Disclaimer: All non-original Harry Potter characters belong to JK Rowling and her affiliated companies.
This takes place behind the scenes of canon and then diverges sharply... but I think you'll see when that happens.
Behold a story about someone who dies. Who? Who else?
"Who's PolyJuicing Whom?"
It was a simple plan.
"Oh, Ginny... that's brilliant. Just right there, that's the spot. Don't stop Ginny, don't stop."
Perhaps it was a bit too simple, in the end. Just a couple of potions here, a few charms there. And yet, it was surprising how quickly things would get out of hand.
Well, at least this time.
It seemed like a reasonable solution, a favor for a dear friend. And now... this. She was more than just angry, she was livid. But the fool she was currently being "friendly" to didn't notice a damn thing. It was so bizarre. It was like he was an entirely different person in bed.
It was with this odd thought that the Polyjuice Potion wore off. Well, one of them did.
"What the hell?"
"Um, Ginny, I can explain. I thought you were fooling me too!"
"But... what? That doesn't make any sense!"
Unless... oh. It couldn't be, could it? How could things have possible have turned out like this?
Two weeks earlier
The two girls waited for Madame Pomfrey to leave the room
Hannah turned furiously to face her best friend.
"Susan, what's the big problem? You want to explain why you skived off class using the Weasleys' old sickness candy? You told me you were through this nonsense!"
Susan looked up at Hannah with red, bleary eyes. "Oh, Hannah, I'm sorry I got you involved with this mess. I just miss him so much, it's driving me spare thinking about him with that red-haired harlot!"
Hannah frowned and glared at Susan.
"I mean, that other red-haired harlot," Susan tried with a small smile. "After Cho screwed up the great thing we had... I mean, sure, we never quite went that far, but I knew we had a future. I KNEW it."
"Blast it, Susan, Harry never knew it was you! You couldn't have a bloody future with bloody Harry Potter because it wasn't you. Well, you know what I mean."
Susan sighed and looked down. "I know, Hannah. But when I played dress-up, I felt more confident, more alive. I may not have looked like myself, but I felt more like myself than ever. Especially because I was with him. Until she sabotaged everything."
Hannah shook her head and groaned. "It was our own fault, Susan. All those Obliviations weren't good for her or him. It's no wonder they broke it off, when their memories were all nuttered up. Cho doesn't even know what she thinks these days."
Susan nodded. "I know, Hannah. But I have a confession. I've been running the 'project' again with Ginny."
Hannah paled. "Merlin, Susan. You could go to Azkaban for this. Hell, I could end up sharing a cell with you. It's a horrible risk, and I... I don't know if I can stay on with it."
Susan grabbed weakly at Hannah's hand. "Hannah, dear Hannah, please listen to me. I didn't take the candy. I really am this bad off. Aftereffects of Polyjuice over time... deteriorates the body and mind. I haven't been well for a while, and strenuous physical activities of 'those' types only accelerates the damage. I knew the risks, but I couldn't get out. I couldn't do it, Hannah. Hannah, please, I need your help."
Hannah grimaced. "I... I dunno, Susan. Morgana knows how much I owe you, and I know how sick you are, but what could I possible do?"
"I need you to take over the project for me."
"Oh, no!" Hannah stood up angrily. "I will not parade around in someone else's body, not a bloody chance!"
"This isn't a permanent thing, Hannah. I have a plan to end things between them. It will work, but I can't do it stuck in the infirmary. This won't take but a week, perhaps a fortnight at the longest. And then I'll... I'll confront him and explain what I've done. If he wants to call the Aurors... well, I deserve it. But I won't let anyone else tear us apart, only he has that right."
Hannah swallowed nervously. "Susan... I haven't pretended to be Ginny before. I hardly know her. Before with both of us, we could plan things out, keep Cho busy... Just me, I don't know how I could possibly pull it off. Even if I wanted to."
"There is a way," Susan said softly. "Check under my trunk. False bottom, password is 'Mellifluouslessness'. What you find there will be all you need to succeed. Just be careful. Ginny may be a bloody scarlet woman and a serious whore, but she's no fool. Don't underestimate her."
Hannah nodded. "Understood. Susan, know this. After this, I'm done. The project will be closed forever. And it will take a long time before I can forgive you for this."
"I suppose that's all I can ask," Susan replied with a small smile. "Merlinspeed, Abbot. Good luck."
"I'll need it, Bones," Hannah muttered.
Hannah was more than a little shocked. "Bloody hell, Susan," she whispered. "A bloody Time-Turner. I don't want to even know how she got her hands on this."
However, Hannah knew Susan was right. The time-and-space-bending artifact would indeed allow Hannah to be in two places at once, and as long as she avoided paradoxes, the project could still succeed. Except this time Hannah would now need to be two different people at once. Hannah gripped the Polyjuice and slipped it into a hidden pocket in her robes. It was time to face Weasley.
