Merry Christmas Fey!
A/N: This fic was written as a sequel to 'Maybe Someday', but stands just fine on its own. Also, as I was not able to find any information on the ages of Bill's children other than the order from oldest to youngest and the fact that Victoire was born on the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, I've taken some creative license in their exact ages here.
Standard Disclaimers Apply.
Rated M to be on the safe side, but it may be closer to T. I wrote this shortly after Thanksgiving and I've been sitting on it since. I honestly can't remember which is more appropriate a month after the fact.
Victoire rocked back on her heels. Bill always found himself amazed by the way time flies. It seemed that hardly a moment had passed since she was six years old and wanted to know why her mother was moving away. Then suddenly, there had been the horror of puberty and maxi pads and learning magic he thought he'd never need in order to help his daughter with an onslaught of cramps and mood swings that he sometimes thought would be the death of them both. He probably let her get away with the 'but I have my period!' excuse far more than a mother would, and she probably took advantage of that, but all in all, he thought he'd braved it rather well. When Dominique went through the same, it was much less horrifying because her big sister did most of the explaining. He was relieved he wouldn't have to worry about that sort of thing when his son, the last member of his troublesome triad, hit puberty. That would be any time now, he realized, as Louis had entered his first year at Hogwarts this past September. Victoire? Victoire was already sixteen. She was interested in robes and boys, but thankfully not makeup – being part Veela she hardly required it – and thank Merlin for that, because Bill honestly wouldn't have the faintest idea where to even begin on that particular subject. Her friends had introduced her to the wonders of lip gloss and perfume, and that was the end of her forays into the world of cosmetics thus far.
"We don't have to go, you know," his eldest daughter said, fingers laced coyly behind her back. "We see mum and Celeste and Granmama and Grandpapa Delacour every New Year's. We can stay home this year."
"Don't be silly. I have you all year long, it's only fair that your mother gets you on the holidays. It's been like this forever."
"But all of them?" Victoire protested. "You say that, and it was fine when we were little, but even Louis is in Hogwarts now. It isn't fair. You spend all year here by yourself, and then when the holidays come you're still all by yourself. We love you both, you know. So why is it we see the woman who walked out on us ten years ago more often than we see the man who raised us?"
"Victoire, we've been over this. You know it wasn't like that," Bill sighed. She was at that age, he reminded himself, where she thought she knew everything except that she misinterpreted all the things that mattered. At sixteen, adults were always wrong, they didn't know what it was like, or even what it was, and their way of thinking was archaic, at best. Whatever he had to say to her, he knew she had already made up her mind. And on top of being a teenager, she was her mother's daughter – blunt to the point that she was sometimes a little unintentionally tactless.
Victoire gave him a sad smile. "I'm not saying I don't still love mum, dad. She's our mother. Of course we love her. But things have changed. I know you want us to stay." She sidled up behind the armchair where he had been sitting reading The Daily Prophet while waiting for his children to come downstairs with their luggage and wrapped her arms around his shoulders with a dramatic sigh. "I know, I know. You have plenty to do. You can go all the way to the Burrow to visit Gramps and Gran and talk about Quidditch, and play with muggle things, and then you can come all the way back when they fall asleep right after dinner. And then, if you're really bored, the next day you can do the same thing all over again. It's been ten years, Dad. You need to get out a little, learn to have some fun. Meet someone nice."
Oh for love of Merlin. Even his daughter wanted him to find 'someone nice' now? Charlie had been bad enough, but then Ron started hinting – which was really just saying it straight out in a clumsy way because as much as his youngest brother tried, he still had no sense of subtlety, and of course Mum would nag him, and the Old Man would give him brief, yet significant looks at all of the most appropriate times. Bill didn't think he could handle the emotional baggage of getting married again, not after that first time. Even if he was feeling particularly courageous on some drunken evening, having three kids and a face full of scars as part of the package tended to narrow his options considerably. The kids were the bigger problem than the scars when it came to dating, but he wouldn't trade them for the world.
"I know plenty of nice people," he snipped. "And if I didn't, it still wouldn't be something you need to worry yourself over."
"But we do worry. You're all alone."
"I'm not alone, Vici," he assured her. "I have the three of you."
Victoire scoffed. "Pictures on the mantle. You see us more in fire calls than you do in person. And we're getting older. Someday, we'll all grow up, and get married and move out, and you'll still be here. Who will keep you company then?"
"Someday is a long ways off yet," Bill chided.
"Sure, but you know Dad, someday always comes."
Bill chuckled a bit. "When it does, you can say 'I told you so', how about that? In the meanwhile, go see what's taking your brother and sister so long. You'll miss the train if they take much longer."
"Maybe that's what we're hoping for," Victoire muttered.
"Get going," Bill laughed. "I'm fine. Your mother gets you for New Year's. It's always been that way and you know it. Don't disappoint her."
