A/N: This story has been buried in my hard drive for ten years (boy, do I feel old). I vaguely recall a writing challenge that called for a story written around the themes of snow, glass, and apples, but don't remember anything more than that. Part of me wants to blame etcetera-cat (for the story, not the memory loss), but don't quote me on that, either. Regardless, I found it this evening and dusted it off.


Snow, Glass, and Apples or The Best Laid Plans...

A heavy, wet snow had fallen overnight, blanketing the Collegium to mid-calf, another storm in a seemingly endless line of storms. Fortunately, it had broken at dawn, and Mero had recruited the Herald trainees to work in the Palace orchard. It was an unexpectedly early snow, and while many of the apples were not yet ready to harvest, if the weather continued as it was, they would all be lost to the freezing temperatures. And so, Mero had obtained permission of the Dean (who, together with the Queen, had spent all night in Council, and therefore didn't care if Mero wanted the students to dance a jig in the Throne Room) to cancel the morning classes and have those students who were interested report to him in the orchard for their respective assignments either of picking, piling, or carting the apples to the kitchens.

He was ruing the moment he had thought up what should have been a brilliant idea.

The students, cooped up like chickens for the past ten days of nasty autumn weather, were now running about like barbarians in the border regions. They were not calmly picking apples, piling them in baskets, and taking them by cart to the kitchens. Oh, no—they were throwing them about like so many projectiles, and what was worse, the Companions had joined in on their Chosen's fun. From what Mero could tell, the purpose of the game at hand was to throw the apples from trainee to trainee, down the line of trees, and over the heads of the Companions at such a height that they couldn't snatch them out of the air with their teeth, even at a running leap.

His raw throat was proof that trying to be heard over the screams and laughter and whinnies was impossible. Even Kerowyn, drawn to the orchard by all the noise, had tried—once (half-heartedly, in Mero's opinion)—before going back to the salle with a distinct smirk on her face. For one moment, he wished he were Gifted with Firestarting, because the only way he was going to get their attention was by dropping a fireball in the midst of them. Or on them.

He was starting to get a headache and was about to call for Alberich—if anyone could subdue these little demons, it was the Weaponsmaster—when a sudden, distinctive shattering of glass was heard above all the noise.

The orchard became instantly silent, a silence far more deafening than the noise that had preceded it, and all eyes were directed towards the second floor of the Palace and the decorative window that now lay in shards in the snow. A few moments later, a disheveled Selenay appeared behind the broken glass, apple in hand, wearing her dressing robe and a distinctly unpleasant expression.

"Remain in the kitchens, you may wish to do," came a low voice from behind Mero.

Selenay just looked at Mero, slowly placed the apple on the windowsill with a calm he was certain she did not feel, and turned around without saying a word.

"Perhaps for several weeks," suggested the Weaponsmaster.

Closing his eyes with a weary sigh, Mero rubbed his temples. It was going to be a very long day.