeared into Merlin’s mouth, the Warlock setting to work on sucking on them.

He did it again. On the other cheek, brought his hand down and watched the skin turn red. Felt wetness blurt against his trousers, telling him that Merlin was enjoying this a hell of a lot more than he’d first thought.

‘Want something else to suck?’ Gwaine growled, tugging at Merlin’s hair, the Warlock nodding quickly. Lancelot watched as Gwaine shifted, unbuckling the belt he was wearing and shoving down his breeches, before looking away. It was one thing to know it was happening, but…

‘You can watch, Lance.’ Thank Gods, because he didn’t think he could deal with having to look away from such a sight. He knew, on some basic level, that Gwaine was attractive. Not Lancelot’s type, too muscular and the hair was, well, not short. But he could appreciate the picture it painted, Merlin’s lips stretching around Gwaine, the Knight tipping his head back with one hand wrapped in Merlin’s short hair.

Back to his task, spreading Merlin open enough for the things they had been planning. Lancelot had bedded women from the Tavern before, ladies of nobility occasionally, and knew that what Gwaine was suggesting was something usually kept away from polite conversation. The very thought of it had Lancelot pushing another finger in, four spreading Merlin, who whined and tilted his hips into it.

Without realising, his other hand was stroking over Merlin’s back, tracing each mark that he found. He knew the story behind each, some in detail, some brief descriptions. It just made him all the more protective, nobody would lay a hand on Merlin, they’d have six Knights to go through first.

‘Think you’re ready for one of us, sweetheart?’ Gwaine drawled, voice low and dangerous, and Merlin pulled up with a wet sound, clambering off Lancelot’s lap and looking between them for instructions.

‘Go ahead Lance.’ Good, because he didn’t think he could wait much longer.

‘On the bed.’ Merlin obeyed, hurried across as Lancelot stripped off the last of his clothes, grabbed the oil he’d stolen from Gwaine and moved across to the bed. Climbed up, watched as Merlin moved to straddle him, placed hands on his thighs and chuckled when Merlin bit his lip in concentration.

‘Adorable.’ He commented, Merlin’s blush spreading down his neck, where Lancelot briefly studied the necklace. He’d never thought he’d see a day when Gwaine voluntarily spoke about his family, yet he knew that Merlin was aware of most of the story, far more than they all knew.

‘Shit.’ The curse slipped out before he could stop it, Merlin felt so good, so tight around him as he settled down, moving his hips slightly and testing his limits.

‘Good?’ He breathed out, desperate to start moving him, but waiting for Merlin’s nod. When it came, Lancelot began to move, propping his hips up slightly to work it.

Gwaine was on the bed, moving forwards so Lancelot spread his thighs, watched as Gwaine’s fingers began to brush down Merlin’s arms, then to his hips, avoiding Lancelot’s grip and then dipping down further. Lancelot bucked up as he felt fingers against him, saw Gwaine’s smirk from over Lancelot’s shoulder.

‘Fuck, fuck c’mon Gwaine.’ Needy Merlin was the best type, his eyes flicking to gold and Lancelot gasping as he felt the pressure around him increase. How was he supposed to last? Bloody hell, he bit down on his lip and tried not to rock too much.

‘Patience, my Warlock. If we rush this…’ Merlin moaned, head tipped back and hips pushing down onto both his cock and Gwaine’s fingers,

‘Then it’ll hurt.’ Magic had to be easing the process, and Lancelot wished he’d been the one not currently impaling Merlin, because he was so close already. God, Merlin felt so good, looked so pretty right now. Lancelot let his hands roam, up Merlin’s chest and to his nipples, tweaked them and listened to Merlin’s gasp.

‘Almost there, doing alright?’ Gwaine asked, Merlin nodding so frantically that it almost blurred, amusing both Knights to no end.

‘Steady, hold onto Lance for me, yeah?’ Merlin did as told, hands coming to rest on his chest, leaning forwards. The necklace hung between them, until Gwaine reached for it, hooked it around to behind Merlin, probably a slightly territorial thing. He would have teased Gwaine for his actions, had he not felt something hot against his own cock, gripped Merlin’s hips tightly.

‘That’s it.’ Gwaine coaxed, and Lancelot decided it was time to aid his friend in getting Merlin to relax.

‘Blush so prettily, look so good straddling me.’ Lancelot was slightly unsure of the art of dirty talk, it was usually Gwaine’s thing more than his, but praise seemed to do wonders for Merlin. Sure enough, the Warlock’s eyes widened, body rocking backwards and blue fighting for the space in his otherwise golden eyes.

He felt it. The stretch, Merlin’s mouth dropping open as Gwaine pushed in, the Warlock falling to Lancelot’s chest and groaning. If he’d had trouble holding back before, now it was awful, he had to move his hips just a bit, both men above him making a sound at that.

‘Oh fuck, gods, Merlin, so good for us.’ Merlin whined, apparently having lost the ability to speak, and Lancelot had to agree. Gwaine pulled back slowly, Lancelot moving Merlin’s hips carefully, the Warlock shaking but making pleased sounds.

‘Can we move?’ Lancelot asked, staring into Merlin’s bright eyes, the Warlock nodding.

‘Y-yeah, not gunna last th…’ He choked off the word as Gwaine pushed in smoothly, and Lancelot swore again as Merlin spilt between them. The Warlock rocked his hips, and Gwaine began to set up a rhythm, one that Lancelot met. Small sounds came from Merlin, encouragement as he moved his hips, Lancelot watching as he filled. Magic must be useful in that respect, he thought, watching Gwaine’s head drop to Merlin’s shoulder.

It was a sweaty, sticky mess. The sound filled the room, of Gwaine’s grunts and Lancelot’s bitten off moans, while Merlin tried to stay upright between them.

‘P-please, need, want it.’ Merlin was so cute like this, so sexed out, and Lancelot squeezed his hip.

‘Want what, love?’ Gwaine was speeding up, impatient, teeth grazing Merlin’s shoulder. The Warlock propped up, looked down at Lancelot with such need that the Knight found himself matching Gwaine’s pace.

‘Fill me up.’ Shit, Lancelot arched up and stuttered, gripped his hips and ground Merlin against him as he spilled into him. Gwaine was doing the same, and Merlin was lost between them, Lancelot grunting as the weight of two men came down onto him.

He winced as Gwaine pulled out, the Knight rolling to the side and Lancelot helping Merlin off. The Warlock was grinning loopily, bright eyes but completely lost, and Lancelot chuckled.

‘Good?’

‘S’nice, now hug.’ Hands that reached for him, and Lancelot watched as the Warlock spread across the two of them. Not even enough coherency to clean them, and Gwaine slid out to grab a cloth to clean them.

He was slightly surprised when Gwaine cleaned up all of them, methodical yet gentle, before returning. With Merlin on top of them, the two Knights were almost pressed to each other, and Lancelot couldn’t resist the question.

‘Gave him your necklace?’ Gwaine blushed, fingers carded through Merlin’s hair, the Warlock already asleep.

‘You lot are my family now.’ Was all he said, and Lancelot nudged his shoulder in reassurance. With that, he grabbed the blankets and pulled them over, snuggled up with the two others.

**

When Merlin woke, it was to Lancelot’s gentle gaze, a smile that made Merlin return it. Gwaine was snoring from the other side, and he shot the man a fond smile, before looking back to the awake Knight.

‘Alright?’ He asked, voice low, while Merlin settled on his chest. Not quite as muscular as Gwaine, but slightly more tanned, with a light dusting of hair that he settled on.

‘Perfect. If a little sore.’ He admitted, remembering being way too tired to even think about performing a spell to clean them up. Speaking of, he was still a little sticky.

‘Bath?’ Lancelot asked, like he could predict Merlin’s question. The Warlock grinned, untangled his legs from Gwaine’s, and padded across to the bath. It was easy enough to fill, now that his Magic was back to listening, and the two stepped in.

‘You know tonight might be another rough night.’ Lancelot remarked as he lathered up his hands, gesturing for Merlin to come closer. He did, offered out his dunked head for the man to wash. Always good, to have an extra pair of hands for washing.

‘I kinda like it.’ Merlin admitted, blushed when Lancelot laughed at him.

‘As long as you’re okay, we’ll be as rough as you like.’ Merlin relaxed back against him, tilted up for kisses along his neckline and to the chain around his neck. He froze, worried that Lancelot would worry about it, but he just kissed along it. Picked it up, admired the ring.

‘Looks good on you.’

‘You don’t mind?’

‘I want you to be happy. And Gwaine. It actually reassures me, knowing how much he loves you.’ Merlin still wasn’t used to that word, his heart skipping, before Lancelot was using those eyes. Looking down at him, cupping his cheek and using a thumb to brush under his eyes.

‘And I love you. Just in case you doubted such a thing.’ Oh, Merlin was swooning under that gaze, felt his entire body hum happily at the words.

‘I love you too.’ Another kiss, brief, before the door opened and a sleepy Gwaine came padding in.

‘Room for me?’ Lancelot laughed, shifted over without hesitation, and Merlin couldn’t keep the smile from his face.

Chapter Text

Merlin groaned, watched as Gaius looked over from his bench. He was supposed to be cleaning out the leech tank, but he was still stiff from last night, really didn’t want to think about the fact that he might have leeches sticking to him in a moment.

‘Stiff?’ Gaius inquired, like it was a perfectly normal question, when Merlin knew what he was actually asking. And they still weren’t having this discussion.

‘Perfectly fine. Just a little hungover.’ That bit was a lie, although he had drunk wine last night, it hadn't been enough to get drunk. Gaius chuckled, stood up from his bench and moved across. Merlin heard him pottering about, before he handed him a vial.

‘What’s this?’ Merlin asked, uncorking it and taking a sniff of the substance. If Gaius thought it necessary, then he could try it, he supposed. Swallowed it down, almost gagged at the foul taste.

‘For the… hangover.’ Gaius said the word, and they both knew what they were talking about. It definitely wasn’t a hangover, that was for sure.

‘I’ll do the leeches.’ He’d rather that, than this conversation.

**

Lancelot was distracted. He knew that, felt Percival land another basic hit to his armour, grumbled as he went stumbling to the side. Arthur called for them to stop, and Lancelot straightened himself, looked across to where Gwaine was smirking. How was he supposed to concentrate, when all his thoughts were currently on the Warlock? On what had happened last night, the bath that they’d shared this morning, Merlin allowing him to dress him ready for the day.

‘In my Chambers once training has finished. All of you. Lancelot, you can go now.’ He didn’t say anything, just put his sword back and walked from the training ground, not missing the way the others watched him go.

He made it to the Castle, ran up the steps and halted. Morgana paused, cocked her head in that way that never failed to look regal, eyeing him up and down before a smirk crosses her face.

‘Shouldn’t you be at training?’ Damn it, she knew as well, he could see it in her eyes.

‘Arthur sent me off.’ He stated, then realised he’d called the King by his first name. Huh, Merlin must be rubbing off on him.

Now was definitely not the time to be thinking of Merlin, that was the entire reason he was in this mess.

‘I don’t suppose it has anything to do with your plans for last night?’ Had Merlin told her? He bit his lip, then nodded, felt like a child again under her scrutiny.

‘Well, I’ve never seen him happier.’ She remarked, before moving along with a wink, and Lancelot relaxed.

He could only hope that Arthur would be as accepting of his distracted mood.

**

Gwaine watched Lancelot’s face as they all walked in, the terror that he would be told off for his distracted nature today. The poor Knight, he was usually one of the best, certainly one of Arthur’s favourite to praise, he’d never been on the receiving end of Arthur’s sharp tongue.

‘Would you like to explain?’ Arthur questioned, while Gwaine hid his snort. Lancelot looked ready to burst, his cheeks reddening and his eyes wide.

‘I… er, I was distracted, Sire. It won’t happen again.’ Lancelot’s first dip into such a rough act had been a little bit of a shock, Gwaine figured. He’d look out for his friend, of course. Take the blame, if needed.

‘Well, make sure it doesn’t. Now, as your friend, what happened?’ There, the King-part done, now this was the side they saw when they were with Merlin. When they went on Hunts, and Arthur became a brother, rather than the man they were sworn to protect.

‘Last night was… playing on my mind.’ More like on repeat, Gwaine could read the guilt very easily, Arthur cocking his head.

‘Last night? Your night with Merlin?’ He gestured for them to sit, although Gwaine already had, and Lancelot took a seat. The others did the same, just as curious.

‘Yes. As you know, we shared our night,’ Nodding to Gwaine, who just smirked, ‘And it was… different.’ He could have laughed, the Knight really didn’t know how to word such a thing, and Arthur looked to Gwaine for an explanation. Never one to shy away from such a thing, Gwaine just shrugged.

‘We both took Merlin at the same time.’ He watched the exact moment it sunk in, the moment it clicked for each of them. Disbelief, wide eyes, shock, also a little tinge of longing that he picked up on. Arthur was blushing and stammering like a prude, while Percival just looked curious.

‘How was it?’ Arthur squawked, it was one thing for them to share the same man, it was another to ask about the personal nights. Nobody had to disclose anything, that was agreed upon, unless they feared for Merlin’s safety. It had been one of the ground rules.

‘Incredible.’ Lancelot breathed out, shifting in the chair like he was already remembering it. Gwaine had to agree, it had been a night he would never forget.

‘How… did Merlin like it?’ Leon asked both of them, although it was Gwaine that answered.

‘Like we’d have done it if he didn’t.’

‘But Merlin’s so small.’ Arthur blurted out, like he couldn’t believe what he was hearing, and Gwaine chuckled.

‘He is, especially pinned between the two of us.’ A mixture of curiosity and arousal, one thing they all agreed upon, Merlin was small compared to them. Not height-wise, but build. And it just made him all the more adorable.

‘Didn’t even have enough strength to clean up after.’ Lancelot whispered, joining in to the secret-spilling now that he realised they weren’t judging him. It was funny, to see the usually polite Knight talking about how his boyfriend was sexed out.

‘And don’t forget the fact he asked for you to spank him.’ Gwaine chided, hiding his snigger when lots of heads snapped in Lancelot’s direction. The Knight was flushing all the way below his armour, lost, unsure of how to respond.

‘What?’ The King croaked. Evidently, the King was struggling to comprehend all that they were telling him.

‘He wanted it rough. Rougher.’ Lancelot’s words were followed by silence, as they all considered what they had heard. Gwaine looked to each Knight, studying their expressions, before looking back to Lancelot.

‘Tonight… are you taking lead?’ Arthur asked Gwaine, who had already decided that answer long before tonight.

‘No. Figured it’s your turn, Princess. As long as you promise to be dirty.’ Wherever Gwaine went, full-grown men turned to a shade the same as the apples in the bowl in front, and he loved it.

Gwaine rose from his chair, decided it was time to go and seek out the Warlock, just to check that he wasn’t too sore from last night.

**

‘Nervous about tonight?’ Merlin had finished with the leech tank, and was now out packing away the targets from training earlier. Gwaine was accompanying him, sitting on one of the chests and eating a bright-red apple, juice dribbling down his chin in a way that made Merlin’s heart stutter.

‘Not really. Just… don’t laugh?’ Gwaine gave him a look, one that told him he was being panicky again, and he sighed.

‘What if I look ridiculous?’ Merlin was beginning to worry about the opposite. That they’d see this form, and want it to stay, rather than his current. He didn’t mind either, he just wanted them to like him for who he was, not what he looked like.

‘Merlin, you know we want you in this form. That we love you like this! Tonight will just be a night of exploration, if you want to stop, we do so.’ As ever, Gwaine knew him so much better than he thought, Merlin pouting but knowing what he said was the truth.

‘Will you be offended if I take this off for tonight? I just...’ He wanted to keep the necklace on, to never get rid of it, but he knew it might get in the way of six hungry men. Gwaine just smiled at him, that soft smile from when he told Merlin that he loved him.

‘Of course not.’

‘I want it on to sleep.’ Merlin added, while Gwaine came across to peck a kiss to his lips.

‘Keep it in your dress pocket. Morgana will show you which one.’ He had a moment to wonder how Gwaine knew so much about women’s dresses, then decided he didn’t want to know.

‘See you later.’ Merlin stated, and Gwaine smirked down at him.

‘I love you.’ Simple, like they said it every day.

‘I love you too.’ Merlin replied, Gwaine walking away, while he had to fight his racing heartbeat. It was that easy to say, yet it thrilled him that his Knight said such words.

‘I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.’ Merlin jumped, glared at Gaius, who Gwaine had no doubt spotted when he spoke. Dammit, now he’d have to kill Gwaine later.

‘There wasn’t anything to hear.’ Merlin agreed, while Gaius chuckled.

Chapter Text

Merlin let Morgana work her fingers through the laces, tightening them up until he felt like… well, he wasn’t entirely sure what he felt like. He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror, his hair and eyes looked similar, if one could forget the fact his hair now reached below his shoulders. The dress was a deep red, cut low across his now not-flat chest, reached the floor. He had opted for no shoes, figuring they would just come off as soon as he entered the room.

Fingers unclasped the necklace, the weight gone, the warmth making Merlin miss it immediately. Morgana chuckled, reached to a pocket he hadn't even noticed, slipped it into the dress and then looked at her handiwork.

‘You look stunning.’ Merlin felt uncomfortable under her scrutiny, shifted from one foot to the other, before she tutted and straightened his hair.

‘Ready?’ Yes, he was, he wanted to get this bit over with. He followed Morgana down the corridor, glad that nobody was witness to this embarrassing situation, before the Lady knocked on the door and poked her head around. Whatever she said, it was too low for him to pick up on, even with him straining to try and hear.

‘Have fun.’ She stated when she pulled back, winked, and then let her hand fall to his lower back. He was guided to the open door, glad that she hadn't just walked away, for he might have tried to bolt.

The moment he stepped in, he sought out either Gwaine or Lancelot. He met the latter’s gaze, the soft, gentle smile reassuring him that he was okay, that he could step in and shut the door behind him, waited for the judgement that would come.

There was no judgement. In fact, they all looked rather stunned, eyes wide and mouths open. They had opted for the chairs, not the large bed, and so Merlin walked towards them, letting his hips sway a little. It was easier, now their eyes were on him, he felt rather empowered by their evident shock. When he reached them, he twirled once, then levelled each with a stare.

‘Turn around again.’ Arthur, Merlin figured, was the one in charge tonight. Gwaine had already admitted it wasn’t him, and logically, not many of the others would feel comfortable taking charge when there was a King in the room.

He did as told, turned slowly, making sure to move his hips teasingly in Arthur’s direction. When he was facing the King once more, he tried his best for a smirk, dipped into an easy curtsey.

‘Everything to your liking, Sire?’ He didn’t miss the gulp, the way Arthur shifted in his seat and then beckoned for Merlin to come closer. He did, until Arthur’s hands could skirt up his side, resting on his hips briefly, before they moved higher.

The laces at the chest were undone carefully, and Merlin loved the way each of them watched like it was an honour to be there.

Arthur’s hands disappeared, and Merlin missed them almost immediately, not that he’d tell the King that. The hungry gaze raked over him, and the now almost-exposed cleavage, before Arthur sat back and relaxed.

‘Strip for us.’ Merlin’s panic lasted only a moment, he could do that, and could look good doing it. He knew how the dress did up, could focus his Magic on the strings that tied it, before slowly taking his arms from it. Kept it up at the front until the last moment, before letting it drop.

Underneath, he was wearing the corset that Morgana had helped him into, although it barely covered his chest. Stepping from the dress, Merlin began to work Magic on the lacing of the corset, until the piece could be undone. He was glad that his hair fell down to his breasts, covering them slightly, but it wasn’t enough to hide them entirely. Next were the smallclothes, which Merlin turned to get rid of, bending over to step from them.

He heard Arthur’s hitch of breath, imagined the annoyed look at the fact Merlin had dared to turn. When he looked back, Arthur’s eyes were dark, roamed from his chest to his now curvy hips, then between his legs. Merlin held still, amused, before walking towards his King.

Straddling him was easy, even if he was slightly shorter than he had been, grinned when Arthur’s hands moved up his thighs, but they stopped just before anywhere… too intimate.

‘What to do with you, Merlin.’ He smiled when Arthur’s lips hit his, the pressure light but comforting, although gone far too soon.

‘On the bed.’ He’d have done anything that Arthur asked, gracefully climbed from his lap and walked across to their bed. None of them followed, so Merlin perched, cocked his head as Arthur’s calculating gaze.

‘Touch yourself.’ The order itself was simple, yet Merlin himself was unfamiliar with this body, slightly unsure of how such a thing would feel. He figured it had to be pretty simple, he had heard stories about how to bed a woman, so let one hand move towards his breasts, while he settled onto his knees and spread his thighs slightly.

Wet. He blushed, hadn't expected that to be so… quick. He was careful, let his fingers brush over curls and below it, the heat that he was so unsure of. Deciding that his Magic might have a little more coordination that he did, he let it travel as well, made it visible so that the others could see what he was feeling.

Golden light nipped along his collarbone, and Merlin shuddered slightly.

‘Ever done this before?’ Arthur’s voice was rich, dark and inviting, and Merlin shook his head.

‘No. Never.’ His voice had changed with the spell, but he was surprised by how… needy he sounded. Desperate, as his Magic tracked down to the swell of his breast. Oh, that was definitely more sensitive than normal, Merlin gasped as his Magic skirted over one breast, while his hand worked over the other. Between his legs, Merlin let his fingers explore slightly, all warm heat and different feelings.

There was one spot, where he rubbed at and let the arousal in his stomach heighten, before daring to move further. He wasn’t sure when his head had fallen back slightly, or when he’d let his eyes flutter shut, or the fact his legs were spreading without him realising. It felt good, really good, Merlin couldn’t believe he’d never thought of this before.

His Magic got bored of teasing, racing lower across his stomach, leaving a warm path where it travelled. He couldn’t hold back the gasp that sounded as his Magic attacked that spot that he’d rubbed at earlier, it felt so damned good, and Merlin worked his hips gently.

If he was honest, he’d rather forgotten about the fact that there were eyes on him. With his Magic doing wonderous things to the spot between his legs, he dipped a finger deeper, rocked slowly forwards and onto the pressure. It was rather different from how it felt when he was being opened up, this felt all hot and slick and he didn’t feel stretched by his first finger, hesitantly pushed a second alongside.

Oh, that was better, that felt nice. But not quite deep enough, it was an awkward angle, and he could feel himself getting frustrated with the burning arousal that wasn’t quite sated. An idea popped into his head, and Merlin hesitantly withdrew his fingers, let his Magic take its place.

He must have made a sound at that, it felt so weird, having his own Magic working against him, while Merlin moved his wet fingers to the spot where he could rub. Hah, screw Arthur, he was going to be just fine with his fingers and Magic to keep him company. Heat spread inside, and Merlin gasped, arched up and bit down hard. Shit, it felt good, really…

‘Stop.’ He could have cried, head snapping to Arthur, and halting. The King looked wrecked, as did the others, and at some point they’d stripped and loosened breeches so they could enjoy the show. Merlin focused on not moving his Magic, even if he wanted to, breathing heavily as he stared at Arthur.

‘Eyes on us when you come.’ He’d never heard the King use such a vulgar word, would have expected it from Gwaine, but not from Arthur. Still, Merlin was more than willing to do such a thing, kept his gaze focused as his Magic worked back into the rhythm. It didn’t take long until his skin felt like it was burning, his hand working furiously.

