Title: International Magical Cooperation: Their True Friends
Pairing(s): Slowly Progressing into Harry Potter/Viktor Krum
Other Characters: Fred Weasley, George Weasley, Sirius Black, Emil Todorov (OMC)
Summary: Now that their names have been drawn from the Goblet of Fire, Harry and Viktor must navigate their budding friendship from opposite sides of the competition, all while finding out which of the people in their lives are really their true friends. Will go through the first task, Yule Ball, and the winter holidays. Sequel to "International Magical Cooperation: To Make Friends".
Author Note: Hello lovelies! I had originally planned on not starting to post the sequel until I had the whole thing written, so I could post it all a chapter a day like that last one. However, life has been busy and I keep writing future plot for my other story instead of being able to focus on what comes next, so I'm going through a little bit of posting-withdrawal. So, no promises on when new chapters will come, only that they will (I really like this story!). For obvious reasons, this next part of Harry's fourth year will veer away from the letter format I used in my previous story.
I hope you enjoy the chapter! I've missed being able to update my stories.
All the color Harry's face had gained on the walk back to Gryffindor tower (with Fred and George dropping jokes from either side of him) was immediately lost upon reaching the portrait of the Fat Lady. A roar of laughter and loud voices could be heard all the way out in the corridor, reminding Harry of the raucous parties that followed Quidditch victories. Tonight, though, the last thing he felt like doing was celebrating.
"You shouldn't feel guilty…" Fred said quietly, placing a supportive hand on his shoulder. On Harry's other side, George mirrored the action and finished his twin's thought. "…you haven't done anything wrong."
"I'm not supposed to be in this tournament!" Harry insisted, rubbing suddenly sweaty palms on his robes. "I'm a fake! Cedric's the real Hogwarts champion, he's the one who deserves a party, who's earned the chance to represent the school, who—"
"Nonsense child," a gently scolding female voice suddenly cut in. Harry looked up, surprised to find the Fat Lady smiling sadly down at him, and a thin woman he vaguely recognized standing beside her in the frame. "I was there when the headmaster and the others were talking; you are a 'real' champion in this tournament as much as any of the others. Someone entered you against your will or knowledge, and still you tried to do the honorable thing and withdraw. You've nothing to apologize for!"
"That's right," the Fat Lady cut in, nodding along with her friend's passionate words. "And I, for one, am not about to let you walk into the Lions' Den holding yourself to blame. I've been guarding this entrance for centuries, and I know how you Gryffindors work: you lot have many admirable traits, but jealousy is one of your less attractive qualities. You are going to walk in there with your head held high, and you are going stand strong by your story, doubters be damned!" Harry was startled by the how much the painted women seemed to be invested in this, but he couldn't help but smile all the same.
"You sound like a mother," he told the Fat Lady with a small chuckle, and grinned when she blushed and grew momentarily flustered at the observation.
"Yes, well, I've no doubt Lily Evans would have given you the very same talking to, and whapped you upside the head to boot if you kept wallowing in your misplaced guilt. Godric knows she gave Remus Lupin a good boxing 'round the ears often enough in their time." Harry's eyes had grown wider and wider as the portrait reminisced, and his he had to quickly to snap his gaping mouth closed in order to gush out an over-eager response.
"You knew my mum?! Of course you did, how did I never think of that? You must have been guarding Gryffindor for ages, you would have seen her grow up, you would know so much about her, about dad, I—Merlin, you probably know who mum's friends were and if she ever broke curfew and if dad ever skipped classes and whether or not they slept in on the weekends and if dad got nervous before Quidditch games and—"
"Harry, whoa little brother…"
"…take a breath, yeah? She just said she's been hanging here for centuries…"
"…I'm sure you have time to ask your questions." Harry startled at the twins' gentle words, having forgotten they were even there in his excitement, despite the hands still resting supportively on his shoulders. He looked back at the Fat Lady and flushed when he saw that she was dabbing away tears with a handkerchief, the thin woman beside patting her friend's shoulders and gazing down at Harry with suspiciously bright eyes.
"'M sorry," Harry murmured self-consciously, "I didn't mean to go off like that…"
"Oh sweet-heart, don't apologize," the thin woman told him softly (the Fat Lady, apparently, too emotional to answer herself). "Lydia's not upset, and I'm sure she would love to tell you about your parents."
"Shush Violet, I can speak for myself," The Fat Lady—Lydia—attempted to sniff haughtily through the last of her tears. "Now. You've had a long day and you've a house full of rambunctious lions to face, so you won't be standing around this drafty corridor any longer tonight. You rest up and come back and visit me tomorrow, I'll tell you all kinds of stories." With that, the portrait swung open and Harry found himself being pushed forward into a throng of cheering Gryffindors.
"Ready or not," he thought nervously, taking a deep breath and squaring his shoulders as the questions started flying. As soon as he was able, he was going to find Ron and escape up into their dorm.
