Hi, everyone! This is the first chapter of my NaNoWriMo attempt and as such, it's highly unedited (and probably awful to read, as well as inaccurate in places). I also need to warn you that at some of this story switches between tenses quite frequently, so I'm really sorry about that. Anyway, read on - hopefully, it's enjoyable. :)
Glisseo - Chapter 1
Scotland was bright today.
Hermione Granger slid out of her bed, falling to the floor with a muted thump. Moaning a little, she pulled herself up using the bed frame, ignoring the sudden light-headedness that resulted from this motion. Her head full of mush and dizziness, she fell back on to the bed, the red-gold bed sheets, the firm mattress. Thirty minutes until breakfast.
Another day of being a fifth-year. She quite liked it...and...even though her OWLs were coming up, she couldn't quite wait. More learning for her to undertake, more knowledge accumulating that she could use. Maybe she could help to defeat Voldemort, in her own small way. Maybe spell-making...something to help the hero of this war defeat this dark lord.
Once the dizziness subsided, she stood up again, unaided. She scuffled her way to the bathroom, got ready for breakfast, and got out the portrait hole. Ronald Weasley met her as she pulled herself out of the portrait hole. "Hey, Hermione," he acknowledged, nodding, and they walked off towards the Great Hall together.
As they tread through the corridors, the regulars met them along the way. Ms Norris was lurking around the coats of armour, as usual (Ron met her with a hefty kick); Sir Cadogan bowed to Hermione; as they traversed the stairs, the familiar non-existent step had Ron clumsily scrambling and on his knees to get back up (Peeves: "Ickle student fall; will ickle student bawl?"); and the warm smiles given to the two by the portraits of Hogwarts. It was a normal day, thus far.
The doors of the Great Hall were open and they hurried along, the smell of food never ceasing to engage their olfactory nerves and stir up their stomachs. With Ron smelling the air contentedly, Hermione smiled and slid smoothly into a spot at the Gryffindor table. Her smile met the hellos and heys and good mornings offered to her by people in her house group.
A quick gaze across the staff table produced no shock to her. The staff at the table were those who regularly sat at that table, so she turned away, her awareness finding nothing unusual about the teachers today. Content, she heaped a normal amount of food onto her plate and into her bowl. Sipping pumpkin juice ('Honestly, you'd think that they'd come up with something new eventually.'), she listened in to the conversation sating the table's gossip mongering traits.
"The latest edition of the Daily Prophet says that Dumbledore is losing his marbles!"
"Well, someone had better go find them for him, then. I'm sure he's very attached to his marbles."
"You do realise that 'losing your marbles' is an idiom, right?"
"What's an idiom?"
Sighing, she turned away and listened to some people from the older years. They were discussing something she hadn't heard of, so she naturally tuned into this. Knowledge was power, in her world, although sometimes she was scared of what she was sure she couldn't achieve.
"...what did you get in that advanced spell-making course, Katie?"
"Oh! I earned a Distinction. Of course, I wouldn't've minded a High Distinction, but as it's university level...oh, I really, honestly, don't mind. A Distinction." Katie Bell, the girl talking, sighed happily. Her friend, beside her, gasped. "That's wonderful!"
Hermione tilted her head. A university level spell-making course? That sounded rather interesting. She would be able to experience the art of spell-making before she went to wizarding university. It would be a great head start, and she could sate her thirst for empowering knowledge. Not to mention that if she did well, it would be an incredible ego boost. The main problem was how to get into the course. Who had referred this girl to it?
Never mind. She probably wouldn't even pass it. It was a university-level course, after all, and it must have been university-level for a reason.
"...so are you thinking of being a tutor for the next session?"
"Yes! Oh, and you know Harry Potter? He's going to be taking this course, too. I hope that I get him in my tutor group."
Hermione's ears pricked up at the mention of Harry Potter. She didn't actually know him in person – or at all, but for the fact that he'd allegedly defeated Voldemort while a baby. He was going to be taking this course? Interesting. Sure, he was in the same year as her, but he didn't attend show up in classes – Dumbledore and the staff tutored him privately, in the more advanced subjects...more advanced than NEWT level, so he had no reason to attend timetabled lessons. He was friends with those in higher years, not with his own year. His own house barely saw him, his whereabouts generally unknown. Doubtless, though, that he was being trained in magic by the best in their fields.
