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 Third Task
"In the lead we have Viktor Krum of Durmstrang with 47 points; Fleur Delacour from Beauxbatons with 39 points; Hogwarts representative Cedric Diggory with 36; and our youngest Champion is trailing significantly with 30 points." Bagman was seething as no one in the stands was really paying attention to him. None of the Champions had been awarded any points after the fiasco of the Second Task, so they were going off the ranking of their dragon duels- much to Durmstrang's delight. Karkeroff himself had seemed oddly apathetic, but out of habit no one really paid any attention to him. The gap between first and last was only exacerbated by the Russian headmaster's earlier irrational bias and the stupidity of the English judges. Madam Maxime was having more fun watching the fools her fellow judges made of themselves than the tournament itself.
In fact, no one really cared about the tournament anymore either. The whole thing was just a huge farce. The only thing keeping Dumbledore from an immediate sacking was a fact that this tournament had to be concluded before the Goblet of Fire would release any of the participants and officials from their obligations. Political vultures were awaiting him though, swooping lazily overhead and waiting in the wings, most noticeably among them Lucius Malfoy and Cornelius Fudge. They would see the old man crucified for this. Britain didn't even have enough to warrant itself as an international laughingstock; her conduct in this international tournament had been too ludicrous to even trigger humour as a response.
The four youths stood before the savage twenty-foot maze, utterly calm. Despite the rather obvious physical aspect to this last task, they were all dressed to the nines. Viktor and Harry, as they were wont to by now, cut slick, lithe figures in navy and jet with Bulgaria's roaring lions on their breast. Fleur wore the powder-blue of Beauxbatons under a beautiful shimmering silver robe. And beside her, in black robes stylishly accented with yellow, was Cedric Diggory. By wearing only his house colours, Cedric was very publicly announcing that the only ones in Hogwarts worth his loyalty were Hufflepuff. That was going to be a delicious treat for tomorrow's papers.
Finally Bagman gave up trying to rouse the crowd into some sort of awareness and snarled, "BEGIN!"
Almost at once the audience sunk into a respectful hush, which made the retired Beater sputter with outrage. Oh, the crowd still had respect for the participants of course, just not the ones running it.
Viktor was the first forward, wand raised. When he made no move to step into the maze proper, people began to whisper. He flicked his wrist sharply and snapped, "Inflamula Maxeo!"
Bagman turned to shriek at the Quidditch superstar. "What do you think you're doing?"
Viktor merely turned to the seedy man and said, "Giving de crowd deir money's worth, obviously. You could not honestly have been wanting them to watch hedges for de next hour or so?" The sulking look on Bagman's face told him yes, that had been exactly what he'd expected, and the rumbling in the stands swelled.
The white flames began to spread, and the creatures within the blaze began to scream and charge out at the waiting Champions. Fully grown blast-ended skrewts, acromantulas, boggarts, sphinxes and minotaurs all charged out at them. At once the three older teens shot into action, forming a three-pronged shield before their youngest member, curses falling from their lips and wandtips to incapacitate their foes.
Harry, for his own part, was gazing past his three fellow Champions to the maze with an intense look on his face. Viktor's spell had begun the flames, but the hedges were incredibly tall and thick, and didn't burn as well as they would have liked.
In Salazar's journals, they had discovered that Parseltongues shared an affinity for flame. As Harry quieted his mind and reached out with his magical senses, he could feel the heat and warmth enveloping him, cocooning him safely, and he let his eyes slip close briefly at the feeling of utter security. The loss of his wand meant no loss of his magical core; it was all just a matter of getting in tune with it, a technique Salazar had carefully documented nearly a thousand years ago. Viktor had made sure he'd practiced this hard. Stretching out his hand beyond his defensive wall of three older Champions, he felt for the magic uncurling within his chest. Then he opened his eyes, and they flashed gold for the barest moment before he hissed.
