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Chapter 18 : Interlude IV
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Christmas had always been Nadia's favourite time of year, Katerina remembered. It did not matter what was going on with their family, they always came together at Christmas to try and make the baby of the family happy. The memory of them all sitting around the large stone fireplace exchanging presents was a world away from where Katerina now found herself, sitting new to a small fire at the edge of her cave, wrapped up as tightly as she could possibly be in her furs, as she watched the snow wall steadily outside on a cold Christmas Eve.
She rubbed her hands together to try and restore some feeling in them. This winter was the coldest in a long time and it reminded her of the Siberian winters of her childhood, of sleigh rides with her father, of snow fights with Ivan and Tatiana and of snuggling up with Nadia to listen to one of Grandmama's tales about knights, magicians, dragons and giants. That was before everything went wrong, before she had lost everything including her family. As the fire died, she looked down at her battered old watch, one of the only useful things Ivan had given to her and noted that it looked like she was going to spend her seventh successive Christmas alone.
She was looking up at the night's sky when she caught sight of a strange figure in the distance, silhouetted against the almost full moon. Katerina stood up as it approached her, flying straight towards her cave. The she jumped back to avoid the large hippogriff which had just landed on the outskirts of her cave.
'Sirius' she whispered in disbelief as she watched the black haired man slide off the hippogriff's back. She had not seen or heard from him in months and now she could not actually believe he was here.
'Rina' Sirius replied, patting Buckbeak's side before following the puzzled witch back into the cave which she called home.
'But Sirius, what are you doing here?' Katerina asked once they had got Buckbeak settled and had restarted the fire.
'Nobody should spend Christmas by themselves' he replied, reaching out to find her hand and giving it a small squeeze.
'How's Harry?' she asked as they sat side by side watching the fire shoot sparks into the cold winter air, both of they now wrapped up in Katerina's firs.
'He's ok' Sirius replied, as he took a small sip of the hot drink Katerina had made him,' Hopefully he's going to enjoy himself at the Yule Ball tonight'
'He's going to a ball?'
'Well, that's if he's actually plucked up the courage to ask someone to the ball'
'Is it part of the Triwizard Tournament?'
'Yes and according to the last letter I received from him, it's easier to escape from a dragon than ask as girl out'
'A dragon!' Rina exclaimed laughing. 'How would he know what it was like to face a dragon?'
Sirius then had to explain to Katerina about his Godson's first task.
'But that is horrible' she remarked, after hearing what they had to go through.
'I was going to suggest that he used a Conjunctivitis Curse aimed at the dragon's eye but he came up with a more imaginative way, flying around on his broomstick, which was covered by his invisibility cloak.
'So it's good that you are now near him, giving him support'
'I'm living in cave near the castle, though it's not as nice as yours mind you, but he doesn't know that I've come back to Britain and I don't want to worry him.
'So he's going to a ball?'
'I remember going to balls' Katerina remarked. 'The nice itchy dresses, the dancing, music and handsome gentlemen-'
'-spiking the punch bowl, initiating a food fight with your best friends, curing your cousins and vanishing the minister for magic's robes' Sirius interjected.
Katerina laughed loudly, her violet eyes dancing in the firelight, trying not to spill her drink. 'Your balls sound more interesting than mine' she stated. 'Mine were normally old stuffy affairs, where mother had laced me tightly into by best dress, so tight that I could not breath, just so I could be paraded in front of potential suitors.'
'Well, there was this one ball, the last ball I went to, which was actually rather fun' Katerina replied in response to Sirius' sarcastic remark.
'It was the annual Minister's Ball, held on his estate just outside Moscow and I was 17. I don't remember it much apart from annoying my older brother by dancing with one of his old enemies from school, having far too much to drink and laughing and Larissa Romanova who had been cornered by Maxi the Slob under the magical mistletoe'
The pair sat in silence for a while remembering past balls, the only sounds filling the cave being the crackle of the fire, Buckbeak's snores and the quiet patter of the snow falling outside.
'Would you care to dance?' Sirius asked finally, standing up and holding his hand out to Rina.
'Yeah, why not?'
'But I haven't danced in years!' Katerina exclaimed
'Well that makes two of us' Sirius replied helping Katerina to her feet. 'I think a waltz should suffice' he stated as he pulled the blonde witch into a ballroom hold and started humming something under his breath.
Katerina closed her eyes and allowed Sirius to lead her in a slow dance around the cave. He spun her around before holding her close, her head now pressed against his chest and his arms now wrapped tightly around her and they swayed back and forth to the imaginary orchestra.
In that moment Katerina was transported to a different place, were there was just her and Sirius and whatever was going on between then did not matter, just the sounds of their two hearts beating in time with one another. Sirius did not have the threat of the British Ministry chasing after him and she did not have her father and his quest for her crystal.
'Merry Christmas' Sirius whispered placing a tender kiss to the top of Katerina's forehead
'Merry Christmas to you too' she replied looking up before taking a deep breath and standing on her tip toes, giving a surprised Sirius a Christmas kiss on the lips.
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