which it is your prerogative to skip,

though I do not recommend it

Welcome, reader!

I don't know how you stumbled upon this story — reddit, perhaps? TVtropes? or perhaps you were just browsing fanfiction dot net… — but here's a few ramblings for your consideration before you start reading that insane little tale of mine.

"The Parselmouth of Gryffindor" was born of several yearnings.

First, I wanted a proper exploration of the ethical implications of snakes' ability to talk in the "Harry Potter" universe, something which I have strangely never really seen before. Second, I wished to tell an original story, something nobody had done before, and I think "Parselmouth Hermione" may well be a first. There are a few other creative ideas that will come up as the plot advances.

I also wanted to write a plausible version of First Year Hermione as she is described in 'Philosopher's Stone' — an excitable, bossy little girl with a tendancy to babble — which is only too rarely done; stories tend to either make her unsympathetic, or instead idealize her and have her be like her older self from Day One. Considering her different circumstances, my Hermione grew organically from this young, overconfident motormouth, and her older self is not very much like the canonical Hermione at all. How? You'll see.

I started this story longer ago than it seems, when I was a lesser writer than I am now (I'm afraid the first few chapters aren't quite up to snuff), and with the intent of it being a "short, episodic sort of thing", as this Author's Note originally stated. 260.000 words later, I… realise I may have changed my mind at some point in the creative process. "The Parselmouth of Gryffindor" is by now set to be a full Seven-Year AU, and being partway through Fifth Year as I write this, I'm reasonably hopeful that we'll get there.

"The Parselmouth of Gryffindor" really is one story at the end of the day, much more than the canon books or some other Seven-Year AUs; hence why I continued posting it as one stories rather than splitting it by 'books'. Nevertheless, if it would be of interest to anyone, here's a Table of Contents of the seven de-facto 'books'. Note, firstly, that by a strict definition of the word, they may contain some spoilers; and secondly, that the chapter numbers given are, for easy navigation, ffnet's, not the ones I actually use in my Interlude-laden numbering scheme.

"Hermione Granger and the Snake in the Walls" — FIRST YEAR — Chapter 1 to Chapter 5 — Hermione comes to Hogwarts, makes many friends (including a certain ancient monster), investigates a cursed turban, and utterly refuses to get involved in any of that Philosopher's Stone foolishness.

"Hermione Granger and the Friendly Boggart" — SECOND YEAR — Chapter 6 to Chapter 16 — It's a brand new year at Hogwarts! Hogwarts, where Diaries talk, the Defence Professor is insane, and things catch sentience like other people catch colds. Not to mention a certaine scaped Marauder is on the prowl, and the Children of Aragog grow restless…

"Hermione Granger and the Wizarding World" — THIRD YEAR — Chapter 18 to Chapter 37 — Third Year spells new responsabilities for Hermione… No, not the electives, though she *is* taking thema all, and there is nothing more convenient than a Time-Turner. But when your new Defence teacher's a werewolf and your Minister is an imbecile, sometimes, you have to take matters into your own hands.

"Hermione Granger and the Lost Souls" — FOURTH YEAR — Chapter 38 to Chapter 66 — Hermione discovers that, Time-Turner or not, redeeming a teacher who caused World War II, dealing with a Dark Lady of Hufflepuff, leading a country, and egg-hunting for lost pieces of an evil overlord's soul is rather too much. Not to mention a so-called Heir of Voldemort is running around, rallying old Death Eaters… and just what is up with these headaches of Harry's, anyway?

"Hermione Granger and the Triwizard Tournament" — FIFTH YEAR — Chapter 67 onwards; ongoing — The world looks to have had enough of Hermione's peculiar brand of insanity, and, under deafening cheers from Dolores Umbridge , she is stripped of her wand and shipped off to Azkaban. Well, good try, everyone, but she returns to the mainland with a new Dementor best-friend, all ready to take place in the new and improved Triwizard Tournament she and Ron Weasley helped design. Unfortunately, so are the Dark Lady of Hufflepuff, an owl, and… a second Boy Who Lived?!

