Winter always had the tendency to adorn the fae world. Beautiful lands of fresh grass would be replaced by a thick, white layer of snow that had equal value. The unique drop of each snowflake proved its excuse of ridding the beauties of summer. To all fae and creatures alike, winter was a good sign of the world shifting. The cold environments hushed hard realities and offered an escape to troubled neighbors.
Chise Hatori was one of them. Human tradition and mannerism introduced her to seeing winter as a rather celebrating time. There was Christmas, gifting, and the warm gratification of your family and friends. Ever since she was sold to an ancient sorcerer and introduced to the fae world, her family and friend relations changed dramatically. She now considered Elias, Ruth, and Silky as her new family rather than her old, broken one. She now had a new multitude of friends that supported and helped her, like Alice.
Wearing her pink scarf, green coat, and black leggings and boots, Chise continued walking on the sidewalk of Great Britain. Next to her was her familiar, Ruth. He was currently in his dog form as he walked close to her and kept an open eye for any danger that was nearby. His job as her familiar was to protect her and make sure she was okay according to her thoughts that he felt. Elias insisted on the latter, for Ruth’s main purpose was to be linked with Chise and serve as her protective shadow.
The now 16 year old girl held a paper in her gloved hand. In her own handwriting was a check-off list that was titled “Christmas Shopping”. Various names were written next to a line of boxes and, so far, none had been crossed off. She eyed the paper curiously in her hand before looking to her familiar in thought. Ruth noticed her green eyes on him and he looked back at her.
He asked, “Is something on your mind, Chise?”
“Yeah,” She replied and took a glance at the paper. “I’m...not sure what to get everybody. I know this happened last year, but I want to give everybody something new. I want to spend the time I’m alive getting them something else that’s meaningful to them.”
“Hmm.” Ruth mused.
Chise, last year, gave her fiance a new necklace to replace the old one he wore before. Elias, in return, gave her a large teddy bear plush that absorbed any excess magic while she slept. Her gifts to her other friends were just as meaningful and made last Christmas wonderful. Ruth felt conflicted on any suggestions for Chise. She sighed and found her breath visible within the cold temperature around them.
The redhead began to wonder what Elias got her this year. She knew it was wrong to think of receiving more than giving, but Chise was curious. Would he make her another teddy bear? She really enjoyed the one she currently had and would sleep with it when Elias wasn’t in their bed. The teen felt a blush come to her cheeks and lifted her scarf up to hide it. Maybe she should just focus on what to get for her friends first. Ruth stared at her.
“You know,” He began. “The magus doesn’t know much about humans. Maybe you could get him something that will teach him more about them.”
Ruth realized that an educational gift for Christmas probably wasn’t the best idea. He lowered his head and muttered, “Or something...”
Chise giggled and pet her familiar’s long, black coat. She appreciated him trying to help her. Perhaps she should postpone Elias’ gift until later when she finished the rest of the list. It’d give her more time to ponder on what to give him and make sure her decision was just right. Ruth’s suggestion was in the correct direction; Chise just had to choose which part of human nature to introduce Elias to. She withdrew her hand from his coat and gave Ruth a smile.
She asked, “I guess that means we should get your gift first, huh? What did you want? I was thinking some dog treats or a new flying disk.”
At her suggestion, Ruth perked up. His animal nature often dominated his human one. When Chise saw his tail start wagging, she knew she had him. Out of his own excitement, he started running and leading her to the nearest dog store. Never would Chise have guessed that this would be their first stop, but she didn’t protest. Instead, she let Ruth pick out a couple of his own presents, which happened to be a chew toy and the flying disk she brought up earlier.
After purchasing her familiar’s presents, the two wandered back onto the sidewalk. Ruth trotted next to his familiar with his new chew toy in his mouth. Chise had to suppress a giggle when he started biting down on it and causing it to squeak. The two suddenly passed by a park and Chise stopped to observe it. Blankets of snow covered the playground and she saw children running around and laughing. They were either making snow angels, snowmen, or were engaged in a snowball fight. Chise noticed a couple sitting on one of the park benches as they watched their child make snow angels. A tinge of sadness came to her as Chise suddenly remembered her childhood.
The redhead snapped out of the horrible memories once she saw the male hold up a mistletoe. He leaned in and pecked his wife on the cheek, whom rubbed it in return and blushed. Chise felt a blush come onto her cheeks as she suddenly started walking again. Her pace was a bit faster this time and her mind was suddenly filled with thoughts of her and Elias. Ruth paid no mind to it as he continued to squeak his new toy, filled with bliss and pleasure.
