“I got you a present,” Arthur tells him, dropping down on the sofa next to him and shoving a small package against Merlin’s face.
Merlin catches it when it hits his lap and he sends Arthur a funny glance, trying to fight against the smile tugging his lips up.
“It’s not even Christmas yet,” Merlin says, feigning nonchalance but touching the package a little, trying to guess what’s inside.
Arthur rolls his eyes, elbowing him. “Just open it.”
Merlin sends a look in the direction of the kitchen — where his mum is baking something or other — and then shoots Arthur a quick smile before he rips the wrapper open and grins down at his hands, where a blue beanie lies.
It’s the beanie they saw a couple of weeks ago in a shop near the centre when they were searching for Morgana and Gwen’s Christmas presents, because Arthur insisted that the sooner they bought them, the better. Arthur was the first to see it, but when he pointed the beanie out for Merlin, Merlin liked it instantly. Arthur teased Merlin mercifully when they first met because he always wore beanies everywhere he went, but now every time Arthur sees Merlin’s ears turn red in the cold, he literally shoves a beanie down over his head to keep him warm.
“You’re an idiot,” Merlin says, his cheeks hurting from smiling so much.
Arthur leans closer. “So I bring you a present and I get an insult back? How does that work, Merlin?”
Merlin snorts, keeping Arthur at bay with a hand on his chest when he gets too close. “My mum’s right there, let’s go outside.”
Arthur shakes his head when Merlin gets up, but he follows anyway, grabbing his coat and closing the door behind them as soon as they’ve stepped outside.
Merlin’s little cottage is covered in white a few inches above the level of the ground, the green grass is gone and the pale snow has taken over. Merlin loves it, winter: it’s cold but cosy, the atmosphere with the lights on the houses, the people and the Christmas songs everywhere, the holidays and the free time from school to spend with friends and family, drinking hot cocoa and sweets. But specially the snow because it’s loads of fun.
Zipping his puffy coat up, he grabs Arthur’s hand and drags him to the backyard until they are safely hidden from his mum and it’s just the two of them. Merlin presses a smiling kiss against Arthur’s lips, throws his arms around him and snogs him slowly by a way of thanks, breaking the kiss when Arthur starts making those little noises he does when he wants to do more than kissing.
As Arthur pulls back and opens his eyes, he runs his hands through Merlin’s hair, getting rid of the snowflakes that have gotten caught in the strands of unruly hair and then grabs the beanie from Merlin’s numb fingers and places it over Merlin’s head gently, adjusting it this way and that until he hums approvingly, seeming satisfied with the way it fits him.
“You like it, then?” Merlin asks, a bit breathless for no reason.
Arthur eyes him up and down, then makes a face. “Yes, well. At least it covers your enormous ears.”
Merlin huffs a laugh and then tackles Arthur down in a hug, sending them both flying to the snowy ground. Arthur complains for about four seconds, telling him his arse is cold and that he’s uncomfortable and getting his pants wet, but when Merlin nips at his jaw, he makes an indecipherable noise and wraps his arms around Merlin’s back, tilts his head to the side to give Merlin a better angle and melts down into the snow, lying there happily with Merlin on top of him.
“What did you just say about my ears?” Merlin whispers after a beat.
“That they are very— nghh.”
Merlin chuckles and Arthur growls in response when Merlin pushes Arthur’s scarf down his neck and sucks a quick kiss there.
“Thanks, y’know,” he says when Arthur moves his hand to Merlin’s nape, brushing his fingers against the hair that pokes out of the beanie.
Arthur rolls his eyes, but he’s smiling madly as he tugs Merlin down for another kiss.