Secret Gift Giver

Written for the Arthur & Gwen Christmas Fest at m_in_wonderlandfor rainbow_connec's prompt: Secret Santa

This is slightly AU, but during medieval time. It's sort of a first meet story. Rating is kF. There are no spoilers. Hope you enjoy. This is the most precious holiday to me and so I loved writing this. Along with the fun prompt, my icon too by the super talented felix_aeternus inspired this. It's a one parter. I disclaim. Merlin and if they ever give us a Christmas ep, lol, belongs to Shine/BBC. But I own the red socks, hee.

Note:There are so many A/M holiday fics out there right now it seems. I have nothing against this. I respect all ships and actually love the A/M friendship (even have read a bit of well done A/M slash because of great storytelling primarily.) But to me A/G is perfect for Christmas romance, passion and fun. So here's my little part. Thank you to everyone who adds their own also. A/G fic writers must show their A/G Christmas / holiday love, right?

Dedicated here at FFNet for all you lovely people who have so kindly responded to my stories with comments, suggestions and just the kindest words. My tiny humble gift to you. One of you once requested that I do a drabble series which made me smile big. If I ever find the time and strong inspiration I would love to. For now I like writing these mini fics along with my longer ones.

TTT

It was snowing. That's what he would always remember. The little white crystals were hitting the ground and making him bitterly cold. Still he stood out there in his red Pendragon cloak, waiting for whatever princess was his secret gift giver.

If she was a princess. There was something a bit odd about the gifts he'd received now for a week. They weren't the usual decorative baubles.

Day 1: A box. He had plenty in his chambers, imported from here or there. But there was something about this one made of oak and birch if he was correct. It didn't glisten or have jeweled closure. It was plain if anything and the sides were a bit splintered. Received one in his finger to make the point. But for some reason he liked it very much, the earthly fragrance almost tantalizing, and so it was the first box ever he decided to use for his most precious memento. His mother's rings.

Day 2: Wrapped into a faded brown cloth some sweet bread. Only it was some of the most delicious bread he'd ever tasted. It crumbled with satisfaction into his mouth. And he liked to tear off the end pieces. He was a little sad when the last part was eaten. Missed its honey aroma.

Day 3: A cup of strongly hot, yet blessedly sweet cider. All day he'd trained with the knights and complained of feeling chilled to the bone as he swore it was the coldest day of the winter yet. He went back to his chambers and found it sitting there right on his desk, but when he asked his servant about it, he told him he hadn't yet had time to prepare anything. Oh, but how that cider warmed his bones that freezing night. It was like the grandest hug was mixed into it as silly as it sounded.

Day 4: It wouldn't be so much a gift if it hadn't meant all it did to him. When he was barely becoming of age he'd been given by the knight he had most looked up to, sadly now deceased, honorably killed in battle, a pair of dark brown leather skinned gloves. They were his favorites so much that he wore them every day, getting his father, the king, to tease that one day he would rip a hole into them. One day came just this week. And his father provided the replacement, not wanting his son to look like some peasant. So the prince wore his new gloves all day long and pretended that they were perfect when they were nothing of the kind. They itched his fingers and had none of the warmth of the old. Late that afternoon, he pretended it was sweat, not disgust, that made him thrust them off as he entered his chambers. As they flew down to the floor he noticed them, his old gloves, lain on his bed, perfectly mended. Oh how it made him smile as he caringly put them on his irritated hands, took away that bit of pout that had been there all day.

Day 5: It was the craziest thing. Any other time he might laugh at it, but for some reason this time of year made him sentimental, made him act a little boyish. And so as he looked out his window in the morning hour and saw that snow creature built within the deep white, he laughed with glee. It was holding a sword, silly little snow being. He ran all the way outside to stare at it, like a child. Like the boy he no longer had the luxury to pretend to be. But for that moment, he lay in the snow, looking up at it with the goofiest grin a prince could ever have.

Day 6: Red was his favorite color, Pendragon red. He had half a dozen tunics maybe of the color. But he had no socks of the bright glowing shade, until that morning. Oddest thing. Bright red socks, but he put them on under his boots, feeling their well made warmth, and knew he had more Pendragon red than any of his knights, than even his father, and always would, secretly. Red socks he would have laughed at if bought from market, but made by hand by his secret gift giver, and he loved them.