"Hermione Granger and the Laws of Magic" — SIXTH YEAR — Upcoming — Working hard in the International Confederation of Wizards to fix problems like the ethically indefensible Statute of Secrecy and the discriminatory Wand Ban, Hermione and friends must also deal with the legacy of the Flamels, as well as the education of a young and rather distressingly naive Basilisk… oh, and did I mention Dumbledore's getting married and there's a Goblin Rebellion brewing?

"Hermione Granger and the Timeless War" — SEVENTH YEAR — Upcoming — With the Death Eaters and Horcruxes all rounded up, and the I.C.W. and Ministry both rebuilt from the ground up, things seem, at last, to be going in the right direction. "Right direction" is a very relative term, though, and when she discovers the Department of Mysteries' new findings in the field of magical chronology, Hermione must cope with the unsettling revelation that none of her adventures were meant to happen, solve a riddle that has been hiding in plain sight all her life — and do all of that before time runs out… literally.

So that's that. The last two summaries are, of course, subject to any number of changes when I actually get to writing them.

Oh, and two somewhat perfunctory, but very important notes: first, I of course do not own the Wizarding World or any other characters and concepts borrowed from J. K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" franchise (though I do own the original parts of this plot and whatever new things I introduce to my version of the Harry Potter universes). Mrs Rowling's really terribly nice to let us all play around in her sandbox. And second, as you'll soon find out, I often plead my readers for reviews. I'm not nearly so desperate as I make myself sound, big ham that I am, but neither am I indifferent to feedback, good or bad. It keeps me writing.

Barring incidents, "The Parselmouth of Gryffindor" updates about once a week, though on which day is anyone's guess. Sometimes I skip a week or two, but I'll never go longer than a month without officially notifying you that I'm going on hiatus (and that, so far, has happened once).

With all that said, there only remains for me to hope that you'll have as much fun reading this story as I'm having writing it! See you around!


Chapter I: The Muggleborn Parselmouth

Little Hermione Jean Granger could talk to snakes.

It would, perhaps, not be fair to say that was her one odd feature, though she was the 11-year-old daughter of a perfectly ordinary pair of dentists, living in perfectly ordinary London in the utterly remarkable year that was 1991. After all, Hermione was odd in a myriad of other ways. She was odd for how big and curly her hair was, and for how large her two front teeth were, and for how squeaky her voice was, and for how many books she read a week, and for the confidence with which she would often scold imaginary ghosts of the books' authors, when they appeared to her to have gotten something wrong.

But for all that some children (those who didn't make fun of her) and most grown-ups respected her for her intelligence and her academic memory, and for all that she was proud of those, too — that secret talent of hers — talking to snake — had been her greatest personal pride ever since she'd discovered it as a toddler.

After all, there were many other precocious students in the world, whereas talking to snake was special. Hermione had looked in every library she was allowed to go, and there were no records of anyone ever speaking to a snake at all. In fact, the thicker books on snake biology said snakes were actually quite deaf. This had made the snake she'd told giggle like mad. Well, 'giggle'… it was more of a hiccoughy sort of hiss. But Hermione's gift allowed her to hear it for the giggle it was.

Her parents, the Doctors Daniel Timothy Granger and Sally Helen Granger (née Verdant), were the only grownups who knew about this and believed her. They were, of course, extremely confused; more confused than Hermione thought the situation really warranted. (So what if snakes could talk, and only some people could understand it? Foreigners talked in strange and inexplicable tongues all the time, and only some very learned people could understand what they said; no one made a big deal out of that.) But confused or not, the Grangers loved their daughter no less for it.

And a few months before their daughter's eleventh birthday, they received the first strange visit of many to come.

It was a strange woman wearing an old-fashioned (no, scratch that, an old, though it didn't look well-worn) dark red dress. She had her graying hair up in a bun and wore a pair of old, impeccably-clean glasses with gold rimming.

