A/N: Just a fun idea that turned into a monstrous 3,000+ word piece and prevented me from updating my other stories. Hope you guys enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Walburga Black's piercing wails penetrated the cheerful atmosphere of the kitchen. Bill jolted in his seat and Fleur swore in French as Harry quickly placed his hands over Dorian's ears to protect his innocent, eleven-year-old mind from Walburga's inappropriate use of the English language. Kreacher had vanished from sight. Moments later they heard him attempting to calm her, but her curses only got louder as Hermione and Viktor's voices drifted closer.
Bill ushered the arguing couple in and quickly shut the door behind them. It only took Kreacher a few more minutes to calm the raging, deceased matriarch, and when Harry felt it was safe enough he removed his hands from Dorian's ears.
"You two are still fighting!" said Fleur incredulously, closing the cooking book she and Bill were looking through.
Hermione huffed and walked towards the counter where she dumped several grocery bags full of half of the ingredients Bill and Fleur had sent them to retrieve a little over an hour ago.
"We are not fighting," said Viktor, sounding calm despite the annoyed look on his face as he walked to where Hermione still stood to drop his own bags. "We already decided–"
"You mean you already decided!" said Hermione, glaring at him. "I'm his mother, Viktor. I get to have a say in his education."
"Come on, you two!" interjected Bill, standing rather awkwardly between them. "Where did all that holiday cheer go? Just over an hour ago you two had to be told to keep your hands to yourselves."
"Yes, you made your suggestion and I don't agree with it," said Viktor, returning his wife's glare in kind and folding his arms over his chest.
"Oh, so you're just going to impose your decision on this family?" Hermione replied shrilly. "Tell me, what exactly made you think that I'll just let you enroll our son into that horrible school?"
Bill sighed. He walked back towards his seat next to Fleur and plopped down on it, defeated. There was no point trying when they weren't even listening to him.
Harry cast a silencing charm on the door to prevent another outbreak from Walburga, because from the looks of it their argument isn't likely to end anytime soon. He glanced at their son, Dorian, worried for a moment that the sight of his parents quarrelling might be frightening him, but to his relief and concern the boy seemed blissfully unaware of the tense, awkward situation his parents enforced on the room's occupants. He was busy nibbling on a piece of toast Fleur had given him earlier, only occasionally regarding his parents with mild curiosity.
"It's different now," said Viktor, who was better at controlling his voice but not nearly as good at controlling his expression. "They have a different Headmaster, better than Karkaroff. I met him."
"Well I haven't!"
"No problem. I will arrange meeting."
"Viktor, it's not about the Headmaster! It's the environment of fear they create and nurture, not to mention the school's obsession with the Dark Arts."
"Dark Arts helped you fight Voldemort, and you had to learn it from Harry because Hogwarts wouldn't teach you."
"That's not fair, you know very well why we had to make Harry teach us all those curses. We had to learn them. I had to use them, and when I did it was only to defend myself and my friends!"
"Ok, and if Harry didn't know curses?"
"We had good teachers, Viktor! It was just that one year!"
"Fine, I will allow you to win this."
Harry winced at her tone. If he knew Hermione well, and he happens to know her very well, whatever direction her mind is taking cannot possibly be good, at least not for Viktor. If the former Seeker had sensed at all the danger he's put himself in, he didn't show it. In fact, he seemed rather adamant on spending one or several nights on the couch.
"Education in Durmstrang is still better quality than Hogwarts," he said haughtily
"How on Earth could you possibly know that? Besides, only pure-bloods are allowed in Durmstrang and Dorian is half-Muggle."
"I told you, Hermy-own-ninny, it's different now. New Headmaster accepts half-blood wizards and witches if they are good enough for Durmstrang."
"But not Muggle-borns."
Viktor hesitated. "He's trying to change that."
