..figures dancing gracefully..

Ariana drew her knees up to her chin, reveling in the comforting feeling of the warmth the surrounded her. Though it didn't become truly cold in Godric's Hollow until the wintertime, at night the wind that whipped through the house made it terribly chilly, and she was thankful that Al had seen fit to start a fire in the grate before he had left- actually, Ariana felt a little sad that he had gone. Al had gone on a trip to the theater with Gellert, which sounded like a very fun place to go, and she wished that she could too.

She stared into the flickering fire, observing the strange patterns it made on the wall opposite. Abe had been more angry than jealous when he found out, and Ariana decided that she had learned a lot of new words from listening to his rant after Al had left. Luckily, he wasn't hovering over her shoulder as she lounged on the settee, making sure was all right. She felt guilty thinking this, but she did prefer her time alone, after all. Abe had gone out nearly three quarters of an hour ago to tend the goats, and before he had left he had told her what the clock on the pale blue sitting room wall would look like when it was time for Al and Gellert to be home. The short hand on the ten, the long hand on the six. Short ten, long six, short ten, long six...

The long hand was on the five. It was almost time for them to come home. Ariana stirred her milky hot chocolate absently with her finger, taking special care not to drip any onto the pages of the book she was reading. It was her ancient copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and although she could do nothing but look at the lavishly illustrated pages, she wasn't about to ruin it. She contemplated asking Gellert to read her a story from it when he and Al returned home; she loved Gellert's voice. He had an odd accent, yet it was still understandable. Ariana sighed as she thought about it. She would ask him to read Rabbity Babbity and Her Talking Stump. That story had lots of singing and rhyming, which she did love, and Gellert always had her sing with him. It would be wonderful.

Ariana looked up suddenly as the crack of Apparition rang through the house, followed by raucous laughter. She scrabbled up on the settee just as Al and Gellert entered through the sitting room door, talking animatedly and brushing back their windswept hair. Gellert's blond curls fell over his eye, and she felt the urge to brush them back.

"Hi," she piped up, drawing their attention to her. Al looked surprised.

"What are you still doing up?" he asked her, his eyes narrowing. She shrank back slightly, sliding her arms over her knees. "And why in the he- why in the world are you wearing my trousers? And my jumper?"

"Cold," she answered simply, crawling to the other side of the settee. Al rolled his eyes, and Gellert laughed slightly. Ariana felt reassured; she had been worried that Al would be terribly angry at her for taking his clothes, which she did every so often. She liked the feel of his trousers, which hung loose on her hips, and his midnight blue jumper that was much too big for her tiny frame. They were comfortable during these windy nights, much more so than her thin cotton nightgowns and scratchy dresses.

"I'm going to go to bed," Al announced, grinning at Gellert. "Thanks for a wonderful time. Are you going back to your Aunt's?"

"Not quite yet," Gellert responded with his quaint German accent. "I haven't given liebling her gift." Ariana perked up at the mention of her pet name in his native language- Al had said once that it meant darling, and it always pleased her that she was Gellert's darling. He smiled at her, and she stretched out her legs, sore from being bent for such a long time.

Al sighed. "All right. But please don't keep her up too late?"

"I won't," Gellert assured him, pressing a hand to Al's shoulders to make him go towards the stairs. "Now, gehen sie!"

"Go!" Ariana substituted, proud to have learnt this word in German. Al looked as though he wanted to argue, but Gellert shook his head and pushed Al's back once more. Grudgingly, Al finally went up the stairs to his bedroom.

Ariana was delighted when Gellert came to sit on the settee with her. He was on the opposite side, however, and several feet away. She wilted at this until he patted the space beside him and said, "Come, liebling. I have a gift for you." Ariana obediently slid next to him, pressing her trouser-glad knee onto his and resting her chin on his shoulder.

"Would you like to see your gift?" he asked her amusedly. She nodded, inhaling the scent of peaches mixed with rain that she had come to associate with Gellert. He reached inside his pocket and carefully withdrew a small box, only slightly bigger than the one's that Papa had given Mama her rings in.

