Some Die Young

A HariPo oneshot

by mew-tsubaki

Note: The Harry Potter characters belong to J.K. Rowling, not me. This pairing was discovered by my twin, Morghen, so please give her a little mention if you write them! Thanks! It is one of many of Mew and Mor's Weird Pairings, most of which you may find in the M&MWP forum. Check out and join the forum FUN! Read, review, and enjoy! Note: This comes after the events of my oneshot, "Bad Omens," though you don't have to read it to enjoy this. ALSO! Some "mistakes" are intentional with regards to the hints of Viktor's lingering accent.

- ^-^3

First and foremost, Hugo thought he'd misheard. It wasn't often that he misheard someone's words, but it could happen. He just wished it hadn't happened now.

"Come again?" he asked his sister, Rose, as she passed the treacle tart at the end of dinnertime.

"I said, James let it slip that Louis has a partner." Rose suppressed a grin as their parents were just across the table from them and Scorpius was speaking with them, so they were distracted enough that Rose could pass on the bit of gossip.

Hugo blinked his blue eyes. "Who is it?"

Rose raised her eyebrows. "Dunno. James chided himself for letting that much go. But I'm surprised you didn't know."

Hugo scowled as Rose reentered the main conversation at the dinner table. He knew exactly what his sister was thinking. Why didn't Hugo know first? Why hadn't Louis told him first? Why hadn't they spoken much since school?

And he knew exactly why he didn't like thinking about those kinds of questions. Or answering them.

"So we're thinking of going to the Cannons' next game—are you joining us, Scorpius?" Hermione asked.

Since Rose and Albus' first year and their befriending of Scorpius Malfoy, Hermione had liked him from the start, and she'd been even more overjoyed when they had become romantically involved in their fourth year. Ron hadn't liked Scorpius until the Malfoy had shown true promise in the Auror Office; it had made Ron's transition to George's shop easier after Ron had decided he'd done enough for the Aurors. Basically, now that Scorpius had the approval of both of them, it was almost as though he'd already married Rose. Which he hadn't…yet. Hugo thought he was an okay bloke, but he'd never spent much time with Scorpius in or out of school.

"That's next weekend, right? I have it off, so I'd love to come," the Malfoy heir answered.

Ron smirked. "Y'know, Scorpius…a real man wouldn't be ashamed to wear his Quidditch war paints…"

Hermione sighed. "Ron…"

Scorpius smirked back. "No, it's fine, Mrs. Weasley. I once painted my face silver and green to support my House."

"But you've never gone all orange before," Ron pointed out.

Rose stopped them before they truly got going, but Hugo could care less about attending Louis' team's next Quidditch match. He had been following the sports news a bit more recently—most of the family had. But he couldn't make Quidditch his focus now, and he never had been able to…not with Louis thoughts at the forefront of his mind. And that was just the thing:

Back in school, Hugo and Louis had been the odd sort of best mates. They'd been the fooling around kind. And Hugo…Hugo had loved him. Now he was wondering if he'd ever stopped.

- ^-^3

The next morning, Hugo ventured to Lily's apartment in the hopes that she'd be a better source than Rose. It also probably helped that Lily was James' sister; even Hugo knew he sometimes let more things slip to Rose than to any of their cousins.

"Oh, Hugo!" Lily was happy to see him, and she threw her arms around his neck when she answered the door. "I haven't seen you a lot lately."

He gave her an apologetic look. "Sorry. Potions stuff, you know."

"I thought Slughorn let his apprentice work from home?" she asked as they went into the kitchen.

"He does, but compiling an entirely new book of potion ingredients and recipes takes a lot of my free time away." He looked around. "Teddy already at work?"

Lily rolled her eyes. "Hours ago. And on a Sunday, no less." She sighed. "Ah, well, he always comes home—and that's what's important." She rested her teal eyes on Hugo. "What really brings you here, Hugo? I know you didn't come to make small talk, mate."

He sat down at the counter and cupped his cheek in one of his palms and hoped he wasn't pouting. "You…probably heard about Louis. Right?"

"Mm, him playing for the other team? Yep, James." She grabbed an iced bottle of Gorman's Best Gillywater from the fridge and took a swig. "I guess I'm not that surprised. Louis never did go out with any witches during school, not that I recall. Did you know?"

Hugo froze. "Uh, no…" After all, how could he say that he'd essentially been Louis' "girlfriend"? "But that doesn't automatically equate to liking wizards."

"True." She tied up her reddish-mahogany locks and looked around her apartment. "Think you could help me out today, Hugo?" she asked, changing topics.

"Ah, right… You're moving to Romania to work with Uncle Charlie."

She nodded. "The move will probably finally happen before Christmas… And Teddy's been checking the logs behind Dad's back—the Auror force in that area needs to be reinforced because of the dragon-smuggling going on…so Teddy will definitely get a spot there, with his brilliant track record." Her face fell a bit, and even though she was smiling, she did look a little sad. "All this change going on…me in Romania, the twins in the shop, you in your apprenticeship, Louis becoming a rising star…" Lily, too, leaned on the counter, and she mimicked Hugo's pose. "To think that the youngest of us kids are really adults now. It's kinda weird."

Hugo laughed, as she'd said it with a bright smile. "Weird doesn't even begin to describe it. Hey, who else from the family is going to the next Quidditch game?"

Lily frowned. "Not a whole lot. Probably Grandmam Weasley and Grampa Arthur… Definitely Aunt Fleur and Vic, and Uncle Bill should be able to make the time for it. But Dom's in France and the rest of the family… Mum will be there, and Al, but I can't go, and I've no idea what James and the rest are up to."

"Small crowd," Hugo noted.

"The best chance for you to say hi to Louis. And start talking again," she suggested. And Lily had that glint in her eyes that no one dared defy.

"All right, all right, Lily…yeesh."

- ^-^3

"Hey, Mum…what's got you so excited?" Hugo removed his reading glasses (he didn't really need them, but they sometimes helped his eyes to be less tired) and dragged a hand over his face. Even after leaving Lily and Teddy's place, Hugo just hadn't been able to keep his mind from overcomplicating things, so he'd spent the rest of the night working on his research. He'd fallen asleep atop his books, but—he felt his chin—at least he didn't have to worry about shaving. He and Al were the only ones in the family still with boyish looks and complexions; it took them forever to grow facial hair, something that'd been a point of teasing and of jealousy by the other cousins over the years.

Hermione had her hair clipped back, and she was tidying up the house. It was strange to see her at home instead of at work. "Hugo, go shower; look presentable."

"Wha—why?" He furrowed his brow in confusion. "What's going on?"

"We're going to have a guest."

He raised a light auburn eyebrow. "It's just one of the family, isn't it? Then I don't—"

"It's not someone in the family. It's one of my friends."

The wizard blinked. Well, that sure was different. After all, considering how big the family had become, it was somewhat of a miracle that there were still friends left to be had. But Hugo kindly did as he'd been told…since he was still living under his parents' roof.

Up in his room, he heard another voice, but he recognized it as his father's. "Okay, what on earth is going on to bring Dad home from the shop?" Hugo muttered under his breath. He glanced at himself in the mirror, cast a few Freshening Spells, put on a new shirt, and didn't bother combing the messy mop of waves he had for hair before he nearly stumbled downstairs. He had to know what was disrupting the normal atmosphere in the Granger-Weasley household—

"You've gotta be joking! Why didn't you tell me?" Ron howled as he followed Hermione in and out of the living room and kitchen.

Hermione, much to her son's surprise, rolled her eyes. "Because I knew you would act like this Ron. Good Merlin, I've known you since we were eleven, and you are still the same." She paused when he said nothing and looked a bit hurt. "Oh, that maybe was a bit harsh… But my reasoning remains the same. You hate it when I make plans."

"No, I prefer you making plans," Ron said as Hugo entered the room. "But not really these ones."

She pretended not to hear him as she peeked out the window. And her face lit up; Hugo had never seen it do that before. Without warning, Hermione hurried outside and leapt into the arms of a man Hugo thought was vaguely familiar.

"Great," Ron said from beside his son. "Krum."

Hugo gave his father a look, but then he thought he understood…hadn't they all met during school? And when had that been…?

"Viktor!" Hermione squealed as the man, who was rather bulky, managed to swing her around. But he placed her gently back on the ground. "Good to see you could make it."

"It was last minnut," he said, and though his accent wasn't too thick, it was still definitely there. "It hast been too longk, Herrminey."

"Still can't pronounce her name," Ron said as he joined them and shook Viktor's hand. Ron's aggravation had subsided as a smile graced his features. "Hey, mate. How's Bulgaria these days?"

"Let's go inside first," Hermione insisted as she snuggled into Ron's arm. "It's pretty chilly for mid-autumn." Finally she turned her head towards the door and saw Hugo. "Ah! That's right. Hugo, come here." She motioned to him until he finally trudged on over, and she drew him close as she introduced the stranger. "Hugo, this is Viktor Krum, our friend from the Triwizard Tournament and Durmstrang. Viktor, this is our son, Hugo."

