Chapter 1: Roses

A growl rumbled low in his throat as he trudged his way up to the tiny store. Where the heck had this snow come from all of a sudden? Wherever it was, it was just trouble, trouble, trouble, with a capital T, and he didn't want any part of it. He threw the door open and quickly scanned the store, eyes immediately finding the frozen girl at the counter. He raised an unseen eyebrow at her and took in her appearance.

Her dress was unnaturally frozen: she must have fallen in the creek just down the way from here. The dress wasn't one a commoner would wear, maybe she had come from the opening of the gates, but what was she doing all the way out here? She was incredibly pale, clutching the bundle in front of her desperately. Her lips were pale and cracked, and her shoes looked like she had seen better days. She must have been walking for a while. Did she not have a horse? Surely she wasn't thinking before running out here; it must have either been a split second decision, or this girl had little to no experience with the cruel winter. Perhaps a mix. She not only bore no cloak or jacket, but the dress didn't even have proper sleeves. Her skin was deathly pale, and obviously wet from the freshly melted snow walking in. The only color her skin bore was the warm, rosy color of her cheeks from the heat of the cabin. He glanced at the bundle she held tightly: winter clothes and boots. So she had some sense after all. His eyes met hers as she studied him with a mix of emotions: excitement, interest, confusion, determination, slight fear. That last one amused him slightly: he must have looked quite a sight from trudging in the unexpected blizzard. But one that stuck out to him was buried deep in her eyes, and he couldn't even place it. It was almost like the root of the rest of them, but he couldn't pin it. It was like a sadness covered feebly with the determination. She needed something. Briefly he thought of why she could possibly be out here, momentarily finding himself interested in what her story was. What was it she needed?

His eyes never leaving hers, he grabbed the only things of use to him in this small store and made his way up to the front, finding himself towering over her and holding her gaze for a few more moments. She was a character, but he shook the interest off. He'd never cared much for people and their complexities anyhow.

"Carrots." The confusion overtook her expression and it seemed to knock her out of her own daze. Good. She didn't need to try and mix herself up in figuring him out. He didn't need the company.

The last picture that remained in his head as he left moments later was the deepening rose of her cheeks, and the warmth they seemingly held.