(Poison04) Nine. Ten. Eleven

Nine. Starlight.

Within a few short minutes of stepping off of the Durmstrang ship, Viktor knew that Hogwarts was his own personal hell.  No matter where he looked he saw adoring faces, the faces of English wizards and witches who, if things were different, would have known his Harry.  These were the halls Henrik’s parents had walked down, where they had possibly fallen in love.

When he entered the Great Hall and settled in place across from Draco Malfoy, of all people, he wondered which house Henrik might have been placed in.  He was so trusting and innocent, and yet he could be cunning and ambitious when the occasion arose.  He was a snake in sheep’s skin, in a way.  He either would have thrived or perished in Slytherin House, which Henrik had excitedly told him about when he had received one of his many letters from Draco.

Draco,” he greeted clearly so that the entire table could hear him after Dumbledore’s rather dramatic speech.  If he were to become a member of the family, then Viktor was going to do this correctly.  “My brother sends you greetings,” he said as he pulled out a letter and presented it to the Malfoy Heir.

A group of girls near them gazed on in interest, a particular pug-faced girl looking almost jealous.

The Malfoy had admirers, then, Viktor thought smugly.  At least Viktor now knew he had excellent taste if he had chosen Henrik.

Draco accepted the missive calmly, though a slight smile played on his lips.  “Thank you.  How is your brother?”

Viktor took a long sip of his sadly non-alcoholic beverage.  He really needed vodka at the moment.  He’d even settle for a weak ale.  “He is vell,” he responded.  “He is vishing that he could haff come to Hogwarts as vell.”

A smirk crossed Draco’s face.  “I’m certain it would only be to cheer on Durmstrang’s undeniable champion,” he toasted before taking a long drag from his own goblet.

A boy with dark skin and slanted eyes looked on in interest.

Viktor tilted his head in recognition of the toast.  “It is true,” he agreed.  “Henrik vould haff no vish to compete.  He is far too much the politician.  Neither do I, actually,” he added.

Draco looked shocked at his words.  “I assumed you would do it – for Henrik.  He,” The Slytherin blushed slightly, “has often written of how you always present a Snitch to him at the end of every game and has begun to wonder what you would present at the end of this tournament – if you were to enter,” he added hastily.

Viktor looked surprised.  “He has written such vords?”

He nodded in response.  “He writes of little else.  Most of his letters speak of you, though I suppose that will be reversed over the next few months.”

Viktor paused and hesitated.  “May I speak frankly?” he inquired, darkly.

Draco looked up at him in shock, wondering what he might possibly say, but inclined his head nonetheless.

“I haff seen the contract –” Draco paled, but Viktor quickly reassured him, “– by chance, off course.  I vould vish to know if your intentions are – how do you English say – honorable.”  He paused, gathering his thoughts.  “Henrik knows nothing as off now, but I vould vish for him to marry for luff and to vone who vould luff him, yes?”

“Dra-Draco?” the pug-faced girl asked in shock, her eyes wide, but he ignored her, instead locking eyes with Viktor’s dark and brooding ones.

The dark skinned boy leaned forward, another wizard by his side looking calculatingly between the two potential brothers-in-law  Theodore Nott had heard briefly from Daphne earlier that year that over the summer there had been introductory talks about a marriage between her family and the Malfoys, but it had not seemed to go anywhere as of yet.  “Astoria is too young,” she had drawled, confident that her mother wouldn’t marry her to someone she disliked as intensely as she did Draco Malfoy.  “It has been suspended for now.”

It appeared, though, that there were other, far more interesting factors at work.

Draco took a deep breath, wishing to compose himself.  “I assure you, Krum, that I have acted both in honor and affection in this matter.  The House of Malfoy holds Henrik in high esteem.  His position – or potential position – in international and British society is secondary to who he is as an individual.  I understand that, of course, there would be political ramifications to such a union, on several levels,” His eyes bore into Viktor’s, relaying the force of his silent message, “but I personally wish to join with him because I fell in love with him even before I knew who he was.”

His strong words resounded across the now silent table as both the Slytherins and the Durmstrang students looked on in shock.  Viktor Krum was notorious at Durmstrang for being overprotective of his younger brother.  Many of the witches said that they couldn’t even approach the youngest Krum for fear of retribution from the international Quidditch player, bemoaning that Henrik was more likely to enter a Muggle monastery than be wed while Viktor was still drawing breath.  This, though, this was absolutely unheard of.  Not only was a marriage negotiation taking place, but Viktor was behaving politely to the candidate, who was foreign – and male.

A few of the older Durmstrang boys smirked.  Well, that certainly explained a few things, and if this contract fell through, well, then there was more than a handful of wizards who would gladly open negotiations of their own.

