Merlin arrived at the shop at six, determined to have beaten Gwen at last, only to find her already outside updating the chalk menu.

"How are you even possible?" he called, stepping up onto the sidewalk. "When do you get up in the morning?"

"You're here early," was all she said in response, rising to hug him. "Your shift doesn't start for another half hour."

"I was going to surprise you," Merlin said, throwing his arms around her. "Happy birthday."

"Oh, please, Merlin, don't make any fuss over me," she laughed. "It's not that important."

"It's extremely important. Something smells amazing. What is it?"

"Percy's making cinnamon rolls," Gwen said, flipping the sign around to Open. "Don't eat any until your break."

"I don't know if I can hold out that long," he grinned. Gwen rolled her eyes. The bell over the door rang, signalling the entrance of their first customer.

It wasn't long before the regulars began to trickle in, and then the trickle turned into the flood of the morning rush. Merlin managed to steal into the kitchen on the pretense of restocking the cinnamon buns.

"Is it all done?" he asked Percival, who nodded.

"Top shelf. Don't eat any!"

Merlin sighed as he opened the cabinet. "You know, I am capable of looking at a baked good without shoving it in my mouth."

"I think after the cream puff incident, a little caution is warranted," Percival said, taking a tray of cupcakes out of the oven.

The smell of the cake hit him before he even saw it, warm sugar and vanilla. It was frosted a light lavender with roses around the rim. "Perfect," he said. Percival smiled.

"Merlin," Gwen called from outside. "We need more coffee."

"Right. Coming," he called, grabbing the pot and a tray of cinnamon buns. He balanced it precariously as he backed out the door, swung around, and crashed into the tall blond boy right outside the door. Coffee flew everywhere, soaking the boy's neatly pressed shirt and drenching the hem of Merlin's trousers.

"I am so sorry," Merlin gasped. Gwen looked up from where she was chatting with a pretty brunette over the counter and grabbed a towel from under the counter.

"It's fine," the boy grunted as Merlin began to dab at him with the rag Gwen had passed him. "I can do it."

"Coffee's on us, anyway," Merlin said, ineffectually swishing the rag against the boy's chest. He knew now was definitely not the time, but he couldn't help but admire the firm muscles the wet shirt was showing off.

"Look's to me like its on Arthur," the brunette at the counter said. "Let him pay. You got his shirt, not his wallet, and I told him not to stand right by the kitchen."

"Morgana," the boy growled.

"What? It's fine," she said, smiling winningly at Merlin.

"How am I supposed to go to work?" the boy- Arthur- said, not looking at Merlin. Merlin felt slightly insulted. Yes, he had just crashed into him with a pot of hot coffee, but it wasn't like the boy was the only victim. Merlin could feel the warm coffee seeping into his socks.

"I know for a fact Leon keeps an extra suit in his office. Right?" the girl said calmly, clearly unphased by the boy's anger.

Another boy popped up from behind her head, nodding. Clearly, he had ducked behind her to hide his laughter. His face was bright red.

"Shut up, Leon," Arthur grumbled. He grabbed the rag from Merlin. "I can do it."

Leon ducked behind Morgana again, overcome with giggles.

"We have to go," Arthur said. "Here."

He shoved the rag back at Merlin. "Sorry," Merlin called weakly as the boy stormed out.

His friends were still laughing at the counter. "Here," the girl said, pulling a ten-pound note out of her wallet and shoving it in the tip jar. "That is for the most entertaining breakfast I've had in a while."

Gwen smiled but looked worried. "Apologize again for us, please," she said.

"Oh, its nothing, really. Arthur's very egotistical," Morgana smiled. "Nothing was harmed but his pride, and that he could definitely do with a little less of."

"Thank you," Gwen said.

"Thank you," Morgana said, a twinkle in her eye. "See you soon." She grabbed Leon's arm and pulled him out of the shop.

Gwen turned to see Merlin sitting on the counter, pulling off his dripping wet socks. "Merlin," she said.

"I know, I'm sorry."

She turned, disapproving, but a slight smile was lifting the corners of her mouth.

"He was cute, anyway," she said after a few seconds, swirling whipped cream on top of a hot chocolate.

"He was an ass," Melin said. "Do you have an extra pair of shoes?"

Gwen laughed. "In the backroom. Percival left some flipflops a while ago."

To Morgana and Leon's credit, they lasted a good two minutes in terse, breathless silence once in the car.

Finally, Arthur sighed. "Go ahead."

If he was impressed with how long they'd held it in, he was even more impressed by the sheer force with which they exploded into laughter.

"Your face!" Morgana wheezed. "I thought you were going to kill him!"

Arthur gritted his teeth and turned into the parking lot. "I'm never giving you a ride again."

Morgana smirked. "What, you're just going to leave me alone in your apartment?"

"How long until your next term starts again?"

"Are you trying to get rid of me?" she laughed.

"Always," Arthur growled. "Try not to embarrass me."

"You mean, more than the coffee stains will?"

Leon burst out laughing again.

"That boy was cute," Morgana said, flipping down the passenger side mirror. "You should have asked for his number."

"Morgana," Arthur sighed.

"I should have asked for his number for you."

"Please don't do this," Arthur said. He turned off the car and looked over at his sister, delicately filling in her lips with red.

