kageygirl: (arthur shoulder fierce)
[personal profile] kageygirl
This is all [livejournal.com profile] celli's fault, by way of me not ever being able to take the easy way out: she said, "write me them kissing!" and I said, "okay!" and then, me being me, there had to be context.

Merlin/Arthur, PG, 1200 words.

Summary: In which confronting a monster in the forest may not be the riskiest venture of the day.


New Light


Arthur comes out of a ducking roll onto one knee, swinging his sword in a high circle to test its heft and settle his grip. He sweeps the blade through a low slice, feels the solid contact all the way up his arm, and the angry hiss is suddenly silenced.

From his left he hears Merlin shout, "Yes!" and Arthur relaxes, though he does not move. He may have slain the basilisk, but if he comes in contact with any of the venom the thing sprayed about, or looks into its cursed reptilian eyes, even in death it will have returned the favour.

Instead, he waits, and listens to Merlin crashing through the undergrowth. The blindfold around his eyes is rough linen, Merlin's neckerchief, and clammy where Arthur's sweat has soaked in at the temples. Still, he leaves it on, and waits for Merlin to come to him.

The noises draw closer, and Arthur's hand tightens on the hilt of his sword. He's sure it's only Merlin, but even so, Arthur dislikes his self-imposed disability. "It's all right, it's dead, it's totally dead," Merlin says, as if sensing his unease, and there's a slither of cloth, off to one side, and then a thump just in front of him. "You did it," Merlin says, close by, and Arthur can hear the idiotic grin in his voice, just before there's a light touch on his shoulders, and then Merlin's hands slip along the edge of the blindfold to work the knot at the back.

Merlin's breath puffs out in uneven bursts against Arthur's cheek. Arthur is breathing hard, too, though he has far more reason for it--he's the one who's been exerting himself, after all.

It must be his other senses struggling to compensate, because Arthur can feel the loam of the forest damp and cool under his knee, through his trousers, can feel his muscles twitching minutely after being pressed into battle and then suddenly stilled. He can hear the forest cautiously rustling back to life, can smell the traces of peat smoke and herbs that cling to Merlin's clothes, can sense Merlin's warmth sneaking in past plate and mail and padding.

The world is a riot of sensation, surging in at all sides, and Arthur suddenly thirsts for it all as a man in the desert thirsts for a drink.

In his efforts, Merlin pulls at a lock of Arthur's hair, and Arthur jerks his head forward, away from the unexpectedly sharp pain. "Sorry," murmurs Merlin, and a soothing flutter of fingertips across his neck makes Arthur's breath catch.

He snakes out his left hand, unerringly finding Merlin's shoulder as if he had his sight back already, and curves his palm around the nape of Merlin's neck. "Arthur?" he hears, and wants to taste it, wants to know how insolence and silly grins and concern unasked-for will roll across his tongue.

With a tug of his hand, he presses Merlin's mouth to his, and finds out.

Merlin's lips are chapped and his startled breath shivers over Arthur, but he wants more, and Merlin opens up to him, as if he's never made a habit of being contrary and intractable. It's warm and glorious and other things that Arthur has no words for, and he makes a noise in the back of his throat that he suspects is most unprincely but his concern about such things is very far away.

There's a faint ringing as his sword drops into the leaf litter on the forest floor, an aural accompaniment to his other hand cradling Merlin's cheek, to the whisper of leather gloves over bare skin as Arthur draws him closer. Merlin's fingers are curled into Arthur's hair, and Arthur thinks that if joy and triumph have a taste, he's learning them now.

All too soon, it comes to an end, as Merlin pulls away--not far, though, still knelt in front of Arthur, the tenor of his breathing a counterpoint to the racing of Arthur's heart. He fumbles at the blindfold again. "We need to get this off you," Merlin says, voice low and rasping at the edges, and Arthur gives a slight, unsteady nod.

"Of course," he says. His own voice seems uncommonly loud, and he can't suppress a wince. Merlin's fingers still for a second, then he pries the knot apart with renewed industry, and the blindfold falls away.

Arthur finally opens his eyes, and immediately squeezes them shut again--everything is too bright, too sharp, too biting. Even Merlin is outlined in a blazing corona of gold, as if set afire by the afternoon sun, and Arthur's eyes are burning from the brief glimpse of it.

"Sorry," Merlin says again, ridiculously, as if it were his fault. "Your eyes must be really sensitive right now--give it a minute." He sweeps his thumbs ever-so-gently over Arthur's eyelids, murmuring soothing nonsense almost too softly to hear.

The world diminishes to Merlin's fingers along his jaw, and after a moment, Arthur chances another look. The harsh brilliance has dimmed, leaving the forest dappled in hazy, ordinary sunlight.

He sees the body of the basilisk off to one side, its head to the other, a misshapen lump under a burlap sack. His sword gleams faintly amid the fallen leaves.

Merlin, kneeling in front of him just the way Arthur knew he had been, draws his hands back, away from Arthur. There's a wariness in his eyes that Arthur cannot abide, and he catches Merlin's arm in a loose grip that Merlin can shrug off easily, if he chooses. "All right?" he asks quietly, and it's nothing to do with the battle.

"Yeah," Merlin says, and his gaze drops for a heartbeat. He looks back up with a smirk playing about his lips, and says, "You're not that good."

Arthur barks out a laugh, feeling the tension bleed out of him. "You should try me when I'm not sitting beside the corpse of a monstrous lizard."

He gets his feet under him and extends a hand to Merlin, clasping his forearm and standing up with him. Merlin brushes the leaves off his trousers and gives Arthur a sidelong glance. "Is that an invitation?"

Arthur gestures for his sword, and Merlin narrows his eyes, but bends and snatches it up. He offers the hilt to Arthur, and Arthur closes his hand around Merlin's and the hilt both, pulling him in close.

"I'd make it an order," he says in a low voice, "but you never listen to those."

Merlin drops his gaze to Arthur's lips. "Sire," he says, with a mocking lilt, but his eyes are glittering, and there's a flush on his pale cheeks that's most becoming.

He wets his lips, and Arthur can't help but watch. He looks up to see that he's been caught out in return, but Arthur just smiles, and Merlin grins, ducking his head.

Arthur takes his sword, finally, and turns away. "See to the head. I'll ready the horses."

In truth, he should be making Merlin do all the work, of course. But right now, Arthur has a very good incentive to find out how just how quickly they can make it back to Camelot.
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