(advent) December 14

Monday, December 14

Molly, it’s really snowing! Schrodinger danced in the softly-falling flakes, the bells on his Christmas collar jingling in the night air. Molly laughed as she turned from locking the front door of CrossWinds Books.

“Well, Pavel did say he had a very good tip that it was going to be a lovely night for a sleigh ride, remember?” she said, turning up the collar of her coat. She lifted her face to the sky, enjoying the feather-light kiss of the fluffy snowflakes as they fell around her. “And this is perfect. I hope Ella loves her sleigh ride.”

I wish WE were going on a sleigh ride, Schrodinger said mournfully. He opened his mouth wide, snapping snowflakes out of the air.

She winked at him. “Who says we aren’t?”

At that, the sound of sleigh bells filled the air, and Schrodinger’s eyes widened as a sleigh with two large reindeer came around the corner. Lisa Cohen and her husband Neil were in the driver’s seat, and as they pulled up to the bookstore, Lisa said, “Hey, Molly! Hi, Schrodinger! Want to go for a ride with us?”

Absolutely! Schrodinger said, jumping up into the sleigh. Drew!

“Hi, Schrodinger!” Drew said, opening up the blankets he was snuggled under so that Molly and Schrodinger could join him. “Ready to go look at the lights?”

This is awesome! Schrodinger said, maneuvering himself so that he could stay warm but still see everything. That meant that he was half-in and half-out of Drew’s lap. Molly grinned at her husband, who winced a bit until he managed to move the CrossCat to a more comfortable position.

“Everyone settled?” Neil asked. Upon gaining an assent from everyone, he chirruped to the reindeer, shook the reins, and they were off.

“How was your day?” Molly asked Drew, as the smell of snow and salt water rushed past them.

“Not bad. The Harbormaster came up to talk to Mal, so I got a chance to talk to him, which is always interesting.” Drew put an arm around Molly, pulling her closer to him, and she happily snuggled up next to him.

Look, it’s Pavel’s sleigh! Schrodinger said, wiggling excitedly. With Pavel and Ella!

Indeed, the reindeer, which were moving at a good clip in the snow, soon overtook the black horses that were pulling Pavel’s sleigh. Inside the other sleigh, Pavel and his mother were also snuggled under a massive pile of furs. Ella waved to them, her face alight with happiness, and Molly’s heart warmed. Then Pavel’s driver turned down another road, diverging from the main road, and they were gone.

“I’m so glad he was able to reconnect with her,” Molly said to Drew, who nodded. “I just wish he could do the same with his grandmother.”

He sounds so unhappy when his mother brought up visiting her, though, Schrodinger said, turning to look at her. Why would you wish him more unhappiness?

“Because I think he would be happier once he realized what kind of person she really is,” Molly said. “Remember, he’s never actually met her. He just knows about her from his grandfather.”

“And interestingly enough, I got a chance to talk to the Harbormaster about Pavel’s grandmother,” Drew said. “Did you know she actually came to the Cove a few times?”

Really? Schrodinger’s ears perked up.

“Do tell,” Molly added, intrigued. “What did the Harbormaster say?”

The current Harbormaster for Carter’s Cove was an old, wizened man of indeterminate heritage and race. He’d been Harbormaster for generations, and Molly had often wondered if he was a spirit himself, although he’d never said, and she’d never ask. He was gentle and kind, but did not speak about himself, ever. She wasn’t even sure if he had a name of his own; if he did, she’d never heard it, and didn’t know anyone else who had. He was just the Harbormaster.

“Well, apparently Captain Brynna Stromsdottir is quite the woman,” Drew said. “The Harbormaster said she’d come through every so often, with her ship. He’d met Pavel’s grandfather too, and gave me some information on him too.” Drew grimaced. “He wasn’t as complementary about him as he was about Brynna.”

Why not? Schrodinger asked.

“Because apparently he wasn’t a very good man,” Drew said. “The Harbormaster called him a competent sailor, but a lousy captain, and very jealous of his wife. But he said that it was clear Pavel was Brynna’s grandson – her crew was devoted to her, and she to them.”