Victoire made it to the bottom of the stairs before she stopped and turned around. Bill tilted his head in acknowledgment. What was it now?
"Dad, promise me," she said. "Promise me you won't spend New Year's Eve reading on the couch and falling asleep before midnight again this year. You'll do something. Go out. Get together with friends. Something."
"I promise you if you don't get your butt moving, I'll tell your Gran just exactly how many of her meat pies you fed to Uncle Charlie's dog when she wasn't looking."
Victoire pouted at him. "The meat was overcooked! You know it was!"
He supposed it was his fault that she liked her meat a little on the red side. He always undercooked it because ever since his fight with Greyback he preferred his meat a bit on the raw side, but he hadn't meant to inflict his own personal tastes on his children. And he did still love Molly's Meat Pies, even if the meat was "overcooked".
"Go on, get going," Bill laughed.
"Daad," Victoire whined. He still hadn't promised her he wouldn't fall asleep alone on the couch over the holiday, but right when she was about to offer one final effort, an owl flew in the open back window and landed on the coffee table. He took the letter it held out and offered it an owl treat while he read it.
"Ah, see that? Shows how much you know," he told his teenage daughter. "Viktor will be coming to visit." He scribbled a reply and handed it over to the owl before sending it off.
"Viktor the Bulgarian?" Victoire asked with a strange sort of tone. "The handsome one who coaches the National Team?"
"How many other Viktors do we know?" Bill answered.
Victoire smiled that coy little smile of hers and said, "Oh, I was just checking," before all but skipping up the stairs.
'What in the world was that about?' Bill wondered. 'She's met Viktor dozens of times, thought he was one of her uncles until she was twelve.'
Bill would never admit it, but he couldn't be happier to have company coming. He could go days without human contact, weeks, if he had to, but these past four months since Louis had enrolled in Hogwarts had been hard. It hadn't been as bad with the girls – sure, he missed them, like any decent parent would, and he worried, like any sensible parent ought, but his youngest was still about the house doing the things that little boys do to accidentally cause havoc and create unnecessary noise, and that made it easier.
Then, September 1st came. He saw all three of his children onto the Hogwarts Express, had a cup of coffee with Harry and Ron afterward. It wasn't until about an hour after he got home that he realized it: the house was too quiet. He spent the next four months going back and forth between work and home, working more hours because it wasn't as if he had anything waiting for him anyway other than a week of leftovers (cooking for one was such a nuisance), and reading parts of the Prophet he hadn't known existed for the better part of his life. If Victoire was worried about him, he admitted now that she wasn't here, it was only because she was right about the most important thing. He was terribly lonely.
He hadn't dated anyone since Fleur. He just couldn't muster the emotional energy. That was fine when the children were young. He was so busy he hardly had time to breathe, let alone time for romance, but now? Now he was so far from the dating pool that he couldn't even see water. The thought of getting back into it was intimidating at best. There was all the posturing – flowers and nice restaurants and new clothes, hairstyles meant to impress, and very little real communication.
That's what made Viktor's visits so great, Bill thought. Real communication. It was so easy to be himself around Viktor. He didn't have to worry about what he looked like, or how stupid he sounded, or if he spent half the night talking about his kids. Viktor didn't care about any of that. Actually, it was the opposite. Viktor seemed to enjoy all of the stories Bill had about his children and the most mundane aspects of his life. And Viktor, like him, had spent the past ten years alone. While Bill didn't understand why, it at least put them on a level playing field. He didn't have to explain his romance hiatus to a man who was also on one. The fact that Viktor was gay rarely crossed Bill's mind even though he'd known since a drunken stupor they'd shared when Bill's divorce had been finalized several years before. It just didn't seem important.
As he was sitting back, letting his nostalgia take over, he heard a knock on the door. "Coming!" he called, swinging his long legs down off the coffee table and breaking the distance between himself and the front door in a few long strides.
Viktor was standing on the other side of it looking a bit windblown with broom in hand.
"You didn't fly here," Bill declared, ushering the man in. He looked half-frozen.
"Only vrom London," Viktor answered. "I overslept and missed the train. It isn't so far to fly."
"Not so far in good weather," Bill chided. "It's bitter cold out there, and raining on and off all day. He sighed, "Oh, never mind. Here, give me your coat and sit in front of the fire. I'll make a fresh pot of tea to warm you up."
Viktor smiled softly. Bill was still perfect, though age and parenthood had made the redhead a bit more like his mother than he was likely to admit. Viktor didn't mind that about him. Everyone grew up eventually, and watching Bill with his children over the years had been a treat, even if he had been doing so from a distance. He resisted the urge to tease Bill about his "mothering" and sat quietly wrapped in his best blue sweater listening to Bill fumble around in the kitchen. The warmth of the fire felt incredible. He hadn't realized just how cold he was until the heat started to seep into his flesh. It was always like that – years of playing professional Quidditch had helped him brave the elements, but once he was out of them all bets were off and he shivered a bit as his body tried to eject the chill.
