A/N: This chapter is intended as an interlude between Durmstrang and Hogwarts period. I hope you enjoy reading!
Big Brother (Interlude)
August 25th, 1994
Viktor peeked inside the living room. His father was sitting in the armchair deep in thought. The fireplace illuminated his troubled features. Days after the fiasco at the Quidditch World Cup, the man still hasn't talked to either of his sons. He helped Andrei get home that night and he put him to bed, just as the mediwizard ordered. He even tucked him in. But since then he hasn't been to Andrei's room at all anymore. He would disappear for hours at time and once he came home he would talk to his wife, avoid Viktor and then sit and stare at the fireplace until Sofia would come and get him just in time for bed.
Seeing his father struggle so much hasn't been easy on Viktor and he tried to give the man some space. But now, when Viktor noticed how his little brother was also hurting, not being allowed to leave the bed and seek their father out on his own, Viktor decided it would be better to finally have a long due discussion.
"Dad?" Viktor tentatively approached the fireplace.
Alex did not look up but frowned harder. Viktor expected things would not go smoothly, but he needed to know what was happening with his family. He has been away from them for a year almost and while he didn't like it, he was hoping it wouldn't endanger their relationship. But in the meantime things have definitely changed between his father and brother. And not for the better.
"We need to talk about Andrei." he said. Alex didn't respond, although Viktor knew he was listening carefully. "Things between the two of you have changed this year and I just want to know why." He waited to see if his dad would say anything, but when he didn't he continued. "You have been angry with him since the beginning of the World Cup and Andrei's never complained. Not once. He just kept to himself and I decided to leave it alone. I thought you two would eventually talk and sort it out, like you always do." He stopped and looked at the passive face of the man in front of him. "But this is not like other times you fought before, is it? If it was then Andrei would be protesting and throwing a tantrum, while you would just speak your mind and irritate him to no end with that spooky calm voice you do when we get ourselves into trouble." Alex was still staring at the flames, but Viktor thought he saw a change in his eyes. His heart started pounding faster when he realized he might not like all the answer he was looking for. "What happened, dad? What was so bad that it changed both of you so much?" he whispered, never having asked his father something this serious before.
Finally, Alexander looked up, but Viktor was not met with determined, unrelenting gaze he was expecting. Instead he looked defeated and, Viktor was alarmed to notice, more than a bit distraught.
"Dad, I need to know. Maybe I can help?" Viktor pleaded.
"I believed the rumors, Viktor." Seeing that Viktor was about to interrupt he raised his hand to stop him and motioned for him to take a seat in the other armchair. "And those rumors may have been correct or not, but either way I let them cloud my judgment, and that was wrong." He took a shaky breath, weighing his words. "I raised you both and I like to think that I know you quite well. I know how you think; I know who you are and who you are both trying to be. But all it took was hearing one wisp of what your brother has been up to at that school and I lost it. Suddenly, just after hearing who he was spending his time with I nearly forgot who my child really was. But even then I refused to believe that Andrei would get involved with a wrong crowd."
"Dad, what are you talking about? I've met Andrei's friends. They may be a bit weird, but they are good kids."
Alex shook his head. "Have you talked to Andrei about them recently?"
Viktor was about to answer when realization struck him. No, in fact Andrei has not mentioned his friends in his letters since Christmas at least. He shook his head, now genuinely scared of what his dad was about to tell him.
"That's because they are not friends anymore. I've heard about it just before the World Cup from Rangelov. He mentioned how Andrei finally chose good company."
"And you believed him?" Viktor asked, amazed.
"He said something about Andrei getting along with Popov's kid." seeing Viktor's questioning look he explained further "Popov was sentenced to Azkaban. He was released soon though… and I don't know his kid's name. And of course, even Rangelov's boy, Valentin, is no longer such a good kid to be around."
"So, you decided that, based on who their fathers are, these kids are bad news."
"I talked to Karkaroff. He couldn't tell me much but there seemed to be an incident during a meal around Christmas, where Alvin screamed that Andrei was a traitor and then stormed off. Karkaroff was not sure but he said they haven't been close since then."
"And have you asked Andrei about it?"
Alexander nodded slowly. "I confronted your brother. And he outright lied to me. He said he was friends with Alvin and Maarika and pretended there was nobody else. You should have seen him, Viktor. He was so calm. He looked straight into my eyes and told one lie after another. At that moment I wasn't sure what to believe in anymore."
"Maybe he was telling the truth, dad? I wouldn't believe some hearsay rather than Andrei, and honestly Andrei is not that good at hiding his thoughts or lying."
Alex was quiet for a while, thinking weather to say what was on his mind. Finally he decided he should share this with Viktor who was just as concerned about his little brother as Alex himself was. "When Severus struck him past summer, Andrei just shut himself off. His face was completely emotionless."
