A/N:I cannot apologize enough to all of you for the long hiatus. A lot of things have been going on and it has been pretty difficult to get back into this story. I do truly appreciate my readers who have continued to follow this story, so I figure that the least I can do is to be honest with you. While I am not abandoning this story, updates will not be regular. I will probably update whenever I get a free moment or when I get inspired, and I don't know how far in between updates that will be. It is very unfair of me to keep you all stringing along awaiting the next update, so I'd rather be honest.

I would highly suggest following the story or me to receive alerts about updates. Thank you all for sticking with me and please enjoy this much-awaited chapter.

Listening Music – "Precious" by Depeche Mode.

CH. 11 – The Dark Mark

Harry's POV—

"Ron, for the last time you have my word that I knew nothing of Victor Krum's visit. Had I known I would have invited you to stay, I know how much you love him," I said with a smile and a roll of my eyes.

"Love? I don't love him Harry! He just happens to be the greatest Seeker who has ever lived! What's not to admire about the bloke? Love…ridiculous," Ron answered with a shake of his head.

"And what am I? You don't become the youngest Seeker in over a century in Hogwarts history for no reason," I teased back.

"You're good Harry don't get me wrong, but its Krum! Victor bloody Krum of the Bulgarian National Team!" the red head practically shouted in excitement.

I couldn't help put chuckle a little bit at his antics before I saw Sirius come into my line of sight. I nodded towards him once before returning back to my conversation with Ron. "Apologies for ending your charming talk about Krum, but I must be going. Sirius wants me to be a part of the welcoming party."

"I still don't believe that you didn't know he was coming."

"I didn't! Good day Ron, speak with you soon," I said ending the conversation before he could continue. I placed the two-way mirror down on my table and ran my hands through my hair.

I sighed out loud as I started to think about all of duties I had to complete this week. Tending to affairs of the state was an everyday occurrence, but Sirius had decided more recently that since I would be married soon and would rightfully inherit all of House Potter, I should be given all of the responsibilities that the inheritance entails. I would gladly give it all up if I could, but that unfortunately wasn't an option. To make matters worse, there was the mysterious and most unfortunate arrival of Qudditch star Victor Krum. Sirius claimed that he was just passing through and wanted to stop by for a visit. I think he had ulterior motives.

I met Victor Krum back in fourth year when I was unwillingly entered into the Tri-wizard Tournament as a contender. Krum was one of the other champions and we became acquaintances at most I would say. That never prevented Ron from his continued jealous antics though.

"Harry?" a sweet voice called out to me, interrupting my thoughts.

I turned my head in the direction of the speaker and I smiled as I set my gaze on the object of my affections. "Hermione, how are you?" I asked reaching my hand out to her.

She placed her soft warm hand in mine and took a seat next to me on the cushion. "Good so far and yourself?" She responded pleasantly.

"Much better now that you're here," I grinned as I saw her struggle not to blush.

"What are your plans for the day?" She said swiftly changing the subject.

"Well, we have a visitor arriving today and he is staying with us for a day or so. His name is Victor Krum."

"Victor Krum, the Qudditch player?" She asked in slightly shock.

"Yes, I'm surprised you've heard of him."

"I may not care for the sport, but I do read the Daily Prophet. Why is he coming here?"

"We met during fourth year and apparently he was just passing through and wanted to visit with me."

"And will this visit entail a game of Qudditch?" She asked with a smirk.

"There is more to blokes than Qudditch I will have you know," I responded in mock offense.

"Hmm really, enlighten me."

I smiled at her thinking of something witty to say. She continued to stare at me, believing that she had won our banter battle. She started to bite her lips to stop the laughter that was sure to bubble out of her at any moment. Gods how I loved those lips…

Not being able to restrain my desires any longer, I reached over and pressed my lips softly against hers. I could feel her tense up in shock, but that only lasted for a few moments before I felt her respond and move her lips swiftly against mine.

"I've been wanting to do this all day," I muttered against her mouth.

I felt her start to smile as we continued to kiss. I ran my hands through her untamable hair and pulled her in closer. I felt her start to bite my lip, trying to gain access to the inside of my mouth. I grinned against her lips before I stopped the kiss. She started to pout, making my grin spread wider. I leaned down and kissed my way along her neck.

"Harry," She gasped in desire, leaning her head to the side to give me better access to her skin.

"I want you," I whispered softly.

"Master Potter, sir, King Sirius said that Harry Potter must come right away. Mr. Krum has arrived," a small male voice called out from beside us.

Hermione quickly moved away, muttering to herself in embarrassment at being caught by Dobby. I just looked at her in amusement before turning my attentions to the House Elf.

"Thank you Dobby, I will be along shortly," I replied. "And Dobby? Remember what I said about announcing your presence…"

"Of course Harry Potter sir. Dobby will try harder next time!" the House Elf said eagerly before bowing to us and disappearing with a distinct pop. I was just thankful that the poor elf no longer punished himself for making mistakes. It took years to cure that disturbing behaviour.

