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Summer in Bulgaria

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Part i

The airport was nearly empty that early summer morning. Hermione was surprised to step off the plane and find it such a contrast to the hustle and bustle of Heathrow. It had been a short flight, relatively speaking, but had seemed much longer because she was alone and lost in her thoughts. She wondered where her parents were, if they had made it safely to wherever Shacklebolt had taken them, if they hated her for disrupting their lives and bringing the realities of war home.

It hadn’t even been a week since she left Hogwarts. Just three days spent at her childhood home, hugging her parents and trying not to cry as she told them the truth about everything that had been happening in the world that had become her home, the world they didn’t understand. With Snape’s loyalties under question, considering what Harry had seen that dark night when Dumbledore fell, it had been decided that her parents should be moved to safety and separated from her. The Order, faltering without Dumbledore’s quiet leadership, was scrambling and doing their best to protect their own and prepare for full-out war.

They had suggested she go to the Burrow until school, having no idea of the plans she, Harry, and Ron had made. She would be there soon, anyway, for Bill and Fleur’s wedding, they explained. The protection spells and disillusionment charms had been strengthened and it was probably one of the safer places to hide. Hermione had made a different choice, though. It was selfish, one last grasp at having something resembling a normal holiday before she’d go to the Burrow to meet Harry and Ron for the next phase of their lives together.

She was far from stupid. She knew there was a good chance that she’d not survive the hunt for the last of the Horcruxes, a chance they’d all perish, and she didn’t want to die with regrets. It would be just a few weeks of escape before she’d be unable to keep reality from crashing down upon her. It had been a chance owl that gave her a refuge for the first of her summer holidays, a destination in mind when Moody had demanded to know her plans. He’d grumbled and huffed but reluctantly nodded and declared the location relatively safe so long as she was careful.

Constant vigilance, Granger, she could hear him say as she scanned the quiet airport. It had been a Muggle taxi that took her to a Muggle airport where she had flown the Muggle way as to avoid detection. Now she was in Bulgaria, in a small town she’d never heard of with an airport that only accepted two flights in daily, and she had just a few short weeks to attempt to be somewhat normal before everything changed.

“Your flight vas early.”

Hermione turned and smiled when she saw the boy---no, man---that she’d not seen in two years. He was broader in the shoulders, his hair was longer and brushed the collar of his shirt, and he looked as if his nose had possibly been broken (again), but she was still taken aback by his striking looks. Not handsome in the way some men were and not boyishly attractive in the way of others. Distinct, masculine, a face made up of sharp angles and rough edges that contradicted the gentle nature he displayed towards her.

“I haff someting on my face?” he asked with a teasing smile as he rocked back and forth on his heels and kept his hands in the pocket of his coat.

“Yes,” she told him matter-of-factly, rather pleased that she’d recovered somewhat from being caught staring even as her cheeks flushed. She stepped forward and set her suitcase down. She brushed her thumb across his cheek and heard him inhale sharply. She smiled and placed a kiss against the skin she’d just touched. “Hello Viktor.”

“I haff missed you, Her-my-nee.” He said her name slowly, as if he’d been practicing for days (possibly two years), and she sighed softly as she hugged him. His body stiffened as her arms wrapped around him but he soon hugged her back, his strong arms holding her as he leaned down and kissed her cheek. For the first time since Dumbledore’s death, she felt safe.

Part ii
It was easy to settle into Viktor’s home. The guest room was larger than her dorm at Hogwarts and had everything she could possibly want and need. The bath was just down the hall and there was warm water every time she wanted a shower. She had a balcony with a beautiful view of the Black Sea as did the large sitting room.

Hermione looked out over the sea and smiled. Her bags were unpacked and she’d taken a nap, waking to the scent of heady spice. The house was Viktor’s, bought shortly after he left Durmstrang with a bonus he’d received from his Quidditch team. It was an older home, tastefully decorated and rather unlived in. He had told her when they arrived that he was rarely ever home except for off-season so he had someone from the nearby village come in daily to take care of things for him while he was away.

“Do you vant I should make salad?”

She turned and smiled when she saw Viktor wearing an apron, still rather surprised that he did his own cooking when he was home. “I can make a salad, if you’d like,” she offered as she leaned against the railing of the balcony. “After all, you’ve cooked the fish.”

