How Mum Came to Work at Durmstrang

 

 

“Your family isn't originally from here?” A small boy with shaggy blond hair peered at the dark-haired, stocky boy sitting next to him at a small round table. “I thought Durmstrang didn't take in foreigners.”

 

“Olav!” An older girl with braided brown hair and a star pinned to her robes looked at her brother, her mouth agape. “That's rude!”

 

“I was born here,” the other boy explained, his cheeks turning pink. “After my parents got married. My father was already working here when mum came to use the facilities to groom Blood Roses.”

 

The older girl stared at him and blinked. “What did you say your last name was, again?”

 

Pavel Granger.” He let out a chuckle at her quizzical expression. “My cousins had already been born, and since mum was the last of her line they decided all the boys they had would have her last name.”

 

“You're Viktor Krum's son?” Her voice came out louder than intended and several students turned around to look at him.

 

“Yea.” He squirmed uncomfortably under the appraising looks of the other students. “And before you ask, I'm hopeless on a broomstick.”

 

Most of the other students turned back to their supper at this revelation and Pavel relaxed.

 

“But Professor Granger teaches the Dark Arts, doesn't she?” Olav spluttered. “How can she if she went to school at Hogwarts?”

 

“Ah,” Pavel said as he caught a glimpse of his mother, trying to look nonchalant as she watched him. Her eyes were gleaming with tears and his Godfather, Papi gave her a napkin to dab at her face. She promised she wouldn't embarrass him his first night here! He fought back a groan and turned his attention back to the two students sharing a table with him. “That's a pretty cool story.”

 

- + - + -

 

Hermione Granger frowned at the flower pot in front of her and poked it with her wand. The small glass bulb that was emerging from the rich soil wobbled slightly.

 

“I couldn't tell you, Hermione.” Neville Longbottom adjusted the gold-rimmed glasses on the end of his nose and straightened up. “It should have burst by now.”

 

“It should have bloomed two weeks ago,” Hermione said bitterly.

 

“You replaced the nourishment spell didn't you?” Neville looked at her levelly.

 

“It shouldn't have made a difference!” Hermione said testily.

 

Neville snorted at her. “You can't just go around replacing spells with other ones.”

 

“It's dark magic!”

 

“And you have clearance for a reason!” Neville said huffily. “If you can't do it, hire someone that will.”

 

Hermione glared at him for a moment. “Like who?”

 

“Hogwarts Herbology department can't do it, but Durmstrang probably can.” He shrugged.

 

She seemed to mull this over for a moment. “I suppose you're right. You know the head of their Herbology department, don't you?”

 

Herbology is part of their Potions department, but yes.” Neville cocked a corner of his mouth at her.

 

“Do you think they can help?”

 

“They know a lot more than I do about carnivorous plants.” Neville shrugged. “What's the harm in asking?”

 

Hermione nodded. She'd have to get a letter from McGonagall and the Minister, but it wasn't an impossible task.

 

-=-=-

 

Hermione stood in Headmistress McGonagall's office, her orange, flat-faced cat rubbing his face on her legs.

 

“It will be no problem,” McGonagall assured her. “Crookshanks is always welcome at Hogwarts.”

 

“It's just-- I don't really have anyone to look after him--”

 

“Molly Weasley will always have a space at her table for you,” McGonagall said firmly. “You should send her an owl.”

 

Hermione allowed herself a small smile and took a deep breath as she nodded. She picked up an olive green pack and hitched it over her shoulder.

 

“Crooks, you're going to stay with Min-Min. Don't you two get into too much trouble.” She scratched him behind the ears before he happily padded over to McGonagall's desk and butted her with his head.

 

McGonagall scratched him roughly and purred loudly at him. “Don't you worry about us.

 

“I don't want to get another howler from Mr. Filch,” Hermione said sternly.

 

McGonagall pooh-poohed her and bustled her over to the large fireplace. “We'll be just fine. Give my regards to the Headmaster.”

 

Hermione threw a handful of Floo powder into the low flames before stepping into the hearth.

 

-=-

 

Headteacher Dulka sat behind his large desk, his fingers steepled and a sharp eyebrow cocked at the man pacing in front of him.

 

“Viktor, you are being ridiculous.”

 

Viktor glared at the Headteacher as the older man rolled his eyes. His hand went to smooth down his sharp widow's peak and he drew out a handkerchief to dab at his forehead.

 

“You were very young--”

 

“I know what I saw, Dima.” Viktor glared at the Headteacher. “My father said he saw the same thing when he was a Watcher.”

 

“Well, your sighting didn't turn into anything, did it?” Dulka's heavy-lidded eyes gazed at Viktor.