The shrieking in the stands reached a whole new pitch. Viktor's Inflamula Maxeo evaporated from the sheer raging heat of the fiendfyre, which stretched out in tangles and ropes of hissing basilisks and roaring dragons. They virtually savaged the hedges, easily ripping through them and destroying them in a merciless blazing inferno. Harry's outstretched hand was trembling; his black spectacles were slipping down his tiny button nose; perspiration was pouring down his face, and his emerald eyes now looked as though they were ringed with gold.
A fifty-foot basilisk of fire shot through the entire maze, its hissing clearly audible even above the magnificent flames. Dragons were swooping above and dive-bombing the hedges, licks of flame flowing between their incorporeal bodies and the main flames below. Suddenly there was a pop in the back of his mind, causing him to gasp and nearly lose control of the raging fire. The three Champions glanced back in alarm, although going by their dazed expressions, they'd clearly experienced that strange pop as well. Harry waved off their concern, concentrating instead on pulling his magic back into his core to rein the flames back in.
That had been the signal they were all waiting for: the Triwizard Cup had been destroyed. Now no one could retrieve it. The contract had been fulfilled; the tournament was over.
The dragons screamed, unwilling to go quietly, but Harry's fingers were clenching, and gradually closing. One of the last few dragons dove for them, but dissipated into strips of fire before it reached them; the strips themselves wound about the remaining creatures from the maze, caging them and concluding their fight with his fellow Champions.
"Banish them, please," Harry said hoarsely, exhaustion creeping into his voice. Quickly, the three older ones did as they were asked, and under his bleary gaze the wisps of flame finally disappeared. Harry sagged, a tinge of grey colouring his skin. Despite his abilities, he was still for the most part an untrained fourteen-year-old without a focus, and at the moment a First-Year could have probably taken him on and won.
Viktor immediately pulled him to his side, supporting him, and the other two Champions flanked him, wands out on guard. He caught sight of his father on the stands, and the man nodded.
In an instant there were wizards and witches bearing the Bulgarian Coat-of-Arms converged on the Quidditch field. At their head, dressed in her official regalia as Commander of the Royal Knights of Bulgaria, was Liliya Krum. Interspersed among the Bulgarians on the field were the Durmstrang students, their dark coloured robes allowing them to blend in almost seamlessly. With the students slipped in Sirius, Remus, the Lovegoods, and Amos Diggory, all of them swarming about their friends and family protectively.
"Now that the Triwizard Tournament is over and the Triwizard Cup destroyed, Bulgaria will be reclaiming their political refugees," Branimir announced in his calm, collected manner from among the crowd. Heads swivelled in bewilderment and surprise as the crowd slowly realised what was happening. Blue eyes darted around in alarm, not quite able to summon their usual twinkle. Karkaroff turned in a whorl of his cloak and retreated into the night.
Branimir descended regally from the stands, his arm bearing the royal insignia of Bulgaria. "I am the Bulgarian Minister of Magic, Branimir Krum." Gasps erupted all over the stands as this revelation spread like wildfire. That surname was unmistakeable- although not in the realm of politics. Dumbledore looked ripe to keel over at any moment as he watched his weapon, having finally bared its fangs, walk away from him for the last time. "We are here only to retrieve the Durmstrang students and our political refugees," he reassured the crowd.
The large party made their way to the Durmstrang ship unmolested. No one even gave a thought as to where their errant ex-headmaster- he'd been summarily dismissed- had disappeared to. By that time, Viktor was carrying Harry in his arms, the boy utterly exhausted from his exertions.
In the furore raised, the Beauxbatons pupils, along with Madam Maxime and the Lovegoods, slipped away to their carriage. Hagrid had their team of palomino Abraxans was already hitched to their leads and tossing their great heads impatiently, while he himself held the halter of another Abraxan procured from the Forbidden Forest. They left without anyone noticing, just as the Durmstrang ship sank back into the Lake with barely a ripple.
Back at the Hogwarts stands, Minerva McGonagall was abruptly discovered missing from the staff box, as was Alastor 'Mad Eye' Moody, and two Dark Marks found blazoned into their seats. The ensuing panic was even worse than at the Quidditch World Cup.
