Just after this...
The door swings shut, and even as Viktor hears the click his fingers are scrabbling at the wood, grasping for the handle. But it is already too late, for when he opens the door again, the bar is gone. Alright,
he says, to himself, beginning and then stopping, taking a moment to recover. He allows the door to close once more and takes a step back, brushing dirt from his robes in anxiety. His fingers twitch.Calm down, calm down,
letting breath come in through his nose and out through his mouth, feeling his heartbeat in his ears and the tips of his thumbs. Too much clutter in the mind, he reminds himself, is dangerous. He learned that at Durmstrang. He learned that at his very first Quidditch practice. So he closes his eyes and focuses on being blank.
And after a moment, his mind is nothing but the memory of a blue sky, and purpose.
And he opens his eyes.
Viktor lets his wand drop into his hand, detachedly, and raises it; a moment later a blast of stormy light strikes the door and blows it apart. Before the debris has a chance to settle he strides forwards, pushing inside and hoping to take advantage of any resulting confusion. It takes a moment before his eyes adjust to the darkness and he notices that he is passing between rows of pews. K. always did have a good sense of irony.
Appropriately enough the man himself is standing at the altar, his hands folded, his expression mild and attentive. Viktor notices this with a mixture of surprise and relief - he had been expecting a quick and violent ambush. The hairs on the back of his neck stop pickling, but he remains wary.
K. begins the conversation, because he always did love the sound of his own voice: “Hello, Viktor.”
Krum’s only reply is a grunt.
“You come all this way and you don’t even say hello? That doesn’t seem right. Doesn’t seem polite. Why don’t you say hello?”
Relenting, Viktor says, “Hello.”
At this, K. looks pleased. “Much better. How did you find me, Viktor?”
“I am not going to tell you that,” he replies.
“Does it have something to do with the scars upon your arm?” K. cuts in, quick but offhandedly, throwing Viktor off guard. “Very well, don’t tell me that. What are you doing here, Viktor?”
“I am here to kill you.”
K. sighs with what Viktor considers to be an excessive amount of drama, his sleeves falling back as his eyes and his hands are raised to the sky, as though asking, ‘Whatever shall I do with him?’
“Oh, Viktor. You’re not going to be able to kill me. You should know that. You are much too terrified of me.”
Krum bristles, fingers gripping tight on his wand. “I am not--
“Viktor, you are haunted by the very thought of me.” He lays it out casually, presenting a list of facts. “You came alone, because you don’t want anyone else to see when you give in. You keep giving me the advantage, going where I am, when I say, doing what I tell you to, because you know that you have no chance of winning against me anyway. I think, Viktor, that you should just admit that the real
reason you’re here is that you know you are nothing without me.””No-”
“Viktor! Forget it! You are rendered nearly speechless by the very sight of me. You can’t even bring yourself to say my name!”
And Viktor stares back at K., eyes wide and panicked, voice choked off. He can feel it, he knows it’s all right. He was meant to follow this man, to obey. To be his pawn. And he - can’t -
The silence in the church stretches out, opressive. K. gives Viktor a pitying look.
“Now, why don’t you --””Ka...”
K. steps forwards, imposing, looming, looking down - always looking down. “What did you say?”
But Viktor takes it all in, captures it all: the thin arms and long fingers and the beard that he twists when he’s worried and those grey-green eyes, eyes the colour of something decayed, and the lies the lies the lies --
And Viktor realizes that in the end, all there is to this man is words and imagery. That is all that makes him seem great, seem strong. He is a shell, a house of cards, built out of the things he has convinced the world he is. And Viktor realizes that without too much difficulty, he can see through the whole thing.
“Karkaroff,” he says, and his voice is strong. “I am here to kill you. Karkaroff!”
And Karkaroff knows fear.
The room explodes at once in light - brilliant jets of red that strike the altar and reduce it to dust, that strike the floor where Viktor stood just seconds before and light it aflame. There’s movement, now, and heavy footsteps: Viktor rushes to take cover, diving behind a row of pews as something bright rushes past his head. Karkaroff for his part does not stop moving - rushing from cover to cover, throwing out spells so rapidly that his shouts are an angry stream of Latin-Russian-Greek that blends to nonsense. From his cover, Viktor avoids what he can and deflects the rest, spelling faster than he ever has before.
Karkaroff’s movements bring him gradually but unavoidably closer to where Viktor is hiding, and Krum for his part knows it will not be much longer before he can no longer simply evade. So he makes his move: bursting upwards, using a forceful blast to shove the heavy wooden pew in front of him, towards Karkaroff. The older Wizard is not fazed, turning the massive bench into feathers which drift harmlessly to the ground. In this moment, however, Krum takes up the attack, hurling a powerful curse in Karkaroff’s direction; it strikes a glancing blow, and blood gushes from Karkaroff’s nose.
And now the two dance closer, their movements never stopping - they are like two rival conductors in the world’s most deadly orchestra, their every movement spelling and dispelling, turning the church to fire and lightning and ash. The air soon takes on the sharp scent of burnt flesh. A moment, and then they are so close that each spell must be deflected the moment it’s spoken, and then they are so close that Viktor is grabbing Karkaroff’s arm, and twisting it back.
The elder Wizard cries out as something cracks, and his wand drops to the dusty ground. Krum wastes not a moment, but kicks it away and brings his own wand up to Karkaroff’s throat, holding it steady.
They stand there, locked close, saying nothing. Karkaroff’s breath comes slowly, through his mouth, as the blood from his nose would cause him to choke if he were to inhale. Viktor, refusing to take his eyes off of Karkaroff’s, takes quick stock of himself; he realizes after a moment that there is a sharp throbbing sensation coming from his left leg. One got through after all, apparently.
“You’ve disarmed me,” Karkaroff says, slowly, taking his time. “And not with a spell at all. I suppose I should have thought of that, really. Must be getting old.”
“As old as you vill ever get,” Viktor tells him, between catch-up breaths.
Karkaroff nods. “Ah, yes. The killing. Well, get to it then.”
But Viktor hesitates. And as soon as he does so, Karkaroff raises an eyebrow at him.
“Didn’t think this far, maybe? How are you going to do it? Avada Kedavra? Do you think you could? Or perhaps you will Crucio me to death - I know you could, I taught you that myself. Or maybe you will go for the poetic option, and not kill me at all - maybe you’ll use Imperio. Keep me under your control.” He adds, “That’s what I would do.”
“You sicken me,” Krum gasps, at last.
“Well. You embarass me,” says Karkaroff, and his free arm stabs upwards, driving a curved knife deep into Viktor’s stomach.
And then a number of things happen in rapid succession:
Viktor’s hand releases it’s hold on Karkaroff’s - Karkaroff breaks free.
Viktor falls to his knees, one hand grasping at the knife handle still embedded in his gut, even as Karkaroff dives for his wand.
As one, they each raise their wands and cry out:
Light fills the air.