Viktor inclined his head and took a deep breath, willing his heart to stop pounding so painfully in his chest.  “Vell,” he said again, lifting his goblet in his own small salute, “you may perhaps deserf him.”

Draco smiled openly at him and Viktor could only chuckle. 

“I vill tear you limb from limb if you ever make him cry or hurt him.”

With a gulp of nervousness, Draco nodded.  “I would never hurt Henrik and know that I will not follow the somewhat – accepted – practice of infidelity once an heir is produced.”

Viktor nodded in approval.

“I will never break his heart,” he vowed.

A smirk began to play on Viktor’s lips as he settled back on his bench.  Perhaps, he thought, perhaps this Draco Malfoy might do for Henrik after all.

All the while, his heart was silently breaking as he saw his adopted brother slipping further and further away from him.

Viktor stalked into the empty Great Hall, the blue light of the Goblet of Fire playing off the stone walls and various house banners.  Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin.  Viktor snorted slightly.

Less than a week before he left, Henrik had bounded into the seventh-year dorms with one of Draco’s letters and a full description of each house.  He was determined to sort his brother, and then proceeded to tell him all about each one.

I’m a Slytherin, I think,” he had mused to himself, his bottom lip caught between his teeth, causing a rush of heat to flood downward in Viktor’s already tense body.  The sight of Henrik lounging on his bed should be a sin, he decided.  A nice, torturous sin, but a sin nonetheless.  “I have to be, after all.  I am the Stolen Child and manage to pull off a persona of innocence to everyone who does not know.” 

Viktor had smirked.  Henrik was the perfect conundrum.  He was entirely too innocent in several ways, driving half of Durmstrang to distraction when he tugged on his lips or brushed his long hair over one shoulder.  He had no idea what power he could have over several powerful students just by smiling at them with a slight glint in his eyes.  Conversely, he had seen too much of the cruelty of the world and had matured beyond his years because of it, but he hid it all expertly behind the façade of the younger son of a prominent politician.

“And what am I?” Viktor had asked, teasing.

Henrik had sucked on his lip, thinking as he glanced over the neat writing of the letter again.  “You’re not a Ravenclaw, and Gryffindor is out,” he had mused aloud before looking his adoptive brother over with a critical eye.  “You could be a Slytherin, but I think –” He paused.  “You’re hardworking and extraordinarily loyal. Cunning, yes, but I think the other side of your nature takes over.”  He had nodded in satisfaction.

Viktor had looked at him blankly.

“Hufflepuff, Viktor, Hufflepuff.  A strong, Slytherin-like Hufflepuff, but a Hufflepuff nonetheless.”

At the glowering look on Viktor’s stern face, he had laughed to himself, before launching himself down the stairs with a quick backward glance at the smile that was now forming on his older brother’s face.

Viktor had had more than half a mind to run after him and kiss the smirk off of his angelic features.

He sighed, looking at the Hufflepuff and Slytherin banners.  Who would have guessed that a Hufflepuff, as Henrik declared, would fall in love with a Slytherin?

The thin age line glowed a bright bubblegum pink around the cup that would decide his fate for the next several months.  Although he had been loath to admit it, Draco was correct.  He did everything for Henrik and he wanted to present him with the trophy in the end and purchase him a gift with the prize money, or perhaps save it up for later in case the marriage with Draco did not go through. 

When he had first heard of the tournament, he had played with the thought that perhaps he could purchase Henrik a betrothal ring with his winnings – if he were even to be chosen and then win.  Now, however, that possibility was becoming more and more distant.

He frowned slightly.

An Erasmus Book, then, he pondered.  They cost more than 1,000 galleons.  Ten times that, even, but it would be something Henrik would treasure, being able to gain the pertinent information and research to any question he posed to the magical tome.  Surely, his name combined with the money and his father’s position would open doors for one of the few copies that had survived to modernity.

Slowly, he took out a small piece of parchment from his pocket and gazed down at it.  His full name – Viktor Damyanovitch Krum – was scrawled on it, along with the message he felt he needed to add – for Henrik.  Surely the Goblet would understand his need.  Everything he did was for Henrik and perhaps, a traitorous voice in the back of his mind whispered, perhaps this would prove to Henrik that Viktor was also worthy.

The marriage contract, after all, was not currently binding.

His duck feet walked purposefully through the age line and he shivered as he felt the magic sweep over him until it tingled in his blood.  For a moment, he hesitated, staring at the ancient goblet and the blue flames that licked it magically, before he reached up and placed the small scrap of parchment within it.

Bright green and red shadows played across his features harshly as the goblet erupted into colorful sparks, accepting his plea to be chosen.  After a few moments, he sighed in relief and crossed the line again, noticing the blue half-lights playing across his hands.

