Twelve Days to Christmas

Prompt 027: Love

Author's Ramblings: I thought I didn't have a prompt for this piece, then it hit me: Hello Nanu! What are you thinking this is a grand scheme for a loved one! Of course it's prompt 27! I almost slapped myself… I thought about this idea for a while then I pulled out my scrabble board and figured out that it was worth giving it a try. You can find these words in any dictionary (at least they are in mine) and for you to understand most of what's going on I recommend you fish out your scrabble board and count the scores for yourself. Let me know if you have a different result and we can figure out how to fix things. Oh yeah, the three by three rule: in any given game if a word covers two triple word count tiles the results are tallied and then multiplied by nine. It's rare this particular happens, but when it does the scores sky rocket.

PD: Dear brain if you are reading this forgive me for abusing you during November: but it was NaNoWriMo!

So here we go!

Twelve Days to Christmas

December, 14 - A pear in a partridge tree

"And that scores 14." Said Balthazar writing down the number in the column with Dave's name. They had dug out the scrabble board while waiting for the rain to give out; so Balthazar told them to stay over at the spare room; Veronica wanted to lent Becky some of her new clothes and Balthazar would do the same for Dave, but they haven't decided yet. Balthazar was murmuring they should stay in, because after all it was cold and something could happen to them… Dave said that neither he nor Veronica should worry. That had gotten the boy a quick scolding that included the season's spirit of been grateful for having somewhere to stay instead of freezing in the snow outside, Dave had quieted down.

"Veronica, it's your turn." Called Becky as the sorceress returned from the room, wearing a pair of warm socks. They had found the game tucked inside the walk in closet, the bag was full of letters and Balthazar had explained that he had bought two by mistake, so he just dumped the two bags of tiles in one bag, kept one board, four small stands and threw the other board out. So now they were trying to kill time by using two hundred letter tiles and eating Cool Whip. So far Veronica was winning; what was a feat considering she's never played the game before.

"I don't think it's fair for Veronica to play." Commented Dave staring at the letters he got out from the gray bag, cringing. Balthazar looked at him from over the golden rim of his glasses with a frown. At the other side of the small table, Veronica settled and smiled while fixing the letters in her small wood piece.

"Why is that?"

"She's a walking dictionary," Here Dave shifts his tiles, before adding. "And the same goes for you."

"Bitter our brains are fuller than yours?"

"No; just wondering how sad my existence will be when I become you."

"You won't become me."

"No?"

"No; I'm too awesome for you to become me." Veronica was playing so they stopped their bantering and turned.

EVIL. Balthazar frowned Veronica was a woman with a plan apparently. So he tallied the score as Becky played her own word. Using the B from an earlier word (CABANA) as first letter and the D (DOOR) from Dave's latest fiasco she wrote in between. BAND. Balthazar nodded, writing down the tally and played his own word. Using the C from CABANA he wrote CANDY.

"And you call me lame!"

"I got a triple letter score. So mine's higher."

"No; you can't do that! That triple word square's already used you can't count it again!"

"We modified the rules in this house, Dave. Your turn."

"Fine, then, fine." Dave checked his letters and using the first word (UNICORN) as base, he wrote: MINION. Veronica let out a cry of joy. The younger couple turned to her in surprise, and Balthazar just looked up at her in worry. When she didn't notice them and continued fixing her letters Balthazar shook his head, while Dave asked him if he'd written the number down fine ("How come so little!" "It was another lame attempt, Dave, deal with it.") but tallied and wrote down the results.

"Your turn beloved." Said Balthazar, dreading his wife's next move.

Veronica used the final letter of several words, using the last line, from the first square to square thirteen, covering two double letter score squares and two triple word squares and wrote PRETERNATURAL.

There was a moment of silence, in which the other three stared at the board.

Balthazar dropped the small card they had used to record their scores along with his pen and announced he was retiring from the game. Becky hit her forehead with her hand and revealed she had three of the four Z while Dave leaned over to look at the word. "Wait, wait a moment! That's not a real word!"

"Yes it is!" Said Veronica, apparently offended.

"It is not!"

"Yes it is. Look for it in the dictionary!"

"I will." Balthazar moved to the kitchen, found a soda and returned just as Dave flipped the page to find PR in the dictionary. "Press, presume, pretend… " His face paled. "Preternatural; beyond what is natural. Abnormal."

"Dave, you are a preternatural boy." Said Balthazar giving an example for the use of the word making Becky giggle and turn as Dave dropped the dictionary.

"See! I told you it wasn't fair to let her play!"

