Title: Baby, It's Cold Outside
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Merlin and Arthur hole up in a cave when they're caught in a blizzard. It's very warm in there, as if it's a magical cave or something. Fluff. Lots of it.
Word Count: 1225 (Sorry!)
Prompt: 74 Warm
Author's Notes: Thanks to deinonychus_1 for the beta. Hope the rating is okay.
Baby, it's Cold Outside
"It's warm in here," Arthur commented.
"Oh, caves retain the heat, everyone knows that," Merlin told him blithely. "They stay a constant temperature all the time. Gaius says people used to live in them. There are hermits who still do."
Arthur looked at him. His manservant was happily building a fire, with wood he claimed he'd found further down in the cave. Actually, when Arthur had gone to investigate there had been a convenient heap of firewood down there but Arthur was very suspicious as to how it might have got there.
"Why would there be a pile of chopped firewood stored out here?" he asked. "Nobody lives anywhere nearby."
Merlin shrugged, piling on the firewood which appeared to be in perfect condition for burning. Not damp or too green. That was suspicious too. "We couldn't see a thing out there," he pointed out. "We might have passed an entire town and not realised. We were lucky to find this."
Very lucky. Arthur wasn't quite sure how Merlin had managed to see the cave through the storm. The sky had darkened too quickly, the blizzard whipped up too fast for it to be natural. If Merlin hadn't noticed the cave they would still be out in it, probably frozen to the bone. He hoped rather than believed that Morgana wouldn't turn out be behind it. Part of him still mourned the friendship they'd shared growing up together, and he didn't think he'd ever be able to understand why she had turned on him as well as his father. Their father. He shuddered, and inched closer to the fire.
"You're still cold, I'll get some more firewood."
Merlin was gone before Arthur could protest that he wasn't actually cold. Arthur had been in caves plenty of times, but he'd never, ever been in one that actually felt warm, not even in the summer. This one was like no cave he'd ever seen before because it actually seemed to be getting even warmer. Which was impossible, because although it was fairly deep he could still hear the blizzard outside howling around the entrance. When he'd got up to check on the horses there had been little snow flurries making their way inside the cave and then promptly melting. The snow was melting on the ground around the entrance too, in a wide circle. It wasn't natural.
Their horses hadn't seemed particularly bothered by it, just standing there looking out at the grey and white world beyond their shelter. He had rubbed them down as best he could, but there wasn't a lot else he could do for them. Perhaps he should have let Merlin do that, but Merlin had looked half-frozen out there in the storm, and it had taken a while after they'd found the cave before he'd stopped shivering. Arthur didn't want him anywhere near the cold if he could help it. No need for Merlin to know that though. Or that it wasn't actually cold at the mouth of the cave.
"I don't suppose you found any food down there as well?" Arthur asked when Merlin returned with another armful of firewood and threw it on the fire. Merlin wandered off again, and Arthur was more than a little surprised when he returned a few moments later with bread and cheese.
"Packed it this morning," Merlin told him.
That was strange, because Arthur had looked in the saddlebags when he'd checked on the horses and he hadn't noticed any food.
"Hmm... your eyesight probably isn't what it was," Merlin told him when Arthur pointed this out.
"There's nothing wrong with my eyesight!" Arthur snapped. "It's this cave. It's... it's enchanted!"
Merlin looked at him almost pityingly, and Arthur wished he'd kept his mouth shut. He knew it sounded ridiculous, and the look on Merlin's face told him as much. But there was definitely something odd going on.
"It's just a cave, Arthur."
The horses were eating something. He could hear them, they weren't exactly being quiet about it. He got up and looked, then hurried back to Merlin. There was no food for them, there was no way that any could possibly have been hidden in the saddlebags or anywhere else. But both horses were happily munching away at a pile of hay.
"We should get out of here!"
Merlin was toasting the bread and cheese over the fire. It smelled wonderful.
"It's freezing out there. Here." Merlin offered him a second makeshift toasting fork, which turned out to be Arthur's second-favourite dagger. Arthur gave a little grumble at the misuse, but the food did smell good so he joined in reluctantly.
"How do you explain the fact that the horses have hay if it's not an enchanted cave?"
"Didn't you see it lying near the entrance when we came in? We've just been lucky, someone must use this in the Summer months."
It was plausible, Arthur supposed. But he wondered why he'd missed so many things that Merlin hadn't. Perhaps it had just been concern over Merlin, because his servant had been so cold.
Merlin obviously wasn't cold now. He'd shrugged off his jacket and was lying back on the blanket Arthur had wrapped around him when they'd first entered the cave. The toast and melted cheese was rapidly vanishing, crumbs spilling onto the blanket. Merlin had his eyes closed, savouring the taste.
It was definitely an enchanted cave. It was making Arthur think things that he shouldn't think about a servant. The way he was enjoying that toast was almost obscene, the greasy cheese sliding off and almost missing his mouth except his tongue shot out and caught it just in time. Arthur watched that tongue lick around Merlin's lips, trying not to think of other things it could be doing.
The cave was obviously evil, owned by a sorcerer. The sorcerer was probably watching them, planning some wicked and evil fate for them while Arthur was distracted by servants and toast and things that really shouldn't be distracting him.
"Don't you want that?" Merlin sat up, gesturing towards Arthur's own toast, forgotten by the prince. Some of the cheese had dripped off onto the floor of the cave.
Arthur stared at it. "I don't know if we should eat it. It could be enchanted."
Merlin rolled his eyes, grabbed the dagger and broke off a large piece of toast.
He was doing it again, that thing with the closed eyes and the tongue.
"And look, I haven't turned into a donkey..."
"That's a matter of opinion. There's your ears..."
"Oi!" Merlin broke off another piece of toast, but this time offered it to Arthur. "Open up."
It was ludicrous, being fed like a baby from Merlin's hand. But the fingers lingered against his mouth and he couldn't help licking at them. Merlin stared at him, his eyes suddenly dark.
"There was cheese..." Arthur explained. He knew it sounded pathetic. Merlin didn't seem to care. He shuffled closer, broke off another piece and quite deliberately let the cheese stretch so that it was hanging down against his hand, his wrist, his arm, and it all tasted wonderful. Merlin tasted wonderful, and thank the gods that it was so warm and he could strip his servant bare and taste every inch of him.
The cave was definitely, definitely enchanted.
Arthur didn't care.