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

~Year Three~

Based on "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"

by J.K. Rowling

Disclaimer: Itís all JKRís, of course. I lay claim to nothing but the personality of Gwen, who is a little miffed about that and says I have nothing to do with it.

HQoW

July 27

Gwen, itís me!

Well, hello! How are you, Hermione? Having a nice summer?

Wonderful. I got some of my new books by owl-order so Iíd have them to study while Iím home and in France. Weíre leaving in just a few days! Iím so excited about it, and Iím in such a good mood, because I just got a letter back from Ron. Of course, it did take him a month. I should really be in a foul moodóI ran into those bullies from my old school today.

Susie Raviski?

The same. And yes, they made all the usual comments about me- crazy witch, bushy hair, huge front teeth- which actually surprised me, Gwen. I thought theyíd still be scared about what happened last summer. But thatís all right. This time, for the first time, they couldnít touch a nerve! I felt sorry for them, I really, really did. They donít get to go to Hogwarts, and they donít get to go to France! So I just ignored them, (which bothered them even more than what I did with my wand last summer,) and then when I got home, there was this letter from Ron:

"Dear Hermione,

Well, I tried using Harryís felly number, but I think I botched it. His uncle slammed down the ringer- whadíyou call it?- probably due to my shouting so loud. I reckon you donít need to shout into those speakers. But, hey, if thereís no magic in it, then how can you hear anyone from so far away if theyíre just talking normally? Anyway, donít ring him, I think I got him in trouble.

Things here are fine. Ginnyís a lot better now, and Fred and George are making Percy suffer about, you know, what he did with Penelope. He says theyíre too young to understand, but then heís just an idiot. Plus today, he got the letter from Hogwarts saying heís Head Boy next year, so now heís going Ďround like an overstuffed peacock. Just what I need.

Whatís up in the Muggle world? Got your owl- good thing your parents are letting you come back to Hogwarts, isnít it? My dad says heíll explain to them about Dark Arts stuff if you think itíll help them calm down. Weíre going to be in Diagon Alley sometime in the last week of the holidays. If you can be there, then your mum and dad and mine can have a talk, and maybe while theyíre distracted, we can sneak off and see Knockturn Alley a minute. And donít pretend you donít want to- theyíve got all sorts of good books down there. Theyíre just cursed, thatís all.

So get your parents to drop you off day before school if you can. Then you can just come to the train with all of us. Iím trying to get Harry to come, too, but I think that git uncle of his stops his owls, Ďcause Errol keeps coming back with his beak bent up, probably from ramming into shut windows.

Got to go. Mumís making me de-gnome the garden again. Everybody here says hi.

Bye,

Ron"

Gwen, that is a real letter! What happened to him?

Quite an improvement. Are you going to meet them in Diagon Alley?

Yes! Dad says I can stay overnight at the Leaky Cauldron with the Weasleys. Theyíll drop me off with all my Hogwarts stuff on August 31st. I hope Harry shows up! I havenít heard from him either. I was just getting ready to ring him up, but now I think Iíd better notóhonestly, how difficult can it be to use a telephone, Ron? I hope heís taking Muggle Studies, he needs to. But anyway, other than that, this has just been a perfect summer. Iíve gotten in loads of studying, and Iím going to be in France in three days!

Where are you going first?

Weíre taking the Eurostar via the Channel Tunnel to Paris, (under the Channel, Gwen!) and spending the first week there. Then weíll go down through the Loire Valley, then to Dijon and Aix en Provence and even Nice, then up the western coast to Mont St. Michel, and back to Paris for the chunnel train over to London. Doesnít that sound unreal? Iíve always wanted to visit all those places. Iíd really love to see Nice, too, but Dad says we donít have time and Mum says the south coast is over-priced. Anyway, Iím certainly not complaining!

Youíll have a marvelous time! Marguerite will be so jealous- may I tell her where youíve gone?

Oh, yes, do! Tell her we can chat all about it when I come to Diagon Alley, if she likes. I canít wait! Oh, Iíve got to go. Mum and I have been practicing our French together every night, and sheís calling for me, because itís seven oíclock. "Hermione! Allons, il sont sept heures!" Au revoir, Gwen!

A demain.

HQoW

July 31

Gwen! Bonjour!

Weíve just arrived in Paris, and itís mind-boggling! Iíve got to get organized soís not to miss anything. I want to see the Louvre, the Rodin museum, the TuileriesóDad says heís heard about this lovely place called Angelinaís thatís right off the Tuileries, where they serve the most heavenly hot chocolate. Mum frowned- normally they donít give into sugary things, because theyíre dentists and all- but she said as itís so famous, perhaps we can do it just this once! And then I can pick up the card or a bon-bon or something if they have one, and take it back for Angelina Johnson, since itís her namesake! But who Iíve definitely got to get presents for while Iím here are Harry, Ron and Ginny. Harryís birthdayís really soon.

