My lovely querent, do you mean the sort of engagement where a gaggle of women stay up all night, sleep in the same bed, and don’t have sex with each other? Well… the answer is yes, but not entirely by choice. You see, it all happened last winter…
You may not have been aware, but last winter was much harsher than normal. Kirkwall is a bit north of Ferelden so we normally don’t get too much of the snow here, but this past year was absolutely dreadful. The snow was piling up in great drifts, and it was getting bitterly, chokingly, nipples-harder-than-diamonds cold. It was so cold that (and you know I’ll deny it if you bring it up) I had practically moved in with Hawke at the time if only because the Hanged Man had a hard time keeping the cold out of the rooms each night, and Hawke’s body just feels like an absolutely amazing pillow.
In any case, things were cold, snowy, and miserable. But Kitten, bless her lovely heart, sends out her invitations for her annual Dalish winter feast celebration, nana-nanathan or something. I never can get my tongue around those ridiculous elvish words. In any case, she hosts a dinner party every year, and she invites all of her friends to it. Fenris and Anders never accept because they are the fun equivalent to rusty anchors, and Sebastian always makes some point of only observing the Maker’s holidays, but the rest of us dutifully visit Kitten each year to drink traditional Dalish wine, and eat traditional Dalish food all cooked by Merrill herself. After the first year or two of stomachaches, we quickly learned that we should all bring food and drink as well. So this past year, Hawke brought a buttercream frosted rum cake with strawberries (it was my idea), I brought two bottles of my favorite Antivan brandy, and Aveline brought some sort of large pot pie cheese casserole conglomeration. It was a lot like her - chunky, hard, and in desperate need of a good forking.
It had begun to snow when we arrived, the sort of gentle falling loveliness that you can catch on your tongue. The snow began to pile up, but we didn’t pay it much attention. We were hungry and thirsty, and looking forward to spending a pleasant evening in good company. The meal was edible, and the cake was amazing. We sat back, sipping the brandy and chatting about everything and nothing, while the cozy fire crackled in Merrill’s hearth.
The night grew long, and Aveline was the first to leave. The mannish mammoth stood at the exit and tried to open the front door, but was unable to budge it. She frowned and pushed more forcefully, but it still refused to budge. I may have made some joke about madame muscles, and she grunted and threw her shoulder into it, pushing it out a few inches. And that’s when we finally saw that the piled snow had sealed us in.
The little white flakes continued to fall from the sky in great number as Aveline attempted to dig her way out. Sadly, it was no use. The snow piled on as quickly as she dug, and it rapidly became clear that we had no place for all that snow to go. As if to punctuate it, a rumbling sound soon shook Merrill’s home, and a chunk of her roof caved in under the weight of the snow that had gathered on it. It landed directly on Hawke, who happened to be sitting on me. She spluttered and immediately began to wiggle, and while I may have enjoyed the sensation a bit, the immediate addition of melting snow on my skin cooled any ardor I may have had. Well, some of it anyway.
We got up, and to add the final touch of icing on the cake, Merrill just had to make an astute observation.
“The Dread Wolf take it, I’m out of firewood!”
And then a pause, as she looked at us.
“Are you all staying for the night?”
We each exchanged a few looks as I wrapped my arms around Hawke when she started to shiver, but Aveline was the one to break the silence first. As the snow began to fall through the new hole in the roof, the ball busting brawler sighed, and closed the door. We all followed Kitten into her room.
It was there that we had our second rather interesting discovery for the night. Merrill went to her armoire and began getting all of her blankets and pillows, but she did not have many. The cold was already beginning to seep in to the room, and she looked very worried.
“Don’t worry, Merrill,” said Hawke, taking stock of the situation. “Everything will be alright. We’ll just have to huddle together to keep warm.”
Kitten brightened like a lantern being unhooded. Aveline, on the other hand, slowly glanced from Merrill, to Hawke, then finally at me. I met her gaze with a sly grin and waved. She sighed.
“Not one word of this leaves these walls, whore,” she growled.
Yes, well, we all know just how well that particular promise is going, don’t we?
To conserve heat, we were all forced to bundle together in a large mess of arms, legs, and blankets. There were complaints about cold feet, giggles, and more than once Aveline would sigh and say “That’s me you’re grabbing!” in that long-suffering voice of hers. It didn’t take that long for us to realize that sleep wasn’t coming terribly soon, but there was little else to do in Kitten’s home, what with the cold always encroaching on us. So there were a few… activities that night.
I believe that should qualify as a sleepover, right?
I’ll tell you about what happened that night some other time. But let me just say that there was a pillow fight involved, and there may have been a game of ‘Never have I ever’ played.