Fiona Weaver

Well It's a Marvelous Night for a Moondance

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Full Moon, Night One: June

Mooncalf Dancing Observation

w/ special guest appearance by Vladimir Valentin (many thanks <3)

 

They hadn't even been apart for a full week, but Fiona missed Vladimir fiercely. She'd always known that summer was going to be difficult, but you didn't realize how much you saw your friends at Hogwarts until the holidays started. Every class, every weekend, a sizable portion of her free time, all spent with her love. Now they faced an entire summer almost entirely apart except by two-way mirror. 

 

Could Fiona be blamed for wanting this evening to be perfect? 

 

Well, as perfect as sitting in a cow pasture in the middle of the night got, anyway. 

 

Having done this several times last summer, Fiona had preparation for full moon nights down to an art form--blanket, journal, flashlight, snacks for humans and mooncalves alike, thermos of tea (two, in this case). She wore all these in a backpack over her farm attire--jeans and boots, t-shirt and light jacket. You never wore anything to the farm that you weren't willing to get dirty in the worst possible ways. Now there was just one thing missing...one person.

 

The girl waited eagerly by the pasture gate, watching for that first sight of Vladimir. 

 

192. not counting header

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Vladimir had not quite realized just how potent time away from Fiona would be until it was actually upon them for the summer months. True, they had their plans, the two-way mirrors, they would visit once he was back from Russia and Romania. The boy had read about such concepts in various pieces of literature, but to experience it for oneself, well... it was rather sobering.

 

But, now, they had a plan, and as the full moon fell right before he and his family would join the others in Moscow, Vladimir would join Fiona as she attended to her own internship.

 

The mooncalves had been fascinating enough as it were when he had seen them in third year. He supposed now was as good a time as any to learn more about them, a bonus that he would be with Fiona to do as such. The company was sure to be lovely.

 

His father had apparated him to the locale in question, Vladimir dressed appropriately in a pair of black jeans and a warm cotton shirt, a sweater in his bag in case the night winds howled and warmth was something of a necessity. They were all articles of clothing that he would not hesitate to get dirty in any way, shape, or form, which was likely to be quite a good thing when faced with herd animals.

 

Upon arrival, Vladimir glanced for the pasture gate, and when he saw that Fiona was already there and waiting, he allowed a half-smile to cross his face. "Bună seara, Fiona," he greeted her, his tone lilting enough to let her know that he was so very happy to see her.

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She could recognize him from a distance, just by the way he moved. The posture, the silhouette, she knew them immediately.

 

“Vladimir,” she breathed, and moved forward the last few steps to meet him with a quick hug. Nothing offensive to the public face of their relationship, she hoped, but she'd missed him so much. How was she going to manage a whole summer?

 

Bună seara, love,” she replied. This was one of her easier Romanian phrases, and she spoke it without difficulty. Fiona stepped back and opened the pasture gate for them, moving towards a nearby hilltop overlooking the spot where the herd usually danced.

 

“Err, watch your step,” she warned apologetically. “This isn't the most glamorous of internships. Most valuable poo you'll ever step in, though, should you happen to. They'll probably start dancing before long, usually I just set up camp over here.”

 

Once they'd reached the hilltop, Fiona made sure the grass was clear then threw out the blanket.

 

“Mint,” she announced, producing the first thermos. “Honey lemon,” she smiled as she produced the second. Or wait, which was which? “Err, or is it honey lemon and mint? We'll figure it out.”

 

Next out was the tupperware container. “Shortbread! Aaaaand the part of this date where I actually have to do some work.” She hefted the observation journal. “You shouldn't have to lift a finger, though, promise.” Fiona sat down cross-legged and patted the blanket beside her in invitation for him to join her. “How'd I do?”

 

255

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Vladimir was in the least surprised when Fiona moved to meet him halfway, enveloping him in a quick hug. His own arms went around her, returning the hug, the half-smile back upon his face when he heard her reiterate the Romanian greeting. It always did please him so to hear her speak his native tongue, after all.