 

“We don't know that,” Viktor insisted. “I might have seen signs years before anything is due to happen.”

 

“Divination is an art.” Dulka shrugged. “It's why we don't teach it here.”

 

“If we did, maybe things wouldn't be so unclear for us--”

 

Green flames rose up in the stone fireplace behind him and he turned to see Hermione Granger step through. For a moment he went stiff and images flashed through his head.

 

Fire. The sea boiling. Wizards riding dragons. A mountain cracking open. Hermione handing him a pouch before he flew off on his own dragon.

 

His heart leapt in his chest and a smug expression pasted itself across his face. He had seen it all those years ago. It wasn't his imagination.

 

“Hermione!” Viktor opened his arms wide. “So good to see you!”

 

She smiled and hugged him with one arm while the other cradled a flowerpot.

 

“Blood roses. A daunting task for anyone.” He smiled down at her fondly as she rolled her eyes.

 

Herbology isn't really my thing,” Hermione admitted.

 

“We are glad to be of assistance.” Dulka said as he rose to his feet, nervously smoothing down his hair with his hand. “I am Headteacher Dima Dulka. You already know Viktor, of course.”

 

“Thank you, Headteacher,” Hermione said gratefully. “I wouldn't be able to do this without your help.”

 

“Once we got the clear from our Ministry who were we to refuse?” Dulka said warmly as his eyes looked Hermione over.

 

Viktor furrowed hie eyebrows at Dulka for a moment before turning back to Hermione. “I have seen to your quarters myself. I have a feeling you will be surprised.” Hie eyes twinkled as she peered at him suspiciously.

 

“I've written down a list of things you should know and a schedule of our day at Durmstrang,” Dima said as he handed Hermione a scroll. “Our students have been instructed to treat you as they would any other instructor.”

 

“Thank you,” Hermione said as she took the scroll from him. “You should let me know when you're available, Viktor.”

 

“Anytime, except for ten in the morning until noon. That's when I have class.”

 

“Every day?” Hermione's eyebrows went up.

 

“We follow a more simple system than Hogwarts,” Dulka said proudly. “Highly efficient.”

 

“I'm excited to see what Durmstrang has to offer,” Hermione shook his hand.

 

“Right now, we offer dinner,” Viktor said as he took the flower pot from her. “We are three hours away from England and it is our dinnertime.”

 

Hermione looked surprised. “Really? I knew Durmstrang was unplottable and north, but I didn't expect it to be that far east.”

 

“I have a feeling you didn't expect it to be so far north, either,” Viktor joked as he walked her through the office.

 

She had a moment to look around and she wasn't surprised to see that Durmstrang was built on efficiency rather than form; the Head-teacher’s office was a square, windowless room with a fireplace, a desk, and two chairs set in front of it. Bookshelves with locked wooden doors lined the wall across from the desk and the seal of Durmstrang was carved into the stone behind the Head-teacher’s desk. A dark carpet spread over the stone floor to ward off the chill.

 

When he opened the door leading from the Head-teacher’s office, Hermione's breath was taken away by the chill. She was on a long balcony, stairs going up one end and down the other. Arched supports were set into the low wall, rising to a stone ceiling above her.

 

“All your hallways are outdoors?” Hermione squeaked as she pulled her wand from her sleeve and cast a weather charm around her.

 

“It is a good way to make sure the students do not dawdle, is it not?” Viktor chuckled. “You'll get used to the way things are done here quickly. We're not quite so...” he seemed to search for a word.

 

“Primitive?” Dulka offered as he stepped out of his office with them, turning to lock the door and sweep a fur cloak over his shoulders.

 

“I was going to say 'limited.'” Viktor threw a look at the other man, who chuckled and shook his head.

 

They passed several blue doors before they started down a set of stairs. Hermione was relieved to see they were clear and dry; not icy at all, even though she could smell sea air.

 

She could see snow blowing beyond the balcony, but the flakes seemed to hit some sort of invisible barrier before they could drift onto the walkway.

 

“This isn't primitive?” Hermione retorted as she drew her arms around herself, her weather charm not strong enough to ward off all the chill in the air.

 

“It is why we are so strong!” Dulka's laugh came out as a bark.

 

At the next landing Hermione saw an identical balcony running around the large building, this time the doors were painted red.

 

“Do the colors mean anything?” Hermione asked?

 

“Office doors are unadorned,” Viktor explained. “Astronomy rooms have blue doors; classes are usually held on the higher levels of the Master Stack, but today someone else needed their usual classroom sot they were relocated.”

 

“Master Stack?” Hermione asked.

