Title: Homemade Christmas
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Hunith
Summary: Merlin invites Arthur to spend Christmas with him and his mum.
Word Count: 1177 (sorry!)
Prompt: #242, Responsible
Author's Notes: This is semi-autobiographical. :)
Six days before Christmas and Merlin was now fully prepared. He’d decorated the flat, done the baking, and his last present from Amazon had arrived today. It was now wrapped and under the tree with the rest of the ones he was giving. He’d also updated his Christmas card list and signed inside the cards. All he had to do was address them and write a short letter. Then he’d be good to go for Christmas! It was odd being the responsible one for once.
By contrast, his flatmate Arthur hadn’t done hardly anything. He’d willingly let Merlin do all the baking and decorating, occasionally giving input but not lifting a finger to help. He’d done a little online ordering, Merlin had noticed, and had gone to a Christmas market downtown that Merlin had dragged him to. Arthur didn’t have anywhere to go for the holiday, as his sister would be with her fiancé’s family and his father would be out of town on business. Merlin had invited him to come to his mother’s house with him, but Arthur hadn’t given him a firm answer yet.
So Merlin was naturally worried about Arthur. He just didn’t seem to be in the mood for Christmas. When Merlin asked him about that, he’d said his childhood Christmases had been nothing special. It had been just the three of them; present unwrapping didn’t take long. And their rich father always bought them what they’d asked for. They’d never gotten to decorate or bake—their servants had always taken care of those things.
Merlin thought that sounded woeful indeed, but he was determined to make a happier Christmas for Arthur this year. He pushed and pushed at Arthur until he said, yes, he’d go to Merlin’s mother’s house. Merlin smiled and gave him a hug, telling him he wouldn’t regret it. Two days before Christmas, he carefully packed his gifts into Arthur’s car, and they were off to Ealdor.
Merlin turned the radio onto a station that played Christmas music. Arthur gave him a look, but didn’t say anything. As they drove, Merlin told Arthur all about his little family’s traditions. “First we’ll decorate the tree; Mum’s told me she’s got a gorgeous one this year. Then we’ll decorate the sugar cookies and gingerbread men. We used to leave them out for Father Christmas, but now we just eat them with lots of hot cocoa.”
“That sounds . . . fun,” Arthur replied.
Merlin made a face. “Of course it is. Then in the morning we’ll open all our presents and eat a breakfast of waffles covered in strawberries and whipped cream. Oh, and sausages for protein. After we clear that up, it’s time to start on Christmas dinner.”
“I suppose you’ll have a turkey and the usual sides.”
“Why yes, we do. And you’ll get to help.”
Arthur eyes widened. “Merlin, you know how I am with cooking . . .”
“Yes, you’re the takeaway king, but don’t worry. Mum and I will be there to help you.”
Soon they arrived at Merlin’s mum’s house. Hunith threw her arms around Arthur in welcome and he gasped at her strength. But as she led them inside, he looked around in wonder. The place looked positively Christmas-y. It was cozy without being pretentious, sort of halfway between their flat and how his father’s house looked. He smiled and basked in the warmth, going where Hunith instructed him and putting down his things.
That first evening they sat around and talked about anything and everything while drinking mulled cider. Arthur learned more about Merlin from Hunith and was pleased to see him blush whenever she told a particularly embarrassing story. He hadn’t seen Merlin embarrassed before, though he did plenty of things that would have embarrassed Arthur.
The next morning they set to decorating the tree. Merlin dug out boxes of ornaments from the attic and brought them down. Arthur had as much fun hearing the stories behind some of the ornaments as he had from the previous night. Many of them had been made by Merlin in his primary school days. After everything was on the tree, Hunith invited Arthur to set the tree topper, which he did gladly. He’d never known decorating could be this much fun.
After Merlin had taken the boxes back to the attic, they trouped into the kitchen to start decorating the cookies. Hunith took several containers out of the freezer and laid them on the counter while Merlin pulled out the powdered sugar and decorating bags. Arthur watched as Merlin and Hunith mixed the icing and showed him how to use the bags. Soon Arthur was decorating fairly well and smiled at his and the others’ creations. It really was quite a fun activity.
Soon it was evening again, and once again they sat around the living room with mulled cider. This time Arthur told Merlin and Hunith stories from his childhood. He found himself opening up to these two more than he had to anyone else. Hunith and Merlin just made it easy somehow.
It seemed he’d just laid down to sleep when Merlin was shaking him awake. He led Arthur over to the tree where Hunith was waiting for them. They sat down and began dividing up the presents. Arthur was surprised to see ones from his sister and father there. Merlin must have been behind that.
They rotated opening presents. Merlin explained that this made the joy last longer. Arthur and Merlin both received scarves from Hunith, and Merlin had gotten Arthur a new sweater that matched his eyes. Arthur was immensely grateful to them both for thinking of him. It was somehow nice not to get exactly what he wanted.
Breakfast was quite enjoyable. He’d never had the combination of waffles, strawberries and whipped cream before, but it was delicious. He gladly helped clean up and ready the kitchen for making dinner.
Actual cooking was surprisingly fun. Merlin made it fun with his goofy jokes and clumsiness. But despite those, the man could cook. Arthur wondered how he’d never noticed before. He watched and assisted in awe as Hunith and Merlin created enough food to feed at least ten, let alone three.
Eating the dinner was even more enjoyable. He’d thought he’d known everything about Merlin and Hunith by now, but the stories kept coming. He found himself laughing quite a lot and marveling at how this tiny family made Christmas so much more enjoyable than his childhood experiences had been.
That night he went to bed, grateful his goofy flatmate had invited him to his family Christmas. It was wonderful to see what Christmas could be like with those who took the time and care into making it an enjoyable experience. Next year he’d help Merlin decorate and bake more, and even ask him to teach him how to cook.
Arthur missed the satisfied smiles Merlin and Hunith exchanged before they went to bed. It truly had turned out to be the kind of Christmas that Arthur needed and deserved.