Thanks for reviewing you guys. I know that Harry's appearance has raised hopes for some of you H/H shippers. I just want to repeat that in this fic, Harry and Hermione are just friends, I'm not sure who's going to get the girl, but it won't be Harry. :)
Hermione was rudely awoken early the next morning, much earlier than she would have wanted. She was aware of the heavy, ginger weight that had landed on her head bringing her out of what had been rather happy dreams. "Crookshanks," she grumbled sleepily trying to push the cat off her head without opening her eyes, instead of a successful dislodgement, however, Hermione came out of the battle with a scratched and bleeding hand. Crookshanks gave a low growl followed by a mewling noise. Hermione grudgingly opened her eyes. Crookshanks seemed able to detect this movement and stepped back to watch her. She rolled over and looked at the window, the sun wasn't even up yet, the sky was just beginning to lighten. "Well, what do you want cat?" She asked grumpily as she sat up nursing her hand, which was still bleeding slowly. Crookshanks just looked past her at the window, turning to look again, Hermione noticed something different. Sitting on the edge of the sill in the corner pressed up against the glass was a very damp, brown lump. "What in the world?" She said to Crookshanks, the wounded hand forgotten, Hermione went to the window and opened it. The brown lump, which turned out to be a small owl, tumbled side ways onto the desk. Hermione immediately snatched up a small towel from the pile of clean laundry that hadn't been put away yet and picked up the bedraggled creature. Rubbing gently Hermione tried to warm the cold owl. "Poor thing," she whispered to it, "what were you doing out in that rain last night?" The owl gave a small clicking sound and proudly stuck out its weak little leg. Attached to the shivering appendage was a letter. After she pulled the letter off, the tired owl hopped from her hands onto the back of Ginny's chair, which seemed to make a rather pleasing owl perch. The small owl was soon dead asleep while Hermione carefully unrolled the wet piece of parchment being careful not to smear the already bleeding ink.
My Dearest Hermione,
I have not yet gotten a letter from you. I know that I mentioned that I would like to come and see you. As it turns out, our Quidditch team is planning on doing a charity match against England on Sunday, so we're going to be coming to London tomorrow. This will allow me at least a day to come and see you. I have looked up the address of your Weasley friends, and will be dropping by on Saturday. I know that this doesn't give you any warning, but I really would like to see you, to take you out. I'll try to arrive there around noon.
With All My Love
Hermione read the words of the letter over and over again not quite comprehending what they said. Viktor was coming? Viktor was coming on Saturday? She was going to see Viktor again?
"Saturday!" She gasped feeling as if the floor had suddenly fallen out from below her. She sat down hard on the chair jarring the owl awake. He gave an annoyed hoot and tucked his head back under his wing. "T...today is Saturday, he can't mean today, he can't come today. I'm not ready to tell him, I haven't prepared, I haven't planned. He can't come today." Hermione was pleading with the letter as if it had some power over the person who sent it. She glanced around the room hoping for a commiserating look from someone, anyone, but the owl was fast asleep again and Crookshanks too, had drifted off. Hermione clutched the letter in her hand and left the room. Darting upstairs she stopped in front of the door labeled Ronald's Room, taking a deep breath she cracked the door open and peered in. Two huddled lumps could be seen, one on the bed, and one on the floor. Making her way to the lump on the floor, she kneeled down next to Harry and gently shook his arm.
"Harry," she whispered, looking nervously at Ron asleep on the bed. "Harry," she said a little louder, giving his arm a little jerk.
"Coming Aunt Petunia," Harry murmured in his sleep.
Hermione groaned inwardly and gave a very hard tug on Harry's arm. "Harry," she hissed in his ear.
"Wh...What? Hermione? What are you doing?" Harry looked up at the fuzzy blur in front of him. Reaching next to his head, he found his glasses and slipped them on. "Hermione what time is it? Is there something wrong?"
"He's coming Harry, he's coming today, I can't see him yet. What am I going to do? I don't know what to say, what can I say?" She spoke so quickly that it took Harry a moment or two to piece together what she was saying.
"Who's coming?" He asked her groggily.
"Viktor," she groaned, "Viktor is coming today."
"Viktor?" He asked, confusion all over his face, "wait, you mean Krum? Krum is coming here?"
"Shhh, you'll wake up Ron and he's the last person that I want to talk to about this." Hermione said furtively.
