Christmas time for a witch must be a lot like being Jewish at Christmas. There are lights everywhere, and you're all 'Carbon footprint, anyone?' Everyone is all smiles and it's totally fake. There are wicked sales at the mall, but it's major packed. It was even more of a drag when you had to hang out at said mall with someone who was a bitch.
Nicole was such a major bitch.
She drove Hallow crazy, and Hallow was never going to hang out with her again. She wouldn't have even started to in the first place if the bitch hadn't worked at The Gap, and could get her family discount. But, now, Nicole had lost her job for going down on the manager in the break room, and so she was of no use to Hallow. Not to Hallow or her ex-manager who was now not returning her calls.
The Gap had forsaken her and now so had the world.
"Why don't we go hang at your house?" Nicole asked, for what was the billionth time, in between bites of her corn dog...
Hallow sighed dramatically, "I told you, Gawd, we can't do anything at my house. We couldn't even talk in peace, it's too crazy there."
That was totally the truth. Hallow's home was always crazy. Her home was also a witches' coven, but she couldn't tell Nicole that. She wouldn't tell Nicole the time of day if she asked. Not with her stupid bitch face.
GOD, she was annoying.
"Whatever," Nicole mumbled, "I'm bored."
"You're bored? Don't even get me started!"
Before they could get into any more of an argument, Hallow's cell went off. It was the ring tone her mother had demanded she put in for when she called, the totally retro song Living Dead Girl by Rob Zombie. Hallow's mom was a big fan of his when she wasn't old and thought it was ironic, or something, since she and Hallow were both necromancers.
Hallow slid the razor phone open and turned her back on her now ex-friend. "I'm doing homework," Hallow lied instead of saying 'Hello.'
"When are you going to be home? You have a lesson with me tonight, remember."
Hallow rolled her eyes. "I'm doing work here. I'm getting my formal education."
"Well get it wrapped up. The dead don't wait while you sit around at the mall talking about Justin Timberlake."
She hung up before Hallow could respond.
Her mother was so lame...But...If Justin Timberlake DID die, Hallow would finally be able to meet him. That was incentive enough to study with her mother. Hallow was pretty good as it was, having been born on Halloween (hence her name from her un-creative mother) she had a close connection with the dead. If that useless bit of a talent was going to be of any use she could totally take advantage of Justin Timberlake's death.
"Mom needs me home," Hallow informed Nicole. "Don't call me."
Outside of the city the cheer of Christmas lights were dim to completely absent. In one building in particular, there was a festival of lights but it was in respect to the winter solstice.
This traditional haven for traditionalism was a patchwork of a gothic manner and it crackled with energy even a human would have been shaken by. The gnarled forest growth surrounding it saved any human the mishap of experiencing it, though. This is was one of the oldest witches' covens in the country, and although it was the epitome of mystery and horror from the outside, it was little more than home for Mab, she being one of the few humans who were ever allowed to enter it, let alone live in it.
She was waiting for her Aunt Quin as soon as she gotten off the phone with her daughter Hallow.
"Time to decorate," Mab announced.
Aunt Quin gave her a pained look. "Why do I have to decorate? I don't celebrate Christmas."
"It's fun! And all we have is one tree to decorate, and mom wont do it with me," Mab added sadly, hoping it would win her Aunt over.
Her mother was completely against the tradition of decorating trees, she said it was disrespectful to a living thing and 'How would you feel is someone killed you and then put you in their living room with Hallmark figurines of Nascar on you?' Sometimes having a hedge witch for a mother sucked, but it paid off when you got a cold.
"Your mother will have a fit when she sees it," Aunt Quin warned.
"I got a fake tree! Mom said I could decorate it if it was fake," Mab pleaded with her eyes.
"Fine...let's make this quick."
Mab led her into the entry hall where she had the tree already standing. To Mab, it was a vision of normalcy. It was a representation, not of Christian culture, but human culture; it represented what she was in a home that represented what she could never be.
