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Old August 29th, 2008, 3:53 pm
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hermy_weasley2  Female.gif hermy_weasley2 is offline
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Join Date: 17th July 2003
Age: 31
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Re: FAD: Last Author Standing -Entries!

FAD IV WeekIV

Entry 1


***


Matchmaker

The goalkeeper dressed in current blue lined with gold trim tugged the front of his broom erratically to the left and then the right to match the feint of the large chaser who was approaching. The man dressed in scarlet held the football-sized quaffle away from his body and let fly a tremendous throw, catching the keeper in mid-turn. The quaffle arced through the air and curved to carry between the right hand gap of the three tall goal posts behind the Puddlemere United keeper. Caught facing the wrong direction, the keeper pulled back on his broom and became inverted, hitting the quaffle at the last possible second, striking a glancing blow on the quaffle with the edge of his sweep, causing the errant missile to barely miss the goal.

Oliver Wood held his arms in the air as one of his chasers collected the quaffle and raced down the pitch. The home crowd roared in amazement at Oliver’s block and Wood felt his chest swell at the adulation. His victory was short-lived as the crowd gasped in shock and immediately became silent. Oliver stared down the pitch and his heart sank. Amid an adoring circle of his team mates hovered an imposing man astride his broomstick. His head was closely cropped, sitting atop broad shoulders and a thick neck. Even smiling, he looked intimidating and Oliver felt his own shoulders droop as he realized Viktor Krum, the pre-eminent seeker of the Bulgarian national team had defeated the United by seizing the Golden Snitch. The match was over.

***

Ron Weasley waited patiently outside the corridor that led to the players’ dressing rooms. His wife, Hermione, stood in anxious anticipation next to him. His sister, Ginny Potter, was the senior Quidditch correspondent for the Daily Prophet, and had pulled some strings to get them tickets to this highly anticipated exhibition match between Britain’s leading club, Puddlemere United and the two time reigning World Cup champions, the Bulgarian National Team. Now the couple was biding its time as Ginny interviewed the players from both teams. One by one, the players made their way out. Ron looked up and waved as Oliver Wood approached.

“Tough match, mate.” Ron said sympathetically to his old friend. “You managed to keep it close until the end. You had some incredible saves. They should name a maneuver for that last one.”

Oliver nodded forlornly. “It didn’t matter in the end. I sure wish Viktor Krum would retire. That man makes it hard to be competitive. I don’t even think Ginny could beat him. I guess you’re not the only one who has a reason to not like him.”

Ron gave his friend a strange look. “I’ve got nothing against Krum. I kind of admire his ability. He’s the player of our generation. You can’t dislike a legend.” Ron didn’t seem to notice Hermione’s surprised glance at his statement, but Oliver’s look was definitely puzzled.

Oliver decided not to belabor the point and smiled. “He certainly was legendary today. Look, I’ve got to go.” Oliver lowered his voice to a whisper and smiled conspiratorially. “I have a date with Gwenog Jones.”

Ron smirked. “Out of the frying pan and into the fire, I see.”

Oliver laughed out loud and waved. He strode off and disappeared into the crowd of well wishers. Ron watched him leave and then felt his wife’s gaze on his back. He turned and looked at her.

“What?” He asked.

“Nothing.” She responded tersely and then she turned and watched the door. Ron smiled and watched her standing there. The years, if anything, had made her only more beautiful. He still felt the familiar lump in his throat and for the millionth time, he wondered how he’d gotten so lucky. The loose bramble of her bushy long hair was both wild and orderly, all at the same time and it hung below her shoulders framing her beautiful face. He knew that if he closed his eyes, he could picture every contour, every angle of her face and he could see the fire in her light brown eyes as they changed with her every emotion, mostly going from confusion, to delight to love as they looked at him. This stunning creature had picked him, out of all the others. She’d chosen to marry him, to have his children, despite her superior intellect and razor sharp instincts. She could have had the pick of any man in the wizarding world, and it wasn’t as if she hadn’t had options. Even the great Viktor Krum had shown interest, but in the end, she opted for the tall, awkward man with blazing red hair. She’d chosen him and he was forever grateful.

