To Walk a Mile in Your Shoes
By: Haley J. The Bat
Pairing(s): Hermione/Ron, Harry/Gin friendship
Summary: Harry and Ginny decide that in order for Ron and Hermione to understand each other, they need to see what it's like to be the other. Meanwhile Ron and Hermione have no idea why they woke up in a body decidedly not their own.
* * * * *
Hermione slammed her books onto the coffee table, eyes blazing. "I will take this no longer, Ron Weasley. I'm leaving!" she announced vehemently.
Ron shrugged carelessly, but his eyes were a fiery blue. "Good! Maybe a little time without your constant nagging will do Harry and me some good!"
Hermione's eyes swept over to Harry accusingly. Harry shook his head and put his hands up in the air in an act of innocence. "Don't bring me into this," he pleaded.
Hermione looked mortally wounded as she whirled around and fled the common room, the echoing sound of her stomping feet on the stairs making Harry wince.
"Now look what you did, Harry," Ron said sullenly after a moment. "I was going to copy off her Transfiguration homework."
Harry gaped at Ron disbelievingly as the latter gathered his books. "Wh-what?" he finally managed to stutter just as Ron was following Hermione's suit and retreating to his dormitory. Ron ignored Harry's weak protest.
Harry shook his head as if to clear his head of the incredulity he was feeling. He couldn't even remember what Ron and Hermione had been fighting about!
Harry studied alone for awhile, internally fuming. How could Ron and Hermione get along so well one second, then let a row flare up before anyone knew what was upon them? And why was he usually the one who was blamed for the arguments?
Unable to come up with a logical explanation, Harry finished up the last paragraph on his Divination homework.
Startled, he looked up as a chocolate frog was tossed onto the parchment laid out in front of him. Picking it up slowly, Harry looked up to see Ginny Weasley standing nervously a few feet away. "What's this for?" Harry asked quietly; he fingered the wrapper of the chocolate thoughtfully.
"I saw the fight," Ginny explained uncomfortably. "I know how annoying Ron can be, and I thought you needed to be cheered up."
Harry nodded, unsure of what to say. Ginny quickly turned away, intent on going back to her friends. Harry wasn't sure why, but, without realizing what he was doing, he blurted out, "Ginny, wait!" Ginny turned around curiously, and Harry blushed. "I mean . . . I can help you with your homework. If you want, that is."
Ginny nodded slowly. "If you don't mind?" she asked uncertainly.
Harry shook his head reassuringly. "No. I'd enjoy company. Just as long as you can promise me a fight-free evening."
"That I can guarantee. I don't make it a habit to fight with myself." Ginny smiled shyly. "Let me go get my things."
Harry felt odd at his rash behavior, but he was glad to have someone to talk to. Though he wouldn't trade his friends in for the world, and he felt he could talk to them about almost anything, sometimes he just needed to get away. After all, who was he to turn to when it was Ron and Hermione who were troubling him? Why he chose Ginny for this job, he wasn't sure. Perhaps because he felt a kindred spirit in her. They had so much in common. Sometimes, when Harry met her eyes across the room or hall, he felt like she just understood.
Ginny came back a few seconds later, interrupting his train of pondering. With a self-conscious blush, she plopped down across from him, settling on the floor. She managed to carefully and efficiently avoid his eyes.
Harry suddenly felt like everyone in the common room was staring at him. He fumbled with the wrapper of his chocolate frog. Once open, he split the candy in half and offered a piece to Ginny.
They chewed in silence, but after an awkward moment, Ginny spoke. "You can vent about them to me, you know."
"Huh?" Harry said stupidly.
Ginny furrowed her brow together in confusion. "That is why you invited me over, isn't it? To talk about them."
Harry pushed aside his surprise at her perceptiveness. "Er . . . yes, I suppose," he said awkwardly. To be honest, he wasn't quite sure himself why he'd invited her over. "I don't know what you want me to say though."
"You don't need to say anything," Ginny clarified. "But if you need to talk, I'm here. I know that we aren't very close, but . . . you know."
Harry nodded, understanding without quite knowing what they were discussing. "Yes, I know. I appreciate it."
Because it seemed right, both stopped talking, focusing on their studies for a time. Harry couldn't get the itchy feeling out of his system, and before he knew it he was talking, saying things he'd never voiced aloud to anyone before. And it didn't seem weird at all. "Sometimes it gets to be too much. Especially lately. I can't even remember the last time they went a day without fighting! When they're not arguing, they're not speaking, and everything is always so tense. I feel like I'm walking on egg shells around them."
Ginny nodded sympathetically. The tip of her quill was resting against the corner of her mouth as she avidly paid attention. "I'll bet it puts a big strain on you. I can always tell. You're eyes tell more about you than words."
Harry brought a hand up to touch his glasses subconsciously. "I don't think it's because they truly dislike each other. Sometimes they can act closer than two peas in a pod. It's just that they don't understand each other."
Ginny turned his words over in her mind for a moment. As she thought, her eyes grew brighter and more excited. "What if were able to make them understand one and other?"
"I've lived on the edge long enough to recognize that look." Harry groaned softly. "What kind of a plan have you got in mind?"
Ginny pointed her quill at the parchment she'd been writing on. "In Transfiguration we've been touching briefly on the idea of switching from one body to another."
Harry nodded, her idea instantly clear to him. "We could use it on Ron and Hermione. I think I remember the spell you're talking about. Is it safe?"
"Completely," Ginny assured him. Her lips curved into a brilliant smile as she realized that Harry liked her plan. Harry thought uncomfortably that in that moment she was a very pretty girl. "We'll pretend we know nothing. After a few days, they might very well come to an understanding."
