I hated shopping in most instances. Anybody who knows me could tell you that. As a general rule I had to be either blackmailed or bribed before I'd set foot in a mall.

Christmas shopping was particularly awful. I hated the crowds. I never knew what to get anybody. It was always either too cold outside or too hot inside. This year Magnus was involving me in some kind of little gift-hunt tradition he and his friends had.

"How many cousins do you have?" Magnus asked on our way inside. He was reading a list I'd written out so I remembered who I needed to shop for. I'd most likely be seeing a lot of my extended family over the holidays – there was usually a big gathering to go to.

"My family branch out pretty far." I shrugged. There were a lot of us but I'd never known it any differently. "How about you?"

"You've met my family." Said Magnus. He raised a warning eyebrow at me. "We're meeting them right now."

"You know I meant real family." I muttered. Usually I could understand that Magnus didn't want to talk about that but it didn't seem that out of line to ask if there was anybody blood-linked in his life.

I saw Magnus' eyes glint. His mouth twitched like he was about to snap something at me. Instead he took hold of the ends of my scarf and began to re-knot it in a way he must have deemed more fashionable. When he was done with his knot, he appeared to have calmed down. He glanced up to our right and I followed his gaze over to where his group had gathered.

Ragnor was sat sprawled on a bench looking completely bored as Caterina was giggling and attempting to steal a pretentiously large pair of sunglasses from Woolsey's face. The blonde was side-stepping her easily; but I was routing for Cat to win. It was the middle of winter and we were indoors, for crying out loud.

"They look real to me." Was all Magnus had to say before he approached his friends.

With a sigh, I slipped my list back into my pocket and followed him. I hadn't meant to make Magnus grouchy with me. I just wanted to know a little more about him. Maybe in time, I'd learn a little more.

I shocked myself by remembering that I hadn't even known Magnus for a whole year yet. Actually, that was really scary. It could only have been around ten months since I met Magnus and we hadn't even stayed together through all of it.

Well, it was a little late to panic. I was feeling nice and settled in at our place now.

Caterina looked exited as ever to see us; forgetting all about Woolsey's out-of-place sunglasses. Her hair was tied up today; jutting out at all angles like the spires of a snowflake behind her head. With that and her blue tattoos - which I was sure had expanded up more of her shoulder and neck since I met her - she looked like she was made for the season.

"Trust Magnus of all people to be fashionably late." She commented with a chuckle.

"Then how do you explain Alexander?" Woolsey asked.

"Ha-ha." I replied, rolling my eyes and avoiding looking at his face. Woolsey Scott had a grin which made hearts melt. That wasn't me being bias towards hot guys: that was a natural fact. "Save comments about my clothes for a day you don't look ridiculous."

"Absurd, isn't he?" Ragnor agreed. He stood up from his seat on the bench and started to stretch his back out.

"Those of us who are actually famous need to stay incognito." Woolsey announced. He dramatically flipped his scarf over his shoulder and made a point of turning his nose up at his tattooed friend.

"Incognito?" Ragnor scoffed. "You've been approached by ten people who recognised you since we got here."

Sighing, Woolsey removed his glasses from his eyes and slid them on top of his head.

"Happy?" He grumbled.

"Okay!" Caterina announced, cutting short a grouchy reply from Ragnor and clapping her hands together once. "Let the great X-Mas shop of 2008 begin!"

"Wait, wait." Magnus interrupted before anybody could go anywhere. "Where's Cammie?"

Silence fell over the group. Ragnor looked mildly irritated, which was pretty much his natural expression. Cat was biting on her lip and averting her eyes as if there was something interesting on the floor. Woolsey appeared to be gritting his teeth. However, he was first to speak up.

"Camille has had a charitable impulse," Woolsey's tone was loaded with mockery and annoyance. "She has opted to spend the day aiding my Brother in his plight to help youths in need."

"She might as well just make a donation to Simon." I commented.

"Who the bloody hell is Simon?" Woolsey responded. He gave me a look like I was talking absolute nonsense. My mistake, really, to expect him to remember Simon when Jace had been stood right there when they'd met.

"Honestly," The blonde actor continued to complain. "One moment Ralf's affections are the bane of Camille's existence, the next she's blowing us off for him."

"I am the only 'Bane' of Cammie's existence." Magnus declared, smirking all the while. "Now let her be. She's skipping tradition in the name of true-love."

"They're screwing and you know it." Said Ragnor in the bluntest way possible.

Woolsey seemed to cringe at the idea of his sibling having sex with anybody, which I could completely sympathise with. Magnus and Caterina just laughed.

"Now that's out of the way," Said Cat, pausing to chuckle again. "Shall we begin? On your marks. Get set..."


How Magnus and his friends managed to have their shopping event every year without being kicked out of the department store was a mystery. I'd never seen grown adults wreak so much havoc.

The point of their game was to buy all their presents, but keep their purchases a mystery. Think secret-Santa on a countdown timer. Means of distracting the opposition from seeing their gifts ranged from blinding Caterina with projectile clothing to pushing Ragnor into a Christmas tree. At one point Magnus had me hold something for him and Woolsey all-but assaulted me to retrieve it.

Magnus managed to rescue me but I was then told to 'get my head in the game'. A couple hours later I was tired out from doing just that. Outrunning Magnus' friends wasn't incredibly difficult but the whole experience really took it out of you. I'd be sure to sleep like a rock when I was done with the arduous task of shopping for my own family.

"I'm surprised Robert is on your list." Said Magnus. He was holding the paper and a few bags while I was browsing.

"Well he is my Father." I murmured. So what if we didn't always see eye-to-eye?

"I remember when we first met." My boyfriend sighed dreamily. "The man was dead to you, we were like kindred spirits."

"I really need to talk to him soon..." I thought aloud.

I hadn't spoken to my Father since the incident at Mother's where he'd been shouted out of the house. I knew there were things about me that my Father couldn't stand, but as a whole I knew he didn't hate me. So, even if he acted like an ass sometimes, I could move past it.

If I could figure out what to say to him. I thought that now I was re-thinking my decision not to attend College, he ought to know about it. My education was all he ever really cared about. But it was sort of difficult to bring it up without looking like I was doing it for him. I wasn't. It was for me and my own wellbeing.

"Why talk to him at all?" Magnus asked me. Like it was some big conundrum to him

"Last I checked you considered 'Because I want to' to be a good enough excuse to do anything." I reminded Magnus. He was a hedonist if ever there was one.

"True." Magnus agreed. "But last I checked you did not."

"Hey, I can be impulsive too." I argued.

Magnus responded by waving the list of names in front of my face.

"Yes, you are so impulsive, Alexander!" Magnus laughed. When I tried to snatch my list back he pulled it out of arms reach.

"You're just a big kid really, aren't you?" I made another grab for the paper as I spoke.

This time instead of pulling his hand away Magnus grabbed hold of my fingers and brought them to his lips. I felt my face flush a little before I heard giggling to our left. Two store clerks were averting their eyes and pretending they hadn't just been watching our exchange.

"Can we go?" I muttered, pulling my hand out of my boyfriend's grip.

I wasn't embarrassed by Magnus. I just wasn't interested in being somebody else's entertainment. Magnus, however, was more of an exhibitionist. He followed my line of sight to the uniformed workers and dropped them a wink before I was able to drag him out of the store.


Happy Christmas-Eve-Eve, readers. I just got back home from a weekend trip and I'm absolutely zonked, but I hope you enjoyed the chapter and that you have a great holiday (if you celebrate). Thanks for reading!