Rating: I think it’s G…how did that happen?
Summary: Leon agreed to accompany Gwaine to this family thing and be his fiancé for the weekend. Will his heart survive?
Word Count: 4167
Author's Notes: Fox! I had so much fun with your prompts. I hope you like what I did with them. Have a wonderful Christmas!
Thank you, dear mods, for keeping up with us for yet another year and for organising the fic exchange.
Merry Christmas everyone!
As always, a huge thanks to my wonderful beta, issy!
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.
Leon took a deep breath. How on earth had he let Gwaine talk him into this? He still didn’t understand why Gwaine had to show up with a significant other for his mother’s…what was the relation again? Everyone called the old man ‘uncle’, but it wasn’t clear to Leon how they were related. Since Gwaine was a social butterfly and had more boyfriends in a month than Leon had in his whole life, he had asked him to come along and pretend to be his boyfriend.
At first, spending the holidays away from the city in a house on the countryside had sounded great, but it got more difficult by the minute to not tell Gwaine how he was feeling about him.
“Are you ready?”
For a moment, Leon closed his eyes. Gwaine looked so good in his new trousers and dress shoes. He would never understand how he managed to let a shirt look so sophisticated and yet casual at the same time. But that was Gwaine, who was able to blend in with the low-lives around the world and also mingle with aristocrats without sticking out like a sore thumb.
“I think so.” Leon nodded. If he were honest, he didn’t think so at all. This would be a disaster. They could consider themselves lucky that they hadn’t revealed the real nature of their relationship yet, but the damage to Leon’s heart already started to ache.
Gwaine took his hand, opened the door and they entered the huge sitting room where a Christmas tree of epic proportions had been set up. For a moment, Leon stopped to admire the tree, but was pulled along by Gwaine and it didn’t take long before he had a drink in his hand.
“So, Gwaine, would you care to introduce me to your…friend?” An elderly lady in a dress that was at least a size too small and a pearl necklace that seemed to choke her, approached them.
“Aunt Elizabeth!” Gwaine’s smile was as fake as hers. “Let me introduce you to the best thing that ever happened to me. This,” he turned towards Leon with a proud smile on his face, “is my fiancé Leon.”
“Leon.” The woman looked him up and down with a disapproving expression on her face. “It is so nice meeting you.”
“Likewise.” Leon smiled and nodded his head politely. It was very clear that this wasn’t the beginning of a wonderful friendship.
Since everything seemed to be said, Aunt Elizabeth ignored him and gave Gwaine some unwanted advice about his job, his hair and finally settling down.
When she finally turned her attention to someone else, Leon let his gaze wander across the room. He hadn’t been aware of the sheer size of Gwaine’s family. He had mentioned a sister once, but as he was on his own most of the time, Leon knew they couldn’t be too close. But what else did he know about Gwaine? Obviously not much. The ‘little house on the countryside’ was a mansion and it seemed as if this event was supposed to be a race for some inheritance or other, disguised as a Christmas get-together.
“Tell me, Leon,” a lady much older than Aunt Elizabeth addressed him after Gwaine had introduced him. “Where did you boys meet?”
“We play football on the same team, Madam.” At least that part was true. They had met more than two years ago when Gwaine had showed up with Arthur. It seemed that the answer didn’t please the lady.
“Are you still participating in this commoners’ game, Gwaine? You should pick up something more your class. How about some polo, dear? I will send you a nice pony.”
“Don’t, granny, I’m on the road so often, I wouldn’t know what to do with a pony.”
Class? Polo? A pony? Leon threw Gwaine a look. He left everyone with the impression that he was raised on the streets, but obviously there was something Gwaine was running from. These people here were wealthy and a bit snobbish and Gwaine did his best not to fit in.
“That’s another thing, my dear. It is most unfortunate that you think that photography of yours is a real profession. Come back and you can take over the estate and manage that.”
Gwaine looked sick at the lady’s – most likely his grandmother – suggestion. “Thanks, but photography is indeed a profession and I make good money. You know I like to travel.”
