Of Cunning and Courage

Chapter 2

Paris, Summer 1991

"Our daughter will receive the best education the Wizarding world has to offer, and that's Hogwarts." Lyra Black said stubbornly, her hair in a wild halo around her face, eyes glinting madly.

"But, mon cheri, Beauxbatons Academy is just as good, I went to school there, and look where I am today!" Hector exclaimed, gesturing his hands around, a pale blue letter in hand, seal ripped apart.

"Yes, but Hogwarts is the best, and my Mira will have nothing less!"

Alphard watched his daughter argue against her husband wildly, gripping a letter in her hands so hard it was a wonder that it was still in one piece.

All the while, Alphard and Hermione sat on the opposite side of the breakfast table, watching the argument play on between the two adults as they tossed rebuttals against each other like a tennis match. The two had been going at it for a good part of breakfast, ever since a pair of owls had dropped the letters simultaneously into Hermione's toast. The girl in question was watching her parents wide eyed as they fought for where to send their daughter for school.

"She will be closer to us if she is in Beauxbatons! A floo away to the south of France!" her father insisted.

"Ahem, ahem." Alphard interrupted loudly.

The pair of squabbling adults fell silent almost immediately. Alphard may not have been as domineering as his brother, Orion, but he was still the Black Paterfamilias, and was a figure of authority in the room.

"Yes, father?" his daughter said sweetly, blinking at him with large adoring eyes that Alphard new were filled with intent.

"I believe my grandchild would be a beautiful addition to Beauxbatons Academy of Magic-"

"HA!" Hector boomed smugly at his wife, interrupting him. The Black patriarch glared at his son-in-law, causing him to hang his head in embarrassment.

"But Papa-" his daughter began to say.

"Let me bloody finish." he growled, shutting her up. "But, I believe she will be able to grow more in Hogwarts, it is, after all, my alma mater, and I think she will be able to meet a lot of new people during her stay away from home." he concluded, casting a knowing look at Hector.

Hermione looked at him sharply, not at all oblivious to his insinuation of a betrothal. He glanced at her direction, knowing full well her face would be etched in defiance, and proceeded to ignore the little witch.

"Of course, sir." Hector allowed. "I will write to Hogwarts immediately."

"No, let me darling." his wife said, triumphantly. "It will be my pleasure." with that, she walked off, a lightness in her step at knowing she had won.

"She isn't going to let me hear the end of it, you know." the brown haired man sighed, as he sat back in his seat, taking a sip of coffee.

"I'm aware. It will be amusing to watch." Alphard grinned.

"Isn't anyone going to ask what I want?" Hermione interjected, a dangerous glint in her eye, arms crossed over her chest.

"You will do as your grand father says, mon amour." Hector said, getting up and leaving the room with a nod to the other gentleman in the room.

Hermione gazed up at her grandfather, "Well?"

"My dear, Hogwarts will be good for you. I know it." he pressed.

The girl huffed, "You can't know that. What if my classmates are horrible? What if they're all trolls?"

"They won't be, I know who you'll be schooling with. They will do."

"Don't go around planning things behind my back grand-père. I know what you're trying to do. I refuse to be forced into choosing a husband at eleven. I know it all worked out for mother and grandmother, but I can pick a boy in my own time."

'So much defiance from such a tiny witch.' Alphard thought in amusement.

"Yes, my dear, but I believe I never said anything about an arrangement of the sort." he replied, watching as his granddaughter narrowed her eyes at him in suspicion. "I simply want the best for you is all." he continued

"What are you planning, grand-papa?" his granddaughter asked, with a knowing look.

"Nothing, my dear, nothing at all."

Hermione shot him a disbelieving look, aware that her grandfather was keeping something from her. The question being, "What?"

Paris, August 31, 1991

Hermione Dagworth-Granger sat on her bed, watching Mimi pack her trunk with books and robes, and everything else, deep in thought, with her hair in a plait down her back.

She had tried to pry the truth out of her grandfather the whole summer, wanting to extract the secret he was keeping tightly shut in his mouth, but he had not cracked. In the end giving up altogether, knowing when to admit defeat when faced with it.

