of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock,
Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Miss Granger,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on September 1. We await your owl by no later than July 31.
"Mum?" Hermione called softly from the front door. The letter, written in beautiful calligraphy on a strange, thick kind of paper, was clutched in her little hand.
"Yes darling?" her mother's voice came from the kitchen, followed by the sound of her dad cooking breakfast.
Hermione bent down to pick up the rest of the post, having been so excited to find her own name among the addresses that she had dropped the other letters. Slowly, her eyes not leaving the strange crest on the letter, she made her way to her parents.
"What's wrong, Hermione?" her father said, noticing his daughters preoccupation.
Wordlessly, Hermione handed the letter to her mother, who put down the teacup she was sipping from. Her father leaned interestedly over her shoulder to read the letter; both of them scowled.
"Is it real?" she asked her parents when they didn't speak. "Does it mean I'm a witch? And there is a real school I can go to?"
Her parents looked at each other sort of sadly, and her mother moved over to sit next to Hermione and put her arm around her shoulders.
"Oh Hermione," she said softly, consolingly. "No, I don't think it's real, I think it might be a joke that someone is playing on you."
Hermione fidgeted slightly, knowing what her mother said made sense but still not wanting to believe it. "I wouldn't have thought Beth and her minions would have been able to think up something like that," she muttered, naming the girl in her school who had picked on her for years.
Beth was the popular girl, the one with beautiful, soft gold hair and could control the entire playground even at the age of eleven. She had a little crowd of followers who went along with everything she said, even if what she said was stupid or wrong. Hermione tended to spend playtimes in the classroom, or the tiny little library of her school, even though she had read everything it had to offer, to avoid these other girls. Yet they would often catch up with her as she walked home from school, taunting her because of her teeth or her hair – they even called her 'Stranger Granger' because of the funny things that sometimes happened around her.
But perhaps mum was right, and Beth was behind this letter – she already thought Hermione was odd, so maybe this was a nasty way of saying she didn't belong, that she should be in a school for freaks instead.
"Hermione, are you okay?" her father asked, looking at disappointed face worriedly.
"I'm fine, I just thought a school of magic sounded really interesting." She tried to smile bravely. "I'm going to go get my book," she said, slipping off the kitchen chair.
She hurried to the lounge, where she had left the book on Egyptian Pharaohs that she had been reading the night before. As she made her way back to the kitchen, she heard her parents talking in muted voices. She paused to listen.
"I can't believe how detailed this is," her mother said, still rifling through the envelope. "There is an entire booklist – and look at this, a wand, a cauldron, dragon hide gloves …"
"It's such a cruel joke," her father said angrily – the angriest she had ever heard him. "I don't understand why these girls would do something like this to our little girl, let alone put that much effort into a stupid letter."
"It's obviously jealousy, she is so much cleverer than the rest of them put together," her mother said matter-of-factly.
Her father sighed. "You know, for a second while I was reading that letter I wanted it to be true."
"I think Hermione did too, you saw how her face fell when I said it was probably a joke." There was a slight silence, and then her mother folded the letter and put it in the pocket of her white dentist-uniform. "Let's not say anything more about it to her. If this Bethany girl keeps up with the nasty pranks we should talk to the school again."
Hermione saw her father nod, and decided it was time to come back into the kitchen. She clambered up onto one of the chairs and opened the big reference book on her lap to read while she ate, trying to pretend there was nothing wrong.
For the next few days Hermione found herself daydreaming about a school of magic despite herself – she wondered what the classes would have been like, whether they would learn to turn things into something else, or make objects fly. It certainly sounded a lot more interesting than Literacy or Mathematics, which she would have to do again when school started in September.
It was the middle of the summer holidays, nearing the end of July. Hermione loved the summer, since she was able to get away from Beth and her cronies for a few weeks and enjoy the freedom to read whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted.
