A knock at the door…
“Am I early?” Gryphon stood at the door holding a basket of fruit. Ibbiana smiled and shook her head, her feathers ruffling in the gentle breeze the open door invited.
“You’re right on time. Come on in.” She stepped back and swept her arm back. Gryphon stepped into the cool room and looked around. A tall woman stood in the kitchen chopping onions with a serene look on her face. Gryphon smiled and followed Ibbiana over.
“Hey Ali, how are you?”
Alessandria looked up from her task with a broad smile. “Fine thank you, Ryph, and you?”
“Tired, you know how it is.”
If it were possible, Alessandria’s smile grew more. “I do indeed.”
“How is your mother?” Ibbiana piped up, her eyebrows drawn together.
Ali sighed, “The same as ever. Can you believe she expected me to have dinner with them today?”
“Even after you found the poison?”
“Void forbid that’s rough,” said Gryphon as a knock sounded at the door. She frowned. “Who else is coming?”
Ibbiana answered as she walked over. “Kate and Elliot, and Alex and Ben.”
“Someone talking about us?” Alex grinned as she walked in. She set her crossbow down just inside the door. Ben followed in his quiet manner, setting his staff beside her bow and shucking off his shoes.
Before Ibbiana could close the door two more people arrived hand in hand. “We aren’t late, are we?”
“No, not at all.” Ibbiana turned to Alessandria and asked, “how far away is dinner?”
“About five minutes, come and sit down all of you.”
“Gladly, I’m starving!” Alex grinned as she sat, plonking down into the nearest chair. Ben followed close behind, sticking close to his hunter as gatherers tended to.
Everyone else followed taking up the spaces nearest to them. Only Alessandria remained standing as she carved the large pork roast, placing each slice into a serving dish already filled with roasted vegetables. She carried the overburdened dish to the table and set it down with a warm wish of “Merry Christmas”. Wasting no time the group dug in, dishing their meal up with gusto.
“Cheers Ali,” said Elliot with a hearty grin as he spooned a serve of peas and carrots onto his plate.
There was little talk as they ate, the task of filling their bellies taking precedence.
Once finished Ibbiana lead everyone over to the tree, along with the presents nestled beneath. “Merry Christmas everyone,” she said grinning as she snagged the first gift. “Alessandria,” she read off the label before tossing it her way.
Alessandria tore the paper open to reveal a ruby red collar, with a silver buckle and black tag that read Ali. “It’s beautiful,” she said with a thoughtful smile. “I think…” she looked around. “Kate.”
Katherine acknowledged the guess with a nod. “Yup, I thought your other self could do with a little more luxury.”
“Thank you, I love it.” She ran her fingers over the red fabric.
“Right Gryphon, your turn.” Ibbiana tossed over the next present, a small silver and blue gift that Gryphon caught on the fly one handed.
The corners of her mouth turned up just slightly as she ripped it open to find a stone pendant of green and red with silver fixings. She pulled it over her head, sweeping her hair back with a grin. “I love it, what is the stone?”
Alex spoke up with a grin, “it’s dragonstone.” Everyone laughed. “It is supposed to help the wearer develop new habits and let go of the old. Oh and its meant to boost self confidence.”
Katherine leant over and tried to snag it. “You do not need anymore of that, miss.”
Gryphon swatted her hand away with a laugh. “Mine.”
“Typical bloody dragon.” Katherine teased. Gryphon poked her tongue out, pulling a face and causing another peel of laughter from Alex and Katherine.
Ibbiana tossed a box that rattled over to Elliot, interrupting the banter. He carefully peeled the tape back to reveal a shoe box. He lifted the edge to find, as expected, a new pair of shoes. “Brilliant!” He exclaimed. Pulling them out of the box and holding them up to his feet to check the size.
“They’re meant to mold to the the feet better. For better balance and grip and all that stuff,” explained Ben.
“Thanks man. I wasn’t sure about this whole secret santa thing, but this is boss!” Elliot grinned as he laced up the new shoes. “They fit perfectly. No more missing my jump because my shoes slipped, aye babe?”
