Disclaimer in preface.

Bit of a rush through these first bits, getting the stage set, as I haven't really the desire to rewrite the occurrances of ALL SEVEN BOOKS for this. Sorry it's rushed, we'll get to the meat of the story soon enough.

Hermione looked cautiously around Diagon Alley for her friend and his parents. Uncle Sirius was busy at the school, and unable to help her gather her necessary supplies, but Harry had said that they'd shop together. "Mione!" The excited shout of her friend made her cringe, and glare around to see if any others were staring because of his outburst. The pretty redheaded woman that she'd learned was Harry's mother stood with the boy, shushing him with an affectionate smile, but his father was looking curiously through the broom-shop's window at the latest model to come out.

"I still don't understand why they must prohibit first-years from having brooms of their own, Lily. Harry's been flying since before he could walk…" The man said finally as Hermione drew closer, brushing her bushy hair back and looking curiously at the family. "Most of the kids have… and if they have their own broom, they can probably use it. He won't be able to join the House Team until second year at this rate."

"Not everyone is obsessed with Quidditch, James." Lily's kind voice offered, shaking her head. "Hello, Hermione. You got here alrigh?"

"Miss Coulter didn't much like dropping me off at a pub, but she'll be glad to be rid of me for the school year, so she didn't object." Hermione sighed, shaking her head at her foster mother. The woman wasn't bad really, and certainly took decent care of her, but there was none of the happy affection that she saw in the Potter family. "We're hoping her electronics stop fizzling out around me once I've learned wand magic."

"Glad to be rid of you. Piffle!" James snorted, and ruffled her hair, making it as messy as his and his son's. "She should be proud to have the niece of Sirius Black as her foster-daughter. Proud I say. Now lets get you two the fun stuff before we have to bother with books."

"I like books." Hermione blushed, hiding behind her hair even as she tried to tame it from his mussing. Really, her hair was hard enough to manage on its own, she didn't need one of the Potters making it any messier. "They're wonderful."

"So you didn't want to get your wand and owl first?" James asked with a twinkle in his eye, even as Harry slung an arm over her shoulder. Hermione blushed even as her friend seemed to get even more excited.

"James, darling, she might not want an owl. What if she wants a cat, or a toad?" Lily laughed lightly. "You're our guest, and James and Harry can be courteous when they really try, Hermione, so what would you like to get first?"

"I…" She glanced curiously toward the Managerie that they would visit at some point that day. She didn't think that a familiar was going to be welcomed into her foster home, even if it was more intelligent than the creatures were generally speaking. "Let's get our wands?"

"Yes!" Harry jumped away from her, arm off of her shoulder and pumping in the air as he did his goofy dance. She smiled shyly, shaking her head at her friend. Harry hadn't been wrong that day in the park, years ago; he really was her best friend. "Yes, yes, yes! You're bloody wonderful, Hermione!"

"Harry!" Lily chided, and the boy winced, hiding behind Hermione as if she could protect him from his mother's wrath. "Language, young man."

"Yes mum, sorry." He grinned sheepishly, and then promptly grabbed Hermione's wrist and dragged her eagerly to Ollivander's. She had to yank back at him to slow him down before he ran into one of the stacks of wand boxes once they'd gotten inside, his parents following behind in amusement. She'd expected the most reputed wand shop in England to be a bit less… cluttered… but didn't comment. Dusty old boxes, shiny new boxes, ornate wooden ones, boxes of all kinds, each just the size to hold a wand… but she didn't see the proprietor anywhere. "Hullo? Gosh, Hermione, look at all of these."

"Hello." Both of them jumped, Hermione shrieking involuntarily, as the little old man popped out from behind one of the floor-to-ceiling stacks of wands. Holding her shirt over where her heart was beating rapidly, Harry jumping protectively in front of her, she stared wide-eyed at the man. "Oh, my apologies… Harry Potter, Lily Evans Potter… welcome. Are these your children? Harry… and…" the man adjusted his glasses, squinting at Hermione. "Why you look like one of the Black children, my dear."

"This is Harry, yes." James Potter offered with a proud smile, placing a hand on the boy's shoulder, and pulling him discreetly further from Hermione. "And this is Hermione, Sirius Black's niece. They're getting their first wands today… both of them got into Hogwarts."

"Wonderfu, wonderful. Now who shall we see to first, hm?" The man squinted at both of them curiously again, and abruptly pointed a somewhat gnarled finger at Harry. "Yes the boy. The boy would do fine. Let's see." The old man muttered idly to himself as he wandered through the stacks and shelves of boxes, peering curiously at a few.

"That would be Mr. Ollivander." Lily offered to Hermione, smiling affectionately and helping to smooth the girl's hair down a little. "He seems a bit… distracted… sometimes, but he's a brilliant man. He's never placed a wand wrong."

"Well well!" The surprised exclamation from somewhere deep within the stacks and shelves of wands made four sets of eyes turn toward where the old man was quickly scuttling toward them. In his hands was a peculiar box, and Hermione couldn't quite tell it's condition in comparison to the others, as it was glowing and sparking from within. "I believe something has found its owner. Quite peculiar. Here, boy, try this out." Ollivander quickly removed the top. Hermione watched in awe as the slightly crooked wand continued to emit sparks and the occasional stream of twinkling light. Harry smiled brightly, reaching carefully, almost cautiously, to pick the thing up. "Vine, Pheonix tail-feather core, thirteen-and-a-quarter inches, springy."

Harry picked it up, and the wand abruptly quieted, seeming to confuse the wand-maker. Hermione didn't quite notice the old man's gaze traveling to her for a contemplative moment before Harry cried out and dropped the wand, shaking his hand as it gave off odd sparks again. Ollivander sighed, smiling softly, and shook his head, carefully placing the dropped wand back into its velvet casing and closing the box. "What was that?"

"I believe that was not quite the wand for you my boy. No worries, no worries." Ollivander settled the box next to them nevertheless, on one of the few clear counter spaces, and moved off to inspect more boxes. It took another three tries, each wand not quite the correct match. One, a beech wand with unicorn hair as its core, sputtered strange liquid from its tip, splashing up from the ground in an odd, purple hue before the liquid disappeared, and Hermione edged further away so as not to get the resultant whatever-it-was on her. She watched in amusement as the others shot strange lights around the room, some ricocheting off of boxes and the ceiling. The two elder Potters seemed just as amused by the spectacle. By the time they'd gotten to the last wand, Harry actually winced as he picked it up. "Pear, fourteen inches even, dragon heartstring core, rigid. Try it out boy, give it a swish."

