Title: A Well-Orchestrated Coincidence
Prompt: "Reeling from her breakup with Ron, Hermione reluctantly agrees to attend Fred's St. Patty's Party. What she doesn't realize is he is determined to help her "get lucky" this year with the guy he knows she likes" for hp_getlucky, a luck-themed fest on Livejournal.
Pairing(s): Hermione/Viktor, past Hermione/Ron
Word Count: 3 000
Author's Notes: Mild AU, in that the fic takes place post-war and Fred is still alive.
Hermione did not need to be with Ron to be happy. She did not need to be in a relationship with Ron. She did not need to be in a relationship with anyone.
And she pretended that if she repeated that enough times, it would make it true.
Hermione had always prided herself on being able to rise above whatever thing might be making her miserable. She had come out of the war without much psychological harm – nothing compared to what Harry and Ron had suffered, at least. She had never in the past become particularly depressed over any relationship gone bad, save for when she was just sixteen years old and had been jealous of Ron snogging Lavender. Hermione's logic was stronger than her emotions. It always had been.
But when Ron had told her one evening – in the gentlest tones he could manage, not that that softened the blow – that he didn't really feel like their relationship was working out, all Hermione's strength had disappeared.
She spent days in her flat after Ron left, numb, unable to process anything. She didn't understand what she was supposed to do with herself without him. She had always been with Ron – even before they were romantically involved, she could hardly remember a time that he hadn't been at her side. And while he had promised that their breakup didn't have to mean that he never saw her anymore, and they could 'still be friends' and all the other things that you were supposed to say to someone who you didn't love anymore, Hermione didn't believe for a minute that anything would ever be happy between them again.
Harry, for his part, was at least trying to make things better. He came by Hermione's flat and said encouraging things to her about how Ron still cared about her a lot and that he, Harry, cared a lot about her too. And whenever he was there, Hermione forced a smile onto her face and nodded and thanked him and told him that she was just fine, really, he didn't need to worry about her. Hermione wasn't bad at putting on a brave face when she needed to.
But when he left, and she was alone, any approximation of good humour that she had managed to create for herself while he was there evaporated, and she was left feeling weak and numb again.
She knew people were noticing, even if they pretended not to. She could see the concerned looks that she got from her friends when they thought she wasn't looking at them.
Hermione hated their concern. She hated that they were being patronizing towards her – how repulsive of them. She didn't want their pity for her breakup. What she wanted was for all the memories of her romance with Ron to disappear from her mind and everyone else's minds, and to be like she was before she and Ron had started going out.
Well, obviously that wasn't going to happen.
It was with these thoughts on her mind – thoughts of how she'd like everything to go back to the way it was before she and Ron were together, and how much better things were then – that Hermione wandered into Weasley's Wizard Wheezes one drizzly afternoon in early March.
"All right, Hermione?" Fred asked cheerfully when she stepped in. He was sitting behind a desk with his feet propped up on it and a magazine resting open on his chest. Hermione managed a small, tight smile.
"Fine, thanks," she told him weakly.
"I heard that you and Ron split up." He swung his legs off the desk and sat up, appraising her. "Is that true?"
"Yeah," she muttered, turning to examine the display of Pygmy Puffs in favour of looking at him.
"Well, it's a bloody miracle it lasted this long," he said blithely, then turned around and shouted into the back room, "Oy, George! It's true!"
Hermione winced. "Would you mind not shouting?"
Hermione sighed impatiently, then turned away from the Pygmy Puffs and crossed her arms defensively across her chest.
"Yes," she snapped. Her cheeks were burning and tears began to sting her eyes. She held them back – she hadn't cried over Ron yet, and she wasn't going to start now. "Shockingly, I'm really not at all pleased that your brother's apparently decided I'm not good enough for him–"
Fred silenced her with a wave of his hand. "Don't get yourself all worked up about him," he told her. "Come on, everyone knows that it's you that was too good for him. Look…" He stood up and came around the desk, then clapped her on her shoulder. "George and I are holding a little party here for Saint Patrick's Day. Why don't you come by and we'll see if we can't distract you from our brother? Stupid little git," he added, more to himself than to her.
"I don't think I'm really in the mood…" Hermione started backing away, but Fred shook his head.
"I insist," he told her. "You absolutely can't turn this down. We'll have a great time. You'll have a great time."
"I really don't–"
"Come on," he widened his eyes and gave her a look like a wounded puppy. "You must want to. You can't just sit in your flat and mope."
Hermione bit her tongue and dug her nails into her palms, then stuck her lower lip out stubbornly like a child who wasn't getting her way. "I don't want to. I don't like parties."