“Her-my-nee,” he said as he shook his head and stepped onto the balcony. “You vill make no salad. You my guest and no haff cook for self. You feel okay?”

“I feel wonderful,” she said sincerely. It was nice to get away from everything, albeit entirely selfish of her. England and the war seemed so far away at this pretty house by the sea. She felt rested for the first time in weeks and she was doing her best not to dwell on what awaited her when she returned. “Thank you for inviting me to visit.”

“You velcome,” he told her as he moved beside her and looked at the sea. “I vant very much show you my home, my country. It is my thanks to you for visiting.”

Hermione turned to look at the view but found her eyes drifting to Viktor. A soft breeze ruffled his hair and she reached out to brush a few fallen locks from his forehead. He looked at her and she shivered when he reached up and touched her hand. She nervously licked her lips and dropped her hand, her gaze darting all over.

Warm fingers gripped her chin gently and raised her head. “Dinner is almost ready, Her-my-nee,” he said softly before he leaned down and brushed a kiss against her forehead. His lips were chapped and dry as they touched her skin and she didn’t remember to breathe until he’d stepped away and smiled. “We vill eat out here and enjoy view.”

Then he walked back inside and she let out the breath she’d not realized she was holding.

Part iii
Varna was a lovely town. She could feel the history all around her as she and Viktor walked through the streets. He pointed out various sights of interest and animatedly told her the history of this coastal town. They had been walking for only a few hours and he stopped whenever he noticed her attention focused on this or that. He was knowledgeable about this country, though he lapsed into Bulgarian more now than usual. She found it sweet that he tried to speak her language to share the love of his country.

She had been in Bulgaria for three days. There had already been a tour of the village closest to his house, a lazy afternoon spent on white beaches with conversation and a good book, and a drive through nearby areas in a Muggle car that he hired for her enjoyment. He was attentive but also enjoyed silence or simply sitting with his own book when he sensed she just wanted to think or to enjoy the quiet.

It was nice and comfortable being here, yet there was an underlying tension beginning to build in the pit of her belly whenever he touched her casually or she’d catch him looking at her in a way Ron had never looked. Hermione thought about Ron when she was lying in her bed at night. She had fancied him for as long as she could remember and had been jealous and spiteful when he’d started dating Lavender during the previous school term. She thought he returned her interest and it seemed like he wanted to kiss her before they left school, but he hadn’t.

The thought of kissing Ron didn’t cause the same feeling as the thought of kissing Viktor. She couldn’t even explain the difference but she noticed it. As she spent more time with Viktor, she was reminded of the reason she had decided not to visit him the summer he’d first asked. She’d been confused about what he made her feel and honestly hadn’t known if she could spend time with him, alone with him, without possibly exploring those feelings. She’d been too young and hadn’t understood the attraction she felt that contrasted with the infatuation she’d had for Ron.

She was older now, though, and more well-read on subjects such as lust and sex. She understood that the tingly feeling she got when his hands brushed against her shoulders or he smiled in a certain way was desire. She knew that she shouldn’t even think about Viktor in such a way. It wasn’t fair to him, to Ron, or to herself. She wanted Ron, after all. Didn’t she? A familiar voice pulled her from her thoughts and she smiled up at Viktor.

“Ve vill go to see monument now,” Viktor suggested as they left the Cathedral behind. “It is large stone for, how you say, commemorate? It tribute for Battle of Varna.”

“It sounds interesting,” she said as she remembered what he had told her earlier about the Battle of Varna. She wondered if there would be a stone monument put up once this horrid war was over to honor all those who lost their lives fighting a madman.

Warm fingers touched her palm and she bit her lip as her hand shook slightly. His palm was damp and she almost smiled when she realized his hand was shaking slightly. It was nice to know that even world famous Quidditch players could get nervous about something as simple as holding hands. She moved her fingers through his and curled them around his hand as they walked.

Part iv
It was cooler here than it was by the coast. Hermione was glad she had listened to Viktor and worn long-sleeves for their trip to Sliven. They had already seen a beautiful forest, a mountain spring, and were now in the town for a meal and more exploring. She’d had a week of sightseeing and was still eager for more. Viktor had passed along his love for the history of his country within her first few days and now she wanted to learn as much as possible before she had to leave as there was always a chance she’d not be back.

