A/N: Special Thanks to TehAmazingFey for being a bouncing board when I found myself in desperate need of, you know, a plot. I didn't use any of your ideas, Fey, but I would have never finished this story without that brainstorming session early on.
Okay, so...I decided to split this fic into two for sake of the time line. 'Rival Hearts' is a companion fic for 'The Quiz' (Snarry) that anyone who has read 'The Quiz' will see actually takes place before it. 'The Game of Love' takes place after 'The Quiz'.
However, you don't need to be familiar with The Quiz to follow this story. It manages to stand on its own well enough.
Due to the fact that the Bulgarian National Quidditch Team, other than Viktor, are only ever given last names, I'm going to make up first names for them as needed.
Standard Disclaimers Apply: I do not own Harry Potter or any of it's characters. If I did, there would be a lot more sexual innuendo. The only profit I make from this fanfiction is the entertainment of my readers, and a boost to my ego, if I get good reviews.
Viktor Krum x Seamus Finnigan
Chapter 1: Polarity
Seamus Finnigan prided himself on his sunny disposition and winning personality, but as he read the front page of the Daily Prophet they both abandoned him.
IRISH NATIONAL TEAM CRIPPLED BY BULGARIAN BEATER
Irish Seeker Aiden Lynch was attacked last night after the team defeated
Bulgaria 170 to 140. Witnesses state Beater Andrei Volkov met Lynch in
a pub outside of Sofia after the game and the pair exchanged words, and
eventually came to blows. An Anonymous Healer in residence at Kablokov
Hospital for Magical Maladies claims that Lynch is "in stable condition, but
will not be playing Quidditch again any time soon."
The manager of the Irish Team, Desmond Brody, tells fans that Lynch's
place will be taken by the promising, young, Colin Doyle until Lynch has
made a full recovery.
In response to the incident, the Bulgarian National Team has been put
on probation for the remainder of the season and will not participate
in further games or be eligible for the Quidditch Cup this year. Volkov,
rumor has it, will be replaced in next year's line-up, but the Bulgarian
team is hesitant to make any formal statements as to who that replacement
might be. This reporter hopes it will be someone a bit less prone to violence.
He threw the paper down. "Can you believe this rot?!" he demanded. "Doyle! Of all the seekers in Ireland, they just had to pick Colin-freaking-Doyle! We'll never see the Cup this year now! He's a prat. No talent either. You should play for Ireland, Harry. We'd be better off."
Harry decided not to take that as an insult. He played seeker on the Gryffindor Team, but he wasn't so arrogant as to think he stood a chance against professionals like...well, like Viktor Krum, for example. Speaking of, "Krum must be really depressed." Viktor Krum--he'd met him on a few occasions, and the man seemed to exist for the sake of Quidditch. Harry found him strikingly ordinary other than that. Well, that wasn't fair. He was in the Tri-Wizard Cup, so there must be something about him, but...Harry couldn't see it.
"Actually, he seems to be doing well," Hermione piped up.
"You're still writing to that bloke?" Ron complained jealously.
"I'm allowed to have a pen pal, Ronald," she sighed before returning to the letter. "He's not happy about not being able to play, but he was offered a coaching job that will keep him busy the rest of the season. Oh, it sounds like it's going to be in England. He says maybe we can get together sometime."
Hermione sighed. "All of us, Ron. Honestly..."
"Hey, who cares about Krum?!" Seamus blurted, gesturing madly at the front page. "Lynch. Doyle. Doesn't anyone understand how traumatic this is?!" he bemoaned. No one got it. Quidditch was like...life. And if Ireland was left in Colin Doyle's clumsy oven-mitt hands, Seamus was pretty sure his life for the incoming months was going to suck.
The next table over, Malfoy was bragging loudly, no doubt to get their attention. "Oh yeah, we'll win this year. We have a secret weapon that's going to leave the competition in the dust. You'll see." He eyed Harry, who just glared back before ignoring him in that way that wasn't really ignoring, but pretending to ignore, and therefore appearing to be above petty rivalries when one really isn't above such rivalries at all. Seamus knew all about that sort of thing...and here people thought he was stupid. Hah!