When he finished, it was nothing like what happened as a man. The arousal snapped, washed over him like a wave, Merlin doing as told and keeping his gaze on Arthur, even as he rocked his hips against his fingers. He worked himself through it, felt the wetness increase between his thighs. It was more gentle, he felt like he could maybe do it again, even without his Magic to aid.

‘Beautiful.’ Arthur praised, and Merlin grinned. Now would he lay a hand on him?

**

Gwaine had to be patient. He had his fill of Merlin yesterday, so was content to just watch the show in front, lazily stroking himself to such a thing. Lancelot, still trying to be a gentleman, refused to lay a hand on his very obvious tenting breeches, his eyes trained onto Merlin’s every move.

He looked good like this, in a female form. Dark hair spilling over her curves as she worked herself down onto Arthur’s cock, hands focused on freeing Leon from his trousers and opening her sweet lips, a view that was honestly far too sinful. Gwaine felt Leon’s groan, knew just how it felt to be in Merlin’s mouth, chuckled slightly at the mischief in her eyes. The same blue, he was glad, he would miss Merlin’s eyes if they ever changed from the two states of normal, and Magic.

Arthur was groaning, hips working up into her, thrusts hard and demanding. She looked so small between them, smaller than usual, and Gwaine found something protective burning inside of him. It relaxed, watching as Leon gently stroked her face, brushed a thumb along her sharp cheekbones and around the corner of her plump lips. They were being so gentle, despite how much Merlin teased and urged them on.

The King finished first, gasping and tugging Merlin deep, holding her in place as he jerked inside her. Gwaine didn’t miss the smug smile that crossed her expression, before she swallowed around Leon, and the First Knight plunged deeper into Hell. Leon stumbled back, swearing as Merlin licked her lips and moved from Arthur, kissing him deeply and tugging at his hair. A minx, always, enjoying the attention of the men that adored her.

Him. When it came to love, it was Merlin, and he was theirs. Just because at the moment, he was enjoying a different form, did not change that.

Gwaine watched as Elyan was drawn in, Percival stumbling over like a lost lamb, Merlin spreading her thighs and painting such a pretty picture.

Lancelot finally abandoned his honour, had a hand around himself and was gasping beside him, Gwaine wondering if Merlin had any idea how much each of these men loved him. How good he looked, how confident, kissing the two of them before taking what he wanted.

Elyan was gentle once he’d finished, kissed her like his life depended on it, while Merlin ran a hand along his back almost lazily, enjoying the affection. While the Knight withdrew, Merlin turned her attention to Percival, crawling up onto his lap like a kitten. So small, compared to him, and Percival looked worried he’d hurt her. Merlin, however, seemed to pick up on his concern, kisses of reassurance, keeping her eyes on him as she sunk down.

That was the thing about Merlin. He knew them so well, wanted nothing more than to make them happy. As he got more used to their affections, he would become more focused on them, like he knew them better than they knew themselves.

Percival’s hands closed over her hips, but it wasn’t rushed, a lazy rocking movement until Merlin was squirming and gasping, pleading, and the Knight was kissing up her neck. Cradled her, like she deserved, with such love as he moved. When she cried out, it was a shuddering end, the rocking continued until Percival groaned, seizing her mouth and swallowing down every sound.

Gwaine was surprised when Arthur spoke up, before either Gwaine or Lancelot could move towards her.

‘Both of you. If that’s alright with you, Merlin.’ She looked puzzled, before understanding clicked on her face, and that shyness returned. Gwaine looked to Lancelot, who was nodding in confirmation, and the Knight rose.

‘Okay, Merlin?’ He asked, never wanting to push her for it. She nodded, welcomed him as he crawled up the bed, Lancelot behind.

‘Both of us here…’ He tapped, just lightly, over the wet heat between her thighs,

‘Or do you want opening up?’ She was considering, he could see that, before she looked to Lancelot.

‘Opening up.’ Gwaine decided it was only fair to let Lancelot have the honour, stripped off his trousers and settled back onto the soft sheets. Merlin crawled up him like she belonged there, straddling his hips as he moved them up to make room for Lance. The Warlock lifted herself, before sinking down in a smooth movement, velvet heat around him.

Lancelot was moving, and Gwaine could tell the moment his fingers dipped to her. Merlin shuddered, held still for a moment, before the smell of oil joined the sweet scent of sex. Gwaine held still, despite the urge to move, Merlin tightening around him as Lancelot began spreading her.

‘Oh, feels nice.’ Merlin relaxed back, hair framing her pretty form, Gwaine unable to resist the urge to run his hands up her stomach to her chest. An ample handful, fitting perfectly, her eyes watching the movement.

‘Another?’ Merlin nodded, a hungry expression that was ever so cute, and Gwaine bit his lip when she started to move back onto Lancelot’s fingers. He was doing a thorough job, just as Gwaine would have done, it was important that Merlin was stretched if they were going to do this.

By the time that Lancelot was oiling himself up, Gwaine was losing his ability to hold still. It was so tempting, but he managed to calm himself, felt Merlin tighten once more as Lancelot nudged against her.

‘Deep breath, love.’ Lancelot teased, and Merlin did as told, deep breath, relax, and Gwaine swore internally as Lancelot pushed in.

Like the day before, it was incredibly tight, felt far to good. Merlin was babbling, happy noises and pleased whimpers, a sigh as Lance bottomed out. It was up to him to set the pace, Gwaine was just along for the ride, Merlin pinned between them. As soon as Lance began to move, Gwaine met his pace, moving up into Merlin and trying not to finish too quickly. It was hard, she was so hot and slick, her eyes fluttering shut every other thrust.

Gwaine, tempted by her chest, reached up once more, cupped and pinched at her nipples until Merlin was moaning. He dropped one hand to the nub hidden by curls, rubbed at her until she was panting heavily, whispered both their names like a prayer, and shuddered as her climax hit.

Content that he’d done his job, Gwaine let his own rush over, his hips fucking up and spilling inside. Lancelot was gone, head tipped back and hands tightening around her hips until they eventually settled.

Just like yesterday, Merlin was too exhausted, a vague spell that cleaned the sheets but left her thighs a mess, so Gwaine went to fetch a cloth. The group were debating how best to fall asleep, each wanting to stake a claim to Merlin, but not wanting to say such a thing aloud. Merlin sleepily smiled up at him, spread her legs so he could clean, thanked him in a quiet voice that made his heart crack.

When he returned, Arthur had staked a claim to Merlin, moving and pulling her close. Leon was on the other side, and so Lancelot had gone to the edge of the bed, where he usually stayed when he wasn’t with Merlin.

‘Gwaine? Missing.’ She tapped her neck, and he quickly remembered his promise, moved across to her dress. He didn’t miss the way the others followed him, all apart from Lancelot, who was more than aware. He fished out his chain, moved back to Merlin, who had parted from Arthur’s side just long enough to come to the end of the bed.

It went around her neck easily, clasped shut and hung just shy of the new curves, Merlin making a pleased sound that was close to a purr. Sexed out, it was so funny to see, she reached up for a kiss and smiled when he obliged.

‘Love you.’ So simple, yet his heart cracked, because she was saying it in front of the others. Not that he cared, he dared anyone to tell him that he didn’t love Merlin.

‘I love you too. Now sleep.’ She giggled, rolled back and curled up, content.

Gwaine ignored the stares of the others, moved to the end where Lancelot was staying.

Chapter Text

The sky was painted red, the tower looming over the horizon, stretching upwards. Around it, dry sands, barren of any life. Armies, lining around the base of the tower, blood spilling from the stone.

‘You’re too late, Emrys.’

There were people, dressed in dark clothing with weaponry that was surrounded with Dark Magic, an Assassin standing at the front.

‘We were led here, by the darkness.’

The darkness wrapped around their feet, moved between them lazily, like it was toying with him. Moved through the blood, towards those that were chained up, ready for death.

‘The King and Queen of Camelot. Brought to their knees.’

On their knees, red capes and tearful eyes, pain reflecting clearly. The crowns, he could see them, tried to move towards the darkness.

‘All because of you, Emrys.’

They looked scared, terrified. He pushed further, screamed as the darkness engulfed the gleaming armour, screamed in hope it would push it back.

‘And with it, all of Albion falls.’

The red was creeping out, dripping from the platform and staining the sands below. A mess of bodies, of armour and capes and two Crowns, seated upon the pile.

‘Death comes to all.’ The assassin said, and Emrys screamed some more.

**

Morgana sat upright as her brother came running into the room, face ashen and eyes wild, scared. She bothered with no dress, ran in just her nightgown in his footsteps, with Gwen close behind. The door to the room was shut, the moment Arthur opened it, the most awful screams. She hurried in, the Queen shutting the door, and Morgana took in the sight.

The Knights of Camelot looked so afraid, surrounding the blackened bed, the charred remains of the sheets that indicated the fire that had raged. She noted that not a single one of them was harmed, not even a red blotch of a burn, which was quite impressive. Her Magic did not distinguish between friend and foe, but Merlin’s evidently did.

The Warlock was on the centre of the bed, dressed in just his smallclothes, back in his male form. Still asleep, unfortunately, body seizing and jerking like he was being hurt.

‘Gwen, could you fetch me some blankets and a knife of some sort, please.’ She didn’t wait to see if Gwen would listen, just hurried to the edge of the bed and climbed onto it, staring at the damage the fire had done.

It had burnt Merlin, as well. The soles of his feet, his palms, burnt and angry looking, but at least the fire had stopped. She reached his side, was unsure if waking him was a good idea.

‘Emrys. Emrys, wake up.’ Reaching out hesitantly, more than aware of the fact that his Magic was so much stronger than hers, that she could be flattened with ease. Her hand reached for Merlin’s shoulder, and she was surprised by how cold the skin was, pushed her Magic forwards.

His eyes opened, body falling still, the golden swirling.

‘Emrys, what did you see?’ Unlike her, Merlin wasn’t a natural Seer. His dreams were brought about because of his connection to Arthur, which could only be bad news, if this was a vision.

‘They’re dead. All of them, all dead. Dead, oh Gods, it was my Magic, dead…’ Babbling, like he was lost, and Morgana’s breathing caught. She had to check, just to be sure this was a vision.

‘Arthur. Did Arthur die? Emrys, listen to me, listen,’ She gripped his chin, holding tight, staring into gold, ‘Did Arthur die?’ Because if he did, it was real, and something was coming for them. Merlin gasped, body arching up in pain. She supposed that was what happened, when you lost the other half of your destiny.

‘Dead. The King and Queen of Camelot, they’re all dead.’ Gwen. Morgana’s heart cracked, but she swallowed that down, focused.

‘Then it was a Vision, not a nightmare. You need to calm down, Emrys, we can’t sort this out until you come back to me.’ Calm voice, like he always practiced on her, and she usually slapped him for. Gwen had returned, blankets and the knife that had been requested, and Morgana took the items.

Merlin was easy to swaddle up, didn’t fight her as she wrapped him up like a babe. He still wasn’t focused, his Magic was attacking his own body, and she needed to give it something to focus on. That was where the knife came in handy.

He’d shown her the trick, the fact that a slight cut could show you whether something was real or not. In a vision, people didn’t bleed normally. She wanted to do it to herself, figured Merlin didn’t deserve to be hurt in such a state, but she also knew that sometimes, the pain was useful.

Running the blade along his arm, watching blood bead to the top.

‘Blood.’ He stated vaguely, staring at it in confusion.

‘That’s right. Real blood.’

‘I’m awake.’ Merlin concluded, his eyes flicking back to blue, then golden. Lost, unsure, and Morgana sent her Magic into the sheets. Watched them recover, until there was no evidence he’d lost control of his Magic, even for a moment.

‘Gwen, would you come and sit with him? He’ll need some comfort.’ Gwen climbed up, Merlin latching onto her quickly, and Morgana climbed back from the bed.

Six confused Knights faced her, but she was tired, and couldn’t deal with this right now.

‘He’ll need rest. I suggest you go back to your own Chambers, and we can talk when he’s better.’

‘But… is it true? Can he see the future?’

‘One version of it. Now shoo, we’re busy.’ She didn’t need to watch them to know they’d do as asked, fetched one more blanket and climbed up onto the bed with Gwen and Merlin, wrapping them all up.

They’d sleep here tonight.

**

They treated him like he was fragile. For the first day, it was appreciated. The soft touches, sweet kisses and hugs, Merlin found them all helpful. He settled down from his vision, discussed it with Morgana, who decided that it must be the same assassin that they had both seen. That, whatever was coming, they would need to work together to fight it.

He informed Gaius of what he had seen, and that his Magic had attacked him for the first time. Immediately concerned, his Uncle had looked at each of the burns, before deeming them suitably healed with help from Morgana. He even got a hug, which was strange, but appreciated.

They continued to act like he was capable of breaking. Walking around him with sideways glances, tried to act like he needed to be coddled. In the evenings, rather than tumbling into bed with his Knights, they each tried to pamper him, to sit him on the bed and then state they could sleep separately. He tried to insist it was okay, but they were adamant. He even asked if it was because of his Magic lashing out, and they had pointed out it didn’t attack them. They weren’t scared of him, they wanted him to be safe.

He hated it. No longer did Arthur tease and insult him, the Knights didn’t jest with him, even Gwen was being kind. Too kind. Morgana watched with an amused stare, told him they would come around to the fact that he was okay, that he was actually getting more annoyed with them treating him like a favourite vase.

She’d said that, followed by nine days of continuous behaviour. Not once did they break, and even when Merlin tried to pursue a slightly more frantic make-out session, he was shut down. Now, if they’d been doing it because THEY didn’t want to, he’d have no problem.

But they told him it was okay. That they would wait till he felt better. Till his Magic was back to normal. Every excuse made him madder, until he threw an apple at Arthur’s head to try and get a reaction. Absolutely nothing, apart from the King’s hand resting on his shoulder.

‘It’s okay, Merlin. We’re here for you.’

Then, he heard them talking. The group had gathered after training, which Merlin was no longer allowed to join because they didn’t want him at risk from the flying weaponry (ridiculous, like they’d ever had a problem before!), and Merlin had used a spell of invisibility to hide himself. It was good practice, and considering they were talking about him, he didn’t really feel that bad about using it.

‘He’s getting restless.’ Lancelot stated, his voice filled with concern, but Arthur held a firm stare.

‘If what he saw is true, then we need to give him some space. It cannot be easy, having so much to think about. If our Courting got in the way…’

‘We’d never forgive ourselves.’ Leon finished, and Merlin was touched. Maybe they could all sit down and talk about this, like normal…

‘Perhaps we were too rough with him. He is, after all, quite small compared to us.’ Arthur stated, while Merlin’s temper began to ride.

‘Or maybe you’re all panicking, and we should be treating Merlin how he wants to be treated.’ Gwaine supplied, and Merlin noted that Lancelot and Percival seemed to be in agreement.

‘This short break might help Merlin realise what he wants. Surely all six of us pretending like he can handle such a thing is unhealthy.’ Merlin wanted to laugh, did Arthur really think that one vision was the worst thing that could have happened?

He’d lost so much, had to deal with so many things by himself before, and they thought this would be the thing that brought him down? When would they learn that he was perfectly capable of looking after himself, that he could handle this normally, with them by his side like they had been! Why were they treating him differently now, after they had come so far?

**

Merlin had spent the day with Aithusa, figuring that he didn’t really want to be in Camelot at the moment. At least, not in the Castle with the others watching him like he would shatter at any given point. Seeing his Hatchling was always a fun thing to do, Merlin laughed and played with him, even found himself smiling when Aithusa brought back a half-eaten rabbit.

‘Oh, Aithusa, why do I always have such bad luck?’ The Dragon didn’t have an answer for that, but did seem happy to set a flower on fire with a puff of flames, looking to Merlin expectantly.

‘That was a better shot, well done.’ Proud, with his chest puffed out slightly, Aithusa tottered back around the clearing, before settling with his head in Merlin’s lap. He’d almost been ready to tell the others about the Hatchling, had figured it was time that the secret wasn’t just reserved for Lancelot and Gwaine.

Now, though, he was hesitant to bring it up. If they thought he couldn’t handle a vision, how would they feel knowing Merlin snuck out of Camelot to see his Dragon?

If they tried to stop him… Merlin couldn’t bear to think of it, instinctively reached to clutch at the chain around his neck. This was the tenth day since his Vision, and as of yet, nothing had happened. Whoever this assassin was, they hadn't come yet.

Merlin hoped they reconsidered. Because if they did arrive, they’d have a very pissed-off Warlock to deal with.

‘Merlin, Arthur’s looking for you. I told him you’re out picking herbs.’ Of course, Arthur couldn’t even let him have this afternoon. He was tired, fed up and just wanted some affection. And not the kind they were offering, gentle touches and brief kisses. He wanted to be close, to be wrapped up against somebody, to be taken apart and built back up again.

It took him the entire walk to make his mind up, to head through the Castle and to the Knight’s door, knocking firmly, and watching as Gwaine opened it. A look of shock, then happiness, and a smirk crossed the Knight’s face.

‘Merl, wasn’t expecting you here tonight?’ He must have looked angry, or maybe hurt, because Gwaine’s expression changed.

‘I’m fed up of you all treating me like this. Like I can’t even handle a simple Vision by myself, let alone all the other stuff I’ve done. I’m not fragile, I’m not going to break, I just… I’m tired of being alone.’ He hoped his rant worked, watched Gwaine’s face soften, and Merlin felt himself relax.

‘What do you want from me?’ Gwaine asked, and Merlin knew that whatever he asked for, the Knight would give him. What did he want? To have Gwaine get the others, to have a conversation about how they had to talk to him, not just talk ABOUT him. To have them all understand he could decide how he was feeling himself, didn’t need them second-guessing his own emotions.

But right now? Merlin just wanted Gwaine.

‘I want you to make me forget.’ He admitted, offering himself out and hoping Gwaine would understand.

And, like always, the Knight didn’t disappoint. He let the door swing open, gestured for Merlin to enter.

‘Come on in, my Warlock.’

Chapter Text

‘I need you to make me a promise, Merlin.’ The Warlock looked to Gwaine, or in the direction of Gwaine, unable to see because of the neckerchief secured around his eyes.

‘Anything.’

‘If you need me to stop…’ Worry, tinging the edge of his voice, and Merlin relaxed against the bed.

‘I’ll tell you.’ Hands closed over his hips, skirted up his sides, before pausing at his shoulders. Restrained, yet he felt rather safe, knew that Gwaine would never do him any harm.

‘Gods, Merlin. The things I want to do to you.’ He sighed as a hand cupped his cheek, nuzzled into the touch affectionately, before it was retreating back to his collarbone.

‘Do it. All of it.’ The chuckle was then accompanied by his shirt ripping, and Merlin made a note to repair his shirt later.

‘Patience, love.’ Merlin rolled his eyes, even if Gwaine couldn’t see it, held still as Gwaine cut the tatters from his torso, before his hands moved down. He was stripped of his trousers and smallclothes, before Gwaine’s hands were wrapping something around one of his ankles.

‘Okay?’

‘Okay.’ He confirmed, smiling when Gwaine kissed back up his thigh, strong hands running along his skin. It was easy to let Gwaine take over, let himself focus on the hands that spread over his skin and the kisses that left warmth wherever they went.

‘I think I want to bring you to the edge. Keep you there.’ He shuddered, Gwaine mouthing the words against his inner thigh, and he used his unrestrained leg to spread apart, hoping to tempt him.

‘For how long?’ Merlin whispered, knowing he was never good at holding back. Patience didn’t seem to be his strong point.

‘As long as I please.’ Gwaine answered, before licking a long stripe up his cock, and Merlin whined. Gwaine crept up his body, a hand slowly jerking him while the kisses reached his neck, up to his jaw.

‘Marking you all over.’ He muttered, and Merlin wanted that, titled his neck to the side to encourage. When lips closed over his pulse-point, teeth grazing and tongue working, he gave up on trying to hide the sounds. It made him slightly glad that he’d silenced all of the Knights’ rooms, he didn’t really want anybody hearing him.

‘You make such pretty sounds, my Warlock. Wonder how much it takes to make you scream.’ It wasn’t a question, Gwaine was just using his voice to warn Merlin where his lips would next land, which happened to be on his chest. Bit down, harder than he’d expected, and Merlin yelped. Surprisingly, it did nothing to squash his arousal, and if anything, made it worse.

‘Interesting.’ He didn’t care what was interesting, just wanted Gwaine to put his damn lips on him before Merlin died.

‘Roll over.’ It was difficult, with his wrists tied above his head and one ankle with a soft fabric around it, but he managed to lie on his stomach, rested his head on his stretched arms. Gwaine kissed the nape of his neck, right on the scar, pressed his body over Merlin’s. They fit together, from the curve of Merlin’s spine against Gwaine’s chest, to the legs they had tangled.

A hand moved to his thigh, gripped him beneath the knee and yanked his leg up, spreading him in a way that had Merlin blushing.

‘Fuck, I want to taste you.’

‘Do it then.’ Merlin teased, regretted it when a hand came down harshly on his ass. He moaned, bit down onto his arm and tried not to make too much sound, but Gwaine didn’t like that. Fingers tangled into his hair, yanked his head back harshly as another hit landed, the sound of Merlin’s cry echoing out.

‘Better.’ The Knight taunted, bringing his hand down in quick blows that had Merlin trying to rut onto the sheets, gasping and trying to plead, only for the wind to be knocked out of him.

‘You’ve got such a mouth on you, Merl.’

‘Fuck, Gwaine please, want…’ Another slap, and he jerked forwards, moaned as his cock pressed to the sheets beneath.

‘If you dare, it’ll get a whole lot worse.’ The threat sent shivers down his spine, had him dangerously close to the edge already, Merlin spreading his legs slightly more and trying to tilt his body up, invitingly.

‘Look so good, skin all red.’ He was gripped, strong hands squeezing him tightly, while Merlin waited with baited breath.

‘Hold still, my little Warlock.’ Oh, a word had been added, but he couldn’t think about it for too long, because a tongue was dipping between his legs, and fuck, this was what he had wanted. Hands holding him down, while Merlin tried to garble out how good it felt, how much he wanted more.

The slurping sound was obscene, Gwaine’s talented tongue working wonders on him, pushing and teasing at him while Merlin wondered if this was what the afterlife was like. Honestly, he’d die a happy man, pushed his hips back into his Knight and groaned into the pillow.

‘Gwaine… please, going to…’ He was cut off when Gwaine retreated, the cool air taking his place and leaving Merlin hanging on to his sanity by the ropes holding him down.

‘Not yet. Deep breaths, sweetheart.’ It was awfully strange, being built up to the point of breaking, before he was dropped and caught in gentle, soothing hands rubbing up his back. Merlin trusted him, though, let his body be worked down until he no longer felt the knot in his stomach.

‘Think I should taste the other side, hmm?’ Oh yeah, Merlin was down for that, let Gwaine roll him onto his back and settle between his thighs.

‘You know, love, we usually don’t give this part enough attention.’ Fingers gripped him tightly, while Gwaine lavished him with small licks and kisses, Merlin trying his best not to work his hips.

‘Think after tasting,’ He accompanied the word with a kiss right at the tip, hand working him gently,

‘I’m going to open myself up and go for a ride. That okay with you?’ Merlin couldn’t help it, was pushing his hips upwards and making a sound that even he couldn’t recognise. A chuckle from his Knight, before a mouth closed over the head of his cock, hand working what wasn’t wrapped in velvet heat.

He was vaguely aware that he was sobbing, tugging at the bonds that held his hands down, desperate to hold Gwaine’s head in place. He got the hint though, knew just how to drive Merlin insane, let his throat relax and moved until Merlin was buried deep in his throat. The hands that had been holding his hips still relaxed, and Merlin began to move, no coordination, just a desperate urge that he was trying to sate.

