by Peter Conrad

Chapter 7

"Noël! C'est du Chat Noir!"

"Vous devriez parler allemand!"

Joël stumbled, then stuck his tongue out at his identical brother.

"So do you!"

Noël did likewise, then they both giggled and turned back to me. But before they could have their way with me, the foot-sick boy spoke up first.

"Can someone please translate this for me? I don't speak Italian, unfortunately."

Twin tongues plus Alexandre's were the response, and I took the liberty of describing to the blind teenager what had just been done to him.

"Eli, Alexandre and the twins just stuck their tongues out at you. Ouch!"

Alex had poked me in the ribs, for real!


"I'm not a traitor, just an interpreter."

"Hmph! Okay, Eli, when the dwarfs came into the room, Joël recognized Lio's footed sleeper and said to his brother 'That's Cat Noir'. But because the two of them are only supposed to speak German here, Noël pointed it out to his twin. However, while doing so, he also spoke French himself."

"Ah okay. It would be really nice if the little ones would really only speak German. I don't know if Lio speaks French, at least I don't have a clue about That language."

"Don't worry, the two of them usually stick to German here, only when their emotions get the better of them they sometimes accidentally slip into their native language. And no, Lio doesn't speak French either."

"Great, my thanks to all involved. Now if only someone could tell me what this 'cat noir' is all about? Well, 'cat' seems to come from English, and I understand that, but 'noir'?"

In the meantime I had risen from Alexandre's lap and faced the twins, who were looking at me enthusiastically from all sides. The cheeky brats even pulled on my 'tail'!

"This is a character from a French cartoon series. 'Chat Noir' or 'Cat Noir' is a boy, Adrien, who becomes a superhero in the costume of a black cat and together with his partner 'Ladybug' always saves Paris from a villain. Adrien aka 'Cat Noir' is really cute, and when I saw the corresponding sleeper in the store today, I immediately had to get it for Lio."

While my friend was explaining this, I hissed playfully at the twins, then grabbed one with each arm and managed to throw them on Alexandre's bed and tickle them mercilessly. They squirmed under my claw-armed cat paws and giggled loudly, but without really fighting back. A question arose in my mind, though, triggered by Alexandre's explanations, and I turned to my boyfriend.

"Alex, did you get Lia a sleeper too?"

"Well, sure, I promised I would."

"Well then, hopefully 'Ladybug!"

My friend laughed out.

"Yeah, after I pulled all my courage together! I hope your sister doesn't make me a head shorter for it!"

"Why would Lio's sister be mad about that?"

"Well, Eli, she's just not into girly things - and 'Ladybug' is very girly after all! Ladybug costume girly!"

"Hehe, okay, got it. It was nice knowing you, Alex."

"Don't make me even more nervous!"

Now we were all laughing, with Joël and Noël's laughter still mostly due to my tickle attack. While I let my tickling fingers wander over their bellies, I eventually came across the diapers worn under their sleepers. I stopped only briefly, but the twins noticed it anyway, and on their faces slight horror was noticeable. Now I couldn't allow that. I bent down to them and whispered in their ears.

"Everything's okay you two. I was a long time bed - wetter myself, I won't tell on you or laugh at you."

Relief spread across their identical faces, and I set in for one last tickle attack. Because of the diapers nothing could happen anyway, how practical! Hm. Practical. My new sleeper missed the practical back opening of my old onesie, making toilet trips quite a bit more awkward. Ha, maybe those things should be sold together with diapers! But I wouldn't say that out loud, because that would somehow betray the dwarfs.

After I had put the twins in their place by tickling them into submission, I let go of them and moved back to Alexandre. In the meantime, however, Alexandre had also stood up and turned to Elias.

"Eli, if you still want to pat me down, you could do it now."

"Oh, yeah, good idea, I have to go to the bathroom anyway, the tea from dinner wants to come out."

"Um, remember, you're not allowed to put much weight on your injured foot."

"I have the cane, Lio."

"Yeah, you do, but I thought you were going to use both hands to feel up Alex."

"Hmm, yes, that's right. How can we do that? "

But I already had a solution.

"Look, you stand, I'll hold you from behind, that way you can mostly stand on your healthy foot and still have both hands free to pat down Alex."

"Hehe, sounds good! Shall we, Alex?"

My boy friend grinned, then headed for the couch. A little while later, he had helped Elias up and was supporting him on his way to the middle of the room, where I then stood behind Eli and put my hands on his hips.

"I hope you're not ticklish!"

"Haha, we'll see about that! Better keep your hands still though, or I might not need the bathroom after all, just some dry clothes."

"I'll try, but my fingers may still be in tickle mode because of the twins."

"No way!"

I decided not to take that risk and grabbed him a little tighter, if only to give Elias a sense of steadiness. The latter now began to pat down Alexandre from the head down. He ran his hands over my boy friend's arms, then over his chest, down his torso, but then moved his wandering hands to the side s, thus sparing a somewhat more intimate zone. Good boy!

Joël and Noël followed the action with great interest, they had probably not experienced anything like this before, just like me.

"Why is Elias groping Alexandre, Lio?"

I looked briefly at the questioning twin and deciphered his name necklace.

"Eli wanted to see what a great pajama your big cousin is wearing, and because he's blind, he's looking at it with his hands, Noël."

"Oh! You can really do that, Elias?"

"Yes, that's what I've learned. After all, what my eyes can't do, I have to manage in some other way. On the street, Branko's eyes are substitutes for my own, but he couldn't project into my brain what Alex looks like. The dog is smart, but not that smart."

The dwarfs chuckled, while Elias was now finished with the upper body. Alexandre looked around briefly, then turned to Eli.

"I'll be right back, don't run."

Elias shrugged his shoulders, Alex on the other hand went into a corner of the room and brought up the wooden backless stool that was standing around there. This he now placed in front of Elias, then climbed onto it. Good idea!

"Eli, Alex is now standing on a stool, so you can feel his legs too."

"Ah, cool, thanks!"

Elias let his hands wander down my friend's legs. He had to bend over a bit for his feet, but I continued to hold him securely, making sure he didn't put any weight on his injured foot after all.

"Wow, actually, complete with foot part on it! Can you lift that foot, Alex?"

"Um... Okay... But please don't throw me off balance, if I crash off the stool Lio and the dwarfs will have to take care of two invalids!"

Said dwarfs immediately jumped at it.

"Nooooo! We're holding you, Alexandre!"

And already they were standing on either side of their cousin, supporting him with all their strength. Hopefully they were really identically strong, if one was stronger than the other he could push Alex off the stool!

Alexandre, however, seemed to trust them and carefully lifted his foot, on which he continued to feel the fingers of Elias. Those now wandered over the soles of the feet, which flustered his victim a bit.

"Oh man, don't tickle me please, otherwise I'll really fall down!"

"Hehe, I'm done already! Rubberized soles, good, that way you do not slip easily."

"Yes, they really thought of everything. Can I put my foot down again?"

"Yes, thank you. And then turn 180 degrees, please."

Alex shrugged his shoulders, and after he had both legs on solid ground or solid stool seat again, he carefully performed the desired rotation. Elias now felt him up from behind, his hands wandering up my friend's legs until they came to rest on his shapely rear end. And then...

"OUCH! Menno, don't pinch!"

Elias laughed out loud.

"Sorry, I couldn't help it. I need to know what your boy friend is up for, don't I?"