 

“We're a former Goblin fortress,” Dulka said, smiling. “There are three large smokestacks that expel steam and smoke. The classrooms are heated by pumps that siphon off heat. The Master Stack is the tallest of them and houses some of our softer classes.”

 

Hermione didn't say anything, but nodded. “Do they change around? I mean, you said Astronomy is usually up there. Is it ever held anywhere different?”

 

“They change depending on what auditorium is needed for it's features,” Viktor said proudly. “The highest level of the Main Stack is always used for defense; the second for offices; but the floors underneath that can still be used for sky observation. Astronomy usually has the highest  auditorium, but sometimes another class may need it, so it switches. Their Time Pieces tell them if there are any changes.”

 

Viktor handed her what looked like a brass pocket watch as they wound their way down the Main Stack. She popped it open and saw three pillars etched inside it. Small twinkling lights in different colors dotted the pillars. She watched as a small white flashing light went down a level as they descended a staircase.

 

“An interactive schedule map,” Hermione said, her voice impressed. “Very nice.”

 

“I got the idea from you.” Viktor blushed as he grinned at her. “I modeled it after the coins you made for Dumbledore's Army. You can use it to find me.”

 

“This is a lot more complex than what I came up with.” Hermione turned it over in her hands.

 

"I had help putting it together," Viktor admitted. He explained how it worked and set it for her so he was signified with a red dot.

 

“I think we may want to put your project in a secure location before we eat.” Dulka suggested. “Will you be wanting to put it in your quarters or is our Herbology department acceptable?”

 

“If there's room under a beta light I'd be grateful.”

 

They made their way over a small bridge that led to one of the smaller stacks, it's walls also ringed with classes. Dulka approached a green door with no handle and pointed his wand at it. He murmured a word and the door swung open.

 

“We can get you started here,” Viktor told her as he helped her arrange her plant on a table with others under a gleaming pink light that seemed to pulse gold. “Put the tip of your wand in the small box near the door. It has a small hole in the front.”

 

“What is it for?” Hermione asked warily.

 

“Stealing your identity and replacing you with a doppelganger so that I may steal you away forever.” Dulka said with a quirk of his mouth.

 

Viktor laughed at Hermione's expression. “It works as a Muggle card reader would. Right now you can't even get into your quarters.”

 

“Shortage of Herbology teachers?” Hermione asked as she approached the box.

 

“Shortage of all teachers.” Dulma's expression grew dark. “Every one wants to work in the private sector when they get their Mastership now.” He scowled. “No one wants to teach anymore.”

 

“I'm sorry to hear that,” Hermione said, and she meant it.

 

She slid her wand into the slot and Dulka chanted a few words over it as he stuck his wand in a small slot on the top of the box.

 

Her wand glowed blue for a moment as he withdrew his and pocketed it.

 

“You have level three security now,” he explained. “Classrooms, storage area, your living quarters, my living quarters, and the teachers' lounge.”

 

“Your quarters?” Hermione said with a confused look on her face.

 

“If there's an emergency in the night I like to make it easy to find me. If I'm not in my quarters I've gone through one of the portals. Just put your head through and call for me.”

 

“Portals?” Hermione asked, her voice weak.

 

“The Headteacher has the privilege of having portals that go directly to some of the main parts of the school. The kitchens, the library, his office.” Viktor held the door open as they went back out into the chilly air. “No one else can enter them from the other side besides the Headteacher. If you walk through one of them from his quarters you cannot go back through, but you can poke your head or arms through.”

 

“As long as I don't walk through completely?” Hermione asked as she wrapped her arms around herself. There was only so much an enchantment could do against the elements. Viktor nodded. “That's quite handy. Do you know how they were made?”

 

“Much like Hogwarts, there is much we don't know about the construction of our school.” Dulka smiled at her, flashing his white teeth.

 

“Was it somewhere else before it was here?” Hermione asked.

 

“Before the Goblin Rebellion there was another school near the border of China,” Dulka admitted. “It was destroyed in the Rebellion.”

 

“Oh,” Hermione said in sympathy as she remembered the wreckage of Hogwarts. “I'm so very sorry.”

 

“This is a better school, I would imagine,” Viktor interjected. “The last one was in the middle of the wilds. Very dangerous and it didn't have the best sanitation system.” He wrinkled his nose.

 

“I'd imagine there are still goblin enchantments active,” Hermione mused.

 

“We do find one from time to time,” Dulka admitted. “But you needn't worry about your safety. The lower levels have been sealed off.”

 

“How far down does it go?” Hermione asked, her eyes widening as they went down a final staircase and were confronted with a black set of double-doors.

