Continuing Tales


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 26 of 45

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They ate spicy salami and cold soup with cucumbers and garlic while Hermione explained to Krum their predicament and how they needed to get to the next Portkey. Ron thought he'd never endured a meal so awkward in all his life. The food was good and a welcome change from the mustard crisps and ham sandwiches that had gotten them through the past two days, but he wasn't about to compliment Viktor Krum on his cooking skills. Least of all when he'd had to sit there and watch him prepare it for them. Ron was painfully reminded of Hermione's comment days ago regarding his brother Charlie's cooking abilities and how fetching she found it. He suddenly wished she'd allowed him to make her a cheese toasty the other day as Krum presented them next with a savory meat dish. Ron was grateful, at least, that Krum had seemed to have prepared this part of the meal earlier as he had simply pulled out a clay pot and heated up the portions over the coals.

"This is quite good," Hermione remarked pleasantly while Ron did little more than push the meat around the copper frying pan Krum had served it in. "Do you cook often?"

"I am not home often. I have a cook who comes 'vith me."

"You have your own cook?" Ron practically choked on his piece of cabbage.

"Yes, but he is in Varna at my house by the sea."

"You have a second house?"

"Yes, I go there in the summer 'ven the season finishes."

"Aren't you still in season?" Ron narrowed his eyes suspiciously. The International Quidditch Season lasted into the middle of the summer, he knew because it always caused issues with the scheduling of the World Cup.

"I did not play in the International League this year. I played in Bulgaria," he explained, "for Sofia."

"So you were playing Quidditch all year?" Ron remarked smugly. His jealousy over Krum's cooking prowess and his personal chef and his seaside home suddenly vanished.

Krum had done nothing in the battle against Voldemort. Despite the presence of many Voldemort loyalists here in Bulgaria, he had not taken a stand against them. He'd simply played Quidditch.

"Yes." Krum sensed what Ron was getting at and he bristled. "People need something to root for in dark times."

"Right." Ron said nothing further on the matter, feeling a strange sense of having one-upped him.

He'd already made a point to keep his hands on Hermione all night, small touches on the small of her back or shoulder that would have been appreciated by Hermione under any other circumstances. She seemed to sense the possessive way he touched her was more to get a point across than it was a display of affection though. When he slid a hand to her thigh beneath the table, he knew Krum could see it and he again felt a sense of triumph.

"You 'vould like more 'vine?" Krum stood up and walked over to Hermione's chair to pour more of the sweet elf-made wine into her empty goblet. Ron frowned at how she shoved his hand off her leg when Krum approached. "Vot about you, Ron? You 'vould like more or perhaps something stronger?"

"What else do you have?" Ron puffed his chest out, even though Hermione gave him a disapproving look at the mention of spirits.

What Krum had was a clear liquid he called rakia. He said it was a Bulgarian specialty, a fierce plum brandy that he guaranteed would raise Ron's internal temperature several degrees with just one sip. It sounded very much like a challenge to Ron so he accepted. He ignored Hermione's warning glare as Krum pulled out two heavy glasses and poured them both full of the liquid. It was clear, but had bright red flecks dancing around inside of it. Ron steeled himself as he looked to it, wondering if it could possibly be as strong as Krum had promised.

"Nazdrave." Krum raised his glass and poured it back in one quick and fluid motion. Ron followed suit, trying his hardest not to react as the hotness burned down his throat and then worked its way through his insides. He didn't taste anything, no plum or fig or cherry or apricot like Krum had described. Whereas firewhiskey had a pleasant warming sensation, all Ron could feel with this was the uncomfortable sensation that someone had set fire to him from the inside out. Surely, Krum couldn't actually like the taste of this or obtain any immense pleasure from drinking it. His only pleasure was probably in seeing Ron struggle with it.

So Ron ignored the burning from mouth to stomach and slid his empty glass over to Krum.

"Another," he creaked.

"Ron," Hermione warned, her displeasure was obvious, likely recalling the last time he'd gone out drinking and how it had ended.

"Another?" Krum looked impressed.

"Yes." Ron wiped his mouth and prepared himself. Krum made no attempt to disguise his smile as he poured the next glass just as full as the last one. And the next one and the next.

