So once again I start a new story, after popular demand. Millions Thousands A couple of people suggested this product, yet again, of my random odds and sods thread on Sufficient Velocity required fleshing out. I decided why not? What's the worst that could happen? Another story I randomly update as the whim takes me, that's what. And as a result, here we are.

Hermione Granger learns this one simple trick they don't want her to know. Or something like that. And things go a bit sideways...

"How does it do that, Daddy?"

Michael Granger looked to where his seven, almost eight year old daughter was peering into the display cabinet, her face pressed against the glass and her bushy brown hair surrounding her in a halo, then through the glass to what she was gazing at. The display was of a large number of electronic toys and such things, the one that she was specifically peering at being some sort of small robot with little lights blinking all over it that was walking along a track. When it reached the end, it stopped, turned around, waved at them, then walked back. Over and over, the little mechanism happily stomped along, small motors and gears visible through the mostly transparent plastic casing.

"How do you mean, dear?" he asked, squatting down next to her to put his head next to hers.

The girl pointed at the thing. "Those lights are really tiny and not light bulbs. And how does it know to turn around at the end, instead of falling off the track?" She kept watching intently. "Is is magic?"

He chuckled tolerantly. "No, it's not magic, Hermione. It's science. Or in this case, electronics. The lights are called LEDs, and that robot has a really small computer in it which is making it move like that."

"A computer?" she echoed, glancing at him, then turning back to the cabinet. "Like our one at home?"

"Indeed, like that one, yes," he replied.

"But our computer is a great big thing and he's ever so much smaller. How does it fit?"

He put his hand on her back and smiled as she watched, her expression intent and curious. "Electronic technology is getting better and smaller all the time. When I was your age, a computer like ours would have filled a room. Now it fits on a desk. By the time you're my age it will probably go in your pocket." She nodded slowly, listening while still watching. "The computer inside our friend here is much simpler, though, so even now it's very small indeed. You see that little green thing in his chest, with all the shiny bits on?" He indicated the printed circuit board which could be made out through the transparent plastic. "That's the electronic circuit that makes him go."

"How interesting," she commented, the remark making him grin. His daughter had an oddly formal vocabulary at times, as well as knowing a lot more words than most eight year old children did. But then she was firmly in the gifted category, which they had the paperwork to prove. Her IQ was so high it put her well into the top fraction of a percent, which was a double-edged gift at times. She unfortunately found that most of her peers were not all that friendly for various reasons, and that had left her rather lonely.

He, and his wife, worried that she might not enjoy much of her schooling if this was the case as she got older. Hopefully she'd meet other gifted children who could keep up with her incessant desire to know how everything worked and why. Or at least teachers who understood that sort of thing. At her age, most children were much more interested in running around outside, or playing with toys, or other such activities, whereas Hermione would normally prefer sitting down with a good book.

And often picking holes in it, he'd noticed with amusement. Especially fiction, although she wasn't above finding apparent logical gaps in textbooks and becoming annoyed that someone had made a mistake. Sometimes she was actually correct, although mostly it was due to things she hadn't learned yet. Which in turn invariably led her to looking up those things so she could understand where she'd gone wrong.

Michael was fairly convinced his little girl was going to end up in the scientific arena in the end…

Hermione kept watching for another few minutes, while he stood up and looked at his wife as she approached, a couple of boxes in her hands. He walked over to join her, keeping an eye on the girl as he did, and said in a low voice, "Find anything nice?"

Helen sighed a little. "She is a very difficult person to buy gifts for," she said with a long-suffering smile at him. "Her toys need to be educational. And her idea of that is… a bit more involved than most toy companies seem to think about."

He snorted with humor as he looked at the things she was holding. One was a complex mechanical puzzle, the sort of thing that needed half a dozen small pins and bars to be put in the right order one after another to disassemble or reassemble it, and the other was a card game that the box claimed taught interesting facts about nature and science. 'For ages 10 to 14!' it proudly proclaimed.

Taking the box from her as she held it up, he read the back, then shook his head. "You realize she'll play it once, memorize all the cards, and then never touch it again, I hope?"

His wife sighed again. "I know, I know, but what else can we find? It's her birthday tomorrow and we've rejected everything so far."

Michael looked around. They were in Hamley's, the biggest and oldest toy shop on the planet, and in four hours of wandering around, they couldn't find anything that either of them thought one eight year old girl would like. He pointed this out to a rather resigned wife.

"The downside of having a daughter smarter than either of us. Probably put together," she mumbled, shaking her head. "Do you have any ideas?"

He started to say no, then glanced back at Hermione, who was now peering very intently at another little electronic toy, watching the lights on it spin and blink while apparently tracing the action in the air with a small finger. "Hmm. I might have, actually," he replied with a small smile. "You look after her, I'll be right back." He walked rapidly off, trying to remember on which floor he'd seen what he was after.

It took him about twenty minutes, but he found his goal, and smiled broadly. "That should do it. I hope," he said as he took the box off the shelf and headed for the nearest till.

Half an hour later they were outside and heading for a bite to eat, Hermione casting curious glances at the large package under his arm but being polite enough not to prod him about it. His wife had been a little startled when he'd told her very quietly what it was, but after thinking it over, had agreed it was probably the best solution to the problem of what do you get a possibly-genius-level small girl for her birthday.

Hermione peeled the tape away from one end of the gift in her hands, having already deduced it was a book. She slid the paper off and looked at the thing, smiling a little. "Thank you, Granny," she said as she admired the hardcover copy of Mort, the latest book by Terry Pratchett. She had all the rest of Mr Pratchett's so far published books and found them very funny as well as thought provoking, even though her mother had said more than once that they weren't really meant for children. She'd pointed out that some of them were, it said so on the cover, and regardless, any book she could read was one she wanted to read. Age didn't come into it.

Her father, once he'd stopped laughing at her lecturing tone, had shaken his head at her mother who was looking resigned again, then agreed.

"I know you like this sort of thing, Hermione, and your mother said you hadn't read it yet," her grandmother replied with a smile. "Hopefully it won't be too advanced for you."

The girl raised an eyebrow at the much older woman even as her father started snickering. "I think I can probably manage," she said calmly. Her grandmother, who seemed to be suppressing a laugh of her own, merely nodded and picked up her teacup.

Putting the book down on the stack of several others that she'd received, Hermione turned her attention to the biggest present. It was obviously what her father had bought in Hamley's, although she had no idea what that was. Intrigued she picked it up and gently shook it, listening to the rattling and shuffling sound from inside.

"You could just open it, you know," her father remarked tolerantly.

She grinned at him. "I'm trying to work it out from the sound," she replied.

"You probably won't," he chuckled.

After another thirty seconds, she decided he was right, and put it down on her lap, before starting to remove the gaily colored paper wrapping it. A brightly colored cardboard box was revealed, with a number of pictures on the top that made her pause for several seconds in surprise.

"Ooooohhh," she breathed as she read the lid. "250 electronics projects kit?"

"It was the biggest one I could find," her father said, as she looked at her parents, then back at the box. "We thought that because you were interested in that little robot toy, you might want to learn about how that sort of thing works. I think this will probably let you learn all sorts of things about electronics. In the future that sort of knowledge is going to be even more important than it is now, after all."

