Grazhir :: Crossover :: Kalpa :: 21

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21

As planned they had a late breakfast so that food would be out of the way and most of them could sleep in. Once the meal was over Lily and Petunia disappeared upstairs; for that matter, so did everyone else, at least long enough to change into their finery for the day. Severus had been relegated to the guest room temporarily for his preparations.

Back downstairs Harry and Viktor were pleased to welcome Luna first, who was immediately claimed by Dudley, then Viktor’s parents. Iskra’s gaze went straight to their hands and she smiled before giving the usual warm greetings and hugging the both of them. Pavel also smiled, and this time Harry was given a manly sort of hug. It made him feel so warm inside at this evidence of acceptance. He and Viktor escorted the two of them to the sitting room for the time being, knowing that Dudley would take care of welcoming Draco and his parents.

“The ring looks as lovely as I thought it would,” Iskra said.

“My mother spotted it almost before we got in the door,” Harry said with a short laugh, then turned on seeing movement in his peripheral vision; Serana was just then lowering her hood. “Ah. I would like to introduce a family friend. This is Serana,” he said with a fond smile, not bothering to point out the obvious. “Serana, Iskra and Pavel Krum, Viktor’s parents.”

Serana smiled, and nodded to each of them. “I am very pleased to meet you. Harry has been very complimentary.”

He watched slightly warily given that Iskra seemed to be at a bit of a loss. But then she smiled and nodded. “It is lovely to meet you. Viktor has mentioned you, but apparently left out a few details.”

Serana grinned at that, flashing her fangs. “He’s a good boy—ah, sorry, Viktor—young man. When you get to be my age, well. . . .”

“Do I dare ask?” Iskra said, looking a touch mischievous.

“Oh, a few millennia or so,” Serana replied casually. “You lose track after a while.”

It was then that Harry realized Iskra had a passion for history; she got a hungry look on her face and asked about the countries that Serana was familiar with.

Severus wandered in at that point, looking very smart in an outfit similar to Harry’s, and came to stand next to him; he could see that the man was the barest bit nervous. In a lull he caught Iskra’s attention and handled the introductions, then turned as Dudley and Luna arrived with the Malfoys in tow.

The only person who seemed to be missing was the officiator, unless Tom decided to show. Dudley handled those introductions. The Krums seemed fine being faced with Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy, but he already knew Iskra was forewarned and a classy lady able to handle herself in social situations. Mary made sure that some light refreshments were available and they happily enough mingled while they waited.

Harry was finally able to meet Draco’s mother; she was stunningly beautiful, but had that same air of coldness that Lucius did. Still, her eyes softened considerably when she saw the ring he was wearing, so he segued into an introduction for her to Viktor as his fiancé.

Draco’s eyes went wide, not having been forewarned, then smiled happily. “It’s about time! When are you planning for?”

“Next summer,” Viktor said. “We plan to hold the bonding at my parents’ home in Sofia.”

“Oh, wow. I’ve never been to—” Draco snapped his mouth shut, looking a bit worried about his presumption.

Harry snickered and said, “Yes, Draco, you’ll be getting an invitation. You don’t really think we’d leave you out, do you?”

“And to live?” Narcissa asked.

“Here,” he said. “For the time being, anyway. It’s not like it’s any trouble for Viktor to get to work and the time difference is only an hour.”

Lucius arched a brow. “And yourself?”

Harry gave the man a look very much like Tom might use and was pleased to get the reaction he desired. “I’ve asked Severus to apprentice me. He’s agreed.”

“Yes, I have,” Severus said, joining their little grouping. “Harry is very talented and well worth the effort.”

“Such praise,” Lucius said.

“He’s at least as good as I am,” Severus replied.

“Don’t sprain something with all that flattery, Severus.”

Harry turned to see Tom standing there, smirking. “You came,” he said happily.

“Of course I did,” Tom said patiently. “I escorted the official. And I’ll be making sure the man can’t remember where he’s been after the fact.”

