Hermione stormed down the stone corridor after the feast was over and all the children had been sent to their prospective common rooms.
She stopped abruptly in front of a stone phoenix and barked: “Sugar Quill.” She continued stomping up the stairs and banged on Dumbledore’s door.
“Enter,” said Dumbledore, slightly muffled from the other side of the door.
She entered and saw Professor Snape, Professor McGonagall, Professor Sprout, and Professor Flitwick sitting in front of his desk. How could she have not thought the heads of house would be convening after the sorting?
“I’m terribly sorry,” said Hermione, calming herself a bit. “I’ll come back later.”
“We’re very nearly done,” said Dumbledore. “Just a few class changes to accommodate all the First Years.”
“Wonderful group we’ve got this year,” squeaked Flitwick happily. Hermione smiled weakly at him.
“I’ll be with you in a moment, Hermione,” Dumbledore said over the top of his gold wire-rimmed spectacles.
Hermione skimmed some of the titles without really reading them on one of Dumbledore’s bookshelves. She finally chose a book with a blue cover and sat in an armchair off to the side. She opened it and turned a page from time to time to give the appearance of reading. The words had no meaning for her.
She tried to keep from glancing up frequently in annoyance. The meeting seemed to go on for hours and the clock on the wall seemed to have slowed to a pace a snail could creep laps around.
Finally, the class schedules were settled and the Heads of House filed out. Hermione rose and sat in a chair in front of Dumbledore’s desk, her book still in her hand. She waited patiently as Dumbledore finished jotting down notes and he looked up to smile at her.
“I had no idea you were interested in plumbing,” Dumbledore remarked.
Hermione looked down and saw the title of her book: Easy Bathroom Improvements. It was a Muggle publisher. Good Lord, she was flustered.
“Just something new,” she said weakly.
Suddenly, she had no idea what she was going to say. She had no proof, just intuition. What if it was just a coincidence?
“Would you mind if I borrowed your pensive?” Hermione said. “I would like you to see something.”
“Of course,” said Dumbledore, mildly surprised. He rose and went to a wooden cupboard. There were several pensives of different size inside. He selected one the size of a cereal bowl and handed it to Hermione. “Is this large enough?”
“Quite,” said Hermione wryly. In her opinion a swimming pool wasn’t large enough for memories of this magnitude.
She pulled a few wispy thoughts from her head and placed them in the bowl. She stirred them liberally and handed the bowl to Dumbledore.
“Hermione, if this is personal-,” Dumbledore began.
“Albus,” said Hermione, her chin set stubbornly. “I have known you for twenty years. Look in the damn pensive.”
He raised his eyebrows slightly and leaned over into the small bowl, his silver hair spilling over his desk. If the situation had not had Hermione in such a state she would laughed at the sight before her. He looked like Crookshanks trying to get the last few drops of milk out of a bowl.
After a few minutes, in which Hermione replaced the book on the shelf to have something to do, Dumbledore raised his head. He steepled his fingers in front of his mouth and looked at her.
“Well,” he said. “That was most interesting.”
“Thought it might be,” said Hermione in a sarcastic tone that didn’t suit her.
“What are you suggesting I do?” Dumbledore asked.
“I don’t know,” said Hermione. “Can we find out what happened?”
“Hermione,” said Dumbledore. “There is more than one Malfoy family in the whole of England.”
“Wizarding families?” Hermione challenged.
“Malfoy is a French name,” Dumbledore said patiently. “Perhaps this is the first of the line to come through Hogwarts. Perhaps the family normally employs private tutors.”
Hermione let her breath out, deflated and discouraged.
“You’re right, Professor,” Hermione said.
“We did discuss the probability of this happening,” said Dumbledore, reaching out a hand and lifting the lid on a small covered glass dish full of lemon drops. Hermione took one and sucked on it. It clacked loudly on her teeth in the large quiet office.
“We did,” said Hermione. “But I don’t remember this particular probability coming up.”
“Life often is unpredictable,” Dumbledore chuckled.
“Quite,” said Hermione, sighing. “I’m sorry for wasting your time.”
She retrieved the pensive and replaced her memories.
“It was a reasonable concern,” said Dumbledore, smiling slightly. “Perfectly understandable.”
“Thank you,” said Hermione weakly as she rose to leave his office.