OK, so here is a sequence of facts:

  • It's prohibited to use magic in Muggle areas.

  • Before boarding Hogwarts Express, Hermione lived in a Muggle area.

  • (this one I'm less sure about) Hermione and her parents must have been told, upon getting a wand, about restrictions on use of magic. Or she would have read about it in Hogwarts: A History or some other book.

  • If so, this being Hermione, she would never have violated the rules.

  • Yet, Hermione told Ron in the beginning of PS, on the train, that she already successfully tried out some spells after witnessing him trying to turn the rat yellow. This was right after they boarded Hogwarts Express, so she must have done it before.

So, how could she have possibly practiced any magic?

I'd strongly prefer canon or JKR based answer if available.

  • 1
    Perhaps she practiced a little in Diagon Alley. Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 16:04
  • 8
    Hogwarts express left at 11. We are told the food cart arrived around 12:30. After this arrives Neville, after this Ron tries the spell and Hermione rocks up. So not, as you said, right after they boarded. This leads me to believe she may have tried some spells on the train, having memorized the incantations at home when she read the books.
    – Ka0s
    Commented Dec 27, 2014 at 4:56
  • @Ka0s - If you have canon evidence for the timeline, worth making an answer, IMHO Commented Dec 27, 2014 at 5:16
  • 1
    Here's my theory: Hermione started practicing spells at home in her room, then got the owl warning her it was illegal and if she persisted she could be expelled from Hogwarts, so she promptly stopped. That could also be why she was so concerned with getting expelled while doing things with Ron and Harry during their first years, because she'd already been warned once about it and felt like she was on thin ice
    – childcat15
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 4:24
  • 1
    I have thought of it as well. Kids must do accidental magic all the time, if they are to enforce the rule strictly, many kids will be at fault. Harry Potter was not punished for accidental magic outside school. He was only harassed when the ministry was uncomfortable for his accounts following the triwizard tournament. Commented May 25, 2018 at 20:34

8 Answers 8


Based on the following quotes I suggest Hermione had time to practice these spells on the train.

"I just take the train from platform nine and three-quarters at eleven o'clock." (PS chapter 6 e-Book page 65)


Around half past twelve there was a great clattering outside in the corridor and a smiling, dimpled woman slid back their door and said "Anything off the cart, dears?" (PS chapter 6 e-Book page 73)

After the chocolate frogs, many as Harry had a few cards, Neville arrives in the compartment

There was a knock on the door of their compartment and the round-faced boy Harry had passed on platform nine and three-quarters came in. (PS chapter 6 e-Book page 74)


He had just raised his wand when the compartment door slid open again. The toadless boy was back, but this time he had a girl with him. (PS chapter 6 e-Book page 76)

The spell fails, she mentions her simple spells all worked for her etc. She also says

"You two had better change, you know, I expect we'll be there soon." (PS chapter 6 e-Book page 77)

before leaving their compartment. Regardless of right or not this means a considerable amount should have passed.

This leads me to believe she may have tried some spells on the train, having memorized the incantations at home when she learned the books off by heart.


I believe the rule against using magic outside school before 17 starts when you enter school.

There are many examples throughout the books where juveniles use magic accidentally (or on purpose) with no outside consequences: http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Underage_magic

In that article it states:

Hermione Granger mentioned having successfully cast "a few simple spells" upon learning that she was a witch and before her first year at Hogwarts, but apparently she was not given a warning. Of course, this was probably because underage magic warnings only apply to Hogwarts students.

  • 3
    That's before they have the wand, no? Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 15:26
  • @DVK read the part titled Underage Magic with a Wand
    – Naftali
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 15:27
  • 1
    That's beside the point. The question was about how you can avoid consequences through loopholes. It was that the thing is officially forbidden and as such Hermione (quite unlike Lily Evans) would not have done something even remotely against the rules. Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 15:37
  • As it says "` Of course, this was probably because underage magic warnings only apply to Hogwarts students.`" and Hermione knew that.
    – Naftali
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 15:38
  • 7
    You are quoting Wikia, which is neither canon nor JKR, merely a guess by someone (heck, even clearly worded as a gues). My question explicitly asks canon or JKR based answer. Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 18:12

Hermione did magic and was not put into Azkaban, because she was not responsible for herself and probably people her age who aren't registered to schools or magical parents aren't considered accountable until taught. And she was technically in the presence of older wizards that could handle a situation if she caused to much of a disruption(if she did it on the train). People can obviously detect who does underage magic, but they can also detect its threat level. She was also not a threat. They probably also decide who they want to arrest or whatever it is they do with them. Also, if she did it at home or at Diagon Alley they either:

  1. Decided she wasn't a threat and didn't particularly care. I mean what could she do, really?

  2. Were to busy people catching someone else for something like stealing or attacking someone

  3. They were swamped by other 11 year olds (or younger; or older) trying out magic that was either dangerous or more disruptive. Because odds are Ron and Hermione weren't the only people trying out spells with their new wands before school.

