"There you are"
Harry looked up from watching his feet, to see Victor Krum standing just feet away from him. His face was the same with the hooked nose, and as he started to close the distance between them, he saw the same duck walk. Harry smiled at the gracious host.
"Victor, how are you?" asked Ginny smiling up at the famous Quidditch player, though he had retired from the sport just last year.
"Very well, how are you Ginny?" smiled Victor; Harry frowned as he watched Victor appraise her with his eyes.
"Fine thanks" said Ginny smiling back.
"Err… Victor it was very nice of you to have us stay like this, under these circumstances and all" said Harry cutting into the conversation.
"It is no problem, anything for Hermioninny" said Victor. Harry saw Ron glower and look away
"Well, it is appreciated" said Harry not knowing what else to say. They stood in awkward silence for a few seconds before Ginny spoke up again.
"So, how far to your home Victor?" asked Ginny
"Not far, it is well hidden as Hermioninny knows this of course" said Victor smiling almost smugly now
Harry thought Ron would burst but instead saw him bite his tongue and look the other way; he knew he was trying to get back on Hermione's good side after the vampires wives dream.
"We will not be disturbed for quite a few days, and the only remaining staff is house elves. They are paid of course, Hermioninny talked me into freeing and paying them during my stay at Hogwarts. Very interesting school you have, I must say" said Victor talking most of the way.
Harry had nothing to say on the matter; he knew that the schools kept their teachings a secret to past on from generation to generation of staffing. Hermione now knew secrets she was just now able to learn. Some of which she wasn't able to tell them, even against Ron's urges.
"Well, we each have our own teachings" was all Ginny said
"That we do, Professor Karkaroff for instant was more into the dark arts, where the new headmaster is more like your Dumbledore I hear" said Victor
"I doubt that" said Harry his tone flat
"You do?" said Victor looking at him kind of surprised
"There is no witch or wizard like Albus Dumbledore" said Harry affectionately
"I see you are still loyal to him, even in death" said Victor stopping to look Harry in the eye
"Yes, why wouldn't I be? My headmaster wasn't afraid of Voldemort" said Harry
Victor seemed to consider this before talking "Yes, I was very ashamed to be a pupil of Professor Karkaroff's , he seemed more interested in my fame than in me"
Harry just let Victor talk, he seemed to be saying the words and believing them, though he knew he had said similar words to Hermione in their fourth year.
"No matter though we all have past we cannot deny, you understand that Harry?" said Victor beginning to walk again. Harry knew he was referring to when he had gotten the imperius curse on him.
"Yes" said Harry not wishing to elaborate on the matter, Ginny took his lead and picked back up on the conversation
"So Victor how is life without being a famous Quidditch player doing for you?" said Ginny and she and Victor kept their conversation up the rest of the way to Victor's house. Which wasn't hard for her, Ginny was as much a fan of Quidditch matched only by Harry and Ron.
They entered the grounds on the west side according to Victor, and the first thing that Harry saw was a rather large white building.
"Since we live among muggles, we are set up to run a goat farm. My father was put on to the business by another nearby farmer; learned a few traits from him and now I run one as a way to blend." Said Victor "Hermione said it was a good way to live the best of both worlds"
' Wonder when Hermione was here to see this? ' said Ginny mentally without looking at him.
' Don't know ' said Harry
' Though I don't think I care to know ' said Ginny
Harry had no comment to this as he followed behind Victor. More buildings came into view the further they walked. Than the main house, it was brick with black shutters beside the windows, the door painted to match. Green bushes had been planted below the first floor windows, and purple and gold flowers were in front of them, making the house look very Dursley-ish. Harry wondered who did the landscaping for this house of monstrous size. He sure there wasn't a boy living under the stairs here. Victor didn't stop to boast about it house, but kept walking on.
Harry had to admit that was one thing that impressed him about Victor Krum. He was unimpressed by the wealth and popularity. He reminded Harry of himself in this area.
"Nice place you got here Victor" commented Ginny without much interest, Harry liked that she wasn't the type of girl that got all carried away with shinny objects. There certainly had been a lot of shinny and expensive things in the Potter vault, but she had been unimpressed by them then as well.