Viktor appeared very warm and friendly—at least, that's the feeling Hugo got from his handshake. Holy Helga, the man's hand was huge! It made Hugo redden and wonder if he himself had girly hands… "Hugo, yes? A good, strongk name." Even his blinding grin was manly, and Hugo admired how strong Viktor's profile looked… It reminded Hugo of the times in school when Louis had said that Hugo looked like a pushover…

Hugo pushed those thoughts aside as he followed the adults into the house.

"So you're visiting, Viktor?" Ron asked now that he seemed happier to have his wife by his side instead of by Viktor's.

"Yes. Herrminey invited me to see the games of the Cannons." Viktor hung up his cloak and settled on the couch across from Ron and Hermione. "It hast been a while since I have seent good English Quidditch."

"Oh, another Quidditch nut," Hugo remarked to himself. But he immediately felt his mother's eagle eye on him.

"Viktor is not another Quidditch nut, Hugo—and that was rude. Viktor—"

"—played professional Quidditch for Bulgaria," Ron interrupted, and his tone was so reverent that Hugo had to wonder if his father was jealous of Viktor Krum or appraising the former celebrity. "He was a brilliant Seeker—he's only a few years older than us, but he played for Bulgaria in the '94 World Cup Final."

Even Hugo thought that was impressive in the least bit. "So you're here to see my cousin as Seeker," he said.

"And to visit. I missed the English air," Viktor replied. His words were a bit slow and evenly-paced, but he did seem intent on making sure he was understood.

Ron glanced at Hermione. "Um, he's staying how long…?"

Hermione beamed and ignored answering him directly. "You're welcome to stay with us for as long as you like, Viktor." Beside her, Ron bit back a sigh.

"I appreciate it, Herrminey. I will try not to impose on your house on you for too long," he said awkwardly. And he grinned again.

"Great…," Hugo said. As if having Scorpius over almost all the time "visiting" Rose wasn't bad enough. "Well, I'll be up in my room if anyone needs me," he said before slipping out of the room. But his announcement didn't faze anyone as he heard talk and laughter erupt downstairs. And though Hugo didn't voice it, he did feel a tad jealous; so Viktor really was a good friend of his parents. He wished he had someone like that, too.

- ^-^3

The rest of the week eventually dragged on, and Hugo did manage to get some work done despite their having a houseguest. Viktor wasn't a bad guy, but Hugo thought him a bit bland. Nearly every time Hugo walked into the room, Quidditch was the only thing coming out of the man's mouth. Well, maybe not all the time. Sometimes Viktor exchanged a look with Hermione and the two of them laughed at some inside joke, but after seeing it happen four or five times, Hugo had given up on his curiosity.

Chudley's next game was now upon them, and Hugo stood outside of the pitch with his hands shoved deeply into his jumper's pockets. Even tightening his scarf around him didn't help, and he had to try to control his shivering long enough to cast a Heating Charm. But his fingers felt awfully numb around his wand. He cursed himself for not having worn a jacket or robes.

"I can help you," a thrumming voice said as its owner approached Hugo.

The son turned and saw Viktor had joined him. Further behind Viktor was his mother with his father, grandparents, sister, Scorpius, Uncle Bill, and aunts Fleur and Ginny. As they drew closer, Hugo saw Al jogging to catch up. Finally Hugo allowed Viktor to reclaim his attention. He blinked when he realized he wasn't shivering anymore. "Thanks."

"It is no problemm," the Bulgarian stated. "You come to learn these thingks very well when it is cold year-round." He began walking, and Hugo kept pace with him, letting the others fall behind as they entered the Cannons' stands.

"Your English…it's not too bad," Hugo said after what felt like an odd lapse in conversation.

Viktor glanced at him with his very dark eyes. "It is thanks to your mother. She is a good friend. Her many letters helped with the English of mine. I have only seent her a little times after the war. It is good to see her again." He looked around the pitch, noting the colors of the Cannons and seeing the fans of the opposing team—today it was the Appleby Arrows—displaying their own pride on enemy territory. "Oh, I hope the clash is a good one!" And with that, any other pleasant conversation was lost as Viktor talked Hugo's ear off about Seeker statistics, half in English, half in Bulgarian. Though Ron had told his son that Viktor had seemed a bit thick back when they'd been younger, Hugo figured that the bloke had at least grown a few brain cells between then and now.

Hugo sat himself between Al and Viktor as the game began. Scorpius was on Al's other side since they were best mates, and Hugo was stuck with Viktor on his other side as he hadn't it in him to be impolite and send him away. Besides, the last thing Hugo needed was his mother chastising him.

The Arrows flew out onto the pitch first, and there were some cheers. But when the Cannons emerged, the pitch erupted in noise. The old fan base had found renewed strength, and new fans were caught up in the excitement. Hugo's breath hitched when he saw Louis fly out and do a few tricks before getting into position. Hugo laughed; Louis had always been a bit of a showoff.

As far as the youngest Weasley could follow, the Cannons started with an easy game, leading the Arrows in points. It got a bit iffy when Appleby used some tricky moves and the Cannon Chasers couldn't keep up, but the Cannon Beaters made up for the slack by protecting their Keeper who, in turn, was able to block all but two of the Arrows' shots.

"This is a good game!" Viktor bellowed into Hugo's ear while the crowd roared.

Hugo gave him a look as if he was crazy.

"Come on! It is a good game!" The dark visitor grabbed Hugo's wrist and raised it to cheer for Chudley. After a few more tugs…Hugo gave in to Viktor's enthusiasm, and he found himself laughing.

Beside him, Al turned and grabbed his attention, pointing to the cheering competition Scorpius was having with Ron. Both men had indeed painted their faces orange, but now their motions and antics were getting out of hand, and it was hilarious to see Hermione and Rose try to detain them. It only made Hugo laugh harder.

"See? It is fun!" Viktor shouted, forcing Hugo's eyes back to him.

"All right, I concede!" he finally admitted—and he felt a lot warmer than the Heating Charm was making him when he realized he'd accidentally laced his fingers with Viktor's. "Sorry!" he babbled, and he retracted his hand. Viktor didn't seem to notice, so Hugo breathed a sigh of relief (Merlin, that had been too weird for Hugo's tastes).

Centering on the match once more, Hugo felt a bit more involved now that Viktor's excitement had caught him up. The blue-eyed lad tried to follow Louis' every move on the pitch, but Louis had gotten a lot better since the last time Hugo had seen him fly a little after graduation. Louis was fast, and he was good. Hugo reckoned that Louis could probably give Uncle Harry a run for his money now.

"Louis will definitely catch that Snitch!" Hugo hollered into a stooping Viktor's ear.

That stupid grin had reappeared on Viktor's face. "I agree!"

Hugo locked eyes with the man for a split-second longer than he felt was right…but he turned away to face the game. And good thing, too—he watched as a Bludger hurtled toward Louis and socked him in the ribs. Hugo's stomach dropped.

"Louis!" Aunt Fleur screamed, and she began speaking rapidly in French as Uncle Bill gripped her shoulders. Suddenly it was tense in the family's area of the stands, and even Viktor lost his energy as he rather glared at the scene.

"That was not proper!" he growled.

Al looked around Hugo to address him. "Uh…Mr. Krum, Appleby's Beater had hit it away from himself—but the Bludger veered toward our cousin."

"Shut up, Al—look!" Hugo hissed, pointing.

Louis definitely looked to be in a lot of pain, but his knuckles were white as he gripped his broom. Hugo saw—they all saw—that Louis was utterly red in the face from the pain, but he refused to leave the field, and so the game commenced. The only difference now was that the enjoyment had been lost; the teams and the fans were seriously looking for a win now.

"C'mon, Lou…," Hugo mumbled to himself. He wanted Louis off the field, win or lose. He knew that Louis was stubborn enough to stay on the pitch, but he truly wished that this was one of those times when Louis thought more like the Hufflepuffs they'd both been.

The emcee drew the crowd's focus to the Keepers as the Chasers picked up the pace to fight for points. But Hugo didn't take his eyes off Louis as the blonde Seeker drifted high above the others. Louis slowly descended, and Hugo thought Louis would now sit out the rest of the match…but then he lost sight of his cousin as Louis disappeared into the structure beams.

"Where'd he go?" Al asked Hugo, but the redhead shrugged his shoulders.

Viktor nudged Hugo's arm and pointed to the opposite side of the field. "He will appear from there. I am sure of it."

Hugo threw him a doubtful look, but Viktor stared at that spot, so Hugo did, too. Lo and behold, Louis did emerge, and he shot up with the vigor that a wounded man ought not to have. Aunt Fleur whimpered, but she didn't scream again.

