They only stopped writing while she was running. They had danced at the wedding sharing secret smiles; she pressed a note into his hand as she was claimed for a dance by another. When they had had to flee, she had looked to him before she vanished.
She didn't send another letter for nearly a year, not until the war was over. The day after, in the fuss and bother, she borrowed a Hogwarts owl, sending it on the long flight with only four words scribbled on the parchment attached to its leg.
I'm safe, it's over.
She spent the days following regrouping, mourning, attending funerals and not running. Not running was a good feeling. She accepted the offer of hospitality extended by the Headmistress and moved into the guest wing. Harry moved in with the Weasley's, surgically attached to Ginny.
She tried not to think too deeply about anything, lest she wake screaming herself hoarse. She spent her days fixing masonry, exhausting herself beyond her endurance. It was a week after her letter had been sent an owl found her at breakfast.
I'm coming, wait for me.
She read it through blurred eyes, the tears tracking down her face. Her breakfast companions assumed the worst and smiled pityingly, leaving her to her tears. She didn't bother to explain.
Three days later, the Headmistress found her in the library sorting books, putting them back on the shelves. She and Madame Pince had become colleagues of sorts, working together to get the library returned to its glory. The Headmistress interrupted their solitude.
"Miss Granger you have a visitor."
He brushed past the stern figure to stop in front of her and grasp her arms. The flow of Bulgarian was quick and she struggled to follow him, her skills rusty since the summer she'd spent with him. She didn't care, though, he was whole and healthy, and while she might not be whole, she was alive, and it was more than some.
She begged permission to leave her allotted tasks and led Viktor to an internal courtyard; they sat on the stone bench in the sun.
"You are well?"
"Mostly, there was an incident. We were caught, they wanted information I wouldn't give them."
She pulled the sleeve of her T-shirt up. The scar was ugly and red, still not healing properly even with Poppy's ministrations.
His face darkened. "Who did this?"
"She is dead, it doesn't matter. How long can you stay?"
"A week, then the circuit picks back up. What will you do now?"
"Stay, help out, take my exams, then I don't know."
"Come to me. Once your exams are done, come to Bulgaria, be safe. Come now and take your exams by correspondence. I do not wish to let you go."
She leant against him, her head on his shoulder, he pulled her closer wrapping an arm around her waist. "But Harry…"
"He does not need you anymore, you won. You deserve better; I will give you better."
"Yes," she sighed.
They said no more, each lost in thought and remembering. The sun went down, and they finally moved from the bench, stretching out sleeping limbs. Hand in hand they walked to the hall where food was being served.
"Where will you stay?"
"If not here then in the town."
"If you will have me."
She smiled at him and moved to speak to the Headmistress. The Headmistress frowned at the request, looking between Hermione and Viktor, who stood waiting for her by the table. Her face eventually softened, and she nodded. Thanking her, Hermione left her to return to Viktor side.
"You can stay with me."
"That is good, come eat. Then you can show me the work you are doing in the library."
After dinner, they returned to the library and spent a couple of hours sorting, cleaning, and re-shelving books. Eventually tired, Hermione led the way back to her room. She dropped onto the small sofa, curling her feet under her. He joined her, pulling her down onto his lap, stroking her hair over and over.
"I have missed you, your letters. I was scared for you; I did not like being so."
"It was dangerous, and scary, and necessary, but now it is over. You don't need to be scared for me anymore."
She dozed on his lap, the fire crackling in front of them. It was cosy and domestic, and she felt the tension bleed from her frame.
"Come, you need to sleep."
"I don't, not anymore. The nightmares," she said.
"I will be here; you will not face them alone."
Once she'd changed and finished in the bathroom, she slipped into bed. Viktor joined her, and she curled her body around his. She slept.
When she woke the sun was streaming through the window, Viktor was propped up in the bed next to her, reading a book on advanced charms
"Good morning," he said softly.
"Morning, what time is it?"
"We have missed breakfast; I will call an elf, stay there."
She sat up rubbing the sleep from her eyes and trying to control her hair. Viktor returned holding two cups of tea. Slipping back into the bed, he handed her a cup before lifting an arm, inviting her closer.
"You are too thin."
"We didn't eat; it was awful, all of it. If I'd gotten something wrong Harry might have died, we would have lost the war."
"You didn't, he didn't, it's over."
"Yes, but I feel like the other shoe needs to drop."
"I know," she said desperately. "It's all ok now, but it wasn't for so long, and I don't know how to be now it is." She cried into his chest, her tears hot, soaking him.
He held her and let her cry. She hadn't listened when he told her not to fight the war, that he would hide her. She had been so brave, so loyal, and he just wanted her to be safe. The year without her letters - the first time since they met they hadn't conversed regularly had been hard. He'd been distracted, scouring the newspapers for information, wishing he hadn't when he found it.
