Word Count: 2435
Spoilers: Some slight spoilers for 2x01.
Warnings: Mild D/s, spanking, established relationship.
A/N: Written for inthekeyofd.
Summary: Merlin decides to follow orders for one afternoon.
"Merlin," Arthur says from the other side of the room.
Merlin's heart sinks. That tone usually means that he is about to be in a lot of trouble.
He smiles and hopes that it looks charming. "Yes, sire?" he asks.
"Get over here," Arthur says, fake-friendly. Merlin feels like a fish being tempted in by a lure. His feet are hesitant to move. "Now, Merlin. I haven't got all day."
He shuffles across the room, biting the inside of his bottom lip. He's fairly certain that he hasn't done anything extremely wrong today. Since the incident with Cedric, he's been more attentive than before and he's been trying his best. He has, really. He knows now that he has to take his destiny seriously; if he wants Arthur to keep him at his side where he can defend him, then he has to work hard at making sure Arthur has a reason to do so.
He's been trying.
He doesn't think that Arthur has noticed, but he has really been trying.
"What do you call this?" Arthur sighs once they are standing side by side.
Merlin looks down at the items spread across the table. It's the armour he'd spent the morning polishing.
His heart sinks an extra few inches.
"It's your armour, Arthur," he says with a grin. "You usually wear it while prodding other knights with swords. You must remember?"
"I know what it is," Arthur tells him. Merlin likes to think that the tightening of his lips is a sign of him trying not to smile. "I remember that I asked you to polish it."
"You did. And I have."
"Take a closer look," Arthur invites with a magnanimous gesture of his hand.
Merlin gets the feeling that this cannot end well. He peers closer at the breastplate. He can see his face in it. He hadn't realised he looked so pale. Maybe it's about time he spends more time out in the sun.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to be looking at," he complains eventually, because he doubts from Arthur's tone that he is supposed to be checking out his own reflection.
"There is a thumbprint," Arthur tell him, as if it ought to be obvious. "Look closer."
Merlin leans over the table until he is bent at almost a ninety degree angle. If he closes one eye and squints with the other one, he can almost see the offending smudge. "I really don't think anyone would notice. If they're this close while you're fighting, you're probably doing it wrong."
"There shouldn't be any thumbprints in the first place. A half-decent servant would know as much."
And a half-decent master would not be quite such a perfectionist, but Merlin keeps his mouth shut.
"Go on, then," Arthur says, crossing his arms over his chest. "Clean it off."
Merlin has to fight very hard not to scowl. He pulls his sleeve down over his hand and is about to use that to wipe the non-smudge away when he hears Arthur clucking with his tongue.
That cannot mean anything good.
"Not with your sleeve, Merlin," Arthur says joyfully; his voice sounds unsettlingly reminiscent of the way moments before Merlin had been forced to eat rat stew. He can still taste it in his mouth. "Lick it."
Merlin takes a moment to let that sink it, but it doesn't make any more sense after doing so. "I really don't think that would help."
"You aren't paid to think," Arthur points out. "You are paid to do as I say, and while you aren't especially good at any of the tasks at least you usually make a haphazard attempt. Go on."
Merlin rolls his eyes to signal his disapproval, but he lowers his head all the same and does as he's told. It tastes of metal and polish. He really wants a drink to wash the taste away. His tongue has only managed to make an even more noticeable mark there; perhaps this is proof that there is actually a reason why Arthur has to get servants to do the simplest of chores for him. If he tried to do it himself, he'd fail dramatically.
When he looks over his shoulder, Arthur is watching with wide, surprised eyes.
Merlin comes to the slow, dawning realisation that perhaps Arthur had been joking around. With him, it really is hard to tell sometimes.
"You didn't really expect me to do it, did you?" he asks with a weary air of certainty.
Arthur shakes his head. "I was trying to point out that you'd done a good job. For once."
"And your method of doing so was to criticise it?" Merlin says. Sometimes he wonders if Arthur has any brain at all or if all that's up there is prattishness and daydreams of sword-fighting.
