Harry sighed heavily and rubbed at his stinging eyes, blinking blearily. The words on the heavy volume before him all blurred together in a jumble. Unsure of how he managed to drag his attention away from its riveting content he stared around the Library, a jealous pang stabbing somewhere near his upper midriff at a group of joking students, heads bent over the volumes and laughing in hushed whispers so as not to attract the attention of Madam Pince who didn’t hold with such nonsense as having fun. Hermione was scribbling furiously across her lengthy parchment and Harry looked down at his own pitiful one in front of him.
He resumed his reading, “It wasn’t until 1249 that the first Treaty was drafted and signed by the blah blah blah” and Harry tilted his head back and let out a gurgling noise from the back of his throat, attracting a few confused and stares from those around him and earning him a scowl from Hermione. There was a low snicker from a bookshelf to his left and Harry turned, someone ducked behind a thick volume, obscuring them from view.
Harry sighed and blew a wet raspberry.
“Honestly Harry!” Hermione hissed, throwing her quill down, which would have been much more effective, Harry thought, had it not fluttered gently to the table dripping ink over the last sentence on Hermione’s page.
“We’ve been here for ages Hermione!” Harry complained.
“And yet you still have nearly you entire History of Magic essay to write, not to mention your potions practical which is due tomorrow,” Hermione scolded. Harry let out a noise like a dying wookie and slammed his forehead into the table, and another burst of laughter sounded from behind a shelf.
“I need a food break,” Harry said standing, “I can feel my blood sugar getting dangerously low, I think that might be my problem,” and he shoved his books into his bag.
“Yes Harry, that must be it,” Hermione rolled her eyes but she made no move to stop him, honestly quite glad for the respite. She loved Harry, really she did, but between him and Ron she was slowly losing her mind.
No sooner had Harry’s robes whipped out of sight than a figure emerged from behind the nearest book shelf. Hermione had to suppress the noise of irritation rising in her throat as Krum appeared. She looked at him expectantly. He shifted slightly, before straightening his broad shoulders and raising a well-toned arm, his index finger pointed towards the ceiling like he wanted to say something, his mouth opened slightly and he stared at her.
She quirked a brow.
He snapped his mouth shut, a faint pinkish hue rising to the tips of his ears and he sidled back out of sight. Hermione shook her head slightly and finally gave up as a gaggle of giggling girls wandered into view, Bulgaria paraphernalia tucked in peculiar places.
Krum wondered what it might look like, to an objective passerby, him huddled just out of sight, peering pathetically through dusty old books at the small secluded table, a group of boisterous co-eds doing the same in the stacks just behind him.
He paced from his vantage point, pulling out a large, loosely bound book, and opening it at random, glancing down as though fascinated by it, without really seeing it at all. He walked out of the shelves, and sat down watching the girl with the bushy brown hair, he still wasn’t quite sure of her name, he did not think it could possibly be Chipmunks McGee as that rather homely Slytherin girl who resembled his great aunt’s demented pug, liked to call her.
He stared across the short space at the back of her head, preparing himself to stand and walk over, he pictured himself, suave and charming, and finally, after imagining a small glittering snitch flying around her he moved in for the win.
“Excuse me,” he said, tapping her on the shoulder, the girl turned and looked up at him. “You...come here often.”
It wasn’t a question, nor was it much of a statement, but it hung in the air like the lingering scent of old road kill.
“Um…” the girl replied with a questioning look.
“I haff to go,” Krum replied and he walked away.
Harry thought, idly, that he ought to give some consideration to getting started figuring out the next clue, but he decided that at least considering considering the clue was progress enough for now.
“Besides there’s studying to be done,” Harry said, fixing Hermione with what he hoped was a serious expression, “homework,” he suggested,
“…and quizzes,” he nodded, fishing around for an equally important excuse, “Bulgarian seekers in swimming trunks.”
“What?” Hermione asked, letting out an involuntary laugh.
