Hermione Granger’s room was just like that of any other teenage girl. Maybe a few more books than clothes, but all in all there was nothing about the room that suggested that strange and mysterious things often happened to the girl that occupied it, except that the titles of the books included Hogwarts: A History, A History of Magic and Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts.
On the nightstand, there stood a photograph of three teenagers: a girl with bushy brown hair, with her arms around two boys, one with red hair and freckles, the other with messy black hair and bright green eyes, all three waving at the camera. This was Hermione and her two best friends, Ron Weasley and Harry Potter, and, truthfully, strange and mysterious things happened to all three of them, not just her.
Avoiding strange and mysterious things when you attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was like trying to get Harry’s hair to lie flat. It just wasn’t possible. She should know; she’d tried it enough times.
To be completely honest, it may have been more possible to avoid those things, if it weren’t for Harry. Harry’s penchant for trouble had started when he was just fifteen months old, when Lord Voldemort – the most evil wizard since Grindelwald – had murdered his parents before turning his wand on the young child. Somehow, the curse had backfired, reducing Voldemort to a mere spirit and leaving Harry with a lightning bolt scar and the nickname ‘The Boy-Who-Lived’.
Trouble followed Harry around like a plague, but she wouldn’t swap him for the world.
In fact, it was because of this trouble that they were even friends in the first place: Voldemort had possessed their first year Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Quirrell, in an attempt to steal the Philosopher’s Stone – a rare gem that could create the Elixir of Life and was hidden at the school.
On Halloween night, in an attempt to lure Headmaster Dumbledore and the other teachers away from the hiding place, Quirrell/Voldemort let a mountain troll into the school – a mountain troll that trapped Hermione in the girls’ bathroom.
Harry and Ron, realising in the panic that she was missing, went to find her and, through sheer dumb luck and a cleverly placed Levitation Charm (even though Ron swore it was just the first spell that came into his head), saved her life.
The three young Gryffindors became best friends and went on to help save the Philosopher’s Stone from Voldemort’s clutches, escaping with only the slightest of injuries (except for Harry, who nearly died, but Hermione had become abnormally used to that as well).
In their second year, Ron’s younger sister, Ginny, had been possessed by a diary that had belonged to Tom Riddle, Voldemort’s alter-ego.
As a result, the Chamber of Secrets had been opened and several students, including Hermione, had been Petrified.
Despite a fake as a DADA teacher and Professor Dumbledore’s temporary removal from the school, Harry and Ron had discovered what had been going on and Harry had saved Ginny’s life.
Last year, it had seemed that Harry’s life was, once again, in danger. A dangerous criminal had escaped from Azkaban Prison and was supposedly after Hermione’s best friend.
However, as always with Harry’s luck, it swung both ways. In response to this threat, Professor Dumbledore hired Remus Lupin as the DADA teacher, a man who quickly became the favourite of most students.
Despite the intimidating presence of Dementors around the school and the inability to visit Hogsmeade with the rest of his class-mates, Harry’s year only improved with the arrival of the first Quidditch match and two rather special substitute teachers.
“I don’t like this.” Oliver Wood repeated, for the hundredth time, as the team strode through the driving rain.
“Oliver, have you ever heard of something called psychology?” Harry asked, peering through his fogged up glasses. “Because the more you say that, the more nervous we get.”
“Hey,” Fred Weasley said suddenly. “Who’s that?”
“Where?” George Weasley squinted through the driving rain.
“There,” Angelina Johnson pointed in the direction of the gates. “Fred’s right.”
Just visible to the seven students, two figures were battling the elements, each trying to manoeuvre a trunk at the same time.
“Do you think we should go and help them?” Katie Bell asked. “We’ve got time.”
Oliver glanced at his watch and sighed. “Alright, come on then. There’s nothing we can do at the pitch.”
The team battled over with umbrellas and soon reached the two visitors, who, close-up, were revealed to be women, soaked to the skin.
“Do you want a hand?” Alicia Spinnet asked, raising her voice to be heard over the howling wind.
“Thank you!” One of the women beamed. “But shouldn’t you be at the game?”
“Doesn’t start for another hour,” Oliver told her. “Come on, team.”
Oliver and George took one trunk and Fred and Harry took the other, and they battled their way back to the castle, finally arriving in the Entrance Hall.
Noise from the Great Hall told them that breakfast was still on-going, and the boys set the trunks down near the staircase.
“Thank you so much.” The first woman pushed her sopping blonde hair out of her face. She was the taller of the two, although not by much, slim, but not tiny, with warm amber eyes that took in the entrance hall with a smile. She couldn’t have been more than thirty-five.
“We had to resize them to get through security and then levitating them was too much of a push, especially in this wind. We thought about banishing them but …"
“In that wind, it would do more harm than good.” Her companion finished, wringing her cloak out, leaving a small puddle on the floor. Her face was rounder, and her hair shorter and darker, the colour of chestnuts. Her eyes were almost the same colour, with just as much warmth as her companion, but with a familiarity that Harry was sure he knew from somewhere. “Ten points apiece to Gryffindor.”
“You’re teachers?” Alicia asked.