"So did I win?"

"How does she do it?"

"She's a child of magic Dave, whatever she wants magic conspires with destiny or whatever to grant it." Explained Balthazar dropping on his leather couch, drink in hand and waving his free hand to make his point across. Veronica stood, kissed him and hurried away, as if remembering something.

"A child of ma… Then what am I?"

"A nerd."

"Hey, the snow has stopped." Called Becky from the window, she was kneeling over the small sitting area Veronica so much loved to use for reading, and was staring out at the street. The two men stood, and while Dave joined her kneeling over the small cushioned area, Balthazar just stood close by, staring out. "I think we'll be able to hurry home."

"Sounds like a plan."

"I would have to ask you to think about it," Said Balthazar as the younger couple hurried to gather their things and wrap themselves with the hundred layers they wore during winter. "It's still dangerous for you guys to go outside, and as I said before it's better to stay in and warm. I can drive you home tomorrow."

"Nah, it's alright. I'm sure we'll survive a short walk to the station." Said Dave, helping Becky with her coat. "And you and Veronica need some time off, you know?"

"I'm aware." Said Balthazar softly, chuckling to himself. "Well, you know where to find me if you need help."

"Sure, see you tomorrow at six?"

"Five and no I won't consider the snow storm heading this way." Dave shook his head, wondering in murmurs how he always did that and he and Becky hurried downstairs and out of the small building.

They spoke, as it was natural for them, about everything and nothing, Becky cherished every single word Dave spoke, even if he thought them lame, but for some time now it had become natural for them to share their lives after his nervous breakdown. Dave was still a little shocked to see their hands linked together, or even when she turned for a kiss from him, but he complied and his eyes alone let her know how he treasured such moments. The streets were empty, from the moment they left the new Arcana Cabana to the moment Dave stopped walking and turned to look at her building.

"Well this is you."

"Yeah. Are you busy tomorrow?"

"Nah, only practice at five."

"Cool, let's have brunch together." She suggested, smiling, her hand still linked to his. Dave gave a smile, the same one he always gave when she wanted to share her time with him.

"Sounds like a plan, how about ten? My lab?"

"Make it ten thirty at Joe's." It was the name of her favorite cafeteria, and lately there were hanging out there more than usual, specially after Dave tried their roast beef. They agreed to meet there, kissed and after one last reassuring squeeze of his fingers, Dave slowly unlaced their hands and started walking. Becky smiled, unable to help herself, and started to climb the stairs to her door…

"Oh, and by the way." That made Becky turn, curious as what he needed to say. "I love you."

"I love you too." And with another of those silly yet totally sweet smiled, Dave hurried away.

Becky had a little struggle to arrive at her room; three of her housemates kept bugging her about her and Dave, then the house mother asked her for help with some Christmas décor, and finally Jane had a fight with her boyfriend and needed someone to talk to. When she finally reached her room, closing the door behind her she had found a object dangling from the side of her window, moving with the wind and glittering with light filtering from the open blinds. Surprised she neared the item and frowned, who had place it there or why were mysteries, probably to be uncovered, but now that she thought about it maybe Becky didn't want to find out. And yet she couldn't get herself to get up and un-hang the little item.

She stared at it for a while, admiring the craftsmanship but finally broke eye contact, Becky smiled and looked around herself; her room was clean, the windows closed. She'd had hanged a little set of lights from the window and they were soon to be twinkling in a small show of lights. Becky loved Christmas and all the memories it brought; especially about her father and grandfather.

She could not help herself; she turned to stare at the item again, wondering who had placed it there. It must have been Dave, who else could have gotten into her room while she was away; none of the housemates was as sweet to do such particular thing. But he'd spent his day with her and losing miserly at Scrabble at the Blakes… Or was it really Dave?

The wind chimes under the particular gold frame giggled, while the little partridge, pear and small tree dangled in the wind.

December 15 - Two Turtle Doves

Packages were hellish to … well, pack. Becky had asked for veronica's help in the matter because the woman was well known among sorcerers and humans alike (those little humans who knew her anyway) for been economic when space was concerned. And they were doing good, great actually until it was time to seal the box. Veronica kept insisting that it should be able to close, yet every time Becky closed the flaps the box would bulge.

"Are you sure there are only seven packages? Because the box should close fine."

"Of course I'm sure!" Said Becky, looking into the box while Veronica sighed.

"Alright, then let's pull them out."

