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Festive Occasions

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Rihito was enjoying the smell of freshly folded laundry when Mei came up behind him. She stepped quietly, but he knew her footfalls after six months of sharing the close quarters of Umbra House.

It was late, and she should have been in bed. As a matter of fact, Rihito had thought she was in bed, as that is where she had been when he checked on her fifteen minutes ago.

She was wrapped up in her purple robe, glasses on and blinking sleepily. She smiled up at him with her hair sticking out awkwardly on the side of her head.

He had the fight the urge to smooth it down and tuck it behind her ears, and he quickly occupied his hands with one last towel instead.

"Mei-sama," he scolded gently. "You need your rest."

Mei shrugged, patting her hair absently, somehow managing to make it look more disheveled. "It's Christmas Eve, and I almost forgot something." She looked at him, lips quirking mischievously. "I have something for you. It's very festive, and if you don't wear it, you'll hurt my feelings."

Rihito bowed, the hand holding the towel going to his heart. "I will gladly accept any gift Mei-sama gives me."

Mei blew out her breath. "Good," she said cheerfully. "I told Kiba that we would help him and Izumi-chan pass out gifts to underprivileged children tomorrow, and I think it would be a festive gesture." Mei reached into the pocket of her robe, and pulled out a Santa hat.

Rihito very carefully didn't flinch as she reached up to pull it on his head, but he did allow himself one wince of pain for the thought of his hair. "A hat, Mei-sama?" he said, weakly. "It is perfectly respectable to pass out gifts while dressed as I normally am."

"Not to me," she said firmly, flipping the bell on the end down to fall over his eyes. She stepped back and smiled, ignoring the pained expression he was sure he was wearing. "There. Now," she said brightly, "Be glad I talked Kiba into dressing like the elf." She tilted her head, an innocent look on her face. "Or would you rather switch with him?"

"No! No, Mei-sama," Rihito hurried to say, tossing the towel over his shoulder and settling the Santa hat more securely onto his head. "The hat is just fine." He offered a tentative smile as he pulled the bell over to the side.

Mei looked at him - a smooth, S-ranked butler, wearing a shiny suit and a Santa hat. She wished she had her camera. Mameshiba would never believe this without proof.

END