Madam Puddifoot’s: Because They’re Friends: Demystifying Harry, Hermione, Viktor, and Ron

by Red Monster

(All page numbers are taken from the U.S. editions. All references come from Goblet of Fire unless otherwise noted.)

Goblet of Fire is arguably the most shipping-oriented installment of the Harry Potterseries to date. It is the book with the most intense and complicated development of romantic attractions so far. This is the book in which Hagrid takes a liking to Madame Maxime, Harry develops a silent rivalry with Cedric Diggory over Cho Chang, Fleur Delacour comes in and turns all the boys into gawking fools, particularly Ron Weasley, and Hermione shows up at the Yule Ball on the arm of Bulgarian Quidditch star Viktor Krum.

It is this last contact that results in the most complicated and distressing emotional entanglement with the greatest number of people. While Ron is furious at Hermione for “fraternizing with the enemy,” Viktor becomes openly smitten with her and Daily Prophet reporter Rita Skeeter drags Harry into the mess by fabricating a relationship between him and Hermione. Both sides of the primary ship debate — that is, of Harry/Hermione vs. Ron/Hermione, have seized upon this entanglement and appropriated it for their own shipping arguments. While the Harry/Hermione tribe (thank you, J.K. Rowling) cites Viktor’s confusion as evidence of Hermione’s attachment to Harry, the Ron/Hermione tribe explains Hermione’s behavior between Viktor and Ron as her effort to deliberately make Ron jealous of her contact with Viktor.

Both of these positions assume dishonesty and manipulation on Hermione’s part, and both are mistaken. Rita Skeeter’s reporting turns these teenagers’ interactions into a complicated “love pyramid” with Hermione at the top as a devious temptress and emotional mastermind, and Harry, Viktor and Ron as the base (though Ron is not included in Rita’s stories, he does become a part of the entanglement) but in fact, Hermione’s motivations and intentions are very straightforward. She does not use Viktor to provoke jealousy in Ron or to distract him from her developing love for Harry. On the contrary, she does not use Viktor at all.

Harry’s Role: Rita is the Key

One may wonder why Hermione has been talking very often about Harry to Viktor. This activity on her part is not indicative of romantic feelings towards either of her best friends. She does not do this because she is in love with Harry or because she’s trying to cover up her feelings for Ron. The reason for her behavior is readily available on the page. She talks about Harry to Viktor because he is her friend. He’s going through a lot, she’s worried about him, so she talks about him. Also, Harry is someone that both Hermione and Viktor know. He is one of the few things they have in common. Viktor does not know Ron except as the boy who was rude to him at the Yule Ball, so Hermione has less reason to talk about him.

For all we know, she could be talking about Ron, too, but Viktor does not consider him a rival because Rita Skeeter does not have anything to say about him. Rita is the key to the confusion. Only after the Witch Weekly article appears, and everyone knows about the supposed Harry-Hermione-Viktor triangle (pg. 546), does Viktor take Harry aside and demand to know what’s going on. His driving forces are a combination of his own insecurities (because Hermione isn’t spending enough time with him) and Rita Skeeter’s reporting. He’s worried about what’s going on because he’s not making any progress with Hermione, and then someone shows him the Rita Skeeter article that paints Harry as his rival, so Viktor thinks he has the answer to why Hermione talks about him so often. When Harry tells him it’s all lies, Viktor believes him.

“I vont to know,” he said, glowering, “vot there is between you and Hermy-own-ninny.”
Harry, who from Krum’s secretive manner, had expected something much more serious than this, stared up at Krum in amazement. 

“Nothing,” he said. But Krum glowered at him, and Harry, somehow struck anew by how tall Krum was, elaborated. “We’re friends. She’s not my girlfriend and never has been. It’s just that Skeeter woman making things up.” 

“Hermy-own-ninny talks about you very often,” said Krum, looking suspiciously at Harry. 

“Yeah,” said Harry, “because we’re friends.” 