"Whoa, naughty! Are you done now? I ' ll not offer my front again, who knows what else you would try to find out!"

"Hehe, okay, I can imagine you and your pajamas now, Alex."


Alexandre jumped off the stool and grabbed it.

"Then I can put the stool away again, not that someone will end up falling over it."

Elias did not agree with that, however.

"Wait a minute! I'd like to see 'Cat Noir' as well. if that's okay with you, Lio."

Um... It was certainly a weird feeling to have someone patting you down from top to bottom, a stranger at that, which Elias actually still was for me, although he had already become a friend in the few hours we knew each other now. I looked questioningly at Alexandre, who shrugged his shoulders briefly, then gave me an encouraging nod. Okay, so be it.

"I'm in."

"Hehe, good, I couldn't touch you very well without you."

Hehe, most likely!

"Okay, if Alex will hold you, I'll climb up on the stool for now."

"Sounds good, thanks."

And so it happened that moments later I was standing on the stool and Elias was feeling me up from the waist down.

"Hmm, your sleeper is tighter than Alex's."

"Well, I guess it's cut after the superhero costume from 'Cat Noir', and that's skin tight."

"Ah yes, that explains it. C an you turn around, please?"

I did what Eli wanted me to do, and after making sure the twins were now holding me from both sides, I also lifted my right foot, and I could feel Eli's fingers on the sole.

"Oh, thanks. Hmm. The non-slip rubber feels weird. Weird shape?"

My friend laughed.

"That's right, they're shaped like the pads of cat paws."

"Ah, yes, that's about right, Branko's little paws feel like that too."

I laughed out.

"Branko's little paws? Are you sure about them being little?"

"Ha, yeah, I probably shouldn't let Branko hear that. Okay, you can put your paw down again."


Eli's hands went back up my legs, and in time Alexandre gave him a warning.

"But don't pinch!"

"Not? Spoilsport. By the way, is that the tail dangling in my face?"

"Yes, it is. Don't pull too hard on it or the Velcro will give way."

"Okay, I'll tr y."

I felt the back of my overalls being pulled gently.

"Heh, what are you looking at under my boy friend's tail?"

Elias chuckled.

"Sorry, I need some space, and the tail is getting in the way a little right now."

"You need some space? W hat for? I thought I warned you not to pinch Lio's butt!"

"Yeah, yeah, it's okay, I'm not planning on doing that, I'm not going to disregard your warning after all."

"Well then, that's fine."

But then, what did Elias need space for...?


The blind teen had actually given me two medium-strength slaps on my buttocks!

"What are you doing to Lio?"

"Um... I didn't pinch him!"

I snorted.

"When he's right, he's right, Alex. You didn't forbid him slapping my butt, we'll talk about that later, your protection leaves a lot to be desired."

"Hmph! Pinch ing me, slap ping you, what a violent guy we've dragged into the house."

But Alex also chuckled softly while the twins held their bellies instead of keeping me from falling off the stool. I should probably jump off it, cats may have seven lives, but I most likely didn't.

"Watch out, I'm going to jump off."

Since the butt-slapper was behind me, I was able to jump off forward without a problem, while Alexandre turned to the twins.

"Dwarfs, take that stool back over there in the corner, please."

Perhaps it was an exaggeration that they were now lifting the wooden stool together and carrying it away, but that was probably another twin thing.

I turned and posed again in front of the blind guest, this time with both feet firmly on the ground.

"All right, ring clear for round two."

Elias laughed and rubbed his hands in anticipation, which shortly after moved from the waist up my body.

"Haha, no tickling!"

"Oh man, you guys really take all the fun out of it! Don't tickle, don't pinch, don't slap the butt, don't pull the tail! What am I even allowed to do anymore?"

"Bad boy! Pat down my boyfriend gently and demurely. With the emphasis on demure ly!"

"Well let's see if I can manage that. Luckily your boyfriend is your boyfriend and not your girlfriend, I'd have an even harder time with a girl."

That was a really bad boy! 10 naughty fingers had now arrived at my shoulders and were going after my right arm until they reached my own fingers.

"Ah, so these are the gloves you mentioned. With claws, really cool!"

"Unfortunately, without real claws."

My boy friend cringed.

"Why unfortunately, Lio! Would you like to scratch me for real?"

"That, mon Alexandre, depends entirely on how you treat me."

"Hrhr, your boy friend seems to know how to handle you, Alex."


Meanwhile, Eli's hands had moved back up my arm and were now running over my shoulders up the back of my head.

"Indeed, cat ears. Can you feel it when I scratch you on them, Lio?"

Sighing, I shook my head.

"Unfortunately not, otherwise that would be a way for Alex to ingratiate himself with me."

"Hehe, well, I'm sure he'll find another way or two to do it."

That sounded... interesting.

"Okay, so Alexandre's sleeper was cool, but this thing is really awesome! Say, Lio, can I scan your face too? So I can get a picture not only of your sleeper but of you as well? And before you ask, I was already allowed to do that with Alex some time ago."

Well if that was the case, then that was good enough for me, too.

"Okay. I still have the cat mask in front of my eyes, do you want me to take it off?"

"Oh? No, let me feel that first."

So I left the mask where it was for now and held still as Elias now went under the hood and felt my head.

"Straight hair. What color?"


"Cool, just like Alex, but certainly rather low maintenance compared to his curly head."

"Thanks, but my curly head is low maintenance too, as long as grandma doesn't ruffle up my hair."

Hmm, I could do that, too, hehe. Eli's fingers meanwhile wandered gently over my face.

"Cute. Can you take the mask off now?"

"Yes, take your hands away for a moment."

Elias did as I asked, and I slid the mask up into the hood, where it was again held in place by a small Velcro strap.

"There, mask is gone, you can move on."

The blind boy's fingers were now feeling up my uncovered face, he really seemed to have practice at this, his fingertips were running very gently over my skin and my eyes were in no danger at any time either.

"Hmm, little snub nose, I'm beginning to understand why Alex has a crush on you."

He was just beginning to understand? Should I take that as a compliment or rather not?

Eli's hands now once again wandered further back, and now he tickled ears that were actually receptive to such touches!


"Hehe, Alex, remember that, the real ears of your kitty boy are sensitive! And he seems to like it when someone pets them!"

"Ha, thanks for pointing that out, but I think that's enough for now. After all, they are MY kitty boy's ears! Go find your own!"

"Oh well. But thanks so much for playing along, Lio. Not many have allowed me to do that yet."

I grinned cheekily at him, and because he couldn't see that, I followed up verbally.

"That's okay, you're welcome. And I've been undressing you with my eyes in the meantime."


Hehe, I had probably thrown him off a bit there.

"Well you showered with Alex, it's not fair that only he saw you in all glory."

"Well great, and I'm called a naughty boy here. I don't know what I did to deserve that."

"Playing around with your bare hands, Eli. Lucky for you, you only have two of them."

Haha, yeah. What did the bashful octopus girl say to the pushy octopus boy? 'Get your hand off of there! And that one, too! And that one! And them! And that one, too!'

"Well, you either have the touch or you don't."

I made my way to the armchair, where I settled down again, and Alex began to carefully lead Elias to his couch, supporting him to relief his sick foot. Elias, however, stopped him.

"Will you please take me to the bathroom, Alex, I need to get rid of some fluids. After that, you can take me back to the couch."

However, there was someone who didn't agree with that.

"Don't you want to see us too, Elias?"

Alex and Elias stopped while twin two hissed at twin one.