Ron would not back down from the challenge Krum seemed to have issued. Each time Krum looked to him in question after he finished one, he felt a fierce determination not to allow the Bulgarian the satisfaction of doing something better than him. He ignored Hermione's protests and pleas, the tugging on his arm and the hissing warning in his ear that he stop after the fourth glass. Finally, she appealed to Viktor and demanded a tour of the house, putting the drinking contest on hold. Ron wobbled to his feet, doing his best to disguise his level of inebriation. This was far worse than when he'd stumbled out of the pub in Ottery St. Catchpole. He had to walk very slowly just to keep from tottering over.

Hermione set herself apart from him on the tour at first, walking apace with Krum while he showed them the immense garden and the study and the piano room. Ron took hold of her arm as they climbed the stairs and the look she gave him told him the only reason she allowed it to stay there was because she knew he needed it to steady himself. He didn't say a word when Krum showed them the expansive library that had walls full of books from floor to ceiling.

"Oh, I'd love to have my own library one day," Hermione remarked covetously. Ron rolled his eyes as Krum remarked how it was indeed his favourite room in the immense house. He showed them where the toilet was next and lastly pointed them down a corridor where they had their choice of vacant bedrooms. Ron was pleased, despite her obvious annoyance with him, when she informed Krum that they would only need one room.

"You are sure this room is all right for the both of you?" Krum eyed the two of them, but as he seemed to have done all night, spoke only to Hermione. "I have many others so you 'vould not have to share."

"Trust me, this is fine." Ron smirked from his position behind Hermione. They were standing close together, like they were when waiting for the cabs at the train station that morning, and he snaked both his hands around her waist the same way he had done then. They rested well beneath her navel in a manner so intimate he knew Krum could not ignore it. Hermione looked annoyed, but did not shake his arm away. Ron felt a small triumph. Krum could have his bloody library and his second home and his personal chef and his rakia.

He had Hermione.

"I am sorry if I wake you tomorrow. I wake up very early," Krum informed then.

"Me too," Ron fired. Hermione rolled her eyes for the umpteenth time that evening.

"I 'vake up to run the mountain, you see," Krum clarified and Ron thought he saw a challenging glint in his eye.

"Right. Well, maybe I'll join you."

"Please, Ron, you don't run," Hermione laughed dismissively. Ron bristled at her words, but his only obvious reaction was to move his hands lower still around her waist. "Thank you so much for your hospitality." Hermione turned her attention back to Krum, ignoring the southward movement of Ron's hands.

"I am happy to help."

"I don't know what we'd have done without you," Hermione replied gratefully.

"Right then," Ron spoke out suddenly, unable to hear them exchange pleasantries any further. "Good night." He broke away from Hermione to shut the door, which he practically slammed in Krum's face. Hermione whirled around to him as soon as the door closed.

"That was rude!" She punched him in the arm with a tiny fist in response to his curt dismissal. "You don't have to be such an arse to him!" She punched him again. "He is letting us stay the night in his home, might I remind you."

"Yeah, so he can wine and dine you!" Ron snorted dismissively. He wondered if he was slurring his words as much as he thought he was.

"Oh, come off it," Hermione snorted dismissively. "He welcomed us in, no questions asked."

"He welcomed you in," Ron corrected and reached for her.

"Don't be stupid." She brushed him off and walked past him. "You made it pretty obvious we were together."

"Yeah, don't sound so unhappy about it," he called after her.

"There's a difference between letting him know we're together and being all over me." The irritation in her voice was hard for Ron, even in his drunken state, to ignore.

"Don't sound so unhappy about it," he repeated grumpily.

"It was embarrassing, you touching me like that in front of him."

Ron scowled as he turned around and realised the room had not one but two beds and she was putting her belongings next to the one closest to the door.

"I'm sorry my touching you is so revolting," he slurred angrily. The discovery that Krum had the only guest room on the continent with two beds was making him more annoyed by the minute.

"My point is, he already knew we were together."

"Like that'll stop him," he grumbled under his breath, ignoring how lovely the phrase sounded coming from her lips a third time. They were together.

"Now you're being ridiculous," she scoffed.

"Am I?"

"Yes. You're drunk. Just go to bed."

"So I'm supposed to just sit here and watch him pour you wine and chat you up?"

"You're drunk, Ron, and he was not chatting me up!"