Hermione answered the door, as she always did when her parents were farther away from the entryway than she was:

"Good morning, madam, what do you want?" she asked, unafraid to sound twee — clients usually liked it. And if there were children present, it usually eased their angst to see there was another kid at the dentist's and she was all smiles.

There were no children present, just the strange woman.

"Ah, you must be… Hermione Granger," said the woman, taking care to pronounce the name correctly; she had a slight Scottish accent, and Hermione quite liked the way it made her name sound. "Good day to you too. My name is Professor Minerva McGonagall, and there is something of importance I must discuss with your parents."

"Oh, is it about your teeth?" asked Hermione. "They look fine to me. And where did you find this dress? What are you a professor of? Why…"

"Dear!" said Sally Granger's voice behind her, cutting her off. "We talked about this. Curiosity is a good and useful things, but that doesn't mean you can just swarm strangers with questions."

"Madam, I do apologize for my daughter's outburst", said Sally's husband, ever the formal practician, as he strode to the door in long measured steps. "I am Doctor Daniel Granger. What is your business?"

"As it happens, Dr Granger", said McGonagall, holding out a hand to shake, "it concerns young Hermione herself. May I come in?"

"You could, but I don't think you'd want to," Hermione observed. "This is a dentist's practice, not a living room; if it is privacy you want, you'll find just as much here than further into the building."

"Very well," said the Professor. "Let us get to the point, then… Doctor Granger, you must have noticed… peculiar events happening around young Hermione. On occasion. Things you couldn't quite explain, though their reality was beyond all doubt."

"Did we ever!" laughed Hermione before her parents could silence her.

Powerless, they nodded.

"Very good, very good!" said McGonagall slightly. "I see you have not taken issue with… Oh, and why would you, anyway? What are a few flickering light and broken objects… The other Muggles do fuss over the smallest things, don't they?"

"Lights? Objects?" asked Mr Granger, who was growing more and more confused. "…what was that about mugs?"

"Oh…" Hermione said for her part, not a little disappointed. "I thought you were talking about my ability to… Oh, of course you wouldn't know. I'm sorry, I got too excited."

"Your ability to…?" the Professor prodded. "Whatever it is, it may still be relevant. The gift can manifest in many forms."

Giddy at the prospect of telling someone, Hermione leaned in conspiratorily, not quite aware that considering she was much shorter than the person she was talking to, this meant she ended up further away from her than she'd started.

"I can talk to snakes," she whispered.

Professor McGonagall's demeanor shifted rather remarkably.

"Talking to snakes?! Indeed?"

There was interest now, even fascination, in Professor McGonagall's voice; you could tell, because her Scottish accent had just gotten a lot stronger.

"Oh, hm, yes, we…" stammered Mrs Granger, not knowing what to say. They'd always been very careful not to let anyone know about their daughter's mysterious power. Not that it was anything to be ashamed of — but they wouldn't have their child growing up swarmed with reporters, scientists and other assorted crackpots, not before she was fourteen at least.

"Don't worry, Dr Granger," the Professor said in a practiced soothing tone. "Pars- that is to say, talking to snakes — is also considered a sign of what I am talking about… though quite an unusual one. Very well. Simply put, and I beg you, do not be alarmed… your daughter, Hermione… is a witch."

Through the flood of questions that followed, it surfaced that Professor McGonagall was the Deputy Headmistress of the British Isles' only school of Magic; that Hermione could study in that school if she so wished, for free (that bit did more to sell Daniel on the idea than anything else); that Magic had nothing to do with demonic summonings of any sort, and was an inherent and morally neutral talent; that there was a whole secret world of wizards out there; and that any further queries could be answered by the books Hermione would soon be purchasing in London's wizarding district under the Professor's own guidance.

McGonagall led the young witch to the 'Leaky Cauldron' the very next day. Her parents would have loved to come, of course, but they had some clients scheduled to come that day. They reasoned there would always be time to discover the new world and magic, whereas there was money to be made today. To be precise, that had been Daniel Granger's reasoning.

