The unearthly music of the merpeople echoed across the underwater waves of Hogwarts’ lake. Three figures, limp in a magically induced sleep, bobbed up and down in the currents. Loose vines of seaweed wrapped around their waists, tying them to the base of a roughly hewn statue of a mergod. Their heads rolled sideways in sleep, and small bubbles issued from their open mouths as they were somehow able to breathe despite the water that should have filled their lungs.
The hair of a girl no older than eight swam in shimmering silver sheets, giving her an unearthly beauty in the green tinted murk. Next to her was an older girl, pretty in her soft features and slanted eyes, but nowhere near as ethereally haunting as the younger girl. Finally there was a fourteen-year-old boy; the black waves of his hair lifted off of his face, revealing a thin scar on his forehead in the shape of a lightning bolt. All three were silent, unaware—but they all shared something in common, although they had never met before—they were all beloved: one as a sister, one as a first crush, and one as the deepest desire of the boy who loved him more than life itself.
Above them, the erected stadium benches were slowly being filled by students from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The British and Bulgarian Ministers for Magic arrived with their personal entourages, greeting each other through a translation spell and mumbling insults to the other’s back when the politicians turned away from one another. Each politician was terribly competitive and Cornelius Fudge, the British Minister, was still upset that Bulgaria had won the Quidditch World Cup earlier that summer, and that the Bulgarian team had the premier seeker in the international league: Viktor Krum.
It rubbed Fudge even more that Krum was only seventeen, had at least ten if not fifteen good years of Quidditch left in him, and that he had spectacularly ended the World Cup by catching the golden snitch. Furthermore, he was a student from Durmstrang, his family was close family friends of the foreign minister, and he was a competing champion against Hogwarts’ own Cedric Diggory.
Of course, Cornelius Fudge would have had bragging rights if the Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter, had not mysteriously disappeared from Muggle Britain six years earlier. That had been a political embarrassment and no matter what Great Britain accomplished, his foreign counterparts would never let him live down his supposed incompetency.
This mishap, for which Fudge completely blamed Potter’s magical guardian, Albus Dumbledore, was also not his fault in the least, which made it so much worse. He had immediately agreed to Albus’s crackpot idea of resurrecting the Triwizard Tournament in the hopes that it would bring back some positive press for his country. Unfortunately, Krum had come out with the highest points in the first task, and was clearly favored to win the tournament.
If only he could find the Boy Who Lived…
Fudge knew that Harry was still alive. Dumbledore, although clearly incompetent about the boy’s still secret placement, had at least had the foresight to cast a blood spell on the orphan that was designed to activate if the boy should ever perish.
No, he was just missing. Hopefully the few rogue Death Eaters who still hid in society hadn’t caught up with him. And it was clear that the boy also wasn’t using accidental magic. The Ministry would have traced it by now if he had performed any spells in the United Kingdom. Missing, Fudge reassured himself for the millionth time since he had first been informed . . . just missing among the Muggle populace.
As the stands continued to fill, a ginger haired fourth-year sighed as his “friend” started spouting inane facts into his ear about the giant squid. Ronald Weasley, the youngest of the Weasley brothers and second youngest child of the clan, couldn’t believe that he still hadn’t managed to give the insufferable know-it-all the shove. He had stupidly tried to rescue her from a troll in their first year. He just had to brave and heroic, he thought glumly to himself. Both of them had wound up being knocked out and were in the infirmary for over a month, and had somehow bonded over the fact.
Hermione Granger, which was in fact this particular know-it-all’s name, had had no friends and had latched onto him and he, not wanting to be stuck with the bumbling Neville Longbottom as his only company, had reluctantly gone along with it. Although three years had passed and he had even gone to the Yule Ball with the fiery brunette (because he was too embarrassed to ask a “real” girl and still hadn’t had a date at the last minute), he still wondered to himself at least twice a month why he went along with it in the first place. What made it even worse was that she had somehow managed to become friends with his little sister, Ginny, and now he couldn’t get rid of her either.
And his elder twin brothers wouldn’t let him live it down, either.
He glanced over toward the three champions and his eyes lingered on Viktor Krum. Scowling in the February cold, the Bulgarian Seeker stripped off his robes to reveal his toned body and stooped shoulders. Ron couldn’t help but wonder about the champion. Ever since he had seen Viktor at the infamous World Cup . . . he shivered just thinking about the small boy who had been in the stands with the Bulgarian Minister: bright green eyes hidden under a mop of long black hair.
