I know it's far too early to be writing about Christmas, but I felt like writing something Christmassy! I'm going back to uni in a week, which means I'm already counting down the days until Christmas as that's when I'll next be home :(
Thank you so much to the lovely people who left me reviews for the last chapter! :)
All these characters belong to Rainbow Rowell.
I'm ambushed by Snow the second I step foot through his front door. He plants a quick kiss on my cheek before dragging me to the centre of his living room. Their coffee table has been pushed aside, and in its place is a massive cardboard box with a picture of a Christmas tree on it.
"You're late!" he whines. "We were supposed to get started half an hour ago."
I unwind my scarf from my neck and shake out my soaking wet hair (it's typical British winter weather outside: no snow, but the rain gets colder).
"Sorry Snow, had to go and speak to a lecturer."
Bunce is sat on the sofa, hiding her exasperated grin behind a cup of tea. Simon is now hacking the box open non-magickally, with a pair of kitchen scissors.
"Alright, Bunce?" I say.
She nods at me, then gets up and heads towards her bedroom.
"Have fun, boys," she says, patting me on the shoulder as she passes.
"What, you're not staying?" I ask, mildly distressed. Bunce's presence would inject some much needed sense into the proceedings. Sense is clearly in short supply around here: Simon is currently unpacking the Christmas tree components and exclaiming in delight at each almost identical piece.
Bunce laughs. "No chance. I already had to go through this with my brothers and sisters last weekend." She mouths "good luck" at me before going into her room and shutting the door behind her. Smart girl.
With a sigh, I kneel down next to Simon. "Okay, I think I've figured this out," he says. "That one is the base. These are all trunk pieces. And this pile here is the branch pieces."
"Good to know," I say, as I extract my wand from my sleeve. I wave it over the tree pieces and incant "All together n-" before Simon grabs my wrist, looking horrified.
"We can't use magic! It'll take all the fun out of it!"
I glance at the box. "Snow, this says it takes 3 hours to assemble."
"Better get started then, hadn't we?" he pouts.
I sense that this isn't an argument I'm going to win. "Can I at least grab something to eat first? Some of us haven't had dinner yet."
"Get a Domino's," Simon says absently. He's lost interest in me now that I've agreed to assemble the tree without magic, and is instead trying to screw the first trunk piece into the base. I shrug my coat off, then retrieve my phone from my bag and find the number. Ordering pizza has become a bit of a habit for us. Snow is still adjusting to cooking the Normal way and can't even make an omelette without setting the kitchen on fire, and between Watford and our house in Hampshire I've never had to cook for myself. The only time we eat any decent food is when Bunce cooks for us, which she won't do often because we can't rely on her to do the cooking just because she's a girl, I'm only cooking just this once because you two are so bloody helpless.
I order our usual, then go and assist Snow with the tree. Thankfully the pizza only takes 20 minutes to arrive (much longer and I would have eaten Snow). I'm getting us some drinks from the kitchen when I hear him shout through "while you're up…" from the living room.
"Yeah?" I shout back.
"Put some Christmas music on," he pleads.
I return to the living room specifically so that I can roll my eyes at him. "Come on Snow, I'm already at seasonal merriment capacity."
"Please?" he says, blinking wide, blue, puppy-dog eyes up at me. Damn him. Damn him and his goddamn gorgeous eyes.
"Fine," I huff, and head over to Snow and Bunce's not exactly state of the art CD player. There's a pile of Christmas CD's stacked next to it, purchased by Snow from various charity shops. I flick through the pile and try to decide which would be the least nauseating.
Snow beams at me as I sit back down next to him. We munch our way through the food, then resume work on the tree. Snow and I chat amiably about our days as we work, and little by little my seasonal gloom starts to retreat. The song playing currently is actually quite catchy, and I hum along happily as I arrange the branches on the piece I just attached. At least, until I catch Snow looking at me with one eyebrow raised and an amused grin on his face.
"You were humming."
I scowl. "No I wasn't."
"You so were." He laughs and shakes his head at me, then resumes arranging branches. I do the same, resisting the urge to start humming again (it's a really catchy song).
When the CD finishes, Simon gets up to put a new CD on. When I hear the all too familiar intro to that song by Slade, I groan.
He just laughs. The second song on the CD is Last Christmas by Wham!. We both look up at each other when we realise what song it is. He gets up and drags me to my feet, and before I know what's happening we're spinning around the living room hand in hand, singing the ridiculously cheesy lyrics to each other.
By the time the song finishes we're completely out of breath and laughing our heads off. I wrap my arms around Snow's waist and rest my forehead against his, trying to get my breath back. Still laughing, he takes advantage of my face being in such close proximity and kisses me. I can feel him smiling under my lips. I love you, Simon Snow, I think to myself. I love you even though you like really bad Christmas music.
It takes another hour after that to finish the tree, during which I endure a truly abhorrent selection of Christmas songs. When the last branch is finally in place we step back to admire our handiwork.
"Got to hand it to you, Snow, it doesn't look half bad."
"It'll look better when it's decorated."
I turn to him in horror. "You mean we're not done?"
"Of course we're not done. Have you ever heard of a Christmas tree without decorations?"
"We don't have any decorations."
"I know. We're going to buy some tomorrow."
I close my eyes. "Snow, if I can survive a whole day of ceaselessly irritating Christmas shoppers without tearing out someone's jugular it'll be a Christmas miracle."
I lose this particular battle (you know how in Shrek 2 everyone goes all mushy when Puss in Boots does the eye thing? Yeah, that's me and Snow. I can't say no to those eyes).
