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Chapter 9: Viktor's Fortress
Hermione did some quick sleuthing via the Ministry of Magic in London. After she discovered Viktor Krum's address, she, Harry, and Draco were off again. This time, it was to Romania.
Harry found his mind wandering yet again. Apparently, at one point in his life, Severus Snape had loved more than one woman. It was obvious which one he'd chosen; Lily was his devotion, yet the potions professor had to have attempted to mend his ways at some point. Otherwise, he never would have given Narcissa the time of day. Nor would Severus have cared so much about Draco.
The three of them had their own speculations, but Harry and Hermione mostly kept silent for Draco's sake. It was in poor taste to speak ill of a woman who lay in a coma, and in front of her son to boot.
Harry was still an avid Quidditch fan. Though little was said about Viktor Krum's wife in the media, if anything at all, one thing that Krum's fans knew was that he had purchased a small castle with his millions. Harry knew that with all of Viktor's hangers-on at Hogwarts all those years ago, that Viktor had never liked people, so he was now showing the world precisely what he thought of them by living in a fortified manor. Hermione and Harry simply gawked at the size of Krum Fortress; Draco snorted at them.
"The boy who defeated the Dark Lord, afraid of a castle?" he mocked.
Malfoy had kept his snarky comments to a minimum, mostly due the gravity of the situation his mother was in instead of any newfound sense of politeness. However, Harry and Hermione still saw glimpses of the old Draco. Never before had Harry been grateful to be insulted by a Malfoy, but in this case, it was a good thing–because it showed Draco was still fighting and had not given up.
Viktor Krum had sentinels pacing the dark walls of his castle. There was even a moat.
"I'm surprised he doesn't have a fire-breathing dragon," said Draco.
Suddenly, four sentinels pointed their wands at them and one of the sentinels yelled out something in a language Harry didn't understand.
"We don't know what you said!" Hermione yelled back..
"HALT, WHO GOES THERE?" the sentinel called out, this time in thickly accented English.
Harry looked at Hermione in exasperation.
"You didn't tell them we were coming?"
"Well, no, I didn't think of that..."
"Hermione, nobody just shows up at Viktor Krum's fortress unannounced and expects to simply waltz inside!"
"Honestly, don't any of you two think?" Draco asked in annoyance. "Surely they'd know who you are, Potter. You are a celebrity yourself." Then Draco shoved him forward just a bit.
Harry went to protest, but it looked like the sentinels were about to open fire until Harry called out, "I'm Harry Potter, and I have with me Hermione Granger...and Draco Malfoy!"
"Harry Potter?" the sentinel said. The man came down from his perch and took a good, long look at Harry. Harry almost sighed. If he had a Galleon for each time he'd been gawked at...
"It really is a pleasure to meet you, sir!" the sentinel said, quite obviously beside himself to be standing by Harry. Then he asked Harry for an autograph upon producing a worn out piece of paper. Harry decided to play his celebrity status to the hilt.
"Why, thank you, my good man," he said, shaking the sentinel's hand. Hermione, taking her cue, pulled a quill out of her small little bag and handed it to Harry. "To whom should I make this out?"
"To Skender Vasile," answered the sentinel.
"And how do you spell that?"
Hermione and Draco stood there impatiently, waiting while Harry got matey with the sentinel, Skender Vasile.
By the time all of the sentinels had gotten autographs from Harry, Draco was about to march away and find another way inside but decided against it when wands were again drawn by the sentinels.
"No sudden moves," they said.
"Fine, but can we go in now?"
"Yes," Hermione said. "Mr. Potter, Mr. Malfoy, and I are here to discuss some urgent business with Mr. Krum and his wife."
After waiting another ten minutes, upon one of the sentinels presumably running to inform Viktor of his house guests, Harry, Hermione, and Draco were all allowed inside.
While the outside of Krum Fortess was anything but inviting, the interior was far more desirable. Tapestries and drapes and floor coverings of every size, shape, and hue adorned the manor. Little soft features such as flowers, knickknacks, and family pictures adorned the large room in which the three of them were taken to wait.
One of the largest photos on the wall was of a striking dark-haired woman in a white wedding gown; it was Arachne's bridal picture. She wasn't smiling, exactly; rather she had a playful look on her face that was very sly. Her hair was long and straight and flowing and it was so black that it had a blue sheen to it in the sunlight. Then the bride in the photo burst out laughing and said, "Viktor, are you going to come over here?"
"She is lovely, no?" quizzed the real Viktor, upon catching his house guests staring at the picture.
"She looks like my mother," Draco said, mesmerized, "only with black hair."
A woman who looked just like the photo stepped into the room behind Viktor.
"Hello," she greeted, I'm Arachne." Then she turned to her husband. "Aren't you going to introduce me, Viktor?"
"Of course, my dear. This is Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and...I'm sorry, I don't recall your name...?" Viktor was at a loss when it came to the blonde young man in the room.
But Draco stepped forward and introduced himself: "My name is Draco Malfoy, and I'm your half-brother."
A/N: Dear Reviewers, Thank you for your responses! Your encouragement helps me want to keep writing...so far I've written a chapter per night for 9 out of 10 nights! Woohoo! ~Rae Carson =]