In any case, Malfoy's secret weapon--and making jokes about what it might be--temporarily distracted Seamus from his grief over the dismal prospects of seeing Ireland at the Cup again this year. The suggestions ran from yet more new brooms to a giant that would bend over and fart the competition off the Quidditch Field--that one had been Seamus's addition. Harry had laughed, agreeing that Slytherin had always been full of hot air anyway. Eventually they decided that they'd just have to wait and see.
The Gryffindor-Slytherin game was set for Saturday afternoon, and time seemed to be flying. Seamus was still torn up about the Lynch incident the next morning. His entire extended family seemed to be too, given the amount of letters he received in the Great Hall at breakfast bemoaning the current state of the Quidditch world, excepting one cousin who was apparently a Doyle fan...but Seamus had just told Dean, "oh, that one's from Liam. We don't like to talk about him. Kinda weird, you know? Fruity. Likes red pumps a bit too much."
"What's wrong with red pumps?" Dean had asked.
"Nothing," Seamus answered. "If you're a girl."
Ron spit out a mouthful of juice. Harry made a face and had to scourgify his robes and glasses. "Thanks a bunch, mate."
"...sorry Harry, but you just don't blurt things like that out of nowhere! Blokes in red pumps don't go right with pancakes!"
Seamus dropped off mid-laugh. He went pale, and started elbowing Dean, who had been laughing and patting juice out of Harry's messy hair with a napkin. "Seamus, what..." but Dean was interrupted.
"Herm-own-ninny, good morning."
Hermione nearly jumped out of her skin, turning to find--much to everyone's shock, Viktor Krum standing over her with his usual shy little smile. Everyone in the room was staring.
"Viktor!" she yelped. "I...you...I mean, good morning. Of course. What are you doing here?" she blurted, giving Ron a good stomp on the foot. She could sense him giving Krum the evil eye.
"Did you not get my letter?" Viktor asked innocently. "I have vork here this season, as coach."
"Here? You mean here at Hogwarts?!" Hermione declared. "I thought you meant here in England!"
Viktor looked as if he was mentally going over what he wrote and suddenly realized he hadn't actually said Hogwarts in it. "I vas not specific enough, Herm-own-ninny. I am sorry. I vill be vorking as coach for the Qvittitch team of Slytherin. I received an owl from a Mr. Malfoy three days ago. Since I can't play Qvidditch right now, I thought teaching Qvidditch vould be okay. I arrived last night."
The entire group went silent for a long moment and Viktor didn't seem to understand what he'd said to upset them. Harry looked as if he'd swallowed a snitch, but it was many times its normal size and had lodged in his throat. There was no doubt what he was thinking. Even Seamus could admit--if never aloud--that Viktor Krum was an amazing seeker. If he was going to coach Slytherin, they really were in trouble.
"Did I say something wrong?" Viktor asked hesitantly.
"Uh. No, no," Hermione assured. "That's great. Good for you." Though it didn't sound as if her words convinced her, so it was doubtful they'd convince anyone else.
For once, Draco Malfoy's timing was merciful. He strolled down the isle and said, "Oh Coach, there you are. Come on then, I saved you a seat."
"I...oh. Thank you very much," Viktor answered clumsily, plodding along beside the blond.
"...guess we know what that secret weapon is now..." Harry mumbled.
Ron had gone pale. "Well," Dean said. "He only started coaching them last night. How bad can it go?"
The others gave him sharp looks for jinxing them by saying it. It looked like this time Trelawney wasn't necessary. Harry--and with him, the Gryffindor team, was going to die a horrible death by blows to the pride. The depression that leaked through Gryffindor House the next two days was tangible. No matter how many hours Harry made the team practice, nothing seemed to be coming together. How did you inspire a team when they knew they had that kind of opposition? 'Sure, they have Krum, but we have...Ron, stop cowering like that.'
Seamus watched the practices, and felt for the first time in his life like he really understood just the kind of feelings that drove people to suicide. Dean tried to cheer him up by giving him the last chocolate frog, but he wasn't ready and it splashed down into the mud before he managed to catch it--just making things that much worse. "Thanks for trying, mate," Seamus told him. "I think...I'm going to go study."