Zion, Aunt Quin's youngest daughter, at a mere eight years old, was waiting for them while she tangled herself in Christmas lights.
"You got Zion in this too?" Aunt Quin sighed.
"This is her first real Christmas, she should join in," Mab said sensibly, helping un-loop a strand-cum-noose from around Zion's throat.
"How far is this whole thing going?" Aunt Quin asked.
"Just the tree, then we'll open some gifts on Christmas day," Mab assured.
Zion piped in, "Aunt Freja said that if we want to have a real Christmas, like witches used to have, we have to cut down a tree and burn it in the middle of town."
"My mother forgets that'll get us arrested," Mab told her. "Now, do you want to decorate the tree or not?"
"I do, I do!" Zion said quickly. She seemed such the sweet and innocent girl, no one outside of their coven would have been able to guess what a powerful little witch she was. But from Mab's perspective, any power was a lot.
"Let's get the lights up," Mab suggested happily.
Their home was huge, having been built on again and again over the years as each generation of the coven took power. The land their home sat on with rich with residual power and ashes of their ancestors. It was an honor to be a part of the family and live there, even if Mab didn't have any supernatural abilities herself.
Traditionally, she wouldn't have been allowed to stay within the coven once she reached adulthood, not being a witch herself. But times were changing, apparently. Their's was the first generation that allowed adult humans to live there. It was also the first to man to live there, Mab's twin brother, Kane, who was equally human. Though Aunt Quin made it a point to tell them both on every occasion possible she should kick them out, she never did
Mab, Zion, and Aunt Quin had all the lights strung on the tree when the front door opened and Hallow strolled inside.
"I'm home," She said dryly, then saw the tree. "We're celebrating Christmas? Don't tell me we can finally have a normal family for once?"
"If Mab has anything to do with it," Aunt Quin muttered.
"Do we get gifts?!" Hallow asked, all too excited.
Mab nodded, relieved to finally have someone on her side beside the eight year old. Not even her brother cared. Kane didn't care what happened outside of World of Warcraft.
"I got everyone a gift. We'll have hot chocolate and sing–"
"I'm not singing" Aunt Quin interjected.
"–And we'll open gifts," Mab finished, ignoring her aunt.
"That's awesome! Oh, by the way," Hallow said off handedly, "when I was driving home I clipped this dude with my car. It's totally cool, because when I got out it turned out he had been shot, so him being dead totally isn't my fault. His soul was about to leave, so I trapped it and brought him back for you," She told her mother.
"You what?!" Her mother snapped. "Why did you do that?!"
"So you could help him or something? I don't know, shit."
"Watch your language," Aunt Quin said as if it was a natural reflex.
"Where is he?" Mab asked slowly.
"In her trunk," Zion answered before Hallow opened her mouth.
They left the plastic tree and went outside to Hallow's car where she popped the trunk to showcase the victim. He sure seemed dead... Completely still and sodden with blood.
"Why didn't you just leave him where he was?" Aunt Quin sighed under responsibility.
"I figured you could help him. I'm trying to be a good person here. And besides, I figured Mab could use the practice at stitching people up, since she's a nurse."
"I took a first aid class at the community college," Mab corrected under her breath.
Hallow shrugged as if that were the same thing as being a certified nurse to her.
"You're going to help him, right mommy?" Zion asked, looking up at her mother.
"Merry Christmas to me," Aunt Quin groaned, "Another burden. You're helping." She pointed at Hallow. "He's your stray."
If this had been the game Operation, the buzzer would have been going off in the tune of the death march...Or maybe Surrender by Cheap Trick.
Mommy's alright, the coven's alright, they just seem a little strange.
Surrender, surrender, but don't give yourself away.
Ay, ay, ay.
Fuck if the song wasn't totally old, but it was catchy.
Hallow's mother took a swipe at Hallow's head, "Are you even paying attention?" She demanded. "Just take the bullet out! Stop looking away! Just use the tweezers and pull it out, for the love of the Gods!"
