The sounds of laughter filled the air as Lucas ran with Farrah and Aiden across the open field, mocking their father who couldn't quite keep up, and their mother who was slowly tagging along behind them, taking photographs and secruring the memories.
As the snow crawled into the tops of their wellies the sub-zero tempratures didn't effect any of them as they enjoyed their family time together. Recently, being able to spend time with each other had been limited and hard to come by but due to Christmas drawing near, the schools were closed and adults given holiday time off work.
"Squeeze in!" Jody called as the teenagers ran back quickly to the parents and let Farrah jump onto their father's back, giggling in delight as she almost fell straight back off.
"Come here." He laughed back at her, holding out his hand which she took and pulled herself out the snow. Jason Blake lauched a screaming Farrah into the air and hung her upside down over his shoulder as she began to pound her fists against his back.
Aiden ran around the back and knelt under Farrah's face, laughing at her and pounding a handful of snow onto her face before grabbing her shoulders and lifting her up, and holding her steady whilst Jason moved his hands to sit her on his shoulder.
Jody laughed and called to them. "Camera's here, you know." Her finger had just pressed onto the shutter when Jason tipped Farrah back slightly and Lucas turned help his sister whilst Aiden stood at the other side and laughed joyfully.
They continued to walk as the teenagers had a snowball fight around the rest of their family, using their father as a sheild from each other's attacks. Jody ducked away to avoid being hit by stray flakes that escaped from the balls being launched over her shoulder. She looked to her left and met Jason's eye who smiled sweetly at her as he wobbled his arms and made Farrah giggle with glee as she swayed in the icy breeze.
Lucas screamed and sprinted ahead as Aiden came from behind his father, armed with two gaint blocks of snow and was aiming to throw them onto his face.
Poised and ready to unleash his icy wrath upon his younger brother, he sprinted towards Lucas with a loud war cry.
"WAIT!" A quiet voice called as Jason lowered Farrah from his shoulders before handing her a huge handful of crisp snow. With a cheeky smile slowly englarging on her frozen face, she walked slyly to her brothers who had turned their backs on them before raising her hands and watching the snow drop onto their heads.
In unison, the boys turned to face their little sister. "Farrah!" They shouted as they both collected snow of their own and threw it over her, covering her hair in small, danite snowflakes. She scooped the snow from her hair and placed her pink, snow covered gloves on Lucas' already cold face. As she did, another rouge snowball came flying from behind him and hit him square in the back of the head.
Instantly he turned round, wondering if it was aimed for another group of people but the field was empty except for them. "Who?" He questioned, turning to Aiden who stood with his hands held in the air in innocence. Lucas turned to his father who was also pleading to be not guily about ths snowball whilst his mother was holding her camera in two hands.
In the blink of an eye, Aiden jumped as a girl launched herself onto his back, black hair covering his eyes and laughing in delight. She smiled sweetly to the Blakes as she clung onto Aiden's shoulders. With a quick flick of his leg, Aiden toppled backwards and buried the girl in the deep snow with an ear-peircing scream. When he stood up, he held her down and shoveled snow on top of her laughing gleefully.
"Trying getting out now, Ria." He laughed, holding her in the snow by gently resting his foot on her chest. She tried to sit herself up but Aiden gently pushed her back down with the tip of his shoes. Ria tried many times to unbury herself from her partly-snowy grave but everytime was pushed back deeper into the snow by Aiden.
After a while, Jason slapped his oldest son on the shoulder to tell him to stop and Aiden exchanged his foot for his hand and pulled her to her feet, only to drop her back into the snow halfway up. He looked up at his father who was having a difficult time trying to hold back the laughter. Second time around, he left Ria find her footing before distracting her whilst Lucas prepared a snowball to pay her back for the one she threw at him a moment ago.
With a large thud, the snow hit the back of her head and broke into tiny little flakes at fluttered back down the the ground. Jody called for the four children to get in for a photo and they all turned and smiled for the camera before breaking out into a snowy and cold warfare : 2-on-2, Lucas and Farrah against Ria and Aiden.
Jody took many pictures of the children having fun and the occansional one of Jason unleashing his inner child onto them and attacking all four at once with giant mounds of snow. Laughter danced through the snowflake filled air above them as they spent an hour and a half running around the field, sending countless snowballs through the air and many cheers as they hit their desired target. After a bit, the battle changed into which team could roll the biggest snowball which Jason then helped transform into a snowman.
"3...2...1..." Jody counted down as the five of them posed infront of their creation, smiles wider then the ocean and levels of enjoyment higher then a bridge. Fresh-faced, panting and tired from their warfare, the Blakes walked Ria home before returning to their own home where they were greeted by a bouncy Kooikerhoundje puppy who jumped up Jason's legs as he pushed through the front door so that the pup wouldn't attempt to run into the middle of the street.
"Down, girl." He laughed as she ran around his feet playfully, glad that they were finally hometo play with her instead of the cold white stuff outside. Once the whole family was in the warmth of their home, they removed their shoes and placed them by the back door and began to warm their frozen feet by the fire as Jody made a pot of tea even putting in extra for Scarlett to drink as a treat for her.
* * * * *
Lucas was still staring up at the picture of his mis-matched family and friends before turning it over and removing the back, knowing that he had more stored behind the frame. Removing the cardboard backing, he removed numerous photographs and placed them down so that the one of he, Ria, Aiden and Farrah was at the top.
He turned it to the side and placed it next to the pile face down on his bed. Underneath that lay a picture of he and Aiden before he had left and before he had dyed his hair. Both boys were smiling and Lucas barely reconsiged himself with brown hair and didn't actually know who was with Aiden until he turned it over and saw the names on the back. He smiled slightly and turned the picture back over, memories of he and his brother came flooding back to him and how much they had playfully picked on little Farrah.
After a while, he placed that picture like the other one and looked to the next, taking in the peace he had recieved and thought about when he would next get a chance to do this. Lucas continued his trip down the long, dark and shadowed 'Memory Lane' as he glanced quickly at the small picture tucked in behind a family portrait of the last christmas he spent with Aiden. The small picture had a missing corner and rough edges and the image printed onto was a dog standing proudly in the snow, the red patched standing out brilliantly against the white of the surroundings.
He placed a finger on the dogs face and whispered into it. "Scarlett..." With a small smile, he gently kissed the image and continued to stare at it for a elonged second.