 

As she stepped back, Vladimir followed her, looking down at the ground when she warned him to watch where he stepped. Ah yes, the threat of stepping in manure had not escaped Vladimir's attention to detail where his apparel was concerned, and the boy had worn a pair of older boots in preparation for such a potential occurrence. "I shall endeavour to watch my step," Vladimir assured Fiona quietly, all the while watching her.

 

He certainly had missed her in the few days they had not seen each other since disembarking the Hogwarts Express.

 

When she finished leading him to her usual spot, Vladimir assisted with the blanket, watching as she produced a thermos, then another, with tea. The slight confusion as to which thermos contained which tea brought the smile back to his face slightly. Not as full as it could get when they were well and truly alone, but it was enough for the public face. As she took a seat upon the blanket and asked how she had done, Vladimir said nothing, instead taking his place next to her.

 

"You have done more than anything I could have asked for, draga mea," he informed her, and upon glancing around at the field, Vladimir was comfortable enough to lean in slightly and press a kiss upon her cheek.

 

"For how long do the mooncalves dance?" Vladimir inquired, curiously eyeing the fields for when the creatures would do as such.

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Fiona was unscrewing the lid of one of her thermoses of tea, and held it briefly beneath her nose. The scent of the steam was unmistakably mint, which answered the question of whose tea was whose. She was momentarily and pleasantly distracted from the task by Vladimir’s kiss on her cheek, and Fiona smiled. Tea not important right now. It would sort itself out—they had plenty of time. For now, she had Vladimir in person for the last time until she visited him later in the summer. Fiona meant to enjoy that. The girl rested a hand fondly on Vladimir’s knee as she answered his mooncalf question.

 

“Oh, twenty minutes to half an hour at a time,” she estimated. “There’s a little bit of variation. They can’t stay up on their hind legs for very long at a time, so they sort of dance for a while, then graze a while, then dance a while, in cycles. A lot about mooncalves has to do with cycles.”

 

Halt. Do not nerd out about cows all over the place. Fiona stopped herself before she could launch into a full-blown monologue of mooncalf trivia. With fortuitous timing, Silver lifted his head and fixed his globelike eyes on the rising full moon. Then he rose up onto his hind feet. The rest of the herd followed—in ones and twos at first, and then all the rest of the mooncalves almost simultaneously.

 

Mooncalf dancing involved lots of circles—each individual cow turning in circles, but also the entire herd circling in larger formations, wheels within wheels. If you looked at an individual cow they looked a little silly, but if you looked at the whole herd, there was a strange geometrical beauty to it. As the first dancing session of the evening got going, Fiona watched them and grinned. It never got old.

 

310

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It had not escaped Vladimir's notice at all that Fiona placed her hand upon his knee. It immediately brought up memories of a year prior, the first time she had done such a thing, under very different circumstances. Where then Vladimir had been distraught, caught off guard by the gesture and the sentiment behind it, now he welcomed it without question. He let a small half-smile come to his face momentarily before it fell to something more to his norm, but his hand went and covered hers for the moment.

 

Much like when she had put her hand under his to stop him from digging his nails into his knees. Now, however, it was with fondness and a much different purpose.

 

He listened to her explanation of the mooncalves and their dancing, doing his best to retain every bit of information she provided him. Before he was even able to ask about the cycles, let alone muse to himself with fondness over the gusto with which Fiona spoke, her eyes fixated on the mooncalves, and his own followed. There before his eyes the creatures began to rise onto their hind legs and begin their dance.

 

It was perhaps oddly hypnotic, watching their dance, each mooncalf moving in circles, and then the herd at large circulating around. To Vladimir's eyes, it almost appeared as though it was a waltz. Around and around in a never ending circle, a beginning without end. On impulse, Vladimir's mind conjured up a familiar waltz, his finger tapping one, two, three upon Fiona's hand on his knee. He hummed the waltz quietly, not even realizing what he was doing, as fixated upon the dancing creatures as he was.

 

Most fascinating indeed.

 

"Marvelous," he said after a few more moments, only then realizing what he had been doing to her hand. Ah... Vladimir stopped the motion, but offered Fiona a smile. "I trust they are quite receptive to humans?"

