Characters: Bernd, Maria, Amber, Greta, Vati(Wolfgang)
Word count: 2111
Rating: PG 13 for brief nudity
Summary: A snow drift, a snow beast, and getting sick, what more can go wrong for Bernd?
Author’s note: Special thanks to my beta Kat for pinking this. Please note that Greta, Amber, and Maria belong to her. Also of note, this time around I asked Kat to pick four random prompts & suggest a character or two, which helped me corral a bunch of plot bunnies.
Author’s note 2: This was written for allbingo’s Winterfest in July, using all four prompts and making a single fic out of them.
Part 1: A Winter Wonderland
Bernd looked out the mudroom’s window and groaned. He swore softly in German at the eerie whiteness in the half light of dawn. “Danke, Vati,” he whispered to himself. “I’m glad I listened to you yesterday and strung the rope to the barn.” It had snowed overnight and big, fat, wet flakes still fell from a grey sky.
Reaching for his coat, Bernd shrugged into it, before pulling on his boots. He wound a scarf around his neck and zipped his coat closed. Grabbing his hat, Bernd put it on as well as his mittens. He opened the door and stepped out into the cold. Shivering, he grabbed the rope and holding it tight, he slowly made his way to the stable.
Bernd stepped inside and savored the warmth. Blitzkrieg whinnied in greeting, and taking off his hat and coat, Bernd grabbed a lead and walked over to the big, black Friesian. He basked in the warm, horsey breath blown his way, before opening the stall and stepping inside. Clipping the lead to Blitzkrieg’s halter, he led his horse over to a ring in the wall and tied him up. Bernd then proceeded to muck out the stall. When he finished, he emptied and refilled the horses feed and water buckets. Hay was also added to the rack, before Blitzkrieg was turned back into his stall. He repeated the process in Louis the mini donkey’s stall, fed and watered the chickens as well as the barn cats.
He was so not looking forward to going outside and back to the house, but a warm bed was waiting for him, not to mention an even warmer Amber. Sighing softly, Bernd opened the stable door and slipped out into the blinding white expanse of freshly fallen snow. Grabbing the rope leading to the house, Bernd pushed his way through the nearly knee high snow.
Bernd made it halfway back, when he stumbled and landed face first in the snow. Flailing about, he somehow managed to pull himself to his feet and continued on his way. He was glad to finally reach the door to the mudroom, and opening it, he stepped inside.
“Hey, Maria,” he said when he noticed his six year old daughter, standing there.
Wide eyed, Maria took a deep breath and let out a loud scream. The more her father tried to comfort her, the more scared she became as he was covered in snow and looked just like the snow beast she had been teasing her fellow classmates about.
Part 2: The Snow Beast
Maria, who had gotten up early for school, was happy to have a snow day. Instead of going back to bed, the six year old decided to wait for her father to come back from the stable. However, while it may have sounded like her father, the white apparition before her did not look anything like him. In fact, it looked just like the snow beast she had been teasing her friends at school about. Her eyes grew wide as a stray thought about the snow shark eating her poor father alive crossed her mind.
Shaking her head in horror, Maria opened her mouth and let out a bloodcurdling shriek. She backed away as the beast stalked toward her and hissed. “MUTTI!!” she wailed.
“Shush, Sweetie, it’s me, Vati,” the snow shark said softly. It got down on her level and tried to grab her.
Maria was having none of that. She screamed again. Shaking with fear, she backed away, before turning on her heel and running smack into her mothers, Amber and Greta. “Mutti, the snow shark ate Vati!” she hiccupped as the tears streamed down her face.
While Greta comforted their daughter, Amber turned to Bernd. “What the hell is wrong with you?” She looked over at Greta and Maria, and back at Bernd. “Didn’t we just talk to her about scaring the other kids in school?” Amber got up into Bernd’s face. “And didn’t she already promise to stop it? What is the point of you acting like the snow beast at this god awful hour? I told you and James that not only was it a bad idea to watch it with her, but giving her a taste of her own medicine…” she trailed off angrily and gave him a glare that made him long for the heat of the snowy wasteland outside, before turning and leaving with Greta and their daughter.
Bernd stood there, feeling physically wounded as though she had struck him. “I didn’t do anything!” he called out after their retreating forms. Huffing to himself, Bernd took off his coat and hung it up. He shook his head and stripped out of the clothes he wore to muck out the stable. Gathering them into a ball, he took them downstairs and put them in the washer. After getting it going, he added his underwear. Padding naked to the room he shared with Amber, he grabbed some clean clothes and took a shower.
Snow beast indeed! he thought as the water began to slowly thaw him out.
Part 3: Bernd’s Marshmallow World
Bernd sat at the kitchen table, hacking up a lung, as he reached for the bottle of Tylenol. He had come down with a fever after the “snow shark incident” due to face planting into a snow drift. When the fever blossomed into a cough, everyone seemed to forgive him. He was glad his father and his son Fritz had volunteered to deal with the animals this morning as the last thing Bernd wanted to do was go outside.