Seamus never studied. If he was considering it, Dean knew things were bad. "Hey, wait, I have a better idea. Why don't we check out that compatibility test your mum sent you. I hear they're pretty funny."
Seamus waved his best friend off on that note. "Nah. Maybe later. If I flunk another potions exam, Snape'll skin me. Mum'll dissect whatever's left when he's done. Be in the library, I guess." Why not? Things couldn't get any worse, could they? "Come get me for dinner if I'm not back by then."
The reason Seamus didn't study--it didn't take him long to realize--was how sleepy it always made him. He would have to keep potions homework in mind the next time he was too riled up about something to go to bed at a normal hour. So it was probably understandable that when someone tapped him on the shoulder he sat bolt upright and screamed like a girl. A strong hand behind him was all that kept him from toppling over in the midst of the chorus of 'shh!' noises. "I oh er...sorry," he muttered to no one in particular, feeling his cheeks heat as he looked up expecting to find Dean coming to get him for dinner.
But the person looking down at him with his hand on his shoulder, rather surprised at the way he'd over-reacted, was none other than Viktor Krum. "...sorry," the older man whispered. "I just thought..." His eyes wandered from the smeared scroll that Seamus had fallen asleep on to the open book, and then he raised a book he was holding to bring attention to it. "...this one would be more useful."
Seamus wondered why Viktor's hand was still on his spine. He figured the older man didn't realize it was there, but it seemed to burn a path of awkwardness in ripples up and down his spine until the only defense Seamus seemed to have left was to get snippy in hopes of scaring him off. "I'm not stupid," he snapped, snatching the book out of Viktor's extended hand. "I just didn't see it when I was looking." He focused on flipping through the book. What was he supposed to be working on again? Potions. Right. It was something about potions. He didn't have ink on his cheek, did he?
Viktor nodded. Hey, why was he sitting down? "It vas on a high shelf," he answered.
Seamus glowered at him. "Yeah. Ha-ha. It must be so nice to be tall. Excuse me for being vertically challenged." Had the Bulgarian brute sat down just to pick on him?
Viktor frowned. This idea had played out much better in his head. "I did not mean..." he tried, but didn't finish the sentence. Instead he settled on, "I have taken dis course in Durmstrang. I can help your studying, if you vould like..."
Seamus glowered, picked up his pile of materials, and moved three seats further to the right. "Like I need help from some nosy Bulgarian," he snipped. He did need help, but his Irish pride wouldn't allow him to sink to the level of accepting it from a Bulgarian. Ever since Ireland just barely defeated Bulgaria in the Quidditch Cup, they'd been rivals. It was even worse now that one of the Bulgarian Team had put Lynch in the hospital. Seamus was still bitter about what happened to Lynch, even if he knew Viktor Krum had had nothing to do with that. It was easier to just assume all Bulgarians are the same. Seamus wasn't in the mood to be particularly understanding.
Viktor sighed, got up, and left the library. What was that about?
Seamus frowned and opened the new book to the right section at last, and grudgingly admitted to himself that this one was easier to understand. 'But I'm not thanking him. No way.'
The next morning, Snape was giving him strange looks in class. A whole ten minutes had passed and nothing had exploded. "Way to go, Seamus. Your potion's actually looking like a potion," Dean whispered.
"Shut up," Seamus complained. "I studied like I said!"
"Yeah, but 'study' for you usually means go to the library and nap for a few hours."
Seamus decided not to be on speaking terms with Dean for the remainder of class, you know, in the interest of remaining friends and all. On the up-side, his potion didn't explode. A few more classes like this, he might scrape by with an 'Acceptable'--thereby freeing up his summer for actual fun, rather than being grounded for two and a half months. It was the first patch of brightness to break through his morbid week.