'No, wait, you can't! We spent thirty minutes finding how to put them in…" But Veronica just shook her head and started to pull box after box. Becky had been struggling to fix in the gifts and now Veronica was smiling as if nothing and pulling the wrapped items out. "One, two, three," Here Veronica struggled a bit with one of the packages, after all the foil they had used was beautiful, but also very fragile. "Four, five, six…" She looked into the box, while Becky shook her head. "You said only seven, Becky."

"There are seven!"

"Then why do I count eight?" She said pulling out package seven and then eight. Becky frowned and took the carefully wrapped item, not knowing or recognizing the particular gift wrap. The paper was blue, with Chihuahuas wearing Santa hats and carrying little boxes. It had a little tag dangling from it and Becky inspected it. For: Rebecca. There was no sender, or any indication of who send it, so Becky stared at it for a second.

Could it be from a stalker?

"Who send it?" Asked Veronica, apparently concern at the expression Becky had.

"I don't know."

"Then open it."

"What? No! I don't know who send it!"

"If it were because of that I wouldn't have accepted a hundred poems, a hundred troubadours, or little gifts from unknown senders."

"What?"

"When I came of age I had to sit through sessions of poetry and love letters from anonymous senders." She let out a laugh. "Once I was resting and Balthazar gave a gold coin just to get rid of the troubadours, while Horvath delivered a box of letters."

"What did you do with the letters you got?"

"I usually burned them, I wasn't very interested in letters until I received one from Balthazar." Becky stared at her, Veronica normally did not share such stories, so she'd learned to ask small questions that lead to long answers; just to get a bit more in this sorceress background. "I don't know if he tried to mask his writing, or if he had someone write the letters for him, thing I highly doubt, but I would recognize Balthazar's writing anywhere." Becky nodded, she still remembered the small note Balthazar had written Dave, and the particular calligraphy was quite original, with the long lines and rounded letters…

"Did he send them anonymously too?"

"Yes, it took him a year before he realize I kept his letters." Veronica smiled, fixing the gifts into the box. "It's too bad he won't let me get them back from the museum."

"Yeah." Becky looked down at the small gift while Veronica continued.

"He is rather bad in poetry, but I could tell he was talking from his heart. With every beat, he used to write. Still writes." Becky couldn't really understand why but Veronica had tears in her eyes, even though she was smiling she had tears in her eyes. She wanted to ask, but didn't, Veronica sniffled quietly, and closed the small box.

Becky decided that if things had gone so well for Veronica, why couldn't they be good for her? So she took a deep breath and started to rip open the small gift. Inside there was a scarf; it was thick warm wool (she had been complaining she could not find one) and to each end a small silver turtle dove was hanging, it's small red eyes glistening in the light.

December 16 - Three French Hens

Balthazar was laughing.

When Balthazar laughed during a training session it meant two things: He was high on sugar/drugs, or something extremely painful had just happened to Dave and Becky would be the one nursing him back to health.

Of course as she walked into the lab, to wait for her boyfriend to finish so they could go watch to the theater, Becky saw Dave on the center of the circle curled into a fetal position and crying out in pain while his master just laughed and stood outside the circle trying to hide he was laughing.

"I told you not to try playing smart mouth with a gnome. They are nasty creatures." Becky heard her boyfriend groan and hurried down the stairs, making Balthazar turn. "I guess we can leave it here, you've suffered enough as it is." Commented Balthazar moving to the desk where the Encantus rested, beside it a tea set; along with tea cups, sugar and biscuits. "Come have tea Dave."

"I can't stand up…" Said Dave, struggling to breath.

"Rebecca, would you like some tea?"

"Uhm, what happened?"

"Dave tried to outsmart a gnome and got kicked." Balthazar wasn't specific as the where Dave got kicked but Becky could already tell his honor (if not his family jewels) were involved. So she winced a bit, and crouched beside her boyfriend, caressing the back of his head. "He'll be fine, that will teach him a lesson. Tea?"

"I want ice." Groaned Dave out, making Balthazar throw him a frozen towel, the boy remained on the floor and as Becky tried to sooth him, Dave did what was needed and soothed his own pain.

"Becky." Said Balthazar, making the girl turn and watch him offer a seat across from him. Sighing, Becky stood, and walked to sit across from Balthazar, taking the cup he offered. So worried was she with watching her suffering boyfriend she almost missed the small gift beside her little dish of biscuits. "Veronica asked me to deliver it; it was mailed to the store." Was all the explanation Balthazar could give her, before sipping his tea and turning to Dave. "Come have tea, Dave."

"I'm dying. Just let me be."

