The Sugar Quill
Author: Arabella (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Hermione, Queen of Witches, Book Two  Chapter: Chapter Three
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The Secret Diary of Hermione Granger

~Year Two~

Disclaimer: Not even a little bit mine. Except for Gwen Ė who actually belongs to herself.

HQoW

December 4

Hi, Gwen. What a week.

Ever since Colin got Petrified, the whole school is on the lookout for Slytherinís monster. Some sixth year Ravenclaws have even started selling "protective" amulets and talismans to "ward off evil". How on earth is a big, smelly onion supposed to make a monster go away? People will buy anything. Neville bought an armload of crystals and newt-tails before he remembered heís pure-blood. But, "They went after Filch first," he said, "And everyone knows Iím almost a Squib." I told him heís no such thing (although, after an hour working with him on his Night Vision Potion, Iím not so sure. He nearly blinded us both.)

Iím feeling much better, though. The Polyjuice Potionís coming along nicely. In about another week, weíll need to add the Boomslang skin and powdered Bicorn horn, which means stealing from Snape. Weíre going to do it in next weekís Potions class. Iím determined to get this Polyjuice perfect. Iím going to do the actual stealing, because Iíve got a clean record. Ron and Harry are going to have to make some kind of diversion, just a little distraction to keep Snape from noticing me.

That sounds just as dangerous as the stealing.

Yes; itís about as safe as poking a sleeping dragon in the eye. But we have to do it. We have to. Hogwarts shouldnít be like this- people going Ďround in groups looking scared- the first years especially. Ginnyís taking it really hard because she used to sit next to Colin Creevey in her Charms class. Fred and George Weasley keep covering themselves with boils or fur, and jumping out at her as a joke. I think itís their way of cheering her up. They havenít noticed itís not working. Yes, thereís Fred, covered with fur again--- here comes Ginnyóoh, there it is. Now sheís sitting on the sofa, shaking like a leaf.

Tell him to stop it!

I donít have to; Harry just asked him to quit it Ė I donít think it was so much for Ginny as just to stop them making noise, but... oooooh, Ginnyís not shaking anymore, sheís blushing. My goodness, redheads certainly do blush hard.

Ronís red-headed, isnít he?

Yes, but he doesnít blush the same as Ginny. His ears turn red. It happens when heís embarrassed, and sometimes when heís mad, too. Like today in Potions, we had to make an Elastix Ointment, and the recipe called for two dead spiders. When I went to get the jar of them from the store-cupboard, Ron tried to trip me- who knows why, he just does that sometimes. When I got back and he tried to trip me again, I slapped the jar down in front of him and said, "If you need to shut your eyes, Ron, Iíll stir the scary spiders in for you." Harry smothered a laugh, and Ronís ears turned red. But I just couldnít help myself.

Of course not. What happened with the spiders?

Well, he doesnít mind them when theyíre dead, I guess, because he flicked one into my hair. Disgusting. I kept it, though. I might send it up to the boysí dormitory with Fred. He says if I want, heíll plant it under Ronís pillow, no problem, and he gave me a very appreciative smile when I asked him to do it. So there.

But you wonít, really?

I donít know. It depends on whether or not Ron behaves himself tonight while weíre studying. Heíd better watch his smart mouth, thatís all I have to say.

 

HQoW

December 11

Yes! We did it! I canít believe we actually got away with it! In Potions today, I actually sneaked out and stole the advanced ingredients from Snapeís private stores. I canít believe I did it. I still feel sort of... elated. I donít know. What a strange feeling. Right before class, I reminded Harry and Ron they were responsible for making the diversion, and didnít they look nervous! But I wasnít. I am dead determined to make this potion.

Harry was ready, even if he wasnít happy about it. Halfway through class, he took out one of the Weasley twinsí Filibuster fireworks, lit it with his wand and lobbed it into Goyleís cauldron. SPLASH!! Weíd been in the middle of making a Swelling Solution, and gobs of it went everywhere! I didnít wait to see what else happened- just slipped out, ran into Snapeís storeroom, unbottled a handful of Boomslang skin and some of Bicorn horn into little jars Iíd brought, hid them under my robe, and slid back into the dungeon. Snape was still giving Deflating Draughts to everybody whoíd been Swelled up, and didnít notice me leave or return! (He did, however, find the twisted remains of the firework in Goyleís cauldron, and he said that if he ever finds out who threw it, that person will be expelled. He was looking right at Harry. Harry tried to look innocent but he neednít bother- even if he hadnít done it, Snape would still think it was him.)

Weíve stirred in the horn and skin. The Polyjuice Potion will be ready in about two weeks- sometime during the Christmas holidays, I imagine. Thatís fine, because Professor McGonagall was making her list yesterday of all the students who are staying over Christmas, and I saw that Malfoyís name is on it. Harryís staying too, of course, and Ron and I signed up so weíd be here to keep him company and do the Transfiguring. Harry says heíll be Goyle, and Ronís going to be Crabbe. I donít know which of those Slytherin girls Iím going to be, but weíre all three going to be ugly, thatís for sure. My face might not be anything special, and my front teeth might stick out, but at least I donít look like a troll.

Hermione!

You wouldnít say that if you saw them. I never really care what people look like, but seriously, some of the girls in that house are just as scary as the boys. Ugh, Slytherin. What I wouldnít give to find something good on Malfoyóthis potion had better work. Iíve given so much effort to it that Iíve really let my regular studies slide. I mean, I got one answer off in our Herbology pop quiz the other day.

No.

