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'' Is the oven hot enough already? ''

" I think, do you think it's a good idea if I put my hand in to check it? " Erika joked, bringing her hand to the oven door.

'' Don't even think about it. '' Christine gently struck her teacher’s hand and then brought it to her lips to kiss the palm of her pale hand.

Erika laughed delighted. She was in excellent mood today, Christine realized.

'' When are you going to start? '' Erika asked sitting at the kitchen table.

'' I? I thought you were going to help me. '' She raised her scattered eyebrows, rolled up the long sleeves of the dress to get her hands free.

'' I lit the oven. '' Erika said crossing her legs in an affectionate and mocking smile.

She was dressed according to her idea of casual. Black pants, a white shirtwaist with wide sleeves, and a golden vest, black boots hugging her ridiculously long legs.

'' Oh no, you won't. Come here, you're going to mix the butter and sugar. '' Christine playful scolding pointing out the place next to her.

Christine had one of her most casual dresses, in white and a couple of inches away from the floor. In her small kitchen, a bustle was not practical.

They stared at each other until Christine couldn't keep pretending seriousness and laughed. The sound filled Erika with bliss, and she felt her smile grow without her permission. If there was something that Erika loved more than Christine's singing, it was her laugh.

'' I don't know, Christine, that's not my thing. '' She said, standing up.

'' Just mix this until I say, you'll do it well.'' Christine smiled encouraging her, giving her the spoon in her hand. '' Give me the bowl, please. '' She pointed to the high part of the cupboard.

" Why am I doing this? " Ahe complained. Cooking and baking was not something she enjoy doing. She considered it tedious, like watching paint dry.

'' Because you are tall, and you love me. '' Christine gave her best smile.

'' Universal truths. '' She affirmed giving her the bowl and kissing her temple.

Christine giggled, and poured the butter and sugar into the bowl. she saw with humor how Erika stabbed with much more force than necessary that poor stick of butter.

'' What do you say we are doing? ''

'' Basically gingerbread cookies. '' Christine responded by showing Erika an old recipe card, with great pride.

Erika did not see it for a long time, as it was written in Swedish. One of the languages she didn't know. She had not had time to study it since she had her little blonde at a safe distance of a few meters almost all the time. Happiness took a lot of time, and if it had to be that way, Erika didn't mind not learning one more thing in her lifetime.

'' Yes, but what does it say up here, dear? '' Erika asked.

'' Pepparkakor. '' Christine said with red cheeks, her accent sliding on her tongue felt so strange

Erika smiled sweetly, showing all her teeth '' Repeat it please. ''

'' Pepparkakor'' She said shy.

Erika had worked to eliminate her accent so her diction could be clearer when singing. That had been a long time ago, her accent had disappeared until that moment.

" Oh, come here, you're adorable. '' Erika exclaimed cheerfully hugging the little soprano close against her chest.

She leaned down to sink her face into Christine's neck and then blow a raspberry in her jawline.  The blonde screamed and laughed with pleasure, and her cheeks flushed even more, spreading the color to her neck.

Christine squealed in joy when Erika's arms lifted her in the air by the waist and kissed her flushed cheeks.

Christine cradled her lover's face to make her head lift and access her lips.

She kissed her, surrounding her neck with her arms, enjoying her floral scent, the softness and natural coldness of her skin, the warmth of her lips, the strength of her hands on her waist. Feeling so loved and safe, the idea of releasing her was unattractive, but...

'' We have three more batches of cookies to do, can you get me down? '' Christine asked, pulling away from her lips, putting a lock of dark hair behind Erika’s ear.

'' Nope.'' The masked woman shook her head with a playful smile, caressing Christine's cheek with the mask's nose.

'' There would be time for this later. ''

'' Really? When? '' Erika raised her eyebrow,

'' Today you stay with me. '' She said kissing her forehead, putting both hands on her broad shoulders.

'' When we said I'd stay with you? '' Erika asked with a raised eyebrow, not complaining, the idea sounded wonderful, but somewhat suspicious.

'' Cookies don’t wrap themselves '' She confessed innocently, shrugging.

She wasn't going to make cookies for the entire opera by herself alone.

'' You little demon! And what am I going to win in return? '' She complained, but her smile was so big that it highlighted the first fine lines of age in her eyes.

'' My kisses and my love counts? '' Christine joked kissed the nose of the mask.

'' That is not a valid currency, Christine. " Erika said smiling, stroking the blonde's face with her lips.

Christine laughed and rubbed her nose against Erika's 'nose',  then kissed the smile on her lips.

Erika finally lowered her to the floor, Christine stared at her smiling in love, circling her neck with her arms, stood on tiptoe to kiss her jaw.

'' I should have asked someone else for help. How am I going to finish this if I can't take my eyes off you? '' She said leaning back to see her better, making her pigtail of blond curls sway with her.

'' What a problem. '' Erika said, avoiding her gaze. Christine could see her neck redden in shyness.

'' I love you. '' Christine declared.

Christine loved saying that, seeing Erika's face light up every time was priceless. The brightness of her eyes were more beautiful than any Christmas tree Christine had ever seen.

‘’… Me too. ’’ Erika whispered smiling sweetly, staring at the floor.

'' I know, my love. '' The blonde said, leaning forward to kiss her shoulder before walking away.

 And started to sifting the flour, ginger and cinnamon through a small sieve.

