How Not to Throw a Christmas Party

FF3DS is awesome. I just finished playing it the other day, just in time to do a Christmas fic. So, here we go!


Tranquility. Until recently, it had been a rare commodity in the lands threatened by the endless darkness.

Of course, the outlying villages usually had had something in the way of relative peace and quiet, due to them being relatively ignorant about matters such as the cloud of doom and despair hanging over the rest of the world. The biggest problem they faced was dealing with occasional goblin raids.

Still, a disquiet air had touched Ur of late. Rumours of a being who had tried to summon the darkness to engulf the world, to cast it out of the flow of time. In the end though, that man had been defeated, and tranquility had been restored.

Well, nearly restored. Once in a while the powers that be still contrived to shatter the peaceful and idyllic atmosphere of the village. Such as now, for instance.

No, the source of disturbance was not a goblin raid or any natural freak disaster. Nothing as serious as that. The clamour raised came from a particular house near the entrance of the village, in the form of a series of howls, rapidly followed by several swears.

Arc brushed several loose strands of reddish-brown hair from his eyes as he looked up with a sympathetic smile at his best friend. "Hit your thumb again, Luneth?"

Said silver-haired best friend winced unhappily from his position atop the ladder. "Yeah. And I bent another nail." Dropping the now useless piece of metal into a pouch, he pulled a fresh one out and restarted the process of pinning a brightly coloured (and in Luneth's most humble opinion, rather tacky) banner over the doorway of the house.

"Luneth? How're the preparations going?" Topapa's head peeked out from the doorframe. "Don't forget the streamers, lad."

"I won't, father. Don't worry." Luneth leaned over so he could give his adoptive father a reassuring smile, but he misjudged the stability of the ladder he was currently standing on.

With a loud cry, he and the ladder made impact with the ground, causing Arc to sigh and pull out a potion from one of his pockets. "Third time today…" He mumbled to himself.

Traditions are something that most everyone enjoys. Sure, you can have all the fresh and exciting and new that you want, but it's nice to have a sense of familiarity, the enjoyment of anticipating and savouring a treat you know is coming.

One such tradition in the town of Ur is the Christmas Party. Over the years, it had grown from every house throwing their individual celebrations into every household's festivities being part of a larger whole. Every house still threw their own parties, to be sure, but it was a free come-and-go, as the whole town went back and forth among all the available locations.

Of course, elements of competition had found their way into the proceedings as well. An unofficial contest consisting many things, such as who had the best decorations, the best food out, etc, was now part of the Party itself.

The house of Topapa had always prided itself on providing an excellent party experience, and they didn't intend on changing that now. While Luneth retackled the banners with renewed vigour, Arc went through the lists of food Topapa had ordered, ensuring there was nothing out of order.

Several hours later…

"Hey, where'd you going, Luneth?" Arc questioned.

Luneth held up a white envelope. "Over to Kazus. Just thought I'd deliver the invitation to Refia personally."

Arc hid a smile and glanced up at the sun that was beginning to dip behind the mountains. "Are you sure you should set out now? It'll be dark soon."

Luneth chuckled. "As if there's anything in the woods that I couldn't handle. Worst comes to worst, I'll spend the night in Kazus Inn. Don't worry about me, Arc."

Whistling to himself, Luneth strode out of the village.

"Ahhh…" Refia took a deep breath, basking in the exultance of letting the winter air wash over her – an especially refreshing feeling after slaving away in front of the furnace for almost the entire afternoon.

As she stretched her aching back, she caught sight of a shadowy figure off in the distance. In a matter of seconds, that figure had materialized into Luneth, bundled up in a heavy overcoat.

"Hi, Refia!" He shouted as soon as he was within hearing distance. "How are things?"

"Luneth! What are you doing here?" Refia asked with a raised eyebrow. Not that she was entirely unhappy to see him – indeed, his presence was a rather welcome one that brought back memories of their grand journey together.

With a slightly sheepish grin, Luneth reached into his overcoat, pulling out a sealed envelope. "I came to invite you to the Christmas party we're having."

Refia gave him an incredulous look. "And you walked here to deliver this instead of using Mognet… why?"

