Title: A Party of Their Own
Characters/pairings: Merlin, Hunith, Arthur
Summary: Merlin searches for the perfect birthday gift for Arthur, one that brings back bittersweet memories of a happy and simpler time.
Prompt 192: New Year’s Eve Party
A/N: Part 13 of my reincarnation series Merlin and Arthur Live Again.
Merlin wasn’t sure how many boxes he’d rifled through, but it was a fair few and he was beginning to think that what he was searching for had been thrown out long ago. He sighed.
“No luck?” his mother asked as she poked her head into the cupboard.
Merlin shook his head as he set down another box and picked up the last one. “They probably didn’t make the trip from Camelot,” he said dejectedly as he glanced up at his mother. “I shouldn’t have got my hopes up. I was just really hoping to find them, you know? I hadn’t thought of them in years until this morning when you said we should make a toast to my going off to uni.” He slowly began opening the box, almost afraid to find out that what he sought wasn’t inside.
“I’m sorry, love,” his mother said softly as she knelt in front of him and put a hand on his knee. “Maybe they’ll be in this box. Don’t give up until you have looked in it, okay?” Then she stood, leant over and kissed him on the forehead. “I can’t imagine that you would have allowed us to get rid of them; I know how much they meant to you and Arthur.” Then she left Merlin alone.
Merlin allowed a small grin, because his mother was right, of course. He wouldn’t have stood for anyone getting rid of them. They had to be in the box. They just had to be.
A few deep breaths later, he opened the box and began carefully withdrawing the items: An old apron, probably put in to protect the candlesticks beneath, some old books, a box of pictures that he would look through later, a tied bunch of letters, and a closed box.
Merlin’s breathing sped up. This had to be it. He closed his eyes. He was being silly. He should just open it and be done with it, but he had worked himself up so much that the disappointment if they weren’t in the box would be too much. “Mum?” he called out, hoping she would hear. When her head appeared in the doorway, Merlin lifted the box out of the bigger one and handed it to her. He didn’t have to say anything. He watched her open the box and his breath hitched as she lifted a small wine glass and set it on a shelf before retrieving the other and setting it beside its twin.
His mother then looked at him and smiled. “And there they are, Merlin. Just as they looked all those years ago.”
“Thanks, Mum,” he said as he watched her set the box down and leave.
Several minutes later, the boxes back where they’d come from, Merlin left the cupboard, the small box and glasses in hand, and closed the door.
Back in his room he set the glasses on his bedside table and fell onto the bed, a huge weight lifted from his mind. He’d been searching for the perfect birthday gift for Arthur for weeks and it wasn’t until his mother had mentioned the toast that morning that he’d known just the gift for the man he loved.
Rolling onto his back, Merlin closed his eyes and let his mind take him back ten years, to his parents’ New Year’s Eve party.
It had been one of the coldest Decembers in years and Merlin remembered a roaring fire in the grate. He could still hear the laughter as the adults talked and shared their hopes for the future. It had been one of those perfect moments in time and Merlin remembered begging his mother to allow him and Arthur to stay up until midnight. It hadn’t been easy to convince her, but, in the end she’d given in, telling them they could, but that they had to go to bed straight away afterwards because they had a busy day ahead.
Merlin couldn’t recall what they’d done the following day, but what he did remember was him and Arthur making big posters with “Happy New Year” scrawled in huge letters. They had also made party hats out of paper. Arthur’s mother had made one of her famous fruitcakes and Merlin’s mother had made them a yummy cream tea. He could still feel the warmth and smell the scones as his mother had set the tray on his play table.
They’d had everything they needed to have their own little party.
But Merlin, not quite satisfied, had told Arthur he would be back. He’d gone into the kitchen and climbed on the counter so he could look in the cabinets. It took him several minutes, but he’d found what he sought and soon rejoined Arthur.
When it was a few minutes before midnight he poured tea into each of the small glasses with stems and handed one to Arthur, who eyed him wearily.
“Erm, Merlin, won’t we get in trouble?”
“Mum’ll never know. And they’re not using them, so why shouldn’t we? Why can’t we bring in the New Year the same as them? With proper glasses?”
Then they’d joined in with the man on the telly when he’d counted down from ten. When they’d reached one, Merlin lifted his glass and watched as Arthur did the same. Then they’d clinked their glasses and said cheers to the New Year, just as they had watched their parents do each New Year.
“Happy New Year, Arthur,” Merlin had said, smiling as much as he could.
“It’s going to be the best year ever, Merlin,” Arthur had replied, his grin matching Merlin’s.
It was a great memory.
Merlin scrubbed his face with his shirtsleeves. It had been a great year for the two of them, even if he had been having his nightmares more and more, but it had been less than two years later that his world had been turned upside down and he’d had to leave Arthur.
But they were together now and Merlin knew that Arthur would love his gift.