“Bravo!” a voice called out from the doorway and he looked up in shock to see the Muggle-born witch from the Quidditch World Cup leaning against the doorway, her dark eyes bright with an unknown emotion.  “I knew you would put you name in.” She smiled.

He only grunted as he stalked toward her, wishing to be away from such a taint as quickly as possible, but she grabbed his arm as he passed.

“Look,” she said hesitantly, smiling up at him.  Viktor noticed that her two front teeth were rather large.  “I think we got off on the wrong foot, Viktor, at the Cup.  It was all just a misunderstanding.”  She smiled and Viktor wanted to vomit.  He seriously hoped she wasn’t trying to be attractive.  It was just so wrong.  “I’m Hermione Granger,” she continued.

He didn’t answer her but, instead, glared at her coldly.  She swallowed, but then smiled again.  “Well, now that your brother’s not in the way, I thought that we –”

“My brother is never in the vay, as you say,” he barked out harshly, ripping his arm away.

“Of course not,” she backtracked.  “I just meant, now that he’s not here, we can talk properly.  I’m not breaking International Law or anything.”

Viktor couldn’t believe her audacity.

“I looked it up, you know.  I can talk to you, and I think we could be friends or –” She shook her head and blushed slightly before continuing, “– so I thought I’d reintroduce myself,” she added succinctly.

“I know who you are,” he stated coldly, “and I haff no vish to know a rude Muggle-born.”

She looked shocked and paled slightly.  “But I-I thought –”

“You thought wrong.”

He turned to leave, but she followed after him.

“Look, I know you don’t know many people here in Scotland, and I thought that I could perhaps show you around, teach you about our culture . . . where we accept Muggle-borns,” she said in a bossy tone.

“Your country does not accept Muggle-borns,” he stated.  “Vhy do you think your Dark Lord had so much power?”

“B-but he’s evil,” she stated.

He snorted.

“You still need a guide.”

He swung around and pierced her with a harsh glare that made her shake slightly.  “I haff no vish to know you,” he repeated.  “If I vish for a guide, I vill ask Draco, who is a particular friend of my family.  Just because I haff much fame, do not think that you know me.  You are nothing,” he ground out, before sweeping out into the night.

Hermione wrapped her arms around herself protectively and tried to stop the tears that threatened to escape her eyes.

Ten. Russian Roulette.

Viktor had known the moment his piece of paper fluttered out of the Goblet that his name was going to be called.  Headmaster Dumbledore looked down at the side he was holding, shocked, before calling out, “And for Durmstrang, a student who has only identified him – or herself –  as competing ‘For Henrik.'”

“If he vould turn the paper over he vould see my name,” Viktor mumbled to his friend Adolf Olsen, before smirking and standing to the applause of the Durmstrang students, who instantly recognized that he was the only student who would proclaim to compete for Henrik, no matter how many friends and admired the youngest Krum possessed.

“Viktor, Viktor!” they began to chant as he rose to his feet.

The delegation from Beauxbatons and the entire student population of Hogwarts looked confused, although a few of them began to whisper among themselves when they recognized Viktor.

Karkaroff sat at the head table with a smirk on his face.  He had never known anyone quite like Viktor Krum.  He had international fame and still he was only focused on his younger brother, devoting absolutely everything to him.

Dumbledore looked at the Durmstrang High Master, confused, and Karkaroff sighed before he stood to his feet and cast a Sonorus Charm on himself.  Smirking, he announced, “And for the Durmstrang Institute and competing in honor off our very own Henrik Ivan Gavrail, I vould present to you, Viktor Krum!”

The days just seemed to blend from then on.  Viktor spent most of his time in the Hogwarts Library, ignoring the giggling fan girls who would follow him about, only a bookshelf away while they debated whether or not they should ask him for his autograph.  Hermione Granger, unfortunately, was often lurking nearby.

He didn’t pay much attention to it, however.  His latest project, apart from preparing for the first task – which, interestingly enough, happened to be dragons – was studying the exact nature of marriage and betrothal contracts.  If Henrik personally signed a contract with Draco Malfoy and was over the age of consent, he learned, it would be legally binding unless both of the signees decided to break it in a dark ritual. If one backed out, they could lose up to fifty percent of their assets and even their future inheritance.

At least, Viktor thought, he wouldn’t have to deal with that particular type of contract for three more years.

If Henrik and Draco signed a contract now, it would be a betrothal contract that would need to be renewed when they reached majority to be legally binding.  If the families were to sign a marriage contract, which he expected was the case in this instance, then the severity of it fell somewhere in between the two other contracts.  At worst, their father would have to pay restitution to the Malfoys if Henrik decided not to marry Draco.  He could live with that.  In fact, Viktor could probably pay the heady fine several times over if it came down to it.

