To the Masses: I don't know how to clearly express how sorry I am for being gone for…over six months? Has it been that long? …I should probably start looking for a job…

On a brighter note! Look, chapter six!

Warnings: OOC, AU, slash, threesome, language, and all of that other stuff in the warnings for the first five chapters.

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. I'm thinking of genetically engineering my own Zhenya though.


Chapter Six

"You never come back, not all the way. Always there is an odd distance between you and the people you love and the people you meet, a barrier thin as the glass of a mirror, you never come all the way out of the mirror; you stand, for the rest of your life, with one foot in this world and no one in another, where everything is upside down and backward and sad."
— Marya Hornbacher (Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia)

Harry reclined back and twisted his upper body until he caught sight of Viktor and two of his friends walking towards him and Neville. His fist instinct was to draw his wand and get both he and his friend away, because three large older boys could only mean pain. That was his old life though, when he was younger and Dudley and his gang of ignorant rich boys. It was Viktor though, who led the other boys to the patch of grass that Harry had claimed as his own. It was the Bulgarian Champion who gave him a shadow of a smile that eased his nerves and allowed him to turn his back to strangers, if only to gauge what Neville was thinking.

Neville couldn't help but feel shocked at Harry's reaction. His motions were so fluid and well thought out, every single action was calculated and likely born of paranoia yet Harry turned his back to them to meet his eyes. Neville could only give his friend a brief nod of acceptance and turn back to his research on aquatic plant-life. In a couple of more weeks he would no longer be allowed to walk barefoot into the lake so he was going to use all the time he could. Harry also seemed to be considerably calmer when they were outside and away from the swarming masses.

Harry allowed his eyes to wonder across to the other side of the lake where Draco Malfoy sat, hunched against a tree with a thick book across his lap. He'd been that way since Harry had first spotted him that morning, occasionally flipping pages and taking sips from a thermos. He had recalled the words of the Twins and kept an eye on the boy, but so far couldn't tell if anything was out of the ordinary.

Viktor finally reached Harry's picnic place and let himself fall onto the ground with a happy sigh. A bright, blond haired teen with pretty features sat down next to him, followed by a bloke with excess muscle and jaw that seemed far too square for the rest of his face. "This is Zhenya," Viktor said pointing to the first boy, "and Aleksandar," he continued while gesturing to the muscular on. Then Harry tried to follow what he was saying as he made introductions in Bulgarian, first introducing Harry and then Neville who waved from the lake.

"Ah," the teen named Zhenya said excitedly, "is that a red sugar algae?" When Neville nodded he stood up quickly and shucked off his shoes, not caring at all if they hit Aleksandar in the face. Just as soon as he got the last sock off he was racing towards the water while trying to roll up his pants.

"Well," Aleksandar said in a pitifully happy tone, "at least now Zhenya 'as someone to talk to about such things."

"Yeah," Harry agreed somewhat awkwardly. He glanced at Viktor who was looking back at him with a somewhat bemused expression and tore his eyes away. That look made him feel a bit self conscious, and his immediate reaction would be to pull back into the shell of anti-social habits that he'd created. He was trying to make friends though, he thought while he looked back across the lake to make sure he hadn't missed Draco's departure then at the two boys. "So," he tried to converse, "do you know Newton's laws of Motion?"

Apparently Aleksandar and Viktor both did, and they for that Harry was grateful. Hermione had brushed off the idea of scientific law being similar to magical laws before, which had squashed Harry's hope of having an intelligent conversation about them. The other two boys seemed open to the ideas that Harry presented and he was grateful for that, and Viktor seemed to be as well.

Zhenya added his who cents when one of the Drumstrang boys shouted a question at him, but otherwise seemed to be engaged in a deep and fulfilling conversation with Neville. It was yet another thing Harry had to be happy about, because he'd never seen Neville so open and confident in his answers. Even in Herbology the other boy shied away from conversation, but that was probably because he didn't feel comfortable talking in front of an entire class. When it was just him and the older boy he didn't seem like such an awkward klutz.

Harry found his thoughts straying to that morning, when he'd woken up to an argument. He'd pushed his bed curtains aside to see Seamus standing in the middle of the room in nothing but his green boxers with a look that could kill, facing off against Ron who was also still in his pajama's. They were both red faced and Harry thought he might be able to literally see the anger boiling behind their eyes.