The evening dragged on and Leon felt like some kind of insect under the microscope as one family member after the other wanted to meet him. Gwaine threw him pained looks and more than once, Leon had to squeeze his hand or he would have screamed, Leon knew. The only way to make it through the evening, though, was alcohol.
Leon knew he couldn’t get too drunk or he would either reveal that they weren’t really a couple or finally tell Gwaine about his feelings for him. It wasn’t long after Gwaine had first shown up for footie that Leon noticed that his aggravation about the good-looking rouge never being on time and not taking anything seriously turned into something else. He, the stickler to rules, the person who was never late and always played by the book, had fallen for a bloke who was more like quicksilver, unpredictable in everything he said and did. Leon knew this wouldn’t end well. And the weekend here together wouldn’t help his feelings either. He would only fall even more for Gwaine and go back home with a broken heart.
He had agreed to this arrangement, though, and he would go through with it. So he smiled at everybody, held Gwaine’s hand when Gwaine reached for him and didn’t mind at all when Gwaine wrapped an arm around his waist.
“Let’s get out of here.” Gwaine whispered and set his glass down.
Leon followed, heaving a deep sigh when they finally made it back through the big doors.
“They can be quite the handful.” Gwaine threw him a wry smile. “So, what do you want to do now? Should we sneak out and go for a beer at the pub?”
“Are you kidding? We’ve been travelling all day to get here and that,” Leon gestured towards the door, “wasn’t really a piece of cake. We should go to the room and coordinate our answers. I’m sure that hasn’t been all of the interrogating that will happen for the weekend.”
Gwaine looked at him for a moment and then nodded.
Leon followed him through the corridors of the mansion – he would never have found their room again – and was happy when they closed the door when they were inside.
Immediately, Gwaine kicked his shoes off. “They are killing me. I think I’ll wear my boots tomorrow.”
In any other moment, Leon would have pointed out that it was probably not a good idea to wear the beaten boots that made Gwaine’s everyday footwear, but it slowly sank in that he would be in this room with Gwaine for the next couple of hours. And there was only one bed. Which was to be expected as everybody thought they were engaged, but still, Gwaine would be too close all night long.
Nodding, Leon sat down to take his own shoes off. “So, what else is in store this weekend? And…” He looked up. “Gwaine, who are all those people?”
Gwaine stopped in the middle of rolling up his sleeves and looked out the window. “I owe you an explanation, don’t I?”
“It would help.”
Sighing, Gwaine turned. “It’s basically my family, my clan, whatever you want to call them.”
“Yes. You know me as Gwaine Greene, right?”
Of course he did, that was the name on Gwaine’s driver’s license, he’d seen that before.
“There’s actually a lot more to the name. It’s a long and complicated title that I don’t care to think about.”
Leon blinked as that sunk in. “So you’re actually a prince or an earl or a duke or something?”
Gwaine shrugged. “Something, yes. I dropped the title when my dad passed away, though.”
“Why?” He didn’t understand. He knew that Gwaine had fought hard to make a living at several points in his life. Why hadn’t he just relied on his title and taken a job one of his relatives would provide for him? “Oh…I don’t mean to be nosy, it’s just a bit difficult to understand.”
Shaking his head, Gwaine started to pace. “You’re here, you’re doing this for me, you have a right to know.” He blew out a breath. “To make a long story short, they treated my mom like shit when dad died. She was just a commoner and he had the nerve to marry her anyway. After he was gone, they thought she had no right to stay.”
“Bullshit, I know.”
“They like you, though.”
“Because I’m at least a half-blood. With a bit of work, they might make a real aristocrat out of me, they think. I couldn’t care less.”
Leon looked at him for a moment. “Then…Gwaine, why are we here, then? I had the feeling this was about money and an inheritance or something. Again, none of my business, but if you care so little about all this…why are we here?”
A small grin showed on Gwaine’s face. “First of all, I knew it would give a few of my aunts a heart attack if I showed up with a man.”
Chuckling, Leon loosened his tie. That was the Gwaine he knew.
