Harry Potter And The Enlightening Experience
More plates of delicious food from the downstairs elves began to emerge on the table, which relived Harry quite a bit because he wasn't in the mood to talk anymore. He politely but firmly asked Hermione and Veronica if he could eat in peace and not be bothered, and thankfully, both of them respected his wishes. Harry then shoveled spoonfuls of cereal into his mouth as the two prefects chatted happily with one another.
In his moment of "solitude", Harry observed the Great Hall a little bit more deeply, glancing in particular towards the Slytherin table for a head full of platinum blonde hair. Calista Malfoy. If she was anything like her male counterpart(and Hermione's memories confirmed that she was), she was bound to approach Harry sooner or later to either harass him or try to provoke him into a fight. Or maybe not. Malfoy had been mostly quiet this year because, as Harry correctly guessed, he was being initiated into the Death Eaters. Taking up where his father left off. His mission, should he choose to accept it, was to kill Dumbledore before the end of the year. Malfoy was going in and out of the Room of Requirement in order to covertly smuggle in various ways to do this, such as a poisoned bottle of wine and a cursed necklace. None of them had worked so far, though the mystery of DD's blackened hand still hung in the air like an awful stench. Harry had always known since their encounter in Madame Malkins all those years ago that Draco, that prat and a half, was eventually going to graduate from petty bullying to full fledged evil. That Harry might not only have to face Voldemort, but also the bratty scion of one of the richest families in Britain. Harry would of called Draco a bad seed, but that would imply that his racist, elitist father and mother were any better.
There she is...
Calista was sitting towards the end of the Slytherin table, practically right next door to the exit. If you were to interpret her enthusiastic hand gestures and facial expressions, she was likely telling a funny story to the other Sixth Years adjacent to her. Harry could make out Pansy Parkinson, Millicent Bulstrode, Tracy Davis, and Daphne Greengrass all surrounding her, hanging onto the towhead's every word. Other girls were present, but Harry couldn't recognize them. Occasionally, Calista would pause to yell at an underclassman for one thing or another, and she would use her Prefect powers to confiscate whatever it was that was causing her trouble, or more likely, was something that Calista coveted but didn't yet have.
Since Voldemort didn't exist here, Harry would have to wait and see if this chick was just a petty bitch or something worse.
Turning around towards the Ravenclaw table, he saw Luna Lovegood sitting next to a chick that looked suspiciously like Ernie MacMillian. He couldn't hear their conversation amongst the dozens that were going on, but he was sure it had to have been weird. Harry pondered about walking up to her, and seeing if her conspiratorial mind had any useful info.
Harry felt a large hand suddenly grasp his narrow shoulder.
"How ah mah three favorite pupils doing then?"
Turning around, already knowing who it was, Harry came face to stomach with Hagrid, the same as ever, still bearing the omnipresent stupidly happy grin on his face. Harry had let out a small, tiny pipsqueak of a shudder when he felt someone touching him, but it seemed that Hagrid hadn't noticed.
"Just fine" said Harry, lying. "Got up in the morning, went downstairs, ate cereal. Typical Friday stuff."
"Thas' great to 'ear, 'Arriet! You're gonna love me class today. I'm finally going to introduce all you kids to acromantula's like I've been promisin'."
"Acromantula's?" asked Veronica, her entire skin tone suddenly paling. "Giant spiders?"
"Yeah! And I've brought the King of the acromantula's out of the Forbidden Forest today. His name's Aragog. Real old friend 'o mine."
"How did you become friend's with a giant spider?" asked Hermione, inquisitive.
"Well, I'm saving that story for class, so yer jus' gonna have to wait and see!"
Hagrid rubbed Harry's hair with his giant's hand(thankfully it was clean), and took off for the his seat at the head of the Great Hall.
"I'm totally skipping his class today" said Veronica out of thin air, looking like she was ready to throw up.
Harry watched Hagrid sit at the table next to Female!Snape, wondering just how he could have skipped out on being a woman. Perhaps Merlin's spell(the one Hermione brought up earlier) had only affected humans, leaving people with a non human biology like Hagrid immune to it. "Thank God" whispered Harry to himself. It just would have been too weird to see Hagrid any different than he was now.
The chimes of Big Brunhilda(the name everyone gave to the giant cuckoo clock directly outside the Great Hall) began to sound, heralding that classes were ready to begin in ten minutes. Harry took a last few gulps of chocolate milk and got ready, as did Veronica and Hermione. First class was Potions. This was going to be a trip.
Or maybe it wasn't.
What surprised Harry the most about the all-female classroom was how pedestrian it was. In the back of his mind, intellectually, he knew that girls weren't different from boys aside from their secondary sex characteristics, but he still carried with him an unintentional but eternally present mild sense of male chauvinism. In this case, he thought that the dungeon rooms would automatically be cleaner with no guys around. He lifted up one of his patent leather shoes and wrinkled his nose at the mud at the bottom of it.
A very nervous looking girl with big frog eyes and black braids rushed into the classroom with a minute before class time to spare. She took a seat a couple of rows directly behind Harry.
"Hey Harriet" said the out of breath girl.
"Hey" answered Harry, not bothering to turn around. He whispered towards the seat next to him:
"Hermione, who was that?"
"Nerissa Longbottom. She's from another old-blood family like Ronnie is."
"Why wasn't she at breakfast?"