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Fiona kept her hand on Vladimir’s knee while watching the dancing with a smile. Nowadays she found it easier to watch the herd, remember the necessary details for note-taking, then write everything down afterward. Less juggling with the flashlight and ruining of her night-vision that way. She managed not to narrate the entire process, enjoying a companionable silence.

 

At the first tap on her hand, Fiona thought Vladimir had been trying to get her attention. She opened her mouth ask what he needed when Fiona realized he was humming something. Finally she was able to discern a regularity to the tapping of his finger against her hand, one that clearly fit with the music. Ah. She understood that well enough. Fiona turned back to the herd, deciding to say nothing to Vladimir about his musical accompaniment to the mooncalves. If she drew his attention to it, she was afraid he might stop.

 

After a while, Vladimir became conscious of the tapping himself and his hand went still. Fiona had been taken into the rhythm, but now glanced over and found Vladimir smiling at her. The girl returned the expression, and was nodding as soon as his question was done.

 

“Oh yeah, they love people. They’re just classified double-x, same as puffskeins. Here, let me just jot some notes really quick and then...”

 

Fiona trailed off, momentarily juggled her flashlight with her journal, and took down her observations. Then, determined to give Vladimir the full mooncalf experience, Fio got to her feet. The mooncalves had decided that was enough dancing for now and dropped back to four legs. Fiona started confidently down the hill, hand in Vladimir’s, and gave a whistle. Dozens of huge round eyes turned immediately to the source of the noise, and Fiona and the mooncalves surged forward to meet each other.

 

Within seconds, the two teenagers were surrounded. Fio could have reached out and touched seven different mooncalves without even taking a step. Adoring croons greeted Fiona from every side, and she crooned back in a human facsimile. They butted at her legs and hips with their heads, hoping to find treats in her pockets. They would not be disappointed.

 

One adolescent nearly tackled Fiona with the force of its greeting. Fiona laughed and scratched behind the mooncalf’s lazy right ear. “This is Dot,” the girl explained, and pulled a treat from her pocket. Every mooncalf in the vicinity began to bounce and croon with excitement as the food appeared. “I was there when Dot was born last year, a lot of last year’s babies particularly like me.” She offered a half-handful of treats wordlessly to Vladimir.

 

440 I'm so sorry.

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He merely nodded his head, patiently waiting as Fiona went about her note taking. This was, after all, her internship, and the last thing Vladimir wished to do was disrupt her in any way, shape, or form from the task at hand. His eyes drifted from the girl and her note taking to the mooncalves, the creatures interesting in their own way. He was certain that the twins would have loved them. The girls always loved creatures of any kind, be they magical or mundane.

 

Before his thoughts could travel any further down that path, he caught movement beside him and looked up to see Fiona standing. Quick to his feet, Vladimir was soon hand in hand with the girl, being led down the grassy hill towards the mooncalves. The whistle Fiona gave was more than enough to get their attention, and Vladimir could only watch in silence as he and Fiona were soon surrounded by them. What was clear to Vladimir was that they adored Fiona.

 

Their sounds were those of contentment, the creatures making contact with Fiona's legs and hips, seeking her attention. Vladimir in the meantime stood still, merely observing the happenings, appreciating the confidence with which Fiona worked with the mooncalves. Her croons matching theirs. Showing them affection when they sought for her attention.

 

"They adore you, Fiona," Vladimir remarked quietly as he watched her remove some treats from her pockets, in the midst of being greeted by one seemingly excited mooncalf. When she explained the story behind that particular one, Dot, it began to make sense. A half-smile appeared on his face as he took some of the treats from her. "I can see now why they love you so much, draga mea," he told her. Vladimir took a treat and held it out in his palm for Dot to take, but another mooncalf beat the adolescent to it.

 

"There, there," Vladimir said to the creature, watching as its huge eyes turned to look at his. This time the young man made sure that Dot received the treat. He then attempted to pet the mooncalf on its head, between the ears. "They are gentle, clearly. How often do they partake in dancing on these full moon evenings?" He was interested in being hypnotized once again by their circular dancing patterns, ever reminiscent of the waltz, to his mind at least.