And then there came a laugh that made everyone cringe in horror and disbelief. Neville's jowls were trembling in fright, and his skin had turned green. There had been a time when that laugh had been spread all over England, culminating in her arrest at the Longbottom Manor over the torture of Frank and Alice Longbottom. But she was supposed to be in Azkaban-
The cry came from several places at once, so it was impossible to identify who first cast it. But the multiple spells only reinforced the black mark burnt in the sky.
"Arise, my faithful!"
Fear made everyone quibble in their seats. Dumbledore surged to his feet, wand drawn. Behind him stood the staff of Hogwarts, quaking in their boots. Someone had been sent to gather the rest of the Order, but for now they had to hold their own, on their own. Snape was the palest they'd ever seen him.
"Tom, you must stop this folly," Dumbledore announced firmly, only to recoil at the sight of what awaited him.
Emerging from the smoking remains of the Quidditch field was a whole, hale, and healthy, Lord Voldemort. The man was as extraordinarily handsome as ever, looking barely a day over thirty despite the half-century since his birth. He was startlingly fit, with broad, velvet-covered shoulders, a trim waist, and sleek legs. When he spoke his voice sounded like honey and caramel. His dark, wavy hair was combed fetchingly away from his face and a sadistic smile curled about his luscious lips.
"You're actually surprised to see me, Dumbledore?" Voldemort veritably purred, stepping out and away, prowling forward with an erotic, feline grace. "But you shouldn't be. After all, you only spent an entire decade awaiting my return."
Gasps erupted all over the stadium at his words, and even some of the staff cast doubtful looks at the loopily-dressed man they stood behind. Dumbledore squared his jaw, but said nothing in his defence. Voldemort's smile deepened, not quite on the verge of gloating- yet.
"What ever would you like to know first, then, Dumbledore?" he mused. "How my rebirthing ceremony went? Or perhaps how I am even here in the first place?"
His smile turned sly and he turned, extending his hand to a figure trailing out of the smoke behind him.
"Karkaroff!" Pomfrey gasped, her hand fluttering over her breast at the sight of the Russian.
Voldemort's smile was directed entirely at her, and she flinched.
"Yes, who knew the pathetic coward could actually be useful."
As the man approached, they could see a deeply disturbing grin on his face that seemed most out of character for the dour headmaster. And then mid-step Karkaroff halted, and shuddered. The Hogwarts staff stared in demented awe as his skin bubbled away, reforming his features into a haggard visage that had once been cherubic- before his sentencing to Azkaban.
"Augustus Rookwood," Dumbledore gasped.
"Yes, we decided that it would be such a good revenge- turnabout is fair play, is it not, Augustus?"
The man bowed, a devious smile on his face. He was eerily attractive, his worn face framed by waving golden locks, and his baby-blue eyes shining blue in the night.
"Of course, My Lord. The wards- it was like stealing fizzing whizbees from a baby."
Dumbledore had given the headmasters of the foreign school access to the wards in order to make adjustments for their students, and Rookwood, in his days from the Department of Mysteries, had been a specialist in modifying wards. Using Karkaroff's magical signature to access the Hogwarts wards and change them to his suiting had been embarrassingly easy.
"Whatever did happen to Igor?" Voldemort asked conversationally, ignoring the horrified looks on their listeners' faces.
Rookwood laughed. "There is nothing left of him that is worth talking about, My Lord."
Voldemort's thin hand stroked a line down Rookwood's cheek. "Terribly fitting, of course…" Then he pierced Dumbledore with his sharp eyes.
"Such a shame, then, that it was only dearest Minnie, yes, your beloved Head Girl, Gryffindor Head of House, deputy Headmistress and all-around good screw- that was why you named her Headmistress, no?- only she got the invite for my cheery little rebirthing ceremony. Don't worry, Dumbledore," he cooed mockingly, "We missed you terribly and brought you a souvenir."
A ripple of shock riveted the crowd, and all the blood drained from Dumbledore's face. Voldemort tossed his head back and let out a cruel laugh, and something came flying out from the smoky depths behind him to thump heavily in the space before them. The Hogwarts staff was struck speechless by the blood-drained husk of Minerva McGonagall, recognised only by her tartan plaid robe, still shockingly intact. There was nothing human left of her.