“You vant that I should buy you book?” Viktor suggested as they walked past a Muggle bookstore.

“Oh, can we stop?” she asked. He smiled and nodded so she walked to the door of the bookstore. She tugged him along behind her, never releasing his hand as they stepped into the small shop.

It had become natural to hold Viktor’s hand in the past few days. She still had moments of nervousness, usually when his fingers would lightly brush against her palm as they walked, and his hands would still shake sometimes as if he was afraid she might let go. Now, though, she gave it little thought to reach over and take his hand as he showed her the sights of his country.

“You vill haff to borrow my muscles carry all those books,” he teased her as she picked up several during her perusal of the shelves.

“Very funny,” she said with a roll of her eyes and smile. “I’ll have to be sure not to get too many, then, since you’re lacking in muscles, Mister Krum.”

“I haff plenty good muscles,” he defended with a playful scowl. He bent his arm and pointed. “See? Plenty good.”

Hermione reached out and lightly squeezed his muscular forearm. She glanced up and faltered when she saw how close his face was and noticed that his gaze was focused on her lips. She no longer felt quite so cool as heat spread over her body. Tension that was growing increasingly familiar was present as her body swayed unconsciously closer to his.

“Vot you say, Her-my-nee?”

She blinked and stepped away as her face flushed. “I suppose they’re okay,” she stammered slightly as she hastily picked up the nearest book to distract herself.

Viktor moved behind her and her eyelashes fluttered as she felt his breath on her neck as he leaned forward. “You no read Bulgarian. Vot about this one?”

“I was thinking about learning,” she said softly as she put the book down and took the one he offered. His fingers brushed against the top of her hand and she nearly whimpered as his body pressed closer.

“You vant learn my language?” he whispered as his hand rubbed her arm. “You are cold? You shiffer like cold.”

“I’m actually a bit warm,” she admitted as she leaned back against him for one selfish moment. “I think this is all I’d like to buy here.”

“You confusing woman, Her-my-nee,” he muttered before he placed a soft kiss against the nape of her neck. “Ve vill go eat now.”

He took her books from her before she could protest and went to pay for them. She licked her lips and unconsciously touched her neck where he’d kissed her as she looked at him. She watched him speak to the clerk and listened to him speak in his native language. There was such an appealing confidence about him that attracted her as much as his intelligence and striking looks.

Hermione joined him at the counter and tried to take the bag of books from him. He wouldn’t let her and the clerk grinned at them when Viktor slapped her hand away and she playfully scowled at him. The older woman spoke and Hermione was surprised to see Viktor’s cheeks turn a deep red as he mumbled something in reply. Once they stepped back outside into the unbelievably fresh air, she asked, “What did she say?”

“She say you pretty girl and I agree.”

She looked at him and noticed the way he was looking anywhere but at her. “Thank you,” she said softly, blushing slightly at hearing him say she was pretty. “However, that’s not all she said, is it?”

“You stubborn,” he muttered before he finally glanced at her. “She also say ve make attractive couple and vill haff many pretty babies.”

“Oh.” Hermione stopped walking and looked at him curiously. “What did you say?”

“I say thank you, of course. Ve vould haff pretty babies, no?”

“No. I mean, yes. I mean,” Hermione stammered and ran her hand through her hair. “What should we get to eat?”

“This is, how you say, changing the subject?” he asked slowly before he nodded. He took her hand and squeezed gently. “Ve vill eat vereffer you like.”

She was grateful that he dropped the discussion about attractive couples and babies. She certainly had no intention of thinking about the latter for a great many more years, after all, if she even survived the war. The former made her feel uncomfortable and almost felt like she was betraying Ron regardless of the fact that he’d made no attempts even after his break-up with Lavender to steal a kiss or ask her on a date to Hogsmeade.

What was worse was that she was beginning to not want to resist exploring her growing feelings for Viktor.

Part v
Viktor had brought her to Ruse to see the Danube. He had noticed her interest in rivers, lakes, and the ocean, obviously. She sat beside him on a grassy slope by the river outside of Ruse and sighed as she watched the water. The blanket beneath her was soft and the sun was warm without being too hot. She could easily take a nap.