"Joël, don't..."

"Why not, Noël?"

"You know!"

Noël patted his brother's diaper-wrapped rear end.

"Oh, yeah, crap. Sorry, Elias, you can't do that."

The addressed, however, shocked the two identical dwarfs.

"If you're afraid I'll notice your bed-wetting and wearing diapers: I already know that."

"Merde! Comment savez-vous?"

"Um... Excuse me?"

"Eli, forget the first part please, in the second part Joël wanted to know how you knew. And just so you're in the picture, the two knuckle heads are looking extremely scared out of their sleepers right now."


Elias turned in the direction from which he had heard the twins' voices.

"You two know why I patted down Alexandre and Lio, right?"

"Yeah sure, you can't see, and that way you still know what they look like."

"Exactly. I'm really good at feeling and recognizing things with my fingers, certainly much better than most who can see. After all, I have to compensate for my lack of vision. And it's the same with my hearing, I hear really very well, almost as well as Branko! Well, and earlier I heard Lio whispering to you that he himself was a long time bed-wetter and wouldn't laugh at you."


"Don't worry, I promise I won't laugh at you either. But if you still don't want me to pat you down, I understand that too."

The twins looked at each other briefly, then nodded encouragingly.

"Okay, you can look at us too."

"All right, thank you very much. But first, I really need to go to the bathroom. I don't have a diaper under my pajamas!"

Noël and Joël laughed up, Elias had apparently taken away their fear and shame. That's what I wanted him to do!

Elias now took his cane, then Alexandre led him into the bathroom. The twins, on the other hand, jumped on me, and already they were half on top of me, one on the left, one on the right.

"Did you have to wear diapers too, Lio?"

A glance at the necklace told me the name of the dwarf who asked me.

"Yes, Noël. I preferred them to a wet bed, which I would have had almost every night otherwise. Don't you feel the same? "

"Yeah, we do, but it's still embarrassing. Sometimes friends laugh at us because of it.", the other dwarf added.

"Well, Joël, if they really make fun of you, then they're not really friends, are they?"

Now the twin's brains were visibly at work.

"Have you been laughed at too?"

"I only got caught once, and I was terribly afraid that the friend who caught me would laugh at me or even tell on me. But he didn't, he just pulled his pajama pants down a bit so I could see his own diaper underneath."

"What, your friend too?"

"Hehe, yeah, him too. And he only noticed mine because he knew what a diapered butt looks like."

"How long were you a bed - wetter, Lio?"

"Until I was ten, it happened to me a lot. Then when I was eleven it became less, and then when I was twelve I was completely dry and could forget about diapers."

"Oh, cool, Joël and I are already ten, then it will surely stop with us soon, too!"

I would have thought that now I would find out which of the two was the 'real' bed-wetter, but fiddlesticks! The concealment tactic (or was that in this case, a conning tactic?) had probably become so much of a second nature to them that it didn't even slip out by accident.

"Quite possibly. In my case, the doctor said that I would grow out of it all by itself over time - and that's exactly what happened."

"That's what our doctor said, too! Great!"

At that moment the owner of the room came back from his trip to the bathroom.

"Well, that was quick."

"Hehe, no it wasn't. But Elias said he'll find his way back on his own when he is ready."

Hm, he was probably good at memorizing local features quickly.

"I see the annoying dwarfs are all over you?"

Before the two indignant identicals could reply I was already responding to this attack.

"I don't find them annoying. More like cute."

I pushed and tugged a little on Joël and Noël until they were each sitting on one of my legs, then I put my arms around them and pulled them to me, which they took as an invitation to snuggle up to me.

"If you say so, but you still can't take them home."

"I can't? Crap!"

"Maybe if you take Michelle, too."

"Forget it! We'd have to talk about quadruplets at least for that."

I would really miss the two n ains though. Sigh. And Alexandre even more so. Better not to think about this topic any further for now.

Alex went to the window and looked out.

"It's still snowing."

"Very much?"

"Very much, Lio. But the weather prophet has announced that it should slowly stop during the second half of the night."

"Oh, too bad!"

Now that wasn't coming from me, but from my two lap rats.

"That's good, not bad, you'd better be glad about it. Santa couldn't find you at all in this snowstorm, and you wouldn't be able to romp around outside with Micco either."

"Oh yeah, that would suck!"

"Then it is enough snow for now!"

I guess it really would be better that way. There was already so much snow that I didn't know how or when I would be able to get back to my own family. Maybe Lia's sweetheart could start a snowmobile shuttle service?

"Yeah, that's what I thought. There's enough snow already for you guys to start shoveling first thing in the morning when it gets light. It's wake-up at seven, then breakfast, and then you'll swing the snow shovels at least until noon."

"Noooooo! That's way too hard for us! Only old people can do that. Old people like... like you, Alex!"

Hehe, Noël had just about gotten his act together and not included me in the 'old people' designation. Lucky boy!

"Old? I'm not old at all! Elias is old!"

"What am I? Old?"

The blind teenager had found his way back at just the right moment.

"Well, of course you're old, Eli. After all, you'll be sixteen in just a few days, and I won't be until May."

"Hmph! I guess I'd better rest my old bones again, then, and you can pat down the twins for me."

"Hehe, if that would work, I'd love to. But I guess you'll have to do it yourself."

"Hmm, yeah, bummer. All right. Well, here we go then. How do we do this now?"

I pushed the dwarfs off my lap, then stood up and walked to the center of the room.

"I'll hold you again, and Alex can keep the twins under control."

"Okay, whatever you say. Ready to go."

Joël and Noël lined up next to each other, and I led Elias to them and placed him in front of them.

"Okay, Noël is right in front of you, Eli."

"Cool, thanks, Lio."

I had actually meant the 'Alex can keep the twins under control' thing more in jest, but apparently it was really necessary, since the dwarfs were pushing each other and disagreeing about who should be patted down first. Of course, this didn't make the whole action any easier for Elias, and after a while Alexandre had enough of their games.

"Now that's enough, Elias can't even look at you properly! Noël, stand still!"

Twin number one took a stance.

"Joël, can you do handstands?"

"Sure, it's easy!"

"Well we'll see that in a minute. Off to the handstand with you, right next to your brother. I'll make sure you don't fall down."

Joël chuckled, then took a few steps back, only to actually get into a handstand skillfully a moment later. My boy friend must have recognized my surprise from the look on my face, because grinning, he enlightened me as he helped Joël take two 'hand steps' forward until he was standing right next to his twin again.

"Those two are gymnasts, I guess for them a handstand is really easy."

A nd Joël had no trouble to prove it. The whole procedure had the advantage that to scan the lower half of the body this time no stool was required. However, since the handstand could certainly not be held forever, I led Eli a step to the side so that he could first get a grip on the dwarf standing upside down in front of him. Of course, the dwarf showed him his backside, which Eli also felt carefully before his hands wandered up Joël's legs until he could tickle the dwarf on the soles of his feet. Luckily Alex held the now giggling twin tightly, otherwise this would probably have been the end of the handstand.

"Nooooo tickling!"

"Hehe, alright!"

Elias gave Joël another pat on the diapered butt, then turned his attention back to the other twin. While Alexandre helped the hand-stand boy get back into the right position, Eli was running his hands through Noël's hair, feeling his ears and face.

"No hood. And two more curly heads, I can feel the family resemblance."

The curly-headed older cousin nodded.

"True. Both of their hair is brown, though, not blond."