The sheepish look on Luneth's face intensified. "I dunno." He replied, rubbing the side of his head. "I just thought it would give it a more… uh, personal touch?"

Refia shook her head, chuckling slightly. "Well, I'm happy to accept." She grinned as she tucked the envelope neatly under her arm.

"Great! I really should be heading back-"

"Not at this time of the day you're not." Refia shook her head. "The sun's all but set by now."

"So? I can take care of myself."

"There's no need to take foolish risks!" She snapped. "Like that time you tried to challenge that dragon-"

"You're never going to let that go, are you? Look, it was either that or give up on the treasure it was guarding-"

"I had to use the strongest healing spell I had! Twice! And you were too weak to fight for an hour!"

From within the house, Takka glanced up from his work as he heard the sound of shouting.

"What's Luneth doing here?" He mumbled to himself as he strode towards the door of his house.

Throwing it open, he sighed as he stared at the sight of Luneth and Refia, both ankle-deep in snow, arguing with each other.


"Oi, you two!" He called, causing the two of them to halt and turn to face him. "Dinner's on the table. Luneth, you staying?"

"No, I- Yow!" He yelped as Refia 'discreetly' stomped on his foot. "Fine. Yes, yes, I am." He said as he rubbed his foot.

"Glad to hear it." Refia smirked.

After dinner, Luneth had somehow found himself in the position of spending the night in Refia's house, a proposition that he found rather uncomfortable but didn't dare turn down for fear of inciting Refia's wrath.

Now he was stuck on a scratchy, uncomfortable bed, staring at the ceiling. Plus, Takka was snoring. Loudly.

With a sigh, he rolled over to face the wall, closing his eyes. Why had he come here again?

The simple answer loomed before him: He'd wanted to see Refia.

Okay, then, next question. Why had he wanted to see Refia?

This, however, proved a slightly more difficult nut to crack, considering than whenever they saw each other, they always, always, always ended up arguing. And over the most mundane of things, more often than not.

So why did he like to see her? Well, she was rather nice to look at – not drop-dead gorgeous, but she had a certain girl-next door charm about her. That she usually had a smile on her face was an added plus.

But still, that didn't seem adequate as a reason. Try as he might, the answer still eluded him – working under the assumption that he did not, in fact, actually like arguing with her.

Those pleasant thoughts in mind, Luneth finally succeeded in falling asleep.

"Ah, Luneth! You're back." Topapa gave his adoptive son a warm smile as he saw Luneth step through the town entrance. "How are the folks in Kazus?"

"They're fine, dad." Luneth grinned. "And Refia's coming over for the party, too."

"I invited Ingus and Princess Sara!" Arc walked up, dusting his hands off. "The Moogles've sent the letter."

"I think Desch is coming as well… Along with Salina." Luneth mused.

Topapa chuckled. "You've made so many friends on your journeys I can barely keep up with all of them." Then he cast a meaningful look at the silver-haired lad. "I've left you more or less in charge of the party, so be sure to be make it a good one, lad."

Luneth nodded. "Don't worry, father. Leave it to me."

Several days later…

"Well, everything seems just about ready!" Luneth said brightly to Arc. "We've got all our food, all our decorations, all our drinks-"


"Yeah, I ordered several crates of whiskey and grog from Canaan. It should be arriving any minute now."

"Oh, that." Arc coughed hesitantly. "Uh… Luneth…"


"I, kinda… uh, I… I sorta cancelled that order."

It took a couple of seconds for Luneth's mind to register Arc's last remark. A couple more for him to process some sort of coherent response.

"You WHAT?"

"Well, I kinda thought we wouldn't be acting in the guest's best interests and all… Alcohol isn't very healthy, you know." Arc said as he rubbed his head sheepishly. "If they're thirsty, they can always drink from the healing springs. Right?"

Resisting an urge to throw Arc off the edge of the Floating Continent, he simply picked his best friend up by the collar. "You will head down to Canaan. NOW. You will find the supplier. NOW. And you will reinstate the order I placed. NOW. Do I make myself clear?"

"Can't… breathe…"

"I'll take that as a yes."

