Summary: The Ealdor Holiday Stroll becomes something more for Leon when he meets the newest constable.
Warnings: Excessive fluff ahead.
Word Count: 3157
Author's Notes: I hope you like your gift. I had fun writing it and making Leon and Percy as fluffy as possible. Thanks to the mods for organizing this.
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 had a deep, abiding loyalty to, and love for his friends. Truly, he did. However, sometimes they made him question his life choices. Take now, for instance. He sat in the middle seat of a snug, wondering if he could just crawl under the table and escape Gwaine’s plans for Christmas. It probably wouldn’t do him much good if he tried, though. The man could too easily track him down where he lived, especially since he was one of the two others in the village that had a key to his front door.
The others were sitting back as Gwaine rhapsodized over the Ealdor Holiday Stroll and its potential for being turned into a pub crawl. Merlin had a grin on his face while he leaned into Arthur. Arthur just looked bored. He’d heard this kind of talk before. The only other person on Leon’s wavelength seemed to be Lance. He had a look of sheer horror on his face as he sat listening to Gwaine.
“Gwaine, there are only three pubs in Ealdor. Besides, the Holiday Stroll is basically a Holiday market. Weren’t you here for last year’s?”
“Yeah, but there was at least one stall that sold mulled wine. We could hit all of the stalls that sell cider and such and the pubs and really have fun.”
Lance shook his head. “I really don’t want to have to arrest you. Please don’t make me.” The constable had learned years ago that if he asked nicely with Merlin, sometimes it worked and Merlin didn’t do The Thing. He was still trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to train that into Gwaine. “I was hoping to have a quiet Holiday Stroll that I could just enjoy patrolling and maybe pick up a trinket or two for Gwen. I don’t want arresting my friend at the Stroll to be the way I introduce you to the newest constable.”
Gwaine pouted for a moment before he perked up. “Newest constable?” One of the other constables had retired a few months before and the constabulary had been dragging its heels assigning another person.
“Yeah, Uncle Gaius says he came from Mercia.” Merlin chirped up, still happy that he wasn’t the one on the receiving end of one of Lance’s disappointed looks for once.
“His name’s Percival, goes by Percy. He did come from Mercia, but he’s not officially here yet, still moving some of his stuff to the house he rented from Mercia.” Lance took a sip of his beer, feeling better now that the signs pointed away from Gwaine turning the Holiday Stroll into the Holiday Crawl. “I met him last year when Albion and Mercia did those joint training exercises. He’s a good man.”
“Does he need help moving his furniture or anything?” Leon asked Lance with a smile. “I’m sure we could find the time.”
Lance grinned. “Are you kidding? He could probably lift his entire house by himself. But I can ask him. He’d probably appreciate the help.”
The Holiday Stroll was one of the things Leon had come to appreciate in the few years he’d been living in Ealdor. It was a laid-back community gathering. Leon greeted some of his neighbors and clients as he walked to the town square, where he was supposed to meet his friends. Camelot had a holiday market, and it was lovely, but it was also anonymous. He’d never have been able to greet the vendors or other shoppers by name.
When Arthur had first suggested he move here, Leon had been maybe a few years away from making partner in the law firm he’d worked at since graduating university. Arthur moved here to open a bank branch and fell in love, settling down. He’d then made it his mission to bring all of his friends to Ealdor, too. So far, he was succeeding. The only one left in Camelot of their little found family was Arthur’s sister, Morgana.
Leon reached the square in time to hear Merlin teasing Arthur about the little snowman he was building in front of the gazebo.
“Merlin, you’re not funny.”
“Maybe we could name him Olaf?”
Arthur grabbed a handful of snow and tossed it in his husband’s face before he patted the little snowman on the head and stood up, wiping his snow-covered gloves on his jeans. “Merlin, you’re a cabbagehead. Leon, please rescue me from his so-called sense of humor.”
“I don’t even know what you two are bickering about this time.” Leon reached up to pluck a leaf off the branch it had somehow managed to cling to this far into winter. He smiled, sticking its stem in the back of the little snowman’s head, making it look as if it wore a hat.
“I think we should name Arthur’s little snowman. Arthur is being no fun at all about it.”
“What is it with you two and snowmen? You were never a huge fan of them as we grew up, Arthur, but now you’re entire house is decorated with them, all year long.” Leon rolled his eyes as the two men grinned at each other, hearts practically floating in their eyes. “Never mind. I don’t want to know.”
He rubbed his hands together and blew on them to warm them up a bit. “Who are we waiting for?”
“Gwen. The others are going to meet us in a bit at the Rising Sun. Gwaine’s idea, of course.” Arthur shrugged.
Merlin threaded his arm through Arthur’s and curled into his side. “He’s up to something. I don’t know what, but he’s up to something.”
“Oh, great. Lance is going to end up arresting us after he practically begged us to behave.” Leon frowned at the thought. “You know what, if he does get his arse arrested, let’s just leave him there for a day.”
“Please don’t. I’d have to listen to him moan and groan.” Lance’s voice drifted from behind him. “The man rarely shuts up as it is.”
