Twelve Days of Saturnalia
”Well then! It is finally here, the Christmas countdown of this year! And what better place to hold it than here, in my glorious golden house, Domus Aurea! Yes, it is I, Red Saber, but for the duration of this fic, thou can call me Santa Nero! I dress in red, after all.”
Had there been any audience in Domus Aurea, they might have actually applauded. But because Nero was alone on the stage, only silence answered her. Well, that’s not true either. There was one voice, a voice of complaint, which came from behind her.
“Santa Nero, my ass! Who cares about all of that?? The real question is, why did you drag me here, and why are you even arranging something as ridiculous as this!?” the one person who was more golden than the place around him complained.
“Ah, Gilgamesh-sensei, I see you got here safely”, Nero turned to look at him, smiling. Gilgamesh grimaced.
“Just before you tricked me into a trap and carried me here in a sack. Don’t try to act like you are innocent”, he groaned. Nero laughed and waved her hand, as if to shoo the implication away.
“Not to worry! It was just a little Yule-time merriment”, she explained. “Be glad that it was I and not the Santa Rider of the last year who caught you in the sack.”
“Ugh. There’s annoying grain of truth right there.”
Gilgamesh, still dressed like he did during the school’s P.E. classes, sighed and sat down on the sofa behind him. The stage of the Domus Aurea had been turned into a huge replica of your typical American Dream Christmas, with fireplace, socks over it, Christmas tree decorated extravagantly, fake windows which displayed a gentle snowfall outside, and generally almost anything you might think when someone mentioned words “stereotype” and “Christmas”. Why Nero had done such a thing was unclear, but Gilgamesh wasn’t anxious to find out.
“So? What the hell are we doing here even?” Gilgamesh finally asked, as Nero busied herself by pouring some wine for both of them. “And did you just steal that wine from my Gate of Babylon, you thieving mongrel?”
“Christmas is the time of gifts, is it not? So I decided to help myself to a gift from you, dear sensei!” Nero explained like it had been the most obvious thing. “And what we are doing here is to hold this year’s Christmas special countdown. The author has prepared twelve heartwarming, fluffy and all-in-all doki-doki stories for the readers to enjoy, and they come together into a yet another special that will be held at 24th of December. Just like last year.”
“Aah, that. Well, at least it won’t be as bad as when that priestess went crazy and abducted everyone.”
“And thus!” Nero sat down next to Gilgamesh and gave her a glass of wine. “How about we start by watching the first story, while enjoying the serene and innocent feeling of Yule-times?”
“Don’t talk to me about innocent while wearing those clothes”, Gilgamesh groaned. “Both your ass and your panties can be seen. Don’t defile my dear Saber-chan’s image by dressing like a Pompeian whore!”
“Why, it’s nothing like that!” Nero laughed merrily. “I am just allowing the world to see my beautiful body. You can appreciate that too, don’t you, sensei? Though you’ll have to wait till after the story that you can continue admiring my buttocks, as beautiful as they are.”
“I hate you. You are nothing like my true love, Saber-chan”, Gilgamesh’s teeth grinded together.
“But I am a Saber too, so it is alright, is it not?” Nero took a sip of wine and laughed. She then swiftly put her hand over Gilgamesh’s shoulder and pulled him close with ridiculous strength, almost strangling him. “So, go ahead! Lean on me and cuddle up to me all you want, sensei! ‘tis just fitting, for we are watching fluffy and heartwarming stories!”
“Y-you damn Heracles-freak….” Gilgamesh managed to mutter.
“And so, here is our first story. And it is called….!”
Saber waved her hand, and a huge silver-screen descended from the ceiling of the Domus Aurea. It rolled open and positioned itself so that the two sitting on the couch could get a perfect view. Then, from a projector operated by Neco-Arc and Neco-Arc Babbles, the first story was finally blasted to the silver screen.
And its title was…
Twelve Days of Saturnalia
Holy Fireplace War
“Aah………peace and quiet. The best presents of Christmas.”
Female Player had just finished yet another tiring day, grinding levels in the Arena, and now she had finally time to sit down and relax. Outside the room she could see how digitalized snowflakes slowly drifted down to the bottom of the Sea of Electrons, creating winter-like scenery that looked so fake that it was almost shameful. But it added some feeling to the current day, and it seemed like Moon Cell was a thing that cared, for some strange reason, about dramatic layout of all situations.