“What?” Harry asked, brows drawing together in confusion, as though the voice had sprung up from mysteriously from the tree beside them. Hermione caught his eye and turned in the direction Harry was trying not to look.
“Ugh!” Hermione let out, exasperated, “What is he even doing?” She said, irritated, watching Krum dive from his ship into the cold waters of the Lake.
“Who cares,” Harry said, going for mild indifference but failing.
“It’s driving me mad!” Hermione hissed, ducking her head towards Ron, “he’s in here every day.”
“So?” Ron asked, staring at the Quidditch player with a look that could only be described as longing. Hermione rolled her eyes.
“Honestly, you’d think he’d never set foot in a library before. It’s really not that exciting.”
“Bite your tongue!” Ron said, in mock outrage and he slapped a hand across Hermione’s forehead as though checking for fever. She shoved his hand away.
“Of course his fan club goes with him wherever he goes, can’t get anything done with that lot hovering, simpering over him. Oh Victor sign my bookbag! Oh Krum I have everything ever written about you! Oh Victor I just got your face tattooed on my arse!”
“Hermione!” Ron hissed, ducking his head laughing, but no sooner had she snapped her mouth shut than floating across the echoing rows,
“Look Victor I’ve made you this scarf, ‘cause you wear all those furs so I figure your school must be somewhere really cold (“brilliant deduction Sherlock!”) and look its got my name on!” (“Perfect! Something for the ministry officials!”)
“You ask anyone to the ball yet?” Dean Thomas questioned Seamus as the two walked past Hermione’s usual spot in the slowly emptying Library.
“Yeah, I’m taking Lavender,” came Seamus’s reply.
“Nice,” Dean grinned, slapping his friend’s hand, “man, she was like…good looking last year but I don’t know what she did over the summer but she’s like…” and he made a crude yet accurate motion with his hands to describe Lavender’s recent…endowments. The boys lapsed into laughter and Hermione rolled her eyes. She stared around the library, everyone seemed to be obsessed with the stupid Yule Ball, and if she was admitting it to herself, so was she.
She hadn’t ever really thought about boys much…well she supposed she did but that was always in the more theoretical kind of way…like they were some fascinating subject to be found in the Restricted Section. She wondered who she would like to go with if she had her pick and a flash of red hair and freckles crossed her mind, but she stomped it away with a scowl, her eyes darting around as though afraid someone could see her thoughts.
“Ex-excuse me..hermy-own?” Came a deep voice from behind her. Hermione startled, blushing. She turned towards Krum and nodded.
“Yes?” She asked. He stared at her for a long moment as though steeling himself up for something. She waited expectantly, staring at him like she would a small child trying to answer a difficult question, or Ron.
“Vell…I vos vondering…you are friends vith Harry Potter, are you not?” He asked slowly. She gave him a bemused stare, you’ve been staring at the two of us for weeks and it’s taken you this long to come to that astounding conclusion, stand back Potter you’ve got a real contender!
“Vell, I vos just vondering ‘cos, I vanted to know…you know about the Yule Ball and all…”
“Yes?” Hermione asked, wondering where this was going. Krum went silent again, and Hermione saw a blush spread up his cheeks and a dawning comprehension fell over her, she could feel her own face reddening.
“Vell…” Krum began again.
“Yes,” Hermione found herself saying, nodding with a small grin tugging its way across her face.
“Yes vot?” Krum asked.
“Yes, I’ll go to the ball with you,” Hermione said.
“Oh…” Krum replied, looking surprised. “Vell I meant…”
Hermione looked up at him, her expression in no way shape or form resembling Krum’s usual admirers. Not at all.
“Uh…Great!” Krum shouted, his expression mimicking that of the proverbial deer, “I vill meet you in the Entrance Hall at eight?” Hermione nodded and she gave a breathy sigh, Krum’s eyes widened and he turned and staggered off looking a little dazed.
