"Could I have a vord?" he asked her.
"Oh…yes…all right," said Hermione, feeling slightly flustered. She followed Krum through the crowd of students until they reached a spot that was partially secluded. Krum looked very seriously at Hermione before he began to speak.
"Herm-own-ninny," he said, "I haff asked you before if you vill come to Bulgaria. Now that it is summer, haff you made your choice?"
Hermione looked at the ground uncomfortably. She had told Viktor when he asked her that she would have to think it over. She had indeed thought it over quite a bit. However, it seemed like every time she had almost made the decision to say yes, something happened to change her mind. Like a few weeks ago, in the common room. She had just been on her way out of the portrait hole to talk with Viktor when Ron and Harry happened to walk in. She had said hello to them and then Ron had grinned at her. For a moment, her mind just went blank as she stared at the pair of them, most prominently Ron. Suddenly, she hadn't really wanted to go to Bulgaria anymore.
It seemed that all of these incidents had involved Ron in one way or another. Hermione was thoroughly confused by this at first, but as time went on, she had become increasingly more aware of her feelings. Now, as Viktor asked her once more (he just didn't give up!) Hermione saw Ron's unmistakable red hair bobbing above the crowd, attempting to see where she had gone. Ron certainly did act strange about Viktor. Ever since the Yule Ball, really. If Hermione didn't know any better, she might think that Ron… No, that was just silly. Wasn't it? She certainly couldn't think that way. Ron was her friend and nothing more. Right?
"Herm-own-ninny?" said Viktor questioningly. Hermione suddenly realized that she had been staring at the ground, lost in thought, for almost a solid minute.
"Viktor," she began, "I'm really sorry, but I just don't think I can come to Bulgaria this summer."
"May I ask why?" replied Viktor.
"Well, a lot of reasons really. First, with this whole You-Know-Who thing going on right now, I don't think it's really too safe to travel, do you? And my parents…they probably wouldn't let me go anyway. I mean there is quite an age difference between us, you know. I do realize it's only four years, but at this age…"
"Herm-own-ninny," he interrupted, " It's alright. I understand. I am hoping ve vill still be friends?"
"Oh, yes, of course," Hermione replied and began to walk away. Has she did, she heard Viktor say, "And to think I vas vorried about Potter. It vas the red-haired one I should haff vatched out for."
"What?" Hermione said, turning sharply to face Viktor.
"It is rather obvious, you know. How you feel about that red-haired boy…vats his name?"
"Ron," said Hermione quietly.
"Yes, him. Vell, I hope this boy knows how lucky he is," replied Viktor.
"Oh, no, Viktor. You've made a mistake. I mean Ron, he's just my…we're just…" Viktor held up his hand to silence her.
No need to explain, Herm-own-ninny. I just vish he vas not so angry vith me about how I feel. I do like you very much, but I can see you do not feel the same. Vell, you best be getting back to your friends. I vill come too. I vould like to say goodbye to Potter."
Hermione stared, dumbstruck, at Viktor for a moment before following him back to where Harry and Ron stood. She could tell Ron was staring at her, probably trying to figure out what she had been talking about. She did her best to keep her face impassive. However, when Ron suddenly asked Viktor for his autograph as he turned away, she couldn't help smiling to herself. As the carriages trundled into view, she thought that perhaps Viktor had been right. Anyway, you never know what the next year might bring.