Prompted by Ciel when I asked on Mastodon/Misskey* for something to write last night, err, last night of when I'm scheduling this one, i.e., Monday night the 13th.
The days around the winter solstice were hard.
They weren't bad, not in the way that some days were for Erelkala, not in the way that the days in early autumn had been this year or the ones in late spring the year before - which had nothing to do with the sun in the sky and everything to do with her stars, as it were.
But they were hard.
She lay on the roof of her building, in the little divot she'd created where nobody in this weird city could see her and where the sun, where the sun could see every inch of her.
It was cold. This city was not the place for someone like her, except that in every way except the snow and the bone-chilling cold, the icy winds and the unrelenting rains, the mobsters to the east and the Creepers to the north, the corrupt mayor and the strange pontiff and the way everyone wanted you to be clothed completely all the time - in every way except those, this city was perfect for her.
So Erelkala found ways around the problems. There were houses with protected courtyards, but she couldn't afford one of those yet. There were estates inside the city but with their own walls and guards and rolling yards, but she couldn't afford one of those for a long time.
So she clambered up to her roofspot and took off every stitch of clothes and lay in the sun as long as she could stand, every day, regardless of the cold, soaking up the power and the magic until she could feel it in her fingertips.
And then she made her way back down, clothed herself from head to toe once she had warmed herself by the fire, and made her way out into the city.
And out there, out in the cold, even in the middle of winter, she walked among the mobsters and the Creepers. She let the sunlight trickle back out of her - carefully, carefully; in midsummer, even here, she could sit with her face in the sun for five minutes and be recharged, but in winter, in winter there was so much less sun - and let the magic slide into the dark places of people's hearts and minds.
Not everyone could be lit up. Not everyone could afford to be good, not yet.
But Erelkala smiled at a Creeper, the right smile, the sweet one with all the sunlight powering it, and he turned all of that creepy, malignant energy on rebuilding a broken-down apartment building so that it could house dozens of people. She let just enough sunshine - and then a little - warm the way she spoke to a mobster, and he asked exactly the right question of his superior, and so on, until a whole family survived.
In the summer, she could reach up her hands and make a whole building cleaner, safer, nicer. In the winter, she had to move in smaller ways.
She smiled at a police officer and caught his hand, letting her warmth slide through him. He decided that vagrancy wasn't really a crime, after all, and instead bought the lady sleeping on the park bench a hot lunch and a better shawl.
If the park itself seemed to light up a bit, the conifers leaning towards, Erelkala, well, that was the nature of solar magic, after all.