Harry, closing his eyes in preparation for another bit of unexpected magic, waved the wand back and forth, cringing. He just knew he'd be shooting off sparks again or splashing strange liquid at them, or something. Instead, a soft humming noise sounded, gentle wafts of sparkling light flowing from the tip, and Lily sighed behind her. Hermione smiled as well, amazed at how the entire process worked, and that Harry had finally been paired with his wand. It was a beautiful, golden color, though light in hue, with simple rings as decorative embellishment around the handle, barely tapering to a rounded point. Finally, her friend opened his eyes, and looked in wonder at his wand.

"Perfect, perfect. Always lovely to pair wands with their owners. It's the wand that picks the wizard, really." Ollivander nodded, boxing the wand back into its wooden casing. "Two wands to go, wonderful pairing."

As the man began to disappear into the stacks, after however he would charge them, Hermione's eyebrows drew together. "I'm sorry, sir… but… what about me?"

"Oh, dear me, apologies." He nodded, looking distracted, and gestured at the first box he'd brought out and set down, the vine wand. "Pick it up then, though I'm sure you're already paired."

"What?" Harry gaped, and Ollivander only gestured impatiently at the box again, where it glowed softly on the counter. Nervously, Hermione lifted the top away, noting a a simple, yet elegant, wooden box similar to Harry's wand. Hand shaking, and expecting it to spark and burn its way out of her grip as it had to her friend, she picked it up in a delicate grasp, holding only with her thumb and first two fingers. Unlike Harry's first try, or his successful wand, it neither stopped glowing, nor did it emit special effects. The glow simply solidified at its narrowly pointed tip. Holding her breath, Hermione gave it a soft flick, and Harry shivered as a sweet smelling, if cold, breeze flew at him from the wand. "Blimey."

"Quite right. Vine and phoenix feather… quite a combination… quite a combination." Ollivander nodded, moving away again. "Just getting some holsters for you… likely to need them, especially the girl. Yes, quite."

"Arm and ankle both for the boy!" James called out happily, and proceeded to pat them both jovially on the shoulder. "Dragon, Harry! A Dragon Heartstring wand. Proud of you, boy."

"That's good then?" Hermione asked, staring dumbly at the wand in her hand. It had a few twists and quirks to it, though it wasn't bent too far in any direction, very obviously coming from some kind of thick bramble. It was beautifully polished, though, and felt more sturdy than the flexible bend she'd expected from a vine-made-wand.

"Dragon heartstring wands are supposed to be very powerful, if a bit temperamental." Lily Potter offered with a fond smile. "And Pear wood wands have supposedly never been turned to dark magic. We're very proud of him." The woman nodded, then smiled a little warily at the wand Hermione still held. Nervously, the girl placed it back into its box. "I've never heard of wands reacting like that when their witch or wizard first entered the shop, however."

"Oh, it's quite a characteristic of Vine wands, as I've never seen it happen with another wand wood." Ollivander offered, emerging with three leather contraptions. The first two he handed to Harry and the boy's father to size to the boy's arm and leg. "I believe this arm holster should fit the wand, its shape makes the fit interesting, dear. I make few vine, you see, as they're very peculiar about their wielder. It's best you not let someone borrow that, girl, especially with Phoenix as its core."

"Er… yes sir." She swallowed hard, looking at the wand box. It had apparently calmed down, as no magical effects were currently lighting up the box, but she was still cautious when trying out the fit of the wand to her arm holster. The deep gray-brown of the wood contrasted beautifully with the reddish hue of the leather, and she noticed that the same stain had been used on Harry's two holsters as well. The price asked for the wands was a bit high, in her opinion, but considering that they'd been paired so well, she didn't complain when neither of the adults had. "Harry… do you want to pick where we go next?"

"I already know where he wants to go, but I suggest we have your robes measured and ordered, and then to lunch." Lily suggested with a gentle smile. "He'll spend an hour just looking over all of the owls in there alone if we let you two wander into the Menagerie now… and we'll all be starving if he does that."

"Food does sound wonderful! All that excitement, and I'm starving already." James chuckled, shuffling the boy out of the shop ahead of him. "Besides, it's likely best we do look for your owl last, as it'll end up in its cage all day, having to be lugged around with us."

"That does seem kindest…" Hermione whispered to a pouting Harry, who reluctantly nodded in agreement. "Besides, I don't think I'll be getting a familiar… so I'll be looking for yours with you."

"What? You have to Hermione. How are you gong to write me whenever something interesting happens without one? Mine won't always be around to carry your letters for you, and I barely hear from you without you owning one already." The boy bounced along next to her, pouting dramatically. "Please? Please get one Hermione? They're not bad, really. Very intelligent, you won't have to worry about it screeching at you randomly."

"I just don't think that Miss Coulter will like me bringing an animal home, nevermind it being a wizarding animal." Hermione blushed, shrugging, and carefully felt the holster on her arm. She'd have to get used to wearing that, though she suspected that the robes had to have a pocket for wands somewhere in them. Harry pouted again. "It's not that bad, Harry. You never understand my muggle-life stories anyway."

"I'm not that bad. Mum was born to muggles!" Harry defended, looking back at his mother for confirmation. "She's a witch, but her family is muggles."

"Yes, but my parents are both gone now, you barely remember them, and you never see your aunt and cousin. You're as clueless about the muggle world as your father, dear." Lily smiled softly. "I barely remember how having to live without magic was myself."

"Robes! Here." James interrupted, not liking to admit that there wasn't something he didn't know or understand, even about the non-magic folk. Hermione blushed. "Come along, and be sure they're fitted to you properly. We've the money to spare, as do you Hermione, no fussing about that… Sirius would have spirited you away to live with him by now if you hadn't objected to it upsetting Miss Coulter. You can at least let him pay for the right school supplies with all that money he earned being an Auror."

"I doubt I'll grow much, so they should last a few years…" Hermione guessed, looking nervously at the listed prices. Hopefully school robes weren't too expensive, no matter what Mr. Potter said. Harry laughed lightly, and dragged her over to one of the witches that worked at the shop. "H-Hullo."

The entire experience wasn't actually that terrible, though her arm developed a cramp from having to hold it out during the pinning and measuring for so long. Lunch was cheerful, and though her wand did spark something from her arm holster, and made her bread roll sprout legs and crawl off and away into the Menagerie, embarrassing her no end, the Potters only laughed happily. Apparently, first years had a bit of reputation for occasionally uncontrolled wands deciding to make a bit of mischief. At least she hadn't set anything on fire, as James's wand had done more than once to his robes while it was getting used to him.