"Oh thanks Hermione," Ron grumbled opening his eyes, "what're you doing in here anyway? The sun isn't even up yet. And who's coming here?"
"Krum," Harry responded before he could catch the warning look from Hermione. He watched, dismayed, as Ron's sleepy face suddenly hardened, his eyes getting dark.
"Oh, Vicky is coming here is he? What, couldn't stand to be away from his leetle Herm-own-ninny?" Ron looked at Hermione, watching as her fists clenched and she flushed angrily, then he continued. "Or did you beg him to come?" In a high sing-song voice Ron imitated Hermione, "oh Vicky, you must come, I'm trapped here with these horrible Weasleys. I'm so in love with you that I can't even see how much of a git you are, please, you must come and rescue me from this poor trash." He would have continued with his insults but Hermione had jumped up from Harry's side and lunged at Ron bringing her palm down hard against his cheek.
"Ron, I swear, one more word and I'll hex you, ministry be damned. And you have no idea what you're talking about, you blind, pig-headed, prat!" Hermione pulled back from Ron, her eyes flashing, her hand tingling painfully.
Ron just stared up at her in complete shock. He wasn't sure if he had ever seen her this angry before in his life. Her whole body was shaking, her bushy hair seemed to almost vibrate around her head, her hands were clenched into tight, white fists. He wondered at the temerity of his words, he knew that Hermione didn't think that about his family, he wasn't sure why he had said something so mean. He could feel his apology well up inside of him but before it could bubble forth, the pain in his cheek started to sink in. All feelings of remorse vanished as his head began to throb furiously. He stood up angrily and pushed his way past her and out of the room. Down the stairs he went not pausing to say good morning to his parents. He slammed out of the house and into the yard, turning to look over his shoulder he glared angrily at his window. "Of all the nerve!" He yelled once he had gotten far enough away from the house. At the very edge of the Weasley's large, overgrown lawn, was a small pond. An outcropping of trees hid the pond from the Burrow making it an ideal place to lay low when the busy household got a little too hectic. Ron had spent many summers by this pond gathering frogspawn with Fred and George, not to mention all the salamanders that they had dug up to hide in Ginny's room. Sitting down on a large rock he started to skip small pebbles angrily across the water. "Stupid Hermione, doesn't know anything," he muttered to himself but his anger was finally starting to subside. He cautiously touched his cheek, it was still tender, leaning over to look into the water he could still see the imprint of Hermione's little hand on his cheek. He laid back on the rock, the sun was finally starting to peak over the horizon line filling the sky with bright orange highlights, none of the storm from yesterday remained. He just couldn't believe that Hermione would have the nerve to come in and gloat about Krum like that. Didn't she know how that made him feel? Ron paused at this thought because, of course, Hermione had no idea about how he felt when she talked about that stupid Quidditch player. He and Harry had stayed up most of the night talking about Hermione. Ron felt that it was already a lost cause, trying to get her to understand, Hermione had Krum; what could she possibly ever see in poor Ron Weasley? Angry again he jumped off the rock and started to storm around the pond, driving a few sunbathing gnomes back to their little holes. Last night he had given up on pretending that Hermione meant nothing more to him than a friend, he really couldn't ignore the odd, but enjoyable, queasiness he felt when she was around. Harry had figured a lot of stuff out last night, much faster than Ron had. He hated to admit that Harry was right when he had told Ron that he was just being a jealous git when it came to Krum. Harry for some reason seemed to think that Hermione wasn't as fond of Krum as she seemed. But why would she come into gloat like that then? Ron considered this some more; actually, now that he thought about it, Hermione hadn't seemed all that happy over the prospect of Krum coming to visit. "Not happy at all," Ron mused as he turned back to the house.
"I cannot believe him! How dare he say that to me?!" Harry sighed pulling a pillow over his head as Hermione paced around the room, squeezing a Chudley Cannons pillow in her hands, probably wishing that it were Ron's neck.
"Hermione," he groaned through his pillow, "I'm sure he didn't mean to say that, he's just very sensitive about Krum, and you did wake him up. I've been sharing a dorm with Ron going on five years now, I can attest to the fact that he is not a morning person." He looked at her hoping that his words might calm her down, but she just gave him a very dark look and squeezed the pillow a little tighter.
"We'll be getting along fine and then I mention Viktor and he's suddenly a different person, a very mean person." Hermione was still glowering around the room, everything in it was reminding her Ron. Everything was a loud, glaring orange.
