Hello everyone~! (^o^)v

This is a fanfic based on a one-shot called "Noel la Neige" and a four chapter manga called "Holy Glory" written by an author called Sichol=Bell. I really recommend reading them~ :D

Disclaimer: I do not and will never own any of the characters or plotline of either Holy Glory or Noel la Neige: they are the property of Sichol=Bell sensei. There are, however, quite a few OCs in this story, mainly because there's only four or five characters in the original manga.

Warnings: It's probably better if you have read the manga and one-shot, although if you haven't you'll still probably understand the plotline anyway. Assuming NLN takes place after HG, this fic takes place three years after the end of HG but before NLN.

Special Thanks: Firstly, a big thank you and virtual flowers go to Nanaga, who beta-ed this story for me and put up with all my endless ramblings on the subject xD; Secondly, thanks to Sichol=Bell sensei for writing such an awesome manga! Finally, a big thank you to all of you for taking the chance and following the link to this page ^^/

Hope you enjoy the story~!

oOoOoOoOoOo

A Holy Glory Fanfiction
Silent Night

You can sense them, right?
Like a faint stench upon the town.

oOoOoOoOoOo

I had hoped that I would never have to come here to fight ever again…

Snowflakes fluttered in the winter breeze, dancing around each other joyfully as the wind caught them and tossed them still higher. Footsteps crunched through snow to the tiled roof beneath, their owner's sober expression a sharp contrast to the bustling gaiety of the city below. People still cheerfully wandered the many streets, not at all put off by the thin veil of white falling gently as they peered into shop windows or chatted with each other, their breath misting in white puffs. No-one looked up, and so not a soul noticed the watchers perched on the roof of a nearby house.

Dusk would fall soon; already the delicious smells of a roast dinner wafted up from a nearby chimney. One of the watchers – an odd-looking fellow who was slightly taller than his companion – eyed the chimney sideways, but the other did not move at all, frowning out at the city.

Nightfall was coming. The dangerous time.

Silver eyes surveyed the people milling below. The snow covered streets and houses in various degrees of shabbiness still matched his memory from a distant past.

I had hoped they would never come here again.

oOoOoOoOoOo

Chapter 1: The Night Before Christmas

A familiar start to a brand new story
that's
just about to begin.

oOoOoOoOoOo

"Stop! Thief!"

The cry rang out behind the slight figure as it fled over the cobblestones dabbed with patches of snow, arms wrapped tightly around a bundle. The thief smirked as he darted away, slipping between a girl with black hair and a grey-coated man. His victim, a food-peddler, yelled out after him. Angry curses were punctuated by a fist shook at the youth's back, but the peddler couldn't leave his wares unattended to chase after one boy. The man subsided into fierce mutterings about 'street urchins' and 'should be punished' as people passing by looked on with sympathetic gazes.

Meanwhile, the thief slowed his pace considerably once out of sight until he strolled along with the crowd, before slipping unnoticed into a side alley. He considered his prize: two paper bags filled with hot chestnuts. Tucking one inside his coat, where it made a warm spot against the winter wind, the boy held onto the other to warm long-fingered hands though fingerless woollen gloves.

Dressed in a worn black coat and grey trousers that had been darned in several places, Chanson merely looked poor, unlike the rag-tag group of children dubbed 'street urchins' that ran wild through the streets of London, many of which, however, he knew. A black cap pulled low over soot-grey hair hid dark-blue eyes while his head was down; they peered out over the wide, striped scarf that kept his neck and face warm, the ends dangling down his back. Deftly peeling a chestnut, Chanson munched on it while he walked, savouring the taste.

Heh. A slow idiot like that couldn't 'ope to catch me! He'd 'ave done better callin' the guards. Not that they're any better. The boy snorted derisively with all the experience of his fourteen years. Idiots, the lot of 'em.

Chanson turned the corner and began ambling down the street, trying to avoid the deepest pockets of snow. A few strains of song carried on the biting breeze caught his ears and he changed direction to head towards the source of the singing.

"Once in Royal David's city
Stood a lonely cattle shed …"

He kept listening as he made his way through the snow, almost falling into a snow drift along the way. They ain't so bad, I guess – Grey brows snapped together in a frown, hackles rising: someone was watching him. Chanson crouched down, pretending to re-lace his boot while he glanced around under the cover of his hat.

Nothing.

Oh, there were people around, but none of them were paying attention to him specifically. The boy frowned again. He could still feel eyes on him as he resumed walking. Two more strides were all Chanson managed to take before walking into something with enough force to knock him to the ground. Ouch …! He shook his head slightly to clear it, hands going to his coat. A sigh of relief came upon finding both of his prizes were safe.

"And what do we have here?" boomed a voice from above him. Chanson stiffened, and then scrambled to his feet, pulling the cap from his head. Police'uns. Time for some play-actin'.