I know. But Iím going to study right now, because end of term tests are next week- the 19th is the last day of classes before break. Iíll bet I can do extra credit for Professor Sprout and make up that point. Maybe sheíll let me give her some help with the Mandrakes- itís really important that they grow fast, now that Colinís been Petrified, too, because theyíre needed for the Restorative Draught. Iím going to go ask her if she wants a hand.

 

HQoW

December 16

Oh dear, Gwen. I donít know what to think. Harryís a Parselmouth. He can talk to snakes.

What? You never told me that.

I only just found out. Harry only just found out. Unfortunately, all of Hogwarts just found out. We were all in the Great Hall tonight because Professor Lockhart decided to start a dueling club so we could learn how to do a proper Wizardís Duel. We all three thought that would be extremely handy, and signed right upóI especially wanted to learn all Professor Lockhartís special techniques for dueling, I mean, what with all his experience!

Iím sure you did.

So first, Professor Lockhart got up with Snape to show us how to disarm one another. First you bow- and Professor Lockhart does a lovely bow, even if Harry says itís more like a curtsey- then you raise your wand, and then you try to set a charm on your opponent. In this case, they were only going to disarm each other. They bowed, raised wands, and Snape yelled "Expelliarmus!" which is the Disarming Charm- but he put so much force behind it that he knocked Professor Lockhart across the room and slammed him into a wall! The Slytherins all cheered, and even Harry and Ron were laughing- when I said, "Do you think heís all right?" they both answered at once, "Who cares?" I mean, Snape wasnít supposed to hurt him, he was supposed to disarm only, but heís such a nastyópoor Professor Lockhart, howís he supposed to teach us if Snape kills him?

I imagine thatís the idea.

In any case, then we were supposed to pair off and try it ourselves. Professor Lockhart paired Neville with Justin Finch-Fletchley, (a Hufflepuff boy whoís been working with us in Herbology). He was going to pair Harry with Ron next, but Snape came up and said, "Time to split up the dream team," and made Ron go with Seamus Finnigan. Harry tried to come partner me instead, but Snape wasnít interested in seeing any of us enjoy ourselvesóhe made Harry go with Malfoy, and I got put with Millicent Bulstrode. Sheís enormous- seriously- I was scared.

We all bowed and raised our wandsóbut thatís as far as it resembled any kind of respectable Wizardís Duel. The Great Hall seemed to explode all around me. I shouted "Expelliarmus!" but before the spell was half-out of my mouth, Millicent had disarmed me her own way, by bludgeoning my wand out of my hand with a great swat. Then she pointed her wand, and opened her big, heavy jawóbut nothing came out. She just stared at me with her puzzled, dead eyes and stammered, "Er...." So I ducked and made a quick dive to the floor for my wand. I had just got my fingers to it when Millicentís own wand clattered to the floor beside mine, and I felt a huge, muscled arm clamp Ďround my neck and lift me up onto my feet. She had me in a headlock. From where I was, I could do nothing but whimper and watch (upside-down) what my friends were trying to do.

Neville ducked Justinís spell, which went behind him and hit Parvati Patil, whose own spell got reversed, and she ended up disarming herself. Then Neville aimed his own spell, but so poorly that it hit Justin in the head and knocked him to the floor. Neville was so surprised that he fell, too, and they just lay there in a pile.

Ron hit Seamus with what would have been a perfect Disarming Charm, if it werenít for the fact that his wandís so badly broken. The spell hit Seamus in his wand-hand, but instead of disarming him it seemed to travel up his arm and into his body, turning him into jelly as it went. He looked weak and gray. Ron had to grab him under the arms and hold him up so he wouldnít fall down in a puddle, and all the while he was apologizing, "Sorry, sorryóbloody broken piece ofósorry, Seamus."

Harry was doing only slightly better, but he and Malfoy werenít pretending to stick to disarmingóthey were really trying to duel. Malfoy hit him in the stomach with a Breathtaker Charm ("Exhalio!") which is like getting slugged. Harry struck back with "Rictusempra!", the Laughing Charm. Between gasps of laughter, Malfoy managed to choke, "Tarantallegra!" and Harryís feet started to do a crazy tap-dance.

"Finite Incantatem!" It was Snape. All the spells in the room came to a shuddering halt. Half the Great Hall was on the floor, the other half was gasping, bleeding, or groaning, and I was still stuck under Millicentís armpit, where it was starting to smell. Harry yanked her off me before I gagged. I was more than ready to get out of there and be done with dueling, but Professor Lockhart decided it would be useful for us to learn to block unfriendly charms. Normally I would have agreed with him, but unless he was going to teach us to box, I didnít see how I was going to "block" Millicent.

He was going to have Neville and Justin do the demonstration, but Snape said no, it was a bad idea. He made fun of Nevilleís ability (horrible) and said theyíd be "sending whatís left of Finch-Fletchley up to the hospital wing in a matchbox." So he chose Harry and Malfoy to do it instead. Professor Lockhart showed Harry how to block- he did this really intricate wiggling motion with his wand, which I could hardly understand, I mean, it looked incredibly complex. I guess Harry didnít quite catch it either, because he had no idea what to do when Malfoy shouted out "Serpensortia!"

It was just the kind of dirty charm a Slytherin would know how to do. A giant snake burst out of Malfoyís wand, fell between them, and raised up to strike Harry! Snape wouldnít even do anything about it. He said, "Donít move, Potter. Iíll get rid of it," but then he just stood there, smiling like he was watching a movie with a happy ending. Thank goodness Professor Lockhart was there! He stepped up and knocked the snake away from Harry with some kind of Banishing spell- but unfortunately he knocked it in the direction of Justin Finch-Fletchley. Justin and the snake were eye to eye and it was poised to strike againó everyone was deadly quiet except Lavender Brown, who was cryingóand thatís when it happened.

