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Evening Star

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The last glow of sunset still blazed in the west over the green hills, but already the first few stars were visible if Viktor turned his head to face the east, towards his home. Not home any longer, he reminded himself.

Better to be here, helping to fight against... even in his own mind he whispered the name. Voldemort. The simple fact that Karkaroff had once been a Death Eater would have been enough for Viktor to choose the other side; not that he didn't disagree with everything from Voldemort's ideas to his methods.

But even if he had been a pure-blooded Muggle-hater, he would have turned against the Dark Lord for the sake of the person sitting beside him: Hermione Granger.

She was quiet, close but not touching, until Viktor put his arm around her and she leaned very slightly against his shoulder.

Hermione would be the last to call herself beautiful, but she was to Viktor. Her features might be ordinary but the fire in her transformed them; her eyes flashed whenever she talked about the research she'd been doing, how she was working out ways to destroy the Horcruxes, to counter Voldemort's Death Eaters, to find his hiding place so that Harry could face him. Her passionate intensity called out the best in him, made him want to dedicate himself to doing whatever she needed.

What would his life have been like if he hadn't been the Durmstrang champion in the Tri-Wizard Tournament years ago? If he hadn't met Hermione, begun corresponding? There had been times when he thought she cared for him only as a friend, but when he'd been able to return to England and see her once more, he had felt in his heart that she was the only one for him, and vowed to do everything he could to be worthy of her.

In the curve of his arm, she moved a little closer, lifting her hand to point out the appearance of the evening star.

Until the war was over, he knew he could not ask, but afterward, Viktor had no doubts now, Hermione would marry him.