Thank you, God, for everything.
DISCLAIMER: I do NOT own Brave. Hello, my lovies! This is a holiday fic that will be my December project. Hogmanay is indeed a very real holiday in Scotland, and, though I believe it was created a few decades after Brave, for the sake of our entertainment and feels, I'm going to have it exist in the time of Merida. :)
It was a quiet early morning in the castle of DunBroch. Of course, it was very early in the morning. Things would be picking right up after everyone got up. The servants were not looking forward to seeing the young princes dashing about, snatching up the goodies for the holiday.
Up in the princess's room, Merida was asleep in her bed. She looked rather calm, sighing softly to herself against the warm pillow. A quilt was over her, and her hair was flying about each and every way.
One of the animals from the stables let out a loud noise, causing the servants to drop things into the snow and hurry to it, and that was what woke up Merida. Letting out a slight groan at the fact that it was so early in the morn, she sat straight up. Her quilt fell off of her and she stretched her arms out, nearly hitting the posts of her bed, which were still marked with her creativity in using her sword to chop at the furniture.
She blinked, pushed hair out of her face, and suddenly her face lit up when she remembered what day it was.
"Hogmanay!" she shouted as she leapt out of bed, her quilt falling to the floor. She danced, her hands in fists in front of her, saying, "It's finally Hogmanay!"
She suddenly let out a gasp and stopped jumping, and started to say to herself as she crept over to her window, which was covered with hand-embroidered curtains for the long, bitter winter that Scotland had, "Please let there be sun, please let there be sun." On Hogmanay, a grand holiday on the last day of the year, sun in the morning was good luck. Merida only feared that it was going to be a grey day.
She stopped in front of her curtains, and taking in a deep breath, she reached out and yanked one of the curtains back. A spray of white light fell on the ground. Merida stepped forward, and holding the curtain away from her, she saw that there was indeed the sun shining down over the snow covered castle grounds.
"That's good luck, then," Merida said excitedly, and she hurried out of her bedroom, leaving her bedroom door cracked open, her entire room in disarray in less than two minutes.
She ran through the castle, through its dark and dank corridors(despite the torches), barefoot, and to the boys' room. Their bedroom door was usually open, allowing the excited shouts of the three boys to go throughout the entire castle, though now it was closed, for it was early.
Merida quickly turned the knob, and was about to hurry in when she saw Maudie at the boys' fireplace, working up a fire in it for the morning. The maid instantly saw her and quickly, looking desperate, put a finger to her lips, looking hurriedly over to the boys' bed.
Merida nodded, and her gaze looked over to where the boys were. They were all laid sprawled about on their bed, the blanket all twisted about them. One was in a corner, another was hugging a large cookie and the other was snoring, a bit of drool hanging from his mouth.
Merida whispered, "Sorry," and backed out of the room. With extreme carefulness, she managed to close the door without making a loud, disturbing noise. She walked a few steps before she dashed over to her parents' bedchambers.
She hurried inside, coming across her parents in their big bed, covered with rich blankets and bear furs.
"Mum! Mum! Mum!" Merida said excitedly, dashing to her side of the bed. Elinor had her head against her pillow, a slight frown on her face as she groaned and turned away from Merida. "I's too early, Merida," she muttered sleepily.
"But MUM, it's Hogmanay!" Merida said, tugging on the blankets teasingly. "It's the biggest holiday of the year, and look!" She pointed to their covered window, which was covered with curtains. She pulled them back and turned to Elinor, saying in a more serious voice, "Mum, the SUN IS SHINING."
All she got was the sounds of her parents' snores.
Sighing dramatically, Merida walked back to her mother, saying, "Mum!"
"The lords are comin' today."
"Wut?" Elinor said. She sat up, wearing a dark gold nightgown. Her hair was out, her having too much to put into braids or pinned up in a cap, and she looked to Merida and said, suddenly remembering, "Oh, goodness, it IS Hogmanay, isn't it?"
"Yes, and you invited three certain lords with their sons over for the occasion to make up for the Games this summer," Merida said in a slow voice, her arms folded, a smile on her satisfied face.
"Well, there's that," Elinor said, turning so that her legs hung over the bed (Fergus let out a very loud snore from his side of the bed, shifting as the blankets were moved by the queen). She reached down and began to put on her slippers. She looked up to Merida and said, "Remember what else I be gettin' to do today?"
Merida shrugged. "Dunno, Mum."
"Well, if I remember the tradition correctly," Elinor said, her voice sounding excited as she stood up, "the lady of the house gets to make all the important bannocks for the day."