"Viktor, I'm perfectly aware of the row between the Headmaster and the school board. Durmstrang never had a Muggle student before. It's all very new and foreign for them, and the change is much too sudden to be a positive one. There's still going to be a lot of discrimination in that school and I refuse to let my son endure it when he can simply go to Hogwarts and be with his cousins!"
"He will not endure anything because he has me as a father and you as a mother. No one would dare." He paused. "I could also teach him how to duel."
"He's eleven, Viktor!"
"I know how old my son is, Hermy-own-ninny. He's still going to Durmstrang."
"No, he's not! He's going to Hogwarts. He's already got his letter-"
"All Krums go to Durmstrang!"
"In case you haven't noticed, darling, your son's full name is Dorian Granger-Krum, meaning he's got a bloody choice this time."
"He's a boy, he doesn't know what's good for him."
"You're absolutely right, he doesn't. That's why he's going to Hogwarts where it's warm and sunny and not so bloody far away and hidden."
"It's not hidden. I know where it is."
"I will show you."
"Viktor, I don't fancy being Obliviated every time I feel like visiting my son. It's not always safe, anyway, to mend a person's memory so many times."
"That only happened once and the man is fine. He is confused but he is not dead."
"Viktor, please!" she sobbed, covering her face with her hands, and for a split second her husband faltered. "You're not even listening to me! Everything I say just doesn't matter to you, you just don't care about my feelings!"
Bill was about to get up again but was quickly stopped by Harry shaking his head. He's seen Hermione cry many times but he's only seen her fake it once in Umbridge's office in their fifth year, and despite the many years that passed since it hardly changed. Whether Viktor fell for it or not, and whether or not Hermione had used it on him before, Harry was interested to find out.
The Bulgarian's hard expression had softened. He stepped closer and placed his hands on her shoulders.
"Hermy-own-ninny, we have been married for thirteen years," he said affectionately, kissing her forehead. "I know when you are faking."
She ceased her sobs and slapped his hands away, now glaring at him with renewed vigor. "Perfect. So you can see that but not how bad Durmstrang is for Dorian?"
"And how is Hogwarts better?" he challenged, holding out his hand as he counted down the incidents she's been involved in during her schooldays. "First year attacked by troll, second year petrified by basilisk, third year almost kissed by Dementors, fourth year-"
"Fourth year I met my future husband," she cut in, glaring at him still despite her blooming cheeks, "and he gave me my first kiss."
"He was also Stunned and then placed under the Imperius Curse and then Stunned again," continued Viktor, now looking away from her face, "and then the first girl he's ever loved left him for a boy called Don."
"Ron! And I didn't leave, Viktor, you did. I had to fight a war."
"Hermy-own-ninny, I know name of boy in love with me." Harry choked on his coffee, having had a large gulp of the lukewarm drink just as Viktor said that. Bill and Fleur didn't even bother muffling their sniggers. "And in Durmstrang he won't be have to prepare for war."
"He won't have to in Hogwarts either, Harry doesn't go there anymore!"
"Thanks, Hermione," muttered Harry.
Hermione looked at him apologetically. "You know that's not what I meant, Harry, I–"
"I know, I know," he said, smiling reassuringly and waving off oncoming apologies. He then turned to Viktor. "Honestly, mate, there's nothing to worry about. Hogwarts is the safest place in the world, and Professor McGonagall is a brilliant Headmistress. I've got my two sons in and they're having great adventures that are not nearly as dangerous and life-threatening as mine were. Furthermore, it was at Hogwarts I was best prepared for my confrontation with Voldemort, who I assure you is definitely gone."
"Take it from him, Viktor, if not anyone else," said Bill. "Harry's the one that killed him."
"It doesn't matter if Voldemort is dead or alive," said Viktor, his expression darkening as his eyes fell on his oblivious son. "His followers are still alive. They will not hurt Dorian if they don't know how to find him."
They allowed the silence to settle as Viktor's words began to sink. Harry himself was stunned. It had never occurred to him that the surviving Death Eaters, those most zealous and loyal to Voldemort, might be planning to retaliate. Truly, what better way is there to hurt the Boy Who Lived than harm his own children and the children of those who helped him?
