A/N: So I've been holding onto this for a year now, as it was a Christmas gift for my best friend, DezoPenguin, and it wouldn't be fair for everyone else to see it at the same time as him. Now, though, it's finally time to get it published. Merry Christmas, Dezo! ^_^
Christmas had to be one of Lillet Blan's favorite days of the year. When she was little it was the one day in which the chores stopped at midday so that they could celebrate, and the feeling of closeness and the spirit of merriment on Christmas was as enjoyable as the gifts that came from Santa for being good. Helping her mother prepare dinner as they both flitted about the kitchen was one of Lillet's fondest memories of her childhood, not to mention the decorating of the tree in which she would always volunteer first to hang ornaments.
As she'd grown she hadn't become jaded when it came to the holiday season; rather, she still thoroughly enjoyed it. Her own mansion on the Argentine Way was covered in garlands, all doors had wreaths, multi-colored pixie lights that had become traditional for them to have ever since her second year at the Royal House of Magic were placed all over to give a livelier feeling to the house, there were stockings hanging over the hearth, and overall her halls were thoroughly decked. Unbeknownst to the Mage Consul Amoretta had also had some fun placing mistletoe in certain strategic places where she was sure she'd get kisses from her beloved, giggling to herself while she did so and making Gaff, who was wearing a red rather than green jacket, roll his eyes at both her and Lillet's mushiness whenever he passed her by. Not that he could complain much, because he had fun helping decorate even if he had to be embarrassed by his mistress' lovey-doveyness whenever she and Amoretta were in the room together.
What Lillet loved most of all was being able to spend the day without worrying about any duties or other such things. She'd firmly put her foot down that Christmas was a time she would spend with her family and had worked hard during the previous days, up to and including Christmas Eve, to finish all of her work, meetings, problem-solving, and other inconveniences so that from the evening on and for the next three days there would be no reason for her to be disturbed. And so, unless there was a world-ending crisis, people knew to not bother the Mage Consul; there was a rumor going around her office that chimeras were the ones who greeted people at the door of her home during Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the two after.
As a result, Lillet was thoroughly enjoying her Christmas Eve's evening at home. The scent of cookies softly permeated the air, and with good reason, as she had finished making a batch just a little while ago. Both she and Amoretta were curled up on the couch in front of the fireplace, savoring their closeness and one of those sweet moments in which they could be together without interruption. Lillet could feel the day's tension melt away while in Amoretta's arms, releasing a soft sigh of contentment and placing a gentle kiss on the crown of Amoretta's head. The magician's arm was around her lover's waist, holding her close while the homunculus snuggled as close as she could without actually being on Lillet.
But as much as she would have loved to remain like this forever Amoretta had plans, so she regretfully pulled away from the violet-eyed woman, causing a small pout to appear on Lillet's features.
The ash-blonde chuckled softly and leaned in for a gentle kiss. "Sorry. I have something I'd like to give you, and I can't wait anymore."
Lillet watched curiously as Amoretta went to their tree where a small pile of gifts was placed neatly underneath the decorations. She retrieved something and promptly returned to Lillet's side, smiling shyly as she presented the taller woman with a long, rectangular box wrapped in paper a deep shade of violet that matched the color of her eyes and was topped with a golden satin bow.
"I truly hope you'll like it, Lillet."
"I'm sure I will, little love," Lillet said softly, pulling the other girl close and kissing her warmly.
Amoretta pulled away only minutes later when they were truly in need of air, completely breathless and with a soft pink dusting her cheeks. Her eyes were slightly hazy and unfocused, and the small smile on her lips made Lillet's heart miss a beat.
She then turned back to the gift and undid the bow delicately, putting it aside so as to be able to tear at the wrapping paper. She was curious as to what the gift could be even if she knew that she'd love it regardless of what it was since it was an expression of Amoretta's love.
She was met with a larger-than-average book, bound in black leather trimmed with gold. In the center there was an inscription in neat copperplate that reminded Lillet of her lover's own handwriting, For my dearest Lillet. On the back, the inscription continued, May this gift bring a smile to you for the rest of our days. Intrigued, she opened the book and peered inside.
What she found underneath made her eyes water, even as a smile of pure joy lit up her face in an expression so bright that it seemed as if she had acquired an inner luminescence.
