Hi everybody, this is just another small one-shot that I came up with while thinking how to continue my currently running stories. The idea is that contrary to canon Hermione isn't really the smartest witch of her generation. Everything else you have to read for yourselves.
As always I own nothing about Harry Potter.
Not the Smartest Witch
Harry was careful to not make a sound. He didn't want his head of house finding out that he had sneaked into her office at three in the morning. But he could only find the information he needed in the filing cabinet that held the files of all the students in Gryffindor. He had had suspicions about some students' real performance in class for a while and now he needed confirmation. First things first, his own file. He found it quickly and read over the comments that the teachers had written into his monthly reports. Overall it was the report of a student that the teachers thought could do a lot better if he would only apply himself properly in class, do a bit more research for his homework, and prepare properly for classes. The exception was of course Snape, who wrote a scathing report, showing him in the worst light. The one negative comment from other teachers was that he should practice writing with a quill more, as he tended to leave drops of ink on the parchment sometimes.
The next report he looked for was that of Ron. There were lots of reports about sub-par homework being handed in, slacking in class, disrespect towards teachers and other students and comments how they feared that he would fail the end-of-year exams. Some complained about his lack of understanding grammar and spelling issues, not to mention his atrocious handwriting. Harry was surprised about this a bit. Ron did his homework at the same time as Harry normally and while Harry didn't read the essays Ron wrote, they should be better than this at least. And didn't Hermione check his essays before he handed them in? Even if she only looked for grammar and spelling, the reports should be better.
Logically the next file he looked up was Hermione's. What he found there was not what he had expected. Hermione's grades were a lot worse than his own. Even with him not giving his all in class or homework, he was beating her in all classes except History of Magic. Where he had above average grades, she had grades that only just allowed her to pass all her classes. What the hell did she do all the time he found her reading books? She couldn't be that bad if she really read books about their subjects. And in class she normally was among those that got a spell first. He then read the reports of Professor Flitwick more closely.
Miss Granger, while always reading the chapter in her textbook for the next class, never bothers to continue practicing the spells beyond the initial level of performing the spell. Her spells are weak compared to her classmates that invest the work to truly master a spell. Her homework is never the required length and all remarks to keep to it are ignored. Not to mention that about three quarters of the essays don't have anything to do with the question asked. It shows a lack of understanding the topic of the homework.
Now this was interesting. Hermione wasn't as good at school as she wanted others to believe. Harry continued looking over some other reports, even if he didn't think that he would find any more really shocking information. Though with the surprises over Ron and Hermione anything was possible.
Harry lay in his bed, thinking about the way Hermione had shown him and Ron the entry about Nicholas Flamel being the only known creator of the Philosopher's Stone after Neville had given Harry the chocolate frog card of Dumbledore. He didn't really believe that she had coincidentally had that kind of book in her room. Not when he knew that her story about being the best of their year was false. Something was fishy and he didn't like it. Why would Hermione want that he found out about the guarded package holding a Philosopher's Stone? And come to think of it, why did she have that book? It didn't fit. It was as if somebody was using her to lead him on a certain path, and he hated something like that.
Ever since he had read the files, he had started handing in better homework essays without Hermione noticing. To not let her know how much better he was doing, he only let her see his first drafts for homework. He also read the next chapter of his books for the following day in the evening when he had closed the curtains around his bed. He didn't want to have to discuss with Ron why he was doing it. In class he didn't do much better than before, but he showed that he understood the material if he was asked and performed his spells properly and practiced until he really had them down. Nothing really outstanding, but it would give him a better grade in the end. He would have done that before, but Ron was too lazy and got cranky if he saw Harry studying more than absolutely necessary. Something Harry didn't get, but which also didn't sit right with him.
So what was really going on around him? Too many things didn't add up for it to be a coincidence.
Harry was on another night-time wandering trip. Ron was fast asleep as were his other dorm mates. Harry wanted to see if he could find a year ranking for the whole of first year and not only Gryffindor, which he had managed to put together by the ranking marks in the files of all his classmates. It had been three months since he has last sneaked into Professor McGonagall's office and he thought it would be safe to try again. But to his surprise she wasn't asleep yet. Instead she was working on something. What could she be doing at two in the morning? He was lucky that she hadn't noticed him yet, as he had only opened the door a little bit to first look inside and the door hadn't made a sound. Then he heard something rush and then steps.
"You're up late, Minerva," he heard the Professor Flitwick's voice.
