37 Chapter 37: Beaver’s Contemplations

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10 November 1991, Hogwarts

Hermione Granger knew that she was smart. In primary school, she always had full marks. Except for Physical Education, of course, but that class didn't really count. The teachers loved her, appreciated her dedication to her studies, and showered her with praise.

But there was always something missing. There was a hole in her heart, a desperation to connect with someone remotely close to her age, anyone would do, really. When she had gotten her Hogwarts letter, Hermione was excited with the prospect of learning actual magic, but also the possibility of making a friend. After all, that must have been the problem. She was a witch and so, she should have friends who are also wizards and witches.

However, it wasn't to be. Hermione was just as isolated as she used to be in the muggle world. Her classmates made fun of her for being a bookworm and called her names like 'teacher's pet', and she hated it. Hogwarts was supposed to be a new start, not be more of the same but with magic being involved.

She was barely resigned to a life of loneliness once more until that fateful day she met Harry Potter. He was a Slytherin boy from her year. Hermione didn't like him at first. And it wasn't because she was jealous, because she wasn't jealous, not at all. Okay, she might have been a little jealous. He was just too good at everything. He got every spell from the first time, he answered any question the professors asked him, and most of all, he had friends.

The professors loved Harry Potter – except for Snape that is, for some reason. It was odd that his head of house disliked him so much for no reason, but Professor Snape was rude to everyone. But what irked Hermione the most about him was the fact that he had friends. No one ever called him names or made fun of him. For Merlin's sake, he probably spent more time studying than Hermione and she was the one called a bookworm.

The muggleborn started to observe him, hoping to find out how he was able to persuade everyone to treat him better, and she got absolutely nothing. After a while, she just tried to speak to him, and that was when it clicked. Harry was a genuinely nice guy who did a lot of self-studies. He just randomly picked a subject and when he didn't understand anything, he just looked at a book on the subject. That made him far more knowledgeable than any first year student had a right to be, but Hermione couldn't help but be impressed.

It was surprising that she found herself to be friends with him. He was easy to talk to, about academics and everything, and he was also very knowledgeable of the muggle world, which was weird for a scion of an old family like the Potters, but the muggleborn didn't really care about it, because it made their conversation flow easier.

He was her first friend and a real genius. Hermione was smart, she knew that. They both started learning magic at the same time, but Harry could learn something in a fraction of the time she needed to. It was humbling to see it happen in action. When Hermione wanted to learn a new charm, she thought that she would invite Harry as a bonding exercise. He learnt the spell in two minutes when it took her hours to do it. He just looked at the book, read the instruction and tried the wand movements a couple of times, and just cast the spell.

Harry Potter was the exact friend she needed. He was brilliant, understanding, kind, and had a strange sense of wisdom to him. He was strangely aloof and disinterested in many things – one of which happened to be Quidditch – but Hermione could excuse a few quirks in comparison to how wonderful he was. Harry always tried to help her even when she was being difficult – which wasn't often, of course. He would have been her friend for life if it wasn't for a single thing. He was a Slytherin.

Hermione knew that it was a bad thing to say, but Harry's house changed things. He didn't want anyone to know that they were friends, while she wanted to shout it to the world. Apparently, the upper years wouldn't like it if one of theirs was friends with a muggleborn, which was very bigoted and opened Hermione's eyes to an ugly truth of the magical world. It wasn't perfect and injustices happened all the time, and she was in the repressed minority.

Still, it was hard being alone for most of the day and only spending time with your only friend in a library or an empty classroom to avoid being seen, but it was better than having no friend at all. That was until Halloween happened.

Hermione's memories of the event were all over the place considering how terrified she was. Neville and Ron insulted her, and she went to the bathroom and was attacked by a troll of all things. Neville and Ron did end up rescuing her, but Hermione could swear that she saw Harry in the middle of things, but it must have been a trick of her eyes. It was probably just wishful thinking that her friend would come to save her. Ron and Neville had come to her help so why didn't her friend? Did he forget about her? Did he abandon her because of the other Slytherin?

She didn't know and it hurt. Lucky for her, Neville and Ron apologized for what they had said, and a friendship was formed. After all, there are experiences – like surviving a deadly mountain troll – which, when experienced with other people, will undoubtedly lead to close bonds.

Hermione was so elated to finally have people to spend time with from her house and who she could hang out with all the time, that she kinda forgot about Harry. Oh, she's ashamed of it, but it was just unreal. Hermione never anticipated what Neville's friendship could bring. Her classmates paid attention to her when she spoke, they included her in their activities, and just spent time together. She didn't just have Neville's friendship but practically the respect of all her house. How could Harry compare to all of that?

And so, she helped Ron and Neville in return. She focused every free moment she had to help them. They had given her so much, and she could pay them back by helping them in their studies. She wasn't as smart as Harry, nor did she have his prodigal talent in all things magic, but she was enough to get their grades to go up.

And didn't Neville and Ron need her help more than Harry? Hermione always felt like a spectator whenever she hung around with him. She felt inadequate as if she didn't bring anything to their friendship, and it scared her that her only friend would one day see how useless she was to him and stop being friends. If she proved to Neville and Ron that she was useful, that she was necessary for them to pass, then they would never let her go.

