Harry suspected that Ron had warned Hermione not to call, which was a pity, because Hermione, the cleverest witch in Harry's year, had Muggle parents, knew perfectly well how to use a telephone, and would probably have had enough sense not to say that she went to Hogwarts.
Harry laughed as he put Hermione's letter aside and picked up her present. It was very heavy. Knowing Hermione, he was sure it would be a large book full of very difficult spells -- but it wasn't. His heart gave a huge bound as he ripped back the paper and saw a sleek black leather case, with silver words stamped across it, reading Broomstick Servicing Kit.
"Wow, Hermione!" Harry whispered, unzipping the case to look inside.
"So you can come to King's Cross with us tomorrow! Hermione's there as well!"
Hermione nodded, beaming. "Mum and Dad dropped me off this morning with all my Hogwarts things."
"Excellent!" said Harry happily.
"But it'll be fascinating to study them from the wizarding point of view," said Hermione earnestly.
"Are you planning to eat or sleep at all this year, Hermione?" asked Harry [...]
"Are you sure you're okay, Harry?" said Hermione, watching Harry anxiously.
"Ignore him," said Hermione, who was right behind Harry. "Just ignore him, it's not worth it...."
Harry and Ron stared at her with a mixture of amazement and admiration. They had never heard Hermione speak to a teacher like that before.
Everyone was looking at Harry, everyone except Hermione, who had gotten up and moved around to the back of Professor Trelawney's chair.
"I don't think it looks like a Grim," she said flatly.
Professor Trelawney surveyed Hermione with mounting dislike.
"There you are, then," said Hermione in a superior tone. "They see the Grim and die of fright. The Grim's not an omen, it's the cause of death! And Harry's still with us because he's not stupid enough to see one and think, right, well, I'd better kick the bucket then!"
I don't know," Hermione said slowly, and Harry saw her glance at him.
"I'm allowed to walk across the grounds, " he said, pointedly. "Sirius Black hasn't got past the dementors yet, has he?"
Harry threw himself into a chair beside Ron, his high spirits ebbing away. Hermione seemed to read his mind.
"Oh, my --" Hermione grabbed Harry's arm.
"I've got no chance with these on," Harry said exasperatedly, waving his glasses.
At that very moment, Hermione appeared at his shoulder; she was holding her cloak over her head and was, inexplicably, beaming.
"I've had an idea, Harry! Give me your glasses, quick!"
He handed them to her, and as the team watched in amazement, Hermione tapped them with her wand and said, "Impervius!"
"We thought you'd died," said Alicia, who was shaking.
Hermione made a small, squeaky noise. Her eyes were extremely bloodshot.
"Professor Flitwick brought it back just before you came around," said Hermione in a very small voice.
Slowly, she reached down for a bag at her feet, turned it upside down, and tipped a dozen bits of splintered wood and twig onto the bed, the only remains of Harry's faithful, finally beaten broomstick.
Hermione bit her lip, looking extremely worried.
"Are you going to report me?" Harry asked her, grinning.
"Oh -- of course not -- but honestly, Harry --"
Hermione's leg gave a nervous twitch next to him.
"You really don't look well, you know," Hermione said, peering anxiously into his face.
"I'm fine," said Harry.
"Don't be silly," said Hermione in a panicky voice. "Harry doesn't want to kill anyone, do you, Harry?"
"Harry, please," said Hermione, her eyes now shining with tears, "Please be sensible. Black did a terrible, terrible thing, but d-don't put yourself in danger, it's what Black wants.... Oh, Harry, you'd be playing right into Black's hands if you went looking for him. Your mum and dad wouldn't want you to get hurt, would they? They'd never want you to go looking for Black!"
"No!" said Hermione quickly. "Harry isn't supposed to leave the castle, Ron --"
"Listen, Hagrid," he said, "you can't give up. Hermione's right, you just need a good defense. You can call us as witnesses --"
To his great surprise, Hermione did not appear either excited or intrigued by the news. On the contrary, her face fell, and she bit her lip.
Harry knew that Hermione had meant well, but that didn't stop him from being angry with her. He had been the owner of the best broom in the world for a few short hours, and now, because of her interference, he didn't know whether he would ever see it again.
