Grazhir :: Crossover :: Kalpa :: 12

31082014-01092014

12

Viktor was waiting when he awoke, which was surprising. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and yawned, smiling in bemusement when his boyfriend helped him out of bed by drawing the covers back so he would not become entangled. On his way through to the trunk’s secret rooms he grabbed a change of clothing, Viktor following, and included his boyfriend in the time turner’s field of influence before spinning back a day.

After his shower and once he was seated at the table in the kitchen for breakfast he was finally awake enough to say, “I absolutely do not mind that you’re with me on this repeat. But what prompted it?”

“Can’t I just want to spend time with you?”

Harry favored him with a semi-sarcastic patient look and forked eggs into his mouth.

“All right. I wanted to get in some extra practice and perhaps talk about the next task.”

He nodded. When they did make it out to the practice room he said, “I didn’t get a chance to do my Occlumency last night, so can we start with that? Then talk?”

Viktor was agreeable, so for the next hour there was silence. Once they were both back in the here and now his boyfriend said, “All I know or can guess is what I said before, that you will probably be a hostage to me and placed somewhere in the lake. You have already said you have that enchantment, so I don’t need to fear you drowning, at least. I expect, based on what I’ve been able to turn up about the lake, that the merpeople will be keeping an eye on you as part of some agreement, so I shouldn’t need to fear the creatures down there getting to you. I know there are at least grindylows present. The giant squid isn’t hostile.

“I’ve thought about what you offered. My original thought was to do a partial transfiguration to give myself the capability to breathe underwater. I could easily do a bubble-head charm or use gillyweed, but those aren’t all that complicated and probably won’t do much for my score. The problem with the transfiguration is that what came to mind was a shark and having given it more thought, and knowing it would be you down there, I realize that my vision will be messed up.”

“So what were you thinking instead?” he asked curiously.

“I could use illusion instead, in combination with an enchanted item for waterbreathing. Make it still appear I’m doing the transfiguration, but my sight would be unaffected. Well, that depends in part how clear the lake is, but you get my meaning. Either way I will have to start going into the lake to check the conditions and see how to believably maneuver around the illusion so there’s no suspicion. I know Dumbledore speaks Mermish, so I don’t doubt he’s got some kind of deal with them and that they’ll probably report what happened after everyone is back so they can decide on the scores.”

Harry pursed his lips as he envisioned what Viktor was saying, and nodded. His wrist came up so he could send a message to his mother, but he paused. “What would you like the item to be? Or, wait. I could just have a link done and we swap it in for a blank on your bracelet?”

“That sounds fine. I’ve been wearing the bracelet for a month now and aside from some comments during the first couple of days nobody has paid it any further attention. Changing a link shouldn’t make it any more obvious.”

“Okay.” He started tracing a message onto one of the silver strips and then sent it. “We should have that soon enough. Certainly in time for you to get in the practice you need. Maybe I should ask Tom to intimidate the living hell out of Karkaroff to make sure none of my gear is removed before I get dunked. I assume Karkaroff will be the one coming to get me, or Kozlov. On the other hand, that might make Karkaroff think he could use me against Tom.” He wrinkled his nose in uncertainty.

“That might depend on when they come for you.”

He bit his lip. “What time does the task start again?”

“Half nine,” Viktor said promptly, “so they would either have to come for you the night before, or in the morning, perhaps right after breakfast. That would be cutting it close, though, and for all I know having food in your stomach might react badly with whatever it is they plan to do. And, they would have no guarantee of getting the hostages situated unseen if they waited until morning. I’m betting on the night before.”

Harry shivered at the thought of being in the depths of the lake overnight. Viktor noticed and started to say something, but Harry cut him off. “It’s fine. Maybe instead . . . at one of the team practices—I’ll go to an extra—I can portkey home and whip up a couple of things. While I sincerely doubt they’ll strip us down and re-clothe us, I could do something like. . . .” He trailed off, thinking. “On the other hand all this speculation and planning on my part may be for nothing and you end up rescuing your broom or something.”

