During dinner one night, a few days after the first snow fall of the season, Matilda was tucking into her meal, when Jean cleared her throat.
"Tomorrow I'm planning on helping the children set up the Christmas decorations. Does anyone else want to help?"
Rogue and Matilda looked at each other, smiling, "We're in" they told Jean in unison. Logan laughed at their antics.
"Are you volunteering Logan?" Rogue asked, and Matilda clapped a hand over her mouth when she saw the look of panic cross over his face.
"No, I'm busy" he said, but too late.
"Actually, we need someone big and strong, Logan" Jean grinned, catching onto Rogue's game. Scott's head snapped towards her though, when he heard her comment. Logan rolled his eyes, realising that Rogue had got him. She was going to pay for this.
"Fine, I'll help."
"I'll help too" Scott added, not liking the idea of Logan being around Jean without him being there, even though Jean had chosen him of Logan.
"Excellent." Jean rubbed her hands together, "we'll start nice and early"
Both of the men rolled their eyes, both having already had plans for the next day, but Matilda and Rogue giggled enthusiastically.
"So, what sort of decorations does the manor have?" Matilda asked as they climbed the stairs after dinner.
"A big Christmas tree, with lights and decorations, tinsel, a wreath for the front door, all the kids decorate their dorm doors, and they'll do all the adults bedroom doors as well. We hang stockings as well."
"What, all of us? I know there aren't that many kids at the moment, about 20, aren't there, but then there's the professor, Jean, Scott, Storm, Logan, John, Bobby, you and me. Where do they go?"
"Along the walls in the lounge room. It's so cute, because everyone hangs their own, so they're all at different heights. Logan's is always the highest, because he's the tallest."
"And he wants to establish himself as the alpha male over Scott?"
"Yeah, that too" Rogue laughed as Matilda opened her bedroom door. Walking in, they sat on the floor, leaning up against the bed.
"You can get your stocking later tomorrow when Jean goes to get the new decorations. A couple of the kids are getting one as well, because it's their first Christmas here. The professor has a friend who comes after we do the decorating and stitches our name into them. Her mutation is that she can sew things really quickly. The kids call her Mrs. Claus"
"Oh, that's cute"
"Yeah, it is. Bobby likes this time of year as well. He puts icicles on the banisters of the stairs. It looks really good, though sometimes Pyro follows him when he's doing at and tries to melt them"
Matilda laughed, "Nice, so, what do you usually do on 'decoration day'?"
"I usually help Jean with the tree, I do the lower half of the tree, with the kids, and she does the top bit, and she levitates the decorations up there."
"Ah, and what does Logan usually help out with.
"He'll help Scott bring the tree inside, and get all the decorations out, and then they'll go and put the outside fairy lights on."
"Is that a good idea? They do seem to, you know, hate each other." Matilda quietly said. Rogue laughed.
"No, Logan hasn't tried to kill Scott in years. I mean, there were a few tense moments when Logan and I first came to the Mansion, but they're actually good friends. They just pretend to hate each other."
"Oh, okay then" Matilda laughed, switching on her TV and leaning against her bed as a Simpsons repeat came on.
XM XM XM XM XM
Matilda got up early the next morning, dressing warmly, before scurrying down the corridor to Rogue's room. Knocking on the door, Matilda waited, jumping slightly when she heard someone walking down the corridor, relaxing when she saw Logan.
"Hey, Logan. Looking forward to today?" she sweetly asked. He growled at her.
"Yes, thanks to you and Marie." He said, sarcasm dripping in his voice. Matilda put her most innocent look upon her face.
"Me? What did I do? It was all Rogue, honest." She said, and Logan laughed.
"Whatever you say, Kid. It doesn't get you out of our revenge."
"Should I be scared, Logan" Matilda said, forcing a confidence she didn't feel into her voice. Logan laughed, seeing right through the disguise.
"I don't know if you should be, but you are." As he set off down the corridor, Rogue opened the door to her room. Matilda turned and faced her friend.
"I have a bad feeling about this," she said, and Rogue nodded, having eavesdropped on their conversation. Closing her room door, they made their way down to the kitchen, and helped Storm cook breakfast. Carrying plates of toast into the dining room, Matilda was surprised to notice that all of he children were already up, eager faced at the prospect of putting up the decorations. She set down the toast on the two tables they were currently using, one for students and one for the adults, and sat in her seat, taking a piece of toast, and a couple of pancakes from the plate that Rogue had carried in. The other teachers began to arrive soon afterwards, slightly less eager faced than the younger occupants of the mansion.
