*No spoilers here! Just a short Christmas story featuring some of the characters from Broken Aether. This story was originally written in 2020, but just recently transferred to the website.
Rena ran her fingers across the tight weave of a fine silk shirt. This shop was supposedly the best place in all of Great Helmsford to find gifts for any respectable gentleman. It had proven to be absolutely useless for finding a gift for Fin. Pulling her jacket collar up around her neck, Rena stepped back onto the blustery, snowy street to begin her walk home. She just had to get a Christmas gift for Fin. The only problem was that she had no idea what to get him.
On the other end of the city, across the canal, Fin knew exactly what he was going to get for Rena. His problem was that no one seemed to sell it. He surveyed the choices on the counter in front of him at what happened to be his fifth stop of the day. It was an impressive assortment of pocket knives, there was no denying that, and the gadgets and tools in each one would delight Rena to no end. There was just one thing...
Fin looked apologetically up at the storekeeper. "I was hoping for something a little more... dainty? Maybe smaller, with a nice engraving?"
The storekeeper scoffed at him. "What man is going t' want a dainty pocket knife."
"Well, no man that I know," Fin said under his breath. He thanked the storekeeper for his time and headed back out into the cold. Apparently, he'd just have to do this himself.
That evening, the two of them sat next to each other in front of a merrily crackling fire, Rena with a skirt to patch and Fin building one of his small wire sculptures. Each of them had a mug full of Madame Merryweather's secret recipe hot cocoa, and the sounds of Rena's family laughing and talking echoed through the house. It was cozy, festive, and as far as Rena was concerned, absolutely perfect.
She looked up as movement from Fin caught her eye. He crinkled his nose, shaking his hands out for a few more seconds before picking his sculpture back up. In response to Rena's questioning look, he explained, "It hurts my hands when I work on this too long. In order for the wire to be strong enough to hold its shape, it has to be pretty hard to bend. I just need a little break, that's all."
"Hm," Rena replied. Her eyebrows raised slightly as she looked down at her own hands. "Hm."
It was a far more arduous process than she had imagined, but after a week of work, Rena finally finished her masterpiece. And just in time, too, because Fin had decided they would exchange their gifts that afternoon. Apparently he couldn't wait for Christmas.
Once again, the two of them sat in front of a crackling fire, mugs full of more hot cocoa. Rena barely had a chance to settle on the floor before Fin handed her his present. She took note of the brightness in his eyes and the smile playing at the corners of his mouth. "You're so excited," she commented, amused.
Fin rolled his eyes at her teasing. "Just open it already!"
"Alright, Saint Nick, settle down." Rena untied the twine of her package and took a brief moment to admire the box. She could easily tell it was handmade. Inside the box sat a beautiful silver pocket knife, small enough to easily slip into her dress and engraved with her initials. Fin's smile broadened into a grin as he watched her face light up. She eagerly flipped through the different attachments, letting out breathless exclamations at each one. As she opened the last one, she gave Fin a playful smirk. "And here I thought you wouldn't include the actual knife."
He rolled his eyes at her again. "Just use it responsibly, please."
Rena giggled. "Your turn!" She practically threw his present at him.
Fin caught the package easily, chuckling at her enthusiasm. Not wanting to suffer her impatience, he unwrapped it quickly, although not without noticing that it was wrapped with her note paper. Very authentically Rena. When he finally got through the layers of paper to what was inside, his eyes widened in delight, immediately realizing what it was.
"It's new wire!" Rena blurted out, too excited to just sit there. "I made a new compound that's easy to bend, but still holds its shape! So your hands don't get tired!" She paused and mellowed, noticing his silence. "Do you like it?"
Fin looked up, smiling wide enough that his brown eyes crinkled. "I love it."
"Oh thank goodness," Rena laughed. "I nearly blew the lab up figuring that one out."
Fin chuckled and shifted closer. His smile softened at her wide, golden eyes. "Merry Christmas," he murmured.
"Merry Christmas, indeed."
Between the Lines
A collection of short stories related to my books (mostly Christmas stories because why not?). Just make sure to check the note at the beginning in case there are any spoilers!