A/n- I know I've got a lot more pressing stories I should be dealing with, but I absolutely can't help myself.

Disclaimer: I don't own NV!

Summary: Takes place during the winter when Velvet and Mi are training the horse.

Winter Quarter

Pursing her lips, a long cone of white expelled from deep within her lungs, pushing every last ounce of oxygen into the chilly morning. The cloud disappeared after a few moments, mingling with the white that had settled on the low barn roof and feed casks.

Velvet wrapped her mother's knit shawl round her shoulders, slipping on her shoes. It made her smile, the way the red of her plaid dress looked against the snowy whiteness.

It was nearly ten, and the family hadn't seen Mi for breakfast. It was funny; Velvet thought he might have frozen from the cold. The only thing in that stable for him was a heating stove.

Stepping down from the Kitchen veranda, Velvet picked her way over the muddy little pothole turned puddles, careful not to dip her black loafers in the slippery muck.

Inside, her heart was jumping.

Perhaps, even if it were nearly, if not freezing, they'd be able to ride. Her and Pi could just do a couple of jumps to warm themselves, couldn't they? Mi would want them to practice under any condition they were presented with. It built character.

"Mi!" Her voice trilled as she came round the stable, hands catching the inside of the door as to pull herself in with a flourish. "M-"

Velvet stopped short, her hand still on the open door, but her voiced died within her throat.

He was still asleep, right arm hanging off the bed, the other curled round the mussed sheets wrapped round his waist, moved from fitful sleeping. His chest, bare, moved methodically up and down as he breathed.

"Oh." Velvet muttered to herself, heat creeping up her shawl covered neck to flush her face.

She realized he must be exhausted, running after her and Pi all day long; she couldn't blame him for missing breakfast.

With a glance over in the corner of the room, Velvet noticed how muted the glowing was from behind the stove's grate. The fire inside, and the heat it supplied, was slowly dying.

Quickly, she closed the door behind her.

Her feet made soft swishing sounds on the wood. Seeing the gaping hole in the floor, she skirted it on the way to the iron heater. There, she bent down slowly as to make no sound.

With the utmost caution, Velvet lifted the tiny iron pin holding the grate closed. It swung open almost noiselessly and Velvet took hold of a few small pieces of wood lying in a neat little pile on the floor, pushing them into the dying embers. A few prods with the adjoining poker and the flame began to grow. Satisfied, the girl reattached the grate and stood up again.

Glancing back, she saw Mi turn in his sleep, shoulders catching the yellow light.

Walking back across the room, Velvet paused to fill the washbasin with fresh water from its pitcher. It was a nice gesture, she thought, to ready things for him when he woke. It was a little thank you for all the hard work he put in with her and Pi. The thought of him seeing what she'd done turned her cheeks pink again, and caused her hands to feel extra warm.

As she lowered the pitcher back onto the vanity shelf, it slipped within her slick palms, falling just a little back onto the wood instead of being placed. It thumped greatly from the water still held within it, and shook the table so that the basin and the mirror behind it rattled.

Velvet sucked in a breath, clasping her hands to her mouth, whirling around, ready to bolt to the door.

She made it two steps, she made it just to where she was even with Mi's bed when the boy jolted awake, sitting straight up.


"Velvet! What in God's name!"

The girl snapped and squeezed her eyes shut, hands clenched to her lips. She shook her head back and forth, "Sorry! Oh I'm so sorry!"

She heard him curse softly and the sheets rustle. Her heart beat loudly within her ears, thumping against her ribcage.

Mi sighed, "Velvet…." It was a soft chastisement for her foolish and forwardness. After a moment, "You can stop trying to blind yourself."

The girl opened one eye. She saw Mi sitting on the side of the bed, legs swung over. His leather breeches were on but his chest was still naked, unabashed. Blood pooled in Velvet's face so fast she felt dizzy, and it was a moment before she could open both her eyes, and even then, she trained them to the floor.

"What on earth were you doing?"

"I- I was wondering why you weren't in for breakfast and if we could go out with Pi today. I…," She took a deep breath, "I saw your fire was going out so I filled the stove and- and you had no water in your washbasin so I filled that too." After she said it, she felt even more foolish. She snuck a glance over where she met Mi's amused gaze. "Sorry. I thought you would have been up."

"Well, thank you Velvet, for all your thoughtfulness." Mi got up and stretched his arms back, walking past the girl to the wall where his shirt hung. The girl beamed at his praise and went to stand by the post near the door, leaning her chin upon her hands.

"Do you think we could practice today, Mi?"

The boy turned, shirt halfway on. "I don't think so. It's much too cold. We could take you both out to get warm, but I think it's just too dangerous with the snowfall to be jumping today." He pulled the cloth over his head.

Velvet sighed wistfully, staring at the ceiling. "I don't think Pi would mind it… it would be such fun to ride through the snow."

"And give me a heart attack every time, thinking he'd slip on a patch of ice and throw you off?"

"Oh he wouldn't do that…"


"You worry too much about me, Mi."

The boy drew his lips into a thin line, coming over to the girl. He leaned upon the post so his face was close to hers. "With all your wild antics Velvet, you give me good reason."

The girl's smile faltered. With the way Mi was leaning, his hand was just touching her arm, and she could feel heat prickling the skin there. That and he was so close the color of his eyes, even the flecks of color in them, were plainly visible. Velvet's breath hitched.

Mi must have noticed, because a crease formed between his brows as he watched her.


"Sorry." She said suddenly, standing straight. "I'll get going; leave you to your- um- I'll see you later." She whirled round the boy and wrenched the stable door open.

"Velvet, wait!"

But the girl was already running across the yard and back towards the kitchens, heart pounding wildly; blood singing in her veins.


A/n- Maybe I'll do another? Like, after the race. I dunno. Anyway! I hope you enjoyed!