Hello all! Another Holiday-Fic-A-Thon story! This was...way too much fun to write!
Characters: Rosa. All of Baron.
Something was wrong. The castle had not looked like this mere hours before.
Kain surveyed the hallway outside his room, wondering when the wall had been covered in garlands.
It must have been when he was sleeping.
The rest of the castle looked much the same, but it wasn't until he reached one of the main halls that he stopped in true surprise.
The entire room was filled with holly, garlands, wreaths, candles, and a rather large tree.
Kain raised an eyebrow; he'd never seen the castle this decorated before, and it looked as though servants were still putting up decorations.
Kain heard a pattering of footsteps from behind him and glanced over his shoulder to see Ceodore running down the hallway, eyes wide in panic.
"Run!" he hissed as he raced by. Kain frowned and watched him disappear down a staircase. He wasn't going to worry about his comment since the prince had a way of being dramatic.
Kain followed the same path at a much more sedate pace, only to be nearly run over by Cecil, who had a similar look on his face as Ceodore moments before. The king stopped and glanced around before looking at Kain, "Ceodore-"
"He went that way," Kain replied, gesturing off to the left.
Cecil sighed in annoyance, "He is not getting out of here without me,"
"May I ask what exactly is going on? Ceodore is running as if a demon wall is chasing him and I don't remember quite this much…cheer being present in the castle." Kain explained, looking around.
Cecil sighed again, "Rosa."
"Rosa. This is her doing." his friend explained, dropping his voice as he added, "She likes the holidays."
Kain frowned, "Obviously. I don't remember that, either."
"Mm…" Cecil looked around and then leaned to whisper conspiratorially, "Ceodore has the right idea. We need to leave. Now."
When Kain gave him a funny look he added with urgency, "Trust me!"
He didn't wait for his friend to follow him and set off at a clipped pace, mentioning as he went, "Ceodore is not leaving me behind. If I have to fake another world war to get out of here, I will."
"That seems…extreme." Kain commented.
Cecil whirled around to face him, "You haven't been here for years. Rosa is rather…peculiar about how she likes things done, and how we should celebrate this time of year."
Kain was slightly amused, "So we're running from her?"
"Yes." Cecil said unashamed, nodding.
Kain pointed to the other end of the room, "I see Ceodore,"
"Ceodore!" Cecil called, drawing the attention of the prince. He looked startled, and put a finger to his lips as he ran over, "Shh! I don't want mom to know I'm here!"
"You would leave me behind?" Cecil hissed.
The boy gave him a look, "Um, yes, if it means avoiding mom. She's threatening to make me her cookie tester again and she wants us to put up the holly!"
Cecil recoiled, "Damn,"
Kain watched them whisper frantically to one another, slightly amused, but then Ceodore glanced at him, "Don't think your off the hook either, Kain. She'll be after you too. She needs people to fluff wreaths and put ribbons on the sixteen foot tree in the main hallway!"
"I saw the tree. I'm amazed you got it in here," Kain mentioned.
Cecil sighed, "I don't want to talk about it,"
Ceodore glanced around, and before he could bolt off, his father grabbed his arm, "You can't leave, not without me!"
"I don't want to eat dozens of cookies!" he prince retorted, eyes wide.
"And I don't want to be covered in glitter again, but it's too late for that!" Cecil hissed back.
Ceodore winced, "She brought out the tinsel?"
"Even more then last year!"
Kain couldn't help but chuckle, even as they both glared at him.
"We have to go," Ceodore said, prodded Kain to move onward, "Before she finds us and spreads the cheer. She's promising caroling for later."
The dragoon was pulled along only to be stopped as Cecil skidded to a halt inches from the door that would lead them further into the castle, towards the airship hanger.
"Crystals," his friend muttered before plastering a fake smile on his face.
Rosa had spotted them in her bright, garish sweater marred with symbols of the season and her hair was tied back in a large red ribbon.
She waved and hurried over, a wreath in one hand, "I'm so glad to see you! Isn't the castle starting to look amazing?" she asked, squeaking like a little child that was excited, "I simply love this time of year! I think that, after the castle is done of course, that the whole city should be decorated like this. Oh, and snow! We simply must have snow! If it doesn't happen naturally, we should contact Mysidia and see about getting some mages in…"
She trailed off and stared at Cecil, eyes bright as if she expected him to reply. Kain nudged him and he blinked, forcing a smile, "Ha, yes, I'm sure the Elder would love that…"
"Who doesn't love snow?" Rosa replied, smile growing even wider, "And Christmas. Who doesn't like Christmas?!"
