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Hermione Granger at the Beginning by anozira

Format: Novella
Chapters: 5
Word Count: 8,415
Status: WIP

Rating: 12+
Warnings: Mild Language, Contains Spoilers

Genres: General
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione
Pairings:

First Published: 08/23/2011
Last Chapter: 09/19/2011
Last Updated: 09/19/2011

Summary:

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Hermione Granger is an exceptionally talented Muggle-born girl about meet her two best friends and embark on the greatest adventure of her entire life.

A direct retelling of HP1 from Hermione's perspective.


Chapter 1: The Girl Who Amazed
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Disclaimer: Please note that I am not claiming any of the characters, plots, or ideas as my own. They are the property of J.K. Rowling and I am only borrowing them as a way to understand her stories from a different perspective.



Mr and Mrs Granger, of number thirty-six, Whippingham Road, were proud to say that their daughter was not normal, in fact she was very extraordinary. They were the last people you might expect to have a particularly spectacular child, however, being a pair of dentists.

Mr Granger was part owner of an oral care office called Brighton White, which cleaned teeth and fitted braces. He was not a particularly handsome man and considered himself rather plain. Mrs Granger was petite and brunette, but had a rather hard time taming her curly hair. Mr Granger had met Mrs Granger while they were at university studying teeth together – a strange thing how creating a perfect smile can bring two people together.

Mrs Granger enjoyed telling the story of how she met her husband, sitting in the library pouring over a book of incisors, canines, and molars. She regularly remarked on how straight his teeth were for a bloke from Kent, then they would both laugh as if it was the funniest joke either of them had ever heard. Despite being two dentists, a profession that seems boring or awkward at the best of times, Mr and Mrs Granger were perfect for each other.

The Grangers would be the first to say that they had everything they wanted: a perfect white house, a happy little baby girl, and a line of patients out the door waiting for a teeth cleaning. There was little for them to complain about on their quiet Brighton street. The first time they became aware that life was not quite so ordinary was when the spoons started disappearing.

Mrs Granger was in the kitchen one bright and sunny morning making oatmeal. A medium sized saucepan was sitting on the stove and her baby girl was on the floor banging away on a bowl with a plastic spoon.  Mrs Granger smiled at her baby and marveled at how she was growing – each day she seemed to be completely changed. Turning back to the stove, Mrs Granger reached for a wooden spoon to stir the oatmeal. The spoon, however, was not where she had left it beside the stove. She bent low to the floor to check if it had fallen, perhaps. It was not on the floor. Checking behind the can of oats, under the morning’s mail, and in the sink yield similar results. Hands on her hips in pure bewilderment, Mrs Granger turned to look at her daughter and asked off hand if she might know where to find that the wooden spoon from the oatmeal pot. To her astonishment, the little baby was now holding two spoons (one plastic the other wood and covered in oatmeal) and banging on the bowl quite rhythmically.

“Hermione Jean Granger,” Mrs Granger exclaimed as a hand jumped to cover her mouth. The baby simply giggled in reply and continued to make her childish music. It was from that morning that Mrs Granger was sure behind the toothy grin her daughter was an amazing little girl.





F/N: So what do you think? I’m trying to make it match up to the original without sticking Hermione’s name in place of Harry’s. It will definitely improve as the chapters get going but I wanted to do this intro chapter to see how it would be received.



 


Chapter 2: The Vanishing Book
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As her mother had predicted there in the kitchen, Hermione Granger was a very special girl. When she was sad or angry, objects could spin or levitate or in the worst case the vase of flowers on the kitchen table would explode. That had happened when she was 10 years old and her mother had instructed her to put her book away while at the dinner table.

“Sweetie, please put your book down and eat,” Mrs Granger asked calmly from across the kitchen table.

“Mum, but I’m reading,” Hermione pouted.

A frown crossed her mother’s face. “Dear I understand that but it is quite rude to read at the supper table.”

After a round of “yes” and “nos” and Mr Granger attempting to calm his two arguing girls, the blue china vase broke with a resounding pop! and water and flower steams streamed over the table.  The plates of beef, potatoes, and green beans were instantly in their own shallow swimming pool.

Hermione was not just upset that her mother requested that she stop reading, however. It was what she was reading that she didn’t want to pry her eyes away from. The book she had been attached to for the last few days was A History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics, and Pagans by Jeffrey Burton Russell. She was convinced that she wasn’t like everyone else. None of the other children at school could make things move or change colors when they were emotional. Her parents, however, never seemed to act as though her bouts were extraordinary. Though, they did not encourage her to tell others that she had changed a rabbit in the front yard from brown to chartreuse at the age of five.

“Hermione, dear, will you please clean up the table,” her mother commented as she began to pick up the swimming plates.

Hermione did always feel awful after an event this disastrous, but she really couldn’t help herself. She was hoping that the book would give her some information on why she was so unusual.  After all, her parents could do any of the things she did – they just cleaned teeth. She wondered if there was some long lost relative in her family who had been a magician. “I’m sorry, Mum, Dad,” she mumbled as she swept water off the table into a cooking pot. And she was sorry.