Ariana stared at it, curious and touched that Gellert had gotten her a gift.

"Hold open your hand," he ordered gently. She did so, and he pressed the box into it. She looked up at him questioningly.

"Open?" He laughed and nodded.

"Please do." Eager to find out what the box contained, Ariana slid her fingers under the opening and pulled. Her fingers tended to fumble, but she held them steady as she slowly peeled back the top. What was inside was still concealed by a bit of tissue paper, and she gave an irritated huff. Gellert laughed.

"Just under that, Ariana," he promised her. She liked the way he said her name, and played it over in her mind as she plucked off the tissue paper.

"Oh," she breathed, pulling out the tiny contraption and placing it softly onto the palm of her hand. "Oh." She raised it up to her eye level, conscious of Gellert watching her every move. The small device shimmered and sparkled from enchanted lights, and stood neatly on four tiny claw legs. It was shaped, she decided, like a dome that she had seen in one of Al's Muggle books, though this was infinitily more pleasurable to look at. Down the sides ran miniscule beads of pearls, dropped on the blue satin background like the raindrops she could now hear pounding outside the window. The legs it stood on where golden in colour and shined in the firelight.

"You like?" Gellert asked her. She looked up at him, a wonderful smile spreading over her face.

"Beautiful," she murmured, her eyes once again finding the object stationed in her hand. Gellert gently pried it from her fingers, and for a moment she worried he was going to take it back, until he placed it in his own hand and said, "Let me show you how it works."

He reached again into his pocket and withdrew a silver coin, smaller even than the Knuts that Al used to buy their food with. It was about the size of her thumbnail, and engraved with gorgeous entwining designs. Ariana's breath caught just looking at it.

Gellert caught her amazement and winked at her; Ariana flushed.

"Look," he muttered, twisting her gift around. On the back was a slot that Ariana hadn't noticed, and, under her watching eyes, he inserted the coin into the slot. "Listen."

The dome parted halfway, making Ariana take notice that it was divided into two parts. Inside there was a tiny platform that raised itself up, and she watched, breathless, as tinkling music began to pour out. There was a small figure of a woman stationed in the platform, and she spun around, guided by the music. Upon peering up close at it, Ariana could see that the woman figurine was made of clear glass, and that in her hand she held a lovely looking glass rose that was no larger that a snippet of one of her hair ribbons. Tentatively, Ariana reached out and pressed a finger to it. Gellert smiled encouragingly and she found that the glass was smooth and cool under her fingertip.

Suddenly, the soothing music came to a stop. Very slowly, the platform lowered, and the figurine disappeared beneath the top of the dome. With wide eyes, Ariana looked up at Gellert.

"You like?" he asked again. In response, she smiled, so widely that she thought her face might break, and threw her arms around him. Her face was buried in his chest, and she found that she liked that position, curled up beside him on the settee. He was much warmer than Al's trousers and jumper. Ariana began to feel vaguely uncomfortable about the fact that she wore nothing underneath the jumper that was pressed so close to Gellert. Nervously, she looked up at him, and was surprised that his face was so near hers.

"I'm glad you enjoy your present, liebling," he said to her. Darling, Ariana thought happily, Gellert's darling.

"What are you doing?"

Ariana jumped instinctively at the loud voice. She whimpered softly, refusing to believe it was only Abe, and compromised by pushing herself deeper into Gellert's embrace. She heard his voice speak calmly to her brother. "I have given her present. You wish to see it?"

"Not particularly," Abe snapped. "Ariana, you should have been in bed hours ago. Come along."

Even though she longed to stay where she was, Ariana complied miserabley, recognizing the tone in Abe's voice. She blushed to find that Al's jumped had ridden up over her stomach, and pulled it back down hurriedly before following Abe's retreating form up the stairs, clutching in her hand Gellert's gift.