Chanson looked up at the pair of officers, wide-eyed innocence with a touch of nervousness in the small, thin face. He twisted his cap between his hands, feigning anxiety and a thicker street accent. "Sorry, Guv'ners, I didn' mean t' –"

"What do you have there, street brat?" one asked, contempt thick in the man's voice and in his expression. Chanson felt like kicking the man in the knee; hang the consequences! Let's see how he can act all high 'n' mighty hoppin' 'round!

"I'm no street brat!" he snapped back indignantly. "I was jest gettin' me an' me brother an' sister some food, like. We've bin singin' all day wif th' carollers an' we're 'ungry!"

"Carollers, huh?" the younger, red-haired one asked. "I think I remember seeing some just up the road. Wanna sing something for us, boy?"

Chanson's mouth tightened. Not even if you paid me in gold! "An' let me food go cold, guv'ner? Mebbe if yon come wif me, we kin all sing for both o'ya." As if I'd ever sing for the likes of you!

The other policeman smirked. "Maybe. Run along, boy, and make sure you watch where you're going next time."

"Yessir. That I will, sir." Chanson ducked his head and walked off, jamming his hat back on and scowling as he heard the two policemen laughing behind him. Once around the corner with the policemen out of sight, however, his scowl dropped into a smirk. Let's see 'em laugh when they next 'ave to pay for somethin', he snickered to himself, pulling out the two purses that neither policeman had noticed him taking from their belts while he had been speaking. He upended the pouches in his hand and sifted through the coins – mainly copper, with a few bits of silver – before dropping them into his own purse and tossing the cut purses into a nearby snowdrift. That way, if anyone grabs me for them thefts, there ain't nothin' to say I did it.

Whistling softly with a slight spring in his step, Chanson continued on. He could no longer feel that watchful gaze. Must 'ave been the police'uns, most like. A few streets down, he caught sight of the street choir and stopped by a lamppost a few yards away as they finished their song.

"And He leads His children on,
To the place where He is gone
."

The lady that was listening laughed and clapped, thanking them for their song with a copper mark pressed into one of the elder boy's hands. He thanked her as the door closed, before he turned and caught sight of Chanson waiting nearby. A grin lit up his face. "Chanson!"

Chanson raised a hand to wave in reply as the blond boy told the others to stay where they were. They obeyed, crowding together to keep warm as their breath misted in the air in front of them. The boy took the hand of a younger girl and the two of them made their way over to Chanson.

"Chanson! What are you doing here?" he asked the second he got within earshot. The young girl merely looked up at the grey-haired boy.

"Hello to you too, William," Chanson replied with a grin. "And to you, Peel." The young girl, only about six years old, blinked up at him solemnly before smiling, a genuine smile that made the two older boys smile as well. "I got these for you," he continued, handing one of the bags of chestnuts he'd hidden in his coat to William. The blonde took them with thanks, though his sky blue eyes were worried.

"You didn't steal these, did you? If you get caught –"

"That's not a nice thin' t'say, Will, afta all the trouble I went t' get 'em!" Chanson replied, a look of mock hurt on his face. William smiled at the accent; he knew Chanson could speak as properly as anybody else when he wanted to. "'Sides, 'em Guards are so stupid, they don' look past what you put in fron' o' their noses." Chanson sniffed and went on without the accent. "I'd 'ave to be even dumber than them to get caught. They're all idiots. Didn't even notice when I lifted their purses."

William was torn between a despairing look at Chanson's actions and admiration at the other boy's feat. With a grin, Chanson peeled a chestnut and gave it to Peel before eating one himself. "Careful, they're hot," he cautioned the little girl.

William and Peel Davenport looked as alike as only brother and sister could. At ten years old, William was still shorter than Chanson, with short fair hair, pale blue eyes and pale skin with a scattering of freckles across his nose. The brown coat and red turtleneck he always wore were worn but serviceable, as was the brown messenger bag that was slung over a shoulder. His sister was just as fair and pale, her pink dress and brown coat patched with care and her blond hair tied up in pigtails.

Straightening, Chanson caught sight of the other children in the choir watching him wistfully. Or rather, watching the food in his hand wistfully. Most of these children were poor, almost street urchins themselves. They probably 'aven't eaten since breakfast, if they got even that. With a mental 'tch' he handed his bag of chestnuts to the nearest one, a waif-like girl with pale brown hair. "'Ere. A reward for you all for singing so well."

Their eyes lit up, thanking him profusely as the girl handed out the food equally as Chanson had known she would. Kaylin was definitely one of those children who never got more than a slice of bread for breakfast, but she didn't have a selfish or greedy bone in her body. He turned back to face William, who grinned at him.

I'm not kind, Chanson retorted irritably in his mind, knowing what his friend would say. They was staring at me. What was I supposed to do?

"I didn't see you at lessons today." William's voice was slightly scolding.

"That's 'cause I didn't go. I got better things to do than to sit around listenin' to a priest yatter at me." Chanson took off his gloves and shoved his hands in his coat pockets. Without the food to warm them up, his fingers were freezing.

