quaint little cottage

A Fool of Mine [1]

Originally posted by luuuuuke-evans

Title: A Fool of Mine
Chapter: 1/?
Pairing: Gaston/Reader
Words: 1,088
A/N: This is a part of a series, originally posted on my AO3. Additional chapters can be found there, but I will be posting them here as well!
Summary: Your family has just moved in an attempt to start a new life. At first, the small town of Villeneuve seems perfect, until you are endlessly followed around by the town hero, a man so jaded you’re intrigued as to what in his past may have made him that way. The answers, however, are much darker than you would’ve liked.
“And I realize you’re mine. Indeed, a fool of mine…”
[Chapter Summary:  You’ve moved to a new town, and you decide to explore.]
Part 2 can be found here

“____, my love, we’re almost to town, wake up dear…”

You slowly opened your eyes, still drowsy and unaware of your circumstances. One small yawn and a quick stretch later, you glanced around, watching the grass and patches of wild flowers roll by.

You were traveling with your family - no, you were moving. It had been a long journey from your old city, but you quite enjoyed the peace and quiet of the countryside.


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Cazriel Fake Married Fic - Part 1/?

Wouldn’t Dream of It, Dearest

Ship: Cazriel

Summary: Fake Married Trope, fluff so ridiculous and sweet it will rot your teeth and soul whole, bed sharing, drunkenness, cuddles. The antidote to tonight’s silliness. 

Part One

“We’ll need agents doing groundwork, collecting as much information as possible for before we strike,” Rhys said, rubbing his jaw, which was thick with three days worth of unshaven stubble. None of them had been sleeping or cleaning properly since Vassa had explained to them just what kind of trouble brooded to the east upon the Continent. “It’ll be a long mission. We can’t afford to reveal our intent until we are sure we have found a weakness to exploit.”

The tales they had heard of Koschei had left them all petrified, tales of a deathless sorcerer who could not be killed, for his soul was buried beneath a tree. A being who took all he desired without a second thought, and had countless monsters wielded in his charge to do his bidding. Most prevalent of all, however, was his penchant for stealing young virgins and beautiful maidens and enslaving them to his will, cursing them as he had Vassa.

And now he had set his sights on Feyre, the legendary woman from across the sea, a prize whose rarity eclipsed them all.

“I’m not sending anyone,” Azriel said shortly, arms crossed tight over his chest, his back tense, straight. “It’s too dangerous, and I won’t risk them on a suicide mission. I’ll go.”

“You can’t go on your own, Az,” Rhys countered. “Else you’ll end up just like Helion. No. I’ll go with you.”

“Don’t be stupid,” Mor, Az, and Amren all snapped in unison, making their high lord raise an eyebrow.

“You need to keep things in order here. Protect your mate,” Az said as calmly as he could manage when his High Lord insisted on being a self-sacrificing moron. Said High Lord huffed and pouted like a sulking infant, but did not protest further.

“Obviously, we know the solution to this,” Cassian said with a theatrical sigh, placing his hand on his chest before swooning against Azriel - it was a good thing Azriel was a well-trained warrior, because the bastard was heavy. “I must go too, to protect my precious little bat baby.”

“I’m older than you.”

“So precious,” Cassian sighed, now with an arm hooked around Azriel’s neck, trapping him as he stroked his hair with actual, real fake tears in his eyes. “Too good for this cruel world.”

“At least we know he can act,” Rhys said dryly, bemused by the display before him but not shooting the idea down. “We can’t just have two Illyrian warriors turn up and move next door to his Lake. You’ll need a cover.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” Amren said, eyes narrow, smile wicked as she studied the two boys. “I’ve got just that thing.”


“What a lovely place,” Cassian remarked, looking around at the quaint little village and the cottage they had recently purchased. “I do think we’ll be quite happy here.”

“Oh, you have a wife?” Asked the girl from the adjacent house, who had come out to welcome the new neighbours and found herself really quite pleased to find a strapping, handsome man posing outside the gate.

Chuckling, Cassian shrugged. “I suppose you could say that. Dearest?” He yelled. “Stop obsessing over how the china is arranged and come meet our lovely neighbour. Caroel, was it?”

“Yes,” the girl, who was a new bride herself, said with a blush. “Have you been married long?”