"Since we're seeing all these familiar faces again…" an intimate smile wormed its way onto his lips, and his emerald eyes shone bright, so reminiscent of another boy who had already left tonight.
Snape suddenly doubled over from his place behind Dumbledore, left elbow clutched, and the staff glanced at him fearfully, now armed with the knowledge of what would happen, if indeed the call was answered.
People began popping in on either side of Voldemort, and Sprout nearly fainted. If Death Eaters could Apparate in, it was true then, what Rookwood had done: the Hogwarts wards, after standing for over a millennium, had finally fallen.
They came, in ones and twos, filling up the ranks beside and behind Voldemort, and the man himself was gloatingly confident. Dumbledore couldn't quite hide the shiver of apprehension in his old bones, and Voldemort, the damn smart lad that he'd always been, had to catch that.
"Cast your masks on the ground, faithful," he murmured.
Suddenly there was a change in the atmosphere. It was still thrumming and charged with tension, but swung violently from all-or-nothing to just plain all.
First to bare his face was the cold and haughty Lucius Malfoy. Beside him stood his wife, delicate and dangerous, Narcissa Black-Malfoy. Avery, Bole, Alecto and Amycus Carrow, then Crabbe and Goyle, Antonin Dolohov, Nott, Mulciber, Travers, Wilkes, Yaxley- more and more came, and more and more stood revealed. The shocker was Peter Pettigrew, whose seedy chin seemed to have regained some strength as he finally stood firm among his cohorts.
"And of course, my lovelies…" he hissed, raising his right arm and guiding forth a dark-haired woman by her chin. From her throat ripped loose another insane laugh. "I think you will find Azkaban most empty tonight." Long ripples of chocolate waves reached her waist. She was pale and gaunt, but her expression gave her all the vitality she needed. She bore Narcissa's features, despite her darker colouring, and looked hauntingly beautiful on the smoke-covered grounds. Beside her stood her husband and his younger brother, looking absolutely ravenous for the feast that was about to occur. All three looked disturbingly sane for having been in Azkaban for over a decade now.
"Arise, my faithful," Voldemort said again, and at his immediate left came a young, pale face that bore an uncanny resemblance to one of the tournament judges. Bartemius Crouch Jr. swept his straw-coloured hair from his brow as he bowed to his lord.
Bagman, still trapped in the stands, gaped at this newest revelation. "But how-" He whirled around to look for Crouch Sr., but the man was already gone.
"My Lord, if you will but allow me to clip your loose ends…"
Voldemort smiled again, lazy and languid. "A reward, Barty for your faithfulness."
"You are generous, My Lord." Barty bowed in gratitude. When he straightened, his sky-blue eyes were glinting cruelly as he looked straight at Snape. The sallow man started at the malice directed at him.
"You should never have forgotten who your Lord really was; join your Mudblood in hell!" Barty spat, raising his wand with an arm not of flesh and bone, but of a dazzling mercurial silver. Snape actually flinched at the slur, although he wasn't given the time to do much else; a bolt of putrid green came from behind and struck him in the back. Dumbledore's forces turned in shock at the first casualty on their side, and his murderer. There stood Bartemius Crouch Sr., his own sky-blue eyes disarmingly blank. Barty's smile grew into one that bared all his teeth, canines viciously included. His father raised his wand again, but pointed at his own throat this time.
"Diffindo," he croaked, and crumpled in a vivid spray of copper-scented scarlet..
Bellatrix let out a high-pitched shriek of laughter. "Marvellous show, Barty!" she commended. She turned fawning eyes to Voldemort. "My Lord, we live but to serve."
"And indeed you will," Voldemort said fondly. Then he turned his emerald eyes onto blue ones that weren't quite able to twinkle anymore. "How does it feel, Dumbledore, to be so totally abandoned. I do believe the Ministry…" he glanced at the silver-haired man standing immediately behind him on the right.
Malfoy bowed at the attention. "It awaits your every command, My Lord."
