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

June 8

Okay, Gwen. Iím ready to tell you everything. Ginny and I are lolling around outside, and sheís going to tell me if the boys come. So I can just lie here and enjoy the sunshine, and talk to you! Where I did I leave off?

Lupin, Pettigrew Black and Potter.

Yes. Well just keep that in mind, and Iíll start from Hagridís, when we went to say goodbye to Buckbeak.

Iím ready.

Okay. When we got down there, Buckbeak was tethered in the pumpkin patch. Hagrid was just waiting. Helpless. It was awful to see him so helpless. I told him weíd stay with him, but he said no Ė weíd get in trouble Ė that Dumbledore was coming down to be with him. I was crying my eyes out, but I didnít want Hagrid to see it and feel worse, so I started going around, making tea.

Thatís when the first unbelievable thing happened. I picked up the milk jug and turned it over Ė and Scabbers fell out.

What?! Scabbers is alive? How?!

Very, very much alive. Ugh. Anyway, Ron was amazed, to say the very least. He grabbed up Scabbers, who was looking really sick and scared, and struggling to get away. I thought about Crookshanks and all I wanted to say was HAH! I was right! Scabbers didnít get eaten! But under the circumstances, I kept quiet Ė I didnít get a chance to say anything at all, because right then we had to jump back under the Invisibility Cloak and get out of there. Dumbledore and the Minister and the executioner were coming.

We were horrified. They really were going to execute Buckbeak in cold blood Ė I saw the axe. We saw Buckbeak on our way out and the poor thing was all tethered up Ė we didnít want to go, we wanted to save him Ė but Hagrid told us to go quick, and not to listen.

I didnít want to listen. I knew I couldnít stand it. But Ron kept stopping because Scabbers was going berserk trying to get away from us. I thought at the time that Scabbers was just confused and nervous to be back with people again, but I didnít care, I just wanted to get away from there. I didnít want to hear the execution. But Scabbers wouldnít stay put. And a moment alter, we heard a horrible sound. An axe thudding through something. Through Buckbeak. And then Hagrid started howling

Gwen, they killed him.

But you said... yesterday you said... he flew away. Didnít you?

Yes, but first he died.

But I donít Ė

I promise, it will make sense later. But thereís a lot more I have to explain before that. So. We heard the axe and I just about fainted. It was... there arenít words for how sickening it was. I was choking on tears, and Ron was pale as a ghost and Harry tried to go back to Hagrid, but we had to keep on walking toward the castle. We had no choice.

All this time, Scabbers was still writhing around, desperately trying to get away from Ron. And then I saw why Ė or thought I did. Crookshanks was out there. My Crookshanks. And he was coming at us, sneaking up to try and grab Scabbers Ė oh, I only wish he had! But then we never would have known Ė

Known?

If anything had happened to Scabbers, we never would have known the truth! Just.... sorry, just listen, Iíll try to quit getting ahead of myself.

Scabbers finally bit Ron and got away, scampering across the grass. Crookshanks pursued. And then, as if things werenít already bad, Ron threw off the Invisibility Cloak and bolted after them. I was sure weíd be caught, but what was there to do? Harry and I looked at each other, and sprinted after Ron, throwing off the cloak as we went so weíd be able to catch up.

When we did catch up, Ron was on the ground. Heíd knocked Crookshanks aside and had Scabbers clutched in his hands. We tried to get him back under the cloak before we were seen, but before we could do it, a huge black dog came bounding out of nowhere.

Gwen, it looked like a Grim Ė the Grim that Professor Trelawneyís been trying to scare us with all year Ė the death omen. Honestly. And you know I donít believe in that, but my heart Ė my heart stopped beating for a second, it really did. Especially because it knocked Harry down and I thought it was going to chew his head off. But it didnít want Harry. It wanted Ron.

It grabbed Ronís arm in its teeth and dragged him away from us. I hardly knew what was happening Ė everything was at high speed Ė we chased after Ron, but couldnít get close enough to help him. The dog had dragged him into the shade of the Whomping Willow, and somehow the tree roots opened up Ė and the Grim dragged Ron underground. Ron tried to hook his leg around a branch, but the dog was stronger Ė it kept pulling Ė Ronís leg gave this horrible SNAP! and he disappeared into the Willow.

Harry and I threw ourselves through the Willow branches, trying to get to that opening, but it had started to whomp us really hard Ė it got Harry across the face, and gashed me across the shoulder. We couldnít get through. I just kept whimpering, "Help, help, please," without really knowing who I was talking to.

And then Crookshanks did something that made me feel ill all over. He ran up and pressed a knot in the base of the tree, and made it stop whomping. He KNEW. And then Harry said heíd seen my cat together before with that horrible Grim, running across the grounds. I was so frightened. Ron was down there, and Crookshanks was part of what was happening. My mouth just dried up Ė all those times when Ron said there was something funny about Crookshanks, and he was right. And all I could think of was that if I had only listened to him, maybe he wouldnít be underground being eaten alive by the Grim. It was an awful moment. There was nothing for it but to go underground and try to find him. So Harry and I slid under the tree roots, into a tunnel, and followed Crookshanks along it.

A tunnel. I remember you saying Ė wasnít there a tunnel on Harryís Marauderís Map that nobody used because of the Whomping Willow?

Yes, exactly! Well done. This was that tunnel. Which meant it led directly into Hogsmeade, just like the other ones. We went along it as fast as we could Ė it seemed to take forever because my mind wouldnít stop imagining pictures of Ron getting dragged under by that dog, and what it might be doing to him now Ė oh, awful, awful. I made myself run the whole way.

Finally we came out into the inside of a dark, destroyed house. The windows were all boarded up. I realized that if we were in Hogsmeade, then this could only be the inside of the Shrieking Shack. The most haunted residence in Britain. I was already terrified, but it was twice as bad being in that house. And then we heard a noise upstairs, and there wasnít any time to be afraid because Ron was up there. Harry and I climbed the stairs to a hallway and followed the sounds to a door, which Harry kicked wide open Ė just like something out of a film, I swear.

