It was Christmas Eve time in the Troll village. Trolls were singing merrily together in the snow as snowflakes dropped from the sky, creating a blanket underneath the residents' feet. Everything was decorated for the holidays and it made Princess Poppy so happy!
The 15-year old played in the snow with her friends this Christmas Eve. They laughed as they pelted each other with snowballs and made snow angels.
"Creek! Heads up!" Poppy cried, throwing a snowball towards the wise troll. It hit his face and he started laughing. Poppy giggled and then looked towards her Hug time bracelet. It was almost blooming.
"Oh, I gotta go!" she told Creek as she walked towards the forest.
"Where to may I ask?" he asked in his charming voice.
"I'm going to give Branch his present!" Poppy said cheerfully. Every year, she gave the village grump a Christmas present to make him feel better. He always begrudgingly accepted it, although he didn't look like he liked it. Poppy will admit, she doubted if even she could make him happy. It didn't hurt to try.
"Poppy, the weather was predicted to turn into a blizzard soon. And Branch doesn't even appreciate your lovely gifts. He's not worth it," Creek told her, honestly. Poppy contemplated his words.
"It's okay! I'll just be really quick!" Poppy told him, running into the forest.
"And if I don't come back today, tell Dad that I'm just at Branch's!" she called back to the purple troll.
As the princess strolled through the forest, the weather really picked up fast. What started as powder falling softly to the ground, became cold harsh wind that seemed to be getting worse. A blizzard was definitely coming and Poppy was only wearing her dress.
"I-It's too late to turn back now..!" she told herself, shivering weakly. She could already see a familiar, snow covered boulder with a not-so-welcoming mat. If she could just reach it…
The blizzard was way too much. Poppy felt frozen and meek. She pushed herself to trudge on in the building snow on the ground. The coldness pieced her skin as she wrapped her arms around herself in an attempt to get warmer. Useless. Her hair whipped around all over the place as the wind kept changing.
For what seemed like an eternity, she reached the boulder. Poppy knocked on it as quickly as possible, losing feeling in her limbs. She was so cold…so numb…so…
She sneezed as the welcome mat opened up. A familiar pair of blue eyes appeared in alarm.
"Poppy?! What are you doing here?!"
"C-can I come in…?"
Branch wasted no time in pulling Poppy into the bunker and shutting all the doors closed. The bunker was much warmer than outside Poppy noted. She lost the feeling in her feet and leant on Branch to support herself, weakly. He didn't object. Branch pulled a lever down and they descended further into the bunker. While the elevator was descending, Poppy looked at Branch. He had a stern, angry and worried face.
When they reached the bottom, Branch hastily brought Poppy over to a sofa and sat her down. She didn't even have time to process what was happening. She felt…sick…
Branch left her quickly. Poppy looked around the bunker. It was cosy…
She realised that in front of the couch was a lit fireplace. Poppy rubbed her arms to try to get warmer. She still felt so frozen…
Branch returned to the room holding several brown and green blankets and quilts. He wrapped them around Poppy, still with a stern look his face.
"You're unbelievable. Walking around in a blizzard! What were you thinking?!" he scolded her, as he wrapped another layer around her body. She remained silent, but she examined his expression. He looked mad but also worried. As he finished wrapping her in the blankets, he left the room again.
"You could've died! You could've frozen! Or caught hypothermia! Or pneumonia! Honestly, sometimes I can't believe you…!" he ranted as he left, his voice growing quieter in the distance.
"Branch?" she called out weakly. She let out a sneeze and several coughs. Poppy snuggled into the blankets to get more warmth. They were soft, but they smelled like blueberry, dirt and sweat. She didn't care. At least she was getting warm and honestly, it was kind of comforting. The pink troll continued to shiver.
The grey survivalist returned with two mugs. They looked like they had tea in them.
"…and who knows what could've happened to the village if you died! Unbelievable! Don't you have any self-respect?" he continued ranting as he handed her a mug and sat angrily down with his own. Poppy smelled the tea. Gross. It smelled gross.
"Drink up. It will help," Branch said sternly, taking a sip from his own mug. Poppy reluctantly took a sip. It tasted better than it smelled. Branch put his mug down on a nearby table and sighed in exasperation.
There was an awkward silence.
"Sorry for…inconveniencing you…" Poppy apologised, quietly. She still felt a little weak and she honestly felt bad for wasting Branch's time. He seemed so mad…
Branch sighed again, his expression softening.
"Just…never do that again. Didn't you hear the warnings? Why are you here, anyway?" he asked, no longer furious, just stern.
