A Matter of a Lifetime

By RahNee

Pairing: V/Hr

Rating: Strong PG-13

Warning: Not DH Epilogue-compliant

Summary: It started as just a small matter, really; a boy intrigued by a girl. They did not know how far it would progress, nor that it would become a Matter of a Lifetime.

Author Note: This story is actually made up of snippets from my larger, multi-chaptered, epic-proportioned (and quite likely out-of-control) story titled A New Definition of Family. It occurred to me that I had a nice little story arc for Viktor and Hermione occurring among all the other pairings in that story, and that it just might stand on its own. Let me know what you think!

A Matter of Curiosity

Viktor Krum was used to girls swooning over him. And he knew that they were all interested in him only because he was famous. After all, he would not be considered "handsome" by any stretch of the imagination. He was gangly, awkward, and slouchy, and while he may have had a decent enough face, he wasn't graceful; unless he was on a broom, of course. He had no illusions of himself as suave and debonair. As a result, any girl who showed more than a passing interest in him was suspicious, and met with indifference. Yet, amazingly, most girls didn't take the hint. It was galling, and very tiresome.

Viktor supposed that the first thing he noted about the Hogwarts girl with the frizzy brown hair was that she didn't act like the other girls did around him. She didn't fawn over him, giggle when he walked by, call his name or follow him like a lost puppy. She practically ignored his existence. It was refreshing. It intrigued him. It made him want to see more of this quiet girl with the ink-stained fingers.

Now that the first task was over, he'd had time to do some investigation, and so, with the confidence of one who was doing the pursuing for a change, he entered the library armed with new information, not the least of which was her name. She was there, at her usual table, a picture of calm and tranquility amid a swirl of books, ink pots and parchments that fanned out away from her like she was the eye of a hurricane. Viktor was pleased to see that the youngest Hogwarts Champion was not with her. He hadn't been back to the library with her since the first task.

Viktor smiled as he walked across the library toward her table, mostly to cover the nervousness he suddenly felt. Chasing a Golden Snitch came naturally, but chasing a girl was entirely new to him; what if this went badly? He swallowed hard as he stopped next to her and said quietly, "Miss Granger?"

Hermione was startled by a low, intriguingly accented voice. She turned to see none other than Viktor Krum smiling a bit awkwardly. The first thought that came to mind, even as she answered, "Y-yes?" was: He looks much better when he smiles.

He cleared his throat. "I vould very much like to learn more about the Castle Hogvarts. I vas told that you are an expert on the subject," Viktor's voice rose hopefully. He was delighted to see her blush a little.

"Well, I have read Hogwarts, A History a few times," she said modestly, "but I don't think that qualifies me as an ex--"

"For example," he interjected smoothly, "vould you explain to me vat is the purpose of having four Houses?"

What was he playing at? She studied him closely. He really looked like he was interested to know. "All right," she said, gesturing to a chair at the table, "I'll do my best."

Hermione didn't even really mind when the inevitable gaggle of girl admirers started lurking nearby, whispering and giggling annoyingly. After all, what was the passing irritation of a few pesky devotees compared to the heady feeling of having an older boy (and it didn't hurt that he was an internationally-known Quidditch star) hanging on your every word? Besides, she was willing to bet that none of those girls had ever gotten close enough to him to know that his eyes were hazel, there was a small cleft in his chin, and he had a rather appealing dimple in his right cheek when he smiled…

A Matter of the Heart

A Hogsmeade weekend was coming up mid-way through January. Hermione mentioned this to Viktor one evening in the library, and proceeded to tell him about the only all-wizarding village in the entirety of Britain. "And when it is all snowy like it is right now, it looks like something out of a storybook."

Viktor was content to sit and let her voice, kept low because they were in the library, wash over him. He was quite sure that Hermione could describe the dirtiest neighborhood in the ugliest part of Sofia, Bulgaria's capital city, and make it seem beautiful. He smiled. "It sounds loffly. Tell me vich are the places you most like to go there."

