Curious is a adjective that, when used in this comment, means "Arousing interest because of novelty or strangeness." Of course, 'curious' is also a remarkably polite word, raking right up there with the likes of 'eccentric' and 'No, your new haircut looks fine.' When one says 'eccentric' one usually means 'Bizarre beyond all reason' and when one says 'No, your new haircut looks fine' one usually means... 'Bizarre beyond all reason.' Now, upon this fine winter day, Kagen McCree's word 'curious' meant and should have been replaced by the slightly less polite phrase 'What the hell is that?'
Kagen McCree was no stranger to excessive winter decorations; on the contrary, he expected them. He had been a student of Hogwarts, and the school was not one to skimp on the garland. This being so, he was not shocked, but thankful that the village had been decked out in such a way, for it reminded him simpler times. Caught up in the sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas, Kagen had wandered the village in a state of complete peace, and, while he was careful about keeping his merriment hidden behind that stoic mask of his, he could not quite strangle the hitch from his giddyup.
The young man had been pleasantly strolling across cobblestone streets, light eyes taking in every glorious sight, when he rounded a bend and stopped dead in his tracks.
In the past, Kagen had taken a number of trips to the village. How could he not? A man had to eat. McCree had toured the winding cobblestone pathways on numerous occasions, and he thought he knew the little village quite well, however, this shop planted a wee seed of doubt in the back of the young man’s mind. It had been empty for the longest time, showing not even the slightest signs of inhabitance, and then, over night, the little establishment had burst to life.
Garland, strings of red and green beads, fat round ornaments, popcorn, fruitcake, wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows all dangled, wound, and wrapped their way around the face of the shop and circled a long rectangular window just to the left of the door. Tiny, tiny bursts of color also dotted the dangling greenery, and, taking them to be lights, Kagen leaned a bit closer to inspect them, only to have a little "light" poke its head out of the foliage and stare at him. It was a bird, small as his pinky finger and as bright as any candle.
As he leaned closer to inspect the creatures, which must have numbered in the hundreds, movement from within the shop caught his eye, and Kagen approached the large window to peek inside.
The interior of the shop was equally, if not more decked out than the exterior. Along with the assorted items that decorated the outside of the shop, the inside was alive with bright red and green creatures of all sorts, and, just beyond the window, brightly colored puppies and kittens romped and wrestled amongst one another, each one adorned with a festive golden bow.
The initial shock at seeing the shop had only just begun to fade when a grunt from behind him pulled his attention from the window, and he turned around to glance back. Across the street, lugging far more on her smallish person than seemed appropriate, a young woman all in brown was struggling with a heavy load of trunks, bags, boxes, and, balanced on the top of the pile, a round object covered with a small brown blanket.
Kagen stared at her for a long moment, watching her struggle along inch by laborious inch. This was usually the part where he ignored her and went back to his own business, after all, who was he to say that she should not be trying to heft such a load, to say that she needed a bit of help, perhaps the help of a fit, redheaded ministry worker? McCree shook his head to clear his thoughts and was about to turn to go when the woman's eyes caught his, holding him rooted in place.
McCree almost sighed aloud. He could not very well walk away now.
"Hm," was all Adaman Knaughts had to say as he crossed behind Miss Heart with a bag of books nestled preciously under one arm. The noise was as short as his pause, and at its surface became nothing more than it was- a fleeting sound met against closed lips. But to someone listening closer, it was as blatantly "Bah, Humbug" as one could get without actually reciting the old phrase.
The young scrooge would not hesitate in admitting that the tree was impressive; the decorating did not seem to be in bad taste, as some of the shop windows had soured to. Perhaps it was that Christmas meant so little to him- and most of the few things it did were not joyous- that such a forward display of holiday spirit in a town like this felt to him near offensive. He had seen such trees, bigger and more heavily laden in his past- and had his own share of more pitiful ones as well. However, both types had seemed in place; this was a little to hearty and trying for his taste.
Christmas had meant many things for the man over the course of his life. He vaguely remembered it as a homely, warm, family tradition; but, the memories were at most stale and sterile, relating him to a life he lost before he even really knew it. A few years past, it had meant a dinner slightly more glamorous than most, perhaps with the attendance of a guest or two who had, for lack of better invitation, decided to come see the disgraced family simply for the fun of keeping their noses high through all courses. In his schooling years and some after it bore the stress of attending some sort of Christmas party, and in the years following it bore the stress of having no party to attend.