Braving the weather had been worth it, though. After all, it wasn't everyone who got to spend the New Year with the one they loved. Sure, it was a one-sided, unrequited love, but he'd accepted that aspect of it long ago and Bill was just oblivious enough to have never noticed.
"Here," Bill said, startling him out of his reverie as he leaned down with the cup. "And here, too," he added once Viktor took it, wrapping a throw from the couch around the other man's shoulders. He ran his hands up and down the Bulgarian's biceps to generate some heat, unaware of how his touch made – had always made – Viktor feel. "Honestly, why didn't you just owl ahead? I know the Floo Network is pretty strict this time of year, what with all the accidental splinching, people crashing right into one another when they're drunk and all, but I could have apparated out to pick you up. It's not as though I've been doing anything. The kids are in France for another two days, and then it's back to Hogwarts." There were times Bill seriously considered Professor Flitwick's offer to 'retire whenever you want the job' just so he could actually see his children, but he knew teaching wasn't something he had ever had an interest in, and that taking that kind of job would probably just make him (and his kids) miserable.
"I vas not thinking, I guess," Viktor answered. "It did not come to mind. Anyvay, there is no need for you to go out of your way on my account."
Bill laughed as he settled with his own cup of tea. "Well, I guess that's just the way you are," he teased. Watching Viktor shiver by the fire, curled as deeply into the blanket as he could get while his short, dark hair dried and he pursed his lips to ease some of ache from the cold wind cutting against them, Bill wondered at why, of all people, Viktor was the one he could really count on. Oh, he loved his family – his parents and siblings, but he had always done things in his own way, without needing their support, so they didn't know when they should offer it. Sometimes he thought they mistook him for an island – just a bit. That suited him fine. Really. It was just that he wondered at it. He wondered why it was that when it came down to who he could trust to fly a broom through a hurricane just to be sure he wasn't spending New Year's Eve alone, or who always instinctively knew to fire call, or who was most likely to invite him on a trip when Bill was feeling the most in need of some time away, or who would drop everything on a moment's notice for his benefit, it was always Viktor Krum. Always.
"Here," Bill said, leaning forward and lowering the tea away from Viktor's lips. "I know a charm for that," he explained briefly. "Resarcio viscus," Bill murmured and Viktor instantly felt his tender lips tingle for several moments before the other man lowered his wand. He dragged his tongue across the repaired skin and then smiled, glad that he could do so without feeling his flesh crack. "I vill haff to remember that one," he said.
Bill grinned. "Yeah, that's what Charlie said, too, but he never did. You Quidditch types are all the same," he joked. They both knew he didn't mean it, and it was nice to see that familiar twinkle of humor reinstate itself in Bill's gaze.
"I do not think you learned this spell for Charlie's sake," Viktor retorted.
"No, of course not. I learned it so I could kiss all the hot girls, of course," Bill laughed. "Kidding. I actually didn't learn that spell until I started working in Egypt. One of my co-workers taught it to me. The air in the tombs is really dry, you see, so no matter what protective potions you use, your mouth gets really dry. I taught it to Charlie..." Bill struggled to remember. "I suppose it must have been over Christmas one year, and a few times after that. He can't seem to remember it." Bill chuckled. "Head full of dragons, not much room for anything else, that's what I always tell him, but it's like that sometimes, you know? There's just a spell, or a potion, or someone's name, and no matter how many times you hear it, it just doesn't stick. He's a good wizard, Charlie, in spite of what I tell people." Bill grinned impishly. Of all of his brothers, he gave Charlie the most grief. He was the first brother Bill had and would probably always be his favorite because of that. Besides, if Charlie was going to give him hell about his love life, then Bill wasn't going to take it lying down.
Bill shook his head. "Sorry," he said. "You come over and I'm already rambling about my family. Shall I break out the booze? You can tell me all about next year's line-up for the Bulgarian team, and the holidays, and your little sister's fiance. Is he still the scum of the earth?"
Viktor smiled and shook his head. "She is too impulsive," he complained. "She is too young."
"Too young?" Bill laughed. "She must be nearly thirty."
"He does not have a steady source of income. He is an artist."
"You spent your youth as a Quidditch Player," Bill reminded, playing the devil's advocate.
"That is different," Viktor said. "I vas good at it. His art is all...mishmash. Colors, viggly lines, scribbles. He sometimes gets vork doing pamphlets, vlyers. She vill have to support him."
"Vik, if he's her fiance, she's probably been supporting him for a long while now. Take it from me. The heart doesn't always make the best choices, but even the bad ones are worth making."
