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25 Days of Christmas

Chapter Text

“No.”

“Rory, you have to.”

“No, I don’t! They can find someone else to design the Christmas party for EA this year! You know there is this really sweet girl, Julie from accounting? She always loves helping people; I’m sure she’ll be more than happy to work with Adelaide.”

“Don’t be mean.”

“I’m not being mean, Lena! I’m being reasonable! If do this with Adelaide, I can most definitely assure you that murder will be committed.”

Lena heaved a sigh and clutched tighter at her favorite “I am an inventor!” coffee mug, wishing that the effects of the dark roast brew would take hold quicker. Rory had been her best friend since they were roommates at NYU and while she loved her best friend to death, sometimes Lena found herself a little impatient with Rory’s stubbornness.

“You need to get over this ‘feud’ you have with Adelaide, Rory,” Lena gently chided, ignoring the steadily growing headache that seemed to always pop up when Rory got like this.

Rory crossed her arms and sat down at the table in the middle of the kitchenette they were in with a huff. Lena couldn’t help the smile that crossed her features at Rory’s expression. “I’m not saying you need to be best friends with her -”

“You wouldn’t allow me to be best friends with anyone but you and you know it,” Rory broke in, the corner of her mouth tugging upwards despite her best efforts to appear upset.

“-I’m just saying that you need to work with her for max two weeks,” Lena continued, completely ignoring her friend.

Rory thought for a couple moments on Lena’s words while Lena continued to sip at her coffee. “Two weeks?”

“Two weeks.”

“Fine.”

“Yes!” Lena cheered and Rory laughed at her best friend’s antics.

“Don’t get too excited, a lot can happen in two weeks, Lena,” Rory reminded her.

“You’re absolutely right. I can’t wait to see what happens.”

~oOo~

Aurora “Rory” Landon applied to the Literature Studies program at NYU to escape from all of the madness that was her Hollywood family. She loved her mom, dad, step-mom, and half-sister with all her heart but if she had stayed in California, she could not have been held accountable for her resulting actions. She applied on a whim, on a ‘What if…’ scenario that she wasn’t really banking on, but desperately hoped for so she could pursue her dream of being a editor.

Rory met her best friend there, who was studying Mechanical Engineering, earned her degree, and was accepted at Ever Afters Publishing to her dream job and life could not be any better. Of course meeting her boyfriend Chase Turnleaf, another editor, at EA was a whole other cake that Rory could not have been more grateful for. But, unfortunately, with meeting Chase, Adelaide had been an unpleasant package.

~oOo~

Adelaide strut into the conference room that Rory booked for them 30 minutes late, dressed to impress with killer 6-inch high heels, a dark red dress that hugged her every curve, and flawless make-up. Rory, unsurprisingly, was pissed off.

“You know you could pretend to be more willing to get this over with as quickly as possible, instead of dragging it out for as long as possible,” Rory snapped.

“And miss the opportunity to rile you up with my wonderful self? I don’t think so,” Adelaide shot back.

“Listen, I am not here to be friends; let’s just plan this thing and then we can go back to ignoring each other’s presence in this life,” Rory said, rubbing her eyes to fight off the wave of exhaustion that suddenly swept over her.

“I don’t want to be here any more than you do, Landon,” Adelaide replied. She slid a binder to Rory across the conference table. “Those are the ideas that I have for the party.”

Rory flipped through the binder, growing more and more impressed with the designs on the page. “Adelaide, these are amazing!” Rory exclaimed.

Adelaide flipped her long, gorgeous, curled-to-perfection blonde hair over her shoulder. “Of course they are. There is a reason why I am the head designer for book jackets.”

Rory rolled her eyes; Adelaide never failed to brag about her position. “If we split this up, we should be able to book the venue, the catering, and all the decorations in about two weeks,” Rory continued.

Adelaide crinkled her dainty nose.

“Yes, that means more time to be around each other. Please, do try to control your excitement,” Rory said sarcastically.

“I should say that you need to be the one to control yourself. We don’t want anyone else’s boyfriend to get stolen.” A familiar jab of guilt shot through Rory at the not-so-subtle reminder.

Rory sucked in a breath to calm herself down. “I apologized for what happened with Chase a million times already. I never went into this intending to break up a relationship, Adelaide, you have to believe me,” she said, earnest.

“What’s done is done,” Adelaide snapped, her blue eyes flashing. “Regardless of what your intentions were, you were the reason why Chase and I broke up.”

Rory opened her mouth to apologize once more, when Adelaide abruptly stood up from the conference table. “I’ll book the venue and organize the catering. You can do everything else.” And with that, Adelaide walked out of the room, leaving Rory sputtering behind her in surprise.