More of the Order began to pale. There had only been the barest bones of reinforcements, and they had wondered where the Aurors were. Surely, someone must have heard…but now they knew no respite would be found from that avenue.
"And of course, your…dearest…Saviour."
Every word was mocking.
"Where is he now, I wonder?"
Voldemort's face twisted in an evil smirk. "More than halfway to Bulgaria, having washed his hands of every last one of you. Good riddance, I think he'd say. "
"He will return!" Dumbledore declared strongly. In the silence of the Quidditch field, his voice carried across the stands. "He will not stand for the injustice-"
Voldemort burst out laughing in genuine mirth, and people gawked at this unusual sight. Bellatrix and Barty stared up at him adoringly, while those from the Order looked downright horrified.
His voice cracked like a whip above their heads.
"Done to whom? To Harry Potter, the boy-you-sentenced-to-live-for-ten-years-in-the-cupboard-under-the-stairs?"
No one could find any words to say to that.
"I thought so," Voldemort said silkily. "Harry Potter will not return. He will not be saving anyone. After all, who ever bothered to save him?" Those last words were cruel and striking right to the heart. He turned casually to the straw-haired man by his side. "Barty, don't you have something for Dumbledore?"
The man's blue eyes brightened. "Of course, My Lord, forgive my forgetfulness." A sinister smile began to grow on his lips, and he dug two items from the inside of his robes and tossed them carelessly on top the corpse of Minerva McGonagall. The Order stared hopelessly at the peg leg and ever-present flask of Alastor Moody. Barty then pulled out a revolving magical eyeball and tossed it up and down like a tennis ball.
"I'm afraid I'll be keeping this," he told the petrified Order. "I'm rather fond of it myself. Besides, I wore it for an entire year."
This final dupe practically crippled the Order. The last thing anyone heard before the slaughter commenced was a warbling cry of a phoenix, hastily cut off.
But Harry Potter didn't know any of this. He didn't know how McGonagall had unwillingly vanished together along with 'Moody' from the stands about the time Bagman had cried 'begin'. He didn't know how Pettigrew had gone to Azkaban with Lucius Malfoy in his Animagus form some time before Yule to perform a 'routine check' and how they, with the aid of the Dementors, had emptied all the cells of Death Eaters and replaced them with permanently transfigured Kissed guards. He didn't know how Narcissa had, under the cover of her usual teatime parties, disseminated news of the Lord's return and word of his plans to return to power. No, Harry Potter lay safe and cradled in Viktor Krum's arms aboard the Durmstrang ship, already more than a hundred miles away, unconscious to all else in the world around him.
Twelve years later
The Bulgarian Quidditch star turned and smiled at the sight of his son flying down the stairs to fling himself into his father's arms, as utterly undignified as his daddy. Tihomir Potter-Krum was his biological son created through a mixture of Muggle and magical means; they had had their genes mixed through magic and used Muggle surrogacy with a Bulgarian witch to carry the child to term. His son was just four, and just as horribly precocious as his husband.
As a result of their procedure, Tihomir had dark hair from both his fathers, although his was easily tidied, thankfully. He also had his daddy's unmistakeable green eyes. Said daddy emerged from their bedroom a couple moments later, tripping on the last stair and nearly careening headfirst into the wall. Harry only barely managed to catch himself in time, and shook his head ruefully.
While they may have had to resort to artificial means to have a child, it certainly hadn't been for lack of trying. Their honeymoon had lasted nearly half a year and took them through all six inhabited continents of the world. Viktor had never been more glad that he was still young, having just turned twenty-two the day of their bonding ceremony. He didn't think he could've kept up with his husband otherwise.
The timid boy he'd once known had become quite the insatiable voracious minx, at eighteen barely on this side of legal, with flashing viridian eyes and a Quidditch-toned body. The last few months before their ceremony had been positively agony for Viktor. His then-fiancé had just happened to dress and undress with the same lack of self-consciousness and decorum he'd possessed four years earlier while they'd been sharing a cabin aboard the Durmstrang ship, baring far too much of that sleek, tanned skin for his comfort.
