It was snowing. A lot. The blur of white was both magical and annoying. Why won't it stop snowing? Well, then again, it is Russia. you thought. It wasn't that you hated the snow, but it snowing non-stop seriously took away the little joy of frozen water, falling from the sky. You shrank back into your warm coat – you were not used to the sub-zero temperatures. At long last the torrent of snow tumbling down lessened and finally stopped. You carried on walking, even though your feet were numb and sore from the cold. You were just approaching a forest, when your saw a human shaped thing lying on the ground. As you nervously made your way closer to the shape, you saw that it was a human. Just lying there. Once this realisation hit you, you hurried over to the body. You knelt next to him. (Trying to ignore the snow melting into your trousers.) He peered up at you and a smile, that was sweet yet slightly psychopathic, illuminated his face. His hands were shielding a tiny green sprout, rising from the ground.
"Ummm, Hi." You said, nervously. Who was this man?
'Hello there. What are you doing out in this weather?' He inquired, politely. He had a strong Russian accent.
This befuddled you greatly, why was he asking you that? Surely it should be the other way round, as he is lying on the ground.
"I was kinda wondering why you are lying on the ground. I mean it is freezing." You replied, with genuine concern.
He laughed at this remark almost as if it were obvious what he was doing lying on the snowy ground in the middle of winter.
'I'm protecting the sunflower.' His voice had such happiness at merely uttering the word 'sunflower'.
"A sunflower?" You questioned.
'Da. I found this shoot on my way back home, and I just couldn't let it die. The sunflowers are so rare here.'
In a moment, you realised that you really wanted to help him. He obviously cared for that plant and you wanted to assist him. To help this sunflower grow to it's full beauty.
"Wow." You stuttered. "You must really care about sunflowers."
'I do. They are the most amazing flowers' His voice sounded breathless and for a second the searing cold and snow were forgotten. You both stood in a warm field with sunflowers stretching into the distance. All too soon, you were back in Russia.
"I want to help you look after this sunflower. I'm ________. Nice to meet you."
This seemed to be a surprise to the man.
'I'm Russia. But you can call me Ivan. It's nice to meet you too, ________'
Together you and Ivan scooped up the shoot and the surrounding earth and made your way to his home.
As his house came into view, you stopped and stared. This was not a house. It was a mansion. You were worried that you would get lost in it. Also, you now questioned whether Ivan lived alone. You walked up the marble steps and into the front door. The colossal house was warm inside. You removed your coat and embraced the feeling of the blood flowing back into your toes. You were snapped out of this when a small boy, who looked about 15, took your coat and hung it on a hook. You stared at him with a questioning look. In reply he started to shake. You averted your gaze to the tall Russian man who proceeded to smash his hand on the boy's head – causing him to shake more. Ivan appeared not to notice the pain he caused the small child. You gently took Ivan's hand off of the boy's head and said to the boy
"Hello, I'm ______. Who are you? If you don't mind telling me." He shook for a bit then answered
'I'm L-Latvia. B-but most p-people call me R-Ravis' He then walked back the way he came. You turned to see a dark look on Ivan's face. He quickly masked it with a smile.
'I would appreciate it if you did not speak to him. It makes him very nervous as he dislikes his stutter.' His voice was pleasant but held a darkness to it as well. You just nodded. Ivan's strange reaction aside, you would hate it if you made Ravis sad. You and Ivan made your way to his spacious kitchen and placed the sprout into a pot, sat it next to a window and poured a bit of water on the soil.
The sun was beginning to set and gave a warm golden glow to the snowy landscape. You sighed as you realised that you would have to leave soon. Your day spent with Ivan had been one of the best since you arrived in Russia. You laughed, watched T.V. and had lots of fun. You caught glimpses of about 3 people doing work in the house and another two that you had seen talking in a bedroom.
You finally plucked up the courage to ask Ivan about the people who lived in this house.
"So, Ivan. Could you please tell me who else lives here beside you and Ravis?" You sweetly said.
He sighed and replied 'Fine. There are Ravis' friends or brothers – I don't know the exact relation. Their names are Eduard and Toris. Also, I live here with my sisters – Natalia and Katyusha.' You nodded. This answered a lot of your questions.
The days after that first one were pretty much the same. You woke up, spent the day at Ivan's house then went home. You longed for the day that your sunflower would bloom into its full beauty. You would sometimes spend hours just watching the sunflower, looking for the slightest change. Over the days, you began to really enjoy the company of Ivan. He was kind and funny and sweet. Although Ravis, Eduard and Toris tried to tell you otherwise and Natalia threatened you to stay away from him. One snowy Tuesday, he walked into the spacious kitchen and found you sitting at the table, staring at the sunflower. He cautiously sneaked up behind you and gently wrapped his arms around your waist. You felt a strong surge of shock and happiness pulsate through you at his tender touch. You sank back and snuggled into his warm embrace and sighed.
"Why wont it bloom. I really want to see it." You whined.
'A sunflower takes about 3 months to grow and bloom.' He replied, calmly. An involuntary sigh escaped your lips and Ivan chuckled. You turned to face him when you noticed how close you were to him. A blush rocketed to your cheeks as you looked up into his dreamy violet eyes. He slowly moved a piece of your hair then rested his large hand on your cheek, with his other hand resting in the small of your back. You both leaned forward until his soft lips met yours. You knew, in that moment that you loved him. After the single most magical moment of your life was over, he smiled that same sweet yet slightly psychopathic smile that you saw on the day you met him. You bit your lip and said the most awkward and obvious thing in the world.
"Well, that was nice." He started to laugh.
'Yes, it was.' He responded. You could see Ivan take a deep breath, as it searching for courage, before he continued. 'I love you ______. Please will you be my girlfriend?' He squeezed his eyes shut, in case you were staring at him like he's an idiot. Instead, you flung your arms around his neck and practically screamed
"YESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES!!!!!!!" Ivan proceeded to pick you up and swing you round before planting another kiss on your lips. Ever since, you two have spent every moment with each other, never tiring of the company and always having loads of fun. You stayed in Russia with Ivan. And even when the house was empty except for you two, it was always warm and happy and loving. You had never been happier.