Viktor boarded the Durmstrang ship to be met by hearty applause and raised glasses. He had no doubt that half his year-mates would be fully inebriated by morning, and was once again grateful that Emil, at least, was sure to remain sober with him. Sure enough, the smaller man appeared suddenly at his side and pressed a tall, cool glass into his hands, whispering discreetly that it was nothing more than colored sugar-water. Viktor grinned and raised the glass before downing half of it to thunderous cheers from his classmates. He knew from experience that Emil would make sure the glass never emptied no matter how much Viktor drank from it, and it would keep others from trying to pressure—or trick—him into drinking.
"How is he?" Emil asked him a few minutes later, as the applause and cheering were finally ebbing down. Viktor merely rolled his eyes, not even remotely surprised that his best friend knew he had been talking to Harry.
"Scared. Angry. Incredibly strong and brave." He suddenly remembered the red feather in his pocket and pulled it out with a sappy grin on his face, tucking it into a button-hole on the front of his cloak and brushing a finger carefully against it. He merely grinned more when Emil raised an eyebrow and snorted at his behavior.
"He forgave you then?"
"He gave me a second chance; a fresh start to being friends. I am looking forward to it." Emil nodded, indicating his approval, but there was a calculating gleam to his eyes that told Viktor he had more to say.
"You did not see his reaction when his name came out of the cup, Viktor; I do not believe he entered himself into this tournament." The concern and sincerity in Emil's voice was enough to make Viktor wish they were alone so that he could sweep his pseudo-brother into a crushing hug without judgment from others.
"Neither do I. Standing theory is that whoever did put his name in the Goblet of Fire is hoping he won't live to see the end of the competition." Emil's eyes narrowed at this new bit of news, always the first to bristle at any sign of foul-play or injustice. With a predatory look in his eyes, he suddenly stood and waved his wand in an intricate pattern, mumbling a complicated stream of Latin under his breath. Moments later, each of the Durmstrang students aboard the ship drew to a halt, staring confusedly at the colorful ring of smoke circling each of their heads like halos. Emil turned to Viktor when he spoke, but it was plenty loud enough to carry through the suddenly silent deck of the ship.
"I marked them while you were gone, while listening in on their conversations. The green rings indicate someone who feels Potter had nothing to do with ending up in the tournament, or at least feel what's done is done and no one ought to claim the right to persecute him for how things turned out. Yellow are those who feel cheated by Hogwarts, but not necessarily Potter in particular; they only got yellow if I felt they didn't pose any real threat to him. The red," here he paused briefly to scowl around at the half-dozen or so red-haloed students. "The red rings show someone who was heard threatening Potter or plotting some sort of 'revenge.'"
Viktor glared around the room, standing up and molding himself into his most intimidating posture—something he had seen his father do many times. He was gratified to see many of his classmates gulp nervously and avert their eyes.
"I will say this only once," he growled out in sharp Bulgarian. "Harry Potter is a friend, and an extremely brave person worthy of respect. He has faced more in his young life than most grown men I know. Now, to add to those burdens, he has is being forced to compete in a tournament that he does not approve of and did not enter. Someone has gone to great lengths to put Harry Potter in harm's way, and I will stand against anyone who adds to that threat." A heavy silence met his words for a few moments, but Durmstrang students were anything but timid. Soon enough, those with red rings around their heads began shifting unhappily under Krum's challenging gaze.
"What gives you the right to dictate our loyalties, Krum?" Pyotr Poliakoff puffed up his chest importantly and sneered in Viktor's direction. Poliakoff was a whiny, sloppy boy who liked to think he ruled the school because he came from the wealthiest pureblood family in Russia. Unfortunately for him, almost none of his classmates could stand him, and even Karkaroff—who was never above sucking up to the rich and powerful—looked disdainfully upon the pompous young man.
"I never claimed a right to dictate your beliefs," Viktor answered with deadly calm. "I simply reminded you that no one ought to attack an innocent fourteen-year-old boy; a reminder that any decent human being shouldn't need in the first place."
"Yeah? And who's going to stop us if we do decide to go after the little muggle-loving cheat. You?" Pyotr scoffed at him, and Viktor clenched his fists until the knuckles cracked. Before he calmed himself enough to answer, however, Emil stepped in front of him and calmly threw a leather dueling gauntlet onto the floor between himself and Poliakoff.
"I, Emil Damyan Todorov, place Harry Potter of Hogwarts under my express protection. An attack on him is an attack on me, and I will not hesitate to challenge an honor duel to seek vengeance." The majority of the Durmstrang students stood frozen in shock as Emil made his first ever duel challenge. Poliakoff—though at least intelligent enough to look and sound uncertain when he next spoke—was not smart enough to back off entirely.
"You? Do you even know how to duel, Todorov? I wouldn't want to disturb your delicate sensibilities with the violence of a duel… or make you cry when you lost." Viktor clenched his teeth, wanting nothing more than to lunge at the arrogant bastard, but knew it would dishonor his friend to interfere at this point. Emil, however, simply grinned a chillingly slow and malicious smirk.