It certainly didn't help that they still shared a room, the boy having moved in upon first reaching Bulgaria and having never left. If Viktor didn't know better, he would have sworn the boy had been as innocent as ever, but one glint of those devious verdant eyes told him everything he needed to know.
"Oops," he offered Viktor, a helpless smile playing on his lips. He reached the older man and slid one arm around his waist, one arm about his child, and kissed his husband, leaving him breathless.
"Harry," Viktor rasped, burying his nose in unruly black locks.
The younger man giggled, and kissed Tihomir on the cheek. In return the child pressed his lips to the corner of his father's mouth. "Kisses for everyone!" he crowed sunnily, and smacked his daddy on the lips.
The two men fell into laughing. It was a good mood between their small family.
"Liliya and Branimir are coming over to pick us up, and then we'll all see you later at the stadium," Harry murmured. "You should be going now." His green eyes shone briefly. "I'll make it up to you later."
Another life, and another Quidditch World Cup. Bulgaria, with their star Seeker, had won every subsequent Cup and was looking to claim it once more, this time from Israel. They were twelve years' worth of good times, happy times. Even when he had awoken in Bulgaria and heard news of the relatively tame takeover- the massacre had, after all, been limited to the Ministry, the Order of the Phoenix members, and the Hogwarts staff- he had put it out of his mind, first for Viktor's sake, and then for Tihomir's sake, and finally, years after the event had occurred, for his own.
True to his word, Voldemort never extended his reach to Bulgaria. He had been content with reigning over Britain with an iron fist. After the first few years, when things had begun to quiet down, the entire wizarding world was granted a look at how much more efficient the Dark-run British Ministry of Magic had been in the first International Confederation of Wizards to convene since the coup d'état. Sure enough, laws for Muggleborns were much more stringent than they'd been in the past, but at least there hadn't been any other surprises.
Harry hadn't felt any of that was particularly unexpected. His cynical side had flourished under the Bulgarians' watchful eye, and he had told them, quite frankly, that despite all the murdering and torture, Voldemort chose people with at least some modicum of intelligence, which was infinitely more than he could say for the so-called Light side.
After a stunned silence- they certainly hadn't been expecting that vehemence- Branimir slowly began to laugh, and attested to his son-in-law's claim. His dealings with the British Minister of Magic, Lucius Malfoy, had proven that much as well.
But Harry had wondered why Lucius had retained his ministry position, as he had expected Voldemort to claim that title. He was obviously much more than a titular ruler, but he didn't have the 'legal' power Lucius wielded. That one, Branimir had been glad to answer.
"Ministers can't Crucio people, Harry," he had said patiently, "But Dark Lords can. Besides, it'll still be a long while before the British can accept a Dark Lord Minister of Magic, and knowing what kind of rituals Voldemort put himself under, it doesn't surprise me if he'll outlive Malfoy to actually see that happen."
Harry couldn't disagree with that, even though he himself wouldn't be waiting on baited breath. He simply didn't- wouldn't- care anymore. He had left England, to glory or to ruin, much like how England had left him to the unforgiving clutches of its Muggle population.
A new calm settled over him as he took Tihomir from Viktor, and watched his husband mount his broom, the new –punnily enough- Lightningbolt. Harry himself had been on one of the spell development teams for the creation of this new broom that had easily outraced a Firebolt to claim the title of fastest broom in the world, and had even been the first test rider. He didn't play professional Quidditch anymore, preferring to leave that to his husband, although he was probably one of the few who could keep up with Viktor on a broom.
Harry watched Viktor soar off, Tihomir squirming in his arms to wave goodbye and good luck. As things went, he barely even remembered the life he'd had before this. Somehow, they always seemed to incur some sort of pain. Even his first meeting with the only memories he'd had of his former life- Luna, Cedric, Hagrid, Remus, Sirius- Luna he'd met when she was fleeing the abuse of her Ravenclaw housemates; Cedric he'd met just briefly before falling a hundred and fifty feet, comatose; Hagrid he'd met on a very lonely eleventh birthday in a hut on a rock in the middle of the sea; Remus he'd met right after confronting the Dementors; and Sirius he'd met just in time to have him ripped away again.