“Oh no. We just got back from our honeymoon. Newly minted lovebirds we are. Dearest, do hurry up!”

Scowling bitterly, the person who emerged from the cottage did not look the slightest bit like a blushing bride. Instead he looked like a child who had just had his sandcastle destroyed, possibly seconds away from steam coming out of his ears. “What?” He snapped irritably at his ‘husband’.

“Just showing you off darling,” Cassian answered sweetly, before lowering his voice to a conspiratorial whisper and murmuring to Caroel. “We’ve been travelling for two weeks. He gets awfully cranky when we can’t- you know.”

Whether Azriel heard that comment or not, Cass couldn’t say; Regardless, he gave Caroel the briefest of nods before turning on his heels and storming back off into the cottage. “Well, better go help out with the unpacking! Pleasure to meet you neighbour!” Cassian called, following him inside with a cheerful wave.


“You aren’t really mad, are you?” Cassian asked, as they sat on the couches that night and ate the tinned tomatoes and pasta Cassian had heated up for them. He’d go to the store and get some proper food tomorrow.

“I am an Illyrian Warrior, Shadowsinger to The Most Powerful High Lord and Lady ever.” Azriel stabbed some spaghetti. “And here I am playing house.”

“For the greater good.”

“I feel ridiculous.”

Shuffling over on the cushions, Cassian slung an arm around his fake-husband’s shoulders. “Oh relax you big baby. It’s just pretending. Besides, how different is it really? We’ve lived together since we were kids. We’ve fought together. Trained together. And now we’re spying together.” Grinning, he twirled a forkful of spaghetti onto his fork and held it up to his beautiful wife’s mouth. “Just a chance to spend some good-quality bro time together.”

Azriel stared back at him. He deliberated for a hot second, before reluctantly glomping the offered food and swallowing. “Fine,” he said through his mouthful. “But I am not doing anything… married couple-y.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it, dearest.”


To be fair to Cassian, he had mostly forgotten that when Caroel and Kain asked them to come over for dinner, it would be as a couple themselves, not as two platonic dudes there just to eat pizza and banter. To his surprise, however, they arrived in the evening to their neighbour’s cottage to find it lit by candlelight, soft jazz music playing from the corner.  

“We haven’t had a couple over in ages,” Caroel said warmly, ushering them in and over to the set dining table. “Everyone who’s married has been fleeing away from- well, you know who. Don’t want to risk raising a child or settling down around someone so prone to…” She trailed off, her husband placing a comforting hand upon her shoulder. She forced a smile. “Well. Our families have been here for ten generations, so no way are we moving just for some stuffy old Tyrant. After all, if we did that in this world, we’d be moving every two years! There seems to be a surplus of their kind lately… I heard in Prythian, they just finished cleaning up after the last one.”

“What can you tell us about Koschei?” Azriel asked, ever the alert spy, locking onto the change to dig up information like a hawk. He did seem a little bit too keen though, in Cassian’s opinion, to be passing as a homely husband just over for a nice spot of dinner.

“Oh, you don’t want to hear about that,” Caroel fussed, dismissing him with a wave of her hand. “Not good talk for appetites. On that note, can I get either of you some wine?”

Azriel, being a professional douchebag, and a douchebag professional, decline, but Cassian downed nearly two glasses of the red before dinner was even served. Alcohol helped numb the lingering pain in his wings and muscles from the battle with Hybern, as the tears lingered, his wings hardly surviving yet another shredding so soon after the infiltration of Hybern’s castle. It also helped him make up for Azriel, who was stiff and cold and unconversational, so he covered up the silence with loud chatter and laughter. By dessert, he had one arm looped around his husband’s shoulders and was hugging him close.

“Ah yes, you see we met in a summer camp,” Cassian answered, when Kain asked for how they’d ended up together. “We hated each other at first. This one’s always been a little bit of a sulky bat baby.” Said sulky bat baby was already flushed scarlet at the intimate hold he was in, and only burned darker as Cassian twiddled his forefinger into his cheek to give him dimples. “But you know, true love will out. We stuck with each other through thick and thin. It’s hard not to love someone so serious and caring.”

