The evening had been a total disaster so far.
The meal had tasted fine, but her dinner companion had left a lot to be desired. It was obvious that Viktor was distracted because he'd probably said all of a dozen words during their entire dinner. Hermione had suggested that they go ahead and leave several times when it became apparent that he didn't seem to want to be there. He'd protested, of course, and looked at her with that quiet intensity that she still wasn't used to after nearly two years together.
She'd thought it was okay when he gave her that look and decided she was just imagining things. Then he'd started fidgeting and shifting in his chair and looking so uncomfortable that she'd been unable to ignore the suspicion that he just didn't want to be there with her. It had been his idea to go out tonight so she didn't understand why he'd bothered to ask her out to dinner if he was so distracted or had somewhere else he wanted to be instead.
When she happened to be distracted that way, it was usually work related. She was horrid at bringing her work home, both physically and mentally. It was actually one of the few things they argued about consistently. He thought she worked too much and too hard and she stubbornly refused to acknowledge that he was right. It wasn't really her fault that she'd only had work and friends to keep her life full for the years after the war before they met again by chance. Their friendship, which had grown through years of letter writing and occasional visits when they were younger, had developed into something more and eventually they'd become romantically involved.
Meeting Viktor again and beginning a relationship hadn't ever been expected. In all honesty, one reason she refused to alter her habits too much was the belief that he'd eventually move on and then she'd be left with changed habits and it would hurt far more. It was a defeatist attitude, she knew, but relationships were not something in which she excelled or could study to do better so she treated them carefully. Even when they'd moved in together last year, she'd been stubborn at altering too much when it came to work.
Viktor sometimes brought his work home with him, too. When his team lost, he'd brood. When they won, he'd be happy and want to celebrate, which usually resulted in an amazing shag. She knew his current mood wasn't due to work, however. The season had just ended and the Quidditch team Viktor coached had won their first World Cup so he really should be quite happy and celebratory tonight instead of twitchy and silent.
It was annoying to be involved with someone whose behavior she couldn't easily predict. Viktor was usually moody and unpredictable, often silent and brooding around others but never that way around her. That's what bothered her the most, she decided. Even when they'd been younger and developed a strong friendship that had eventually included her first kiss and first actual relationship, he'd always talked to her. It had been a struggle, at first, as English wasn't a language he knew well at all back then and still wasn't one of his strengths a dozen years later.
He'd gotten more confident over time, though, and she'd found his determination to learn how to speak her language so they could converse very appealing. When he'd not had the words or she hadn't known how to put her own feelings into words, they'd just sat by the lake in a comfortable silence that said everything neither one of them could say. This silence tonight wasn't like that. It was awkard, stilted, and left her rather confused.
It was between dinner and dessert that Hermione had finally come to a conclusion: he wanted to break up. That would explain dinner at her favorite restaurant and his odd behavior. He had probably met some fit Quidditch player with big breasts and skinny hips with a name like Sasha or Tania. Hermione knew that Viktor would never cheat on her, but it didn't mean he might not fall for someone else and want to explore his options. He was too much of a gentleman to stay with her if Sasha the Slag had caught his interest. This was a farewell dinner before they went home and he packed up his things so he could run off with the woman that currently occupied his thoughts.
That knowledge made dessert taste like sand, not that she knew what sand tasted like but she was certain the comparison was adequate. Every time he looked at her with that look, the one that had normally told her he loved her, wanted her, and couldn't really believe she was his, she became more melancholy. She loved Viktor and had honestly expected them to be together in the closest thing to happily ever after that existed in the real world. A part of her was raring to fight for him, to refuse to let him go, but she couldn't stand in the way of his happiness and would never force him to stay with her if he'd found someone else.
Viktor looked as if he were going to confess the real reason they were there several times. He'd open his mouth, run his fingers through his shaggy black hair, rub the bridge of his long, crooked nose, and then scowl at his plate as he cursed in his native language. When dessert was finished and he still hadn't said anything, she was ready to scream at him to just get it over with so she could buy a tub of chocolate ice cream and wallow in misery for the remainder of the weekend.
The check was paid and they were walking away from the restaurant when he took her hand and stopped her. She looked at him, feeling a chill in the air despite the warmth of the summer evening around them, and waited.
"Ve haff to talk," he told her quietly. She heard his voice falter and realized he was nervous. Even with her anger and hurt at what she knew was about to come, she squeezed his hand gently to let him know it was okay to take his time. English was more difficult for him when he was particularly emotional so she was aware of the struggle he was probably having.