The sun was setting when Chise completed the last person on her list. Her last person before Elias was Alice. Because she had quit drugs, Chise felt that she could use a therapeutic method to help ease any urges or stress. She got her some scented candles and a small canister of relaxation rub. It wasn’t as good as her gift last year, but Chise had a feeling it would work. From what she knew, addiction was really hard to recover from and she wanted to help Alice in any way she could.
Despite having four hours of shopping and plenty of breaks to think, Chise was still stuck on what to get Elias. Maybe she could get him another necklace? No, no. It would be repetitive if she did and wouldn’t mean much to him. Should she get him another vest? Clothes just didn’t seem that meaningful, either. Chise sat on a bench and placed a finger to her chin in thought. The gifts she got were piled beside her and she was currently staring at the list in her hands. One box remained unchecked and it was obvious whose name was next to it.
Ruth, whom was laying in her lap, turned to look at her. He said, “Deep down, you know what to get him.”
“What?” Chise asked, clearly dumbfounded. “No, I don’t. I’ve been thinking and thinking but nothing seems to be right.”
Ruth looked at her for a moment or two before resting his head back in her lap. He said, “Maybe you could stop being reckless for this Christmas. He’d probably like that.”
The redhead scowled. She took away his chew toy from him and Ruth suddenly sat up straight. Chise placed the toy aside and made sure it was out of his reach. When she looked back, her familiar was giving her a look of betrayal. The redhead crossed her arms in return with a rather smug smile. Ruth groaned and looked away from her. He watched various cars speed down the icy road and seemed to be deep in thought.
Chise folded her list back into her pocket and joined him. Sometimes she wished she could hear what he was thinking. They were both lucky that winter was a quiet and peaceful time. Normally, the traffic would be so bad that the honking of horns would interrupt your thought every 3 seconds. It was tedious to be outside for solitude in the summer.
After a few minutes of sitting alone in silence, Ruth sighed. He rested his head on her knee and said, “Personally, I think you already know what to give him. Not so much as a gift, but a message.”
Chise stared at the back of Ruth’s head in thought. A voice in the back of her mind was telling her that he was right. She had an idea she’d been burying back there this whole time. She just didn’t think it was the right time to give it to Elias. The redhead suddenly smiled and started to gather their bags of gifts. Ruth looked back at her curiously before hopping off of her lap and letting Chise get up.
Before Ruth could inquire, Chise was already up and moving. He followed closely behind her and the two headed in the direction of the town. Ruth was lost and tried to find Chise’s thoughts for an answer but found nothing. All he knew was that he had a feeling in his stomach telling him that this wasn’t going to be what he thought it was.
“You know, your gift is really ironic.”
“I’m serious. If he doesn’t catch onto it when he sees it, I’m going to be very disappointed.”
Chise and Ruth were on their way home. They were on the implanted trail leading to the doorstep when Chise started to shush him. The house that was usually surrounded by gardens and grass was now covered with snow. The lakes that once held koi fish were now frozen and the windows on Elias’ house had frost on them. To Chise, the house seemed more beautiful during the summer but was just as appealing in the winter. When the two reached the doorstep, Chise had to shift the bags of gifts into her other arm to open the door.
A quick warm breeze came to the two as soon as the door opened. As soon as the two saw Silky giving them an impatient look, Ruth stepped back and shook the frost off of him. Chise wiped her boots off on the doormat and Silky gave them a satisfied smile. She quickly ushered them in and closed the door behind them. Silky took Chise’s coat after and naturally hung it on the rack. She then took Chise’s scarf and flattened down her sweater, fixed her collar, and then stepped to the side with a bow.
Chise gave her a smile. “Thanks, Silky.”
She gave them one final bow before returning to the kitchen and resuming the dinner she was preparing. It smelled delicious and Chise recognized the scent of dinner rolls and rice. Ruth, clearly intrigued at the sight of food, rushed into the kitchen and watched the Silky cook. Chise was about to step further into the living room until she felt something nuzzle her cheek. She blushed when she realized who it was and she took a step back. Elias was currently standing in front of her with his hands behind his back.
Chise rubbed her cheek and felt them redden. That was his way of giving her a kiss. She looked up and asked, “Elias?”
He simply pointed above her and she found a mistletoe hanging above the doorway. It wasn’t there this morning but Chise could have sworn she saw it earlier. She silently scolded herself for thinking it was because of something else. He wouldn’t just give her a kiss like that. It wasn’t like he-
“It’s tradition, remember?” Elias interrupted her thoughts. “I enjoyed it last year so I got one myself and hung it above the doorway. Do you like it?”