"You did not think so the night you collapsed on my floor. Do you remember it?" Viktor asked.
Bill winced a bit and laughed at his own expense. "Only too well. Merlin, I was terrified. I mean, yeah, the woman I was so sure was the love of my life was officially out of it, but then there were these three little kids and I just had no idea how I was going to deal with that. I knew my family would help, of course – they're great like that, but I didn't think it would mean anything if I didn't fumble through it on my own. But look at them now – all in Hogwarts, smart kids – only into the usual amount of trouble. And the little brats worry about me."
"Victoire gave me a speech this year about spending New Year's alone," Bill chuckled. "Sweet girl, but nosy," he joked. "A lot like her mother, I guess. Always thinks she knows best, but she doesn't mean any harm. That's probably what I always liked best about Fleur. She always knew what she wanted and just went for it. You're a bit like that too."
"I am?" Viktor asked. He'd never thought so. If that were true, he'd have told Bill by now that he was madly in love with him. Surely.
"Yeah," Bill chuckled. "Viktor Krum, world famous Quidditch star. But your parents hated it, right? Your dad thought it would get you nowhere in life. Your mum was terrified you'd take one too many bludgers to the head and end up with brain damage."
"Or dead," Viktor laughed at the memory. "She alvays said, comatose, crippled, or dead. But I vas stubborn. I told her Mother, ve are in the middle of a var. Qvidditch is vhat you should be vorrying about the least.' And before that I vas too busy vorrying about Qvidditch to vorry about what my parents had to say about it. I just knew this is vhat I vas born to do, and I vas right. I coach now, not play, but Qvidditch is still vhat I vas born to do. My parents accepted it long ago. Besides, I vasn't particularly good at anything else."
"You were plenty good," Bill chided. "You weren't in the Triwizard Cup at Hogwarts for nothing. I was watching. Sure, you weren't always the most graceful," he teased, "but you knew what you were doing."
"I had a lot of help," Viktor answered stubbornly. "I vonder if I vould have done half so vell without Kakarov advising me."
"You'd have managed."
"And I vas cursed, in the maze. I nearly did horrible things."
"Which wasn't your fault."
"Vhich I should have been prepared for," Viktor countered.
"Which you were intentionally ill-prepared for. They wanted you to fall prey to that curse and you know it. You're too hard on yourself."
"Vot is the saying?" Viktor retorted. "Ah, I remember. This makes you the pot, yes? And I vould be the kettle."
Bill tilted his head, acknowledging that Viktor had won that round and changing the subject. "Warming up at all? I'll get us some wine. And cheese. I haven't prepared a meal or anything, but I have snacks – cheese, crackers, biscuits, fruit, that sort of thing."
"Vhy do you feel you must feed me every time I come over?" Viktor sighed with a bemused twinkle in his eyes. "Sit. Drink your tea. Ve do not need to fill every second of our time vith food and alcohol. I haff not lost any veight since accepting the coaching position."
Bill raked his fingers through his hair. "I just...well, it's good manners, I suppose." He shrugged it off and sat back down. "You haven't put any on either, though. Don't you think you're getting a little old to be so fit?" he teased. "I bet you have all the boys back home lining up for some attention."
Viktor blushed. "I..." Why did Bill have to go and say he was fit? He always did try to look his best around the redhead, though he didn't think it was even a shadow of how his beloved looked on his worst day, but he didn't expect Bill would ever notice. Just an offhand comment, he told himself, surely. Still, it embarrassed him.
"What?" Bill asked with a playful smile. "Garden gnome got your tongue?"
Viktor shook his head. "I haff never...I am not 'out' as they say."
Bill found this strange, because Viktor had told him once, long ago, that he wasn't ashamed of his sexual orientation. Bill had been suffering a hangover at the time, but he never forgot that and he couldn't help but admire Viktor for it. But a decade later he still wasn't out? "Why not?" he blurted thoughtlessly, then caught himself belatedly. "Sorry, that's none of my business."
"No, it is nothing dramatic. There vas just never any reason to come out."
"You mean never anyone worth coming out for," Bill observed understandingly. "Really though? You? There's never been anyone you wanted so badly that you didn't give a damn what anyone thought about it? No one worth chasing?"
Viktor looked away. There was something about a New Year's Eve spent sober that felt terribly confessional. It made you take stock of your life – the things you did right, and especially the ones you did wrong. It made you make stupid resolutions, promise yourself 'this year will be different' even though you know under the light of day those promises are no more substantial than smoke dissipating in the wind. "There has alvays been someone," Viktor said so quietly that Bill had to lean in a little closer to make out the words. "Because of that somevone, I haff no eyes for anyvone else. But vhat is between myself and this person is friendship only. I vill not be the one to ruin that. I haff already decided this many years ago. He is...somevone far too dear to me. I cannot risk losing vhat ve have just because I vish for something more. The time ve...the time I spend vith this person is too precious."
