"Yet imitate the angels song
And chant their christmass ditty still"
"Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King!"
The final notes resound around the church, joy audible in all present. Pat slips his hand into Cap's and squeezes gently as the vicar blesses those present, a moment of silence during rapidly into chitchat. Absence of faith hasn't stopped Cap's childhood tradition of going to church on Christmas Eve, and it was one he was keen to return to after years of serving abroad or being on duty.
Pat makes quiet conversation with the woman sat next to him, agreeing on how lovely the service was and how adorable the various children looked in their Christmas jumpers. Cap doesn't join the conversation but rather let the hubbub wash over him, taking in the candles, the atmosphere, and the carols still ringing in his mind. He says a quiet prayer for his late grandmother, who had always been there to make sure he had an order of service to follow- knowing what would come next was always a quiet reassurance.
They'll leave soon, head home for a late supper and Pat will snag him for a kiss under the mistletoe on the kitchen door. Then hot drinks on the sofa, legs pressed together as they half watch whatever is on, dozing in the heady mists of nostalgia and cozy blankets.
"Thou day of happy sound and mirth
That long wi childish memory stays"
There's something about the sight that stops Pat for a minute. He's embroiled in getting the Boxing Day spread on the table, and should be mashing potatoes, but that can all wait for a minute as he watches his husband and his son carefully construct a Lego X-Wing. Cap's never been a natural with children, but he and Daley have a rapport built around building models and talking about vehicles of every possible type, and it seems to work for them. Daley still comes to his Dad when he skins his knee, still crawls into Pat's lap sometimes during the scary bit of a film, but he's more comfortable with his stepdad now.
And Cap is getting better too, has listened to how Pat guides his son to find an answer for himself rather than immediately providing it, is getting better at listening to Daley's rambling stories about school.
So Pat just takes a minute to watch them with their heads bents over piles of tiny bricks, talking surprisingly quietly for Daley, as they work out what goes where next.
As if he senses being watched, Cap glances up at him, smiles gently, before going back to the construction site. Pat sneaks his phone out for a quick picture before returning to the potatoes that won't mash themselves.
"While in the dark the lovers steal
To kiss and toy behind the screen"
There's a faint whoop behind him that sounds distinctly like Robin and he dare not look to see what on earth is happening. It'll most likely end with something broken, as seems to happen at most of Julian's parties, but he's yet to show any sign of caring. More money than sense that one, his reelection an absolutely astounding decision by the general public.
Still, they're having fun, the food was good, and Cap took a turn on the dance floor with Kitty as requested, for a waltz entirely at odds and out of time with the Lady Gaga track playing. Over her shoulder from time to time he'd spot his husband pulling out his best dad dance moves alongside Thomas' oddly coltish motions.
But at this point the noise and his increasingly tactile friends are beginning to be enough. He slips outside to the patio and leads back against the cold wall, shivering slightly from the sudden drop in temperature. The music is now fainter, but he presses his hands over his ears for a moment to reorient himself.
It takes a few increasingly chilly moments to find his equilibrium, before he can relocate himself to the edge of the patio to look out over the garden.
He's been outside less than 10 minutes when he hears very deliberate footsteps, so as not to startle him. It makes him smile, and he half turns as arms loop round his waist.
"Thought I'd find you out here. Good timing too, it's only about 10 to midnight. Julian's got a bunch of fireworks to set off, you gonna be ok?"
"Inside, I think"
So as the others make their way outside, the two of them head to a garden facing window, spotting Thomas sat at the window in the next room over.
The rapid placement of earplugs later, and they're ready for the countdown, Pat with one arm around his waist and both hands held firmly.
"5, 4, 3, 2, 1…"
Cries of 'Happy New Year" are almost lost under a beautiful explosion, and he turns to kiss Pat as the sky becomes flowers of light.