  Erika stared at her without moving. It was still difficult to think that her Christine was real. That she could touch her, and feel the warmth of her skin, and she wouldn't scream or fade away.

'' The butter and sugar will not mix on their own, sweetheart. '' Christine smiled at her.

'' Oh, of course.'' She exclaimed clumsy, getting out of her trance.

For Christine, it was hard not to copy the example of what Erika had done minutes before and fill her with kisses. Her fae could be so adorable.

After that, they worked efficiently. Christine told Erika when she had to integrate the egg, vanilla and molasses. At first, she did it with much more force than necessary and awkwardly, but as Christine expected it, Erika quickly mastered it. she stared while the blonde mixed the flour, baking soda and ginger with the wet ingredients.

'' If you make them so detailed we are going to stay here until new year, Angel. '' Christine said with her hands on Erika's shoulders.

The masked woman was sitting in the kitchen table, carving the cookie dough with a knife. Christine had only asked her to cut simple hearts and stars, but of course Erika had taken it personally. And now she was making intricate patterns on each cookie. Not exactly very traditional, but Christine was not going to take that away from her.

" I have a lot of free time, Christine. " Erika joked without looking up.

'' Of course, take your time. '' she laughed, leaning forward to hug her from behind, burying her face in her dark hair. Christine smiled when Erika shuddered. "Remember to poke a hole in the tip."

'' Why? '' Erika asked, looking away from the cookies to look at the girl, dropping her head against the blonde's chest.

'' They are so beautiful that I'm going to put a ribbon on them and make decorations. '' Christine said sweetly.

Erika could make everything beautiful and fascinating. Not to mention, a much better use of a knife on her part. Luckily, those days were behind.

'' Really? '' Erika asked, not quite sure how to feel.

'' Only if you want. '' Christine said leaving a kiss on her hair, stroking the long dark locks, pulling them out of her face.

Erika did not respond immediately. Two years ago her idea of a perfect death was oblivion, erase her trail of the planet, not a single record that she existed. The world would know her aliases, her masks, but never who was under. But now, maybe she could show her art and let them know that it was she who had done it. today it would be a cookie, tomorrow maybe it would be one of her opera, or one of her palaces. The world would always be against her, but the future was vast and bright with Christine by her side.

'' I do. '' She shrugged as if it were the big deal. '' Thank you. '' She whispered, smiling.

'' You are welcome. '' Christine said, sliding her hands through Erika's arms until she reached her hands.

'' You're freezing. '' Christine shook her head taking one of her love's hands and rubbing it between her own trying to warm her.

'' I've always had icy hands. ''

'' I know, I'll make some hot chocolate, while you're done with that.’’ She said, cradling her cheek and leaving a kiss on the mask, stepping away from Erika's side.

Erika nodded feeling her cheeks warm up, she took the knife back, to continue with what she was doing.

The chocolate was not exactly cheap, But Christine didn't skimp on the holidays. She put the chocolate and two cups of milk and put them on the fire in a saucepan, until the chocolate melted.

By that time, Erika had put the cookies in the oven.

'' Be careful, it's very hot,'' Christine said giving her a white cup, walking very slowly toward her. '' Do you want a marshmallow?’’

'' No thanks, my face looks like a burnt marshmallow already.'' She joked in a mocking smile, taking off the mask. Christine doesn't even blink anymore.

Christine choked on the chocolate, and couldn't help laughing. She approached to her lover and stood on tiptoe to kiss her shattered cheek. For Erika, her hot lips thanks to the drink felt like heaven on her sensitive and thin skin.

'' Your wonderful thing. '' Christine shook her head ''Do we start with the next batch? '' She asked holding the cup with both hands, taking small sips.

'' Lead the way. ''  Erika said drinking, Christine hadn't sweetened her chocolate knowing how much she liked bitter drinks.

'' Mix the butter and sugar again. '' She said leaving her almost empty cup aside.

They started working on the next batch, and to the joy of Christine, Erika left the mask on the table with no signs of wanting to put it back on.

'' Christine, you have honey on your face.''  Erika said casually as she whipped the sugar and butter.

'' Seriously? Where? '' She asked skeptical. She had used honey to sweeten the chocolate, having all the sugar destined for cookies.

'' Here. '' Erika said mischievously  smearing the blonde's cheek with her thumb.

'' Erika! '' Christine laughed.

The taller woman leaned down to kiss Christine’s cheek, licking her cheek in the process, making her shiver.

'' You also have honey on your face. ''

'' You say? Where? '' The brunette asked raising her eyebrow, pretending she didn't see Christine run her finger over the honey lid.

'' Here. '' She said smearing the syrup on Erika's lips.

Erika laughed, about to lick her lips to remove the excess.

'' No, that's mine! '' Christine protested immediately on tiptoe, and circling Erika's neck with her arms.

There was a short silence, a tension in extreme need to be resolved filled the air.

'' I am all yours,'' She whispered sweetly, bowing and holding her close.

Christine's stomach filled with butterflies and her legs trembled at the intensity of her gaze. Their warm chocolate-scented breaths mixed together. The blonde cradled both cheeks of madly uneven textures before finally connecting their lips.

'' Happy Christmas, Erika '' Christine whispered against her lips.

'' Is December 6, Christine! ''

Christine laughed and Erika's complaints were soon buried in cinnamon and chocolate flavored kisses. Their kisses never needed honey to be sweet anyway.