Snow Day

Prompt: Challenge #518. Snow Day by Writer’s Choice. Writer’s Choice LiveJournal Community

This one was too sweet to pass up. :grins:


Liana Mir

Series Listing

16 — 02. Summer

When the Clock Strikes Midnight

16 — 02. Summer through 03. Autumn

Wake and Thrive

16 — 03. Autumn through 17 — 01. Spring

Its Own Absolution

16 — 03. Late Autumn

After the Grief

16 — 03. Late Autumn

Battery Acid

17 — 02. Summer

Accounting for Redemption

17 — 02. Summer

Counting Heartbeats

18 — 01. Spring

Song Between the Waking and the Dreaming

20 — 04. Winter

Echoes of Anchor Lost

21 — 01. Spring

Don’t Remind Me That It’s Over

21 — 02. Summer

Welcome

21— 02 Summer through 22 — 01 Spring

Name Me Another (or Glass Angel, Redux)

22 — 01. Spring

Glass Angel

22 — 01. Spring

Pause the Sonata

22 — 02. Summer

Without a Reason

22 — 03. Autumn

Learning Legato

23 — 02. Summer

Acceptable Cost

23 — 02. Summer

History Lesson on the Night Train

23 — 03. Autumn

Abyss Looking Back

23 — 03. Autumn

Collateral Damage

23 — 03. Autumn

Five Reasons I Love You

23 — 03. Autumn

Little Things

23 — 03. Autumn

Owning Beauty

23 — 04. Winter

Dream the Dance

23 — 04. Winter

Snow Day

24 — 02. Summer

As the River Breathes

AU 21 — 04. Winter

Normal written in coffee grounds

Snow Day

Ashen wondered briefly if perhaps he was no regular-type human as Pieter had professed but if he were instead a naturally gifted with the ability to charm half-asleep girlfriends who did not wish to be awake.

23 — 04. Winter
Kingdoms and Thorn Science Fiction Romance
Short Story

Pieter waded over through the deep drifts to Ashen’s apartment before she was even awake and rang the bell. It made her wish for a moment that her “special” ability was able to silence him without hurting him. Instead, she opened the door and let it frame her scowl and crossed arms.

But Pieter had a glib playfulness that was quite difficult to put off. He leaned over into the doorway, snow glittering from his short brown hair and on the shoulders of his coat, boyish grin on his face. “Come out with me. It’s beautiful.” She wondered briefly if perhaps he was no regular-type human as he had professed but a naturally gifted with the ability to charm half-asleep girlfriends who did not wish to be awake.

“No,” she replied perfunctorily.

“Haven.” He drew out the name as if she were the one being unreasonable.

She liked to hear him call her Haven, though she had not yet taken to calling herself that. It was easier to be a haven to him than to feel very sheltered herself. Nevertheless, she was above his wheedling ways—or so she told herself. “I have students,” she reminded him.

Pieter sighed in exasperation. “Take a snow day then. No one needs to learn piano today.”

She tilted her head at him and furrowed her brows in genuine puzzlement. “A snow day?”

“It’s cold.” He ticked off points on his fingers. “The streets are coated in ice. Too slick for driving. And it’s a veritable fairyland of drifts out there. Perfect for snow fights and sledding and dangerous for your students to try to make their appointments. The traditional reaction from responsible adults is to call a snow day.”

Bewildered at the very idea. It was never too dangerous for work. Growing up as a military operative, for Ashen, work had always been dangerous. “Your ideas are strange.”

“No, they’re not. They’re normal and you’re exceptional, but try not to be exceptional today.” Pieter grinned down at her, the sparkle in his eyes matching the glitter of snow in his hair and coat. “Come out with me.”

Ashen leaned back in the doorway and considered. “You are strange,” she replied evenly, position unchanged, then went to make three calls and retrieve her coat.

He tugged her out of the door before she had barely set foot on the threshold and tapped one hand impatiently against the frame until she had finished locking up.

She turned on him, one cool eyebrow raised, which he ignored in favor of kissing the back of her hand with that irrepressible grin.

“Come on, Haven, smile.”

She shook her head at him, exasperated but affectionate and smiled. Briefly.

He took her gingerly down the icy walk toward their usual place, The Laregne Café, and she noted that while it was “dangerous” to him, he did not seem overly concerned about the ice impeding their progress. They settled in with hot coffee. He preferred his black and thick and, as far as she was concerned, disgusting. She preferred a variety of flavors but opted for cinnamon, sugar, and a dollop of cream.

“Snow day,” she prodded him after the coffee had sufficiently warmed up her insides.

Pieter laughed. “You’ve never made snow angels or gone sledding?”

His answer gave her pause. Did he really not know what childhood had been for her? Ashen looked into his curious brown eyes and searched back through her own memory to see if she had ever told him much about it. Startled, she realized she hadn’t. Some, but not enough to understand. She was of the ones who walked away from their history without looking back.

“I have never seen a snow angel,” she said slowly. “Is it like a snow man?”

He stared at her, startlement clear in his own gaze. He hummed thoughtfully, downed the rest of his coffee. “That must be rectified immediately.”


The first snowball hit her in the middle of her stomach. She looked at the smatterings of white dust left over her dark blue coat and brushed them off with her equally dark blue mitten. Then, she glanced up sharply at Pieter, who was shaking his head at her, and asked plainly, “What was that for?”

“It’s a snowball,” he explained. She watched him lean over and pick up a handful of snow to pack another one. “It’s called a snowball fight.”

Mystified, she said nothing.

The next snowball hit her gently on the cheek, exploding cold whiteness into her straight black hair and into her mouth, which had dropped open with surprise.

