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 I tend to lose it than confront my mind, Nick (Hailey) <3
Milena Valerieva
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Jan 15 2018, 03:11 PM   Link Quote
Winter had been rough for Milena Valerieva. After the mysterious workshop and seeing her sister gaunt and haunted in that mirror, the Gryffindor had decided to go home. She’d resolved not to up until that wretched mirror’s reflection. Lilyana had seemed like a wraith, the bones of her spine protruding grotesquely against her skin. Even her fingers had been nothing but bones as they brushed back the hair of a doll. The image had been as haunting as the thought of bone fingers reaching out from beneath the decaying leaves of autumn and coiling about the toes of her shoes. Christmas hadn’t been any better, what with Nikolai spending it at their aunts and only sending presents and an owl. Milena had come to resent her brother, a fury growing inside of her at his lack of concern for the well-being of his younger sisters. She’d cried herself to sleep Christmas morning, shoulders shaking quietly as Lilyana clutched at her sweater, tucked into the space between her stomach and chest cavity.

Everything had been an on-going nightmare, from their father throwing the brandy’s glass decanter against the wall to Lilyana screaming in terror. The ghosts of her manor had kept silent, but in the darkness Milena could hear the poltergeist chuckling with dark, humorless malice and a lunatic’s glee.

She hadn’t slept in days and it was starting to affect her, but in the end the Gryffindor couldn’t bring herself to turn down the lights and close her eyes. The ghosts lingered in her eyelids, the structure of her veins taking their shape; pulsing and blooming. It was because of this that Milena had owled Nick. Nikolai Volkov had been Milena’s friend since their first year, and sometimes when she looked at him from a certain angle she thought he looked a little bit like Lilyana, and by association, her. Maybe it was the hair color. Whatever it had been, she usually dismissed it. The fact that his name was also the name of her older brother had been weird at first, but where she couldn’t call her brother Nick, forced to call him Nikolai, she could definitely get away with calling her friend Nick. Eventually the singular entity separated into two entities as they should have been from the beginning and things got easier.

Milena let out a long sigh of the suffering, her cheek resting against her fist as she idly stirred the lavender tea. Steam rising from the liquid tickled at her nose and she breathed in deeply, her eyes a discharged blue, like they had lost the electricity of life they usually generated. There were dark bags under her eyes, ones she hadn’t bothered to cover up with a concealment spell or make up. She was just irrevocably exhausted and didn’t want to hide it. The lids of her eyes drifted down, her chin sliding as her head bobbed and she snapped back awake, sitting up. Warmth seeped through her fatigue, lulling her into slumber as she stared at the crackling fire. The house elves had left and the silence had been eerie at first, but she filled it with her raging thoughts. She still hadn’t given Nero his gift, hoped he would like it when she did. Wondered what he had done, and whether he had worked all through the Holidays.

Should she have owled him?

The sound of the door opening announced Nick’s arrival and Milena immediately perked up at the sight of him. Her smile was warm, if not a little tired, and there was a spark of life to her eyes at his approach. The Gryffindor slid from her seat and latched onto the taller boy, arms wrapping around his middle as she hugged him; giving a gentle squeeze. “Nick! I’ve missed you.” His smell wrapped all around her, probably some expensive perfume, and she sighed as her muscles relaxed. Milena hadn’t realized how tense she’d been, but she lingered a few more moments, absorbing his warmth and his smell. Finally she stepped back, grinning up at him “how were your holidays?”