What else, what else.... I have too many guidebooks. Place de la Concorde, the tour boat down the Seine- "Bateaux Parisiens"- and the Sorbonne, and Notre Dame, and Montmartre- the Champs-Elysees and the Eiffel Tower- and I want to take the train out to Versailles and see that village Marie Antoinette had built, and all the gardensó

Dearest, go on. If you keep on writing about it, youíll never get started. Donít miss a moment.

Okay, I wonít! See you later, Gwen!

HQoW

August 7

Gwen, Paris was a dream. Absolument parfait. Iíll never forget a moment, and Iíve taken loads of pictures. Versailles! The Hall of Mirrors.... the Apollo Fountain.... ooooh. Iím willing to bet that some magic went into the building of that place. It seemed almost enchanted

I can tell you unquestionably that it did involve magic. Youíre quite right. Where are you now?

Weíre in the Loire Valley, visiting all the chateaux. Itís a lovely, quiet, warm night. This hotel is really nice. Iím sitting out on the balcony, looking up at the stars. It makes me think ofóGwen, something in the skyówait a minute!

Thatís funny. I could have sworn I saw Hedwig.

Harryís owl?

Yes. I wish it really were Hedwig, because then I couldówaitóit is Hedwig! Sheís so snowy, she just blended right in with the moon for a moment, and I couldnít see her! Oh, pretty owl, how wonderful! Just a moment, Gwen, Iíve got to tie something to her leg before she flies off.

HQoW

What an amazing pet she is! Iíll bet she knew it was time for Harryís birthday. Animals can be really brilliant. Iíve had Harryís present here with me for the last few days- I ordered it from an ad in the Daily Prophet (Iíve been getting it forwarded to me so I can keep up.) Itís a Broomstick Servicing Kit for his Nimbus Two Thousand, and I had no idea how Iíd ever get it to him in timeówhat if itíd been opened at customs? Lovely, dear Hedwig! Oh, if I have any extra money this year in Diagon Alley, Iím definitely getting an owl. I need a pet, and owls are the best. Iím so glad Harryís going to get his present- he says his birthdays with those Dursley people are always really depressing. Well not this year! I wonder if Hedwig will stop and check with Ron, too? But then, the Weasleys have their own owl, Errol, and Percy has Hermes. Although maybe they didnít bring the owls with them.

With them?

Oh, thatís right! Gwen, itís too wonderful, really. Ronís dad won the Daily Prophetís Annual Grand Prize Galleon Drawóseven hundred galleons! So his whole family gets to spend a month in Egypt, visiting his oldest brother, Bill! Iím so jealous! I mean, thereís a lot to learn here, of course, and I have managed to dig up a few local witchcraft facts for my History of Magic Essay. But Egypt! All those ancient wizards, the Pyramids, the curses and mummifications- itís just so fascinating. Iíll bet heís learning loads. I hope he remembers everything, so he can tell me all about it. He looks really happy.

He looksóhow do you know that?

Picture of the Weasleys in the Daily Prophet with an article all about their winning, and their trip. I love wizarding photos! All nine of them are standing in front of a pyramid, waving and smiling- I feel like I could almost talk to them. Ronís got his pet rat Scabbers on his shoulder and his arm Ďround Ginny- sheís looking really well, thatís nice to see. Iím so glad for them, Gwen. I canít think of anyone Iíd rather see win seven hundred galleons and go off on holiday.

Thereís something else in the latest paper, too, though- something not nice. Itís in the Daily Prophet and the regular London Times. Iíve never seen anything from the magic world in the Muggle papers before, so I knew it must be very important, and Iíve read as much as I can about it. Itís frightening.

What is it?

Sirius Black has escaped from the wizard prison, from Azkaban. Apparently heís completely mad and extremely evil. They say he was Voldemortís right hand man. That is, they said so in the Daily Prophet. They say that the day after Voldemort murdered the Potters, tried to kill Harry and lost all his power, Sirius Black let loose in the middle of a regular Muggle street, and blasted a lot of people to smithereens. I guess the biggest part they ever found of anybody was the finger of somebody called Peter Pettigrew. Itís sick. The Muggle papers are reporting that a convicted murderer is on the loose in England, and theyíve printed a photo of a very gaunt, sallow, black haired man. He is scary looking. Like a skull.

Yes. I know about Sirius Black. Itís a horrible story. But Hermione, he couldnít have escaped from Azkaban, itís simply impossible- itís never been done. There are the most terrible guardsó

I know. But he did. Itís really disturbing.

Gwen, itís crazy, but I swear that for a second just then.... I mean, I know that Harryís back in England, and Ronís all the way in Egypt, and Iím over here in France.... but for a second I had the strongest feeling that we were all thinking about each other at once. Iím almost sure of it. Is that because of magic, do you think? I donít really believe in that sort of thingóeven though my Divination textbook, "Unfogging the Future", has a short summary on the reality of psychic thought connections. Do you think theyíre real?

