Summary: Merlin decides that what Gwen and Arthur need for Christmas is a bit of mistletoe.
Word Count: 2485
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.
“Merlin, I may not have magic, but I know all your secrets. Get rid of it now, or else.” Gwen glared at her friend as he grinned mischievously.
“Can’t. It’s part of the spell. It’ll stay there until the berries are gone.”
“Damn it, Merlin.” Gwen spun around and stalked toward the kitchen, getting away from the magical pain in her ass that decided she needed a sprig of enchanted mistletoe hovering over her head during the Christmas/Yule party he and Morgana threw every year, brushing past Gwaine as he talked to Leon.
“Hey, Gwen, did you know-”
“Gwaine, if you value your life, you will not finish that sentence.”
Gwaine smirked as she went past, well used to the trouble Merlin got people into by now, especially since he was usually in the thick of it.
The thing about being friends with Merlin and Morgana was that they had a way of charming everyone they met, even when they were being the most annoying people in the world. Usually their pain-in-the-ass level had much to do with how much they thought they were helping a person. Gwen, of course, had years of experience deflecting Merlin’s good intentions. It all started when they were kids in primary school and her family moved to the little town in Wales that Merlin’s family had lived in for generations.
Imagine it, generations of Drayces, all coming from a line of magical dragonspeakers, trying their best to both help people and keep their magic under the radar. When Gwen had shown up there were only a few other children her age. Merlin was unquestionably their leader. He had taken one look at shy Gwen and decided that they were going to be the best of friends. Gwen and her older brother, Elyan, found themselves smack dab in the middle of the wildest group of kids in Ealdor. It was the most amazing time in her life.
When Merlin and a few of the others went off to university, they tried to attend schools that were close to each other. Merlin and Gwen both ended up in the same school, while Freya and Will studied a few hours away from them. It was at school that Merlin really started trying to “help” Gwen out. There had been a dearth of eligible boys for Gwen to date in Ealdor. Really, the only one she might have dated was Merlin, since Will and Freya had been in love from the cradle, but she and Merlin were friends. Period. Full stop. They were wonderful friends and loved each other dearly, but the idea of them dating sent them both into full-on belly laughs.
Merlin was determined to change the fact that Gwen had been on precisely one date in her life, and a disastrous one, at that. He set her up with everyone he met. She’d put up with it for a few months before she sat him down and told him to stop. Of course, that precipitated the evil puppy-dog look he’d mastered at the advanced age of one day old, so she’d caved and put up with it for a few more months before she managed to stick to her guns and really tell him off. He’d pouted for all of three days straight, before Gwen got her revenge and introduced him to her study buddy from History class.
Morgana and Merlin were together from then on. When Morgana accidentally revealed that she had magic herself, it seemed as if Fate had put her on the path to Gwen. That led to them meeting the people in Morgana’s orbit. She actually liked most of them, too. Slowly but surely, Merlin’s friends and Morgana’s friends all found themselves bound into one group, until there was just one big found family.
Gwen ignored the others in the kitchen and reached into the refrigerator for a cold beer. This was going to be a night for getting drunk if she’d ever known one, especially if she was going to end up having to kiss everyone just to get rid of the damned mistletoe before the night was over. It would serve Merlin right if she just avoided kisses and he had to explain how she magically had mistletoe dangling above her head to people who didn’t know about magic.
Gwen dropped the bottle from her lips after taking a long drink of the beer. “Yes, Freya?”
“You have- Oh, you know already.” Freya’s expression was a strange cross between a grimace and a smile, one Gwen was all too familiar with from growing up in Ealdor. Hell, she was used to wearing it herself, thanks to Will and Merlin’s shenanigans. “Merlin?”
“Yep.” Gwen took another sip. “Think Hunith will mind if I murder him?”
Freya snorted. “Maybe a little. Morgana maybe more.” She gestured toward the mistletoe. “What’s the deal?”
“Apparently, it’ll go away when the berries are all gone. Until then-” Gwen batted at the mistletoe. It shifted to avoid the strike, then returned right to where it was by the time her hand fell back to her side.
