Day 12

Title: Day 12
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Merlin
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Merlin/Arthur
Disclaimer: Not my characters. I wish they were mine. I definitely don’t get paid for this.
Summary: When Arthur has a cold, they head off together from the castle. What they find the first night is not what either expected.
Notes: Written during my 12 Ficlets in 12 Days in 2018-19 project project for Mr. Tea.


“Bless you,” Merlin cast over his shoulder as he stuffed the last shirt into the already bursting full pack. This was what they did every time Arthur caught a cold now: Merlin packed and off they went on what everyone was told would be a noble adventure for the good of the kingdom. But it was really just an excuse to get far enough away that Arthur's embarrassment over his loud sneezes wouldn't be noticed. “Think we can wait to leave until the morning?”

Merlin was exhausted. One last night in bed sounded glorious—proper pillows and blankets, an endless supply of handkerchiefs, and a nearby kitchen staff who could bring them tea and soup any time they needed it.


This must be an especially bad head cold. Arthur's sneezes were getting stronger already. They couldn't wait until the morning. “All right,” Merlin said with a sigh, slinging the bag over his shoulder. “Let's go now.”

Arthur nodded, pulling himself up off the bed. Merlin had gotten him up and dressed him earlier, but he had curled back up on top of the bed they shared until Merlin was finished packing. He took with him the top blanket, wrapping it around his shoulders like a cape, but Merlin eyed him. “I know the plan was to head out in the dead of night so fewer people would see, but there are still guards on duty, Arthur, and that looks like a blanket, not a cloak.” Grumbling and sniffling, Arthur threw it off and followed Arthur out of the chambers.

The king rubbed or held a finger under his nose the entire time they navigated the castle halls, trying to keep himself from sneezing again. He was only mostly successful. “Hahhh!” Hearing the build-up start, Merlin stopped in place and turned on the spot. He pulled Arthur to him, forcing Arthur to bury his nose in Merlin's chest. “HUHHHHCHFFFFFFF!

Merlin rubbed Arthur’s back and stroked his hair, but otherwise held tight in case Arthur's nose had intentions of making it a double or triple. But when it seemed to want to stop at just the one sneeze, Merlin released the man. “Bless you.” His voice was a little shaky, probably due to his pounding heart and the intense heat he felt in a lower region of his body. Arthur hadn't just sneezed on him; Arthur had sneezed into him. Using his own body to muffle the sneeze had felt, well, magical.

Arthur sniffled and nodded his appreciation. Then they continued along the corridors, Merlin leading the way in case they ran into someone and Arthur tucking a finger under his tickly nose.

The stable hand on duty had their horses ready when they arrived, so they made quick work of attaching their bedrolls and packs to the saddles before mounting the steeds. From there, the trip out of the castle was effortless. They passed three separate guard stations, all of which waved them right through. It was always far easier to leave the castle than it was to enter.

“Merlin?” came Arthur's weak voice when they were a decent way from the castle and the houses surrounding it.

“Hmm?” Merlin glanced back. Their horses moved forward with a trotting pace.

“I really have to sneeze. I c-can't... hold it... b-back… any hahhh any longer.” Merlin pulled back on the reins of his horse and dug his heels in a little. His horse slowed to a stop, and Arthur's behind him did the same. Merlin dismounted and helped Arthur get down safely. Arthur's eyes were already closed. His breath was hitching. He was absolutely gorgeous like this. “hahhhh! HAHHH!

“Which do you want: a handkerchief or a hug?” Merlin asked.

Arthur held his arms out in a hugging sort of gesture, even though it very easily could have been interpreted as wanting two handkerchiefs, one for each hand. Merlin knew him better than that, though. And, thankfully, Arthur knew Merlin as well. He knew Merlin loved this more than anything else in the world. He knew Merlin would never turn down an opportunity to be close when Arthur was feeling particularly sneezy. So Merlin wrapped his arms around Arthur, pulling the strong man to his chest again not a moment too soon. “HAHHH-HUHSHHOOOOO! HAHH-HUHSHFFFFFF! HAHKURSCHHFFFFFFF!

“Oh, bless you,” Merlin said affectionately, dropping a kiss on Arthur's head. “Got a couple more in you?” Merlin tried not to sound hopeful in that, but he failed. And he could hear Arthur's breath hitching again.

