Snow really was nothing unheard of in this particular region of Earth. The winters were cold and a year without snow hadn't occurred in quite some time. So when Janet awoke to find her garden covered with a perfect white blanket, she just smiled at the fond memories this brought back and went to the kitchen to make herself some coffee. It was a Sunday, she had the day off and she was only up this early because she had actually gone to bed early the last evening. She stood by the coffee machine and gazed out of the kitchen window onto the road which was also covered in snow and completely deserted at this hour. It was still snowing lightly and the world seemed so peaceful. The silence and calm was very relaxing.
However, this state did not continue on for long. As Janet very soon found out, snow was completely unheard of on Hanka. And so as soon as Cassie woke up to find strange white things raining down outside her bedroom window and falling onto an already existing layer of white things, there was no rest for Janet. Cassie ran down the stairs making a lot of noise and almost fell over her own feet as she sprinted into the kitchen.
Janet smiled. She loved Cassie.
A few hours later, Janet found herself flat on her back, wondering how she could have ever agreed to this.
"Too bad I didn't take my camera," Sam teased her and elegantly skated over to where Janet was lying. She offered Janet a hand and Janet grabbed it.
"Yes, just laugh at my continued humiliation. There will be payback, you know?" But she was laughing as she said it. This was the third time Janet had fallen hard to the ice and she was almost used to it by now. Janet had last been ice skating when she had been a child.
"I am looking forward to it." Sam laughed and took off towards Cassie and Daniel again.
Cassie had been so fascinated by snow and ice that Janet had spontaneously decided that ice skating was a good way to get her used to it. And as it turned out both Daniel and Sam had some time to spare and were excited to come with them to the local lake. It was surprisingly empty for a Sunday in December.
Janet took a deep breath and slowly skated towards the three others. Sam was a great skater, while Daniel seemed quite a bit insecure and had fallen once already. Cassie held the record in hitting the ice, but she didn't really mind in a way only children completely fascinated by something new could.
Sam had by now arrived where Cassie was and took the girl's hand. Daniel exchanged a few words with her and then skated towards Janet.
"Want a time-out?" he asked when he reached her.
Janet smiled. "Taking pity with my skating skills?"
"I wouldn't say that." He smiled at her and Janet nodded. Together they skated towards the shore of the lake where they had put their shoes.
"Whoever designed this did not take into account that people might be wearing gloves when having to take these off," Daniel said while fiddling with the bindings of his skates.
Janet had brought blankets to sit down and a big thermos bottle with coffee, while Sam and Daniel had both brought snacks to eat. After managing the difficult task of putting on their winter boots again, they sat down on a blanket and Janet poured Daniel some coffee.
"Thank you." Daniel took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Janet had to laugh. "Why are you laughing?" Daniel asked, his eyes still closed.
"You are too much in love with coffee."
Daniel laughed. "That comes with the job." He opened his eyes again and looked at her, a smile still on his lips.
"It's good to see you smiling," Janet said and immediately wanted to take it back again. It sounded too... intrusive, too direct somehow. But Daniel gave no indication that he found it too insensitive.
"I haven't been doing a lot of that lately, have I?"
"No, but… I mean, it's understandable, with all that happened..." Janet broke off. She looked at the ice, where just now Cassie and Sam were skating past. Cassie caught Janet looking at her and smiled and waved and Janet did likewise.
"You are a wonderful mother to her," Daniel said suddenly.
There were a few moments of silence before Daniel spoke again, staring at the ice, but from the look on his face very far away. "I wonder... Do you think that I, if I get the chance...," he broke off.
But Janet knew what he was asking. "I think you would be a wonderful father, Daniel."
"I don't know. I just…" He took off his glasses. "I wonder what I could offer this child."
"You can offer it the world. This one and others."
Daniel looked at her. There was something in his eyes, something beyond all the loss and sadness and she thought she knew what it was, had thought she had seen it before, never really sure whether it meant what she wanted it to mean. And always feeling guilty because she wanted to see something there, which maybe wasn't...
"I don't think we can save her," he whispered, still looking into her eyes.
Janet didn't say anything. There was nothing she could have said. Daniel leaned closer to her and she closed her eyes. His lips only brushed the corner of her lips and the kiss only lasted a second or so, but Janet could feel the warmth of his skin on hers far longer than that. Janet opened her eyes again after a few seconds to find Daniel still close, but not looking at her any more, his eyes fixed on the lake.
"But I just can't stop trying."
And she did. She knew there was no way he could contemplate more than friendship with anyone when he knew that Sha're was still out there and there was only the slightest chance she could return.
Janet wasn't sad. Friendship was all she asked for and she had that. She stood up and extended her hand to him.
"Come on, let's go back to the wonderful world of ice skating."
Daniel took her hand and smiled. And that was all she wanted from him.