The mystery boy, who the press still couldn’t figure out the identity of, had been sitting next to the Malfoys and had even spoken to the prat Draco Malfoy, although his eyes never left the Pitch. Ron couldn’t help but be jealous when Krum, his hero, had swooped toward the top row as soon as he had caught the snitch and then…
Rumors abounded throughout Hogwarts about the international celebrity. A few of the brave students had asked some of the Durmstrang students about the identity of the Quidditch Boy, as the Daily Prophet had dubbed him. The students had only laughed and said that it was only little Henrik. Henrik who? Henrik Krum, his little brother. But that hadn’t made sense. No one acted like that around a younger sibling, and the official biography had never mentioned a sibling. Ron shook his head to dispel that train of thought and wondered what exactly was going to occur in this task.
One of the judges, Ludo Bagman, stood up and let his eyes sweep over the stadium. Pointing his wand at his throat, he muttered, “Sonorus!” and smiled as his voice was magically amplified.
“Well, all of our champions are ready for the second task, which will start on my whistle. They have precisely one hour to recover what has been taken from them in the lake. Good luck to all! On the count of three, then: one . . . two . . . three!”
A whistle echoed across the deep water of the lake as the stands erupted with cheers. The students talked excitedly amongst themselves, wondering what had been taken from each student. “Her hairbrush!” one surmised about the gorgeous, yet snobby part-Veela, Fleur Delacour.
“I bet they took his broom,” another said about Viktor Krum. “Doesn’t he have a Firebolt?”
Everyone talked quietly amongst themselves as they stared avidly at the lake, the minutes ticking by, all of the Hogwarts students wishing that their champion would actually come out first place. After half an hour, students began to check their watches and then when forty minutes had passed, an enthusiastic Hufflepuff started calling off the minute marks. “Forty-one minutes!” he shouted and everyone turned to the lake. Still nothing.
A ripple was seen near the surface and everyone held their breath, leaning forward curiously.
“Forty-four minutes!” shouted the excited boy, and then with a splash the water broke to reveal a black head of hair. The stands erupted in cheers and Fudge couldn’t help but groan as he recognized the dark hair of the Durmstrang champion. Pushing the bundle in his arms toward the surface, another head emerged, this one just as black, but the face was young and the boy appeared to be sleeping.
Krum coughed into his hand and quickly swam to shore. He lifted his cargo, the thing he would miss the most, onto the dock before hauling himself up onto the dry surface. A towel was immediately placed over his shoulders by a fussing Madam Pomfrey and his Headmaster came over to congratulate him, but the Bulgarian didn’t notice. Instead, Viktor rushed toward the boy who was beginning to stir and shook him gently, whispering, “Henrik, Henrik!” desperately. The crowd watched the pair, not even realizing that their own champion was surfacing. They had recognized the waterlogged Quidditch Boy, as Krum’s supposed younger brother. Apart from the color of their hair, the two looked as if they couldn’t possibly be related!
“I told you he wasn’t dating someone in Bulgaria,” a Slytherin girl whispered to her boyfriend when she noticed the Hogwarts champion had rescued his Ravenclaw girlfriend. “The rumors must be true then.”
As the Quidditch Boy sputtered, his eyes fluttered open and looked up into the face of a worried champion. “Viktor?” he whispered as his brother’s fingers ghosted over his cheekbone. He sighed at the touch, eyes never leaving those of the boy hunched over him.
“Oh Henrik,” Viktor said, awed, thankful that his brother was alive and well. “Harry,” he whispered as all reason left him. He cupped the boy’s cheek before leaning down and kissing him softly and deeply. The boy, shocked, opened his mouth in pleasure and moaned as Viktor kissed him again and again, letting gentle passion and relief flood both of their senses.
He was safe, Viktor repeated mentally; his beloved Harry was safe and all Viktor could think of was how he had fallen in love with this strange boy the first time he had laid eyes on him, all those years ago when they were only children: before Harry was adopted, before he became Henrik Krum, before they were branded as brothers and sentenced to purgatory and forbidden to love each other as they both secretly knew they did.
