The Yule Ball
Hermione’s first reaction when the Yule Ball was announced had been excitement. She thought it was an opportunity for her to tell Ron how she felt, to spend some time together without Harry, like the first trip they took to Hogsmeade. This feeling though was quickly replaced with insecurity. What if he didn’t feel the same way? What if all those hints she had been noticing in him were just product of her imagination. And worst of all, what if he didn’t even ask her? No, she would wait. She was sure he felt the same way too, just because of how he looked at her or the way he treated her. Ron didn’t act the same way around her than around Harry, and she had even caught him giving her stolen glances once or twice. She would wait.
The days passed by and Ron hadn’t asked her yet. She felt annoyed and betrayed, he hadn’t even mentioned the Ball in any of their conversations. Hermione started thinking he didn’t like her and only saw her as one of his best mates which, to her disgust, was affecting her daily mood. To top that off, the place she usually went to when she felt the tears in her eyes every time the conversation ended and he hadn’t said anything, was filled with giggling girls spying shamelessly at that quidditch guy Ron adored so much. Victor something.
In fact, this is where she was now, trying to take Ron out of her mind and concentrating on the book she had in front of her. She kept wondering if she had been naïve on thinking he would ever ask her. But she came to the conclusion that maybe he just wasn’t ready and he would do it later. A little bit more cheerful now, she began gaining focus on the book she was reading. Unfortunately the giggling girls started giggling again and she had the temptation to look up and ask them, no, shout at them to close their bloody freaking mouths. But, as the good student she was, she resisted that temptation. Just as she was getting concentrated on her book once again, she noticed someone sitting on the chair next to her. Hermione’s heart skipped a beat thinking it was Ron, but when she heard a voice coming from that person, the thought totally vanished, leaving her sad once again.
“Hello, can I seat here?” The man said. He had a strange accent, and Hermione guessed he must be from the Durmstrang School, as she was used to hearing the French accent when her relatives came to visit, and it definitely wasn’t like the one she had just heard.
“Hem… hello?” The man asked again. This time, she looked up and recognized who it was. That Krum guy. Maybe that’s who Ron wanted to ask to the Ball. No, he wouldn’t. Why am I thinking this? What’s happening to me lately! She though.
Realizing she still hadn’t answered, she talked. “Hum… no, you can sit if you want. You are that quidditch player… hem… Victor Krum right?” Hermione asked. She wasn’t pretending she didn’t know who he was, she really just knew his name.
“Yes, I am. You don’t know a lot about quidditch I presume?”
“I don’t enjoy it as much as most of my friends” She answered. Her mind drifted once again to Ron, how he adored the man she was talking to right now. Hermione was sure he would kill to be in this situation. She was drifted away of her painful thoughts as Krum started talking again.
“Vell… you know my name, but vot is yours?” It was a sudden change of topic which made Hermione curious. Is it me or he is nervous? She though, as her gaze drifted over to his hands and fingers, which were moving nonstop.
“Oh yeah, sorry. My name is Hermione Granger”
“Can you repeat please, I didn’t get it quite right” Krum asked, with a confused gaze. Hermione didn’t know why he asked, because from her point of view her name was easy. Yes, it may be different and uncommon, but it was easy to pronounce.
“Hermione Granger” She answered, more slowly this time. He still had a puzzled gaze, as if he was trying to work something out.
“Her-My-Own-Ninny…?” He tried. Hermione started laughing. Okay, maybe her name was kind of difficult, but no one had ever mispronounced it the way Krum had. From her point of view, it was hilarious. She noticed that Krum had started laughing as well, very conscious of his mistake. They continued like this until Mrs. Prince gave them a killing look and motioned for them to shut up.
“Sorry” Began Hermione a few seconds later “It’s just that no one has ever pronounced my name like this. People get it right, at least when I say it.”
“Vell, I guess that it is because in Bulgaria ve are not used to this kind of letters mixed together. I don’t think I vill ever get it right.” He started playing with his fingers again, as an uncomfortable silence made its way through the situation. That silent, though, was broken when Hermione asked something which had been going through her mind in the last few days, when she had seen him in the library almost every time she came in here.
“Hem… do you like this library? I mean, I have seen you plenty of times in here. Is there one in Durmstrang?”
“Vell” He answered “Ve do haff one, although it is smaller than this one and I don’t go there very often. But I do visit this one because… vell… I haff been trying to ask you if you vould like to go vith me to the Yule Ball.”
Hermione was shocked, she had never expected anyone to ask her to the Ball (apart from Ron, but it was a wish more that a fact now), and especially not someone who, according to Ron, was so famous in the wizarding sports world. Her first impulse was to say yes, but then she thought that maybe it was better to decline the offer and wait for Ron ask her. Yes, that was what she would do, she trusted him.
“Herm-Own-Ninny?” Asked Krum, waking Hermione the second time that day from her thoughts. Fortunately, she had already made her decision.