"It's brilliant!" Harry exclaimed, unable to contain his excitement. "When can we do this?"
Ginny ruffled through some of her papers. "I have the incantation here. The details should be with it."
Harry quickly scanned the parchment she offered him. When he was done reading, he was convinced. As his eyes met Ginny's, he spoke. "I'm ready when you are."
* * * * *
Ron resisted the morning for as long as he could. Usually Harry woke him up, but this morning an awful chatter was invading his blissful sleep. The worst part was that it sounded like Lavender and Parvati. This must be a nightmare if he was waking up to their voices.
Ron blinked a few times, squeezing his eyes and re-opening them in an attempt to see through the fog that blurred his vision. Suddenly the curtains were thrown aside, and a blinding light hit his eyes directly.
"Wake up, Hermione, breakfast has been going on for an hour already," Lavender said, suddenly appearing before him.
Ron leapt forward in bed, looking around him wildly. These weren't his dorms; weren't his flat mates; and one exploring hand informed him that this wasn't his body either. His mind overwhelmed by all of this new and unfeasible information, he opened his mouth and let out a scream.
The scream echoing in his ears was very feminine and oddly familiar, but he wasn't exactly dwelling on the sound of his voice at a time like that.
* * * * *
On the opposite side of the Gryffindor tower, Hermione was just waking up. Her eyes snapped open alertly, and she knew instinctively that she'd woken up late. In a panic that only she could create under the circumstances, she was out of bed in a flash and fumbling around her bed for the clothes she laid out carefully every night.
The curtains swung open to reveal Harry, looking at her suspiciously. Like he should be the one looking suspicious! What was he doing in the girls' dorms? "Ron, are you all right? I don't think you've ever woken up this early in five years."
Hermione's eyes widened in astonishment. "Ron?" she cried out, affronted. "Well, I never!" She gasped and clasped a hand over her mouth. The voice that had come out was gruff, deep, and owned by none other than Ronald Weasley.
"Are you okay?" Harry asked, his concern so deep he almost looked like he was faking it.
Hermione ignored him, looking down at her body. Long, lanky, freckled . . . She looked around her dorm. It was a pit! Shock took over her. She wasn't quite sure what was happening, and this never happened to Hermione Granger! Was this a dream? No, it couldn't be. When you were dreaming, you didn't know you were dreaming. Besides, she'd lived at Hogwarts long enough to expect the unexpected. But this was just ridiculous!
Out of nowhere, a piercing scream filtered through the air. "That's my voice!" Hermione cried out. Before Harry could say anything, she was running out of their dormitory. As she was racing down the stairs, she ran smack into . . . herself.
She stared at the imposter Hermione and screamed. Without thinking about it, she started slapping the body, trying to make it collapse into thin air or something. The imposter started hitting her right back.
Harry was there in a flash. He pulled them apart from one and other. "Ron, Hermione! What in the devil are you doing?" he demanded. "I know you're angry at each other, but this is just plain childish! Even for you."
"Harry," the imposter Hermione said, "you have to understand that there is something seriously wrong here." She gulped and pointed at Hermione. "That's me!"
Harry looked at her as if she was crazy. "What?"
Hermione had sudden intuition. "Ron?" she said softly, wonderingly.
The imposter looked at her. "Hermione?" it asked in disbelief.
"Yes, those are you're names," Harry encouraged, looking overwhelmed.
Hermione, using Ron's body, patted Harry. He jerked back as if in pain. She'd have to learn to control these awful limbs of Ron's. "You go on down to breakfast. I want to talk to . . . er . . . Hermione."
"Are you sure?" Harry asked, looking concerned as he contemplated her offer.
"We're fine," Ron supplied. He was using her voice, and the sound was unnerving.
"All right then." Harry shrugged and walked the rest of the way down the staircase and into the common room. Once they heard the portrait shut behind Harry, Hermione grabbed Ron and dragged him down the stairs. She dragged him further until they were safely in the privacy underneath the stairs.
"Ow! Stop it . . . you," Ron said, rubbing his arm where she'd grabbed him.
"Well, I'm sorry if I can't control these things," Hermione snapped, thrusting the arms of Ron's body out in front of her. "How you do it, I'll never know."
Ron stared at her for a moment. "This is weird."
"You think?" Hermione rolled her eyes. "I'm seeing me."
"I'm seeing me," Ron added. "And you're talking too feminine."
"You're talking too masculine," Hermione informed him. She closed her eyes briefly. "There's not time for this. We need to find out what happened."
"I think it's pretty obvious," Ron scoffed. "You're me, and I'm you."
"How?" Hermione asked.
Ron shrugged. "How am I supposed to know? You're the smart one!"
Hermione shot him a look. "Things like this don't just happen. Not even at Hogwarts. Did you drink anything odd last night?"
"I drank the same thing I always drink," Ron said, annoyed. "Pumpkin juice."
"Why would anyone want to do this anyway?" Hermione asked aloud.
Ron looked down at his dressing gown. He put a hand on his stomach and ran it up the body he was in. He looked up at her with a grin. "I'm starting to think this isn't so bad."
Hermione slapped his arm. "Get yourself off my body!" she said, eyes deadly.
"It's my body," Ron replied.
"You may be in it, but I still own it," Hermione corrected. "Stop touching me!"
"Don't worry. I'll let you touch my body, too. Go ahead."
"I don't want to touch you! You're disgusting. Get off me!"
"Are you guys okay?"
Hermione and Ron jumped at the sudden intrusion. Ginny was standing in front of them, hands on her hips, looking like she was trying to keep from smirking. "What are you guys talking about?"
Hermione felt the tips of her ears burn. "Nothing, Ginny," she said sweetly.