His ruse to keep her talking was working, but the Hogwarts librarian, who reminded him of a prune, was giving them nasty looks. He touched her arm. "The sour lady is, how you say… glaring at us," he interrupted. "I do not vant you to get in trouble."

Hermione glanced around before taking his hand and whispering, "Come with me." She led him toward the back where there was an alcove near the section on magical forensics. Not many students visited these stacks. "We still need to be quiet, but we won't draw her attention here."

Viktor looked around and wondered how Hermione knew of such a spot, which practically begged for a couple of students to steal secret kisses there. He wished he knew if she'd ever shown this place to Potter. "How did you find this place?" he asked casually.

"Please, I've been coming to this library for four years now," she noted with asperity. "This is a good spot to get away from other students when they are whispering at the tables." She chuckled. "Just like we were."

He laughed softly. "It is also good place for a boy and a girl to talk in romantic vay…" he suggested.

Hermione blushed. "Oh. I didn't—I wasn't--"

Her reaction told Viktor all he needed to know. "It vas just an observation, Herm-own-ninny. I like this place. Ve can talk here vithout the library lady breathing on our necks, yes?" He sat on the low cushioned bench and patted the seat next to him. "Come and finish telling me about Hogsmeade."

She sat and turned to him. "Viktor, it's silly for me to keep prattling on about Hogsmeade when you could just come on the outing and see it yourself."

"Vat do you mean?"

"Come to Hogsmeade next weekend! I could show you around if you like." She bit her lip when she realized how forward she sounded.

"Oh!" Now he understood why she had brought it up in the first place; she wanted to go on the outing with him. "I do not think that vould be good idea," he said regretfully. As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he knew they had not come out the way he meant. He shook his head in frustration; his grasp of English always seemed more tenuous when he was around her.

Hermione frowned, trying to mask her disappointment. "Why don't you want to go to Hogsmeade?" She stopped herself from adding with me.

Viktor could hear the hurt that laced her words. He reached out and took her hand. "Herm-own-ninny, it is not that. I vish I could go, especially vith you. But, I regret much, if I go, there vill be crowds of people; reporters, fans… you see?"

"Oh." Hermione did see. "I didn't think of that. I guess I forgot that you, well… you draw a crowd. I'm sorry."

Viktor felt a strange sensation twinge in his chest. "No, mila. Do not be sorry." He glanced around; they were still alone in the nook in the library. He tugged her hand and pulled her closer to him, eyes fixed on her warm brown gaze. "That you think of me only as 'Viktor,' and not 'Viktor Krum, Bulgarian Seeker' makes me very happy."

His words were soft and low, and beguilingly accented; they seemed to weave a spell over her heart to make it beat faster. She felt his hand very gently tilt her chin up, and his smile, with that damnable dimple, filled her vision as he leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers. Hermione closed her eyes and slipped her hands up his arms, and she was swept away in a current of pleasurable sensations as Viktor kissed her and kissed her, and kissed her again. She traced her fingers up his neck and into his dark hair at the base of his skull and kissed him back enthusiastically.

Here was a new kind of magic, one she had yet to study; the kind of magic that this Bulgarian wizard had used to change her into one of those girls who swooned at Slavic inflections and a nice set of shoulders. Her mouth curved into a smile under the sweet and purposeful pressure of his lips. She had always enjoyed investigating new topics, now hadn't she?

A Matter of Honor

Hermione hurried through the halls to the stairs that led to the Astronomy Tower, Viktor's note clutched in her hands. She had been so worried about him! In the days that followed the disastrous final task of the Triwizard Tournament, she had not been able to speak with him, not once. She rather suspected that he had holed himself up on his ship, much as Harry had bunkered down in his dorm, avoiding others in the wake of what happened that fateful night of 24 June.

Concern and her haste to see him made her imprudently pick up her pace. Viktor had acted under the Imperius Curse, had done terrible things against his will, and she knew, she just knew he was not handling that well. Her Viktor was proud and good and honorable; he would be beating himself up over this even though it was not his fault.