Dean and Neville had been standing to the side; both of them looked upset as well. When Dean locked eyes with Harry he flinched and looked away. Just a second later he stepped out from between the beds and laid a large, dark hand on Seamus' shoulders and pushed him toward the bathroom. Harry imagined he could hear the soothing conversation before either of them started to speak.

Ron had crawled back into his bed and pulled the drapes shut with more force than was necessary, but Harry knew he wasn't going to sleep. Ron had a temper that could keep him awake for days, so his retreat only meant he was hiding away from the rest of them.

Neville had watched it all and calmly walked towards Harry's bed. He told Harry that they were going out for the day, with more conviction than anyone had ever heard before. Harry couldn't be more glad for it either, because he felt more relaxed and at ease when they were outside and away from everyone.

There were still dark clouds threatening to block out the light of his current thoughts. Things like Ron, who was still angry with him, the blasted tournament, the crowds of people, and the public attention that was being thrust upon him.

For a while though he felt freed of those burdens, while he talked with Viktor and the other Drumstrang boy. While he looked out on the lake to see Neville happily chatting away with a bloke about plants that Harry couldn't identify, let alone explain the magical and non-magical properties of.

Then his bubble of happiness popped.

From across the lake he could see Pansy Parkinson making a bee-line for Malfoy. He couldn't see the look on her face but the walk was one of a girl with a mission. He'd seen both Hermione and Ginny stomp about that way, and that could only mean bad things for the person they had eyes for.

"Shite," he swore and stood. He glanced over at Neville who nodded, understanding he was supposed to stay back no matter what and if things looked like they weren't going to turn out in Harry's favor he was to go find the Twins. Originally it had been Ron and Hermione, but they were never very far anyway. Since they'd started keeping their distance his source of backup had been the infamous pranksters.

"Is that your boyfriend?" Aleksandar asked in a sly tone, shooting Harry a look that was probably supposed to be considered a 'leer' but Harry didn't have anything to compare it to.

Harry snorted in amusement, "we don't get along on the best of days." Then he watched as Malfoy realized Parkinson was there and shut his book roughly.

Once Malfoy climbed to his feet Parkinson pushed him back into the tree and started waving a finger in his face. Still, Harry was too far away to see the boy's expression and turned towards Neville. "They should be in the greenhouses at this time," Harry shouted towards his friend and then stepped behind a tree. The forest was thin and coverage wasn't so good but Harry had long ago perfected the art of hiding, and he kept out of sight as he made his way towards the Slytherin duo.

The three Drumstrang boys stayed where they were and watched as Harry issued orders and disappeared into the sparsely covered area. Each of them were shocked, most of it stemmed from a teenage boys willingness to help someone he couldn't even stand to be around. After that had been the way Neville had responded to the orders, with a brief nod and without question. Then the way Harry escaped their notice as he undoubtedly made his way towards the couple on the other side of the lake.

Viktor couldn't tell where his little friend was, how fast he was going, or any of the things he so desperately wanted to know. He did notice the moment Harry reached the couple, observed the way he stayed behind the trees and the way he worked his magic. The Drumstrang Champion expected the young boy to jump out of the bushes with sparks flying from the tip of his wand and just jump into action. Instead Harry hid behind a Rowan and the spells he used were small and even he had a hard time seeing what was being done.

Just as well, as soon as Viktor realized Harry had no intention of showing himself two identical and familiar heads broke through the tree line and jumped on either side of the blond boy with enthusiasm that they seemed to be known for. They didn't look as if they were picking a fight either, instead they seemed to be starting a conversation that neither Slytherin wanted to be apart of.

When the girl tried to leave her robes got caught underneath her feet and the twins took that opportunity to gently urge Malfoy to walk in the opposite direction. They were very careful not to touch him, and in return he looked very skeptical and snobbish. They circled around the lake, but still none of the Drumstrang boys moved as they made their way to Harry's patch of grass.

"How goes it?" one Twin asked, Viktor wasn't sure which. He was sure it didn't matter either; they were the type that wouldn't give you their true identity even if someone were to pay millions of galleons.

"Why am I here?" the Malfoy boy asked in a strained tone. "What are you up to?" he accused the Twins with a piercing glare, pointing an elegant finger at each of them.

"Oh you know," one Twin said and the other continued, "We're just here to have some fun." To that Malfoy snorted in amusement but he did believe them.