"Snape's been giving her two weeks detention for working on Herbology homework in class."
"That's good to know. I have a classmate named Neville who is the guy version of her. I didn't see her during breakfast and assumed she wasn't born here. Other world Snape is always failing him too. The only thing he's good at is Defense and Herbology."
"Defense?" giggled Hermione in a whisper. "Nerissa Longbottom couldn't hurt a fly. Heck, she couldn't hex the broad side of a half baked giant."
"One hundred points from Gryffindor for gossiping in class" said a disembodied voice.
"Huh?" exclaimed Harry, looking upwards towards the source of the sound. Affixed to the ceiling like mistletoe was the oily looking woman Harry had seen in the Great Hall. Her dark eyes and pointed chin were bowing towards Harry in a henceforth long cliched Snape looking scowl.
"Oh crap" mused Harry.
The woman slowly levitated to the floor, her robes fluttering in a non existent breeze as she finished. Female!Snape reminded Harry Potter of someone he hated possibly even more than her male counterpart: Bellatrix LeStrange.
"It's not nice to keep secrets. It's even worse talk about others when they are right behind you listening, Miss Potter. And Miss Granger, you should know better than your narcissistic friend here. Or then again, should you? Muggles don't have finishing schools for young ladies anymore, do they?"
Harry heard Pansy Parkinson giggling softly to herself.
"Don't flatter yourself Miss Parkinson, none of you ever mind your surroundings."
Snape continued her speech slash rant as she sauntered to the head of the room.
"You're all too busy thinking about today. What clothes accessorize best with the robes you'll be wearing, what new heartthrob you're currently soiling yourselves over, which unfortunate introvert will receive the daily bath in the lavatory. But not now. Today, you will be learning the art of how to fly. Tell me, are any of you little tadpoles aware of the story of Peter Pan?"
A number of hands, including Harry's and Hermione's, were suddenly raised.
"How unfortunate. That fool J.M Barrie would have you all believe that mere happy thoughts can assist you in flying. Or the will to believe. Phaw! If that were true, witches would have discovered it centuries earlier. The truth is, only an enchanted item such as a broomstick or the potions we will be brewing in class can help one fly."
"Harriet Potter! If Miss Granger here weren't doing the thinking for you, what would be the first thing you would say would be needed to make a flying potion?"
Harry gulped hard. This year, he had been loaned a copy of the sixth year Potions textbook containing annotations by someone calling themselves the Half-Blood Prince. Harry hadn't solved the mystery of who the HBP was yet, but whoever it was was obviously a genius, or close to it, since every single annotation was superior to the actual instructions. Harry's potion skills in class had gone way up, but he didn't ever really memorize the book, and he was too reliant on it to make a good, genuine apprentice potion maker. He was going to fail this question.
"I'm sorry, ma'am. I don't know."
Snape curled her lips.
"Miss Granger. What would be needed to make a flying potion?"
Hermione matter of factly quoted the textbook, like she always did, listing every ingredient that would help, and in what order. Smiling smugly, Hermione folded her hands on the desk in front of her.
"Correct Miss Granger. Please don't hesitate to plagiarize again in the future."
"In order to prevent any of you from picking up the slack from your less able fellow students, you're all going to be working strictly as individuals today. If I catch any sort of teamwork, you will get a week's detention with Filch. Your potion making time starts...now."
In retrospect, Harry might have to apologize to Canon!Snape once he returned to reality. While Severus was a bastard, he was a good professor. Female!Snape, however, was just a bitch. She made no attempts to actually instruct, preferring the sink or swim method of teaching. That might have been perfectly fine when teaching, say, swimming, it didn't do Potions students any good. And Snape knew it. She did it out of spite. And today, her negligence was about to cause a three separate accidents.
A smaller accident was the harbinger. Deanna Thomas finished first, drank her potion bottoms up, and about two seconds later bent over in agony, vomiting her breakfast all over the floor. Snape cleaned the vomit up with a scouring charm and gave Deanna a big fat zero for the day. Mercifully, Deanna was allowed to leave the classroom afterwords.
Calista Malfoy concocted a half-assed potion that made her levitate a few feet above the ground for about ten seconds, the smile on her face couldn't have been any more smug. Then it made her deflate like a balloon. There was a brief scream, as if someone had shot her in the chest immediately before hitting her with a bus. A pile of skin, hair, cartilage, clothing, some mary jane's, and a soul to glue it all together was all that remained of her on the floor. Harry was reminded of a time back when he was twelve when the very stupid ex-professor Lockhart tried to heal the pain his broken arm by disappearing the bones altogether.
The skin, hair, bones... of Calista all slithered on the floor, like a particularly angry slug. Pansy screamed and jumped upon a long wooden table on the edge of the room.
Snape use her furnace as an emergency floo portal and sent Calista up to Madame Pomfrey immediately.
"The dangers of being a witch, my lovelies. Now back to work!"
Hermione's potion came out perfectly. She floated around the room, arms and legs stretched out Superman style, did a couple of backstrokes, and later, with no flourish at all, made a gentle landing back to earth.
Somewhere, maybe in somebody's mind, the Blue Danube Waltz was playing.
"Excellent work, Miss Granger. You have my permission to float outside in the hallway if you'd like."
Hermione obliged her superior, much as she didn't want to, and picked up her things. Walking by Harry, she whispered "not enough eye of salamander" before exiting.
