Title: In the Cold Midwinter
Pairing/s: Arthur/Merlin and Gwen/Morgana
Character/s: Arthur, Morgana, Gwen, Merlin
Summary: It's an unusually cold winter. Arthur, Gwen and Morgana all take steps to keep Merlin warm.
Word Count: 620
Prompt: 441 Don't be Cruel
Author's Notes: Canon AU. My apologies for posting too late.
In the Cold Midwinter
It was Camelot's coldest winter in decades. Snow drifts had piled high against the castle walls. The water pipes froze and burst, so that water had to be collected and carried home from holes bored through the ever thickening ice on the lake. Firewood was increasingly expensive and hard to come by. At night, icy drafts entered every room, every nook and cranny. Everyone, from the royals to the poorest crofter, huddled inside as much as they could, feeling miserable, wondering whether they'd ever be warm again.
Leaving his chambers for the daily inspection of the guard and the palace, Arthur was bundled up in a heavy winter cloak. A fur hood and fur mittens completed his ensemble. Steeling himself before stepping out of doors, he heard a voice calling his name.
"Yes?" He turned around with the slightly bored expression he tried to cultivate around Morgana.
"We want to talk to you about Merlin."
Morgana had Gwen in tow. Arthur couldn't help smiling at her. She looked very cute in her knit cap, and with her red woolen scarf wound tightly around her shoulders, neck and chin. Her cheeks glowed with the cold, and her eyes twinkled. No wonder Morgana was head over heels in love with her.
"Merlin? he asked.
"You have failed to provide him with sufficient clothing. He is likely to freeze to death," Morgana declared, pulling her fur-lined cloak tight.
"He told me that his mother sent him new socks and a knitted scarf, and that he's fine."
Gwen shook her head at him, looking disappointed.
Morgana frowned. "Don't be cruel, Arthur. Haven't you noticed he's still walking around in that sorry old jacket, and that he looks positively blue? He urgently needs warmer clothes."
"We can arrange it, if you pay for it," Morgana continued. "He's your servant, it's your duty."
"Very well." Arthur knew from experience that no good would come from objecting to Morgana's plans when she spoke in that tone of voice. Besides, he had to admit that she was right. He should have acted sooner, when Merlin himself didn't have the sense to do so.
Gwen dimpled at him. "I'll go down to the market right away. They sell good quality woolen cloaks there, and— well, uh, other necessary things too."
Arthur smiled at her obvious confusion as she managed to avoid mentioning underwear.
"What about his accomodation?" Morgana asked.
"What about it?"
"As far as I know, Merlin's room has bare stone walls and no fireplace. He should be relocated for as long as this cold spell lasts."
Arthur smiled, feeling smug. "I'm way ahead of you, Morgana. Merlin will be sleeping in my chambers for the foreseeable future. It has already been arranged."
Morgana arched a skeptical eyebrow at him. "Indeed?"
"The embers in my old bed warming pans do not maintain the heat until morning. It would be necessary for Merlin to replenish them in the night, but it's far too cumbersome for him to run over from Gaius' quarters."
"Are you joking?" Morgana said, incensed. "You'd have him running around in the middle of these cold nights just to heat your royal backside?"
Arthur grinned. "You weren't listening, Morgana. He's staying in my rooms in order to heat my backside, as you put it, in the most effective way there is."
"Well, he still has to— oh."
Arthur had the satisfaction of seeing Morgana's eyes go nearly as wide as Gwen's already were. "Exactly. We agreed that the best thing for both of us would be that he serve as my bedwarmer, without any distracting warming pans involved. You needn't worry, Morgana. Merlin may have been cold during the day, but at night, he's hot. Very hot."