Grazhir :: Crossover :: Kalpa :: 13

01092014-02092014

13

Harry received a letter from his mother which expressed a certain amount of exasperation with Snape. “He’s started to ‘subtly’ ask questions about you,” she wrote. He glanced up at the Hogwarts head table and saw that Snape was eyeing him again. He flashed the man a rather insincere smile, saw him blink, then looked back down to the letter. She also wrote that having Viktor to stay for part or all of the summer was fine with her, though she doubted he would be able to stay the entire time, and that Draco was also welcome to visit. The remainder was just the usual sorts of things and nothing in particular of importance, so he passed the parchment over to Viktor.

Dudley, mum says it’s okay for Draco to visit if he can get permission,he said, then focused on his breakfast, knowing his cousin would take care of letting Draco know.

A minute later Viktor handed the letter back and said, That poor man must be going a bit crazy.

Yes, well, unless he manages to convince my mother of his sterling character and trustworthiness it’s unlikely he’ll ever get that untwisted. Kind of like Escher’s staircase, around and around and none of it makes real sense. And then there’s our friend to consider.

Wait, I think I missed something here.

Harry looked over to see a confused look on Viktor’s face. He was, er, one of our friend’s people? But then started batting for the other team when it became clear my mother was in danger?

Viktor’s expression cleared. Ah. Interesting. I assume the old man had something to do with him not ending up in prison?

He nodded. I expect our friend could steal him right back, should he choose, especially since, well, he’s our friend. I expect it’ll get taken care of, but perhaps not until after the school year. I just wish he’d stop eyeing me up like some pederast considering which dark corridor he’s going to bugger me in.

Viktor choked and about spit his tea out, then scowled at him playfully.

Over the course of the next few days Draco received permission to visit that summer, but had not yet heard a decision about a transfer. Dudley had asked to invite Luna in a letter to Petunia and received permission to ask her.

The weekend following they rode down to Hogsmeade again and spent quite a while browsing through the shops before repairing to the cottage, Ilsa heading off with some of her friends rather than intrude. Inside Harry was somewhat resigned on seeing Snape present. Apparently he had been invited to take lunch with them. Petunia directed them all to go wash up first, and shortly, after some jockeying for space at the sink, they were seated at the dining table. As “luck” would have it, because his mother was at one end of the table (Petunia was at the other), he and Snape were sitting across from each other. Viktor gave his thigh a sympathetic pat under the table.

Mary trotted in long enough ensure everyone was ready, then vanished back into the kitchen. Moments later they each had a fair-sized bowl on their plates filled with what looked to be beef stew. Several baskets were placed down the center of the table filled with fresh, sliced, crusty bread.

“This smells amazing,” he commented, reaching out to grab a few pieces of bread to put on the side of his plate.

His mother smiled. “Petunia and I have been experimenting,” she said, getting bread as well, then picking up her spoon. A moment later a glass of some variety of red wine appeared for each setting.

‘Awkward,’ he thought, trying not to actually look at Snape.

“So,” his mother said, “how are things going for the final task? Or are we all pretending that none of you have a clue yet as to what it will be?”

Viktor snickered quietly and set his spoon down so he could spread some butter on a piece of bread. “It will be a maze.”

“Oh? How did you come to that conclusion?”

Viktor shot her an amused look. “After I checked a history book. Back in September. I wanted some idea of what to expect should I choose to enter my name.”

“Imagine that,” Petunia said tartly, “someone paying attention to history.”

Dudley laughed and Viktor smiled.

Luna looked up and said, “This stew is really very yummy. May I have a copy of the recipe?”

“Oh, thank you, dear,” Lily said warmly. “I’ll make sure you get one.”

Harry had a spoonful and hummed in pleasure. After swallowing he said, “Oh yes. Mum, Aunt Petunia, this is wonderful.”

His mother reached out briefly to squeeze his wrist. “So you knew approximately from the start what sort of things you’d have to face?” she asked.

“Yes. Harry and I spent an afternoon out on the grounds reading through that book and discussing it.”

“I hope,” Draco said, “that it won’t be quite so boring to watch as the second task was, but I rather expect it will be.”

