SPOILERS: Mentions scenes from "The Third Lorelai."
SUMMARY: A simple gift from mother nature changes everything.
RATING: PG
CONTENT: Nothing that wouldn't be seen on an episode of Gilmore Girls.
PAIRING: R/T
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of these characters. The WB, Amy Sherman-Palladino, etc do.


When Snow Falls
by April


Part One


Rory rolled over in her bed, snuggling further under the covers. As she prepared to fall back to sleep, the scene outside of her window made her sit up in bed with shock. The morning light filtering into the bedroom was weak, due to the layer of snow and ice forming a film over the glass.

"The end of March and itís snowing?" Rory padded over to the window and looked outside. The Gilmoreís yard was a wonderland with a pristine covering of undisturbed snow. Not a soul in Stars Hollow appeared to have stirred from their cozy beds. I was hoping for warm weather, but this is beautiful. The snowfalls in the middle of winter couldnít hold a candle to the beauty that was spread out in front of Rory that morning. Snowflakes froze against the glass as they hit the window, outlining their brilliant shapes. It was amazing that something which seemed so simple could actually be so complex. Each one different from the next...just like people. In the past month, Rory had come to know the truth to that statement more than she ever thought she would. So much had happened in such a short amount of time. People around her had changed, and she had as well. As Rory thought back over the past month, a small smile tugged at the corners of her mouth.

Rory was jolted out of her musings by a loud crash that came from down the hall, accompanied by quiet grumbling. "Mom, you okay?"

Lorelai came bounding into the room, tugging a sled along behind her. "Good morning, sweetie! I was just getting the old sled out of the closet." A giddy grin spread across her face.

Rory stared at Lorelai in disbelief. "Itís 7:00 in the morning."

"You are quite right."

"On a Saturday."

"Thank god."

"Are you coming down with something?"

"Itís the snow." Lorelai bounced over to the window. "When thereís snow, Iím wide awake."

Rory chuckled. "I can see that." She watched as Lorelai went over to the closet and started to toss scarves, hats, and gloves at her.

From under a mountain of clothes, Roryís voice was muffled. "Wow, spring cleaning time?"

Lorelai scoffed. "Thereís at least six inches of fresh snow out there, and we are so not letting it go to waste. Weíre going sledding, missy!" Lorelai turned and beamed at her daughter.

"I think I need to hide the coffee now."

"Iíve only had one cup."

When Rory raised her eyebrows, Lorelai sighed. "Okay, two. Daughter, you know me too well."

Rory smiled. "Yes I do."

Lorelai put her hands on her hips. "Now get dressed. Weíre going to Lukeís and then Beaverís Hill."

"Whoa, take charge why donít you?"

"I like to think that leadership is one of my key traits," Lorelai whispered conspiratorially as she started to walk out of the room.

"Can I call Lane and see if she can come?"

"Sure, but hurry!"

"Aye, aye Captain Gilmore!" Rory gave her mom a mock salute.

"I heard that." Lorelai stuck her head back around the door before hurrying down the hall.

*****


Later, Rory and Lorelai were navigating the jeep carefully down the road with Luke following closely in his truck. Rory glanced out the back window at Luke. "I canít believe you convinced him to come."


Lorelai shrugged. "I just explained to him how much the good people of Stars Hollow worship the oven he cooks on, and that I would die without his fresh coffee and doughnuts. I think I had him persuaded into believing that I would freeze permanently into a snowman, er...woman, if he didnít come. So he agreed, of course."


Rory reached forward to turn up the heat, and then looked at Lane sitting in the back seat. She had been trying to suppress laughter since they had first picked Lane up that morning. She had waddled out of her house, barely able to move due to being bundled up in heavy layers of clothing. Mrs. Kim had only agreed to let her daughter come along to Beaverís Hill if she would wear a snow hat, mittens, earmuffs, a large coat, and long underwear under her jeans.


Rory jokingly pulled Laneís hat over her eyes. "Come on. Itíll be fun!"


Lane picked at the coat that engulfed her. "Yeah, if I could move," she said while rolling her eyes dramatically.


"You look cute. Plus, if you canít move, that means Iím obligated to pull you around on the sled."


"I would definitely take advantage of that," Lorelai chimed in.


"Yeah, but that means you couldnít do the super-duper belly slide down the hill," Lane protested.


