Author’s Note: Viktor Krum and the Harry Potter universe are the creation
of J.K. Rowling. I don’t own a thing.
Thank you to Zsenya and Jedi Boadicea, my faithful betareaders!
Chapter 1: On the Far Horizon
Viktor urged his broomstick higher into the sky and closed his eyes as
it leveled out, letting the late afternoon sunlight warm his face. It
was a relief to be back in Bulgaria,
back in these familiar mountains where he could fly for hours without
being seen by anyone. It had been a week since he’d left Hogwarts, but
he still savored this time each day, when he could be completely alone
with the sky.
It was different here, different from the spacious Quidditch pitch and
wild forest around Hogwarts. Beautiful though those places had been, these
mountains would always be first in his heart. They were his home.
He opened his eyes and blinked against the light. He had reached the
peak of the mountain–it was time to turn around, lest he be spotted by
one of the Muggles from the small village on the other side. He was safe
as long as he stayed on the north face of the mountain, and it was rare
that he ventured this far up. But today he had felt the need to see the
valley spread out before him, to feel the warm southern wind against his
face while the sun shone on him, unobstructed by the trees.
Viktor hovered by the mountain’s peak, peering down toward the Muggle
village. The roofs were so close together that it was difficult to see
the narrow lanes running between the houses, but he could just make out
small figures moving to and fro among the buildings. There was an open
area toward the end of the village--the market, he remembered, from the
few times he had accompanied his father to the village on various errands.
He had been too young to realize the purpose of those errands back then,
but now he knew that his father had been gathering information about the
movements of the Death Eaters for the Bulgarian Ministry of Magic--casually
trying to determine how much the Muggles knew or had figured out, and
whether any memories needed to be modified. Did those people down there
have any idea of the danger they faced each day, just by being what they
Unlikely. Viktor turned his broom toward home, absentmindedly
executing a Morrison Double Flip. Which way was better: to know the danger
and realize the precariousness of one’s own position, or to remain blissfully
“I wanted to tell you...that I do not think you should come to Bulgaria
this summer...it is too dangerous, after all that has happened. Especially
for you.” She’d known it was true; he’d seen the knowledge of it in
her eyes before she had looked away.
Which way was better? He wasn’t sure. But surely either was better than
knowing the danger and choosing to ignore it, as his mother had done.
On the night of his return from Hogwarts, he had finally told his parents
the entirety of what had happened the night of the third task–all of it,
even the part that still made him flush with shame. His father had accepted
the story silently, face drawn. It was almost as if he had expected it.
Then again, Viktor wasn’t surprised; his father’s work as a researcher
for the Ministry often meant that he was aware of things long before others
in the wizarding community were.
His mother, on the other hand, had worried and fussed just as he had
known she would. And when Viktor had told them about the return of You-Know-Who,
about Dumbledore’s certainty on the subject, his mother had refused to
believe it. Viktor knew, from the sad look his father had given him, that
this too was no surprise to him.
Things had been tense in the house since that night. His mother insisted
on acting like nothing was wrong, like nothing had changed, and his father
would not say a word to her on the subject. “It is pointless,” he had
said to Viktor later. “Your mother is afraid to believe it. If she believes
it, it will become real, and she cannot bear that.”
Viktor wished he had the luxury of denial, but he had seen too much for
“The more people who believe it, the more who will be willing to fight
it,” Dumbledore had said.
He landed near his house with a grimace. If I could deny it happened,
then I wouldn’t need to do anything about it. But what could
he do, really? What kind of power did he really have? If he couldn’t get
his own mother to understand, how could he possibly hope to influence
He pushed open the front door and went inside. The long front room was
completely deserted, and Viktor walked through it, not caring about the
mud he was tracking across the white carpet. He would use a scouring charm
to clean it up later, hopefully before his mother saw it. He was halfway
up the stairs to his room when her voice stopped him.
“Viktor!” Her voice was coming from the back part of the house. Viktor
pulled his wand from his robes and muttered a spell to remove the mud
from the carpet. His mother appeared in the kitchen doorway. “I thought
I heard you come in,” she said, her smile a little too bright, as it had
been all week.
“I was flying,” he said.