Rita Skeeter, a British journalist, had appeared to become obsessed with Viktor during the Weighing of the Wands ceremony and had even attempted to interview him on the identity of the mysterious “Henrik.”  Several articles had already been published on that particular topic in Great Britain, and the general consensus was that Henrik must be the elusive “Quidditch Boy” whom Viktor had presented the Golden Snitch to at the end of the Quidditch World Cup. 

Because of the Secerno Charm, all photographs of Henrik had come out blurred and fuzzy.  Even the Omnioculor replays showed him as nothing more than an indistinct blur, much to the consternation of prying eyes.

The Weasleys, fortunately, gave him a wide birth – although he caught the youngest, the girl with flaming hair, look at him calculatingly a few times when she sat next to Granger in the Great Hall.

When the day of the First Task finally dawned, Viktor felt an unusual calm take over him.  He barely paid attention when others wished him luck, and even ignored Draco Malfoy – who was trying to tell him something he claimed was important. 

As he made his way down to the Champions’ tent, Draco ran up to him and quickly grabbed his arm.  “Krum, just look up to about the center of the stands, okay?” he said, his grey eyes expressive and unguarded.  “Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.”

Viktor could only nod, his throat feeling like it was beginning to close, and entered the tent.

Henrik, he repeated mentally to himself, you’re doing this for Henrik.

He had a plan.  Ever since he knew it was dragons, he had planned on attacking its eyes and getting past the dragon that way.  He’d never been afraid in his life – at least, not before now. 

What was he thinking going up against a dragon?  What if he was injured and never got to tell his Harry just how important he was to him?

Everything he did, he did for Henrik.  He tried to smile around others because he knew Henrik loved it even if he wasn’t there to see.  He pushed himself at Quidditch, and only flew for the joy on Henrik’s face whenever he caught the Snitch.  He planned, and he saved his Galleons, all so he could build a life for Henrik if Henrik ever wanted it.  He even stepped softly aside when he learned of Henrik’s regard for Draco, and that it was clearly shared.

He would lay down his life for Henrik – but this, this was not the way he wanted to possibly die.  Not as a spectacle in a competition.  Contestants had died in the past – he knew that.  There were technically safety measures but anything could go wrong when there was an angry dragon involved.

Viktor swallowed convulsively, and only half-listened when he learned he had to get the egg away from whatever was in the satchel.  He drew a Chinese Fireball and would go last.

At least he could put off his potential destruction for about an hour, he thought grimly to himself.

He lay down on one of the cots and let his eyes shift half-closed as he allowed the sounds of the crowd to wash over him.  He couldn’t really understand what he heard; all he knew was that there was noise and that he was floating among the roars of dragons and the shouts of the crowd.

A light shake brought him out of his daze, and he looked up to see Karkaroff leaning over him.  “It’s nearly time,” he whispered in Bulgarian, a knowing look in his dark eyes.

Viktor looked at him uncomprehendingly for a moment before he sat up abruptly.  “Off course, forgiff me.”  He flexed his hands, allowing the blood to circulate more smoothly, before grasping his wand in his left hand.

“There is nothing to forgiff,” Karkoff responded before smiling.  “For Henrik, Viktor, although he cannot be vatching you, I know that he is thinking off you this very moment.”

He nodded, a slight smile twisting at his lips, before he unfolded his tall frame to stand.  Although he was not as smooth and graceful as his father, he lacked neither height nor leanness that was imperative for an International Seeker.

“Ready?” Karkaroff inquired, slapping his champion on the back.

The Chinese Fireball was absolutely terrifying.  With shoulders set back in a pose of confidence and a quickness of mind that he developed when playing Quidditch, he battled the fire-breathing monster, sending quick spells at its eyes as he wove around the boulders that littered the recently constructed stadium’s pit.  All active thought was absent from his mind as he reacted purely on instinct, grabbing the golden egg and finishing in the shortest time of the three champions.

The stadium erupted in loud cheers, flooding his previously deadened hearing, and he blinked up in astonishment as if seeing the spectators for the first time.  He grimaced as he noticed the banners some of the Hogwarts witches had produced for the occasion, a very bright pink one even sparkling as it read “Marry Me, Viktor.”  He prayed that Granger hadn’t been behind that particular monstrosity.  He wouldn’t put it past her, what with her obsessive stalking.