Player stretched and warmed herself in the heat of the fireplace, and let out a satisfied purr like that of a cat. It had been long that she could relax like this, and she was going to get everything out of this one evening that she had to herself. Since Blackmore had been ordered by Moon Cell to act as a Santa Claus for the competitors of the Holy Grail War, their fight had been postponed till after the Christmas festivities. And she was very, very okay with that.
“Maybe I’ll make some hot cocoa for myself…” Player thought and got up from the sofa. “Fujimura-sensei gave me some, and it should go well with the lunch Sakura had made.”
She walked over to the kitchen, where she poured herself some milk, added cocoa powder, and put it in the microwave to heat it. Apparently the Harways were sure that microwave was already advanced enough, and thus no new models were put to the markets. Apparently, if microwaves “evolved” more, they would become sentient and take over the world. In any case, Player also took the Christmas lunch she had gotten from Sakura, and marveled at how she had managed to paint all the octopus wieners with colors of black and red. Even the omelet-rice had a Christmas greeting drawn into it with ketchup.
It read: “Wait till CCC! Then I’ll be important agaaaaaain!”
“Oh that Sakura. Always joking around”, Player chuckled warmly. “Doesn’t she know she already lost to Rider in popularity poll?”
After the hot cocoa was ready, Player took it from the microwave, grabbed the lunch, and headed back to the living room. The idea of sitting in front of the fireplace and enjoying her lunch and hot cocoa was making her heart jump with joy, and she planned on savoring every second of that moment she would get to herself.
But as she got to the living room…
Archer was sitting on the sofa, sprawled, taking up so much space that there was no way she could fit in there anymore. It was the typical sitting position of Archer, and it was clear that he had no intention of moving or making more space on the sofa at all. Player’s eyebrow twitched.
“Archer. Why are you there?”
“Why…? Well, I thought I’d enjoy the warmth of the fireplace here”, he explained matter-of-factly. “Oh, since you are standing up right now, could you get me something to eat, Master? I was tracing presents all day after we left the Arena, so I’m somewhat tired right now.”
----------- It was bad.
Player’s eyebrow was twitching ever more furiously.
“Archer, as you can see, I’ve got my hands full. So can’t you stand up and get food by yourself?” she asked, hoping that with this, she could get the Servant to move.
Archer thought for a moment, and…
“Nah, on the other hand, I don’t think I’m hungry.”
Grrrr! Player was grinding her teeth together, trying to stay calm. Her Servant managed, with his annoying attitude, to always make her feel frustrated, no matter what he did. And it was, of course, so in this case too. That was why she had to device some plan to get Archer off that sofa.
“A-archer? Could you go get some wood for our fireplace? We don’t want to run out now, do we?” Player finally asked. Archer looked at her for long, long few seconds, before…
“Master. We’re in Moon Cell right now. That thing will burn as long as we need to.”
Yet another failure.
“O-oh! I think I forgot the trigger in the Arena! Archer, could you go get it for me?” Player tried one, last, desperate measure.
This time Archer looked at her longer than before, and finally……snickered sarcastically.
“Master. The truth is, you want to sit here, isn’t it?”
“T-that’s…!” Player cursed inside her mind, and grinded her teeth together. That annoying expression on her Servant’s face…it…it…
Player put the hot cocoa and the lunch on the table.
“So, the cat is out of the bag, I guess……well, in that case…”
“What? Are you going to get another chair?” Archer asked, still grinning like an idiot. Player shook her head, laughed darkly, and cracked her knuckles.
“…………It’s time to use fooooooooooorce!!!” she screamed out and lunged at Archer.
With the power of a panther, Player attacked forward, screaming out her annoyance. Archer, seeing that this was not just a joke, quickly got his hands up and prepared for the brawl. At least he would have to be ready!
”Master, how horrible are you, using code casts against your own Servant!?” Archer howled. But he only got anger as an answer.
“One has to, when they’re being smartasses!”
Archer grimaced. This wasn’t good. He knew that his Master could not cause him much damage since she was kind of small, but nevertheless, one never knew what could happen in a fight. After all, the smallest of Servants in the game still horrified him, let alone the thought of having a “tea party” with her. In other words, Archer knew he would have to be on his toes, even against his own Master. Who knew what that girl would come up with?
“Break, Break, Break, Break, Break, Break!” Player shouted. Archer chuckled.
“Sorry, Master. But you need to be cleverer than that to hit me. I’ll just spam attack and-“
In that instant, Player’s shoe buried itself into Archer’s crotch with dangerous power.
