Arthur walks down the corridor, reading over the speech he is trying to memorize for the Winter Solstice feast. It's been a very busy day and he knows he shouldn't be reading while he walks, but he has no time to spare. He glances up for just a second as he reaches a corner, but he is so focused on the words in front of him that he doesn't see Guinevere.
Or the mistletoe that someone has hung there.
"Oof!" she exclaims, nearly dropping the basket of herbs she is carrying. A few dried branches tumble out, but she maintains her grasp.
Arthur reaches out and lightly grasps her elbows, parchment tumbling to the floor. "Guinevere! I'm sorry, I wasn't looking where I was going," he apologizes, letting his hands linger since they are alone in the corridor.
"It's all right, Arthur, you didn't hurt me," she answers, a small, sweet smile crossing her face as she looks up at him, then down again.
"I was trying to learn my speech for tonight's feast," he explains, looking down at the fallen parchment. "It's… down there."
She looks down and, out of a habit ingrained in her due to working many years as a servant, automatically moves to pick it up.
Arthur stays her movement, holding her arms, his thumbs lightly rubbing.
"I will pick it up," he asserts. "In a minute."
Guinevere looks up at him, feeling the usual anxiety she feels whenever she is alone with him out in the open. She hasn't gotten to see him very much lately, what with Uther frequently sending him out to lead search parties to find Lady Morgana, so she treasures these moments. But even though she has stopped denying her feelings for him, there is the constant worry of discovery.
"Just one," she says, smiling to soften the blow. He returns her smile and caresses her cheek, and she knows he understands. Then her eyes flit slightly higher as something catches her eye overhead. Her breath catches in her throat.
Arthur follows her line of sight and sees it overhead: a bundle of mistletoe, tied with a red ribbon. "Mistletoe," he says in a low voice. "That's… that's a Druid tradition. How did it…?"
"I don't know," she replies. "There are still berries on it," she observes.
"So there are," he agrees, reaching up to pluck one. He flicks it back over his shoulder, then leans in.
"We can't," she whispers, eyes darting around, checking for other people.
"But I've already picked a berry," he replies, not moving away but not moving closer.
She bites her lower lip. "I mean we shouldn't," she clarifies. "It's not that I don't want to, it's just—"
His eyes light up at her admission. "We're simply upholding the tradition," he simply states. "I mean, if anyone were to happen upon us, we can easily point to the mistletoe someone has foolishly hung." He makes a mental note to have Merlin take it down before his father sees it.
Guinevere's shoulders relax and Arthur knows his logic has worked. He leans down the rest of the way and she lifts her chin to meet him in a kiss that is brief, but not too brief. To Guinevere, it feels like a promise, and she keeps her eyes closed for a moment afterwards, stealing the chance to savor it for a little longer.
The sound of approaching footsteps reminds them of where they are and they gently separate.
"I look forward to hearing your speech, my lord," she says, her voice soft.
"Arthur?" The approaching footsteps belonged to Sir Leon, and Arthur turns to meet him. The two men briefly converse, and when he turns back to retrieve his fallen parchment, Guinevere is nowhere to be seen. Arthur thoughtfully looks up at the mistletoe one more time, smiles, then continues on his way, no longer caring if he gets every word of his speech correct.