Harry grinned. “Good to know.”

Tom’s gaze flickered down, he said, “And I suppose congratulations are in order,” then eyed Viktor a bit narrowly.

Viktor returned the look steadily and nodded slightly.

Harry half-rolled his eyes at the not so subtle manly posturing and said, “You knew it was coming.”

Tom favored him with a sarcastic smile. “I want to see how you two have come along with daggers later, so expect that sometime this—” He broke off when Luna popped up at his side and touched his arm for a moment. “Yes?”

“It’s time,” she said.

“Ah. In that case. . . .”

A general exodus began to the yard, where a very small venue had been set up. The official was already waiting, a vague sort of smile on his round face, and Severus walked down the aisle between the chairs to stand nearby, facing back toward the house. The chairs for the event had been placed on a curve, three on each side, with three more each in a second row, slightly offset so as to not block the view.

Harry had to wonder if Tom had already been fiddling with the official’s brains given the man’s air of not quite being all there. He, Viktor, and Petunia took the right front seats, with Dudley, Luna, and Draco behind them. The left front was filled by Viktor’s parents and Serana, who had her hood back up and took the end seat, the one most in the shade. Behind them sat Narcissa, Lucius, and Tom.

Behind the official was a table with some parchment on it; Harry assumed it was either a contract or simply the legal evidence of the joining—a certificate of sorts. A faint chime drew everyone’s attention back toward the house and Harry watched as his mother stepped through the back door. Her dress was a stunning green that made her hair look as though it was on fire and her smile was a bit on the quirky side.

She strolled down the aisle as if it was no more important than a walk in the woods and came to a stop by Severus; then she smiled at him for real. Only being on the side he was afforded Harry the opportunity to see the sheer adoration Severus felt for his mother and he couldn’t help but smile in response and squeeze Viktor’s hand.

The official straightened up and checked behind him, then faced forward and said, “We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of two faithful souls. . . .”

Petunia had already turned on the waterworks, but at least this time she was happy. He had previously heard the stories about his mother’s wedding to James, so this had to be a vast improvement. Of course, that made him wonder if his aunt would ever get married again or if she was content as she was.

“Do you, Severus Prince, take Lily Marie. . . ?”

‘If Severus gets any more emotional he’s going to be embarrassed,’ Harry thought, though he was reassured by the man’s expression. Severus had obviously already ditched his middle name, which he supposed made sense. He wouldn’t want that name being spoken, either, not during a ceremony like this.

“. . .Then I declared you bonded for life.” The official waved his wand high and released a shower of silver and green motes of light which floated down in spirals around the couple. His mother and Severus shared a relatively chaste kiss and turned to face all of them as the official said, “Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present Mr and Mrs Evans!”

Severus actually smiled, and a glance to the side revealed that Lucius and Narcissa were unable to hide their surprise, though whether that was due to the name change or that Severus was actually capable of smiling was in doubt; it could be either, or both. He smiled himself as he stood, applauding his mother’s happiness.

As everyone rose from their places Tom ghosted over to the table. Lily and Severus turned back to take care of the parchment with the official, which replicated itself several times once they were done, two of the copies disappearing with a snap. Tom grabbed the extras and tucked them away in a pocket, then spelled the official unobtrusively. The little man got a dazed look on his face, then produced a small tag of metal and activated it. Tom smirked in satisfaction.

Mary showed up long enough to rearrange the chairs to circle several small round tables that appeared, and set out the buffet. An area appeared off to the side, the grass covered with polished wood, obviously intended as a dance floor, and a strange mist-filled sphere on a pedestal. He ignored that for the moment in favor of giving his mother and new stepfather hugs, and then realized—“Mum? You never did say if you two were taking a honeymoon trip.”

She laughed at him, not unkindly. “Yes, honey. We’ll be back before you leave and Tom knows where we’ll be.”

He nodded and almost asked where, but decided against it; he would find out soon enough. Once all the congratulations were out of the way Lily and Severus moved over to the dance floor. Mary was obviously waiting because the next thing Harry knew the contents of that odd sphere began swirling and music started playing.