There was a murmur from the hangers-on standing outside the ropes and Ron looked from Hermione to the dressing room entrance. Sure enough, Viktor Krum had emerged and was walking towards them. He wore black jeans and a loose black shirt and had a large gym bag over his shoulder with the scarlet emblem of the Bulgarian National Team. As always, he had a permanent scowl on his face, his eyebrows furrowed into a knot as he approached the legions of fans. His face softened when he saw them and a surprising smile crossed his lips. He walked up purposefully to the waiting Weasleys and extended a hand to Ron.

“Well done, as usual, mate.” Ron said, his voice friendly, which seemed to catch Hermione off guard.

Viktor shrugged his shoulders modestly. “I got lucky, off course. You’re friend Wood is a very good keeper. I don’t think we could have kept up with them otherwise.” His voice had a heavy Slavic accent, his “w’s” sounded like “v’s”. He turned and smiled warmly at Hermione and he lowered his voice to a soft whisper. “Hello, Hermione.”

Hermione, normally composed, seemed off a bit and slightly flustered. She stammered at the greeting and her face flushed. Finally, after a few failed attempts, she managed to get the words out.

“It’s nice to see you, Viktor. You look good, er, I mean, you looked good, um, I mean you looked good out there, on the pitch, um, I mean, good game.” Annoyed with herself, Hermione clamped her mouth shut and stared at some interminable speck of dust on the ground.

Viktor gave Ron a quick wink and took Hermione’s hand in his own. “Thank you very much, I’m glad you could make it. You look very good, yourself. You are well, yes?”

Hermione nodded and gave a furtive glance at Ron, who seemed to be trying to stop himself from laughing. He was actually enjoying her discomfort, she fumed. Hermione’s anger overcame her awkwardness and she held her chin up and faced Viktor directly.

“I am very well, thank you.” She said in a clear voice.

Viktor had a wry grin on his face. “You are married, yes?”

She nodded and jerked a thumb back towards Ron. “Yes, I married Ron.”

“Good. Apparently you two realized vot ve already knew.” Viktor said seriously.

Hermione was surprised by his response and even more so when she noticed that Ron was nodding in agreement. Something was strange about this entire encounter, yet she couldn’t place her finger on it. For all his strengths, one thing she’d always noticed about her husband was his relative insecurity about himself. He was especially self-conscious about his worthiness for her love, and despite her attempts to the change his outlook, he’d never really shaken the idea that she’d settled for less. Hermione had a history with Viktor Krum and Ron should be in complete withdrawal, right about now. Instead, Ron was warm, friendly and downright complimentary of her former boyfriend and she didn’t know why.

Viktor drew up to his full height. “I must go. Ve vill play the Holyhead Harpies tomorrow and I’m sure Wood will be telling them all of our secrets.” Hermione’s head spun. Did Viktor Krum just make a joke? Krum shook her hand and then turned to Ron. “You vill come to our next match?”

“I’d love to, mate. It should be a good one.” Ron answered enthusiastically.

Viktor nodded. “Good, I vill leave you tickets. You should come, maybe ve can have dinner after?”

“I look forward to it. We’ll see you tomorrow.” Ron clapped the big man on his shoulder and it was all Hermione could do to keep herself from passing out from shock.

Viktor leaned in to Ron’s ear. “I am glad you took my advice.”

“It was good advice.” Ron replied. Viktor nodded his head and walked into the throng.

Ron and Hermione watched him go. Ron seemed oblivious to Hermione’s stare that was fixated on the back of his head. He reached down and grasped her hand tenderly and led her towards the floo network outside the stadium.

***
They ran some errands and then went through their normal argument about who would drive home. As usual, Ron lost and soon they were on their way. Hermione was unusually quiet and Ron could tell she was trying to put some sort of complex puzzle together. Her job at the Ministry had been fraught with obstacles as she pushed legislation to the Wizengamot to offer freedom to the non-human magical species. Ron was used to these periods of silence, knowing that her prodigious intellect was typically trying to solve the myriad of problems she usually faced. He did what he normally did, which was look out the window and watch the countryside pass by.

Hermione went over the day’s events and finally jerked her head over towards her husband. “All right, Ron, out with it!”

Ron had been lost in thought, thinking about his most recent Auror training session and so he was honestly surprised at her outburst.

“Out with what?” He replied.

“What is with you and Viktor? You were positively friendly. You had to be at least a little jealous.” She finally blurted out.

