The streets of Magnolia were rather quiet considering it was the middle of the day, but the huge blanket of white snow prevented most from doing anything besides going out to enjoy it. At least that was one of the reasons a certain blonde insisted as she twirled in the flurries gently coming down. She giggled and the quiet young man walking beside her, who couldn't help but quirk his lips in a small smile. Lucy was much like a child in her excitement and it was hard not to get caught up in her giddiness. He did make a good attempt though, but most of the times he was still dragged along with her nutty ideas. He was usually one to just watch from the sidelines most times. The one who watched others having fun and find his own sort of piece through others enjoyment. But with her he couldn't just sit on the sidelines, she would always make an effort to drag him into it and participate, whether he wanted to or not. She made it to where you couldn't help but have fun around her and he found himself willing to shed the shy exterior he usually had just to please her.
Lucy snatched Frosch out of the air and twirled her around in a circle laughing as the exceed shrieked happily. Rogue stood there watching, his hands shoved into his pockets to ward off the cold as the two most important people in his life frolicked in the snow, aside from Sting and his exceed of course. It was a rather endearing sight to see and if he didn't know any better they would've looked like a mother and child bonding and he had a fleeting thought as he stood there if he looked like a father. The thought caught him off guard for a moment, bringing a small flush to his cheeks at the thought of the petite blond swollen with his child and one hanging on her hip crossed his mind. Rogue couldn't believe such a thought warmed his body and let loose a fluttering feeling into his gut. He'd never thought about such things before meeting her, no woman inspired such ideas, but lately he was being bombarded with the idea that having a family would bring him happiness. That having a family with her would be a dream come true. He honestly couldn't see himself with anyone else, she was the exact opposite of him and yet they seemed to fit together so seamlessly, like a puzzle.
"Ro?" Lucy's voice interrupted his thoughts as she laid a hand along his arm drawing his gaze to hers. He coughed awkwardly and looked up into the frozen sky embarrassed he was caught staring at her.
She smiled seeing the pink dusting his cheeks as he tried to valiantly look anywhere but at her. Lucy hugged Fro to her chest as she tugged on his sleeve, leading him around the town square, looking in brightly colored windows at all the displays.
"Come on, Frosty."
He tilted his head in confusion, letting her lead him for a minute only to speed up to walk beside her, making sure to keep as little space between them as possible. He may not say a whole lot, but he more than made up for it with subtle touches and lingering looks. In his case actions did speak louder than words and if you were in their presence for more than a few minutes you would see just how much he cared about the Celestial Mage. Slowly but surely she encouraged him to open up to her and he could honestly say he felt more at ease around her then before. He sure hoped so anyway.
Lucy laughed, a puff of air billowing out and he couldn't help thinking just how beautiful she looked even bundled up like a marshmallow with her cheeks and nose red from the cold.
"You know, Frosty. Like from Frosty the Snowman."
"The children's movie?"
He raised a brow.
She froze, a sad frown on her face. "Ok, now you're officially making me sad here."
He started, confused even further. "How am I doing that?"
"Because, you haven't seen Frosty and that's like a right of passage for a kid."
Lucy smiled and looped her arm through his as they strolled, leaning her head on his shoulder, before suddenly popping back up with an excited squeal.
"Oh I've got it, when we get back to my place we are going to have a Christmas movie marathon."
"Yay," Fro squealed, throwing her arms up in the air, before frowning and letting them drop, looking over to Rogue. "What's 'kwist-mas' Rogue?" The hood on her frog suit was blown back suddenly by a gust of wind and she looked so cute staring at them with her scrunched up face.
He scratched his chin looking sheepish. "Erm.."
"Gah, you two! Looks like I'm gonna have to give you a crash course in Christmas." She puffed up in importance.
Rogue turned to look at her, his lips quirked as she listed things off they would do or need for this crash course.
"Lets see," She turned to look at the stores around them in thought, Fro perched on her head as she ticked things off for an imaginary list in her mind.
"We are going to need popcorn, string..."
"Oooh, Fro loves popcorn!"
"What's the string for?" Rogue asked.
She smiled. "That is for the popcorn. You use it to string it around the tree."
A frown creased his face as he pictured popcorn strung around a tree and shook his head. "Why would you put popcorn on a tree?"
She laughed seeing his confused face. "It's originally used for outdoor trees. Like we would also put nuts and berries on them so the birds and other animals have something to eat during the winter months. It was a foreign tradition originally, but we added the popcorn bit later on."
He nodded in understanding. "What else do you do during Christmas?" He was rather intrigued with the holiday now that someone took the time to explain it properly. In truth he hadn't ever really cared about something like Christmas, thinking it trivial and dismissed it not knowing what it was. Besides, he'd heard it was a celebration for family, and since he really didn't have one, he never really bothered to find out more about it.
Lucy looked thoughtful before she spotted something and grabbed his arm, dragging him to a display window.
"See those?" She said pointing to the brightly colored boxes stacked in an interesting way.
He nodded and Fro clapped her hands in delight. "Fro thinks those are pretty!"