Bill's heart thumped heavily in his chest. Viktor really was the greatest guy in the world. More than his own happiness, he wanted the person he cared about to be content. He wanted to support that person, so he had carried on for so many years just standing in the shadows. He must have watched this guy have relationship after relationship, and been there for him when they went bad, and meanwhile he wanted nothing more out of life than to wake up next to him – bed head, morning breath and all. He was just that devoted. And handsome! At least Bill thought so. Fleur had been delicate and beautiful, but in a man, Bill had always preferred a little bulk – firm muscles, broad shoulders, a strong jaw, but not a man who looked like an immovable object. Viktor's eyes gave away his gentle nature. He was shy, soft-spoken, but warm. Bill always thought that he was going to make some man a wonderful lover when he found the right one, but he never realized he'd been pining after Mr. Right all along. He wasn't sure what to say. "Someone I know?" he asked. It wasn't important, but it was the only sentence he could think of to fill the awkward silence.
Viktor's pulse raced. Was this going to be the moment of truth? He knew he couldn't hide his feelings for Bill forever, but he didn't think now was the time to break the news. "Yes," he answered quietly. Bill had to lean in even closer to make out the words this time. Their faces were barely six inches apart now, but Bill didn't appear to notice.
"Well?" Bill asked.
"I...vould say intimately vell," Viktor answered, his gaze shying away from curious blue eyes. His pulse was racing. How could Bill not realize? He was so handsome. When he was this close it took every ounce of willpower Viktor had not to just bridge the gap with a kiss. The only thing that stopped him was the fear that Bill would not forgive him for it, and they would never be close again.
Bill pursed his lips in thought. Intimately well? Who could it possibly be? His eyes widened in surprise. "Charlie?" he asked, completely shocked. It had to be Charlie. Really, it wasn't as if Viktor was particularly close to anyone else in the family other than Hermione – and as she had breasts it pretty much ruled her out as a possibility for Viktor's all-consuming infatuation. Since he and Charlie had worked together in the war, Bill supposed it made sense, but he thought he should definitely have picked up on some stolen glances or something by now.
"No!" Viktor declared. "Charlie? Absolutely not," he complained. "Charlie is a good man, of course, but I prefer...ah...the person I like is a bit more..." Viktor struggled for a word that would explain the biggest difference between Bill and Charlie. "...reserved. The vone I love is a much more relaxed, subtle person. Not alvays grinning widely and cracking stupid jokes like Charlie." He liked Charlie though, considered him a good friend, but in that way that would never evolve into something more.
Relaxed and subtle? But someone he knew intimately well? Who could that possibly be. George, Ron? They were great guys, of course, but 'relaxed' and 'subtle' were not the adjectives he would use. "Not Percy," he stated as if the very thought might cause an aneurism.
Viktor sighed. This couldn't go on. He hated to ruin things, but if Bill was trying to figure it out, he would eventually get there on his own. It was better to confess than be discovered. Viktor bridged the gap between them with a sudden kiss. It wasn't romantic and it didn't last. He didn't give Bill time to respond. "It is you, you fool," he said quickly. "It has alvays been you." He looked away, waiting for the other man to freak a little. He knew with Bill even freaking out would be a subtle affair. He would get quiet, put a little more distance between them, and just sit very still until he'd planned out their entire conversation in his head. He wouldn't send Viktor home, but he wouldn't write as often, their conversations would fall to small talk, they wouldn't laugh together as much, and eventually communication would simply peter off because Bill didn't want this and Viktor didn't want to upset him further. Viktor had the next several years of awkward silences and notable absences mapped out in his mind when Bill sat back and said, "Wow."
He hadn't seen that coming. It hadn't been much of a kiss, but it had been the first one to grace Bill's lips in a long time. He and Viktor were such good friends that in spite of the fact he found the man endearing and handsome it had never dawned on him that they could be so much more, so to suddenly have it landed on him that Viktor fancied him, that he had always fancied him, was a lot to register. He wasn't upset. He just didn't know if he ought to be happy, either. He was shocked. "All the guys in the world, and you picked me?" He chuckled softly. "You really know how to flatter a guy."
"No, no it's...just give me a minute to let this sink in. I mean, Merlin, Viktor, I've known you forever. I would never have imagined."
Viktor shrugged, pulling the blanket tighter around his shoulders as if he could use it to become invisible. "You vere married."
"And then I wasn't," Bill answered.
"But then ve vere friends. You had enough vorries without me complicating things for you."
Bill smiled nostalgically. "I used to fire call you in the middle of the night, do you remember? Every stupid thing – teething, sharing toys, changing diapers. Every little thing was catastrophic. Talking to you once the kids were all in bed was the only thing that kept me sane. You told me you stayed up late, so after the first few times, I never felt guilty about it, but that was a lie, wasn't it? I kept waking you up over nonsense."