"Why is the entrance to Diagon Alley disguised as a pub?" Hermione asked as they walked through the crowded establishment. "Is it really a pub, or just a disguise? Does it belong to the Ministry of Magic? If not, does the Ministry pay the actual owner for the use they make of—"

"Miss Granger! Calm yourself!" tampered McGonagall. "I reiterate that all of your questions will be answered either at Hogwarts itself, or in the numerous books you will no doubt be buying today."

"Oh yes!" said Hermione eagerly. "Will we soon get to the bookshop, Professor?"

"Uhm… As you will no doubt spend the longest time there, I would advise you to save the best for last, so to speak. Here, let us buy some proper wizarding robes for you!" said McGonagall, pointing to Madam Malkin's with evident relief and ushering the girl in before Hermione could even ask about what she meant, exactly, by 'robes', 'wizarding' and 'proper'.

There, she found herself measured by a still, silent woman and eventually offered several sizes of a set of black robes and pointy hats. She payed quite a few pounds for the clothes, but Madam Malkin assured her in a quiet voice that the robes had several enchantments on them to justify the price.

Next stop, McGonagall said, was Gringotts Bank, where she could exchange her pounds for wizarding money, as only Madam Malkin's accepted Muggle coin.

Oh, really? Wizards had their own currency? What was it called? What was its exchange rate? Was it the same for wizards in other countries? Were there wizards in other countries?

Hermione's economical questions were however soon drowned out when she came across the bank-tellers.

"Oh my God. They're not human!" she squeaked in surprise. "You didn't tell me there were other species in the wizarding world… Oh dear oh dear, what are they, exactly? Do they speak English?"

Somewhat amused, Professor McGonagall answered:

"They are Goblins, Miss Granger. They do have their own nation and language, but of course the bank-tellers in Gringotts are fluent, or nearly so, in most European languages and some besides."

Hermione gasped but then regained her decorum and strode to a free desk. She bowed briefly.

"Excuse me, sir?" she asked as politely as she could manage.

The goblin — an old, withered creature with yellowed teeth and claws, wearing silver-branched spectacles — leaned towards the young girl.

"Yes…?" he acquiesced.

"I'm sorry, sir, but my name is Hermione Granger." (She bowed again.) "I'm a muggleborn and I would like to exchange two hundred pounds' worth into galleons, please." (Another bow.)

Staring intently at her, the old goblin extended a clawed, skeletal hand in which she placed the bank notes. Almost immediately, he gave her a small bag of heavy wizarding coins in return.

"Thank you very much — sir." said Hermione, bowing again.

A few months earlier, a rude boy in her class had joked she 'probably didn't know any fairy tales', and, taking the insult very seriously, she'd read up all she could on fairies. The point was that many books said goblins were a type of fae, and all the books agreed it was best to always be polite when dealing with the fae.

While she trotted off to meet a stunned McGonagall, the old goblin whispered in Gobbledegook to his colleague sitting next to him:

[That witch is barmy. Does she think I'm a hippogriff or something?]

Together, Hermione and her Professor bought a cauldron and several ladles, other potion supplies, many rolls of parchments, as many quills, and a telescope — none of which was particularly interesting. Afterwards, she was finally allowed into Flourish and Blotts, the magical bookshop, where she bought nearly everything she could on magic, goblins, and wizarding society.

She looked all she could but did not find anything about snakes, and eventually asked Mr Blotts about that strange omission. Blotts, who didn't seem to understand quite why Hermione would be asking for such a thing, gave her the distinct impression that wizards didn't like snakes much better than normal folk did. They seemed just as ready to assume snakes were "dark" and "evil" by nature. Too bad… At least, she ascertained, in the process, that people like her — people who could talk to snakes — Parselmouths — were uncommon even in the Wizarding World. That she was still special even now brought her no small amounts of satisfaction.