Hannah walked to the corridor of the Room of Requirement and waited. Assuming it all worked as she hoped, Ginny would be coming along quite soon. Otherwise, the paradox could very well end up ripping her to shreds. But best to look on the positive side of things.
Thankfully, Hannah heard the telltale signs of someone approaching, and she leaned back casually against the wall, just in case. Ginny Weasley, looking a fair bit beaten and bloody, walked around the corner.
A comatose body followed behind, floating in the air. The body did not look well.
Hannah had to bite her tongue to keep from speaking. Easier for time travel if no one spoke to each other. Less to remember that way. Ginny placed a piece of paper on the floor and nodded. She faced the Room and stood for a moment. After the door appeared, she went inside, bringing the body along.
Hannah shivered. Something hadn't quite gone as planned. Still, it looked as though things had probably worked. Hannah bent down and picked up the note. It was a bit stained, with what looked disturbingly like blood. Hannah decided to ignore this and read her own handwriting that she had not yet written.
Five hours, four minutes, Owlery. Expect a problem.
Tied to the note were a few red hairs. Hannah pulled off the hairs and incinerated the note quickly. Puling out her Polyjuice potion, Hannah sighed. "Well, here goes nothing."
Hannah knew from her time in the Dumbledore's Army that she was not close to as good a dueler as Ginny. Thus, the element of surprise. Seeing yourself was often quite a bit of a surprise. At least Hannah hoped it would be.
Four hours and fifty nine minutes since the note...
Hannah didn't have much time left. She found a good hiding position behind some owl cages and waited.
In a few minutes, Hannah heard the sounds of movement up the stairs. She tensed and slowly peered through the cages, certain she was well hidden.
Ginny Weasley walked up towards the owls, carrying a stack of packages that seemed to be obscuring the vision. Oddly convenient, though Hannah wasn't about to let such an opportunity go by without acting.
"Stupefy!" The Stunning spell burst towards Ginny, who screeched and started in alarm, dropping the packages to the ground. She quickly drew her wand and pointed it towards the owl cages.
Hannah's eyes widened in alarm, but she couldn't react in time. The impact smashed the owl cages directly into Hannah, throwing her heavily against the far wall. Hannah groaned at the pain, as some of the cage pieces had punctured her skin. The impact hadn't broken any bones, but it was a close thing.
She suddenly whipped up her wand, which thankfully she hadn't lost. "Protego!"
Her instincts were dead on, as the shield was hit by some unidentified hex.
Ginny ducked behind some of the other cages.
Hannah breathed in and out heavily. She was running low on energy. The damage and spellwork had been more draining than she could have anticipated. She needed another plan. Hannah wracked her brain, and suddenly she got an inspiration. Hopefully it would work...
"Damn it, girl!" Hannah called out. "Don't you recognize your own self from the future! I've only come to help you, you bloody idiot!" Hannah waited, only hearing silence. And then...
"What do you mean, my future self?" Ginny sounded suspicious, Hannah realized. Reasonable enough, but she needed to convince the Gryffindor.
"Two months from now," Hannah improvised quickly. "You, that is me, were at Hogsmeade with Harry. Um, you know, on a date."
Hannah could hear Ginny swallow deeply.
"Go on," Ginny ventured.
"That's when the Death Eaters showed up. They... they killed everyone and kidnapped Harry. I tried to stop them, but I got knocked unconscious at some point. In a horrible way, I was one of the lucky ones." Hannah cleared her throat, calming down a bit and getting into it. "They must've figured I was already a goner... luckily I was just out. Later, in the infirmary at Hogwarts, I heard the news. Harry had been killed... and, um, his body had been left in the middle of some Muggle government building. It was horrible."
"So what do you expect me to do, then?" Ginny asked, almost in a whisper. "I can't defeat You-Know-You, much less a load of Death Eaters. It was only thanks to the Order that we got out safely last time."
Hannah noted the use of "we" and felt hopeful, even though she had no idea what Ginny was talking about. "Exactly. So I needed a plan. I have a way to fix everything, and avoid all the paradox problems."
"But that's impossible," Ginny insisted. "You can't avoid paradoxes."
"You can, but only if there's no one left to paradox with," Hannah grinned to herself.
Ginny gasped. "You can't be serious!"
"That's right," Hannah confirmed. "I have a sacrificial death curse. I can take out even You-Know-You with it. I'll infiltrate the Death Eaters by getting kidnapped, and set it off when You-Know-You is nearby. Since you'll be the only Ginny around, there won't be any interference. And the future I experienced will never need to happen."
Ginny paused and didn't say anything for a minute. Hannah heard her breathe in deeply.
"I don't know..." Ginny said. "I want to believe you, but I've been fooled before, and that didn't turn out well. If you're really me, tell me something only the real me would know."
Hannah wracked her brain for a proper response. She thought of only one thing, but hoped it would be enough. She hoped she had guessed right. "The one who you... we really care for is Harry, no one else."
