Title: Impressions can be Deceiving
Fandom: Harry Potter, The Goblet of Fire
Characters/Pairings: Hermione, a special guest, Harry, and Ron
Spoilers: Doesn't really give anything away aside from knowing a character in The Goblet of Fire. The first section of italicized text is directly from chapters 15 and 16 from the novel, but there's really nothing important given away even if you're a good guesser.
Disclaimer: The characters, idea, and magic are all by J. K. Rowlings, and text here is directly from it, but I mean no disrespect... only creativity. And I'm very happy not to get paid for it!
Summary: Hermione gets a bit more than she wanted at the library, and perhaps a change of heart as well.
Feedback: If you'd be so kind... J firstname.lastname@example.org
"Dumbledore!" he called heartily as he walked up the slope. "How are you my dear fellow? How are you?!"
"Blooming! Thank you Professor Karkaroff," Dumbledore replied.
When he reached Dumbledore, he shook hands with both of his own. "Dear Old Hogwarts," he said, looking up at the castle and smiling. His teeth were rather yellow and Harry noticed that his smile did not entirely extend to his eyes, which remained cold and shrewd. "How good it is to be here. How good...Viktor, Come along, into the warmth! You don't mind, Dumbledore? Viktor has a slight head cold."
Karkaroff beckoned forward one of his students. As the boy passed, Harry caught a glimpse of the prominent curved nose and thick, black eyebrows. He didn't need the punch on his arm Ron gave him or the hiss in his ear to recognize that profile. "Harry! It's Krum!"
"I don't believe it," Ron said in a stunned voice as the Hogwarts students filed back up the steps behind the students from Durmstrang. "Krum, Harry! Viktor Krum!"
"For Heaven's sakes, Ron. He's only a Quidditch player," said Hermione.
"Only a Quidditch player?!" Ron said, looking at her as though he couldn't believe his ears. "Hermione, he's one of the best seekers in the world. I had no idea he was still at school."
As they re-crossed the entrance hall with the rest of the Hogwarts students heading for the great hall, Harry saw Lee Jordan jumping up and down on the soles of his feet to get a better view of the back of Krum's head. Several sixth year girls were frantically searching their pockets as they walked. "Oh, I don't believe it. I haven't got a single quill on me!" "Do you think he'll sign my lipstick?"
"Really!" Hermione said loftily as they passed the girls, now squabbling over the lipstick.
"I'm getting his autograph if I can," said Ron. "Haven't got a quill, have you Harry?"
"Nope, they're upstairs in my bag," said Harry.
~ * ~
'Tales of Heroic Creatures... Tales of Heroic Wizards... Tales of Magical Mysteries... ah, here it is, Tales of Wizard Wonders.' As soon as Hermione had taken the book off the shelf, she had immediately flipped it open, scanning the text, comforted by the familiar terms and all the knowledge she would soon have. Six books this made it, a good enough bunch for now. She placed this new one on the pile in her arms and turned to go back to her table.
But she paused a moment at a loud, startling sound. It was almost like a burst of air dropping a book into a puddle but then again not quite like that at all really. It seemed to be coming from the next row of books over, but she wasn't so sure she wanted to go right over to see what it was. So cautiously, she pulled a thick volume of The True Wizard's Encyclopedia out and peeked through the shelves.
Even with his hand clamped over the lower half of his countenance, she could still recognize the young man as Viktor Krum. It was as if watching the banners from the World Cup, the dark eyebrows pointed and the grumbling, narrowed expression. Unlike the posters or Ron's miniature version, this one sniffled wetly and rubbed his nose with his sleeve cuff. His nose was sleek and curved, his face full of concern and something else. Some sort of deep, paining concentration. Suddenly, his dark eyes squeezed tightly shut and his body stiffened straight. "ehhKumphshhh! ahhhChushooo!" He steadied himself with a hand on the bookcase, knocking a few thin books to the floor. Then he scrubbed his sleeve against his nose and sniffled again. He lowered his arm with a sigh, reaching into his pocket to take out a sleek, sparkled wand. He mumbled something under his breath and waved it at the books, which not only snapped back to their places on the shelves but re-alphabetized that particular section and straightened the rest of the books orderly. Tucking it back away, he sniffled, straightened, and after selecting a new book, walked back toward the center of the library.
Hermione quickly replaced the volume as he passed, hoping she had not been seen. A few moments of silence told her she had. She smiled and shook her head, putting it out of her mind as her excitement at the new stack of books grew. With luck, she would have this week's papers written by tomorrow evening and have the rest of the week to learn on her own. Oblivious to the rest of the library, she sat down at her table, taking up two notebooks and her favorite quill, and beginning the books.
