Christmas during a war was a meagre affair. Fighting stopped for no man (except for once over 20 years ago - but Havers held out no hope for a repeat of that), and so a slap up Christmas dinner was not happening unless you were a VERY good black market dealer.
At Button House, nothing much changed about the men's days. They got a few days off to go and see family over the actual holiday, as they weren't front line personnel, but with a strict CO there was no dilly dallying.
Somebody, however, had managed to get a Christmas tree into the food hall. Nobody knew who (apart from the person responsible, of course), but it was a pleasant surprise as they filed in at 0630 for their breakfast of toast and jam.
It was awfully bare, however. And one Lieutenant Havers decided to do something about that.
After being dismissed by his (not like that, unfortunately) captain, William made his way to the top of the house, grabbed a ladder from the store cupboard, and made his way into the attic.
"There must be some decorations up here somewhere," he muttered to himself, flicking the light switch by the entrance. It seemed to flicker on for a moment, before it started flashing. William frowned, returning to the switch and flicking it on and off a couple of times, which seemed to do the trick.
He scanned the expanse of the loft (it was huge, but then, he was in a mansion) looking for anything that leaped out at him. Finding nothing, he sighed, resigning himself to a day of rummaging around through dusty antiques.
William nodded resolutely, and set to work.
He made his way down the ladder, tying his tunic round his waist as he went, before walking briskly to the food hall. He had two hours before lunch, plenty of time to decorate the small tree placed in one of the bays by the windows.
Having worked up quite a sweat, he was too warm to put his tunic back on, and so left it tied around his midriff (everyone was outside doing drills, it's not like anyone was going to see him), wiped the dust off his hands on his trousers - his uniform really was a state, good job it was wash day tomorrow - and set to work.
The door opened and he panicked - he really wasn't in a presentable state - but relaxed slightly as he noticed it was the Captain. Really, he should be reprimanded for such behaviour, but one look at the CO's red face confirmed that a warning would not be issued.
"Everything alright, sir?" He asked genuinely. It was unlike the Captain to leave his office - Havers had to sometimes bring him a bowl of soup and a cup of tea just so he remembered to eat.
The Captain spluttered for a moment, making incoherent noises before nodding sharply.
"Yes, quite alright." He seemed to gain a bit of composure, and made his way towards the tree. "Goodness, did you do all of this?"
William nodded. "Yes. It looked a little sorry for itself, thought I would make it a little happier. Just got the star to go." Havers waved the ornament in his hand.
The Captain seemed to be fighting with himself, clearly wanting to ask something but not quite going through with it. The lieutenant had an idea of what it was.
"Would you like to do it, sir?" He asked gently. The Captain widened his eyes.
"Me? I... I don't think that would be quite proper." He stuttered. Havers shook his head fondly.
"You're the CO, it's your job." He handed over the star, their fingers brushing as he did so. The Captain blushed, before standing by the tree, reaching up to place the ornament on the top. Just before he did, however, he snapped his hand back.
"This feels awfully selfish of me, Lieutenant, after all, it was you who did all the work." He scratched the back of his neck awkwardly.
In a moment of bravery, Havers reached over and placed his hand over the Captain's, letting his fingers touch the gold star. He leaned closer to the CO, and whispered,
"We'll do it together, then."
Because they always did. William had heard numerous privates discussing how he and the CO were joined at the hip, and although it wasn't strictly true, Havers couldn't find it in himself to care.
They placed the star on top of the tree as slowly as they could, both wanting to prolong the moment. But, alas, it could not be dragged out forever, and the event was over too soon.
"I should probably go and get myself cleaned up." Havers grinned at the blushing Captain, who nodded and murmured a 'jolly good'.
In another moment of bravery (honestly, William had no idea where they were coming from), the lieutenant leaned forwards and pressed a kiss to the Captain's cheek.
"See you at lunch, sir." He smirked, and sauntered out of the hall, hands in trouser pockets, leaving the Captain opening and closing his mouth like a fish.
Call it 'Christmas Spirit', but nothing was ever quite the same again.