A/N: This story has been rummaging around in my head for awhile now, and I'm very excited to get it out. Don't worry; I'm not abandoning my other story, I was just so eager to start this one! If you like the chapter and the concept, please review!
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Hermione Jean Granger woke up on the 19th of September full of excitement. She was turning 17 years old today and that meant she was an adult in the Wizarding World. She would now be able to perform magic outside of the confines of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and learn how to apparate. Hermione was the oldest student in her year and the first to come of age. As she dressed and readied for the day, her roommates, Lavender Brown and Pavarti Patil, wished her a Happy Birthday. She smiled and headed down to the Great Hall with them. Upon her arrival at the Great Hall, she instantly spotted balloons at the Gryffindor table. Beaming she found her best friends, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, as well as Ginny Weasley, Neville Longbottom and even Ravenclaw Luna Lovegood beckoning her to the breakfast table. "Happy Birthday Hermione!" They shouted. Harry jumped up and hugged her tightly. He was her best friend and the closest thing she'd had to a little brother. Then Ron came and hugged her followed by Ginny. They sat her down and started passing out presents.
"Here Hermione," said Ginny, "this is from Ron and me." It was a token to Flourish and Blotts to exchange for a book worth one galleon. Hermione smiled and thanked them gratefully, knowing Ron and Ginny could become embarrassed knowing Harry often bought her more extravagant presents.
Neville and Luna gave Hermione a beautiful basket of chocolate from Honeydukes that would keep her cravings satisfied for almost the whole of the term.
"Thank you, Neville and Luna!" Hermione smiled, "All of my favourites. Everyone help yourselves to something."
Next, Harry jumped up exuberantly. "My turn Hermione!" Harry pulled a small box out of his robes and enlarged it. The box was humongous, decorated in burgundy paper with golden ribbon.
"Harry…" said Hermione warily, "you did not have to…"
"Hush Hermione. You're my best friend and only sister. I have more than enough to share with you."
Hermione gingerly opened the present, wanting to preserve the wrappings. When she lifted the cover off the box, she gasped and covered her mouth with her hand.
"Harry! You should not have!" She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him on the cheek. Harry and Hermione had an unspoken arrangement. While the Weasley family would always be dear to them, they were already a family. Harry and Hermione adopted each other long ago. They both understood the magical and Muggle worlds and while Hermione had wonderful, loving parents, they were so separate from her life now. She and Harry would always be each other's family.
In the box, she found a beautiful set of silk forest green dress robes and three large tomes. The robes were tailored and well cut, the colour would most definitely bring out the golden flecks in her amber eyes. She scanned the covers of the books: Charms of Defense and Deterrence; Extraordinary Trials in History; and Magical Moral Perspective. Harry knew her so well. He understood her desire to study magical law and philosophy after Hogwarts, but he was also aware that she had a special gift for spells and charm work.
Harry blushed sheepishly, "well you're an adult now. A young woman needs some beautiful dress robes. Ginny helped me pick them out, and I had to get you some books!
After all the gifts were open, the group tucked into breakfast. The Owl Post soon arrived bearing additional packages. From Mrs Weasley, a fantastic care package of pies and cakes; her favourite tea and some rock cakes - that she would dispose of later - from Hagrid; and a small jewellery box from her parents. She opened it and found a golden oval locket embossed with a lion and her initials. She opened it and found a picture of her and her parents on one side and a picture of her, Ron and Harry on the other. Inside the box was a letter.
"Our dearest Hermione –
Happy 17th Birthday! It is so hard for us to comprehend that in the Wizarding World you are now an adult. You have flourished into a beautiful, brilliant and independent young woman and while we miss you often, we see how you have truly become the woman you were meant to be since going to Hogwarts.
Molly and Arthur wrote to us to tell us that it is customary for a witch to receive a locket as a wizard receives a watch when they come of age. I hope we have chosen well.
Stay safe this term. We will see you at Christmas. Please write often.
All our love,
Mum and Dad, xx."
Hermione had tears in her eyes. She knew her parents accepted her life as a witch, but she appreciated reading those words from them. Wiping her tears away, Harry passed her another letter addressed to her in bright purple ink.
"Miss Granger –
Happy 17th Birthday. Please come to my office at 7 pm. I like liquorice wands.
Albus Perceval Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
Headmaster, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry"
Hermione stared at the letter curiously. "Dumbledore wants to meet with me after dinner. What could that be about?"
"Dunno 'Mione. You're the first to come of age this year" shrugged Ron, "hopefully something cool though."
Harry took the short letter to read. Typically it was he who received messages from the Headmaster. "Licorice wands is the password by the way."