Lucy tilted her head as she attempted to look at the cat leaning over her forehead. "They are, aren't they? Those are presents. During Christmas we pick out things for people and wrap them up to put under the tree so we can exchange them on Christmas morning."
Fro's little mouth went into an 'o' as she pressed her paws to the glass and squashed her nose against it in awe, barely staying on Lucy's head.
"Hmm, so it's sort of like how you guys celebrate your birthdays then?" Rogue asked, scratching his chin in thought.
"Sort of. Except on birthdays only the person whose birthday it is gets the gifts. On Christmas everyone gets them. The fun of it is to find the perfect gift for people and of course the wrapping!"
"You mean the pretty paper around the boxes?" Fro asked settling on Lucy's shoulder.
"That's right. There's so much you can do to make them beautiful and unique."
"Sounds like a good excuse to shop to me." He chuckled as she laughed softly.
"Well it kind of is, but for me it's different." Her face turned wistful as she trailed a finger down the display window, not really seeing the presents anymore. "I can remember the excitement I felt as a small child, when my mother was still alive, during the holidays. How she put such enthusiasm into whatever she did that just made everything more fun. For our small family we treasured our times together."
She sighed. "I know people all think the Heartfilia's were about nothing but money, but that's not true at all. Momma was never consumed with money and only used it to lavish gifts to the people she loved, making sure they never wanted for anything. Even the people who worked for us received extravagant gifts and were always invited to our house for Christmas dinner. There was no distinction between people with us. If they were someone we loved, they mattered, period. Even if we didn't know you, she wouldn't hesitate to give you something, didn't matter who you were." Her voice turned sad as she frowned looked up into Rogues eyes. "I know my father turned cold after momma died, but the way he acted wasn't him, not the true him. And I like to remember how it was before when momma was still alive." She turned her saddened gaze to the sky and sighed wistfully. "I only hope he managed to find his smile again before he died, so when he saw Momma again she would be happy."
Rogue regarded her silently, hearing the sad undertones of what she was saying and thread his fingers through her gloved ones. He knew the subject of her mother and father was a bittersweet one and felt the warmness flood his stomach as she turned her gaze to him and squeezed his hand with a sad smile. He could relate with his father. It was still a painful memory and he hated to think about it, but with Lucy she seemed to soothe those old wounds and made them more tolerable. Fro seemed to understand Lucy's need for comfort as she wrapped her little paws around the blonde's neck making her giggle softly, breaking the sadness surrounding her.
"So, what else is there to do on this holiday?" He asked, changing the subject so she wouldn't dwell on the negative.
Lucy smiled, knowing what he was doing as she continued the list.
"Well, we will need decorations for the tree. Ornaments, lights, perhaps some garland."
"Garr-land?" Fro asked.
"Yeah," Lucy chirped, spreading her hands out in excitement. "It's this really shiny stuff that looks like the boas some women wrap around their shoulders."
Rogue laughed seeing the starry eyed look in his partner's eyes.
"Don't worry, you'll get to help pick out the decorations." Lucy said.
"Lets see what else." She grabbed his arm and walked down the street pausing at another display. "Ooh, we can get some cookie dough to make some gingerbread men."
She laughed seeing both of their confused faces. "They are little men made of gingerbread, really yummy. And we will need to get some eggnog, because the stuff we'll have at the guild's Christmas party will most likely be spiked if Cana has any say in it. So, I want you two to taste the stuff without the booze in it."
"Lucy, whats egg-nawg?" Fro asked.
"Oh, it's this really sweet, creamy drink made from milk and eggs and other stuff. Here, I need to pick up a few things anyway so we can get some right now and have it back at my place." She said leading them into a corner market, grabbing a basket as she wandered to the back of the store where the dairy was. Immediately music assaulted his sensitive ears as he followed behind her, something about a 'White Christmas' holding the door open for her as she mumbled and sifted through the various cartons.
Fro plopped onto Rogues shoulder as she had her attention riveted on the blond, her eyes wide much to his amusement. He knew he probably had much the same look on his face as he took in everything around him, marveling as he listened to Lucy describing what they would need for which dish, soaking it all in. Rogue was an avid learner and loved to discover new things and he found that learning from Lucy was indeed fruitful.
"Here," She said presenting a colorful carton for their eyes. "This is eggnog."
Both Fro and Rogue sniffed curiously at the carton and Lucy giggled as she saw the dreamy look pass over Fro's features. She had a feeling the little exceed would fall in love with it seeing that it has milk, cream and sugar in it and wondered if the cat would go into a sugar induced coma after her first sip.
"This kind has a bit of cinnamon in it. There are others with different spices and flavors like peppermint and pumpkin added for flavor. The drink was originally made to have alcohol in it, but I've always been partial to the stuff without it." She explained.
Lucy handed the carton to Rogue and watched as he turned it this way and that studying it intensely, almost like he would a book before grabbing the basket on her arm and putting it inside, settling it on his arm instead. The action rose a brow on the blond, but smiled anyway and continued shopping, heading for the dried goods. She wandered down the aisles and immediately zeroed in on some boxes, latching onto a couple and comparing them side by side.
