The Library is usually a quiet place...
One Wizard too Many
Hermione sat in her usual place in the library, ostensibly studying an Arithmancy text. She was in reality contemplating the events that had transpired since Harry had asked her to be his date to the Yule Ball. Since Harry was currently absent; sitting through a Divination class; Hermione thought this a good time to review things in an ‘uncorrupted’ environment. Not that Harry was necessarily a corrupting influence exactly, but his mere presence seemed to do ‘things’ to her lines of thought. ‘Things’ that probably had to do with his gorgeous green eyes, or his messy hair that she so wanted to run her hands through. Or maybe had a lot to do with his somewhat hidden intellect; not nearly as developed as her own, but with a particular genius for application and unorthodox thinking.
“We do make a formidable team…”
Those ‘things’ could also be due to his obvious consideration and regard for her feelings. Where Ron would often belittle her, Harry would at least hear her out, even if he happened to disagree with her ideas. More often he would praise her to the skies for her intellect and wit, and then use her ideas to fight and conquer whatever issue was at hand.
“Therein lies a large problem for intelligent women; getting the men in our lives to give us a fair hearing!”
Hermione didn’t consider her self arrogant, but the evidence spoke for itself: she was kind of a smarty pants.
She had seen firsthand how many men could be intimidated by an intelligent woman. Her mother was also considered a very sharp lady as well as an accomplished dentist; yet many of her colleagues and patients could often get their ‘backs up’ over an issue simply because the correct answer was coming from a woman! And this was in modern day Great Britain; known to be the spiritual home of Women’s Suffrage and Equality!
Hermione’s problems with sexism in the Wizarding World had already proven to be a hundred times worse, and she hadn’t even left school.
“Almost to be expected from a society rooted in the Late Victorian Era!”
And here is where a huge difference between her Harry and every other wizard she’d ever met became obvious. Harry respected her for her intellectual gifts. Oh sure, he often competed playfully to bring out the best in her, but never to defeat or humiliate her.
She considered the other boys in Gryffindor.
Ron had demeaned her on almost a daily basis since they’d met. She’d only tolerated the ginger prat because he was friends with Harry. With that friendship now scuppered by Ron’s idiocy, she could now express her considerable disdain towards him.
The others were less anger inducing, but represented equally poor candidates for companionship. The twins were far too immature, Seamus was kind of an ass (but not to Ron’s standard!), Dean seemed a womanizer in the making, Lee seemed ok, but was involved with the quiddich chasers (possibly all three), McLaggan was destined to be the recipient of a castration hex if he didn’t cease and desist with the leers and comments, and the others were either too young or fairly unknown to her. The only boy in her house that came anywhere near her Harry was shy-guy Neville.
Boys in the other two houses were just as unacceptable. Slytherin House didn’t even merit her consideration.
“Where have all the good wizards gone? And where are all the gods?”
She thought she should stop there, lest she be stuck humming that song from Footloose all afternoon.
Besides, her hero had asked her to the Yule Ball!
That thought was good for a blush and a repressed ‘squee!’.
While her thoughts were centered on all things Potter, she failed to notice that the Durmstrang Champion had taken a seat at a nearby table. She also failed to notice the five quiddich fan girls who had taken up station at another table nearby. She also missed their obvious disappointment when Mister Krum got up and approached her table.
It took three tries by the Bulgarian seeker to get her attention when he began addressing her.
“Excuse me, miss. May I haf a vord?”
Hermione looked up at the dour young man.
“Good afternoon Mister Krum. What can I do for you?”
“I vas vondering if you had an escort to the Yule Ball?”
Hermione was more than a bit surprised by his advance.
“Sir, do you even know who I am?”
It was Viktor’s turn to look surprised.
“You are Her-minny Granger.”
“Well, it’s actually pronounced ‘Her-mi-o –ne’, but it’s a bit of an odd name. More importantly; why are you asking me?”
Viktor’s surprised look stayed in place.