"Okay, thanks, that would have been my next question."

Eli's hands wandered down Noël's arms, discovering another difference to my sleeper.

"No gloves, either."

"Yes, Lio's model is really extraordinary. The sleepers of the twins and me are quite normal, just with foot parts on them. No gloves, no hoods, no masks and tails."

Elias nodded, then his hands wandered back up the arms to the twin's shoulders, and from there down the torso until they also arrived at Noël's diaper area, which also got a pat from the older boy.

"That zipper is nice and long, but somehow I think those two little ones have the right idea."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, Alex, you and Lio better wear diapers under yours too, they'd sure be more practical than going to the bathroom, especially in a hurry!"

The two dwarfs jumped up and down enthusiastically.

"Oh yes, you have to do that too!"

"Who has to do what too?"

"Dad, look, Alexandre and Lio have footed pajamas too! And they should put on diapers too, because otherwise they can't go to the bathroom!"

The twins' father looked in surprise at his sons, then at Alexandre and me, his eyes lingering on me the longest. Slowly, understanding and a big grin spread across his face.

"Joël, you're right! But I'm afraid it's not going to happen anytime soon, your diapers are unlikely to fit the big boys."

Thank goodness! And fortunately, the topic was quickly pushed to the background by the appearance of the two dogs. Micco and Branko immediately jumped on the dwarfs, who forgot everything else and rolled around on the carpet with the canines moments later.

Meanwhile, Alexandre's grandmother had also entered the room.

"Well, boys, I see you're all ready for the night."

"It's not quite that late, Grandma."

"Sure, Alexander, but I think we should at least turn the couch into a bed for Elias. You don't have to go to sleep right then. By the way, the dogs have already been out, so they can stay with you now."

"O h..."

"... yes!"

So at least the dwarfs would not object to that. It would be interesting to see where the two dogs would spend the night.

"Alex, take Elias to the other chair, please. Jacques, will you help me with the couch, please?"

"Grandma, don't forget the bedding, you'll have to get that out of the bed box before you transform the couch."

And so it happened that I could pursue one of my favorite pastimes: watching others at work! However, I didn't have a really long rest, because suddenly my cell phone, which was lying on the coffee table, announced itself. Sighing I reached for it - an email from my parents had come in. The question was if I would be able to operate the Smartphone, with my fingers covered by the clawed gloves? Well, no better way to find out than actually trying it.

And indeed, the touchscreen reacted to my fingers, and the face recognition had no problems with my hood. Well, maybe it would look different with the mask in place. I curiously eyed the fingertips of my gloves and only now discovered that they were made of a slightly different fabric, which was probably responsible for the usability of the touchscreen. Someone had really thought of everything!

Anyway, I was able to call up the parental email without any problems. Hm. Mom and Dad thanked me for my detailed answer and wanted to hold a FaceTime conference with Lia and me tomorrow around 11am. Would I be with Auntie again by then? Remembering the amount of snow on the streets I was anything but sure about that. But well, it was called a conference because several people from different places could participate. The only thing left to hope for was that the power and the Internet would stay with us, not that the WiFi cable would end up being crushed by a cheeky snowflake! Then I had another idea! I looked up from the display and my eyes wandered to my boy friend, who had apparently finished his work and was now just watching his grandma sort and install the bedding.



"Can you take a picture of me with my phone? I want to send it to my parents."

My friend grinned and nodded.

"Sure, you want to scare them?"

"Hehe, I don't think anything can scare them anymore. They know my old onesie anyway, and then they've even seen me in a skirt and tights."

"Ha, that's right. Well, get up and give me your toy."

I rose from the chair and handed Alex my iPhone.

"Okay, pose!"

Pose? Hmm, yeah, that would be good. I stood wide-legged, pulled my mask over my eyes, and raised my arms, complete with clawed hands, as if to launch an attack. I opened my mouth, showed my teeth and hissed as loud as I could. Well, what you could call hissing as a human.


Alex laughed out and almost forgot to press the shutter. Hopefully he didn't blur the shot! But that wouldn't matter, the days when you needed to send a film to the developing countries were long gone. Today, if a shot didn't work, you simply deleted it and made a new one. On the one hand that was very practical, on the other hand we owed to this simplicity millions of photos that should never have been taken and certainly should never have been shown around. Brave new world.

"Here, look, is this good?"

Alex held the display in front of my eyes and I looked at it closely. Not blurred at all. Every part of me from the tips of my cat ear s to the end of my tail was easy to see.

"Looks great, thanks."

"You're welcome."

I wanted to take the phone back, but Uncle Jacques had something else in mind.

"Alexandre, Lio, would you like me to take a picture of you together?"

Alex and I looked at each other, then wordlessly lined up next to each other. Alexandre put his right arm around me, we grinned into the smartphone camera, and the twin 's dad took the next photo. This one was also well done and I decided to send that to my parents as well. But if I thought that the photo session was over, then I was wrong, because by now the twins had noticed that photos were being taken here.

"Can Joël and I be in a picture too, Dad?"

Uncle Jacques looked to his offspring.

"You'll have to ask Lio, not me, it's his phone after all."

Almost puppy-worthy begging looks were directed at me, and of course I couldn't resist them.

"Well go on then, Noël get in front of me, Joël get in front of Alex."

Like racing dwarfs the twins shot up from the carpet and gathered in front of us. They leaned back against us, we put our hands on their shoulders, then their dad took the next photo. Now, however, it was me who wasn't quite satisfied yet.

"One more with Eli and the dogs, okay?"

The dwarfs were thrilled, but Elias had an objection.

"Sorry, guys, but for now I'm glad to be able to sit again, I'm not getting up just for a photo."

Considering his damaged hoof, that was probably best, but he still wouldn't get around the photo.

"Lio and I will stand behind your chair, the dwarfs will sit cross-legged in front of it, and the dogs will crowd in between as usual. That should work and not put any stress on your foot, right?"

"Ah, okay, if that works then I'm okay with that."

Of course it worked, and shortly thereafter Uncle Jacques directed the twins and the two tail-waggers so that they would all fit in the next picture.

"I'll have to have a word with your grandma, if she keeps cooking this well, after the holidays a photo like this would only be possible in panorama mode."

Hehe, yes, that could very well happen! Soon the shot was taken and we eyed it with interest. Five grinning boys looked at us from the display, and even the dogs looked like they were smiling at the camera.

"Wow, this looks really good. Eli, I hope you can see this in a few months, too."

"I hope so, too, Lio."

The twins' dad also seemed very pleased with the photo he had taken.

"Lio, would it be possible for you to send me the last two pictures? I promise you that I won't show them around much, definitely not outside the family."

I nodded.

"No problem, Uncle Jacques. If you give me your email addy, I'll do it in one go later when I send the pictures to my parents. And to my sister. Alex, I guess you'd like those too?"

My boy friend nodded happily.

"Yeah sure, but all of them, okay?"

"Okay. Eli, would you like me to send the one you are in to your parents?"

"Hmm, yeah, that would be nice. They're always happy to see me spending time with others."

"Well, give me all the email addresses I' ll need."

A few minutes later I was busy sending photos around the world. My parents would certainly be pleased that I had made such good friends here. Maybe that would calm their guilty conscience a little bit about spending Christmas without us. Though Lia and I had never really held it against them. Without the cruise win, we'd probably be sitting at home behind the window s right now, watching the raindrops fall.