"It's hardly a girl's toy, though, is it?" her grandmother commented with a slightly confused look.

"I doubt our Hermione is all that interested in girly toys, Mom," her father replied with a laugh. "She never has been up to this point at least."

Hermione shook her head a little. She'd removed the lid and was now staring at the contents of the big box. The lower part was a heavy duty cardboard structure containing one large compartment and several smaller ones on the side. Those were full of differently colored pieces of insulated wire with bare ends, each color a different length, all in plastic bags to keep them together. The large part of the box had a whole series of color coded rectangles with symbols at the top, and in the middle of each one was a small component. She studied these, wondering what they all were and what they did. Each little section had a number of small vertical springs sticking up out of the cardboard, and it only took her a moment's thought to realize that the springs could be used to connect the wires to the parts. At the top right of this large section was a clip that you could fit some batteries into, like in a radio.

Feeling rather excited, she picked up the A4 manual which was sitting on top of all this and opened it, scanning the introduction. "Wow," she mumbled after reading the first page. "You can build a radio, and a thing to make sounds, and all sorts of other stuff."

"I've seen those before a couple of times, one of my friends had one years ago but it wasn't anything like as complicated as that is," her father remarked from where he and the other two adults were watching her with smiles. "You use those little bits of wire to connect all the parts up according to the instructions and you can make all manner of interesting devices. It's a good introduction to electronics, I think. And if you enjoy it, we can certainly find more books on the subject."

Hermione nodded absently, turning the page again and continuing reading. This was something genuinely new and not at all anything she'd thought of learning about before, but it looked fascinating.

Almost like magic, she thought with an internal giggle.

After a few more seconds, she put the thick instruction book down, hopped to her feet, and hugged her parents. "Thank you, I love it," she said happily.

"I hope you have a lot of fun with it, dear," her mother replied. "Shall we have your cake now?"

"Ooh, cake! Yes, let's do that." She grinned broadly. She didn't get cake all that often but her parents always said they could make an exception on birthdays. One just had to brush one's teeth very well afterwards.

Carefully bending the little spring sideways so the coils separated a bit, Hermione pushed the final wire into place and released the pressure. The spring clamped the wire firmly and she gently tugged on it to be sure. "Good, that's done… Now all I need to do is connect this battery and…" The girl plugged a nine volt battery into the clip, then beamed when a loud tone sounded from the speaker in her electronics kit. Carefully adjusting the variable capacitor, she listened to the pitch change with satisfaction. The oscillator circuit worked perfectly, so she'd followed the instructions correctly.

Nodding to herself, she unplugged the battery, then moved a couple of wires, before reconnecting it. The pitch this time was much higher, but again followed the movement of the control. Turning the volume down she picked up the manual and carefully read the description of how the circuit worked, having to resort to the dictionary a couple of times to figure out the meaning of certain terms, but in the end she thought she had a decent understanding of what was going on.

Smiling, she turned the page and inspected the next project. It was rather more complex, but looked easy enough. Unplugging the battery once more she spent ten minutes removing all the wiring before she began again, occasionally nibbling on the last of the birthday cake.

She was rather pleased with how her birthday had worked out, and she still had three books left to read.

"Are you sure this is the one you want, Hermione?" Michael asked, as his daughter put the box on the counter. She nodded.

"It's a nice one, and just the right size," she replied happily. The clerk on the other side of the counter was watching them with a slightly amused expression, as he had been the entire time Hermione had been wandering around the shop.

"They're starting young these days aren't they?" he commented to Michael with a wink at Hermione, who huffed slightly but smiled as well. Michael put his hand on his daughter's hair and ruffled it.

"That might be my fault," he admitted. "I came up with the idea of an electronics project kit for her last birthday, and it seemed to strike a nerve. She's been learning about electronics ever since, for the last eight months. And now she wants something more complicated."

The man laughed a little. "That's how it tends to go, yeah. Although not usually quite that young. I was about twelve when I got one of those things. Good fun, they are."

Hermione nodded vigorously. "I want to learn how to solder now." She pointed at the soldering iron in its box. "I think that will do nicely."

"It's quite a good one, although if you stick with the hobby you'll want something a little more powerful sooner or later," the fellow replied tolerantly. "Temperature controlled, that sort of thing. But this is fine for a beginner. Remember that the end gets very hot indeed. Don't pick it up by that end."

Hermione put her hands on her hips and sniffed. "Who would pick up a soldering iron by the hot end?" she queried briskly.

He laughed and showed her his right hand. She and Michael studied the scar on his index finger that he pointed to with the other one. "It happens sometimes if you get too involved and forget, trust me," he said, smiling a little. "Hurts like the dickens."

Slightly wide-eyed, Hermione nodded. "I should imagine it would. I'll try not to do that."

"Best if you don't," he agreed. "All right, then, let's see what you have here." The clerk started ringing up their purchases. "Remember that this solder is made of lead as well as tin," he warned. "Don't eat anything while you're using it, and wash your hands after, OK?"

The girl nodded seriously. "I shall do that, thank you."

Looking like he was suppressing a smile, the man kept working. When he'd finished ringing up, Michael looked at the total and sighed very faintly, but pulled out his credit card. It wasn't much in the grand scheme of things and his little girl did seem to be enjoying herself. He made a mental note to make damn sure that there was nothing flammable where she was going to work, just in case. "Forty six pounds and eleven pence, please," the clerk said.

Handing over his card, Michael waited for the transaction to finish, pocketed the receipt, and picked up the bag full of tools and a couple of basic starter electronic kits. "Thanks," he said.

"You're welcome, and Maplin thanks you for your business," the other man replied with a smile. "Come back any time."

"I suspect you haven't seen the last of us," Michael said over his shoulder as he and his daughter left the shop, hearing a laugh from behind him.

"Have fun!" the guy shouted before the door closed.

Hermione waved back, then they headed for the car park. She looked rather pleased with the shopping trip, and excited to get home.

"Ow." Muttering to herself, Hermione sucked her finger for a moment, then looked at it. A tiny pinprick of blood showed where the resistor lead had poked her. They were awfully sharp when you cut them with the wire cutters, she ruefully thought. And she'd also discovered the hard way that it was vitally important to make certain that none of the little bits of cut off wire ended up on the carpet, because they always seemed to then end up in the bottom of your feet.

That really hurt.

Going back to what she was doing, she carefully snipped off the last of the excess wire, then put the offcut into the bag that had contained some of the parts in the latest kit she was making. It was now half full of bits of wire and insulation stripped off the various leads. Putting the tool back into the box she kept them in, she picked up the finished circuit board and admired it. Gently straightening a couple of transistors from where they'd been a little bent when she put the board upside down on her desk, she inspected the project for anything missing or shorted out. Satisfied that all was in order, she nodded happily and dug around for a couple of AA batteries. Snapping them into the holder, she did one final inspection then flipped the switch to on.

There was a short pause, followed by a nasty crackling sound and a horrible smell. One of the two transistors emitted a puff of smoke, making her yelp and switch the circuit off again as fast as possible.

Unfortunately she was far too late. The smoke slowly dissipated into her bedroom as she stared in dismay at the damage, a ring of blackened goo surrounding the former transistor which was blatantly obviously no longer among the living.

