A/N: This story came from a request by LadyBritish after reading a Qrow/Winter fic I did on AO3. As requested by LadyBritish, Ivory is going to have Asperger's (hence the "mental disabilities" tag). LadyBritish is providing me lots of insight and advice on how Ivory's character should be fleshed out, so I hope to be doing Ivory justice.
This first chapter involves some mild explicit scenes.
Ten Years Ago, Kingdom of Vacuo
The tavern was filled to the brim with joyous huntsmen and huntresses, all celebrating the successful eradication of the Grimm. One of the cities was experiencing a rapid growth of Grimm numbers nearby, and Vacuo sought outside help from the other kingdoms. Atlas and Vale quickly joined forces and helped Vacuo slay the Grimm before they became a more serious threat. With the Grimm population now at a more stable number, tonight the hunters gathered together for a celebration before heading back to their respective kingdoms. One huntsman who was truly enjoying himself was Qrow Branwen, taking advantage of the complimentary food and drinks being served, especially the latter.
"Does this kingdom know how to treat a hard working huntsman or what?" said Qrow, gulping down another beer from his stein.
"Here here!" said Port, raising his stein to Qrow's. "Truly a feast for warriors!"
"I'm just glad I don't have to clean up your messes," said Goodwitch, annoyed as usual by Qrow's antics.
"Jeez Glynda," said Qrow, "lighten up! It's a party! Let loose for once in your life!"
"Party or not, we still need to maintain a professional demeanor while in another kingdom."
"Oh my God, you're sounding just like James."
"She has a point, Qrow," said Ozpin. "As much as I'd want all of us to enjoy ourselves, any reckless behavior can be seen as a slight against our kingdom, so please try to contain your excitement to a more manageable degree."
"Yeah yeah," said Qrow. "If anyone needs me, I'll be talking to more interesting people."
Qrow got up and headed to the bar to talk to the prettiest woman he could find.
On the opposite side of the tavern was the Atlas military led by James Ironwood. Whereas the other huntsmen were acting rowdy, Ironwood strictly ordered his men to not get caught up in the festivities. Sitting next to Ironwood was his new recruit, the eldest daughter of the Schnee family, Winter. Having recently turned eighteen, Winter joined the Atlas military to become a Special Operative and was Ironwood's personal apprentice. Ironwood was going over Winter's performance of her first SO mission.
"You showed good form out there," said Ironwood. "However, I noticed in some instances you went after Grimm that were beyond your current skill level. In other instances, you pursued Grimm you otherwise didn't need to eradicate."
"I got carried away," said Winter. "Once I defeated one of them, I couldn't help but continue pursuing more to defeat."
"I understand how good it feels to defeat the enemy, but you need to learn to choose your battles and send out your men appropriately. We'll discuss this further back home, but for now, here's to a successful mission."
Ironwood poured two glasses of wine for himself and Winter. The two raised their glasses and took a small sip. While Winter remained docile at her table, deep down she wanted to jump up and celebrate like the rest of the huntsmen. She was so happy to have completed her first real mission, making her decision to join the military rather than stay at some business college worth it.
As Winter took another sip of wine, she got a call on her scroll. She checked her scroll and instantly felt dreadful; it was from her father.
"Excuse me General," said Winter. "My father is calling me."
"Dismissed," said Ironwood.
Winter stood up and went outside so she can hear better, and to avoid having people witness what was sure to devolve into a fight.
Qrow was hitting on the huntresses at the bar, but sadly, none of them were interested in hooking up with someone they saw as an old man. Despite his failure, Qrow simply shrugged it off and went back to drinking another beer. As he looked around for someone new to talk to, he heard someone barge through the entrance of the tavern. He turned around and saw a familiar white-haired ice queen looking livid. Qrow and Winter had only talked to each other a couple of times from the meetings Ozpin and Ironwood held regarding this mission, and right away they didn't get along. Winter saw Qrow as an annoying brute who had no right calling himself a professional, and Qrow saw Winter as just another pencil pushing lackey under Ironwood's dictatorship.
With that said, he still felt the need to go over and see what was bothering the ice queen. Qrow got up and took a seat right next to Winter.
"Looks like the ice queen has got a hot temper," said Qrow. "What's eating you up?"
"Not tonight, Qrow," said Winter. "Please for the love of God, I don't need your bullshit tonight!"