Nerissa's potion blew up in her face, leaving her with ash on her face coming from... somewhere. She also had severe second degree burn marks on her face that had to be taken care of right away. She flounced outside the room to Madame Pomfrey's office.
Veronica's potion came out OK, although she eventually collapsed upon Daphne Greengrass' table and spilled her potion all over the floor.
"Uh...sorry about that."
Snape deducted no points from Gryffindor house, the Weasley's embarrassing faux pas a harsh enough lesson.
The end of class looming, Harry's potion wasn't even close to ready. Snape was approaching her table. What was she going to do!? Harry didn't want to be stuck with Filch; he needed that spare time to figure out a way to get out of this strange place.
"Miss Potter, what exactly do you call this monstrosity?"
Suddenly, the loud clanging noise of Big Brunhilda, magically amplified, was echoing from the hallway. That announced that it was time for students to move on to their next class.
"Saved by the bell."
Snape, in all of her infinite mercy, informed Harry that she would have to try out her potion for tomorrow's class...whether she wanted to or not.
The rest of the morning's classes went off without a hitch. Harry actually enjoyed seeing how much each professor changed to suit their "new" lives. Professor Flitwick, for instance, was now just a very petite woman instead of the actual little person that he was in the real world. She was real cute too, almost nymphish, thought Harry(a thought which kind of disgusted him upon further examination). Hagrid kept good on his word and brought out Aragog the giant spider for his Care Of Magical Creatures class. A long tale of intrigue and heroism followed, detailing the history and friendship of the acromantula with the friendly but oafish half-giant. The lesson of the class that day was not how to care for an acromantula, but to learn how to respect it's boundaries. If you left them alone, they would generally leave you alone too. Unless you wander into their home...something Harry and Ron learned at the end of their second year. History of Magic was a complete bore, as per usual, but Harry prepared for this and brought in a Quidditch magazine for him to read. Apparently the hottest team in this universe, fittingly, was the Holyhead Harpies. Hermione and Veronica passed notes to each other throughout, the former finally informing the latter about the "Harriet"s condition. Veronica was shocked at first, but in the span of forty minutes went through the five stages of grief all the way on down to acceptance. Veronica then passed Harry himself a letter informing him that her sisters had tricked her into thinking that she was a boy once too.
After HOM, Harry propped himself against the wall to look through his book bag. Taking a look at his afternoon schedule, Harry was surprised to see a name he hadn't recognized before. Teaching Defense Against The Dark Arts(DADA) was a certain Professor Cushing.
"Hermione, who's Professor Cushing? Is she any good?"
"Very, but Professor Cushing's a man."
"What? You said that only girl's could do magic here."
"They are. They're the students. He's the teacher."
"Harri, just because someone can't do magic themselves doesn't mean they're beneath you. Professor Cushing's been doing Defense at Hogwarts for over twenty years. He knows all of the tricks. Dumbledore would never allow him here if she didn't have faith in his skills. And he's a former vampire hunter."
"Yeah, really" piped Veronica. "He's totally not that bad. Malfoy gives him shit sometimes, but she always fucks up when she doesn't follow his instructions. One time, she came super close to getting killed when he brought a live zombie into class."
"Don't tell me. Malfoy called her father up afterwords."
"Oh yeah" answered Veronica. "The Howler she got was the loudest one I've ever heard."
Lunch time- the greatest time of day for the lazy student.
"It's just really hard to believe is all. It's like you're E.T the Extraterrestrial. You're telling us that not only you're not just from a different planet, you're from a different reality altogether?"
"Yes, that's exactly what I mean."
"But Hermione just thinks you've been imperio'd or something."
"Yes, but I don't think that's true. It could be, but I don't want it to be. I like my friends. No offense."
"Lex parsimoniae" announced Hermione.
"What?" asked Harry and Veronica together.
"Occam's Razor. The best explanations are usually the ones that take the least amount of extrapolation, or the fewest assumptions."
"I've had Snape use Legilimens on me, guys. I know when someone is doing something funky to my mind. If somebody was tampering with my memories, they'd have to be a helluva lot more talented at it than he was."
"Oh gawd. Could you stop using the male pronouns when you talk about Snape? She's creepy enough already" complained Veronica.
"I heard Katie Bell describe her as a flat-chested Elvira, Mistress of the Dark" gossiped Hermione.
Hermione and Harry had a good laugh. Veronica asked who that was, and was then informed.
"And if you're in Harriet's body, you think Harriet is probably in yours?" continued Veronica.
"That's what I'm hoping for, Ronnie. Law of Symmetry, y'know? I just have no clue how it happened. Voldemort might have something to do with it, I don't know."
"And who's this Voldemort chap again?"
Harry smiled. He was so used to hearing "You-Know-Who" from Ron, to hear it said out loud from Ronnie as just "Who?" was refreshing.
"He's the worst Dark Lord for hundreds of years. Killed a lot of people. Thousands. Split up his soul into a bunch of little pieces, and stored them in objects that make him immortal. He wants to kill or subjugate everybody who's not a pureblood."
"My goodness! I'm glad I don't live where you do" replied Veronica, taking a bite out of her fudge brownie.
"Harri, is Voldemort a meaningful name for this man by any chance? I think I've heard it before" asked Hermione.
"Funny you should ask. If you rearrange the letters in his full name, Tom Marvolo Riddle, it spells out to I Am Lord Voldemort. So yeah, it's an anagram."
