Samhain has arrived.
"Samhain...It is the time of year when we feel closest to the spirits of our ancestors. It is the time to remember those that we have lost…to celebrate their passing," Arthur Pendragon's speech rang clearly through the dining hall, the knights, servants and nobles listening to their King's every word. It was the same speech that Merlin had written for Arthur and somehow, when those same words flowed from Arthur's lips, so passionately-they became something much more. Merlin could see the great King that his friend had become and it filled him with pride. "To our ancestors!"
"To our ancestors!" The audience echoed, raising their goblets up high in a toast to the spirits. Gwaine lifted his goblet up so fast that half of the red wine inside got sloshed over the rim. The sight of it was so similar to the blood Merlin craved that the vampire felt his thirst for it drastically increase. He felt a wave of dizziness wash over him as something twisted painfully in his stomach. His fangs threatened to lengthen without his say while a red haze crept around the edges of his vision.
It was unlike anything he had experienced during the past few days, the need to bite something was all too much. Merlin's throat felt dry, making swallowing a painful experience and he just knew that no liquid but human blood could make it all go away.
No he couldn't…Arthur would…
As much as he had to leave before he would do something he would regret, Merlin still needed to be there at the feast to serve Arthur. Merlin shifted the pitcher of watered wine into a more comfortable position as he waited for Arthur's cup to empty. The longer he stood the harder Merlin found it to concentrate on serving. His unfocused gaze drifted from Arthur's goblet on the table to the pitcher in his hands and the liquid inside it. He watched as the swirling wine morphed into a thicker, more viscous scarlet liquid.
A hand landed on one of Merlin's shoulders and he flinched, jolting him out of his stupor. Merlin looked over his shoulder to see Gaius standing behind him, concern written across his weathered face. The wrinkled hand steered him away from the table where the feast was taking place, his mind distantly registering Gaius' voice and Arthur's as he excused them. As they walked, Merlin felt as though his mind was detached from his body, his feet moving without him feeling them.
At some point, Merlin wasn't sure when, his foggy mind recognised that the two of them had made it back to Gaius' chambers. Merlin felt something cold pressing against his lips accompanied by a distant clink of something else-something solid-which had bumped against the object (his fangs?). A sweet scent entered his nose, something that he desired?
Blood? Not human blood…A sense of disappointment lurched inside him, clawing wrathfully at the back of his throat.
"Human…blood…urgh…" Merlin rasped, someone's hand entered his vision and pushed the goblet away from his lips. Seconds later, it clicked in his mind like a missing puzzle piece that the hand he had saw belonged to him.
"No, Merlin, you cannot have any while you are like this. Drink this, it would help," a familiar voice instructed from somewhere beside him.
"But 'S not human blood…" he growled. Crimson eyes flicking towards the source of the nearby voice where a fuzzy, vaguely human blur resided, "You're human…why not give me…yours?" Merlin titled his head, eyes lingering on the old man's neck.
"Merlin!" The voice admonished. "You are not yourself! If I let you have my blood you would come to regret it later once you have returned to your senses."
"Regret it? But I'm so…so thirsty," groused Merlin, smacking his lips.
"Oh my boy…I know," the voice replied as the goblet returned to its place under his nose. "Drink," and Merlin reluctantly did as he was told. The instant the animal blood flushed into his mouth, the fog cleared from Merlin's mind as his eyes focused on Gaius' worried face.
"Oh. Gaius…I-" Merlin coughed before starting again, "You were right…Gaius. I'm sorry that I tried to… tried to…"
"It's all right, my boy, I understand," reassured Gaius, he patted Merlin's arm.
"Thanks for…you know," Merlin said, gesturing to himself and the goblet of animal blood.
"You're welcome, Merlin," Gaius replied, smiling gently.
"What about the feast? Has it finished yet?" Merlin questioned, suddenly remembering their abrupt departure from it.