"All right," she replied softly, not sure how one was supposed to sound when about to be dumped. When she and Ron had ended their relationship, it had been a mutual decision. They'd both pretty much just smiled at each other, said some things just didn't work out as you always imagined them to, and then they'd hugged. It hadn't been emotionally charged, which had been a contradiction to most of their relationship, and had easily settled back into a friendship that was even closer after being intimate for that period of time.
"I vant to be telling you something," he said as he stumbled over the last word. He frowned and again ran his fingers through his hair in a nervous gesture that she usually only saw when his team was playing a match. If the circumstances had been any different, she'd have thought he looked rather adorable with his unusually messy hair and would have been thinking very inappropriate thoughts regarding how sexy she found him.
"Just tell me, Viktor," she urged softly, ready to get it over with so she could start wondering where things had gone wrong when everything seemed so bloody right.
"Her-my-nee, ve are---I am---vould you---" He licked his lips and she saw him take a deep breath, his broad shoulders rising then lowering as he let the breath out.
"Viktor, it's okay. I've figured it out," she finally whispered as she took pity on him.
"You haff?" His eyes widened and he stared at her with a look of anxiety and possibly fear.
"Yes," she said as she looked down to focus on the buttons of his shirt. "I must admit that I'm surprised. I thought we were great together but I understand that people and relationships change. I won't make a scene or stand in the way of your happiness, of course."
"Vot?" Viktor scowled at her when he put his hand beneath her chin and raised her face to look at him. "Vot are you speaking of, Her-my-nee? I vish to understand but it is not, how you say, making the sense?"
"Making sense," she corrected automatically in the gentle voice she always used when helping him with the language. She cringed slightly and wished she could be angry, could yell and throw things and hex him silly for breaking her heart, but she was a bit too shocked and hurt to do much and she knew Viktor would never intentionally hurt her so it was difficult to be angry with him.
"Making sense," he repeated slowly before he shook his head and frowned. "You are not making sense."
"I'm trying to be mature about this, Viktor. Telling me that I'm not making sense is only going to make me angry," she pointed out softly. "I know you want to break up and I won't stand in your way if---"
"Vot?" The word was said gruffly and his hands held her elbows tightly as he stared at her. "You are vanting to break up vit me? I vill not---ve must talk because I haff to---you do not vant me anymore?"
"No, you want to break up with me," she said with just a slight sharpness in her tone.
"I vant to break up vit you?" he repeated slowly before he shook his head. "Ve haff to be talking now."
Before she could tell him there was no need as it just made things worse, he Disapparated them from the sidewalk. She was surprised to see that he'd brought them to his team's field instead of taking them home. "Viktor, why are we here?"
"Ssh," he told her as he gripped her hand and led her to his office. He picked up one of his practice brooms and then led her to the field. He set the broom down and it hovered a few feet from the ground. He looked at her finally and motioned to the broom. "Sit."
"I don't want to go flying," she protested instantly.
"Ve vill not fly," he told her slowly as he pulled her closer to the broom. "I think better on broom. Vords are not so difficult vin I am on broom."
"Yes, well, I don't think better on one of those things."
"Good. You are thinking too much, Her-my-nee. Is my turn to think."
Hermione frowned at him before she finally sighed. "Fine," she snapped as she hesitantly straddled the end of the broom, thankful she was wearing trousers instead of a skirt. A cushioning charm was in effect, at least, but she really wasn't very fond of brooms at all. The ground beneath her feet was helpful.
Viktor sat across from her and just stared at her. It was pretty dark on the field, the moon nearly full but not enough to give appropriate lighting. He seemed to realize the same thing as he conjured a few candles to float around them. She shifted uncomfortably as he looked at her carefully. "I haff made mess of things, I think," he finally said in a low voice.
"You can't help developing feelings for someone," she replied quietly.
"I vish to know vy being in loff is so confusing," he admitted. "I haff feelings for amazing voman. She is beautiful and too smart for me, but she has chosen me anyway. Ven she smiles, it is like sunrise. Ven she laughs, it is, how you say, like angels singing? I vish to see her grow old vit vite hair and vrinkles and smiles for grandbabies. I feel like I vant to neffer do anything but be vit her."
"Is my turn, Her-my-nee," he scolded gently as he reached over to brush her hair away from her face. "She is too smart, sometimes, I think, and vishes to explain things vit thinking too much but not, how you say, seeing things as they are? Like ven she gets ideas that are not making sense or does not see that I haff to be vit her to be Viktor. I vish to only make her as happy as she makes me. She is my sunshine and my angel, you see?"
Hermione nodded slowly and blinked away tears as Viktor took her hand and placed it on his chest. She whispered, "I think I see."
"Vy vould you think that I vould vant to leaffe you, Her-my-nee?" he asked quietly. "I am not me vitout you."