The heat was building, Merlin groaning as he chased his ending, before the mouth pulled off and a hand clamped around his cock, tightening his grip and cutting off his release.

‘No, no fuck, c’mon, so close.’ Gwaine didn’t reply to his begging, and Merlin smelt the scent of oil, remembered what the Knight had suggested.

‘Want to see!’ He pleaded, didn’t know when his voice had turned to nothing more than a whine.

‘You want to see me opening myself up for you?’ Teasing, the sound of his trousers hitting the floor and Gwaine climbing back onto the bed.

‘Yes, yes Gods, please.’ An oiled finger tracked over his stomach, before vanishing.

‘Oh, that feels good, it’s been so long since I’ve done this.’ Merlin couldn’t stand it, Gwaine was barely straddling him, his body heat radiating out but not enough to comfort, his fingers moving, if the sound was anything to go by, but Merlin couldn’t see it.

‘Gwaine, Gwaine please, want to see.’ Another groan from his Knight, deep breathing and the sound of his fingers fucking into him.

‘Not yet love, want you to feel it, can you do something for me?’ His head was a complete mess, lost to anything but Gwaine’s voice, which was asking him to do something. He nodded, hungry, hoping that Gwaine would reward him with the blindfold vanishing.

‘Want you to use your Magic. Just a little bit, just to let you feel how stretched I am. Can you do that?’ Merlin didn’t know if he could, but his Magic had a mind of its own, racing out for the Knight hovering over him. Gwaine laughed, scolded him lightly for his impatience, then let out a breathy sigh as his Magic slowly tested his entrance.

Hot, fuck this was so hot, Merlin just needed something to rut against and he would be done. Gwaine rocked back onto his Magic, let it work, before telling him it withdraw.

‘I want you to keep it wrapped around your cock, Merlin. Don’t let yourself cum, understand?’ Why was his Magic so quick to obey Gwaine, when Merlin couldn’t even think? He winced as it wrapped around, a tight pressure that would stop him from finishing, before a hand was guiding Merlin’s cock, Gwaine hovering over him.

‘Going to take you now, love. Have you any way I want.’ His voice was like honey, tempting, and Merlin was drawn to it like a bee. Gwaine slowly sunk down, wrapping around him until he was pinned to the bed under Gwaine’s weight, unable to get away from the pleasure.

‘Oh, that’s what I wanted.’ Gwaine muttered, and Merlin bit back a shout.

**

Truthfully, Gwaine had intended on keeping to Arthur’s advice. After all, they were all in this relationship with Merlin as a whole, one could not go against the other. But, then again, his loyalty lay to his Warlock first. And when Merlin had turned up to his door, asking for something Gwaine longed to give… he was too weak of a man to hold off.

Now, all guilt was gone, the pleasure of listening to Merlin’s babbling as he rocked his hips far better. He hadn't done this in a long time, not since he was a boy, but it was worth it, to watch Merlin’s face. Although he couldn’t see his eyes, he kept close watch on what he could see, checked every so often to ensure Merlin was still alright with this.

With Gwaine taking what he wanted. Like now, with Merlin pressing to his sweet spot, Gwaine working his cock with an oiled hand and groaning. Merlin was so pretty, so gorgeous when he was spread out under him, looking like a damned treat. Such pretty noises, like the whimpers he could draw when he rocked forwards, the gasps when he clenched around him.

‘Think I’m going to finish over you. Make you mine.’ The dirty talk was getting slightly out of hand, it just seemed to slip out when Gwaine was with Merlin, especially when he reacted so beautifully to it.

‘Please. Want it. Fuck, all over me, please.’ Gwaine was lost, his sweet little Merlin saying something like that was too much, he was gone. Jerking desperately, watching as he painted Merlin’s chest white, swearing at the sight.

‘Gwaine, can’t do it, need… I need something…’ He was getting desperate, but not quite at the stage where he was worried. Merlin was strong, had laid his faith in him, and he was going to reward him.

‘Twice more, my sweet, and then I’ll let you choose how you cum.’ The necklace hung around him, Gwaine’s eyes focusing on it, on his claim to Merlin. It made his pride swell, at seeing Merlin so unquestionably his.

‘M’kay, can… can you kiss me?’ That he could do, pressed his lips to Merlin’s, gentle and sweet.

‘Going to clean you up now.’ He licked down Merlin’s chest, chuckled every time Merlin squirmed under his touch, at every sound his Warlock made. By the time he was finished, he was already beginning to harden, figured it was time that Merlin was opened up.

He didn’t tell Merlin what he was doing, just took his leg and hooked it over his shoulder, before grabbing the oil and quickly dousing his fingers. The Warlock shuddered, knowing what was about to happen, impatient as Gwaine pushed a single digit into him.

‘Fuck, you’re still so tight.’ He didn’t need to rush this bit, could spread Merlin slowly, enjoyed listen to Merlin curse at him while he did so. By the time he finally had two fingers stretching him, he decided it was time to play a little bit dirty, curled his fingers to the spot that had Merlin almost leaping from the bed, shaking from his head to his legs.

‘Can’t, Gwaine, please! Feels so good.’ Whether Merlin was aware that the Magic he was using was visible, Gwaine didn’t know. He could see the ring around his cock, the thing stopping this from being over too quickly, looked at the angry shade of the skin.

He repeated the action, tears dripping from Merlin’s cheek, working him back to the edge that Gwaine had promised to keep him at.

‘Almost there, just once more my sweet, and then you can finish.’ For this, he had opted for a toy.

Sex toys weren’t uncommon, he had seen them before, usually crafted of wood. Normally, he had no need for one, he was more than happy to go out and seek pleasure, didn’t need a toy to do so. However, this wasn’t for him, this was for Merlin.

He untied Merlin’s ankle, helped the boy move upwards slightly. The Warlock spread his legs, probably expecting his cock, not the wooden toy that he slowly worked into him.

‘Gwaine…’

‘Trust me, love. You’re doing so well, stretching so good.’ Merlin did as told, let himself be spread open on it, before it was pressed flush.

‘I’m going to fuck your mouth now, love, and then you can have your reward. Alright?’ Merlin nodded, trying to prop himself up, so adorable and cute despite the hot situation. Gwaine shifted, until he was at the perfect angle, watched Merlin spread his lips willingly. 

The thing about doing this, was that it went deep. Straight to the back of Merlin’s throat, with Gwaine waiting for him to get his breathing. Gwaine fought to keep still, undid the rope around Merlin’s wrists with ease.

‘One hand on the toy, I want you to work yourself with it.’ Gwaine looked around to where Merlin’s hand dipped, leg propping up and his slender fingers closing over the toy.

He began to move, seeking the way that Merlin curled his tongue, pressure that was delightful. It felt incredible, as it always did, the slight gag, the way Merlin worked so hard to please. It took very little time before he was close, pulled from Merlin’s mouth and stripped the blindfold from his eyes.

Shit, he’d not expected that sight to be so attractive. Merlin’s eyes were half-gold, half-blue, teary but utterly hungry, demanding, needy. He batted away Merlin’s hand, took hold of the toy and started to move it harshly, pushing Merlin to the last edge and watching the way his eyes rolled back.

He held him there longer than he should, could tell the moment it went too far when the tears began to leak. Gently removing the toy, wrapping Merlin up and praising him, kisses all over his face and neck.

‘How d’you want to finish? Want my mouth?’ Merlin looked up hazily, lust induced, and shook his head.

‘Want to bend over for you.’ He mumbled, still embarrassed about asking for such a thing, and Gwaine nodded. He helped the Warlock from the bed, walked him across to the dresser and slowly bent him down, until he was pressed flush to it.

‘Hold on to the sides for me, alright? I won’t make this long, you can cum as soon as you want.’ Merlin nodded, spreading his feet apart and offering himself out, and Gwaine would never fail to love the sight. He pushed in slowly, but fully intended to keep his promise, worked up to a quick pace.

Merlin was making tiny noises on each thrust, gripping the dresser and pushing back into him, while Gwaine held Merlin’s hips and pummelled into him, determined to bring Merlin to the end before he reached his. The Warlock was sensitive, he didn’t dare touch his cock, instead reached a hand to grip Merlin’s hair and yanked it hard.

‘Fuck! Gwaine!’ Merlin near-screamed, the side of the dresser dripping white as the Warlock emptied, and Gwaine swore as the Magic around them burst.

When he finally came around, he was on the floor, still inside Merlin, the Warlock on top of him. The dresser was a mess, the furniture in the room thrown back, the previously-dead fire roaring to the side of them.

‘Bloody hell.’ He muttered, having never been so tired from an orgasm before, nor so… complete. Merlin mumbled something that sounded a lot like a declaration of his affections, so Gwaine scooped him up on wobbly legs, walked them across to the sheets.

‘I love you too, sweetheart. You did so well, looked so pretty.’ Merlin preened, even in his tired state, curled into his chest and wrapped around him like a limpet. Gwaine didn’t mind, in fact he wanted the Warlock in his arms, where he could feel the press of his ring against his chest, squashed between them.

‘Thank you, Gwaine.’ Merlin whispered, from where his head was tucked under Gwaine’s chin. The Knight could do nothing but press a kiss to his sweaty forehead, promising that, however angry Arthur was, it had been worth it.

Chapter Text

Merlin rose his head as Gwaine entered the room, watched as the Knight moved across to the bed to press a kiss to his forehead.

‘Morning, love.’ The Warlock stretched out, arched his back and felt the soreness to his muscles, the happy, sated feeling that sunk all the way to his bones.

‘Morning Gwaine, everything okay?’ Gwaine procured an apple, offered it out to him and Merlin grinned, sunk his teeth into it quickly.

‘Yep. Arthur wants to go out for a Hunt for a couple of nights, was going to go to Gaius to find you, but I said I’d grab you.’ Of course, they technically weren’t supposed to be bedding him, and Gwaine had broken that. Merlin put the apple on the side, sat up and moved to straddle Gwaine’s hips, more than aware of the fact he was naked.

‘This mean he’s coming back around?’ Merlin asked, threading his fingers through Gwaine’s hair and smiling when the Knight placed his hands on Merlin’s bare thighs, ran his fingers across them.

‘Maybe. He just doesn’t want you overwhelmed, Merlin.’ The Knight snatched his apple, taking a bite out of it with a smile, Merlin frowning.

‘Overwhelmed? I’ve dealt with more than this before.’ He gripped tightly as Gwaine turned them, lowered Merlin down to the bed with his fully-dressed form pinning him down.

‘I know. But now you have us, and we need you safe.’ He understood, hooked his legs around Gwaine and tempted him with kisses, smiling at the taste of apple.

‘I’ll be safe. Who’ll dare come against me, when I have you six standing by my side.’ Another kiss, before Gwaine reluctantly drew himself away, and Merlin realised they should probably be getting going.

‘You might want to wear your neckerchief.’ Gwaine suggested, confusing him, before the Knight passed across his small mirror.

Oh, his neck was covered in marks, bites and kisses from last night. Merlin blinked, looked to his chest, saw the same pattern. Fingertip marks around his hips, and he felt his body hum happily.

‘Too much?’ Gwaine asked, concerned, and Merlin looked up.

Gwaine had to see the arousal that had already taken hold, the way Merlin was breathing heavy just thinking about last night. He laughed, bent to kiss him, long and sweet, before rising back up.

‘Dirty harlot.’ Gwaine teased, and Merlin felt his skin flush further, tried to scowl but ended up laughing.

‘Shut it.’ He grabbed his clothes, ignored Gwaine’s grabby hands and prepared for the hunt.

**

Gwaine was trying to hide his smirk. Merlin was on horseback, and he could see the way the man winced if he ever moved too much. The Knight shouldn’t feel so proud about such a thing, it shouldn’t give him the happy surge of pride that it did. Arthur was busy bragging about the deer that they had managed to catch, they were now heading to one of the familiar places to camp, and he watched Merlin dismount and begin to search for firewood.

He was distracted, hence why Arthur got the jump on him, had him pinned back against the tree before he could even think to defend himself. The others didn’t get in the way, although they did look confused, staring at Arthur, who was glaring right at Gwaine.

‘Don’t think I missed the way Merlin’s limping today.’ Ah, so Arthur was angry that Gwaine went behind his back. Fair enough, he probably deserved that.

‘He came to me last night. Heartbroken, because we were all treating him like a child, rather than a man that can hold his own.’ The moment he explained, any anger on any of the others’ faces disappeared, although Arthur’s stayed in place.

‘We agreed…’

‘He’s hurt, Arthur. Surely you can understand that you’d deny Merlin nothing.’ The King halted, pulled back and released his hold, bowing his head slightly.

‘I get it, I do. This is something you can’t control, you don’t get why the Magic happens,’ Gwaine was careful not to make it sound like he was calling the King useless, knowing it would make Arthur angrier,

‘But you can’t punish Merlin for it.’ Speaking of, the Warlock was heading back in this direction with his arms full of wood, looked across with a smile. He missed the tension between them, or perhaps had noticed and decided that it was his job to ease it.

‘Unless you want me skinning the dear, do you want to get started? We can head down to the stream whilst it’s cooking.’ Arthur nodded, reached for his hunting knife and left Gwaine’s side, moving to Merlin. The two worked in harmony, like they could read each other perfectly, Arthur cutting the deer and Merlin placing it onto the sticks to cook.

‘Is he alright?’ Percival asked, and Gwaine nodded.

‘Yes. It hardly affected him, which probably means it happens more than we thought.’ He didn’t like that fact, but he couldn’t do too much about it.

**

Arthur’s hands were batted away, Merlin unclasping his armour and helping him out of it. The King sighed, relaxed into his manservant/lover/sorcerer’s capable hands, noted the look of concentration on Merlin’s face. Gwaine may have broken the agreement, but he knew the others were still waiting for his lead, and Arthur had been a fool. Denying Merlin affection, trying to distance themselves from him, it had been wrong. The Warlock was affectionate, liked their touch, and taking that away had been cruel.

With Merlin doing that face, the one where his eyes were focused and his tongue occasionally stuck out, Arthur gave in. Once Arthur’s chainmail was gone, and he watched Merlin’s eyes drift across his body, lingering slightly in a way that made the King proud, he gripped Merlin’s hips and tugged him closer.

‘Can you forgive me?’ He murmured, not quite daring to kiss him, not when Merlin’s eyes still held anger. The man sighed, a pout forming.

‘I suppose. You are an idiot, I should have expected you acting rashly.’ It was teasing, words that nobody but Merlin, and potentially Morgana, would dare to use. Arthur waited, until Merlin gave in and kissed him, full of hunger and annoyance and the love that they shared.

Love. He’d used the word more and more frequently in his head, wondered if he’d ever get to the point where he could say it aloud.

‘Now go clean up, you stink.’ With that, Merlin was walking back, and Arthur caught his Knights smirking.

‘Get in the water.’ Arthur snapped, watched them all rush forwards.

**

Merlin handed out the stew, settled by Percival and rested against the Knight, who seemed happy for his company. Chatter was light-hearted, now that Arthur had come to his senses, and Merlin was happy that he was no longer going to be denied. He’d missed each one of them, missed the touches and curling up with them, of feeling safe in their hold.

He was about to suggest that they make use of the fact that they were alone in the woods, and that Merlin had been in none of their beds (Gwaine aside) in ten days now, when someone came staggering out of the trees.

The idiots that they were, they all reached for weapons, Merlin rushing across to catch the man before he fell. He was no threat, anyone could see the blood that was covering his hands, the fact he could barely hold himself up.

‘Merlin!’ Arthur scolded, hand wrapped around Excalibur, Merlin helping the man head towards the fire.

‘F-forgive me, I was attacked by b-bandits just North of here. I’ve lost my group.’ The man looked awful, and while Arthur began to question him, Merlin set to work on finding the injury. He lifted up the man’s tunic, winced at the straight-through injury that had probably been an arrow. Elyan was by his side in an instant, Merlin’s satchel that contained his healing equipment inside, and Merlin set to work.

Clean the wound, make sure there was nothing left in the wound, then decide if it needed stiches, of whether he could just apply a poultice. A vial of pain-relief, which he handed to the man and helped him drink, while he tried to explain to Arthur that he was no threat.

The poor man was obviously terrified, hadn't planned on running into the King of Camelot on his travels. Merlin made sure he was focused on Arthur, muttered a quick spell under his breath and watched as the skin stitched itself together a little, numbing the pain around it.

‘Oh, that feels better!’ He exclaimed, surprised, and Merlin smiled.

‘A poultice, Sir. Should keep the pain away.’ The man thanked him, went back to explaining about the bandits that had attacked, Merlin finishing up the bandaging and stepping back. A bowl of soup fetched, and his own waterskin offered out.

‘Merlin…’ Arthur began, Merlin frowning at the King.

‘He’s injured. We can’t leave him to fend for himself.’ He then remembered he was nothing more than the King’s manservant, when others were around, and shouldn’t be talking back to him.

‘Sorry, Sire, I…’

‘No, you’re right. We’ll wait till morning, then head North and see if we can find your group.’ The man, who now had a name, Alfred, thanked them all. The King moved away from his sword, sat back by the fire as Merlin helped the man to eat the stew, before realising that they were a bedroll short. He didn’t mind, once Alfred had finished eating and had drunk the water, he showed the man to his own bedroll, offered out his blankets.

‘I can’t take this from you, I…’

‘I insist. Rest up, I’ll check on the wound in the morning.’ Merlin watched the relief, the man patting his shoulder with a smile.

‘Thank you, Merlin.’

**

Arthur sighed, gestured to his bedroll, watched Merlin’s eyes widen. He knew the man may not think that Arthur should be showing affection in front of anybody else, but he didn’t care. He wouldn’t make Merlin sleep on the floor, pulled back his blanket and watched as Merlin hesitantly crept under, trying to keep distance between them. He wasn’t having it, wrapped an arm around the man’s waist and tugged him back, flush against him.

‘But Arthur…’

‘Let him wonder. I want you here.’ Arthur grumbled, felt Merlin relax against him. Ten days of Arthur not touching Merlin in anything more than a casual approach, it felt better to have him back in his arms. The idiot started squirming, and Arthur usually was a patient man, but not when he’d had nothing more than brief touches.

‘Merlin…’ He growled, heard Merlin’s squeak as he gripped him tighter.

‘Trying to get comfy.’ The manservant whispered back at him, Arthur looking across to where their new guest was fast asleep, snoring slightly.

‘Hurry up about it.’ Arthur shot back, before Merlin’s hips moved again, and then halted.

‘Oh.’ He didn’t need to be able to see Merlin’s face to know he was blushing.

‘Idiot.’ Arthur snapped, pushing his hips forwards slightly, and hiding his smile when he felt Merlin shudder. He could feel his heartbeat, racing beneath his skin, Merlin hesitantly pushing back again. A tease, as always, and he reached his hand to dip under Merlin’s shirt, moving up to press over his heart.

‘Don’t start something you can’t finish.’ Arthur dared, knowing it would only tempt Merlin further. Sure enough, Merlin spread his legs slightly, letting Arthur rut between them.

‘Think you can be quiet?’ That was a no, but Arthur was prepared for that, moved his hand to Merlin’s breeches and shoved them down.

‘Use your Magic.’ He muttered, watched as Merlin rolled over onto his front, Arthur swearing internally and shoving his own trousers out of the way. Once that was done, he could reach out for Merlin, tugged him back. He briefly dipped his fingers down, felt the slickness that told him Merlin’s Magic was working, before carefully shifting until he was ready to push.

‘Ready?’ Merlin nodded, and he pushed forwards, gasped and dropped his head to Merlin’s shoulder. The Warlock whimpered, Arthur reaching around and clamping a hand over his mouth, before beginning to thrust. Tight, hot, and all too addicting, pushing Merlin onto the bedroll and resting on top of him, his legs spreading to make room for him.

‘Shh, that’s it.’ Arthur grunted, especially with the way Merlin was trying to push back against him. He wasn’t going to last long at all, nor was Merlin, if the increasing sounds slipping from behind his hand was anything to go by.

Arthur felt it when Merlin finished, the shudder that ran through him and clamping around him, helpless to do anything but spill into him. He rolled off carefully, Merlin turning to face him, and a single flash of gold had them cleaned up.

‘Insatiable.’ He teased, and the Warlock just tucked up close to him.

**

Merlin woke with a jump, his head pounding with Morgana’s call, rubbing sleep from his eyes and shaking Arthur awake.

‘W’is it?’

‘Morgana. I need to get back to Camelot.’ It hadn't sounded too urgent, just her calling to him for assistance, but he wasn’t going to let anything be left to chance.

‘Is she in danger?’ He was awake now, sitting up sharply and staring at Merlin, who shook his head.

‘I don’t think so. I’ll ride back, if you think you can manage without me? I’ll come back…’

‘You aren’t riding alone.’ Arthur snapped, while Merlin rolled his eyes.

‘From here to Camelot is a safe ride. You’re the one going into bandit territory.’ The others were waking up, probably because they were making too much noise, or maybe because the sun was creeping through the trees and brightening the clearing.

‘Then you can ride back, but you aren’t leaving Camelot again.’ Merlin went to argue, but Arthur shot him a glare that told him it wasn’t worth it, he wouldn’t get Arthur to change his mind.

‘Is there any way you can keep in contact with us?’ Leon asked, while Merlin thought about it, before having an idea.

‘If you had a piece of my Magic with you, I might be able to. It’s how it works with Morgana, but I doubt you’d be able to speak back.’ Arthur quickly agreed to it, before asking which one of them would be best.

‘Er, probably the one of you most compatible with Magic… Can I…’ He trailed off, gaining nods from several of them. He presumed it would be Arthur, he was born of Magic, but the idiot himself was quite… unmagical. Like an apple, he thought with amusement, with barely any Magic.

He moved to Elyan next, who wasn’t much better. His Magic found it amusing, to try and get them to react, nothing more than a quick burst of power through their veins. Lancelot did have the slightest spark, Gwaine had very little, and Leon reacted as much as Arthur had. Finally, he attempted to draw a reaction from Percival, almost shouted in joy when he got a reaction.

‘Of course! Your parents were Druids!’ Percival looked slightly scared, but Merlin was just impressed, how had he not noticed this before?

‘Percival’s Magic?’ Gwaine sounded doubtful, but Merlin chuckled.

‘No, although if he tried to learn, it might work.’ He reached for his neckerchief, untied it and focused his Magic into it, before handing it across.

‘As long as you have this on you, I can call for you. Keep him safe.’ He nodded across to Alfred, and the others nodded.

‘Keep us updated.’ Merlin scampered up, reached for his horse and mounted smoothly.

He needed to make sure Morgana was safe.

Chapter Text

‘Why are you here?’ Merlin asked, dismounting in one quick movement and catching the woman, who looked just as confused as he felt. Morgana was wearing her usual day-dress, not something designed for riding, like she had left Camelot in a hurry. He took note of the panic in her eyes, the slight confusion that took over as he spoke.

‘What do you mean? You called for me!’ He halted, slowly studying her for any sign that she was joking.

‘You called for me, Morgana. We… called for each other?’ Now they both stared at each other, and Merlin wondered why their Magic had panicked enough to call out to each other. They stood in the middle of the woods, just outside of Camelot’s normal boundary, and Merlin’s gut twisted slightly.

‘But why?’ He had a very bad feeling. A feeling that was getting worse, the longer he stood with Morgana opposite him.

‘I think we need to ride to Camelot. And quickly.’

**

Guinevere halted, slowly held her hands up in defence.