At lunch, Ron and Harry were talking animatedly about the Prophet, which Seamus snatched, and felt a little brighter still to find an interview with Aiden Lynch, who was claiming his injuries 'really aren't all they've been worked up to be.' He was already up and around, and would be released in the next week or two--though it would probably be a month before he would be able to play Quidditch again. That was depressing, but maybe--just maybe--that incompetent bloke, Doyle, would somehow manage to get lucky enough to keep Ireland in the running after all. He hooted out a loud cheer and threw the paper to the table, knocking over Harry's pumpkin juice. "Hah! Take that Bulgaria, can't keep an Irishman down!" he declared happily. Well, yeah, he was probably jumping the gun--he knew not everything the Daily Prophet put to paper was gospel, but they would have no reason to lie about something like this, right? "Right then. Didn't blow up my potion, sun's shining, Ireland's still got a chance (however slim) at the Cup...I'm going for a walk. Beautiful day and all that..."
As Seamus nearly frolicked out of the Great Hall, Dean Thomas just rolled his eyes and laughed. "He's completely bipolar."
That was fine as far as Seamus was concerned. After all, for the moment his polarity was happily leaning towards positive. The sun felt warm and he could almost forget that life had ever been anything but perfect. He wandered the grounds aimlessly for a bit, thinking of the Irish National Team, and Lynch--praying a little that Doyle didn't fuck up too badly in the interim. As long as they could win three out of five games over the next month they'd still stand a chance at making it to the World Cup again this year. For now he'd focus on more immediate concerns--the Gryffindor-Slytherin game was only a few hours away.
Sure, he told himself, Slytherin had Krum coaching, but only for the past few days, and even Viktor Krum couldn't work miracles when Malfoy is playing seeker, right? Harry could fly circles around Draco Malfoy, damn it!
Well, all this stuff about Quidditch made him want to walk by the pitch. Yeah, that sounded like a good idea. It'd get him all psyched up for today's game. He'd cheer loud as hell--good for morale, that.
But the green robes swirling around the pitch when it came into view was not good for morale--namely, his. He didn't mean to spy but--oh, who the hell was he kidding, of course he was going to spy. It looked like Slytherin was practicing some new formations. Malfoy seemed to be chasing Krum around the pitch, through the goal loops and all. Merlin, that Bulgarian could fly. He remembered it from the Ireland-Bulgaria World Cup, but memory often dims with time. Seamus found himself temporarily awed before the horror sunk in. Malfoy couldn't keep up, but he wasn't that far behind. His moves were clumsier, but he was still clearing all the obstacles Viktor Krum was putting in his way. This put a serious damp on Seamus's bright mood.
Half an hour later he was barreling into Gryffindor Tower looking for Harry. Harry could win, right? He wouldn't let a butt-face like Malfoy out-fly him. No way. Harry out-flew a dragon! But Seamus somehow doubted that even Harry could out-fly Viktor Krum, who was coaching Malfoy...
"Harry! It's awful!" he declared, grabbing the surprised Potter by the biceps. "It's, they..." Seamus had entire sentences in his head, but they were moving too fast from one to the next and he couldn't get them out of his mouth.
"Seamus, calm down."
"But Harry you don't understand!"
"Stop shaking him like that man, he's got a game in an hour," Dean said.
Harry's glasses had skewed with the force of Seamus's excessively confusing urgency.
"The game!" Seamus declared. "Harry, you've got to beat Malfoy. Got to! If you win I'll, I'll...I'll wear a freaking dress to the All Hallows Eve Ball!" he blurted desperately. "You can pick the damn thing out yourself."
Harry had been about to tell Seamus he had every intention of beating Malfoy anyway, but Seamus's panicked state had some pretty entertaining results. Dean was laughing. "Oh, please let me help, Harry," he joked.
Harry shrugged. "You've got yourself a deal, Seamus," he said. "You're not allowed to go back on your word."
Ron looked positively giddy. Sure, it was at Seamus's expense, but it seemed just what the red-head needed to break through his own pre-game panic. He laughed. The Gryffindor team left the common room in good spirits as the color drained from Seamus's face as he finally registered what he'd just said.
"So, Seamus," Dean mused, "what size do you suppose you are?"
"Shut up!" He didn't want Gryffindor to lose to Slytherin, on the one hand. On the other...urgh! "...me and my big mouth..."
"Oh, cheer up, mate," Dean joked. "It's one of your more charming qualities."