Her books she insisted on getting second hand, as she claimed they felt more loved that way, after of course flipping through carefully and assuring they were in tact. It took her no longer to inspect them than for Harry to find his new, and they managed to get out even as a rush of other students filled the shop. Absently, she noted Harry waving happily at a dopy looking, brown-haired boy that entered with an impressive looking set of parents. Once they'd acquired potions materials, as well as whatever else was felt as necessary, Lily pulled Hermione away to another shop while James finally allowed Harry to rush into the Menagerie. "We'll get you some extra scrolls, quills, and the like. I suspect you'll want them more than Harry, book-lover that you are." Hermione blushed. "And your familiar can stay with us on occasion, if your foster-mother objects so much. Harry had planned on getting it for you as a belated birthday gift. He practically sleeps in the muggle-jacket you got for him." Hermione blushed, surprised. She hadn't expected anything from any of them for her eleventh birthday, and the wizarding candy that Harry had sent her was more than adequate, even as she opened her mouth to object, Lily shushed her. "He wanted to give you an owl at first, but we made him wait until both of you had gotten into Hogwarts."

"I… alright." She whispered, still blushing. "And the jacket wasn't that impressive…."

"Are you kidding? He loves it! James is considering hunting down a larger one for himself. I'd forgotten how much warmer muggle jackets are than wizard robes." Lily smiled and shook her head. "It's too warm for it right now, being summer, but he wore it around the house all day when he got it in the post. Nearly sweated himself to death. Please, just let him buy you the silly owl, or whichever you choose, he'll be too happy to do so."

"Alright." Hermione blushed again, and did so even more as Mrs. Potter offered her own money for the lovely quill and writing set. "I…"

"My own birthday gift to you. Shush." Lily winked. "Now come along and pick out your familiar."

By the time she'd found her best friend and his father, the pair of them were bickering over the value of a sleeker owl vs. a larger one, speed over carrying ability. She smiled fondly along with the woman before they'd finally noticed the girls' return. "Mione! Tell da, it'll be better if I get a fast owl. What will I be sending anywhere that would be heavy?" Harry smiled lopsidedly, and Hermione laughed. "Are you sure you don't want something, Mione? She can't be that strict, it's not like a wild animal."

"Alright Harry… but you have to help me pick it out." Hermione answered with a sigh, seeing Lily's wink at James and the man's beaming smile. "What did the acceptance letter say? Owl, cat, or toad?"

"I've heard rats, ravens, and spiders are alright too, and some snakes… but you have to get approval for them." Harry looked around excitedly. "Sirius is your uncle, though, so that wouldn't be hard. Which do you want? Dad wants me to get the snowy owl, but I was considering that horned owl…"

"I dunno. Keep looking, I'll walk around." She blushed, glancing at the various animals. "Pick yours first, and then you can help me." He nodded eagerly, and proceeded to re-enter the debate with his father. Hermione ambled slowly through the shop, looking curiously at the strange creatures housed there. Some of them seemed normal, especially the room almost filled with slumbering cats, though others were genuinely frightening to even look at. Harry tracked her down in one of the exotic areas, staring curiously at a cute little dog-like creature. "What do you think that is?"

"It says it's a fox… but I've only seen the bigger red ones on the moors." Harry mumbled, leaning closer. "Do you want it?"

Hermione kept staring at the creature, fascinated… almost mesmerized by it, as Harry looked at her curiously. His lips turned up into a soft, fond smile, as her eyes locked with the little fox's, and he gestured discreetly over at his parents. All three of them were watching her fondly when she finally broke out of her trance. "I… no. Thanks Harry, but I shouldn't get something off of the list without getting permission from the school first. I don't want to have to leave it behind at home for Coulter to take care of just because I didn't think first." She sighed and the creature curled back up, fluffy tail draped over its muzzle, and went back to sleep. "Maybe someday…"

She did end up getting an owl, much to Harry's excitement. It was a sleek, beautiful barn owl, with a soft, golden tint to the brown of its feathers and a sweet, heart-like face. Harry's father had finally won the argument about which owl would be best for the boy, saying that fewer strong owls could fetch the boy his broom when permission was finally granted for it, and as such her friend now had a snowy owl, Hedwig. Her own, a male, she named Jareth, grinning impishly at the memory of an older, American-Muggle movie. None of the Potters got the private joke, of course.

Hermione looked nervously from her foster mother to the crowds of the train station. Neither of them quite understood how there could be a "platform 9 ¾" and Miss Coulter was obviously frustrated and skeptical about this endeavor, but Hermione trusted her magical friends and the letter. Somehow, somewhere, there was a platform wedged between nine and ten, and that was how she was going to get to Hogwarts. Miss Coulter was not on her phone, for once, likely fearing that with not only Hermione so close, but all of her magical supplies, the thing would explode in an even more impressive display than usual.

Hermione stood there for several moments, really, attempting to figure out how to find the platform, before she saw a large group of redheaded people, each pushing a luggage cart loaded similarly to hers. Not even bothering with a word to the woman next to her, fearing losing the group, Hermione shoved hard at the cart, finally getting it moving and trudging after them. She heard the woman of the group, a merry looking lady with frizzy orange-red hair, chiding most of the boys, before glancing about and gesturing at the column that sat part-way between platforms nine and ten.

After Hermione had actually seen the eldest of the boys somehow disappear into the brick wall itself, her eyes widened, and she stared at the woman with her. "I… erm… I think that's how I'll be getting through. Do you want to come? It'll be… well… it'll be as crowded and magical as the shopping alley."

Miss Coulter's lips thinned and her face paled, and she looked nervously at her watch. "Best if I don't likely. You'll not be able to get me back through if I faint." The woman was oddly unashamed to say, and Hermione sighed. "Now, take care of yourself at that magic school of yours. It can't be safe, that magic stuff exploding about you at random, better to be under your control." The woman paused and shifted, placing a nervous and awkward hand on Hermione's shoulder. "I'll never understand you, Mione, I know that… especially now… but I do love you, no matter not understanding you. You be careful there. No telling what dangerous business magical folk could be."

"I'll be fine Miss Coul… I'll be fine mum…" It still felt awkward to say, and made the woman blush and fidget uncomfortably. "Thanks. I… er… should go before I lose my nerve." She carefully trailed after the redheaded family, rushing through a moment after the last had gone, and looked nervously around at the bustling crowd on the other side. It seemed even more packed than the London transit had looked. Seeing the redheaded family she'd copied starting to bustle around with bags, Hermione looked frantically for Harry and his parents… there was no way she'd be able to handle the heavier parts of her luggage herself.

"Lost, dearling?" The words startled her, and she glanced up at the matronly woman from the family she'd followed. Hermione smiled nervously. "First time? Where're your parents, love?"