Viktor sighed as he pulled away from Harry and looked searchingly into those green eyes, which were so mysterious and yet so open with him. His own gaze shone with love, with guilt, and asked for a child’s forgiveness, but all Harry did was pull Viktor closer until the older boy was lying on top of him. He kissed his brother passionately in a silent reply as the shocked stadium couldn’t believe what they were witnessing.
Sofia, Bulgaria (Viktor 21, Henrik 18)
Several years after Viktor had first happened across a scared wizard boy in Muggle London, Harry Potter asked his lover what exactly had made him wander out the door of the Leaky Cauldron that day. He’d always wondered, as a small child, the reasons of the boy—and then man—he had loved from the first, although he had previously been too afraid to learn just how close he had come to being left with his horrible Muggle relatives.
Viktor, his stooped shoulders hunched over the breakfast table, smiled softly at Harry without answering at first. His lidded eyes took in the sight of the man before him, and he sighed in contentment. Sometimes he still couldn’t believe that Henrik—his Harry—loved and desired him, although it had been years since that fateful afternoon by the Black Lake at Hogwarts.
How much our lives have changed, Viktor mused and then sighed.
The answer was trivial really, ridiculous in hindsight, though to an eleven year old it had made perfect sense.
“Mother vould not buy me the new broom,” he mused. “She vas saying that it vas no good as it vas English vorkmanship.”
Harry stood in the middle of the kitchen, almost forgetting that he was only wearing a sheet around his midsection—he didn’t believe in mornings, never had really, once he had the luxury of parents and a boy he had to call “brother” out loud. He stared at Viktor for several long seconds before breaking out into laughter.
Viktor smiled sadly at the man he loved. He couldn’t help but realize the irony of the situation from so many years ago. He had loved Quidditch before he was old enough to get on his first training broom. The fact that a childish tantrum had dictated the course of most of Henrik’s childhood and created an instantaneous love that many in the wizarding world still found distasteful was terrifying. It could easily not have happened. Viktor could have instead gone off into Knockturn Alley, or hid up in his room, perhaps even nicked some Floo powder—he might have done anything or gone anywhere except sneaking out the Muggle exit of the Leaky Cauldron in a moment of spite.
As he sipped his French coffee, he wondered, as he often did, what their lives would have been like if he hadn’t seen the horrible “fat whale” (as Henrik called him), chasing a small boy with an unearthly grace despite his spindly legs and ragged clothes through a London park. Viktor supposed that at least he might have been more tolerant as he grew up of Muggles and Muggle-borns. He wouldn’t have felt an inherent dislike, if not outright loathing, for them that he developed when he saw two Muggle adults laughing at Henrik’s predicament.
Henrik would have always been “Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived,” a boy worshipped by the magical community but left in a Muggle cupboard to slowly go blind from lack of light. Viktor doubted that anything could have stained Henrik’s childhood innocence, even those Muggles who half-starved him and allowed their child to beat him when he wasn’t being treated like a house-elf.
Would his Harry have been Muggle-loving like that old fool who ran Hogwarts? Would he have been starry-eyed and disenchanted when he eventually entered the wizarding world, little better than a Muggle-born in his ignorance? Would he have remained small for his age due to ten years of partial malnutrition?
The Krums had spent the three years before Henrik had enrolled at Durmstrang combating the neglect he had suffered, buying him Nutrition and Growth Potions, taking him to a magical optometrist to have his eyes corrected, although the process took years.
He would have been a celebrity as soon as he stepped onto the grounds of Hogwarts, Viktor realized. No one would have known him as ‘Harry’.
Viktor knew how isolating fame could be. When he was sixteen, he had first been scouted for a professional Quidditch team, and within two years he was ranked as the best Seeker in the world and was playing in the Quidditch World Cup. Whenever he entered a room, everyone would turn to look at him, would talk about him as if he couldn’t hear, would presume to know him. If it hadn’t been for Henrik’s constant presence and quiet affection, he doubted he would have had a single genuine companion who was interested in him and not his Quidditch persona.
His lover would have always had to suffer through an even harsher scrutiny. Any friend he had made would have known his name since before they could talk, would have possibly only seen the scar that lay hidden behind his unruly fringe. He would have been separate, alone, an orphan.
Henrik might have never known a parent’s love, Viktor sadly mused as Harry finally calmed himself before he placed a chaste kiss on the Bulgarian’s head.
“To think that it came down to a broom,” Harry responded, his voice slightly husky as he carefully pronounced the English words, which were a little too clipped for a native English speaker.
