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The wind had started howling awhile ago, the snow that the dark clouds had been promising all day whirling through the air, making it impossible to see more than a few paces out. Nellas had stood in the doorway of her root cave for a few long minutes, watching the whiteness descend over the forest, and then had stepped back inside, pulling the thick cloth down over the opening and listening to the tree shudder about her.
She had just curled up in a corner, a thick blanket wrapped around her, when the sound of urgent knocking on the tree roots drifted down. Startled, she stood up, letting the blanket fall from her.
It can’t be…
The knock came again. She hastened across the room and pulled the cloth aside. The wind sent puffs of white through the thin opening, cold striking her bare skin. Niënor stood in the shelter of the overhanging roots, winter cloak crusted with snow and exposed cheeks bright red.
"Nellas," she said, by way of greeting, clapping her mittened hands together and shivering. "Can I come in?"
Nellas stepped aside, refastening the cloth as soon as Niënor had entered, muffling the noise of the wind outside. “You came,” she said, not quite knowing what else to say – she had hoped, of course, that Niënor would come, always hoped – but that was a fierce storm outside, and the snow was already thick.
Niënor unclasped her cloak, snow slipping from the folds as she did so. There were shining puddles of snowmelt all across the ground already, and half-melted flakes caught in her golden hair. “Of course I did. Do you think I’d let something as silly as a storm keep me from coming to you?”
"I suppose I should have known better," Nellas laughed, sitting and holding out her arm, inviting Niënor to join her under the warm blanket. Niënor obliged, slipping underneath and wrapping her arms around Nellas, nestling her head in the hollow between her shoulder and neck. Nellas ran a hand through Niënor’s damp hair. "But you may find it hard to return to Menegroth until this storm is over."
"Perhaps that would not be such a terrible thing," Niënor replied, smiling, as the storm raged on.