Harry ran forward and let out these incredibly scary hissing noises, and the snake dropped to the ground, docile. It looked up from its coils at Harry as if it were nothing but a sweet little pet. Hagrid would have appreciated it- but Justin didnít. He looked at Harry like heíd rather have faced the snake any day, and shouted "What are you playing at?" Then he stormed out of the hall. This was followed by a general muttering and pointing, and everybody cleared a circle and started to back away from Harry. Ron grabbed both of us by the elbows and steered us out of there before anything worse could happen.

Harry didnít even know what heíd done, Gwen! He didnít realize heíd spoken a different language; to him it just sounded like heíd said, "Leave him alone!" But it was an evil hiss, I mean, even I thought he was egging it on or something. Iím sure Justin thought so. Itís really bad, because Salazar Slytherin was well known for being a Parselmouth- thatís why the symbol of Slytherin House is a serpent. And itís a really rare power to have, and so now everybodyís going to thinkó

That Harry Potter is the Heir of Slytherin.

Yes. And he canít disprove it. I mean, we know heís not, but since he doesnít know anything about his mum and dadís heritage, and since Slytherin lived about a thousand years ago.... it would be almost impossible to say. Itís not good, Gwen. Not good at all.

Ow, my neck. Itís going to be permanently damaged after what Millicent did to it. Iíll probably be crooked for the rest of my life. One good thing, though- wrestling with me, Millicent rubbed some of her hairs off on my robe. I have one in a vial. Iím going to use it in my dose of the Polyjuice Potion- Iím going to Transfigure into Millicent Bulstrode. Itís a disgusting thought, but itís only going to be for an hour.

Oh, Gwen, I hope Harryís okay. Everybodyís so uptight about the Chamber of Secrets- theyíre just looking for somebody to blame- what if they think he Petrified Colin and Mrs. Norris? Iím sure theyíll think so. Heís going to be in for a really rough time of it until we find the real Heir. If only he hadnít gone and hissed like that in front of everybody.

Heíll be all right, Hermione. You and Ron will stand by him, and Iím sure other people will see that heís not really Slytherinís Heir. You go ahead and rest, dear. Do you need to go up and see Madam Pomfrey for your neck?

Ugh, no. Half the school is up there trying to recover from bad charms. I donít think the dueling club is going to last, Gwen. Too bad, think of all Professor Lockhart could have taught us!

Yes, just think.

Oh well. Goodnight.

HQoW

December 17

Hang it! Gwen, am I never going to win a game of Wizard Chess? Ron canít be perfect, I have to beat him some time. His chessmen are so used to mine that they have no mercy. His bishops wrestle my knights off their horses, his King and Queen wonít even speak to mine, and all my little pawns are scared to play because his ones like to thwack them in their heads whenever theyíre taken. He needs to be beaten.

Need I remind you that last year, you were glad Ron was such an excellent chess player?

No you certainly neednít. Ron reminds me all day long. "Didnít hear you complaining when I saved your life. Admit it, Iím a genius." Honestly. Now heís trying to get Ginny to play, but sheís just wringing her hands, looking out the window. I think sheís sick again, and no wonder! I saw her come in from the snow this morning, wet to the skin. Thereís a bad blizzard out- what on earth was she doing? All the outdoor classes got cancelled. But maybe she forgot, and tried to go to Flying. Itís something I would do.

Harryís gone off to find Justin and explain what he really said to the snake. He wanted to tell him in Herbology today, but Greenhouse classes got cancelled, too. He looked as fretful as Ginny all morning. I hope he finds Justinóand I really hope Justin will believe him.

This blizzard is beautiful, Gwen. I was going to go check on the Polyjuice Potion, but I think Iím going to curl up by the fire and read awhile instead. I got a new book of the month- "Magical Institutions: From Alpenstachen to Zarholla". Itís all about wizarding schools around the world, and it should be fascinating. See you.

 

HQoW

Oh, itís awful, itís awful, itís awful, itísó

Hermione! Deep breath.

Justin Finch-Fletchley and Nearly-Headless Nick were both found Petrified half an hour ago.

Oh no!

Harry was standing next to them, alone, when they were found.

Oh no- that is awful.

I told you! He got carted right off to somebodyís office, and rumors are just flying. Two Petrifications. Nearly-Headless Nick! How on earth can you Petrify somebody thatís already dead? And to think, I was about to go out by myself and check that potion. Oh, Gwen, Gwen, whatís going to happen? Why does Harry have such terrible timing? How did he come to be standing thereónow everybody thinks heís the Heir, and the people who didnít think so last night are quickly changing sides. Even Gryffindors. Parvati just asked me if Iím afraid for my life. I said, "Why on earth would I be?" And she said, "Well, Harryís- I mean, you know- he knows all about you!" And I said "No kidding. Donít you think heís had loads of opportunities to kill me, if he ever wanted to do it?" But she just shook her head like sheís already at my funeral. This is going to get really nasty. Ginnyís sobbing in the first yearsí dormitory, and when I tried to help her she just choked, "No, no, donít talk to me, donít come near me!" I mean, thatís some crush sheís got. Harryíd better get back here quick and tell Ron and me just what is going on.

 

HQoW

December 20

Hi, Gwen.

