Author's Note: I starting writing this almost ten years ago (seriously mind boggling) and stumbled on it again, so I thought I would revamp it a little. Still the same idea, hopefully just ... improved with age? Let me know what you think. Chapter updates will be regular since I've got a lot of material to play with already.

It was very close to Christmas in my small town on the outskirts of Boston. The snow fell with the serene beauty only matched in fairy tales. Snowflakes clung to my hair as I walked down the path home from school. The scene, although filled with children of all ages, seemed oddly quiet. Something seemed wrong. No, no it couldn't be right. There was snow all around, at least five inches, and he hadn't showed up anywhere. This was his domain, torturing me was his domain. Then, as if on cue, a snow ball hit me square in the face. Surveying the area I found my attacker, a smirk plastered on his near frozen face.

"This is getting old you know!" I called to him. My self proclaimed arch enemy hurtled another snowball at me in reply, this one missed.

"Great aim, magnificent really, you should try out for the baseball team," I responded sarcastically. If there was one person to get under my skin it was him. Luckily I was in a good mood, the one snow had always put me in.

"Why Alexandria, what a pleasant surprise," the boy said sardonically, side note: I hated my full name.

"I'll bet. Aren't you getting a bit old for snowball fights?" I said walking towards him. I was up for a good battle of wits, however one sided it may have been.

"Never," Jeremy retorted with yet another snowball.

"I hoped you would act your age not IQ." This snowball thing was taking all the fun out of winter.

"That hurt, Alexandria."

"For the last time, Germie, never call me that, or I will be forced to tell your friends over there about the time when you were four and you..." I started through gritted teeth. We had grown up side by side, practically bred to be the best of friends, but you see how that plan worked. I had the misfortune of his mother being the best friend of mine, but this arrangement had some advantages.

"You wouldn't," he interrupted, eyes narrowing.

"Wouldn't I?" I challenged. Did he know nothing about me? Hell hath no fury like a woman tortured for 16 years.

"Fine, fine. You would think this one would succumb to my irresistible charm already," he said in mock sincerity to a friend. Charm is merely a way of getting the answer yes without asking a clear question, as my Grandma said.

"If it hasn't happened in sixteen years it never will," I rolled my eyes. His ego was the size of the Good Year Blimp. It didn't seem to register in his puny brain that he wasn't God's gift to the world.

"I know, the world would need to come to an end. Come on Andria, lets go," my friend Abby came up from behind and dragged me away, but not before I got a word in. As soon as our dear friend Jermie turned around I pelted him with a snowball or two.

"Ugh, that douche, I could just...Ugh," I fumed strangling an invisible person. My blood pressure must have soared during the brief interlude with him. Only two more years and I'd be rid of him for good.

"Jeez, Andria calm down. I thought I told you not to go within a hundred yards of him?"

"Well, he threw a snowball at me and I couldn't not say anything," my eyes widened incredulously.

She shook her head and sighed, "Do I have to keep an eye on you every minute? As long as I've known you, you have been a nice passive person, with one exception. Jeremy. Why is that?" There was some undertone in that I couldn't pick up on. What little I sensed I distrusted immediately.

"Years of exposure. His being a complete asshat. Maybe he repulses me to my very core?"

"Or the fact that your marriage was announced before you were born," she laughed. That wasn't something to laugh about! It's true, our mothers had discussed our futures over squeals of delight before we even took our first breaths.

"You are crazy, Abby." I shook my head and plugged along through the accumulating snow. My bag felt like it had rocks in it and was getting damper the longer we were outside.

"Thank you."

"Only you would view that as a complement," I deadpanned. My best friend was something of an odd duck, but somehow she had a knack for coming to your aid the moment you needed it. It was rare in this school especially. Aside from Abby, my friend group was relatively small. I liked it that way. As a whole, our school had a lot of idiots in it.

"Yup. Now how 'bout we stick to the one hundred yard rule?", she smiled.


However gladly her direction may have been followed, my mother had other plans. When I got home that day, not long after leaving Abby, she was waiting for me. Don't get me wrong I love her to death but sometimes she is too much. Today was one of those times.

