a goblet of wine

Cyrille couldn’t really recall when he had last celebrated a birthday. His aside that was, the twins had even brought him things, though early and had given them to him. He only knew the date because he had asked them. They’d looked at him for a long moment, puzzled at his desire to know when they would celebrate their birthday and they had told him.

Of course, there had been a long explanation as to the fact that they’d never really celebrated, it had never been more than a good morning hug, birthday wishes and, if they’d been lucky, a bit of candy or a cupcake though those had been a little rarer.

He had no intention of really going out of his way to celebrate them since he didn’t imagine they might feel comfortable with that but still. It didn’t help that their birthdays fell on a weekday, it made celebrations need to be a little more simplified.

Somewhere over the weekend, Agni had wandered off, disappeared for a while, not really saying where he might have been wandering off to. They let him, knowing better than to ask too many questions. Several hours later, when he did come home, he looked over his shoulder before stepping inside and asked Cyrille if he could keep Mira occupied somewhere and preferably in his room so he could come in with whatever it was he had bought.

Cyrille had agreed to it and had lured Mira into the furthest off bedroom to check on some invisible thing he thought he’d ‘lost’ somewhere. Once Agni had brought in whatever it was he had bought and had looked into that last bedroom with a ‘what are you doing?’ Cyrille had dropped the game and mumbled that he would just buy a new barbell since they couldn’t find his old one.

That very morning, he drove the twins and Armin to the library, telling them that he’d pick them up once the day was over though it was likely he’d join them by late afternoon. He came back home, setting out just some basic decorations and then settled in the kitchen for some cooking. At first he had thought of baking them a cake but baking really was not his forte so he settled on cooking. He prepared a meal of boeuf bourguignon, having bought a bottle of red wine just for that. The recipe left him with a single cup worth and he decided he would split it in three. He was more than aware that the twins had only turned seventeen but he figured that a third of a cup of red wine wouldn’t really kill anyone.

Once the food was on a low heat setting in the crockpot—he felt somewhat safer leaving the crockpot to cook by itself than he did leaving something without someone to look it over in the oven—he located his coat once more and stepped back outside. He had to stop somewhere, find each of them a slight gift of sorts and then find a cake. The cake seemed to be the most important part of it all and he wanted to be sure it was perfect.

He knew, deep down, that he should have thought of the cake before the day itself but he didn’t know how he would have really gotten his hands on it without the twins knowing about it at all. They didn’t really have any empty space to put the cake in where they wouldn’t have noticed it.

With the cake in the car and two small gifts wrapped up, he drove back home, dropped these off, checked in on their meal, stirred it lightly and then went back to the library to help them with what little was left of their day.

Despite that work had been done for the heating in the old building, the place was uncomfortably cool at this point in the year so instead of shedding his coat and scarf, he only hung up his coat, keeping his scarf secure around his throat. He was glad for the long-sleeved shirt he wore underneath. He couldn’t quite see his breath when he exhaled but it wasn’t far from that point and he was surprised to see any patrons at all in the place.

The last few hours went by without a single incident. They all settled into the car and Cyrille took them back home. They waited until Armin had disappeared into his apartment before they started up the stairs. It had become something close to habit to make sure the man was in his apartment before they went anywhere, not much different from waiting for someone to step into their home when you dropped them off.

As they walked up the stairs, Cyrille stretched, wondering if he should just tell the twins about the little mock-surprise or not. He settled on not, wanting to let them discover the small little things. He hadn’t done much, just a few balloons in the living room and their meals.

Agni stepped into the apartment first, blinked at the small bits of decorations and he laughed, the sound clear and bright. Mira peered over his brother’s shoulder, curious as to the reason for his sudden laughed. He blinked and chuckled, his head shaken somewhat. “That is adorable.”

That was a good start! At least, that was what Cyrille told himself as he took their coats and hung them up. He figured he could play mock-butler for the rest of the evening, they deserved at least that much.

“I didn’t know what to get you guys but I did get each of you a small something, you’ll be able to unwrap them after dinner and dessert. The meal is in the crockpot and it should be ready in a couple of hours more,” and it smelled divine! “and I even got you guys a cake, I hope you’ll like it.”

“You went out of your way.” Mira’s words were awed as he stepped into the kitchen, breathing in deeply. “This smells so absolutely wonderful.”

“I just tried to show you guys that a birthday can be celebrated without going completely overboard, is all.”

Agni had disappeared into his room and was now coming back out with a huge black box on wheels. It was hard to know what it might have been but it looked heavy. Mira blinked at him then blinked up at the single bow sitting atop the box. “I know Cyrille said we’d only open our presents after dessert and I’m fine with that but I wanted to bring this thing out in the open. Might as well have the presents in the same area so we’re not running all over the place.”

Mira’s yes were still wide, unbelieving. This thing, whatever it was, was big. He felt somewhat uncomfortable by the small size of the box he pulled out of his pocket, setting it on the kitchen counter along with Cyrille’s own.

After dinner was had and wine sipped at, boxes were brought out.

“I know my gift is really small and I feel like I should have gotten something bigger but when I saw it, I thought of you and I thought you might really want it.” Mira’s voice was quiet, uncertain as he pushed the slight box toward his brother.

Agni reached for it, curling his fingers around it. “Mira, I didn’t buy you that gift because of its size, I bought you that gift because I thought you’d really like it.”

With those words, he opened the slight box. Inside, sitting on soft padding, was a necklace with a slight rod at the end. On one side of the rod there were two stones embedded. One deeply red, the other a beautiful clear-ocean blue. Agni smiled, a sigh of contentment escaping him as he pulled the necklace from the box and hook it about his neck. It fell just so a little below his collarbones.

“I love it, Mira, that is absolutely gorgeous.” He motioned towards the huge box however, a sheepish grin to his lips. “I do hope you like this gift. I recall how you seemed to want to reach out and touch when Magali showed us hers.” Mira blinked at his brother’s words. He moved toward the box, looking it over. He found two latches and eased them open before he was opening the box itself. There, inside, a harp. It was nearly bigger than him and he knew it was very likely a lot heavier than him.

He stood speechless, his eyes wide and wet at the sight of something so beautiful.

“I know just the person to teach you how to play this instrument, too, I bet they’d be pretty happy to meet someone new.” Cyrille chuckled as Mira launched himself at his brother, hugging him fiercely. He pushed the two identical boxes towards the twins and once they parted, they each took one. There was nothing on them to state one was for one particular twin and the other for the other.

Inside, as they opened it, a pair of matching bracelets. Simple in designs, no extras to them, not even decorative stones. Two simple bracelets that could be worn with just about anything and everything. It was the thought that counted and it was what mattered to him. He had wanted them to enjoy their evening and he knew it had been enjoyed.

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