“So many... many more,” Arthur whispered. He gripped a bit of Merlin's shirt fabric in one fist, tensing up again. “HAHHH HAHHH-URSCHHHFFFFFFF! Hahhhhhhhhh... HAHHHHHH-HURSCHHFFFF! HUHSHHMMMPHHHHHHH!” Merlin felt this one hit him hard, and he couldn't help his physical reaction to it. He moaned softly, pressing his crotch against Arthur's thigh. Never before had he been so glad he told Arthur about his interest, because Arthur pressed back, even as he sneezed. “HAHH-IHHSCHHHFFFFFF! HURR-UHSCHFFFFFFF!

“Maybe... we should stop for the night?”

Arthur nodded tiredly. “Not sure... I'll be able to do much... HAHHH... except sneeze though. HAHHH-AHSHHHFFFFF!

“That's all you need to do,” Merlin assured him, pulling away only to go for their things.


Merlin lay out on one of the bedrolls, naked and spent and hazy from the bliss he always felt after being with Arthur. Arthur sat beside him, blowing his nose into a handkerchief. His blows were fairly loud, but they were nothing compared to his sneezes. “Hahhh... AHHH-HATCHHOOOO!” From out of one of the nearby trees flew a handful of birds, frightened by the sound. Arthur grumbled at them and blew his nose again. “I hate this.”

“You shouldn’t,” Merlin said, sitting up and putting a hand on Arthur's back. “Your sneezes are amazing.”

“You only say that because my... m-m-my-HAHHH... HAH-URSCHOOOOOO! Because my sneezes make you hot.”

“No, I say it because you're—” And though Merlin was going to say perfect, which wasn't completely truthful, he didn't have the chance. Nearby, the bushes rustled and, as Arthur lunged for his sword, an elegant, white horse leapt out. It jumped over the bushes, easily clearing Merlin’s and Arthur’s heads, and landed gracefully just beyond them. It flicked its tail at them once, and then it slowly turned on the spot, its hooves clopping on the firm ground, presenting itself to them. Not a horse. Not remotely a horse.  

“Merlin? Am I feverish, or are you seeing a unicorn, too?”

Merlin's heart was racing. “There's a unicorn. There's an actual unicorn.” It was a brilliant, pure white apart from tail and mane which were a shimmering gold to match its prominent horn. Merlin found Arthur's hand and squeezed it. Arthur's hand trembled in his. It was then Merlin realized that Arthur's entire body was shaking. “Arthur...”

Arthur wasn't listening; he only had eyes for the magical creature in front of him, not knowing that the man he had just shared a bed roll with was magical as well. Arthur pulled his hand free and stood up to face the unicorn. He stepped forward. So did the unicorn. Their heads were just inches apart. Arthur reached up to touch its horn. Unbelievably, it did not pull away. His fingers curled, getting into position, and the unicorn still did not pull away. It was almost as if the unicorn had come there just for him. But that was impossible, wasn't it? How could it have known they would be there?

His fingertips made contact with the horn, then his hand wrapped around. And, suddenly, he was holding it. Just like that, he had earned a wish, assuming the legends were true.

True enough, magic visibly surged around him, tingling every part of him, including his nose. Quickly, Arthur pressed two fingers under his twitching nose. He didn't want to sneeze and ruin this moment. One of his terribly loud sneezes would surely frighten the unicorn off.

At once, the unicorn's white body glowed a pale gold. It reared back on its hind legs with a hauntingly gentle whinny. Then it galloped away at full speed, vanishing into the woods as quickly as it had appeared.

Merlin looked as confused as he felt. “But you didn't even get to make your wish.”

“I...” Arthur didn't look confused, though; he looked a little embarrassed, but definitely not confused. He understood what had happened.

Going cold, Merlin started to understand as well. His eyes opened. “What did you just do, Arthur?” Arthur didn't reply, but his face flushed a little. His heart pounding for an entirely different reason now, Merlin asked again. He tried and failed to keep the panic from his voice. “What did you wish?”

Arthur dropped his hand to his side, no longer needing it under his nose, and refused to meet Merlin's gaze.