He couldn’t quite believe he was having this conversation with Viktor Krum, the famous International Quidditch Player. It was as though the eighteen-year-old Krum thought he, Harry, was an equal — a real rival — 

“You haff never…you haff not…” 

“No,” said Harry very firmly. 

Krum looked slightly happier. He stared at Harry for a few seconds, then said, “You fly very vell. I vos votching at the first task.” 

(GoF, pp. 552-3)

When Harry answers Viktor’s questions, Viktor relaxes and is ready to change the subject. He accepts Harry’s explanation and then moves on, which suggests that Harry’s story of “that Skeeter woman making things up,” makes sense and does not contradict anything Hermione has been telling him. It is the quantity, not the quality, of Hermione’s talking about Harry that gives Viktor pause, and once that is cleared up, it’s time to talk about something else. All Vicky has left to figure out is why Hermy-own-ninny won’t spend more time with him and doesn’t appear to fancy him anywhere near as much as he fancies her. However, since Harry is not her boyfriend, he wouldn’t know about that, and Viktor will have to seek answers elsewhere.

Hermione and Viktor: One-Sided Attraction

The interaction between Hermione and Viktor Krum warrants some discussion and examination. He makes no secret of the fact that he is very taken with her. He is the first one to ask her to the Yule Ball and confesses to “coming up to the library every day to try and talk to” Hermione until he is finally able to “pluck up the courage” (pg. 422). He also tells her he has “never felt this way about any other girl” (pg. 512), and best of all, Hermione is the thing that he would most miss in the Second Task. It is safe to say that Viktor is very fond of Hermione and that his feelings are of a decidedly non-platonic nature. The question still remains: does Hermione feel the same way about him?

This is a valid question. After all, she does agree to go to the ball with him, dresses up for him, dances with him, allows him to engage her in conversation, and tells Ron that Viktor is “really nice, you know” (pg. 444), which suggests that she has had some time to talk with Viktor away from Harry and Ron. All this would create the appearance of Hermione being quite taken with Viktor, even of having entered into a dating relationship with him.

Except that it doesn’t. None of those clues constitutes sufficient evidence of romantic attachment. Attending a school dance together could be indicative of a romantic relationship, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, Cedric Diggory apparently started dating Cho Chang after the ball, but Harry was not very taken with Parvati Patil and Ginny was not all that happy with Neville. I suspect that Hermione’s attending with Krum was somewhere in between. She was friendly to him and had a good time with him, but her feelings for him were platonic in nature.

Second, Hermione’s dressing up might be significant if they were not at an occasion at which formal dress was required. She did not dress up “for” Viktor, or for Harry, or for Ron, either. She dressed up for the occasion. If Hermione was hoping to impress anyone with her appearance that night, it was the whole school. She would have been thinking of Parvati, and Draco, and Pansy, and Viktor’s fan club, and everyone else in the Great Hall who was shocked out of their shoes to see Hermione looking glamorous and well-groomed for once in her life. None of these three boys get to claim that Hermione dressed up for his benefit.

Third, their dancing together was another activity that was required for the occasion, as Viktor was a Triwizard Champion. If Hermione likes to dance, and Viktor is a good dancer, that does not mean she fancies him. I do not deny that Hermione enjoyed herself when she attended the ball with Viktor, but her behavior toward him is acceptable in the context of a platonic friendship.

The following scene is very telling of Hermione’s feelings toward Viktor.

Fleur was clapping very hard, too, but Krum didn’t look happy at all. He attempted to engage Hermione in conversation again, but she was too busy cheering Harry to listen.
(pg. 507)

One would think that, as Viktor thought of Hermione as the thing he would miss the most, she would have more attention for him. One would think that she would be at least appreciative enough of Viktor’s having pulled her out of the lake to allow him to engage her in conversation. She has enough focus on Ron to look “simply furious” when Fleur kisses him, and she pays enough attention to Harry to cheer for him when his marks are announced. Meanwhile, the nice young man who accompanied her to the Yule Ball and rescued her in the Second Task is heartily ignored. It appears that Miss Granger does not reciprocate Mr. Krum’s affections. He is really just a friend to her, and not an especially important one.

