Snow has come, falling thickly on the ground, melting in the sun, freezing at night, and falling again. Tiny, nearly-dry flakes, and big wet clumps of them; children have snowball fights, make forts — people sled, snowshoe, and generally enjoy the weather when they can, or simply hide away from it, when possible.
His estates are a picturesque example of serenity on the outside; on the inside, he has barricaded himself in his rooms, and is all but hiding from the figure that haunts the grounds, her dark hair flying in the wind, her wings coated with snow, her clothing grown cold and wet.
Servants bring her in, much to his dismay, but he finally acquiesces to them rejuvenating her, “So long as you send her home,” he says.
In the middle of the night, however, she wakes, a soft, low sound of pleading caught in her throat. She goes to his rooms, and with nimble fingers and hairpins, she picks the lock and lets herself inside. She goes to him, crawling into his bed, singing, praying in her language, peeling away her borrowed nightshift. He almost welcomes her, thinking her Justina as he comes out of his dreams, but then she is summarily tossed off the bed with an outraged squawk.
“No!” he cries. “No — I have completed the ritual already,” he murmurs. “I cannot be with you,” he says, trying to hold his hands out, to keep her away.
She twines her fingers with his hands, and so when he moves to pull them away, he pulls her right into his arms again.
“NO.” He moves to push her away again.
She speaks quickly, in her own tongue, and when he shakes his head, looking confused, she switches to their common tongue, pleading “You called me. I can hear it. I can feel it. Please.”
“No, no,” he says. “No. If you won’t go, I’ll have you locked up. Go away. I don’t want to see you. It isn’t you — it’s just that my heart is already taken.”
She nods, rises, and goes to leave, saying “I will come again.”
He nods, understanding, even as he says “Please don’t.”