‘I don’t know who you are, but if you hurt me…’ She never got to finish her sentence, because something hit her in the neck. Her fingers plucked at it, a small thing that looked like a dart, and her vision began to blur. It had been foolish, to walk so far without guards surrounding her, and Gwen could only imagine how upset Morgana was going to be when she found out that Gwen had got herself in this situation.

The person wore all black, looked rather like as assassin, stepping forwards as Gwen wobbled.

‘Stay back.’ Gwen tried to say, although it was slurred and vague, Gwen trying to defend herself as the person stepped forwards, caught her as she fell. She was lifted from the ground, watched her crown fall to the floor as the person carried her away from the flowers she had been picking ready for Morgana’s return.

‘No, g’tta keep safe, M’gana’s going t’hurt you.’ Even she was not quite sure why she was still fighting, let her head drop as she was carried away from her home.

**

Gaius watched as every window in the throne room shattered, as the councillors cowered under Morgana’s rage. Her eyes were a brilliant gold, focused on the crown that had been recovered from the place they had last seen their Queen.

Merlin was standing by Morgana’s side, but made no effort to stop her Magic from lashing out. In fact, Gaius had never seen his son look so angry. There was fire in his eyes, an anger that did not suit his face. Gaius pitied the person foolish enough to capture the Queen of Camelot, they would never survive Morgana’s wrath, let alone Merlin’s.

‘My Lady, might I suggest that we fetch the King and his Knights, surely they can find…’ One councillor, brave enough to address Morgana, who slowly turned to him like the suggestion was absurd.

‘I shall find the King. And then I’ll hunt down whoever took the Queen.’ She hissed, words spat out and she gripped her skirts, turned from the room and halted at the exit.

‘Emrys.’ Merlin shook out of his daydream, probably considering how best to find Gwen, and rushed to her side.

Gaius could only pray that they would be sensible.

**

Arthur dragged himself across the ground, his body aching, looked across to his Knights. Percival and Leon were already unconscious, Lancelot and Elyan slumped and watching as the men approached. Gwaine was still attempting to fight, to reach for the band of cloth that Percival had lost the moment he dropped down, a small dart sticking into his neck.

They were sorcerers. Or, at least, some of them were. Arthur looked to Alfred, the man that Merlin had tried to save, only to have to look away. His head had been sliced clean from his body, and no man could ever come back from that injury.

‘Arthur Pendragon. You’ll be the perfect bait.’ Never in his life had Arthur been bait, it had always been him being used. He was, after all, a King. A Pendragon, worth a lot, and Arthur wondered who they were trying to bait.

Then he understood. Remembered what Merlin’s vision had been, of the group dying, of Gwen with them. At least she was not here, he thought, the poison that had pricked his skin slowly taking hold.

**

‘Merlin…’ Morgana could see his rage, watched his Magic darken and twist into something that made her want to drop to her knees. There was his neckerchief, stained in blood and lying in a clearing where there had evidently been a fight. If Morgana had thought that her brother would be able to assist in finding Gwen, she had been wrong.

Whoever they were, whatever they wanted, they’d made a big mistake. Taking not only Gwen, but Arthur and the Knights? Merlin looked ready to kill, a face that did not suit him, but she understood perfectly. Had things been different, had she taken the path to darkness, it would have been the two of them, facing each other off at the end.

Instead, they were united.

Morgana looked to the headless body, regarded him with a slight sadness. Merlin had explained he had tried to heal a man that had stumbled free from the forest, no doubt this had been him.

‘We’re going to find them.’ Merlin stated, leaving no room for argument. In fact, she was too afraid to argue, worried that he would push through anyone to reach those that he loved. Would push past her, if she dared to stand in his way.

‘How?’ She asked, looking back to the horses, and wondering where they were going to go. They had no leads, no…

‘The Perilous Lands. I know where to find them.’ Her heartrate picked up, just the thought of being able to find Gwen, of being able to wrap her up and hold her tight, was enough to reassure her.

‘How many of them do you think there will be?’ She asked, as they walked back to the horses and Merlin mounted his, Morgana hoisting herself into the saddle. Prolonged riding had never suited her, nor Merlin, but this was not an option any longer. They were going to save the group.

‘Not enough to save them.’ Merlin growled, eyes sparking, and Morgana swallowed.

**

Arthur looked to his wife, and his wife looked right back at him. In front of them, a desert stretched out, golden sands as far as the eye could see. The sky was murky and the tower behind them was the only thing that stuck out in the bleak landscape. Chained down, all of them attached to the platform they were kneeling on, none of them majorly injured.

‘When do you think they’ll come?’ A man dressed in all black asked, the same one that had come riding across with Gwen slumped over the back of the horse.

‘As soon as possible. They’ve been having the dreams, and the boy isn’t an idiot. He’ll find us.’ They were talking about Merlin. This was a trap, for his manservant and sister, for the Warlock and the High Priestess. Arthur swallowed down bile, the gag in his mouth preventing him from trying to talk to his captors. All he could do was look to his men, to Guinevere, and hope that they wouldn’t be so foolish as to come alone.

‘What’s our total count?’ Arthur tried to look back to the tower, had seen at least fifty men so far.

‘Just shy of three hundred.’

Arthur gulped, not even all of Camelot’s Knights could face such an army.

Chapter Text

‘I like our chances.’ Morgana stood by Merlin’s side, the two of them staring out across the desert. It was like her brief visions, and the ones that Merlin had showed her, a dark tower the focus of her attention. The Magic around it was powerful, they had to have at least twenty sorcerers on their side, the assassin that Morgana had dreamed about standing behind her Queen. If they thought it was wise to threaten them, they were very mistaken.

‘So do I.’ Merlin agreed, anger sparking in his already golden eyes, although he was not yet performing any spell. A person was coming forwards, presumably to try and negotiate with them, and the High Priestess eyed them with distaste.

‘Are we negotiating?’ She may rank higher in Camelot, but out on this barren landscape, Merlin was the one in charge. She trusted him implicitly, knew he would do everything in his power to bring back the group, and that was why she held her temper.

‘Unless they’re letting them all go without any terms, then no.’ She snorted with amusement, held her tongue as the person halted. A man in armour, nothing like that of Camelot, with a sword that he wielded like it would be able to do anything to them.

‘Emrys! Morgana! We ask that you listen to our terms!’ She wondered briefly why she didn’t get an awesome name like Merlin did, before glancing to the Warlock beside her. He looked down, shrugged, gestured to the man.

‘He’s all yours.’ Good, she struck out with a fireball and watched it melt through armour, the man screaming before dropping. Immediately, the ranks behind raised their weapons, and Merlin grinned.

‘Get to the platform, I’ll send Aithusa as back-up.’ She wasn’t insulted by the fact that he did not think she could reach them by herself, in fact, she agreed. Merlin was already walking towards the armies, the sky darkening as he called to his Magic, and she did the same. Unable to control the weather, but able to control the elements around them.

The fire raced from her hands, a second spell that shook the earth beneath her feet. She kept her gaze focused on the assassin, stopped for nobody, did not try and spare those that were running for her. Merlin had told her that the only way they would get out of this with all of them alive was to feel no guilt, and she found it easier than she first thought. Her Magic grew angry, seeing her lover drugged and chained up like she was nothing more than a slave, not the Queen that ruled over Camelot.

Vaguely, she noted that people were screaming. That with each step she took, more people went flying back, and she was surprised to note that snakes had appeared from the sand. They took her command well, raced towards the armed men, constricted and cursed with venom those that dared stand against her.

Above, a screech pierced the sky, flames rushing down over her. She walked through untouched, but the men around burnt like candles, Morgana noting that Aithusa dived to her side.

‘The Assassin. Protect the King and Queen.’ She ordered, the Dragon bowing his head before his wings were beating, up into the sky and scorching the path in front of her. Morgana finally made eye-contact with the Assassin, who had taken off his mask, his pale face showing the regret of what he had done. He knew he would not survive, and she revelled in his pain, took yet another step towards her Queen.

A sorcerer stepped into her path, glowing golden eyes, with two more flanking his sides. She halted, briefly thought she might actually struggle to beat them, but Merlin must have been watching her back. Lightning struck the ground where they had stood, smiting them down, and Morgana noted the shocked faces of all those around her.

She looked across in search of Merlin, blinked when she saw the path of destruction that he was making. Dead bodies, a lot of them, ravaged and torn apart by his Magic, and she was momentarily fearful.

Back to Gwen. She had to reach Gwen, regardless of everything else. She could deal with Merlin’s Magic later. Breaking into a jog, slamming her hand out to the last of the men surrounding the platform, climbing up the steps and finally coming face to face with the man from her vision. Aithusa had landed, was keeping him pinned.

‘You shouldn’t have taken the people we love.’ Morgana did her best scary-voice, imitating Merlin, watched the Assassin slowly drop to his knees, and she halted. It felt wrong, to kill someone bowing to her, but then she remembered how her Magic had screamed when Gwen had been taken, how this could have gone so badly, if she did not have Merlin’s help.

She cut her hand through the air, in a slicing motion, watched in surprise as the neck of the Assassin’s throat opened up just as her hand moved. Aithusa moved, tail hitting the man as he fell, pushing him backwards over the platform.

Gwen was her priority, snatching the gag from her mouth and cradling her gently.

‘Morgana, I thought…’

‘Gwen, oh Goddess, I lost you.’ The kiss was brief, tasted of sweat and desperation, but Gwen was smiling up at her. Morgana felt her lips curl up, then remembered she should be breaking the Queen free, attempted to break the chains with her Magic. It didn’t respond, so she looked to Merlin’s hatchling.

‘Aithusa, can you break the chains?’ The Dragon came padding across, took a deep breath and scorched the bands, freeing Guinevere from the platform. The hug was everything she’d hoped, her Magic singing happily, before she stepped back. Gwen did not look afraid of her, even after what she’d just done. Goddess, she loved that woman.

The Dragon was working through them, each Knight raising up, and Morgana took Gwen’s hands.

‘Wait here, we’ll finish them off. Aithusa, keep them safe.’ The Dragon stood guard, and Morgana briefly turned to Arthur, found his eyes very much focused on Merlin.

The Warlock was raging out of control, a storm in the centre of the desert, sand whipping up around him. Lightning marks covered the barren space, the sky raging as the last of the men tried to face off against him.

‘Don’t go near him, not until I know he’s in control.’ Was all she offered to the group, before running from the steps of the platform after him.

**

Merlin didn’t hold back his Magic, not anymore. It left his system in a rush, the power singing through his veins, an addictive rush of power that he embraced. The storm felt like a comfort, a warm blanket wrapped around his shoulders, something that he could trust.

He’d never really believed it, that he was Magic itself, not until he needed all of its power. Not until he asked the Old Religion for all that it could give, and it did not disappoint. He spoke no words, had no need to, his thoughts were enough to shape the world around him.

When the last bolt of lightning came down, Merlin tipped his head up to the darkness and let it burst. A wave of light poured from his skin, raced over the sand and absorbed everything in its path. The bodies, the weapons, the blood that was slick on the sand. Then the rain came, the last element that he controlled, and Merlin heard footsteps.

Morgana was drenched, partly in blood, but the rain was now aiding to the mess. She looked up at him, a look of awe and fear, but he felt the same about her. She’d been incredible, he’d watched her perform spells that far outweighed her training. Emotions, apparently, did very well in guiding Magic.

‘Emrys.’ He watched as she curtseyed, took her skirts and lowered herself, although her golden eyes stayed staring up, defiant.

‘My Lady.’ He returned, inclined his head, then looked down at his hands. The skin was golden, like the burst of energy that had broken from his skin, the same colour as his eyes when he performed Magic.

‘They’re safe, Merlin.’ He knew that, just needed to get his Magic back under control, needed to tuck it away. The warmth sank deep, he shuddered as the feeling rocked through him, felt exhaustion crash down over him. He wobbled, looked to the Lady, who was watching him cautiously.

‘Gana…’ He pleaded, unsure of what he was asking, before pitching forwards. Her arms reached for him, caught him as he tumbled, a hand soothing.

‘Rest, I can take it from here.’ Her Magic was familiar, lulled him into the security of her embrace, and he let himself fall into sleep.

After all, Morgana was perfectly capable of handling herself, she’d proved that.

Chapter Text

‘I’m trying!’ Morgana protested, staring at the Dragon in fond annoyance. Aithusa chirped, moved closer to where Merlin was sleeping in her lap. They had been walking back, because the horses had fled, and she had given Percival a respite from carrying the Warlock.

‘He won’t wake up yet.’ She finished, and Aithusa looked sad. Nuzzled against his kin’s body, and then looked back up to her. Morgana, content that Merlin was safe, looked across to the others. They had mostly been silent, but she could tell they had so many questions. Like how Merlin had managed to kill almost three-hundred men single-handedly.

‘I’m sorry he didn’t get to tell you himself.’ It broke the silence, and she was sorry, knew they were startled by just how much power came out of him.

‘How… he’s been content to let us call him an idiot, when he can do that?’ Arthur questioned, Morgana shrugging. She reached out for Merlin, wanting to comfort him, began to stroke through his hair. He was a mess, blood and sweat and dirt.

‘They call him the child of the Gods.’ Morgana admitted, let her eyes flick golden and let her Magic rest against Merlin’s. Aithusa regarded her, as if trying to see if she was a threat, before lowering his head once more.

‘He’ll be okay?’ Gwen asked, shuffled across to sit on Merlin’s other side. Aithusa didn’t seem to find her a threat, let his tail rest on her.

‘Fine, he just doesn’t use that much Magic usually. I… I thought he’d lost control for a moment.’ Maybe he had. She’d seen the way he burst, energy pouring from his skin like it was flooding out. The group looked slightly scared, whereas Morgana just found herself in awe. She settled down, tucked her head to his chest and pulled a blanket up over them.

‘Don’t worry about taking watch. Aithusa will keep us safe.’

**

Merlin groaned, rose his head and sought out the vague sounds of someone talking to him. A waterskin was pressed to his lips, and he gulped hungrily, swallowing down the soothing liquid. Percival, he recognised, concentrated on sitting up.

‘Easy, Merl. That’s it.’ He let the big hands help him up, shuddered and reached out for comfort. They’d been gone, and he’d had to keep Morgana steady, had to act so strong. Now, he was content to curl up on Percival’s lap, the Knight hugging him tightly.

‘Where’s everyone else?’ He croaked, looking up.

‘Hunting. Figured we could do with some food.’ That made Merlin chuckle, and he slowly stretched out. Several bones clicked, and his head ached slightly. His Knight helped him up, held him steady as he got used to the feeling of the ache in his bones.

‘Alright?’

‘Just a little sore. How… are all of you alright? Are you injured?’ He immediately started to scan Percival for injuries, relaxed when he found nothing more than a little reddened skin.

‘I lost your neckerchief, I’m sorry, I couldn’t…’ Merlin cut him off with a quick kiss, cupped the man’s cheek and smiled up at him.

‘We’re safe. And anyway, I have more neckerchiefs.’ That made the Knight laugh, before he let Merlin walk around the clearing a little, gaining the confidence of being upright.

‘I’ve never seen Magic like that. So… powerful. How does it feel?’ He could understand the curiosity, turned to his Knight and remembered the feeling of finally accepting his Magic, of letting it have its way.

‘Like I was finally free. Home. Safe. I’ve never… it’s never felt that good.’ He was worried that he’d be judged, but he saw nothing more than love, than adoration on his face. An idea struck, and Merlin walked across, reached for Percival’s hand.

‘I can show you, if you want?’ The Knight nodded quickly, intrigued, and Merlin tilted Percival’s hand to the sky.

‘Repeat after me. Forbearnan. Shut your eyes and focus on the word.’ Percival looked ready to doubt him, but he let his eyes shut, let Merlin cradle his hand. The Knight took a deep breath, muttered the word, but nothing happened.

‘Merlin, I’m not strong like that…’

‘Nonsense. Trust me, again.’ And then Merlin reached for him, tugged Percival down to kiss him. The Knight gasped, kissed back, while Merlin made sure his hand remained upright. He let their foreheads rest against each other, lips ghosting over each other.

‘Again.’ Merlin whispered, before letting his eyes shut. Percival did the same, murmuring the spell like a promise. He felt the heat, let his eyes open to see the flame dancing on the man’s palm, saw Percival’s shock.

‘Oh… it feels…’

‘Alive? Like… fire in your veins.’ Merlin hoped he understood, and Percival nodded. He slowly closed his fingers, then unravelled, and the flame danced back to life.

Merlin laughed as the Knight scooped him up, grinned as he was kissed once more, this time with all the love and affection he’d been craving.

‘You’re incredible.’ Percival’s words made him blush, and but Merlin didn’t duck from the gaze.

‘So are you.’ He shot back, pecked his lips, watched the Knight’s smile grow.

‘I love you.’ Merlin’s heart soared, and he demanded yet another kiss.

‘I love you too. And thank you. For not… thinking differently of me.’ Percival lowered him gently, although they stayed close, pressed against each other in a way that Merlin loved.

‘Oh, that’s not true. I think I’d like to see more Magic like that. Your power… it’s beautiful.’ Never had his Magic been called such a thing, never when it mattered like it did now. Percival said nothing about the tears that formed, just held him close and kissed his forehead.

**

Morgana’s head snapped up, halting the group where they’d been dragging a deer back.

‘Merlin.’ She spotted him, walking through the trees with his hand in Percival’s, the brightest smile on his face. Picking up her tattered dress, she went running, laughed as Merlin caught her easily. The hug was brilliant, and she found herself thanking him over and over, for bringing Gwen back, for saving them.

‘Shh, it’s alright, everything’s okay now.’ Merlin promised, and before she could scold him for it, his Magic was reaching out. Her dress, previously ruined, stitched itself back together, the dirt vanishing. She rested her head to his, felt her Magic calm at the fact his had returned.

‘Thank you.’ One last time, Merlin chuckling and holding her close.

‘Love you, Gana.’

‘And you, Emrys.’ Morgana stepped back in time for Merlin to catch Gwen, the second person to throw herself at him. This was filled with a lot of sobbing, and then Gwen hitting Merlin’s shoulder.

‘Don’t you EVER scare me like that again!’ In her best Queen-voice, before she collapsed back into Merlin. She watched as his fingers crept to her neck, to the mark where the dart had hit, healing that, and then moving to her wrists where the skin was reddened.

‘Don’t waste your Magic.’ She mumbled into his neck, but Merlin just soothed her.

‘I’ve got plenty, don’t worry.’ Like Morgana had figured, he was getting stronger. A lot stronger.

Merlin stepped back from Gwen, looked across to his other five boyfriends, all of whom were waiting patiently.

Strangely, it was Elyan he went to first. Hugged him tightly, healed his wounds with a brief touch. Leon, who ruffled his hair and pressed kisses to his forehead. Lancelot’s touch was gentle, cradling him like Merlin was the most precious thing to ever walk the earth. Then Gwaine, which was funny to watch, a brief slap on the back and Gwaine’s teasing smile, a promise they would talk later.

Merlin looked unsure when he stood in front of Arthur, but the King didn’t hesitate. Pulled him in and buried his head into Merlin’s shoulder, like he could hide there forever. Even Morgana had to look away, it was far too emotional and private, a moment for just the two of them to share.

She looked back when Merlin squawked, Aithusa barelling him over until they both fell to the ground, Merlin’s laughter filling the air as the Dragon pounced.

‘Oh you did so well! So proud, little one.’ Merlin cooed, pressing kisses to his hatchling, who preened under the praise.

‘When were you going to tell me there was a Dragon?’ Arthur asked, staring down at the two of them, while Aithusa set to work on making fire puff from his mouth onto the ground around Merlin, who continued the steady stream of praise.

‘This is my Hatchling, Aithusa. Aithusa, this is your King.’ Morgana watched as the Dragon turned to look at Arthur, before very slowly bowing to him, then went back to attacking Merlin. Trained, to a certain point, she thought with a laugh.

Chapter Text

Merlin prepared dinner as he would usually, skinned and prepped the meat, before turning to an already lit fire. Considering the others had gone to the stream to bathe, he must have started the fire without even thinking. Power, that was what was beginning to scare him, his Magic thinking for itself. With the fire lit, he could prepare the dinner for them, before deciding he would go in search of herbs.

He’d been wandering around for quite some time, when he heard the branch behind him break.

‘Creeping up on me, Elyan?’ The Knight laughed, amused by the fact that Merlin had known it was him, walked across as the Warlock finished picking his herbs.

‘The others wanted to know if you’re joining.’ Elyan leant back against one of the trees, and Merlin took a moment to admire the sight. He’d never get used to how relaxed each of them could look, especially when out of their armour. Like now, Elyan was wearing a short-sleeved shirt, unbuttoned mostly, loose trousers and his boots.

‘Once I’ve got dinner started.’ He laughed when the Knight came across and wrapped arms around his waist, started littering his neck with kisses.

‘Distracting me?’ Merlin asked, even as he was leaning into the touch, tilting his head to the side to encourage more. His Magic was tucking away, content in the knowledge that Elyan was here, the Knight pressing his body against Merlin’s. After the fight, after Merlin feared he’d gone too far with his power, it was nice to feel so small again. To feel like he was the weaker one, even if that was a weird thing to crave.

‘Mm, or maybe you’re distracting me! Looking all tempting.’ The Knight teased, usually so refined and calm, now like a boy at Yule-time. Merlin laughed as he was dragged back, spun and pressed to one of the trees, smiled as Elyan continued to litter him with kisses.

‘I’m not the one half-undressed.’ Merlin shot back, let his fingers roam down the space where the shirt was open. Elyan’s laughter fuelled him, had Merlin kissing him properly, before freeing himself from Knight’s embrace and running.

He knew Elyan was chasing, ran between the trees and laughed as his Knight came running after him, tackling until they both went rolling through the grass.

‘Think I can tempt you some more?’ Merlin asked, slightly breathless as he rolled to his back and dragged Elyan with him, until he was pressed under the weight of him. Tucked against the ground, smiling up as Elyan peered down at him, confused in a way that made his frown appear, too cute.

‘Anything you do is tempting!’ Elyan remarked, which was permission enough for Merlin to let his thighs spread, to hook his ankles around the man on top and tilt his head for kisses.

They were soft, gentle, and Merlin was more than willing to follow Elyan’s lead. To let himself fall apart with such simple touches, with hands that lazily roamed over his skin and dipped under clothing, exploring like they had so many times before. The Warlock let himself melt, let Elyan loosen their clothing until they were pressed bare against each other.

‘We’re all safe, Merlin.’ Elyan whispered, and he realised that he was crying, tears rolling down his cheeks as his Knight soothed him. He clutched at him, dug his nails into his shoulder as they rocked against each other, as he felt his stomach tighten.

‘Elyan…’

‘Shh, just let go.’ He did, gasped and mouthed at the shoulder as Elyan worked him through the aftershocks, until he felt the man shudder on top of him. They fell silent, content to nuzzle and kiss, to let hands wander and lie in the grass, curled up against each other.

‘Thank you.’ He murmured, and Elyan just took his hand, laced their fingers together and looked to the sky.

‘We lost the herbs.’ Merlin burst out laughing, and it seemed to be contagious, because soon they were both clutching at their stomachs.

**

Morgana could tell that her brother was still unsure about Merlin’s Magic. That he was confused, lost, not sure why Merlin had kept that secret hidden. She wondered if Merlin would ever tell him that his Magic was only that strong now that they had admitted their feelings for each other. Men, she thought, always so blind to the obvious.