Skimming the crowd, his eyes honed in on the center where he saw two platinum blond heads close together.  One was obviously Draco Malfoy and, surprisingly, his father was sitting behind Draco with a smug expression on his face.  Their eyes linked and Lucius Malfoy nodded his head in greeting, which Viktor could only return.  He was about to look away when he saw Lucius incline his head downwards slightly, and Viktor gasped when he saw he was indicating a beaming Henrik, who was smiling right back at him.

“Henrik,” Viktor whispered before rushing out of the pit toward the entrance to the stands, not caring that he left behind the egg he had fought to possess.  His heart beat painfully in his chest, and as soon as Henrik came into sight, jumping down a flight of stairs, he grabbed his adoptive brother and buried his face in his unruly hair.  Lucius Malfoy followed at a respectful distance, watching over the youngest Krum discreetly while casting a Silencing Charm over the two brothers.

“Henrik, Henrik,” Viktor repeated again and again, just reveling in the feeling of Henrik pressed tightly against him.  “I haff missed you so much, my Harry.”

Viktor gently pulled away and looked down into Henrik’s bright green eyes, which were filling softly with tears.

“Vhy do you cry?” Viktor asked, concerned, as his callused fingers brushed up against the corner of Henrik’s eyes.  “Vhat is wrong?”

Henrik shook his head, looking away, but Viktor sought his gaze.

“Tell me, please.”

“D-dragon,” he stuttered out, trying to laugh it off.  “You were fighting an actual dragon.  What would I do if I lost you?”

“I vould never let anything take me avay from you,” Viktor promised as he folded Henrik into an embrace.  “Surely you know that?”

Henrik nodded against his chest, but he still clutched to the back of Viktor’s robes. 

“You vould haff to do a lot more than haff me face a dragon to get rid of me,” Viktor teased, finally earning a laugh from his adoptive brother.  “But vhat are you doing here?  I thought you vere at Durmstrang.  How did our parents let you come?” he inquired, confused.

Henrik pulled away and a shadow briefly passed over his eyes, but it was gone just as quickly as it had come.  Viktor looked down at him, confused, and wondered if he had imagined it.  “Lucius and Father, it seems, have been visiting each other here and in Bulgaria.  Did you know?”  He looked up at Viktor speculatively, his eyes searching for some kind of recognition.

Viktor could only nod.  “It is no surprise.  I haff suspected, but I had no proof off such.”

Henrik waited for a moment, his eyes still searching.  At the stoic and closed look on Viktor’s face, he glanced away.  Shrugging his shoulders, he continued.  “It appears that Lucius wanted to surprise you – I think it was Draco‘s idea, actually – and Lucius promised that I would be safe while I was here for a few short hours.  It is a nice surprise from Draco, yes?” he asked.

“Off course.  A vonderful surprise.  I haff had no idea.”  He tried to smile, but it did not reach his eyes.

Draco writes a lot of you,” he began hesitantly.  “I think he likes you.  Of course he admires Quidditch, but I think it is more than that.” 

His eyes bore into Viktor’s and he saw a flash of recognition, and suppressed a sigh.  Viktor knew then, he realized.  He knew about the marriage contract between the Krums and the Malfoys and, as Viktor was the Krum heir. . . . 

Earlier that day, Henrik had overheard part of a conversation between his father and Lucius when Lucius had come to the Krum fortress to escort Henrik to England.  The two wizards had been sipping Turkish coffee and he had caught snippets of their conversation as he was about to open the door.  “Draco,” “marriage,” “contract,” “a fine match.”  Then the one word that had terrified him more than any other: “Krum.” 

He knew that Viktor had been presented with several potential unions over the past few years, but Viktor had turned them all down vocally.  With this contract, though, he had heard nothing, and now that Viktor was away at Hogwarts and spending so much time with his friend Draco – it made a certain kind of sense.  Henrik had been aware that Lucius and his father had been having lunch together about once a week for several months, and now he knew why.  This contract must have been several months in the making, and as Viktor was not objecting to it, surely he must want it.

Looking objectively at the situation, Henrik could not deny that his friend was handsome, if one liked blond hair.  He was aristocratic, a pureblood, intelligent, and friendly.  He was cool like Viktor, so perhaps they would compliment each other well.  And who could not want Viktor?  He had thought to himself bitterly.  Viktor was perfection in his eyes, and he could not blame anyone for wanting him.

“You like Draco, yes?” Henrik asked quickly, pulling himself from his thoughts.  “I would be content if I knew that you liked him.”

Viktor squeezed him tightly and forced himself to smile.  “Off course I like him.  He is your friend, yes?”

“Yes.  But apart from that.  You do like him?” 

His eyes were imploring and large, and Viktor couldn’t help but nod in the affirmative.  “Yes, Henrik, I approfe off Draco.”