Freya’s hand rose to cover her smile. “Sorry, Gwen.” Her eyes crinkled at the corners, giving away her mirth. Gwen just sighed and took another sip. Freya moved closer and pressed a kiss on Gwen’s cheek. One of the berries dropped onto the floor and rolled a foot or so before it just disappeared. “There. One gone.”
Gwen smiled and hugged one of her oldest friends. “Thanks, Freya. You’re the best.
It proved to be a long night. Turns out the spell was a little more complicated than Gwen thought. She got sweet kisses on the cheek from everyone at the party, except for Gwaine, of course. He insisted on making the kiss an overly dramatic, full-on snog in which he draped her over his arm and bent her backward as if they were on the cover of a bodice-ripper. There was a good reason he was attending a Drama school. She found out, through trial and error that only one kiss went toward getting rid of any berries. Percival’s second thoroughly chaste buss on her cheek didn’t drop any berries. Merlin just shrugged and grinned, not giving away any information.
The party had been in full swing for over almost two hours when the door opened and Arthur walked in with Mordred. They were the farthest from the others thanks to school, but close enough to each other that Arthur was always Mordred’s ride when the fam got together. “Sorry, all. We got a flat on the road. Took some time to change it.”
Morgana took their coats and asked, “Why didn’t Mordred use his magic?”
Arthur cocked his eyebrow at her. “Do you honestly think I’m going to allow him to use his magic on my car? My baby?”
Mordred grinned. “Come on, Arthur. I wouldn’t have scratched the paint that badly.”
“Hmm.” Arthur looked around the room and his eyes landed on Gwen. His smile dimmed a bit. For reasons Gwen could never quite put her finger on, Arthur didn’t seem to like her. After her first attempts to get to know him were rebuffed with awkward silences, she generally just stayed away from him. As she was thinking this his eyes narrowed on the mistletoe above her head. “What the hell?”
Morgana turned and saw where he was looking and chuckled. “Merlin did it. There are only two berries left, though, so you and Mordred get to kiss the last ones off.”
Arthur stiffened as Mordred laughed. “Oh, Gwen.” He walked forward and gave her a hug and kissed her lips quickly. The second to last berry fell and disappeared after it rolled away and Mordred went to greet the rest of the group.
Gwen turned to look at Arthur expectantly. “Um, yeah, right.” He looked around uncomfortably at the rest of the group. “I’m just going to get a drink first, alright? It was a long drive.” Arthur disappeared into the kitchen before anyone else could say a word.
Gwen looked at Morgana and frowned. “What the hell just happened? It’s not like I have cooties or something. I mean, I knew he didn’t like me, but this is ridiculous.”
“Doesn’t like you?” Morgana’s mouth dropped open a bit. “You know what, Gwen, just go into the kitchen and get that kiss so you can get rid of the mistletoe and really have fun. I’ll make sure everyone else stays out her for a bit. Maybe Arthur’s just being shy.” There was a strange look in her eye as she spoke to Gwen.
“Your brother is never shy, Morgana, but I am sick of this stupid plant hanging over my head.” Gwen said, deciding to ignore the funny feeling in her stomach, she pushed through the swinging door.
She would remember the sight before her for the rest of her life. Arthur stood with his back to the door, hands propped on the sink, taking in deep gulps of air. She reached out and touched his back, “Arthur? Are you alright?”
He swung around, eyes wide. “Gwen! I-”
“Arthur, it’s alright. Whatever happened, you’re safe now.” Her hand was still high, still in contact with him, but resting on his chest now. She realized just how strong he must be even as she felt his heart beating fast under her hand. Her eyes dropped to stare at the red shirt under her dark skin and Arthur’s pale skin exposed by the collar. She could reach it if she just slid her hand over a few inches. Suddenly, she wanted to know if his skin was a silky as it seemed.
Arthur’s hand moved up to grasp hers, probably to move it from his body, but they both froze at the heat. They stared at their hands, the contrast of their skin next to each other fascinating to both of them. Slowly, their gazes shifted, and their eyes met. His breathing had smoothed out but Gwen’s started to speed up a bit, hitching a little at the intensity of Arthur’s eyes.