Even so, he was showing the strain nearly as much as Hermione, whose immense workload finally seemed to be getting to her. Every night, without fail, Hermione was to be seen in a corner of the common room, several tables spread with books, Arithmancy charts, rune dictionaries, diagrams of Muggles lifting heavy objects, and file upon file of extensive notes; she barely spoke to anybody and snapped when she was interrupted.
Harry looked up. Hermione was barely visible behind a tottering pile of books.
"You know what -- we should make up with Hermione... she was only trying to help..." Harry said.
Harry and Ron had a clear view of Hermione, the only person who hadn't rushed over to them, bent over her work and carefully avoiding their eyes. Harry and Ron approached her table and at last, she looked up.
"I got it back," said Harry, grinning at her and holding up the Firebolt.
"See, Hermione? There wasn't anything wrong with it!" said Ron.
"Well -- there might have been!" said Hermione. "I mean, at least you know now that it's safe!"
"Yeah, I suppose so," said Harry. "I'd better put it upstairs."
"I'll take it!" said Ron eagerly. "I've got to give Scabbers his rat tonic."
He took the Firebolt and, holding it as if it were made of glass, carried it away up the boys' staircase.
"Can I sit down, then?" Harry asked Hermione.
"I suppose so," said Hermione, moving a great stack of parchment off a chair.
Harry looked around at the cluttered table, at the long Arithmancy essay on which the ink was still glistening, at the even longer Muggle Studies essay "Explain Why Muggles Need Electricity" and at the rune translation Hermione was now poring over.
"How are you getting through all this stuff?" Harry asked her.
"Oh, well -- you know -- working hard," said Hermione. Close-up, Harry saw that she looked almost as tired as Lupin.
"Why don't you just drop a couple of subjects?" Harry asked, watching her lifting books as she searched for her rune dictionary.
"I couldn't do that!" said Hermione, looking scandalized.
"Arithmancy looks terrible," said Harry, picking up a very complicated-looking number chart.
"Oh no, it's wonderful!" said Hermione earnestly. "It's my favorite subject! It's --"
It looked like the end of Ron and Hermione's friendship. Each was so angry with the other that Harry couldn't see how they'd ever make up.
Personally, Harry was sure that Crookshanks had eaten Scabbers, and when he tried to point out to Hermione that the evidence all pointed that way, she lost her temper with Harry, too.
"Okay, side with Ron, I knew you would!" she said shrilly. "First the Firebolt, now Scabbers, everything's my fault, isn't it?! Just leave me alone, Harry, I've got a lot of work to do!"
Only one person wasn't joining in the festivities. Hermione, incredibly, was sitting in a corner, attempting to read an enormous book entitled Home Life and Social Habits of British Muggles. Harry broke away from the table where Fred and George had started juggling butterbeer bottles and went over to her.
"Did you even come to the match?" he asked her.
"Of course I did," said Hermione in a strangely high-pitched voice, not looking up. "And I'm very glad we won, and I think you did really well, but I need to read this by Monday."
"Come on, Hermione, come and have some food," Harry said, looking over at Ron and wondering whether he was in a good enough mood to bury the hatchet.
"I can't, Harry. I've still got four hundred and twenty-two pages to read!" said Hermione, now sounding slightly hysterical. "Anyway..." She glanced over at Ron too. "He doesn't want me to join in."
Hermione burst into tears. Before Harry could say or do anything, she tucked the enormous book under her arm, and, still sobbing, ran toward the staircase to the girls' dormitories and out of sight.
"Can't you give her a break?" Harry asked Ron quietly.
"Hermione," said Hagrid.
"What about her?" said Ron.
"She's in a righ' state, that's what. She's bin comin' down ter visit me a lot since Chris'mas. Bin feelin' lonely. Firs' yeh weren' talking to her because o' the Firebolt, now yer not talkin' to her because her cat --"
"-- ate Scabbers!" Ron interjected angrily.
"Because her cat acted like all cats do," Hagrid continued doggedly. "She's cried a fair few times, yeh know. Goin' through a rough time at the moment. Bitten off more'n she can chew, if yeh ask me, all the work she's tryin' ter do. Still found time ter help me with Buckbeak's case, mind.... She's found some really good stuff fer me... reckon he'll stand a good chance now..."
"Hagrid, we should've helped as well -- sorry --" Harry began awkwardly.