He was led out onto the floor himself a short time later and happily began to dance with Viktor. “So what was the deal with the parchment?” he asked quietly.

“Ah, copies go to the ICW and ministry for filing,” Viktor replied. “As it was only the two I assume Severus changed citizenship.”

‘That would make a certain kind of sense,’ he thought, nodding. ‘Not being a British citizen puts him one step further from Dumbledore, just in case.’ “So for us it would be three, then.”

Viktor nodded. “ICW, Norway, and Bulgaria. Though, once bonded, we can claim citizenship in both countries.”

“Okay.” He had no idea if that would attain any value, but it was good to know nevertheless. He smiled a bit slyly and pressed a bit closer, whispering, “Draco’s parents seemed awfully surprised by something.”

“That Severus knows how to smile?” Viktor said in amusement.

“Or that he changed his name,” he replied, sharing his other thought on that matter. “It’s kind of a shame in a way. I actually liked his middle name, but the associations were enough to get rid of it.”

“What was it?”

“Tobias.”

Viktor tilted his head slightly, consideringly, and nodded. “I rather like it, too, but oh well.” Then he smiled. “Should I assume you would like there to be dancing at our bonding?”

Harry bit his lower lip against a smile and nodded. “Yes, dancing. Different sorts.”

Viktor snickered after a moment, remembering. “And a trip together?”

“. . .I have no idea where,” he admitted, “but preferably somewhere we could have acquired the language for.”

“Now where’s your sense of adventure?” Viktor asked. “Don’t you want to go to a country where we’ll be at the mercy of a translator’s integrity?”

“Right at the top of my list,” he said sarcastically, then glided to a stop when the music ended and gave his fiancé a quick kiss. “Back shortly. I’m going to at least steal my mother for a dance.”

Viktor nodded so Harry tracked his mother down and pulled her into a dance as a new tune began. It was more than a little strange to be the one leading. After that he snagged Severus for a dance, noticing that Viktor was dancing with Iskra. “So, you closed up the shop for now?” he asked as Severus swept him around.

“Yes. I warned my customers I would be away for a few weeks.”

Harry nodded. “Welcome to the family.”

Severus smiled again, though more faintly. “Thank you, Harry.”

He returned the smile and said, “Something tells me that Tom will be around a lot while you two are away.”

“I’ve no doubt of that. And, while it is a bit early, I have left you some material. You will be able to get a better idea of what to expect.”

“Okay. Where?”

“The guest room. I did not feel inclined to invade your room. You will have the year to prepare in and around the other demands on your time. Part of that will be helping me at the shop.”

When the song did end Severus released him and Harry wandered off to the buffet for a breather. He grabbed a butterbeer and took a long pull, smiling as Viktor and Iskra arrived to join him. And, apparently mothers loved to tease their young, as Iskra cast a sly look at Viktor and asked Harry, “So, was his proposal romantic?”

He saw Viktor make a pained face. “I certainly thought so.”

“Details, Harry, details,” she urged.

He shook his head, laughing silently. “No, no, you don’t get all of them. He asked while we were on one of our walks in the woods. That’s all I’m saying. Thank you for helping to choose the rings.”

“Oh, you’re very welcome,” she said warmly, then smiled as her husband drifted up.

“So, a Potions apprenticeship?” Pavel asked, reaching over to grab something to nibble on.

“Yes. I’m looking forward to it. Severus has been a fantastic teacher so far. Ah, which reminds me—Viktor, Severus said he left some material for me in the guest room when he was getting ready, so I’ll get that later. I’ll find out what sort of horrifying plans he has in store for me next year.”

Viktor snickered. “Sure. And—” He gave Iskra a look. “To avoid my beloved mother asking any more embarrassing questions, I am going to steal you away for more dancing.”

