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She was eight the first time they had done it.
She remembers clearly how her mother had questioned her about her day while they were eating breakfast. She asked her if she had any projects or tests coming up and all kind of stuff like that. She didn't understand why her mother was so interested in that particular day.
Later that day her mother had taken her out of school early and brought her to the park. She had told her to close her eyes and to open them only when she told her. She had wanted to peek. She tried to force her eyes to open just a tiny bit but her mom had noticed and put her hand over Katie's eyes. After a few more minutes she had asked her if she was ready and uncovered her eyes at last. As they stood there watching the snowflakes fall and dance in the air, her mom leaned and whispered.
"Happy first snow day, Katie."
Every day after that one they had spent the first snow day together.
She got the call at 1am on a Wednesday. She was awake, her body running on nothing but caffeine and the adrenaline that only exams can give. She jumped out of her chair when the phone rang next to her, hurrying to answer it before it woke her roommates.
"Hello?" She answered, trying her best to suppress a yawn. Her body was crashing on her but she really needed to finish at least one more reading before tomorrow.
"Hi, Katie. I didn't wake you, did I?" Her mother's soft, amused voice greeted her.
"Hi, mom." she chuckled. "No, you didn't wake me. I'm doing some readings for tomorrow"
"I think I'm obligated by the Mothers Handbook to tell you to try to take it easy, although I doubt it would make much difference"
"And you would be right" She said.
"I'm always right."
"Yeah, I know" Kate said as rolled her eyes. "Mom, not that I don't love talking to you but, is there a reason why you call me at 1 in the morning? Is everything okay? Is dad okay?" she stopped for a second while her tired brain did the simple math. Around 6 am in New York. Her mother was probably having breakfast before leaving for work.
"Yes, Katie, everything is fine. I was just calling to say one little thing to you. Then you can go back to your readings. Or to bed"
"Bed sounds so tempting right now" she said as she turned in her chair and looked at the unmade bed full of books. "So, what is this thing you wanted to say to me that couldn't wait another 8 hours?"
"Happy first snow day, Katie" as she heard her mother's words she felt herself melt. Exhaustion took over her body as a warm feeling spread through her. It was the first year they were apart for the first snow day of the year and her mother had called her to let her know, to share it with her. She felt the tears in her eyes and she let them fall freely. She wasn't ashamed of them. She missed her mom and there was nothing wrong with that.
"Happy first snow day, mom" She almost whispered, a smile taking residence in her face.
There was a comfortable silence in the line while the two of them let themselves bask in the magic that the first snow day brought for them. Even if they were hundred miles away from each other. A couple of minutes later her mother's voice brought her back to reality.
"Okay, honey, I gotta go." She could hear the rustling of the papers her mom had probably been going through before calling her. "I will talk to you later today"
"Yeah, I'll call you. Bye, mom. Say hello to dad for me okay."
"Will do. I love you, Katie"
"I love you too, mom"
The day she made Detective her father had been sober for about a year and a half. She had called him with the news and they had met in their now becoming usual diner to celebrate. They didn't talk about her mother. It's still too painful and her father was doing so good she didn't want to risk it. But she wished she had. She missed her mother and she couldn't help but wonder if she would be proud of her.
She cried herself to sleep that night. Tears of joy and grief mixed together.
She woke up the next morning and headed to the precinct. Her new shiny badge pinned to her hip. She didn't have a case yet so she was helping other detectives with their paperwork.
She went out to the diner a couple of blocks away from the precinct in her lunch break. Being stuck in her desk the whole morning was not what she had expected when she dreamed of being a Detective. Dispatch called her on her way back. Her first murder case. She was practically running towards the precinct when she bumped into a man that was coming out of a building, dropping her phone. She apologized as she leaned to pick up her phone when she felt it.
She stood up and stared at the sky. Teeny, tiny, cold pieces of white falling over her. She raised her hand to her chest, finding her mother's ring through the fabric of her clothes. She had never believed in fate, in signs from the universe, but just this one time, she did.
"Happy first snow day, mom" she chuckled as she was saying it, to the sky, to whoever was listening.
She swept her cheeks, wet from tears or the snow, she didn't care, and with a smile in her face she started her way back to the precinct again. She had work to do.
"Kate. Kate, wake up!" She groans when she feels his hand on her shoulder, shaking her. Apparently he is not buying her act.
"What?" she doesn't open her eyes. She knows it's early. Way too early.
"Get up, Kate. You really need to see this" he says as he pulls away the covers and throws her robe at her.
"This better be good, Castle"
He drags her up the stairs and out to her little garden. He covers her eyes and reaches to open the door. She feels the cold air brush through her and she pulls her robe tighter around her. He pushes her out, staying behind her with a hand still covering her eyes and the other in her waist, guiding her.
"Ready?" he asks, his breath at her ear.
"Yeah" she lets out, her voice barely a breathy whisper while she tries to suppress the shiver that goes through her when he drops a kiss on that spot behind her ear.
"Ta da" he says proudly, even though he really can't take credit for this, as he uncovers her eyes.
Her breath hitches at the sight in front of her, a whirlwind of emotions going through her. The floor, the chairs, the small table she keeps there, everything is covered is white. She notices that he has had time to protect her plants from the cold. Thousands of snowflakes are dancing in the air, sticking into her hair, her face, everywhere. She does shiver this time and she feels his arms go around her, hands clasping on her stomach, enveloping her in his warmth. He thinks she is cold, he thinks she is cold because he can't possibly know what this means to her. She has never told him about this.
"Castle" She breathes out.
"Happy first snow day, Kate" He tells her, tightening his hold of her.
A watery chuckle escapes from her mouth and she can feel him going rigid on her back.
"Kate? Is everything okay?" He asks, worried look on his face when she turns in his arms and looks at him. She knows she has tears in her eyes, but they are not falling. She won't stop them, but they just stay there, glazing her view.
She smiles at him, at this wonderful, caring man, who woke her up at six in the morning on a Sunday just to share this moment with her, share the magic that only the first snow can bring. Because he loves magic and he loves her. She sees some of the worry disappear from his eyes, but he remains silent, waiting for her to speak.
She will tell him about her mother, about their tradition and shared snow days. But not now. She wants this moment to be just theirs.
She raises her hand to his cheek, her smile growing when he leans to her touch. She looks directly into his eyes, so blue and dark in the early morning shadows of the city. She doesn't blink. Neither does he. They just stare at each other, both of them waiting for her to speak. She wants to tell him so many things, so many words, but none of them seem right. Only the three she lets out before pulling him in for a long, soft kiss.
I love you.