I think that very strong friendship has its own power. Nothing foggy about that.

I guess. Maybe I just really miss them. France is tres belle, and all that, but thereís nowhere Iíd rather be than Hogwarts. Speaking of which, youíll have to excuse me. I need to stay on schedule with my studies. The more I can do in advance, the better off I'íll be when term begins.

Then youíre still determined to take all those new classes?

Mais oui! So far, Arithmancy is my favorite, but all my textbooks are really exciting. Iím working my way through my Muggle Studies one right now, and itís so funny to see the normal world Iím used to through the magical perspective. Just like Ron with the telephoneóI mean, whatís obvious to me seems almost like magic to him! I think thatís neat. Oh, but Iíve gotten off track again. No more writing for me. Iíve got to study. Goodnight.

HQoW

August 19

Ooooh, Gwen.

Iím in Dijon, and we went to an amazing restaurant last night that was tres chic. I had a sort of shellfish stew calledówait, let me check my dictionaryóbouillabaisse. Itís very nice. Also, Mum and Dad let me taste some wine with them! Mum wasnít going to let me, but Dad laughed and said, "French children customarily drink wine, and Iím sure Hermione is mature enough to try a bit." So Mum gave in, but only barely. Anyway, I got to taste it. It made my tongue all cottony. Iím not sure what the point is, to be honest with you, but I did feel quite grown-up.

I have to pack you up now, though. Weíre leaving for Aix a day early because weíre trying to squeeze in a day at the beach on the Riviera after all! Iíll write you from there. ĎBye!

HQoW

August 23

Bienvenue a la Cote díAzur, Gwen!

Whatís that, now?

Welcome to the Blue Coast, the Riviera! Iím on the beach in my swimsuit. Itís very uncomfortable as the sand down by the Hotel Eden is all rocks, but itís also very pretty out here, so Iím trying to bear it. Ugh, Iím all sticky and soapy smelling because Mum made me put cream on. I donít burn, so I donít know why she makes me wear it. We start back up the coast tomorrow, and then Mont St. Michel, and then home. And then only four days to get all ready for school! Iím trying not to panic. I want to enjoy every last minute of this trip.

Aix en Provence was quaint and cobblestoned, all little shops and latticed windows. There was an outdoor market where we got lunch, and then we hiked up Montagne Sainte-Victoire. Itís only an hour climb, but itís really exhausting, so I was surprised to find, at the top, that thereís a sort of ruined shrine, with lots of stone columns and statues and things, and a sort of rock cabin built into the cliff. I couldnít help but wonder how it all got up there. No one could have carried those statues that high, and there are no roads leading to the top. I really think it was magic. Itís so funny, Gwen, but I can spot magic in the Muggle world from a mile away now, whereas before, when I didnít know I was a witch, Iíd have never noticed anything.

Iíve got to add that shrine thing into my History of Magic essay. Iíve already revised it nine times, and itís two rolls of parchment more than Professor Binns asked for, but I donít want to leave anything out. However, I think Iíll go back up to the hotel to work on it. These stupid pebbles are all sticking to my sunscreen lotion, and itís impossible to settle down out here. Iím going inside, Gwen. See you soon.

HQoW

August 29

Gwen!

Back in England- no time- leaving for school the day after tomorrow- owl from Ron- meeting the Weasleys Sunday morning for sure- still no word from Harry- still havenít packed, or finished studying, or anything- Iíll visit you at Miss Vauclainís in two days- I canít wait- ĎBye!

* * *

{ACTUAL EXCERPTS FROM THE DIARY HEADQUARTERS AT THE ENCHANTED STATIONERS IN DIAGON ALLEY, LONDON, AUGUST 31st}

Hello, everyone! Itís Hermione Granger again. Is Gwen around?

Well, well! If it iz not ze little cherie Ďoo spends her Ďolidays in France! And did you love it, or non?

Mais oui, Marguerite, I adored it. I went all over. Where were you from?

Just outside ze city of Paris, at ze palace. You visited Versailles I Ďope?

Yes, I did go! You lived there?

I waz a lady in waiting for Madam la Princess of France, Marie Antoinette. We were all beheaded in ze revolution, you know. I would Ďav escaped, but zey took me in my sleep, and I did not Ďav my wand.

Oh, how horrid! But Versailles was very beautiful, and at least you got to live there before you were beheaded.

Hermione, itís Gwen!

Gwen! Iíve brought Ginny Weasley, if youíd like to meet her.

Yes, of course! Hello, Ginny. How are you, my dear? Are you...

Iím fine. Itís all right, I know youíve heard all about me. Hermione told me she wrote you about the Chamber of Secrets.