“Don’t blame the shoes for you misjudging the gap.” Katherine teased with a smile. He leant over to kiss her and almost got a box to the face.
“I’m so sorry!” Exclaimed Ibbiana, hands over her mouth in horror. “I was aiming for Kate!”
“You probably shouldn’t have thrown that,” said Gryphon wincing.
Kate opened the gift to reveal a delicate set of long silver pins. She ran her finger down the length of one of them. “They’re beautiful.” Her words came out a whisper.
“They’re duel purposed. If in need they can be used to put your hair up, as you’re more than aware,” she said indicating the elaborate hair style Katherine was sporting. “But they’re also sharpened to a point and make an excellent weapon. I myself have a similar pair, I can assure you of how useful they are in a tight spot. I thought in light of recent events that they might come in handy.”
“Thank you Gryphon, they’re perfect!” She reached out and gave Gryphon a hug.
“Next up is… oh, it’s me.” Ibbiana went to put aside her present and reach for another only to have her actions met with a chorus of boos.
“Open your gift, Ibbie. You don’t have to wait until last.” Alessandria insisted.
A shy smile flashed over her face before Ibbiana acquiesced and unwrapped her gift, her wings revealing her embarrassment in they way her feathers ruffled. The wrapping fell open. Ibbiana ran her hands over the black mass of fabric that lay bundled before her. Lifting it up, the thick fabric tumbled down. Ibbiana stood to get the full effect of the gift. She held out the cloak, a look of rapture on her face. She looked around the room, her gratitude shining out from her bright eyes. Alessandria stood and helped Ibbiana to drape the cloak over her wings and tied it at her throat. It fell to the floor on her slight frame.
“To keep you warm at the Acadamy.” She said quietly.
“Thank you.” Ibbiana’s voice was hoarse as she spoke. She coughed. “Ben, I think this is yours,” she said picking up a small gold wrapped gift.
“Merry Christmas, Ibbie,” Ben said by way of thanks, reaching to take the outstretched gift. His hands were quick as he opened the small parcel. Within the gold lay a thick leather band lined with metal pins. He pulled one of the small pins out and twirled it between his fingers. “No one will keep me out with these,” he said with a smile. “Thank you, Ibbie.”
“How did you know it was me?” Ibbiana asked, surprised.
“Deduction,” he said simply. “You and Elliot are the remaining two gift givers, and Elliot isn’t nearly so thoughtful as this.”
“Hey!” Protested Elliot, shooting his friend the finger.
“Just telling it like it is, Elliot.” Ben flashed a grin, granting a rare glimpse into his dry humour.
“With different size picks, they can fit any lock. They’re meant to have a life-time guarantee.”
“I suppose that depends on how long you last out there.” Ben said, somewhat somberly.
“That just leaves you, Alex,” said Ibbiana, drawing attention back to the task of gift giving by hefting up the last, and by far the largest gift under the tree.
Alex held out her hands eagerly. Ibbiana tossed it over, almost hitting Alex in the face in the process. “Girl, you need to work on your aim,” she said before turning her attention to her gift. Paper dropped to the floor in pieces as she tore through it to get to the dark pack beneath.
“I saw your bag was starting to fall to bits,” explained Elliot. He launched into a detailed review of the specs the bag held, the secret pockets and compartments that Alex could store things in. Alex’s smile grew broader with each word Elliot spoke.
“Thanks man, this is perfection on a stick.”
Ben frowned and opened his mouth, only to close it again. It was Christmas afterall.
“Merry Christmas guys.” Said Ibbiana warmly.
“Merry Christmas,” they chorused back.
This week, all over the world, we celebrated Christmas. Given how sick I’ve been lately, I didn’t have any posts pre-written but I did have an idea. I wanted to write a Christmas scene where all of my MCs gathered together to celebrate Christmas with a roast and secret santa. What do you think? Which present would you have enjoyed the most, do you think?
For me, I already own the pendant (and I love it), so my choice would be that beautiful cloak that was given to Ibbiana.
Merry Christmas to you all, thanks for reading.
As always, go off and write something!