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Fly Close to Me

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If you had asked Katsuki Yuuri a year ago if he'd ever find himself sharing the same sky as Victor Nikiforov, he'd have said "NO!" with emphatic hand waves, then probably would have buried himself under the covers in his room. 

After all, he was a dime-a-dozen Quidditch player and had only made Chaser on the Mahoutokoro team by accident - a stray bludger had taken out the first-string flyer and he'd subbed in at just the right time to score a few winning points before their opponent caught the snitch.  He'd managed to hold his place on the team for the next four years due to sheer determination and constant practice, and had been made captain because he was one of the oldest players left on the team (although technically Yuuko and Nishigori were older by nearly a year even if they were in the same School Year).  And it was only because the rest of his team were exceptional - especially little Minami Kenjirou, their Seeker - that they'd made the semi-finals of the inter-school Quidditch championship. 

And if it hadn't been for the Hogwarts stairs trying to kill him, it was doubtful that Victor Nikiforov would have even known who he was.

The Mahoutoko team had only been at Hogwarts, the host for this year's championship events, for two days and Yuuri was still trying to figure his way around the school.  So when the step that had been firm under his foot one moment suddenly disappeared without warning, he was caught completely unaware.  (And who had thought that having moving staircases, trick steps, and ghosts was a good idea for a school?  Were they seriously trying to kill their students?)  Yuuri had flailed for something to grab so that he wouldn't plunge three stories when a firm hand had caught his, pulling him back up to safety. 

"Are you okay?"

Yuuri looked up and froze at the familiar face and voice.  "I - uh - yeah - "

"Good."  Victor Nikiforov, Keeper for Koldovstoretz and winner of Witch Weekly's "Most Heart-shaped Smile Award" four years running, was smiling down at him.  He looked even more beautiful close up than he did on the posters on his wall back home.  "Chris fell nearly two floors yesterday - thank Merlin for cushioning charms."

"Stupid stairs, huh?"  Yuuri croaked out then could have hit himself because talk about stupid.  And was "Chris" Christophe Giacometti, Beauxbaton's Keeper?  There were rumors in the Quidditch magazines that the two Keeper's knew each other.

Victor didn't seem to think it was stupid because he laughed freely, his eyes sparkling.  "What were the Hogwarts founders thinking, da?"

"Yeah."  Victor didn't seem to realize that he was still holding Yuuri's hand and Yuuri certainly wasn't going to bring it to his attention - he was too busy ordering his palm not to sweat. 

Unfortunately, Victor seemed to realize that himself and he let go of Yuuri's hand, slowly.  "You're Yuuri Katsuki, Chaser for Mahoutokoro, da?  You are heading to the pitch?" he asked, as if noticing the broom in Yuuri's other hand for the first time. 

Yuuri nodded, aware that that he was blushing a little.  "I, um, thought that I should get accustomed to it?  Ours is very different..."

"Tell me about it!" Victor said with a laugh.  "My first year on the team, the Championships were at Mahoutokoro - and I was defending rings right above the ocean!"

And still they'd won, thanks to Victor's Keeper skills.  Yuuri had been sitting in the stands, watching with awe and wonder, as Victor flew effortless through the sky, his long silver braid streaming behind him.  It was what had made Yuuri try out for the team the next year, after practicing with Yuuko all summer.

"Before you go - a commemorative photo?" Victor asked, pulling out a magiscroll, one of the new Wizard devices modeled on a Muggle cell phone. "The best Keeper and best Chaser together!  Smile!" 

He didn't wait for an answer, throwing an arm around Yuuri's shoulder and holding up the magiscroll to snap their picture.  Yuuri hoped that he didn't have too much of a deer-in-headlights look on his face, although past experience was against him.  It must have turned out well because Victor beamed at the result.

"Perfect!  I will send you a copy," he added, thrusting his device into Yuuri's hands for him to input his contact information.  Feeling a bit surreal, Yuuri typed in his name and information, then handed it back to Victor.  Victor smiled widely and tapped at the device for a moment.  "There!"