Her parents had to work at the dentistry most days, so she would go to her grandparents house – her grandparents loved books just as much as she did, so her grandma would take her to the library in town everyday and they would sit in the little café with their books, quite content to while away the long, lazy days of summer this way.
Albus Dumbledore sat behind his desk, idly sucking a sherbet lemon as he waited for Severus to arrive; he had a favor to ask of the young professor and he knew that getting him to agree would be difficult.
There was a brisk knock on his office door at exactly eleven o'clock, and he called for him to enter.
"Right on time, Severus, as ever," he said jovially to the dark man who prowled into his office and folded himself into one of the chairs without being asked to be seated. "Would you care for a sherbet lemon?"
Snape pulled a disgusted face at the mention of the nasty, sticky sweets the headmaster favored. "You always ask me that Albus and my answer remains the same – certainly not."
"It's simply good manners to offer, my boy, even if I know you will refuse," he chuckled.
"Let's just get to the point, shall we?" the Potions Master said in a long suffering voice. "I have a batch of skel-grow brewing for Poppy, so I can't stay long."
"Very well," Albus said, uncovering a sheet of parchment from his desk. "This is regarding the new intake of first-years, as always there are one or two pupils that have not responded to our offer."
Snape narrowed his obsidian eyes at the Headmaster, knowing where this was going – it often fell to members of staff to visit potential first-years, explain that the letter wasn't a hoax and often even assist the student in buying their school supplies, particularly the muggle-borns who were unaware of the existence of magic.
"I fail to see what this has to do with me, Albus," he said, examining his long fingers, stained from his work in the lab. "Normally Minerva visits the families if there is a problem."
"Alas, Minerva is currently with her clan, it is my understanding that one of her nieces had recently had a baby," Dumbledore said, sounding like he was enjoying himself immensely.
"Still in the south of France, with his wife."
"Harvesting mandrake seedlings in Finland, she intends to add them to the second year curriculum."
"Merlin Albus, is there really no one else?" Snape asked, realising that he was the only Head of House left in the school.
"I'm afraid not, my boy." Albus smiled benignly in the face of Snape's scowl.
"Have you considered that sending me may well convince the students not to come?"
"I'm sure you will perform admirably Severus, I have complete faith in you."
Severus snarled under his breath, seeing no way out and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Fine, how many infernal first-years shall I have to visit?"
"Only two this year," Albus said, consulting his piece of parchment. "One is a muggle-born girl living in Hampshire, a Miss Hermione Granger and the other is someone whose circumstances you are already acquainted with -"
"No," Snape interrupted, his head jerking up to glare at the Headmaster. "No, I will not visit Harry Potter."
Dumbledore's twinkling eyes were uncharacteristically grave. "I believe his family is preventing him from coming, Severus."
"I don't care," he growled.
"Someone has to explain to him -"
"Then send someone else, or go yourself!" he snapped, losing his temper. "I will not go collect the Potter brat and if you did force me I doubt I could refrain from cursing Petunia Evans either."
Dumbledore sighed, "Perhaps you are right, I shall send someone else – perhaps Hagrid will want to go …" he mused.
"Even Hagrid would be better than me, Albus." He stood up to leave, still glaring at the old man. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a potion to tend to."
He had almost reached the door when Albus cleared his throat pointedly. "You still have to visit Miss Granger, Severus," he said, holding out a piece of parchment with her records written neatly out.
He silently turned, stalked back to the desk and snatched the parchment bad-temperedly from the Headmasters hand – he had hoped the old man had forgotten about the muggle-born girl.
Hermione sat under a tree in her front garden, her head bent over a thick tome on the Second World War she had got out of the library that afternoon with her grandma when she heard a familiar voice.
"Is this how you spend your summer, Hermy?" Beth called from across the street. Hermione tensed, but didn't look up from her book; she hadn't heard Beth and her little gang approaching, no doubt on their way back from the park or somewhere.