Arc had barely left the outskirts of the village (still massaging a rather sore neck) when the first of the revels started, as signaled by a rather large gong rung in the centre of the town.

Luneth stood by the doorway of his house, smiling and nodding towards several of the visitors that had entered. He chose to remain conspicuously silent about the rather glaring lack of alcohol on the premises, certain that it would end up as a black mark on his preparations sooner or later.

As dusk began to fall, he caught sight of Refia strolling into town, glancing about curiously.

As Luneth headed over, they both smiled as they caught sight of each other.

"Hi, Refia."

She nodded and waved back. "Hey, Luneth. Wow, the town really looks different in the dark."

"Sure does." He said, glancing back at the darkened town. "Want me to give you a tour of how everything here works?"

"That'd be great. Thanks."

"Lady Sara? We've almost arrived."

"Hm? Oh, thank you, Ingus." The Princess of Sasune gazed out of the carriage at the blankets of white across the landscape.

"I must say I am rather surprised that you chose to come, Lady Sara." Ingus commented. "I, of course, would enjoy to see Luneth and Arc again, but I'm pretty certain that the ball your father is hosting would more befit you."

"Oh, not really."She giggled slightly. "Don't tell father this, but I find most of the functions he arranges to be rather…. well, boring. Besides, any excuse to spend more time with you without father's supervision." Ingus flushed slightly at this, although it would not have been visible in the semidarkness.

Abruptly the carriage ground to a stop, and the driver's voice rang out. "We're here."

Ingus departed the carriage first, holding his hand out to help steady Sara's descent.

The two of them stood there for several moments in the chilly air, staring at the lighted houses a short walk away from them. Then Ingus nodded to his Lady. "Let us go."

"So, basically, all the individual households throw their own party – decorations and cakes and everything - and the people mingle freely. Then there's this slip that's passed out where people can vote on what they liked about each individual party, and which one they enjoyed the most."

"Sounds interesting." Refia chuckled.

"By the way, what about Takka?"

"Oh, he got invited to a friend's house. They're probably going to spend the whole night getting drunk out of their skulls." She shook her head. "I'll never understand why men like drinking ale and all that sort of thing."

"Oh, uh… yeah. Totally agree with you." Luneth nodded, while silently wondering how to thank Arc later.

"I believe this is Luneth's residence." Ingus said as he glanced around the house. "However, I am slightly puzzled as to why our host is not here…"

"Sorry, I was giving Refia a short tour." Luneth appeared through the doorway, brushing a strand of hair back. "How's everything going? Ah, and hello, princess. It's been a long time. This hut is no castle, but I hope it'll suffice."

Princess Sara nodded. "Everything here feels very… cosy." She said softly.

"Glad to hear it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go make a couple of guests feel welcome…"

"Hey, boy, where's the rum?" A brawny looking man whom Luneth didn't recognize stepped through the doorway as he uttered the question.

"Oh, that? Uh… it'll arrive in just a few minutes. In the meantime, if you're thirsty, you can always take a drink from the springs."

"Huh? What kind of lame- Hey, come back!"

Refia stood in the centre of the plaza, wrapped in her worn cloak and gazing up at the lightly falling snow.

Closing her eyes, she settled down on an old tree stump nearby, soaking in the relative peace and quiet of the plaza, away from the relative noise of the individual parties going on in the houses. She'd always liked the peace and quiet… the tranquility.

Tranquility, as mentioned before, can be a rather rare commodity in the village of Ur.

The peacefulness was suddenly interrupted by the sounds of yells and screams coming from Luneth's house down by the entrance. As she got to her feet and started hurrying towards the house, she was fairly certain she could hear the sound of swordfighting.

Somehow, she knew, she just knew, that Luneth and Ingus were involved.

Refia's intuition should be given some credit, for in this particular case, she was right.

A stunned crowd had gathered around the living room of the cottage, watching, stunned, as Luneth and Ingus circled around trading blows while armed with… kitchen ladles.

As I am rather certain you are now wondering how this series of events had come to pass, allow me to backtrack slightly.