For a moment, Harry thought he caught Hermione's eyes bugging out slightly, as if she had just realized something horrifying, but it subsided too quickly for him to really notice.
"So tell me about you guys. How did we meet? I mean, after the whole train incident with Malfoy. Hermione got me covered on that"
"Well, Harriet and I thought Hermione was kind of a bitch to begin with. She was uppity, and nosy, and wouldn't stop showing off. Even when we weren't in class! "Hey Ronnie. I'm a muggle born, and I learned more about magic in three weeks than you did in eleven years." One of us yelled at her, forget which, and during Halloween in our First Year, she hid in the loo during the big feast crying her eyes out. A troll got into the castle, we ran to the loo to save her, did, and we've been mates and a half ever since."
"Thank you, Miss Weasley, Junior Historian. Ever consider taking Professor Binns place when you grow up?" teased Hermione.
"How did a troll get in the castle?" asked Harry. In his world, the same incident had happened in his First Year. Professor Quirrell, working under Voldemort's orders had been the one who had let it in. This was a distraction so they could look for the Philosopher's Stone. But since Voldy wasn't around, who could have done it here?
"A Seventh Year named Aradia Penrose created the troll out of a pencil. She was slumming in the seventh floor halls, working on Transfiguration homework, and the whole thing just got out of hand."
"Wow" mouthed Harry.
"Yeah. She works in the Muggle world now. Through the grapevine, I heard she's working on making golem armies for some anarchists out of Pagford."
"Hmmf" was only sound Harry made then.
"What's Harriet like? Is she like me?"
"I'd say so" replied both Hermione and Veronica.
"Harriet likes to brood a lot. She's so broody that we think she should be a character in an Anton Chekov play" snarked Ronnie.
Harry wondered if that's what people thought of him.
"Why is she broody?"
"Harriet's very much abused, but legally, no one can do anything. Her parents were murdered when she was a baby. This- this madman killed them. Then she was taken in by her aunt and uncle. The Uncle treats her like total crap. He calls her a waste of space, and a freak, and a cornucopia of other insults because he doesn't like witches. Until she was eleven, she lived in a cupboard underneath the stairs."
"Can't she just run away?"
"Nope. She's still a minor. And she can't use the law against him either. Her uncle has too much money and some good attorneys. Her aunt is a little nicer than Vernon is, but she's ultimately an enabler. Harriet has a cousin named Dudley, and he's taken after his father. Dumbledore has tried to sort out matters a little more...directly, let's say, but she won't directly threaten them with magic."
"So she's like Cinderella without the happy ending."
"Yeah, pretty much so" replied a sullen Veronica.
"What about her Godfather? Er...Godmother."
"Godfather" corrected Veronica. "She has one named Sirius Black."
"Yeah! Him! He lives in London, right?"
"Yes, but Sirius is barred from ever seeing her. Uncle placed a restraining order keeping him one thousand meters away from him and Harriet at all times."
"What!? That's an outrage!" screamed Harry. "I'm surprised she hasn't just Obliviated the creeps out of anger."
"Doesn't work that way, honey. She'd go to St. Wendelins if she tried that. That's an asylum for juvenile delinquent witches."
"And I thought I had it bad" said Harry, resting his head down on Harriet's forearms.
"None of this makes any sense!" he whined.
A Fourth Year girl was watching the drama in display over at Slytherin table. She made some rude slash sarcastic comment that Harry didn't hear, and Veronica told her to go blow a penguin.
Hermione and Ronnie waited until Harry recovered from his mini-meltdown and gave him a group hug. The rest of Gryffindor table was now also watching the drama unfold in the Prefects corner. An adorable little First Year tried to transfigure her spoon into something nice for Harry/Harriet, but wasn't able to.
"We should probably talk about this...somewhere more private" sniffled Harry.
"Yeah" said Veronica. "Definitely."
The Golden Trio moved to a more secluded part of the Great Hall reserved for students who needed to be alone. A permanent Disillusionment Charm and a Silencio Charm shrouded the area, making it impenetrable to all but Dumbledore and the House ghosts.
"Am I cute?" asked Veronica. "I mean to say, is the guy version of me cute?"
"Well, wrong person to ask. I'm not gay, but Ron is a pretty handsome looking guy, sure. He's really insecure though. I'm the Seeker for Gryffindor."
"So is Harriet!"
"Right, but I'm the Seeker, and Ron is kind of insecure about it. He's not as good at Quidditch as he wants to be."
"Sounds like me. I gave up on it last year."
"I'm sorry, Ronnie. So is Harriet good?"
"She's great! She won the championship for Gryffindor in '94 and '96."
"Same here" boasted Harry.
"Hey, listen Harri, I want to show you something. Meet the Weasley clan."
Veronica took off her chain necklace and opened up a tiny, heart shaped locket attached to it. Inside the locket was a miniature photograph. She handed it off to Harry.
"Here, let me enlarge that for you" said Veronica, bending over her. "Engorgio."
The locket and the picture inside it morphed to the size and shape of an 8x8 square print, the silver chain now hanging all kielbasa like on the floor. The picture was a portrait of this universe's version of the Weasley clan, as well as Harriet, all standing by the hearth during Christmas time.
"That's Mom, that's Dad, that's Mina, that's Charlotte, that's Portia, that's Winifred, that's Georgia, that's me, and that's Ginny. And standing next to her is you, of course. Seven daughters, all witches. No wonder Dad went bald early."
