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and she'll drink from that chalice of ginger ale. be it bitter or sweet.

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When Gwen kissed Merlin first, he was drenched in a feverish sweat and confused. She didn't know what came over her but she gave into her thoughts and kissed him as soon as she saw them open, saw the blue against the white. 

She immediately apologised in her very special Gwen way but Merlin looked not bothered about it at all. In fact, if she would let herself dream a little...it almost seemed as if he'd enjoyed it. Or at the very least, be intrigued enough to have a second chance. 

When Merlin was back on his feet after a day of rest, Gwen avoided him for as long as possible. She knew she'd not be able to look him in the eye without burning with blush and stumbling over or even dropping what she held in her hands. And it worked! Sort of...

Morgana noticed Merlin slumping around the castle, more disheartened than usual. She knew it was nothing to do with Arthur, she assured that herself (his ear was sore for the rest of the day after her interrogation). Morgana knew he was too proud to let any of the Knights jibes get under his skin and for all she knew Gaius and him weren't fighting. That left one person.

Gwen knocked on the door and heard Morgana's usual 'come in!', and she entered swiftly. She hung up Morgana's gowns in the closest before turning to her lady, who was sure to be relaxing by the fireplace at this time of night. Gwen was glad to have already put away the clothes for she was certain she would have dropped them when her eyes sought Merlin who was sitting awkwardly in Morgana's usual chair.

The woman in question appeared behind Gwen from the other side of dressing screen, with her formal dress neatly tucked into her arms.

"Ah, Gwen! How lovely of you to join us!" Her lady guided her to the winged armchair opposite Merlin's, so that she had no choice but to look into her fellow servant's eyes. He offered her a small wave but she ducked to avoid his gaze, looking instead at her hands. Merlin tried to pretend he wasn't saddened by that.

Morgana quickly backed away and before Merlin or Gwen could do anything, she slipped out of the chamber's door and locked it behind her, the metal mechanisms echoing in the stone chamber.

The two sprung out of their chairs and shouted through the door. 

"My lady! Whatever is the meaning of this!" Gwen cried, restraining herself from pounding at the door. She could feel the anxiety seize in her chest, making it hard to breathe.

"Morgana!" Merlin rumbled boldly, "Open the door!"

"No," came the curt reply of the King's ward,

"Not until you two sort out what ever is going on between you and be friends again. The castle has had such an unsettling atmosphere since you two started to refuse to talk to each other."

Then there was nothing else but silence and heels clicking on stone tiles. Merlin looked slyly at Gwen, who was checking her gowns pockets for her spare key to get out, her hands shaking more and more as each pocket came out empty.

"Gwen..."

No answer. 

"Gwen."

She stopped searching but couldn't look up, still staring down at her skirts.

"Guinevere!"

Merlin grabbed her hands in his and she jumped in shock, weakly trying to pull away from his hold.

"Let me go, Merlin," she whispered, trying to choke down the tears she felt coming.

He guided her to the chairs and sat her down on one. He kneeled in front of her, holding just one hand now, but more securely, reassuringly, than before.

"Please tell me what I've done wrong."

Gwen huffed a sad laugh,

"You haven't done anything wrong, Merlin...It's me and my stupid..." heart.

The dark haired man gazed up into her kind eyes, trying to understand what she was feeling, 

"If this about....What happened...Gwen I told you, I don't care about that, if that's what's upsetting you."

She was silent for a moment, spurring Merlin to sit up in the chair beside her, ready to comfort her when he saw the tears fall from her eyes. 

"That's the problem...That you don't care and I do. I care...a lot."

No...She wasn't...?

"Oh." Oh? Oh?! Merlin really?

"I'm sorry I didn't mean to- I just--I'm sorry-!" Gwen began, tripping over her words in a haste to make an unneeded apology.

"Stop. Gwen." His hand caught her elbow as she tried to get up and away from him.

The woman looked up and over at him, with a shimmer of hope in her eyes,

"....Yes?"

"I care too."

Their second kiss was far better than their first, but one of them was still wet, Gwen's skin was soaked in her tears. They promised the next one would be dryer and in far better circumstances. But they still enjoyed it, immensely.

Morgana returned to the room, and slipped through the door to see them cuddling on an armchair, Gwen tentatively perched on Merlin's lap. Her plan had worked.

"Friends again, are we?" The two jumped out of their skin like they'd be caught doing something they shouldn't have been doing, 

"Wonderful, my work here is done!" 