Viktor shrugged. "At first, but then I vas so used to you calling that I vould take a nap late in the afternoon and stay up to vait in case you called," he admitted. "I vanted to be there for you."
"I was a real pain in the arse," Bill noted. "Keeping you up at all hours, and completely oblivious to why you didn't mind."
Viktor shrugged. "You needed me. I vas happy to stay up for you. I vaited eagerly for your calls."
How could he have missed it? For so many years, Viktor had been going out of his way to be there for him. Now that he knew, all the pieces fit. And tonight too, how he'd flown through foul weather on a broomstick just to be here. In retrospect, it was all so clear that he couldn't help but laugh. "I should have met you first," he said. "There would have been so much less drama."
"No," Viktor said. "Things happen as they are meant to, I think. You have three beautiful children that mean the vorld to you. This is more than enough reason for all the things that have made you sad, yes?"
"Yes," Bill answered gently. His kids – for all the trouble they caused, their existence completed his own. But they weren't here now. He knew what they'd say about Viktor's confession. They all adored Viktor. 'Nearly as much as I do,' he thought. Wait. Was that true? Bill had never thought of it that way before. He was fond of Viktor. He didn't know how he'd have gotten through the past ten years without him. He thought he was handsome, and gentle, and often teased him about being a giant, Bulgarian teddy bear. He could remember Viktor's visits when the children were young, and how good he'd been with them – rocking Louis to sleep, bouncing little balls of light around the yard for Victoire to chase after, giggling, letting Dominique curl up in his lap when he read the children stories. The times when Viktor would visit were Bill's fondest memories, and he had several fond memories to choose from. But did he adore Viktor? Yes, he absolutely adored him, and couldn't believe it took a clumsy confession of love for him to realize it. 'I am a complete idiot.' What would the past several years have been like if he had realized Viktor's feelings? He could imagine tucking the children in together, and quiet nights curled up on the couch, Viktor's body heat, and waking up bleary eyed in the morning to find the other man in the bathroom brushing his teeth. Kisses? Of course there would have been plenty of those.
His lips curled upward a bit at his daydream while Viktor watched him, and finally, he spoke. "You should have said something sooner," Bill finally told him, turning back towards the other man and scooting closer. "Vik, you're completely right. I've been a fool." He felt his pulse race as he cupped the man's cheek. He'd always been good with this sort of thing, but his stomach tied itself up in knots of nervous apprehension as he leaned in a pressed their lips together. It was slower than Viktor's clumsy confession – a gentle, lingering kiss.
Viktor responded slowly, letting go of the throw about his shoulders to rest his broom-calloused hands on Bill's hips. One soft kiss, then another. Bill caressed Viktor's jawline with his thumb and they shared a third. The fourth saw their lips part shyly, and by the fifth Bill was holding the back of Viktor's neck, feeling electricity pass between them. Kissing was just bloody wonderful, wasn't it? He'd gone without it for so long that he'd forgotten how it could warm the pit of his stomach and make his spine tingle. Even by the standard of kisses though, he thought this one was phenomenal and purred into it when Viktor's strong arms wrapped around his back and pulled him in close.
When they broke to pant for breath, Bill rested his forehead against the other man's. Viktor's world was spinning. Surely, he must be dreaming. Bill kissing him, touching his face and making such charming noises into his mouth. Bill smiling at him with those enchanting blue eyes. He had fantasized about this most of his adult life. How could it actually be happening? "Bill..."
His name on Viktor's lips raced down Bill's spine. It was like a flood gate had been opened. Now that he realized what a fool he'd been, even the slightest sound or motion from the Bulgarian set his nerves aflame. He knew it shouldn't be like that – he should slowly grow used to the idea of fancying Viktor. There should be dates, and kisses, but exchanged sparingly at first. There were rules to this sort of thing, but at the moment they didn't matter. He pressed a finger to the other man's kiss swollen lips. "Talk later," he whispered before tilting his head in to continue where they left off before their lungs had run out of air. His arm was going dead from holding up his weight, so he broke the kiss, amused by the minor whine of protest as Viktor felt himself being pulled to his feet. "Chair," Bill explained briefly. "We'll be more comfortable."
Viktor didn't complain when Bill pushed him playfully into the armchair and settled himself across the man's lap with an amused smile, wrapped his arms around Viktor's neck, but he didn't really understand what the redhead thought this all was right now. "Bill..." he protested weakly, because he wanted to understand what the man was thinking, where they were going with this and what it was going to be in the morning.
Bill put his finger to Viktor's lips again. "A little birdie told me your contract with the Bulgarian National Team is up at the end of this season and a bunch of other teams are trying to recruit you as coach."
Viktor nodded slowly, not sure what Bill was getting at.
