Four Christmases Blair Spends With Nate (And One She Doesn't)

Disclaimer: Once again I own nothing, although I've been a very good girl- maybe Ed Westwick will be waiting under my tree? (pleasepleaseplease)

A/N: Still getting used to writing this fandom, so any constructive criticism on characterization is more than welcome. No real spoilers, though knowledge of season 3 is sort of expected. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!! (I myself celebrate Christmas and Chanukah)

I:

Christmas of Sophomore year is by far the worst she's ever experienced. While Serena's and Chuck's Christmases aren't exactly the holidays that dreams are made of, Blair and Nate have largely been untouched by familial strife and so generally enjoy the holiday season. This year, however, Blair's world has been thoroughly rocked. Serena has been gone since she disappeared without a trace the past summer, with Harold Waldorf hot on her heels. In a span of weeks Blair's entire existence had shifted as she was left alone with only her boyfriend, who couldn't seem to meet her eyes, and his best friend who now looked at her with something new in his own gaze.

Still the show must go on, and so the annual Waldorf party went off without a hitch. Her new status as Queen was further solidified as the minions oohed and aahed over the Eleanor Waldorf original she wore while hosting, Nate stood by her side dutifully (if uncomfortably), and Chuck provided entertainment value as always. She even shared a chaste kiss with both boys while greeting them under the mistletoe. And at the end of the night, as the party died down, Nate pulled her aside, expertly wrapped gift box in his hand.

"Merry Christmas, Blair" he said softly, leaning in to kiss her cheek. She opened it and smiled widely- he had taken the hint and bought her the platinum locket she had put on hold. He had even gone a step further and put a picture of the two of them inside.

"Thank you, Nate. I love it." His eyes shone and he smiled widely, and as he put the necklace around her neck she felt as though they were truly connecting for the first time in months.

Nate left shortly after, accompanying his mother, leaving only the caterers. And Chuck Bass.

"What are you still doing here, Bass? No sad, lonely girls to take home?"

"But you're already home, Blair" he serves back, expertly.

Blair smiled wryly. Every once in awhile she appreciated that Chuck Bass could read her like a book, and stopped fighting it. The end of this long night of pretending was one such occasion.

"Touché, Chuck. But you really should leave. I'm going to bed. Alone", she cuts him off before he can get a smarmy word in.

He looks down for a moment and, if she didn't know him so well, she could swear he's blushing.

"I, uh, I just wanted to give you your present." He hands her two gifts. One is obviously a jewelry box, but the other throws her off.

She opens the box wordlessly and is taken aback by what she finds. She has grown even more attached to the ruby ring given to her by her father since he left, and she is stunned to find a delicate, matching bracelet before her.

"Chuck…thank you." He nods gently, a small smile playing on his lips, while he gestures toward the second gift. If possible, it's even more unexpected. It's a picture of the four of them two summers ago, at the Archibald compound in the Hamptons. Nate and Chuck lounge on pool chairs, Blair and Serena strewn across their respective laps with their arms around each other. She tries to glare at him, but she can feel the tears already.

"Look, I know you got rid of all your pictures with her. You don't want to remember now, I get that. But one day you will. Just…hold on to it until then."

She knows she won't be able to speak without her voice cracking, so she nods in assent and pulls him in for a hug.

"Thanks, Bass" she whispers.

"Anytime, B."

She falls asleep clutching the picture and when she dreams of Christmas future, the wrong boy is by her side.


II.

Two years ago, Blair Waldorf thought she was experiencing the worst Christmas of her life. Present-Blair would like to go back and shake her younger self. She had Chuck, eighteen year old Blair thinks bitterly, there was nothing to complain about. While Serena and her father had been more obviously important to her, Chuck Bass was Blair's equilibrium, her center of gravity. She hadn't realized it until recently, but for nearly a decade and a half, Chuck Bass had been her constant. And somewhere along the way, he had become the most important person in her life, the keeper of her heart. So she tried to get in the Christmas spirit, but it steadily eluded her.

Nate, Serena, and herself eschewed the usual Christmas parties for a private soiree at the empty Waldorf penthouse. Anne Archibald, though recovering, wasn't up to hosting a grand Vanderbilt ball, and no one in the Van Der Bass home was feeling particularly cheery, so the three friends' moods suited each other. Blair's was the only family expected to celebrate, (though they might be more inclined to throw a Chanukah bash these days), but at Blair's insistence the Waldorf-Rose honeymoon was extended by a few more weeks.

