The night the nearly-forgotten fruit prepares for its transformation begins like every other ordinary night.
Merlin is changing into his bedclothes when there is a faint tingling on the skin of his stomach. He scratches at it absently while he finishes preparing to retire. He blows out all the candles and settles down into the bed.
The tingling in his belly steadily builds from “faint” to “discomfort.” And it’s actually less of a tingling now. It’s more of… an itch.
Merlin’s fingers dig into his skin a little harder, but the sensation is still only registering on a subcortical level.
He closes his eyes and sighs, adjusting the pillow under his head and ignoring the mild annoyance.
And the skin on his stomach abruptly goes into a rage.
Uttering an “oh” of surprise that sounds tiny even in his little room, Merlin pulls up his shirt and furiously drags his fingernails across inflamed skin.
It feels like the terrible rash he got as a boy the time he had been playing a hiding game in the forests near Ealdor with Will. The other boy had mischievously tripped him into a mass of prickly bushes (just as he was about to be caught) that later turned out to be a hotbed of urushiol resin.
Merlin struggles to the side of the bed and holds his cupped palm near his belly. A bright yellow ball erupts there and lets him get a good look at this “rash.”
The way he feels, he expects to see irritated welts and puffy lines spreading from the central point of his bellybutton up to his neck and the tops of his thighs. Instead-
There is only one mark.
A reddened outline of raised tissue on his belly in a small cloud-like shape.
There’s something very disconcerting about the severe lack of congruency between the minor physical manifestation of his pain and the intense sensation that assaults his nerves.
Merlin turns to leave his room with the intent to rummage through Gaius’ salves, refusing to even entertain the notion that this is the result of vengeful (or clumsy) magic.
As soon as he passes the threshold however, he crosses the room toward the front door with sudden purpose (completely unknown to him) and walks right out into the night.
If he had been thinking clearly, he would have realized his initial dismissal of the possibility of a magical origin was a mistake.
If he had been thinking clearly, he would have been able to spare some shame, or at the very least some concern, at his state of inappropriate dress, for the night is young and there are a few denizens of Camelot still milling around to give him odd looks.
But, he’s not really thinking at all. His executive functioning gives over his body’s control to some unconscious mechanism that leads him unerringly straight to…
… Arthur’s rooms.
The fact that he doesn’t register any surprise could be due to it being too complicated an emotion right now or to it being such an obvious choice for a secret rendezvous.
Merlin pushes open the heavy door and walks in like he owns the place.
Arthur is sitting semi-sprawled in his chair, staring at the slowly puddling candles flickering on the table in front of him. He is obviously in a contemplative mood.
(Oh, Merlin is going to give him something to contemplate.)
The moment Merlin’s eyes meet that of the prince’s, the irritation on his stomach falls silent and something else slams in its place.
Merlin almost gasps aloud, shivering as an entirely new sensation fills him, a completely different kind of itch.
Arthur sits up a little straighter. He’s not blind.
It’s not “Merlin, what are you doing here?” More of a “Merlin… Is this what I hope it is?”
Merlin lets the closing of the door and the engaging of the lock speak for him.
Arthur looks like he wants to leap out of the chair, but his will and ego alone keep him in check.
The young sorcerer is not trying to be sexy. He doesn’t saunter across the room with exaggerated hip motions or bite down on his plump bottom lip while glaring at Arthur from under hooded eyes.
He approaches him only as Merlin. Open, available, and… his.
For all of Merlin’s lack of intentional seduction, Arthur’s heart is still pounding painfully in his chest and every fiber of his being is desperate to claim him.
He forces himself to let Merlin make the first move (just in case he’s actually fallen asleep at the table and the flare of heat he feels burning through him is actually the forgotten candles setting the room on fire).
Merlin comes to stand between his knees and just as Arthur is starting to appreciate the view, he turns around and gives him something just as pretty to look at.
Arthur’s fingers twitch on the armrests, but he still doesn’t move. He is rewarded for his self-control with a lapful of warm and pliant Merlin. Then he can’t help winding his arms around his prize and pulling him down tight against his swelling arousal. He nuzzles the short hairs at Merlin’s nape and nips at the sweet juncture where neck meets shoulder, roughly manhandling the offending fabric still covering the slighter boy.
Merlin pushes back into the cradle of the prince’s hips and makes exposed little noises, giving Arthur free access to any part of him he wants. When Arthur realizes Merlin is offering everything to him, giving him permission to have Merlin in any way he desires, he nearly drags him to floor to take him right there.
The rare feeling of losing control is more frightening than it is stimulating and Arthur almost bites off his own tongue in order to focus on anything other than want, need, now, mine.
“I wouldn’t have expected this from you,” he says, his breathing labored but still managing complete sentences, “Not Mr. You-Can-Fetch-Your-Own-Damn-Wine-”
Merlin begging? Arthur almost cums right there.
“Don’t tease me tonight. I couldn’t bear it.”
The vulnerability in Merlin’s voice pierces even Arthur’s lust-hazed brain.
The prince sobers a bit, but doesn’t say anything. He presses his lips to Merlin’s shoulder instead in what the dark-haired boy suspects is part apology.
Merlin twists around to look at him. At this close proximity, neither can hide anything.
Arthur gazes into a raw desire that equals his own and gently caresses a cheek as flushed as his. The lust is still roiling in his belly, but his passion for this boy is so more.
“I need you,” Merlin whispers in the little shared space that is only theirs, “I need you everywhere inside me.”
Without any more words, Arthur takes Merlin to bed and proves he is worthy of the sorcerer’s faith in him.