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Simon smacked his lips a bit, looking down at the mug. This was different. He could still taste the honey in it but this particular drink had a remarkable punch to it. Stronger than anything he had really had before. The sweetness of honey combined with the smell of spice and spoiled blueberries. It seemed to burn itself down his throat and sit heavily in his stomach. Strangely warming, despite being chilled. "What is this?" He asked, swaying heavily and realizing he was already well past the point of lucid.

"Boggart's brew." Leona took another heavy swig directly from the bottle. She seemed to have held up a bit better, though she had had a wee bit more than he did and was well on her way to inebriation. "Stuff fit for the gut of a boggart. Fulla honey and fruit."

"Mm.." Simon sipped again. "So, on a scale of one to ten, how drunk will this get us?"

"Pre-tay drunk." Leona's tone was airy, as it usually was when she started to fill herself verily with alcohol. The girl could drink more than damn near anyone for miles, save for maybe the old-timer, and was well accustomed to the state. Whenever under the influence of the mighty bottle, she was often a bit more happy and open, letting the stresses of inn keeping dissolve into the glass.

"Cool." Simon slouched, looking his mug over. "Let's see if I can get some happy juice in me and enjoy the solstice or whatever."

"Or Christmas. Right? That's what you said they calldit."

"Yeah." Simon nodded, examining the miniature mistletoe Lilith suggested he bring along for a few hijinks, which still was a bit large for his hand. "Something. Some kinda judaic christian pagan thing."

"With the gifts and the trees?" Leona hummed along.

"Yeah. The gifts and the trees." He held up the small plastic plant and let it hang in his hands in the middle of the table. "And this thing."

"What's that?" Leona leaned in and cocked her head, sinking a bit with her loosened joints.

"Mistletoe. Basically a fungus that a bird shits into a tree. If two people stand under it in human culture, they have to kiss."

Leona shrugged, sounding out a "huh" from behind the bottle she was once again sipping from. "Strange ritual."

"I guess."

"You ev'r been kissed under one?" Leona gave a coy smile.

Simon's face was already red, and he was already pretty far down the path of drunkenness, sinking into his solemn and heavy state of intoxication. Unlike the amazonian nymph before him, he seemed to travel his way down the opposite end of the spectrum whenever he started partaking in liquid festivities. He just didn't care at this point. "Sorta. Not sure if it really counts if someone has lips the size of your torso. I mean, like, my body got some kinda kiss. But it wasn't a mutual kind of thing..." He shrugged.

Leona laughed to herself. "Have you ever had a 'mutual thing'?"

"No." He said sharply, his tone only dulled by the alcohol in his blood.

Leona stopped and thought for a moment, looking down at the boy for a moment and trying to piece together a new conversation, unsure if this was a road she wanted him to follow. She didn't want to focus on the "never" or the "could have" here. This was sort of a holiday. Sort of a celebration. The coldest days of the winter warded many a guest away, and the solstice was the worst of it. That's why everyone stockpiled food and stayed together in these few bleak days.

"So, have you talked to your family lately?" She finally asked, blanking for a moment before realizing what she might have just brought upon him.

"A bit." He sunk, with a bitter sigh. "Sent them my best wishes for the solstice and said I was comin' up here. Y'know. Wunna my bruthers mailed me and said that they all hunt as a group now. So...there's that I guess."

"You never told me much 'bout yer siblings." She swayed in her seat.

"Well, there's, uh, Conner. Donnel. Conan and Lindsay, Jen, and Hillary. M'siblings." He shrugged, and then sighed, his mood already sinking a bit more in contemplation. "Y'know. The seven kids of the Collins family."

"You were the oldest?" She leaned in a bit more in her drunkenness.

"Yep." He held his mug up to his lips and paused, looking into the brew. "Saddled with all the fun shit." He frowned. "Jen came second. But Ma was opposed to her workin' too much. Plus I had two years on her so..." He shrugged. "Dad figured it would just be fitting for me to keep doin' what I had to..."

