Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter and the associated characters and storylines belong to JK Rowling. I am not making any profit from this endeavor.
A/N: The concept of this story is sort of inspired by Lilycat's Hermann/Hermione, and also the excellent HK movie 'He's a woman. She's a man', but taken a bit further, with of course a different storyline…
Chapter 1: She's a Man
Hermione was tempted to pull out her hair and scream. It was just so infuriating! This was already the fifth or so interview she had attended, and the response was always the same; a condescending, "Dearie, you certainly have the qualifications, but don't you think that this is a bit too dangerous for a wee lass like you?"
While the Wizarding World, despite all of its affectations of clinging to the past, was indeed quite modern in its outlook, Hermione Granger was fast discovering that the vocation of Dragon Taming was certainly still stuck in the dark ages.
So much for equal opportunity! She fumed. Why I ought to write a letter of complaint to the ministry! She apparated with a loud pop outside 12, Grimmauld Place, where she had lived with Harry and Ron for almost two years now, stomping up the stairs and almost ripping the door off its hinges as she muttered obscenities under her breath.
The loud bang from the door roused Ron, who had been draped over the comfortable leather sofa in the sitting room of the former Black residence, snoring away as the mid-afternoon sun shone on his face.
"Wha? What's going on?" He mumbled incoherently, glancing around wildly before his gaze finally settled on Hermione's furious expression.
Harry, who had been reading the newspaper on the armchair folded it away and looked up at her in sympathy, "Another rejection huh?"
"Yes!" she spat, "Another bloody great rejection! The stupid fools just refuse to hire me even though they know I'm bloody qualified for the job!" She mimicked their condescending tones in a high-pitched voice, "Too dangerous for you dearie. We wouldn't want to break your poor nails now would we?"
He tut-tutted in sympathy and reached over to pat her on her shoulder.
"It's ridiculous, is what it is!" she continued to shout, "Women can be aurors and curse-breakers and all that but they can't be dragon tamers? What kind of a double standard it that!"
She settled into the sofa with a loud 'humph!', swatting Ron's legs off it in the process.
"Hey! Don't need to take it out on me! And anyway, maybe they do have a point, you know, 'Mione."
She whipped her head around so fast her hair went flying into his mouth and she fixed him with what he liked to call her 'death-glare'.
"And what exactly do you mean by that Ronald." She replied in icy tones that spoke of daggers and other sharp pointy things.
He gulped nervously, but like the true Gryffindor he was, had no survival instincts in the face of danger and thus ploughed on, "Well, it's obvious isn't it? I mean, this job involved dragons Hermione! They're really dangerous! People get hurt all the time. Even Charlie gets hurt, and, no offense meant, but you're not even very athletic in the first place. How are you supposed to handle all that? And why can't you get another safer job anyway?"
She closed her eyes and counted to ten, telling herself that she would regret it mightily tomorrow if she killed Ronald today.
Or maybe not…
"What if I don't want another job? What if this is what I really want to do, for now? What if I won't let some silly and frankly stupid sex discrimination get in my way?"
"Well it isn't a matter of whether you want the job, isn't it? It's also whether you're cut out for it and I say that you aren't!" he persisted obstinately.
Her mouth dropped open and she stared at him incredulously. He actually thought that she couldn't do it? Bloody hell, she was Hermione Granger! She could do anything! Well, except flying of course.
"One!" she said loudly, noticing Harry wince at the volume of her voice, "Besides the ministry-organized dragon-handling courses that I have been taking from Hagrid, I have been working out ever since I decided to try for this job. You might not have noticed Ronald - not that you ever have – but I have definitely gained some muscle in all the right places. And in case you were too incapacitated on the couch to realize, I have been jogging at least two to three kilometers every day! My stamina has also been built up!"
Two!" she continued, ranting, "It's not only about the physical – it's also about brains! And I have a new method of subduing the dragons that is infinitely better than the current stunning charms they use now! We'd be saving the lives of so many more dragons if those dragon tamers would just listen to me!"
