Advent Calendar, part 20



“Thank god it’s Friday!”  Noel exclaimed, throwing  his arms up into the air as the two of them came out of the university building.
“What, you’re hungry?” Mizuki chuckled.
“No, I meant that quite literally. I’m so glad it’s Friday. I don’t want to do anything this weekend but laze about.”
“Sounds good,” Mizuki agreed. Their classes had dragged on today, seemingly lasting forever and being much harder than usual. They were stepping up the pace, readying for the exams come January. It was already beginning to get dark out when they emerged from their last class.
“What about you? Got any plans?”
“Not really…” Mizuki was wondering about that. After last weekend, he was certain Settia would be ready to ambush him in one way or other.
Something like anxious excitement budded inside of him. He had really enjoyed what they had been doing last weekend, though it had been hard to go back home and carry on afterwards.
“Mizuki!” he was snapped out of his thoughts by a voice calling out to him from the other end of the snow covered lawn.
“Who?”  Noel looked confused.
“My friend, the one I told you about.”
“Oh,” Noel’s lip curved upwards. “Where’s he from anyway? His name is—“
Mizuki ignored the question, upping his pace as he strode through the snow, towards the redhead, waving excitedly at him. Noel followed suit.
“Settia!” he finally reached where the other man was standing. “What are you doing here? You shouldn’t be out in the cold!”
“I’m fine!” Settia gesticulated towards the huge scarf wrapped around his neck and shoulders, the earmuffs and gloves he was wearing. “I dug through your closet. It’s fine. I feel pretty warm actually.”
“You were really sick you know…” Mizuki muttered, looking down at his boots, feeling silly for having this discussion in front of Noel.
“I’m fine now. Thanks to you.”
Mizuki sputtered, flushing furiously, and avoided his friend’s gaze as best he could. “Nevermind! What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to see you.”
There was no stopping him Mizuki realized.
“I guess I’ll leave you two alone?” Noel nudged Mizuki in the ribs. “Have fun.”
“You don’t have to—“
“It’s fine. He came here to see you after all. See you Monday!” Noel waved at the two of them, making his way off across the lawn again.
“I didn’t mean to chase him off.” Settia said apologetically.
“Don’t mind him,” Mizuki shrugged. “He thinks that we’re-“
He stopped himself.
“That we’re?”
Mizuki bit his lip. His face felt hot in the cool air. It had happened again yesterday:  The meeting of their lips, the tenderness that seeped out and enveloped them.
“Are we..?”
Settia placed his arm around Mizuki’s shoulder, leading him away from campus. “Come,” he said. “We have things to do.”
“What are we doing?” Settia’s arm was warm on his shoulder, but he still worried about him. Settia shouldn’t be out in the cold.
“I just want to show you something. Walk with me.”

They walked a couple of blocks, almost without talking. All the while, Settia’s arm rested on Mizuki’s shoulders. They walked closely together on the crowded sidewalk as they came into a more central part of the city. People glanced at them, but Settia didn’t seem to notice, and so Mizuki didn’t bother with it either. He felt safe, and somehow relaxed. Settia still felt warm, although his cheeks were flushing in the chilly air.
They came to a park, in the outskirts of a shopping district. There were a lot of people coming to and fro, but unlike the rest of the area, there wasn’t much illumination. Mizuki spotted some wooden structures here and there, probably sales booths he figured. They couldn’t very well be very selling much when there were no lights or signs of any kind anywhere.
Settia stopped in the middle of the open field. “Here we are,” he said.
“Here? What’s to see here?”
“Just wait,” Settia said patiently.
They waited for what seemed like ages. Mizuki was starting to feel cold from standing still so long, and kept stamping his feet.
“Are you cold?”
Settia didn’t even wait for his response before coming up behind Mizuki, wrapping his arms around him, and resting his head on Mizuki’s shoulder. “Better?”
“Mmh.” He answered softly, gripping the hands on that were pressed against his stomach.
“It should be just about….Now.”
And as soon as Settia had uttered those words, the entire park lit up in hues of gold, silver and blue; lights were everywhere, illuminating what seemed to be an entire, authentic village, with all kinds of sales stands, activities and decorations. Further out on the field, an ice skating rink seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. Bells were sounding from somewhere, and Mizuki realized a sleigh, pulled by a magnificent white horse was approaching, torches lit in the front, leading the way for a procession of adults and children, dressed in Santa hats, holding candles and torches.
They came to stand next to the sleigh when it came to a stop, and a man who was dressed like someone out of a Dickens novel came out.
“I want to welcome you all-“ he started, and Mizuki realized the crowd around them had thickened. “To the opening of our Christmas market, which will be open until New Year’s Eve.”
His voice drowned in the noise of cheers and claps, but Mizuki managed to understand enough to make out that the people with the lights were a choir, and that they were to mark the opening by performing.
“How did you know…?” he whispered.
“I have my ways.” Settia whispered back, his lips brushing the shell of Mizuki’s ear, pulling him even closer against himself.
The lights, and the songs, the atmosphere and the snow creaking beneath their feet… It was like something out of a film, but there was nothing fake or manufactured about it. Mizuki stared and stared, eyes wide, glowing in the dark. Settia held him tight.
He didn’t know what was what anymore. But he wanted to stay like this.
“It’s like magic…” he whispered, clutching Settia’s glove clad hand.
“Christmas is magical.” Settia whispered back, smiling.



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