Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters in this story. Everything except the story idea itself belongs to JK Rowling.
Author's Note: This was my 2006 NaNoWriMo Project, and it's successfully 50,000 words so far! I wrote most of this story all the way through without stopping to go back, and will be posting 1 chapter a week while I edit the thing! Enjoy! (and leave feedback?)
for a Change
Hermione Granger walked swiftly down the hallways of the dungeon, her hair blowing past her ears as Harry Potter and Ron Weasley flanked her.
"It's all your fault we're late," she scolded them over the clicking of their shoes on the cold dungeon floor.
"Our fault?" Ron protested. "Don't blame us for being late when clearly it was your fault!"
"Ron is right," Harry concurred. "If it wasn't for you, getting all caught up in chapter eight of your potions text, you would have reminded us that it was almost time for class, and we would be sitting in our seats at this very second."
"Boys," Hermione sighed just as they arrived at Professor Snape's classroom door. Quietly, she turned the doorknob and entered the room, Harry and Ron just behind her.
Professor Snape, who had been in mid-sentence, snapped his book shut and stared at the three tardy students. "Please," he said, his voice booming. "Let us all stop this lesson so that Potter and friends can take their seats."
"Sorry, Professor," Hermione muttered while they rushed to their seats and carefully set their books on top of their desks.
"I don't think so, Miss Granger," Snape said, just as Hermione was about to sit down. "You'll be joining Miss Parkinson today. Her potions partner is absent. Also, I'd like to see what Potter and Weasley can do without your help today."
Hermione heard Harry and Ron sigh in disappointment, but she moved over to the other side of the room and took a seat next to Pansy Parkinson anyway.
Snape went on in his lecture, and Hermione made sure to take more notes than usual. Sitting on the Slytherin side of the room set her on edge. It was half way through the lecture, when Hermione felt something small hit the back of her head. When she went to feel the spot where it had hit, her fingers found a small wad of paper lodged in her bushy hair. She pulled it out and unfolded it in her lap.
'Nice going, Mudblood.'
Hermione didn't even need to turn around and look to know that Draco Malfoy was sitting behind her with a smug smirk on his face. Instead of getting angry, she just crumbled up the note and shoved it into her bag. She wasn't going to let him get the best of her.
"Okay, class," Snape said, shooting a look at Hermione, as if he knew she had been reading a note. "I want you to try this potion yourselves with your partners. All of the ingredients are in the cabinets. I trust you can find them yourselves."
Hermione tried not to sigh out loud as she looked over at her new potions partner. "So," she said slowly. "We better get started."
Pansy didn't look like she had been paying much attention to Snape during the lecture, and now, she looked more than disinterested. "Yeah," she agreed.
Hermione stood up and went down to the cabinets where Harry and Ron where already gathering their supplies.
"Sucks to be you," Ron grinned as he grabbed a small bottle of crows toenails. "Nothing's worse than working with a Slytherin."
"What was that, Weasley?" Professor Snape's voice said from behind him.
Ron almost dropped his bottles. "Um… I said…"
Hermione knew he was doomed. Nothing rhymed with Slytherin.
"Collect your ingredients and get back in your seat," Snape said, watching as Harry grabbed a few more bottles and bags, and the two of them hurried back to their chairs.
Hermione carefully selected her ingredients under Snape's watchful eye. She was determined not to let any Slytherin, especially the head Slytherin, get to her. She didn't even look at him as she turned around and walked back to her seat.
Back at her place, Pansy hadn't even moved. Hermione wondered if she would have to do all of the work for the both of them. She spread the ingredients out on her desk and took her cauldron out of her bag. She didn't want to offend the other girl, but she was seriously mistaken if she thought Hermione would be giving her a free ride.
"Would you like to help?" she asked politely.
"Sure," Pansy said, as if she couldn't care less about the potion.
"It's really simple," Hermione said, adding two ingredients into the cauldron. "You just add them in order and mix them together."
"I'm not stupid," Pansy muttered. It was her longest statement so far.