"Thanks," Yuuri said, then added awkwardly, "um, I left my 'scroll in my room but I'll check it later?"

Victor's smile faded a little, then returned as he said, "Enjoy your practice."

Yuuri nodded in reply and hurried down the stairs, taking care not to step on any more problem spots.  Once out on the pitch, thankfully deserted at this time of night, he flew in circles until the flush in his cheeks cooled.

It wasn't until he was climbing back up the stairs that he wondered why Victor had been on the staircase to Ravenclaw tower.  The Koldovstoretz team was lodged with Slytherin in the dungeons....

 

 

Chapter Text

The next day's practice went as well as could be expected, given that their team was stuck with Yuuri as Captain.  Their first match was in two days, once all the teams had arrived and settled in, and Beauxbatons would be a formidable opponent.  Although Kenjirou caught the snitch every time during practice, and their pass plays had been drilled until they could do them in their sleep, Yuuri's nerves were still strung tight.  So while everyone was at dinner, he grabbed his cloak and broom and slipped out to the pitch.

He wrapped his cloak around his shoulders, grateful for the warmth.  In Japan, the sakara trees would be nearly ready to bloom but late March in Scotland was decidedly cooler.  It was no wonder that the lawns were empty, he thought as he trudged back out to the pitch - only that wasn't quite right.  Someone else was circling the pitch, and Yuuri was surprised when the other person flew down to the pitch.

"Victor?"

"Yuuri!" he called out, landing next to him with a wide smile on his face.  "Hello!"

"Wha-what are you doing here?" Yuuri blurted out, then blushed as he realized that sounded rude. 

"I thought I should practice," Victor said brightly.  "Our match with Ilvermorny is in three days."

Yuuri looked around to see if the rest of Victor's team was lurking about the stands.  The stadium was empty except for them.  "Um... Alone?"

Pink tinged Victor's cheeks and the tip of his nose as he rubbed the back of his neck with one gloved hand.  "I perhaps forgot to tell the rest of the team about the practice?"

Yuuri couldn't help grinning at that: Victor was famous for his bad memory.  To his own surprise, he heard himself say, "You can practice with me."  Immediately, he turned bright red and stammered, "I-if you want!  Not that you need practice!"  Because of course Victor wouldn't want to --

Victor beamed at him.  "I would love to!"

It turned out that Victor had a quaffle with him - of course he did - and he tossed it to Yuuri before kicking off the ground to take his place at one end of the stadium.  Yuuri fumbled the catch and nearly dropped the quaffle, glad that Victor was flying away and so hadn't seen that embarrassing moment.  He kicked off until he was hovering in front of Victor. 

"How do you want to do this?"

Victor tilted his head and touched a finger to his lips, apparently thinking over the options.  Yuuri had noticed that Victor did that often, no doubt an ingrained habit; he thought it was adorable but would hug the Whomping Willow before admitting it outloud.

"One-on-one scrimmage," Victor declared.  "You try to get it through the hoops and I'll stop you."

Yuuri nodded, casting a spell on the quaffle so that it would hover in the air instead of falling to the ground if neither were holding it.  "You mean try to stop me," he said, aiming for a little bravado.  "I might surprise you."

Victor grinned, his teeth flashing white.  "Yuuri!  I love surprises!"

"Good."

Tucking the quaffle under his arm, Yuuri raced around the pitch, working up speed so that his throw might have enough power while coming up with a play to try to get the quaffle past Victor.  It wouldn't work, of course - Nikiforov was already a Legend among Keepers.  But Yuuri hoped that maybe, if he was lucky, he'd manage to slip the quaffle past him just once.  So he was stunned speechless when his first attempt somehow managed to slip under Victor's guard and through the right hoop.

"Wow, Yuuri!" Victor called out, sounding oddly pleased.  "I wasn't expecting that!"

"Sorry," Yuuri said, flushing with embarrassment because Victor hadn't been ready, Yuuri had been unsportsmanlike and had shamed his school and his country -

"Don't apologize," Victor said, flying up to Yuuri to hand him back the retrieved quaffle.  Then he grinned and tweaked Yuuri's nose.  "But I won't let you get past me again!"