“And with such a lovely ass,” Caroel, who’d helped Cassian drink two bottles of wine, added. They both laughed at Kain and Azriel’s expense, and high-fived.

“I think we’d better go home,” Azriel said tightly, and Kain seemed to agree a little too quickly, a possessive hand resting upon his wife’s arm.

“Put I haven’t even told them about that one time when we-”

“Home. Now.” Az practically dragged him from his chair, only just catching him in time when his drunken legs failed to support him.

“Oopsie,” Cassian giggled. “You’ll have to carry me, my love.”

Seething wordlessly, Azriel said their thanks to their hosts and hauled Cassian out of the door back out the lane and down to their own cottage, struggling to manage him and the keys as he unlocked the door. “I am going to kill you,” he warned the other man under his breath, still warm in the face from humiliation.

“Oh, you love me really,” Cassian slurred with another giggle. “No one compliments your ass like I do.”

“Yeah, you’re a real poet.”

That seemed to be the wrong thing to say, for as Azriel sat about heaving Cassian over to the sofa, he cried, “Shall I compare thy’s arse to a summer day? Tis more lovely and more shapely. Rough winds do shake the darling cheeks of-” With Cassian collapsed upon the sofa, Azriel grabbed a pillow and straddled him, smothering the terrible verse without mercy, ignoring the thrashing of his vulgar husband beneath him.

“Are you quiet done?” Cassian yelled a muffled reply, which he took to mean yes. Sucking in breath as he was released, Cass looked up at his murderous beloved and grinned blearily.

“My beautiful wife.”

“You can’t get that drunk here. What if you’d said something?”

“Like how much I love you?”

“Urgh. You’re impossible.”

“Impossibly handsome you mean.”

“Impossibly imbecilic.”

Chuckling in good - or intoxicated - humour, Cassian gradually fell quiet, staring up at him. With a shaky, uncoordinated hand he reached up and managed to touch Az’s cheek, cradling his jaw. “You are lovely.”

“And you are drunk.”

“Even when I’m sober, you’re lovely. You’re always there, for everyone. Always protecting. Always caring.”

“I don’t know why I bother with you,” Az replied dryly, leaning away from his touch. There was something deeply disturbing about the way his stomach twisted in response, about how he wanted to lean in, not out.

Gazing at him with heavy, sad eyes, Cassian said nothing for a moment before smiling softly. He moved his hand down to Azriel’s waist, and then hooked an arm around his chest. In a flash, he’d pulled him down, and lay spooning him on the sofa. “Stay with me tonight,” Cassian said. “It’s been lonely sleeping down here every night while you’re off in the bedroom.”

“I told you we could swap,” Az pointed out, very glad for the dark and Cassian’s inebriated state, for he did not want his burning cheeks to be witnessed by anyone, not even the Cauldron.

“That’s not the point.”

Frozen by the odd, clenching sensation in his gut, Az counted five minutes before he reckoned Cass had to be asleep, and moved to slip from his grip. “Stay,” Cass whispered, his breath hot and close against his neck, his ear, raising the soft, downy hairs upon his neck. “Please.”

“This sofa isn’t big enough for the both of us.”

Cass was quiet, before cuddling closer into his back. “I can’t sleep,” he said, no longer laughing, smiling - Az could hear the vulnerability in the wobble in his voice. “Not since…. Not since the battle.” He laughed, shakily. “I don’t know why. I’ve nearly died a thousand times. But this… this was different. I was so weak. I couldn’t protect anyone. Not even Nesta, not even after I promised her…”

Considering for a moment, Az said nothing. Instead, he slipped out from Cassian’s grip and bent down, scooping the overgrown bat up into his arms - it was a good thing he was a lot stronger than he looked, because the War General was heavy. “Az?” Keeping a firm grip on the man, he carried him through to the master bedroom he’d been occupying for the month they’d been staying there and plopped Cass down on the left hand side.

“No matter how big those puppy eyes get Cass, that sofa isn’t going to get any bigger. You can sleep here. Just for tonight.”

Gaping at him like he had just preformed a holy miracle, Cass watched him as he stripped off to his birthday suit and clambered into bed neck to him, lying on his side to face him so that his wings could flop over the side of the bed. “You sure?”