Arthur gives a shrug as if it had been the logical thing to do. "Now you've gone and smeared the whole thing."
"Do you want me to lick that clean too?" Merlin asks sarcastically.
Arthur looks fairly tempted, however. The second-long pause as his eyes flick away is enough to be noticeable.
"Really?" Merlin can't help a dry laugh. "You are such a pervert."
"I am not!" Arthur protests, frustrated. "It's not like that."
Merlin raises his eyebrows. He thinks that he must be picking up some skills from Gaius in that department, because he manages to feel and look incredibly disapproving.
"I do not have a fetish for watching you lick armour," Arthur says. Merlin isn't entirely sure if he believes him, nor is he entirely sure if it is a fetish he would be willing to indulge for him. The armour tastes fairly disgusting. "You did as you were told, for once. I liked it."
"I always do as I'm told," Merlin protests. "Most of the time, anyway, when you're not asking me to do really stupid stuff."
'Licking armour' ought to fit into that category, really. Merlin is certain that, despite what Arthur likes to think, most servants wouldn't follow truly ridiculous orders.
Other than Cedric, of course. He would probably have fellated Arthur's sword if he was told to.
Merlin scowls. That really isn't a happy image.
"Let's get on with it, then," Merlin says, leaning down towards the breastplate once more.
Only Arthur's hand grabbing hold of his shoulder stops him. "What are you doing?" he asks.
Merlin stays bent over, but he grins. "I'm willing to play along at being the 'perfect servant' for a while, if you want," he offers. He thinks that he already is the perfect servant, considering how many times he has risked his life to save Arthur and how many times he has killed for him. Arthur doesn't know about half of that, however, and he seems willing to forget the rest. "Just for the afternoon, then we're back to normal."
If there is a single word to describe Arthur's expression at this moment, it is probably 'flabbergasted'.
"Or I could go and start mucking out the stables, if you'd prefer?"
"No," Arthur answers as fast as lightning. "Stay exactly where you are."
Merlin's smile has a sly twist to it, and he doesn't bother to hide it. He maintains his position, even when Arthur takes a pace closer to the table.
"Look at that, Merlin," Arthur says. His voice has dropped to a quiet murmur; it is the same tone that he uses when they are in bed together, and it causes an instinctive shiver to run down Merlin's spine. His hand reaches out and lands, softly, on Merlin's arse. "Look at the mess you've made of my armour."
Merlin looks down at the shining piece of armour in front of him. He can see the mark from his tongue there. "That was bad of me, wasn't it?" he asks. It's hard to keep a straight face.
"Very bad," Arthur agrees, and his voice has dropped low and his hand is moving in a slow circle over Merlin's ass and, yeah, suddenly it's not so difficult to keep from smiling. Merlin's breath shivers on the way in. "I really should teach you a lesson. Any other master would have done so a thousand times over by now."
"But not you," Merlin says.
"Not until now," Arthur confirms.
And Merlin knows that other servants have been fired for fewer and lesser mistakes than he makes on a daily basis, but something tells him that that isn't exactly what Arthur has in mind.
"I'm going to make sure you can't sit down for the rest of the week," Arthur threatens.
Well, go on then, Merlin thinks, but he holds his tongue. This is Arthur's game. If he wants to play around and make threats and beat his chest like a wild gorilla first, Merlin has to try his hardest not to complain. It is extremely hard, though.
The pay-off is almost worth it when Arthur finally does what he's clearly been gearing himself up for. His hand pulls back from Merlin's backside and slaps back down. It's light, almost painless, as if he is giving Merlin the space to back out. Realistically, Merlin knows that he ought to. Their relationship is already complicated by confusing power dynamics without adding games like this to the mess, but he closes his eyes all the same: he gives Arthur his unspoken permission to continue.
It's harder next time, and Merlin's hips jerk with the impact.