“And then…no, I don’t want the money, but I don’t want them to have it either. I at least have to take the chance to snatch it away from them.”
Now, Leon laughed. Yes, this was the Gwaine he knew. He had a peek at a life that Gwaine probably grew up in and saw why he wasn’t too keen on it, and to stick needles into their perfect bubble was something that was a lot of fun for Gwaine. And yet…”Gwaine…”
Gwaine was really close now. “I can’t even begin to thank you, Leon. I shouldn’t have dragged you into this.”
“You didn’t force me. The thought of a weekend away and good food for free was tempting enough…and the good company.”
Gwaine leaned down and put a kiss on his cheek. “Thanks.”
Leon was just about to bring the topic back to the details of their fake relationship, but now all coherent thought fled his mind. Gwaine had never done anything like that before. A slap on the arm at footie practice, a hand on the shoulder in the pub and the arm around his waist at the meeting downstairs, those were Gwaine’s touches. He never had kissed him, though. Not that this was really a kiss, it was just…what was it?
“Okay, so we’ve already established that we met at footie and your job is your job, we didn’t lie about that.”
Gwaine was already in full organising mode and that was fine by Leon. They needed to work out the details in case the relatives snuck up on them individually. They couldn’t give different answers as to where they had their first kiss and where they went on vacation. Just now and ‘oh, usually, we just go to the pub’ weren’t answers they could give.
“First kiss…first kiss…Where did I first kiss you?” Gwaine frowned. “How about…we were on a date and I walked you home?”
“You? Walked me home? You would rather pay for my taxi than do such a thing and everyone knows it.” Leon got up and started pacing just as Gwaine did.
“And who says you kissed me first?” Leon didn’t know where he took the courage from, but he stepped up to Gwaine, put a hand in his neck, pulled him close and pressed their lips together. It was meant more as a joke than anything else, so he was totally surprised when Gwaine melted against him and deepened the kiss.
When they pulled back a moment later, Leon just stared at Gwaine.
“I like the way you’re thinking, Knight.” Gwaine winked at him.
Was that a little fluster on his face? Had he managed to surprise Gwaine for once? “At least,” Leon cleared his throat, “at least we don’t have to lie now. We know what it feels like.”
“Not bad at all.” Gwaine grinned widely. “Alright…now on to the topic of vacations and how we spend our weekends.”
It had gotten late before they finally went to bed after a lengthy discussion if one of them should take the couch. That might have looked suspicious, though, and what harm could a night or two in the same bed do?
Leon lay awake for hours. Of course, the git next to him had no trouble falling asleep in no time. Listening to Gwaine’s even breathing, Leon stared into the dark. What a day! As if it hadn’t been hectic and exciting enough, at the end he had to go and kiss Gwaine, didn’t he? It had been a little selfish act under the pretence of coordinating their stories in case someone asked. But he had to do it, he couldn’t help himself. He knew that it wouldn’t help his crush on Gwaine one bit, but at least he could take home the memory of Gwaine’s lips on his and Gwaine’s tongue against his own.
They slept in, not late enough to miss breakfast and Gwaine had filled two plates at the buffet that was lined up against the wall of the huge dining room, while Leon made polite small-talk with yet another elderly lady.
“Here you go, love.” Gwaine set one plate down in front of Leon and then sat down next to him. “Oh, good morning, Aunt Mabel.”
Gwaine had gotten good at this. He called Leon pet names and endearments a lot more fluently than the day before, and yet Leon had to hold back his surprise each time.
After breakfast, Gwaine insisted they’d get out of the mansion. Had Leon thought they’d go for a walk, he had been wrong. Gwaine dragged him down to the frozen lake and presented him with a pair of skates. The ice was strong enough to carry them and after a few tentative steps – he had never skated on natural ice – he enjoyed the cold and the work-out. They laughed a lot and chased each other over the ice until it was time to go back and get dressed for the actual Christmas event.