Returning to the fire, they found that the meat in the stew was cooking, but Merlin was nowhere to be found. Nor was Elyan, whom they’d sent to see if Merlin wanted to join them at the stream. From the happy feeling on Merlin’s end of the bond, she was sure he was okay.

They all sat around, lost without the Warlock, cheering up when he came walking into the clearing. Elyan was close by his side, the two both looking happy and flushed, no doubt things she didn’t need to think about had occurred. Merlin hummed as he went about adding things to the stew, while Morgana watched as flowers began to bloom.

To begin with, it was just a few of them, the ones scattered through the clearing. Then others began to break free from the earth, flowers of all colours that began to appear. It was amusing to see, because Merlin evidently had no idea what he was doing, and the others didn’t look inclined to tell him.

When he turned around, a bowl of stew in hand, he looked quite startled to find flowers everywhere.

‘Was that me?’ Morgana could only laugh, the poor Warlock looked so lost.

**

Merlin said goodbye to Aithusa just outside the Castle, and then watched as the councillors flocked to their King and Queen. Arthur was quick to assure them that they were all well, that nobody had been injured in the attack. They even went as far as to remind Lady Morgana of her outburst before, to which she blushed a dark shade of red.

Merlin, however, was more focused on going to see Gaius. He sat on the table, apple in hand, and explained what had happened. If his father-figure thought it was scary, him taking on three-hundred men and coming out with not even a scratch, he did not show it.

‘Maybe that’s because the prophecy has come true.’ Gaius had a point, with Magic legalised in Camelot, and Arthur finishing off uniting the land, he had become the King that he was destined to become. Where did that leave Merlin?

‘Do you think that means I’m done? That my destiny is over?’ The man looked across, shrugged. Useful, Merlin thought, biting into the apple and trying not to be annoyed at Gaius’s lack of answer.

‘You could always call for Kilgharrah. Or go and speak to Aglain. I’m sure they’d be able to tell you if the prophecy has shifted.’ He made a good point, as usual, and Merlin hopped down off the bench. He’d go and see Aglain, he decided, if Arthur would give him the day off tomorrow.

**

Morgana was just about to go and fetch Merlin, when the Druid asked to speak to her in private. She looked to Arthur, who was glaring at her with warning, before her gaze returned to Aglain.

‘Right this way.’ Once they were in her Chambers, she turned to face him, noted that the man looked slightly worried. She gestured for him to take a seat, which he did, before he began hesitantly.

‘I come with news. Visions. I was wondering if you’d seen anything?’ Morgana blinked, then relaxed, chuckled even.

‘It’s alright, we sorted it. Honestly, it was quite a lot simpler than we thought! Merlin was very good…’ She trailed off, upon seeing that Aglain was shaking his head.

‘Forgive me, my Lady. But we were not speaking of the Dark Tower. We talk of Emrys, we saw… he was in pain. A potion.’

‘Poison?’ She snapped, terrified.

‘No, my Lady. I believe something, someone, is coming. To gift Emrys with a choice.’ Morgana bit her lip, sat down quite quickly. Did she keep this to herself? It would worry Merlin, it would worry Arthur, and the last thing they needed was more issues.

**

Merlin went in search of her, found Morgana seated in front of her vanity, staring at the mirror with a look of quiet contemplation.

‘My Lady?’ She startled, looked around to him with something on her face, worry?

‘Merlin, you gave me quite the scare.’ Her tone had changed, to the one she used before they became friends. Hiding something, he concluded.

‘Arthur told me that a Druid stopped by. I presume it was Aglain?’ She looked back to the vanity, away from him.

‘To congratulate us, on the victory at the Dark Tower.’ Merlin knew it was not the whole truth, but he allowed her secrets for now, stepped forwards to place a hand on her shoulder. Not angry then, for she tilted into his touch, relaxed.

‘That was nice of him.’

Chapter Text

Merlin liked the bath. It was one of his favourite things in Camelot, especially when he wasn’t alone in it. Like now, Leon was spending the time to lather up his hair, running his fingers through it with so much care. It was amusing, Knights were usually so brash and rough, things he adored about them. But this was just as nice, to be touched so intimately, yet not sexually.

‘You smell like strawberries.’ Leon said with a chuckle, moving to wash the back of his neck. Merlin tilted into the touch, rather like a kitten, adoring the attention.

‘Edible?’ He cheeked, which earnt him a kiss to the nape of his neck. He had no idea where the other Knights were, nor cared too much about the fact. Right now, recovering from the episode at the Dark Tower, it was a good idea to relax.

‘You have such a mouth on you, Merlin. It would drive a saint to sin.’ He took that as a good thing, indeed Leon seemed to be amused by it, Merlin smacking his lips together to seek out kisses. Leon obliged, soft and brief, before continuing to wash.

‘I thought you liked my mouth?’ Leon’s laughter was worth it, carefree and bright, happy in a way he wanted to hear forever. That would be his duty, to keep each of his Knights in the highest spirits that he could.

‘You know I do.’ He moved, let Merlin sit on the bath and let his hands track down his legs, bringing one up to wash. Calloused fingers, yet they were so gentle, rubbing circles into his skin in a way that had him sinking back into the warm water.

‘Can I take you to bed, sweet Merlin?’ Oh, Leon definitely could, laughed and hooked his arms around his Knight’s neck.

‘With pleasure, Sir Leon.’

**

Gwen was tucked up against Morgana’s chest, now back to being female. She looked up to her lover, Morgana looked so unsure, had been distracted for the entire evening. Gwen had tried her best, soft kisses and promises of the family they were going to build together, the Pendragon family. Even now, with Morgana’s short hair replaced by the normal dark curls, the green eyes looked far away.

‘Talk to me, love.’ Morgana sighed, looked down to her and ran a hand along her spine, delicate yet confusing patterns.

‘I fear something may be coming for Merlin. And I am not strong enough to save him.’ Gwen felt her chest tighten, the panic of losing her best friend taking over. She had watched him tear apart that desert, the entire army squashed beneath him. If something was trying to hurt him, if somebody wanted him in pain, then they would have to go through her.

‘They will have to come through me.’ Gwen was fiercely protective over Merlin, as was Morgana. All of them were, they needed to protect him, for he so often forgot to look after himself.

‘And me.’ Morgana agreed, taking her hand and kissing her softly. Like the first time, and every time after, kisses that showed how much she loved her.

‘He’s our family.’ As he always would be.

**

Arthur finished his drink, looked around and realised that they were two people short.

‘Where’s Merlin and Leon?’ Percival was the one to blush, looking away, which drew everyone’s attention.

‘They’re in the room.’ Ah, Arthur could understand that, the need to spend time with Merlin after all that had happened. He wished to have some time with Merlin, but he would be fully willing to wait, he knew his men needed the same reassurance.

‘What do you think? About his Magic, I mean.’ They’d all watched Merlin glow with a power never seen before, watched him take down men with nothing more than a glance. It should terrify Arthur, yet seeing Merlin like that…

It was like it was natural. Who he was, deep down.

‘Hot.’ Gwaine answered, always the idiot, but nobody else denied such a thing. It was reassuring, to know they couldn’t really hurt him, that he always had the ability to break free from them if he wanted to.

Leon appeared, slinking into the room with messy hair and flushed cheeks, but looking pleased nonetheless.

‘You left Merlin alone?’ Lancelot asked, while Leon blushed even deeper.

‘Gaius arrived. Wanted to speak to Merlin…’ Arthur snorted with laughter, could barely contain it, thought of how terrified Merlin would have been when Gaius walked in. No doubt the eyebrow of doom had come into play, being raised at his not-quite son.

‘After the main event?’ Elyan asked sympathetically, while trying to hide his own amusement. Leon looked thoroughly miserable by this point, lowered his head to the table. Percival slid a drink across, which Leon downed pretty quickly.

‘As it happened.’ None of them could hold back on the laughter now, the very thought of it was hilarious. Arthur struggled not to clutch at his stomach, while Gwaine had completely fallen from his chair, the door opening once more.

Morgana looked very confused, dressed in just her nightgown, and Gwen came in behind.

‘We could hear you laughing from our Chambers.’ Arthur listened to Lancelot explain what had happened, Gwen bursting into the giggles, while Morgana looked amused.

‘Oh Sir Leon, it could have been worse! Once Gaius had the displeasure of walking in on us.’ She nodded to Gwen, who now looked embarrassed, while Arthur scrunched his nose up. The last thing he wanted to think about was his wife and sister in bed together.

‘After we’d finished, though.’ Gwen provided, Leon groaning and hiding his head once more.

‘I’m never going to be able to look Gaius in the eyes.’ Leon grumbled, whilst Arthur finally managed to contain his laughter.

‘Think about poor Merlin.’ Morgana chided, which sobered them all up.

‘This is going to be so good.’ Gwaine mumbled, while stealing one of the pastries that Arthur had requested from the kitchen.

**

Gaius had seen many things in all his years of service, things he never really wished to see again. Once Leon had run from the room, still shirtless and trousers unlaced, Gaius turned back to his son. Who was the colour of Arthur’s cape, swearing as he tugged clothes over his head, ignoring him entirely.

‘I would not have interrupted, had it not been… urgent.’ Okay, it was slightly amusing. He’d not really seen that much, just opened the door in time for Sir Leon to shout Merlin’s name. There was a whole lot of curses, of sheets being tugged up and desperate attempts to cover up, before the Knight went running.

‘What is it?’ Merlin asked, his shirt finally on and climbing out of the large bed. Just because Gaius knew this room existed, didn’t mean he needed to see it.

‘Something you need to come and see.’

Gaius led the way, aware that Merlin was walking barefoot, hurrying after him as they moved. Making it back to their home, Gaius opening the door and hearing Merlin gasp.

The girl on the bench looked up, her feet still in the bucket of water that tethered her here. Gaius knew his son had been close to Freya, long before she became the Lady of the Lake. Now, she rose up and hugged him, Merlin clutching her just as tightly.

‘Freya, what… how?’ She laughed, gestured to the bucket she was standing in.

‘I had to see you, Merlin. I just couldn’t… I had to.’ Her hand was on his cheek, the other around the back of his neck. Tender, gentle, and loving in a way that hurt Gaius to watch.

‘What is it?’ Merlin held her back in just the same way, an arm around her waist, the other resting on her shoulder. Closer than friends, yet nothing like lovers.

‘A chance to see the future. To see what has happened to Destiny.’ Merlin gasped, while Gaius took a step back.

‘To see if I succeeded.’ He whispered, and Freya nodded, tears in her eyes.

‘But it comes at a price.’

‘What is it?’ She looked so hesitant, brushed a thumb along his cheek and smiled up at him.

‘A potion. Of pain, the worst nightmares you could dream.’ The Physician knew how his son would answer, even before he spoke the words.

‘I’ll do it.’

‘It’s coming. Within a couple of days, your chance will come.’ Freya murmured, stood on tiptoes to rest her forehead to his. Gaius didn’t want to watch Merlin’s heart crack when she left, excused himself from the room and pretended not to hear Merlin cry when she vanished.

Chapter Text

Merlin stood by the King’s side, barely hiding his excitement as the man explained his offer. He had arrived in Camelot at dawn, with a vial of liquid that Merlin was eyeing up with the joy of knowing that he’d be able to see the future.

‘Absolutely not.’ Arthur snapped, Merlin staring up at his King in confusion. Morgana looked just as disapproving, even Gwen was shaking her head.

‘What? Of course I’m drinking it!’ Merlin hadn't even let the other option be a possibility, he was drinking that liquid regardless of what Arthur said. He needed to know if he’d avoided the future that he feared, if he could allow himself to be happy.

‘No you bloody aren’t! Merlin, this could quite easily be a trap.’ Unfortunately, the Knights didn’t look any more eager for Merlin to drink the liquid. Gaius was the only one in the room who seemed inclined to listen to him, and that was because he was more than aware of how much the destiny he’d been given kept bothering him.

‘It isn’t! Freya told me this was coming.’ If he thought that would help, it didn’t. Arthur’s frown deepened, and Merlin realised his mistake.

‘You went to see Freya without telling us?’ He’d kept his Magic secret for so long, had hidden things from them that now they wanted to know.

‘She came to me. Or, to Gaius, who came to me.’ No doubt all of them were aware that Gaius had walked in on them, but Arthur didn’t seem concerned at that bit.

‘Why would you want to drink it?’ Arthur’s temper was rising, Merlin saw the tell-tale signs, knew he needed to find a way to convince the King that this was a good idea.

‘Do you know how hard it is to predict Destiny? I’m being offered the chance to see the future, to see if we’ve done enough! I have to take that.’ Arthur fell silent, before turning back to the man, who looked amused at all of the arguing.

‘What does the potion do?’

‘It reveals the greatest fears of the person that drinks it.’ How bad could it be? What did Merlin fear? Not death, that was for sure. Maybe the Pyre?

‘You aren’t doing that alone.’ Arthur stated firmly, before Morgana interrupted.

‘Could we see? If we could watch what Merlin was exposed to, then we would be able to support him.’ Morgana was looking at the man, who grinned toothily at her request.

‘I could make that happen.’ All eyes were back on Merlin, who was unsure of this idea. It was one thing to have his mind cracked open, another for them to be able to see. He trusted all of them, of course, but…

‘That’s the only way I’m letting you drink that liquid.’ Arthur’s tone left no room for argument, and Merlin slumped. He was so used to doing everything alone, he didn’t know if he could have so many people inside his head, seeing what he feared. Especially when he didn’t know what the fears were.

‘How long will it last?’ Merlin inquired, nerves beginning to build. But he had to do this, had to make sure that Arthur was going to survive. That Camelot would thrive, and he could relax.

‘As long as it takes you to realise it isn’t real.’ Oh, it was one of those. Merlin remembered all the pain that he’d suffered, like the Serket Sting. Hallucinations were common with his job of protecting Arthur, he’d seen things more than once. If he couldn’t break through physical torture, it had often been concluded that mental torture was more effective. Morgause, in particular, had been a great believer of that.

‘So I see what I fear, and just have to figure out it isn’t real?’

‘Quite similar to what Morgause did to you, my Lord.’ The man agreed, lots of heads snapping in Merlin’s direction. He’d managed to keep that secret from everyone, Morgana included, and he didn’t appreciate it being revealed. The use of the title suggested the man was a creature of the Old Religion, otherwise he would hold no respect for him.

‘Fine. Are you all sure you want to see?’ He was rather hoping that some might say no, but they all stubbornly maintained their place, and Merlin sighed.

‘I shall remain awake, just to ensure nothing happens.’ At least Gaius understood that he needed some privacy, he smiled to his Uncle in thanks.

‘First thing tomorrow morning, then.’ Arthur commanded, no room for argument, and Merlin knew that this evening was going to be awkward.

**

He was right. Nobody else was eating, picking at the food that had been brought, while Merlin tucked in. It was chicken, very tasty, a lot better than the stew he’d be eating if he was with Gaius. He caught Morgana’s fond smile, Gwen’s worried gaze, and then finally looked to Arthur.

‘It’ll be fine.’ He offered, with a mouthful of the tastiest meal he’d ever had, and Arthur rolled his eyes in disgust.

‘Chew with your mouth shut.’ He was only teasing, and Merlin swallowed it down with some wine before looking around the table. Even Gwaine was silent, proof that they were terrified.

‘You’ll be right there, everything will be fine!’

‘How are you so calm about this? It’s torture, Merlin.’ Leon stated, looking very pale, and Merlin could sympathise.

‘You don’t have to be there.’ A lot of startled looks, people staring at him like he was mad.

‘We’re not worried about ourselves, you idiot.’ Arthur snapped, staring at him with a frown. Merlin took another mouthful of wine, before smiling to the group.

‘And I say it will be okay. This is hardly the worse…’ He halted, figured that wasn’t very reassuring, quickly backtracked,

‘You’ll be right there with me. I’ll be okay.’ He knew they didn’t believe him, could see that they were still disapproving of the idea. He couldn’t convince them otherwise, they’d just have to wait and see that he could manage this.

‘Why didn’t you tell us Freya had come?’ Morgana asked, and Merlin looked at his friend with annoyance. She was bringing it up in the hope of causing Arthur to change his mind, to not allow him to drink this potion.

‘Why didn’t you tell me that Aglain warned you of this?’ He shot back, before softening his expression when he saw the guilt crashed across her face.

‘Gana, I’m not mad. I get it, you were trying to look out for me, but this’ll be okay. What’s the worse thing it can show me?’ That was a very open-ended question, he realised, took another bite of his dinner.

‘What if you don’t realise it isn’t real?’

‘I will. If it’s a magical creature, we’ve hunted most of them. A threat to one of you? I’ve seen that hundreds of times. I know what to expect.’ Morgana nodded, finally took a bite of her food, and Arthur did the same. With the two eating, the others followed suit, while Merlin caught Gwen’s gaze.

‘Just come back to us, okay?’ She whispered, but her voice travelled.

‘I promise.’ Merlin swore, and that was the end of that.

**

‘Night.’ Merlin mumbled, from where he was squished between Percival and Elyan, quite fond of the affection they had showed. They were all sleeping in the bed tonight, despite the fact that nothing sexual was happening. Merlin liked it, liked being so close to them, and he knew they needed the reassurance that he was going to be okay.

‘Goodnight, Merlin.’ Arthur replied, from where he was still awake, sitting with Leon at the table, drinking some wine. Merlin was too tired to join, wanted to be well-rested for tomorrow.

After all, he needed to come back to them.

**

Each of them sat down, while the man chanted the spell that would tether them to Merlin’s mind. The Warlock checked the words, just to make sure that he was telling the truth, saw no issues with the words.

‘As soon as you realise it isn’t real, it’ll show you your Destiny.’ The man stated, while Merlin settled on the bed. It had been Gaius’s suggestion, that Merlin get tied down just in case something happened in the dream that had him moving.

‘Let’s get this over with.’ Merlin remarked, slightly nervous, even if he was trying to act strong. He’d hugged each of them earlier, promised them that he would be fine, that whatever he saw, it would be alright.

‘I should warn you, the potion does taste rather foul. It might burn a little.’ Merlin watched as the others grew angry, Morgana snapping that he should have mentioned that earlier.

‘It’s fine, Gana. It’s just a potion.’

‘Made with some Serket venom, my Lord.’ The man added, and Merlin halted, hand around the liquid. Oh, that wasn’t good, he really didn’t like Serkets.

‘Absolutely not!’ Arthur protested, standing and moving across, so Merlin uncorked the vial and downed it quickly. The betrayal was written on his face, and Merlin could only apologise.

‘I’m sorry, but I have to see the future. I can’t… I can’t have failed Destiny again.’ He then went to promise it was alright, that it didn’t burn, but his throat began to close up.

Goddess, it hurt. It burned so badly, his eyes watering as he felt his body drop to the bed, vaguely heard someone shouting his name. He was unaware of anything but the fire in his veins, the way his body was arching up as the venom flooded his system.

Then, thankfully, black.

Chapter Text

Merlin woke up, blinked up sleepily at the man he was asleep on. Arthur looked rather peaceful when he slept, light streaming in through the open curtains and making his golden hair shine. He let his hand roam up to the King’s shoulder, Arthur stirring and rubbing at his eyes, before looking down at him.

‘Morning, Sire.’ Merlin teased, while Arthur just groaned about how it was too early, rolled over and buried his head under the pillow. Merlin left the bed, dressed quickly and decided it was time to fetch breakfast for the both of them. Luckily, most the of the Castle was quiet, and it took very little time to reach the kitchens and fetch them both food.

By the time he returned, Arthur was awake, and Leon was also in the room.

‘Good morning.’ Merlin sing-songed, smiling up to his Knight, who looked back with a small smile.

‘Good morning, Merlin.’ There was something slightly wrong, he caught sight of the papers that Arthur was holding, then the way the King glanced up to him.

‘Would you mind giving us a moment, Merlin?’ It wasn’t an order, like a King to his manservant, so Merlin just presumed it was something about the Knights. He shrugged, put down the food and stole one of the pieces of bacon, watched as the King smiled at him.

He made his way down the corridor, humming a tune to himself, before running straight into Morgana. She was dressed in one of her blue gowns, hair done up above her head, and her face was stern.

‘Morning, my Lady.’ He grinned up at her, expecting the usual warmth in return. Instead, she just stared at him, a frown forming.

‘Excuse me Merlin, I’m in a hurry.’ He barely managed to get out of the way in time, the Lady storming off down the corridor and leaving him confused. He went to walk after her, to ask if he could help in any way, when Gwen appeared.

‘Oh, Gwen, thank the…’

‘That’s my Lady to you, Merlin.’ She snapped, eyes alight with anger, before taking off after her lover. Merlin halted, but smoothly bowed to the Queen as she passed, looking around to see if anyone else had just witnessed that complete mess. Finding nobody, he sighed, decided today wasn’t going to be a great one.

**

Gaius wasn’t in, so Merlin decided it was a good day to go and visit his Dragon. He made the walk through the woods by himself, arrived at the Hut where Aithusa stayed hidden, only to find the Dragon was absent. Strange, but not unheard of, and Merlin had enjoyed the walk so it wasn’t completely a waste of time.

The Lake was his next stop, a slightly longer walk, before he reached the edge.

‘Freya?’ Sometimes, he’d come to see her just because he could trust her judgement. Today, when she rose from the water, he almost immediately regretted summoning her. She looked… angry. Eyes burning with hatred, and he winced.

‘Have I done something?’ She laughed, but it was cold and empty, and Merlin tried to understand what had happened between today and yesterday, what he could have done that had hurt all of his friends so badly.

‘What haven’t you done, Emrys.’ Freya was gone in a heartbeat, and Merlin blinked.

‘Gwaine will know what’s going on.’ He mused aloud, turning back to Camelot.

**

Gwaine opened the door as he usually did, brightly smiling when he saw Merlin.

‘Merls!’ Ah, finally, someone that was alright! He stepped into the room, smelt the strong smell of alcohol filling the room. He shouldn’t be surprised, Gwaine did like to drink, but it was slightly upsetting that he would get that drunk.

‘Have you been drinking?’ Gwaine’s gaze narrowed, and Merlin regretted the question the moment it left his lips.

‘So what if I have?’ Merlin tried to backtrack, to just say that he’d been looking forwards to drinking with Gwaine, but the Knight was already turning his back.

‘I’ve got patrol, so if you don’t mind…’

‘Oh, of course. I’ll see you later?’ Merlin asked, but Gwaine was brushing past him and leaving the room. Right, so he’d definitely done something wrong, and he was still none the wiser about what it was. He looked around the room briefly, before deciding it couldn’t harm to clean it a little, maybe it would cheer Gwaine up?

A quick spell, nothing strenuous, just enough to open the curtains and make the bed, tidying the clothes that had spilled.

**

‘I’m sorry for this, Merlin.’ Leon whispered, and Merlin looked to his Knights.

‘I don’t understand…’

‘By order of the King, you’re arrested for the murder of the Druid Mordred, and sentenced to trial at first light.’ No, no this couldn’t be happening, what? Arthur was refusing to look at him, and Leon was staring apologetically, reached forwards to gently take hold of him.

Merlin didn’t know what was going on. He passed Morgana, who was glaring at him with her dangerous green eyes, walked towards Gwen and ignored him entirely.

The cells were a familiar sight, but it still hurt when he was placed in them by his own Knight. He went to reach for Leon, to ask for what on earth was going on, that he didn’t understand, but the Knight snapped.

He was aware that his cheek burnt, that he’d just been slapped, and he staggered away from Leon in shock.

‘Leon…?’