Ginny instantly began to cry. "It's so odd... hearing myself say that. You... you said the right thing. I guess I believe you. But I don't know," Ginny said slowly. "Are you sure this will work? How can you sure they won't kill you?"
"Trust me, I've got a secret." A bluff, of course. But hopefully Ginny would take the bait. Although the crying was throwing Hannah off a bit. "You know what I'm taking about. You-Know-Who will want me alive."
"Oh!" Ginny exclaimed. "The diary? Right, Riddle was You-Know-Who. I forgot about that. I suppose I would think of that eventually, eh?" Ginny laughed softly.
"Yes, you've got it," Hannah said, breathing quickly. It seemed to be working... Almost time to make her move. "So I'll need you to stay out of sight for a while to make sure no one thinks I'm you. You should be okay in the Room of Requirement for a week or so. The House Elves will bring you food without giving you away, I'm sure."
"Well, all right," Ginny said, slowly getting to her feet. She still held her wand, but a bit more casually than earlier. She walked over to the entrance. "Just one more thing, though. How did you travel back in time anyway? I thought two months was impossible."
"Petrificus Totalus!" The whispered spell hit a surprised Ginny, but Hannah's power level had drained too much for the spell to work properly. Ginny wobbled a bit and fell backwards through the doorway. Hannah caught a glimpse of her falling over the edge of the tower.
"Oh, hell!" Hannah rushed out as fast as she could, still limping a bit. She peered over the edge and nearly sighed in relief. Ginny had landed on one of the walls several feet below, although she didn't look too good. In fact, Hannah noticed a copious amount of blood pooling around Ginny's head. "No!"
Hannah swallowed. "All right, I've gone this far." She couldn't just leave the girl there, after all. A Mobilocorpus would do it, but she would need utter concentration.
After failing three times, dropping a comatose Ginny onto to the stone roof over and over, Hannah grimaced and cursed to herself.
Blast it, Susan. Why did she think this would work a second time? Not like it worked that well the first go around...
"It's a simple plan," Susan grinned happily. "It's foolproof! The project will certainly succeed."
"What project?" Hannah asked nervously. "What does this have to do with Harry? Is it about the Defense club?"
"No, silly," Susan poked her friend playfully in the shoulder. "You know how he's head over heels for that slag?"
"You mean Cho?" Hannah frowned. "Susan, that's a bit harsh. I wouldn't call her a... you know."
Susan rolled her eyes. "Oh, please Hannah. Clearly she's just interested in him because of his fame. She barely knows him! Hasn't even had one bloody class with him. I'll bet she doesn't even know about the cute way Harry bites the end of his quill when he's concentrating in class."
Hannah gagged. "Susan! Stay on topic, please. Are you saying this 'project' is to break up Harry and Cho?"
Susan grimaced. "That whore doesn't deserve to be called by her first name, Hannah. Don't give her that respect." She flipped back her hair and glanced around in a surreptitious motion. "We'll call it the Harry Potter Project - but in public, we should just call it the 'project'. Hides it, right?"
Hannah swallowed and looked a bit queasy. "I dunno about this, Susan. What... what could we possibly do? Even if he did notice you, he's still far too into Chang to bother."
"I know," Susan answered easily. "That's why we don't go that route. I won't approach him, instead I will become his slutty girlfriend. And then... we'll break them up. It's foolproof, like I said."
"Become her? I don't like that sound of that," Hannah grumbled. "The only way you could 'become' Cho is... oh, no, Susan, I refuse."
"Hannah," Susan whined piteously. "Polyjuice isn't so hard to brew really. I'm already practically done, to be honest. I just need some support from you. You know, keep Cho out of the way while I take her place and break them up. It's brilliant, we make her paranoid and jealous with an Obliviation or two, and Harry will practically run when he sees what I do as Cho."
"Obliviation or two? Susan, that's both awful and insane. And besides, I know you. What if you can't help yourself and feel the urge to snog him himself or something?"
"Um", Susan blushed heavily. "Well, I suppose that's not entirely out the realm of possibility. But we can account for that. Better to be a gradual process in any event. It's essentially a perfect plan, and it's for a good cause; getting two people who belong together to actually be together."
"Oh, Susan." Hannah shook her head sadly, but she had a feeling she'd nonetheless be helping her best friend with her mentally unbalanced plan. After all, Susan would do the same.
After an interminable twenty minutes of strenuous effort, Hannah had finally managed to heft Ginny over the ledge and hover her above the walkway.
"Stupid fat cow," Hannah spat. Perhaps that was a bit unfair, but Hannah was currently feeling like a few tons of Abraxan dung. Hannah sighed and leaned against the wall, trying to catch her breath and regain some of her spent energy. A few more minutes passed, and Hannah began to worry she might miss her time travel window. That would not be good, not in the slightest. Hannah gritted her teeth and forced herself to her feet. It was time to make the long journey to the Room of Requirement to give her other self the note.