Chise looked back at the mistletoe and smiled. She said, “Yeah. But doesn’t that mean you have to kiss Ruth, too?”
It was a harmless joke and Chise felt herself giggling at it. If she knew that it was there, she was sure Ruth would have asked for one again. Silky could’ve given her a warning beforehand. Having Elias kiss her out of the blue made her quite flustered. She looked over at him and noticed he was in his black vest. He was wearing the necklace she gave him last year and she felt butterflies come to her stomach.
Elias shrugged and clearly didn’t get the joke. He said, “I only enjoy kissing you, anyway.”
The teen felt herself turn as red as a tomato. She tried to hide her blush but apparently Elias didn’t mind. He grabbed the bags out of her hands and set them aside. Chise almost forgot all about them. Her eyes darted to the one that had his gift and she was relieved that he hadn’t seen it. Elias went over and took a seat in his chair. He motioned for Chise to join him.
The redhead sat on the couch next to him and tried to cool herself down. When she started waving her hands in front of her face, she saw Elias giving her a curious look. Chise stopped fanning herself and quickly placed her hands back in her lap. She was a bit nervous and she didn’t really know why. If only Ruth was with her so she wasn’t alone with him...
“You came home later than usual,” Elias got her attention. “Was it crowded? I hear that Christmas Eve is one of the most busiest days of the year.”
“Oh, yeah.” Chise let out a sigh of relief. “It was. Ruth and I barely got everyone’s gifts before dark.”
Elias glanced over back to the bags she was carrying. He said, “That’s good. The banshees usually come out at night.”
Chise closed her eyes in thought. Maybe it was the wrong time to get him that gift...But she couldn’t keep it from him forever. Her time was slowly counting down and she wanted to make sure she told him before things were too late. Maybe he’d feel the same? She read his emotions a lot better than before but he was really good at hiding some things. Even if he didn’t reciprocate, it’d be good to get off her chest...
When she opened her eyes, she saw Elias leaning towards her in worry. She gave him an apologetic smile and tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear. He was right in front of her! The least she could do was actually talk to him instead of thinking about him. She guessed she just couldn’t help it.
She said, “S-Sorry...”
“It’s fine,” He replied and sat back in the chair. “I was going to ask you if you got everything you needed. Just to make sure you’re here for Christmas.”
Chise smiled and gave him a look as if he were crazy. She said, “Of course I’ll be here for Christmas! Our friends are coming over, right?”
“Yes.” He nodded. “This is the first year I’m letting quite a few guests over...If you can, make sure no one makes a mess tomorrow for Silver. I’d hate it if she had more work to do than she usually did.”
Something told Chise that Silky wouldn’t mind having more to do, but she nodded, nonetheless. Chise was actually pretty excited to have others over. She spent Christmas last year with Elias privately. Not that anything was wrong with it, but now it’d feel like a real Christmas party if everyone were over. The only problem was that she’d have to hide Elias’ gift until they were alone. She couldn’t admit everything to him when everyone was there. It was a confession that only he should hear.
It was then that Chise noticed Elias had a hint of amusement in his eyes. When she turned to him, she could see from his demeanor that he was rather happy. She opened her mouth to ask him about it until the Silky came out from the kitchen and stood between the two. She pointed to the kitchen, which was pretty much a signal for them to “come and eat”. Elias stood up first and nudged Chise to go ahead. She then stood and started making her way to the kitchen, hiding the faintest blush from feeling Elias’ hand on her back.
“Chise! It’s been awhile!”
“That magus hasn’t been doing anything to you, has he?”
“It’s good to see ya’ again, kid.”
Chise Hatori greeted all of her guests with a polite bow and engaged in a conversation or two. She knew most of the guests but a few would come here and there that she hadn’t known. They must be friends of Elias. She’d check through her necklace afterwards to see if they were evil beings or not. It may seem rude, but it had been awhile since she used it and Ruth was the one encouraging her to do so. Most of them came up as either neutrally good or weren’t harmful. It made sense because Elias wouldn’t invite anyone that posed as a threat to her.
Ruth seemed content after sniffing all of the guests and was following Chise around the house. There were many presents piled under the tree in the guest room. She marveled at how big some of them were and peeked at their tags. Some were addressed to Elias, but most of them were either for Chise or someone she didn’t know. Ruth watched her from behind and scoffed.
“Plenty for you, but none for me.”
