Jasmine came back from her trip not only with clothing and other essentials but a small care package from the Twins including an outline for their plan. The two Harry's read through it and picked out which portions they'd work through. They decided that Professor McGonagall needed to be "in the know" for the public version for various reasons. First of all as head of Gryffindor she could get them a separate room at Hogwarts. They knew that two people would be instantly recognizable in the dorms, but logically the staff couldn't put a girl in the guy's dorm, nor the reverse. They would just play on the fact that they were both to skip the need for sneaking around.
Secondly Jasmine swore by her as a dependable female professor. James blanched at the idea that he'd have to ask his stern Head of House about the female facts of life but admitted that one of them would have to if they were going to claim to be swapping genders every few hours. Jasmine refused to take that task since she'd sat through that particular lecture already but promised him it would be "an interesting experience."
One of the gifts that the Twins sent along in their care package was to be the key to their freedom. Apparently the Twins had been fiddling with enchanting articles of clothing with various spell effects and had bribed someone at the supplier into selling them a genuine Unspeakable's cloak with the built in identity obscuring charms. They'd originally acquired it so they could figure out how to create one piece costumes, putting the hood up to create a full body glamour, but now it looked like it just might be their saving grace.
The other Harry would be wearing the cloak and they'd swap places whenever convenient. The Twins, along with the "Unspeakable" would be working tirelessly to correct the "accident" and would obviously need to be available at any time to help him/her. Trips to visit the Twins' shop by the Unspeakable would be expected as well.
Thoughts of Hogwarts inevitably meant thoughts of their friends and what to tell them about the situation. They felt bad about lying to their friends but ultimately they had to trust the Twins and stick to their story. If they told one person anything different from what another person knew, it would merely be a matter of time before someone started putting pieces together. And knowing Hermione she'd be the first to figure it out and her insatiable urge to know which if any version was right would bring the whole charade down around their ears. No, other than the "cursed artifact" story they'd handed the twins to work with there was only one version of truth. Even if everyone in the world decided they knew otherwise, there was only one truth.
As darkness fell that night, things got a little bit awkward. Both James and Jasmine glanced to the tiny bed occasionally as things started to wind down but neither was willing to broach the subject of sleeping arrangements. As midnight approached and the long day started to show they reached a decision. Gryffindors go forward.
"Listen about the..." They both started at the same time. Then looking at each other's pained faces they had to laugh.
"Go ahead," James choked out.
"Right," Jasmine sucked in a breath. "Well there's only one bed and two of us. I guess I don't mind sharing if you don't."
"No, no, that's fine."
"I wish we knew a spell so only we could open the door, maybe a password or something. We've got a little while left to try if you know of anything." Jasmine hooked her thumb at the door.
"Well we can always just stick the chair under the knob, but you're right a spell would make me feel safer." James scratched his chin a bit and gave a very feral smile. "I doubt we really have to worry though. I took advantage of this little holiday of the rules to educate our dear Aunt. Having the cord of her phone become a snake while the ottoman turned into a warthog and chased her onto the table gave her a fairly clear impression that I did not want to be messed with. Let's just do what we can and get some sleep."
Now the only thing to do was wait, the plan said to wait a few days and send a few messages back and forth with the Twins to establish a believable pattern and timeframe. In the meantime Jasmine coached James on how to write a letter that would bring out the motherly side of their usually stone faced Head of House.
I'm sorry to bother you in the summer as I'm sure you are busy with getting everything ready at Hogwarts and helping out our mutual friends but I've got a major problem and I really don't know who else to turn to right now. A few days ago on my birthday something really odd happened and I need your help both as my Head of House and as a woman I trust. At first I thought the Weasley Twins were just playing a prank on me but now they've got the Unspeakables involved and well, it's just too embarrassing to explain in a letter. Could you visit me at my relatives house so we can talk?
Like I said I really don't know who to turn to right now. The Headmaster and I had a big disagreement at the end of term so I don't want to ask his help until he and I have had a chance to mend fences. Also the Unspeakable still thinks he can help me so I'd rather not become some sort of freak show for certain members of our friends to sneer at and taunt. I'm just going through a really hard time right now and everything is so confusing... If you can't help me I might try Tonks, or maybe Hermione's mother, but Mrs. Weasley would just be too much right now. I know I need a woman's help but I can't face my friends right now and she's always so intense.
I'm sorry about the tear splotches, my emotions are just running so high and they said something about hormones and I just need someone to talk to... Please let me know soon when I can expect you or if you can even come help me at all.