Hannah walked slowly and quietly through the halls of Hogwarts, alert for anyone and everyone who might suddenly appear. She took another swig of Polyjuice to be safe. Hannah pulled out the Time-Turner as she walked, feeling like the moment had nearly arrived. Within a few more steps, the sound of light conversation began to echo through the halls. Hannah stopped short, the body of original Ginny halting next to her. Now or never. She pulled out the Time-Turner and turned the hands enough for about five and a half hours, near to the limit of the device's capability.
It was a disorientating sensation, but Portkeying was still a fair bit worse.
Hannah pulled out a second batch of Polyjuice from her pocket, specially marked to make sure she didn't confuse the vials. This was key for the plan to work. Hannah would become Ginny long enough to break up with Harry permanently, and Ginny would become Hannah long enough so no one could possibly see two Ginnys at the same time. Hannah felt Ginny's neck nervously and breathed out in relief. The redhead still lived. Hannah forced open the comatose Ginny's mouth and poured a fair bit of the Hannah Abbott Polyjuice down her throat. Hannah cast a quick medical charm to induce swallowing, and within moments, Ginny had begun to shift into a severely damaged looking Hannah Abbott. Hannah shivered. Quite bizarre to see yourself, much less in such terrible condition.
One more thing before she ran into herself. Hannah conjured a quill and a tiny square of parchment. She wrote the same note to herself she had read not long before, and frowned at her bloody fingers. She hadn't even noticed them, but at least that explained the stains on the note. Perhaps things had gone a bit spare, but things could be far worse.
It was another quiet few minutes before Hannah arrived at the Room of Requirement, spotting herself looking a bit nervous near the entrance. Hannah nodded, keeping sure to maintain silence, and dropped the note on the floor. So far so good. The past Hannah almost spoke but managed to contain herself. Good. No paradoxes so far.
Hannah looked up at the door and thought "I need to place to hide something." Instantly the door appeared. Hannah blinked. That was easier than she expected. Hannah walked through the door, bringing the body of Ginny as Hannah with her. As her eyes adjusted to the dark lighting of the room, Hannah's eyes widened. It was astounding. An entire room filled with objects and curios of students throughout the ages. Hannah had no idea that so many others had the same need to hide things as she did.
In an odd way, it helped her feel connected to mischievous and troubled students of Hogwarts past. A nice feeling, even under the difficult circumstances.
Hannah walked around the crowded shelves, looking for a good place to stash Ginny's Polyjuiced form. It needn't be for long, she would need medical attention soon anyway. By now her past self should be long gone and soon enough would head to the Owlery. Eventually there would be just one of Hannah and Ginny each, and the threat of paradoxes would be gone. Thank Merlin for that.
Hannah spotted a large cabinet, quite large in fact, more than large enough for even an adult body. Hannah smiled. Perfect.
Carefully, she maneuvered Ginny's floating form into the large cabinet and slowly began to place the girl inside. Suddenly a sound came from the Room's entrance and Hannah nearly jumped.
"Merlin's nutsack," she muttered and unceremoniously shoved Ginny's body into the cabinet as fast as possible, shutting the door quickly behind with an unfortunately loud slamming sound.
Unfortunately, it had been too late.
"Trying to get rid of something, Weasley?"
Oh no... Draco Malfoy. The last person Hannah wanted to see, especially in Ginny's form. She coughed to hide the motion of drinking another slug of the potion. Better to look like Ginny than to change suddenly. That would be far worse for someone like Malfoy to witness.
Malfoy stepped closer and opened the cabinet's door.
Hannah's eyes widened. "Where did... I mean, I just put some trash in there!"
Malfoy smirked. "Sure you did, Weasley. Don't you recognize a Vanishing Cabinet, Scarlet?"
Scarlet... An odd nickname. Hannah paled as she processed what Malfoy had just said.
"Where's the Cabinet's other end, Malfoy?"
Draco's eyebrow raised but his expression didn't change otherwise. "Borgin and Burkes. We're actually using this for an ingenious plan, Weasley. You know, I had no idea you knew about the Come and Go Room, Scarlet. It would have made things easier for both of us over the years." Draco chuckled suddenly. "Of course, I'm a fool. You were in Potter's little club that met here. Naturally you would've heard of it. Chalk it up to my infernal arrogance, Scarlet. But then again, that's why you can't stay away from me, isn't it?" Malfoy moved even closer and brushed Hannah's cheek with his pale hand.
Hannah barely managed to contain her shudder, even in her sudden shock and horror. No, it couldn't be. Ginny couldn't possibly be that whorish. Susan was just talking jealous nonsense as always; just like when she called Cho a slag. Better to be extremely sure than to assume the worst.
Hannah tried to smile weakly and batted away Draco's hand. "Can it, Draco. How long have we been doing this after all? Do you even remember?" Subterfuge. It disturbed Hannah to realize she was starting to get somewhat decent at it.
"Wow, it's been years." Draco shook his head ruefully. "I still remember how it started. The whole Heir nonsense in Second Year. Well, your First, of course. Who would've guessed you'd become so eminently shaggable but two years later?"
