Here's another fic for the Simoun Christmas Challenge. This time it completes Day 8 - Ringing in a new year and saying goodbye to the old. Again, if I don't get started on these now, I won't get any done by the time I have my next break. I swear, fulltime teaching and grad school can be so draining. This fic also marks me reaching 76 Simoun fics, meeting my goal of quintupling the original number of Simoun fic that was on this site when I first started writing in the fandom. My new goal is to sextuple at 94, and head right on into 100. I would love to hit 100 before the one year mark of writing in fandom, but that could be very iffy. Getting 100 would just be wonderful! :D

It was the most pleasant feeling. She was climbing into a Simoun for the very first time. She hadn't been at the temple for very long and they wanted her and her new pair to pray to the sky and offer a prayer of endurance to the new cadets who had arrived that very day. She adjusted her pilot jacket, slightly nervous. She knew how to fly as auriga and she was confident from all the rounds in a Simile, but still, the very first time was daunting. She took a deep breath and walked out to the flight deck where her pair would be waiting for her.

"Neviril. There you are!" called a voice happily. That didn't sound right.

Neviril looked up, only to find an unfamiliar yet still familiar Sibylla priestess standing on the Simoun. The girl wore odangos in her hair and a confident grin on her face. "Who are you?"

"I'm your pair. Come on, let's fly!"

The change in plans was odd, but perhaps the dux had changed her pair for this occasion. No matter. She began climbing up the Simoun and into the auriga cockpit, but the girl stopped her. "I'm the auriga. You're sagitta. Don't you remember?"

"I…uh…I don't…" She had always flown auriga as her preferred seat. Sagitta was all right, but she felt more confident as the auriga.

The girl flashed her a grin again. "It's all right. She leaned down and kissed Neviril softly. "Let's fly. Are you ready?"

Her head felt as though it was spinning as her lips pressed against the cool glass of the Simoun gem. It all seemed wrong, but it all seemed right. She felt the vibrations beneath her seat and the Simoun was off. She couldn't focus.

"Ready, Neviril?"

Ready? Ready for what? Oh yeah… the Ri Majon.

"Neviril? Ready?" Everything went black around her as consciousness overtook her.

She felt warmth around her body, and a head resting on her shoulder. "Hmm?" She felt so groggy, and was trying to cope with waking from something that was just a dream and yet, was still a piece of her past, just twisted by her subconscious.

"To go outside and see in the new year with the rest of the town. We talked about it before."

As she woke from sleep, she realized that it was Aaeru who was wrapped around her from behind, and then recalled their talk of some of the traditions of this world. In this particular town, they celebrated the changing of the year with a large celebration. "Ringing in the New Year" was a term she recalled floating around from neighbor to neighbor. This particular town celebrated all evening, but Neviril hadn't been feeling up to the cold weather, and so she and Aaeru had decided to go outside when it was closer to midnight.

"Oh…that's right. How much longer?"

Aaeru pulled away from her, and she shivered as the cool air touched her backside once more. "About ten minutes or so. Just enough time to grab your coat and bundle up." She reached for their coats on the rack by the door. She returned to Neviril's side and handed her the coat.

Both girls bundled in coats and gloves. Aaeru pulled Neviril close to her and stole a kiss before the two headed out into the cold night. They were near the park, which is where everyone had gathered for the celebration. The noise and music hit them before the sights and people did. Everyone was happy and huddled together as eyes looked toward a huge ball that was rigged up to a pole. Neither girl quite understood what the ball had to do with anything, but once it reached the bottom, the new year was said to be rung in.

"Let's find somewhere less crowded to watch," suggested Neviril. She still wasn't feeling her best.

"All right." Aaeru looked around at their surroundings. "There's a park bench over there that's empty. Not too many people around."

"That sounds fine," replied Neviril, moving closer to Aaeru for warmth.

The pair threaded their way through the groups and finally arrived at the empty bench. The ball that was to drop in mere minutes was still very visible, and more of the townspeople were gathering near it as midnight drew closer. Neviril took a seat on the cold bench and Aaeru stood behind her, wrapping her arms around Neviril's shoulders. Neviril leaned back into her warmth.

Both girls looked up as a countdown started amongst the townspeople. The counting started at sixty, and they realized it was the last minute they were counting down. The ball was slowly falling, and it flashed different colors as it descended down the pole it was rigged to. The counting became louder as the numbers became closer to zero. Unconsciously, Aaeru pulled Neviril closer to her, acting on the energy of the crowd.

"…3…2…1…Happy New Year!" The barrage of shouts and cheers went up, along with many, many noisemakers that popped and whistled. It was the couples that caught Aaeru's attention. She felt the warm urge inside her stomach and knew what she wanted to do.

"Hey, Neviril," she called softly.

"Hmm?" Neviril looked up, smiling at Aaeru.

Aaeru leaned in and kissed her softly, placing her gloved hand against the side of Neviril's cheek. The warm feeling in her stomach spread through her body as she deepened the kiss, forgetting their surroundings, completely caught up in the moment. Neviril forgot that she was cold, forgot that she hadn't felt like going outside into the cold night.

When Aaeru pulled away, Neviril kept hold of the front of Aaeru's coat to keep her close. Aaeru leaned her forehead against Neviril's. "Happy New Year," she whispered, grinning. "Isn't that what you're supposed to say?"

Neviril nodded, unable to speak at the moment. In the distance, the townspeople were beginning to scatter, though some stayed in the park. Many were headed home to continue celebrating there, or to simply go to bed. Aaeru pulled Neviril to her feet, sure that the girl would want to return to the warmth of the indoors. Wrapping an arm around Neviril's waist, she led them toward the park exit.

Leaning closer to her love, Neviril felt a satisfaction inside that she hadn't expected from the celebration. On the surface, it had seemed an odd tradition, but there was something about being outside in the cold watching a fabricated ball drop and then kissing the one she loved. It was the sort of thing that couldn't be explained in a book or even explained by word of mouth. It had to be experienced, and she was glad she had experienced it.