Blair did appreciate the presence of her friends. She marvels at the fact that two years ago Serena and Nate were the only people she actively cared about seeing, and now they are nothing but a consolation prize. Her heart, and her Christmas spirit, are far from her- somewhere in Thailand, last she heard. But despite the less than desirable conditions surrounding this Christmas, the three do enjoy themselves- as much as they can. They watch Serena's choice, White Christmas, (not one of Blair's favorites, which suits her mood just fine) and follow up with Nate's pick of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the cartoon original, he insists. It's a classic.) For the first time, maybe ever, Blair refrains from picking a movie for them to watch. (Audrey doesn't do Christmas, she insists. Really she just doesn't have it in her to care- it's not as if she sees the images in front of her anyway.) So she sips at her (half-brandy) eggnog, and watches as the lights glitter against the too-light hair that surrounds her. (Blonde and blue used to mean beauty to her, but now she misses black hair and nearly-black eyes.)

Blair crawls into bed just before midnight, curled up with an Irish hot chocolate, It's a Wonderful Life playing in front of her. She's not usually one for a television in her bedroom, but she hasn't slept for more than two hours at a time since the night she fell asleep with Chuck beside her. Besides, she could use the miserable company tonight. Though she was always resolutely against watching this particular movie during the holiday season (how could anyone call this movie happy? A joyful final minute does not a happy movie make. And anyway, he's still poor at the end- what's the point?), but she finds it suits her mood this year. She just hopes she falls asleep before George Bailey is reunited with all of his family and friends at the end.

She's just gotten comfortable under the covers and pressed play on the movie when she hears her text alert. If it's another Gossip Girl blast about a reported Chuck Bass sighting, she thinks she'll scream- or perhaps take a page from the George Bailey handbook and just jump off a bridge. She can't help but check it though, and she's rewarded for her efforts. The text itself is simple, generic almost, but the identification of the texter is enough to get her heart racing.

Message From: Chuck Bass. Message: Merry Christmas, Blair.

He's alive, is her first thought. It's been a question plaguing her for the past few days, the last time there was solid evidence of his activity. He's sober enough to use punctuation, she thinks next, and she could cry with relief. Even brief moments of lucidity is more than she was hoping for. He's thinking about me, she realizes finally. It's not much- he's still not home, and there's no guarantee that he'll be back anytime soon. But it's something, and it's so much more than she'd expected when she woke up (she uses the term loosely) this morning. Blair shuts off the movie and lays down with the phone in her hand, just in case. She sleeps through the night for the first time in nearly three weeks.


III.

Blair's first Christmas as Chuck Bass's girlfriend is perfect. Christmas Day the pair flies out together to visit both sets of Blair's parents in France, and then they spend the next week locked away in a Bass-owned suite (he still gets the perks of his name, though he's severed ties to the family business) in Paris. She gets dozens of presents from Harold and Roman and Eleanor and Cyrus- and a penthouse full from Chuck (it will be years before he stops equating spending money with demonstrating love, and even then it never leaves him completely). After the drama that ushered in December, the quiet holiday break the two share is all Blair really wants, and she is pleasantly surprised that Chuck is with her the entire time, in body and mind. But as wonderful as her Christmas is, it is Christmas Eve 2009 that makes all the difference for Blair.

It's the first December 24th that all four of the Non-Judging Breakfast Club members are present for since the Christmas they are fifteen. That alone is enough to make Blair giddy, but all four- as well as their relationships with each other- have been tried in the last few months, and it feels like they are finally coming out on the other side of it all. Blair is, if not happy, settling in at school, Chuck's biggest problem is trying to find time for both his demanding private and professional lives- a difficulty he is happy to negotiate, and Nate and Serena…well, Nate and Serena need some help. This is what Blair informs Chuck, anyway, while detailing her plan to force the two together. The two are cuddled up in bed together and Blair explains that really the two are meant for each other, they just need a push in the right direction. She catches Chuck's grin, but she assumes it's just his natural reaction to her scheming. (She'll never know that Chuck grins at the thought of Blair working so hard to bring together the couple that, at one time, devastated her.)