Hermione looked up to see Viktor a few tables away, slouching in his seat, sniffling with two fingers beneath his nose. He looked perfectly embarrassed, and rather less angry, propping a book up on its edge to hide his flushed cheeks.
Giggling sounded from the other side of the large room, where a group of girls sat around, batting their eyelashes at him. Hermione snorted. 'Hmph! No taste at all. I don't see what the big deal is.' Hermione bit her lip in remembrance of Ron's mention that she didn't care for the young man because he wasn't overly handsome. But she put that out of her mind; Ron didn't understand, but that wasn't the point. She narrowed her eyes at the girls, who quieted and went back to their books, peaking around them at him. Hermione rolled her eyes. 'So it's Viktor Krum. So what?'
~ * ~
It was late that night when Hermione decided to head back to the common room. Bleary-eyed and weary, she packed up her things, slinging the bag strap over her shoulder.
Hermione glanced over at Viktor again, who rubbed his nose roughly against his cuff. He huffed with a slouch deeper into his seat, closing his eyes. He looked exhausted, weary, miserable, sick. Soft bags sat beneath his eyes, and his nostrils were as chapped red as the flush in his cheeks appeared.
"ehhchuhh! igstehh! egk-ehh!" He sneezed, stifling them to sound significantly more restrained than they had been earlier when he'd been 'alone' in the bookshelves. He winced as he rubbed his nose with the same sleeve cuff, then switched to rub with the other instead.
'The least he could do is use a Kleenex. He's getting his robes all wet.' With a sigh, Hermione looked around as she removed, then dug through her bag. There were no others around, so far as she could see; it was later after all and most people had more to do than spend a night in the library. At last she withdrew a small pack of Kleenex and pulled one out. Then she slung her bag back on and walked over to the world class Quidditch player. "Would you like a Kleenex?"
He looked up at her blankly, looking a little startled. "Vould I like a vat?" His accent was thick, and thickened more from his congestion.
She but her lip, realizing he probably didn't know many American muggle company names. "Tissues?" she clarified, eliciting no more of a response of recognition from him. Attempting again, she held it out in front of him.
He flinched at the sudden movement.
"It's a paper handkerchief," she explained, trying again, holding it closer for his examination.
His eyes lip up and he nodded enthusiastically, taking it from her and blowing his nose lightly. From the sound of it, he seemed to need it. Afterwards, he cleared his throat. "I hab a head code," he remarked in an attempt to excuse his behavior.
The stuffy, congested, ordinary voice coming from the great Quidditch player was quite humorous. While she managed to retain her laughter, an amused smile did come out. "A fact which seems rather obvious, but one you've chosen to ignore. Why aren't you in bed?"
He shrugged, looking down at a book. It was presently upside down, but that didn't matter. "Dot tired, I subbose."
"Mmm," Hermione guessed the rest of the reason may have to do with getting away from everyone. She remembered when Harry had caught cold two years back and everyone was making it into a gigantic deal. The hero Harry Potter, defeater of you-know-who, gifted Quidditch seeker, fighting a terrible case of the sniffles.
Viktor sneezed again, "ehhCheshh! Iggshooo!" into his sopping sleeve, a pained, miserable look plastered upon his face.
Hermione handed over two more Kleenexes.
"Thags." He took them gratefully, rubbing his nose through them and giving a good, one-handed blow.
She nodded with a soft sentiment of "Bless you." Oddly enough, she felt sorry for him.
He balled the used tissues up into one fist and looked up at her with the same confused expression as before.
She quickly clarified, "Gesundheit."
A bright grin crossed his face. "Oh, thag you."
She leaned casually against the table, realizing how at ease she was feeling around him. Whereas everyone else was all nervous... Ron especially. "You really should be in bed with someone to care for you."
This time, it was he who had to keep from laughing. "Everyode cares to be aroud be all day, askig for autograph, or bicture. Bud do ode cares to helb be feel better."
Hermione looked shocked at the statement. Perhaps fame and ailing discomfort were not the only reasons he secluded himself in the library. Thinking of his headmaster's concern when they'd arrived, "Surely Professor Karkoroff--"
"Has beed too busy bracticig sbells wid your head baster." He sniffled and rubbed the bunch of tissues against his nose.
She nodded. "But you've been to see Madam Pomfrey of course?"
More confusion. "Vat is dat?"
"The Hogwarts Nurse." Perhaps he had not remembered her name.
He simply shook his head.
