36: Morals and Maybes (Part 2:2)

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C H A P T E R    T H I R T Y S I X . T W O

Morals and Maybes

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                  THEY REACHED THE estate and were led inside by two elves wearing costumes similar to the ones the hospital staff on the third floor wore, and again, Louis wondered if they were actually costumes or normal elf fashion around here. He'd never seen Gemma or Ed dressed in anything other than something humans would wear in the dead of winter, but he had no way to be sure. Not unless he asked Harry, and they were a little busy for that conversation currently.

As the elves brought them into the foyer and left them to wait, Harry bridled up beside Louis and whispered, almost sheepishly, "I've only met Santa once before this. I was very young."

For the first time since they'd embarked on their journey, Louis remembered what they were actually doing here. It wasn't just to tour Claus Village or even just to meet Santa (which was the strangest thing Louis' ever thought to himself). They were here to find his father. They were here for answers that nobody could give him for the last twenty-one years.

Inside his gloves, his palms grew clammy. He needed a distraction so he didn't chicken out.

"He's got a daughter?"

Harry raised a brow. "Santa?"

"Yeah."

"Oh. Yeah."

"So how does that work? If his lifespan is the same as a human's, and hers is, then who was Santa before him? And who will be after?"

Louis wasn't sure how long they'd have to wait, but he figured this was probably good information to know going into this kind of meeting. And hopefully it would serve as a good enough alternative for his worry wart of a brain.

"Every Santa Claus has one child, and that's who the job gets passed down to. The next Santa will be this one's daughter, and then her future child will be the next one," Harry explained.

"Why are we always taught Santa's a man if that's not the case?"

Harry shrugged. "Honestly? It was probably just easier to roll with the one Santa than a new one with a new name every generation. Same reason you all didn't know there was more than one Santa or that they have human lifespans."

"Yes, because it's so hard to remember Chris and Christa over and over again."

Both Louis and Harry whipped around to face the man in the room who hadn't previously been there. Louis spotted a young girl, probably a few years younger than they were, behind him.

The man looked to be in his early fifties. His hair was a dark brown on the verge of gray, and his face was almost clean-shaven apart from some dark stubble.

Louis was confused. "Who are you?"

Harry nudged him and hissed, "Louis!" And then, in a different voice – a professional one, Louis noted – he said to the man, in greeting, "Santa."

Louis was even more confused. This man looked nothing like Santa. This man looked more like Louis' own father than he looked like Santa Claus.

The man – Santa, apparently – waved a hand and said, "Call me Chris. How's Anne doing?"

Chris...Kringle? Kill me now, Louis pleaded with the universe.

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