“Interesting,” Molly said.

“It gets better,” Drew said. “There was an accident in the harbor one day – Pavel’s grandfather’s ship was hit by another ship. Several of the crew died, and Wilhelm, Pavel’s grandfather, was injured so badly that he couldn’t go back to sea ever again. He blamed Brynna for it, although from what the Harbormaster said, she had nothing to do with it.”

Was it her ship? Schrodinger suggested.

“No, apparently she wasn’t even in port at the time,” Drew said.

“Maybe that was why,” Molly said thoughtfully. “He sounds like the type of person who wanted his family near him, and if she wasn’t even there–”

Then maybe he blamed her because she left him, and he thought she should have been there for him? Schrodinger finished. That doesn’t make him sound as evil as the other stories do. That makes me feel better.

“Because there’s a reason he was unhappy?” Molly asked him.

Because evil is a horrible thing to be, Schrodinger said. It’s soulless, and to think that someone related to a good person like Pavel could just be evil is awful. If he was angry because he thought he’d been abandoned, then I can understand that.

“Doesn’t make his actions any better, though, just because we understand them,” Drew said somberly. “And from what the Harbormaster said, the accident might have been Wilhelm’s fault, although since it didn’t happen here, he didn’t know all the details.”

“And it grounded him,” Molly said. “So not only was he not able to go to the sea again, but he was possibly responsible for the accident. And the death of some of his sailors.” She shook her head. “I think, given that set of circumstances, that I might become bitter and angry too.”

“I can’t imagine you bitter,” Drew said. “Angry, yes, but not bitter.”

“We haven’t had a chance to be bitter,” she said, laying her head against his shoulder again. “Not yet.”

“I hope we never do,” Drew agreed, hugging her.

They passed the rest of the ride in silence, looking at the beautiful lights that decorated Carter’s Cove. Christmas in the Cove was a big deal, and many people decided to go all out in their decorating. The Gate Station had chosen to do an international theme for their decorating, and the techs had set up large snow sculptures that were lit with magical lights. There was a Nativity scene, with the Wise Men offering their presents to the baby Jesus, but there was also a scene of Santas dancing with bells that actually moved (Molly had no idea how they’d done it, and Drew refused to tell them), as well as wooden shoes left at a flickering fireplace. Children in all different outfits stood around a large Christmas tree, and Molly could hear the strains of carols as they went by.

Can we go by Zoey’s house? Schrodinger called up to Lisa.

“Of course!” Lisa replied, and Neil obligingly turned up the road.
Since they had first set up the lights for Zoey and her family two years ago, the display had grown even more. This year, Schrodinger squealed in happiness as he saw the new addition: somehow, the family had found someone to make them a CrossCat in lights, and it was perched in the sleigh with the presents. Molly made a mental note to ask Donna, Zoey’s mother, where they had gotten it, so she could get one.

Finally, Lisa and Neil brought them back to the Bookstore and dropped them off. “Thank you so much!” Molly said, waving to them as the couple drove off, the reindeer’s bells jingling through the falling snow. Lisa waved back, grinning.

“Want to drop me at the Station?” Drew said. “I left my truck there, and I need to be at work soon.”

“I suppose.” Molly hugged him. “I wish you could come home with us instead.”

“Soon,” Drew promised her. “It’s a short shift tonight.”

After they dropped Drew off, Molly and Schrodinger drove home, listening to the Christmas carols that WCOV was playing. Molly noticed how quiet the CrossCat was.

“What’s wrong, Schrodinger?”

I’m still thinking about Pavel’s grandparents, Schrodinger admitted, putting his head on his paws. How sad the family must have been, and how there was really nothing that anyone could do to make it better.

“Well, that’s true,” Molly said. “But now, with his grandfather gone, and hopefully not in pain any more, I think maybe his family can begin to move on.” She glanced over at him as they sat at a stop sign. “And he’ll always have us.”

Yes, Schrodinger agreed, brightening. And his mother is ready to be happy.

“Yes, she is.” Molly remembered the smile on Ella’s face. “I think she really is.”

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