Written for professortennant for TDBM Secret Santa on tumblr. The request was "jean/lucien + first kiss under the mistletoe." This story takes place in my favorite well of untapped romantic potential, non-Adelaide late season 3.
The house was looking festive. A large tree sat in the parlor covered in tinsel. Wreaths and garlands adorned the downstairs on tables and along shelves. Trays of food lay waiting in the kitchen and firewood was stacked up in the studio. Jean bustled about making last minute preparations. Leaning against a doorway, Lucien watched her and scowled.
"Honestly Jean I don't understand why we are doing this."
"Lucien, this is our second Christmas in the house and..."
Lucien cut her off.
Jean's eyes grew wide before recovering. Something had been growing steadily between them the last few months. It was never discussed, never acknowledged, but it was there. Sometimes Jean forgot herself, forgot that they weren't just another couple and she would say something she shouldn't. But there was no time to worry about the implications of that now.
"What I mean to say is, you've been here almost two years, and this is your second Christmas since returning to Ballarat. It's high time you joined polite society and opened up your home."
"I really don't see the point. I can't remember the last time I went to a party."
"Well, you can start this evening. And if you're going to just stand around you might as well help."
Jean thrust a cardboard box at Lucien. Inside were piles of artificial plant sprigs with green leaves made of soft silk. White varnish berries clung in bunches to the stem. Lucien looked up confused.
"There's an awful lot of it."
"It was used in a church pageant a few years back. They were getting rid of it and it seemed a shame to waste. Hang one in the dining room and put the rest back in the closet."
Jean turned without another word and went into the kitchen to finish cooking. More than an hour had passed and she was glad to have finished without distraction. She took off her apron to make one final round of the downstairs before changing for the party. As she stepped out into the parlor she let out a yelp. The ceiling was covered in mistletoe. Jean wandered from the parlor to the dining room to the studio. He must have hung the entire box. There was even some in the hall.
A voice broadcast from the studio but Lucien did not come out.
"What did you do?"
Lucien finally joined her in the parlor, glancing at the ceiling innocently.
"I said one piece of mistletoe! It's a Christmas party not a harem!"
"Oh," Lucien looked embarrassed. "I can take it down."
Jean looked at her watch.
"The guests will be here any minute, we'll just have to make do."
Jean stalked off and did not notice the smirk on Lucien's face.
An hour later the house began to fill with family, friends, and associates. It seemed people they barely knew wanted to attend, probably to quench their curiosity about what life was like for Ballarat's infamous prodigal son. Lucien said as much to Jean, whispering in a hushed tone in the hallway outside the kitchen. That is where it began.
"Oi! You're standing under the mistletoe. You know what that means, eh?"
Lucien raised an eyebrow at Danny. Jean just looked flustered and patted her hair nervously.
"Am I? Well it's a little hard to avoid."
Head held high, Jean went off to attend to the guests.
All night long the scene repeated itself. Everywhere Jean stood there seemed to be mistletoe, and everywhere there was mistletoe, Lucien was by her side. At first he pretended to be affronted by the multiple suggestions of what to do about the situation. Then he started giving her suggestive looks, looking up at the mistletoe and back at her, one eyebrow raised. Jean would have found his overtures humorous if they weren't surrounded by half the town. Each time someone pointed out where they were she would scamper away, claiming some urgent task in the kitchen or a guest she needed to greet. Later in the evening Lucien was holding court among some of his closest friends with Jean by his side. He was regaling them with how the party was Jean's idea and what a wonderful hostess she was, his hand pressed lightly at her back. Jean was about to respond in kind when Agnes Clasby spoke first.
"Jean my dear, it appears you are standing under the mistletoe."
Jean turned bright red.
"So I am."
"And so is Lucien."
Jean turned around looking for an escape route but they were surrounded. There was no graceful exit. Everyone looked at them expectantly. Matthew Lawson was barely suppressing a grin. Mattie appeared enthralled. Even Alice was waiting for something to happen. Jean briefly contemplated getting on the floor and trying to crawl out of the scrum when Lucien cleared his throat.
Quickly Lucien put his arm around Jean's shoulder, pulled her in, and planted a light peck on the top of her head.
"Everybody happy now?"
Agnes and the assembled crowd clapped, amused. Jean mumbled something about checking on the canapés and rushed off, ignoring several jovial but pointed comments about how Jean aught to snatch Lucien up while he was still single, and one confused exclamation from Lucien.
"But we have plenty of canapés!"
The last of the guests had trickled out, and Jean turned her attention to cleaning up the dishes. Lucien had disappeared some time ago. Jean assumed he had tired of all the people and retreated to his office for a drink. Satisfied that everything that could not wait until morning had been tended to, Jean took off her apron and draped it over a chair. She made one last round of the house, turning off lights and making sure nothing needed her attention before heading upstairs.
When she got to the top of the landing Jean stopped short. Lucien was standing on a step-ladder hanging mistletoe above her bedroom door. A double row of the plants ran from the top of the stairs down the hallway, ending at Jean's room. The empty box sat on the floor. Lucien turned, one hand reaching towards the ceiling, his face frozen in shock.
"Lucien!" Jean managed to whisper and shout at the same time, "What on earth are you doing?"
Lucien looked from the doorframe to Jean and back up, as if he was trying to decide whether to finish the job. Finally he took a step down, resting one foot on the floor. His hand went to his waistcoat then, noticing the mistletoe still in hand, tossed it into the box.
"Well, um, the thing is, you see, I was thinking."
Jean crossed her arms and cocked her head.
"Well, this is a party. And you never know when you are going to meet a pretty girl at a party, and you might like to kiss her."
Lucien stepped away from the ladder and moved towards Jean, his hand reaching out to caress her cheek. She lowered her arms, unsure of what would happen next. Lucien leaned forward and brushed his lips against hers. He pulled back and finding no resistance, repeated the action. They settled into a rhythm of soft kisses in the darkened hallway, pressing lips gently together as Jean's arms snaked around Lucien's waist and Lucien ran his fingers through Jean's hair. Eventually they stepped back a little and looked into each other's eyes.
"Merry Christmas, Jean."
"Merry Christmas, Lucien."
Lucien lowered his head and kissed Jean again, tentative at first, but when his tongue brushed along the seam of her open lips time and sense was lost to both of them. It was a long while later when they slowly pulled apart. Jean laid her head on Lucien's chest and he wrapped his arms around her. Jean sighed.
"I should probably be getting to bed."
Lucien nuzzled the curls behind Jean's ear.
"It's quite late."
"The fire is still burning in the studio. Come downstairs with me, I'll put another log on."
Jean looked up at that and appeared to be considering the idea.
"Is there mistletoe hanging in the studio?"
Lucien broke into a wide grin.
Hand in hand, Lucien and Jean walked downstairs together.