"Hey," Beth said, angry that she hadn't got a response. The group crossed the street to stand on the pavement outside Hermione's house. "I know bookworms don't have any friends, but it's polite to reply to someone if they talk to you."
"Leave me alone, Beth," Hermione muttered without looking up. The words in front of her were blurred slightly – she hated it when they said she had no friends, recognizing the truth in their insult.
"Leave me alone!" one of the girls imitated. "Poor Hermy with no friends." Despite the lack of eloquence in their insults, Hermione still felt their sting.
"Don't call me Hermy," she said, her buck-teeth gritted in annoyance.
"What are you reading, Hermy?" Beth asked, looking for more ammunition to taunt her with.
"None of your business," she said, looking back down at the pages of her book – which was suddenly snatched from her lap.
"Looks dull," Beth said with relish, mauling the pages as she flicked though. "If your brain gets any bigger I think your head will explode."
"At least I have a brain," Hermione retorted, standing up, her eyes on the book in Beth's pudgy hands.
Beth's eyes flashed angrily, and she ripped a page out of the book in response to her taunt.
"Don't do that!" Hermione shouted, horrified that she would tear up a library book. She leapt forward to pull the book out of her hands, but was blocked by two of the other girls.
"I think you should apologise to me, Hermy," she said vindictively, tearing out several more pages.
"Give it back!" Hermione cried, struggling against the other girls.
"Say sorry!" Beth ordered, now dropping the pages she had already torn into the dirt.
"No, give it back!" Hermione yelled – and felt something shift inside her. The remains of the book flew out of Beth's hands and into her own, surprising her just as much as the other girls.
"How did you do that?" Beth demanded, backing away from her.
Hermione didn't reply, she merely held the book close to her chest, wondering the same thing herself.
"You made that happen, didn't you? You're a freak Hermy – Stranger Granger!" she spat. The other girls took up the taunt as well, and one of them pushed Hermione hard so that she fell to her knees among the torn pages of her book.
Someone cleared their throat pointedly, making the girls fall instantly silent.
Hermione looked up - and saw the most frightening person she had ever seen.
Beth and her gang took one look at the tall, dark haired man, dressed entirely in black and scowling murderously at the group of girls, before they quickly hurried away, casting fearful looks over their shoulders.
The man was wearing strange, billowy clothing, looking almost like a vicar. He had very pale skin, a hooked nose and a nasty sneer playing around the corners of his mouth as he watched the girls run away.
Hermione got to her feet, eyeing the stranger warily with her book and the torn pages clutched protectively to her chest. She was very aware that this was the sort of man that her parents would warn her not to talk to, or take sweets from.
He looked down at her, making her freeze as his eyes met hers – his eyes were black as coal and gave her the strangest feeling, almost like he could see right inside her mind.
"Miss Granger, I presume?" he asked, his voice slow, deep and resonant.
Hermione nodded, unable to speak.
"My name is Professor Snape and I work at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry," he said.
"The magic school?" Hermione squeaked, remembering the letter she had received several days ago. Her voice sounded very quiet and high-pitched compared to the Professor.
"Indeed," he said, looking at her with intense concentration. "I have come to speak to you and your parents. Perhaps we could go inside the house," he suggested, gesturing with one very pale hand, the voluminous sleeve of his clothing reminding her of wings.
She nodded timidly and led the way up the garden path. Pushing open the door, she called for her parents, who were in the kitchen washing up the plates from dinner, while Professor Snape hovered in the doorway behind her.
Her father appeared in the kitchen doorway, wiping his hands on a tea-towel. Seeing the dark, imposing man at his front door, standing right behind his little girl, he hurried forward and pulled Hermione safely behind him.
"Who the hell are you?"
Severus Snape sighed inwardly as Mr Granger pulled his daughter out of the way – he knew this would happen, but as always Dumbledore had refused to listen. He simply didn't have the sort of demeanour that people warmed too, and now no doubt Miss Granger's parents would refuse to send her to a school where a man like him was teaching.
