The Sugar Quill
Author: Elanor Gamgee (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Moody Slavic Man 2: Bright in an Azure Sky  Chapter: Chapter Two: Morning Star
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Thank you to Jedi Boadicea for betareading, and for helping me channel my internal Bulgarian Muggle

Thank you to Jedi Boadicea and Zsenya for betareading, and especially to Jedi B. for helping me channel my internal Bulgarian Muggle.

 

 

Chapter 2: Morning Star

 

 

Viktor hovered in mid-air, staring at the girl.  He had to act fast, he knew, or she would run back to the village and tell everyone she met what she had seen.  He couldn’t let that happen.

 

But he also couldn’t very well cast a Memory Charm on her until he had gotten to the ground and hidden his broomstick.

 

Viktor pulled his wand from his robes and pointed it at her carefully.  “Impedimenta,” he said, and the girl froze in place, staring up at him.  Of course, she had seemed frozen to the spot in surprise before he had even cast the spell, but he couldn’t count on that lasting.

 

Viktor soared over the girl’s head, and could see her frightened eyes following him.  He felt a pang of guilt at this, but reminded himself that she would not remember any of this soon, and she would be better off that way.  He descended into the trees and made a smooth landing on the forest floor.  After taking a moment to cast a protective charm on his broomstick, he set it to hovering inconspicuously in the branches of a nearby beech and turned toward the clearing.

 

He crept out of the trees.  There was no apparent need for secrecy, as the girl was still frozen in place with her back to him.  However, if his time at Durmstrang had taught him anything, it was to be suspicious of any situation that seemed innocent or under his control.  Viktor scanned the area.  It was quite likely the girl was not alone - the rumors about the woods meant that the Muggles usually came up in groups, when they bothered to come up at all. 

 

There were no signs of others, however, and Viktor turned his attention back to the girl.  A large notebook of some kind lay on the ground at her feet, its pages bent as if it had been dropped in a rush. 

 

“What...” said the girl, in a strangled voice. 

 

The spell was wearing off.  Viktor took one last look around the clearing and stepped forward.  “Obliviate!”

 

The girl shook her head.  Viktor thrust his wand back into his robes and turned, hoping to get back to the cover of the woods before she saw him.

 

“Oh, hello.”

 

Viktor winced and turned around.  The girl was facing him, her expression still slightly dazed.  When he had seen her from above, he had thought her to be about twelve or thirteen, but now that he was close to her, the curves of her white blouse and blue flowered skirt made it quite clear that she was older than that.  Her dark hair fell in soft ringlets, stopping just above her shoulders, and he was close enough to see that her eyes were dark blue.

 

“Hello,” replied Viktor.

 

The girl smiled, the expression looking almost dreamy in her still-bemused state.   She glanced down at the notebook.  “Oh!” she said, bending to pick it up.  “You must have startled me.  I didn’t hear you behind me.”

 

Viktor breathed an internal sigh of relief.  The Memory Charm had worked.  “I am sorry.  I did not mean to - ”

 

“Oh, that’s all right.”  The girl smiled again and shook her head as if to clear it.  “Sometimes when I am drawing I don’t hear anything.  My father says it is as if I am in another world.”  She looked down at her notebook, smoothing the pages that had been bent.

 

Viktor watched her as she carefully turned the pages, looking utterly absorbed.  He was reminded of Hermione, and he frowned at his own thoughts.  Why did everything have to remind him of her?

 

But this girl seemed...softer, somehow.  Much as he cared for Hermione, there was a hardness to her manner sometimes that could be intimidating.  He felt guilty for thinking such a thing, but then, he reminded himself, it hardly mattered now.

 

“What are you doing up here?” he asked.

 

“I just came to draw,” she said.  “I love the forest in the morning.”  She turned and gazed up at the surrounding trees.  Viktor recognized the look on her face.  She felt at home in these mountains, the way he did.  This forest, she felt, was hers.

 

He frowned.  “I have never seen you here before.”

 

“Oh, do you come up here often?  I thought I was the only one.”  She smiled sheepishly.  “My sister thinks I will be caught by the ghosts, but I only tell her that she is being silly.”  She paused and cocked her head to one side.  “Are you from the village as well?  I have never seen you there.”

 

Viktor swallowed.  He should have crept away while she had been absorbed with her notebook.  “It...is a long walk from the village.”

 

The girl laughed, and the sound of it startled him.  It was like a soft wind rustling the beech leaves – something that crept up on you, but was not at all unpleasant.  “You sound like my father.  I like the walk.  It gives me time to think.”  She paused.  “But you did not answer my question.”

 

Viktor looked instinctively behind him, back to where his broom hovered.  He wondered whether he could get back to it quickly enough to avoid being seen, if he cast another Memory Charm on her.