"Get out," Ron snapped. "Go swoon over Harry or something."
Ginny looked at him oddly. "Hermione?" she asked softly.
"No, it's Ron," Ron said. He kept his voice bitingly sarcastic.
"You're acting strangely," Ginny said, backing up slightly. "But before I leave, I have a bit of advice."
"Yes?" Hermione asked nicely, shooting Ron a dirty look for being so rude.
"Don't talk about touching each other like that when Fred and George can hear you," Ginny said simply before turning around and leaving.
Hermione caught Ron's eyes. "She's right, you know," Ron pointed out.
Hermione sighed; the brief encounter with Ron's sister had brought her back to reality. "I know. Look, this is really weird, I'll give you that. But I'm not going to be late to class for this. Go get ready and we'll go down together."
Ron looked altogether too happy about getting dressed.
Hermione realized what she'd done. "Oh, no, mister. I don't trust you alone with me. I'm going to dress you. Or rather, I'm going to dress me."
"I won't do anything," Ron said innocently.
Hermione gave him a rather harsh look, and he shut up. She found it amusing to watch the way her lower lip stuck out in a pout. The childish gesture usually found on Ron's body seemed oddly out of place on her own features.
Hermione and Ron marched up the stairs to the girls' dormitory first. To Hermione's immense displeasure, Lavender was still in their room. She was hunting through the mess she'd made a week after they moved in for the fifth year.
Lavender looked up and was about to say something to Ron, who she thought was Hermione, but she froze when she recognized whom she thought was Ron behind her roomie. A slow smile spread over her face. "What are you two doing?" she asked mock sternly. "Shouldn't you be at breakfast?"
Ron made a face and snorted. "Do you think I'd ever . . .?" he trailed off, realizing that venturing further into that sentence while Hermione was in power of his large body was suicide. Plain and simple.
Lavender ignored Ron's protest, obviously disregarding it. "Have you seen my Transfiguration book? I can't seem to find it."
Ron shrugged. Hermione answered, "It's in the common room by the fireplace."
"Thanks, Ron," Lavender said. She twirled around as she turned to leave, gave Ron a big, obvious wink. "You two have fun. Skip our first class if you're feeling frisky."
"Lavender!" Hermione shrieked. This was a very hard task to accomplish with Ron's deep voice. Lavender looked at her strangely before leaving for good. Her pounding feet on the stairs were a last punctuation to her words.
Ron snorted; the unladylike act did nothing for Hermione's face, she realized. "Somebody ought to put her in her place."
"I've tried. It doesn't work though. When you insult her, she's too air headed to get it," Hermione muttered.
"Really?" Ron looked thoughtful. "I always thought she'd be one to bite back."
"She hasn't the brains," Hermione said irritably. "Get dressed now. I don't want to be late for class. Especially not when Lavender will tell the whole class that we were getting frisky."
Ron shrugged. He started to unbutton the dressing gown, but Hermione quickly covered his hand. "Close your eyes, Ron."
Ron gave her a long, hard look before following orders. He shut his eyes firmly and stripped down completely. Hermione reached into her chest to pull out the clothes she'd intended for the day. As she handed him her panties and such, she froze for a second to look down at her body. (Or, rather, Ron's body.)
"Oh, gross, Ron!"
"What?" Ron snapped his eyes open immediately.
Hermione pointed to the trousers she was wearing. "Look at what your body is doing!"
Ron blushed slightly. "Sorry," he said sheepishly. "It's a natural reaction."
Hermione felt sick. "Not when it's me . . . looking at . . . myself!."
Ron shrugged as he buttoned up the white blouse he'd been handed. "I guess this is a little odd," he admitted.
"A little odd?" Hermione shot him a look of contempt. "This is the most bizarre thing that's ever happened to me! Not to mention the most atrocious. I'm in a male body. Not just any body either, but yours. And you, my dear friend, are in my body. And you're being quite a pervert about it, too."
"I'm not the one with the hard on." Ron crossed his arms across his chest defiantly. "I'm not a pervert either! I was just curious."
"You can stay that way forever for all I care," Hermione said airily.
"What is it?" Hermione demanded.
"You," he replied, pointing. "It's funny to hear something you'd say coming out of my body." He shook his head. "If every guy we meet today doesn't think I'm gay with the way you're holding that body up, it'll be a sheer miracle."
"You don't even care?" Hermione said shrilly. "You don't even care about what's happening here! You're acting like nothing is out of the ordinary."
Ron scowled, annoyed. "I was trying to bring a little humor into the situation, Hermione."
"I don't find it humorous."
"Then you can just leave then. Go to the library and find a cure for us while I go to class for you."
The offer was tempting. "No," she finally decided. "It's probably just a joke someone is playing on us. It'll wear off in time."
* * * * *
By lunch, Hermione was eating her words. The beginning of the day had been hard to get used to. She raised her hand for the answers several times, unable to resist. Harry had looked at her oddly. Then he looked at Ron oddly because he wasn't raising his hand. It was confusing enough when it happened, but thinking about it was worse. Hermione didn't know whether to call Ron Hermione or his own name. She was just as confused about herself.
When they sat down in the Great Hall, there was always a certain order to things. Harry and Ron sat side by side, and Hermione sat across from them. Harry looked at them strangely when, to him, he saw Ron sit across from him and Hermione next to him.
"You two have been acting peculiar all morning," Harry said.
Ron started piling food on his plate. Hermione put a select few choices in moderate servings onto hers. "I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about, Harry," she said as though he was the one that was acting odd.
Harry looked at Ron. His plate was covered in food, and he was quickly devouring it. "For Merlin's sake, Hermione!" he cried out.