"No, not yet. You were only gone for half an hour," Gaius answered and one of his dreaded eyebrows began climbing his forehead, "why? You're not going back are you? I'm sure Arthur can survive being served by someone else for a few more hours. It's still Samhain, Merlin, and the hour when your desire for blood will be at its peak has not yet passed. If you go back now, you would most certainly bite someone."
"I know…Gaius I…I'll stay here for now and wait until it's over. I still need to go and prepare Arthur for bed once it is finished," said Merlin, wearily. He sighed, stood up and headed towards his own small chambers up the short staircase.
"Merlin…" Gaius called to the retreating vampire.
"Aren't I always?" Merlin joked, sending his mentor a weak smile before entering his room and closing the door.
When Merlin woke from his slumber, the unbearable thirst had returned. He knew the animal blood wouldn't help with ridding him of it, but at least-for now-his head was clear again.
Groaning, he got up and trudged down the familiar path to Arthur's chambers. The feast should be nearly finished and his King could leave the hall at any minute now. Arthur's royal chambers were empty when Merlin arrived. Dragging his feet towards the wardrobe, the magical servant removed Arthur's nightclothes and laid them on the large four-poster bed. As he did so, his eyes locked onto the bed's covers.
Pendragon red covers…
Blood red covers.
Arthur's chambers were decorated liberally with the mouth-watering colour. Its vibrant hues bathing the room in blood-delicious blood- red. Merlin's vision blurred as the red haze crept back into sight, he staggered and gripped onto the back of a chair, hard, to steady himself. Something sharp was raking the inside of his throat raw, like a set of jagged daggers slicing through his skin: it was his thirst for human blood. Tearing at him like a starved cat, desperate to escape, to be released.
Click! The door to Arthur's chambers swung open with an ominous creak and the King himself stumbled inside. Merlin hurriedly flung an arm over his eyes, he could still feel them burning crimson red with lust for blood.
"Merlin," Arthur's voice pierced through the gathering fog, grounding Merlin momentarily, "don't just stand there. Get over here so that I can go and sleep."
"Yes…Sire," Merlin's replied, hoarsely. He blindly groped for the clothes he had laid out on the bed and cautiously approached Arthur with one hand still firmly covering his eyes. He didn't need to see to know where Arthur was, he could smell Arthur's enticing scent from across the room.
Merlin soon realised there was a flaw in his plan once he had reached Arthur.
He can't dress the King one handed! Not without magic!
"Merlin. What in the name of Camelot are you doing? You look ridiculous. Stop covering your eyes and dress me," said Arthur, the amusement easily heard in his voice. The King chuckled and Merlin felt a hand ruffling his hair.
"Yes, Arthur," Merlin replied, quietly. He complied and in lieu of his hand, Merlin kept his eyes squeezed shut. Arthur couldn't pass up the opportunity to tease him.
"I understand that I'm very handsome, Merlin, but you don't have to be so shy. You've done this plenty of times before, don't be such a girl," Arthur commented, smugly.
"Prat…it's not…argh," Merlin muttered, his eyes still shut tight while his stomach lurched. He fumbled around and nearly overbalanced when Arthur moved to one side causing Merlin's hand to miss.
"You idiot. Just open your eyes. Why aren't you opening them?" The hint of suspicion in Arthur's tone sent alarm bells ringing in his head. Then out of no-where a hand cuffed the back of his head, causing Merlin's eyes to blink open from the unexpected contact. From somewhere in front of him, Merlin heard a sharp intake of breath that was followed by a soft whisper. "You're a…"
Puzzled, Merlin tilted his head, blinking slowly as his eyes focused on the astounded expression on Arthur's face. Eventually, the rest of Merlin's mind caught up with him causing his glowing eyes to widen in dawning horror. "You're a vampire!" Arthur exclaimed, shocked. Seeing the brief flicker of fear in Arthur's sky blue eyes was like a knife wrenching deep into his heart.