Crookshanks was sitting on a big four poster bed. Ron was next to him, clutching his broken leg, but otherwise okay. I was so glad to see him alive that I ran over to him Ė so did Harry Ė but Ron was shaking his head and moaning, "Not a dog, Harry itís a trap Ė heís the dog. Heís an Animagus."

Behind us, someone shut the door with a bang, and we whirled around to find that we were all alone, in the Shrieking Shack, with Sirius Black.

Oh my God. Hermione.

It was easily the most frightening moment of my life. My voice was gone. I felt it go. I had my wand out, but I couldnít think of a single spell, and I just stared at him, taking in his waxy, horrifying face and his matted black hair and yellow teeth. He was filthy. He looked like someone who could kill a street full of Muggles without a second thought Ė or kill us, without blinking an eye. And before either of us could get a grip, weíd been disarmed of our wands. I remember thinking, "Well, thatís the end." I really did. I knew we were dead.

Black actually thanked Harry for coming after Ron. Said it would make his job much easier Ė said that Harryís father James would have done it for him. Harry gasped and shook. I knew what he was thinking Ė how dare that disgusting, murdering traitor talk about his father? How dare he make such a sick, cruel joke of his death? Harry tried to go at Black Ė he didnít care what happened to him, I could tell. Heís never afraid. But I wouldnít let him go, and neither would Ron.

But what could Ron possibly do? I thought his leg was brokenĖ

He got up. I donít really know how Ė his leg looked too bent to stand on, but he came over, grabbed the other side of Harry and said to Black, "If you want to kill Harry, youíll have to kill us, too!" Blackís eyes flickered with Ė well, at the time, I thought it was malice. But now I know what it really was Ė Sirius recognized himself in Ron.

What? Hermione Ė

Sorry, sorry. Getting ahead. Anyway, Black told him to lie down before he hurt his leg anymore, and I remember thinking that was weird, since heís the one who broke Ronís leg in the first place. But Ron just stood there and said, "Did you hear me? Youíll have to kill all three of us!" And Gwen, even though I was pretty sure Black really would kill all three of us, I couldnít help but admire Ron for standing up to him.

Black grinned. "Thereíll only be one murder here tonight," he said. Harry went ballistic. Started yelling, fighting, I couldnít hold him Ė he threw himself forward and cried, "HE KILLED MY MUM AND DAD!" Then it was chaos, mass chaos Ė Harry was beating on Black Ė Ron threw his body on Blackís wand hand Ė I kicked him in... well, really badly Ė Crookshanks sunk his claws into Harry Ė and somehow, some way, Harry came up holding his own wand. He pointed it directly at Blackís heart.

So thatís how.... he killed him.... and you survived...

No. Although looking back on it... how unreal. Harry almost did kill him. I still donít understand what stopped him. I couldnít make a sound, couldnít breathe, just flattened against the wall and waited. Ron was breathing really hard, looking sickly green from standing up on that leg. And Harry and Black just stared into each otherís eyes. I donít think Harry even knows a deadly curse, but the force of his hatred would have been enough. His eyes were like Ė I donít know, Harryís a mystery to me. It was Ė the tension between themĖ so incredible. And Harry really did almost kill him. What a nightmare.

What?

At that point, I snatched up my own wand and Ronís. My lip was bleeding from the struggle. Black started talking. He asked Harry to please listen to the whole story before killing him, but Harry didnít move his wand away. And then Crookshanks, to my horror, jumped up on Blackís chest to protect him. I felt I might be sick. I thought Crookshanks must be pure evil, to be working to intimately with Black like that. But before Harry could decide what to do about killing either of them, the door burst open, and Professor Lupin came through, into the room.

Professor Lupin was in the Shrieking Shack? How did he know Ė

Heíd been watching the Marauderís Map all night. Remember how he confiscated it from Harry after his last illegal trip to Hogsmeade? Well, Lupin knew how to work the map, because he wrote it. They all did, the four of them Ė Lupin, Pettigrew, Black and Potter. They called themselves Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs, and theyíd made the map so that it would show everyone on the Hogwarts grounds at all times, even under an Invisibility Cloak.

Lupin figured weíd try and sneak down to Hagridís tonight, so he wanted to keep an eye on us, in case.... in case what happened, happened. When he saw Sirius Black on the map, he rushed to help us. But it wasnít only Black heíd seen on the map, Gwen. Heíd seen another person with us, somebody we didnít even know was there. Heíd seen two people get dragged into the Willow, not just Ron.

Two people? How is that Ė

Heíd seen Peter Pettigrew, Gwen. Peter Pettigrew was with us on the Marauderís Map.

But thatís completely impossible. Itís insane, Hermione. Pettigrew is dead. They found his finger. Black murdered him the day after the Potters Ė

No. Itís not true. Let me explain, the same way Lupin and Sirius explained it to us, once we let them. And we werenít too keen to listen to any explanations, I can tell you. We made it as difficult as possible, though I can hardly blame us. It seemed like the world had turned upside down when Lupin, who weíd always loved and trusted, disarmed us of our wands again. I was absolutely sick at heart when, after a brief conversation that I didnít understand, Lupin crossed the room and embraced Black like a brother. I went into a screaming fit Ė I knew he must be evil Ė and all along, Iíd known about him, Iíd known what he was, and I hadnít told anybody. He tried to calm me down, but I wouldnít listen, I finally cracked and shouted "Harry, donít trust him, heís a werewolf!"

If Harry and Ron were surprised, Lupin was stunned. I told him Iíd known about him all year, ever since Snapeís werewolf essay, because of the lunar charts and his boggart being a full moon. He laughed a harsh little laugh and told me I was the cleverest witch of my age heíd ever met, which, under the circumstances, I could hardly take as a compliment. I told him if Iíd been a little cleverer, Iíd have told everyone what he really was. He said the staff already knew about him, and Ron lost it. "Dumbledore hired you when he knew you were a werewolf?" And Harry pointed to Sirius and shouted, "YOUíVE BEEN HELPING HIM ALL THE TIME!" It didnít seem any of us could ever trust him again.

