Title: One Sleigh Ride, Sans Horse
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, others
Summary: All Merlin wanted was a romantic sleigh ride. This was anything but.
Word Count: 1005
Prompt: No. 292 - Sleigh Ride
Author's Notes: not beta'd
The hillside was blanketed in a fresh sheet of snow. Grey skies loomed over Merlin’s head as he watched the scenery slide by.
“This was supposed to be romantic,” Merlin said as he looked at a squirrel in the distance, its bushy tail swishing furiously as it shot up the tree.
Arthur did not respond. In fact, he had not said anything for the entire duration of the ride home. He stared straight ahead as the wooden sleigh trudged forward, not by horse, but by Merlin’s magic.
A hand slapped Merlin’s shoulder. “Can this thing go any faster?”
“No, Gwaine,” Merlin said for the fourth time. Actually it could, but if Gwaine knew that they’d undoubtably be flaunting unheard-of speeds and crash into a rock or tree of deer. The sleigh would explode into smithereens and they’d have to walk home.
Merlin did not want to walk home.
“Can it fly?” Percival added from behind Merlin. He was squished in the back next to Gwaine on the only passenger bench.
Merlin sat next to Arthur in the driver’s seat. Arthur pressed himself against the opposite edge, hands in his lap, jaw set.
“No,” Merlin said. It probably could fly, but no one needed to know that.
“Can’t we simply enjoy the ride?” Leon said, not for the first time. His eyebrows and beard sported a layer frost and a smattering of miniature icicles. He sat on floor by Percival’s feet.
“But we are!” Gwaine said and stood up on the bench, arms thrown out as if to absorb the scenery.
“Get down,” Lancelot said. He was also on the floor next to Leon, still brushing slush from his breeches.
Gwaine mumbled something about “a lack of appreciation of winter wonderlands” and plopped back into his seat.
Silence descended over the group, only the crunch of the snow under the sleigh and the twitter of the occasional bird filling the crisp air. In the distance, a faint jingling could be heard. “Oh no,” Merlin said. He turned in his seat and glared at Gwaine. “You are at fault here.”
Melodic sleigh bells mixed with the cackles of none other than Mordred, driving yet another magical sleigh. It pulled alongside them and matched their speed, Mordred’s red scarf whipping in the wind. He stood atop the driver’s seat, the very picture of a captain of a fine vessel.
“Greetings, Emrys,” Mordred said, his smile undeniably smug. “Did you hear my sleigh bells?”
“We bloody well heard them,” Gwaine said.
“Oh, hello, Sir Gwaine. How did abandoning my sleigh go for you and your fellow knights?”
“Fine,” Gwaine said and cracked his knuckles.
“Brilliant.” Mordred rocked on his heels. “You all seem…comfortable.”
“Comfortable?” Elyan, who was splayed out on the back row of passenger benches of Mordred’s sleigh, barked out a laugh. “We mustn’t joke, Mordred. They appear to be part of a funeral procession.”
“We are not,” Percival said, eyebrows furrowed. “This is a scenic journey.”
“Hear, hear!” Gwaine shouted and was once again standing on the bench. “We’re having an exquisite and tasteful party.” Lancelot grimaced as Gwaine’s boot nearly slid into his nose.
“News to me,” Leon said. “You screaming ‘men overboard’ as you shove me and Lancelot off Mordred’s sleigh is not my idea of a party.” Lancelot nodded and gave Leon a sturdy pat on the knee. “Left us no choice but for the lot of us to go on Merlin’s sleigh.”
“We need to stay with Merlin and Arthur,” Gwaine insisted.
“No, we really don’t,” Leon said. “You didn’t tell me you were planning on torturing them.”
Gwaine lips curled in distaste. “They’ve had enough romantic nights during this damned trip. We lost our horses because of their inability to keep watch during their…goings-on.”
Merlin coughed and sneaked a glance at Arthur, whose knuckles were white as they gripped on to the wooden seat.
“That’s quite enough, lads,” Elyan said. “Into the single knights sled.”
“Who said I was single?” Gwaine cried.
“You pining over Merlin doesn’t make you not single,” Leon pointed out drily.
“I could say the same about you mooning over Gwen, Leon,” Lancelot muttered.
“Me?” Leon stood up. “What about you gazing at Gwen with those sorrowful eyes of yours?”
“If we’re spilling secrets,” Percival said, “I fancy Gwaine.”
Gwaine smiled. “Do you?” He seemed pleased as mead. “Someone’s got their head on right in this lot.”
“I fancy Mithian!” Elyan crowed.
Mordred shrugged. “I am quite partial to Merlin. There’s something about those cheekbones—”
“ENOUGH!” Arthur bellowed. Both sleighs came to a screeching halt. “Out. All of you.”
The venom behind the words was impossible to ignore. After a minute of shuffling and groaning, Gwaine and Percival huddled close together in the back seat, and Elyan sat in between Leon and Lancelot and their brewing storm in the front seat, waving at Merlin.
Once Mordred drove them off into the distance, Arthur blurted, “Finally.”
“What?” Merlin said, startled. He was promptly cut off from further questioning as Arthur’s mouth met his in a frenzied clash of lips and tongue.
In between each lick and bite, Arthur breathed, “I’ve been waiting for this.”
Merlin slid into Arthur’s lap and wrapped his arms around Arthur’s neck. With a flash of Merlin’s magic, the sleigh began to move.
“You’ve held out for quite a while,” Merlin murmured. “Wasn’t it…the whole afternoon?” He caressed the hairs that curled at Arthur’s nape.
“Too long,” Arthur said. His lips travelled down Merlin’s neck and he whispered, “Maybe there’s hope for a romantic sleigh ride yet.”
Merlin sighed and tilted his head back. He froze.
Mordred’s sleigh floated in the sky high above them. Percival and Elyan made obscene gestures over the side.
Using the druid connection, Mordred drawled, Enjoy the—ahem—ride, Merlin. The flying sleigh then took off, the red of Mordred’s scarf a fluttering flag in the horizon.
“Next time,” Merlin said, “we go completely alone.”