After one last look through the indefensibly-snakeless "S" shelf, she prepared to go out—

—and immediately found herself faced with the obstacle of the sheer weight of the pile of books she'd just paid for.

"… This is so unfair," she raged silently, staring at the heap. "Everyone knows intellectuals and weightlifters don't have very much overlap. Why can't they design books that get lighter the more you pile them up? Ugh."

She kept mumbling to herself for long enough that Blotts began to stare at her very very oddly, and finally decided to call for help.

McGonagall, Hermione decided, had to be a very good witch, as she managed to create a self-powered wagon for transporting her purchases. Yes, she was definitely looking forward to having that woman as her teacher. They made light conversation as they continued their way; McGonagall did not seem to think it was a very good idea for her to visit the Magical Menagerie, and Hermione humored her, giving it a wide berth.

(It was painfully clear that the wizards must sell snakes there, and that the Professor feared Hermione would react badly to this knowledge. Considerate of her, though aa bit naive — Hermione had hardly been born yesterday, and Muggles sold snakes, too. It was technically slavery, yes, and some of Hermione had always felt as though she should object; but the inescapable fact was that all the shop snakes she'd ever talked to were very happy with their fate, which guaranteed them a stable life and steady feedings, and cared little for abstract concepts like 'freedom'. So she didn't worry about it too much.)

She was then asked to go to a faded boutique called Ollivanders to buy 'the most essential piece of equipment' — a wand.

"Ah… a new Muggleborn, is that it, Minerva?" asked Mr Ollivander, without greeting either of them, as he emerged from behind a shelf.

"Indeed, Garrick. May I introduce — Miss Hermione Granger. Miss Granger is an eager mind… and a Parselmouth" said McGonagall with a peculiar tone of voice.

"Is she now?" said Ollivander, his pale, already twinkling eyes becoming even brighter. "How fascinating! How very interesting indeed. You were right to tell me… and I, who haven't equipped a Parselmouth since… oh, since… ah, you wouldn't know the boy… that is to say, you wouldn't know his name… but the point, Miss Granger, is it was more than fifty years ago. Now…"

With a flick of his own wand, the wandmaker sent several strange tape measurers floating about Hermione, and he began explaining:

"Now, you see, the wand chooses the witch, Miss Granger, not the other way around. It's not always clear why, but—"

"Excuse me", asked Hermione, "but if the wand chooses the witch, why are all these tests necessary?"

Ollivander looked like he'd accidentally swallowed a porcupine.

"Ah, uhm, this reminds me. Minerva, the choosing of the wand is a private event, especially for someone so special… if you would kindly wait outside…"

Somewhat surprised, the Professor left the shop.

"It is rare that a student should ask such a thing", said Ollivander, his eyes twinkling. "I am no Sorting Hat, but I daresay you may do well in Ravenclaw, young Parselmouth… Alright, I'll tell you. You see… there is an art in helping a witch or wizard find their first wand; if I didn't have a rough ideas what wands to suggest, why, the choosing of the wand would take hours."

"Then if it's so innocent, then why did you ask Professor McGonagall to leave us alone?" asked Hermione, curious.

"Well, there is an art, it's true, but it's all in the feelings — the tapes are just a little bit of decorum. I'm afraid if people knew that wandlore is not nearly so scientific as I make it out to be, they wouldn't listen to a word I say, and instead I'd have to deal with excited youngsters pouncing on the wands in my shelves. And I do so enjoy my quiet little monologues…"

Hermione, pleased to have found out something Professor McGonagall had obviously never noticed, readily agreed to keep this nice Mr Ollivander's secret, and they moved on to finding her a wand.

"Now let me see… The mind of a Ravenclaw, the independence of a Gryffindor… and something of a Slytherin too; you did find out one of my secrets moments after meeting me… not to mention the Parseltongue, of course… although…"

So saying, Ollivander was running his hands over the numerous wands in his possession.

