“It’s wet,” Petra said, her nose wrinkling as she tried to hide her slight distaste.
Avi looked at her, standing waist deep in the snow. Petra was still sitting on her sparrow, having put one foot down for a half second before quickly pulling it back. “You don’t like it?”
“I never said that!” Petra said petulantly. “I just said it’s wet.”
“Well, yeah. It’s frozen water.”
“Hmm. I just didn’t expect it to be wet, for some reason.”
“That’s fair,” Avi said, hoisting herself back on her sparrow. It dipped under her weight and Petra gripped Avi’s waist firmly. “I didn’t expect it to be wet at first, either.” She began driving, sparrow gliding smoothly over the thick snow.
“Where are we going? Back to… the base already?” Petra asked, still avoiding Varik’s name. She had told Avi that she didn’t blame Variks, not more than she blamed anyone else, but it was still hard to interact with him without being reminded of what she’d lost. She didn’t really like the snow, but she didn’t want to cut their meeting short. Date. Whatever you wanted to call it.
“No, I’m just taking you to a different location. Different cold… thing. The ice is cool,” Avi responded, raising her voice to be heard over the rushing wind. “We can skate on it! It’s fun!”
“Oh.” Petra closed her eyes against the wind cutting across her face like knives before burying her face in Avi’s shoulder. Her robes were thick and warm, and she smelled like chocolate and freshly baked bread.
They stopped at a rocky outcropping near a particularly smooth patch of ice. Three Vex harpies and two goblins were standing guard over nothing. They hadn’t noticed the two women yet, and Avi swung off the sparrow stealthily. She motioned for Petra to stay on.
“Stay here, babe,” she grinned. “I got this.”
Petra grabbed her arm before she could turn to go. “Just because I’m not a Guardian doesn’t mean I can’t fight a few Vex,” she said, making her displeasure known.
“No, I know you can fight,” Avi said, eyes wide. “Petra. I respect you. You know I think you’re one of the bravest, strongest people I know.” No, Petra did not know that, but it was nice to hear. She could feel a blush spreading across her cheeks, and not because of the cold. “But this is supposed to be your day off, so just sit back and let me handle it.”
Petra sighed. “Fine,” she said, hesitating before giving Avi a quick kiss. “There, for luck.”
Avi grinned widely, heading off to deal with the Vex still with a smile on her face. She dispatched them quickly with a few sword swipes, then motioned for Petra to come over.
Petra put one foot down on the ice and nearly slipped, having to grab onto the sparrow for balance. Cheeks flaming out of embarrassment now, she called out, “A little help?”
“Uh oh,” Avi said, hurrying back over. “Here, take my hand.” She held out a thickly gloved hand and Petra grabbed it, gladly. Avi began to skate backwards, pulling Petra with her gently. Her feet slid over the smooth surface, gliding along. The wind whipped her hair around her cheeks and the faint sound of different gunfire sounded almost like a song from far away. Avi smoothly turned around so that her back was facing Petra without letting go of her hands, continuing to tow her around the ice in huge lazy circles, going faster and faster until they were flying along. Petra wasn’t a guardian- she would never fly or float like Avi could. But this was almost as good.
Avi slowed down, switching hands and falling back so that they were holding hands, instead of Avi pulling Petra. “Move your feet like this,” she said, showing Petra how to skate. Pretty soon, they were moving smoothly in unison, hand in hand and side by side.
“Instead of going to Varik’s place after this, we should go to Elsie’s camp,” Avi said over the wind. “She has the best hot chocolate- I know, I didn’t expect it either-” She kept chattering on and on while Petra just listened, a small indulgent smile playing around her lips.
The weak Europa sun shone down on them, barely giving off any light through thick clouds. The light was pale and slightly dreary. It was snowing heavily, but Petra was warm.