Victor grunted a response. They entered the house from the back, and found themselves into a warm kitchen smelling of good treats.
"Master Victor, sirs" squeaked a voice from the other side of a side bar. Harry looked around to see bat like ears and a creature of only waist high. He recognized the creature as a house elf.
"We are fine, when is dinner Gretty?" asked Victor pausing for a moment to look down at the house elf
"Soon master, soon" squeaked Gretty
"Good, I am sure that our friends are hungry" said Victor
Harry was hungry, but he was also tired. They hadn't told Victor about the vampires they had run into; they had thought it best to keep that between the four of them for the moment. Harry knew they would have to return to the small village, and they would have to find Mihnea soon after they found this dragon and the rider.
Soon after Harry, Ginny and Ron were all settled into their rooms. Harry and Ginny were sharing upon Ginny's request, with Ron straight across the hall. This made it easier to practice without involving Victor too much; Harry preferred it that way.
"When do we start researching?" asked Ginny when Ron had exclaimed that his room was too big and that Victor was just showing off.
"Ginny we just only got in, can we not rest for the remaining of the evening." Said Ron
"Sure, but I was thinking the sooner we get all this done the sooner we can leave" said Ginny "But if you want to stay longer we can"
"No, in fact I think tonight would be too late, maybe we could start now. What you think Harry? A good spell should make no one hear any sounds" said Ron now showing his eagerness to leave.
"No, tonight would be more acceptable" said Harry "But it's not practicing we need, name a spell any of us can't do"
"So what do we do then?" asked Ginny. Harry could feel her trying to hear what he was thinking.
"I think we need to hear a few more children's tales" said Harry
"What?" asked Ginny curiously
"We really need to change your way of thinking, Harry" said Ron.
Dinner had passed and Victor was retiring to oversee his farm, keeping his promise to keep out of their way as much as possible.
Two nights later it was again that Harry, Ginny and Ron were in Victor's library with children's books strewn out to reveal children's classic tales.
"Who the bloody hell is Cinderella?" said Ron his face screwed up in concentration.
"It's a muggles tale" said Harry pulling another off the shelf.
"Barking mad if you ask me" muttered Ron. "A pumpkin into a carriage? I mean really, it's mad! They say that muggles couldn't live with magic, but here it is"
Harry was surprised at how many children's book was in Victor's house. Looking around there was easily 20 volumes.
' Maybe he likes to read them ' said Ginny mentally
' Maybe ' said Harry
' Or maybe he's planning a family and just haven't found the right girl ' said Ginny contemplating as she fingered and read through another small tale
Harry had nothing to say to that as he began to read a tale that sounded familiar.
"Hey here's a song that sounds familiar" said Harry
"Which one?" asked Ginny as she and Ron came to stand beside him.
"Oh that's just the witch in Hogsmeade" said Ron as he shrugged it off and went and sat back into the big arm chair near the fireplace
"Yes, the kids were singing it, weren't they?" asked Harry
"Yes, but Harry that tales been around for ages" said Ginny
"It would have to be wouldn't it?" asked Harry pushing a few books out of his way on the desk to read the words in the light.
"Well, yes, I guess so" stuttered Ginny not really understanding him yet
Spiders fear the one who lingers,
And centaurs well agree!
Even the Beasts that roam the woods,
Are chased by the site of thee!
Take one more step if you dare,
She'll be quite glad you did!
For braver is your soul than mine,
If you not hold your fears divine!
Your courageousness will fail at once,
If the forsaken comes to call!
Her wickedness taints the land,
Your bright soul will turn to black!
For evil is the one who lives,
In the forsaken beyond the path!
"Harry that just another ridiculous tale to scare kids" said Ron from behind another book titled Beetle Bard, after Harry had finished the song.
"Exactly, but don't all tales have to begin somewhere?" asked Harry looking from Ron to Ginny. "Take Beetle Bard, remember what Mr. Lovegood said. Some authors left us clues as to solve future problems or just to hide the clues till we need them".
