Happy Holidays! Favorite Yule Scene!
This is my favorite Yule scene from Heart Fate:
Celta Thursday, Fav Yule scene: Lahsin opened the door and Tinne Holly saw her FamDog, Strother, trot in. For reasons known only to them, a big, red ribbon tied in a bow was around his neck. He looked ridiculous, but Tinne kept his mouth shut
He also realized that he didn't have a gift for the dog. He reached to the Turquoise House for a bag of cat treats he hid from Ilexa. Since she was still loafing at T'Holly Residence, engorged on Yule feast, she'd never know that he'd given her treats to Strother. He'd replace them before she found out. With effort, he ported them to a spot behind the pillows.
The dog sneezed, blinked watery eyes. **Too much smoke smell in here.**
With a wave and a little regret, Tinne banished the fragrant spirals of incense, another bit of the ritual atmosphere that had blanketed him and Lahsin together, gone.
"I have gifts," Lahsin said, looking at him and Strother.
The dog sat, his tongue lolled out.
"I do, too," Tinne said. "Gifts between Fam and person, then man and animal first."
Strother wagged his tail and gave an approving look to Tinne. **My first gift.** He sat straight and watched as Lahsin brought out something wrapped in softleaves. She put it in front of Strother and he pawed at it until a string of beads fell out.
**A Fam collar!** Strother sounded thrilled.
Tinne studied it. The necklace was composed of bright dried berries and larger rosehips of orange and red, accented with dark seeds and a nut or two, all strung on thread.
Lahsin untied the bow and fastened the collar around the dog's neck. "It looks good against your gray fur."
Sure wasn't the emeralds Tinne's FamCat, Ilexa, had demanded.
But Lahsin had made it with her own hands and that was more important than emeralds, though Ilexa might not think so.
"I've spellshielded the string. It will only break if you get caught and can't get free."
The dog's brows lowered.
"I'll make you a new one if that happens," Lahsin said.
Strother grinned. He trotted to the door and brought a large mass of gray-brown something gently held between his jaws. He dropped it at Lahsin's feet and sat with a doggie grin.
"Mushrooms! Prized truffles! Ooh."
Wagging his tail, Strother said, **I have heard that people consider these tasty.**
"We do," Lahsin assured him. "I haven't seen these in the estate, where did you find them?"
Strother's chest puffed out with pride. **Saw little ones near my den in the glasshouse. Sent them Flair and they grew. For you.**
"Thank you!" Lahsin hugged him.
The dog rumbled satisfaction, then turned his head to Tinne. Tinne brought out the packet of treats. Strother's nose twitched. **Good morsels.**
Lahsin raised her eyebrows at the wording on the envelope: **Special bits for your FamCat from D'Ash**.
Tinne shoved the packet to Strother, who gave it a strong sniff. "Good." He decorated the wrapping with drool.
Lahsin opened package. "You want just one or all of them?"
Strother appeared torn. "Some now. Most for later."
"Excellent," Lahsin said, and fed him about a third.
Strother crunched and slurped. **Human gifts,** he said.
After washing her hands in a bowl of water on the altar, Lahsin reached under the cloth and brought out a small potted plant. "I didn't know if you'd really come," she said to Tinne. But I made you a gift anyway." She handed him the pot.
It was a delicate evergreen tree he'd never seen before. He touched one soft, flexible branch. "Nice. What is it?"
"A Norfolk Pine. They only grow here and in the great greensward of Nuada's Sword, the Residence told me. When I found it, I did some research. Norfolk was a place on old Earth."
He met her eyes. "I'll cherish it."
She handed him a note. "The tending instructions."
Tinne slipped the page in his bag, turned the pot around to admire the small tree from all sides until Strother nudged him. Tinne turned to his bag and lifted out his presents.
He brought her two gifts. One was pale green training robes trimmed in dark green.
Her eyes lit up. "Real robes!"
"Yes. The trim shows you're a second level beginner."
She clutched the robes to her breasts. "Really? Am I?"
He smiled. "You have a few holes in your training, and need to learn the first basic pattern, but you could probably win any match with my beginning students."
She did a little hopping dance at that, put the tunic on. Only then did Tinne realize she was wearing old clothes, though the aura of the Goddess had cloaked her during the ritual.
Strother was nosing Tinne's bag. **Something else, here, something that smells of slowbeast.**
"I have another gift, one made with my creative Flair."
Lahsin looked up with curiosity in her eyes.
Tinne pulled out a small drum he'd made...not his HeartGift. She grinned and eagerly took it from him, settled back on her pillow and began to thump with enthusiasm but little technique. He laughed, pulled his own drum, equally small, and poured his feelings through his hands in cheerful, rapid beats.
"Now we can follow the ancient ways and drum the night away and to the dawn!" Lahsin raised her voice over the sound.
Strother's muzzle gaped. **You will pound on those all night?**
"Yes!" Lahsin threw back her head and laughed.
Her laugh reached inside Tinne, stirred him near painfully, touching places that had been wounded by another woman.
Strother went to his portion of the food and ate and drank politely, then burped and turned to Lahsin. He cast a yearning eye toward the cat treats, but then lifted his muzzle in pride. **You will put my treats in the no-time?** he asked.
"Yes, the Fam no-time in the kitchen that the BalmHeal Residence has so graciously opened to us now."
Tinne figured it hadn't been gracious at all. She glanced at him. "May I keep the orange juice?"
"By all means. The juice was for the ritual, the decanter is my gift to the Residence."
**I will be able to get my crunchies when I want. Good. Then I will go out and show my new collar to other Fams.**
Perhaps not so very different than Tinne's hunting cat after all.