“Yeah,” Az said with as much nonchalance as he could manage with Cass’s face so close and his breath so hot as it danced across his face, tickling his lashes. “What else are husband’s for?”

“I thought that pretence shamed you for all eternity.”

Studying the big goof of a war hero before him, Azriel smirked in spite of himself, reaching over and brushing Cassian’s fringe out of his eyes. “I could never be ashamed of you. You’re family.
And you’re my closest friend.”

“Except Mor,” Cass pointed out.

“I don’t know about that,” Az said under his breath, his fingers lingering in Cass’s hair, curling and uncurling loose strands around his forefinger. “Sometimes… it feels like she’s keeping something from me. And honestly, I don’t think I have the right to demand it from her. I keep things from her too.

“But you,” Az sighed, “you found them out by fate. It was inevitable, what with us going on so many missions and battles together.”

“You mean… what happens to you at night? What you say in your sleep?” Cass said, a little more clunky in his phrasing than perhaps intended thanks to the alcohol.

“…Yeah. And other stuff.”

Silence enveloped them once again, though they were so close, knees touching, that they could each hear the other’s breathing, the other’s heartbeat. Smell the alcohol and ink on each other’s skin. “I could never be ashamed of you either, Az,” Cass said finally, catching the hand stroking his hair as he looked over at the man whom he had known since he was just a boy frozen in ice, new to a world beyond four cramped walls. “I think you’re brilliant.”

Az snorted softly, a wry smile on his face. “You’re not so bad yourself. Now go to sleep, else this hangover is going to kill you.”

“Know it all.”


“Goody two shoes.”


Sniggering, Cass leaned forward suddenly, too quickly for Azriel to react. He pecked him softly on the forehead. “Night husband.” Az watched him flop back into the sheets and pass out within a couple of seconds, the booze sweeping him under. He watched him breathe, slow and steady, as his own heart raced.

“Good night.”  


(via Quaint little cottage | Houghton, Cambridgeshire by Victoria Warren | Flickr)

Don’t Need Anything Else

Tony grimaced, burrowing his head under the covers, ducking away from the bright light coming in the windows.  “J’vis, lights twenty percent,” he mumbled, his eyes still clamped shut.  Nothing happened, and that’s what brought him awake – Jarvis never, ever failed to respond, not unless he’d been compromised.

He sat up quickly.  “Jarvis?!” he called out in alarm, on the verge of panicking.  His breath quickened, and he struggled to untangle himself from the covers that seemed to be deliberately trying to pin him in place.  With a hard shove, he was out…and face first on the floor.  “Ow,” he muttered, rolling himself over onto his back.  When no attack was immediately forthcoming, Tony froze, listening, but it was quiet all around him.  In fact, it was way too quiet.

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You glanced around quickly before you made your way over to the quaint little cottage you’ve been spying on for the past few weeks. You had no idea who owned the cottage, but by the looks of it, they had to have something worth of value inside. Yesterday, you overheard the man inside tell the little girl - who you found out to be his daughter - to be safe when she traveled to her friend’s house for the weekend, while he had to go take care of business. So today was the perfect opportunity for you.

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Request -- Hi! Could you write a Gadreel x Reader where the reader knew his vessel and they used to date, but it was a bad relationship so the reader is hesitant to become friends with him but they eventually fall for each other? You're awesome by the way! I love your writing!!!

(I haven’t written Gadreel in a while, so here you go! I hope that you like it!)

The wooden porch beneath you made the slightest creaking noise when you shifted your weight, and you almost cringed at how it broke the spell of silence, save for the wind rustling through the trees, between you and Gadreel. The both of you still didn’t say a word, though, and the angel next to you continued to use his feet to rock the porch swing you were sitting on back and forth. You squinted against the afternoon sun as you leaned back into the cushion once again, unable to control your blush when you realized that his arm was stretched out behind you and unaware of his imperceptible smile when he saw you flush out of his peripheral vision.

