AN – this is a story about why Minerva McGonagall let Harry and Ron off so easily in the COS when Harry lied to her and told her they were going to visit Hermione.

DISCLAIMER – I own nothing but I will happily keep stealing JKR's characters (mwahahahaha)

It was dark times. Minerva McGonagall had to increase all of the castle security. Most of the children were happy with the arrangements – most too scared of whatever was attacking their friends to disagree. There were always some however and after just finding the Weasley twins and Lee Jordan unsupervised she was not at all happy to find Potter and Weasley about as well.

"Potter! Weasley! What are you doing?" the transfiguration professor snapped at them. she was angry no doubt about it, that was 5 Gryffindors in 10 minutes. Ron started stammering away about going to visit someone when Potter informed his head of house it was Hermione Granger they were going to visit.

"We haven't seen her for ages, professor, and we thought we'd sneak into the hospital wing, you know, and tell her the Mandrakes are nearly ready and, er, not to worry" Harry Said hurriedly.

Minerva stood staring at him. Memories of the conversations she had had with young Miss Granger at the start of last year came flooding back to her.

There was a knock on the wooden door of Minerva McGonagall's study.

"Come in" Minerva said sharply.

The door opened and in walked Hermione Granger.

"Oh it is you Miss Granger, How are you enjoying Hogwarts so far?" McGonagall said nicely giving one of her most prized first year students a rare smile.

"To be honest professor that is what I came to talk to you about. If it isn't a bad time of course?" Hermione added quickly

"No, no it is fine please have a seat." Hermione sat down timidly. "Now what seems to be bothering you Miss Granger?"

"Well professor it is kind of hard to explain. You see when I received my Hogwarts letter I was ecstatic, I was finally going to be with people who were just as…abnormal –"

"You are not abnormal Miss Granger" Minerva said kindly wondering where this conversation was going. She often had conversations like this with the muggle-borns in her house – sometimes even other houses if they liked her. But none the less it always worried her, even if she was pleased everytime one of them came to her with their problems, they trusted her.

"I know that now, what I mean is that I thought my life was going to be better because I would be with people who are…like me." Hermione pushed on. "I thought I would finally fit in, maybe even have friends," she said sadly

"Miss Granger, making new friends is never easy, sometimes all you need is time."

"I've been here for almost a two months professor! If I had known I was leaving my parents, my routines, and a place where I had no friends and was bullied, to come to another place, where I have no friends and am just as lonely if not more, I might not have come at all!" Hermione looked like she was about to cry now.

Minerva walked around her desk and kneeled on the ground in front of Hermione. "Friends take time Hermione. You are already becoming a very competent witch if I may say so and if anyone says anything nasty to you while you are here you come and see me and I will deal with it. I will not have my Gryffindors being pushed around!" Minerva said delicately.

"But professor what I think I'm trying to say is that I think I want to go home. At least there I can find comfort in my parents. There are people who care for me at home." Hermione replied letting the tears fall freely now.

Minerva reached up and hugged the small girl in her arms, after a brief moment she let her go again but held onto one of her hands while wiping away the tears with the other. "Never, be under the impression that no one at Hogwarts cares for you. You wouldn't believe how much I care for the students, I get to know them so well, better than their parents for some of them. I love all of the children who walk through these corridors – especially my Gryffindors, don't tell anyone I said that though" and she gave Hermione a wry smile, which was returned

"I wont professor" Hermione replied sincerely

"What I'm trying to say Hermione is that there is always someone at Hogwarts who cares for you, Never doubt that. I am going to ask you to please finish off this year and if you really do not enjoy it, then you may choose to return next year. It really isn't that horrible here Hermione and obviously I am not going to force you into anything but being a witch is extremely useful sometimes. So what do you say, will you stay until the end of the year, or would you rather go home on tomorrow, I will of course escort you." Minerva asked

Hermione sat and looked at her professor. "I think I can last until the end of the year, I am of course a Gryffindor." Hermione said quietly.

"I am glad Miss Granger. You go and have some dinner, it should be ready by now."

"Ok." Hermione stood and walked towards the door before stopping and turning around. "Thank-you, professor McGonagall." Minerva could see the sincerity in her eyes.

"Miss Granger? If anyone picks on you or you just feel like a chat, come and see me, my door is always open to such an intelligent witch."

Hermione smiled at her mentor, "Thanks, I will." And she walked out of the room closing the door behind her leaving Minerva to think about what had just taken place.

