"Ven, you look silly." Terra tried for the nth time to coax the boy out of the ridiculous comforter cocoon he had wrapped himself in, resisting the urge to nudge Aqua for giggling uncontrollably behind him. Trying to keep a straight face on, he barged inside the youngest apprentice's bedroom door, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Call me silly all you want! It's too cold out there!" Ven whined, visible face going red in mixed embarrassment and probably from the cold. He really, really didn't like winter when it was this cold. Not to mention the ice was giving him horrible memories concerning a bald man, a cliff and a giant moon. (Never mind it was almost twelve years, he barely felt it.)

"Ven."

"NO!" the youngest apprentice disappeared under the blankets, and he heard Aqua giggle and mumble something about getting breakfast ready. His eyes lazily started to close again until he felt his cocoon of comfort suddenly being lifted up. Oh no. there was only one person-

"TERRA!"

"Don't be like that, Ven!" the older apprentice smirked smugly as he threw the boy (comforter and all) over his shoulder, starting to carry him out. Ven whined and flailed helplessly as he was carried out to the hall. The smell of hot chocolate wafted through his nostrils, but he resisted it. No, he doesn't want this, he wants to be back in bed, now.

"It's too cold, I wanna go back to sleep!"

"You already had twelve years of that, aren't you sick of that by now? Now cooperate and help us around the castle to get ready for the holidays or I'm throwing you in the freezing lake." Terra argued with a voice that eerily reminded him of Master Eraqus.

His whines echoed around the halls and down to kitchen, where Aqua and Namine were already having breakfast. The blue haired Master giggled as she stirred marshmallows into Ven's and Terra's mugs.

Yup, it was definitely winter in the Land of Departure.


The Castle looked festive. Aqua had gone round decorating the hall, readying for the holiday season. Now, don't get Ven wrong, he loved the holidays.

It's just the damn cold that gets to him.

Before, he would have been all too happy to launch himself into the nearest snow pile, without any regard for his health. But with memories of being frozen alive and being thrown down the cliff while you're a human popsicle popping up every time he sees ice, it kind of hampered his enthusiasm now.

Shivering even when he's still wrapped in the warm green coat Aqua had offered to him, he gazed out at the window and watched the snowflakes fall silently, eying the grounds below. Everything was monochrome. Whites, blacks, grays, even the sky. It was another reason he didn't like the season, save for the holiday.

It seemed so sad.

Deciding he should grab something to warm up, he got up from his position where he's curled up near his window, heading for the kitchen. As Ven passed the main hall though, he saw a figure bundled in white pass his peripheral vision, as swift and quick as a white ghost. Blinking, he turned to see Namine open the main doors with unusual enthusiasm, wearing the white coat Aqua had gotten for her as well as the light blue scarf around her neck, topped with a light yellow hat that almost blended with her hair. The cold air seeped in as she pushed the door open, and snowflakes danced through the crack the door made. But Namine didn't seem to mind, going ahead outside to the frozen wasteland. Ven couldn't help but stare.

Was she crazy? It was freezing out there!

The door shut with the force of the wind, and Ven realized that her hat had fallen off and gotten left behind.

...

... damnit. She was going to freeze out there.

Shaking his limbs into motion to get the blood pumping, he walked over to the article of clothing and picked it up, before nudging the door open as well. And almost regretting it.

The cold hit his face like an Iron Imprisoner IV smacking an ice cold hammer at him, making him blink back and rethink this suicidal decision of exposing himself to the cold he was trying to avoid. But then again, he had to pick the lesser of two evils. Either he froze (no, he wasn't exaggerating, it was cold out there) or the girl froze.

... right, him then. Not like it would be the first.

Sucking in his breath, he pocketed the hat and ran down the snow frosted stairs, nearly avoiding slipping on the thin sheet of ice. Ven heard the faint sound of bells jiggling and looked around. Huh. Where did that come from? Shrugging, he continued on, being careful of the snow. Everywhere, white greeted him, and the cold threatened to swallow him whole as he wallowed through the snow, boots crunching against the white substance. Snow fell in a steady pace, and he tried to look for signs of the blonde girl as he willed himself to keep running, focusing on keeping his blood alive.

The waterfalls and streams have frozen into icicles, the training targets hopelessly immobile with the layer of ice covering it. The giant chains around the mountains creaked and swung with the wind. They've lived here in this world long enough not to worry about the chains ever breaking.

After shaking his hair free of snow (he should have brought his own hat) he finally spotted her sitting on his favorite spot to nap on; one of the stone chairs situated around the area where they usually watch stars. Ven made his way purposely over, breath fogging.

He noticed her face was uplifted with rapt attention at the sky, her own breath forming clouds, gloved hands holding a snow ball. Namine seemed too busy watching the snow flakes to notice him, and Ven felt a small smile tug on his lips despite his worrying. Walking over, he plopped the hat carefully on her head from behind, catching her off guard and making her gasp a little.

"First time you've seen snow?"

"O-oh. ... yes, actually." Namine smiled at him a little, pulling the hat securely over her head. "... I didn't realize this fell off..."

"You need to be more careful. It's freezing out here." Given, his hands are already glued to his coat pockets. But he manages to force to seat himself beside her (it was like sitting on a giant ice cube.)