“Because I haf been vatching you. You are unlike all the other girls here. You don’t care that I am famous.”
“Ah, I see.” Viktor Krum had a problem that Harry often encountered as well: being famous can sometimes suck.
And for the record, she felt a little dirty at the thought that Viktor had been ‘vatching’ her.
“I’m sorry, Mister Krum. I already have a date to the Ball. Thank you for asking though.”
Viktor appeared most put out.
“Who iz this vizard? I will show you who iz the better man!”
Hermione was shocked for a moment.
“Do all wizards think they have to pretend to have the biggest wand?”
“I think I can see the answer to that for myself, thanks.”
“You do not understand! I vish to take you to the Ball. I vill accept no alternative!”
“Mister Krum! I thank you for your apparent interest, but I am spoken for. Threatening my date is not going to get me to change my mind.” Firm, but polite was her motto when dealing with morons. Except Ron. He usually received the benefit of an embarrassing hex.
“I demand you tell me who iz your escort.”
Just then, the worst possible event for the peace and tranquility of the library, Hogwarts, and Wizarding Europe as a whole came to pass: Harry entered the room.
Hermione saw Harry enter the library and glance around the room for a moment before laying his eyes on their little tableaux. His expression told a story in itself.
He first had a big smile at seeing her.
His smile faded a bit when he saw she wasn’t alone.
His smile disappeared altogether when he saw Krum was hunched over her.
His face froze in a mask, but his eyes held a dangerous glint when he noticed Krum seemed to be glaring at her threateningly.
But it was the discomfort in her eyes that added a considerable amount of rage to his, mixed with just the slightest bit of crazy as he approached the scene.
Incidentally, it was storied that the eyes of Godric Gryffindor tended to display a similar mixture of wrath and insanity just before he would go into battle. It was often the last thing many Norsemen and Sassenachs saw before they were bloodily dispatched to whatever afterlife they could lay claim to.
In her heart, Hermione knew that this meeting would fall under the classification of ‘Not Good’.
Harry walked up to Hermione and greeted her with a kiss on the cheek.
Viktor Krum goggled.
The fan girls sighed.
Neville Longbottom, who had witnessed part of the scene from across the room, began to hustle the younger students away from that area of the library. He was going to step in, as friendship with the couple had begun to help him find his ‘inner Gryffindor’, but he saw Harry had things well in hand.
“Hi Hermione! How’s the Arithmancy paper coming?” Harry pretended to ignore the foreign wizard, much to that wizard’s chagrin.
Before she could reply, Viktor shoved Harry.
“You are her escort? A little boy?” Viktor was somewhat dismissive; and seemed to be channeling Fleur Delacoeur in the insult department.
Harry grinned a little. He did enjoy a bit of a scuffle when one was to be had.
“Why yes Viktor. Me. Does that seem to be a problem for you?”
Krum was a little perplexed. Usually the smaller boy should have been afraid of the ‘Mighty Viktor’.
“Yes. I am claiming the right to take Her-minny to the Ball. I vill duel you if necessary.”
Harry just eyed Viktor for a moment.
“Really? I was under the impression that the best way to get a date is to ask nicely.”
Viktor drew his wand.
“I claim my right as a superior vizard. I vill take what I vish.”
Harry had now officially had enough.
“Listen. I don’t know how things work wherever you’re from. Frankly I don’t care. All I know is that you will back away and leave us alone. Hermione is a wonderful girl, so I can’t really blame you for trying. But what she isn’t is a trophy to be claimed. Not by you, not by me, not by anyone.”
The magic was now rolling off of Harry in waves, causing Hermione and the fan-girls to be utterly entranced. His slightly glowing green eyes and self confident posture were pretty hot too.
Hermione, for all her militancy, was a pacifist at heart. But she was still all girl, and enjoyed the idea of her Harry fighting for her just a little.
Viktor was less impressed.
“You do not scare me, boy! If you vant a duel, name your time and place!”