Yes. Iím very glad youíre safe.

Thank you. Iím very glad Hermione knows where you keep your brain. Itís comforting to see all this. I rather miss having a diary...just not that one.

I imagine you do. One day, youíll keep another. What are you two doing this morning?

Weíve just woken up, and come down to visit you right off- Iíve been looking forward to it all summer! My mum and dad are talking to Hermioneís parents over breakfast, helping them understand Dark Arts and things. My brothers are all still sleeping except Percy, but heís busy polishing his Head Boy badge, and we didnít really want him to come anyway- just us girls this morning- you know.

I certainly do. And how was Egypt?

It was good! I miss Bill, and it was so nice to see him- heís my eldest brother, if you didnít know, and heís really brilliant- heís a curse-breaker at Gringotts over there. He showed us Ďround the Pyramids and things. Mum wasnít going to let me into see into some of the scariest tombs, but Fred helped me sneak past her. Anyway, Iíve seen scarier.

True. Well, itís a pleasure to meet you, finally. Keep an eye on Hermione for me, Ginny. Donít let her lose her head over all these new classes.

Oh! Well, Iíll try, but you know how smart she is- donít you think sheíll be all right? I really donít know how I could possibly stop her anywayó

Gwen! I saw that! This is a public diary, donít forget. Donít make Ginny worried, I told you, Iím going to be fine, and you know that Iíve studied and studied all summer. Iím quite prepared for everything.

Hermione, hanini, youíve come again! What a nice surprise. I have to say, I was very worried when you disappeared for two months last year! I knew you must be very ill when we didnít hear about the Quidditch matches. Gwen was extremely upset.

Itís all solved now, though, Cassie. Hopefully this year, Iíll be awake for every match!

Oh, yes, I hope so! Itís been far too long since weíve had one of your Quidditch stories, hanini qalbi.

Qalbi?

Miss Granger, it is I, Argo, at your humble service. Truly, you grace us with your presence. Such a clever witch as you are, who can outwit even a Basiliskó

Hi, Argo.

And you bring another witch to us as well? The brave young Miss Weasley, is it not, who has withstood the forces of the Dark Lord himself? Ladies, you stagger me with youró

Argo, really. Thatís enough now.

We canít stay anyway, Gwen. Sorry, Argo! We told our parents weíd be back up to have breakfast with them in a minute. This was so much fun! Iíll write again tonight. ĎBye, everyone!

All right, Hermione- Iím so glad you could come down again. See you soon. And goodbye, Ginny!

Goodbye, Gwen.óIíll keep an eye on Hermione.

Thank you, dear.

HQoW

August 31

Well, Gwen, one day back in the magical world, and already a million things have happened. My mum and dad left me with the Weasleys this morning. Ginny and I are sharing a room at the Leaky Cauldron- sheís right here next to me, already fast asleep. Iím tired, too, but I just have to tell you everything.

After my parents left, Ron and I went to do our school shopping and look for Harry. Ronís dad told us Harry was staying in the Leaky Cauldron, too. Heís been in Diagon Alley for two whole weeks, because he inflated his Aunt Marge, and ran away from home.

He what? His aunt? With magic? Oh, no.

I know. He inflated her. She was saying nasty things about his parents, and he just blew her right up, no wand or anything. And then he grabbed up all his school things, and ran away from the Dursleysí house. He caught the Knight Bus- I guess itís some sort of taxi service for wizards, Iím going to have to look it up- and came to Diagon Alley. Cornelius Fudge, our Minister of Magic, met him here and told him to stay at the Leaky Cauldron until school starts. I mean, I canít believe he didnít get in any trouble! We canít ever do magic outside of school! Seriously, heís really lucky not to be expelled.

Anyway, as Ronís dad works at the Ministry, he knew all about what Harryíd done, and he told us after breakfast that he was in the Leaky Cauldron. We ran right up to his room, but he was already gone out, so we went off looking for him. On the way, we got our books (two huge bags full for me, Gwen. I only barely have room in my trunk!) One book was particularly odd- the "Monster Book of Monsters" for Care of Magical Creatures class. It bites. Literally, itís a mad book, and it tries to snap your hands right off. I had to tie twine around mine so it wouldnít tear my other books apart. Who on earth would assign that?

After that, we went to Ollivanderís Wand Shop, because Ron was getting a new wand to replace his broken one from last year. Itís so interesting, buying a wand, because Mr. Ollivander is so particular- it has to be just perfect- no two are ever alike. I remember when I first held mine. I knew it was mine. It made my fingers tingle, there was a surge of silver sparks, and I felt like it was just an extension of my arm- like a limb had been missing. All my life, I knew there was something peculiar and powerful happening in me, but I hadnít been able to name it- and there it was. Itís a wonderful feeling, Gwen, isnít it?

