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**

It had been cold forever. He had been born in the freezing snow, with ragged boots and two coats, one with too few buttons to be called a proper coat, and the other that bore far too much resemblance with a baby’s blanket. He had been born with ice for fingers and a sluggishly beating heart, covered in a thin layer of snowflakes.

“Hamilton.” The familiar voice had been there forever. He had been born at the request of the general. He walked and talked only because the general requested it.

“General.” It was instinct. He had been born to respond.

“Keep up.”

The words were not intentionally sharp, but they cut through his frozen haze like a gunshot. He looked down at his feet, as if to scold them for their disobedience. But they only responded with dull lethargy, the same that he felt in his heart, and not to mention everywhere else.

His rebellious legs, as well as their cursed ringleaders, his feet, did not seem to be interested in his orders. This was the worst army ever assembled. How he could hope to make a mark if he could not even keep up a decent pace? It was an embarrassment. He was an embarrassment. Not even fit for command, despite his repeated requests. No wonder.

His feet stopped. Villainous, monstrous creatures, his feet. Mutinous. Disloyal. Disobedient. He had half a mind to court-martial them when they got to wherever the next camp would be. Certainly his next set of feet would be more responsive and respectful.

“Hamilton?” said the voice, gentler this time. The omnipresent clopping of hooves stopped, leaving only the dull murmur of snowflakes and hundreds of tired footsteps in the background.

“Excellency,” he said, because that was the default. He was vaguely aware of some plan he had had at some point in the past, of which it was a good idea to share with his maker. Had there been a plan? Had there been a past? His voice seemed equally rogue, for when he thought of something to say (troop movements, maybe?), nothing came out.

“Major General,” the voice that had ordered his birth said, but that was not his rank. He was not to respond. He could have not been that impressive.

“Yes, general,” said a familiar French lilt that had always been there. A brother. Had they been born together? No, that was impossible. His brother had come from afar. But they were brothers. Had they been been brothers forever? It seemed that could be the only answer, and yet --

“Can your horse carry Hamilton? He looks like he can barely stand. Is he feverish?”

There was a dull impact upon the snow. A black and white smear stepped closer to him. A block of ice pressed against his forehead.

“Extremely,” said his brother. He was being frowned at. Two hands gripped at his shoulders.

He drew himself up despite complaints from the battered battalion that was his body.

“I’m fine, Lafayette,” he managed, eyes sliding into focus with herculean effort. There was an aristocratic young face looking at him, with dark eyes and a deep frown. He summoned up a previously unknown well of strength to look up the white horse next to him, where his father --

no, his father had left --

but he had been born here, in the cold, and where could his father have gone? --

but the hurricane--

He sucked in a painfully cold gasp of air. Ice crystallized in his throat and froze his lungs.

“You are not fine, son,” the voice said, from up high. The voice had birthed him from the snow, to fight for this. No, his mother had --

but the hurricane --

and her fever --

He took a firm step forward. Then another. Then a third.

He had been born from his moment. He had been made to take these steps. He had been born in the bright, wet snow, to cover miles and miles of it. He had been held by his mother when she was sick --

The snow reached up, like his mother’s arms, to cradle him.

He heard a gasp and was taken into a dark, cold embrace.