He ran his finger quietly around his glass. "Walked hundred bloody miles away..." He mumbled to himself.

"Y'know?" He looked up, as if he had been rambling for quite some time and came to a moment of catharsis.

Leona looked at him, her soft blue eyes somehow holding their essence despite her levels of intoxication.

"All of it. All...all....all. Of. It." He slumped backwards in his chair, looking down at his drink. "Day in. Day out. Trainin'. Buildin'. Workin'." Simon went quiet for a moment. "Said I was already a man to him. Said I had to know all a this. And, like, I dunno." He let out a sad laugh. Sort of exhaling in a pattern not unlike a laugh, but not exactly a jubilant chuckle. "I mean, Jen got to have her own childhood, sorta. So did Conner. Don. Lindsay. All of 'em. And I...kinda...y'know...didn't."

Another sip. Maybe it would help him.

It didn't. "But you can't say anything. You can' can' shit. About it. You can't just lash out 'cause...'cause that'll fuck it all up. The whole house 'a cards will just...kaput. Right there. And that's bad. Because if I were to yell at any 'a my brothers and sisters I know I wuddnt git any kind a' satisfaction. I'd just feel like shit."

Another sip. This one had to at least slow his now snowballing tirade.

It didn't. "We all sacrifice our shit. Because we all want it to stay the same. Because we can't jus lash out without hurting people we might love....and..." He sighed, setting the mug on the table. "And...I'm sorry for...for boggin' you down'know." Simon stopped in his tracks and looking intensely into the woodwork of the ceiling.

"''s okay." Leona's tone had changed. No longer was it floozy or uncentered. It seemed to be far more gentle. Warming. Welcoming. "I understand what you're sayin'."

"It's just..." Simon blinked again, sighing heavily. "My dad. Never...he never I did right, he gave me nary a pat on the back. But...but if I did wrong...if I really fucked up....he would...always with the words and the...the scolding. And I wanted to just say I couldn't always do it. I had limits. And emotions. Feelings. Arguments. Countless arguments I cooked up it m'head while I toiled away doin' some kind of asinine bullshit. But I...I just kept it in. Figured whatever came from it would never be worth the damage done. He'd get mad. Ma would get mad at him and I. M'brothers and sisters'd have to see all that at such a young age....but..."

He sat forward, staring at his mug, and then began to lower his head a bit. "The man had seven kids. And...out of all was felt like I...I was the only one he didn't...he didn't want." Simon went quiet, his thoughts spilling out from his head.

His whole childhood. Invalidated and belittled by a single drunken line of thought. He sat into total silence, contemplating this or that. Didn't matter. Really. Nothing did. He was a speck. A speck on a slightly larger speck. His efforts meant nothing. His feelings meant nothing. His-

"Simon?" A voice called out in a gentle tone.

"Hm?" His nihilistic rant was broken when he looked back up at Leona.

"Do you ever wonder why your father did those things?" She asked him.

"Because he wanted to prep me for a nymph invasion?"

"No, I mean, why he really raised you that way?"

Simon paused, thinking over a list of answers he had cooked up anytime his emotions snowballed like this. Paranoid war veteran. Disappointed with his first son and learned to live with it. Angry at him for being the harbinger who killed his free existence. No definite answer. "I dunno...meybey he...didn't want me to be weak."


"He wanted me to be prepped for...I dunno. Anything."

"Right. Simon, your dad probably didn't hate you. Or not want you. He wanted you to be ready. Ready for...well...anything. Really. For...for battle. For danger. For situations in need of a wrench. And...for heartbreak. Disappointment. Neglect..."

"..." Simon paused, looking down into his ale again. Maybe. "...yeah. I just wish he...y'know..."

"I do, Simon. the end...they're still people. Like you or me. Your dad...he's just a guy. With his own fears. And dreams. His own life. And sometimes he might....just...y'know...fuck up."