***

The window seat in Hermione’s room was the best place for reading. Warm, summer light flooded in and she could sit on the seat and read for hours… which she did often. Hermione glanced out the window and saw a blue car whizz down the road, a woman with a flowery umbrella, and a young boy walking a dog. “How normal all of those people are,” Hermione sighed, “and how odd and abnormal I am.”

A History of Witchcraft was opened in her lap and Hermione thumbed back to the section she had been reading about the ancient wizard Merlin. The author described him simply as a legend, Hermione had gathered, but something in her gut suggested that there was much more to be discovered about a man who was rumored to change his appearance, see the future, and make objects disappear. Making a note to herself on a small pad she wrote go to library for Merlin. Hermione was very determined to figure this whole mess out.

Turning the page, there was a large illustration of The Beguiling of Merlin showing a scene from Arthurian legend, the infatuation of Merlin with the Lady of the Lake, Nimue. Merlin was trapped, helpless in a hawthorn bush as Nimue reads from a book of spells. Hermione rather liked the idea of a girl who was magical – strong enough to confuse a great wizard such as Merlin. She smiled at the picture and touched the faces of Merlin and Nimue. Taking a closer look at the image she added to her paper look for book of spells.

As Hermione turned back to her book, there were a few soft taps on her door. “Come in,” she called. The door opened slowly and the face of her mother materialized behind it.

“Can I come in?”

Closing her book and shoving it under the seat cushion, Hermione nodded her mother inside. “Of course, Mum.”

“Honey, I know you get upset when your father or I ask you to do something, but you must really be more careful about how you let out your feelings. Making things break is not a healthy way to deal with your problems… you know what happened when you got angry with Mrs Fitzherbert across the street, her parrot grew to the size of her cat!” Mrs Granger exasperated.

Hermione smiled at the image. Mrs Fitzherbert had taken her little green parrot out onto the front stoop with her one morning while Hermione was also outside water her mother’s azaleas. She had waved across the street at the woman who was sitting in an aluminum lawn chair with rollers in her hair and a yellow bathrobe. At the time Hermione considered it rather ridiculous that a fully grown woman would be outside in her water closet clothes. In fact she still thought it was silly but maybe when you’re sixty years old you have the right to go about like that.

Now, the parrot had come into play just as she had turned back to watering the flowers. Hermione simultaneously heard a flutter of wings and felt nails scratch her scalp as Mrs Fitzherbert shouted, “Petunia! Petunia you wretched bird get back here!” Subsequently, Hermione desperately tried to catch at the bird but it became more and more tangled in her hair. Mrs Fitzherbert shuffled across the street in bright pink slippers to try to untangle her parrot. By this time Mr and Mrs Granger had heard the commotion and had also come out to help.

Imagining the scene from the point of view of a bystander, they must have looked quite awful. Her parents finally got the parrot disentangled from her hair and returned to Mrs Fitzherbert. As Mrs Fitzherbert made her way back across the street, she seemed to have her own set of problems holding on to Petunia. Hermione watched at the yellow robe and rollers suddenly began to wrestle with the parrot and a few green feathers flew out from beneath her arms. Mrs Granger called to Mrs Fitzherbert to ask if she needed help but before she could finish her sentence Petunia escaped her arms but was not the normal parrot size, Petunia was not the size of a large tabby cat! The giant green beast shot straight into the sky and was headed for the country side. Hermione looked at her parents and rushed back inside.

“I know it’s not right, Mum, but I do have a hard time controlling it. But, I promise I’ll work on it,” Hermione said, smiling.

Mrs Granger put her hand to her daughter’s face and stroked her cheek. “That’s all I want,” Mrs Granger smiled back, “And dear we really should talk about braces soon.” She left then, closing the door behind her.

Hermione sighed as the door closed and pulled out her book again.

***

The next morning was Saturday. Hermione rolled out of bed and immediately had a plan. She was going to go to the library and do as much research as she could on Merlin, magic, and spells. Pulling on a t-shirt, jeans, and trainers, Hermione rushed downstairs where her parents were at the breakfast table. Mrs Granger was eating a bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar while Mr Granger was munching on a slice of toast with jam.

“Morning, sweetheart,” Mr Granger said as he caught sight of his daughter over the local paper.

“Hello, Dad!” Hermione sat down at the table where her mother had laid out a spoon, bowl, and box of cereal.

Mr Granger folded his paper and set it on the table. “What are your plans for today?”

“Well…” Hermione said as she poured cereal into her bowl, “I was wondering if you or Mum could take me down to the Woodingdean Library?”

Taking another bite of his toast, Mr Granger considered, “Well, I was going to head over to the autoservice shop in Woodingdean and the library is on my way.”

“Thank you, Dad!” Hermione jumped up from her chair, nearly upsetting her cereal bowl, to hug her father.

Mr Granger chuckled. “Of course, just make sure that you don’t get lost in there!” he tapped his daughter on the nose and returned to his paper.