After breakfast had been consumed, and cleaned up after, Jean, Rogue, Matilda, and the other adult members of the staff, with the exception of Logan and Scott, who had left halfway through breakfast to go and pick the tree, led the children to the living room, where Scott and Logan where putting the tree into place. The kids squealed in delight, causing Logan, and Matilda to a lesser extent, to wince due to their more sensitive hearing. Satisfied as to the tree's placement, Scott and Logan, followed by Bobby and John, went upstairs to collect the many large boxes of Christmas decorations.
Matilda looked up at the tree, awestruck. It was the biggest Christmas tree she had ever seen, save for the few she saw in shopping centres in Australia, and the one that was put up every year in a town near where she had grown up. She smiled, and felt Storm's hand on her shoulder.
"Feel at home?" Storm asked, and Matilda nodded.
"This is Home" she said. One of the elder girls put on a CD of Christmas carols as Logan and the others returned, loaded up with the heavy boxes. Setting them down carefully, they stepped back, letting Jean and Rogue open the boxes, shifting them around, so the box of ornaments for the tree was beside the tree, and the decorations for the children's dormitory doors were beside the stairs, the box of stockings was beside the wall they would hang them off, and the box of fairy lights was safely in Scott's arms. Scott and Logan hurried away, and Jean called the children to order.
"Okay, we're going to do this without going silly, okay?"
"Yes Jean" the chorused, and then she began to hand out decorations, with Storm and Rogue's assistance. As the children began to hang the decorations at their respective heights, Jean began to levitate baubles into place at the top of the tree, following a small girl's instruction. Grinning, Matilda joined them.
"Can I help?' she asked, and Jean nodded.
"Of course, Matilda" Jean smiled, guessing what Matilda was up to. Matilda looked at the remaining tree decorations, and picked out a small bell.
"Can you hold onto this for me?" she asked the girl, who nodded. Matilda grinned, and transformed into a sparrow, causing the girl to giggle. Opening her beak, Matilda picked up the bell by the string, and took off, fluttering her wings, until she reached an empty patch on the tree. Perching on one of the braches, she hung the bell, pushing it securely onto the branch to ensure it would not fall, before flying back down the tree to perch on the girls shoulder. A couple of the other children were giggling, and Rouge was laughing.
"Nice one, Hunter" she called out, and Matilda chirped back in reply, before receiving another ornament, and flying back up. In what seemed like no time at all, the tree was done, except for the star that went up the top. As was tradition, the professor removed it from its packaging, and passed it to the youngest child, who passed it to the next youngest, and so on, until it reached the adults. Usually, Rogue got it from the eldest student, and passed it to John, who passed it to bobby, who passed it to storm, who passed it to Jean who levitated it to the top of the tree. Instead, when Jean got it, she passed it to Matilda, who had changed into the form of the dove, whom flew it up the tree, perched upon the uppermost branches, and carefully set the star upon the top, checking it was straight, before flying back down, and returning to her usual form. The students cheered, and picked up the decorations for their dormitory doors. Grinning, Rogue grabbed Matilda's hand, and pulled her over to a box that contained the staff bedroom door decorations. They both loaded, up, and joined the student's hurrying up the stairs. They ran to the staff wing, passing Bobby and John, who were both already decorating their doors.
Bobby had a pale blue piece of Tinsel, that he had bordering his door, while John was using red and gold tinsel to create the illusion that the bottom of his door was on fire.
"Men are so unimaginative" she said to Rogue as they reached their respective doors. The spread out the decorations they'd got, and began to use sticky tape and glu tack (see A.N.) to attach the decoration's to the door. Down the corridor, Jean was decorating the door of the room she and Scott shared, and Storm was decorating her door. Grinning, Matilda flicked a decoration at rogue.
"We should decorate Logan's door for him, since he's busy doing the lights."
Rogue grinned, "It would be the nice thing to do, for him I mean."
"Exactly, that's what I thought." The pair had identical, mischievous, grins on their faces, and as they went back to decorating their doors, there was a playful glint in Matilda's eye that had not been there for many years.
A.N. Since it is Christmas time, I thought I'd do some festive chapters, so here they are. There should be another one up before Christmas, but if not, Merry Christmas (or happy holidays if you don't celebrate Christmas), and best wishes for the New Year.
You know what would be a good Christmas present for little old R.W.
Yep, REVIEWS look good under any tree.
P.S. If you were wondering what Glu tack was, it's a sticky substance, similar to chewing gum in consistency, that is used to stick things up. It is sold in Australia, but I don't know how much of an international market it has, so just a little note just in case you were wondering what on earth I was going on about.