The snow had blown into huge drifts against the inside walls of the courtyard. Pristine white and gleaming in the winter morning's light, it reminded Merlin of the sheets on Arthur’s bed. He stamped his feet and, cupping his hands over his mouth, blew into them in a vain attempt to warm his nose. It was much too easy to imagine how Arthur would look spread out on those white sheets, naked except for his red tunic rucked up almost to his chin, powerful legs spread wide and bent at the knee, his feet flat on the bed, his strong beautiful hands gripping the rungs of the bedstead over his head.
“Merlin,” Arthur shouted, his voice carrying across the empty courtyard; no one else would be foolish enough to be out on such a day. They would be unlikely to even encounter a fox in the fields and hills surrounding Camelot.
Reaching Merlin and clapping him on shoulder, Arthur said, “Here is your chance to show me that you are truly as bright as you claim to believe you are. There is only one right answer. Should we leave as planned, or go back inside and wait until the weather improves?”
“Do you promise that it’s not a trick question?”
“It might be a test, but on my honor it is not a trick,” Arthur said, placing his hand over his heart.
“We should go back to bed.”
He squeezed Merlin’s upper arm in a gesture of encouragement. “Ah, Merlin. I retract everything I ever said disparaging your intelligence.”
“Great.” Merlin made no attempt to control an ear-to-ear grin. “I’ll gladly accept your apology, if you let me top.”
Arthur mouth dropped open in a melodramatic imitation of shock and horror.
Merlin shook his head at him, fists on his hips. “Come on! You know it’s overdue and don’t even try to deny that you always really like it too. It’s been at least a couple of weeks.”
“All right. All right. Fine. Don’t whine, Merlin. It really is unattractive.”
“Yes!” Merlin pumped the air with glee. “Do you know what I imagined when I saw the snow sloping up against the castle walls like that, stretching out all clean and soft, and, ah, yes, well, all snowy white? Do you know what it reminded me of?”
“I have no idea, Merlin. But I have the sinking feeling that I am going to find out. In great and torturous detail.”