by Resonant

(Part of the Canadian Shack Challenge)

It's not exactly walking in a winter wonderland.

But Frannie's prepared. She has on seven layers on top and eight layers on the bottom, two hats, two pairs of gloves, three pairs of socks. She looks like the abdominal snowman in this get-up, but it's not as though he ever noticed her body when it used to be visible, so she doesn't suppose it will make any difference in the reception she gets. When she gets there. If she gets there.

Frannie pauses in the thigh-deep snow and squints at the compass, double-checking her direction. Of course she knows how to read a compass. She isn't stupid.

So it should be just over this rise, and slightly to the west ...


He's in, too; firelight is visible through the iced-up windows, and she can hear a guitar, a voice singing softly. She takes a moment just to take it all in. This is what she has, now. She's given up everything -- her home, her city, her family, her job -- and she's found her way here on her own, and it's for this. He'll take her in, or. Or he won't. He'll love her, or he won't. But this is what she has.

Her eyes are blurry when she knocks on the door.

The guitar falls silent. The door swings open. Jeans and a flannel shirt, but the hair is wrong, and ...

"Miss Vecchio?"


"It's the wrong shack. I'm sorry. I've come to the wrong shack. If you could just tell me ... if you could give me some directions ..."

"If you were looking for a shack at this latitude and longitude, then the shack you've found is certainly the one you're looking for, as there's no other shelter for fifty miles in any direction."

His voice sounds strangely thin. Frannie focuses her attention on unlocking her knees, and after a moment the swimming feeling leaves her head and she hears the voice again: " ... for my annual retreat, as the constable and the detective live in RCMP housing in Fort Good Hope and come here only in the summer ..."

Don't fight with your brother, cara. When you're a little older, you'll be glad to meet his friends.

When she closes her eyes for a moment, ice forms on her lashes, sealing them together, and it costs her an effort to open them again.

When she does, though, it's still Turnbull's amiable ugly face in the place of the one she came here to see.

Every princess grows up to marry the prince. If the first prince turns out to be a toad, she just has to wait patiently in her tower and another prince will come along. And if he doesn't fall for her? What's a prince for if not to marry a princess?

"Miss Vecchio?"

It's been an hour or so since she's been able to shiver. She was happy to see the reflex go. But a gust of warm air from the doorway starts her shaking again. It hurts; she remembers reading that. If warmth comes back into a frostnipped extremity, it's going to hurt like hell.

"Miss Vecchio. Come in and get warm."

And so she does.


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