Luneth had been near the dinner table, attempting to transport more foodstuffs from the kitchen area. A close observer might have noted that he appeared to be struggling.

"Need a hand?" Ingus appeared beside Luneth, swiftly scooping up several of the trays and placing them neatly on the table.

"Thanks." Luneth said tiredly. "Hosting a party's more work than I thought, you know."

"Indeed." Ingus paused slightly. "Have you been keeping up with your practice sessions?"

"Practice sessions?"

"Your swordplay, stamina, endurance trainings… remember?" Ingus raised an eyebrow. "I'm guessing you didn't."

"Well… no. You're right. They always seemed kind of unnecessary, after we'd, you know, beat the Cloud of Darkness and all."

"That is foolishness. If you do not return to regular sessions soon, your sword arm will wither even more than it already has."

Luneth's head snapped up and he glared at Ingus. "Was that an insult?"

"No, merely an observation." Ingus shrugged. "You cannot expect to retain your combat prowess if you don't practice regularly."

Luneth chuckled. "Yeah, sure. I could still beat you within twenty strikes."

Ingus snorted. "I'm not going to allow myself to be galled by you, Luneth." He said, turning away.

Approximately half a minute later…

"Ha! You call that swordfighting?" Ingus snapped as he smoothly parried one of Luneth's strikes. "Your strokes are too rigid!"

"You're not – ungh! – doing too well yourself!" Luneth shot back as he leaned back to evade a horizontal swing. "One would think you'd never dueled using kitchen ladles in your life!"

"Guess what?" Ingus panted as he made a series of broad slashing strokes against Luneth. "I haven't."

"Well, good, I guess we're evenly matched, then!" Luneth ducked under another swing from Ingus and lunged forward. The curved scoop of the ladle impacted neatly with Ingus's stomach, sending the older youth staggering.

"I win." Luneth flashed a cheesy grin at Ingus – a grin that rapidly faded as he realized that everyone in the house was completely silent and staring at the two of them.

Several long seconds passed while he mentally debated whether or not to try to explain this away, or simply to make a break for it.

"Stupid Luneth…" Arc mumbled as he neared the town. "Sending me all the way out to Canaan just for some lousy rum…"

Luckily, he had managed to find a Chocobo wandering the area, or else the journey would have taken twice as long.

"Well, we're almost here. Thanks for the ride, my friend."

"Kweh!" The Chocobo rustled it's tailfeathers slightly before turning and running off to… well, wherever it is that Chocobos run off to.

Dragging the caskets, he considered entering by the back door so as not to attract attention, forgoing that plan only when he remembered their house didn't actually have a back door.

Funny, he could hear some sort of commotion in the main room – was there something going-

"Hey, boy." A hand landed on his shoulder. Arc whirled, coming face-to-chest with a man who looked like he desperately needed a shave and a bath. "Izzat rum you've got there?"

"Uh… yes."

"Right. Gimme a drink."

"Uh… no. I still need to open these crates, and besides…" Arc frowned. "You don't look the least bit familiar. Who invited you, anyway?"

The man's grip on his shoulder tightened. "Don't play funny with me, boy. Or I'll punch you into next week!"

Desch whistled to himself as he walked into Ur. He'd never actually been to this town before – in really wasn't all that different from Canaan, maybe a bit smaller. At his side, Salina glanced around at all the lighted houses.

"Which one is our destination?"

Desch scratched his head. "Well, his house is supposedly the one closest to the entrance, so I'd say… that one."

Before he could take another step, however a rather thickset man was sent flying out of their destination house. He rolled and bounced slightly before coming to a stop right in front of Desch.

After ascertaining that the man was, indeed, still alive, he straightened back up and nodded to the nonplussed Salina. "Definitely the correct place. Shall we?"

Luneth, was, fortunately, spared the embarrassment of having to explain his rather unsightly behaviour to the crowd.

Luneth, would, unfortunately, suffer the embarrassment of having to explain his rather unsightly behaviour to Refia.

A rather incensed Refia, if one cares to know.

He rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "Look, it wasn't anything. It was just-"

"Just you. And Ingus. Being men." She snapped. "Do you realize how ridiculous the two of you looked? And don't bother answering."