 

“We've got everything cleared down to the tenth level,” Viktor said as he pointed his wand at the door and held it open for Hermione as it clicked open. “But everything below the fifth level is sealed off.”

 

“That doesn't seem like very far,” Hermione said, hoping her voice didn't show her discomfort.

 

“It's further than you think,” Dulka said cryptically.

 

They walked down a circular hallway that she was sure ringed the entire stack and finally came to a large, round room with a large black spot on the floor. They all stood on it and Viktor pointed his wand at the area they were standing on and said: “Eating Hall!”

 

Hermione felt a tug as if she were using the Floo network and she was swept through space before her feet landed on a hard stone floor and the sound of people filled her ears.

 

She breathed in deeply and her eyes went wide as she took in the room.

 

It was large and circular with a low ceiling; nearly everything was made of the same dark wood. Students sat in groups of eight or less at round tables sprinkled throughout the room, eating and talking.

 

Torches and small bowls of fire lit the room, bright balls of red light glowing withing their flames. In the center of the room a large fire-pit roared with life, a house-elf rotated an entire cow turning on a spit, crackling and scenting the air with meat and smoke. A black panel was suspended above it, sucking in the smoke and leaving the air breathable. On the far side of the room a large table was full of adults, eating and laughing uproariously.

 

A small blond boy leapt to his feet and blew a small silver whistle. Almost immediately, the students got to their feet and bowed in the direction of Hermione and the Durmstrang teachers.

 

Hermione felt her cheeks burn.

 

“Well, now you've made your impression, Dima. Can the students go back to their meals now?” Viktor sighed as the other teachers looked on with bemused looks.

 

Dulka lifted his hand and motioned for the students to sit back down and they did what they were told; some of them going back to their meals, some looking on curiously, and some openly scowled.

 

Hermione was glad when they were seated at the faculty table and all of the students had gone back to their meals.

 

The faculty however, regarded her with mild curiosity and the Herbology teacher, Milos “Papi” Papadopoulos, was more than happy to discuss Hermione's problem over the evening meal, in spite of some of the other faculty members turning slightly green when discussion turned to dark magic requirements and substitution theories.

 

“The blood must be fresh, mind you.” He gestured with a chicken leg and poured himself more wine with his other hand. “If it starts to clot the whole thing is ruined.”

 

A slight witch with dark hair and pale skin tossed her fork onto her plate and gave him an exasperated look. An older wizard with a grizzly beard and large nose snickered behind her back, quickly taking a drink of wine from his pewter goblet when she turned around.

 

Papi, I'm sure we can discuss the details of the experiment later,” Viktor said gently.

 

The Herbology teacher chuckled at him. “Over brandy, I think. We can toddle over to your Blood Roses and take a look at them after dinner.”

 

-+-+-

 

Hermione snuggled further under her covers. She knew she should be getting up. The roses had a specific schedule and she needed to stick to it.

 

She also knew Papi was probably already up and fawning over them. He was sure to do the procedures before she got there anyway. She just observed and took notes while he did the actual work. She had always been squeamish when it came to Dark Magic and had been relieved when the older Herbologist offered to do it for her. The last few weeks had been very informative for her.

 

“It is no problem.” He had waved her off. “I haven't had the opportunity to work with Blood Roses since my work with Grindlewald. We graduated together.”

 

“You don't look nearly that old!” Hermione had protested.

 

“It's amazing what fresh air will do for you,” he had said mysteriously.

 

There was a soft knock at her door and she started for a moment before grumbling and forcing herself out of bed. She hopped over the cold stone floor in her bare feet to get to the table her wand was sitting on. As she walked to the door she gave it a wave and a wave of warmth chased the chill out of the room.

 

She flung her door open to see a surprised Viktor, cradling a basket in his arms. He stared at her for a moment, standing in the doorway in her nightgown, before he remembered himself.

 

“The bubble popped last night. I thought I'd bring you breakfast to celebrate.” He smiled down at her as her face broke out into a wide smile and she stepped aside to let him in. “I know there's still a lot to be done, but the bubble popping is a good sign, yes?”

 

“Yes,” Hermione reassured him. “It's a very good sign.”

 

“Then it is not too early for drinking?” Viktor said mischievously as he pulled a bottle of champagne out of the basket.

 

“I hope there's more than just that in there.” Hermione laughed as he set the basket down on the small table in the center of her room.

 

“Our elves took great care,” Viktor said in an amused voice. “Apparently they got a sharp letter from Hogwarts threatening to curse them if they didn't feed you well.”

 

Winky,” Hermione groaned. “Since Dobby died she's been a little... off...”

