Seven Simple Words
-Kratoscentic piece- spoilers aplenty
It was snowing, it always seemed to snow here. Kratos sighed, his breath made the dark part and a flash of white marred the inky starless night. It stormed above Falnoir, or rather threatened to storm. The skies were thick with clouds, the air was heavy with bitter cold, and while he could no long feel that cold he could taste it, smell it, so in some ways he was not totally dead to the world. He was working on it though.
It's a miracle that I can leave such a mark on this world... He marveled, letting another breath out to see the pale cloud that hinted at the heat still trapped within him. Dead to feeling heat, it surprised him that after so many years of being trapped in this mockery of humanity that he could still breath and could still produce enough heat to set small clouds in the air. His lips quirked slightly at that thought, he had been altered millennia ago, twisted into something that was human and not human. Oh he looked like a normal man when he willed it, but his "natural" form was anything but normal now.
Gold, it pooled from the windows and spilled like misplaced sunlight from wide eyes. Candle light, fire light, warmth, humanity, he caught snippets of conversation, laughter as he walked down the ice slicked roads. Though doors and windows were closed and locks slammed shut their words slipped out and brushed his keen ears. Humanity celebrated this day, a holy day by their Goddess' reckon, another bitter smile touched his lips at that thought. So dictated by false Angels that this day was holy, so now four millennia after that declaration it was a custom so ingrained two whole worlds celebrated it. He was alone this "holy" night, while they sang praises to a Goddess who was as real as a mirage he wandered the dark snow choked streets with little purpose.
Once long ago he would not have been allowed to wander, a young woman would have grabbed his arm and dragged him to the fire to warm up, perhaps they would have shared hot coco or a cup of coffee and perhaps they would have chatted about the future or watched their child play...
But that was long ago, that young woman was almost twenty years dead and their child... Well the boy was no longer his. After his actions he had no right to lay claim to his son, no right to inflict the pain of his true role to the young swordsman, and so he pulled away and wandered. Perhaps he was wandering from his guilt, a half hearted flight. If so he was running in the wrong direction, if it was his plan to flee his responsibilities and pain he should have gone in the other direction. He passed another inn, paused for a moment as the voices and winced as he recognized the human and half elven babble within. He cringed away from the golden light that spilled from the windows, to lessen the chance that a pair of wandering eyes from one of the people in the common room might fall upon him. They would not welcome him, not after the Tower, they would be fools to do so.
He crept past the first window, and as he moved to slip past the second, light streamed from it. He cursed, cringed back between the dull grey shadows between the two warm looking expanses of light.
"Ya know, Cruxis being a sham and all should we be singin' carols?"
"Do you want to tell Colette, Sheena, Lloyd, Persea, and my Sis "no"?" Genis snapped.
"Well there's only one day in the year to hang mistletoe up and woo all my hunnies with my charms."
"I don't get you sometimes, you are the most illogical, ina-..."
A door slammed shut.
In the shadows, leaning against the window frame he pressed his head against the thin band of wood that separated glass from stone. He was trapped between the two beams of light, unable to check to see what room they were in for if he was wrong someone would see him, he had no doubt of that.. He stood in the shadows -frozen with indecision- and soon to be frozen in place by ice if he remained over long.
He stiffened, hearing one of the inn's doors open, laughter as golden as the candle light on this dark night reached his too keen ears. Song, holy song from an angelic throat, Collete was singing something in the holy tongue, a little ditty about snowflakes, despite his inelegant position Kratos smiled. It was good to hear her sing, to know she was alive, it offered hope for the future and was a kind of defiance against Yggdrasil.
"Celi celi-sahvd, celi celi-sahv'jed jasun ene m'erah lusask denir..."
"Little snow shard of snow, little snow flake, fall down on my lucky love..." Kratos murmured the common translation under his breath.
The song ended with a evil giggle and a very unmusical squawk.
"Sheena, why'd you ice up a card and put it down my back!" Lloyd howled.
"Just doing Colette a little favor." The ex-assassin laughed.
"Sheena!" Colette now was giggling. "That wasn't very nice!"
"I swear you two... do I have to tie mistletoe to that silly lock that hangs over your eyes and shove Colette at you Lloyd?"
"Why'd you wanna do that?"