“How are things at home?”

Viktor’s soft question interrupted her debate on whether or not she should nap. She looked at him and shrugged. “Worse,” she said honestly. “Ginny’s letter wasn’t very long but she said---it’s not going well, I guess. He---Voldemort---he’s become more active since Dumbledore’s death. She said there was an attack on Hogsmeade recently and quite a few people died. It’s…it’s not good.”

“It saddened me ven I hear of Headmaster’s death. He vas very kind and I haff regret for his death.”

“Harry’s still at his relative’s home,” she continued softly. “He’ll be at the Burrow after his birthday, for the wedding. Ginny said she has been eavesdropping as much as possible and heard plans for defense but it sounds like the Ministry is falling apart and losing Aurors in every new attack.”

Viktor reached out and gently touched her cheek. “You could stay here vit me, Her-my-nee.”

Hermione smiled as she placed her hand over his. “I can’t, Viktor. You know I can’t.”

“I know but I hope,” he admitted with a soft sigh. “I vorry of you there vith so much how you say? Threat? Danger? It scare me tinking of losing you.”

“I’m scared, too,” she confessed in a whisper. “I’m only seventeen and there’s so much I want to do with my life. I don’t want to fight a war and I don’t want to die.”

“You vill not die,” he said firmly. “You vill do vat you need do and you vill live.”

“Right,” she agreed with little sincerity but a tremor of hope that he was right. “The river is pretty here.”

“You and changing of subject,” he murmured as he didn’t remove his hand from her cheek. “Her-my-nee, I vant tell you something.”

“What is it, Viktor?”

“I vant very much kiss you. Vill you let me?”

Hermione had not expected that at all. She licked her lips and her cheeks turned pink and she wasn’t sure if she should tell him that the only kisses she’d ever experienced had been the few they’d shared during his time at Hogwarts and one sloppy unwanted kiss from McLaggen under mistletoe.

She thought about returning to England and her life ending with a flash of green and knew she didn’t want to think in those final moments that she wished she’d kissed Viktor. “Yes,” she whispered before his lips brushed against hers.

She closed her eyes and let him lead the kiss since she had no idea what to do. It was gentle at first; his lips were chapped but wet, and they pressed firmly against hers. His tongue ran over her lips and she parted them so he could deepen the kiss. It was a bit wet and she wasn’t sure what to do with her tongue because it seemed to get in the way but it was nice. His rubbed against her face and she felt his fingers in her hair as he pressed closer.

His tongue seemed to be moving over her teeth and then it was curling around her own, which was very pleasant, indeed. She felt the increasingly familiar tingle in her tummy and knew she was becoming aroused as they kissed. Her breasts pushed against his chest as he moved her to lie on the blanket. His mouth left hers for a moment and they both sucked in necessary oxygen and then he was kissing her again.

She accidentally bit his tongue when she felt his fingers brush along her ribs as he pushed her shirt up. He cursed in Bulgarian as he released her mouth and she felt rather foolish for not being any better at this than she was, but, really, it wasn’t like the practical application of kissing could be learned from books no matter how many she’d read.

It didn’t seem that he minded too much because he looked at her, his eyes darker than usual, and he kissed her again. She finally decided to do something with her hands and moved one behind him, fingers curling in thick black hair and the other gripped his shoulder lightly. By the time his hand reached her breasts, she was getting better at it and learning how to breathe out of her nose and what to do with her tongue. However, when she felt his hand squeeze her breast, warm even through the cotton of her bra, she pulled his hair and her eyes flew open in surprise.

“Is okay?” he asked worriedly as he nuzzled her neck with his face and brushed soft kisses along her throat. “I vill no touch if you no vant.”

“It was just, uh, surprising,” she replied as her eyes rolled back and she moaned when she felt his long fingers tease her nipple through her bra. “I want, Viktor. I want---“

“Sssh,” he whispered against her lips. He rubbed his nose against hers as he carefully moved his hand beneath her bra, pushing the fabric up to free her breast. She gasped and he kissed her lightly, teasing her lips as he teased her breast.

Hermione kissed him this time as the Danube rolled by and the sun shone down on them.