I turned my attention back to Hermione who was still muttering to herself. I walked over to where she was standing and reached for her arm.

"Hermione its fine. It was just Dobby. He won't tell anyone what he saw," I stated, putting my hand under her chin to lift her face up. "Besides, we are only doing what everyone else expects of us. You have nothing to worry about."

"Harry, that's not the point," She said with a frustrated sigh.

I looked at her for a moment, seeing different emotions flicker in her beautiful brown eyes. "Tell me what you're really thinking. I know something isn't right." I responded.

She looked up at me before shaking her head. "You have guests to entertain, that should take priority as always. Please just tend to your duties."

I shook my head in response and attempted to voice my disagreement but was interrupted.

"Let me make it easier for you," She said in anger as she swiftly walked past me and out the door.

Something definitely was going on with Hermione and I intended to find out just what that was. First however, I had duties to tend to, as always.

Courtyard in front of House Black –

"Nice of you to make an appearance," my godfather said to me with a shake of his head.

"Apologies," I returned, stepping in line beside him.

He stared at me for a moment before turning his attention to the carriage stopping abruptly in front of us. "Ah Mr. Krum, what a pleasure it is to see you again. I trust the journey here wasn't too terrible?" Sirius said coming forward to shake the tall figure's hand.

"It vas zery good thank you Lord Sirius and your hospitality is vost velcome", Victor Krum responded in his broken Bulgarian accent.

"Great to hear. I'm sure Harry here will enjoy having another Qudditch player around. Isn't that right?" Sirius asserted looking at me with a raise of his eyebrow.

I stared at him for a moment before reluctantly nodding my head in agreement and extending my hand in greeting. Victor took it with a vice like grip. I was just about to respond back in kind when a peculiar drawing on his arm caught my eye. If I wasn't mistaken it almost looked like a…

"Harry, why don't you go and show Mr. Krum where he will be staying. I would trust that he would like nothing more than to relax after such a long journey."

Victor quickly took his hand back, interrupting my troubled thoughts. "Of course. Follow me."

We continued to walk along House Black in silence up to the guest quarters. Krum never was the most talkative person in the room, and in this moment I couldn't be more thankful. It was taking everything in me not to bring up the drawing I saw on his inner arm.

"This is where you will be staying. I will come and check on how things are going with you in a couple of hours. We can get in a Qudditch match before supper," I dutifully suggested.

"Zat would be verfect Harry. I vill zee you zen," He responded as he stepped into the guestroom closing the door behind him.

I stared at the closed door for a long time before swiftly making my way to the library.

In the library –

Hermione's POV

I continued to stare at the same page in a book I was reading for the past several minutes. I wasn't making any headway in my studies, which was very unlike me. I blame many things for my current predicament. I blame myself for being so unfailingly female and giving into to my emotional urges. I blame Madame Elise for allowing me to be purchased by Lord Sirius, but mostly I blame Harry James Potter for being so brilliant and devilishly handsome. Yes, it was all his fault that I couldn't focus at the moment.

I never imagined that performing my personal servant duties would be particularly difficult. Muggle-born women have been servants for centuries and have learned to remain unattached to their lords. I just needed to learn to be more like them. That was the only way that I could protect my heart from the inevitable heartbreak and pain that I was setting myself up for. To be so 'intelligent' I could seriously be completely daft when it came to affairs of the heart.

"Hermione," a voice called out to me, disrupting my inner musings.

"Harry," I responded, pretending to be enthralled in my book that I had long since abandoned.

"Give it up Hermione. You've been staring at the same page for the past few minutes now," He said with a smug expression on his face.

I glared at him with mock anger before putting the book aside. I absolutely hated it when he was right. "Fine, you've successfully captured my full attention. What is it?"

"For your own safety, I need you to avoid Victor Krum like the plague," I asserted taking a seat across from her.

"Not that I have any particular interest in crossing his path, but why must I do this?" Hermione asked with a raise of my eyebrow.

"He's a death eater and is therefore not be trusted."

"What in the world would allow you draw that ridiculous conclusion?" She asked in shock and amusement.

"Oh I don't know, perhaps the fact that he has the dark mark on his inner arm. Not to mention he's a Bulgarian, they produce some dark blokes."

"What are you on about? A dark mark on his inner arm? Bulgarians producing death eaters? Not only do you sound racist, you're starting to sound as silly as Ronald. Really Harry, what has gotten into you? I told you being around him for long periods of time causes brain cells to be lost…" She said with a shake of her head.

"Hermione, I'm not joking. He's dangerous. He almost tried to kill me in fourth year!"

"Wasn't he under the imperius curse?"

"That's beside the point!

"Then please tell me what is Harry," She said in exasperation.

