It really wasn't Dorian's sort of party. Dorian's sort of party generally excluded women, to begin with, unless they were professional criminals or Lesbians or, better yet, both. And by this close to midnight, most of the attendees were generally engaged in activities far more interesting than waltzing and criticizing others' apparel. Nor was he accustomed to being surrounded by so many law-abiding citizens at once - that was, unless he was planning to relieve them of their valuables. But if he did that tonight, his host would be quite put out with him. And he had promised his lover that he would be on his best behavior this evening.

The sacrifices I make for true love, Dorian thought as the man in question approached. Klaus certainly did justice to a tuxedo. And he looked as bored on this formal occasion as Dorian felt.

As Klaus drew near, a tiny flash of green caught Dorian's eye. "You're wearing them!"

"Of course I'm wearing them. Didn't you want me to?"

Dorian gazed approvingly at the emerald cufflinks that relieved the correct black and white of Klaus's tux. They were his Christmas present to his love. He had given them to him late the previous night, when they had been blessedly alone. The memory warmed his smile. "I'll make a silk purse out of you yet, my dear boar's ear," he teased.

Klaus straightened his bow tie, which didn't need it. "I knew you'd come up with another boar joke soon," he said coolly.

"Are they getting boorish?" Dorian asked innocently.

Klaus grimaced. "That has to be the worst one yet."

"I thought the worst one was when I called you a male chauvinist boar."

Klaus shrugged. "I can't dispute that one." He surveyed the large ballroom again, either checking to see if there was anyone else he still had to be polite to or else scanning for dangerous people from force of habit. Then his eyes went back to Dorian, and the glint in them was the only thing about the Major that was not completely correct and discreet.

Klaus's eyes stopped at Dorian's earlobes. Impudently Dorian shook back his curls to display his pearl stud earrings. He couldn't really dress like himself at a formal ball at Schloss Eberbach, but who could object to pearls?

"As you see, I'm casting pearls before boars, Major," he teased. Best not to use Klaus's name, or worse, "darling", in public.

The Major gazed at the earrings with resignation. "I suppose I should just be glad they're not flashy."

"This party could use something flashy. Do you suppose any of these august personages actually enjoy this sort of thing?" When Klaus only shrugged, Dorian persisted, "Do you?"

"Of course not. I detest parties of any kind."

"You actually give a Christmas party every year?"

"It is an Eberbach tradition. I have no choice."

"In a boar's eye."

"Just so."

"You really are a slave to tradition, you know that?"

"Speaking of tradition-" Klaus signaled to a servant, who nodded in comprehension and disappeared. "You went to Oxford, did you not?"

"The Earls of Gloria always do. Tradition, as you say," Dorian admitted ruefully.

"In any case, I heard about an interesting Yuletide tradition they have there. A procession, and… a carol."

"Oh, you mean the-" Dorian stopped. Klaus was looking across the ballroom, at the north entrance. The doors were opening, and the choir from the church the Eberbachs had attended for time immemorial was coming through it at a carefully measured pace. And the boy leading the way was holding....

"You didn't," Dorian murmured as the song began. But Klaus had.

Dorian couldn't help a rather embarrassing rush of nostalgia at the opening of a song he hadn't heard in years.

"The boar's head in hand bear I
Bedecked with bays and rosemary
And I pray you, my masters, be merry
Quot estis in convivio

Caput apri defero, Reddens laudes domino."

Dorian found that his cheeks were warm. He stole a glance at Klaus. Did Klaus realize...?

"The boar's head, as I understand,
Is the rarest dish in all this land,
Which thus bedecked with a gay garland
Let us servire cantico.

Caput apri defero, Reddens laudes domino."

It was impossible to tell. Klaus did have the look of a cat with yellow feathers on his whiskers, but what exact message had he intended to convey with the old carol...?

"Our steward hath provided this
In honor of the King of bliss
Which, on this day to be served is
In Reginensi atrio.

Caput apri defero, Reddens laudes domino."

Dorian sighed, not unhappily. "This round to you, Major," he murmured.