There was silence between them as they made their way back to the castle. Merlin was preoccupied with the battle raging inside him between emotion and reason, and Arthur was busy not sneezing.

When they got to the castle, Merlin took charge of the horses, and Arthur hovered in the stables a moment with him, breathing deeply as if just to show off how he could. Merlin carried the king's bags through the halls after him, trying to stay professional, trying not to let his emotions run away with him. But as soon as he'd dropped the bags, he turned right back around to leave.

“Where are you going?” Arthur asked, collapsing onto his bed with a delighted sigh. He kicked off his boots, and they dropped heavily to the floor. CLUMP. CLUMP. Apparently it wasn't all loud sounds Arthur had a problem with... just one.

“Going to go check on Gaius.” It was a flimsy, transparent excuse, but it was the only one he could think of at the moment. Any more explanation and he risked shedding tears, which he refused to do in front of the king. “If you'll excuse me, I'll take my leave.”

“Merlin!” Arthur called as Merlin headed straight out the door. “Wait, Merlin!” Arthur called again as Merlin pretended not to hear. He headed down the hallway, not pausing even to look back once at his friend, his lover, his king.

Gaius was, to say the least, surprised at Merlin's arrival. He blinked at the young man several times, watching him stumble in, change into an old nightshirt, and fall into bed. “Well,” he said, glancing at the stove. “I guess you wouldn't be interested in breakfast then?”

Merlin pushed himself up on his forearms and looked over. Strips of bacon sizzled in one pan, and in another were several eggs. His stomach rumbled at the mere sight. “I could eat.”

Gaius smiled. “Course you could. C'mon, get two plates out.”

As Merlin set the table for breakfast, he was aware of Gaius watching him. But the kind, old man did not ask a single question. He did not demand to know why Merlin was here, when Merlin hadn't slept here in over a year. He did not ask how the king was feeling, even though he knew the king had been fighting off a cold yesterday. He didn't even ask Merlin if he wanted seconds, just spooned an extra helping of potatoes onto Merlin's plate.

“Can I... can I stay here for a little while?” Merlin asked, looking down at his plate, jabbing his fork repeatedly into the runny, yellow middle of an egg.

“That's still your bed. Stay as long as you need to, lad,” Gaius replied. “Though I might have to put you to work. There's a pretty bad cold going around the village and the castle grounds. I've got treatments to deliver, and keeping up with the demand has been quite a challenge.”

Merlin lifted his head and regarded the healer for a moment. He was fairly certain that Gaius knew about his relationship with Arthur, but he didn't think Gaius knew about his interest in sneezing. Maybe this was just a wild coincidence. Regardless, it would be a good way to fill his days, feel useful, and keep his mind off Arthur Pendragon. That was exactly what Merlin needed just now. “I'm at your disposal. I’d love to help out.”


Gaius hadn't been kidding. This cold seemed everywhere. Practically half of Camelot had come down with it. Gaius had given him a list as long as a sheet of parchment containing columns of names of sufferers. Merlin was so busy running remedies here and there that he barely had time to enjoy hearing so many sneezes... though he did find a little time for that.

The one place his deliveries did not take him was Arthur's chambers, however, because Arthur's cold was completely gone. Terrible one moment then gone the next. Just like magic. Because it was magic. And Merlin had never hated magic more.

But, most of all, he hated himself for thinking that. Who was he to insist Arthur feel miserable or embarrassed or ill just so that Merlin could get a bit of a thrill? He felt selfish and upset with himself. If he truly loved Arthur—and he thought that he did—he should love him whether he was sneezy or not. Merlin knew this, deep down. And he knew that Arthur still loved him, too. But the fact still remained that just minutes after they'd made love, minutes after Arthur had sneezed so much Merlin had had what was probably the best time of his life, Arthur had taken the very first opportunity to wish it all away. Just like that. No more cold. No more sneezing. No more of Merlin coming just from listening to him sneeze. No more holding handkerchiefs to Arthur's nose and feeling the power and strength of Arthur's massive sneezes into them. No more making him tea and wrapping him in blankets when Arthur was full of sniffles. And no more sharing this secret between them, the second-to-last secret Merlin had left in him.

