The one thing that Sigrun didn't like about the surface was the cold.
It had caught her by surprise the first time she realized just how much temperatures could flux compared to what she was used to in the past. A warm day could still lead to a freezing night. She was used to the steady coolness of the Deep Roads, and before that Orzammar, where the only time things changed was when you happened across an active stream of lava – and that made it hotter, not cooler.
"Is it always like this on the surface?" Sigrun asked through shivering teeth, pulling the woolen cloak that the Commander had given her more tightly around her. It wasn't really that warm, all things considered, but it was better than nothing.
Nathaniel glanced at her and arched his eyebrows. "Like what?"
Sigrun didn't roll her eyes, but it took some effort. Instead, she merely reached out from under the cloak with one arm and gestured around them. "Like this," she repeated. "All cold and brown and cold and—"
"Cold?" Anders put in teasingly, taking a few long steps to come even with her. He reached down and tweaked her hair, and it said a lot about just how miserable Sigrun was that she didn't even try to duck her head when she saw his hand moving.
"Also cold," Sigrun agreed, pulling her hand back under the cloak.
Anders grinned at her. "Yep," he said brightly. "Welcome to Ferelden."
Nathaniel sighed. "Ignore him. It's not always like this."
"Just usually," Anders said, cutting in.
Sigrun let her gaze drift between the two of them, trying to decide which one to believe. Then she realized exactly who she was talking to and turned her attention entirely towards Nathaniel. "It's not?" she asked hopefully.
Anders raised an eyebrow. "What?" he asked, with more theatrics in his voice than could ever be necessary. "You're going to believe him and not me?"
Sigrun ignored him, her eyes still on Nathaniel.
The corners of Nathaniel's mouth turned slightly upwards. It wasn't quite a smile, not in the strictest sense of the word, but for him it was rather noticeable. "No," he said. "The weather has only started getting cool these past few weeks."
"So this is only temporary?" Sigrun asked hopefully. "It will be warm again soon?"
Nathaniel noticeably hesitated, and Sigrun felt the hope she had been desperately clinging to start to crack.
"It will be warm again," he said carefully.
Anders snorted. "In about four months."
Sigrun's eyes flickered toward Anders, and not for the first time she hoped against hope that the words coming out of his mouth weren't actually true. Then she turned her gaze back toward Nathaniel.
"Four months?" she asked, her question coming out a bit more like a whine than she had intended.
Nathaniel grimaced a bit. "At the earliest," he agreed with a little reluctance. "It could be longer, if it's a bad winter."
Sigrun opened her mouth. Then she closed it. He wasn't lying. She could tell that much by the look on his face. "Oh."
"Don't worry," Anders said tweaking her hair again. This time she ducked her head and pulled away from him in response. "You'll get used to it. I did."
"You grew up in Ferelden," Nathaniel pointed out dryly. "You didn't have anything to get used to."
Anders rolled his eyes. "Yes, well, they didn't like to let me outside much back at the Circle," he said. "Probably because I kept trying to swim across the lake whenever they weren't looking."
Sigrun pulled ahead of the two of them, letting Nathaniel's reply slowly shift into background noise as she pointedly ignored their soon-to-be-bickering. She'd learned very quickly that most of their conversations ended up going in that direction, some sooner than later. And when that happened, ignoring them was typically the best option.
It would have been easier to do if only it wasn't so damn cold.
She pulled her cloak a little tighter around her, letting Anders and Nathaniel's conversation behind her drift in one ear and out the other as she carefully kept her gaze moving. There weren't any darkspawn nearby, that much she knew with certainty, but they weren't the only potential threats out there even this close to the Keep.
And the Commander would never let her hear the end of it if she got caught off guard by a hungry wolf or some desperate bandits. She might not know them all that well yet, but that much she'd figured out already.
Something cold and wet hit Sigrun on the nose.
She froze in place, her eyes crossing as she tried to see exactly what it was she'd felt. It wasn't rain. She'd felt rain before, and that wasn't it. But what in the—
It happened again. This time, though, Sigrun was able to catch a glimpse of something small and white just before it hit her skin and disappeared.
"Is there something wrong?" Nathaniel asked, stepping up beside her. Anders was on his heels, a curious look on his face as he glanced her way.
Frowning, Sigrun looked up. Then she felt her mouth drop open.
She stared at the cold, white substance falling from the sky in bewilderment. The first few that had hit her had been tiny, but it looked like they were already growing larger – there was no chance of her not noticing them now.
It had taken her some time, but she was finally starting to get used to rain. She hadn't had a choice, considering how much it seemed to fall in Ferelden. But this… this was something new.
"What is that?" Sigrun asked, her voice hushed.
Nathaniel shot her a puzzled look. "What?" he asked.
Sigrun stared at him. "That," she repeated, gesturing around her. "What is it?"
The confusion on his face didn't fade.
Beside him, something flickered in Anders's eyes for a moment, a hint of seriousness that she wasn't used to seeing on his face. "Oh," he said. "Oh. You've never seen snow before, have you?"
"Snow?" Sigrun repeated the unfamiliar word, trying its sound in her mouth. "Is it like rain?"
"Sort of," Anders said. "It's kind of like frozen rain."
Sigrun looked upward, watching the specks white fluttering downward from the endless sky above them. "Frozen rain," she repeated slowly, not quite certain whether or not to believe him.
He nodded. "That's right," he agreed. "It happens during the winter."
Anders brought his hand toward her, and Sigrun braced herself for him to try and play with her hair again. She didn't know why he did it, but it seemed to be his favorite pastime. To her surprise, though, this time he didn't even make an attempt. His hand came down to settle on her shoulder, despite him having to lean down slightly to reach.
Then he gave it a reassuring squeeze.
"You'll get used to it too," he said, his voice gentler than she'd been expecting. "Trust me."
Sigrun swallowed before nodding at him.
"Come on," Anders said, giving her shoulder one more squeeze before letting go. "Let's get back to the Keep before the weather gets worse."