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The Slytherin Court

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Hermione Granger knew she was different. She loved learning, and reading was her favorite pastime. When she realized that she was unusual (bookish, in the words of her classmates), she rallied and resolutely stuck to her views. In her avidity, she unwittingly pushed her peers away with a simple, “Honestly, don’t you lot read?”  She became an outcast,  a shadow on the wall that no one wanted around.

While at first it bothered the young girl, she soon realized that she was excelling in everything that was brought before her. Her genius caused her to skip grades, going from a 1st year to a 3rd. She would’ve gone to the 5th year like the teachers suggested if not for her overprotective parents. Hermione gladly took the years she could skip.

By the time Hermione was 10, she was able to do university level reading, math, and science. While she was in her 8th year in school she had already finished all of her studies for the year halfway through the term. Hermione read whatever book she could get her hands on. Her favorite genre was anything to do with a fantasy world. She would often dream about being in a magical world.

And then she turned 11. She received a curious letter to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Her parents didn’t want her to go but after seeing her curiosity, they couldn’t refuse. Accompanying her to the Leaky Cauldron, they warned her to be careful and to come back within two hours. Professor McGonagall assured them that she would make sure of Hermione’s safety, and took her into the tavern. Hermione headed off into an unknown world.

---

Hermione stood at the entrance of Diagon Alley and was stunned at all the wonderful sights. She was surrounded by magic. After the professor left, she pulled her face into a mask of indifference - as much as an 11 year old could - and began to walk about. She figured she looked more accustomed to magic this way.

She muttered to herself, “Fake it ‘till you make it. You got it, mum.”

With that in mind, she took a glance down at the list of materials needed. She was required to go to Gringotts to exchange her “muggle money” for wizard money. Squinting at her surroundings, she headed towards the conspicuous marble building.

When she was done exchanging her money (and gawking at the goblins), she started checking things slowly off her list. She received her uniform from a very kind lady named Madam Malkin. She was fitted for her robes, and watched with concealed fascination as she quickly whipped them up, folded them in the air, and placed them all neatly in a bag. After paying for them, Hermione nodded her head in thanks and quickly walked out, head held high. As she was on the way out she passed a blonde boy and his father. The boy held the door for her and she dipped into a fast curtsey before she walked out. She could feel their eyes on her as she left and faintly heard the boy ask who she was.

Next on the list was a wand. Entering Ollivander’s, she walked towards the counter and saw an old man.

She smiles at him. “Hello, sir. I’m Hermione Granger.”

His pale eyes watched her as he spoke. “Good afternoon. I presume you are in need of a wand?”

“Yes, sir. I’m just starting at Hogwarts.” She shifted under his persistent gaze.

“Hermione Granger,” he murmured. “When is your birthdate, dear?”

As she opened her mouth to reply, a flying tape measure started measuring her height.

She frowned, saying, “September 19...Sir, how much do my physical characteristics affect my wand?”

He looked up at her, smiling slightly. “Not very much. But if we can narrow the search down even a smidgen, it will assist us in finding the wand for you. The wand chooses the wizard, you know. What’s your wand arm?”

“If you mean my dominant hand, it’s my left.”

Ollivander suddenly moved, walking hurriedly to a shelf near the back of the room. Hermione heard the shifting of boxes.  

Then he hands her the one. She felt something inside of her come alive. A vine wand, made with a dragon heartstring. Awed, she thanks him and hands him 7 galleons.

She collects her books, her quills, and the rest of the items on her list just as her two hours are up. Carrying her bags she walks leisurely back towards where she entered from. With confident steps she passes a gaggle of young witches admiring the young boy with very fair hair and his father from afar. She brushes by, accidentally knocking over a girl’s pink leather tote bag.

The teen whirled around, bleached hair flapping. “Hey! Watch it!”

Hermione turned. “Oh sorry. I didn’t mean to…”

“Yeah, well whether you meant it or not, my bag is still dirty! Do you know how much this costs? Oh Merlin, mum is going to kill me!”

“I-I’m sorry. I can’t offer anything else but my apologies.”

The teen scoffed as her friends shook their heads. “Apologies?! What good will that do? You owe me at least 140 galleons.”

“I don’t have that kind of money! It was an accident, can’t you let it go?”

“No, I can’t! I--” What was about to be a long rant was cut off as a smooth voice interjected.

“I’m sorry, is something the matter?” The man with long blond hair and tailored clothes intervened.

“Oh,” the teen breathed, “No problem at all. You’re Lucius--”

“Malfoy. Lucius Malfoy. I think you should let this one go, don’t you? She hardly looks able to pay for a bag that… luxurious.” He gestured towards Hermione. She bristled internally, but said nothing.

The teen looked slightly mollified, but couldn’t resist a snide comment aimed at Hermione.  “Yes, she looks rather like a--”

Lucius Malfoy once more interrupted, saying “Fabulous. Now, if you don’t mind…” He trailed off delicately. The group of girls got the message and turned on their heels, prissily walking down the street.