Somehow, that made Merlin's own magical abilities feel more exposed. Without their intimacy and play to hide behind, Merlin wasn't confident he could hide his magic from Arthur for much longer. There had been so very many close calls already.

ihhh-HIPTShhhhhhhhh!” The wet sneeze was muffled behind the thick, wooden door. But the door Merlin had knocked on opened soon enough, revealing a man with a handsome face and a cherry red nose. “Aye?”

Merlin held out the small satchel and tried to keep his tone steady. “From Gaius. A spoonful of this in your tea three times a day should help.”

The man took it and stared at it. Then he quickly buried his nose in a giant, white handkerchief. “ihhhh-Hummshffffffff!” He massaged his nose a little through the folds, snuffled, and lifted his head again. “Excuse be.”

Merlin nodded. His mouth had gone dry, but he could still nod. He wanted to tell the man to feel better. He wanted to offer to give him a quick examination, as Gaius' assistant. He wanted to throw the man down on the bed and have at him. But all he did was nod until the door was shut in his face.

Ihhhh-HIHPTttttxxxxxxx!” The man sneezed from the other side of the door, clearly having abandoned the use of the handkerchief the moment he was alone again.

Merlin longed to be alone now. Perhaps he could find a closet or something nearby?


Merlin jumped, startled, and turned to see Lancelot, Gwaine, and Percival heading his way. Quickly, he readjusted the satchel filled with bottles, powders, and herbs to cover the prominent bulge in his britches. He put on a smile and worked on recovering his voice. A couple swallows and a clearing of his throat seemed to do it. “Good day,” Merlin said, with a dip of his head that showed respect for three Knights of Camelot.

“Just the man we were looking for,” Lancelot said, briefly eyeing the satchel knowingly.

“Me?” Merlin asked. “Oh, don't tell me the three of you have caught this cold, too.”

“Oh, no no,” Gwaine said, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest. “We’re healthy as horses. But we're here about Arthur.”

“Arthur?” Merlin's voice cracked as if he were seven years younger. “Is he... all right?”

“To tell you the truth,” said Percival, “He's bloody miserable.”

“He's... what?” Merlin's heart skipped a beat before he reminded himself that didn't mean anymore what it used to mean.

Lancelot explained, “Oh, he won't come out and say it, but he misses you.”

“He's a wreck without you,” said Percival.

“A disaster, really,” said Gwaine.

Merlin gripped the strap of his satchel so tightly his knuckles went white. With his other hand, he rubbed the back of his neck. “Uh, I'm sorry... to hear that.”

After Gwaine elbowed Percival in the side, Percival added, “He won't get dressed.”

And Gwaine escalated it to, “He won't even get out of bed.”

Merlin sighed and raised a hand, motioning for them to stop before their version of Arthur turned into some codependent, drooling baby. “I understand what you're trying to do here, and I appreciate it. But Arthur's a big boy. He can dress himself without my help. I don't—”

“He wants you back,” Lancelot blurted out, interrupting Merlin. Merlin fell silent. “He's simply too proud to say it.”

“He's too proud for a lot of things these days, it seems,” Merlin muttered under his breath.

Reaching over, Lancelot put a hand on Merlin's shoulder. “Look, we don't know what happened, and we're not asking you to tell us. We are just trying to say that Arthur's not himself without you. We want our brave, strong king back. We want him happy—“

“And dressed!” put in Percival.

Lancelot smiled amusedly and squeezed Merlin's shoulder. “And we want to see you happy as well. That's all.”

That's all. As if that wasn't the entire world right now. Happiness in the face of what had happened, what Arthur had done, was impossible for Merlin to imagine. In a matter of seconds, he had gone from such bliss to such despair, and it had been entirely Arthur's choice.

“If Arthur truly wants me back as his...” Merlin hesitated. The knights knew. He and Arthur shared a tent and a bed roll when they were all off on some adventure to save Camelot. Sometimes he and Arthur would sneak kisses, and sometimes the kisses they exchanged weren't sneaky at all. So the knights had to know. But knowing and saying were two very different things. “If Arthur Pendragon wants me back as his servant, he knows where to find me.”