"I am Professor Snape," he repeated, extending his hand for the muggle to shake.
"A Professor?" Mr Granger questioned, looking a little surprised. By now a woman had joined him from the kitchen, her hands resting on her daughters shoulders and eyeing him with obvious curiosity.
"He said he's from the magic school," Hermione said from behind her father – both of her parents blinked in surprise.
"Miss Granger is correct, I have come from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and we wish to offer her a place."
"We thought that letter was a joke, a cruel prank from some girls at Hermione's school," Mrs Granger said, her face perfectly balanced between interest and suspicion.
"I can prove that is not the case," Snape said smoothly, still standing in the open doorway. "Might I come in, to discuss this matter further?"
The Grangers glanced at each other, and then nodded. They stepped aside for him to enter the house and guiding him into a living room. They offered him a chair, which he gladly took while they sat on the sofa facing him. Hermione was knelt on the floor, spreading the pages of her ruined book on the small coffee table with a mournful expression.
"So you're saying that magic actually exists and you are from a school that teaches it?" Mr Granger asked, his voice coloured by skepticism.
Snape smirked, rather appreciating the muggles forthright, straight to the point approach to the situation.
"Yes, that is exactly what I am saying," he said. To help prove himself, he drew his wand and pointed it at the remains of Hermione's book.
"Reparo," he muttered, and watched as the torn pages reattached themselves to the broken binding, rather enjoying the Grangers stunned expressions at the magic he had performed.
Hermione picked up the book and ran a hand along the repaired binding almost reverently, looking both shocked and pleased at the repaired book – the girl was obviously a bibliophile.
"How did you – wait, silly question," Mrs Granger said, recovering first. "How have we never heard of magic existing before?"
He arched an eyebrow at them. "You have heard of magic existing before, however you have chosen not to believe it."
Flicking his wand again, he conjured four cups of tea – again amusing himself with their shocked expressions. Taking one of the cups, he settled back in the chair to explain. "The Wizarding community is one that has existed in secret harmony to the muggle community for thousands of years, muggles being people without magic. We form a complete society with our own history, laws, social etiquette, currency, schools, shops, newspapers and even our own Ministry."
"Then how am I a witch?" Hermione asked, her head tilted to one side.
"If my parents are … muggles, did you say?" Snape nodded, and she continued. "If my parents are muggles and don't have magic, why am I a witch?"
"Interesting question, and one that I cannot answer fully. In most cases a witch or wizard is born from a magical family, however you are part of a rare phenomena called 'muggle-borns', meaning that magic has developed inside you despite your heritage."
"So is it like genetics? Is magic a mutation of the genes?" Hermione asked, looking fascinated.
"Like I said, Miss Granger, I cannot answer you fully," Snape said, rather reluctantly impressed by her questions. "We do not know how or why muggle-borns possess magic."
"Is magic the reason why odd things sometimes happen around me?" Hermione asked, a little uncomfortably – Snape guessed that, from the spectacle he had witnessed outside, she had endured plenty of bullying due to her talents.
"By odd things, I assume you mean events such as making the book fly outside?" he asked, knowing the answer.
She nodded. "There were other things too," she said, looking relieved that this was all finally being explained to her. "Lights can turn on and off, objects move and once I made a teachers hair turn green when he was being mean to me."
"All signs of burgeoning magic," he said. "The magic you have been performing is the wandless, instinctive magic as a child. When you come to Hogwarts you will have a more disciplined and through approach, being able to do magic consciously and with intent as opposed to it being uncontrolled."
"What exactly do you teach at Hogwarts, Professor Snape?" Mr Granger asked, seeming to have recovered from his demonstration of magic earlier.
"Me personally, or the curriculum in general?" Snape asked, sipping from his tea.
"You personally," Mr Granger clarified.
"I teach Potions," he said simply.