She was excited of course, Hogwarts was rumored to be one of the best places to practice magic in the world, she had already gone through Hogwarts: A History more times than she could count, and had already read through most of the assigned text for the year. Her mother had also made her acquainted with the list of pureblood children in her year, along with the professors teaching at the school.

She gripped her wand in her right hand, rolling it over her palm, vinewood, the wand maker had told her, and dragon heartstring, "A powerful wand, for a powerful witch." Ollivander had said. He had cautioned her greatly, regarding its misuse, because dragon heartstring wands tended to be the easiest to turn to Dark Arts, this knowledge filled her with a buzzing feeling that excited her and scared her at the same time.

No one had recognized her in Diagon Alley, of course. She had not been to England since she was an infant, she was not expecting anyone to realize who she was, because most of them, herself included had been trying to get a look at the Chosen One as he walked through the alley, stepping out of the Leaky in the middle of the day. The whispers in the crowd were hard to ignore, and she had snuck a peek at the boy before her mother led her away.

She had not understood when she saw him. He was just a boy, scrawny, and slouching, in clothes that looked as if they were three sizes too big and glasses held together by a piece of muggle adhesive. He was walking next to a hulking beast of a man, a half-giant, her mother had whispered in disdain. Hermione could just barely see the scar peeking out from his unruly hair. Doesn't he know any glamour charms? she had wondered.

She saw him enter Madame Malkins, disappearing inside.

"Lyra? Lyra Black?" A voice called out from behind them.

Both Hermione and her mother turned around slowly. Her mother had a dainty eyebrow raised, lips pursed. She had gone for the strict teacher look today, her hair pulled tightly in a tidy chignon, unlike her daughter's whose dark hair flowed freely down her shoulders, each curl defined to perfection, though not losing its wild manner. Hermione hung back, behind her mother, as was proper.

"Oui?" her mother had replied, forgetting she was not in France.

"Why, Lady Black, it seems as if you have forgotten me." the man said with a smirk. He was pureblood, that much she could tell, from his white blonde hair pulled back with a silk ribbon, to his piercing grey eyes directed at her mother. He was clad in black robes and wielded a walking stick in his right hand, the top a silver snake, it seemed to be one of those wand holders that once were all the rage in Paris.

"That's Lady Dagworth-Granger to you, Lord Malfoy." Hermione's mother replied with just as much contempt as the man's. Malfoy. So this man was her uncle.

"Of course, my apologies, my Lady, it has been too long." Lucius Malfoy bowed his head in respect as Lyra returned it with a small bow of her own.

"Oh, don't bother Lucius, you're acting like I'm my mother. I still remember you trying to charm my skin purple back in fourth year, you know." her mother had said abruptly with a charming smile.

Luicius laughed, returning the smile, which seemed like an odd sight on his severe features "Can you believe it's been so long? My own son is heading to Hogwarts now."

"It's true, I feel as old as Walburga, honestly." Lyra laughed. "Oh, how silly of me. This is my Hermione, she's off to Hogwarts this year too."

The eleven year old stepped forward, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Lord Malfoy." she said with her head bowed.

When she looked up, Lucius was smiling at her, but his eyes were calculating, and looking right through her. "The pleasure is mine, my dear." he replied, then turned to face Lyra once again. "She looks just as beautiful as her I would expect nothing less from the Blacks."

"I'm flattered. That reminds me though, how is my dear cousin? I hope you haven't driven her mad yet." her mother joked.

"No, not yet, thank Merlin. She's currently accompanying Draco to get his robes fit. I had business of my own to see to."

"Oh, my! Hector! We were supposed to meet him ten minutes ago for our Portkey." Lady Dagworth-Granger realized. "I'm sorry to cut this meeting short, Lucius, perhaps we will see each other again at the platform?"

"Yes, of course, Narcissa and I are sending Draco off." Lucius said with a smile. "See you then, my Lady." letting them leave before turning towards the direction of Madame Malkin's

"That Luicius Malfoy, quite the charmer. We used to be very close you know." her mother had told her as they walked.

"Close?" Hermione asked with a raised brow, looking up at her mother with a smirk.

