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Warm Lights and Slightly Spoiled Surprises

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Amelie heard the door close with a neat little click. Her eyes snapped open. Finally. She wondered if they would ever get to bed. They shoo her to bed and then stay up for houuurs. It was hardly fair. She would give them a few minutes to fall asleep. It never took them long once they did go; it was getting there that took ages.

After what she judged was a suitable amount of time she swung off the bed, slipped into her slippers, felt around for the two small boxes she left by her door in preparation and padded quietly out into the hall. Slippers and plush carpeting combined to silence her footsteps and she was able to make it down the stairs with ease, clinging to the banister in the dark. Making her way to the living room took a little more care and she had to fumble around in the dark for the cord to light the tree.

At last. Warm, colourful lights lit the room and Amelie beamed up at the towering glittering tree. Her two wrapped boxes were deposited with the rest of the colourful packages. One for mama and one for papa.

She sat by the tree for a few minutes then went to the window to peer out. Cupping her hands, she tried to block out some of the lights’ reflections. It was so dark out, but she could just make out the small falling shapes. There would be snow tomorrow!

“Amelie.”

Amelie spun round with a startled squeak. “Papa!” She put her hands on her hips. “You scared me.”

“You’re supposed to be asleep,” he said, his smile betraying the sternness in his voice.

“So are you!”

He nodded his head very solemnly and joined her at the window. “Why are you up? Is everything all right?”

“Don’t be silly, Papa. Of course everything is all right. And look it’s snowing!” A little distraction just might save her surprise.

“So it is. Yet you could see that just fine from your window.”

She puffed out a sigh. Fine, their loss. “I had to put out your presents of course.”

Papa blinked then smiled at her. “That’s very sweet of you.”

“Of course it is for our darling angel.”

They both whirled around. “Mama,” Amelie protested. Did they ever sleep? She wasn’t even working on her weird book anymore.

“But darling angels need sleep all the same.” She joined them at the window and gazed out.

“She’s right,” Papa said and gathered Amelie into his arms. She sighed but snuggled into his shoulder.

“Hmm,” Mama said thoughtfully. “I think I’ve just thought of an idea for my ending.”

“Which can wait dear,” Papa cut in firmly as she started to turn from the window, staring toward her writing desk. “We all need sleep so we can enjoy tomorrow.”

“Oh very well,” she sighed back. “You’d better hope it remains tomorrow,” she said in sweet tones Amelie knew all too well when she was about to be in trouble, but she looped her arm into Papa’s and kissed Amelie’s cheek. “Come along then. Only sleeping angels get sweet dreams and gifts to enjoy tomorrow.”

Amelie yawned. “Okaaay.”

They went together back up the stairs where warm beds awaited. The snow fell and the world continued its slow turn toward another beautiful day.

 

And much later into the night the rat crept out from its hiding place—finally the humans were gone for real this time—and scurried to the looming desk where leftover crumbs of cheese and some drops of wine waited for its own festive feast.