Hermione looked up from the book she’d been looking through when she heard someone whisper behind her. She turned and frowned when she saw that she was alone in the aisle. She was about to go back to her book when she heard the voice again.
She didn’t recognize the voice, which piqued her curiosity. The library was nearly empty, as it usually was after dinner, so she couldn’t think of anyone who would be saying her name. Well, trying to say her name. The logical choice seemed to be one of the Durmstrang students, but she hadn’t spoken to any of them since their arrival at Hogwarts so she couldn’t see why one of them would know her name.
That attempt was followed by a muttered word that she didn’t understand. Hermione walked to the bookshelf that stood between her and the boy saying her name. She told herself that it wasn’t spying since he had mentioned her name. It was a weak excuse but she was intrigued and had to know what Durmstrang student actually knew her name and why he was trying to pronounce it.
She put her book down and leaned forward to try to see through the stacks of books. She frowned when her efforts didn’t show her anything except the books on the next aisle. After a moment of contemplation, and another attempt at her name, she removed a thick volume from the shelf and put it on the floor. She took off her shoes, so she’d not scuff the cover, and stepped onto the book so she could try a higher shelf.
The boy was tall. She couldn’t see very well, but there was enough of a gap for her to see black hair. Of course, most of the boys at Durmstrang had dark hair so that wasn’t much help. He was pacing as he attempted to say her name. His head was down and his voice was low and quiet. She wouldn’t have heard him at all if she’d not been getting a book off the shelf. It was silly, but she liked that he respected the rules of the library when so many students refused to lower their voices.
“Hermy-own,” he said slowly before he muttered again. “Vhy can I not say name? I haff vanted to say name for veeks. Her-mown-ninny.”
Instead of cringing at the attempts he was making, none of which were very close, Hermione found it endearing that he was trying so hard. She admired his persistence and focus, even if she was still confused as to why he was saying her name. The rest of his words were actually really quite good, and he spoke slowly to make sure they came out the way he wished. If she were being completely honest, she wasn’t entirely unaffected by his husky accent, either, though that made her feel like one of the giggly girls in her dorm who sighed and fluttered about over the boys from Durmstrang and their ‘cute accents’.
Hermione was not a giggly girl.
After she pushed those foolish thoughts from her mind, she concentrated once again on who the boy was. She ignored the way he walked, which was surprisingly graceful considering he was tall and his robes hung off rather broad shoulders. She ignored the way her belly flip-flopped whenever he struggled with her name, and she certainly didn’t smile a rather goofy smile when he got closer to it than his other attempts. While she was ignoring so many things, she added his hair, which looked soft and was a dark black that she wasn’t at all curious to see more closely to determine if it really did have almost blue highlights or if that was just her imagination, and his hands, which were large and capable and constantly running through his hair as he looked at the floor.
This was embarrassing, she finally determined. Boys did not cause this sort of reaction for her. She was Hermione Granger, class swot, know-it-all, and far more interested in her books and studies than dark-haired boys with large hands and a graceful, yet almost predatory, walk. Despite her best efforts to just forget the Durmstrang student muttering her name, Hermione leaned forward against the shelf to try to see his face. All she managed to do was knock a book onto the floor.
The book landed with a thump that sounded far louder than it really had been. Hermione’s face instantly turned red as she ducked down and bit her lip. The boy turned and looked up, frowning as he stared at the bookshelf she was hiding behind. Her eyes widened when she saw who it was, and wondered if she had possibly fallen asleep while doing her homework. That was really the only explanation, unless she’d misunderstood and he’d not been saying her name at all.
While she was cursing herself for imagining things and hearing her name when it was obviously not being spoken by a mysterious Durmstrang student, she didn’t notice the said object of her observation walking closer to the bookshelf. In fact, she was too busy chastising herself for being foolish and acting so ridiculous that she didn’t realize he had crouched down to locate her through the shelves until he made a noise that sounded like a cross between a gasp and a groan.
Hermione looked up when she heard the noise and found herself looking at Viktor Krum. His hair had fallen across his forehead and it looked like his cheeks were flushed. “Oh,” she whispered when their eyes met. His eyes were really quite beautiful; a dark brown that was nearly black and it looked like there were flecks of gold around his irises. His eyebrows were bushy, his nose was long and crooked from what could have been one or two breaks, and his lips were chapped and thin. His face was also all harsh angles, high cheekbones, strong jaw, and his ears would probably have stuck out just slightly if his hair didn’t cover up the tips. Regardless, when it was all put together, she found herself taken aback by the rugged beauty that she’d honestly overlooked until now.
“Are you vell?” he asked softly before his tongue darted out to run across his lower lip, which she noticed was fuller than she’d first thought.
“I’m fine,” she said in her library voice, which was soft but not quite a whisper. “I just, uh, dropped a book.”
“I am Viktor Krum,” he told her in a low voice, as if everyone at the school didn’t already know him.
“I’m Hermione Granger,” she replied quietly, speaking slowly so he could understand her but not in a tone that made him think she thought he was stupid.
“Hermy-own,” he repeated slowly. He smiled shyly and reached his hand through the two shelves to hesitantly brush a lock of hair away from her face. “I haff been vanting to speak vit you for avile.”
“You have?” Hermione could feel the warmth of his fingers against her cheek and was disappointed when he pulled his hand back. This wasn’t good, she decided. She should excuse herself and go back to her table to finish her homework. No one would have been more shocked than she was when she heard herself ask, “Would you like to sit with me, Viktor?”
She blinked when she realized what she’d asked, unable to believe she’d behaved so boldly and especially not with someone as famous and sought after as Viktor Krum. He looked at her for a moment, but she couldn’t tell what he was thinking. His face showed the usual serious broodiness she’d noticed the other times she’d glanced his way during meals or in passing around the school. Then he did something she hadn’t seen before: he smiled, a real smile that made him even more appealing as his lips curved beyond the slight twist of the shy, sheepish smile he’d shown her earlier.
“I vould like that very much, Hermy-own,” he said as he smiled and looked at her as if she’d just done something far more remarkable than ask him to share her table.
Hermione flushed but smiled shyly in return. They both stood up and walked to the end of the aisle, where they faced each other for the first time without the bookcases in between them. She took his hand tentatively and led him down the aisle to the table where she had her things. When his fingers slowly curled around hers, she glanced up at him and saw him still looking at her as if she were something special instead of just Hermione. He still hadn’t pronounced her name correctly, but suddenly that didn’t seem too important. He was trying to learn it, which was what really mattered. After all, it was just a name.