Lukas flopped down in the snow, letting out a huge sigh and closing his eyes. His fingers were cold and stiff despite his thick gloves and his bangs were plastered to his forehead by melted snow. He wished he had brought a heavier coat. Winter in Norway had always been this way, but there was nowhere Lukas would rather be.
Lukas opened one eye, gazing up at another boy. This boy was leaning over him, his silvery hair falling forward to cover his cheeks. He must have been a few years younger than the eight-year-old Lukas. Maybe four or five?
"Halló?" The boy repeated. His amethyst eyes were unreadable, vacant of all emotion.
Lukas was quiet for a while. "Hallo." He whispered. Slowly, he sat up. The boy, who had previously been sitting behind him, crawled to his side.
"My name is Emil." The smaller boy said quietly. He tilted his head to the side, waiting for Lukas to introduce himself too.
"I'm Lukas." He shivered softly from the cold. He would probably have to go back home and get another jacket.
"Would you like my coat?" Emil asked, but he shed off his sweater before Lukas could respond. He clutched it to his chest for a moment, then held it out. He wasn't even shivering, as if unaffected by the freezing snow. That surprised Lukas. He was a shaking mess and this young boy seemed to be made of snow himself. With pale skin and silver hair it wasn't hard for him to believe that.
"Won't you be cold?" Lukas asked, his brow furrowed with concern. He didn't want the little boy to get sick or anything. It seemed selfish to take Emil's only source of warmth away from him.
"It's okay, I live somewhere really cold." Emil insisted. He rested the sweater in Lukas's lap with the faintest of smiles. He really wanted Lukas to take his sweater.
"... Okay." Reluctantly, Lukas pulled the smaller boy's sweater over his own. It was a bit small but that didn't matter. "Thank you." He wanted to return the smile, but he didn't. He wasn't sure why. He just didn't. "Would you like to come play with me and my friends?" Lukas tilted his head. He wanted to get to know this boy better. He was kind, and kindness wasn't something he usually received from his two friends Mathias and Berwald.
Emil's expression brightened at the offer. "Yes please!" He got to his feet, brushing snow off of his clothes.
"Come on." Lukas took Emil's hand and led him away. They walked on a path, almost concealed by ice and frost, across the white field where they had met. The trail continued for a few more feet until it turned into the trees. Lukas sped up at the bend, heading straight for the jungle gym at the edge of the path. A few other children played there, but two in particular came over to meet Lukas and Emil.
"Who is that?" The tallest pointed at Emil, while the other stayed silent. He was no doubt the oldest, and his hair was unnaturally spiky. The other boy was terrifying. He had an intense gaze, and he was staring directly at Emil. The little boy stepped closer to Lukas and squeezed his hand.
Lukas glanced down at Emil for a moment. "These are my friends Mathias and Berwald. This is Emil." He introduced each one of his friends.
Emil simply nodded. He was to shy to say anything. Especially with Berwald staring at him.
"Wanna come play with us?" Mathias asked as he leaned over so he could look Emil in the eye. A wide grin spread across his face. He was glad to have a new friend.
Emil nodded again. He still wasn't sure to say or do. Only when Lukas started walking to the jungle gym did he move. He allowed the other boy to lead him past the gym and into the woods. Mathias eventually took the lead, followed by Lukas and Emil with Berwald at the rear. They continued this was for a while, the trees growing thicker and thicker until they suddenly stopped. They came out into a dark clearing, with only a few beams of sunlight reaching through the tightly knit branches above. There were several large boulders stacked at one end of the clearing, creating a sort of cave-like one side of the boulders, a small stream ran through the clearing and farther into the forest.
"Come on." Mathias said excitedly. He ran over to the boulders and disappeared into a gap in the stone. Berwald raced after him without a word and Lukas sped up his pace as well. Lukas and Emil were the last to crawl in. It was pitch black.
"G't a light." Berwald mumbled. There was a shuffling sound, then a flicker of golden light. Mathias was holding a flashlight in one hand.
The interior of the fort was much nicer than one would expect by looking at it from the outside. There were several layers of blankets on the floor to make it more comfortable and a pile of flashlights in the corner in case the current one ran out of battery. In another corner was a large stack of board games and soda. Even though you needed to crouch or crawl to avoid bumping your head, it was kind of nice.
"Pretty cool, right?" Mathias asked, his blue eyes almost glittering with pride.
"Don't brag, Mat." Lukas punched him in the arm, getting a quiet squeal in response. "It's not nice to brag."
"I do like it though." Emil said quickly. He didn't want the two to start fighting.
"See?" Mathias poked Lukas in the side. Lukas simply grunted and moved backwards to lean against the cool stone walls. Emil followed. He snuggled against the older boy for warmth, finally giving in to the freezing cold.
"I told you. I told you that you would get cold."