“I am sorry Krum, but I can’t”
“Oh, you already agreed to go vith someone else…” He sounded disappointed, but his expression wasn’t much different, as he was good in hiding his massive disappointment.
“No, it’s not that I just… it is kind of difficult to explain” Hermione tried to comfort him, after all she had never liked hurting other people (apart from those who didn’t treat her very well, those didn’t really matter).
“I understand. And please call me Victor.” His voice had changed once again. Now it had a little bit of hope added to it. “Vell… thanks eithervay, I hope we can talk again?
“Yes, that would be good.”
And that said, he walked out of the library, followed, as usual by the giggling girls.
Two days after that, Ron hadn’t asked Hermione yet, and she was in the library once again, this time immersed in a book called ‘The history of the Tri Wizarding Tournament’. It explained how it had changed over the years and the winners of each and every one of the tournaments. Her mood had lightened a bit since Victor had asked her because at least she knew people noticed her, they noticed she was a girl, and not another bloke who spent his time with Ron and Harry.
When she finished the book, she stood up to give it back to Mrs. Prince when she bumped into someone.
“Oh! I am so sorry” She exclaimed looking up “Victor! Hi, what are you doing here?”
“I just came to see if I could talk to you, but I see you are leaving.” Victor answered.
“Well, I was just going to give this book back and look for another, but we can talk if you want.” She moved toward the desk Mrs. Prince was sitting behind and gave her the book, then she returned with Victor, who pulled out a chair for her to sit in and then sat on the one next to her.
“Thanks” Hermione said while she sat. No one had ever done this for her and she was startled that a quidditch player of all people would do it, given her experiences with the players of the Gryffindor team. (Who were not exact gentlemen).
“Herm-My-Own-Ninny, can I ask you something?”
“Of course” Hermione responded, afraid she was going to have to let him down once more. Ron hadn’t asked her yet, true. But she would not brake her decision.
“Hem… I know I asked this before already but…” Hermione’s blood froze, here we go again she thought “Vould you go to the Yule Ball vith me?”
“I am sorry Victor, but I have to say no.” She replied sadly. It looked as if he was going to ask something else but she already knew what it was and answered in advance “And no, I haven’t agreed to go with someone else.”
“Okay, I understand, again.” He gave her a small smile. “I haff another question though. Is there some kind of giant creature living in the lake near Hogwarts? Because I think I saw something strange yesterday.”
“Yes” Hermione answered, glad there was no awkward silence “It is a giant squib. I read it has been living there for one thousand years, when a student gave it too much growing potion.”
They continued talking until the free period ended and Hermione had to go to transfiguration, where she met with Harry and Ron.
“Hem… Hermione.” Started Ron. Hermione felt shivers go down her spine, was he going to ask her? “You seem happier than this morning, what happened?” How can he be such a git! She though as she stormed into the class, leaving a confused Ron with a question on his mouth. So close! He though.
It was a week before the Yule Ball and Hermione was in the library (as always). This time there was no book in front of her, she was just thinking, with her hands covering her face. A week! Just a week until the Yule Ball and he hasn’t asked yet. Maybe he won’t. Aww how could I have been so naïve! Like he would ever want to go with me! Her thoughts were interrupted by some giggling girls entering the library. Here they came again. Why! She wondered Why me!?
For being the brightest witch of her age, she hadn’t put two and two together and realized that if the giggling girls were there, I meant that Victor Krum had probably entered the library. Not that she cared tough, she really wanted Ron to be the one to come in, but that wasn’t the case. He wasn’t going to ask her to the Yule Ball and she knew it. Then, she noticed a hand on her shoulder.
“Herm-My-Own-Ninny, are you okay?” It was Victor. He really is a good person she though. I have rejected him two times and still he continues to talk to me. That is a gentleman.
“Oh hi Victor, I didn’t see you coming”
“Vell, you can clearly hear me. There are some girls who follow me everyvhere, and they are giggling all the time, it is really annoying.”
“Then why don’t you ask one of them to the Yule Ball, then maybe they will leave you alone?” Hermione suggested, although she quickly realized it probably wasn’t a good idea. If they giggled just when they saw him, what would happen if one of them actually went with him to the Ball? She was going to take back her suggestion but was too late, as Victor had already started talking.
“I don’t vant to go vith them, I vant to go vith you. I probably know your asvwer and I apologize if this vill bother you but… Herm-My-Own-Ninny, vill you go to the dance vith me? If you still don’t have a date, of course.”
This time, Hermione thought it through. Ron clearly wasn’t going to ask her, and she did feel comfortable enough around Victor to go to the Ball with him and not make it awkward.
“Yes, that would be great” She answered, smiling at him. He smiled back and took her hand, kissing it lightly. “Perfect, now if you vill excuse me, professor Karkaroff vanted to talk to me earlier and told me to meet him around seven. See you at the Ball?”
“See you at the Ball” She answered, and he walked away. She finally had a date to the Yule Ball, and it was someone who she considered a friend. Not a really close friend and definitely not a best friend, but a friend.