Joy to the world, ho ho ho, and so forth. I’ve been a bit of an absentee landlord around this blog, I’m afraid, but it’s Christmas, which is an excuse for the stars and everything else interesting to come out, it seems.
Merry Christmas to Erin – this is a background view of my first hack at an AU story (which I hope I can publish soon), and also hopefully a catch-up with some old friends. That said, let’s go.
Christmas – or Noël, Navidad, Kersfees, рождество, کریسمس, חג המולד ,عيد الميلاد , Nadal, Solstice, Yule – whatever you prefer – tends to be a frenetic time in the Blue House mind palace. Work carries on, at a crazy rate, and it’s not unusual to have one story in polishing, one actually underway on-set, and one in preliminary read-through in the outer office.
So I have to be in three places at once, and have to get the Mathemagician to multiply me out every other morning to achieve this. This year we had the added complication of four newcomers from another fandom outside the usual circuit, and while they are epic and tough in their own world, the instituted weirdness of the House got to them before long.
Those who know me know that I can get a tiny bit Grinchy in December. I don’t usually decorate things with holly and tinsel – don’t see the point. But I was getting tired of all the kids of the House rampaging, and set them to rampage constructively by ‘decking the halls’. There are a lot of halls in the House. Ben, Olik Petir, Pythia, Young Sherlock (don’t ask), Merry and Pippin, Ahsoka, Anakin, Kettetri Saxlar, and Terence, I knew about. But as I made my way down the great floating staircase (this is a thing; look it up) in the atrium, I found the last person I expected to see: Tahl, still alive.
“Good Solstice, Tahl!” I called.
“And to you, Rosalie.”
“How did you get here? I don’t have any AU planned – but I will if you’ll stay!”
“I invited her,” Qui-Gon explained from the next floor up, leaning over the railing into the stairwell. “You don’t mind?”
“Not at all, Master Jinn! Good Solstice, Master!”
“Merry… Christmas.” I left them to it and darted back to the office to start brainstorming for an AU. In designing the mind palace, I was perhaps unwise to permit the installation of a piano in the long gallery adjoining the offices. Within ten minutes of starting work, I was forced to storm out into the gallery.
“Who is making that god-awful racket? I’m trying to get something going so Tahl can stay past Christmas.” Sherlock hastily hid his violin behind his back, and Obi-Wan jerked his head up as if he’d been stung.
“Tahl? That’s it, okay, we’ll stop right now.”
Glancing around, I identified the other culprits: Aragorn, leaning on the piano. Nightwing and Catwoman, masked, in a window-seat studying a book of Christmas carols. Gawain sprawled on a sofa. Morgana Lefay floating six inches above the floor in the middle of the room. (I have no idea how she got in.) And, cross-legged on the piano stool, picking out Silent Night one note at a time, Nasriel.
“How is she doing that?” I asked of the room in general, utterly confounded.
“Each note on the page corresponds to one on the keyboard,” Nasriel explained eagerly. “I just have to press them in the right order, and Strider tells me if I screw up.”
Well, if it works… I thought. “Show me.”
“Play O Come All Ye Faithful,” commanded Morgana maliciously. I stayed in the gallery just to see why she had chosen that song of all the ones in the book. I saw: one verse contains some anatomical terms that make both Obi-Wan and Sherlock blush scarlet. I laughed – it’s funny!
“Morgan, that was mean. Do We Three Kings instead.”
“As there’s only one king in the room -” Aragorn began.
“Obi-Wan and Nightwing can take the other two,” I decided.
Partway through the frankincense king’s verse (Nightwing), I had to leave to investigate a commotion at the front door. I had given Helena a week off, which she had decided to use mostly for baking, but either way, it left me in charge of stopping explosions. I figured it was worth it for the quantities of mince pies and fruitcake this arrangement made available to all inhabitants.
Gandalf stood blocking the doorway, staff aglow, in full-on scary wizard mode.
“You shall not pass!” he thundered.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Gandalf, it’s only the Three Wise Men. Let them in, it’s snowing outside.”
“They are warlocks!” he insisted.
“Yeah, and you’re really one to talk, aren’t you? Of course they are; they’re the original magicians. Who is in charge of this house anyway?” I turned to the kings. “You are welcome. Please come in.”
Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar bowed politely and introduced themselves. I put Gandalf on his best behavior and packed the lot of them off to the Magic and Quasi-Magic workshop to compare tricks with Radagast and the Wizard of Oz and Merlin.
By this stage the atrium resembled a rather beribboned jungle, and Ben applied for – and got – permission to do the rest of the house. Just no mistletoe around the wizards because they didn’t like it, and absolutely nothing red in any of my rooms.
Lieutenant McClane turned up on the excuse that it was Christmas. Baral Favain was notably absent until Nasriel went and rousted him out of his room, and the whole day culminated in a weird combination of Silver-Chair-style snow dance (Eustace and Jill got back just in time), actual snowball fight, and marvellous fireworks display concocted by all the magicians working together. Merry and Pippin were kept firmly out of the way.
Christmas in the mind palace. It’s a circus. Nearly as weird as Christmas in my real house.