The ministry has a record for ignoring "minor" crimes to catch the larger ones.

The Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 3 The Knight Bus, pg. 42

"Last year, I got an official warning just because a house-elf smashed a pudding in my uncle's house!" he told Fudge, frowning. "The Mininstry of Magic said I'd be expelled from Hogwarts if there was any more magic there!"

Unless Harry's eyes were decieving him, Fudge was suddenly looking awkard.

"Circumstances change, Harry.... We have to take into count... in the present climate... Surely you don't want to be expelled?"

This is a separate quote on the same page.

"......Why had Fudge been waiting for him at the Leaky Cauldron, if not to punish him for what he'd done? And now Harry came to think of it, surely it wasn't usual for the Minister of Magic himself to get involved in matters of underage magic?

My 2 Theories

Theory 1

She practiced magic at Diagon Alley, this is a theory that I don't put much stock in as she wouldn't have known any spells and when did she read the books. Possibly on the drive home. But I don't think so.

Theory 2

Hermione practiced spells when she was at her home. She probably picked up her spell book and read a couple of simple ones, then she performed them. She probably read her History of Magic book afterward and stopped. She probably read something inside of it telling her about underage magic and performing magic around muggles (cousins, neighbors, etc). This theory always says that the Ministry probably saw that the magic was coming from a unregistered house and had someone check on it or do nothing. Or she never read anything about it and carried along on her merry way.

The theory that you are only responsible if you are registered and in school or have a magical parent watching you is supported by the fact that Harry, Lily and Hermione weren't sent to jail for opening and closing flowers, doing simple spells, or growing their hair out and all the other subconscious magic Harry did. Nothing legal happened to her.

Also, you can't send someone to jail for not knowing. People like Hermione didn't know, the magical community would be in uproar if they sent little girls to jail for stuff like that.

Deathly Hallows Chapter 33, The Princes Tale Pg. 667

"...and the Ministry can punish you if you do magic outside school, you get letters."

"But I have done magic outside school!"

"We're all right. We haven't got wands yet. They let you off when your're a kid and you can't help it. But once your're eleven," he nodded importantly,"and they start training you, then you've got to go careful."

So once she got into school that's when it actually mattered. Also, Hermione read all her books, but those were a lot of books. You don't know which portion had the underage magic in it and when she got around to reading it. Possibly the day before class.

Also, when Hermione saw Ron doing spells if she had of known anything was up she would have said something, but she seemed unaware. She ordered him to show her.

Not that you particularly care about this source.

The officials probably didn't think a underage wizard could anything with a wand, so they probably didn't tell her not to use it. She was a muggle-born, they probably discounted her.

  • Yet still they tried to capture harry for doing the patronus charm outside of school Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 13:52
  • 2
    People do in fact go to jail for taking actions they did not know were illegal; ignorance is not innocence.
    – T.J.L.
    Commented May 1, 2016 at 14:44
  • spin-off theory from your theory 2: she started practicing spells, then got the owl telling her it was illegal and if she persisted she could be expelled from Hogwarts, so she promptly stopped. That could also be why she was so concerned with getting expelled while doing things with Ron and Harry during their first years, because she'd already been warned once about it and felt like she was on thin ice
    – childcat15
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 4:23

She practiced the spells, but didn't do them.

A few facts:

  • Wands are practically necessary for magic by wizards, especially novices.
  • Spells aren't just weird but also how you move your wand in conjunction with the spell.
  • Hermione is a book worm who puts a lot of faith in theoretical knowledge.
  • Hermione doesn't break rules and would have certainly known about the no underage magic rules.


Hermione most likely used a regular stick and practiced the motions and incantations of common spells to get a solid theoretical understanding of the spells. So when she was in Diagon Alley or on the train she had the ability to perform basic spells and was able to do so with relative ease.