Dudley nodded. “They don’t seem to be designed with an audience in mind.”

They were part way through the meal when Snape suddenly seized up and grabbed at his arm. Harry looked up quickly. Snape had gone deathly pale and his eyes were closed. They slowly opened, his gaze shifting to Lily, his expression tragic.

His mother slowly arched a brow, then calmly reached out for her glass and had a sip of wine. As Snape prepared to push his chair back the door swung open and Tom walked in. Harry felt a lot like drinking some of his own wine, but suspected he might well spit it back up depending on whatever it was Tom was about to do.

“So, Severus. How delightful to see you again,” Tom said dryly, then sat in the empty seat next to Viktor. A bowl of stew appeared for him and he picked up his spoon, then began to eat.

Another look at Snape showed that the man was just lost.

‘And just how do you follow that?’ he thought.

“Did something happen?” his mother asked curiously. “I expected you sooner.”

Tom looked up and said, “I lost track of time talking with Valdis and Serana. You know, I could just build a warded structure at your house, cover it in ivy—you’d forget it was there easily enough—or maybe whip up a cellar.”

Lily sighed and glanced at the ceiling, then looked at Harry. “Did you put him up to this?”

He did a slight double-take and frowned. “Actually, I asked about moving her to my—” He paused, his eyes cutting slightly toward Snape. “To my work room.”

“Oh, Harry, she’d take up too much space.”

“I know, but she wouldn’t be with those silly old men, either. Doesn’t matter. Tom already told me no.”

“Oh, honey,” she said a bit sadly. “Look, I’ll think about it, okay? No promises.”

He nodded and tore a piece off his bread to dip in his stew and eat.

“I assume those two are still the best of friends?” Viktor inquired.

Tom snorted softly. “Oh, yes. But, still, listening to them is fascinating. Considering how long Serana has existed. . . .”

“My lord?” Snape said tentatively.

Tom switched focus, aiming a faintly amused look at the man. “Yes, Severus? Should I assume that you have, indeed, taken note of the fact that I did spare a certain life after you begged me so prettily?”

Lily huffed. “Tom, really.”

“Eat, Severus,” Tom ordered. “We’ll talk soon enough.”

“I think you would look very pretty with a hairstyle like Serana’s,” Luna said to Petunia, who looked startled at the comment and absently reached up to pat her hair.

“But I have no idea. . . .”

“You will,” Luna replied with a nod.

The meal continued on and eventually everyone was sitting back in satisfaction (though Snape looked closer to terrified). After Mary cleared the table Petunia rose and gestured to Dudley, Luna, and Draco to follow her. Harry noticed that Draco badly wanted to stay, but an arched brow in his direction from Tom sent him almost scurrying away.

“I understand you’ve been trying to get back into Lily’s good graces,” Tom said. “I wonder why I should allow these attempts to continue.”

“I am so confused,” Snape whispered.

“I don’t see the problem here, Severus,” Lily said. “Tom is an old friend of the family. How long has it been now?” Her brow crinkled.

“Almost seven years, mum,” Harry said helpfully, “since I was eight.”

Tom nodded. “Whom are you loyal to, Severus?”

Snape looked up. “I’ve only ever really been loyal to one person.”

“Why is it I fail to be surprised by the evasion?” Tom asked no one in particular.

Lily leaned over and whispered to Harry, “He’s being awfully brave, wouldn’t you say?”

He nodded, then smiled when Viktor’s arm slipped around his shoulders.

“I shall rephrase the question,” Tom said, “and if you fail to answer this time I might forget I’m here as Tom and not Voldemort. Severus, are you loyal to Dumbledore?”

“No,” was the immediate answer.

“Then you get to live,” Tom said simply. “I expect your primary loyalty remains to Lily, but you still belong to me. Don’t forget that. Now, I need to go make sure young Malfoy knows how to hold his tongue. I already know Lovegood will.” He got up and passed out into the hall.

“So, mum,” Harry said, smiling, “what exactly did Viktor promise you, because he’s being stubborn about the details.”

Viktor’s free hand came up to cover his face.

