Erin sat at her window and gazed out into the frigid night outside. Snow fell quietly through the air, covering the ground in a fine white powder. Nights like this were strange. It sent chills up her spine but made her feel somewhat cozy and there was something muted about the atmosphere, as if time itself had slowed.
She had grown so absorbed in her thoughts and the feeling in the air that she almost didn’t hear the quiet knock on her door. She turned her face away from the window and said, “Come in.” The door opened and Raphael stepped inside, closing the door once more behind him.
“Good evening, child,” he said with a small smile, stepping over to the window where Erin was seated. She smiled and stood up, wrapping her arms around him tightly.
“I was afraid you weren’t going to come,” she whispered.
“I will be gone tomorrow,” he said with a slight nod, “but I can spend the evening with you tonight.”
“Good.” She smiled and hugged him again.
He settled down on the window seat with her, hugging her close to his side before leaning back against the window. The two of them sat in silence together for a time, just watching the snow falling outside. After a few moments, Erin let out a soft breath and looked up into Raphael’s eyes.
“It always feels so strange this time of year,” she said quietly. “On Christmas Eve, really. I don’t think my parents see it the same way I do, though.”
“Very few humans see things the way you do, child,” he said, lightly brushing his hand over her brow. “Tell me, what is it that you feel?”
“I’m not sure exactly,” she murmured, turning her face down. “Everything just starts to feel… different. Like there’s something big happening but no one else in the world knows about it.” She pressed her hand against her chest and let out a breath. “It’s hard to describe.”
Raphael smiled just a little and took her hand in his. “You feel the powers of heaven shifting, even if just a little.”
“I’ve always felt this, every single year, even before my mom told me what Christmas really was.”
“Do you understand what it means?” he asked, his eyes shining a bit in the dimness of the room.
“Yes, at least I think I do.” Erin peered up into his eyes once more. “Am I really feeling the power of heaven?”
“It is an occasion that we celebrate, yes,” he said with a nod. “Which is why I won’t be here tomorrow.” He smiled down at her and hugged her a little closer. “Take the time to spend with your family, but don’t forget what it all truly means.”
“I won’t forget,” she said, wrapping her arms tight around him.
He kissed the top of her head softly then let out a soft breath, holding her close as they gazed out the window together, letting the dark yet cozy atmosphere settle around them.
Oliver shivered slightly and pressed a little closer to Gabriel. Though he wasn’t really all that affected by the cold, he still found comfort in Gabriel’s presence. He quietly slipped his hand into Gabriel’s, interlacing their fingers together.
Gabriel smiled and squeezed Oliver’s hand gently. “The city is quite beautiful tonight, wouldn’t you agree?”
“I suppose it is, though I hadn’t really noticed.” Oliver glanced around the street block they were walking and let out a breath. There were strings of colored lights shining through the dark of the night and somehow things looked just a little brighter tonight than on other nights.
Emma came up beside them and peered up at Gabriel. “So this is like, a really special night for you, isn’t it?”
Gabriel glanced down at her and his smile broadened a little. “You could say that, yes. This time of year is quite special for all of us, as I’m sure you can imagine.”
“I can’t say I’ve ever really paid much attention to it myself,” Oliver mumbled, “but I suppose things are different this year.” He pressed a little closer to Gabriel and let out a soft sigh.
Gabriel smiled and hugged Oliver close to his side. “Yes, it will be. I’m rather excited about this year. I get to spend it with you.” He grinned down at Oliver.
Oliver cleared his throat a little and pressed his face into Gabriel’s shoulder, hiding his smile.
“You’re sure about this?” Vlad tilted his head to the side, gazing at Uriel a little skeptically. She held his hand tightly and pressed a little closer against him.
“If it makes you uncomfortable, we don’t have to, but I think it would be nice.”
“No, it isn’t that,” Vlad said with a soft sigh, holding her close to his side. “It’s just been… some time since I’ve been to such a service and I’m not so sure about it.”
Uriel held onto his hand and pulled him toward the door to the cathedral. “Come. We’ll just sit in the back where we’ll be out of the way. It will be fine.”
They went inside together and sat at the very back of the sanctuary. The service was performed entirely in Latin and there was a bit of a somber atmosphere to the whole thing. Uriel leaned her head against Vlad’s shoulder as she listened to the priest speaking and there was a small smile on her lips.
“This is beautiful, don’t you think?” she whispered near his ear.
“Yes, it is,” he murmured back. “I’d forgotten what it was like to be in such a place. It’s nice.”
As the service went on, Uriel squeezed Vlad’s hand a little and peered up to see his eyes glistening. She blinked a little and leaned closer to him, kissing his cheek and murmuring, “What’s wrong, my love?”
Vlad let out a bit of a shaky breath and hugged her closer. “It’s nothing. I’m fine. I’ve just… I believe I should attend more often than I do.”
A small smile came to her lips and she whispered, “I would happily come with you any time you did.”
A black cat settled atop the mantel of the fireplace, its tail curled tightly around it. It peered across the room with its striking green eyes, watching the couple who were curled up on the couch together.
Caroline laid her head against Damen’s shoulder and let out a soft sigh, gazing into the fire and just enjoying watching the flames dancing and listening to it crackle.
“It’s nice tonight,” she murmured, letting her eyes drift half shut. “So quiet and peaceful for a change. I wish it were like this more often.”
“A lot has changed this past year. We deserve a night of peace,” Damen murmured, hugging her closer and lightly rubbing her back.
“I won’t disagree with that,” she said, a slight sleepy smile on her face. “I’d be happy if we could just freeze this moment in time for awhile so we don’t have to worry about our obligations anytime soon.”
“Mm, I’m afraid I can’t help you there.” He kissed the top of her head then murmured, “But we can try our best to make the moment last.”
He stood up and gently pulled Caroline to her feet, smiling fondly at her. She smiled back and took his hand, squeezing it lightly as they headed for the stairs. The cat on the mantel peered up as they began to move and began meowing at them loudly, clearly upset that they were just going to leave it down there alone.
When they got upstairs and into their bedroom, the black cat was curled up on Damen’s pillow, its arms stretched out to knead at the blankets as it purred loudly. Damen sighed a little as he settled into bed, picking up the cat and setting it between the two of them.
“Michael, didn’t we just say we wanted a night of peace and quiet?” Caroline said with a soft sigh.
The cat peered up at her questioningly, an entirely innocent look on its face. “I don’t know what you mean. I can be peaceful and quiet when I want to be.”
Damen stared a little blandly at the cat before rubbing his ears. “You know, if you were to tell me at the beginning of the year that I would be spending Christmas Eve with an archangel who likes being a cat, I certainly wouldn’t have believed you.”
“I still don’t believe it when you spell it all out like that,” Caroline said with a slight snort.
The cat rubbed its head against Damen’s palm and purred loudly. “Are you complaining?”
“No, I suppose I’m not.” Damen sighed then laid his head against the pillows, letting his eyes slowly drift shut. “It’s rather comforting, actually.”
Michael curled up a little closer to Damen’s neck, still purring deeply. Caroline pressed closer to her husband, wrapping her arms around him. The cat nuzzled her face and gave her a soft lick on the cheek.
“Goodnight,” she whispered, smiling a little before letting her own eyes close. “Merry Christmas.”