"Fine, then let us weep you departure and enjoy tea." Said the master, while Dave sighed, and Becky lifted the small box.

It was a simple box, it wasn't heavy nor wrapped just a cardboard box with tape holding the small lid together; she stared at it for a moment, while master and apprentice continued to bicker, and hiding a smile ripped the tape and opened…

"Now really have you any idea in how much pain I'm in?"

"Yes, I do."

"Liar, you've never insulted a gnome."

"But I insulted a Unicorn."

Dave laughed, while Balthazar sipped his tea. "That makes me feel so much better."

"Come have your daily tea, Dave."

"Fine. I'll try movement; if I faint…"

"I'll dump a bucket of cold water over you."

"I was going to say leave me here, but…" Dave sat up, and his eyes set over his girlfriend, who smiled at him and sipped her tea. In her ears two small hens with French hats glittered, and around her neck a thin chain with a single yet bigger hen could be seen over her black blouse. It complimented quite well the two hens hanging from her scarf.

December 17 - Four Calling Birds

She'd been at the station for more than usual, even in here own standards, and that was saying a lot. Becky had been called in after one of her fellow coworkers called in sick and she had to play DJ for professor Heiderman's program (a show about physics and their involvement in daily life). Dave had listened to it, told her it was accurate, but boring, and so she was leaning back on her side of the studio, a blessedly dark corner, and playing soft tunes when Andre entered the place. They were in the middle of a commercial break, and he seemed surprised.

"You've got a UPS guy asking for you."

Finally able to break from Heiderman, not music she loved working as DJ but that professor gave her the creeps, Becky took off her headphones, handed them to Andre and hurried out to the lobby. She was curious to find out what the UPS guy wanted; what meant she found almost every friend she'd made in the station along the way, and they all wanted a word with her.

Helen wanted her to bring some paper cups for the Christmas party, Raymond wanted to know if she could work on Christmas eve, Dolores and Ajid wanted her to help them both with their homework, and there was that little geeky guy (Heiderman's assistant) who wanted her cell phone number. When she made it to the lobby the UPS guy seemed bored, or angry; he asked her for a signature, handed her a box and walked out. It was snowing outside, thing Becky hadn't expected, and ignoring the angry stare the deliver man send her way she opened the box.

Four yellow Peeps and a CD.

Becky could not help it; she laughed out loud.

That night she returned home, having been forced to do two more shows and cancel a date with Dave, and dropped on her bed, dead tired. Her bag fell to her side, and the contents shifted and spilled by her side, making her groan. Forcing her tired hand to push everything aside, and considering skipping bath time, Becky felt and heard plastic been moved and looking down… The Peeps were crinkling and the unlabeled CD had pulled out of its protective envelope. Suddenly not that tired, Becky lifted the CD and stared at it, then fished her small CD player/radio and lifted the lid. Whatever was recorded here better be good…

According to the player there were four tracks within the disk and hitting play…

Birds.

Four birds.

Four birds singing.

Four birds singing beautifully.

The tracks were not long, or well recorded, but they held the lovely singing of birds. For some reason Becky felt like crying. Now she understood Veronica.

December 18 – Five Golden Rings

It was Saturday.

Saturdays had become sacred for Becky and Dave; there was no school, nor practice, nor radio or work or sorcery… They became the two normal human beings they had been born as (at least from Becky's part) and slept in late.

On Saturdays, Balthazar had created a routine of taking Veronica out of the city, for some particular destination (last time they went to England to see the restoration of Merlin's castle) or other while Becky and Dave had a normal date. They had decided to get together for brunch and then the mall, for more Christmas shopping or something like that, and spend their day together. So there she was, dropped on bed, too warm to actually even lift the covers and snoozing in an out of consciousness.

She was dreaming with rings. But not any normal rings, no, she was dreaming that rings were suspended from her ceiling. There were no invisible holds or anything there, just … five rings suspended from her ceiling. She could not be sure, but they seemed to be spinning, al of them in a particular color and every time she snoozed out of sleep the rings would become smaller. And smaller, and smaller.

That's the sort of stuff that happens after watching a marathon of lord of the rings. So smiling to herself Becky turned on her side, snuggling deeper into her covers and making sure she was warmer than before, because there was a small draft entering from the window… Her eyes opened and there were the rings, dangling and spinning right before her. Her eyes slid towards the window, seeing it close, and Becky closed her eyes, but not before taking a second look a the spinning rings.