"Use that pea-sized brain of yours, Poliakoff; I have been the top student at Durmstrang throughout my education—easily. I received top scores in every Dark Arts and Defense Against the Dark Arts practical we've been given. I've lived and studied with Stefan Krum since I was eleven years old. I promise you I haven't avoided dueling all these years from lack of ability."
"What is all this then?" Karkaroff's sharp voice suddenly rang through the room. Pyotr jumped, along with many of his peers, but Emil's gaze never faltered.
"Just a friendly chat, Igor; nothing for you to worry about," Emil lied smoothly. Karkaroff's eyebrow twitched in annoyance at Emil's casual use of his given name, but he knew better than to challenge him on it with Viktor standing beside him.
"Friendly chats can wait until morning. To bed, all of you! Viktor, come; we shall fire-call your father and tell him of your latest accomplishment."
Emil stared Poliakoff down until the larger boy had turned and disappeared into the bowels of the ship before he relaxed his shoulders and walked silently with Viktor towards Karkaroff's private quarters.
When Harry finally escaped the Gryffindor Common Room his head was pounding and he had an overwhelming urge to kick something. Repeatedly. He couldn't hide his sigh of relief when he pushed the door to the fourth year boys' dormitory open and saw Ron sitting on the side of his bed.
"Oh thank Merlin," Harry sighed, flopping down on his own bed and turning his head to send a small smile in Ron's direction. "I couldn't find you anywhere!" Harry explained, eager to hear his friend's opinion on who might have put his name in the Goblet and why; eager to talk to someone who wasn't pelting him with accusatory, invasive questions and implying—if not outright stating—that he was a cheater. "I kept looking for you but everyone down there was—"
"How'd you do it then?" Harry snapped his mouth shut at Ron's sharp question, a sinking feeling in his stomach as he blinked confusedly as his best mate.
"How… do what?" He asked stupidly, desperately hoping he was misinterpreting the direction of Ron's inquiry.
"Oh come off it," Ron snarled, jumping to his feet and glaring down at Harry. "I just thought you might at least tell your best friend how you tricked the age line and got yourself in the tournament, but then again why would you? Not like you told me before so I had a shot at it, too. Couldn't risk someone else getting in over you, though, could you? Famous Harry Potter can't be beaten out by some nobody-Weasley!" Harry's mouth was hanging open now, his eyes wide in shock at Ron's words. Somewhere, deep down, he could feel anger and a healthy dose of righteous indignation brewing. At the moment, though, it wasn't enough to penetrate his shock and dread.
"Ron, I didn't… I swear…" he denied weakly, shaking his head and trailing off as Ron shot an uncharacteristically harsh sneer in his direction.
"What was all the rubbish at breakfast yesterday, then? 'This tournament is really dangerous… only a fully trained wizard has any business entering.. I have no desire to risk my life for any amount of money or glory,'" Ron mocked in an exaggeratedly high-pitched voice. "Real clever Harry, you almost had the rest of us fooled; had to make sure no one was watching you too closely while you snuck into the competition, eh?"
"What the hell are you on about?! I didn't put my name in the ruddy goblet! I never wanted any part of this competition! I certainly never wanted to be competing against Shadow! Now Viktor's gone and got himself chosen as the Durmstrang Champion and we'll be on opposite sides all year and—" Harry caught sight of the murderous look on Ron's face, and suddenly froze, realizing his mistake too late.
"Viktor? As in Viktor Krum?" He said slowly. "That's who you've been writing to all summer? Were you ever going to tell me, then? Oh wait, I forgot; Ron Weasley isn't in the same league as Viktor Krum and Harry Potter!" Ron very nearly spat out Harry's name, something only Snape and Malfoy had ever effectively achieved in the past.
"Ron, it wasn't like that! He—I didn't know who he was until today, and I just hadn't gotten a chance to—"
"Save it, Potter," Ron snapped, and a moment later his bed curtains were being whipped closed between them, the unmistakable tingle of a silencing charm being placed effectively ending any hope of Harry continuing the conversation.
Blinking back tears, Harry stood frozen for several moments before turning on his heel and digging through his trunk for the closest bit of parchment and a quill.
I was chosen as a fourth champion for the Triwizard Tournament.
Before you ask, NO, I didn't enter my own name. I don't know who
did or how or why… though I suspect they aren't any friend of mine.
If you can't or won't believe me on this, I hope you'll just tell me know.
I can't handle anyone else I trust deciding I'm a cheat.
He shoved the note into his vanishing chest and slammed the top shut, feeling the familiar hum of magic that indicated the note had been sent successfully. As his emotions began to settle and the adrenaline drained away, Harry's shoulders slumped and he buried his face in his hands. He already felt like a moron for the melodramatic note he had sent to Sirius, especially when he didn't yet know if Sirius still wanted him after his questions about gay wizards. Feeling thoroughly defeated, Harry got ready for bed. He could only hope that things looked better in the morning.