Viktor snorted in amusement. “All right. I will trust that you will adequately prepare yourself, just in case it’s necessary. A large part of me says it won’t be necessary, but it’s always possible something could go wrong.”

Pelk wandered in and handed Harry a package. He thanked the elf and opened it, pulling a greenish link from it which he showed to his boyfriend. The wrappings were set aside on the end table. Viktor slid his bracelet off and examined it carefully. “Do you have any tools to pry a link open with?”

He squinted in thought, then set the link on the table and got up to rummage in the kitchen. He returned with a knife and a pair of scissors. On sitting down he placed the knife beside him, picked up the link, and inserted the scissors, carefully spreading them. With his now free right hand he grabbed the knife, still spreading the scissors, and when a slight gap had appeared in the ring he slid the knife in and twisted, opening it more. “This would be easier with pliers,” he muttered. The knife went back onto the sofa cushion and the scissors were placed next to it; the link went back onto the table. “I think you can get one of the edge ones easily enough.”

Viktor picked up the scissors and started working on one, so Harry grabbed the new link again and examined it, then began manipulating it so the gap was back to front, not side to side, so it would be easier to force it closed again once it was in place. A minute later Viktor held out a hand and exchanged links with Harry, and shortly thereafter the bracelet was back on his wrist. Harry put the blank link in a safe place and returned the knife and scissors to the kitchen.

“You wanted to practice?” he asked, brow furrowed.

“Yes. I wanted to try doing what you do, this mastery of wizarding spells. What process have you been following?”

“Oh, okay.” He explained it as Tom had explained it to him and Viktor took over half the room. Harry started with his Alteration-Restoration combination, preferring to get that out of the way first. He was so used to doing it that he was able to sit there and observe his boyfriend, who was a bit distracted at first given the flashy spells Harry kept casting, but quickly enough got into a rhythm of his own.

Pelk alerted them when it was time for lunch. Afterward they started in again, straight through until dinner. “Please say we’re done for the day,” Viktor said a bit plaintively.

Harry grinned at him and nodded. “You get used to it, but even then it’s tedious and sometimes a struggle to keep your mind on track. I spend the evenings reading for pleasure. Well, unless there’s some homework I haven’t managed to get finished on normal days. I don’t know if you noticed, but there’s a bookcase in the bedroom with a fairly wide selection in it.”

“I’ll check after we finish eating,” Viktor replied, looking relieved. Looking over the titles later on Viktor was moved to ask, “Any suggestions? None of this is familiar to me.”

“Er. . . . Fantasy might be best. A lot of the other stuff may go right over your head. Let’s see.” He ran his fingers over the spines until he found a likely one, and tipped it out. “Try this one.” For himself he grabbed the book he was part way through from his bedside table and brought it out into the main room. Normally he read in bed; this had not come up the previous time because they managed to talk steadily all the way through until it was time to sleep.

He did, after they were dressed for bed, think that they both deserved a little treat after working so hard all day. “You can share the bed with me,” he told Viktor. “I can’t imagine the sofa was all that comfortable last time.”

Viktor shot him an uneasy look, so Harry rolled his eyes. “Sleep, Viktor. Your virtue is safe with me,” he said dryly. “I’m too young for anything really interesting and I’m not about to push the issue—much. It would be nice to kiss you before we settle in to sleep, though.”

The uneasy look cleared and Viktor nodded. “Acceptable.”

“If you end up doing more repeats, though, we can always add a second bed, or have something that can be easily transfigured into one as a temporary measure,” he suggested. “Though, I expect we ought to seek permission beyond the occasional instance. I think my mother would blow her stack otherwise, and Tom would be disappointed in me.”

“Agreed. And I do not plan to in any case. I will, however, continue with the practice in and around other things.”

“All right,” he said, then went back into the bedroom and slipped under the covers. As Viktor was joining him he added, “Pelk will wake us in plenty of time to hide in the kitchen so we don’t run into the other me. May I have my good night kiss now?” he asked teasingly, blushing a little despite himself.