Part vi
The ancient theatre in Plovdiv was beautiful at night. The ruins looked enchanted in the moonlight and Hermione could practically feel the magic in the air. Her feet were sore from another day full of walking, but she couldn’t complain. The city was rich with history and she’d enjoyed every moment of it.

“Is it Wizarding?” she asked Viktor as she twirled to see all of the ruins, not caring if she got dizzy.

“It vas influenced by vizards, yes,” he told her as he reached out and caught her arm.

She laughed and went into his arms, leaning up to kiss him lightly. “It’s beautiful.”

“You are beautiful,” he told her before he stole another kiss.

“And you’re crazy,” she replied when he drew back, smiling softly as she looked up at him.

Hermione took his hand and walked through the ruins, leaning against him as she enjoyed the moment. Her days were growing shorter and soon she’d return to England, to her friends, to war. But here, now, she was just a tourist having a night out with her attractive boyfriend. Boyfriend. That was the wrong word. She couldn’t become involved, not like that, not even with Ron. There was too much---after the war, then she could consider such frivolities like boyfriends and planning the future.

“I am no crazy,” he told her. “I am lucky man, here with beautiful voman on romantic moonlight night.”

“ is rather romantic,” she agreed with a smile as she turned and leaned against a pillar. “I think I’d like a kiss, Mister Krum.”

“I vill no make you say please,” he teased as he let her pull him against her. He lowered his head and kissed her.

Their kisses were still gentle but she’d noticed something more to them since that afternoon in Ruse. There was an underlying passion that let the kisses get out of control so quickly. This kiss was no exception. One kiss became two became three. She held him against her as his hands rested on her hips. She felt his fingers slide beneath her shirt but he didn’t move them higher, not yet.

He shifted and she gasped against his mouth as his leg moved between hers and pressed intimately against her. “Is okay?” he asked huskily as he moved them so he was able to rub against her leg, too.

She nodded as she felt him hard against her thigh and wondered again what it looked like when it wasn’t sketched in the pages of a book. She’d been thinking about that a lot lately, it seemed. Sex had never been anything she’d given much thought to it beyond clinical research and the knowledge she’d eventually experience it. She wasn’t one for silly romance novels and she barely listened to the girls in her dorm gossip about such things. Now, she wished she’d paid more attention.

The denim of her jeans rubbed against the cotton of her knickers as Viktor’s leg pushed against her. The friction caused her body to tremble as he kissed her again and again. The pillar behind her, ruins from a time long before, was cool against her back as she rocked against Viktor’s upper thigh.

“Viktor,” she whimpered as she held on to him tightly. He licked her neck and sucked her sweaty skin between his lips, nipping playfully as he held her hips and moved her against him.

“Let go, Her-my-nee,” he urged as he rubbed against her leg and moved one hand behind her to grip her arse. “For me, please.”

Hermione muffled her cry as she put her face against his shoulder. She closed her eyes as the tension became too much. Then, it snapped. She gasped and shook as her body shuddered from her orgasm. She heard Viktor grunt against her neck and soon felt warm wet seeping through the denim of her jeans.

Before she could say anything, he kissed her, gentle and thorough, holding her safely as her body continued to tremble. Finally, she stood on her own and kissed his jaw, rubbing her cheek against his unshaven face as she caught her breath. Was she supposed to say thank you? Did he expect anything more? She wasn’t ready---not yet, but soon.

“Ve vill go get drink now,” Viktor said softly before he kissed her once again, a chaste but lingering kiss. He removed his wand from his back-pocket and cleaned them up. When he reached for her hand, Hermione smiled and took it.

Part vii
Heaven had a name. It was the outdoor bookmarket in Sofia on Slaveikov Square. There was a Wizarding section with old texts she’d never have expected to find in the capital of Bulgaria. Viktor was amused at her reaction and she’d immaturely stuck her tongue out at him twice since they’d arrived. For once, she didn’t protest when he offered to pay for her books with a reminder that he had inheritance from his grandfather and a nice salary for playing professional Quidditch.

It was late by the time they had dinner and Apparated back to his home. She put away her purchases and refused to look at the calendar that told her it was nearly time to return to England. It had been several days since the night at the ruins and they’d only kissed in the days after. He seemed hesitant, possibly worried that he’d moved too fast despite her obvious enjoyment of the experience.