Hermione was excited. And because of this excitement it seemed that her cereal bowl had a never-ending bottom. She ate slowly, trying to wait out how long it would take her father to finish his toast and the paper. It was almost painful watching him from the corner of her eye and counting off the minutes on the nearby kitchen clock. Still, Hermione was convinced that today she would be able to find some answers.

At quarter to ten, her father finished his breakfast and Hermione flew past him out the front door. “She really does like the library, doesn’t she, dear?” Mr Granger asked his wife as he shook his head and followed his eager daughter out the door.

The drive to the Woodingdean Library was short, as it was just down the road, but Hermione seemed to be as impatient as if she had been on a journey to Ireland and back. Hermione tapped her fingers on the door and giggled her foot all the way to the library. Mr Granger glanced over at his daughter and smiled, “Are you meeting a cute boy here or something?”

“Oh, Dad!” Hermione scoffed and turned bright red as she crossed her arms. “I’m just looking for some new books.”

Mr Granger chuckled, “If you say so!” He pulled the car into the library parking lot and let his daughter out. Before she could close the door he said, “Now, I will be back at half past twelve so we can catch lunch.”

“I’ll be ready,” Hermione smiled, slammed the car door to which she apologized as she ran inside the library.

The Woodingdean Library was impressive for its small size. When one entered through its doors, what appeared to be a small house was a cavernous maze of maps, tomes, dictionaries, atlases, and tall tales. Hermione passed under the whitewashed archway and approached the librarian at the circulation desk. The librarian was a tiny woman (Hermione had seen her shuffling around the library once before) with curly white hair and spectacles that reminded Hermione of half-moons.

“Excuse me, Mrs Betwixt?” Hermione asked.

The librarian pushed her spectacles up onto her nose, as she had been peering into a book on her desk. “Yes, darling, what can I do for you?”

Hermione placed the book she had been so carefully pouring over last night onto the desk and showed Mrs Betwixt the picture of the Beguilement of Merlin. “What do you know about Merlin?” As Hermione glanced up after she had asked her question, she would have sworn she saw a mischevious light flash over the librarian’s eyes.

“Merlin? Well, I know lots of things about Merlin,” Mrs Betwixt said and pulled a piece of paper from a pile. She scribbled three lines of text on the paper before handing it back to Hermione. “Now, child, go to the non-fiction section and look for these books – they should be quite helpful,” Mrs Betwixt smiled at Hermione and shooed her away from the desk calling after her that she would be around to check on her in an hour or so.

“How strange,” Hermione thought, “that she would know exactly which books I needed without checking the shelves.” Walking down rows and rows of books, Hermione passed under the doorway to the non-fiction section. “I suppose when you have been a librarian for so long you get to know the books,” she decided. Finding the first two books Mrs Betwixt has written down was quite easy, as they were situated nearby one another on the selves. The first one was The Quest for Merlin and the second titled Wizardology: The Book of the Secrets of Merlin. The third book was much more difficult to find, in fact, Hermione searched for an hour and could not find it. The call number that Mrs Betwixt had written down didn’t seem to exist. Every time Hermione went down the shelves to the place the book should be in it simply wasn’t there – surely Mrs Betwixt wouldn’t have suggested it to her if she knew it had been checked out.

On her last pass through the section before stoutly giving up, Mrs Betwixt appeared. “Dear, you look a bit frustrated! Having trouble finding what you’re looking for?”

With her furrowed brow, Hermione explained, “I’ve been looking for this book,” she pointed to the last call number on the list, “for almost an hour and still haven’t found it!”

A soft smile curled Mrs Betwixt’s lips around her cheeks. “Oh honey I’m sorry I forgot I kept this one in my private collection… come with me!” she insisted and hobbled off to her circulation desk.

When they arrive, Mrs Betwixt pushed aside the resident library cat and bent down to a hidden cabinet with a lattice front and a small brass lock. She lifted a small key, which hung around her next, and inserted it into the lock in the cabinet. Hermione watched with interest – she didn’t know librarians kept PRIVATE collections. Mrs. Betwixt slid the cabinet open and touched the spines of a few thick books before stopping at a small, thin book covered in orange leather. “Here it is!” she squawked and stood up (which appeared to be a painful task as she winced and placed a hand on her back).

As she handed the book to Hermione, Mrs. Betwixt said, “Now girl, this book is very important to me, so you must be careful with it. Do not show it to your parents.” The old librarian winked at Hermione as she let go of the book and sat down in her chair.

“Yes, ma’am.” Hermione took the book and held it tight to her chest. She turned away and walked down the hall toward a private reading room. Closing the door behind her, Hermione set the three books on the table.  She was most interested in the small orange book which seemed so mysterious. Hermione sat in the soft chair behind the only table in the room and picked the special book up. Burnt into the orange leather was the title Salem St. Seminary for Witches: Beginner Spells (Teaching fine witches since 1692). “This is precisely what I have been looking for!” Hermione exclaimed. Checking her watch, Hermione found that she still had an hour to look through the book before her father would arrive.