"Just the last preparations for the end-of-year exams. If I don't get things done now, it will result in chaos when we have to test all years. Not to mention the OWL and NEWT exams that have to be scheduled to allow all students to take any subject they want, even if they haven't taken the class thanks to the timetable issues," McGonagall answered. "I could ask you as well why you're here at this time, Filius."
"Ah, I just wanted to get copies of the ranking lists for all years before the exams start, like every year. I know where you keep them and thought I didn't need to bother you when you already have so much to do," Flitwick explained.
"I see. Well, you can take them, they're already done. If the results of the end-of-year exams mirror what we've seen so far, my house won't get many top spots in a subject except for a few here and there. I guess you will probably get the top students of a year again," McGonagall said.
"I thought you would have been confident in Miss Granger?" Flitwick asked a little surprised.
"Please, Filius, the girl only pretends to be as smart as she appears. You know that as well as I do. She reads a lot and repeats it verbatim. She also prepares well for lessons, so it's normal that her classmates would get the impression of her being a good student. She's around twentieth in her year, because she isn't capable of performing at the level we expect for our students. While for the first-year charms that wouldn't be too much of a problem, I also read the comments my colleagues give about my lions. If I wasn't sure that Severus will downgrade Mr Potter, I would rather think he had a chance to come out on top than Miss Granger," she scoffed.
"Ah, yes, I noticed a remarkable improvement this term. While he doesn't appear like it in classes, his homework is now exemplary and his performance of the spells very secure. I can also securely say that he fully understands the material. But I don't really think he could get the top position, no matter if Potions or not," Flitwick commented.
There was a brief silence.
"These ranking are really correct? Wow, I can see what you mean. Well, we'll see how the students do in the exams. Goodnight, Minerva. Don't work too long," Flitwick said.
"Goodnight, Filius. I think about an hour and then I should be done," she answered.
Harry heard the rushing sound again and silently went away. If Professor McGonagall was going to work longer, he had no chance to get that list and he had a bit more information now as well thanks to the conversation he had overheard.
Harry looked at his results of the end-of-year exams. He had really done well. He hadn't managed the top spot, but he was I the top five. That was a great result, especially if you considered that Snape wouldn't mark him fairly. His Potions grade was lower than it should be, but that was okay. From grilling Percy innocently one day, he knew that the OWLs and NEWTs were given by the Ministry and those grades were the ones that decided which jobs you could get. Which made Percy's overzealousness in studying this year a bit more explainable. He had had to take his OWLs this year. The thing that was most interesting right now was that Hermione pretended to have done especially well in the exams.
But that clearly was wrong. She would have passed everything, he knew that, but she never had the best grades. Then there was her behaviour down when they had gone after the stone. He was wondering why he suddenly felt forced to protect the stone. Something wasn't right about that. Sure, he had put the clues together somewhat, but he didn't really think that he would simply suddenly realise that the whole issue with the dragon egg being more than suspicious just from seeing Hagrid. And then rushing into action? No, that didn't fit his personality. He normally waited until he had a plan.
The obstacles were also laughable in hindsight. All of them could be overcome by first-years. Okay, Fluffy was a problem, but with finding out from Hagrid, at the last second thanks to the realisation about the dragon, how to make the dog fall asleep? That was suspicious. Devil's snare was dangerous, no question, but not as dangerous as other plants. You could put up a better obstacle if you really wanted to prevent a thief to get the priceless treasure at the end. The flying keys the same. Don't get him started on the chessboard and the Potions riddle. The troll posed some danger, but again, nothing an adult wizard couldn't easily deal with. The Mirror of Erised. He had been told how that thing worked with a comment that he would now be warned if he came across it again. As if Dumbledore wanted him to go after the stone, despite the clear danger.
No, his sense of alarm was screaming at him and not in a good way. Something was going on behind the scenes. Something he didn't like at all. And for some reason Hermione played a key role in this morbid play. If his deductions were correct, she had been given the right clue to pass on at a time where it would help solving the puzzle of the mysterious package. Probably, if they hadn't come across the chocolate frog card again, she would have shown them the entry on her own, saying she had coincidentally read about it in the book she had checked out for 'light reading'. Somebody pushed them along the path and Harry was wary for what reason.