"The English team?" he asked. "Have they made you an offer?"
"It is...respectable," Viktor answered. Not the best one he'd recieved, but a good offer. But why was Bill...? Oh. Oh! Viktor blushed.
"Then again," Bill said. "I guess that's what's great about being a wizard. You can apparate and disapparate in an instant, no matter where you work."
"But owls only fly so fast," Viktor answered. "If there vas an emergency."
"Yeah," Bill replied.
"You are certain?"
"Of course not," Bill laughed, wiggling a bit and getting comfortable sprawled across the younger man's lap, a position he found intensely funny at the moment.. "I haven't been certain about anything since I became a single father. But I'm happiest when you're with me, and the kids love you, and you're a great kisser and an even better man, and when you add that all up it's got to mean something. Right at this moment, I think it means that I have a right fancy for you, Viktor Krum, though I was molasses in realizing it, and if that's a good enough answer for the moment, I'd rather like to get back to the snogging."
Viktor laughed. It was a warm, deep sound that Bill realized he had always been particularly fond of. "This...you and me, together...it vill be...complicated. There vill be reporters, and many other things."
"It will be an adventure," Bill retorted. "One we probably should have gotten started on a long while ago. Or am I not good enough to come out of the closet over?"
Viktor caressed his cheek. He didn't know how Bill could be so carefree about such a serious subject, but he had always admired Bill's adventurous spirit. "I vould come out for you dozens of times," he said. "Hundreds. Thousands of millions of times." He ran his fingers through Bill's luxurious red hair and found that the fantasy and the reality were quite well-matched. "It is not a secret anyvay, it is just not a videly known fact. At this point, I do not think many people vill care."
"You underestimate how famous you are," Bill chided. "But that's fine. Your modesty is cute."
"Bill!" Viktor complained.
"Ahem," Bill said. "Enough talk," he said. "I didn't drag you into the chair to talk. We can do that any old time. But the kids are only away until tomorrow."
"And then for several months vhen they are in school," Viktor reminded with a soft laugh.
"You're fussing over unrelated details," Bill answered though they both knew the details were very much related. "Shut up and kiss me."
Viktor didn't need to be asked again and within moments their tongues were battling for dominance again. Bill's arms were coiled around Viktor's broad shoulders. Viktor's large hand, which started on Bill's waist, soon settled far more comfortably on the man's arse. Lips grazed jaw, throat, and ear before coming back to mouth.
Bill knew he was probably rushing things, but as long as he'd kept Viktor waiting, he didn't think a little bit of rushing was uncalled for. Besides, the fact he'd found himself shocked only half an hour ago by Viktor's confession seemed impossible under the influence of the man's kisses and the feeling of broad hands caressing him in ways that could only be better if they were rated X. That one on his arse, in particular, was making Bill more than a little randy. He decided to ignore the fact that it probably had a little something to do with how long it had been since he had last had any adult company more substantial than his left hand. And he adored Viktor, he reminded himself again – a realization that made him feel giddy and rather lightheaded. 'I adore Viktor Krum,' he thought as he tried to devour the man's tongue. He wanted to scream it from every rooftop in Britain. Later though, after the snogging.
The two men were so occupied with one another that they didn't hear the clatter of feet crowding in through the front door. They didn't notice the light flip on, or the French woman asking "Why doez hee sit in ze dark? Is 'e even 'ome? This ex-'usband of yours, Fleur, is a strange man."
Fleur waved her hand flippantly, "Ze fire is lit. 'e is here. Probably azleep. 'E would often fall azleep in front of ze fire when we were married. I zink he set his hair on fire zis way a few times, if my memory zerves me correctly."
"Whoa!" Dominique declared loudly. "Totally not sleeping!"
Victoire grabbed Louis and covered his eyes. "Way to go Dad!" she cheered.
Bill startled and looked over his shoulder at five very wet, very unexpected visitors. He blinked.
"I wanna see too!" Louis complained, pulling his sister's hands down off of his eyes. Dominique's deep brown eyes were wide as saucers and her jaw hung open. Victoire was grinning from ear to ear. Fleur stood behind her, using her wand to dry the rainwater off of her jacket and tidy her hair, and the ebon-haired waif, Celeste, turned to Fleur and said, "I though you zaid he was 'oplessly single and zeriously depressed."
"Zis is how Victoire described him to me. It zeems my Victoire is not always correct."
"Happily in error just now, thanks Mama," Victoire answered and rushed forward to give her father and Victor a clumsy embrace before Bill managed to clamber out of the Bulgarian's lap.
"Vici!" Bill complained, though he did hug his daughter. "What are you all doing here?"
"I talked to mama," she said firmly. "And she agrees with me. Fair is fair. So here we are."
