Well, I was right, Fleur did invite Viktor to the wedding. I was far from the only person to have expected that. Someone had to do it, and it isn’t like Rowling had managed to shoehorn him in any other way.
Since Rowling had already admitted that the things she states in interviews don’t always come to pass by the time she actually settles down to write that section of the story, I wasn’t gong to depend upon Krum’s return, but I figured I could afford to stick my neck out at least that much. And she had said that he would be back.
Of course once he did show up we discovered that he was yet another character who had acquired an unfortunate personality makeover. It was DHs, so what can one say? In this case we got a comprehensive personality replacement. I preferred the first version, thank you. And, indeed, for the rest of this article I think I’ll just ignore the spear carrier who was using his name in DHs and concentrate on that first version.
The first thing about Viktor Krum that we need to sort out is that unless Durmstrang takes an entirely different age range of students than Hogwarts does, which I doubt, it is likely that Ron was simply somewhat off in his statement that the Bulgarian Seeker was “really young too. Only just eighteen or something.” It was almost certainly “or something”. To still be in school, Viktor was probably no more than seventeen at the World Cup, and possibly throughout the year of the TriWizard Tournament as well. Although it is always possible that he may have turned 18 between when we saw him in the summer and the arrival of the Durmstrang contingent at Halloween. For that matter, Krum could even have still been only 16 when we saw him at the World Cup in August and only just turned 17 by the time school started. Ron, not having realized that Krum was actually still in school, may have unconsciously scaled up what he expected Krum’s probable age to be. All we have ever been told since is that Krum was in his final year at Durmstrang, and might easily have still only been 17 throughout the Tournament.
Hermione, for that matter, we now know for certain was 15 by the time the Durmstrang contingent arrived for the Tournament.
I think I may be in the minority here but I’ve always suspected that Viktor was originally drawn to Hermione, not just because she was smart, not just because she wasn’t a mindless groupie who was all over him for no reason other than because he was famous, and not even because she was passably pretty, or known to be a friend of Harry Potter’s (who may not be a celebrity on the same order in Europe as he is in Britain, but he is still a celebrity), but specifically because she had been pointed out to him as being Muggle-born.
By someone who was doing her no favors.
As Ron Weasley so vehemently keeps reminding us; Krum was from Durmstrang. Durmstrang does not admit Muggle-born students. Viktor had quite possibly never in his life really been exposed to Muggle-born witches or wizards — not to talk to. Consequently, from where he was standing, Miss Hermione Granger was exotic. And there is no question that if the subject is not Quidditch, Hermione can talk intelligently on pretty much any topic common to school-aged boys. For that matter, Hermione tells us that the two of them did talk mostly about school — and Harry.
Even if she was 2-3 years younger than Viktor, she would have easily been able to hold her own on those subjects. And, for that matter, he might even have enjoyed being teased about his “wonky faint” for a change. Or even been downright grateful to find someone who didn’t want to talk about Quidditch all the time.
• • • •
Quite a few fans are totally convinced that Krum only noticed Hermione since she was one of the girls, if not the only one, who wasn’t slavishly following him around due to his fame. It’s easy enough to jump to that conclusion, and that may very well have contributed, but on its own it doesn’t quite fit.
For one thing, in a school with about 300 students (yes, I know Rowling now says that it’s 600. She also says that there are only 3,000 witches and wizards in all of Great Britain. Rowling cannot count), it’s very likely that Hermione wasn’t the only one not to be falling all over him. Particularly given that he doesn’t look like any kind of matinee idol. Nor was he exactly “Mr Congeniality”.
And, given how seldom we’ve seen the usual cast of characters pay the slightest bit of attention to students from any year but their own, for a 7th year foreign “guest” student to have singled out a 4th-year girl of no particular degree of stunning beauty or family influence, and one who is rather emphatically not widely popular in her own school, it stands to reason that she probably had been pointed out to him, quite specifically, by somebody. For a reason.
Ron was convinced the reason was that she is a friend of Harry Potter’s.
Aka as Krum’s competition in the tournament.
He may not have been altogether wrong. Ron does have a lot more intuition than Hermione does. But I suspect that was not the only reason. Particularly given who I suspect it was that did the pointing out.
Obviously, Krum’s growing attachment to and his continuing interest in Hermione had little or nothing to do with her Muggle background, but his original attention may very well have had a bit of prompting from outside forces specifically on that account. And not because said “forces” thought highly of her, either.
I suspect that the ensuing association between them had a distinct element of being “one in the eye” to various 3rd parties on both sides of the equation. Rendering them, from a fairly early stage of the proceedings, into something in the manner of “partners in crime”. Their continuing friendly correspondence a year later at least suggests that there was something more to the association than hormones and spite. Not that it seems to have lasted. Like I say, by the time we caught up to Viktor Krum again he had been demoted to an infodump on legs.
We can easily guess the identities of the cast of several about whom Hermione may have felt a trace of smugness in “scoring off of” when she showed up at the Yule brawl on the arm of Viktor Krum. For that matter, she may well have been attempting to give a very particular someone “one in the eye” by that association. Someone who she had already decided is prone to bouts of jealousy.