You hadn’t expected to be alone with Gadreel in your life because of your past with his vessel. As soon as he had showed up wearing your ex-boyfriend’s flesh, all of the unpleasant memories from your previous relationship had flooded your mind. It had taken you at least a week before you could utter a single word to him. Now, after a few months, you were close, close enough that you could talk and laugh easily with him without a tempest of arguments with the man that he was possessing running through your head. This angel was one of the most eloquent ones you had ever spoken to in you life, even though it made you upset inside whenever you noticed that he was choosing his words very carefully, as if afraid to make even more trouble than he already had in his existence. He could put your mind at complete ease, which was what he was doing by taking you where you were now.

The two of you were somewhere in a delicate countryside, on the porch of a house that had belonged to a couple who had been possessed by angels as well. Gadreel had told you this sadly, and you knew that he wished that he and his siblings could have other options for roaming the Earth. It was a quaint little cottage, abandoned not too long ago, with sunflowers and roses still blooming in the garden, the edges of their leaves and petals only browned a tiny bit. It was the perfect place to have your mind cleared from everything hunting, but your worry was now placed on if Gadreel could hear the sound of your heart rate rising each time you thought about him.

“It is quite beautiful today,” Gadreel looked straight at you as he spoke, his green eyes sparkling in the sunshine. The wind rustled your hair as you turned your head to meet his eyes, and he had to restrain himself in reaching over and tucking the flyaway locks behind your ear before you did yourself.

You were surprised that he had been the one to speak first, and you were so taken aback by his molten gaze that you almost forgot to respond. “…Y-Yeah. It really is. Thank you so much.”

He gave you a grin, one that made your heart flutter. “It is my pleasure. Besides, it is not often that we have the ability to escape the calamity that is beginning to dominate this planet.” A sigh left his mouth as his smile faded, and you could practically feel the guilt that was suddenly starting to overwhelm him. You abruptly remembered the four words that you had heard just before falling asleep on one of the library’s tables in the bunker as he sat in front of you: It’s all my fault.

“Hey,” you told him, shaking your head. You lifted his chin up with delicate fingers so that he would look at you. His features were etched with misery. “This is the place where we’re not supposed to be upset, remember?”

Gadreel’s expression became desperate. “I know, but I just cannot…” He took in a shuddering breath. “When I am with you, Y/N, his memories overtake me when we sit in silence.”

You didn’t need him to explain, knowing right away what he meant by his memories. Playing with a loose thread on your sweater, you just shrugged, even though your heart was pounding. “Oh.”

“It pains me greatly to see the agony that he has caused you in the past,” Gadreel whispered, suddenly going rigid. Panic was clear in his eyes when you were level with his gaze again, and you instinctively put your hand on top of his in order to help him relax. It didn’t help much, but it was a relief when his tenseness disappeared even the tiniest bit. “I knew who you were the first time that I laid eyes on you, Y/N. I knew every bit of information that he did about you, how he used painstaking details against you and how the intimacy you shared wasn’t the intimacy that he craved…” He instantly stopped talking when he noticed how you were biting your lip to the point of drawing blood, and he interlaced your fingers. The action caused you to hear your heartbeat in your ears. “You must forgive me. I’m being quite insensitive, and I realize that now.”

“You don’t need to apologize, Gad,” That was the truth. Even though you hated thinking about your ex-boyfriend, it had been too long ago to avoid talking about. You chuckled, causing him to scrunch his eyebrows together in confusion. “After all, you’re saying the truth. It wasn’t only one time that I came to surprise him at the bar that he worked at and found him getting close with another. I was naive, and I remember just repeating over and over in my head that there was a god reason for whatever he did. Of course, now I know that that’s not true at all.”

The angel leaned closer towards you, and you didn’t move away; you were fixated on him. “You deserved, and still deserve, much more than he ever gave you.” He swallowed hard, his eyes becoming dark with intensity that bewildered you. “When you ran away from me the very first time that you had seen me, I felt as I though a part of me had been physically split in two. After all of the time I had spent in prison, I had been hoping for amicable interaction with humans, and for the days following our meeting I had been considering turning myself back in. But once we finally spoke, Y/N, I knew that I would not be able to leave your side if I could defy any trouble that awaited me.”

“Gadreel,” you murmured, bliss starting to radiate throughout your whole body. Your heart was beating faster than it had ever been today, and your smile was growing wider by the second. You were still fighting off believing in what you through the was talking about, so you decided to press on. “What are you saying?”