His mother giggled. “No intercourse until you’re at the age of consent. So, sixteen.” She saw Viktor’s reaction and giggled harder. “You poor dear. Harry is being pushy, isn’t he.”

Viktor peeked out from between his fingers and nodded.

“Well, I trust you to hold him off from that particular activity. I can’t have people saying my son’s boyfriend is a pedophile.”

Viktor’s arm slipped free and he thunked his head on the table. “And I like you so much, why?” he muttered.

Harry patted Viktor’s back and grinned at his mother, who grinned back.

“Okay, you two. Off you go. See me before you leave, though,” she said, then eyed Snape.

Harry pushed his chair back and got up, waited for Viktor to stand, then guided his shell-shocked boyfriend out of the room. He backed him against the wall and gave him a kiss, then said, “Maybe I like to tease you, too.”

Viktor took a deep breath and released it. “Fair enough.”

Tom appeared from the sitting room and stopped. “On a side note,” he said, “Serana is looking forward to meeting you. Valdis has expressed how fond she is of you, you see.”

He smiled happily, then edged closer to say quietly, “Is mum going to let him in on the Secret?”

“I don’t know yet. I expect she would make sure you’re okay with it first. It is your identity, after all.”

“Do you even know what you plan to do about him?”

Tom, surprisingly enough, shrugged. “I don’t have a clue yet. But I do hold his life in my hands, so he had better behave himself. I’m letting your mother handle it for now.”

He nodded thoughtfully. “Okay. I assume Draco is still amongst the living.”

Tom favored him with a sarcastic smile and swept off. Harry turned back to Viktor and stole another kiss, then went to find the others. When they did return to the castle Harry led Viktor up to his room and then into his trunk’s dressing room for some additional privacy. “Okay, I’ll be serious, though I do like teasing you. I’m fifteen and I’m sure you remember what that’s like, assuming you ever had your eye on anyone at the time. I know what you promised my mother, and that’s fine. As much as I want to, I hadn’t planned to until I was old enough. What I really want you to tell me is what you don’t want to do, what your limit is.”

Viktor gave him a smile and drew him over to the bench. “First, I did not expect your mother to join in on the teasing. That rather blindsided me. Second? I’m not sure, really. I want all of it, but where I stop? Right now I think clothes stay on, like I said earlier.”

He nodded. “I can accept that.” He paused, smiled, then said, “It could get messy.”

Viktor smiled back and said, “Come on. We should head down to dinner.”

A few days later Draco squeaked after opening a letter delivered during the morning post. Dudley looked over curiously and Draco rattled the parchment. I can transfer!

Really? They finally agreed? And you never got a chance to use that look on your mother.

Harry looked up and smiled, but he wondered. A part of him wondered very much if Tom had gotten involved. I wonder how that’ll work, him transferring in as a fifth year,he said quietly to Viktor.

You mean in terms of a mentor? I expect a fellow fifth year will take that on, at least in terms of making sure Draco can navigate the castle and such. Beyond that, though, your year group’s mentors won’t be there, so. . . . I know that you and Dudley will take care of him.

Of course. I expect it’ll be weird for him transferring to a new school for OWL year.

Luna piped up from her seat at the end of the Ravenclaw table. Daddy has given me permission as well. I won’t have to suffer for much longer.

Harry blinked at her. This is going to sound really rude, but, can he afford it? Even I don’t know what Durmstrang costs per year.

Daddy makes a surprisingly good living with the Quibbler,she replied, unruffled. Even if not, I have a trust from mummy I could use. I’ve never bothered with it because daddy can well afford the books and supplies for here.

Viktor leaned back a little so he could see Luna clearly. Will you be telling anyone here that you’re leaving?

She shook her head. If I said something they might get worse, knowing they have so little time left.

Viktor nodded. A wise decision, I think.

Dudley, of course, was ecstatic when that was passed on, having been busy enough talking with Draco that he had not overheard the exchange. Either way, Luna would already have friends waiting for her, friends willing to back her up and defend her. Harry resolved to make copies of his course notes for the first four years to give to her so she could study them in advance.