"Hey Mom," I greeted coming through the door. She was spread out on the living room floor wrapping all of the Christmas gifts. The only thing I could think of then was that we had a lot of relatives and a lot of ugly wrapping paper.

"Hey Andria. Oh before I forget, I have some news," she picked her head up after taping up a perfectly crafted corner.

"Why don't I like the sound of it?" I sunk on to the floor next to her and began fiddling with scraps of the paper mindlessly.

"Guess where we are going Christmas Eve?" my mother said brightly, "And if you're going to sit there you may as well help wrap."

"Grandma's?" I guessed to appease her. Grandma was, although very eccentric, one of my favorite relatives. I picked up a toy for my youngest cousin, who would not care how badly his gift was packaged.

"No. No, that's Christmas day," she dismissed, biding me to guess again. Dread was the only emotion that registered. It couldn't have been any other family member, we lived to far away, and Christmas Eve was usually reserved for friends. Suddenly my mind would not let me forget who my mother's best friend was.

"Eh... I don't know Mom, who?" I asked awkwardly, not wanting an answer. I had never wanted it to be one of my father's co-workers in my life.

"Melody Graham invited us over, she says Jeremy is..."

"Mom! No! Do you hate me? Because if you loved your only daughter … " I protested.. At that point I was panicking. Maybe it seemed extreme to others, but at that moment I despised him so much that anything was possibility. The reason for my animosity towards him even I didn't understand, but the little I did was set in stone.

"Alexandria! You are to stop this infantile behavior immediately. I don't know what you're problem is with Jeremy, but we're going and it's final," my mother fumed, which wasn't like her. She was usually the passive understanding parent. I was seriously pushing my luck here.

"My sanity is at stake here you know that right?"

"You, dear, lost your sanity a long time ago, move on. And while we're on the subject, I expect you to be on your best behavior at Melody's or at least refrain from fighting with Jeremy," she said sternly, but I could see the amusement in her eyes.

"I'll try, but I make no promises."

"Yes because God forbid you be civil to that boy."

"I'm civil!" a sudden rush of indignation rose in me.

"Hah! Honey, even when you were a toddler you would fight with him.", she snorted.

"He started it by pouring sand in my hair." I grumbled. My mother only laughed and continued wrapping the presents. I went into the kitchen to fix myself some hot chocolate, which was desperately needed to calm my nerves. Just as I sat down to drink it I heard my mother curse under her breath from the living room. I wandered out of the kitchen to see what happened.

"What's wrong?"

"I forgot to pick up a present for someone and I don't have time to go out and get it.", she replied evasively, biting her lip.

"I'll go get it, whose it for?" I volunteered, I had to get back in her good graces, after all.

"No honey it's all right, I tell your father when he comes home.", she dismissed, failing to give me anymore information.

"He could be hours, trust me I'll do it." I wasn't taking no for an answer. I was going to need all the good will from her when I mysteriously fell ill the next day.

"If you insist, dear. Go to the store and pick up something for Jerem..." she started tentatively.

"You're kidding? Really?"

"You volunteered. No backing out." I reluctantly walked to the phone to call Abby. She would have a field day with this. Maybe I could get something very...memorable.

"Oh and no prank gifts!" she called to my retreating form. How does she always read my mind like that?

I called Abby, who, after five minutes of laughing, decided to come with me. Her house was so close she arrived within minutes. I sprinted out to her car.

"So much for the hundred yard rule huh?" Abby greeted me, hardly able to contain her smile.

"Haha. Funny Abs. Mock my situation."

"It's your own fault," she shrugged. I stared her down. "You were the one to declare the son of your mom's best friend your nemesis. That's just poor planning. You were begging for dramatic situations."

I shook my head and gritted my teeth. It wasn't my fault Melody's son turned into an ass in the first grade.

"So where to?" she asked. I had no answer, because that's when it struck me. What in God's name would I get him?

"Uh...that's a good question."

"Shouldn't you have known before we started driving?" Abby teased.

I simply glared at her. This was some cosmic joke. If there was a god I think he got off on screwing with me.