Rogue stepped up behind her and looked over her shoulder, the boxes in her hands showed a cup of something dark and at first he thought it was coffee, but the words on the front said 'Hot Chocolate.'
"What are those Lucy?" Fro pointed to the boxes as she leaned over in curiosity.
Lucy turned towards them and beamed. "This my dear friends is what I call seduction in a cup, 'cause one cup will have you falling head over heels for it!" She laughed as Rogue looked thoughtful and Fro seemed to be enamored with the box.
Lucy handed one to the exceed watching as Fro handled it with extreme care, like it was made of glass and would break any minute. "That is hot chocolate. It can be mixed with hot water or hot milk, but I prefer milk. Makes it taste better in my opinion." She shrugged.
"Whats the difference between these two?" Rogue asked.
"This one has double chocolate, and that one" she pointed to the one in Fro's hands, "has mini marshmallows in it."
Fro immediately latched on tighter to the box. "Fro wants these. Can Fro have these, please!?"
Rogue chuckled at the pleading look as Lucy smiled. "Of course you can have those silly! We can make some tonight while we watch the movies."
She tapped her chin as she thought for a moment. "Oh right. If we want to make some gingerbread men I'll need some ingredients. Let's see, I have most of the basics for cooking so all I will need is some nutmeg, ground cloves, some molasses, some vanilla flavoring and some icing." Lucy browsed the cooking ingredients and began piling different items into the basket. "Or if you want, since we are making the cookies from scratch, I could make some frosting from scratch also. Homemade stuff is just better in my opinion." She grabbed a couple of bags of powdered sugar to add to the pile and giggled as two noses twitched in interest.
"Now, no opening that until we need to," She said poking Fro's nose softly, the cats eyes crossing as she smiled cutely. "It's really fine sugar and gets everywhere and super hard to manage if you spill it."
Rogue nodded sagely. "Ahh, so I'll be the one handling it then right?"
Lucy tilted her head. "Why is that?"
"Because you're the queen at spilling things." He grinned at her pouty frown.
"Oh, I do not." She said puffing up her cheeks pouting. "That was only a few things that one time and I'm normally very careful. I was just extremely tired that day."
He arched a brow. "Mhmm, right."
She stuck her tongue at at him, repressing the smile that threatened to break out as she turned away spotting the candy aisle letting out an excited noise as her eyes darted to and fro.
"Oooh look guys," She said excitedly, holding up a box. "I haven't seen this in ages! It's called ribbon candy and it comes in all different types of flavors shaped to look like ribbons."
"Hence the name." Rogue offered.
"Yup!" She said focusing back on the candy selection. "Oh, here we go."
Fro popped up and hovered near the blond, her hands still clutching on the hot chocolate box as she saw the blond picking up white and red striped sticks.
"What are those?"
Rogue inhaled briefly as he stepped up next to the blond. "Peppermint."
"Yup, that's right. These are called Candy Canes and we hang these on the tree also." She handed one to the exceed and watched as she smelled it and hugged it to her chest along with the box.
Lucy turned back to the shelves. "Now, to see if they have- aha!" She exclaimed grabbing a few bars and piling those into the basket before holding one up to show them. "This is peppermint bark. Usually its only made of peppermint pieces, but the ones I like have chocolate on the bottom, makes it taste so much better."
"I hope we aren't going to eat all of this in one day." Rogue mused, studying a bar of the candy confection.
"Oh heavens no! We would get such a bad tummy ache." She laughed, leading them to the register, pulling things out of the basket for the cashier to ring up and gently explaining that they had to pay for the stuff and then Fro could have them back. Seeing Fro about to tear up she settled on a compromise and plopped the exceed down with the items still in her arms, giving the cashier a good laugh, who was probably used to little kids doing the same thing.
"Not to mention the sugar induced coma we would have." She giggled grabbing the bags, seeing Fro hovering with her prizes in her paws, only to have Rogue lift the bags from her hands to his making her sigh and lead the way out of the shop.
Fro settled herself into the blonde's arms as they trudged through the snow back to Lucy's apartment. "There's so much to show you guys that it's hard to decide what to do first. But I think starting with hot chocolate and some movies will help you get into the festive mood and it might explain a few things as well."
Rogue walked closer to the blond seeing her shiver. "I never knew this 'Christmas' was so complicated."
"Oh no its not really complicated at all!" She sputtered. "There's just a lot of different things to do to celebrate, but we don't have to do everything, only the things that appeal to you guys." She offered.
Fro frowned looking up at the blond. "But Fro wants to learn everything about 'kwist-mas'," her little face screwed up under her adorable frog costume as she tried to say the name.
Rogue nodded, reaching out to pat the cat's frog covered head fondly, his gaze soft as he looked from the exceed to the blond. "Then we will need to be good students and learn everything we can from Lucy in order to understand this holiday that means so much to her."
Fro nodded in agreement.
Lucy blushed. "I will do my very best to be a good teacher for you guys then." She turned her gaze back up to his, determination shining in her eyes. "I will make this the best Christmas I can for you guys, I promise!"
"We know you will, Lucy and we thank you." He replied softly, his fingers tangling in some blonde hair briefly, warming her cheeks again.