"Harry where are you going with this?" asked Ginny
"I think that this witch exists and that she still lives in the Hogsmeade forest" said Harry
"Harry, thats absurd" said Ron actually looking at him now "Your actually listening to that git years later?"
"Yes, Harry that tale has been around since mum was a girl" said Ginny
"Then maybe we should talk to Mrs. Weasley then" said Harry starting to get aggravated at the pair of them
"Well, how do you plan on talking to her" ask Ron his face of disbelieve
"Floo?" said Harry looking at Ginny
"I don't know Harry, I mean we are at Victor's and all" said Ron looking around at the furnishing around him
"What Ron?!" said Ginny putting her hands on her hips "Don't think Victor knows about the floo network?"
"It's not that, it's just well, think it's safe?" said Ron "To talk, I mean?"
"I think so, I don't see Victor being a spy for anyone" said Harry
Ron looked unsure, but said nothing more as they made a strategy to talk to Mrs. Weasley, after-all who else would best know their children's stories? Harry could think of no one else.
"So we ask mum, then what?" asked Ginny as they rearranged the library back to its original glory.
"I'm thinking that the children stories, well they just aren't only stories" said Harry giving up on trying to put everything back in its same spot.
"Okay so say some of them are true" said Ginny as she whipped out her wand and every last book with soaring back to its place.
"Defiantly need to remember that one" said Harry giving a small smile
"Masters Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley, and Mistress Weasley, Supper will be served in the dining hall" interrupted a small squeak. Harry turned to see the small house elf Gretty.
"Thank you Gretty" said Ginny
"Would Mistress like me to show her the way?" squeaked Gretty
"That would be great" said Ron jumping off the chair again. "What?" he asked looking at Ginny and Harry who were now looking at him smirking "I'm hungry"
Diner that night turned out to be interesting enough, there were a few dishes that must have been German, as Harry couldn't identify them, then there were a few he did, and it was these that Harry, Ron and Ginny all dug into.
"Gretty?" asked Harry before allowing himself to eat
"Yes, Master" asked Gretty appearing at his side with a small pop
"Where's Victor?" he asked
"Master Victor, had an appointment at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry" squeaked Gretty "Master Weasley, are you okay?" Ron had started coughing
"He's fine" said Harry quickly "Gretty why did he have to go to the school?"
"An appointment with Professor Granger" said Gretty. Ron quickly excused himself. Harry met Ginny's eyes from across the table.
' That's not good? ' commented Ginny her eyes screening the food set before her.
' Wonder what was so important that Hermione had to met with Victor ' said Harry passing by the German foods completely.
' Dunno, but he might need a friend right about now ' said Ginny eyeing him now
' Ginny guys don't just gather in the loo to have a talk ' said Harry
' I know that ' said Ginny back mentally, 'But I also know that Ron isn't in the loo '
' How do you know that? ' asked Harry sending her a questionable look at her, just as he was reaching for a delicious looking piece of chicken.
' Ron never ran to the loo when he was upset, it's usually his room' said Ginny leaning forward and snatching his piece of chicken
"Hey that was mine" said Harry sitting back in his seat indignantly, "I'll go and talk to Ron" leaping from his seat
"Good bloke" said Ginny tearing into the chicken quarter with her teeth
"Better than seeing you eat my piece of chicken anyway" Harry missed the grin on Ginny's face as he left the room in search of his best mate.
Ron had had enough, he thought as he continued on concentrating on blocking Hermione from his thoughts. Harry had been trying to teach him how for months, fitting that he would get the hang of it when he decided that Hermione just wasn't the girl for him, not anymore, she wanted Victor, he knew that now. All of this time, he had been denying that his future bride had been a little sweet on the sod.
Ron stood and crossed the bedroom that was supposed to be his for the remaining of his stay, but that was about to be cut short. His knapsack was on his bed, his ruffled clothes rested in a pile beside it. Neatness had never been his strong suit and he knew it, and he was fine with it. Now looking around though, he wasn't so sure. Victor turned out to be as much a clean freak as his mum back at the burrow.
The Furniture was highly polished and gleamed with care it had received despite its rather old looking age. The closet had even been hung with new clothes that Ron could guess, were for him, just in case Hermione had said.