While Lane and Lorelai discussed the merits and different techniques to sledding, Rory gazed out the side window. The heavy snowfall had lessened to steady flurries that peppered the world with more white softness. The tree limbs shifted in the light breeze, occasionally sending little clouds of snow blowing off the branches. Rory had been going to Beaverís Hill with her mom every winter since she could remember. Conveniently located behind the Independence Inn, the gently sloping, but wide hill, was a perfect spot for sledding. In fact, it was well known around the area for just that very reason. Though people from different places came to the hill, the residents of Stars Hollow considered it their own natural wonder.


As Lorelai pulled into the parking lot of the Inn, Roryís eyes widened in astonishment. The lot was nearly filled with cars.


"Is there a convention this weekend?" Lane rubbed at the fogged up window with her gloved hand.


Lorelai peered out of the front window of the jeep, looking for a parking space. "Nope. This is a slow weekend since the news has been predicting bad weather."


Rory pointed to a car parked one row over. "Thereís Miss Pattyís car. She must have decided to go sledding too."


Lorelai chuckled in amusement. "Word sure travels fast around these here parts," she said, attempting to sound like a cowgirl but failing.


Lane slapped the back of the seat. "Yee haw!"


"Oh, thereís a space!" Lorelai stepped down on the brake suddenly, resulting in loud horn blasts from Lukeís truck. He had been following behind them and had almost run into the back of the jeep. Lorelai glanced behind her and saw Luke waving his hands and muttering.


"All right, all right." Lorelai waved at him cheerfully and then pulled into the space. "He better not have spilled my coffee," she mumbled.


The girls climbed out of the jeep, while Lorelai went over to talk to Luke. Lane scanned the various vehicles. "Do you recognize any of these?"


Rory shook her head. "Sometimes people from surrounding towns come here."


"Oh, thatís right. I didnít even think about that."


They walked over to where Lorelai was struggling to get the sleds out of the jeep. "Where did Luke go?" Rory asked while pulling a sled out and setting it on the ground.


Lorelai rubbed her shoulder. "I think I pulled something. Luke went up to the inn to get a table for my coffee and doughnuts."


"Iím afraid youíre going to have to share those goodies." Rory gestured to all the cars.


"Thereís a pot of coffee with my name on it. Come on, letís go!" Lorelai headed towards the back of the inn, pulling one of the sleds behind her.


"You heard the woman." Lane grabbed the other sled, and she and Rory followed Lorelai.


When they reached Beaverís Hill, they stood in awe of the crowd spread out before them. "Wow, this is like shoe sales at the mall, but colder and minus the red sale dots. I see a lot of red noses though," Lorelai murmured.


Sleds whizzed by them down the hill with the passengers yelling in delight. Off to the side, Rory saw a group of children building snowmen while their parents tried to keep them on task. Looking back towards the inn, she saw Luke and two other men carrying a table down to the hill to house his refreshments. Rory pulled her coat tightly around her. The air was frigid, but she knew she would warm up after a few runs down the hill.


Lane pointed to a couple sitting on one of the benches kissing. "I bet theyíre really warm right now." When the girl turned, Lane got a closer look at her face. "Hey, doesnít she go to Chilton?"


Rory nodded, her brow furrowed. "Yeah, thatís Louise. I didnít think anyone from Chilton would be out here." Looking around, she saw several more faces she recognized from Chiltonís halls.


"I guess they wanted to have some non-formal, old-fashioned fun for a change," Lane commented.


Rory couldnít help but wonder if all these students from Chilton were here then maybe...No. He wouldnít be here. She was surprised to feel disappointment course through her body. Add that to the other confusing feelings Iíve been having lately.


When Rory didnít respond, Lane noticed that her friend seemed to be lost in thought. That was unusual for Rory, because she almost always had something to say about everything. Gently, she tugged on the sleeve of Roryís coat. "Earth to Rory."


"Yeah?" Rory quickly pushed her thoughts to the back of her mind.


"How about we do some of that sledding now?" Lorelai returned from Lukeís table, a mug of coffee in hand.


"You got it sister!" Rory smiled, and prepared to give Lane a push down the hill, before heading down on her own sled.


"Iím next," Lorelai said as she put her arm around her daughter.