Harry laughed. The estrogen overload in the Weasley household had definitely taken it's toll. The female versions of Fred and George for instance were dressed extremely sluttily, "Winifred" cosplaying in a Sailor Moon outfit, and "Georgia" in a form fitting black mini-dress and thigh high black boots. Both were posing mock-flirty to the camera(how their mother let them do that...). "Mina"(which must be Bill, Harry supposed) looked like Tonks with her bright pink hair pulled into two loose pony tails, a nose-ring in addition to the earring that Harry always saw Bill wore in the real world, some animated tattoos, and a tomboyish swagger that fit her Riot Grrrl look. Female Percy looked like a very stern junior librarian, the types you see in soft core pornographic flicks that are seductive little minx's under all that frumpy book wear. "Charlotte" looked pretty normal in comparison; just as Veronica was an older Ginny, Charlotte was an older Veronica.
Molly and Arthur looked pretty much the same as well, though Harry noticed that Arthur looked a tad wrinklier and older than Molly did. A second later, he remembered that wizards have an extended lifespan relative to muggles.
"You stay with us all the time, Harriet. Every Christmas and New Years. My parents would for sure adopt you as one of our own if the Dursley's didn't want to keep you."
"When was this taken? Last Christmas?"
"Why do you have a black eye in the photograph?"
"I got whacked in the face playing Quidditch by Cunt McLaggen."
"Ronnie! What have I told you about calling her that?" demanded Hermione.
"It was a case of friendly fire, I'm sure", drawled Veronica.
"It's gorgeous. I mean...you're gorgeous, and so is everybody else. Do you have any other pictures like this?"
"I've got my family photos somewhere. Accio family scrapbook!"
After exactly ninety-three and a three-quarter seconds, a small meteor comes launching into the Great Hall and heading straight for Veronica. But like a champion quarterback, she catches it easily in her right hand. For crissakes, the force didn't even make her chair tip over!
"Here you go, Harri."
Herbology and Transfiguration were same old, same old, with no changes to the curriculum or geist of either class, Professor's Sprout and McGonagall being virtually identical in personality and temperament to the alt-u Sprout and McGonagall. But DADA surprised Harry. Professor Cushing was indeed a very good teacher, and was also a very spry, badass older gentleman to boot. In many ways, it was like having Batman in class. Not that Harry would know who Batman was, the Dursley's being unimaginative assholes and all. Something had given Harry the impression in class that Professor Cushing would be receptive to Harry's pleas for help that he was trapped where he didn't belong. Harry didn't give into this fairly strong intuition, being Mister Headstrong Tough Guy and all, but it was a feeling that he hadn't gotten over even during supper time.
"Guys, I think I'm going to head for the library for a while. Don't catch up."
Harry Potter put down his fork and fled the Great Hall before either Hermione or Veronica could answer.
"Well, at least you're still the same" said Harry to Madame Pinch.
"Pardon?" asked Pinch, looking up for her inventory of new books.
"I said you're just as great a librarian as ever!"
Harry took a beeline straight to the History section, ready to acquaint himself with the "that was the world that was". Somewhere along the line, Harry felt, he would stumble his way into some answers. His first choice was a book called "Famous Witches Throughout History" by Bathilda Bagshot. Finding a suitable desk to get cozy at, Harry flipped through the index, noticing a good seventy-five percent of the usual suspects, many of them gender-reversed, others omitted since they (presumably) didn't exist here. Dumbledore's biography was on pages 299-309.
Blah blah blah...child prodigy. Blah blah blah, twelve uses for dragon's blood. Blah blah blah...started teaching Transfiguration at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft in 1938. Became Headmistress of Hogwarts in 1956. That last part was somewhat interesting, actually, mused Harry. Harry had never really asked DD about his past, his life in general, or his opinions on things outside of Voldemort. It's almost like he hadn't been real, only an archetype of the wise but eccentric mentor. Merely skimming the official biography, which was mostly dry, he skipped to the Dumbledore Trivia section, titled "Occult Lore..."
"Currently holds the Guinness World Record for drinking the largest malted milkshake on Earth."
"Has a perfect 300 bowling average."
"Favorite book is Nine Princes In Amber by Roger Zelazny."
"Favorite Beatle is Ringo Starr."
"Her name 'Alemeda' is Latin for 'ambitious', which fits perfectly for an alumni of Slytherin House like herself."
"Almeda Dumbledore was honored by the Queen Elizabeth II in the year of our Lord nineteen-sixty-two for defeating the tyrant Gemma Grindelwald, and she takes her title of "Dame" very seriously, to the point that she will insist, when the mood fits her, on being referred to as Dame Dumbledore instead of her given name of Almeda. Do not call her Double D or D-Squared."
For all the hype surrounding Grindelwald, Harry had never learned that much about him. In those rare moments where he paid attention to Professor Binns in class, the old ghost never mentioned anything past nineteenth century goblin politics even once. Harry knew how tradition based the Wizarding World was, but man, did it annoy him sometimes. He flipped through to the index once more, finding the bio of this world's Grindelwald on pages 586-599.