When Nate and Serena arrive (together, Blair notes happily), Blair makes sure the suite is decked out with mistletoe at every corner and there are plenty of festive alcoholic drinks to be imbibed. It turns out, her plans are unnecessary. Serena happily informs her that she and Nate were now official, and the girls quickly devolved into screams. This is how the majority of the night progresses, Blair and Serena, tucked away in a corner, planning double dates and, in the future, coordinating weddings (after all, Nate did say he'd been in love with her for years. Nate and Chuck give each other wry smiles and shakes of the head, as if to ask how did we get ourselves into this mess? (Neither can hide the smile from their face.) As the chatter finally dies down, and the couples sit down to watch The Bishop's Wife (Blair, Serena, and Chuck all agree on a Cary Grant film- Nate's protests are readily ignored), Blair and Chuck curled up on the couch and Serena and Nate cuddled up on the floor), each of the friends is amazed by the single thought they all share- this is how it was supposed to be.

They exchange presents, Chuck handing out the most extravagant as usual, and eventually give in to Nate's request to watch The Grinch again- though Chuck vows never to let him live it down. And then, too soon for Blair's liking, it is time for Nate and Serena to depart. Both Serena and Nate will be spending the day at the Van Der Woodsen's (because no matter who lives there, it still belongs to them) suite, as neither feels particularly comfortable or welcome at the Van der Bilt compound this year. There is talk of perhaps meeting up at some point the following day, though Blair knows she will probably beg Chuck to leave as early as possible for France (and really, Nate and Serena can only come up for air for so long anyway.) Blair hugs Serena to her and kisses both of her best friend's cheeks. She grabs the blonde's face in her hands and looks her in the eyes as she declares happily, "You got it right this time, S." Serena nods in response and pulls Blair in for another hug. The earlier strife between them has only brought them closer, as usual, and to have both happy in healthy relationships, and happy with each other, is something to savor. As Nate turns to leave, Blair pulls him in tightly as well, and gives him a meaningful look before kissing his cheek. "You finally got her, Archibald. Don't screw it up." The couple that was groomed to be the next Camelot couple break away from each other and lean in to their respective partners.

This is how it was supposed to be. They finally got it right.


IV.

Blair's first (and only) Christmas as Chuck Bass's fiancée is decidedly less than perfect. Chuck is gone, traveling for business (the Empire really is the beginning of his empire, and she couldn't be prouder. Honest.) and Serena is on vacation with Van der Woodsen/Humphrey clan (Blair refuses to combine the ultimate Upper East Side name with one from Brooklyn). This leaves her alone with Nate, and while this normally wouldn't be much of a hardship, things between them had been…awkward lately. In spite of any expectations, it is Nate and Serena who have the tumultuous relationship, while Chuck and Blair have (fairly) smooth sailing. There are highs and lows, and plenty of fights, but unlike Serena and Nate, they refuse to "take a break", or "take time off to think" (and really, the veiled words make Blair cringe- either break up or don't. Though what can she expect from the two wishy-washiest people she knows?) No matter what's going on, they remain wholly devoted to one another.

This Christmas finds Nate and Serena in an "off-again" state and Blair wonders, not for the first time, if one day it will be permanent. She knows it's weighing on him heavily that Serena is off in a tropical location with Dan for, even though nothing romantic has happened between them since before the wedding, Dan and Vanessa just broke up, and one never can predict who will attract Serena at any given time. If this were the only circumstance, Blair would be fine spending the holiday with Nate. But there's something else. Something she's noticed for awhile, and something Serena brought to her attention recently.

"You must see it, B, the way Nate's been looking at you."

Blair scoffs, "Please Serena, he's just jealous because you two are in yet another break. Once you're back in his arms he'll forget all about me- like always."

Serena's voice is quiet when she continues. "It's different this time, Blair. It's…part of the reason we're taking time off. He's been looking at you. And the other night he told me he was confused."

Blair is dumbstruck. (And, okay, slightly flattered. It's not every day that a girl can pull a guy's radar away from Serena Van der Woodsen.) "This is so like him!" She erupts. "He always wants what he can't have. Well, you better tell him to get unconfused. This ring means I'm devoted to Chuck, and that won't change."

Serena eyes her warily. "Really? Even if it means the boy of your dreams wants to fight for you?"