His teammates knew he had a witch caught in the war in Britain, and had offered all the support they could. He had thrown himself into Quidditch, hoping to out fly his worries. He'd had the best and worst season of his life. Now he was here with his witch in his arms.
They spent the day working in the library, not speaking, just exchanging small touches, soft glances, reassuring themselves that the other was close. Lunch was a picnic by the lake, away from the other volunteers that might intrude on their time together, to speak to Quidditch star Viktor Krum, or war heroine Hermione Granger.
The evening addition of the Prophet broke the story that he was at Hogwarts. Whoever had told them hadn't known he was staying with Hermione, but the speculation of their relationship from the tournament had been dragged up again.
Harry arrived in the morning looking for her.
"Hello," he said, having tracked her down in the library. "I saw the Prophet, are you alright? Obviously, it's a load of rubbish; I know you haven't been in touch since the tournament." He looked behind her rather at than her. "The Ministry have offered me a place, and I've accepted, Ron too. So you take care of yourself OK?" He patted her on the shoulder. "It was great that you helped, but you need to move on now. It's over, go back to your studies, they made you happy."
She stared at him; this was the man she'd abandoned her parents for, spent a year living in a tent, scared, cold and hungry. She nodded at him lacking anything else to do, and he smiled then turned to leave.
"Oh, since you've been here, you wouldn't know where Viktor is, would you? I thought I might see if he wanted to have a game of pick up Quidditch later. It would be good publicity."
Viktor was three aisles over, most likely listening, but she would stand against Bellatrix again before she told Harry. So she shook her head mutely and watched him leave. She turned away the tears coming, only to turn into Viktor's chest. He wrapped his arms around her, rubbing his cheek on her curls. "Come, you owe him no more. We will speak to your Headmistress, and then we will leave."
She could only nod, the hurt of Harry's disinterested betrayal stung, making her heart heavy.
They found the Headmistress in her office and explained that she would no longer be staying. Any correspondence should be sent via a solicitor. Viktor railed against her treatment by the so-called chosen one. The Headmistress looked at him with tired eyes. "Take care of her, Mr Krum."
The portkey was arranged and took them away the next morning. They arrived in the house in Bulgaria that she'd stayed in that summer, those years ago. In the forest, it was quiet and secluded. She walked out onto the balcony that wrapped around the upper level of the house, sinking into a chair, breathing the pine scented air deeply.
"What do you need?" he asked, worried by her silence.
She walked into his arms and held him to her. "This," she said softly.
He brought her over to a sofa and pulled her down to him. He called for an elf requesting tea, blankets, and some food. Then he held her and started telling her about the latest article he'd read on animation charms. She joined in soon enough, the draw of intelligent conversation her weakness.
They ate the food and drank the tea the elf brought. When darkness fell, the pixie lights illuminated the edge of the balcony, blinding them to anything past its edge. Drawing the small insects attracted to their glow, then the bats that fed on them. Viktor waved his wand, and a melody floated softly on the air, he drew her to her feet, and they waltzed together on the balcony below the stars.
They had each other for a week before he had to return to the training camp. It was a brief discussion, but she opted to go with him. Her studies could be packed into a bag; she didn't want to be alone, not anymore.
He trained and she studied in the stands. Warming charms and bluebell flames keeping her cosy, a transfigured lap desk on her knee. She would glance up and see him flying drills with his teammates. He would glance down and see her pouring over texts.
They didn't stop writing. She'd leave a note in his training robes; he'd leave a note tucked in her books. Small things, poetry, sonnets, shopping lists, arguments about magical theory. Her solicitor posted her Order of Merlin on to her; she left the box in a draw in the study she'd taken over in Viktor's house, and never opened it.
The team accepted her readily; she was talented and warm. She made Viktor happy; she hosted parties where they didn't need to speak of Quidditch but could talk about futures, and of family they wanted or had. She would not be star struck by their fame or appalled that they wanted to do something after Quidditch.
She took her exams at Christmas, six months after leaving England behind. In the New Year, while the Quidditch season was on holiday, they went to find her parents. The reunion went well, they forgave her but refused to leave. "There is no point," they said. "You don't live there anymore, let us stay and be happy. Live your life; we'll be here when you visit."
They returned home, her guilt so much lighter and she took an apprenticeship with the premier Arithmancer in Bulgaria.
At the end of the season, Viktor proposed. They married with Viktor's teammates and their parents present. It was small intimate and perfect. They stayed home together for two weeks as a honeymoon, seeing no one but each other. They talked about their future, of children they might have once Viktor had retired, and she had a career that could stand her absence. Of places they wanted to visit, of things they wanted to see. They argued about magical theory.
