Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters of RK I am only borrowing them.
Authors' notes: Needless to say Australia doesn't get a lot of snow, in fact where I live it never snows. Because of this and the fact that it's an 8 hour round trip to the nearest snow in winter, I've only seen the white stuff twice in my life.
I've grilled a lot of my Northern Hemisphere friends about snow so the following is based on second hand knowledge. I hope it's reasonably accurate. Please read and review.
It was snowing, a cascade of white flakes that slowly covered his dark blue kimono, but he was dreaming of pale pink cherry blossoms that danced in the air. Above, the dark winter bare branches, bowed down beneath a cloak of white. He had fallen against the trunk of one of these trees, his katana, its blade shining in the snow still clenched in his fist. The cherry blossom danced and twirled slowly down to the bloody snow. The branches groaned and a lump of snow landed only inches from his face. He woke with a start and found himself laying face down in the cold, wet, snow.
He put his hand up to his head, and closed his eyes to the swirling snow and sky. Some how rather distantly the scent of white plum blossom danced around his nostrils. The scent clashed with the cool winter air, a delicate reminder of spring that made no real sense. He lay on his back, his eyes closed, merely breathing, his mind full of confusion, his body half numb, half pained, cooled by the snow. He opened his eyes with difficulty, one was very sore, and a white haze danced in front of his eyes. He blinked repeatedly, and dragged the long strangling hair out of his face. He felt strangely unbalanced as if something terrible had just happened, something that he had momentarily forgotten.
The faint tantalizing fragrance triggered some hazy memory. He pushed himself up in to a siting position, one hand still clenched around the hilt of his katana, the other cradling his head. The world rocked. His eyes widened, where the snow had been compacted by his body there were dark stains of red, and pink. His clothing, his clean grey hakama was covered in blood. Shuddering a little, his eyes travelled up his arms. Deep red spots and splashes decorated his arms and sleeves. Slowly, almost fearfully he lifted his violet eyes.
A foot away lay a woman, her long black hair fanned out over the snow. The sleeves of her pale, almost white kimono, bunched up above her elbows leaving her forearms exposed to the cold. Cold and disorientated Kenshin scrambled towards her. Anxiety made his movements devoid of their usual grace.
"Tomoe, Tomoe." He muttered as he reached one bloody hand out to her. As his fingers brushed again her bare, white arms, a rapid secession of memories assaulted him. He closed his eyes and lifted her head on to his lap as he knelt in the deep snow. He had killed his wife. Although he could not recall the exact moment, he was sure. He stroked her hair with trembling blood stained fingers. 'If I had been carrying a sword that night, would you have?' Her voice, the words of a long ago conversation filtered through his mind. An age passed as he sat in the snow, his wife's head in his lap, his heart and mind filling with and irreparable misery.
Abruptly he staggered to his feet on numb, freezing legs, shaking himself free of the seductive call of sleep. To fall asleep here, now, in the steadily falling snow was to sleep forever. He slipped his katana in his obi below the empty saya that should have held his wakizashi and lifted the slowly stiffening body of his wife. He gazed up at the dark bare lattice work of branches above. The world it seemed was crashing in on him. Clearly, what he had done was wrong. 'But why? Why did she step between us sacrificing her own life in order to conserve mine?' He could remember that much now. Coming down the mountain, he lacked the aggressive stubborn resolve he had had coming up. All that sustained him was the desire to take his wife back to the small house they'd shared since late summer.
Tree roots lurking under the snow, conspired to trip him and some how it all became muddled in his mind. Tomoe, the mountain, the men who'd attacked him… and more confusing still the morning. What had happened then? Mercifully, for the moment he couldn't remember. Blood loss and general exhaustion clouded his mind and his awareness. It was as if he'd been given a jigsaw with half the pieces missing. There was something more he was certain, something important.
His feet in their straw sandals padded silently on the snow. Tomoe's hair brushed against his leg with each faltering step. Coming up the mountain had been difficult enough but travelling down was harder still. His heart and mind were now filled with exhausted confusion, not with burning stubbornness. The sky visible thought the dark branches dressed in snowy white, was dark and heavy. His breath frosted on the air and as his blood ran, his skin began to prickle with the icy cold.
Down, down, down. Kenshin stumbled and wavered to the left and right. The snow falling silently on to snow, until finally far below he could see the outline of their house. His feet were soaked and numb; the wet had slowly crept up his hakama leaving his legs draped in cold wet clinging fabric. His blue kimono had cemented it's self to his back with a mixture of blood and snow, but he did not know this.
He mumbled to Tomoe and in effect himself, in a manner that was not in the least like his normal self. His shoulders sagged with exhaustion and defeat. He staggered more with each step, before finally stumbling over the roots of a tree and falling against its trunk. He clung to his wife with frozen fingers. Leaning against the trunk, he was finally aware of his own heavy breathing and the pain. A bright burning pain from the wounds across his back, the ones on each shoulder and the dull throbbing ache from inside his ears. He pulled his wife's body closely against his own, in life she like everyone else had been taller than him, now some how she seemed far smaller, with her kimono torn and soaked in blood.
The snow reached out with its cool silent fingers. He panted, and rested his head against the bark. Slowly his breathing settled to a series of shallow breaths and he closed his eyes. Then slowly, gently as if carried on a breath of warm wind the blossom began to dance.