"Oh no," the girl whispered, cautiously touching the dead component, finding it was cold again, then picking the board up once more and turning it over and over in her hand. "What did I do wrong?" She spent nearly twenty minutes going over the board part by part, checking them against the instructions and the circuit diagram, but could find no error at all.

"Why did it go wrong?" she shouted, finally at her wits end and very annoyed at failing after two solid evening's work. She glared at the faulty kit, her eyes a little wet from frustration more than anything else.

Those eyes widened in shock when a moment later the board shot off the desk and smacked into the wall on the other side of the room.

"Wha… what happened?" she finally said, looking between the empty spot on the desk and the ding in the plaster where the corner of the PCB had hit it, before the thing dropped to the floor. Suspiciously staring at the now-still board, she finally got to her feet and walked across the bedroom, kneeling down on the carpet and staring cautiously at the thing in case it suddenly attacked her.

First it burned up, then it flew away? What was going on?

Hermione was nothing if not observant, and she was completely sure this was a real thing. There was no string attached to the board, no one was playing a trick on her, it really had just jumped off the desk and shot off like it was in a hurry to be somewhere else.

Which was, as far as she knew, impossible.

On the other hand, she'd seen it with her own eyes, and therefore it was possible. Because it had happened.

Raising her eyes she reached out and felt the small gash in the plaster, then looked at her fingertip which had plaster dust and fragments of buttercup yellow paint on it. Bending down, she studied the printed circuit board on the floor, and the corner of it which also had the same materials on. Several of the capacitors had bend sideways from the impact as well. All the evidence proved that what she'd seen happen had definitely happened.

Hermione might only be a month from her ninth birthday, but she was absolutely sure she was old enough to be able to distinguish reality from imagination. And she certainly hadn't thrown her broken project across the room, because that would have been immature even in the face of frustration.

So what had happened?

The girl sat there on the floor for nearly fifteen minutes, thinking hard, before she finally picked the kit up and took it back to the desk to see if she could find out what had gone wrong with it. Working out how it had suddenly developed a requirement to leave at high speed she put off for later consideration as it was making her head ache.

"Daddy, can people move things with their minds?"

Michael looked up from his morning reading of the Guardian to see his daughter looking at him across the dining table. She seemed serious. About to answer flippantly, he caught the look in Helen's eyes and instead thought for a moment.

"I… don't think so, dear," he replied after a moment. "I've never seen any evidence of that, certainly. But there are stories, and some people think it's possible."

"Oh." Hermione pondered the answer. "Stories?" she asked a moment or two later.

"Well, it's a staple of fantasy books, and some more serious science fiction," he said with a smile. "It's called telekinesis, from the word tele meaning something happening over distance, like in television, and the other part meaning..."

"Motion, or moving," she finished for him, looking intrigued.

"Exactly. Motion at a distance." He nodded. "But whether it actually exists or is just a concept from fiction I couldn't tell you."

The girl slowly nodded, then went back to eating her porridge. She had an expression that showed she was working on a problem in her head, something he was more than familiar with. Glancing at Helen he shrugged a little, his wife shaking her head slightly, before he returned to reading about the latest idiocy of Thatcher's government.

Very cautiously, Hermione flicked the switch while leaning a little back from the desk, just in case. Nothing happened other than a small red LED lighting up. She smiled, pleased that her work in replacing the transistor that had gone off pop was successful. Having spent some time trying to figure out what she'd done wrong she'd finally come to the conclusion that she hadn't done anything wrong and the only explanation was that the transistor had been faulty. Luckily she'd found another BC548 in one of the older projects she'd built, and had managed to remove it from the circuit board and swap it for the bad one without damaging anything.

The result showed she'd been right. Which was gratifying. Gently turning the volume knob up a little, she picked up a pencil and poked several of the tiny little DIP switches that lay in several banks, jumping slightly when she got a weird sound out of the speaker without warning. "It works!" she said with excitement, turning a couple of the knobs and listening to the sounds change to something even odder. It was the most advanced kit she'd built so far, based around a sound effects chip, and it was rather fun to play with.

She spent a happy couple of hours flipping little switches and turning controls, writing down any combination that produced a particularly interesting sound. At one point she got a very convincing burping noise that made her collapse in a giggle fit, pressing the button that set it off over and over until she tired of it. Another setting made something a lot like a steam train, which was fun.

Eventually she turned it off and moved to her bed, lying on it and smiling to herself. Electronics was really interesting, and she was definitely beginning to understand how some of it worked. She needed some better books though, the kits while fun didn't explain all that much of the theory behind them, only how to build them and roughly how they worked.

It was her birthday in a week, so she decided that asking for some good electronics books this time would be a sensible idea.

That settled, she turned her mind to the other thing that had been occupying part of it for the last month. Looking across the room her eyes settled on the small mark on the wall near the door. It was proof that something really had happened.

And the only thing she could think of, that she'd been able to come up with to explain it, was something her father claimed was a concept out of a fantasy book.

That or simply magic, but she felt that if magic really existed, it would be a little more obvious. It also seemed even less likely than telekinesis. She'd found a couple of her father's science fiction books which mentioned the idea, after he'd commented on her question, and they appeared to match what she'd seen pretty well.

And when she'd started thinking about it, she found she could recall a few times before when something strange had happened that might also have been the same thing. Nothing as obvious as what had happened that time, but looking back, it was a better explanation than anything else she could come up with. A glass that had mysteriously jumped off a table when she was seven, and upset about how some of the children in school had been nasty to her. Her mother had thought it was the vibrations of a lorry going past in the street that had done it.

Or a window that had slammed shut when she'd been five and tripped over the vacuum cleaner hose in the living room and banged her head. The wind had done it, her father had told her. It was possible, certainly, but…

She went over every incident that might match what she'd seen. There was no way to prove it, but she was getting fairly convinced that at least some of them weren't what she'd thought they were. All stuff that could be explained by perfectly normal events, and had been, right up until she'd watched a three inch square piece of electronics motivate itself across her bedroom fast enough to dent the plaster, right in front of her eyes.

That was not a perfectly normal event no matter how you looked at it.

So what had caused it to happen? Was it something she did? Or was it something else that did it? If so, what? And why? And how for that matter?

Lying back on the pillows she closed her eyes and thought hard, yet again. She'd been over this process many times but so far had not come to any conclusions, at least testable ones, and she'd always been told that ideas had to be testable to be proper science.

If she assumed that the event with the kit was in fact not the first time something like that had happened, merely the first one she could not explain in any other way, what was common to all the other times and this one too? Her presence was obvious. Her parents had been around for the other occasions, but she'd been alone the last time, as they'd been downstairs getting dinner ready. The time of day had been different each time, the time of year had also been different, the weather wasn't the same… Hermione went over every variable she could come up with and finally decided yet again that the only one that she was certain was the same in all the odd events she could remember was in fact her.

So probably it was something she was doing. It certainly wasn't something she was doing on purpose though. Which was bizarre, how could you fling something across the room with your mind by accident?

Sighing the girl got off the bed and trotted off to find an apple or something. That might help her think. Then she went into the garden to sit under the oak tree at the side and ponder the problem some more, as it was a nice day for September. Shortly she was leaning on the old tree and nibbling her apple as she tried, yet again, to come up with an explanation for something that defied being explained.