For this, the uncle this whole thing was about, showed up. He was a very old man who was brought in in a wheelchair. Everybody tried to make nice with him, but Leon kept in the background. He had no reason to talk to the man at all. He was here as Gwaine’s plus one. As soon as the man addressed him, he would answer, but he wouldn’t go seeking contact.
It was over in two hours and Leon was happy that they could flee. Gwaine’s family made his skin crawl. They all seemed to put on a fake nice face only to stab each other in the back at any chance they got. More and more, Leon could understand why Gwaine didn’t want to have anything to do with them and why he was here to get the chance for them to not get what they wanted.
After a light dinner, they went to their room and Leon sat down on one of the delicate looking chairs. He couldn’t hold back a yawn.
He nodded. “I hardly slept last night and keeping your guard up all day is exhausting.”
“I know I snore. Sorry ‘bout that.” Gwaine kicked his shoes off unceremoniously. “Gosh, I’m going to burn these awful things after this weekend.”
Leon chuckled. He didn’t put it beyond Gwaine to really do just that. “It’s not the shoes’ fault.”
“But it’s their fault that they are hurting my feet!”
Gwaine was so fierce in his hatred for the shoes that Leon laughed. “Just one more day and you can go back to your boots and all will be right in the world again.”
Sitting down on the foot of the bed, Gwaine, who had also removed his bowtie and opened the buttons on the sleeves of his shirt, looked over. “I actually had a lot of fun today.”
“Me, too.” It was true. Going ice skating had been a nice escape from the little charade they were playing.
“I’ll be happier still when we can get out of here tomorrow.”
Leon just nodded. He was happy if they got out of the mansion and away from the overwhelming clan. Yet, he was reluctant to let the time with Gwaine end. He knew it was only make-believe, but he’d enjoyed it a lot more than he should have.
“I don’t know about you,” Gwaine got up and took his shirt off. “But I will get some sleep now.”
Nodding, Leon started his preparations, too. Tonight, he would just enjoy having Gwaine so close.
When he woke up in the middle of the night, Leon noticed that Gwaine had turned in his sleep and wrapped an arm around his middle. He couldn’t resist nuzzling into Gwaine’s hair for a moment before he stopped himself. This was too much. The act throughout the day he could handle, but this here? It was far too intimate and fuelled his desire to just kiss Gwaine silly and then take him any way he could have him.
Carefully, he disentangled himself and got out of bed. He put on a sweater and slipped into his comfortable shoes. He threw one look at Gwaine, who had grabbed Leon’s pillow and held on to that now, and left the room. He needed some time to distance himself from all this or else he’d never get over the heartbreak.
He found the big room with the Christmas tree. The fairy lights were still on and that was all the illumination Leon needed. He sat down in one of the old leather couches and stared at the tree. What had he gotten himself into? He was aware of the fact that Gwaine had just snuggled up to him because he had been asleep. It had just felt too good. Like something he didn’t want to miss for the rest of his life.
What was it with his infatuation with this man? They were so different, it could never work. When he said red, Gwaine said blue. When he wanted to spend a day at home, Gwaine had a thousand different plans to go places. He was mischievous and boisterous when Leon was just straight and gentle. There was still so much to love about Gwaine and none of it had to do with his great looks. Those were just an added bonus.
Leon startled, when he heard a sound and saw the man in the wheelchair coming in. He didn’t look half as frail as he had in the afternoon. Leon got up. “Sir…”
The man just waved and shook his head. “Stay seated. No need to jump up. Or…while you are already standing, you could pour us both a whiskey.”
Leon’s heart was beating. What was this about? He hadn’t meant to be in a part of the house he wasn’t supposed to be in. So he just walked to the sideboard and did as he was told. He came back, handed the man a glass.
“When you’re as old as I am, it doesn’t matter if die from what’s inside you or a glass of whiskey that you aren’t supposed to have.” The man, who seemed to have read Leon’s thoughts, winked and toasted him.
They sat in silence while sipping their drinks until Leon said, “You have a wonderful tree put up, Sir. It reminds me a lot of the trees we had when I was a child. Ours wasn’t as big, of course, but the ornaments are quite similar.” Although he was safe in betting the ones on this tree were a lot more pricy.