“Yes, vell,” Viktor teased as he thought back to the child he had been, “I vas very upset at the time. The Cleansweep vas the height of sophistication to vone of eleven.”
Harry quickly glanced out toward the living room where Viktor’s past brooms were hanging reverently on the walls, not a Cleansweep or Comet in sight. “Yes, I suppose it would be,” he chuckled. He stole a piece of toast off of his lover’s plate and smiled cheekily at him. “I suppose we would have met then when I was fourteen and you went to Hogwarts.”
His companion stared at him for a long moment, silently contemplating his brother’s words. He took a deep breath before grabbing his morning bowl of yogurt. “Yes, I suppose so.” His voice was matter of fact with only a hint of frustration behind it. He didn’t like thinking about what would have happened if he hadn’t known Henrik until he was seventeen and had entered the Triwizard Tournament. There were too many variables. Unfortunately, he had been rather curious one evening, during a sleepless night before a major Quidditch match, and had attempted to solve the problem using Arithmancy. To this day he cursed the fact that he had been so proficient at the subject at Durmstrang.
Needless to say, Viktor hadn’t liked the results.
“I wonder what you would have thought of ‘the famous Harry Potter,” Harry said bitterly.
Dark eyes met emerald ones and Viktor smiled sadly. “I vould haff thought you vere the most beautiful boy I had ever seen,” he responded. “And then I vould haff stalked you like that Herm-own-ninny did me.”
His dry humor brought a smile to Harry’s eyes as he then swiped Viktor’s coffee when he wasn’t looking and added cream to it. Viktor only smiled indulgently. “Wasn’t she the school…” His voice faded as he tried to remember the English word, but it wouldn’t come to mind. He silently cursed himself for suggesting that they improve their English by speaking only that at home for a few years. The only exception was when they were making love. Harry refused to try and think in another language when Viktor’s hands ran over him.
Even though Harry had spoken English as a child, he had rarely uttered a word of it between the ages of eight and fourteen, and then only when absolutely necessary after that. “Did not she always study to obsession?”
“Yes. Even asked me to Yule Ball.”
“Really?” Harry arched an eyebrow. “Poor her.”
“Her little friend vas vorse. The vone with red hair.”
Harry stared at his lover, who had gotten up and was making them more toast and brewing a second cup of coffee for himself. Harry couldn’t help but admire the lines in his strong back despite his rounded shoulders. Viktor’s figure spoke of a quiet grace that only professional athletes achieved. Most would take one look at him and, if they didn’t recognize him, would believe him clumsy or at least ungraceful because of his duck feet and hunched appearance. Harry, however, saw his strong wrists and long fingers move in a quiet dance with his every movement, could sense the inborn power in his frame and feel the lightness with which he moved despite his physique.
When Viktor turned and set the fresh toast on the table, Harry couldn’t help but smile at him. “Henrik,” Viktor whispered down at him before kissing him softly.
“Always taking care of me,” Harry sighed against firm lips before Viktor sat down opposite him. “Ever since we were children.”
“You vere a brat,” Viktor laughed.
Harry only smiled at the fond memories.
“Vhat vas the red-haired vone’s name?” he inquired, returning to the previous subject.
Grimacing, Harry sighed. “Weasel or something.”
“Vorst name I haff ever heard,” Viktor laughed.
“Yes, it is rather grim. He had several brothers and he tried to be my best friend when they kept me at that dark house.” His mind flashed back to the long months when the British government had tried to gain legal custody of him and the English Headmaster had kept him at a secret house with people he said were his parents’ friends. Harry still highly doubted that statement. He liked to believe that the people who had given birth to him had more sense than to befriend the Weasley matron or the confused werewolf who couldn’t decide if he was human or not.
Unlike many who held pureblood ideals, Harry had no qualms with other magical beings. He just couldn’t understand why a werewolf would fight his nature to the point of sickliness.
“He alvays vanted my autograph,” Viktor said of the red-haired boy.
“How lovely,” Harry deadpanned. “He could never decide if he adored or hated you. It was odd.”
“Same during the tournament. Vas he gay?” Viktor inquired.
“I don’t think so. He wanted me to marry his sister.”
Viktor broke into low laughter, his shoulders shaking. “Everyone vants you to marry sister or daughter.”
Harry could only shake his head. “Well, usually I don’t live in a house with her parents and older brothers who all want the same thing.”