'Well, this won't do. He needs to see the nurse at least. He may be famous but he is sick.' Hermione put on her most helpful smile. "She's splendid. I'm sure she'll know something to make you feel better. The infirmary is right down the north hall to..."
Again, no hint of recognition in his face.
"I'll draw you a map." She pulled on the strap of her bag, setting it down on the table and withdrawing a piece of parchment and a quill. Scribbling in green-blue ink, she began mumbling along with the crude drawing. "Take this hallway down to the end and turn left at the third gargoyle, the one with the funny headdress. You'll need to watch for Peeves through there, but he probably won't bother you, I suppose. The infirmary is down this next hall, after another left then a right unless you take the shortcut through here..." Finished, she handed the sheet over in a flutter. "Think you can find it all right then?"
His eyes were glazed over. He sniffled and shook his head, rubbing his cuff beneath his nose. "I dod't dow de halls here very vell yet add... add... I... " he pressed his sleeve against his nose, wincing and bracing himself with one hand against the table. "ehhKeshh! ahhKeshoo! akkTeshheh!" he snapped forward with each one, weakly gasping for breath in between. Afterwards he snuffled and rubbed his nose against his one sleeve, then the other.
Hermione offered two more tissues to the cause. "Gesundheit. here now, blow your nose, then I'll show you the way over." She couldn't help but feel sorry for him. 'He's certainly in no condition to walk over there on his own.'
After gathering his things, he stood up and followed her out of the library. She led him through the corridors, taking shortcuts as she came upon them and pointing out this and that painting or sculpture of interest. Once in a while, she slowed her pace, hearing his breathing grow shallow and quick. When he sneezed, he put one hand on the wall to steady himself, and his sleeve up to his nose to cover it. Every time, Hermione stopped in her tracks as well, ready to hand him a fresh tissue, or to pretend to be interested in a particular fixture so as not to stare at him. He had a very lose way of sneezing, even as his body stiffened. It shook his shoulders more than anything, snapping his head forward and down, his body backwards and forwards in a great flow. He almost always sniffled immediately afterwards, and always winced when he rubbed his nose either on his sleeve or with a tissue.
Only once did Viktor make the mistake of placing a hand on a painting when he leaned. He'd had a rather strong tickle in his nose, and had had little time to prepare. His hand had gone right over the face of a rather snooty old man in a tall hat, a hat so tall that the top two thirds of the painting was only hat, before it disappeared above the frame entirely. The man, Sir Reginald Hatstand by the name written beneath the painting, had a long moustache and though the man had been able to move out from behind the snitch-catching hand, his moustache had been held in place, stuck there. He protested with a series of yelps and insults about the careless, underclass youth of the castle. Hermione had been forced to quiet the man before he could wake anyone up or call attention to them at all. And reasoning with him had been harder than it should have been. The paintings of the downstairs and main halls always took things so personally.
Viktor thanked her of course, and made it a point to avoid all the other paintings for the rest of the trek.
"Boo!" came a sharp giggle as some sort of powder suddenly rained upon them. Hermione whipped out her wand, turning it into an umbrella at the tip, and squeezing beside Viktor underneath. She glared up at the wisp of a poltergeist circling a light with laughter and a small pouch.
"Peeves!" she hissed. "Be gone! This isn't the time for games!" Was it her imagination or was she beginning to feel protective of the boy?
Viktor leaned into her, gripping her arm tightly... and she let him. His other hand clamped over his nose and mouth. "uffchuhh! ehhhChefff! ehhhCheoo! ahhSheshhh! ahkkChishhhh!" He sneezed repeatedly, without pause.
Hermione stood firm, lending him her support, brushing powder out of her hair and off his broad shoulders. Curious, she stuck her hand out as the last of the powder rained down and Peeves disappeared with laughter through a wall. "Pepper," she muttered. "Just what we needed." She patted him on the back, lowering and closing the umbrella. She pulled out the last two Kleenex and muttered the spell of duplication, waving an already outstretched wand at them. They multiplied in her hand. With a smile, she handed all four over. Viktor was still sneezing, through not as strongly and not as constantly. His nose ran, his eyes watered, and he was looking terrible. But the pepper didn't seem to be doing any real damage, aside from the additional sneezes. "That's it, sneeze it out. We're almost there anyway."
They arrived at the infirmary without any further problems, much to Hermione's relief. It was bad enough trying to keep Harry and Ron out of trouble, she wasn't sure she could keep it up much longer with Viktor. Madam Pomfrey met them at the door with a kind smile and some usual excitement. "Viktor Krum!" she exclaimed, escorting him in with a hand on his back. "I was wondering when you'd come by, how are you, lad?"