"You're stressing me out!" Hallow shrieked, almost jamming her arm down fist deep into the wound they had just exacerbated in the young man's chest. It hadn't been all that bad, in the beginning, and so the solution seemed simple enough to just remove the bullet and revive the man from the probable shock he was in. Trouble was, none of them had done something like this before and bullets were kinda small. Now it looked as if they were trying to remove a rib.
Quin, Mab and Zion had gotten the man laid out flat and were silently letting Hallow take the stage along with the blame. Karma was an acknowledged deity in their home and it was agreed that if Hallow killed him, she would be forgiven as she had attempted to save him in the first place.
"I think I got it," Hallow made a final gouge in the flesh and tissue and came out again with a silver bullet and the wound began to close.
"He's a werewolf," Zion pointed out what was now obvious to the women.
The werewolf's skin wove itself together as the girls watched on with bated breath. At the same time, Kane, Mab's twin brother, wandered in. "Oh," was how he remarked upon the scene, but smiled warmly at his sister, "I like the Christmas tree."
"Thanks." Mab beamed.
The werewolf's body retched into consciousness.
The tell tale pain of silver was what first caught Hazard's attention.
It was like acid and a cryogenic freezer all in one, and that feeling was quickly, and blessedly, draining from his chest where it was paralyzing him. He had no idea where he was or how he had gotten there, but it was a strange and dangerous place, his instincts told him that. He would be gone as soon as his body stopped shuddering.
And when it did, a scent like none Hazard had never known before paralyzed him once again.
It was family, safety, love, sexuality, fate; it was the scent of his mate.
When Hazard opened his eyes to meet the one's Fate had created solely for him. And he prayed this was a silver induced nightmare...
Fernando was rinsing, washing, and repeating his hands to the point they would have been bleeding had he been human. As it was, he was an immortal vampire and he could go at this all century. He just might too.
"Are you done already?" Demanded one of the members of his team from outside the bathroom door. The animosity seeping through the wood had Fernando reaching for the towel, but his OCD had him back to the soap within seconds.
This washing emergency had begun from the fact he was covered in gun powder residue. He shot ONE werewolf and now he was paying for it; that soot boring it's way deep down into his pores.
Then there was that newspaper kiosk that he had brushed against...
Fernando scrubbed with new vigor.
The House, the vampire clan, he belonged to mocked him about his phobia, calling him the Cleanest Conquistador, but most of them hadn't actually experienced the filth he had seen in his long life. Small Pox were just one of the most memorable of poxes to them, to him it was one of the easiest.
Fernando completed his OCD ritual and elbowed the door open to find some annoyed members of his House glaring daggers at him.
"Did you get him?" Asked James, the youngest.
"Get who?" Fernando asked.
"The werewolf that the Elders sent you after!" Another shouted.
"Of course I did!" Fernando's Spanish accent became thick with indignation.
In actuality, he wasn't sure if he did, in fact, get the right werewolf.. Fernando had been running his ass ragged looking for some murderous werewolf only to come up empty handed time and time again. Once he got one within his scope he shot first and decided to ask questions never. How many of those mutts could be running solo through the city? That wasn't their MO.
"I hope to God you did, because Elder Fidella wants to see you."
While Fernando had been pillaging and conquering in the name of Spain, Fidella had been cooling her heels in Rome, playing with Catholicism and imprisoning popes to finally end the Renaissance. As she put it, "I was over it. The Dark Ages were so much more fun to play in." She didn't scare Fernando, per se, it was just never a good thing when she summoned him.
Or showed interest in seeing anyone, in fact.
"Someone record Wife Swap for me, this may take a while."
Authors note: This story was originally a writing game between a friend and I who have read a plethora of paranormal romance novels. The goal was to add everything we think SHOULD have happened and to just make the other one laugh. I am re-writing it as a novel (as well as finishing it, I hope) and my friend and I have very different styles so any holes I missed are due to this, even though I literally re-wrote the whole thing
Credit to Megan Hansen for a lot of the jokes, I had to keep most of them as they were originally written, they were too funny.