"I didn't say you were…" Hermione said slowly. "Honestly, I was just trying to make conversation since you weren't saying much of anything at all."
"Ah," Pansy said as she got up from her desk and grabbed a cup by Hermione's cauldron. "I'll go get the water."
"Okay," Hermione replied, half stunned. Pansy was actually going to do her part after all.
When Pansy returned, she poured the water into the cauldron and then sat back down as Hermione stared at the gloppy liquid. "Um, Pansy…" she said, pushing the empty bottles aside. "How much water did you have there?"
"Two liters, why?" Pansy folded her arms over her chest.
"Because this potion only requires one liter!" Hermione hissed softly so that Professor Snape wouldn't be aware of their little mishap.
They both stared at the glop as one bubble surfaced and popped.
In a panic, Hermione pulled her text book from her bag and flipped through it. "If you add two liters…" she said, making her way towards chapter nine. "Then it makes a completely different potion!"
Pansy leaned over Hermione's shoulder and gazed down at her book as Hermione found the page she had been searching for. "What potion does it make?"
"Let's see… one liter, one point five liters, one point seven five liters, two point five liters… wait a second. It just completely skipped over two liters!"
"How are you girls doing?"
Hermione slammed her book shut as Professor Snape approached their desks. She grabbed her spoon and stuck it into the slop, stirring it quickly so that maybe he would miss the fact that they had a bit too much liquid. "Just fine, Professor," she smiled.
"Oh, is that so? Pansy, is all well from your perspective?" Professor Snape said, not missing a beat.
"Why yes, Professor." Pansy's smile was just as bright as Hermione's.
Snape stood over their cauldron as Hermione stirred, gazing down at its contents. He smirked as he walked a little past their desks. "Then you won't mind if I use your potion as an example when the rest of the class has finished," he said.
Hermione stared at his back, terrified.
"Of course not, Professor," Pansy grinned.
"Excellent. Continue on."
Hermione gaped at her potions partner. "We're doomed!"
"Oh, please," Pansy rolled her eyes. "What's a little extra water gonna do?"
Hermione didn't say anything. She didn't want to know what kind of potion they had made.
Ten excruciating minutes later, all of the other groups had finished with their potions as well, and Professor Snape took his spot back at his podium. "Attention, class," he said, "I hope that all of you have completed your potions. I will now select several potions to test. Those students who have their potions tested will receive their grades for the week based on the results. The rest of you will receive your grades during tomorrow's class."
Hermione gulped. She knew that they would be called first.
"Now let's see whose potions managed the desired effect," Snape went on. "Granger, Parkinson… you're up first."
Pansy lifted two cups and held them while Hermione scooped up some of the potion and poured it into the cups.
"What color is your potion for, Granger?" Snape demanded.
"Green," she replied. And if they had any luck, the nasty concoction would turn them green regardless. She just feared what else it might do…
Professor Snape gave a sigh of irritation. "Well, what are you two waiting for? Bottoms up!"
Hermione and Pansy took one glance at each other and then downed the slop as quickly as they could. Hermione waited patiently as she felt the potion go down her throat and coat the linings of her stomach. She looked at her hands to see if she was turning green.
Unfortunately, neither Hermione nor Pansy turned green at that moment. Hermione sighed and looked to Professor Snape to hear just how bad grade would be.
"I'm giving the two of you a D," Snape announced. "Only because your little potion didn't have any ill effects. And I'll be seeing both of you in detention this evening at seven o'clock sharp to make a corrected potion. And if this goes well, I may give you a C, but I wouldn't hold your breath."
Hermione sat down and looked sadly at her lap as Snape moved onto the next group. It was then that she noticed that her yellow and red tie looked surprisingly black and green. How in the world did she end up with…
Pansy's hand grabbed her left arm. But wait a second… hadn't Pansy been sitting on her right just a second ago?
She looked up to see…
Hermione reached out to move the mirror out of the way, but only ended up poking herself in the eye.
"Ouch!" her reflection hissed.