"I-" Knowing it was futile, Luneth hung his head. "I'm sorry." He mumbled.

"Nice to see you admitting you're wrong for a change." Her temper apparently hadn't cooled down any. Fleetingly, he wondered if he would not be better off in Ingus's position – the young knight had been dragged off by the ear by Princess Sara. Then he decided against it – at least he was slightly more versed in dealing with Refia's character.

"Are you even listening to me?" Refia's voice cut into his thoughts. Good question, and considering that he hadn't been listening to her, he decided an honest answer really wasn't in the cards.

"Of course I have!" Luneth blurted out, sounding annoyed. "And anyway, why are you nagging me? You're not my wife or something!"

Of course, he hadn't really been thinking about what he was saying, but even then, looking his words over, he really had no idea why Refia had acted the way she did.

She pulled up as if she'd been slapped, her eyes narrowing. There was a short silence in the immediate vicinity as the two glared at each other, and then Refia spun on her heel, storming out of the door.

Luneth barely managed to rein in a sigh. This Christmas party was off to a great start…

"Luneth? I got your beer and stuff."

"Ah, Arc." The Light Warrior managed a tired smile. "You did? Great, thanks. Um, there're some mugs in the back, could you go fill them?"

"Well, actually…"

There was a long pause. Then Luneth took a deep breath to steady himself. "Tell me what you did. Right now."

"Well, everyone was already drinking from the Healing Springs anyway, so I just dumped all the ale into there. It's not that bad, right, Luneth? Right?"

It took all of Luneth's considerable willpower not to break down and cry.

Ingus was disconsolate.

The primary factor contributing to this current state of disconsolation was Princess Sara.

More precisely, it was the fact that Princess Sara was now unhappy with him. The reason for that could be easily surmised.

He sat on the rooftop of Luneth's house, chin resting on his hands as he wondered how to get back into his Lady's good graces.

One eyebrow perked up as he watched Luneth step out of the house, looking as if he were about to be physically ill.

Ingus spent a few silent seconds debating with himself, then started to stand up so he could get off the roof and apologize to Luneth. "Even if it is his fault that the both of us got into this mess…"

However, Ingus had overlooked the fact that sitting on a castle rampart is generally a more viable activity than sitting on the roof of a cottage, what with one being made of stone and the other being made of sticks and straw. The roof had thus far borne his weight, but his shifting around finally caused the increasingly strained roof to give way.

"Oh, bugger."

A the 'whumpf!' sound, Luneth whirled around to catch sight of a faint blur disappear through his roof.

Ingus supposed the fall would have been a lot more painful had he not landed in one of the Healing Springs. As it was, the sum result of his fall was getting his clothes soaked, and shocking a fair number of partygoers.

He stood up, trying to reclaim as much lost dignity as was possible, and headed for the doorway.

"Oh, Desch!" Arc grinned. "Did you just arrive? I didn't see you in Canaan."

Desch was about to ask why Arc would've been in Canaan on the day of the Christmas Party when he thought the better of it and instead nodded in response. "Yep. Travelling here wasn't too eventful. Though Salina screamed and hid behind me everytime we met a monster."

The woman in question blushed slightly at that and turned away. Desch followed after her. "Come on, you know I was kidding…" Within seconds, the two of them had vanished back into the crowd.

Arc shrugged and turned away. He had to help Luneth with the food preparation…

Say, where was Luneth, anyway?

Ingus had managed to find Princess Sara in another of the huts. As he went up to her and tapped her on the shoulder, he mentally rehearsed his apology towards her.

She turned towards him, a quizzical look on her face. "Yes?"

"Milady Sara, I would like to apologize for my earlier behaviour."

"Oh, Ingus." She smiled. "It's not me you should be- what's that smell?"

He frowned. "Milady?"

"It smells like… rum. Have you been drinking?"

"What? No! You know I detest alcohol!"

"And yet the smell is quite clearly coming from you." She gave him a puzzled look. "See you later, Ingus." She vanished back into the crowd.