 

“You are not from the village, are you?”  The girl narrowed her eyes and took a step backwards.  “What are you doing up here?”  She looked around warily, as though she suspected he would do her harm.

 

“No, I...I was just going for a walk,” said Viktor quickly.  For some reason, the thought of her believing him capable of harming her was discomfiting.

 

She continued to eye him suspiciously, and Viktor found himself stumbling to offer her explanations.  “I...I do not live in the village.  You are correct.  I live up here, in the mountains.”

 

The girl’s mouth dropped open.  “But no one lives in these mountains!  Everyone knows these forests are haunted!”

 

Viktor raised his eyebrows at her.  “I thought that you said such beliefs are silly.”

 

“Well...they are, of course,” she said, looking embarrassed.  “But...I did not know that anyone lived up here.”

 

There were actually about a dozen wizarding homes scattered throughout the mountainside, with the Krums’ being the largest.  All had Muggle-Repelling Charms placed around them, so it was easy to see why she wouldn’t know about them.

 

Viktor pondered how he should answer her, and decided to go with simplicity.  “I do.”

 

She nodded, her eyes roaming over his dark brown work robes.  A look of sudden comprehension appeared on her face.  “Oh!” she said.  “Are you a brother?”

 

Viktor frowned.  What a strange question.  “No, I am an only child.”

 

She gave him an odd look.  “I...see.”

 

Viktor fidgeted slightly.  He had the feeling he had just said something wrong, but he didn’t know what.  He knew he would probably have to cast another Memory Charm, but he found himself unwilling to do so.  He wasn’t sure why. 

 

“What is your name?”

 

Viktor started.  It had been quite some time since he had had to introduce himself to anyone.  Usually people already knew who he was, and what they wanted from him, before he even entered a room.  “Viktor,” he said.  “My name is Viktor Krum.”

 

She smiled and stuck out her hand.  “And I am Rositza Christova.  It is nice to meet you, Viktor Krum.”

 

Viktor shook her outstretched hand, subconsciously noting how small and soft it was next to his own Quidditch-roughened one.  “How old are you?” he blurted out, before he had decided to ask the question.

 

“I am nineteen years old,” she replied, and looked down.  Viktor realized that he was still clutching her hand, and let go abruptly.  Rositza bent her head to her notebook again, and Viktor thought he saw her smile shyly before her hair fell in front of her face and obscured her expression.

 

They stood there in silence, the awkwardness of the moment hovering around them, and then Rositza looked up at him.  “And you?”

 

Viktor had no idea what she was talking about.  “I...?”

 

“How old are you?”

 

“Ah.  I am eighteen years old.  I will turn nineteen in October.”  He wasn’t sure why he had volunteered this information; it had certainly never been his way in the past.

 

“I see.”  Rositza beamed up at him, as if he had said exactly the right thing.  Viktor looked back at her, slightly bewildered but pleased, nonetheless, to be the recipient of her gentle smile.

 

Viktor was suddenly vibrantly aware of the forest around them, the trees swaying in the morning breeze.  Birds were twittering in all directions, and, from high above, the cry of a lone vulture could be heard.  The sun shone down on the clearing, catching Rositza’s dark curls and highlighting them with auburn.

 

Then a cloud passed across the sun, and the moment was broken.  Viktor and Rositza both moved suddenly, she to examine her notebook, he to look up, feigning interest in the bird of prey that still circled high above.

 

“I...I suppose I should be getting home,” said Rositza.  “It is a long walk.”

 

Viktor nodded, relief mingling with disappointment as he watched her turn to go.  “Be careful,” he said.

 

She turned back to him.  “I will,” she said, smiling slightly.  “Perhaps...perhaps I will see you up here in the forest again, Viktor Krum.”

 

And then she was gone, darting through the trees before he could even respond. 

 

Viktor walked back to where his broom waited for him and pulled out his wand.  “Accio Baranof,” he said absently, and the broom dropped into his grasp.

 

He decided to walk at least part of the way home, to make sure that he wasn’t spotted again.  Once he was further up the mountainside, he cast a Revealing Charm to make sure there were no Muggles nearby.  There weren’t, so he mounted his broomstick once more and rose into the air.  He shoved his wand into the pocket of his robes, and frowned as it rustled against something.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of parchment – Hermione’s letter.  He must have shoved it into his pocket without thinking, as he had left his room that morning. 

 

Viktor let his broom hover in the shadow of a large fir tree and swept his eyes over the parchment. 

 

I hope everything is going well.  Take care of yourself.

 

He would write her back, this he knew.  But all the things he had wanted to say to her this morning, the things he had forced himself not to write, seemed suddenly less urgent, less...painful. 

 

Viktor held up his hand, loosening his fingers so that the wind tugged the parchment from his grasp.  He watched it flutter away into the forest below.  Then, taking a deep breath, he nudged his broom higher, above the trees, so that he could feel the sun on his face.

//
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