"Ahh, young love," Harry grumbled wishing that he was still asleep.
"What?" Hermione had spun to look at him, "what did you just say?"
"Oh...um nothing, just talking to Hedwig over there," Harry pointed at the sleeping owl in the corner. Harry groaned inwardly, "if Ron doesn't work out his feelings with her I might not ever get to sleep again". He had stayed up all night listening to Ron talk about Hermione. Harry had suggested that he just tell her how he felt, but Ron had looked horrified at the very thought. Hermione finally sighed and sat down on the bed, finally dropping the crumpled pillow onto the floor. She looked up at him; the anger was fading from her gaze.
"Harry," she said softly, looking at him with large, worried eyes. "Ron doesn't really think that about me, right? He doesn't think that I'm shallow enough to be bothered by him not having any money?" She looked at him, obviously worried now, the thought that Ron could think that about her made Hermione feel a little nauseous.
"No Hermione, Ron does not think that about you," Harry replied firmly. "He's just venting his frustration, that's all." He grinned at her and she smiled back, albeit a bit weakly, but a smile nonetheless.
Hermione had left Harry in order to get dressed for breakfast. She sat now in the kitchen reading The Daily Prophet, it was already eleven-thirty. Nervously, she glanced around the room. Harry and Ron were playing a game of exploding snap together. Fred was reading a letter from Angelina, while George was helping Mrs. Weasley clean the kitchen. Hermione down right refused to talk to Ron. He couldn't really blame her for being mad, what he had said was rather awful. Fred suddenly dropped the letter and looked up at Ron gasping.
"Ohmigosh, Ronniekins! What's happened to your poor little face?" Fred stared at Ron as if seeing him for the first time, his mouth agape.
"Shut up Fred," Ron muttered without looking up. This had to be the tenth time that one of the twins had mentioned the slightly discolored cheek of their younger brother.
"You know Fred," George glanced over his shoulder at Fred, "I've heard that Hermione there has a mean upper cut."
Fred gasped in amazement and looked Hermione up and down, "you don't say? Maybe she could teach us a thing or two."
"Nah, no need for her to bother herself, I'm sure that Ron could show us, he seems rather well acquainted with it already." George sat down next to Hermione and grinned at Ron.
"Shut up George," Ron muttered again, still refusing to rise to the bait.
"You know Hermione, one wouldn't think that little old you could be so vicious," George winked at her; she gave him a warm smile.
"Yeah, it must be all those brawls she gets into at Hogwarts, I swear, whenever I have a detention, there she is. McGonagal complains about her all the time. Never seen such an unruly student, I swear." Fred said keeping a straight face. The thought of Hermione being unruly was hilarious. George suddenly let out an astonished cry and dropped the towel that he was using to dry off the plates.
"Oh dear, Ron, what happened to your face?" He asked in a shocked voice. Ron just groaned and left the kitchen.
Both twins chuckled merrily and Hermione was glad to see that they seemed to be getting along again. It was rather disturbing for them to be fighting. She glanced at her watch again; it was noon. She took a deep, steadying breath and tried to continue reading the paper. There was distant knocking sound coming from the front of the house. Hermione sighed; Viktor was always amazingly punctual. Harry gave her a hopeful nod as she walked past him out of the kitchen. She could hear the twins start to ask Harry questions.
"Harry where is Hermione going? Who's here?" They asked in unison.
"Krum, he's in England for a day or two and they're going out." Harry replied.
"What?!" Hermione winced inwardly as George yelled from the kitchen. Picking up her pace a little she came face to face with Viktor. Mrs. Weasley was about to show him into the house.
"Herm-own-ninny," he said happily and wrapped his arms around her. Before she could respond his lips were upon hers. She felt a sudden surge of hope, everything will be fine, the feelings will still be there; but they weren't. She was glad to see Viktor, but there weren't any butterflies in her stomach when he pulled back and gazed deep into her eyes.
"My dear Herm-own-ninny, it is vonderful to see you. I am just sorry that it cannot be for more than a day." He squeezed her tighter to him and pressed his lips to hers again. Hermione could feel someone staring at her from behind, but she couldn't bring herself to turn and see whom it was. "I thought that ve could go on a picnic, the countryside around here is very pretty, no?" Viktor's smile faltered as he gazed at Hermione's crestfallen look. "Do you not vant to go? Ve could find something else to do..."