"Not like that you silly girl. We were prefects for Slytherin together, of course we were close." she saud, rolling her eyes at her daughter.

"Of course, Maman." she replied with a giggle.

King's Cross Station, September 1, 1991

Now, she walking alongside her parents, her father leading the way, levitating her trunk behind them as they maneuvered their way into the crowd at Platform 9 3/4. They stopped in front of the scarlet train's doors, her mother pulling her into an embrace, while her father looked down at the two most important ladies in his life. Her grandfather had said his goodbyes at the manor, not wanting to brave the crowd at the station.

"Now, it's Slytherin or nothing, remember, bébé. Don't go cavorting with anyone who does not deserve you, and do your best in your classes. Your father expects to see you at the top, darling, don't forget that." Lyra stressed for the nth time since leaving Paris, the worry of being separated from her only child making her nervous.

"Yes, Maman, I will make you and Papa proud, don't you worry. I'm a Dagworth-Granger, remember? A Black too. I'm nothing but the best." she said with a twinkle in her eyes as she hugged her mother, wanting to stay in her embrace forever.

"Too right, cheri. Now off you go, we don't want the train leaving you do we?" her father had said, in finality, breaking the two apart.

"Goodbye, Papa, Goodbye, Maman, see you at Christmas. Give grandfather my love." she said, before disappearing into the train.

Her trunk was heavy, heavier than an eleven year old girl could possibly carry, she tried pulling, it did not move, she tried pushing, nothing. The train had already began to move, and she was miserably out of her element. She swore in French, kicking at the thing, knowing that if her mother had heard her, she would have been sent into her room to think about what a proper lady should have said.

"Do you need help?" came from behind her.

"Oui, still vous plait." she said, before realizing she had spoken in French. "I mean, yes, please, if it isn't too much trouble." she turned around to face, not one but two tall red heads looming over her.

'Weasley. Pureblood.' she took note of the two boys. Her mother had not said very kind words about their family, but Hermione wanted to decide for herself.

Red hair, green eyes, and spattering of freckles across the nose.

"Well, well, mademoiselle. Since you asked twice…" they took her trunk with ease, entering a carriage and stowing it.

"Fred and George Weasley, at your service." the two bowed, eliciting a giggle from the girl.

"Hermione Dagworth-Granger, thank you very much." she said, deciding the two were alright.

"Well, if that's all Miss Dagworth-Granger," Fred said, "We'll leave you to it." George finished.

She nodded her head at them and took a seat, taking a book out of her trunk, and made herself comfortable. Though before she could begin reading, she was interrupted by a dark haired boy with a face that could only be described as pudgy.

"Excuse me, have you seen a toad anywhere?" the boy said with a stutter in his voice.

Hermione raised a brow at the boy, who flushed under her gaze. "Have you lost your familiar?"

"Yeah, Trevor, he always wanders off." the boy said sheepishly. Hermione smiled, a small wave of pity taking over, "I'll help you find him then. I'm Hermione, by the way."

"Will you really? Wow, thanks! I'm Neville. Neville Longbottom." he said with a brilliant grin.

'Longbottom. Pureblood.' she thought.

"Nice to meet you Neville. Now let's go find your toad."

"Have you boys seen a toad anywhere?" she said abruptly, throwing the doors of the carriage open.

Two boys were huddled together, a pile of sweets in between them, the red headed boy had his wand raised and a rat in his other hand.

'Another Weasley? How many of them are there?'

Hermione looked at the other boy, only then realizing who he was.

'Harry Potter.' he was still in his ratty clothes, and his glasses had not been repaired since the last time she'd seen him.

She faced the Weasley again, "Are you going to do magic? Show us then!" she said, genuinely enthusiastic.

The redhead shrugged, chanting "Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow!"

Nothing happened. The rat struggled a little in the boy's grip. Hermione smothered the initial reaction to laugh.

"Were you trying to change his coloring?" she asked, the boy nodded "I have a spell for that can I have a go?"

"Alright, but be careful, don't hurt Scabbers." he said.

She smiled, and took out her wand with a flourish, and tapped the rat on the head, while saying "Colovaria."