"Andria, think, what would he like?", she said slowly.

"What do I look like his stalker? I don't know, but I'm not spending all my money on that..."

"How about clothes?" Abby interrupted, likely getting sick of me. I shook my head, I didn't know his size.

"Cologne?" I scrunched up my nose.

"He doesn't wear any," I shook my head. Abby raised her eyebrows at me, but dropped it for once. I wasn't sure why everyone was on my case about Jeremy all the sudden. It's not like any of this was really new.

"Books … Music? You seem to like to think you have superior taste in those," Abby quipped.

"Could work, though I doubt my mom would be ok with my taking the easy road and getting him an itunes gift card," I mused, ignoring Abby's criticism. Tell her you don't like one band she likes and she gets so snippy. We wandered into the endangered species that is the local record store. I smiled to myself. The old hippies in the town refused to give into the digital revolution, which was great because they were avid proponents from introducing us youngins to vinyl.

They were giving out free coffee inside, which Abby and I readily accepted. I quickly found what I was looking for: an older Wilco album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Arguably their best one. I couldn't remember if Jeremy was into the band or genre, but rejoiced in the fact that he'd likely be frustrated that it was on vinyl. Not everyone has a record player.

Abby rolled her eyes at me, "Pretentious."

"Hi Mom, done wrapping?", I asked while coming through the door.

"Not quite. What did you get him and will it explode in his face?", she questioned cautiously.

"A record.", I answered simply.

"Vinyl, I'm impressed.", she replied looking it over.

"Ye of little faith."

"Well with your track record doubt was evident."

"Are you sure you need me there tomorrow?", I asked taking one last shot at the unavoidable.

"Hm let's see... insult my dearest friend to indulge my daughters unfounded animosity, or keep my best friend of twenty years. What to choose? What to choose? Sorry you lose, thanks for playing," she responded sarcastically. I rolled my eyes (people wondered why I was so cynical) and announced I was going to bed.

"Aw, party pooper. Come on!" she called after me. Sometimes she acts like a five year-old.

"Goodnight!" I called back down sweetly.

I became an insomniac that night. I stayed up at least another hour cursing my luck and wishing that I could've seen his face when he found out. That was what put me at ease that night. Simply knowing that he would hate this as much I as I did. To dwell on the negative of the situation was pointless, so I sought to find the good. The good would be his discomfort.

The next morning I awoke cheerful and refreshed, something my parents were not expecting.

"Morning Mom, Dad," I greeted, taking my seat at the table and pouring myself some cereal.

"Good morning," my father smiled, non-pulsed. My mother wore a puzzled look, as if she expected me to come down in a fit of rage.

"Don't worry I've made my peace Mom."

"Really now?"

"He'll be just as uncomfortable as I am, and we all know I enjoy making him uncomfortable. It's empowering," I smiled sweetly and bit into an apple.

"And how are you so sure he has a problem with you coming to his house? Maybe he wouldn't care either way," she took a jab at my sense of self importance. I observed my father watching us, amused.

"You don't know Jeremy like I do," I narrowed my eyes defensively.

"Well whatever keeps you happy and him alive," my father spoke up finally. My mom glared in his direction, obviously not agreeing to 'adding fuel to the fire' as my mother put it.

"Sarah, if it helps us to survive the night and keeps her from arguing with him all through dinner like last time, it's a welcomed change," he continued. I had a feeling he actually enjoyed our bickering, during dinner last year, as he mentioned, I caught him letting out a laugh or two.

"At least it's progress," she conceded. I felt a little bad for her. She did just want a nice Christmas with her closest friend. My resolve to enjoy the night as little as possible was weakening as I began to put myself in her position.

The next few hours we spent diligently putting the gifts in the car, getting dressed, and then double checking that we hadn't missed a present, person, or purse. All to soon it was time to make the mile long journey to the Grahams. I do love Jeremy's family, and they love me, and my family, extended included, all love him. I guess we are the misfits in all this, sort of the inverted Romeo and Juliet. Every since we were young there has been this blinding tension, hate as I now recognize it.

"We're here," my father announced as we pulled into the driveway. Here we go.