Henrik smiled weakly, his eyes glinting with determination.  “That is all I needed to know.  I am content,” he confessed before burying his head in Viktor’s chest, willing the tears back as he thought that he just might lose his brother forever in a few short years.

Unknown to each of them, both of their hearts were silently breaking.

Eleven. Fall for You.

Viktor stared at his Headmaster incredulously.  It was nearly a fortnight after the First Task, and he thought he had nothing to worry about since he had already discovered the secret of the golden egg.  He had begun to take long swims in the Black Lake, mapping out the terrain with the use of a partial transfiguration.  All he had to worry about was living through the next few weeks in the presence of Draco Malfoy – whom Viktor was beginning to hate more and more just on principle – before he could go home for Yule to his parents and his beloved Henrik.

Now, though, that plan was falling through the air as if it were a Wronski Feint – without a broom to save it at the last second.

Excuse me?” he growled.

Karkaroff sighed.  “I’m sorry, Viktor, I really am,” Karkaroff replied in halting Bulgarian.  Russian, after all, was his native language and he’d never quite grasped the other language when he tried to speak it.  “It is, however, required.”

The champion glared at him.  “So, not only am I not permitted to return to Sofia for Yule,” he ground out, “but I must attend a Ball, bring a date, and dance with her.”

The Durmstrang Headmaster felt his stomach sinking.  He knew that nothing good could come of that tone.  “Yes,“he responded hesitantly.

Viktor closed his eyes in frustration before exhaling loudly.  “Very well.  I will go to this Ball, but I refuse to dance with anyone.”

Viktor,” Karkaroff began, but Viktor cut him off.

“No, sir.  Yule is a time of rejoicing and I have nothing to rejoice.  I will not dance.”

He sighed.  “I’m sorry, but the rules state that you and the other champions must open the Ball.  Henrik would want

“Do not bring my brother into this,” Viktor snapped, his eyes flashing viciously.

Karkaroff swallowed.  He was afraid of few – people – on this earth.  His former master was one of them, and the others were the Krum brothers when they were separated against their will.  They were absolutely terrifying in such a situation, and although he would never be able to prove it, more than one student over the years had ended up in their Hospital Wing suffering from nerve damage that suspiciously resembled the Cruciatus Curse.  The only thing these victims had in common is they had recently verbally disparaged Henrik Krum to either his or his brother’s face.

This situation was so much more serious than a simple insult.

“Viktor, my hands are tied.  You simply must do this,” he tried again only to have Viktor stare at him coldly before getting up from his chair and exiting the room with a deadly quiet of a powerful and angered wizard on the brink of cursing someone.

Karkaroff let out a breath he hadn’t even realized he was holding, relieved.  A twinge in his right forearm brought his gaze to the covered Dark Mark and he frowned at it briefly, his mind now turning to the missing savior of the wizarding world and the probability of whether or not he personally would survive if his old master were to rise again.

The entire Durmstrang student body knew that Viktor Krum was sullen at best whenever Henrik was somewhere else.  This was true in his classes, when he was around his friends, when he had to go practice with his national team all weekend and Henrik couldn’t go.  It was never more true than when Henrik’s petition to be a member of the Durmstrang delegation was denied, primarily because his father refused to let his son out of the country.  Now, though, it was even worse if that were even possible. 

When Viktor actually entered the castle, he stalked around the corridors and glared at anyone who dared to approach him.  His fan club, however, still followed him around regardless, determined to “cheer him up.”  They were all hoping that the Viktor Krum would ask them to be his date to the upcoming Yule Ball.  Hermione Granger just sniffed at them, but she told Ginny that she just knew Viktor was going to come round.  He couldn’t hold the fact that his brother couldn’t talk to her against her forever.  At least that’s what she thought.

Time passed, however, and soon the Hogwarts students were asking each other to be their date to the ball.  Ginny Weasley grudgingly agreed to go with Neville after Hermione turned him down, saying she already had a date when she did not.  Ginny knew she couldn’t go with sweet, affectionate Henrik.  Sadly, he was in Bulgaria.

About a week before the Ball, Hermione became desperate.  Viktor still hadn’t approached her, although she was sure to always be studying in his line of sight in the library, hiking her skirt up slightly at one occasion, when she caught him glancing at his giggling fan girls one too many times.

She finally managed to corner him near the restricted section where he was looking over a letter broodingly, mumbling to himself about whether the sender had lost their mind since it appeared they had suggested he take Draco Malfoy of all people to the Ball.

Pushing her confusion to the side, she approached and said sweetly, “Hello, Viktor.”

He looked up at her, startled, and quickly folded up the letter; she noticed that the signature said it was from Henrik.  Ah, the brother.  Well, it was time to take Viktor’s mind off of him.  “Looking forward to the Yule Ball?”