Now Ron wasn't so sure.
Now he wondered; did they plan this? Plan to ensure they wouldn't be disturbed this day? It was Saturday and the students were probably in Hogsmeade, plenty of time for them to meet today.
Ron glanced out at the grounds, thunderstorms were moving in and lightening was flashing clumsily across and through the gray clouds. He guessed it mirrored his mood.
The knock on the door, didn't even make him turn around or even allow the knocker to enter. He knew it was Harry, his perfect friend that had stuck by him through all the years of stubbornness and even landed a girl to match him in wits, even if it was his sister. He was happy for her, by all means. But as he examined his friends relationship with his sister, he couldn't help but compare it to his and Hermione's.
"Sirius might say a knut for a knock on the head"
Ron heard Harrys voice behind him, but ignored the non-humorous joke.
"Murder me Harry" said Ron not bothering to turn around, though he almost meant the words, he knew that Harry would no sooner murder him than vice versa.
"Yeah, sure, cause you know that would take away the pressure of the situation, oh and not to mention it would also be nice to see Dumbledore again, in the flesh so to speak" said Harry coming to stand beside him by the too large window, even if it did fit the room perfectly
"Did they plan this, Harry?" started Ron words coming out in a gush as he started pacing the room, he had quite a few steps to go before he had to turn around and begin the pace again.
"I really don-" began Harry, but Ron cut him off not really hearing him.
"I mean really, do they think I'm a stupid sod who can't catch on to what they are up too! I'm not as smart as Hermione" he spat out her name "or you or Ginny, but I'm not a hopeless case either!"
"-and if they think I'm just going to sit by and allow them to make a fool of me Harry, they have another thing coming!" said Ron making up his mind in flash and storming his own way over to the bed and began shoving his own clothes into the beaten down knapsack.
Ron could tell Harry was eyeing him warily from behind him, but he was glad that he didn't come in here to talk him out of his actions.
"Sure good plan, but can I ask something before you start to head back?" asked Harry coming once again to stand on the side of the bed.
Ron stopped momentarily, and glanced up at Harry, just to see his face looking blank at him and his eyes saying they've seen this all before.
"What?" asked Ron, before resuming his stuffing once more
"Before you make the decision to leave, isn't the ministry looking for you?" asked Harry smartly
"Well, yeah, but there are plenty of places to hid Harry" he countered
"Sure, but where is this grand place that we three brilliant wizards and witch, mind you, couldn't think of before we came to dear old Victors house" said Harry his eyes never waving from Ron's
"Well, I-" stuttered Ron
"Oh and not to mention, that if someone see's you at the moment they would no doubt forget that your wanted by the ministry we protected a few years ago and ever since then, and report it to our dear sweet friend Rita Skeeter" said Harry calmly
"You don't kno-"
"I don't do I? Have we not witnessed in our fifth year at Hogwarts everyone condemning Dumbledore, their hero from Grindenwald, all that year" said Harry
"What would you like me to do Harry?" asked Ron, throwing his knapsack of the bed and watching its contents spill out onto the clean floor "I'm not perfect, I'm not a clean person, I don't even know how to wear one of those animal suits that Hermione wants to put me in for the wedding. But I'm sure Victor knows, he's so knowledgeable, why don't Hermione just get over her pettiness and marry the bloke she truly wants, why the hell does she have to drag me along all of these forsaken years and meet up with him behind my back. Why does she have to think she can just play with my heart like that? Well, guess what SHE CAN'T, I WONT ALLOW HER TOO!" Ron stopped yelling and collapsed on the floor beside his rumpled clothing.
Ron wasn't aware of anything anymore, so when Harry patted his back as he sat beside him on the floor, he looked up at him stunned that he was even still there.
"Ron, you may not want to hear this, but you just can't go out there and get caught. If you do I will have to come out and get you, then your sister will come out and get me. " said Harry
"No, you listen to me now, I'm the most stubborn bloke in this room according to your sister, and I reserve that right to give you some advice mate" said Harry trying to add a little humor, but Ron wasn't in the mood for it.
