Chapter 1

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of their characters or anything else you recognise from the books or movies. I do however own this story, I wrote it and I do NOT give permission for anyone to post it anywhere else. If you want to share it post a link.

Harry watched sympathetically out of the corner of his eye as Hermione frowned when her transfiguration failed again it wouldn't do for her to see his sympathy though it would only upset her more than she was already. The work in sixth year was really a level above what they'd been doing before and removing the students who scored less than an exceeds expectations had allowed the professors to push the remaining students in ways they hadn't been pushed before. Hermione wasn't the only student finding it unexpectedly difficult.

She looked over at Ron and Harry and exhaled angrily. The two boys had been barely paying attention during the lecture and she'd bet galleons against knuts that neither had bothered to read the chapter in advance but both their attempts at the spell were more successful than hers though neither had fully succeeded yet. She reversed her spell and tried again smiling as the pillow turned into a perfect looking kitten then frowning as she realised it wasn't breathing. Reversing the transformation again she huffed again in frustration and continued to try.

"Take a moment to breathe and calm yourself and then think about what you're trying to achieve. The colour or the markings aren't important. Think about what makes a cat a cat, include the movements and the warmth, possibly the heartbeat or the movements of the ribs as they breathe," professor McGonagall said calmly.

Hermione blushed she'd never needed additional help from any of her professors until this year and now in spite of achieving outstanding in 9 out of 10 OWLs and being the first in the class to master silent casting but now she was struggling with transfiguration and starting to struggle with some of the more powerful charms they were learning and the new spells in DADA too.

She took a deep breath and tried again and again her transfiguration looked perfect except for the fact it wasn't alive. She felt a work of jealousy when Harry's cat started to meow and jumped off the desk. It was still a funny dirty white of the original pillow but it moved and sounded like a cat. Ron's transfiguration was also alive but it didn't look much like a cat. The animal spitting at Ron angrily, looked part dog, part rat and part heaven only knew what but it was alive and Hermione knew the rest could be fixed. She could have fixed that easily but she couldn't make her perfect looking cat live.

At the end if class she still hadn't succeeded in making a live cat and she was almost in tears when Professor McGonagall asked her to stay behind. Ron hurried out eager to get to lunch but Harry offered to stay and wait for her.

"No you go and eat. I'm not hungry anyway I want to get something from the library," Hermione said dismissively.

"Okay I'll grab you a snack or something to eat later" Harry replied.

"I'm worried about you Miss Granger. You were letting your emotions interfere with your work" Minerva said.

"I just couldn't get the cat to live" Hermione said frustrated. "I don't understand why I couldn't do it. My cat was perfect."

"Yes your technique and visualization were exemplary, the organs were all the correct size and shape. The problem was that you didn't put enough power into the spell" Minerva instructed. "Non-living to mammal transformations take a lot more power than any spell we've learnt in class before."

Hermione nodded. "So, I just need to put more power into it?" She said nodding to herself, but secretly wondering if she could put enough power into the spell to make an animal live and move for more than a few minutes. "Thanks Professor."

No longer hungry she headed to the library to begin her homework.

Minerva watched the young woman leave the room with a sigh. She wished that the old tradition of testing the students' magical power levels when they sat their OWLs hadn't been discontinued. Most of the time students who scored an Exceeds Expectations in a subject had the magical strength and aptitude to continue a subject through to their NEWTs but there were the rare exceptions and Miss Granger's academic brilliance and determination to succeed in everything she learned could possibly have made her one of them. She'd scored perfect marks on all of her theory papers, the effort she put in to her spell-casting and her perfect knowledge of the spells and her superior visualisation skills making up for the lack of power in her practicals. It was always a bitter thing for a student to have to realize that as they progressed to the higher classes, extra study and hard work sometimes just wasn't enough to compensate for having a weaker magical core, and academic performance was always so important to Hermione it was going to be difficult for her to be outperformed by others, especially by her friends who she was well aware didn't put half as much effort into their schoolwork.