Of course, one must also take into account that Hermione continues to write to Viktor in OotP, in fact, she is given to writing letters to him that trail on the floor. This might raise eyebrows, if not for the fact that writing an excessively long document is not an unusual occurrence for Hermione, especially where foreign cultures are concerned.

Did you see that picture of Ron and his family a week ago? I bet he’s learning loads. I’m really jealous — the ancient Egyptian wizards were fascinating. 

There’s some interesting local history of witchcraft [in France], too. I’ve rewritten my whole History of Magic essay to include some of the things I’ve found out. I hope it’s not too long — it’s two rolls of parchment more than Professor Binns asked for.

(PoA, pg. 11)

Viktor Krum is a foreign wizard. Hermione Granger is an extremely verbose, inquisitive girl who is fascinated with the magical cultures of other countries. That she can find so much to write to him is not surprising.

Furthermore, she did not lead Viktor on, either. When assessing the situation and assigning responsibility for the development of the one-sided attraction between them, certain facts should be taken into account. For example, the age difference between Hermione and Viktor should be noted. Hermione is 15 when they meet, with no relationship experience. Viktor is 18, and is an internationally famous Quidditch player, which gives him more life experience than the average wizard his age. Three years is not a long time to someone over 20, but between two teenagers, that is a major difference. The burden of self-awareness and personal responsibility falls on Viktor. A young man with a career that requires dedication and drive well beyond what the average 18-year-old possesses, and has women throwing themselves at him on a regular basis, does not get to accuse 15-year-old Hermione of “leading him on.”

We don’t know if he thinks she reciprocates his feelings, and even if he does, we don’t have the evidence to say that Hermione wanted him to think she liked him back. All the interaction between them that we’ve seen shows her being friendly and acting appropriately for the occasion, at best. If Viktor got the idea from those experiences that Hermione fancied him, then he misled himself. However, since we do not know what Viktor believes of what Hermione feels for him, it is impossible to determine how he came to his conclusion.

In determining why Hermione gave Viktor as much of her time and interaction as she did, if she feels so unengaged in him, I think that what she really appreciates about him is that he notices her. He came to her at a time when she was feeling ugly and undesirable and afraid that no boy would ever see her as a Girl. By asking her to the ball and telling her he’d been working up the courage to talk to her in the library, Viktor showed Hermione that she was not only recognizable as a Girl, but also appealing. After receiving such appreciative attention from him, she wasn’t about to turn him away. She responded to the affirmation he gave her. There was nothing more going on than that.

Ron and Hermione with Viktor Between

While Harry and Hermione have the steadiest and most reliable friendship in Goblet of Fire, and Viktor and Hermione have the clearest and most publicly visible appearance of a courtship, however one-sided, Ron and Hermione are the ones with the most emotionally intense developing attraction for each other. While their feelings have been developing at least since CoS, arguably since PS/SS on a subtextual level, they become patently obvious in Goblet of Fire.

This is the book in which Hermione is annoyed with Ron because he took three years to notice she’s a girl, is offended that he only wants to take a pretty girl to the ball, demands that he ask her to the next ball, and looks simply furious when Fleur Delacour kisses him on the cheeks, among other things. Since she shows signs of attraction and romantic attachment to Ron, but also has time for Viktor, it is frequently assumed that the reason she allowed Viktor into her life was to deliberately make Ron jealous. While this is a popular, though outdated and misogynistic literary model, the problem is that Hermione’s behavior does not fit the mold of the Woman Who Uses a Third Party to Make Her Lover Jealous. The scenes in which Ron displays his jealousy of Viktor tell a different story about Hermione’s intentions.

“It’s hot, isn’t it?” said Hermione, fanning herself with her hand. 

“Viktor’s just gone to get some drinks.” 

Ron gave her a withering look. “Viktor?” he said. “Hasn’t he asked you to call him Vicky yet?” 

Hermione looked at him in surprise. “What’s up with you?” she said. 

“If you don’t know,” said Ron scathingly, “I’m not going to tell you.” 

Hermione stared at him, then at Harry, who shrugged. 

