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The Music of the Spheres

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"I'll get it!" Tabitha called out at the sound of the doorbell, and Penelope nodded as she finished up with cutting the cake for their dessert. It had been weird to bake with her future mother in law, well, if Erin wanted to marry her, but Penelope had found the experience soothing in a way that she hadn't realized. She had been without her mother for so long, she had been accustomed to mothering others for so long, that this care was foreign and welcome. Erin gave her a small wink as she finished filling the teapot with hot chocolate to bring into the living room, and Penelope giggled in return.

"That's probably Jayje. I told her that she could stop by to drop off presents today, since I'm going to be here for the rest of the year. And then every year after this." Erin nodded as she carried the pot over to Penelope's side and then pressed her lips to her cheek in a sweet kiss. "You have to know that you're special, dumpling. I never wanted to live with Kevin, and I can't imagine living apart from you."

Erin let out a soft, pleased, breath before kissing Penelope's lips. "I can't imagine living apart from you, either. And I want so badly to make love to you tonight, but seeing as how I got the children for their winter break, well…"

"Anticipation will make it all the sweeter when it finally does happen." Penelope gave Erin another kiss before picking up the tray and heading for the door. "Hey, Jayje! Where's my little man?"

"He already ran into the living room as soon as he heard the word snacks. Your daughter is thoroughly adorable, Erin."

"Thank you, Jennifer. Please, follow us into the living room."

JJ nodded and they made their way to where the others were. "Mom, Dad, this is one of my colleagues, Jennifer Jareau. Her son is Penelope's godson."

Penelope gave her partner a quick look of surprise, not knowing that she knew that about her. She hadn't ever brought it up in casual conversation, after all. "Aunt Penny! We even got a present for Miss Erin, since she's your soulmate!" Henry said as he ran over to their sides and threw his arms around her legs in a tight hug. "Is that the cake that Tabby promised us?"

Erin and Penelope laughed in tandem as she nodded, Henry letting go of her long enough so that she could set the tray down on the coffee table. Karen took over from there, plating the slices while Bruce and Tabitha poured the hot chocolate and passed it around to all present while Henry tugged on her and Erin's hands, leading them over to the tree and pulling them down onto the floor. Once Penelope was seated, he crawled into her lap and she closed her arms around him, rocking him back and forth as they listened to the buzz of conversation happening around them. Erin let her head come to rest on Penelope's shoulder, and that was when she caught Nan trying to discreetly take pictures of them. "Mother."

"What, Rin? We need pictures of the two of you together. This cosy moment is a perfect memory for us all." Nan smiled at them before taking a few more pictures of them. Penelope nodded before turning her head and breathing in deeply, drawing the scent of Erin's perfume into her lungs. "You two are so lovely together."

A faint blush rose up in Penelope's cheeks as she shrugged, feeling suddenly under too much scrutiny. Erin just slid her arm around her waist and drew her closer, sliding her hand up and down Penelope's side as she let out a long breath of contentment. "All right, I'm finished with my cake. Will you open your presents now? Since we can't be with you on Christmas?"

JJ laughed and shook her head. "You don't have to if you don't want to, ladies. Henry is just excited about anyone getting to open presents."

"That will be fine, Jennifer. Do you mind?" Erin asked as she looked at Penelope.

"That will be perfectly fine, dumpling. Do you want to get them for us, sweetheart?" she murmured in Henry's ear. He nodded excitedly as he slipped out of Penelope's lap and toddled over to the tree, dragging over two gift bags to them before plopping down in front of them to stare expectantly. "Who should go first?"

"Miss Erin, because it's her house."

Penelope nodded as she turned to look at Erin, smiling at her. "All right, Miss Erin, go ahead."

Erin rolled her eyes affectionately as she broke the tape seal on the bag and pulled out the first layer of tissue paper. She was methodical about unwrapping her gift, and Penelope fought the urge to rush her, knowing that this was all a part of what made Erin. "This is beautiful, Henry. Thank you!" she exclaimed as she pulled out a delicate Swarovski figurine. "I will put it in my office and think of you every time that I look at it."

"Mom wanted to get you a pen, but pens are boring. This is pretty, and so it's better." Penelope muffled the giggle that fought to escape at his logic, but Erin just nodded sincerely as hugged the figurine close to her heart. "All right, Aunt Penelope! Open your gift!"

She nodded as she dug into her gift, flinging the tissue paper all over the place as she uncovered what they had chosen for her. A wide grin spread across her face when she saw the array of headbands in the bag. "You know me too well, Henry! Thank you!" she said as she pulled out one that would go with her current outfit and exchanged it for the one she was currently wearing. "Merry Christmas!"

"Merry Christmas! Thank you for having us!" Penelope's heart melted a little at the way he said those words, and she opened her arms to him, hugging him tightly before kissing his cheek. Henry wriggled out of her embrace before hugging Erin and giving her a sloppy kiss. "See you soon!"

"Of course!" Penelope replied as she waved at them. Tabitha got to her feet and showed them to the door, which left her and Erin with the rest of the family, and she suddenly felt under deep scrutiny. Scooting ever closer to her soulmate, Penelope tried to stuff down her feelings of nervousness in order to appear more at ease with the evening. She didn't know why she was suddenly so off kilter, but there was something that was setting her off, and Erin seemed to notice, since she allowed her thumb to stroke her side softly as she hummed their song in her ear.

"It's lovely that you have such a great relationship with your colleagues, Penelope. I kept trying to tell Erin how important that is to keep the peace at work, but her run ins with that brusque Agent Gideon seemed to influence her more than I ever could."

"Mom!"

"Well, am I wrong?" Nan winked at Penelope before turning her focus back to Erin. "Now, the kids and I are going to clean up down here and get everything ready for tomorrow. Why don't you and Penelope go for a walk. I know that it can get to be a bit much with all of us invading your space."

From the twinkle in Nan's eye, Penelope knew that she was teasing them, but she wasn't going to say no to alone time with Erin, and she hastily got to her feet before reaching her hand down to Erin, tugging her gently to her feet before leading her out to the hallway, smiling a little at Tabitha as they shrugged into their coats, ready to have a little time to themselves before the truly hectic holiday season fell upon them.