Ron looked up, half a piece of chicken in his mouth. He quickly swallowed. "What?" he asked, looking from Harry to Hermione in confusion. "What did I do?"
"You're eating like a madman," Hermione said simply. She picked up her fork and took a delicate bite of her potatoes. "Have you any manners?"
"Ron?" Harry asked carefully, looking at Hermione suspiciously.
"You're talking like a girl again," Ron said blatantly.
"Well, I'm sorry," Hermione said huffily. "You sound like a boy! And you're not doing anything the right way at all."
"That's not my bloody fault," Ron said angrily.
"Don't curse, Ronald!" Hermione shrieked at him.
Harry put a hand out to block their deadly gazes at each other. "Can I make something clear?" He waited for their nods. "You are Hermione," he pointed at Ron. "And you are Ron," he pointed at Hermione. He put his hands up as if in surrender at their glares. "Just in case you're confused."
"I'm not confused," Ron said sullenly. He went back to eating. This time Hermione didn't reproach him, and he didn't offer to banter anymore either.
"Did you get your Transfiguration homework done last night?" Hermione asked Harry.
Harry shook his head. "No, Ron. I'm not going to let you copy. If you and Hermione hadn't been fighting, you could have gotten it done yourself."
"Me?" Hermione asked in disbelief. "Cheat?"
Harry snickered. "Yeah. Right. Just ask Hermione." He jabbed his thumb at Ron.
Ron stopped eating. He swallowed obviously, making Hermione wince. "Yup," he said, his mouth still filled with food. "You cheat all the time, Ronald."
Hermione's eyes flashed at him. "Yes, I know. It's my way of being lazy. I'd much rather play chess than to do my schoolwork. After all, you're always there if I get in a fix."
Ron's jaw dropped. "Hey!"
Hermione shrugged. "It's true."
"Well, I spent my life reading books and studying because I couldn't make any friends. And I've gotten so much into the habit that I don't see any point in stopping now."
It looked like Harry was laughing. Hermione ignored him, too focused on getting Ron back. "I get jealous over ugly seekers who can't even pronounce your name right!"
"And I date the enemy!"
"I can't believe you brought that up!"
"You're the one who brought it up!"
There was no doubt about it, Harry was definitely laughing. Hermione stood up in a huff. "Thank you for your support, Harry," she snapped sarcastically.
"Yeah, thank you," Ron echoed snottily, standing up as well. They both left the Great Hall, careful not to walk next to each other.
Harry raised his eyebrows. Even now he managed to get blamed for it all. He shrugged and took a bite of his lunch. That little interlude had been worth it. His stomach had been in stitches, he was laughing so hard.
* * * * *
"Quit following me!" Hermione growled at Ron as they reached the hallway that led to Gryffindor tower.
"I'm not following you - you're following me," he replied stubbornly.
Hermione marched up to the Fat Lady and spat out the password. The Fat Lady gasped as the portrait swept aside to reveal the entryway. "Well, I never . . ."
Hermione scrambled inside, closely followed at the heals by Ron. She started to march up the girls staircase.
"What are you doing?"
Hermione looked up to see a second year named Kelli looking at her with wide eyes. She sighed, remembering who's body she was in, and muttered, "Nothing." She turned around and walked back into the common room.
"Stop being a pervert, Ron," Ron said mockingly, having watched the scene.
Hermione took three long strides, then she stood right in front of him. She was looming over her own small frame, and she was infuriated when she discovered that being tall was as enjoyable as she had always suspected it to be. She poked Ron's shoulder. "We've been over this, darling. You are the only pervert around here."
"I'm not the one trying-"
"Oh, stop it, Ron!" Hermione burst out. "Look, let's just go to the library and start looking for something to put a stop to this. I can't deal with it any longer!"
Ron stared at her defiantly. Then he reluctantly nodded. "All right."
Hermione turned when she heard someone bounding down the stairs. Dean came and clapped her on the back. "What are you doing, Ron? You've got to put your robes on for Quidditch. Fifteen minutes." He waved at Hermione and left the common room.
Hermione slowly looked at Ron in horror. "Ron!"
"I can't fly!" she hissed. "What am I going to do?"
"I don't know."
"I'll say I'm sick."
"No, you won't!" Ron fiercely grabbed onto her wrist. "If I don't go to practice tonight, I miss out on the game against Ravenclaw."
Hermione tried to yank her hand away, but Ron dug his nails into her skin. She bit back a yelp. "I can't do this! We've got to fix the problem in the next fifteen minutes, or you're missing your Quidditch game."
Ron's eyes flashed. "That's impossible, and you know it." He crossed his arms. "And if you don't go to the Quidditch match . . . then I won't turn in your homework for you! And I'll talk back to the teachers!"
"Ron!" She stared defiantly into his eyes, but she knew that Ron wasn't bluffing. Then she sighed. "If you want me to make a complete fool of you, then by all means."
"Good," Ron grumbled. He clasped her arm and led her up the boys' staircase. "Now let's get you ready for a night we're sure to never forget."
* * * * *
Ron sat in the stands as the team began to gather for a pep talk. He couldn't say he wasn't thrilled to miss it. Katie could sure be scary when she wanted.
Ron sighed and rested his chin in his hand as he watched the team go to their broomsticks. He kept his eyes steady on Hermione and let out a groan when she tripped and fell to the ground. The rest of the team laughed, and he could see her blush from all the way up in the stands.
Everyone else got their brooms up and were starting to take off without pausing to think. Hermione, however, was angrily putting a hand out and yelling, "Up!" Like she had all those years ago in first year. A blush crept up his own cheeks as he wondered what the team would think of him. Maybe sending Hermione out there was a bad idea.