Hannah's eye twitched and she felt bile in her mouth. She wondered if she could even keep up the facade or whether she'd just vomit in Malfoy's face. It was a close thing, but she kept Susan in mind. Her best friend needed her. Hannah swallowed and looked directly into Draco's eyes with a smoldering look.
"You won't tell anyone about my 'trash', will you darling?" Hannah focused on the fact that she didn't look at all like herself. Not Hannah, Ginny. Ginny, Not Hannah.
Draco grinned and put his arms around Hannah's neck. "I wouldn't dream of it, Scarlet. And in exchange, I'll tell you a bit about our plan. The idea is to sneak some of the Dark Lord's loyal into school on a secret mission against that old fool Dumbledore. Finally we'll gain an advantage!"
Hannah blinked and screamed internally. "Sounds magnificent. But, um, how will that work exactly? What's the mission?"
"Oh, we can talk more later," Draco grinned. "I'm sure Potter won't miss you just yet. I still can't believe you managed to land him. Do you actually care for him in any way?"
Hannah found an odd need to defend Harry. "Is that so hard to imagine? He's quite fanciable and he's a talented and powerful wizard. So what if he isn't so cunning? I need more than that."
Malfoy laughed. "I've long since resigned myself to that fact. I know no one man is enough for you. I just prefer to be the best one. And in my opinion, I still am."
Hannah grimaced. How far would she have to let this go? She felt like she would need to shower in fire soon to feel clean.
The next morning did not come quickly enough for Hannah, who tossed and turned in Ginny's bed, constantly worried that her roommates had figured out she wasn't really Ginny. It had taken some difficult work to puzzle out the Gryffindor password, and all Hannah really wanted to do was sleep. But she couldn't.
A bleary and exhausted Hannah sat down at the Gryffindor table for breakfast, wondering what would go wrong next. Kind of stupid to think about, she realized, and soon felt even worse. The students who were already at the tables were gossiping about something that couldn't be right. No!
Hannah grabbed a Daily Prophet from a lower year and gasped.
Body of Hannah Abbott Found in Borgin & Burkes! Borgin Brought in to Ministry for Questioning!
That wasn't good. What in the hell was she supposed to do now? She scanned the Hufflepuff table for Susan, but she was nowhere to be found. Still in the Infirmary, most likely. Damn it all.
The next few hours were a new kind of torture for Hannah, as she constantly looked for an opportunity to secretly visit Susan. But every time she had a bloody moment...
"Good to see you, dollface," Seamus grinned. "I reckon I could use a bit o' yer special massage right about now. And I know yer up for it, as always."
Damn that Ginny... It seemed both Susan and Malfoy were right. Ginny was a blasted slag of the highest order. Hannah barely managed to fend them all off, claiming to have a headache, but they all seemed suspicious of the reaction. Hannah thought she would go spare before long.
Finally she crept into the Infirmary at near midnight, practically limping into the room. At the sight of a smiling, but still frail looking Susan, Hannah burst into tears.
"Oh, Susan, what am I going to do?" Through her tears, Hannah managed to tell the whole story to a dumbfounded Susan.
"Merlin's bloody arse!" Susan cursed. "I had no idea Ginny was so demented. I... I'm not sure what to do, Hannah. I really don't know. I didn't plan for anything like this. Oh Hannah, I didn't want this to happen to you, of all people!" Susan began to sob, a harrowing, empty sound.
Hannah sighed and felt worse somehow. It may have been Susan's fault, but she still loved her best friend, even with all her problems. They'd get nowhere if they just spent their time crying about it.
Hannah sat on the bed and hugged her friend tightly. "I know, Susan, I know. I guess I'll just have to figure something out. I should have enough hair left to keep the Polyjuice for at least a few weeks, I hope. I'll just have to keep it up until we can figure something out."
Susan sniffed and wheezed. She blew her nose loudly and wiped it on her sleeve. "There's something in here that can help you, Hannah. It's not nearly enough to pay you back, but it will help."
Hannah blinked in surprise. "Here? In the Infirmary?"
Susan smiled slightly. "I think you'll like this surprise."
Hannah scratched behind her ear. Susan's little gift turned out to be extremely effective, relieving some of the ridiculous tension Hannah had been experiencing. Over the past few days, Hannah had managed to dump most of her little admirers and partners, although there were still two she hadn't been able to get rid of.
Harry, of course. It seemed a bit odd to dump him now that the 'project' had started and mutated. In a strange way, Hannah really wanted to see it through, just to prove to herself and Susan that they could win the day somehow. And being with Harry wasn't entirely unpleasant either. Their conversations were lively and fun, and their more intimate moments... well, Hannah didn't have much to compare to, but she found their couplings to be passionate and fiery in a way that surprised her every time. And she truly felt Harry had some connection there, as well.
"Nice to see you smiling, Ginny." Harry sat down on the Gryffindor couch next to Hannah. He grinned and put his arm around her shoulder.
