The untitled winter things has a name -- and a series. Yay. The Heero/Duo prestory is now called 'Knight and Novice' and the two bits posted are the first to parts to that particular story. The other story thread, the one that was introduced with the untitled winter ficlet, is called "Ill Wind" and begins with that teaser -- yes, apologies for posting twice. It has had a considerable chunk added (included my first yaoi lemon -- its rather brief ((blink and you miss it )) ). I apologise for the confusion and lack of organisation with this particular fic, but it grew on me in all directions. I hope this clears that up. Strawberries! Hope you enjoy.

Title: Ever Winter, Ill Wind 1/?
Author: girl_starfish
Pairings: Undecided
Rating: NC17
Warnings: yaoi, probable angst and violence to come.
Category: AU, adventure/drama/romance/

Ever Winter: An Ill Wind + Part 1

Duo:

I sighed, sleepily curled against Heero's warm shoulder. It was a contented sigh, I was warm, snuggled between layers of warm furs and the smooth body of my partner, and, thanks to the, chuckle, exertions, of said partner, I was more than satisfied. What they say about Northern men being cold is all wrong. I think it's the long winters meself. Three months and no sun? You gotta do someone, wink, wink.

Even better Heero had one arm thrown loosely around my shoulder as he slept. That was rare, he doesn't usually express his affection for me in embraces. Doesn't like being held down, I think. I pretend not to care but I'm the other way, you know? You couldn't smother me with affection if you tried. I used to wonder how it was we didn't drive each other crazy, how come Heero hadn't tossed me out into the snow on my cute little butt.

As he's asleep I snuggle closer to him, nuzzling his chest with my nose. Love this -- could lie like this forever.

A thunder crack echoes over head. Thunder, just like Heero predicted. It began to rain a short while ago. I remain comfortably curled beside Heero, taking further comfort in the fact that I don't have to stir. The best bit about storms is being inside, dry and warm -- There's another sharp roll of thunder, this time followed by a low whimper.

I curse softly and gently pull myself out of bed. Don't want to wake Heero -- I find my shirt and pull it on, before climbing down the ladder into the downstairs room.

There's another quiet whimper, and a choked sob from the crumpled pile of furs by the fire. I kneel by the hearth and poke the flames into a bit more life.

"Hey there," I whisper.

Quatre pokes an eye out from under the blanket. "Duo?" It's somewhere between a delighted sob and a plea.

"The one an' only," I reply. "You okay there?"

Quatre hesitates before emerging from his cocoon of furs. So maybe you think it's a little mean of us to make him sleep downstairs on the hearth? Let me tell you, its about the only place we can get him to sleep. Little mite is always cold. He's built like me, doesn't have a trace of flesh on him. But while I was raised in Galloway which does get some pretty fierce winters, Quatre comes from a far away land where there are things like deserts which are big lots of land with no water and not trees, at least not ones you'd recognise. And he just about howled the place down when we put him in the barn. Strange kid.

"I had the dream again," Quatre whispers, barely keeping himself from tears.

There's a crash of thunder and he winces.

Feeling sorry for the kid, I gather him into my arms, rubbing his back and murmuring soothing things to him. He sniffles against my neck, and gradually starts feeling better. I let him take his time. He has this dream quite a lot, you see. He saw his home destroyed and his family killed, an' the sound of the storms makes him remember the crack of the canons and the gunpowder and it all gets brought back. Finally, sobs easing, Quatre wipes his eyes and looks up at me hesitantly. "Could I -- that is to say -- if its not a bother -- would you mind terribly if I spent the night with you?"

He's got a funny way of asking things. That was one of his more direct questions, others he feels he has to hide behind all these reasons and half questions first. Not that he asks for much. Sometimes I think he's so grateful have a place to stay that he's scared he'll ask too much and get tossed out. But I smile at him, to show him he's not to be scared, and nod.

"Come on then."

I grab all of Quatre's furs that I can take with me up the ladder, and wait for him to get a candle ready. While I can navigate the stairs in the dark, he's not so familiar with him. He fumbles a bit even with the candle. Not that he's clumsy or anything, just unsure of himself. It doesn't help that he gets scared of Heero, but then Heero has that effect on people. He can't help it, any more than Quatre can help being so ignorant.

I know the Father always used to say it was not good to talk low of others so I won't. But the things he doesn't know! You should have seen Heero's face when he admitted he didn't know how to hunt or cook, or even milk a cow. He knows how to wash up and scrub a floor now because I've been teaching him, but what a fuss he made when I tried showing him how to pluck a chicken! To be honest he can dance prettier than you've ever seen, an' his printing is twice as tidy as mine and I learned my letters at a proper abbey so I know good printing when I see it. And Heero doesn't know any letter's besides what I've taught him and that's his own name and 'I love you' which I write out for him sometimes and make him smile.