Then Viktor chuckled. "I have been away from here too longk…"

And Hugo knew why he said it. Louis slowly raised his arm—and showed off the Golden Snitch. The cheers were deafening, and even some of the Arrows' fans cheered in relief despite their own team's loss.

"He is a good player," Viktor called over to Fleur on the other side of Hermione. Fleur gave him a tiny nod of thanks as they began to file out with the rest of the match-goers.

Hugo spoke to Viktor over his shoulder. "How did you know?"

"I have seent it happen a little times before."

"No." Hugo turned and faced him. "How'd you know…he'd be okay?"

Viktor paused for thought, but his gentle smile was reassuring. "A Seeker stayingk on his broom like that… He knows he must win."

The shaky feeling that had developed in the pit of his stomach upon seeing Louis being hit faded as Hugo grew squirmy. He faced ahead and moved on. "C'mon, let's catch up to the others." Saying that was so stupid, as Viktor began talking of nothing but Quidditch again.

They exited the stands and headed for the exit just as Hugo caught a glimpse of Louis with one of James' friends and Louis' teammate, Curtis. Louis was wincing, but he was already patched up. Hugo was concentrating so hard on watching Louis' achy movements that he didn't realize Curtis was handing him off to someone else.

The blonde man nodded his thanks to Curtis, and he offered his arm to Louis as they moved towards the exit, too. And Hugo couldn't help but stare.

Was that Scorpius' dad with Louis? But what would Draco Malfoy want with…Louis…

"Hugo," Louis spluttered as he and Draco got closer to Hugo and Viktor. "Uh—h-hey."

"Hey," Hugo numbly echoed. He ignored the curious stare he could feel he was getting from Viktor (so much for that brain being nearly empty).

"Um…" But Louis was at a loss for words, and Draco looked like a hippogriff in the wand light, not ready at all to explain things.

"Your mentor, I see," Hugo hastily voiced, recalling in bits and pieces that recent Prophet article about Louis. It had cited Draco as an "inspiration."

"Uh, yeah, right…" But Louis' voice wavered, and he was definitely trying not to gape.

Viktor coughed, and Hugo grew annoyed at his presence. Had Viktor not been there, Hugo would have been able to burst as he really wanted to—but there was no way he could ask Louis everything he wanted in this one, tiny, public moment. Hugo mustered a smile. "Good job out there, mate." He gave him a tiny wave though it killed him inside—and then he turned and hurried away.

"Hugh…!" But Louis' voice was so weak…not strong at all as it once had been.

Far away from the pitch, Hugo felt his annoyance rise to anger. And he wheeled on Viktor, who had been trotting along behind him. "I'm going home alone!" And he Disapparated before the taller man had a chance to form a reaction.

But Hugo didn't care. And he certainly didn't care that he knew he'd hear about his rudeness from his mother at some point. Because if Louis really was with Draco, then what did anything matter?

- ^-^3

Hugo figured that it was only a matter of time before his mother stormed up to his room. A few days passed during which Hugo had mainly stuck to his bedroom. So though Hermione had said nothing yet, he still imagined she would have a word or two once he interacted more with the rest of them.

Yet after more than a week had passed, Hugo had to wonder why no one had asked him anything. He cracked open his door and, when he saw that the coast was clear, he left for downstairs to grab some pumpkin-almond biscuits. And he didn't see anyone.

"Hello," Viktor said as Hugo closed the fridge door.

The Weasley son blushed red as his sister's hair as he instantly recalled his behavior. He removed the biscuit from his mouth. "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to act that way, I should've been—" His words rushed from his mouth as his blood rushed through his veins.

Viktor gave him a sympathetic look. "It is, ah…the okay with me," he stumbled.

The awkwardness actually made it a little more bearable for Hugo to speak with him. "I really am sorry…about the game."

"Why?"

"Well, the end…"

Viktor furrowed his brow. "I thought that I had not gotten somethingk that only the English do…I was wrongk?"

Hugo released an odd chuckle. "Eh-heh, not quite…" He sat at the kitchen counter. "I, uh, used to be good friends with my cousin… I'm just not anymore. And I've not spoken to him for a long time."

Viktor nodded and sat beside him. "Keepingk friends can be of a hard way…" He paused, searching for the right words. "But it is like Quidditch—we try at it, always."

Truthfully, the older wizard's words had started off beautifully…but as soon as he'd related it to Quidditch, Hugo knew that the situation was lost on him. "Er, right… Well, thank you for not telling my mother about my impoliteness, Viktor."

The dark visitor nodded and slapped on that ridiculous grin of his as Hugo disappeared back upstairs. Really, Hugo would never get that guy.

- ^-^3

"I've got a meeting with Slughorn about my work," Hugo informed Hermione two weeks later.

Another Cannons match had passed, but Hugo had stayed home, choosing to work instead. Hermione and Ron had encouraged him to go, but they'd given up on him going long before Viktor had, and only when Hugo said that maybe he'd attend the next one had Viktor left with Hugo's parents.

"That's fine. Viktor's resting in the guestroom with a headache, so lock up before you leave. I've already left him a note that I'll be at the Ministry and your father's at work." She stuffed some papers into her bag before leaving the kitchen. "I don't have supper planned yet, so if you can think of something, let me know." She kissed her son's cheek and ruffled his hair—a habit that embarrassed him, but he still let her get away with it since she was his mum—and then she was on her way.

Hugo paused and listened; true enough, a soft snore could be heard upstairs in the quiet house. He smiled a bit to himself before ducking out the door and leaving the protective bounds of their home to Apparate to his destination.

"You have quite a mind," Slughorn told him as he flipped through Hugo's work on a break between classes.

"I like to think about things in bits and pieces. Which is why this suits me better than making potions does," Hugo said.

Slughorn raised his eyebrows. "But theory does not always equate to practice, Hugo."

"Yes…but other people can act. I'm one of the few who can think up all the possibilities beforehand. My ideas will make a wave in the practices we know."

The Potions professor looked at him appraisingly. "You know, Hugo…you could still be a great Potioneer."

Hugo, who sat across from the teacher as though he were still in the man's N.E.W.T.-level class, frowned. He'd been told so many times that he could've gone on to do greater things. But…Hugo didn't have that confidence in himself. He knew of certain abilities he did have, and he rather liked staying within his protective bubble that he knew he could control. Like potion-combination theorizing—Hugo was good at that. Hands-on potion creation? It scared him. At least through careful research he didn't have to get hurt in any way whatsoever.

"Oh, fine, you can stick to your fondness for Herbology and potion texts…" Slughorn chuckled. "It's still nice to have someone as interested in the subject as I am…"

The Hufflepuff left his old professor to his musings so that he could wander the halls of Hogwarts for just a few minutes before returning home. It was nice to enjoy a bit of daydreaming…but daydreaming too much soured his mood, because he remembered how their cousins and siblings had thought Louis bullied Hugo. He remembered being late to classes on a few occasions because Louis had been an insatiable snogging beast (and off in a section of his mind, Hugo wondered if Louis was that way with Draco…). He remembered all the times he'd kept himself in check, stopping it at kissing—and the first time he'd broken that promise to himself and given everything to Louis who'd asked for it all.

Merlin, it was not a good idea to dwell on these thoughts.

Hugo hurried home then, and his gasping breath didn't slow until he saw the yard of his house, and relief washed over him. If there had been one constant in his life, it had been home—it was always there and it had never changed and never would.

But would he change, seeing that Louis was waiting on the front stoop?

Hugo's voice caught in his throat, and he paled. He felt ten times worse—at least—when Louis turned and rested those light brown eyes on him. "L-Louis…"

"Hugh." Louis bit his bottom lip. "I…I was stunned to see you at that game."

The redhead didn't say anything and dropped his eyes to the ground.

"Why haven't…why haven't we talked since Hogwarts?"

Hugo pushed his way past Louis and unlocked the door, storming into the house. "I don't know." His words were short, clipped.

"Hugo, we used to be the best of mates…"

Hell. Those words made Hugo deflate—Louis was the only one with that power over him. He glanced at his cousin. "I know."

Louis fidgeted at the doorway. "I still love you, Hugh…"

Hugo picked his head up. "What?"

"…but I'm in love with Draco, mate. I love you…like family."

The words, though not intentionally harmful, cut Hugo like a Severing Charm, and he grimaced. "Once upon a time, it wasn't that kind of love." He disappeared into the living room, but Louis followed.

"Hey, I'm sorry, but I just—I kind of sobered up that it was wrong. We're blood, Hugo. It could never be—"

Hugo wanted to scream. This was almost the same exact speech that Louis had given him more than three years ago. That they couldn't stay together. That Louis didn't love him like that anymore. That Louis was gay, yes, but that Hugo wasn't and was only misguided in his affection for Louis, the only person and wizard to whom he'd ever been very close. That even if they'd both still felt so strongly, the family would never allow it, even if there wouldn't have been as many risks as if they had been of opposing genders. It was so frustrating and infuriating that Louis thought he could make things better by telling Hugo the same things all this time later.