"Look at it," Arthur instructs when Merlin begins to glance over his shoulder at him. "Look at what you did."
It's really what Arthur made him do, but Merlin turns his head to look down at the armour while his hands remained braced against the table top. Arthur's hand swings down again and the sound is a dull thud, softened by the material of Merlin's trousers. He grunts at the feeling of it, because there's true strength behind Arthur's palm now. They're moving beyond the warm-up.
"Trousers down," Arthur orders, and Merlin can tell that he is working hard to make himself sound bored and above it all. It is the same tone that he uses whenever he checks that Merlin is alright, or whenever he asks Merlin to spend the night with him. He talks as if the outcome doesn't matter, even when Merlin knows how important it is to him.
He doesn't waste time in loosening his trousers and pushing them down his thighs along with his underwear. The material rubs over the reddening skin of his behind as it goes past and produces a bizarre shiver from him when it does. He's hard already, and he isn't surprised when Arthur reaches around his body to take his dick into his hand. Two strokes leave him moaning, aching for more, but he knows that isn't the point. Arthur wouldn't have said as much, but Merlin knows that he was checking that he was hard: he wants to know that he isn't the only one into this, and that Merlin isn't pretending to enjoy it for Arthur's benefit.
Maybe there's a small element of that, but when Arthur's hand smacks down against his bare skin he can't help the genuine shiver that ripples down his back. It stings through him and he can feel it to his core, something that is reinforced when Arthur does it again. His hand is fast now, switching sides and targets constantly. Merlin imagines Arthur engaging the military side of his brain for this, thinking out strategies of how best to break down his defences, and he wants to laugh at being approached like a griffin - but all that comes out is a long exhale of air that wants to be a moan but can't find the sound.
Arthur is breathless himself when he speaks again. "Touch yourself," he says. "I want you to come."
Merlin can barely stifle a yelp from an extra-sharp blow, but once his mind is cooperating he lifts one hand from the table and reaches down to his cock where it stands straight and hard. His hand wraps around it and he already feels close to the end. He catches Arthur's rhythm and strokes himself in time with the punishment of Arthur's hand.
His hand is tight and the grip is desperate. His ass burns and aches and he knows that it will hurt like hell for the next few days - but, right now, he can't care. Over the loud sound of the spanking being delivered he can hear Arthur's panting and when he closes his eyes he can imagine the way that Arthur must look right now, red-faced and flushed from the effort of holding himself back and not merely fucking Merlin over the table. He moans again at the very thought and his thumb swipes over the head of his cock, playing with it. One more hard hit is enough for him and his hips buck forward: he climaxes with an open-mouthed cry that leaves him hoping that there is nobody in the corridor outside who might be able to hear.
Arthur stops the swinging of his hand right away. He takes to stroking over the abused skin instead, soothing and apologising without a word.
Merlin rests flat against the table, leaning on top of the uncomfortable armour that he spent so long cleaning. It will all need to be redone after he's made a mess of it, but at the moment he is too spent to care.
Arthur leans over him and presses a gentle kiss against Merlin's spine through the rough material of his shirt. "Are you okay?" he asks - and he sounds genuinely concerned, as if he feels safe, in a way, to allow his emotions to show when Merlin is too blissed-out to pay much attention. Merlin stores that tone in his memory for future reference all the same; he can call on it later when he is angry at Arthur and wondering why he bothers with his 'destiny' anyway.
"Fine," Merlin answers, happy and stress-free. He can feel the way that Arthur is working hard to keep his hips away with no contact between them; that must mean that he has a true beauty of an erection that he doesn't want to bother Merlin with yet. "You want me to finish you off?" he offers.
Arthur laughs quietly against Merlin's back before he straightens up and shoves lightly at his shoulder. "Of course - but when I say so. I'm not done with you yet, Merlin."
Merlin can't help but grin to himself as he anticipates what Arthur's next move in this game might be. Whatever it is, the armour can be forgotten for now. He can tell that they are going to have an extremely fun afternoon.