The Sugar Quill
Author: Elanor Gamgee (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Moody Slavic Man  Chapter: Chapter One: Watching Her
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The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Author’s Note: None of this belongs to me. This story is based on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling and will feature "offstage scenes" as well as scenes from the book reinterpreted from Viktor’s point of view. (This is a companion piece to "Hermione’s Fourth Year".)

Special thanks to Zsenya for finding me a picture of Viktor’s home, inspiring the title, betareading, double-checking my dialogue, and being a general resource on all things Slavic. Thanks also to Moey for her ridiculously thorough knowledge of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and to Jedi Boedicea and B Bennett for betareading.

This is dedicated to Arabella, for falling in love with a fictional Bulgarian. :-)

***

Part 1: Watching Her

Viktor stared down at the Advanced Transfiguration textbook on the table in front of him. She was back. He’d known she would be, of course. That was why he had come to the library today in the first place. That was why he had come to the library nearly every day for the past month.

It hadn’t started out that way; in the beginning, he had merely used the immense Hogwarts library as a place to go when the Durmstrang ship grew too confining, or when Karkaroff’s rhetoric about how the honor of his school rested upon Viktor’s shoulders became too much to bear. He had come to Hogwarts for this tournament not expecting much, other than to compete. He certainly hadn’t expected to experience feelings like this—and about a girl with whom he’d never even spoken.

The girl had settled herself at a table across the library and begun poring over one of the books from the large stack in front of her. Viktor watched as she absently twined a strand of her curly brown hair around her finger, then stopped to scribble something in a notebook. She looked completely absorbed in her work, and Viktor wondered if she would even notice if he spoke to her.

At that moment, the girl looked up, and Viktor quickly returned his gaze to the book in front of him. It was ridiculous, really, that he was acting this way. Why couldn’t he just go and talk to her? She was alone now. When he’d first seen her in the library, she’d always been with that Harry Potter; Viktor had assumed that he was her boyfriend, and had stayed away. He’d heard rumors about the two of them as well.

He did know her name, of course: Hermione Granger. He’d seen it in that article in the Daily Prophet, the one that had confirmed his suspicions about her and Potter. But in his mind, he always thought of her as "she", or "the girl". He wasn’t sure why.

He almost felt like he knew her, though they had never spoken. He had spent so much time watching her. He knew, for instance, that she was very studious and cared about her schoolwork. And he knew that she hated the presence of his giggling fans nearly as much as he did—she frequently rolled her eyes and left the library when they appeared. In fact, that what was had first captured his attention. One day he had been sitting at his table, trying to ignore the high-pitched laughter coming from behind a row of bookshelves, when he had heard a loud tutting noise. He’d looked up to see the girl glaring at him, as if the interruption had been his fault (which, he supposed, in a way it was). He’d wanted to apologize to her, in that moment, but had found that he couldn’t. She had spoken briefly with Harry Potter, who’d been seated at the table with her, then had gathered up her books and left the library, brown curls swinging behind her.

But ever since the first task, she’d been coming to the library alone every day, something Viktor found both delightful and frightening. It meant he no longer had an excuse not to approach her.

Viktor gritted his teeth and shook his head in disgust. Why was he making this so difficult on himself? Why couldn’t he just learn to like one of the girls who followed him around, instead of becoming fascinated with one who clearly disliked him already? He sneaked another look at the girl. She was reading her book once again, apparently oblivious to everything else.

Viktor glanced around the library. It was the middle of the day, right after lunch, and the room was fairly empty. A boy and girl wearing black Hogwarts robes were having a quiet conversation in the far corner behind a row of bookshelves, but he and the girl were the only ones occupying the study tables. There was no sign of the gigglers. He’d never have a better chance to approach her than he did right now.

Pushing his chair back, Viktor took a deep breath and stood up. He closed his book carefully and tucked it under one arm, all the while not looking at the girl. He knew he could do this. He had faced a dragon, after all. Why should talking to a girl be frightening?

Viktor walked toward her table. She was still looking down at the book in front of her, and as he got closer he could see that her lips were pursed in thought. He was about a meter away from her table when she looked up and saw him walking towards her.

