Notes: Many, many thanks to all the wonderful and lovely people who have reviewed; they are truly a delight to read and incredibly motivational. On a side note, I'll be leaving home for the next week to spend some quality holiday time with family. I can't be assured of their internet connection, but at the very latest you'll see the next chapter on day two or three of next year. I apologize and hope you don't mind the wait too much! (I will also be using this time to go back and re-edit some of the earlier chapter, I know I just wrote them recently, but some of my ridiculous errors are just far too strange to remain.) Apologies for the extended notes and again, no beta this chapter, so I'm sure editing mishaps abound, though I do hope you'll enjoy it anyway. Cheers!
Thirty-Seven Galleons, Fifteen Sickles, Three Knuts ~ Hogwarts
Chapter 5: Densaugeo
Viktor awoke Sunday morning as though the balloon in his chest had popped. What little optimism Harry Potter's entrance into the Tourament had inspired – in regards to his curly haired classmate – had faded in the night.
Though her friendship with the-boy-who-lived told Viktor that she obviously wasn't a prejudiced cad like the blonde Slytherin boy he'd met (or at least that's what he was choosing to assume), the Bulgarian seeker was still hesitant. He still knew nothing of her character and truly had no reason to approach her.
He therefore reaffirmed his resolve to ignore the feelings she stirred in him, and spent the rest of the day and the following few throwing himself back into his research of the Triwizard Tournament.
He spent most of his time on the Durmstrang ship, with the occasional exploration of the ground with Danyal, who seemed more than happy to simply have Viktor's company, though the two rarely spoke. They did not come across Viktor's mysterious girl again, which made the tension in his chest ease and allowed him to begin enjoying the treks through the sprawling grounds.
It had been almost a week since they'd arrived and Viktor had just returned to his room after a particularly long walk through the castle's many greenhouses, when his father's Great Horned Owl, Gwen, came swooping through the small port hole window.
She dropped two letters atop his unmade sheets and landed on the bedpost, where she began to preen her feathers. She waited until he had the letters in hand, allowing him to give her a short pet and nipped his finger, before spreading her wide wings once and spiraling through the porthole window again.
Viktor collapsed onto his bed and opened the letters. The first was from his father.
Congratulations on your entrance into the Triwizard Tournament. I had great faith in you and know you will do well. Do not get complacent now though, son, it is only the beginning. I have included the titles of some more books for you to study, I'm sure you will be able to find them in the school's library.
Your mother sends her love and encourages you to do your best.
We look forward to seeing you at the third task.
Beneath his father's signature, there was a list of half a dozen book titles. Viktor placed the letter on his desk, glad to have a direction to continue his studies. He tore open the next letter.
We heard that you have been selected to participate in the Triwizard Tournament! We wanted to send you our congratulations! Now that you're a champion, you'll get even more girls! If you need any advice you just write me.
I apologize, Zvetan thinks he's funny.
I AM funny, Natasha, you simply have no sense of humor. Or taste in men, for that matter.
Below the sentence was a smattering of lines and blotches that made Viktor assume a struggle had ensued.
Anyway, Viktor, know that we are all in support of you and that we look forward to your return to practice!
The Bulgarian Quidditch Team
Below the signature (Zvetan lost the right to finish the letter it seemed), each of the members had signed their names and a small note such as "Good luck!" At the very bottom of the page, squashed beneath Vladimir's loopy scrawl, Zvetan had signed his name and drawn a small frowny face.
Viktor chuckled at his teammates and placed the letter on his bedside table. As he released it, he noticed his hand had stained the parchment red. He hadn't realized, but Gwen's sharp beak had cut his finger.
He wiped away the blood noting that the cut was quite small, but blood continued to pour from it. He made a fist to contain the bleeding and left his cabin.
Their small ship did not contain a medical bay, but Viktor had heard something about a hospital wing and he headed back into the bright sunlight towards the castle.
It took him about ten minutes to find the wing, after stopping and asking a group of Hogwarts students, who stared at him in shock before answering and erupted into whispers once he'd walked away.
The elderly mediwitch, Madame Pomfrey, ushered him inside once he arrived, his fist now dripping with blood. She magicked away the droplets on the floor and cleared the red staining his hands before murmuring a few incantations.
His cut was immediately healed and she chastised him for not wrapping it in something before coming to her.
She excused him muttering about terrifying young students with a bloody fist and Viktor headed back down the hall away from the hospital wing.
He paused beside a wide window and stared out across the grounds. The Hogwarts castle was quiet as most students were in class, but he could see a few scattered groups lounging on the sunny lawn, wrapped in cloaks and house-colored scarves.
The sprawling grounds were much more impressive than Durmstrang's mostly ice covered fields, and part of him was glad to spend his last year of school at such a prestigious and glorious place.
Viktor had begun walking again and, just as his ears registered the sounds of hurried footsteps, he turned a corner and was barreled into by a dark robed figure with wildly flying chestnut curls.
In his mind, he bent to assist her, apologizing profusely. And that's what he would have done, if his heart hadn't stuttered to a stop.
He stared down at where she'd landed, sitting on the floor, but it took him a moment before he realized she was crying.
He knelt down immediately, all anxiety and panic dissolving. She was covering her face with her hands, her hair shielding her like a blanket.
"Are yoo alright?" He heard himself asking.
She nodded her head vigorously but Viktor was not convinced.
"Please," he continued, his heart aching at the way she curled into herself.
Viktor slowly reached out, so as not to startle her, meaning to brush the long tendrils of hair from her face.
She reacted instinctively and looked up at him.
Her eyes were bright red, tears streaking down her cheeks. The vibrant shade of her face made her dark eyes stand out and Viktor stared at their depth.