"Arthur…I…" Merlin stammered, he stumbled backwards in an attempt to put some distance between them, knowing it might help put Arthur at ease again. He tripped, falling backwards onto the floor and continued to shuffle away when he saw Arthur begin closing the distance.
Something solid jabbed into Merlin's spine as he felt the corner of Arthur's wardrobe halt his progress. "Arthur," he pleaded urgently, not knowing what he was pleading for. Maybe it was a plea for Arthur to forgive him, to understand him? Or maybe it was a plea for his blood? Merlin didn't know. His neck had to bend awkwardly for him to look up at Arthur's figure looming over him as he sat on the floor, trapped between the King and his wardrobe. Their eyes met and Merlin couldn't prevent the shiver that shot across his skin.
Arthur's eyes…for the first time since Merlin had arrived in Camelot, he couldn't read them. Feeling unnerved, Merlin's crimson eyes dropped from Arthur's, breaking their eye contact so that he could lower his head dejectedly. The corners of his eyes burned as his vision lost focus again, however, unlike before it wasn't from the thirst but from unshed tears that caused his sight to blur.
"Merlin," Arthur's voice snapped sternly from where he stood above him. The vampire refused to look up, he didn't want his nightmares to come true, he didn't want to see the hate in Arthur's eyes. There was a rustling of clothes before Arthur spoke again, his voice much closer than before. This time the King spoke with a surprisingly soft, gentle tone, "Was this why you have been acting strange recently?"
"W-what?" was all Merlin could choke out in response, his eyes flicking up to meet Arthur's before darting away. Arthur was crouching before him so that they were at eye level with each other.
"Yesterday, when I got cut during morning training, you ran off instead of following me to Gaius' chambers. Then during the feast, Gaius escorted you out saying that you were feeling nauseous. Was it because of all-" Arthur made some odd, vague gesture at Merlin, "-this?"
"Yes," Merlin replied, unable to form any coherent thoughts in his mind at Arthur's somewhat calm reaction.
"Why? Did you not have enough blo-" Arthur's sentence remained unfinished as Merlin interrupted him with: "-Don't!"
Arthur raised an eyebrow, silently commanding Merlin to elaborate. After five seconds of the scrutiny, Merlin caved-his shoulders slumping with defeat as the tension left him. "At Samhain, vampires feel the need to…" feed, the word was silently implied, "…more greatly than any other night of the year. It's…it's unbearable. Just…please don't say it…I can't…I'm trying not to think about it."
Arthur frowned and stood up before he began to pace around the confines of his chambers. "So you're telling me that you are…you know…and all you're going to do is ignore it? When today is the day that you need to have some the most?" Without warning Arthur spun around to face Merlin, "Why don't you drink some animal blood? Surely Gaius has some for you to drink?"
"Arthur," groaned Merlin, sending Arthur a withering glare. "He did, after the feast, but it's never…enough…on Samhain…I need…human blood…" Merlin explained through gritted teeth, the action causing his gradually lengthening upper canines to show. Merlin hissed, fangs bared and scarlet irises gleaming, "I need…your blood!"
Startled at his own words, Merlin stared wide-eyed at Arthur before ducking his head again, frightened and ashamed. "Sorry," he rasped, "I didn't mean to..."
"If you drink my blood, would you feel better?" The question came unexpectedly, breaking the silence that had fallen over them. Arthur strode towards his servant, blocking all of Merlin's escape routes-trapping him.
"No! Arthur!" Merlin yelled, horrified, "I won't…I don't…I don't want to hurt you!"
"Why not? You're a…Merlin you're a vampire. Shouldn't you be jumping at the opportunity for offered blood?" Uther had probably filled Arthur's childhood with stories of evil voracious vampires who would attack anyone the instant the opportunity presented itself. Merlin was only thankful that Arthur hadn't drawn his sword the moment he had seen Merlin's glowing eyes.
