Alice and Bella sat on the sofa, gazing intently at the large plasma screen. Some kind of cartoon was playing on it, and the human sipped a hot chocolate occasionally.
Edward appeared at the foot of the stairs and walked silently to the back of Bella's seat, putting his hands at either side of her shoulders and watching her for a reaction, but she didn't seem to notice him, only shifting position a little to accommodate the drop of temperature behind her.
Alice's eyes strayed toward her brother, and she allowed herself to smile a little before returning to the Christmas film Bella was obviously enjoying.
Edward ducked his head down, smiling crookedly, and Bella yelped as she got a full view of upside-down golden eyes. Alice grabbed the hot chocolate before it was dropped, and reached for the remote to pause the movie.
Thumpthumpthump. Thumpthumpthump. Edward chuckled as his love's heartbeat slowed down gradually. "Good evening."
"Edward Cullen!" Bella stormed, but couldn't hide a small smile at his homecoming from a hunting trip with Emmett, Jasper and Carlisle. Esme has seized the opportunity to straighten up the house and clean the kitchen, making hot chocolate for Bella and getting out some mysterious boxes from the basement.
Edward went around the sofa to sit beside her, still grinning. "Sorry, love."
Alice handed back the hot chocolate, and started the movie over. Edward turned his head to watch for a few seconds.
A dog with a stick tied to its head was attached to a flying sled with a sack and a peculiar green creature, who was speaking in rhyme.
"May I ask what on Earth you're watching?"
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Bella replied immediately, leaning against him.
"Don't tell me you've never watched it!" she took on a shocked expression. "Everyone watches this at Christmas. Everyone!"
"Well, I've never heard of it. You can't steal Christmas."
"Mm, but he tried."
"Because he hated Christmas."
"What's wrong with Christmas?"
"Nothing. But he didn't, because all the children in Whosville laugh."
"Whosville? And who's he?"
"The Grinch!" Bella sighed, exasperated. "You know, Dr Seuss?"
"I've heard of him. Dr Seuss was the Grinch?" he pointed at the laughing green figure onscreen.
"No, he wrote about the Grinch and it was turned into a kid's movie."
"Ahh." Looking satisfied with the explanation, he put an arm around Bella and watched the movie without complaint, only chuckling occasionally.
"So, what other Christmas traditions have I been left out of?" he asked Bella quietly as the credits rolled.
She thought. "Do you decorate the house?"
"Every year!" Alice said delightedly.
"Should've known." Bella laughed. "I'm guessing you don't have Christmas dinner."
"You guess right. But we do pull Christmas crackers, outside."
Alice and Edward sniggered.
"Emmett gets a little...enthusiastic. A few years ago he pulled so hard, he propelled himself through the kitchen window."
Bella had to work not to spit out her hot chocolate.
Alice got a blank on her face for a few seconds, and Edward glanced over, obviously watching her vision too. "It's snowing tomorrow morning."
Bella frowned. "Snow? Ugh."
He chuckled. "Hey, snow's fun. Don't you like snowball fights? And sledding?
"I can barely walk on solid ground, Edward, how do you think I deal with walking on slippery ice? Can't we stay inside?"
Edward laughed, putting a finger to her lips. "Nope. Tomorrow morning - it's a date."
Edward appeared at the window, quietly going over to Bella who appeared to be just waking up.
"Good morning." he whispered, and her eyes flickered open drowsily. "Don't you want to go outside?"
Bella suddenly groaned. "It's snowing, right?"
"Oh, right." Edward understood. "You don't like snow. But it's really good for packing."
Bella shook her head, closing her eyes again.
"Please?" he somehow managed to put smoldering eyes into his voice, and she tried to glare at him, failing. "You'll have fun. Alice is coming out."
Bella stayed silent for a few seconds, then threw the covers off and walked sleepily to the bathroom. "You owe me."
"Oh, you'll have fun." Edward assured her, sitting on the rocking chair.
Edward walked a few meters ahead, well aware that at any minute Bella was going to throw a snowball at him. Probably miss, but it would of course start a war.
In fact, he was walking right in front of her in as straight a line as possible, almost asking for it. The snow crunched quietly under him, and he waited. The footsteps behind him paused for a second, then went on quicker as Bella ducked down and scooped up a handful of snow. He heard it crackling between her mittens as she rolled it into a ball, and smiled – but pretended not to notice. He heard it leave her hand and stepped very slightly to the left so it would hit him square in the back, then spun around, acting surprised. "Isabella Marie Swan!"
"Edward Anthony Masen Cullen!"
"Don't you Edward Anthony Masen Cullen me!" he started scooping up a snowball, human-speed, as Bella did the same. "Fire one." he tossed it at her, but it hit her harder than he intended.
She laughed and threw one at him. He stood still, letting it hit him square in the chest.
"You're letting me win!" she realized, looking put out.
"No, you're just amazingly skilled at snowballing. Silly Bella. But I won't hold back any more!" he laughed, making snowballs faster than she could and throwing them gently.
"Woman down!" she cried, running away.
In a second he was beside her, jogging. "Do you surrender?"
Edward threw a torrent of snowballs, intentionally missing every so often. She fell to the ground, and Edward crouched beside her, eyes wide that he'd actually hurt her. "Bella! What's wrong?"
"White flag." she sighed.
Edward laughed, then glanced up as footsteps on fresh snow reached his sensitive ears. "Alice and Emmett are coming."
"Alice is on my side!" Bella said immediately.
"Sides? So it's a snowball war you want? I thought you were Switzerland."
"Only part-time." Bella grinned, taking advantage of their position by grabbing some snow and stuffing it into his face.
"I'm blinded!" he chuckled, shaking his head with tightly shut eyes.
"I'm with Bella!" Alice called, approaching them. Emmett was running, excited.
"Oh? But I have Emmett, snowball champion!" Next thing Bella knew, Alice was stumbling back from a large snowball in the face.
"How am I gonna compete with that speed?" She complained.
"Oh, that's not the point. Just mess up this beautiful snowy scene and get your hands numb." Alice reassured her.
A few seconds later, snowballs were coloring the air. Well, they would be if they weren't white. Edward was holding up at a steady two-snowballs-a-second, Bella at a meager one snowball every three seconds, which usually missed. Edward would usually jump in its path and act as if he hadn't seen it.
This continued for about half an hour before Bella leaned against a tree, exhausted. The branches above her shook and their weight of snow tumbled on top of her.
Edward stared, eyes wide, and then burst out laughing as her voice came out under the hat of snow. "Lovely."
"Lovely." he agreed, going over and brushing her off. "You win."