A/N: The Game of Love is a sequel to Rival Hearts which is a companion fic for the Quiz. In terms of timeline, Rival Hearts is first, then the Quiz, then this fic. It is not necessaryto read the Quiz to understand this story. However, it is a sequel to Rival Hearts and will probably make very little sense if you haven't read that story first.
I made up some names where I didn't have any (the first names of anyone mentioned from the Bulgarian Quidditch team) and some friends/family for Viktor since we never really learn anything about his family--to the best of my memory.
Standard Disclaimers Apply. I do not own Harry Potter or any of its characters. If I did, Viktor would have had a bigger part and half the cast would be gay.
The Game of Love
Chapter 1: Letters
It had been months. New Years' had come and gone. Hell, winter was already behind them. Alone in the boy's dorm, Seamus fished out a white box from beneath the four poster bed. He opened it to reveal a red dress with white polka dots, which he lifted gently. He stood, held it in front of himself before the mirror, and shook his head. 'I'm being stupid,' he thought, but he could still remember the feeling of Viktor's strong arms wrapped around him, the heat and scent of him, his mouth. But more than all that, he remembered the way it felt to cuddle against Viktor in the library with a book, nuzzle into his shoulder. But one fight and that, that bastard just ran back to Bulgaria! Okay, sure, he had to because of his job, but it made him feel better to blame Viktor for the fact the best week of his life had ended so abruptly. 'Who am I kidding, he was right about me. I should have stood up for him. I was so stuck on the fact that he's Bulgarian that I didn't even notice how much I liked him. And now...Merlin, I miss him so much.'
He sat on the edge of the bed and hugged the dress to his chest a while before an idea struck him. Hermione corresponded with Viktor all the time. Ron was constantly complaining about it. He could apologize, ask Hermione to send it on for him. In a flurry, he folded the dress and tucked it back under the bed a bit less gracefully than the first time--a polka-dotted red ruffle stuck out in the corner, but he didn't care. He had to write something. Something good. He had to be brutally honest about his feelings, and if Viktor didn't want anything to do with him anymore, if there was no chance, he would definitely get an answer. Viktor was too nice to leave him hanging. Being let down on paper, officially and all, that might help. And if there was some small chance that maybe, just maybe, there was still some part of him that Viktor wanted...he had to do it!
An hour later he was bursting into the library. "Hermione!" he hollered. Madam Pince glared at him and said "shh!" but pointed at where the girl was sitting. Her books were, surprisingly enough, off to one side, and she was rather engrossed in what she was writing:
How are you? I'm doing well. Ron has been entirely tolerable, really. Actually, lately it seems as if he's being much more careful about what he says to me. I'm not sure whether or not this is a good thing. On the one hand, he's been a lot less stupid and inconsiderate. On the other, well, I suppose I sort of miss calling him an idiot, if that makes any sense at all. It's a bit scary when things change, isn't it? Well, you hardly need to read about my issues with Ronald Weasley yet again. I'm sorry, I don't talk about much else these days, do I?
What about you? Last time you wrote, you said you had a falling out with your special someone...
Hermione quickly covered the parchment with a book. "Oh, Seamus. Don't sneak up on me like that. What's up? Homework problems?"
"No, nothing like that. I mean..." he shifted awkwardly. "You send letters to Krum and stuff a lot, right? I remember Ron saying so."
"Oh, yes, about once a month, or thereabouts," she answered. "We try to keep in touch. I didn't know you were a fan of his."
"Well, uh, not really a fan..." Seamus hedged, sitting down and speaking more quietly than she'd ever heard him. She'd seen him dancing with Viktor on All Hallows Eve. And Viktor was having relationship problems. And now Seamus was sitting here, looking rather awkward. It didn't take a genius to do that math, b she didn't call him on it and waited for him to finish. "Do you think you can send something on to him for me next time you mail him? I...sort of have to apologize to him for something I said." He was fidgeting with a sealed envelope.