Chise smiled and leaned down to ruffle his hair. She said, “Don’t be like that, Ruth. You know you got a couple of presents from me.”
“To be honest,” He switched into his human form. “The only gift I want is for you to be safe tonight. So, don’t leave the house.”
The redhead rolled her eyes and started walking away from him. She heard his footsteps quickly catch up to her. Chise decided to take some time finding Elias. There were so many people in the house she nearly got lost a couple of times. Once she spotted familiar horns in the dining room, Chise nudged her way through the crowd until she reached him. She then found Elias speaking with Simon, who was currently holding a cup filled with classic punch.
When Elias saw Chise come into the room, he dismissed himself from the blonde and walked over to her. He had his red cloth covering his face and Chise supposed that was because of all the company. Chise gave him a quick hug and Elias was caught off guard. He soon returned it and let go of her. The redhead had a big smile on her face.
“Thank you, Elias...” Her eyes wandered to the ground. “For throwing the party, I mean. It’s really nice to see all of my friends over for Christmas.”
“Of course.” He replied. “This was meant for you, after all.”
Chise’s breath escaped from her throat as a dumb grin came onto her face. She cleared her throat and asked, “What were you and Simon talking about..?”
“He was thanking me for the prescription I gave him, as usual.” Elias glanced around the room. “Little does he know I gave him a month’s supply for Christmas. Hopefully he can stop bothering me then.”
“Huh.” Chise placed a thoughtful finger to her chin. She asked, “Are you enjoying the party, Elias?”
The magus looked down at her and she could tell past his cloth that he was smiling(in a way). He said, “As much as I can be. As long as you’re enjoying yourself, Chise, then I am, too.”
The redhead looked up at Elias and gave him an endearing smile. The magus opened his jaw to say something but found someone calling for him. He soon excused himself from the two and left for the living room. Ruth nudged Chise and she gave him a defensive look. The expression on his face said it all and the redhead blushed. Even though their unconscious flirting every day would bore the familiar to no end, he found it tonight rather cute. For what reason, he didn’t know.
The party soon ended and it was around midnight. Many of the adults drank alcohol and Silky was currently cleaning up the kitchen. Everyone loved the gifts Chise got for them and she received some good ones herself. Angelica gave her a potions kit and Alice got Chise a new dress. Her other friends and fae gave her gifts as well, even the ones that came that she didn’t know. She had yet to receive Elias’ and she assumed that he was saving the present like she was doing with his.
Chise and Ruth bid goodbye to the last of the guests and closed the door behind them. When they turned around, they saw that the living room was quite a mess from the wrapping paper. Ruth started to pick some up with his mouth and soon disappeared back into the kitchen to help Silky. Elias came into the room and hung his robe on the rack. Chise noticed that his cloth was now lifted and he was still in a rather good mood.
She quickly went up to Elias and tapped his back. When he turned around, she saw a gleam of happiness in his eyes. She said, “I know you may have thought that I didn’t get you anything, but it’s not true. I wanted to give you your gift as soon as everyone left...”
“Well, that’s funny.” He replied, turning to her completely. “Because I wanted to do the same.”
“Really?” Chise asked. “Well...just wait a moment, please. I’ll get your gift right now.”
With that, Chise turned around and quickly went up the stairs. She darted into her room and looked on her nightstand. She quickly grabbed his present out of his vase and went back downstairs. When she went into the living room, she saw that Elias was sitting in his chair with her own present in his hand. She took a few steps back up and took a deep breath to steady herself. She was really nervous...
You can do it, Chise. She heard Ruth say in her head. He’ll feel the same.
Will he? She asked back. She must have sounded really desperate or something because no response came. Chise decided to take his encouragement as she made her way downstairs. Elias’ eyes locked with hers as she suddenly stood in front of him and extended her arm outwards. His eyes traveled down to the gift in front of him and she could tell he was taken aback.
In her hand was a red rose.
There was no magic nor anything special to it. It looked healthy and, from the water dripping down the stem, he could tell it was real. Elias took it out from her hand and started observing it. His thumb trailed over the thorns and he looked back to Chise, who was currently fumbling with her words. She took another deep breath and managed to make eye contact with him.
“I....I know it isn’t much, but....to humans, when someone is given a red rose, it’s often a proposal of love.”
“Love?” Elias repeated. His eyes went back to the rose and he stroked the petals gently. Chise nodded and watched him.
“Love is....really difficult to explain. In general, it’s when you feel great affection for someone. The love you feel for your friends and family is different than another kind of love. The love you feel for someone else is when you feel romantically....attracted to them.”
