The Brightest Witch of Her Age
Mr and Mrs Ganger, of number fourteen, Dorchester Drive were dentists, and had been for a long time. They worked up the road from their house in Surrey. Dr Peter Granger was tall and lean. He had brown hair, starting to grey, brown eyes and very straight teeth (what dentist would have crooked teeth?) He was clean-shaven and had a scholar look to him. Dr Jean Granger was a short woman with lovely, brown hair. She had blue eyes and well-tanned skin. Peter and Jean Granger had a daughter. Hermione Jean Granger was a ten-year-old ordinary girl. At least, the Grangers all thought she was.
Hermione was average height and build. She had bushy brown hair, brown eyes, slightly large front teeth and a freckled face. She was a straight A+ student, top of the class and winner of all academic awards. The brightest girl of her age. You would never see Hermione without a book either. Whether it was a science book, a careers book or just a book for a bit of light reading, she always had one. Hermione didn’t have many friends though. To be truthful, she didn’t have any. Before school was study time, recess was spent in the library, lunchtime she could be found completing homework, after school she would be doing more homework, weekends she would read. This all changed one special day. It was the 19th of September 1980, Hermione’s birthday. Hermione didn’t expect anything, maybe the book she’d been hoping for, the new set of pens she had pointed out to her parents. What she did not expect was a surprise. Neither did her parents. Hermione woke up as an eleven year old on the 19th to a very big surprise.
At 8:30am on that special Friday, an owl flew in through the open window in the kitchen. Peter and Hermione were still in bed, so Jean was the only one up. Jean, caught by surprise, just stared at the stunning tawny owl who looked very pleased with himself. The doorbell sounded, making Jean jump. She hurried to get the door. Standing before her was a man. The strangest man she had ever seen. He had high boots, a long red cloak, a magnificent white beard, a pointed hat and half-moon spectacles. He was a tall man and looked very old, but wise. He was smiling. No, actually, he was beaming, beaming broadly. This man, was Albus Dumbledore. The appearance of Dumbledore had frozen Jean, and she forgot her manners completely.
“Good Morning, Mrs Granger I presume,” Albus Dumbledore said. “My name is Professor Albus Dumbledore. I am here to talk to you about your gifted daughter, Hermione. May I come in?” Shell-shocked, Jean nodded. Professor Dumbledore strode into the house and looked around.
“Would you like to talk to Hermione or Peter and I?” Jean asked politely.
“All three of you please, if you don’t mind,” replied Professor Dumbledore smoothly. Jean hurried off to wake Peter and Hermione. Professor Dumbledore saw the owl, and took the letter from him. The owl ruffled his feathers and flew back out the window. He then took a seat in an armchair nearby. Jean appeared a minute later.
“They’re getting ready, won’t be a minute,” Jean said. “Would you like some tea? Coffee? Anything?”
“Coffee if it’s not too much trouble. Just black, no sugar.”
“Of course.” Jean practically ran to the kitchen, just as Peter and Hermione came into the lounge room, looking sleepy.
“Good Morning.” Peter greeted Professor Dumbledore. “I’m Peter Granger, this is Hermione. How are you?”
“Good Morning to you too. My name is Professor Albus Dumbledore. Pleased to meet you. I’m very well thank you. How are you?”
“I’m great, Professor Dumbledore.” Peter responded.
“And how about you, Hermione?” Professor Dumbledore asked.
“I’m good Professor,” replied Hermione. Jean came into the room with Professor Dumbledore’s coffee.
“Ah, thank you,” said Professor Dumbledore graciously. “Now, down to business. You daughter, Hermione, has been offered a place at my school.”
“We hadn’t registered her at a new school,” said Peter, astonished.
“Oh, sorry, my fault,” Professor Dumbledore backtracked quickly. “Your daughter is very special. You may not even know how special. Hermione has powers. I also have these powers. You see, your daughter is a witch.”
“A … what?” Jean looked astounded. Hermione had turned very pale. Peter had frozen.
“A witch,” Professor Dumbledore repeated. He took out a thin piece of wood. He gave it a swish and flick, and the flowers on the table beside Hermione rose into the air. Hermione gave a little jump, Jean gasped and Peter unfroze.
“A witch?” he asked. “I mean, an actual witch. With wands and potions and dragons?” You could hear the disbelief in his voice.
“Certainly,” Professor Dumbledore replied. “Hermione, take my wand.” Hermione looked startled, but eager at the same time. She took the wand timidly. Hermione waved the wand at the photograph of herself on the wall. The photo slid about thirty centimetres across the mantelpiece. Jean gave another little gasp and the disbelief flew from Peter’s face. Hermione looked pleased with herself. Professor Dumbledore just observed.
“I’ll have that back now, thank you,” Professor Dumbledore held out his hand for the wand. Hermione swiftly handed it over. Professor Dumbledore proceeded to tell the Granger’s about Hogwarts, the school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He spoke of the train, a place called Diagon Alley and Gringotts, the wizarding bank. He spoke of Charms, Transfiguration, Herbology, Potions and Defence Against the Dark Arts. He spoke of wands, cauldrons and Galleons (wizard money). Finally he finished.