She could hear Ron snort derisively, "Saving the lives of dragons!" but she ignored him and ploughed on.
"And finally, three! I'm not sure about what the future may bring, but right now, this is what I want to do. I would like to save all these endangered animals, one at a time!"
"Hermione," muttered Harry somewhat nervously as he glanced quickly between the two of them, "maybe we should all calm…"
"And you just had to start with dragons, is that it?" barked Ron, voice rising as went more and more red in the face, also partly stinging from her insult about his insensitivity and slothfulness, "What's next, Giants? Think you're so smart huh? Think you can do anything? Well this is something you cannot do! I should have said this earlier so we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place, but here it is: I won't allow it! You find yourself another, more suitable job!"
"Ronald Weasley!" she shrieked, "Just because we used to go out does not mean you get to dictate the decisions I make! This is my decision, and nothing you say will change it!"
The two of them stood facing each other, chests heaving and faces red from the exertion of all the screaming. She suddenly remembered once again, why it would have never worked out between the two of them. In the middle of them Harry sat absolutely still, cowering slightly and afraid to say anything that would start them off screaming once again. A feeling of deja vu swept past him, and he realized that he was right in the middle of yet another Hermione-Ron blow up. And he thought they were all past this when they broke up last year!
"Why must you persist in all this 'Mione!" moaned Ron finally, giving in, twisting his fingers in his messy hair and collapsing on the sofa, "You don't always have to win you know! And anyway, you know no dragon-taming company will ever hire you for that position! They'll only ever hire men. So why not just give it up?"
A thought suddenly occurred to her, a thought that darted through her like quicksilver. Something so obvious she wondered why she never thought of it before.
Her eyes gleamed, "Then I'll just have to be a man, now won't I?"
Hermione stared at her almost-naked body in front of the full-length mirror, wrinkling her nose at the slight pouch of fat on her tummy that she'd never been able to get rid of no matter how many sit-ups she did. Steeling herself for a moment, she then waved her wand, intoning the magical words that would shear off the long curly locks that she had kept ever since she was a child.
"Tondeo, Totonsi, Tonsum!"
She stared at herself again, and then laughed gleefully.
Oh! Her hair! It was finally manageable! She felt a glorious soaring feeling of freedom at the lightness of her head. She moved closer to the mirror, patting her newly shorn locks down and looking at herself sideways this way and that to better examine her new cut. Why she never did this before, she did not know.
Now for the colour of her hair. She'd always wanted it to be a bit more ash, a bit less orangey. Hesitating for a moment, she then decided to straighten it as well.
Uttering the spells, she grinned in satisfaction at the soft, straight dark ash-brown hair that resulted. This was much better than she'd thought it would be! She actually looked quite cute for once, a bit tomboyish maybe, but cute, and very mod. Maybe she'd actually keep with this hairstyle after all this was over.
Now for the hard part.
Picking up her hardly-touched copy of "Glamour Charms and You! 101 ways to change your look!" from her bed, she squinted at the hand movements and intonation of the spells she would have to perform in order to change the way her body seemed to others. The book was an old graduation gift from Lavender (the skank!) and Pavarti, and never in her life had she thought that she might one day find a use for it. But here she was, and she felt glad that she never threw it away in her annual spring-cleaning after all.
Performing the hand movements, she tapped her shoulders as she said the spell, watching in satisfaction as they seemed to grow broader before her very eyes.
And while she was quite lean, she really wanted to seem slightly more…muscled and wiry. She made the required modifications and stood back once again to examine the results.
The breasts were next to go (not that hers were very noticeable in the first place), followed by the curve in her waist and hips. She'd be wearing pants most of the time anyway, so she didn't think she had to alter the size and shape of her legs, or, Merlin forbid, anything else down there. Luckily too she was also quite tall for a girl, standing at an above-average 5'7, and so did not need to change her height to suit her new sex.
Next, she added a bit more chin to her jaw line, and then enlarged her nose just a tiny bit.