The whole school stampeded out of here this morning to go home for the holidays, and I wonít miss them. Itís sickening to see how everybodyís treating Harry- like heís about to sprout fangs and Petrify them if they look at him sideways. At least the Weasleys and I donít think heís the Heir. Fred and George walk ahead of him in the hallways and say things like, "Move it, clear out, seriously evil wizard coming through!" It would be really funnyóif it werenít so awful. I keep telling people that he didnít have anything to do with Nick and Justin, but no one listens. They keep telling me that Iím insane to stay here over the holidays and give Harry a chance to attack me. Why wonít they look at the facts?? Then they wouldnít be in such a panic.

And the facts are?

That Harryís got a perfectly sound alibi. He was with Hagrid just seconds before he was found with the victims. You remember I said he went to look for Justin?

Yes.

Well he didnít find Justin, but in the library he overheard Ernie Macmillan and a whole bunch of other Hufflepuffs talking about what he did at the dueling club, and how heís a Parselmouth. They think it means heís a Dark wizard- they think thatís how he escaped Voldemort- they think thatís why Voldemort wanted to kill him in the first place, because he didnít want another Dark wizard to compete with! Harry couldnít stand to hear them go on, so he stepped forward and asked where Justin was. They wouldnít say, they were all too terrified, and Ernie even went so far as to tell Harry not to get any ideas, because the Macmillans are pure-blood for generations.

Well, now, really.

Isnít it idiotic? So of course Harry wanted to get away from them and come back to us. Thatís when he ran into Hagrid, who was going to find Dumbledore. He had a dead rooster in his fist (well, why not, itís Hagrid) and was trying to figure out what killed it- foxes or a Blood-Sucking Bugbear. He wanted to go up and get the Headmasterís permission to put a magic barrier around the chicken coop. So Harry said, Ďbye then, and kept going Ďround the cornerówhich is when he found Justin and Nick, lying Petrified on the hall floor. It was nothing but incredibly unlucky timing. Hagrid vouched for him, but everybodyís too panicked to be logical. Itís a mess. At least Harryís not in any troubleóDumbledore believes him.

Thatís a relief.

Yes. Professor McGonagall took Harry to Professor Dumbledore after he was found standing in the middle of that scene, and Dumbledore says he knows very well that Harry didnít attack any of these people. Harry said if he hadnít felt so nervous, he might have enjoyed the visit- he said the Headmasterís office is really a sight, and Professor Dumbledore even has a Phoenix up there!

Does he!

Yes, named Fawkes! Harry even got to see it burst into flames and rise up from the ashes! Professor Dumbledore told Harry that Phoenix tears heal wounds, and they also make extremely faithful pets. I wish Iíd seen it! Iíd love a faithful pet. Harry has Hedwig, Ronís got Scabbers, even Neville has Trevor the toad. I need a pet. I probably wonít be able to get anything like a Phoenix, but maybe an owl? No, I can get an owl from the Owlery if I ever need one. I want a pet that fits me. I donít know.

Anyway, Gwen, itís just me, Harry and the Weasleys, together in Gryffindor for the whole break. I think thatíll be so much fun! (Except, of course, when we take the Polyjuice Potion. Itíll be ready Christmas Eve, or Christmas. What a merry holiday thatís going to be, walking around inside Millicent Bulstrode. Ew, ew, ew.)

Why arenít the Weasleys going home for Christmas?

Their parents are going to visit their brother Bill. He works for Gringotts, in Egypt. Iím glad theyíre all here, they make me forget what a nightmare last term was. Fred and George are hysterical- they keep asking Harry who heís going to attack next, and waving garlic at him. The only person who doesnít think itís funny is Ginny- sheís desperate about it, really. I wish sheíd cheer up a little, I mean, how often do we get to play Exploding Snap as loud as we like? We can practice dueling, too. Maybe thatíll make Ginny feel betteróIíll teach her the Chicken Curse. Then, whenever Fred and George make her feel anxious, she can watch them walk around clucking and flapping their arms.

Percyís just come in. He says itís childish, the way weíre all behaving in here. Heís probably right, but for once, I donít care. Itís fun.

 

HQoW

December 25

Merry Christmas, Gwen!

Merry Christmas to you! I have a present for youóbut it will take a few hours for you to receive it. Next time youíre really bored and canít think of anything to study, tell me, and weíll do it.

Hmm! Iím intrigued! I wish I had something for you, though.

Believe me, the stories you tell are enough.

Thanks, Gwen. Want another one?

When have I ever said no?

Good point. Well, the Polyjuice Potion is ready. Weíre going to do it tonight. I have a plan all worked out. Iíve made two chocolate cakes filled with a Sleeping Draught. Harry and Ron need to make sure that Crabbe and Goyle eat them (and theyíre sure to, the greedy pigs.) Once theyíve passed out, they should be locked in a broom closet, and Harry and Ron should steal their shoes and a few of their hairs. Then theyíll meet me in Moaning Myrtleís bathroom, weíll take the potion, go to Slytherin, and get Malfoy to talk.

Itís all so risky! But itís dreadfully exciting.

Iím very excited to find out whatever we can. I think Harry and Ron are, too. Weíre going to do it straight after supper- theyíre going to try and catch Crabbe and Goyle on the way back to Slytherin from the Christmas Feast, and leave the cakes in their path. I canít believe weíre doing this on Christmas. What a weird way to spend the holiday. Itís been very nice otherwise, though. Weíre about to go down to the feast- Iím just putting my presents away, first.

And what did you get?

