World Enough and Time
Summary: On the night four names are drawn from the Goblet of Fire, Viktor spies the figure of young Harry Potter from aboard the Durmstrang ship and makes a decision that will rock the entire wizarding world.
The Night of the Drawing of the Names from the Goblet of Fire
Just a boy.
Lonely. Small. Delicate. Fragile. Precious.
Confronted by the truth, Viktor wasn't quite sure what to believe. People shouldn't be protecting themselves from this child. They should be throwing themselves in his path, protecting him. He wanted to breathe into Harry Potter's ear, "Can I take you away? Will you let me take you away? Away from the hurt, and the pain, and the sorrow…away from anything and everything. Will you let me take you?"
That the Bulgarian possessed a poetic streak was one of Durmstrang's biggest secrets, right under Karkaroff's having been a Death Eater. That the Bulgarian was also a closet romantic was something only his parents knew and would never share even under threat of a long and agonising death.
The night they announced the fourth champion, he had watched Harry Potter leave the English castle to stand on the edge of the lake. The child was like a tiny crippled starling, perched on the edge of a precipice, presented with two options: to spread his broken wings in an attempt to fly and fall, or to just topple over the edge. Either way led to his death.
Viktor gazed at him from the ship's prow.
Just a boy.
If these English had their say, he would never live to be anything else.
Just a boy: never a man.
Eventually he made his way from the ship to the grounds, carrying a charmed cloak with him. Autumn was only beginning, but already the unforgiving English weather was beginning to cool, and Harry wasn't wearing anything besides a large shirt and oversized jeans.
"You vill catch cold," he said quietly, holding out the cloak when he reached him.
Harry looked up at him, eyes murky in the night. A young face, definitively young; pretty, but only in the way young boys were. Young boys who hadn't grown up.
And yet there was too little flesh on him, what little he had scraped over his cheeks like butter over too much bread.
Harry looked him in the eye, and then dropped his gaze. He either didn't see the cloak, or didn't acknowledge it.
"I'm sorry for ruining your tournament," he whispered. "Your whole school must have been looking forward to it. I didn't mean to do it. I always ruin things by just being there, even if I don't touch anything."
Since Harry obviously wasn't going to reach for the cloak himself, he walked closer and draped it over his shoulders.
"Tink nutting of it," he said simply. "I know you did not intend to. Even de Veela, French or not, has enuff sense to realise dat. I do not know de English boy, but if he has enuff sense, he vill realise it too."
"I don't think that's a popular opinion to hold," Harry said, "there's too much common sense in it." His eyes widened and he clapped his hand over his mouth as he realised just what he said. Viktor laughed.
Harry stared at the Quidditch superstar as if he were insane, and for all the boy knew, Viktor Krum was insane. The older teenager was nearly doubled over in laughter, mouth stifled by his hand to keep the noise contained. It was verifiable fact, then, that out of the mouth of babies spouted the words of truth. This whole tournament was insane, except for them. How else could they think a fourteen-year-old half-trained child could hoodwink a millennia-old magical artefact? Viktor had realised that far too many people accepted that 'magic' explained every anomaly and phenomenon. "It's ok if he couldn't otherwise do it, as long as he had magic." It was strange how so many could believe that about a boy, and yet not inspect themselves under the same microscope.
"Dat is Merlin's own truth," he managed out, in between chuckles. "Flurr vill appreciate dat."
"Do you know Fleur from somewhere else?" Harry asked curiously, clenching the cloak about him tighter.
Viktor shrugged. "Dere are so few of us left on de continent, of course ve vill know each other. Durmstrang and Beauxbatons haff rivalry, yes, but it is friendly, no more. Ve exchange students all de time. Ve cannot afford to alienate any possible allies."
Harry sighed. "That's amazing. I've never left the country, and I'd never even met anyone from another country before this. Well, there was that one Japanese girl when I was in elementary school, but Dudley told her I was a freak and…" His voice trailed off and his eyes were blank, lost in what Viktor did not doubt to be unpleasant memories. Harry sighed, once, heavily.
"I vill not mention anyting you do not vant me to to anyvone," Viktor promised without his having to ask.
Harry's eyes softened, and that might have been a smile on those colourless lips. "Thank you," he whispered.
"Us Seekers haff to stick togeder, no?"
Harry almost laughed at that.
"I'll have to go back to castle soon," he said softly, looking at the lightening sky. It was still a good hour or so away from dawn, but the dark of the night was over.
Viktor saw the reluctance and obvious belligerence the boy held for the castle inhabitants and came to a quick decision. "You can stay de night in my room," he offered.
"But the rules-"
"Dey only say you must stay in a dormitory, yes?" Viktor clarified. Upon the younger boy's nod, he continued. "Dey did not specify vich dormitory you must stay in. The Durmstrang room is a dormitory as vell. It is also sovereign territory, meaning it is not part of English country. If you claim political asylum, ve vill grant it, and you do not need to stay in de castle."
"How do you know all that?" Harry marvelled.
Viktor suddenly felt bashful at the wide eyes directed at him. "My father," he muttered, "is de Bulgarian Minister of Magic."
