For Amy. I hope her holidays are as amyzhieing as she is, because after the crazy shit the forum has been through, she really deserves it. :) She's wonderful, and I'll never stop loving her.

good times, for a change
see, the luck i've had
could make a good man turn bad
please, please, please, let me get what i want ; the smiths

"Why do you do that to yourself?" comes a quiet voice from behind her, and she whirls around as fast as she can with her cane weighing her down. But it's him, of course, so she returns back to her trimming of a christmas tree and does not respond. Hmm. She thinks that maybe a silver garland might match the starbright mistletoe berries nestled in the upper branches better, so she pulls out her wand and aims it at the tree. Dammit, she's forgotten the spell.

"I said," he repeats calmly, and she can almost picture him standing with his pale blond hair falling in his eyes and his hands in his pockets, "why do you do this to yourself?"

"I heard you," she murmurs, wracking her mind for the spell. Ironically, the next words out of her mouth are, "I'm not some sort of idiot. It would do you well not to judge by appearances." He opens his mouth to object, but she turns and interrupts him fiercely. "I see how you look at me, do not try to explain it away."

For a moment, they stay locked in that position, beauty and the beast, but then he turns away. "I'm sorry," he says, and as it's the first time she's ever heard it come out of his mouth {even Fleur complains that he never apologizes} she decides to grace him with the answer to his question.

"I 'do this to myself' because I appreciate beauty," she says, gesturing to the large garden, overflowing with the sort of stop-and-stare elegance that she knows she'll never have. "And if I can't find it in myself, then I shall find it through other means." She nods delicately and returns to the tree, knowing that in their usual conversations, this is the point where he'd leave. She thinks it has something to do with guilt, because he's so obviously beautiful, and she is covered in scars and burns that will never heal. She tries not to dwell on his reasons, though, because that would mean that she cares, which she won't allow herself to do, not again.

She leans over slightly, giving up on the garland problem and moving on to the giant star she keeps in a box. She levitates it out and up onto the tree's highest point, and merlin, the tree would be gorgeous if the garlands weren't all wrong and why can't she remember the spell? She has a slight suspicion that it has to do with his presence, but she clamps down on it, because she won't let herself feel again. But then he's behind her, pulling out his own wand and doing exactly what she wanted with a simple flick. She turns towards him for the third time that afternoon, looking in his eyes for the first, and asks one simple word. "Why?"

He shrugs, his clear ice blue eyes flickering and reflecting, but never leaving her brown ones. "Because you want something beautiful," is what he answers, and for a moment she forgets that they're talking about the tree. "Merry Christmas," he murmurs, a ghost of a smile playing across his face.

"Merry Christmas," she breathes back, and he leans forward to plant a fragile icicle kiss on her forehead.

And above them, the star twinkles and the garlands shimmer and one berry begins to drop from the mistletoe and the whole image comes together to remind the world of what true beauty really is.