For Kelsey.

Christmas was always his favorite holiday.

The weather doesn't seem to pay much mind to the state of the world, as the following days are as bright and cozy as a Dublin winter can be. In the absence of wedding rings or the spirit of home and hearth, it's merely a silhouette of good fortune, and the world itself seems so exhausted that even the irony is reduced to a faint, wavering ring. It helps little and changes less. Days after the fact, snow still rains down like volcanic ash, coating the grounds with powder so fine he could pretend, if he'd only close his eyes.

(But he can't close his eyes anymore, not without seeing the battlefields, the wars with those grotesque caricatures of the creatures in his storybooks, the blood – so much blood – )

Christmas was always his favorite holiday, but this year it isn't Christmas, it's a funeral. The intersection of dates is mere coincidence, as it happens, one he won't even notice for days thereafter. Odd how that should play out, considering he's had the holiday emphasized with bright, decorative scrawl on every calendar in the manor since September. First Christmas with Arty!

But for now such thoughts are the heaviest sin (and Arty always did say that the heaviest thoughts would make him a sinner), and he stands in the garden with Beckett's fingers intertwined with his own, locking him there as though he should float away, should simply vanish from the earth just as suddenly as their brother his other hand he clutches a string of chrysanthemums, but crushed in his hand though they may be, his grip on them is comparatively weaker. He wonders idly what's tangible and what isn't, anymore.

In death Brother looks the boy he never was in life, rest smoothing the lines from his forehead and the tension from his shoulderblades. He could be sleeping. He struggles with the thought. The traces of the soul that once hung over his mind suggest that to die nobly is a heroic thing, an enviable thing – and yet Mother still cries when she thinks he isn't listening, Father's eyes are sunken and hollow, Beckett has slept in his bed ever since...

…and Artemis is still dead.

He moves forward when it's his time to do so, dropping the chrysanthemums into the claustrophobic little casket and brushing one shaking hand over Brother's – pale, lifeless, stark, decaying – cheekbone before stepping back again. A slow, blue-September sort of ache begins to bloom in his chest, bleeding through his body and leaving him thoroughly rain-soaked. Beckett lets out a little cry and buries his face in Myles' neck.

He doesn't like Christmas, anymore.

A hastily dashed-off love note to last night's sob-fest over TLG. Hope you enjoyed it!

(Note: Naturally, as this collection is set to include drabbles from both before and after Artemis's... revival, as it were, not all of them are going to be angsty. Some will be happy, some sad, some contemplative, etc.)