Viktor, overwhelmed at the enthusiastic greeting, paused before answering, then snapped forward with yet another sneeze, "ehhCHESHhhhh!"
"Oh dear!" she remarked. "Tissue?"
He looked confused a moment, then regarded the ones in his hand, then looked over at Hermione who nodded. "Yes blease."
Madam Pomfrey conjured up a box of tissues and held it out to him. "Don't you worry, I'll find something about to make you feel a little better. Maybe a remedy from home. I've been studying up on medicines from different parts of the world... where did I put that book..." she rummaged through a box on her desk, then withdrew the book. "Ah ha! I knew I had it. Now, you just take a seat," she escorted Viktor over to a bed. "You'll be all right now. And I'll see you back to school's rooms." She looked up at Hermione. "You'd best be getting back to bed yourself, Miss Granger. Thank you for bringing him over."
Hermione nodded, realizing she had no more reason to stay. She took another look at Viktor as he sat. "Good night," she whispered, not quite sure she wanted him to hear her.
He nodded, lying back on the bed, the cushy mattress and blankets and pillows soft and comfortable. "Thag you." He coughed lightly and closed his eyes as he rubbed his nose on his sleeve again.
~ * ~
Ron slammed down hard into his seat the next morning, his eyes wide and his cheeks flushed, his face filled with what seemed to be as much anger as amazement. "You talked with Viktor Krum last night and you didn't get me an autograph? You don't even tell us about it?"
Hermione looked up from her breakfast in mid chew, fork in mouth. Breakfast had barely started and already they knew she had spoken with the World Champion. Hogwarts was really too small sometimes, even with all of their guests. "Excuse me? I've only just woken. What's the latest rumor?" she asked innocently.
Ron scowled. "That you were in the library last night with Krum!"
With a sigh, "Well, if course I was. He's been in the library these last few days, hasn't he? And aren't I always in the library myself?"
Smiling, Harry took a seat beside Ron, across from Hermione. "Of course."
Huffing, "You mean to say you and Krum did not take a romantic walk last night, and he did not kiss you?"
Hermione nearly spat out a mouthful of milk, quite un-ladylike. With wide eyes. "Kiss!" sounding exasperated. "What do you think my answer is, Ron?"
"Well..." he trailed off, raising his eyebrows at her.
"Ron!" she exclaimed, loud enough for the whole table to hear, as they all seemed to be twittering about it. "Think hard, how do I feel about Viktor Krum? And with that, what do you think I would be doing with him last night?"
He sighed, finally beginning on his breakfast. "I knew it! I knew it was just a rumor."
Silence followed a moment, then discussion started up again about other topics. She felt relieved and yet... feeling rather awkward for not telling the truth. Of course, she hadn't lied either. But what remained unanswered was how did she feel about Viktor Krum?
Hermione's eyes wandered between Harry and Ron's heads to the table over, where Viktor sat sniffling into his sleeve. A box of Kleenex sat right beside his plate, and on both sides of him, students from Durmstrang were talking to each other. No one was paying him too much attention, aside from groups of girls throughout the room who were ogling him from afar and giggling about him at every move he made. Hermione watched as the boy sneezed and scrubbed his nose with his cuff. His chest rose as he gave a strong sniff and he looked up casually afterwards, suddenly meeting Hermione's eyes. He gave a smile back to her as he dropped his arm from his face and plucked a tissue out, using it to rub his nose instead.
He looked tired, but softer somehow. Not the same angry foreigner with the furrowed brow and cross expression. Not the same as that little figure that paced back and forth on Ron's bed stand all the time. Not the same as any of the pictures, posters, or banners. He still looked ill, but somehow the head cold made him look much more human, more vulnerable, more handsome. 'Handsome? Viktor Krum handsome?' She stared back at him, trying to see what was really there in him.
She stared a moment too long, looking into his deep black eyes, then quickly breaking the look to pay attention to her breakfast. Embarrassed, she tried to keep her cheeks from going red, like the time she'd helped Nevel in potions and it had cost them points from Gryffindor. But as much as she tried to concentrate on her breakfast, she could feel him there still. 'Ok... so he's handsome. So what?' She bit her lip. 'Is he still staring? Maybe I should look up. No, don't look up! Just look! No!' She fought with herself for a few moments, before finally looking up to see... nothing.
Around the hall, people were quickly gathering their things and moving towards the door Viktor was just disappearing through. Hermione relaxed, closing her eyes. Breakfast would continue as usual.