"Please don't tempt me, Arthur. I don't want to hurt you. I'd rather stay thirsty for the rest of my life. Please," Merlin begged as he struggled to resist the temptations presented to him.
"Merlin…you need it, you even said so yourself," Arthur's voice was soft, touched by how much his friend cares for him.
"I won't…I w-won't bite you," said the vampire, stubbornly. Arthur's hand stretched forward and landed on one of Merlin's knees, the vampire visibly flinched at the sudden contact-the action causing hurt to glimmer in Arthur's eyes. Arthur instantly removed his hand as though burned, it hovered awkwardly in the air for a moment before slowly drifting towards his dagger's sheath on his belt. Merlin's wild eyes followed the movement, watching as the King steadily unsheathed the sharp blade.
Instead of slitting Merlin's throat, the dagger was slowly positioned above Arthur's left hand and, to Merlin's dismay, performed a small incision on his own palm. "W-what are you…don't…no! Arthur!" The effect was instantaneous. His fangs finished lengthening, poking out from underneath his upper lip while his mind returned to its previous hazy state of confusion.
No…he needs to fight it! He can't lose control of himself again!
Merlin writhed on Arthur's floor, fingers scrabbling urgently at his throat while he fought to keep his mind clear from the red fog. Two hands gripped his shoulders firmly, holding him still and guiding him into an upright position. Merlin blinked as one of those hands was held in front of his face and his eyes immediately zeroed in on the cut. The glistening red blood dripped languidly from the thin wound, its fragrant scent overpowering all the others surrounding him.
Merlin licked his lips, his tongue gliding along his fangs as he did so, and gulped audibly. "Drink it, Merlin. It's yours. Go on," encouraged Arthur's voice. The hand moved closer, Merlin's glowing eyes trailing it, until the cut was pressing against his mouth, the sweet blood dripping onto his lips.
Tentatively, Merlin's tongue darted out to taste it and was instantly rewarded with the most delectable flavour tingling his taste buds. The vampiristic insatiable hunger spiked inside of him. He latched onto the hand with both of his own, keeping it still as he leaned forward, mouth opening with his fangs bared. Before he bit down, Merlin's ravenous eyes glanced up, meeting Arthur's.
The vibrant blue of his friend's eyes shined brightly through the ever-darkening haze, jerking him back to his senses. "Arthur!" Merlin yelped, hurdling to his feet and stumbling away. He frantically wiped Arthur's blood from his lips onto the sleeve of his blue tunic, staining it with a purple smear. His sharp fangs, which still have not yet retracted, caught on the course fabric in his haste, tearing a small hole in it. "Mmph? Argh!"
Taking advantage of Merlin's distraction with the problem his fangs had caused, Arthur strode towards Merlin and grabbed hold of the man's arms. "Arthur? Wha-" Merlin was cut off as Arthur abruptly pulled him into a tight embrace. Ever since Merlin had been told about the time when Arthur had hugged him while he was under the influence of the Fomorroh, Merlin had pestered Arthur for another hug. However, it is well known that Arthur doesn't do hugs and to receive one from him is as rare as seeing a lunar rainbow.
Merlin froze, shocked as he felt Arthur's arms wrap around him while Arthur's warm breath fanned the back of his neck. The comfort and warmth of his most precious friend enveloped Merlin, soothing his frayed nerves and bubbling guilt. "Merlin, it's okay…calm down," Arthur's voice spoke gently in his ear, "I want you to drink my blood, I want to help you."
As soon as Arthur's words registered in his mind, Merlin began to attempt to wriggle free, pushing at Arthur's chest and desperately trying to pry himself from the arms caging him. "No! I won't! Arthur! Let me go!" He didn't want to taint this new memory with such an awful deed.
"Merlin, it's not going to be against my will. I've been through worse, getting bitten by a vampire shouldn't hurt too much, right? I'm asking you to do this for yourself, you selfless idiot-" Arthur attempted to console his friend, only to be cut off.