She gained her Mastery and began working for herself. Freelancing as an Arithmancer so she could go with Viktor as he travelled. She made her reputation for being hardworking and brilliant; soon Madame Krum was as famous as her husband, the Ministry offering any boon she could name to join them.
Four years later when the team travelled to England for the World Cup qualifiers, she went with them. The media fawned over her husband and exclaimed over the witch he called wife.
Who was the brilliant witch, Master Arithmancer that the Bulgarian government wanted so badly and couldn't get? Who was she, who was revolutionising the projects she worked on?
They interviewed them as a couple. So clearly besotted with each other, demanding the tale of how they met.
"He asked me to dance when I was 15, we haven't stopped talking since," she laughed.
"You were the thing I'd miss the most." He smiled into her eyes.
"Even then?" she laughingly teased.
"Always," he said, arms wrapped around her.
"Why the long sleeves? You're never seen in anything else," they asked.
"A quirk from growing up in a cold country," she'd replied breezily, trying to hide her nerves.
Harry approached, after the press finished with them, reaching a hand out to Viktor. "Great game! I haven't seen you play since the last world cup. You'll come to the after party?"
"We will attend with the team."
Harry looked her over, no recognition on his face. Smiling, he agreed to see them later. At the party she chatted in Bulgarian with the team, mingling only with them.
It added to her mystique, the witch who came from a cold country, spoke Bulgarian and English like a native. The witch who married the most eligible Quidditch player, and was a Master Arithmancer in her own right.
It was the portrait of Severus Snape in the headmistress's office who put it together. The furore of the missing Order of Merlin recipient had caused a media storm in Britain. Reports regularly popped up of sightings, and yet there she was, dancing in the arms of her husband, at some official party for the World Cup and no one was any the wiser.
"Minerva," he said to the Headmistress when they were alone, and the other portraits were elsewhere or sleeping.
"I know Severus, he gave me his word," She said her voice soft. "She deserved better, and he gave it to her. I won't betray her now."
It was another three years before Viktor announced his retirement, and started working in advanced transfiguration. Soon he was as famous for his work in that field as he had been for Quidditch, although they still argued about magical theory.
When they started their family, their circle of teammates ex and present, family and friends, celebrated the birth of their first child, and then their second.
They disagreed about schooling. Viktor wanted to send his children to Hogwarts, a more gentle education than the one he'd received at Durmstrang. She didn't want her children anywhere near England, where they would be singled out for their parent's fame.
Minerva was no longer headmistress. She had retired some five years before. They wrote and requested a meeting, wanting to discuss the current climate of a country left behind so many years ago.
Minerva greeted her at the door. "Hermione my dear." She hugged the witch to her. "Viktor," she said hugging him in turn. "I must thank you for keeping her safe."
The meeting was tear-filled, bringing back all the memories of loss she'd experienced. It was also joyous as they discussed their lives, the children were introduced to a long time mentor. Eventually, she agreed their children would experience the magic of her youth.
"Hogwarts has changed," Minerva reassured her. "It's better, the future brighter, it was hard work, but worth it."
When both her children graduated from school, Viktor told her to come out of hiding. She hadn't been hiding, she rebutted
"I left, and they didn't look very hard."
"There are people who want to hear your story. You should tell them of your sacrifice." He handed her the dusty box that held her order of Merlin that she'd never opened.
"You earned this," he said. "Maybe it's time you claimed it. Our children are grown, our future is our own."
"My life is here with you with our children."
"Nothing will change that." He reassured her. "I have an idea." He held out a hand holding several old journals and a pile of letters wrapped in ribbon.
"I kept them, with every letter you ever wrote to me. Write your story Hermione tell the world what I already know."
She dithered and did nothing for three months, then she relented and wrote her story. How she had grown up an ordinary muggle until her life changed one day when she turned 11. How her six years of schooling had taught her about prejudice and bravery, loyalty and betrayal. How she'd left a country that no longer needed her to find one that wanted her. She wrote about her career, her husband, and her children.
She never opened the box that held her medal, and indeed when the publishers asked her what she wanted on the cover, that was the image they used. A closed box containing the highest award a witch or wizard could get, left in a box forgotten while a full life was lived.
She sent the first copy off the press to her parents, the second to Minerva.
When it hit the UK market, the media frenzy lasted for months. It was a bigger splash than the expose on Albus Dumbledore. Their friends came round with their copies, awed at what she had accomplished and overcome. She shrugged their praise off, then changed the subject.
Her life, she was glad, continued as it had done. She and Viktor worked on their projects and argued about magical theory, their children came over for dinners, and they saw their friends regularly, it was a good life.
On their anniversary he took her out on the deck as darkness fell, the pixie lights illuminated and a soft melody played, they waltzed together under the stars.
"Skupa," he said. "What do you need?"
She hugged him to her. "This," she said softly.