Minerva sat behind her desk again. She had always thought that Hermione was a confident, smart girl, but really she was a bit insecure and not really sure where she fit in, in this new world and society. Minerva promised herself to look out for the girl – at least from a distance, this world could do with a brave young witch like her. Because that was what she was, brave. Friendless, insecure but brave. She had wormed into a special place in Minerva's heart a place separate from the other students.

Minerva realized Harry and Ron were still staring at her waiting for her approval. She realised that she could not hold back the tears much longer.

"Of course, I realize that this has all been hardest on the friends of those who have been…I quite understand. Yes, Potter, of course you may visit Miss Granger. I will inform professor Binns where you've gone. Tell Madam Pomfrey I have given my permission." Minerva's eyes had started watering as Ron and Harry walked away.

Finally Hermione had friends she could remember the circumstances on how they had arrived at being friends and even though she knew Hermione had been lying to her about the troll but decided to let it go, hoping that Ron and Harry would at least be nice to her for getting them out of trouble, and she had been right. Now they showed their friend the kind of loyalty that was very rare in 12 year olds. Minerva didn't know how long she stood there blowing her nose. As she reminisced about the holidays in between the first year and this year when she personally delivered Hermione Granger's letter for the second year in a row.

The doorbell rang at the Granger household. Mrs. Granger rushed from the kitchen to the front door and was very surprised with who she found there.

"Hello?" Mrs. Granger said cautiously. She could hear Hermione coming down the stairs behind her.

"Good afternoon Mrs. Granger my name is Minerva McGonagall we met last year. I was wondering if Miss Granger was home?"

"Oh hello Professor McGonagall!" Hermione said arriving at the door. "Mum you remember Professor McGonagall don't you? She was the one who delivered my Hogwarts letter last year."

"Yes of course I do how could I forget." Emily Granger mumbled. She still hadn't forgiven them for taking her daughter away all year. Minerva McGonagall was all she ever talked about. "Why don't you come in?"

"Thank-you" Minerva said as she followed Hermione into the living room.

"What can we do for you Professor?" Hermione asked politely as her mother sat down next to her protectively.

"Actually Miss Granger I came to drop off your Hogwarts letter and to ask if you would be returning to Hogwarts?"

"Defiantly Professor!" Hermione said as her mother stood up and said something about checking on tea as she left the room.

As soon as Hermione's mother had left the room Minerva looked Hermione in the eyes. "Are you sure?"

"Yes Professor, I realised a few weeks ago that I do belong at Hogwarts with Harry and Ron, they have been such good friends to me. And you were right being a witch is pretty useful. When Harry, Ron and I were down in that dungeon we came across the devils snare and I realised that it needed light of course to let Ron and Harry go."

"Naturally"

"So Harry told me to light a fire and much to Ron's disgust I" Hermione started to blush now "Complained that there was no wood! Ron of course asked me if I was a witch or not but I realized that I like being a witch. It did come in useful."

Hermione blushed even more when she saw her professor smiling at her "I'm sorry Hermione but 'theres no wood' that's a classic." Finally Hermione joined into the laughed and both were thinking about Hermione's little slip up. Hermione's mother was looking through a crack in the door with jealously.

"I am glad you have made friends Hermione. Here is you Hogwarts letter" Minerva passed Hermione her letter. "I will see you on September the first Miss Granger." Minerva stood to leave and made her way to the front door when Mrs. Granger came out of the kitchen.

"Oh are you leaving already?"

"Yes I must be back at Hogwarts for other duties. Thank-you for your time."

"Wait" Emily said quickly when she saw Hermione run into the kitchen so she could get a knife and open the letter. "Is Hermione doing well at school, is she ok?"

"Miss Granger is one of the finest students I have ever had the pleasure of teaching" Minerva replied honestly.

"You are lucky you know." Emily said quietly. "Hermione respects you a lot, she always talks about you, I sometimes get the feeling you must know her better than I do! Hermione is a wonderful girl. Please promise me you will look after her? She gets a bit insecure and self conscience sometimes."

"Mrs. Granger I take good care of all my students. Your daughter is no exception. In fact after a little breakdown at the start of the year I have been watching her very closely. She is happy. She has friends and is respected amongst the student body. You have nothing to worry about." Minerva replied.

"Thank-you" Mrs. Granger said as her daughters substitute mother during the year apparated away.

All in all everything had turned out for the best other than the fact that Hermione Granger was now lying petrified in the hospital wing.

The end.

AN – did you like?? Please Review. stace