He glared at her darkly, but did not answer.

“It’s certainly going to be exciting,” she said, trying to initiate an actual conversation.  “I’m particularly looking forward to it.  It will be a great way to get to know foreign students.”

“You are bold,” he stated after a pause.

She smiled sweetly, hoping it was a compliment.

“I am not liking bold vitches who follow me around.”

“I don’t follow you, Viktor, I just like the library.” She stared him directly in the eyes as she lied.

He practically growled at her, but she crossed her arms and stood her ground.  “Then vhy are you speaking to me vhen I haff told you I do not vish to know you?”

“Just being friendly,” she said with a shrug.

“Be friendly elsevhere, then.”

She sighed and turned her head to the right, glancing coyly back at him.  The movement worked for Cho Chang when Hermione had seen her giggling with Cedric Diggory.  Surely, it could work for her as well.

“So,” she began casually, “who are you taking to the Ball if – as you claim – you do not wish to know me?”

“That,” he said darkly, “is none off your concern.”

Hermione blushed.  “You’re not going with anyone then?”

Viktor stared at her incredulously.

“Excellent!  Neither am I, so perhaps we could . . .”

“No, ve could not,” Viktor snapped before getting up and walking away from her.

“Viktor!” she called out, but he kept on walking, purposefully slamming the library door in her face. 

She barely made it back to the Gryffindor common room in tears, where she learned that she couldn’t even go with her friend Ron Weasley as he had managed to ask Parvati Patil.

A rather irate Minerva McGonagall entered the Great Hall the night of the Yule Ball just before the champions and their dates were set to enter.  She had specifically told High Master Karkaroff that Viktor Krum was to open the ball with the others, and he had turned up, stoic, impeccably dressed in formal robes – and without a date.  She had asked him whom he was to escort and he had stared at her silently before looking away. 

Fleur Delacour had cooed over him, asking him if he was alright, and he had only nodded his head once.  “Zee young lady you ‘ave weeshed to take would not come with you?” she inquired softly.  She had become rather fond of the Durmstrang Champion as he never openly lusted after her and treated her with respect that she rarely received unless it was connected to her Veela allure.  The fact that he was surly and generally unpleasant hardly bothered her at all.  She merely believed he suffered from a lover’s quarrel.

Viktor shook his head.  “I could not ask.  The person I vish to escort is back in Bulgaria, and if I could not escort that person, then I vill not escort anyvone at all.”

McGonagall stared at him in horror.  “But you must escort someone.  Surely there is a Durmstrang student, perhaps, that could enter and then dance with you?” she asked in desperation.

Viktor shook his head.

Mais non!” Fleur exclaimed.  Eet ees truly romantic!  I commend you, Monsieur Krum, for your faithful heart.  ‘Ooever possesses eet ees truly charmed.”

Unfortunately, the Ball was set to begin and McGonagall had been forced to enter the Hall and watch as first Cedric Diggory with Cho Chang, Fleur Delacour with Roger Davies, and then Viktor Krum alone processed into the hall before taking their seats.

It was even worse when he remained seated when the other two champions stood and began to dance.  He ignored the sympathetic looks he received from his classmates who could partially guess the reason for his behavior.  They all knew he had wanted to spend Yule with his younger brother and that he was livid he was forced to attend a social event without him instead. 

Many girls, including Hermione Granger, glared at him angrily, but he simply looked out of the window wistfully.  When the tables were all cleared away, he took to standing against the wall away from the dance floor, drinking Butterbeer.  He would occasionally exchange a few words with his friends, but he just looked sullenly about him and refused to dance with the brave witches who would ask him.

Without making a sound at all, a figure appeared at the gates of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, dressed simply in black wizarding robes, a small Portkey clutched in his hands.  Looking up at the castle, he quickly ran through the gates, toward the courtyard where he was hoping he would find a Durmstrang student – any Durmstrang student – to go and fetch his adoptive brother for him.

Tears splashed down his face and his hair fell hazardously in his eyes, but he simply didn’t care. He had to see Viktor, he just had to before he took another breath, and he simply could not come across Draco Malfoy.

“Poliakoff,” he called as he rounded a corner and spotted the Durmstrang student snogging a pretty brunette in a bush. 

Poliakoff looked up blearily and his eyes widened comically when he saw Henrik.

I must see Viktor immediately.  Could you go and get him?”

When the other student didn’t move, still shocked, Henrik whispered, “Please,” begging him with his eyes to do as he asked.

“Of course,” Poliakoff responded, releasing his date from his grasp.  “I’ll return momentarily.”

Henrik began to pace anxiously back and forth, ignoring the witch who was looking at him with open curiosity.