"Oh!" Harry exclaimed. "He must have been terribly proud of that brilliant catch at the World Cup, then?"
Viktor wasn't expecting the sudden leap of topic. What he had been expecting were babblings and political favours. But then again, this was the Boy-Who-Lived. Harry Potter. He was more famous than Viktor's father could ever be without even trying. He chuckled at the boy's excitability, and said, "Yes, he vas proud."
"I'm sorry you'll didn't win," Harry continued. "You were brilliant, and you had very good Beaters, but their Chasers and Keeper worked better together."
Viktor nodded. "Ve knew. It vas de most I could do to catch de Snitch. But tell me, Harry. Is dat vat you vish? To leave?" Viktor had a sneaking suspicion that the boy had deliberately gone off tangent with the Quidditch World Cup as to avoid thinking about the decision that lay ahead of him, and had the possibility to change his entire life.
His suspicions were confirmed when Harry's pale cheeks flushed a dull pink. "Was I that obvious?" He muttered.
Viktor laughed. "It vas good effort."
Harry sighed. "That's all I can hope for, then." He heaved another heavy sigh, and looked eastward once more at the lightening sky. He stood there for a long moment, Viktor's heavy cloak wrapped about his thin shoulders. "I think I would like that," he whispered, his voice almost lost in the wind. He let his eyes drift close as a breeze whistled through his wild locks. "I'm tired, so tired, of having to take care of everyone…they can't do anything alone, you know. It always has to be Harry Potter. And once it's done he's swept under the rug again, till the next potentially life-endangering moment."
Viktor put his hand on Harry's shoulder, hoping it would lend him some strength. Harry couldn't quite manage a smile for him, but it was okay, because Viktor understood why. "Let me lead you to my room. But first ve must get your belongings."
"It would make things a lot easier, wouldn't it, if someone could just deliver them to me?" Harry agreed, turning to head back inside. But he was abruptly stopped when he tripped over his own trunk and would have fallen, had Viktor not managed to catch him with his seeker's reflexes. Harry was more astonished than upset that he had nearly done a face-plant. Everything he owned was there, from his ridiculous clothes right down to Hedwig's cage and his Firebolt.
"Master Harry be calling for his trunk, sir!" A chirpy voice replied, and Harry let out a yelp of surprise, sending him straight into Viktor's arms. He carefully peered down, half afraid of what he would find.
Looking innocently up at him, with two bulging eyes the size of tennis balls, was Dobby the house-elf, dressed in a freshly laundered pillowcase.
"Dobby!" Harry gasped. Then a bubbly feeling overtook him and he let out an odd-sounding giggle. "What're you doing here?" All at once he felt a sharp guilt. "Dobby, I'm sorry I never found out where you went after Malfoy- after Malfoy." He bit his lip, suddenly nervous.
But Dobby didn't seem to realise his guilt, if anything. "Dobby is being honoured Master Harry is remembering him! Dobby be working at Hogwarts now, where Dumbles is letting him be free, is giving him leave, and is-" He paused dramatically, glancing about the deserted grounds before whispering, "-paying!"
Harry broke into a hesitant smile. "Dobby, that sounds great. I'm glad you're happy here."
Viktor was still staring at Dobby in confusion. "I do not understand," he confessed.
"Master Krum!" Dobby squeaked, bowing deeply to the Bulgarian wizard. "Dobby is helping Master Harry. If Master Harry be wanting to leave, Dobby is helping him in any way! Master Harry helped Dobby to leave Old Master, too."
The reminder caused Harry to smile fondly down at the little creature. "Viktor, this is Dobby. He belonged to a-" Here he faltered, wondering if he should mention the Malfoys by name, then decided against it, "-an old wizarding family." He didn't seem to remember how he'd just exclaimed 'Malfoy!' twice a few seconds ago, and chose not to elaborate on the details as to how Dobby found himself employed by Hogwarts. Viktor, to Harry's delight, didn't ask. The older boy merely stated archaically, "He has been most helpful tonight."
Dobby immediately threw himself at Viktor's knees and babbled gratefulness. Harry laughed at the nonplussed look on Viktor's face, relieved that Viktor hadn't inquired further. But Viktor hadn't been curious about that at all. Even on the continent he had stories about the Malfoys; they were powerful, here in England, and had obviously mistreated the poor creature for it to go completely barmy.
"Master Harry and Master Krum must call for Dobby if they be needing anything!" He chirped out, and then disappeared with a pop. Harry stood silently for a moment or two after the house-elf left, and then drifted forward to occupy the same space.
"His loyalty…is something to be envied," he murmured, and the longing in his young voice was undisguised.
Viktor laid a hand on his shoulder. "Harry. Ve should go aboard ship. You need sleep, before tomorrow."
Achingly slowly, Harry turned, and followed Viktor aboard the Durmstrang ship, his meagre belongings floating behind them.
I finally finished this, which made for an immensely rewarding feeling. Now all that's left is editing. Hopefully, I'll get out a chapter a week. There should be about 10 chapters total. Lol if you squint you can see a hint of slash. Anthem will be posted later this week. Cheers, guys.