Ceodore laughed nervously, "Yes, who indeed?"
"Oh Kain!" Rosa said as if she had just now noticed him.
He flinched, suddenly worried at her overly happy tone, as she grabbed his arm and explained, "I need somebody tall to put up another garland."
"More?" he asked, surprised, only to be shushed as she continued, "Cid was supposed to help with those but then he had some emergency with his new airship." Rosa flashed her most charming smile, but for once, Kain was unmoved.
In fact, he wanted very much to switch places with Cid. That man had the right idea.
"So, come with me and I'll tell you what we need done!" the queen finished, dragging him along with her as she started to hum a tradition carol.
Kain looked hopefully over his shoulder for a rescue, but Ceodore just let out a breath of relief while Cecil gave him a small wave, calling, "Welcome back!"
The look on his face was anything but sympathetic.
And then it hit him; it was payback, revenge, retribution.
"Cecil is so dead for this," Kain thought, trying not to grimace as Rosa shoved a roll of red ribbon into his hands and began handing out instructions as she pointed to the terraces.
Hours later Kain threw the rest of the red ribbon at a passing servant and declared he was done. This was of course after Rosa had left to go inspect the holly and pinecones that had been placed in the guestrooms.
He was a dragoon; he'd help save the world. He refused to be degraded into such annoying tasks as holiday decorator.
Rosa only made things worse with how terribly picky she was. The ribbons couldn't be wrinkled or bunched. They had to be smooth and visible through the sprigs of pine, but not too visible where it would detract from the green. There had to be an equal ratio of pine to holly in the garlands and wreaths and heavens forbid if there was any brown on the greens.
Everyone grumbled complaints as they worked, and their unhappiness made Kain at least feel like he wasn't being unjust.
Kain stomped his way towards the nearest entrance for the castle. He was not above leaving for another seventeen years if it meant avoiding this hell.
But before he could exit, Cecil caught up with him and grinned, "Are all the ribbons up on the tree?"
"I'm done, if that's what you're asking." Kain replied, glaring at him.
But then he noticed that an abundance of pine needles were clinging to Cecil, and he raised an eyebrow.
"What happened to you?"
He looked down and then sighed, "Oh, we apparently needed fresh pine springs because we needed a certain kind of tree because the others don't smell like Christmas."
"So she sent you out to get some?" Kain asked, surprised.
Cecil shrugged, "No, but I offered to go. It got me out of here for a little bit."
"Smart." his friend muttered.
"No smart was Cid. He took off in an airship feigning that he needed to perform maintenance in the air." the king said.
"Bastard." Kain muttered.
"Indeed." Cecil agreed, "And Ceodore slipped out on helping upstairs, so I've been trying to find him. If I have to be here, so does he."
Kain growled under his breath, looking around the room with distaste.
"Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year," Cecil reminded him with a fake smile.
Kain frowned and replied dryly, "So I've heard,"
"Just wait until Rosa's mother shows up." the king continued sarcastically, "Then the holidays truly begin."
Kain snorted, "Suddenly I'm missing my mountain,"
They couldn't continue their conversation because Rosa rounded the corner carrying a tray of cookies, "Ah! There you two are! But where's Ceodore? He really should be helping."
She waved the tray in front of them, "Cookie?"
"Um…" Cecil said, looking desperately at Kain for an excuse.
Suddenly he felt nostalgic; he was always the one that came up with excuses for the pair whenever they got into trouble.
"Cookies sound lovely, but I recall Ceodore was saying he was going to help you with that." Kain explained.
It wasn't a complete lie, but at the moment, Kain didn't care even if it was.
Her face lit up, "Good! He should be helping me put up decorations, but I suppose he could tell me what he thought about these cookies as well."
She smiled and sighed dreamily, "I just love Christmas."
Cecil and Kain exchanged a glance and then she turned back, scowling at them, "Well? What are you doing standing around? We have more decorations to put up. And find Ceodore for me."
Rosa turned to direct one of the maids who apparently wasn't 'fluffing' the wreath correctly and they turned to flee down the hallway.
"Did you just sentence my son to Rosa's holiday wrath?" Cecil asked.
"Do you want to eat Rosa's cookies? She's a horrible cook!" Kain retorted, "I thought fast. Self preservation."
Cecil frowned, "I suppose…well, anyway, he did run off earlier…"
Kain nodded, glad that they were about to ditch an overly jolly Rosa on the often glum teenager.