The movement of her hands, which were covering her mouth, broke the spell of her eyes. Viktor noticed the way her teeth poked from beneath the cover of her hands, having reached her navel and still growing.
Viktor recognized the jinx and pulled out his wand. The crying girl before him flinched at the sight, and he put a calming hand on her shoulder.
"I can help."
She stared into his eyes, expression tear stained and weary, but she nodded.
Her teeth did not shrink back to their original size, but the growing ceased. Without thinking, Viktor grabbed her by the shoulders and helped her stand. Her hands still covered her mouth, but her crying had quieted, as he steered back into the hospital wing he had just left.
"Oh my goodness, Hermione Granger? What in the world happened?" Demanded Madame Pomfrey at the sight of them. The mediwitch pulled his girl away and sat her on one of the many cots in the room.
It was immediately evident that Hermione couldn't speak with her teeth that way and Madame Pomfrey pulled her wand out and began muttering incantations once more.
When she had finished and Hermione's teeth were visibly shrinking, Madame Pomfrey turned to Viktor. "Well, thank you Mr. Krum for escorting Miss Granger here. My word, the things I've seen at this school. It's as though we're teaching animals not students…" The mediwitch meandered away, disgruntled, to speak to a small mousy student that had entered the wing.
Viktor stepped hesitantly over to Hermione, who was looking determinedly at the ceiling. Her expression was torn between fury and tears. She looked up at him as she noticed his approach.
"Are yoo alright?" He asked again.
Hermione sighed and motioned helplessly to her teeth, which, though shrinking, were doing so at a much slower pace than they'd grown. She nodded however, and made a different motion with her hands.
"Mr. Krum?" Madame Pomfrey's voice called from behind Viktor, just as he was going to ask what she meant.
He turned as the witch continued, "It seems they are requiring you, Mr. Krum. Something about the Tournament. Mr. Creevey can escort you." Viktor nodded.
"Though how he knew you were here…doesn't miss a trick that man…" Madame Pomfrey continued chatting with herself as the small mousy boy waved shyly from the entrance.
Viktor turned back to Hermione. Her teeth had reached midchest, and he heard the mediwitch's heels clacking towards them to check on her patient.
Her great brown eyes stared at him curiously and he looked down, the fluttering in his stomach returning with a greater force than before, now that hi worry and panic ha dissipated.
"…get vell," he muttered gruffly, before departing.
Hermione stared after him as Madame Pomfrey fretted over her, her mind at a loss to explain what had just happened.
It wasn't until a week after the weighing of the wands that he saw her again.
Viktor had been haunting the library, pouring over the books his father had recommended. He enjoyed being there, it reminded him of his father's study at home, and he would spend his morning hours hidden among the stacks.
Karkaroff had reinstated the nightly duels and after a morning of reading, an afternoon of wandering the Hogwarts grounds (he told himself he just wanted to make sure she was alright), Viktor would duel his fellow students in an empty classroom.
That particular day, however, Viktor had lost track of time and had stayed in the library far past his usual hour, until most of the Hogwarts students were out of class. He tried to avoid doing this as a gaggle of Hogwarts witches had taken to following him whenever they could. He didn't mind so much, really, as they never actually bothered him, but in the library their giggles and hushed whispers were incredibly distracting.
Viktor had just heard the sound of one of these girls and looked up from his book at the clock, realizing the late hour. Turning his eyes back to his things, he noticed her.
Hermione was seated two tables away, three books laid out before her. A lump formed in his throat at the sight. She was nose deep in a heavy tome, her face back to its natural color and her teeth properly in her mouth. Her lips parted slightly as she read, and Viktor stood, meaning to walk over and ask her how she was.
His nerve crumbled as Harry Potter came up beside her, dumping an armload of books onto the large mahogany table.
The dark haired boy sat down and the two fell into hushed conversation.
Viktor slumped back into his chair. Of all the terrible scenarios that had played out in Viktor's mind, Hermione being enamored with the-boy-who-lived was not one of them. Certainly she seemed to spend much of her time with him and that red-headed boy (if the handful of times Viktor had seen her was any indication) but Viktor hadn't considered that she might be taken with one of them.
Viktor spent the next hour watching the pair, one part of him at war with the other. He realized he seemed crazy, watching the two as he sat flipping through books, but he couldn't seem to make himself leave. One the one hand, he thought he could find out for sure whether the two were an item. If it was true, Viktor may finally have a reason to stop dreaming of her and begin focusing on the first task, which was just a handful of weeks away.
On the other hand…if she wasn't with the Potter boy… Viktor didn't know what that would mean. They'd only spoken once now, but as Viktor remembered the incident, little things stood out to him.
The way she had looked so frustrated and upset as she stared down the Hospital Wing ceiling. Her flinch when he reached for his wand, then nodded when she agreed to his assistance. The hand motion she'd made just before he was called away to the wand weighing, which Viktor now assumed was meant to thank him.
All these things spoke to her character.
If she'd vain or proud she wouldn't have let him see her face or allowed him to help her. If she had been interested in his fame, he would have heard the whole story circulating the student body, yet he hadn't heard a whisper. If she was cruel or prejudiced….well, she probably wouldn't spend all her time with Harry Potter.
He realized these were all assumptions, but to him they spoke volumes and they made him curious about this bright-eyed girl that seems to have captured him.
When the light filtering in the thin windows of the library turned pale, Viktor finally left the library and headed to the ship to prepare for dueling.
As he crossed the darkening grounds, he stared up at the stars as they winked, one by one, into existence.
He didn't know if she was seeing the Potter boy. He didn't truly know if she was kind or cruel or mindless. He didn't know if she was interesting at all. He didn't know anything about her.
But as he stared at the sky, the inky darkness pierced by pinpricks of light, he finally admitted to himself that he wanted to.