“Why?” Ron’s voice rose in pitch, his brain racing through their meeting with Viktor. “What are you talking about?” Ron gave his best “who me” expression.

“You know what I’m talking about. When we were at Hogwarts, you couldn’t stand the man. I dated him. I thought you’d be a little more emotional.” She eyed him as she concentrated on the road.

“Merlin’s beard, Hermione, that was almost ten years ago! Maybe I’m more mature?” His delivery had been straight on and serious. Despite that, he knew it sounded ridiculous. Hermione obviously agreed, because she snorted at the thought.

“Oh, mature? I see, so what do you call that whole thing when you transfigured George’s new fireworks display into exploding rhubarb pies and charmed them to launch themselves at Lee and George?” She said with skepticism dripping from her voice.

Ron shrugged his shoulders. “That was funny, Hermione.”

She laughed, despite herself. “It was funny, but hardly mature.” Ron nodded sheepishly. “Come on, Ron, what gives? What’s going on?”

Ron took a deep breath. “I like Viktor. He’s a great Quidditch player. He might be the best seeker in history.”

“That’s not it, Ron. Tell me, please.” The last word came out softer, not pleading, but definitely indicative of Hermione reaching her last thread. Ron recognized her tone and sighed.

“It’s just that, well, Viktor may be the reason we’re together.” Ron spoke softly, almost mumbling. Hermione’s foot went to the brakes and she pulled over to the side of the road and turned off the car. She turned sideways in her seat and looked at him incredulously. She reached her hand up to his cheek and smiled.

“What on earth are you talking about?” She asked.

Ron smiled. “It all started at Bill and Fleur’s wedding. You looked so beautiful and then I saw how you dropped your bag when he talked to you. I was immensely jealous. Anyway…”

***

Ron walked to the punchbowl and poured himself a glass, hoping the act would help deflect the rising anger in his chest. He looked across the dozens of wedding guests and could not keep his eyes off of Hermione. She looked beautiful, of course, more beautiful than he’d ever seen her. Why was Viktor here, anyway? He took a deep pull of the drink and then inhaled several deep breaths. Any reasonable person would not see Viktor as a threat, wouldn’t even care, considering the weighty tension that hung in the air. The Dark Lord was ascending and their world had become distinctly more dangerous and here he was, worried about Hermione’s ex-boyfriend. That was hardly reasonable. Yet, he couldn’t escape the feeling. He was more than irritated and frankly, he didn’t know what to do about it.

He looked back over the party, his eyes searching out the object of his agitation. Viktor was sitting at a table, surprisingly, next to Harry. Harry had taken a dose of polyjuice potion and was attending the wedding in the guise of a long lost Weasley relative, “Cousin Barney.” A sudden sense of panic over rode his jealousy. Ron began to wend his way through the crowd towards them. Harry was taking a dangerous risk in being here, given he was a marked man and Krum, even innocently, could be in a position to give Harry’s identity away. He might be many things, an irritant and a great seeker, but Krum was a powerful wizard, Durmstrang’s champion during the Triwizard Tournament. He might be able to figure out who “Cousin Barney” really was.

As Ron approached the table, he saw Harry getting up. Just before Harry left, he heard Krum rumble in a deep voice.

“Vot is the point of being an international Quidditch player if all the good-looking girls are taken?” By then, Harry had sauntered off, and Viktor looked up, noticing Ron’s approach. Viktor grunted audibly, but waved Ron over to a nearby chair. He looked at Ron, as if appraising his worth.

Finally, Viktor exhaled audibly. “You are a lucky man, Ron Weasley. I envy you.”

“What are you talking about? You’re Viktor Krum. You’re the greatest Quidditch player ever! You could date whomever you want.” Ron responded, the surprise in his voice evident.

“I can not date your Hermione. I can have any girl except the one I vant or your sister. By the vay, how ‘big’ and ‘jealous’ is your sister’s boyfriend?” He watched curiously, as Ron snorted to himself.

“Oh, he’s very big and very jealous. What do you mean ‘my’ Hermione? You’re the one that dated her, right?” Part of Ron was trying run away as fast as he could from where this conversation was going, but the other part was positively elated by Viktor’s choice of words. He waited at the edge of his seat.

