It's the first snowstorm of the year in the mountainous countryside, and all of their friends are pleasantly tipsy and huddling in the back of Gwen's house for the warmth of the roaring fireplace and more drinks.

"Your cat is bonkers," Morgana points out, standing with her in the front-room. Her voice slow and a pinch deeper, and it's giving the other woman more physical tingles than the surrounding area. "Look at her."

It's so frosty through the pane of glass that she can hardly peer through.

Gwen goes on the toes of her ballet-flats, craning her neck.

"She's not bonkers—she likes being outside is all," she replies, with that adorable frown of hers. The one Morgana keeps pointing out while they're lounging on the sofa and the telly's on and blaring. Gwen's teeth nibble slightly on the end of her thick braid, as she fingers it absently.

Her three-year-old cat sits on her hindquarters on the porch, marmalade face tilting skywards, powdery snowflakes landing on her.

"It's silly, Gwen—I can't imagine that's enjoyable."

It's a very silly image, true, and she would have a laugh, but something about Morgana pressing the matter just feels exasperating.

"What's not enjoyable?" Gwaine butts in, thrusting on his jacket. To his right, Merlin crouches down to strap on his boots, smiling at Gwen.

"Sharing the same air with you," Morgana says prettily, taking a sip from her fluted champagne glass as Gwaine's mouth terses for a moment.

"I was going to invite you ladies to the festivities, but to hell with it," he says, buttoning up and reaching between both women for the door, jerking it open with a grin. "Merlin and I will build our own snowman."

"Try not to make it obscene. There are children in this neighborhood."

Merlin adds jokingly, pushing a knitted beanie over his ears, "I'll supervise—ow!" He winces at Gwaine's hand swatting his arse.

The bitter-cold air howls into Gwen's face as her front door flies open, and before she knows it, both men vanish into her yard, snow crunching loudly under their feet. "Loons," Morgana comments idly, scooping up the now mildly damp cat into her arms as Gwen returns to her original place, shutting the door. "It's bloody freezing—what are they thinking?"

"It seems like Gwaine's enjoys himself out there."

Morgana tuts, stroking Freya's head as her housemate's cat nuzzles the shoulder of her cable-knit jumper. "Well, you know what Gwaine's like."

Gwen finally does laugh, briefly and genuinely, eyes crinkling. "Don't let Elena hear that," she warns, but humoured. "She loves him to death."

"Poor thing."

"What is it with you and Gwaine?"

"Poking a bit of fun; you know we've been insulting each other since primary," Morgana replies, no longer cradling Freya and squinting her eyes in disapproval as she brushes off the bits of fur one-handed, her fluted glass drained empty. "When am I ever serious?"

Gwen says nothing of Uther Pendragon, or the angry phone calls, or the week Morgana left and came back white-knuckling her luggage, blood-bruises healing on her hands as if she had been hitting something.

"I like winter," she announces, getting Morgana's attention. "It's quiet. It feels like the world has drifted off to sleep and everything's calm." Gwen juts out her chin proudly when green eyes narrow in semi-astonishment.

"Suppose that's one way to look at it…"

"However, winter just makes you cranky," Gwen teases, and is relieved to see Morgana's red, red lips upturn. "I hate to see you like this."

"It's nicer than being alone, I think," Morgana says, meeting their gazes and a nice, hot flush runs up over Gwen's chest and her neck. "Thank you, Gwen… I know it's not exactly easy living with someone like me."

The nightmares.

Ever since her sister's death, Morgana has been prescribed countless sleep-aids, but they weren't always enough. On occasion, Gwen needed to sleep in Morgana's bedroom, just to be there to wake her up.

"Never think you are a burden to me," she insists, taking Morgana's elbow and squeezing gently. "Not ever—do you understand?"

It breaks Gwen's heart to see those clear green eyes watering up. The hug is a bit rough and sudden, but Gwen clenches her arms and lets her best friend sink against her heavily. "I love you," she murmurs.

"I love you," Morgana whispers back, face pressing to Gwen's cheek.

"Do you want to go back to the party?"

"In a minute," comes out hoarse and muffled, and to be quite honest, Gwen is content right here. It's quiet, except for their breathing.



BBC Merlin isn't mine. Title from the holiday song. This was my first entry in the Merlin Xmas Fest on Tumblr, and I decided a nice wintery story suited it fine. I'll pretty much be only writing everything but actual xmas themed stories, aahhaa. Any comments/questions are deeply appreciated! Stay warm and healthy!