It was an awkward sort of communion, the kind of thing that was easy to fall into once the summer warmth and autumn breeze of schooldays faded.

She shifted in the bed, wriggling down further beneath the covers and watching the snow as it fell outside the frosted windows. She had always liked winter; the chill in the air and the silvery gloss of crumple-horned snorkacks in their winter coats.

To her right, Fleur shifted silently in her sleep, her hair almost the colour of the falling snow outside the window. On the other side of her, Fleur's younger sister whimpered as if in sympathy with her sister's movement.

Luna couldn't help but take a silent pleasure in being between them, her presence both a break in the mutual bond the sisters felt and an enhancement of it.

Three months had passed since Gabrielle's sixteenth birthday; three months of autumn leaves fading to winter snow and sunlight fading behind the branches of dead trees.

Their relocation to the cottage in Kent, a quaint topsy-turvy little house with apple trees in the orchard, had been Gabrielle's idea. The cottage's previous owner had insisted from behind his half-moon spectacles and gilded frame, that he would have no need for the house at least for another six years or so.

So they had settled down into the comforts of the cottage and, as time passed, each one of them slowly began to realise just how important the life they had chosen really was.