According to law, all children were to be schooled until they were 10, or for the older ones when the law had been put in place, until they could read, write and do basic sums. It wasn't that the grey-haired boy disliked learning, or even that he found it difficult – he didn't go because it didn't interest him, nor did he have any desire to end up anywhere near a church.

Noting the gleam in William's eye that signalled the younger boy was going to scold him some more – William could be very insistent when he wanted to be and he worried about Chanson – the elder boy hurriedly changed the subject. "Should the two of you be out here?"

"Papa said it's okay as long as we come back before nightfall," William replied.

"Peel wants to sing," the younger sister spoke up. Chanson smiled, a tinged of sadness hidden in the corners as he crouched down to Peel's height and ruffled her hair.

"It's good to sing while you can, Peel, 'cause you never know when you'll want to stop," the grey-haired boy told her. Something shifted in the deep blue eyes, a hint of sorrow buried deep as the choir started to sing again, having finished their food.

"Silent night, holy night
All is calm; all is bright…"

"Does Chanson want to sing with us?" Peel's big blue eyes looked up at him innocently. Chanson swallowed, trying to ignore the lump in his throat. The corners of his eyes felt like they were burning.

"No," he replied shortly.

"You should get back by then, too. Since it's Christmas Eve, we should all be together, right? Don't stay out too late working." Chanson got to his feet as William spoke, taking the time to brush snow crystals off his pants.

"Yeah, don't worry. I'll be back." His chest felt tight as the children continued to sing, their voices lifting upon the wind and causing the sorrow within him threaten to overwhelm him. They should all be here today … It's not fair. Why am I the only one …? He straightened. "See ya." He turned and began to walk away briskly, trying to escape the voices behind him. I don't want to listen to that song anymore.

"Wait up, big brother! Where are you going?" William yelled after him.

"To find more work!" Chanson called over his shoulder, continuing to stride away. Soft snowflakes began to flutter down more thickly, white dots against his black coat.

"Remember to be back before the lamplighters come!" he heard William call from behind him. Chanson waved a hand in silent reply – I heard ya, I heard ya – and continued on, a silent black wraith in the falling winter snow.

oOoOoOoOoOo

Chanson kicked at a clump of snow, sending bits flying in all directions and inadvertently letting freezing water trickle into his boot. He cursed angrily and shook his foot to get it out, for all the good it did.

He had long since escaped the reach of that song, but the echoes of it in his mind still plagued him in the silence around him. Chanson hadn't really taken notice of where he was going, but somehow his feet had led him here, to a tree-lined path that people never seemed to come down except for him and his guardian.

Abruptly, he realised he was singing the words to that accursed song under his breath, and laughed at himself. I'm a fool, to ever want to sing again. Chanson clenched his mouth shut and continued walking down the snow-covered cobblestone path where no-one ever –

Chanson paused, his foot raised in mid-step. There, clearly marked in the otherwise untouched snow, were footprints. The boy crouched to examine them. Two people, at least – not him, then – and fresh, else they'd 'ave been filled in with the snow by now. They were heading in the same direction he was, as well. Strangely, the footprints seemed to start from where he was standing, but that was ridiculous. No-one could just appear in the middle of the path. Chanson shook his head. The snow must 'ave hidden the other prints, I guess.

So it was very quietly and carefully that Chanson made the final part of his journey, his eye out for any other person around. It wasn't like he expected trouble; more that he just didn't want to meet anyone else at this moment – it was hard to imagine this place as the site of any kind of violence.

The familiar green of his destination rustled up ahead, and Chanson felt the familiar sense of peace that seemed to hover around the area. There was a … tree that Chanson came to talk to sometimes when he was troubled, though he mocked his guardian for doing the same thing. Sometimes, if he listened to the wind rustling through its leaves, it felt like the tree was talking back. Chanson certainly never mentioned his visits or the peaceful feeling the tree gave him to anyone else. I'd be a laughing stock for sure if I ever did! Talking to a tree!

Still, absurd as it sounded, it had saved his life once; he didn't want anyone else coming to bother it or do it harm.

He was so deep in thought that he almost forgot why he was being cautious. It was only the sound of unfamiliar voices that brought him back to reality and gave him time to duck behind another tree, this one bare of leaves from the winter cold.

"…Been a long year, hasn't it? … worried about …"

"…Remember about Holly, right? Well …"

Despite his sharp hearing, Chanson couldn't hear much of what the quiet voices were saying. They don't sound dangerous, but … Chanson snuck a glance around the edge of his hiding place to get a better look at the strangers and blinked. He had never seen an odder pair of strangers.

'Strange' is right! Deep blue eyes widened in disbelief before they narrowed, examining the newcomers with as much detail as they could at this distance. The shorter one was a young man in his mid-twenties, his short blue hair about the same length as Chanson's own. A long coat, high-necked with a double row of buttons marching down the front, hung almost to the man's boots and was so blindingly white that the man seemed to blend into the snow.