Fleur took a step forward. "Eef our children want to spend 'olidays with their fazer, I do not see any reason I cannot share. Zey are off being young most of ze year, yes? If zey do not want to come to France, Celeste and I will zimply have to come here. I did not zink you would like this much, but given ze circumstances," she looked pointedly at Viktor. "I zink it will be fine now. Our children our very stubborn, like their fazer."
"Oh, I think you've got a part in that stubborn bit too," Bill laughed weakly. It was the first time the house had been so full on a holiday in ages. It was also the first time he'd had a seemingly normal conversation with Fleur in a very, very long time. "Uh, anyway, make yourselves at home, I guess." He tossed Viktor a sheepish look, but the shell-shocked Bulgarian was already distracted by Louis, who had run right over to him and was already prattling on about flying lessons at school. "Dominique made the quidditch team this year," he said. "She's really good, just like Uncle Charlie, but probably not as good as you."
"Louiiiss," Dominique complained with a blush. "He doesn't want to hear about all that."
"Of course I vant to hear," Viktor said. "Vhat position do you play, Dominique?"
"Ah, I'm just a chaser. And I'm really not all that great."
Bill watched the children swarm and the women sit down. "Drinks, right, and food, uh, be right back." He retreated into the kitchen. He would have liked to drag Viktor with him, but it didn't seem like now was the time to pull him away. 'Well, the kids will be going back to Hogwarts in a few days,' Bill reminded himself. 'And then we'll have until spring to snog all we want.'
"I'll help!" Victoire declared and scurried after her father. She grinned at him once they were alone in the kitchen and rocked back on her heels with a playful smile that was very much like his own, though he always wondered where she got it from. "So, you and Uncle Viktor, huh?"
"Vici..." Bill sighed, exasperated.
"Don't give me that tone," she sulked. "If I'd have known you'd be spending New Year's trying to get into another guy's pants I wouldn't have worried so much and we'd still be in France!"
Bill flicked his wand to dice the cheese into neat little cubes. "I wasn't trying to get into his pants," Bill complained. Honestly.
"Right, my bad, just trying to swallow his tongue. So, how long have you two been together? It's not nice to keep such big secrets from your kids, you know."
"About thirty minutes, not that it's any of your business."
Victoire laughed. "Oh man...I really messed up this time, huh?"
"Little bit," Bill sighed. "Get the fruit out of the fridge," he said as he tapped a bottle of wine with his wand and cast a cooling spell on it. Then came the wine glasses, four. He didn't know if Viktor would want one, but he sure as hell needed a drink after the surprise interruption.
"Do you think he'll move in?"
"I think we're not nearly far enough along to even be considering that particular conversation."
"Okaaay," Victoire sighed, pouring the fruit out onto a plate and watching how skillfully her father quickly diced and arranged it and the cheese and crackers on the plate. "But don't wait too long this time. You're not getting any younger, you know."
"Take that out to the guests."
Victoire sighed. "Fine fine. You're going to need more glasses, by the way. And I don't think one bottle will be enough wine."
Bill counted again. Four adults, three kids. No, he was right. "What did you do?" he asked.
"Well, when I was sure we were going to be back tonight, I called Teddy, so he's coming too."
"Teddy is?" Bill asked, confused.
"Oh, yeah, Teddy and I are dating now," she said carelessly. "But he was supposed to spend the holidays at the Burrow with Gran and Gramps and Uncles George and Harry and Ron and the Aunts and all, so he told them we were all going to be over here, and now they're all coming. I'm sure it's okay though. Gran always brings food when she comes over."
Bill opened his mouth, then closed it again. Before he could say anything, Victoire pushed out of the room declaring, "I have snacks!" and he could hear the front door opening and a crowd swarming into Shell Cottage for the second time in the past quarter hour. He leaned back against the counter, trying to get his bearings. He wasn't even remotely prepared for his entire family, not when all he could think about was another man's tongue trying to get at his tonsils. He knew by the time he went back out there, half the world would already think he and Viktor were married. He raked his fingers through his hair and laughed.
'Two wizards, married? Well, maybe someday.'
The kitchen door closed and he looked up to find Viktor standing there looking rather accosted. "Your children have invited half of Britain to your house," he informed.
"Yeah, I caught that," Bill answered. "You okay?"
Viktor nodded and moved over to lean against the counter beside him. "You? This vas all rather sudden."
"I'm good," Bill answered. He bit his lip and reached over to lace their fingers together. "I'm really good," he said. "A bit frazzled but, you know, that's life as a Weasley."
"I vill haff to get used to it," Viktor answered shyly.
Bill leaned forward and gave Viktor a soft kiss. "Take your time," he said. "Someday it'll be second nature."
"Someday," Viktor echoed thoughtfully as he leaned into Bill's loose embrace. "Someday may be a long vhile."
"That's fine," Bill answered. "Someday always comes."