• • • •
And this might also be an appropriate point to recall just who Krum was being forced to associate with on a daily basis that year as well.
I suspect that a rather amusing “biter bit” situation may have been responsible for the launching of that Krum/Granger partnership. Or, at any rate, it is simple enough to draft out a reasonably plausible one. Whether it is actually on-target or not. Which we will probably never be told.
Igor Karkaroff, Headmaster of Durmstrang, is an ex-Death Eater. By this time, post-Voldemort and the DE trials, he certainly knows who — and how dangerous — Lucius Malfoy can be. And the last thing he would want to do is antagonize him. Or get in his way.
And Malfoy has a son at Hogwarts.
And the kid is Quidditch-mad — plays Seeker on the House team and is the sort of kid who is bound and determined to call attention to himself.
So, although Karkaroff is very good about fending off the rest of the groupies, he doesn’t quite dare to pull excessive rank on the Malfoy sprout. The Durmstrang contingent also shares table with the House that the Malfoy spout is in, so there is no keeping him away from the pet celebrity.
And at 14, the Malfoy sprout — as we were all too well aware — never knew when to keep his mouth shut. (Malfoy seems to have finally learned that lesson over the summer between Year 5 & 6) So, there he is boasting to Viktor Krum about what a hot Quidditch player he is, what losers everyone else is, how he can’t see why everyone thinks Potter is such hot stuff, yadda, yadda... You just know that “that mudblood Granger” is going to figure in his tirade somewhere. She always does, eventually.
Well, Viktor Krum may be a ’Strang boy, and surly with it, besides, and by the time he is 20 we are supposed to believe that he will have had his head pretty throughly turned by his fame. But at 17–18 he isn’t a pretentious twerp. And while he is a jock, we have no real reason to suppose that he is a stupid jock, however inarticulate he might be in a second, or more likely third language. He is Durmstrang’s chosen Champion, for goodness sake! There has to be more substance to the kid than just being able to stay on a broom. And as a world-class celebrity who has earned every bit of his fame honestly, I don’t really think he has a lot of time for pretentious twerps. And, anyone that this particular little pretentious twerp has such a down on may be worth some further investigation.
And Viktor has never actually met a mudblood. Not to talk to.
And, dammit, Karkaroff doesn’t own him.
• • • •
And, I think that over the following months, Hermione quickly became one of the brighter spots in this year-long ordeal.
I mean, think about it; he really wasn’t having a particularly good time, was he? There was clearly tampering with this contest going on right from the get-go. He got stunned from behind once, put under Imperius and forced to attack one of his competitors, not to mention having to deal with dragons, merpeople, and thread his way through a maze of monsters. For all that it was a great honor to do so, it was hardly fun.
Another factor regarding Viktor Krum which regularly gets pointed out on the Snape/Hermione lists is the physical resemblance between young Viktor and Severus Snape. While much of this particular ado is probably about nothing, and can most safely be filed under “H” for “hope springs eternal”, the resemblances of neither facial feature, nor general surliness between the two is altogether illusionary.
Unlike the “similarities” fans were determined to find between Peter Pettigrew and Neville Longbottom, which were all in Harry’s head — and only lasted until Harry actually met Pettigrew, the Krum«–»Snape similarities appear to be quite real, however shallow, and are out there for all of us to see. They’re just not as pronounced as the SS/HG crowd likes to make them out to be.
That from the end of GoF up until the end of HBP, Snape was generally regarded as a probable White Hat, and that Viktor Krum had the distinction of having been Hermione’s only official “boyfriend” up to that point in the series was enough to keep the Snape/Hermione ’shippers waiting further phantom developments.
The physical similarities between the two are the more striking, although Krum’s hooked nose could be partially due to an encounter with a bludger at or before the previous summer’s World Cup. And, in this regard, of the two, Snape may have a slight advantage, in that he is apparently no longer round-shouldered, does not walk like a duck, and is articulate in Miss Granger’s native language. He has also pretty completely “reinvented” himself from the scruffy little working-class tyke that boarded the Hogwarts Express in 1971. But we were also shown a few similarities in manner, given Krum’s public surliness and private apparent interest in scholarship. Which is a classic hallmark of fanon Snape, and has since been shown to be more-or-less supported in canon, even if canon Snape unaccountably does seem to think that you are more likely to find a (specifically Japanese) Kappa in Mongolia.
And until the conclusion of HBP, there was also a quite blatant similarity in the placement of these two characters wherein both appeared to be heavily tarred with the brush of their associations, being both from backgrounds known to be hotbeds of prejudice and association with the Dark Arts. Prejudices which for the duration of the period between OotP and the release of DHs it was heavily suggested may be shared in Snape’s case, but shows no particular indication of being so in Krum’s. In fact, if anything, the opposite.
And, for a couple of books there, until we finally got a “real” one. Viktor seemed to be the closest glimpse we had of the series’s desperately hoped for, hypothetical “one good Slytherin”.