Written for the Springtime Gen exchange (2009 edition) on LiveJournal.|
Summary: In the summer of 1991, Hermione Granger finds a role model.
Note: Many thanks to midnitemaraud_r for beta assistance!
Hermione: A Herstory
"It's not that we aren't appreciative that our daughter's been offered a place in your...Hogwarts, was it?" said Hermione's mother, looking just slightly less appreciative than she had when Gran had given her a Hoover for her last birthday. "However, I'm certain you understand that Martin and I have a great many questions that we'd like answered before we can even begin to make such a major decision. For a start, we're rather confused about how your school's board of governors might have heard about our daughter. We'd always planned to send Hermione to the local comprehensive and we never even considered putting her down for another school."
A flash of lightning brightened the Grangers' sitting room for a moment as the rain continued to pour down outside.
"Be that as it may," the visitor said briskly. "Surely you understand that Hogwarts is far more suited to your daughter's special talents."
Hermione's mother smiled. "I'm sure Hogwarts is a fine institution, Professor McGonagall, but Deffry Vale High School has an excellent reputation. All Hermione's friends will be starting there this autumn."
It was all Hermione could do to keep from rolling her eyes and saying 'What friends?' but she wasn't in the habit of acting disrespectfully towards her parents, no matter how wrong they might be on occasion.
"Have you and your husband had a chance to read the Hogwarts informational brochure yet, Dr. Granger?"
A brochure? The only correspondence that had arrived from Hogwarts was an RSVP card written on thick parchment and a stack of blank papers. Hermione frowned. She picked up the Hogwarts envelope from the coffee table where her father had placed it earlier and took the papers out, then glanced at Professor McGonagall, taking in her old-fashioned tartan walking suit and her rather pointed hat, both of which, Hermione noticed with some surprise, were perfectly dry.
"Miss Granger, if you'd be so good as to pass those papers to me, I'm sure we'll be able to clear up any confusion."
Hermione's father chuckled. "Are you able to make words appear out of nowhere, Professor McGonagall?"
"I think she might," Hermione murmured.
"What was that, sweetheart?"
"Sorry, Dad. I was just wondering...Professor McGonagall?"
"Yes, Miss Granger?"
"Are you a Witch?"
"Young lady!" said her mother. "Apologize to our guest at once! Professor McGonagall, I don't know what's got into her. I''m absolutely appalled, and I promise you that...."
"Thank you, but you needn't think anything of it," Professor McGonagall said, a bit impatiently. "Miss Granger, perhaps you would be so kind as to tell me why you asked such a thing?"
"Well," Hermione said slowly, feeling a bit ashamed of herself for having blurted out the question that way as if she were back in Miss Tyler's class in her first year of infants school. "To start with, it is raining quite heavily outside, but you're entirely dry, though you don't even have a brolly. You didn't arrive in a car, and the local minibus only comes by twice on weekdays, too early in the morning for you to have taken it."
Hermione's parents both gave her disapproving looks - the sort that said "if you mention the word broomstick, there won't be any pudding for you for a month." However, Professor McGonagall smiled encouragingly, so Hermione forged ahead.
"These papers from Hogwarts...they were all blank before you arrived this morning - I know they were - but now the first page has writing on it, and it's quite old fashioned writing, not proper printing press type. And then, well...there's the other part of it, which I expect you'd think is rather silly, but to me it's the most important part."
"Why don't you let me be the judge of whether it's silly or not," said Professor McGonagall.
Taking a deep breath, Hermione said, "I actually asked because...I sometimes think I might be a Witch, and you sort of feel the same, if that makes any sense." There was a long pause during which nobody spoke. "See, I said you'd think it was silly."
Hermione's father frowned. "All right, young lady, I think this is quite enough from you. I don't know what our guest must be thinking, but...."
"Pardon the interruption, Dr Granger, but what I'm thinking is that you have a very clever and a very courageous daughter," said Professor McGonagall. "I do apologize on behalf of Hogwarts that your family was sent an informational packet with a faulty invisibility spell, but I can sort that out in a moment."
Ignoring the befuddled looks on the faces of both of Hermione's parents, Professor McGonagall reached into her handbag and pulled out a long wooden stick. A wand! It had to be a wand! Hermione sat poised on the edge of her seat, almost bursting with excitement. Then Professor McGonagall said "Accio Papers," and the still mostly blank brochure flew out of Hermione's loose grasp and into the waiting hand of the professor.
