The grand oak doors of Hogwarts castle opened with a slight creak, and a moment later many students spilled out onto the stone steps that led towards the wrought iron gates. At this present moment they were unlocked and open, the thestral-drawn carriages trundling up the drive towards them, ready to take the students down to Hogsmeade station.
The Golden Trio, more commonly known as Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, stepped out into the glorious sunlit courtyard.
“It’s going to be so strange,” Harry said, “not coming back here next year you know!” He had been feeling this way ever since he finished his last N.E.W.T. exam.
“I quite agree,” said Hermione, as her eyes took in the features of the magnificent castle that had been home to them for the last seven years.
“Yeah, but we’ll always have the memories!” said Ron happily.
The trio silently agreed, and as the carriages pulled up at the stone steps they jostled towards them along with the other students, making sure they got a carriage to themselves. The door closed with a snap behind them, and with that they were off.
As the carriage passed through the gates for their final time, the trio watched wistfully until they could no longer see the castle anymore... They truly had left Hogwarts for the last time.
Their last thestral-drawn carriage ride was an enjoyable one nonetheless. However, the three friends all agreed that it seemed to have gone far too quickly for their liking, and all too soon their carriage entered Hogsmeade station. Here, they found their luggage awaiting them on the edge platform, Crookshanks, Hedwig and Pigwidgeon balanced precariously upon their respective trunks.
“Come on then,” said Ron. “We’d better go and get a compartment to ourselves before they all get filled up.”
Harry and Hermione agreed, and simultaneously pointed their wands at their luggage with a ‘swish and flick’, causing their luggage to rise in unison through an open door of the scarlet steam train.
“Harry, Ron Hermione!”
Rubeus Hagrid, Hogwarts Gamekeeper and the Care of Magical Creatures teacher, came striding out of the crowd towards them, his voice ringing out above the chatter of happy students going home for the summer.
“Hagrid!” the three coursed in unison.
“I couldn’t let you three go with out saying goodbye,” Hagrid admitted. “Hogwarts won’t be the same with out you three next year, you know.”
“We feel exactly the same way Hagrid,” Hermione confessed sadly, feeling truly sorry that this period in her life was now over. Learning about the Wizarding world and all its properties had been fascinating, and all in all Hermione knew deep down that she was sorry she had to go.
“Yeah, we’ll miss you too Hagrid,” Ron added, whilst thinking of all the fondest and possibly funniest memories. Malfoy the amazing bouncing ferret for one! That one would never be forgotten, not if Ron could help it...
“But we promise you,” said Harry, whilst looking into Hagrid’s kind beetle black eyes, “we’ll keep in touch and visit you soon.” He smiled sadly. This was truly it; his Hogwarts years were over, never to be repeated. To think, almost seven years ago, he had been told by Hagrid that he was a wizard! He couldn’t believe time had flown so quickly since that fateful moment in the hut on the rock.
“Go on you’d better get going,” Hagrid replied with a smile. “The train will be leaving any minute now.” He hugged each of them in turn.
The trio stepped onto the train and shut the door. It started to gather speed and moved out of the station, and they continued to wave to Hagrid until the train rounded the corner and he vanished from sight.
They then began to search for a compartment, whilst pulling their luggage behind them with one hand and carrying their pets in the other. However, it seemed that most of them were already full. Eventually, though, they managed to find a compartment right at the back of the train where they wouldn’t be disturbed.
“So,” Hermione said as they all sat down comfortably, luggage stored in the overhead rack, “what a year that was! I hope our exam results are good.”
By this time great green pine trees were racing past the window.
“Yeah, you can say that again,” said Ron. “Mum will kill me if my results aren’t good!”
“Hmm, I can imagine that,” Harry laughed.
“Anyone fancy a game of Exploding snap?” Ron questioned.
“No, let’s talk!” Hermione said happily.
“Ok then, what about?” asked Harry.
“What about our first year at Hogwarts?” Hermione suggested, “How about that?” It seemed rather logical to her that it would be good for them to relive their first year on their last train journey home. She nodded encouragingly at Harry and Ron, who seemed to be warming to the idea. They smiled at her in agreement, and so the Golden Trio began to reminisce about their first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...
*My name is Hermione Jean Granger. I am eleven years old and just a few weeks ago, my life completely changed. I thought I was a normal person from a normal family... but it turns out I’m quite special. It turns out I’m a witch!