“That leaving you,” Gadreel caressed your cheek with his thumb, smiling softly at your almost immediate blush in response to his touch. “would possibly be the worst thing I could ever do. When I am with you, I feel like my thoughts can be realigned into something other the anger that I hold over my own head. When you are next to me…I feel like I can redeem myself. I was previously shattered, Y/N, but I am now in a better state because you continue to put me back together.” You were holding a hand over your mouth at that point, trying your hardest to hold back your tears. He misinterpreted them, and attempted to not allow his composure to be shaken. “I know that it is odd, with me in his body, after all that you have been through. But if you will have me, I will surely be one of the most joyful beings on Earth.” Gadreel seemed to be holding his breath as you processed his words, his expression bursting into complete happiness when you started to nod quickly.

“Of course I will, of course, Gad,” you told him, your grin mirroring his. You closed the distance between you, and threw your arms around his neck. He caught you by the waist, holding you close to him and combing through your hair with his fingers. “No matter what happens with Heaven and Earth, I never want to lose you.”

Gadreel pressed his lips to your temple, making a trail of a few kisses down the side of your face before responding. “I will always be here for as long as you wish me to be.”

You meet Henry’s Parents

You meet Henry’s parents and spend the night at their house.

{ I apologize for how non descriptive I am I am still improving on my writing skills daily! Also I don’t know Henry’s family information at all so I have made it all up and unless someone messages me with it all or some of it it’s going to stay that way. J }

Jersey UK was about as foreign as it could get for you. You were unsure what the small island would be like and could only hope for the best.

Henry insisted you’d fall in love with the quaint little shops and friendly people but you were unsure. Although winter was approaching you were taking the recent drop in temperature as a bad omen.

“Now my mom doesn’t know we’re dating.” He said pulling I tot eh driveway of his childhood home.  


“I’m just kidding”

“You’re an ass you know I’m already nervous.” You got out the car and looked at the house it was a three story house that still managed to seem very much like a home. There was a wreath on the front door permanently and smoke coming from a chimney. It looked like a quaint little English cottage.

Henry brought your suitcases to the front door and rang the bell while you reluctantly shuffled to stand behind him.

The door swung open to reveal a petite woman with blond hair “Henry!“  

“Hey mom how are you?“

"Good good come in warm yourselves up. You must be the wonderful woman I’ve been hearing about.” She leaned in and gave you a hug as Henry went inside.

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I wake up to grass tickling my nose and the smell of late night mist in the air. Struggling to push myself up, I try to think of what had happened and why I was out this late in the woods. My surroundings look oddly familiar, a feeling of déjà vu and a hint of fear made its’ way down my spine. My head is pounding.  And I felt the warmth of blood on my upper body, I must have been bleeding and passed out, but I was too confused to feel pain. I have to find someone and call my family for help. There is a trail to my left, maybe it leads to people. After about 5 minutes of walking I come across a quaint, little cottage. I cautiously approach the front door and knock 3 times.  The third knock had enough force to move the door open. A sudden flood of adrenaline hits me as I see a body on the ground, and a person whose leg looks torn off crawling away from me. “No! Please!” He screamed.  I turn around and run for my life hoping not to find whoever was responsible for this. 

#1: The Christmas Tree Farm Is Closed This Year

Length: Long

Mr. Partridge has been dead for at least a decade. I don’t remember him much; I mostly remember him as a large, burly man with broad shoulders and a gruff manner. He planted a Christmas tree farm, and he ran it with the aid of his wife and four sons. The Christmas tree farm took up a few acres of land behind the Partridge homestead. Hills of festive green trees rose up behind the house, making it look like a quaint little cottage in the middle of an enchanted forest.

Mrs. Partridge is the sweetest little old lady you could ever hope to meet. She loved the Christmas tree farm as much as her husband, and she poured every ounce of herself into it right up until the end. She baked gingerbread cookies by the hundreds and kept a vat of piping hot cider on the front porch. The cookie and cider stand was manned by her grandchildren and the money it made went to the local high school.

We’ve always gotten our Christmas trees from the Partridge farm, and when I entered my freshman year of high school, Mrs. Partridge said I could make a little extra Christmas cash working with her sons and grandkids. Most of the local kids either worked or volunteered at her Christmas tree farm, and I had a lot of fun until this past Friday, when the farm was shut down.