Almost immediately, the rat began to shift, the dirty grey of his fur starting to shift into a bright sunshine yellow. Hermione grinned proudly, only to find Weasley staring at her with narrowed eyes.

"Blimey, where'd you learn that?" it was the first thing Harry Potter had said to her, his voice laced in awe.

"I was trained by a tutor growing up, but only in theory. I've only started practicing since I got my wand." she smiled. "I'm Hermione Dagworth-Granger."

"Harry Potter." the boys said, extending his hand, Hermione blushed, ladies do not shake hands. She took it anyways, albeit uncomfortably. "This is Ron Weasley." he gestured to the boy next to him. Hermione found the redhead scowling at her, nothing at all like his brothers.

Her smile faltered.

"You look like a Black." was all he said.

She nodded proudly. "My mother is Lyra Black."

She was met with silence. She glared at Weasley, who had started to scowl at her again.

"Well," Harry cleared his throat, "We haven't seen a toad, but we'll be sure to tell you if we do."

Hermione smiled tightly at him and muttered a small thank you, leaving the carriage. But before she could close the doors, she heard Weasley speak, "She's a bad sort, mate. Her family's all Dark Wizards, don't want to get caught up in their claws."

She turned abruptly, eyes burning in anger, slamming the doors with a loud bang.

When she'd calmed down a bit, she stopped in front of the next carriage, taking a deep breath. "Hello, have you seen a toad? A boy's lost his familiar." she said sweetly to the occupants of the carriage.

As soon as she'd seen them she had recognized each and everyone of them.


Parkinson, Greengrass, Nott. Zabini. Goyle. Crabbe. Malfoy.

The air was practically fogged up with privilege and pedigree. Now this, she could deal with. The group stared back at her, appraising her, taking in her robes that were certainly not ready made, and the solid silver buckles on her shoes. She could practically see them trying to give her a name, just like she had all named them.

For the second time that day, she raised her brow, this time, in challenge. "I asked you a question." she said, voice full of contempt and dripping in obviously fake sweetness.

"Who's asking?" the dark hair girl said, Parkinson, she had a flower name, Posie, maybe? Her lips were curled in a snarl, her eyes narrowed to slits, not exactly a good look. 'Pity,' Hermione thought, 'she would have been pretty had she not been a little pug faced.'

"I'd have thought you'd figured it out." she replied, her voice calm and condescending. The other girl fair haired girl next to her, Greengrass, was a bit more collected, she had a small smile on her lips but her blue eyes gave away that she was thinking, trying hard to connect the dots.

"You look like a Black." this came from Blaise Zabini, who was smirking at her. Hermione tried to decide if he was flirting or if that was just his face. His mother had been, after all, one of the most beautiful women in England.

She shrugged in response, reciprocating the boy's smirk, the boy smiled then, a real one, telling her he was amused. She could see Theodore Not attempting to piece together a picture and failing, the two oafs next to him didn't even appear to be trying.

She turned to Draco Malfoy, who had his arms crossed in front of him, a knowing smirk on his lips.

"Bonjour, cousine"

Hermione smiled, "Vous êtes injuste. Bien sûr, vous me connaissez." That's unfair. Of course you know who I am.

"Never met you have I?" he said, with a brow raised, mirroring her own.

Theodore had kept up quite well, as had Daphne, pleasing Hermione that they had at least adequate knolwedge of French.

"Oi, you planning to tell us who she is, then?" Zabini said, glaring at the blonde boy.

"Everyone, my cousin, Hermione Dagworth-Granger." Draco grinned. "Hermione, this is Pansy, Daphne, Theodore, Blaise, Greg, and Vince."

Hermione smiled, "Hello."

"Greg, Vince, could you find the trolley then? Get us a couple of chocolate frogs." the boy ordered, as if speaking to a house elf. Hermione expected the two to tell him to shove off, instead they stood, and without question, left to find the trolley, leaving a considerable amount of space to sit. So Draco had already assumed his place, where did that leave her?

"Would you like to sit down Hermione?" Daphne asked, gesturing to the space next to her where Gregory had just vacated, next to Theodore Nott.