I got the best thing! Remember that set of scales I saw in Diagon Alley- the Prioritizer? Well, Mum and Dad splurged and got me one! Itís going to be so helpful with scheduling, and making decisions about my studies and things- Iíll be so glad to have it when Iím choosing my classes for third year! Iím really pleased about it. Plus, my parents renewed my subscription to the Magical Text of the Month Club, and sent me nice thick socks and new gloves, and oh, Gwen! They sent a travel guide of France, and a French-English dictionary, and in the cover Dad had written, "Brush up for this summer!" Weíre going to France!!!

Thatís quite a gift.

I know, Iím practically spoiled rotten. I even exchanged gifts with my friends. Harry got me a luxury eagle feather quill, which is so funny, Gwen, because thatís exactly what I got for him. We seem to always get each other matching things. For Ron I almost got a book of Arachnid Studies-

You didnít.

Iím not that mean. I got a little map of the world, instead, and charmed it to show where his family all is. Thereís a tiny blinking light in Egypt for Bill, one in Romania for Charlie, and one where his house is. And he got me a book called "Unexpected Witches", which is a collection of short biographies of Muggle-born girls that went on to have great magical careers. I thought that was really, really nice.

It certainly is.

Oooh, and Gwen, I got a Christmas card from Professor Lockhart! He sent it along as the answer to the fan-mail letter I sent him and it says:

"To Miss Granger,

A very Merry Christmas to my best student, and my faithful fan! I can always spare a picture for someone in need, so here you are, and Happy Holidays!

Yours truly,

Professor Gilderoy Lockhart, Order of Merlin, Third Class, Honorary Member of the Dark Force Defense League, and five-time winner of Witch Weeklyís Most-Charming-Smile Award."

He gave me a picture! Iím adding all this to my file.

You have a file?

Yes, of course, of the tests heís marked and things.

Oh, of course.

Well, I guess Iíd better go. Theyíre both hollering up here for me to hurry it up. "Hermione, come on, weíre starving." "Yeah, whatíre you doing up there? You better not be reading that Lockhart card again, or Iíll shred it." Honestly. I need to remember my wand, and my vial- the extra robes are already in the bathroom- weíre going straight from the feast to Moaning Myrtleís, so wish me luck, Gwen. Oh, Iím nervous. What if it doesnít work? What if I made it wrong?

If you made it, dear, then Iím sure itís a perfect Polyjuice Potion. Good luck.

Thanks, Gwen. Iíll write you as soon as weíve had our little chat with Malfoy.

 

 

HQoW

Gwen, I ruined the potion and I look revolting and Madam Pomfrey says Iím going to be like this for a month! Iíll die of embarrassment if anyone else sees me.

Are you Millicent Bulstrode?

I only wish. I put that hair in the Polyjuice Potion- the one I thought was Millicentís- but it wasnít. It was her catís hair. Now I look like an old, warped, ugly cat! And the potionís not supposed to be used for animal transformations, so Iím stuck like this until probably February. I didnít want anybody to see me, but Harry and Ron had to, because theyíre the ones who dragged me up here to the hospital wing. Oh, it was humiliating. I could see by their faces that I look just frightful. I thought nothing could be as bad as Millicent Bulstrode, but this is a million times worse. Iím furry and whiskery and I have pointy ears and a tail. Iíd laugh, but I just want to cry my yellow cat-eyes right out.

Then.... all that work, and you never even spoke to Malfoy?

I didnít. Harry and Ron had to go without me. The potion itself worked brilliantly- they got the hairs and transfigured without a hitch. But I couldnít go with them. As soon as I drank my potion I knew something had gone wrong, and when I felt my furry face.... well, I knew going to Slytherin looking like that wouldnít worm any confessions out of Malfoy, so I told Ron and Harry to go on. I didnít check in the mirror until they had left.

I was never very pretty, Gwen, but Iím so ugly now that I scared myself. Moaning Myrtle started making fun of me, and I just pulled my robes up over my head and started sobbing. Thatís how Harry and Ron found me. When I showed them how I look, Ron backed into the sink and almost fell down. I could have died. It took them a long time to get me out of the bathroom, and even then they had to guide me all the way up here to the hospital wing, because I wouldnít take my robes off my face, so I couldnít see where I was going.

How could I have been so stupid? All that planning, and I spoiled my potion. Plus, Iím a cat until February, and I just have to sit up here with the bed curtains pulled shut so no one will be able to see me and laugh at me. At least I have you. Ron and Harry promised to visit every night after dinner and bring my assignments, too. Iím going to miss a month of classes! Iím going to start crying again. Oh, Gwen, how could this have happened to me?

Iím so sorry, Hermione. Would it make you feel any better to tell me what happened with Harry and Ron? Is Malfoy the Heir of Slytherin?

Of course heís not. I knew he wasnít. Heís an idiot. He told Harry and Ron flat out that he doesnít even know who it is. Mr. Malfoy knows, but wonít tell him. I guess it would be suspicious if Draco knew too much, what with all these Petrifications going on. All he knows is that the last time the Chamber of Secrets was opened, it was fifty years ago. Fifty years ago- and a Muggle-born student actually died. Harry told me that Malfoy said, "I bet itís only a matter of time before one of themís killed this time. I hope itís Granger."

That lousy littleó

I know. And Ron said, "Harry, are you crazy- donít tell her that!" But I wanted to know. I knew anyway. Harry also told me that when Malfoy said it, Ron almost punched him in the mouth and gave away the whole plan. That made me feel.... funny. Glad. Better. Do you know what I mean?

Yes, I do. Then you still donít know anything about the Heir?

No. But it wasnít a totally useless trip for Ronó now he can help his dad get back at Mr. Malfoy for all the horrible things he said. Draco let it slip that his rotten dad keeps all their illegal possessions under a trapdoor in their drawing-room floor. Now Mr. Weasley can uncover all of it, and his office at the Ministry can fine the Malfoys loads of galleons!

