Hermione sat on the end of her bed, already dressed in her school robes. It was six o'clock in the morning, and she would be starting her first day of class in precisely two and a half hours. She'd been awake for almost an hour already.
To say that Hermione was excited would be a bit of an understatement. Too nervous to continue sitting in the dormitory, where Parvati and Lavender, her new roommates, were still sleeping, Hermione got up and tiptoed down to the Gryffindor common room.
There was no one in the wide, round room. Hermione stood at the foot of the girls' staircase and looked around at the assortment of antique varnished tables, squashy upholstered armchairs, and overcrowded bookshelves lining the walls. The magnificent fireplace, topped by a varnished mantelpiece, was empty. More books were crowded on top of the mantel, beneath a large mirror.
Hermione walked slowly over to one of the long, thin windows of the tower and gazed out. The skies were dark gray, for the sun was still just barely rising. Hermione could glimpse a small house, lying on the edge of the forest, where the chimney was already smoking. She wondered who lived there.
Moving along the wall, Hermione arrived at a bookshelf, the contents of which were stacked haphazardly so that more of the books could be crammed in. Hermione smiled to herself. It was nice to know that even though she was not in Ravenclaw, perhaps intelligence was valued in Gryffindor House as well.
Hermione stood on her tiptoes and ran her fingers over some of the spines. A lot of the books looked as though they could be misplaced or forgotten spellbooks for classes, but others seemed to be specifically chosen to reside in the tower. Hermione saw one title that intrigued her.
She pulled a very, very old copy of Hogwarts: The Founders from the shelf. Frowning, Hermione carried it over to an armchair near the fireplace and opened it in her lap. On the inside of the cover, she saw a line of neat handwriting that looked very familiar to her. First Edition, 1895, London.
Hermione gaped at it. The closest she had ever come to a first edition of anything was a copy of Jane Eyre, her mother's favorite book, that Hermione kept in her bedroom. This book was in remarkably good condition, considering its age and how much it weighed—it was easily eight hundred pages long.
Very slowly and carefully, though she told herself that the book was probably very heavily protected by magic if it was allowed to sit on the shelves in the Gryffindor common room, Hermione began to turn the pages. She came across the table of contents.
1. Introduction from the Author, Hegbert Johansson
2. Godric Gryffindor
3. Helga Hufflepuff
4. Rowena Ravenclaw
5. Salazar Slytherin
6. The Castle in Scotland
7. Blood Status at Hogwarts
8. The School Opens
9. The Founders as Co-Workers
10. Slytherin's Departure
11. The School Today
12. Conclusion and Final Notes
Hermione smiled. She began to turn the pages, looking for the chapter on Godric Gryffindor. After all, he was the founder of her House; she ought to know something more about him than gossip on the train. As she looked, however, she came across Rowena Ravenclaw's chapter first.
An etching of a beautiful, black-haired witch blinked slowly up at Hermione. Her eyes were intelligent and seemed to stare right into Hermione's heart. She touched the drawing gently and sighed. Hermione knew that she was every inch as smart as the other Ravenclaws…why, then, had she been sorted into the House that valued bravery and nerve over knowledge?
Certainly, she had liked the idea of Gryffindor when hearing about it from the other students, and she was happy to be in this seeming favorite of the houses…but the Sorting Hat's words about Ravenclaw House nagged at her…if you've a ready mind…those of wit and learning will always find their kind.
Settling back, Hermione drew her knees up and balanced the book there. Beneath the etching were two quotes. The first read, Wit beyonde Measure is Man's greatest Treasure. Hermione smiled. The second quote was longer. 'Tis not enough to have a goode Mind; the main Thing is to use It well. Raising her eyebrows, Hermione began to read the chapter.
These two quotes, the first being Lady Ravenclaw's family motto, the second being a personal philosophy excerpted from a letter to her friend Lady Hufflepuff, are some of the few that are attributed to Lady Rowena Ravenclaw, one of four founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It should be noted, however, that even this second one is misquoted—Muggles have successfully adopted it as the philosophy of a French Muggle philosophe known as Renè Descartes who postdated Lady Ravenclaw by nearly six hundred years.
Rowena Ravenclaw was born in—
A sudden sound came from beside the fireplace, and Hermione almost leapt out of her seat, she was so startled. There was a tapestry that hung there, but it had made a loud cracking nose, and had started to move. Frightened, Hermione clutched the book and curled into a tight ball, just peering over her knees at the tapestry, when—
"Oh!" cried Professor McGonagall, jumping as she saw Hermione. A stack of papers tumbled from her arms as she steadied herself on the mantel, massaging her heart. "My goodness—oh—who—I—"
"Granger," squeaked Hermione, quickly hopping to her feet and standing up straight before the teacher. "Hermione Granger, Professor."
