Summary: The snow brings out the inner-child in Merlin, and maybe the one in Arthur, too.
Word Count: 2,109
Author's Notes: Hey, you! I'm sorry if this isn't quite what you wanted, but I hope it's cute and fluffy enough, at least. I wasn't sure if you wanted canon or modern!AU, so I decided to stick with the good ol' canon verse, because hey, that's always pretty swell, right? It's a great "everyone lives" fic. Hope you enjoy it, and Happy Holidays!
Disclaimer:Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.
“Where is that dollophead?”
Gwen hides a smile behind her hand and Lancelot turns away, clearing his throat, a grin tugging at his lips. From across the snow covered practice field, Gwaine snorts and Leon looks as though he's trying incredibly hard not to laugh, the corner of his mouth gently curving upwards.
Arthur narrows his gaze accusingly at them, taking on the posture of the clearly-not-amused king. He drags his eyes over them, able to tell right away they know something he doesn't.
“I believe,” Leon begins, ever loyal despite still fighting back a smile. “That our esteemed court sorcerer is in the town. Playing in the snow, sire.”
Arthur rolls his eyes, because yes, he knows Merlin well enough to entertain the thought. He'd had a feeling that the snow would bring out the inner-child in Merlin, as it always had the years before. But since it is the first year of his position as court sorcerer, Arthur would've liked to think he'd be a little more responsible.
Clearly, Arthur is mistaken.
“Back to training!” he barks at them, and they groan, but in a good-natured way. Gwaine is probably the loudest, dramatic as always, but Arthur focuses on Gwen, whose gaze firmly states she isn't leaving, or training, for that matter.
(One day, he will regret making her a lady of the court, and a member of his council. Surprisingly, that day is not today.)
He rolls his eyes and stalks off, ignoring the idle chatter and suspicious giggles that comes from behind him. Gods, he needs new knights, advisors, and friends, for that matter. The lot he's saddled with are a bunch of lunatics and back-stabbers who like the court sorcerer more than their own king.
The crunch of snow under his boots follows him the entire way, annoying him further with each step he takes. Not to mention he's constantly trying not to trip on his cloak. Arthur is pretty sure there is nothing more in the entire world that he hates right now more than snow. Well—he'll take that back. He's pretty sure he hates Merlin a little more.
When he walks through the town, the sound of laughter reaches his ears before he even sees anyone. Upon closer inspection, he catches the stark contrast of dark hair in the white wonderland, and moves closer.
Merlin is smiling, laughing along with the children as he weaves the snow into shapes with his magic. With wide gestures and smooth, murmured words, the snow springs to life. A hare pops up and darts through the children, causing them to gasp in awe, before it disperses seconds later, and a dog is conjured up in its place, springing forward before it begins to chase its own tail. At this, the children laugh, clapping their small hands in applause. With a wave of his fingers, it collapses, and rises up from the pile as a bird, beating its wings and swirling high above their heads.
The children squeal at this, their voices mingling together as Merlin reaches out his hand, the snow bird resting comfortably on it. It tilts its head, a little bit of snow falling from it as it does so.
“Merlin,” Arthur interrupts, just as Merlin opens his mouth to say something else.
The court sorcerer cuts off whatever thought he was going to say, and turns back to his king, the snow bird crumbling as he does so. He takes one look at Arthur and grins, albeit sheepishly, shrugging his shoulders.
But the sheepish, awkwardness is gone in an instant. He makes a grand gesture of bowing, low and subservient, as if he ever was. “My king. So kind of you to grace us with your mighty presence.”
The amount of insult Merlin can put into one single sentence that's meant to be proper will never cease to amaze Arthur. Just when he thinks Merlin has reached his limit, he'll insult him more, and by the Gods, it's ridiculous.
“Yes,” he bites out, narrowing his gaze. “And, much as I love to visit my people, I cannot understand why my presence is entirely necessary here at this time. Any ideas, Merlin?”
Merlin's own gaze narrows slightly, a challenge glistening in his eyes. His smile widens, tilting his head. The children giggle behind him. “Can't say I do, my lord. Perhaps you'd fancy a game?”
“A game?” Arthur scoffs, crossing his arms. “Merlin, this is ridiculous. You're my court sorcerer now, you don't have time to be flitting around the town whenever you please, and I certainly don't have time to come and fetch you whenever I require you! So no, I really don't fancy--”
He's abruptly cut off when a burst of cold hits him square in the face, snow sprinkling into his eyes, collar, and hair. He wipes the snow away furiously, clearing his vision. “Merlin!”
Merlin laughs, clutching at his stomach, the children laughing along with him. He wipes at his eyes, shaking his head as he breathes out, “Oh, stars above, Arthur, your face--!”
Arthur, never one to be outdone, kneels down and grabs a handful of the snow, compacting it together quickly before throwing it straight back at him. When it makes contact, Merlin stops, looking up, mouth open in shock.
The king grins, smug. It's very rare that he can surprise Merlin in such a way. The children chorus in awe, before bursting out into another fit of giggles. Merlin closes his mouth, eyes flaring as he shakes his head. “Children, you might want to look away. I think the king has just declared war.”
“Is that suppose to scare me?” Arthur drawls, raising a brow. “Really, Merlin, your intimidation skills are as abysmal as your skills as a manservant.”
Merlin's lips quirk back into a sly grin, and Arthur does not like that look at all.
“True as that may be,” Merlin quips, eyes suddenly glimmering in gold. “I am an excellent sorcerer.”
Before Arthur can muster a retort, an unseen force yanks him by the leg, sending him straight to the ground. Snow puffs up all around him, and he's filled with quick jolt of cold, up and down his back. “Merlin!”