“We’ll be covering for and assisting Professor Lupin with Defence Against the Dark Arts.” The second woman grinned at the looks of shock on their face. “I’m Arabella Figg.”
“And I’m Amanda Cotswold,” She looked around, taking in their faces. “I think I can guess a few names. Your Richard’s boy, aren’t you?” She pointed at Oliver. “Oliver?”
Oliver looked surprised. “Yes. How did you know?”
“I was on the team with your Uncle Tom,” Professor Cotswold smiled reminiscently. “Amazing Keeper, that guy. I think we might be in the presence of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, Ara."
Professor Figg chuckled. “I think you’re right. You two must be the Weasley twins. From what I remember they gave the boys a run for their money, right Mandy?"
They grinned. “Gred and Forge, at your service.”
Professor Cotswold laughed. “You still use those names? Molly always would insist on lettering your jumpers so that Lily could tell you apart when she baby-sat.”
“Trust James to give them other names to use.” Professor Figg turned to the three Chasers. “I’m afraid I can’t place you.”
“Angelina Johnson,” Angelina said with a smile. “Alicia Spinnet. Katie Bell.”
“Nice to meet you all,” Professor Cotswold directed her focus on Harry, who was surprised it hadn't happened earlier. “And you’re Harry Potter.”
Harry nodded, waiting for the familiar flick of their eyes to the scar on his forehead, but it didn’t come.
“I suppose you’ve been told this,” She continued with a sad smile. “But you have your mother’s eyes.”
Harry blinked in surprise. “Er … yeah. It usually comes after how much I look like my father.”
“Oh you do.” Professor Cotswold said quietly. “Small differences, but you do. But your eyes are definitely Lily’s.”
“Did you …?” Their words came floating back to Harry. “The Lily and James you mentioned earlier … they were my parents.”
Professor Figg nodded. “Lily was one of our best friends. Come and see us after the match, if Oliver’s anything like Tom, he’ll be itching to drag you down to the pitch.”
Oliver grinned sheepishly. “Right. Come on.”
“One second,” Fred requested. “What position did you play, Professor Cotswold?”
“Beater,” she answered.
“And who did we give a run for their money?” George asked eagerly.
“Oh, James and his friends.” Professor Figg answered vaguely, but with a hard note that clearly ended the line of questioning.
Fred and George didn’t look like they’d be swayed by this, but their next queries were cut off when Oliver and Katie seized Fred under the arms and dragged him towards the door, while Alicia and Angelina did the same with George.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for Harry’s luck to swing back to bad again, and he was soon plummeting fifty feet from his broom, paralysed by the crippling effects of the Dementors. Thankfully, Dumbledore was able to slow Harry’s descent, saving his life, even if his broom did fly into the Whomping Willow and end up match-sticks.
This was then followed by the discovery of the extent of Sirius Black’s crimes: he had betrayed his best friends, and Harry’s parents, James and Lily Potter, to Voldemort and, when confronted by Peter Pettigrew, another of their friends, had blown the street apart, killing Peter and twelve Muggles.
That year had been one of the worst of Hermione’s life. Her cat, Crookshanks, seemed intent on eating Ron’s pet rat, Scabbers, and Ron had stopped talking to her, especially when Scabbers disappeared, leaving only drops of blood and ginger hairs on Ron’s bed.
Hermione knew her cat was innocent – he’d been ill in her dorm all day – but Ron – and, even worse, Harry – refused to listen to her.
Harry’s silent treatment started at Christmas, when he had received a Firebolt – the best racing broom money could buy – with no note. Worried that it might be a ploy by Black to harm her best friend, Hermione had informed their Head of House, Professor McGonagall, who had confiscated the broom for testing.
Hermione was used to being alone and ignored – she had spent her childhood like that – but now she had friends, the experience hurt. On top of the sudden loneliness, she had to deal with the utter exhaustion of taking all of the electives offered by Hogwarts.
However, the ‘Golden Trio’, as they had come to be known, were reunited for a common cause when Hagrid’s hippogriff Buckbeak was to be executed by the Ministry of Magic. Upon visiting their large friend, they were pulled into another adventure – Ron quite literally – by a large black dog that turned out to be Sirius Black himself. Despite an interruption by their Potions teacher, Professor Snape, Sirius and Professor Lupin managed to tell them what really happened that day:
Peter had betrayed Harry’s parents and, when confronted, faked his death, killing twelve people in the process, and spent the next twelve years hiding as Ron’s pet rat, Scabbers, who had been found in Hagrid’s hut that evening.
Pettigrew unfortunately escaped and knocked out when the moon rose and Lupin transformed into a werewolf. Saved by Harry’s Patronus, the two conscious teens used a time-turner to travel back in time and rescue Buckbeak from execution and Sirius from the Dementor’s Kiss, helping the two fugitives escape together.
Currently, Hermione was sitting at her bedroom window, her head pounding and a fresh bruise on her face.
Her face was bruised because her father had overreacted a little when she’d told him she was dropping her two extra classes.
Her head was pounding because … Actually, she didn’t know why her head pounding. Recently her emotions seemed completely out of her control, things she didn’t understand, things she wasn’t even sure belonged to her.
Added to all that, she couldn’t shake the feeling that something awful was about to happen.
What was going on?