silent night

the lady normally held court at the pole, but once a year – during the busiest time – she left her station for a night. 

people thought she was just a figure, a counterpart. most thought her most important role was to make sure the man in red (partner in business, life, love) ate. (her best business venture had been when she hired the cook. she hated cooking and everyone agreed that her food was bland. she never understood how she had been tasked with that to begin with.) she was much better at keeping the books and overseeing the network of seers. and by the 20th, her work was mostly done.

so once a year, she left the pole, the work, the hectic scene, to embrace the dark. 

it was always cold the night before the light ritual, and she always took the head reindeer. the past couple years it was blitz. after the herd had been destroyed by the vampire, she had a hard time coming to terms with the new crew, but she thought this year she could fully trust blitz. 

the lady slipped through the heavy front doors, spilling a beam of yellow-gold light onto the white snow, and hurried down the stone steps to the outbuildings where she knew blitz was waiting. 

her long leather skirts swished as she quickly opened the door to the herd’s housing, and blitz was there. they stepped into the night, where the lady rummaged in her pocket for the chocolate nut balls she shoved in there, pushing aside the peppermints and silver dagger she carried with her these days. the vampires were rampant this year for some reason, and after the episode mariah had with the other, she wasn’t taking any chances. 

fittingly, the sky was cloudy, shrouding them from the stars and moon that might provide some light. blitz’s hooves were silent in the snow, occasionally catching purchase on a stone. while blitz didn’t talk, she did understand what the lady was saying, and her eyes always seemed to convey whatever it was she wanted the lady to know. the lady, used to being behind the scenes, was ok with little conversation. 

tonight they walked in complete silence. 

tonight they walked far.

but it was never enough time to prepare. 

blitz snorted puffy white breaths and stopped mid-stride. the lady felt it too. he was here. 

the wind briefly whipped around her, and suddenly he showed himself. arawn, master of underworld, sleep, the night god. it was so cold that the lady had to blink hard to keep tears from leaking down her cheeks and freezing. she put her mittened hand over her mouth and caught her breath. 

“maire.”

of the three people who knew her name, he was the only one who ever said it out loud. she breathed and let him in. 

*****

after, blitz knelt beside her lady and patiently waited until she rested her hand on her back and pulled herself to standing. together they walked back, slowly, carefully. the lady’s hand never left blitz’s  back until they reached the tall doors of the house at the pole. even now, in the dark, early hours of the morning, the lights were still ablaze and everyone hard at work. no one knew the lady left this night every year.

the lady stroked blitz’s nose and smiled a satisfied smile. she knew blitz wouldn’t tell a soul. it was a necessary darkness, the start of the ritual to bring back the light.