PG-13, 950 words
The first burst of snow fell on Camelot all day.
Written for the first night challenge. Title swiped from Shakespare.
Morgana and Arthur were hunting for their charges, who seemed to have gone astray. Arthur appeared to be personally insulted by this turn of events.
"They're probably outside," said Morgana.
"You did notice it's been snowing all day."
"Yes, but what--"
Morgana pulled back a shutter. "Looks like it's finally stopped."
Arthur looked unmoved.
"Well, aren't you crown prince stick-in-the-mud," said Morgana.
"I am not, I-- take that back!"
"Only if you come outside with me." Morgana shrugged her cloak on. "I'll wager anything that's where Gwen and Merlin are."
"Idiot," Arthur muttered. "Merlin, I mean," he added hastily, "not Guinevere, she's probably trying to stop him going doe-eyed over the wonder of snowflakes or something."
"Or something," Morgana agreed. "So, are you coming?"
"Yes, yes. You're probably only luring me out there so you can smother me in a snowdrift."
"Only if you're excessively obnoxious," she assured him.
Outside, and the world was illuminated with reflected starlight, the ground white and glittering. The air was breathtakingly cold, and Morgana drew her cloak as tight as she could around her arms. All sound was muted, their footsteps soft and muffled as they walked out into the new-fallen snow.
There was a flickering light in the distance, and laughter drifting towards them. Arthur started marching forward as though he intended to put an instant stop to such frivolity, and Morgana hurried after him.
When they reached the others, Gwen's eyes were gleaming in the firelight, her hair loose and dusted with snow. She beamed when she saw them, and Morgana felt something curl a little inside her, a warmth in this frozen dark.
Arthur, meanwhile, was exasperated. "Merlin, have you no sense at all? You're hardly dressed for the outdoors."
Merlin was also bright against the cold, his face flushed and alight. "I gave my cloak to Gwen," he said.
"I tried to--" Gwen started.
Arthur waved her off. "Well, that was gallant of you, well done," he said to Merlin, "only now I shall have to do the same, I can't be having a servant whose appendages have been frozen off."
"Arthur, really, I'm--" Merlin began to protest.
Arthur ignored him and removed his cloak. He draped it over Merlin's shoulders as though it were of the greatest inconvenience, but it belied the care he took to fasten the clasp at the hollow of Merlin's throat.
"There, chivalry all round," he said, stepping back and glancing at Morgana.
"Don't think for a second you're getting mine," Morgana said, and everyone laughed.
"What are you two doing out here anyway?" Arthur asked. "Don't tell me Merlin's never seen snow."
"I've seen snow before," Merlin said in the tones of the long-suffering. "But it's the first snow we've had this winter."
"It's magical," Gwen said. "I mean - I don't mean magic, magic, the get us all into terrible trouble sort of magic . . ." Everyone shifted a little at that, the old well-known but unspoken truths rising up; Merlin and Morgana smiled tightly at each other. "It's just -- special. Worth the cold."
Morgana's smile grew genuine at that, and she reached down to touch the snow, dipping her fingers deep into the crisp coldness and leaving her mark. Gwen watched the motion of her hands, looking pleased.
Arthur responded to the close quiet of the moment by scooping up a handful of snow from a convenient bush and mashing it into Merlin's hair. Merlin yelped and kicked up a flurry of snow in Arthur's direction, who promptly forgot all of his royal dignity and barrelled a madly-laughing Merlin to the ground.
Morgana rolled her eyes, but she was glad to see that occasionally Arthur could still let go of all the ceremony that surrounded him and simply be young, just for a while.
"I'm sorry for dragging you out here," said Gwen. "I didn't think I'd worry you."
"No," said Morgana. "I just wanted to know where you were."
Gwen stepped closer, brushing slowly into Morgana's touch. "I'm right here."
Arthur was laughing weakly on the ground, covered in snow, and Merlin grinned with a self-satisfied expression of victory.
"It's getting late," Morgana said quietly.
Arthur and Merlin both stood up at that, a look between them that perhaps no one was meant to see.
"I suppose I should --" Merlin started, making a vague gesture in Arthur's direction.
"Yes, you probably ought to," Arthur agreed.
The air snapped tight with cold, the snow blank and boundless before them, the world was full of a sense of starting, and there was no choice but to feel it.
"Gwen?" Morgana asked.
Gwen nodded, and her shy smile matched Merlin's. Arthur was wide-eyed, a fresh and uncertain energy in him. Morgana didn't know quite what she felt at this long, shivering moment, undeniably heralding a change. There was low anticipation, and love, love for every part of Gwen, a fact never questioned but only considered now.
"Inside?" said Merlin, and they all agreed.
It was a slow walk back to the castle. Morgana leaned into the curve of Gwen's shoulder, and each step felt weighted with something that was not quite named.
The castle was sleeping, like the ground under its new covering of snow, and so there was no witness to two pairs parting at a certain corridor, walking towards what was both an end and a start, a last day but a first night, the world newly conceived.
A first kiss was given, from Merlin's lips to Arthur's cheek. A long-felt promise was first spoken, Gwen's voice in Morgana's ear. Later, Morgana will think it strange how the fierce cold of that winter gave rise to such warmth and light. Strange but fitting that there, at a time when everything sleeps, something started that would last much longer than that season, growing slowly past those months of snow.