A glad cry escaped from her as she rounded the final corner and saw a large, slouchy shadow break away from the stairwell. Barely slowing down, she launched herself into Viktor's arms, babbling hysterically, "I was so worried… Hadn't seen you… Are you all right? ...Where have you been?"

Viktor's arms automatically wound around her and he clasped her to him to keep her from falling over, but several stunned seconds passed by before he began to rub soothing circles on her back and whisper, "Shhh," in her ear.

He hadn't expected this; he had been convinced that Hermione would be very upset with him, with what he had done. He shook his head ruefully. He should have known better. His Hermione was sweet and kind and found good in everyone, and of anyone here, she would have understood that he'd been unable to fight the curse that the Moody impostor had placed on him.

He loosened his embrace to lean back and look at her. "I haff missed you, Herm-eye-ninny." He brushed a tear from her cheek. "I am sorry I make you vorry."

She framed his face with her hands. "Are you all right? You're not hurt?" Her brown eyes were wide with concern.

Viktor shook his head. "Not physically hurt, no."

She studied him intently, the words he didn't say telling her volumes. She took his hand in hers and tugged it. "Come on." She moved to the stairs.

They climbed in silence until they emerged, both breathing a little heavier than normally, at the top of the tower. Several telescopes and some tall stools still occupied the round room, remnants of the O.W.L. exams that had taken place here not long ago. Hermione walked him to one of the windows and leaned a hip against the sill as she turned to look at him.

"Don't blame yourself for what happened," she implored in a whisper.

Viktor's face scrunched up in a grimace of self-loathing. "I vas veak. I should haff thrown off the Imperius. If I had, maybe… maybe things vould haff vorked out different vay." He yanked his hand from hers and brought both fists crashing down on the window sill.

Hermione almost touched his shoulder, but thought better of the gesture. "Not many can throw off the Imperius Curse, you know," she told him soothingly.

He nodded tersely, his jaw set, angry at having this weakness exposed to the girl beside him. Male ego made him want her to think him perfect. He did not look at her, eyes focused instead on the forest beyond the castle. "How is Potter?" he asked.

She sighed. "Physically, he's fine. He's healing." Viktor nodded again, and then silence spread before them, thick and brooding. Hermione placed a hand over one of his on the sill, and as if that was his cue, he allowed his shoulders to relax.

Finally, Viktor turned to her and pulled her hand to his lips. "I should haff realized that your presence is best medicine for me. And now, I haff vasted precious time; I leef in two days." He found his arms once again full of lithe, wild-haired girl, and decided that he would definitely never get tired of the feeling of her in his embrace.

Hermione pressed her cheek to his chest. "I'll miss you so desperately, Viktor," she said thickly.

"Ah, mila," was all he could trust his voice to say as he pulled her tightly to him. Then he gently lifted her face and leaned over to press his mouth to hers.

Like a flame to dried leaves, it didn't take much for the kiss to flare to something heated and consuming. Hermione's fingers twisted into his cloak; Viktor slid one hand into her hair and wrapped the other arm tightly around her waist, pinning her flush against him. He took her lower lip between his and ran his tongue over it, drawing from her a whimpering gasp. She parted her lips to his questing tongue and it was like a dam breaking; Viktor could not have stopped himself if he tried. He simply had to keep kissing her, forever.

Hermione felt his hot mouth trail kisses over her jaw and down her neck until he became hindered by the light scarf she'd wrapped around herself earlier to ward off the coolness of the evening. "Hang on," she gasped, breaking away from him and unwinding the scarf hurriedly before tossing it to the floor. He took the opportunity to shed the light-weight cloak he wore, but immediately returned to her neck and the soft skin she'd conveniently exposed for him.

Viktor registered that nimble fingers were slipping buttons through buttonholes between them, but it came as a bit of a shock when the cool air from the tower hit the bare skin of his torso as Hermione pushed his shirt open. He hadn't realized it was his shirt she'd been working on.