“Vhat did the little Veasel think?”
“I don’t know, that she had to cure me? Bring me to ‘the light’? What does that even mean?”
His lover shrugged.
“She was quite upset when I got angry with her once and called her a blood traitor.”
Viktor looked up, startled. “Purebloods?”
Harry nodded. “She then called me a blood traitor because Lily Potter had Muggle parents.”
Viktor’s lips twitched as he attempted not to smile. He knew that his Harry thought little of his birth parents. He respected them and their memory, but they weren’t even that to him. They had left him in the care of the Dursleys, whether accidentally or not, and had intended for him to attend Hogwarts with its manipulative Headmaster. “Vhat did you say?” he inquired.
“I told her Silva Krum was a pureblood, as was our father. The Weasels didn’t talk to me for days.” He paused, thinking back over the ten years that had passed since he had first met Silva and Damyan Krum. It had been ten years ago today when Viktor had first brought him back to the Leaky Cauldron, his clothes torn from the fight with Dudley, his glasses askew, his cheek bruised. So much had changed since then, so much had happened. “Do you think they’ll come?” Harry asked suddenly, voicing his fear.
Their parents had disinherited Viktor after the debacle during the Triwizard Tournament and hadn’t spoken to him since. They had managed to regain custody of Harry after a long and tedious international political mess, and had grudgingly allowed him to attend Viktor’s Quidditch matches as long as he was properly chaperoned. The two had had to live on secret letters and the occasional stolen kiss when Harry could sneak out at night until the day when he had finally turned seventeen and informed his guardians that he was going to live with Viktor.
The international press had a field day when the couple was first spotted in a wizard café a few weeks later, and their parents had refused to speak to Harry for months.
Now, on the tenth anniversary of Harry meeting the Krums, the young man was terrified that the only parents he had ever known wouldn’t come to dinner. He and Viktor had discussed sending them an invitation for weeks. Viktor was afraid they would refuse and hurt Henrik but, in the end, Harry and his need for them won out.
Now they only had to wait and hope that Silva and Damyan could forgive them enough to remember how much they adored their second son.
“I hope so, my Harry,” Viktor responded, thinking back to that day all those years ago—the best and worst day of his life. “I hope so.”
Two. I’m With You.
Diagon Alley, London, Summer 1988 (Viktor 11, Harry 8)
A young boy of about eleven pushed his way through the crowd of wizards as he rushed through Diagon Alley. His dark eyes lit up in joy as he spotted the Quidditch store. His rounded shoulders hunched forward as he slipped between a pair of English witches. He pressed his face up against the glass and stared in awe at the latest British broom model, too busy to heed his mother’s calls.
“Viktor!” a beautiful woman called, her blonde hair swept up elegantly on top of her head. She walked quickly through the crowd, too dignified to run as she suspected her only child’s destination. As Quality Quidditch Supplies came into view, she couldn’t help but sigh. She and her husband had hoped that with a trip to England – a change of scenery – their heir would perhaps learn to broaden his horizons and his love for the wizarding sport might begin to diminish. Viktor, like his father Damyan Krum, was destined to be a major player in the Bulgarian Ministry for Magic. Although the child was still too young to fully tell his leanings toward a future career, it was overly apparent to his mother that if something did not change, then they might have a son who wanted to pursue a career in sports rather than politics.
“Viktor,” she called again, her voice laced with a heavy accent that caused many to turn and stare at her.
A woman with auburn hair and a brood of several small children turned and sighed at the sight of Silva Krum. The mysterious lady was clearly a woman of consequence and held herself with a silent power that the English witch couldn’t help but admire.
“Look, Mum,” her daughter said as she tugged on her mother’s robes, “a fairy princess!”
“Yes, Ginny,” the witch responded absently, “a fairy princess.”
“I’m going to be a fairy princess one day,” Ginny told her mother excitedly, “and then I’m going to marry Harry Potter!”
Twin boys, also with flaming red hair, looked at their little sister and couldn’t help but grin. Their sister was always daydreaming about the wizarding hero, although she had never seen him.
“Did you hear that, Forge!” the first one exclaimed.
“I did, Gred, I did,” his twin answered, laughing. “We’re going to be related to Harry Potter!”
Silva Krum, however, paid no notice to the family as she finally reached her son. “Viktor,” she scolded in her native tongue. “What did I tell you about running off?”
