When Hermione first heard his name, it was spoken with the excitement of a Quidditch fan as Ron regaled her with stories of Krum this and Krum that. She hadn’t been particularly impressed when she’d seen him at the Quidditch World Cup. He was a good player, if one went in for that sort of thing, but he seemed rude, distant and more than a little arrogant.
Her opinion hadn’t changed once Durmstrang arrived at Hogwarts. Viktor Krum had seemed like any other talented athlete who didn’t think there was anything in life except sport. There were always girls around him, but she honestly didn’t think he cared much for them all. It was when she noticed his attitude towards the groupies that she actually began to pay attention to him.
Hermione has always liked puzzles. There is something satisfying in finding a solution or figuring out what makes something work. Harry’s inclusion in the champions worries her because she’s read the history of the tournament and knows how dangerous it is. Focusing on something else allows her to take her mind off her fear for her best friend, which is good because she doesn’t want to worry Harry anymore than he already is.
Viktor Krum isn’t handsome but there is something striking about him. His nose is long and crooked, looking as if he may have broken it once or twice in the past. His face is all sharp angles, his jaw and cheekbones harsh lines lacking any curve. His lips are thin and seemed to be permanently chapped, though his bottom lip is slightly fuller in a way that proves to be somewhat distracting during her observations of him. He is tall with broad shoulders and a slender build. She thinks he looks strong and capable and believes his palms are probably rough and calloused from all his years playing Quidditch. He is not pretty or good-looking in a way that seems to appeal to the majority but she has grown to appreciate the angles and lines.
She doesn’t think any of the girls that fawn over him care about his looks as it’s quite obvious they only care about his fame and talent on the Quidditch pitch. None of them seem to notice his attempts to avoid them or realize he is reading difficult texts with apparent ease every evening when he hides in the library. Hermione has noticed, of course, because she gives her full attention to a problem when she is trying to figure it out.
It has been several weeks and she is no closer to figuring out the enigma that is Viktor Krum than she was when she first became intrigued. If anything, she is becoming more fascinated instead of satisfied with answers. He surprises her with his actions and her preconceived notions about him have been forgotten as she learns more about him. He no longer reminds her of a typical athlete. There is nothing typical about him at all, in fact.
Someone sits in the chair beside her, which brings her out of her thoughts. She glances over, expecting to see Harry or possibly Neville, and quickly conceals her surprise at finding the object of her fascination sitting there. Viktor Krum is staring at her in a way that makes her cheeks flush and her pulse race, which is disconcerting and distracting.
“Hello. I am Viktor Krum,” he introduced himself in a low, quiet voice.
“Hello,” she said in reply, hoping he hadn’t noticed her study of him during the past few weeks and didn’t plan to embarrass her. “I’m Hermione Granger.”
“Hermy-own,” he repeated slowly. “I haff been vishing to say introduction to you for avhile but did not vish to, how you say, brother you? No, that is vrong vord.”
He had been wanting to speak to her? Hermione hoped she wasn’t gaping at him because his words had surprised her. He was speaking slowly, stumbling over a few words, but he was doing remarkably well with a language that was not his own. “Bother?” she suggested helpfully.
“Yes, that is vord,” he said with a sheepish smile that was the first smile she’d seen since she’d begun watching him. He looked less harsh and broody when he smiled, though this smile was almost shy. “I haff no vish to be bother.”
“You’re not a bother,” she assured him. She blushed when she realized how quickly she’d spoken and shifted in her chair, feeling uncertain and nervous for some confusing reason.
“I haff been learning English, but it has taken me avhile to get courage to speak. I do not know many vords for thoughts in my head and it is frustrating,” he admitted as his dark eyes studied her. His next words were said slowly and carefully, as if he’d practiced them for awhile before trying to say them. “Vill you allow me the priffilege of speaking vit you now?”
Hermione forgot about observations and fascinations when he smiled shyly at her. She returned his smile and nodded. “I’d be happy to talk with you, Viktor.”