She heard his hiss of pleasure as she ran her hands up his chest, feeling the definition of muscle in his abdomen and chest, and the dusting of hair between his pectorals. She slipped her hands over his ribs and around to his back, feeling the ripple of muscle as his arms came around to unfasten her cloak. It dropped to the floor with a sibilant whisper of material sliding off her shoulders. Their mouths crashed together again as he began to unfasten her buttons. He wasn't nearly as quick as she had been. He blamed it on her distracting nibbling at his lower lip.

Moments later, or maybe an eternity, he couldn't be sure since it felt like both, they were skin upon skin with only the lace of Hermione's bra between them. Viktor felt like he might burst into flames at any moment.

Hermione felt like she was expanding, as if her skin was growing too tight for her body. Which was ridiculous, of course, because how could one's skin begin to shrink? Nonetheless, she felt as if something, some feeling was escalating inside her. Her stomach was performing acrobatics and there was a pulsing in her ribs that she suspected was her heart but seemed more like one of those big bass drums she'd seen in a marching band…

And suddenly, it occurred to her that this was it; all of her internal debates of should I, shouldn't I were now irrelevant because in two days, in forty-eight hours, all the agonizing over how far do I let this relationship progress? was going to be moot.

She trailed her fingertips along his ribs and around to the front before sliding her hands once again across his chest, reveling in the growling groan that escaped his mouth. That sound released the floodgates. Abandoning all sense of restraint and decorum now that they were so near the end, her hands skimmed downward until her fingers hooked on the waistband of his trousers.

Viktor pulled his mouth from hers in complete shock as he registered the sensation of her fingertips, nestled between his pants and his skin, playing gently with the line of hair that ran south from his navel. Not that he had any objections to what she was doing. Wait. He didn't have any objections, did he?

Viktor almost groaned aloud when the voice of his conscience elbowed and clawed its way to the forefront of his thoughts.

He took a step back. Her fingers remained. "You are trying to kill me, no?" he whispered huskily. "Because that might be good plan; if I meet my end now, I von't haff to say goodbye to you…" He put his hands lightly on her shoulders, not sure if he intended to push her away or pull her closer again.

"Viktor," Hermione whispered, "I've been thinking."

His lips quirked into a grin. "Vhy am I not surprised?"

She ignored the teasing, and gathered her Gryffindor courage around her like a warm and comfortable afghan. "Well, it's going to happen eventually, right? And I would want it to be with someone I really care for, and someone who would be respectful. And I know you would be very sweet and chivalrous about it, and not laugh at me, and, well, I can't think of doing this with anyone else, you see?"

Her earnest brown eyes seemed to swallow him whole. It took several seconds for everything she said to filter through the internal translator in his brain, and then several more seconds for him to comprehend what she might be implying. His eyes grew round as his mouth became completely desiccated. His voice came out quite higher than his usual register. "Herm-eye-ninny? Are you talking about… are you saying you vould, you vould… are you offering me your…"

Damn! He knew he should have looked up the word 'virginity' in his Bulgarian-English dictionary.

"What if I never see you again? What if I regret--" His fingertips on her lips stopped her.

Conscience did battle with hormones. It wasn't pretty; at first, the opponents seemed evenly matched, but Viktor hadn't been raised to respect and honor women for naught. He leaned toward Hermione and rested his forehead on hers with a deep sigh. "Mila, vould you haff me be a criminal tvice in one veek?"

"Criminal? What do you mean?" She frowned.

He lifted his head to look her in the eyes. "I do criminal thing, using the Cruciatus Curse," he said softly.

She interrupted with a low cry, "But you were forced to do it. You didn't choose to do it!"

"I know. But, it does not change fact. I vas lucky that your Ministry believed Potter and Delacour that I vas cursed and not acting as myself." He held up a hand to stave off her next protest. "Efen though I haff been cleared of charges, the mark on my honor remains."

"But what does that have to do with--" she asked, even though she thought she already knew the answer. She understood him well, her honorable, noble Viktor.