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Earlier in the school year, Fiona had watched Vladimir interact with a unicorn foal and been overtaken by a wave of affection. When she looked up from the bouncing happy mooncalves to see that Vladimir was giving a treat to Dot and petting her, the exact same sensation swept her. It was something in his gentleness working with the young animals, she thought, the way that his actions belied his sensitivity even when his wall was up.

 

She didn’t have much time to think about it, as the mooncalves ahead of her parted to make a path for Silver. That coat, three shades lighter than standard, was difficult to miss. Fiona stroked the big leader cow’s neck gently and offered him the last of her treats.

 

Vladimir wasn’t wrong, the mooncalves were heaping on the affection tonight. “They know me,” Fiona reasoned. “In the wild, you’d never get this close, but our herd is used to humans.” She laughed ironically, turning gently on the spot to see that they were still completely surrounded.

 

“They dance any night the moon is full, as long as they can see it,” she explained. She continued to scratch ears and shoulders indiscriminately. “So if it’s raining, they won’t go out, or if it’s really overcast. How many dances per night is a little harder to predict. It sort of depends on Silver”

 

The big male, recognizing his name, lifted his head and butted it into Fiona’s chest.

 

Silver is the leader cow,” the girl explained, indicating the mooncalf. “It’s not quite like he’s in charge, more like he’s the bravest. The first to do things. And once he does it, the rest of the herd will too. First out of the burrow, first to move to a new grazing spot, and he’s almost always first to dance.”

 

Silver, who had already been on his hind feet to try to gnaw at Fiona’s hair, seemed almost to recognize the word as Fiona spoke it. Fiona was looking right at him as he turned his focus from the humans to the moon, and she knew instantaneously what was about to happen.

 

Vladimir,” she spoke levelly, seriously. The whole herd was looking at the moon now, and a few more had already risen to their hind feet. “Stay very still.”

 

Within ten seconds, the herd was rearranging itself. Within sixty, Vladimir and Fiona were alone at the hub of a wheel of dancing mooncalves. Fiona’s jaw was slack and she turned on the spot in an unconscious mirroring of the dance, watching the ballet going on around her.

 

This...has never happened to me before...” she muttered, awestruck.

 

440 again.

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Vladimir watched as the large male mooncalf appeared, but yet they still remained surrounded by the mooncalves. Her statement regarding this herd being used to humans was no small understatement to be sure. A half-smile came to his face briefly at that. "That they are," he replied verbally, his attention fixated now on the leader of the herd, Silver, as Fiona had called him. "But you also have a way with them that I am sure they understand... It adds to their affection of you." And of his affection of her, he readily admitted to himself.

 

Watching the creature butt his head against Fiona's chest, Vladimir listened carefully as she explained why he was the leader of the herd. He supposed it made sense. Much like the thestral herd, there was the bravest of the lot, the one who did everything first, the others following suit. Watching Fiona with Silver, the boy remained silent as the creature turned from looking at them to the full moon above their heads.

 

Blinking, he merely nodded when Fiona told him to be still - her tone was enough to keep him frozen in place. This was serious, of course, and Fiona was in her element. He would trust her judgement and her words.

 

Admittedly, he was not entirely expecting the rest of the herd to follow Silver's lead and begin to dance around them.

 

Looking at Fiona, it was clear that she had not been expecting this either, and soon they were still trapped in the middle of the herd, watching the display happening around them. Vladimir's ears picked up the tone Fiona spoke with, and looking at her, she was turning on the spot, mirroring the creatures as they danced upon their hind legs. Vladimir allowed himself to be hypnotized by the happenings around him, watching as they went around and around, the waltz once again.

 

An idea came to his head, unbidden, but it was there, and looking at Fiona, he decided it would not hurt. He would stop if she told him to after all.

 

"May I?" Vladimir at least asked first before he let his hand fall to her elbow, facing her as he guided them to move around and around in a circle, much like the mooncalves around them. "We can be a part of their herd, if unofficially," he remarked quietly with that half-smile on his face, the waltz from earlier playing within his head. And, soon enough, Vladimir began to hum it again as they moved around, and around, and around.