With careful fingers, Hermione opened the book. She feared it would be extremely delicate, but it was surprisingly stable. The first page was similar to the cover with the addition of the publisher’s name Salem Institute Press. Hermione turned the page to find the table of contents which read:

1.       Spells for the home

2.       Spells for the job

3.       Spells for your friends

4.       Spells for your enemies

5.       Conclusion

Hermione continued through the book turning to the first chapter with wonder at what kinds of spells she might find and if it was going to help her figure out why she could do such abnormal things. The first spell in the book was a cleaning spell. It showed the reader how to make a broom sweep on its own! Hermione was shocked at first. Was this real? Could someone bewitch a household object to move about? She continued reading and found a spelling to encourage a spoon to mix on its own; a spell to wash the windows, and a spell to hang to wash on the clothesline. “Perhaps this is true,” Hermione whispered to no one in particular. She was confused, though, that many of the spells were accompanied by a sketch of a person waving a piece of wood that was labeled as a “wand.”

Flipping through to the last page, Hermione found a note to the reader:

                Dear Reader,

                The publishers of this book hope that you have found your beginning education in spells exceedingly helpful and hope that you will continue on to their Advanced Spells book. If any accidents occurred while reading this book or preforming any of the spells hereto it is not the fault of the publishers. They thank you kindly for purchasing their materials and wish you and yours a good day.

When Hermione finished the last word, she sighed almost more confused than ever and closed the book. As the pages of the book met a crack! sounded and sparks flew up followed by a puff of purple smoke. In the place the book had been moments before suddenly was nothing.  


Chapter 3: Letter from Hogwarts
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The disappearance of the spell book gave Hermione quite a start. By the time she had realized what had happened, she jumped from her chair and headed straight for the librarian’s desk. All the while she was exceedingly concerned about what would happen to her - Mrs Betwixt has said not to let the book out of her sight and not to let anyone see it. Now she didn’t even know where it was! When she arrived in front of Mrs Betwixt she was red in the face and on the verge of tears; she had lost a library book and didn’t quite know what she was going to say.

“Is everything alright dear?” Mrs Betwixt asked her as Hermione opened her mouth to speak.
“Oh no, Mrs Betwixt isn’t alright. That special book you lent me... well, it’s disappeared in a cloud of purple smoke!” Hermione covered her face in shame.

“There, there now,” Mrs Betwixt patted Hermione on the head. “The book is right here, dear,” she said and as Hermione uncovered her eyes, she watched Mrs Betwixt take the little key out, open the cabinet and push away the door. Indeed, the little spell book was safely tucked in its original spot. “No need to fret dear, everything is fine.”

Hermione was shocked. How could it be? It was hard enough for her to believe that an object could just simply disappear but to reappear in a locked cabinet - now that seemed impossible. Slowly, Hermione placed the books back on the desk and thanked the librarian. “It’s my pleasure dear, now your father is out front. Hurry along so you can get home in time,” Mrs Betwixt said.

“Yes, ma’am,” Hermione said, curiously, and headed for the exit of the library. As she meet the light outside the door, her father pulled up in the parking lot.

“Perfect timing, sweetheart!” Mr Granger said as Hermione opened the car door and hopped in. Hermione smiled. Something was going on, Hermione decided, and she needed to get home as soon as possible to find out why she need to be home in “time.”

***

Jumping out of the car when Mr Granger pulled up in front of the house, Hermione raced inside. Bouncing through the kitchen door she asked Mrs Granger if someone had come to see her. Her mother replied no, there was nothing in the way of visitors or mail which had arrived. In great confusion, Hermione slumped off to her room.

As she sat at the window and looked out into the street, Hermione wondered if the woman at the library was perhaps a crazy bat. It could be possible that Hermione had fallen asleep while at the library and Mrs Betwixt could have come by and gotten the book then put in back in the cabinet - nothing unusual would have happened at all if that were the case. The purple smoke had been all a dream.
In a moment of frustration, Hermione kicked off her trainers. Immediately Hermione regretted her moment of anger and dove under the bed. While rooting around under the bed, Hermione heard a mysterious tapping on the window as if someone was throwing rocks at the window pane.

Slowly backing out from her dusty position under the bed she peaked over the window cushion. On the other side of the window, beating its wings and tapping impatiently at the glass was a large barn owl. “Oh!” Hermione said, in near shock and rushed to throw open the window.

The owl swooped in and circled the room, dropping a medium sized envelope on the bed and landed on the footboard with a squawk. Cautiously, Hermione approached the envelope (she didn’t think it was going to explode or anything but for Heaven’s sake an owl just dropped mail on her bed!). The envelope appeared to be thick and heavy made of yellowish parchment instead of normal writing paper. Upon further inspection Hermione saw that her name was written on the envelope in emerald-green ink:

      Ms H. Granger
      36 Whippingham Road
      Brighton   
      United Kingdom

Hermione was surprised, though, that there was no stamp on the envelope. In a mix of excitement and nervousness, she turned the envelope over and found a purple wax seal bearing a coat of arms. Hermione passed her fingers gently over the seal and marveled at the intricacy of the coat of arms which bore a lion, an eagle, a badger, and a snake adjacent to a letter ‘H’. Realizing she had been holding her breath this entire time, Hermione sat on the edge of the bed and broke the purple seal to open the envelope. Gingerly she pulled out two pieces of folded paper and opened the first:

                               HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY

                                              Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore

                  (Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwamp,                                                        International Confed. of Wizards)

 Dear Ms Granger,

                We are pleased to inform you that you have a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
                Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.