Letters continued to arrive from his mother, filling him in up to a point on how things were going with Snape. He got the distinct impression that not only was the man behaving, but also that his mother was becoming fond of him again, this time in a different way. Luna was probably correct in her assertion that he may well gain a stepfather.

For himself, he kept trying to think of ways to go on “dates” with Viktor, but it was difficult being stuck in a castle in a remote part of Scotland, not that it would be any better at Durmstrang. The best they could manage were walks together and games. They could duck out of the occasional meal to an unused classroom and have Pelk provide, but with the weather becoming so much nicer he instead asked for, and received, the occasional picnic basket so they could have a meal with a view, and in peace, without hundreds of voices layering in.

By the time May rolled around he was well into the fifth year material in terms of wand classes. He was relieved to learn that he could handle it, but the strain was becoming a bit more pronounced. The best he could do was work himself like a dog in terms of mastery. Being as far ahead as he was also meant he could move onto sixth year material early; that right there would tell him if he needed to drop any or all of the wand classes at NEWT level.

Viktor was held back after one of his classes during the last week of May and told to be at the pitch that night for nine o’clock. I expect this is where we’re shown the fledgling form of the maze,he said.

Poliakoff made a rude noise from a few seats down. I’m sure they waited so long so that the champions can concentrate on their studies or something, never mind that Potter is a fourth year and is exempted, and Diggory is a sixth year and likewise exempted. You, however, and Delacour, get to do NEWT exams the week before the task and the week during.

Viktor shrugged. I knew that could happen when I put my name in. Perhaps they wished to keep all the candidates here through to the end, though I don’t really understand why. Maybe they wanted the exams out of the way in case one of us was injured badly in the final task and stuck in an infirmary or hospital.

Well,said Bergfalk, if they’re going to be showing you tonight that means there’s finally something to bother looking at.

Harry wondered about the degree of cheating to map the burgeoning maze while in full Chameleon. Neither he nor Dudley could do it while flying because neither of them knew how to do a disillusionment charm on a broom, assuming it could even be done. Viktor may not want that much assistance, either, though it had already come up previously and he had not given any sign he thought the idea was distasteful.

Viktor wandered back into the tower and up to Harry’s room at around ten. It could not possibly have taken very long down at the pitch, so he assumed his boyfriend had stopped to talk with his friends in seventh year. Surprise, it’s a maze,Viktor said dryly.

Do you want a map of it?he asked bluntly.

I’m not sure if we can,Viktor replied, sitting on the bed and scooting back. As we were leaving I noticed a bunch of people approaching from another direction. I have to wonder if there’ve been some kind of wards up to keep students away and they were there to reactivate them. The hedges are already partly grown, though still low enough to climb over. Bagman said they’ll be twenty feet high by the time of the task. A month is plenty of time for anyone with that in mind to act.

Harry frowned. Viktor made sense. And there’s just two weeks left before exams begin.

The door opened and Dudley came in, followed by Draco and Luna. His cousin paused on seeing the two of them. Oh. This okay?

Of course,he replied with a smile. It’s your room too, silly.

You guys are so lucky,Draco said a bit wistfully. Just two of you per room. We have to share with a bunch of people.

But not for much longer,Harry pointed out. Though—He looked at Dudley. We’re an even number in this year, so I expect we’ll have a trio.

Viktor nodded. No one gets to room alone. You can request to have Draco with the two of you. Luna cannot room with Ilsa, but there is an odd number already for third year girls, so with the transfer it will be back to two per.He looked at Luna directly and added, You might want to get with Ilsa to see what she thinks of the current trio. Perhaps one in particular would be a better roommate for you.

They won’t allow a shuffle?Dudley asked, rummaging around in one of the compartments of his trunk.

Nn. Not that I’m aware of,Viktor replied.

Dudley made a happy noise and pulled something from his trunk, then closed it back up. Knew they were here somewhere.He turned back and said, I’m going to teach them to play Uno. You two want to play?

Viktor had no idea what that was and said so, but Harry assured him it would be fun, so off they went to the fourth year common room to commandeer a table and drag Ilsa in, as well. No one said a word about it being so late and after two rounds Draco and Luna scurried off to their houses. Viktor gave him a lingering kiss before leaving, saying they’d talk more about the task on Saturday.