Yes. I remember that.

The wand that chose Ron this time is really long- itís fourteen inches- but it fits him. Heís even taller this year, and heís all freckly from that hot sun in Egypt. Iím very brown from travelling all summer, too. He asked about France, and I told him it was very nice. I asked about Egypt, and he said heíd seen "cool mutant mummies that had grown extra heads." I took that to mean that heíd enjoyed himself.

When weíd done with shopping and still hadnít seen hide nor hair of Harry, we decided to get ice creams at Fortescueís, and wait outside to see if heíd pass by. (Mmmmm, Fortescueís is marvelous. One good thing about Mum and Dad being gone is that no one tells me not to eat sugar!) Anyway, when Harry finally did walk by, Ron and I both started hollering so loud we practically spit out whole mouthfuls! I laughed so hard- Gwen, Harry hurried right over- I just love reunions. We hadnít skipped a beat, really. Harry told us about inflating his aunt, Ron laughed, I scolded him- itís the same as always, and itís perfect. Of course they had to get on my nerves about having so many books "What are you doing Muggle Studies for? Youíre Muggle-born, your mum and dad are Muggles, you already know all about Muggles-" but I did like you told me to, and changed the subject.

Once weíd said our hellos and Harry had gotten himself an ice cream, I wanted to go get one last thing. My birthdayís in September, and Mum and Dad gave me some money to buy myself an early birthday present. Ron said, "How about a nice book?" But I just ignored him and said, "No, I donít think so. I really want an owl." And I did. Iíve been wanting an owl for about a year. So we all went over to the Magical Menagerie together, because Ron wanted to get some kind of rat tonic for Scabbers, whoís been looking really sick since all that travelling in Egypt, plus heís really old. He used to be Percyís, before Percy got Hermes.

Anyway, Ron slapped Scabbers on the counter to get some advice about him, while I looked Ďround to find the right owl. They were hooting and fluttering, and there were some lovely snowy ones that reminded me of Hedwig, but none of them seemed to be mine, you know? Iíd go up to them and coo, but I was waiting for some kind of special connection, or sign, and none came. The witch behind the counter was getting rat tonic for Scabbers, and I was just about to go and ask her opinion. But suddenly, an enormous, orange cat propelled itself down from what seemed like the ceiling, and tried to pounce Ron and Scabbers!

It all happened in a flash- there was a loud crash, Scabbers fled the cat, Ron and Harry chased after him, and a minute later, cool as anything, the orange cat came strolling back through the door. He leapt up on the counter next to me, and looked right at me, as if he was waiting for something. I said, "Hello there, who are you?" The witch behind the counter said, "That thereís Crookshanks. Nobody wants that one. Cranky. Been here for ages." Crookshanks gave a truly pitiful meowóGwen, I swear, he knew what was going on. I laughed and said, "Donít try to fool me, Crookshanks- youíre not a sweet little kitten, are you?" He nuzzled my hand with the top of his head as if to say, "Yes, I am." So I scratched his ears. Before I could stop him, he leapt into my arms and began to purr. He was gorgeous! The witch behind the counter was shocked. "Never seen that cat friendly to anyone," she said. "Thatís a right miracle."

He was mine-- I knew it the same way I knew with my wand. "Iíll take him," I said. And so I have a cat! Oh, heís just wonderful. Why would I ever want an owl? My little Crookshanks, my little kitty- heís curled up at the foot of the bed with his big ginger tail flopped across Ginnyís heel. She loves him too. We cuddled him to pieces tonight. Ron doesnít like him, though, and heís not happy I bought a cat who pounced him on the head and tried to attack Scabbers. Well, Crookshanks is a cat, Gwen. Of course heís going to attack Scabbers, who is a rat. Honestly. Anyway, heíll be in my dormitory, and the rat will be in Ronís, and I donít see how there could be a problem.

I hardly know how I lugged all my books and Crookshanks back to the Leaky Cauldron. We got to the bar and met Mr. Weasley, who was reading more about Sirius Black in the Daily Prophet. Blackís still at large, and itís been three weeks now. He most definitely did break out of Azkaban. To be honest, I donít know much about the wizard prison, but from what Iíve read about the guards there, it seems they scare most people senseless. Everyone at the Ministry, including Ronís dad, has been pulled off their normal jobs to try and track down Black, but Mr. Weasley says itíll be an Azkaban guard that gets him in the end. I hope somebody does. Iím glad weíre going to be at Hogwarts tomorrow. Thereís no safer place in the world than wherever Dumbledore happens to be.

Iím very glad youíre returning to school, too.