Hermione sat, frozen, staring at the image of herself. This could only mean one thing; the potion in fact did have an ill effect. The ill effect was the worst effect that Hermione could ever imagine.
She had switched places with Pansy Parkinson.
After class had ended, Hermione carefully picked up Pansy's books and put them into Pansy's bag. She turned her head and made eye contact with Pansy. "Meet me in the far right corner in the library in thirty minutes," she hissed.
Pansy nodded, shoving Hermione's stuff into her bag and slinging it over her shoulder. "What am I supposed to do till then?"
Hermione leaned close so that no one else would hear their conversation. "Go with Harry and Ron. Tell them you have a big test to study for, and you don't know how long you'll be."
"Got it," Pansy nodded again. "And you… I told Draco I'd help him with his Transfiguration essay before dinner. Tell him you don't feel well, and you're going to the nurse. We'll meet at the library and figure this out."
"Deal." Hermione turned to move out from her desk when a hand clapped over her shoulder.
"Where are you going?" Draco said, forcing her to face him. "I thought you were gonna help me with my essay."
Hermione panicked. How long had he been standing there, and how much of their conversation did he hear? "Um…" She turned to look at Pansy, but she was already headed over in Harry and Ron's direction.
"Hey, I don't know what Granger did to your potion, but ouch. I hope Snape changes your grade during detention. That's gotta hurt," Draco went on. "But till then, let's work on our essays. I'm stuck on the concept of this one."
"Listen… Draco…" the name sounded stale on her tongue, but if she was going to have to be Pansy for awhile, she might as well get used to saying it. Apparently the two were friends… and pretty close ones it seemed. "I'm really not feeling that great."
Draco grinned at her. "Pans," he said. "You can't fool me. I know when you're lying."
Hermione didn't know whether to laugh or cry. "Heh…" she gave a weak smile as he grabbed her arm and dragged her down the isle and out of the dungeon classroom.
"Wow, Hermione," Ron said as Pansy followed him out of the potions room. "That was such bad luck to be paired up with a Slytherin. It's no wonder your potion was a flop. What did she do? Poison it?"
Pansy frowned behind his back. "No, actually…" she said, already bored with her new Gryffindor status and wanting to spice things up a little. "It was my fault. I put in too much water." And it wasn't even a lie.
Harry turned around to look at her in shock. "How could you, Hermione Granger, make such a dumb mistake like that? Are you sure that's what's happened?"
Pansy hated Potter even more than she had before. She wanted to hit both of them in the nose, go to the library right away and just let Hermione deal with the consequences. "Yes, that's exactly what happened. I had my mind on other things," she said instead.
"Like what?" Ron grinned as they rounded the corner and started up the stairs to the first floor. "A new boyfriend?"
"Yeah, right," Pansy muttered. The thought of Hermione with a boyfriend almost made her laugh out loud. "I've got a huge exam in Astrology tomorrow, and if I don't study, I'm going to fail. Actually," she said as they reached the top of the staircase. "I'm going to the library right now. See you at dinner, alright?"
Ron and Harry looked at each other. "Okay…" they said in unison, standing there together at the top of the stairs and Pansy rushed over to the Library wing.
"Honestly, Draco," Hermione said as he pulled her toward the Slytherin dormitories. "I'm really not feeling well. I think I should go to a nurse."
He stopped in his tracks and pressed the palm of his hand to her clammy forehead. "Tsk, tsk! You're not hot at all."
Hermione frowned at him. "I have a stomach ache," she insisted. "I might have ate something bad at lunch."
"You had the same lunch as me!" Draco insisted as he looked her over, searching for any sign of sickness. "How can you be sick?"
"Um," Hermione bit her lip. "I don't know, Draco, but I know that I don't feel good, so I'm going to go to the nurse. Please don't try and stop me." She turned around on her heel and tried to get out of the dungeon hallways before he could stop her.