Viktor chuckled and pulled Harry close. Harry drifted off to sleep a short time later feeling happy.

During January Viktor was often in the lake when not otherwise occupied, and he was careful to never make it obvious that he was capable of breathing underwater without any visible means to do so. He was also very careful, as he told Harry, to never do anything there if he was aware of another champion in the vicinity. It is a little harder to cast underwater,he commented one day, but not by much. That surprised me.

Harry had replied, Well, at least you won’t drown while testing your strategy.

January flowed into February and Luna was making noises about convincing her father to transfer her to Durmstrang, in part to escape the bullying by her fellow Ravenclaws. For whatever reason it seemed her head of house, Flitwick, was either uninformed or negligent. And, considering that Luna herself had tried to broach the subject, one had to wonder just what was going on. Had Flitwick consulted his prefects and been assured of their action, thus leaving it in their “capable” hands? Or did he know and believed that Luna ought to stick up for herself? He was part-goblin, and while Harry was loathe to assume the man shared every single attribute with his non-human kin. . . .

Draco continued to press the issue with his parents of a transfer, with Dudley’s support. Draco made it a point in his letters, after ensuring his own understanding of how wand classes worked at Durmstrang, of stressing that information in comparison to the rather simplistic teaching methods of Hogwarts. And really,he said to Harry, his German having gotten even more fluid under Dudley’s tutelage, mother can mention all she likes about her being worried at me being so far away if I go there, but I’d still be home for every holiday. It’s not like I’d be without friends there.

A letter from his mother informed him that Snape had taken to writing her on a weekly basis. She was partly exasperated by this, she said, but also a bit intrigued. One of the very first things he had done during that initial meeting was to apologize most profusely for having once called her a “mudblood”. In his letters he was being almost chatty, filling her in on the years since, though avoiding any mention whatsoever about the Dark Lord, something she said she found inordinately amusing. In some ways it was weird for him that his mother was being so candid, but at the same time it made him feel a bit proud that she felt she could with him.

Tom had sent word that he had finally met Serana and escorted her to Valdis, though he did not stick around through their visit. He had, however, given her a set of portkeys and explained their use, plus how to bond them. Harry was thrilled; he really wanted to meet her.

The day before the task finally arrived and Harry went about his day feeling more than a little anxious. He had a backup enchantment for waterbreathing and one for regulating temperature and was wearing both, though he did not expect to be whisked away until the evening. Viktor gave him covert looks of understanding, but did not actually speak of the upcoming event. The only other preparation he made was to exchange his usual boots for a spare pair—if they became ruined, so be it—and parts of his usual clothing for non-leather versions.

They were on their way back from dinner when Karkaroff called out to him from behind. Harry stopped and turned. Yes, headmaster?

Come with me,Karkaroff ordered. There is an issue.

Harry adopted a worried look and nodded, pausing long enough to turn back and arch a brow at Viktor and slip him his wand and bracelet, then headed over to the headmaster, who then led him away. Once in the man’s office—and truthfully, Harry felt more than a little creeped out being there alone with him—Karkaroff said, You’ve been chosen to help with the second task.The man’s wand came up—and the next thing he knew he was coughing out a mouthful of water and experiencing the disorientation of having no idea where he was or where all that noise was coming from.

Harry, you’re all right,Viktor assured him softly. We need to get you up on the dock.

He blinked and tried to focus, reaching up to push the hair away from his face and the water from his eyes. Right,he said slowly.

Viktor nodded to someone and grabbed Harry around the waist and gave him a boost. Kozlov was there to take Harry’s hand and pull him up, then sling a blanket around his shoulders. Viktor was beside him in the next minute, also with a blanket, and they were hustled off to a nearby tent. Healer Ahlberg was there, wand already casting charms to dry them off and warm them up. The blankets were swapped out for new ones and a bag was thrust at Viktor.