“Well, I get a kick out of him.” Gwen leaned in to give Leon a kiss on the cheek and hug when he turned. “Leon, so good to see you.”
“Gwen, my love, when are you going to run away with me?”
She grinned at Lance’s amused snort. “Well, you do cook a heck of a lot better than my current husband, so maybe when you turn straight?”
Leon kept his arm over her shoulder and tugged her closer. “For you, I might even work on that.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Take care of my wife tonight, Leon. I’m trusting you, unlike these two clowns.” Lance gave Gwen a kiss. “I’ll see you later, love.” He glanced down at the snowman by Arthur and Merlin’s feet and narrowed his eyes at the smiling duo before he walked away.
“Shall we go meet the others, then? Mithian said something about the Rising Sun when I texted her.”
Merlin nodded. “Gwaine was talking about mulled cider earlier today. I think Mary is making it for him special.”
“How does he manage to con her into doing things like that?” Arthur shook his head as the four departed the square. “He’s always so good at getting people to do weird things.”
Leon chuckled. “Remember when he convinced Cenred to ask your cousin on a date?”
“Oh, god. Morgause shredded him. It was both thrilling and painful to watch.”
“Or when he managed to get Ebor to give up the fact that he was cheating in classes? I don’t think I’d ever seen a person so angry with him and we grew up with the man and his pranks.”
Leon and Arthur reminisced about some of the mostly harmless trouble Gwaine had gotten them into over the years on their walk to the Rising Sun, passing by the stalls that had been erected on the high street. Leon had to pull Gwen along when she would have paused at a stall with finely woven and embroidered shawls and scarves.
“But they’re pretty!”
“Of course they’re pretty, Gwen. That’s the point of a good display. You can look after we meet the others.”
“Just a minute or two.”
Leon shook his head as he dragged her down the street. “No. A minute or two will end up being a very cold half an hour and I want some of that mulled cider. You and Mithy can swoon to your heart’s content after I’ve gotten it.”
“Oh, Mithy would like them, wouldn’t she? Maybe even Elena.” Gwen stopped looking back at the stall and wrapped her arm around Leon’s as if she had never even wanted to stop. “The cider does sound good. Merlin, I will do something rash if you don’t stop laughing.”
An hour later the expanded group of friends finally stepped out of the Rising Sun, cups of warm cider in hand, to enjoy the shopping and entertainment. They had mapped out a battle plan, which Leon knew would be scrapped the minute they ended up at the first stall, but that was all part of the fun.
It was somewhere about half an hour into the stroll that Leon’s world tilted on its axis. While he was suffering through the primary school children butchering Good King Wenceslas he heard a booming laugh he never had before accompanied by Lance’s familiar one. Gwen turned at the same time he did upon hearing her husband and he vaguely heard her saying, “Oh, good, he’s brought Percy with him.”
Her comment seemed to come from a distance because he was in the middle of a religious experience. Standing next to Lance was the most perfect piece of male perfection he’d ever laid his eyes on. He couldn’t see the man-mountain’s eyes from his distance, but he was sure they’d hold the mischievous twinkle he absolutely adored in a man. The constable’s bulky coat was definitely not supposed to be sexy, but all Leon could think of doing was unwrapping him and making sure he was warm all over.
“Leon, do you want to meet him?”
“Guh,” was all he managed to respond at first, turning towards Gwen with a hint of desperation in his eyes. “I don’t think I can.”
She grinned at him and started tugging him in the direction of Lance and Ealdor’s newest constable. “Let’s go. Pick your tongue up off the ground before you get there, you smooth-talker, you.”
Leon quietly had a nervous breakdown as he let her pull him over to the edge of the bandstand. She abandoned him briefly to give her husband a kiss, leaving Leon and Percy to awkwardly wait for introductions to be made. Leon’s mind raced as he tried to think of something (anything!) to say that wouldn’t make him sound like a blithering idiot. Nothing rose above the static, so he waited until Lance smiled and made the introductions.
“Percy, this is Leon. He’s one of our dearest friends.”
Leon flushed. He had only been in Ealdor for a few years, after all. It surprised him how good it felt to hear himself referred to that way. He smiled back at Lance and Gwen. “And you have become two of mine. Welcome to Ealdor, Percy. I hope you’ll feel…” Leon trailed off as his hand met Percy’s. It was so warm he swore he could feel the heat through the gloves they both wore.
In the light cast by the lamp they were standing under he saw a flush work its way up Percy’s cheeks. Both of their breaths hitched a bit. Percy’s eyes were light and wide open, the smile on his face frozen as he seemed to be as shocked by the heat as Leon. Close up, Leon could see that they were about the same height, with Percy topping his by a few centimeters at most, but it was his broad shoulders that really made all the difference.
“Yeah, maybe we should just leave the two of you here to get acquainted.” Leon shook himself back at the smug words from Lance. He could see Percy doing the same before his smile turned a bit shy.
“Nice to meet you, Leon. Maybe we could go for a cup of coffee or something tomorrow?” The shy smile turned into a grin as Leon smiled back.
“I think I could make time for that.”
