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Fore Play

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Hermione Granger hated Quidditch.

Of course, during her school days she had attended matches and supported the Gryffindor team, but mainly she was there to support Harry rather than having any vested interest in the match itself. Even when she was in attendance she would always be nose-deep in a book during the match, Ron more than enthusiastic for the two of them screaming and shouting his head off the whole time. She suffered many an evening listening to Ron and Harry drone on and on about the barbaric sport; Hermione would purse her lips, knitting away furiously as they discussed their favourite teams and players, argued about the most effective strategies, mused over the gnarliest injuries. It bored and irked her senselessly.

Ironically, it was her distinct lack of interest in anything related to Quidditch that caught Viktor Krum’s interests in the first place – Hermione was the only person in the entire school who didn’t swan over him because he was a world-famous Seeker. In fact, they never spoke about the game at all. It was more than this that drew him to her, of course – during the Triwizard Tournament he had taken to studying in the library every day, trying to pluck up the courage to speak to the pretty witch. When he finally did, he was surprised at how easy she was to talk to; they talked about their schoolwork, their homelife and families, their dreams and aspirations for the future – but never Quidditch. And that suited both of them just fine.

After Viktor had returned to Durmstrang – after the Dark Lord had returned – they had kept in touch, Hermione writing to him every week keeping him well-informed of her studies as well as the growing danger in Britain that threatened to spill over to the rest of the Wizarding World; she would tell him how much she missed him, how his words of comfort were a source of strength for her during those dark days. Then without warning he had heard nothing from her. For months. Wanted posters for the Golden Trio had sprung up everywhere as the fight for freedom finally spilled over the British border and planted itself firmly at his feet.

What was he to do? He was in Bulgaria and Hermione was Merlin knows where; nobody knew whether she was dead or alive. He did the only thing he could – he came to Britain to fight. He had joined the Order of the Phoenix, desperate for any information about the woman he loved. He had heard snippets here and there, but nothing concrete. But he kept fighting and kept faith that she was still alive, still out there fighting what seemed an unwinnable war. Then came the night of May second – it had started out as mundane as any other could during a war, patching up injured Order members who had narrowly escaped capture or worse at the hands of a group of Snatchers. Then word got to them all – Harry Potter had returned to Hogwarts, and the Dark Lord was on his way to confront him once and for all. Finally this was going to end, one way or another.

“Iz Hermoninny vith Harry?” he had asked. Nobody knew for certain. But Viktor did. He knew in his gut that she would be there. He had snatched up his wand and headed straight for Hogwarts for the Final Battle to fight. To find her. When Voldemort had fallen and the battle had been won, Viktor found Hermione afterwards and told her had come for her.

“Why?” she had asked. “Why would you put yourself in danger for me?”

“Because I love you,” he had replied simply. They had embraced then, and he never let her go again.

There were a quick succession of marriages in the aftermath of the war; Harry and Ginny, of course. Ron and Cho a while later. Then Hermione and Viktor had made their vows to each other, had two beautiful children, bought a big house in the English countryside and lived happily ever after.

For a while.

After the war, Viktor was able to pick up where his Quidditch career had left off. Hermione may have hated Quidditch, but Viktor obviously loved the sport and he was a damn good Seeker. She would support him of course; she never complained about the long hours he spent away from home training, even though she missed him terribly. She would attend all of his games even if more often than not she would be nose-deep in a book. She was always on hand to patch him up if need be - she lost count at the number of cuts and grazes and broken bones he came off the pitch with. She’d purse her lips and knit furiously while Ron, Harry, Cho and Ginny chattered incessantly about the game they had literally just watched in the after-match celebrations. And she had consoled him when he had lost the final match of his career to Egypt in the World Cup final. She put up with it all because she loved him, and because when they went home in the evening, they didn’t talk about Quidditch. Anything but Quidditch.

She loved him so much, that she had grudgingly supported him coming out of retirement to play one final match, his last chance at winning the Quidditch World Cup. Hermione however, was worried; Quidditch was a dangerous sport, and as fit as he was for his age Viktor was not a young man anymore. But despite her protests he had shrugged her off her concerns declaring, “I alvays swore zat I vould vin ze Vorld Cup before I die. Zis is my last chance.”

It was the one match Hermione hadn’t brought a book along to. She watched her husband soaring through the sky with a feeling of growing trepidation. At thirty-eight he was old for a Seeker, but he had always taken care of himself. He had trained hard in preparation for the match, and based on what she saw he had never played better in his life.

The final moments of the match would be seared forever into Hermione’s mind. Viktor and the Brazilian Seeker were neck in neck, soaring higher and higher into the dark, cloudy sky threatening a downpour at any moment. The Brazilian Seeker looked as though he were about to steal victory from Viktor, but at the last moment he lurched forward and snatched the Snitch out of the air, claiming victory at last. As the crowd roared so did the thunder and the rain began to pour, but Viktor didn’t care. He circled the stadium, punching the air triumphantly as the tiny snitch fluttered furiously in his hand. Tears streamed down his cheeks mixing with the rain, a look of sheer elation written all over his face. In that moment, Hermione’s fears had melted away as she screamed and cheered with the other spectators, her heart swelling with pride.

Then, lightning struck.

The roar of thunder and blinding of flash of light struck the crowd momentarily dumb. Then Viktor had slid off of his broomstick plummeting towards the ground far below, and everyone had screamed.

Viktor had always promised himself that he would win the World Cup before he died, although he certainly hadn’t expected both things to happen at precisely the same moment. It was perhaps a little short-sighted on his part to be soaring so high above the stadium brandishing a metallic orb during a thunderstorm. Not that hindsight mattered much to Hermione after that. Widowed at the age of thirty-six with two small children to care for, she didn’t have much time to think about what they could have done differently. The cruel hand of fate had brandished victory within Viktor’s grasp before snatching him away from Hermione forever.

The irony wasn’t lost on her, of course. Viktor had survived a war only to be killed during a bloody Quidditch match.

Hermione hated Quidditch.