Disclaimer: Not mine, not for profit.
Word count: 1334
Summary: Merlin is cold. What sort of idiot goes hunting in winter anyway? Arthur has ideas about warming him up.
Merlin had never been so cold in his life. He stomped along behind Arthur, trying and failing to shake some warmth back into his feet and watching grumpily as the bottoms of his trousers filled with snow, which sent cold dampness climbing up his legs.
"Will you be quiet?" Arthur snapped for the millionth time.
"I'm COLD," Merlin said fiercely. "I'm beyond cold. I am so far beyond cold that I'm pretty sure the only way I could be any colder is if I were actually dead! What sort of idiot goes hunting in midwinter anyway?"
Arthur glared at him.
"The sort who has to bring home the centrepiece of the midwinter feast, that's who. And if you would stop making so much noise that everything can hear us coming for miles, we'd be home a lot quicker."
Merlin growled to himself, and tried to move more quietly.
Arthur managed to catch something eventually, a boar which Merlin personally felt was ridiculously scrawny for the amount of effort involved in obtaining it, and by then it was nearly sunset and they were clearly going to have to spend another night outside.
"I love hunting," Arthur announced happily, gesturing with his wineskin at the dark, cold clearing around them. Merlin sighed and moved as close to the fire as he could without actually burning himself.
"Being out here in the woods, all senses alert…"
"Maybe you should stop drinking then," Merlin said, as well as his chattering teeth would let him.
"Oh, relax," Arthur said, taking another gulp.
"Relax? What could be more relaxing than freezing to death in a forest in the middle of nowhere?" Merlin said. "It'll probably start snowing in a minute." He looked suspiciously at the sky, which remained clear and full of stars.
Arthur started laughing, and Merlin hunkered closer to the fire and glowered at him.
"Here, have some of this," he said, getting to his feet and handing the wineskin to Merlin before sitting down again next to him. Merlin weighed his options for a moment, then took a large gulp of the wine. He could feel Arthur near him, and had to resist the temptation to move into that warmth. Arthur didn't seem to notice and began on a long and rambling story about hunts he'd been on in the past. Merlin took another large gulp of the wine in self-defence. Arthur held out his hand for the wine and when Merlin handed it back to him their fingers brushed, sending a buzz down Merlin's spine.
"You're cold," Arthur said, sounding surprised.
"That's because we're outside in the middle of winter," Merlin said, watching Arthur fit his mouth to the wineskin. "Frankly, I'm surprised that you're not."
"Hot-blooded!" said Arthur with a snort. Merlin rolled his eyes, then shivered again. Arthur gave him a slightly concerned look.
"You really are cold," he said.
"I don't see why you're still surprised about this," Merlin said. "It's winter, it's cold and I don't have enough warm clothes. Now can we stop discussing this?"
Arthur glared at him and finished the wine.
"Sleep," he said firmly. Merlin blinked as Arthur got up and headed towards his bedroll. Merlin had already placed his own as close to the fire as he could but he'd already resigned himself to not getting any sleep. He was just about to get into it when Arthur spoke up.
"What are you doing?" he asked impatiently.
"Uh, sleeping, like you said?" Merlin said, hoping that this wasn't the sort of question that led to 'you can keep watch while I sleep'.
"You really think you're going to sleep all the way over there?" he said. "It's cold! I'm not willing to freeze to death."
"Combine bedrolls, idiot. Now get over here."
For once, Merlin did as he was told as quickly as possible. He blamed the wine for the fact that it was only once he'd arranged the blankets around them that he realised he'd now got an entirely new set of problems.
"Will you relax?" Arthur said, twenty minutes later. It took Merlin a surprising amount of time to respond to this because he was very busy lying rigidly still in an attempt to steal as much of Arthur's body heat as possible without actually touching him. It was only when Arthur prodded him that he realised Arthur had even said anything.
"I can't relax when I'm cold," he said, hoping Arthur would believe this. Arthur sighed and Merlin felt him move slightly. He had a moment of complete blank terror as he realised what was about to happen, and so didn't even manage to make a sound in protest before Arthur's body was pressed against his, chest to back and thigh to thigh.
"That better?" Arthur asked, so close that Merlin could feel his breath on the back of his neck. He didn't trust himself to make a sound, just nodded jerkily.
Merlin wasn't sure how long they lay like that. He was vividly, painfully award of every place their bodies touched; the rise and fall of Arthur's chest as he breathed, steady and slow but not asleep. Eventually, Merlin shifted his weight slightly, trying to get away from a stone that was lodged under his hip and also ease the pressure on his cock. The movement caused him to brush against Arthur's groin. Merlin heard him inhale sharply and Merlin froze for a moment, then turned over, trying to let as little warmth as possible escape.
"Was this what this was all about?" Merlin asked, with a wild hand gesture which was meant to imply their physical proximity and the shared blankets in that order but he suspected just looked obscene. Arthur grabbed Merlin's hand as it flailed rather too close to his face, shifting as he moved so that their hips weren't touching.
"I'm sorry," he said.
"I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable," Arthur continued.
"It's actually about me?" Merlin asked, and even in the dark he could see Arthur blush. "I mean, warm body proximity, bound to have an effect," and he was blushing too, he knew it.
"No," said Arthur, voice almost a croak. "No," he repeated more strongly. He tried to let go of Merlin's hand but Merlin gripped harder and refused to let him.
"Why didn't you say?" he asked, moving to press their bodies together all the way down. Arthur swallowed.
"How could I?" he said, and seemed about to say something else, but Merlin interrupted.
"Prat," he said fondly, and kissed him. Arthur kissed back immediately and without hesitation.
It was too cold to take many clothes off, so Merlin shoved his free hand up underneath Arthur's shirt, desperate to get his hands on some skin. Arthur pulled back slightly to give him a glare that was somewhat wild around the edges.
"Yes, yes, my hands are cold," Merlin laughed. He pinched Arthur playfully, a nice, broad-fingered pinch just under his shoulder blade. Arthur gave a strangled groan, blushing right up to his hairline.
"Really?" Merlin asked delightedly, pinching him again. Arthur kissed him hard and began attempting to unfasten his trousers, successfully distracting Merlin from this new discovery. He pinched once more for good measure, causing Arthur to buck sharply against him, before following Arthur's example.
Later, after he'd wiped his hand clean and fumbled their trousers back together, Merlin pressed his entire body against Arthur's and slid his hands back under Arthur's shirt.
"How can you possibly still have cold hands?" Arthur asked, but he didn't sound too annoyed so Merlin just said 'shh' and snuggled in closer.
"You're going to make my life hell, aren't you?" Arthur said, sounding resigned. Merlin gave him a very light pinch.
"I'm going to make you feel amazing," he promised sleepily. Arthur gave a snort and Merlin shushed him again.
When Merlin was almost asleep, he felt Arthur brush a kiss into his hair. Merlin felt the warmest he'd felt in days.