"My guardi… I mean my mum didn't… couldn't come through with me." Hermione took a deep breath and puffed herself up a bit, trying to act braver. She was to be a witch now, no need to be so nervous. "I'm just looking for my friend Harry and his parents, to help with my luggage."

"Oh, nonsense lovely, you look positively shaken. Muggle-born are you?" The woman shook her head, and ushered Hermione closer to her family. "We'd be happy to help. Percy, come help this little lovely with her luggage before you're off."

"Mum, I have to get to the Prefect's cabin for the meeting…" the tall, gangly boy in glasses whined, idly adjusting the silver P badge on his robes. Hermione idly noticed that all but one of the boys sported red and gold barding along the hem of their robes. "Can't da…"

"Enough, Percival, it won't take you that long, and your father is loading Ronald's luggage for him, as the twins won't have anyone help them with theirs." The woman snapped, making the other redheaded boys giggle as the whipped out wands and began floating things about, aiming several things into the luggage compartments. "What's your name dear? She's a new student, it's your duty as a prefect to help her."

"Oh, bother…" the boy stomped up, sneering at the luggage cart, and eyed her. "There anything you want to take on and in yourself, girl? First years enter the castle separately, for sorting, so you'll not see your things again until you're in your dorms."

"Will Jareth be alright?" Hermione squeaked, almost reflexively reaching for the owl in his cage. Percy rolled his eyes, and she quickly grabbed the cage as well as her book-bag and school robe. She hadn't even noticed his brothers putting theirs on when she was looking for Harry, and shuffled nervously as the boy promptly produced his own wand and began floating her things into the storage compartment. "I… er… I'm Hermione."

"Molly Weasley, dear, and the moody boy is my son Percy. He's a prefect for Gryffindor." The proud smile belied the annoyance the woman seemed to have with the boy's attitude. "The twins there are Fred and George, and the other boy is Ronald, it's his first year too."

"I'm Ginny!" The youngest, a girl that seemed only a year or so her junior hopped up, smiling cheerfully at Hermione. "Mum, she's not a muggle-born. You said that most of the muggle-borns wouldn't have wand holsters yet, and that Ron wouldn't be left out not having one."

"Mione there you are!" Harry's exuberant shout silenced whatever Mrs. Weasley might have said in return, and Hermione smiled in relief as the Potters finally converged on her, Harry hugging her enthusiastically, as if he'd feared her lost, and his parents chuckling softly. "Da apparated in from practice just to see us off. You made new friends!"

"Mrs. Weasley was nice enough to have her son help with my luggage, since I couldn't find you." Hermione smiled softly, shrugging, and then winked at Ginny, and Ron as the boy wandered up, dumbstruck looks on their faces. She didn't know what was so amazing about her friend, but the redheaded children were obviously impressed. "The girl is Ginny, and that's Ronald, he's a first year too."

"I… told you she wasn't a muggle-born mum…" The girl whispered to the woman, eyes not leaving the Potters. "That's James Potter."

"Bloody hell…" Ron gasped, staring as well, and Mrs. Weasley quicky smacked him over the head.

"Lovely to meet you, Mrs. Weasley. Our sincerest thanks for helping Hermione with her things. She's a very close friend of the family, and we'd feared she might be trying to lift them herself." James smiled roguishly, offering a hand to the woman, who blushed and giggled as she shook it. "As your spunky daughter has surmised, I'm James Potter, and this is my wife Lily. Our son, Harry, seems to be in the same year as Ronald."

"Lovely to meet you, Mr. Potter." Mrs. Weasley giggled again, and was soon joined by the remainder of her family, half of whom gaped at the Potters. Hermione blushed as well, having forgotten that apparently James Potter was a sports player in the wizarding world. "It would be about time for the children to board the train, though."

"Oh yes, that does sound right." Lily smiled brightly and nodded, ruffling Harry's hair. "Go on now, we'll see you at Christmas, and we love you. Don't get into too much trouble."

Harry laughed, grabbed the cage from Hermione's hand so that she didn't have to carry it, and with an owl in each hand, urged her toward the train. "Come on, Ronald, you can sit with us since you're friends with Hermione now! Mione, we gotta get good seats."

"Slow down Harry, you'll jostle the owls." She chided, hugging his parents and quickly thanking Mrs. Weasley again before running after him. "And Ron's still staring at your da."

"Am not!" Ron gasped, hurrying after them with a wave at his mother, eyes still wide even as he caught up and helped to settle the birds into a cabin with them. "Bloody hell, Harry, your da is England's Seeker!"

"Yup." Harry grinned proudly. "Mione has no idea what that is, but he's awesome. He taught me to be a Seeker too." Harry bragged, and slung his arm over Hermione's shoulders as they settled into their seats. "Do you play Quidditch?"

"Er… a bit. With my brothers sometimes." Ron mumbled, blushing.

"Oh that flying balls game you gush about?" Hermione's nose wrinkled. "You're going to break your neck from one of the angry ones someday, Harry, and then you won't brag so much about it."

"Oh posh, Mione, it's not that bad." Harry laughed, then smiled brightly at Ron. "I've known Hermione for years, but she grew up with muggles, so she doesn't really understand Quidditch yet. She's never seen a game live, even though mum and I have tried to take her to one of dad's games. She was always in muggle school when they happened, though."

"Wow." Ron shook his head, eyes still wide and impressed. "I always followed the Chudley Cannons, but they've only had Chasters taken for the national team…"

"Da played for Puddlemere United before he was tapped for nationals." Harry shrugged. "The Cannons aren't bad, really… but they haven't had a Chaster tapped in two years."

"Er… yeah…" Ron blushed again, and Hermione rolled her eyes. "So Hermione is muggle born? How'd you meet?" He was obviously trying to change the subject, which was probably due to his embarrassment, but Hermione didn't mind at all.

"Erm.. not exactly? Sirius say's really complicated… but really it goes, of what we know, that she's Sirius's niece somehow, and he's my godfather because he and my da have been best friends since Hogwarts, so he brought me to meet her when we were eight." Harry screwed up his face in thought, pulling her tighter to him. "Anyway, we've been best friends ever since."

"He means that I've been in fosterage all of my life and my uncle, Sirius, was an Auror and it was too dangerous to raise me when I could be safely kept with the Muggles." Hermione rolled her eyes, elbowing the boy for a little more space. "I didn't even know magic was real until he showed up in the park that I'm reading in and started babbling at me like a loon. Eventually I did realize he wasn't completely nutter, and we are best friends now…. My foster mother doesn't quite understand this magic business, so they've all helped loads."

