Welcome to Middle Hyrule

In the land of Hyrule, there echoes a legend. It speaks of the ultimate fanfiction destination, a place where two worlds collided. Few saw that the uniter of these two worlds was only a fifteen year old girl named H.G., for after all, heroes appear in the most unlikely of places, and even the smallest person can change the course of the future. This destination was given the name of Middle Hyrule.

Hi, I’m H.G. Welcome to Middle Hyrule, a blog run by a total geek for all things fandom. Here, you’ll find everything from fanfictions to character assessments. Fandoms on this blog include Lord of the Rings, The Legend of Zelda, Sailor Moon, Sherlock, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Hamilton, Monthly Girl’s Nozaki Kun, and many others – too many to name! Stop by. Browse around. And don’t forget to leave a comment on anything you enjoyed.

Or don’t comment. I’m pretty easy-going here.

Featured Essay

As most of you know, I am on Archive of Our Own, and as some of you who are also on AO3 might know, the 15th was International Fanworks Day. They asked for essays explaining why fanworks (fanfic, fanart, etc.) are important to you. Six were featured. Mine was one of them. ^.^ If you’re curious, here it is below.

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For as long as I can remember, I have loved to write.

Poetry. Books. Short Stories. Songs. Shojo Manga. I write anything and everything that I can – any idea that I can latch onto with my brain and take over. To me, ideas are not created. Ideas appear and take off running, beckoning a writer to snatch them and spin them into threads of story. Since ideas come to me in different forms, I use different mediums to express them.

I have discovered over the past fifteen years of my life that writing is not for the faint of heart. To discover another world and then create it, knowing that what has become a part of you is not even real, is something all writers must grapple with. It is a struggle and a delight to watch the people you breathed into existence go throughout their lives – and to know that they are under your hand, even as they claim your heart. They rest in your power, and you rest in theirs.

On a more superficial level, writing is difficult because it is time-consuming. Creating metaphors requires thought. Plotting can require extensive planning. And sometimes, out of exhaustion or laziness, creating original fiction is something I cannot bring myself to do.

Not only is writing hard – living is hard. For the writer and for everyone else, life is difficult, also a struggle and a delight, the same as building a universe by pressing keys. This world is dark. Occasionally, this world is frightening. And when a person is put into a situation where they do not feel competent, comfortable, they seek to escape it.

That’s where fanfiction comes in for me. As a writer, a person who creates fiction, I constantly seek out fiction. Broadway tracks. Books. Comics. Television. I use them the way some people use stimulants: to escape the world. Unlike people who escape the world by drugging themselves out, however, I trade this world for another. I walk the paths of Middle Earth, fight at the barricade with Les Amis, and mow down the enemies of Hyrule – all without ever leaving my couch. When it is over and I am forced back to reality, I seek to enter that world again, but under my own circumstances, and through the eyes of the people I fell in love with while I journeyed there. I return to that world again and again, or I bring the people from it into my own.

I use fanfiction as a way to try another author’s style, and so it has made me a better writer, but I also use it as a way to explore deep emotions that the story has unlocked within me. Story-telling is power. Despite what some people think, fanfiction is story-telling. It has not only made me a better writer, it has made me a better person. And I will be forever grateful to the writers who came before me for the gift that they have given me.

Legolas, What Do Your Elf Eyes See?

One of the best parts of fandom is parodies. My friend sent me this one the other day and required I put it on my blog. He was so right. So here it is, and then here are a bunch more like it.

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Now here is another:

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…and another…

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And of course, who could forget the song of our people…

 

#1 fandom group hug.

Breath of the Wild Excitement Peaks!

The newest and probably last trailer for Breath of the Wild has come out, and I have never been more excited. We got a look at some of the characters we’ll be meeting, as well as more of the gorgeous world that I cannot wait to explore. If I can make the money I need, that is! Watch the trailer below before I jump into an analysis.

Did you watch it? Great. Now watch it again and read this while you do. I’m going to have you make a couple of stops so I can comment.

First stop is at 0:24. Do you see the desert? Do you see the thing that looks sort of like Stonehedge? Now look to the left and you’ll notice a cloud of sand. This brings Gerudo Valley to mind, when you have to wander through a sandstorm. Now I believe there are more links (pun intended) to the Gerudo to be found in the trailer , but for now, hit play again. We’ll get to those remarks later.

Stop the video again at 0:58 and look at that floating thing in the distance. An island in the sky? Folks, we might be returning to Skyloft, or at the very least, to the Oocoo City in the Sky from Twilight Princess. How are we gonna get there? Keep going!

Third stop is 1:01. Link’s hair, though. So gorgeous. I’ll stop now.

Stop for the fourth time as soon as you hear the voice (around 1:17.) Now unpause and listen. It sounds like an elderly woman, and since we already know from past gameplay videos, the Sheikah will feature prominently in this game. Therefore, I have a strong suspicion that might be Impa, especially since she talks about the Royal Family. She’s the one serving them, after all!

Fifth stop is at 1:40. The shape above Hyrule Castle seems like the Phantom Ganon from Ocarina of Time far more than Ganondorf, but look more closely. The way it moves suggests a horse and rider, but the shape it takes at 1:40 resembles a boar’s snout thrust open, with the tongue lolling out. Are we going to get Boar Ganon, rather than Gerudo Ganondorf? Only time will tell.

Stop it quick at 1:52! The monster Link is fighting seems humanoid, almost feminine in fact, and also appears to be wearing a strange mask or headpiece. Are we getting a side villain like Ghirahim or Vaati, or is this just a boss or mini-boss? Curious…

Pause the video at 2:04 and observe the beautiful, enormous town. It looks like it’s thriving but not excessively, so I’m putting my money on this town being Kakariko Village. Also, 2:05 shows a desert community. Remember how I said there were more Gerudo connections?

Stop number eight is at 2:12. Notice the tree. Right before you stop it, you’ll see it is moving, around what would be a mouth. Is it, could it be… the great Deku Tree?

And stop again at 2:27. Zelda is standing waist-deep in a small pond surrounded by stonework. This pond looks almost identical to the shrines in Skyward Sword. It’s hard to tell from the lighting, but it also sort of seems like she’s wearing a white dress, as it’s lighter than the rest of her skin. She’s seen wearing this dress again throughout the trailer. It looks almost like the Goddess Dress from Skyward Sword. Breath of the Wild seems, to me, to tie in with Skyward Sword and Ocarina of Time the most. As SS leads almost directly to OoT, BOTW could fall after OoT on any of the timelines and this would make sense. In Skyward Sword, Zelda had to purify herself by praying at the shrines, and she wore the Goddess Dress so she could reawaken as the goddess Hylia. Maybe the same thing is happening here! Press play again.

2:37, there’s Zelda. She is beautiful. At 2:39, we see another town, only it’s on fire. It looks different from the two we saw so far. I’m 99.9% positive that town is Hyrule Castle Town. Oh look, there’s the castle. I was right, as usual. Listen to her sob about everything she’s done being for nothing. It’s pretty gut-wrenching, actually.

Stop it yet again at 2:45 and observe, once again, the desert landscape. There’s a girl wearing Gerudo-ish clothes, who has dark skin and red hair the way Gerudos tend to. Perhaps a descendent of one of my favorite Zelda ladies, Nabooru? We’ll see her up close later on. Hit play again and prepare for a burst of feels as Zelda topples into Link’s arms. She’s wearing the white dress again.

Okay, now I want you to pause it when you see that girl again, which is I believe at 3:00. They’re about to show a variety of characters of all different Hyrulean races. Watch through all of them, then click back to 2:55 and watch through all of them again. What I am about to suggest is a bit insane, but if I’m right… Count the people. The goron. The giant lady. The Gerudo girl, who is wearing blue lipstick (you go girl.) The zora. The other zora. And the bird man. Then finally Zelda herself. That makes seven. I think that these people are the seven sages. Obviously, none of them look anything like their OoT or Link Between Worlds counterparts, but remember, this is set 100 years ahead of some point we don’t even know yet. They could be descendants, or even reincarnations. So that’s my hypothesis. And something tells me I’m right.

Stop it again at 3:07 just to admire how gorgeous Zelda is. And the fact that she’s flying.

The King of Hyrule tells Link he must save his daughter (it shows Zelda and her father is definitely the king of Hyrule, sooo) and then we see Link collapse in nearly the exact same way as he does in Skyward Sword at one point.