Ahlberg cast a few more spells, nodded, and disappeared for a moment only to return with mugs of hot chocolate. Viktor took a minute to get dressed with clothing from the bag, then took up one of the mugs and sipped. Hey, drink,he urged.

Harry blinked, still feeling strangely disoriented. Even so, he reached out and carefully picked up the mug with both hands and took a sip. I feel really weird. I hope this passes soon.

Ahlberg did not seem concerned,Viktor replied, but I will call him back if you prefer.

He took a deep breath and released it before saying, Let me finish this first and then we’ll see.

Viktor nodded and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. Harry slowly drank down his hot chocolate, gradually feeling better. I think I’m all right. I’ll go see Ahlberg later if that changes. It’s really, really weird to blank out and come back like that, to such different conditions and to so much noise. Were you first?

So far as I know, yes,Viktor said with a grin. You ready to go back out? I have cloaks for the both of us.

All right, yes.He set the mug down and stood, allowing Viktor to ease the cloak onto him. Viktor put on his own and took his hand. They arrived outside just in time to see Diggory emerging from the water with his hostage. Delacour was also out of the water, but no hostage was in evidence; she was crying. Diggory and the girl he brought back were hustled off as soon as they were back on land, so rather than stare at the water Harry chose to scan the stands.

His gaze alighted on Dudley, who noticed and sent him a thumbs-up, then shifted to the side to see his mother looking relieved. Petunia was also there, looking rather uncomfortable. A look around the judges’ area revealed that James Potter was present and looking vaguely annoyed. He quickly looked away and back toward the water. What time is it?he asked quietly.

Viktor cast a quick tempus. Ten-thirty. I estimate I took forty-five minutes based on that.

He considered and nodded. Sounds about right. I hope this is done soon. Even with those charms my socks are squishy. I think I’ll take a hot shower once we get back.

Well, remind me to give you your things,Viktor said. Or rather, from Dudley. He stored them in his trunk.

He smiled and squeezed Viktor’s hand. Thank you for taking care of them for me.

It was another fifteen minutes before Edward surfaced, dragging his red-haired hostage with him. She flailed around a bit in the water before realizing she was fine and in no danger of drowning. Behind them surfaced several merpeople and Dumbledore crouched at the edge of the water to begin a conversation with what seemed to be the chief merperson, a particularly wild and ferocious-looking female.

More merpeople surfaced, this time with a female child between them. Delacour let out a cry of surprise and relief and waded in to help remove her from the water. The girl was obviously Delacour’s hostage and, by the looks of it, probably her sister.

Finally Dumbledore straightened up, turned to his fellow judges, and said, “A conference before we give the marks, I think.” The judges went into a huddle.

Harry leaned against Viktor as he covertly watched Edward and their father. James continued to look annoyed and appeared to be arguing with his brother, who looked to be arguing right back. Harry wondered if James had not provided as much help as his brother might have wished and was subsequently disappointed when Edward didn’t perform as well as hoped.

Ludo Bagman’s magically magnified voice boomed out, startling him, and causing the crowd in the stands to go very quiet. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached our decision. Merchieftainess Murcus has told us exactly what happened at the bottom of the lake, and we have therefore decided to award marks out of fifty for each of the champions, as follows. . . .

“Fleur Delacour, though she demonstrated excellent use of the Bubble-Head Charm, was attacked by grindylows as she approached her goal, and failed to retrieve her hostage. We award her twenty-five points.”

There was a polite round of applause from the stands.

“I deserved zero,” said Delacour throatily, shaking her head.

“Edward Potter used gillyweed to great effect,” Bagman continued. “He returned last, and well outside the time limit of an hour, but he did retrieve his hostage. That being so, we award him thirty-five points.”

There was another polite round of applause. James Potter’s somehow managed to sound sarcastic.