“I vill get us glass of vine,” Viktor called to her from the sitting room. “Vould you prefer vite or red?”

“Red is fine,” she replied as she recalled that he’d served a very enjoyable red wine with dinner the other night.

She sat on the bed and chewed on her lower lip. The reality was that she’d be returning to England in little more than a week. She didn’t want to go back with any regrets. Her decision made, she stood and went down the hall to the loo. She brushed her teeth and washed her face then washed a few other spots he might touch that she wanted to make absolutely certain were clean. She cast the pregnancy charm as a secondary reinforcement to the birth control she normally took to regulate her menstrual cycle.

Once she had finished in the loo, she went back to her room and undressed. She was shaking as she removed her bra and she nearly tripped on her knickers when she pushed them down around her ankles. The mirror showed her a nude girl, not yet eighteen, with full hips and adequate breasts.

She had a slight tummy that she never seemed to lose, not that she gave it much thought. There were freckles on her nose and shoulders and she was pale around her breasts, tummy, and thighs. Her hair was still an unruly mess but she liked it regardless of what others said. All in all, she thought she wasn’t that bad. Not beautiful, not like Viktor seemed to think, but she was pretty enough.

Her bathrobe was silk, one of the few feminine things she owned, a gift from her mum on her sixteenth birthday. It was a deep blue, one of her favorite shades, and she thought it looked somewhat sexy once she put it on with nothing beneath it. Her face was flushed and she knew she looked more nervous than she felt when she’d taken her OWLs.

“You can do this, Hermione,” she told herself in a weak version of a pep talk. At least she felt somewhat confident because she was pretty certain that Viktor did want her, too. She left her room and nervously made her way to the sitting room.

“Vould like for me play music?” Viktor asked as he fumbled with the buttons of the wireless. He turned around to look at her when she walked into the sitting room and stared at her dumbstruck. “Her-my-nee, vat you doing?”

“Living in the moment,” she said with as much bravery as she could muster. She faltered when he didn’t come towards her and wondered if she’d made a mistake. “That is---I thought you wanted me, too.”

“I vant you muchly,” he said in a low, husky voice that did strange things to her tummy. “So muchly. Are you sure? I no complain at just kissing and touching you.”

She nodded and smiled as she pulled at the belt of her robe. “I’m sure.”

He crossed the room faster than she’d believed possible, his hand on hers before she could unfasten the robe. “No here,” he told her quietly. “You haff no ever done this before, Her-my-nee. I vill no take you here on sofa for first time. Ve go my room.”

She leaned up and kissed him gently. “Okay.”

He held her hand and looked at her the entire walk to his room. He almost tripped twice but just smiled sheepishly and kept staring at her as if she’d disappear if he looked away. When they reached his room, she felt rather shy as she looked at the large bed that seemed to dominate the room.

“I haff vanted you for long time,” he whispered as he ran his finger over the belt of her robe. “I vill try no hurt you but I haff heard it hurt for a girl.”

“I’ve read about it,” she confessed with a shy smile. “It will be fine, Viktor. I know how it all works, technically. I want you to make love to me.”

“Vith you,” he corrected gently before he kissed her. When he pulled back, he offered his hand and she took it. He led her to the bed and carefully unfastened her robe. She shrugged it off her shoulders and blushed as he looked at her. “So beautiful.”

“I feel beautiful when you look at me like that,” she whispered as she shifted awkwardly and wondered what to do next.

“I vant go slow, Her-my-nee. I vill try,” he said as he licked his lips and urged her to lie down. “I vill undress now then I vant touch you.”

She watched him remove his shirt and admired the sleek build that allowed him to move through the air fast enough to catch the Snitch. His arms were muscular and his shoulders broad but proportionate to his tall, slender frame. There was dark hair on his chest, just a little, and a thicker line down low on his belly that disappeared into the waist of his trousers.

She realized he was nervous, too, when he had problems unzipping his trousers. He seemed to blush as he finally lowered the zip. He pushed his trousers down and she saw the proof of his arousal pressed against his shorts.