“I know.” She gave him a sad look, then brightened again. “There is someone
in the fireplace for you. Your friend, Ivan.”
Viktor frowned. “Is something wrong?”
“Wrong? No, I don’t think so. Come talk to him.” Viktor started down
the stairs, and his mother let out a short exclamation. “Your boots! You
must clean them, Viktor. I am surprised you did not track mud everywhere.”
“Tergeo,” he said, and the mud disappeared. His mother
“Come along. Ivan is waiting.”
Viktor nodded and followed her into the kitchen. The grinning face of
Ivan Pashnik looked out at him from the fire. “Viktor!” Ivan cried.
“Ivan.” Viktor leaned on his broomstick. “Is everything all right?”
Ivan grinned again. “You could say that it is.”
Viktor frowned. Ivan knew as well as he did that You-Know-Who had come
back. What could he possibly have to be so happy about? Viktor glanced
at his mother, who was hovering in the doorway. “Have there been any attacks,
near you?” he asked pointedly. His mother looked almost offended, and
she turned and left the room.
“No. Not yet, anyway.” The humor had gone out of Ivan’s voice now, and
Viktor turned to look at him. “You heard about the attacks near Eger
two days ago?”
“Yes, I heard. Is Edina–”
“She is fine. Actually, she has been here with me since Tuesday.” Ivan
cleared his throat. “That’s...what I wanted to talk to you about.”
“What is it?”
Ivan looked off to the right and smiled. “Edina
and I have some news. We wanted to tell you sooner, but we thought our
parents should know first. We’re getting married.”
“Married. You know, when two people–”
“I know what it is.” Viktor’s tone was sharper than he’d intended. “But–now?”
“Soon. August the eleventh, to be exact.”
Viktor frowned. “But what about–”
“The attacks?” Ivan’s face had gone uncharacteristically serious. “We
decided we didn’t want to wait. Especially not now.”
Viktor understood. If he had someone...like that, in his life, he wouldn’t
want to be away from her now either. He thought briefly of Hermione, miles
away, and frowned. It wasn’t the same, he knew, but he couldn’t help but
worry about her.
“...wanted to let you know,” Ivan was continuing. “You’ll be the best
man, of course.”
Viktor was jolted out of his thoughts. “Me?”
Ivan laughed. “Yes, you. Unless you don’t want to...”
Viktor took a deep breath. “I would be honored.”He dropped his shoulders
and looked at Ivan. “Thank you for asking.”
Ivan smiled. “Who else would I ask? Edina’s
cousin will be the maid of honor. Maybe you can find some romance...unless
you have someone else you’d like to bring the wedding?”
Viktor winced at the obviousness of the question; however else Ivan Pashnik
had changed over the last year, he certainly had not learned subtlety.
“No,” he said.
“Ah. Have you heard from–”
“No.” Viktor had written to her the day after he had returned home, but
he had not heard back from Hermione yet. He wondered how often “friends”
wrote to one another.
“Oh.” Ivan was silent for a moment. “I’m sorry, Viktor.”
Viktor looked up in surprise. Ivan had never said anything like that
to him before.
“I...don’t be,” he said gruffly. He cleared his throat. “Congratulations
to you. And to Edina too.”
Ivan nodded, still looking serious. “I will tell her you said so. And
“Perhaps Edina and I could
come visit before the wedding. Sit in on one of your Quidditch practices,
perhaps.” He grinned. “I have been trying to explain the excitement of
Quidditch, but she argues with me. I need to make sure she understands
the joy of Quidditch before I can marry her.” Ivan’s tone was jovial and
light, but Viktor knew the motive behind his words. They were checking
up on him again, just as they had done all year. For some reason, it no
longer irritated him as it used to.
He cocked his head to one side, considering Ivan’s suggestion. “I think...I
would like that.”
Ivan laughed. “Good, because we would have come anyway.”
Viktor shook his head. He didn’t doubt it.
“I have to go, Viktor. You...take care.”
