Advent Calendar, Christmas Day

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas Eve yesterday. To those celebrating today; I hope you’ll have a lovely celebration. Thank you for following this calendar of mine to the end. Here is the final part.

25

They had stayed up for hours, watching the light of the Star outside. Naked, they had stayed in bed together, awaiting the time of separation, without voicing it out loud. Settia had told him not to think about it, not to let it ruin anything, so Mizuki had grit his teeth, and given himself over to soft kisses, warm embraces, ripples of honest, happy laughter, and endless supplies of sweets and sweet words alike. When they fell asleep in each other’s arms, Mizuki had managed to push aside the dread and sorrow. Yet, he’d awoken in the middle of the night, fearful. He’d grabbed a pen, and jotted down his feelings, doubts and realizations, but more importantly, his thanks. The note he’d stuck in an envelope, which he sealed with tape, before writing Settia’s name on it. Afterwards, he’d gone back to sleep, nuzzling close to the man he had yet to understand to the fullest.
Time was running out, he knew it.

***

When he woke up, it was Christmas day. Something felt different. There was a chill in the room, and he immediately felt worried, sitting upright to check if Settia—
The spot next to him was empty. The reason he felt cold was because he was alone.
Mizuki pulled the covers tightly around himself, and touched upon the solitude that washed over him.
“You didn’t even say goodbye..?” he said quietly.
It had only been nineteen days since they met. For nineteen days, Settia had been in his life. And in that short amount of time, he had managed to change so many things. But the mystery still remained.
Mizuki didn’t know what to believe, if it had all been a dream or…
There was glitter on the pillow, he noticed, and on his own skin. Something twinkled over by the table. He wrapped the sheet around himself like a robe, and stood from the bed.
A note, scribbled in neat handwriting, glitter glinting towards him from the paper, and the ink itself.
“Since you don’t have a fire place, I put the stocking on the radiator.”
He looked towards the space heater, and found a large, red stocking. Reaching inside, he found candies, and tons of photos. Of the two of them, from last night; of them smiling, kissing, making faces…
He plopped down on the floor, browsing each and every one, trying to figure out how Settia had managed to print them. It was true they had taken photos, but that had been with a disposable camera.
He turned the photos over. Messages were scribbled all over the back sides: “Memories”, “Hey look, magic?”, “Thank you”, “I love you”.
Mizuki swallowed hard.
He dug into the stocking again, and pulled out a note. It seemed to have been written in a hurry.
“Dearest Mizuki. Thank you for everything. Thank you for accepting me into your life, and for helping me with my mission. You’re wonderful, don’t ever forget that. The greatest gift I could ever receive is to have spent this time with you. So thank you, once again. I love you.
– Settia.”

His eyes burned. Hastily, Mizuki dried them with the back of his hand. He missed him so much already. And yet… there was a strange calm inside of him.
His eyes fell on the table again. He realized the letter he had written in the middle of the night was missing. Something that looked like red petals was scattered on the tabletop; their scent rose towards him as he scooted closer. The ceramic pot was standing there, but it wasn’t empty. It was full of soil, and he realized there was something growing in it; a plant which seemed to be all stem, no petals or leaves.
And then he noticed that the encyclopedia about the flowers was open, seemingly turned to a random page, but with Settia’s red ribbon; the one he had worn that first night, draped as a bookmark across the pages. He peered over the book, and read out loud:
‘With care, the poinsettia can be induced to reflower after the initial display seen when purchased. Prune the plant of its colorful leaves, keep it in a moderately lit place, minimal watering and well-drained soil. The oldest known Poinsettia lived for 20 years…’
He took the ribbon between his fingers, and pressed it to his chest, where his heart pounded agitatedly.
“Thank you…” he whispered, leading the silk to his lips, kissing it softly.

~終~

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