By the time she finished her apple, she was no closer to an answer, which was immensely frustrating. She knew she was bright, and she normally was far ahead in her schoolwork, which sometimes caused problems with the other children but there was nothing she could really do about that. Was she supposed to pretend she was stupid or something? But right now she felt like Jimmy Clovis, who was as thick as mince. She just couldn't figure it out.

Feeling very irritated she tossed the apple core away, knowing she was going to have to pick it up but right now not in the mood. Her eyes widened as instead of plopping into the grass, the thing instead turned at right angles six feet from her and went straight up!

Hermione gazed upwards in disbelief, seeing no sign of the apple core, then looked around with a baffled feeling. What on earth?

Getting up she walked over to where the piece of fruit had decided gravity was optional and stared at the ground. It looked perfectly normal. Scratching her head she looked around, then up again, just in time to receive the core between the eyes as it made a reappearance. Yelping in surprise she fell over, then felt her forehead which was sticky and covered in little bits of apple.

"What happened?" she said out loud, completely confused. "How did that…" She found herself unable to vocalize her thoughts and just dropped her head to the grass and stared up at the clouds, trying to understand.

She was now absolutely positive that something funny was going on. Twice now, right in front of her, something had done the impossible and gone against everything she'd been taught was true. There was no doubt about it. But how?

Again, she was alone, and that had to mean the common factor was her. But she hadn't tried to make an apple core fly, it had just done it. All she'd done was get angry and throw it…

Her eyes slowly widened as a daft idea hit her out of the blue.

She got angry. Frustration boiled over and she lost her temper. And when that project PCB flew across the room, she'd been frustrated then too because of the bad transistor. Thinking back on the other times she'd seen something strange happen, each of them was also associated with her being angry, or upset. Was that it? Did she make things happen when she was in a bit of a mood? How? Why?

And if that was the case, could she do it on purpose? Without being angry, since that seemed like a bad idea, and far too close to turning to the Dark Side of the Force, as that silly film put it.

The girl briefly grinned, recalling how much her father loved Star Wars and how he got all upset when she pointed out all the plot holes. Then she went back to thinking.

Maybe it was the force?

No. That was silly. But then that film was another example of what she was considering, again fictional, but it showed that the concept wasn't a new one. Did she have some sort of telekinetic ability for real, or was she somehow imagining everything?

Reaching up she wiped her brow, then studied the apple pulp on her finger, even tasting it to be sure. No, that certainly wasn't a figment of her imagination. It had happened, and now she was all sticky.

Sitting up, Hermione looked around, then settled on an acorn she found in the grass. Picking it up she held it out on her palm and stared hard at it, concentrating. "Move," she commanded.

Nothing at all happened.

Frowning, she kept glaring at the obstinate seed, trying to make it fly away, or jump up and down, or do anything other than just sit there. After nearly ten minutes of effort, causing her to even hold her breath and force her will at the thing, she was no closer to her goal. Possibly she really was imagining it all?

"This is silly!" she finally snapped to herself, annoyed at her failure. "Why won't it work when I want it to?" The girl gave the acorn in her palm a filthy look as she huffed, then squeaked in shock when without warning it rocketed away, bouncing off the living room window twenty feet from her with a loud clonk. Her mother's inquiring face appeared moments later, peering out to see what had caused the sound, and Hermione waved a little guiltily at her. The older woman gave her a look for a few seconds, then waved back before going off to do whatever she'd been doing.

Hermione herself let out the breath she'd been holding and grinned like a lunatic once her mother was no longer in sight. She'd done it. Somehow. And her mother had heard it, which proved beyond doubt that it was a real thing and not some waking dream.

Now all she had to do was work out how she'd done it and what she'd actually done in the first place. How hard could that be?

Quite hard, it turned out.

But, crucially, not impossibly so.

"Happy birthday, sweetie," Helen said, smiling at her daughter as she passed over a present. Her husband did likewise, as did his mother who had visited once more.

"Thank you," the now nine year old girl replied politely to them all, looking pleased. Helen wished she could have a proper party with other children her own age, but that wish had died a horrible death on her seventh when none of the people invited bothered to even respond.

Hermione was, sadly in one sense, too mature for her age. And the other children seemed to realize this, which manifested in many ways, ranging from ignoring her to actively bullying the poor girl. Which in turn left her feeling that other children weren't worth the bother, which was understandable even if possibly excessive. Helen worried she'd grow up very lonely, and hoped that one day she'd meet people her own age who could keep up with her. The girl was fearsomely intelligent although she still lacked the experience of age, which would come in time as it always did.

On the other hand, once she'd more or less given up on her peers, she'd gone through a fairly short period of depression before apparently deciding that she had better things to do, and just got on with her life. Which manifested in reading even more voraciously, and over the last year delving into her new hobby of electronics. Helen was a little surprised that she'd stuck with the subject, but Michael had been right, or possibly lucky, in finding something she could sink her intellectual teeth into.

Whatever else their daughter was, she was certainly not someone who gave up on a problem just because it was hard. If anything that pushed her onward even more effectively, with the exception of dealing with her peer group. Helen wondered if she was destined to be an engineer of some sort, as she certainly seemed to have the right sort of mind for that type of work. She was undoubtedly going to end up in some academic pursuit. And recently she'd seemed even happier than usual, so she didn't appear to be having any real trouble with her young life.

Now, Hermione started unwrapping her presents, as she always did doing so carefully and with thought. The one from Nancy, her grandmother, was as usual a book, and as had become tradition over the last four years, she got the latest Terry Pratchett one. Hermione loved his books, as for that matter did Helen herself and her husband. She admired the cover of Sourcery, before turning to her grandmother and saying, "Brilliant. Thank you very much, Granny."

"You're more than welcome, Hermione. I hope you enjoy it."

"I will, I'm sure." Putting it to one side, she moved onto the next present, Helen's one. It was a book that her husband had suggested after some research and went with what he'd got their daughter. Peeling the paper back Hermione revealed a large format paperback book with a silver cover. Her eyes widened as she pulled it out and read the title out loud.

"The Student Manual for the Art of Electronics, second edition," the girl said with excitement. Nancy looked at it, then at Helen, seeming a bit taken aback, but Hermione was clearly pleased.

"Isn't that the sort of thing more suited for someone in higher education? Hermione is nine, Helen."

Hermione herself made a slightly amused huffing sound. "Honestly, Granny, I'm not thick. I'm sure I can learn a lot from this. People are always saying on telly that you have to start young if you want to make something of yourself, after all."

Michael started chortling and Nancy sighed faintly. "You are one of a kind, my girl," she said with resignation.

With a cheeky grin that lit up her face, Hermione nodded happily. "I do try, yes," she said firmly, causing Helen to giggle. Nancy chuckled and patted her hand.

"You do, indeed. Well, I hope you can make good use of that book. I'm sure I couldn't make heads or tails of it. I can barely change a fuse in a plug."

"No, you get me to do it for you," Michael laughed. "Open my one, Hermione."

The last present was larger than the rest, being a box about a foot square and half that deep. Hermione dug into it, opening the top to reveal a now-familiar silver cover. Reaching in she pulled out a much, much thicker hardback book, which was large enough to deserve the word tome being applied. "Wow!" the girl said with an impressed look. "The Art of Electronics, second edition."