Tihomir was squalling for attention again, and Harry tore his mind away from the unwelcome memories and smiled at him. The toddler squealed with delight and showered his daddy with kisses. If Harry had his way, Tihomir was going to be the most affectionate child in the whole of Bulgaria. He was going to be everything he never had the chance to be.
He turned in time to see Liliya waltzing through their front door.
At his son's cry Harry let the child down so he could run to his grandmother, and kiss her soundly. They spoke almost exclusively in Bulgarian now, rarely ever resorting to the language of his childhood unless Remus and Sirius were feeling nostalgic, and perhaps Amos. He grinned as he saw Liliya cooing and coddling the boy.
"How in the world did Viktor end up the way he did if you brought him up?" he teased.
Liliya Krum pouted adorably, hardly acting her half of her sixty years. She had aged well, with only deepened crow's feet and the lines about her mouth telling the truth about her age. Her chestnut hair twisted into an elegant knot at the base of her neck was still as dark as the day she'd been born.
"Blame him!" she declared, pointing a hand imperiously at the husband who'd just walked through the door. Branimir looked startled at the attention, but then he saw the laughing faces, and began to laugh himself.
"We should go soon," Harry finally said, holding his arms out for his son so they could Apparate together. "Viktor'll be worried when we don't show up on time."
"You mean Viktor'll be worried if you twodon't show up," Liliya smirked. Harry ducked his head and blushed, but he could hardly deny the accusation. The last time they'd been late because Tihomir had decided to throw a tantrum, Viktor had lost his head and nearly mobilised the National Guard before someone had enough common sense to ask him if he'd checked their house.
Tihomir trilled, delightedly, and smothered Harry's neck with kisses. "Daddy's embaaaaaa-rrassed!"
"Alright, alright, let's go already!" Harry stammered, his entire face as red as a Weasley's.
Liliya and Branimir stood framed in the doorway, haloed by soft golden sunlight, warming him with their heartfelt smiles. They'd become the parents he'd never had, and Viktor and Tihomir had claimed the greatest loves of his life. He never thought he could've had this kind of life, but the Bulgarians had marched right into his life and never left. It still amazed him sometimes. Then Liliya sighed, distracting him. "I know that look," she began plaintively to Branimir. "It'd probably be better if we took Tihomir for the night, wouldn't it-"
"I'll have to agree on this one," Branimir said solemnly, "I'd hate for him to catch an eyeful of what his fathers are up to every night, especially at this age-"
Harry's cheeks burst into flames- yet again. "Branimir!" he squawked. In his arms the boy was laughing and squalling, thrilled by his daddy's embarrassment, even if he didn't fully understand why. Branimir burst out into hearty laughter and clapped him on the back, gently guiding his sons out of their house.
"Let us go," he said again. "Viktor is waiting."
The words brought a tender smile to Harry's face, even if the rose hadn't fully faded from his face. Viktor was waiting. He had, for him, no less, all these years. And now he didn't have to, not any longer.
"He is waiting," Harry agreed, shifting Tihomir in his grip. He couldn't quite hide the bashful smile spreading over his face. "It's about time we did something about that."
Laughing, the group made their way out of the cottage, the door swinging close behind them.
When Voldemort says turnabout is fair play, he's referring to giving Karkaroff to Rookwood, as the traitor had given up Rookwood's name in an effort to save his own skin after the First War, causing him to be sentenced to Azkaban. He was freed sometime before Karkaroff's meeting with Moody at the Yule Ball in time for them to make the switch then.
Tihomir – derived from the Slavic elements 'tih' for 'quiet' and 'mir' for 'peace'.
I'm afraid that's all, folks (o: Later this week I will begin posting the prologue to Old Hearts Remember, an AU featuring Blaise/Harry for Dreams0rule0the0earth. The summary is up on my profile. Thank you so much for the continued support throughout this endeavour. Cheers!