Title: Winter's Bite
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Arthur would pay whatever price was needed to protect his people.
Word Count: 999
Author's Notes: Something a little bit different.
As soon as the first frost settled on the ground, Arthur left Camelot.
The autumn had been a harsh one, and from what Gaius was saying, the winter wasn’t going to be any better. Arthur knew what his father thought about magic, but at sixteen years old, he wasn’t about to let his father dictate what he did, said or thought. Not to mention he tended to trust Gaius’ opinion more than Uther’s. So when the old physician muttered things about the Winter God not being pleased, Arthur knew it was going to be up to him to do something. As a prince, he knew he was lucky he had stone walls and a roaring fire during the winter. But he wasn’t naïve; he knew his people didn’t share that luxury.
And he was not going to let them suffer just because some god – or sorcerer, as he secretly suspected – was in a bad mood.
But he knew he couldn’t go too soon, or it would be too early. Through the studies of the books he secretly stole from the library, he knew the first frost was the sign he was waiting for. He had learnt what to do and knew a price needed to be paid to save his people.
Arthur was confident he could deliver on whatever this god wanted. He was the youngest knight in years and knew his skills were impressive for his age. He wasn’t going to be intimidated.
Muffled in a thick cloak and strong gloves, Arthur led his horse from the stables at dawn, his footprints being the first to break through the frost. As soon as he was passed the gate, Arthur mounted up and rode long and hard into the forest. He knew he had to find somewhere where magic was in the air. Although personally he didn’t know anywhere, he had heard stories of a clearing. Through a little flattery, he had managed to pry a more exact location from a knight and knew it would take him most of the day to get there.
He was right. It was mid-afternoon by the time he dismounted, his legs cramped in the cold. Although he knew he was there, Arthur made sure he saw to his horse before trying anything else. He wanted to make sure he could make a quick escape if he needed to, and having a frozen horse wasn’t going to help matters. But by the time he knew the time had come, Arthur could feel his heart pounding hard in his chest. He refused to admit to being nervous, but his hands were trembling slightly as he turned. He knew summoning the god was treason in his father’s eyes.
But as he turned, Arthur jumped.
He wasn’t alone.
There was a figure watching him from the other end of the clearing, and without having to be told, Arthur suddenly knew that he wasn’t going to have to summon the god. The man was already there.
At least, Arthur thought he was a man. But no mortal could dress in just a strip of fabric around his waist. His skin was paler than any Arthur had ever seen and it made his hair look even more striking from where it contrasted. Even from the distance Arthur was at, he could see the icy blue of his eyes and felt a coldness penetrate him deeply.
“Why have you come here?” As the man spoke, Arthur realised that he didn’t look much older than the prince himself. Although he knew it was just an illusion, it filled him with confidence.
“I think you already know.”
The figure nodded, stepping into the clearing. For a reason Arthur couldn’t explain, he found that his eyes were roaming the god’s body hungrily. Fire was beginning to build within him, driving away the cold. He was only sixteen, he couldn’t help his body’s reaction to the sight in front of him. He would never admit it, but the god had seemed to have taken a form similar to ones that filled Arthur’s dreams at night.
“You know there is a price. Are you prepared to pay in order for me to indulge you?”
The fire in Arthur’s stomach grew and he fell to his knees before he was consciously aware of his actions.
“God, yes.” How he knew, he wasn’t sure. But he did. And for some reason, the cold never even crossed his mind as he clumsily stripped his clothes off. The god stood and watched him, his mouth tilted in an amused smile. But when Arthur was bare, the man’s eyes seemed to soften in something that could resemble compassion. As Arthur watched, his eyes flared gold and Arthur’s cloak was suddenly spread across the ground.
The voice was gentle and Arthur could only comply. It was only when the god knelt next to him and ran a hand up his thigh did Arthur realise he was shaking again.
“You smell of summer, princeling,” the god murmured.
“Is that bad?” Arthur asked, hating how young he sounded in that moment. He suddenly realised that he had no idea what he was truly walking into and had to fight to stop his legs from snapping shut as the god knelt between them.
“Not at all,” the amused look was back and he surged forward. Arthur’s hands scrunched in the fabric of his cloak as he cried out, his innocence taken in that one moment. He had never realised that would truly be the price to pay.
But pain turned to pleasure and as the future king of Camelot spilled for the first – although far from the last – time with a man inside him, the snow clouds that had been building suddenly seemed to disappear. Instead, a weak winter sun came out. It was nothing drastic, but would be enough to save the people.
Arthur would do it all again if he had to, and not just to save the people.