*****


Tristan Dugray shifted slightly in his position on the bench. All around him people, young and old, shouted with glee, but he remained silent. For the amount of time Tristan had been at the hill, several girls from Chilton and even ones he didnít know, had approached him, asking if he wanted to share their sled. He politely, but firmly, declined. Tristan knew they just wanted an excuse to wrap their arms around him and press their bodies up against his. There was only one girl whose arms Tristan wanted to feel around him, and he feared he would never get that chance.


Rory Gilmore. She consumed his thoughts, and lately even his dreams. Tristan wasnít going to fool himself. He didnít come here today for sledding. Heck, he hadnít even brought a sled. Early in the winter, some students at Chilton mentioned Beaverís Hill in Stars Hollow and what an excellent spot it was for sledding. Tristan knew that Rory lived there, and given the weather conditions, had let himself hope that he would see her. Sure, he saw her in classes every day, but he wanted more. He wanted to see the home of the girl who completely fascinated him.


Tristan wasnít used to feeling this way. He ran a hand through his blond hair, tousled from the light breeze. Everywhere he went, girls had always fallen at his feet except for Rory. She had refused every single one of his advances. Her witty remarks had amused him, to the point where he would torment her just to see the heat cascade through those beautiful eyes. There was no denying that Tristan had been attracted to Rory from the beginning. However, she had been something for him to conquer, to prove to everyone that he could have her.


Everything had begun to change at the dance. When he saw Rory, absolutely stunning in her dress, gazing tenderly into her jerk of a boyfriendís eyes, a flood of jealousy ran through him. Tristan wanted her to look at him that way. Yet, he knew she never would. He didnít deserve her. In classes, he had found himself staring at her, unable to look away. He didnít care who saw him. Her every feature was branded in his memory. It was almost as if he couldnít get enough. The girl who had been somewhat of a trophy to him had come to mean so much more than any other girl he had encountered before. Tristan had been scared and confused.


When he kissed her at the party it had become clear. Rory had become extremely special to him. She was so close, that I had to take that chance and kiss her. I donít regret it, because she kissed me back. I have never felt so alive as I did at that moment. But when Rory pulled back suddenly, those extraordinary blue eyes were filling with tears. Later, Rory had explained that it was Dean who had caused her to be upset. Dean. Of course.


When Rory suggested that he date Paris, he was taken slightly aback. Nevertheless, Tristan had agreed. Roryís opinion had mattered more to him than he was willing to admit at that point. I did it for you, Rory. Yeah, Paris and I had a good time, but we are better off as friends. She certainly did not make me feel the way I do when Iím around you. No girl but you can do that. Thatís what frightens me.


Tristan had told Rory that he didnít want to continue dating Paris, because he liked somebody else. She thought I wasnít over Summer. Rory, canít you see that I just dated Summer to make you jealous? You are the somebody else. She still doesnít seem to know that I meant her. I know I should be thankful that Rory and I are friends now, but thatís all she sees me as. A friend. How am I supposed to be close to her every day, knowing that I canít take her into my arms and hold her? Tristan was brought out of his thoughts by the exquisite laugh that never failed to bring his heart to his knees.


His eyes sought for the source, and then he saw her. Rory was standing with another girl and a woman, who must have been her mother. He watched as the women playfully argued over who had the best sledding technique. Tristan knew he was blatantly staring, but he couldnít tear his eyes away from the girl in front of him. The whiteness of the snow reflected in Roryís eyes, making them sparkle like sapphires. Her cheeks, normally rosy, were even more so due to the icy air and the pure exuberance of her spirit. He had never met anyone like Rory Gilmore. She had such a passion for life that was unrivaled, especially by his so called friends from Chilton. Every new thing Tristan learned about her was like discovering a buried treasure. It mystified Tristan that Rory didnít even seem to be aware of her own beauty. It simply radiated from her. Right now, Tristan was looking at the most beautiful creature he had ever seen.


Rory reached down and scooped up a handful of snow. She shaped the snow into a ball, and turned to aim at her friend. When she looked up in mid throw, Tristan was sure that she had spotted him, but her eyes were focused in the opposite direction. He followed the line of her gaze, and what he saw made his hand clench involuntarily into a fist. It was her ex-boyfriend, Dean, and he wasnít alone. The idiot had his arms around a blond girl, kissing her hungrily in front of everyone. How can he be so disrespectful of Rory? Tristan shot a glance back over at Rory, preparing himself to see her crestfallen face. Instead, a smile had resumed its place on her face, and she was once again laughing at her mother. Tristan couldnít stop the grin that formed on his face. So she has gotten over Dean. Then maybe... Stop kidding yourself, Dugray. No matter how much you want her, sheíll never return your feelings, Tristan thought wearily.