"—and I can't help it, but I love Draco and—"

"Just stop it!" Hugo hissed. He frowned again when he realized he was panting. Normally, he was a good, pleasant guy. But when Louis aggravated him like this…Hugo just lost it all. It was probably why he'd done anything and everything for Louis when they'd been younger. Sure, Louis had been a prick, but he'd been Hugo's prick. Now…now Louis had turned soft—and Hugo blamed Draco Malfoy for that.

Louis sighed. "Hugh…you were my closest mate. And while I think we complicated things…" He gave Hugo a sincere look. "I genuinely miss your friendship, Hugo. And then to see you after all this time and barely say anything to you—it does hurt me, mate."

Hugo wished he could cry in that moment—maybe Louis would at least comfort him, like those times when they'd sat in their dormitory together and Hugo had been upset at being compared yet again to his sister by his parents. But he just…couldn't. He was tired of it all. And…maybe that was why he hadn't seen or spoken to Louis after all that had happened.

He was just too tired to deal with it all.

The blue-eyed lad pinched the bridge of his nose in exhaustion. "Lou…just go. Please."

Louis sighed, sounding truly disappointed. But he did leave. When the latch clicked, Hugo stared at the door—

And noticed how eerily quiet the house was.

He panicked, hoping that Viktor had not heard any of what had just transpired—not even Rose or Dominique or Victoire, their sisters, knew about Hugo and Louis—but Hugo stood deathly still and listened.

The silence was disrupted by the rip of that familiar, soft snore.

Hugo released the breath he'd been holding and ran a hand through his hair. He'd had enough of dealing with other people for the day.

- ^-^3

As the second month of Viktor Krum's stay ensued, Viktor took up a spot of work for the Prophet working as a guest columnist for the sports section. "It takes a lot to feed me," he'd joked around dinner with Hugo, Rose, and their parents.

Hugo was fine with that, as it got Viktor out of the house for more than just Quidditch matches. It made the house a little quieter during the days sometimes, but Hugo therefore had fallen into a steadier work rhythm, and it helped to clear thoughts of Louis, him and Louis, and Louis and Draco from his mind… And anything that did that was good in Hugo's book.

A while after that visit from Louis, Rose had Scorpius over, and Hugo had an off workday. Sometimes he hated it when Scorpius' days off from the Auror Office and Rose's days off from assisting Hermione in the office coincided. But it couldn't be helped; Hugo had a feeling that Scorpius would pop the question one of these days, and with Christmas in about another month, Hugo had an even stronger feeling that Scorpius would do it as an early present.

"You overly-mushy couples are a bit much," Hugo teased—half serious—as he passed through the kitchen and returned to his room. At least upstairs, he didn't have to listen to the echo of their sweet nothings whispered to each other.

"Oh, forget you!" Rose called after him.

Hugo rolled his eyes and dropped back into his chair and stared at the stack of parchment covering his desk. Holy Helga…had he really done all that recently…? Perhaps he ought to take a break.

Someone knocked on the doorframe, and the door cracked open a little wider to reveal Viktor. "Ah…hello, Hugo."

Hugo internally groaned. Ask, and ye shall receive Quidditch chatter for a "break." "Hi, Viktor. Do you need something?"

Viktor shook his head. "No, I… It is not very good to go downstairs in this second. It is odd."

The Weasley laughed. "Oh, so my sister and Scorpius are already snogging, then?"

Viktor furrowed his brow. "Herrminey once tried to discuss the snoggingk to me… But…"

Hugo smiled; the sight of a discombobulated Viktor was pretty amusing. "Sorry—it's just kissing."

The light clicked on. "Oh. I see." Viktor paused. "What is your work?"

The redhead glanced at his things. "This? This is all research for potion-related things. Recipes and the like. Boring stuff," he added when he felt bad at Viktor looking lost once again. "Viktor, would you like to come in?"

Hugo cleared off his desk and gave Viktor his seat as he moved about, trying to clean up what else he could of his room.

"Sorry it's a bit of a mess," Hugo said.

"It is fine." Viktor admired the Quidditch pennants decorating Hugo's walls—Chudley, Puddlemere, Ballycastle, Holyhead. "You have a nice space."

"Er, thanks…" Hugo looked at Viktor and suddenly felt very self-conscious. Merlin, to a guy like Viktor, Hugo's room must have felt tiny and quaint. Hugo hated feeling like such a little kid around this guy that always tried to talk to him as though they were on the same level. "So what brings you down this part of the hall?"

"It was a tiny quiet in my room…," Viktor said, and his expression was slightly sad. Hugo felt for him; it wasn't as though Hermione or Ron could be around all the time to entertain him, and Hugo had not made a huge effort to do so in their absence.

Hugo sighed and took a chance. "So…looking forward to the next Cannons' match?"

Viktor's face lit up.

Though Hugo lost an entire afternoon and evening to Quidditch talk, Hugo knew he couldn't say he hated it. Quidditch had never really been his thing, but Viktor spoke about it with such passion that Hugo couldn't help but get swept up in his zeal. By the time Hermione got home to ask what everyone wanted to eat, Hugo hadn't realized the day had gone. And it was…a nice feeling. Maybe he'd been too Hermione-ish lately (and boy would his father laugh if he heard that thought).

- ^-^3

It had been one long conversation, but that one instance had opened Viktor up to Hugo…and Hugo felt he'd finally been himself with someone for once. The last time he'd felt that way had been, yes, when he'd still been mates with Louis. But the atmosphere in the Granger-Weasley household had lightened now that Viktor knew he could mingle with Hugo when they were both home and they were both up to it.

A few times, Hugo even went and knocked on the door to Viktor's room. Rather, Hugo actually had taken to fetching Viktor when dinner was ready. Hermione liked that Hugo was getting along with her friend, and Hugo's general increase in amiability had helped to lighten the atmosphere for the entire house.

"Uh, Viktor, dinner," the researcher announced one evening. When there was no response, Hugo cracked open the door. The light was low, but there was an enormous figure sitting in the chair at the desk. Hugo entered the room and walked to Viktor, who turned out to have nodded off. It was…well, Hugo didn't know what to think of it, but there was something…endearing? maybe…about how gentle this wizard could look sometimes. When asleep or grinning, Viktor looked so harmless as opposed to the times when he stood around and said nothing; at those times, he could look much too intimidating.

Hugo gently tapped him on the shoulder and cleared his throat. "Viktor—"

But he gasped when Viktor seized his hand and didn't let go. It scared him. But Viktor looked at him, his expression sorry once he recognized Hugo. "Ah, I am very sorry, Hugo."

Hugo breathed easy to slow his heart rate. But he didn't feel at ease until Viktor released his fingers from his bone-crushing grip. "Um, it's—it's okay…"

"Did you need somethingk?" Viktor furrowed his brow.

"Just—Mum's done cooking."

"Oh, I see." Viktor stood and gave Hugo a very apologetic expression. "I am really very sorry, Hugo."

"I said it's fine," the younger wizard said as he headed to the door.

Viktor touched his shoulder. "No, it is not. But know—you cannot sneak on me. Quidditch and the war…they made me a jumpy person. So please do not hate me." And he did not look ready to head downstairs until Hugo forgave him.

Hugo took a deep breath and exhaled. "I don't hate you, Viktor," he said with a pat on the big oaf's arm. "But I might if you make me go hungry any longer."

Viktor chuckled somewhat at that and gave Hugo a one-armed hug. "I thank you." They went downstairs after, and Hugo…well, it felt a bit funny to sit next to Viktor. And that funny feeling was not aided at all when Ron cracked a joke about Viktor almost being Hugo's godfather instead of Neville.

So when the next Cannons match rolled around, Hugo remembered his promise to Viktor to attend, and…well, Hugo brushed the "funniness" off, chocking it up to a bit of hunger-induced weirdness.

There weren't as many people at this match since Christmas was in two weeks and so many travelled during the holiday season. But that meant it was easier to find good seats, and Hugo could put a little more room between Viktor and himself if he wanted. He didn't—but he had the option.

Fleur, Rose, and Hermione came along as things were slightly busier at the Auror Office, so Al and Scorpius were stuck at work. The five of them sat towards the front of the stands, and Hugo meant to sit beside his sister, but a couple dashed ahead of him and situated themselves between Rose and Hugo, so he gave up on the idea of sticking together. He figured there'd be plenty of other Quidditch games to attend, considering Louis' job.

The Falmouth Falcons looked pretty grave as they took to the pitch before the Cannons, and Hugo didn't like the feeling he got from them. "They seem like bullies," he remarked to Viktor.

Viktor nodded, his countenance grim. "Their words—their, ah—"

"Motto?" Hugo offered, looking at him.

"Yes. It is about winningk and violence. Not nice."

