Castle (the rules by which we live)

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Title: Castle (the rules by which we live)
Author(s): kickflaw
Date(s): 12 September 2010
Length: 16,000 words / 2,500 words (sequel)
Genre: slash fanfiction
Fandom: Merlin
External Links: Castle (the rules by which we live) (AO3)
Castle (the rules by which we live) (Livejournal)
Art for Castle (the rules by which we live) (Dreamwidth)

Story cover by yue_ix

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Castle (the rules by which we live) is a Merlin/Arthur AU by kickflaw (~16,000 words). It was written for the Merlin Whizzbang Challenge in 2010.

Summary: Merlin knows that getting off fastest when he’s got some BDSM porno playing loud on the computer doesn’t mean he’d really like to be that bloke, gagged and bent over and bound. Right? (Modern!AU. Brief mentions of rape (in the context of rape-fantasy), BDSM and all that entails, including D/s relationships, knifeplay, bondage, painplay, orgasm denial and so on.)

In 2011 the author wrote a sequel, Castle Extra: The Audition.[1] In this story Merlin and Arthur are already established as a couple (sort of) but it's their first time of public sex together. Includes bondage and fisting.

Fanworks and Remixes

The story cover is by yue_ix who created 8 images, 1 wall, and 10 icons as this fic's Merlin Whizzbang Challenge 2010 art collaborator. Content note: reference to bondage (held down and chains), BDSM context, collar (no leash).

For Podfic Big Bang 2010-2011, Itachitachi made a podfic of this story. The podfic is 1:53:59 hours long. Yue_ix created one new image to use as the podfic cover art. As the podfic's art collaborator,[2] Martinius created an original soundtrack on a grand piano, edited with free of use sound clips:

It starts at first with bass drum, overlaid with some tinkling glass. Slowly piano fades in from on the left side. Another piano track fades in while the drums slow down and then goes on to make heartbeat sound, which then stop, leaving only the piano. The piano sound is meant to convey a sort of relaxation, floating, Merlin's experience of subspace.
The piano from the beginnin fades in again, but a slower version, while the other piano fades out. The drums come back, slower too. Then the piece sort of fades out.[3]

Susan Voight repoded the story for kink bingo 2011.[4] The new version is 1:50:12 hours long. Cybel turned the podfic into an audiobook and made a cover.[5]

Recs and Reviews

  • "My favourite kink fics always have smoking hot porn, but also a hefty dose of characterization and psychological insight, and this provides all of the above in spades. I love how Merlin's denial segues into resistance and then submission to Arthur, and Arthur's vulnerability at the end. Plus Morgana and Arthur as professional Dommes is just too perfect. Plus, the fic is accompanied by gorgeous artwork."[6]
  • "non-magical Modern AU – formal BDSM. [...] This fic! Merlin is just bloody fabulous. He’s awkward and nervous and not really comfortable in his own skin, yet full of attitude and self confidence in that crazy way that is very Merlin. [...] The author is absolutely brilliant in making this so believable. I understand this Merlin so well. And God, ARTHUR. I think the most brilliant thing about Arthur as a Dom is that I trust him immediately. I know that he’d be strong and controlled and a perfectionist and throw himself into the role in the same way he ‘plays’ at being the perfect warrior, the perfect Prince. This story left me wanting more, wanting EVERYTHING that these two characters in this setting could offer. Not because the story wasn’t complete. But I ache to let it go. I want to see the next time. I want to see them grow together and mess-up and fix things and become what I KNOW they will eventually become."[7]
  • "This fic? This does everything right. The set up is delicious, full of pining, and curiosity and nearly audible frisson of tension that yanks you by your spine right the hell into the story. It has Morgana being awesome and basically frog-marching Merlin into the world of what he wants, and when kick_flaw describes Merlin's love of leather I sort of rolled around like a possessed dog who's lost their center of gravity. It's just so luscious, and the need in it. The sheer desperate, clawing need of it all could just drive you to distraction, and when it's finally sated it's like the world's airways have opened up and everyone can breathe again."[8]

About the podfic:

If you have even the tiniest BDSM kink, you should run, not walk to listen to this podfic. Usually when I finish listening to a podfic, I do a little internal squee, and then start the next one. Here, I couldn't do it. I just sat there, in silence, completely unwilling to break the mood. Then, because I wanted to listen to something, I just started it all over again. Thankfully, I had to go out to lunch later, which broke the mood for me, otherwise, I think I would be caught in an endless loop. [...]
The Reading: This is (I think) itachitachi's first podfic and she does an absolutely brilliant job. She has a lovely voice that's very easy to listen to. There are so many ways a reading of this story could have gone wrong. The words and scenes, themselves, are so powerful that too much inflection and enthusiasm would have been way too much. She reads with a calmness that is just perfect and she does a glorious job of capturing Merlin's "voice" and his emotions. I dearly hope that she does more podfic, because I will be first in line to listen.
The Sound Effects: [...] martinius does an absolutely brilliant job with the sound effects. So often, sound effects are kind of thrown, haphazardly into podfics. But here, they add this amazingly perfect ambiance. Most of the sections have a bass drum beat that is somewhat reminiscent of a dance club, and somewhat reminiscent of the throb of a heart. As you move through the fic, this dichotomy works to full effect. On top of it, there are these piano bits that are kind of floaty. All I can say is that the combination of the sound effects and the reading pretty much blew the top of my head off. [...][9]


  1. Posted May 11, 2011.
  2. Podfic Big Bang. Merlin (BBC): Castle (the rules by which we live), 8 May 2011. (Accessed 28 May 2011)
  3. martinius. Music for Castle (the rules by which we live, 9 May 2011. (Accessed 29 May 2011)
  4. susan_voight. Castle (the rules by which we live) (Merlin (BBC)), 28 September 2011. (Accessed 29 September 2011)
  5. Cybel. Merlin (BBC) Podbook: Castle… by kick_flaw, read by susan_voight, 28 September 2011. (Accessed 29 September 2011)
  6. woldy. Merlin recs, 18 September 2010. (Accessed 26 September 2010)
  7. marguerite_26. The Saturday Morning Kinkies... [Merlin/Arthur Rec], 18 September2010. (Accessed 26 September 2010)
  8. skellerbvvt. Rec: Castle (the rules by which we live) by kickflaw, 23 September 2010. (Accessed 26 September 2010)
  9. fire_juggler. [Recommendation: Podfic] Castle (the rules by which we live), 11 May 2011. (Accessed 04 February 2012)