While Harry may have been the one with his name on the book series, it was actually the enduring strength, talent and smarts of Hermione that saved the day on oh-so-many occasions.
Where do we begin? Solving the mysteries of the Chamber of Secrets while Petrified? Working into the early hours of the morning trying to help Harry figure out how to defeat a giant dragon? Withstanding torture from Bellatrix Lestrange, and endless prejudice for being Muggle-born? Modifying her parents’ memories so they forgot who she was, in order to protect them? Being a tower of strength for Harry when Ron got the jitters during their Horcrux camping trip, even though she was exhausted herself? In every book, Hermione goes above and beyond – but the chapter we have picked to celebrate Hermione’s prowess happened rather early on, and involves a Hippogriff, a Patronus and a Time-Turner.
In Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione spent the vast majority of her third year hidden behind a fort of books. Yep, give Hermione the choice to take on extra lessons and she will take on all of them. While it was compulsory for third-year Hogwarts students to take on some extra lessons, Hermione somehow filled her timetable beyond the point of logic, much to Ron’s continued bewilderment.
‘But look,’ said Ron, laughing, ‘see this morning? Nine o’clock, Divination. And underneath, nine o’clock, Muggle Studies. And –’ Ron leant closer to the timetable, disbelieving, ‘look – underneath that, Arithmancy, nine o’clock. I mean, I know you’re good, Hermione, but no one’s that good. How’re you supposed to be in three classes at once?’
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Towards the end of Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione revealed to Harry just how she managed to go to three classes at once. Yes, Ron, Hermione was that good; so good that Professor McGonagall had persuaded the Ministry of Magic to give her a Time-Turner.
It was the combination of Hermione’s endless cleverness and this Time-Turner that ended up saving two lives in Prisoner of Azkaban. In fact, if Hermione hadn’t been so enthusiastic about learning everything, she would have never had a Time-Turner in the first place. This proved incredibly useful when Albus Dumbledore furtively suggested taking Harry back a few hours in time after a particularly dreadful day of revelations – the execution of Buckbeak, the reveal of Scabbers being Peter Pettigrew, and Sirius Black not being a murderer but still being caught by Dementors. Thankfully, Harry and Hermione got the chance to put things right.
Once Harry had got over the immense confusion of the Time-Turner experience, Hermione used intensely fast thinking to figure out how to save both Sirius and Buckbeak, all the while not bumping into her past self, and getting back to the hospital wing without anyone noticing. Only Hermione, at this point only in her third year, could have managed such a feat.
Why it matters
‘OK, side with Ron, I knew you would!’ she said shrilly. ‘First the Firebolt, now Scabbers, everything’s my fault, isn’t it! Just leave me alone, Harry, I’ve got a lot of work to do!’
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Grasping the intricacies of time travel aside, let’s not forget that Hermione had a miserable time in her third year. After adopting lovely Crookshanks (who turned out to be just as smart as Hermione, actually), Hermione was repeatedly chastised by Ron for her cat’s interest in Scabbers, leading to many fall-outs and many tears.
When Harry got a mysterious Firebolt sent to him, Hermione was the only one to suggest that it might have been given to him by Sirius Black. It made sense: at this point in the story, the Azkaban convict was known to be after him.
However, all Harry and Ron were worried about was the broom being taken away from Harry by Professor McGonagall while it was checked for curses. As it turned out, Hermione wasn’t at all wrong about Sirius’s involvement. If you ask us, Harry and Ron should have made Hermione a massive ‘Sorry’ cake at the very least.
On top of all that, Hermione’s ambitions led her to be uncomfortably overwhelmed with work, needing actual time travel to make ends meet. This workload and the tension with Ron led to her being mostly isolated all year. In fact, Hermione got so wound up in Prisoner of Azkaban she even ended up punching Malfoy – another chapter that made us fall head over heels in love with her, obviously.
Hermione and Harry’s Time-Turner adventure was the perfect moment that summed up how Hermione applied her studies and logic to real life. Remember, she figured out Lupin was a werewolf well before anyone else this year too, on top of all the stress, arguments and school work.
Hermione worked impossibly hard, and then applied that Hogwarts knowledge to situations that could save lives. Without Hermione, Harry would have lost Sirius before he even properly got to know him, and Buckbeak would’ve never taken flight again.
And this was all before the days of Voldemort’s ascent, when Hermione achieved near-impossible things. However, before all that, this shining moment in Prisoner of Azkaban foreshadowed Hermione’s greatness to come: as a scholar, a lifesaver, and a damn good friend.
Oh, and for good measure, she passed all her third-year exams too.