Harry passed Hermione the sandwich he'd made her when they met outside the history of magic classroom.

"Thanks Harry" she smiled gratefully wondering why she fancied Ron who had probably not even noticed that she hadn't turned up to lunch once the food was in front of him, instead of the boy who treated her well and cared about her wellbeing. Still, for all that he was a thoughtful and caring friend, Harry had never showed any signs of fancying her so perhaps it was just as well she didn't fancy him. Ron at least seemed to feel jealous when other boys showed her any attention.

The time in the library researching followed by an hour of taking notes had restored her equilibrium and she approached double charms cheerfully. Unfortunately, her good mood evaporated as first Harry and then Ron managed to complete the spell before she did. Looking around she saw Lavender and Parvati had also succeeded, which wasn't surprising seeing it was a variation of cosmetic charm they frequently used, and Dean had managed it as well but that Seamus and Neville were still struggling. Remembering Professor McGonagall's advice, she put as much power as she could into it and finally succeeded.

"Very good Mr Potter, Mr Weasley and Miss Granger. Can you try a different disguise?" Filius Flitwick praised.

Harry thought for a moment and flicked his wand turning himself into a Weasley lookalike, red hair overdue a good cutting, blue eyes and freckles included. Ron burst out laughing and dropped his disguise. Hermione frowned and tried to complete the spell again.

She sighed in relief when Professor Flitwick called the class to a close. She'd managed several more disguises but she was exhausted from the effort it took. She normally loved to learn and it upset her that she was no longer able to enjoy so many of her classes.

"Okay great work everyone" Filius said enthusiastically. "I want two feet on the limits of using this spell to disguise yourself and ways to detect such disguises and we'll practice those spells next week."

Hermione tiredly left the class. She felt wrung out. The last time she'd been this tired was during the battle at the ministry, and this was just a plain old Tuesday. She considered going to Madam Pomfrey for a pepper-up potion but was worried the healer would keep her for the rest of the day. Instead, she watched enviously as Harry and Ron returned to the common room talking animatedly about sneaking in some extra quidditch practice as she walked slowly to Arithmancy thankful that at least she didn't have any more spell casting classes that day.


Hermione checked the notice board as she entered the common room as she always did and everyone was supposed to. She read the new notice informing the sixth years of a compulsory screening with Madam Pomfrey after lunch on Friday, when she returned from class that afternoon and immediately wanted to know more about it. She looked around and saw Ron playing chess with Harry.

"What do you know about the notice for sixth year health scans?" She asked them sitting beside Ron.

"Knight to queen four. What notice?" Ron asked.

"The one on the notice board" Hermione huffed.

"I guess we'll find out on Friday" Harry offered proving that he at least has read the notice and trying to prevent yet another argument between his friends, even if he couldn't tell her anything else about it.

"It says all sixth years are to report to the hospital wing at 1pm for screening Ron" Hermione said. "I want to know what sort of screening and why we've not had a health screening before. Do you think this is something new the ministry is doing to control us or distract from the war?"

"I don't know Hermione. Why don't you ask one of the seventh years if they were screened last year? Or ask Professor McGonagall?" Harry suggested.

"Ron, you should know about this. Didn't your brothers say anything to you over the summer?"

"Nope. Why would they? Rook to rook 7" Ron replied lazily.

After chastising Ron for his lack of knowledge and of course for not doing his homework before playing games, Hermione decided to take Harry's advice and ask one of the seventh year girls. She approached the seventh year prefect Leanne Tinker and her best friend Katie Bell.

"Hi" Hermione said. "I was wondering if you could tell me any more about the health screening spells the notice on the board says we have to go to on Friday?"

"McGonagall asked me to put the notice up" Leanne replied. "It's mandatory but if you have a good reason you can't make it at 1 o'clock Pomfrey would probably let you join one of the other houses. Ravenclaw have to be there at eleven and Hufflepuff at three," Leanne replied, not bothering to mention what time the Slytherin testing was because joining them would be a very bad idea.

