Harry James Potter didn't think that he could ever enjoy a Potions class; it just wasn't possible. Today's class was certainly proving that theory.
He blinked away sweat as he frantically stirred his cauldron with one hand and stretched blindly out with his other in an attempt to grab his powdered boomslang skin. The vial was just out of his reach, and he was forced to chance a glance away from his cauldron to focus on snagging it. His fingers successfully curled around it, but the sharp motion sent a bit of potion slopping out to narrowly miss splattering him. He jerked away as the desktop sizzled, glaring at the offending cauldron and muttering a long string of the colorful swears favored by Ron.
"Potter! 10 points from Gryffindor for your foul mouth." The sneer in the voice alone made Harry stiffen. Snape swept around to the front of his desk to peer at Harry's potion, a difficult feat due to the smoke the wooden desktop gave off as the liquid boiled over the cauldron's lip.
His usual sneer curled into a malicious smirk.
"Your potion is ruined, Potter. The Beautification Potion should be a shimmering emerald at this point, not orange; the unicorn hair should have been added ten minutes ago. Perhaps if you had listened to my lecture, you would have understood the time sensitivity of this potion."
Perhaps next time I'll see how far I can shove my wand up your arse. Leave it to the most full of shite professor since Lockhart to assign a NEWT-level potion when we've not taken our OWLs yet.
Before Harry could attempt to fix the smouldering mess dripping onto the floor, Snape had flicked his wand and it vanished.
"You may return your remaining ingredients while the rest of the class finishes up. You will receive a 'D' on today's assignment; be grateful it isn't a 'T'." And with that, Snape swept off to bully Neville, whose potion was emitting an alarming number of sparks.
Harry scowled and gathered his supplies, resuming his cursing under his breath. He was so lost in his idle schemes of slipping the greasy git poison - and why not Malfoy too, while I'm at it - that he completely missed the presence of the display desk until his foot had already caught its leg. There was less than a second in which he could attempt to right himself, but it passed all too quickly and Harry found himself flat on his face. So much for Quidditch agility and grace. He was distracted from his embarrassment, however, by a heavy weight thudding against his back, accompanied by the sound of shattering glass. Harry realized belatedly that he must have pulled the desk and its potions down with him.
He cried out as the tiny shards of crystal peppered his skin, drawing blood and soaking him in the colorful liquids just as quickly. Then suddenly the glass and liquids were gone. Harry groaned and shifted under the weight of the desk, preparing to push himself up from under it, only for his arms to give out and send him crumpling back onto stone. Hot, searing pain rippled through him and his eyes screwed shut of their own accord as he lost himself to the feeling.
The class was frozen in shock; everything had happened so quickly. It seemed like only a moment ago that Harry was sweating over his potion, and now he was bleeding on the ground. Nobody moved until Snape stepped forward and vanished the mess with short, deliberate wandstrokes. The motion broke Ron from the spell, and he felt Hermione shift beside him as well. They scrambled forward together and Ron made to pull the desk off of Harry but was jerked to a stop by a strong grip on his arm. Before them, the boy in question had begun to writhe and seize as his skin bubbled. Ron felt as if his stomach had dropped to the floor, and he struggled to shake himself free.
"Stop fighting," Snape's voice hissed beside him. "There's nothing you can do for him without risking yourself."
"I don't care." He bit out and renewed his efforts to tear his arm away. Snape's grip was like a vice.
"I cannot help him if you get in the way, you foolish boy." Ron paused, and Snape didn't wait for any more answer than that before releasing him and immediately turning his attention to Harry. Ron couldn't help but note with a small glow of pride that Hermione had fought against their professor as well, but Harry's groans quickly tore him from the thought.
Snape was running his wand over Harry's body, muttering indistinctly as he did so. When he had finished, he seemed to mull something over for a second before flicking his wand at Harry once, then a second time toward the door to send a bright cloud through it. Slowly, the little cuts littering Harry's skin stopped oozing blood and knit themselves back together, but he continued to thrash feebly.
"Why aren't you doing anything else?" Hermione asked in a strained voice. She rocked forward on her toes, and he knew she was fighting the urge to run to their fallen friend.
"I have done everything I can for him right now; he is experiencing the effects of a number of potions, the combination of which has never been seen before. It is unclear whether interference would cause more harm or good. Regardless, the results and their duration cannot be determined until they've run their course, by which time Madam Pomfrey should be here." He finally turned to survey the room, and Ron followed his gaze. He was surprised to find that even Malfoy looked pale; they'd never seen a truly serious potions accident before. "Gather your things and go to your next class. Your professors will be informed of the situation."
Ron returned his attention to Harry's prone form as the others silently packed up and began to drift out, lingering to get another look. To his surprise, Snape made no comment on his and Hermione's lack of movement, instead busying himself by gathering a seemingly random assortment of old books from his shelves. Harry continued to let out small groans and cries but they had become much weaker. His writhing seemed to have decreased in intensity as well, though it was hard to be certain as his robes had come to cover much of him.