"Look, I know we don't exactly get along, but tonight should be a happy night. We saved a kingdom and kicked Grimm ass, so I'm not leaving until I see you smile like everyone else!"
"I'm not in the mood to smile right now."
"Too tense to even smile, huh? I know just what will relax your nerves. Barkeep, two Scotches on rocks!"
The barkeep quickly poured two glasses of Scotch for Qrow and Winter. Winter immediately took her glass and tried to down the whole drink in one go. It was the first time Winter ever had a drink outside of wine and realized how bitter Scotch is, nearly spitting it back up upon realizing her misjudgment.
"Easy there, kid," said Qrow. "You should never drink out of anger. Now, what's on your mind?"
"My father is being a pain in the ass as usual," said Winter. "Son of a bitch thinks he can control me like I'm one of his business assets."
"Well, you know how the saying goes: His roof, his rules."
"That's the reason why I joined Atlas' military; to get out from under his damn roof." Winter finished the rest of her glass and signaled the barkeep for another shot. "He wants me behind a desk to run one of his companies, turn me into just another executive crony."
"That's just how dads are," said Qrow. "He wants to do what he thinks is best for you and protect you from the dangers of the outside world. I mean, a lot of parents don't like their kids taking dangerous jobs like soldiers or huntsmen."
"As if!" said Winter, taking another sip of Scotch. "That man makes his decisions methodically. He doesn't see people; he sees cogs in a system. If I died, he'd just replace me like everything else of his that breaks. That man doesn't love me."
"Yeah, you're probably right. This is Schnee we're talking about after all."
"You're not one to pull punches, are you Qrow?"
"Never see the reason not to. How do kids these days put it? 'I keeps it real!'"
"As much of a jerk as you are, I can respect that."
Qrow and Winter tipped glasses and drank another shot of Scotch each. Winter didn't know if it was the alcohol or being in the presence of Qrow, but she can feel herself starting to feel a lot more at ease.
"Someday when I have kids," said Winter, "I hope to never be like my father."
"You say that now," said Qrow, "but in the end, everyone winds up like their parents."
"Out of curiosity, do you have kids?"
"Aside from my two beautiful nieces, nada."
"Do you ever plan on having kids?"
"Nope! You'll never see me attached to a ball and chain, let alone have kids!"
"Bachelor for life, huh?"
"Damn right! Don't need a woman holding me back from doing what I love!"
"Then you're missing out on the great experience that is romance."
"Somehow, I think I can manage."
As Qrow and Winter continued to chew the fat at the bar while enjoying their drinks, Ironwood was starting to get worried. It had been a while since Winter stepped out to talk to her father, and she didn't return to their table. Ironwood got up to look for Winter. To his surprise, he found her sitting at the corner of the bar talking to Qrow.
"Is everything all right, Winter?" asked Ironwood.
"It is now!" said Winter, finishing her glass of Scotch.
"Winter, what have you been drinking?"
"A couple of Scotches," replied Winter. As soon as the barkeep poured another shot for her, Winter held up her glass and smiled. "Make that three!"
"Winter, you cannot be drinking so heavily like this!"
Ironwood took the glass out of Winter's hand before she can even get a taste.
"You put her up to this, didn't you Qrow?"
"So the lady wants to drink," said Qrow. "It's not like I'm her boss!"
"He has a point, sir," replied Winter. Ironwood was not amused by Winter's change in behavior.
"I expect better discipline from you, Winter," said Ironwood. "I think you've had enough partying for one night. I want you back in your hotel room now, and Qrow, since you like to be such a gentleman, you can escort her."
"But sir, I'm not-"
"Those are your orders, Miss Schnee, and I expect you to follow them!"
"Come my lady," said Qrow, "I'll take you back."
Qrow stood up and held out his hand, putting on a smug grin to appear more like a gentleman. Winter reluctantly grabbed Qrow's hand and was escorted out of the tavern. Luckily the hotel Winter was staying in was only a couple of blocks away, so it wouldn't be a long walk.
As they walked down the street, Qrow can hear Winter mumbling to herself.
"God dammit," muttered Winter over and over again.
"What's wrong now?" asked Qrow.
"I just disrespected the General and made an idiot of myself. He's going to reprimand me hard for sure!"
"So what?" yelled Winter, letting go of Qrow's hand. "It means I can lose my job, you ass! My career will be over and I'll have to crawl back to my father!"