The old man smiled. “You know, young man, from all the compliments I’ve gotten over the weekend, yours is the only one I actually believe.”
Leon looked at him.
“Do you really think they all came to see their old uncle? Oh no, the vultures just closed in to see what they can inherit.”
“Oh, stop calling me that. I’m Alan and I believe your name is Leon?”
Leon smiled. “Yes, s…Alan. I’m Leon.”
“It’s nice meeting you.”
They sipped their drinks again.
Leon didn’t know what to say. The old man still had a sharp mind and he knew his family.
“And I keep a close eye on them. So…this little play you’re engaging in, what are you getting out of it?”
Nearly choking on his drink, Leon stared at the man.
“Oh, come on, I have eyes to see. Gwaine never showed any signs that he wants to settle down and now he shows up with a ‘fiancé’? Highly unlikely.”
Leon didn’t know what to say. Should he defend them and tell lies? It was like Alan had figured it out on his own. “I’m…”
To his surprise, Alan laughed. “I like the game, though. When I was young, I was a lot like Gwaine. The black sheep of the family, never doing what was expected of me. I like the boy. He is proud and can make it on his own. Not like the other leeches here, who’ve never worked a single day in their miserable snobbish lives. It was horrible how they treated his mother.”
“I’m sorry.” Leon whispered. It was easy to do what they were doing when you didn’t know the person you were trying to fool. Now, that he met Alan, he felt horrible.
“Don’t be. I’m sure Gwaine isn’t here for the money.”
Leon shook his head. What was the use of opposing?
Alan chuckled. “That’s my boy.” He looked at Leon. “You should tell him, though.”
“Oh, I will. If you want us to leave, we will do so immediately.”
“Not that. I’m sure Gwaine knows that I know. He just doesn’t know that you’re in love with him.”
“Don’t give me that look. I’ve been watching you. You follow his every move with your eyes, you have that sappy look on your face…you know, I can see the lake from my rooms. What I saw this afternoon was adorable. Haven’t seen young love like that in a long time.” Alan smiled.
“The afternoon was fun, but I don’t think that Gwaine…”
“I know what I saw.” Alan nodded, set his empty glass down and manoeuvred the wheelchair to the open door he came from. “It was good talking to you, Leon.” With that, he was gone.
Leon just sat there and didn’t know what to think. Did Alan really not mind that they had tried to take him on? He seemed to be highly amused by Gwaine’s move. And could it be true that Gwaine had feelings for him, too?
While the thoughts were whirling through his mind, Gwaine entered the room. He stood there in almost the same attire as Leon was wearing, sweatpants and a sweatshirt.
“Is he…Leon, is Uncle Alan right?”
Taking a deep breath, Leon nodded. What else was there to say? Gwaine obviously had been in the other room or standing in the doorway unnoticed and heard what had been said. “Yes, he is.”
“So…that was why you immediately said yes when I asked you to come here with me?”
“Kind of.” Leon felt bad. “Is it so wrong that I wanted to have a bit of time with you before you go on with your life?”
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“How could I? You don’t want me that way, so there’s no use of destroying the friendship we have.” Even though it could be in pieces at this point in time anyway.
Gwaine came closer. “Who says that?”
“Who says what?”
“That I don’t want you that way?”
Leon looked up. “You…you do?” This couldn’t be, he would wake up any moment from this weird and wonderful dream.
Gwaine nodded. “I know we’re different, but that’s so intriguing. You balance me, somehow. It’s like…each time my life seems to be running away with me, all it needs is a beer at the pub with you and I’m calm again.”
“You really think you could be with a boring architect who tries to be home in the evenings with a good book and a nice wine?”
“Do you really think you could be with…well,…me?”
They both chuckled and Gwaine climbed on the couch to straddle Leon. “I think we should start trying by repeating that toe-curling kiss.”
Leon grinned. “It was toe-curling?”
“Hell, yes!” Gwaine dove in and claimed his mouth.