~~One year later~~
“Percy, come on. We’re going to be late.” Leon stood by the door with his coat and gloves already on while he read the text messages from the group. “Gwaine’s already at the Rising Sun.”
“Of course he is. He owns and runs the damn thing.” Percy appeared at the door with two knit caps in his hands. “You’re wearing this. You’re just getting over that flu, and I don’t feel like having you get sick again.”
“Aw, you care. That’s so sw-”
Percy interrupted his fiance, “You were leaving tissues everywhere. It was completely unsanitary. I don’t feel like kissing you and tasting snot.” He tugged the cap over Leon’s head and leaned in to kiss him on the nose.
“You’re such a romantic, Percy. I see just why I love you.” Leon and Percy grinned at each other as Percy put his own cap on. They held hands on the walk to the Rising Sun. Leon remembered making this walk the previous year all by himself, with his hands tucked in his pockets to keep them warm. This was a definite improvement.
The snug the group usually claimed had a family in it, so they had to make do with one of the tables near the fireplace. Leon couldn’t complain too much. His chair had been pushed up close to Percy to make room for everyone and he relaxed a bit into his shoulder, the warm fire and the alcohol making him a bit sleepy already.
Percy pressed a light kiss into his hair and whispered, “You sure you’re up to this? We could go home and you could rest.”
Leon looked up, “Wouldn’t miss it. It’s our first Holiday Stroll together.”
Percy smiled and settled his head against Leon’s, relaxing as they listened to their friends laughing. Leon twined his fingers through Percy’s where their hands rested on Leon’s thigh and gently rubbed the ring he’d given Percy a month ago. He had planned on waiting until Christmas, but the big lug found the ring hidden and was too shocked to not ask about it.
“Hey, lovebirds, you sure you don’t want a room?”
Neither of them moved a muscle at Gwaine’s gentle mocking. “We’re good. Just waiting for someone to figure out our route this year.”
“I think we should visit the wood carver first. I saw some amazing pieces as we were walking in, right, Gwaine?” Elena looked at Gwaine with her guileless smile.
“Yeah, sweetheart. You saw something you liked.” Gwaine had finally managed to convince her to give him a chance in the summer and they had made a go of it since, even with Gwaine taking on the ownership and management of the pub when Mary decided to sell and retire to warmer climes. “Don’t know what it was because I wasn’t paying any attention,” Gwaine shrugged at his candor, “but you squealed about something, anyway.”
“It was something I liked for you, you numpty.”
“Oh, well, in that case, we should definitely go there first.” Gwaine grinned and squeezed his girlfriend, who just batted at him, shaking her head.
“Well, I want to go by Alice’s booth. She and Uncle Gaius have been making some herbal teas that they’ve let me sample, but not actually have. They’re really good. Leon, one of them is that tonic I gave you when your flu hit.”
Leon perked up a bit. The tonic had done more for his flu than any of the over-the-counter medicine Percy had picked up for him the few days he could barely get out of bed. “I’ll definitely have to buy some of that. It helped a lot.”
“Two votes for Alice’s booth. One and a half for the wood carver. I have no preference this year as long as we make it to the bandstand by eight when Lance has his break.” Gwen sat next to Mithian since Lance had patrol the first night of the stroll this year. Percy was working it with their chief tomorrow, and both of them were on the last night together. Leon would be out again tomorrow night with the group and they’d have to find a little time together on Percy’s break like Gwen tonight.
Percy spoke up, “I think those booths are in the same direction, so let’s just head out that way and see what happens.”
“Sounds good to me. Let me just tell Will that I’m going so he knows. He’s coming along, but he still gets nervous.” Gwaine left them to get their coats on and met them at the door, clapping patrons on the shoulder as he passed them.
The group left the pub and headed out. Leon held Percy’s hand as they walked down the street. He was still not completely over his bout with the flu, but even with the cold he was feeling this time with his friends was priceless. He just listened to the others talking as they visited the different stalls. Neither he nor Percy said much, just enjoying the company.
When they got to the bandstand, the group sat down at one of the small firepits the town had set up. There were a few other people already enjoying warm drinks on the benches. “Arthur, Gwaine, come with me to get some hot cocoa for the group?” Percy asked the two other men. “I think the three of us should be able to handle it for the rest.”
Leon missed the warmth when his personal oven got up, but the fire was crackling and the company was good, so he was content to wait until Percy got back, especially since he always remembered that Leon loved extra whipped cream on his cocoa as well as marshmallows.
“Here you go, your diabetic coma in a cup.”
“Mmmm. Thanks, love.” Percy shook his head at the smug look on Leon’s face when he raised the cup to his mouth.
They settled together on the bench, Percy draping his arm around Leon’s waist. Leon leaned in, happy that his human radiator was at his side again. He was listening to Merlin and Arthur bicker about something like the old married couple they had become when he heard the childrens’ choir singing Good King Wenceslas.
He settled his head on Percy’s shoulder and listened to the children massacring the song about as badly as they had last year when he heard Percy laugh and his world had changed.
“Leon, you good?”
He looked up and pressed a light kiss on Percy’s lips. “I’m good. This is just my favorite Christmas song.”