Viktor laughed out loud. “I don’t mean to insult you, Ron Weasley, but if you are going to be part of Hermione’s life, you vill have to try to be a little more perceptive.”

“Hermione and I are just friends. She obviously thinks I’m daft or slow or something.” Ron had no idea where that had come from.

“You are only ‘friends’ because you are so stubborn, I think. If you have not seen vot I have seen, then you do need help.” Viktor said solemnly.

“I need help? Who can help me? You?” Ron’s defensive response didn’t seem to offend Viktor. In fact, Viktor actually smiled, a rare sight, indeed.

“I vill help you, because I do care about Hermione and her happiness.” Viktor’s smile disappeared. “You must make sure you deserve such a vonderful voman as she.”

Ron swallowed his knee jerk response. He took a deep breath. “What would you do? I’ve been Hermione’s friend for so long, I don’t know if I can. She knows who I am, already.”

Viktor nodded. “That is the key, I think. I was an outsider. Hermione liked me because of the physical attraction.” He held up his hand as he saw Ron’s jealousy and insecurity begin to rise to the surface. “But she vould never be mine, because she could never know me. She knows you, Ron Weasley. She knows you and loves you for it. All you really have to do is to be there for her. Listen to her and support her. See things from her point of view. I am far too self-centered to do that for her, but you can.”

Ron’s brain went through six years of memories in six seconds. He wasn’t necessarily a slow person, in fact, Ron could be very perceptive. Ron’s biggest flaw was his inability to recognize the obvious until the Bludger actually hit him in the head. That’s what was happening now. He rubbed his forehead as if he’d been struck physically.

Viktor smiled at him, once more and rose from the table, one eye on a group of unattended ladies giggling in the corner. “Remember, Ron Weasley, you control how this vill go. Do not let her down, be loyal, think of vot she needs of vot she cares about, especially now, in these dangerous times.” Krum reached a meaty hand out towards Ron and shook it with a decided force, almost making Ron wince. He turned and started walking towards the girls he’d been admiring and did not look back. Ron watched him go, his mind going wild. He turned and saw Hermione standing near the dance floor and his heart melted. He did love her, he decided, he would support her, as best as he could.

There was a tumultuous uproar near the front gates. A whispery white patronus in the shape of a lynx bolted through. “Minister Scrimgour is dead! The Ministry has fallen! They are coming!”

Ron bolted up. He had to find Hermione. Their dangerous world had just become a whole lot worse.

***

They sat staring at each other across the car. Hermione had to remind herself to keep breathing and she noticed a chagrined look on Ron’s face. She looked at him, worried. There was something more to the story. He read her face and frowned.

“I almost lost everything. When I left you and Harry during the quest, I did precisely what Viktor warned me about. I let you down when you needed me most. I don’t think I’ve hated myself more than that moment. While I was sitting at home, all I could think about was what he’d told me and how I failed. In the end, that’s what made me come back. I might have lost you completely, but I wasn’t going to fail you again.” He looked down at his lap, sadness from the memory tearing through his conscience.

Hermione processed everything in her own precise, thoughtful way. There were traces of dampness in the corners of her eyes. Ron looked up and met her gaze and felt the warmth of her love. She leaned forward and pressed her lips on his, wrapping her arms around his neck. He felt a charge of electricity in their connection, coursing through from the gentle touch of their lips down to the ends of his toes. Their embrace became more heated, more passionate and they unlocked the reservoirs of love each had never known they’d had. They were a couple, they had been for years. They’d professed their love for each other on countless occasions and had meant it each and every time. This time, they didn’t need to speak, their kiss spoke volumes. This time, they weren’t just a couple, they were two parts of a greater whole. The circle had completed, the cycle had come full turn. They were one in love and friendship, and had been for far longer than they’d realized. Finally their kissed ended and they sat together breathlessly enjoying the lingering silence of the moment.

Hermione started the car and reached out her hand to his face. She smiled gently and caressed his cheek with a softness born of love. “Let’s go home, Ron.”

He smiled as she took her hand from his face to engage the drive. “Great, I’m starving!”

He honestly didn’t know why her hand that had only few seconds before been lovingly caressing his cheek, suddenly landed on the back of his head with an audible smack.



Last edited by hermy_weasley2; August 29th, 2008 at 11:46 pm.
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