Yours Sincerely,


Minerva McGonagall
Deputy Headmistress

Questions began to burst from Hermione’s mind like a spring downpour. What in the world was Hogwarts and this headmaster is in the order of Merlin… Merlin! And they expected her reply by owl. How in the world did that work? “Well,” Hermione said aloud to the owl who was still starring at her intently. “If you’re still here I might as well take advantage of it – I do suppose you know where you’re going?” Hermione grabbed a piece of paper from her desk and a pen. Quickly she scrawled back:

Dear Headmistress McGonagall,

I am very excited to receive this information and attend Hogwarts.

Sincerely,

Hermione Granger

She rolled the piece of paper up and slipped it into the leather tube attached to the owl’s leg. “Please be sure that Headmistress McGonagall receives this, thank you,” she said and stepped back from the owl who clicked in reply. With a resounding woosh, the owl was out the open window again and flying over the rows of houses. Hermione starred after it in wonder and was curious as to how quickly a reply would arrive. Shrugging, Hermione gathered up the letter and supply list and bounded downstairs to show her mum and dad.

Her parents were seated quietly in the living room. Her mum was reading a novel and her dad was eating and sandwich while finishing a crossword puzzle. “Uh,” Hermione started to gather her parent’s attention.

“Yes, honey, what is it?” Mrs Granger asked as she dog-eared her place in the book. Mr Granger also looked up from the crossword clue he had been working on (19 down five letters: “the art of appearing to perform supernatural feats”).

“I received a letter today,” Hermione said and handed the letter to her mum. Mr Granger stood up and came to stand beside Mrs Granger, reading the letter over her shoulder. “Apparently I’m quite special and they want me to go to this school called Hogwarts,” Hermione starred at her shoes sure her parent’s would think that the letter was a fake someone trying to play a joke. In fact, she wasn’t even completely convinced.

Mrs Granger stood up and a wide smile crossed her face. “Sweetheart! This is wonderful news. Your father and I always knew you were extraordinary – we just didn’t know how to help you with your talents,” Mrs Granger hugged her daughter and Mr Granger embraced Hermione as well.

“Sweetheart, if you want to go to this school we will support you one-hundred percent. Whatever we can do for you we will do it,” Mr Granger said.

Hermione was filled with joy to know that her parents seemed to be completely accepting of the idea of her going off to a school for witches and wizards. And, she supposed, of her being a witch!


Chapter 4: The Librarian
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That evening, her parents had a celebration party. Mrs Granger made a small cake that she decorated with sprinkles in honor of Hermione’s entrance to Hogwarts.

Hermione was excited for everything that was coming her way. It was the middle of July and Hermione didn’t quite know where she was going to get what she needed for school or how she was even going to get there. However, Hermione had a good feeling that if Mrs Betwixt had been able to find her a disappearing book of beginner spells she would certainly have some information on the magical school Hogwarts.

On Sunday, Hermione pulled her bike from the back garden and started the journey toward Woodingdean. She pedaled hard until she reached the library. Hermione hopped off the bike and chained it to a rack on the sidewalk. As she looked up at the face of the library, she was hesitant for a moment. What if she was wrong? What if Mrs Betwixt was just a crazy old lady with a trick book and she’d know nothing about Hogwarts. Hermione shook the pessimistic thoughts away and marched up the sidewalk.

 Inside, Hermione found Mrs Betwixt at her desk. “Mrs Betwixt, do you remember me from yesterday?”

The old woman looked up from the thick book she was searching through, “Why of course, dear! Did you make it home in time, yesterday?”

“Yes ma’am I did. In fact, there are a few questions I’d like to ask you,” Hermione said and placed the envelope with the purple seal on the desk.

“Ah, you want to know about Hogwarts do you?” the librarian said as she pulled a closed for lunch sign from a drawer and shuffled to the front door of the library. After hanging the sign on the door she flicked her wrist in front of the lock and Hermione could have sworn she saw the lock spin on its own. “Ms Granger, Hogwarts is the greatest magical school in the United Kingdom. It has produced some of the greatest witches and wizards of our age,” Mrs Betwixt sat down heavily in her chair. From her sleeve she drew a long stick of wood and with another flick a tea cup appeared on her desk. With a short swish steaming tea poured from its tip into the cup!

Hermione was amazed. She was quite excited when she had accidentally turned the Christmas ham blue one year, but this was astounding. “How did you do that?” Hermione asked and peered into the cup.

The librarian chuckled. “Dear these are only small things compared to what you can learn as a diligent student at Hogwarts!” Mrs Betwixt made another motion and a plate of crumpets appeared.