But her confrontation with Harry changed things too much. He wasn't supposed to be angry. He said some hurtful things and officially stopped being friends with her. It was then that she realized that their friendship meant something to Harry and that she hurt him, and replaced him for no reason. When he asked her to choose between him and her housemates, she wanted to choose him, she really did, but Neville needed her more. Her house needed her more. After all, she was a Gryffindor, and he was a Slytherin. It was never going to work out anyway.

At least, that's what she kept telling herself all night. It was the morning after her fight with Harry. Or could it be called a breakup? Hermione had lost her first friend to her negligence, and she didn't know what to do about it.

As she sat on the Quidditch pitch with the rest of her house, Hermione was subdued and not cheering on her friend who was making history. Neville was the youngest seeker in Hogwarts for at least a century, and she was proud of this achievement, but her conversation with Harry just occupied her mind.

Was Hermione really that shallow? Replacing your friend with a more popular and richer boy seemed like a shallow thing to do. The muggleborn had always prided herself on being a good person, but what she had done was anything but good. How is she supposed to fix this?

Hermione winced as one of the Gryffindor chasers, Katie Bell, get trampled on by Marcus Flint again. It was a foul, but the girl was holding her ribs while wincing in pain. Quidditch really was a surprisingly violent sport.

"FOUL!" Screamed the Gryffindors like a single wizard, with a few others insulting Marcus Flint, his parentage and whether his House was sleeping with trolls. Professor Hooch spoke angrily to Flint and then ordered a free shot at the goalposts for Gryffindor.

Next to her, Dean Thomas was yelling, "Send him off, ref! Red card!"

"What are you talking about, Dean?" said Ron. "Red card!" said Dean furiously. "In football, you get shown the red card and you're out of the game!"

"But this isn't football, Dean," Ron reminded him

The young muggleborn grumbled about changing the rules and Hermione rolled her eyes. She decided to just pay attention to the game, hoping that it would distract her from the guilt she was feeling. As she barely finished this thought, Neville's broom started moving as if it had a mind of its own. The boy who lived looked like he was hanging on for dear life, as the broom violently tried to get him to fall off.

Ron seemed to notice as well, "What in Merlin's name is Neville doing? Is he trying out a new stunt or something?"

Suddenly Neville's broom was given a sharp jerk and the Gryffindor was swinging off it. He was now dangling from it, holding on with only one hand.

Was his broom damaged or something? This was definitely not a stunt. But it was unlikely that a few fouls could damage a Nimbus 2000 this quickly. They were known to be fairly durable brooms. Hermione had researched it when Neville's grandmother had sent him one as a present for becoming the Gryffindor seeker.

Maybe it was a curse? She had read that Dark magic is very effective at overwhelming protective enchantments. Hermione took her binoculars and pointed it at the teacher's stand. Her gaze immediately went to Snape who was gazing at her classmate while murmuring an incantation without blinking.

So, Snape was cursing Neville? She knew that the potions professor was no good but trying to kill a student in broad daylight? That was just insane.

She murmured to herself, "Snape is cursing Neville's broom."

Ron shouted back, "Snape is WHAT?"

The redhead then calmed down but was still panicking, "What should we do?"

"Leave it to me." The muggleborn responded.

Before Ron could say another word, Hermione had disappeared. She fought her way across to the stand where Snape stood and raced along the row behind him. She didn't even stop to say sorry as she knocked Professor Quirrell headfirst into the row in front. Reaching Snape, she crouched down, pulled out her wand, and whispered a few, well-chosen words. Bright blue flames shot from her wand onto the hem of Snape's robes.

It took perhaps thirty seconds for Snape to realize that he was on fire. A sudden yelp told her she had done her job. Her plan seemed to have succeeded; up in the air, Neville was suddenly able to clamber back onto his broom.

Hermione slowly snuck back to her seat and gave Ron a cheeky grin. It didn't take long for Neville to almost swallow the golden snitch of all things, giving Gryffindor the victory. Hermione was happy with herself when the boy who lived landed on the ground, looking proud and relieved. She had saved her friends. Even if she lost Harry, she would make it up by making sure that Neville and Ron would be safe. Today was just a good first step in that direction.



I know some of you are frustrated with why I haven't really begun to change canon all that much. Well, I kinda wanted to keep things relatively stable for the most part. It was so that I could craft a good base to really start my story. Honestly, I needed the whole 'Golden Trio' thing to happen.

I'm kinda ahead in terms of chapters so I can say that I started to change things and that the path will start to diverge with that of canon in the next few chapters. The changes will start to pile up slowly with how this year will proceed until the ending. Second year, though, will be very different, and I'm kinda happy with what I planned so far.

As for those who are frustrated about Neville catching the snitch since he's not a flying prodigy like Harry, well, you're right he's not a prodigy. he is not as talented as Harry. He was just an average child who practised a lot of flying. He's at best as good as Malfoy is. Swallowing the snitch was a coincidence, and not done out of skill here (Not that it was on purpose in canon (There's a part in a future chapter where that issue will be explored a bit).


If you want to support me check out my patréon at https://www.patréon.com/athassprkr

I tend to upload drafts of early chapters on there to get people's opinions of them so you can read up to 20 chapters ahead as a bonus.

Thank you guys for your support in these hard times.

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