"No, I can make it at one. I just wanted to know what they're screening for? And why sixth year?" Hermione asked. "Is this something new?"

"No we did it last year and Angelina and Alicia said they did in sixth year too. In fact, Umbitch tried to prevent the testing from happening. She said only the purebloods needed to be tested but Pomfrey came to transfiguration one day and she and Professor McGonagall did it for the rest of us in McGonagall's office. We were all spelled not to be able to talk about it until she left the school. Katie said comfortingly thinking Hermione was worried about ministry interference.

"But what are they testing for?" Hermione asked.

"They're testing your magic. It should have matured by know so they're testing for particular talents like animagus potential, seers gifts, and stuff so you know what skills they can offer you further training in or what you might want to work on after Hogwarts, and they test for any bonds or blocks on your magic, just in case," Leanne explained.

"My magic could be blocked. Who would have done that to me? Why don't they test us at the start of first year and every year?" Hermione asked horrified. "Why wait until we are sixteen?"

"They wait until sixth year because they have to" Leanne replied. "If your magic is bound there are only two or three ways for the binding to be removed. Either by the castor which mostly will be done before the child bonds with a wand, there's a rumour that some head of house rings will break any bindings on their owner's magic but it's said they also can kill anyone who isn't entitled to wear them so that won't work for most people. There is one backup in case of a tragedy where the castor dies or isn't able to reverse childhood bindings for some reason. Most bindings put on children by their parents or guardians are linked to a child's innocence so the spell automatically breaks when you lose your virginity. So even if you did have your magic bound and it's really rare for it to happen, parents sometimes put blocks on a child for their safety if a child's magic manifests too early or too violently and the spell was developed with the failsafe in case the castor passed away before removing the spell, Madam Pomfrey cannot encourage you to have sex before you turn sixteen because of the minimum age of consent so telling a firstie their magic is blocked six years before they can do anything about it would just be cruel."

"So why don't they do it on your sixteenth birthday then. I was sixteen last September. It could have affected my OWL results" Hermione asked angrily.

"Hermione, everyone knows you just about topped the class in every subject. I'm sure it didn't affect your grades" Katie said wearily. "Besides like Leanne said it's incredibly rare for a muggleborn to have their magic bound. Only a really powerful baby needs their magic bound to protect them until they learn to control their magic. They're testing everyone just in case but it's really just orphans like Longbottom who struggles with magic even though his parents were a powerful witch and wizard who might be likely to have a block on his magic, and even then it could just be normal for him, magical strength isn't always inherited," Katie said.

"What do you mean really rare for muggleborns? Do you mean that were not as strong magically as purebloods?" Hermione demanded angrily.

"No Hermione, that's not what I meant though it is often the case. What I meant to say was that there's a law limiting who can bind another person's magic and what circumstances they can do it. The ministry obliviators will only put a binding on a child if they've cast violent accidental magic that's strong enough to be a danger to themselves or their family, and even then a lot of those children will be taken away from their parents because violent accidental magic is usually in response to fear or injury or abuse," Katie replied. "Magical parents and guardians have a lot more leeway and some of them will bind their babies magic if it manifests too early or too strongly. Can you imagine a baby who doesn't understand the concept of the word no, let alone personal safety and rules being able to summon whatever they want or cause fire or explosions every time they threw a tantrum. Or a child with an affinity for accidentally apparating?"

"Children from magical households tend to do more accidental magic from a younger age because they see those around them performing magic so they believe they can too, or they start to steal their parents wands to play with," Leanne explained.

"Then how can Neville's magic be bound?" Hermione asked confused.

"Like I said, the patriarch of a family has a lot of power over the family members that no one else has Hermione," Katie said. "That's why it's very rare for anyone to speak against their father's or grandfather's stated beliefs."

"So you're saying Malfoy and some of his hangers on might not believe all the pureblood rubbish they come out with?" Hermione asked incredulously, side-tracked by the new idea.