It was the end of Harry's third year at Hogwarts, only the end-of-year exams remained, and he was analysing the information he had collected over the last three years. He now had a pretty good idea about what was going on and what the master plan behind the strange occurrences over the years since his return to the wizarding world was. Somebody didn't want him to excel too much, therefore circumstances were influenced to keep him, and as a consequence the other students at Hogwarts, weak. But the main target was clearly him. The charade of Hermione, pretending to be the top student of their year when she was only average. Ron's overdone laziness. The life-threatening events. No help from teachers in crucial situations whatsoever.
Somebody seemed to either send him through one test after the other to see if he would be able to deal with things while not tbeing rained properly, or they were actively trying to get him killed without making it look like that. Well, too bad that he didn't play along like they wanted. He was still among the top five of his year and had studied a few things at the side. Becoming an animagus had been on his list since second year when he finally found the manual in Professor McGonagall's office one night. He was doing well and expected to finish his work over the summer or at least next year. Not that Ron and Hermione knew that. He was working on it secretly.
He didn't want either of them to run and tell on him. No, his form was too useful to finally get away from all this craziness to risk anything. He wouldn't play sacrifice or hero for people that didn't respect him and mistreated him whenever they felt like it like last year. There were other schools for magic in the world. He would enrol somewhere else and be done with Great Britain. He didn't feel any special attachment to his home country. Nobody here had ever really done anything to truly help him, he had saved the school twice now already and the best he got were some house points and a shiny trophy that coming generations of students would have to polish in detention. But no, instead of getting a real reward, he had been sent back to his horrible relatives again.
Never again. He hadn't run away only to be returned this summer. He would only have to be smart about it to not tip off people. Now he only needed to prevent to run into Sirius Black. It would be like his luck to meet the escaped prisoner that was after his life as well.
Harry looked at Hermione sprouting her 'great analysis' about Professor Lupin as if she had grown a second head. All the extra classes had really messed her up.
"Hermione, that makes no sense at all," Harry couldn't help but say. "I was alone with him more than once for a whole evening thanks to him teaching me the patronus charm. He could have easily killed me then if he had wanted to. And what about him being a werewolf? I've known that since January."
The others looked at him astonished.
"What? I found it strange that he was sick once a month and none of the teachers seemed surprised at all. So I looked up the dates he had been sick so far over the year and they were all around the full moon. His boggart turns into the full moon as well and he avoids touching silver without gloves. It was easy to put everything together. I really don't get the superstitions in the wizarding world concerning werewolves. So what if they turn into monsters once a month? That's no worse than a woman having her period," Harry stated and caused Sirius Black to laugh loudly.
"Moony has PMS!" He crowed. "That's too good!"
"And what about Black?" Hermione asked, miffed that he had shoved her argument away like he did.
"Explanations?" Harry asked looking at the two men. "I guess there is a good reason why Professor Lupin would take your side, Mr Black."
What followed was a tale of betrayal from one friend who managed to blame another, who had been the decoy secret keeper for his parents to keep the real one safe. Harry could see that both Black and Lupin were honest and the transformation from Scabbers into Pettigrew was the last proof he needed. The knocked out Snape was forgotten on the ground. Harry hoped that he had been really hurt by the impact with the wall.
Though when they discussed getting out of the shack and up to Hogwarts, he remembered something.
"One thing first, Snape said you forgot to take your potion tonight Professor, you should stay here before you transform," Harry stated.
"Oh shit!" Black exclaimed. "He's right. Moony, you stay here! Kids, we need to get out and lock the trapdoor on the way out so that Moony can't come after us."
Hermione hurried to help Ron and Sirius shoved Snape out. Harry took his invisibility cloak back. He thought a moment, then he bound Pettigrew in ropes that he tied to himself. He also made sure to hit him with a bedazzlement jinx to prevent that he could transform into a rat.
"Sirius, you should probably stay here in your animagus form and keep Professor Lupin company. I don't trust our chances that something bad won't happen. With our bad luck at the end of a year, I would think that the chances are good that the dementors are going to swarm us. Not to mention that the idiot of a minister is still at the grounds and tends to act before thinking things through. He would have you kissed before we could explain anything. I'm going to call the DMLE to interrogate him under truth potion and then you can come out to be cleared of all the wrong accusations," Harry explained quickly.
"Okay, but be careful. He's dangerous," Sirius warned before ushering them all out and turning back into a dog.
Harry's fears had come true. Some dementors thought that they would make a nice snack, but his patronus sent them away. Pettigrew was stunned before Harry used his patronus so he couldn't use the opportunity, just in case he could think clearly enough, to transform and get away. It didn't matter if he and Hermione had to levitate two people instead of one. They left Snape at an empty classroom on the ground floor, Harry even obliviated him of the night's events to not have him interfere with things, not that he would tell Hermione, who had gone ahead with Ron to get him to the hospital wing.