“So it was that kind of break!?” Archer moaned.
In the end, the fight did not seem to go anywhere. With her Master going berserk enough to make Rani impressed, Archer had no choice but to use all his skills to defend himself and his most precious spot. The squabble over the place in the sofa grew long and longer, until it finally left both participants breathing heavily and so tired their movements became sluggish. Archer saw his chance in this, and raised his hands as in a sign of surrender.
“M-Master! Please, listen to me! I know you want to sit there, but as you know, I’ve really had a hard day. Is there any way you could let me sit?” he asked, trying to coax her into a peaceful solution with a calm tone of voice.
“Then why do you need to take so much space in that sofa? There’s no way I can fit there, too. Sit normally, will you?” she demanded.
Archer laughed darkly and looked downcast.
“I would if I could. But have you ever seen me sitting in other way? It’s like they’ve cursed me to have arms longer than longcat, and sitting style that fills a whole living room”, he lamented.
“S-sorry”, Player said, realizing the truth in his words. It seemed that the subject was kind of a sore spot.
There was a long moment of silence between the two, as they stared at each others’ eyes and had a competition of wills. It continued for a minute. Two minutes. Three minutes…
……And then. Eventually, Player lifted her hands up and sighed in resignation.
“Oh, alright. Just sit there, then. I’ll find something else on which I can sit and relax, while watching the fireplace roar”, she said. Archer nodded, grateful.
“Thank you, Master. I’ll make it up to you, later.”
With that, Archer finally sat down to the sofa and took his usual pose. It came so automatically that it was clear that he did not do it on purpose. He gave an apologetic smile to Player, who just shook her hand, as if saying it was alright. Player walked to the table and took her lunch and hot cocoa from there. Then she started scanning the living room with her eyes, trying to find some kind of place where it would be easy to relax and enjoy the warmth of the fireplace.
But it was harder than it sounded. Moon Cell wasn’t really a fan of extra furniture, after all.
For few moments, Player wondered if she would have to sit on the floor.
Then, it finally dawned upon her. With a completely straight face, she looked at Archer, who quickly realized that his Master’s eyes were upon him.
“What is it, Master?”
“Archer, you said you’d return the favor in some way, some day, didn’t you?” Player asked.
“Yes, I did.”
“Then, can you do something for me now? You don’t need to get up from the sofa, just stay there.”
“Y-yes, I suppose so…” Archer said, wondering what it was that Player meant.
Player, after taking a deep breath, walked up to the sofa. She looked at Archer for few seconds straight in the eyes, long enough to unnerve the Servant, and then…
She plopped down on Archer’s lap, leaning her back to his broad chest.
“M-Master…?” Archer looked quite a bit surprised. Player, on the other hand, seemed a bit sulky, her cheeks red.
“You have a problem with this?”
“…..No. Not really”, Archer answered with a smile.
And with those words, a small smile appeared on Player’s face too.
“Me neither. After all, I get to enjoy two kinds of warmth here. The one from the fireplace…..” Player turned to look up to Archer, who returned her gaze with some embarrassment. “…..and the one from you.”
And with that, she snuggled deeper against Archer.
Few minutes of comfortable silence later.
“Merry Christmas, Archer.”
Archer planted a kiss on top his Master’s head.
“Merry Christmas, Master.”
“Ooooh, now wasn’t that heartwarming, sensei?” Nero asked after the short-story had ended. Gilgamesh grimaced.
“How is a tsundere-Master punishing that faker supposed to be heartwarming?” he groaned.
“You just don’t see it in the right light, sensei”, Nero chuckled. “But do not worry. We’ve got twelve more heartwarming stories coming in the following days, so you will have plenty of chances to get that certain feeling in your chest.”
“Oh, in all honesty…!” Nero sighed and took a better hold of Gilgamesh’s head.
And then, with her lion-like strength, she slammed it straight against her lap, almost knocking the King of Heroes out cold because of the collision. She them beamed a smile at him, which was returned with a look of pain and annoyance.
“There! You should feel good now, no? My lap is the most comfortable lap in the world, after all! An artistic lap!” Nero exclaimed.
“To be honest, I would feel safer even on Alter’s lap…” Gilgamesh complained, but not loud enough so that the Red Devil could hear.
“Well then, till the next time!” Nero shouted to the missing audience. “When we return with the second day of Twelve Days of Saturnalia!”