Hannah smiled and snuggled closer to her so-called boyfriend. "How's Snape? A right bastard as always?"
Harry laughed. "Yes, as always. Although I don't particularly like to admit he's not the worst Defense teacher... far better than Potions anyway."
Hannah shrugged. "Yeah, I suppose. Snape was never that horrid to me, really, at least not more than any other non-Slytherin. And Slughorn really likes me for some reason."
Harry raised an eyebrow. "You don't mean in 'that way', do you Ginny? Because perhaps I should have a word with the dear Professor." Harry pinched Hannah on her thigh.
Hannah shrieked, leaping up. "You prat! Slughorn is harmless. He just recognizes talent for talent's sake, instead of for fame, is all." She smacked Harry with a throw pillow.
"Talented, are you?" Harry grabbed the pillow and wordlessly transfigured it into a rose. He pinned the flower in Hannah's hair.
Hannah blushed, impressed despite herself. "Well, talented in the ways that count, let's just say."
Harry brushed his hand on Hannah's cheek, and she felt her pulse race.
"I catch your meaning, Ginny. Do you think the Prefect's bathroom is available? I can check the Map..."
Harry and his marvelous Map. Hannah had only begun to learn about all of Harry's amazing little secrets. No, she wasn't about to break that off anytime soon. Besides, it wasn't like Susan could just step in, in her condition anyway.
That part wasn't so bad, but Hannah's other boyfriend though...
Malfoy sneered. He was always an arrogant jerk and almost cartoonishly mean to Hannah, but he seemed to think she would appreciate it. Hannah had no choice but to keep up the charade, Malfoy just wouldn't let her go. In a way, he had almost become a caricature of himself since their chance meeting in the Room of Requirements.
Still, although he was a significant pain to deal with on a personal level, once they proceeded to more passionate pursuits, Hannah found she could appreciate it as long as they were in the complete dark... Then, the spark and passion almost made up for the fact that on an intellectual level, she was still shagging Draco Malfoy. At least the nausea had ceased after the first week.
And so it went, balancing a secret Slytherin affair with an open Gryffindor relationship, Hannah continued to fake her way through Ginny's life. Every day she hoped for some inspiration, some idea that would save her and save Susan's plan. But as the second week in Ginny's body began to come to a close, she still had no ideas, and was beginning to run out of Ginny's hair.
Hannah sat glumly in her Defense Against the Dark Arts class, practicing spells she had mastered already in Dumbledore's Army. Snape was a terrible man, but a somewhat decent Professor, when she was able to ignore him.
"Professor?" Draco Malfoy knocked on the open class door. He winked in Hannah's direction, who managed to weakly return it.
"Oh, Draco, what can I do for you?" Snape sounded almost civil. How bizarre.
Malfoy held up a glass of some alcohol, probably a kind of brandy. "Slughorn was going to give this as a gift to Dumbledore, but I volunteered to deliver it personally to save him time. He quite appreciated the gesture, I assure you. Very expensive, and I believe this is one of your favorite varieties?" Draco smiled in an oily manner at Professor Snape.
Snape rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Well, I'm sure the Headmaster wouldn't miss a single glass. Ten points to Slytherin for your foresight. Bring it here, Draco." Snape glared at the rest of the class, as if daring them to speak. No one did, of course. Snape waved his wand and conjured two small shot glasses.
Draco grinned widely and bowed arrogantly. "My thanks to your generosity, Professor."
Snape smirked. "None of that, Draco. And not a word to the Headmaster about this, understood?"
"Naturally, sir," Malfoy responded.
Snape poured himself a generous helping and gave Draco a reasonable amount. He held up his glass and Draco did the same.
"To Slytherin, then," Snape said, and tilted back the liquid in one quick, fluid motion.
Draco blinked in surprise, then shrugged. He sniffed the brandy and lifted it to his lips.
Suddenly Snape began to cough and sputter, clutching his throat.
Malfoy froze and dropped the glass, which shattered on the floor.
"Dra... Dra... The Bez... bez... Potions room..." Snape grasped at Malfoy's shirt as his mouth began to foam up.
Malfoy stood stock still, a look of shock and horror on his face.
Snape shuddered and his body began to spasm. His eyes rolled back into his head and he began to utter nonsensical mutterings and grunts.
The class was too shocked to react. Hannah found she could barely breathe.
It was over soon enough.
Of course, after that, Hannah had little choice but to help 'comfort' Draco, which she did not particularly feel like doing. Malfoy had really started to grate on her nerves, and the passionate and fiery interludes no longer made up for his abrasive and annoying personality.
"Oh, Ginny... that's brilliant. Just right there, that's the spot. Don't stop Ginny, don't stop."
Hannah, against her will, began to find herself getting into it. It was odd, how different Draco was in bed. It was almost like he was an entirely different...
Hannah shrieked and backed against the wall. Seeing someone shift from a Polyjuiced form was quite distracting. No! It couldn't be!
"What the hell?"