However, just as she was about to turn the corner, she stopped and turned back to look at him. "I'm sorry," she said, feeling bad that he wouldn't have Transfiguration help for the time being. "I'll help you later tonight. Okay?"
He stood there, unmoving, staring at her with wide eyes. "Okay," he spat out after a moment of silence.
Hermione hurried off, cursing herself. She had obviously done something un-Pansy like for him to look at her that way, stunned. Then again, she didn't know what kind of relationship Draco and Pansy had. For all she knew, they could be more than friends. After all, he had taken her to the Yule Ball than two years in a row.
She shook off the feeling. If she had messed up things for Pansy, Pansy was going to have to fix them later. Right now, all that mattered was getting back in her own body.
Pansy Parkinson was sitting in the library for a good ten minutes before she saw Hermione, in Pansy's own body, rushing up to her table.
"It's sort of strange looking for yourself," Hermione smiled, the sweet look on her face giving Pansy a really odd sort of feeling.
"I can more than imagine," Pansy said. She was starting to get really annoyed at the situation. "Let's just get to business. We need to figure out a way to get ourselves out of this situation."
"Well," Hermione started as she slid into the seat across the small table from Pansy. "We could always ask for Snape's help…"
Pansy sensed her hesitation for that resolution. "That's out of the question," she said. "If we tell Snape what actually happened, he's going to give us an F, and both of our grades will drop significantly. However, if we can pull off the potion successfully in detention tonight, we might get a C."
Hermione cringed. "I'm not so happy about the C, but I agree that it's much better than an F."
"Duh," Pansy rolled her eyes. "So let's find a reverse potion or something."
"That might get really complicated," Hermione told her. "Reverse potions are not only twice as complicated as the original potions they reverse, but they take much longer and require much rarer supplies."
Pansy raised an eyebrow at her. "Are you saying we can't do it?"
Hermione took out Pansy's potion book and then looked over at her. "No, that's not what I'm saying at all. But I will need your help, and you should know that this won't be solved today."
"I know," Pansy sighed as she slouched over the table, Hermione's ever bushy hair falling in front of her face. "That just means we're going to have more than one challenge; the potion, and learning to live as each other until its ready."
"That might be difficult…" Pansy heard Hermione say.
"You're telling me. I've got to live in Gryffindor Towers with all of those happy Gryffindors." Her forehead hit the table gently.
"Not only that, but how are we going to get our homework done? And tests!" Hermione exclaimed. We'll have to take each other's tests!"
Pansy sensed that she wasn't so worried about Pansy's grades.
"And what about friends? Should we tell them? Or keep them in the dark?" Hermione went on.
Pansy raised her head. "Calm down… we'll figure that out later. Let's find the potion first so we can get started on our main project here."
"Right," Hermione agreed, jumping up from her seat and moving over to the potions section of the library which was several sections down from their table.
Pansy sat at the table, watching her own body standing several meters away, flipping through library books with a concentrated expression on her face. It was weird, she thought. But if they could pull this off, then they could keep their potion grades in good standing and hopefully not lose anything else important in the process.
Draco Malfoy sat on his bed in his dungeon room, his homework laid out before him across his bed, the lamp from his nightstand reflecting against their white surfaces. He stuck his lower lip out, pouting. He had done everything that he could possibly do, but was stuck again… and needed help.
How long was Pansy going to be at the nurse?
Draco crossed his arms. Thinking about Pansy made him remember her curious behavior earlier that afternoon. The way she had sincerely promised to help him was a little unnerving. And if Pansy Parkinson was anything, it was definitely not sincere. Something about the look in her eyes had weirded him out.
He jumped when there was a pounding sound at his door. Carefully, he piled his papers together and went to open it. He had expected to see Pansy, but instead, standing in front of him when he opened the door, were Crabbe and Goyle, with wide grin on their faces. This could only mean one thing…
"What is it," he said, already knowing the answer.
"Dinner's early tonight," Crabbe said, holding up his special 'early mealtime' fork. "Let's go eat!"
