Cosima was relieved when winter break rolled around. She convinced Delphine to skip the few days before the official start of the holiday, using the advantage of an empty house and the cooler weather to cuddle up with Delphine and Tesla in her favourite sweater on the sofa, watching old Christmas movies on repeat. For weeks she had been trying to decide what to get everyone. Her dad was easy, he always had been. She couldn't afford the whiskey she knew he liked, but there were always gag gifts. Marie was harder. A gift card felt too impersonal, but she didn't know what the woman liked, and John was just as useless as he always was buying gifts for people.
Delphine was the most difficult. Cosima wanted to get her something nice, something that was special enough to show how she really felt, but she couldn't give anything away, and her tendency to procrastinate meant that she was one of the obnoxious people running around before Christmas Day trying to cram all their shopping into the space of a few hours. She stopped in the bookstore first, armed with nothing more than the bank card she'd managed to wrangle away from her father, and a vague idea of what she wanted to buy.
In the end, she did settle on a gift card for Marie, hoping that it would be well received, and two books for Delphine; one on immunology, and another on cloning. She stared fondly at the gift bag, her chest swelling with hope that Delphine would enjoy them. The bracelet caught her eye while she was in the mall, on her way to get her father a pair of ugly socks as a gag, and a new watch as his actual present. It was twisted gold, the same colour as Delphine's hair, and on sale, although the price was still a pretty penny. Cosima stared at it through the display case with a light frown. She could afford it, she knew, but there would hardly be any money left in her account after.
“Screw it,” she muttered to herself, and called for the attention of the woman in black on the other side of the store.
Delphine liked decorating the most. It had taken them so long to find the boxes with all of their combined possessions that it ended up being almost too late to put anything up, but the blonde wasn't deterred. Under her breath, she hummed and softly sang along in French to the music that drifted through the house from the speakers Cosima had taken time to set up. Cosima had always been useless at decorating. She was too clumsy to be trusted with the more fragile ornaments, and too short to reach the higher boughs of the tree, or to string lights along the edge of the roof. She'd probably fall off the ladder if she was allowed up on it. She played her part by setting out the various knick-knacks her and her father had picked up over the years on tables, and making sure they had an almost never-ending supply of carols to listen to.
“What are you singing?” Cosima asked. Delphine was stringing tinsel around the tree, too high up for Cosima to reach. The blonde looked over her shoulder. “It's not Jingle Bells.”
“It is for you,” Delphine replied. “The words are different, but the tune is the same.”
“You have a really nice voice.” Delphine's cheeks flushed pink.
“Thank you,” she said. “Could you help me with this, please. I can't let go to get to the other side.” Cosima snorted.
“I'm too short,” she replied.
“Not if you stand on your toes. Please, Cosima?” Cosima sighed lightly and pushed to her feet with feigned annoyance.
“The things I do for you,” she said, and placed her hands on Delphine's hips to shuffle the blonde out of the way. “I'll hold it, you go fix the other side. I can't loop it that high.” Delphine grinned at her, and placed a kiss against her cheek at the corner of her lips. Cosima held the tinsel and let her twist it the rest of the way around the tree, and while Delphine fetched the angel from its box on the table amongst the wrappings of the rest of the tree ornaments, fixed what her hands could reach until it hung neatly among the decorations.
“This angel is beautiful,” Delphine said, staring fondly at the object in her hands.
“It's been in the family for ages. Used to be my gran's, then my mom's. It's mine now, I guess. Or it will be when I move out,” Cosima said with a smile. Delphine grinned at her, then stood on her toes to carefully balance the angel at the top of the tree.
“There,” she declared, taking a step back. “Go turn off the lights, Cosima. I will turn the tree on.” Cosima stood by the wall switch, and waited until Delphine straightened up from the base of the tree before she turned the overhead light off. The lights basked the room in a soft white glow. Cosima smiled, her eyes finding Delphine's in the dim. Slowly, she closed the distance, and reached for the blonde's hand. Delphine squeezed her fingers and turned back to the tree. “It's beautiful.”
“Yeah,” Cosima agreed softly, but all she could see was the way the light fell across Delphine's cheek.
John didn't last very long into Christmas Eve. After the house guests from their small party dispersed, he promptly fell asleep in his armchair with half a glass of eggnog still left on the table next to him. With Marie having gone to bed, leaving Cosima with instructions to wake her father when she went upstairs, it left her and Delphine free to cuddle up on the sofa with Tesla curled on the cushion next to them, watching It's A Wonderful Life on TV. It had taken some coaxing, but eventually Cosima's continuous reassurances that it was perfectly normal for them to snuggle, especially with Tesla taking up so much room, won her over. Delphine played with her fingers under the blanket that covered their laps.
When the clock on the cable box hit midnight, Cosima squeezed Delphine's hand. She wanted to kiss her, but not with her father in the room with them, even if he was sleeping. Later, she thought, with a whispered “Merry Christmas,” and showered their dozy puppy with kisses instead.
“Sleep in my room tonight,” Cosima said softly in the quiet that followed her shutting off the television. Delphine smiled sadly and shook her head.
“I can't. Maman always wakes me up on Christmas morning. What would she think if she found me in your bed, hm?” She tugged playfully on a strand of Cosima's hair. “You can have Tesla tonight.”
“Can I have you tomorrow, then?” Cosima asked.