Of course, all these changes were only superficial, not really changing her morphologically at all. The trick to these charms was that they only made you seem like how you wanted. If someone had touched, say, her breasts for instance, they would still be able to feel the soft mounds, even though they didn't seem to be there. That was the difference between Glamour charms and the polyjuice potion. It was more easily found out, and thus usually used for cosmetic purposes only. For that reason alone, she'd probably bind her breasts down if need be, but for now, this was acceptable.
Something still didn't seem right though. She still looked too much like a butch-version of herself.
The eyes, she decided quickly. They were too…brown. Too Hermione Granger.
She tapped the side of her forehead three times, muttering, "Metamorphico!" All at once the color of her eyes changed from a muddy brown to a brilliant, deep blue.
Hermione Granger was gone, but Hugh Grant was here to stay.
Harry spluttered, spraying milk all over his shirt as he laughed, "Hugh…Hugh Grant? That's your new male name?" he guffawed loudly, holding in his stomach as Hermione scowled at him.
"Well he is a really handsome actor, after all. I've always liked him in Four Weddings and About a Boy. And besides, it's a nice name, one that happens to have the same initials as mine. That way I won't mess up and accidentally not respond when someone calls my name."
Ron looked confusedly between the two of them. "Hugh Grant? Who's that? Some kind of pouf?" He had finally come around after a bout of pleading from her and the use of the ex-girlfriend card. After she told them her plan, they'd agreed to help her in her transformation to manhood.
Harry hiccupped, laughter subsiding as he grinned at Ron, "Famous muggle actor. But never mind about that, I think it's a suitable name, Hermione…um, I mean Hugh."
"So, how do I look?" She turned around for their inspection, thinking that she'd done a pretty good job of it, actually.
The two men stared critically at her, before expounding on her weaknesses as a man in rapid-fire comments, "Your eyelashes – they're too long."
"And your figure – too slender. A dragon tamer has to be more muscular than that!"
"Too pale. You look like Malfoy."
"Your voice is still too high-pitched."
"Plus the way you walk – you sway your hips!"
"And, no offence, but you looked kind of like a ninny when you twirled around like that, Hermione."
She felt her face getting redder as a blush crept up from her neck. "Well instead of sitting around and insulting me, why don't you boys help me become more of a man, then!"
And so the real transformation began.
A tanning charm, voice-modulating charm, and several lessons in swaggering, farting, and nose-digging later, Hermione felt she was reasonably ready to face the world and the dragon taming companies head on.
She had earlier refused to spell her arm muscles to seem larger, reasoning that she would be easily found out if they looked too huge, as one touch would let someone know that her arms weren't actually as thick as they seemed. She had also drawn the line at the eyelash shearing charm that Ron had offered to perform on her, worried that his clumsy spell casting might take her eyebrows off in the process. Plus, she rather liked her lashes, and thought that they gave her male features a slightly delicate and elfish flair.
She was now wearing one of Harry's white dress shirts, and had transfigured her boots to seem more like what a man would wear. Plain khaki-green cargo pants hung loosely on her hips, and she shoved her right hand into her pocket, posing awkwardly in front of her two roommates.
Harry whistled. "Wow 'Moine, you actually look pretty good as a man. Boyish and yet…kind of beautiful. Like one of those male models."
"Like a gay man you mean?" asked Ron bluntly as Hermione pondered the meaning of Harry's "you actually looked pretty good as a man". Did that mean that he didn't think she looked good as a woman?
Deciding to put these useless thoughts out of her mind, she walked towards the mirror in the dining room to look at herself.
"Wait – " said Ron, grabbing hold of her wrist, and before she could even react, he had taken a rolled-up sock from the clothes hamper and quickly stuffed it into her pants, ignoring her yelp of protest.
"Ronald Bilius Weasley! Where in Merlin's name did you get that sock from!" she shouted, her voice sounding low and husky to her, scrabbling in her pants to get the sock out. "And who said you could touch that part of my anatomy!"