The young boy looked over his shoulder, his eyebrows pressed together, before he turned back to the broomstick that was proudly displayed. “But, Mother,” he began, “it’s the new Cleansweep 270!”
Silva huffed inelegantly. “I can see that, Viktor,” she said, trying to placate him. “But we must be going. Your father—”
“—is at the Ministry,” the child finished.
“I was going to say that he is probably waiting.” Silva knew that there was little chance of this, but she had discovered over the past few days that she did not care for England and she would say nearly anything to get off the British streets.
Her son’s brows furrowed again and he looked longingly at the broom. “May I get it, Mother?” he nearly begged. “It’s at the height of the—”
“No, Viktor,” she cut in harshly. “We have spoken of this before. You already have a broom.”
The glum expression on the child’s face intensified. “But it’s four years old,” Viktor grumbled, placing special emphasis on its age.
“Yes,” his mother agreed, taking her eyes off of the broomstick and looking about the magical alley for the exit, “and it is in good condition.”
“Furthermore, Viktor, the British do not know how to make brooms. We do not even import this—” She glanced again at the display. “—Cleansweep. The workmanship is inferior.”
Viktor looked away and noticed that several witches and even more wizards were staring openly at his mother. He sighed. It was agreed by the Bulgarian Press that his mother was the most beautiful pureblood witch in the country (this did not include half-breed witches with Veela blood who were not uncommon in Continental Europe). She often drew attention wherever she went, which was always an asset when she attended official functions with her husband, who many believed could be the Minister for Magic when Obalonsk retired.
“Father said,” Viktor began to persist.
“Your father is not here,” Silva cut him off. “And he would agree with me. You know this. Now, stop arguing and come back to the inn.” The final word was laced with an unflattering emotion. Silva did not know why her husband insisted on staying like a “local,” as he called it. She would have much preferred an exclusive magical hotel instead of residing above a common British pub.
Viktor couldn’t help but stare longingly at the broom once again. “Please,” he begged quietly. He didn’t want to be the only first year at Durmstrang without a new broom. Although first years often didn’t play Quidditch, he adored the sport, the feeling of flying free above the earth as the world slowly turned, and to do it on the new Cleansweep…
Silva grabbed her son’s hand and pulled him away. “I said ‘no,’ Viktor,” she restated, reminding herself not to frown in public.
Petulantly, the eleven year old withdrew his hand from his mother’s grasp and walked steadily ahead of her. With his shoulders hunched and his head bent down, he made his way quickly toward the Leaky Cauldron. After taking out his new wand, which he had purchased just before his parents had taken him on holiday, he tore through the magical wall and the pub and out into Muggle London.
He took a deep breath and wondered briefly at his actions. Viktor had barely thought of the consequences as he had rushed away from his mother and the constrictions of wizarding society. He had just needed to get out, to get away from it all, even for a few minutes.
His dark eyes scanned the street and he was startled by the bizarre clothes the British Muggles were wearing. He couldn’t help but notice that he looked out of place in his elegant robes. Glancing back at the Leaky Cauldron, however, he realized that he didn’t want to go back to a scolding from his mother and a disappointed look from his father quite yet.
He slowly began to wend his way through the streets, staring avidly at the Muggle storefronts as he passed them. He briefly went into a music store and was awed at the many tiny cassette tapes that held music he had never heard of. For a moment he wished he had some Muggle pounds instead of a few Galleons in his pocket. He moved on quickly when the clerk looked at him cross-eyed when he didn’t understand her kind question of whether he needed any help.
When the sun began to set behind the trees and the restaurants started to fill up, Viktor found himself wandering toward an open park. He leaned up against a tree and watched the English Muggle children playing a simple game with a ball, and smiled bitterly at the thought of the Cleansweep his mother wouldn’t let him get. If only…
“Freak!” a large boy of no more than nine screeched as he ran past Viktor.
The Bulgarian boy shuddered at the venom laced in the unknown word. He watched the Muggle waddle-run—how was that even possible? Viktor thought to himself before shrugging—across the park after a small blur.
“Boy!” a large man who resembled the overweight penguin called from a bench and Viktor looked over at him. He was sitting and devouring a large sandwich with delightas a woman with a horse-like neck sat next to him. Her hair was the same blonde shade as the waddling boy’s and Viktor supposed that they must be a family.