"-I don't know if I can stop, what if I don't and you lose too much?" interrupted Merlin, fretful as he struggled in Arthur's hold.
One of the King's hands moved from Merlin's shoulder blade to the back of Merlin's head. His fingers carding through the soft hair in a comforting gesture as he guided the unsuspecting vampire towards his neck. "As odd as this may sound given everything that I've seen today, I trust that you won't go that far. It's true. I trust you, Merlin, so shut up and bite me," his last two words unknowingly echoing Merlin's from three days ago.
It was the perfect word to describe it. Both the offer and the sight of Arthur's neck so close to his fangs. It was all too irresistible.
With his final resistance crumbling down, Merlin slumped into Arthur's embrace, his arms tentatively returning the hug and pulling his friend closer. Arthur's heartbeat thudded like a war drum in his sensitive ears, drawing him to the pulsing point on Arthur's neck. As Merlin leaned in, his eyes glowing crimson with his thirst for blood, Arthur tilted his head to the other side in order to give his vampire better ease of access.
Merlin's fangs slowly extended, his eyes fixed hungrily on Arthur's offered neck.
He opened his mouth, baring his fangs as he lowered his head. A soft hissing exhale escaped, passing through his lips.
Arthur stifled a cry as Merlin sank his fangs deep into his neck. The pain was short-lived as the area around the long canines was numbed by the vampire's saliva. Arthur's fingers tightened their grip on his servant's scruffy jacket as his heart pounded in his chest sending his life blood rushing to the puncture wounds on his neck.
The instant Arthur's warm blood flowed through Merlin's hollow fangs and into his mouth, the vampire felt the constant scratchy dryness in his throat gradually begin to abate. On his tongue, Arthur's blood tasted as heavenly as he had ever imagined it to be. It was as deliciously sweet as it smelled, with the ever present metallic tang that as a vampire, always sent his taste buds tingling. Merlin gulped the mouthful of blood and felt it travel down his once-parched throat and into his stomach, the feeling was unbelievably satisfying.
Eager for more, Merlin's fangs drew more blood into his mouth and after a moment to savour the taste, he swallowed it in order to make room for the next mouthful. His hands grasped at Arthur's expensive jacket, the feeling of fine leather beneath his palms helped to ground him when the red haze of hunger for blood threatened to cloud his mind.
When the twisting in his abdomen settled completely, Merlin knew that he needed to stop now or Arthur would go into hypovolemic shock* or worse. He couldn't bear to lose Arthur, his friend, especially not like this. Not Arthur.
The blood…Arthur's blood tasted so good, he didn't feel like stopping. Just a little more…more…more blood…
Merlin felt Arthur's hand patting him on the back, his familiar voice sounding strained, "Merlin. That's enough, isn't it? When are you going to stop?" Stop? Why should he…"Merlin! Remember what I told you!" Remember what? Merlin felt like he was forgetting something incredibly important as he drank the warm, blissfully tasty blood. What did he say? Oh…
"I trust that you won't go that far. It's true. I trust you, Merlin."
Stop! He needs to stop now!
Merlin, as quickly as he was able to, carefully removed his fangs from Arthur's neck. Feeling guilty about what he had done and terrified for Arthur's health, Merlin gently pulled away only for Arthur's legs to give in the moment the only person supporting him had backed away. With quick reflexes, Merlin's arms shot out to catch his dizzy friend, pulling one of Arthur's arms around his shoulder so that his friend could lean on him. Merlin slowly led Arthur over to his bed and tucked the covers around him so that he could rest. After double checking to see if Arthur was all right, Merlin started to leave so that he could fetch Arthur some food when he was stopped by a hand that had caught his wrist.
"Stay," Arthur's voice was weak and quiet, yet Merlin was still able to hear it all the same.
"Arthur, I'm sorry it t-took me a while to s-stop, I…I just…you need some food to help you recover," Merlin's voice shook as he replied, keeping his sorrowful now-blue eyes downcast with shame and gnawing guilt.