"Oh, yes, he was," Ron scoffed. "He didn't say a single thing to me unless it was about his wine or his Quidditch salary or his effing private cook!"

"Well, you didn't say a single thing to him unless it was to try to put him down!" Hermione fired back.

"Oh, come on, the man played Quidditch all year while we were risking our lives," Ron laughed.

"Well, I think he's right! There is something to be said for keeping people's spirits up at a time when the rest of the world is falling apart."

"He played Quidditch all year," Ron repeated with a shake of his head and a laugh.

"Why can't you just be kind to him?" Hermione sighed as she began turning down the bed she had selected.

"Why is it so important to you that I am?" Ron asked from the other side of it.

"Because if I don't hold any resentment toward Lavender after everything you did with her - " Ron could hear the emphasis on everything and he rolled his eyes at the comment and though he was quite sure Hermione could see it, she continued on. " - I don't see why you can't just do the same with Viktor!"

"Because I didn't care about Lavender, I told you that!" Ron exploded. He felt a twinge of shame at the confession, even in this fuzzy state where everything seemed so much simpler, when he thought about poor Lavender, covered in bandages and probably still stuck in the hospital wing at Hogwarts.

"And I don't care about Viktor!"

"But he cares about you!" Ron finally blurted out what had eaten away at him for years.

"And Lavender didn't?"

"You were the thing he prized most dearly!" Ron finally released years of frustration. "You said yourself that he told you he had never felt the same way about a person!"

"That was over three years ago."

"And you kept writing to him!"


"So I know those kind of feelings just don't go away." Ron pressed his hands to his chest. "I've seen the way he looks at you!"

"But I'm not looking at him, I'm looking at you!" she cried.

"He's still looking at you," Ron insisted, turning his back and slowly walking over to settle things on what, he now realised, would be his bed on the other side of the room. He moved slowly, keeping one hand on the bed to steady himself.

"And so what? Are you saying you don't trust me?" she called after him.

"I don't trust him! Come on, Hermione, the wine, the dinner, the library?" He laughed, turning around to face her once he reached the opposite side of the bed.

"He's being a good host," she defended.

"Yeah, he's a good host who wants to get into your knickers," Ron spat and no sooner had he said it did he know he'd gone too far.

"ENOUGH!" she shrieked so loudly Ron was confident Krum could probably hear it in his suite down the hall. The thought that Krum could hear them fighting made him uncomfortable. "He's going to help us get to Australia. That is all I care about."

"It sure doesn't seem like all you care about," Ron muttered, unable to stop himself. "Oh, Viktor, this soup is delicious! Oh, Viktor, I love your garden! Oh, Viktor, what a beautiful library!" he mimicked. Hermione hurled the pillow in her hand across the room at him.

"You are delusional!" she shrieked.

"And you're naïve!" Ron fired back as he ducked from the pillow. "He's twenty-two years old, Hermione! And a beautiful girl shows up on his doorstep needing help and – oh yeah – it just so happens he used to get off with her!"

"Will you leave it alone already?" She sounded exhausted.

'You sure you do not vant to stay in THIS room? This room that's closest to mine?" he imitated Krum in his best thick and lowly Bulgarian accent.

"You know what? Maybe I will go stay in that room!" Hermione huffed and picked up her beaded bag.

"Fine!" he waved to the door.

"I'll go!" she challenged.

"I won't stop you!" Ron thundered back.

"I'm going!" Hermione shouted the words, but her feet led her toward Ron and not the door.

"Great, maybe Vicky can take you the rest of the way to Australia!" he fired, once again spitting out words he hardly meant. His feet traveled toward her as well, so they now stood face-to-face in the middle of the room. Her head was tilted up to his, her hands on her hips and his hands balled up into fists, in a position they'd so often assumed when squaring off at Hogwarts. The colour in both their cheeks was rising.

"Why are you so jealous?" she thundered.

"Why are you so stubborn?" he thundered back.

And then he was kissing her. Not sweet and slow like the kisses they'd shared back at the Burrow, nor the passionate way they'd come together on the train. This was jealousy and frustration expressed the only way he knew how right now. Tongues dueled for dominance, the same way their words had moments ago. He clutched her face tightly between his hands, practically squeezing her cheeks between them. Her arms raised and fell time and again, as if unsure whether to hold him or not. Then as suddenly as he had come at her, she pursed her lips and wrenched herself away.

