Chapter 1 : Hermione's in Trouble
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Hermione’s in Trouble!
“Hermione, could you come downstairs for a moment?”
No, Hermione would not come downstairs! Her fingernails dug into the edge of her desk and twisted her own legs around the legs of her chair. They would not be taking her alive!
For you see, Hermione could recognize that tone in her father’s voice all too well, rare as it might have been. It was the voice he used whenever Hermione was about to get into a huge amount of trouble. It wasn’t exactly yelling, but it was stern, almost already exhausted, and ready for a battle. And Hermione would not be going down to face it without a fight!
But she would be going. In a resigned sort of way, Hermione finally pushed herself away from the desk and made her way out into the hall, and finally began descending her way down the staircase of doom. Hearing the low voices conversing in the living room below, Hermione made sure to walk each step as slow as humanly possible, all the while wondering what it was she could have possibly done. Hermione always did her very best to do what she was told, whether it was with her parents or her teachers. She made her bed as soon as she woke up in the morning, she always paid attention in school, she always ate her vegetables (even when she couldn’t stand them), she never watched television or read any of her favorite books until her schoolwork was done, and she practiced the piano for exactly twenty minutes every single day.
Friends of Hermione’s parents would always go on about what a good girl Hermione was, how well behaved she was, and how they wished their children were just like her. And most of the time, her parents would agree with them. But every now and again, there would be some sort of incident that would warrant this sort of tone from her parents, and Hermione would forget all of these things people said before.
And the worst part was that often Hermione would have absolutely no idea what it was she had done to get into trouble in the first place.
Finally, after an amount of time that probably seemed a lot shorter to Hermione, the eleven-year-old girl reached the bottom of the steps and turned to face her parents and their company. The guests might have seemed an odd sight to most people—a man and a woman dressed in robes of stars, moons, and owls—but it was a picture that was becoming more and more familiar to the Granger family. It was less than a month ago that an emerald-clad woman named Professor McGonagall had delivered Hermione’s letter of acceptance to Hogwarts School of Witch and Wizardry. Hermione had been over the moon as soon as she had read it, but, of course, her parents weren’t completely convinced. That ended as soon as Professor McGonagall proved the truth in her words by turning the kitchen table into a St. Bernard. It was very difficult to argue with that kind of proof.
And ever since then, Hermione had been vigorously preparing herself to become a ‘Muggle-born witch’. Even though school was over for the year, Hermione was studying harder than ever. She had all these strange, brand new textbooks with subjects she had never heard of before: Charms, Transfiguration, History of Magic. And there were plenty of books Hermione and her parents had bought on their own, books to help Hermione learn all she could about the wizarding world as whole, and ven one for her parents entitles The Muggle Parents’ Guide to Supporting Their Magical Title.
Hermione wasn’t sure about her parents, but she herself was had been doing everything conceivably possible to prepare for September, even going as far as memorizing numerous passages in new textbooks—quite a few of them, actually. All of her supplies were neatly packed in her school trunk, not to be disturbed until the time came to take them to Kings Cross, along with her new school robes. Her mother told her she would buy her some more new ‘Muggle’ clothing to wear once August came.
Hermione was certain she was completely ready to become a member of the wizarding world, so she had no idea what these new strangers were doing here.
“Hermione,” her mother began, “this is Mr. Hackett and Mrs. Jans. They are officials with the Ministry of Magic.”
The little girl inhaled deeply at the words her mother said: the Ministry of Magic. Hermione still wasn’t completely sure what it was exactly, but it certainly sounded important.
“Oh, hello, Mr. Hackett and Mrs. Jans,” Hermione said to them, just as polite as ever.
“Mr. Hackett and Mrs. Jans are here because they have something they need to talk to you about.” Hermione watched her mother anxiously twirl a strand of hair, and Hermione felt her stomach began to bubble.
“Hermione Granger, it is in our information that at exactly four thirty-seven this afternoon, a Reparo Charm was cast at this residence. And since you are the only witch registered at this address, it is safe to assume that it is you who cast this spell.”
Shifting uncomfortably in her stocking feet, Hermione exactly what they were talking about. Earlier that afternoon, Hermione had been rummaging through the cabinets in the kitchen, and she came across an old pair of her father’s eye glasses among piles of other assorted junk. She remember they well as being one her father’s favorite pairs of glasses, but about two years ago, he had been working outside, and they slipped right off his years and the lenses cracked against the concrete. He always said he would get the broken glass fixed one day, but that day never came. Instead, the pair of glasses disappeared to the junk cabinet, where they had been laying, gathering dust.
Of course, that had all been before Hermione had learned she was a witch, and before she could do anything about it. And Hermione had just finished reading the section in her Charms textbook that covered spells for repairing things. So Hermione snatched the broken spectacles from the shelf, and with her textbook waiting for her on the bed and her vine wand tucked in the corner of her trunk, setting to work was simple enough. Even the cast of her very first spell was a lot simpler than she had expected. So many books and people had warned of young people using their magic and how their spells could go horribly wrong. But the spell was perfectly lacking in drama and any excitement, other than what Hermione felt afterwards upon see her father’s utterly perfect, as though they had just arrived from the eye doctor.
She had been planning on showing them off to her parents later this evening. Of course…that had been before these unexpected visitors had arrived.