Harry grinned at Viktor’s mother and set his bottle on the table, and let himself be led away back to the dance floor. By the time he found himself dancing with Narcissa (which was a little strange given she was taller than him, though many people were) he realized his mother and Severus had disappeared. “Oh, I guess they sneaked away.”

Narcissa nodded. “About a half hour ago. Tell me, how is Draco doing at Durmstrang? He tells me how much he enjoys it there, but I must wonder.”

He quirked a brow. “He’s doing very well. It took some adjustment, of course. Things are very different at Durmstrang, after all. Things are . . . kind of stiff, there. They are much concerned with propriety and learning, not power struggles between the students, and we’re all on something of an even footing considering we pay tuition for our education. But yes, he’s fit in well, gets along with all our year mates, and he participates as much as anyone in classes. He never really got the basic ‘right’ to a mentor as my cousin and I did, but we serve that purpose well enough, and Dudley is a mentor in his own right.”

“I hear there are no muggle-born students,” she commented, a shade too casually.

His eyes narrowed. “Not with Karkaroff in charge, no. I know in the past there have been, mainly students with older siblings who went to one of the other schools and decided to give us a try instead. I did some checking because, you know, my mother is muggle-born, and found out that Karkaroff suspended the classes for them after that which would bring them more fully into our culture and help them to adjust rather than tearing down our own traditions to cater to muggle customs. There were never that many attending to begin with.”

She nodded and said nothing more for a full revolution, her gaze not on him but on their surroundings, then said quietly, “That is something of a shame. Although I was against sending Draco there I am nevertheless pleased now, especially as it means he’s meeting a much wider selection of other people his age.”

His brow quirked again, wondering if what she was really saying was she hoped that her son chose a spouse from outside Britain, to bring in fresh blood. Draco and Ilsa had drifted apart romantically while still staying friends, and the blond was currently mooning over a Swedish girl named Petra, in the year below them. “He is, from any number of countries. He’ll have contacts everywhere. And, no offense to your alma mater, a much better handle on magic in general and its use.”

She thawed a little, her grey eyes becoming softer. “That does present an issue. I think about what Hogwarts teaches, and not just in the classroom, in comparison to Durmstrang and. . . . Well.”

Harry nodded and felt somewhat relieved as the current piece of music came to a close. He thanked her for the dance and escorted her to the side, then looked for Viktor, but was promptly stolen by Luna, hauled into another dance (she was leading), and asked, “So, how long before you think Dudley works up the courage?”

He started laughing and it took him a minute to get himself under control. “Um, maybe next summer? Or whenever you turn seventeen. Something like that.”

Luna nodded, guiding him around with admirable skill. “I can’t see things like that, of course, so I thought maybe you might have some insight. Viktor waited that long and Dudley does look up to him.”

“Well, it’s what I’d advise should he come to me to discuss it. My mother said it wouldn’t exactly have been rushing for Viktor last year, but she felt better that he waited. I wouldn’t doubt Aunt Petunia feels similarly.”

“All right. I’ll be patient, then. I’d just propose myself, but Dudley has some funny ideas about things like that.”

He started laughing again and was shortly delivered straight to Viktor, who was eyeing them with amusement. “Thank you for the dance, Luna,” he said, taking hold of Viktor’s arm.

After she smiled and wandered away Viktor asked quietly, “What was so funny?”

Harry scanned the immediate area to make sure Dudley wasn’t lurking and explained, a grin on his face.

Viktor laughed and guided him over to one of the tables and held a seat for him. “Now, don’t go anywhere. And if anyone else steals you I shall become cross.” His fiancé headed over to the buffet and prepared two plates, balancing those while also managing to grab bottles of butterbeer, then returned.

“Thank you,” he said, helping to get everything settled. “And at that, I’ve yet to dance with my aunt or your mother or Serana, though I don’t know if she dances.”

“She does,” Viktor replied, opening the bottles. “I saw her dancing with Tom, actually.”

He blinked. “Seriously? Tom danced?”

“Yes.” Viktor set one of the bottles at his plate. “I was a bit shocked, I admit.”