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Fiona was mesmerized by the new perspective on the dancing. She had never been this close to a dancing mooncalf before, let alone a whole herd of them, let alone being at the center of the circle. Fio continued her slow revolutions, trying to take in every detail, until Vladimir spoke. Stopping, Fiona’s eyebrows rose in puzzlement—seeking detail, may you what? But the question was unnecessary. Fiona let Vladimir take the lead, trusting him, following rather than questioning, and suddenly they were dancing right along with the mooncalves.

 

She wished that she knew the song, so she could hum along with him. Dancing together would have to be enough. Fiona had no idea what she was doing, but he clearly did, and it was unexpectedly easy to surrender herself to his guidance. When she stopped worrying about running into a mooncalf, tripping in the dark, stepping on his feet in her farm boots...when she put all those worries down and just danced with him, Fiona felt like a different person. Lighter. Confident. Capable, although certainly he was doing all the work.

 

So taken was Fiona with their moonlit impromptu dance that she didn’t say a word for a few minutes, simply looking into his eyes and smiling. Just like earlier, when she’d been able to discern a clear three-count in his tapping on her knee, Fiona began to sense the pattern.

 

What would it be like, to do this for real? None of her long-held fantasies about waltzing with Vladimir had included cows, the moon, or the threat of stepping in poo. If this moment could feel this perfect, what would it be like as she’d imagined it? Fiona could scarcely fathom it.

 

She had never been intimidated by silence, especially not when it came to Vladimir, but eventually she couldn’t keep a few thoughts back.

 

Te iubesc,” she told him with a smile. “A dansa...cu te...este bun...”*

 

It was a complete massacre of a sentence, she was positive, but she had to try. Unable to even try the next, Fiona switched back to English.

 

I wonder if they think we’re doing it wrong,” she mused with a chuckle. How ridiculous must this human dancing look to a mooncalf? Or perhaps to a mooncalf, maybe the act of dancing was all that mattered. It was certainly all that mattered to Fiona.

 

 

*Literally "to dance with you is good". She's trying for, approximately, "it's nice to dance with you".
Errors of case (wrong pronoun) and verb form (I think?) are intentional on puppeteer's part. Carry on.

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Vladimir was quite glad that Fiona allowed him to lead the way, a smallish waltz if there ever was one. He could not afford to collide into any of the dancing mooncalves after all, and truthfully, his focus was on Fiona at the moment. She kept her eyes on him, and in turn, Vladimir did not look away from her. Mismatched eyes stared into her own, and the smile that Fiona had on her face hit him with the force of a thousand bricks, right in his chest. She let him lead, she showed him that smile. From what Vladimir could see and sense, it made her happy.

 

The force crushed at him a little more. The happiness bubbled within, enough so that the half-smile turned into a full one as they continued to dance amongst the mooncalves.

 

Seeing her happy made him happy, much as he had told her before, on many an occasion.

 

Her words did nothing to disrupt Vladimir's concentration on the dance, ever mindful of keeping in time with Fiona, as well as keeping them out of the way of the dancing creatures surrounding them. "Te iubesc," he replied to her, knowing that the sentence she had attempted to construe together was not grammatically correct. Truthfully at this moment, it did not matter to Vladimir. She was right.

 

It was wonderful to dance with her.

 

"Stiu," was his simple reply to her sentence, still smiling, arms still guiding and leading her around, one, two, three per cycle. The rest of their conversation did little to disrupt the dance either. "I would not know, my dear... But they certainly are enjoying themselves regardless of our own dance," he remarked fondly, the boy clearly enjoying their own actions.

 

He loved to dance, after all, and seeing that Fiona seemed to enjoy it as well... Perhaps it would be something they could do more of in the future, somehow, some way. He could be her guide, a compass, just in another form. His smile grew a little more, head leaning forward just enough to place a kiss upon her forehead, without missing a beat in their step. He was poised, confident, and certainly moving with the flow.