"No no...Viktor, it sounds wonderful." Hermione said quickly hoping that he hadn't seen the disappointment in her eyes when he had kissed her. There was a loud bang from somewhere upstairs and Hermione pulled Viktor towards the door. "We should probably go now." They made their way down the path to where a car waited for them. It was too conspicuous for them to ride a broom across the English countryside, and Hermione couldn't apparate yet. The drive through the moors was very beautiful, Hermione tried to lose herself in the passing fields, but it was hard to forget about Viktor when he had his arm around her. The driver was asking Viktor all these questions about Quidditch and what it was like play for Bulgaria. Even with this distraction, Viktor had noticed that Hermione was being distant, he already knew long before she would speak those fateful words later on what was going to happen that day. Pulling her close Viktor gently pressed his face into her hair, relishing in the soft, delicate smell of her shampoo.
After what seemed like hours, even though Hermione knew that it had only been twenty minutes, the driver pulled the car off onto a small dirt road that trailed up into the rolling, green hills. Soon they were stopped, the picnic basket unloaded, watching the car pull off again with the promise of returning in two hours. The basket was filled with good food and Hermione could almost have enjoyed herself if she wasn't dreading telling Viktor that things were over. Viktor didn't seem to be fairing much better either. He kept giving her long, searching looks that she found rather disturbing. When he looked at her like that she could almost feel him looking into her mind, seeing her guilt, seeing George. Much sooner then she would have liked, the food was gone, and they were left sitting across from each other silence bearing down over their heads.
"Viktor," Hermione began in a quivering voice, "Viktor, I...I'm so sorry." It suddenly became very hard to see, tears filled her eyes and Hermione swallowed back a sob.
"Shh...Herm-own-ninny, shh." Viktor came across to her and wrapped his arms around her, "it's all right. Everything will be fine, I'll be fine, I promise." He said to her softly.
"What? But I haven't even told you yet. I haven't even told you..." But Hermione's voice became lost again as she struggled not to cry. Viktor brushed her hair back from her face and kissed her forehead. "Viktor...I'm not in love with you." She breathed out shakily.
Viktor took a long, deep breath, "I know that Herm-own-ninny, I have known that for a long time." He gently tilted up her chin so that she was looking into his eyes.
"What do you mean you've known for a long time? I didn't even know for sure until yesterday." She stopped trying to hold back her tears now, they streamed down her face, but she didn't look away from him. She didn't understand, but it seemed like he did. Viktor seemed all knowing as he sat there giving her a sad smile.
"I knew that you did not have the same feelings that I had. I knew that last year at Hogvarts." He smiled at her, picking up a napkin he gently wiped tears off her cheeks although it did little to stop the outpour.
Hermione sniffed hard and prepared herself for the worst part, "Viktor, that isn't all, I have to tell you, I kissed someone. I didn't do it on purpose," she pushed on quickly when she saw the sudden spark of anger flare in his eyes, "it was an accident, I never meant to hurt you." With that Hermione burst into great racking sobs and buried her face in her hands. What little anger that Viktor had felt disappeared as he watched the girl cry, her pain was evident, it seemed even worse than his own if that was possible.
"Herm-own-ninny," he said gently stroking her head, "part of me knew that something like this vould happen. I should never have hoped to keep you vhen you already belonged to someone else." When Hermione didn't look up or stop crying, he continued on. "At Hogvarts I thought at first that it vas Harry, but then I noticed the other boy. I noticed how he vould vatch you. I vas just happy to have you to myself for a little vhile; I couldn't really expect anything more."
Hermione was so shocked at his words that she stopped crying and looked up at him. "George watched me? At Hogwarts?" she asked him.
Viktor gave her a confused look, "I don't know a George, I vas talking about your red-haired friend, Ron?"
"Ron? No Viktor, Ron and I are just friends, that's all." She said softly, although as the words came out she wasn't even sure if they were friends at the moment.
"I know how friends look at each other Herm-own-ninny. I know vhat I have seen." He said this very firmly because he had seen how Ron looked at Hermione. He had watched the three of them together: Harry, Ron, and Hermione. At the time he had thought that Harry was the dangerous one, but when Hermione came to visit he had realized that it was Ron. Ron, the boy that she had talked about all the time, even though she was generally angry with Ron when she talked about him. The anger was what had made Viktor realize that he had no future with Hermione. The passion that could flare up so easily when it came to Ron was never in their relationship, not on her side at least. Viktor sighed deeply and stood up pulling Hermione along with him. "Come Herm-own-ninny, I'll take you home now."