“So, how do I get there? And how do I get the things on the supply list? And what if I’m not a very good witch? What if I get lost?” Hermione began firing questions like a tommy gun.

“Girl slow down! You get your supplies at Diagon Alley, it’s the wizarding part of London,” Mrs Betwixt took a sip of her tea after blow away some steam. “Quite hidden from Muggles so it’s just us magical folk who know about it,” she winked at Hermione. “The Hogwarts Express will take you to school from King’s Crossing.”

Hermione considered this information. “But what if I’m not any good?” she absently tucked a frizzy strand of hair behind her ear.

“My dear you knew exactly where to come for the right information,” Mrs Betwixt offered her a scone, “and knowledge is a very powerful form of magic.”

***

On the bike ride back to her parent’s house, Hermione was happier than she had ever been. Mrs Betwixt had given her instructions on who to speak to about getting into Diagon Alley (a toothless old man named Tom at the Leaky Cauldon). She had also instructed Hermione about visiting the wizarding bank and buying a train ticket at King’s Cross Station.

Hermione could only dream of the things she would see when she got to London.  She giggled at the thought of people walking around in a secret part of town with black capes and pointed hats and stripped stockings like she had seen in children’s books at Halloween. Would wizards and witches look like the images from her story books or would like look just like she did? Certainly she didn’t have a green face like the witch in The Wizard of Oz but perhaps there were many more secrets she didn’t know.

When Hermione arrived home she gathered her parents together to discuss what Mrs Betwixt had told her. Her parents insisted that they take her to London and help her deal with this Mr Tom from the Leaky Cauldron character. Mrs Granger said, “I want to help you go school shopping; I have helped you every year since kindergarten and I won’t stop just because you’re a witch now!” Hermione was beaming after the support her parents continued to show her even when things seemed to be getting rather strange for the average person.

It was decided at dinner that the family would travel to London on the first day of August to collect the list of supplies that Hermione needed – giving her ample time to prepare for school. Hermione took a bite of her Shepherd’s pie and chewed thoughtfully. Before she knew it she would be embarking on a completely new life. No more gym classes or forced square dancing lessons; no more macaroni art projects or silly dioramas. The prospect of making a teacup appear from thin air was much more appealing. Drawing swirls through her gravy, Hermione imagined what it would be like to be around kids just like her. She wondered what stories they would have about their families and if many of them had witches or wizards for parents. Surely she wouldn’t be the only one with plain parents?

“Hmmmm…” she considered aloud.

“What is it dear?” Mrs Granger asked.

“Oh, nothing,” Hermione replied as visions of witches on broomsticks with black cats perched behind them flew through her mind.

***

The next two weeks passed by slowly. Hermione was determined, however, the find out as much as possible about the new world she was about to be a part of. On Monday Hermione rode her bike down to the Woodingdean Library again to see Mrs Betwixt. She had a list of questions to ask the Librarian and was determined to get some real answers. Afterall, she didn’t want to go to school completely unprepared.

When she arrived, Mrs Betwixt was already at her desk having tea. “Back again, I see?” she smiled and waved Hermione over to a chair near the desk. As soon as Hermione was seated comfortably Mrs Betwixt flicked her wand and the library was “closed for lunch” – it was ten thirty.

“I was hoping you had some more books or information you could give me about Hogwarts and Diagon Alley and all that?” Hermione appeared hopeful.

“Well dear, let’s start with some pictures,” Mrs Betwixt turned to her locked cabinet and removed what appeared to be a leather bound picture album. She blew away some of the dust from the cover and opened the book.

Hermione peered over the desk to get a good look at the pictures and jumped up in surprise – they were moving! “Mrs Betwixt the people in these pictures are waving at me… I’m not going mad am I?” Hermione felt her head and did begin to look a little flushed.

“Oh, no dear. That’s how it works in the wizarding world. Much more interesting than Muggle objects,” she chuckled as usual and turned the page.

“Wizarding world? And what’s a Muggle?”

Mrs Betwixt gently pulled a picture from the corner holders and said, “The wizarding world is all of the places that are witches and wizards only, like Hogwarts. And a Muggle is a non-magical person. Put don’t ever let any tell you anything is wrong with being Muggle-born.” She wagged her finger at Hermione to strengthen her point, “After all, you’re a Muggle-born witch.”

She showed Hermione the photo she had selected. It was of three girls in front of large wooden doors. “That’s me and my two best friends when I was a Hogwarts,” she said and smiled, lost in another decade. The three girls in the picture were wearing school uniforms, smiling and waving out at them. Mrs Betwixt turned the page and pointed to another picture. It was the same three girls having ice cream at a fancy table. “And here we are in Diagon Alley. You see dear, places in the wizarding world will be easy to get used to once you get used to them,” Mrs Betwixt replaced the first picture and closed the book.

“So, no one has a green face?” Hermione asked quietly.