Shaking out a couple of Tylenols into his hand, Bernd set the bottle down and grabbed his cup of cocoa. Popping the pills into his mouth, he washed them down with a sip of his hot chocolate. Mmmm…White chocolate… Bernd took another sip and knew all was forgiven. Pushing back from the table, he shuffled over to the cabinet and took out a bag of mini marshmallows. Sitting down, Bernd took a handful of marshmallows and added them to his drink. He would have been happy with just warm milk, but the white chocolate cocoa was a special treat. Amber had found a box of twelve packets in town and Bernd hoarded them the way a dragon was said to hoard its gold. He chuckled softly, which quickly morphed into a long hacking cough, as that cocoa was the “good stuff” and it only came out for special occasions. Since his birthday was next month, Bernd figured Amber must have thought he was dying and made him a cup. But you are… a little voice in his head whined. Tell me about it…
Bernd brought the mug to his lips and slurped a mixture of half melted marshmallows and hot chocolate. It went down smooth and soothed his sore throat. He hummed A Marshmallow World, while thinking about his brother Didi and his husband Tino, who had introduced him to the song. It not only summed up winter, but Bernd’s penchant for eating white food according to Tino.
Finishing his hot chocolate, Bernd got up and put the mug in the sink. On the way out of the kitchen, he grabbed a handful of marshmallows. In between bouts of coughing, Bernd ate a couple. He debated going into the den to watch some TV, but his head hurt despite the Tylenol, so he trudged upstairs to his old room.
Flopping down on the bed, he choked down the last of the marshmallows. Bernd snuggled under the covers. The warmth of the bed felt good and he closed his eyes. It was not long, before Bernd was sound asleep and snoring loudly.
Part 4: The Krampus
Bernd entered his room and flopped down on the bed. A coughing fit seized him and he curled into a ball. Feeling both hot and cold, he lay there as he drifted off into a fitful sleep.
He had been asleep for several hours, when Amber went upstairs to check on him. Cracking open the door to his room, she said, “Bernd?” Getting no response, she walked inside and went over to him.
“Bernd honey?” Amber laid the back of her fingers against his cheek. She hated how hot he felt and the way his cheeks were flushed. Then again, whenever Bernd did get a fever, he tended to get rather high ones. Amber was not too worried, until he cried out something in German. “What’s wrong?” she said softly.
His eyes fluttered open and Bernd repeated his plea to the figure before him. He coughed as he struggled to sit up, shrinking back when she tried to help him. Bernd muttered something in German again at her.
Amber was worried, if he was this delirious, then this was something more than just bronchitis. She hurried over to the door, so that she could get a cold compress and more Tylenol. Unfortunately, that seemed to really agitate Bernd, so she stuck her head out the door and called out for help.
Bernd leaned against the headboard, relieved that the Krampus had come back. There was no way in Hell; he was going to let the beast take his children. Sure, they were naughty, but so was he at their age and he was around to tell the tale. Just then, the door to his room opened and a tall, masculine figure walked in. Was that Santa? And was he going to help him fight the Krampus? “Santa?” he croaked.
Wolfgang exchanged glances with Amber. “Nein,” he said to his son. “It’s me, Vati.” He held out a glass of water and a couple of Tylenols. “Here, take this and you’ll feel better.”
Bernd shook his head. What if Santa-Vati was in league with the Krampus? What if he was trying to poison him? Another figure entered the room; she spoke softly to the Krampus and Santa-Vati. She looked at him and laughed, and said in German with a heavy Bavarian accent, “Dummkopf , stop messing around and take the Tylenol like a good little boy!” She grinned wickedly at him and added, “Or else the Krampus will get you…”
Greta chuckled as she took the glass of water from Wolfgang and handed it to Bernd. She also gave him the Tylenol, which he quickly took. “Lie back,” she commanded in German.
Bernd did as he was told. This one must be an angel and he had a feeling she would kick the Krampus’ arse, before letting it harm him or his children. He coughed again, but he felt a lot better, even though his poor ribs hurt. He barely noticed when the angel put a cold compress on his head.
He woke up, coughing, several hours later. The room was dark and he wondered how long he had been asleep. Amber was also there, which was odd as she tended to leave him alone when he was sick, so as not to make the kids sick.
“Amber?” He coughed and struggled to sit up. Breathing easier, he croaked, “Can you get me-”
“Some cough medicine?” Amber finished as she poured some into the tiny dose cup. She handed it to Bernd. “You okay?”
He nodded and drank the medicine. Bernd made a face at the taste. “I had a weird dream…”
“I know. I came up here earlier and you were delirious.” She reached out and felt his cheek. He was still warm to the touch, but not as bad as had been. “Bernd, I think tomorrow morning, I will call the doctor and drag your sorry ass into town so you can see him. I hope your bronchitis didn’t get worse.” Amber put an arm around him and held him close.
“Yeah…” Bernd looked up ruefully at her. “I can’t believe I was dreaming about the Krampus of all things.”
“Well, tonight’s Krampusnacht and you did threaten the kids with the Krampus the other day.”
Bernd half coughed, half chuckled. “Vati used to threaten me all the time with it.”
“Gee, I wonder why?” Amber chuckled.
Bernd’s smile faded as a horrified expression took its place. “Shit! I’m never living this down, am I?” He had just realized that Santa was his father and the angel was Greta. While his father would not say anything about it, Bernd knew Greta was going to tease the Hell out of him over it, not to mention Amber, who he hoped would not figure out that he thought she was the Krampus.
“Nope.” Amber kissed his cheek. “Let’s try to go back to sleep, okay?” She stifled a yawn.
They settled back and Bernd felt better, wrapped in Amber’s arms as they drifted back to sleep.