And, with that, Merlin headed off down the hallway. It didn't matter that he was a servant or an errand boy; he carried himself with poise and dignity, his head held high and chest puffed out, even as he realized he was walking in the wrong direction to get to the next name on the list Gaius had drawn up for him.


Arthur didn't ask if he could come into Gaius' room. This was his kingdom, his castle. He didn't need to ask. He stormed in and walked right over to Merlin. Arthur opened his mouth, realized he wasn't sure what to say, and closed it again.

But Merlin had more than enough words for the both of them. “Looks like you managed to get yourself dressed without my help.”

Confused, Arthur's eyes narrowed and brow furrowed.

“Though just barely. You look an absolute mess.” Merlin turned and ran a hand through Arthur's mussed hair. Stubble on his chin. A wrinkled shirt. Bags under his eyes.

“I'm not eating,” Arthur confessed. “I'm not sleeping.”

Frowning back, Merlin went through the cupboards, gathering things. He set a plate down on the small, wooden table and pointed at the bread, apple, and chunk of cheese on it. “You must eat.”

Arthur stared at it but didn't move toward it.

With a sigh, Merlin circled around Arthur, took him by the shoulders, and marched him over to the table. A little extra pressure pushed him down onto the bench seat, but Arthur didn't touch the food until Merlin settled down beside him. Then he reluctantly raised his hand, poked at the slightly stale bread, and tore a piece off. Merlin leaned into his side. “Eat,” Merlin whispered again. “Please.”

Arthur took a deep breath and popped the piece of bread in his mouth. It seemed to take all his energy to chew and swallow. When he was done with that tiny bite, Merlin pulled a piece of cheese off the chunk and handed it to Arthur to eat next. The king was overly dramatic as he took it and forced himself to choke it down, but Merlin wasn't feeling sympathetic. He had seen Arthur stand up to whole armies. He had seen Arthur face his own death. Having to eat some bread and cheese was not the hardship the king was making it out to be.

“You know, getting a wish fulfilled is supposed to make you happy.”

“I thought I would. I really did. It feels so good to not have to sneeze anymore.”

Merlin pursed his lips and held his tongue. He knew how he wanted to reply to that, but he didn't dare. The words hit him hard, though, a pang right to his heart.

“I was just so tired of sneezing these huge, embarrassingly loud sneezes...”

“I thought you liked sneezing for me.”

Arthur put down the apple he had been thinking about eating and turned to look at Merlin. “And I thought you loved me, not my sneezes.”

This hit even harder. It hurt Merlin to hear this. Because he knew Arthur was absolutely right. “I do love you. It's just... sometimes I hate you. If you call me another name in front of your knights or make me wash your underwear one more time...”

Arthur laughed. Before he knew what he was doing, he had torn another bit of bread off and popped it into his mouth. It was starting to get easier for him to eat, which was a good sign at least. But Merlin still stuck to his side. “We should talk,” Arthur said, taking some cheese now. “Or... more than talk?”

“Let's start with talking,” Merlin said, “And we'll see where that goes.“ He reached out and took Arthur's hand, giving it a squeeze. Arthur squeezed it back. It wasn't much, but it was a start. “So... you really aren't sneezing anymore?”

“I'm not!” Arthur said. “I couldn't even if I tried!” He looked around and spotted a small bottle on the far side of the table. Arthur stood a little in order to grab it.


“I can't sneeze.”

“No, but you'll wish you could.”

Arthur paused, thinking. “I think I've had enough of wishes.” And, before Merlin could stop himself, he poured a bunch of the black pepper into his palm, buried his nose in it, and inhaled deeply. He paused a moment, grinning. “See? I'm not sne—ohhhhhhh!” His forehead creased, shoulders tensed, mouth turned down, eyebrows rose and fell, nostrils flared. But, true to his wish, he did not sneeze. He could not sneeze. “Sh-shit!”

Merlin pulled off the red bandanna around his neck and held it up to Arthur's nose, squeezing with just a little bit of pressure. “Quick: blow your nose!”

It took a couple times for Arthur to get a big enough breath. But he finally managed to blow his nose. He winced as he did. “It burns!”

Merlin jumped to his feet and pulled Arthur up by the arm. He guided his pathetic, snuffling king over to a basin of water and dunked Arthur's head in there. Arthur expelled a breath underwater and pulled his head out, coughing. Merlin pressed the bandanna to his nose again for more and more blows.