Then a miracle happened. The broom swept up suddenly . . . and hit Hermione in the nose. She cried out and clutched a hand to her nose, but it didn't look like it drew any blood. Ron thanked Merlin as she scooted onto the broom and started to shakily fly up to the rest of his team.
Nobody seemed to be laughing, but he heard Katie's unmistakable voice yell, "What in the bleeding hell do you think you're doing, Weasley?"
"It's all right, Katie," one of the twins yelled.
"Yeah. He's just distracted because Hermione's in the stands," the other one taunted.
Ron watched as Hermione spluttered, unable to think of a response. The twins grinned at each other, and the game began.
Ron dropped his head into his hands. She was right - she was going to make an utter fool out of him.
Ron looked down at his robes, suddenly realizing that he was alone for once . . . in Hermione's body. A wicked grin spread across his face. What oh what should this fifteen-year-old boy do?
He pulled the robe open and spent a very long time studying Hermione's chest. He hadn't had an opportunity like this in . . . well, he'd never had an opportunity like this. He blushed as he remembered those few times when he'd been enraptured by Hermione's features that had seemed to spring up over the summer. Harry had caught him two times, and Hermione had looked up the remaining times.
Ron looked back up at the practice, feeling a funny queasy feeling in his stomach. He didn't feel right about looking at Hermione when she wasn't there. Yeah, yeah, he'd teased her about it earlier . . . but she had clearly wanted him to stop. He felt like he was betraying her if he looked while she was gone.
The practice went on for an hour, and Ron decided it was the longest hour of his life. He figured if he felt that way, there was no telling what kind of mood Hermione would be in. He went down to the field just as Katie was finishing up her after-practice speech. Everyone headed to the showers except Hermione.
Ron walked up to her and patted her back. "You did okay."
Hermione whirled around and glared. "Okay?" she screeched as quietly as she could manage in Ron's deep voice. "Ron, that was possibly the lowest point of my life up there! And you'd better believe we are finding out how to fix this before Saturday. I am not playing Quidditch against Ravenclaw!"
"You'd better believe you're not!" Ron shot back. "You think I'd let you?" He shook his head and took her wrist. "Come on, let's go back to Gryffindor Tower. You are not taking a shower with all of my male teammates."
Hermione snorted but followed him. "I think I'd be more trustworthy than you taking a shower with a bunch of girls. Who knows what they'd think of me afterwards . . ."
They walked up to the school together - Hermione smelling very badly. Ron began to understand why she always yelled at him if he didn't take a shower after practice and tried to hold a conversation with her. It wasn't his fault . . . she should try flying in thick Quidditch robes. Ron smiled at the irony: she already had.
"I'll take a shower while you wait in the common room," Hermione said. "It's a good thing we can use the Prefects bathroom. I won't have to risk running into anyone." The tips of her ears turned bright red, and it suddenly struck Ron just how odd it was to think of Hermione as himself.
"Oh, come on," he teased. "You're fifteen - you know about the male anatomy."
Hermione took in a sharp breath. "Ron!"
Ron chuckled. "Just come up into my dorm, and I'll show you where all of my stuff is."
"People will . . . talk," she whispered furtively.
"They're probably already talking, Mione. You saw the looks people gave us when we came back after I got you ready for Quidditch. And Lavender saw us up in your dorm yesterday."
"I just thank Merlin that your brothers aren't in the common room," she muttered.
"You and me both." They arrived at the painting, and Ron gave the fat lady the Gryffindor password.
They stepped into the common room, and Ginny bounded up a second later. She shot Hermione a look. "Er, Hermione . . . can I talk to you alone?" she asked, looking at Ron.
Ron was about to tell her that he wasn't Hermione, but then he remembered. "Er . . . yeah. Er . . . can you wait a second?"
Ginny nodded, biting her lip. "It's important though."
"I just need to show him something upstairs," Hermione said kindly.
Ron caught her blunder and arched an eyebrow. "Him?" he sniffed. "And, Ron, you make it sound like what you have to show me is . . . well . . ." She smiled.
Hermione blushed again. "Er . . ." She glanced at Ginny. "I didn't mean it like that. I . . . have a book. A book that she needs to see."
"A book," Ginny repeated. Her eyes twinkled just slightly.
"I'll be down in a minute or two," Ron said in aggravation. He held onto Hermione's wrist and proceeded to drag her up the boys' staircase. He ignored a suggestive comment that Ginny muttered as they left.
Hermione led the way up the stairs, and Ron glanced back in the common room. Several pairs of eyes were blatantly staring, and he felt his cheeks turn red. Too bad this isn't happening with me in my own body . . . he mused. Despite his assurances that he didn't feel that way about Hermione, it would still be awfully nice to be going upstairs with her.
They arrived in his room, and Ron led her over to his bed. If Hermione had complained about her roommates' messes earlier, she sure looked shocked at the questionably livable quarters he'd made for himself. He plopped onto the bed and leaned over the left side. "I know I left them over here last night," he muttered to himself.
Hermione was a comical site in his body. It looked like Ron was standing in the doorway nervously, hands rubbing forearms as he glanced around, lip curled in disgust. Ron smiled when he noticed this. "You really do suck at being me, you know."
"I know that," she snapped. "We've been over it so many times now. Just get your bloody toiletries."
Ron arched an eyebrow and smirked. "That was better." He began digging through his mess again and pulled out a cloth bag that had his toothbrush, comb, and other toiletries. He popped open his trunk and pulled out a clean pair of jeans and a white T-shirt. He stuffed the items in Hermione's long arms and pulled her down the stairs. "Come on."
They went back down the stairs. Ron stopped her at the last stair. "You go on ahead. The boys' prefect bathroom's password is snugglyhumphs." He smiled as she began to retort. "And no, I have no idea why."