Heero's noticed my absence by this time and when I climb back into the loft he's got his eyes open, dark slits in the darkness watching as I put down my pile of furs. When Quatre climbs up beside me, Heero gives a soft grunt and then rolls back over on his side. This has happened before, you see.

Quatre sits and shivers while I add more hay to the base of our bed from the store in the loft, tucking it under the broad blanket that acts as a sheet. The bed widened, I arrange the furs to provide adequate warmth for him and then climb into bed myself. Quatre eagerly climbs in next to me and snuggles up. He's like me, needs something he can hold on to.

I have to stifle a chuckle as I remember what Heero said about him once. For such a little guy, he can be touchy. And in all fairness, I shouldn't be calling him little. I think he'd be about the same age as me, all told though the way he bears himself you wouldn't know it. I kinda think of him as a little brother, because I never had one. Not that I had an older brother either, but that's not the point. The point is, when he's cuddled up to me like this he really is like a little cat. Heero called him my pet and I've taken it as a kind of nickname for him.

I stretch an arm out to loop lightly around Heero's shoulders and put the other more tightly around Quatre. It's perfect like this. Got my love on one side, Quatre on the other, and we're warm, happy, and the storm outside can't touch us --

Somewhere amongst these satisfied reflections I drift into comfortable dreams.

Life is good . . .

+

Something is tickling my nose.

I roll over, not really wanting to get up. I'm too comfortable, and not quite awake yet . . . the tickling sensation continues. I sneeze, batting half-heartedly at it. There's a giggle.

I open my eyes to see a stalk of dried barley grass hovering in front of my nose and Quatre, trying in vain to suppress giggles on the other end of the grass.

"All right, you!" I said sitting up. "This means war!"

He's not fast enough to get out of my way an' I pounce on him as he scoots backwards, tumbling him onto the bed-furs. He shrieks and squeals as I pull his shirt up and then it's my turn to torment, as I run my fingers over his sensitive ribs. He's even more ticklish than I am. Just as he's nearly exhausted from giggling so hard, Heero sticks his head up into the loft.

"Good morning," he observes dryly.

I let Quatre regain his breath. "Good morning yourself," I say, smiling at Heero. "And where've you been?"

"Making your breakfast," he states. "I came up to see which one of you was being murdered."

A slight upturning of his mouth indicates that he's amused. I crawl over to the edge of the loft. It's built so it covers only a third of the ceiling, and there's a great open space over part of the one downstairs room. I sit on the edge of this with my legs over the edge.

"Catch me, Heero!"

I don't have to worry about him doing it, I know he will. And sure enough, I end up in his arms, clutched tight.

"You -- " he starts and I kiss him.

We kiss and kiss and don't break apart until we hear the ladder shift as Quatre climbs down it. Then Heero puts me down and I trail after him to see what he's got me for breakfast.

He made the chairs and table himself. Didn't think he was so good, did you? He made them for me, after those at Galloway, thought I might be homesick. As if I would be such a thing with him taking care of me. Still it was a nice thought, and it kept him busy all last winter, and when he wasn't busy with the carving, I was busy thanking him. Well, it would have been ungracious not to, right?

I see it's porridge this morning, in the bowls I carved. They're uneven, and not one of them matches, but Heero says he'd prefer them over real china. I reckon he's daft, but a bowl's a bowl.

"Thanks, love," I say as Heero spoons me a bowl. "We haven't had porridge for ages!"

"I thought we needed it," Heero says. "After the chill of the storm."

Quatre quietly takes his place at the table, murmuring thanks as Heero passes him his bowl. He stirs it slowly.

I'm already halfway through my bowl. "What's the matter, pet? Porridge not to your liking?"

He looks up at me hastily. "I've never had it before."

I shove the honey and milk over to him. "Sweeten it with honey, then cool it with the milk. Go on, try it -- it'll put some skin on your bones."

He tries it slowly then more eagerly. "It's good."

"Of course it's good! What kind of home did you live in, where they didn't give you porridge?" I notice Heero's already finished and has risen, pulling on his thick boots. I hurry to the loft to pull on my trousers and cloak and to join him.

"Heero!"

I call from the door, hastily pulling on my own boots.

He waits for me, his breath freezing on the air. "What do you want?"

"Thought I'd come with you."

Heero raises an eyebrow at me then looks pointedly at the ground, now covered by about a foot of snow. "You thought you'd come with me?"

I wrap my arms around his neck. "I was interrupted before," I said. "I never finished kissing you good morning."

"Oh," he said. "I see." And our cold noses bent towards each other and our breath melted into each other -- until a loose lot of snow slips from the roof and pelts us. We part spluttering and shaking the loose snow from us.

"Come on then," Heero says, heading towards the barn. I pause to look at the snow covering the ground, exclaiming at the amount dropped by the storm last night.

