An Unexpected Visitor

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Story Notes:
The headlines in the Daily Prophet for the past week have involved the separation of two of the Golden Trio. Divorce still isn’t overly common in the Wizarding world, not like it is in the Muggle world, and it’s especially newsworthy because it involves Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger-Weasley. They had been able to keep the separation quiet for months, but there was no way to conceal it any longer when it came before the Wizengamot for legal approval. Hermione isn’t sure why their personal business is news, especially not for multiple issues of the Prophet, but it’s not as if she hadn’t predicted there would be some news coverage. It’s one reason she and Ron had managed to keep it private for so many months. Fortunately, they are now in a place where they can handle the emotional toll that having their private lives become public can cause.

Today’s headline proclaims the divorce official accompanied by photos taken of them leaving the Ministry yesterday afternoon. There are additional columns discussing gossip about Ron being seen at a pub with Romilda Vane last night ‘celebrating’, as well as references to articles that appeared in previous issues’ detailing possibly reasons for the separation. Despite their professional truce, Rita Skeeter is having a grand old time bringing up old gossip involving Harry as well as Hermione’s relationships with multiple men, none of which are true but do sell papers. People have been taking sides in their lives since the story broke, and it’s bloody frustrating.

She and Ron parted amicably, after much discussion and time trying to make things work, but the attention to their lives is making it difficult for them to move forward. She’s had everything from accusations of her being a scarlet woman to support via verbal attacks on Ron’s character, and she assumes he’s experiencing the same. She’s grateful that Rose and Hugo are at school right now, but she knows even that can’t protect them from the attention and gossip of their classmates. Fortunately, they are old enough to understand, and they’re strong enough to not be bothered by gossip and snide behavior. It’s one of the unfortunate consequences to being in the public eye. Hermione learned that long ago just by being Harry’s friend, and it’s just got worse with her rise through the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

While she doesn’t have the glamorous task of apprehending criminals like Harry and Ron with their work in the auror office, she’s tasked with putting together strong cases that get those criminals sentenced. She’s now Assistant Head, and there’s talk of her eventually taking over, which will make her the first Muggleborn to ever hold the position. The way she handles the politics of the different departments and her success rate of convictions has made her a media darling, even with her connection to Harry. The fact that she’s getting a divorce is considered scandalous by some, especially the Pureblood families who would endorse having affairs before ever legally separating, and there’s been more than one article this week discussing the damage the divorce might do to her political career. Of course, she has no plans at this time for a political career, so she doesn’t really care, but it’s still stressful seeing the things written about by people with no knowledge of the true events.

By the time Hermione gets home from work, she’s on edge and ready to snap. Her day has been unproductive because of the constant interruption from co-workers and owls from people she doesn’t even know expressing their support, concern, or animosity depending on their viewpoint of the situation. She’s thankful that it’s Friday, if nothing else, because she can have two days break from the pandemonium. By next week, there will be something else occupying the headlines, hopefully. She takes off her shoes before heading upstairs to change into something more comfortable than work clothes. The house is too quiet, and she wonders when she’s going to get accustomed to the silence. Ron’s been moved out for six months, and she still isn’t used to not hearing him grumbling about work or listening to the radio.

After changing into a pair of denims and old t-shirt, she pulls her hair back and secures it with an elastic band. She hasn’t been eating well this week, so she knows she should probably make something good for dinner, but she isn’t very hungry. Besides, it’s not that enjoyable to cook for one person. She’s been living on takeaway and prepared meals since the children went back to Hogwarts. She enters the kitchen and checks the cabinets and refrigerator but nothing seems appealing. She finally just removes the stack of menus from the drawer and decides to order pasta from a restaurant in Diagon Alley that offers Floo delivery. Before she has a chance to place her order, she hears a knock on the door. If it’s some well-meaning friend, she isn’t sure she has the patience right now to tolerate the concern and worry.

With a sigh, she puts the menu on the table and goes to see who’s at her door. Her eyes widen when she sees her unexpected guest, and she opens the door quickly just to make sure she isn’t seeing things. “Viktor?”

“Hermione, I hope I am not disturbing you,” he says, smiling as he runs his fingers through his thick dark hair. “I vas in area and vanted to see you.”

“No, no disturbance at all.” She steps forward to hug him, inhaling his scent and relaxing slightly when he returns the hug. “How long has it been? Absolutely ages, I know. Please, come in.”

“It vas after Hugo vas born. Many years.” Viktor enters the house and looks around. “It has not changed very much. I see new photographs. The children are grown now.”

“Rose is fifteen, and Hugo is thirteen. Teenagers now. It’s hard to believe they’re growing up so fast.” Hermione shakes her head. “Time passes so quickly these days. It must be over a decade since you stopped in. What brings you to these parts?”

“You do not look much older than Rose,” Viktor says, reaching out to tug on her ponytail. “Still beautiful and young.”

“Your eyesight must be suffering problems,” she says with a snort. “I’m getting wrinkles and lines in my face. You look good, though. Age makes you more distinguished.” He does look handsome, possibly more than when he was a teen. “That’s the unfair advantage men seem to have. They look better with age.”

“My eyesight is perfect. You still do not know how to take compliment, Hermione.” Viktor grins. “You turn pretty shade of pink, like the roses my mother keeps at her country home.”

“I am not blushing, Viktor Krum. The journey here obviously caused you some mental problems.” She tilts her chin up and arches a brow. “Now quit flattering me and tell me how you’ve been. Are you here on business? Our letters just aren’t the same as talking.”

“I am on holiday. No vork. I took two veeks off so I could visit England again.” Viktor follows her to the sitting room and settles his large frame on the sofa. “It vas time to return. Business is good. My team keeps me busy, and I haff investments that make me money so I can, how you say, be lazy and play with team?”