"You . . ." She hesitated. "You trust me?"
"Of course." Ron gave her a lopsided grin that seemed foreign on Hermione's usually pursed lips. "I'm not as uptight as you are, Granger. Now go scrub yourself clean."
She hesitated again.
"Look. I know you better than I know myself. You'd sooner join You-Know-Who than peek at me."
Hermione smiled slowly at this point. "Maybe you don't know me as well as you think." She left with those last words.
Ron's eyes widened at the unexpected comment, and he watched her walk away. He shook his head. "This is way too weird," he muttered. He put a hand up to drag through his hair, but it didn't work with Hermione's long, frizzy tresses.
"What's too weird?" Ginny asked.
Ron noticed the girl standing a few feet away. "Er . . . nothing. Just . . . Ron couldn't find his Astronomy book. I had to use a locate spell for him since he didn't pay attention that day in charms." Nice save, Ron.
"Uh-huh." Ginny didn't look convinced.
"You needed to talk to me about something?" Ron asked, desperately trying to change the subject.
"Yes." Ginny looked away. "Let's walk, eh? I don't like to talk about private matters in the common room."
Uh-oh . . . private?Ron shuddered as his imagination came up with some scenarios about things Ginny might say popped into his head. "Okay," he squeaked.
They walked out of the common room together, and Ron stayed silent as they walked down the corridor. When they were reasonably far away from the Fat Lady, Ginny spoke. "I, er . . . I don't know quite how to put this."
This is not good. Not good at all."It's all right, Ginny. Take your time." Ron thought quickly. "In fact, if you need time . . . you can go right ahead and wait until tomorrow."
"This can't wait," Ginny said urgently. She looked at the ground. "I, er, got my first . . . you know . . . today."
Ron stared at her blankly.
Ginny sighed. "My first period."
* * * * *
"Snugglyhumphs," Hermione whispered, coming up to the Prefect's bathroom nervously. Her back stiffened, and she stepped inside the room. She walked over to the steps leading to the pool/bath and set down her bag of Ron's things. She rubbed her arms in a soothing manner, but being in the boys' bathroom was . . . creepy.
Hermione shrugged. She could do this. She was capable of anything. And Hermione Granger most certainly never backed down. She gathered her resolve and turned the faucet on to a warm temperature.
She reached for the hem of the T-shirt Ron wore under his Quidditch robes. She pulled it up over her head and kept her back to the mirror. She would not look . . . she would not look . . .
She reached for the button of the jeans. Her eyes shut tightly as she slowly unzipped the pants. She cringed as she started to pull the fabric off her hips. This is not happening, she thought desperately. I can't be taking a bath in Ron's body! It's preposterous!
She kicked Ron's shoes off. Next came socks. Socks were easy. She stood up again and took in a deep breath. "Here it goes," she whispered right before grabbing the edge of Ron's boxers and yanking them off. She jumped into the bath next, not wanting to give herself even a split second to accidentally see . . . anything.
Hermione was slowly opening her eyes when the door opened. She turned around. "It's about time you got . . . here . . ." she trailed off when she recognized Harry at the door. Her eyes opened wide. She'd left the door unlocked for Ron. And now Harry was here. With Hermione here. In Ron's body. Naked. Things couldn't get worse.
* * * * *
Ron stood very still.
"Hermione? Hermione? Are you all right?"
Ron slowly turned his eyes to look at her again. He lost his courage and looked at the floor again.
"What's wrong? Did I say something wrong?"
Ron started hyper ventilating. No one in their right mind should ever be this close to their sister . . .
* * * * *
"Hey, Ron," Harry said casually.
"Harry!" Hermione squeaked.
"Love the voice. Very . . . Hermione." Harry shrugged out of his Quidditch robes and started forward, dropping a bag on the floor. "You don't mind if I jump in, right?"
"What? Of course, I mind!"
Harry paused in taking his shirt off. He arched an eyebrow. "What's with the sudden embarrassment?" He nodded. "Oh . . . right. If you're . . . doing that-"
"I am doing no such thing!" Hermione burst out. "I just . . . I just don't want you to get in. I, er, have a cold!"
"A cold?" Harry laughed. "Quit being a prat, Ron." He pulled his shirt off all the way.
Hermione looked away. "Harry!" she gasped.
"There something you've been keeping from me, Ron?" Harry asked, mirth in his voice. "I never knew the sight of my chest could arose such a reaction in you."
"It's just a shock. I'm . . . having a bad day," Hermione supplied quickly.
"Yeah, I've noticed."
She heard the distinct sound of a zipper going down. She had to stop him. "Harry! No! If you get in here with me . . . I-I'll . . . drown myself!" There. That was good enough.
Harry laughed. "Right."
* * * * *
"Ginny, I-I . . . we-we should . . . probably go to the bathroom!" Ron had to stop himself from whooping in joy at having come up with a solution.
"Good idea. But, er . . . don't you think you should get some . . . you know . . ."
Ron stared blankly. What in God's name was she going on about?
Ginny arched an eyebrow and whispered, "A-a pad or a tampon or something. Don't you have some?"
Ron felt the color drain from his face, and the edges of his vision grew fuzzy and black for a second. There was no bloody way he was going to touch any of Hermione's . . . girly things.
"Hermione? Hermione! Are you all right? You seem to be taking this worse than I am," Ginny joked weakly.
"I'm afraid I'm all out," Ron squeaked. Yes, that's right, he squeaked.
"Then can you ask Lavender or Parvati for something? I'm much too embarrassed," Ginny said, looking down at the ground forlornly.
"If I do . . . will you leave me alone?"
