“The promise of excitement
is one the night will keep.
After all, there’s only one more sleep till Christmas.”
“Who knows what day it is?” Nina asked, bounding downstairs. Kaz groaned.
“Is this cursed season finally over?” he asked hopefully, scowling from the chair. Nina shot him an annoyed glance.
”It’s only Christmas Eve, Kaz,” Inej said. ‘You’ve still got another day to go.”
Kaz frowned. “How long is this damn holiday?”
”Well, we got off school on the twentieth.. so five days, I guess,” Inej replied.
“Kaz Brekker can’t even survive 5 days of happiness,” Nina laughed.
“It wouldn't be so horrible if you didn’t go singing carols every five minutes,” he retorted. “I think I’m going deaf.”
Nina crossed her arms. “I can sing just fine!”
”Well...” Inej said. “Nina... how do I put this nicely?”
”Her singing is the equivalent of me digging my ears out with a spoon. It’s so freaking bad that I don’t know how we’re all still alive, and it could be used to torture people,” Kaz supplied. Inej glared at him.
”I don’t want to.”
Nina huffed. “Fine. I’m going to go wake up Matthias, Jesper and Wylan.”
“Good riddance,” Kaz called as she left. Nina thought she heard Inej laugh. Really, the two of them were insufferable, especially around this time of year. Kaz because even more murderous and grumpy than usual, and Inej only encouraged his sarcasm.
Nina’s ultimate goal was to get Kaz and Inej in an actual relationship. Sure, they obviously liked each other, but they were just so slow. Jesper and Wylan had made the same amount of progress in ten seconds as they had in two years. It was about time she did something about that.
First, though, they had to get through the holiday without Kaz leaving halfway through. He always had some excuse to go back upstairs, whether it be that he had work to do, that he needed to think, or any number of other lies. Kaz always, always managed to weasel his way out of the celebration. The closest they had ever gotten him to opening presents was five minutes before Jesper came back from his last-minute shopping (which he always seemed to do on Christmas Day).
Five minutes. Kaz couldn’t even spend five more fricking minutes with them.
Nina sighed. Now wasn’t the time to ponder this. She had a sharpshooter and a merchling to wake.
She walked down the hall to Jesper’s room, stopping at the door. She knocked once. No response.
Nina sighed and inhaled.
“JESPER LLEWELYN FAHEY, WAKE UP BECAUSE IT’S FLIPPIN TEN IN THE MORNING ON FLIPPIN CHRISTMAS EVE! AND IF YOU DON’T GET YOUR ASS OUT HERE, WE’RE GOING TO EAT ALL THE WAFFLES WITHOUT YOU!”
The Heartrender heard footsteps approaching the door. Her brow furrowed in confusion; usually it wasn’t that easy to wake him up. But when the door opened, it was Wylan who she found herself face-to-face with. Nina cringed.
”Sorry Wylan, did I wake you up?” she asked.
Wylan yawned. “No... I’ve been up for-“ another yawn- “hours...” Well, thought Nina, that was a lie.
“Wait, why are you in Jesper’s room?”
Wylan blushed, his face going red. “U-um...”
”Is Jesper in Jesper's room?”
”Was Jesper kissing Wylan in Jesper’s room?”
”W-what?” he stammered, his face going even redder. Nina grinned; that was proof enough for her. Then, another thought came to her.
”Or... Was Wylan kissing Jesper in Jesper’s room?”
”I will actually slap you.”
”Have fun with that,” Nina replied, still grinning. “Afterwards, you can keep kissing Jesper. Oh, would you mind waking him up for me? He’s going to miss the waffles.”
“Matthiiiiiiiaaaaassss!” Nina called, standing outside his door.
“What...” He sounded still half-asleep.
”Are you awake?”
”What do you think, Nina?”
She sighed. “Come downstairs! Inej is making waffles!”
”Do I have to?” he asked.
”Well, you could stay in and be grumpy like Kaz,” she pointed out.
“Fine, I’m coming,” Matthias grumbled after a minute.
Nina grinned. “Thank you, love. Now, finally, I’m going to go get myself some waffles.” She strolled down the hall and back downstairs, smiling as the buttery smell of waffles filled her nose. “They’re all awake,” she announced. “Well, Jesper might still be asleep, but Wylan’s waking him up.”
”Pity,” Kaz muttered. “I was hoping for a few more minutes of quiet. Not that there’s much of it with you around.”
”Kaz, you could at least try to be nice,” Inej said, putting some waffles on a plate and handing it to Nina. “You know, Christmas spirit and all that.”
“What’s that Christmas story with the rich man who talks to ghosts?” Kaz asked, taking a sip of water.