"He was surprised, Dad! You can't blame him for-"
"No, Viktor, that's just it. He wasn't surprised at all. When he spoke to Severus it was in this clear, detached voice. Like he bottled up all feelings and let his mind take over."
"That doesn't sound like Andrei at all." Viktor said, confusion clouding his features.
"Exactly. Since then, more often than not I can't recognize the kid."
"He is still the same kid as ever, dad." Viktor insisted "It's just that… something must have happened… something other than Severus…"
"Well, whatever it is, he doesn't want to talk about it."
"Ok, I'll talk to him then. He might feel more comfortable talking to me." Viktor concluded. He went to stand up but remembered another thing he wanted to ask before he went to Andrei. "Dad? You said the rumors clouded your judgment. Were you talking about the World Cup?"
Alexander's gaze slipped to the fire again, but he nodded. "When we couldn't find him, the only thing I could think of was Andrei walking alongside those Death Eaters." Alex pinched the bridge of his nose, and swallowed hard "I didn't think for one second that he could be hurt, not even when you insisted on it... I failed him, Viktor. " A single tear rolled down his cheek but he quickly wiped it from his face and took a few deep breaths to calm down.
Viktor didn't know what to say. Thanks to that cloak, he knew his father was right in thinking Andrei was with the Death Eaters. But, suddenly he understood why his mum had kept the truth about that night from the Krum patriarch. If Alex knew he was right, his relationship with Andrei would never be the same again. This way they still had a chance to make it work.
"I'll talk to Andrei." Viktor said and went straight to his brother's room.
At Spinners End
Severus closed his eyes and enjoyed every time his lover thrust inside him. Every second Severus' breath became shorter and shorter until Bill's muscular arms pulled him close and his mouth opened in silent screamed as he spilled himself between them. As he recovered from his orgasm, he could still feel Bill twitching inside his oversensitive hole. Finally, when it was becoming too much, Bill pulled out and rolled off of him.
Severus snuggled into his sweaty body as Bill's hand came around his shoulders. They stayed like that for a while until Bill decided he couldn't keep quiet anymore.
"Sev, we have to talk."
Severus hummed, trying to enjoy his lover's touch a bit longer.
"What could be so important?" Severus said, not opening his eyes yet.
Bill seemed to consider it, and after a short silence Severus thought his lover gave up. Until Bill's masculine voice filled the room again. "When was the last time you heard from Andrei?"
Severus gave up cuddling and propped himself up on one elbow, eyes trained on Bill now. "Why?"
"I saw him at the World Cup. Did Alexander tell you?"
"No. What happened?"
"I don't know. Charlie and I found him, injured-"
Severus jumped up at that "What?"
"Relax, he will be fine…"
"What happened? Why didn't Alexander tell me?" Severus asked frantically.
"I don't know, Sev-"
"I'll call him right away. I can't believe he wouldn't tell me-"
"Severus! Listen, please!" Bill yelled over his lover's tirade.
Severus turned to him and saw the weariness in his lover.
"As I was saying, he was injured, so I thought we should take him to mediwizards. But then I noticed that he was wearing a cloak… black and worn, with a large hood and narrow battle sleeves… nothing else distinctive on it. It was too large for him, so I believe someone gave it to him. Either way… I knew what it was and Charlie noticed too, so I took it off and hid it until I saw the Krums."
Severus was staring at him like he has grown another head.
"I showed it to his mother and she hid it in her bag. Viktor Krum saw it too, but not Alexander."
"There has to be an explanation…"
"We don't know why he was wearing it."
Bill looked at the covers, avoiding his eyes.
"It's Andrei! Bill, you know he wouldn't… he is just a kid!"
"I don't know Severus… I am just telling you what I saw." Bill said, rubbing his eyes, trying to make sense of it for his lover's sake.
Severus hastily put on his clothes, strode to the living room and Bill heard him floo to Krum residence.
Vikor didn't bother to knock on the door. He never did. However, he entered slowly, so he wouldn't wake his brother up in case he was sleeping. Andrei was propped up on the bed reading and the main light was on.
"Hey… I see you are feeling better." Viktor smiled as he threw himself sideways on the foot of the bed.
"Yeah, the light doesn't bother me anymore and I can even get up without becoming dizzy." Andrei announced proudly.
"Then what are you still doing in bed?" Viktor teased.
"Mum won't let me get up yet…" his little brother sulked.
Viktor sobered at that. "I can't say I blame her, you really scared us that night." he looked at Andrei, wondering how this conversation is going to go. "Speaking of which, you never really said what happened to you."
Andrei closed the book with a pout. He was really glad he could finally be close to Vik but it was annoying that their every conversation had to start this way.