Let it play the rest of the way. You’ll see a very dirty Zelda praying to what is likely the Great Deku Tree, and then you’ll hear the now-iconic voice saying “Open Your Eyes”. Now listen to that voice! Does it sound like the voice we heard for Zelda? A little, but not too much. Could it be someone else? Who else could it be?

 

So that wraps up my deductions. I have a feeling I’m either totally right or totally wrong, so all that remains is to play the game. As I’m still saving up to buy a Wii U, let alone an actual Breath of the Wild copy, please do not give spoilers when it comes out! I’ll be posting more and more the closer we get, as the hype builds. I can’t wait!

Ship Gallery

Recently, I dragged an old frame out of the back of my closet and decided to make it into a ship gallery to hang somewhere in my room. Finally I have printed out the pics, and so my ship gallery is now complete! The frame has eight slots, so I picked eight of my favorite fandoms and my OTP for each fandom. It was pretty hard to pick just eight, but I did it. I’ll probably rotate out the pics at some point. So here it is!

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Seven romances and one epic bromance!

My OTP, Link and Saria, are in the place of honor on the left, and my OT3/BroT3 (still don’t know what I would call it) are in the place of honor to the right. Then depending on how much I like the ship, they are larger or smaller – though I love all of them a lot!

From left to right and top to bottom: Link and Saria from “The Legend of Zelda”, Faramir and Eowyn from “Lord of the Rings”, Rey and Finn from “Star Wars”, Sherlock and Molly from “Sherlock”, Jonathan and Nancy from “Stranger Things”, Merlin and Morgana from “Merlin”, Kashima and Hori from “Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-kun”, and Hamilton, Laurens, and Lafayette from “Hamilton”.

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Laria, Farawyn, and Reyfinn

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Mergana and Kashima/Hori at the top (from Gekkan Shojo Nozaki Kun). 
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My epic founding father bros, because I couldn’t not put at least one platonic ship in here.
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Ah, Sherlolly. How sad it was to watch you sink in the disaster that was Season 4.

Anyway, that’s my ship wall. 😉 Can’t wait to hang it!

Broadway Gift Exchange

Hello, everyone? Remember a while back when I was having that Hamilton gift exchange on Archive of Our Own? Well, only two people (aside from me) signed up, so it wasn’t as great as I had hoped.

But now I am running another exchange, and this one already has four people signed up! (One is me, one is my friend, one is my cousin, but eh, who cares?) My goal is to get it to ten people. This isn’t just a Hamilton exchange, though, it’s an exchange for all fandoms under the Broadway umbrella! Phantom, Hamilton, Les Mis, Wicked, etc. – if it’s a show on Broadway or ever has been, you can write about it, even if you haven’t actually seen the show in a theater.

So here is a link to the collection, and if there’s anything confusing in the sign ups or the FAQ, let me know! I really would love it if everyone reading this who is in a Broadway fandom – and you can sign up for more than one, by the way – would sign up. That would be so awesome.

Hamilton Relationships: Act Two

Here I am at long last *rolls eyes at myself*. Let’s hear H.G.’s fabulous excuse for this time, shall we?

On AO3 (Archive of Our Own) I started writing a Trio fanfiction in December. That fanfiction is currently at 13 chapters, about twenty thousand words. And it has become insanely popular. I have no idea WHAT is going on, but I guess people like it, because it is at 115 kudos and one thousand + hits. So I’ve been satisfying my readers by updating that more than anything. Literally, I hardly even work on my book anymore. I’m taking a one-month hiatus in February, so then I should be on here a little more, writing blog posts more often. For now, let’s honor the relationships of Act Two in Hamilton. As always, major spoilers.

 

Alexander Hamilton/Eliza Hamilton

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Alexander is not a very good husband to Eliza around the beginning of Act Two. He chooses his work over her, and rather than accompany her to her father’s, upstate, he has her go with Angelica, and without him. Then, while she’s gone, he cheats on her. Even worse, he keeps that fact a secret from her for years. His enemies find out before she does. Alexander and Eliza have kids at this point, and while she still loves him just as much as always, he begins to feel a little different about her. He’s betrayed her. It’s hard to recover from that. He is guilty and distanced from her. When he finds out some people think he was stealing government funds, he publicizes the details of his affair to show that he was actually using his own money to pay his mistress’s husband. Eliza had no idea. She’s finding out at the same time as the whole world. Furious and heart broken, she burns his letters to her and banishes Alexander from her heart. (Slay, queen, slay.) Their son Philip decides it’s up to him to protect Alexander’s honor, and when a guy challenges it, Philip challenges him – to a duel. Philip dies. Alexander realizes this was all kind of his fault, and now he needs to take the blame and make things right. He asks for Eliza’s forgiveness, and, wonderful woman that she is, she gives it. From then on, they fall back in love and patch up everything that’s broken… only for Alexander to leave her, too. Even after his death, though, Eliza goes on loving him and carries on his legacy. She does everything to keep his story alive. She does more than enough and more than he deserves. You go, Eliza.

Alexander Hamilton/Maria Reynolds

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This is where things get eyebrow-raise-y

I’ve already talked a lot about Maria in other posts, so I’ll keep this brief. Alexander offers money to Maria after she comes to his house and tells him her husband has left her and she is broke. Only problem is, Alexander’s also pretty lonely and Maria is really pitiable/attractive/good at seducing people, so he ends up cheating on Eliza with her. Poor Maria is twenty-three and under her husband’s command, so she has no way to back out of the affair. Plus she’s also lonely, and terrified that Alexander is going to leave her all alone. That of course would make her husband even more angry, as it would mean no more money. So Alexander digs a pit and falls into it… and then keeps digging. Then he flies out of the pit with copies of a pamphlet about the affair and throws them everywhere. Bad idea. Nice going, Alexander.

Thomas Jefferson & James Madison

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Jefferson and Madison are the dynamic duo of… pretty much everything. Together, they bring about Alexander’s demise with the Reynolds Pamphlet. Madison is Jefferson’s second fiddle (read that in a book), but important all the same. They’re pretty tight – a bond forged in sass, judgmentalism (is that a word?), rapping, writing, and mic drops (Jefferson drops, Madison catches). It’s pretty much to only bromance in Act Two, but it’s great, so no worries. Jefferson is fabulous and flashy, while Madison is much more quiet, silent power that you didn’t even realize was power. They cover each other’s flaws and complement each other’s strengths, so if these two come at you… watch out.

Eliza Hamilton & Angelica Schuyler

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Angelica continues to support Eliza. Selflessly. In “The Reynolds Pamphlet”, Angelica is there to tell Alexander off, and informs him that she loves her sister more than anything. More than she has ever loved him. In a cut song, “Congratulations”, she talks about how she lived in an unhappy marriage an ocean away, sacrificing everything so Alexander and Eliza could be happy. I just need to post the lyrics. I don’t have words for how much Angelica loves Eliza.

[ANGELICA]
You’ve redefined your legacy, congratulations!

[HAMILTON]
It was an act of political sacrifice

[ANGELICA]
Sacrifice?
I languished in a loveless marriage in London
I lived only to read your letters
I look at you and think:
“God, what have we done with our lives and what did it get us?”
That doesn’t wipe the tears of the years away
But I’m back in the city and I’m here to stay
And you know what I’m here to do?

[HAMILTON]
Angelica…

[ANGELICA]
I’m not here for you

I know my sister like I know my own mind
You will never find anyone as trusting or as kind
And a million years ago she said to me,
“This one’s mine”
So I stood by
Do you know why?

I love my sister more than anything in this life
I will choose her happiness over mine every time

 

This is what true love looks like, my friends.