Hugo faced the pitch. "No, not nice at all." Especially considering that Louis seemed to have finally fully healed from the match two games ago.

The Falcons in all their gray glory kept the Cannons on their toes, and thirty minutes quickly lapsed without any goals. The Cannons had come close once, but the shot had been blocked. And true to what Viktor had said, Falmouth looked ready to seize any chance to injure Chudley. Two hours in with no score, one of the Cannon Chasers had been Cobbed into one of the goalposts by one of the Falcon Chasers, and he had to be removed from the pitch. And since Quidditch didn't allow for replacement players, Chudley was now at a disadvantage with only two Chasers left. It didn't take an imbecile to predict that Falmouth would go on to nab the first ten points after that, since the Cannons' penalty shot had been blocked by the Falcons' Keeper.

After that, things were annoyingly tedious. Falmouth kept racking up the points and looking for chances for cheap shots at Chudley. Thankfully, each Cannon Chaser was now playing with the strength of one and a half men, and they struggled to keep the score within four goals of their opponents.

"This could go a longk time," Viktor stated to Hugo as they sat on the edge of their seats, their eyes trained on the goalposts.

With another hour under their belts, the points added up quickly and Chudley managed to seize a minor lead. Falmouth attempted and did not succeed with a Parkin's Pincer, much to the relief of Chudley fans. Both Seekers were agitated, and Hugo doubted that Louis could win this one.

Viktor agreed with a nod. "Even if he can get the Snitch, he will have to get it soon. Falmouth is in the spot to win."

Hugo frowned, for he knew Viktor's words were spot-on. So instead they said nothing more and merely watched.

The Cannons' fans began to make cheering noises as the Keeper blocked some otherwise spectacular shots, and Hugo glimpsed even his sister shrieking with delight in anticipation. The effect was infectious, and Hugo himself stood and got to cheering. Viktor stood with him, but Hugo reached for his hand and raised his arm, and they cheered together.

"BOOM, CANNONS, BOOM!" became the resonating chant in the stands.

The Cannons and Falcons took notice, and the Cannons appeared to have taken some energy from it. They widened the score gap—with this score and that score and that block and this block and this Bludger and that Bludger—and the Falcons' Seeker began to search for the Snitch in earnest. He looked more like a rabid dog than a bird of prey on his broom as he zipped around the stadium.

"Louis is going the wrong way!" Hugo shouted in a panic to Viktor as the Seeker did indeed fly in the opposite direction as the Falcons' Seeker.

Viktor squeezed Hugo's fingers. "He will be fine!"

Louis' sleeves billowed as he veered suddenly to face the same direction of the Falcons' Seeker. And that was the game.

"Plumpton Pass—good choice!" Viktor said with a hearty laugh. And as he said it, the emcee announced that the Snitch had indeed been caught up in Louis "Flew-y" Weasley's sleeve.

Hugo was breathless from the rush of excitement. Yes, it had been a long game, but…bloody hell, it had been a while since Hugo had enjoyed himself so much. And perhaps a part of it had been the good company…but Hugo put that thought aside. Louis had played an excellent game, so…so maybe it really was time to stop focusing on the past and to reclaim their old friendship.

"Hugo, we're going to go congratulate Louis and then head home," Rose told him around the rude couple.

"Yeah, okay, we'll be right there." As he said it, Hugo was aware of how warm his palm was, and he couldn't bear to look at Viktor's face, so he stared at his shoulder instead. "Uh—we—we should be going…"

"Yes, right." Hugo chanced a glimpse as that tanned face with its carefully-trimmed beard—and that goofy grin of his was back. Hugo tugged Viktor along out of the stadium, but he did take his hand back once they were on solid ground. Holy Helga…was it possible that Viktor's touch had singed him? The blue-eyed lad had to pinch himself before Disapparating. It wouldn't help to Splinch himself on today of all days.

Back at home, dinner was a blur to Hugo, who faded in and out of conversation. He convinced himself that he was imagining things when his pulse quickened at every mention of Viktor's name (never Louis'), and he was grateful that everyone was too full for dessert. The best thing happened when Rose asked to speak to their parents after dinner, so Hugo could disappear upstairs.

"Ah, I think I will come alongk, too," the Bulgarian announced, and he followed Hugo up the stairs.

As Viktor's door appeared first, Hugo ducked his head and bid him goodnight. Viktor patted him on the back. "A good night to you, also," he said, and his palm felt so warm for one second too long on Hugo's back and it drove Hugo nuts and he couldn't see straight—

And Viktor just stood there with a soft, handsome smile playing on his lips. Which meant that Hugo had to be the one to leave, otherwise he would've been rooted to the spot for the entire night.

In the safety and quiet of his room, Hugo tried to sleep. He listened for that familiar, soft snore…but he didn't hear it. Or maybe he'd fallen asleep first—somehow.

- ^-^3

"Get a hold of yourself, Hugh," the Weasley son personally rebuked as he stared at the stack of papers he'd gathered on his desk.

The only problem was that this stack had had little added to it that was new. With only a few days until Christmas, Hugo's work ethic had slowed to the point of getting practically nothing done. Hugo's mind had driven him nuts since the last Quidditch game, racing with thoughts of the handsome visitor up the hall. Maybe Louis had been wrong about Hugo; Hugo hadn't had the chance to love anyone besides Louis…but perhaps he really did prefer wizards to witches.

An argument downstairs luckily pulled him from his thoughts.

Hugo stuck his head outside of his room. Down the hall, the door to the guestroom was closed. Hugo went to the top of the staircase, and he realized the bickering voices belonged to Scorpius and Rose.

"…enough of this. I'm going out."

"Why?"

"I'd like to clear my head, Rose!"

Hugo frowned and trod carefully downstairs. Rose saw him and grunted before going into their mother's library. She promptly shut the door behind her.

Outside, Scorpius was sitting on the front stoop, an unlit cigarette in his mouth.

"I didn't know you smoked."

Scorpius glanced up at him and sighed as Hugo sat beside him. "Not really. I only did a few times back in school—and I don't know who was worse to me about it, Rosie or Al." He sighed again and decided to light it. "But I couldn't help it. I get the urge whenever I have to deal with my father."

Hugo furrowed his brow. "Your father? I thought you didn't get along with him."

"I don't." Scorpius snorted. "And Asha Nott and Macareus Goyle have their own familial issues, hence my escape," he informed the Weasley, gesturing to the cigarette.

"Ah. The aptly named 'Ash' Nott."

"Yah. I figured everyone had heard of her." Scorpius took a long drag and then another before knocking the ashes onto the ground and dropping the cigarette, smashing it with his foot and Vanishing the evidence.

"So…," Hugo began.

Scorpius pulled a face. "Rose told me. I mean, I couldn't not hear about Louis, what with how involved I am with you lot of cousins."

"Yeah?"

"But she told me it was my dad. And I don't care about that, but—" Scorpius rubbed his temples. "I don't want anything to do with him. But I feel as though he'll always be messing up my life some way."

Either Rose had known all along and hadn't told her brother, or she'd only recently pieced the Louis–Draco situation together. Hugo looked at the Malfoy heir. "How's he messing it up now?"

Scorpius scowled. "My mother meant nothing to him, Hugo. That I could handle because I nearly grew up without anything but his financial support—which I never did like. But now…I wanted to lose myself in the Weasley clan." Scorpius cupped his chin in his palm as he leaned on his knees. "Now I can't even do that if he's really in love with your cousin." He grimaced. "The only things that disgust me are his ruining my plans and…ugh, I mean, Louis is two years younger than me…" Scorpius shook his head.

The two wizards were quiet for a while, and Hugo listened to the evenness of their breaths. He looked at how their feet were firmly planted on the walk, trainers and dress shoes alike. Hugo lifted his head, his eyes tracing the edge of the walk to where it faded into grass, and on the other side of the grass was the driveway with his dad's car (because Hermione liked hers and used it whenever she could) parked close to the house. As his eyes skimmed over the car's form, he ended up staring at the house. And he looked at the windows, thinking of the rooms they guarded and who was in which room.

Maybe home was not as stable a thing as Hugo had originally presumed.

Hugo brought his attention back to Scorpius, and he studied the blonde's profile before opening his mouth. "Is that going to scare you away from the family?"

Scorpius fixed his gray eyes on him. "No…I don't really think anything could. I love you all too much." He darkly chuckled. "I love Rose so much it scares me."

"You're going to ask her to marry you." There was no reason for asking it; they both knew it would happen.

"Of course. But…" Scorpius rested an arm on Hugo's shoulder, as if they'd been brothers from the start. "Is that all right with you? If I ask Rose to marry me?"

Hugo smirked. "I'm her brother, not her father."

"Yes, but I'm serious. And I think we both know that even your dad will say yes." Scorpius nudged him playfully. "So…"

"Obviously you can marry my sister—I don't think anyone else could stand her."