"Perhaps this?" he said, holding out a light-colored wand of about average length, before he proudly explained the wand's properties: "Vine wood, dragon heartstring core, 10¾ inches, a powerful wand for one with hidden depths and an aptitude to learn."

Hermione took the wand in her little hands and flicked it. A few sparks flew out, but she felt some sort of resistance — a bit like trying to run in sand. She said so.

"Hmmm. Yes. Were you not a Parselmouth, I think this would be the one, but… oh, yes, a Parselmouth after all, why not? I was keeping it for… but here, try this one."

Ollivander had drawn a dusty-looking wand from the back of the farthest shelf.

"Holly and Phoenix Feather… Unusual combination, but a powerful wand indeed… the last Parselmouth that came to my shop bought the wand's brother, you see, so I wouldn't be surprised…"

"Brothers? How can wands be 'brothers'?" asked Hermione derisively. "Wands are man-made wooden objects!" she explained further, simultaneously fighting back laughter and patronizing the old wizard.

"Miss Granger", said the man, obviously ruffled. "Two wands are said to be 'brothers' when they share cores taken from the same magical creature."

"Oh…" apologized Hermione. "I'm sorry. I'll try it then."

She took the wand and tried to give it a wave. Instead of sparkles, little bolts flew off the tip of the wand and it began to smoke a bit.

"Oh, dear me, no, no, not at all", muttered Ollivander, snatching the wand away and placing it back in its native drawer, looking a tad disappointed.

Three wands later, however, she obtained a working wand, of walnut and dragon heartstring, 11 inches. It was still not a perfect match (Ollivander lamented he had no Horned Serpent horns in stock), but it was acceptable and still the best out of the set. Besides, Hermione did have other things to do today (mostly reading) and it was getting late. She decided she could buy a new wand later on if this one really didn't do, and by then it'd be a nice plus to have the first wand as a spare.

Hermione politely waved goodbye to Ollivander and got out to find her Professor had turned into a cat and was contemplating a mouse with obvious interest.

"Oh, Professor, it would be terribly nice of you to change back", Hermione whispered (she didn't want to be seen talking to a cat if it turned out she was mistaken and this wasn't Minerva McGonagall).

She was saved the embarrassment when McGonagall reluctantly let go of the rodent and shifted back into a middle-aged Scottish woman.

"So. I trust you have purchased a fitting wand?"

"Oh yes, it was very interesting. And now, could you take me home? I have quite a bit of background reading to do."

"Fine. Now, let's test your memory, young witch. Do you remember the way to the Leaky Cauldron from here?"

"Of course, Professor, but I really would like to go home early, and my legs are rather tired… Couldn't we Apparate?"

Conversations with snakes had taught Hermione that there was nothing to be gained in tiring yourself out when there was another, perfectly good, lazy option. Apparation — the method of magical teleportation McGonagall had mentioned in their little improvised Q&A the previous day — sounded absolutely wonderful in that respect.

"Well, I suppose I can take you in Side-Along Apparation, if you insist." said McGonagall.

Hermione gripped McGonagall's free hand — she had her other one holding the moving trolley — and in a cracking sound, she felt herself be twisted through space-time and then zapped back into conventional three-dimensional space in the back of the Granger family's garden. It was all very interesting, but Hermione nonetheless hurried to the bathroom immediately under McGonagall's covertly amused glare, the enchanted trolley full of books still trailing behind her obediently.

After two months spent frantically reading up on magic and on wizarding society, Hermione was dropped off at King's Cross Station by Daniel and Sally Granger. She quickly climbed into the Express, McGonagall's surprisingly resilient enchanted trolley (now loaded with her trunk rather than her books, though most of said books were of course contained in the trunk) on her heels, and found herself a free, comfy compartment about midway through the train.

As she set to work, skimming through Hogwarts, A History for the fourth time — it did seem the most relevant volume aside from her course-books proper — she only barely noticed the train start moving.

A little while later, a shy-looking boy peeked in.

"I'm sorry, my name's Neville and I lost my toad… Have you seen him?"