Alexander Hamilton & Aaron Burr

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Throughout Act Two, the relationship between Hamilton and Burr becomes more and more complicated. Hamilton makes bad choices and a few enemies. Burr sides with said enemies and judges his old friend with them. Aaron Burr actually doesn’t have a political position, and he starts to feel left out. To fix this, he runs for Senator against Philip Schuyler, Alexander’s father-in-law, and wins. In the end, that deepens the divide between them. By Cabinet Battle #2, Burr is majorly annoyed that Hamilton always gets whatever he wants and never faces consequences. He teams up with the Southern Democratic-Republicans to rip Alexander apart from the inside out. They go through his history as Treasurer and stumble across the shocking amount of money being spent. When they confront him, Hamilton tells them about his affair and then, to their delight, makes it public. Finally getting ahead, Burr decides to run for president. Hamilton endorses Jefferson, who ends up winning, leaving Burr as vice-President. Thinking that they’ll at least be able to work together, Burr goes to talk to Jefferson, who laughs at him and slams the door of friendship in his face. Now Burr is mad. He turns to Hamilton as a way to vent his anger, and Hamilton responds by being rather obnoxious and unapologetic. Burr kills him. (It’s a little more complicated than that, but I’d rather not think about it or the day will be ruined for me.) Hamilton is dead. The end. *runs to clutch ten dollar bills and cry because she is too distraught to elaborate*

Thomas Jefferson vs Alexander Hamilton

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I’ve talked a bit about them in the Hamilton and Burr section. Hamilton and Jefferson loathe each other. In fact, if Jefferson had killed Hamilton, we all would probably be a lot less sad and a lot more, “Yeah, I kinda expected that.” They agree on literally nothing. They are not friends for a single instant. From the moment they meet until the day Hamilton dies, they dislike each other. Yes, Hamilton endorses Jefferson for president, but not out of a genuine like for him – more that he believes him to be slightly better suited than Burr for the job. I guess the only thing they agree on is that they’re both friends with Lafayette. But that’s it.

 

Well, thus ends the Hamilton post series. Expect more posts on this show at some point, however. I’ll love it till the day I die, so it ain’t goin away any time soon.

A Brief Hamilton Observation

In lieu of another relationships post, seeing as I am lazy and haven’t gotten around to it yet (I will soon!) I would like to present to you a brief observation I’ve had when reading through some of the letters of the Trio. Yes, you’re getting a post about my OT3. BroT3? Still haven’t determined what to call this. Either way I love it. I’ve been writing a fanfic on them on my AO3 account. Read it.

But anyway, as you know from reading my other posts or listening to the show, John Laurens died at the age of 27. Alexander Hamilton died at 49. Lafayette outlived both of them and survived for 30 years after Alexander’s death. Additionally, the three of them were all close, as I have definitely mentioned a number of times. I’m currently reading a Lafayette biography, and the author has been talking a little about their “warm friendship”, to use his words.

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So turning to more serious matters, after John Laurens died (and I’m dying too because that gif) Alexander didn’t really want to talk about it. Now remember, this guy wrote obsessively about everything. He was almost never quiet. Throughout his life he produced enough writing to fill 27 volumes. To be silent about anything goes to show how deeply it affected him – he had no words.

To the best of my knowledge, we only have two letters where he discussed Laurens’ death. One of those was a letter to Lafayette. Observe the following quote:

“Poor Laurens; he has fallen a sacrifice to his ardor in a trifling skirmish in South Carolina. You know how truly I loved him and will judge how much I regret him.”

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This was tacked onto the end of a long letter, which I have not read all of as it concerns with a lot of business matters. Additionally, this bit about Laurens comes as a postscript, since Hamilton has already closed and signed the letter. So remember these points: mentioned briefly, placed at the end of a long letter, and indicating great sorrow without really going into it.

The observation that I made was that Lafayette reacted to Hamilton’s death in nearly the exact same way – in a letter to someone he was extremely close to, but at the end and with few words. That person was Thomas Jefferson. Here’s the quote.

“The Deplorable fate of My friend Hamilton Has deeply Afflicted me—I am Sure that whatever Have Been the differences of parties, you Have Ever Been Sensible of His Merits, and Now feel for His Loss.”

See what I mean? Hamilton and Lafayette both reacted to the death of a friend without a real reaction. Now I ought to note that Hamilton did emphasize his feelings a little more elsewhere, but for him, it was still not much. They all loved each other a lot, my friends.

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This was interesting to me, as well as very sad. You know how truly I have loved the trio and how their deplorable fates have affected me. Now that I’ve had a careful philosophical analysis on these men and their lives/deaths/friendships, off I go to write fanfic where they’re all college students. Go figure.

