"Cara-"

"No,"

"But are you sure-"

"Yes,"

Kahlan sighed. "If you'd stop pouting, you might actually have fun, you know,"

"Mord'Sith do not pout," she protested with a frown, "And I fail to see how parading about in this…this frozen wasteland could be fun,"

Whether she'd admit it now or not, Kahlan knew Cara had been excited at the prospect of snow, even going so far as to plant herself at their window to better see the effortless elegance of the season's first snowfall. Unfortunately, the warm-blooded Mord'Sith had found the wintry wonderland came at a steep price – uncharacteristically frigid temperatures – and, since her pride refused her the ability to take the cloak Kahlan had repeatedly offered, she'd only gotten more miserable as time passed and, still, there was no end to winter in sight.

She sighed again, unwilling to compromise her own love of winter because of the blonde's inherent stubbornness. "You don't have to come with me, you know; you're more than welcome to wait for me at the bottom or even back at the inn, if it suits you,"

Cara stopped midstride, narrowing her eyes at the top of the hill and then the back of Kahlan's head. "What if you should be attacked at the peak?" she asked, quickening her stride as much as the ankle-deep snow would allow.

Kahlan flashed her a smile. "I'm more than capable of defending myself,"

She huffed. "How could anyone defend anything in this mess?" she muttered, lifting her boots clear of the snow and scowling at the water-dampened color. It was beginning to look like she'd be lucky to get through the Midlands winter with her leathers intact and if there was one thing Mord'Sith didn't put stock in, it was luck.

"It's not even that bad!" the Confessor called, almost merrily, over her shoulder. "When we get to Aydindril, you'll miss this,"

Cara's scowl deepened. "I can't wait," she grumbled. "At least there I'll have the option to order a quad of Aydindril's home guard to follow-"

Having finally reached the crest of the hill, Kahlan turned to face her and, between the sun glinting off her raven hair and the attractive flush of her cheeks, Cara found it momentarily difficult to remember why she was so against the season.

"You," she finished with a scowl.

"I thought you were going to wait at the bottom?" she teased, smiling brightly at her reluctant companion

"A proper Mord'Sith always seeks out the high ground," she huffed, eyes narrowed as she took in the white-dusted landscape. In the back of her mind, she had to admit it was a pretty enough view. She'd probably enjoy it more if she wasn't freezing but, well, there was always something, wasn't there?

"Well, I suppose you'd better get comfortable then,"

Cara blinked, frowning down at Kahlan who'd already dropped onto her sled, "What?"

"Get comfortable," she repeated, looking up at her, "I'll be back up before you know it,"

Crossing her arms and cocking her hip, Cara's eyes narrowed. "And if you should be attacked at the bottom?"

Kahlan laughed. "Cara, you can see half the Midlands from up here! I trust you're more than capable of alerting me to any danger, not that I think there will be any, mind you," she added. The day was early, yet, and they'd barely seen anyone moving when they'd left the village.

"I…" she trailed off, expression clouded as her eyes fell to the frost-covered ground, "What if you fall?" she asked quietly and any irritation she felt at the blonde's stubborn nature melted away at the soft sound.

Reaching up, she entwined their fingers, bringing Cara's gloved hand to her lips. "Cara, I'll be fine," she assured her, "I haven't done this since I was a child but it's like riding a horse; you never forget," she bit her lip, unsure whether or not she should push her. There was something like real fear in the eyes of her Mord'Sith and she was loathe to cause her true discomfort. "If standing up here isn't sufficient, the only other way you could protect me would be to sled down this hill with me,"

"That would be the most efficient option, wouldn't it?" she asked, though the weariness of her tone said she knew this already. "Very well," she hesitated, clearing her throat, "How do I…?" she gestured vaguely to herself and then the sled.

Kahlan smiled, soft and sweet and scooted forward on the sled before patting the recently vacated space. "You'll have to sit close and…wrap your arms around me, so you don't fall,"

"Why, Mother Confessor," Cara drawled, green eyes dark against the snowy backdrop. "If you wanted me to hold you, you only had to ask,"

Fighting a blush that had nothing to do with the cold, Kahlan cleared her throat. "Just sit down,"

Narrowing her eyes, Cara dropped onto the sled behind her, dutifully pressing herself close to the brunette. And, if she pressed closer than was strictly necessary, well, Kahlan wasn't going to complain.

Leaning forward so her chin rested on Kahlan's shoulder, she eyed the hill before them with barely contained suspicion. "Exactly how do you steer this…contraption?" she asked.

"With our weight, leaning to either side. Oh, and this rope," she said, pulling it to the side so the blonde could see.

Cara looked at her, aghast, "Maker," she muttered, shaking her head. "It is a miracle any child of the Midlands survives to adulthood,"

Kahlan shook her head in quiet amusement. "Are you ready?"

She let out a grunt of affirmation. "Let's just get this over with,"

Kahlan grinned and leaned forward, unable to do anything but let out a whoop of joy as they cleared the edge and barreled down the hill. With Cara's arms tight around her middle and the wintry wind whipping at her hair, she felt freer, safer, than she had in a very long time, and she graced the air with the joyous sound of her laughter.

That is, until the sled skidded slightly on a patch of ice, sending the pair of them hurtling into a snow bank.

Cara, the first to recover from their spill, stood tall, an immovable scarlet tower amongst an opalescent sea, with a smile tugging at the corners of her full lips, and Kahlan, for her part, could only stare.

"Why Cara Mason," she began, breathless from love and laughter both, "Is that a smile, I see?"

"You are mistaken, Confessor," she said, offering her hand to the brunette. "Now, may we return to the inn before we succumb to this cursed snowfall?"

Kahlan fought the urge to smile as she let the blonde pull her to her feet, brushing her cloak free of snow. "Of course," she said, "Thank you for indulging me,"

"Well, perhaps," she cleared her throat, fingers twitching at her sides, "Perhaps we could…go again. Since you enjoy it so much,"

This time Kahlan didn't bother trying to hold back her own smile. "Thank you, Cara," she said, leaning over to press a kiss to her cheek, "That's very generous of you,"

"I've been told it's the season for such things,"