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There could be very little doubt that all parties involved were enjoying themselves.

 

The moonlight was bright enough to let Fiona savor Vladimir’s smile as it waxed full, and her heart did a little stutter-step. He was handsome. More than that, of course, Fiona knew as he guided them unflaggingly through their dance. By now, counting the ways was impossible. He was considerate, and trustworthy, and loyal, and he was good. And for whatever reason, he loved her.

 

She was wearing boots. Her jacket was too big for her. She barely knew what she was doing, where the dancing was concerned. They were surrounded by cows, for heaven’s sake. How could Vladimir make her feel this special, here tonight? Fiona received his kiss on her forehead, a gesture she’d always particularly loved because it called attention to the fact that Vladimir was taller than she was. She smiled up at him, knowing this was all she had to do to tell him so, at least for now. How much could they communicate to each other by now, without a word?

 

Despite a sudden need to kiss him back, run her fingers through his hair, Fiona didn’t stop the rhythm, the endless turning. Wheels within wheels, as around them the mooncalves still stamped down the grass in a great circle. She didn’t trust herself to do as he’d done—to kiss him without tripping over herself. Instead, Fiona freed one of her hands to rest briefly on Vladimir’s chest, where her fingertip sketched an almost imperceptible wunjo. It was an insufficient expression of her happiness and love, but the rune was a waltz-safe alternative.

 

Changing her focus brought Fiona’s attention to the mechanics of the dance, and she began to doubt herself. Quickly, she dropped her arm back to Vladimir’s leading hold. They’d been dancing for several minutes, she wasn’t sure how long exactly, but she was suddenly aware that she was starting to get dizzy.

 

“How do we stop?” she wondered suddenly. Like a little girl learning to ice skate, she had the rhythm of moving down without having worried about the brakes.

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Even after he gave her the kiss upon her forehead, she continued to smile, and truthfully that was enough to keep his smile upon his face. Just her smile alone was enough to tell him that she welcomed it, cherished it, and that was plenty to him. He had not done it to receive anything in return, he had done it because he had wanted to, because this was Fiona. As such, when her hand moved to his chest, he was surprised albeit that did not show on his face.

 

Such things never did, unless the situation was in complete privacy, of which this open field was perhaps not entirely.

 

She was tracing something again, as he had noticed she was want to do. And, in all the times he had noticed, yet again Vladimir did not question it. He accepted the gesture pleasantly, making sure to keep their dance in time to the tune repeating over and over again in his mind. He would not let them falter, taking extra care to make sure Fiona was quite all right. It would not do to let his love fall behind in the rhythm, to let her follow. After all, was not his task in the dance to lead? He had to make sure he accomplished what he set out to do.

 

Her arm returned to his hold, and Vladimir continued to allow the smile the full amount of time on his face, her question reminding him that they, much like the mooncalves, could only go around and around for so long before it was time to stop. Even Vladimir could not keep dancing forever, as much as he loved the activity as a whole.

 

"Allow me to take care of that," Vladimir told her quietly, eventually leading them to a slower and slower movement, their paces covering less and less space until they came to a halt.

 

And yet still Vladimir did not let go of her.

 

"And there we are," he added after a moment of silence, the mooncalves still dancing around them. He gave into another impulse, and leaned down once again to place a kiss on her forehead, this time without the added distraction of keeping them in rhythm. "Considering the mooncalves have not stopped, perhaps they did approve of our human dancing after all."

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As it turned out, stopping was just another question of letting Vladimir take the lead. His movements made it perfectly clear what she was meant to do, even without a word of explanation, and Fiona slowed too before coming to a stop. Their arms were still laced, and the only sound was of the mooncalves, stamping happily away at their dance as they probably would for several more minutes yet.

 

Fiona slowly dropped her arms, re-configuring until she held both of Vladimir’s hands in her own. He kissed her once more on the forehead, and Fio smiled. “No, I think we’re trapped here for a little while,” she agreed, glancing briefly out at the herd. Dot hop-skipped by, so exuberant that she nearly crashed into the mooncalf beside her. Fiona’s attention returned to her own dance partner.