The Christmas tree farm officially opens on Black Friday. The mall may be crowded with early-bird shoppers, but once they’ve got the hot new toy of the season, they need a Christmas tree to put it under. From sunup to sunset, Mrs. Partridge and her granddaughters churn out gingerbread men while her sons, grandsons, and everyone else helps shoppers find the perfect Christmas tree.

I know I’ve painted the Christmas tree farm as this cozy little haven, but working there has made me a little jaded. Don’t get me wrong, Mrs. Partridge is an amazing woman, and there are times when I loved my job. But, as with every job, not every day is going to be sunshine and gingerbread men. The bigger, taller boys – myself included – we’re the ones lugging the tree to the car, hoisting it onto the roof, and tying it down. It’s not unusual to head home at the end of the day with aching arms and a sore back.

I still had fun, though. After all, most of my friends worked for Mrs. Partridge, and it did give me an excuse to hang out with her granddaughter, Samantha. Samantha was in my Spanish class, and while I floundered and got verb tenses mixed up, she took to it easily and made it sound like the most beautiful language I’d ever heard. I would fantasize about having her tutor me, but never got up the nerve to ask her for help.

At least at the Christmas tree farm, I had an excuse to talk to her. She was usually helping her grandmother with the endless batch of gingerbread cookies, but she’d occasionally come out of the house, smelling like cinnamon, to help put together wreaths and garlands.

Anyway, the farm was mobbed with Black Friday shoppers looking for the perfect Christmas tree. The crowd was thick and energetic; parents carried babies bundled into snowsuits and older kids ran amok, playing hide and seek in the false forest. I caught brief glimpses of Samantha as she handed out gingerbread men and styrofoam cups of steaming cider. She was wearing a sparkly red sweater and jeans that might’ve once been dark blue; they were spattered with flour. Her black hair was tied back with a festive green ribbon, and she was beaming as she leaned down, offering fresh cookies to small children.

The Christmas tree farm closes at sunset, and the crowd had begun to wind down by threeish, seeing as the sun was due to go down at 4:15pm. I was attempting to tie a six-foot tree to a VW Beetle when I noticed the kid for the first time. I didn’t really pay any attention to him, but given what happened later, he stands out in my memory.

Cutting down the Christmas tree is always a family affair, but sometimes you can tell that the older kids don’t want to be there. This kid was maybe twelve or thirteen. He was wearing a dark gray hoodie and was thoroughly engrossed in something on his cell phone. His mother looked harried, as if she might burst into frustrated tears at any given moment. A wailing baby was strapped to her chest, and she was pushing a red-faced toddler in a cheap plastic stroller. I’m no expert on baby carriages, but I knew that this thing would be a bitch and a half to navigate through the grass and mud. The woman fumbled with the stroller, trying to shush the crying toddler. A small, yappy dog pranced energetically around her heels barking its head off.

“Dammit, Aiden, help me with the dog!” the woman’s voice was thin and hoarse. She must’ve wrangled these kids and the dog through a crowded mall before she even arrived at the Christmas tree farm. Part of me wanted to take her by the arm, lead her back to her car, and tell her to go home and get some sleep. There were more than enough trees to go around; she could come back tomorrow without the kids.

The older kid – Aiden – grabbed the dog’s leash and jerked it away from his mother without bothering to look up from his phone. The dog promptly turned to Aiden and began to bark again. Aiden trailed after his mom as she brought the wailing baby and the sobbing toddler out among the trees.

This wasn’t a really unusual sight. I’d seen disinterested kids and crying babies at the Christmas tree farm before. Sometimes, I think parents underestimate the amount of energy their kids have. Tromping around a chilly Christmas tree farm for hours might be OK for Mom and Dad, but I’ve noticed that the littler kids tend to get tuckered out quickly and get bored even faster. At some point, all the Christmas trees start to look the same, and the kid doesn’t care about whether or not it’s “shelfy” enough or how much needs to be cut off the top so it’ll fit in the living room.

The guys and I managed to finish tying the Christmas tree to the top of the VW Beetle, and I forgot all about Aiden and his beleaguered mother. We were quickly distracted by the sound of shouting.

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