Ginny looked up sharply. "Leave you alone?" she huffed. "Well, Hermione, if I'd had any idea you were so bothered by my presence, I would-"
Oh, dear. Hermione would kill him if he screwed up her friendship with Ginny. "All right, all right! I'll go . . . ask."
* * * * *
Hermione turned around abruptly. She could take no more! "Harry, I'm serious. This is making me bloody nervous. You-you don't want to do this!"
Harry laughed at her again. "Of course, I do. I'm dirty, there's a perfectly nice bath, and I plan on indulging a little. What did you have for supper, Ron? I think it's affecting your brain."
"Harry, I'm gay!" Hermione screeched the last thing that came to her mind, the only thing she could think of to keep Harry from getting in the water.
* * * * *
Ron crossed his arms and slunk his shoulders as he walked back into the common room. Lavender and Parvati were both in a couch in the corner, flirting with two younger Gryffindor boys. He sucked in a deep breath, reminded himself that it was Hermione he was embarrassing, and marched right up to them. "I need some girly things, er . . . girls."
Lavender arched an eyebrow. "Girly things?" she asked with a giggle. "What a way to put it!"
"Oh, do shut up, Lavender. Come on, Hermione, I'll get you something," Parvati said, taking Ron's hand and pulling him up the stairs.
"Thank you, truly," Ron stuttered, casting a glance back at Ginny, standing nervously by the portrait hole.
"It's no problem." Parvati led him to the fifth year dormitory and left him in the doorway while she went to rummage through her things. "But . . . I want something in return."
"Anything!" He just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.
Parvati turned around, plastic wrapper in hand, and giggled. "Tell me why you just went upstairs to the boys dormitory with Ronald Weasley. What were you two doing?"
Ron nearly groaned out loud. He took a split second to weigh his options, and decided telling Parvati what she wanted to hear would be the fastest choice. "We were snogging like wild animals on his bed."
Parvati's eyes widened. "Hermione! I didn't know you had it in you . . ." She held her hand out, and Ron took the plastic wrapper with a look of disgust. He shoved it into the pocket in Hermione's skirt.
"Thank you, Parvati. See you!" He turned and ran out of the room, down the stairs, and into the common room to stand in front of Ginny once more. "I've got it. Now I have to go. Good-bye!"
* * * * *
The bathroom filled with absolute silence, and Hermione felt her heart beat start to calm. That would teach Harry to listen to her. And once she and Ron got this all straightened out, they could just tell Harry the truth. Unless . . . oh, how awfully funny it would be if Harry thought Ron gay, and Ron had no idea what was going on! The thought was brief, but tempting. The repercussions wouldn't be worth it.
"You're . . . gay?" Harry asked, sounding stunned. "Not the-the happy kind, but the kind where you're attracted to-to guys?"
"Yes!" Hermione said self-riotously. "And I like you - a-a lot. You'd better go now."
"Ron . . . you have no idea . . ."
"Oh, yes. I do. It's okay. I - er - thought you would react-"
"Ron, Ron! Stop it. I-I have a confession to make."
Oh, bloody hell.
The water lapped against the sides of the pool as if someone was climbing in. "Ron . . . I'm gay, too."
Hermione gasped and really, truly believed her heart had stopped.
"And Ron . . . I like you a lot, too. Quite a bit actually. I-I never thought you'd . . ." Harry's voice sounded full of wonder.
Hermione thought she was going to be sick. "Oh, my wand. Oh, my wand." She fanned herself frantically and started swimming to the other side of the pool, careful to keep her nether regions out of Harry's sight.
Harry Potter - gay? She was his best friend, she thought herself observant, and he was gay. How in bloody hell did she miss that?
Tears fell down her cheeks, and she briefly considered drowning herself.
* * * * *
Ron ran down the hallway, paying no heed to anyone giving him strange looks or portraits shouting at him to slow down. He needed to get back to Hermione so that she could fix this because there was no way in hell he could live another day in Hermione's bloody girly body.
The Prefect's bathroom appeared before him like a godsend, and skidded to a halt, blurted out the password, and barged through. "Hermione!" Then he saw Harry with his hands on his body's shoulders. "Harry! What the blazes are you doing?"
Hermione jerked away from Harry and ran towards the side of the pool Ron was at. It was strange for Ron to see his own face covered in tears. "Ron, you have to change us back right now. H-H-Harry was hitting on me!"
"Hitting on you?" Ron looked at Harry in disbelief.
The door opened and closed again, and all three occupants of the bathroom turned around to see Ginny using her wand to lock the door. She turned around with a self-satisfied smile. "Well, what's going on here?"
"Yeah, what is going on here?" Ron demanded, shooting Harry a dirty look.
Harry looked deadly serious for all of two seconds. Then his face broke into a huge grin and started guffawing like he was never going to stop. And the worst part was, Ginny's higher pitched laughter was joining in.
Hermione looked up at Ron with hardened eyes. "Are you getting the feeling we've been played?"
"I am, indeed, Hermione," Ron replied. He put his hands on his hips and looked between Ginny and Harry. "All right, chaps. Explain yourselves before I get bloody angry and take you up on that offer you were giving Hermione before I came in here."
Harry stopped laughing immediately. "It was just a joke."
"An elaborate joke," Ginny added through her giggling.
"Harry, what on earth?! Don't get out of the pool!" Hermione cried out as Harry swam to the edge and pulled himself up.
"Relax. I'm wearing swimming trunks," Harry said lazily. "Didn't want to risk any compromising situations, Hermione. Nothing too friendly."
Hermione narrowed her eyes further. "You mean you planned this out to the point of wearing swimming trunks?" Using Ron's voice with such a high pitched tone made even Ron snicker. Hermione shot him a glare that quickly shut him up. "Put us back right now! At least, I'm assuming you did this."