“I vill leave these on now,” he muttered as he put his knees on the bed. “I no last long if they gone.”

“Oh,” she whispered, rather pleased that he was that affected by her.

“I vill get you ready for me,” he told her as he crawled up the bed, seeming even bigger than usual since she was naked and rather vulnerable. “It easier if I haff taken time get you ready. I no vant you hurt more than needed.”

She wasn’t entirely certain what he meant by getting her ready but she trusted him. He was twenty, after all, and this wasn’t his first time, thankfully. She could just imagine how awkward and weird it would have been if they’d both been virgins. Hermione watched him lower his head and gasped when he licked her nipple.

“You are sensitive,” he mumbled before he licked again. His hand rested flat on her belly and he pressed against her side, letting her get used to bare skin against skin. “Relax, Her-my-nee. I vill make you feel good.”

His hand moved lower on her belly and her eyes widened as she realized what he intended. She was slick with wetness, had been since she’d decided she was ready, and his fingers slid across her as he sucked her nipple into his mouth. His fingers were rough, long, and felt very different than her own as he lightly stroked her. When he pressed one inside her, she gasped and bucked up off the bed, catching him by surprise and causing him to bite her breast before he fell on the bed beside her.

She looked at him when he glanced up and slowly smiled as they started to laugh. “Uh, right. Sorry?” she managed to stay as the tension seemed to ebb slightly.

“Is okay,” he told her before rolled back against her and pressed his erection against her hip. “I vill now put finger inside you. This vill get you ready for me, Her-my-nee, so I vill not hurt you much.”

“I just wasn’t expecting it,” she admitted as she prepared herself for his finger this time. A soft hiss of breath escaped her lips as he pushed his finger inside her. He began to move it in and out slowly as he went back to licking and kissing her breasts, collarbone, and neck.

When he added a second finger, she spread her legs more and frowned as she wiggled a bit until she found a comfortable position. It felt a bit full because his fingers were bigger than her own but it was…pleasant. His thumb pressed against her clit and she moaned as she pushed down instinctively. She knew if he kept touching her, moving his fingers inside her, she was going to have an orgasm before he was ever inside her. “Viktor, if you keep on, I’m going to--.” Her explanation was caught by his lips as he kept moving his hand.

She felt his fingers separating, stretching her, moving in and out as he rubbed against her thigh. When he pressed his thumb against her clit and made small, lazy circles, she couldn’t hold back any longer. She came as she arched off the bed, dripping onto his hand and whimpering as her body shuddered.

Viktor removed his hand and she heard the sound of fabric sliding against skin as he pushed his shorts off. She glanced down and her eyes widened when she saw his bits. Oh God, there was no way he was going to fit inside her. While his length was about the same that the book illustration had been, he was a lot thicker. She now understood why he’d been getting her ready.

“Can I…can I touch it?” she asked curiously.

He seemed to be hesitant so she reached down and ran her finger over the wet head. He cursed in Bulgarian and his fingers wrapped around her wrist. “If you touch, I vill not last,” he told her tightly. “I vant be inside you.”

“Can I touch it later?” she asked softly, letting him know she didn’t want this to be a one time thing. She looked down at it and thought about stories she’d heard of girls putting it in their mouths. She rather thought she’d like to try that, if he was willing.

“Later,” he promised in a hoarse whisper. He rolled between her legs and moved to his knees as he leaned over her, one hand supporting himself and the other stroking. “It vill only hurt moment. Are you sure, Her-my-nee?”

“Yes,” she told him as she spread her legs wider and shyly reached up to touch her breast, feeling his saliva on her nipple.

He began to move forward, the head of his penis slowly easing into her. She watched his face as he took his time and tried to make it easier for her. There was sweat on his forehead and a nerve was twitching in his cheek as he bit his lip.

“Just do it, Viktor,” she finally urged as she pushed up against him. She gasped as he thrust forward and she felt a sharp sting. He laid against her and held her as she began to adjust. The pain had been fleeting and it wasn't long before she wiggled beneath him. “More.”

He began to move.

It hurt a bit, at first, even with the lubrication from her previous orgasm. Soon, though, she began to push up and meet his thrusts. His breath was warm against her ear as he panted and spoke in his native language, words she didn’t understand but seemed to transcend the language barrier.