‘You’re a prisoner, Merlin. And honestly, why would you think yourself worthy of the attention of us now?’ It stung worse than the slap, Merlin opening his mouth to argue, before realising he had a point.

**

Gaius was the first to come and see him, and Merlin lunged up, smiled brightly until he noted that his Uncle wasn’t coming any closer.

‘Gaius?’ No, not Gaius as well!

‘I think it wise that you no longer train under my wing, Merlin.’ It felt like someone was taking a rather large knife and sticking it straight through his gut. He could tell he was tearing up, even as he looked up to his mentor and waited.

‘If you’re found innocent… I’d like you to move your things from my home, please.’ Gaius was kicking him out. Kicking him out, and Merlin was losing his Uncle.

‘Gaius, wait, I…’ But Gaius didn’t bother turning back to him, and Merlin was left alone in the cells to cry.

**

‘You’re a traitor to our kind.’ Morgana hissed, staring down at him like she couldn’t bear to be here. That he was the filth beneath her shoe, the part of society that she never had to look at, let alone talk to.

‘I… we were protecting Arthur…’ He whispered, staring up to his friend, and she snarled.

‘You thought yourself above everyone else, little Emrys, King of the Druids? Here’s a tip, Merlin, stay away from my brother, or I’ll kill you myself.’ She straightened, turned her back on him, and Merlin couldn’t help it. He reached for her, watched her whip around with a burning fury, golden eyes that he knew all too well.

‘Gana, please! What happened to us two? We… I still love you.’ Usually, that softened even her harshest moments, she’d curl up with him and tuck him in like a babe. Now, she laughed, cold and angry. Her Magic crashed down over him in a wave, until he was gasping for breath, staring up at her pleadingly.

‘I wish you dead, Merlin.’

**

‘Did you do it?’ Arthur didn’t bother to look at him, stared out of the window and looked across Camelot, rather than to where Merlin was kneeling on the floor.

‘I did, but you have to understand, he was supposed…’

‘Silence! He didn’t ask for your explanation.’ Leon hissed, and Merlin fell silent. Arthur’s shoulders slumped, and Merlin’s gut twisted tighter.

‘Banishment.’ He’d been expecting it, but it still burnt. It ached, his limbs fighting Leon’s hold to try and reach his King, to try and make Arthur understand, to beg for a second chance.

Then Arthur was turning, and Merlin fell still.

‘You say you did this for me, yet I want nothing to do with it. You’re weren’t anything more than my manservant, Merlin.’ That was a lie, Merlin had been in his bed yesterday morning, had seen the sleepy smiles and the soft side of Arthur that he barely showed anyone. He went to point that out, but Arthur just shook his head.

‘Not even a very good bedwarmer.’ He recoiled, watched a grim satisfaction creep over Arthur’s face, and he turned to Leon.

‘Leon…’

‘Don’t even try it.’ The Knight hissed, and Merlin looked to the others. Elyan, who was stubbornly standing between him and Gwen. He reached out, but the Knight just took a step back, and Merlin looked to Percival.

The once-friendly Knight now had his hand resting on his sword, like he’d use it if Merlin did not obey. He looked across to Lancelot, and found his lover’s usually sympathetic gaze gone.

‘Lance, please.’

‘Sir Lancelot.’ Leon corrected him, and Merlin waited for Lance to deny it, but he didn’t. He did nothing to stop Leon dragging him, and Merlin only had one Knight left.

‘Gwaine?’ Finally, the Knight came walking towards him, and Merlin felt his heart speed up. Yes, someone that would help him, that wouldn’t leave. He could have cried with relief, a timid smile spreading, until Gwaine halted.

His hand came forwards, reached out and snatched the chain from around his neck, yanked until it broke. Merlin gasped, stared up at his Knight in confusion.

‘You never deserved this.’

Merlin couldn’t help it, his body was screaming, as was his Magic. It burnt so badly, bad enough that his legs gave out from beneath him and he was slumping to the floor of the throne room, heart cracking apart.

‘Stand up, or we run you through.’ Elyan’s voice couldn’t break his anguish, couldn’t stop the way he could no longer breathe. His chest hurt, ached so fiercely that he couldn’t do anything but clutch at it, trying to understand what went wrong.

**

Merlin knew it was his fault, that it was raining terribly. The Knights had kicked him free of their grip, and Merlin went rolling down the mud-bank and hitting the stream at the bottom. He sat up, watched as the horses rode back towards Camelot, leaving him alone. Alone, with nobody left that cared for him, and Merlin was lost.

Without Camelot, he didn’t have anything. Without his friends, he had nobody. He dragged his feet until they supported him, forced himself to stand up, wobbled under the pressure of the rain.

They didn’t want him. Nobody wanted him.

Wandering around aimlessly, he let the storm continue, until he caught sight of somebody. A brief flash of a sword, the rustling sound that carried even through the lashing of the rain, and Merlin realised he had been dropped in bandit territory.

‘What have we here?’ A man appeared, a sword pointed at Merlin, and the Warlock no longer had the energy to defend himself.

What was the point, anyway? He dropped to his knees, watched as the sword came moving in his direction.

He thought back to everything that had gone wrong, his mind helpfully bringing up the scene with Freya. He remembered the way she had glared at him, the anger shown on her face, then paused. One thing he’d always loved about her, the fact that she treated him as Merlin, not as Emrys, despite being a druid. Yet, when he had gone to see her yesterday, she had called him by his druidic name, not his real name.

The sword was getting closer, like it was happening in slow-motion, and Merlin felt his mind screaming at him to understand, to piece together the puzzle.

‘She called me Emrys.’ He whispered, and watched as the scene around him halted.

‘She called me Emrys, not Merlin.’ The rain had frozen, drops hanging in the air as Merlin slowly rose to his feet, looked around the clearing.

‘This isn’t real. Freya would never call me Emrys!’ He laughed, mostly out of joy, because the memories were coming back now, the ache in his bones not from the pain of losing his lovers, but from the poison he’d drunk.

‘THIS ISN’T REAL!’ He screamed, dropping back to his knees and laughing, felt the darkness slowly creep up on him.

Chapter Text

Waking up was worse that he expected, his entire body ached with the remains of the poison and the vision, flashes of memory that he had to convince himself weren’t actually real. His hearing came back first, to Arthur shouting at the man that had handed him the vial, and Morgana calling his name. His Druidic name, odd, but Merlin could cope.

It came back in pieces, the fact he had been tied down to the bed, but his Magic seemed to have burnt through the restraints that were holding him down, and now he was free to sit up. Nausea hit, Gaius’s gentle hands on his shoulder and back, trying to convince him to breathe deeply. He was more focused on the man staring at him, waiting, and Merlin shoved everything aside to focus on the present.

‘Show me. Show me our destiny.’ His voice sounded awful, and he figured he must have been screaming at some point, because his throat felt like it had been scratched. Arthur was saying something, moving towards Merlin in a way that was probably comfort, but after everything his mind had just shown him, he wasn’t quite ready to be touched.

His Magic acted before he could speak, pushing the King back into the chair he had been sitting on, and keeping the others in place.

‘Show me!’ He snarled, daring the creature of Magic to disobey him, only getting a smirk in response.

‘Yes, my King.’ He was a Druid then, but a slightly weird one, approached Merlin and placed a hand to his head. Merlin barely had time to register the fact that there was a blinding light, Morgana shrieking and even Gaius advising him against it, before his vision blurred again.

**

‘Like this.’ Morgana whispered, shifting her hold on the child so that the orb sat between them. The girl on her lap giggled happily, reaching for the bright light with golden in her eyes, before looking across to him.

‘Mer, d’you think it’s pretty?’ When he answered, his voice was higher than he was used to, before he stood, turning to look out of the window.

Arthur was in the Courtyard, dismounting his horse with his Knights in quick pursuit.

‘Go.’ Morgana advised, and he fled.

Stone steps, taken two at a time, before Arthur caught him.

‘Gods, I missed you.’ Whispered words, before Merlin was bombarded by the Knights of Camelot, each with words and kisses.

‘Look at you.’ Gwaine marvelled, while Merlin let his hands wander to the skin of his stomach, cradling.

‘My very attractive wife.’ He purred, in that damned sinful voice, snatching Merlin’s hand up and the kissing the ring that sat on it.

‘Leave some for the rest of us.’ Elyan joked, while the King just looked amused.

‘Wife? Or husband?’ He teased, while Merlin just laughed.

‘Both.’ Gwaine’s arm wrapped around his waist, just in time for Guinevere to appear, looking rather flustered with her dress taut around her swollen belly.

‘You’re back.’ A kiss on the cheek from Arthur, while the Knights hugged her.

‘How’s the baby?’ Arthur asked, and Gwen sighed.

‘I thought the first one was difficult. This Pendragon is bound to be a boy.’ That was what they wanted to hear, an Heir for the household, not just a playmate.

‘We’ll all be here to help.’ Arthur assured, squeezing her hand, before turning back to him.

**

‘This isn’t what I was expecting.’ Morgana whispered, clutching his hand. Merlin looked to the fallen Castle, then back to the woman he was holding, noted the tears on her face but the grim determination that shone through.

‘If I can make you immortal, then we can bring them back.’ He swore, even if his voice wobbled and his heart ached at the thought of losing all those that he loved, of never being reunited with them again.

‘I’m just glad I have you.’ She muttered, turning to press a kiss to his cheek. As her head rested on his shoulder, he wrapped fingers into her hair, the two of them looking back to the rubble.

‘We have each other.’ He chided gently, ignoring the ache in his chest.

**

Gwaine knew he shouldn’t be hurt. He shouldn’t feel angry that the thing that tipped Merlin off, the thing that convinced him it wasn’t real, was Freya rather than them. That he genuinely thought they would do such a thing to him, send him away without a second glance. That he’d rip the chain from around his neck.

Arthur and Leon were gone, dragging the old man from the room, while Gwaine waited for Merlin to wake. Morgana had decided that her and Gwen could wait, that they could speak to him later, and had decided to give them space. Gaius, muttering something about how he was too old for this, told them to let Merlin know he’d be waiting for an explanation later.

When Merlin woke for a second time, Gwaine wanted to ask what he had seen. But he didn’t dare, afraid his anger would spill out, instead waited for the Warlock to blink, looking around.

‘I’m sorry.’ Two words, and just like that, every bit of fury was gone. Instead, it was replaced with love, the burning kind that had him rushing over to Merlin, scooping the Warlock up as he burst into tears. The other Knights came across, and Merlin quickly latched onto Percival’s neck, soothing words whispered from all of them.

‘Merlin, we’d never leave you.’ Elyan whispered, a hand on the Warlock’s shoulder.

‘Or hurt you.’ Lancelot added, a sniffle coming from where Merlin was hiding his face.

‘Or treat you like anything less than the centre of our world.’ Percival muttered into his hair, rocking Merlin as the crying ceased, and he uncurled slightly.

‘I know. I saw it, the future. It’s… happy. Peaceful.’ Gwaine could breathe out a sigh of relief, caught something that flashed in Merlin’s eye, but it was gone in an instant.

When Arthur and Leon arrived, Merlin went across to apologise to them, hugging them just as fiercely. Gwaine had been slightly worried that the Princess would snap, that he’d say something that would hurt Merlin, but luckily he seemed to be containing it. Kissed Merlin sweetly, and promised that they’d reassure him for however long it took for the message to sink in.

Gwaine knew the anger would come out, probably on the training field tomorrow morning. He knew it wasn’t Merlin’s fault, the poor Warlock just had a habit of not believing he was ever worth the attention they gave.

‘I should… I probably need to speak to Gwen and Morgana.’ He said, sounding unsure, and Arthur nodded.

‘Go on. We’ll wait here for you.’

**

Gwen sobbed a lot, and Morgana whacked Merlin over the head before they all curled up on the bed, Merlin assuring them that he knew they would never do such a thing. Gwen eventually stopped crying, settled with her head on Merlin’s chest and fell asleep, while he concentrated on braiding Morgana’s hair.

‘What else did you see?’ She asked, knowing he had not told the whole truth. He hesitated, let his fingers move through her thick hair, summoning yet another daisy to settle in it. He loved doing this, the bonding time between them.

‘The end. After all this is gone.’ She already knew he was immortal, something that she swore to keep a secret. Now, she turned to him, Merlin carefully holding the end of the braid.

‘Just you?’

‘Us.’ He admitted, pained, and she didn’t look shocked at all. In fact, she smiled, settled back against his side.

‘A Witch and a Warlock against the world.’ Even if it was a joke, it still hurt slightly, but he smiled regardless.

Keeping to himself the little bit of information about the children was just so that Morgana and Gwen could have the pleasure of the surprise, he thought, looking to the sleeping Queen. Two Pendragon babies, and they hadn't looked that much older than they were now.

A bright future, even if it wouldn’t last forever.

Chapter Text

Strangely, it was not Gwaine’s suggestion that led to this moment. It had been Arthur that sat them down, discussed the fact that Merlin evidently was worried that they their affections were not long-term, that he had yet to see how much they adored him. So, a plan was set in motion. Each of them had a part to play, each had a role that they needed to get sorted before the night.

Arthur took off with Leon by his side, ready to face the Council of Camelot. Lancelot and Elyan went to bribe the cook to prepare them a picnic to take down to the riverbank, with Percival going to set up the location for them. That left Gwaine, who had been considering a nice nap, yet instead had to go and face the terrifying prospect of speaking to Gaius.

**

Arthur waited for his Council to argue, to declare that what he was asking for wasn’t possible. Strangely, that didn’t happen. Instead, they rushed to his command, papers being pulled out of old books and Geoffrey offering the entire library for his use. Leon came backwards and forwards with books on the old laws of the land, standing by his side as an unmovable force. Together, they made quite the team, they only had till this evening to change something that might take some power to pass.

When Morgana appeared, her eyes scanned over the documents, before a brilliant smile took over her face. She informed him that she’d keep Merlin out of the way today, that he was helping Gwen with something anyway, and so shouldn’t come in this direction. That he had time to legalise everything, to put the biggest piece of their plan into action.

‘Could you help Gwaine with his second task?’ Arthur asked, not trusting the Knight not to do something stupid. No, that was unfair, Gwaine took his affections for Merlin very seriously. It was why the plan had been spoken about in the first place.

‘I’d love to. A little Magic goes a long way.’ She remarked, eyes flashing golden for a moment. Arthur noted how his councillors paused, looked up to her in a mixture of fear and awe. When they’d heard the tale of how Arthur had been recovered, some parts had been left out. Like how Merlin had wrecked the entire desert with nothing more than his mind. It was unsafe, the attention on him, but Morgana had been suspected of being the stronger.

If only they knew, he mused.

**

‘It’s for Merlin.’ Lancelot admitted, and Martha, the cook, beamed.

‘Oh, well why didn’t you say! The boy could do with feeding up.’ She began to potter around, the two Knights staring at each other, then back to the woman. She was usually a force to contend with, but now seemed quite friendly, beginning to give orders to the other staff.

‘Is it a special occasion?’ The Cook asked, evidently plying for information, while trying to act nonchalant. Lancelot hesitated on the answer, looked to Elyan for help, but he looked just as lost.

‘No need to look so worried, Sirs. We all know how Merlin cares for you.’ Lancelot blushed, tried to stammer out some vague excuse, while Elyan just laughed.

Anyway, at least they had the food aspect sorted. Lancelot wondered how Percival was getting on, down by the river. He’d probably almost finished by now, and they could go and meet up with him.

**

Percival looked around, pleased with his hard work. The river bank was usually a peaceful spot, and he hadn't wanted to break that feeling. Blankets and furs spread out, plates and cups for them to use, and the wine that had been taken from the Castle tucked into the hollowed-out tree by the edge of the embankment. It looked rather quaint, he thought, looking up as he heard hooves approaching.

Morgana grinned, dismounting in one smooth movement.

‘Gwaine’s on track, Arthur’s got the council listening to him, and the food is on route.’ It was all falling into place, perfectly organised, the group a cohesive unit when it came to Merlin. The Knight watched as Morgana looked around the space, before a mischievous grin lit up her face.

‘Adding a little spark,’ She waved her hand, Percival watching as vines began to track down from the branches of the trees, tiny lights forming on them, ‘Always goes a long way.’

It would look gorgeous, when the sun set and it was just these little lights keeping them awake. Percival looked to the hearth he had set up, the stone ring and the wood piled in the middle, before Morgana spoke up again.

‘Light it. I’ll keep the flame burning, but keeping the wood untouched.’ A fire they never had to feed, that sounded like a good idea. He reached for the flint, but she shook her head.

‘With Magic. He’ll be able to recognise it.’ Percival halted, stared up at the High Priestess with slight confusion. He thought back to the moment in the woods, when the flame had appeared on his palm, the feeling of warmth that had taken over.

‘How?’ He asked. For all his strength, Magic had always been something that he’d longed to explore. Meeting Merlin, seeing how he used his gift, it was incredible. To think that he might be able to share in that feeling, the warmth that rushed through when Magic was used, he wanted it.

‘Close your eyes. Remember what Merlin taught.’ Ah, so he had told her. Percival didn’t mind, they were a close group anyway, very little remained unshared between them.

Squeezing his eyes shut, he thought back to the moment in the woods. Merlin kissing him, the fire that he could feel licking at his skin. The word popped up in his mind unbidden, and he murmured it with the same conviction that he saw Merlin doing so many times.

When he opened his eyes, the fire was slowly starting. A small flame to begin, before it licked along the edges of the wood, creeping up until it was a roaring fire.

‘Impressive.’ Morgana admired the work, before she was turning back to her horse.

‘I should probably make sure Gwaine isn’t panicking.’

**

Gwaine was not panicking. Okay, maybe a little, but it was completely natural. After all, he’d been sitting with Gaius before this, the Physician doing the terrifying thing where he raised one eyebrow, as if daring Gwaine to say something wrong. Then came the awkward stammering of trying to explain the plan, to which Gaius just looked amused.

His second stop had been to the market, spending the Crown’s gold as well as a little of his own, despite the fact that Arthur said he’d pay for all of it. It felt wrong, if it was just the King’s gold, and Gwaine wanted to add a perfect touch to this evening.

The idea came to him when he had completed his task, and he headed to the Castle, successfully finding the man he was looking for.

‘Elyan!’ Lancelot muttered something about being left out, and Gwaine sent his friend a dazzling smile, before turning back to the other Knight.

‘You’ve got that look on your face.’ Elyan slowly remarked, and Gwaine shot his best pleading look.

‘I need a hand. Or two.’

**

‘Is everything done?’ Arthur asked, hushed whispers amongst the group. Each one of them confirmed that they had done their duties, that the only thing left was to collect Merlin. Morgana had assured them that they were spending the day together, that Merlin would be with them soon.

‘Can we see it?’ Leon whispered, and Gwaine reached into his pocket. Wrapped in silk, which looked to be Gwen’s, before the fabric was moved and they caught their first sight of it.

‘Oh my…’

‘Stunning.’

‘Beautiful.’

‘With a little extra.’ Elyan remarked, while Gwaine flicked it over. Arthur was impressed, maybe Gwaine was the right one for this mission.

‘After, or before the…’

‘Before. But after the food.’ Arthur rolled his eyes at that, of course Gwaine would think with his stomach.

‘Gwen should be bringing Merlin across in a minute.’ Good, all they had left to do was wait.

Chapter Text

Merlin had absolutely no idea what was going on. In fact, he was so confused that he even considered using his Magic to find out, before reminding himself that it couldn’t be anything bad. That he had to trust them, like they trusted him. So, he let Gwen pamper him, didn’t complain when he saw Morgana rushing around looking like she was on a mission. He even stayed quiet when the Lady flounced over to the bed, flopping onto it dramatically and rolling her eyes.

‘I hate their stupid gay arses.’ She mumbled, looking thoroughly exhausted, and Gwen giggled. Merlin wanted to point out that they were his boyfriends, but he wanted to make it out of the room alive, and so mocking Morgana was never wise.

‘You’re needed down in the Courtyard.’ She added, looking across at Merlin with those all-knowing eyes, and the Warlock fought the urge to run there. Instead, he rose slowly, trying to look like he was perfectly okay with the fact that he’d been hidden from them the entire day.

What was waiting for him in the Courtyard was the horses, along with his Knights. They all looked slightly nervous, and that was worrying, but Merlin just smiled brightly.

‘Midnight ride?’ He questioned, glancing to the setting sun. A couple of them chuckled, but it was Lancelot that came across with a ribbon in hand, wrapping it around his eyes with a quick smile.

‘Something like that. Who d’you want to ride with?’ That was a trick question, because he wanted to ride with all of them, but he settled for having to pick one.

‘Leon. His horse is the friendliest.’ He teased, unable to see anything, but a hand guiding him across. Merlin reached up, Leon gripping his arm and pulling him up with the ease of a well-muscled Knight. Settling in front, he smiled slightly when an arm wrapped around him, leant back into the familiar chest.

It was a short ride, and although he was blindfolded, his Magic told him where they were. Out of the gates, down in the direction of the stream. As they got closer, he felt Morgana’s Magic wrapped around the perimeter, a complex spell intended to keep others out. So, they were probably planning on spending the night here, if they’d gone to such efforts to keep it safe.

‘I can hear you thinking.’ Arthur shot out, from somewhere in front. Merlin rolled his eyes, not that they could see, so stuck his tongue out as well.

When the horses stopped, Leon dismounted first, ever the gentleman. Merlin hopped down after him, let his senses guide him across to the other Knights.

‘Am I going to be blindfolded for the entire night?’ He joked, was rewarded with fingers untying the knot at the back of his head. The ribbon was taken away, and Merlin was surprised to have to blink back light.

Then he gasped. Tiny blue lights hung from vines, surrounding both sides of the river. They were like tiny stars, he thought, reaching out to touch the nearest one. A fire roared in the centre, and as he moved closer to it, he recognised the Magic behind it.

‘How… it’s beautiful. I’m jealous.’ He looked to Percival, who was blushing by this point, and the others looked slightly confused. Leaving the Knight to explain it was his Magic that had lit the fire, Merlin admired the soft rugs, the furs that stretched out. He wanted nothing more than to dive into them, to settle down and watch the fire, but his attention was drawn to the food.

His favourites, pastries that he knew the Cook would have spent time making, strawberries and grapes and a selection of other foods that could be picked at. Wine, no doubt from Arthur’s supply, so much to stare at.

‘I’m taking your silence as a good thing.’ Leon remarked, and Merlin blushed. Nodded, tried to explain how thankful he was, but the Knight just bent down to peck his lips.

‘C’mon, Gwaine’s been eyeing the wine for a while.’

**

Fuck. Gwaine was terrified, and he knew the other Knights had picked up on it. He drained yet another goblet of wine, ignored Arthur’s stare, focused on where Merlin was sitting with Percival, talking about Magic while letting the Knight feed him. His heart was racing, he’d never felt so… exposed. So terrified that he was about to mess everything up.

Why did they think he’d be good at this? He was so evidently not good at talking about feelings, much less in front of all of them. Gwaine was considering running all the way back to Camelot, when Merlin’s gaze turned to him, looking rather adorable as he cocked his head.

‘What’s up?’ Deep breath, casual smirk, he could do this.

‘Just glad to see you happy.’ Merlin looked amused, came shuffling across in his direction, and Gwaine was surprised to find his nerves calming. The Warlock chuckled, snatched his wine and drank some, before Gwaine caught sight of Arthur looking to the others.

It was time.