"Wow." Ron gaped, and then grinned more widely. "So you've both owls, though? All of my things are secondhand or hand-me-downs because I've so many brothers." He blushed, glaring down at his handed-down robes. "My robes were my brother Charlie's, and my wand was my other brother Bill's. My rat was Percy's… he got all new things and an owl because he was made a Gryffindor prefect this year."

"At least you didn't have to go through that wand matching business, though." Harry's eyes were wide. "Mione's wand was tried with me first, and it nearly burned and blew my hand off! And the others kept shooting things around the shop. It was bonkers, mate."

Ron chuckled nervously, blushing more, and Hermione rolled her eyes. "I actually got my books secondhand… I would have with my robes too, if they'd allowed me to." Hermione said with a shrug, the redheaded, gangly boy staring at her in awe. She just noticed, then, how big his nose actually looked. "They feel well loved, that way, and sometimes there might be notes made in the margins to give you a bit of extra information. Hogwarts, A History was barely touched though… I don't know if anyone even opened that up previously. I've already read through it three times. My robes… well… we'll grow out of them I'd imagine, with time… and what's the use of buying them new to only have them beaten up with activity or grown out of too quickly? His da insisted, though, as my uncle is paying for them. I'll probably try to care for them well, and donate them for secondhand use when I've outgrown them."

"Wow…" Ron whispered, still staring at her. She looked at him curiously. "You talk a lot for a girl."

"And you stare a lot for a boy." She snapped, making Harry laugh. "What's so wrong with re-using things anyway? Half of the things we get to enjoy I would never have even dreamed of having in my first several foster homes."

"Sorry." Ronald blushed again and looked away, noticing that he still held his sleeping rat from when he'd shown it as demonstration. "Guess it's not all bad… but this old rat's useless. All he ever does is sleep. Percy said he had him for five years already, which means he can't hold out much longer. Maybe I'll get an owl of my own after he's gone… or a raven. Ravens are supposed to be cool."

"He doesn't seem that bad…" Hermione tried to comfort, and a strange, puttering sound could be heard, and she smelled an odd, disgusting scent coming from their direction, Ron sneering and holding the rat well away from all of them. "Eugh, did he just…"

"Yeah… he does that a lot." Ron was still sneering, and stuffed the still sleeping rat back into his robe pocket. Hermione made a similar face, and Harry just started laughing. "What house do you think you'll be in? My entire family's been in Gryffindor… all five of my brothers, and my mum and dad. I'll never hear the end of it from Fred and George if I don't make it in… they keep saying I'll be in Hufflepuff."

"Mum and dad were in Gryffindor too! So was Sirius." Harry smiled brightly. "Dad says anything's better than Slytherin, though. Mum always blushes and says that Slytherins aren't too bad… one of her old friends is the Slytherin head… but I still don't think I'd want to be in it."

"I heard that Dumbledore just instituted a new rule… that you can petition to be resorted at the end of the year if you really think you don't fit in your house anymore… but you have to take it up with your Head of House to do it." Ron whispered, eyes wide. Hermione's eyebrow arched. That wasn't in Hogwarts, A History. "He only started it just last year, though, and Percy said that only two kids managed it. One Hufflepuff boy that wound up being resorted into Ravenclaw, and a Gryffindor that wound up as a Hufflepuff. I think the new Ravenclaw boy was at the end of his second year, but the Gryffindor girl was on the end of her fifth."

"Hufflepuff girl." Hermione corrected, frowning at the thought. She could understand being willing to resort the children if they really wished it, as people did change as they matured, but it must be terrible to have to face your House if you weren't re-sorted somewhere else and they'd found out. Ron was frowning at her. "You still called her a Gryffindor. If she was resorted, then she should be called a Hufflepuff, shouldn't she?"

"Er… yeah…" Ron pouted, and then the door to the cabin opened, displaying a woman with an overloaded food-and-candy cart.

"Anyone want anything?" the witch smiled brightly at them, and Hermione noticed Ron staring longingly at the assortment of goodies.

"Er… no thanks… I brought my own…" He reluctantly pulled a somewhat crumpled sandwich out of the pocket that didn't hold the rat, looking at the thing squeamishly.

"Harry…" She whispered, nudging him.

"We'll take a bit of any candy you have, a pumpkin pasty for each of us… do you have any roasted pasties too? Ooh, pumpkin juice! You'trying it this time, Mione, I insist. Enough pumpkin juice for all of us too." The boy's eyes were wide and excited, and he quickly withdrew several gold coins from his pockets.

"Do you have regular water, by chance?" Hermione asked with a wary expression. Juice from pumpkins just sounded odd to her, and she wanted to be able to wash the taste away if it was as horrid as she anticipated.

"On me, dear, you're the first to ask after water all day." The witch smiled gently, handing over a chilled thermos to the girl before starting to pile things carefully onto one of the open spaces in the compartment, carefully calculating as she did so. It was a while before she'd finished and Harry had paid, and Ron eagerly partook, with an embarrassed blush, when Hermione insisted he allow them to share.

The entire day had gone by the time they finally arrived, Ron and Harry chatting happily for most of the ride, with Hermione occasionally joining in when she understood what they were on about. She already knew, even as they exited the train, that the first years would be separated from the rest and boated across the dark lake, instead of arriving by special carriage as the other students would. She'd donned her school robe, adjusting slightly when she felt it catch a bit on her arm holster where her shirt had ridden up. She noticed that Harry wasn't wearing his own, meaning he'd probably either put his wand in its pocket in the robe, or was wearing the leg piece. The giant man that was calling the first years over to where he stood was grizzly and intimidating, but the cheery smile that peeked out from within his bushy beard, and the twinkle in his eyes, helped to calm her.

By the time they'd crossed into the great hall, the large man that had introduced himself as Professor Hagrid had taken any caged animals from them, tagging each magically with their respective owners' names, claiming that he was the Care and Conservation of Magical Creatures professor and that the creatures would be perfectly safe with him. Hearing his subject, and seeing how carefully he settled the various caged creatures onto a large cart, Hermione hadn't a worry for her owl. Before she could enter the dining hall with the others, however, the stern looking witch that had instructed them to enter and move, single file, to the front had stopped her.

"You'd be Hermione, I assume? Professor Black showed your picture to Professor Dumbledore and I." The woman smiled down at her stiffly, and Hermione blushed. "I am Minerva McGonagall, and I am the deputy headmistress, as well as Professor of Transfiguration and Head of Gryffindor House." The woman allowed for Hermione to nod in understanding again. "According to your files, you have no last name, but being Professor Black's niece, with his eager permission I might add, you have the liberty to be registered with his last name. Before we perform the sorting, I'll need to know your preference, for when you are called and sorted."

