The colours were a Galahdian tradition. In the middle of a bleak and cold season, they always wanted a splash of lush, forested green to ward off the grey. Even if that green came from plastic imitations.
“No, here, Crowe. Put it here.”
“It’s not my fault your place is so small, asshole.”
The chorus of scolding voices rose around Noctis as he sat on Nyx’s bed with a hot chocolate in his hands. The line that stretched across the niche— used to dry the laundry Nyx wasn’t in the mood to lug through to the laundry room— had been re-purposed as a curtain; the blanket lit well enough from either side to banish some of the mystery the Glaives were trying to cast.
“What?” Crowe’s shadow was on Nyx’s comfortable chair, standing and stretched, the inconsistent flow of a garland behind her.
Libertis’ bulk was in the kitchen— the little stretch of steam and scent blocked entirely from Noctis’ imaginative view, but very much a vivid image in the Prince’s mine nonetheless. He could picture the man, gruff and demanding in his control of the understocked space, moving through one dish to the next— the cacophony of spices and scents making the small apartment seem warmer than it really was. “Don’t talk like that in front of the Prince.”
“You’re worried about manners?” Crowe scoffed from her perch, and Noctis smiled around the chili spiked cocoa in his hands.
He had been shoved back there the moment the door was opened. Treats and tastes offered here and there through the mysterious curtain that he was banished to wait behind, cosy and snickering at the antics of Nyx’s family. They had been aghast when he told them that he had never really celebrated the holidays. None of them.
There were festivals, of course, and he attended the dinners in a more official capacity— Prince and King standing in the gilded image of the royal family at some function or another. There had been public events here and there through the ages, scattered into his schedule more frequently now that school was not an issue. He had stood, dressed in Lucian black and surrounded by holiday golds and silvers, for years— the very image of an aloof prince.
He was certain the real insult came when he told Nyx’s little family that he never even bothered to decorate his own apartment. It had been Libertus’ idea to dress up Nyx’s apartment for the holiday. It had been Crowe’s idea to have a family meal there, their newest addition smuggled away from protective retainers for a short few hours.
Nyx swept through the makeshift curtain with all the exhausted drama of an unintended holiday host— green garland and glitter clinging to him, and now to the bed as a result of his flop next to Noctis.
Noctis smiled and reached over to comfort his boyfriend. “You okay?”
“I should be asking you that.” Nyx smiled and caught Noctis’ hand; “Why did I agree to this?”
“Because Libertus wants to show off and Crowe wants to drink?”
“Damn right!” Crowe hopped down from the chair, long shadow of garland trailing with her as she moved to pin it around the room.
Nyx straightened on the bed, and offered Noctis a kiss on the cheek; “Next year we take over your place.”
“You could take it over next week.”
“What’s next week?”
“The Lucian version of this. Dad agreed to dinner at my place, instead of the big party thing. Something quiet.”
“You could have told us this sooner.”
“I was coming to invite you,” louder for the bickering friends still decorating and cooking; “all of you.”
The curtain was pulled aside and Crowe glared at him. Behind her, Noctis could see the green chaos she had wrought around the apartment with the garlands and lights and decorations. Glitter sparkled against her hands and shirt, streaks of green felt and plastic and glitter on her thighs where she had tried to wipe the worst of it away. A sprig of fake holly peeking from her mess of hair, holding the weight of it in place. “What?”
“I talked to the guys,” Noctis smiled, mug of warm cocoa still cradled in his hands, knees drawn up in the little niche as he smiled at Crowe’s festive fury. “And dad agreed. Family dinner at my place next week.”
“When the hell were you going to tell us?”
“Today. It’s why I came over.” He held up the mug as if it served as proof; “You guys just gave me this and shoved me back here.”
“You didn’t complain,” Nyx muttered, getting up after another kiss to the crown of Noctis’ head. He pulled down the curtain to reveal the decorated apartment— half of the room awash in greens and twinkling little fairy lights, the rest taken up by the table and the feast Libertus was still preparing.
“Like I’d complain about being given chocolate and shoved into your bed, hero.”
“No,” Libertus pointed a spoon at him from the kitchen; “Not thinking about that. No talking about that. What’s this about a second dinner?”
“My place. Next week. You’re coming.”
Crowe made a face as she gathered up the last of the errant decorations. “Dining with the King.”
“With my Dad,” Noctis corrected. “Iggy’s cooking.”
“Like hell he is,” Libertus grumbled as he turned back to his task; “that kid can barely handle any real food. Do we got to dress up?”
“It’s the King,” Crowe threw herself onto the comfortable armchair while Nyx started gathering the dinner plates. “Of course we got to dress up.”
“Just don’t get glitter everywhere.”