“Cedric Diggory, who also used the Bubble-Head Charm, was second to return with his hostage, returning at fifty-five minutes.” Enormous cheers sounded from the Hufflepuffs in the crowd; Harry saw Cedric’s hostage give him a glowing look. “We therefore award him forty-three points.

“And finally, Viktor Krum used an incomplete form of Transfiguration, which was nevertheless effective, and was first to return with his hostage. We award him forty-seven points.”

Karkaroff clapped particularly hard, looking very superior.

“The third and final task will take place at dusk on the twenty-fourth of June,” continued Bagman. “The champions will be notified of what is coming precisely one month beforehand. Thank you all for your support of the champions.”

Harry smiled and looked up at Viktor as Diggory, Delacour, Edward, and their hostages were herded away by the Hogwarts matron. Ahlberg appeared again and gestured for Viktor and Harry to precede him to the castle. Good. So that’s it until the end of June. And you’re in first place so far.

Viktor smiled back, his arm around Harry’s shoulders as they walked. I am definitely not disappointed in myself thus far.

Back at the castle and up in Durmstrang’s tower, Harry gratefully entered his room and shrugged off his cloak, and stripped off his sodden boots and socks. He wiggled his toes, looking up when Dudley burst into the room.

You seemed okay! Are you?Dudley asked.

I’m fine. I’m going to take a shower, though, which is funny since I’ve been submerged all night.

Dudley smirked and crossed over to his trunk, pulling open one of the compartments and fetching something out. A few seconds later he walked over and handed Harry his wand and bracelet. There you go. Viktor had me store them because of the protections on our trunks.

Thanks, Dudley.

Hey,Viktor said to Dudley, Will you stick around for a bit until Harry is back out? I have to at least put in an appearance at the party already forming.

Of course,Dudley assured him. We’ll be down in a bit.

Viktor nodded, smiled, and quit the room, so Harry slid his bracelet on temporarily, tucked his wand behind his ear, and grabbed his socks and spare boots. Pelk would take care of those for him. Okay, I’ll be out in a couple.And he was, ten minutes later, with once again cozily warm toes, and properly dressed and geared up.

They headed down to the ground floor of their tower, where the seventh years had again expanded the room to handle so many people, and hunted down Viktor. Harry slid in beside his boyfriend and stole the butterbeer out of his hand. Viktor scowled playfully at him as Harry took a long swallow.

Bergfalk laughed and grabbed another butterbeer to hand to Viktor, who accepted it with a nod of thanks. So, proud of our Viktor?Bergfalk asked.

Of course!he replied. He’s doing himself and our school proud. I just wonder how they’ll set up the final task.

Well, we think it’s a maze,Bergfalk said.

Harry nodded. Based on past tournaments. So do they all go in at the same time or. . . ?

Maybe Viktor will get a head start because he’s in first place?Dudley suggested. And I figure, since they axed quidditch for the Hogwarts teams, they might be using the pitch for it.

Not a bad thought,Viktor allowed. I lean toward getting a head start, myself. Otherwise they would have to design something that allowed each champion to enter from equidistant locations and yet not have anyone with any particular advantage getting to the goal.

Mm. Delacour has sixty-five points right now. Let’s say she got wherever first and got the full fifty. That’s one hundred fifteen. You have ninety-three, so you’d only have to get twenty-three points to still beat her overall score. Assuming they don’t do something silly like say whoever gets there first is the winner, other points aside.

Well, I plan to do my best to be the one,Viktor said firmly.

I wonder how much we’ll be able to figure out ahead of time,Bergfalk said thoughtfully. If they make a maze it could, in theory, be flown over.

That’d help with what route to take,Dudley said, but to manage it without being seen? And that doesn’t say anything about what obstacles might be included.He paused, then added, Draco has mentioned some beasts their Creatures professor has showed them in class. Word is Hagrid created them by cross-breeding manticores and fire crabs.

Viktor shuddered. Can you find out more, please?

Sure,Dudley said with a nod. And without hinting. Draco is, technically, rooting for Diggory, even if he’s badly wanting to transfer to Durmstrang. And really, Diggory isn’t making a bad show of it so far, and he’s only a sixth year.