Christmas at the Opera House: A Guest Fanfiction

Christmas may be over, but this fanfiction, submitted by Eruleese from Life of a Fangirl, was a lot of fun, so I decided to share it. Did you ever imagine what would happen if someone crossed Lord of the Rings and Phantom of the Opera? I didn’t think so. Well, on the off-chance you did, I imagine you never guessed they could cross as a Christmas fic! Essentially, this is a cute story by Eruleese where Christine from “Phantom” meets Eowyn lost in Paris, and invites her and Faramir to spend the holidays in the Opera House. Christmas shenanigans ensue. Eruleese has helped with Obscure Fandom Friday in the past, so if you just found my blog, I’d encourage you to read her blog and her posts, because she’s no stranger to this site. Without further ado, enjoy “Christmas at the Opera House”!

~~~

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A Christmas in the Opera House

Christmases spent in the Opera House were less than ideal, though made better by the presence of one Miss Christine Daae, Erik decided. Of course, the cheerful young woman was off gift shopping for the aforementioned Christmas holiday. Erik, on the other hand, hadn’t a clue what to get the beautiful Christine. In his opinion, nothing was good enough for her.

This little monologue was interrupted by Christine herself returning the cellars of the Opera Populaire laden with shopping bags. “Christine, love, can’t I help you with those?” Erik asked, scurrying over to her.

She threw her coat over the bags, blushing a bright crimson. “Erik, no! Some of these gifts are for you!” she yelped. “Speaking of gifts,” she began slyly, “What all have you gotten me?”

Erik froze. He wasn’t expecting this. “What do you want, mon cher?” he asked, trying not to reveal that he had nothing yet. To make things worse, the next day was the twentieth. Erik had six days to find perfect gifts for the love of his life.

“Hmm…,” Christine thought for a bit. “I’m not sure. Something I’d like. Now, I’m off to wrap gifts in the studio. Don’t think of coming in there!” She giggled and walked off, dark curls swaying enchantingly.

Erik watched her go and waited until he heard her angelic voice float from the little studio before he resumed thinking, his love’s voice providing a soundtrack to his mind. “Oh, what could I possibly get her?” he moaned. “There’s simply nothing worthy of Christine Daae!”

He heard the soft singing still echoing from the studio, gentle notes of “Think of me, think of me fondly, when we’ve said goodbye!” This made him consider upgrading the studio for her, but who would do business with Erik, the Phantom of the Opera? No one.

Nothing worked. He brainstormed for hours until Christine came back out of the studio, a bit of ribbon in her hair. “Did you get everything wrapped?” Erik asked, putting his arm around Christine. She nestled into him and nodded.

Then her eyes lit up and she tilted her head to look up at him. “Oh, I almost forgot!”

“Oh dear. What now, angel?”

“I invited a young couple to stay with us!”

Erik sighed. “Christine, why would you do such a thing? You know I-”

“I know, I know. You don’t like socializing. But they’re lost, Erik, and it’s Christmas! Please,” she begged, giving her lover the puppy-dog eyes.

“Oh, I guess,” Erik said grudgingly.

“Yay! They’re from a country called Middle-earth and their names are Eowyn and Faramir. I’ll go to them tomorrow,” Christine giggled. “I love you so much.”

“Well, Mademoiselle Daae, if you love me, then tell me what you want for Christmas,” Erik said, raising an eyebrow.

Christine’s eyes widened. “Nothing, Erik. I have enough already.”

“It’s Christmas, Christine. I must get you something.”

“I don’t want anything.” With that, Christine walked off. “I’m going to bed,” she announced.

Erik tried to chase after her, but knew not to mess with her when she was exasperated. He just flopped down at the organ and began work on a new piece. Perhaps this could be Christine’s gift. But it wasn’t good enough. Nothing was.

Morning came all too soon, and Erik found himself dreading the visits from Christine’s guests.

“Hey, Erik?” Christine said as she cooked eggs, toast, and pancakes.

“Yes, dear?”

“I had another idea.” She turned to look at him, eyes glittering.

“Oh dear.”

“While I go pick up Eowyn and Faramir, you can go gift shopping!” She clapped her hands cheerfully, knowing that her idea was genius.

Erik rolled his eyes. “I guess,” he groaned. “But I’ll need more time than what you’ll spend picking them up.”

Christine giggled. “Then I’ll take them for coffee or something! Now go get ready, lazybones!” She bounded off, abandoning breakfast in the process. “We’ll get food later!”

Erik sighed and walked off to get ready to go. He knew not to argue with Christine when her heart was set on something. He slipped on his white half-mask, something he hardly wore around the house anymore.

“Christine, I’m ready to go!” he called, walking into the bathroom where the young woman was brushing her dark curls, wearing a bathrobe.

She turned to look at him. “Well, I’m not, so go find something else to do,” she told him, standing up and kissing him. “Now go. I’ll be out soon.”

Erik sighed. “Can’t I stay here? I love watching you work at things, angel.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck. “I guess. But no telling me off for wearing makeup. I don’t need that right now.” She pursed her lips and looked up at him.

He held his hands up. “Okay, okay, I won’t! I promise.” He kissed her forehead. “Love you.”

“Mmhmm. Sure you do,” she teased. With that, she sat back down and resumed brushing her hair.

True to his word, Erik stayed quiet as the gorgeous soprano went about her business. Many times, he wanted to speak up, but he didn’t.

Finally, Christine ran a final brush over her face. She stood up, wiped her hands together, and turned to face Erik. “Done,” she stated.

With that, they set out to pick up Eowyn and Faramir.

Christine took a deep breath and looked up at the tall Parisian hotel. Without another thought, she strode inside.

“Can I help you?” the receptionist asked, sounding extremely bored.

“Yes. I’m here to see Eowyn and Faramir.”

The receptionist pointed over to the chic hotel’s lounge area. Christine thanked her and hurried over.

Immediately she spotted a handsome young man with his arm around a lovely blonde woman, who had her head resting on her husband’s shoulder.

“Eowyn! Faramir!” Christine cried. The couple looked up.

“Christine!” Eowyn said, running toward the other woman. “What did Erik say?”

“You guys are free to stay as long as you’d like!” She grinned.

“But milady, I don’t want to intrude,” Faramir replied. “It is Christmas, after all.”

Christine giggled. “You’re our guests!” she responded. “Now come on! We’ve got to get going!”

“Where to?” Eowyn asked.

“There’s this nice café down the street we’re going to while Erik goes Christmas shopping. We’re meeting back up at three.”

Everyone nodded and they set off toward Café Dimanche, which was but five doors down. They then entered the café and ordered their drinks: hot chocolate for Christine, black coffee for Faramir, and a latte for Eowyn.

The trio found a table to sit at while they drank their drinks. The barista had also given each of them a free tart, seeing as it was their first visit to Café Dimanche.

“So, what brings you to Paris?” Christine asked, voice slightly amplified by the cocoa mug pressed against her lips. “And on Christmas nonetheless.”

“Well, Eowyn had always wanted to see Paris in the winter. She thought it’d be the most gorgeous thing ever. So, as her Christmas gift, I planned a little Parisian retreat, full of dinners, shopping, sightseeing, everything. Of course, I forgot to book a hotel or get directions, so we got lost. Without you, Miss Daae, we would’ve frozen.  Thank you,” Faramir said.

“Oh, that’s so romantic!” Christine sighed, burying her face in her mug again. “I wish Erik would do such a thing for me.” She said this last part so quietly it was barely audible.

“Oh, Christine,” Eowyn whispered.

“But let’s not think about that right now. How would you two like to come to tonight’s performance of Don Juan Triumphant?” Christine asked, her gaze softening. “I’m sure Erik would even allow you to sit in Box Five, seeing as he’s performing and you’re our personal guests.”

Eowyn’s eyes lit up. “Of course! Oh please, Faramir, can’t we go?” She looked up at him, perfectly executing the puppy-dog eyes Christine thought herself a master of.

He chuckled and smiled gently at her. “I guess. But only because I know you’ll be upset if we don’t go, and I hate to see you upset, love,” Faramir said, wrapping his arms around her.

“Yay!” Eowyn let out a girlish giggle, then covered her mouth. “Did that sound come out of my mouth?” she gasped, hiding her red cheeks behind her latte cup.

Everyone died laughing and she hid her face in Faramir’s shoulder, mortified. “Eowyn, don’t be embarrassed. Everyone needs to let their hair down every so often.”

“But I’m a shieldmaiden of Rohan! We do not giggle,” she spat contemptuously.

Everyone rolled her eyes at her, and Christine stifled a laugh. “Eowyn, you’ll be fine. No one minds if you girl out a little bit.”

They remained in Café Dimanche for a while longer before meeting up with Erik at three.

The rest of the day passed uneventfully until the opera at seven.

Eowyn slid into her Box Five seat next to Faramir with a huge smile on her face. She was wearing her favorite brown and white dress again and no makeup (of course).

“Wow,” Faramir gasped, “you look gorgeous, love!”

Eowyn blushed. “Thanks,” she murmured, hiding her face.

The opera began with a wonderful, if not odd, opening number. Don Juan himself, played by none other than the Phantom, also made an appearance.