"I'm... used to the cold anyway." Namine fidgeted, her gloves thoughtfully reshaping the snowball she held. "And all the whiteness. So, I'll be fine."

It took him a few seconds to realize what she meant.

"Oh."

They held silence for a while, Namine resuming her snow flake watching while Ven delved into his own thoughts. It hadn't been fair for her. Although he never considered Castle Oblivion as his prison (more like his twelve year bedroom,) she probably. Held against her will, looked down upon...

He shivered a little as a cold wind brushed against them shook him out of his forming thoughts, and he looked at her. "Come on, let's go in."

"You can go. I'd like to stay here for a while." she smiled at him from under the almost-too-big hat, and Ven felt as if he swallowed a gulp of hot chocolate, the way heat traveled down his body at the sight.

"Why? I mean, why do you want to stay out here in the cold?" Ven protested a little. He didn't want to leave her, but he didn't want to stay out in the freezing grounds either. Decisions, decisions!

Namine only smiled sadly in return, letting the snowball disintegrate back to the snow below her. Another cold breeze brushed past them, making some of the tufts of her hair not under the hat fly with it.

"... it's... kind of sad, isn't it? Maybe that's why I can relate to it."

The words came out strange to him, and he became silent, just watching her. Leaning back on the seat, she closed her eyes, looking like a bundled up doll as she continued on.

"... winter. Everything is white, and people don't like the cold,"-Ven made a noise but decided to stay quiet-"... and nothing is alive. There are no colors around. It's... blank. Like..."

Instinctively, Ven cut her off. "Don't say it. You're not like that."

She was going to say herself, and he knew that. Namine gave him a sad smile again, causing his frown to deepen. Did she really think of herself like that?

"... Ven, you know it's true." she whispered almost inaudibly, and Ven started regretting hating the cold around them (granted, he barely felt it at all right now.) "I... I'm colorless. Before I even got this heart, I'm just a blank slate that could be ordered around. I brought misery people."

"So? It's not like you wanted to. In the end, you tried your best to fix things, didn't you?" Ven argued, standing up and pacing, more to keep his blood pumping than anything else. Namine watched as he went back and forth, her mouth disappearing underneath her scarf.

"Still..."

"Hey, I'll show you, winter isn't that bad!"

... what?

"What?" Namine blinked at him, ocean blue eyes widening a little.

Rewind, freeze. Didn't he just despise winter several minutes ago? No, this isn't the time for logic. If Namine thought of herself as teh season, rigid, cold and unwanted, he would prove her otherwise. Ven took hold of her gloved hands with his own, pulling her up, and she blinked, following after him. The wind howled around them as he desperately looked around for something they could do.

"We could... make snowmen! Or snow angels! Or build an ice fort! Erm..." he tried looking around. The snow wasn't that thick yet. "Maybe I should shovel them together in one pile first..."

As he contemplated, he noticed Namine had gone quiet, and he peered at her, frowning thoughtfully.

Only to realize that she was smiling up at him warmly.

Her gloved hands squeezed his comfortably, and the next second, he had an armful of Memory Witch on him, his view slightly obstructed by the ridiculous yellow hat that had lured him out to follow her all the way out into the freezing cold. If he wasn't wearing a coat, he would have felt her cold breath against his chest. He only just realized he was taller than the girl by a few inches.

"Thank you, but... you don't have to force yourself to like something that isn't likeable." she murmured against him. Ven stared at the top of her head for a few seconds before wrapping her arm securely around her small frame. She seemed so fragile. Like she could melt any second. And before he knew it, words were stumbling out of his mouth.

"You just... need someone to warm you up, don't you?"

Namine didn't respond, and he rested his cheek at the top of her hair, suddenly not minding the cold all around them. Under the guise of readjusting her hat, he gently moved in to peck a kiss on her forehead, wondering if she was able to feel it through the cold.

Winter. The last season in the cycle. The time when everything seems lifeless.

They trooped back to the castle huddled together since the air was getting colder, and once or twice, he slipped, causing her to giggle underneath her scarf. Needless to say, those slips were not accidental.

Frigidly cold, everything has no color, and like darkness, the cold can swallow you to death if you allow it to. Nothing grows during this time, and nothing lives.

"We better hurry, Aqua's gonna scold us at this rate. We're supposed to help decorate the castle." he sighed, swinging their hands as they walked. Namine nodded, looking contemplative about something. He didn't bother prying. She probably had her own reasons.

Nights are longer, days are shorter. Still, it's the season we find ourselves sticking together to the people we care about. Maybe because of the holidays. Or maybe because of the cold. Maybe people seek warmth during this time.

"The holidays?" she finally spoke up, and he nodded, grinning.

"Yeah. You don't want to miss it." Ven nodded as they reached the entrance.

Winter may be sad, but it's never sad when you're not alone.

Namine peeked up above them at the doorway, before giving Ven another warm smile. Standing on her toes a little, she took him by surprise at what she did next.

She dropped a tiny kiss on his cheek, before giggling and trooping back into the castle.

Ven stayed outside, blinking, pondering what just happened and why did everything seemed so warm and welcoming and excuse me, what cold were you saying?

By then, you would find out, it's the prettiest.

Winter never looked so pretty his eyes, as he grinned up a the falling snow flakes and the mistletoe with tiny bells attached on top of the door.