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Debts of Honor

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        June 3, 199_
  The Rosary 
  Vratsa, Bulgaria

Dear Hermione,

I was relieved to read in the news that the war in Britain is over. I note that you were in the thick of things until the very end. I have worried for you so, my dearest friend. Are you injured? Can you sleep at night? Please tell me all your news of the past, and your plans for the future, now that you have graduated and won your war, both.

I am well. Quidditch continues on as it does. My contract ends this summer with Vratsa, and it might be time to be open to trade offers. Mama and Papa accept it as inevitable that I may not just leave home, but move countries. I spend every moment practicing, eating, sleeping, or studying, and so manage to keep myself busy and distracted. Only at night do I pray and allow myself to acknowledge the fear within me.

I hope this letter is able to be delivered to you. The other ones I sent in the last year were returned entirely undelivered, but that, I suppose, was due to war. In hopes that it will be, I have included a small gift. It is a cutting from one of the roses my family grows. It looks pressed and dried, but that is only a charm. Put it in a small vase of water and end the charm. As long as you keep it in water, it will bloom for you.

I look forward to hearing that you are safe and well, and even if you are not quite either, I still very much wish to hear from you. Please take care of yourself. You are always in my thoughts.


PS - if it is easier for you to send mail through muggle means, I have included an address that will work. Please write if you can.

    June 15,199_
The Granger Residence
London, UK

Dear Viktor,

T hank you for your letter. It was very kind of you, and I am sorry that previous attempts hadn’t reached me. I didn’t attend Hogwarts last year, and that is probably why. Which means I didn’t graduate, though we did win the war.

It is a long and ugly story, for it was a long and ugly time, but it is over now, and that is the most important part of it. Yes, I am injured, but I’ll live. No, I don’t sleep particularly well, but I don’t suppose that really matters, either.

Due to circumstances being what they were, many of us are going back and redoing our final year, so come September 1st, any letter you send to me at Hogwarts should reach me without a problem.

Thank you for the rose. It looked wistful, somehow, dried and pressed. When I put it in water and ended the charm it was suddenly so filled with beauty and life and scent I almost cried. There hasn’t been any beauty in the last year, though we clung to life tenaciously and as well as we could. And there is, I suppose, a sort of harsh beauty in that.

I’m glad to hear Quidditch is still going well for you. Do you have your eye on any particular teams you’d prefer to join? It seems silly for you to move far from those you love, however. I don’t recommend it. Keep the ones you love as close as you can for as long as you can, Viktor. You never know when fate and circumstance will rip them away.

Tell me about your studies. Tell me again what Vratsa looks like in the summer. Tell me how your parents are doing. Tell me what you pray about, if it’s not too personal. Tell me what makes you afraid, if you can bear to. Tell me anything. Tell me everything. Just don’t tell me about death and destruction and war, because I’ve had my fill.

I so desperately want to just tell you I’m fine, but I’m not. And I can’t seem to lie to you like I can with everyone else. I’m not fine, Viktor. I close my eyes and I’m back there again, one of any number of places that spawns nightmares for me. It’s possible I’m safe now, really safe, but I don’t feel it. It’s possible I could be well now, or sometime in the future, but that feels so far away. But I still have my sanity, my intelligence, my magic, and all my limbs. I really shouldn’t complain. I’m alive. Harry’s alive. Tom is dead. We won. Those are the four things I really wanted, at the end. The only things I cared about, and I got them all, which I hadn’t expected. You’d think I’d be happier. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever be happy again, not really, not underneath it all.

Though the rose brings me a bit of peace. Did you charm it that way? Or perhaps that’s just a native quality. Regardless, thank you for your thoughtfulness. You’ve always been the best of friends to me, Viktor. Sometimes I wish you could have been closer, but that always just becomes a selfish and horrible dream, because then you would have been caught up in this war, and given our friendship, you would have been targeted relentlessly. I could never be responsible for that, so it’s just as well we never meet.

Speaking of which, I was rude to you when last we met. I’m sorry, and I hope the rose means you’ve already forgiven me.

Letters, clearly, are safer for us. I carried yours with me, even when I was on the run. God! I can’t even write a single paragraph without it devolving into despondency.

Write soon, and tell me of happier things.

Your friend,

         June 17, 199_
  The Rosary
Vratsa, Bulgaria

My dearest Hermione,

My heart aches for you. At night it is you I pray for, my dearest friend. My most dreaded fear is a long life stretching out before me without you in it.

You will tell me of your injuries, and who it was that hurt you, and if they still draw breath in this world. Please, Hermione. You must.

Still. I am more relieved than I have words to describe that you will be given a chance to heal, fully, and begin to know once more of happiness and peace. And you return to school for another year. It is possibly too soon to know what you wish to do in the world after, but when you discover it, I hope you will share it with me.

I do not agree, however, that letters are always the best way. Even Quidditch players get one day off each week. Come visit me. I will arrange everything, if only you will say you will come. My parents are eager to see you again and I am desperate for it. And as for the last time we met, the attack put all things into perspective. You clearly knew it was coming, it or something like it. All is forgiven, my dearest friend.