“Don Juan triumphs once again!” the chorus sang as the Phantom began to sing.

The riveting number continued until the spotlight fell on Christine, who sang a few hauntingly beautiful notes. “No thoughts within her head but thoughts of joy. No dreams within her heart but dreams of love!”

After Miss Daae sang and the house exploded into cheers, Faramir stole a glance at his wife, who looked angelic in the dim light of the Opera Populaire. He sighed. How was he so lucky to have her? he wondered as Eowyn continued watching raptly as the Phantom began the next song.

Eowyn then turned toward him and smiled softly. “Love you,” she whispered.

“Love you too,” Faramir said as his arm wrapped around her.

“Now hush and watch the opera.” Eowyn turned away again and focused her attention on the stage.

“Past the point of no return, no turning back now!” Christine sang.

“Wow,” Eowyn breathed, almost inaudibly. “I wish I sang that well.”

Faramir went to reply, but his wife’s attention was once again focused on the story unfolding on the stage.

The opera continued until the end with no chandelier crashes, kidnappings, unexpected events, or anything of the sort.  Then the meet and greet began.

Eowyn rushed out to where Christine and the Phantom were standing and greeting the audience, smiling and answering questions. Or rather, Christine was. Phantom, on the other hand, looked absolutely miserable. He kept asking Christine when they’d be done, dodging questions, and not smiling.

“Erik, smile! People will find you unapproachable,” Christine scolded.

“Love, I don’t want to be approached.” He fiddled with his mask. Christine rolled her eyes. She then saw Eowyn and Faramir.

“Hi! Come over here!” Christine shouted. The young couple obliged. “How’d you like it?”

“You two were amazing! Especially in The Point of No Return. The chemistry was so real!” Eowyn yelped, ecstatic.

The Phantom couldn’t help but smile. “I wrote it specifically for my darling Christine. Aminta was created for her.”

Christine blushed and Faramir said, “I wish I could compose. Eowyn would have an opera for her as well.”

“Faramir, I don’t need an opera,” Eowyn scowled. “Besides, I don’t sing. At least, not very well anyway.”

They continued talking even as they returned to the cellars. There, the Phantom and Christine promptly retired, exhausted from performing.

Eowyn and Faramir, on the other hand, stayed in the parlor and talked.

“I’m sorry we’re stuck here, Eowyn. I should’ve prepared better,” Faramir sighed. “I failed you.”

“Oh, Faramir! You didn’t fail me. And you never could. Without this, we wouldn’t have such amazing friends in Phantom and Christine.”

“Aragorn wouldn’t have done this. He’d have been prepared.” Faramir looked down at his feet. “I’m never going to be as good as him.”

“When will you understand that I love you more than I ever ‘loved’ Aragorn? You’re a better match for me, you care for me, and most of all, you love me. You mean the world to me, Faramir.”

He kissed her forehead. “And you mean the world to me. I’m sorry for doubting you, love. I love you with every fiber in my body,” he said.

Eowyn snuggled against him. “I love you too,” she said, burying her face in his chest.

They fell asleep like that, curled on the parlor couch, snuggled against each other. Everything was perfect.

The first light of December twenty-first shone down into the opera house, stirring the residents awake.

Christine was the first one up and she immediately bounded to the kitchen to make breakfast as quietly as she could.

Eowyn was the next to awaken. She slipped into the kitchen and met Christine. “Whatcha makin’?” she asked, yawning.

“Scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. Is that okay? I can make something else if you don’t like that.” Christine bit her lip anxiously.

“That’s perfect!” Eowyn grinned.

The Phantom then stumbled in. “Christine, have you made the coffee yet?” he asked, kissing the top of her head.

“Not yet, angel. I was waiting to see what our guests wanted, but you can go on and make your cup.” She stood on her tippy-toes and reached for a candy cane mug. “Here you go, Erik. Make yourself some coffee.”

Faramir then walked in and put his arm around Eowyn. “Good morning!” he chirped, kissing her cheek.

“Morning! Breakfast is almost ready,” Eowyn said, smiling.

“Ooh, yum,” Faramir laughed.

“So what’s on today’s agenda?” Eowyn asked, pouring Faramir some coffee. “You should know, you plan most of these things.”

“I vote that we go Christmas shopping. We need to buy Christine and Phantom some gifts!” Faramir said. “And thanks for the coffee, love.”

“Can we come as well? I need to buy more gifts,” Erik said.

“As do I,” Christine continued. “I have a few more things to buy Erik.”

This sent him into a frenzy. I can’t let her outshine me, Erik thought. “And I have a bit more to get Christine, not to mention things for Eowyn and Faramir.”

“Oh yes, that too,” Christine said.

“Well then, that works! We’ll head out after everyone’s ready,” Eowyn said, inner shieldsmaiden shining through.

“Breakfast is ready!” Christine cheered, handing out plates. “Just grab whatever you want!”

Everyone got their food and sat down in the parlor. “What do you all want to drink?” Christine said.

“I’m good with my coffee,” Erik said.

“As am I,” Faramir said.

“I’ll have some water, if that’s okay with you,” Eowyn said.

“Okay! I’ll be back with that!”

With that, Christine raced off to the kitchen.

“So, how’d you and Christine meet?” Eowyn asked.

Erik froze and set down his mug. “It’s a bit of an embarrassing story,” he mumbled. “I did a stupid thing.”

“What now? Erik, what stupid thing have you done now?” Christine demanded, sitting down next to Erik and taking a bite of her butter-slathered toast.

“Angel, that butter’s bad for you voice.” Christine rolled her eyes. “And they were asking how we met.”

“Oh, that’s not a stupid thing!” Christine said. “He watched me through my mirror and claimed to be the Angel of Music. Then he kidnapped me.” She ate a forkful of eggs.

“That’s…a little terrifying,” Faramir said. “But rather nice.”

“Agreed,” everyone else laughed.

Everyone finished eating and dashed off to get ready. Then they headed to Paris’s biggest department store.

The girls branched off together while the men went off together.

“Eowyn?” Christine asked. “What all does Faramir like?”

“Battle like stuff. What’s good for Phantom?”

“Please, call him Erik. And musical stuff. By that I mean things relating to music, not random Broadway musical merchandise.”

“Okay, got it. And don’t look in my cart, I’ve got stuff for you in there,” Eowyn said.

Christine laughed. “Same goes for you!”

They both lapsed into giggles, causing other patrons to stare at them.

“How about this for Faramir?” Christine asked.

“That’s good, he’ll like it. Is this good for Erik?” Eowyn replied.

“Oh yes, he’ll love that.”

Meanwhile, Erik and Faramir were looking for gifts for their loves.

“What all does Christine like?” Faramir asked.

“Music, hot chocolate, anything really. She’s easy to please.”

“Then why do you struggle with shopping for her, if she’s so easy to please?”

“I worry that if I don’t please her, then she’ll leave me for that Raoul de Chagny. They were childhood sweethearts. So I try as hard as I can to please her. But anyway, what’s good for Eowyn?” Erik asked.

“Phantom-”

“Call me Erik.”

“Well then, Erik, you don’t have to get us anything. We’re taking up your valuable space and time,” Faramir said.

“Oh no, I’m getting her something.”

“Just get her anything. She’ll be happy. Now, how is this for Christine?” Faramir asked, holding something up.

Erik nodded. “Looks good.”

Shopping continued until around five when they all hit the cash registers. Then every claimed an area to wrap gifts. The girls went into the studio, while the boys claimed Erik and Christine’s bedroom.

“So, Eowyn, do you like to sing?” Christine asked.

“I’m not any good, but I enjoy it, yes,” she replied.

“Sing something with me!”

“No, you go ahead. I’ll sing something after you.” Eowyn smiled, encouraging Christine.

“No more talk of darkness, forget these wide-eyed fears. I’m here, nothing can harm you. My words will warm and calm you,” she began, launching into a gorgeous rendition of All I Ask of You.

Eowyn was in awe. “You’re a much better singer than I could ever dream of being,” she said once the song was over.

“I still want to hear you sing!” Christine cheered.

Eowyn sighed and cleared her throat. “You’re not giving up on this?” Christine shook her head. “Okay then.

With that, she began. Her voice was rather deep for a woman’s but nice nonetheless. “Home is behind, the world ahead. And there are many paths to tread. Through shadow, to the edge of night. Until the stars are all alight. Mist and shadow, cloud and shade. All shall fade. All shall fade.”

Christine smiled. “You say you can’t sing,” she teased.

Faramir and Erik were listening from the other room. “We love very musical women,” Faramir noted.

“Well, they’re not the only ones who can sing,” Erik said. “Nighttime sharpens, heightens each sensation. Darkness stirs and wakes imagination. Silently the senses abandon their defenses!”

“If only I could sing,” Faramir sighed.

Eowyn and Christine laughed. “Is this a war?” Eowyn asked.

“Probably, knowing Erik. He’s, how can I put this, overly competitive. Especially when it comes to singing,” Christine sighed. With that, she began singing Devil Take the Hindmost as she cut a sheet of candy cane wrapping paper and set it atop the gift.

Eowyn chuckled. “We’ve surely won. That’s a gorgeous song.”

Erik laughed. “They think they’ve won.”

“But I can’t sing, so we’re at a disadvantage,” Faramir pointed out.

“I can sing well enough for both of us, thank you!” Erik said, ripping a piece of tape. Then he began singing Hannibal.

