Totally turned my morning around. But you know what I've learned? Apparently, I *can* write schmoop. Just not for Buffy and Spike, lol.
TITLE: Seeing In
LENGTH: 944 words
SUMMARY: Arthur and Gwen see in the the New Year. Modern AU.
NOTES: Written for the first challenge at the Arthur/Gwen Last Author Standing. Theme was New Years, prompt was fireworks.
“I hate the way you’re fussing.”
“Someone has to do it.”
“So let me.”
“I don’t think so.”
“And why not?”
For a split second, Arthur hesitated. Answer with the truth, and the mood would be spoiled. Answer with a lie, and Gwen would see right through it.
“Because I have plans.” His response fell somewhere in between, risky from both angles but not as dangerous as each on its own. He stretched the rest of the way, removing two wine glasses from the cupboard. A wedding gift from Morgana before they’d all become estranged. They rarely used them. Gwen had always claimed they were too beautiful to be taken from their shelf. They both tacitly understood she didn’t necessarily refer to the expensive crystal.
A small smile curved Gwen’s mouth. “I do enjoy your plans.”
He couldn’t watch her for fear of losing even more time to distraction. It was tempting, though. She was tempting. She sat in front of the large window overlooking the Thames, framed between the candlelight he’d set for their evening and the distant glow of the celebrations. Millions of people would be watching the fireworks, either live or on the telly, and so he’d turned the settee toward the window in a semblance of doing the same. When the midnight hour struck, however, his eyes would not be on the explosions in the sky, but on the woman who’d chosen him to share her life with. It was the single best gift he’d ever received. Every new year they were lucky enough to have together only cemented that.
He poured the wine, taking care to fill Gwen’s glass only halfway, and carried it over, setting his down first so he could touch her shoulder without spilling. Her head tilted up, toward him, her smile as radiant as the light filtering through the window.
“Another year,” she said.
“Another year.” He pressed her glass into her hand, patient while she took it and cradled it between her palms. “Are you hungry?”
She shook her head. “What time is it?”
“Where did today go?”
He had a better question. Where had the year gone? Because it had flown by, too swift to catch, too zealous to savor. He yearned to have it back, to make them a year younger rather than another year older, because then he’d have that extra time to have with Gwen, regardless of what fate might have in store for them in the future.
Retrieving his glass, he sat behind her, curling his free arm over her shoulder and across her front to pull her gently back against his chest. She came willingly, slipping with deceptive ease into the spot only she could fill, and sighed when he skimmed his lips along her temple.
“You shouldn’t have fussed with the wine,” she murmured. “This is all I need.”
“But we’ve toasted the new year in with a bottle of Merlot for fifty years.”
“Don’t you think that means it’s time for a change?”
Her playful tone prompted him to tighten his embrace, snuggling her even closer into his arms. He buried his nose in her hair, breathing her in, keeping her there as long as he could manage. The color of her curls might have faded with time, but its dark hues had never been what entranced him. That honor rested on the way loose tendrils would fall against her cheek, or dance in the wind when she would whip her head around in excitement.
“Are you saying you’re bored?” he teased. “Right, then. I guess it’s time for that divorce.”
She laughed and twisted around to kiss the underside of his jaw. “Like someone else would have a blanket hog like you.”
“I need something to protect myself from your cold feet.”
“Did you ever consider perhaps they were cold because you steal all the blankets?”
It was a familiar dance, begun when he’d been courting Gwen. She was the first woman he had ever known to be honest with him about his less than positive habits, and he’d fallen in love with her a little bit on that third date when they’d curled up together on the picnic blanket to nap after lunch. He’d woken up with the blanket wrapped tightly around his midsection and Gwen propped up on her elbow, smiling down at him. He’d never asked another woman out after that. She was the one.
Fifty-two years later, she was still the one.
Distant popping distracted her from their cuddling embrace. She turned toward the sound emanating from the other side of the window.
“Is it midnight? Did we miss it?”
Arthur peered around her. The fireworks ignited the sky in reds and yellows. “Only just.”
“Tell me what it looks like.”
But he was no longer looking at the display in the distance. His gaze was on her, and the hopeful expectation in her unseeing eyes. She’d fought the blindness as long as she could, as hard as she’d fought other battles in their lives together, but the one enemy neither one of them could best was time. This was her first New Year’s without her sight, the first she’d ring in without witnessing the fireworks.
It wouldn’t be her last, though. And Arthur would be her eyes whenever she wanted them.
Ignoring their wine, he bent his head and kissed her gently. Her lips parted in a soft exhalation, and her free hand curled around his nape, taking him in for long seconds.
“Happy New Year’s,” he murmured when they parted.
She smiled. “How could it not be?”
With her in his arms, how could it not, indeed?