CHAPTER ONE --- FIRST MEETING
Hermione and Ginny's Adventure
by Roy Wilson, in the style of J.K. Rowling
Hermione Granger closed her book and looked at the library clock. It had only a single hand and there were no numbers, but the hand was pointing to the words, "Almost Time To Go." She had promised Professor McGonagall she would call on the newest member of the faculty at Hogwarts and help the professor get settled. As she left the girls' dormitory she noted how strangely quiet it was with all of the other students still away on Summer holiday. Ordinarily she wouldn't be here either, but her parents had been called to the north of Scotland on a family matter and although she loved her family dearly, and would have enjoyed seeing the countryside, she detested her three male cousins and had asked if she could return to Hogwarts early. At first her father would have none of it, but her mother knew exactly how she felt, and of course the matter was settled. What a delight it had been to find Ginny Weasley was also here during the summer!
Poor Ginny. Professor Snape had decided she needed further tutoring in her least favorite subject, which was Potions. After announcing that Ginny had to stay for part of the summer, Professor Snape left, saying he would not be back until the Fall term. There wasn't anyone to tutor her, but when Hermione arrived Professor McGonagall asked if she would help teach Ginny.
Hermione was also given permission to do some research on her own, and had a limited pass to the forbidden section of the library. She had decided to do further study on the use of a familiar, especially a cat, for enhancing spells used to guard and protect. She wanted to use Jinks, the old grey tomcat that slept in the Gryffindor common room, but so far, Jinks had managed to avoid her.
She stopped at the seventh portal in the Hall of Harpies and looked at the sleepy head of a small gargoyle cast in brass. It was a doorknocker, and it was attached to a wooden door. Although the door wasn't really closed, she used the brass gargoyle to tap lightly on it. It just seemed the polite thing to do. Inside, she heard something fall to the floor followed by a sudden volley of strange sounding words, and then a loud clap; Hermione held her ears and wondered what had just happened. The face on the brass doorknocker awoke and stuck its tongue out at her and precisely at that moment the door flew open, revealing a very odd sight. Hermione had never met the visiting Professor of Personal Incantations, but there she stood, perhaps half as tall as Hermione, and round as a pumpkin. Hortense Biddlefinger gestured at her to be quiet, and then went about finishing a spell she was working on. When there was another loud clap indicating the spell was at an end, the round little witch bent to pick up the book that had fallen to the floor, and Hermione saw that the title was 'Protective Incantations Against Demons and Imps'. It had a worn cover and the author was A. H. Biddlefinger. Hermione's curiosity made her wonder what the 'A' stood for, but she decided not to ask.
"Yes, yes, yes, what do you want? Can't you see I'm very busy? This office that Master Dumbledore has given me is completely unacceptable, and I must get it in order." Hermione could see that a new broom and an old dustbin were very busy indeed, and she had to duck as a bright green feather duster tickled her ear as it flew about the room. Piles of books were everywhere, and a large chest filled with parchments and other strange items stood in the middle of the floor.
"Actually, Professor Biddlefinger, I came to see if you needed any help. My name is Hermione Granger, and I'm a fourth year Gryffindor." Hermione looked at the books with interest and noted there were a number that she had not yet read. "Perhaps I could put your books on the shelves for you, if you would like my help."
"Hmm, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Maybe I can use your help. You can start with the orange books over there, and put them on that shelf under the window. Don't put them next to any green books, as they tend to argue with each other, although they don't know a thing about each other's topics." The feather duster giggled at this, but continued to fly about the room, stopping only briefly to dust a very large and sleeping black cat. Hermione thought it must be the old witch's familiar. "And, dear, never put two of the purple ones on the same shelf together. They chatter so!"
Hermione took out her wand and began to levitate the books into place, just as Professor Biddlefinger had directed. She was careful to note there was a complete set of Garibaldi's 'Incantations for Animation', which looked well used. She was quite impressed to see there were hand-written notes in the margins of the pages that she could see. The Garibaldi texts were placed next to three saffron-colored tomes and far away from the single copy of Thistlebottom's Warts and Wattles, a Compendium. When she had finished, Hortense Biddlefinger gave her an approving look and said, "I see you have some understanding of how books should be arranged. That's a rare gift, Miss Granger, and I appreciate your help. Perhaps you could assist me during the next school term with my latest manuscript. I haven't decided on a title yet, but you might find the subject interesting. Of course it's on incantations. Professor Flitwick has told me that you have a good scholastic mind, and I believe you could help me with some of the research."
Hermione said, "Thank you, Professor, I would like that very much." Blushing, she put the last of the books on the shelves and lowered her wand. Almost immediately a pea-green book flew off the shelf and landed on the floor. As they both stared, the pages began to turn, faster and faster, until stopping suddenly about half-way in the middle. Hermione recognized it as the same book that had been on the floor when she first entered the room. The book lay at their feet with its pages fluttering slightly as they both watched it for any further action. When nothing more seemed to happen Hermione leaned over it and saw that it was open to a chapter entitled, 'Demons and Imps That Serve Fenris'. Professor Biddlefinger, who had been standing as though frozen, abruptly reached down and snapped it close, but the book wriggled out of her hands and flew across the room straight at the feather duster which squawked and jumped out of the way. The book landed on the desk and again opened itself to the same chapter and page. With that, Professor Hortense Biddlefinger picked up her pointy black hat and put it firmly on top of the book. She turned to Hermione and said breathlessly, "Dear, please do not pay any attention to this. It doesn't concern you, and I do not wish you to talk about it to others. Do I have your word?" Hermione gave the professor a silent nod but continued to stare wide-eyed at the hat. The book seemed to be moving to get out from underneath it. The older woman pulled Hermione towards the door and gently pushed her out, saying, "Please stop by my flat at tea time, dear, and I will reward you for your help." With that, the door clicked shut and the brass doorknocker hanging on it winked at her and resumed its sleepy appearance.
That was the strange first meeting for miss Hermione Granger and Professor Hortense Biddlefinger, but it wasn't the strangest. No, not at all.