Hermione took the opportunity to thank the pair. “Thank you, for holding the door open and for saving me. It was very kind. I do hope I’ll see you at Hogwarts. Have a good day.” With a final nod she walks past the two.

“Father, do you know her? Where is she from?” The young boy asks.

“I don’t know Draco, I’ve already told you that. Now don’t nag, it’s unbecoming,” Lucius admonished but the rest of his sentence was muffled as Hermione continued to walk away. Once safely away Hermione allowed herself a small giggle. She knew she should’ve introduced herself (her mother raised her right, after all), but she liked the mysteriousness that surrounded her in the magical world. She didn’t get that at school. Everyone whispered behind her back, called her names and ignored her simply because she was younger and smarter than them. She was tired of being underestimated.

Ignoring the dark turn her thoughts took, she walked out of the magical realm to see her parents approaching her. As she smiled widely at them, she excitedly told them all about the strange new world she became a part of.  

---

The small family arrived home. Hermione quickly scrambled out of the car with all her new things and made a beeline for her room. Flopping onto her bed, she reached over and grabbed one of her new books. Hogwarts: A History , she muses, This is a good place to start.

It had already been about 5 hours since she had been home, and her nose was still stuck in her new book. She already adored the stories that the book had written on its pages. Her favorite part had to be the biographies of the Four Founders. Hermione also was fascinated with the traits they chose for. How Godric Gryffindor commended bravery and chivalry, Helga Hufflepuff promoted patience, loyalty and fair play, Rowena Ravenclaw required intelligence, knowledge and wit, and how Salazar Slytherin valued ambition, cunning and resourcefulness.

Once she had learned about the different houses, she tried to figure out which house would suit her best. Even at a young age, Hermione Granger was nothing if not self aware. She knew that Hufflepuff was the least likely. Simply put, she wasn’t a patient or fair person. If she could use something to her advantage, she should use it at the best possible moment. A petty reason not to be picked for a house, but she felt it unfair if she believed she fit in all the houses. She honestly couldn’t be that special. She guessed that the Sorting Hat would place her in Ravenclaw. She knew she was smart.  Ravenclaw just seemed to be the obvious choice.

After determining what house she would have the greatest chance of joining,  she dove back into her book and read until her eyes became far too tired to keep up. She slipped off into sleep, the book wide open underneath her.

---

Hermione looked around the area she opened her eyes to. It was dark, not a single light source to be found. It was oppressive, and she found it hard to find her balance. Your eyes are a major part of your vestibular system, her mind supplied.

Hermione...

A voice whispered into her ear, at least it felt like whatever it was that was talking to her whispered it into her ear. But when she turned around, nothing was there just the same blackness. Frowning, Hermione turned in circles.

Hermione, become the catalyst.

The voice continued to whisper. Hermione looked around the dark area, but continued walking.

Do not fear the road that has not been walked.

Embrace the unknown.

Embrace the final truth, your true destiny.

The voices started overlapping with themselves, the message becoming a jumbled mess.

“What do you mean? That doesn’t make any sense! What am I supposed to do?” She yelled out into the blackness but she knew it was useless. Whatever was there, was gone now. Hermione frowned down at her bare toes. She simply did not like knowing.

~~~

“Mum, Dad! Please hurry! I don’t want to miss the train!” Hermione said as she waited impatiently by the front door. Her trunk was at her feet, packed with all the supplies she could possibly need while she started her first term at Hogwarts.

Hermione heard her mum laugh. “We’re on our way down, Hermione. We won’t be late. Jackson has kept us on time since before you were born.”

Hermione looked up to the quiet man that was standing beside her. He was so quiet she actually forgot he was there. The mark of a good serviceman, she supposed. He was older, in his 50s. His black hair had grey streaks and he wore a nicely tailored black blazer. She turned her attention back to her mother, who was still upstairs.

“It’s not Jackson that I’m worried about, mum! I’m worried about you and dad! You both are going to make me late, and I’ll miss the train!” Hermione stated, her hands on her hips. She was wearing a simple white short sleeved shirt and a skirt. She hoped to make a good impression.

“Relax, dear. You won’t be late,” her dad said, coming down the hallway. He was straightening out his plaid button-down (typical dad, she always teased) as he walked. When he got to his daughter he wrapped her up in a hug and kissed the crown of her head.

Hermione blinked her brown eyes up at her father. “I certainly hope not! How else will I get to school?” Her father laughed at her, and her mother appeared right behind him.

“Come, dear. Your father and I are both down here now. Jackson, if you would please be so kind as to bring Hermione’s trunk to the car. We will be out in a moment.”

Jackson nodded, took the large trunk and walked out the door. Hermione’s mother looked to her. “Are you sure you have everything packed dear?”

“Of course, mum. Now let’s go, please! We should have left 5 minutes ago!”

“Toothbrush? Toothpaste?”

Hermione groaned. “Mum!”

Her mum laughed, “Very well. Let’s go, dear.”

Hermione grinned and then bounded out the front door. Her parents looked at each other with smiles and her dad shook his head as he held the door open for his wife.