Finally, though, Lupin did the first thing that had any calming effect on us whatsoever. He gave us back out wands and said, "There. Youíre armed, weíre not. Now will you listen?" He was always a good teacher. He knew just how to get our attention in class. And so, we listened.

They told us how, back at Hogwarts when theyíd all been friends, the four of them had secretly, illegally, become Animagi. Well, Lupin already was one, being a werewolf, but the other three did it, too, so that there was a wolf, a rat, a dog, and a stag. Thatís how they got those nicknames, Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs. They did it to keep Lupin company when he transformed, so it wouldnít be such an awful fate for him. Lupin would have to go under the Whomping Willow (it was planted for him, to protect other students from him when he was a wolf) and into the Shrieking Shack (also built for him, so heíd have somewhere to run wild when he went on his rampages. Thatís why people think itís haunted Ė Lupin was in there howling and tearing things apart.) But when he had his Animagi friends, it made the transformations bearable. Are you with me so far, Gwen?

You have my rapt attention.

So. The four of them more or less broke every school rule EVER. And there was somebody who wanted to catch them more than life Ė someone who was to them what Malfoy is to Ron and Harry and me Ė someone who just wanted to get them expelled and make them miserable. Severus Snape.

Your professor?

The same. Snape was in their year at Hogwarts, and they hated each other. He wanted to find out where Lupin was off to every month, so he could tell everyone. He was so interfering that Sirius finally decided to play a deadly trick on him. He told him to prod the Whomping Willow with a stick and go underground if he wanted to know what was the matter with Lupin. Of course Snape did it. He went under, and started toward the Shrieking Shack. If heíd gotten there, heíd have met a fully grown werewolf Ė

And been killed.

Yes. But Harryís dad found out about what Sirius had done, went under, and pulled Snape back. But though he saved him, it was too late for Lupin Ė Snape had seen what he was. So heís always known Lupinís a werewolf, and heís had a mortal grudge against all four of them ever since that trick. Heís been trying to convince Dumbledore all year that Lupinís the one helping Sirius get into Hogwarts.

Well, isnít he?

No. But unfortunately, nobodyís going to believe that except me, Harry and Ron, because Snape was in the Shrieking Shack with us that night.

Excuse me?

Hiding under Harryís Invisiblity Cloak. He picked it up from where we dropped it, and followed us underground.

But how did he even know to find you outside?

He went to bring Lupin the Wolfsbane Potion Ė it was a full moon that night Ė and the Marauderís Map was still out on Lupinís desk, showing where we were. He saw us and came after Sirius and Lupin with a vengeance. When he threw off the cloak and pointed his wand at them, he looked mentally deranged. Insane with joy. So excited to finally have caught Black and Lupin after all these years that he wouldnít listen to reason Ė he wanted to turn them over to the dementors and get their souls sucked out. But he didnít get a chance. Because by that point in the story, Ron and Harry and I believed that there was something important to hear from Black and Lupin, and we didnít want them killed. Plus, it didnít hurt that we all hate Snape. We all tried to disarm him at the same time Ė and ended up knocking him out with a bloody head.

Hermione!!

I know. So far this year, Iíve smacked Malfoy, dropped class, sneaked into a forbidden tunnel, and knocked a teacher unconscious after breaking out of school and into Hogsmeade to go after a deadly felon. Iím doing very well, I suppose, if Iím planning to live my life as a criminal.

Anyway, with Snape out cold, we were free to hear the rest of the story, and you WILL NOT BELIEVE IT. Gwen? Brace yourself for the impossible.

Sirius Black was NOT the Pottersí secret keeper. It was Peter Pettigrew. Sirius Black was strong, smart, the Pottersí dearest friend Ė he was the obvious choice Ė he knew Voldemort would assume it was him. So at the last minute, he persuaded them to choose Pettigrew. Weaker, less intelligent, and much less obvious, Pettigrew seemed the perfect bluff. And he, too, had always been one of the Pottersí dearest friends.

But Pettigrew was a traitor. His being weak had led him to the dark side. He was too afraid to fight Voldemort, so instead he joined him. And it was the most triumphant moment of his career as a spy, to be able to sell the Pottersí lives to his master. The second he was made their secret keeper, he went to Voldemort and betrayed them.

Everybody thinks that Pettigrew tracked down Sirius Black, and that he was killed in the same mad blast that took all those Muggles. But it was Sirius who tracked down Pettigrew. It was Sirius who was grief-stricken, looking for revenge. And it was Pettigrew who blew apart that street, after yelling that Sirius was the traitor for a lot of witnesses to hear, of course. He framed Sirius.

But Ė but no. They found bits of Pettigrew Ė they found his finger in the street.

I know. Brilliant, isnít it. He cut it off himself to fake his death Ė thatís how disgusting, twisted, warped, evil, and insane he is. And then he blasted the street, made a mess of everything, turned into his Animagus shape, which no one knew about, and disappeared down into the sewers with the rest of the rats.

Rats..... rats...... oh no, you said Ė you said Pettigrew was with Ron when he got dragged into..... Peter Pettigrewís Animagus wasnít..... but Hermione Ė

Gwen. Gwen believe me. I thought it was madness. But what rat do we know that has a toe missing? What rat has been hanging Ďround, in perfect position to strike at Harry Potter if the Dark Lord should rise again? What rat do we know that faked his own death for the second time, and framed my cat???

No, Hermione, no, not Scabbers.

Scabbers. Scabbers all the time. When Black broke into Gryffindor Tower and slashed Ronís bed? He was after Scabbers. When Crookshanks was obsessed with catching him, to the point of it being abnormal? He knew it wasnít a normal rat. Ron told them they were both mental. But Lupin and Sirius proved it on the spot.

