Title: Independent Projects
Author: Sare Liz
Prompt: (02) Classes
Word Count: 1, 412
Series: The Amazing Bouncing Ferret
Disclaimer: Prompt from Potterverse 100. Characters the property of JKR and associated persons and corporations.
He was in the library an awful lot, and nearly always was surrounded by stacks of books. Sometimes it was just the two of them there, though at some point his fan club tended to wander in and then back out again at least once.
Hermione tried not to stare at him, and was mostly successful, but today she was having a rather hard time of it. The weather had really only just turned cold, and it always took her body a bit of time to adjust to it properly. Today she just couldn't get warm. And she couldn't really concentrate on her Arithmancy tables, though things had started to get really interesting in that class.
He was always here after dinner, she mused. Which is to say that she herself was nearly always here after dinner, and she'd never noticed him to be elsewhere. Her mind flitted over his presence, thinking briefly of his celebrity status and how similar it was to how the Creeveys treated Harry, and how the whole school seemed to be on the Potter Stinks bandwagon just now, and what a git Ron was being, but how wonderful Ginny was, and how horrible it was to just adore someone who didn't know that you existed, or at least, in that way…
But then Viktor Krum looked up. Hermione had been staring, but her mind was elsewhere. She didn't register that he now met her gaze until several moments into it. Startled, she looked away, her eyes darting around like her thoughts had, only to flit back to check – he was still looking at her. She looked away again, but back almost instantly, and held his gaze this time, at least for a tiny space. Hermione quirked her lips in a bit of a smile and was stunned to see how his face transformed when he smiled. Merlin, the boy was beautiful when he smiled.
This must be what people mean when they say something took their breath away, she thought. She'd previously ridiculed the notion, but Hermione now had empirical data. It took her a moment to figure out what she actually wanted out of this breath-taking experience, but in the end she decided that she'd rather like to talk with him again. Not that it would occur directly under Madam Pince's nose, of course. They'd have to be a bit sneakier than that.
Hermione smiled a tiny bit wider at Viktor and looked meaningfully to the rows of bookshelves off to her right, topping off her bit of non-verbal communication with the quirk of a single eyebrow. Would he get it? She pushed back her chair, still looking at him, and finally broke eye contact to wander into those bookshelves. Going to the end of a row, Hermione grabbed a book at random and sat on the low desk that was attached to the shelves. The Dangers of Anthropomorphizing Existential Concepts – it could prove rather interesting, even if Viktor didn't get the hint. Hermione looked up to verify the section she was in. Muggle Studies. That's what she'd thought. Flipping through the index of chapters Hermione made a mental note to check this one out. She started in on the first page of chapter one, A Survey of Anthropomorphic Personifications Throughout History, but before she could get past the first paragraph she heard a soft step coming up from behind.
She shifted her head slightly so she could see at least the feet and legs of whomever was near as they walked by, but when said feet and legs neared, encased in combat boots and brown wool respectively, they stopped. There was no walking by for these feet and legs, apparently. Hermione peered up, momentarily uncertain. She had wanted to talk to Viktor, so she'd taken the appropriate steps to do so, but now that she had him here to talk to, she wasn't sure she actually could. This sort of thing didn't happen when she wanted to speak with any of the other boys…
"Hi," was the only thing that came to mind.
"May I join you?" He was so courteous. Why couldn't Ron be like this? In fact, why couldn't any of the boys be like this? Seamus wasn't bad looking, neither was Dean, but neither of them had what one might term manners. Viktor pulled up a chair when she nodded. "Alvays it is making me think, that," he said, gesturing with his hand toward her.
Hermione blinked at him. "The book?" she queried, holding up the spine of her newfound treasure.
"No," he responded, looking at her. "Vot you were doing. I do not know vord. Vhen you say 'yes' vit no vords."
"Oh! You mean when I was nodding my head? Like this?" Hermione asked, nodding again.
"Yes," Viktor said, and Hermione noted that he did not nod his head. In fact he was very, very still. It was an odd thing to notice, but since she was fidgeting with the cover of the book and had the intense desire to smooth her skirt and brush her hair back, she noticed that he seemed so calm, comparatively speaking. "In my country, is other vay." Viktor nodded slightly, saying, "mean no." And then he shook his head, "mean yes. But only in Bulgaria."
"How interesting," Hermione said, sitting forward slightly with her elbows on her knees. "But surely not everyone from Durmstrang is from Bulgaria? I mean…" she trailed off, not quite sure how to ask her question tactfully.
"No, is true. From all Eastern Europe, not only Bulgaria." Viktor paused, seeming to look for the words he wanted. "But… at school ve not answering that vay. Our teachers get angry if they see us doing, even out of classroom."
"Oh!" Hermione responded, shifting the book in her lap slightly. "So, at school they sort of train you not to do it at all, but you're still used to seeing people respond… Well, respond a different way than they do here."
"Yes. Exactly, yes." Viktor smiled again at her and Hermione would be embarrassed to later report to Ginny that it was a bit difficult to think when Viktor smiled at her like that.
"So, um, what's your delegation doing for classes now that you're here?"
Viktor gave her a blank look.
"I mean," she began to rephrase, "Do you have classes here in the castle, or are your classes on your ship…"
"Oh. What are you studying? Is it just your headmaster who teaches you?"
Viktor collected his thoughts for a moment. "Two professors, our headmaster, and vone who… is helping him. Ve learn spells, and potions, and dark arts, and combat, and history, and creatures and plants, and… each student has two big… um, I do not know vord. Ve read and write, and we are having to do something about our learning, but ve do this alone."
"Oh, you mean, like an independent project?"
"I do not know vords you use."
"Independent is an adjective that means alone, without aid. Project is a noun that means…" Hermione trailed off, trying to figure out a good way to put it. "Well, a project could really be anything, but it's something that you create, or do. It's a very general word."
"Independent project. Yes. Yes, I like that. Ve all have two. Vone of mine is being in Tournament. Other is new; I learn how to be animagus." Viktor said the Latin word with such a thick accent that Hermione realized it must have been the same in his own language. Still, it took her brain just a half second longer than normal to puzzle out what he'd actually said. And then she did.
Hermione's mouth gaped slightly.
"That's fascinating!" she exclaimed in a quiet whisper.
It may be possible that Madam Pince had a soft spot in her heart for Hermione, but it was more likely that the couple was just quiet and had gone unnoticed by the librarian as they discussed the small amount of progress Viktor had made in his research thus far. Both were leaning toward each other, Hermione looking slightly down from her perch, Viktor looking slightly up from his chair, and both were blocking the aisle. It wasn't until a younger student needed to pass them (while looking breathlessly at Viktor – something Hermione had slightly more compassion for just now) that they found themselves booted from the cozy world that was all their own, population two.