Yuuri felt as if he'd been struck by lightning, his body tingling all over.  "Want to bet?" he challenged.

Victor grinned widely.  "So cocky!" he crowed.  He flew back to his position guarding the rings while Yuuri once more began running patterns and throwing the quaffle.  This time he wasn't as lucky but he couldn't complain - watching Victor in action from this close was magical.  It didn't keep him from trying to get past him again and again, and by the time that Victor called a halt, Yuuri had managed to score a total of three times.

"Let's call it a night," Victor said, catching the quaffle and thus ending Yuuri's attempt at a fourth goal.  Yuuri wasn't as ready to quit but, as Victor was doing him an immense favor, he agreed and descended to the pitch.  Victor stored the quaffle in a trunk sitting off to the side, then made a face as his stomach grumbled loudly.

"How embarrassing!" he said, his cheeks turning a little pink as he glanced over at Yuuri.  "What time is it?  Have we missed dinner?"

Yuuri nodded.  "Yeah, by a couple of hours."  Victor made a face and Yuuri said, hesitantly, "We could go to the kitchen and ask for something to eat?"

Victor looked intrigued.  "You know how to find the kitchens?"

Yuuri nodded.  "It's Phichit - one of my Beaters - who found out, really," he added.  "He makes friends with everyone and one of the Hufflepuffs showed him the way in."

The house elves were delighted to welcome them to the kitchen, immediately producing Yuuri's favorites.  Victor was charmed by the homey space and his eyes lit up at the first taste of katsudon.  They had ended up talking for over an hour as they ate, until Yuuri realized that the rest of his team would be worried about him.

Victor insisted on walking him up to the Ravenclaw tower, to protect him from mischievous staircases, and as Yuuri crawled into bed he saw that he'd received a message from Victor on his 'scroll, inviting him to scrimmage again the next evening.  Yuuri replied an affirmative and fell asleep with a smile on his face.


The next evening's session followed the same pattern.  While Yuuri was occasionally able to slip the quaffle past Victor, more often than not the Keeper was quicker to stop his attempted goals.  That didn't keep Yuuri from trying, again and again, until Victor called for a halt.

"Let's take a break," he said, collapsing onto the ground with a sigh.  "We must have done that about a hundred times!"

"Forty-four, actually," Yuuri said absently, looking down at Victor as he sat on the pitch.  From here he could see the point from which Victor's long silver hair flowed.  It was oddly mesmerizing.

"Wow.  You know, I've noticed that you have a lot of stamina."

Yuuri smiled wryly.  "Yeah, well, that's one thing I have." 

But all his attention was fixed on that one point on Victor's head and, before he knew what he was doing, he had touched it with the tip of a finger.

"Yuuri!" Victor said, jerking his head up and clapping his hand to the top of his head.  "Am I going bald already?"

Yuuri pulled his hands away, appalled at his own behavior.  "I'm so so sorry!" he babbled.  "Your hair is beautifully thick!"

"I don't know how I will recover," Victor said mournfully, but a corner of his mouth twitched. "You've wounded me, Yuuri!"

Yuuri breathed a sigh of relief at the teasing tone and he dropped down to sit by Victor.  "Sorry.  It's just - your hair is so beautiful.  Like silver," Yuuri said softly and then, feeling the blush start in his cheeks, he looked down at the ground.

"Yuuri," Victor said softly, then sighed.  "You play Beauxbatons tomorrow.  Their Keeper is Christophe Giacometti and I've played against him before.  He's good but he can be distracted."

Yuuri turned to look back at Victor.  "Are you giving me tips so my team can beat Beauxbatons?" he asked.

"Of course!" Victor replied readily.  He reached out to capture Yuuri's chin in his gloved hand.  "I want to fly against you at the Finals."

Victor's eyes were so blue and Yuuri felt as if he couldn't look away.  "I - I don't know if we'll make it," he confessed quietly.  "I get anxious during games.  I don't have a lot of confidence."

