"It's snowing, it's snowing!" Lily giggled, shaking Hal roughly awake.

"What's that?" Hal asked sleepily. He rubbed his eyes before opening them and sat up in bed.
Lily's outline looked slightly blurry. Peering at his alarm clock on his desk, he saw that it read

"Lily," Hal told her groggily, "It's six in the morning. Let me go back to sleep."

"Aww…" she pouted, sticking out her bottome lip pitifully. "But it's your, birthday, and it's
Christmas!" she smiled. "Plus it's snowing!"

"Of course it's snowing, there's been a blizzard all week. Even the powerlines were out
yesterday, remember? I nearly got into a fight with Ted over who got to use the computer." Ted
had won of course. Their mother wouldn't let their 'delinquent of a child' interfere with their
perfect son's studying.

Sensing Hal's anger, Lily placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Don't be anygry Hal, it's
your birthday! I got you a birthday present."

This made Hal's ears perk up. He hadn't gotten a birthday present since practically forever. His
parents didn't believe in spending money in such trivial matters. "Oh?" he asked. "What is it?"

Making a waving motion with her hand, Lily gestured at the whole of the ceiling. "Take a look at
your half of the room. They're gorgeous, aren't they?"

Hal looked up, which was the direction Lily was pointing too. Hanging off a dozenstrings from
the ceiling were twelve perfectly cut snowflakes. Each one was decorated in different coloured
sparkles and glitter glue. On every single snowflake was a number, ranging from one to twelve,
which was the age Hal was turning.

Upon a closer look, Hal realized behind each snowflake was a picture of he himself, the age of
each one matching the number on the front.

"It's not much," admitted Lily sheepishly. "I did this during class. We were supposed to be
working on our Christmas art project, so I made this."

Hal gave his little sister a big bear hug. "It's wonderful," he assured her softly.

"I want to play in the snow," Lily told him. Chuckling, Hal let go of her.

"Now?" he asked. It's too early, it's not even light outside yet. We might get eaten by polar
bears. Now wouldn't that be a nice way to spend Christmas morning?"

Giggling, Lily rolled her eyes. "Yes, yes, I want to play now! Mum and dad won't let us play
if they were up, they'd want us to do our chores, and our homewor, and, and, and all that stuff.
Besides, snowball fights in the snow are the best!"

"You can't take me one in a snowball fight," Hal laughed, ruffling her already messy soft brown
hair. "Alright, you've convinced me. Go brush you hair and your teeth. I'll meet you outside!"
After Lily left, Hal's smile faded a bit. Indeed, his parents probably wouldn't even care that it was
his birthday.

Half an hour later, Hal watched as Lily stumbled down the front steps as she tried to reach the
driveway wearing a pink jacket at matching blue mittens and a hat.

"Halt!" Hal held his hand up in front of her face. "You need to go back inside, you're not
wearing your scarf."

Lily pouted again. "I don't like wearing my scarf, it's itchy."

"I know you don't like wearing your scarf, which is why I brought it with me!" smirking at the
look on his sister's face, Hal pulled her scarf out of his pocket and wrapped it around her. "There,
now we can play."

Just as Lily said, snowball fights in the snow were the best. As the sun wasn't up and nobody
was awake yet, they had the whole knee height of snow to themselves. Once Hal creamed Lily in
the snowball fight, they proceeded to making snow angels in the snow that nobody had touched

Quite honestly, Hal could say with the utmost confidence today might have been the best
birthday of his life. That was, until their parents got a hold of them

It wasn't until nine thirty did their parents wake up and scolded them for playing outside so early
in the morning, then punished them by making them shovel the driveway.

"Why were you so excited about it snowing this morning?" Hal asked Lily as together they
heaved against the shovel and pushed the snow to the side of the driveway.

Lily looked at him curiously. "Because I know you like white Christmases better as opposed to
brown muddy ones, and everyone deserves a birthday wish!"

The answer warmed Hal's heart.

When Nate received a phone call from Andi telling him to meet up at the local park at eight in
the morning, he could honestly say he was shocked. No one had ever called him before except for
the library, let alone hung out with him outside school.

After telling his parents where he was off too, he got ready in less than twenty minutes and
dashed out the door. His parents encouraged him greatly; they've always worried about him not
having any friends.

Once he reached the playground, he saw not only Andi there, but the rest of the Sign of Five.
Natalie and Andi were at one end of the football field making a snow fort. Simon and Ryan were
building a snowman two meters high.

"What are you doing?" he asked them as he sprinted onto the field.

"Getting ready for a snowball fight, of course," replied Ryan as if this was the most obvious
thing in the world.

"Preparing for a snowball fight…? You do know that you're building a snowman, right?" Nate
glanced at the girls, who were already finished their fort. Now they were starting on stocking up in

"Aah, but that's the thing," explained Simon. "It's not just a snowman, it's a super snowman!
Mr. Snowy's going to serve as a decoy, while we plan a sneak attack. It's foolproof. You'll see."

Fifteen minutes later, Nate could see indeed that Simon's foolproof plan was not working. Mr.
Snowy's face had been hit in the face multiple times already, and half of his head had already
crumpled to the ground. It was his first time seeing the girls so merciless.

"Take that!" Ryan yelled, hurling a particularly large snowball at Andi's way. Andi shrieked and

ducked behind their fort. A dent was created as the snowball bounced off. They continued pelting
each other without mercy until finally, gasping for air, they all agreed to continue their tie breaker
the next day.

Exhausted, Nate made his way back home. The chill of the winter air made his cheeks tinge, and
his fingers felt numb in his gloves. Deciding to take the long way to savour the Christmas feel a
bit more, Nate walked all around his neighbourhood.

That was when he saw something he didn't expect to see in a hundred years.

Hal Darwin was crouching low in the snow in a driveway, laughing. A young girl looking around
the age of nine was with him, also laughing, throwing snowballs at him.

What was really strange was that Hal hadn't leaped up in an attempt at strangling her, Instead,
he called out a "Nice throw!" and threw his own snowball. Only it wasn't a very hard throw, Nate
could tell.

"How come you always beat me?" the little girl asked, crossing her arms. Hall patted her on the

"Aww, you'll get better one day, Lily," he comforted her. Suddenly, the girl called Lily bent
down and cupped in her hands a handful of snow and chucked it at Hal.

"Got you!" she laughed. Hal simply looked bewildered, before hollering, "it's on!". The two of
them chucked more snowballs at each other, laughing the whole time. The smile on Hal's face was
actually a genuine smile. Not a smirk, not a grin, not even a sneer.

The leader of the Darwin Crew was actually smiling. He didn't know how long he stood there,
and he might have stayed there a little longer had it not been for a rather cross looking woman
hurrying out and yelling.

It looked like his mother, but a mother wouldn't handle her own son that roughly, would she?
The little girl begged her mother to stop screaming at her brother, but this only made the women
scream at her. Hal stepped in front of her protectively.

Nate walked away from the scene quietly, his opinion of Hal Darwin changing very slightly
towards the good side.