No one truly won the war that day. It ended with a beautiful duet of The Phantom of the Opera, just the way it was sung the first time Erik and Christine truly met. Everyone then emerged from their wrapping station.

“Well, that was fun,” Christine said as she kissed Erik and pulled a piece of tape from his cheek. He then stuck a bow on her head. She wrinkled her nose.

Eowyn then put a scrap of wrapping paper on Faramir’s head. He then pulled a curly ribbon from her hair. “How on earth did you get so messy?” Faramir laughed, pulling another ribbon from her blonde hair. She shrugged.

They then ate dinner and went off to bed, ready for the next day’s adventures.

Christine and Eowyn woke to a note on the parlor table. It read;

Dear Eowyn and Christine,

          We’ve gone to get a little Christmas surprise for you. Don’t worry about us. We’ll be back soon and we’re sure you’ll like our idea.

                                                                                                                  With love,

                                                                                                       Faramir and Erik

Christine smiled. “I’m slightly concerned, but I’m certain they mean well,” she said.

They soon came back in the little boat, which was full of bags.

“Okay, we’ve got decorations, ornaments, cookie mix, hot chocolate, and breakfast!” Faramir said.

“What did you pick up?’ Eowyn asked, pulling the bag open. “English muffins! Yay!” She pulled out something else. “Donuts!”

Christine grabbed the food and ran to the parlor. Everyone else followed suit.

“So, what are we going to do today?” Eowyn asked between mouthfuls of English muffin and cream-filled donut.

“Yeah, what’re we doing?” Christine inquired.

“Well, this was all Faramir’s idea, so I’ll let him explain,” Erik said. “Take it away!”

“Gee, thanks.”

“No problem.”

“That was sarcasm.”

“I know.”

“Well, I was thinking that we could get a Christmas tree! A live one, of course. Fake ones are boring, after all. So…what do you think?” Faramir asked.

“Sounds fun,” Christine said.

Eowyn leapt up and threw her arms around her husband, kissing him. “That’s the best idea I’ve ever heard!” she shouted. “I’ve always wanted a Christmas tree!” She smiled.

“That’s good. Now let’s go!” he said, grinning. He started toward the door.

Erik stood there, arm protectively over Christine. “Not so fast. Christine says she needs to get ready before we can leave. Now go on, love. We’ll wait for you.”

Christine kissed him. “Thank you, angel.” Then she went off to get ready.

Eowyn smiled. “Christine sure does love you, Erik,” she said. “And you love her equally.”

Erik nodded. “I’d never hurt my angel. And I know she’d never knowingly hurt me either.”

“I’d never hurt Eowyn either,” Faramir said.

Christine then walked out, wearing what looked like two coats, three scarves, and a beanie. “Love, you’re overdressed!” Erik laughed. “One coat would be enough.”

She rolled her eyes and went off to change. She returned in the outfit she wore to her father’s grave all those years ago. “Better?” she asked.

“Much better,” Erik answered.

They went out and walked to the Christmas tree farm. “Is this it?” Faramir asked, pointing at the farm.

“You mean to tell me you planned this and didn’t even bother to find the Christmas tree farm?” Eowyn spat, scowling. “You can’t plan for beans.”

“I know, I know. But Erik said he’d guide us. Don’t pin it on me!”

“It was your idea! Don’t rely on someone else!” Eowyn growled.

Christine’s eyes were wide as she watched the argument unfold. Erik pulled her close and comforted her. “It’ll be okay, angel. They’ll be okay. Arguments happen.”

“We never argue, Erik! Is this normal?” Her voice was quivering, on the edge of shattering.

“Of course it is.”

The conflict resolved itself and they headed into the Christmas tree farm.

Christine bounded off childishly, running through the rows of green-needled fir trees. She vanished from sight almost immediately.

Erik sighed. “She’ll be back soon, I can guarantee that,” he said. “Christine is very childish when it comes to Christmas.”

“I know someone like that,” Faramir teased, ruffling his wife’s blonde hair. She laughed.

“Come, we need to find Christine,” Eowyn said, striding off. Then they heard her mutter, “This would be easier with a horse.”

“Christine!” Erik shouted. The brunette turned to look at him. He ran toward her and hugged her. “Angel, I was so worried! Are you okay, dearest?” He held her shoulders, scanning her for injuries.

“Erik, I’m fine. Why are you so worried, anyway?” Christine said.

“Anything could’ve happened to you out there.”

“Never mind all that. I found a tree!” Christine pointed at an eight-foot-tall fir tree with full, green branches.

“That’s a lovely tree, Christine,” Faramir said, smiling.

“I agree. It’s gorgeous,” Eowyn said.

“Well, I think…it’s the perfect tree!” Erik said. His lover beamed.

“So we can get it?” Christine asked. Everyone nodded. “Yay!” Her face lit up.

Eowyn laughed. “Faramir, why don’t you and Erik find someone to get the tree for us? I’ll stay here with Christine and the tree.”

Erik and Faramir then walked off toward the front of the tree farm.

“Christine?” Eowyn asked.

“Hmm?”

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Of course!”

“What exactly is the relationship between you and Erik? Are you dating, engaged, what?”

Christine froze. This was inevitable, but it still took her by surprise. She took a deep breath. “We’re married,” she began, “but we keep it mostly secret. Only my best friend Meg, her mother Madame Giry, and a man named Raoul know. Erik says that it could ruin my reputation as a soprano if it escaped that I was married to the Phantom of the Opera who so many feared.”

“Oh.” Eowyn bit her lip.  “I see.”

Right as they finished, the boys came back with a worker following them. “We’d like this tree, sil vous plait,” Christine said, pointing at the Douglas Fir.

The man nodded and hefted the tree onto his shoulder, carrying it to the checkout area.

“Do you want us to deliver it?”

“Could you deliver it?” Christine asked.

“Address?” the man asked.

“The Opera Populaire. I’m sure you know where that is?” Erik said. “Only an uncultured swine would not.”

“Erik!” Christine scolded. “Sorry about him. He has no social skills.”

“It’s fine. I’ll drop it off around four,” he said. They paid for the tree and walked off.

“So uh…don’t mean to be rude, but when’s lunch?” Faramir asked. Everyone laughed. “But really, I’m hungry.”

“The park?” Christine suggested.

“Sounds fun!” Eowyn said, grinning.

“Christine, there’s so many people,” Erik complained. “My mask.”

“There are weirder things in Parisian parks,” Christine said. With that, she turned on her heel and strode off. Everyone else followed.

“Erik, she’s leaving!” Faramir warned.

“I know, I’m coming,” he replied, quickening his pace.

They arrived at the park and were greeted by a mime. “What. Is. That?” Eowyn spat, disgusted. “It’s hideous!” The mime clutched his chest.

“He has ears, love,” Faramir whispered.

“Eowyn, it’s a mime! They’re all over Paris,” Christine laughed. “He won’t hurt you, I promise.”

“You sure?” Eowyn asked.

“Positive.”

With that, they walked off. The couple from Middle-earth was astounded by the sights: the Eiffel Tower, the gardens, the people, everything. They were in love with the City of Love.

The day passed quickly, full of sightseeing and adventures. Unfortunately, it was cut short by the night’s opera, a performance of Il Muto with Christine as the countess (finally).

No one struggled to sleep that night.

December twenty-third. Two days until Christmas. And a crazy day for the two couples at the Opera Populaire.

It started normally, with Christine preparing breakfast and everyone sitting in the parlor. But then the question was asked.

“So, what are we going to do today?” Eowyn asked.

Faramir’s eyes glinted with mischief. “Glad you asked,” he said. “Erik, get the box.”

“Sir yes sir!” Erik laughed. He then went to fetch the box Faramir had asked for.

He returned with a large cardboard box filled to the brim with any and every form of Christmas decoration known to mankind.

“Today,” Faramir announced, “we’ll be decorating! This is the least festive place on Earth and that needs fixing. So, let’s get started!”

“Okay!” Christine leapt up and ran to the box, followed by Eowyn. Erik sat down at the piano and began to play a soft tune resemblant to Music of the Night.

Christine took an ornament and set it on the tree, smiling. “Pretty!” she cheered.

Faramir smiled as he watched Eowyn running around and setting everything up. She was pouring her heart into decorating the opera house for Christmas. At the time, she was hanging a wreath above Erik’s piano. She then ran back to the box where Faramir was standing to grab another decoration.

Suddenly, Christine giggled. “What now?” Eowyn said, looking up to see the girl sitting in the rafters, holding a sprig of something. Something with white berries. “Oh brother,” Eowyn muttered.

“What is it?” Faramir asked, searching for the cause of his wife’s distress.

“Mistletoe,” Eowyn sighed. She then kissed Faramir quickly and went off.

Christine sprang from the rafters, the mistletoe hung where she had been sitting. “I tried to help you,” she said, shrugging. “But she’ll be back. That’s where the decorations are, after all. Stay there.” With that, she ran after Eowyn.

“What now, Christine?” Eowyn sighed, turning from where she was setting up a Nativity scene. “If this is about the mistletoe, I don’t want to hear it,” she spat.

But Christine wouldn’t give up. “Why? Why were you so afraid of it?”

“It’s weird, that’s why! Forcing two people to kiss. It’s sick!”

Faramir, who had overheard all this, sighed and walked away, resuming decorating half-heartedly.