Weíre leaving early. The Ministryís sending cars as a favor to Mr. Weasley, since there are such a load of us. Oh, itís so good to see everyone again! Fred and George were the same as ever, trouncing Ďround and cracking a thousand jokes. Percyís very formal this year, and very pleased to be Head Boy. I would be, too, if I were him, and I wish the rest would stop making fun of his badgeóalthough I do find it funny that heís calling Penelope Clearwater his girlfriend now. I think Ron stole his badge or something- I can hear the two of them hollering at each other through the wall behind me. Goodness. And Ginny.... well, what did you think of her?

She seemed like a lovely young lady.

Mm-hmm. And for the most part sheís lots of fun, but she still gets really tongue-tied with Harry. She walked in tonight from shopping with her mum, saw Harry, turned pink, and stopped speaking. I used to think she was just like that, but sheís not at all shy when itís just us- she had plenty to say about you this morning. She thinks youíre wonderful.

How nice!

Well, you are. But you know, Harry doesnít even seem to notice how much she likes him. Youíd think he could hardly miss something so obvious. But then again, some people just arenít sensitive to those sorts of things.

But you are, though.

Yes, I ó hang on ó ooooh, that gives me the chills. Iím gooseflesh all over.

What happened?

Ginny muttered in her sleep-- "Please, let me go up--" and then she tossed on her pillow. Itís spooky to hear a person talk in her sleep, isnít it? Especially so clearly, as if sheís awake. I guess sheís still having nightmares about what happened to her last year- Mrs. Weasley took me aside after dinner and told me this might happen. She told me to come and fetch her if it gets really bad. Whatís Ďreally badí though?

Ooooh, this is making me uneasy. She just muttered, "No, Tom, donít Ė you canít be Him---"

Thatís very unsettling, yes.

It must have been horrifying down there in that Chamber. Oh, poor thing, how awful! Should I wake her? Should I go and get Mrs. Weasley? Sheís practically crying, Gwen, I think Iíd better do somethingó

Oh, Crookshanks! Good cat! Heís purring to her, and I think itís making her dream nicer things! He just ran up the bed and curled himself between our pillows near her ear- heís so smart. Yes, Crookshanks, thatís my clever boy, help Ginny sleep- he has the loveliest purr, Gwen, itís such a soothing sound. Look at that! Ginnyís hands were in fists a second ago, but now sheís completely relaxed them-- and she was breathing really fast, but now sheís let out a little sigh...

I love my cat. Iím so happy! Iíll write you tomorrowó when Iím at Hogwarts!! Goodnight, Gwen.

Goodnight, Hermione.

HQoW

September 1

Gwen, weíll be at Hogwarts in ten minutes, and something really dreadfulís just happened- how can I tell you fast enough?

Just go.

Sirius Black is after Harry. Harry overheard Mr. Weasley saying so last night, and he told Ron and me when we got on the train. Before Black escaped from Azkaban, he was heard muttering in his sleep, "Heís at Hogwarts, heís at Hogwarts"!!!! Thatís why Harry didnít get into trouble for blowing up his aunt- Cornelius Fudge was just relieved to find him alive. Thatís why the Ministry sent cars to take us to Kingís Cross- they didnít want Harry unprotected. Itís awful.

Harry told us everything in this compartment on the train, where I am now. We were all alone except for a teacher, but it didnít matter he was here, because he was asleep the whole time. Professor R.J. Lupin- it says so on his briefcase- and he must be the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor because, well, there arenít any other vacancies, are there? I was thinking to myself that heíd better be pretty good, what with Black on the loose, when suddenly, Professor Lupin had a chance to prove himself. These things called dementors came onto the train.

They didnít!

They did. We were just going along normally, when suddenly the train slowed to a halt and the lights went out. The storm outside didnít help matters much- it was pitch black. Everyone stumbled around- Neville fell into our compartment and squashed Crookshanks- Ginny smacked into me and sat on Harryóand then all at once, Professor Lupin was awake, and on his feet, with some kind of fire in his hand. There was just enough light for us to watch as our compartment door slid open, and a tall, looming, hooded..... thing..... came gliding through the door.

Instantly the room was colder than ice, and I felt a wave of incredible sadness come over me- the way I used to feel back in Muggle school when Iíd get teased and laughed at. I felt awful, sick, like Iíd never be cheerful again. I couldnít think about anything- I didnít even care enough to go for my wand.

But Lupin told the hooded thing that none of us were hiding Sirius Black under our robes, (they must have been searching the train for Black,) and he shot a silvery cloud out of his wand at it, and the thing turned and floated away.

The lights came on. Harry was unconscious on the floor. He came to right away, and asked who was screaming. Nobody was screaming, Gwen. The cold in the room slowly went away, but everybody still looked freezing and pale. Lupin told us that the thing was one of the dementors of Azkaban, gave us chocolate to eat (I guess thatís the remedy against dementors or something) and walked out to talk with the driver.

