She stood in the snow, her red cloak brushing against the white snow as she walked. Her footsteps made crunches as she walked down the trail now covered in snow. Glancing over her shoulder, Aria checked to make sure no one was following. She knew it was dangerous to be doing this, sneaking away like this but she just needed to see. One more time even if it was the last, once more. She knew he was leaving soon, and not when, or even if he would come back. The war that ravaged their country was a terrible one and she knew not of he would survive, she could only hope. Aria had been sneaking away to visit Alaric for weeks now, ever since they met at the ball that her family had held at the start of winter they snuck away to meet each other frequently. The feelings for Alaric that bloomed as winter preceded grew more and more. Now he would be leaving and she would never get to tell him, her developing feelings. But she would tell him, no matter the consequences of sneaking away, she didn't care. As long as Alaric knew, and hope that would keep him alive when he was gone away. She wished so that these were not the consequences, that they could meet and see each other freely. Not under that dark of night, in secret. Aria pulled her cloak closer to her to warm herself against the cold of winter as she reached the tree they met under. This tree, a giant willow, whose swept across the ground creating a barrier almost against the snow. She stepped under and leaned against the tree.

"Aria," a voice called. She quickly looked up and her eyes met his.

"You're here," Aria breathed out relieved.

"Of course, I said i would," he said stepping near her and taking her hand in his.

"I feared you wouldn't, we have been meeting so often and you are leaving tomorrow." Aria said sadly looking away. Alaric tool her chin and lifted her head so she was looking at him.

"I wouldn't miss this meeting for anything, and I mean that," Altaic said with conviction. "And I will come back for you. I will survive, I have promised you and so I will."

Aria let out a hollow laugh, and said, "and then, will we be together freely, or will we co tinge thets secret meetings. I don't want to have these secrets anymore because I.... I love you and I will die before my father marries me to someone else."

"Aria, my lovely Aria," Alaric began. "I love you too, I have for much longer than you, before you even knew I existed when I was just a lovestruck boy in the summer. I will come back for after this terrible war is over and I will tell your father of my love. We will marry and live happily."

With that said Alaric pulled Aria into his arms. They stayed like that, in each others arms, embraced under their tree where so many memories took place. Their first meeting, first kiss, a night of watching the stars and telling secrets, and where their love bloomed into the winter. This tree, this scene was their Winter's tale, a tale that would last in her heart forever even if he didn't come back. As sad as that would be, she would always have this Winter's Tale to hold in her heart forever.