Thankfully Harry knew where the next floo-capable fireplace was and called the DMLE and asked to send a group of aurors, because he had caught an illegal animagus. They were there ten minutes later, including the head auror, Rufus Scrimgeour. While the man was pompous, he was at least more capable than Fudge. After recognising Pettigrew, he ordered questioning under veritaserum for him and the truth was finally heard. The aurors were horrified by the miscarriage of justice. Scrimgeour at least had some powers and sent one of the four aurors with him to get out an order to take the kiss-on-sight order for Sirius Black back.
"You wouldn't by any chance know where Black is now?" Scrimgeour asked Harry sternly.
"Yes, I do, but he'll only come out of his hiding place if he gets an oath that he will be given a fair trial this time around and that your department will make sure that he won't be 'accidentally' killed when he appears at the Ministry. There are too many people that will try to hush things up to not have the Ministry look bad. I won't allow that. Sirius Black is my godfather and I'm pretty pissed that this, excuse my words, fuck up, has taken away my chance to grow up with somebody that would have loved me like his own son instead of magic-hating muggles," Harry said firmly.
The aurors realised that this could be much worse than any revelations about Black being innocent and having spent over a decade at Azkaban for a crime he didn't commit. The people would flock to the Boy-Who-Lived if he went to the press with this story.
"There's no need to worry, Mr Potter, I'll personally ensure that nothing bad happens to your godfather," Scrimgeour assured him and meant every word. The consequences wouldn't be nice otherwise.
A week after that incident the Daily Prophet's headline declared Sirius Black innocent and wrote about the true traitor being Peter Pettigrew. Harry got the distinct feeling that Dumbledore wasn't happy about it. Harry couldn't care less. His godfather was free and he had written Harry that if he wanted to, he could move in with him. Harry planned to do just that while he convinced his godfather, who probably wasn't that attached to the country that had thrown him to the dementors, without ever making sure that they had the right man, to move somewhere else. Somewhere without the old man manipulating things to his liking. His newest inspection of Professor McGonagall's office, really it was too easy to get in there, had shown that Hermione, an average student, had been given a time-turner, just so that she could take all electives. As if she had proven herself worthy for that, but the headmaster had been adamant that she got one. Probably it would have been used in some of his hair-brained schemes again. No, better to leave while he was ahead of the reaper.
Summer was great. Sirius had taken him to Greece, where the Blacks had a villa. They had needed to clean a bit, but after two days using cleaning spells, unplottable properties were great to get around the underage magic laws, it was as good as new. Harry had told Sirius about his observations and how he thought that Hermione was spying on him and getting information far above her level from Dumbledore whenever needed, because she simply wasn't as smart as she made herself out to be. She was an average student that managed to deceive a lot of people in class and as the rankings of the year weren't published, nobody could refute her claims of being the smartest witch of her generation.
Harry knew that the information about the basilisk hadn't been in the library in the openly accessible parts. He had looked up all kinds of snakes after finding out that being a parselmouth was seen as dark. So the book had to have been in the restricted section or come from somewhere else. And truly, Hermione ripping a part of a page from a book while Madam Pince was watching like a hawk? Not possible. So she had got the information beforehand and the plan had been to make her look like the smart one again by handing Harry the last piece of the puzzle, enabling him to 'be the hero' again. Sadly the basilisk got her before that. She had been lucky to have used the mirror. He suspected that Dumbledore had given her the information shortly before that and had assured her that there was no real danger, that he had everything under control. Harry hearing the basilisk again gave Hermione the opening she needed to play her part.
Sirius was all for Harry not returning, no matter how many fond memories he had of Hogwarts and his time there with Harry's father. He didn't want to take the chance of losing his godson. He had just got him back after all. And with his help Harry mastered the last step of the animagus transformation easily. He fully exploited the abilities that his eagle form gave him. He loved flying without any tools like a broom.