Harry was suddenly very worried about Albus and James, who were likely still sleeping upstairs. He was wondering if he'll have to courage to send them on the Hogwarts Express after the holidays. He looked at Bill's concerned expression and Fleur's hardened one and realized that they were probably thinking along the same lines.
The logical, Head Auror side of him scoffed at the notion. The remaining Death Eaters that have either narrowly escaped an Azkaban sentence or got released early had no chance at retribution. Most of them were cowardly and incompetent, they wouldn't dare make a move without another powerful Dark Lord to order them around, and as far as Harry knows there isn't one. Besides, he's got them all under surveillance as a safety measure demanded by the Ministry and by all wizards and witches. Should they plan an uprising, he will be the first to know.
Hermione was now staring anxiously at her son, who was still either blissfully unaware of the tension or simply uncaring. She looked at Harry hoping to find some kind of reassurance, and Harry opened his mouth to voice his thoughts and knowledge on the matter as an Auror, but Fleur beat him to it.
"That's just ridiculous, Viktor!" she said, laughing as her husband blanched beside her, apparently still thinking about the implications of Viktor's words. "These Death Eaters are all old now, and not that many! It will take them a very long time to build strength, if they want to, and they wouldn't dare with Harry as Head Auror. They must know that if their Dark Lord couldn't defeat him, then surely they can't!"
Viktor shook his head. "No, I'm not taking that risk."
"She's right," said Hermione, turning back to her husband and placing a gentle hand on his crossed arms. "Everything is under control, Viktor. You're just being paranoid."
"Hermy-own-ninny, I think you're not being paranoid enough."
"If paranoid is sending my son to an icy hidden fortress for ten months on the slight chance that a lone Death Eater might consider a rebellion," she said, pulling her hand back as if scorched, her voice now biting and cold, "then you're absolutely right. I'm thankfully not paranoid enough."
Harry braced himself for another loud session to begin after whatever it is Viktor was about to fire back, but to his surprise the Bulgarian smiled sadly. He lifted his hand and brushed a stray curl behind his wife's ear, making her stiffen instantly but regard him defiantly still.
"One day I will be crazy, Hermy-own-ninny, and it will be your fault."
"That's funny, because I could say the same thing about you."
He hesitated, then said: "I know you can't sleep without potion." He was trailing his hand from her cheek, along her neck and shoulder, down her arm and finally he stopped on her forearm. His thumb grazed the thick fabric of her sweater's sleeve that covered Bellatrix's scar. "I know why you cry in the bathroom, why you can't talk to me sometimes, and why you do more work than you should. I see you suffer, Hermy-own-ninny, and I can't stop it. I can't help you no matter how hard I try. All I can do is watch, and it's not… it's not a nice feeling because I love you."
Harry looked away from them and back at Dorian, who was now distracted with a word puzzle on the back of an old copy of the Daily Prophet. It hadn't occurred to him that Hermione was still having nightmares, or that Ron might be having nightmares as well, his two best friends that have been there for him even when he least deserved it, and he was suddenly consumed by guilt and anger, partly at himself for not considering the possibility and partly at his friends for not confiding in him.
Disturbed as he was, Harry couldn't help but understand. Nightmares are now a part of their lives. It's nothing new to worry about, it's one of many invisible scars the war has left them. Harry had always considered himself fortunate to have Ginny holding him every time he wakes up in cold sweat. She always knew what to say, and he did too whenever it was her turn to have her sleep disrupted by nightmares. Hermione, he realized, didn't exactly have that kind of comfort. She couldn't just share the horrors of war with Viktor as simple as Harry could with Ginny, not when he hadn't experienced it himself. If she were to make him understand she'll have to spell it out for him, and Harry knows from personal experience how difficult and draining the process could be.