"Well, I believe in you, Yuuri," Victor said softly.  "I think you can win."

Yuuri knew that he was bright red by now but he didn't care.  If Victor believed in him, Yuuri thought he could do anything.

 

 

Chapter Text

In the end, Victor's prediction had come true.  Mahoutokoro had beaten Beauxbatons after nearly two hours of play.  The first ninety minutes had been close, with both Nishigori and Giacometti keeping the Chasers from scoring many goals while the snitch had evaded both Seekers.  Then a distraction had arisen among the ranks of the Beauxbatons Chasers, primarily due to the mistaken impression by the male Crispino twin that one of the Mahoutokoro Beaters was flirting with his sister.  Yuuri doubted that was true - Seung-gil didn't seem to be interested in anything other than his familiar - but the squabbling between the twins was enough to distract Giacometti so that Yuuri and Yuuko were able to score two goals each.  And then suddenly Kenjirou was diving towards the pitch with the Beauxbatons Seeker on his heels.  Kenjirou pulled up just before the ground with the snitch clutched in his hand, and the Mahoutokoro supporters lost their collective minds.  Which is possibly why Yuuri found himself ruthlessly hugged by Victor once he came off the pitch.

The Koldovstoretz match against Ilvermorny was much more lopsided.  Although Ilvermorny had handily defeated Hogwarts in the quarterfinals, the team had somehow lost their momentum.  JJ Leroy, their Captain and lead Chaser, couldn't seem to keep a grip on the quaffle, either fumbling passes to the other chasers or vastly overshooting the hoops when he tried to score.  His calls to his team seemed to baffle them, and although Otabek Altin, their Keeper, did his best to fend off the Koldovstoretz Chasers, he couldn't win the game on his own.  And although the Ilvermorny Seeker, young Leo de la Iglesia, sighted the snitch first, he was no match against Yuri Plisetsky, current record holder for speed flying.  Since Victor hadn't allowed a single goal, Koldovstoretz's win was complete.

There were three days between the semifinal matches and the Final, to give both teams a chance to both heal and practice, and the middle day happened to fall on a Saturday.  Since it was the last Saturday before the Easter break, all of the older students had leave to go into the local town, a fact that nearly half of them had shared with Yuuri.  They also appeared to think that he'd get lost walking the distance between the school and Hogsmeade, given the number of people who offered to walk with him.  While he appreciated their kindness towards a visitor, he was able to assure them that he had company for the walk - Victor had already asked him for help in finding souvenirs for his friends back at home.  For some reason this news didn't seem to make his solicitous new acquaintances happy, perhaps because they thought that two visitors would have twice as great a chance of getting lost.  (Although the thought of possibly getting lost with Victor didn't worry Yuuri at all.)

Mid-morning, after the initial rush of students towards town, the pair made their way down to Hogsmeade.  Yuuri was curious to see the little village as there was nothing like it in Japan.  Mahoutokoro was on an island that only housed the school, and there were no purely wizard communities in Japan.  Yuuri had been to the magical markets in Tokyo and Sapporo, and he'd gone to the flying markets in Thailand with Phichit, but this was something new.  He and Victor strolled through the town, popping into Honeydukes and Zonko's for omiyage for their friends.  They browsed the bookstore and picked up pretty scarves for their mothers, but most of the time they were content to stroll silently side-by-side. 

Until Yuuri's stomach suddenly growled loudly. Yuuri turned bright red and stammered an apology, but Victor loudly declared that he was famished.  Yuuri looked around and saw a sign at the end of side-street for Madame Puddifoot's Tea shop.  It must have been a good place to eat - several of the Hogwarts students had mentioned it to him - so he pointed it out to Victor. 

Entering the shop, Yuuri was less certain for the place was cramped and overly warm, and the decorations were a bit too frilly.  Victor was delighted, though, and chose one of the small circular tables.  Before long, tea and an assortment of little cakes were set at their table.  Yuuri found the tea too sweet - he preferred green tea - but Victor seemed to enjoy his.  The cakes were good and Victor's spirits were high; he was talking perhaps louder than the other patrons liked, given the looks aimed their way.  Yuuri didn't mind, though, for there was something infectious about Victor's mood.