"You'll like the kind that George and I can throw," Fred assured her. "Come on, come on, you know you'll have a good time! Look… just come by here on Saint Patrick's Day and see how the party's going when you arrive, and if you don't want to stay, you don't have to." He looked like he thought he was proposing her a deal that she absolutely couldn't refuse. "You'll have a ball, Hermione! We'll make sure that you have the best time you've ever had."
Hermione stared at him for a few moments, searching her mind for excuses that she could possibly have for not going to his party. She was having a great deal of difficulty thinking of any.
"Fine," she said at last. "All right. I'll come by for just a little while. Here?" she added, gesturing to the store, and Fred nodded.
"Come by around seven. Things'll just be getting started then. It'll be amazing. You'll love it."
Fat chance, Hermione thought, but she smiled tightly at Fred and nodded before making her hasty exit.
When March 14th crept up on her, Hermione could not think of a single thing that she wanted to do less than go to Fred and George's party. She ranked it up with talking to Ron, and stabbing her own eyes out with her wand. But she had promised, and to be perfectly honest, she was starting to get a touch tired of sitting around by herself. Work felt particularly boring to her these days, and she couldn't really bring herself to talk to Ginny or Luna or any of her other girl friends for more than a few moments. They liked to bring up Ron and she didn't want to talk about him at all, ever.
Not that she really expected Fred or George to be any more sensitive about how she felt about Ron. In fact, she didn't doubt that they would be even less sensitive than her friends. But at least they were more open to saying disparaging things about him. Maybe Hermione would at least get a chance to be vindictive – that wouldn't be so bad.
So she combed her hair and pulled it up into a high knot, not bothering to smooth down all the flyaway curls that burst out of it, and dressed herself in the only suitable dress she had lying around (dark pink and silky, purchased for a function at the Ministry of Magic that she had attended last summer). She spent several long, agonizing minutes practicing her smile in the mirror and trying not to make it look too forced, then, when seven o'clock approached and she couldn't justify stalling any longer, she Disapparated.
Weasley's Wizard Wheezes was lit up from inside with what looked like a thousand green and pink fairy lights, except that they were moving around, bouncing against the windows and floating away lazily across the ceiling. Hermione stood outside and watched them for a while, wishing that she could just look at them instead of needing to actually go in and socialize, but then the door flew open and Fred beckoned her in.
The ground was strewn with large emerald green cushions, but to Hermione's surprise, instead of the dozens of guests that she had expected, there were only two other people in the room. One was George, who had his back to her and looked like he was mixing a drink.
And one, sitting on the cushions on the ground with a drink in his hand and a sullen expression on his face, was Viktor Krum.
Hermione stared at him, thinking surely she must not be recognizing him correctly – after all, why would Viktor Krum be in England, and at a party held by people he didn't even know – but when he saw her, he stood up and held out his hand.
"Hermonin- Hermione," he corrected himself. "Lovely to see you again."
"Oh, do you two know each other?" Fred said, with exaggerated false surprise. "Well, what a lucky coincidence that is! I was just telling Vincent–"
"Whatever. I was just telling him that, unfortunately, all our other guests have had to cancel." Fred was talking quickly, with the same big smile on his face that he wore when he was selling things to people who weren't sure that they actually wanted to buy anything. "So, I suppose it'll just be you two–"
"Pardon me?" Hermione demanded, cheeks flooding with colour. "You told me that it would be a party."
"Yeah, well, two's company or whatever that saying is." George turned around from his drinks and pushed one into Hermione's hand. "Sit down and have a drink, why don't you?"
She wanted very much to say no, she was not at all in the mood for sitting with just one other person and pretending that that was a party, but she couldn't think of a way to say that that wouldn't offend Viktor. So she sighed and sank down on the cushions beside him, then took a big sip of her drink. She was going to need it.
"How have you been, Hermione?" he asked her, sitting down beside her and watching her intently. He was clearly struggling to pronounce her name correctly, for which she was grateful. She had neither the strength of the will at the moment to correct him, nor to put up with him mispronouncing her name.
"Oh… not bad. What about you?"
"Very well." He smiled a surprisingly broad smile. "Not playing Quidditch professionally anymore, but I have enough money from that that I have been able to enjoy myself. I'm still flying a lot, going on a lot of holidays…"
"And what brings you here?" she added, hoping to divert the conversation away from herself. If she could get him talking, then maybe she wouldn't have to tell him about how very not 'not bad' she was at the moment.
"The Weasleys invited me, of course," he said, as though she should have known that already. "They said that you would be here."
Hermione's head snapped up, and she intended to glare at Fred and George, but they seemed to have disappeared.
"And… why would that matter?" she asked, trying and failing to sound politely curious.
"I wanted to see you, of course."