"It did hurt," she said, her voice now soft and cracked. Harry looked up and saw that her eyes were glistening. "It still hurts, but it doesn't matter because I had friends. A lot of them died young, but they died fighting so that Muggle-borns like me wouldn't be prosecuted. Together we fought to secure a safe future for our children, one of tolerance and unity that we couldn't have, and I can't just give in to the fear that there might be witches or wizards out there plotting things against me, Harry, or Ron. It'd be an insult to their memory and sacrifice."
Viktor opened his mouth to protest but she quickly cut him off: "the point I'm trying to make is that I was never alone, Viktor, but you were. Just stop arguing with me for a moment and think about it. You've had your first meaningful relationship when you were eighteen with a girl you barely knew, and it was all due to pure chance of the Triwizard Tournament taking place in that specific timeframe when it had been discontinued for over two hundred years. You also had to visit a different school for that to happen. Now tell me, what are Dorian's chances of living the kind of life you had before the Triwizard Tournament now that there's hardly anything linking the three European schools?"
Viktor took a while to answer. He seemed very uncomfortable with the direction their argument was taking, and had probably taken this time to compose himself. "Dorian is not the fastest Seeker in the world."
"He is the son of one."
"Doesn't matter, I retired."
"And yet you still can't seem to go out in public without transfiguring and altering your facial features."
"What about you, you're a war hero and now Prime Minister."
"Viktor, being the son of a Prime Minister is hardly as exciting as being the son of the world's fastest Seeker."
"Not true, son of Prime Minister has more connections."
"Yes, well, children don't think about these things."
"Viktor I hardly think any parent would go through-"
"No you would not!"
"How do you know?"
"Because I did not marry an opportunistic pig."
"That is correct, you married Lord Krum. Everything Lord Krum says is final, and Lord Krum wants Dorian to go to Durmstrang and that is final."
"First of all, Lord Krum is your father, and last I checked he's still alive. Second, he's already given his blessings for Hogwarts."
Viktor looked like he had been brutally betrayed. "When did you speak to my father?"
And they easily fell back into the same pattern just when it looked like they were about to reach a compromise. At that point Fleur had had enough. While Bill and Harry had been silently watching the exchange with some interest, Fleur was massaging her temples and muttering angry curses under her breath. She stared at them with the fury of a thousand spurned Veela. She lifted the heavy cooking book and slammed it hard on the table, startling even Dorian into dropping his half-eaten toast.
She then turned to Bill. "You're not going to say anything?"
Bill shrugged. "I wanted to see who'd win."
"Harry?" she said, turning to Harry and looking at him in the same manner his aunt Petunia did whenever Dudley asked why his favorite shirt didn't fit him anymore.
Harry laughed nervously. "You know me, Fleur, I'm always rooting for Hogwarts."
"Fine then, don't help," she huffed, turning back towards Viktor and Hermione with a sickeningly sweet smile on her pretty face. "While you two were fighting like children I have thought of the perfect solution." She then looked down at Dorian, who had been fully attentive since she made him drop his toast. Harry thought that she was about to ask Dorian where he wanted to go, which Harry thought was probably the best idea anyone's come up with, but Fleur had an entirely different plan in mind. "Have I ever told you about the school I went to, Beauxbatons Academy of Magic?"
The little boy's eyes lit up like Christmas trees. His parents, on the other hand, looked like they have just seen a boggart for the very first time.
"Well, it's in France and that never a bad thing," continued Fleur as she waved her wand and conjured a new piece of buttered toast on Dorian's empty plate, "The chateau is not old and boring like Hogwarts or cold and small like Durmstrang, and the food is definitely better than both! During mealtimes you will be serenaded by these lovely wood nymphs, and at Christmas the hall is decorated with those beautiful ice-sculptors that never melt!" she sighed dreamily, leaning her cheek on her hand. "Have I ever told you that the famous Alchemist Nicolas Flamel was in Beauxbatons?"
Bill seemed to have caught on her scheme, and being more than eager to put an end to their quarrel he joined in.