How did they Ė

They forced Pettigrew to show himself. Scabbers became Peter Pettigrew right there, in front of all of us. Ron looked like someone had gutted him. I was just... just.... I mean, Iím still.... and Harry. The way he looked at him. Facing the true murderer of his parents after all this time. And Pettigrew was just groveling like the rat he is, groveling and begging for his life, appealing to all of us, trying to work on us Ė as if he could. No one loves Harry more than the four people who were in that room with him Ė and Dumbledore. No one would touch Pettigrew. Because he admitted heíd betrayed James and Lily Potter. He admitted it.

Then Sirius Black...

Is an innocent man.

Amazing.

Unreal. Lupin and Black wanted to kill Pettigrew on the spot. They told him he should have died for James and Lily, rather than betray his friends. They wanted to take revenge for Harryís parents, and for Blackís twelve wasted years is Azkaban. They pointed their wands and I turned my face away to the wall Ė I couldnít bear it.

But Harry dove in front of Pettigrew. He wouldnít let them kill him. Said he didnít reckon his parents would have wanted their friends to become murderers, just for that piece of filth. He said he wanted to turn Pettigrew in, instead, to let him serve the rest of his foul life in Azkaban. He... he spared him. Harry spared the murderer of his own mum and dad. I donít really know why. No one could believe it. But since Harryís the only one with a right to decide, Black and Lupin didnít kill Pettigrew, however much they wanted to. Instead, we all got out of there, with the intention of taking Pettigrew back up to the castle so that we could right all the wrongs of the past.

Lupin bound up Ronís broken leg with magic and then he and Ron chained themselves to either side of Pettigrew so he couldnít get away. Ron looked dead set. Heís taking Scabbersí true identity rather hard.

I donít blame him.

No, me either. Itís so awful Ė Scabbers has been with his family for twelve years Ė sleeping in their beds Ė theyíve been taking care of that evil Ė Harryís best friendís family has been harboring the traitor who killed his own parents Ė oh, I just canít think of it without getting queasy. It couldnít be any more disgusting.

We left the Shrieking Shack Ė Black floated Snape along with us (heíd been unconscious since we disarmed him) and on the way out of the tunnel, something wonderfully touching happened. You know how Sirius is Harryís godfather? Well, heís also his guardian. James and Lily wanted him to take Harry, if anything bad should ever happen to them.

And it did.

Yes. But obviously, Sirius wasnít available to honor his obligation. As soon as his name was clear with Harry, however, he stepped right up to the job. He really wanted to take care of Harry. I could hear it in his voice when he invited Harry to come and live with him. And Gwen, you know how Harry despises living the Dursleys; he agreed on the spot Ė and his voice... was barely stable. To live with his parentsí best friend, after never knowing them Ė to be with his godfather -- thatís the next best thing, isnít it? The two of them got all choked up, and so did I. Itís so sad, Gwen.

Sad? But it sounds beautiful!

Oh, and it was! While it lasted.... oh, Gwen.

Hermione, what do you mean Ė while it lasted?

Well.... the story has a.... a strange ending, and hereís why. When we got out of that Marauderís Map tunnel, we hit a full moon night. Professor Lupin hadnít taken his potion, because of all the chaos. And so he turned into a werewolf right off, and we all had to make a break for it.

Oh, no!

Oh, yes. Nothingís ever simple for us, Gwen. Ron was chained to Pettigrew, who was chained to Lupin, who was turning into a monster. Sirius transfigured into Padfoot, so he could hold him back. But that wasnít the worst of it. When Lupin transformed, he dropped his wand. Before anybody could think, Pettigrew had picked it up and shot a stunning spell at Ron. Ron dropped to the ground, Pettigrew transfigured into Wormtail, and like the rat he is, he scampered away into the night.

He escaped.

NO!

Now weíve no proof of what he did to the Potters.

But Lupin can tell them Ė you can tell them Ė

Nobodyís going to believe a werewolf. Nobodyís going to listen to Sirius; they think of him as a madman. Nobody listens to children. And Snape was unconscious, so thereís no objective witness. Itís no good. Black cannot be cleared. Heís as guilty now as he ever was Ė except we know heís innocent. Itís absolutely awful. And it didnít end there. Remember I told you how the dementors have permission to perform the Kiss on Black if heís found? To suck out his soul through his mouth?

Please donít tell me.

We heard Padfoot howling behind us. Sirius. We didnít want to leave Ron stunned on the ground Ė he looked awful Ė but we had to help Sirius right away, so we sprinted toward the sound. He was himself again, a man on his knees, surrounded by about a hundred dementors. Harry and I whipped out our wands, and Harry started the incantation heíd learned in his anti-dementor lessons with Professor Lupin. "Expecto Patronum!" He said it over and over, and I knew I should have been helping him, but there were so many dementors... my blood froze, my heart went numb, my mind shut down..... and I passed out.

Oh, thank God you lived. Thatís horrifying. They were trying to feed on all of you.

Yes, they were. I donít know how Harry stayed on his feet, the dementors are worst for him, because he hears his parents being murdered when they get near him. Yet he stayed conscious when I couldnít Ė all the cleverness and spells Iím so good at Ė and I collapsed. The next thing I knew, I was in the hospital wing.

You must spend more time in that hospital wing than any other student at Hogwarts.

I know. I woke up, and knew right where I was. I heard voices. It was Snape and Fudge, standing in the hall, discussing the events of the evening. Only their version was horribly wrong. Harry woke up and I hushed him so we could listen.

They thought that Black had Confunded us with magic. They thought he was still guilty. They were trying to work out what on earth made those dementors back away from him Ė they thought it must have been Dark magic, I guess, because Black wasnít dead.

What? They didnít Kiss him? Why?

Iíll explain, it happens later.

How can it happen later when itís already happened?

All right, fine then, it happened before, just Ė oh, this is so much harder than I Ė

Just continue, Iíll try harder to be patient.

Thanks, Iím almost there, Gwen, I promise. The most important thing at that moment was that Black was still alive, but he was imprisoned upstairs, and the dementors were going to be performing the Kiss on him at any moment. He was just having his final words.