Harry Potter looked nervously at Hannah. "Um, Ginny, I can explain. I thought you were fooling me too!"
"But... what? That doesn't make any sense!"
"Oh hell, Ginny, let me explain! Please, I beg you!"
Hannah summoned her robes and draped them over her shoulders. This was rapidly getting out of control. "All right, Potter, talk. Fast." Hannah mused to herself that perhaps she had this coming.
Harry paced for a minute, then sighed. "Okay, first let me apologize. This got out of hand and then I got a bit stuck. I never really wanted to hurt you... well, that's not entirely true, though." Harry grinned weakly. "I mean, come on! You were cheating on me! You just were!"
Hannah's jaw dropped. "You knew?"
Harry sighed and sat on the floor. "Yeah, I found out. About two weeks ago. I was out in my Invisibility Cloak, and I overheard some of the guys talking about you dumping them. Dean and Seamus. I couldn't believe it. They talked about it like it was a recent thing, but they had been shagging you for months, it sounded like. I was furious. I decided to follow you, but every time I found you talking to another guy, they propositioned you and you turned them down. I thought maybe you were just realizing your mistake and were going to settle down. I was willing to let it go."
Harry grimaced. "And then I caught you with Malfoy. And not only did you NOT break it off with him, you had apparently been shagging him for bloody YEARS. I wasn't thinking straight, all I could think of was revenge. So I ambushed Draco and Stunned him." Harry chuckled sadly. "Getting him back for earlier this year... he ambushed me on the train, you know. I smacked his frozen face a bunch of times, but then I had an idea. To get back at both you. I'd pretend to be him and mess things up with you publicly, then I'd 'find out' and dump you. It's not the first time I used Polyjuice, you know. Did it once before, back in your First year, during the Heir business. But I suppose it was you all along wasn't it? I guess it always is, innit?"
Hannah sighed. "Harry..."
Harry held up a hand. "You know what, Ginny, let me... let me finish. It was weird, you know? I thought it was a simple, foolproof plan. But then something odd happened. I started feeling great, just amazing with you. It was like you changed into an entirely different person."
"I mean, I was attracted to you before, of course. But this was different. When we were together, it felt like I was the only one in the world with you. And when I was Malfoy, I still did." Harry laughed suddenly. "Hell, I suppose it was just me with you after all. Suppose that's why I felt that way. I hated pretended to be that ponce, but I couldn't give it up. I couldn't give up the amazing relationship we suddenly had... either one. I couldn't do it." Harry sighed and buried his face in his hands. "This whole mess is buggered up."
"Um, Harry, where is Malfoy then?"
Harry began to laugh then stopped suddenly and sighed. "I suppose I ought to come clean with you, Ginny. It's no use keeping it to myself anymore. I accidentally killed him."
Hannah's eyes bugged out. "What? Are you balmy?"
"I know, I wouldn't believe it about myself either. I'm not sure it wasn't a subconscious thing, anyway. I was harvesting his hairs for the potion, you know? Used Diffindo to cut off some hairs and I accidentally hit his neck." Harry chuckled ruefully. "I didn't even realize he was dead until I came back later and saw all the blood."
Hannah couldn't help it and laughed. It all seemed too familiar.
Harry blinked in surprise.
"So what did you do with the body, then?" Hannah asked.
"Um, I incinerated it. Then I transfigured the remains into a cupcake and fed it to Ron. He was glad to have it."
Hannah gasped and giggled at the same time. "Harry Potter, you are horrible! Turning your best friend into a cannibal." Suddenly the stress of the last two weeks burst inside Hannah, and she began laughing hysterically.
Harry grinned. "Well, at least Ron was finally getting the better of Malfoy." He looked about ready to start laughing himself.
With a show of effort, Hannah managed to calm herself down. She shook her head with a bemused expression. "You're insane, Potter. But I think..." She paused and bit her lip. "I think I need to come clean as well."
"Come clean?" Harry looked surprised. "About what? I already know you were cheating on me. You cheated on me, I pretended to be Draco and accidentally killed him. I think we're even."
"No, I've been pretending too, Harry. I've also been pretending to be someone else. Pretending to be Ginny."
Harry looked puzzled. "But I don't understand. Are you saying you aren't Ginny?"
Hannah nodded miserably.
"But then who...?" A look of comprehension slowly dawned on Harry's face. "No. You're... Hannah?"
Hannah nodded again.
"Then that body they found was really Ginny? Then why did she look like Hannah... I mean you?"
"It wasn't supposed to be permanent. I only planned to be her temporarily, and I accidentally killed her as well." Hannah couldn't help but grin. "But I suppose you'd know all about that."
Harry laughed. "Wow, this is a bizarre situation we're both in. So the reason you've seemed like a different person, both conversationally and, um, when we're 'together'... is because you really were a different person?"
"Yeah, that's about right." Hannah sighed. "But that wasn't the point of it all. I wasn't trying to be Ginny for so long, I just didn't have a choice. After she died in my body, I couldn't just reveal it was really me. Would've raised questions I couldn't answer, especially if they used Veritaserum on me."