Scorpius laughed along with Hugo. "Well, it's nice to know that one thing will definitely stay nice in my life…"

Hugo stood. "Do you want me to go get her?"

The Malfoy shook his head. "No. I'm not proposing right now—I do still have to ask your parents. But I plan on it after Christmas. Besides…" Scorpius took a deep breath. "Let Rosie stew a bit in your mum's library. She can't think she can win every argument with me, otherwise I'm screwed from the start."

The blue-eyed lad nodded. "Yeah? Try being related to her… What started the argument?"

"We ended up on the topic of Louis and my father and Rose told me to deal with it, that there was nothing to do."

"But there isn't."

"Yeah, well…I didn't want her being the one to tell me that. I wished she were on my side." He shut up then, and Hugo saw it as a good time to return to the house.

Inside, Rose was still in the library, but Viktor was in the kitchen eating a pastry Hermione had made a few nights ago. "Everthingk is all okay?" he asked Hugo.

Hugo nodded. "Yeah. They'll be okay—whoa!" He was surprised when Viktor tugged on his arm, and—was it his imagination or was Viktor sniffing him?

Viktor frowned. "You smell burnt."

"Oh, that… No, I'm fine. It was—er, a passerby in front of the yard was smoking…" How could he say it had been Scorpius? He didn't know if Ron and Hermione knew, and he figured Scorpius didn't do it enough to warrant concern, so he thought it best to keep it a secret between two brothers-in-law—and he kind of liked the idea of being close to Scorpius in that way. But Hugo waved off Viktor's curiosity. "Seriously, it was nothing."

"I see." Viktor released him. "It is bad to smoke."

Hugo wanted to laugh. Was this Viktor trying to be protective? "Hey, cheer up, mate. Christmas is just around the corner."

"Christmas…yes." Yet when he said that, he didn't sound cheerful at all.

Hugo thought little of it, so he went to work. He knew that once he was done compiling his notes, he wouldn't be forced to make any of the potions himself, but Slughorn would want him by his side as the Potions Master tested each and every single one. So it was probably a good idea to wrap up his research and writing in a few months, that way he and Slughorn would have more than just summer to edit Hugo's work.

When the day has passed, Hugo yawned and went back downstairs to see who was home. It turned out that Rose had gone out, and probably taken Scorpius with her. But their dad was home, so Hugo thought their mum must have been, too.

"Hey, Dad—" Hugo stopped when he saw in the hallway mirror that Ron and Viktor were talking quietly in the living room. Hugo hated that he'd hid. He had no reason to hide! So why had he?

"…Christmas."

Viktor coughed. "I am very sorry, Ron. I am not a fan of the day, so I will not be here if that is what you want."

Hugo frowned. Was his dad asking Viktor to join them or asking Viktor finally to leave? Hugo honestly hoped it was not the latter.

"…thinkingk of lookingk for a place for me, though. Maybe I step aside Christmas to do this?"

"Yeah, you could, but I don't think anyone would really be open to people looking for a flat on a major holiday." Ron rubbed the back of his neck. "So, um…"

"No, no, I am the glad that you spoke," Viktor said hastily. "I thank you for lettingk me stay this longk."

Ron mustered a half-smile and they shook hands. "Well, I oughta help 'Mione by starting some part of dinner."

Viktor nodded, seeing that it was his cue to leave.

Hugo panicked and ducked into the kitchen right before Viktor could see him. But it didn't make things any less awkward when Ron appeared in the kitchen moments later and saw how red in the face he was. "Oi, Hugo—you all right, son?"

"Ahaha…yeah, I—I'm fine." Hugo pinched himself and swore that he would be. After all, hadn't he wished before that Viktor not stay very long? Hadn't he?

So why did Hugo's heart feel funny at the thought of Viktor's stay ending?

- ^-^3

"Happy Christmas."

Viktor looked up from his latest guest-column for the Prophet and gave Hugo a wan smile. "Ah, yes. The happy Christmas to you, as well."

Hugo stood by the doorway, knowing he couldn't stay long. His parents had gone on to the Burrow ahead of him and Rose, who were meant to collect Scorpius and Al from their shared apartment. "So, um… Mum said you're house-sitting?"

"Yes." Viktor frowned. "This time of year…it is not my, ah—"

"Not your scene?" the Weasley offered.

"No." Viktor tried mustering a smile for Hugo, but it was weak at best. "Ah—"

"Yes?" Hugo said, perhaps a little too eagerly. Viktor's Quidditch chatter had diminished around him, and Hugo rather liked hearing Viktor's other opinions. …oh, who was he kidding? He really just liked the sound of Viktor's voice.

"Ah, maybe I should not say…"

"What?" the younger wizard prompted, taking one step into the room.

Viktor sat forward in his chair. "Will you be…okay?"

Hugo grinned. "That's a silly question to ask. Why wouldn't I be?"

"Your—your cousin."

"Louis?" And Hugo sighed. "Oh, you still remember what happened after the Chudley–Appleby match… I'm thinking of rekindling my friendship with Louis. So don't worry about me too much. He and I should be speaking more."

"Not that." Viktor moved as though he was going to stand, but he remained seated. In the lamplight, Hugo thought he saw the Bulgarian's face flush. "Is it all right…to be around him? The past you had—he—he meant much to you…"

Hugo's face slowly fell. "What do you—"

"Do you still have the affections for him?"

Had the subject been a different one, Hugo would've seized the chance to chuckle at Viktor's adorable, awkward phrasing. But this was no laughing matter. Just as he had feared, that row Hugo had had with Louis a few months ago had not gone unheard. And now someone knew. Someone knew about Hugo and Louis. Hugo swallowed the lump in his throat and he wanted to threaten Viktor not to tell, he wanted to beg him not to tell, he wanted to hole himself up in his room and hope that no one else would ever find out and that Viktor would take the secret to his grave.

Viktor cleared his throat. "Hugo?"

But Hugo did none of that. Instead, his face grew hot and it hurt somewhere in his chest to look at Viktor. He wanted to yell and scream and cry, but—"How dare you ask." That hiss didn't sound anything like him.

Now the older man did rise. "Hugo, I am sorry—"

"Sorry" wasn't going to cut it, and Hugo didn't let Viktor touch him when he reached out to do so. "I—I hate you…! Please, leave soon. You've overstayed your welcome." Hugo didn't bother to look at him before he exited the room. He took a second to collect himself, and then he was downstairs. When Rose asked him why his face was red, he ignored the question. But Scorpius and Al gave him weird looks, too, and Hugo had never been as grateful for the distraction of Freddie and Roxanne's holiday explosion when they arrived at the Burrow.

- ^-^3

Not everyone showed up for the holiday. Lily and Teddy had managed their move to Romania before Christmas, and Uncle Charlie had remained behind to stay on top of Lily's training. Victoire was taking a more private holiday with her beloved Neville, Molly was celebrating her first Christmas with new husband Michael Corner, and James was with his partner Justin Finch-Fletchley's family.

What surprised Hugo the most was that Louis hadn't shown up. In the past few years, usually whichever one of them had been absent, the other would be at the Burrow for Christmas. But Hugo had honestly expected that he and Louis would share another Christmas at last. "Well, there go any hopes of reconciliation," he grumbled to himself.

"You say something, mate?" Freddie asked. They were sharing a room with Al and Scorpius, who were elsewhere.

"Nah, it's nothing. What are you working on?" he asked as he sat up on his bed.

Freddie grinned. "If I told you, I'd have to kill you."

Hugo shivered. "Good Merlin, it's scary when you or Roxie say that."

"What are you hoping for, for Christmas?"

Hugo scoffed. "Some tact would be nice."

Freddie gave him a funny look. "That's a ridiculous thing to ask for. I'm hoping for Dad's little black book. It has all of his and Uncle Fred's notes on their first creations, and I'd love to get my hands on it before Roxie. I mean, I'll definitely share with her 'cause she's my twin and business partner. But I'd like just a smidge of separate, special treatment apart from her, you know?" He blinked, and a blush crept up his neck. "Uh, you didn't hear that…"

Hugo laughed. "Freddie, we're all second-best when it comes to our sisters. And you're the older twin by seven minutes…"

"Yeah, doesn't feel like it sometimes." Freddie rolled his eyes.

Christmas and the few days after were pretty easy like that. It always astounded Hugo that so many of them could still fit into Grandmam and Grampa Weasley's living room, but they did it. There was Grandmam and Grampa, Aunt Fleur with Uncle Bill, Dominique (who'd come back from France for the respite) with Lysander, Aunt Gabrielle with Uncle Oliver (they were technically only Victoire, Dominique, and Louis' aunt and uncle…but becoming family to any part of the Weasley clan meant total membership), Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey with Lucy, Aunt Angelina and Uncle George with Freddie and Roxanne who'd brought Lorcan along, Hugo and Rose's parents, Rose with Scorpius, and Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry with Al who had not been successful in convincing his longtime girlfriend Calytrix Zabini in joining them (something about her parents saying she had to be with them instead). Aunt Luna and Uncle Rolf were meant to stop by later; they, like Aunt Gabrielle and Uncle Oliver, were not a true addition to the family, but they'd been so close to the lot of them that they may as well have been real family.