“Miss Granger, use of magic of children under the age of seventeen is a violation of the Statute of Secrecy set forth by the British Ministry of Magic,” Mr. Hackett said in a very matter-of-fact sort of way. “There is very good reason that these rules are in place. As you can imagine, if enough Muggles were able to see instances of magic on a regular basis, there would be….”
The man’s words began to fade into an almost ‘wah wah’ babble on the Charlie Brown cartoons, but Hermione was quite certain she had heard all that she needed to hear. She had broken the law! She had broken the law! She had broken the law!
“Miss Granger, are you listening to me?”
But Hermione couldn’t answer. She couldn’t speak. She was even finding it hard to breathe. Her chest felt like it was closing in on her, and her blood had turned to ice water. She broke the law! She wasn’t even an official witch yet, and she had already broken the Statute of Secrecy. Hermione had no idea what that was either, but like the Ministry of Magic, it sounded like something very important and something you could get in a lot of trouble for if you broke it. Hermione couldn’t even think of anything she could possibly say to defend herself. Her brain was stalled, almost like an engine in an old car.
“Miss Granger,” the lady, Mrs. Jans, stepped forward, “are you feeling alright?”
Still, Hermione said nothing. She just couldn’t. She wasn’t even convinced there was any air in her lungs
When her daughter gave no reacter, Hermione’s mother rushed to her side. “Hermione, you’re turning white,” she gasp, just on the very verge of panic, “and you’re sweating! What’s wrong?”
Finally, Hermione found herself able to speak, and made one point very clear.
“PLEASE DON’T ARREST ME!”
The room erupted into chaos all around her, with all the adults reacting as though they had stumbled into a disaster area. Her parents rushed towards her, ready to take whatever action might be needed, while Mr. Hackett and Mrs. Jans kept at a safe distance, holding their arms up in front of them, for who knows what reason.
“I don’t want to go to wizard jail!” Hermione went on and on. “I didn’t even know there was a law against using magic! Nobody told me! Nobody told me! NOBODY TOLD ME!"
As Hermione was repeating this mantra, both her parents fell to her side, her mother feeling her forehead and her father trying to find a pulse. Hermione, in the meanwhile, had gone completely ridged, completely immovable.
“Jean, maybe we should take Hermione to the hospital!” her father finally said, though to Hermione, he sounded so far away. “I really think this is getting serious!”
By now, the two Ministry wizards were really starting to panic, as though all this could be turned around to make it look like Hermione’s current state was all their fault…although in the eyes of the Granger family, it was their fault.
“Listen, Miss Granger,” Mrs. Jans made an attempt to reach out to Hermione, “maybe Mr. Hackett made all this sound a bit more severe than he needed to. It’s a bit of a flaw of his.”
These words did nothing, however, and Hermione was still frozen in her almost petrified state not even blinking.
“You are not going to be expelled from school for only one instance of magic outside of school, and you certainly are going to be sent to prison,” Mrs. Jans said in a frightened, yet thoughtful, sort of way, her eyes drifting upward. “Actually, I don’t think there has ever even been an instance of a Muggle-born attempting to use magic before beginning attendance at Hogwarts, so I’m not even completely certain if the same procedures apply.”
But this did nothing to make Hermione feel better. Instead, the eleven-year-old huddled down towards the ground, curling up into a tight little ball, making an odd sound, something like a combination of crying and the squealing of an animal caught in a trap.
Mrs. Jans’ speak became much more frantic. “And if it really is true that you were not told about the Statute of Secrecy—which certainly is possible—you are a Muggle-born, and with all that rush of information, it certainly could have been overlooked. So if that truly is the case, I certainly think it would be possible to just let you off with a very unofficial warning.”
Mrs. Jans turned to here less panic, but still shaken, collogue. “Isn’t that right, Mr. Hackett?”
The man stiff-standing man nodded, unsure, but still willing to go along with anything Mrs. Jans said if it would the little Muggle-born girl would stop acting as though she were going insane. “It wouldn’t be on your record in any form, but this will be considered your official warning that using magic outside of Hogwarts is a punishable offence.”
At this, Hermione let out a high pitched squeal and started to rock, and Mrs. Jans shot Mr. Hackett, who couldn’t seem to understand how he could have made the situation any worse. “Miss Granger, don’t you understand? I said you aren’t in trouble! You aren’t even getting a real written warning!” By this time, Mr. Hackett was shouting. “I don’t know why this is not getting through to you! Do you understand that you are just about the luckiest little girl I have visited today? This month, even? Probably every child we happen to visit would kill to be given the break you are being given right now! I can’t even begin to—”
Mr. Hackett was interrupted by Hermione finally toppling over on her side, though she still attempted the rock somehow, her strange, high-pitched sounds becoming as steady as a metronome.
“Have you said everything you came here to say?” Hermione’s father stood up, facing the strangers in his home. “Then I think you both should leave.”
Mr. Hackett and Mrs. Jans needed no further invitation. It was fairly obvious that they had never faced a situation quite like this before, and they were all too happy to comply. They were practically racing to beat each other out the door. A slamming door was followed by a very loud popping sound which Hermione parents ignored as they went back to arguing about whether or not they should take Hermione into the emergency room.
As for Hermione, a new mental mantra had replaced her previous one. I’ll never get in trouble again…I’ll never get in trouble again….