"No!" She pushed him hard in the chest with both hands and shoved him back. "You are unbelievable!"

"What?" he remarked dumbly, quite sure she had just been enjoying herself.

"You don't just get to kiss me and make it all go away!"

"I was just trying to get you to be quiet," he admitted with the tiniest attempt of a smile. "Come on, you know you want to kiss me." He tried to move forward and move his arms around her waist, but lost his balance.

"Trust me, I really don't," she lurched backward from him and wrinkled her nose. "You're drunk."

"Come on," Ron laughed and tried to sidle up next to her, but this time she wouldn't even let him near her.

"You don't get it, do you? This isn't funny."

"I just wanted - "

"Jealousy doesn't look good on you, you know," she remarked. There was more sadness in her voice than he expected as she turned on her heel and walked back toward the bed closest to the door.

"Doesn't look good on you either," he spat then, knowing he should quit, but somehow unable to stop sparring. "Asking me how far I got with Lavender and what I did with her in the middle of a snog!" He reminded her of their conversation on the train to Budapest.

"That's different. That was real. That actually happened."

"And you're telling me you never snogged Krum?" He was suddenly hurtled back to an angry sixth year conversation with his sister.

"I did," Hermione admitted wearily. Maybe it was the rakia, but Ron felt like somebody was taking a knife to his insides at the confirmation. "No!" she cried as she watched Ron's palms curl into fists. "You don't get to be angry!"

"That bloody oaf," he hissed.

"It takes two people to kiss somebody."

"So you'd rather I be angry with you?"

"I'd rather you not be angry with anyone!" she laughed. "It happened. The same way things happened with you and Lavender."

"So what I told you on the train - that doesn't bother you at all?" How he wished there were a switch to just make him stop talking.

"It's…in the past." The halting words were forced and measured.

"You're telling me that has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that you've barely let me touch you since?" Ron laughed. "That it doesn't drive you mad thinking about someone else doing those things to me?"

"I told you it was hard to hear," she replied, but Ron could see he might as well have punched her in the gut. "But I also told you I – I knew it was stupid and I just needed time to get over it. And I am – well, I was – I mean, I want to." She looked suddenly sad then. "You know, I really thought after everything we've been through this year…" Her voice drifted away like she was reliving every moment from the last twelve months. "I thought you were over this."

"Over what?" Ron remarked dumbly.

"I can't keep having this conversation with you about Viktor," she sighed. "You have nothing to be jealous of. Either you trust me or you don't."

"I didn't say I didn't trust you," Ron protested. "I said I don't trust him."

"Then you don't trust me," she stated simply.

Ron didn't tell her he thought her logic was off. He groaned and collapsed backwards onto the colourful quilt. Hermione did the same on her bed. For a long time they both just lay back silently on their respective beds. He couldn't believe she thought he didn't trust her. He couldn't understand how she didn't understand his distrust of Krum had nothing to do with her. He lay back and stared at the wood beams on the ceiling. They had started to spin. He wanted to say something, anything, but he didn't trust himself to say anything about Krum that wouldn't make her angrier.

"You know, I haven't thought about him at all since the train," he remarked suddenly in an abrupt change of subject, knowing he didn't need to explain who he was talking about. "Not once until just now."

"That's good," Hermione remarked supportively. He could see out of the corner of his eye that she was looking over at him, but he didn't turn his head. His gaze remained fixated on the dark wood beams that carved up the ceiling of the second story.

"It doesn't feel good," Ron confessed glumly. He hated forgetting about Fred. He'd been so preoccupied all day with trying to figure out where to go and what to do that his dead brother hadn't once crossed his mind. But now he remembered him and all he could do was repeat over in his head that Fred was dead. Dead Fred. He hated how it rhymed and quickly changed his focus back to Hermione and Krum, as unpleasant as it was. "I just - I know he still fancies you. I know he does."

"Whether he does or doesn't has nothing to do with us," Hermione sighed wearily, "why can't you see that?"

"I just don't like thinking about him kissing you," Ron admitted.

"Then don't think about it!" Hermione laughed at the obvious solution.

"I can't…not. It's like all I can see when I look at him."