She noticed Elias was a little lost and Chise sighed, a bit frustrated at herself. How on Earth could she explain love to someone who barely understood what human happiness was? She steadied herself again and turned back to Elias.
She explained, “Romantic attraction is when you want to...kiss and hug someone. It’s someone who you want to spend the rest of your life with and never see them go. A person who you’d support no matter what they went through and be there for them because you love them. B-Because you feel attracted to them and them only.”
Chise closed her eyes and tried to fight the tears that were coming. Memories came to her and she couldn’t help but feel emotional. Chise opened her eyes soon after and felt tears start to drip down her face.
She said, “I love you, Elias. When I sold myself to slavery, I never thought I’d meet someone like you. Someone who actually wanted me. I thought I’d end up with someone who would use and abuse me like a slave I wanted to be. Instead, I got you....You gave me a home, food, and a new family. If it weren’t for you, I probably would have been dead already. You wanted to keep me alive for as long as possible and I remembered getting so scared of the thought of you tossing me aside. I cared so much about you that I wanted to be more than a slave to you.”
When Chise looked up, she saw that Elias was staring back at her. His eyes had a range of emotions she couldn’t figure out. She continued to keep going because she already was too deep in to back out. Wiping her tears, Chise took another breath.
“I know I did some reckless things and....I regret it all. I took you for advantage sometimes and that’s not how I want to treat you. You mean everything to me. You took me in when I needed it and you helped me discover so many things about myself. B-Because of you, I can make potions a-and do incredible things I never thought I could....At some point in my life, I thought dying would solve everything. Now, I have a reason to be alive. You."
Chise took a moment to wipe the rest of her tears off from her face and catch her breath. She didn’t mean for her confession to be so long, but it was all true. She still had some more to get off her chest.
“I want to be with you for the rest of my life, Elias. No matter how short it may be. Because I love you. So much more than you may think.”
Chise closed her eyes and braced herself for a rejection. For him to suddenly get up and leave her or tell her how he didn’t mean much to him. When she didn’t hear him moving or saying anything, she opened her green eyes and still saw him sitting there. His jaw was slightly agape and the rose was still in his hand. He took a gulp and looked back to the rose, twiddling it in his hand.
After a few moments, he said, “Well....that’s really good, Chise.”
“G-Good?” Chise asked. A nervous feeling rose in her stomach at the lack of an answer. Maybe he didn’t love her, after all. She asked, “How?”
Without saying another word, Elias handed her the box that was in his other hand. She hesitated before taking it and removing the top. In the middle was a small bottle with purple liquid in it. She took it in her hands and observed the bottle for a bit before looking up at Elias. He motioned for her to drink it and Chise decided to trust him. She removed the miniature cork and drank the small amount that was in the bottle.
She felt her body grow lighter. It’s as if another weight was lifted from her shoulders after that confession. All in all, it was a rather pleasurable feeling. The weight of the ring got much lighter, too. She looked at Elias in surprise and he suddenly stood with a happy look in his eyes.
He said, “I found the cure, Chise. You’re now going to live as long as the average human lifespan. If not, longer. I could always settle something out.”
Chise’s mouth gawked open and she didn’t realize that she had dropped the bottle. Thankfully, it was plastic, so it just made a little clanking sound on the hardwood floor. She tried to gather her words but found nothing coming out from her mouth. She looked back up at him breathlessly.
She asked, “How!?”
“It took a lot of borrowing,” His eyes looked away from her. “You have no idea how much trouble I had to go through making sure it came back here. If anyone else knew I made that, I’d be swarmed with all kinds of creature alike in this very room alone.”
“So....” Chise stared at the floor, thinking of what to say. “I’m not going to die?”
“So long as you’re careful, you won’t.” Elias leaned down to her eye level. He continued, “As for your confession....well, I love you, too. I didn’t think much about it in the beginning, but you really grew on me, Chise. I’ve never cared for someone so much as I do for you.”
He then looked back to the rose and held it between them. A yellow light flickered from the stem and suddenly surrounded the petals. Chise watched as the light altered each individual petal until they formed one being: a robin. The thorns were encircling it and Chise thought she had never seen such a beautiful rose.
Tears started to pile in her eyes and Chise suddenly lunged forward. She threw Elias back into the chair and wrapped her arms around him. He felt her tears start to stain his vest and he placed a hand on her back. Chise suddenly sat back and looked Elias straight in his eyes. She planted a firm kiss on the end of his skull.
She said, “I love you, Elias.”
He chuckled and held her closer. “I love you too, Chise.”