Disclaimer – I do not own Merlin nor any characters or settings there from. Also I am not making any profit off these writings.

Warnings – None that I can think of, fluff, pre-slash and some very, very vague innuendo.

This is written for the amazing ImperialMint for being the wonderful person that she is. She deserves so much more than this.

Socks.

Merlin lifted the hatch and opened the door, slid into Arthur's chambers with another look around to check that he wasn't followed and closed the door securely behind him again. He felt the hidden bump he carried under his brown jacket as he made his way to the prince's bed and admitted to himself that he was being ridiculous. He was behaving guiltier now then when he was doing magic, it was all so silly but somehow, somehow this meant more. This was something he had made himself with his own hands during the sparse hours off duty that he had and by doing this he opened himself up to a whole new range of ridicule.

Biting his full lower lip Merlin reached inside his jacket and pulled out his lumpy burden. They weren't much to look at; even Merlin had to confess that. Made from plain gray wool, a bit lopsided and as Merlin eyed them critically he noticed that he had managed to make one shaft longer than the other. Ah well, not much to do about it now. He placed the knitted socks on Arthur's pillow and pulled the heavy comforter back in place to hide them.

It hadn't escaped Merlin that now when winter had Camelot in a firm grip Arthur's feet were always like ice. Both in the morning when he helped the prince get dressed for the day and at night when he helped him get ready for bed. The rest of Arthur was warm and smooth and...Merlin abruptly forced his mind away from those thoughts and concentrated on the socks...Ah yes, no matter the temperature of the rest of Arthur's body his feet were always cold.

Merlin realized that Arthur only had to mention something in passing and he would have the finest sheep skin slippers or perfectly knitted socks by the dozen but this...This was something he could do for his prince. Knitting was probably not the most useful or manly skill to have but the winter nights were long in Ealdor and when you'd read the meager supply of books and scrolls available then you were desperate for something to occupy your hands and mind with.

Merlin turned to walk back out and came face to face with the prince himself, startling he jumped backwards, managing to knock over a bowl with winter apples, sending them in every direction.

"What are you doing skulking about my bedchamber this hour? You've already finished your services." Arthur's blue eyes were narrowed as he looked at his idiotic manservant as the other flailed about the room trying to gather the scattered apples.

"Nothing Sire, I just...I just was afraid that I hadn't stocked the fire properly and I wanted to make sure that it wouldn't go out." Merlin raised himself off the floor, armful of apples.

"Uh huh..." Arthur's tone was highly skeptic. "Well as touched I am by your concern for the fire and the temperature of my chambers I would appreciate it if you would be so kind as to get out and let me go to bed. Some of us actually have important duties in the morning and I can't bloody well get to sleep as long as I have moronic manservant's sneaking about making Mooney eyes at my bed now can I?"

"No Sire, I'll get going straight away." A soft blush had spread over Merlin's high cheekbones at the bed comment and he was already regretting leaving the socks there, too late to take them back now though. "Goodnight then your prattiness and I'll see you tomorrow." Before Arthur could make a retort Merlin was across the room and out the door, leaving the prince to roll his eyes at Merlin's insubordination.

When Merlin made his way up the stairs with Arthur's breakfast he tried not to think about the socks. Maybe he would be lucky enough that Arthur hadn't even noticed them, that way he could take them back and pretend like nothing. Maybe such a clot-pole as Arthur deserved to have cold feet; they could be sign of his cold heart. Sighing at his own childish thoughts Merlin pushed the door open and carried the tray inside.

"Ah Merlin, so nice of you to finally show up." Arthur stepped out from behind his screen already dressed. "I was beginning to think that the sun would have gone down again before you managed to drag your lazy ass up here and bring me my food."

"I'm not that late you dolt and if you were that hungry it wouldn't have killed you to use those princely legs to go down and get your own food." Merlin sat the tray down on the table with a heavy thump and went to gather up Arthur's discarded night clothes to take them down to the laundry. "And how did his highness sleep then?" There was still a bit of a bite to Merlin's voice.

"Funny you should ask." Arthur took a bite of his eggs and looked over at Merlin. "I slept better than I have in a long time, first night in forever that my toes weren't about to break off like bloody icicles."

Merlin spun around and his gaze landed on Arthur's feet...Arthur's feet clad in his lumpy woolen socks. A bright smile made its way to his features and Merlin had to look away before he made a complete arse out of himself.

"Yes," Arthur wiggled his sock clad toes. "I couldn't have asked for anything better...Except maybe a willing warm body next to mine but I suppose this will have to do." Arthur looked at Merlin from behind half lidded eyes as he spoke, hoping that Merlin would actually get the invitation this time. He couldn't believe how incredibly thick his manservant could be at times.

The blush was back on Merlin's cheeks and he looked everywhere but at Arthur. "Yes well...When breakfast is ready are you prepared to brave the winter cold and teach those knights of yours how to fight and all that?"

"Yes and since you've already cost me half the day by your snail paced actions I'd better get going." Arthur got up from the table and strode over to let Merlin help him on with his armor. Wearing metal all around your body midwinter was not the most pleasant thing and Arthur was already longing for training to be over. "At least today maybe I'll still have feeling in my feet when we're done." Arthur said as Merlin helped him on with his shoulder guards...Then in a voice barely beyond a whisper he said. "Thank you."

It was funny...Merlin's brilliant smile warmed almost as much as the socks...

~Fin~