On the page, in black and white, the two of them were drawn sitting on a bench in a secluded, triangular courtyard of the Palace. They were underneath a stately maple tree that provided them with cool shadows from what looked to be a warm summer's day. The leaves were sketched in such a way that she could almost hear them rustling softly as they were swayed by the wind, and the expressions the two of them wore were of pure and unadulterated bliss. They sat close together, with Amoretta's head resting on Lillet's shoulder, her nose nuzzling the crook of Lillet's neck, while the latter's forehead rested gently against her lover's temple. They were holding hands, and the scene reminded Lillet of the many times the two of them had been in those precise positions, in that exact courtyard, while they had been at the Royal House of Magic.
Turning the page, she found another drawing. This one was of the two of them dancing in what she could only assume was a Society ball. Amoretta was leading, of course, and Lillet followed willingly and happily. Again, their faces depicted only pure happiness, and the surroundings had been expertly made to look slightly blurred, giving the impression that they did not matter to the couple. That was certainly the case, for when the two of them were in each other's arms, twirling and turning on the dancing floor, they focused solely on each other without minding much what was around them, paying only enough attention to not crash into another pair. The dress Amoretta wore in the drawing was one that Lillet recalled telling her lover she liked especially because it brought out her eyes more. She distinctly remembered the happy-yet-shy smile the homunculus had given her at the compliment, and she felt her heart melt.
As she went through the pages she found more of such drawings depicting scenes from their past. She saw them walking through the palace gardens holding hands; she saw them at the Royal House of Magic's Harvestide party, where Maria Kolsch had clearly picked up more than just Necromantic knowledge from Artos Benedictine and had happily contributed by bringing root punch; she grinned at a picture of them in the middle of winter, making snow angels side by side; she laughed at one in which they were covered in soot and helping clean up a mishap that a group of apprentices had managed to unleash just as they'd been walking into one of the laboratories. Page after page, more and more scenes revealed themselves to her as she drank in the amazing level of detail in all of them. Sometimes they were of mundane things, and sometimes they marked special times for the two of them. Some of the illustrations showed them alone and some depicted them with friends, but all of them had the distinction of featuring Lillet in some shape or form, even when Amoretta herself was sometimes absent. She went through all of them, savoring the memories they called up even as tears started to fall from her eyes, her heart feeling so full with love that she feared it would explode.
She was surprised when she reached the last page of what she now knew was a sketchbook and found the only watercolor among the pencil drawings. She was even more surprised to find that it was of herself sleeping in what seemed to be the early morning, as the sun's rays were beginning to creep into the room and settled on her face. Her features looked very soft in the drawing, giving her an aura of placidity that she felt was seldom present when she was awake. Gently, she traced it with her fingers, noting how the delicate strokes and the expert use of colors joined together to form an image that she was not entirely sure was reflected in the looking-glass.
"Is this really how you see me?" she whispered in awe as her shimmering eyes met Amoretta's soft red ones.
"Yes, Lillet," she leaned in to give the magician a kiss once more before resting their foreheads together, that sweet smile Lillet adored curving her lips. "That is how I see you."
The artwork might not be exactly what the looking-glass reflected back at her when Lillet looked in, but since it was what the eyes of her lover saw, she'd happily accept take it over her own perception.
Lillet could barely find her voice to ask, "I love it, Amoretta, but where did you get the idea to do this?"
The ash-blonde lifted a hand to place it against Lillet's cheek, delighted when the witch leaned into her touch, "I can remember every single one of these moments easily, dearest. They're as fresh in my mind as if we had lived them yesterday."
She caressed her lover's face tenderly, her eyes holding Lillet's gaze with a look of such utter and complete love that the young magician's tears intensified, her heart squeezing almost-painfully in her chest. "Now you will always have them with you, too."
"Thank you so much, little love," Lillet whispered, her voice full of emotion as she put the sketchbook aside and shifted slightly so as to take Amoretta into a firm hug. "I'll treasure it always."
Amoretta's smile widened and she melted into the hug, feeling her soul warm with the strength of Lillet's love, literally feeling the outpour of emotion the honey-blonde was going through at the moment. "I know I'm a bit early, but I didn't want to wait. Merry Christmas, Lillet."