Ivan’s head disappeared with a pop, and Viktor stood looking into
the flames for a long moment. It hadn’t come as too much of a surprise
to hear that Ivan and Edina planned to marry so soon–after all, Ivan Pashnik
was nothing if not impetuous. It was obvious, though, to anyone who knew
them that what Ivan and Edina
had was nothing ordinary, that they truly loved each other. With a pang,
Viktor thought of a pair of warm brown eyes that would never give him
the kind of looks Edina gave
Ivan. Friends. He had accepted that she didn’t want to be his,
that she never would be...and yet, a part of his heart still held tight
to the image of her, in his arms at the Yule Ball. The idea of giving
her up had been so much easier than the everyday reality of it. He allowed
himself a brief vision of Hermione, dressed in white lace, her hair pulled
back the way it had been at the ball–
No, he told himself. He couldn’t think like that. He had to find
a way to let her go. Somehow.
I received your letter and I am glad you got home safely. How are your
parents? I suppose they are glad to have you home again.
I have been spending this week drawing up a summer study schedule for
myself. There is so much to go over before school starts again, and the
O.W.L.s are going to come up so quickly. I want to make sure I am ready.
Oh, and if you think of it, would you mind sending me the name of that
Transfiguration book you told me about—the one that talked about high-stress
transformations? I know I wrote it down in my notes somewhere when we
were talking about it, but I can’t find the title now. My parents are
letting me go to Diagon Alley with the Weasleys in a few weeks, and I
thought I would look for it in Flourish and Blotts.
I hope everything is going well. Take care of yourself.
Viktor stared at the letter, wondering if he would ever get used to this.
Still, she had written back to him fairly quickly; it had been a week
since he had sent a letter to her, and he had half-expected to wait all
summer for a reply. It was as if she understood that he had been worried
about her safety, and needed to hear that she was all right.
His owl, Branimir, was waiting on the bedside table, watching him with
unblinking eyes to see if he would send a response. What was there to
say, though? He couldn’t say the things he really wanted to say
to her; he did not want to embarrass himself by repeating them any more
than she wanted to be embarrassed by hearing them. He sighed and folded
the letter, putting it on the table.
“No reply for now,” he told Branimir. “Go rest.” The owl blinked at him,
then flew back to the window. Viktor heaved himself up off of the bed
and pushed the window open. Branimir squeezed through, and, moments later,
caught an updraft with his wings and soared out over the trees. Viktor
watched him until he was out of sight, then turned and threw on his robes.
He pulled on his boots and crossed the room to carefully remove his Baranof
from where it rested on pegs above his bed.
It was earlier than he normally went out to fly, but that didn’t matter.
It had been some time since he had seen his mountains in the dewy morning
light, he realized as he emerged from the house and looked up. The trees
directly behind his house were a riot of blues and golds. He didn’t know
what kind they were—some magical variety his mother had planted and maintained.
In the autumn, instead of falling, the leaves transformed into small butterflies
that swarmed around the house for several days and then disappeared into
puffs of smoke. These had always been in his favorite trees as a child.
Further up the slope, the trees consisted mainly of firs, most of non-magical
varieties. It wasn’t unusual, however, to find an occasional Jumping Juniper
or Higbottom Hornbeam. The presence of these moving species helped fuel
the rumors in the Muggle village that the forest was haunted, which in
turn, ensured that the Muggles kept their distance.
Viktor mounted his broomstick and kicked off hard from the ground. He
rose sharply, then turned toward the east. There was a copse of beeches
over that way where he liked to practice his precision flying, weaving
between the slender trunks. He let himself rise again until he began to
feel dizzy, then slowly descended and leveled out just above the treetops.
I hope everything is going well. Take care of yourself.
Hermione’s letter flitted through his mind, and Viktor sighed into the
morning breeze. He wondered if he should just send her the book she wanted—after
all, he didn’t need it anymore—or if that would be…too much. He was, apparently,
very good at making her uncomfortable, and that was the last thing he
wanted to do now. Would this ever get any easier?
Viktor dove and came up in a Campos Spiral to vent his feelings. As he
came out of the last loop, he looked down and froze.
There, in the clearing below, was a dark-haired girl. Her face was turned
up to the sky, and she was staring straight at him. He was low enough
to see her shocked expression and the way her mouth hung open in surprise,
and these left no doubt in his mind.
She was a Muggle.