Hailey · 17 · 7th · Undecided · Half-Blood · 6'0"
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Jan 16 2018, 12:42 AM   Link Quote
For Nikolai Volkov, late December and early January roused memories he attempted to keep boxed and buried in the back of his mind. Memories of the runny-nosed boy rubbing boney hands together, praying that a fire would blaze in the hearth when he returned indoors. He’d draw his oversized jacket closer to him, though the fabric would already be soaked from the several feet of snow. He’d run through the streets of St. Petersburg until his legs burned and his heart nearly burst from his chest just to get the blood moving. Then the gunshot would fire, rattling his young mind, sending the young Kolya, as his father called him, in a flurry of panic. He’d scream and scream and scream until his voice went raw and it hurt to breath. God, it hurt to breath. Behind closed eyelids, a scene painted in crimson blood played before the snake. Thick arms wrapped around his waist, lifting him from the ground, muttering incomprehensible words in his ear as the young boy tasted the salt on his lips. Tears he didn’t even know he was shedding.

Yet when Nick opened his eyes, the arms vanished, abandoning him in thick sheets. With no remnants of blood, the Slytherin boy sat up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. His shirt clung to his back, and he ran his hands across his face. As he shot a glance to the clock, Nick cursed under his breath and hurried out of bed, grabbing his nearest pair of shoes. All he could do was toss on his sweatshirt and hobble out of the Slytherin dorms, sliding his bare feet into converse as he ran towards the kitchens, undoubtedly disheveled.

Ever since moving to England, Nick’s need to run dropped drastically. No longer would he have to deliver the morning paper to the people of his city, or sprint to save his hide whenever he snagged a slice of bread off of a cart; however, this damaged his stamina. Nikolai was breathless when he reached the kitchens, chest heaving. Yet he wiped the perspiration off his nose with a sleeve and quickly sniffed himself. Pleased to find the new cologne his Great Aunt Evelyn had purchased for him still smelled strong, masking the sweat odor, he stumbled into the room where Milena waited for him.

Nick chuckled as the Gryffindor girl barreled into his chest, and his arms snaked around her, “I’ve missed you, too, Milena,” he confessed. He’d met the her his second year at Hogwarts, drawn to a certain familiarity behind her blue eyes, and not once had she led him to regret his decision in befriending her. Though the first to break the contact, Nick led them back to where Milena sat before he arrived, “Oh, you know, the usual. Evelyn and John finding some way to insult my father, them nagging about how I have to act more like a gentleman if I’m to be their heir, and the unnecessarily expensive gifts.”

It wasn’t that Nick despised his great aunt and uncle, no, his gratitude for their willingness to take him in had no bounds and their hospitality kept him from losing his mind at every sly mention of how his mother made a mistake marrying his father. Yet, Nick spent the first ten years of his life in the gutters, poor and downtrodden. His father could barely afford to buy him a new scarf for Christmas, and yet there the snake stood, seven years later, wearing a cologne they could’ve lived off of for some time back in Petersburg.

He smiled again and wrapped his fingers around her tea, dragging it towards him and stealing a sip. The lavender herbs permeated his mouth and Nick pushed the mug back towards his friend as he scrunched his nose at the sweet flavor. “Remind me never again to drink tea,” he grumbled. “I much prefer coffee.” His fingers worked through his brown hair, tussling the locks in all different directions, “But enough about me, tell me about your holidays.” Nick would be lying if he said he hadn’t seen the bags under her eyes. He’d seen them the moment he tracked her down. But despite all the bones in his body screaming at him to comfort her, ask her if she was okay: he wouldn’t, because Nikolai knew better than anyone how terrible those types questions were, they opened doors for lies. Still, he’d wait for her to tell him what happened on her own accord, without forceful guidance or pressure, and when she did, he’d be there.


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Milena Valerieva
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Jan 23 2018, 12:46 PM   Link Quote
“Five years later and I still think the Sorting Hat made a mistake putting you in Slytherin,” she groused, settling back in her seat with a smile that lit up her face. Friends were a rare commodity for the Gryffindor, all of the friends she’d made could be counted on a single hand and they didn’t go any higher than four. Maybe she was being hard on herself but at the same time a smaller group of people tended to be easier to handle when ti came to being sleep deprived and having other responsibilities. Responsibilities that only Nikolai Volkov was privy to. Sure she’d told Nero about some of it, but the pale skinned, dark haired specter had no idea the depth of the troubles. No one knew her family situation quite as intimately as Nick and she appreciated that he didn’t go running his mouth.