"Potions?" Hermione repeated, her eyes shining eagerly. "So magic is not just waving a wand and saying a word?"
"Merlin, no," Snape said, his eyes shifting to the excited child. "There are many different branches of magic, and not all of them involving a wand. While foolish wand-waving can be found in subjects such as Charms or Transfiguration, you shall also learn other forms of magic, such as Herbology, that being the study of magical plants, as well as History of Magic, Potions and Astronomy."
"So what else can -?"
"Miss Granger, perhaps if you allow me to speak uninterrupted you will have your questions answered anyway," he said, a tiny bit of his normal snarky demeanor slipping though his forced politeness.
"Sorry sir," she said, her excitement not having been much dampened in her chastising.
He went on to explain the core-curriculum subjects at Hogwarts and what each of them entailed, before detailing the examination process in the Wizarding world and which extra subjects were available to take at OWL year.
He could see the questions forming in Hermione's eyes, but she held herself back, drinking in every word he was saying. Her eyes went round as galleons as he described the Castle itself, and her mouth formed a little o when he described the Great Hall and the Library.
When he had finished speaking her parents questioned him about the facilities at Hogwarts – they were mildly distressed to find out that Hogwarts was a boarding school, but eagerly asked him what the food was like, the grounds, the dormitories, things like that.
By the time he had finished answering their questions about the school dusk was falling and the four teacups stood empty on the coffee table. Mrs Granger mentioned the booklist that had arrived with the letter, asking how they could purchase the books.
"Obviously they cannot be bought in the muggle world, so Miss Granger will have to visit Diagon Alley, the Wizarding shops" he told them, internally groaning at what he knew would be coming next.
"And how will we get there?" Mr Granger asked.
"Unfortunately it can only be accessed by those with Magic, so if you are amenable I shall accompany Miss Granger to buy her books and school supplies," he said, cursing inwardly – Dumbledore would have his head if he didn't accompany the girl, since that too was part of the duty in visiting the muggle families. No doubt Miss Granger would be questioning him about magic the entire time – even though her questions were surprisingly intelligent.
Mr Granger nodded at his words, and Snape was mildly surprised not to even sense a twinge of reluctance in the muggle mans mind – it appeared that he had won over this muggle family, a strange thought considering the frosty greeting he had received from them earlier.
"When might you be available to take her?" Mrs Granger asked politely.
"Tomorrow, I shall arrive at eleven o'clock sharp," he said, rising to take his leave. "Be sure to give Miss Granger money, since I shall also open a Gringotts account with her in order to convert it to the Wizarding currency." He inclined his head to the Grangers. "I shall let myself out, good evening to you."
Hermione looked like she was still positively bursting with questions, since most of the conversation had been dictated by the adults. She followed him to the door. "Professor Snape, I wanted to ask -"
"Miss Granger, you will have all of tomorrow to ply me with as many questions as you like, are you sure it cannot wait?"
She smiled slightly. "I was just wondering how we will get to Diagon Alley," she said – again, an interesting question, since they would have to travel by magical means and she was ignorant of all of them.
He smirked, imagining the poor girls reaction to floo-powder or apparition. "Like I said, Miss Granger, you shall have to wait and see tomorrow."
"Good night then, Professor," she said, looking for all the world like she wanted tomorrow to come as quickly as possible.
Snape nodded briskly to her and stalked down the garden path – he could sense the child eyes still on him and, knowing he was in full sight of her, spun on the spot to disapparate.
That was bound to have impressed her.
Diagon Alley coming soon ...
I'm very very tempted to continue this into a longer, multi-chaptered fic – going through their friendship developing during Hermione's years at Hogwarts while still keeping it as cannon as possible. For instance, their interaction would cover Hermione turning herself into a cat in 2nd year, her timeturner in 3rd … things like that – so what are your thoughts?
REVIEW – just press that little button there, even if you just want to tell me what your favourite subject at Hogwarts would be …?