Professor McGonagall nodded, seeming to calm down slightly. She adjusted her square spectacles and straightened her robes. "And is it a habit of yours, Miss Granger, to scare the daylights out of people this early in the morning?" she asked. Her voice was not overly sharp, but Hermione flushed pink.
"I'm sorry, Professor, I didn't know anyone would be here," she said quietly, glancing at the hidden passageway from which the Professor had emerged. Professor McGonagall saw her looking.
"That won't work for any of you," she told her. "I suggest you not try to use it."
Hermione nodded quickly. "I won't tell a soul," she swore.
For a second, Hermione thought she saw Professor McGonagall's mouth twitch. Then the professor bent and began scooping up her papers. Hermione hurried forward to help.
"What are you doing up this early, Miss Granger? Ah, thank you," Professor McGonagall said, taking a box of buttons from Hermione and striding over to the notice board, which was largely empty but for Mr. Filch's list of banned items.
"I couldn't sleep," said Hermione.
Professor McGonagall nodded. She lifted a piece of parchment onto the board and looked at Hermione. "Take one of these and put it on the parchment," she instructed, nodding at the box of buttons.
"Er…" Hermione pulled out a large, blue button that looked like it could have belonged to one of her sweaters, and looked at Professor McGonagall, who was still holding the notice in place and watching her expectantly.
Hermione took the button and touched it to the parchment. Instantly, it came to life and grew four little legs. Hermione jumped back as the little button creature punctured its sharp feet into the parchment, where it remained quite still. Unless you stared very carefully, you could not see its four eyes glancing around suspiciously. It was a tack, Hermione realized, but a magical one—
"They can't be removed, that way," said Professor McGonagall, watching Hermione's face with some amusement.
Hermione nodded, impressed, and helped Professor McGonagall affix a dozen or so more notices to the board, watching in fascination as the little button-tacks scurried into place. When all the papers were gone, Professor McGonagall took her box back from Hermione.
"I imagine the rest of the House will be waking soon," she said, slipping the tacks in her pocket. "Breakfast will be ready by seven forty-five."
"Are you quite all right, Miss Granger?" Professor McGonagall asked, frowning slightly.
"Yes, Professor, thank you," Hermione answered quickly. Professor McGonagall did not look convinced, but seemed to accept her answer. She started for the secret passageway, drawing her wand, when she caught sight of the chair Hermione had been sitting in.
"Where did you get this, Miss Granger?" asked Professor McGonagall in amazement, bending to pick up the book that Hermione had left open on her seat.
"It was on a shelf," Hermione said. "I'm sorry, I thought—since they were there—"
"I've been looking for this book for ages! It's mine," Professor McGonagall told her. "I never thought to look here—goodness, it's probably been on these shelves the entire time—" she looked around the bookshelves, as if expecting to see more of her possessions to present themselves.
"Oh," said Hermione, trying not to let her disappointment show. "Well, I'm glad I could help you find it."
Professor McGonagall stared at her for a moment, then looked down at the page Hermione had been reading. "Rowena Ravenclaw," she read. She looked up again and scrutinized Hermione carefully over her glasses. "No interest in Godric Gryffindor, or do you always start books in the middle?"
Hermione blushed again. "I was curious," she mumbled.
Professor McGonagall closed the book and nodded knowingly, coming closer to where Hermione stood. "You know, Rowena Ravenclaw was very correct," she said, staring down at Hermione. Professor McGonagall was very tall, Hermione realized.
"Having a good mind is nothing if one is not brave enough to use it," said Professor McGonagall. "I have seen a great many students who were impossibly intelligent, but who were so concerned with obtaining limitless knowledge, they never implemented all the tools they had at their disposal. I have also seen a great many students who act far too rashly without using their brains. It is rare that one should find a person who has the ability to balance both. Do you understand my meaning, Miss Granger?"
Hermione stared at her. "I…I think so," she said slowly.
"Very well," Professor McGonagall answered. She held the book out to Hermione. "Why don't you finish this? You may bring it back to me when you're done."
"Oh, Professor, I couldn't—"
"Don't be ridiculous," said Professor McGonagall sharply. "Just take care of it. I shall see you in class, Miss Granger."
And with that, Professor McGonagall swept from the room, her secret passage magically sealing itself behind her. Hermione, feeling somewhat confused, went to sit down in the armchair by the fire. She opened the book again.
Godric Gryffindor came from a town known today as Godric's Hollow…
Hehe I adore Hermione! My favorite little nerdbomber. :) Hope you like! For Ikorna's First Day of School Contest. My character was Hermione, and I asked for a prompt, which was the Descartes quote.