But then who was the blur that was being chased?
The blur began to scamper up a tree, but the Muggle grabbed its leg and pulled it harshly to the ground. Viktor couldn’t help but wince as he heard the thud. He crept closer, wishing that he could perform magic on Muggles, so that he could get them away from what he now knew was a small boy.
Viktor had always been apathetic when it came to Muggles. He was, after all, only eleven, and his father was liberal, for a pureblood, when it came to blood status. Viktor, though, could not understand why a Muggle child would want to beat up another Muggle child.
And then it happened.
One moment the larger boy was crowing over his shoulder at his parents, and the next he looked back to see that the smaller boy, who had broken glasses propped on his nose and the most brilliant green eyes Viktor had ever seen, was no longer before him. The Muggle stared stupidly and Viktor couldn’t help but smirk as he recognized the event for what it was—accidental magic.
Viktor curiously looked up into the tree and saw a very stunned, small wizard hiding in its branches. Viktor’s eyebrows bunched together. Was this child a Muggle-born? That was clearly the only explanation; otherwise he would have known he could accidentally perform magic, wouldn’t he?
“Freak!” the large boy called again, with venom lacing his words. Viktor still couldn’t understand what it meant, but he knew it was derogatory.
What exactly was going on here? Was this a case of Muggle cruelty against a magical child?
He’d heard whispers when his parents thought he was asleep in bed of cases where Muggle-borns were treated with disdain and hatred because Muggles just couldn’t understand what was happening. In Bulgaria there was an alarming rate of Muggle-borns growing up in orphanages when their devout parents gave them away, thinking that evil spirits were controlling them. The problem was even more common in Russia. Did this happen here in England as well?
The Muggle parents were urging their offspring on, and Viktor quietly came up behind the mini-whale, wishing that he knew a good hex. The child in the tree looked down at him and the Bulgarian could see fear in his eyes as he took in Viktor’s strong and older frame. Viktor quickly glanced away again, too afraid to truly recognize the bruises on the other wizard’s bony arms.
Tapping the whale on the shoulder he pointed to the other side of the pond.
The Muggle looked at him, taking in Viktor’s Quidditch muscles—the wizard couldn’t help but smirk at the awe that was clearly betrayed by the Muggle’s features—and said simply, “That vay.” The Muggle boy looked at him askance at his accent and then quickly took off in his bizarre waddle-run.
Viktor huffed. The Muggle was such a simple creature, and so easily diverted.
Glancing over at the parents of the horrible excuse for a human who, thankfully, were now moving away from the tree, Viktor looked up at the branches and smiled at the shaking child.
The boy smiled tentatively back. “H-hello,” he whispered.
“Hello,” Viktor responded in English, glad that he at least knew a few words. Having a politically active father meant that he could greet wizards in several languages, although he could never really understand what they said after that.
When the boy didn’t move, Viktor’s expression softened, and he reached up his arms in invitation. Looking at him tentatively, the English wizard slowly slid from the upper tree branches, until he could climb down into Viktor’s arms.
The older wizard smiled and then took one of the younger boy’s hands, feeling a fierce need to protect the green-eyed youth. Viktor tugged him away from the Muggles who were still looking for him—he would really have to ask his father what “freak” meant—but the boy resisted.
“What—where?” the child inquired and Viktor looked at him hopelessly, wishing he could understand. The green-eyed boy looked over his shoulder again at his “relatives,” knowing that he couldn’t run away. “Who are you?” he asked quietly.
Viktor’s eyebrows scrunched up in confusion. “I don’t speak English,” he said quietly in Bulgarian, willing the other child to understand. His dark eyes took in the small, pale face, the eyes hidden behind the horrible glasses, and all he could think about was keeping this boy safe. With one touch of the boy’s hand, Viktor knew that he would do everything to keep the boy safe and away from the Muggles and, as an eleven year old, the only action he could take was to bring his friend back to his parents.
Friend. The word rolled around in his mind, but he knew it wasn’t quite right. This child was something more, something dear to him.
Smiling at the thought, he pointed to himself and said, “Viktor.”
The English wizard’s face lit up as he realized that his rescuer was introducing himself. “Viktor,” he repeated, making the name sound English.
Viktor couldn’t help but smile slightly. “Come,” he said haltingly. “Safe.” And with one quick look over his shoulder, the small boy followed Viktor away from those who had never loved him.