"I already told you Vik."
"Say it again."
"I met a friend and when the whole mess started I ran back and tripped."
"Who was the friend?"
Andrei was startled by the question and looked at Viktor. They sat in silence for a few seconds, neither of them backing down. This was a new question, and if Viktor was asking this than he suspected it was not Alvin or Maarika.
"You talked to dad." Andrei stated without any doubt, dropping the kid act.
"Yes, I did. So, who was the friend?"
Andrei considered his options. Viktor would be coming back to Durmstrang this year, so even if he lied, Viktor would know the truth in a couple of days anyway. So it's better to tell the truth right now and perhaps offer a few excuses along the way.
"Aaaand who is he?" Viktor asked curiously.
"A fifth year from Durmstrang. Sixth year, now."
"Since when do you hang out with sixth years?" Viktor frowned.
Andrei couldn't tell the whole truth. He wouldn't let Viktor fight his battles, no matter what. He managed to keep his family out of that mess and he will keep on doing that. But in order for that to work, Viktor has to keep his nose out of his business. And the only way that will work out is if he thinks that Andrei is happy and safe. Which Andrei may not be but that's ok, since Viktor will not know differently. Except that he will spend the whole year with Viktor in school, and Viktor is bound to notice things… but he would think about that part later.
"Since I am dating one, Vik." he said.
And this was not the answer Viktor was expecting. His brother was blinking at him, not making any sound. He opened and closed his mouth a few times before the words actually came out.
"And since when do you date?" Viktor choked out.
"Since a few months ago."
"And how come I only hear about this now?"
"It's never come up before."
Viktor was looking at him like he's lost his mind.
"Ok…", Viktor hesitated, "So, the person you are dating… Is it a guy or a girl?"
"Oh… Ok… I thought Yan was a friend of your… but ok… So you went to see your boyfriend… your sixteen year old boyfriend… in the middle of the night?"
"Yes. We went for a walk."
Now Viktor was sitting, cross-legged at the foot of the bed, contemplating how to continue this conversation. He didn't think Andrei was lying to him so far. And if he was, this would have been a very poor choice out of all potential lies out there.
"And what happened then?"
"People started screaming… I panicked... Yan told me to calm down. The next thing I know, he was telling Mikhail, his friend, to take me back to my tent. Mikhail grabbed my hand and started running and he didn't notice that I slipped and fell. He left me half way to the tent and then went back to find Yan. Then I ran into Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger and waited with them for things to die down. When they did I tried to get back to you guys, but I don't really remember what happened after that." Andrei said.
Viktor believed him. He could also see why Andrei wouldn't talk about it to mum and dad. But still… is he kidding? He ran into Harry Potter?
"Yeah, ask him if you ever meet him. I think his friend would remember meeting Krum's brother" Andrei grimaced.
Andrei moaned. "Worse… That guy is your biggest fan…"
Viktor laughed as Andrei chuckled at his cockiness. He was really glad Andrei was starting to relax with him again. But still, there were a few more things he had to know.
"Can you tell me about the cloak you were found in?"
"It's Yan's. He gave it to me so people wouldn't recognize me in the crowd. I was meaning to ask, what happened to it?"
"Mum took it. She didn't tell you?"
"Mum's been talking about everything except that night. It was kind of refreshing though. Hearing all the fun you two had during the past year..." Andrei shrugged.
"I don't even want to know what she said!"
"Oh, it was so great. I think I have enough bargaining material for years to come." Andrei sighed theatrically.
"Oh, Merlin…" Viktor groaned and fell back onto the bed.
Sofia was in the kitchen when the floo activated. In a blink of an eye she had her wand in her hand and only lowered it when she saw Severus step out.
"What do you want Severus?"
"You never told me Andrei was hurt at the World Cup."
"Well, it's not like you called to ask after his health…"
"He is my son!"
"NO! He is MY son! You and Alexander both seem to forget any relation you have to him as soon as something goes wrong! So don't you barge into MY home making claims like that, Snape!"
To say that Severus was surprised by this outburst would be an understatement. "Tell me what happened, please?"
Sofia was still seething. "He was hurt and now he is better. No thanks to you or that friend of yours, who is wallowing in self pity in the next room."
"Very well. I suppose I didn't deserve any better. What about Alexander?"
"What about Alexander? His son was hurt somewhere and he didn't even want to look for him from fear of finding him in the compromising situation. If you want to know more, go talk to him, I give up." She threw the kitchen cloth on the counter and started towards the door.
"Tell me about the cloak." Severus said and she stopped in her tracks.
"What cloak?" she turned to him.
"Drop the act, Sofia. I know he was found in the Death Eater's garb."