Mrs Betwixt scoffed, “Why no dear it isn’t a movie. Though, if you’re not careful someone might drop a house on you. Not that it would really do any good.” She stood up from the desk to put the album away and selected another book from her secret store. “Now this book is Modern Magical History and will settle your mind before you get to school, surely!” Mrs Betwixt handed Hermione the large book (which was much heavier than it appeared). “All the facts you need to know, right there,” she tapped the cover of the book and smiled.

Hermione talked with Mrs Betwixt about the book for a few hours before handing it back to her and heading home. She did feel much more informed than she had that morning.

“I can do this,” Hermione thought, “I am a witch.”


Chapter 5: Diagon Alley
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Finally, the first day of August arrived and Hermione packed her savings in a beaded purse, tied on her trainers, and stood by the door. She was ready. Diagon Alley, here I come, she thought.

“Hermione, dear, won’t you please come have breakfast. We aren’t leaving for forty-five minutes!” Mrs Granger called from the kitchen where she was having her usual oatmeal.

Hermione sighed and trudged down the hall to the kitchen and flopped into a chair. Her father set a plate of eggs and bacon in front of her. As she tucked in to the breakfast (which was more of a shovel then a tuck) she began to wonder about some of the things she had seen in Modern Magical History. She was curious about people it mentioned, like the headmaster of Hogwarts, a interesting sounding game called Quidditch, and some awful sounding disease called dragon pox. Another curious thing had been about a boy who had lived through a killing curse. Hermione didn’t know much about curses but thought it might be rather extraordinary for someone to live through one – perhaps like surviving a gunshot wound.

Either way, Hermione just wanted to jump right in. Was there any faster way to get to London than the hour and a half drive she had to endure of her parents crooning to the Beatles and imported Beach Boys music? If she didn’t die on the way there Hermione was sure she could make it through Hogwarts.

As the kitchen clock called out eight thirty, Hermione jumped from her chair and headed for the door. “We’re right behind you, dear,” her father called. Hermione rushed down the front stairs, waved to Mrs Fitzherbert and threw herself in the backseat of the car.

Here I come,” she whispered.

***

After listening to too many “yeah yeah yeahs” over the radio, Hermione finally arrived in northwest London on Charring Cross Road. She had her face nearly plastered to the window to keep an eye out for the pub called The Leaky Cauldron. Her father drove down the road slowly, bearing the off hand honk from another frustrated driver or two. At last Hermione shouted, “There it is!” Indeed, a tiny and grubby-looking pub sat sandwhiched between a book shop and a record store. Mr Granger found a place to park and the family piled out onto the sidewalk.

Mrs Granger seemed skeptical for a moment. “Dear are you sure this is the place we are supposed to go? It looks just about ready to fall in on itself!” she drew a bottle of hand sanitizer out of her purse and squeezed some into her hands as if that might keep the building upright.

“Yes, Mum. Mrs Betwixt said to go on in and ask for Tom – that she would send an owl ahead of us and let him know I was coming,” Hermione took the lead and marched her parents up to the front door.

“An owl?” Mrs Granger asked Mr Granger in confusion. He shrugged in reply.

Hermione pulled open the pub door and strode inside. The pub was dark and shabby, but Hermione felt that it was welcoming enough. A few faces turned to look at her but no one seem too interested in a young girl and two Muggles. She stopped, took a deep breath, and made a beeline for the bar. An old maid was serving pints of golden liquid to a few men as Hermione piped up with an assertive, “Excuse me!”

The old bar maid, who had a large wart on her chin but a kind smile, said, “What can I help you with dearie?”

“My name is Hermione Granger and I’m looking for Tom,” she said confidently.

“TOM!” shouted the bar maid and she walked away to collect some abandoned tankards.

“Ah, whatchuwant, Penny?” a grizzly voice called back.

“Some girl wants to talk to you!” Penny shouted.

From the back of the pub, a thin older man made his way up to the bar where Hermione was standing. “Ah, yes, Daisy told me you’d be stopping’ in,” Tom smiled at Hermione and she noted that he had no teeth. “Come with me, the lot of ya,” he let them through to the small courtyard behind the pub where there was nothing but a spit of grass and a brick wall.

“Now, watch carefully so you can do this on your own next time,” Tom said and drew his wand. Hermione watched as he carefully tapped the bricks in the wall, three up and then two across. The moment he had lifted his wand from the last brick, the wall seemed to melt away as if someone had thrown a bucket of water on a painting. Tom stepped back to allow them to pass through the archway that lead into a busy street.

Hermione felt her face break into a wide grin. “So this is Diagon Alley?” she walked through the gate as her parents followed after her giving one another quizzical looks. When she looked back to that Tom, the wall was whole again.

Hermione pulled her school supply list and the note from Mrs Betwixt from her pocket. “So we should probably head to the bank first, that’s what was suggested,” Hermione explained to her parents. They set off in the direction of the largest building on the cobbled street - Gringotts Wizarding Bank. As they approached the door the enormous size of the building was apparent and its white marble façade dared anyone brave enough to rob it to come in and have a go.

“Hermione, dear, you and your mother should wait outside… I’ll take care of this,” Mr Granger said and strode inside the bank.

