September 19, 1990 - Nearly one year prior
The tall, stern woman nodded again, and Hermione felt a current of excitement run up her spine. She was different. She hadn't just been imagining it.
"What is a witch?" Hermione asked the woman.
The woman pushed her square glasses up her nose. "A witch, young lady, is a woman who can perform magic."
"Yes, but what kind of magic?" Hermione pressed. "In some books, witches can cure sickness with herbs. In some, they can cast curses. In other ones, they dance naked under moonlight. In still others, they talk to devils and do evil things during the night."
The tall woman softened, her pursed lips relaxing slightly.
"I daresay witches do many of those things, though not the talking-to-devils part," she said, eyes flickering with amusement. "And I've never met a witch that admitted to dancing naked, let alone outside."
Hermione turned to her parents, practically bouncing with excitement. They both looked skeptical.
"And there's a school for this?" her father asked. "Where Hermione will learn to turn into a cat too?"
"If she works very hard, she might," the woman confirmed, and Hermione let out a small squeal of excitement, dancing around.
"Mum, Dad, you have to let me go!" she exclaimed. "This is why those kids always ended up getting hurt – I'm magic, and I was protecting myself!"
Her parents exchanged a meaningful look, but Hermione was too excited to care. Her parents had been discussing moving her into a new school again already, there had been so many incidents. They'd give in eventually. She knew they would.
"Professor McGonagall, what else will I learn?" she asked. "Are there spell books? Are there grimoires? Is there an acceptance ritual? Do I join a coven?"
Professor McGonagall looked like she was trying not to laugh.
"There are spell books, yes," she told her. "First Year students will take Transfiguration, which I teach, as well as Charms, Herbology, Astronomy, Potions, and Defense Against the Dark Arts."
"Dark Arts?" Hermione's father suddenly looked alarmed.
Professor McGonagall nodded, unfazed.
"There are magical creatures that you could never imagine that witches and wizards might encounter, and defense against them is crucial," she said, her voice firm. "There is also the matter of self-defense. Just as non-magical people have criminals and killers, so does the wizarding world. We have the equivalent of your police force to chase them and hunt them down, but knowing self-defense will only help a student as they go out into the world."
Hermione's mother was nodding slowly.
"My university required a basic self-defense course," she said. "This doesn't sound too different."
Hermione didn't care. She was going to learn magic-!
"Can I go now?" Hermione asked, bouncing. "Do I get to go now?"
Professor McGonagall looked down at her fondly.
"Unfortunately, your term has yet to start," she told her. "I have brought your acceptance letter, however, and I can take you to Diagon Alley to get your school supplies early, if you'd like."
She handed Hermione a letter, which the girl opened with reverent fingers, almost shaking.
HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock,
Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Ms. Granger,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.
"You communicate by owl?" she asked, and the woman nodded. Hermione went back to reading, before slowly gazing up at the tall woman with a look of dawning horror.
"September 1st?" she asked, panic slowly creeping into her voice. "September first? But – but today is September 19th!"
Professor McGonagall nodded. "Term always begins on the first of September."
"But- but then I've missed it!" Hermione clutched her letter, horrified. "I'll- I'll be three whole weeks behind! Everyone else will be so far ahead of me already! I'll have to do loads of make-up work and-"
"On the contrary, Miss Granger, you are getting your letter quite early." She fixed Hermione with a look. "Students begin Hogwarts when they are eleven years of age, and not a moment before. Your year of Hogwarts will begin in just shy of a full year."
Hope blossomed in Hermione's heart.
"So- so then I'm not behind," she said slowly. "I can get my school books and start practicing magic now, right?"
"It is highly unusual to give a Muggleborn student her letter so far in advance of their school year beginning," she said slowly. "It is usually done the summer prior to the start of term. However…" She looked uncomfortable.
"However?" Hermione prompted.
"…The Ministry of Magic, in light of your most recent Accidental Magic use, has judged that if you were made aware of your magic, you might be able to stem such accidents, so the Obliviation Team would not have quite so much work to do," she said, watching Hermione.
Hermione processed what had just been said.
"…so I get to learn about magic early because I stuck all the bullies together?" she asked.
"You get to learn about magic early because the Ministry deems a ten-year-old child who is able to spontaneously fuse the legs of three people into one single leg, and then break that leg while she is running away as a threat," McGonagall said firmly. "That much magic to use uncontrolled, without a wand, is impressive indeed, but dangerous to have running around. I will take you to get your things, help you get set up with a small study station, and we will give you a proper place to channel your magic into."
Hermione beamed up at Professor McGonagall, who offered her a small smile back. Even Hermione's parents were smiling now, seemingly relieved that Hermione's 'incidents' now had a solution.
Hermione was going to be a witch!