Title: 'Twas the Night…
Author: A. Magiluna Stormwriter
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 21 December 2014
Fandom: Light, Water, Muses
Word Count: 975
Summary: It's Christmas Eve at the ranch and Anastasia's feeling the time…
Warnings: No standard warnings apply…
Website: ShatterStorm Productions – Light, Water, Muses
Archive: ShatterStorm Productions only…all others ask for permission & we'll see…
Feedback: Constructive criticism is always welcome.
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DW14
Author’s Disclaimer: These characters belong to ShatterStorm Productions and are the creations of A. Magiluna Stormwriter and Shatterpath. They also belong in the Light, Water, Muses universe, tho’ this is a standalone within the whole of that universe. "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" belongs to Major Henry Livingston, Jr., as was used in a transformative way for entertainment not monetary purposes.
Author’s Notes: I really don't write for Anastasia and Tessa enough. Guess that'll be a good goal for 2015, won't it? Nothing overly specific in this story, but that's okay. Shatterpath and I really wanted to do a filk of "'Twas The Night Before Christmas", but we ended up unable to get it done in time. That's definitely on the list for the next calendar. So this story ended up being my homage to that idea.. And thank you to Major Henry Livingston, Jr., for writing the original tale that inspired this story.
Dedication: My muses, as usual…
Beta: Shatterpath, so all remaining errors are my fault.
"'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the ranch,
Not a creature was stirring, not even by chance;
The stockings were hung--
"Nah, I can't do this," Dace says with a sheepish grin. "Sorry, guys, you're just going to have to deal with me being an idiot and not memorizing the changes I worked out."
"Not nice to say that word, Unca Dace," Cubby says with a slight scowl. "You should give Fawn a quarter."
Dace chuckles as Fawn's hand is held out expectantly, and digs in her pocket to pull out the coin for her. "Yeah, I suppose it's not a nice word, is it? Hang on! Why are you pointing that out instead of your sister? Is she cutting you in on her swear words profits?"
Fawn snorts derisively as the quarter disappears into her pocket. This makes all of us laugh. I lean into Tessa's side, trying to cover a yawn. I have no idea how Dace and the children can be so wound up.
"Are you okay?" Tessa whispers, her lips brushing my forehead in the process. "Do we need to head back to our bungalow?"
"Not yet, but soon. I can either stay up with them tonight or be up and coherent when they wake in the morning."
She nods and rubs my back gently. I close my eyes for a moment, taking in all of the sounds around us. The children are clamoring for Dace to tell the story. Behind that, I can hear random snatches of conversation among the various couples in the room. My family is here. Yes, we're missing a few people -- KC felt too old to make the trip, even if she wouldn't admit it, stating that someone needed to stay behind and keep an eye on Spades territory; Jesse and Tiny rarely stray from Chicago these days, and the fact that they're not actually allowed to step foot in the compound only makes it worse -- but the majority of my family lives right here on the ranch. Even Sylvia, Davie, and Nicole came to spend the holidays with us.
"Gramma Stasia?" Emily's soft question pulls me from my thoughts.
"Yes, my dear?"
"Uncle Dace is being silly. I know it's getting late, but would you read us the story? You do it the best of everyone here."
"That's because she's the oldest, Em'ly," Fawn says and rolls her eyes. "She's had longer to 'member it."
"Be careful, Fawn," Emily replies. "Santa can still hear you and put you on the naughty list."
The younger girl's eyes grow wide and she claps her hands over her mouth, sending all of us into fits of laughter. As the others calm down again, I beckon all of the children closer, and they all scramble to fan out around my and Tessa's feet.
"I'd be honored to tell the story, but I may have to make a few adjustments. Unlike Dace over there," I say as I wink at my successor, "I remember some of her changes, but will retool them to suit me."
Dace sticks her tongue out at me, then moves to sit with the kids on the floor like the big kid she really is. Once she does it, I watch the other adults begin to do the same. Some of them scoop up the youngest of the children to sit in their laps.
"'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the ranch
Not a creature was stirring, not even by chance;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And Tessa in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap…"
As I continue to tell the story, my eyes fall to each person sitting in front of me. Each couple and family exudes so much love that it makes my heart ache at the sight of it. These people have made me realize just how much I need my family. I pause as little Wynnie toddles out of her mother's lap to come curl up in mine. I rock her gently as she begins to suck her thumb, eyes heavy with exhaustion.
Only the oldest of the children are still awake by the time I finish with the final line of "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"
"Thank you, Gramma Stasia," Emily says with a sleepy smile and moves to take her baby sister from my lap. "I should get my babies to our blanket fort now, so Santa can come and bring us presents."
I press a kiss to her forehead, then to Wynnie's. "You're very welcome, my dear girl. I hope Santa brings you all lots of lovely presents." As she walks away, I squeeze Tessa's hand and begin to stand. "I'd stay to help get all of the children settled, but these old bones need their rest if I'm to be up at the crack of dawn to see what Santa brought everyone."
With a round of goodbye hugs from the others, as well as kisses to as many of the little heads as I can, Tessa finally leads me off to the relative peace of our bungalow. I'm silent as we undress and crawl into bed. She kisses me sweetly before pulling my head down to her chest.
"Rest now, Anastasia," she says softly, fingers combing through my hair. "The alarm will go off far earlier than either of us cares for, and the children will want Gramma Stasia to be there for the opening."
"Yes," I reply around a yawn, snuggling closer into her side. "I love you, pet. Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas, my love."