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Warmth in Our Hands

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Akari had never minded the snow. She didn't care much for the cold or overcast days in winter - Fuyuna had once remarked she was solar-powered - but being able to play in snow make it all bearable. Maybe she was getting too old to get so excited about snow, but for an Elemental Tarot user, these moments of peace were most important.

"Luna-chan, I'm coming for you!" Akari yelled as she packed some snow into a ball.

"Y-You can't catch me!" Luna forced out as she tried to dash toward a tall mound of snow to hide behind, and she also held snow in her gloved hands.

Akari threw her snowball at Luna, but it just barely missed her. Surprise flashed upon Luna's face, but she took this opportunity to toss her own snowball at Akari, and it struck Akari right in her chest, splattering into white fluff. As Akari dusted the snow from her body, Luna giggled and dashed away to avoid Akari's snowy retaliation.

"Oh, you can't get away from me that easily!" Akari said as she gathered more snow. The last time she had played in a snowball fight like this was right before she and Fuyuna had entered middle school, and this was Luna's first, so Akari wanted to make it extra-special for her. If she could impress Luna and make her smile, it would all be worth enduring the cold.

With a grunt Akari lifted her mighty snowball, carefully balancing it on her shoulder. "Luna-chan, I have something for you…!" she called out, trying to take a step forward.

Luna's eyes went wide, and she dropped the snowball she had been trying to make. "Akari-san, I think that's…"

"You can't hide from me now!" Akari smirked and prepared to throw her oversized snowball; however, it was heavier than she expected, and as she lifted it over her head, she found herself off balance. She fell backwards and hit the snowy ground hard, and her snowball landed on top of her and broke apart, leaving her covered in snow.

"Akari-san!" Luna exclaimed as she rushed over to Akari and knelt beside her. "Are you all right?"

Akari grinned and seized Luna's arms. "Gotcha, Luna-chan," she said with a giggle.

Luna blushed, but a faint smile still came upon her lips. "Oh, you do, so that means I have to give you a reward now, huh…?"

Akari released Luna's arms to touch her face. "How about a kiss?"

Luna's blush deepened, and she bent over to kiss Akari's forehead. It wasn't their first kiss, or their second, but such kisses were still uncommon between them. They were young, after all.

"Thank you, Luna-chan," Akari said, and her cheeks were warm as well.

"I'm just glad you weren't hurt," Luna said as she touched Akari's hair, brushing some of the snow away.

"The snow's soft, so of course I'm fine!" Akari raised her hand toward the cloudy sky. "Look, it's snowing again."

"Pretty…" Luna breathed as she held out her hand, catching a few snowflakes.

Akari spread her arms and legs, as if trying to make a snow angel. It had been a long time since she had lay in snow like this, and although it was cold it wasn't uncomfortable. As long as she wasn't alone, it was pleasant.

Luna shivered and pulled her coat tighter around herself. "I never thought playing in the snow could be so much fun," she said finally.

"Fuyuna and I used to play in the snow a lot," Akari said, catching snowflakes on her fingertips. "Snowball fights, making snowmen - it was all so much fun with her."

Luna touched Akari's outstretched hand, her gloved fingers curling around Akari's. "You still miss her, don't you?" she asked gently.

"Yeah, everyday." Yet Akari managed a smile. "But I was able to say goodbye and hear her true feelings. As long as I remember her, I can keep fighting so that no one else suffers like she did."

"Hearing a person's final words must be painful each time." Luna lay beside Akari, brushing more snowflakes from her hair. "You're very strong, Akari-san."

"It's because of my parents I can hear those final words." Akari's fingers tightened around Luna's. "But it is painful, so I'm glad I have you and Seira and Ginka. Together I know we can find a way to truly save people."

Luna bit her lip, and then she smiled softly. "I believe in you."

"Thanks, Luna-chan." Akari let out a quiet giggle. "I'm really happy you came out with me today."

"It really was fun." Luna's voice was barely more than a whisper. "I think my sister would've enjoyed playing in the snow too."

Akari said nothing in reply; she simply drew closer to Luna. Luna still didn't talk much about her sister or her family in general, and all Etia and Ariel had told Akari was that her situation was "complicated." Akari didn't want to pry, but little by little Luna was opening her heart to Akari, and Akari wanted to always be there for her, no matter what.

For a while she and Luna lay in the snow as snowflakes fell upon them. It was cold, but also peaceful and quiet, and Luna's warmth comforted Akari. Their next battle would come far too soon, but for now she could savor these few peaceful moments.

And when Akari sneezed, Luna giggled. "We should head inside now, before you catch a cold, Akari-san," she said.

"Yeah, you're right," Akari said as she sat up. "And then we can get some hot chocolate!"

"Yes, that is what you're supposed to have after playing in the snow." Luna's expression was bright. "And with plenty of marshmallows, right?"

"Of course!" Akari stood up and held out her hand to Luna, which Luna accepted. As Akari helped Luna to her feet, she pulled Luna closer to kiss her cheek, and Luna's gentle smile put her heart at ease.

As they headed indoors, Luna clutched Akari's arm tightly, and more than ever Akari was thankful for Luna's warmth.