Chapter Four: Higher Levels and the Wood-Elves
Hermione walked in a daze, not realising they reached the Transfiguration classroom, or that Harry took her arm, and guided her into the room because she passed it. Harry and Ron spent an agonising five minutes trying to bring the girl back to reality, and it seemed it was not going to happen anytime soon.
While she sat in her daze, Hermione thought of many things, and these included thoughts of a certain blonde Elf who could vanish, which still confused her. How did he do it? Why he was watching her. What drove him to hide within the narrow alcove in the first place? Was it the crowd of students moving through the hallway to their classes? Was it the chatter of said students whose topic of discussion seemed to be on him and Haldir? Or did he not like crowds? It was evident he was not used to crowds of people. In the Great Hall, they looked uncomfortable while they nibbled on the strange delicacies Dumbledore provided.
Where were they before Dumbledore found them? What were they doing? Were they in seclusion? Was this the reason for their awestruck expressions when wandering the castle? Then there was their lack of knowledge on fashion because they dressed in formal olden day clothing. She saw the awestruck looks they expressed when they looked around the Great Hall at dinner the night they arrived, so it was obvious they knew nothing of Hogwarts. They had probably never heard of the Wizarding World, and Hermione felt sorry for them. Coming to Hogwarts must have been a terrifying milestone for them after being in hiding for a long time.
Wood-Elves... were they not legend?
Hermione remembered a book she found, purely by accident, on all species of Elves, including the House-Elves. The book had many interesting things on the Wood-Elves, which included a message from a script saying when the time came the Elves would travel far to the West to the Undying Realm, Valinor. Why then, were Legolas and Haldir still here? Why did they not go with their kin? Were they banished for some reason? Were they criminals in the eyes of their kin? Hermione shuddered at the thought; they seemed too lovely to be criminals.
Over half the book contained chapters of the Wood-Elves with only a small dedicated part on the sweet House-Elves. It was then her mind turned to her revolt to free the enslaved House-Elves, and the idea of recruiting Legolas and Haldir to her cause entered her mind. Being Elves, they would hopefully understand the horrible slavery of House-Elves, which was disgusting and disgraceful. With their help, she would recruit a lot of people. However, these people would most likely be the female population of Hogwarts only joining because they did, and it would give them more reason to be around them.
Maybe recruiting the Elves was not such a good idea.
The last thing she needed was the Gossip trio to join. She would not be able to handle the incessant squeals and drool.
Nope... she would rather die than spend any more time in their vicinity than she already did.
Unfortunately, they were in all her classes except for two which they were either too stupid or too naive to succeed in. Thankfully, they also happened to be Hermione’s two favourite classes, and this thought lightened her spirits at knowing she would not have to deal with them. They were, of course, Ancient Runes and Arithmancy with Transfiguration following as her third favourite class.
Speaking of Transfiguration, Hermione snapped out of her trance to find both Harry and Ron waving their hands in front of her face. She slapped them away irritably.
‘She has returned!’ Ron said dramatically.
‘So, which planet were you on this time?’ Harry asked a little amused, and Ron let out a small chuckle.
Hermione stared at him. ‘Huh?’
Ron and Harry gaped at her. ‘Hey, we already have a stupid person in the trio, and that’s Ron-’ Harry began.
‘Yeah!’ Ron put in.
‘-and that’s not you. You’re the intelligent one, remember?’ Harry told her with a hypothetical question, and Hermione nodded distractedly.
Ron finally caught on. ‘Hey! I am not stupid!’ he shouted, and most of the class turned to see the commotion.
Harry and Hermione looked at each other. ‘Could have fooled me!’ they said in unison and burst into laughter because most of the class chanted the same thing with them.
Ron turned a brilliant shade of red which put his hair to shame and mumbled something incoherent. Hermione strained her ears to hear it, but even then, it was to no avail.
McGonagall made her appearance before them from a door on the back wall of the classroom, hidden by a tapestry showing a beautiful landscape with the sun setting on the horizon. Her entrance instantly shushed the chattering class, and she clasped her hands in front of her. ‘Good morning, class!’ she said to them in her Scottish brogue, and upon receiving a greeting of the same back, she continued, ‘Today we are advancing to a new step having completed our last chapter which was transfiguring a red rose into a dove. Now, the homework I assigned to you will get handed back to you at the end of class, and I must say I am proud of most of you in your success in completing it. There are the select few who did not do so well,’ she finished, her eyes lingering for a moment on Lavender before moving to Ron. She looked back at the class. ‘Today, I will be demonstrating how to transfigure a rabbit into a lamp-’
‘Professor, that’s NEWT level Transfiguration. Did you not say at the start of term our NEWT classes were on hold until next term because we were in dire need of catching up with our last year’s work we never completed on time?’ Hermione asked a little shocked, but she was also excited at the prospect of learning NEWT level spells and doing this level of homework. Of course, her question did not apply to her because she had all her work completed on time and handed in without a hitch. Most of the students in her class were another matter.
‘I did, Miss Granger, but Professor Dumbledore stated there would be no time. Your NEWT classes will be of great importance this year. Now, I must warn you it will not be easy. The level of NEWT’s you will be doing will be what you should learn next year rather than this year,’ she explained, and Hermione put up her hand causing most of the class to roll their eyes.
McGonagall gestured for Hermione to speak, ‘So, we are to learn seventh-year level NEWT’s, Professor? No offence to Professor Dumbledore, and I have no doubt he has made the right decision, but is it a wise one considering some are still needing to catch up on their OWL levels from last year? Would it be right for us to miss out an entire year of education in missing sixth-year NEWT classes especially since we should be preparing for the war?’ Hermione asked curiously, and at her questions, many of the class nodded their heads considering Hermione made valid points.