 

Well that wasn’t quite the way I’ve always pictured it,” she admitted sheepishly, and rose up onto her toes to kiss Vladimir’s cheek. “But it was wonderful. You’re obviously very good at that.” The casual compliment sparked all the familiar pathways of self-doubt, and Fiona started to question. “Did I do okay? I wasn’t completely awful, was I? I mean...could we do that again sometime? Would you like to?

 

If anything, this moonlit dance in a pasture had only served to heighten Fiona’s curiosity about waltzing with Vladimir. Now that she had a sense of what it would feel like, how the rhythm went, how freeing that sense of surrender was, the secret daydreams she’d kept for months were already growing more vivid.

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Vladimir was patient as Fiona dropped her arms down from the position they had been in during the dance to something a bit more relaxed, holding his hands now in hers. As she commented on them being trapped amongst the mooncalves for a little while longer, Vladimir could see the creatures still happily dancing, and he could not be much happier than he was at that moment. As he watched them dance and dance, Vladimir's attention was quickly returned to his dear Hufflepuff as she rose up and kissed him on the cheek.

 

He could never help the light flush of pink that would rise up to his cheek whenever she would kiss him, the half-smile returning to his face once more. He had not forgotten that she had asked him about dancing once, to want to learn how to waltz. Neither had Vladimir anticipated this to be the first time they would do as such, surrounded by a circle of mooncalves no less, but it had happened.

 

And Vladimir would not trade it for anything.

 

"I have learned to waltz since I was younger," Vladimir confided in her, "Ballroom and folk dance. I will admit, dancing is something I absolutely enjoy, much like playing the cello." The moment Fiona began to question herself, however, Vladimir immediately let his thumbs stroke the backs of her hands as he continued to hold them.

 

"You did more than well for your first attempt. Granted I usually have more room to maneuver with, but we cannot fault our mooncalf friends," he assured her, his tone as calm and gentle as it usually was when speaking without the wall surrounding him. "We shall most certainly do this again, I promise you." They both knew that Vladimir took his promises as seriously as Fiona did - he was not speaking idly.

 

Around them it looked as though the mooncalves were beginning to slow down, or was this perhaps another facet of their dance? "Fiona," Vladimir began to say, "What is happening now?"

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For nearly six months, Fiona had known that she and Vladimir put equal weight upon the word ‘promise’. She had no doubt at all that he would keep to his word, that they would waltz again someday. Fio’s patience had paid off in countless ways already, she could certainly be patient and wait for their second dance. When it came to Vladimir, the waiting had always been worth it, and the interim was just as enjoyable.

 

There was her planned visit to Oxford later in the summer, for example. And maybe, just maybe, they could find a way for Vladimir to return to Reading for a bit. Fiona pictured the sunflowers along the river as she smiled up at him and enjoyed the sensation of his thumbs stroking the backs of her hands.

 

Well if you enjoy it so much, dragostea mea...” Fiona mused contentedly, “We’ll just have to keep practicing so I can be a good partner for you.”

 

She was a little distant with her daydreaming when the sound of her name recalled her. Vladimir’s attention was trained out on the mooncalves, and with interest Fiona leaned to one side and glanced over his shoulder at the mooncalves on that side of the circle. They were slowing down, turning so that they were all facing the moon.

 

Oh!” Fiona exclaimed, pleasantly surprised. “They’re going to--!”

 

Before she could finish the sentence, every mooncalf in the herd tipped its head back and emitted a musical croon, each animal on a note of its choosing, building a strange dissonant chord. It wasn’t music, not strictly speaking, but generally it was referred to as ‘singing’. Fiona, though, had always thought it bore a strange resemblance to a pack of wolves howling at the moon. The sound was pleasant to her ears, though she supposed other people might not hear the beauty in it.

 

After a few seconds of mooncalf song, the mooncalves began to drop back to all fours and wander off in search of un-trampled grass to nibble at. Fiona moved forward to the space the herd had occupied, and gestured towards the grass, which was beaten down into a distinct ring.

 

You know what a crop circle is?” she asked. “Or is that a muggle thing?”

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