Gwen and Merlin's relationship only seemed to blossom from there, they went on picnics in some of the clearings near the castle grounds. Gwen invited him over to dinner at her and her father's house, where he finally got to know the kind blacksmith, who began to treat him like his own son. And, sometimes if they were feeling bold, Gwen would spend the night in Merlin's room, the two tightly packed into Merlin's thin bunk, sharing body heat under the covers. 

But the wildest part of the whole situation was that no one, no one, knew they were together. Not Morgana, not Arthur, not Tom, Gwen's father, not even Gaius who had caught them sleeping together once in Merlin's bed. Admittedly, they were actually sleeping fully clothed above sheets but you would think the man would have a little of bit of instinct. 

It actually was quite funny to Gwen and Merlin couldn't help but find the mirth in it too. So they decided not to tell anyone unless they asked. No one could be that oblivious for that wrong, right? 

Wrong. 

It took over three years for anyone to notice. A laughable amount of time to be out of touch. Gwen and Merlin had stopped being secretive almost twenty eight months ago, and forgot the agreement all together at the year and half mark. And nobody asked. Not even Elyan when he came back to Camelot after being knighted by Arthur after the whole Morgause and Cenred business. 

And while they were on the subject of magic, it took only Gwen two months to confront Merlin about his magic. Thankfully she had accepted him, plus it gave their relationship more...options, magic did. 

"This is absolutely ridiculous!" Merlin shouted into the din of the noisy tavern one night, his voice lost in the crowd of others swimming in the air. He had his arm blatantly around Gwen's waist for the last three hours and had kissed her on the neck multiple times. Nobody had said anything.

"What is, mate?" Gwaine asked, downing the dregs of his larger like water. Maybe that's Gwaine's reason as to why he didn't notice. 

Gwen smiled behind her hand, they had decided earlier that evening if no was to ask about them, that would finally tell them. After over three years. God their friends were stupid.

"That Gwen and I have been courting for over three bloody years and not a soul in Camelot has had the braincells to notice!"

The Knights were silent and glanced at each other before bursting out laughing. Merlin and Gwen did not join in. 

Leon noticed their serious looks and sobered up first, 

"You're...You're serious?"

The question seemed to cut into the drunken minds of the Knights as they all stopped giggling only to be astonished as Merlin dropped to one knee with a golden ring, with a thin, round stone of white opal set in the centre, with glimmered with the rainbow in the candle light of the tavern.

Gwen could only look down in shock as Merlin took a hand in own, mirroring the evening so long ago when they first confessed their mutual feelings about each other.

"We are. Gwen, I'm sorry to do this now, in a dirty tavern full of drunks, but if I don't, I'm sure I'll go mad. So will you, Guinevere, please do me the unrepayable honour of being my wife?"

"Yes, of course! Yes, Merlin, a thousand times yes!" Gwen cried as Merlin slipped the ring on to her finger. It was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen.

The knights around them shouted in celebration, snapping out of their momentary shock. Merlin was slapped on the back by Lancelot and Arthur while Gwen received a kiss on the cheek by her brother and Gwaine. Percival and Leon ordered another round and they drank well into the night, celebrating their engagement and sharing stories of their relationship, which their friends had missed the entirety of.

The service was beautiful. Once Morgana got over the shock of their relationship (and her slight anger after not being told sooner) she promised to commission Gwen the most gorgeous wedding dress anyone had ever seen. And it was.

The dress was made of pure sky blue silk, embroidered with white doves in pure silver. The skirt was encircled with a gold trim and dotted with golden suns and moons. The bodice had a sweetheart neckline and a dark blue silk piece stretched over her chest in a downwards triangular shape, finishing at her waist. Silver ties crossed over it in a tasteful pattern. The dress had long sleeves with dipped at the end, mimicking birds wings.

Merlin had cried when he saw it on her for the first time when she walked down the aisle, lead by her father who was giving her away.

After the service, Arthur and Morgana had organised a feast fit for royals as a joined wedding gift for their best friends (plus a new house in the upper town, but they weren't going to tell them until after the honeymoon). Merlin and Gwen sat at the head of the table and began to eat their dinner after Arthur delivered a speech about the two joining in unity, when Merlin noticed the cup she was drinking out of.

"Is that...?" Merlin pointed to the scuff marks on the engraved metal chalice.

"Yes. I thought it was fitting. Our relationship started with this cup. I thought it should continue with it," Gwen smiled, 

"Besides, that's not only special things about this."

She placed the cup beside his hand and he looked to the contents, 

"What? Ginger Ale?" 

She nodded. Merlin looked around the hall. Everyone was drinking the fine wine the Castle's kitchen has provided. His head snapped back to her grinning face. 

"Wait- You're-?" 

"Mmm-hmm. My wedding gift to you."