Shortly after, I had sent emails to my parents, my sister, my aunt, Alexandre, Uncle François, Uncle Jacques, and Elias' parents.

"Okay, all sent, you should have mail."

"Thank you, Lio. Okay, thats all from me for today, sleep well everyone and have sweet dreams. Oh yes, and you older boys please make sure that Noël and Joël don't end up in their beds too late. Good night."

We promised to take care of the dwarfs, and then Alexandre's grandmother said goodnight as well. The two adults left the room, only to be immediately replaced by Alexandre's dad, his grandfather and the twins' mother. They didn't stay with us long, though, just wished us a good night as well and left as alone again.

Just as I was about to ask what we were going to do with the rest of the evening, my cell phone announced the arrival of a text message. Sometimes these things can really be annoying!

Sighing, I grabbed my iPhone and looked at the display. Of course, it was what I had expected after sending those pictures. Well, I'd better react right away, otherwise my annoying older sister would switch to call or even FaceTime, and I really didn't need that now.

-- Lia: is that you, little brother? cat noir?

-- Lio: of course, who else would look so cool?

-- Lia: you're not conceited at all. are these your new pajamas?

-- Lio: exactly that.

-- Lia: with feet on it! and alex has some, too, although his doesn't look as cute as yours.

-- Lio: alex, me, the twins - only poor elias has to survive with very ordinary pajamas.

-- Lia: of course, he's almost grown up, which is more than I can say for the rest of you.

-- Lio: that's probably true for you, too, little sister.

-- Lia: well i don't wear a baby pajama.

-- Lio: not yet...

-- Lia: not yet?

-- Lio: not yet!

-- Lia: what do you mean?

-- Lio: well, alex also got one of those footed sleepers for you.

-- Lia: uhoh... i already can see it in my mind. please tell me i'm wrong.

-- Lio: how am I supposed to tell you that you're wrong as long as i don't know what you are seeing in your mind?

-- Lia: hmpf! ladybug?

-- Lio: hrhr, bingo!

-- Lia: oh yuck.

-- Lio: why yuck, you're guaranteed to look extremely cute in it. girly cute, but cute nonetheless.

-- Lia: you used the g-word! cute might be okay, but girly? grrrrrr.

-- Lio: you'll survive - and then you'll love it, these things are really nice and warm.

-- Lia: menno! um... tell me... do you want to swap again? it worked great with the skirt!

-- Lio: forget it! wear it like a... i almost said man, lol... wear it like a strong girl!

-- Lia: sigh. ah what the heck. thanks for the pictures anyway! did you send them to mom and dad too?

-- Lio: of course. by the way, tomorrow at eleven facetime with the two of them, did you know that already?

-- Lia: yes, and i'm afraid you'll have to do it from alex's place.

-- Lio: hm, i was afraid of that, too. has a untie heard anything yet? about when i can join you again?

-- Lia: aunt paula thinks probably after lunch at the earliest. if the winter road service isn't already on christmas vacation.

-- Lio: well then, have fun decorating the tree, that will probably be up to you alone.

-- Lia: crap, i hadn't even thought of that. well, i'll survive. as long as a untie doesn't blast me with christmas folk music all the time.

-- Lio: you'll make it. okay, let's end this, good night and see you tomorrow. or do you have something else we should talk about right now?

-- Lia: nope, all done. tell alex thanks for your sleeper.

-- Lio: you mean for yours, right?

-- Lia: nope, for yours. not sure yet if i want you to thank him for mine, too, i have to do some serious thinking about it. anyway, sleep tight, little brother.

And with that, this duty was done and I could devote myself again to what was happening at my current location. Not much seemed to happen, the twins were playing with the dogs again, and Alexandre was talking quietly with Elias. I decided to use the quiet time and asked the two about life here in the mountains. What I got to hear sounded very good in my ears, I could get used to such a relatively stress, noise, and dirt-free life.

What I would also be able to get used to was the small refrigerator in the room of my boy friend! From this Alex dispensed chilled drinks, and from the cupboard above snacks.

So the time passed, and at some point we noticed that it had become very quiet around the twins. Which was probably because the dwarfs had actually fallen asleep half lying on the dogs.

"Alex, I think we should move Joël and Noël to their beds, in the long run the floor is not so comfortable."

"Hmm, right. I'm sorry to have to wake them up, but I'd rather do it now while they are not in a deep sleep yet."

That sounded reasonable, so we got up and went to the sleep ing dwarfs. Alex leaned down to one of the two and stroked his head.

"Noël, wake up, time to go to bed."

Wake up to go to bed, sounded a bit funny, hehe.

"Que ce passe-t-il?"

"Late it is, we'll put you and your brother to bed. Come on, get up."

Yawning, Noël started to work his way up, so I turned to the other twin and woke him up as gently as I could. I seemed to be able to do this better than Alexandre, because Joël refrained from addressing me in his native language. Shortly after, both ten-year-olds stood upright, but at least Noël was not ready to go to the room he shared with his brother on his own feet. He stood in front of his cousin and looked at him challengingly.

"Will you carry me over?"

"You're too heavy!"

"I'm not heavy, I'm still little!"

I never thought I'd see That day! A ten year old who described himself as 'still little'!

"Or are you too weak?"

Of course Alex couldn't let that stand, he spread his arms and in the next moment Noël jumped into them. He wrapped his own arms around his cousin's neck.

"Giddy up, horsey!"

"Now if you think I'm going to whinny, you can forget about it. Lio, will you bring the other half of the pair?"

"Will do."

I looked at Joël, who was now also grinning challengingly at me. Just you wait! I rushed up to him, and instead of taking him in my arms like Alex had done with his brother, I bent down slightly and grabbed him so I could put him over my right shoulder, diaper ed butt sticking up in the air.

"There, now hold nice and still and don't fidget around or you'll fall down."

My shoulder dwarf chuckled softly, but otherwise held still.

"Eli, will you please hold the fort while we put the dwarfs in th eir beds? It'll take a few minutes, we'll detour to the bathroom to brush our teeth."

"Sure, no problem. Are you taking the dogs with you? I think they'll want to sleep with the little ones."

"Good idea. Micco, Branko, come with me."

The quadrupeds seemed to have understood every word, they promptly got up from the carpet and followed us, first into the bathroom, where we made sure that the twins thoroughly cleaned their little chompers once again, then into the guest room, where the four of them would sleep.

In this room was a large double bed, in which Alex and I unloaded the dwarfs. We tucked them in, both got another goodnight kiss on the forehead from each of us, then wished them sweet dreams and left. As we stepped out of the room, we looked back again and saw that each twin had a dog on his side of the bed and was petting it behind its ears.

Alexandre closed the door to the room, and with a detour to the bathroom, where we also brushed our teeth again, we went back to my boy friend's room.

"We're back, Eli."

"Good, did Branko stay with the little ones?"

"Yes, when we left the room each of the twins had a dog to pet at their side of the bed."

"Very nice. Alex, I need to go to the bathroom again, too, to pee and brush my teeth. Would you come with me again for the tooth brushing stuff?"

"No problem, shall we do it now?"

"Yes, please, before I fall asleep too."

Hehe, I could relate to that, I was also plenty tired by now. No wonder after such a day with lots of time in deep snow!

Ten minutes later Elias was lying on his couch, and I was lying together with my boyfriend in his rather wide bed (after I had removed the cat-noir tail). Alexandre yawned loudly.