The draft must be coming from the door…

A yep accompanied her as she sat up, staring at the still spinning rings and leaning back on her bed to get away from them. She had not been dreaming; the rings were real and they were moving closer towards her. Becky leaned back, eyebrow arching, and still staring at the things… They stopped spinning and slowly floated towards her. Smiling now, Becky lifted her hand, palm up and thinking they would deposit over it and watched the rings slid in her fourth finger, one after the other; gold, red, green, silver and gold. They weren't particularly thick, nor heavy or tight; they fit her finger perfectly. Becky smiled and turning to stare at her finger and new rings realized that she had to ask Veronica something.

December 19 – Six Geese a-laying

"So how long before Balthazar finally notice you were keeping his letters?"

Veronica looked up at Becky; the sorceress had been arranging the items for a potion, thing she seemed to enjoy making, and was wearing a flowery apron, hair pulled back and plastic goggles. Dark purple fumes were pulling out of a glass over fire, and for a second there was nothing but the smell of something disgusting and Veronica's stare.

Something upstairs crashed, and Balthazar started screaming something at Dave. Both women remained quiet…

"…And that I have you know is a two hundred year old china set!"

Veronica sighed already knowing what had crashed to the floor and was probably on bits all over the floor, while Dave stuttered some response. "There goes the day." Muttered Veronica returning to her potion making, as the scolding upstairs continued. Becky shook her head, already aware of the steps to follow during such situation and just continued.

"When did Balthazar noticed you were not burning his letters and stuff?" Asked Becky taking off her new dove's scarf and placing her bag on the chair nearby. "Because I know who is sending these, and I have no idea how to approach the subject…"

"Then don't." Said Veronica, pouring a green liquid into the boiling glass, and it became purple. What was it with Veronica and purple. "I understand this is a poem or song, right?"

"Yeah."

"How long till it's done?"

"Well, it's been six days, out of twelve…"

"Then wait for the … Christmas? Really? That's so romantic." Mused Veronica, she was truly amused, but still making that potion for… whatever.

"Yeah, well…"

"Becky, just let it be and have fun with…"

Paper flew in. Upstairs the scolding was escalating and paper was flying into the small baseman. It fluttered around Becky, paying with her hair and landed on Veronica's large potion making table. The two women stared at the six little origami geese…

"Do!"

"Re!"

"Mi!"

"Fa!"

"So!"

"La!"

The last geese croaked, Becky jumped and then laughed while Veronica frowned at them. They unfolded and the paper became a little ball, a small burst of light, and a perfect ball of glass was revealed, six geese drawn over the surface and shinning. It floated towards Becky and she catch it in her hands while smiling.

"Now that is how I used to feel when Balthazar sent me gifts." Said Veronica, smiling. "Just enjoy it Becky, and for now; be very, very quiet."

"I don't care you don't know the spell! Fix it!" That was the end of the scolding upstairs followed by the sound of a door slamming.

December 20 –Seven Swans a Swimming

Veronica asked Becky to take her to the library. Becky wasn't too fond of going there, because a disgustingly perverted and old man worked there, but since it was for a friend Becky agreed. She did, however warned Veronica, and they both wore comfortable and conspicuous clothing. It was snowing anyway, and they had to wear so many layers of clothing their figures were not well distinguished.

But the old pervert somehow managed to see through the clothing. Veronica told Becky that if he tried something that might slightly bother them the man would find himself blind for a week. So there they were, Veronica browsing the libraries amazingly well kept collection, while Becky tried to ignore the lascivious stares they were receiving. Veronica suddenly chuckled.

"What?"

"It's so difficult to be so beautiful, isn't it?"

Becky did laugh at the joke Veronica was trying to pull and the older woman found a particular volume (a tome Becky doubted many people had seen in this library) and searched the yellow and dusty pages. "If I'm not mistaken what I need is here." Murmured Veronica, searching the pages. Becky looked about herself, and found a book of wildlife and birds. She opened the thick book, and to her surprise landed on a page about Swans. She frowned a bit and smiling read:

Swans are the largest member of the duck family… Would you look at that; who would have thought…? One of the little swans in the picture jumped out of the book. It shook its grey feathers and quacked at Becky.

Who slapped the book shut. She let out a yelp, and covered her mouth with both hands, blushing in embarrassment and sudden surprise. Veronica turned to her, a bit a of a frown on her features. "Everything alright?"

"I think I killed a little swan."

"A what?"

"In the book." Veronica frowned and shook her head, not understanding. Becky opened the book carefully and found the little swan still alive, moving from side to side because of the blow and letting out little quacks that made both women stare and laugh.