The food was delicious and the company was good, as usual…but it couldn't keep Hugo from thinking about what had happened right before their departure for the Burrow. When he closed his eyes at night to sleep, he saw on the backs of his eyelids the image flash of Viktor's remorseful face. It bothered him enough that Hermione took notice. He had huge bags under his eyes the day before they returned home.

"Darling, you look as though you haven't slept at all," Hermione cooed to him. She motioned for him to come into her arms, and she wouldn't let him go anywhere until her baby was nestled at her bosom. "Hugo, what's wrong?"

"It's nothing much… I just—I think maybe I've overworked myself," he fibbed.

"I know the feeling," Hermione said, buying into his lie. "I did that to myself all the time at school." She sighed. "And to think, you're following in the footsteps of my bad habits…" She kissed the top of his head and hugged him to her. "Maybe you should ask Slughorn for a break. I mean, Christmas has been nice, but it's just not long enough for hard workers like us to refresh our minds and bodies."

"Thanks for passing on your perfectionist work ethic, Mum," he said with a laugh.

"Oh, hush up." She tousled his hair. "Would you rather have your father's work ethic?" They both laughed at that.

"So, Mum…," Hugo ventured. He looked at her, blue eyes meeting brown. "Is, uh, Viktor staying until the Quidditch season's over? If so, why didn't he make any plans? At least for Christmas…"

"Well, he offered to house-sit for us." Hermione let Hugo go so he could grab some pumpkin juice. "I'm a little surprised and yet not that surprised that he's still with us. Why, is something the matter?"

"No. But you're not surprised?"

Hermione looked at The Quibbler before her. "Hugo, Viktor may have been world-famous once. But celebrity fades with time."

"Except in the case of you, Dad, and Uncle Harry, especially."

"Yes, but celebrity is a fleeting thing, and we're all still people. Even Viktor. And…well, it's not as though he doesn't have a home back in Bulgaria. But there's nothing waiting for him there."

Hugo felt his mouth go dry despite his juice. "Nothing…or no one?"

"What difference does it make?"

"Doesn't he have friends?"

"There's us," she said. "But so many people see him and if they place his name, it's all Quidditch, all the time."

Hugo's jaw twitched. "But that's how he's been to me—to us," he quickly corrected. Had his mother been younger and sharper, she would have surely caught his words. But Hermione and Ron and the adults…they weren't that young anymore.

"That's only because it's been a while since Viktor's been close to people. His parents passed a while ago, and he had found love in Bulgaria, but Viktor told me that that relationship had fallen through even before his parents' passing. That's why I wanted to invite him along, but he insisted that he house-sit."

Hugo sighed. "So that's why he told Dad Christmas was a bad time of year for him…"

Hermione furrowed her brow. "Wait, what?"

"Uh…" Perhaps Hugo should not have said that. But he had to tell his mother now about the exchange he'd seen.

"Oh, that Ron…! Sometimes I could still strangle that man!" She took a deep breath and downed the rest of her coffee. "He chased Viktor out of a chance of spending Christmas with us."

As if that was the worst of it…! Now Hugo had an awful feeling in the pit of his stomach. How could he have told Viktor to leave soon? He'd just said the words on an impulse because he'd been angry—but the truth was that Viktor had no place to go. And, if Hugo were being honest with himself, Hugo knew that he didn't want to see Viktor go at all.

But despite his wavering feelings about the man, Hugo still had a hard time talking to him or looking him in the eye when they returned. He couldn't deny that it still smarted, Viktor's remark about Hugo's past with Louis…

It made attending the next Quidditch match that much harder. Now Hugo watched the pitch with nothing but platonic feelings for his cousin. And when the Cannons took a loss to the Wimbourne Wasps, Hugo's emotions were only those of a fan's. Perhaps that love for Louis had…died young, and Hugo had just never noticed.

"That does not smell good," Viktor remarked after the stands had been cleared.

Hugo snorted. "Yeah, it does stink that they lost." He scuffed the toe of his trainer into the wood of the stand floor before standing. "We should go—"

"Hugo." Viktor stood with him, and his eyes had never looked so fathomless. "We should speak."

"Ah…now's not the time, Viktor," the Weasley rushed.

Viktor huffed—the first time Hugo had heard him do that—and grunted. "When will the right time come?"

"Anytime but now." Hugo turned away from him and hastened down the exit ramp. But he didn't get very far, for the next thing he knew, he was over Viktor's shoulder. Hugo was thin and lanky like his father and Uncle Bill, but Hugo was still short compared to the thick and towering Viktor Krum. "AGH! What the hell, Viktor? !"

"No. You do not hear my words, so I will make you hear my words." He carried Hugo down a few flights and then stopped. "You have not treated me nice since Christmas. We have problemm, yes?"

Hugo sighed and stopped smacking Viktor's back. "I'm sorry, Viktor. I just—"

"Sorry is not enough." Though he refused to let him down, Viktor at least arranged Hugo so that he carried him piggy-back style. "So I will not let you step down until we speak."

The younger male blushed. He couldn't believe how determined Viktor was in this moment. But he also felt so strange, having to cling to Viktor as they left the stadium. "Okay, then…what do I say?"

"Do you really hate me?"

Hugo's heart panged in his chest, and he buried his face in Viktor's back. "I hate that you overheard Louis and me…but…I can't hate you, Viktor."

"You still love him?"

"…not like that."

"You like me?"

"Of course I do."

Viktor stopped in the shadows of the entryway. The Cannons were long gone, and the pitch was calm and quiet. "You want me to stay, yes?"

Hugo's entire body was on fire, and he hoped that Viktor couldn't feel that. But how could he not? Their bodies were so close. Hugo closed his eyes. "You drive me utterly nutters sometimes…I dunno."

Viktor nodded. At last he put Hugo down, and he faced him. He rested his palm on Hugo's shoulder and their eyes locked. Viktor seemed hesitant to move his hand, but he eventually braved it and touched Hugo's cheek, brushing a light auburn wave away from his lightly-freckled face.

Hugo's heart was in his mouth. Sure, his mind had wandered to dangerous places for a long time now, dangerous places involving Viktor and shadows and touches like this.

"You…like me?"

Now the meaning was clear. Hugo closed his eyes and licked his lips and nodded, not trusting his voice to work correctly. The pad of Viktor's thumb barely grazed Hugo's cheek as Viktor stooped down. However, he simply leaned his forehead against Hugo's.

He cleared his throat. "Then we have a problemm more big than I have thought."

Hugo peeked up at him, fighting dizziness since those eyes had never been so close before. "Why?"

Viktor muttered something in Bulgarian and backed off, but he didn't answer Hugo. They ended up Disapparating to the edge of Hugo's neighborhood, and the walk to the Granger-Weasley seemed to go on forever. It was maddening, and—Holy Helga—Hugo had his mother's patience to be able to deal with Viktor's "conversational skills."

In the house, Rose and Scorpius were chatting in the living room, and Hermione was helping Ron make dinner for once. Hermione waved to Viktor, but she glimpsed Hugo. "Hugo, have you caught a cold? You look feverish."

"Ahh, Hermione!" Ron yelled just in time as he accidentally backed into a bowl that had been balanced precariously on the counter edge.

"AGH, Ron!"

Frankly, Hugo heard none of it. At the top of the stairs, Hugo turned to Viktor, giving him a pleading look that Viktor answer him.

And Viktor did. He clenched the front of Hugo's jacket albeit a little roughly, but Hugo put his hands on Viktor's arms, and suddenly their mouths met, and it was one space that two beings occupied and it was only six seconds long, but it felt like an eternity and not even a Blasting Charm could detach them from one another in that moment.

"That is why," Viktor breathed, and he kissed Hugo's forehead before disappearing into the guestroom.

Hugo had nothing to say. But he really did enjoy the warm feeling that travelled from his stomach to his curling toes.

"…said, Hugo? Hugo, your sister is engaged!" Hermione called up.

"Uh-huh, that's great, Rose," Hugo said, and he didn't even hear his mother's confused "Huh?" as he headed for his room. Once there, he shut the door—and his buttery legs melted, forcing him to sit in front of his door.

His romantic love for Louis had died young. But this new love for Viktor was still in its infancy.

- ^-^3

Interaction with Viktor was hilarious afterwards. They stepped lightly around the others so as not to cast suspicion on themselves, though they had done nothing improper.

It was maddening when they were the only two in the house, though. Hugo felt the temptation, but Viktor showed great restraint, so he respected that. Viktor explained to him that he wouldn't betray his friends and do such things under their roof. Besides, their attraction was still so new.