~oOo~

Over the course of the next two weeks, Adelaide and Rory worked separately on their parts of the project, conferring with each other only when necessary and for no longer than 15 minutes at a time.

On the night of the party, everything looked absolutely perfect. The venue was elegantly decorated with a red and silver color scheme and all the employees of Ever Afters Publishing enjoyed the catering that was provided with the entertainment. Soft Christmas music played in the background while people stood and chatted with each other or slow danced in couples on the dance floor.

Rory stood to the side, with a glass of champagne in her hand, watching the EA Annual Christmas party go off without a hitch with a small smile on her lips. Clad in a elegant red dress that fell just short of her knees, her brown hair swept over her shoulder, and a dainty silver locket that was a gift from Chase resting gently on her collarbone, Rory could not help but feel proud at what she and Adelaide accomplished.

Sure, most of the time they interacted could only be equated in Rory’s mind with pulling teeth out without anesthesia, but nevertheless she was proud. Adelaide and her came to a sort of understanding through their work on this party. They may never find common ground over their past together, but at least they know that they can work together civilly when necessary. Rory was stolen out of her reverie when someone put an arm around her back and placed a soft kiss on her cheek.

“Hey,” Chase said, his lips quirked in that seemingly ever present smirk that only showed up around her.

Rory smiled at him in response and leaned into him. “Enjoying the party?” he asked.

Adelaide caught Rory’s eye from across the venue and gave her a little nod of acknowledgement. Who knows? Maybe one day they’ll become friends.

“Yeah. Yeah, I am.”

Chapter Text

“Hey, Chase, do you happen to know who is running the Secret Santa this year?” Rory asked, voice deliberately nonchalant. The two were sitting side by side on a grassy hill just to the side of the quad at Ever After High School enjoying the peace of studying next to each other when Rory spoke.

“Yeah, why?” Chase asked, bewildered. Rory never cared too much about the annual Secret Santa that their friend group did each year since they all got together in middle school (It’s more hassle than it’s worth, Chase. Why can’t I just come out and give all my gifts directly; there’s no need for the secrecy.).

“No reason.”

“Rory.”

“Yeah?”

“Your voice did that high pitched thingy that it always does when you’re trying to get out of something. What did you do?”

Rory rolled her eyes. “Okay, there’s no need for the dramatics. Just look.” Chase followed the direction at which Rory was pointing and then suddenly understood why this entire conversation existed.

“Seriously?” But Chase’s eyes were already glinting with mischievousness and the gears in his brain started churning out a plan of attack.

Rory smiled just as wickedly.

~oOo~

“I kind of feel bad that we’re messing with Ben and Chatty’s list like this.”

“This was your idea!”

“True.”

“Besides, if I have to handle one more day of them staring longingly at each other with heart eyes from across the classroom I’m going to puke.”

“You stared at me longingly at me with heart eyes across the classroom until we got together.”

“Shut up, Rory.”

~oOo~

“RORY! Rory, Rory, Rory, Rory!” Lena squealed as she practically pounced on her best friend during lunch.

“What?” Rory very much knew ‘what’ was up but still, it was nice seeing Lena so excited and happy.

“I got Kyle Zipes for my Secret Santa!”

“That’s great!” Rory mentally high fived herself and Chase for a job well done and executed.

~oOo~

Chase mentally high fived himself and Rory for a job well done and executed.

Kyle was practically vibrating with excitement as he continued to Chase on and on and on saying what he was going to get for Lena.

To: My Favorite Subject to Annoy <3

From: Chase

Sent 1:31:12 p.m.

This was simultaneously the worst and best idea we ever had.

To: The Eternal Thorn in My Side <3

From: Rory

Sent: 1:31:57 p.m.

I kind of agree.

To: My Favorite Subject to Annoy <3

From: Chase

Sent: 1:32:11 p.m.

Kyle is so happy I’m going to die.

To: The Eternal Thorn in My Side <3

From: Rory

Sent: 1:32:37 p.m.

Oh hush. You’re just as glad as I am that the plan is working.

To: My Favorite Subject to Annoy <3

From: Chase

Sent: 1:32:59 p.m.

You know me so well xoxo :))

 

“Chase you aren’t listening to me!” Kyle said, just noticing that Chase was texting someone on his phone - probably Rory if that dopey grin that ate all of his face had anything to say about it.

“I totally am, buddy!” Chase stuffed his phone in his pocket before he turned his full attention to Kyle. “But I just keep on thinking to myself. Why haven’t you told Lena how you feel about her yet?”

“What, like you did immediately with Rory? You two were dancing around each other for years!”

“Which is precisely why I am telling you to go out there and tell Lena how you feel so you aren’t wasting any more time.” Kyle opened his mouth to say something but Chase cut him off. “And don’t you dare say that she doesn’t feel the same for you because I can definitely assure that she does.”

