Title: Out of the rain
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, all five knights
Summary: They are caught in a rain storm while on a hunt, and end up sleeping in Arthur's tent.
Word Count: 992
Prompt: #17 Tradition
Author's Notes: So here I had Eoin, Tom, Rupert, Santiago, Adetomiwa, Colin and Bradley trapped in a small tent, almost naked and huddling together for warmth. How did this not turn into another orgy?
It's becoming a tradition for me to write drabbles only veeery loosely based on the prompt. Ops.
The first time was on what had started out as a fine summer’s night, but when Arthur woke up, it was to Mother Nature furiously lashing the sides of his tent with sheets of rain. Another bolt of lightning followed the one that must have woken him up, and then came a rumble of thunder that shook Arthur’s bones.
He was about to roll over and go back to sleep when a thought struck him. Were his knights sleeping outside in this weather? The idea seemed ridiculous, and yet they had only brought the King’s tent. Arthur got up, rubbed his eyes and padded, barefoot, over to the tent flap, pulling it open. He was immediately assaulted by rain.
And unbelievably enough, six forms were indeed huddled around the dead campfire.
“What are you doing out there?” Arthur shouted, and since it was impossible to sleep in such conditions, they were all awake to sit up to attend him.
“Are you all daft? Get inside the tent!”
For a moment they just looked at him, uncertain and hesitant.
“Now!” Arthur added helpfully, and they scrambled to obey.
The addition of five sodden knights, one sodden manservant and a lot of wet gear made the tent feel plenty crowded. Arthur backed up and sat down on his bed. “I thought I’d trained you lot to survive in the wild, but apparently I’ve failed to teach you a thing.”
“We didn’t want to intrude,” Leon said, looking miserable with his curls plastered to his face.
Arthur fell back on the bed with a bark of incredulous laughter. “I would ask how long it’s been raining, but I’m afraid of the answer. Really? None of you thought to even ask?” He looked around, gaze falling on Merlin finally. “Not even you? You’ve had no qualms about attempting my bed at home, and yet you balk at taking shelter in my tent?”
Five sets of eyebrows rose in sudden interest, and Merlin went red. “Not like that, you potato heads.” He began to peel off his wet clothes, and the others were soon doing the same.
Arthur wiped rain off his own bare chest with a corner of a blanket.
The knights piled their wet things in a corner, to be dried in the morning, and extracted from their packs what few items of clothing they had managed to shield from the rain.
Luckily, the night was still warm, which meant Arthur’s blankets and pillows might do for them all. Arthur stripped his bed, found all his spare clothes, and began to arrange everything on the ground.
“We can sleep on the grass, Sire,” Lancelot protested. “We won’t deprive you of your bed.”
“You’ll deprive me of my patience if you don’t shut up,” Arthur replied with a smile that underlined his sarcasm. He clapped Lancelot on the shoulder, put his foot out, wrenched the knight backwards in a practiced move and tripped him onto the pile of blankets. “See? Isn’t that more comfortable?”
Gwaine, down to his undergarments, flopped down next to Lancelot. “I’m not protesting.” He began to move things around to make space for seven grown men. Whoever had decided that Kings needed enormous amounts of pillows and blankets in their beds had done Arthur and his party a real favour tonight.
Merlin was next, skin covered with goose bumps and teeth chattering. He crawled gratefully under the blanket that Gwaine held open for him, and huddled into the knight’s arms. Gwaine rubbed his arms and back soothingly. Arthur was not even a little bit jealous. Not even a little.
“You three almost done?” he asked the remaining knights impatiently. Leon was arranging their swords where they could be easily reached, Elyan was wringing out his clothes, and Percival was struggling to get his pants off.
“Almost, Sire,” Percival replied, as he peeled the wet material down his long legs.
“Take your time,” Arthur said pleasantly and lay down between Merlin and Lancelot. He would have kept his distance from both of them, if Lancelot had not shifted closer and Gwaine had not reached over Merlin to pull Arthur against them.
“We have to make room,” was Gwaine’s innocent reply to Arthur’s raised eyebrow.
Merlin glanced at Arthur over his shoulder, eyes dark in the half-light. When Arthur, very carefully, let himself lie full-length against Merlin’s back, goose bumps appeared on Merlin’s skin again.
Things got even more cramped when Leon, Elyan, and then Percival joined them in the nest. Arthur was forced even closer to Merlin, with nowhere to put his hand but on Merlin’s waist, and he knew Merlin must be able to feel each of Arthur’s breaths against his neck.
“Everyone comfortable?” Gwaine asked to the room at large, grinning like an idiot for a reason Arthur suspected had something to do with his own and Merlin’s predicament.
Turns out everyone was very comfortable, because the tent was soon filled with snores loud enough to rival the sound of rain beating against the roof.
Merlin and Arthur lay awake for quite a long time. Eventually, Merlin stopped shivering.
That was the first time. The second time came a few months later, when the hunting party was once again caught in a rainstorm. This time, Arthur didn’t have to go get his knights, they came to him, so they didn’t get soaked as badly, and could wrap themselves up better against the colder air. Arthur and Merlin still ended up lying squashed together, this time with Merlin against Arthur’s back.
It didn’t snow or anything like that the third time. It was just winter and cold, and Arthur felt bad for having a tent and an elevated bed when his men were sleeping on the ground outside, so he invited them in. This time, Arthur purposefully lay down next to Merlin, and his courage was rewarded when Merlin turned to face him. They slept entwined. Gwaine was unbearably smug in the morning.