Eowyn saw this and ran over to him. “Faramir! What’s wrong?”

“It’s nothing, love. Don’t worry about me.” He kissed her forehead. “I love you.”

“Faramir! I know that something’s wrong! If you’d just tell me, I could help,” she pleaded. Then suddenly, she kissed him. “Better?” she asked, smiling.

“Much,” he laughed.

Erik laughed. “See, angel? They can handle themselves,” he said, holding her.

“I know, I know,” Christine laughed. She then returned to decorating. “Erik, come on!”

“I’m good. I’ll stick to the piano,” he said.

Christine sighed and hung up a stocking, but said nothing.

Decorating continued for the rest of the day.

“Christmas Eve!” Christine called as she ran around the house. “It’s Christmas Eve!”

Erik walked out. “Yes, angel, it is,” he chuckled, kissing her. “But please, quiet down. You’ll wake our guests.”

“Fine,” she growled. “But I’m just so excited!” She buried her face in his chest to suppress a squeal.

“I know. Now go sit down while I make breakfast.” Christine nodded and went into the parlor. Then, soft notes began to rise from the grand piano.

“Christine!” Erik scolded. “That’s not quiet!”

“Sorry.”

Erik walked out with a platter of waffles, a bottle of syrup, a stick of butter, plates, and silverware. “Enjoy, angel.”

“What, you weren’t going to wait for us?” Faramir said, walking out with his arm around Eowyn.

“How rude,” Eowyn said.

“I was going to wait on you!” Christine said.

“I wasn’t,” Erik said. “Just being honest, unlike you, Miss Daae.”

“I was going to wait, Erik!” Christine spat.

“Sure you were.”

Eowyn rolled her eyes. “Can we eat now?”

“Yeah, really,” Faramir laughed.

“Sure,” Erik said. Christine reached for a waffle. Erik gently and playfully slapped her hand. “Ah, ah, love. Since you were going to eat without them, you may get your food last.”

“Erik!” Christine yelped, frowning. “You liar!”

“Oh, Christine,” Eowyn said, clear apology in her voice.

“Meh, I’ll be fine.” At that, her stomach gave an unholy growl. “But please hurry! I’m starving!”

Everyone laughed.

Soon enough, Christine got to eat. Faramir then pulled out a piece of paper, grinning. “Here are some activities for today. Choose what you want to do first,” he said. The list read:

Christmas cookies

Sleigh ride

Caroling

Snow activities (in event of snow)

Walking

Shopping

Sightseeing

Anything else we think of!

“Hmm…caroling!” Christine said.

“Oh, how’d I know you’d say that!” Eowyn laughed. “But that works.”

“Okay!” Christine grinned. She adored caroling. She and her father went caroling every year when he was alive.

The couples walked to the park and turned down a snow-covered path.

“Oh, I love snow,” Eowyn sighed, stretching her arms out. “Isn’t it gorgeous? It never snows in Rohan.”

“Yes, love, it’s beautiful. But you know what’s more beautiful than snow?” Faramir asked.

“Nothing?”

“You.”

“Aww!” Christine cooed. “You two are so cute!”

“Can we just get to singing?” Erik asked. “I want to start with O Holy Night.”

“I don’t know the words,” Eowyn said, eyes falling to her feet. Faramir tossed her a booklet.

“Page twenty,” he said. “You’re welcome.”

They flipped through the book to see notes and lyrics on the next page.

“Ready?” Erik asked. They nodded.

“Ready and-”

“O holy night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.” The tones of their voices perfectly blended, from Christine’s soprano to Faramir’s tenor.

They walked down the path, singing as they went. The song soon ended and they had to choose another one.

“So, uh…what now?” Eowyn asked. “Can I pick something?”

“Of course!” Faramir answered. “Go ahead.”

“Hmm…” She thumbed through the booklet’s pages. “What about Angels We Have Heard on High?” she suggested. “It’s on page thirty-five.” Everyone flipped through the pages of their booklet.

“That sounds good,” Erik said. “Christine, your thoughts?”

“It’s fine by me. Can we transition it into Hark the Herald Angels Sing at the end?” Christine answered. Everyone nodded. “Yay! That’s one of my favorites.”

Erik counted them off and they began a beautiful rendition of the two Christmas carols, making everyone they passed in the park smile. Some people even tried to give them money, but saw nowhere to put the coins and bills.

The quartet continued singing until they made their way all the way around the park. They ended up going through most of the songs in the book, including, but not limited to: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, O Come O Come Emmanuel, and The First Noel.

“Okay, so what now?” Christine asked, her face pink from the cold and the wind. “Eowyn, you choose what we’re going to do now, since I picked caroling.”

“Oh goodness,” Eowyn laughed. “Decisions.”

“You’ll be fine, love. It’s not too hard of a choice,” Faramir said.

“Speak for yourself.”

They stood there for five minutes or so, waiting for Eowyn to decide on what she wanted to do. Finally, she made her choice. “Sleigh ride!” she shouted, grinning. “I mean, we are in the park, which is certainly where the sleigh rides take place.”

“That seems fun,” Christine said. “Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring ting tingling too,” she sang. Everyone glared at her. “What did you expect?” she laughed. “If something is the name of a song, I will sing it.”

“I’m good with a sleigh ride,” Faramir said.

“As am I,” Erik continued. “So it’s settled then?” Everyone nodded. “Follow me.”

Erik guided them through the park to the station where the sleigh rides took place. There stood a pair of large Clydesdale stallions, tossing their heads and jingling the bells on their harnesses. “Wow,” Eowyn gasped. “They’re beautiful.”

“Aren’t they?” Faramir said.

Christine walked up to the driver. “Excuse me, sir, but we’d like to ride in the sleigh. How much would it cost for four people?” she asked.

“Ten francs,” he answered. Christine opened her wallet and took out a ten-franc coin. “Merci, mademoiselle.” He offered his hand and helped her into the sleigh. He then did the same for Eowyn.

They set off around the park, listening to the jingling of the horses’ harnesses and smiling the whole time. “It’s so beautiful…I want to live in Paris forever,” Eowyn said. “Can we move here, Faramir?”

“No, dear. We have duties back in Middle-earth,” he answered, laughing.

“Not fair!” she yelped.

The sleigh ride continued until lunch time, seeing as the Clydesdales were not the fastest of breeds. Then they arrived back at the little station. “Thank you!” Christine said, smiling.

“You’re welcome, mademoiselle!”

“Okay, so now can we get food?” Erik asked. “I really need food.”

“Now you see how I felt this morning,” Christine scolded. “But since I’m a good person, we can go get food. There are a lot of little stalls out here in the park. What do you want?”

“Hmm…anything is good,” Erik answered. “Let’s let our guests decide. What do you two want?”

“Oh no…another decision…,” Eowyn sighed. “I’m not sure. Faramir?”

“I guess chicken? Is there a good chicken place anywhere near here?” Faramir asked.

“Ooh, yes, there is! Follow me!” Christine sprinted off, smiling all the time.

They soon arrived at the restaurant, which was near Café Dimanche. “Here we are!”

They got their food, ate it, and returned to the Opera Populaire. “What do you ladies want to do now? It needs to be something that won’t take too long, seeing as Christine and I have a performance tonight, the most important of the year,” Erik said.

“What about Christmas cookies?” Christine suggested. “We need more desserts in this place.”

“Ooh, I love cookies!” Faramir cheered. “Although Eowyn is not the best baker…” She rolled her eyes and scoffed.

“That was one time, Faramir!” Eowyn spat. “And that’s because I got bored.”

“You still almost burned the house down.”

“Ugh.”

“So we’re making Christmas cookies?” Erik interjected, trying to prevent another argument between the couple.

“Yep!” Eowyn said. “Christine and I can go get the ingredients and stuff out if you two will go get the batter. C’mon, Christine.” The two girls went off into the kitchen. Erik and Faramir then walked in with the two boxes of sugar cookie mix and the cans of frosting and sprinkles.

“Okay, so what do we have to do first?” Christine asked. “Erik, hand me the box.” He did as she asked. “Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Do that.”

Erik set the oven to preheat. Faramir followed him over there. “Seems like you’ve got that under control,” he said. Erik nodded.

“Faramir, we need two medium sized bowls over here!” Eowyn called. “And that crushed cereal you bought!”

He went and looked in the cabinet for the two bowls, handed one to Eowyn and one to Christine, then ran to go fetch the cereal, which was Cookie Crisps. “Thank you,” Eowyn said. “What’s next? And Faramir, could you be a dear and coat that cookie sheet over there with flour? It needs to be done before we can put the cookies in the oven.”

“Ma’am yes ma’am! Erik, you read out the instructions.”

“Stir the cookie mix, melted butter, and egg into the medium sized bowl until a soft dough forms. Once this happens, add in the crushed cereal,” Erik read. They did exactly as it said, with a huge puff of cookie mix appearing when they dumped all the mix out.

“Okay, what now?” Christine asked. “Gosh, I want to eat some of this cookie dough. Erik, can I lick the spoon when I’m done?” she pleaded.

He sighed. “No, Christine. You might get salmonella and die, and then where would I be?”

“Somewhere in a not happy place.”

“Exactly.”

“Now read the instructions.”

“Fine.” He cleared his throat overdramatically and began to read the rest of the box. “On a floured surface, roll out the dough one fourth of an inch apart.”

“Don’t mean to interrupt, but how much is an inch?” Eowyn asked.

“Just guess,” Faramir answered. “Darn these American recipes! At least our oven is American-made so it has Fahrenheit on here.”