You wish me to speak of lighthearted things, and I would do this for you. Yet all I can think of is you. You have been honest with me, and I treasure that gift. My dearest Hermione, you will be happy again. You will smile and it will be genuine. You will laugh because you cannot keep it inside any longer. You will sigh, not in sadness, but in safety and contentment and pleasure. There is more for you than this pain, this torment.

My beautiful Hermione. My heart aches for you. I would ask you, if we were face to face, I would hold you in my arms and hope that you felt safe there and I would ask you what I could do that would help you. But you have already said. Tell you of happier things. So I will obey. But know that I would prefer to dry your tears, to hold you as you rage, and to be with you as you come to a place of peace, finally. Let there be no misunderstanding between us, Hermione. Now you know what I want, and now I will do what you want.

Quidditch is going very well indeed. Five years on and I am a much better player than when I began. I am very wiley, you see, very crafty, and I always study very closely the sort of person the opposing seeker is. I do not just fly and catch the snitch at the right moment. It is not just dangerous maneuvers for the fun of it. I hope you will pardon the vulgarity - only with you, Hermione, will I be this real - but I fuck with their heads, each in a slightly different way. They examine me in past games to try and find a weakness they can exploit, but they would do better to examine themselves, as I am. If they understood better their own weaknesses they would then know mine. But then, my weakness is not found on the field, and they do tend to carry theirs with them wherever they go. Mine I leave at home for the nights full of prayer and darkness. But during the day I have faith and it is strong indeed. 

Last year I have begun a new training technique. I fly at high speeds through dense forest. It is, perhaps, just as dangerous as it sounds, and it does wonders for stress relief. It is also quite fun, which is largely how I prefer my danger to be.

You ask if I have my eye on any teams in particular for a trade. No, no single team is my aim. It’s more of a region into which I am considering moving, and it is this to which my parents have already well accustomed themselves. You are right, of course. One must keep one’s loved ones close. It is the only important thing. And so I consider changing teams.

My parents are very well. The roses are, as you have witnessed, just as they ought to be. I sent you the white concordia rose, and I am glad that you are enjoying it. I picture you, your face an essay of calmness, at least for a moment, the rose before your lips as you take in the pungent and visceral beauty of it. Your eyes are closed in this fantasy, and your breath is deep and even. And then I see you smile, your eyes still closed. It is a smile for yourself, for the rose, for me.

My studies - can you not tell? I study English, my own Myon. Harder than ever, these last two years. I am finally fluent, though if I had known it would be so important, I would have been at seventeen. Conversation twice a week, grammar for so long it hurt, and I speak only English at home now, which has stymied the house elves somewhat, but they have coped, and one has decided to follow my example. In case you should visit, they will be ready. I have read out loud every book in English I can get my hands on, several times, as there are not many. I would greatly appreciate recommendations. I’ll take anything. If it is boring, it is at least in English. And if I know the title and author, then I can order it specifically and that makes things so much easier. Still, English is far easier now than it was when I was in Scotland with you. Now the words just flow, as you see. I even dream in English, now.

When Quidditch is over for me, which would be perhaps another fourteen years or so - when I am 35, you understand - I shall retire and perhaps then take a mastery. There are many branches of magic that fascinate me and bear further study, and indeed it is why I did finish my last year of schooling, even if it was in Scotland, instead of simply going professional as soon as possible, to the exclusion of all else. But of course, plans so very far away are dependent on many factors, and so I hesitate to say what will be with any certainty. But it is one of many things I tentatively look forward to, this, or some variation on the theme.

Do you like music, Hermione? It’s never come up in our conversations. Do you sing? Do you play an instrument? Do you appreciate it without being able to produce it yourself? Please tell me if I can ever hope to entrance you with my meagre skills, or if stringed instruments are an anathema to you. I learned from my mother, and received my own cello upon my graduation. It is certainly one of many, many things I cannot share much at all with you in a letter. I can tell you how transcendent the first movement of Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suite is, how full of light and gentleness and in its own way, purity and hope. How its repetitions induce calm, how its gentle vigor stirs up hope with a patience and relentlessness I admire greatly. It reminds me of you, of course. Not of the experiences you have undoubtedly shared in of late, but of how you are when you laugh, when you smile, when you are in my arms. Alas, I hold none but the cello.

What more is there to tell you? My life is very boring. Summer in Vratsa is dull without you to share in it. I write this letter out near the roses, hoping some of their scent will last in the paper, though it is getting dark now and too much magic must not be used near them.

It is a small gift (I am inside now) but I would give you these, more. I thought perhaps at first I would give you others, but I think you need more concordia in your life, my dearest friend. Now you have a full dozen, and if you treat them well, they will never fade. Few things in life are like this, but some do exist, Myon.

I miss you, Myon. (And this letter returns to the beginning, in the end.) My heart aches for you, and still I will pray, now for your healing. Write to me soon, my dearest one. And do, please, come visit me, or let me come to you. It will not be like it was last time, with fear and horror so near at hand. It will be like our letters, but so much better.

With all my heart,