Hermione stood out at the end of the path watching the car disappear. She stood there even longer remembering what Viktor had said. They had ended everything rather well she supposed. She had no idea how Viktor could be so understanding about everything. He had kissed her good bye and promised to send an owl when he got back to Bulgaria; Hermione hoped that he would. Turning towards the Burrow, Hermione surveyed the house; all seemed quiet. Hermione figured that it was only four in the afternoon, everything had happened so fast with Viktor. Sighing, she started to walk towards the house; she didn't really want to go in yet. Distantly she heard an odd plopping noise. Walking through the bushes and around strange wizard trees, Hermione soon came upon a pond. She had never noticed it before, it was rather secluded, the large trees that surrounded it made it hard to see from the sky. She heard another plopping sound and glanced to her right, sitting there on a rock was Ron. He hadn't noticed her yet; he was staring glumly at the murky water, skipping pebbles along the surface. Slipping quietly through the underbrush, Hermione came up behind him and stealthily sat down on the rock. He seemed so lost in his own world, but Hermione didn't mind, it was nice to sit here with Ron and not fight, even if the only reason was because he didn't know that she was there. After a few moments longer, Ron gave a soft sigh and began to stand up. Turning around he gave a short cry at finding Hermione sitting directly behind him, her chin resting upon her pulled up knees. Stumbling backwards, he lost his footing and started to fall off the rock. Hermione lunged forward and grabbed his hand, but Ron had more momentum going and he pulled her right off. They landed with a great splash in the dark water. Several nobbily little gnomes shook their fists at them as the wake splashed up over the sunbathers. Ron tried to stand up, only to lose his balance again on the slippery rocks underneath and fall back. Hermione was a better swimmer than Ron, having taken muggle swim lessons a few years ago; she easily treaded the water as she watched Ron splutter angrily as he fell back into the water yet again. Hermione couldn't help herself, she started to laugh, this brought his attention back to the reason why he had fallen off the rock to begin with.
"This isn't funny," he gurgled as he swallowed a mouthful of brownish water. A lily pad hanging off one shoulder, he tried to stand up, to regain some shred of dignity. But the slippery rocks wouldn't hear of it and he fell back over.
Hermione just laughed harder and harder, "it is too funny, look at us!"
Ron looked over at her, she was drenched, the brown water had slicked her hair back and her wet clothes clung to her body. Ron rather liked the way she looked right now. He wasn't sure when she had gotten so beautiful on them. Hermione just grinned at him and then swam past him, reaching up for a low branch that stretched out over the water, she grabbed a hold and used it to help maintain her balance on the slippery rocks. He watched her slip out of the water and climb back onto the rock; she then lay down on her stomach and held out a hand to him.
"C'mon Ron, I'll help you." She smiled down at him; he liked it when she smiled at him. Taking her hand, he soon found himself next to her on the warm rock. "I'm sorry I scared you Ron," she said softly, pulling her knees back up to her chin.
"S'okay Hermione." He paused and looked out at the pond, "did you have fun with Viktor?" He asked trying to sound friendly. Hermione looked at him suspiciously for a moment.
"You know, that's the first time that you've called him by his name." She said softly. Looking away from him she sighed softly, "and no, I didn't have much fun with Viktor today."
He looked up at her rather hopefully, but she wasn't paying attention to him anymore, she seemed lost in thought. They sat quietly, letting the sun dry them, for quite some time. Finally Hermione seemed to snap out of her thoughts, she turned to him with a questioning expression.
"Ron..." she began softly, "we're friends, right? I don't know what I'd if we weren't."
He looked at her with a puzzled expression, was this because of what he said earlier? He looked away from her, feeling guilty. "Of course we're friends Hermione, what a silly question."
She smiled at him warmly and then put her arms around him giving him a tight hug. Ron stiffened momentarily then instinctively hugged her back. He held her tight, feeling how warm she was, realizing how much he liked sitting here like this with her. He decided then that he wouldn't let her go, that they would stay like this forever, that nothing would come between them. But then Hermione let go, and before he could say anything she was off the rock and walking towards the Burrow. She turned and waved at him before disappearing behind the trees.
**I'm sorry about Viktor... I know that some of you were rooting for him. Don't get me wrong, I love Viktor, heck I'd date him. However, let's look at the logistics of this shall we? He lives in BULGARIA... Anyhoo... Please R/R. :)