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The Real Magic by goldensnidget92

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–You need not be sorry for her. She was one of the kind that likes to grow up. In the end she grew up of her own free will a day quicker than the other girls.” - Peter Pan, JM Barrie

The summer term in any primary school is by far the best term of the year. Teachers and pupils alike seem to have finally woken up from the gloomy months of the previous term, and can almost taste the summer holidays. Rules become more lax, lessons become less taxing, and people collectively wish for that final bell that signals six whole weeks of freedom.

Not Hermione, however. Her class had to take a series of exams to show that they had not wasted the last four years of their education; and the teachers had put a lot of pressure on them to do well. Hermione wasn’t worried about the exams. In fact, she was quite enjoying them. They gave her something to focus her mind on, to distract her from the regret that had cast a shadow over her life for the last couple of months. Even though it was already the end of May, Jamie still wouldn’t forgive her. He spoke to her when he had to, and still sat at the same table, but he spent most of the time in silence.

She had apologised again and again, but she knew deep down that she didn’t deserve forgiveness. Hermione was aware that Jamie’s father had forbidden him to speak to her, but she didn’t blame him in the slightest for obeying the man. There didn’t seem to be any point in going against Mr Lovell, and Hermione was determined not to get Jamie into trouble again.

They received their exam results in the middle of June. Hermione, slightly mollified, was announced to be the first pupil in the school’s history to achieve one hundred per cent in all her subjects. But an accidental glance at Jamie’s results sheet revealed that he had not done so well, especially in Reading. Hermione wondered how his father would react.

But the days were melting into each other, and there was hardly time to think about her problems as her class began to prepare for secondary school, and bid farewell to their teachers, ready to move on.

The last day of school did not seem of much importance to Hermione. She had few fond memories of the place, except for those of the library. She hoped next year might be different, but she had already resigned herself to much of the same treatment. The difference was that she no longer cared. She felt immune to the jibes of her classmates, but then, she was immune to feelings altogether since she had betrayed her only friend.

As the final school bell rang - to cheers from the children and sighs of relief from the adults - she slowly began to pack away her things. The classroom emptied rapidly, and soon it was only her and Jamie still at their table. The silence filling the space between them grew. The longer it lasted, the harder it was to speak.

–Bye,” mumbled Jamie, slinging his bag over his shoulder and turning to go.


–I’ve got to go. Mum’s waiting.” He hurried out of the room. Hermione fastened the clasp on her satchel and headed over to her peg to pick up her PE kit. She looked around for the last time at the silent, empty classroom: it was strange with no one in it. She saw the half-pulled-out chairs, pencils that had fallen to the ground, pencil shavings that had missed the bin, and a discarded pair of broken scissors. It was as though everyone had evaporated on the spot. She wandered through the school, taking a breath before walking out of the doors, knowing that she would never come back.

She wasn’t sure how she felt. Empty? Or was she just disappointed that she didn’t feel more emotional, and was trying to make this day more special than it really was. Was there any point in feeling nostalgic? She hadn’t changed or grown up during the seconds that piercing bell had rung, signaling the end of her primary school days.

As she approached the emptying playground where parents waited to greet their children, she saw her mother talking in earnest to Jamie’s mum. She thought it strange: what did they have to say to each other? Mrs Lovell and Jamie left without seeing Hermione, and she hurried up to her mother, eager to find out what they had been talking about.


–Hello! What were you-”

–Can’t talk now, Hermione. We’ve got to get home quickly; there’s someone waiting for you.”

–What? Who?”

–I’ve never heard of her before. Funny name. Said she’s the deputy Headmistress of some school. Do you know who it could be?”


–Are you sure your teachers haven’t spoken to you about going to a different school?”

–Yeah, I’m sure.”

–Well, your dad’s with her now. We’d better get back quickly; I think it’s quite important.”

They hurried the last five minutes home, and Hermione was pushed through the front door. She was confused. Why would someone from a school want to talk to her? She hadn’t applied anywhere else. Maybe it was something to do with her getting one hundred per cent in her exams.

