Oh hey, more fanfiction. The prompt was Winter is Coming, and yes, I stuck this on Archive of Our Own first.
Alana shivered as she got out of bed and dressed. Last night had been the first hard frost of the season, and it was still too early to for it to have warmed much. She estimated that she had an hour until the first bell of the morning, when she would need to go to the dining hall and eat, then go to the practice fields with the rest of the pages. That was time enough to practice with Coram's sword, and as much as she hated the cold, she hated the idea that she might be killed adventuring due to never having mastered the sword even more. She pulled on as many layers as she could without truly affecting her ability to walk, borrowed his sword quietly (he had drunk too much after his guard shift the prior night and would likely sleep till noon, waking with a horrid headache,) and headed for the private mirrored room she practiced in. She would learn to be natural yet. She had to.
That was not the morning she learned to be natural. Nor was the morning after. She hoped she was making progress, though she had little evidence of this. In practice with her fellow pages, she felt as slow and clumsy as ever. Sklaw could some progress in the small red-head, but he seldom complimented anyone and never her. Without the free practice duel that he seemed so reluctant to put her in after the utter disaster her first had been, there was no evidence she could judge. She didn't notice how Coram's sword felt less heavy than it had, nor did she realize that she was completing her pattern drills faster. If she had, it would have been some small comfort against the fact that hard frosts were now every night and it was still cold in even their morning practice outdoors. At least when it's actually winter, they won't make us practice outside anymore!
Days before the end of outdoor practice for winter, the Duke granted Alana a day off. For the opportunity to see George, she could brave the cold she dealt with on the practice courts. She saddled Moonlight herself and rode to the Dancing Dove. En route, she had to use the thieves sign George taught her- even those who knew they could go to market any time they wished were starting to shop for Midwinter in earnest, and that meant the pickpockets were out in force. Most of the cities thieves knew better than to bother the red-head with violet eyes, as he was a friend of the Rogue, but this was a time of year where there were new folk in the Court who didn't yet know whose purses to leave alone.
George noticed her right away, of course, looking up from his card game. “Lad, I wasn't expecting to see you until Midwinter! His Grace decide you deserved a day of rest, did he?”
“He said I was making progress well enough that I could get my Midwinter shopping done before the crowds.” Alana snorted. “I think he misjudged the crowds.”
“He may not have the same information that we cityfolk do, always up in the palace. Why would he care about a storm down the river? But the dockworkers care- no boats coming in means buy while they've the time.”
“Is it coming this way?” Much as Alana hated cold, she liked snow, and with winter almost upon them, a storm might well bring snow to throw at her friends.
“Unlikely- that his Grace would know, and even I've not heard it. Now, shall we deal you in?”
Alana took the offered cards- Gambler's Chance was an old game, and she knew it well.