"You need to move past it. I was fifteen, Ron."

"I can't help it," he remarked again.

"Yes, you can."

"Do you think about it?" he asked quietly, turning his head to her from his position atop the bed.


"When you kiss me, do you think about me and Lavender?"

"No," Hermione shrugged. "I mean, I didn't – not until you told me you'd…you know, done more than kiss her."

"So now you do?"

"Now I…I don't know."

"Well, it's why you stopped things, isn't it?" he accused. "It's why you would hardly let me kiss you last night on the train."

"It's part of it."

"So you're being a hypocrite!" he spat, sitting up suddenly and ignoring the dizzy sensation between his temples as he did. "Telling me not to think about it when you do too!"

"I said part of it."

"What's the other part of it?"

"I'm not talking about this with you now when you're drunk," she stated firmly.

"Did you like it?" Ron chose to fix back on her snogging.


"When Krum kissed you? Did you like it?"

"Do you want me to lie?" She finally sat up on the bed as well and looked to him as she leaned back on her hands.


"Yes, of course I did," Hermione admitted without hesitation, shrugging her shoulders helplessly. "He was my first kiss." Ron winced at the words, which somehow felt like salt rubbed into an open wound.

"How many times did he kiss you?" he pressed.

"No, I'm not going to do this." She replied firmly. "I cannot keep doing this."

"Do what? I just asked a question," he remarked simply.

"You need to move past this." Her voice was shaky now and had a surprisingly desperate, pleading tone to it that alarmed Ron. He could only recall hearing it once before, when he'd stormed out of the tent so many months ago and left her and Harry. "If I can move past what you did then you can move past a kiss!"

"It's not just a kiss, why can't you see that?" Ron thundered, but Hermione let out a deep and heavy sigh that all too clearly signaled that that was the end of the conversation.

"Can you turn the other way?" Her voice sounding surprisingly cold.

"What?" The random request caught him off guard.

"I want to change into my pyjamas…can you turn the other way, please?" she clarified. There was a sharp edge to her voice that Ron hoped was just an attempt to disguise her nervousness. He thought about the manner she'd changed clothes in the sleeping car this morning and lamented how quickly the comfortable connection and familiarity between them had changed.

"I'll just leave," he sighed and rose to his feet, hardly believing that once again he'd made a mess of things. Stupid Viktor Krum. Ron cursed him as he walked down the long hallway to the toilet. Part of him wished he would cross Krum right now, right here in the hallway. He'd ask him the questions Hermione would never answer like how many times he'd kissed her and what exactly was in all the letters she wrote him. He'd find out whether she let Krum kiss her neck and touch her the same way he did. He'd tell Krum all about their year on the run, about destroying Horcruxes, and battling Death Eaters. He'd tell him how he'd killed a werewolf and defied Voldemort himself. He'd tell him he was being recommended for an Order of Merlin First Class.

He didn't see Krum in the dark hallway, however. So he just brushed his teeth and washed up and when he returned to the room, Hermione was already in bed.

She was turned on her side and had the covers pulled up around her, but her eyes weren't closed and he knew she could see him. She blinked once when he entered the room, but said nothing. Ron walked glumly to his side of the room and sat down on the bed to pull off his trousers. This was not how he'd anticipated the night. After spending last night together, he had hoped perhaps tonight they might share a bed. But things had gone pear-shaped and he reckoned it was all his fault. He heard Hermione stir in her bed across the way and he wondered if she was as affected by the sound of him undressing as he had been that night in the sleeping car.

There was no holding of hands here though and no 'good night'. There was only Ron blowing out the last candle that lit the room and crawling into the bed. He tried to understand how he had he messed things up so badly. He found it hard to believe it was just his jealousy over Krum. Being in this grand house, with its great kitchen and immense stone walls bothered him. Seeing the way Hermione acted with him, even through the foggy goggles that came with four helpings of rakia, bothered him. Enduring another day without kissing her bothered him. The fact that she seemed unable to understand any of that bothered him most of all.

"You're just not the kind of girl a bloke forgets about," he finally confessed, exhaling loudly as he spoke. His words echoed about the inky black room. "Not even after four years."

There was no reply.

Ron rolled over in the darkness and did his best to fall asleep.


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 26 of 45

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