‘Merlin, we wanted to do this for you,’ Arthur began, expression soft in a way that they saw more and more often when the Warlock was involved,

‘Not just because of what’s happened in the past couple of days,’ Leon added, a reminder to Merlin that they had always felt this way,

‘But because we care for you.’ Elyan finished gently, Gwaine watching as Merlin’s eyes sparkled with tears, lips twitching into a smile.

‘We always will,’ Percival’s turn for sappiness, although it suited the giant Knight more than the rest,

‘And we’ll spend the rest of our lives proving it.’ Lancelot was the last to speak. They hadn't actually rehearsed this bit, Percival had argued it would look better if it came straight from their hearts, rather than a script that had been worked on.

‘I suppose that means it’s my turn.’ Gwaine joked, reached for Merlin’s hand carefully. The Warlock looked so confused, and Gwaine fought down the nausea to smile.

‘Merls, you know how much you mean to all of us. And we thought it was time that Camelot knew our affections, that you got the chance to know how serious we are.’ Another deep breath, swallow down the fear, Gwaine keeping his hope down as he reached into his pocket.

The fabric was unfolded, and Gwaine picked up the ring that the six of them had chosen. Merlin looked rather pale, eyes going comically wide as he stared at the band of metal.

‘Will you do me the honour of becoming my husband?’ He’d been imagining saying those words in so many ways, in so many different situations. Now, as Merlin looked up at him in confusion, slowly nodding like he’d lost all other thoughts, Gwaine realised it was perfect.

Slowly reached out, knowing the ring would fit perfectly. Not only was it of gold, with the Pendragon Emblem carefully etched into it, but Gwaine had added a little extra. Well, he’d had Elyan’s help for that part, what with them living in a blacksmiths and all. Learning Merlin’s old language, or at least finding the word for it, had been helped by Morgana. It was the language of their spells, of the Magic he didn’t quite understand, but wanted to make the effort.

Hūsbōndi.’ Merlin whispered, traced the word as the ring slipped onto his finger, and Gwaine waited for judgement.

He wasn’t expecting a lapful of sobbing Warlock, babbling happily as Gwaine just clutched at him, smiled when Merlin’s lips hit his. The nerves were gone, replaced with an utterly overwhelming love, one that he tried to show in the kisses. Merlin sat back, admired the ring with what had to be the biggest grin he’d ever seen.

‘We’ve legalised it all, so that it can be official in the eyes of Camelot.’ Arthur added, and Merlin bounded over to him next, each of them laughing and smiling at seeing Merlin so happy. Gwaine was the first to look up at the sky, to find that the stars were burning particularly bright tonight, that the clouds had vanished completely.

Then he noticed the animals, creatures that had come to stare, rabbits peeking out of burrows and birds flocking in the trees.

‘Uh, Merlin?’ He called, the Warlock looking across from where he was perched on Lancelot’s lap.

‘Yeah?’

‘Your Magic’s summoning half the creatures of Camelot.’ The others looked around, Merlin looking slightly startled, a deep blush forming on his face.

‘Voyeurs.’ Gwaine muttered, which earnt him a dirty scowl from the King, but Merlin just chuckled. Then the look of mischief came back, his lips quirking up.

‘How about we give them something to watch?’ Oh yes, Gwaine thought, they’d all be quite happy with having Merlin for the rest of their lives.

Chapter Text

Gwaine knew he had to be patient. After all, he was the one that got the honour of Merlin’s hand in marriage, he was the one that would spend a lifetime tied to the person that held his heart. He let the others strip Merlin down, shower him in all the affection and praise he could ever need. Watched as they kissed him, as they opened him up and fucked him, a tangle of limbs and sweaty bodies, rutting into the grass with Merlin’s fingers gripping into the dirt, taking and giving back in equal measures.

He waited, because he knew his time would come. That once Merlin had climbed from Arthur’s lap, the last of the Knights to slide into Merlin, the Warlock would turn to him. And he did, cheeks flushed and thighs sticky, curiously looking up at Gwaine and waiting to see how the Knight would react. All Gwaine could focus on, however, was the necklace around Merlin’s neck, the ring that now sat on his finger. Marks that made Merlin his, proof that he’d never be alone again. That his new family wanted him.

Merlin crawled across, a hand hooking around the back of his neck and pulling Gwaine to his lips, the kiss sweet and gentle, so different from moments earlier. The Knight let Merlin take lead, let himself be pushed back into the furs, watched as nimble fingers stripped him of the remaining clothing. Hands explored down his chest, lips pressing kisses to his neck, and Gwaine relaxed into the touch. He’d come to Camelot expecting a few bar brawls and some drunken adventures, had somehow found not just a life, but people to share it with.

‘Merlin…’ He wasn’t quite sure why his tone was so heavy, why it sounded like he was close to tears. The Warlock just smiled, kissed him sweetly and straddled his hips, sunk down in one smooth movement. Gwaine shuddered, felt Merlin’s lips quirk against his, let his lover set the pace. Gentle movements, rocking carefully back against him, Merlin sitting up and keeping his hands pressed to Gwaine’s stomach.

He looked perfect, Gwaine thought. Cheeks flushed, his raven hair messy, eyes a mixture of the deep blue and the magical golden, fighting for control as Merlin moved against him. Endless pale skin, thin yet lithe in a way that showed as he kept Gwaine pinned, head tipping back to moan. His neck was marked up from the others, bites and bruises that Gwaine traced with a finger. It was arousing, to see everyone’s claim on Merlin. To know that they could share, and Merlin did not hold a favourite, let them do as they pleased.

‘Ohhh.’ Merlin sighed, lips falling apart and eyes fluttering shut, swivelling his hips and presumably aiming for the spot that had him shivering. It was beautiful, really, a picture that Gwaine never wanted to forget. He moved his hips carefully, making sure to keep Merlin’s pace, to let the Warlock take what he wanted.

A hand left his stomach, sought out his own and entwined their fingers, and Gwaine smiled when he felt the cold band of metal around his finger. He kept the grip, let his other hand move to the small of Merlin’s back, helping him build up speed as Merlin chased his own high.

‘Gwaine, don’t wanna, no…’ The pout made Gwaine chuckle, Merlin always did look cute when he tried to protest, not wanting to take his own pleasure and leave Gwaine behind. Luckily, watching the Warlock reach his own high would be enough, and the Knight encouraged Merlin to continue.

‘Right with you, love.’ He promised, Merlin falling silent once more apart from the heavy breathing, the gasps that began to build as he arched his hips, Gwaine focusing on watching every little detail. He let his thumb brush over the ring, heard Merlin’s breathing hitch, and that was it.

His name was breathed out, each of the tiny lights that hung down bursting into colour, Merlin’s eyes the brightest shade of sunlight. The rocking didn’t stop, and Gwaine spilled into him with ease, trying not to make a single sound, just wanting to remember the look of joy on Merlin’s face when he sunk down.

‘You’re growing soft.’ Merlin teased carefully, propping himself up and kissing Gwaine’s lips, the Knight wondering when that had happened. When had he changed, because he knew he had, he could see it in the way he was holding Merlin.

‘Only for you.’ He assured, watched as his Warlock reached for the cape, tucked it over the both of them.

‘Can I stay here to sleep?’ Normally, Gwaine was not the one that got to sleep by Merlin’s side when they were in the group. He never took such a liberty, allowed the others to have this moment. But now, Gwaine wrapped an arm around his husband-to-be, dared anyone to tell him he wasn’t allowed to have Merlin for the night.

‘Of course.’ Merlin made a pleased sound, before he snuggled up, kicked Gwaine’s legs apart to settle between them. At some point, his Magic had cleared the sticky mess between them, and the Knight was surprised to find that bothered him. That he wanted Merlin to remain like that, sticky and sweaty, evidence of the love they both shared. It didn’t matter, he could have it any time, would ask Merlin on the next night they stayed together.

‘Lance, c’mere.’ Merlin mumbled into Gwaine’s chest, Lancelot obeying and coming to Gwaine’s side. He was probably one of the only Knights that Gwaine didn’t mind sleeping next to, didn’t object to being this close to. Merlin knew that, the sneaky bugger, reached out lazily to grab at the other Knight. Lancelot looked slightly unsure, staring at Gwaine like he’d never seen him before, like he was worried he was overstepping.

Gwaine had no greater claim to Merlin’s heart, no matter what the ring around his finger stated. If that was why they were all watching him, Gwaine needed to prove he was not jealous. That the opposite was true, the thought of Merlin with them, all of them, did more things to him that just the two of them.

He reached out, huffing something about prudish Knights, using his spare arm to wrap around the other Knight and tug him into the mess. Lancelot looked strangely pleased, curled up to his side and around Merlin, and Gwaine extended the blankets to cover the three of them.

**

Gwen squealed, latched herself around Merlin’s neck while Morgana stood by her side, a bright smile on her face.

‘It’s beautiful.’ Gwen muttered, tracing the edge of the ring, and then looking up to Merlin. He was still grinning, had barely been able to hide his excitement on the travel back, knew that he was practically bursting with happiness.

‘It is.’ Merlin whispered back, staring down at his hand and feeling the same catch in his chest, looked back to find Gwaine leaning against his horse, chatting with the Knights.

‘Congratulations.’ Morgana joined the hug, pressed a kiss to his cheek and let her Magic settle next to his, the three of them wrapped up together.

‘It was so cute. And the way he asked…’

‘We want to know everything!’ Gwen’s enthusiasm was catchy, Merlin thought, nodding quickly before spotting Gaius, waiting patiently on the side line. Gwaine had admitted that he’d gone to Gaius to ask for Merlin’s hand officially, and if that wasn’t enough to make Merlin’s heart skip, he didn’t know what would be.

‘I hear congratulations are in order.’ His Uncle remarked, and Merlin ignored the words in favour of hugging him.

‘Thank you.’ He muttered into his ear, smiled when Gaius patted him on the back and then stepped back.

‘It’s good, seeing you happy. Although I should remind you that you may need to tell someone about this relationship.’ For a moment, Merlin had absolutely no idea who Gaius was talking about. Then it hit him suddenly, the person that he had managed to keep this all from, looked back to where the Knights were waiting for him.

‘Mum.’ Gaius just looked slightly pleased, raised that eyebrow in the way he always did, and Merlin swallowed.

How was he going to explain this to her?

Chapter Text

Hunith knew there was a reason that Merlin was here. Don’t get her wrong, she adored seeing Merlin, but he usually only came to see her when he had a need to do so. Riding into Ealdor with three Knights behind him, the red capes of Camelot giving them away, it was a clear sign that something was going on. She watched as the Village folk came out, curious to see what trouble her son had gotten into this time.

A long-haired Knight dismounted first, was by Merlin’s side in an instant. Hushed words exchanged, before Merlin came rushing across.

She could have sworn he’d grown again, she’d never seen his smile so bright, his body beginning to fill out slightly. Evidently he was eating more, and she took note of the rosy tinge on his cheeks. Healthy, something that not many Mothers in the outer villages ever got to call their children, yet here he was.

‘Mum.’ Still a boy at heart, his grin never fading, and she glanced past him to the Knights. They were waiting patiently, something that surprised her, and Merlin caught her gaze.

‘Er, could we go somewhere to talk?’ She gestured for him to come back into his home, Merlin assuring her that the Knights wouldn’t get into trouble while they went inside. She was more about to protest that they looked like they could do with something to eat, her natural instincts to want to mother them.

‘How’s the King?’ Arthur Pendragon had shocked her, when she’d met him. A boy, that was what he had been, in need of mothering. She’d never assume to do such a thing, but it didn’t mean that Hunith didn’t want to.

‘Fine. Happy. That’s… that’s kind of why I’m here.’ He took a seat, looking very nervous, and it was then that she caught sight of the ring on his finger. He blushed darkly, didn’t protest when she took his hand and eyed it up. The Pendragon emblem, along with the engraving on the side, this ring was worth more than her entire home. Probably even the Village.

‘I’m getting married.’ She’d expected the words, the moment she’d seen the ring. It didn’t mean she wasn’t proud, felt tears begin to brim at the thought of her boy growing up.

‘Are they pretty? Do… do they treat you right?’ It had never escaped her notice that Merlin had a favour towards a person’s attitude, rather than their looks. She’d thought… well, if Will had still been alive, Hunith had always suspected something might come of that.

‘That’s the thing, Mum, I… It’s Sir Gwaine, that’s marrying me.’ Hunith had learnt in the letters that both her son and brother sent, that Sir Gwaine was a Knight of honour. Presumably the long-haired one outside, waiting for Merlin to speak.

‘Congratulations! I can’t say I’m not shocked, a Knight of Camelot? Merlin…’ He was hiding things from her, things that she was trying to see through.

‘It’s just for the formality of it. I’m with… all of Arthur’s closest Knights. Arthur included.’ She knew she made a face, probably one of shock, and Merlin winced. Gaius, when he wrote to her, had told Hunith all about these Knights. Gwaine, the rebellious one. Elyan, Guinevere’s brother. Lancelot, not born a nobleman, but pure to his heart. Leon, raised by Arthur’s side and finally, Percival, the gentle giant. She was also aware that the Queen and the King’s sister were together, a thing she’d found odd, but could understand the burden of love.

Her boy, her Merlin, in the King’s bed. Not only that, but in the bed of the strongest men in all of Camelot.

‘Do they treat you right?’ She repeated, tone firm, not leaving him any room to escape the question. He blinked, looking slightly dazed by her question, before nodding.

‘They love me. And I love them. I’m seen for who I am, my Magic included.’ Accepting him was probably the one thing that mattered most, that they knew he had Magic and still adored him. The way Merlin blushed, the way his eyes held such hope, how could she deny him this?

‘Then I approve of the match. I only want what’s best for you, Merlin.’ She squeezed his hand, watched his smile brighten back to one that could rival the sun itself, before looking to the door.

‘Although I would like to meet them. All of them, within time. Sir Gwaine would be the perfect start.’

**

Gwaine had been terrified. Merlin had promised she wouldn’t be angry, nor judgemental, but Gwaine was still fretting. Standing outside, quite the crowd had gathered, while the Knight paced back and forth.

‘Don’t panic.’ Lancelot attempted to calm, while Percival nodded.

‘The worst that could happen is they run us from town.’ That didn’t help his nerves, Gwaine close to passing out, before the door to the hut opened. Hunith, he had been briefed by Arthur on everything the King knew, and Gwaine watched the woman approach. She held that protective stare, the motherly one that dared him to hurt her son, not that he would ever.

He offered out his hand, pleased when she took it, and bowed his head to her. After all, she was the mother of his other half, and demanded such respect.

‘Might I say that it is quite the honour to meet you, my Lady.’ Hunith blushed, as all women usually did, before she batted his hand away with a laugh.

‘Smooth-talking will only get you so far, Sir Gwaine. Would you walk with me?’ He shot a look to his friends, then offered out his arm to her.

‘It would be my pleasure.’

**

Merlin knew Gwaine could manage it, even if he was nervous. The Warlock stayed with Lancelot and Percival, for the first time openly using his Magic in his home-village to focus on fixing the shirts that belonged to his Mother. She may try and hide them, but Merlin wasn’t a fool. Most of his allowance went to her, a single-woman could never provide for herself, but Hunith had never shown any inclination of remarrying.

‘You’re gaining quite the audience.’ Lancelot mused, while Percival was focusing on not poking more holes in the shirt. His tongue was sticking out, a look of concentration that made Merlin want to kiss him. Not that he could, not when they were being stared at.

‘They don’t trust Magic.’ Merlin shot back, and Percival’s head rose.

‘Because they think we’d harm them for it?’ Or the old prejudices that were hard to crack. Merlin shrugged, then laughed when Percival turned his palm to the ground and focused. A small flame burst to life with just one word, darted across the floor and then vanished.

‘You’re getting better at that.’ Lancelot said with pride, before his eyes went very round. Percival sat up, placed his hands in his lap and looked like a scolded child.

‘Boys, do you want something to eat?’ Hunith, that was why they looked terrified, and Merlin could have laughed. Gwaine looked like he’d just gone three rounds with Percival, a sweaty mess from the fear of meeting her, and Merlin could tell his Mum was enjoying the affect she had.

‘We wouldn’t want to trouble you…’

‘Nonsense. It’ll be nice to get to know you, considering you’re bedding my son.’ Merlin snorted with laughter at her bluntness, watched the Knights scramble up and try to be on their best behaviour.

**

She’d had her fun, messing with them. Sir Gwaine, despite how he might like to act as if nothing bothered him, stared at Merlin like he was the centre of his life. Sir Percival treated his Magic as if it were a precious gift, eyed it up in awe and smiled brightly any time Merlin spoke. Sir Lancelot was kind, right down to the bottom of his heart, never strayed far from Gwaine or Merlin.

They were, she concluded, good matches for her boy. They were there when he needed help, walked by his side to collect firewood, joked and messed around with him like he was one of them.

It was all she’d ever wanted to see, really.

‘I can understand your hesitance around me.’ Hunith remarked to Sir Gwaine, while she watched Merlin and the other two Knights brush down the horses. The Knight by her side went to protest, but she shook her head gently.

‘You were not close to your Mother, you watch me with Merlin and look… lost.’ She hadn't missed the chain around Merlin’s neck, the ring and emblem that she presumed belonged to Sir Gwaine.

‘Things are different, with nobility. I was raised by a nursemaid, and even after that… we weren’t close.’ Gwaine concluded, then tensed when Hunith placed a gentle hand on his arm. Wary, untrusting of such open affection, and Hunith decided that Merlin had a habit of picking up men that had Mother-issues.

‘I may not be your Mother, Sir Gwaine, but I will always be a person that you can trust. For as long as you keep my boy safe, I’ll treat you as my own.’ She meant it, watched Gwaine’s smile form, before he bowed his head to her.

‘Thank you.’ Sincere, in the way he flashed a bright smile, before Merlin came jogging across.

‘We should be getting back. Arthur will get stroppy if I steal the three of you for too long.’ Hunith laughed, hugged Merlin tightly, ignoring the villagers that looked on.

They walked to the horses, and Merlin gave her a smile, while Gwaine hesitated. She knew better than to let him escape, hugged the Knight before he could stop her.

‘Keep him safe.’

‘I will.’ He promised, then stepped back. Merlin looked between them, an indescribable emotion on his face, before it broke into a smile.

‘C’mon, stop stealing my Mum.’ Gwaine laughed, tugged Merlin close for a kiss that was filled with adoration, watched the way Merlin sunk into his touch so easily.

‘I’ll race you back to the border.’

Boys, she thought, rolling her eyes fondly.

Chapter Text

Morgana found her mentor outside of the gates of Camelot, a frown on his face and his eyes screwed shut. Ever since they got back from Ealdor, Merlin had focused on their training. Mischief, that’s what they kept getting into, sneaking out of the Castle to go and find trouble. From bar fights to bandits, the two of them attracted attention and then Merlin let her deal with it. Arthur hadn't yet caught wind of the rumours spreading, although Gwaine had, approaching the both of them and asking who in all of Albion was the Light-Keeper was.

It had started as a joke, Morgana was taking down some bandits when Merlin let someone get too close, and she had taken him out.

‘Some creature of light you are, you’d never survive without me.’ She was teasing, of course, and Merlin had smiled just as brightly back at her.

‘Then you’re my Keeper, huh?’ Apparently, they hadn't killed all of the bandits, and Morgana had been given a name. When Merlin had found out, he’d been slightly hesitant about the idea, but Morgana was good at pleading. After some careful convincing, Merlin had agreed to fuel the rumours that Emrys had a Light-Keeper, Leoht Hydre, or as Merlin had suggest, Leodre.

A name for her, to rival that of Emrys. It did have benefits, Emrys was seen to be so powerful, and so Morgana was protected by the fact that now people believed that she was stronger. Merlin, once he listened to the whispers, encouraged them just as strongly as she did.

Which was what led her to track Merlin down, the wedding was coming up and all of Albion had heard that Emrys was marrying a Knight of Camelot, although those in the Castle still knew him as Merlin.

‘Leorde.’ He greeted. Morgana liked the name, liked the way it sounded when Merlin called her it, the pride in his voice that came shining through.

‘Emrys. You look like Arthur when he walked in on me and Gwen.’ He did, a mixture of confusion, annoyance and disgust.

‘I’m trying to do something.’ Merlin replied, his eyes still shut.

‘Magical?’ Morgana asked, adjusting her skirts as she took a seat on the grass. Her mentor opened his eyes in time for her to see the bright golden, and with that, he vanished.

Morgana startled, then jumped when laughter sounded. At the treeline, Merlin was leaning against a trunk, looking tired, slightly dishevelled, but pleased.

‘Teleportation!’ She squealed, and Merlin disappeared once more. A hand came to rest on her shoulder, Merlin standing behind her and smirking.

‘It’s complicated, but I think I’m getting the hang of it. Easier, now your Magic is with me.’ She knew he was smart, knew that Merlin had begun to create his own spells, but this was terrifyingly brilliant.

‘I’ll go to the throne room. Try and follow.’

**

Arthur was bored out of his mind. Preparing a wedding should have been fun, but instead he was almost asleep, listening to his Councillors try and explain that Merlin having two names was difficult. That, to satisfy those with Magic throughout the lands, he should suggest Merlin be slightly more than just the King’s manservant.

Unfortunately, Merlin was against any type of title. He didn’t want to be Court Sorcerer, had suggested that Morgana take the position. He didn’t want to be advisor to the King, Gwen was currently at that position. In fact, Merlin had walked into Arthur’s Chambers and chased George away, the last time he’d tried to swap Merlin out.

Merlin was his lover, the closest person to him, but refused to give up his position as manservant to the King. However, a Knight of Camelot couldn’t really marry a manservant, not without Arthur giving them a rise in position.

‘I understand, but Merlin is…’

‘Could you not convince him, Sire?’ The councillor realised his mistake, interrupting Arthur was never wise. The King slowly sat up, maintaining eye contact and watching as the man flinched.

He was saved by Morgana’s entrance, his sister curtseying briefly before walking to Gwen’s side, taking her seat.

‘Did I miss anything important?’ Morgana looked between the shaking councillor and Arthur, while he sighed.

‘My own Councillors thinking they can interrupt me?’ The man went to apologise, but Morgana cut him off.

‘I could always sort them out for you, brother dear.’ Morgana was in a teasing mood, that was clear by the way her eyes flicked gold and she smirked. The Council were terrified of her, and Morgana loved to play into it, Gwen encouraging the entire thing.

‘Or he could.’ Arthur blinked, was about to ask Morgana who she meant, when Merlin randomly appeared at her side.

His clothes were windswept, hair an absolute mess, with a bright flush to his cheeks.

‘Oh, sorry Sire. Just practicing teleportation.’ Merlin gave a cheeky grin, before he disappeared. Arthur looked around to check he was not the only person that had just witnessed that, and from the other pale faces in the room, he decided Merlin had genuinely just done that.

**

‘Is this safe?’ Lancelot asked, and Merlin shrugged.

‘How badly could it go?’ That sentence alone was enough for Gwaine to grin, clapping his hands together in excitement.

‘Bring it on.’ The trio had met up in the corridor, Merlin requesting their presence by calling to them in their minds. Gwaine found it fascinating, had tried sending less than innocent thoughts back. From the blush that Merlin had been sporting when he’d come around the corner, Gwaine figured the connection worked both ways.

‘If any of my limbs get left behind…’ Lancelot warned, but offered out his hand anyway. Merlin chuckled, linked their fingers together, and then Gwaine was joining the group.

‘Where exactly are you aiming for?’

‘The clearing where the Dragon lands.’ Merlin answered, and the world moved around them.