Well obviously, Harry and I went berserk claiming that Sirius was innocent Ė and obviously no one would listen to us. Cornelius Fudge just thought weíd had a hard night, and so did Madam Pomfrey. Snape brushed us off, saying we were Confunded. But Dumbledore Ė oh, thank the stars for him, Gwen Ė Dumbledore had spoken to Sirius. And probably because heíd known him long ago, he believed him. Which meant that he believed us, too.

Even so, there was nothing he could do. The Ministryís given the dementors permission to perform the Kiss upon finding Black, and the dementors donít know any better. Plus, nobodyís about to give a retrial to Sirius Black. He killed the Potters, and thatís that. His only chance of keeping his soul was to escape from upstairs. But he was guarded by dementors, so there was no escape. Unless.... unless somebody were to change the past. Unless someone could turn back time.

Which I can. Which is not allowed. But every once in awhile, Gwen, Iíve learned that the rules are bendable. So, on Dumbledoreís order, I threw my Time-Turner over Harryís neck so we were both in it together Ė you should have seen his face, Gwen, he looked so confused it was almost funny Ė and then I turned the hourglass three times. Three hours back in time, to the time that we were just heading down to Hagridís.

YOU DID???

It was the weirdest thing weíd ever done. And trying to explain it to Harry Ė well, letís just say he was saucer-eyed when I told him that thatís how Iíve been managing all my classes. (And when I told Ron later on, he was so angry that I hadnít told him, really, he was completely offended. But I promised Iíd keep it secret! Honestly, what was I supposed to do?) In any case, we lived the whole night over again, only this time we were spectators, and stayed above ground.

And this time, one thing changed. Buckbeak did not die.

We rescued him from Hagridís pumpkin patch once we knew the executioner had seen him there, so that Hagrid wouldnít be punished for setting him free. We abducted a hippogriff, and stole into the Forbidden Forest to wait until Sirius was locked upstairs in the castle. Our plan was to fly Buckbeak up to the window, break Sirius out, and set them both free.

Excellent plan. Hermione, this is.... beyond words, you know.

It was beyond everything. We hid in the forest and watched ourselves get whomped by the Willow. We watched Sirius come up as a dog, and drag poor Ron under the tree. We saw Snape take the Invisibility Cloak and come after us. We saw us all emerge again Ė watched as Lupin turned into a werewolf, and had to stand by as Pettigrew escaped a second time. It was horribly difficult to let that happen again, but we had to. We only had time to save Buckbeak and Sirius, and we had to get through the whole thing without breaking the laws of time Ė we couldnít be seen. There was no way to help ourselves.

And then we got to the part of the night when the dementors had come after us. Iíll explain how they were driven back. I passed out before I saw any of this, but Harry told me, while we were waiting with Buckbeak, that someone across the lake had shot an enormous Patronus our way. It was so powerful that it rounded up all the dementors and cast them out. It must have been blinding Ė amazing. And then he said it galloped back across the water to the wizard who had sent it, and he saw the wizard reach out to touch it.

Who? Who was it?

I asked Harry that, and he said.... Gwen, he said he thought it looked like his dad. Like James Potter. It was an odd moment. Very gently I said, "Harry, your dadís, well... dead." I donít know how I dared to say it, really, but at this point in our friendship, whatís the point of pretending? I felt for Harry, but I knew it couldnít be true. He just nodded. He knew it was insane, but he had seen his father, he was sure of it. He was sure enough to run into the forest at the right time, to the place where the Patronus had come from, hoping to catch a glimpse of what he thought.... had really happened.

I waited and waited, feeling very strange, almost hoping Harry was right, knowing that he wasnít. Finally he came back, pale, looking like heíd just seen a ghost. Which, in a way, he had.

It wasnít.... James Potter?

James Potter didnít make the Patronus. He is Harryís Patronus. The wizard who saved us was Harry himself. He was over there, trying to find his father, and then he realized heíd seen himself across the lake, (they say he looks exactly like James Potter) and that it was he who had sent the Patronus, from the future to the past. So he shouted, "Expecto Patronum!" and because he knew heíd already done it, he was confident that he could produce the giant, silvery force that galloped across the lake and saved our lives.

And you know how a wizardís Patronus is always unique? Harryís galloped back to him, and he saw it was a stag. Prongs. His fatherís Animagus. He met his father in spirit that nightóthe shadow of James Potter came back to save his son. Doesnít that.... doesnít that take your breath away?

If I were still alive, Iíd be in tears.

Itís so beautiful, and so heartbreaking... and such amazingly powerful magic. Thatís a first class, fully-fledged Patronus that Harry summoned. It drove back a hundred dementors. Harryís really.... something. Sometimes I donít know what to make of him. Actually, sometimes, he scares me. And I donít know if Iíll ever really know him, no matter how close we are, because Iíve never been through what heís been through. But that doesnít mean I wouldnít do anything for him, the same as I would for Ron Ė the same as they would for me.

Now Iíd really be in tears.

Oh, Gwen. Iím in tears right now. I have been, on an off, ever since. My friends are everything to me, and weíve been through so much. But I try not to get weepy in front of them, because theyíre still boys. You know.

Anyway, thatís about it. We waited until we knew Sirius had been locked upstairs in the castle, and then we flew Buckbeak up to his window before the dementors could Kiss him. He scrambled to the window looking shocked, but there was no time to explain how weíd managed it Ė I did Alohomora on the window lock Ė he clambered onto Buckbeak and we flew to the top tower. Harry and I slid off, and then Sirius rose into the sky, calling back to Harry, "You are truly your fatherís son!" I was glad I was there to hear that, and to see Harryís eyes when he heard it. I wished Ron were there. And then Sirius and Buckbeak were gone.

We ran back to the hospital wing just in time to meet Dumbledore. Weíd done it. Two innocent lives were safe and we hadnít been seen, so the laws of time were still in tact.

