Fic: Bird of the Gauntlet 13/21 (Merlin/Arthur, NC-17)
Genre: Adventure, Angst, Romance, D/s
Summary: It's hard enough being a powerful sorcerer in Camelot, but falling in love with the Crown Prince has its downsides. More than anything else, Merlin wants to earn Arthur's respect, yet without his magic he is nothing. But if he can learn to fight with a sword, if Arthur will teach him to be a knight, Merlin is certain that he can have it all. He can keep Arthur safe and earn his respect and his love. He won't have to lie to Arthur about his magic if he doesn't have to use it. But life in Camelot is a long gauntlet to run, with new threats at every turn. War looms on the horizon. And in the balance between love and duty, Merlin may have to make the hardest choice of all.
( Merlin must have sighed more loudly than he realized, because the next thing he knew there was the butt-end of a piece of bread bouncing off his face and landing with a splat in the dregs of his stew. Merlin looked up to see Arthur giving him a crooked smile, and he couldn't help but give an exasperated smile back. He picked up the bread and ate it pointedly, and Arthur responded to that by briefly sticking out his tongue in a very unkingly manner and then winking.
Merlin's smile broke into a grin, and he ducked his head, thinking that Arthur could be a bit wonderful sometimes. )