"Okay ice queen, no need to flare up like that! I'm just saying this is James we're talking about; he's not exactly the best guy to work for. Hell, I'd probably rather work for Schnee than Captain Jimmy."
"I respect the General, okay? Ironwood is a man of action! He'll fight on the frontlines himself if he has to! I'm honored to be serving under him!"
Winter almost felt like bursting into tears. She was extremely nervous about her situation, especially if it meant having to work for her father like he always intended. Qrow patted Winter on the back.
"You're going to be fine," assured Qrow. "I doubt James is going to fire you over one minor incident. You're too valuable of a brown noser for him to just let go."
"Even when you try to be assuring," said Winter, "you're still such an ass. But...thanks, I guess." Winter felt her anxiety start to subdue and formed a little smile, enough to satisfy Qrow.
"You're welcome, my lady," said Qrow, putting on his fake smug smile.
Finally arriving at the hotel, the two headed to the elevator. Winter's suite was located near the top floors of the hotel. With the two standing alone in the elevator, Winter was having more thoughts about Qrow.
"At first I thought he was just an irresponsible manchild, but his carefree attitude made him easy to hang around with. I feel far less anxious to talk to him than I ever do with Ironwood. Ass or not, the man is always brutally honest. Never holds back his feelings, feels free to do what he wants, and he looks pretty good. Wait, why am I thinking of that all of a sudden? I don't care about his looks! Although..."
Winter was so entranced in her thoughts about Qrow that she didn't realize when they got off the elevator and were standing in front of her hotel room door.
"Here we are," said Qrow. "I'm sure you can take things from here."
"Huh?" said Winter. "Oh, we're here!"
"You spacing out there, ice queen?"
"No! It's just..."
"Whatever. Good night, ice queen."
"Wait!" said Winter, grabbing Qrow's hand before he can leave.
"What now?" said Qrow, starting to get annoyed. "Need me to tuck you into bed?"
"Could you...well...stay with me for a bit longer?"
"Yeah, I guess I can keep you company for a little while. I doubt Ozzy and the others are waiting up for me."
Winter opened her hotel room door and took Qrow into the living room of her deluxe suite. Qrow looked around and was irked to see how big the suite was.
"So this is what James wastes his money on?" asked Qrow, sitting down on the couch and placing his feet on the coffee table. "Who needs an apartment sized room for a friggin' huntsman mission?"
"For someone who doesn't like the space," said Winter, taking a seat next to Qrow, "you were quick to make yourself comfortable like that."
"Might as well take advantage while I can."
"Speaking of advantages, now that it's just between you and me...can I ask you some things?"
"Were you serious about not having kids?"
"Absolutely. I don't have the time or patience to deal with some little nightmares who never listen, or having to hear their mother nag about awful her day was while I'm out risking my God damn neck to provide for them."
"So you really don't plan on getting married either?"
"Didn't we already have this conversation?"
"Yes, but I wasn't sure if you were truly being honest. Just what are your plans for the future, Qrow?"
"To keep doing what I'm doing. I'm not the romantic, family type kind of man. I'm a huntsman first, foremost, and forever. It's what I was born to do."
"...I guess your mind is already made up."
"You sound disappointed. Were you expecting anything different?"
"I was trying to confirm what I thought of you. On the one hand, you come off like a man who wants to avoid the responsibility of raising a family. On the other hand, you're free to do what you please, and well...it makes me kind of jealous."
"I'm sorry, did I hear that right?" asked Qrow, leaning towards Winter while cupping his ear. "The rich Schnee girl is jealous of ME?"
Winter suddenly got on the couch and grabbed Qrow by the collar and pulled him towards herself.
"You're damn right I'm jealous! While I have to obey my father and Ironwood, you don't have to take shit from anybody! You are your own man!"
Winter placed a finger on Qrow's chest, a devilish grin forming on her face.
"And a damn sexy one at that."
"I have to admit," said Qrow, moving Winter's hair aside to get a better view of her face. "For a girl named Winter Schnee...you are hot as hell."
"You know...since we're already here with nowhere else to go..."
Winter and Qrow slowly crawled closer to each other until they both had their arms wrapped around each other's waist.
"Let's cap this celebration with a bang. What do you say, Qrow?"
"I was never one to turn down a pretty lady's request."