“So, Hermione is a witch,” said Peter, summing everything up. “And she is going to a place called Hogwarts to learn magic on the 1st of September next year. She needs to buy her wand, books and robes at Diagon Alley. Why is Hermione magic? Jean and I aren’t?”
“Yes, yes, yes and yes. You and Jean are what we call muggles. It means you are not magical in any way. Hermione is a muggleborn. She has muggle parents, but she herself is a witch, not a muggle.” Professor Dumbledore explained. “I’m terribly sorry, but I’ve got to run. On the 10th of June, there will be someone to help you into Diagon Alley. This letter will also explain some things.” He gave Peter the letter the owl had delivered. Professor Dumbledore then proceeded to give directions to Platform 9 ¾ , Diagon Alley, told them to bring lots of money and with a swish of his cloak, he was out the front door. He had reached the footpath when he called back;
“And Happy Birthday, Hermione!” and was off.
It was the 10th of June, and the Grangers were standing outside a tiny, grubby looking pub. No one else seemed to notice it, as everyone else’s eyes slid from the record shop to the bookshop, which were either side of the Leaky Cauldron. The door opened to reveal a bald man, who was hunched over. He walked over to the Grangers.
“Hello there,” he croaked. “I’m Tom. Looking for Diagon Alley?” Peter and Jean nodded. “This way then.” The Grangers followed tom through the dark and shabby bar, and out a door on the other side. They came to a little courtyard, with a bin next to one of the brick walls. Tom took out a wand and tapped at some bricks. Then, to the Granger’s astonishment, the bricks groaned a bit, then began to move. The spun around and around until a large opening had appeared. They faced a cobbled street, which twisted and turned until it went out of sight. The nearest shop sold cauldrons. Up ahead there was an apothecary, a dark shop to the right with a sign out the front saying that it was the Eeylops Owl Emporium. Another shop had broomsticks on display, and the one out the front was labelled Nimbus 2000. There were shops for robes and telescopes, bat spleens and eels eyes, silver instruments and spellbooks, quills and parchment, potions and globes. Straight a head was a snowy white building. The words Gringotts, were painted across the bronze doors. Standing by the doors was a … a goblin? The goblin was short, had a pointed beard, long fingers and feet, was wearing a scarlet and gold uniform and bowed as they walked in. Tom led them through a second pair of doors, this time silver manned with two bowing goblins, and up to a counter. At the counter sat a goblin. He looked down at them and said
“Muggle money to Galleons, Sickles and Knuts please,” Tom replied. “Enough for a first years’ things.”
“£580 ($1000),” to the Grangers, holding out his hand. The Grangers handed him 12 £50 notes. The goblin, in return, handed a bunch of gold, silver and bronze coins all in a little bag. “Seventeen silver sickles to a gold galleon, twenty-nine bronze knuts to a sickle,” the goblin told them gruffly. “Have a nice day.” Tom ushered the Grangers back into the open. Tom started relaying directions.
“Robes over there, wand that way, books down there with parchment and quills, cauldron up here, scales and phials with cauldron, telescopes through there and animals are just around the corner. That should be all. Good day.” And with out another word, he left. The Grangers were left stunned.
“Come on!” Hermione urged her parents. “He said robes were this way.” Hermione led her parents to a shop that read Madam Malkin’s Robes for all occasions. Hermione pushed the door open and went in. Madam Malkin was a smiling witch dressed in mauve.
“Hogwarts?” she asked.
“Yes please,” Hermione answered. Madam Malkin beckoned Hermione through to the back of the shop. She slipped some robes over Hermione’s head and started pinning it to the right size.
“So, are you muggles?” Madam Malkin asked. She continued at Peter’s nod. “Bet it’s a surprise to you, this witch and wizard thing.” Another nod, from Peter and Jean this time. Hermione stood still.
“Does it matter,” Hermione started, “being a muggle born? Does it have any affect?”
“Not at all, dear,” Madam Malkin replied. “If anyone studies hard enough, they will pass exams and tests, won’t they, dear?” Hermione nodded. This had been worrying her a bit, but now she didn’t think she needed to. “Right, that’s you done!” Peter payed for the robes, and they left.
Hermione led her parents round Diagon alley to get all of her equipment. Soon after, they left Diagon alley to return to Dorchester Drive. Hermione was ecstatic. She quickly took all her books to her room and began reading immediately. She had gotten a few extra books to learn about the wizarding world a bit more. She started practising spells with her new wand, vine wood, dragon heartstring 10 ¾ . She was pleased that she mastered all the spells she tried very quickly. Day by day, she ticked off the calendar to September 1st. Finally, it was the 31st of August, and she was excited. She was also nervous. What if she didn’t know enough? She read all the books until she memorized them. What if being muggleborn was a problem. She pushed the thoughts aside. I’m not going to be negative. She went to bed.
Peter and Jean were tearful. Hermione was excited. They had just gotten to King’s Cross station, but Peter and Jean were muggles, they couldn’t get onto the platform. Hermione said goodbye to them. Her parents watched as she walked forward with her trolley, straight towards the barrier between platforms nine and ten. Then she disappeared.
Hermione looked back and saw a brick wall. Then she turned forward. She was ready for this new phase in her life.