Viktor raised one heavy eyebrow and looked at her incredulously. Hermione looked back, then took another swig of her drink.
"It has been a long time since we talked," he told her. "I have missed you."
Hermione slumped back on the cushions, downing the rest of her drink and rubbing her forehead. "Well… that's nice, Viktor. I've missed you too," she added, which was a blatant lie. She hadn't even thought about him in months, too concerned with the sliding collapse of her relationship with Ron to think about any other men.
"I am not married," he told her, and Hermione's looked at him sharply.
"No. I am not married. I could have been a long time ago." He took a sip of his own drink and then set it aside. "But I haven't been able to find a woman of interest who was not taken."
"I… oh," was all Hermione could say. She was completely lost as to why Viktor might be telling her this.
"And yourself? Are you married, Hermione?"
"No." Hermione could hear the note of bitterness creeping into her own voice. "No, I'm not married."
"Is there… someone?" He was looking at her very intently, and Hermione looked down at her hands, fidgeting.
"No," she said, taking care not to sound as angry as the question made her feel. "There was, but he… felt… that our relationship was not satisfactory to him." She failed, and dug her nails into her palms until she drew blood.
"That was stupid of him," Viktor said bluntly.
"Yeah, a bit, I suppose."
"Very stupid," he insisted. "He should have been happy to have been in a relationship with you. If he didn't appreciate it, he was not good enough for you."
"That's very kind of you to say," she said quietly, and for the first time in a while, she smiled a bit.
"Do you remember the Yule Ball?" he asked abruptly, and Hermione blushed slightly. Of course she did – how could she possibly forget it? It was the memory she associated most strongly with Viktor, and she imagined it always would be.
"Did you enjoy it?"
"Yes, very much."
"Then why," he asked her bluntly, "have we not done it again?"
"Done what?" Hermione was wishing desperately that Fred or George would show up to rescue her from this, but neither of them appeared.
"Gone out together."
Her face burned. "Oh… I- I don't… well, you've been in Bulgaria, for one," she told him, trying to sound matter-of-fact.
"But I'm not in Bulgaria now."
Hermione was still struggling to think of something to say to follow yes, but when Viktor leaned over and kissed her. His lips must have practically bruised her, he did it so forcefully, and Hermione's eyes bulged out from sheer surprise. When Viktor pulled back, she opened her mouth to say something and then was unable to close it again, and she sat for several long moments, staring at him with a terribly stupid expression on her face.
"I have not met any other girl like you," he told her, in a tone so serious that he could have been imparting the most divine wisdom in the world to her.
"Viktor, I…" Hermione wasn't even finding it easy to breathe, much less to speak. Her cheeks burned and she wondered whether there was anything she could do or say that would express what she was feeling at that moment – anger at the Weasley twins for putting her in this situation, anger at Ron for making it possible for them to put her in this situation, irritation at herself for walking into it…
Affection for Viktor, who really did seem so much more interested in her than Ron ever had…
Gratitude towards him for being so forward, for she wasn't sure whether she would have understood him if he had been any more discreet…
Confusion at herself, as to whether she wanted him to kiss her again or not…
"Viktor," she said at last, "Surely you have plenty of fans who would be falling over themselves for you…"
He snorted, shaking his head decisively.
"They are not interesting," he said. "They want to have an affair with a famous Quidditch player and nothing else. Where is the romance in that?"
"It's really not as if there's anything the least bit romantic about me…"
"That's right," he told her, nodding and looking at her with the slightly encouraging look one might give someone who was learning something for the first time and being a bit slow about it. "You aren't romantic. I like that."
"Viktor, really, we haven't seen each other in years…"
"I do not think that should matter."
And that was when Hermione ran out of arguments. She looked at Viktor, at his expression of hope, and she could almost hear him mentally begging her to lean over and kiss him.
So she did.
And then she pulled back and said, "I suppose we could try going out together again"
And then she kissed him again, and this time, she didn't pull back.
Fred and George had disappeared to the storeroom in the back, and they sat on crates of spell-repelling hats and clinked their tankards of butterbeer together.
"I would say," Fred said, smirking a little as he heard a soft sigh issue from the front room, "that that went exceedingly well. Wouldn't you?"
"Much better than we would have expected," George agreed. He took a swig of his drink and grinned at Fred. "It's a damn good thing he hasn't gotten any worse looking in the last five years."
"If he had, we could have always slipped him a charm." Fred tipped his own tankard back and drank deeply from it. "Besides, I reckon things would have turned out like this anyway. Hermione's not the type to make a decision like this based purely on appearance, or she would never have gone for Ron."
"Ron…" An almost beatific smile spread across George's face. "I can't wait to tell him about this – Hermione and Viktor Krum might be getting back together. He'll have a fit."