“Ron, what–?” 

(pg. 421)

She is very surprised, and not in a happy way, when Ron shows that he is jealous. This is a very strange reaction for a girl who was planning to make Ron feel jealous of her going to the ball with Viktor. This incongruous behavior is not an indication that Hermione is an exceptionally good actress, it is an indication that Ron being jealous was not what she had in mind.

“And what did you say?” Ron repeated, pounding his pestle down so hard that it dented the desk. 

“Well, I was too busy seeing whether you and Harry were okay to–” 
(pg. 514)

Hermione is quick to assure Ron that his and Harry’s well-being are more important to her than Viktor’s invitation. She tells Ron that, even when Viktor pulled her away to talk to her in private, she was paying attention to Ron and Harry, not to Viktor. Back at the Second Task, this is not the way to behave if Hermione is trying to give Viktor the impression that she fancies him. In their Potions lesson, this is not the way to act if she wants Ron to be jealous of Viktor.

Krum shrugged. He held out his hand as Fleur had done, shook Harry’s hand, and then Ron’s. Ron looked as though he was suffering some sort of painful internal struggle. Krum had already started walking away when Ron burst out, “Can I have your autograph?” 

Hermione turned away, smiling at the horseless carriages that were now trundling toward them up the drive, as Krum, looking surprised but gratified, signed a fragment of parchment for Ron. 
(pp. 725-6)

Hermione smiles when Krum signs his autograph for Ron. She is happy to see Ron being on good terms with Viktor. She does not like to see them at odds, which suggests that Ron’s jealousy of Krum is not something she enjoys.

Also in GoF, on pg. 725:

Krum had come to say good-bye to Hermione. 

“Could I have a vord?” 

“Oh…yes…all right,” said Hermione, looking slightly flustered, and following Krum through the crowd and out of sight. 

“You’d better hurry up!” Ron called loudly after her. “The carriages’ll be here any minute!” 

He let Harry keep a watch for the carriages, however, and spent the next few minutes craning his neck over the crowd to try and see what Krum and Hermione might be up to. They returned quite soon. Ron stared at Hermione, but her face was quite impassive.

Why does Hermione look impassive? Could it be that she’s determined not to let Ron catch onto what she just discussed with Krum? This may look good at first, but in fact it does not make sense. When has Hermione ever looked “impassive” at Ron where Viktor is concerned? Just before she walked off, she looked “slightly flustered.” The usual indicator of her emotional state in front of Ron when she has something of a personal nature to report about Viktor is that she blushes up a storm. I have a much more blasphemous explanation to suggest: her face was quite impassive because nothing happened. They weren’t gone for very long: notice that they returned quite soon. Whatever happened in that short period of time, whatever Viktor said to her, Hermione responded in such a way that she would not feel uncomfortable about it in front of Ron. When they returned to Ron and Harry, she was able to look impassive towards Ron because she had nothing to hide.

Then we have OotP, the book with the answers. One thing we discover is that Hermione did not go to Bulgaria that summer. Harry muses in the first chapter that Ron and Hermione are apparently at the same place, judging from their letters. Harry says nothing about the possibility that Hermione went to Bulgaria, which makes sense, because she is already at Grimmauld Place halfway through the summer and she seems to have already been there for quite some time. If she managed to go to Bulgaria before that, one has to wonder if she saw her parents at all between PoA and OotP. Second, there are places in the book where someone could have mentioned that Hermione went to Bulgaria, but no one does. Take this passage from OotP, pp. 331-2, for example:

“…you were the only person last year who could throw off the Imperius Curse completely, you can produce a Patronus, you can do all sorts of stuff that full-grown wizards can’t, Viktor always said–” 

Ron looked around at her so fast he appeared to crick his neck; rubbing it, he said, “Yeah? What did Vicky say?” 

“Ho ho,” said Hermione in a bored voice. “He said Harry knew how to do stuff even he didn’t, and he was in the final year at Durmstrang.” 

Ron was looking at Hermione suspiciously. 

“You’re not still in contact with him, are you?” 