“Sadly you can’t insult their nagging, that just makes you seem ungrateful.” She supplied unhelpfully but oddly good natured because she knew that Nick appreciated what his aunt and uncle had done for him. Unfortunately he still didn’t understand that he didn’t have to put up with their complaints regarding his late father just because they’d taken him in. Some lines had to be drawn. Milena had no right to talk, she was still angry at her brother and aunt for not caring even though she’d made the choice to stay behind. “Unnecessarily expensive gifts you’re definitely enjoying. Is that too rich for you cologne I smell. Are they plotting to send you to finishing school?” the shock was false but it felt natural to banter with Nick when they were together.

Those electric blue eyes narrowed as his fingers closed around her tea and he dragged it towards him, her lips twitched up as his nose scrunched up after taking a sip. “Serves you right for being a tea thief,” the witch replied smoothly as she slid off the stool and retrieved a mug. While her back was to him, Milena stifled a yawn as she poured hot water from a kettle that had been on a low burning fire on the stove. The steam rushed up and she inhaled the pure scent of it as it had yet to meet with the coffee. If he hadn’t inquired about her holidays Milena might have not said a single thing, she would have been content with just catching up on what he got for Christmas at his aunt’s. Whether they’d found someone worthy of him to marry yet and if he liked his chosen wife. Despite the Valerieva’s reputation the decline in her family’s prestige had at least spared her, her big brother Nikolai and Lilyana from being matched with chosen suitors.

Nick however, was a doll ready to be sold to the highest bidder. The thought was brushed away with a ghostly hand, finger plucking the coffee and sugar containers as she headed back to where they’d been sitting and slid the mug in front of him. She’d fetched a spoon too but hadn’t prepared the coffee for him because she couldn’t remember if he liked it with sugar or not. Best to let him make his own brew either way. A long sigh left her lips and she rested her chin on her palm, looking towards him through half lidded eyes; the cheer somewhat drained from her soul. “The usual… Nikolai didn’t come this Christmas, he and auntie sent owls and presents but didn’t grace us with their presence.” Anger lined her words, anger she tried to keep wrapped up within herself so as not to let its barbs puncture someone else by mistake. “Mom was out of the house. Not surprisingly.”

The rest she couldn’t bring herself to say. Not that she thought Nick would judge their poor status, but rather because she was ashamed that she couldn’t afford lavish gifts for Lilyana and had had to settle to doing a scavenger hunt to win her twin a box of chocolates. Her hands reached out and curled around the cup of tea, eyes staring at the liquid as they burned with unshed tears. Milena couldn’t tired herself out with crying, she had too much to do and she wasn’t getting together with Nick to talk about her problems but because she’d missed her friends.

Yet a couple of tears found their way streaking down her cheeks and she brushed them away with the sleeve of her sweater, swiping angrily at their traitorous, silent outpouring. “It was just… tiring. Just me, Lily and dad... but still tiring.” She said with a shrug.

Hailey · 17 · 7th · Undecided · Half-Blood · 6'0"
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Jan 23 2018, 11:30 PM   Link Quote
Even as a child, Nikolai was a boy of few words. Болтуна язык до добра не доведёт, his father used to tell him. A fool's tongue runs before his feet. So, he kept his ears open and his mouth shut. He watched the world as a keen observer, noting how to make it out of the belly of the beast unscathed. Yet, sitting at down at the table, he winked at her, “You only think that because I actually like you.” Unlike his friend, he had always understood his placement as a snake. Nick lacked the bravery of the lions, the compassion of the badgers, or the intellect of the eagles. He even feared a mere sheet of paper lying in the bottom of a box, gathering dust. What he did have, however, was the cunning to thrive in the gutters, ambition to survive the winters, and the ingenuity to make it out alive.