"That would be correct," Ginny said. She leaned against the door and crossed her arms smugly. "Harry and I did it all by ourselves. Have to admit - it was terribly hard keeping a straight face all day. Especially when I-I told Ron I needed a tampon!" She began to shake with laughter again.
This time Hermione laughed, and this time Ron shot her a glare. "It wasn't bloody funny. Quit laughing, you arses. And get me out of Hermione's body because I have to pee, and I don't even want to begin to think about what I'm supposed to do."
"Oh, knock off it. You just sit on the toilet," Ginny said.
"Don't you want to know why we did it?" Harry asked suddenly.
Hermione and Ron both turned to look at him questioningly. "Go on," Ron ordered.
"We were fed up with you two fighting."
"We thought you might need to see what it's like to be the other one for a day," Ginny quickly added. "It was my idea."
"We both did it though," Harry said placidly. "Did we accomplish anything?"
Ron started towards Harry with a very menacing step. "Harry, if you for one second think that I am going to drop to my knees, kiss your feet, and tell you all that I learned today, you are in for one fucking surprise."
Ginny grabbed onto the back of Ron's shirt. "All right, all right. All you have to do is kiss her."
Ginny shot Harry a look and took hold of Ron's arm. "Yes. All you have to do is kiss her on the lips, and you're done with it."
"Kiss me on the lips? What kind of spell is this? Let me see-"
"Just do it!" Ginny growled.
"It will definitely put me back in my body?" Ron asked warily.
Ron shrugged, crawled to the edge of the pool, and firmly took his head in his hands. "This sure is going to be the strangest kiss of my life," he muttered as he looked into what appeared to be his own eyes, his own 5 o'clock shadow, and his own boyish smile.
"Believe you me," Hermione agreed.
Ron leaned forward then and clumsily met Hermione's lips with his own. He would have liked it to have been a wonderful, life-altering, mind-numbing experience. But instead it lasted a mere five seconds, and then Ron felt warm water all around him. He became very aware that he was kissing Hermione while naked, and that wasn't exactly something he could just shut off in his mind. So he pulled away, smacked his face, and grinned cheekily. "It worked!"
Hermione reached a hand up to touch her face, and the other one trailed down her body. She sat backwards on the tile in relief. "Oh, thank Merlin."
"Now that you two have that straightened out, think you could let me alone for a bath?" Harry asked grumpily. "I still smell like Quidditch practice."
Hermione stood up, and she looked around with a happy little sigh. "I love being short again. Things are just . . . natural when I'm short."
Ron shrugged at Harry, placed his hands on either side of the tile steps, and pulled himself out of the water. He supposed he hadn't really been thinking straight, because Hermione and Ginny both certainly got an eyeful.
"Ronald!" Hermione screeched, turning bright red and turning around. "You-you should have warned me!"
"And miss that face?" Ron said sarcastically. He went to the pile of clothes waiting for him and pulled them on unabashedly.
"Having fun over there, brother?" Ginny teased. Growing up with a household of boys, she learned to be comfortable with the male anatomy. Her lilting note implied she'd noticed his very, very slight predicament.
"Loads and loads. Should Hermione and I leave you and Harry here alone? You two have grown so awfully close," he spit back. He picked up his bag of toiletries and placed his hand on the small of Hermione's back to nudge her towards the door.
"Thank you kindly, Ron. Harry and I were just about to romp like bunnies. Weren't we, darling?" Ginny shot a look at Harry and grinned at his obvious discomfort. Then she unlocked the door for everyone and was the first one out in the hall.
Hermione stopped suddenly and turned back to Harry. "Er . . . Harry . . . you're not really-"
"No," Harry said quickly. "It was just to make you uncomfortable. For Ginny's and my entertainment."
"Ah. Well, in that case." Hermione walked over to his things, gathered them in her arms, and marched out the door. "Come on, Ron."
Ron turned back around and gave Harry a double thumbs up. "Thanks, man. I got to touch Hermione's boobs today."
"No problem. Hey, could you bring me some clothes?"
Ron shut the door firmly and looked at Hermione. "Where's Ginny?"
"She went on ahead, I suppose." Hermione looked down at her feet. "It was a-a strange day, huh?"
"Strange doesn't begin to cover it." He grinned at her, held his hand out, and felt his heard speed up when she entwined their fingers together. "Understand a bit more what it's like to be me?"
"Oh, certainly. Now I understand why you're always so irritable."
"Irritable?! What? Why?"
"Because having your genitals sticking out all the time is just the most uncomfortable thing. I'm very sorry you have to live like that."
Instead of snapping at her, all Ron could do was laugh.
* * * * *
Ginny had gone ahead of Hermione and Ron to fetch some more clothes for Harry. With them in hand, she went back to the Prefect's bathroom. Harry was in the middle of washing his hair, swimming trunks still firm at his hips much to Ginny's dismay.
Ginny moved to sit on one of the stairs leading up to the bath and wrapped her arms around her knees. "Did you like my trick?"
"Brilliant indeed," Harry said with a smirk. "Hermione will figure out eventually that you tricked them into kissing. What was that for, anyway?"
"Unresolved sexual tension. I was resolving it." Ginny smiled back. "Hopefully that will help clear up a lot of the fighting."
"They'll be back at it by the time we get back to the common room, won't they?" Harry sighed and leaned back to wash the soap out of his hair. "It certainly was entertaining, though."
"Entertaining? I've never laughed so hard in my entire life! I made Ron ask Lavender and Parvati for a tampon!"
Harry snickered, then laughed, and the two began another fit of uncontrollable giggles.
Really, though. Who could blame them?