“Huh.” He spent the next few minutes eating, looking up when Tom joined them.

“I’m sure you’ve already figured it out, but I’ll be here while they’re gone. Serana will also be keeping an eye out.”

“Yes. But, where will you sleep?”

Tom turned his gaze on Viktor. “I hardly think there’d be a problem if you moved into Harry’s room. I’ve even been kind and warded it already, knowing that you two have most likely come to the conclusion that living here after your bonding is wisest.”

Viktor nodded with admirable solemnity and said, “I’ll move things after the guests have gone home.”

“What about Serana?”

“The usual,” Tom said with a shrug. “Those two will continue taking their walks at night.”

That had not exactly been what he meant, but it sufficed. “Well I don’t expect to be invaded while they’re gone, but it’s good to know you’ll be here. Any other . . . news?”

“Since you mention it, yes. Plants in Korea and China have been affected.”

Harry frowned and drank down a good third of his butterbeer.

“There have also been some odd reports about undead, and I’m not referring to Serana’s kin.”

“Inferi?” Viktor asked.

“I haven’t gotten a straight answer yet.”

“Okay, two more places not to visit during a honeymoon,” Harry half-joked.

“But languages which might become useful to have,” Tom said, “and something I’ll be looking into given this latest information.” He looked up, behind Harry, and nodded.

Harry blinked and looked back over his shoulder to see Lucius standing there. The man borrowed a chair from one of the other tables and joined them. “We will be leaving shortly,” the blond said, “but before we did so I wished to express my appreciation for you having taken Draco under your wing.”

Not a direct thank you, but Harry did not really expect one. “It’s been a pleasure.” What part exactly Lucius thought Harry played in Tom’s life was still up for debate, but it was possible the man believed that being close to Harry meant something insofar as Draco’s future went in terms of power. Or something.

Lucius inclined his head and stood, saying, “Please pass on our well wishes to your mother and Severus.”

Harry nodded and watched for a moment as Malfoy walked away, then took a sip of his drink, feeling a bit bemused. Any interesting questions could wait, assuming he even remembered to ask them later on. Things wound down at that point, with Luna portkeying out next, and then Viktor’s parents came to give their farewells.

Mary took care of cleaning up the yard as those remaining wandered back into the house to get changed. Viktor, of course, simply moved everything to Harry’s room first, handing off the material Severus had left for him before stripping down and fetching out clothes for the evening. Their good things were set aside for cleaning and Harry’s dress shoes went back with the others.

Harry grabbed a book, then hesitated. “Actually, would you like to go get in a little practice out back?”

Viktor looked over and nodded, and started collecting what they would need. A short time later they were downstairs and his fiancé let Tom know the room was free. Tom eyed their supplies and followed them outside, conjuring up a chair for himself and settling in.

Harry and Viktor faced each other, weapons ready, and began fighting, more or less tuning Tom out. They had progressed to the point where they no longer wore goggles and could go for much longer before taking a break for water, and subsequently went at it for a little over an hour, healing themselves each time they were unlucky enough to actually suffer a hit. Harry’s attacks were more like darting razor slashes; Viktor had a bit of difficulty holding back his strength. Still, neither of them ended up bleeding profusely or dead on the grass or blind.

Tom said, once they both pulled back, “Well done. You two have been practicing hard and it shows. Excellent stamina, as well. I’m impressed.”

Harry smiled widely at the praise and sheathed his dagger, then grabbed one of the water bottles. And as much as he would like to gulp it down he knew better than that and sipped instead, walking around in slow circles to cool down.

“What do you think,” Tom asked, “of digging another temporary pit and going against a beast or beasts properly?”

He nodded, swigging more water. “I’m okay with that. It’s going to happen at some point anyway, and while I’ve learned a lot sparring with Viktor, it’s not the same thing. Neither of us is trying for killing blows, after all.”