"Last day of the year. I remember last year I was stuck stitchin' away in my room while you had the boys hangin' 'round in the kitchen w'th ya," Merida said, raising an eyebrow with a hint of a smiles at one of the corners of her mouth.
Elinor smiled as she walked over to Merida, and draping an arm around her shoulders, said, "And that's why I'm proposin' somethin' new this year, Merida."
"What? You?" Merida said, looking up at her mother with a bit of surprise. Her mum had loosened up quite considerably after having been turned into a bear, but she still liked traditional things, especially with such a festive and fun holiday. "Thought I was the one who broke the rules 'round here."
"Make that the entire family," Elinor said with a laugh. "I was thinkin' that YOU could help me in the kitchen today."
Merida gasped, looking at her mother, astonished. It was tradition that she had always watched her mother from the sidelines in the kitchen on Hogmanay (when she managed to get some time away from her confounded queen preparation), and now she got to join her?
"Really, Mum?" Merida asked, making Elinor laugh and nod. Merida squealed and pulling her mum to the door, said, "Ach, let's hurry, let's go do it now!"
"Merida," Elinor said in a you-forgot-something voice.
Merida stopped, her hand on the doorknob, and turning, said, "Yes?"
"I think we should probably eat breakfast with your father and brothers first," Elinor said. She glanced at the two of them and laughed, "And we might want to wear something besides our sleepin' gowns."
Merida looked down at her nightgown and shrugged, "Yeah, probably guess so."
So, within the hour, the castle was bustling with life, reading the day for the holiday. Maudie, trembling, had nervously woken up the boys, and managed to get them dressed before they ran down to the breakfast table stark naked.
Fergus had come down, his large black dogs leaping and bounding beside him. He shoved them away good-naturedly and sat down at the table, making the entire table rumble and the porridge pot nearly fell off of the table, making Merida stretch over the wide table to catch it.
"Mornin', Fergus," Elinor said from the foot of the table, her hair out and brushed neatly, wearing a dark purple dress and a cup of calm, steaming tea next to her bowl of porridge and cream.
"Ach, mornin', Elinor, and happy Hogmanay!" Fergus said as he looked around the table. Merida was shoving her porridge into her mouth faster than even the triplets, making all three of them look across the table at her, astonished, before they looked down and fairly started gulping down their porridge.
Fergus shrugged after a moment before turning to his own breakfast, which was a gigantic wooden bowl of porridge, each little nook and cranny in the mash filled with cream. "Looks like today's a bit of a busy day, aye?"
"Yes it is," Elinor said with a smile. She put down the few papers she had in her hands and began to blow on her tea, saying only, "Merida?"
"Wut?" Merida asked, her mouth full of porridge, some dripping down her chin.
"Just don't go and choke," Elinor said before she gave her tea another delicate blow, making Merida grin and begin eating again. Elinor took a sip of her tea and turning back to Fergus, who looked like he was the one the children had gotten their eating habits from, and said, "The lords and their sons should be here in just a few minutes."
"How are they comin'?" Merida asked. Finished with her porridge, she wiped at her mouth with her sleeve, but suddenly straightened and used a napkin, looking wary. She was wondering because the lake had not totally frosted over, despite the bitter cold weather they had been having.
"They'll be takin' their ships, hopefully not tryin' to outdo each other again," Elinor said. "After they arrive, Merida and I shall go into the kitchen and make bannocks." (At this the triplets looked at each other in excitement. Bannocks were oats and grease molded into cakes and fried. It was good holiday food, and the boys had sparks of mischief in their eyes.) "Tonight will be our big feast here in the Great Hall and the lords' sons are going down through the hills to the houses of the villagers."
"Oh, oh, oh, Mum, can I go with them? Please, please, please?" Merida asked excitedly, almost looking on the verge of jumping up and down.
"Well, Merida, I'm afraid-"
"It'll be too cold for ya, darlin'," Fergus said. He leaned back in his chair and said mischievously, "Besides, you'll probably beat 'em and get here first."
Merida sighed. Whoever got back before midnight was cheered on and brought good luck. Small problem. If a redhead came through the door first, there'd be bad luck. "Ya, fine," she said.
At that moment, great shouts rang through the castle, and the boys stopped eating for once and looked around, wide-eyed. Elinor stood up excitedly, clapping her hands together, saying, "That'll be the lords!"
Merida ran to join her as Elinor picked up her skirts with one hand and said earnestly, "C'mon, Fergus, we've got to go meet them!"