"Listen to me carefully, Severus Snape." Her voice just loud enough that he could hear her. "For all I care, that cloak does not exist and it never did. And if you care one bit about that boy upstairs that you claim is your son, you will forget about ever hearing about it."
"You can not expect-"
"If you say one word to Alexander about this, Severus, I swear you will regret it. Now, who else knows about it?"
"Only William and Charles Weasley, and they will not tell anyone." Severus said.
"They told you, didn't they?"
Severus stared at the woman in front of him. He could not believe this was the same docile wife of his best friend. However, deep down he's always known she would do everything for her kids, after all that was part of the reason he always trusted her with Andrei. This woman could and would use that wand she had tight in her grip if only she believed it would protect her children.
"William is my lover. He believed that I should know."
"Make sure he believes no one else should now." She said with certain finality to her voice. "Andrei is fine, so you may leave now, Severus."
Severus took one more look at her and decided that this is as much as he would get at this point. He turned around and stepped into the floo to go back home.
October 29th, 1994
Viktor was standing in front of the ship that would take him and other potential Triwizard champions to Hogwarts. He didn't want to go though. Or leave Andrei behind again. In the past two months that he had a chance to observe his brother, he managed to fill in all the gaps that Andrei did not want to share with him before the school started. Bit by bit he found out about Andrei's life at Durmstrang. And it scared the hell out of him. But still he covered for him. He told Alexander about Andrei's new friends and how nice they were. He told him there is no reason to worry. He told him how happy Andrei was. He told how everything is perfect. He told lies. But those lies kept Alex happy and out of harm's way. They also allowed Alex to become close to his younger son again.
"I can't believe you are skipping school again". Andrei said from behind.
He turned around and saw the boy sitting on the ice covered grass where the dock was starting. Of course he wouldn't even step a foot on a dock unless he absolutely had to. The further from water the better. Viktor took a few steps back to him and sat on the grass.
"The ground is freezing." he yelped.
"You have a wand. Warm it up, genius." the kid smirked at him cockily.
After Viktor did just that he looked back to Andrei who was now having a staring match with the ship.
"You know, it's a perfectly safe way to travel."
"It submerges. There is a difference." Viktor smirked.
"It's still below surface." Andrei frowned.
Viktor sighed. He knew it would make no difference to Andrei even if the ship was peacefully floating on the surface. But Andrei's fear of water was not what he wanted to talk about on his last day at Durmstrang.
"I think you should tell dad to pull you out." he said. Andrei looked at him in confusion. "Durmstrang is not safe anymore. Now that Karkaroff is leaving, Professor Aspen is the only one who would help you out if anything goes wrong, and that is not good enough."
"It's not like Karkaroff actually helped… ever…"
"His presence helped. People would not risk getting on his bad side and his thoughts on anyone hurting the Krums inside his school were always clear."
"Just because he's always been terrified of dad."
"It doesn't matter why. His presence protected you from the worst of it while I was away, whether Karkaroff himself realized that or not. Now that he is gone, I don't want you in this school anymore."
"I can take care of myself Vik."
"You forget that I've seen the way you take care of yourself, Andi."
"I can't run away now. They would go after Alvin and Maarika again if I do."
"At least tell dad about everything! Or let me tell him."
"No. I kept a secret about that rememberall thing last year just so you could go off and play Quidditch! The least you can do is keep my secret now." Andrei glared.
"Please, Andrei! Something will go wrong, I feel it. I see the way that little bastard looks at you. I've also seen he's become a lot more possessive lately. I see how all the people you are trying to protect turn against you. When I leave, you will have no one to talk to anymore and that is bad on it's own. So please, tell dad you want to be home schooled, or maybe he would even consider sending you to Hogwarts?"
"I can handle Yan being an ass and I can definitely handle not talking to anyone. What I can't handle is dad knowing the truth or having Severus as a teacher." Andrei bit back. "Don't worry about me, Vik. I'll be fine."
"No, you won't. You haven't been fine for a long time, Andrei." he was sure Andrei would interrupt him there and argue, but he didn't. And that made him feel even worse. "But now at least I know about it and I can help you. Even if it is only through letters. So, fine, Andrei… have it your way. But I will be expecting Hoof every second day with a letter! And everything you write will be truth! Got it?" Viktor stated in a voice that hopefully told Andrei the discussion is over. "And if I see that things are going the wrong way, I'm telling dad to pull you out of the school, and you can explain to him why."
"I think that might work. I would have written to you anyway." Andrei said.
Viktor nodded. Of course he would have. He was the kid's only friend now. A thought which made him hate this whole school. But Andrei has made his own decisions, be it for better or for worse, and has proven time and again that he can handle the consequences. He will be fine.
What Viktor didn't consider is that there comes a time when the decision is taken out of your hands. Then the consequences may be way over your head.