"Dreams change. The boy of my dreams may want to fight now, but the man of my dreams claimed me as his a long time ago."

Serena gives her a small smile. "I hope you mean it, Blair. I don't thing you or Chuck would be much good without the other."

It's not much, but it sticks with her because it is true.

It sticks with her, that is, until Christmas day.

It's been almost two full days since the last time she's heard from Chuck, and Blair is depressed. She's worried about him, as the holidays are never an easy time for Chuck, but she's also worried for them. They've been together, officially, for more than five years, and though neither has cheated, or been particularly tempted to, she is also sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Surely Chuck Bass has Hong Kong hussies throwing themselves at him, and without a jealous girlfriend waiting to jump out of the wings. Maybe Nate's company will be good for her, she thinks (foolishly). Surely he'll reassure her.

"I don't know, B. Chuck's never been especially good with temptation."

"Gee, thanks Nate."

Nate sighs, "Look, I'm not trying to scare you, Blair. And I'm not saying Chuck is cheating. I'm just saying…prepare yourself for the possibility."

The ¼ eggnog, ¾ scotch she's drinking is only hurting the situation as she starts to unleash her deepest fears.

"Nate, has Chuck…said anything? About the engagement? I know he's been so wrapped up with business lately, is he feeling pressured?'

Nate's response is cagey at best. "It's not really my place to say, Blair." (She later learns, from the horse's mouth no less, that the answer to this question is a resounding NO.)

"But try not to get too worked up, Blair."

Fun fact: the easiest way to work Blair Waldorf up, is by telling her not to get worked up. (And seriously, did Nate major in manipulation at Columbia? Because he's gotten much more adept.)

"I know what it's like, I'm going crazy thinking about Serena. But we have to put them out of our minds, for tonight at least. We should try to enjoy Christmas together."

And try, they do. Nate tries his damnedest to cheer Blair up (her favorite caramelized banana and praline tart with coconut-lemongrass tapioca and ten flavor sorbet is delivered from the Modern and Nate insists on Breakfast at Tiffany's, thought there is no mention of Christmas in it whatsoever), and the sad fact is that Blair and Nate are both too oblivious for their own good. Blair never sees that this is a Hail Mary from her ex-boyfriend, and Nate doesn't realize that, once again (Cotillion, anyone?), his attempts at seduction have gone over Blair's head.

It is only when Nate moves to grab for the remote and instead leans in to kiss her (rookie move, Archibald), that Blair realizes what's going on. But it's Christmas, and she's lonely, and two eggnogs past sober, and so she doesn't move back. She doesn't move forward (she'll defend herself later), but she doesn't move back. She allows Nate to inch closer and closer, his lips about to touch hers, when her phone rings. She lunges for it, hoping against hope that it is Chuck, and is blown away by the last message she expected to see.

I couldn't bear to be away from you for Christmas, B. I know how much you love it. I caught an early flight from Hong Kong, with any luck I'll be home in fifteen. Love you, Blair.

Nate sees the soft smile on her face and drops his head.

"Nate, you need to leave."

He takes a deep breath, "Blair…I-"

Blair's voice is kind but firm. "Nate, before you say anything that will make salvaging our friendship impossible, go home. Let me spend the last few minutes of Christmas with my fiancé."

Chuck walks in the door twelve minutes later, with thirteen minutes to spare before December 26th. Before he can get the word 'Merry' out, Blair had launched herself into his arms.

"This is, by far, the best Christmas present ever" she whispers, her voice thick.

"Hey, that's supposed to be my line", he responds warmly.

She has decided, in the ten minutes since Nate left, that there is no need to tell Chuck about what happened tonight. She knows, without the shadow of a doubt, that she has no feelings for Nate. She was lonely, and sad, and drunk- and it is her job to make sure that she never puts herself in this situation again. There's no need to ruin Chuck's friendship with his best (only) male friend over a mistake that didn't even happen. She's made another decision in the short time span, and she's eager to share this one with him.

"I want to get married."

Chuck stares at her fondly, if not slightly confused. "That was the idea when I gave you the ring and you said yes."

Blair huffs, "I mean I want to get married soon. I know it's me who's been pushing for a long wait, with all my demands. I don't need any of that. I just need you."