Draco stared at them. "I'll meet you there," he said, slamming the door shut in their stupidly grinning faces. "Ugh," he groaned as he leaned against the cold door. "As if I could eat at a time like this!"
He had mounds and mounds of undone homework, half of it which was due tomorrow, and his only intelligent friend was stuck somewhere in the hospital wing.
"I know," he suddenly grinned. "I'll just bring my homework to her."
Hermione, with the copied potion in her backpack, smiled as she walked back to the dungeon. She and Pansy had located the reverse potion after an hour of intense research, copied it down, and then made a list of the items that each of them should retrieve and bring back to the library tomorrow evening at eight o'clock in the evening.
In addition to the potion, they had also agreed to keep the news of the switch between the two of them. The more people who knew, the more likely it would be that their cover would be blown, and Snape had a way of prying things out of his students.
It would be hard, but Hermione was sure she could pull it off. She was more worried about how Pansy would be when she was with Ron and Harry…
Her smile faded and her stomach fluttered as she reached the Slytherin dungeon. She whispered the password that Pansy had told her, and gained entry into the dormitories. Pansy had told her about the layout of the dorms, but nothing really prepared her for the view of heir common room.
It was dark from the floor to the ceiling. The floors were black stone, and the ceiling was painted a deep green. On the walls hung Slytherin banners and pictures of past Slytherin greats moving around in giant gold frames.
She walked past several black leather couches and was about to go into the girls' side of the dormitories when a pale blonde figure blocked her path.
"And just where is it that you think you're going?" Draco drawled, leaning against a black stone pillar that separated each dormitory.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, half from the shock of his sudden appearance and half because the sight of him reminded her that she had promised she would help him with his homework. "I'm sorry," she said. "I was just going to put my stuff away…"
"Sure, you were." Draco's gray eyes were fixed on her. "You know, Pans… I consider you my friend. And friends help each other out, right?"
Hermione wasn't sure what to say. "R-right…" she agreed, wondering if it would be a smart move to take a step away from him. "And I planned on helping you with your homework. I wouldn't have said so, if I didn't."
"I figured that," Draco gave a slight nod. "But the thing is, you told me you were ill, and you said you were going to go to the hospital wing. However," he stuck an index finger in the air. "When I went up to the hospital wing and inquired about your health, I was informed by Madam Pomfrey that you hadn't even been there today. How do you think that makes me feel, Pans?"
Hermione looked at him. He was giving her a horribly pained look… like she had stuck her hand into his chest, and ripped his heart right out. She had known Draco had the tendency to be a bit overdramatic, but this was ridiculous. The only way she could get away with lying to him would be to, of course, give him a good reason. This was the sort of behavior that Slytherins were used to, after all.
She looked away, trying her best to look embarrassed. "Okay, so I admit it," she said, "I didn't go to the hospital wing."
"Yes…" Draco said as he leaned forward, waiting for her explanation of the lie.
"I've been having…" she said, finding that she really was embarrassed to admit something of this nature to him. "Female issues," she finished. "And I didn't want to say it."
Draco leaned back and looked away from her, his face bright red. "Oh."
"So you can understand, right?" Hermione prodded.
"Yeah, whatever," Draco took a step back towards the boys' dormitories. "You can go… put your things away. Meet me in my room after your detention with Snape."
Before Hermione could agree with him, he was gone.
Wow… she smiled slightly. She had had no idea that it was that much fun to torment a boy.
Pansy looked at the huge gold clock that hung over the library's large windows. There was an hour before she and Hermione had to meet Snape for their detention, and she wasn't sure what to do before then. What she would have liked to do was go to the Great Hall for some dinner, but going anywhere looking like Hermione meant that those dolts Potter and Weasley would instantly attach themselves to her. The thought of it didn't sound so pleasing.
Instead, she ignored the incessant growling of her stomach and worked on her Transfiguration essay until it was a quarter to seven. She threw Hermione's books back into her bag, and walked to the library's exit, hoping no one who was friendly with Hermione would stop and chat.