Finally, Arthur relaxed. “That's better.” He raised his hand and rubbed the back across his nose. “Still burns a little.”

“Of course it does! You snorted pepper up your nose, you idiot.”

Arthur puffed up. “Are you calling your king an idiot?”

Merlin bit his lower lip hard, but even that couldn't stop him from smiling. “I'm calling my lover an idiot.”

Arthur softened and wrapped his arms around Merlin's waist. “Will you come back to our chambers?”

Nodding, Merlin leaned forward and kissed Arthur's nose. It might not be able to sneeze ever again, but it was still Arthur's nose, and it would still need his attention from time to time, just as Arthur himself would. Merlin thought he could live with that.


Merlin lay naked on his back, spread out on their bed, trying to catch his breath. He felt Arthur's strong arm slide under his shoulders and pull him close, but his body was floppy, spent, exhausted. They'd made love for longer than ever before, again and again, unable to quench their desire even as their bodies gave out with exhaustion. Merlin rolled into Arthur's sweaty chest, inhaling deeply and exhaling such that it tickled Arthur's skin, nipple. Arthur gave a shiver and hugged Merlin closer with both arms now. “Not so bad?”

“Never bad,” Merlin whispered.

They lay like that a while, recovering, enjoying each other, and basking their post-coital bliss. 

Finally, Merlin broke the long silence. “Are you really happy with your wish? You could have wished for anything when you touched that unicorn's horn. You could have wished for safety for your people or an end to famines or...”

“To end the terrible scourge of magic once and for all in my kingdom?”

Merlin quickly glossed over that. “My point is, you could have wished for anything. But just seconds after you sneezed for me and made me feel so special and loved, you wished to never do it again.”

“I can still make you feel loved.”

“I know,” said Merlin, sliding his fingertips along Arthur's bare chest and forearm. “And I do. But...”

“But you still want an answer.”

“Mmmm.” Merlin nodded against Arthur's chest and closed his eyes. He genuinely wanted to know, needed to know. But he wasn't sure he could handle the answer.

One of Arthur's hand started rubbing up and down his back. “The truth is, I wish that I'd never made that wish.” A second later, Arthur's breath caught. “Oh... hello there.” He looked down as Merlin pressed his hardening cock against Arthur's thigh again. “Did I say the right thing, finally?”

Merlin grinned, nodded, and kissed him. 


Merlin lost track of how many times they made love that night. Counting that would have detracted from how good each time had felt. And every time Merlin came, the idea of Arthur sneezing for him was as far from his mind as it could be.

Neither of them knew what the time was when they finally fell asleep. The fire had long died in the hearth. The sounds of people walking through to corridors had long since vanished. And so neither of them knew the time when Arthur woke up and started to shake Merlin awake as well. “Merlin!”

For one brief moment, Merlin thought he might open his eyes to see a unicorn somehow magically inside the castle, standing beside their bed, tilting its horn again in Arthur’s direction. Instead, he opened his eyes to see something even more magical, even more beautiful to his eyes: Arthur's nose was twitching. “What...?” Merlin scrubbed his hand over his face, trying to wake himself up. “Did you snort more pepper? Feathers from the pillows, maybe?”

“N-no!” Arthur rubbed a couple fingers under his nose. “Honest, I just woke up feeling like I h-ahh-AHHHHH had to sn-sn-sn-sneee... heeeeee... HAHHHH... HAHHHHHH-HURTSCHHHH!

They both looked surprised—shocked even. This should not be happening. True, no one knew much about unicorn magic, but Merlin had never heard of it wearing off for no reason. But, then, he'd never heard of anyone unwishing their wish either. 

“I... I have this tickle in... in... HAA-URSCHHH! HURSHOOOO!” Arthur cupped his hand over his nose. “Id by dose. HAHHHHH... HAHHH-AHSHOOO! HAHSCHOOO! HURTSHOOOO!

Merlin tumbled out of bed. It took him almost a full minute to find their bags from the other night, where he'd stashed every handkerchief they had between them. In his depressed state, Arthur hadn't bothered unpacking those bags. Climbing back onto the bed, Merlin handed over the handkerchief.