"Thank you." she said, sitting down. She looked at the girl next to her, it was only right to say that she was beautiful, with fair hair and blue eyes that reminded her of her grand-mere, if she was this charming at eleven, one could expect that, in a few years, she would be the next Elora Zabini.

"Why haven't we heard of you before?" Pansy asked, still irked.

"I live in France, I haven't been to London since i was very young. My grandfather Alphard decided to relocate right after I was born." she said simply, knowing that they would know what she meant. Her family had not been a part of the war.

"Alphard Black?" Zabini asked, intrigue written on his face.

"Yes, that's how Draco and I are cousins." she said, letting them come to terms with her declaration. It was common knowledge that Alphard Black had inherited the Black family fortune, along with all the rights as head if house, and that being said made her heiress to the largest vault in Gringotts in the history of the Wizarding world.

Draco just shook his head at them "My father saw you some days ago, it's a shame we didn't get to meet."

"Quite. It's a pity you had to wait to be able to be in my presence." she shot back immediately, seeing his eyes widen marginally, almost imperceivable. Hermione almost smiled. It seems Narcissa Black had taught her son just as well as her mother had taught her, leaving no room for error.

Blaise barked out a laugh, "Oh, I like you." he said firmly, a lazy grin sinking into his face. Hermione was reminded of the stories her grandfather told her of her Uncle Sirius when she was a child, easy going, charming, loud, and acted as if the world owed him something, this seemed fit her new classmate to a tee.

"Isn't your father Hector Dagworth-Granger of the Most Extraordinary Society of Potioneers?" Theodore had spoken for the first time since she had arrived, and from his question, she knew he was well read.

"Yes, he is. Do you know of him?" she asked, seeing that the boy brightened considerably when she had confirmed his wondering. The conversation around them filtered back into talk about the sorting, as they talked about Jeremiah Higgs, the most recent addition to her father's society, who had new theories about a super-potion derived from Wolfsbane that could be a possible cure for lycanthropy.

"Have any of you met Potter yet?" Pansy Parkinson asked, interrupting the pair's conversation. Hermione tensed, which of course the others saw almost immediately. She sighed, forced to explain under five pairs of curious eyes.

"I met them earlier, right before I met you. He was with another boy, the younger Weasley." she recounted, her voice taking on a tone of subtly masked disdain, the others nodded, aware of the blood traitor in their year. "Weasley was trying to change his rat's color with the most ridiculous spell I've ever heard. Of course, I changed it with a simple Color Charm. Potter seemed alright though, more muggle than wizard, honestly, but the Weasley boy was just awful, started talking about Blacks not being the 'right sort' of wizard." she huffed again, still annoyed with the stupid boy.

"Weasley's already tainted him then. Too bad, Draco, we know your father wanted you to get to know him." Zabini said, looking at the blonde boy who seemed to be deep in thought.

"I'll try talking to him before the sorting, maybe the Weasel hasn't poisoned him too much." he said, obviously thinking of how to get Potter on his side.

"Hermione, sit with us!" Daphne called out as the curly haired girl tried to find an empty boat. She spotted the girl calling out to her and joined them, noticing that a black haired girl sat across from her, looking like she was a bit too big to be a first year. "Hermione this is Millie Bulstrode." the blonde witch said, as Hermione nodded her hello. The Bulstrodes were a good enough family, though not very well known and not the most pristine according to lineage, but Hermione could look that over, of course.

The rest of the boat ride was spent in silent anticipation, each of them worrying about the sorting, though none of them were doubting where they wanted to be placed. Millie seemed to be worrying the most out of all of them, not looking into their eyes, instead, just focusing on her shoes. As soon as their feet were back on solid ground, the large girl had shuffled off, muttering her goodbye.

Hermione followed the crowd of first years into the caste, falling into step with a familiar brown haired boy, "Hey Neville, did you find Trevor? I'm sorry I couldn't find him for you." she said truthfully, regretting that she had become side tracked so easily.

"It's nothing, Hagrid found him when we got off the train at the station." he said, holding up the toad, which let out a single croak in response.

"That's nice." she said, seeing that the doors were approaching, "Well, good luck with the sorting. I better go up front so I can hear what the Professor's saying."