This was not at all going the way I had planned. Hermione was looking at me like an escaped patient from St. Mungo's. I needed to find away to make my claim legitimate. At the moment all of my accusations were starting to make me sound like Ron dare I admit.

"I know this may sound a bit bizarre but I am telling you the complete truth. I saw the dark mark on his arm. I think he's been recruited to join Voldermort's forces. I also don't think that his coming here was by chance. Voldermort's planning something and I think Krum is helping him," I concluded trying to sound as serious as possible.

Hermione sighed and leaned back in her chair. I could practically see the wheels turning in her beautiful head. She bit her lip in concentration for a moment before answering me.

"Say what you're telling me is true, and that is a major stretch might I add. What plan do you think Lord Voldermort has that would involve a world renowned Qudditch star?" She asked, searching my eyes.

"I have no idea Hermione, but I plan on finding out," I said with resolve.

Qudditch Pitch, House Black Outside Grounds –

What a prick! I thought to myself as I Krum snatched the snitch from my grasp. The groundskeeper I had made referee blew the whistle to indicate that the match had ended.

"Final score: Lord Krum 8 and Master Potter 7. Lord Krum has won the match," Wesley the groundskeeper announced as we landed in the middle of the pitch.

"Dat vas a good game Harri. You alvost got dee snitch there!" Krum said with what resembled a smile for a Bulgarian.

I plastered a fake smile on my own face as I accepted his friendly handshake. Yes, and I would have won if you hadn't cheated and cut me off at the last minute. I thought to myself. I looked over at Wesley and did not at all enjoy the happy awed expression he had on his face as he listened to Krum ramble on about some move. Wesley was officially fired as referee.

Before I could dwell on those thoughts further I saw my favourite witch start to approach. While I was upset that she had put herself in harms way by making an appearance in front of Krum, I couldn't prevent my face from breaking out into its usual grin whenever she came around.

"Who is diz beautiful vitch?" Krum spoke up with his full attention on the amazing woman before us.

"Hermione. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance Lord Krum," She said bowing her head a little in respect.

"Ah, I halve herd vuch about you Her-my-own-ninny," He said taking her hand in his and placing a soft kiss on it. I saw a red tent start to adorn her beautiful cheeks at the gesture.

"It's HERMIONE and she was just leaving," I cut in, removing his hand from hers. I placed my hand softly on her lower back to guide her away as Krum annoyingly tried to follow.

"Harry what are you doing?!" Hermione whispered turning back between Krum and I.

"What am I doing, what are you doing? I told you to avoid him like the plague. This is not at all avoiding," I whispered back in disapproval.

"About that, I had an idea. Perhaps I should get to know him. I might be able to find out about what he is planning and if he really is who you think he is," She muttered back coming to a stop near the back entrance leading to the main house.

I checked to make sure that we were a safe distance away from said death eater before continuing. Wesley decided to talk of Krum's ear off, which in this moment I couldn't be more grateful for.

"Hermione, why on earth would you think that would be a good idea?" I said in exasperation.

"Harry, you don't get on very well with him. That much is obvious. Why would he want to tell anything to someone who barely says two kind words to him? Additionally, I think that he may find me appealing has a conversation companion."

"Among other things…" I answered with a snort.

She glared at me before continuing. "Well I think it's worth a try. I can take care of myself and I don't see you coming up with any brilliant ideas," she said in frustration.

Unfortunately, she did have a point. As much as I hated the idea of her spending anymore time with the git, I had no clue how I was even going to go about uncovering his plans. I sighed in unwelcomed acceptance.

"I don't like this one bit Hermione, but I have to agree with you I'm getting no where at the moment. The minute something even feels off, you get out of there and you alert me or the household guards immediately," I stressed pulling her towards me.

"Fine," She confirmed looking back at me.

"I'm serious Hermione."

"Hmm, I thought you were Harry," She answered with an amused glint in her eye.

I forced the smile back that threatened to break through. She could be quite humourous when she wanted to be. "Hermione, either we do this my way or we aren't doing it all."

"I heard you the first time. Trust me."

I sighed again before pulling her fully into my arms for a warm embrace. I saw her attempt to struggle in shock, but I could care less about keeping up appearances at the moment. I needed to feel her skin against my own. I would have kissed her right then and there if I hadn't just heard the house servants whispering and giggling to each other inside the house.

Why did I feel like I was sending Hermione into the lion's den?

A/N: Hmm, do you all think that Harry's claims against Krum are legitimate or just wishful thinking? What do you think Voldie has cooking up his evil sleeve? Sorry for the shorter chapter, but I wanted to break this story up a little since I plan on ending it soon (tear). Preview for next chapter: Hermione and Victor Krum spend time together much to Harry's dismay, things get 'heated' between Harry and Hermione, and Krum departs House Black. Reviews are very much welcomed.