“So what if I am?” said Hermione coolly, though her face was a little pink. “I can have a pen pal if I–” 

“He didn’t only want to be your pen pal,” said Ron accusingly. 

Hermione shook her head exasperatedly and, ignoring Ron, who was continuing to watch her, said to Harry, “Well, what do you think? Will you teach us?”

At no point in this exchange does Ron say anything, nor does Harry-as-narrator think anything, about Hermione going to visit Viktor. If there were any uncertainty about whether she had gone, it would have been out-of-character for Ron not to bring it up. In fact, there is not a single instance in all of OotP in which anyone mentions the possibility that Hermione visited Viktor in Bulgaria, or even the fact that he invited her. As of OotP, the topic has ceased to be an issue. She did not go to visit Viktor, and Ron knows it.

Additionally, the above scene is frequently cited as evidence of Hermione using Viktor, yet again, to provoke Ron’s jealousy, but I see a different process at work. That “So what if I am?” is not a diversionary tactic, it is an honest, literal question. She truly wants to know why Ron has a problem with her writing to Viktor. She wants him to admit, at least to himself, why this bothers him. However, Ron misses the point yet again, which is why Hermione looks “exasperated” with him, and so it’s time to change the subject back to Harry teaching them Defense.

Here is another scene in which Hermione appears to be “making Ron jealous.”

“Who’re you writing the novel to anyway?” Ron asked Hermione, trying to read the bit of parchment now trailing on the floor. Hermione hitched it up out of sight. 



“How many other Viktors do we know?”
(OotP, pp. 460-461)

As I explained before, I do not think the fact of her writing to Viktor is significant to her romantic inclinations. Furthermore, her writing a letter to him while in the same room as Ron does not constitute an attempt at provoking jealousy. Simply put, Ron is jealous of Viktor on his own and doesn’t need Hermione’s help. Additionally, I have to wonder how it would be seen if we found out that Hermione was writing that novel to Viktor in the privacy of her room; would she be scrutinized for deliberately withholding information from Ron?

However, there is something about the above scene that suggests that Hermione is trying to accomplish something with Ron. His jealousy is beyond her control, so she is trying to bring it to a head and resolve it so that it will no longer be an issue and they can move forward with their relationship. Once again, she is waiting for Ron to acknowledge his jealousy of Krum for what it is. If she is trying to make him feel any more jealous than he already is, then it is a largely subconscious effort. This leaves several questions unanswered. Among them:

  1. Why did Hermione accept Viktor’s invitation to the Yule Ball?
  2. Why didn’t she ask Ron to be her date?
  3. Why didn’t she tell Ron she was going with Viktor?
  4. Why didn’t she tell Ron whether she had accepted Viktor’s invitation to visit him in Bulgaria?
  5. What’s up with all that blushing?

(1) A better question to start out with would be, why wouldn’t she accept his invitation? Viktor was the first one to ask her, so she didn’t already have a date, and it is often considered rude to turn down an invitation to a school dance when you don’t already have a date lined up. Viktor was a polite, appreciative young man who gave her no reason to worry that he would grate her nerves all evening. She had no reason to break with politeness or lie to him. She accepted Viktor’s invitation because he got there first.

(2) First of all, she was not yet aware of her feelings for Ron to a sufficient extent that she could say to herself that she wanted to go to the ball with him. It is widely accepted that Ron likes Hermione but, even as of OotP, isn’t yet aware of his feelings for her. She is in the same predicament during GoF, and should be shown the same understanding. Second, she was afraid he would not want to go with her.

“We should get a move on, you know…ask someone. He’s right. We don’t want to end up with a pair of trolls.” 

Hermione let out a sputter of indignation.

“A pair of…what, excuse me?” 

“Well–you know,” said Ron, shrugging. “I’d rather go alone than with–with Eloise Midgen, say.” 

“Her acne’s loads better lately–and she’s really nice!” 

“Her nose is off-center,” said Ron. 

“Oh, I see,” said Hermione, bristling. “So basically, you’re going to take the best-looking girl who’ll have you, even if she’s completely horrible?” 