Of course, when Sirius was discovered missing five minutes later, there was an uproar. Snape had an absolute conniption fit when he found out Sirius Black wasnít going to be Kissed. Iíve never seen anyone so mad Ė truly mad Ė barking mad, Ron would say. He really did bark, too Ė he howled. He blamed everything on Harry and me. Mostly Harry. And Snapeís right, thatís the best part of it! Heís right, and he canít prove a thing, because Madam Pomfrey says we were in bed the whole time! And we were.

But you also were not.

I know! Isnít it the best?!

Itís better than the best. Youíre bright and brave and I just think itís wonderful, what you managed the other night. And I think itís amazing that you managed this whole year, with your classes and your Time-Turner. At your age, I wasnít nearly so accomplished. I donít know how you keep it all in your head, I really donít.

Neither do I. Harry and I went over it all with Ron about forty times that night. And Iíve been going over it ever since. Sirius, Lupin, Pettigrew.... Potter.... Itís just too much.

Itís a lot to take in.

It is. And itís a LOT to write down, Gwen. My hand is killing me. And oh, dear, look at Ginny, sheís fallen asleep in the sun. Sheíll be fried pink if I donít wake her up. She sleeps just like Ron, with her mouth open. Itís sweet.

And how do you know how Ron sleeps, exactly?

From the HOSPITAL WING, Gwen!! HONESTLY. Oh my goodness, youíre terrible. You made me blush, I can feel it.

Youíre my favorite person in the world to tease, do you know that? Wake Ginny, rest your hand, and talk to me tomorrow. I need to mull over everything for awhile.

Believe me, Gwen, I know the feeling.

Thank you for telling me everything.

I always will. Iíll come talk to you tomorrow. Iím sure thereís something Iíve left out. But ah Ė thatís it for today. Hand cramp.

 

 

HQoW

June 9

Hi, Guinevere.

Hello, my dear.

Itís Sunday. And thereís nothing to do.

Do you know what that means? Nothing to do? Do you have any idea what that feels like, after the year Iíve had? Itís like... I feel like I just jumped off a mountain and Iím falling through the air, completely free. I almost want to go to the library, just because I donít know what to do with myself.

Donít go to the library.

I wonít. Ron and Harry already stopped me from reading this morning Ė theyíd probably explode if they found me in the library. I had pulled a book out of my stack of things I never got a chance to read this year Ė "An Appraisal of Magical Education in Europe", which talks about the other magical schools. I read something about them last year, too, but this book is much better. It gives wonderful details. I was really getting into it.

Thatís when Harry disarmed me of the book and tossed it aside. Ron pointed his wand at me and said, "Absolutely not. No way. Youíre finished. Outside." I mean, he sounded exactly like my father. I said, "Let me alone, I just want to read Ė I havenít had a chance to read for ages!"

Well you should have heard them. Both of them at once.

"You havenít had a chance to Ė excuse me Ė WHAT?"

"Youíre cracked-- you know tható you have to know it."

"All youíve done for nine months is read, Hermione!"

"And with that Time-Thing, youíve done three times as much as anybody else! I canít BELIEVE you didnít tell me about that thing."

"Read one more page and Iíll hex you."

"Read one more page and Iíll get Neville to hex you!"

So I went outside. It was a beautiful day. I know Iíve read a lot this year Ė all I meant was that I havenít had a chance to read for pleasure, but neither of them knows what that is. Anyway, Iím glad I went outside. It was getting dull in Gryffindor anyway, listening to everybody moaning about Professor Lupin.

What about Professor Lupin?

You see? I knew Iíd left something out in my last entry. He resigned, the day after everything happened. That beast Snape told all the Slytherins about him being a werewolf, and he knew all the parents would throw a fit. So he went quietly. I donít know what heíll do. Iíll miss him so much Ė he was the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher ever. Weíll never have a better one. I just hope that whoever we get next year wonít be a Quirrell or a Lockhart. No matter what, theyíll never be a Lupin. Maybe it will be a woman. That would be nice. Iíd love to see what the boys would have to say to that.

So would I. Although it is too bad that Lupin had to go.

Yes. But do you know what almost makes up for it? Hagrid. Hagrid is so wonderfully happy Ė happier than heís been all year. Ever since Buckbeak "escaped", heís just had this big, marvelous grin going underneath his beard. Harry and Ron and I just had to fight back laughter when he told us all about it Ė weíre the only ones who really know what happened that night. Us, and Dumbledore, Sirius and Lupin.

Itís so funny, playing dumb. Iím not used to it. Everyone in the whole school has a theory about what happened, and it makes me giggle to hear them guessing. All anyone knows for sure is that the three of us sneaked out and got in trouble, Buckbeak and Sirius escaped, and Lupin resigned.

What do people think happened?

Malfoy thinks Hagrid smuggled Buckbeak out somehow. Heís furious that "that great oaf of a gamekeeper" has outdone him and his father. Iíd curse him for saying things like that, but itís hard to get angry at someone whoís so stupid.

Percy Weasley thinks Siriusí escape has to do with mismanagement in Magical Law Enforcement. He goes on and on about how heíll change the Ministry when he gets in. Fred and George have taken to shooting Pepper Imps at the back of his neck whenever he says anything about it. Itís mean of them, I know, but while we were outside today, Percy was talking to Penelope about the Ministry, and Fred sneaked up behind him. And Penelope was really leaning close to Percy and everything? And Fred shot an Imp at Percyís neck, and Percy lurched forward and accidentally kissed Penelope in front of everybody! Can you even believe? Ginny and I just died of the giggles. I noticed Harry looked okay with it, but Ron made a vomiting noise. I donít know why he thinks itís sick. I donít think itís sick. Just, you know.... kind of.... well, truthfully, I think itís kind of nice. Some people arenít afraid to say they like each other.

Are you?

Gwen, donít. Iím not afraid, but... I canít.

All right. So then, what are you going to do with the rest of your free week?

I have no idea. I donít have to get up tomorrow if I donít want to. I donít have to pick up a quill. I donít have to study, or time turn, or.... anything. I think Iíll just.... relax awhile.