As an aside, in the later books they mention 'the mark' which indicates to the Minstry that a spell was caused near an underage wizard, not by them. Which is why Ron could have practiced spells at home with mum and dad as the Ministry wouldn't have known if it was a child or adult. However, this wouldn't have helped Hermione as her parents were Muggles.

  • 6
    Sorry, -1. She very explicitly states that the spells she practiced worked for her. That is in direct contradiction to "waved a stick around" theory. Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 13:15
  • @DVK - Also, Moody states that you don't necessarily need a proper wand to do wand-based magic. He says that any old stick will do as long as you're using it as a focus.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 15:39
  • Wands are not necessary, this is the inconsistency part in the books. We see them doing magic with wands, doing magic without, we even see voldemort slitting Snapes throat with a wand, which really is more powerful than avada kedavra. Magic is the most inconsistent thing in these magic books Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 13:54
  • @Valorum Don't you mean Ollivander?
    – Pryftan
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 22:34
  • @Pryftan - Possibly. I might be getting mixed up with the fact that you see Moody using a staff as a focus instead of a wand.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 22:35

She was probably practicing at home. The text strongly implies that she was practicing while or after she read the spellbook(s), so we can exclude Diagon Alley. At the Hogwarts Express she hadn't really any time for practicing, as she was on a quest to find a missing toad.

But if Hermione was practicing at home, why did she get no warning from the Ministry?

Not sure the Ministry can distinguish between wandless magic and magic performed with a wand. After all, in CoS Harry was blamed for Dobby's wandless hover charm. Hermione's attempts (if she was practicing at home) may have been written off by the Ministry as involuntary/accidental magic, same as Lily's before her first year.

Anyway, in the books the law is enforced only when the Statue of Secrecy is breached and magic is performed "in a Muggle-inhabited area and in the presence of a Muggle." (OotP, from Mafalda Hopkirk's letter to Harry) by a Hogwarts student. Examples are:

  • Dobby's hover charm in CoS witnessed by the Dursley's dinner guests,

  • Harry blowing up his aunt in PoA (he expected to be punished for that one)

  • The patronus charm in OotP (performed on the street of a Muggle neighborhood. I never understood why they stressed Dudley witnessing the spell part as a breach of the statue of secrecy; Big D knew perfectly well that Harry does spells).

In all those cases the Ministry wasn't really interested whether the magic was performed with or without a wand. Harry was a Hogwarts student, got training, and therefore he was responsible for doing magic.

The law isn't enforced if you're not a Hogwarts student yet, else Harry vanishing the pen's glass in a zoo which caused a racket would've got him a warning.

Or Hermione is an agent of the augury, sentient birds whose evil plan is to rule over the humans. She's half-augury, masquerading as a Muggle-born first year. She's in fact the secret lovechild of Grindelvald and the head of the flock, and 300 years old, so underage magic restrictions don't apply.


Has this not been answered by reference to Lilly and snapes conversation about once you hit 11 and START training THEN you're accountable. The trace clearly doesn't come into affect untill this age otherwise the ministry would be forever dealing with cases of magic outside school in infancy and childhood.

  • I thought of that too. They do have that conversation. Whether or not that's definitive it's certainly relevant.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 22:31

The ministry of magic can only detect if magic is being done, and not who cast it (evidenced by the fact that Dobby used a hover charm in Chamber of Secrets and Harry got the letter for using the spell). So underage wizards and witches can probably use magic anywhere there is a large population of adult wizards.

So Hermione most likely tried the spells while she was on the train. Either that or she was maybe under a set age at the time where she could do simple spells (they didn't send Harry a letter for the accidental magic he did under the age of 11) without getting into much trouble.

  • Also when Riddle killed his parents and modified the memory of his uncle they didn't know that it wasn't the uncle - as another example. Not that I think that has any relevancy to the question (quite the opposite actually).
    – Pryftan
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 22:31

She shouldn't have been able to do any magic out of Hogwarts as it clearly states in Harry Potter book 2 when Dobby uses magic and Harry gets a letter stating:

You are not allowed to use under age magic at all, except in an emergency and if you were allowed to use magic in front of Muggles

That know well harry shouldn't have gotten "expelled" when the Dementors came as only Mrs Figg (squibs don't count) and Dudley were around when he used the Patronus spell and Dudley knew about magic already. So basically, the only place she could have could have done magic was on the train.

  • 2
    She was sitting only with Harry and Ron in the train. Before that she was looking for Neville's toad. WHEN? Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 20:31
  • Not according to Severus Snape when talking with Lily Evans. For example of others. So you're wrong here.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 22:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.