"Come on, Arthur," she said, smacking her lips and folding up the mirror. "What was the point of coming out to me if not so I could help you get dates?"

"The point of coming out to you was to get you to stop helping me find dates!"

Morgana rolled her eyes. "Leon agrees with me."

Leon looked up, concerned. "I am not taking sides."

"But if you were, you'd be on mine, right?" Morgana said, pouting pleadingly.

"Let's go," Leon said, with good reason. Nobody ever wanted to be stuck in a war between the Pendragon siblings.

"Couldn't agree more," Arthur said. He got out of the car and slammed the door behind him. With a wink at Leon, Morgana followed him.

By the time three o'clock rolled around, business had slowed. Gwen was reading with her feet up on the counter. Merlin and Percival were taking a break to enjoy Percy's cinnamon rolls. The sound of the bell chiming made them all look up, expecting Mordred for his shift any minute. Instead, a slight but muscular boy strutted into the shop. He strolled up to where Gwen sat, eyebrows raised, waiting.

"I got you a flower," he said, offering her a lavender bloom.

"Very sweet, Gawaine," Gwen said. "You picked it outside from our flower box. I planted these, do you honestly expect me to fall for that?"

"The point is that I was thinking about you."

"Uh-huh," Gwen said, grinning. "What can I get you?"

"Just a plain black coffee with your number written on it."

"Smooth, really," Gwen said, heading off to make it. Gawaine shrugged and turned to Merlin.

"How bout you, pretty boy?" he said, sliding in next to Merlin. "Why aren't you wearing shoes?"

"Its a long story," Merlin said, grimacing. "Percival has really big feet."

Gawaine winked at Percival.

"Gawaine," Gwen mock-snapped. "Stop flirting with my staff."

"I didn't miss the cake, did I?" Gawaine murmured.

"Nope. Mordred and Lancelot still aren't here."

"Excellent. Wait, they aren't still dating, are they?"

"Who, Gwen and Lancelot?" Merlin asked.

"Yeah," Gawaine said, leaning back.

"No, they broke up a little while ago."

"And you and Lancelot are over, right?" Gawaine said. Merlin blushed slightly.


"Whew. That man sure gets around. Respect," Gawaine said. The bell chimed again and Mordred darted into the shop.

"Am I late? I feel late," he said, running behind the counter and pulling on an apron.

Gwen laughed slightly. "No, you're just on time, sweetie. Early, actually. You and Merlin both. I've never seen you two so excited to get to work."

Mordred stared at Merlin, who subtly shook his head. "I- I think my clock in my car is fast," Mordred said finally. "Happy birthday," he added, kissing Gwen on the cheek.

"Thank you, dear," she said, pushing Gawaine's coffee over the counter towards him.

The bell sang out again and Lancelot walked into the shop. Gwen looked suddenly flustered. "Lancelot," she said. "What are you doing here?"

Lancelot looked over at Merlin. "Just- stopping by."

Merlin kicked Percival under the table. "Kitchen!" Percival shouted. Everyone jumped.

"What?" Gwen said, looking concerned.

"I think I left something in the oven," Percival said. "Give me a sec."

Gwen looked around suspiciously. "You're up to something, Merlin."

"Why me?" Merlin sputtered. "Mordred's much more suspicious than I am."

"What?" Mordred said, looking up from the coffee pot he was cleaning.

Seeing the party beginning to deteriorate before it had even begun, Merlin waved at Lancelot. "Get the lights!" he hissed.

Lancelot flicked the switch and Percival came in from the kitchens, holding Gwen's cake. Gwen's mouth fell open. "Boys," she gasped.

They sang a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday and managed to serve most of the cake before a customer came in and was caught up in the frolic. They sent him off with a slice of free cake and a vanilla latte.

Finally, they had partied themselves out. Lancelot fell asleep on one of the couches and Gawaine pulled out his laptop. Mordred, Merlin and Gwen returned to behind the counter.

"Merlin," Mordred said, looking thoroughly bewildered, "Why aren't you wearing shoes?

"Um," Merlin said. "It's a long story."

"Merlin made an ass of himself," Percival said, heading back into the kitchens.

"So I gather," Mordred said.

"I ran into a customer today. Literally. With a pot of hot coffee," Merlin explained.

"Ooh," Mordred winced.

"He was cute, though," Gwen teased. "Sure you didn't bump into him on purpose?"

"You keep saying that," Merlin said.

"It's true. Maybe you'll see him again, Merlin. Maybe its destiny," she laughed.

"Ha ha," Merlin said. "I don't want to see him again. He was rude."

"Well, you did spill coffee on him," Mordred said.

Merlin glared at him. "He was standing in a very inconvenient spot," he said.

"Sure," Mordred said. "Whatever. I have homework to do."

"How's school?" Gwen asked, washing out the blenders.

"Fine," Mordred said. "For high school, I mean."

The bell dinged and Merlin headed for the counter to take the customer's order. He could hear the laughter of his friends behind him as he poured a cup of coffee and wrapped up a donut to go. Something was different. It wasn't something he could place, just a vague feeling. Something's beginning, he thought. He didn't know what it was, or even why he thought that, but for some reason it made him happier than he could remember being in a long time.