At least, he would if he didn't 'ave those crimson stripes down the sleeves, the thief snorted. I ain't never seen his like 'round town before, so he's either from out of town or a highborn. But a highborn wouldn't come to the Lower City just to talk to a tree, no matter how strange they are. An' no out-towner'd know to come here either.

Chanson hummed softly to himself, chewing on his lip as he thought furiously. A mystery, and Chanson didn't like unsolved mysteries. The answers could normally trip up a thief or get him caught when they finally popped up. Still, the solutions to this particular puzzle were beyond his reasoning at the moment, so he turned his attention to the other man.

At first, Chanson had thought he was a woman from his long silver hair, until he had gotten a better look. The man was taller than his companion, his outfit similar but not the same, not least the fact that it was a deep crimson rather than snow-white. A fluffy scarf wrapped around the man's neck only added to the odd image.

He realised he was humming 'Trouble Was A Stranger Come' and cut off abruptly as one of the foreigners pulled something out of his pocket. The taller red one glanced around at their surroundings, making Chanson duck for cover again behind his forlorn, twig-thin tree. He sat as still as possible, hoping that no-one would come and relaxing when no-one did.

I guess they can't mean any harm, Chanson reflected, tapping his knee gently. Not if they're talking to it as well. The tree's song hadn't changed; if anything, it sounded … happier … than Chanson had ever heard it before.

Tree songs. I'm definitely going crazy. Chanson shook his head and decided to go. He couldn't talk out any problems with those two there, and besides which, his legs were protesting at crouching in a snowdrift. Quietly, he crept back he way he had come until he felt far enough out if their sight to straighten up and keep walking. He started to hum again, the choir song still in his thoughts as he trudged through the snow, hands buried deep in his pockets. There was still time to find a few more gullible victims, even on Christmas Eve.

oOoOoOoOoOo

Noël frowned at the compass in his hand and tapped it. "I think it's broken."

"That is impossible, Noël," his companion replied, sighing. "It cannot break –"

"Then what was that weird reaction just now?" the blue-haired man retorted. "It's only supposed to react to Klaus' Snowflake, right? None of the others are around, and you can't tell me there's another successor out there …" A slim eyebrow was raised questioningly. "Well, Rudolph?"

The one called Rudolph shrugged, looking as confused as Noël felt. "Perhaps it reacted to a cauchemar instead?"

Noël sighed and shoved the defective compass back into his pocket. I'll just have to get Renne to look at it later. "Then you'd have sensed it, Rudolph." He glanced out at the courtyard, veiled by softly falling snow. "You can sense it now, right? Like a faint stench upon the town."

Rudolph frowned, bright green eyes serious for a change. "They are definitely here."

"Won't they ever stop? Even today, when it's Christmas Eve …" Noël trailed off, catching a snowflake in his hand and staring off into the distance with troubled eyes. Towards the source of that stench.

Damn cauchemar.

His companion eyed him for a moment, before saying in a decidedly off-hand tone, "Speaking of Christmas Eve, I am sure that Pierre would –"

"No."

"But, Salt –"

"No! And my name isn't Salt anymore! I don't want to see him. I made a clean break with my past, Rudolph. I'm not going to dredge up old memories, and I'm sure he doesn't want to, either."

"Ah, I see. It has nothing to do with you getting hurt, of course." Rudolph's tone was bland, letting Noël know exactly how the Reindeer felt. Not that it mattered; Rudolph had been bringing up the same point every year they came, and every year Noël dismissed it. "You're not afraid of what might happen if you were to meet your best friend after all this time."

"It's been ten years since then, Rudolph. Why bring up the past? No," he repeated emphatically as Rudolph opened his mouth again. "I'm not going to visit him and that's final."

Rudolph sighed. As stubborn as ever. "As you say, Noël."

Silver eyes glanced back up at the tree they stood beside as its leaves rustled anxiously. "Don't worry, Charles, we aren't fighting, just –"

"– talking in loud voices," finished Rudolph, the corner of his mouth twitching in amusement. Noël ignored him and continued on.

"I'll come to see you again sometime, but Rudolph and I have to take care of a few problems around town. Take care, alright?" He spun on a booted heel and walked off, calling over his shoulder to Rudolph. "Let's go!"

Rudolph looked up at the spreading branches of the tree. "Charles, I worry that your brother grows more distant with every Christmas that passes … Take care." With those parting words, the silver-haired man followed his partner into the veil of snow, both of them disappearing within moments.

oOoOoOoOoOo

The lamplighters were just beginning to ply their trade as Chanson wandered down another road. William's reminder echoed in the back of his mind, but the grey-haired boy did his best to ignore it. Makes no difference whether I'm there or not, anyway. Christmas Eve. Hah! he thought sullenly.

Suddenly, Chanson felt crowded, despite the fact that the number of people on the streets was beginning to dwindle rapidly. He ducked off the main road, nodding at one of the boys lightening the street lanterns who called a season's greeting to him. Shoulders hunched against the cold and his hands still shoved deep into his pockets, Chanson trudged down an abandoned side alley. Trudged, as houses only backed onto this alley and thus no-one could see the point in clearing a path free of snow that no-one would use.