After talking with my friends and doing some watching of my own, I can say that people are being diverted from the maze,Viktor told him during a walk around the grounds after breakfast Saturday morning. I think mapping it would be extremely difficult.

So, twenty-foot hedges, probably resistant to being cut or burned. And we in the stands will have a grand view of foliage.

Viktor snickered softly and nodded. I am hoping to be able to introduce you to my parents soon.

Oh? I’d like that. I assume they’re okay with us?

I think they knew I liked you before I did,Viktor replied, pulling him closer for a moment. I am hoping you will sit with them in the stands.

He nodded. I’m sure my mother would love to meet them, too, so we can all sit together.

Well, on the morning of the task they will be here. Champions get to spend the day with their families. I don’t know if you’ll have an exam that day, but if you have the time free I’d be happy if you’d join us.

I’d love to,he replied happily. What about your sister?

Ah, no, Bisera will be with my grandparents. And lucky you, not having any chance of being saddled with her as a mentee.

Harry poked Viktor in the side. Be nice. I’m sure she’ll get a good fourth year. More worry for you, being there for your mastery.

Viktor shrugged. I cannot decide if she will avoid me or pester me. Anyway, we should know the exam schedule on Monday. Kozlov mentioned something in passing. As for the task itself. . . . I’ll already be brushing up on everything for the NEWTs, so that counts as preparation.

Well—Dudley got back to you about those creatures?

Yes. Assuming those show up in the maze their only weak point is the underbelly as the rest is armored. Otherwise I expect something like trying to freeze them might work since they blast fire.

He tried to think what else might be in there, but there were just too many possibilities. Instead he asked, Do I need to learn Bulgarian, or. . . ?

There was a pause, then, Oh, my family. No. They know German. But if you wanted to I’m sure they would appreciate it, even if they never realize you acquired the language with essentially no effort. Your friend knows an inordinate number of languages.

He chuckled. Yes. He traveled extensively before he rose up as a—well, it’s very helpful that he can so easily gift them to others. Can you think of any other gear you might need?

It might not hurt for me to have a few things, perhaps on a pair of boots or as additional links. Muffle, for one. Something to conceal scent. I can do disillusionment with a spell—after all, depending on how they’re scoring it would be as well for me to obviously do magic. I was thinking of bringing in a selection of pebbles or something similar.

So you can use them as projectiles, or things to transfigure?he asked.

Yes. Projectiles, distractions, whatever. Granted, I doubt they’ll be messing with the turf, so I could rip up grass and transfigure that.

I remember this one thing, in a video game Dudley used to play, called a hookshot,he said musingly.

Which is?

A device that shoots out a hook, trailing a rope or cable. It, you know, hooks around something and then you can reel it in with the effect of moving you to where it’s lodged. I just had this image in my head of you reeling around the maze like that. Spiderman without the webs. Amusing and all, but not very likely.

Viktor laughed. No, but the concept itself might be useful. Depends on how sturdy the hedges end up being.

Monday at breakfast the schedule was distributed to their tables. Officials would be coming to Hogwarts to administer OWLs and NEWTs for Durmstrang students, separate from those of Hogwarts. Checking his copy showed that he would have his last exam on the morning of the third task, but his afternoon was free. He made a copy and sent it down the table to Viktor, who was sitting with his friends. Because Dudley had different electives he would not be free until dinner. Still, should he want to, Dudley would be able to meet Viktor’s family at lunch; otherwise he would at dinner or as they were heading to the stands.

A minute later he was nudged in the side; he looked over to see his seat mate pointing down the table. Viktor tapped the schedule and nodded, so Harry expected he would let his parents know.

When that day did finally arrive he ate his breakfast while reading his notes for his upcoming exam, then headed out. Additional rooms had been set aside on the fifth floor for the OWL and NEWT students, but all other years would be using the usual classrooms. Thankfully it was only Arithmancy, so he needn’t worry about having to go through a wand portion. He could simply take his time, then join Viktor and his family at lunch.