"Be careful with that one, it's quite expensive," her father cautioned as she opened the book and flipped through it. "But Nigel at Maplin, your friend there, said it was more or less the best book there is on the subject." They'd been back to that shop quite a few times in the last couple of months, as it was only just down the road anyway and seemed to have a very helpful staff member. "I suspect even you will take a while to read it. And understand it."

"Thanks, daddy," Hermione said after closing the book and putting it down gently next to the box. She looked inside the latter again, smiling at the collection of odds and ends. "More tools, some more solder, lots of components… even a multimeter!"

"He said you'd need one sooner or later and recommended that as a starter model," Michael commented as she pulled out a smaller box and inspected the description on the back. "Hopefully it'll do what you need. Out of my field, I mostly do teeth." He grinned as she giggled.

"This is all brilliant. Thanks for everything," she said, looking around at them.

"Enjoy it, and learn from it," Helen advised. "If you end up wanting to study it as a career, you're off to a good start." She sighed melodramatically, her hand to her brow. "I had hoped you would follow in our footsteps, so we could pass on the Granger Dental Practice when we were old and infirm, but perhaps this is not to be."

"Oh, Mummy, don't be silly," the girl giggled. "You've got years to go before you're properly old." She looked mischievous as Helen gave her a narrow-eyed stare, which held until Michael burst out laughing his head off. Nancy was smiling, as she sipped her tea and enjoyed the whole thing.

When Hermione had finished inspecting her gifts, they all went back into the box and off to the sideboard, while they finished lunch. Having taken the afternoon off from work, they all went out after that to the zoo, as it was a nice day and everyone wanted to see the tigers.

Turning the page, Hermione carefully read the beginning to chapter 3, Field effect transistors. She found some of the concepts in the previous chapters rather tricky, but in conjunction with the Student Manual companion work, she was beginning to get a reasonable grasp on the principles involved. She made a mental note to visit the library and get some books on maths which she thought was probably required to properly understand some of the equations in this one, but for now she could read the chapter and think about what she could understand.

Turning pages, she kept going, occasionally stopping to pick up a pencil and try a couple of exercises in her notebook. Eventually she reached the end of the chapter and decided she'd had enough for now, and needed to let her mind go over the things she'd read and make sense of them. There was no hurry after all.

Putting a bookmark on the page, she closed the heavy book and put it down, then scratched her nose for a moment. Paying a visit to the bathroom was next on her list of tasks that needed doing, followed by running down to the kitchen, asking her mother when dinner would be ready, sneaking a couple of apples, then returning to her bedroom and closing the door.

Biting into one apple, she put the other one on her desk, then sat on the bed cross-legged and looked at the fruit. When she'd finished the one in her hand she put the core into the bin next to the bed, wiped her hands on her jeans, and concentrated.

"Up…" she whispered, staring unblinkingly at the innocent apple four feet away and trying to summon up the odd feeling inside her that she'd slowly become aware of in the last couple of months. At first it had only been present when she was angry, although it had taken her some time to realize that what she was feeling wasn't just anger but something quite different. When her experiments in making herself annoyed had slowly begun to produce actual results, she'd then tried to get the same effect while keeping her mind calm and controlled.

It turned out to be very, very hard, but as she watched the apple twitch, then very slowly lift into the air, she thought that it had also turned out to be possible. Still hard, true, but getting easier each time.

The young girl kept concentrating but couldn't prevent a massive grin crossing her face as the hovering fruit slowly turned in place, then as slowly flipped end over end. Getting the thing to fly had almost been the easy part. It was getting it to fly at speeds not so high it splattered on the ceiling that had been the really difficult challenge. Her first experiments had resulted in a broken window pane, several bits of apple all over the room, a very upset crow when she'd made sure the window was open the next time and it hadn't ducked quickly enough, and some sharp words from her mother about being more careful with her tools. She'd blamed the window on slipping with a screwdriver and accidentally throwing it, because until she could properly do what she was learning to do, she didn't want to tell anyone about it.

It was her own secret, something she could do that other people couldn't, and she felt it needed to be perfect before she let her parents in on it. Hermione didn't like doing a bad job and embarrassing herself.

If something was going to be done at all it was going to be done correctly in her opinion.

Hermione, eyes locked on the floating apple, slowly put her hand out and held it palm up, then ever so carefully guided the fruit to hang in the air directly above it. Feeling a slight headache coming on she got it positioned perfectly, then stopped doing what she was doing and grinned when the apple dropped neatly into her hand. She was tired in some hard to explain manner, as if what she'd managed was taking a lot out of her, but it wasn't really a physical tiredness.

Whatever mysterious energy she was somehow manipulating was easily exhausted, she'd found during her experiments. She seemed to have slightly more of it available each time, but so far couldn't keep the apple floating for more than about thirty seconds no matter how hard she tried. And it had taken a lot of effort to get this far in her attempt to teach herself practical telekinesis.

It was strange, though. Fine manipulation like she'd just done was harder by far than firing the apple through the window like it came out of a gun, but surely the amount of power required for the latter task was more than for the former? She bit into the apple as she pondered the question. She knew that energy couldn't be produced from nothing, she'd learned enough about science to understand that, so whatever was powering this process had to have some sort of source. The girl had no idea what that source was, except that it replenished itself over a period of time. She knew she was close to exhausted for the moment as far as moving things with her mind went, but give it a couple of hours and she could do it again. Each time it was easier, and she could do it for a little longer, but it still ran down.

Pondering the problem she finished the second apple then dropped the core into the bin next to the first one, before flopping back on the bed with her hair a halo around her head as she tried to make sense of it all. She'd read quite a lot of science fiction and fantasy books over the years, and more since her father had answered that question at breakfast a while ago, and she was more and more convinced that she had some sort of psionic gift, like in those old Lensman books, but she didn't need an alien wristwatch to pull the trick off.

Or maybe she was like those children from the television show she'd seen, the Tomorrow People? Was she going to be able to read people's minds and teleport around the place?

She considered the idea with interest. It sounded like something that might be useful, if nothing else, and probably fun. But that was a show on the telly, right? Like Doctor Who, it wasn't real. Hermione snorted a little at the idea of a container that was bigger on the inside, which was ridiculous. Fun, but silly.

No, she probably wasn't an alien, or some super advanced new sort of human. She could float an apple, not fly in space or something like that. On the other hand… she'd managed quite a change in only a couple of months of hard work. How far could she take it?

Closing her eyes after a little more thought, she quietly concentrated again, this time not trying to lift a fruit, but attempting to see if she could feel where the source of how she did it came from. Surely if she did have some sort of psionic power she should be able to sense that sort of thing? Breathing slowly and steadily, she did her best to get into the state of mind she managed when she was actively lifting something, then hold it right on the edge before anything happened.

Quite some time passed with her breathing the only sound other than a faint clatter of dishes and talking from downstairs. She tuned that out and tried to look inwards into her own mind. Eventually, she thought she was beginning to feel… something. Not anything she was used to, at all. And… she frowned very slightly. It wasn't coming from inside her, it felt more like something was surrounding her. Like there was a very faint current running over her entire body, as if she was floating in warm water and something was gently stirring it around…

She began to think she was right on the verge of understanding something really interesting, until there was a bang on her door that made her jump violently, it was so unexpected.