"I just wanted to give you your Christmas present," she said, pulling a small, wrapped box out of her pink hair. It had a cute little bow on it. Branch took it from Poppy gently and unwrapped it. Inside was a small charm in the shape of a cowbell. He looked at her.
"It's not much but…it looked cute. I figured since I was your only friend, I'd give you something," she said, looking away, awaiting his refusal. It didn't come.
"Thanks…but…don't ever make a stupid decision like that, okay?" Branch said, quietly averting his eyes. Poppy looked at him. Did he just…express gratitude? And he didn't sound sarcastic this time. They sat in silence as they looked towards the fire. Poppy sipped her tea again. The drink and the blankets weren't doing enough, but they were helping.
"They said the blizzard won't stop until tomorrow…" Branch told her, fiddling with the charm in his hands before storing it in his hair. Poppy was suddenly glad she told Creek where she was. At least they wouldn't have to worry.
"…can I stay here until it stops?"
"Well, I don't want to be the one responsible for you turning into a Popsicle, do I?"
"Haha! POPsicle!" Poppy giggled at the pun. Branch rolled his eyes.
"Thanks, Branch. That's…nice," she said, referring to his help, genuinely smiling. Branch averted his gaze further away from her, his brows furrowing.
"Pfft, the whole village would blame me if you froze so…" he mumbled, although Poppy knew that wasn't just it. He was a good friend when you get on his good side. Other people just couldn't be bothered to try. Poppy was glad he at least cared about her well-being even a little bit.
She noticed him subconsciously rub his arm with his other hand. He was also shivering just a little bit.
"You cold?" she asked, suddenly feeling bad about having all the blankets wrapped around her. Branch looked at her and dropped his arm to his sides.
"Nah, I'm good…" he said, shrugging nonchalantly. Poppy rolled her eyes at his stubbornness. The princess looked at her Hug time bracelet and smirked.
"Well, I'm not," she said, giving a shiver.
"What do you mean?" Branch asked, arching his eyebrow. She had blankets and everything, how could she possibly still be cold?
Suddenly the familiar 'ting!' noise rang through the quiet bunker as Poppy's bracelet flower glowed. Branch widened his eyes.
"But it's hug time!"
"Fine. Don't. I'll just sit here all cosy with your blankets while you sit there and freeze," she teased, snuggling into the quilts. Branch, who was wearing his usual vest with no shirt, was pretty cold, as the only thing keeping him warm was the fire. And the tea. That's it. And Poppy had his blankets. And it's Poppy.
The survivalist let out a tiny sneeze.
"Awwww!" Poppy cooed at the adorable sound.
"Ugh, fine!" he groaned as he sat closer to her, allowing her to wrap the blankets around him as well and give him a big hug. Now, the two were sitting close and had the quilts snugly around them. Poppy released her grip but kept her arms around his body, leaning on his shoulder. This was one of the only times this grumpy grump ever let her hug him, so she'll take what she can get!
Branch would never admit to enjoying this. He'd never admit to even having a crush on Poppy…or even liking her at all. But…hugs from her weren't so bad, he supposed.
Branch subconsciously found himself wrapping his arms around Poppy and resting his head on hers. She giggled. Branch suddenly realised what he was doing, but he didn't pull back.
"Don't get the wrong idea. Body warmth just seems to be what's keeping me alive right now…" he stated, as-a-matter-of-factly.
"Yeah, yeah," Poppy replied in a teasing tone.
Ugh, this girl was going to be the end of him.
"Thanks for helping me, Branch. I really appreciate it," Poppy said closing her eyes. Now she was finally warm. The temperature was comforting.
Branch didn't reply. He didn't need to. The silence was relaxing. Against his will, he nuzzled her head slightly, hoping she wouldn't notice. She did, but the pink troll didn't mind. This was the most relaxed that she's ever seen him. And this was also the most…affectionate he's ever been. Maybe it's because she wasn't surrounded by everyone, or maybe it's because it was Christmas Eve, or maybe it's just because of the warmth, but Branch wasn't as grumpy as he usually was. She loved it.
All is calm…
All is bright…" the princess sang softly in the silence. She wondered if he was going to scold her for singing. Give her a lecture about the Bergens. Pull away from her. Something.
No, he didn't. He didn't say anything.
Poppy wondered if he would sing along. Even if he might have a terrible voice.
But there was no sound of him singing. He didn't join in. He just listened to Poppy. She couldn't help but feel even a little bit disappointed. But it's okay. He let her sing, hug him, and…cuddle with him. That was more than she could ask for from the grey troll. What are the chances he'll do this ever again? It was pretty low, so she'll savour the moment.