Harry would have been just fine with creatively maiming the arrogant ponce, but he had to try just one more time to get the git to leave unharmed. He did promise Hermione, after all.
“Viktor, I implore you: walk away before we have to find someone to carry you.”
Viktor Krum laughed, and shoved Harry again.
Harry laughed with him as he grabbed Viktor’s wrists, pinning them in place against his shoulders.
“Duel, Viktor? Oh, we needn’t be so formal. Right here and right now works for me.”
Harry slipped his arms inside Viktor’s and grabbed him by the back of the neck. The head butt that followed managed to cause Viktor to bend at the waist slightly. Viktor’s hands were gripping Harry’s shoulders, and effectively out of the fight temporarily due to the smaller boy’s body position. Harry used Viktor’s momentary inattention to drive the Bulgarian’s savaged nose into his upraised knee. He then shoved Krum backwards and on to the floor.
Deep in Harry’s mind, where contemplative thoughts are kept, he thought about the situation. A few home truths stood out.
“First; wizards are pants at hand to hand. Too much wand use makes ‘em soft. Second; growing up how I did has made me much tougher than they will ever be. Third; quick reflexes and a lower center of gravity trump greater height and weight nearly every time. And fourth; magicals never learn!”
“Harry!” Hermione was stunned with the speed and viciousness of the attack. And maybe a little turned on too.
Viktor lie on his back, half sitting, as he pressed one hand to his face to stop the bleeding. The other hand was reaching for his wand next to him, as he had dropped it when Harry’s forehead had connected with his nose.
“Expelliarmus.” Harry shot from the hip and disarmed the recently re-armed Viktor. He eyed the larger boy coldly.
Viktor rose to his feet, his face a mask of fury.
“Ve duel, da?”
“Nyet Viktor, we fight. Dueling is for pansies.”
Viktor charged. Harry managed to dodge and punch Viktor in the stomach as he went by. The larger boy staggered for a moment, before grabbing Harry by the arm and trying to hit him in the side of the head. Most of the Bulgarian’s blows glanced off of Harry’s upraised shoulder, but a few hit him in the ear. Harry shook off the stars for a moment, and then hit Viktor hard in his exposed ribs. Viktor staggered back again, but then fired off a surprise right cross that bloodied Harry’s nose. Harry could only grin.
“My tubby cousin hits harder than you!”
Harry then threw a swinging left hook at Viktor’s upraised hands, clearing the road for a right cross of his own straight at his opponent’s mouth. Viktor’s head snapped back, and Harry threw another left, knocking the boy’s hands away again, before snapping off a right jab to his gory face.
“Benefits of growing up with a violent criminal-in-the-making who happens to like boxing.”
Viktor had, by this time, backed up against the fan girls table. The formerly giggly girls were all stunned into immobility at witnessing Viktor Krum and Harry Potter trying to take each others heads off.
Harry grinned an evil grin and tackled Krum onto the table top. The girls skittered their chairs backwards in alarm. Harry took a position above him, pinning him down by the neck, and began to rain down punches at Viktor’s battered face.
“Don’t you bother my Hermione again! Hear me?”
Viktor could only try and shield his face as Harry remorselessly attempted to turn his visage into ground beef.
Somewhere in his rage, Harry heard a faint voice and felt a soft hand on his shoulder.
Hermione had snapped out of her trance and come over to him.
Harry calmed a bit at her voice and touch, and looked over at her.
“Harry. Stop please.” She gently pulled him off of a now non-belligerent Krum.
As the emotion bled away, Harry sagged and hugged the calming girl.
Krum could only sit up and sniff a bit. He had been bested in Muggle dueling and he knew it. He hated to lose, but the girl had practically saved him by pulling the maniac off.
Just then, Madam Pince rushed into the library accompanied by Madam Pomfrey, McGonagall, and Dumbledore. She had witnessed the beginning stages of the fight, and sensibly had no wish to come between two seriously angry wizards. So instead, she sought reinforcements.
