Chapter 4 : The Librarian
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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.”
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