Anatoly had looked at her from beneath his long, thick lashes across the cafeteria table, somehow managing to appear deferent despite the blatant demand. The older of the pair, the seemingly pliant and more personable twin. He knew that he had her from the start, simply because she cannot refuse him anything, but he still put up a damn good charade for the sake of her pride. She loved him for it, but that was before they had signed a lease with a crabby goblin with fistfuls of hairs sprouting out of his limp, wrinkled ears and looked harmless enough when they met him last spring. As it turned out, the old perdet' was either entirely senile or was doing a frightfully good job at faking it in order to avoid fixing the temperature-regulating charms on the house. It was one thing to be cold outside the house. It was another to sleep in the cold and wake up in the cold.
She didn't complain. Not out loud, anyway. Ksenia Ilyenkova would rather freeze to death than admit aloud that there was another place on earth colder in winter than Russia. Only two hands cupped around a steaming mug of black tea and a pale face were visible from beneath a thick, furry blanket on one end of their thrift-store couch, but the look Anatoly's younger twin gave him as he hurried out the door to his part-time research project in the academy library spoke volumes enough. She didn't love the Academy's residence halls downtown, but at least the heating charms there didn't break down in December.
It would all have been fine if at least one of them was seventeen... but here they were.
No use complaining. It was her only weekday that Ksenia did not have class. She was going to enjoy it as best as she can. The girl freed one hand to snag a packet of poppy-seed biscuits that her mother had sent with the last visit from the family's owl and placed one in her mouth. Over the back of the couch, the door to the boys' shared room remained closed. Ksenia tipped her head, eyes narrowed with interest, and flicked a biscuit at the door. It landed with a light clatter before falling out of sight.
Suddenly fascinated by the endeavour, she aimed another squarely at the door.