How can this be? I hear you say. Well, if you will allow me to take you back a few weeks ago to the thirty first of July I shall tell you...
When I got up on the day I am telling you about, it was around nine o’clock. Today seemed like it was going to be pretty much the same as every Saturday. Oh, I tell you now, I couldn’t have been more wrong!
I dressed quickly, wanting to go downstairs to see my Mum and Dad. They will have been up for an hour at least, I thought to myself, as I descended the oak staircase.
I could hear the clattering of the frying pan on the cooker, the source of noise evidently coming from the kitchen. That’ll be Mum making the usual Saturday morning breakfast of Bacon sandwiches, I thought, as the sent of frying bacon drifted towards me.
I took the last two stairs with a jump as they always squeaked and it rather annoys me. I can become very irritated at times... As I walked through the hall way, I made a point of picking the post up off the doormat for Dad, as there was bound to be a bill of some kind there.
I entered the kitchen to find that Dad was moaning about the day’s headlines, as he always does on a regular basis. I dropped into a seat at the large wooden kitchen table and passed him the morning post. It was then that Dad looked up from his paper and wished me good morning, thanking me for bringing him the post.
“Good morning, dad,” I say in reply. “It was no problem.”
Dad then folded his paper in half and began to sift through the post, finding two brown envelopes – bills. However, before he even got a chance to scowl at them, Mum brought over the breakfast of bacon sandwiches, and she then began to pour us all a glass of fresh orange juice.
I took a bite into the hot bacon sandwich, wanting the meal to be over in a hurry. Breakfast is a fairly enjoyable affair in the Granger household, but this particular morning, I wanted it to be over quickly as I was just dying to start reading a new book that my grandmother had bought me from her local bookshop as a present. I don’t see her all too often as she lives in London you see, but we see her once a month at least.
Oh, I am so sorry, I appear to be digressing, where was I? Ah yes...
In no time at all, I was taking the last bite of my bacon sandwich, eager to start reading. So after finishing my glass of fresh orange juice, I excused myself from the table.
I went into the living room and grabbed my book off the trestle table. I then decided to go and sit in the front garden as the weather was splendid.
Why the front garden? I hear you ask. Well, the front garden gets the most sunshine, that’s why! Before heading out of the house, I made a point of stopping by the kitchen and getting a glass of ice-cold lemonade and getting our picnic rug out of the cupboard where mum keeps the picnic basket.
Once I had everything I needed, I opened the front door and stepped outside into the glorious sunshine. I felt the crunch of gravel underfoot as I walked towards Dad’s well tended front garden with its luscious green grass and brightly coloured flowerbeds. My father is something of a keen Gardner and always keeps them looking nice at all times of the year.
I spread the picnic rug upon the ground, and then settled myself down on it. Before I picked up my book and begun reading, I looked fondly up at our little white cottage. Well, I say white; there wasn’t really much white stone showing, as the cottage is covered in deep green creeping ivy. Our home certainly does have its own little rustic charm, I thought to myself as my eyes swept across the front door. It was edged in delicate pink and red roses, and they always do look at their best in summer.
I felt quite content there sitting outside on the picnic rug. The perfect place to read! Without further ado I opened my book and delved into its pages. However, I hadn’t even reached the end of the first page when a noise distracted me...
I turned to see a tabby cat sitting on our garden wall. When it saw me, its ears pricked up, as if it had been waiting for me to come outside.
I turned back to my book and once again delved into its pages, somewhat eagerly. It’s a well known fact I love a good book. Right from being small I had taken a deep interest in literature, even though my mother and father don’t read much, so I can never quite figure out where my passion for fiction and fact has come from.
A little while later after reading almost a quarter of my book, I looked up to see the tabby cat still sitting on our wall. It was still watching me, almost curiously, as if it had never seen an eleven year old girl before.
What odd behaviour for a cat, I thought to myself as I gathered up the empty glass and the picnic blanket. Mum would be due to call me in for lunch at any moment, but afterwards I would continue my novel of a fairytale romance. It really was just getting to the good part when I decided to go indoors and get my seat at the table on time.