"Oh yea, great school!" he said, ignoring the dangerous look Hermione was shooting him and grinning down at the boy. "They're not threatened by a dark wizard as far as I know, and they accept pretty much anyone who can wield a wand. I mean they have to, since their headmistress is a half-giantess and all."
"She is?" asked Dorian, speaking for the first time and forgetting his toast in his excitement at meeting giants. "How big is she? Bigger than Hagrid?"
"Oh yes, much bigger than Hagrid," said Fleur. "Her mother was the biggest giantess of her tribe, but don't worry! Madam Maxime is a very lovely and sophisticated woman, she'll take good care of you."
"She came to our wedding, if I remember correctly. Really great woman." said Bill. His eyes flickered to Hermione and Viktor. "I mean since your parents can't seem to decide between Hogwarts and Durmstrang they might as well take you to Beauxbatons."
Fleur nodded. "It's the best of both."
Dorian turned to his parents, beaming at them. "Mum, Dad, can I go to Auntie Fleur's school?"
They looked at each other. Some kind of understanding seemed to pass between them and Harry felt relieved to be finally done with the issue.
Hermione approached Dorian and knelt down besides him. "That was a very kind suggestion from your aunt," she quickly shot Fleur a look that said otherwise, "but I'm sorry to say that your father and I have already decided which school you're going to attend."
Dorian's face fell. "Where am I going?"
The answers were given at the same time but from opposite ends. Viktor and Hermione looked at each other, their faces mirrored, first shocked and then angry.
Hermione was on her feet again. "What happened to 'all Krums go to Durmstrang'?"
"I changed my mind. Hogwarts is better."
"No it's not, it hardly prepares you for the real world!"
"Durmstrang is too violent and isolated! Also Dorian is son of fastest Seeker in the world, he will not have real friends."
"It doesn't matter, you've retired years ago! Besides, how do you expect him to get properly educated when Hogwarts keeps getting attacked every year?"
"Hermione, I don't go there anymore," said Harry. He was promptly ignored.
"Lord Krum decided on Hogwarts!"
"Lord Krum needs to stop referring to himself in the third person and realize that is he not yet Lord Krum," said Hermione, now seething at Viktor for attempting to use the old fashioned, forceful ways of pure-blood elites a second time. "And even if he were Lord Krum he does not get to force his wife to say things she doesn't agree to."
Viktor opened his mouth to retort but stopped. He frowned, trying to digest her words. "Are you talking about me or my father?"
"Well, your father is certainly not sleeping on the couch tonight!"
Hermione left the kitchen with a huff. Viktor stared after the door for an interval before rushing towards it and yanking it open, declaring into the hallway towards where Hermione marched: "I am not sleeping on the couch, I am sleeping with my wife!"
He then sprinted after her. Walburga's wails drowned out most of the argument that likely continued on the staircase, and for the first time Harry actually stopped Kreacher from attempting to quiet her. It wasn't that he welcomed it above Hermione and Viktor's shouts, it was simply an act of mercy on the elf's behalf. It was very unlikely that he'll get to calm the Black matriarch as long as they're within her vicinity.
"I really need to get rid of that portrait," Harry sighed.
Dorian looked confused. "So where am I going?"
Fleur smiled and pinched his cheek. "Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, of course!"
Ginny's appearance by the doorway had the immediate effect of drawing a smile on Harry face, despite the rather ungodly things Walburga was screaming in the back. She was leaning on the doorframe and looking over her shoulder with a puzzled look on her face.
"Is no one going to ask why Hermione and Viktor are snogging near Walburga's screaming portrait?"
A/N: Viktor's English will probably have improved considerably after being married to Hermione for so long (and he'd have learned to pronounce her name right by now) but I'd like to think that his English gets bad again when he's really angry or annoyed, and if it's towards Hermione he'd intentionally mispronounce her name just to piss her off but little does he know she actually thinks its cute. It's just a personal little headcanon that you're free to agree or disagree with, of course! Thanks for reading!