*****


"Okay, okay! Time out!," Lane called to Rory and Lorelai, who were converging on her armed with two snowballs in each hand. "Iím going to go get some hot chocolate. You guys want any?"


Rory nodded, out of breath from the impromptu snowball fight. She sat down on the sled and waited while her mom went with Lane to Lukeís stand. Surveying the people around her, she noticed a young man sitting on a bench a little ways away, and he appeared to be looking in her direction. He looked familiar, so Rory squinted to get a closer view of his face. The guy had his coat collar pulled around his chin to ward off the chill, but she knew exactly who he was. The guy who had once annoyed her to no end, had shown her a completely different side over the past month.


Tristan.


A few months ago, if anyone had told her that she and Tristan would be friends, Rory would have told them to visit a psychiatrist. But that was exactly what they had become. He really was a nice guy once he let down the cocky act that he often put on. As her gaze locked with Tristanís, Rory was flustered to feel a blush spreading up her neck to her face. A smile curled at the corners of Tristanís lips, and Rory watched as he lifted his tall frame off the bench and started to make his way toward her.


Rory jumped when a hand grabbed hold of her arm. "Rory, will you come help me get fresh doughnuts and coffee from the inn? Lukeís run out and your mom is threatening to use his head on her snowman, complete with a corncob pipe," Lane explained impatiently.


Rory let her friend pull her to her feet. "Sure. We canít let her turn Luke into Frosty." Sending one last look in Tristanís direction, she turned and followed Lane up to the inn. The sooner I get my mind on something else, the better.


*****


Miss Patty sauntered carefully across the snow covered ground, her feet sliding on the ice. She eyed Luke lustily as she made her way over to his table. When she reached it, she propped her elbows on the wood surface, pushing her chest forward. When Miss Patty cleared her throat, Luke slowly looked up from the mugs he was filling with hot coffee.


"What can I get you Patty?" Luke opened one of the boxes of doughnuts that Rory and Lane had brought out for him and began arranging the pastries on a tray.


Miss Patty chuckled. "Wouldnít you like to know," she said in what she hoped was a sultry voice.


When Luke continued to place doughnuts on the tray, unfazed, she grabbed a mug of coffee and walked away, swinging her hips. As Miss Patty passed by a bench, she noticed it was occupied by a young man looking forlorn. Oh my. What a tasty morsel you are.


Tristan was lost in thought when he felt someone squeeze onto the bench beside of him. He looked up to see a woman staring at him like he was on sale at the meat market. Uneasy, he moved over a little on the bench.


"Hello there. Iím Patty, and who might you be?"


"Um...Tristan," he replied.


"Tristan." Patty let his name roll over her tongue. "I donít believe Iíve seen you around here before."


"Iím from Hartford." Tristan wondered why he was telling her this, but Patty didnít seem quite like the stalker type.


"Oooh. Why donít I take this opportunity to show you around Stars Hollow." She winked at him. "Iím a dance instructor. Would you like to see my studio?" Tristan raised his eyebrows as she began rubbing her hand slowly over his thigh.


"Iím sixteen."


"Isnít that nice? We could..." Miss Patty stopped suddenly when Tristanís words sank in. "Youíre sixteen." She forced a laugh, trying unsuccessfully to disguise her embarrassment.


Tristan watched her in amusement while she patted his knee and muttered something unintelligible. Patty stood up quickly and maneuvered her way through the people sledding. The laughter Tristan had been trying to hold in finally escaped.


*****


Rory stepped back from where she had been watching the exchange between Tristan and Miss Patty with interest. The nervous look on Tristanís face had been priceless. The carefree laughter spilling from him now testified to the fact that this was not the same Tristan she had encountered on that fateful first day at Chilton. He truly had changed. She found herself captivated.


Tristanís laughter died in his throat when he saw Rory staring at him intently. Before he could call out to her, she turned around quickly and hurried away. What was that about?, Tristan wondered.


As Rory headed back to her mom and Lane, she tried to put Tristan out of her mind. For some reason, she knew that was going to be easier said than done.