I must be hearing things. Either that, or someone I donít know has gotten hold of Hermione Grangerís diary. Whoís there, please?

Youíre awful! Iím so happy to be done, that I donít care how unlike myself I seem. Iím going to play chess with Ron for the first time in a whole year, and thatís just perfect. ĎBye, Gwen.

Goodbye, my dear.

 

 

HQoW

June 13

GWEN! GWEN!

Are you all right? Whatís the matter?

NOTHING! I GOT BACK MY EXAM MARKS! I PASSED EVERYTHING, I PASSED EVERYTHING, I GOT THE TOP MARKS IN THE CLASS AND EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE PERFECT FOREVER! OH, I COULD DIE OF SHEER RELIEF!

Congratulations, Hermione!!! Well done, my dear! I knew you could do it, thatís marvelous, you deserve it! You worked so hard.

So. Hard. So incredibly hard. You know exactly how hard. And I not only passed, Gwen, I passed with almost perfect marks. Better than perfect in some cases. A hundred percent in Transfiguration. (I suppose it didnít matter that my tortoise looked like a turtle after all!) Ninety-eight percent in Arithmancy, ninety-eight in Ancient Runes, a hundred percent in POTIONS!!! (Snape might be a lot of bad things, but he graded me fairly Ė he knew there was nothing he could say about that Confusing Concoction.) A hundred and thirty percent in Charms (and Professor Flitwick wrote me a note saying how impressed he is that I was able to manage everything this year. Isnít that nice?) And Gwen, I got three hundred twenty percent on my Muggle Studies exam.

Three hundred and Ė how is that possible?

Itís possible, because I am Muggle-born. Itís possible because I know a lot about Muggles. And itís led me to a decision. Are you ready?

I donít know.

Too bad! I am turning in my Time-Turner in the morning. I am dropping Muggle Studies. I checked the class schedules next year Ė I can keep Ancient Runes without overlapping any classes. I wonít lose sleep, or gain time. Iíll have a normal schedule again. What do you think?

What do I think? I think youíve made progress with your common sense. Iím really quite proud of you.

Well thank you. I donít know if itís really common sense, or if itís just the idea of another year like this one. Madness. Thatís what it was. Absolute panicking madness. Although Iím very glad I did it. After all, you never know until you try. Also, if I hadnít had the Time-Turner, Sirius Black would have no soul and Buckbeak would be dead. So there was a reason for everything.

There always is.

And oh, by the way, Harry and Ron passed everything, too, and so did Ginny with her second year exams. Fred and George scraped by on the O.W.L.ís, and Percy got top grade N.E.W.T.s, So everybodyís fine.

Good.

Well, Iím off, Gwen. Itís the end of year feast tonight, and Gryffindorís winning the House Cup! Mostly because of our spectacular performance in the Quidditch Final. Professor McGonagall gave the team fifty points apiece. Snapeís still in a snit about it. Plus now heís completely enraged about the events of last Thursday night. Heís always hated Harry, but the way he looks at him now is... actually scary. I sometimes think heíll actually physically hurt him. Thatís how much he loathes him. I know it has a lot to do with Harryís father, and I wish Snape would grow up and get over it.

Well!

Well? Itís true. And now I get to go and look at him squirm while our house takes the Cup for the third year in a row. Hurrah, Gryffindor! Iím thoroughly pleased. Except.....

Yes?

Well, I donít want to go home tomorrow.

Ah. Of course not.

Just when Iím starting to enjoy myself, I get dragged off. I have to go home and miss my friends all summer, and think about everything, and not be able to tell my parents because theyíd never understand, and not use magic, and just be a Muggle. I canít wait for the day when I can be a witch all year Ďround.

Soon. Four more years.

That seems like FOREVER.

But it isnít. Enjoy this while you can. Hang on to it. Go to the feast, and celebrate, and come talk to me tomorrow if youíre sad.

You know I will. See you soon, Gwen.

 

HQoW

June 14

Hi Gwen!! Youíll never believe what just happened.

Where are you? At home?

On the Hogwarts Express. Weíve just been sitting here talking about everything Ė I told them I dropped another class (shock, surprise, you should have seen them,) Ron was yelling at me for not telling him about the Time-Turner, Harry was being depressed about going back to the Dursleys. And then Ron tried to cheer him up by inviting him to the Quidditch World Cup this summer, if his dad can get tickets, which did make him feel a bit better... but then something even better happened. Something fluttered by the window.

A tiny owl. With a letter. From Sirius!!!

Really? What did it say?

He and Buckbeak are in hiding Ė heís going to let some Muggles glimpse him far from the castle so that the security will be lifted on Hogwarts next year. He gave Harry permission to go to Hogsmeade next year Ė he can do that, since heís Harryís guardian!

Wonderful!

I mean, not that Harry needs it, with the Marauderís Map (Lupin gave it back) and the Invisibility Cloak, but itíll be nice for him just to walk down the high street with us like a normal person instead of sneaking up through the underground.

Certainly.

And Sirius is so nice, he said Ron can keep the little tiny owl, since itís his fault Ron no longer has a rat! As if itís his fault Scabbers was really Pettigrew Ė but still, isnít that nice? And do you know what Ron did??

I feel quite sure youíre going to tell me.

He held out the owl for Crookshanks to sniff. And he said, "What díyou reckon? Definitely an owl?" And Crookshanks just purred like the perfect, smart, precious kitty that he is. So Ron has an owl! And he gets along with my cat! Isnít that marvelous? Finally, he sees that Crookshanks is amazing. Itís about time.

Oh, Hermione, you do make me laugh.

But thatís not even the best part. The best, best, BEST part? Do you want to know? Iím just dying of the I-told-you-soís. I really am.

What on earth happened?

Sirius wrote that it was HE WHO SENT THE FIREBOLT!!!! Hah! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! So there, I was right, and I TOLD THEM SO! All that silent treatment for nothing. I tried to hold it in. At first I just said, "Ha! See, I told you it was from him!" And Ron said, "Yes, but he hadnít jinxed it had he?" And then I tried really hard not to say anything else, but I just could NOT let Ron have the last word on this one, not after the two months of silent treatment, no thank you, absolutely NOT.