William and Peel would be getting worried. He had promised to be back by dark, after all, and Chanson kept his promises. Usually. Unless they were pointless.

And in this case, it is a pointless promise. Being together on Christmas Eve … who decided that was a good thing? What about people who don't have anyone to be with? If it's a time for family, then I –

His fingers strayed to the locket around his neck, hidden under his scarf. The icy chill of the metal numbed his skin, but he didn't let go. If it's a time for people to be at home –

"Um, 'scuse me, mister?" a piping voice asked from behind him.

Chanson whirled around, his hand automatically clenching around the locket protectively, the other straying towards his hidden belt knife. Sharlene had always frowned on him for carrying that, even when he pointed out why he needed to carry a knife in the first place. Too many people saw a kid as an easy target, to rob or otherwise. I'll show them who's a 'kid'! he growled mentally.

However, it wasn't an adult or even a policeman as Chanson had feared. Trying to explain why he was there would have been extremely difficult, though in hindsight he realised in a corner of his mind that a policeman wouldn't have been that polite. A pipsqueak of a kid a bit younger than William stood there, short blond hair spiking down from under his cap. His clothing, in various shades of dirty brown, was ragged and had tears at the elbows and knees, but wasn't the shabbiest clothing that Chanson had seen.

Huh. One of the well-off street urchins, I guess. Not one that he knew, even by sight, which was odd, though not impossible. Surely I can't know all of 'em!

The grey-haired boy relaxed slightly, hands going back to his pockets. Even so, he watched the boy warily, annoyed that his solitude had been disturbed. "What d'ya want?" he grumbled.

"'T'was w- wonderin'," stammered the small boy, evidently affected by Chanson's glower, "I – if ya'd like t'buy summin t'eat?" He held out a lollipop, his hand shaking slightly. Chanson eyed the sweet with the air of one who had stolen such sweets before; it looked like it had come from one of the fancier shops in the Upper City. The kid's got talent if 'e can steal from there.

"What makes you think I'm going t' buy stolen food?" Chanson replied.

The boy's eyes widened indignantly. "Me, stealin'?"

"Aye, an' you could get yourself in trouble if you sold it to them respectables." Chanson crossed his arms. "I could turn you in, y'know." He wasn't being serious. I wouldn't go near a police'un even if I got paid to do it!

"Naw," the boy shook his head. "Ya name's Chanson, right? You was street like me."

"Heard o' me, huh?" Chanson raised an eyebrow at the younger boy.

"Yeah!" The boy's eyes lit up. "Th'others say ya th' best on the liftin' lay."

"Huh. Maybe." Chanson scratched his chin, feeling faintly pleased. The lavish swirls of the sweet looked invitingly tasty. Maybe Peel'd like it. 'Sides, it's not like I ain't got the money, thanks to them police'uns. "'Ere."

The coin he flipped at the boy was silver; a fortune to a kid like that. It had been a fortune to Chanson until he'd learnt to pickpocket – the 'lifting lay' as it was known amongst thieves. He caught the lollipop as the kid tossed it to him in return, stowing it in his coat pocket.

"Thanks, mister! Merry Christmas, an' all." The kid made the coin disappear quickly into his pocket.

There ain't nothin' merry 'bout it, Chanson thought to himself, mood beginning to sour again. Aloud he replied, "An' t' you." Feeling colder by the second, Chanson turned around to continue his steady trudge up the street.

"Hey, brat." The piping voice had become deeper, cold and sneering. It was so different that Chanson missed a step in surprise and winced as a hand crushed his arm in a tight grip. "Don't ignore me."

"Let go of me!" Chanson yelled, yanking his arm in a futile attempt to free it. How can a pipsqueak like that be so strong? he thought in bewilderment, turning to face the kid and freezing in shock. Blue eyes widened. What the – there's no way –

"You want me to let go of ya, huh?" his captor drawled, raising his chin to peer down at Chanson with cold, piercing orange eyes. The young boy had somehow become a young man in his early twenties, although that was the least strange thing about the newcomer.

His hair was still the same, spiking up in back and down in front, but now it had darkened to a deep orange that stood out even in the descending gloom of evening. Small gold rings marched down the rim of his left ear; a large gold hoop hung from the right. A dark line – scar or tattoo, it was too hard to make out in the dull light – zigzagged from the corner of his left eye to his temple and down the side of his face. A thin mouth smirked at the surprise written across Chanson's face. "Now that I've got your attention, brat … There's a few things I wanna say."

With a hard shove, the man sent Chanson sprawling a few paces back into a courtyard filled with snow. Chanson sat up with a groan, his vision spinning, and tried to scramble backwards as his attacker walked towards him with a slow menace. "The name's Dacquoise, Dacqx for short, not that you'll need to remember it for much longer." Chanson's back hit a wall; there was an alley to both his left and right. Maybe I can escape that way from this crazy guy … who the hell is he? He slid himself up the wall, using it to support unsteady legs as Dacqx came closer, still talking. "You, brat, have something that belongs to me."