We return to the flat the next day after having purchased:
1) 3 sets of baubles (one of black and white glass baubles chosen by me, one of traditional green and red baubles with Santa's and reindeers on chosen by Snow, and one of oddly shaped purple and blue glittery baubles also chosen by Snow so that Bunce will be represented on the tree too)
2) Excessive amounts of red tinsel ("Tinsel is gaudy, Snow." "Don't be such a Grinch, Baz.")
3) 2 strings of multi-coloured fairy lights
4) 1 gingerbread latte (Snow)
5) 1 pumpkin mocha breve (me)
6) 3 butter and treacle pancakes (mostly Snow)
He starts laying it all out on the sofa as soon as we get back. My supply of goodwill is just about depleted and I feel a sudden spark of irritation.
"Can't we at least have a 5 minute break before we start getting all this stuff out?"
He looks like he's going to slam down the box of decorations he's holding, but thinks better of it and places it carefully on the sofa before turning to face me and glaring.
"What is your problem, Baz? You've been in a mood all day, and to be honest, it's starting to piss me off."
"I'm not in a mood, Snow. I'm just fed up of having Christmas paraphernalia shoved down my throat."
"Crowley, Baz, I'm hardly shoving it down your throat."
I take a step back gesture broadly at the tree, the CD's, and our shopping bags. "What do you call this then?"
He throws his arms up in the air and turns away. "Fine then. Whatever. If it's too Christmassy around here for you, feel free to leave. Try not to trip over the hundreds of decorations we bought on your way out."
I feel my fangs erupt from my gums (they pop out when I get angry) and slice into my lower lip, which bloody hurts.
"Crowley. Ow." Holding my hand to my mouth, I snarl "Fine then", and storm out, making sure to slam the door shut behind me.
I get into my car, but don't start the engine. Instead I lean back in my seat and close my eyes, feeling the uncomfortable sensation of my fangs sliding back in. My anger has already subsided. I wasn't really angry in the first place, just… drained. I picture Snow upstairs in his flat, sat alone surrounded by all those ridiculous Christmas decorations. I want to be your boyfriend. Your terrible boyfriend. Snow said those words to me almost a year ago now, and the irony isn't lost on me. It's not him who's the terrible boyfriend; it's me.
In a second I fly out of the car and up the stairs, and burst back into the flat. He's sat on the sofa with his head in his hands, looking as dejected as I felt a moment ago. He looks up as I enter and blinks in surprise.
"You came back."
"I never left. I was sat in the car."
I kneel down in front of him and hug him tightly to me, one hand on his back and the other clutching the back of his neck.
"I'm sorry," I say into his shoulder.
"Me too," comes his muffled reply. We draw apart, and I shove aside some of the boxes so I can sit next to him on the sofa.
"I know this time of year is... tough," I say, carefully. "I'm feeling it too. Is it… all this Christmas stuff, is it because of what happened last year?" He shakes his head.
"No… I mean, yeah, that's part of it, but…"
Use your words, Simon.
He takes a deep breath. "You're right that part of the reason why I'm trying so hard is because last year was, well, pretty much the worst Christmas any of us could have imagined. But that isn't… That's not the only reason. It's like… I've never had a proper Christmas before. There would always be a tree and presents at whatever home I was at, but… You know. It was never… yeah. Even when I started going to the Wellbelove's for Christmas… I was still just a guest. And then last year… Well, you know what happened. But this year, for the first time I've got a proper home and you and Penny… I just thought maybe this year I could have a proper Christmas with the people I love."
Oh, Simon. I feel like the most selfish, inconsiderate boyfriend ever.
"Crowley, Snow…" I take his hand and press a kiss into his shoulder. "We can do Christmas. We'll have the best Christmas ever."
He squeezes my hand. I swear, a good 90% of our relationship consists of hand-holding.
"Why are you the boy who hates Christmas, Baz?" he asks softly.
"I don't hate it," I reply. "It was just never the same without my mum. We make an effort now for the little ones, but it's too late for me." My voices catches a little as I say that last bit, so I clear my throat to cover it.
Snow's eyes are wide and sad. I feel a sudden urge to lighten the mood.
"Plus, in recent years, Christmas meant spending 2 weeks apart from you," I joke. "How could I enjoy it when I knew that you were off with Wellbelove, getting up to all sorts of festive fun?"
He has the decency to blush.
"I don't know what you're implying, but a typical Christmas with Agatha involved me dragging her off on a mission of some kind, and her complaining the whole time that my fulfilling my destiny as the Chosen One will make us late for their Christmas party. I missed you too, over Christmas."
I roll my eyes. "No, you didn't. It just drove you crazy thinking of all the evil plots I could come up with in 2 weeks."
He knocks his shoulder into mine. "I did miss you. I just didn't know it at the time."
"You're an idiot, Snow."
"Yeah, I think we established that when it took me 7 years to realise that I'm in love with you."
Every time I hear those words "I'm in love with you", it gives me very warm, fuzzy un-vampire-like feelings. I seize one of the boxes that I shoved aside and hold it on my lap.
"Right. We've got a lot of work to do, so we'd better get started. I'll lay out all the decorations, because I can unpack them with magic and I don't trust you with those scissors. You put the Christmas music on."
He smiles widely at me, then takes my face in his hands and kisses me.
"What was that for?" I ask when we break apart.
"Being perfect," he says. He steals another quick kiss before bouncing over to the stereo. To my own surprise, I find myself thinking that Christmas music isn't so bad.
Hours later, we're finally finished. Snow runs round the flat and turns all the lights out, then stands in front of the tree staring mesmerised at the flickering fairy lights. I move to stand behind him and rest my chin on his shoulder (he's the perfect height for that). He leans back into me, and we stay like that for a while.
"Happy Christmas, Snow," I murmur.
"Happy Christmas, Baz."