”A Cwismus Carul,” Nina replied, her mouth full of waffle.
”Yeah, that one. I’m like Scrooge. Christmas is a horrid holiday, and we’d all be better off without it.”
”You know,” Inej said, “Scrooge ends up changing for the better at the end of the story.”
Kaz scowled. “I’m only on Chapter Three. And Inej, you’re the annoying nephew who tries to convince me to like Christmas.”
”Wouldn’t that be Jesper?”
”Jesper isn’t awake yet.”
”Wouldn’t Inej be Belle?” Nina asked, listening in on their conversation. “You know, the girl Scrooge loved but that ditched him when she found out that he cared more about money than about her?”
Kaz choked on his water, and Inej laughed. “That actually sounds kind of accurate-“
“No it doesn’t,” Kaz snarled. “There is nothing between us, Zenik. You’d do well to remember that.” Nina glanced at Inej, and she heard the small girl sigh.
”Fine,” Nina said. “So Jesper is Fred, the nephew, Inej is Belle-“
”She is not Belle.”
”Whatever, Kaz. You’re Scrooge, and I say Wylan is Tiny Tim,” she finished.
Inej smiled. “Yes, little tiny Wylan is Tiny Tim.”
”He’s taller than you,” Nina pointed out, and Inej threw a plastic fork at her. Nina caught it somewhat clumsily.
“Hey! You could have killed me with that thing, you know!” she complained.
”It’s a plastic fork, Nina. Be glad I didn’t throw a metal one.”
“What’s going on?” asked Wylan, who was coming downstairs.
”Inej is trying to kill me!” Nina replied. Inej rolled her eyes.
”Good morning, Wylan,” she said. “Waffle?”
Wylan nodded, and gratefully took one from her. “Thanks, Inej. Also, maybe don’t kill Nina. We kind of need her here to remind us when it’s ‘Waffle Wednesday’.” Kaz suddenly looked over at them, seemingly getting an idea.
“Kaz, don’t you dare ask when it’s ‘Murder Monday’,” Nina threatened. Kaz looked her straight in the eye.
”When is it Murder Monday?” he asked, his lips quirking at the corners. Nina sighed; she had walked right into that one.
”Guys, it’s Christmas,” Wylan said. “Can we please not argue?”
”Good luck with that,” Inej muttered. “Kaz, want a waffle?”
”No,” he answered.
”Come on, you were awake all night doing Saints-know-what, and I’m pretty sure you didn’t have supper.”
”I’m not hungry.”
”Kaz, please just eat something,” Inej begged.
“I said I’m not hungry.”
”Come on Kaz,” Nina said. “You barely eat anyway. And it’s Christmas Eve!”
”I’m not eating.”
”Fine. Go ahead and starve to death,” Inej muttered. Kaz’s eyes narrowed, but he did take an orange from the bowl on the kitchen counter. Right then, Matthias and Jesper came downstairs.
”You guys excited for Christmas?” Jesper asked cheerily.
“No,” Kaz and Matthias replied simultaneously.
“Aw, come on,” Jesper said. “This is going to be fun!”
”Hopefully you actually remember to get presents this year,” Matthias said.
Jesper raised an eyebrow. ”I always remember. It just takes a while to actually buy them.”
”Jes, have you ever considered getting everything before Christmas?” Nina asked.
“Now where’s the fun in that?”
Nina sighed. She just hoped it wasn’t her that Jesper had to get a present for. Every year, they did a sort of Christmas draw. They’d draw two names from a hat, and those were the people they had to buy presents for. Kaz wrote all the names they had drawn from the hat on a list, making sure no one was chosen more than twice. He always chose last, getting the two people left over. Nina had actually gotten Jesper and Matthias this year, and she had already bought them their presents. She wondered who Kaz had gotten. Usually he just gave them a bunch of money with a note that said “Go buy yourself something”. It was probably for the best, anyway. Nina was pretty sure that Kaz didn’t have a clue about what they liked.
“Kaz, you are staying to open presents this year, and that’s not up for negotiation,” she said.
“Everything is negotiable,” Kaz replied coolly.
“You stayed for Halloween,” Inej said. “How is this any different?”
”Halloween had candy. This has Nina’s inedible baking.”
”My baking isn’t that bad!” Nina protested.
”Yes it is,” Inej said. “Anyway, Kaz, you’re addicted to candy! Of course you like Halloween.”
”I am not ‘addicted’ to it.”
”Please, you literally ate all of yours and half of Matthias’ candy in one night,” Jesper said.
”And half of mine,” Inej added.
”It was not half of yours. It was a quarter,” Kaz muttered. Nina sighed; This was going to be a long holiday.