"It must be as tall as a man on the Southward side -- the front of the house is buried. I'll have to tell Quatre not to open the front door." I laugh. "I wager he's never seen so much snow in his life, eh Heero?"

Heero calls me from the barn where the snow has covered the door. He needs me to help him with the upper door where the bolts have gotten rusty. Buildings in these parts usually have two doors, one higher up for winter. Between the two of us, we get the door open and scramble in to the loft. Hay is stored here, along with the apples we picked in the autumn, and our flour from the wheat we grew ourselves.
There's a miller a day's journey east who grinds it for us, for which I'm thankful. I hated grinding flour at the Abbey. On the bottom floor we have Heero's horse, the eighteen speckled goats, and the two plump piglets, not so little now. The hens squawk as soon as they see us, they want to be fed, and as Heero throws grain to them, I steal five eggs for our lunch. I don't take more than one from a nest, otherwise the hen knows we've found her hiding place and will change it. But it appears I don't know all their hiding places, four little yellow balls of fluff follow their mother's footsteps worriedly, chirping continually. I wonder how I can coax Quatre over to the barn to show him the little chicks?

I put the eggs aside carefully as I see Heero climb the ladder to the loft to fetch the horse his hay.

"Duo," he says. "I can't climb down with you blocking the ladder like that."

"I know," I answer.

He raises an eyebrow at me. "Am I about to be kissed good-morning again?"

I grin ferally at him. "You're going to be a lot more than kissed."

He puts up a token protest as I wrestle him backwards into the hay. He cries out as I nip his neck, I love his neck, then delve beneath his shirt.

"Your hands are cold," he pants, as his body jerks at my touch.

"Then warm them," I say.

He seizes one hand, and, meeting my eyes, takes my thumb into his mouth. I watch entranced as he plays with it, swirls it, feathers across it with his tongue, before repeating the process on my second finger. Third, fourth, fifth finger, he treats this way, as if they were jewelled and delicate. I blink, realising he has stolen the game, and pull my hand away.

"My turn," I told him. "To taste you."

I do not take his hand though. I go lower, tugging away cloth, travelling low, ignoring the erection that wants so badly to be touched, to seek my prey in the crack between his legs. And my strong powerful Heero whimpers. The same blood stirs in both of us, and his cries fuel my own hot need, until I barely have enough spit left to smooth my entry. Heero does not care though, his eyes are glazed and if I look too closely at him I will be undone. I cannot help but stare at him though, even as I take him -- shirt half undone, hands vainly trying to find purchase in the straw at his side -- "Heero!" I call him, as I slide deeper into him. "Heero!"

He moans, throwing my name back at me as we quickly slide into one. "Duo! Please -- "

All else is lost.

Afterwards I sit in his lap, resting my head against his chest and listening to his rapidly pulsing heart slowly calm, while he picks the straw from my hair.

"Reckon we've put the chooks off laying?"

Heero snorts. "Not them, not the way they carry on." He wraps his arms around me, pressing me against his chest where his heart still pounds. "Do you hear that, Duo? That's you -- you are my life."

I wrap my own arms around him, tears suddenly creeping into my eyes despite the huge grin his statement elicits. "Heero -- "

"None of that foolishness." Heero kisses my tears away. "Go and see what mischief Quatre's gotten into now."

I take the eggs back to the farmhouse to find Quatre far from getting into mischief, has rubbed down the table and is now finishing the dishes.

"Did you have trouble finding the eggs?" he asks. "You were gone a long time."

"There's a lot of snow out," I tell him. "Take a look. Me and Heero had a hard time getting the door open -- "

Quatre yelps astonished as he pulls back the curtain to find that the window is entirely covered by snow. "We'll be trapped!"

I laugh at him. "Not yet, Quatre. Another fall like this an' we'll have to tunnel out, but we got a ways to go yet -- "

Quatre opens the front door and is promptly met by an avalanche as snow spills into the room. It's mean to laugh, but the look on his face --

He does his best to scrape it up but he can't put it out without more coming in. Eventually, with my help, we get the door shut.

"What will we do now?" Quatre looked miserably from the pile of snow, slowly melting on the floor, to the backdoor. "When Heero sees this -- "

I feel sorry for him. After all, he didn't know.

"We'll have a wash day. Fetch the tub, and I'll get the firewood."

By the time Heero returns from the barn, the snow is melting in various saucepans over the fire, while Quatre and I fill the washtub with those already warmed.

"I thought wash day wasn't for another two days," he observed.

I winked at Quatre. "Ah, Heero, you know I can never wash my hair enough."

"That's true." He reached over and took my braid, slowly fingering the end before looking up into my eyes. I could have melted, just like the snow then at the look in his face --

Then the saucepan on the fire boiled over.

[part 2] [back to girl_starfish's fic]