"I ain't got nothin' of yours!" Chanson yelled, mind racing. I'd remember if I'd ever even seen him, let alone lift somethin' of his! "Leave me alone!"

"Oh, I don't think so." Dacqx rolled his fingers, a short baton twirling into his hand from nowhere. "You have a power that I want, and you're gonna give it to me even if I have to kill you to get it."

Chanson blinked in confusion. "A power? What the hell do you mean? Stop talking nonsense!" His eyes darted to the side. It's now or never! "Leave me alone!" He pushed away from the wall, dashing towards his one hope of escape.

Dacqx grinned sardonically. Like that's gonna work, ya little whelp. He flicked the rod in his hand casually, his thumb hitting a hidden catch in the side. A black leather cord snaked out to wrap around Chanson's ankle, the triple barb on the tip tearing through cloth to dig into skin.

Chanson screamed in pain and fear as he was jerked off his feet. Dacqx flung him casually in the opposite direction and reclaimed his whip as the boy slammed into the brick wall.

His ankle throbbed; his back ached from where it had hit the bricks behind him. Chanson winced as he sat up, eyes widening as they took in the snow stained crimson with blood. His blood. That – freak – was still coming towards him, teeth bared in a predatory grin.

"H –" Chanson squeaked, his voice breaking with fear. He's gonna kill me! "H – Help! Someone! Help me!"

Dacqx laughed as the human boy tried to scramble away, unable to put any weight on his injured ankle. Run all you want; your power is mine, brat! "No-one's gonna help ya, ya little whelp. Just stay still so it's easier for me, will ya?"

It's useless. Tears of fear were welling in Chanson's eyes. He reached blindly for something, anything that he could use as a weapon. All he found was snow; his belt knife was unreachable. Where's the litter that's always on the streets, dammit! He felt a tingling in his chest, as though his emotions were threatening to burst out of him. Is this 'ow it ends? Am I gonna die here? No! I can't!

"GET AWAY FROM ME!" he yelled, flinging the only weapon he had – a handful of snow – at the orange haired monster with all his strength. The tingling sensation surged through him in a surge of white heat. I refuse to be killed by a freak like him!

Dacqx flinched back as the snowball hit his face, although it wasn't the snow that hurt him. The raw power behind the kid's words had hit him at full force. Damn it, I thought the kid was supposed to be unable to use his power! He growled; his lips drew back over sharp teeth. Lightning crackled around his body once, twice. I'll make the brat pay for that! Electricity flowed down the length of the whip, playing across the pitch-dark leather in a leaping, flashing dance that never followed the same steps twice.

It was a fearsome sight in the oncoming gloom, the glow around Dacqx brightening the clearing like a midday sun. Snow melted under the intense heat of the white flashes as they crackled and roared.

Chanson's eyes were as wide as they could possibly go; his face was as pale as the snow that spun around them in a frenzy, whipped up by the lightning. "What … What the 'ell … are you?" he whispered.

A chuckle answered him. "Heh. Doesn't matter to you, brat, 'cause you're gonna die no matter the answer." Dacqx raised his arm, preparing to lash out as lightning raced across his body. The whip came down; Chanson cried out, raising his arm to shield his face in a useless gesture –

– a flash of white darted in front of him –

Dacqx's whip cracked against wood, followed almost immediately by a coarse oath from the orange-haired man. Chanson lowered his arm slightly to peek at the scene before him, incredulous that he was still alive. His mouth dropped open in surprise.

Right in front of him stood one of the strangers he had seen by the tree earlier, coat still as blindingly white as before. This close, Chanson could see the splits at the bottom of the man's trouser legs and the well-made quality of the man's boots. He forgot the pain in his ankle with his shock, craning his head back to get a better look at his rescuer. Although the man's back was towards him, Chanson could see he held a long black staff of some kind out in front of him which had caught the whip.

Where's the other one?

"Run, kid!" the man snapped over his shoulder at Chanson, his voice betraying the strain he was under to keep Dacqx from reclaiming his whip. Chanson's breath caught – there was something odd about the man's eyes – but before he could reply, let alone protest ('Ow does he expect me to run with an ankle like this? And where, with 'im blocking the path?) the blue-haired man's attention had shifted away from Chanson to something beyond the enemy's shoulder. "Now, Rudolph!"

Silver flashed through the air. With a curse, Dacqx managed to free his whip with a flick of the wrist and ducked, the oncoming sword whistling over his hair with millimetres to spare. Chanson's question was answered, at least; the crimson-clad stranger pivoted smoothly and struck out again, forcing Dacqx to jump backwards to land on a nearby crate.