He had become used to the absence of grand rooms and offensively ornate decorations, what hit him hardest now was the thought of upcoming contact with family and the gentle reminder (as all annual things had become including new years, birthdays, etc) that he was one year older and in no better place than in the year past.
So a scrooge he was, but this man needed no ghosts- past, present, or future; he carried them all with him every day, and was constantly under their badgering.
“So Mum sent you to check up on me, then?”
“How dare you! I came entirely on my own accord.”
“…Well, she may have suggested my coming, but I was already planning on it without her, or Leila’s, help.”
“I knew it! But, in reward for you grudging honesty, you can buy me an ice cream cone. I think that ought to settle matters.”
Two puffs of condensation appeared on the mullioned window of Loch Village’s local, and only, ice cream parlor as two people stood before it, staring inside, both smiling faintly. After all, it was a LeFay (and not at all a Kelly) tradition to get ice cream when it was just unashamedly unnatural to do so. The taller of the two, soft, feathery chestnut hair falling attractively across his handsome face, shoved his companion, a snort of laughter escaping, causing the window to fog even more.
“Cop on! I will do no such thing. You owe me one as a welcome to our pseudo home gift!”
“Kael…” the younger, auburn haired girl pleaded in a mock, beseeching voice, tugging at his coat sleeve like a child, her expression that of the utmost innocence. “Please?”
Staring down his nose, Kael, piercing blue eyes narrowed slightly as he took in the other, she staring just as determinedly back, finally let out a sigh, a cloud of air signaling his defeat. “Brat.” One staring at the pair, not knowing any better, would have thought him angry with her, but this routine had been done many a time. Clapping her hands happily, Arianna, laughing, threw her arms around him with a “I won! I want the chocolate peppermint swirl!” before disappearing into the parlor.
Ten minutes later, the pair, ice cream cones in hand, could be found strolling down the main road, decorations galore bedecking the surroundings. The crisp winter air, tiny flakes accompanying, swirled about them in breezes and gentle flurries. Arianna, her freckled cheeks pink from the cold air, was keeping up a running commentary as she pointed things out at random intervals, showing the assorted land marks of the town and commenting on the various passers by. “And she’s works at the Goat and Rose Inn. I’ve talked to her a few times when getting breakfast. Very nice, of course, but a bleeding Pollyanna at times. It’s sickening, especially in the early hours of the morning.” She muttered darkly, pale hued, lemongrass as she liked to call them, eyes flicking towards an older woman who just passed by them. “And that one there, on the left,” they moved towards a tiny clump of people, chatting near a lamp post, “works at the ministry. Heard him talking to a friend about it once. Magical Law Enforcement, if I’m not mistaken.”
“You are. Derek Jacobs of Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.” Corrected her elder brother, scratching at his nose absently. “The bloke on the right is from Magical Law Enforcement.” As they passed the group, a few of the people nodded their heads or raised their hands at Kael in greeting.
“You know them from the office?”
“From the few times a year I’m there,” He chortled, having just waved in return, “Yes.”
The Christmas tree loomed before them, in the middle of town, glistening with faeries, lights, and snow. Licking the ice cream grasped in her hand, the younger LeFay smiled up at it, some of the shimmering reflected in her eyes. “It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?”
“They decorated too early. Everyone knows you decorate two days before and leave it at that.” Kael replied, but he too looked just as happy, if not in features alone, as his sister. It was amazing how such a small act as transforming a town to look like something out a story book could produce such results in people, even the snidest of the lot. The sudden return to child like innocence and awe as one could stand there, mouth agape in gleeful wonder.
With a sly grin, Arianna glanced up, asking, “Dingle doesn’t have even a bauble up yet, then?”
“Nah,” He replied, proudly, throwing an arm around her. “And neither will we. Damn the competiton, I say!”
“I’m sure Eimear and Leila will agree.”
“They’re coming too?” Getting only a devious grin in return, Arianna sighed, but looked pleased all the same. “It’s going to be another insane Christmas after all.”