Arthur watched from the window in his room as Merlin flitted across the courtyard below, practically dancing in the snow. It was the first snowfall of the season, and the courtyard was glowing white and fresh with the promise of a cold winter. The sun had already set, but the courtyard was perfectly visible - the thick layer of snow was reflecting the moonlight and giving the place an eerie, almost magical look.

Merlin was standing in the middle of the courtyard, shivering in his scant clothes, and staring up at the sky. He looked completely unreal, frozen in a fairytale landscape, the sharp shadows on his face enough to turn him into a ghost.

Arthur closed his eyes against the tightness in his chest. Merlin always looked most at home, at most beautiful, when he was enjoying nature. He wasn't like Arthur - he didn't love the palace and the town and the shops and the people and the constant company. He preferred the country, his tiny village, wide spaces and animals and changes in the weather. He liked storm clouds and snow, lightening and frost.

When Arthur opened his eyes again, Merlin was gone and the courtyard was empty, save for the amassing snowflakes. He forced himself to turn away from the window and go back to his desk. He was supposed to be reading over a speech he had to give in two days. It was long and emotional and he hadn't memorized a single word of it yet.

He read the first paragraph three times before he realized that he wasn't taking in a single word. He was too distracted by the snow. It was making shadows against his window and it looked like it was snowing tiny black flakes on his desk.

Merlin came in, unannounced, and Arthur tossed his speech aside.

"I saw you," Arthur said, getting to his feet and walking around to lean against the front of his desk.

"Hm?" Merlin asked absently as he went around the room, lighting some more candles.

"Outside," Arthur clarified, watching Merlin carefully. He was flushed from the cold and there was snow melting into his scarf and his dark hair. "In the courtyard."

"You saw me walking?" Merlin asked, turning to face Arthur with an amused smirk. "Were you that desperate to avoid your speech? You watched me walking across the courtyard instead?"

Arthur tried to think of something more sensible or romantic to say, but came up with nothing. "Yes," he admitted, lamely. "Light a fire, would you? You'll catch your death if you let that cold snow melt all over you like that."

Merlin raised his eyebrow at Arthur's motherly tone, but went over to the fireplace, anyway. Arthur sat back down and pretended to go back to memorizing his speech while Merlin worked on the fire. He couldn't help but glance up every few seconds to admire Merlin's backside as it swayed in the air.

After a few minutes, Merlin stepped away from the crackling fire and went to stand in front of Arthur's desk.

"Will that be all for the night?"

Arthur glared pointedly at Merlin who only grinned in response.

"Let me set out your night clothes," Merlin said before crossing to the other side of the room and going through Arthur's wardrobe.

Arthur took advantage of Merlin facing away to get up from behind his desk and return to his spot by the window. He listened to Merlin pulling out his clothes and watched the snow falling in the dark courtyard.

There was a slight draft from the window and Arthur shivered from the contrast of the snow-cold wind in front of him and the warm fire behind him. Then Merlin's arms settled around him and Merlin's chest pressed against his back, and Merlin's nose nuzzled his hair.

"I miss this," Merlin breathed against Arthur's skin.

Arthur smiled widely, his lips moving of their own accord as he tried to control the strange fluttering ache in his chest, and covered Merlin's hands with his own. "I'm pretty sure we stood here in this exact position this morning. And last night. And yesterday morning. And-"

"Yes, yes," Merlin cut him off impatiently. "I'm just saying. I miss it. I miss your hair when it's not in my face and tickling my nose. I miss your shoulder blades when they're not digging into my chest and making it hard to breathe. I miss your arse when it's not pressed snuggly against my cock, trapping it... and teasing it."

Arthur gulped as Merlin's teeth grazed his earlobe. "You have a strange addiction," he managed, relieved that his voice wasn't as shaky as he felt.

"I do," Merlin agreed before flicking his tongue briefly into Arthur's ear.

Arthur let out a huff as his knees buckled and he slumped down into Merlin's strong embrace. Merlin chuckled and held Arthur up as he bit into Arthur's neck.

They hadn't even kissed properly yet, but desperate, needy heat was spreading out from Arthur's neck and coursing through his limp body. Merlin liked to tease, but they both knew that Arthur was really the one with an addiction. He craved Merlin's presence every second of every day. Most times, he didn't want anything other than Merlin's body heat mixing with his own, or a friendly hand to hold. But other times, he felt like he could literally crawl out of his skin with desire for his manservant.