“Er–yeah, that sounds about right,” said Ron. 

“I’m going to bed,” Hermione snapped, and she swept off toward the girls’ staircase without another word. (GoF, pp. 394-5)

Her defending the virtues of Eloise Midgen shows that Hermione is not yet conscious of her own feelings, while her ultimate response to Ron shows that she is taking his remarks personally. Regardless of how Emma Watson looks, Hermione is not known for her physical beauty. She’s a 15-year-old girl with bushy hair and big teeth. She runs away in tears when Snape tells her “I see no difference,” and Harry and Ron follow up by shouting obscenities at him, because he got her where she lived. Hermione is full of insecurity about her desirability to the other gender. She thinks she is included in the group that Ron describes as “trolls,” and that Ron’s preference of “the best-looking girl who’ll have [him]” leaves her out.

Also, Rowling does not have her girls ask out the boys, she has the boys ask the girls. Fred asks Angelina, Cedric asks Cho, Harry asks Cho and then Parvati, Neville asks Hermione and then Ginny. There are exactly three girls in the book who are shown to ask a boy to the dance, and they are unnamed, rejected, and never heard from again, and it is implied that they only choose Harry because he’s a Triwizard Champion who defeated a Horntail. While it may appear sexist, this bias is Rowling’s perogative and it is sociologically realistic. To ask a boy to the dance would take a type of courage that most girls Hermione’s age are not conditioned to have. To ask him when he has inadvertently communicated to her that she does not meet with his criteria would be foolish.

(3) What Hermione told Ron when he asked about her date was that he would make fun of her. Just what she means by “make fun of her” is unclear, but what it demonstrates is that she cares what Ron thinks of her. Furthermore, she does have a perfectly valid reason not to tell Ron who has asked her to the ball. When she first tells him she is already going with someone, he doesn’t believe her.

“I can’t come with you,” said Hermione, now blushing, “because I’m already going with someone.” 

“No, you’re not!” said Ron. “You just said that to get rid of Neville!” 

“Oh did I?” said Hermione, and her eyes flashed dangerously. “Just because it’s taken you three years to notice, Ron, doesn’t mean no one else has spotted I’m a girl!” 

Ron started at her. Then he grinned again. 

“Okay, okay, we know you’re a girl,” he said. “That do? Will you come now?” 

“I’ve already told you!” Hermione said very angrily. “I’m going with someone else!” 

And she stormed off toward the girls’ dormitories again. 

“She’s lying,” said Ron flatly, watching her go. (GoF, pg. 400)

There’s the problem. He doesn’t believe Hermione has a date at all. If Ron thinks that Hermione lied just to circumvent Neville, why should she expect him to believe she’s going with Viktor Krum, one of Ron’s favorite Quidditch players? She cannot tell whether Ron is genuinely curious or trying to catch her in a lie. She knows that when he sees her with Viktor at the Yule Ball, he will not be able to accuse her of lying, but if she tells him before that, she will be opening herself up to more skepticism. Hermione is an extremely honest person; she is capably of lying, but she chooses her lies very carefully, and she shoots straight with her best friends, and Ron’s accusation of her lying to Neville is just as hurtful as his assumption that she couldn’t possibly have been asked to the ball by someone else. She does not withhold the truth from Ron, she simply waits until he can no longer deny it.

(4) When the issue of Viktor asking her to visit him over the summer was first brought up, Hermione did try to tell Ron her answer. In GoF, on pg. 514, she is just in the middle of giving him an answer when Snape interrupts. Therefore, she is unable to tell Ron that she was too busy seeing whether he and Harry were okay to: do what? Give Viktor an answer? Pay attention to him at all? Hear all of what he was saying to her? We’re not quite sure what she was unable to do with Viktor while all her concern was focused on Harry and Ron, because Snape cuts her off and the topic becomes a non-issue until the end of the book.