"Oh…" She blushed brightly, and looked back at the entrance to the hall. She still hadn't been legally given her foster mother's name, so technically she hadn't one. She'd known her uncle for nearly as long as the woman, however, and he'd always been happy to have her around and claim familial affiliation with her. "Um… I… can it be hyphenated? Coulter-Black? I'm not actually adopted yet… but… she's taken care of me as well as she can…"

"Of course, dear. Coulter-Black, I'll make the note on the list." The woman smiled more warmly this time, and nodded, gesturing into the hall. "Best get to it then."

"R-right." Hermione blushed harder, and practically ran to her place, joining Harry and Ron where they were eagerly watching the head table. "What did I miss?" Her whisper startled Ron, who yelped like the foolish boy that he was, but Harry smiled.

"Nothing, but that's Dumbledore, right next to Sirius." Harry whispered back, smiling brightly and waving at his godfather, who only smiled warmly back at both of them, and nodded, instead of making a scene as Harry likely was. "What'd she want?"

"We were just clearing up what name to use for me… you know… because of everything." She shrugged, blushing at her uncle, and then out at the sea of students. Each of the other four tables were over-long, and crowded on both sides by students sporting robe barding of their house colors. Floating above their heads were magical, lit candles, and the ceiling, as she'd read in Hogwarts, A History was enchanted to look like the sky outside. It really was magnificent.

Harry smiled at her, and linked their arms, jovially watching and bouncing with every announcement made, and clapping along with everyone else as the sorting hat was presented. She hadn't a clue about the thing, its presence having been omitted from the book, but suspected that Harry's parents had tipped him off, or perhaps Uncle Sirius. Ron had looked utterly terrified at the mention of sorting, though at the sight of the hat had seemed to relax, despite his glare at the redheaded pair that laughed at the Gryffindor table. She was, unfortunately, the first of the three to be called up for sorting.

"Coulter-Black, Hermione." Professor McGonagall's voice was clear and loud, and she nearly stumbled over a sneering blonde boy's extended foot as she hurried to the stool. The hat itself looked somewhat dingy and dubious, but she'd seen herself that its old creases had formed a face, and it actually spoke. There wouldn't be any avoiding this. Nervously, the girl sat upon the stool, and closed her eyes tightly, not noticing when the old hat obscured what would have been her vision.

Ah… Another Black child. Interesting, very interesting. Intelligent, very intelligent, just like your mother… stubborn, like all of them… The voice in her mind was startling, and she nearly squeaked in shock. Very powerful too, much potential… but strong morals. Good girl, you are. And friends with the latest Potter boy. Yes, yes you're not hard to place at all. You'll be in… "Gryffindor!" The abrupt shout rang in her ears, and she realized that a good portion of the hall was clapping, just as they'd done for the few others placed so far. A little shaken from the strange experience and the yell, she removed the hat from her head, grabbed her book bag, and shuffled quickly to her new House table.

"Hermione! Over here!" The two redheaded twins that had been with the other Wealseys at the station gestured eagerly to her… Ron's brothers. "Over here. Ronnikins will sit with us too…"

"If he gets in that is…"

"Right, right, if he gets in…"

"Not much doubt though…"

Their broken speech made her blush, especially as they said the last part in complete unison. "He is a Weasley, after all."

The others in line slowly moved along, the annoying blonde boy that had tried to trip her turning out to be named Draco Malfoy, and it finally came long to Harry. Several people tittered to life with gossip as his name was called, and the obvious resemblance to his apparently famous father was noticed. This was going to go straight to her friend's head. After several long minutes of silence by the hat, though, it finally called out the name of her house, and she gasped out a relieved breath. He quickly joined her, giant smile on his face.

"It almost put me in Hufflepuff, Hermione." He whispered excitedly, sliding into the spot next to her and eagerly turning back to watch as well. "It said I could easily be either, really, but I wanted to be in the same house as you, and all of my family, so it put me here!" He bounced in place, and waved to a green-looking Ron Weasley. "I hope Ron talks to it too. It's a really nice hat."

"Shush, she's calling up the next student." Hermione whispered, smiling happily. She didn't know how she would have handled it, really, if Harry had been in a different house. Beyond having met Ron that morning, he was the only other student she knew. At the head table, Sirius smiled and winked at them both. As the last of the students were all called and sorted, Harry got more and more excited, until it finally came to Ron's turn. The poor boy looked positively ill; it must have been nerve wracking to have to go last.

"Ah, another Weasley. Easy one, that's Gryffindor!" The entire bit was aloud, and Hermione actually laughed along with Harry and the twins as Ron actually fell off of the stool in relief.

"Told you Ron, no worries." Harry crowed, patting the boy hard on the back as he sat down with them. The odd speech from the Headmaster preceded the appearance of a massive feast on the tables, and Hermione took little heed of how foolish some of his words seemed, in favor of looking around happily at her new house-mates. "So you're Ron's brothers?"


"We are"

"He's Fred."

"And he's George."

"Welcome to Gryffindor." The welcome was, once again, in unison, and the boys gave impish, mischievous smiles along with it. "So you're James Potter's kid?"

"Do you play Quidditch too?" They asked excitedly.

"Seeker, just like dad." Harry nodded. "You two?"

"They're both Beaters for the house team." Ron rolled his eyes. "Bloody good at causing trouble, with or without bats, though."

"Ronnikins is keeper,"

"Just like brother Charlie was…"

"Not quite as good yet though…"

"One day, Ronnikins." They cooed, grinning at him again. "How do you know her, though?"

"Black as in Professor Sirius Black?" she was almost sure that Fred had finished for them this time, though they were hard to tell apart.

"He's my godfather, but he said he won't take it easy on me in class…" Harry made a face, obviously having hoped otherwise. "Hermione's uncle."

"How is he as a teacher? He's always so playful when he visits…" Hermione asked softly, glancing at where her uncle was speaking happily with a few other professors.

"He growls a lot, and gets loud if you make trouble." One of the twins winced, glaring at the head table in a semblance of fear.

"He's good though." The other offered, making a similar face.

"If Dumbledore ever retires, or accepts the ministry head position they keep offering him, and McGonagall becomes headmistress… he's in line to take over as Gryffindor Head of House." A boy not far down from the twins offered. "Oliver wood, Keeper and captain of the house team. We look forward to you trying out for the team next year."

"Da and I thinks it's bollocks that I can't join until next year." Harry huffed, stuffing a large forkful of roasted meat into his mouth. "Bollocks."

"Harry!" Hermione chided, scowling. "You're mother would be so disappointed in you."

"Awe Mione, she's not here even!" He whined, pouting at her.

"And don't talk with your mouth full." She chided, smirking, and he huffed, finishing his mouthful and watching, carefully, what he said for the rest of the meal.