Synopsis: "Taking place in almost perfect synchronicity with the rise of the muggle Italian Fascists, the German Nazi's, the Imperial Japanese, and the corrupt U.S.S.R, Gemma Grindelwald's reign of terror upon the Witching World has yet to be equaled. Committing patricide and shortly afterwords matricide on her parents when she was but eighteen years old, Grindelwald's thirst for dominion over others was practically written in the stars. In fact, it was. Her natal chart is very similar to Adolph Hitler's, with a predisposition towards theatrical will to action and great communicative skills. Gemma Grindelwald was not only a star pupil during her time at the Durmstrang Institute, she founded and headed the entire production of several self-written plays that were well received during her tenure there. If she had stuck with play-writing, we perhaps would not have the eyesore called Nurmengard to pollute our precious green Earth, nor have to recount the horrors of mass fields of bodies choking the...
Harry heard a slight cough coming from two rows down.
"Hermione, I told you not to follow me."
"Sorry. Am I that bad at sneaking up on people?"
Hermione came out of her hiding space and found Harriet huddled over a book. Usually, it was the other way around.
"You're better where I come from. In our third year, you had a Time Turner that you used to take extra classes with, and we never ran into any other time displaced yous even once."
"I remember that!" said Hermione. "I mean, that happened to me, too. I had to stop using the bloody thing since I was developing insomnia. But anyways, Harriet, I came here to tell you that I've scheduled an appointment for you with Headmistress Dumbledore. It's tomorrow night at 8:00 P.M."
"Duh, Harriet. She's the only person who can help you out. She won't reject your story straight of way, and she's the only witch with the resources to do something as advanced as..."
Hermione was struggling to say it, finding the concept ridiculous.
"...as broach parallel universes."
"Yes. It's much easier to believe that your mind has been tampered with, but just in case you're telling the truth, I want to help you get back."
After checking out Famous Witches Throughout History and couple of other books, Harry and Hermione walked back to Gryffindor House.
"So where did all the Fifth years go?" he asked.
"Hogsmeade. They do have Hogsmeade where you're from, right?"
Harry giggled despite himself. "Yes, they have Hogsmeade. When are they getting back?"
"Late Saturday evening. It's an overnight trip, y'know? They're staying at an inn. Ginny is bunking with Michelle Corner from Ravenclaw."
Harry didn't really know Michael Corner real well, so his nerves weren't exactly calmed by that news.
"Is Ginny friends with her?"
"Oh yeah! Michelle is a very sweet girl. You're friends with her too. Er, Harriet is, anyway."
"Does it bother you that I'm really a guy? Y'know, sleeping in the same room as all of you?"
"No. Not at all, Harri."
"It's kind of a relief, really" she added sheepishly.
Harry didn't have the guts to ask Hermione why she blanched when he mentioned Voldemort's name at lunch today, and how she could have known about it. When thinking the events over, he wasn't sure if she even did react suspiciously, or if he was just seeing something there because he wanted to see something. After all, Veronica hadn't reacted to the name at all, and Harry could tell just by her tone of voice(Ron always got nervous when he was lying) that she was genuinely unaware of such a man. Hermione(the "real" one) mentioned once the exact term for seeing patterns in things where there aren't any, but he couldn't remember it(Apophenia, Harry).
Walking past all of the canopy beds like ducks in a row(Lavender Brown, Nerissa Longbottom, Parvati Patil...), Harry eventually discovered the bed he woke up in this morning, where this nightmare all started. Ron was in the bed right next to him, and Hermione was two beds down, in between Danu Finnigan and Deanna Thomas.
"Ronnie snores just like Ron does."
"She's such a boy sometimes" whispered Hermione, grinning.
"Well, g'night, 'Mione."
"Good night, Harry. I hope you find what you're looking for."
When Harry Potter awoke the next morning, he noticed the sun filtering through his bedpost blinds. Harry was excited at the prospect of yesterday's gender bending unadventure merely being all just some very, very weird, possibly potion induced dream. "I'm going to have that attempted rapist Romilda Vane arrested when I'm done with Voldemort..." Or at least he felt the possibility existed that he slided back into the real world. Yesterday he fell down the Rabbit Hole, like Alice, and last night he climbed back up from it. Things like that were known to happen in the Wizarding World. People just...disappeared, and reappeared randomly, at least twice a year, talking about unusual places that couldn't possibly be real.
He reached back and felt felt his hair. Still long and thick. Damn it. And he could still feel his breasts underneath the covers.
Getting dressed was less of a hassle(not mention less freaky) than yesterday. He was getting better oriented with Harriet's body and all of it's quirks, what with being slightly shorter, having a weight on his chest, and a lack of anchor between his legs. It was still foreign to Harry, but less alien. All in all, when he thought about it, he had handled waking up in some strange girl's body in a parallel universe better than he thought he would have. If you had told Harry what was going to happen to him three days ago, on top of all of the other pressures of being the Boy Who Lived, Harry would've bet on black that his mind would crack.
"I guess I'm tougher than I give myself credit for" he whispered to himself.
Yes, Harry thinks out loud. Do you have a problem with that?
Harry thought up six things more impossible than his current predicament before breakfast. When he finally decided to go, however, he was hankering for some pancakes.
"Elves, you know me just fine" he said to no one in particular as he sat down next to Hermione and Veronica and found just what he was looking for, alongside some blueberry's and robin's eggs.
The owls flew in from the Owlery, delivering everyone's morning mail. Veronica's mom and dad sent her a letter, some extra spending money just in case, and some leftover cake from a friend's birthday party they just went to. Hermione also got a letter, a first edition of Moby-Dick, and some dental floss.