Poppy pulled her head back slightly to look at him. He was fixated on the warm fire, enjoying the calm atmosphere. The scent of blueberry and sweat filled Poppy's nose. Just like the blankets. In return, Branch could just smell strawberry bubblegum. She rested her head against his shoulder again. See? He can be happy. The others just have to give him a chance.
The survivalist was admittedly loving the moment, finally. I mean, he was huddled with Poppy and everything was calm and quiet. Merry Christmas, Branch! He let out a quiet sigh of tranquillity. They almost forgot about the bellowing blizzard outside.
Aw, man. What was he doing? Was he seriously doing this? This could ruin his reputation if Poppy told everyone. Everyone will think he's soft.
He's not soft.
It's her that makes him like this. And he likes it. Ugh, he was going crazy! He's confused. And he can't control what he's doing. Hugging her, nuzzling her, pulling her closer…this is stuff he'd never thought he could do! It's insane. Part of him hopes she would just buy that it's all to keep warm, and part of him wants her to know the truth. EVERYTHING WAS CONFUSING. GAH! This is why people should stay away from romance!
Branch allowed himself to glance at Poppy. Could it be possible that she likes him back…?
No! She likes that daft dimbo, Creek. Branch knows it. Everyone knows it. She's not that subtle. Even Creek knows it and he doesn't spare the chance to remind Branch of it. Oh yeah. Creek knew about his crush on Poppy. It was terrible. Branch couldn't trust if Creek would keep it a secret or not. It looks like he has so far, but Branch knew that if he were to threaten Creek in any way, the purple troll could easily inform the princess of his secret and RUIN HIS LIFE.
Branch wonders if Poppy has ever done this with the oh-so-wise troll. Probably.
"Do you normally do this on Christmas?" he asked her quietly.
"Sort of. Sure, we sit around the fire, all snug with warm drinks, but it's not normally this relaxing or quiet. We usually sing our hearts away. All of my friends, I mean. But I don't usually…cuddle with anyone," she replied, her cheeks slightly turning red.
"Oh, really? Not even with Creek?" Branch couldn't help but say. He tried not to show any bitterness in his voice.
"What is that supposed to mean?" she asked him accusingly. She stayed in the same position, though. Did Branch know about her crush on Creek? How? She was so good at hiding it!
"…have you ever done this with anyone?" Poppy asked him back.
"What do you think?" he asked sarcastically, "I always spend Christmas alone."
Poppy felt bad for him. However, Branch liked being alone, right? He was fine, right? But being alone on Christmas was especially sad. Even for him.
"If you want, we could celebrate every year. Just the two of us. Not a huge party," Poppy offered kindly, burying her face into his neck even more. It was just so warm. He was a friend in need and so was she. A friend in need of warmth.
"I don't have a choice, do I?"
"Nope!" Poppy replied smiling. Branch let out a small chuckle. The atmosphere made them tired, relaxed and sleepy. They didn't even know what time it was until Branch looked at an old hand-made clock. It was midnight.
"…Merry Christmas," he said, softly. It felt strange. Being with another person on Christmas. Did he like it…? Yes? No? Hm…
Yes, he does. As long as it's only Poppy.
He officially likes spending time with her. She wasn't completely annoying…
She officially likes spending time with him. He wasn't completely cold-hearted…
Poppy leaned her head against Branch's shoulder again, sleepily beaming.
"Merry Christmas, Branch."
"And just double-checking…promise not to mention this ever again?" he asked, half-heartedly. It was embarrassing, but he didn't expect her to keep it a secret. It's just something he got used to over the years. Her honesty.
Poppy smirked and leant her head up. She gave a quick kiss on his cheek and then laid her head down again.
Branch couldn't help but flush and look at her in shock. Poppy giggled at the look on his face. You know how rare it is for anyone to see Branch flustered? Pretty rare. But when he was, it was adorable.
"Promise," she said, falling soundly asleep.
Branch watched her eyes close before letting out a tiny sigh, a small smile plastered on his face. He took out the small cowbell charm out of his hair. Huh. Christmas could be nice.
Another one-shot I did but never shared. The original plan for this story was to have Branch and Poppy kiss, but that was too easy. This takes place pre-movie, if you didn't know. Christmas is coming soon so why not make a Christmas one for Trolls?
Don't worry more chapters of my other fics are coming soon. And if you haven't read my other fics...you...should?
Anyway, signing out,