He’s really not,said Poliakoff, inserting himself into the conversation. Delacour is a bit of a disappointment, though. Even that Potter kid is doing better, and he’s treating the whole thing like an excuse to showboat.

Did you see him fighting with his father afterward?Bergfalk asked. I was a bit shocked.

It looked to me as if Potter was annoyed his son wasn’t doing better,Harry said. Maybe he’s embarrassed that he went to the trouble to cheat his son’s way into this and his performance is disappointing.

Not living up to the hype of the Boy-Who-Lived, you mean?Poliakoff said.

Harry shrugged and drank more of his butterbeer.

A lot of his identity seems to consist of that status,Viktor said. If he doesn’t live up to it, then who is he really? Does anyone really even know?

There seemed to be no answer to that, or not one that any of them was willing to say. Harry drained his butterbeer and motioned for another one, which Bergfalk was happy enough to get for him. A bit later they all trooped down to lunch. And, as they sat at the end of the table nearest Slytherin, Draco made sure to get a spot at his end, so they could at least converse without outright switching tables.

As he was turning to answer something Draco said his gaze passed over the Hogwarts head table and he noticed that Snape was eyeing him. ‘That could get creepy after a while,’ he thought, then said, You can always see if your parents would let you visit. I don’t think my mother would mind.」 ‘It would,’ he thought, ‘make it a little difficult for me to practice, though, but I guess I could just keep to my repeats in the trunk if he’s visiting.’

Ask her, please? I’d rather not say anything unless I know it’s all right.

He nodded. I’ll send her an owl and let you know. Any progress on convincing your parents?

Oh, I don’t think father would mind, but mother is harder to talk around if I can’t give her the right look,Draco said with a faint smirk. She’s kind of a sucker for that look.

He noticed that Snape kept eyeing him and said, Your head of house keeps looking this way. Do you think he’s not okay with you being so friendly with Durmstrang students?While Draco was distracted he took a few bites of his roast pork, chased it with some vegetables, and had some tea.

Huh. That’s a little weird. I wouldn’t have thought he’d care.

‘And maybe now the man will realize he’s not being discreet enough.’

You can share my room if it happens,Dudley said, having to speak a little louder given that he was sitting on the other side of the table.

What would you like to do this afternoon?Viktor asked quietly.

He had more of his meal, thinking, and said, I don’t really know. It’s not like we can pop off to a cinema to watch a film or visit a zoo or amusement park. We could always rejoin the party that’s sure to start back up, but. . . .

How about a quiet afternoon, just talking, or reading?Viktor suggested.

They repaired to his trunk (since he would already not be able to do a repeat of the day due to using the shower earlier) and chose books, settling in on the sofa, but after a while Harry asked, “So, how far are you willing to go?”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“As a couple.” He looked over with a sly smirk.

“Harry, you tempt me too much,” Viktor said ruefully.

He let his book flop down onto his lap and shifted so his back was against the arm. “I wonder sometimes how old I actually am after all these repeat days. Maybe I should do the math. By my quick reckoning I’m already fifteen.”

“That may be true, but you are still a minor and I am not,” Viktor reminded him. “I will be eighteen in just over two months. Besides, I made a promise to your mother.”

He rolled his eyes and groaned. “Oh, all right. So how far?”

Viktor let out a groan of his own and replied, “The clothes stay on.”

“I can think of some interesting loopholes to that,” he said, smiling innocently.

“Harry,” Viktor said, trying for stern.

He leaned over and set his book on the floor and scooted forward, bringing his face near Viktor’s. “Yes?”

Viktor stared at him, still trying to be stern, then swiftly dropped his book and grasped Harry by the shoulders and pushed. Harry ended up on his back with Viktor hovering above him. “I’ve changed my mind again,” Viktor said. “I’m back to thinking Slytherin for you.” Then he leaned in and kissed him breathless.