On pg. 725, if Ron doesn’t yet know whether Hermione has agreed to visit Viktor that summer, that could very well be the question on his mind while he’s craning his neck over the crowd in search of Krum and Hermione. That could be what Ron is trying to find out when he stares at Hermione and she looks impassive. She does not tell him anything right there, right then, in front of Harry and Krum. The scene is focused on Harry saying goodbye to the other Triwizard champions. The dynamics of Ron and Hermione are an entertaining sideshow, not the main plot. However, now that we have OotP, we know that Ron got his answer soon enough, when Hermione came to Grimmauld Place to spend the summer with him. She passed up a leisurely visit to a foreign country with her Yule Ball date to clean out cupboards in a dusty old house with the Weasleys. Or perhaps she went to the Burrow first and they all progressed to Grimmauld Place later on; the point is, we did not see the exact moment at which Hermione told Ron she was not going to Bulgaria that summer, but she did let him know somewhere along the way.

(5) Blushing is not a deliberate or conscious action, it is an involuntary physiological response to embarrassment, anger, or other emotional discomfort. When Hermione tells Ron something about Viktor approaching her, on pg. 400, pg. 422, and pp. 513-514 of GoF, she blushes, so there is some form of emotional discomfort that results from her telling Ron about Viktor asking her to the ball, inviting her to visit him in Bulgaria, saying he’s never met anyone like her. Blushing is associated with romantic attachment or attraction. Hermione’s blushing could be taken as evidence of her being attracted to Viktor, but seeing the way she energetically ignores him in favor of focusing on the two goofballs she calls her best friends, even when Viktor pulls her away from them, after he’s just rescued her in the Second Task, this is unlikely and so another explanation must be sought.

When Hermione catches Harry’s eye while trying to teach Viktor how to pronounce her name (pg. 419), she does not blush at all, she merely grins. In fact, Harry notes several instances of contact with Krum (which is only appropriate, as they’ve come to the ball together), with no blushing at all. However, she avoids Ron’s eyes, Harry’s attention is unimportant, when she blushes on pg. 513. Therefore, I think it more likely that it is Ron, not Viktor, who provokes the blushing reaction in Hermione.

I have a further theory about why Ron’s scrutiny on her social life causes her to blush. This physiological response is an expression of the incongruity between the proceedings and her feelings. It is her face’s way of saying, “What’s wrong with this picture?” She would like to be telling someone else about Ron asking her to the ball, not the other way around. It should be Ron asking her to spend the summer with him, telling her he’s never felt this way about anyone else, and pulling her away from the group to talk to her in private. It’s the confusing, frightening jumble of emotions arising from the backwardness of the situation that makes her face turn red.

Fortunately, the situation is steadily resolving itself. Hermione spent the bulk of the summer with Ron. There has not been an opportunity for him to ask her to a ball since their fourth year, but with Hermione’s admonition to ask her next time, he has his instructions. Ron has not directly told Hermione that he has never felt the same way about any other girl, but with his gift of perfume, no matter how “unusual,” perhaps he is working his way up to it. He doesn’t need to pull her away from the crowd, because they already get to talk to each other alone.

In the end, I simply think these young people are responsible for their own emotions. They do not get to transfer responsibility for their feelings onto each other. No one made Hermione feel ugly and undesirable except Hermione. No one made Viktor become enamored of her except Viktor. No one made Ron jealous except Ron.

Not that I can see anyone blaming any other character for Hermione’s insecurities. She certainly doesn’t put the blame on anyone else’s shoulders, so then my question is: why should we do that for Viktor and Ron? Since Hermione is in control of her own emotional expressions (usually, more or less), she is treated like she is in control of Viktor and Ron’s emotional processes and is manipulating them to suit her own ends, but this is not necessary.

Hermione’s actions, intentions and motivations are not so complicated; it is the conflict between different characters’ feelings, and it is also Rita Skeeter’s journalism, that make the situation appear complicated. If we pay attention to Hermione’s actions and take her on her own terms, if we choose the honest interpretation rather than the diversionary one, then we see that Hermione is no Scarlet Woman. She’s a slightly uncertain, but ultimately sincere girl surrounded by several boys, each with his own different, but valued place in her life.