We hauled Harry back up into his seat. He was upset that heíd passed out. Nobody else had- though I noticed Neville looked pretty shaken, and Ginny looked nearly as bad as Harry. When she gave a sob, I left Harry and went to put my arm around her. What was that thing? Why did it have that effect on everybody?

Professor Lupin came back a minute ago, and nobodyíd touched the chocolate heíd given us. I reckon none of us really trusts anybody who says theyíre a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. But Lupin smiled and said he hadnít poisoned it, and after what he did with the dementor, itís hard not to take his word. We ate it- and itís so funny, but do you know the chocolate really works? The cold was sort of wiped from my body.

Thatís it for now. The train is stopping- oh, weíre at school, weíre at school, thank goodness! Thereís more, Gwen, but I have to tell you later. I have to get inside Hogwarts before I burst.

HQoW

Sorry to cut off like that earlier, Gwen.

Thatís all right. How is Harry? How are all of you?

Weíre fine. Things are a lot better, now that weíre at school. A lot better. Iíve got my Time-Turner! But let me start from the beginning, because Gwen, I left so much out before. I didnít even get to finish telling you about Diagon Alley.

This morning was really nice, saying goodbye to the Weasleys and all. At breakfast, before all the boys came downstairs, Mrs. Weasley was actually telling Ginny and I about a Love Potion she made once when she was in school! It was so funny to hear a mum talking about stuff like that, and all three of us were in a fit of giggles. Sheís fun. (Plus, I think it made Ginny feel better about Harry, because at platform nine and three-quarters, I actually saw her smile at him.) Mrs. Weasley even kissed me goodbye when she put us all on the train. I really like her. She talked with my mum about everything that happened last year, and it helped so much. Now Mum says sheís going to send owls to Mrs. Weasley whenever she has a concern, and Iím glad! Itís comforting to know that she has a grown-up friend in the wizarding world- Dad and Mr. Weasley get on well, too, and I think my parents really need that.

But ugh, Ron. Our parents might get on, but he is not being nice to Crookshanks, and heíd better stop pushing him around. When I let Crookshanks out of his basket, on the train, he jumped up into Ronís lap, which I thought was sweet. He just wanted to make friends, Gwen. But oh no, Scabbers was in Ronís pocket. Ronís never given a care to Scabbers before- always going on about how heís old and shabby and useless and missing a toe and everything- but now suddenly heís acting all protective- he just doesnít like Crookshanks for landing on his head back in the shop! So when Crookshanks jumped up on his knees, Ron took the opportunity to shove my cat onto the floor. I said, "Ron, donít!" But he just turned up his nose at me and cupped a hand around the rat in his pocket as if he were fully justified. And that was right after our chat about Hogsmeade, which also made me mad.

Hogsmeade?

Itís marvelous! At least, Iíve read that it is. Hogsmeade is the only completely non-Muggle settlement in all Britain, and third years and above can go into the Hogsmeade village on outings! We all got our permission slips signed this summer, andóoh, Gwen. Harry canít go. Thatís the thing.

What? Why not?

The Dursleys wouldnít sign his form.

Oh, but how unfair! Simply because they Dursleys donít like him heís being held behind? Well, surely someone else will give him permissionó

Nobody will. He even asked the Minister of Magic. Nobody wants him out where Sirius Black can get at him. And I say thatís probably safest. Maybe he shouldnít go to Hogsmeade until Black is caught. But Ron said--

Well, still! Thatís just a crime. He should sneak out and go.

Gwen! Youíre as bad as Ron! Thatís exactly what he said! That, and then some rubbish about Black not being able to hurt Harry "if weíre with him." Ronís not thinking. Sirius Black blew apart a whole street full of Muggles. He slew thirteen people with one curse, and heís practically Voldemortís successor. Heís not going to care if weíre there or not, heíll just kill all three of us. But nobody can sneak out anyway, weíve got those horrid dementor things posted all around our school, standing guard in case Black tries to come here.

The Azkaban guards are stationed at Hogwarts? I donít like that a bit.

Nobody else does, either. Dumbledore told us at the feast tonight. The dementors are here all year. And no one can get past them, with a disguise, or with an Invisibility Cloak, so thereís not going to be any Hogsmeade for Harry. He wouldnít dare go by those dementors. They really affect him badly. First he passed out on the train when that one came into our compartment-

Well, I hardly blame him for that.

True, but then when we drove through the gates into Hogwarts, we had to pass a couple of the dementor-guards, and these ones were all the way outside, yards and yards away from the carriages. But as we passed them, I saw Harry almost faint back against his seat, looking very sick again. At that point I still had my arm around Ginny, and she turned her head and leaned on me until we had lost sight of the dementors completely-- she doesnít do well with them, either. And Neville was very, very pale- but then heís easily frightened. I only felt a little cold when we saw them the second time, not bad at all, and Ron didnít look upset by them, either. I guess they only affect us when theyíre really close up.