"And I thought that you were just another one of my parents' always-appearing friends," Hugo remarked to him. He sat on the edge of Viktor's bed, and Viktor sat to his right in the desk chair. Putting distance between them was actually a good thing. But it was close to painful not reaching out and at least interweaving their fingers. Suddenly, Hugo longed for those few instances at the Quidditch pitch when Viktor's hand had been in his.

"You did not like me from the beginningk," Viktor stated with a chuckle that worsened Hugo's temptation.

"I didn't know what to make of you from the beginning," Hugo corrected, looking away, his face red. He glanced at Viktor. "But you can't stay here forever."

Viktor sighed. "No, I cannot." He raised his eyebrows at Hugo. "But now…that is good thingk, yes?"

Hugo laughed. "Yeah, you're probably right. Ah…" He cocked his head to one side. "But it will be awfully quiet when you leave."

Viktor pursed his lips and leaned forward in his chair. "About the leavingk of me… You said Herrminey told you about Bulgaria, yes?"

"Well, just about your parents… Okay, she said you'd had a love once. But that was all she'd said."

"I did." Somehow, even knowing how the dark visitor felt about him, Hugo felt a pang of jealousy in his gut. "But he left a whole year before my parents died."

Hugo was stunned. "Wait—'he'?"

"Yes. This is a shock?" Viktor said it plainly.

"Well, kind of…kind of not. I'm just surprised to hear you say it aloud. Did my mother know?"

"Mmm, I never saw it a right thingk to write in letter. But she is still the lightest witch of her generation."

"Brightest," Hugo corrected.

"What?"

"Uh, never mind…" Hugo sighed and stared at Viktor. "Will you be going far?"

Viktor tortured him by waiting a full minute before slapping on that ridiculous yet sweet grin of his. "Were we not just speakingk of how nothingk is in my homeland for me?"

The blue-eyed lad's pulse quickened. "You mean—here?"

"If it is possible, yes."

Hugo couldn't help it. He hopped off the bed and placed a hand on either armrest of the desk chair and leaned down to kiss Viktor. It was a different kind of kiss from their first few, one that was hot, moist, heavy, and more dizzying than a glance from Viktor often made Hugo.

Viktor pushed him away, red in the face. "That is why I must to go to my own home. But why I should to stay near."

And Hugo laughed as he fell into Viktor's lap and felt those strong arms wrap around him.

- ^-^3

By the first week of February, Viktor had found a place in the neighboring town, and he was set to move in and—more importantly—move out of the guestroom.

"I'm so glad you'll be local," Hermione gushed. Outside of the family, Hugo had never seen her so close to someone, and he appreciated their friendship, though he was still a bit jealous of it.

Ron shook Viktor's hand and clapped him on the back. "It's nice that you won't stay a stranger, mate. After all, Hermione can't really handle my Quidditch passion." He laughed, and his family groaned collectively.

"Eat dinner with us whenever, Viktor!" Rose said, and she gave him a hug as though he were just another uncle to them.

But that was certainly not the case for Hugo. And what the hell was he supposed to say when his parents and sister were around? "Well, uh…let us know a.s.a.p. where you are once you're completely settled."

"A.s.a.p.?" Viktor echoed, confused.

"Er, right—as soon as possible."

Viktor's face scrunched up as he appeared to picture the words to decipher what Hugo had originally said. Then he nodded. "Oh, right. I will."

Hugo held his hand out, and Viktor shook it—and Hugo had to wonder why in the hell no one questioned his blush that damn near rivaled his father's legendary ones! "Let's meet at the next Quidditch game, all right?"

The Bulgarian agreed, but they read something else entirely in one another's eyes. After all, the Quidditch pitch had a special meaning to them.

"Hey, Aunt Hermione, is Hugo around—oh!" came a voice behind Viktor. The tall man stepped aside, and his face fell a bit at the sight of Louis. So. Even Viktor could be jealous.

Hugo hadn't been expecting him, and he motioned him inside. "Louis…what's up?"

"I just wanted to talk to you." Louis looked at Viktor. "Oh, Krum… Hey, thanks for coming to so many games—those columns were really flattering, thanks. Are you leaving?"

"Viktor's actually moving nearby," Hermione supplied, and good thing, too, as Hugo saw Viktor's fist clench.

"Oh! Then come to as many games as you want!" Louis said. "It was brilliant meeting you."

"Well, we should get a move on," Rose interrupted. She caught her mother's attention. "Mum, you have that appointment at one with the Minister…"

"Oh no, I completely forgot!" Hermione freaked. She began bustling about, and Ron stepped out of the way, leaving Hugo at the front door with Viktor and Louis.

"Hey, Vik—see you soon, mate," Hugo said, and he waved goodbye.

The older wizard waved back, calmed by Hugo's focus on him. He gave him a knowing smile, and then he set off down the yard to the edge of the house's protective boundaries. In the blink of an eye, he had Disapparated, and Hugo sighed.

Louis whistled. "Oh, hell. No wonder you haven't been as adamant about talking to me."

Hugo gave him a look. "What? You've been busy with Quidditch, and I thought you still hated me…"

"What, for throwing that little hissy fit? Oh, that's old news, Hugh." Louis bumped Hugo's arm with his elbow. "Friends?"

The redhead sighed. "I don't recall ever really wanting to stop being friends."

"Right…" Louis winked. "So, when did you start wanting to be more than friends with Viktor?"

Hugo froze. "Shit, Lou! Keep your voice down! If Mum or Dad hears…wait, how'd you know?"

Louis smirked. "Hugo, I've been with Draco for almost two years. I know that look."

"Yeah? What look's that?" he said dismissively as Louis followed him upstairs. Louis nudged the door shut with his foot.

"You love Viktor Krum."

"What? Do not. I—" But Hugo's mind went blank of everything else as it filled with thoughts of Viktor.

Shit. He really was in love with Viktor Krum.

- ^-^3

I really need to stop writing long oneshots when classwork beckons… -_-; ANYWAY! There's so much I could comment on here. Let me go piece by piece—

a) Louis/Hugo: It is a guilty obsession of mine. LouHugh is one of my favorite cousincest pairings, and I actually drew upon 2 of my oneshots for them to provide their background (those stories being "boundaries & promises" and "crashing & burning: we'd be so lucky"). I like to write Louis as a prick, honestly…but Draco's influence has really softened him up. :3

b) Louis/Draco: These little buggers are one of the best slash cross-gen out there. *drools* They work perfectly together. Don't believe me? Read my fics for them in this order: "Tomorrow Still Comes," "Naughty, Definitely Naughty," "Justifiably Spotlit," and "Bad Omens." Be converted.

c) Quidditch: Bloody hell. Now I understand why JKR had such a tough time with the Quidditch scenes! 0.0! Not only did I write one in "Bad Omens," but I wrote TWO here. Was I trying to drive myself nuts? Possibly… I've learned more about Quidditch than I ever thought I would just because of this oneshot. Oh, and several of the moves used are actual moves and fouls (well, the foul being Cobbing). But yeah. Learn from mew~!

d) Other weird pairings: I managed to slip in some other M&MWPs besides this brand-new Vikugh. They are: LouisDraco, VictoireNeville, GabrielleOliver, MollyMichael, and JamesJustin. If you used them, I'd appreciate a little nod to Morghen and me, thanks.

e) The title: It's a song by the singer Laleh. Thanks to lowi for getting me hooked on her. She's bril. -w-

f) Viktor's accent & "You just made him gay for your pairing!": I really was operating under the idea that years of letters and a few face-to-face meetings with Hermione (not to mention travelling the world thanks to Quidditch) would have improved Viktor's accent. So now he can pronounce Ws, but he still has some odd structuring; but we can still understand him, though Hugo seems to understand him best. ;] And no, I didn't "make" Viktor gay. JKR said he probably found love with someone in Bulgaria, and that person has been called "Viktor's partner;" since JKR hasn't specified, we can't throw out the idea that maybe his love had been a man. But hey…since all the pretty girls have been taken, Viktor's found himself a pretty boy. XD

g) Hugo, Rose, & Scorpius: I'll say it now—I see Rose as more Ron-like with a dose of Hermione, and Hugo as more Hermione-ish with a dose of Ron. As for the shocking thing Scorpius did—don't smoke, kiddos! mew doesn't condone it; it will give you cancer! But I wrote it in to show that even Scorpius was still a bit corrupted…damn you, Asha Nott and Macareus Goyle! (I should write them someday, *lol*—hooray for random OCs!)

h) "Okay, shut up now & tell us if there'll be a sequel:" I already have some ideas floating around in my head for a sequel that hopefully won't be as long as this, *LOL*. But I appreciate everyone who's read this, & if you read to the end—please leave a review. It's the courteous thing to do. Thank you very much!

-mew-tsubaki :}}}