She hurried into the sitting room, and stopped abruptly in the doorway. The woman perching on the very edge of an armchair, who stuck out in her strange clothes, looked exactly like one of the witches from her favourite Roald Dahl book. She wore long black clothes that hung heavily from her neat frame. What Hermione could only describe as a cloak was fastened under the woman’s neck, and her hair was pulled back into a fierce bun. Mr Granger stood up on Hermione’s approach and gestured for her to come closer. –This is Hermione, Miss - er - sorry, what was your name again?”

The woman stood up. She was very tall and thin, with a no-nonsense face. –I am Professor Minerva McGonagall, and I have come to talk to your daughter about attending my school in September. Please, sit down.” She gestured to the sofas. Mr and Mrs Granger sat down obediently, apparently oblivious to having been ordered to sit in their own home. Hermione perched on the arm of the sofa, next to her mother.

–So, what kind of school is it?” asked Mrs Granger.

–It is a school for magic.”

There was a stunned silence, then Mr Granger began to laugh. –Oh, ok, yeah. Very good. A school for magic. Did Glen put you up to this?” He continued to chuckle to himself. Hermione remained silent.

–Mr Granger, I am afraid I am not joking. I come from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where I am Deputy Headmistress, Head of Gryffindor house, and Transfiguration teacher. I have come to talk to you about it because your daughter is a witch.”

Mr Granger’s smile faltered. Mrs Granger gasped. Hermione remained silent.

–Alright now, you’ve had your joke; very funny. But you’re taking it a little far, don’t you think?” said Mr Granger.

–On the contrary,” said Professor McGonagall, withdrawing a thin wooden stick from a fold in her clothes. –I think this would be taking it too far.”

She flicked the stick in the direction of the coffee table, inexplicably transforming into an otter, which ran over to Hermione and began to sniff her toes. Mrs Granger shrieked, and Mr Granger’s mouth hung open, his eyes wide, staring disbelievingly at the animal now clutched in his daughter’s hands. –How… how did you-”

–Magic,” said Professor McGonagall.

Hermione couldn’t explain it otherwise. She didn’t want to explain it otherwise. She looked into the otter’s eyes. This was not a trick. This was real. She stared at the strange woman standing before her. –Can you teach me how to do that?”

Professor McGonagall’s expression softened. –It will take a few years, but with hard work, yes, you’ll be able to do that.”

Hermione turned eagerly to face her mother, who was gazing at the woman dazedly. –Perhaps you'd better tell us more,” she said weakly.

Professor McGonagall resumed her seat, and began to talk, giving an explanation that sounded as though she’d given it hundreds of times before. –Unbeknownst to the majority of the population of this country, there are two separate communities: the magical community, and the non-magical community. The non-magical community - we call them Muggles - consists of people like yourselves, and occupies the larger part of the nation. However, living in relative secret is the magical community, comprised of wizards and witches. We have our own government and laws, but keep out of the way of Muggles to avoid unnecessary rifts.

–We train children from the ages of eleven to eighteen in our school, Hogwarts. It is the only wizarding school in the country, and educates young witches and wizards in subjects such as Transfiguration, Charms, Potions and Herbology."

–So is that where I’d be going?” asked Hermione.

–It is.”

Hermione looked at her parents, who were staring at Professor McGonagall, a mixture of disbelief and confusion on their faces. They didn’t look capable of speech. –Are you a witch?” whispered Hermione.


–Did you go to Hogwarts too?”

–Yes. It’s been there for over a thousand years.”

–You mean there’s always been this… other community?” interjected Mr Granger, his voice slightly hoarse.

–There has. As long as there are humans, there will be witches and wizards.”

–So why don’t you show yourselves? Why hide?” he asked.

–Because there has always been a certain amount of hostility felt towards us from Muggles. The witch-burnings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, although largely inaccurate, certainly didn’t encourage open displays of magic. There is no way we can solve every Muggle problem, and as some would demand our help, we find it is easier to keep in hiding.”

–How many of you are there?”

–About three thousand in Britain. Numbers vary in other countries, of course.”

–But what about Hermione?” said Mrs Granger, speaking for the first time. –How can she be a witch when we’re not?”

–She is what we call a Muggle-born. Sometimes, genes are passed down through a family for generations from a witch or wizard who married a Muggle. They don’t always show themselves, and can suddenly spring up in one person. That witch or wizard is usually the first in many generations of that family.”