“Mister Potter! What is the meaning of this?” Professor Dumbledore was most displeased.
“Oh sure, blame me right away!”
Harry turned, keeping his arm around Hermione’s shoulders.
“Nothing too exiting, Professor. Just some Champions business. We’ve managed to sort it out though.”
The four faculty members took in the scene in disbelief. A bloody Viktor Krum, Harry Potter with a sprung nose, a very pale Hermione Granger, and five other girls who looked completely gob smacked.
“Champion’s Business you say?” Dumbledore looked askance at Harry.
“Yes, champion’s business. And it’s been sorted, so no worries.”
“Harry, for some reason I always seem to find a reason to worry when it comes to you.” Dumbledore turned to Viktor. “Mister Krum, what do you have to say on the subject?”
“Nothing, Headmaster Dumbledore. Our business has been concluded.”
Dumbledore looked at the bloodied boy for a moment, then turned to Hermione.
“Miss Granger. Do you wish to add anything?”
She put on her best innocent look. “No Professor.”
Dumbledore looked oddly satisfied.
“Well, I trust that since your ‘business’ seems to be complete, I see no need to pry further. I also am confident that whatever ‘business’ was transacted between the two of you will not need to be ‘rehashed’, correct?”
“Yes Professor.” The three of them answered in unison.
Dumbledore looked at them all for a moment in his twinkly fashion.
“Well then. Minerva, Madam Pomfrey, Madam Pince; shall we be away?”
McGonagall looked primed for an epic rant, but the Headmaster’s dismissal effectively stifled her argument. Madam Pomfrey just mumbled something about ‘rambunctious boys’. Madam Pince was just happy to see her fief returned to its usual quiescent state. The faculty then returned to their previous duties.
Viktor sniffled into a sleeve and regarded the younger couple. Harry and Hermione were hugging and whispering to each other in a manner known well to lovers the world over.
“Look at them! I was a fool to come between them, and I have learned a fool’s lesson. I must apologize.”
Viktor approached them with hands raised slightly.
“Mister Potter. I must apologize for my arrogance. I find I am not the superior vizard. You may claim Her-minny for your own.”
Harry just grinned slightly. The anger had left his eyes and been replaced by a genial glint.
“Mister Krum. I accept your apology. But I wish to impress upon you that I can not ‘claim’ Hermione as such, and would be a fool to try.”
“Vhat do you mean?”
“I’m pretty good at this magic stuff, but Hermione is a thousand times smarter than me. Would you want to anger a brilliant and powerful witch by trying to force your will on her?”
Viktor paled a bit at the implications of that question.
Harry continued. “Add in the fact that my Hermione is very strong willed and independent; you can see that she allows me to believe we’re equals in this relationship.”
He grinned hugely at Hermione, who smiled back shyly at the praise.
“I see. You have given me much to think about.” Graveled Viktor.
The two wizards shook hands, and Viktor left peaceably.
Harry watched him leave for a moment, and then turned to Hermione.
“So. How is your Arithmancy paper coming?”
Hermione just looked at him for a moment, and then chuckled.
“Only you, Harry. Let me fix that for you.”
She took out her wand and began healing Harry’s bruised face.
“You know, a few more incidents like this, and I could claim internship hours for a Healers Degree.”
“Hmm… You as my own personal nursemaid. I like it.”
“That would be equivalent to a doctor, Harry.”
“Just as long as we can get you some sort of skimpy outfit.”
She smacked him on the arm, but grinned.
“Comments like that might require the services of a real doctor.”
Harry feigned hurt.
“But what about your Hippocratic Oath?”
“I’ll ask for an exemption when it comes to you.”
“Oh, the pain. I should make you kiss it away.”
“One day, I might have to take you up on that offer.” She grinned evilly at him.
Harry could only blush. She got him again.
He found that he didn’t mind a bit.
A/N: Jeez! Vicky Krum is almost as bad as Hagrid with the spell check!