Good. Those Malfoys need to be taught a lesson.

Definitely.

Hermione.... how did I get to the hospital wing? Did you have me with you when you Transfigured?

No, Iówell actually itís rather funny. Remember last year, when I refused to drink the Unimaginable Draught unless Madam Pomfrey let me have you?

I remember.

Well, when I was settled in bed up here today, Madam Pomfrey brought over my De-Felinious Draught (thatís my medicine to stop me being a cat) and said, "Drink up, Miss Granger." But I just looked at her, crossed my arms and said, "I wonít drink it, unless...." She rolled her eyes and sighed. "Oh yes, thatís right. Youíre the little businesswoman about these things." Then she rolled up her sleeves and took out her wand and said, "Accio, Hermione Grangerís diary!" She remembered! As soon as I had drained the last disgusting drop of potion, she handed you over. Blech. I have to drink it every night and it tastes like cat food. If I ever have a cat, Iím giving it real food. That stuff is torture.

How am I going to sleep? If I lie on my back, my tail gets in the way, and if I lie on my side, my face-fur itches. This is so stupid. I hate this.

But at least you tried, Hermione- and the potion did work with the right hairs! Youíve managed a very complicated spell, and you should be proud of yourself. I imagine if Snape knew, heíd be impressed.

Are you kidding? If Snape knew, Iíd be expelled. But I suppose it was rather clever.... Gwen, Iím going to try and sleep. Itís so odd- I can only get comfortable if I curl up like a kitten. Iíll certainly understand cats a lot better after this experience.

Iím sure you will. Goodnight.

HQoW

January 1

Good morning, Gwen! Happy New Year!

Most of my face-fur is already gone! I still have the ears, the tail, and the yellow eyes, but the hair was what made me look so dreadful, so I feel much better. Madam Pomfrey says the ears take the longest- my normal ones have to completely re-grow, and for now Iíve only got little pointy cat ones poking out of my hair. Harry and Ron say that I look cool like this. They think I should keep the ears and the yellow eyes. I mean, really, Gwen. Theyíre so weird.

Iím glad youíre feeling better.

I am. And Ron and Harry are spending most of their time up here with me until term starts on Monday, so Iím not too bored. Although every time they come in, Ron scratches on the bed curtains and says, "Here, kitty, kitty!" until I open them up. Itís not funny.

If you say so.

Gwen. Also, Iíve been reading my book Ron gave me, "Unexpected Witches", and guess whoís in there? Lily Potter. Thatís Harryís mum! She was Muggle-born, and the book says that she was one of the strongest witches to fight against the Dark Forces, although she was "struck down tragically alongside her husband James. The murder of the Potters constituted the final act of the Dark Lord Voldemort; Lily herself died in a courageous attempt to protect her infant son, Harry. Indeed, her son still lives, and there is reason to believe that Lily Potterís sacrifice has a great deal to do not only with his survival, but with the ultimate downfall of the Dark Lord himself." Thereís a picture of her, too. Sheís got dark red hair and sheís very pretty. I thought about showing Harry.

You should. Heíd want to see that.

But itís so sad, wonít it just hurt him?

The hurt is already there. Knowing his past better can only help him to heal.

Well, I will. Next time he comes up. Actually, I just heard the door open, so maybe heóno, itís Ron. Heís scratching on my curtains and meowing.

And thatís not funny.

Well, I guess it sort of is.... oh, good, heís brought our chess sets! He says, "Iíll let you win today, as Iím feeling sorry for you." Not on your life, Ron Weasley; Ill beat you fair and square. Heís telling me to quit writing.

Quit writing.

ĎBye.

 

 

 

HQoW

January 3

Term starts tomorrow. Harryís out practicing his flying and Ronís helping Ginny with hers. I can see them out the window and Iím so bored in here that itís killing me.

Well.... thereís always your Christmas present.

Oh! I had completely forgotten! Yes, Gwen, yes, Iíd love my Christmas present.

All right. Iím going to take you inside my memory.

Pardon?

Iím going to show you a day I had once, at Camelot.

You mean youíre going to tell me about it.

No, Iím going to show it. Iím going to bring you inside it.

Inside... but Gwen, how is that possible?

Iíll explain. In a moment, youíll turn the page and Iíll make a small screen in the blank parchment. Youíll be able to see into a specific memory Iíve chosen to show you.

I will??

And if you press your eye up close to the screen, the memory will engulf you. Youíll be inside it- on a walk I took once with Lancelot. Itís just walking and talking, but itís a lovely view of the castle from the road above the river, and you can see Camelot in the autumn. Would you like to try it?

Would I like to.... are you mad??? Gwen, this is amazing! I want to try it, are you ready? Can I turn the page?

Just one more thing. Lancelot and I will be unable to hear or see you- youíll just be observing the memory as it existed then. When the entry I created of this memory is ended, youíll find yourself back here, in the hospital wing. Do you understand?

Iím going to get to see you! To see Lancelot! To see Camelot! And you said youíd never let anybody read your diary Ė oh, I feel so privileged Ė canít I turn the page yet Gwen? Ė please, pleaseó

Yes, dear. Go ahead.

 

Hermione? Are you back?

Oh, Gwen. Guinevere.

Did you like it?

Like it....? It was..... unreal. I could have stayed there forever. Now I know what I would have seen in the Mirror of Erised. I would have seen myself a princess, in Camelot.

Well, donít be too sure. You would have had to put away most of your magic. But it was heavenly to look at, wasnít it? I loved it there. What did you think of the castle?