His free hand raised slowly enough that she could move away from it cupping her chin if she’d wanted to. That was the last thing Gwen wanted. She let her face be lifted an inch and stayed right where she was when Arthur took one step forward, his body so close to touching hers that she could feel the heat emanating from him. His head lowered, agonizingly slowly, he brought his lips to hers, a mere press of skin. They held there for a long moment, not breathing.
Somewhere in the distance Gwen heard something small hit the floor, then something larger, but she wasn’t paying it any attention. They both released their breath in a gentle sigh, and leaned into each other, their clasped hands trapped between their bodies while their free hands shifted. Arthur’s hand slid into Gwen’s hair while hers raised and rested itself along his side, slipping around to bunch the fabric of his shirt in the back while the kiss deepened.
Gwen realized she hadn’t let herself think of this before. Arthur had always been the man that was too elusive for her to allow herself to be attracted to . He was always dating thin, blonde girls with the intellectual capacity of an amoeba. She hadn’t let herself imagine that he might hold her in his arms and kiss her.
Gwen wasn’t sure how long the kiss lasted. It could have been anywhere from a second to an eternity. The only thing she was sure of was that this would not be the last kiss she and Arthur would share. They pulled their lips away from each other, and Arthur rested his forehead against hers, his hand still holding hers tightly against his chest. She opened her eyes and smiled into his.
“You know they’re never going to let us live this down, right?”
Arthur snorted. “You kick Merlin in the ass, and I’ll hold my sister back.” He paused for a moment. “No, I’m afraid of Morgana. You hold her back while I kick Merlin.”
Gwen chuckled, happy to just stay right where she was, warm and cozy in Arthur’s arms.
The door behind her opened and the noise of the party came crashing in. “Whoa! You’re not trying to kill each other. In fact, it looks positively romantic in here.” Gwaine sounded absolutely delighted. “I can’t wait to tell Perce. He owes me fifty quid!”
Before Gwen could turn around, Gwaine had let the door close behind him. “Jackass.” Arthur groaned. “He’s going to tell everyone what he saw.”
“Is that a bad thing?” Gwen pulled back a bit. Was Arthur ashamed of being seen with her?
He scrambled to answer, “God, no. It’s just annoying.” Arthur’s hand slipped down and cupped Gwen’s cheek once more. “I think I’d like to take you out on a date and really get to know you, Gwen. You’re so beautiful, and talented, and you’re genuinely nice. I’ve wanted to for a while.”
“Then why didn’t you ask me before, Arthur? Why did you date others?”
Arthur shook his head. “The others were easy. Buy them dinner, some fancy gifts, and they’re happy. Having a relationship with someone like you means actual work.” He rubbed his thumb over her cheekbone.
Gwen bit her lip, trying to decide whether or not she should be offended. “I never thought you'd be afraid of a little hard work, Arthur.”
He smiled ruefully. “Normally, no, but I was too afraid I’d muck it up and hurt you.”
“Well, who says it would be you that mucks it up? You're talking as if I'm perfect. I'm not. I could be the one who ruins it.” Gwen chuckled. “I got used to mothering the boys and trying to keep us all out of too much trouble. I know that annoys some people and I can't seem to turn it off. When I get nervous I babble, like right now. Oh, and I'm stubborn. Just ask my brother.”
As she spoke, Arthur's smile turned sweet. “I order people around more than I probably should. I can be impetuous.” He changed his grasp on her hand, still held against his chest, and brought it up to his lips to press a kiss on her knuckles. “And I can be a bloody coward and just watch the woman I want to kiss in a kitchen from afar and never make a move.”
Gwen feel her heart leap. “Well, I did say I'm stubborn. So, if I have to be the one to make most of the moves for a while-” Gwen leaned forward again and smiled as she felt Arthur do the same, their lips meeting with smiles still stretching their mouths. It was joyous and a bit silly and absolutely wonderful.