She got lucky. She made it all the way down into the dungeons without a single person saying Hermione's name.
Hermione was already waiting for her in front of the Potions door. "Ready for this?" she said as Pansy approached her.
"Do I have a choice?" Pansy retorted. She reached for the door, and pushed it open. The two of them walked inside, nodding to Professor Snape who sat at his desk, and took their seats in the first row.
Snape seemed pleased. "My, my, both of you are right on time. Even early, it should seem." When neither Pansy nor Hermione said anything, Snape stood up and walked around his desk. "Well, what are you waiting for, take out your books and start making your potion."
Pansy took out her cauldron while Hermione gathered the supplies. She spread out the directions to the potion out on her desk and waited while Hermione walked back to the desk.
The dead silence of the almost empty Potions room made Pansy feel awkward and afraid to talk, but she had to say something out loud if the two of them were going to work together.
"I'll start mixing the ingredients while you get the water," she offered.
"Good idea," Hermione said, probably relieved that she would have complete control over the potions water content this time.
'Hey,' Pansy thought. 'If all goes well, it might even change us back.'
By the time the two of them had finished the potion, the glop had turned a slight green color. While this was promising, it didn't seem like it would be too tasty to drink.
Snape walked over to their desks and peered down into their potion. "Okay," he said, not a hint of a smile on his greasy face. "Let's see you give it a go."
Hermione scooped up the goop and put it into two paper cups. She handed one to Pansy, and they both downed the contents immediately… and to their surprise, as they looked at each other, their faces turned a light shade of green. They couldn't help but smile slightly.
"Well, I guess you two have saved your grades for today," Snape said, almost sounding disappointed. "I'll be giving you each a C for this assignment. But that's only because you were on time for your detention and for your speed, efficiency and teamwork on this potion. It's just too bad you couldn't do it well the first time around."
Pansy fought the urge to roll her eyes at him. "Thank you, Professor Snape," she said.
"The hour isn't over," Hermione said, looking at the clock. "Is there anything else we should do?"
Pansy shot her a glare. Perfect-student Hermione could always think of more work for the teachers to give them.
"I don't have time to babysit, Miss Parkinson," Snape replied as he walked back behind his desk and took a seat. "You've done your job, now go back to your dormitories for the evening."
Both Hermione and Pansy gathered their things and quietly left the room. When the dungeon door snapped shut, Hermione breathed a sigh of relief. "I'm not too pleased with the C, but it could have been much worse. We did a good job in there, didn't we?"
Pansy looked down her nose at Hermione. Did she want Pansy to agree with her? Like she would ever admit out loud that she had made a great team with a Gryffindor. "We made it out of the hole at least," was all that she would admit as they began their walk down the long hallway. "Now we have to figure out how to get our own lives back. How long did you say the reverse potion would take to make?"
"Two weeks," Hermione replied. "And only if we can gather the ingredients by tomorrow evening."
"At least tomorrow's a Saturday," Pansy said. "We'll have plenty of time to work on it."
Hermione arrived back at the Slytherin common room ten minutes before eight to notice several Slytherins gathered around their big black fireplace with steaming cups of what she assumed was hot chocolate. She was wondering which dormitory was Draco's when he stepped out in front of her.
"You have a bad habit of doing that," she frowned at him. "One of these days you're going to give someone a heart attack jumping out like that." She didn't want to admit it, but she was getting used to his constant creeping.
"Listen, Pans," he said, grabbing her arm and pulling her through the common room. "I have so much homework that I don't have time to listen to your complaints."
Hermione followed him into the boys' dormitories and through the dark hallways. He stopped at the door at the very end and opened it. When she followed him inside, she had to stop herself from gawking. Not only was it apparent that Slytherins did not share their rooms, but they were also almost as big as the room Hermione shared with three other girls. And Draco needed the space. He had large furniture and fancy objects everywhere.
"Don't look so dumbfounded," Draco scolded. "You act as though you've never seen my room before."
Hermione's cheeks became warm. How many times had Pansy been in Draco's room?