At twilight on August the 25th 1999, one week before classes were to begin, Hermione Granger Apparated into Hogsmeade, a wand box clutched under her arm.
Headmistress McGonagall was waiting for her outside the Three Broomsticks. The two women greeted each other warmly, and then set off towards the castle. Or rather, towards the grounds outside the castle.
They chatted amiably as they strolled towards the groundskeeper’s hut. Hagrid, sitting outside and darning a pair of enormous socks, looked up as they approached.
“Good evenin’ Headmistress, Hermione,” he said with some gruff surprise.
“Good evening, Hagrid,” replied McGonagall. “May we go inside? I believe Hermione has a proposition to discuss with you.”
If you had stood outside the hut as the evening darkened and the stars rose into the sky, you’d have heard the rumblings of an argument coming from inside the hut. You’d have heard Hagrid’s gruff refusals, Hermione’s calm (and then not so calm) rebuttals, and the very occasional interjection of the Headmistress.
Hermione did not emerge until the moon had fully risen and darkness enveloped the grounds. But in the light of the nearly full moon, you could see a smile on her face.
The Shrieking Shack was no longer widely believed to be haunted, now that the story of Remus Lupin was fully known. Still, the residents of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts avoided it out of a mixture of respect and residual fear.
This suited Hermione perfectly. The interior of the Shack was now stacked with books and bottles of potion ingredients. A cauldron sat in the corner, a telescope pointed out a cracked window, and cushions lined one wall. A table was covered in parchment, broken quills, ink pots and stains. Once a week, Hermione would apparate into the Shack and go over her notes from the previous session while she awaited her student’s arrival.
Sometimes he was late without explanation. Sometimes he would bring a wounded bowtruckle he wasn’t comfortable leaving on its own. Sometimes Fang would follow him and sit in the corner whining while his master sweated and cursed over a cauldron. Hermione was calm but firm, making adjustments as needed and letting Hagrid’s frustrated words roll off her back like water droplets.
The Hogsmeade residents may have turned a blind eye to the goings-on in the Shrieking Shack, but that didn’t mean they weren’t relieved as time went on and there were fewer and fewer roars of anger echoing through the village.
The OWL testers had been warned in advance that they would have an unusual student that year. That didn’t mean they weren’t taken aback when Rubeus Hagrid appeared on their testing scrolls. They all knew of him of course, knew the role he played in the Second War and of the false accusations leveled against him.
They were worried they would have to be kind.
They needn’t have. No one could have Hermione Granger teach them personally for a year and not improve in all aspects. His potions may not have been textbook perfection, he may not have fully transfigured his toad, but Hagrid had clearly worked hard to master his long dormant abilities.
Rubeus Hagrid may not have followed the traditional path to wisdom. But he had a new wand, the (sometimes grudging) respect of his peers, classes to teach and 6 OWLs.
Including the highest score ever recorded on Care of Magical Creatures.
(written and submitted by ppyajunebug; please excuse me, because I have something in my eye. Oh yes, it is my joyful tears. ppyajunebug has a way of bringing those out of me, you see. Their submissions tackle some of the saddest moments in canon, turning them around and making something beautiful out of them.)