He rolled his eyes at Milena, “Thank you for your wise incite,” but she was right, no matter the nature of the comment. Nick remained with his aunt and uncle solely based on their good graces. Should he do something to upset them, he could only hope they would not throw him back on the streets, and cut him off as they did his mother – their own niece. An irrational fear after seven years, he knew, but as a half-blood in a world of purebloods, Nick had always felt exceedingly inferior in their presence. They were vipers, venomous and poised to strike at the first sign of danger, with Nick a simple guest in their nest. His fangs carried no venom that could rot the flesh if the situation required; quick and sharp, they could only penetrate and draw blood.

“I believe it’s pronounced it’d be a shame for it to go to waste,” the Slytherin chewed on his lip, “Honestly? I wouldn’t be surprised. They want me to take over the Curse-breaker business, and while it seems really interesting and all – I could be your regular Indiana Jones - an O.W.L in Arithmancy is required, as well as N.E.W.T.s in Defense Against the Dark Arts, Potions, Transfiguration, Charms, and Ancient Runes. So,” He scratched the back of his head, “That’s a little daunting, especially with how it’s going right now.” It was no secret Nikolai Volkov did not place as one of the greatest students at Hogwarts. He got far too distracted in classes, having spent the first ten years of his live without a true education. That being said, his grades were decent, but finishing school still seemed a likely outcome for his future. Coughing at the potent lavender taste, Nick slapped a hand against his chest, “Thief?” he gasped and jabbed a finger in her direction, “Вор у во́ра дуби́нку укра́л, жопа.”

When she stood to brew his favorite drink, he nearly surged to his feet, “Milena you don’t have to do that,” but she’d already begun, so he stayed seated. The bitter aroma of coffee beans made the corners of Nick’s lips twitch and he relaxed at the familiarity. Evelyn hated coffee, finding it to taste like burnt chocolate and rather unhealthy, so the snake endured withdrawal without the drink over the holidays. As a result, he found himself dozing off in the middle of the day, since long nights of sleep were often fitful and insufficient.

Nikolai restrained himself from reaching out and snatching the mug from his close friend’s grasp as she placed it before him, “Have I ever told you how much I love you? You’re officially my favorite person.” Though he’d watched his father drink his coffee black and unsweetened from a young age, Nick preferred the slightest hint of sweetener and he dumped in less than a spoonful, “Really though, Milena, thank you.” He took a sip, swirling the strong, warming flavor with notes of cedar in cloves over his tongue, as he listened to her talk about her holidays. Perhaps it was the hot drink mixed with his anger, or the latter alone, but his blood broiled at the mention of her older brother with whom he shared a name. Family meant everything, in his opinion, consequences be damned, And, there were times when Nick wished he had a brother or a sister; therefore, the Slytherin was often shocked by some of Milena’s relatives. How they all seemed to take each other for granted, not considering the fact that one day, someone that has always been a constant in their life may just be ripped from their grasp. However, his frustration was in no way directed towards the Gryffindor girl, he knew how much she yearned for their attention, but at the other members of her family.

Nick set down his coffee, concern in his chocolate gaze, when he noticed tears glistening in her eyes, “You don’t have to say anything else if you don’t want to,” he insisted, attempting to give her a reassuring smile. “I can only imagine, but you’re back here now – with me. And, I have a little something for two incredibly important holidays,” the snake winked, “You didn’t think I would forget your birthday, did you?” Reaching into his pocket, he frowned, yet even when he did that, his dimples were still prominent, “Of course,” he grumbled with a grit of his teeth, “I forgot, I rushed out of the dorms so I don’t have it with me, but never fear, I will give it to you soon.”