That evening, after dinner in the Great Hall, Hermione made her way to the gargoyle outside the Headmasters office. She gave the password, and the statue sprung open revealing a staircase. She ascended and knocked on the door. The door opened slightly, and she walked in tentatively. Sitting behind his desk, she found Professor Dumbledore smiling at her, his eyes twinkling. Sitting across from the Headmaster, she was surprised to see Professor Snape, the Potions Master turned Defense against the Dark Arts Professor, with a scowl on his face, avoiding her gaze.
"Miss Granger! Welcome my dear. Take the seat next to Severus. I'm sure you're curious to know why you've been summoned."
Hermione noticed that Professor Snape bristled at being addressed by his given name in front of a student.
Hermione nodded "yes sir. Normally Harry is the one summoned. I am not sure how exactly I can help you."
Snape scoffed at this "Do not underestimate yourself, Miss Granger. We all know you are the brains behind Potter's successes."
Hermione was shocked that he spoke, let alone that he had complimented her and was left gaping at him.
"Do close your mouth, Miss Granger," he sneered, "now you look like one of your dunderheaded friends."
Hermione closed her mouth as Dumbledore cleared his throat. "Yes well Miss Granger, Professor Snape is correct, to a point…" he shot a warning look at the younger man, "as you know, Harry has special lessons with me this year to plan for Voldemort's demise and the upcoming war. You are integral to my plans for Harry and the war effort, and you are the first of your class to come of age. Therefore It is my preference to have you join the Order of the Phoenix immediately so that you may train and garner knowledge to assist Harry. You, my dear, are his greatest asset."
Hermione was speechless as Dumbledore continued.
"Professor Snape has agreed to be your mentor and sponsor into the Order. We plan to have you inducted at the next meeting, and then you will set up a schedule with Professor Snape to receive extra instruction in duelling, potions, and occlumency. You will assist Professor Snape in brewing for the Order and the Hospital Wing as well. It goes without saying that your peers, not even Misters Potter and Weasley can know that you are in the Order."
Hermione regained the use of her voice, "won't it looks suspicious that I am spending so much time with Professor Snape?"
The dark wizard spoke this time, "we will say that you wish to become a Potions Mistress when you leave Hogwarts, and Professor Slughorn, in his advancing years, does not wish to take on an apprentice."
"But," Hermione interjected, "I hope to go to university and become a barrister after Hogwarts. Harry knows this. He bought me legal texts for my birthday today. That excuse won't work."
Severus Snape's eyebrows arched, surprised that this gifted witch, with powerful magic – not that he would tell her that – wanted to be something as muggle as a barrister. "Fine," he snapped, "Tell Potter that I need an assistant to help with potion making due to my workload for the Order and since you are the best student in Potions, the Headmaster has asked you to assist me."
"That will work," said Hermione.
"Excellent Miss Granger! I knew you would be keen to join the Order for the greater good", Dumbledore clapped his hands together, "please return to my office on Sunday evening at 8 pm for your first meeting."
With that Hermione took her leave from the Professors. In three days she would be a member of the Order of the Phoenix, Professor Snape was to tutor her privately, and she had to lie to her best friends about it. She sighed, held her head high and began the walk back to Gryffindor tower, rehearsing her story in her head for when the boys undoubtedly questioned her about the meeting she just left.
When Hermione left the Headmaster's office, Severus Snape rounded on him. "What the bloody hell are you thinking Albus?! Miss Granger is a child. You have no business inducting her into the Order until she has completed her education."
"Severus …" said Dumbledore, a tone of warning in his voice, "Miss Granger is integral to ending the war. I hope to defeat Tom before her education is completed. You know my time is limited. We must equip Harry now before I am gone. To do that we must also instruct Hermione. You cannot deny the girl is brilliant Severus. Train her for survival. If we do not end the war before June, you know they will become the most wanted wizard, and witch in Great Britain and nowhere will be safe for them."
"Fuck you, Albus," he seethed, "Fuck you for putting on that godforsaken ring and damning us all. You damn my soul by forcing me to … and you damn Potter and Granger by abandoning them as you go to your grave."
For the first time, Albus Dumbledore felt older than this 115 years. He had been impulsive and thoughtless when he put on that Horcrux, and it had cost the war effort dearly. He now had ten months to set the Golden Trio on the path of destroying the rest of the Horcruxes. He stared at the man he regarded as a son, the man who he had to condemn by ordering him to end his life and prayed that one day Severus would forgive him for everything.
"I will never quit saying I am sorry Severus, but unfortunately, what's done is done. We must do what we can with the time remaining to destroy Tom forever."