A commotion in the corridor outside preceded the entrance of Madam Pomfrey, who bustled into the room and gasped at the sight of him crumpled on the floor. She conferred quickly with Snape in heated whispers, before moving to kneel and perform her own diagnostic spells. Those students who hadn't left yet waited, their morbid curiosity urging them to hear what she would say. Ron sent them a glare.
"It appears to have run its course." The healer sat back, an odd look on her face, but Ron would worry about that later. He rushed forward to haul the heavy desk away, and was rewarded by a soft sigh that almost made him drop back down. The sound was distinctly feminine, and had Hermione not been clearly visible at Madam Pomfrey's side he would have assumed it was her. The two women had obviously heard it too, and Hermione shot him a look of wide-eyed alarm before reaching over and pulling Harry's robe away from his body.
It was like it happened in slow motion. The fabric fell away, revealing a mass of messy black hair. But it was far longer than it should be. And the face was far smaller, and far more delicate than it should be. For a split second Ron could almost convince himself that it wasn't Harry at all. Then, behind round glasses that were far too large, familiar green eyes fluttered open to meet his. And above them, he glimpsed a lightning-shaped scar.
"R-Ron?" She looked for all the world like she was shocked by the sound of her own voice.
This isn't happening. This can't be happening. Harry tightened his grip on the sheets, steeling himself, before lifting them quickly to peek underneath. He dropped them again. This is actually happening.
He could deny it all he wanted, but the body under the sheets was decidedly not his. Or at least not the body he was used to. Harry groaned. Then he groaned again at the unexpected high pitch of the sound. Isn't it bad enough that Voldemort wants to kill me and the wizarding world thinks I'm a liar? Even Neville has better luck!
The sound of approaching footsteps pulled him from his thoughts, and he eyed the wand at his bedside; his discomfort at the situation was making him especially alert and paranoid. But before he could decide whether to grab it or not, a familiar voice piped up and he relaxed back into his pillows.
"Harry? Are you… decent?" He suppressed yet another groan.
"You can come in, Ron."
No sooner had the words left his mouth than the privacy curtain was thrown aside and his vision was dominated by a gangly redhead. Then Hermione was pushing past and all he could see was bushy brown hair as she clung to him.
"Ow, Hermione, you're crushing me." He felt his cheeks warm; Hermione crushing him had never been a concern before. She squealed and pulled back a little.
"Oh, Harry, I'm so sorry - I didn't even think, we were just so excited to see you! Madam Pomfrey wouldn't let us in all day and we were just so worried about you."
"It's okay; I'm just a little sore still. It's good to see you too. I've missed you guys."
Ron moved further into the space, coming to sit next to the bed. Harry had to force himself not to squirm as Ron studied his face.
"How are you feeling? We couldn't get a word out of anyone, 'cept that you were alive and awake. Have they found anything that'll help?"
Harry was already shaking his head.
"Like I said, I'm sore, but that's about the worst of it. Snape and Pomfrey have been in and out all day to ask questions and talk to each other. From what I can tell, though, Dumbledore is the one in charge of things. He came by once, just to let me know that they can't try anything until they're sure there won't be an adverse reaction with the potions." He couldn't help but be a bit bitter when it came to Dumbledore; the headmaster was taking the whole avoidance thing a bit far, considering the circumstances.
"Don't worry, mate. Dumbledore'll find a solution and you'll be back to normal in no time. People will forget it ever happened."
Easy for you to say.
"And until then, you can just stick with me! I can teach you everything you need to know about being a girl."
Harry felt his eyebrow twitch.
"Thanks, Hermione, but I don't really need to learn how to 'be a girl' seeing as I'm not a girl. I'm stuck in this body, but one accident isn't going to change me. I'm just going to sit in this room for a day or so until someone can fix me; I'm certainly not going in front of anyone else like this."
Hermione gave Ron a look, then began to fidget with her wand. Harry could feel his heart sink.
"What?" No answer. "Hermione, what is it?"
"Harry, surely you've considered that you could be like this for a while. You can't just stay in here that whole time."
"Says who?" Hermione bit her lip. "Says who, Hermione?"
"Says McGonagall, okay? That's who! McGonagall let us in because she wanted us to help you get ready to leave the Hospital Wing."
Ron gave him a light punch to the shoulder.
"Come on, it'll be fine."
Author's Note: Alright, I'm FINALLY getting around to rewriting this fic. It's one of my favorites and I've had ideas for it bouncing around in my head forever, and now I've actually got the motivation to put them in writing. Pleaser let me know what you think of this chapter and what you'd like to see in this fic in general!
Much love, Miss Luxe