“Ron…I don’t really care that she’s here with Krum…” Harry tried, but both Ron and Hermione shushed him with heavy scowls and even as he said it there was a part of him that knew he was lying; deep down, well by deep he thought he meant low, and by low he thought it was somewhere just south of the navel but Harry banished that thought.
“You know what he’s doing don’t you,” Ron said, his eyes narrowing, and Harry would have liked to tell Ron not to open his mouth, to claim confundus and walk away but he couldn’t.
“Vot who is doing?” The trio turned and Krum was standing there, looking confused, holding two glasses of punch.
“You!” Ron snarled, and Krum stared around at all of them.
“Vot is it I am doing?” Krum asked.
“Nothing Victor, Ron is just being a giant git,” Hermione said with a low growl.
“No! You just asked her out to get information, to wheedle your way onto her good side to get to know all about Harry!” Ron shouted, looking slightly deranged. Hermione scoffed.
“Why else would he spend so much time in the library!”
“Ooh,” Harry shook his head and winced in sympathy and Hermione looked as though she was about to pull out another spectacular slap. Ron must have sensed it too because he backed up a step.
“That is not what he was doing in the library!” She shouted, “were you Victor?” They all turn to him.
“Veeeell….” He said, clutching the drinks to his chest like a shield.
“What!” Hermione gasped.
“Whoa!” Harry shouted.
“Aha!” Ron ejaculated.
Hermione looked absolutely mortified, her face turning a brilliant shade of magenta.
“You were using me? To get to Harry?”
“He’s the enemy Hermione! He’s trying to bring down his biggest competitor!”
“Vell that is not the kind of down I vos planning,” Krum said.
“What?” They all said together.
“Vell I think Hermy-own-ninny vos misunderstanding me ven I vos talking to her…it vos an accident…” Krum tried to explain.
“Vell…I vos vanting to ask about her friend…and vell if he vos maybe not seeing anybody and he would..maybe vont to…go to the ball vith me…”
“What?” They all said together. Krum turned red and his eyes darted to Harry. Harry turned but saw no one behind him.
“Wait...me?” He asked, incredulously. Krum nodded a little sheepishly.
“What?” Ron and Hermione shout.
“I vos thinking that I vould like to tell you how I very much like how you handle your vood.”
“What!?” Ron and Hermione shout.
“Flying of course,” Krum said nonchalantly, and while Ron and Hermione turned towards each other bewildered he winked at Harry.
“You’re serious!” Ron shouted, “Harry. Potter…” he tried, confirming. “The BOY who lived…”
Krum nodded, and behind Ron’s back Harry held up his hand to his ear, cradling his head in between his outstretched thumb and pinky and mouthed, call me. But Krum’s brows furrowed in confusion and Harry rolled his eyes at himself and mimicked writing in the air in front of him before stretching his arms out and flapping them like the wings of an owl. Hermione gave him a withering look and shook her head.
“Vell…I am very sorry for all of this confusion…I thought that Hermy-own-ninny vas seeing Veasley so I vos confused when you misunderstood vot I wanted….”
There was a moment of silence then…
“Vell this has gotten very awkward so I am just going to…” Krum turned and sauntered away.
Ron and Hermione glanced at one another and looked away quickly, avoiding each other’s eyes.
Snape took a sick sort of pleasure in watching students, in various states of disarray, fleeing from amidst exploding bits of shrubbery.
When he caught sight of broad shoulders in sleek fur lined, deep red dress robes, its owner’s head bent low, soft pleasured moans filtering out from beneath a large flowering bush he scowled.
“Granger, I wouldn’t have expected you capable of taking your head out of a book long enough to put it anywhere else,” and he laughed as he blasted apart the greenery. His eyes widened in surprise as Victor Krum tumbled out, pinning, not the bushy haired know-it-all, but a rather disgruntled looking—
“Take a picture…it’ll last longer,” and without waiting for a response, he rolled the two of them over until they were tumbling softly down the small incline and out of sight.