I am probably going to label all of the stories I write for these guys with the 'Exiles' title, so everyone knows they are all part of the same series. Gwaine also makes an appearance in this, because I am going to get him in with this group in another story I have in my mind, which would chronologically be the first - when I manage to write it. Plus he was perfect for the part he has in this. I hope that makes sense. Enjoy!
Merlin shifted uncomfortably. They had been trapped in the cave for two days while the blizzards raged outside. In the interests of preserving firewood, and giving Merlin time to rest from providing light via magic, when they grew tired they all bedded down together in the dark, using body heat to warm each other.
Arthur was spooning into Merlin's back, which was fine, Merlin was lovely and warm thanks to that. The only problem was Gareth on the other side, who was fast asleep and shifting around, turning to face Merlin and curling up. In the tangle of limbs he was trying to lift his leg where Merlin really didn't want it going, and he had a fight on his hands to stop the knight from doing so. Merlin's shifting about nudged Arthur, who huffed and tried to pin Merlin down.
"What are you doing Merlin?"
"Trying to keep Gareth under control."
"What's he doing?" Arthur's asked in sleepy amusement.
"Let's just say, I'd rather he didn't put his knee where he's trying to get it."
Arthur gave a murmur of confusion. His arm was wrapped around Merlin's torso, but he now moved his hand downwards to investigate the issue. He patted a trail down Merlin's chest and stomach, then to his hip and down the side of his leg and round to find Gareth's leg jammed between Merlin's. He took hold of the material of Gareth's trousers and pushed his leg down.
"Stop it, Gareth."
The knight shifted and settled down obeying Arthur's commanding tone even when he was asleep. Arthur settled down again, Merlin shifted to lie on his back making Arthur sigh heavily.
"Merlin, stop it, you're going to disturb everyone else."
"Why the hell am I stuck in the middle anyway?"
"You were the one complaining you were getting cold," Arthur said.
"What's Merlin moaning about now?" Jonas asked from Arthur's far side.
"I could just sleep on my own, and keep the cave warm, I'm sure I know a spell for heating the air."
"Except the last time you tried to maintain a spell for that length of time you fainted, at least three times. There is nothing wrong with keeping warm this way," Arthur said. "Puppies do it."
"We are not puppies."
From the far end Gwaine yapped and then started to pant.
"I don't even want to know what you're doing," Arthur told him.
"Think yourself lucky you're not next to him, you know he said he could seduce women in his sleep, he certainly talks about it enough during," Jonas said.
"I do not!" Gwaine snapped.
"Yes, you do, I got it last night," Robert said, also having been woken by the disturbance. "We should put Merlin next to him, he can pick up some ideas for when we next go to a tavern. I've never know anyone attract tavern maids like he does. Shut up," he added to Rupert who lay behind him, snoring into his back, oblivious to the conversation.
"It's that lost puppy look Merlin has," Arthur said.
"And we're back to puppies," Jonas said. Gwaine yapped again, oofing as Jonas elbowed him in the ribs.
"Hey!" Gwaine objected, shoving Jonas, who rocked into Arthur. Arthur shifted closer to Merlin, keeping him pinned down by one arm across him.
"Now look what you've done," Arthur said.
"It's not my fault, I was just trying to preserve my…" Merlin paused.
"What?" Gwaine asked.
"That would take us back to the tavern maids," Arthur said, causing the knights who were awake to start laughing.
"Oh, for…" Merlin muttered under his breath, the power surged out and the knights around him started snoring and Arthur's body relaxed against him. "That's better," Merlin said to himself shifting again, knowing that no one was going to wake up again until much later. He pushed the bedding about so he had some protection between himself and Gareth and turned and snuggled himself back against Arthur, who obligingly let him. Merlin settled down and closed his eyes.
"Never mind puppies," he said, listening to the snoring. "It's more like bears."
He paused and considered that, wondering how long they would actually end up having to stay in the cave. Merlin laughed and pondered a further thought.
"I wonder if it's possible for knights to hibernate for the winter."