Title: If You Hold Me Tight, I'll Be Warm
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Gwen
Summary: The weather: Blessedly not frightful.
Magic threats on Camelot: Surprisingly nonexistent, thus delightful.
Arthur: Unusually glum, requiring Merlin to be insightful.
Merlin’s Mission: Possibly breaking the laws of nature, which might be…a bit not good.
Word Count: 1167
Prompt: No. 291 Holiday Season - Let it Snow
Author's Notes: It's...a weee bit longer than 1000 words. 'Tis the season?
“No snow this year,” Arthur said, staring out the window.
Merlin was in the midst of picking up Arthur’s clothes and piling them into his arms. The washing basket had gone missing a few days ago, leaving Merlin with more intimacy with Arthur’s sweaty tunics than he’d ever wanted.
“Isn’t that a good thing?” Merlin replied.
For Merlin, snow was simply an inconvenience that found its way into his worn boots and soaked his paper-thin socks. It crept in behind his neckerchief and melted into droplets of chilly water that slithered down his tunic. Every winter he was miserably cold and wet, waiting for the end of the day when he would slip into his night clothes and leave his socks to get toasty by the fire.
Arthur, who of course had luxurious leather boots lined with rabbit fur that reached up to his knees, wouldn’t worry about the snow like Merlin and everyone else without decent boots would.
“It’s a pity,” Arthur murmured, his fist underneath his chin and his lips pursed.
“I find it a blessing, if I’m being honest,” Merlin said and picked up the last sock that he swore was originally white.
“You always are, Merlin,” Arthur said drily and turned around. He looked strangely contemplative, more so than usual, and having it directed at Merlin was unsettling.
Merlin let out a nervous laugh. “I’m hardly supposing you’re keeping me for my skills as a manservant.”
“My socks will probably turn black before you’re done,” Arthur said and pointed to the mud-coloured sock that Merlin had clipped between two fingernails, which simultaneously put it as far away from his face as possible without dropping the entire load.
“Better than no socks at all,” Merlin said, wiggling the sock as he slid out the room.
Even since that day, Arthur continued to act strange. Their usual disagreements were not as heated, as if he wasn’t behind them, or, well…anything.
One day, Gwen came by to watch the knight’s training with Merlin.
“He’s been out of sorts,” Merlin said and blew on his red hands.
Puffs of air danced between the knights and their precise movements, but Arthur, who was usually the centre of the energy with his air of pride and superiority, swung his sword like he was tired of the same routine.
“You’ve noticed it too,” Gwen said, her eyebrows scrunched. “Morgana…she told me that when King Uther and Ygraine were wed, the first snow of the season fell. It was said to be a blessing of their union.”
“It’s all starting to make sense, now,” Merlin said. “Yesterday I chanced adding some raw turnip in his favourite rabbit stew for his health and all, and all he said was, ‘I see you’ve tried to improve the recipe. How thoughtful.’” Merlin paused and looked imploringly at Gwen. “‘How thoughtful’? What does that even mean, Gwen?”
Gwen shook her head, a half-smile on her lips. “I think he’s sad, Merlin. You might be the only one who can cheer him up. I’ve never seen anyone affect him quite like you.”
Merlin sighed. If by “affect” she meant “annoy”, then he supposed she was right.
Never let it go unsaid that Merlin would do just about anything for Prince Arthur.
The next day, Arthur was brooding again by the window.
“It usually snows by now,” Arthur said, squinting through the window with an inch between his nose and the glass. “It’s well into the season, but not a single flake of snow.”
Merlin dropped the washing by the door. He plucked a particularly foul-smelling pair of breeches and stuffed them in the very back of the Arthur’s wardrobe.
“Arthur,” he called, “Can you check your wardrobe for any washing? I swear I smelled something off around there.”
Arthur sighed. “Isn’t that your job?” To Merlin’s surprise, he turned from the window and strode past Merlin to the wardrobe. “Weren’t you supposed to do this last night?”
Merlin knew this whole business was incredibly risky, and he could’ve done it many other ways, but he felt now—with just the two of them in Arthur’s chambers, the quiet world of winter out the window—was the time to do it.
When Merlin had went to Kilgharrah, he’d been surprised when the dragon had supplied the spell to him without any hesitation. Nothing except, “Let me know when you need to control lightning. Then we’ll talk.”
The words behind the magic he’d requested were simple, but the power required was not.
Merlin underestimated the strength needed and his vision burst into thousands of blooming stars as he heard Arthur say, “I found a pair of putrid breeches. How could you have missed these?”
Merlin felt himself fall, but instead of hitting the cold, stone floor, he landed with a thud in Arthur’s warm arms, his cheek pressed against Arthur’s chest.
“Snow,” he heard Arthur say, voice filled with wonder. “It’s snowing, Merlin.”
“So it is,” Merlin said when he finally got his eyes open and turned his head to the window. Soft, fluffy snow began to blanket Camelot.
Arthur’s eyes burned bright. “It’s almost like magic,” he said, his arms still firmly around Merlin.
“If it was?” Merlin found himself saying in a near inaudible whisper.
“Then perhaps it’s not such a terrible thing, after all,” Arthur whispered just as quietly, as if to himself. His gaze dropped to Merlin and looked at him like he’d hung the moon.
Maybe he knows, Merlin’s heart leapt into his throat and he suddenly felt the urge scramble all the way back to Ealdor.
Then Arthur stood back, still holding onto Merlin’s hand, and lead them to the window. “Thank you,” he said.
Merlin’s hand felt hot and tingly in Arthur’s. “For what? I didn’t do anything.”
Arthur lips quirked into a smile that made Merlin’s heart melt like snow on skin. “Thanks for being by my side, then.” Arthur’s cheeks coloured and his scratched his jaw. He looked back at the snow.
Merlin waited for it—the “Of course not, you idiot”—but it didn’t come.
Instead, Arthur gripped Merlin’s hand tighter and his smile grew wider as gave a short nod.
Merlin will be asking a certain dragon for lightning sooner than he’d thought. He didn’t know when he’d need it, but when you were hopelessly in love with a man you were willing to break the laws of nature for, you did not operate under the standard rules.
Unfortunately, it snowed for ages, and quickly became the biggest winter storm in anyone’s recollection. When Arthur first trudged through the snow with Merlin, snow nearing his thighs and well past and into his boots, he muttered, “Bloody snow, who needs snow,” and Merlin couldn’t help but laugh.
Arthur shot Merlin a significant look, eyebrows raised, but then he rolled with eyes and slipped his hand into Merlin’s.
Merlin didn’t mind the snow now.
If You Hold Me Tight, I'll Be Warm
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