As soon as Qrow accepted Winter's request, the two locked lips in a passionate, lust filled kiss. After making out on the couch for several minutes, the two quickly moved to the bed and discarded their clothing. Qrow wrapped his arms around Winter and bit down on her neck, leaving a bright pink love mark in his wake. Qrow left several marks all over Winter's body that was sure to be questioned by Ironwood, but Winter didn't care. She didn't care that her first time was going to be with a man at least a generation older than her, or how she was surely not going to get enough sleep when she'd have to pack up and leave just before dawn. The only thought going through her mind was if Qrow was as good at making love like he was at hunting Grimm. By the time Qrow reached her lower lips and started performing cunnillingus, Winter was now far lost in pleasure to think about anything else.
After Winter had her first orgasm of the night, Qrow positioned himself on top of Winter; Winter wasted no time spreading herself for Qrow. Once Qrow fully inserted himself into Winter, Winter wrapped her arms and legs around Qrow. Qrow bent forward and locked lips with Winter, driving his tongue into Winter's mouth; Winter happily swirled her tongue around his, tasting a bit of her own juices. As Qrow was about to release, Winter held on to him as tight as she could; she wanted to experience his release inside of her.
Winter couldn't remember much after their first go-round, but what she did know was that this was sure to be the best night of her life.
One Month Later
Winter wanted to die.
It started when her chest began to feel more sensitive than usual. Then she noticed herself feeling more tired than usual after sparring sessions with Ironwood. At first Winter brushed it off as feeling the aftermath of her big mission in Vacuo, or perhaps she had eaten something unusual during her stay, and that she'd feel normal again after a few days. Those few days were now turning into weeks, and to top it off, she could have sworn she was supposed to have her period several days ago. All the signs were pointing to the one thing Winter was hoping wasn't true.
But when her pregnancy test read positive, she can feel her soul leave her body. Life as she knew it was over.
Now Winter was sitting in her father's office in a meeting consisting of just her, Schnee, and Ironwood. Winter had initially told only Ironwood about her pregnancy, hoping he would confide it to himself, but Ironwood soon told Winter's father afterwards believing that Schnee had to know what was going on. Winter should have known Ironwood would do such a thing as Ironwood was fiercely loyal to Schnee - it was that loyalty that helped convince Schnee to have Winter join the military in the first place - but she always trusted Ironwood's decisions. Her father then called for a meeting with the three of them.
Whereas most fathers would flip out upon hearing such news, Schnee kept himself calm and collected. That made Winter feel worse than if he was angry; it had to mean Schnee had something planned for his daughter, and knowing him, it was going to be for his benefit.
"My dear eldest daughter," said Schnee, "you're now facing quite a dilemma. I have to say, I thought it would be at least another five years before I would become a grandfather. Children grow up so fast, don't they?"
"Mister Schnee," said Ironwood, "I am deeply sorry for allowing this to happen under my watch!"
"Now now Ironwood, it wasn't you who made the reckless decision. So Winter, what do you plan to do now?"
"I'll resign from the military effective immediately," said Winter. "I'll take whatever position you have."
"I'm sorry, but who was it that said they would climb the ranks of the Atlas military and would not need any more of my charity? I'm afraid I can't let someone with that attitude work under my employ. But don't worry Winter; I'm sure a single mother working as an SO in training can make plenty of money to support her child; and I'm sure you'll find plenty of time to take care of your child while working a job requiring more hours of labor than most full-time jobs."
"I get it!" yelled Winter. "You win, okay? I can't handle having this child by myself! Is that what you want to hear?"
"Winter, calm yourself!" said Ironwood.
"Relax, my daughter," said Schnee. "Now that you've admitted defeat, I will be more than glad to help you. It would be a disastrous affair for you to have that child, but thankfully, since you're only one month into your pregnancy, it won't be hard to get an abortion. I'll arrange for an appointment-"
"No!" interrupted Winter, standing up from her chair. "I am not getting an abortion! I'm keeping this child!"
"That's ridiculous!" said Ironwood. "Winter, you are in no position to be raising a child right now! You haven't even completed your SO training!"
"I know, but I can't simply kill my child just because I can't handle the responsibilities!"
"You're talking nonsense! Are you really going to throw your life away just to raise the child of some drunken bastard who-?"
"Enough!" said Schnee. "Winter, please sit back down."
Winter sat down, furious that the two of them even contemplated such a decision.
"I see you feel really strongly about keeping this child, despite the circumstances. If you really want to keep this child, I will help you."