Harry received a postcard from the Dursley's, who were on vacation in Hawaii. Vernon's and Dudley's buddha bellies were overhanging their swim trunks, and Petunia was suffering a bad sun burn due to her pale complexion. Stamped on top of their photograph was a message in blood red ink:
"Glad You're Not Here."
Harry promptly ripped up the postcard into little pieces.
A second letter was enveloped in parchment, with a wax seal.
Just a gentle reminder of our appointment tonight in my office. 8:00 P.M sharp.
Harry faced the teacher's table, seeing Dumbledore's armor piercing, brain and heart melting smile directly pointed at him.
He noticed that Malfoy wasn't present, so he figured she must still be in the infirmary. Another topping on his sundae.
Classes were once again, same ole', same ole', so let's just skip them. By some happenstance, Harry's flying potion ended up working just fine, although it tasted horrible. Harry wondered how that could be when it hadn't been completed, but there you go. Harry suspected an inside job. Maybe Dumbledore, the Good Witch of the North, pressured Snape, the Wicked Witch of the Who Knows Where, to cook one up for Harriet in secret and let bygones be bygones. At least he hoped so, because that's about as nice as either Snape could or would ever be.
Just after dinner, Harry's euphoria subsided, and he broke down again, just in time for his appointment with Madame Dumbledore.
Harry opened the door to find himself in an exact duplicate of the male Dumbledore's office. All of the silver instruments cluttering Headmistress Dumbledore's tables were things that Harry immediately recalled cluttering the male Dumbledore's desk back home. That silver spinny thing, and oh! That silver whoosing thing! He recognized too the spitting image of Fawkes the phoenix sitting in the corner humming cheerfully to himself. Harry smiled. The innocence of animals was one proof that innocence
did exist, and that he had a reason to wake up every morning. Dumbledore herself was sitting with her back to the wall, observing everything with a calm majesty(one might be tempted to call Dumbledore "stoic", but there was too much sense of an unconscious grin on her face).
"Miss Potter, I'm so glad you could take the time to see me. Your wise friend Miss Granger of course told me about the memories you have, believing that you are...how should I put it...displaced?"
"Y-yes" stuttered Harry, sitting down in the comfortable chintz chair that was facing Dumbledore. She really was gorgeous, for an older gal anyway.
"Well, for one thing, I'm not a girl. And neither are you. And neither are many of the people who go to Hogwarts. I woke up yesterday morning this way. But ever since I was born, I've always been Harry James Potter. My parents were James and Lily Potter. You're name is Albus Dumbledore. I have lots of acquaintances, few friends. The folks I had died when I was a baby, a one year old, by a Dark Wizard named Voldemort. But when I woke up, it turns out that the guy is actually a muggle! And he's not all ugly and snakefaced like he usually is! And everyone everywhere else is different! The only thing I can think of is that I slipped into an alternate universe or something. This is my body, this isn't my life, this isn't..."
Harry stopped once he heard his voice shaking. He didn't want to cry in front of this woman. She didn't come across as cold or uncaring(the opposite really, she radiated compassion), but Harry didn't want to be locked up or thought to be a nutcase like Luna Lovegood was. Before today, Harry had never even considered that multiple worlds like his, albeit with little differences here and there, could possibly exist for real. It was quite overwhelming.
"Harriet, I give you my solemn word that none of this will be held against you. You're not going to go to St. Wendelin's any time soon. I know you aren't lying. I just want to be present to everything you can tell me. Is there anything else you'd like to share with me? Is there anything out of the ordinary that happened? You say this happened when you woke up. Would it be rude for me to ask what happened before you went to bed?"
"No. I can't remember anything unusual."
"Had you been reading anything, perhaps a science fiction book, regarding similar subject matter?"
"I...I was reading an old issue of The Flash before I went to bed."
"Ah...would the issue you were reading perchance be the classic Flash Of Two Worlds story?"
"And was this issue yours?"
"No. Ron Weasley, my friend, he gave it to me. He let me borrow it. His older brother Bill smuggled it to him from a comics shop in Dublin when he stopped by their house."
"When you say "Ron", you do mean your friend, Miss Weasley?"
"No, I mean my friend, my real friend, Ron Weasley! He and Veronica are essentially the same person, their sexes are just reversed. But just because that's true, Veronica's not necessarily my friend. I only met the girl today!"
Dame Dumbledore tilted her head melodramatically to one side, as if Harry/Harriet were an exotic creature she found in the forest. Or perhaps a very unique knitting pattern. Harry felt a slight tugging situation going on in his brain, not dissimilar to the pains he got from his scar, but not as painful. Uncomfortable, like when a dentist is working on your teeth. When she seemed satisfied with her analysis, Dumbledore titled her head back to it's normal inclination. A small tear could be found in the crevice of her right eye.
"Oh crap, she just read my mind!" thought Harry to himself.
"Yes, Harry, I did. And I'm so sorry about your life. I won't lie to you about my habitable invasion of privacy, or anything else you might object to in the future. Ever. I know you're telling the truth now. How very interesting."
"Headmistress, are you OK?"
"Yes, I'm fine. It's just...how profoundly sad your life is, Harry Potter. If I ever find myself in the same room as the male Dumbledore, I would have more than a few choice words with him. How he manipulated you. How close you came to dying all those many times. We of course have evil witches here, but if your memories are correct about Voldemort, thank the gods thank that the Tom Riddle we have can't use magic."