"Specialis Revelio! There," she said, handing the brochure to Hermione's mother. Even from where she sat, Hermione could see that on the cover of the brochure there was now a photograph of a wonderful old castle. Could that be Hogwarts?
"Yes, Dr Granger?"
"Are the birds in this photograph actually flying?
"Of course," answered the professor, a bit impatiently. "This is a Wizarding photograph. And yes, your clever young daughter is a Witch."
"But how is that possible? There's no such things as Witches. Or at least, I'm not a Witch. Her father's not a Witch."
"Wizard," Professor McGonagall corrected. "But in answer to your question, many of our students come from Muggle...non-Wizarding families. Surely you've noticed how different your daughter is."
"Well of course she's always been brighter than most of her classmates."
"I'm sure she is, but that's not what I meant. I'm speaking of strange occurrences surrounding her for which you and your husband had no explanation."
"Oh, I know!" said Hermione, raising her hand as if she were in school. "Do you remember that time you and Dad went out for an anniversary dinner and you left me with the childminder, but when you got to the restaurant..."
"...you were there with us." Hermione's mother said, sharing a worried glance with Hermione's father. "All this time we'd been certain you'd just hidden in the back seat of the car."
Hermione shook her head. "I just wanted to be there, Mum, and so I was!"
"That's precisely the sort of thing I was talking about, which is why your daughter would benefit from the special curriculum that Hogwarts offers. Now perhaps you and your husband might want to take the Hogwarts brochure into the kitchen and read it through while you brew us all a nice pot of tea. How does that sound to you?"
"That sounds...fine," Hermione's mother said, rather weakly. "Come along Martin."
Her parents left the sitting room without saying another word, leaving Hermione wondering if Professor McGonagall might have cast some sort of spell on them. Were there spells that could make people give in that easily to your wishes?
"So, Miss Granger," said Professor McGonagall as soon as the two of them were left alone. "Let's sit down and discuss exactly what it means to be a young Muggleborn Witch these days."
Hermione sat on the sofa, wholly absorbed as the professor spoke about the history of the Four Houses at Hogwarts and the Sorting Hat, what classes were required for First Years, how wonderful Quidditch was....
"Are you at all sports minded, Miss Granger?"
"I'm afraid I'm not really, Professor," she said, thinking to herself that even if she had been inclined to try a sport at her new school, it wouldn't have been a game that apparently required one to fly at perilous speeds on a broomstick while people threw heavy objects at you.
"Ah well...can't be helped, I suppose." Hermione could hear the disappointment in Professor McGonagall's voice and felt inexplicably guilty for having caused it. "What sorts of activities do you enjoy, my dear? We no longer have a Dueling Club, more's the pity, but we do have a Gobstones team and a choir. And of course our students are welcome to form any club that catches their fancy as long as they have a staff advisor."
"Actually, my favorite activity is reading."
"How very nice," said Professor McGonagall, which Hermione couldn't help but hear as 'how very dull.' Surely there was something she could add that would make her sound less like a boring little swot.
"I like animals, as well. My parents had promised to buy me a cat this year or the next - they're my favorite animals - but I suppose that's out of the question if I attend Hogwarts."
"Oh no, my dear," the professor said, sounding enthusiastic once again. "Many of our children bring familiars to school, and cats are most definitely on the approved list. Shall I share a secret with you?"
Hermione nodded happily. "Yes, please! What is it, Professor McGonagall?"
Instead of replying, the stern-faced older woman transformed before Hermione's eyes into a perfectly lovely tabby cat.
"Oh, what a darling!" Hermione said gleefully. She extended her hand to pet the tabby before remembering that this was actually a professor and not a cat. However, Professor McGonagall in cat form seemed quite interested in receiving a scratch or two under the chin from her prospective student before transforming back into her original human form.
"I trust you're capable of keeping this ability of mine to yourself until such time as I choose to reveal it to your classmates, Miss Granger?"
"Of course I am."