"I don't suppose your certainly don't have anything to do with this, do you Saint Potter?" he spat towards the trees just as Harry had stepped into view. Harry looked him up and down subtly, noticing the way his hands were clenched but there was a defeated look in his glare. He was just keeping up appearances. Malfoy had never done that before, he always got just as much morbid joy out of their arguments as Harry did and if the same scene had played out months before Harry was sure he would have been hit. The Twins were right, something was wrong with him.

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Harry replied in a bored tone. He looked over Malfoy's shoulder and watched Parkinson make her way back into the castle with a very noticeable limp that she may or may not have gotten after tripping over anything and everything in the last few minutes. Harry was sure no one would even find so much as a trace of that jinx when she made her inevitable complaints to Madame Promfrey and grinned like a cat that caught he canary. "Now that you're here why don't you join us for lunch?" he offered.

"I'd rather dine with the Duo of Destruction," Malfoy snapped back, gesturing to the Weasley on either side of him.

"Oh good," the one on the right said, Harry narrowed his eyes in thought as he evaluated the width of their shoulders. "What do you say about grabbing something from the kitchens and we can eat while we watch folks climb in the main stair well?"

It wasn't in the shoulders, Harry decided as Malfoy asked what could possibly be so interesting about watching people climb stairs. It could be possible that the freckle pattern on their chins -but no, that appeared to be the same as well.

"Peeves may have possibly found a stash of Skin Clinging Color bombs," one started and the other finished, "you know; where we left them an hour ago."

Malfoy had the choice between spending time with two Weasley's, whom his family was sworn to hate for all eternity for a reason no one seemed to be able to remember, and watch the masses being attacked by a crazy poltergeist or missing the show and finding a new corner to read in. "All right," he agreed as if he never had a choice in the matter to begin with, but Harry could see a big of happiness in the way his lips twitched, "but I'll not be taking any blame when you get caught."

"Who said we were going to get caught?" Fred, or George asked while the other looked at Harry with his best kicked-puppy look. Harry knew that look meant they were asking to barrow his treasured cloak and he nodded. They were always very careful with his things when they did barrow them, and the end results were always in their favor.

"We'll save you a seat at dinner then," George said to Harry, "Between Gred and I, and your three ickle fourth year friends we should be able to keep Granger away from you tonight."

"Why would you need to do that?" Harry asked. Sure, she was a bit annoying lately. She kept trying to guilt him into freeing Dobby, for real instead of just allowing him to do whatever he wanted. Then there was the blame for the Tri-Wizard Tournament she might have placed on him, as well as the disapproval of hanging around Viktor Krum, because he was competing against Hogwarts and there might have also been a couple of choice phrases and about inappropriate relationships –Harry wasn't so sure what that was about though. Overall though he couldn't see a reason that Fred and George would feel the need to play bodyguard.

"Connely told her that he felt that his well disserved retribution was brought about by you," Fred explained and he and George continued to switch off, "she was composing a file of all the reasons of why you were wrong and plans to present them to you during dinner. Likely in a very loud manner with subtext in regards to your involvement in the Tournament."

"I wasn't the one that jinxed all of his clothes to turn into Beauxbaton uniforms," Harry protested.

"We know," the Twins both held their hands up as a gesture that they meant no offense. Of course they knew that for a fact also, because they were the ones that had actually done it. "You never use the same trick twice…ever," the other continued. "Connely's just trying to get his own little revenge, not that it's deserved. Ickle Ronnikins will take the heat later when she can't get near you and the worst of her ire should be gone sometime tomorrow, when we're schedules to start testing products on firsties."

Harry sighed and nodded in acceptance, "thank you," he said genuinely. "You three have fun tormenting the masses," it was a clear but cheerful dismissal and he could see that Malfoy almost wanted to argue just because of that fact. Instead he turned around and stalked towards the castle, two relieved pranksters trailing after him.

"I think they have a crush," Neville said a moment later, startling Harry. He hadn't seen the other boy return, but he did have a point. Neville didn't bother asking why Harry was likely keeping an eye on Malfoy. He knew Harry long enough to know that he probably wasn't going to get an answer, because Harry didn't want to incriminate himself. There were safe questions though, like "What did Connely do?"

Harry ignored the three older boys who were sitting around with confusion written across their expression and body language, and answered Neville, "he and two other boys were assaulting Gabrielle Delacour for being half-Veela. They said something very upsetting." Memories of the word 'freak' being spat in his face rushed back and he didn't really feel like smiling or even pretending to.

Neville looked thoughtful and turned to explain some things to their new friends, "the Twins never attach themselves to anyone. Lee Jordan is the closest they've ever come to having a partner, and they're never nice to anyone outside of Gryffindor."

