Spoiler warning! This article contains spoilers from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Hermione arrived at Hogwarts ready to absorb as much magical learning as possible – and absorb it she definitely did. As a precocious 11-year-old this desire to know it all made her, well, a bit of a know-it-all, but it paid off by the time she (prematurely) finished school and essentially bought the entire Hogwarts library along on a hunt for Horcruxes.
The correct pronunciation of Wingardium Leviosa, receiving 112% in her Charms exam, taking so many subjects she needed a Time Turner to get to them all, being the only one to actually do homework (and thus realise Lupin was a werewolf, and Rita Skeeter an unregistered Animagus)… seriously: where would her friends be if Hermione hadn’t been paying attention in class?
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire we got a glimpse of activist Hermione, founder of the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare (or SPEW, as it was universally known.) For someone so apparently keen on sticking to the rules, Hermione was never afraid to challenge the status quo. She also didn’t mind sticking her neck on the line for others and, if you ask us, for a Muggle-born to be the only student actively raising awareness of House Elves’ treatment was pretty impressive.
Hermione loved a book but she also knew when to think on her feet, and her ability to problem-solve saved Harry and Ron from many a tricky situation.
She displayed this talent very early on, using logic to help Harry advance through the enchantments surrounding the Philosopher’s Stone. Over the years, Hermione also applied her quick-thinking brain to many challenges – working out the monster in the Chamber of Secrets was a Basilisk; identifying Rita Skeeter’s magical method of bugging Hogwarts; disfiguring Harry when he was caught by Snatchers during the Horcrux hunt – and looking back at that first moment, it’s obvious just how important Hermione’s ability to stay calm and think rationally was. After all, it was impressive enough to earn her rare praise from Dumbledore and fifty points for Gryffindor.
Not all Hermione’s school achievements were on the record, but having the knowledge (and nerve) to secretly brew Polyjuice Potion during her second year surely deserves recognition. OK, she was probably breaking a hundred school rules and, yes, she turned herself into a cat in the process, but it was a mark of how keen to solve the mystery of the Chamber of Secrets Hermione was that she even took such risks. Madam Pomfrey might have turned a blind eye to Hermione’s post-Polyjuice-predicament, but we see it as early proof of her utter determination.
While Ron was coaxing a ghoul to wear pyjamas and Harry was brooding over Dumbledore’s complete lack of Horcrux-hunting guidance, Hermione was enchanting handbags, selecting books, memorising tent-protection spells, smuggling Mad-Eye Moody’s entire stock of Polyjuice Potion into the Weasley household – oh, and modifying her parents’ memories so they’d forget she existed. You know, just one or two actual, practical preparations to make the whole Horcrux hunting thing that much easier. Again: where would Harry be without her? We’re impressed enough by that enchanted handbag spell, let alone anything else.
Another instance where Hermione’s organisational skills combined with her formidable magical talents and clear-sighted thinking was the creation of what would become Dumbledore’s Army.
Harry might have been the de-facto leader of the DA, but it was Hermione’s idea and – once again – her magical expertise that kept them secure. Her Protean-Charmed Galleons were so impressive they led Ravenclaw Terry Boot to ask why she wasn’t in his house, and the charm she put on the parchment signed by DA members was enough to stop sneaky Marietta Edgecombe from giving any more than the most basic information.
Hermione’s brains may have caused the Sorting Hat a serious Ravenclaw-vs-Gryffindor dilemma, but her bravery won out. Because Hermione was always brave. From supporting Harry in his attempts to reach the Philosopher’s Stone to slapping Malfoy across the face to joining Harry in the Department of Mysteries, there were many, many times Hermione showed true Gryffindor nerve.
But perhaps the most awe-inspiring was when she refused to give in to Bellatrix Lestrange, even under torture from the Cruciatus Curse. Being able to stick to her story whilst enduring incredible pain showed impressive stamina and fortitude, and it’s a real contender for the top spot…
… except for this: after, you know, helping save the entire Wizarding World, nobody would blame Hermione – or, indeed, Harry – if she’d settled down to a quiet life. Nobody, that is, except Hermione. Because what else could the “cleverest witch of her age” end up as, but Minister of Magic? If Cursed Child shows us anything, it’s that being friends with Harry Potter means you’ll probably never have a quiet life – but then, you could say the same about Hermione Granger. She is definitely one impressive witch.