He laughed. Pieter James Andrews laughed at her, his large body shaking with the sound as he grinned at her shocked reaction.

Ashen closed her mouth in grim anticipation. Ashen had participated in many battles. Her idea of a good fight was one in which she lost her breath at least twice and walked away with at least a bruise. For someone fluent in lethal combat, it mattered to her that she had to work for it. He had no idea who he had challenged.

In one sense, this was quite a satisfactory battle. She had to work for it—primarily because she had never fought with snow as a weapon for the apparently sole purpose of having fun. In another sense, it was utterly satisfying because she was able to thoroughly bury him in snow and let him know in no uncertain terms exactly how she felt about being woken too early and dragged out into the cold to end up with snow in her mouth.

Pieter laughed from his loser’s position on the ground with her triumphantly clambering off of him and out of the drift. “Admit it,” he called after her, “you had fun with that.”

She tilted her head and considered “admitting” it, but shrugged. “It was quite satisfactory.”

“Come here.” He coaxed her back over, but she stayed standing over him.

She watched as he waved his arms up and down and swung his legs in and out for a minute, then stood up and brushed himself off beside her.

“That, Haven,” he announced, “is your snow angel. What do you think?”

Ashen stared at the imprint in the snow. It did indeed resemble the images of angels she had seen. A brief memory of shattered glass and a broken proposal. “Once I thought Jordan Michael would name me that,” she said quietly.

“Angel?” Pieter eyed her skeptically. “You’re a lovely woman, don’t get me wrong, but you’re not how I’d picture an angel.”

She gave him a rueful glare and tucked her hand in his arm. “We stopped seeing each other,” she informed him, miffed, and implying the rest, that she no longer cared much for her former suitor’s opinion in anything. “He couldn’t name me.”

Pieter laughed and nuzzled her cheek.

She pulled away, annoyed. “You’re cold.”

“And whose fault is that? Anyway.” Pieter’s hand tightened over hers. “I named you.”

Haven. She did like that name. Perhaps she would use it more with others, but she liked it especially because it was really only something she shared with Pieter.


She had no idea how many things could be done in the snow. No wonder Pieter liked to go out and spend the whole day in it. He bought a sled and took her to the longest, steepest hill in Bellyn to push her down it. She was a much better sled driver than he was.

“I think I’ve made you smug,” he complained affectionately.

They drank hot cocoa and bought hot mugs of soup from the family outdoor restaurants in the Merchants Kingdom, then took the tram to the open park at the outside edge of Bellyn where the stars were visible in the brief half hour before city lights came on in the evening. The Outskirts, that jurisdiction was called, where it was law to leave the lights off until eight o’clock for the purpose of conserving what little energy the kindom purchased from Merchants.

Ashen leaned against a peeling white birch while Pieter settled their sled by an elaborately wrought bench in iron and wood. The stars were coming out, bright pinpricks over the park. She had always loved cities, the plain-minded anonymity of them, nevertheless she had always loved the stars when she left those cities behind.

“Haven.” Pieter’s hand brushed hers.

A year ago, she would have shifted her attention to him immediately. This was not a year ago. She kept her eyes on those bright pinpricks until with a small, soft sigh, she turned away and gave him her attention. It was still new to her, this giving. Pieter was easier than most to give gifts to, perhaps because he knew that’s what they were.

He wrapped his arms around her and she leaned against him instead of her tree. It was comfortable, pleasant, to feel his warmth while all around the wind and snow was cold and still.

“Perhaps snow days have a purpose,” she conceded to him.

“And here I thought they were strange.” But he wasn’t really chiding her, just murmuring a reply in the tone one uses when the words don’t matter.

They were quiet a while, enjoying the stars overhead, a rare sight for her lately. She had been living and working in the heart of Bellyn for the last few months without taking the time for something like this.

“Haven.”

She pulled away enough to look at him. He rubbed his hand over the back of his neck, and that made her raise her brow at him. Pieter was not often nervous. He shook his head and fished something out of his pocket and handed it to her.

“I know you want me to stop writing for the Thorn Republic and interrupting your schedule and all that,” his words came out in a rush, “but I still thought maybe you’d overlook that for now. It’s what I do. I write, and I try to do you and yours justice. You know that.”

She hadn’t brought up that argument in a while now, resigned if not content with the fact that he was still a loyal citizen of the Thorn Republic and she was still a former rebel and current citizen of Elifs Quarter, Bellyn in the Kingdoms cities of the western territories. It made her wonder why he was bringing up something so completely irrelevant. She opened the small box he had given her and blinked at the small gold band inside with its tiny, perfectly formed emerald.

She looked up at him, warning in her eyes. “What are you asking me?”

He glanced away, then stared back into her eyes, warning noted and not heeded. “I’m asking if you’ll marry me. Anyway.”

She looked at him for a long time and considered carefully whether this was indeed what she wanted for the rest of her life, even knowing that he had flaws as many as she did. He did interrupt her work. He did do things that pained her because he did love his country, the very one she hated with as much fierceness as she had ever worked up for anything. He was playful; she was practical. He was a morning person and had the decidedly annoying habit of trying to win her over to his ways.

But he made her smile. He made her feel like a human woman instead of a human weapon. He made her forget that once, not long enough ago, an eight-year-old boy had named her Wings of Death—rightly. He made her forget that once, not long enough ago, she could not even comprehend the idea of having a future.

She looked at him for a very long time, then slipped his ring on her finger and tucked her hand in his arm and leaned her head on his shoulder. “Let’s go home,” Haven said softly, smiling.

#


Kingdoms and Thorn Science Fiction Romance

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