The weather was perfect on the night of Hawke's Satinalia dinner party. The sky was overcast, and the threat of snow hung in the air, but as her guests arrived, there were only a few stray flakes dusting the Hightown streets. She could never get used to the weak sprinklings that Kirkwallers called storms. Here, a thin layer of snow would shut down the market; in Ferelden, it was business as usual unless your door was frozen shut.
As the evening went on, the group grew tipsier, and no one noticed that the wind was blowing louder. It seemed like only a short time before the Chantry bells were ringing the late hour. Hawke, in her role as gracious host, escorted her guests to the exit.
She opened the door and got a faceful of snow. It fell thick and furious, swirls of flakes eddying in the gusting wind. She couldn't see past her own doorstep. Hawke slammed the door shut. Obviously, no one would be walking home that night.
The next morning, Hawke threw on her warmest clothes and made her way downstairs. Orana, who possessed the astounding ability to create huge meals at the last minute out of nothing, had laid out a lavish breakfast. As Hawke polished off the last of her favorite cinnamon biscuits, she glanced out the window. "Looks like the storm is over," she observed.
"How much snow is there, do you think?" asked Merrill on the way to the foyer.
"We'll find out," Hawke said, and yanked open the door.
The pile of snow that had gathered against the door spilled in around her feet. Outside, the sun was shining, turning last night's storm into a brilliant, glittering vista. It was beautiful. For just a moment, she was back in Lothering, younger, freer, building an army of snowmen with her father while Carver and Bethany played among the snowdrifts. She gave an experimental huff and was rewarded with a wispy puff of frozen breath.
"Now this is a real snowfall," she said, a smile spreading across her face.
"This is bloody cold," muttered Varric.
Hawke shot him a grin and flung the door open as wide as it would go. With a whoop, she leaped off the doorstep and into the snowbank, sending up a cloud of fluff.
"Aveline! It's just like Ferelden! Do you remember?" She tossed a handful of snow in the air. It rained down over her head and sparkled white against her dark hair. She packed a lump of it in one hand. "Hmmm. It's a bit wet. You know what it's perfect for?"
Aveline put on her sternest look. "Think very carefully about what you're about to do, Hawke."
Hawke pondered that for a moment, then flung her snowball. Aveline ducked and the snowball hit Anders, who had the bad luck to be standing behind her. He watched the wet mess ooze its way down the front of his coat.
"Oh, you are in so much trouble," he said, stepping forward to scoop up a handful of snow.
Hawke fired more snowballs in his direction. Unfortunately, her aim hadn't improved, and instead she peppered Merrill and Sebastian with powdery projectiles. Without a word they leapt into the fray.
Aveline, meanwhile, was bunkered down behind a hastily-constructed wall of packed snow. Hawke dove behind it to escape the three-pronged assault.
"Where did this come from?" she asked, trying to catch her breath.
"Hawke, you were in the army. You should know the importance of fortifications." Aveline's scold was tempered with a barely-suppressed laugh. She spun around and focused fire on Sebastian, who was trying to sneak up behind them.
"Get him, big girl!" Isabela cheered. "I want to see what he looks like wet!"
Sebastian turned on his heel with a wicked look in his eye, plucked Isabela from the doorstep, and dumped her into the snowbank. She came up spluttering. Before he knew it, she'd tackled him and they both disappeared into the drift. The usually quiet street rang with shrieks and laughter.
Varric shook his head. "Fereldans. Come on, Broody. Hawke keeps some Antivan brandy stashed in the library. Let's go sit by the fire and drink it."
Fenris raised an eyebrow. "It's early in the morning."
They retreated inside and shut the door.