"Vkusno!" Victor cried out after biting into one of the confections, chocolate with bright pink frosting.  "Yuuri, you must try this!" 

He held out the other half of the cake in his fingers and, with a little hesitation, Yuuri took a bite from it.  It was delicious and he smiled at the taste, humming with pleasure.  Victor's face lit up at this and so Yuuri boldly offered Victor half of his own cake.  Victor took the morsel, his lips brushing against Yuuri's fingers and making him blush, but something fierce and warm was burning inside of Yuuri's chest.

I am happy, he realized.

They finished quickly after that and, gathering their packages, began making their way back to Hogwarts.  They walked in silence for a bit until Yuuri, who had been giving Victor surreptitious side-glances, finally spoke.

"Victor?  The, um, the cakes?  Sharing them like that...well, it's a couple thing, isn't it?"

"It can be," Victor agreed, glancing at him sideways.  "I'm sorry if it embarrassed you - "

"Oh no!" Yuuri said quickly.  "It didn't.  I just - wondered?  If it...meant something."

"I hope it does." Victor stopped and turned, taking Yuuri's hand.  "Yuuri, would you be my boyfriend?"

"Oh!"  The warmth inside him seemed to burst into greater life and he knew that he was smiling widely, foolishly, at Victor.  "Yes!  I would!"

"Good," Victor said, smiling back at him with equal joy. 

He leaned forward and kissed Yuuri's check, then took his hand again.  They walked back to the castle hand in hand, smiling at each other a bit foolishly all along the way. 

They sat together at dinner, loathe to separate so soon.  Dinner on Hogsmeade days was more casual than usual, with House alignments ignored as friends sat together to enjoy the light meal served to the students.  He and Victor were joined by their friends, all of them teasing them although Yuuri didn't mind for he was happier than he'd ever been.

He did note, however, that a spring cold seemed to be going around the school as a number of the students at dinner had red eyes and were sniffling.  He wondered if he should wear his mask in the halls when walking among the other students, as a precaution.  It would be horrible if he came down with something before the Final game.

Chapter Text

Practice the day before the Final was a disaster.

Yuuko and Takeshi had had a big fight just after breakfast (something to do with eyes straying to other girls) as a consequence of which Yuuko was ignoring her fellow Chasers in favor of grabbing his bat away from Seung-gil so that she could knock a bludger into her boyfriend's groin.  Yuuri sent him off to the Infirmary with Guang-hong, who was looking a little green around the gills as well.  (It turned out that Leo, the Ilvermorny Seeker had obtained some Firewhiskey which he'd shared with his new friend.)  Seung-gil was even more tight-lipped than usual after the usurping of his bat, as if offended by the purpose it had been used for.  Phichit appeared to be more interested in snaptwit (or was it twitgram?) than in playing, narrowly avoiding a bludger aimed toward Yuuko by Seung-gil.  Kenjirou was clearly upset by the tension among the team members and when the snitch appeared he burst into tears. 

At this rate, they might be better off just forfeiting to Victor's team.

Victor found him flying in circles around the pitch, silently flying next to him until Yuuri finally slowed down to a mid-air stop.

"Hi," Yuuri said, trying to smile at Victor but knowing that it was more a grimace than anything else.  He didn't feel like talking to anyone but even he knew that he shouldn't just ignore his boyfriend.

"Georgi's girlfriend broke up with him over 'scroll-text last night," Victor said, out of nowhere.  "He spent our entire practice time sobbing.  Mila, on the other hand, kept catching Yuri and bench-pressing him.  I think his screaming made me deaf."

Yuuri couldn't help smiling at the mental image of the feisty red-haired Chaser hoisting the little blond fury over her head.  "Team-mates, right?"

"I was wondering what Coach Yakov would do to me if I stuck them all to the hoops and did some bludger practice."

Yuuri sighed.  "Yuuko already did something like that - a bludger right at Takeshi's bits."