It was right out of a fairytale! That part of the legend was perfectly true, at least. And the sky really was amazingly blue, and I swear, walking down the river, there was an island with a fortress Ė it had "four gray walls and four gray towers" Ė that wasnít really Shalott?

Well yes it was! You certainly have done your reading.

Was there really a Lady?

There was. Elaine. Poor girl.

I didnít see her in the tower.

She was already dead by then Ė about a month prior to the memory you just saw, she had come floating down the river. What a chilly night that was. But Lancelot just looked at her and understood.

Oh, Gwen. Lancelot.

Ah yes. Now youíve seen him.

He was.... He was....

I know.

I mean, the closest Iíve ever seen in real life isóbut even he doesnít compare now that I--- goodness. But it didnít seem to me that he was only handsome Ė he had a sort of... a sort of look on his face. Like heíd seen everything, and been back again. I canít describe it.

But I can still see it.

And the way he looked at you Ė oh! And you, Gwen, you!! You were simply... how could you be so... perfect? You were beautiful.

Thank you.

How old were you in that memory?

Twenty-six, I think Ė no, twenty-seven.

What did you look like when you were twelve?

Actually, I was rather gawky and I had a funny face.

Really?

Really.

I canít imagine that. I wish I were twenty-seven. But Gwen, that memory was absolutely glorious. Iíve never seen an autumn like that in my life. I canít believe it was really real, and that I was actually thereó walking by the river in Camelot! I canít believe you showed me that. Iím so honored. Iíll dream about it forever.

Iím so glad you enjoyed it. Really. I havenít shared that with anyone for a long time.

Gwen, itís the best Christmas present anyoneís ever given me. Thank you, thank you a million times. Iíll never forget it.

Neither will I. Youíre welcome.

Do you mind if I shut you and... think about all this?

Not a bit. I could use a moment, myself. See you soon, Hermione.

 

HQoW

January 8

Hi, Gwen. My tailís almost gone.

Well, thatís nice.

Yes, it is. Iím starting to be able to sleep normally again. I wish I could open my bed curtains up, but everyoneís back in school, and they keep filing by to see what I look like. Parvati came to see me when she got back from holiday, and she said she thought Iíd been Petrified. There are apparently all sorts of rumors that Harry attacked me over Christmas break. I said, "Oh, no, Parvati. Harry tried to Petrify me, but messed it up, and turned me into a cat instead." She thought I was serious. It took me an hour to convince her it was just a joke. I gave her the same explanation Iíve given Madam Pomfrey, because obviously I canít admit to anyone about the Polyjuice Potion. I said that we were practicing dueling in the common room, and we just got a bit out of hand with curses we couldnít handle.

Thatís believable enough.

Itís worked so far. I donít think Madam Pomfrey really believes me, but luckily sheís not asking any questions.

Harry and Ron just left. They brought me my schoolwork for todayóitís so hard to keep up without having the in-class demonstrations. It always helps me so much to be able to see how Professor Flitwick uses his wand, in Charms. And there are certain things in these Transfiguration lessons that are almost impossible to understand without asking Professor McGonagall a few questions. Iím totally dependent on Harry and Ron to teach me some of what weíre learning, which is a really strange position for me to be in, considering that Iím usually the one translating lessons for them.

On the one hand, I think itís a really good thing, because when they explain the assignments to me, theyíre studying without realizing it. Theyíre also taking much closer notes, because I told them to take the kind I always do, because Iíd go crazy at exam time without really good notes. I guess theyíre scared of what that would be like, because these notes are really good. Ron writes notes within the notes sometimes, like "In 1673, the last descendants of Circeís Coven were burnt at the stake, as if I care." Or, "The Reverse Curse: a curse which causes the victim to do everything backward for varying lengths of time. The longest reported reversal lasted two hundred and thirteen days. Hermione, remind me, you have to teach me this one. I want to do it to Percy and have it last a year." It makes me laugh. So thatís the good part about all this.

And the bad part?

Is Defense Against the Dark Arts. Ron flatly refuses to take notes in that class, and every time Harry hands over the ones heís done, I am forced to sit through Ronís impression of the lesson. He imitates Professor Lockhart in a high voice, and minces all around, twirling his hands and saying things like, "Oh, excuse me class, but we wonít be able to continue fighting Vampires today, as Iíve just mussed up my hair." Itís obnoxious.

I canít really complain, though. Theyíre the best friends, really, and Iíd never get through all this without them. Or you. I still canít get over Camelot.

Neither can I.

Goodnight, Gwen.

Goodnight, Hermione.

HQoW

January 13

Gwen? Itís creepy in here. Itís dark.

What time is it?

Three in the morning. I woke up out of a nightmare. I was dreaming that I was in the middle of the Quidditch field, and there was a monster coming toward me, but I couldnít see what it looked like, and I couldnít move my legs. I could hear all of Slytherin cheering in the stands, and Malfoy was standing behind me shouting "Get the Mudblood! Get the Mudblood!"

Thatís a horrible dream. Are you all right now? Get some water.

Iím very shaky. I got some water already, and then made the mistake of looking in on Colin Creevey when I was on my way back to bed. Heís still up here, you know. Petrified. So are Justin, and Nick, and Mrs. Norris. I try not to think about it, but that nightmare just reminded me, so I stupidly opened Colinís bed curtains. Heís so still. His eyes are wide open. He looks dead, Gwen.

Now Iím all scared. I feel like Iím up here in this room alone with a bunch of dead people. I wish Ron and Harry were here. I wish I were in Gryffindor. But my ears and eyes are still cat-like, and Madam Pomfrey says I canít go back to my dormitory until Iím completely recovered. But oh, itís horrid to have to stay here tonight.