He broke in, "It's not that I don't vant--" He raked a hand through his hair in frustration. "Because I haff thought about it, many times." His cheeks were stained red as he realized he'd just admitted to fantasizing about her, but the look on her face was not disgusted. It was more pleased than anything and it gave him the courage to continue even though he felt he was doing a first rate job of bollixing the whole thing.

"It vould not be right, mila, for me to… for us to…" He smacked his forehead with the heel of his hand in utter frustration with his English-addled tongue. She stopped him before he could do it again. He took a deep breath. "You are not of—how you say in English?—major age. If I take vat you offer, then I am a lawbreaker, a villain."

He was torn, she could tell. His face spoke of determination to do the right thing, the chivalrous thing, but the rise and fall of his chest, the flush high in his cheeks, and the look in his eyes revealed the desire he was keeping in check.

Her heart melted; he was so gallant, such the gentleman throughout their courtship, and it made her light-headed. Was it possible she was swooning? She thought that very likely; she was fifteen, after all, and knew that she was much more in love with the idea of courtly romance than she was with the idea of losing her virginity.

She brought her hand to his cheek. "Viktor," she said softly, "I would never ask you to forsake your honor. I was frantic, I think, at the thought of losing you."

He placed his forehead on hers again. "I am not so easy to lose," he responded in a husky murmur, and he tilted his chin and pressed his lips to hers. The kiss was sweet, and earnest, and turned her legs to pudding. He broke it gently, barely pulling his mouth from hers and informed her in that same husky tone, "That vas hardest thing I haff ever done, just now."

"Kissing me?"

"Refusing you."

The edges of her mouth twitched. "Really? Harder than facing a dragon?"

He grinned. "Oh yes."

"Why?" The question was a cross of bemusement and flirtation.

"Because facing a dragon does not make my heart race as fast as it does ven I am facing you."

That did it. Her knees ceased to exist and she sagged into his arms. He caught her against him and she chuckled. "You see? This is why you are the perfect one for me to--"

He groaned. "Don't say it, Herm-eye-ninny, or I vill think you really are trying to kill me."

"No," she spoke into his chest. "I fancy you alive, thank you very much." She hugged him tightly, and he squeezed back, rocking her slightly and resting his cheek on the top of her head. They remained that way for a good while before she said, "I know we have agreed that there will be no sex," and she felt his arms tighten reflexively at the word, "but I want to keep snogging you."

His voice was the deepest she thought she'd ever heard it. "Oh, hell yes!"

----- -----

The night slipped, unnoticed, into morning and found the two sweethearts asleep in each other's arms, wrapped in a cloak and cushioned by another. Streaks of pale pink laced the sky when Viktor stirred. He looked down at the riot of brown hair that spilled over his chest and smiled. Her head lifted and she opened her eyes, answering his smile with one of her own.

"Vill you be in trouble, being out all night?" he asked in concern.

She shook her head. "I'll sneak back to the dorm. I won't get caught. Will you? Be in trouble?"

He smirked. "I can be sneaky, too." He untangled himself from her and searched for her shirt. "You should probably put this on if you vill be sneaking." His eyes sparked with mirth.

She pushed her arms through the sleeves and accepted his hand as he pulled her to standing. He lifted his hands to the buttons, but then dropped them. "I think, perhaps, that you should button shirt yourself," he noted ruefully. "I vill be much distracted."

She laughed. They finished dressing, and he located her scarf that had been hastily tossed aside the night before. He made to place it over her head but she stopped him. "I want you to keep it, Viktor. Something to remember me by."

A slow smile grew on his face as he placed it on his own neck, admiring the multicolored stripes. "Did you make this?"

"Yes." She had used scraps of yarn left over from her elf caps, and thought that it had come out rather cheery.

"I vill alvays keep it, Herm-eye-ninny."

Tears pricked her eyes. "You are getting much better at pronouncing my name."