“She does?” Kyle asked softly, eyes dropping unconsciously to the elegantly written Lena LaMarelle on the slip of paper that he was holding.

“Yeah, she does.”

Kyle nodded once. Then again. And another, more resolutely this time and pulled out his phone.

To: Lena

From: Kyle

Sent: 1:43:32 p.m.

hey lena :) can we talk?

To: Kyle

From: Lena

Sent: 1:43:45 p.m.

Yeah, sure! I’m in the library right now cause I had to return a couple of books but I can meet you in front of English in 5?

To: Lena

From: Kyle

Sent: 1:44:05 p.m.

sounds good :)

~oOo~

Rory and Chase high fived each other when they saw each other next.

“Think it’ll work?” Chase asked after they settled down on the grassy hill.

“Well, I certainly hope so.”

“Aww,” Chase cooed, his grin spreading from ear to ear. “Is Aurora Landon secretly a romantic?”

“Shut up, Chase,” Rory laughed as she shoved him gently with a push to his shoulder. Chase’s laugh rang brightly in the afternoon sun. They sat eating their lunch in comfortable companionable silence for a few moments, waiting something, anything, to happen.

“Chase, look!”

Across the quad, was Kyle Zipes and Lena LaMarelle holding hands and beaming brighter than the sun with happiness.

“As I leave and breathe, it actually worked!”

Rory, who was practically bursting with merriment, dropped her smile in a second (just to mess with Chase, of course). “Thanks for the vote of confidence, Chase.”

Chase just laughed and kissed Rory on the cheek in response.

Chapter Text

Rory held her little sister Dani’s hand as they waited in line for Santa at the local mall. And while Rory loved her sister with all her heart, she was a little miffed that her dad and her stepmom, who were supposed to go with them for their annual tradition, bailed on them both because they were running late in their shooting schedule. Again.

“Hey,” Rory nudged Dani. “Do you know what you’re going to be asking Santa for Christmas?”

Dani, who was looking a little down, cheered up. “Yeah! But I’m not going to tell you. That’s a secret between me and Santa.”

Rory laughed at how adorable her six-year-old sister was as Dani became more and more excited when the two started to near the front of the line.

“Alright ladies, Santa will be with you in a minute,” said a cheerful voice. Rory, who was listening to Dani chatter about her latest adventures in school, looked up to see who that voice belonged to. Her heart skipped a beat. He was dressed as Santa’s elf, had bright green eyes, curly golden hair that fell into his eyes, and a wide mischievous smile that did things that caused butterflies to flutter in her middle.

“Oh, no, I’m the one who’s supposed to meet Santa!” Dani chirped when it became clear to her that Rory wasn’t going to respond.

Cheerful Boy knelt down to Dani’s height. “Is that right?”

“Yeah!” Dani giggled when Cheerful Elf Boy tugged on a loose lock of her hair, smile bright and wide.

“And what’s your name?” Cheerful Elf Boy asked.

“I’m Dani. This is my big sister Rory,” Dani replied. She leaned to stage whisper to Cheerful Elf Boy, “Rory, doesn’t believe in Santa.”

“I believe in Santa!” Rory exclaimed, snapping out of her reverie of admiring the boy’s dimples.

“Oh yeah?” Cheerful Elf Boy - as Rory began calling him in her head - asked, his grin growing ever impossibly wider and mischievous. “What are you planning to ask Santa for Christmas this year?”

“I, uhhh, I am not going to tell you,” Rory stammered, falling back on the excuse that her sister gave her not a few minutes ago. “That would take away from the magic of the gift, isn’t that right, Dani?” Rory asked her sister. Dani nodded in agreement, a smirk playing on her lips as she watched her sister blush and stammer under the piercing eyes of the boy in front of her.

“Well, it’s time for Dani to go take her picture with Santa!” Cheerful Elf Boy exclaimed. Dani cheered and scurried over to Santa eagerly, leaving Rory with Cheerful Elf Boy.

“My name is Chase,” Cheerful Elf Boy offered, before letting an awkward silence fill the space between them.

“Oh, Santa’s elves have names?” Rory teased with a twinkle in her eye.

“Hey!” Chase, mock hurt coloring his voice. Rory couldn’t help but laugh in response.

Chase’s dimples grew more defined at the sound of her laughter and said, “I get off my shift in about five minutes. Want to go get ice cream?”

Rory pretended to think about it for a second before replying, “Yeah. Yeah I’d like that very much.”

Dani, watching them from Santa’s lap with an increasing amount of merriment, whispered into Santa’s ear: “I want two things for Christmas. A camera so I can make movies like my dad and for my big sister to be the happiest person in the world.