"So for them to be trailing after the Malfoy is unusual?" Viktor asked. He'd gotten the point that Harry was secretive and it didn't bother him, but knowing his friend Zhenya would lead a mob just to get information he wanted and Aleksandar would just glare viciously. There were certain things he could figure out for himself anyway. The biggest fact he'd just learned, was that Harry was in charge even if he hadn't realized it yet. The Longbottom boy said that the Twins didn't have partners but Harry was clearly used to giving them orders and the dismissal was smooth and subtle.

"It is," Harry answered while he stared at them thoughtfully. He seemed to decide something a moment later and shrugged before turning back to the rest of the group with a smile. The Twins and Malfoy would probably be good for each other. Fred and George could protect Draco, who had a bit of a Napoleon complex, and teach him to be less up tight and hopefully less of a snob. In turn Malfoy could teach them some restraint and how to enjoy a good prank without incriminating themselves. It helped that the three of them all enjoyed a good show of humiliation at someone else's expense, and Malfoy was probably smart enough to keep up with the Twins. "And thank you," he added happily.

"For what?" Zhenya asked innocently. His confusion was still apparent but if Viktor didn't ask then he wouldn't, and the same could also be applied to Aleksandar.

Harry didn't want to say 'for staying out of the way,' because while it may have been true it was a harsh way of wording it. Instead he simply said, "Letting us get things done," and took his seat next to Viktor.

Viktor opened his mouth to ask another question but another boy in the familiar red and brown uniform had gotten within Harry's perimeter and the young boy fought against giving him the stink eye. It wouldn't do him any good if he reduced another upperclassman to tears just because he was annoyed.

"Yevgeniy Brish," he said evenly, with a self-righteous hint in his tone. Harry looked around to see Zhenya glaring for all he was worth, his teeth were bared and his blond hair looked wild.

He replied in Bulgarian in a tone that was low and definitely threatening. Harry didn't understand a word of what was being said, but if the messengers blush was anything to go by Harry would have to guess that Zhenya knew some creative swears. The messenger stayed just long enough to stutter a reply and then he took off running towards the impressive ship, Zhenya was hot on his tail.

"I should take him his shoes," Aleksandar said in a tone that implied he clearly didn't want to. Never the less he stood and gathered the discarded socks and shoes, following after his friend and a leisure pace.

"Zhenya's full name is Yevginey," Viktor explained, "He hates it though. Too bad for Damyan, Zhenya also has no problem harming the messenger."

"I should be going too," Neville said suddenly. He quickly scanned the area to see if he left anything lying around and turned back to Harry, "I promised Luna Lovegood I'd help her in the library. At least if I'm there the other Ravenclaw's won't be so mean to her."

"I'll see you at dinner then," Harry replied with a smile. It was good that Neville was branching out and making friends, he wasn't so sure about Luna Lovegood just yet but she seemed nice enough from a distance.

Neville's departure meant that Harry was alone with Viktor but he didn't feel at all uneasy. If anything he felt a little more relaxed because there was information he wasn't comfortable sharing with Viktor's friends and he was sure there were some things Viktor didn't want Neville to hear.

"I want to ask, but I am not sure how welcome my question will be," Viktor said a few moments later. When Harry said nothing but looked at him expectantly he continued, "Why, if you do not like the Malfoy child did you help him?"

Harry tilted his head in thought before he answered reasonably, "the Twins asked me to keep an eye on him for a couple of days, just to see if he'd been acting odd. It's very rare they take an interest in anyone, so I couldn't say no. If they've taken an interest, one they've sought outside help for, then I could only assume they didn't want him harmed."

"You would not mind if they were together that way?" the grown Seeker asked while carefully avoiding Harry's gaze.

"In what way?" the boy inquired, interest shone brightly in his eyes and it took a moment for Viktor to realize the question was genuine and not just the small boy teasing him.

'Together," he explained, "like husband and wife."

Understanding dawned on Harry and he blushed furiously. "Or, I suppose in this case it would be husband, husband, and husband," he tried to joke. "No, I wouldn't mind. The three of them would work well together and I might feel sorry for anyone who upsets them. It's not really my business anyway, but if it were," he answered honestly and then finished with a shrug. "I do wonder how they'd explain that to their parents though."