Simon stopped in his tracks, still sinking deeper into a well of confusion and cathartic anger. Even if he hadn't spoken out against him, he could only imagine what his father might be feeling with Simon away for the break. And then there's the possibility that he just didn't care anymore. Or he never cared. The maelstrom of information and speculation seemed to roar in his stomach and mind, eating away at him slowly while breaking and reassembling his image of the world piece by piece, only to then break it apart again and start anew. He sunk, into a heap on the table.

People may fuck up. People could care. But they could also just be selfish and intolerant. The possibilities ate at him for a moment. And then a familiar hand placed itself upon his shoulder.

"You feelin' alright?" Leona asked.

"Yeah...jus'...jus' a little...I dunno." Simon sighed deeply. "Unsure."

Leona sighed and let her eyes wander the table, where she noticed the plastic mistletoe Simon had been holding a second ago. In her drunkenness it seemed like an okay idea to cheer him up.

"Hey." She smiled, letting her inebriated side wrestle control back from her maternal instincts. "You want a little-pick-me-up?" She held up the mistletoe and smiled warmly. "A little contact with another living being might cheer you up."

Simon looked up and kept a straight face for a few seconds, then sighing and shrugging out of indifference.

"C'mon." She smiled. "Cut loose for once. Let something out instead of keeping it balled up." In an instant, she had pulled him from his chair and sat him on the wall directly behind him.

It had all happened in an instant. Legs. Hips. Curves. Flowing blonde hair. And a set of heavy breasts now pressing heavily against his chest. He was already pinned, hoisted up to Leona's impossible eye-level height and looking her reddened face right in the eyes. It was strange. Being moved like that on such a scale. She moved him with the same ease and care Lilith had. Despite possessing a serious advantage in power, they both handled him with a very protective tenderness. But with Leona it was different.

Lilith was the size of a mountain to him. With an unreal figure that stretched on and on seemingly to no end. Leona had a visible beginning and end but was built in such a way that it was almost attractive. A more personal curvature. It was just a shame he had no real sex drive or thirst for excitement. Or, at least, that's what he told himself.

Leona smiled at him warmly, her sweet scent and warmth taking him in. She got a little closer, pushing him gently into the wall. She held his shoulders, as if he were an equal, and looked him dead in the eye. Only, he didn't know how to react. Embarrassed, and a bit ashamed. Maybe he had brought this behavior upon him. Maybe she was just pretending to care. Maybe...

"You okay?" She asked, lowering the dangling mistletoe down to her side.

"Yeah...just...I don't know. Maybe I feel unclean."


"But-but..not not...y'know. Not 'cause a' you. Just, if you're doing this just to make me happy I don't...I don't want to force you..."

"But I want to cheer you up. I think after all you've let out you could at least opt for a lift in mood."

"But...what...I just...I don't know if it will."

"...well." Leona paused. "Would you like to try and see if it would?"

"...I mean...I guess if you don't mind. I don't want you wasting your time on-"

"Oh, just hush up and try it."

Simon nodded, and Leona got a little bit closer one last time.


And then she pulled back and released him, setting him gently on the ground and returning to her seat. She looked back, finding Simon red in the face and confused. "That was nice." He said calmly. "Uh...thanks for...doin' that."

"Thanks for opening up for a bit. It's nice to see you talk this out." She smiled and took another sip from the boggarts brew. "You're lookin' a little low there. Would you like another glass?"

"...yeah, sure." He sighed and returned to his original place. "Let's see if I can push m'self into happy drunk rather than sad. I don't want to force you to-"

"You were fine, Simon. A bit shaky with it, but I think you'll get it eventually."

A long-ass yuletide writing piece. Not too long, but it took a bit of time to write. Wanted to have a warm moment or something along with another delve into Simon's psyche. Hope it worked.

Got a little lazy with the coloring. I wanted it to be all christmasy but I couldn't decide what the color the clothing so I just went with minimalist colored shading.

As for the writing. Eh. I may have dropped Simon's big moment earlier than I should've, and Leona needs more development, but it's okay. Debated if the two should kiss at the end but the cards just fell as they did. Still no romance, though.

Merry whatever the fuck.

I'm gonna go to bed.

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