Lay your head down and try to think of something peaceful.

I tried. I just get nervous and canít sleep.

Do you have that music box with you? The one that plays whatever you tell it?

Yes. Lavender brought it up for me the other day.

Well, tell it to play the lute. I always found that very soothing.

Okay, hold onóoh, that is nice. Thanks, Gwen. That helps. Goodnight.

Goodnight, dear.

 

 

HQoW

January 18

Professor Lockhart misses me! He sent me a get well card. Parvati brought it up this afternoon, and he told her to tell me that he misses having me in class! She looked like she wished she were up here getting cards too. Itís gold, and it wishes me a speedy recovery from my "concerned" teacher!! Iím putting it under my pillow.

Hermione!

Oh, not because I want to sleep with it under there, or anything. I just want to hide it, you know--

Mm-hmmm.

No, really! Oh, all right. After all, this is my diary. Gwen, IóI have a confession. But this is really secret. And donít laugh.

Yes?

I think I sort of might, maybe, just a little, wellólike Professor Lockhart.

Oh.

Yes. And Iím mad at myself for it, Gwen. I mean, I know I stick up for him all the time, but Iím not stupid. He de-boned Harryís arm, for heavenís sake.

It could have been an honest mistake.

But it wasnít. And I never thought I could be such a girl about anybody. Itís so strange, because other than being handsome, Professor Lockhart doesnít have any of the things I really like about people.

What things?

Well, I would like a person to be clever and funny and interesting and.... brave. I donít think heís any of those things. Except maybe heís brave, I donít knowóI just canít believe heíd really lie about all those things he did in his books.

Well, youíd hope not.

Yes. Anyway, this is one of the first things I really havenít been able to tell Harry and Ron. Theyíd just lord it over me if I admitted theyíd been right about Professor Lockhart, and theyíd tease me. I donít need to be as obvious as Ginny is about everything.

How is Ginny?

I donít know. She was peering in here the other day, and I waved at her, so she opened the door, but stayed outside it, like she was hesitating, or scared. I told her to come in, but she shook her head, and said, "Hermione, I have to... I have to..." She looked like she was trying to work up the nerve to tell me something. I thought maybe she wanted to talk to someone about Harry. But right as she was about to say whatever it was, Madam Pomfrey came up and told her that she needed to come in or go out- she couldnít just stand there letting all the germs into the infirmary- so Ginny fled. Sheís a funny girl.

Iíve been leaving my bed curtains open most of the time, so I can wave at my friends in the halls. I donít mind being seen now that my normal ears are coming back and my cat ones have shrunk so that my hair hides them. My tailís completely gone now, too, and my eyes are almost brownish again. But all that didnít stop the Weasley twins from sending up a cat-nip toy for me to play with. Ha, ha, ha. Actually, I did laugh. Theyíre nice, even if theyíre crazy. Theyíve always been nice to me, ever since Malfoy called me "Mudblood" on the Quidditch field that time.

Malfoy actually came by the infirmary a few days ago. I heard him coming from down the hall, saying, "Letís see if sheís dead yet." He made a blow-fish face on the window with his mouth and then he and Crabbe and Goyle started laughing at me and screeching like alley cats. I yanked the curtains shut. I hate him. I was going to tell Harry and Ron about it, but decided against that, too. I donít want Ron going off and trying to curse him again, and getting another belly full of slugs.

This month has gone so slowly, and time at Hogwarts usually flies! I canít wait to get out of here. Iím going to read myself to sleep tonight. I got my January book of the month- "Atlantis: Then and Now". Itís all about merpeople! Theyíre real!

Of course.

Oh, Gwen. Goodnight.

 

 

HQoW

January 30

Madam Pomfrey says I can go back to class on Monday! Just three more nights in here, and I can sleep in my real bed again. I canít wait to get outside and play, and study in the Gryffindor common room by the fire, and just be out of this hospital wing!!! I hope I never spend this much time here again. Itís enough to drive a person insane. At least the Petrified people donít feel the time passing.

Then you have restored to normal, I take it?

Except for the tiniest fraction of my ears, yes, Iím myself again. Cat-free! Harry and Ron came up to give me the last of this weekís assignments. Iím going to finish up my work over the weekend so Iíll be ready to jump right into classes on Monday. Ron says if he turned into a cat, heíd take a break from all the schoolwork. But Iím awfully glad I kept up, because I hate to be behindóand anyway, Ron and I donít see eye to eye on certain issues.

Such as?

Well, studying, for one. And personal privacy, for another. Gwen, he saw Professor Lockhartís card sticking out from under my pillow.

Uh-oh.

He has no feelings at all sometimes, I swear. He yanked it out and read it out loud and said, "You sleep with this under your pillow?" in the same voice you might use to say, "You ate a pail of toad guts?í He let out this breath of disgust, and I was livid. How dare he read that card?! I was about to shout at him, but Madam Pomfrey came over with my De-Felinious Draught and shooed the boys out, so I didnít have to explain myself. He is SO NOSY and SO RUDE. And as he and Harry were leaving the infirmary, I heard him say, "Is Lockhart the smarmiest bloke youíve ever met, or what?" Professor Lockhart might not be bright, but I donít see how that makes him smarmy. Ron has problems, Gwen, donít you think so?

Dear, if I told you what I really thought, you wouldnít believe me.

What do you mean?

Another time.

Oh, thatís so unfair!

Goodnight, Hermione.

Hmph.

//
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