"I will never tell a lie to you, Harry. Would you like to shake on it?"
Dame Dumbledore extended her hand. Harry noticed that she had many differently carved rings on her fingers with either runes or gemstones adorning them, and a strange looking bracelet on her wrist.
"Is this an Unbreakable Vow?" asked Harry. "Don't we need a witness for that?"
"Of course, if it will make you feel better. Fawkes, come here please..."
"You're not going to have Fawkes be the Bonder, are you?"
Dame Dumbledore laughed. It was a rich and fruity bellow, not unlike that of a hobbit.
"What gives you that idea, Harry?"
Harry sighed in relief.
"Sorry! You see, back in my world, Dumbledore had a reputation that he's gone a bit mad in his golden years, and I..."
Dame Dumbledore cut him off.
"No Harriet, what gives you the idea that Fawkes isn't a reliable Bonder?"
"My dear girl, Fawkes is the most trustworthy person that I have ever known. If human beings are corrupt and fallen, and lions are lazy, and snakes are evil, and owls are pretentious snobs, what does that make the noble phoenix?"
"Er...noble?" replied a slightly squirming Harry.
"Yes! Yes, indeed! Phoenix's are immortal. They have seen everything, they have had many masters, they know more than us. They are above the ramshackle riff raff adorning the human condition. They care naught for our politics, our lives, or our souls. They are the true neutral."
"But...er, he doesn't have a wand."
Dame Dumbledore laughed once more.
"They don't need one! Now come here, Harriet, and let us hold hands."
Fawkes produced a loud rhythmic noise. Two ropes made up of thin golden strands of pure magic began to tie themselves around both Dame Dumbledore's and Harriet's outstretched paws.
"I...I can't" said Harry, letting go of Dame Dumbledore's hand and thus breaking the spell.
"I've learned that sometimes a man has to have secrets. He can't be completely honest, or else he'll be too predictable."
"Very well, Harry. I understand. And it's understandable you don't trust me. You don't trust the other Dumbledore. I assure that I'm nothing like him. Or any other wizard you've encountered."
Dame Dumbledore steepled her long, bony piano fingers on her cluttered desk.
"Harry, would you humor an old witch and listen to her prattle on about history? I promise to not be any more boring than Professor Binns."
"OK, sure. Shoot."
Harry began to learn that contrary to his own world, this world's magical population wasn't centered around absolute secrecy. Witches, fantastic beasts, Azkaban, and illnesses that could only be caused by(and cured by) magic were all well known, if not to the general public, to the Muggle governments worldwide for a long, long time. The Muggles and the Witches(and their families) were all free to be in contact with one another without fear of getting persecuted or Obliviated, and there was serious political cooperation between the two camps in many respects. For example, Muggle men who were married to witches, as well as any son or father of a witch, was allowed to participate as an equal in the Witching World's form of government, and they as well as any male or female squib could get any job that they wanted outside of government(and witches could get most jobs in the Muggle world so long as they surrendered theirs wands until the workday's completion). There were many magical barriers and laws put in put place designed to protect muggle rights, and vice versa. But here's the rub: just like in Harry's universe, the concept of blood purity as well as bigotry against magicals existed in rampant, disgusting amounts.
On one hand, many witches resented having to be seen as equals, not just because of the obvious power differential between them and ordinary folk, but also because they saw men(the "lesser sex") as being a corrupting influence. Radical Feminism had been established and deeply rooted within the Witching World centuries before Muggle women ever thought of it thanks to the achievements of the Four Founders. Although this had a mostly positive effect, there were some negative side effects. Various cults embellished the Founders as goddesses of magic, denying the mountain of historical and archeological evidence that there had been male wizards at some point in time. Some witches even went as far as to suggest that Merlin was a woman. According to these anti-intellectuals peddling pseudo-history, Geoffrey of Monmouth's misogyny and privilege prevented him from recognizing the talents of a female. Not that this made any sense on any level(the very flattering portrait of Morgan le Fay in the Vita Merlini would discredit it alone), but it was a popular belief.
On the other hand were a multitude of hateful Muggles. Among these legion were the typical religious nuts who thought that magical women and their families were allowing Lucifer into their hearts, the fearful paranoid who felt intensely threatened by witches and their powers, and last and definitely least, the plain vanilla bigots who thought that anything out of the ordinary was "freakish" and/or "stupid"(among many other, more offensive slurs). They too had their "theories" about the nature of magic and magical people, thereby obstructing any real science from being done, and therefore any real understanding. Ain't humanity grand?
"But how did the public find out?"
"How else? We told them. We're not the same as where you're from Harry Potter. We don't Obliviate people unless we have to. Muggles have the same right to hate us as we do to not care about it."
"But what about my parents? And how will I get back home? Hermione said you're the only one who could help me!"
"Well, Harry, I..."
Harry returned to Gryffindor tower to find a large conundrum of Fifth Years back from their trip to Hogsmeade. In the gaggle of new faces, many of which Harry didn't recognize, he some someone he definitely did.
Ginny ran straight towards Harry, nearly knocking his skinny, girly frame over, gave him a big sloppy hug, and began to kiss him. A kiss which soon applied for citizenship to France.
"Whoh, coming on a little strong there, Ginny."
"What do you mean, Harriet? You're my girlfriend. That's what we do."