Stunned, Luneth raised his still damp sleeve to his nose. Yes, he did smell of alcohol. What on earth-

Then he remembered. His still damp sleeve.

Turning, he made a beeline for Luneth's house.

Arc was becoming more and more frustrated, both by the seemingly unending task of preparing food, and the fact that Luneth was nowhere in the vicinity. What did it take to get some help around these parts?

Grabbing a bottle of spices, he dumped it into the stew bowl and began mixing, all the while cursing the voracious appetites of his guests under his breath.

Had he not been so harried, he perhaps might have taken the time to note what was in the bottle of spices he had just procured.

At the east end of town, Luneth had a revelation.

"I should be helping Arc with the food!" He cried as he dashed back towards the house.

Okay, so it wasn't much of a revelation, but it's a revelation, nonetheless.

"Arc! Sorry I forgot about all this – what do I need to do?"

"Well, for starters," Arc said as he turned back to chopping the lettuce. "Bring these out – the guests have already eaten their way through half of what we've brought. Oh, and careful with the stew."

"Got it." Balancing two bowls, seven plates, and two pitchers precariously, Luneth staggered out towards the main room.

After setting down the foodstuffs and clearing away empty plates, Luneth took a momentary break to talk with one of the guests at the dinner table.

"So, how's the food, sir?"

"Rather good, I must say. Except for that stew… What's it made out of?"

"Oh, that? It's just ordinary rabbit stew."

"Well, hm… it doesn't taste like any rabbit stew I've tried. Perhaps I'm mistaken."

Then he promptly threw up all over Luneth.

Ingus leaned over the Healing Springs, taking a long deep breath. Yes. Yes, it was definitely alcoholic.

What on earth had they done to the sacred pool?

Straightening up, Ingus reached up to scratch his head and wonder what had passed through Luneth's mind that he would do so something like this.

Unfortunately, in doing so, he accidentally dislodged a torch from the nearby wall. Said torch proceeded to fall into the pool with a rather loud splash.

"Oh, bugger."

"Arc!" Luneth appeared in the doorway of the kitchen. "What did you put into that stew?"

"Luneth?" Arc said. Then he frowned. "Why are you covered in vomit?"

"That's not as important as why the guests are throwing up in first place. What did you put into the stew?"

"Just the usual… gheer milk, antin sauce, doslca spices…"

"We don't have any dolsca spices."

"Sure we do! It's in this bottle… right… crap."

"Crap is right." Luneth said sourly. "Almast spices with rabbit. Brilliant combination."

"I'm sorry? But it wouldn't have happened if you'd been here to help me!"

Luneth sighed, deflated. "I'm going to go clean this off. Meanwhile, you can go ensure no one else comes within ten feet of that stew."

As he headed out towards the main room of the house, he heard screaming. And he also noticed several orange tongues flame coming from where he was pretty certain no fireplace had been built.

"I hate everything." He mumbled to himself as he broke into a run.

The fire had been doused (by way of several well-aimed Blizzard spells by both Luneth and Ingus), and while no major damage had been done, some of the walls were still scorched black. Luneth only wondered what Topapa was going to say when he saw what had transpired.

He had changed into a new set of clothes, and he was now sitting in a corner, arms folded, and doing or saying anything.

His Christmas party had, so far, been an outright disaster. All it took was one more. One more tiny infinitesimal screwup, and it would be enough to send him over the edge, turning him into a raving maniac.

Just. One.

Arc appeared in the kitchen doorway. "Luneth? We're out of food, and the guests are still hungry. I don't think you ordered enough."

Were it not for the sound of grinding teeth, you would have thought Luneth had turned to stone.

Two hours later…

Refia noticed a dark shape outside town. The darkness made it difficult to identify correctly, but she was rather certain it was a human, sitting down, back against a tree.

Walking over, she realized it was Luneth, staring despondently into the distance.

"Hey." She said softly, unsure of what it was that had him so unhappy.

"Nh." He grunted noncommittally.

"What's wrong?"


Refia sighed. "Look, if you're still sore about the dressing down I gave you over the fight-"

Luneth let off what had to be the loudest and longest sigh Refia had ever heard in his life. "Not that, Refia. It's the Christmas party. It's my first year in charge of the thing, and… ugh, it was a disaster."