Arthur took one look at it, glanced at Merlin's expression, and then refused to take the handkerchief. “H-h-hhhhh-hold it for be. HAHH! I've got to... got to...” He leaned over, dropping his hand from his face and getting his nose as close to the handkerchief as he could. His hand shaking slightly, Merlin met him the rest of the way, pressing the handkerchief to Arthur's wet nose just in time. “HAHHH-AHHHSHHHHHH! Hahhh-HIHTCHOOO! HEHHSHOOOO! HEHH... heh-EHHHHTCHOO! HEHHSHMMMPHHHHHHHH!

A thrill passed through Merlin, a thrill he'd already given up hope of ever feeling again with Arthur, told himself he didn’t really need. But here he was again, holding a handkerchief up to Arthur's sneezing nose.Merlin couldn’t have been happier.  And Arthur couldn't stop sneezing. Poor Arthur.


Poor, poor Arthur. “Can I do something else to help?” Merlin asked. “Is this an allergy? Should we get the window open, get you out into the fresh air maybe?” What if this wasn't an allergy? What if this was some sort of magical retaliation? What if Arthur never stopped sneezing again?

Arthur shook his head and forced his eyes open to meet Merlin's worried gaze. “I... I... hahhh-HAHHHHHHSHOOOO!” The extremely loud sneeze filled the chamber. Arthur pulled back a little. “Put your fingers... HAHHH! Under m-my... my n-nohhh-nose.” Quickly, Merlin did as he was told, pressing two fingers hard up against Arthur's wet, wildly flaring nostrils. This never stopped Arthur's sneezes for very long, but it would help for as long as it would take for him to get a few more words out. “I th-think my cold is back. Sniff! I don't feel so good.”

“Oh, Arthur. I'm so sorry.”

Arthur's eyebrows went up, questioning briefly. But when he studied Merlin's expression, he relaxed again. Merlin really was sorry.

“I know you don't like your loud sneezes.”

 “Y-yuh-you like them, though?”

Merlin nodded.

“You luh-luhhhhh-love them?”

Merlin nodded again, cheeks a bit warmer than usual.

So Arthur reached up, took hold of Merlin's wrist, and lowered Merlin's hand to his lap. Arthur's nose twitched and Arthur's hand found Merlin's cock. “G-g-guh-good. Because I… I… h-hahhh-have to… HAHHHH... HAHHHHHHH... HAHHHHARSHOOOOO! HAHHSHOOOO! HURTSHOOOOOO!

Merlin gasped happily as Arthur's hand wrapped around his cock and began stroking.

HAHHH-URTSCHHHHHH! HURSCHHHHHH! HAHHHSHOOOO! HAHHHHHH! HAHHHHHH-ARSHOOOO!” It almost seemed like Arthur was sneezing louder than ever before for him on purpose. Merlin didn't last long at all.

And when he was done, he pulled Arthur to him, wrapping his arms around Arthur. It hadn't even been an hour, but they'd switched places again. Rubbing his hand up and down Arthur's back, he asked. “We're still packed from before. Did you want to head back out into the countryside?”

Arthur considered for a moment then shook his head.

“People will hear you sneeze.”

“I dod't sniff I dod't care. Sniff! Berlid? By dose is ruddig.”

Merlin held the handkerchief for him and applied just enough pressure through its folds to help him blow. “Better?”

Arthur nodded and snuggled back against Merlin's hot and sweaty chest. It only took a few seconds for him to need to sneeze again. “hah... HAH-UFFTSHHHHHH!

Merlin's skin tingled as the sneeze struck it. It felt wonderful, but it wasn't soft. “Are you sure? Your sneezes are loud. Everyone's going to hear them.”

HUHHH... HUH-HURSHOOOO! As long as you hear them, I don't care who else does.”

Merlin's heart soared. He pulled a blanket over and wrapped it around Arthur to keep him warm. Then he pulled Arthur down onto the bed, snuggling down into the pillows and blankets of their bed in order to try to sleep this time. As Arthur laid his head upon Merlin's chest and Merlin stroked his hair affectionately, Merlin made his own wish. He didn't think he would need to track down a unicorn in order for it to come true.