Harry James Potter
The Potter clones got a letter almost immediately from Professor McGonagall assuring them that she would be over to visit them the day after they sent their message. Her note sounded so different from the Professor they knew, promising the strictest confidence and that whatever was wrong it wouldn't change her opinion one bit. Apparently Jasmine was right about how to pluck those maternal heartstrings. They decided that the initial visit wouldn't include the mysterious unspeakable, James would just hide under his invisibility cloak until they wanted to make a swap.
The next day, after Vernon had left for work and Dudley went to do whatever Dudley did, a slight pop announced Minerva McGonagall's arrival in the Dursleys' back yard. In just a few moments she was brushing aside Petunia's stuttering and very tense offers of hospitality and heading towards the second floor. She knocked politely on the door to the smallest bedroom and was a bit surprised to only see it open wide enough for the tip of a wand to protrude and hear a soft voice ask from the other side, "What do you always tell me you've grown used to seeing in your office?"
"The Quidditch Cup Mr. Potter," She replied primly. "May I come in?"
"Are you alone?"
"I promise that whatever you want to speak with me about will not go any farther. I came alone."
The door opened quickly and as soon as the older Professor was inside it was slammed shut.
"Mr. Potter, what is so…" McGonagall turned to look at Harry and was momentarily shocked to see a feminine face looking back. "Oh my word! Good heavens child what happened?"
"Have a seat and I'll tell you what we know," Jasmine gestured to the damaged chair the Dursleys had so graciously provided. The professor took one look at the chair before transfiguring it into something more useful and comfortable. "I don't know exactly what happened but we've got a few ideas. The Weasley twins sent me a new sweet they were experimenting with for my birthday. The sweets had some polyjuice potion in them so that it would give me a disguise. I was trying one as I opened the rest of my birthday post, but one of the letters was cursed. The curse and the candy interfered with each other and now I keep switching genders every few hours."
"There are a few curses that can temporarily cause a person to change their gender," McGonagall said thoughtfully. "Do you still have the letter? I can take it to Madam Pomphrey, confidentially of course, and she might be able to help you. I dare say stranger things have happened but I know it is never easy to be the one experiencing such things."
"No ma'am, when the Weasley Twins heard about what happened they called someone they know who works for the ministry, an Unspeakable named Smith, and he took it to study. They say they've tried all the usual cures by now but they are still working." Jasmine looked at her feet while she said it, acting embarrassed to hide the fact that she was a horrible liar.
"Ah, yes you mentioned something about an Unspeakable in your letter but to be honest it was rather hard to understand. Not without good reason though as I see," McGonagall looked sympathetic as she patted Jasmine on the shoulder. "So what was it that you wanted to talk about? Is there something I can do for you?"
"Well there are three things I need help with and two of them are related. The twins and Mr. Smith have tried everything they know of to help me but nothing has worked so far, so they are going to have to create something else entirely. They say they don't know how long it will take, but that it could even be several months."
"Which means that they expect you to go to Hogwarts with your current... affliction. Harry, I'm afraid we can't just excuse you from school until they figure out how to help. As strange as this is there have been students who were worse off and they still went to class."
"Oh it's not that Professor," she promised, "it's just that I don't know what to do about living in the dorms. I'm not a girl, well maybe I am some of the time, so I can't sleep with them, and I'd feel really awkward sleeping with the guys if I suddenly sprout a pair of breasts in the middle of the night."
"I think I understand. We'll just have to find someplace else for you to sleep until this is all sorted out," McGonagall patted her shoulder. It was odd to hear a tone of motherly concern in her usually strict voice.
"Thank you Professor," Jasmine gushed. "It is bad enough I have to deal with this but I just don't know if I could take having my mates ogling me too."
"Not to mention the breach of propriety," the Deputy Headmistress sniffed. "It just wouldn't be right to ask a young lady to sleep in the same room as four young men. Now what else did you need my help with?"
James tapped Jasmine in the back to signal it was time to make a switch. With a groan and a gasp, Jasmine doubled over clutching her midsection. McGonagall moved to help her but she bolted from the room and left the door open. James brushed past in the hall and they entered the bathroom together.
"Here," James said quietly handed the invisibility cloak over. "I'm changing the plan and you might not want to listen."
"Why?" She hissed back.
"Just trust me, our plan to get out of here just went from iffy to a sure thing." He grunted and groaned loudly a few times. He splashed a bit of water on his face and breathed heavily as he made his way back into his room where McGonagall was waiting.