*****


Lorelai dragged herself and the sled up the hill. When she reached Rory and Lane, she fell onto the bench, exhausted. "I think Iíve frozen my giblets."


"Giblets? Isnít that like a body part on a chicken?" Lane wrinkled her nose.


Lorelai sat up from her slumped position excitedly. "On Sesame Street, when Big Bird comes in from being outside in the cold, he says that he froze his giblets."


Rory nodded. "Thatís the one when they try to determine how Santa Claus gets down the chimney. Very scientific. I watched it all the time when I was little."


Lorelai grinned. " I still do."


"There is such a thing as too much TV, you know." Lane raised an eyebrow.


Lorelai patted Lane on her head. "Not in my world. Big Bird is my role model and I want to marry Elmo," she whispered.


"A little young for you, donít you think?"


"So? All he does is giggle, and heís adorable. Who wouldnít want a man like that?"


Lane stood up and pulled on Rory and Lorelaiís arms. "Itís official. The snow is affecting your brains."


Lorelai checked her watch and sighed. "Time flies when youíre having fun. You girls ready to go?"


Lane agreed and went to get one of the sleds. Lorelai turned to Rory and put her arm around her daughterís shoulders. "What do you say we go up to the inn and annoy Sookie until she makes us chocolate cake with fudge frosting?"


"You two go ahead. I want to stay out here for a little while."


"Are you okay sweetie?" Lorelai studied Roryís face carefully, seeing that something seemed to be bothering her.


Rory hugged her mom tightly. "Iím fine," she said, trying to reassure Lorelai.


"Well, all right," Lorelai replied, still skeptical. "Weíll wait for you up at the inn. Donít stay out here too long though. It looks like itís going to start snowing again." She glanced up at the threatening, gray clouds overhead.


After Rory promised that she would leave in a few minutes, Lane and Lorelai headed up to the inn. Rory took a deep breath and sat down on the bench, stretching out her tired muscles. Almost all of the sledders had either gone home or up to the inn to rest in front of a crackling fire. The thought of warmth appealed to Rory at that moment, but there was something almost peaceful about sitting at the top of the hill, surrounded by silence.


Rory turned her head quickly when she saw the flash of movement from the corner of her eye. A few feet away, a rabbit, as white as the snow, sat watching her quietly. It scampered away as the last group of sledders passed by on the way to their cars. She looked up in surprise when a tall shadow fell over her.


"Rory."


Rory stuffed her hands further into her pockets as she watched Dean scuff his boots in the snow. "Hey," she replied, hesitating. This was the first time that he had attempted to start a conversation with her since they had broken up.


Dean ran a hand through his brown hair. "Look, I just want to let you know Iím sorry for what I said that night. I should have understood where you were coming from, and I apologize for that."


"Itís all right. We canít go back and change it now. Thereís no need for you to apologize."


Dean looked around nervously. "Yeah...well..."


Rory smiled up at him. "You were a great boyfriend Dean. What happened doesnít change that."


"I cared about you Rory. I still do. I hope we can be friends. You know...hang out sometimes."


"Iíd like that." Rory gestured towards the blonde girl waiting for Dean a few feet away. "Besides, I think she wants to spend time with you right now."


"Yeah." Dean grinned sheepishly. "I better go."


Rory waved as Dean walked over to the girl and put his arm around her while they headed toward his car. She was glad that he seemed to be happy now, and that they may eventually manage to be friends. Rory knew that she would always care about Dean, just not in the way that she had before. When she had finally let herself cry for him, at first she didnít know how she would ever get over the breakup, but then it just got easier. Though she would never forget the good times they had together, the pain had definitely eased. Rory thought back to the night when the tears she had held back finally fell. The night Tristan... She put her fingers to her lips, remembering his gentle touch. She was bewildered when she felt a shiver run through her as she recalled the way he had seemed to see deep into her soul that night when he had looked at her. What am I doing? She ran a hand over her forehead, sighing. The beautiful surroundings had finally taken their toll on her, and she had gotten caught up in them. Rory reached down with her gloved hand, grabbed a handful of snow, and let it fall slowly through her fingers. When did things ever seem this complicated?


"Hey Rory."


Slowly, Rory turned around. She knew who had spoken before she even raised her eyes to his.


Tristan.

continues