"Remember that time she gave us food poisoning with toast?" Cecil reminisced.
Kain shot him a look, "Yes, and that was your fault because you assured me there was no way someone could mess up bread."
"So, I was wrong. Are you still mad about that?"
"Are you still mad about me betraying you?"
Cecil made a face, "No, of course not."
"Really?" Kain replied disbelievingly, "You left me behind with Miss Holiday cheer!"
His friend grinned and pat him on the back as they walked down the hall, "Self preservation."
The dragoon rolled his eyes, but said nothing. He couldn't be mad; they were doing the same thing now.
"But-" Ceodore protested, only to be cut off by his father. "You don't have a choice."
The prince whined, "But mom's cookies are the worst! You can't leave me, your own son-your only son, to such a fate!"
Cecil just stared impassively at him, "Nice try, but no. We're a family, and that means that we all have to be here."
Kain made a face, and Ceodore crossed his arms, muttering, "Golbez doesn't have to be here."
"Lucky bastard." Kain muttered. Cecil just sighed, "No, but if he were here, Rosa would probably draft him, too."
"But cookies?!" Ceodore said, shaking his head, "Isn't the Tower of Babil glowing? Or is someone stealing the Crystals?"
"I wish." Cecil replied with a sigh, "But no. It's Christmas."
The door they were standing in front of was flung open and a maid came running out, sobbing, while inside Rosa complained, "No one understands how to properly tie bows!"
She glanced at them and smiled, "Hello! Come in and try some cookies. I need to know which ones I should make more of."
Ceodore swallowed and Cecil pushed him into the room and over to the table filled with sweets.
Rosa stared at him and he laughed nervously, taking his time to pick some out.
Kain looked around the rest of the room, squinting at the amount of decorations.
Ceodore chewed a cookie slowly as Rosa peppered him with questions about how is tasted.
"It was…" he swallowed, "…interesting."
"Um…no," he replied, smiling a little, "Sugar is not what it needs."
Kain noticed a letter on a nearby table and picked it up, "What's this?"
Rosa looked over her shoulder as she wove another ribbon into her display, "That? I don't know. It came today. I didn't open it yet."
Kain made a face and opened it up, reading the short note inside and trying to keep a straight face.
"Don't let Rosa see this! I've got the airship in the field outside. Make up a reason to leave. We're getting the hell outta here!
Kain coughed lightly, "Oh…look," he said awkwardly, "…trouble."
Cecil gave him a funny look and Rosa spun around, "What? Trouble?"
"Yes." Kain replied, crumpling the letter as she reached for it, "Trouble in…" he trailed off and Cecil jumped in, "Mist!"
Rosa looked instantly worried, and Kain shook his head, "Not too much trouble, just…something…that we should probably….go help with."
Cecil nodded slowly, "Yes. Indeed. Help with."
Ceodore looked up hopefully from the cookies, and Rosa frowned, "Oh…but…Christmas…"
"Mist isn't that far away," Cecil said, shrugging.
Kain nodded, "Exactly. We'll be back…later."
They both nodded and Rosa sighed, "Well, I suppose if you must go…do you need my help?"
"No!" they both exclaimed before Kain added, "I'm sure it's nothing serious, or else we would…tell you…and…have you come."
Ceodore stood up straight, "Do you need my help?"
"No." they both deadpanned, and Cecil grinned at him, "You should stay here and help your mother."
Rosa smile sweetly at her son and he laughed nervously again, "Oh…of course."
"We'll be back before you know it." Cecil assured them both as Kain inched to the door, wanting to bolt before the queen asked anymore questions.
Once they closed the door and were on their way, Kain handed the crumpled letter to his friend.
"Cid." he confirmed, "Glad he didn't just leave us here."
Cecil rolled his eyes, "I would have had his head if he had."
"Should we have left Ceodore?" Kain asked.
The king shrugged, "Self preservation."
"Merry Christmas," Kain joked, chuckling, as Cecil nodded and grinned at him, "And a happy new year."
We all know somewhere who is like this during the holidays. (You know who you are!) Where the decorations must be many and perfect? And we also know someone who is like Kain, who really just doesn't care.
This was...a lot of fun to write! And I was glad to write something that actually made it seem like Cecil and Kain were friends. Because, honestly, in-game it never made much sense to me...come on SquareEnix, make me believe it.
And ditching everything on Ceodore? Of course.
Anyway, I'm working on other stories, including LaF, but I'm not sure when I'll uploading anything. Until next time, enjoy!