"Relax Hermione," he said, grinning as he prevented her from removing it, "It's clean, don't worry. Newly washed. And besides," he shrugged, "nothing I haven't seen before."
She felt another one of her screaming fits coming on before Harry made a timely interruption, "No, wait Hermione. Leave it in there. It actually looks…" he crouched down and moved his face closer to her crotch, examining the slight bulge in her pants, making her cheeks burn even more with embarrassment.
"I mean it looks kinda real. I think it completes the look!"
"Really?" She asked, trying to look at it from her vantage point and patting it with her hand.
"See? What'd I tell you? I'm a genius I am," boasted Ron arrogantly as he flopped himself down on the sofa and stretched his arms. "Just what you needed to look like a real man."
She smiled to herself wryly. It was quite amazing really, what a well-placed sock could do.
Picking up her files and documents, she smiled warmly at the crotchety old man who, only one week earlier had rejected Hermione Granger from the position of Trainee Dragon Tamer. One week later, he had hired Hugh Grant.
Running out the doors of the offices of 'McGuiness and Sons Dragon Taming Inc.", she looked around briefly before squealing and jumping up in the air in happiness.
She had got the job!
She couldn't believe that she'd managed to pull it all off. A lot of credit, of course, went to Arthur Weasley, and, of all people, Head Auror Moody! The former, now assistant to the Minister of Magic had agreed to conspire with her in her quest to be a dragon tamer, helping her to forge documents that confirmed her identity as one Hugh Grant, aged twenty-three, born in Lancashire and schooled at Beauxbatons School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He'd also helped her convert the certificates she'd obtained from the Ministry Dragon-Taming School to show the name of Hugh on all of them, and, after giving a warning not to do anything to get herself killed, had given her a warm hug and wished her all the best.
He'd also pleaded with her not to tell Molly what he'd done, or he'd never hear the end of it. Ex-girlfriend of Ron or not, Mrs. Weasley still had a soft spot in her heart for her and Harry.
The Head Auror had been immensely helpful as well, and after hearing of her plight from Harry, who worked under his department, had shown her a charm that would allow her to cast just one spell to effect all the visual changes she had placed on her body (this was because the charms only lasted twenty hours, and had to be constantly cast). He also personally cast another spell on her, one that deflected any recognition of her previous identity unless she told them who she was herself.
When she asked why he was helping her, he gave a loud "Hmmph!"
"Like the person who helped defeat Voldemort can't defeat a few measly dragons! I won't stand for it! It's an insult to you, it's an insult to me, and to all who fought against the evil bugger!"
She tried not to giggle as he muttered about "Stupid arrogant dragon tamers, thinking they're better than aurors!"
"Hermione!" He barked, causing her to jump out of her seat. His single eye twinkled deviously, the fake one seemingly rotating faster and faster in his eye socket, "Give 'em hell for me."
And so she was now on her way to meet the man who had contracted the team of seven dragon tamers she would now be a part of. According to old McGuiness, the man was rich, pureblooded, and very, very nitpicky, insisting on meeting and approving of every man on the team he was hiring. The job they were on was simple really; they were to move a colony of twenty dragons from the plot of land that the person hiring them wanted to mine, to another more distant yet suitable site on the mountains, putting up a barrier between the land and the area where the dragons were.
This was exactly what she'd come here for. To ensure the safe relocation of such dangerous magical species, that, despite their lethality, were essential to the biodiversity of their world.
And really, she mused, thinking of Hagrid, dragons really were quite beautiful.
And because she was on cloud nine, she failed to notice the big "D. MALFOY UK PTE. LTD." sign outside the building she was entering. Because she was so, exceedingly happy, she did not see the picture of the smug, smirking blonde haired man placed at the reception area as she breezed past all the other workstations. Because of her joy and anticipation, she didn't realize who it was she was actually going to work for, till she entered the office of the man himself, jaw almost dropping to the floor when she finally met her new boss.
A/N: The idea of the 'well-placed sock' was obtained from Terry Pratchett's "Monstrous Regiment", a really good book that all of you should go check out.
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