"Hermione! Dinner's on the table!"

The girl opened her eyes and felt her heart racing from the shock, the odd sensation she'd been chasing disappearing entirely without trace. Somewhat disappointed, she called back, "I'm coming, Daddy," then got up and straightened her clothes before heading downstairs for food.

She'd try again another time. Sooner or later she'd work it out.

It took her nearly two and a half months, in the end.

"Ohhhh… I see…" Hermione smiled slowly, her eyes shut, as she gently waved a hand over her stomach, not quite touching her body. She'd managed after many, many attempts to come up with a method to sense the mysterious energy she was somehow manipulating when she did her floating small objects trick, and as her first insight had suggested, it was almost entirely external to her. In her mind's eye she could almost see a faint glow surrounding her, extending off in all directions like a halo that followed the contours of her body. She could also feel how a tiny amount of the omnipresent field was going through her, and when she exerted her will in the right way, as if floating a pencil or something, that field changed detectably. Opening her eyes she looked around, then fixed them on the empty water glass on her bedside table. Reaching out with her mind she lifted it into the air, something that had become easy enough now it was second nature, then closed her eyes again while holding it in position.

Yes. She was right!

She could sense the energy surrounding her forming a little knot around the glass, which must be what was doing the lifting. That little knot was connected to her, somehow, and the power to do the work was going through her to the glass. Her body had to be taking in external energy, like a plant takes in solar radiation, somehow converting it and allowing her to directly manipulate it, then performing the action she desired. It was absolutely fascinating.

Not opening her eyes, she moved the glass up and down, 'watching' with the new sense she'd managed to invent, and was able to tell exactly where it was. When she pointed without looking then opened her eyes to check, sure enough she was pointing right at it.

"That's amazing," she whispered, moving her finger around and keeping the glass at a constant distance from it while grinning like an idiot. It was much easier now, her… reserves, or power handling capacity, or whatever it really was, had kept improving as she practiced. By now she could float something this size for ages without strain, and when she'd experimented, found she could make the entire bed lift an inch off the floor before the effort wore her out. Which seemed like quite a thing, although she didn't know how much it weighed. Quite a bit, certainly, she couldn't lift it with her hands.

Keeping the glass in the air over her chest, she looked around, then tried lifting a pair of pliers from her desk. It twitched a little, slid sideways, rose slightly into the air, then everything went wrong and both pliers and glass dropped. The glass bounced off her stomach and she grabbed at it while wincing a little. "Ow."

Well, that was the next thing to practice. Lifting one object was fairly easy now. Clearly she needed to work on more than one at the same time.

Nodding determinedly, she sat at her desk and put an array of a dozen new pencils on the surface in a neat line, then scowled at them. She was going to practice and practice until she could not only get all of them in the air at the same time, but could write her name with one of them while doing so.

That took another two months, but she did it.

Michael looked up from his book as Hermione came down the stairs carrying a notebook and a tape measure, with the sort of analytical expression he knew so well on her face. She came into the living room and looked out at the garden, then turned to him. "Daddy, how much does a car weigh?"

He studied her, wondering what on earth she was thinking about this time, but answered, "Perhaps a ton or so? Possibly twice that for a large car, or a van. Why do you want to know that?"

"It's for an experiment," she replied, writing something in her notebook.

He shook his head fondly. She was a great one for experiments, Hermione was. Definitely academic material, just like his father had been.

"What sort of experiment?" he asked.

"A secret one," she said, grinning at him for a moment. Then she left the room, heading for the kitchen. He looked after her, a little bemused, but in the end shrugged and went back to his book.

About five minutes later there was a distinct thump and the house very faintly shuddered. He looked around, puzzled, then got up and went to the front window to see if anyone had managed to drive into a tree or something. Not seeing anything, he decided it must have been his imagination and went to get some more coffee. While he was filling the kettle, his daughter came out of the garage writing in her notebook once more, kicking the door shut behind her and walking past without a word. Michael watched her go up the stairs and heard her bedroom door shut, then slowly opened the garage door and peered through it. His car was parked where he'd left it and nothing else was out of place.

Shrugging, and putting it down to Hermione being Hermione again, he closed the door, put the kettle on, and started the process of making some coffee.

"Five seconds. That's better, but not as good as I'd like," Hermione mumbled as she wrote some figures down. "And six inches this time. It's improved but it's so slow…" Dropping the pencil she stared at the lined page covered in her neat handwriting as she tried to think of something else she could try. Her telekinesis was getting steadily stronger and more precise with practice, which she did multiple times per day, but it seemed to be slowing down. At least as far as lifting capacity went. Perhaps there was an upper limit?

That seemed annoying if so. The strange energy she was manipulating was absolutely everywhere, and the amount required to lift an entire car was miniscule as far as she could determine. It seemed more likely that it was a power handling capacity issue, rather than an absolute limit on total energy. For whatever reason her body just couldn't push any more energy through it without somehow running out of something needed for the process to continue.

After thinking it over for a while, she shook her head and pushed the notebook to one side. She'd let it sit at the back of her mind for a while, that often seemed to work nicely, and concentrate on other things. Pulling one of the desk drawers open the girl reached inside and extracted a plastic box, which she opened and delved into. Soon she had a pile of parts on the desk and was setting up her soldering iron. The audio amplifier kit she was building for a present for her father was nearly done, and it would only need another couple of hours or so to finish soldering all the remaining parts in place. Then she could test the power supply, and if that worked, wire the entire thing up properly. Her mother had helped her buy the kit and even paid for the nice case it would go in, which she was looking forward to assembling everything into.

Turning on the little desk fan next to her and leaning over to open the window a little, so that the smoke from the solder flux would blow away outside, she set to work. Soon she was happily bending component leads and pushing them through holes in the PCB, before soldering the other side in place.

A little over an hour later she was halfway through fitting the second big MOSFET transistor for the output stage when she froze, her hands still, before very slowly lifting the three-legged device and staring at it with wide eyes.

"Oh," she breathed. "Of course."

After close to five minutes of very hard thinking, she made a few notes then got back to work. Her sudden insight could wait for now.

"Did you find everything you were looking for, sweetie?" Helen asked as Hermione came around the corner of the shelves holding a stack of at least a dozen books.

"I think so, mommy," the girl replied, looking down at her haul. Helen turned her head sideways to read the spines she could see. Two fantasy books, something called Shadowrun, which sounded like more of the same, a couple of science fiction books, one by Arthur C Clarke and one Isaac Asimov, and three textbooks. One of these was on advanced algebra, another was a secondary education primer on calculus, and the third one…

"Semiconductor Physics: An Introduction?" she read out loud, raising her eyebrows.

Hermione smiled. "I was surprised they had that one here. It's a very good library."

"Do you actually understand that sort of thing, Hermione?" Helen asked, more than a little surprised. Her daughter shrugged a little, then shifted the book stack as the top one started to slide off. Helen put her hand out and stopped it.

"Sort of? I'm only beginning but it's interesting. Electronics is fascinating."

"You certainly do seem to have stuck with it," Helen replied, pleased. The young girl was definitely invested in her hobby, and seemed likely to keep at it. Which was a little unusual at her age, but gratifying. And would probably stand her in good stead in later years. She was teaching herself far more than she'd ever learn at school, Helen was sure. At times she wondered if it might not be better to take her out of school entirely and get tutors for her, but that was not only quite expensive, but would deprive her of the small amount of peer group social contact she had now. Not that she thought Hermione would care much about that.