"Ung you are hopeless!"
A door opened and closed and Sheena's somewhat shrill voice called out to the other room that Lloyd was the most hopeless un-romantic person in both worlds combined.
"I told you that already my voluptuous hunny... he's thicker then a door nob when it comes to romance... By the way you did know you were standing under mistletoe right hunny?"
"N.. I am not!"
"Oh yes you are, and you know what that means.." Zelos' voice became laced with evil intent.
"Get away from me you cad!"
"Oh come on it's Christmas and all that Sheena..."
"You planned this!" Sheena squeaked.
"You betcha!" Zelos laughed. "Come on hunny, just this once it's Winter's End after all..."
At Sheena's defiant cry of "no" Zelos unleashed a barrage of pathetic whining and begging and eventually Sheena folded. The Chosen of Tethe'alla whooped for joy and all their voices rose in warm laughter.
"There's a good hunny!" Zelos cheered, and by the sounds of it enfolded Sheena in his arms and planted a hard kiss on her lips. "I may now die a happy man now that I kissed the ultimate hunny."
"I bet you say that every time you kiss a girl." Sheena grumbled.
Zelos laughed and the others laughed with him.
In the shadows Kratos did not so much as crack a smile, he stood and wondered, and the door closed cutting off the exchange so that he could not hear whatever Zelos said in reply..
"Everyone sounds happy Lloyd." Colette sighed, it was a happy little sigh and the noise made Kratos' lips quirk slightly. Strange as sighs normally were not happy things yet somehow Colette found a way to inject her cheer into the noise. "Let's go back to the party!"
"I'll be by in a minute, I need to give Noishe his present."
"Alright..." Colette giggled. "I'll tell everyone you're at the stables then."
"I'll be by in a minute, so no opening presents without me!" Lloyd laughed as Colette promised, or rather said she'd try to make sure that didn't happen.
"Hey Noishy." Lloyd smiled, he pulled open the door to the stable and Noishe padded out and shook the winter's snow from his spring green fur. "Sorry, I'd sneak you in but the inn-keep... Well he's allergic to dogs."
"Whine..." Noishe bobbed his head to indicate he understood and wasn't too put out by the arrangements.
"Here..." Lloyd smiled, put the bowlful of milk and plateful of cookies in the pen. "When you're done pigging out..." Noishe lifted his head and whined, there was a "I do not pig out!" note to the noise and Lloyd chuckled. "Yeah, whatever Noishy, I know you and how chocolate chip cookies like to 'disappear' around you..."
Noishe lolled his tongue out and wiggled his ears, somehow with that gesture his dog admitted guilt without looking guilty.
"If you could drop this off with... umm you know who I'd appreciate it." Lloyd pulled a small package wrapped in red papers and put it in Noishe's stall by the treat.
"I made a promise." Lloyd shrugged off Noishe's curious stare. "I always keep 'em, you know that. Anyway I figure if anyone can nose him out you could. Your nose is big enough to do..."
"Grrr!" Rearing up on his hind legs the "dog" draped one of his fore on the horse stall's door and reached out to deliver a light smack to Lloyd's head.
"Hey!" Lloyd rubbed his smarting scalp. "No fair "Raine-ing" me!"
Grinning his canine grin Noishe swished his tail from side to side and winked at his annoyed "owner".
"You keep this up and maybe Santa will put you on his naughty list and you'll get coal this year instead of the brownies like he planed."
Noishe whined, his face becoming an instant mask of apology and he licked Lloyd's hand and groveled pathetically until Lloyd gave in and admitted that he really wasn't going to be giving him a piece of coal...
The door opened and closed, Lloyd had gone inside. Then after a long pause another door opened. The stable pen had swung open. Startled, the Seraph watched at the green furred dog padded across the side of the inn, straight towards him.
A small red box was in his mouth...
"Whine?" Stretching his neck the dog shaped being offered the package, and with hands shaking Kratos hesitantly accepted the offering.
Task done, not one to freeze his tail off for pleasure, Noishe padded off to the nice warm stables with a farewell bark.
Kratos did not notice, did not even see, his eyes were fixed on the ribbon that someone had pinned to the wrapping paper by way of a threading needle. Upon the white fabric read seven simple words.
Merry Winter's End!"