“I saw your photograph in one of the magazines Rose subscribes to. There was an article about your team and how well they’ve been doing. You fly with them, I believe? At your age, you should be careful.” She rolls her eyes. “My daughter inherited the Quidditch bug in our family, and she finds it most impressive that I went to the Yule Ball with the Viktor Krum. I’ve never confided that you were also my first kiss. There are some things she doesn’t need to know.”

“You should bring her to a match. I vill haff tickets sent for you and the children.” Viktor nods. “It vill be fun. My team is good. They are projected to go far this season.”

“With you as their owner and unofficial coach, I can’t imagine them not doing well. And the children would enjoy attending a match, I’m sure.” Hermione studies him curiously. “Why are you in this area, Viktor?”

Viktor shrugs. “I vas traveling and vanted to see my old friend. You haff never accepted offer to visit me, so I must visit you. I haff missed you, but, after last visit, I knew it vas better to stay away.”

Hermione frowns. “Why? I’ve always enjoyed your visits, Viktor. I know that Ron hasn’t always been thrilled at our friendship, but he never objected when you were in the area and wanted to see us.”

“Not ‘us’. Just you,” he says in a matter-of-fact tone that catches her off-guard. “Veasley vas not happy when I visit. Makes you stressed and tense. Vas easier to stay away. He is not stupid man. When you haff Hugo, I realize it is best for me to, how you say, give up? Surrender. That is vord. It is best to surrender than to keep haffing heart broken.”

“Viktor, I’ve read those Quidditch magazines for years. Ron and Rose have had subscriptions, and I always look for information on you. I’ve seen the many women that have come and gone through your life, you’ve even told me about some of them. So what’s this nonsense about not coming to visit due to a broken heart?” She purses her lips and fidgets slightly because he’s just staring at her with those dark eyes that have always seemed to see through her fašade to the real her even before other boys ever noticed her.

“You vill think I am, vot is vord, fool?” He frowns and rubs his hand over his face. “Crazy. That is good vord. I vas not monk, Hermione. I see vomen, and I try. They are not for me, though. They do not fit. I vait for you because I know ven I vas seventeen that you are girl for me. If I do not haff you, I haff many girls that do not mean anything to me.” He looks at her. “I am believer in fate. Your letters make me happy, here,” he says, putting his hand over his heart. “The vomen make other parts happy, but not happy like you. I do not know how to say right.”

“You shouldn’t be saying things like that, Viktor.” She shakes her head. “We spent time together when I was barely older than a child. We’ve exchanged letters since, but those and a few visits don’t mean that we really know each other. You can’t say things about fate and seriously mean it.”

“My culture is different than yours. I do believe in fate, and I know vot I feel.” He leans forward. “My baba told me that I vould know vhen I meet one for me. I knew when I met you. You do not haff to believe it, Hermione. I believe enough for both of us.” He curses in Bulgarian and gestures with his hands. “I do not mean to talk like this. Ve are not vanting same things now. I know vot I vant, but you do not haff time to know yet.”

“You’re right. We shouldn’t be talking like this. I’m married, and you can’t just show up after a decade and tell me that you’ve wanted me since we were school children and expect me to believe it.” Hermione rubs the back of her neck. It’s a lot to take in, and she’s never known Viktor to be fanciful.

“You and Veasley are still married?” Viktor reaches into the pocket of his coat and shows her a newspaper article from a foreign newspaper. “I vas vorking ven I see this. It says you and Veasley are no more. I change schedule and come here to give you, how you say, shoulder for support? I haff vaited long time, Hermione. I can vait longer. I vant chance to be man for you, now that Veasley has been glupako and lost you.”

“That’s why you’re here?” Hermione takes the article and notices the amount of creases and smudges from fingers. He must have read it several times. She hands it back to him and squeezes his hand. “Viktor, it does mean a lot that you dropped everything to come be here for me. I didn’t expect to see you when I opened the door, and I’m glad you’re here. I really am. But I just ended a marriage that lasted for a great many years, and I’m not ready to start another relationship yet. I can’t promise you anything.”

“I do not vant promises. I know it vill vork out however fate has decided.” Viktor rubs his thumb over her hand. “I just vant chance to know you and for you to know me. I haff vaited long time, and I am finally rewarded vith chance. Ve are friends, Hermione, and I think ve still haff something between us that has been there for years. I am not alvays nice man. I haff temper. You haff seen vomen in my life. They mean something vhen I haff them, but they are not the one. Perhaps my baba vas right about you, but maybe not. Vill you let me stay so ve can know each other again? I vant to help you through this, Hermione. If you vill allow me.”

Hermione rubs her temple and just looks at him. “You can stay in the spare room, and we’ll spend some time getting to know each other again. Friends, Viktor. I make no assurance that it will even become something else. It’s been years since I’ve thought of anyone but Ron as a lover, and I can’t say it’s going to be easy to date again when I’m ready, which I’m not yet. I could really use a good friend, though. Someone who isn’t caught between me and Ron or feels the need to take sides in a situation that’s amicable.”

Viktor smiles. “I can be good friend, Hermione. My shoulders, they are broad, and good for you to lean on vhen it is needed. I ask for nothing else.”

“It really is nice to see you,” she murmurs, moving so that she can hug him. “I was about to order dinner before you came. Are you hungry?”

“Order? Bah. I vill cook for you. I am good cook.” Viktor tightens his grip on her and kisses the top of her head. “It is good to see you, too. Now show me your kitchen.”

She smiles and leads him to it, sitting down at the counter and catching up with him while watching him cook. His visit might be unexpected, and she might not know exactly how to handle everything he’s confessed tonight, but she has a feeling that it’s all going to be alright.