"Mmm," he agreed. "I haff something for you as vell. I vould haff given it to you last night, but I vas distracted." He smirked. "Not that I complain." He picked up his cloak and reached into a pocket, pulling out a medal on a deep red ribbon. "This is medal I get for Bulgaria being Eastern European Quidditch Champions."

She turned it over in her hands. His name was engraved on the back: Viktor Krum, seeker, Bulgaria. "I can't possibly take this!"

He closed her hand over it. "Please. If you vant, think of it as loan. Ven ve see each other again, you can return if you like."

"Will we see each other again, Viktor, after tomorrow?" The tears threatened to spill over.

"I hope so, very much." He wiped her cheek with his thumb. "Vill you consider my offer? To come visit me in Bulgaria?"

She smiled and swallowed a little sob. "Perhaps…"

He opened his arms and she stepped into his embrace. "I also hope," he started, his voice rough. At his pause, she looked up at him wonderingly. "I also hope that someday you vill make me same offer you did last night…"

"Oh," she gasped.

"I loff you, Herm-eye-ninny. I do not know vat future brings. But you vill alvays own a part of my heart."

There he went again, vanishing the bones in her lower extremities with the spell of his words. Not that she minded. Not a bit. She smiled as her eyes grew moist again. "I love you, too, Viktor."

A Matter of…

He stood on the platform of the train station, not particularly handsome, but very striking in his appearance. He was tall, but gave the impression of someone who'd become accustomed to his stature as he grew into manhood. Those who had known him when he was on the cusp between adolescent and adult would have been surprised to see the absence of the slouching gracelessness that had characterized his youth. He paced with a lithe grace, releasing the pent up anticipation as he waited for the train.

She stepped down onto the platform and smiled. She had crossed the threshold from girl to woman a while ago, and she moved with poise, polished and confident. Her hair, though still long, was tamed into a plait with tendrils escaping to frame her face and her warm brown eyes. Her gaze locked with the tall man as she approached, observing the changes in him even as he noted the ones in her.

"Viktor, it is good to see you!" She stepped into his open arms and allowed him to enfold her in a warm embrace.

"Hermione, I am glad you came," he said in her ear, happiness lacing his words.

She looked up at him into his dark eyes. "You said my name! Correctly!"

He inclined his head, grinning. "I haff many years of practice now, mila."

She threw her head back and laughed. The sound echoed down the platform, turning heads as passersby wondered at the glad sound. They made a striking pair, the man and the woman; tall, dark and brooding coupled with honeyed warmth.

She dropped her eyes to his neck, and her mouth opened a little in surprise. "I can't believe you are wearing it!"

"I did say I vould keep it alvays, did I not?" His smile did funny things to her heart.

She pulled a round, shiny object from her pocket. "I know you said I should consider this a loan, but would you mind terribly if I asked to keep it?" Her smile was teasing; he'd forgotten how it could make his insides twinge.

"It vas alvays yours." He proffered his arm. "Vould you like to go now?"

She hooked her arm into his. "I'd love to." As he led her to the exit, she leaned into him and said in a low and sultry voice, "Viktor, I have an offer to make to you."

He stopped and turned, looking into her eyes and reading mischief there, but also something deeper, something that sent a visceral frisson through his body. He leaned forward slowly. She lifted her chin. Their lips met, sweetly, softly tasting and reacquainting. It did not take long for the kiss to deepen, and they spent minutes, or perhaps days, snogging on the train platform before they finally stopped to breathe.

A slow, sexy smile spread across his face, revealing the dimple in his cheek that she still saw behind closed eyelids late at night. "I vas hoping you vould say that, Hermione."

He took her hand, lacing his fingers between hers, and tugged her toward the exit.

A Matter of a Lifetime

A/N: The last two sections, A Matter of Honor and A Matter of a Lifetime, were written as a gift to honor my dear friend Avari20's graduation from college on August 11, 2007.

I would love to hear what you thought of this! Leaving a review will certainly help prevent me from dying of curiosity, so my family would probably be very grateful to you for being so kind as to give me your feedback. Thanks.