In short, he was a fucking teen prodigy.
His achievements made Hermione feel largely less intelligent than she had been praised by her classmates as. But she didn't mind. She would just pretend in her mind that he was an arrogant, full-of-himself prat, and that Dumbledore's fond speeches about his 'deadly, Voldemort-killing weapon' were simply spiels to increase morale throughout the school –
Thought she was largely sure that he was in some way pissed off by being called a weapon. It was damn dehumanising. Of course, she hadn't talked to him before, so she wouldn't know. Stop dwelling on him, she told herself. You don't care about him, but for the fact that he's going to defeat Voldemort.
A sudden clap shook her from her internal monologue, and she looked up at a smiling Dumbledore as the plates, bowls, cutlery and food disappeared. The entire student body also turned their eyes to him.
Yeah, Dumbledore's powerful aura kind of demanded that sort of attention.
"We must be very careful when we give advice to younger people: sometimes they follow it!" Upon delivering his message, a slightly mad glint appeared in his eye, and he turned away, seemingly satisfied.
The student body muttered. They muttered suspiciously, confusedly, dazedly. No doubt about it. The student body was confused.
Hermione turned to Ron, and he quirked an eyebrow at her. "What did you think that was about?" he asked amusedly. She shrugged, smiling back, pondering already what he meant by that. An interpretation flew to the forefront of her mind. Really, she should have been in Ravenclaw.
"Perhaps he's saying that we shouldn't follow the orders of those with authority blindly."
Her interpretation, heard to a few people along her table, raised a few nods and exclamations of, "You're brilliant, Hermione!" She bit her lip nervously, not quite liking being praised in front of so many people, yet enjoying the compliment. That was the dilemma – she loved the praise, but she knew that she had to continue to live up to it...or she would disappoint herself and not satisfy the assertions that others made of her intelligence.
Feeling paranoid that someone was figuratively burning their eyes into her side, she looked up, to meet the startlingly emerald-green gaze of a decidedly handsome Harry Potter, who was a few metres away (talking animatedly with the Transfiguration teacher at the staff table). Holding her emotionless gaze, Harry nodded in silent acknowledgement of her interpretation of Dumbledore's speech. Hermione saw muted anger and understanding in his eyes, as if her recent little speech had struck a chord in him. He cocked his head a little, studying her, then turned away to continue conversing with Professor McGonagall.
Fuck, he irked her.
People started to move out of the Great Hall and she followed, mentally readying herself for the scathing onslaught that she had no doubt Potions would bring. In her dormitory, she gathered the materials she needed for her Potions lesson, and once again met Ron outside the portrait hole.
Swiftly making their way towards Potions, Ron and Hermione nimbly dodged the bumbling first years, who were clumsily tripping over solid stairs. Ron snickered under his breath, and she elbowed him...perhaps a little too vigorously. "Ouch!" he snarled...and poked her cheek in retaliation. Laughing, she slapped his hand away. She stifled it once she entered the classroom.
They were some of the first Gryffindors to turn up to their lesson; most of the Slytherins were there already, eager for some Gryffindor-bashing. Unfortunately for the idiots, the Gryffindors knew the best time to turn up so as to minimalise the collateral damage that would no doubt occur, should they turn up early.
The Slytherins didn't bug Hermione or Ron incessantly. Her elementary attempt at creating an illusion of a tiger snake had scared them shitless earlier this year, and consequently stopped them from bugging her too much. The Mudblood jibes still occurred, but it never got much nastier than that.
The rest of the Gryffindors in her class darted in warily, mainly to avoid the ire of the teacher who was approaching the doorway. His class fully seated, Snape swept in and scowled as he realised that no points were able to be taken today for being late.
"Today, you will be creating the Invigoration Draught. I am perfectly sure that you are all capable of brewing it, but will no doubt fail at doing so, due to your sheer inadequacies and stupidity." His eloquent speech unleashed upon his mute class, he revealed the ingredients on the board.
"What are you looking at? I'm not a bat, you idiots realise. Start the potion, or it'll be too late to make it."
