I sighed, pressing my forehead against the cool windowpane and watching the flurries fall from the sky. I could see the reflection of my family behind me as they loudly sang "Stille Nacht" out of tune.
I wasn't in a celebratory mood, despite the warm atmosphere of Chilverton Elms. With all that had happened in the past month, it didn't feel like Christmas at all. From the return to England, the Quidditch fiasco, Oliver's proposal...
Honestly, what had he been thinking?
Probably something along the lines of, "Oh, Rue would be accepting and still loves me, so I should probably just propose to her."
No, absolutely not, Mr Wood.
Uncle Friedrich clapped me on the back, bringing me quite suddenly back to reality.
"Rüdiger!" he boomed.
"Yes, Uncle?" I asked, not turning away from the window.
"Join the festivities! Christmas 1999- there's plenty to be happy about!"
I huffed. Why was everyone in my family so damn happy when they were drunk?
"Look, I'm sorry but I'm just not in the mood," I said, turning to look up at him.
He sat on the bench beside me, as if my depressed state sobered him up. I chalked it up to Uncle-y Concern.
"Rue, what's got you all bothered?"
"Nothing," I hummed, turning away again.
He raised an eyebrow. "Ach du lieber, it's that Oliver fellow, isn't it? Do I need to go after him, alte Socke?"
It was my turn to raise an eyebrow. "No, you really don't. It's just-"
"Klaus, the good man, told me what happened."
"The... proposal," he said in a low voice.
Klaus... I slid my eyes over to my brother who was talking animatedly with Maximillian and Molly, our two oldest cousins. I'm pretty sure one eye twitched out of irritation.
"I would've done the same thing," Uncle Friedrich said firmly.
"Ja," he said with a wink.
"And what would you be doing right now, then?"
"Probably moping," he shrugged. "Can't be sure, though. I'd make a terrible woman. I have the emotional capacity of a rock!"
Uncle Friedrich paused thoughtfully, taking a sip from his boot-shaped glass, "Zwar weiß ich viel, doch möchte ich mehr wissen..."
"Mmm," I hummed, "knew more about what, though?"
"Love," Uncle Friedrich said softly.
I turned to look at him, "Really? You wish you knew more about love?"
"Mister Happy Bachelor himself? Love?" I snorted. "I find that very hard to believe."
"I'm not saying I want to get married to the first thing with tits," he said bluntly, laughing. "I just think it might be nice to know."
"What do you mean?" I asked softly, turning to face him again.
"Well, seems to me he still loves you, yeah? He told you so, didn't he?"
"Yes," I said slowly.
"And," he held up a finger, "don't take offense, but I would be willing to wager that you still care for him too. You wouldn't have gone out of your way to make him jealous otherwise, knowing you. And that didn't really turn out as you were expecting, either."
"What I'm saying is, if I've learned anything over the years, it's that things happen when they happen for a reason. Now wasn't the time to accept a proposal. It's too soon; the wounds still hurt, no?"
I nodded, soaking in my uncle's infinite wisdom, even in his drunken state.
"Now, I don't know anything about love personally, but I do know that he loves you. And you, whether you admit it or not, do or will feel the same. I would think you should give yourself time to collect your thoughts and what have you. But when you've got yourself all sorted out, you go back to him. He isn't going to wait forever, but he hasn't shut you out just yet."
"Right," I said softly, staring into my lap.
"Alright," he stood. "I will leave you to wallow in your self-pity. Cheer up," he said, gently nudging my shoulder.
I sighed, turning to stare out the window again.
The reasonable voice in my head said that he was right, maybe I did still love him. But the embittered part of me shot back that Uncle Friedrich even admitted he knew nothing of love, so there was no reason to listen to him and his completely barmy theories.
I wasn't ready to love anyone just yet, and that was that.
I was such a cynic.
"Rue-Rue," Klaus sang, "it's time for presents! C'mon, join us!"
I sighed, dragging myself from the window seat. I wondered what he was doing for Christmas and if he was just as miserable as I was.
Oliver, come on. Try to look happy, I scolded myself. They were going to think something was wrong, and I didn't want to explain to my parents that I had asked Rue to marry me.
The team already told me how much of an idiot I was for doing it. I didn't need them reaffirming that.
It felt right though, asking her. Because I did still love her...
Even though she was so irritating, infuriating, ridiculous, rash, pretentious, pompous, short-tempered and sardonic.
Beautiful, intelligent, funny, successful...
For all the negatives I could come up with, the positives of Rue's personality outweighed them. They always had.
I groaned, burying my face in my hands.
"Oliver, what's wrong?"
"Aye, you've been off all day."
"Don't want to talk about it," I grumbled, picking up my fork and poking at the vegetables on my plate.
"This got anything to do with Rue?" my dad asked gruffly.
How did he know?
"What d'you mean?" I asked indifferently.
Mum looked at Dad, "Well, given what's happened..."
"Glad you broke up with Bray," Dad interrupted.
"Thanks, Dad," I rolled my eyes.
"She wasn't right for you."
"You told Rue that, aye?"
"I heard you, er, practicing before you went to visit her last week," Mum said softly. "It was very sweet. What'd she say?"
Dad snorted, "Well, obviously nothing good, otherwise she'd be here right now, eh?"
Again, thanks, Dad.
"I'm sorry, dear."
"It's not your fault. It was her decision, wasn't it?" I muttered.
"I don't see why the two of ye broke up in the first place," Dad interjected.
I glared at him for a moment.
"She'll come around," Mum offered.
I sighed, "May I be excused? Not really hungry."
I stood, grabbing my coat from the hook and pulling it on before stepping outside.
I let out a long breath, leaning against the side of the house and closing my eyes. I could still hear my parents discussing me and Rue.
Me and Rue.
Who would have thought it would come to this?
The annoying voice in my head decided to chime in: You'd probably be married by now if you had convinced her to stay.
That was probably true.
I turned, looking through the window at my parents, candles flickering on the table. They seemed so warm, loving, loved... Would that have been us?
I shook my head, kicking the snow at my feet.
No, that... It wouldn't have worked out.
She's too stubborn anyway.
But those two years... they weren't all a lie.
She loved me. I love her.
This was not how I wanted to spend my Christmas, thinking about Rue Von Straussburg. Merlin knew she wasn't thinking about me.
And yet, I desperately clung to the small hope that she was.
I looked up at the night sky, my eyes fixed on the brightest star.
Bring her back to me... Please.
Inspired by "Christmas Lights" by Coldplay.
Hope you enjoyed this little holiday collection! Just so you all know, I decided to do this as a challenge to myself to see 1) if I had it in me and 2) if I could force myself to make a deadline. And I did it! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, or at least one better than Rue and Oliver's. Please do me the great honor of reviewing! Yours.