Fic 2: link
Prompt: Prompt: 12 days of Christmas my true love gave to me
It’s late, it’s cold, and all I want to do is stoke up my little fire and crawl into my bed with three or four blankets.
I give the door an extra shove to make sure it’s securely closed against the draft. I light a candle and am just about to turn to the wood box when I see it.
What on earth?
It’s soft, but heavy, wrapped in parchment and tied with a red ribbon.
My heart pounds as I pull the ribbon, setting it aside. Waste not, want not.
Inside is a large, thick wool blanket, red. I unfurl it and run my hand across its surface, finding it incredibly soft, like the blankets in the palace. A slip of parchment flutters to the floor.
I stare at it. I turn the parchment over and find nothing but a number 12 written on the back.
What does this mean?
Someone obviously felt the need to gift me this blanket. I should appreciate it; it’s beautiful and warm and softer than any of my blankets.
I wear the ribbon in my hair the next day, hoping to catch my mysterious benefactor. It doesn’t work.
Back to my house that night, dark, cold. Snow lightly falling.
A large bundle of split logs, tied with a green ribbon this time. Another parchment.
I mean it. Stay warm.
Apparently whoever is sending me gifts thinks I have trouble staying warm. Well, you do, silly.
I turn over the parchment again. Today there is an 11
on the back. He is counting down. But to what?
The new red blanket is very warm and cozy. I’ve slept better these last two nights than I have in weeks.
I wear the green ribbon, weaving it into the bodice of my dress this time. Still nothing.
Morgana sends me home immediately after dinner. I chide myself when I find myself wondering what gift will be waiting.
There is none. “Oh well,” I say aloud, throwing a log into the stove and wrapping my red blanket around me.
Just as I sit, there is a hurried knock at my door.
“Yes?” I call, pulling the door open to find nobody there. There is a package at my feet. I look up and down the street and see nothing. Foolishly I look at the snow-covered road. Like footprints would tell you anything, Gwen.
I pick up the package, tied with a white ribbon. Candles. Three long tapers.
Your candles are getting low.
So he’s observant. And has some coin. As expected, the back has a number 10.
I put the candles in a drawer for safekeeping and lie down on my bed to think.
My eyes drift closed and I fall asleep fully dressed, in my shoes, wrapped in the red blanket.
It continues for the next several days, and I realize that the numbers are counting down to the Winter Solstice.
A warm loaf of bread on day 9. To warm your insides.
A linen handkerchief on day 8. In case you get the sniffles. I hope you don’t.
This one makes me smile.
A smooth stone, imprinted with the impression of a fern frond, as if it had been etched into the rock itself on day 7. Beautiful and unique, like you.
This one is my favorite.
A small bone hair comb on day 6. For your lovely curls.
I wear this the next day. I receive compliments, but no clues.
A fruitcake on day 5. Sweets for the sweet.
I break off a corner. It is tasty and moist, filled with dried fruits and nuts.
A length of lavender silk on day 4. I know you likely won’t wear it.
I chuckle, torn between being touched and overwhelmed.
Day 3 brings a hard, flat package, tied with a gold ribbon.
It’s a beautiful mirror. My one small mirror is covered in scratches and smears that will no longer clean. My admirer has money to spare. Or he’s a thief.
I look at the parchment.
So you can see how beautiful you are.
Each day the gifts get more extravagant. I know who I hope they are from, but I stubbornly push those thoughts aside, telling myself that there’s no way. But these last two are quite extravagant, and the tiny hopeful part of me that lives in a hidden corner of my heart has decided to make a racket.
I push her back into her hiding place and stubbornly close my eyes. She comes back out while I sleep and takes over my dreams.
“Gwen, tell me,” Morgana says the next night, angling her head.
“What, my lady?” I ask.
“You have a young man, don’t you? Don’t think I haven’t noticed that you’ve been more eager to be off for home lately.”
“I’m sorry, my lady. Have I been slacking in my duties?” I wring my hands lightly, worried that I’ve grown careless.
Morgana laughs. “No, not at all. You just seem like you’ve got something – or someone – to go home to lately. Plus I’ve noticed the new ribbons…”
“So who is it?” she asks, leaning forward.
“No one, my lady.”
“Come now, I won’t tell.”
“There is nothing to tell, honest. I’ve just been unusually tired.” It is a lame excuse.
She regards me through slightly narrowed eyes; knows I’m not telling her something.
“I seem to have a secret admirer,” I sigh.
“It’s unsettling, but flattering. There’s always something waiting for me in my house when I return. I guess I’ve gotten carried away.”
“Nonsense,” she waves her hand. “If I knew there were going to be gifties waiting for me when I got home each day, I’d scurry home as fast as my legs could carry me.”
“Yes, my lady,” I say, gathering her laundry and placing them in a basket.