Their orange-haired assailant flipped his whip upwards, resting the handle against his shoulder and adopting a lounging pose. "Oh, look," he drawled. "One of the Santa brats and an annoying Reindeer." The last was said with a sneer, although Chanson felt bewildered. Santa? Reindeer? Are any of these people sane?

The white stranger shifted his hold on his staff. No, it was more than a mere staff, Chanson realised as he got a better look at it. One end branched out into two prongs of a silvery metal, a deep sapphire-blue gem as large as Chanson's fist gripped between them. His attention was dragged away from the strange staff by the man's words. "I thought I could smell the stench of a cauchemar here in this town. I'm surprised there's only one of you." The traces of a London accent remained in his speech, surprising Chanson. What the 'ell is a 'coushmar'?

Dacqx laughed. "Just me, Santa brat. For now, at least. Stand aside, you and the Reindeer both, and maybe I won't kill you after I kill that kid." Lightning leapt across his body and wove around the whip once more.

"Like hell I'll do that," Chanson's rescuer growled, pointing his staff at the other man. The jewel at the tip began shimmer faintly within its depths.

"Well, if you want to die –" Dacqx leapt off the crate before the words had even finished leaving his mouth, straight at the blue-haired man. Blue light flared in the depths of the jewel, growing stronger until Chanson had to shield his eyes from the glow. At the very last second, Dacqx's mouth twitched in a mocking smile. His free hand came forward, lightning lancing from his outstretched fingers even as he himself changed directions mid-charge, whip flicking towards the silver-haired man – Rudolph? – hungrily seeking flesh. Chanson's rescuer cursed, blue light spreading out in a shield to deflect the lightning.

Due to Dacqx's lightning-fast movements, Rudolph barely had time to react before the whip curled around his sword blade and yanked it out of his hands, sending it clattering against the wall a yard or so from Chanson. Dacqx was still moving forward, driving the butt of the whip into Rudolph's stomach and slamming his elbow into the man's chin as he doubled over. Chanson winced as Rudolph stumbled backwards; a combination of sympathy for Rudolph and his own pain as the snow he held to his ankle made the wound sting.

Winded or not, the silver-haired man still had breath to yell, "Noël, watch out!" at the same moment the white-clad man shouted "Freeze!"

Like that's going t' work, Chanson snorted silently. Even I wouldn't obey that! From the sneer on Dacqx's face, he had just thought the same thing. His whip snapped outwards; blood dripped onto the bright snow from a bloody gash across Noël's hand.

Dacqx's curse drew Chanson's attention; to both of their astonishment, ice was creeping steadily up the ginger-haired man's right leg, freezing it solid. How –? Chanson wondered, cutting off as his eyes flickered towards the peculiar staff the man called Noël held. He laughed weakly to himself. There's no way that's a magic staff like in the stories. I'm dreaming. This is a fever-dream, that's all. Would his ankle hurt so much in a dream? Chanson shoved the question out of his mind firmly. Fever dream. I should know.

"Damn you both, I'm after the kid, so just get out of my –" Dacqx was cut off as Rudolph's boot slammed into the side of his head with a fierce kick.

"Shut up, cauchemar," was all the comment the crimson-clad man gave, dodging another lightning bolt that blackened the bricks behind him. Dacqx's aim was off as he staggered back from the blow. Why is he so determined to kill me? Chanson shook his head, still bewildered. It's not real. I'm going t' wake up soon … God help me, I wish I would wake up soon!

Dacqx threw back his head and screamed a wordless roar of pure rage that echoed in the small space. Another spell tore through Dacqx's shoulder leaving a gaping hole, but the man took no notice as he continued to scream in anger. Rudolph was knocked backwards as lightning cocooned the 'cauchemar', streamers of electricity leaping across it and striking out at random. A bolt grazed Rudolph's arm; another slammed into the bricks inches from Chanson's head, tearing splinters from the wall. Chanson ducked belatedly. I would really like to wake up now!

The ice shattered around the cauchemar's leg. Noël planted himself directly in front of the kid, who had ignored his earlier advice to run. Probably frozen in place with shock. Dammit, this makes things harder. Why would a cauchemar be after him so desperately, anyway? The cauchemar put an end to his thoughts, lashing his whip around the clearing in a wide arc, aiming at anything and everything. Noël winced as the barbed tip caught his shoulder, slicing through cloth and skin with equal ease.

Peeking around the white coat, Chanson ducked as another bolt of lightning shot over his head and scorched the edge of the fabric black. He's going into a blind rage … at this rate we're all going t' die! A gleam from the corner of his eye caught his attention. Rudolph's sword lay half-covered by snow, the hilt lying towards Chanson. I don't know if this'll work, but … He shifted, testing his ankle. It hurt, but he could still move it. Here goes …!

The soot-haired boy dived to the side, arm reaching desperately for the hilt of the sword. His hand closed around it; with a thrill of triumph, Chanson tossed the sword through the air with all his strength. "Here, catch!"