She gave him this smile that couldn't quite hide the 'I am so onto you,' air she sometimes had. "Yeah, of course. I was going to send him a letter rather soon." She held out her hand to take it, but he paused before giving it to her. "Uh, don't read it, okay?"
"I don't go about reading other people's mail, Seamus," she sighed. "Honestly, what kind of girl do you think I am?"
Seamus laughed weakly. "Sorry," he said, rubbing the back of his head awkwardly. "...and uh, you won't tell anyone about this, right?"
"My lips are sealed."
She watched Seamus scurry out of the library and then uncovered her own letter again. Where was she? Ah, right.
...I get the feeling he'd really like to make things right with you. Call it woman's intuition.
The letter I'm including is from Seamus. You two get on well, right? You seemed to be having a lot of fun together at the All Hallows Eve Ball, so I didn't think you'd mind when he asked me to send it on to you. His address is the same as mine here at Hogwarts, so you already know it. Send your reply directly to him, okay?
I hope things are looking up for you.
~ Hermione Granger ~
Viktor ran his fingers over the red and white lolita headband that he'd once stuffed into his pocket and forgotten about. He kept thinking he should send it back to Seamus, but couldn't bring himself to part with the only trinket he had to remind him of their time together.
"Hey, Viktor. Planet Earth calling Viktor Krum..."
Viktor startled and shoved the headband into his pocket abruptly. "Nikola, how long have you been there?" he asked.
Nikola Levski smiled. "Long enough to catch you moping again," he said before barreling onward so Viktor didn't have to defend himself. Viktor Krum was the type to fall hard for people. And when it didn't work out, it took him a while to get over it. Levski had learned that about the young Seeker long ago. "Owl mail's been sorted. Fanmail in the usual place, but this one's from that friend of yours." He waved it a little as Viktor sat up abruptly. "How do you say her name again, Hermenonia, or something?"
"Herm-own..." Viktor stopped, tried again. Her name was hard, but he was going to say it right one of these days. "Herm-owe-knee," he said. It still wasn't quite right, but he thought it was closer this time. He held out his hand.
"Say please," Nikola teased.
"Niko..." Viktor warned.
"Say 'if you give me my letter, Nikola, I'll stop sitting around like a moldy sock, stinking up everyone's mood'," Levski continued as Viktor got up to try to fight the letter out of the chaser's hand.
"If you give me my letter, Nikola, I will not tell Filipa about walking in on you with Sava last Christmas."
Levski colored. "That was not my fault. It was mistletoe. There are rules you just can't break."
"Yes, I am sure this mistletoe rule means tongues must also be involved."
"It does if you've had enough eggnog," the chaser defended huffily, handing over the envelope. "Do not tell Filipa. She will kill me, and when she is finished killing me, she will never let me have alcohol again. You know I'm not a drunken lout like Andrei. I just like to have a little fun on the holidays."
Viktor peeled open the envelope. Nikola left, already deducing whatever else he had to say would fall on deaf ears. There was a second envelope inside. The handwriting that had scribbled 'Viktor Krum' across the front was not Hermione's. In fact, he thought it looked boyish. Maybe from Harry? He considered a moment, and put it aside for now to read Hermione's letter. His heart started pounding. Wait, not Harry but Seamus? It was a letter from Seamus, she said. He picked it up, put it down to pace a few tight circles as he was suddenly full of nervous energy, then picked it up again. His throat felt dry. He got a paper cut trying to open the envelope too hastily.
So, hi. Sorry, I'm not that good with letters. Not that good with conversations, either, if the last one we had is any evidence. How are you? I'm not so great. I've been thinking a lot, and you know that's not really one of my strong suits.
Viktor smiled to himself. He could imagine Seamus drumming his fingers and sighing as he tried to figure out what to say. The self-effacing jokes made him miss the young man more than ever. He returned to the letter.