"I'm not blamin' yeh!" said Hagrid, waving Harry's apology aside. "Gawd knows yeh've had enough ter be gettin' on with. I've seen yeh practicin' Quidditch ev'ry hour o' the day an' night -- but I gotta tell yeh, I thought you two'd value yer friend more'n broomsticks or rats. Tha's all."
Harry and Ron exchanged uncomfortable looks.
"Really upset, she was, when Black nearly stabbed yeh, Ron. She's got her heart in the right place, Hermione has, an' you two not talkin' to her --"
"Harry!" said a voice in his right ear. Harry started and looked around at Hermione, who was sitting at the table right behind them and clearing a space in the wall of books that had been hiding her.
"Harry, if you go into Hogsmeade again... I'll tell Professor McGonagall about that map!" said Hermione.
"Can you hear someone talking, Harry?" growled Ron, not looking at Hermione.
"Ron, how can you let him go with you? After what Sirius Black nearly did to you! I mean it, I'll tell --"
"So now you're trying to get Harry expelled!" said Ron furiously. "Haven't you done enough damage this year?"
Hermione opened her mouth to respond, but with a soft hiss, Crookshanks leapt onto her lap. Hermione took one frightened look at the expression on Ron's face, gathered up Crookshanks, and hurried away toward the girls' dormitories.
Harry and Ron both made furious moves toward Malfoy, but Hermione got there first -- SMACK!
She had slapped Malfoy across the face with all the strength she could muster. Malfoy staggered. Harry, Ron, Crabbe, and Goyle stood flabbergasted as Hermione raised her hand again.
"Don't you dare call Hagrid pathetic, you foul -- you evil --"
"Hermione!" said Ron weakly, and he tried to grab her hand as she swung it back.
"Get off, Ron!"
Hermione pulled out her wand. Malfoy stepped backward. Crabbe and Goyle looked at him for instructions, thoroughly bewildered.
"C'mon," Malfoy muttered, and in a moment, all three of them had disappeared into the passageway to the dungeons.
Hermione wasn't at lunch either. By the time they had finished their apple pie, the after-effects of the Cheering Charms were wearing off, and Harry and Ron had started to get slightly worried.
Hermione was sitting at a table, fast asleep, her head resting on an open Arithmancy book. They went to sit down on either side of her. Harry prodded her awake.
"Wh -- what?" said Hermione, waking with a start and staring wildly around. "Is it time to go? W -- which lesson have we got now?"
"Divination, but it's not for another twenty minutes," said Harry.
"Hermione, why didn't you come to Charms?"
"What? Oh no!" Hermione squeaked. "I forgot to go to Charms!"
"But how could you forget?" said Harry. "You were with us till we were right outside the classroom!"
"I don't believe it!" Hermione wailed. "Was Professor Flitwick angry? Oh, it was Malfoy, I was thinking about him and I lost track of things!"
"Well, honestly... 'the fates have informed her'. Who sets the exam? She does! What an amazing prediction!" she said, not troubling to keep her voice low. Harry and Ron choked back laughs.
"Oh, for goodness sake!" said Hermione loudly. "Not that ridiculous Grim again!"
Professor Trelawney raised her enormous eyes to Hermione's face. Parvati whispered something to Lavender, and they both glared at Hermione too. Professor Trelawney stood up, surveying Hermione with unmistakable anger.
"I am sorry to say that from the moment you have arrived in this class my dear, it has been apparent that you do not have what the noble art of Divination requires. Indeed, I don't remember ever meeting a student whose mind was so hopelessly mundane."
There was a moment's silence. Then --
"Fine!" said Hermione suddenly, getting up and cramming Unfogging the Future back into her bag. "Fine!" she repeated, swinging the bag over her shoulder and almost knocking Ron off his chair. "I give up! I'm leaving!"
And to the whole class's amazement, Hermione strode over to the trapdoor, kicked it open, and climbed down the ladder out of sight.
But nobody had as much to do as Hermione. Even without Divination, she was taking more subjects than anybody else. She was usually last to leave the common room at night, first to arrive at the library the next morning; she had shadows like Lupin's under her eyes, and seemed constantly close to tears.
"You're going to be fine," Hermione told him, though she looked positively terrified.
In fact, the only person who seemed more anxious than Percy was Hermione.
"Is there any point asking how you're going to sit for two exams at once?" said Harry.
