Wesley loved winter.
As a child he would spend hours praying to Jack Frost for lots and lots of long snow days. There was nothing like a sanctioned day off school because there was too much snow.
On those (unfortunately rare) days he would spend hours running across the fields with his brothers and sisters until their hands were frozen and their noses were bright red. Then when it was dark, after being corralled inside by his mother, he would curl up in front of the fireplace to keep his fur warm. His favourite sound was still the pops and crackles of a real fire.
Of course, now that he was older, he knew that winter sprites were more cruel than playful and he didn’t have the luxury of spending most of his time curled up in front of a fire. It had been years since he’d run across the fields by his parent’s house on four paws, kicking up snow and rolling around like he was a puppy again. Slowly, but surely, it had all changed.
However, that year he was buzzing with excitement when he opened the curtains to find the first frost of the season which had formed overnight. He started to scramble out of bed long before he had to be awake and with a cup of coffee in his hand he stood outside in the back garden while he breathed in the crisp air almost every morning. Wesley dug out his holiday jumpers from an old, tattered box with an almost scary amount of glee.
Gregory watched Wesley bouncing around the house and he was terribly amused. He’d never seen his boyfriend so… giddy. He’d not woken up next to him in weeks and Gregory was surprised every time Wesley came padding into the living room as a wolf to curl up next to him on the sofa while he read in the evenings.
Gregory figured that Wesley might finally be comfortable treating his home like he was more than a temporary guest but there was something else going on. He just wasn’t sure if he should ask about it.
He certainly didn’t remember Wesley acting so unrestrained and unashamedly happy when they’d met almost a year ago (although he figured that there were other reasons for that). Since the beginning of November Wesley hadn’t seemed to stop and Gregory was, more often than not, dragged along for the ride.
Gregory couldn’t remember the last time he’d spent the holidays with someone. In fact, he was quite sure that he’d spent the last decade writing as every season just passed him by without being particularly remarkable. With Wesley he’d already been to five holiday markets, two rituals and a family dinner that was marginally successful but there was still a week to go until the Winter Solstice.
Yule seemed to be announcing its presence everywhere he looked that year and Wesley was full of information and old family stories about the holiday whenever Gregory began to feel overwhelmed. There were some traditions he liked better than others – Wesley kept dragging him underneath the mistletoe hanging in every shop door along the high street – but there was a lot that Wesley wanted to do over the holiday period.
Wesley showed no signs of slowing down as he sat, cross-legged on Gregory’s living room floor tying pieces of evergreen together to make over a dozen wreaths that would be placed at the Sinclair family crypt. Sometimes it took Gregory by surprise that, although he wasn’t even sure where his parents were buried and after one hundred years of wandering he wasn’t particularly interested in finding out, Wesley had three generations of family resting in grounds of the temple by the edge of the town.
Honestly, Gregory needed a short break.
Wesley eventually found Gregory in his study after he’d looked up from tying wreaths to find him missing from the living room. Gregory’s desk was completely clear so there had obviously been no sudden strike of inspiration for his next novel. His cheeks were slightly flushed and there was a half-empty glass of blood held loosely in his long fingers. Wesley had slowly grown used to the sight of Gregory drinking blood like it was wine on an evening but he didn’t usually drink more than that. The sight of blood in the mid-afternoon was different.
Wesley stayed in the doorway, leaning against the frame and he waited until Gregory had leaned forward and placed the glass carefully near the back of the desk until he spoke.
“Hey. Is everything okay?”
“Okay. Should I go?”
Gregory stretched and grabbed Wesley by his wrist. He tugged him into the room until he was leaning against the edge of the desk in front of Gregory. Wrapping his arms around Wesley he murmured, “In a minute.”
Wesley dragged his fingers through Gregory’s dark hair and looked around the room thoughtfully. There were no decorations or greenery that Wesley had thrown up around the rest of the house. Apart from the reams and reams of paper and technology there wasn’t much else in Gregory’s space. It looked no different to how it did for the rest of the year, “I’ve been pushing you. You could’ve said something.”
Gregory looked up, “Yes, I could but I didn’t. You obviously love this time of year and I have no objections.”
Wesley knelt down and pulled his boyfriend in for a kiss, “Babe, you’re right, I do love this time of year but I want to do all of these things with you. Last year, I wasn’t so excited. I spent almost all of my time at work. Having you with me for the biggest holiday of the year is the only tradition I really want to keep.”
Gregory twined his fingers in Wesley’s honey-coloured curls and he said in between kisses, “Does this mean that we can skip your work party?”
Wesley laughed, “If we don’t go then my brother will never let me hear the end of it. I’ll tone it down a bit but we’re still expected at my mother’s for dinner on the Solstice.”
Gregory sighed, “It’s going to go terribly. Ana will be the only one willing to speak to me again and she is a darling but I don’t know the first thing about theatre. She spoke about ballet for half an hour last week.”
“I suppose. I’m surprised your brother left me with her for so long.”
“Anthony does not have a problem with you.”
“The rest of your family?”
Wesley failed to hide a wince, “The important people do not have a problem with you. Nobody listens to Uncle Joe and my mother called me to specifically invite you to the Solstice dinner.”
“She called you so that she didn’t have to call me.”
“Gregory, I promise, my mother does not have a problem with you.”
Gregory leaned back in the chair and sighed, “I never thought that I would have this problem. I should not have to worry about my boyfriend’s mother. I’m far too old for that.”
“That’s fine Babe but, so long as you’re there and I get to spend the holiday with you I don’t really care. We’ll have the whole morning to ourselves and when I get back after the Moon Hunt we can disappear so that it’s just you and me when midnight arrives.”
Gregory wasn’t going to lie that the thought was appealing apart from the large portion of the day when he would be surrounded by people he wanted to impress for the first time in decades. So far, Wesley’s family had proved to him that first impressions were hard to move past.
“Your mother is going to be awkward around me again, isn’t she?”
“Yeah, but hopefully I can steer my little cousins in her direction so that she’ll be distracted.” Wesley stood up and pulled Gregory out of his chair, “Come on, we still have twenty boxes of sweets to wrap.”
“My cousins, obviously, Anthony is definitely not winning this year.”