"Well... yawn... I've really had enough for today. Good night, Eli. If you need any help during the night, please wake me up, if I don't react to calling me, my bed is only five steps away from your couch. Just get up and walk straight ahead and you'll find me."

"Okay, thanks, but I hope that won't be necessary. Good night, Alex, Lio."

After wishing each other sweet dreams, Alex turned off the last light in the form of his bedside lamp, then turned to me and our lips found each other for a brief but intense goodnight kiss. After that, we snuggled up to each other, and a little while later, we had all entered the realm of dreams.

I woke up with the pleasant feeling of lying in my boyfriend's arms snuggled close to him in bed. Though... if Alexandre was behind me, why was there someone else snuggled up against my front? And who was that? Cautiously I opened my eyes. The dawn that was breaking made sure I was able to see a little bit already. As expected, Alex had put an arm around me possessively, but I had not expected the little brown - hair ed head in front of me! Clearly one of the twins, but what was he doing here, after all the two dwarfs had their own room with their own bed? Suddenly, someone gently blew my hair from behind, and Alex whispered into my ear.

"The other dwarf is behind me, Lio. And be careful with your feet, Micco is in the bed, too. "

Oh man, Alex's bed was big, but now there were four boys plus a large dog in it!

"Try to get some more sleep, it's still too early to get up."

Hmm, that actually sounded pretty good. I put an arm over the twin in front of me, which didn't provoke any reaction though, and a little later I dozed off again.

When I woke up the next time, it was already day light, and it was the clattering of the room door that had woken me from my sleep. Shortly thereafter followed by a camera click. And that in turn followed by the voice of my boy friend's producer.

"What a beautiful, peaceful picture. Fits so right for Christmas. But still, you guys should find your wayout of bed, breakfast is in fifteen minutes."

I squeezed my eyes open, and there was also stirring in the bed in front of and behind me.

"Faut-il vraiment se lever, oncle François?"

"Yes, you really need to get up now, after all, you still have to shovel away all the snow in front of the house so Santa can visit you."

"Don't scare the dwarfs like that, Dad. Don't worry, Santa will find you for sure. He's got a new rod, and he'll have to try it out on your rear ends."

"Noooo! Alex, we've always been good!"

"You? Good? I bet you can't even spell that!"

"Sure we can! Noël, tell Alex!"

"G U D T!"


I snorted, and Alex and his dad were also having lots of fun.

"Well then, stay that nice and gudt and get up. Quickly through the bathroom with you and then come down to the kitchen. Elias, I'll take a look at your foot first."

The twin in front of me still made no move to get out of bed, so I lifted the covers and tickled the dwarf who was lying there that handy. Faster than Micco could woof the little boy jumped out of bed! if only it was always that easy...

I rolled out of bed too and looked back at Alexandre, who was still blocked by 'his' twin.

"Just tickle him, Alex, guaranteed to work."

"Ah, good idea, thanks, Lio."

It worked so well that the twin already hopped out of bed before my friend could even start the tickle attack. Slightly disappointed, Alexandre now also got out of bed, in which now only a lazy quadruped lay and looked at what the bipeds were up to. Hm, one dog, where was the other one? I looked over at the couch and had to grin. If Elias wanted to get up, he would have a problem. A 35-kilo problem I would say, because his dog was all over him.

"Come on, you big goof, get off me."

Branko, however, made no effort to follow this command.

"Now come on, get up, Branko!"

If a dog could sigh, he would probably do so now, but as it was, Branko only licked his master's face for a moment, then jumped off the couch.


"Let's go then, you four, through the bathroom with you. You don't need to change yet, your pajamas will be good enough for the breakfast table. I'll bring the dogs down with me. Off you go!"

Such a haste on Christmas morning. But well, breakfast was a good idea, so we left the room and headed for the bathroom. The twins were lucky, they only needed to wash their hands and faces briefly, Alex and I on the other hand needed a stop at the ceramic throne. Fortunately, the zipper on my sleeper was long enough and a double-sided one at that, so the matter didn't get too complicated. Then, as the dwarfs dashed off toward the breakfast table, Alex had to peel himself almost completelyout of his onesie.

"I'm going back to your room, I forgot my cat-noir tail."

"Okay, Lio, will you wait for me the re? I'll pick you up then?"

"Can do. See you in a bit."

I went back to my boy friend's room, where I arrived just in time to witness Elias' first attempts at standing up.

"How is it, Elias? Lots of pain?"

The blind teenager carefully stepped up with his wounded foot, but apparently this was done more or less without pain, because soon a big grin spread across his face.

"No, I feel almost nothing, Uncle François."

"Hmm, so you do feel the foot, though, don't you? Just no pain?"

"Yes, just that."

"Very well, then I'd say we'll leave the bandage on for a little while longer and you continue to take it easy on the foot today."

"But I don't have to sit on that funny table again, do I?"

"Hehe, no, but you should keep using the cane."

"Okay, I'll do that, thanks again for the good treatment, doctor."

"You're welcome. Oh, Lio, what are you doing back here?"

"Alex needs a little more time in the bathroom, so I thought I'd wait for him here. I still have to attach my tail to the sleeper anyway."

"Ah well, you do that then. Elias, I'll take you downstairs in the elevator, there you can freshen up in the downstairs bathroom and use the toilet if necessary. After Alexandre, you really don't want to use HIS bathroom."

Alexandre's father demonstratively squeezed his nose.

Good to know! I would definitely save that information on my brain's hard drive. Elias laughed out loud.

"Ha, I'll keep that in mind. Alright, I'm ready, Uncle François."

While I now pinned my cat tail back to the rear of my sleeper, Alexandre's father led Elias out of the room. Eli was also using the cane, but he was moving much faster and better than the day before. Presumably, the quick intervention had helped to fight his sprain and lessen the consequences.

Since I was still waiting for Alexandre, I went to one of the windows and looked out. The weather forecasters had been right, it was no longer snowing, but what had come down since yesterday was more than enough. Since my boy friend's room mostly faced the back of the house, I couldn't see much about what the road conditions were like, but they couldn't really be too good.

"I'm ready, we can go down, Lio."

I turned around and there was my boyfriend standing in the doorway of the room. Of course, we couldn't start the day without a morning kiss, but it was a bit on the short side, since neither of us had brushed our teeth yet. Would have been somehow counterproductive right before breakfast.

We wandered down the stairs and entered the kitchen, where the table was already covered with lots of yummy looking stuff and all the other residents were gathered, with the exception of the sister of the twins. After an all-around good morning wishing, Alex and I took our places and the big feast began.

The first topic of conversation was the previous night, and the hosts were pleased to hear that everyone had slept well. Well, in the arms of my boy friend that had been guaranteed at least for me! Then we got to talking about the weather, and I asked the question of all questions.

"What do the roads look like, when can I go back to my aunt? I'm sure she's already worried."

Alexandre's grandmother shook her head.

"She isn't, I spoke to her briefly on the phone earlier. You'll stay here until after lunch, by then the road service should have removed the biggest obstacles and she'll come pick you up. Elias, the same goes for you, your father will come to get you around 2pm."

That sounded pretty good to me. I mean, as much as I enjoyed spending time with Alex, a Christmas Eve without my own family wouldn't be that nice. Even if parts of the family were totallyout of reach, I didn't want to miss out on Lia and Aunt Paula.