"Excellent. Now, on to other matters. You're clearly quite a bright young lady, but being Muggleborn, I'm afraid you'll find yourself a bit behind your classmates in a number of areas." Hermione nodded, inwardly horrified at the possibility that she might not be at the top of the class at her new school. "Some of your classes will be quite familiar. Herbology is quite similar to your botany, I believe. And of course we teach history, although...."
"History! That's one of my favorite subjects."
"Is it? I brought a book with me that I thought you might be interested in reading. It was one of my favorites when I was a girl. It's called Hogwarts: a History."
Eagerly, Hermione took the book in her hands and began to look through its pages.
"This is brilliant, Professor! It's not just about Hogwarts though, is it? There seems to be information about everything in the whole Wizarding world! Except...why aren't there any page numbers listed here in the table of contents?"
"Because this is a Wizarding book, Miss Granger. All you need do to locate a particular subject is tap the book with your wand."
"Oh, but I don't have a wand."
"No, of course you don't - not yet - but as you are already eleven years old, you'll be expected to purchase a wand of your own whenever your parents take you shopping for your school items. Of course, there are restrictions on the underage use of magic, but in certain special cases, well...I'm certain we can make an exception in your case, as you seem eager to get started with your magical education."
Professor McGonagall drew her own wand from her handbag again and made such a complicated series of movements that Hermione didn't think she'd ever be able to replicate them. It was all very different from the brief single wand flick the professor had used when she'd cast the revealing spell on the brochure.
"There, that should do it. Just a small shielding spell, but it should allow you to get a bit of a head start on your wand work as long as you promise faithfully to keep all magic experimentation inside your home. After all, you wouldn't want to accidentally transfigure any of neighbors into Flobberworms."
Hermione glanced in the direction of the kitchen, then turned her attention back to the visitor. "Professor?"
"Yes, Miss Granger."
"Magic can be quite dangerous, can't it?"
"Yes, of course it can be if one isn't extremely careful," said Professor McGonagall, a very serious expression on her face. "It's very clever of you to realize this on your own, but...are you concerned about how your parents will react? After all, Muggles sometimes do find it difficult to understand our world."
"I can see how they might, Professor McGonagall," Hermione said quietly. "So...do you think it might be better if we didn't share everything about the Wizarding world with them, not just yet at least?"
"To keep them from worrying unduly, Miss Granger?"
Hermione nodded solemnly. "To keep them from worrying."
"I don't see why not," said Professor McGonagall. "Now, let's see how your parents are getting on with the tea."
Three Weeks Later
Only seven more days until the Granger family travelled to King's Cross station in London. Seven more days until Hermione started her new life as a proper Witch.
She'd been practicing the four spells Professor McGonagall had taught her on the afternoon that Hermione and her parents returned from their first trip to Diagon Alley. Reparo was the most useful so far, particularly as Hermione's mother and father tended to drop a lot of tea mugs whenever they saw their daughter performing magic.*
It wasn't until the day Hermione came across a mention of Oppugno in the "Spells of Our Famous Alumni" appendix of Hogwarts: A History that she decided to try and add a fifth spell to her arsenal. She wasn't particularly interested in Oppugno itself (which was a scary-looking spell that made conjured creatures attack people and which Hermione couldn't imagine ever using), but...there was something oddly smudged in the margins next to the spell, something that looked like words fading in and out of view. After fretting over it for an hour, Hermione thought back to the spell Professor McGonagall had used during her first visit, and - flicking her wand just once over the page, Hermione said "Specialis Revelio!"
As soon as the words were spoken, Hermione could plainly see a note scribbled in ink in the margins which said "Maybe canaries? Ask Prof. F."
The handwriting was familiar - identical, in fact, to the handwriting on the two letters Hermione had received from Professor McGonagall. So...the book must have been hers! Hermione's copy of Hogwarts: A History must have belonged to Professor McGonagall when she was in school.
For just a moment, Hermione frowned. Canaries? Why would anybody think about using canaries to attack somebody? But in the next instant she brushed all thoughts of canaries aside as she clasped the book to her chest and grinned.
This was Professor McGonagall's very own copy of the book, and she'd given it to Hermione!
It had to mean something, Hermione thought happily. Gryffindor House, here I come!
* The only thing keeping Hermione from recognizing the irony in this state of affairs was the fact that she had yet to learn the meaning of the word "irony."
Or leave a comment on LiveJournal