written for tgs '12 days of christmas' and ilvermorny 'beaded bag: alphabet soup'

ilvermorny:

prompt:

E:

(title) etoiles (French: stars)

(word) ephemeral

hogwarts:

Muggle Studies

2) Write about someone making up a new tradition

tgs:

prompt:

7. seven swans a swimming: write about swimming lessons at hogwarts

points: 5

school, house: hogwarts, slytherin

word count: 829

a/n: how i made this symbolic and cool and actually not a crack-fic is beyond me, tbh. i blame my binge-listening of reputation.

also i know barely anything about swimming so my apologies if i got anything wrong.

. . .

Why they're at the Great Lake for Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons is a question that Hermione Granger would very much like to have answered.

Then again, she always has questions and she always has them answered soon enough; this new thing seems very much the same.

They're supposed to have a substitute teacher in today, because Professor Blains, the teacher assigned after the war, is off at Beauxbatons doing something or the other to promote "post-war European unity."

The eighth-years were now a single class: so many of them had died fighting that the house divisions had simply dissolved for them. They'd united. And everyone seemed to think others needed to, as well.

Hadn't they all united against Voldemort already? Hermione found the whole program rather unnecessary, but hey, who was she to judge the Ministry? They'd really cleaned up their act since Kingsley's promotion to Minister of Magic. Muggle-borns have more rights and hate crimes against everyone have stopped, so — well, to Hermione, everything seems fine.

So it's a little unexpected but not totally surprising when Headmistress McGonagall shows up to the Lake.

"Hello, class," she tells them, "I will be substituting for Professor Blains while she is away, and as I have not received qualifications for Defense Against the Dark Arts instruction, I decided to teach you to defend yourselves against a different kind of Dark Arts: the curse of terrible Christmas spirit." She smiles thinly, as if remembering something from years long past. "So, I do hope you are well enough versed in Transfiguration, because you're going to go swimming."

"Swimming?" blusters Harry. "It's so cold out!"

"Swimming," echoes Neville. "During Christmas-time." He sounds very rightfully dubious. Hermione can't say she disagrees with him. England in the middle of winter is not a good time to swim.

"McGonagall's going barmy, I tell you," Dean whispers to Seamus, who nods along fervently.

Ron is the one brave enough to ask, "Why are we swimming when the lake is…practically frozen…?"

"Are you a wizard or not, Mr. Weasley?" retorts McGonagall. "You have Warming Charms and Melting Charms and you can Transfigure yourselves some bathing suits. Go on, then."

. . .

And so they do what she says, because it's McGonagall and it'd practically be suicide to challenge her. Everyone tries to find a discreet place for their Transfiguration.

Draco Malfoy's out first, teeth chattering slightly and a little bit conscious of the scars on his chest from the Sectumsempra. Harry and Hermione make their way out coincidentally at the same time, and Harry looks at Draco then, flushing guiltily.

Then there's Ron, whose swimsuit is more like a robe that's been folded one too many times and then Transfigured into shorts, and they're surprisingly green.

"Don't ask," he says grimly at Hermione's questioning look.

So one by one they trickle out and one by one they cast charms on themselves and one by one they wait for McGonagall to give out instructions.

"You will be swimming alongside a partner. Racing. Freestyle." That's all she says at first, but the students look so bewildered that she adds, "What are you waiting for? Partner up!"

. . .

Everyone partners tentatively: Draco partners with Harry, surprisingly enough. Ron and Hermione partner predictably — Dean works with Seamus, Parvati works with her sister Padma, and Neville partners with Hannah Abbott (paired with quite a few wolf-whistles).

And they swim. Ron is a little faster than Hermione naturally, but Hermione is more skilled with her wand and makes herself go faster.

"You're cheating," Ron complains.

"It's not cheating," Hermione gasps. "It's just tweaking the circumstances."

"Of course." Ron laughs.

Hermione splashes him pettily in retaliation.

Everything's ephemeral after that. Ron splashes back and then Hermione splashes back to that, and then it's really just a mess of splashing and giggling and maybe just a little but of kissing.

(They don't race for a while, but then again, no one quite is.)

. . .

McGonagall has somehow acquired a whistle while they swam, and when it's time to leave, she blows loudly into it.

"Now," she says, "can someone tell me the purpose of this activity?"

Ron says timidly, "To have fun?"

"Good guess, Mr. Weasley, but no — Miss Granger!" prompts McGonagall, seeing Hermione's raised hand.

"To raise morale —"

"No, unfortunately. It is to show you that you cannot live alone and live happily. Happiness is designed to be shared with other people, and you cannot isolate yourself — because that just makes it worse." McGonagall looks all of them over. "And in honor of that, we'll be making this a new yearly event at Hogwarts...you're welcome to return if you're inclined." She winks slyly at them. "Dry yourselves, freshen up, and be down for dinner in the Great Hall."

That night, the stars in the sky seem to shine a little brighter. Maybe it's just Hermione, but she likes to think that the extra light in the hall is the light of spirit.