She sighed inaudibly as she followed her daughter towards the librarian's desk to check out the books. At times she really wondered if the child was in any way going to grow up a well adjusted person. On the other hand, she was happy, did all her schoolwork and chores without complaint, and didn't seem to actually be missing out on anything other than having friends. There was still time for that, hopefully. She wasn't even ten yet, even though at times she sounded like she was about eighteen.

Fondly watching as Hermione chatted to the librarian, a rather forbidding old woman who for some reason had a soft spot for the girl that seemed almost unique to her, Helen wondered what her daughter would end up doing when she grew up. Doubtless something extraordinary, she felt.

Lying on her bed, her eyes shut, Hermione let her 'energy sense' which she was still trying to think of a better term for expand outwards. The tiny fluctuations in the omnipresent energy field surrounding her that marked walls, floors, people, and everything else were harder to interpret the further away they got, but she was definitely improving on that front too. By now she could feel where her parents were, and easily distinguish between them. Something about the distortions they left in the field was very distinctive. Pushing harder, she extended her sensing outside the house, feeling a small change moving across the lawn which she recognized as Mr Boots, the cat from next door, and a much tinier one zipping away from him that was probably a mouse. She could even feel the big oak tree swaying in the breeze, which made her smile.

Reaching out with her mind, she slid the desk drawer open, floated a pencil and her notebook out, closed the drawer again, and held her hands up to pluck both items out of the air. All with her eyes shut.

Opening them, she giggled at her abilities, then sat up. Flipping through the book she stopped on the last page with writing on, before tapping the end of the pencil on her lips while she thought. Eventually she started sketching a rough diagram.

When she'd finished, she looked at the result, corrected a few places, then nodded. "That should do it. I think. I hope."

The previous fifteen attempts hadn't worked, but perhaps sixteen times was the lucky number?

Fixing the shape of her drawing in her mind, she closed her eyes again to cut out extraneous information and started trying to assemble a very delicate set of immaterial structures in the energy field surrounding her. She'd long since realized that everything she did left a mark in that field, each one distinct, in a similar way that people and objects did simply by existing although somewhat altered from that. And some experimentation had shown that it was possible to make those marks stick around for much longer than she expected, by sort of tying them to the underlying field. She didn't have the right words to properly explain it yet, but she knew what she meant.

And that had led her to some interesting places when she thought about it. Her sudden glimpse of what might be possible a few weeks ago had left her determined to see if it was something she could pull off.

So now she kept gently prodding the field into the right shape, very delicately and carefully. The first few attempts at this had resulted in it suddenly collapsing and giving her the most ghastly headache, but she'd figured out a way around that in the end. The next problem had been that although she got the little warped field piece stable, it had immediately collapsed when she'd tried making it do what she intended. That had annoyed her quite a bit as she'd been sure she'd got it right.

Several more attempts in slightly differing ways had come much closer, but success still eluded her. Going back to her books she'd read everything again, made some more notes, thought very hard indeed about what she was doing wrong, and finally, hopefully, found the error in her process.

Eventually the little self-contained twist in the invisible energy field snapped into the correct shape all by itself when she prodded it one last time. Very cautiously relaxing her hold on it, she smiled when it stayed put.

Opening her eyes, she looked at where her construction was, but as she expected couldn't see anything at all. Waving a hand through that volume didn't do anything either, which was what she'd thought would be the case.

"All right. So far so good," the girl said under her breath. "But will it work?"

She looked around, then down at her notebook. Picking up the half-used pencil she considered it before nodding. It would do. Hermione leaned forward and put the pencil on the bed in front of her crossed legs, kept her eyes on it, and very carefully lifted it into the air telekinetically. It floated up a foot off the covers in a vertical orientation, point up. Monitoring how much effort it was taking to keep it there, she closed her eyes and reached out to her mental construct, linking her telekinetic effort through it to the pencil.

Then she poked the control part of the construct.

The sharp crack that instantly resulted made her yip in shock and open her eyes while looking around quickly. The pencil was gone.

"What…?" Entirely baffled, she looked all over the bed, then leaned over both sides to check the carpet. Seeing nothing she hopped off it and wandered around, checking everywhere, but the pencil had completely vanished. "Where on earth is it hiding?" she complained, kneeling down and looking under the bed. No trace of the thing was visible.

Highly confused she stood up, looked around, shrugged, and lay on the bed to think about what had gone wrong. A moment or two passed then she frowned, her eyes fixed on a small black dot on the ceiling. Had that always been there? It was about the same size as…

The young girl put a hand over her mouth in surprise, then quickly got up, standing on the bed and peering carefully at the mark, which was about a foot from the ceiling light fixture. It wasn't a mark, it was a hole.

After thirty seconds of appalled inspection, she jumped to the carpet, yanked the door open, and rushed down the upstairs hallway to the cupboard the boiler lived in along with all the fresh towels. Opening it, she looked up at the trap door in the ceiling of the cupboard, which was the access to the loft. It didn't take her long to climb the ladder bolted to the rear of the cupboard and push the door open, then wriggle through it. She hadn't been up here for a couple of years, the last time being when she'd helped her father get the Christmas decorations down, and as she remembered, it was dark, dusty, and hot. Feeling around she found the switch and flicked it, the bulb in the ceiling coming on and rather badly illuminating a space filled with boxes and random odds and ends.

Shuffling across the dusty chipboard floor, Hermione kept her eyes on the surface, until she was in roughly the correct area to be above her bedroom. She looked around, pushing a couple of boxes to the side, and finally spotted what she was looking for.

There was a neat pencil-sized hole in the floor through which she could see a thin shaft light glowing in the dusty air.

"Oh dear," she whispered, rather startled although she'd been expecting it. Raising her eyes she looked directly above the hole and found the pencil, or about half of it at least. The rest was firmly embedded into the wooden beam holding the roof up. Only about two inches of yellow-painted pencil, and the rubber on the end, was visible. She stood up and prodded the thing, which didn't move at all. Then she tried pulling it out, finding that didn't work either.


That seemed an understatement, but she couldn't think of anything else that fitted.

"Hermione? What are you doing up here?"

She turned around to see her father peering quizzically at her through the loft hatch. Casually moving slightly so the rogue pencil was behind her, she smiled. "I was looking for a pencil."

"Don't you have enough of those in your desk?" he queried, seeming a bit confused. She tried not to have a guilty expression as she replied.

"It was a special one. But I couldn't really find it. I'll come down now."

"Make sure you wash your hands, it's filthy up here," he said, still looking a bit oddly at her. She nodded and his head vanished again. Turning around she grabbed the end of the pencil and broke it off flush with the beam, put that bit in her pocket, pushed one of the boxes she'd moved over the hole in the floor, and headed for the loft hatch.

One thing was certain; her idea worked. Possibly a little too well. She was going to have to work out how to turn it down a bit before she tried again.

When she went to bed an hour later she was smiling to herself.

Her success opened a lot of interesting possibilities.