After Mr Granger had been inside for about ten minutes, Hermione could see her mother was getting fidgety. “Mum I’m sure he’s fine… Dad’s a dentist after all he can handle it,” she smiled reassuringly at her mother. Ten more minutes later Mr Granger did emerge from the bank with a rather satisfied look on his face.

“Well, that’s all taken care of then,” Mr Granger said, “this is the key to your vault at the bank and it should not have enough money in it to last you the year.” He handed Hermione a velvet bag, “And this is plenty of money to help you get all your supplies.” Hermione hugged her father. It was nice to have parents who supported you.

As they were leaving Gringotts, a very large man in a furry coat with a boy about her age with very unruly hair entered the bank. “I suppose I’ll have you get used to things like that,” Hermione mused to herself.

She pulled out her school shopping list as they began passing shops advertising everything from broomsticks to bedknobs.

Hermione poured over the list of uniform items, required odds and ends, and book titles. She was curious about the dragon hide gloves and the Monster Book of Monsters.

“Well where should be start, Hermione?” Mrs Granger asked.

Hermione looked around at the names of the shops nearby: Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream, Flourish and Blott’s, Quality Quidditch Supplies, and Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions. “I suppose we should start at the top with my uniform,” Hermione waved her parents in the direction of the robe shop.

When Hermione entered the shop it was full of people around her age. A squat, smiling woman woman buried under piles of black robes appeared beside Hermione and asked what she could do for her. “I need robes for school,” Hermione replied. Before she knew it, the tiny woman had her up on a platform and a tape measure was whizzing around her on its own accord while the witch in mauve pinned her up. I really DO need to get used to this, Hermione thought and laughed.

After about half an hour, Hermione and her parents left the shop with all of the uniform items they needed. The tiny witch who had helped them before, Madam Malkin herself, even embroidered Hermione’s name into her robes. Mr Granger held the door for his ladened wife and daughter. As Hermione was just stepping out of the shop a pale boy with a pointed face pushed past her, nearly knocking everything from her hands. “Excuse me!” Hermione scoffed.

“You’re excused,” the blonde boy said cooly without passing a glance over her.

Hermione made a mental note not to get mixed up with that boy.

As Hermione shopped through Diagon Alley, she picked up parchment, quills, and ink that self corrected spelling errors.  At the bookshop nearby Hermione had picked up all of the required books as well as a copy of Hogwarts a History. She tipped her books into the cauldron her mother and father had picked up while she was browsing the bookstore. Taking a peak at her list again, Hermione concluded that she had everything on her list except a wand. She figured that might be important.

Past Gringots, Hermione spotted the shop sign for Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC.  When she had gotten close, Hermione overheard the conversation of a plump red-headed woman and a freckled boy, “I know you wanted a new wand but dear we simply can’t afford it.” Hermione passed them and entered the shop where two people were already inside. One was a very round boy who seemed to be rather clumsy as he waved a wand frantically – making an inkwell explode on a desk. The other appeared to be his grandmother; she was continually squawking at him with a disappointed look on her face.

The man who appeared to be helping was fifteen feet off the ground on a ladder that stood the entire height of the walls which were stuffed with small boxes. “Why don’t we try this one Mr. Longbottom, 12 inches, beech, unicorn hair,” the man handed a wand to the round boy who waved it slowly – the only thing that was disturbed was a piece of parchment that did a backflip. The man on the ladder sighed, “I think we’ve finally found it.” The old woman paid and the pair left the shop, the boy still being scolded.

Hermione turned back to the front of the shop and jumped. The man was standing directly in front of her, his wide, pale eyes had shocked her at first. “Hello, I’m…”

“Looking for a wand my dear precisely why you’ve come to see me follow me this way – don’t step in that,” the old man said before flicking his wand to make the puddle of ink and glass disappear. “I’m Ollivander of course you see so I know you must be here for a – 8 and a half inches, rose wood, phoenix feather,” Ollivander handed Hermione a wand with a subtle pink shade to the wood and delicate carvings in the handle. She gave it a small wave like she had seen when she was at the library. It blew red sparks and a dozen boxes flew off the shelves. “Ah, not it then… try this,” Ollivander drew a box with a very yellowed label on it from the shelf and withdrew a longer wand, “10 and three quarters inches, vine wood, with a dragon heartstring core.” Taking it from Ollivander, Hermione rolled it between her fingers and could have sworn that it felt warm. With her right hand, she swished it gently and produced a stream of purple sparks which she used to write her name in the air.

Ollivander climbed down the ladder. “Very impressive Ms Granger. You will do great things with it I have no doubt,” he smiled gently at her. Hermione thanked him and left the stop with her parents.

“Sweetheart, is there anything else on the list?” Mr Granger asked.

Hermione reviewed it, checking each item off with a new quill. “It looks like I have all of the required items,” she said and folded up the parchment, stuffing it into her pocket.

“Ugh, finally,” Mr Granger growned and slumped against the side of a nearby shop.

***

As soon as Hermione arrive back home, she laid her books out on the ground and began her studying.


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