"I just---you were so odd at dinner," she explained as she felt his heart beat beneath her palm.
"I vas nerfus," he confessed with a crooked smile. "I vish I had not been scared. I vould neffer vish to make you vorry."
"I think too much," she admitted with a sheepish smile. "I had to rationalize your behavior and just acted rather stupidly."
"You are neffer stupid," he said firmly as he caressed her cheek and moved closer to her. "I know not vot that vord mean, rationalize?"
"Explain to myself," she defined basically. "Make sense of it."
"You make sense by not making sense then?" he asked with a slight teasing smile as his hand moved behind her and rested on the small of her back. "Ve still haff to talk, Her-my-nee."
"We are talking, Viktor," she told him as she reached up to brush her knuckles along the curve of his jaw. She felt rather foolish but was so relieved that she was wrong, the first time she'd ever been glad to be wrong, that she didn't care at the moment.
"You are, how you say, smart arse?" He smiled as he rested his free hand lightly on her thigh. His smile faded and he stared at her with that look until she licked her lips and shifted, suddenly remember she was still sitting on his broom. The realization that she no longer felt solid ground beneath her feet caused her eyes to widen. "Relax, Her-my-nee. I vill neffer let you fall."
"Viktor, I hate flying," she hissed as she gripped his shoulder tightly and wondered how long they'd actually been in the air, not wanting to look down to see how far up he'd taken them.
"You are scared of flying," he corrected. "I am vanting you to be scared so I vill not be nerfus."
"How is my being terrified helpful?" she asked sharply.
"I am scared, too, so it is fair if ve both are scared," he explained in a tone that almost had her seeing his logic before she remembered she was in the air flying about on a bloody twig.
"You practically live in the air. You're not scared," she told him as she scooted closer and kept her gaze focused on him.
"I haff been scared all night," he informed her with a slightly disgruntled tone. "I vas nerfus through dinner and vant muchly for this to be ofer but I vish for vords that are right. I vait and vait for right vords but I know not how to say vot I vant to say."
"Right words for what?" she asked curiously, a fluttering in her belly as she began to suspect…no, she had to be wrong. Surely she'd have guessed if he planned that.
"I vant to be vit you, Her-my-nee, vin I am too old to be on broom and ve are cranky vit age. I vish to haff babies vit you and vatch them grow up to be smart like their mum and good vit broom like me. Vell, you vould haff babies but I vould let you yell at me and hold your hand vin it is breathe-breathe-push," Viktor said softly. He bit his lip and mussed his hair again and then reached into the pocket of his best robe and removed a box that looked quite small in his large hand.
"Oh, Viktor," she whispered as she stared at the box and then him, holding tightly to the broom when he removed his hand from her back to fumble with the box.
"Her-my-nee, I think I haff loffed you since you first scowled at me so many years ago vin I go to Hogvorts and first see you in Great Hall," he told her with a slightly crooked smile, "and I loff you more now than I haff right vords to say. I know I am not good vit vords, haff broody moments that make you pull hair out, and am not smart like you vit much knowledge in head, but I loff you and vant to make you happy. Vill you marry me?"
"You are smart, Viktor," she corrected him quietly as she smiled, "and you're bloody great with words."
"Her-my-nee," he muttered as he waited, which served him right for making her believe he wanted to end things with his behavior during dinner, she decided.
"Yes, Viktor," she told him, not bothering to analyze the pros and cons or make lists or spend days considering such a life changing decision. He gave her that look and smiled in that way and she knew her answer.
"Yes?" he repeated as he blinked at her, his dark eyes staring at her as he tried to make sure he wasn't imagining things.
"Yes. A thousand times yes, you silly man," she said as she let him slip the ring on her finger before she leaned forward and kissed him gently. "Now get me back on the ground so I can do that properly."
"I haff confession," Viktor whispered against her lips as his fingers tangled in her unruly hair. "Ve vere not flying."
"What?" she asked as she pulled back and frowned.
"Look down," he suggested as he smiled sheepishly. She did so and saw that the broom was hovering above the ground just high enough that their feet wouldn't touch. "I vould not make you fly vitout asking, Her-my-nee, but I think better and find right vords when feet are not on the ground. Forgif me?"
"That was very sneaky, Viktor Krum," she informed him as she relaxed at the knowledge they were close to the ground. "I should be quite angry with you for tricking me that way."
"But you are not," he said with a far too smug smile. "You haff veakness for me, Her-my-nee Granger, just as I haff veakness for you."
"Hmph. I don't have a weakness. I just happen to like the way you kiss," she told him matter-of-factly. She laughed when he pulled her close and kissed her thoroughly, not even noticing when he urged the broom higher and headed in the direction of home.