It was over sooner than she’d expected. He grunted and pushed deep inside her, then she felt warmth flood her as he began to shake and jerk his hips. She moved her hands over his back and looked at the ceiling, uncertain if she was supposed to tell him that she was still tingly and needed a bit more.

Before she could say anything, he kissed her and then she felt his fingers on her clit. He began to rub as he rocked against her, finding the exact place to touch that made her gasp. She came again, her fingernails digging into his shoulderblades as she writhed beneath him. He released her mouth and slowly eased out of her.

“Are you muchly sore?” he asked with concern as he moved to lie beside her.

“It hurts a little but it’s a good sort of hurt,” she explained as she snuggled against him. He pulled the blanket over them and held her close. Now she understood what the fuss was all about.

Part viii
It was a pretty summer day when she packed the last of her bags and took one last look at the sea. Viktor watched her with dark, unreadable eyes and she could sense his moodiness beneath the smile he flashed when she looked at him. She sighed as she turned from the view and immediately walked into his waiting arms.

“I don’t want to go back,” she admitted as she rested her cheek on his chest.

“I no vant you go,” he whispered as he held her close. “Perhaps---I vill go vith you?”

“No,” she said gently but firmly. “I need you to stay here and be safe, for me. That’s all I ask of you. Regardless of what happens, you’ll stay here and wait for me.”

“I vill no make a promise such as this,” he told her stubbornly. “If you haff need for me, I vill no stay here.”

“Please?” she whispered as she blinked away tears. “I need---when I’m out there, I need to know you’re here looking at the sea or remembering me while in Plovdid. I need something to hold on to, Viktor. Please, promise me.”

“You speak as if you no be back, Her-my-nee,” he said hoarsely and she didn’t have to look to know he was crying, too. “You promise me you vill return and I make you promise. I haff know you vill be back to keep me here.”

“I can’t make that promise, Viktor. You know I can’t.”

“Then you know I no able make promise you vish me make. I vill be there if you need me, Her-my-nee.”

“No,” she said again. “I promise I’ll return here. When it’s all over, I’ll meet you here by the sea and we’ll have a chance at a future.”

“You only make promise so I make promise,” he scolded softly before his arms tightened around her. “I vill promise wait here for you, Her-my-nee. Ven it is ofer, ven this var is done, ve vill valk on beach together again.”

She pulled back and wiped his cheek with her thumb before she leaned up and kissed him. Neither wanted to let go and they kissed until she had to go catch her plane. “I love you,” she whispered as she finally let him go.

“I love you, too, Her-my-nee,” he said softly as he finally released her hand and let her go.

Part ix
The house was in ruins. It was deserted and she could see that the roof had fallen in. She was taken back to her first sighting of it nearly three years ago. It had been beautiful, well cared for, home for a few amazing weeks. Now it was destroyed, a reminder of the war that had just ended.

Hermione slowly made her way to the opening where the door had once been. She had been so foolish, so childish to believe that the war would never leave Britain. She had thought Viktor was safe here in his house by the sea, an escape from a reality that had grown worse with every passing day. When word had come that Death Eaters were attacking Purebloods in Bulgaria, she’d known he was one of their targets. She’d been unable to get word to him fast enough, the owl arriving after the damage had been done. She’d spent the last two years fighting to make it back here, just to see it for herself.

“It can be rebuilt.”

She turned and looked at the man who was leaning against the crumbling garden wall. His cane was resting beside him and she knew it had been an effort for him to travel so soon after his discharge from St. Mungos. He’d not wanted her to come back here alone, though. “Yes, it can,” she agreed as she walked over to join him.

His fingers pushed her hair away from her face, lightly tracing the scar on her cheek that magic could not heal. “You kept your promise, Her-my-nee,” he told her with a gentle smile before he kissed her forehead.

“You broke yours,” she scolded playfully as she felt tears in her eyes. She hugged him close and sighed. “I’m glad. If you’d been here---“

“I vasn’t,” he reminded her softly. “Ve vill rebuild house, yes? Var is ofer and now it is time for valk on beach, yes?”

Hermione looked up at Viktor and smiled. “Yes,” she agreed softly before she kissed him. It was time for them to start their future, together.