"Surely it couldn't have been that bad?"

"Oh, well, let's see. First, the rum arrives late, pissing off most of the guests. Second, I ended up in some stupid swordfight with Ingus – no, wait, actually, it was more like a ladlefight – and end up scaring half the guests. Third, said ladlefight upset both you and Lady Sara. Fourth, Arc punched out some guy over the rum and scared away a few more guests. Then fifth, in an act of brilliance, he poured the rum into the Healing Springs. Sixth, Ingus broke my roof. Don't ask me how, but he managed it. Seventh, Arc ended up dumping Almast spices into the rabbit stew and giving half the guests in my home indigestion. Eight, Ingus managed to set the alcohol-laced Healing Spring on fire. Ninth, we've run out of food. I'd say it was that bad, but that's just my personal opinion."

Refia was slightly taken aback by the seemingly endless torrent of words pouring from Luneth's mouth. Finally, she managed to get a word in edgewise. "So… you're sitting out here because you're depressed."

"You're such an astute judge of character, you know that?" Luneth said, rolling his eyes.

A second later, he felt strong arms pulling him up. "Come on up, Luneth. Even if the party really was as bad as you say, you should be a man and face it."

"I should have expected that you would end up preventing me from sinking into a nice warm bog a self-pity." Luneth mumbled.

"I have serious doubts about that bog of yours being 'warm' by any definition of the word, considering the weather." Refia chuckled. "C'mon, let's head back to the house."

As Luneth stepped through the doorway of the house, he could see it was nearly empty, aside from Arc, Ingus, Desch, and Princess Sara. Salina's voice floated through the back, indicating she still had presence here as well.

"There you are!" Arc grinned. "Come on and help us with the cleanup!"

"I guess no one else wanted to stay, huh?" Luneth chuckled sadly as he picked up a broom and began sweeping away the debris strewn about.

"Yeah, they left pretty quick after they found out the food was gone." Arc paused. "Luneth… I know you're disappointed about how everything turned out, but… there's always next year, right?"

"Yeah…" Luneth managed a tiny smile. "I guess… if anyone's still willing come."

"I am!" Desch nodded. "Especially if you make more of the rabbit stew! It was fabulous!"

"… Sure." Luneth shrugged. "Sure."

Cleanup proceeded smoothly from that point on, until finally Luneth stood back, wiping his brow. "I think we got everything."

"Not quite." Refia said as she sidled up beside him. "Look up."

Luneth did so, and was rewarded by the sight of a tiny sprig of leaves and crimson berries.

"Misletoe…" He said softly.

"You hung it up there, and it looks like it hasn't fallen off during the commotion. A little success, huh?"

"Huh." Luneth smiled.

Then he heard Refia clearing her throat. Then she did it again. When she did it a third time he glanced over at her. "Is anything wrong?"

"What, no… no, it's just…" He noticed idly that she seemed rather flushed too. "I, uh…" That was odd. Refia was stammering. Refia never stammered.

Then realization dawned. Eyes wide, he glanced up at the mistletoe before glancing back down at her. "Refia… you…"

She glanced downwards. "I probably should have kept my big mouth shut, huh."

"Nah." Luneth shook his head, smiling. "If you'd kept your big mouth shut I wouldn't have known. Or at least it would've taken me a lot longer to figure it out."

"What?" Refia now looked him in the eye. "Are you saying you… you…"

"I don't know if I'm sure what it is myself," Luneth sighed. "If it's really love in the first place or just... something else entirely." Then he chuckled softly. "Still, we are under the mistletoe…"

He leaned in closer and kissed Refia.

The surge of pleasant sensation he had been half-expecting. Refia's immediate reciprocal he had not.

After several long seconds, they both pulled away. "Wow." Refia said.

Abandoning words, he simply drew her into a tight embrace.

After a few more seconds, Refia chuckled. "Well, it looks as if something good came out of your party, after all."

Luneth grinned in return. "Well, one out of ten isn't bad."

Thanks for reading. Please review.

Here's to hoping for more FF3DS fics!