“And you’ve no idea who this mysterious gift-giver is?”
“It’s either someone with money or someone with light fingers. The gifts are becoming more extravagant as Solstice draws closer.”
“How long has this been going on?”
“The past ten days.”
“Maybe he’ll reveal himself tomorrow!” she exclaims.
“I hope so,” I answer. “I cannot take this much longer.”
“Well, when you find out, do let me know.”
I nod noncommittally and pick up my basket. “Will you be needing anything else tonight, my lady?”
“No. Go home and get your gift.”
What could possibly be waiting for me tonight?
I find myself wondering as I walk through the dimly-lit corridors to the laundry.
So lost in thought am I that I run smack into someone as I round a corner, sending the basket from my hands, clothes scattering.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” I stammer, looking up.
It’s the prince. I drop my eyes and hit the floor, scrambling for the clothing. “Forgive me, my lord, I wasn’t watching where I was walking,” I apologize as I stuff the clothes back into the basket.
“Guinevere, it was an accident,” he interrupts, looking down at me curiously. “No harm done, see?” he holds his arms out and turns around.
I almost laugh. Part of me thinks he could lend a hand, but most of me knows that he is the prince and he doesn’t have to pick up dirty laundry.
“Excuse me, Sire,” I mutter and scoot past him, walking quickly down the hall. I don’t notice the melting snow in his hair. I don’t notice his eyes following my shape as I retreat.
Once home, I lean against the door, still flustered from running into the firm form of Prince Arthur in the corridor.
Day 2 is a vase of flowers. How on earth did he find flowers?
I look at the note.
I know you like flowers. So I found flowers.
A tear slips from the corner of my eye. I lean forward and smell them. They smell like life and spring and everything I love.
The next morning I debate with myself. Do I dare wear one in my hair? Will it attract too much attention?
Do I really care at this point? It’s day one!
I reach and pluck a small flower, a white Gillyflower, and tuck it into my hair, in back, where I’ve gathered my hair into a loose chignon.
The day crawls. The flowers impress Morgana as well. She gets a strange, thoughtful look on her face at one point, but when I question her about it, she claims indigestion.
It has stopped snowing, but the weather has turned colder still, and I walk home as quickly as my legs will carry me, and I am home in a matter of minutes.
The wind howls and batters at my small house, and I slam the door against it, leaning on it again, this time to catch my breath.
I almost don’t want to turn around. I want the mystery solved, but part of me doesn’t. That part of me that keeps creeping out of her cage relishes the attention, loves the fact that someone out there feels the need to gift me lovely things even though I am only a servant.
I turn around. There is nothing on the table, but there is a note. I hang my cloak on the door and walk slowly over.
I do. There is a sprig of mistletoe hanging from my ceiling. I flip the parchment over just out of habit and see the number 1 on the back.
Mistletoe. In here?
I stare at it, frowning, frustrated.
A voice. His
voice. No. It can’t be. I’m imagining this.
Still, a gasp escapes my lips. I close my eyes and hear soft footfalls approaching behind me.
“Open your eyes,” he says. His voice is like silk and velvet and everything soft and luxurious.
“No,” I whisper, keeping them closed.
“If I open them, you won’t be here, and then I’ll know that I’ve gone mad.” Still whispering.
“Is that so?” he asks, and I sense him stepping closer. I feel the warmth from his body and I long to step into his arms, into his warmth.
This can’t be.
But then I feel his fingertips, rough and warm at my chin as he tilts my face, angling it gently upward.
“Open your eyes,” he repeats, his voice low. Almost seductive.
“I can’t.” His finger traces down my cheek now, and my knees nearly give way.
A moment later his lips are on mine, surprisingly soft and delicious. And warm, like the rest of him.
My eyes fly open for a moment, then they drift closed again as I become butter, melting as he kisses me.
I must start to actually melt because I feel his arm at my waist, supporting me. Vaguely I realize that my palms are resting on his chest.
It feels good. His arm feels secure. His lips feel amazing. Time stretches, slows, stops, then snaps back into the present when he withdraws his lips. I finally open my eyes.
“Why?” The question falls from my lips and I wish I could snatch it back and eat it.
He smiles down at me, his eyes soft and dark. His expression is one I cannot let myself acknowledge.
“Because I am completely smitten with you, Guinevere,” he says plainly, leaning down to run his nose lightly along mine.
“Oh,” I say, feeling ridiculous. My mind is gone. I am all heartbeat and breathing and I’m warm, so warm.
“May I kiss you again, or have I offended you?” he asks quietly, and I realize that he is unsure, worried that I don’t return his feelings. Scared.
I take a deep breath, and, steeling my resolve, I reach up with my right hand and cup his cheek lightly, guiding his lips back down to mine.
I feel him smiling just before he kisses me again, and I allow that hidden part of myself a tiny dance of joy.
Fic 4: link