I stepped over the threshold, and just as I was about to close the door behind me, I became aware of the tabby cat once more. It seemed to have jumped off the wall, landing lightly on all fours amongst the vivid greenery of the grass. It was walking towards me, keeping its eyes on me at all times, not even blinking once! Perhaps it was lost... it certainly seemed like it. I had no doubt in my mind that when I came back out after lunch, that it would still be there. I couldn’t have been more wrong... I was in for one heck of a surprise! Little did I know, my life was about to be totally changed. What was about to unfold would affect my future, and at the time I knew nothing of it.
Just as I shut the door behind me, I heard mum call me in for lunch. As I headed in the direction of the kitchen, I thought I heard a noise outside the door. It sounded like some sort of scratching against wood to me. I found it odd, as nobody else had been outside when I was. Probably my mind playing tricks on me, no doubt, I thought a little apprehensively.
I entered the kitchen to see Mum and Dad awaiting me. The table was laden with summer salads, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and ham sandwiches... you name it, it was there. Mum always did love to do a buffet kind of meal when it was summery weather. I took my place at the table, and just as I was pouring myself a glass of lemonade, there came a brisk knock at the door.
“Who on earth could this be?” my mother said, confused, whilst looking at Dad. “We aren’t expecting anyone... unless it’s someone from the surgery telling us we’re needed, but I can’t see that happening; it is our day off after all!”
Ah yes, I forgot to mention one thing to you. My parents. They are dentists and they run their own practice. It’s quite a well paid job, and as my Dad always says, “It pays the bills and is somewhat rewarding at the same time.” I can understand why he feels it to be a rewarding job. After all, when you’re a dentist you’re helping people and I suppose doing your bit for society, too, seeing as it is a locally run practise.
Dad shook his head at Mum to indicate that he hadn’t a clue who was at the door. “I told them whatever paperwork needs doing could wait till tomorrow,” he said, somewhat disgruntled at the thought of his day off being disrupted by dental forms requiring his signature.
“Not to worry,” I said as a smile graced my face, “I’ll get it.” And with that I got up from my seat, heading directly for the front door. I looked at the shadow behind the frosted glass; the visitor seemed to be a woman.
Not wanting to keep her waiting any longer than necessary, I unlocked the door.
“Hello,” I said politely, “how can I help you?”
The woman turned to face me. Her eyes were kind behind the square spectacles, and her wise face sported a smile. Her hair was dark and pulled into the form of a bun. I had never encountered the woman before.
“Miss Granger I presume?” Her accent was Scottish. “I am Professor Minerva McGonagall.”
I nodded, unsure as to how she knew my name, and before I got a chance to reply, Dad appeared at my shoulder. “Yes? Can we help you?” he said to the woman.
“Ah, Mr Granger, allow me to introduce myself. I am Professor Minerva McGonagall, deputy headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”
There was a heavily pregnant pause.
Who was this woman? How did she know my name? What is Hogwarts? These were only a few of the questions buzzing through my mind as the Professor continued speaking to Dad.
“...I have come to inform you of something that will affect your daughter’s future education. May I come in?”
It was clear to me that she didn’t want to hang around on our doorstep all afternoon. I looked at dad, and gave him a look that said, “Don’t be rude, let her in it seems important!”
He didn’t respond however. The picture on his face was one of shock mingled with confusion, and I could tell at that very moment that he was wondering what she wanted with me. To be quite frank I was wondering that myself, but the answer was just around the corner.
“Of course Professor,” I said extremely politely, addressing her by her title. If she really did have some information that would affect my future, I wanted to make a good impression on first meeting this woman.
As she nodded in thanks, I got the impression that she was a fairly strict, no nonsense person, but that isn’t to say she didn’t seem to have a kind exterior, because she certainly did, and that showed through ten minutes later when we were all sitting in the living room, Mother included. To be perfectly honest, Mum was just as confused as dad and I when the woman held out her hand for Mum to take; she shook it rather reluctantly.
This woman must be about sixty or seventy at the very least; I thought to myself as she sat down on the sofa, and it was at that moment when I noticed her style of clothing. She was wearing robes of pure emerald green, and in this weather you didn’t often see people wearing clothes like that in our part of the country, let alone at all! Her style of dress really did intrigue me.
She turned to smile at me, pulling a parchment envelope out of a pocket in her robes that was hidden somewhere within the folds of elaborate material.
“This should explain things a little better, Miss Granger,” she said kindly, seeing the look of utter confusion on my face as she handed me the letter.
