Summary: After Arthur's quest, Arthur offers Merlin a favor to say thank you. Merlin calls in his favor on the first snow day.
Word Count: 1259
Author's Notes: So I've never written a coda before -- didn't even know what that was. Thankfully, someone explained and so I picked a random episode to work from. I know the second half of this fic wanders off, but it does connect and it does fulfill my recipient's wish for something holiday-ish and light hearted. I hope you enjoy! And thanks to my beta, enchanted_jae
Disclaimer:Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.
Merlin handed off the Trident to the treasure, wondering at the difference between value in objects. The water from Avalon was secure in his rooms, but the Trident, something that the Fisher King hadn't valued as much, was headed for the locked rooms of the king. It was made of gold, Merlin knew, and it carried some kind of magic in it. Uther would probably keep it deep in the treasury, with other objects of magical value.
Merlin didn't want to think about what Uther would do with the water if he knew about it.
With a sigh, Merlin left the treasury and picked up Arthur's dinner in the kitchens. He passed a lot of other servants, all of them gossiping about Arthur's quest. Merlin wondered what they'd think if they knew what really had happened.
He knocked on Arthur's door, still lost in thought.
"Enter," Arthur called.
Merlin held up the tray at he entered. "Dinner. Something special that the King ordered for you."
Arthur rolled his eyes and put down a piece of parchment. The ink was fresh on it so he was probably writing down what happened on the quest -- or what he could of it. Merlin thought of him and Gwaine and that their part in it would go unknown forever. Were there ever any others who had gone unmentioned in a similar way? Had they been punished for not keeping silent or to make sure they kept silent? Merlin had been teasing Arthur about getting some reward for his help, but it had just been that -- teasing. Merlin had been glad to help Arthur.
"And I'm sure there'll be a feast tomorrow celebrating it," Arthur said. He waved his hand and Merlin set the tray down on the table.
Merlin stood back and crossed his arms behind his back. Arthur ate silently while Merlin let his thoughts continue to wander. It no time, however, Arthur was ready for bed and Merlin was finishing up his chores for the evening.
"Merlin?" Arthur called. He held out an envelope to Merlin. "For you." He paused, Merlin waited, but Arthur just waved his hand. "Goodnight."
As you know, I cannot acknowledge your help with my quest. I do, however, appreciate it and that you called on Gwaine. It showed courage and friendship that I know I too often ignore. In the future, if you need anything, simply ask and I will consider it a debt repayment.
First snow of the season. It had turned the castle bitterly cold, true, but Merlin was used to the snow and chill from Ealdor and looked forward to it. In his opinion, Camelot didn't receive nearly enough. Gaius griped at him throughout the morning, complaining about the innocence of youth. Arthur, Merlin knew, would complain but only because Merlin wasn't moving fast enough to build up the fire to warm the rooms.
"About time," Arthur said, still huddled in his blankets.
Merlin smirked. "Sorry, sire. I know your royal self is so vulnerable to the cold. I apologize."
Arthur was silent for a long moment. Merlin added a log to the fire and coaxed it back to a full roar. Arthur shifted in his bed.
"If I wasn't so cold, I'd throw something at you," Arthur finally said.
Merlin shrugged. "I'm sorry that I get to miss that. Shall I fetch your breakfast?"
"Do and make it fast," Arthur said. "If the fire goes down while you take your sweet time, I'll put you in the stocks tonight."
Midmorning and Merlin's chores were done. Arthur had called off the morning training exercises as he usually did when the first serious snow fell -- something about letting the knights enjoy one snow day. Merlin hardly paid attention, but this time, he was anxious.
"Sire?" Merlin asked.
Arthur hummed, looking over some letters.
Merlin swallowed and looked out the window. "You said a few months back that if I needed anything..."
Arthur looked up at once. "A new coat? Boots? I can call for the shoemaker..."
Merlin laughed. "Nothing like that. I just wondered if I could have the rest of the day off. The snow reminds me of home and I'd like to take my time outside enjoying it."
Arthur sat back, sighing as if Merlin was asking the world. "You could have anything, Merlin, but you only ask for a day off? Are you mad?"
Merlin shrugged. "I'm sure you think so. But it is what I'd like."
Arthur looked outside and a wicked look grew on his face. "I'll let you -- if I can come with you. I think I'd like a day off and if you're amenable, I'd like to hear some of your stories about snow in Ealdor."
They walked through the castle gates after the sun had set, laughing and throwing snow balls at each other. The guards watched them with curious looks, but Arthur simply sniffed and held his head high. Merlin bit his lip to keep from giggling, but he couldn't help a few sneak out. Arthur tensed up, but kept walking.
It had been a good day. Merlin had shared several stories, true, but Arthur had had a few of his own. They'd walked along the river, making footprints in the fresh snow, and they'd shared a small rabbit that they had caught together for lunch. Arthur had been so busy and tense lately and Merlin himself had had a lot that this day off had felt... Well, he was definitely feeling better than he had in several weeks.
"Thank you, Arthur," Merlin said as they walked toward Arthur's rooms to warm up.
Arthur smiled. "You're welcome, Merlin. Thank you for letting me come with you. It's been difficult lately and I think we both needed this."
Merlin almost said something witty, but he didn't want to ruin this day. He hung up Arthur's cloak on a peg and put his coat next to it. He quickly added some logs to the fire to warm the rooms and then helped Arthur undress into dry clothes. He tried to wave off Arthur's offer for Merlin to put on his clothes, but Arthur insisted. Dry and warming up, they drank water that Merlin heated over the fire.
Silence fell between them, but it was as comfortable as the rest of the day had been.
"It's almost Yule," Arthur said. "Would you like to go visit your mother?"
Merlin shook his head. "It's too late to start out now. And I only saw her this past summer. Thank you, Arthur, but no. I think I'd like to be here for Yule."
Arthur took a deep breath. "You have a strong relationship with your mother. I would give anything to see mine again."
Merlin swallowed hard. He wished he could help Arthur the most during moments like this. He wished magic could fix so many things, but usually the things that needed the most fixing, the hurts of the heart, were beyond magic. He put his hand on Arthur's knee. "I'm sure she's watching out for you. You may not see her, but I think you know when she's near."
Arthur put his hand over Merlin's. "Some times, Merlin, you know exactly what to say."
Merlin smiled softly. "I do try."
Arthur huffed, but he was smiling again. He looked over Merlin's shoulders. "It's snowing again."
Merlin looked, too. "And so it is. Frankly, however, I think I'd rather stay in here now."
Arthur squeezed Merlin's hand. "Me, too."