"Ron, have you asked Hermione what she was meeting with Victor tonight about?" asked Harry
"No, but-" began Ron
"Then how can you just sit there, scream and say that they planned this and she just pitting you, Hermione has liked you since the second year" said Harry
"Pitied me, is more like it" said Ron
"I wouldn't-" started Harry
"Look Harry, I appreciate you for talking to me, and making sure I'm alright and all, but Hermione and I have been fighting over the wedding anyway. I just don't think it was right of me to ask Hermione, when clearly we just aren't ready" said Ron
"How about we go to the library, I think I saw a nicely equipped pub bar" suggested Harry.
"Already ahead of you, mate" said Ron heading for the door
It was three am, Ginny had awoken a short time before and it had not gone unnoticed that Harry hadn't crawled in bed beside her yet. She stood out of bed, shoved her arms in her robe, grabbed her wand before leaving the over-furnished bedroom behind.
She moved silently through the hallways, and found her way to the library, opening the dark wooden door she smiled as she found, Harry and Ron passed out on the sofa's. The empty bottles of firewhisky at their feet. Ginny shook her head, blokes never knew their limits, but she had a fleeting suspicion that harry wasn't going to listen to the limit on any level. He was drinking to help Ron, even if her brother was a git. She crossed the room, and took the covers off the back of the couches and covered them both up one at a time. For Harry she bent and kissed his cheek, holding her breath and avoiding the drool that was streaming from his lips. Noticing that Gretty was also keeping them warm, by keeping the fireplace roaring with flames
She walked to the door again, and closed the door behind her softly. Ginny leaned against its hard surface thinking of Ron. She couldn't blame him for being upset, she thought Hermione had indeed over-stepped her own limits yesterday by meeting with Victor without letting Ron know. She couldn't imagine doing that to Harry, or even him doing it to her.
She decided she would just have to talk to Hermione; she thought about sending her a holler and laughed silently as she pictured Hermione's face if she were to get it on Monday, right in front of the staff and students. She moved away from the door when a noise down the hall sounded loud and clear. Behind the door she heard Ron snort in his sleep and Harry mutter something about a skrewt, she knew he still had nightmare about some of Hagrid's monster creations.
Ginny was already moving silently down the hall again. Creeping slowly, she withdrew her wand. She came to the circular hallway that over looked the downstairs floor. She was surprised to see Victor in the entry way taking off a soaked traveling cloak. Gretty was at his feet trying to help, but proving to being more of a hindrance then help.
"How was everything tonight?" Victor spoke
"Great master, I told Master Harry that you weren't going to be home for the evening as you says"
"Very well, how was dinner then?" Victor asked as he let Gretty take his cloak to the closet and come back with house slippers
"Good, master" squeaked Gretty as she tried to start removing Victor's shoes with him still standing in them
"Gretty, how did Harry react to my not being here?" asked Victor sliding into a chair close to the front door.
"He was fine master, even gave Mistress Ginny his chicken" squeaked Gretty. Ginny had to stifle a laugh.
"Yes, that's all grand, but how did Ron react?" asked Victor. Ginny became more alert
"He left the table sirs" squeaked Gretty "Went to bed and never came back"
"Good, good, I think I'll retire to the library for a warm drink of firewhisky" said Victor standing to his feet in his slippers.
"Gretty would think that master would want her to bring it to him in his room, sirs" squeaked Gretty moving to stand in front of him.
"Fine, I am pretty tired, Hermione likes to talk too much of Ron and their wedding plans, and I've grown quite tired. Thank you Gretty, I'll be expecting you to retrieve a bath for me while I undress" said Victor as he and Gretty started up the opposite set of stairs that lead to the master suits. Ginny moved into the shadows, not wanting to be seen.
When Victor had disappeared down the hall way and Gretty had even reemerged from his living quarters, Ginny shivered. Her eyes met Gretty's from across the way and her nerves still weren't settled as Gretty wink then disappeared with a small pop that Ginny's mind didn't even register.
Ginny moved down the hall again, she had the thought to sleep next to Harry on the sofa in the library, but resisted the urge to do so as she slipped back into her room. She had to contact Hermione and this conversation just wasn't going to wait!