"I miss your cock when it's not in my hand," Merlin continued in a low voice, sliding his hands out from under Arthur's grip and pushing Arthur's trousers down to the floor in one swift motion. "Heavy and throbbing between my fingers. Leaking all over my palm. And you - a complete puddle in my arms. Twitching and moaning. Begging and pleading. Clawing-"

"I have never clawed," Arthur said with a gasp as Merlin's long fingers curled around his already stiff cock.

"I could make you claw," Merlin said gruffly. Arthur bit his lip down as he exhaled roughly, trying his best not to make to much noise.

There was very little he liked more than Merlin's warm, thin hand on his cock. Of course, he loved the feeling of Merlin's hot, filthy mouth on his cock and of Merlin's impossibly tight arse clenching maddeningly around his cock, but Merlin's fingers had always been his favorite. They teased him constantly, clearly visible as they always were. Merlin's arse stayed clothed in public, and even though Arthur caught himself staring at it more than strictly necessary, he could keep himself from getting too distracted. And Merlin's mouth was always there, hovering around and saying lovely, supportive things. But sometimes it said truly stupid things and then Arthur wanted nothing more than to punch Merlin's face, especially his insolent mouth.

But Merlin's fingers were a perpetual tease. They were always there - always. At breakfast, wrapped around the handle of his water jug, or at lunch, curled around the edges of his plate, or at dinner, ever ready with another round of wine. They were there at council meetings, clasped professionally over Merlin's front. They were there on hunting trips, raking over Arthur's tools and weapons. They were there in the morning and in the evening, trailing over Arthur's clothes and making sure everything looked presentable. They were there when Merlin and Arthur were entwined in Arthur's bed, threading through Arthur's hair or tracing Arthur's lips or brushing idly over Arthur's chest. They were there when Arthur was at his most wrecked, pulling on his cock and rolling his balls in the most mind-numblingly perfect ways.

"You should really work on memorizing that speech," Merlin said vaguely as he switched hands on Arthur's cock. Arthur squirmed slightly at the new grip. "It's very important. It's for a holiday. A very important holiday."

"Yes," Arthur choked out, thrusting his hips into Merlin's hand.

"The court will be most displeased if you don't get through all the important pieces. You have to mention the winter traditions. All of them. In detail."

"Yes," Arthur said again, trying to anchor himself in reality with the word. He wasn't listening to what Merlin was saying, but Merlin's breath was all over over his neck and ears and hair, and the heat of it was making it almost impossible for Arthur to think.

"And the people will want to hear you mention the importance of loved ones."


"And, personally, I think it would be a nice touch if you mentioned me."

"Yes," Arthur agreed mindlessly, tossing his head back on Merlin's shoulder. Merlin switched back to his dominant hand and resumed stroking Arthur's cock with a tighter, surer grip. He twisted his long, bony fingers over the head of Arthur's cock and Arthur moaned with each thrill of pleasure.

"It's a very important speech, Arthur. One that deserves your undivided attention."

"Yes, yes, Merlin - Merlin!" Arthur arched his back off Merlin's chest as his release started inching up from his toes, blinding him with the sharp pain of anticipation. Merlin grabbed onto one of Arthur's earlobes with his teeth and Arthur reached hopelessly for Merlin's thighs. He clenched the loose fabric of Merlin's trousers as his orgasm overwhelmed him and he cried out with each pulse of his cock in Merlin's ready hand.

"Merlin, Merlin, Merlin," Arthur muttered as his orgasm subsided and he was left breathless and spent. He stumbled forward out of Merlin's arms and leaned against the windowsill, panting loudly.

Before he had time to catch his breath, Merlin was wrapped around him again, this time with tightly comforting arms across his middle and preciously gentle kisses to his neck.

"We should probably move away from the window," Arthur whispered, staring down into the empty courtyard. There was no one there at the moment, but he knew it was likely that some of the knights would wander through on their way back from a watch or the tavern.

"Let them see," Merlin said, his tone possessive.

Arthur shivered and turned around to plant a long, wet kiss on Merlin's smiling lips.

"Do you really want me to mention you in my speech?" he asked, reaching around to grip Merlin's arse.

"No." Merlin licked his lips. "The mention of loved ones will be enough."

Arthur watched Merlin's face for a few seconds, trying to read the crease between his bright blue eyes.

"I do, you know," Arthur said quietly, dropping his gaze to Merlin's glistening lips.

"I know," Merlin answered just as quietly, his lips curving in a small smile. "Me, too."

Arthur kissed Merlin briefly, chastely, before stepping away from the windowsill and tugging Merlin with him. "Let's move this to the bed. Much warmer."

Merlin smiled widely and followed Arthur toward the bed, already removing his clothes