 

“I thought it was one of your  charges.” Viktor grinned at her.

 

“Oh, no!” Hermione laughed as she watched him unpack bread, cheeses, and fruit. “She's not one of the elves helped by S.P.E.W. She hates it.”

 

Then  why?” Viktor asked, his eyebrows raised.

 

“I'm still not entirely sure,” Hermione admitted.

 

“Well, she is the one to thank for the contents of this basket.”

 

“I'll be sure to thank her later.” She waved her wand and two rocks she had on her bookshelf transfigured into a pair of champagne flutes.

 

He poured the golden liquid into the glasses and they clinked them together before drinking.

 

“So, are you going to tell me about your visions?” Hermione asked.

 

Viktor choked on his champagne and Hermione pounded him on the back. “How did you know?”

 

“I've seen a diviner have a vision before. You don't speak them out loud?”

 

“I'm not gifted with prophecy,” Viktor admitted as he wiped his face with the sleeve of his robes. “I just... see things.”

 

“What did you see?” Hermione asked him.

 

He told her, his cheeks burning a little at her inclusion.

 

“What do you think was in the bag?” Hermione asked, her voice a little high. She drank down the rest of her champagne quickly.

 

Viktor hesitated. “Halron's Folly, is my guess. There was something pulsating light in the bag. It was the right color progression.”

 

“But that takes Blood Roses to make,” Hermione said, her voice a squeak.

 

“Aged Blood Roses.” Viktor corrected her. “So this is at least five years in the future.”

 

Hermione nodded as she poured herself another glass. Viktor waved his wand to clean himself up.

 

“Do you know what could be going on?” Hermione asked nervously.

 

“I wish I could tell you yes,” Viktor said, a pained look on his face.

 

She nodded. “Well, Dumbledore always said prophecies showed possibilities rather than the set future.”

 

“We know to look for things now,” Viktor ventured. “Maybe we can stop whatever it is before it gets to that point.”

 

“I'll keep a supply of Blood Roses, just in case.” Hermione let out a nervous laugh.

 

Viktor nodded.

 

“Who else knows about this?” She asked

 

“Head-teacher Dulka,” Viktor admitted.

 

She shook her head before pouring herself more champagne and draining the flute.

 

Viktor chuckled.

 

“What's so funny?”

 

“Are you sure you're not Russian?”

 

Hermione made a face at him. “Not all Russians get drunk before breakfast.”

 

“And neither will you,” Viktor said with a raise of his eyebrow. “Let us get some of this food into our stomachs.” He waved a wand at the fruit and they fell apart in neat slices.

 

“I should tell Professor McGonagall.” Her eyes tried to gauge his reaction, but to her surprise, he nodded.

 

“Whatever this is, we've never seen anything like it before.” Viktor admitted. “Especially if we're willing to use such an experimental device.”

 

“Maybe it won't be experimental by the time we need to use it,” Hermione suggested hopefully.

 

“Then you should get working on it,” Viktor said seriously.

 

She was silent for a moment before nodding in defeat. “I should have known there was a reason for Durmstrang agreeing to me coming here without much negotiation.”

 

“I'm sorry,” Viktor said regretfully. “I couldn't be sure, but when you came through the Floo the Sight was so strong--”

 

Hermione waved a hand at him. “You forget,” she said with mock pompousness, “I helped save the world before.”

 

He laughed out loud at this and she grinned at him.

 

“You do know what this means?” Hermione asked him, a wry smile playing around her lips.

 

“You'll have to get used to Durmstrang if you're going to have to learn enough Dark Magic to help create Halron's Folly.” Viktor tried to look innocent as he cut a hunk of cheese off for himself.

 

“I see you're not upset about this,” Hermione teased him.

 

“Why would I? You're not taking my job.” Viktor chuckled at her.

 

“I suppose this means I'll have to be more hands-on with the Blood Roses.” Hermione sighed deeply. “Ick.”

 

Viktor grinned widely before taking her hand. “I am glad you are staying, Hermione.”

 

Hermione felt herself blush. “I don't have any choice, but if this is a clue to what we should be doing, we should do it.”

 

“We will be doing this together, Hermione.” Viktor insisted. “You will not be alone.”

 

“Never thought I would be,” Hermione smiled at him shyly.

 

He gazed at her for a moment before leaning in and kissing her. He pulled back and they both blushed.

 

“Well,” Hermione said, breaking the silence. “If I've got to learn a whole new subject and learn how to make a Reality Device, I'd better get started.”

 

“You'll like it here,” Viktor assured her before leaning in and kissing her again.

 

She giggled at him and blushed prettily. “I have no doubt of that.”