Her first term at Hogwarts had been… astounding, really. She took to magic like a fish to water, and eagerly soaked up any and all information her teachers could offer to her. Harry was a little shocked at how taken with studying and learning the girl was, almost completely disinterested in watching the Quidditch practices with he and Ron, or searching around for the secret passages that the twins had hinted about. They had no clue that Sirius had taken her aside after a month and offered private tutoring on anything she hadn't quite managed to understand yet. It was rarely needed, but he did provide for a cautionary watch when she practiced something that she wasn't quite sure she had mastered. More than once, the Head of House showed up to quietly watch as well, as she eagerly and happily tried charm after charm, or spell after spell, usually that she'd read ahead about, or asked for private notes on. More than once the stern woman was seen walking quietly away from one of those little sessions with a soft, impressed smile on her face.

"Stay at Hogwarts over the winter break, Mione. I've never had you about for a holiday." Sirius's pouting face was uncannily like a puppy's pout, and she rubbed the back of her neck. Honestly, she'd planned to anyhow. Miss Coulter had hinted at considering going out of country for the holiday, on some business trip or other, and it had presented a good opportunity to study. The twins had let her peek at their second year transfiguration and charms books, and she'd considered reading, and possibly experimenting, with so few distractions around.

"You'll be here too?" She asked finally, blushing, and he smiled broadly, gathering quickly what she'd meant. "I was going to practice more…"

"Hermione, you're going to burn yourself out at this rate." He shook his head, chiding her with a fond glare. "It's a break. During this break, you will have at least one meal a day with me, and go outside at least once a day, and… well… get into trouble at least once!"

"Trouble?" Her eyes went wide, and he smirked at her in his usual manner.

"Yes, trouble. I was always finding trouble and mischief when I was at Hogwarts as a student, and I expect you to at least have a little of that bit of fun. According to Minerva, you haven't even attempted to sneak out after hours at least once. Even when you're studying late, or practicing with me, you always manage to get back to your dorm on time." Sirius shook his head forlornly. "Are you really even a Black at all?"

"Oh shush." She blushed brightly, hiding behind her bushy hair. "Maybe I'll get into trouble for you… if you tell me about my mother, finally." Her cheeks flamed brighter. "You never talk about her, or how we really are related."

"You won't like it, Mione. It's not a pleasant story." His words were whispered, and he stroked long fingers through her hair gently. "You're so young to hear something like that."

"You always say that, Uncle Sirius." She huffed, leaning against him. "I've already figured out she really didn't want me, and isn't a good person… is she in… um… that prison you mentioned?"

"Azkaban?" His eyes were wide, and she nodded timidly, seeing the surprise and panic in his gaze. She was right, her mother was somehow a wizarding criminal. "I… yes." The shame in is voice sounded even deeper, and she swallowed hard. "I put her there, Mione… I'm sorry, but I had to." She swallowed hard, tears coming to her eyes, and nodded. "That's not why I love you though! You're my niece, and I'd love you no matter what. I don't do this because of guilt." She nodded sadly again.

"You won't tell me what she did, will you?" He shook his head, jaw set stubbornly. "What was her name?"

"She was my sister, before she did that… that's all you need to know." He murmured, and gently kissed the top of her head. "You should have been my daughter, not hers. Now, happier subjects, hmm? You already know that Minerva is an animagus, and there are rumors that I am as well… well I should finally confirm that, to you and Harry at least. I am, though I don't show most people what I look like… it was one of my best tools as an Auror."

"Really?" She asked, clearing her eyes, and he nodded, smiling at her. "Will you show me?"

"Over the holiday, with less people to walk in and see as well." He nodded. "Snivelus has seen as well, but he doesn't like talking about that…. Harry's father saved his life that day."

"Who was my father? You always just said it was some Muggle." Hermione wrinkled her nose at the memory. Sirius was always flippant about that detail.

"He was. None of us knew his name. Your mother met him when drunk on firewhiskey, and they didn't stay in touch. She thought he was a squib, but he was just a Muggle with a last name similar to a pureblood family… or that's what everyone says." He shrugged. "Enough of that, Mione, seriously. Let's go have some butterbeer."

"I'm too young for butterbeer." Hermione complained, smiling softly as he led her out of the defense room and toward the kitchens. It wouldn't be her first try of the drink, though she only drank any when he provided the bottle himself, and only ever one. She wasn't more than eleven, after all.

"Troll!" The frightened cries of students filled the meal hall as several Hufflepuffs came screaming in through the doors. "There's a troll in the dungeon! We saw Darks let it in! They're heading for the Herbology greenhouses!"

Hermione's eyes widened, and she stared around at the panicking students, the professors all attempting to gain a manner of control over them. Swallowing hard, she noticed Sirius, Professor Sprout, and Professor Snape all rushing off through a side door, hopefully to handle one of the two threats. Knowing her uncle, he'd probably gone off to deal with the Dark Wizards, as it had been his job before, and any number of the other professors could have handled a troll… or so she hoped. Could Hargid? He knew all about magical creatures… surely he could do something. Belatedly, she realized that the half-giant professor wasn't even seated at the head table, and hadn't been for the entire meal.

"Harry… Harry!" She hissed, eyes wide and reaching for her wand. The boy looked at her with wide, excited eyes, not nearly as frightened as most of the others seemed to be. "We have to find Hagrid. Where did he say he would be today?"

"He's catching glow-snakes for tomorrow's lesson." He whispered, looking confused, but still excited. "Why Hagrid? And they're telling us to follow the prefects to the dorms, we'll miss the whole thing!"

"Hagrid is the Magical Creatures professor, you nit. He should be able to take care of a troll no problem." She hissed, and quickly slunk under the table, dragging him under with her. Belatedly, she noticed Ron slink down with them as well. "What're you doing?"

"I'm you two's friend too!" Ron hissed, looking more frightened than Harry, but just as stubborn. "I'm going!"

"Ugh, fine, but don't point your wand at me. It backfires your spells half the time… I don't know how you've been passing this year." She hissed, scowling, and crawled forward, sneaking out around the Hufflepuffs as everyone bustled about and attempted to leave in an orderly fashion amidst their panic. "We're trying to find Hagrid. You're keen in his class, Ronald, where would he be hunting down glow-snakes?"

Ron actually blushed to match his hair at her passive compliment, and mumbled something about the abandoned corridors near the dungeons… as the dungeons themselves would have too much noise and student traffic for the snakes to take residence there. She nodded, keeping to the shadows and ducking away any time they heard footsteps, forlorn when she realized that no one seemed to be heading in their direction as well. Was no one searching for Hagrid, or had he already been found? Was he not in the direction they were going? What was that noise ahead, it sounded bloody awful.

