Let It Snow

Eris paced around the small clearing in the forest, looking for any signs of people. She'd already driven all the way out here and spent an hour walking to find a suitable place, if someone turned up now she genuinely might give up. Luckily, it seemed as deserted as she'd hoped. Perfect.

She stood in the middle of the patch of grass between the trees. It was only a small clearing, 20 meters wide at most. Small enough that for once she might actually be able to do this with some accuracy. Placing her feet slightly apart and standing tall, she looked up at the sky and glared. Her jaw clenched as her gaze challenged the heavens to defy her as she willed it to snow. After a minute or so, small, grey clouds started to gather, blocking out the sunlight from between the trees. Eris felt the temperature dropping around her. A single snowflake fell from the clouds and drifted down to land on her nose. Then, as she grinned in satisfaction, the rest of the snow fell. All of it. A blanket of snow 2 inches thick plummeted from the sky, hitting anything in the clearing, including Eris herself. The shock of it knocked her backwards and her hands shot out to stop her ending up flat on her back. The snow clouds dissipated as she glowered at the sky, shaking the snow out of her hair.

 The best thing about having help at his business was that he could take time off to explore Portland and the surrounding areas. He hadn’t done any of that when he arrived, being too focused on the dream of opening the shop. Bundling up to drive his Explorer out of town into Tillamook for a late-winter hike through the woodlands sounded like an excellent idea. Plus, he wanted to see some real winter growth in this part of the country. The city was all well and good, but he felt closer to an innate part of himself as buildings dropped away, and trees rose on the horizon.

 Backpack filled with cloth bags, bottles, and a few small pots slung over his shoulders, he set off on one of the hiking trails recommended by a quick Googling of the area. He scavenged for a time, sitting among damp pine needles, picking around for unopened pine cones, determined to begin a tiny miniature forest of the native Pinaceae for the front window.

 Gleefully planning this project, he ran straight into a patch of wild witch hazel and was quickly enveloped by the yellow-flowering shrub. He stayed for a moment in its embrace, enjoying the sharp scent before backing off, apologizing, and asking permission to take a cutting. In his careful separation of seeds from twigs and stems, he didn’t notice the darkening sky. It happened all the time in these parts.

 A mass of snow fell from the sky like a giant plate, knocking him onto his face in the brown grass. Sputtering and shocked, Emil pushed himself up to his hands and knees, spitting dirt and greenery from his mouth. His power surged into the ground, checking all of the plants he could. They were fine—a little weighed down, but otherwise unhurt.

 He tried to ask, What happened? But none of them knew for sure. One of the older firs pointed him north, and he saw a small clearing through a few rows of trees where snow covered the ground.

 “What the?” He touched the flakes with curious fingers. Emil didn’t know much about precipitation beyond rainfall in each hardiness zone of the country, but he knew that this light, fluffy snow was unusual for the area.

 Emil set off in the direction the fir had given him, determined to discover the source. He checked more plants as he walked. None of them were unaccustomed to snow, but several needed a little direction in shaking it from weaker branches. Stopping to uncover some tiny sproutings, he noticed a very human figure in the clearing.

 “Hey!” He called to the distant blonde. “Did you do that?” The gap between them wasn’t huge, and Emil had long practice with identifying one of his own. “Please be careful this time of year! The little ones are trying to breathe.” Nice going. Really great explainer, you are. “Not angry! Totally understand the need for some practice.” A smile. A wave. And he bent to search for more signs of life under the small drift.

Oh crap. This was not how she'd intended today to go. It was bad enough she had once again completely failed at creating a controlled snowfall and knocked herself over to boot; now it looked like she might have hit someone else too. There was someone heading her way through the forest. Someone who could have very reasonably have been in the radius of what just happened. Eris scrambled to her feet, sweeping off the snow and looking around in a mild panic. What if it was an ordinary human? How would she possibly explain what just happened. Cursing herself for not being more careful, she squinted in the direction of the figure, watching the man gently dusting the snow off some small plants. After a moment, Eris was hit with the familiar recognition of a fellow witch. Well, at least she didn't have to deal with any major explanations then.

The little ones are trying to breathe? Was he talking about the plants? She had no idea but at least he wasn't mad, he understood she'd been practicing.
"Oh, uh. I didn't..." She paused, taking a deep breath. Eris really hadn't realised how winded she still was from being knocked on her butt. "I really didn't mean to dump that much snow. It's not a strong point of mine," she said, laughing awkwardly. Watching him bend down to search through the snow, she hurried over to him. "Here, let me sort it out."

Eris might not be able to create it properly, but she could at least move it. Holding her hand out, she made a sweeping motion and collected up as much of the snow as she could see, swirling it into one big pile in the center of the clearing, being particularly careful to avoid any plants. The hand gesture wasn't really necessary a lot of the time, but it helped her focus on what she was trying to do. She'd have to figure out how to get rid of it at some point. Melting it would probably be the most sensible way, but she wasn't very good at that either. Well, at least trying to make it slightly warmer couldn't possibly have as many near disastrous consequences.

"I'm really sorry if it hit you by the way. I mean, I got floored by it and I'm the one that made it. I hope you're not hurt."
He didn't look hurt, if anything he seemed a lot more bothered about all the plants. It was quite sweet. It also made her wonder if that was what his powers were based around. She always felt rude asking people though, she wasn't sure why. Well, she could at least find out who exactly she'd accidentally attacked.
"I'm Eris, by the way." Which, she concluded, was a pretty fitting name today. Chaos goddess indeed. Clearly her parents got her figured out perfectly.

 Emil stood up and backed away at her approach, understandably cautious in the presence of a stranger—even more understandable because she hadn’t quite mastered snow yet. The hand gesture seemed natural for her, though, and she didn’t hesitate, which was a good sign. Confidence was important when dealing with power, even if you had all the practice in the world.

 Gentle tornadoes of flakes billowed out the woods, spinning to land in a pile in the center of the clearing. The breeze that gathered it cleared the ground under the trees as far as he could see. The air wasn’t too chilly so the mound wouldn’t last the day. At least there was one less worry.

 “Well, that was tidy!” He complimented, hands on his hips. “Thanks!” He had intended to clear up each little patch himself, even if he only moved the bigger piles to the roots of the larger trees. They could handle the cold, and a little extra moisture for an early spring start was only for the good. “I’m Emil, pleasure to meet you, Eris.” Heh. Good name. “Plants are my game if that wasn’t obvious.” He smiled over at her. “I’m okay. Just came to do a little foraging before the winter-flowering plants were gone. But I, uh. Didn’t expect today’s weather!” He admitted with a wink.

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