Chuck's eyes light up, though his tone is guarded. "Are you sure, Blair? You know I want you to be happy. If carrying a bouquet of genetically enhanced roses planted the exact day I proposed is what it takes-"

"Bass? I was being crazy. I thought I needed a bunch of material things to make our wedding special. Hello, it's us! Of course it's going to be special. Even if we use pre-planted flowers. I just…I just missed you. A lot. And I don't want to spend a day longer than necessary, not being your wife."

As soon as the words leave her mouth, she is pulled into his arms. She knew he wanted to get married soon, but she was unaware of how strongly he felt about it. Of course, she thought. Because he put my feelings first. Again. She thinks that eventually she'll have to run out of new ways to fall in love with him. But she won't bet on it.

Two weeks later Blair Waldorf becomes Blair Waldorf-Bass, in what is commonly referred to as 'the wedding of the decade'. She figures it could have been the wedding of the century if she'd spent more time planning, but the weight of the rings on her finger are enough to drive the thought from her mind.


V.

For their first Christmas as a married couple, Blair purposefully avoids including Nate in her plans. Things have never quite gotten back to normal between them (his permanent split from Serena a definite factor), and while she trusts herself, she'll never trust Nate the same way again. Anyway, it's time to start traditions of their own now, and though Nate has been Chuck's friend for more than two decades, Christmas with her ex-boyfriend is not exactly the kind of custom Blair wants to begin.

Christmas Eve is spent with the Van der Humphreys (Fine. She'll do it. It's been six years together, this one might stick), and Blair will admit to feeling slightly guilty that Christmas future will include her bff and not Chucks, but Serena doesn't awkwardly hit on Chuck- and it's not her fault Eleanor and the Captain never hooked up. They exchange presents, and Blair watches proudly as Lily and Rufus interact with Chuck with the same affection they use with their own motley crew (Dan, Serena, Jenny, Eric and Scott, altogether around the tree).

Blair and Chuck return home just before midnight, and Chuck takes Blair's insistence that they must go to sleep immediately so Santa will come as a challenge, keeping her up until the early hours. Blair is tired, but sated, as she rises from the bed at eight (after two hours of sleep).

They eat the breakfast ordered from the kitchen downstairs (cinnamon rolls and pastries- Blair teases that she will let herself go now that their married, and it heals a little piece of her every time Chuck insists that she eats as much as she desires, her beauty is unchangeable), and open the presents that fill the living room. They have hours before the Waldorf-Rose clan is expected, and so they shower slowly, dress, undress, and then rush to prepare, perfecting their attire only seconds before the guests arrive. Chuck smirks smarmily at her when her mother comments on her questionably messy hairstyle, and Blair can't resist returning the grin.

More gifts are exchanged, and more (ordered) food is eaten. As the afternoon progress Chuck finds himself fussed over by Eleanor as she declares he and Blair a beautiful couple (quote unquote), clapped warmly on the shoulder by Harold as he examines the cigars Chuck has gifted him with, and hugged tightly by both of Blair's stepfathers at various intervals. (He thinks that this must be what it was like to grow up an Archibald. He'll never understand why Nate took this for granted, but he'll always be grateful for it.)

Serena stops by at the end of the evening to exchange pleasantries with Blair's family, and to drop off a last, small gift she forgot to give her best friend. As Chuck takes in the sight before him, his wife curls up to his side and declares that everyone she loves the most in the world is in this suite with her, and he genuinely thinks his heart might burst. It's not until the next day that he realizes Nate wasn't present, and wonders if Blair's comment was an oversight on Blair's part, or something deeper.

The night wraps up around midnight, and Blair and Chuck are nearly dead on their feet. As usual, their exhaustion lasts only until they reach the bedroom. It's one thirty before they actually begin to drift off. Chuck whispers that this is the best Christmas he's ever had and that they must follow these traditions they've crafted to a tee next year. She thinks she'll wait until next week, when she's sure, to inform him that while she agrees with his assessment, they'll have to make room for one more next year. But really, how much room will a four-month-old take up anyway?


A/N: Okay, so this feels a little disjointed to me, I'm really not crazy about this. And let me make it clear, I HATE when author's write this (I always think, then why did you post it?), but I really wanted to get it posted before Christmas Day was over. Anyway, this is not a plea for pity reviews, this is just a request not to hold it against me ;-) Hope everyone's enjoyed their holiday so far!