But Harry could tell Hermione didn't really believe what she was saying.
"Where is it?" said Hermione.
Harry told her about leaving it in the passageway under the one-eyed witch.
"... if Snape sees me anywhere near there again, I'm in serious trouble," he finished.
"That's true," said Hermione, getting to her feet. "If he sees you.... How do you open the witch's hump again?"
"You -- you tap it and say, 'Dissendium,'" said Harry. "But --"
Hermione didn't wait for the rest of his sentence; she strode across the room, pushed open the Fat Lady's portrait and vanished from sight.
Hermione, who had been rummaging in Hagrid's cupboard for another milk jug, let out a small, quickly stifled sob. She straightened up with the new jug in her hands, fighting back tears.
"We'll stay with you too, Hagrid," she began, but Hagrid shook his shaggy head.
...Silent tears were now streaming down Hermione's face, but she hid them from Hagrid, bustling around making tea.
Hermione swayed on the spot.
"They did it!" she whispered to Harry. "I d -- don't believe it -- they did it!"
She and Harry looked at each other, then followed at a sprint; it was impossible to run full out under the cloak [...]
Crookshanks was a little way along, his eyes flashing in the light from Harry's wand. Seconds later, Hermione slithered down beside him.
Harry glanced at Hermione, who looked very frightened but nodded.
Hermione suddenly grabbed Harry's arm again. Her wide eyes were traveling around the boarded windows.
"Harry," she whispered, "I think we're in the Shrieking Shack."
The fingers tightened, Harry choked, his glasses askew. Then he saw Hermione's foot swing out of nowhere. Black let go of Harry with a grunt of pain [...]
"DON'T BELIEVE IT!" Hermione screamed.
Lupin let go of Black and turned to her. She had raised herself off the floor and was pointing at Lupin, wild-eyed. "You -- you --"
"-- you and him!"
"Hermione, calm down --"
"I didn't tell anyone!" Hermione shrieked. "I've been covering up for you --"
"Hermione, listen to me, please'" Lupin shouted. "I can explain --"
"You're wrong," said Lupin. "I haven't been Sirius's friend, but I am now -- Let me explain...."
"NO!" Hermione screamed. "Harry, don't trust him, he's been helping Black get into the castle, he wants you dead too -- he's a werewolf!"
There was a ringing silence. Everyone's eyes were now on Lupin, who looked remarkably calm, though rather pale.
"Not at all up to your usual standard, Hermione," he said. "Only one out of three, I'm afraid. I have not been helping Sirius get into the castle and I certainly don't want Harry dead." An odd shiver passed over his face. "But I won't deny that I am a werewolf."
Lupin stopped dead. Then, with an obvious effort, he turned to Hermione and said, "How long have you known?"
"Ages," Hermione whispered. [...]
Did you check the lunar chart and realize that I was always ill at the full moon? Or did you realize that the boggart changed into the moon when it saw me?"
"Both," Hermione said quietly.
Lupin forced a laugh.
"You're the cleverest witch of your age I've ever met, Hermione."
"I'm not," Hermione whispered. "If I'd been a bit cleverer, I'd have told everyone what you are!"
Then Hermione spoke, in a trembling, would-be calm sort of voice, as though trying to will Professor Lupin to talk sensibly.
"But Professor Lupin... Scabbers can't be Pettigrew... it just can't be true, you know it can't..."
"Why can't it be true?" Lupin said calmly, as though they were in class, and Hermione had simply spotted a problem in an experiment with grindylows.
"Because... because people would know if Peter Pettigrew had been an Animagus. We did Animagi in class with Professor McGonagall. And I looked them up when I did my homework -- the Ministry of Magic keeps tabs on witches and wizards who can become animals; there's a register showing what animal they become, and their markings and things... and I went and looked Professor McGonagall up on the register, and there have been only seven Animagi this century, and Pettigrew's name wasn't on the list."
Harry had barely had time to marvel inwardly at the effort Hermione put into her homework, when Lupin started to laugh.
"Right again, Hermione!" he said. "But the Ministry never knew that here used to be three unregistered Animagi running around Hogwarts."
"Expecto patronum! Hermione, help me! Expecto patronum!"
Harry moved his head over on the pillow. In the bed to his right lay Hermione. Moonlight was falling across her bed. Her eyes were open too. She looked petrified, and when she saw that Harry was awake, pressed a finger to her lips...