This also caused panic to rise in the students at the mention of the upcoming war, and they looked at McGonagall with fear in their eyes, anticipating her answer to be a cushioned lie so their minds could be at peace.
None of them, not one, wanted to hear about the war and would all have preferred blissful ignorance.
McGonagall let out a sigh. ‘I thought the same thing when the Headmaster set out our lesson plans. The upcoming war is why he has pushed this class and the others to a higher level. Take Defence Against the Dark Arts for example. If this were a typical year, Legolas and Haldir would have had to leave for teaching you how to use actual weapons because anyone could get hurt if someone is careless. Also, I believe Professor Snape has changed his lesson plan in Potions and has started teaching you how to brew healing potions. All the teachers have stepped up their lessons to higher NEWT’s, but I assure you help will be there if you need it,’ she finished, looking around at all their confused and fearful expressions.
Hermione frowned, her thirst for knowledge not quenched yet, and McGonagall called upon her to speak again, ‘Professor, can you tell us anything about Wood-Elves? Why are there two in Hogwarts?’ Hermione asked, and the rest of the class looked at McGonagall in curiosity.
McGonagall clasped her hands in front of her and sighed. ‘I cannot tell you why Legolas and Haldir are here for I do not know the answer myself yet. I can say they are here to help. As for your other question, all I know is the Wood-Elves passed into legend some millennia ago, and they travelled to a mythical place called the Undying Lands to join with their kin. They are creatures of the Woodland Realm and are highly respected when told of in old fairy tales and legends. Few scrolls and scriptures date back to their times which wizard archaeologists have in their possession. Others are in museums, written in the ancient Elvish script which has yet to be translated. There is one on Elvish Runes in a Museum in London which many an archaeologist has failed to decipher. I don’t know much else, except there was a rumour about Rowena Ravenclaw being of the Elven folk, but as I said it was a rumour. The Elves were well before her, or our time,’ McGonagall finished, and the class erupted into shocked whispers at the newfound rumour.
Hermione shook her head. ‘That is not entirely accurate though. I found a book which stated there were wizards around the time of the Elves. They were known as the Istari and wielded staffs rather than wands. They, too, went to the Undying Lands, or so I read,’ she advised, which had the class erupting once more into hushed whispers of this revelation.
‘There is no proof of that, Miss Granger,’ McGonagall told her causing the class to quieten once more. ‘Now, if you don’t mind, I would like to begin the lesson now,’ she said sternly, and the class nodded, including Hermione whose thirst for knowledge was quenched, for now.
McGonagall took out her wand, and picked up a box, placing it on her desk. She opened the lid, and lifted a cute white rabbit out of it, placing it gently on the oak surface. ‘Now, the wand movement is smooth with a sharp swish to the left, and then tap the rabbit gently on the head while saying the incantation “Laevimiae”. I will demonstrate, and then I will have you all collect a rabbit each and attempt it yourself. I am aware there will likely be no one who will get this on the first try,’ she explained, stepping up behind her desk. She performed the wand movement, saying, ‘Laevimiae,’ and tapped the rabbit on the head. It turned into a beautifully ornamented golden lamp; the base was earthenware with colourful flowers decorating it all the way around. The class gasped in wonder at the beautiful lamp before getting up and collecting their rabbits and returning to their desks to try it themselves.
A soft chatter broke out amongst the students while they attempted to turn their rabbits into lamps with little success. Hermione managed to get a clear lamp on her fifth try with praise and fifteen points to Gryffindor for her efforts. The only other person to get the same effect was Draco who also received points and a little less recognition than Hermione. Harry managed to turn his rabbit into the shape of a lamp; it had ears, and its nose twitched, the whiskers moving furiously causing most of the class to laugh. Even McGonagall cracked a small smile at the strange sight. Ron was not as lucky, but he did succeed in turning his rabbit’s fluffy tail into a cable with a plug at the end. Harry and some others laughed at it, but Hermione was not amused this time.
McGonagall shushed the class, moving back to the front of the room from where she was wandering about the classroom helping and checking the students’ progress. Just as she opened her mouth to speak, a sharp knock at the door interrupted her, and Snape entered, stopping just in the classroom. He looked over at Harry’s failed attempt at his lamp, raising an eyebrow, before looking at McGonagall who was waiting for him to speak. ‘Professor Dumbledore wishes to see the Golden Trio,’ Snape drawled, causing many in the class to break into muffled laughter at his given name for Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
McGonagall raised her eyebrows. ‘“The Golden Trio”, Severus?’ she asked, not bothering to hide her amusement by his use of the title he bestowed upon them.
Snape glowered at his slip-up. ‘Mr Potter, Miss Granger, and Mr Weasley are to go and see the Headmaster immediately,’ he corrected himself.
‘Very well,’ McGonagall answered, turning to the three in question. ‘Pack up your belongings and go with Professor Snape,’ she told them, and they did as she said, making their way over to Snape.
They followed him out into the hall and towards Dumbledore’s office. While they walked, Harry and Ron talked about what Dumbledore could want them for, and Hermione wondered the same thing. They were so busy talking they hadn’t realised they reached the Stone Gargoyle guarding the entrance to Dumbledore’s Office, and Snape was muttering the password. Harry, Ron, and Hermione followed Snape onto the moving staircase, taking them up to large double doors made from oak wood. Snape knocked three times before leading them in.