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Milena Valerieva
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Feb 8 2018, 11:04 AM   Link Quote
Milena laughed a little bit, cheered up by the thought of being Nick’s favorite person, although he was probably just saying that because of the coffee. Yet even though this wasn’t romantic love she appreciated hearing that he loved her. There was something warm and comforting about being enveloped in the feelings of someone else, armed with the knowledge that even for a brief moment you were a precious existence to someone else. That your life and your problems mattered. She had this with Sarit and perhaps one day she could show Nero that she loved him as any friend should. The thought of the Gryffindor made her stomach feel hollow and full all at once but she grabbed onto what Nick was saying instead. “I thought I was your favorite person since we met? And what did you say to me after your incredulous thief?” she asked, because she didn’t speak Russian but she was sure it wasn’t something nice. Playful, but definitely worthy of a comeback.

Nick had a point. Milena liked people that were nice to her and liked her in return, she didn’t hate those that didn’t like her; only didn’t bother with their existence. Save for one special person of course and the witch never spoke about that. If she and Oisin were to ever trade barbs, they’d do it face to face and with no witnesses. Milena had never been callous enough to demean the Woodbane boy in front of others, she wasn’t sure if that was some kind of old school respect she had for her enemy. Enemies had to be respected, otherwise that’s how one ended up underestimating them. “You say that like you don’t like many people,” she countered, trying to get herself back under control and not let the overwhelming outpouring steer them into dark crevices.

She took a sip of her tea instead of just nursing it between her palms and nearly choked when he sassed her right back. The witch’s cerulean eyes glittered with tears and amusement as her lips pulled into a grin and she laughed a little. “You’ll have to ask your Language Mistress how it’s pronounced when you’re off being all proper. Just don’t get any ideas about running off and eloping with a hot teacher, they’re probably all old and batty.” Hearing that they expected him to take over the curse-breaking business only brought up a whole round of things Milena had to accomplish and she felt the heat of the tea settling in her stomach with the weight of a dozen bricks. There was so much to do and so little time to accomplish it with. She could feel the pressure of those bony fingers on her shoulder, the caress of their cool malice against her back. The coils were settling like thin wire between the nubs of her spinal column. “What’s going on right now?” Besides being expected to pass every subject with flying colors.

Since Milena hadn’t told anyone that her birthday had come and gone since it was so near to the holidays, she was on alert and wary about what Nick had to give her. He didn’t leave her guessing for too long but she felt suddenly ashamed that she hadn’t gotten him anything. “You didn’t have to get me anything,” she said with a grin after he admitted that he’d forgotten her present back in the dorms. Milena wondered if they could get away with raiding the Slytherin dorm rooms but then it wouldn’t be much of a raid if Nick had access to it because it was his house. “It’s okay Nick, I left your present up in the tower too. Guess I just got too excited getting down here myself.” Nikolai Volkov was giving her a way out of not having to talk about what was bothering her and she would be a fool not to take it. So like the coward she often felt she was, Milena steered the conversation away from everything that could hurt her.

“Is this gift… just rich enough for you perfume? I’m running low on my high end stuff.” Her brows waggled at him, the warmth from the fires and the tea mixing with the strong scent of coffee created a cocoon around them. She felt herself sliding under the sheets of that warm, soft roiling tide as if she were being eased into bed. The witch struggled to stay awake, her thoughts a little inconsistent from the lack of sleep as she went back to a previous topic. “I could use some practice in Defense Against the Dark Arts. I’m good with Herbology so I could give you a bit of help with potions… Since Curse-breaking is what I want to do after I graduate.”

Hailey · 17 · 7th · Undecided · Half-Blood · 6'0"
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Feb 18 2018, 10:01 PM   Link Quote
Nikolai wouldn’t call himself a humorous person. No, he didn’t crack jokes; he didn’t search for ways to make people happy by making a fool of himself. But around his close friends, his comments were freer, more teasing, funnier. “That’s because I don’t,” Nick said as if it was the simplest thing in the world then smirked, “You, Mara, Petra, and Adelaide should be grateful I grace you with my presence, not many people can say they’re friends with the Nikolai Volkov.” And it was true, he didn’t. Nick would much prefer keeping his few friends over attempting to make more. In his past experience, the people close to him tended to leave, be it for reasons completely out of his control or ones where the blame fell on him entirely. So, the snake played it safe and befriended only a few, pretending nobody else mattered to him.

