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Early Bird

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Merlin hummed as he opened his eyes. The sun was playing over his bare back, warming his skin from where Arthur’s cloak had slipped from his shoulders during the night. He blinked, adjusting his eyes before a soft smile unfurled as he stared down at the sleeping prince he had been cushioned on. Resting a gentle hand on Arthur’s chest, Merlin pushed himself into a sitting position. Tucking the cloak back around his love, he watched Arthur sleep for a few moments before turning his attention to what had awoken him.

The sound of birds singing filled the air around him and Merlin grinned as he stretched. Climbing to his feet, his grin morphed into a smirk as he felt his muscles twinge from what they had been doing before falling asleep. He had known getting Arthur out of the castle had been a good idea and once Merlin had stripped, the prince had relaxed quicker than Merlin had deemed possible. But for now, he found his britches and slipped them on. He didn’t bother with anything else. The sun was warm enough and he enjoyed the feeling of the dirt scrunching in his toes. He had lived in Camelot for years now, but he was still a country boy at heart.

Moving away from Arthur, Merlin breathed in the fresh air. The winter had been a long and harsh one and he knew the troubles weren’t over until they knew how good the harvest would be. But the sun was shining and the trees were beginning to bud. Spring was in the air and Merlin took another deep breath, filling his lungs. The castle was cold, draughty and miserable; it had been for months. He hoped that by riding out, Arthur would find a way to bring some of the sunshine back to his people and lift the mood blanketed over the kingdom.

Now was not the time to worry though. Merlin walked to the edge of their clearing, resting his hand on the bark of a tree. He had another reason to love spring. His magic connected him to nature and feeling everything coming alive with the turning of the weather made him feel light and free. Even the simple contact of touching the tree had his magic singing and he was sure it wasn’t his imagination when another couple of buds appeared on what had previously been a bare branch. A bird chirped at him before taking flight and Merlin watched its progress, blinding himself in the rising sun.

“What are you doing?” Arthur’s voice was lined with sleep and he looked disorientated as he tried to sit up. Merlin smiled at him and honestly felt as if every part of him was lighting up with contentment. Judging by the way Arthur had to blink and shake his head slightly, the prince had noticed. “What are you looking so happy about?”

Not letting Arthur’s morning grumpiness ruin his mood, Merlin moved back to his prince. Kneeling down, he gently cupped Arthur’s face and drew him in for a kiss. It was sweet and chaste; nothing like the night before. But Arthur melted into it and Merlin swallowed his soft sigh with a smile. The cloak fell away as Arthur moved closer and Merlin let his hands drift until Arthur was scrabbling for purchase in the ground before falling back, eyes wide and dazed.

“Good morning,” Merlin said. Arthur stared at him, his expression incredulous.

“Much as I would love wake-up calls like that every morning, are you going to answer the question about what has you in such a good mood?”

Merlin shifted until he was sprawled next to Arthur, resting a hand once again on the prince’s chest and letting his fingers draw patterns on it. Arthur sucked in a breath when Merlin brushed over a ticklish bit and the warlock softly laughed, ducking his head to kiss the same patch.

“Can’t you feel it?” he murmured. His tongue traced where his fingers had danced and he looked up at the prince through his eyelashes. “The forest is waking up. Spring is finally here. The sun is actually warm and the air is fresh. Winter has gone.”

Arthur twisted his head to look around and Merlin took that time to continue working his way up Arthur’s chest until he reached his neck. But by that point, the prince was coming to the same reasoning that Merlin had; their troubles were effectively over with this new burst of sunshine. Arthur moved his head back just as Merlin attempted to kiss his jaw and instead found himself locked in a heated kiss with the man he loved. This time, it was Arthur who swallowed his moan and Merlin was soon bucking into his touch.

But to his surprise, Arthur pulled back, smirked and spread his legs in clear invitation. Merlin was startled.

“Are you sure?” Although he was happy in any position, he knew Arthur preferred being on top. He supposed it was the prince’s confidence issues. But this time, Arthur took Merlin’s hand and guided him closer even while tugging his britches down again.

“I might be spent, but you’re not,” he murmured. His voice was soft and coy and Merlin was unable to resist. Before long, the sound of birdsong was matched only by their moans as Merlin fought to keep Arthur’s leg over his shoulder as he tried to get deeper than physically possible. By the time he collapsed in a panting heap – his head once again on Arthur’s chest – Merlin had decided that he had another reason for enjoying the spring. Not only was his magic alive and vibrant, the joy it was bringing to Arthur knowing he didn’t need to worry about the cold anymore meant Merlin’s heart was beating far faster than he was used to at this time in the morning.

“It’s a new beginning,” Arthur whispered. Merlin could only agree, sated and satisfied for the first time in months.