She walked quickly to the front of the line, appearing right as Draco sauntered up to Harry Potter, smirk in place. Hermione winced, he wasn't making this any easier for himself. She couldn't hear what they were saying, but Potter's face looked as if he had just stepped on something unpleasant, Ron was wearing his scowl again.

Hermione hastily tried to ease the tension between the three boys, walking up to Draco setting a hand on his shoulder, warning him to back down, a bright smile on her face, "Hi, Harry!" she had expected at least a greeting in return from the boy, not the cold look that passed from him to the Weasel, as the glared pointedly at her hand on Draco's shoulder, as if it were a severed limb. She quickly withdrew it from where it was, keeping the smile plastered on her face "See you inside, then."

She steered Draco away from the situation, noticing that a small circle had formed around the group, and guided him back to their small group.

"Calm down, cousin. A half blood and a blood traitor aren't worth your anger." she soothed.

He breathed out, "You're right." just as a witch in professor's robes strode out to meet them, ushering them in with a sweeping gesture, her robes billowing in the air. This was Professor McGonagall, Daphne whispered, the head of Gryffindor house, and Deputy Headmistress. The witch led the group of first years into the Great Hall, where they were met with a brilliant sky above them. They passed the house tables, heading straight for the middle of the hall, where on a stool sat the Sorting Hat, looking worn and old. As they walked by Gryffindor table, she saw the Weasley twins from earlier and sent a small smile they way, even if their brother was a prat, she was not an ungrateful person.

Professor McGonagall started the Sorting, the first of the group was placed in Hufflepuff House, a girl named Abott, who scurried of quickly, blushing under the attention. Soon, the professor was calling Vince, who was sorted into Slytherin, as expected.

"DAGWORTH-GRANGER, HERMIONE MIRA BLACK" Professor McGonagall called, her name longer than anyone else on the list. The small girl left the group, head held high, feeling a hundred eyes on her as she placed the hat on her head.

"Hello Miss Dagworth-Granger, quite a long name you have there." The hat croaked out.

"The longer the name the purer the blood." she whispered under her breath, a phrase her mother used to tell her when she was a child, complaining about writing her name.

"Very Slytherin of you, Miss." Hermione's heart swelled, beating rapidly against her chest. "A good amount of ambition in you, too, as well as cunning, loyalty like no other, and power, so much for such a small witch, but you have the heart of a lion in you…

Hermione almost laughed aloud. The hat, sensing her disbelief, pressed on… "But Gryffindor would serve you well, I sense bravery within you, a fair amount of determination too…"

"You better not, or else you might find yourself at the bottom of the lake." she growled silently.

"Ho,ho! Well then, if it's Slytherin you wish, so shall it be. SLYTHERIN!"

Hermione hopped off the stool with a knowing smile, ignoring the scowl she received from Weasley, and the smirk Draco threw her way. Making her way to the Slytherin table, she was greeted by the upperclassmen, as she made her way towards the very end, and sat herself across Vincent.

Tracey Davis joined them immediately after her, she was a brunette too, but her eyes were a bright green, and her smile too open to be a pureblood. Hermione acknowledged her with a polite hello, and continued watching the sorting. Goyle came after, sitting down heavily next to Crabbe, then Daphne, who took the seat next to her, Draco was the next Slytherin to be sorted, the hat had barely even touched his head before shouting out "SLYTHERIN". Theodore Nott came right after, sitting next to Draco, then came Pansy, who, seeing that Theodore had taken her preferred seat, grumpily sat next to Daphne. The last of all students to be sorted was Blaise, who sauntered up to the hat, fixing his hair before setting it on top of his head. When the hat had shouted out Slytherin, the boy quickly took it off, running a hand through his hair again, smiling at the room obnoxiously, before making his way towards the Slytherin table.

The group noted with narrowed eyes, that Potter and Weasley had both been sent to Gryffindor, what had Hermione worried though, was the fact that the two boys now sat across Neville Longbottom, whispering amongst themselves, Neville glanced at the Slytherin table, catching Hermione looking at him curiously, and tensed, turning abruptly. Hermione sighed, well, there goes inter-house unity.