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Winter Battles

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"Arthur....," Merlin's eyes were wide, face pressed against the window. Snow was falling heavily, gathering on everything (and everyone) in sight. "Look!"

"What about it?" Arthur sighed, bending down over his work and adding a few more words before fiercely scribbling it all out again. "It's just snow, Merlin. Are you trying to tell me you've never seen /snow/ before?"

Merlin rolled his eyes. "Of course I've seen snow, you clotpole. But it's the first snowfall of the winter-- come on. Come outside with me." He trotted over and leaned over the desk. "If you do, I'll finish that speech off for you. Promise."

Arthur glanced up at Merlin, whose blue eyes were wide and pleading. "Please?'

"Oh, all right," he laughed, climbing out of his chair and pulling on his winter cloak, wrapping it firmly around him. "Let's go, then."

Merlin let out a whoop of laughter, grabbing his own (hand-me-down) winter cloak and securing it tightly before grabbing Arthur's hand and leaning up to kiss him on the nose. "Thank you," he breathed and Arthur laughed before swatting him away. "Come on, you."

Merlin scurried around, picking up various pieces of winter clothing and assisting Arthur in wrapping himself up. He literally bounced as he was walking, excited to get out in the first snowfall of the year. Arthur pulled on some gloves and then grabbed Merlin by the scarf, half-dragging him out into the hallway. "You want to go outside? Well, then, let's go!"

The other boy let out a half-stifled cheer, hand spasming like he was going to grab Arthur's hand and then considered better of it as a guard walked by. But Arthur had no such qualms-- he wasn't going to let the council dictate his every move and grabbed Merlin's gloved hand, squeezing it softly. The resulting smile of pleasure was worth the small rebellion, he thought.

Together they emerged through the front doors of the castle to see the entire ground covered with massive white drifts of snow. Merlin let out a squeal of pure pleasure, racing down the stairs and almost slipping on the hidden ice underneath in his haste to just grab a handful of the stuff.

Arthur, trying to be the more sophisticated of the pair, had to hold down his own overwhelming sense of pure childish glee. Merlin's energy was contagious, but he wasn't going to make a fool of himself. He was the /King/, for gods sake.

That is, until the first snowball nailed him in the back of the neck, slush dripping down the back of his cloak and ripping an unmanly yell out of his lips as liquid ice trickled down his spine. "/MER/LIN!" he roared, tuning to look at the manservant in question, standing with another snowball already formed in his hand and blue eyes glowing in mirth.

For a moment Arthur forgot completely what he was angry about, Merlin's glittering blue eyes in his pale face, tinged with just a slight blush from the cold. Then the next snowball clipped him straight in the chest, causing him to gasp.

This was not a playful little scrabble.

This was war.

With a yell, Arthur formed a snowball and launched it with the pure precision of a Knight of Camelot straight at Merlin. It clipped the boy in the side, a lucky leap being the only thing to keep it from smashing him straight in the chest. Merlin gasped, falling over into the snow, ducking his head to protect it from the furious onslaught.

"Hey, hey, hey!" he said with a small chuckle. But Arthur knew he was just pretending to be hurt, already making more snowballs behind the banister he was crouching behind. Merlin already had a small pile of ammunition next to him and was hurriedly making more.

It wasn't until the next snowball crashed onto the wall two centimeters from Arthur's head, dripping icy slush down on his hair, that Arthur truly realized they were in a battle to the death. Snowballs flew from both directions, the boys ducking in and out of their protection to hurl snowballs and breathy insults at the other. Arthur had steadily crept closer throughout the firing and soon stood up, red cloak bright against the white backdrop.

"Peace!" he said with a gasping laugh. "Merlin, peace."

Merlin stuck his soaking wet head out from behind the banister with a quizzical look. When no more snowballs came he dropped his own, climbing to his feet and brushing lingering snow off his trousers. He padded forward, boots crunching in snow packed down by their stomping feet.

Arthur waited until Merlin was a few steps away before he struck, leaping forward and pulling the manservant down into a big pile of untouched snow. At the force of their bodies slamming into it snow puffed up in the air, muffling out Merlin's yelp of surprise. Arthur (the mighty King of Camelot) took a handful of snow and shoved it down Merlin's shirt, causing the boy to cry out and writhe in the snow as the freezing water dripped down his warm skin. Not to be undone, Merlin shoved Arthur down into the snow, shoving handfuls of the white stuff into his face.

This soon deteriorated from tactical strategy to full-out wrestling, rolling over one another and laughing loudly between fake threats and insults, faces red and eyes bright. Arthur finally managed to use his brute strength to pin Merlin underneath him, the boy glaring up and breathing heavily.

"I've finally got you," he hissed, glancing down, entranced by Merlin's bright eyes.

"What are you going to do to me, sire?" Merlin teased, laughing despite the fact that, in Arthur's eyes, he should be petrified.

"I'm going to enact my revenge," Arthur promised before pressing his lips down onto Merlin's. He tasted of snow and winter, lips cold, but soon they were warm together. Merlin's hand reached up and secured itself into the back of Arthur's cloak, kissing firmly. Neither of them cared that they were still in the middle of the courtyard or in a snowdrift--- all they could consider was that they were together.

The snow beneath them steadily melting and soaking into Merlin's shirt, he was forced to pull away, prompting a whimper of displeasure from Arthur. "Cold," he gasped. Together they staggered to their feet, Merlin pulled under Arthur's cloak and pressed against his body, giggling. Arthur pressed a forbidden kiss to Merlin's temple, right at the place where it was slightly red and flushed from the fight and the kissing.

They both climbed into the castle, Merlin grabbing Arthur's hand and instead of going back to his room they made a detour at the kitchens, where the chef's assistant, Catherine, laughed loudly at the sight of them and handed them two freshly brewed cups of hot chocolate. Holding the cups close they huddled down near the raging cooking fires, out of the way of the bustling of the kitchens. Hidden behind a few sacks of potatoes they sipped their hot chocolate and licked it off each other's lips while their clothes steamed and dried by the raging flames.

"Thank you," Arthur finally said once he drained the last of his cocoa, leaning back against the sacks of potatoes, laughing softly.

"For what?" Merlin grinned, still with a tinge of red across his nose and cheekbones.

"For forcing me out of my room and into the snow, where, for a second I forgot I was the King of Camelot and could just have /fun/," he whispered, leaning over to capture Merlin's lips again. Merlin responded in kind before breaking away.

"You always look so stressed," he murmured, smoothing Arthur's hair under his hand. "You just need some time to appreciate the little things. Besides.... the snow would be no fun without you."

Arm and arm the two relaxed back against the potato sack, staring into the flames. A few hours later Catherine would peek behind the sacks and find her king and his manservant dozed off together in wet clothes, resting against the other.