"What a gorgeous little…"

The swan shook again, and while it did its feathers became white and became an adult swan, retaining it's size. From the pictures of swimming swans another six cygnets pulled out, all growing as they took flight around both women's heads and for their remaining time in the library the little birds became their companions. Once veronica had all the information she required, they stood, and the birds moved around them in circles and before they exited the building became dust of many colors and covered Becky's hair and clothes, making the radio DJ laugh.

"Isn't it amazing Dave's doing this?"

"I'm starting to grow jealous, so far Balthazar hasn't even given signs of even wishing to celebrate Christmas."

"Well that's just not right! It's just first Christmas after…" Veronica nodded, seeming a little depressed. Becky bit her lip as they walked, and for a while they were in silence. "Let's go get some Rocky Road Ice Cream!"

That seemed to cheer Veronica up.

For some reason, a week afterwards that perverted librarian was completely blind.

December 21 – Eight Maids a-milking

She'd declared several days ago, how much she loved the drink milk with her gingerbread cookies. Granted, she deserved her current break; she'd just teach Veronica to bake cookies without burning neither the over, tray or cookies so Becky deserved her cookies-and-milk break. Now if she could only find a glass to pour some milk in.

The house seemed to be bare of glasses; there were none in the cupboards, nor cups, or plastic, or glass… It was insane. Veronica was laughing at something, probably Balthazar or Dave made a joke, and wishing she'd been there to see or hear and laugh, Becky searched again. No glasses, or cups…

Her feet knocked something down, and looking she found a glass rolling around her feet. Leaning to pick it up she noticed two things; it had arms and legs. Moving arms and legs. And two the surface was handwritten. She stared at the thing, bringing it to the light with surprise, but not fear. Becky had seen weirder stuff happen, specially in this house. The little arms and legs were moving, but when Becky brought it up and face it, instead of trying to escape her they clung to her fingers as if to dear life. The words For Rebecca were highlighted, and underneath a smily that was actually blinking and smiling at her. To the other side of the glass eight lines were drawn, to each line two words;

One Maid, two maids, three maids… and so on until eight maids were reached. Becky smiled and to her surprise the glass started to fill on it's own with milk. She almost dropped the thing. Each line counted an ounce of milk.

"Becky! Come quick, they movie's about to start!" Called Dave from the living room, while Becky stood in the middle of the kitchen with a glass full of milk and too stunned to move.

Eight maids-a-milking indeed.

December 22 – Nine Ladies Dancing

"Come on, now beloved, it'll be fine."

"I don't think it's a good idea. I'll just wait here."

"Don't be a scardy cat, veronica, just take my hand." Becky watched the exchange with mild amusement. Of all things she'd experienced, Becky never considered Veronica would be afraid of an ice rink. She'd taken jalapenos, she'd driven a car down the wrong line, she had even carried the even most dangerous sorceress around for a thousand years… And Veronica was afraid of an empty ice rink. Becky skipped the couple and entered the rink, where Dave was already skating.

Beyond them four there was no one else in the large ice rink, they had gotten in because (amazingly enough) Balthazar knew the guy who kept the keys for the maintenance crews and ballet dancers. Becky slid slowly towards Dave, who had stopped to wait for her and had his arms open.

"Isn't this awesome?"

"Yeah," Becky wasn't too fond of skating either, mostly because not only was it painful to fall but because it was also cold. But she made it to Dave without much trouble and entered the circle of his warm arms in joy.

They had planned to spend dinner with the Blakes, but because of some meeting the married couple had to assist to they had suspended dinner. But then Veronica called Becky and asked her to meet them in this particular address. At the time she'd been excited, knowing she would try something new, but now seemed totally content with just watching them from afar. "Balthazar thought it'll be cool to teach Veronica how to skate."

"She seems terrified of ice."

"Because this was how the insides of the Grimhold looked like." Announced Veronica, making everybody turn to her, in mild surprise. Balthazar's hand lowered and for a moment there was only silence. Balthazar's body was tense, his eyes set on the woman he loved to bits and beats… Becky decided it was time to do something about it, because none of the men was sure on how to react.

So she slid out of Dave's arms and skated, rather badly, towards the entrance. "In the Grimhold; did you had shoes?"

"No. I was… bare. Totally bare."

"Well right now you have three layers of warm clothes, and a pair of pointy and sharp shoes." Said Becky, extending her hand to hold herself against the wood railing around the rink. "I think I'll be safe to try this and kick the crap out of anyone who tries to hurt you." And with an unsteady hand she reached for Veronica. "Come on, I'm not doing this alone."