"I'm sorry for my rudeness Ma'am but I can't control this and it's really not comfortable." He sat back on the bed and took a deep breath. "Ma'am I really need someone to talk some sense into Dumbledore. Before the week is out, I'm leaving this house whether I have his permission or not."
"What?" The Gryffindor Head asked with a bit of surprise.
"I said I'm leaving. My life here has always been a case of sacrificing freedom and happiness for safety but with my current predicament that can't continue. I don't know if you've turned a blind eye to it or if you've just never known, but those... people I'm related to have never liked me. They despise me and take every opportunity to belittle and degrade me," Harry pointed at the locks on his door and the dilapidated furniture. "Can you imagine a defenseless young woman living with two bigger and stronger men who like nothing more than to degrade her? My relatives don't know about my predicament and if I refuse to let them. I will not submit myself to their depravity any longer."
To say that McGonagall was livid would be an understatement. For the first time he could remember, the usually prim and proper woman was down right enraged. "You most certainly will not! It's simply unthinkable. I told Albus that they were the worst sort of muggles. The very idea that you would be forced to stay here and risk not only your virtue but your sanity... It's almost enough to make me agree with the Death Eaters! We'll just have to move you to Headquarters at once."
"I can't do that either. Aside from the fact that certain order members take almost as much pleasure in tormenting me as my relatives, Unspeakable Smith would not be able to help me. He's not allowed to reveal his identity and Moody would have a fit if he couldn't check out each and every person he brought to look me over," James pointed out. "The Weasley twins have offered to rent me the spare bedroom in their flat over the shop. Merlin knows I can afford it and if we could convince Either Professor Flitwick or Dumbledore to put up a Fidelius charm it would be just as safe for me to be there as at Headquarters."
"As if anyone could be safe with the Weasley Twins," McGonagall retorted. "You'd be too exposed living at Diagon Alley, Dumbledore would never allow it. But I do have one other option that he might allow."
"I'm willing to listen," James said carefully, "but I do need to be able to see the Twins and Smith regularly."
"That won't be a problem," She promised him. "I have a small home outside of Helmsdale, not far from the coast. I'm sure I can convince Dumbledore to allow you to stay with me."
Harry was shocked, he honestly never saw it coming, "I don't want to be a bother Ma'am, and I certainly don't want to intrude on your privacy."
"Nonsense child, in all the years I've known you you've never been a bother. You've caused me more than enough headaches, that's true, but you've never bothered anyone unless it was truly important. In fact I've often wished I paid more attention when you tried to get my help, but not this time... Besides," She gave him a kind smile, "You're one of my little lions. You're practically family, but if you ever tell those Twins I said it I'll deny it to my dying day."
James couldn't think of anything to say. His mouth hung open for several seconds before he managed to get control of himself, "Uh... Thank you Ma'am. I really don't know what to say. Will I be able to use the Floo to visit my friends at Headquarters and the Twins at their shop?"
"So long as you tell me before you go somewhere I will have no problem with it. But I'll warn you, I've raised four boys of my own and been a teacher since before your parents' time. We'll agree to a curfew and you'll abide by it, I know all the tricks."
He nodded, "Yes Ma'am, I won't cause any trouble."
"We'll sort that out tonight, now what was the last favor you wanted to ask from me?"
James blushed a bit, he couldn't believe he had to do this. Jasmine prodded him in the back when he'd been silent a bit too long. "Well Professor, I've been thinking... No, that's not it... Argh, why can't I just say it? You see, it's like this, apparently I'm going to spend a lot of time as a woman over the next few months and I know there are things I don't understand, and I was kind of hoping..."
"Ah," McGonagall gave him another reassuring pat on the shoulder, "I'll find you one of the books I give other young ladies when they start experiencing changes. If after reading it you have any questions, no matter how embarrassing, you can ask me and I'll do my best to explain things. Now why don't you gather up your things and we'll get going."
"Yes Ma'am, but won't Dumbledore be upset with us?"
"You just leave him to me, I've got years of experience with Albus Dumbledore," She smiled smugly. "You just need to learn that while he will never admit that he's wrong, he will always forgive you for doing what you think is best anyway. I'll just tell him that this is the way it's going to be and he will just have to deal with it."
A/N; So the Potter Twins gain some Allies but things do not go exactly according to plan. Who knew that Minerva McGonagall could be so motherly?