"So, what was the plan then?" Harry asked, scratching his head. "I mean why didn't you break it off with Draco like you did with the other ones?"
Hannah grimaced. "Draco didn't make it easy on me. He made it sound like we had been together for a long time. Plus our time together was suddenly amazing... although I suppose that was really you, now that I think about it?"
Harry grinned rakishly and shrugged. "What can I say? I'm very talented."
Hannah grinned but then sighed again. "The plan was to break you and Ginny up. Susan and I were doing it, actually. She's the one who's got it bad for you. We actually did something like this once before, when we broke up you and Cho."
"You two were responsible for that mess?" Harry looked surprised. "Susan has it bad for me? Does this have something to do with why she's been in the Infirmary for so long?"
"Yeah, it's the Polyjuice." Hannah said. "When you keep changing back and forth between your real form and a Polyjuiced form, it messes you up pretty bad. She was trying that with Ginny without my help or knowledge, but got seriously ill because of all the shifting. After that, I had to help her. That was two weeks ago."
"But then how did you avoid the Polyjuice aftereffects?" Harry asked. "I mean, since you've been Ginny for two weeks and all."
Hannah lifted up her hair and showed Harry her ear. "Medical earring. It gives regular doses of medicine that you connect with it, and lasts as long as you have the supply. Normally it's used for actual medicine, but it works with any potion. So I've been Ginny the entire time. I couldn't take the chance of anyone seeing 'Hannah', after all."
"Wow." Harry leaned back against the wall. "I guess we're both murdering impostors then. Although I can't say I'm really sad Draco's gone."
"Neither am I, to be honest." Hannah leaned forward in a conspiratorial manner. "He had some dark plan to sneak Death Eaters into school and attack Dumbledore. He told me that much, although none of the specifics."
Harry clenched his fist. "I knew it! I mean, I suspected it at first, what with how suspicious Malfoy was acting. None of the other Slytherins knew anything, it seemed. But then Snape said some things, and I was sure they were planning something. But I couldn't reveal I wasn't really Draco to Snape. I was stumped there."
Hannah blinked and gasped. "Wait, does that mean it was really you who killed Professor Snape?"
Harry shook his head. "Sort of. But that was an accident too. Slughorn really did give that brandy; I had no idea it was poisonous. And then, I didn't really want to save him. Even if I knew how."
Hannah shuddered suddenly. "Hmm. The potion is going to wear off soon." She grimaced in pain as her form began to shift back to her original body. It felt weird, like wearing clothes after being naked for days.
Harry smiled warmly. "You know, you really are quite pretty, Hannah. I can't believe I never noticed it before."
Hannah flushed and turned away. "Shut up, Potter. I still don't know what the hell we're going to do. I hate being Ginny, and I can't be my real self either."
"All I know is I hate being Malfoy and I don't want to give you up." Harry said earnestly.
Hannah's eyes widened. "Wait a minute..."
"Do you have an idea, Hannah?" Harry grinned. "It sounds odd to say that, even though you seem so familiar."
"Well, don't get used to the name, Harry," Hannah said. "Because for this plan, you won't be using it much at all."
"What's the plan then? Pretend to be someone else?"
Hannah grinned wickedly. "We give Susan what she wants."
"What does Susan want?" Harry asked.
Hannah laughed. "You, of course."
Harry frowned. "Uh, I don't follow."
"We stage Draco and Ginny's death in some way to get rid of that loose end. Make it look like a lover's suicide pact. But after an appropriate mourning period, you find 'comfort' with Susan." Hannah smirked. "And here's the best part. Instead of worrying about running out of hairs of someone long dead, I take turns being Susan."
"Wait, hold on a second." Harry held up his hands. "You're saying you want me to date Susan as her and Susan as you?"
Hannah shrugged. "Think of this way, you get to date two girls at once, plus you still get to be with the one you really want. And Susan's quite good-looking, don't you think? It won't exactly be a hardship."
Harry looked at Hannah in the eyes. "Well, I think I'll still prefer being with you, even as Susan. But I dunno... are you sure Susan will even go for it?"
"She owes me. Plus she wants you bad enough to share you with me, I think, since I'll just be pretending to be her after all."
Harry sighed and then chuckled. "Well, I don't have any better ideas. I guess we may as well give it a shot. It won't be any crazier than what we've already done, after all."
Hannah smiled and nodded.
"So I suppose you'll have to tell Susan then about the new plan?"
"Yeah," Hannah replied. "Visiting times are about two hours from now."
"Hmm," Harry murmured, moving closer to Hannah. "What do you think we might be able to do until then?"
Susan was naturally quite ecstatic with the whole idea and the grin on her face was almost overpowering to behold.
It also turned out Susan was surprisingly quite flexible, which turned out to be a benefit for both Harry and Hannah.
And as for Riddle and the Horcruxes? And his plan to kill Dumbledore?
Well, that's a story for another time.