Fergus watched them leave, astonished, and gesturing at his large bowl of porridge, said loudly, "I ain't even finished yet!"
Merida and Elinor didn't seem to hear him as they bounded through the halls, passing by the servants, all carrying lambs and meat ready for roasting, others cleaning the castle for their guests. They all gasped and moved away as Merida squeed and dragged a laughing Elinor to the throne room where the queen dusted herself off and then turned and call, hands cupped near her face, "Fergus! Boys! Hurry!"
In through the side door the boys came skipping through, their hands filled with breakfast pastries, Fergus right behind them, saying, "Why'd they 'ave to come so early?"
Merida giggled to herself as she sat on her throne. While she didn't have to wear a fancy dress like last time, she did sit up a bit straighter and dust her dress off, though she once again wiped at her mouth with her arm and found a bit of porridge.
Servants who were already in the throne room hurried and milled over to the sides of the room as a guard hurried in front of the doors and called for attention. The royal family (Fergus still grumbling), sat down in their seats, the dogs leaping about joyfully around them, and Elinor barely noticed them and Fergus didn't care enough to call them to settle down.
The guard shouted, "The lords of the clans!" and the doors opened, revealing the three other clans. The three lords stood in front, hands on their hips. Lord Macintosh stood in the middle, blue swirls mostly hidden by bear skins that covered him from the falling snow. Lord MacGuffin was roly-poly and looked like a bear himself; what parts of him not covered in fur were covered in hair. On Macintosh's right was Lord Dingwall, who was sporting a hat with a white ball in the center, who looked miffed as he looked around.
Merida looked around, craning her neck to see if she could locate the lords' sons in all the hubbub as the lords took to flooding the room. Elinor nodded toward Fergus, and the two of them stood up.
Fergus clapped his hands, removing his annoyed face, and yelled cheerfully, "All right, wel-welcome, lords of the clans! We-we, we, um, of course-"
"Welcome back to our castle," Elinor said.
"Yeah, welcome back!" Fergus said quickly, grinning as he looked at Elinor.
"Happy Hogmanay, and let us hope we have a good time celebrating the old year's end," Elinor said. This rose several fist pumps and cheers from each of the three clans. Lord Macintosh said, "And let's hope my boy is the one who comes back first!"
"Hey, who says your boy's going to be the one who comes back first?" Lord MacGuffin said, looking incredulous despite his fur-covered body, turning to look at Macintosh. His son, somehow shielded by his large body, could be seen looking a little concerned at another dispute between the lords.
"It's obvious, isn't it? Dark-haired lads bring more good luck than other haired kinds," Macintosh said quickly, and his son stepped out and moved his head about, his hair falling everywhere. "It's only logical."
"Yeah, because logic TOTALLY makes sense," Lord Dingwall said, scoffing.
"This is going to go that way again, isn't it?" Elinor said out of the corner to her husband as the lords started to argue once more, pounding their palms with their fists, their sons watching warily from behind them.
"Expect it to," Merida said, shaking her head, a slight frown on her face. And she thought that they had really made a breakthrough that summer. She sighed, stood up, and waving her hands about, she yelled, "Hey!"
All the lords' and clans' heads turned to Merida, who had her hands on her hips. "Why are we even goin' to do this if you all are goin' to do is argue? I mean, I want a GREAT holiday, and I don't think ANY of us can have a good one if you three argue the entire time."
She turned to the three lords' sons and said, "Do you care which one of you comes in first?"
The three of them looked at each other and shrugged, Young Macintosh looking uneasy.
"See? Why make a big deal out of somethin' that doesn't need a big deal to be made out of it?" Merida asked. She smiled and said, "I say we all have a great holiday, and that means breakin' out the wine!" She turned, grinning, to her father and said, "'Ow about that, Dad?"
Fergus, despite knowing that a lot of wine wasn't very good with this crew, didn't care when he remembered he had barely finished his breakfast. "Aye! Aye!" she said, nodding. "Get settled in your rooms and I'll break out the wine before we take a tour of the grounds!"
This made the lords back away from each other and cheer. In the madness, Merida crept over to Elinor and said, "Can we go make the bannocks now?"
Elinor looked around as Fergus followed them to the cellar where the wine barrels were kept. Good. All the men were distracted. She nodded and said, "Hurry, before they find us!"
Merida grinned and together, the two of them hurried through the door into the halls toward the kitchen. Both of them failed to notice the triplets communicating with secret smiles and hurrying after them, their main objective of the morning to secure a few fresh, hot bannocks.
I hope you liked it, and thank you my lovely readers! :)