–So, what about this school? What kind of school is it?”

–It is quite a large school - about one thousand students attend it. However, it is a boarding school, and Miss Granger would be expected to stay there during the term time.”

–A boarding school?” Mrs Granger repeated. She cast an anxious glance at her husband, who looked troubled. –I don’t think we can afford to send Hermione to a boarding school.”

–Oh, Hogwarts is funded by the Ministry of Magic. You don’t need to worry about money.” There was a long pause. –I realise that this must come as a bit of a shock.” Her voice was gentle now, and she turned to look at Hermione. –You are the only one who will know this is true. I’m sure there are times when you did something without realising it - when you made something happen which you couldn’t understand or explain.”

Hermione knew exactly what Professor McGonagall was talking about. How could she not? It had plagued her for as long as she could remember. She nodded.

–Hermione? What do you mean? You never mentioned anything!” exclaimed her mother.

–I didn’t want to worry you.”

–What happened?” asked her father.

–It’s just… when I was upset or angry because of something Lindsay Hannigan did, something would happen to her. I didn’t know why, but I knew it came from me. But it hasn’t happened in ages!”

–It doesn’t have to,” said Professor McGonagall. –It happening even once shows that you’re capable of magic.”

Hermione bit her lip. –Will it mean I’m not very good?”

–It doesn’t mean anything of the sort. If you work hard, you will be good. Here.” She pulled out a thick envelope from another fold in her clothes, and handed it to Hermione, who opened it, and read.

Dear Miss Granger,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.

Term begins on September 1st.

Yours sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall,

Deputy Headmistress.

There were a few other pages enclosed with the letter. One was a list of school supplies, and another seemed to be directions on how to get to a place called Diagon Alley. The final sheet showed a ticket for a train leaving on September 1st, from Platform 9 3/4, King’s Cross Station. Hermione passed the letters to her parents.

She didn’t quite know what to think. She looked again at the woman - the woman who really was a witch. Everything she had said made perfect sense. She, Hermione, had done things which she couldn’t explain, and the otter, which had curled up in her lap and fallen asleep, was the product of something that could only be described as magic.

But she couldn’t escape the feeling that this shouldn’t be happening to her. This should happen to a character in a book, not in real life. Real life was for ignoring people who didn’t understand you, who thought you were strange; fiction was where the miracles happened. But if this was real life, then she could go to this school, Hogwarts, and she would be the same as everyone else. She tried to picture it, but found it almost impossible. Almost. There, shrouded in darkness, was a flickering light. It began to grow, and she saw herself surrounded by people, laughing and joking, turning tables into animals. She looked hopefully at Professor McGonagall. –Are there lots of people like me? Muggle-borns?”

–Yes. Few people come from all-magical families these days. We call them pure-bloods. There are half-bloods too, of course. They come from half-Muggle, half-wizarding backgrounds.”

–What do you think, Hermione?”

–It’s all up to you.”

Her parents gazed at her anxiously. What if she was to go? She had no friends to leave behind. No one to miss her. She had been thinking only earlier of how bleak her visions of secondary school were. Why shouldn’t she?
Something held her back; something important. Jamie. She didn’t want to accept that he wasn’t her friend, that he wouldn’t miss her. But he hadn’t spoken to her in months. She needed to forget about him and move on; she had to grow up. –I want to go.”

–Are you sure?” asked Mrs Granger, reaching up a hand and stroking her daughter’s hair.

–Yes. It’ll be strange, but I can’t not go. Not now that I know.”

The three of them looked at Professor McGonagall, who stood up, suddenly businesslike. –Excellent. Now, if you see amongst these papers, there is a school supplies list, and directions to a street in London where you can buy them all. I will arrange for someone to meet you there sometime next week so that Miss Granger can get everything she needs. They will explain much more then. Meanwhile, I do advise you to employ the utmost discretion when divulging this information. Limit it to people to whom it would be detrimental not to know. I’ll send an owl shortly with further instructions.”

–A-an owl?” stammered Mr Granger.