"No, I'm afraid not. What sort of toad is it?" she asked him back, her voice as bossy and practical as her father's.

"I don't know… About this big?" answered Neville, making vague, unhelpful gestures with his stubby little hands.

"I think we could use a Summoning Spell then. I read about it last week. Here", she said, correcting his grip on his wand, "the incantation is Accio. Ah-kee-oh, you see? And you swish your wand like this. Oh, and we'd better do it in the corridor."

Neville was dragged into the corridor and, under Hermione's firm stare (which rather reminded him of his gran's, scarily enough), he was forced to try out the spell. The slight whistle of a spell being cast was heard, but a few sparks flew off the tip of Neville's wand, just like what Hermione had seen on some of the mismatched wand she'd tried at Ollivanders. No toad appeared, either.

"Hmm. I'll try it", said Hermione confidently, inwardly upset that her idea hadn't worked. "Accio Neville's toad!"

This time, all signs pointed to the spell having been accurately cast, but again nothing happened.

"Well, I suppose he's out of range, or restrained. We'll just have to go through the whole train" Hermione said, again covering up her frustration.

The first compartment they tried had green leather-covered seats and was inhabited by three rude boys. Their leader was a pale, blonde-haired little wizard with a pointed chin and a sour expression. He'd asked for her last name before she'd even finished her question, and, after she'd refused, consequently refused to acknowledge her presence any further.

Others were more polite, but not particularly more helpful for it. In the end they got to the very last compartment in the whole train, which housed two boys — one of whom bore a lightning scar on his forehead.

"I'm sorry, but have you seen a toad? Neville here has lost one, and we suspect it may be crouching somewhere in a compartment."

"No, sorry", said the other boy, a thin red-head whom Hermione thought looked rather cute. "Neville already came by earlier."

Hermione glared at Neville, who helplessly shrugged. Nothing needed to be said, his look clearly conveyed: I did try to tell you, but you just stepped right past me and opened the door, because you're bossy and overconfident. At least, that's how Hermione interpreted it. To escape the uncomfortable realization that she'd made a mistake yet again, the witch latched onto the first conversation topic she found. The boys had their magic wands in and, the red-head pointing his in the direction of a shabby-looking rat on his lap.

"Oh, are you doing magic?" she babbled. "I've only tried a few spells for the moment — I did have so many things to do — read and learn — I know all of my course-books by heart of course, the important parts anyway, I hope it will be enough —"

At the stares she received from the three other children, Hermione finally realized that she'd slipped again.

"Oh. Hm." she finished awkwardly. "So my name is Hermione Granger. What are yours?"

"I'm Ron Weasley," said the read-head. "And that's Harry."

"Harry Potter", Harry completed.

"Oh! I did think it was you, but it would have been terribly rude to ask, wouldn't it? Would you have minded? Do…"

"Oh, no it's okay", Harry interrupted, trying to stop Hermione before she went off again and choked to death because she forgot to take a breath.

"Ah, uh, alright. …What spell were you trying?"

"A charm to turn Scabbers' fur yellow. It doesn't really work though."

"Oh, a color-changing charm? That's rather advanced, you know, for someone who's never been to Hogwarts. Of course, I'm one to talk — I did try that Summoning Charm — but there's value in ambition, my father always says so; so you see, you don't have to feel bad if it doesn't work. In fact, I'd rather say it was clever of you to try. It's always good to test one's limits, and that is what my mother always says. Not about magic, of course — she's not a witch, you know, nobody is in my family, Professor McGonagall's visit was ever such a surprise…"

And so the conversation went on throughout the trip, going from babble to babble and topic to topic. Ron and Harry appeared to think she was a bit weird, but Hermione was used to it, and the longer they were together, the more the boys began to see her as the right, endearing kind of weird, which was about as good as a know-it-all who spoke to snakes could hope for, in Hermione's opinion. Not that she'd mentioned that particular talent to her new friends yet, but then, she had just met them today. It could wait.