Talk to her, Viktor ordered himself, as he saw her eyes narrow, almost suspiciously.

But his mouth did not want to cooperate. Neither did his legs, apparently, because they carried him right past her and out the door of the library.

 

******************

 

Foolish, foolish, foolish! Viktor berated himself as he threw his Transfiguration book down on his bunk. Why hadn’t he been able to talk to her? She was just a girl after all.

No. Not just a girl, he thought. Those gigglers, they were just girls. She was…something else.

Viktor leaned against the wall of his cabin, arms crossed, staring out the porthole at the castle in the distance. She was up there, probably still sitting at her table in the library, reading her book. He could see her in his mind, the way she would quickly turn the page, as if eager to see what new information awaited her. She’d probably been relieved that he had passed her without speaking; after all, he was from Durmstrang. The look she had given him—

A knock on his cabin door interrupted his thoughts. "What is it?" he called tersely, wishing that the person on the other side would just leave him alone.

"Krum! Open the door!" called a far-too-cheerful voice. Viktor groaned.

"Go away, Pashnik."

"Krum! Stop playing the moody Slavic man and let me in."

Viktor rolled his eyes and reluctantly opened the door. Ivan Pashnik, a shorter, fair-haired boy, burst into the room.

Viktor folded his arms again. "What do you want?"

"You heard about the ball?" Pashnik said.

Viktor frowned. He had no idea what Pashnik was talking about. Then again, this was nothing new. Ever since he had entered Durmstrang Institute, Ivan Pashnik had appointed himself Viktor’s best friend. Pashnik’s enthusiasm never wavered, even though Viktor rarely spoke to him and generally preferred to be left alone. Pashnik was always trying to make him laugh, something which Viktor found incredibly annoying.

Pashnik was grinning at him. "The ball?" he said. "The Yule Ball? The traditional Yule Ball that is part of the Triwizard Tournament?"

Viktor unfolded his arms and stared at Pashnik.

"And the champions lead the dancing," Pashnik continued, his grin growing wider. "The champions and their partners. I saw you storming in here just now. I thought you’d heard."

Viktor frowned again. "No. I had not heard," he said absently. He was thinking of the girl, and how he now had the perfect excuse to approach her. He wondered what she would say if asked her to attend this ball with him? Would she even consider it?

Pashnik seemed disappointed in his reaction to the news. He wandered over to Viktor’s bedside table, where the golden egg from the first task sat. "Have you learned what this means yet?" he asked, picking up the egg and turning it over in his hands.

"No," said Viktor. "Do not—"

But it was too late. Pashnik had opened the clasp on the side of the egg, and hideous wails filled the room. Viktor strode across the cabin in three long steps and snatched the egg, closing it quickly.

"What was that?" said a girl’s voice at the door. Viktor merely grunted in response, unwilling to start any more conversations at the moment.

Pashnik, however, turned toward the door with an enormous smile on his face. "Edina! That? That was the wailing of my heart when I am away from you!" He moved toward her, arms outstretched.

Edina, a pretty girl with light brown hair, swatted his hands away, giggling. Viktor flinched at the sound.

"Ivan, come help me," Edina said imploringly. "Josef’s Puffskein has made the water overflow again, and your Drying Charms are so much better than mine." Viktor shook his head. Poliakoff had thought it was clever to teach his pet how to turn on the taps in the bathrooms with its tongue. Unfortunately, he hadn’t been able to teach it to turn them off.

Pashnik turn to Viktor with a wink. "I have work to do," he said in a mock-solemn tone.

Viktor gladly closed the door behind them. He sat down on his bed, thinking about the news Pashnik had given him. A ball. Now he would definitely have to speak to her. He couldn’t imagine who else he would ask to be his partner. There were only three girls in the Durmstrang party, and Edina was the only one he could stand. And she would certainly go to the ball with Pashnik.

Enough, he thought, looking down at the golden egg he was still holding. You will ask her the next time you see her. Now stop thinking about it. You have work to do.

But he couldn’t help glancing out through the porthole again, up toward the castle where he knew she still sat, completely unaware of him.

//
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The Sugar Quill was created by Zsenya and Arabella. For questions, please send us an Owl!

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