Instructions delivered, the class hurriedly made their way to the ingredient cupboard, yanking and scuffling to get their ingredients in a fierce battle of the hands and arms. Hermione was standing at her desk, severely tickled by the idiocy and slowness of her fellow classmates.
"Five points from Gryffindor, Miss Granger, for schadenfreude."
Hermione offered Snape a heated, hating look and he gladly took away five more for impudence. Later, when she and Ron were walking out of the classroom, Ron asked her what impudence and schadenfreude meant.
She sighed, shrugged her shoulders again, and made her way to the Transfiguration classroom. "Taking malicious delight in the misfortunes of others." He looked at her oddly, and she frowned.
"I was amused by the scuffles and mini-fights you were all having to get the ingredients, when there was an ingredients cupboard on the other side of the room. I don't think that should've counted as schadenfreude, though."
"Yeah, it shouldn't have. Stupid Snape."
"Shut up, Ron," she warned him – who knows who was listening to them – if it was Snape himself, they would be in for punishment – but silently agreed with his statement. She banished malicious thoughts of Snape to the back of her mind as she entered her Transfiguration class with Ron. The tabby cat at the door purred, and Hermione gave it an affectionate pat.
The class of Ravenclaws and Gryffindors was seated, and then McGonagall made her appearance, transforming lithely back into a human. "Good morning, class. Today, we will be learning to turn small objects into stone – larger objects require much more effort and precision on your part, so we will stick merely to smaller objects."
Hermione smiled. She'd performed this spell before. It would be a piece of cake, with sweet icing on top.
Once McGonagall had instructed the class on how to perform the spell, she motioned for Hermione to come up to her desk. Frowning, she took a moment to smoothly transfigure the rose lying on her desk into solid stone – much to the jealousy of her peers, their own efforts failing miserably – and made her way to the Professor's desk. "Professor?"
"Miss Granger," the Professor said amiably, "your talent at Transfiguration has led me to believe that you should be placed in a higher class. Unfortunately, I have neither the time to tutor you in higher-level Transfiguration or the ability to transfer you to sixth year. To transfer you to sixth year would require that you were achieving an average of an O score in every subject, and your Divination grade –" at this point she sputtered, mildly outraged – "is an A. Much as I think that Divination should not count as a subject, rules are rules and unfortunately I cannot move you higher."
Hermione stood there, the praise soaking her dried-up ego.
"But, I can do something for you. Are you interested in spell-making? There's a university-level course on offer for wizarding students that are not attending university at the time. They'll accept around thirty people, and I think you're a perfect candidate, Miss Granger. Hopefully, so will the course co-ordinators, but I have no doubt in my eyes that you are more than capable of doing well in this course."
Hermione was suddenly ecstatic – an opportunity for higher education while still at Hogwarts. Oh, Merlin, this was just...incredible.
"Thank you so much, Professor. I'd love to apply. What does partaking in the course entail?"
McGonagall smiled. "The sessions will all be held at Hogwarts. There will be one tutorial lesson every week, held in the Great Hall on Thursday afternoons. For you, that'll be after Transfiguration, so that should not drain your magical reserves much, considering your talent." She left the compliment to sink in for Granger, then continued. "The tutorial lesson will be about three hours, and then you'll have a certain amount of homework to complete. After fifteen weeks, there'll be a final exam, after which, if you've passed, you can get this course on your transcript for wizarding university."
"How about the cost, Professor?"
"This course is provided to its participants free, Miss Granger, which is extraordinarily generous, as you may presume." She began to say some more, but –
She was stopped by the chink of breaking stone, as Ron's rose dropped onto Justin's head and broke. The class turned to the angry Finch-Fletchley.
Professor McGonagall swept up to his presence. "Five points from Hufflepuff, Mr Finch-Fletchley, for cussing."
McGonagall immediately frowned at him. "Ten points from Gryffindor, miscreant, for deliberately hurting another student, and schadenfreude."
You'd think that the teachers were bloody walking dictionaries, he grumbled to himself. "What's a miscreant, Professor?"
Hermione stays silent, waiting for someone else to answer. No one does.
"Twenty points from every House for their bleeding illiteracy," Professor McGonagall muttered under her breath, and walked off, not answering Ron's question.