Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Santa, Krampus
Challenge/Prompt: faeriewish13 Monsters of Christmas Bingo: Krampus
Word Count: 1,272
Date Written: 12 December 2017
Disclaimer: This one's mine!
Sometimes, he wonders if all he does is worth it. It isn’t like he’s a family man waiting for retirement to spend time with those he loves. He works with the people he loves year round, and this is the only night he usually takes apart from his wife. But what he is, some might even consider to be worse. He has a family for whom he cares very much, and he brings joy to millions of families around the world on this magical night every year. But in addition to the joy, he also brings something far, far worse.
For all the good he brings into this world of strife and pain, he is accompanied by evil. Men have been saying for centuries that no good deed goes unpunished, and this surely is truer for no one moreso than himself. He delights in bringing happiness to children, but everywhere he goes, this monster accompanies him. He has access to the children, and although Santa is able to protect and give presents to the good children, he can not stop his companion from beating the wicked children or from doing much, much worse.
The old Saint stops outside another house and looks at the ancient Devil standing beside him. He feels a shudder pass through him as his eyes skim Krampus’ curled horns. He could stop this all now, he knows, right now. All he would have to do is to refuse to venture any further. If he does not go into any more houses, if he does encounter any more families, than neither will Krampus. But then neither, too, will the spirit of Christmas.
He is reminded of the three days Jesus spent being tempted by Lucifer himself. The Son of God resisted the greatest temptations for three days and three nights while Satan threw everything he could at Him. Jesus withstood it all and never once turned from His Father or his cause. Saint Nicholas squares his shoulders, knowing he must do the same. Children need Christmas not to the same level as they need the gift Jesus was able to give them all, but they still need Christmas.
He just wishes there was something he could do to stop Krampus, but in the end, much like mankind being given a choice between following God and following Satan, the children are given that choice. Every year, they can choose to be good and receive presents and blessings from him, or they can choose to be evil and endure their punishments at the end of the year by the twisted horns and gnarled claws of Krampus.
“Just don’t eat this one, okay?” he mutters finally glaring at the Demon.
Krampus actually smiles, and Santa feels a chill pass through him. The mortals think they are friends, this beastly Demon and himself, but nothing could be further from the truth. Krampus is, in a way, his very own curse for since the very beginning of time, there has always been a balance between Good and Evil. To tip the scales one way or the other would surely begin the end of time, and no one, Santa knows, is ready for that, even if they think they are. To bless the children, his blessings must be evened out with curses, and Krampus is the tool that is used to balance them all.
“I wouldn’t have ate the last one,” Krampus admits, his forked tongue slithering out of his foul mouth like a snake’s, “if he had not killed his mother. It was no accident she died that day. He was the reason that cart upturned, and at first he laughed and laughed when he thought she was only injured.”
“And when the boy realized his mistake,” Saint Nicholas demands in disbelief, “and that his own mother was truly dead?”
“He no longer laughed,” Krampus admitted, “but he also did not mourn. He smiled throughout the entire procession of her funeral.”
He shivers in the unseasonably warm wind. Perhaps some children deserved Krampus’ special brand of punishment after all. He would like to claim the Demon lied, but Krampus never lied about the children no more than he did. “And this family,” he asks, “whom we are about to visit?” He knows the soul of every child just as Krampus does, but sometimes he likes to be reminded. “What are their children’s sins?”
“The younger ones are innocent, but the older boy likes to pull the tails of cats and kittens alike and make horrid sounds.” The Demon smiles again, and this time, the silver moonlight reflects upon his sharp teeth. “Tonight, he will have his tail pulled.”
“But that is all?” Nicholas demands. “You will not eat him or send him to Hell?”
“No. Not tonight, old friend. Not yet for this one, at least. He still has some time in which he may be redeemed. Maybe having his own tail pulled will be just the medicine he needs."
Maybe that is so, Nicholas reflects. He knows very well that not all children are innocent. Some are as wicked as adults, if not worse. But if they can not learn to be good through their desire to earn presents, perhaps they can learn to be good through their desire not to suffer further. He has seen Krampus’ ways work before. Why, just two cities back they had visited a young girl who had had her sins quite nearly scared out of her last year, and this year, for the first time, he had been able to present her with a doll whose head she had not immediately severed.
“Perhaps,” Nicholas whispers and, with a finger pressed against his nose, lets them both into the house. Krampus slinks through the dark night, heading for the eldest boy’s room, while Saint Nicholas busies himself with leaving presents for the other two children, and a little something for their hard-working mother and father, beneath their meager Christmas tree.
He’s just placed the last gift to them when he hears a scream. He bolts upright but resists the urge to run toward the boy’s cry. Instead, he looks again at the meager tree, doing its best to shine, and waves a hand at it. Its branches grow in size and lushness. Its sparkling decorations brighten, and it grows an extra foot or two. Nicholas busies himself with the tree while Krampus makes the boy pay for his crimes.
When the Demon finally rejoins the Saintly Elf, the tree has grown almost into an entirely different plant. It’s more regal and more beautiful, and the family will gasp with delight when they see it in the morning, all but the young boy who will still be hiding underneath his bed at that early hour. Nicholas glances at Krampus, who is grinning with glee. “I have a feeling,” the Demon says, “that boy will pull no more tails.”
“I hope you’re right,” Santa admits and, pressing a finger to his nose once more, moves them back out into the Christmas Eve night. He may not like cursing the children. He may wish to be able to do anything but bring them harm, but just as there is an important reason he is destined to give the gifts he does, there is an equally important reason why Krampus has the destiny he does -- and, Nicholas supposes, perhaps even that their destinies are entwined. Without quite as much hesitation this time, he moves them onto the next house and the next and the next after it until, at last, their missions are completed for another year of giving, cursing, and teaching.