"After breakfast, you'll all make your way through the bathroom one by one. Your clothes from yesterday are cleaned and are in the downstairs bathroom on the washing machine. And Lio, don't forget that you have a FaceTime appointment at eleven. You best do it on Alexander's computer, it's certainly nicer on the big screen than on the small smartphone display."

I nodded in agreement, then turned back to breakfast.

"Alex, you make your way through the bathroom first, please, then take the dogs out. Not far, just around the house, but they need to go about their business too."

"Will do, Dad."

Twenty minutes and a lot of chit-chat later, everyone was fed, and we young folks headed back upstairs.

We spent the next hour or so getting ready for the day. Fortunately, there were two bathrooms in the house, and the twins' sister still didn't make an appearance. She was dearly missed. Not!

At some point, we had all made our way back to Alexandre's room, and the dogs had also had a bit of a romp in the snow and were dozing peacefully, with the twins by their side, of course. By the way, twins.

"Hey dwarfs, why were you suddenly in bed with Alex and me this morning?"

"Because of Branko!"

What did Eli's dog have to do with it? The wounded teenager, however, already seemed to know more than I did.

"My fault, my dog probably wanted to come to me in the middle of the night and woke up the twins. They came over together with both dogs and probably couldn't find their way back to their own room without a guide dog. "

Alex grinned and turned to the young boys.

"Ah yes, and you figured there was plenty of room in the bed for Lio and me and two dwarfs and a giant dog, right?"

The twins chuckled softly and nodded.

"It was nice and warm, too! Noël and I aren't that big yet, after all."

"Hehe, you guys aren't, but Micco is!"


"Yeah, that's you we're talking about! I had to tighten my legs big time."

"Woof woof!"

"I give up. That dog does what he wants anyway, as long as you don't give him direct orders."

I grinned at my boy friend.

"It's just Micco being a rescue dog, he warms the feet of his protect ee s in the winter."

"Hehe, looks like it. Um... Eli? What's that weird face about, did something happen? Is your foot hurting again, do you need help?"

Indeed, Elias made a kind of... pensive face. And now he was sighing, too.

"Hm... When I came out of the bathroom earlier, I must have run into that Michelle girl."

Ouch, the poor guy didn't deserve that!

"Anyway, all of a sudden there was a girl's voice saying something like 'Oh man, he's a tights fag too.'"

Oh yeah, that sounded a lot like the twins' big sister.

"She didn't say anything else?"

"Yes. She mumbled something like, 'Are all the boys in this house gay now or what,' and that was it. I guess I was too stunned to even get out an answer."

"It wouldn't have been worth it anyway, Eli, our sister is just plain stuuuuuupid!"

Only ten years old and already that smart!

Alexandre was probably ready to agree.

"Just don't bother with the bitch, she's not worth worrying about. Unless you have a crush on her!"

Elias raised his hands defensively.

"Thanks, but no thanks! Her voice sounds quite pleasant, but what she's saying is rather off-putting."

Well, Michelle, you were sussed, and by someone who couldn't even see you (yet). With that the topic was fortunately closed, more words she really wasn't worThat all. Alex pointed out the next important topic to me.

"Don't forget to talk to your parents, Lio."

I checked the time, there was still half an hour left.

"I won't. Is it okay for me to use your computer?"

"Sure. And the rest of us will clear out so you can be undisturbed."

I really didn't want to chase my boy friend out of his own room, but this was going to be a conversation I preferred to have without an audience.

"Okay, thanks."

"What do your parents want to talk to you about? "

I turned to Elias, who was 'looking' at me with honest interest. Hmm. I decided not to hold his curiosity against him.

"Well, since Lia and I have been outsourced to our aunt, there have been some developments that might have surprised our parents a bit."

"What do you mean?"

Before I could answer, Alexandre chuckled softly before taking over the explanation.

"Lio in a skirt. Lio in tights. Lio in a footed sleeper. Lio in love."

Hmm, my boy friend would probably never be a politician! To work through a topic so briefly and succinctly, that was so totally un-politicianly! The recipient of the statements, however, laughed.

"Hehe, yeah, I guess that should provide for enough conversation."

"I'm afraid so, too. Well, let's see what the old folks have to say."

Alex pulled me close and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

"Won't be so bad."

"You're right, what could happen? They'll just buy me skirts and tights. Diapers for underneath the sleeper, too. And because I've fallen in love with you I'll be put in a chastity belt. Really, not so bad."

Alex and Elias laughed, really! And curiosity was piqued in the twins.

"What's a chastity belt, Lio?"

"It's something boys get put in so they don't do dirty things with their girlfriends or boyfriends, Joël."

"Dirty thin... Oh! Sex!"

Like I said, only ten years old. Early bloomers.

"Oh nonsense, Lio, it won't be that bad. Hey, it's Christmas! Who knows, maybe there'll be a Christmas miracle for you. Or at least a proper Christmas present."

"Your word in God's ear, Alex."

"Come on, I'll get the computer ready for you, then I'll take everyone else down to the living room."

And so I found myself all alone in Alexandre's room in front of the computer a few minutes later. Soon it was time, on the big screen appeared in different windows Lia and then our parents, too.

After a short greeting, Dad took over.

"Okay you two, apparently you have experienced much more at Aunt Paula's than your mother and I had expected."

"Well, Dad, you sent Lio and me here without adequately preparing us. It's much colder here and has a lot more snow than we thought it would."

Mom laughed out loud.

"Yeah, I guess we'll have to take credit for that! Though I didn't think it could get SO cold anywhere in the world that my teenagers would wear long johns and even footed tights! No matter how much they would freeze."

I stuck my tongue out at the webcam, and Lia also looked indignantly at the lens.

"Mom, we're not thirteen anymore, we're almost adults and think rationally!"

"Hah yes, I could almost believe that. Oh well, luckily Paula took good care of you, she is the expert in the field of fighting a cold winter after all."

Now it was time for me to chime in as well.

"Did you know what she was up to? Well, not about cold protection but regarding her ideas of what my sister should wear as a good girl?"

Mom and Dad laughed at me from the screen.

"No, honestly, your mother and I didn't know about that, heck, we didn't even suspect that! If she had let us in on it before, we would have told her right away that her plan was doomed to fail. After all, Lia is anything but a good girl."

Hrhr, my older sister was sussed!

"Although we wouldn't have dreamed that her brother would be so heroic and step in to the rescue."

I really basked in the parental recognition. I shouldn't have.

"As enthusiastic as Lio looks, we'll probably have to fill his closet differently in the future."

"Forget it, Mom! The one skirt is enough, and it's going into retirement anyway, as soon as I get back to Aunt Paula's today. "

I would not tell them about the deal we had with the twin's mother yet!

"Eva, I hope you were listening carefully. Lio was only talking about skirts, he doesn't seem to have anything against tights."

If Dad thought he could shock me with that, he was wrong.

"That's right, Dad. Not half an hour ago I was here with four other guys in tights, two of them even older than me. That's somewhat normal around here."

As long as you didn't listen to Michelle.

"Alright, as you wish. And Lia, how about you? Tights too?"

And again an indignant sister face was shown on the screen.

"Where did you get that funny idea, Mom? I'm a girl! I don't wear tights! Leggings at the most!"

General laughter flooded through the lines.

"And anyway, we're fine for now, we'd only need more if we were around here more often and for longer. We won't need that stuff at home. "

Sigh. Yes. That was still an issue, after all. Our parents looked at each other briefly before looking back at the camera and Dad asked the next question.

"Would you guys like to spend more time there?"

