As it moved into December, Winter arrived with a fury unchallenged by the blip of snow seen one month ago. Will realised that he had been at the Sanctuary for three months, yet with so many challenges and events - it had seemed like three years. He had to be thankful that there had been no more disappearances since Laguna had been taken, but conversely, they were no closer to locating any of the kidnapped. He was no closer to understanding the Evil Eye - and Mrs Calibrase took great care to ignore Will and make sure they would not be left alone together so he could ask her again.
Despite the mistral spreading through the grounds, Will and his friends endeavoured up the pathway towards the Portal. Tayna was well protected in her purple coat complete with scarf and fur-lined boots - whilst Will and Andrel buttoned their blazers tightly across themselves.
'Explain to me again why we're going shopping in this weather,' Andrel grumbled, meandering off of the marked pathway into the snow that reached his ankles.
'It's Anala's birthday tomorrow,' Tayna explained, weary from his complaints. 'The shopping trip is montly, this is my only opportunity. Besides, Holloway is cold and snowy all year round, we have to get used to it.'
'But yesterday, you said that Anala was a spoilt brat,'
'Only sometimes,' Tayna interjected, 'she may have her mood swings - and she may borrow my clothes and ruin them, but she's a good friend all-in-all. Besides, she doesn't have many other friends, we can't forget about her on her fifteenth birthday.' She combed her fingers through her hair, melting the clumps of snow, turning to Will. 'Maybe I can get you a present too, Will. Your birthday has to be coming up soon, right?'
'I've already had my birthday,' Will answered reservedly, 'it was October thirteenth.' Tayna stopped, shock on her face as if she'd been shot.
'What? Why didn't you tell me?'
'I didn't want you to know,'
'Why not? I feel bad for not getting you anything now.'
'Why are birthdays such a big deal anyway?' he asked, 'it's not as if the day I was born was holy or anything -,'
'For you, that depends who you ask,' Andrel retorted, 'I hear that there are festivals on the royal family birthdays - you are descended from gods after all. Elemental magick's supposed to be a divinely-endowed Gift or something,'
'Alright,' Will said impassively, 'but that doesn't mean I want gifts, what are they supposed to mean? Do the cards say "thanks for existing" or "we're really happy that your parents did it nine months ago" -,'
'So...you're saying that you've never celebrated your birthday before?' Tayna looked genuinely intrigued by him - as if she wanted to put him in a specimen jar and tap the glass all day.
'Not with Wilhelmina at least. She always got a bit angry on my birthday, I never understood why before, but now I think it was because she had to give me up on my eighteenth birthday, it was like a clock counting down...'
'Oh, well, regardless, I have to get you something.'
Will knew he wouldn't win the argument, both from the weariness the weather was giving him, and because of Tayna's stubbornness, so he let the subject go.