Summary: Christmas is Leon's favorite holiday. Gwaine makes it more special.
Warnings: Fluff to the max
Word Count: 1, 538
Author's Notes: Happy holidays, fractionallyfox! I hope this is something you can enjoy :)
Disclaimer:Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.
Ever since he was a little boy Leon loved Christmas. He has fond memories of his mother in the cramped kitchen of his childhood home. A freshly unfrozen turkey in front of her, carefully dabbing it with herbs. The smell of sage strong in their air. When he was four his view was obstructed by tall furniture as he spied her cooking, committing to memory the ingredients and steps she took preparing a recipe from the old notebook that once belonged to her grandmother. Her smile was permanent on her face whenever she cooked. And even though Christmas dinner took her the entire day she did it every year. His mother was truly happy in that tiny kitchen.
If his mother caught him looking she'd let him climb on a chair and let him add the salt and pepper to the turkey, and together they'd put it in the oven. One time she taught him to make roast potatoes, both of his small hands tipping the olive oil bottle to drizzle them. His fingers smelt of rosemary and thyme afterwards.
At the table with his family surrounding him taking scoops of potatoes and his father carving the turkey Leon would feel a rush of pride because everyone around him was enjoying the food, the company, the night. Because he had helped his mother. He could cook too.
Another thing he loved about the holidays were the decorations. The twinkling lights and wreaths. Reds and greens and golden all around. His father always insisted on getting the biggest tree, the top almost reaching the ceiling, barely leaving any room for a topper. Yet somehow he'd carry Leon on his shoulders and a big shiny star was placed right there crookedly. Its pointy sides scrapping the ceiling and sometimes Leon imagined the stars outside could also scrape the sky, carving a little place for themselves so they could light up the universe.
Leon learned to relate the smell of his mother's cooking and the brilliant decorations with the spirit of Christmas. It's what lead him here, to his own kitchen in his own restaurant--small as it might be-- years later using the same recipes his mother used to. He has every single one of them stored in his brain, the notebook safe in his house, by now it's almost falling to pieces, the pages yellowed by the course of time. Leon thinks of it as one of his biggest treasures. It makes him feel like she is right there with him, smiling at him, encouraging him. She was the reason he became a chef. His inspiration.
He likes to believe she'd be happy to see him now. He no longer has to use a chair or his father's arms to reach the top.
His flat smells of a combination of pine, apples and cinnamon. He's got strings of lights here and there, their tree the tallest they could find, his family's star right there on top where it belongs, shining incessantly. Gwaine had even brought a train that ran around the tree, it was both ridiculous and lovely.
Leon loved how Gwaine didn't question him or thought he was going overboard with the decorations and that they shared a moment putting up the tree. Gwaine singing Christmas carols off-key on purpose and then both getting sidetracked kissing and touching in the middle of the living room, decorations strewn around them. Only getting back to their task once Gwaine left his mark on Leon's skin. It usually takes them hours to put everything up, most of the time they are too tired to reach their bed by the end of the night and end up falling asleep snuggly fitted on the sofa, their arms around each other.
Arthur had laughed when he saw the place and joked that Christmas had exploded right there and all they needed was Santa's reindeer lounging around. Leon likes it. It's their home.
He goes straight to the kitchen to make himself a tea wanting to warm up, his nose frozen from the cold. He starts up his laptop he left on the counter that morning wanting to speak with Gwaine. He misses him a lot and he's only been gone for two days.
Without him the flat is way too empty.
"If Gwaine wouldn't object to it I would marry you in a heartbeat," Merlin says almost too seriously to be believed. He's been practically shoveling pie into his mouth like it's going to be the last meal he'll eat.
Leon watches him with amusement, laughing at his friend's enthusiastic way of eating. "And Arthur wouldn't? I'm sure he'd have a heart attack if you divorce him," he says.
"You're right, he's far too dramatic as it is. And to be honest, I wouldn't anyway. I mean I do love you but not like that. I got carried away. Your cooking keeps getting better and better, this chicken and mushroom pie is the best thing I've eaten all week. No, all month. Do you think I can take some home? I'm sure Arthur would love to get a taste," Merlin says practically batting his eyelashes.
Leon nods already knowing the pie is never going to make it to Arthur's hand. "Yes, of course. I'm not going to eat it all. Gwaine is the one who finishes the food around here."
Merlin nods knowingly. "He's lucky. Arthur is hopeless at cooking, he can barely make pasta without burning it and I'm not any better. Last time mum was here she the one who cooked for us the whole time."
"I'm amazed at how you survive," Leon tells him. "You're coming over on Christmas Eve, right?"
"Obviously." Merlin looks at him like Leon is crazy for even hinting otherwise. "Will Gwaine be back by then?"
"He better be."
For the last three years they have spent the holidays together and he doesn't plan on changing that. Having Gwaine with him during this season is just as important as the memory of his mother and the heritage she left him.
It's one in the morning, Leon is sitting on his bed laptop on top of his legs, Gwaine's tired albeit smiley face staring back at him, they've lost track of time talking about nothing and everything. He'd rather have him in bed next to him than seeing him through the screen, his warmth keeping him warm too. He can't be mad though, Gwaine is out on a business trip-- as he likes to call them -- miles away from him and they've promised to support each other on their respective endeavors.
"You're awfully quiet," Gwaine accuses.
Leon moves around fluffing a pillow to put it behind his back. "I'm always quiet. You speak enough for the both of us," Leon responds. His glasses sliding off his nose. He pushes them up without a second thought.
Gwaine makes a ridiculous kissy face at him causing him to laugh. "I know you are, love. But you talk to me. What's wrong?"
"Nothing...I miss you," Leon confesses feeling like a fool.
Gwaine's face softens in an instant. "I miss you too. I promise I'll be home for Christmas."
"I know you will. I-hate you're so far away."
"Well, that's what you get for shagging a rock star," Gwaine leers.
"You're barely a rock star. Just be home soon, okay?"
Gwaine says goodbye sending him lots of kisses and hugs, intent on keeping his promise.
This is straight out of a romantic comedy. Him standing in an airport waiting for Gwaine, all he's missing are flowers and a sign with silly and over the top declarations of love. He even feels awkward for thinking about it.
Seeing Gwaine coming out looking around for him, suitcases on the floor takes away any hesitation and he doesn't doubt in reaching for Gwaine and pull him into a hug.
Gwaine smells like home.
Waking up next to Gwaine on Christmas morning is the perfect way to start the day. Gwaine is usually a heavy sleeper so it takes Leon by surprise to see his eyes already open.
"Were you watching me sleep?"
"Guilty as charged." Gwaine shrugs. "I have something for you," he whispers reaching over to the bedside table taking a gift bag and handing it to him.
Leon takes it suspiciously confused as to what Gwaine could get him while on the road.
"I hope you like it," Gwaine says, confusing Leon even further when he notices a hint of nervousness in his tone.
Inside the bag there's a medium sized book, beautifully bound. "Turn it over," Gwaine instructs before he can say or ask anything.
The cover reads Food Glorious Food. Curious, Leon opens it, expecting anything but what's inside. He almost gasps when he sees the book contains his grandmother's recipes, including the additions his mother made. It's beautiful.
"There are some blank pages towards the end in case you want to add to it."
Leon is amazed. It's the most thoughtful and beautiful gift he's ever gotten and it means everything to him. "How? When...?"
"I had it made before I left. Merlin brought it over last night."
"Thank you. I don't even know what to say, just--thank you. You don't even know how happy you've made me."
"You can show me," Gwaine says pulling Leon towards him to kiss him until they both run out of air.