Erik cleared his throat again. “Can I continue?” Everyone nodded. “Cut with three-inch cookie cutters. On ungreased cookie sheets, place the cutouts one inch apart.”

“Faramir, get two other cookie sheets out, will you?” Eowyn asked. He ducked down into the cabinet again and fetched two large metal cookie sheets. “Thanks, love.”

“Erik, could you get the cookie cutters? Only get the holiday ones, please. You know, like the reindeer, the snowman, the snowflake, and the Santa hat?” Christine asked.

“Yes, I get it.” He delved into the drawer of random cooking supplies and came out with a handful of cookie cutters in all sorts of holiday shapes.

“Yay! Cookie cutters! Faramir, come help me!” Eowyn shouted. “I can’t cut all this dough by myself.”

“Okay,” Faramir sighed. He walked over and picked up a snowman, stabbing it into the cookie dough.

“Erik!” Christine called. “I need you to help as well!”

He walked over. “Oh, Christine. You don’t want me to help,” he said.

“Yes, I do.”

“Oh, fine.” He took the snowflake and pressed it into the cookie dough. “Happy?”

“You have to make more than one!” she giggled. “Otherwise you only get to decorate one!” She handed him the bell-shaped one.

They ended up cutting fifteen cookies per pair and placing them on the cookie sheets.

“Erik, love, could you read the rest of the instructions?” Christine asked.

“Certainly. It says to bake them for seven to nine minutes OR until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. It then says to let them cool for one minute on the sheet and for fifteen minutes off the sheet. Then you can decorate them.”

Christine grabbed an oven mitt and put her batch of cookies in the oven. She then handed the mitt to Eowyn, who put her cookies in the oven.

“And now we wait,” Faramir said. “What now?”

“I’m going to clean up,” Christine said. “Erik, I don’t want you to help. Last time you tried to help, you broke three plates.”

“That’s fair,” Erik replied.

They cleaned up, took the cookies out of the oven, let them cool, and then got ready to decorate! “Erik, here are yours,” Christine said, shoving five cookies at him.

“Faramir, here’re your cookies,” Eowyn said, pushing the cookies to him. “Now take the frosting and all that stuff.” She then nudged cans of frosting and sprinkles at him.

“I’m not using sprinkles,” Erik said.

“Erik, why not?” Christine said. “Sprinkles are fun!”

“No.”

“Oh, fine. But you still should use them.”

“That’d ruin my reputation as the fearsome Phantom of the Opera.”

But Christine didn’t answer. She just took a knife and began spreading chocolate frosting over a reindeer-shaped cookie. Then she grabbed a bright red gumdrop and plopped it where the nose would be.

Meanwhile, Eowyn and Faramir were laughing over a failed cookie. “Faramir, that’s not at all how you decorate a snowman!” Eowyn laughed. Its face was completely lopsided, the buttons were not even close to a straight line, and anything that could look messed up was messed up.

“You try making a logical face out of sprinkles!” Faramir retorted, but it was clear he wasn’t angry. His face was red from laughter and he was struggling to breathe.

“Okay, I will!” Eowyn teased. Of course, she failed as well, and the laughter continued.

The day continued on like that until the opera at six-thirty, a production of Hannibal. After that, they all went to bed.

“Christmas! It’s Christmas!’ Eowyn shouted, running around the house and waking everyone up. “Come on, get up, get up! We have to open presents!”

Christine walked out. “Don’t you want breakfast first?” she asked, stifling a yawn.

“No. Presents are more important right now,” Eowyn said, crossing her arms.

“She has a point. Who eats before they open presents on Christmas morning?” Erik asked. “Faramir, get up! Your wife is anxious.”

Faramir walked out. “I’m coming, I’m coming. Who wants to pass out all the gifts?” he asked.

Christine was about to volunteer, but Erik beat her to the punch. “I’ll do it! Everyone go find a seat,” he said. Christine glared at him, but soon got an idea.

“Can I help? Pretty please?” she begged.

“I guess. I’ll get the presents out from under the tree and you give them to everyone,” Erik said. “Eowyn, Faramir, take a seat somewhere. The Middle-earthian couple flopped down on the couch.

“Erik, this one’s yours. Where do you want me to put it?” Christine asked.

“Set it at the piano, angel,” he answered.

They passed out all the gifts, each person having nine. Strange how that worked out, everything being equal. “Okay, who wants to open something first?” Faramir asked.

“Me! I do!” Eowyn shouted, practically leaping to her feet.

“Okay then,” Erik said. “Then Christine, then Faramir, then me. Is that good for everyone?” They all nodded.

“This one’s from Christine,” Eowyn said. She ripped open the box to find a miniature Eiffel Tower replica. “Oh my goodness! It’s so pretty!” She stood up to hug the other girl. “I love it! Thank you!”

“You’re welcome,” Christine said. “Erik, this one’s from you!” She grinned and carefully peeled the paper off a little box. She opened it to find a silver heart locket and a ring with a heart on it, glistening with gemstones. Engraved on the locket were the words “Beneath a Moonless Sky.” Inside it was a picture of the two of them on their wedding day She gasped. “Erik! This is too much, angel.”

“It’s not. Do you like it?” he asked.

“Of course I do! It’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received,” she answered, hugging him.

“That’s good. Now, Faramir, why don’t you open something?” Erik said, trying to get the spotlight off of him.

“I guess so,” Faramir answered. He lifted up a gift. “This one’s from you, Eowyn.” He unwrapped it, paying no attention to trying to salvage the wrapping paper. He pulled out a replica sword, which he immediately brandished and waved around. “Okay, that’s really cool. Thanks, Eowyn!”

“You’re welcome. Now, Erik, you open something!” Eowyn said.

“You’re just ready to open something else,” Christine teased.

“That’s pretty true.”

Erik smiled at his wife and her best friend as he picked up a gift. “Christine, this is from you, is it not?” he asked. She nodded.

“I do hope you like it…I wasn’t sure if you would, but I decided to risk it,” she said, biting her lip.

“Angel, I know I will. I love everything you get me,” Erik answered as he began to tear the paper off the box. He opened it to see a music composition book with “That’s a sharp, not a hashtag!” written on it, some piano sheet music, and a little handmade sculpture of a quarter note with angel wings with “Angel of Music” written on it in Christine’s handwriting.

“Do you like it?” she asked, brushing her feet against the floor.

He set everything on top of the piano where he could easily reach it while playing. “Of course I do, Christine. I know you put a lot of effort into finding things for me. I love it, angel. Don’t be worried.”

They continued opening gifts until there were none left for anyone. Everyone was happy, but there was still one last surprise to be revealed.

“Hey, Erik?” Christine asked, laying her head on his shoulder.

“Yes, angel?” he replied.

“I’ve got something to tell you, well, all of you. But I’m worried it’ll make you upset,” Christine said. “Not so much Eowyn and Faramir as you, Erik.”

“Tell us!” Eowyn and Faramir chorused.

“I promise I won’t be mad, angel. You know it’s hard for me to be mad at you,” Erik said.

Christine fiddled with her necklace. “Oh, I guess. I had to tell you sometime, didn’t I?”

“Quit stalling and just tell us!” Eowyn shouted. “We’re here for you, Christine. We promise we won’t be upset, no matter how outrageous it is.”

“Well…I’m expecting. You’re going to be a father, Erik,” Christine said. She looked at her husband, trying to see if he was upset or not.

Erik’s mouth fell open. How could he have done this? It’s not that he wasn’t excited, Christine would be a great mother, but what if the child had his face deformity? Or what if he lost his temper with it? What would happen then? Would the child hate him? Would Christine not be able to take it and leave, taking their baby with her?

He was snapped by this internal monologue by Eowyn saying, “Oh, Christine, that’s amazing! You and Erik will make amazing parents!”

“Congrats,” Faramir said. “I agree with Eowyn. You two will be amazing parents to this child.”

But Christine didn’t appear to be listening. “Erik? What do you think?”

He smiled. “I have my concerns, but I know that we can work through things together.” He then kissed her. “I love you, Christine.”

“I love you too.”

And so another Christmas came and went, but for both of them, it was the best Christmas ever celebrated. Not because of the gifts they received, or the things they did, but the memories that were made and the friends they met.

Middle Hyrule: Now Accepting Submissions

I love running this blog, but I’m a busy girl. Also, there are a lot of fandoms I’m not in, which means I’m missing out on lots of readers. To remedy this issue, I’ve decided to permanently open Middle Hyrule for guest post submissions.

Ever wanted to write a guest post? Have a fanfic that needs more love? Want to be featured in a place where people will see your content? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re a candidate for a guest post on Middle Hyrule, the single greatest obscure fandom site on the Internet, run by the most gorgeous and fabulous girl  you’ll ever meet. *winks*

All kidding aside, I would love to see anything you want to send to me. You may have noticed the new page at the top – head over there to submit and figure out how to do so. Come on, you know you want to. And tell any friends who may be interested, too!

Can’t wait to see what you’ll all send.

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