Both Noël and Rudolph stared at him in disbelief. Rudolph recovered first, managing to snatch his sword out of the air despite Chanson's awkward throw. The boy had courage; perhaps he hadn't been frozen in shock earlier.

Unfortunately, in devising his great plan Chanson had forgotten to reflect on the idea that by returning Rudolph's sword, he had also inadvertently drawn Dacqx's attention. Lightning lashed out, forcing Noël to jump further away from Chanson to avoid being fried to a crisp.

Dark blue eyes widened as Dacqx growled in anger, swinging his whip in a wide loop with all his might. The barbed tip whistled towards Chanson's face, too fast for the boy to try and dodge out of the way.

Noël cursed, staggering to his feet, but he already knew he wasn't going to make it in time. Rudolph was even further away, unable to stop the whip's descent any more than Noël could. No! He's going to –!

A brown-coated figure darted out of one of the alleyways connecting to the courtyard and jumped in front of the boy, raising an arm to shield them both. The barb bit deep into the newcomer's arm, splashing more blood across the snow. Noel spared no time to think on the new arrival. Now's my chance!

Dacqx cursed, reclaiming his whip. How many of them are going to interfere with my plans?

In that split second of inattention, Noël's final spell hit Dacqx squarely in the chest. The cauchemar snarled, refusing to give in despite the fact that he was starting to dissolve into mist. Lightning leapt between the fingers of one hand. "He'll … be ours … soon enough …" he spat, just as Rudolph's sword slashed home. The orange-haired man cursed and finally disappeared for good, his whip dropping into the snow. Rudolph bent to pick it up, only for it to evaporate into mist just like its master. Noel frowned, examining the buildings around them, on the lookout for any more cauchemar that might choose to attack thinking their guards were down.

Chanson looked up into warm brown eyes. "Are you hurt?" his second rescuer said, sitting back on his heels and shaking snow off short, mahogany-coloured hair.

"My – my ankle was –" He caught sight of the other man's wound. "But your arm!"

A small chuckle answered his shock. "Ah, this is nothing. Marie'll fix it up in no time, and that ankle, too." He helped Chanson sit up against the wall one-handed. Blood soaked the sleeve of his injured arm.

"How did you –?" Chanson's throat closed up as the events of the past few minutes – minutes? They felt like hours! – finally caught up with him and he swayed in shock. His rescuer's hand steadied him.

"Breathe, Chanson. Will and Peel said they'd delivered my message, so we all got worried when you didn't show up …"

Rudolph had reached Noël by then, drawing the blue-haired man's attention away from the duo. "Perhaps we should go before they notice us, except that –"

"Yeah, I agree. That cauchemar was too interested in this kid, and I want to know why. Plus –" Noël looked over at the grey-haired boy. The kid's mouth was set stubbornly as he argued with whoever the man in the brown coat was. Maybe the boy's father? He seems familiar somehow …

"Who, the boy?" Noël hadn't realised that he'd spoken aloud until Rudolph answered him. "Have you met him before?"

The kid looked up then and met Noël's eyes. "No, he replied softly. "But … he reminds me a bit … of Charles …" Rudolph blinked at him and then turned to study the boy as well. Evidently, that was one too many piercing stares for the boy, as he shifted his gaze to look in the other direction. The mahogany-haired man with him chuckled slightly – why did the sound of it brush the very outskirts of Noël's memory? – and ruffled the boy's hair. The kid scowled again, petulance written in every feature as he raised a hand to brush the man's hand away. Noël moved closer, deciding to talk to the boy. I need to know why the cauchemar was after him …

At the sound of footsteps, or perhaps it was just to see what had shifted the boy's attention, the man kneeling beside the boy glanced around at them. Brown eyes snapped up to meet silver, wide with surprise.

"S …Salt?"

Noël's eyes widened in shock.

"…Pierre?"

oOoOoOoOoOo

I never expected to meet him. I never expected it to be this way.

I never meant for this to happen.

After all these years, I had hoped that we would never meet again.

oOoOoOoOoOo

Chapter End

oOoOoOoOoOo

Next Time: Chapter 2 – Christmas Comes But Once a Year

An unexpected meeting between two old friends and a boy hunted for a power he does not realise he possesses. What is Chanson's mysterious power and why are the cauchemar so determined to get it? Difficult questions will be asked, and not all will have the answers that are searched and hoped for.

Like snowflakes that twirl in the winter breeze, their fates are no longer their own.


A/N:

Anyway~! That was the first chapter of Silent Night! I hope you enjoyed it ^^ Thank you very much for reading ^^v

I get the feeling they're all a bit OOC... but I always think that, so maybe I'm just a bit paranoid... hopefully they aren't (-/\-) And the lamplighters make me lol, for some reason ^^; Even though in those days it would have been an important job...

As for the updating schedule, I'm afraid this one is going to be rather slow... Definately not faster than monthly! OTL I'm sorry!

In any case, hope you enjoyed reading~ (^^)/ Let me know what you thought!

Thanks again and see you next time! :D