–It is the preferred method of communication in the magical community. We use them to send letters to one another. Now, I must be going. Good day to you.” And with that, Professor McGonagall pointed the wooden stick at the otter, which molded back into the coffee table; turned on the spot, and vanished into thin air.

Mr Granger leapt off the sofa, staring open-mouthed at the point that just a moment ago had held a woman. –How… how did she-” He couldn’t finish the sentence.

Mrs Granger pulled Hermione into a tight hug. –I’m so sorry,” she murmured. –I know this must be awful for you. If we’d had any idea, we would’ve told you years ago. It’s not fair to spring it upon you like this.”

Hermione burrowed into her mother’s arms, smelling the clinically clean smell of the dentist which still hung on her clothes. It was not perhaps the most welcoming of smells, but it made her feel warm and safe. She breathed in deeply. –It’s ok. I’m ok.” Was she reassuring her mother, or herself?

–Are you sure you want to do this?”

–Yes. I want to learn to do stuff like she did.”

–What about staying away from home? Do you think you’ll be ok?”

Hermione paused. It would be strange not seeing her parents for so long. She honestly didn’t know whether she’d be alright. –I don’t know. But it’s got to be better than going to a normal secondary school.”

–What do you mean?” demanded her father, finding his voice at last.

–Dad, I’m not one of the ‘cool’ people. Everyone already thinks I’m weird.” Her cheeks flushed red. Saying it out loud made it sound so pathetic.

–What about Jamie, darling?” asked her mother.

–He doesn’t like me anymore. Not after…” She trailed off, a lump rising in her throat like it always did when she thought about what had happened. It was one of the reasons she could never speak about it.

–Well, I don’t think that’s entirely true. I was speaking to Mrs Lovell today, before you both came out of school. She thinks he’s missing you more than he’s letting on.”

–Why isn’t he speaking to me, then?”

–Because his father told him not to.” Hermione scoffed at that, but was quieted with a frown. –He cares very much about Jamie.”

–It doesn’t seem like it! Why won’t he let us be friends?” Hermione whined.

Mrs Granger looked at her daughter closely. Hermione wasn’t one to act childishly, and she couldn’t remember the last time she had actually whined. This must be hurting her more than she would admit. –There is a reason,” she said calmly, trying to convey the importance of what she was about to relate by looking directly at her daughter. –But you have to promise not to tell anyone.”

Hermione sat up, interested. –Ok.”

–Mrs Lovell was telling me that there’s a reason why Mr Lovell has been so worried about Jamie’s dyslexia, and why he only wants the best scientific help. It’s because Mr Lovell himself is dyslexic. He had it a lot worse when he was younger, but his parents never took him to get tested. He never got any help, and was bullied because people thought he was just stupid. It wasn’t until he was much older that someone advised him to take a test, and it came through positive, that he realised there was more to his trouble learning than people said.

–So now Jamie’s got it, he’s been trying desperately hard to be the opposite of his own parents. He wants to get Jamie as much help as possible. Unfortunately, he seems to have forgotten that a love for something works ten times better than any science experiment can.

–So you see, he’s just trying to do the best for his son. Jamie’s not really angry at you - he might have been at first, but really he’s just doing whatever it takes to please his dad. Who really does love him.”

Hermione’s mind was working slowly. If Jamie wasn’t cross with her, then what she had done hadn’t been quite as awful as she’d supposed! –So… so Jamie’s dad’s not really horrible?” she asked weakly.

–No,” Mrs Granger chuckled, –he’s just like any other parent.”

–So… can I be friends with Jamie again?”

–Maybe. Mrs Lovell’s going to talk to Mr Lovell tonight. Try and convince him that there’s nothing wrong with you two being friends.”

It was almost too much to take in in one afternoon. Hermione tried to separate all the new information she’d been given. She was a witch. That meant that she could do magic. She would be going to a school for witches and wizards in September. Mr Lovell was actually nice. She could be friends with Jamie again. She could be friends with Jamie again! Despite everything else that had been cast upon her today, this was what kept surging to the front of her mind. She hadn’t had the faintest hope of ever being able to talk to him again, and now she was told that she might soon be friends with him once more! She threw her arms around her mother, a wide grin lighting up her face. –This is the best day ever!” she whispered. She wasn’t lying.