Oh, dear.

No, I was perfectly reasonable. We lapsed into silence after Harry finished the letter. He just wanted to read it over and over again, he was so happy to be in touch with his godfather. And then after about fifteen minutes, I made a little sound over toward Ron, like "Hmph!" Ron looked over.

"Whatís that for?"

"Oh.... nothing."

"No, whatís that noise?"
"Well, I was just thinking":

"Thatís not good."

"Hush. I was just thinking... about that Firebolt. And about, well, you know. Scabbers."

Ron sat straight up, crossed his arms, and turned around to face me, with his chess look on his face.

"Yeah?"

"I just have some observations."

"Such as?"

"Well, letís review the year, shall we? First you were hateful to me about the Firebolt. Not that Iím still mad, because Iím really not Ė but I was right about that wasnít IĖ Sirius Black did send it. And then you wouldnít speak to me because I wouldnít admit that Crookshanks hadnít eaten Scabbers. But I was right about that, too. Crookshanks never ate anybody. Scabbers was alive all the time."

Harry laughed, and said, "Spot on with those predictions, werenít you? Too bad you dropped out of Divination Ė Trelawneyíd be so proud. "

But Ron just sat back. "Letís review again," he said. "First you thought the broom was cursed. And I didnít. And it wasnít. There was nothing wrong with that Firebolt, was there? So you were dead wrong, got that? And then I kept telling you there was something funny about your cat, and heís an odd one all right Ė he was working with Sirius Black, and trying to get at Scabbers Ė so I was right! Aha! Admit it!"

Great heavens.

I know! Isnít he just insufferable?

Oh, thatís not what I meant. Iím just amazed by the pair of you. You two deserve one another.

Wh Ė what?! We donít... Gwen you canít say things like that....

Fine, fine. Just trying to make it easier for you to talk to me. Now, go on, enjoy your last hour on the train.

I will. Iím going to go find Ginny. Harryís busy with his letter, and Ronís.... oh my..... Gwen..... youíll never believe.... heís got his journal out and heís writing in it. The one I gave him at Christmas.

No. Thatís impossible.

I... I know.... and yet itís actually happening. I think Iíll faint. Iím going to find Ginny. Sheíll.... appreciate how weird this is.

All right. Go find Ginny. Talk to me soon.

I will. ĎBye.

 

HQoW

Gwen? Donít talk.

I said goodbye to all of them. Harry said goodbye first, and had to go off with his Uncle Vernon. I think heíll have a better summer, now that heís got a convicted felon for a godfather. I doubt the Dursleys will try and bother him now, even if he did blow up his Aunt Marge last summer. They wonít want to anger Sirius. Iíll miss Harry. We both promised to write, and this summer maybe heíll even be allowed to keep that promise.

Then I saw my parents coming, so I had to say goodbye to the Weasleys Ė Mrs. Weasley was there and she gave me a big hug, and then I hugged Ginny, and then I Ė well, I was about to hug Ron, and then I stopped. I donít know why I stopped. I just felt like if I hugged him, it would be.... too important. Does that make sense?

Can I talk?

No. So I didnít. I just sort of waved a half-wave and said, ""Bye. Write to me." And he said "Yeah, all right." And then I turned to go, and he said, "Wait, Hermione, er Ė if my dad gets extra tickets to the Quidditch World Cup, would you want to come? I mean, I know itís Quidditch and all, so if you think youíll be bored, then--"

"No, I wouldnít be bored, I want to come!" I said. And I felt.... all..... fluttery.

So heís going to tell me when it is and everything, and then if thereís an extra ticket, Iím going to go. I know it isnít anything. But it is. Isnít it?

Can I talk?

No. So anyway, thatís all. Ginny looked at me from behind Ron and I think... I think she knows. She smiled at me in a funny way, and gestured like she had a pen and paper, like "Write me about this."

Now Iím in my parentsí car, and I just.... well itís not.... what do I do?

Can I talk?

No. Gwen, itís not that I donít think you have something to say. Itís just that I want the words to be my own right now. And Iím scared. I donít know what to think or do. I have to be normal. I just have to be.... normal. Nothing can be any different. Itís all going to be perfectly all right. Iím not going to be a girl. Iím not. I just wonít let myself. Because heís not... he doesnít.... and Iím not if he wonít.

Iím glad itís summer. I need to be far away from Hogwarts for awhile. I have some things to figure out.

Hermione Ė

No, Gwen Ė

Please? I wonít say anything, really, you can let me talk Ė just wanted to say that I know what youíre going through. I do, I swear it. And I think youíre doing very, very well about it.

Honestly?

Yes.

Youíd say, if I was doing something stupid?

Yes.

You promise?

Cross my heart.

Well. Okay then.

I need to breathe a minute. I think Iíll just go and.... watch England go by for a little bit. Talk to Mum and Dad about my classes Ė theyíre really proud of my grades, and Dadís especially proud that I "learned about my limits" and let go of a couple of classes. He says that now Iím smarter than Mum will ever be, and she laughed and swatted him. Theyíre so wonderful that theyíre almost perfect. The only thing they need to do is let me shrink my teeth. Then theyíll be the absolute perfect Muggle parents. Iím going to work on them about it this summer. I know I can get them to give in. Iíll do research. Iíll build a case, like I did for Buckbeak. Iíve got practice at these sorts of things.

First, though.... first... I think Iíd like to write Ginny.

Good idea. See you soon, Hermione.

ĎBye, Gwen.

 

FIN

A/N: For those of you who would like to know what Ron wrote when he finally realized that his Never-Ending Notebook was meant to be a Ďjournalí, please see the short supplemental story entitled Ron Rants. As I continue with the diary of book four, Ron will be ranting fairly often Ė Iíll post his corresponding prat-like thoughts at the same time that I post the HQoW entries. Hope you enjoy!

//
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