DISCLAIMER: Nikki & Nora are the property of Nancylee Myatt and Warner Bros. Television. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to darandkerry for the beta.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The last rays of sunlight peeked out from the narrow gap between a clouded sky and gently sloping hills in the distance, only creeping across the glistening surface that snow had created for mere minutes before touching the horizon and eventually disappearing behind it. Shadows stretched longer and longer in the twilight and finally faded entirely.
A snowball zoomed through the crisp winter air and hit branches laden with snow, triggering a white avalanche. The wet mass plummeted from the tree and covered the unsuspecting woman, standing under it, with a cake-like icing.
Nikki let out a decidedly girly, undignified squeak and, brushing the bright adornment from her coat, trudged away from her precarious spot under the tree, her steps hampered by the foot of snow she had to plow through. Her breath billowed out in quick little puffs from the effort, and when she came to a stop before Nora on the lane winding through the enchanted lanscape, her cheeks had a fresh rosy tinge.
"You find that funny, huh?" A barely suppressed smile belied Nikki's stern question as well as the gloved hands placed on her hips in a gesture of indignation.
Nora grinned gleefully, the vast expanse of their silvery surroundings reflected in her gleaming green eyes. "Oh yes."
"I'll show you funny." Bending over, Nikki scooped up two handfuls of snow and stuffed it where she thought the collar of Nora's jacket was. Nora, however, had anticipated Nikki's act of revenge and taken a step backwards so that the snow fell from Nikki's hands and tumbled back to the ground. To Nora's great amusement, Nikki stood with her arms still outstretched and a confused expression on her face.
"Nice try." Nora smirked. She pointed at the two aisles cut through the snow behind Nikki, one leading to the tree and one away from it. "You know, if the snow's this high, you're supposed to retrace your steps on your way back."
Nikki glanced over her shoulder and shrugged. "My Gucci boots were ruined from the wetness anyway. No point in keeping them away from more snow."
"It's got nothing to do with your boots, Nikki; although, it's beyond me why you thought wearing Gucci shoes out here was a good idea. Going back in an aisle you made is less exhausting. You still have a lot to learn about snow."
Taking a step forward and closing the distance between them, Nikki wrapped her arms around a bundled up Nora and touched their cold, pink noses together. "You want to know what I learnt about snow already? It brings out the child in you. I like seeing you all relaxed."
Nora smiled almost shyly and withdrew her face to look around. Letting her eyes drift across the endless white sea surrounding them, she spoke softly. "Snow's like a blanket covering all that's bad and ugly. Nothing can harm you. It's a shield between you and the world, muffling all sounds and stopping time. It's a chance to get away and breathe. I like that."
"And everything seems far away and impossibly near at the same time."
"You do know things about snow." Nora turned her gaze back to Nikki, seeing countless snowflakes catching in her dark hair. With a bare hand, she reached up to touch them with her fingertips and feel them melt away beneath the warmth instantly. "Look, it's snowing again."
They both bent their heads back and stared up into the darkening sky against which tiny crystals were clearly visible, twirling through the air in erratic, meaningless patterns before soundlessly settling down on the soft, thick layer of fluff on the ground. Inhaling that slightly smoky scent that winter air sometimes carried and that, at first, made your breath catch in your throat for a moment, they smelled the snow and the cold and wood burning somewhere near. White beauty enveloped them safely with its purity and provided an anchor for their minds, peaceful and serene, a sense of magic palpable and real.
"Have you ever thought about leaving New Orleans?"
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