"Ah, I'm full." Lina leaned back in her chair.
"Well, I suppose that everyone else is bursting, considering that LINA is full." Demeter crossed her legs.
"That doesn't sound like a compliment, De~ra . . ." Lina glared.
"Reminds me of other evenings when we traveled from village to village." Firia reminisced. "Lina-sama and Gourry-sama always ate as much as all of us put together."
"Do you remember the time you risked your lives to capture a dragon to get a meal?" Xelloss laughed.
"Not like you and Dera HELPED us any." Gourry said sourly.
"You were the bait, Gourry-san! And Zel-san was the weight, I remember!" Amelia giggled.
"You must have been desperate. . . " Zangulus twitched an eyebrow. Shifiel looked horrified.
"And we didn't get to eat it! After all that trouble." Lina groaned.
"Do you remember the time you were getting married to that billionaire?" Zangulus asked of Lina.
"I wasn't there." Zel remarked.
"It was after we fought with Shabarnigdo and before we fought with the 'Copy Rezo." Amelia told him. "Come to think of it, you weren't there when we did that play, either, were you?"
"Don't remind me of that." Lina sighed.
"It was better than the first time we met Demeter-san." Amelia said brightly.
"Firia had a nice first appearance." Demeter countered. "So did Val. So did Zangulus. So did Martina. So did ZEL. At least I didn't attack as soon as I saw you."
The friends plunged into a string of "do-you-remembers". "Do you remember that song we thought was a spell?" "Do you remember when Shifiel first met Amelia's father?" "Do you remember the curse Martina put on Lina?" "Do you remember when we dressed up as dolls?" "Do you remember . . ?" "Do you remember . . ?"
"Ok, you guys, let's clean up this mess and move on to the blessing." Demeter stood up.
"As if the cleaning will take long," Lina pouted. She murmured a spell, and the plates quickly stacked themselves neatly on top of one another. Another few words, and the plates flew to the kitchen.
Firia pumped some water into the sink, and Shifiel whispered a spell. Soon the plates were sparkling.
"Martina, you and Zangulus stand here, with the babies. Lina, Gourry, stand there. Shifiel, stand here."
"But, Demeter-sama, you are by far the highest present, and there is also Firia-sama. . " Shifiel protested.
"No, you do this one. I'll just stand by." Demeter winked. "You didn't earn that badge for nothing, did you?"
Shifiel blushed, "Thank you, Demeter-sama."
The blessing consisted of pouring water over the babies' heads, then confirming the names of the infants. Demeter and Firia finished it off with the actual blessing, and for a moment the room shone with light. The babies didn't fuss, but instantly fell asleep after the ritual.
"I'll go put them in another room." Martina took the bundles and walked into the bedroom.
"Ok, taking pictures is next!" Demeter produced a camera.
"What's that?" Lina wondered, shaking it. Demeter laughed. "It's a device from the third dimension. If you press this button, a picture will come out." Demeter aimed and pressed. A picture came out of the front part and fell into Lina's hands. Demeter used a "Lighting!" and the picture dried instantly.
"Wow, this is neat!" Amelia exclaimed. "They sure have a lot of neat things in the Third Dimension."
"Under the mistletoe." Demeter instructed. "You know our Yule Eve custom - kiss of blessings with all your friends."
A half an hour later, all the pictures had been taken. "Geez, Xelloss, yours and Dera's pic came out the best." Gourry commented at the picture of Xelloss kissing his sister.
"Your's and Lina's isn't so bad either." Xelloss glanced at the picture of both of them blushing as Gourry put his lips on Lina's forehead.
"I'm going to burn this one!" Firia declared hotly, waving the one Xelloss catching her by surprise.
"I think I'll call this one 'Former Enemies, Reconciled'" Demeter mused at a pic of Val and Xelloss good-naturedly hugging each other.
"Amelia, you need to grow a little bit more taller." Lina giggled at Zel stooping to reach Amelia's cheek.
"This is sweet." Martina held up the one of Shifiel and Gourry.
"Yours is sweeter, Matina-sama." Shifiel said slyly, flourishing a pic of Martina and Zangulus kissing each other on the mouth.
"Look at this." Zangulus was holding a pic of him and Gourry. "Gourry has the strangest expression on his face."
"Lina's chest really looks flat in this pic." Martina teased as she held one of Lina and Demeter. Lina tackled her.
"Lina-san and Zel-san are too close to each other in this pic." Amelia pouted at Zel's and Lina's picture.
"Oh yeah? Look at this." Val showed her Zel kissing the back of Demeter's neck.
"Like you and Firia are any better?" Zel shoved the pic of Val's face buried in Firia's hair under his nose.
"The blue and yellow make a nice harmony." Demeter teased Zel with a pic of him and Gourry.
"You two look like sisters in this pic." Shifiel said sentimentally as she looked at a pic of Amelia and Lina.
"NO WE DON'T!" Lina and Amelia both shouted.
"Shifiel is blushing in every pic I see." Gourry held up a pic of Lina and Shifiel, and another one of Amelia and Shifiel.
"Firia-san, you're supposed to smile, not scowl." Xelloss pointed to a pic of Lina and Firia.
"I was still in shock from the pic I took with YOU." She stuck out her tongue.
After the pictures were all tucked away inside Demeter's album, everybody settled themselves around the room. Demeter, Val, and Xelloss were talking quietly on the sofa. Lina and Gourry were sitting under a window. Firia and Shifiel had struck up a friendship and were conversing in front of the fireplace. Zel and Amelia were at another window, stargazing. Martina and Zangulus were happy in a corner.