"Don't apologise, idiot. I asked you to do it. It's not your fault. More importantly do you feel better?"
"Me? How can I feel better when you're lying in your bed because of me?" Merlin choked out. His eyes stung as tears gathered at their corners before creating silvery wet trails down his bony cheeks.
"Merlin…" Blue met blue as Arthur's eyes met Merlin's before the King continued, "How many times do I have to tell you that I wanted you to drink my blood? You didn't hurt me…most of the time it felt numb and now…now it feels really weird," Arthur's nose scrunched as he added, "it's all tingly."
"Tingly?" Merlin asked, a laugh bubbling up through his tears and a small smile quirking his lips. Arthur returned the smile.
"Yes. Now stop blaming yourself for something I asked you to do and answer my question," Arthur commanded.
"Okay, okay…Prat…" Arthur's smile widened into a grin in response, "I don't feel thirsty anymore…that unbearable dryness in my throat is gone and I feel…" Merlin smiled contently as he basked in the feeling that had replaced the insatiable hunger, "…satisfied."
"Good. That's nice to know," said Arthur, pleased. Silence reigned over them as Merlin fiddled nervously with the hem of his tunic's sleeves.
"Do you…do you hate me?" The vampire hesitantly asked.
Arthur drew his eyebrows together, confused. "What?"
"After what I've done? What I am…" Merlin elaborated, anxiously.
After realising what his friend meant, Arthur hastily reassured him, "No! Merlin…no. I could never hate you, Merlin. Even if you are a starving vampire as well as being the worst servant in the five kingdoms."
"Thank you, Arthur," said Merlin, sincerely, a bright goofy smile spreading across his face.
"Anytime, Merlin. Now you can go and fetch me my food, I feel like I could eat a cow!" Arthur moaned, to his chagrin the King's stomach rumbled in agreement making Merlin laugh loudly.
"Would you like it well done, medium done or rare, Sire?" His servant teased.
"Medium done, Merlin, I don't want to see any blood oozing out of it," Arthur responded, smirking.
"Are you sure? You look like you're in need of a very rare steak," jibed Merlin.
"Yes, I'm sure, I'm not a vampire," Arthur retorted.
"Mm. I noticed," Merlin nodded, giving Arthur a pointed look.
"Yes, My lord?" was the vampire's sarcastic reply.
"Just go and fetch me some food," the King ordered impatiently, shooing his manservant in the direction of the door. Just before his servant exited Arthur's chambers, he turned to call back over his shoulder with a wide smirk and a mischievous twinkle in his blue-grey eyes:
"As you wish, Your Royal Prat-ness, I'll go and fetch you your food and add another hole in your belt," then without giving his friend a chance to respond, Merlin fled from the chambers and took off into the hallway. Arthur's shout echoing after him.
*"Hypovolemic shock, also known as hemorrhagic shock, is a life-threatening condition that results when you lose more than 20 percent (one-fifth) of your body's blood or fluid supply. This severe fluid loss makes it impossible for the heart to pump a sufficient amount of blood to your body."
Mild symptoms include those such as: dizziness, nausea, fatigue, headaches and profuse sweating.
Severe symptoms include: cold/clammy skin, blue lips and fingernails, loss of consciousness, confusion, rapid heart rate and rapid (shallow) breathing, weak pulse, light-headedness and pale skin.
Aaaand…it's done! I hope you enjoyed this story. :)
This was posted on the 31st but for some reason it doesn't want to show the date as that...
A huge thank you to everyone who has read this story, whether you have been reading since the first day I published it or those of you who have discovered this many days, weeks and months later- or even those who have read this exactly a year later. And for any Guest who leaves a review: thank you! It's a shame I can't reply to you all.
I appreciate every fav, follow and review from every single one of you. Thank you so much for reading!
Have a Happy Halloween! (Or if you prefer: Happy Samhain!)