"Under what conditions?" asked Winter. She knew there was going to be a catch, so there was no reason to feel relieved just yet.
"Just one. When the time comes, that child works for me."
There it was. That was the plan Schnee had all along. With Winter refusing to work under him, and Weiss being a mystery, Schnee had no one left in the family to pass his tainted company along to. But now that Winter was expecting, if his daughters weren't going to take over the business, at least it would be his grandchild. Schnee had Winter right where he wanted her, and Winter, like so many competitors who felt Schnee's wrath, was powerless to do anything.
"How are you going to help?" asked Winter.
"If word got out you had a child out of wedlock, it would destroy this family in the eyes of the public, so here's what we'll do. You'll be 'assigned' a mission in Mistral during your pregnancy. I have many connections with people in Mistral who can keep the news from getting out. Once your child is born, we'll put out a story claiming you found the child abandoned, and the child will be raised here as my adopted daughter. The only people who will know who this child's real parents are will be you, me, and Ironwood. At no point do I want you to contact the real father, and at no point is your child to ever know who their real parents are. Do we have a deal?"
Schnee stuck out his hand, waiting for Winter to confirm. There was no point for Winter to mull it over; Schnee had her in checkmate. Winter looked away from her father and shook his hand with a feeble grip.
The following week, Schnee and Ironwood prepared everything for Winter's stay in Mistral. As far as anyone outside of them knew, Winter was being assigned on a covert mission while still undergoing training with Ironwood. The mission was scheduled to last approximately eight months. For Winter Schnee, those eight months would feel like a lifetime.
Eight Months Later
Schnee and his daughter Weiss were sitting down to dinner when one of the servants came to Schnee with the house phone.
"Sir, you have a phone call. It's from Winter."
"From Winter?" said Weiss, suddenly looking up. Winter had only spoken to Weiss a handful of times, just to assure Weiss that she was okay during her big secret mission. Schnee took the phone and headed to another room. After Schnee was done with his conversation, he hung up and sat back down with Weiss. Weiss was worried that something terrible had happened to Winter.
"Father, did something happen to Winter?"
"Winter is just fine. She's going to return from her mission very soon. However..."
"What's going on? What happened to Winter?"
"There was a raid involving the White Fang. They invaded someone's home and took the occupants hostage, and then ultimately killed them. After Winter took out the White Fang, they inspected the home and found a baby girl inside. It seems the hostages killed were that girl's parents. Winter is going to bring that child home with her. Weiss, you're going to have a little stepsister."
"A...stepsister? I'm going to have a baby sister?"
Weiss couldn't believe what her father had told her, and she really didn't until a few days later when the Schnee family arrived at the airport and off of the airship came Winter, carrying a little child in her arms. Weiss immediately ran up to get a look at the child. She had her eyes closed and a bit of white hair on her head.
"She's so cute!" exclaimed Weiss.
"Does the child have a name?" asked Schnee.
"We couldn't find any signs of a name in the home," said Winter. "So I've decided to name her Ivory. Ivory Schnee."
"Hello Ivory!" said Weiss. "If you can hear me, I'm Weiss!"
"Weiss, please," said Schnee. "You may wake the child up. I'll have the servants take things from here. Come Winter, you must feel very exhausted from such a mission."
"Indeed," said Winter.
The servants took Ivory and transported her in a separate vehicle for safety, while Winter and Weiss were in their limo heading back to their manor. Weiss was trying to ask Winter many questions about everything Winter had done during the past eight months until their father ordered Weiss to leave Winter alone.
"Your sister is tired and exhausted, Weiss," said Schnee. "Winter will explain everything when she gets home. For now, she needs some rest."
"I'm sorry!" said Weiss.
"It's okay, Weiss," said Winter. "It's great to be back home."
"I still can't believe you brought home a baby! I'm sorry her parents were killed by those filthy monsters, but I'm kind of excited. Now I get to be an older sister like you!"
"Yeah Weiss...you're an older sister now."
Winter smiled for Weiss' sake. Hearing Weiss call herself an "older sister" felt like a stab right through Winter's heart. As far as her little sister and the world at large knew, Ivory Schnee was adopted after her parents were murdered by the White Fang. For the rest of her life, Winter would have to live with this lie of Ivory being the third Schnee daughter. It was a lie that Winter was going to have to take to her grave.
A grave she sometimes wished she was in right now.