Veronica was shaking, both Balthazar and Becky could see it as she reached with both her hands, for both of them, and gave a shaky step forward. "I also hate ice rinks, but it's because I hate falling." Veronica set one foot over ice, and slipped yelping loudly, but Balthazar's hold was strong and she was kept up eyes wide and forward. Becky laughed and soothed her friend as her other foot also slid into the ice. One hand held by Becky, the other over Balthazar's shoulder, while his arm slid securely around her waist Veronica stood there, between them as if testing the slippery grounds.

"It's… It's not as bad… as I thought." She whispered softly, turning from one to the other eyes still slightly wild. Slowly both Balthazar, who seemed to know his skating, and Becky started to slid deeper into the ice rink, while Dave skated around them, making sure none of them found any thing that might make them trip. Becky's hand slowly slid away, and Veronica held onto Balthazar, as if to dear life, and together they slid away. Becky watched them; Balthazar wrapped around his wife securely, Veronica leaning against Balthazar as if to hide, and then Balthazar looked up…

His blue eyes met Becky's and she smiled. Thank you, he mouthed, and then busied himself with Veronica.

"That was awesome." Said Dave in a whisper to Becky, taking her hands and pulling her to skate away form the other couple. "I thought we were leaving when Veronica confessed that."

Becky smiled, and her hands tightened around Dave's. "Well none of you have a good idea of how to reassure so… I got to play hero today."

"You are a hero, already. At least to me." Said Dave, leaning down to kiss her cheek.

"you are too generous." Said Becky jokingly.

A hard wind blew suddenly, bringing the scent of snow and cold and making Becky shiver and frown as Dave looked around… "Check that out." He said pointing at the other side of the rink, where nine little ballet dancers were been lead into the rink, for practice. Their instructor had them all wearing the full ballet dancer regalia, tutus, leotards, even blue ribbons over their heads. The instructor greeted them, and told the nine little girls to go into the ice, and while some did quickly, some waited to hold another's hand and slid clumsily into the rink. They spend thirty minutes in the rink, dancing and practicing for an apparent recital. They slid around the couples, moving in graceful movements and showing them that even the smallest of dancers was full of grace.

At the end they danced their little choreography dance without been interrupted, sliding around Becky and Dave and moved to the door they had first come out from.

In the twelve day of Christmas my true love gave to me… "Nine ladies dancing." Ended Becky out loud, making Dave turn to her with a curious stare, yet smiling mysteriously at her. Becky kissed him.

"Ow!" Screamed Veronica, making the younger couple turn to see both Balthazar and Veronica on the ground, the first sprawled between the second's spread legs. Veronica was hiding against Balthazar's chest, while Balthazar was laughing out loud. It was a rare, yet lovely picture.

December 23 – Ten Lords-a-leaping

"Ok; who stole my nutcrackers from the Christmas tree?"

Becky had to actually double check to know she'd heard correctly, an apparently so did the rest of the house because everyone was staring at her. Frowning she turned to her housemate, Jane, who stood at the top of the stairs, a deep scold in her usually gentle features. Her arms were crossed over her chest and if it weren't because of the ridiculous nutcracker pajama set, headband and slippers Becky might have considered fearing her. But things were what they were… "I have no idea what you are talking about?"

Jane's question had come at that moment in the morning when everyone was indeed awake but their individual operative systems had not loaded due to lack of caffeine or sugar so every single girl in the sorority house was staring at her as if she were nuts. And she was; Jane (if you haven't noticed) was crazy with nutcracker decoration.

"Don't play dumb, guys; none of your liked my Nutcracker Themed Christmas tree and now I'm missing all ten of my nutcrackers from the tree's décor. Where are they?"

Silence.

Jane growled and stared to head down the stairs. "Come on guys! I want to see those nutcrackers by the time I'm back or they'll be hell raining down over this hallways and rooms!" She threatened, what made several inmates stifle a laugh. Becky was one of them; she hadn't liked the particular theme for the Christmas tree but she'd helped decorate the thing, and buy the ornaments...

Having made plans for Veronica to go (late-)Christmas shopping Becky ignored the threats because after all she had no need to fear Jane, and walked into the room...

The nutcrackers were leaping, from her desk to bed and back, some were getting quite taken with t heir actions and were leaping to the back of the bed, or the bookcase and back to the bed. Becky watched the little ten lords-a-leaping with her mouth open in surprise.

So much for not fearing Jane.