They lapsed into a comfortable silence for a long time, both of the boys just stared out at the lake occasionally paying attention to a bird or the Giant Squid. "Fluer invited us to practice with her, for the Tournament," he said when he remembered, "and Cedric Diggory too. She doesn't think we should have to do it alone."

"And what do you think?" Viktor inquired as his eyes trailed after a small bird that was diving and fluttering through the air.

Harry didn't answer for a very long time, but when he finally did it was to say in a small voice, "I don't want to be alone."

"Then you won't be," Viktor promised, "it will be interesting to see what we can learn from one another. You have years to catch up with the rest of us as well, though I doubt you'll need it."

The compliment made Harry flush slightly. Compliments were hard for him to take and after a few weeks of stuttered answers and pitiful blushes his friends had stopped openly offering compliments, especially in front of others. So he was taken off guard at Viktor's words and it made him a bit nervous, but he smiled anway. "Do you want to play a Seekers game before dinner?" he offered in response.

Bonus (I AM SO SORRY)

Viktor kept the golden snitch in his sights but Harry was always in his rage of attention. The young champion didn't fly like a professional; his turns were too sharp, his dives were too sloppy, and Viktor had actually composed a list of all of the things that could possibly be wrong with his technique. None of that mattered though because Harry chose to take risks and he was full of surprises.

When they had first mounted their brooms, after making sure the pitch was void of people, Viktor tried to think of a fair handicap that would be subtle enough as to not catch Harry's attention. The young man seemed to be the type that would get upset at the very thought of not playing to his fullest potential. It turned out that a handicap wouldn't be needed though. While Viktor had experience and finesse, Harry had courage and was cunning far beyond his years.

He was also lighter and smaller; his weight wouldn't slow down the broom as much as Viktor's slight bulk and Harry could lay his body flat against the handle so that that there was less wind resistance. He wasn't prone to fancy tricks, if anything he seemed to fear falling off of his broom and Viktor wasn't sure he wanted to know why.

Eventually it wasn't about the snitch at all and Viktor found him and Harry flying for fun. They flew as high as they could while diving with the same vigor. All the while Viktor was silently teaching him through example, showing him little ways to improve his flying Harry was showing Viktor the expression of someone with a true passion for flying.

Any type of flying, it turned out. While they took a break Harry retold the events of his third year and a Hippogriff named Buckbeak. There was another incident, the year before with a flying automobile, a concept that passed right over Krum's head. Then there were recollections of his third year when he'd passed out in the air, and his first year when someone had jinxed his broom.

Viktor had known young men who refused to fly after a single accident and always thought them weak-minded. Even he had to admit though, after hanging from a jinxed broom he might have given up as well.

There was something in Harry's expression that told him the young boy wouldn't give up flying for anything though. It was beautiful the way his face just lit up as the wind blew through his hair and clothes, as he rushed past stands that were slowly starting to fill up with students. It had been clear that he hated all forms of attention, but Harry didn't care so long as he was on a broom.

They never did get back to looking for the snitch, and before they knew it the dinner bell was ringing.

Viktor couldn't remember a time when he'd had so much fun, with no actual purpose. He was fairly certain that had never happened. For one entire afternoon though, he'd forgotten all of his duties and responsibilities and just had fun. Even as his mind rushed during dinner, trying to find solutions to make up the homework he needed to get done, he felt light hearted.

If his friends noticed they hadn't said anything, which he was grateful for because he wasn't sure he could explain his happiness even if he tried. The new feelings were light and soft and comforting. It was like the calm before a storm.


To Those Who Just Read:

I know it's short and I left a lot of unanswered questions. It's nearly six in the morning though and I'm tired as hell. I was supposed to write a Dobby bonus, but…well, it's nearly six in the morning. I promise to post soon though, especially if I get some awesome reviews. Don't misunderstand, I would never hold a story hostage for feedback…it's just that there are a lot of reviews that are ego-inflating and really get me fired up for this story. Also, I'm sure you realize this was a bit of a filler chapter. If you squint you can see a subplot though. Maybe…There's also a good chance that I've screwed things up royally with post 2A.M. writing again.

There's a huge error I noticed while trying to figure out how to spell 'Beauxbaton.' Turns out Drumstrang is really spelled Durmstrang, at leas that's what HP wiki says. I'm disinclined to believe it…so I figured I'd check it out after a good days sleep and edit all of the chapters if it really is 'Durmstrang.'

This chapter's quote was donated by lirial89. Thank you.

Thank you for reading! Sorry I disappeared!

I heart quotes and reviews,

Alzipher