So in the evenings, after days of sun, the beach and visiting wizarding sights of Greece, they looked up information about other magical schools. There were many that intrigued Harry and he was sure that he would easily find new friends there. After all, his so-called friends were limited to Hermione, the girl that rubbed him the wrong way, but whom he tolerated to not make whoever was feeding her snippets of information take worse measures than letting her give him just enough of that information for the plans to work, and Ron, who should have failed his classes long ago with how he didn't do his work properly. But again Dumbledore had intervened. He had let Crabbe, Goyle and Ron pass, even if they all failed three classes in first year and would have done the same in second year, had the exams not been cancelled. Those being Defence, not completely their fault admittedly, the teachers had been really bad, Potions, completely their fault, and for Ron History, hell was McGonagall peeved about that according to the comments in Ron's file, and Crabbe and Goyle Transfiguration.
One failed class could be made up, two normally got you into a test at the beginning of the new school year if you were ready to continue at a higher level and three fails should have been an automatic repeat of the previous year. But they had been allowed to pass. On the report cards Ron had only been shown to fail History, which he declared irrelevant. So Defence and Potions had been edited to just passing them. Even if the real marks were in the student files. Well, no longer his problem.
Great Britain didn't take the news that Harry Potter had transferred to another school well. Harry had even taken the precaution of sending a letter to the Daily Prophet after the news broke to explain his reasons and that for personal safety he had decided to continue his education somewhere else. He wouldn't tell them where though, because he didn't want to be dragged back. He gave some scathing remarks about how he had been treated all his life and that he didn't see any good reason to stay in England for people that hadn't cared about him enough to at least check on him.
Over the next years Dumbledore tried to find Harry and Sirius, but he didn't have any success. Hermione's real level was finally found out when her year had to take the OWL exams. Many mocked her when she wasn't allowed into the NEWT classes she wanted to take because her grades weren't good enough. She only qualified for Charms, History, Runes, Arithmancy and Herbology, but didn't get good enough marks in her other classes. The only class she got an E in was Charms and the others didn't require more than an A to continue them.
Ron had to repeat his fifth year as he hadn't managed to qualify for a single NEWT class. His mother hadn't been happy about that at all. Even the twins had been better, even if they hadn't done more than absolutely necessary for their dream of a joke shop. Three OWLs each hadn't been much, admittedly, but they simply decided that they could use their time better than writing essays for classes where they only needed the skills, which they could get by looking up the spells in books at the library or experimenting on their own.
Nobody had heard anything from Voldemort. Since he had appeared as a wraith in Harry's first year, he hadn't been seen in England. The only remarkable incident in years was the murder of Barty Crouch, the man that had thrown Sirius into Azkaban without a trial. Nobody really cared except that the culprit couldn't be found. But as no other murders took place, it was ruled as an isolated incident.
Harry was happy. He was about to get his mastery certificates in Defensive Magic and Ancient Runes from the head of the Australian Department of Magical Education. He had attended school in Canberra since he was fourteen and it had been a lot better than at Hogwarts. He could still play Quidditch, though he also loved broom racing, which was another big sport there, but he didn't have to fear that dangerous things happened that threatened his life all the time and interrupted his studies. Not to mention that he had great teachers in all subjects and not just a few. On top of that students got better and more support than at Hogwarts as there were simply more teachers per subject. He had graduated from school among the top ten of his year with NEWTs in ten subjects. All except Herbology, which was an Exceeds Expectations, had been with Outstanding. Sirius had been incredibly proud of him, which made Harry very happy.
Sirius had had his ups and downs recovering from over a decade with the dementors, but these days he was happy and had a steady girlfriend. Harry himself had been seeing his current girlfriend since they had been in sixth year at school and he planned to propose the next weekend when they were on their planned celebratory vacation. Gem Winters was his age and had been born in Sidney. At first Harry hadn't really had much to do with her, but over a project in Ancient Runes in their fifth year they had become closer and from friendship love had developed over the span of a year. Gem had also got her mastery in Ancient Runes and they planned to open their own warding business once they were back from their vacation.
Harry didn't have any contact with his old classmates. Sirius knew from Remus that Dumbledore was still looking for them, as Remus occasionally returned there, even if he was now also living in Australia, Snape the git had tattled on Remus' condition, even if Harry had obliviated the confrontation in the Shrieking Shack, but the prospect of Sirius being freed and having to endure working with Remus had made him 'slip up' with the Slytherins one morning, which had resulted in Remus having to leave. Dumbledore was convinced that Harry was needed in Britain for some reason, even if he didn't tell anybody said reason.
Harry couldn't care less. He loved his new life. He wouldn't return. He had even got Australian citizenship to avoid that anybody could force the issue. No, in Harry Potter's world all was well.
And done. As I said, Just a little story that I came up with in between writing the next part for the other stories,