Of course, when Malfoy heard that Harryíd fainted, he started right in. Canít have one nice day back with Malfoy. "You fainted, Potter? You actually fainted? Did the scary old dementors frighten you, too, Weasley?" I hate him. He made a crack about Ronís family on the train- as usual about their being poor- and I just wanted to kill him. Who cares if the Weasleys are poor- theyíre wonderful people- anyway Iíd rather live at the bottom of a well than have to live in Malfoyís house. Ron says heís not going to take any of Malfoyís... well.... crap this year. I hope that doesnít mean heís going to fight him. But I do hate Malfoy. Heís the only thing I didnít miss about Hogwarts.

Well, except Snape. I certainly didnít miss himóheís going to be even fouler this year, I can tell already. He really wanted that Defense Against the Dark Arts job when Professor Lockhart got dismissed, but he didnít get it, and he looked like he wanted to strangle Professor Lupin when Dumbledore introduced him to all of us at the feast tonight. Iíve never seen Snape look that way at anybody but Harry- like he might slip poison in his cup at any moment and happily watch him die- but thatís how he looked at Professor Lupin.

Not that anybody else was very excited to welcome Lupin. Everybody here is sick and tired of getting to know new Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers, only to find out theyíre really psychopaths, or idiots. But everybody from my compartment on the train, who saw the way Lupin handled that dementor, applauded really hard for him.

But Gwen, thatís nothing to the way we clapped for the new Care of Magical Creatures teacher. Professor Dumbledore announced that Professor Kettleburn had retired, and that the new Professor, the one who had assigned us the biting, mad "Monster Book of Monsters" (I mean, we should have guessed,) wasó

HAGRID!!!

Oh, thatís wonderful!

Yes! Ever since he got cleared with the Ministry for all those crimes that Tom Riddle committed, heís allowed to do magic again, and heís been promoted! Heís going to be our teacher! Iíve never been so proudóyou should have seen himóhe sobbed all over his tablecloth he was so happy. I nearly cried myself. What a perfect start to the year!

The only thing I missed was the Sorting, which I am sorry about. Harry missed it, too. Professor McGonagall took us up to her office right when we got to Hogwarts, so we missed the start of the feast. I knew why I was in her office, but I didnít know what she wanted with Harry. Maybe to yell at him about blowing up his aunt, I thought, but that wasnít the reason. Madam Pomfrey came along as well- they both just wanted to make sure that Harry had recovered from his fainting spell. He was really annoyed- Madam Pomfrey called him "delicate", and after getting jibed by Malfoy, I think that was the last thing Harry really wanted to hear. He took the chocolate they gave him and went out in the hall with Madam Pomfrey, looking very irritated.

The whole time that was happening, though, I was only half-listening. My eyes were glued to a long, blue velvet jewelry box, sitting at the side of Professor McGonagallís desk.

My Time-Turner. She gave it to me, along with a very stern reminder of the rules Iím to follow. Then she said, "All your third year professors have been apprised of the special circumstances, Miss Granger. However, I warn you here and now, you are not to use any excuse of being overburdened with work. Your assignments are to be completed in a timely and thorough manner. You will be graded as evenly as the other students, and your course load will not be taken into consideration. This is your choice, and no one elseís. Is that clear?" It was a very sharp speech, Gwen, but Professor McGonagall couldnít help but smile at the end of it, when she put the box in my hand. "This should be an edifying experience. I look forward to seeing what you make of it." And then she took Harry and I back down to the feast.

The Time-Turner is here, in my drawer. Iíll be using it tomorrow for the first time at 10 oíclock AM, when Iíll be turning back from Arithmancy to Muggle Studies, and then again at 10 AM, when I turn back for Divination. AT 10 AM, I have Transfiguration. Then I turn back at 11 AM for Ancient- no, I donít- yes I do. Ancient Runes. Then I have lunch- oh, no, wait. Then I have Herbology, then I have lunch. No, no, Iím right. Itís lunch first, then.... Care of Magical Creatures. Yes.

Ah, a nice, light first morning back at school.

Gwen, if you canít say anything niceó

All right, all right. But please get some sleep- the least you can do is start out with one full night of rest.

I will. But Iíve just realized that Iím going to have to draw up a chart of these classes to carry around with me- I thought I could keep it all in my head, but Iím going to need to be very careful. I donít want to walk into a class where Iím already sitting! It would scare everybody. Okay. But Iím going to be fine, Gwen, reallyó

Oh, hereís my clever cat! Hello, Crookshanks! Heís such a soft little softy, isnít he, sitting on my lap- I told him to go check on Ginny and he understood me, honestly. He ran right into the second yearsí dormitory. Isnít he wonderful? Goodness itís nice to be back in my four-poster. Itís nice to say goodnight to Parvati and Lavender. Itís nice to be home. ĎNight, Gwen.

//
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