When Gwaine dared to open his eyes, he was outside. Grass beneath his feet, the bright sun shining down onto his skin. Merlin, the bloody incredible fool that he was, had managed to do it. The Knight spun, ready to congratulate the Warlock, before stopping.

Lancelot had landed as well, although on his backside, but that wasn’t the amusing thing.

Merlin hung upside down in the tree, looking thoroughly unamused.

‘How did I end up in the tree?’

**

Arthur watched as the trio entered the room, late for dinner once again. Gwaine looked smug, Lancelot had definitely been laughing too much, and Merlin had bits of twig still stuck in his hair.

‘Do I even want to ask?’ Merlin scowled as Gwaine burst into laughter, the Knight taking his seat, before Merlin moved around to sit on Percival’s lap. That wasn’t unusual, he usually didn’t bother with the spare chair that Arthur had made George drag in for him.

‘Merlin teleported himself into a tree.’ Lancelot was the one to spoil Merlin’s secret, the Warlock huffing as the group laughed. Arthur noted that Percival wrapped an arm around his waist, tried to hide his smirk.

‘I just thought it would be a good idea to practice.’ Arthur had never seen someone so powerful, yet so clumsy. It seemed that Merlin’s Magic had a mind of its own, always thought and acted without Merlin’s permission. Especially when the Warlock was too tired to have control.

‘In case you need to escape from us?’ Leon joked, and Merlin nodded sincerely.

‘Of course. You Knights can be insatiable.’ That earnt a hand lightly slapping his hip, and several of them rolling their eyes.

‘Of all of us, Merls, you’re the insatiable one.’ From the darkening blush on Merlin’s face, he knew that was true as well, Arthur watching him tried to hide his gaze. It never failed to make him smile, seeing Merlin act so shy when talking about such things, yet being very vocal when they were all rutting between the sheets.

‘Don’t pretend you don’t like it.’ Merlin shot back, daring Gwaine to argue with him. The Knight just shrugged, eating his dinner without a care in the world, while Percival set to work feeding Merlin. Amusing to watch, a Knight that looked so terrifying and large, being so gentle with the man in his lap.

What an unusual family they made.

Chapter Text

Arthur nervously inclined his head, only for the woman to chuckle and pull him in for a brief hug. He was surprised, but thankful, hugged her back just as tightly.

‘Hunith.’ She looked pleased, eyes twinkling as she stepped back and smiled up to him.

‘I’ve heard that you’re responsible for my boy’s happiness. All of you.’ She added, glancing past to the two Knights she had not yet met. Gwaine was with them, despite the fact that today was the day he was getting married. Merlin had asked for a small event, with the friends and family they had, which Arthur had allowed.

‘We owe him more than that, for everything he’s done for us.’ Arthur managed to get out, always feeling nervous under her gaze. He’d met her a couple of times since Ealdor, and she acted motherly each time. He’d never really had such a person in his life, a Governess, perhaps, but she wasn’t a mother to him.

‘Oh my boy, you’re doing just fine.’ Praise, something that Merlin gave him constantly, that nobody else dared to. It was always fake, when it came from the Council. Yet Merlin did it all the time, it was usual casual, but sometimes the words came from his heart. Just like Hunith, he could see the resemblance more and more.

‘And you! Sir Gwaine, you look rather handsome.’ Arthur watched as her attention turned to Gwaine, dressed ready for his wedding.

**

‘Morgana…’ Merlin protested, only for her to shush him with Magic.

‘Nonsense. A little more colour here.’ Gwen added, and the fabrics changed once again. He was so confused, he’d asked for a simple ceremony, but that didn’t seem to be happening. He was getting ready in Arthur’s Chambers, the King had told him that he could use them for the morning. Dressing in clothes that were far finer than he was used to, Merlin was about to be married.

To Gwaine. That kept his nerves down, the knowledge that he wasn’t going to go through this alone. Morgana stepped back to admire her hard work with a grin, clapping her hands together in excitement.

‘Perfect.’

‘I agree.’ The Queen seconded. Merlin looked between them, wondered if Morgana had yet figured out… No, it could wait till tomorrow. The time would come for such an announcement.

‘Can we get this over with? I’m looking forward to the feast.’ All the rich foods that he had seen eaten before, but this time, it was him sitting at the table. By Gwaine’s side, although that wasn’t going to stop him winding up the others. Besides, everyone in the Castle knew that it wasn’t just Gwaine he was marrying.

‘Today you’ll become a married man.’ Morgana chided, and Merlin shuddered. Getting married had always just seemed like a signing of papers, of one household joining another. But he had very little, and Gwaine was a Knight. It raised him in status, which was why Arthur had been trying to convince him not to be his manservant anymore. He hated the idea, he wasn’t meant to be Court Sorcerer, that was Morgana’s position. Or it should be, she deserved it so much more.

‘This is all exciting, but nothing will really change.’ He pointed out, knowing it wasn’t true. After today, there would be nothing that could split him from Gwaine, unless Arthur allowed them to divorce. It was supposed to calm him, to reassure that they were serious, but Merlin couldn’t help but feel slightly… unworthy.

‘If you act negative about yourself one more time, I’m going to set you on fire.’ The warning was a serious one, she was quite scary when she needed to be. Merlin straightened, adjusted the jacket he was wearing and tried not to concentrate on how many people would be there. Asking for a small ceremony hadn't stopped the list being longer than he’d have liked, apparently the Council were hesitant to marry a Warlock from a prophecy to a Knight.

‘You’ll walk by my side, right?’ He asked her, and Morgana beamed. Gwen was already rushing from the room, giving him one last smile, she was needed at the ceremony. The King and Queen would be there to officiate the wedding, with Geoffrey reading out the proclamation. Gaius and his Mum would be there, and the other Knights. The staff of the Castle, the Council, a couple of Druids that had been insisted upon. Aglain, for one, which Merlin didn’t mind.

‘Of course I will.’ She confirmed. Like she’d be anywhere else, the two of them were always there for each other.

‘One day this will be you.’ Merlin looked into the mirror, watched her frown.

‘But Gwen is Queen…’

‘In this lifetime.’ He added. The unspoken thing between them, what they would do after this. Morgana’s smile spread, and she reached for his hand, linked their fingers together.

‘Ready, Emrys?’

‘More than ready, Leorde.’

**

Gwaine shifted from one foot to the other, looking out across the people staring. Hunith had been talking to Leon and Elyan for most of the morning, and they had slowly realised that they were not being judged. Now, each of the Knights felt comfortable around her, knowing that she approved of the match between them.

The King and Queen sat on their thrones, Arthur giving him a nod. If it was supposed to reassure him, it didn’t do very well. He felt exposed, without his sword by his side, wanted to retreat back to the shadows. He hid behind jokes and laughter, behind Taverns and far too much alcohol. But up here, everyone could see him.

Just as they had when Gwaine had been proposing, the nerves vanished the instant he saw Merlin. The Warlock looked thoroughly unimpressed with all this fuss over him, had an adorably scrunched up nose, looked ready to downplay the entire thing. He looked rather good, Gwaine thought, letting his eyes wander over the royal blue fabric, then back to the bright eyes.

Morgana was by his side, hand linked in his, grinning with all the mischief that he usually saw when he looked to her. The two of them were almost inseparable, shown as they stopped just before the steps, and Morgana leant in to kiss his cheek. Words were whispered, far too quiet for him to hear, before Merlin smiled up at Gwaine.

He hated official ceremonies, listened to Geoffrey introduce the marriage ceremony while Merlin took his hands, the ring gone for now. It would be placed on at the end of the speech, but he still missed it.

‘All this fuss, hey?’ Gwaine mumbled, and Merlin struggled to hide his smile.

‘Seems rather overdone.’ He agreed.

‘I’m just looking forward to the wine.’ The King could hear them, no doubt, tried to hide his own laughter as him clearing his throat.

‘And the food.’ Merlin replied dreamily.

‘Sir Gwaine, Knight of Camelot,’ He’d specifically requested that his family name was not used in this ceremony, had glared at Arthur until the King agreed, ‘Do you take Merlin of Ealdor to be your husband?’

Words he’d not stated before, there were no male-male pairings in Camelot. Well, there hadn’t been until today.

‘I do.’ The easiest words in his life to say, second only to his declaration of love for the Warlock that quickly echoed his sentiment. The ring was brought, the Pendragon emblem shining brightly, and Gwaine slid it onto his finger.

‘And yours?’ Merlin grinned, took Gwaine’s hand and the Knight watched in awe as his eyes flashed golden.

A Magic Ring. He barely hid his excitement, watched as a band of cool metal wrapped around his finger, the darkest colour he’d ever seen, with a red gem where the emblem would be.

Geoffrey was back to speaking, while Gwaine just wanted the time to explore his new ring.

‘As long as I’m alive, the stone remains red.’ Merlin whispered, and Gwaine would have kissed him regardless of the fact that it actually was the right time to.

Some people were clapping, but he was more focused on Merlin’s smile.

‘I love you.’ He muttered, unable to hold back those words.

‘Good. It would be awful if you didn’t.’ Merlin teased, kissed him once more, and then took his hand.

Huh, he was a married man now.

Chapter Text

Gwaine smirked, watched as the man tried to scramble backwards through the dirt, eyes flicking between the group to try and figure out who was the biggest threat. Attacking Merlin was a bad idea on any day, but now? The man was definitely dead.

‘I’ll be nice. You can choose which one you want to fight.’ Merlin offered, looking utterly adorable as always. They’d been out riding, Merlin loved the fresh air and needed a break from Morgana’s constant fretting. The bandit had been unexpected.

‘That one.’ He gestured to Lancelot, the friendliest looking of the group. Gwaine snorted with laughter, that was a mistake, Lancelot wasn’t likely to be too kind considering the fact that Merlin’s horse had been spooked. They’d all screamed as the Warlock went tumbling, hitting the floor with a thump that had echoed out.

‘Good choice. That’s my boyfriend.’ Merlin looked pleased, a bright smile and eyes full of mischief.

‘I… I change my mind. Him.’ Elyan was the next option. Merlin hummed in thought, his dress slightly torn and the cloak wrapped tightly around his shoulders, before nodding.

‘Alright. That’s my other boyfriend.’ The man looked confused, then looked past Elyan to where Arthur was standing. The King looked slightly tired, he supposed that’s what happened when his Queen was pregnant with his sister’s baby, and his own lover had admitted he might eventually want a baby.

‘Him.’

‘The King of Camelot?’ Merlin checked, and the bandit went white.

‘Also my boyfriend.’ Merlin was toying with him, eyes sparkling with mischief. Riding out in his female form wasn’t a rarity, Camelot had become used to the fact Merlin walked around in either skin. It helped get him settled for when he wanted a child, Gwaine supposed.

‘I’ll give you a hint, all five of them are my boyfriends.’ He admitted to the bandit, gesturing to the group. The bandit was reaching for a dagger, eyes finally coming to land on Gwaine.

‘Then I pick you.’ It had been Merlin’s suggestion, to let the man choose how he wanted to escape. If he won the fight, he could go free.

‘A brilliant choice. That’s my husband.’

The bandit was screwed.

**

‘Does my stomach really look that big?’ Gwen remarked, looking in the mirror. Merlin looked up to the Queen, admired her growing belly with awe. He still was unsure about having a child, he had brought it up with the group, and they’d admitted they would love to have a child. Merlin figured that he’d have to wait until Gwen had hers, she would need assistance to raise the baby.

‘You look lovely.’ Merlin offered to the Queen. She snorted, turned one way and then the other, hands moving down to her bulging stomach.

‘Is Morgana out creating more rumours?’ The mention of Leorde had Merlin grinning. Ever since her name began to spread, she’d been fuelling the whispers that followed. Gwaine, the idiotic Knight that he was, had been more than happy to assist. He’d whined a bit, complaining that he didn’t get a cool name even though he was married to Emrys. Merlin had spent that night calling Gwaine a great variety of names, all of which had the desired effect.

Anyway, back to Morgana. With the whole of Albion aware that Camelot was protected by the duo of sorcerers, Emrys and Leorde, danger didn’t come that often. It was settled, Camelot was prospering, and the other Kingdoms knew better than to try and get involved in a war with them.

‘Probably. You know she adores her name.’ Gwen hummed, came across to sit by his side and reach for his hand. He looked to the Queen, who looked so nervous.

‘Do you know what our baby will be?’ Our baby, Gwen always called it ours. That baby would have one impressive family, Merlin thought. A Mother, another Mother, a Father that wasn’t actually the father and a great variety of Uncles.

‘I do.’ He confirmed, not just from the vision, but from the abilities his Magic held. Gwen hesitated, looked rather nervous all of a sudden.

‘Is it the heir Camelot needs?’ Merlin sighed, linked their fingers together and let his Magic come along to wrap around the two of them. Comfort.

‘Gwen, this will not be your only child. All that matters is that the baby is healthy, who cares about anything else?’ That reassured her, she smiled brightly and brought Merlin’s hand to rest over the bump. Even through the fabric, he could feel the kick when it happened.

‘She has Morgana’s temper.’ Gwen whispered, the two of them sharing in the secret that they knew what the baby would be.

**

Leorde let down her hood, shook her hair free and looked out across the misty ground. She hated this part of the forest, the haunted part where she could have sworn the whispers of the dead hung around. The trees seemed to lean inwards, trying to enclose her, but she had no fear. Tracking down all those that were deemed a threat to Camelot was her hobby, one Merlin encouraged.

‘Leorde.’ Speak of the Devil, or in this case, the Warlock, and he shall appear. Merlin was getting better at appearing in places she didn’t expect him, stepping through the mist like the presence of the dead did not bother him.

‘Emrys.’ With her Queen days away from their baby’s due date, Morgana had been impatiently trying to track down the last leads of the bounty hunters that had rocked through Camelot last season.

‘You should come back to the Castle. Gwen needs you.’ Leorde didn’t want to admit that she was panicking about the baby being born. She didn’t want to admit that she was terrified that she wouldn’t make a good Mother, that the baby would despise her. That one day, she’d have to watch her own child grow old, while she stayed at Emrys’s side.

‘How will we do it?’

‘We’ll protect them. And all those that follow. When the time comes, we’ll be reunited.’ He was beginning to sound like that damned Dragon, talking in riddles that she didn’t quite understand. But she trusted him with her life, and with the lives of everyone she loved.

‘You’ll be there to deliver the baby?’

‘Like I promised.’ He assured, coming across to take her hand, tugging her in and kissing her cheek carefully. She let him, felt the cool pressure of the Pendragon ring on his hand.

‘Go home, Morgana. I’ll finish off this lead.’ She didn’t argue, let his Magic wrap around her and transport her back to Camelot.

Those bounty Hunters didn’t know what was about to hit them.

**

Morgana paced back and forth, waiting for the news that would come. Arthur was at his desk, fingers drumming over the table top, and the Knights were scattered around the room.

‘They’ve been in there for hours!’ Elyan was flustered. Morgana understood that he was concerned for his sister, but she could have strangled him.

‘It’s a baby, it can’t be rushed.’ Morgana snapped, before the door opened.

Gaius looked pleased, but tired nonetheless.

‘My Lady, Sire. A baby girl was delivered, and the Queen is in good health.’ Morgana cared not for the gender, she would adore the baby no matter what. Dashing past Gaius, she reached the room that Gwen was in, threw the door open.

Gwen had her maid, Sefa, by her side. She was flushed, a sweaty mess but in a fresh gown, with the sheets clean. Resting, Morgana figured, moving to her side first.

‘You did so well, oh Gwen.’ The Queen smiled, tears fresh in her eyes, kissing her just as hungrily. Sefa excused herself to move to where Merlin stood, a bundle in his arms.

‘Is that…’ Arthur halted in the doorway, with the others behind.

‘Come in you prat, you’re letting the heat out.’ Merlin scolded, and Morgana laughed. The door was shut, and the men in the room awkwardly stared between them.

Morgana left Gwen’s side, approaching Merlin, who turned with the baby in his arms.

‘Congratulations, my Lady.’ His smile was the brightest thing she’d seen, and then he offered out the baby, and Morgana gasped.

Tiny fingers, a scrunched up face and the most adorable thing she’d ever seen, with a light dusting of dark hair over her head.

‘She’s beautiful.’

‘Like her Mothers.’ Merlin smoothly complimented, and Morgana sobbed, taking the child and rushing back to Gwen.

‘Merlin suggested a name, earlier.’ The Queen whispered, while Morgana tried to tear her gaze away from the bundle of cuteness in her arms.

‘Riona. It means…’

‘Pure.’ Morgana finished, looking up to her mentor and understanding what he meant.

‘Thank you.’ Merlin just smiled, like everything he had done for them wasn’t a big deal.

‘Riona Pendragon, you’re going to be the most spoiled child in the whole of Albion.’ She promised, daring anybody to deny it.

Chapter Text

Merlin huffed, kicked her foot up onto the windowsill and shuffled back slightly, watching out of the glass as the Knights trained. It had become a hobby during her confinement, knowing that they were attempting to show off. It was ridiculous, she looked like a bloody cow, yet they still competed for her affection just as readily.

‘Aunty Mer?’ Riona peered up from over the top of the book she was reading, something about the Magical creatures of Camelot, her dark eyes wide. At three-years old, Riona Pendragon was quite the Princess, knew exactly how to act to get what she wanted. Especially when it came to her Uncles, she had them wrapped around her finger like a thread.

‘What’s wrong, sweetheart?’ Morgana had business to attend to with the Druids, hence why Riona was with her. The Queen had a busy day with organising the Yuletide celebrations, plus a check with Gaius later to make sure that the second Pendragon baby would be healthy. Merlin had already used her Magic to concur the same thing, the baby boy was perfectly healthy.

‘Are there any other Dragons?’ The girl was well-spoken for her age, presumably what came with having no expense spared on her tutoring. She would grow up to be very knowledgeable in almost everything. Gaius taught her how to heal, Merlin and Morgana taught her Magic. Gwen would school her on how to rule over a Kingdom, not that Camelot would be hers, with a male heir on the way. It didn’t matter, Merlin knew she would find her own Kingdom, would rule just as well as any male could.

‘Just Aithusa, my dear. Maybe one day, we might find another.’ Merlin placed a hand back to her stomach, to think about her legacy. A Dragonlord could only inherit the power if they were a male, but that wasn’t really a pausing point for her. She switched freely between the two, although her last eight months had been a solid period of being a female. Just to keep the baby safe.

‘How would it hatch?’ The girl cocked her head, her light brown curls falling around her face. She looked very much like Gwen, although she had a similarity to both Arthur and Morgana with her jawline, lips and nose.

‘I suppose I could do it. Or the baby.’ She rubbed her stomach, knew that one day, she’d need to die in order to awaken her child’s powers. If it was a boy, she wasn’t sure if the same would work for a girl. Maybe Aithusa would be able to make an exception to the rule.

‘I can’t wait for a playmate.’ She smiled dreamily, clapping her tiny hands together in excitement. There were other children in the Castle, but very few of them were her age. Even then, it wasn’t correct for a Princess to be raised among the children from the villages. Merlin was the one to sneak her out when she wanted to go and pretend to be like any other girl, dressed her in older clothes and told her to hide her Magic.

The girl was gifted, although not incredibly so. Enough to defend herself, which Merlin was thankful for.

‘I can’t wait to be able to see my toes.’ Merlin joked back, the girl laughing and flopping back onto the chair, before focusing once more on her books.

Gwaine was already lying on the ground, the lazy Knight, soaking in the sun. Merlin understood, she’d be doing the same thing if she could get down there.

‘My Lady?’ Merlin looked to the door, to where Sefa was standing, snorted at the formality.

‘Sefa. Is everything alright?’

‘The Queen was feeling a little nauseous, has requested you to take her place with the Council.’ Merlin grumbled in annoyance, but rose from where she was sitting regardless. It was a good thing she’d chosen a suitable dress this morning, royal blues rather than the old maid gowns that had she’d borrowed from the Mothers down in the town.

‘Come along, Princess Riona. You can be my accomplice for the day.’ The girl loved to be included, although Gwen didn’t often let her sit in on the Council meetings. She claimed it would encourage Riona to aim for the throne, but Merlin had the advantage of seeing the future, of already knowing exactly how the Princess would fit into Camelot’s prosperous future.

**

Arthur dragged his armour off, thanked George briefly before wondering if he should ask his manservant to draw him a bath. The thought disappeared when he caught sight of the Queen, coming out of the Physician’s home.

‘Gwen? Is everything alright?’ Elyan was the first to her side, the others forgetting their exhaustion to job across to where she was. Her stomach was beginning to round once more, her hands almost constantly cradling the bump. A boy, Merlin was convinced, and he was inclined to listen to him. Her. That was still confusing, although she’d been as a woman for eight months now.

‘I was just feeling a little sick. Perfectly normal, the baby’s fine.’ Elyan beamed, reached out for her stomach just as he would with Merlin. The others had some restraint, all apart from Gwaine, who never showed any hesitancy in anything.

‘How did the Yuletide preparations go?’ Arthur asked, offering out his arm to the Queen. She accepted gratefully, probably just as tired as he felt, kept in step as the Knights followed behind.

‘They do love to talk. I had Merlin take over for me, I hope she isn’t too mad at me for it.’ Uh oh, Merlin hated sitting in on Council meetings, she had a fierce tongue and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. Arthur pitied his Council.

‘We should probably go and check on her.’ Arthur hated to leave Gwen, but the Queen just batted him onwards, rolled her eyes fondly.

The throne room was emptying by the time they reached it, the Councillors scurrying out with papers and books. Each inclined their head as they walked past, out of respect.

Merlin was on the throne, looking rather annoyed at one of the men, Sir Callum, who was probably trying to convince her that it was a good idea to try and increase the grain payments to the Castle. Arthur had been against the idea, knew the burden that the outer villages faced during winter, and Gwen had agreed. He obviously thought Merlin would be easier to convince, but from the bright red face and stammered apologies falling from his lips, he’d made a mistake.

Arthur watched in amusement as the man stepped back, bowing low to the Warlock.

‘My Lady. Princess.’ He hurried from the room, Arthur barely paying attention to him and instead staring at his lover, watched as she smirked across at him.

‘You look like you rolled around in a bath of sweat.’ She wrinkled her nose up, looking perfectly at home on the throne of Camelot. One day, he decided he’d have her ride him on it, when her stomach wasn’t so strained that she looked ready to topple over.

‘Not all of us can laze around.’ Gwaine teased, the only one that would dare make a comment like that when she was this… large. Arthur had learnt the hard way that calling her that ended in him being kicked out of their joint bed.

‘Riona, dear, what do we do to Knights that misbehave?’ The Princess giggled, eyes flashing golden and Gwaine yelped as his shoelaces tied together, and Merlin flicked her finger to knock him over.

‘Can we go and see the horses now?’ Riona asked, and Arthur recalled that some of them have promised to take her. Elyan agreed, and she rushed across to his side, the Knights following the Princess out. Gwaine had just about managed to untie his laces, stood up and exchanged a look with Arthur, before following the others out.

‘Comfy?’ Arthur asked, moving towards the throne. He halted in front of Merlin, kneeling down and placing his hands over the swell of her stomach, listened to her sigh. Hands wrapped into his hair, it was getting far too long but Merlin was insistent that it looked better like this.

‘Mm. I’d be comfier in our bed. Preferably with you feeding me strawberries.’ The King chuckled, leant forwards to press a kiss to her stomach, then stood and kissed her lips.

‘Whatever you want, Merlin.’ He’d promised the Warlock that on the first day they found out she was pregnant, then every day after.

‘I love you.’

‘I love you too.’ The easiest words to say in the entire language, Arthur thought.