The Bajoran year was two hundred and ninety-six Cardassian days long — shorter by far, yet each year of his exile in enemy space seemed practically interminable. It was always a bit of a surprise when the dreary station was briefly brightened by banners and colourful lights celebrating yet another turning of the celestial wheel, a celebration in which Garak was never invited to take part, but which he nevertheless marked in his own sardonic way: I have survived, a fact noted and rejoiced over by none whatsoever.
This year was different. Three days ago an invitation had been tendered over lunch: "Garak, I'm holding a small party in my quarters on Torta Eve to celebrate the New Year. I don't suppose you'd like to come…?" So eagerly yet tentatively offered, with an appealing gaze of wide warm eyes full of pointless hope.
He had refused, of course, making an excuse about having to work late to complete some Torta Day commissions. All lies, of course. And he spent the evening in his own quarters, alone — of course.
But this time, for the first time in over five years of banishment, he lit a candle and sang one of the ancient Cardassian hymns to the silent night, four brief lines about the way that green shoots drive deep into the earth and bind fast what lies beneath, and bring nourishment to all that dwells in darkness.