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Under the Sheets

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The morning was cold, foggy and damp. Merlin thought as he shoved himself upright that one's bedding was always at its most soft and warm when you couldn't stay in it.

Arthur, of course, was still reveling in that fact when Merlin brought him his breakfast. "Good morning, Your Highness!" Merlin sang out cheerfully, knowing it would annoy him, and let the dishes clatter a bit on the table. Arthur opened one blue eye and mumbled something that sounded like, "Mrphurgle," and rolled onto his other side, his back to Merlin.

"Arthur, you know you have to meet your father in an hour," Merlin said and went to bed. He pulled back the heavy curtain and grasped the thick coverlet. "You haven't even bathed yet."

Arthur shot out one bare, muscled arm and wrapped it around his waist, pulling Merlin onto the bed without much trouble. Merlin squawked and fell in a tangle of limbs and bedding, and stared into Arther's eyes as Arthur smiled at him demurely.

"Good morning, Merlin," he said and planted a kiss between Merlin's brows. "If I meet my father in an hour that means I have thirty minutes before I must eat and dress. And that means we have thirty minutes it enjoy this lovely morning."

"Lovely?" Merlin repeated. "It's cold as December outside and I can't even see across the courtyard, the fog's so thick."

"Exactly," Arthur said in a satisfied tone. "Lovely." He pulled the sheets and coverlet over Merlin, despite Merlin's protests of "I'm still wearing my shoes" and "Some of us don't have time to lounge in bed all day, my lord." No, Arthur tucked Merlin in beside him as if they'd spent the night pleasuring each other, his arm curled around Merlin to hold him to his bosom.

And the fact of the matter was, it was lovely. The sheets were warm, Arthur's skin was warm, and Merlin's fingers, which had been cold ever since he had to break the ice across the top of the bowl in order to wash his face, began to tingle as warmth returned to them.

He expected Arthur to start pawing at him – the prince was not often tactful in communicating his desire – but Arthur only continued holding him, thumb idly brushing the nap of his neck. Merlin frowned, puzzled, and then slid his hand down Arthur's stomach.

Arthur stopped him, his hand wrapped around Merlin's wrist. "There isn't time."

"Then what do you want?"

"To lie here and be warm together for a while."

Merlin started to answer, then simply said, "Oh," because it was the only answer he had.

After a moment longer, Arthur said, "Anytime you wish to stay the night with me rather than hurry off, so that we can repeat this without the theatrics, would be welcome."

"Gaius would wonder where I slept."

"You are my manservant. I have the right to demand you stay with me sometimes."

"Yes, of course," Merlin murmured.

"And you are my lover, and sometimes I would like to wake up with you." Merlin looked at him, skeptical, and Arthur had a contented smile that Merlin suspected only he ever saw.

"Very well," Merlin said and closed his eyes to enjoy a few more minutes of warmth and softness and Arthur's breath ruffling his hair.

End.