I took it with a shaking hand. The envelope was addressed in emerald ink, it read:
Miss H. Granger,Honeysuckle Cottage,Nr. The Forest of DeanGloucestershire
That letter had my name on it! But who on earth would be writing to me? Sure, I had a pen pal in Paris, but they wouldn’t send someone like this woman with a letter! It was bizarre indeed. I opened the envelope with trembling fingers and read its contents through quickly, several times. Me, a witch? Seriously? I felt like this was a dream, witches only existed in fairytales! I looked up at the kind faced woman, and she nodded slightly as if to confirm the letter’s content was true.
I passed the letter to my mother and father. Was this a wind up? I was due to start secondary school in September, my place had been confirmed! Was this letter addressed to me by mistake?
My parents’ had the same look on their faces as me; it must have been clear to Professor McGonagall that we were all confused.
“Miss Granger, I can confirm that you are indeed a witch, and you do have a place at Hogwarts, where you wi-“
I cut her of there, by politely holding up my hand to stem her talking and show that I really didn’t have a clue what she was on about. She stopped talking, and with a smile, allowed me to ask the biggest questions that were on my mind. “How can I be a witch? What is Hogwarts?”
“Oh my, I am sorry dear,” she said, sounding somewhat stern with herself. “I am forgetting the vital things, do forgive me.”
“How can you be a witch, you ask? Well, seeing as you are Muggleborn – that means a witch who was born into a non-wizard family – I am assuming that at some point in the past you have had a wizard or witch in the family for you to possess the ability you do. Sometimes the magic gene can skip generations…” The kind faced woman paused to allow me some reflective thinking time, but that only caused more questions to explode inside my head. Who was the relative in the family who had magical abilities? Had I met them? But before asking these questions I let her finish answering the other ones.
“…As for Hogwarts, well, Hogwarts is our school. It is the finest of magical institutions throughout the globe, and I’m not exaggerating there, we really are the finest. Hogwarts is situated in the northern part of Scotland, and it isn’t visible to Muggles. Though do not fear, because you are a witch you will be able to see it,” she explained.
I was still a little overwhelmed when she had finished explaining, but I was somewhat used to the shock now. I get used to things very quickly, I’ll have you know. I can put my mind to anything, and with a bit of luck, I should figure it out in the end. “But who was it in my family with this kind of ability?” I asked, genuinely curious.
“Hermione, it is possibly near improbable to pin-point the exact family member, but from what I know…” McGonagall paused, obviously thinking hard. “There is only one wizard with your family name - Hector Dagworth-Granger, the founder of The Most Extraordinary Society of Potioneers… You may well be related to him, but I cannot say for sure.”
My mind was made up. I was going to research our family tree as far back as I could after this little encounter with the supposed wizard that was part of my family. It was quite exciting, and yet I felt it to be nerve-wracking at the same time. Over the next few hours Professor McGonagall gave me and my family a little information about the Wizarding world, including how I was to buy all the school equipment I would need. I was to go to a place called Diagon Alley. Apparently it was concealed by a pub called the Leaky Cauldron that only the Wizarding race could see. I was excited to say the least when she told me all about Flourish and Blotts, the wizarding bookstore. The other shops sounded fascinating too, but especially flourish and Blotts as I am, as you will probably know by now, a very keen reader.
It was then that I asked the question, “But how did I get this magic? As far as I know I have never performed any manner of magic in my entire life!”
The old woman smiled. “Oh, Miss Granger you would be surprised. Think back now, has anything ever happened that you weren’t expecting it to?”
I thought hard for a moment. “Yes…yes it has,” I said slowly, hardly believing that I had performed magic without meaning to, or even knowing about it. “I didn’t understand any of the history we were doing in school and we had a test coming up. I revised as hard as I could but I couldn’t remember a thing… When I sat the test a week later, after hopelessly giving up, I, I found I knew the answers, and low and behold when the marks came back, I had a hundred percent, I could scarcely believe it!” I hurried off a quick explanation to her.
“Ah,” she said, her eyes twinkling inquisitively behind the black-framed spectacles.
Don’t get me wrong; I am a bright spark, and by the end of that afternoon, with my head full of information about the Wizarding world, I, Hermione Granger was finally able to start piecing together parts of the puzzle to reveal the true Hermione Jean Granger. After all these years, I find out I’m special and that I have a unique ability. It really isn’t quite comprehendible, yet I find it believable. It’ll just take a bit of getting used to, that’s all.
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