"Malfoy probably does believe every word. It takes real conviction to be as consistently foul as he is. But Crabbe and Goyle belong to vassal houses of the house of Malfoy. They're obligated to support the little shite whether they want to or not. You'll notice they never actually start anything on their own. I'm not saying they actually don't agree with him. I'm just saying it's possible. Who knows what they really think," Leanne said.

"I don't think anyone actually knows if they're actually capable of thinking," Katie retorted.

Leanne laughed. "That's for sure, but that could be a clever cover too," she warned. "If you don't believe what your family tell you that you have to believe. Then acting like you don't have any independent thought is a good excuse for not talking the talk. Even if they're forced to follow You-Know-Who they won't be asked to do anything important because he thinks they're incapable."

"But they'd be sabotaging their educations!" Hermione exclaimed incredulously.

"Perhaps, or perhaps they're studying in secret and once they turn seventeen and have a little more control over their lives they might stop the act. You'll notice for all that they seem dumb as a troll and near squibs they are actually in NEWT classes not remedial classes," Leanne replied.

Katie shrugged. "It would be incredibly hard to keep up acting that dumb all the time, not to mention that it's dangerous, You-Know-Who could also think they were expendable and send them out on suicide missions or they could actually flunk out of school and embarrass their families and risk being disowned. So you think Longbottom could have a block, who else?" she asked curiously.

"I don't think Neville does" Hermione said thoughtfully. "He's doing much better now that he has his own wand. His crazy grandmother made him use his father's wand until it broke in the fight at the ministry at the end of last year and it really didn't suit his magic. That's why he always had so much trouble, that and a lack of confidence."

"As for who else Bones is an orphan, Turpin and Entwhistle both lost their fathers, there's rumours that Thomas' father could have been a wizard and of course there's Potter," Leanne conjectured.

"Harry's the strongest wizard in our year," Hermione protested. "Dean's no slouch either when he puts in the effort."

"Harry's the strongest student in the whole school, and he was stronger than any of the seventh years last year too. He might even have been the strongest even back in his fourth year. I still couldn't summon my broom from here to the quidditch pitch and he did it at the start of fourth year," Katie said.

"And cast a patronus that chased off a hundred dementors in third year," Hermione reminded them.

"Most aurors struggle to drive off more than two or three," Leanne said whistling. "For a kid to do that is unheard of."

"So how do they test for blocks on your magic?" Hermione asked.

Katie and Leanne looked at each other and both shook their heads.

"I'm not sure," Leanne said.

"We don't actually know," Katie admitted.

"What?" Hermione exclaimed.

"Apparently the test takes an awful lot of magic to perform, and it would be too tiring to test everyone," Leanne said.

"So they only test the virgins," Katie added.

"So they test your virginity in front of everyone?" Hermione asked horrified.

"No of course not, they take you behind the curtains one at a time and they're spelled with silencing charms. It's only Pomfrey and McGonagall there. But you can kind of tell from how long it takes that they've had to cast the block test or the animagus test or magical gifts testing took longer because the person has a form or gift or something," Katie said.

"Were there many people with a block on their magic in your year?" Hermione asked.

"Well no one really knows for sure but I don't think there were any," Leanne said.

"There weren't a lot of virgins in our year," Katie said. "Even most of the pureblood girls had done it though they would've denied it if they were asked. Purebloods are funny like that."

"A lot of them have betrothal contracts so if they were with anyone else it's like cheating on their future husband," Leanne explained.

"Or they don't want to talk about it because they'd been with their future husband and it might not have been totally by their choice," Katie said darkly.

"You mean they were raped? And there's nothing they could do about it?" Hermione asked outraged.

"No rape implies lack of consent. You don't have to actually feel like having sex to consent for other reasons," Leanne said sighing. "It's awful that those girls are stuck in betrothals they don't want but the alternative is to be disowned."

"There's nothing that can be done about it. Choosing the least worst of several bad options is still choosing. Just be grateful that your father or grandfather isn't likely to do it to you," Katie said.

"But that's horrendous!" Hermione protested.