“You’re the ‘Quidditch Boy’,” she stated in English, but Henrik ignored her completely.

At the sound of footsteps, he looked toward the doors and sighed in relief when he saw Viktor rushing out to him.  “Henrik,” he whispered when he took in his adoptive brother’s tear-stained face.  “What is wrong?”

The British witch looked between them in interest, but Poliakoff gently tugged her away.  “Come, Pansy,” he said.  “This is a family matter.  Ve should not be here.”

She sighed in exasperation, but allowed herself to be led away.

“Viktor,” Henrik said desperately as he buried his face in Viktor’s shoulder.  “Oh my God, Viktor, how did this happen?”

“What happened?”
Viktor demanded, terrified that something had happened to Henrik while he’d been away and unable to protect him.

“Y-you know that I love you, right?  More than anything?” He looked up and searched Viktor’s face. 

Viktor sighed in happiness, although he was still worried.  “Of course.  And I will always love you.  I do everything for you, you know that,” he attempted to soothe.

Henrik nodded absently, biting his lip.  “I He looked up guiltily before glancing away again.  “I didn’t know it was for me.”

I do not understand. Ne razbiram,” Viktor stated, confused.

“I know.  I-I’m sorry.” He took a deep breath and looked Viktor in the eye.  “I heard Father and Lucius talking before the First Task.  They were speaking of a marriage contract, and I thought – I assumed – and then you said you liked Draco when I asked.”

Tears welled up in his eyes and began to fall again, but Viktor quickly brushed them away. 

“Yes,” he confessed, “I saw a finished copy of it in Father’s office the day before we left for Durmstrang.”

Henrik looked up at him with haunted eyes.  “Is that why you were angry with me?” he asked in a small voice.

He shook his head.  “I wasn’t angry with you, Henrik, never.  I was angry that the contract had been drawn up.  Don’t you want it?  I thought you wanted it.  That you knew.”

Henrik broke down sobbing and Viktor clutched him, not fully understanding, but just thankful that Henrik was in his arms, seeking comfort from him and no one else – that he had come to Hogwarts to seek comfort from him and not Draco Malfoy.  “I didn’t know.  I didn’t know about the contract until last month, and I thought it was for you.  And you wanted it.  You said you liked Draco and he always wrote about you, so I thought He sobbed against his adopted brother’s chest.

Viktor stiffened and pushed Henrik gently away from him.  “My Harry,” he said huskily.  “Look at me.”

Henrik was still shuddering, tears falling from his eyes, but he forced himself to still and look into Viktor’s eyes.

“I do not want to marry Draco.  I never did.  I thought you did, and I would support you in anything you wanted.”

Henrik shook his head adamantly.  “I-I don’t want to. Never.  Draco is a friend; I don’t want – I never wanted – Obicham te, Viktor.  Sche te Zavinage obicham.  I thought you knew that,” he whispered brokenly.  “I want to spend the rest of my life with only you.”

Viktor’s heart soared at those few short words, but Henrik continued, not allowing him to speak.

“They just sprung it on me, Viktor.  The Malfoys were there, well, not Draco, but Lucius and Narcissa.  They said wasn’t it wonderful and they began to sign this large parchment – it was horrible – and I tried to stop it, and I think I did for now, but they wouldn’t listen, Viktor.  Why wouldn’t they listen?”

Viktor kissed his forehead, closing his eyes in pain.  “What did you say?” he murmured.

“I told them I didn’t want to live in England, but they told me I wouldn’t have to.  Then I said that I was too young, but they said I could wait.  I told them I didn’t want to, but they insisted that I liked Draco and wouldn’t listen when I told them I liked you more.  Mother said you were my brother.  And you are.  You’re the best brother I could ever want, but you weren’t at first. You found me. You’re mine.  My Viktor.”

Viktor clasped the boy to him and just hugged him tightly.  “And you’re my Harry,” he whispered against his hair.  “The contract doesn’t matter.  I researched it.  As long as you don’t sign anything when you turn seventeen, they cannot force you, my Harry.  I luff you,” he said solemnly, switching into English. “I haff alvays loved you.”

Henrik quieted in his arms and they just sat there, knowing that sooner or later, someone would come to find either him or Henrik.  But he didn’t care in that moment.  Henrik did not want to marry Draco and maybe, just maybe, the affection he declared might turn into the kind of love Viktor craved with every fiber of his being. Without knowing it, Viktor fell in love with his Harry all over again in the presence of starlight and the soft glow of fairy magic.

Bulgarian to English Translations.

Ne razbiram. I don’t understand.

Obicham te, Viktor.  Schte te Zavinage obicham.  I love you, Viktor. I will always love you.

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