Victor winced and his legs tightened on his broomstick instinctively.  "Ouch."

"At this point, my entire second-string might play the Finals.  Would that make Quidditch history?" Yuuri wondered.

"Surely not the entire second-string?"

Yuuri sighed again and rubbed his eyes.  He hadn't slept much the previous night, going over the entire Hogsmeade day in his mind, and he knew that his anxiety would keep him from sleeping well that night.  Forfeiting was sounding better and better - except that Headmistress Minako would skin the lot of them and he couldn't do that to poor little Kenjirou (although the rest of them were fair game at this point).

Gloved fingers gently cupped his chin and lifted his head, and he reluctantly met Victor's eyes.  His boyfriend's gaze was soft and tender, and Yuuri felt a lump in his throat.

"I don't know what to say in situations like this," Victor confessed.  "Should I just kiss you or something?"

"You don't have to say anything," Yuuri said, although at the moment a kiss sounded wonderful.  They hadn't done that yet - and somehow it seemed appropriate for his first kiss to be on a Quidditch pitch.  But not when he was trying not to break down in tears.  "Just believe in me, more than I believe in myself."

 "I do believe in you," Victor said solemnly.  He dropped his hand to cover one of Yuuri's, encouraging him to let go of the broomstick so they could hold hands.

Yuuri dropped his eyes to their joined hands.  "What happens to us if -"  He couldn't say it aloud, could barely think about the possibility that his team might win.

"If the other one wins?" Victor finished, and Yuuri nodded.  "Yuuri, you wouldn't hate me if my team won, would you?"

"Of course not!"

"And I feel the same." Victor squeezed Yuuri's hand.  "I look forward to competing against you, but I could never resent you for doing your best."

That eased a knot that had been building in Yuuri's stomach all afternoon.

"I'm hungry," Victor announced, letting go of Yuuri's hand.  "Yuuri, let's go eat!  I want more katsudon."

"It's too fattening," Yuuri protested but he followed the other boy down to the ground, already feeling lighter at heart.

 

Chapter Text

The party following the Finals was epic. 

Three hours in and Yuuri was exhausted and very slightly drunk.  Even though the "official" punch bowl was closely guarded by one of Hogwarts' fiercest-looking teachers, there were a number of flasks being passed around surreptitiously.  Yuuri had had them pressed into his hand, along with congratulatory back-slaps, although he'd been careful to restrict himself to small sips.  He knew how he was when he got drunk.

And he wanted to remember every bit of this night. 

Victor was clinging to him like a limpet, with Yuuri's tie around his head.  Yuuri hadn't seen him with one of the flasks - he just seemed to be drunk on life.  And who could blame him?  Victor had just accomplished the impossible: an entire championship series without anyone scoring against him.  The professional scouts would be running after him before school ended.

It hadn't been Victor's fault, after all, that Kenjirou had caught the snitch, allowing Mahoutokoro to win the game.  That had been down to Yuuri, his game-strategy that concentrated on limiting Koldovstoretz's goals and keeping Yuri too busy to catch the snitch.  The Headmistress said there were scouts interested in Yuuri as well, that he would have his pick of professional teams.

The whole Quidditch world was buzzing about the match, including the fact that it had concluded with the Captain of the losing team tackling and kissing the Captain of the winning team.

The rest of the Koldovstoretz team appeared to be taking their loss with equanimity.  While Yuri had been furious at the start of the evening, Ilvermorny's Keeper had dragged him off to dance and now the pair of them were talking animatedly with the band that had just finished playing - Weird or Wired something.  Georgi had found a sympathetic shoulder to cry on and Mila was slow-dancing with the female Crispino twin.  The rest of the team was among the party group - all of them were young enough to know that they'd have another chance next year. 

"Yuuri!" Victor crooned, draping himself on Yuuri again (and he was beginning to wonder if Victor had gotten a flask after all).  "Dance with me!"

Yuuri allowed himself to be swept out onto the dance floor again for, in truth, there was nothing that he liked better than dancing - except for flying.

Only from now on he intended to fly alongside Victor, and not on the opposing team.