"It's tradition. Purebloods are brought up to know they've been betrothed from a very young age. The sensible ones like Malfoy and Parkinson actually date each other right from the start so when they marry they're used to the idea," Leanne said.

"Yeah, but I can't believe you just called Malfoy sensible," Katie said laughing.

"He must have some decent traits, Parkinson seems to like him," Leanne said.

Katie shrugged "Or she's either deluding herself or a better actor than we think."


"What did you find out about the testing?" Harry asked anxiously when he saw her at dinner later that night.

"They're testing our magic to check we don't have any blocks on it," Hermione said.

"And what do they do if there are?" Harry asked uninterestedly. "Why wait the testing until after OWLs?"

"Encourage you to have sex. Apparently losing your virginity will break the block," Hermione replied blushing furiously.

"Just as well I probably don't have a block," Harry said dismissing the problem.

"They're also checking for talents like seer gifts and animagus," Hermione said. "Animagus are thought to be hereditary so there's a good chance you could be one."

"That would be so cool. I wonder what I would be?" Harry said dreamily.

"Probably a bird the way you fly," Hermione said practically.

"Hew be a sag ike ii ar-er," Ron said with his mouth full.

"That's disgusting! Don't talk with your mouth full Ronald," Hermione snapped. "I couldn't understand a word you were saying."

"He'll be a stag like his father," Ron repeated rolling his eyes at her.

"Not necessarily. The ability to become an animagus can be hereditary but the form you take isn't. It will be individual to your magic and personality, though I don't think a desire to fly will influence your animagus form," Hermione said. "It's a fascinating field of study, it's a pity that having a form is so rare, only one in…" Ron and Harry tuned her out as they almost always did once she started spouting statistics at them.


Hermione fidgeted throughout lunch on Friday, while Harry and Ron ate calmly.

"Calm down Hermione, the results won't change if you eat a decent lunch," Harry said.

"Wha da ma-er?" Ron asked.

"Close mouth, chew, swallow then speak Ronald," Hermione snapped. "Even the first years have mastered eating with their mouths closed."

Ron swallowed then turned to Harry. "What's eating her?"

"She's nervous about the testing this afternoon," Harry said.

"Why? I'm sure someone would be willing to have sex with her if she has a block," Ron said.

"The partner gets a slight boost in their magic too you know."

"What?" Hermione said. She grabbed Ron's hands to stop him shovelling more food into his mouth until he explained.

"Hey geroff!" Ron exclaimed.

"Explain what you just said!" Hermione demanded.

"When the block is broken the person's magic explodes outwards for a minute until they get it under control. Anyone who is close enough for that magic to touch their core kind of gets to keep a little bit of it," Ron explained, badly. "Now let go I'm hungry."

Hermione let him go distractedly.

"Hurry up I want to get to the hospital wing," Hermione said determinedly as soon as she noticed Harry had finished eating.

Ron frowned and helped himself to more dessert. "There's no point being there early they're gonna wait for everyone to be there before they explain what they're gonna do before they start the testing," he said dismissively.

Eventually Ron finished eating and Hermione managed to drag both boys to the hospital wing. Unfortunately for her, Ron was right, it didn't do any good being early because Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall ignored her questions and her pacing around worriedly while they calmly waited until the last of the Gryffindors arrived before explaining the procedure.

They stood quietly as Madam Pomfrey described the spells they were going to use to scan each magical core for gifts and talents. Hermione noted that they made the scan for blocks on a person's magical core seem like an afterthought as if they doubted any of them could have such a block but were making sure because of an outdated protocol. Still, she couldn't help but hope that she did. To her it made perfect sense,

she couldn't remember doing any uncontrolled accidental magic as a child and controlled accidental magic such as she had done was said to be the actions of a powerful witch or wizarding child. She waited her turn eagerly, as they worked in alphabetical order she was the third person called through. After a year of prefect patrols she wasn't surprised when Lavender returned very quickly blushing scarlet with embarrassment and Seamus also returned quickly, grinning roguishly at the other boys. Then Hermione was called and passed behind the curtain eagerly.