I want to say I'm sorry, but I'm not really sure I should. I mean, we both said some pretty harsh things. I deserved a lot of them, but I don't think I deserved you storming off before I could defend myself. I'll apologize for that comment about Volkov. That was totally uncalled for. Can't we just ignore the rest? I mean, I don't hate you because you're Bulgarian. And I sort of feel like I'm pathetic for having had such an issue with it. I'm not normally like this. It's just, well, you must know. Quidditch has this way of making perfectly sane people lose their minds. And mam's, well, she's me mam, you know? Even if I don't agree with her, it's hard to argue with her, especially when she's sending howlers.
So, you should know I'm sorry about those things. If you still hate me, it's okay. But reply anyway, alright? And try to let me down easy. Or, I guess hard is okay too. I deserve it.
By the third time Viktor was reading the letter over, Sava Zograf poked in, picking his bag up off of a nearby shelf. "Almost there, Viktor," he said. "Nikola gets off here. You and I get off next stop."
"Right," Viktor answered, stuffing Seamus's letter into his breast pocket, his heavy mood long gone. He smirked a bit and asked "did you kiss him goodbye?"
Sava's lips quirked into a wry smile that said he didn't find the joke nearly as funny as Viktor did, but would take the hit anyway. "Good to see your mood has improved," he answered flatly.
Viktor couldn't quite keep the goofy smile at bay. "I'll see you next season, Sava," he answered, pulling his satchel down from the overhead rack. Losing to Italy had cost them all hope of the Quidditch Cup this year, but at the moment Viktor couldn't feel the least bit sad about it. It gave him time for other, more important things.
I was surprised to receive your letter. By now you must know that Bulgaria lost the game to Italy. It was the worst Quidditch I've played in a long time. I should be more upset about this, because it means there will be no more games for me this season, but then your letter came. Now I think it is a good thing. It gives me the chance to ask you to attend the game between Ireland and Norway with me next Saturday. I know someone on the Norwegian team--the cousin of an Uncle's fiance. In any case, I should be able to get good seats. Will you come?
Afterwards, we can get some dinner and talk. I can arrange for a hotel, and you can head back home Sunday morning after breakfast.
Please let me know right away if you will be able to make it.
~ Viktor ~
Like Viktor, Seamus read the letter over many times, especially the part about the hotel and leaving the next morning, but also the part about it being the Ireland/Norway game. It wasn't the Quidditch Cup, sure, but it was a huge deal. If Ireland lost to Norway, they lose all hope at the Cup this year, but if they won, they would only have to defeat Spain--who had not beat the Irish team once in the last thirty-five years--and their entry into the Quidditch Cup would be all but assured. So the chance to go was a huge deal. The chance to go with Viktor boggled the mind.
But over that excitement was something bigger--the fact that he would see Viktor again was nearly enough to make his brain explode. If it did, he was sure all that would come out would be pink and red streamers, bubbly little plastic hearts, and an overabundance of glitter.
He snatched Dean's quill right out of his hand and pushed his half-finished breakfast aside.
"Hey!" Dean protested.
"Shh! I'll give it back in a sec," he said, fumbling for parchment.
That sounds awesome! I can't wait. I guess I should catch a portkey to Norway then? What City? Will you be there to pick me up? Get back to me with the details.
He ripped the parchment sloppily in hand and started a second letter.
A friend of mine just invited me to go to the Ireland vs. Norway game! I'm totally psyched! I can go, right?
He shoved the quill unceremoniously back into Dean's hand after sealing them sloppily into envelopes and got up, hurrying out of the hall.
"Seamus, where are you going?" Dean called after him.
"Owlery!" Seamus called behind him, breaking into a run as if his life depended on getting those two letters out as quickly as possible. His pulse was thundering so loudly he could hardly hear himself think. He didn't care about thinking right now though. There was nothing to think about, even if his mother said no, he'd go anyway--consequences be damned. Viktor was that important to him.
...and, well, Quidditch didn't suck either.