"Minister, listen, please," Hermione said; she had hurried to Harry's side [...]
"That was because you were knocked out, Professor!" said Hermione earnestly. "You didn't arrive in time to hear..."
"Miss Granger, HOLD YOUR TONGUE!"
"What we need," said Dumbledore slowly, and his light blue eyes moved from Harry to Hermione, "is more time."
"But --" Hermione began. And then her eyes became very round. "OH!"
"Miss Granger, you know the law -- you know what is at stake.... You -- must -- not -- be --seen."
Harry didn't have a clue what was going on. [...]
"Good luck?" Harry repeated as the door closed behind Dumbledore. "Three turns? What's he talking about? What are we supposed to do?"
But Hermione was fumbling with the neck of her robes, pulling from beneath them a very long, very fine gold chain.
"Harry, come here," she said urgently. "Quick!"
Harry moved toward her, completely bewildered. She was holding the chain out. He saw a tiny, sparkling hourglass hanging from it.
She had thrown the chain around his neck too.
"Ready?" she said breathlessly.
"What are we doing?" Harry said, completely lost. [...]
He was standing next to Hermione in the deserted entrance hall and a stream of golden sunlight was falling across the paved floor from the open front doors. He looked wildly around at Hermione, the chain of the hourglass cutting into his neck.
"Hermione, what --?"
"In here!" Hermione seized Harry's arm and dragged him across the hall to the door of a broom closet; she opened it, pushed him inside among the buckets and mops, then slammed the door behind them.
"What -- how -- Hermione, what happened?"
"We've gone back in time," Hermione whispered, lifting the chain off Harry's neck in the darkness. "Three hours back..."
Harry found his own leg and gave it a very hard pinch. It hurt a lot, which seemed to rule out the possibility that he was having a very bizarre dream.
Hermione sat down on an upturned bucket, looking desperately anxious, but Harry wanted a few questions answered.
"Where did you get that hourglass thing?"
"It's called a Time-Turner," Hermione whispered, "and I got it from Professor McGonagall on our first day back. I've been using it all year to get to all my lessons. Professor McGonagall made me swear I wouldn't tell anyone. She had to write all sorts of letters to the Ministry of Magic so I could have one. She had to tell them that I was a model student, and that I'd never, ever use it for anything except my studies.... I've been turning it back so I could do hours over again, that's how I've been doing several lessons at once, see?"
Harry stared at her shadowy face.
"This is the weirdest thing we've ever done," Harry said fervently...
"Let's move along a bit," Hermione whispered.
Hermione's mouth was slightly open by the time Harry had finished.
Hermione was still looking at him as though worried about his sanity.
"I know it sounds crazy," said Harry flatly.
"This is it, Hermione --"
Hermione put her hands on Buckbeak's back and Harry gave her a leg up. Then he placed his foot on one of the lower branches of the bush and climbed up in front of her. He pulled Buckbeak's rope back over his neck and tied it to the other side of his collar like reins.
"Ready?" he whispered to Hermione. "You'd better hold on to me --
Hermione was holding Harry very tight around the waist; he could hear her muttering, "Oh, no -- I don't like this oh, I really don't like this--"
Hermione was tugging at his sleeve, staring at her watch. "We've got exactly ten minutes to get back down to the hospital wing without anybody seeing us -- before Dumbledore locks the door --"
"Okay," said Harry, wrenching his gaze from the sky, "let's go...."
"Hermione -- what'll happen -- if we don't get back inside before Dumbledore locks the door?" Harry panted.
I don't want to think about it!" Hermione moaned...
Hermione gave Harry and Ron some surprising news. "I went to see Professor McGonagall this morning, just before breakfast. I've decided to drop Muggle Studies."
"But you passed your exam with three hundred and twenty percent!" said Ron.
"I know," sighed Hermione, "but I can't stand another year like this one. That Time-Turner, it was driving me mad. I've handed it in. Without Muggle Studies and Divination, I'll be able to have a normal schedule again."
I still can't believe you didn't tell us about it," said Ron grumpily. "We're supposed to be your friends."
"I promised I wouldn't tell anyone," said Hermione severely. She looked around at Harry...
"Oh, cheer up, Harry!" said Hermione sadly.
"I'm okay," said Harry quickly.