“We'll see,” Delphine replied, and threw the blanket off. Cosima watched her until she vanished up the stairs before getting to her feet to rouse her father.
When Cosima was little, she'd woken up hours before her parents had and run into their room to annoy them until they let her go downstairs. The first Christmas after her mother died, she'd spent the night in John's room, swaddled in a plethora of blankets. The smiles in the morning when the rest of her family arrived had been forced, but it helped to lighten the cloud that had settled over the house. Now, she listened to the soft muttering of French through the wall, and sleepily forced herself to abandon the comforting warmth of her blankets to take Tesla outside.
“Merry Christmas, Cos,” John said when she passed him. Cosima grumbled in response, still half asleep, and winced when John playfully cuffed the back of her head. Behind her, Delphine giggled. Cosima flushed and looked over her shoulder to stick out her tongue. “Hurry up with the dog, Cosima, unless you want to be stuck opening your gifts when your grandfather is here.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Cosima replied, giving Tesla a light nudge to get him down the stairs. “I'm going.” Delphine caught her arm before she could follow the dog.
“Joyeux Noël, Cosima,” she whispered, and placed a kiss next to Cosima's ear.
There wasn't much, but Cosima had learned years ago that it was quality over quantity. She bullied John into going first, teasing that he was the oldest, so he had to. He rolled his eyes at her, and when he opened the socks, promptly lobbed them at her head. Cosima ducked out of the way with a chuckle, leaving Tesla to chase after them.
“He can have them,” John laughed before Cosima could grab his collar to pull him away. “Where's my real present, Cos, I know you got me one.” Cosima smiled cheekily and tossed him the small watch box she'd wrapped. Tesla carried the socks to his spot on the floor between Cosima and Delphine and chewed quietly. Cosima and Delphine's hands brushed when they both went to pet him at the same time. Cosima jerked her hand away first, but Delphine was smiling. She placed it back, letting the side of her pinkie graze the blonde's palm. John gave her a pleased smile when he wrangled the watch out of its packaging. She started to apologize when she held out the envelope with Marie's gift card, but her step-mother stopped her with a smile.
“There is no need to apologize, Cosima,” she said. “We have time to get to know each other. I wasn't sure what to get you either, and your father was no help, so we got you a gift card as well. Get yourself something nice with it, yes?” Cosima grinned.
“Thank you,” she replied. Delphine nudged her shoulder.
“You go next, Cosima,” she said. Cosima shook her head.
“No, you're older.”
“Only by a few months.”
“Just go together,” John said. “The family is going to be here soon. We need to make sure everything is cleaned up before they arrive.” Cosima waited anyway, balancing the wrapped box Delphine handed her on her knee. Delphine grinned at her and ran her hand along the cover of one of the books.
“These look fascinating, Cosima,” she said. “Thank you. Now, it is your turn. Go on, open it.” Cosima tore eagerly at the paper.
“Woah, cool,” she muttered under her breath. Distracted, she brushed wrapping paper out of Tesla's reach, and lifted the kit in her lap to examine it more closely. It was one of the do your own science crystal growing kits for little kids, but Cosima had always loved them, despite their simplicity. She bit her lip and tightened her grip on the box to keep for reaching for Delphine.
“Do you like it then?” the blonde asked, hopeful.
“I love it,” Cosima replied, and flashed Delphine a broad grin.
As much as she loved her family, Cosima was relieved when they were all gone, and the day was over. The adults had agreed to take the day after Christmas off, but after, Cosima and Delphine still had through New Year's before they had to go back to school, and Cosima was looking forward to nothing more that copious amounts of time alone with the blonde. There was something else on her mind though, all centred on the box in her hands that she turned over and over while she waited for Delphine to finish up in the bathroom.
“God, I hope she likes it,” she muttered under her breath, then glanced down at Tesla, stretched out by her feet. “Do you think she will, Tes? I hope she does.” She jumped when the door opened. Delphine gave her a curious look.
“Were you talking to the dog again?” she asked with a smile. Cosima tilted her head and frowned lightly. Something was off about Delphine. She seemed nervous. “What?”
“Nothing,” Cosima replied, shaking her head. Delphine shut the door quietly behind her. She indicated the box.
“It's, uh, it's a gift. For Christmas.” Delphine sat next to her on the bed, gently taking the box from her. “I saw it when I was shopping and I thought of you, so...” Delphine bit her lip as she tipped the lid open, and her gasp and the look wonderment that followed was worth every single penny Cosima had spent.
“Oh, Cosima,” Delphine breathed, lifting the bracelet carefully and tilting it towards the light. “C'est beau.”
“Here,” Cosima said. “Let me put it on for you.” She tried to ignore the way her fingers trembled as she fastened the clasp. Delphine trailed her own across it, then bit her lip, her expression morphing into something completely different.
“I have something for you, too,” she said, and stood. Curious, Cosima watched. Delphine pushed her shorts off her hips, and quickly tugged her shirt over her head.
“Woah,” Cosima said.
“Do you like it, then?” Delphine asked.
“Yes,” Cosima replied, her eyes darting over the lingerie. Delphine's shoulders relaxed at her answer. She straddled Cosima's hips, taking care to remove her glasses and set them to the side before splaying her hands across Cosima's cheeks and tilting her head back to firmly kiss her. The metal of her bracelet was chilly against the underside of Cosima's jaw.