Tom nodded and looked at Viktor, who also nodded. “All right. Make sure you have plenty of potions. I expect it would be nice to see you get in some practice with some of the higher level spells. I also want you to start carrying all your gear. Always be stocked up. Those enchanted pockets will carry a ridiculous amount and there’s no excuse not to utilize them.”

“Okay,” he said, thinking that Valdis’s bow would be one of those items, and arrows of necessity. True, the action was all off in Asia at the moment, but who knew when that might change. A ton of soul gems was also a given, empty and filled. He was also pretty sure he was done growing, so the worst he might need in terms of adjustment was for changes to musculature, and everything he had was slightly loose anyway. “I’ll work out a system so I can find what I need without thinking. Can you make regular deliveries this year of the things I’ll need for alchemy, please?”

“Of course.”

“Um. . . .” He eyed Tom a bit hesitantly. “About Pelk.”

“Yes?” Tom quirked a brow. “What about him?”

“Will he stay with me, even after I’m done school?”

Tom sighed faintly. “Harry, I bought him for you, even though technically I’m his primary master. Yes, he’ll stay with you. I will ask him to listen to Viktor.”

“Okay, thank you,” he said, smiling. “I’ve grown fond of the little guy.”

“He is equally fond of you,” Tom informed him. “You’re a good master to him.”

He furrowed his brow, his mind wandering back to supplies again. “Hm. I’m tempted to convert part of the work room into a forge so I can crank out a ton of arrows.”

Tom narrowed his eyes. “How close are you to mastery that you can afford to give up enough space?”

“I’m just about done, actually. Just a bit more for Destruction and Conjuration.”

“In that case, no more repeats until I’ve had a chance to set that up,” Tom said.

A glow off to the side caused Harry to look that way, to see Valdis approaching. “Excuse me,” she said, “but something finally occurred to me and I wished to test it.” She came to a stop nearby and continued, “One of the ‘relics’ I have worked for non-magicka users, granting the ability to use two spells, Ignite and Freeze.”

No one spoke for a moment, then Viktor said, “I will test it, if you wish. That way, if it does not work, Petunia won’t need to feel that failure. And if it does. . . .”

Valdis nodded. “Please come. I will show you where it is.”

Shortly thereafter Viktor was wearing the ring—Ahzidal’s Ring of Arcana, as it was grandiosely named—and was staring at it trying to figure out how to ready a spell he had not experienced in any way.

“Freeze is a lot like Ice Spike,” Valdis said helpfully.

Viktor looked up for a few moments, then nodded. A moment later his hand lit up with a familiar blue-white light. He had a look of recall on his face for another few moments, then his hand twitched, the light growing brighter. Seconds later he released the spell into the grass, a grin on his face. “What can you tell me about Ignite?”

“Mm, something between Flames and Firebolt, I suppose,” she replied. “It damages over time as Flames does, but is a single discharge like Firebolt.”

Viktor went into recall mode again, then asked Harry, “Can you please do Flames for me, just so I know? I’ve already seen Firebolt.”

He nodded and picked a spot on the grass, prepped the spell, and released, letting the flames char the spot until Viktor nodded, then let go and shook the spell away.

Viktor was quickly enough able to cast Ignite and another grin graced his face. “Something feels different, though,” he said, the grin fading.

Harry looked at him sharply. “Is it anything like an extra sense? Really subtle?”

“I’m . . . not sure.”

“Okay,” Tom said. “Viktor, keep the ring on for now. Tomorrow you can get in some practice and try to chase down that feeling while Harry is in the pit. We’re done for the evening, though. Valdis, excellent idea,” he added admiringly.

“I am just happy it worked. Hopefully it will be as much as I imagined, but we’ll see,” she replied.

Harry and Viktor headed inside to clean up, sharing a shower, and came back downstairs to indulge in Uno with Dudley and Petunia. Not a word was mentioned about the ring to his aunt, not yet. But if Viktor developed that sense he needed, that connection to the aetherial, then he could pass the ring to Petunia. She could get started as well and both of them could finally get some use out of all Harry’s spell books.