Jetlag pulled me back down to bed for an extra two hours, and I woke with the crystals of sleep at the corners of my tear-ducts, furious with myself. Still there was no love for myself in my heart since the incident two years ago; still I could not give myself the extra time to relax, as my mind was wild for adventure, petrified, too, for the lies that I’d have to make, and worried, as always, for whatever secrets lay in those Moscovian crypts.

“Aggie, are you awake?” I heard my mother saying as I lay there in the blissful just-woken daze.

“Mmm…” I mumbled, opening my eyes one by one. The woman standing in front of me was already dressed.

“Are you ready for some fun around the city?”

“Mum! That sounds so strange!” I then softened my voice, remembering what I was about to do. “But yeah, I can’t wait. Russia is, so far, a lovely place.”

“Yes, I’m glad I agreed to take you up on this strange idea of yours. I guess you were right when you suggested it wildly. You have a bad tendency to go off on these odd tangents, you see…”

I ignored half the comment, busying myself with my thick hair, but dressed quickly once she had finished trying to make conversation. Simple winter gear was enough for me: a green sweater  (a remnant of my Harry Potter days), a puffer jacket, pink and hideously bright, unfortunately not my favourite, recently-bought long coat; lurking below, on the other hand, were my infamous pink jeans. I was quite a bright sight in the fresh morning snow. I hadn’t grown an inch since I was thirteen, so all my old clothes still fit me. It was wonderful.

We breakfasted on the typical sort of continental breakfast that can be found at every smart hotel, and then left in my mother’s typical sort of hurry. Rather suddenly I found myself doing a mental check of all the things I’d need to store in my rucksack for the next day or two, including the letter and a map of Moscow, a bottle of water, a magnifying glass, and my notepad to jot down any thoughts on things suspicious. I laughed at my mother’s expression when she saw it, but she knew little of its importance. I didn't know when I’d be next checking into my hotel room.

“Where are we going first?” asked Benny in his ‘I hope it’s not somewhere boring’ voice. He tediously pulled his scarf up to his mouth, blowing out a condensed glob of carbon dioxide as he did so. It still amused him; unfortunately, Ben took after our mad mother.

My mother clapped her gloves together.

“Museums. I’m not sure which, but I have a book here that tells me about each of them. There’s the Museum of the History of Moscow, The Bulgakov Museum and The Zoological Museum. Oh, and this one. If you want to visit Cathedrals, they have a few…”

I hurried myself along, despite the chill biting at my lips. It was going to be a long day.


The End

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