December 24 – Eleven Pipers Piping

"Merlin had something like this in the keep. It was more of a torture chamber than a beauty treatment room." Said Veronica from the door, wearing her bathrobe and looking doubtfully at the small wooden room. Becky slid quietly into the room, wrapped with a white towel, and smiling.

"Come on, Veronica, it should be fun."

"Sure; heating up in a small room while they are waiting outside to see if my flesh is tender enough to rub."

"Massage, Veronica. They are reading our rooms for a full body massage." It was the third time Becky had explained to Veronica that massage parlors were no longer houses for… sinners but more of places to relax and let got of stress. Veronica had gotten the idea, but didn't seem to be too fond of it.

"I'm just saying; you rub the meat before cooking not afterwards." That got Becky to laugh. "I'll be taking that relaxing tea they offered instead of this." Announced Veronica and turning to look for one of the attendants while Becky shook her head and closed the door to the sauna. Balthazar had though it a good idea to give them this sort of gift, on Christmas eve, while the boys went out to do some special training at Central Park (Becky knew they were not training but searching for and then decorating the Christmas tree, but she was willing to play along). Veronica had been dubious at first, but now she was just playing along and been nice. So Becky, alone in the sauna, just took a deep breath, dropped over the wooden surface and allowed the tea infused vapors to warm her muscles and relax her body. There was some music playing softly in the background, and while she was relax (extremely) from that meditation and yoga exercises…

She should have come to these experts in massage therapy way sooner.

Becky knew the song that was playing and started humming along, the heat and the calm environment helped her relax and soon she was dozing off…

The sound of a high pitched pipe made her jump and sit up, it sounded as if something had broken and was hissing. But there was no sudden change in temperature of even after a while no change… A second high pitch pipe sound made her start searching and soon a third…

Over the heated box where the oils were diffused and the warmth exited the bamboo lines had broken and became a large flute like instrument that sounded (amazingly enough) like a bagpipe. The line of wind instruments moved, dancing as the wind moved through it and created a wonderful rendition of Holy Night. By the end of the little number two of the pipes were trying to fight but since they were stuck together (all eleven of them) it was too hilarious to watch.

She laughed so hard one of the therapists came around to check on her, the pipes in her hands were the only indication that she had been doing something other than relaxing.

December 25 – Twelve Drummers Drumming

Becky had woken up groggy.

Although the knots on her back and legs were gone, and she was relaxed beyond belief, the need to sleep had been so overwhelming both Becky and Veronica had returned home to sleep. Dave had called earlier, to let her knew he had been granted rare access to the Phantom and that he was on his way to pick her up after eleven, and that she was to stay at the Blakes for their Christmas party.

She already knew this bit of information; and had already packed a small bag. She was telling Janet about her day at the spa and how relaxed she was when they reached the first floor. All the other girls (all thirteen of them) were standing at the tall windows, moving the curtines to look outside. Becky stood there, watching them, while Janet joined them asking what was going on. They were all either cooing or sighing, or simply staring starry eyed outside.

Someone was talking to Becky.

"Beckers! It's for you!" Called Diane, her oldest house mate, pointing outside. Both Diane and Janet had to pull at Becky's arms and shove her to front row: they opened the door and placed her under the doorframe.

She followed to the front door and when she opened, after daring to think in not opening the magnificently decorated piece of wood, Pepper saw before her eleven (yes she counted twice,) eleven boys playing the drums. The cold didn't bother her, or the wind nor the small flakes landing on her hair as she stepped out of the house and towards the children, tears and smiles adorning her face. To think here she was wearing one of her best outfits, and the silly hens, the silly doves… They continued to play, smiling at her, Oh Holy night, and they backed up the sound with lyrics that sounded heavenly to her. Their teacher was a few feet away, leading them, as Becky could do nothing but stare.

"Merry Christmas!" They said as they finished and moved to slowly gather around their teacher.

"Thank you."

"Balthazar promised them some of his cocoa, if you don't mind riding with us." Said Dave, appearing at the porch, holding a box with a wrapper with drummers drumming (silly Dave!) and a scarf with a little drum hanging from one of the sides. His mother had given him that before departing to Bahamas, two weeks ago; he'd called it silly, Becky had called it sweet. He was the last drummer huh? "That is of course if you still want to spend Christmas with me."

Becky turned to her boyfriend, smiling with tears in her eyes. "Dave no one had ever done anything like this for me before."

"I…"

"Why?"

Dave smiled at her.

"Because I love you. Why else?" That got all her fourteen housemates to sigh and sniffle, while Becky ignored them and kissed Dave. "Merry Christmas Becky."

"Merry Christmas Dave."