When Milena laughed, Nick couldn’t help but join her and chuckled softly, the sound music to his ears. He tapped his chin as though he were pondering her question, “Let’s see, we met in my second year…nope, sorry Milena, I hated everyone in first and the beginning of second year. You were my favorite person about a month or so after we met.” Grinning, Nick rested his elbows on the table and leaned forward, “Is this a request for a lesson in Russian? Why Milena, I’ve been trying to teach it to you for years!” That was a slight lie, he’d been speaking it to her for years, not necessarily teaching it, but the two were close enough, right? “‘Вор у во́ра дуби́нку укра́л’ is a common proverb meaning ‘there is no honor among thieves’, and I, my dear friend, am completely honorable. I am the definition of chivalry,” he thought back to what he said, remembering the part he added on, “Oh, and then жопа just means ass. So, put together, that meant, roughly, ‘there is no honor among thieves, ass’.”

His face twisted in disgust and he nearly choked on his coffee at Milena’s suggestion of running off and eloping with a teacher, much like she did at his first response, “Hot, old, and batty?” he winced, swallowing the hot drink, then attempted a whistle, “What a combination, I’d love to see that,” the Russian raised his eyebrows and leaned back in his chair, gesturing to his torso, “But really, Milena, me? Proper? You know I can’t tell the difference between desert forks and regular forks let alone soup spoons and regular spoons. You eat with both, why does it matter which you use?” Nick, however, could not deny the existence of a language mistress, even if the whole comment was nothing but a jest. Evelyn and John had hired one for him when he was ten years old since he barely spoke a lick of English, and whenever he returned to their London Estate, she’d return to help the Russian boy improve. Milena had no worries about him eloping with her, old and batty maybe, but hot she was not.

“What’s going on now?” the Slytherin repeated, mulling over it. When he could conjure up no meaningful response, he decided to return to sarcasm, “Why right now I’m having coffee with this Gryffindor girl,” he attempted to hold back a smile, “In Russian, we have a word for people like her: жопа. She just learned what it meant today, too! But, all that aside, I’d probably be crashing and burning without her.” Nick returned her grin and pointed to her, in a much less accusing way than before, “Ah, but you see, I did have to get you something. Your birthday is one of my favorite holidays!” the snake leaned over the table and ruffled her hair, “Call me cheesy but it means I’ve spent yet another amazing year with you, and gets me excited for the one to come.”

While Nick was rather fond of giving presents to those he cared about, receiving Christmas gifts did not make it on the list of things he enjoyed, no matter the person. However, once upon a time, he did. Marat had loved the holiday season. Every year without fail the boy’s father hauled the largest Christmas Tree they could afford into their tiny apartment, they’d string up scarves and scraps of paper – anything they weren’t using - to it, once even tried to hide a lamp in it. Nikolai loved those Christmases. He’d gift his father with a book to read, or a free newspaper and in return, his dad would convince their neighbor to knit him a scarf or mend the hole in his cap for a low price. But ever since Christmas became a time where his great aunt and uncle flaunted their wealth in his face, drowning him in potent colognes. He scratched the nape of his neck, feeling a bit like a hypocrite, “Milena, you didn’t need to get me anything.”

“Oh,” Nick chuckled as the Gryffindor chased away the dark memories without even realizing it, “You’re welcome to have any of my just rich enough for you cologne but you’ll find they smell a bit like man. But…clean man…fresh man?” Noticing her eyes drooping, the Slytherin shifted in his seat, about to open his mouth to suggest she go sleep before she spoke. His voice softened and the corners of his lips turned upward, “We’ll have to form a study group, of sorts. I could use all the help I can get, plus,” he added, humorously, “I always found Defense Against the Dark Arts the most badass so I tried the hardest in that.”


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