So: Christmas in Shelfia, with a bit of catch-up from the Compocalypse. The Littlest Bella is bitching away in her kitchen over the stress of having to make lembas for the war effort AND get through her Christmas baking, which is how you know that she's happy.
(Meanwhile, as the Keeper of Pie, Purple Arwen is also in charge of the pantry and china, so she's very pleased with a wonderful new pile of dishes one of y'all sent in, which I added to what we already have. She keeps stacking and restacking them in various configurations. I daresay she will start designing tablescapes any moment.)
And even though he can't eat, The Littlest Edward has been of great help with making tiny pralines, since he can dish them out with his sparklespeed before they go grainy (and also, he saved Bella from a scalding-hot sugary death about seven times). It's exactly as cutesy and twee and saccharine as you would imagine, which makes me happy, because THANK GOD. There was a point a few weeks back--keep in mind that I'm still trying to catch you up on all of that--where things were not going so well, so it's something of a relief that all of that worked out.
You see--I think the last thing I told you, if I recall correctly, was that Helm's Deep Aragorn's man-to-manpire talks had finally taken effect and the Littlest Shelfians were carrying on like a couple of hormone-crazed teenagers. You know, because... they are.
"She won't understand," he fretted. "She's so--"
"Cynical? Humorless? Full of herself?"
"--mature," he said, staring helplessly at the pastel rainbow of ponies gamboling before him. Even he, after all, had been rather chagrined when I'd first introduced him to his new wards, and far from being blinded by his fondness for them--he seemed all too well aware what Bella would think. (And perhaps, even, aware of what they would think of her.) He was torn. So I agreed to help him keep his secret as long as he could. In that sense, perhaps having been evicted from my sister's once and future room was something of a help--surely Bella would have discovered the Sparklerosa if it were only in the room next door, but now it was a floor away. Her trips to confide in Pokey were a bit of a problem, but that was solved when one of y'all sent me a little action figure-sized cactus (promptly dubbed El Poquito). So now Bella had a tiny BFF in a more convenient location.
The problem was, she wasn't handling her daily separations from Edward as well as he was. She wasn't sleeping well at night and was, in fact, developing circles under her eyes; she spent a lot of time pacing up and down the kitchen and staring restlessly towards the doorway. Honestly, she was starting to look a little bit strung out; I guess sparklepire turned out to be exactly her brand of heroin.
"Where is he?" she demanded. "Where does he go? He already told me he's a vampire, what else is he not telling me? WHERE DOES HE HAVE TO GO?" He hadn't told her that he derived his sustenance from toy stuffing and cotton balls, perhaps feeling a bit silly about that as well, but she assumed that he "fed" after she was asleep, theoretically being a Creature of the Night and all, so--that didn't explain his daytime absences at all. And I couldn't think of anything to tell her, except that she needed to get back to work and keep the lembas from scorching. It got so bad that she took to following him when he left her, lurking around the doorway to see where he went, searching the upstairs for him--but with his superspeed, she was never able to catch him. You can imagine what happened when she finally--well, I ought to save that for later, but suffice it to say that I'm having to get a biiiiig box of sugar cubes to keep everyone happy.
As for Little Edward himself, the Christmas madness started when he came to my desk and looked up at me with his tiny soulful ambergoldenscotch eyes and asked if he could just cut out some paper snowflakes. You know.... the way his mother used let him... when he was a little boy... before she died. Reader, I would have let him set the house on fire at that point. Then the hanger-whatever-strings on a couple of my old childhood ornaments broke, and he asked if he could have them. The next thing I know, he's asking where I put the Pledge so he can polish the dresser (the dresser, you see, has the advantage of being far, far away from Bella, because it would just be tempting fate to have lit candles that close to her), and then I look over and he's got, like, an entire Island of Misfit Toys over there. And we finally solved the Shelfian Tannenbaum problem when I remembered our old advent tree--a perfect size, and there's a little drawer with a toy ornament inside for each day until Christmas.
Little Edward also brought Pokey up to my room--I don't know if you've ever seen an action figure carry a potted plant twice his size up a flight of stairs, but it is a sight to behold, let me tell you--so that Bella could have a literal Christmas cactus overlooking her kitchen.
("Weirdo," she muttered. And then she went back to sniping at Arwen that she was out of clean mixing bowls, happy as a clam.)
I wasn't sure what kind of holidays the other Shelfians celebrated--Lyra referred to something called "Crimbo," I don't know. Serafina and her clan of witches seem to observe some sort of nature-oriented winter solstice occasion; I let her take Lyra and Iorek outside to gather juniper to try to make wreaths or garlands or boughs or whatever it is you do. Look, I don't know--our door wreath is made out of, like, salt crystals or something. Don't ask me. Anyway, this is a great privilege, since the front yard isn't safely fenced in like the back, and the big yellow labrador from down the street could run up and eat any one of them at any moment, but I trust Serafina. (Also, it's a great way to keep Lyra's mind off the Middle-earthians' planning for the impending Squirrelmageddon.) The elves seem to have... you know... elf-related holidays. Stuff having to do with great music and silver trees of light and kin-slaying and what-all (I decided not to ask). But Galadriel decided that the Middle-earthians should participate by adapting a few traditions and make it a whole Shelf thing, so she decided to try her hand at choral arrangement. Both the Aragorns have good voices, after all. So they set to work adapting a few carols, and before long the three of them had come up with "O Mallorn Tree," "Good King Celebrimbor," "We Two Kings of Númenor Are," and "Eru Rest Ye Merry Dúnedain." They were a bit stuck trying to come up with a new version of " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas," however.
"All through the flet won't work unless we can think of something that rhymes--"
"I'm telling you: ferret. Not a creature was stirring, not even a ferret--"
"But that doesn't--"
"Look, we've even got one!"
"BUT THE STRESS IS NOT ON THE RIGHT SYLLABLE. THAT ONLY WORKS ON PAPER."
"WELL, CAN YOU THINK OF ANYTHING BETTER? NO, YOU CAN'T."
I decided not to try to get everyone individual presents--I had found some fantastic doll-sized swords,
"That's what Santa Eorl brings, you know. He brings every girl and every boy in Rohan their very first sword. That's why we always leave out--WE HAVE TO LEAVE MEAD FOR SANTA EORL! Do we have any? WE HAVE TO MAKE SOME! DO WE HAVE ENOUGH TIME?"
but wanted to put those off until the next round of e-book money came in. So, I figured, I'll get the entire gang some games to play; we'll have plenty of food, I'll let Elizabeth make punch, it'll be fun. I was getting a little concerned about Tonner Edward, however--he was doing badly. Really, really badly. So I'm on eBay buying hilarious and/or useful things; I see some Tonner separates for like $5; I know that Edwards are a punctilious species. Maybe a fresh shirt will perk him up. I'll get Little Edward to starch it for him and everything.
"I... it was supposed to be... I thought it was blue! It said blue!"
IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE BLUE, OKAY. I KNOW PURPLE IS MY FAVORITE COLOR BUT I WOULD NOT HAVE INTENTIONALLY TRIED TO CHEER A DESPONDENT SPARKLEPIRE UP WITH A LAVENDER SHIRT.
He just looked at me for a moment. Then he climbed into my laundry basket and curled up with my copy of Jane Eyre again and didn't come out for two days.
I'm going to kick Anna's tiny plastic ass for what she did to him, I swear.
(To be continued. Part two: Serafina. Part three: Anna.)