He curses the day he ever thought it was a good idea to make the cheeky bastard his court sorcerer. He begins to pull himself to his feet, but Merlin is already on him, tossing himself at him to pin him to the ground, snow flying up all around them from the impact. Arthur sucks in a wheezing breath, partly because he's trying not to laugh, and partly because Merlin, for all his gangly appendages and tall form, is a lot heavier than he looks. Sprawled in a tangle of limbs, Merlin shifts, straddling his hips.
Merlin's grin is triumphant, eyes glittering with mirth as he presses the palm of his hands to Arthur's shoulders, holding him there in light grip. “You were saying?”
“Please,” Arthur mocks, shrugging his shoulders just to prove Merlin's hold isn't tight enough. “I could toss you off any second I wanted to. You've got no muscle in that bony body of yours. As if you could keep me here.”
“Then by all means,” Merlin says, but Arthur definitely doesn't trust him, the way Merlin's eyes droop slightly, and how his voice drawls on, like a dare. “Better do it quick, lest the children thing the grand and glorious king was felled by a scrawny sorcerer.”
Arthur waits about three seconds, enough time for Merlin to be curious but not enough to be suspicious, and pushes back at him, only to find that he can't quite sit all the way up. It's definitely not Merlin pinning him down—rather, it feels an awful like something is holding him to the ground, pulling back against him.
It feels, his thinks with a glare, an awful lot like magic.
“You,” Arthur accuses, patting at the snow fruitlessly. “Are a little cheat.”
Merlin looks thoughtful, giving him one of his famous ear-to-ear grins. “I don't know what you're talking about.”
“Oh, really,” the king replies, pressing his lips into a thin line. “So, I just happen to not be able to get up, then?”
The warlock shrugs, batting his eyes innocently. “Well, clearly I'm the stronger of the two of us,” Arthur snorts, but Merlin barrels on as if he hadn't heard him. “And that means I deserve a reward for conquering you.”
“I shouldn't think,” Arthur interrupts again. “That you deserve a reward for pinning me to the ground, by cheating mind you, in a child's snowball fight.”
“I think I do,” Merlin hums, and leans down to kiss him in front of anyone and everyone around.
This is not one of the earth-shattering, breathtaking, delirious, and beautiful kisses that you hear about in the stories, the ones that will make your heart soar and make you realize all that you've been missing—but it is pretty nice, Arthur will admit. Merlin's lips are freezing and a little chapped from the biting and licking at them he always does when he's nervous, and the angle is a little awkward, given their positions, but, on the whole, it's kind of lovely. And really, really, really long overdue.
He kisses back as fiercely as he can, until slowly he feels the magic holding him uncoil, and he sits up, never letting go, never breaking contact as they continue to kiss, open-mouthed and hot. Merlin fists his fingers in Arthur's hair, and Arthur pulls him up and closer until he brackets their hips together, seating the warlock firmly in his lap.
After a minute (it feels like seconds), Merlin pulls away, laughing against his lips as Arthur groans. “There are children watching.”
“Fuck the children,” Arthur growls, digging his fingers into his hips. “You can't just start something and not suffer the consequences.”
But there's a glint in Merlin's eyes, a hint of mischief that Arthur recognizes. Realization dawns on him, and he opens his mouth, presumably to argue, but Merlin kisses him again, silencing any protest.
“You planned this,” Arthur tells him anyway, accusing and affectionate in one tone. “And those bastards knew about it.”
“Well, you weren't making a move,” Merlin shrugs, the picture of nonchalance. “So, someone had to.”
Arthur rolls his eyes, a huff escaping his lips. “I need new friends. And a new sorcerer.”
The warlock chuckles, and Arthur moves to kiss Merlin again, because, well, he can, but Merlin jerks his head back. Arthur finds himself a trifle confused at this.
“Children,” he practically sings, and for fucks' sake, Arthur just grunts, shoving Merlin from his lap.
“Ah! Hey! Arthur!”
The king stands up, dusting the snow from his cloak and hair. Merlin is glaring up at him, and he yanks his warlock onto his feet. Merlin squawks indignantly.
“You're such a brute,” Merlin informs him, as if Arthur hasn't been told as much a million times before, all by him.
“Yes, well,” Arthur drawls, raising a brow. “You'll live, I assure you. And now we,” he stresses, daring him to retaliate. “Are going back to the castle. And after we get there, I am also going to replace some knights.”
Merlin just smirks, clearly holding in a laugh. Arthur goes on, leaning a bit closer to his ear.
“And once that's taken care of,” he says lowly, grinning a bit on his own. “We're going to finish what we started.”
From the way Merlin's eyes darken, he seems to like that idea. But still, he glances to the kids, and opens his mouth. But Arthur continues, “Once the children return to their homes safely, of course,” he says, with a meaningful look to the children still gathered, idly watching their king and sorcerer.
They grin, a few of the girls stiffing their laughs and the boys grinning from ear to ear. Arthur can't help but smile back.
The warlock beams, seemingly content with this idea. For once, Arthur thinks he might honestly have been able to get the last word, without some smarmy retort.
He is wrong, for Merlin, cheeky Merlin, bows his head, and with a smirk, says obediently, “Of course, my liege.”
But for all the insults and wit, Arthur doesn't mistake the affection, the love, warm and strong, in his tone.
“Come on,” Arthur grumbles, moving to put his arm around him, but instead, Merlin's hand finds his own, gentle and assuring, steadfast as Merlin is and always has been.
He'll deny it until his last breath, but his heart flutters a bit at that. And damn him, if he doesn't love him too.