Now where did that question come from? It wasn't something we could decide anyway. While I was still thinking about how to answer it, Lia already took over this job.

"Well, sure. The area is great, especially now in the snow and at Christmas. And Lio would surely like to be with his sweetheart Alex more often."

So of course I couldn't leave it like that!

"And you with your sweetheart Pascal!"

Now Lia stuck her tongue out at me. Hmph! Mom and Dad, however, just laughed.

"That's where your brother has you, Lia. But seriously, don't you miss the big city? We would have thought that you couldn't get home fast enough in the new year. I mean, the area there is really nice, but still a lot of area with very little action."

"You have to take care of the action yourself, Dad. This here is a doer's area, at home it is a consumer's area."

"Did you just hear that, Eva? Our son is becoming a philosopher!"

"That's right, Thilo, our two never cease to amaze me."

"Indeed. But skirts and tights or leggings aside, what really surprised me is that both of them fell in love with representatives of the local native tribe within a few days. And I have the feeling that there's a bit more to it than a brief vacation flirt. Am I seeing this right? Lia? Lio?"

My sister shrugged.

"Well, Pascal and I have only known each other since yesterday, but he's really sweet and nice and cute. And smart! He could name and explain every single plant to me on our snowmobile trip, and he had the correct animal in his head for every animal track. "

As if Lia would have noticed if he was wrong.

"A real outdoorsman, then?"

"Yes, mom, but in the most positive sense."

"And do you think there could be more to it? With you two?"

And again the sisterly shrug.

"Yes. I do. If we had more time, Dad."

"Thought so. And how about you, Lio?"

"Well, Alex and I have known each other for a lot longer than Lia and Pascal! He's also super cute and kind and smart, and in his arms it just feels right. It's crazy, back home I could have met a lot of gay guys, but here in the sticks I find one that really suits me. He even wears tights too!"

Mom and Dad laughed while Lia added one more point.

"And footed sleepers!"

"Haha, yeah, that too! And, Lio, that black cat thing is really cute! I hope you guys got something like that for Lia too?"

Laughing, I nodded.

"Yes, Alex found just the right complementary model. Ladybug, Cat Noir's partner in the animated series. And very, very, VERY girly! A great fit for Lia."


The parental units, however, just laughed.

"Very good, then you're both well taken care of."

That we were. Though w ith Auntie's cookies, we'd probably have to watch out to not burst out of the sleepers too quickly. Again, Mom and Dad looked at each other with indistinct expressions, then nodded to each other and Dad continued talking.

"You know, kids, the fact that we won the cruise really came in handy."

"Yeah right, you guys wanted some peace and quiet from Lio and me!"

"Haha, yes, that too! But seriously, this gave us the opportunity to send you guys to your aunt's house for a while. We didn't expect that you guys would fall in love right there, though, and apparently not only with human partners but also with the area! Or am I wrong about that?"

Both Lia and I shook our heads in denial.

"Thought so, that's how your emails sounded too. Now, in all seriousness, the question to both of you: could you imagine living there permanently?"

Oh. My. God! What movie was I in right now! Had Dad really just asked if I could imagine moving here? It had sounded just like that!

"Um... Dad... what do you mean? Are you going to park Lio and me at Aunt Paula's permanently?"

Now horror spread across our parents' faces.

"No, of course not! We miss you guys already, and this afternoon, when it's supposed to be Christmas gift time, it's going to be a lot worse. No, it's like this."

"Let me, please, Thilo."

Dad nodded, and Mom continued.

"I got a job offer in November, as a development manager at a Research Lab - and this institute is only about 2 0 kilometers from where you are right now. Actually, I was about to turn it down, because I didn't think you two would agree to move to the country and so far away from our home. But then the cruise win came along and gave us the opportunity to at least show you the area live and in color for a while."

Wait a minute. Did that mean our stay at Auntie's was a set-up?

"We wanted to see how you liked the area and the life there, only then we wanted to make our decision. Not without asking you about it, of course."

"Did Aunt Paula know about this?"

"Yes, Lio, she knew from the beginning."

Which, of course, explained the cryptic remarks she had made on several occasions.

"Let me sum this up. Mom got what seems to be a very good job offer around here, but had thought that Lio and I would never agree to a move here. She hasn't turned it down yet, though, because we would be spending two trial weeks here because of the cruise win. Okay, what now?"

"Well, I have to notify the lab of my decision by January 5 th. So you still have some time to think about whether you want to move there or not."

There really was a lot to think about. School. Friends. Gun club. Not to mention the general city life. And anyway...

"When is the move supposed to happen?"

"I'd have to start the job on March 1st."

Wow, that was pretty short notice!

"What about Dad?"

"I can work anywhere, I do most of it in my home office anyway, Lia."

Dad translated and corrected technical texts, from text books to instruction manuals, and nowadays most of it really happened over the Internet.

But that wasn't the end of it.

"Dad, since you mention the home office, where would we live?"

"There are one or two houses near Aunt Paula's available that would work for us. Mom's new employer would pay for the move in full, by the way, plus a settling-in bonus."

They seemed to be really interested in getting her.

"So Lio and I would have to decide by January 5 th, so you could let this lab know in time, Mom?"

"That would be the absolute last date, but I hope that by the time we pick you up at Aunt Paula's you will have come to a decision. And yes, we have decided that we will leave the decision up to you. For teenagers like you, it would be the most drastic change because of switching school already."

It really was a tough decision. Big city with all the amenities that came with it, plus our familiar life versus moving to what was really a whole new world for us, with new people, new school - and new weather! But most importantly: with Alexandre! Oh boy. Up until now, I had assumed that with a lot of luck we would be able to sustain a long-distance relationship, but now there was the possibility of actually staying close to him permanently. What would that be like? Would Alex be able to put up with me permanently? That would be a risk, even though I had no doubts about our relationship at the moment. Well, I still had several days to think about it, to rack my brain, to imagine this or that scenario again and again.

"Mom, Dad? If Lia is okay with it too, I'm all for moving here."

Had I really just said that? Mom and Dad, at least, were pretty baffled. My sister, on the other hand, was grinning madly into the camera.

"I'm in!"

Okay, I didn't expect that! At least not that quickly.

"Kids, are you really sure? Like, right now, with no time to think about it some more?"

"I don't need more time to think about it, Mom. I like it here. Sure, it's different from home, a lot different. But positively different!"

"Despite needing leggings, Lia?"

Sis laughed out.

"Yes, Dad, despite needing leggings!"


I shrugged.

"I like it here too. And not just because of Alexandre, he's just the icing on the cake."

"You do realize it's not Christmas Wonderland there twelve months a year, right?"

"Sure, Mom! But even so, this place is great. You almost get sick from the clean air, and it's hard to fall asleep from the lack of noise, if you want to see a traffic light you need GPS to find it, but we'll make it."

"Haha, yeah, that's all true. Alright, are you guys really sure you want to do this? And that you guys don't want to think about it a little longer? Lia?"

"I don't need to think about it any longer. My mind is made up."


"Lia agrees too, so you know my decision."

From the smiles on our parents' faces, they seemed to be very pleased with our decision. They both took a deep breath, then Dad summed it all up.

"Then it is hereby decided. We're moving in the new year!"

And with that, my own personal Christmas miracle had come true...

And here ends the story of Lio, Lia, Aunt Paula, Alex, Micco and all the others. Of course, it doesn't really end here, but we'll leave the rest to the readers' imagination.

Until next time,


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