Day 7: A note, nothing more. Written on parchment with fine soft delicate strokes. "You have received all my gifts without complaint. Perhaps then you'd not mind meeting me. If so, fine prince, go to the wood on Christmas Eve, where the Sycamore lines the frozen pond. I will be there...waiting for you."

Now, wearing his red socks, his mended gloves, and holding the box, everything else only meant to be temporary, the prince walked within the trees to the pond and saw there a figure wrapped in red.

"Hello there." He called out, thinking it peculiar. He too had a cloak of red on.

The figure didn't move right away. The prince frowned until finally...

"You." He whispered with wonder.

She smiled, walking over to him with a touch of shyness. "Me."

She most definitely was no princess. For you see, she was a servant of the castle. "Guinevere." Arthur stated wonderingly.

She shook her head. "No. Gwen only."

"But your name is Guinevere."

"Yes." She shrugged. "But that name was given to me by my mother many years ago. I'm just Gwen."

He shook his head. He saw her every day. She routinely made the rounds of every room, bringing in food and drink, bringing in...

It dawned on him then. Every gift. Everything he hadn't wanted...but needed. Every gift ever so personal. Every gift...crafted with loving hands. "You fixed my gloves."

She smiled, feeling his hands close over hers. "You were so unhappy with the new ones. I could hear you in the hall. I wanted to give you the ones that you loved most."

"You knew, about Lord Steven."

"Of course I did. He was one of the finest knights Camelot ever had."

Arthur nodded, lowering his hands, bending a bit to show them. "And these socks. Red?"

She smiled playfully, forgetting to be shy. "You adore the color so much. I thought your feet should feel its radiance too."

Arthur laughed at that, softly, happily, remembering more of it. "The snow creature?"

She shrugged. "Everyone wants a bit of childhood each festive holiday, don't you think?"

He nodded. "The drink."

She shivered slightly, a bit surprised as his gloved hands squeezed hers at the reaction. "It was bitterly cold that day, wasn't it? I spotted you shivering when no one else was looking on the knight training grounds. I rushed back to make sure you'd have a hot sweet drink, a touch of warmth."

Oh how it was that indeed Arthur thought. "The bread..."

"I made it in my oven. I wasn't sure, just hoped you liked the taste of honey."

"Love it."

She blushed at his strongly honest remark.

Arthur brought it out from his pocket, opening the box so she would see. "And this, the one box I ever deemed rightful enough for my mother's rings."

A tear fell down her face at that. So touched was she that he'd put what mattered to him most within her gift. "I could only hope you'd like it. I know it's not as decorative as all your others, but I think the wood is its own most precious jewel. It has a scent that is heavenly itself."

"Agreed." Arthur whispered, taking a step forward. She was no princess, but it didn't matter. Just a servant girl. He cared little. He watched with wonder as the snow fell upon the hood of her cloak. Taking one more step, he reached up with his gloved hands, gently pulling it down, and watching with even greater wonder as those pearling white drops of snow melted within her dark curls of hair.

"I've never received more precious gifts.

Ever."

She smiled, feeling his fingers come against her cheek, the gloved hand touching her intimately.

"Merry Christmas Prince Arthur."

He smiled too at that, knowing his father would find this silly or even wrong completely. A prince and a servant girl. Wanting to kiss such. Preposterous. But Arthur didn't care. No princess ever warmed his heart so. No princess made his heart bounce so. No princess made his lips want so much.

Need so much.

Leaning forward, tenderly keeping her cheek in hold, he kissed her, feeling and tasting the sprinkles of snow that were landing on her lips. They tickled his own, making him giggle without meaning to. Making her too.

"Guinevere..."

"I told you, Gwen."

He shook his head, touching her lips, making her shiver. Making her want and need him as much as he did her. "No. You are Guinevere. As lovely as the name. Thank you."

She knew it was silly, a servant girl falling in love with a prince. She knew in days of no holiday nothing good could come from it. But so that was why she would hold onto this Christmas as long as possible. Hold onto him.

"Thank you for receiving my gifts."

He kissed her again. And again. Telling himself he'd never forget it. The day he first kissed her in the snow.

The day he kissed his secret gift giver...

And the queen of his future days.

TTT

The End.

Merry Christmas.