Looking around very carefully, Hermione checked that no one was visible. Then she closed her eyes and checked again with her energy sense. No, the only people within a hundred feet were her mother in the front room, two neighbors three doors down who couldn't possibly see her over the fence, and another neighbor on the other side who felt like she was asleep.


She pushed through the bushes at the back of the garden, the hot early August afternoon causing her to sweat slightly, until she was at the rear fence. Beyond that was the golf course past the woods. She checked again that no one was around, then knelt down and crawled through the hole in the fence she'd found when she was about six and no one had fixed. No one else likely knew it was there, for that matter, since it was behind a big spiky bush in the garden, and on the other side under a pile of brambles that came right up to the top of the fence itself. However inside that, there was a cavity because of the lack of direct sunlight, and it only took her a moment to telekinetically move anything that was trying to poke her out of the way. She made her way through the undergrowth until she popped out into the woods a few yards further on, stood up, and brushed herself down.

Now she had to hurry. Her mother was busy doing paperwork for the dental practice, which Hermione knew from experience would keep her occupied for at least an hour, but she needed to be back home before she was missed or she'd get in trouble.

From previous walks with her parents through the woods she knew where she wanted to go, and headed directly there. Only a couple of minutes later she arrived in an overgrown clearing which contained half a dozen enormous boulders, which had obviously been there for a very long time, most likely dropped by a retreating glacier in the distant past. They were overgrown with moss and a couple of small trees had succeeded in finding purchase on one of them somehow. She approached the rocks and walked around them, studying them with both her eyes and her energy sense. The rocks were, it turned out, at least half buried in the ground, and therefore even larger than they looked.

"Perfect," the girl smiled.

Picking one that was a little apart from the rest, she examined it carefully. Pulling out a tape measure she took some readings, then wrote them down. That would let her work out the volume and from that a rough weight later.

Finished with that, she moved back to a safe distance, about forty feet, right to the edge of the clearing, then checked all around once last time. No one was anywhere near her as far as she could detect. Satisfied, she sat on a fallen tree trunk and started building her latest energy construct, which she'd modified quite a lot since that rather startling first successful test a few weeks ago.

The thing took shape quickly, practice having made it much easier, and she nodded when it stabilized. She was going to have to work out how to carry one around with her at some point, as right now they stayed where she put them and she had to take them apart to move them, but for now it would do. Focusing, she pushed a little thread of telekinetic energy into the control section, and linked the power channel between the energy field and her target boulder.

Then, with extreme care, she very, very slowly activated the thing.

The boulder shivered, emitted a deep rumbling groan that shook moss off the sides, and calmly lifted itself out of the ground. Wide-eyed despite herself, Hermione stared as it came up, and up, until the bottom fifteen feet which had been under the ground for who knows how long was hovering well clear of the ground. The top part was nearly as high as the trees were.

She gaped at it, then started grinning fit to burst. It worked, and it was taking no effort at all. In fact, she could probably keep this up all day, it was so easy.

Trying not to burst out laughing, she slowly lowered the thing back into the hole, before releasing it. Biting on her knuckles to keep the giggles in, she moved the power connection to the largest stone, which was easily twice the size, a lump of rock as large as their garage.

It lifted off the ground with no more effort than the first one had.

"Oh my god," she breathed in joyous incredulity. "I can't believe it works so well."

Checking her energy construct, she felt it was starting to fail, so clearly there was a limit, but it wasn't inherent in the idea, instead it was just down to the design of this specific implementation. She'd more or less expected that, to be honest. The amount of energy the thing was pulling from the surrounding field was still so small relative to the amount present that she could hardly tell the difference. Putting the rock down again, and making the ground shudder a little as she let it drop the last foot just for fun, she felt the ambient energy replenish itself. Whatever the ultimate source of the energy field was it was so large as to be essentially infinite, she suspected. Like gravity, or sunlight.

One day she'd work out what that source was but for now she was just ecstatic to have managed what she had so far.

And at least half of it was entirely down to her learning about electronics.

What she'd realized out of the blue was that the field was like electricity, in a sense, and it should be possible to do something similar to what a transistor did, to use a small control signal to change a much larger power signal. Her body couldn't handle that much power, for whatever reason that was, but she could make something that could.

It had been looking at that MOSFET in her father's amplifier that had sparked the insight. Field effect transistor. The name almost told her what to do.

So she did, and now she could make what for all intents and purposes was a telekinetic amplifier out of the very same energy that powered her telekinesis itself!

Feeling extremely pleased indeed, Hermione stood up, brushed some leaf mold off her rear, and headed home again. She had a lot to think about before she had to go back to school and be ignored by all the other children.

She wondered briefly if telekinetically turning Mark Hamilton upside down and shaking him when he tried pushing her into the ditch outside the school again was a good idea, but regretfully decided it probably wasn't.

Pity. He deserved it.

"Happy birthday, Hermione."

Michael watched as his daughter blew out the ten candles, then looked pleased. "Well done."

"Thank you," she replied with a smile.

The usual present giving was performed. As had become customary, his mother gave his daughter the latest Terry Pratchett book, as the man seemed a never ending source of excellent fiction and could be relied on to produce at least one a year. His wife and he had put their heads together, talked to Nigel at the shop, and bought her a number of more advanced project kits along with some more tools, parts, and three books on circuit design. Hermione seemed very satisfied with everything.

He watched her looking through a book on electronics that some college students would have found a bit daunting and smiled fondly. All this because she'd see that little robot toy a couple of year ago, and he'd had a bright idea. Apparently it had been a good bright idea, as she was certainly progressing in her hobby much better than even he had expected. And from what he'd seen, that had pushed her even harder towards academic excellence, and caused her to start learning about a lot of other subjects too. Her mathematical ability was better than his was by a long way for example.

Yes, she was going to go far, his Hermione was.

Once they'd had some cake, and lunch, then more cake, they all lay back to digest it. He was sipping his coffee and considering the idea of one last piece of cake, weighing it up against having to brush his teeth for the third time today, when Hermione cleared her throat.


The three adults looked at her, Helen and Nancy interrupting the low discussing they'd been having about the plot of a recent film they'd watched on the television.

Hermione swallowed a little, appearing uncharacteristically shy.

"What's the problem, dear?" he asked calmly.

"I…" She paused, then went on, "I discovered something strange."

"Strange?" Helen echoed.

"Very strange."

"What is it?" he queried curiously. She seemed almost worried for a moment, then visibly pulled herself together.

"Really very strange indeed," she added, before raising a hand and holding it out towards the stack of books she'd received earlier, which was sitting on the other side of the fireplace.

Everyone gaped as the top book gently floated across the room to land in her hand.

Michael, along with the other two, looked at the book she was holding, looked at her somewhat apologetic but somehow amused face, looked at where the book had been, then looked at each other. After a long few seconds, they turned in synchrony to stare at her again.

"Do you remember when I asked if people could move things with their minds, Daddy?" she asked in a quiet voice. "It turns out that you can if you know the trick to it."

Holding out her other hand she made a glass of water float off the table into it, then took a drink. He kept watching the glass for some time before jerkily looking around to meet Helen's eyes.

"Sorry. It was a surprise to me the first time too," Hermione said apologetically.

"Oh, lord," he finally sighed, dropping his head back onto the chair and closing his eyes. "Only you, Hermione. Only you."

Then they started talking.

For quite a while.