The exam went by easily enough and he was soon on his way to the Great Hall. Viktor was in the entrance hall, and smiled as soon as he saw Harry coming down the main staircase. With him were his parents, both dark-haired like Viktor. Amusingly enough, it seemed Viktor had inherited his father’s hooked nose. Once he got near enough Viktor stepped forward and wrapped an arm around his shoulders, then said, Harry, my mother Iskra and my father Pavel. Mother, father, this is Harry Evans.

They both looked at him curiously, then Iskra stepped forward with a smile. You’re too old for me to say this, but you’re adorable, Harry.

He blushed and ducked his head briefly. Thank you, I think,he muttered. I am very pleased to meet you both,he said with a smile for Mrs Krum and a respectful incline of his head for Viktor’s father. I hope that you’ll sit with me and my mother for the task.

She’ll be present?Mrs Krum asked.

Oh yes. She’s very fond of Viktor and came to the first two, as well. I can’t say she was exactly thrilled with me being a hostage, but she had every confidence in Viktor.

Shall we go in to lunch?Viktor invited, letting go of Harry.

Viktor’s father proved to be a bit on the taciturn side, but Harry could not tell if that was simply because they did not know each other or if he was always that way. Mrs Krum, however, was on the chatty side and he thought she would probably get on with his mother well. Where have you seen so far?he asked.

Oh, Viktor has been showing us the school. It’s quite different from Durmstrang and a lot more open in some ways, isn’t it, but I suppose the climate has a lot to do with that.

Harry grinned. I recall seeing more than one person gawking when they saw Viktor swimming in the lake in January. I expect they thought he was mad. I guess those of us at Durmstrang are a bit hardier.

Well,she said, her eyes bright with what he assumed was amusement, I have to say I’ve never seen Viktor smile so much as he has today.

He glanced at his boyfriend before saying, I’m going to go on the assumption that, aside from being a bit reserved to begin with, having screaming quidditch groupies stalk around after you is an excellent reason to scowl most of the time or otherwise appear surly.

In his peripheral vision he could see Viktor rolling his eyes. That is a good way to put it,Viktor said.

And you are not reserved?

He blinked at her. Sort of? Ah, as my cousin puts it, I’m not a social butterfly, but I suppose I’m comfortable enough in social situations.

She nodded in response, seeming somehow satisfied.

After the meal Viktor steered them out onto the grounds; the weather was beautiful, sunny with puffy white clouds decorating the sky. The Beauxbatons carriage was the only thing not “native” to the grounds and was a point of interest, but aside from that they walked a slow, circuitous route, speaking of general things like school work, exams, and Viktor’s plans for the following year. And then it was time for dinner.

There were more courses than usual, but Harry didn’t notice so much as he was still busy getting to know Viktor’s mother. As the enchanted ceiling overhead began to fade from blue to a dusky purple, Dumbledore rose to his feet at the staff table, and silence fell. “Ladies and gentlemen, in five minutes’ time, I will be asking you to make your way down to the quidditch field for the third and final task of the Triwizard Tournament. Will the champions please follow Mr Bagman down to the stadium now.”

Viktor nodded and turned to Harry. You’ll take care of my parents?

Harry rolled his eyes. Of course. Be safe. Do me proud.

Viktor gave a faint nod and leaned in for a relatively chaste kiss, then rose, moving around the end of the table to kiss his mother’s cheek and grip his father’s shoulder for a moment. Then he left along with the other champions.

Where will your mother be joining us?Mrs Krum asked.

Hopefully outside the main doors, or a just a little bit on. That’s where she was the last two times.They waited until Dumbledore gave the okay to leave and carefully made their way outside, Dudley catching up with them just moments before Harry spotted his mother; Dudley raced on ahead to give her a hug.

This way,he said, walking briskly. He kissed his mother on the cheek once close enough and said, Mum, I’d like you to meet Viktor’s parents, Pavel and Iskra Krum. Mr and Mrs Krum, my mother, Lily Evans. And, of course, my cousin, Dudley.

His mother smiled widely. I’m so pleased to meet you! I understand you’ve been here all day. Has it been enjoyable?Lily turned slightly and gestured toward the stands.

Mrs Krum smiled back after a moment, took her husband’s arm, and moved forward.