"Mione… I think…"

"Merlin, that's a mountain troll…" Ron's gasped shock had her skidding to a stop, staring up at the huge, hulking creature that had been bent over to attempt to catch… Mrs. Norris? What the bloody hell was Filch's cat doing over here, and with the troll? Whatever was going on, the creature attempted another poor swipe at the hissing feline, groaning and gnashing slobbery teeth at it.

"It's going to eat Mrs. Norris." She hissed at them, eyes wide, and trying to figure out how they could back away and run without being noticed. "Move very slowly… and hope she gets away too." Ron snorted, but the boys tried to do as she said, Harry carefully maneuvering her behind him as they did so. "If she dies, Ronald, Filch will be devastated, so you better hope, damn you."

"Mione… shut up…" Harry whimpered, pushing her back a little faster. Unfortunately, the blasted cat ran directly at them, and at the little hall alcove that they'd been aiming at. All three students gaped, eyes wide, as the cat not only gave away their position, but provided them as the new prey for the troll to focus on. A disgusting, moaning roar accompanied it noticing them, and Hermione squeaked. "Bloody hell… what now… duck!"

All three of them dove away as the large club came hurling in their direction, the hall barely giving the troll room to maneuver, though it was certainly not to tall for the space. In a panic, Harry whipped out his own wand, attempting to shoot off a hex at the creature that he'd learned in Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Ron groaned, grabbing her arm and pulling her tight against the crumbling wall as the boy did so.

"Harry, don't!" Ron's cry was too late though, and the hex actually bounced off of the troll's skin, ricocheting around the hallway, much as those sparks had that first day in the wand shop. Ron groaned again, clinging to Hermione's arm. "Hexes don't work on troll… Hagrid said that first day when he was babbling."

"Bloody hell he did…" Hermione hissed, shocked that the boy remembered something she hadn't. "but… charms… he said charms work, didn't he?"

"Yeah…" Ron winced, and watched in fright as Harry dodged two more angry swings of the creature's club. His freckled face screwed up in concentration as she tried to figure out how to get her friend away from the troll before they attempted to either distract or subdue it. "Giggling! The tickle charm!" He jumped away from the wall, whipping his wand out and pointed it at the imposing creature. Swallowing hard, she grabbed the hissing cat and tried to edge closer to where she could pull Harry back if Ron's spell worked. "R- Rictusempra!"

In his hands, the wand sputtered, and purple sparks exploded from the tip, but nothing more happened… beyond the troll's attention suddenly focusing on him. "Harry!" Hermione screamed, wincing as Mrs. Norris dug her claws in, and the boy nodded, wielding his wand at the troll and mimicking Ron's attempt at a spell. She breathed out in relief, as the troll froze in place before spasming, and letting out strange, gargling noises that must have been its imitation of a laugh. As the club dropped with a loud bang to the floor, and she heard footsteps come rushing in their direction, she noticed Harry's spell weakening as the spasms lessened. Swishing her wand and flicking it at the club, she fried as loudly as she could, "Wingardium Leviosa!" The club shuddered, then rose quickly into the air, and she directed it to smack directly in the creature's face as it moved upward, lifting it as high as she could make it go before suddenly releasing the spell.

The club dropped, pounding directly off of the creature's hard head as it went, and after a heart-clenching moment, the troll followed its weapon to the ground, thudding just feet away from her and a frozen Ron. "Miss Black! Mr. Weasley, Mr. Potter!" McGonagall's voice was shocked and frightened, and Hermione collapsed against the mostly in-tact wall, clutching a mewling Mrs. Norris to her chest and stroking the cat's back with her wand hand. She felt like her heart might very well hammer its way out of her chest, but at least Mrs. Norris had stopped digging in and was actually purring now. "What are you doing out of your dorms! Merlin it's unconscious!"

"You three are very lucky to still be alive." Dumbledor rumbled in a soft, affectionate tone, gently pulling the cat out of Hermione's grip and sending it on its way. "Why didn't you retire to your dorms as was instructed in the meal hall?" He glanced curiously at Flitwick as the short professor carefully inspected the troll, assuring it remained subdued. "And how, exactly, did you manage to take down a fully grown mountain troll on your own?"

"H-h-hermione… w-wanted t-to find H-h-hagrid…" Ron stammered, still frozen in place and staring in fright at the huge troll. "She-she-she…"

"I thought he was the best to send after the troll." She stammered, cutting the boy off and looking in concern at her two friends. Harry seemed alright, if a bit bruised, and Ron mostly looked scared out of whatever wits he had originally possessed. "He's the Magical Creatures professor, and wasn't at dinner, so I didn't think he'd know about the troll… I thought he'd be needed."

"So you felt it was necessary to go looking for him… near where the troll was said to be?" McGonagall's shrill cry made Hermione wince, and she slowly stood, feeling her body ache from the fear and tumbling it had undergone.

"He was supposed to be looking for glow-snakes for tomorrow's lesson… we thought it was supposed to still be in the dungeons, so we went after him in these corridors… it must have made it's way higher to get here… it was trying to catch and eat Mrs. Norris." Hermione swallowed, ducking her head. "We would have run away too, like those other students did… but it saw us."

"How exactly did you three manage to subdue this creature?" Professor Flitwick asked, noting the bleeding lump on its head. "I haven't taught any first years the charms necessary to battle a troll."

"Well… Ron remembered that they're immune to most hexes, at least that we would know…" Hermione nodded at the redheaded boy, still in shock, who whimpered at the reminder of his own part. "And tried the tickling charm you taught us last week… but… his wand backfired again, so Harry had to do it."

"It worked?" McGonagall's voice was shocked, and she looked at her three students again, then at the creature.

"For a bit… not long." Harry admitted. "I guess it wasn't powerful enough…" He shrugged and then smiled sheepishly at Hermione. "She used wingardium to levitate it's club a few times at it's hard head… knocked it out."

"The three of you are very foolish and very lucky." McGonagall hissed at them, ushering them up and away from the creature and its stench. "To the mediwitch with all of you, to be checked over. That's twenty points from Gryffindor apiece for your foolishness and disobeying direct instructions for your safety." All three of them winced, and began shuffling shamefully away. Hermione didn't notice the smiling glance between the three professors that had found them, but the next words filled her aching, panicky chest with warmth. "And a hundred points total to Gryffindor for sheer bravery and luck in taking that vile creature down alone. I'll assure that Filch knows that you saved Mrs. Norris as well." Hermione blushed brightly, and hurried her friends along with her as well. Sirius had wanted her to get in trouble… well… he'd gotten his wish.