Disclaimer: Anything you recognize isn't mine and I make no profit from this, it's just for fun! Oh, and the basic idea for this fic comes from Chapter 16 of "Toil and trouble" by esama – though I'm changing it around a bit of course… it's just that as I was reading the summarized idea I could almost picture it developing movie-like, so I knew I couldn't resist giving it a try!
A… Switched Chance
1. Waking Up.
Harry woke up and knew immediately that something was wrong.
It wasn't the feeling of the world being larger… no, that was expected. They had been trying to go back to their younger selves, after all – aiming specifically at their tenth year of age – so it stood to reason they would be… smaller. It was what they wanted – to have a chance at doing everything over, at doing everything better.
The feeling of his body being… strange… was also somewhat expected. This body hadn't yet gone through puberty. Of course it felt different than what he had grown accustomed to in his… previous life.
No… it was something else…
It was everything else!
The soft mattress. The fluffy pillows (pillows? plural?). The pink (pink!) blanket. The sun softly streaming from the window (a window?), chasing the warm shadows in the room, highlighting plush toys (actual plush toys…!), a beautiful rug, and books, books, books.
He rather liked it, for sure, but…
Since when did he have so many books and… and… plush toys!... in his room? Come to think of it, since when did he have a room? Shouldn't he be locked in the cupboard under the stairs?
Had they somehow missed the right time?
But no… he couldn't recall a time – any time – when he had slept in a room like this, be it at the Dursleys' or elsewhere. This sure didn't look like Hogwarts, nor The Burrow, in fact the room looked sort of muggle, which should point to the Dursleys', except that they didn't have such a room (he would know, as he would have had to clean it if they had) and if they did, he wouldn't be sleeping there anyway.
It was all very confusing… as if he had entered an alternate universe!
Harry's sleepy brain froze in its tracks.
That was it!
The ritual they had attempted was sketchy at best, more than half of it just guesswork on Hermione's part. She had admitted that maybe her translation of the old text 'borrowed' from Number 12 Grimmauld Place was a tad… rocky.
Room for error, as it were.
And clearly, something hadn't quite worked out, and even if they were back to kids like they wanted, they had ended up in a different dimension instead of their own past. A dimension where he wasn't living with the Dursleys – because in no universe would they change their opinion of him quite this much!
It all fit!
So the only question was… who was he living with?
Suddenly, his heart started beating wildly, as a thought he hadn't entertained since he was five wormed its way into his head, making him soar with a hope he could almost not bear to voice…
Could his parents be alive in this dimension? Was he… he swept his tongue over suddenly dry lips… living with them? Was he home?
He could hardly dare to think it, but it would make sense… if he wasn't with the Dursleys… and he most certainly wasn't… then he hadn't had a need to go to them and that could only mean…
Hope was growing and blossoming like a beautiful flower in his chest and he felt his eyes go wide at the possibilities…
If they were all right…
If he was living with his own family…
He could see them…
Hug them, even!...
A soft knock rattled on the door, almost making him jump, and derailing his train of thoughts. It was immediately followed by a cheerful male voice calling quietly: "Are you awake, Princess? Your Mum made some pancakes for breakfast today!"
Harry drew in a sharp breath, feeling like he could explode with happiness: Mum! His Mum, she was here, she had made pancakes! For breakfast! His Mum! And that must be his Dad outside the door and – wait.
The enormous grin that had taken over his face faltered, but he didn't want to – couldn't – let go of the wonderful, wonderful hope, his thoughts scrambled to hold onto it – James Potter had been a prankster, maybe it was a joke, maybe – he desperately tried to keep the breathtaking dream alive but…
But the door was gently opening and revealing a man he vaguely remembered meeting a few times in his other life, at Diagon Alley and King's Cross… a man with brown hair and warm, brown eyes…
"Princess? Hermione? Are you all right?"
Harry sat in shock, staring in undisguised horror at a very worried David Granger.
Hermione woke up and knew immediately that something was wrong.
She was in the dark, lying on what felt like a hard and rough cot, the air was dusty and smelled of mould and was that a spider crawling up her leg?
She ruthlessly suppressed the scream that wanted to be her gut reaction. She couldn't afford it. She couldn't afford to lose her wits! They were at war, and waking up in the dark in what looked suspiciously like a cell probably meant… something not good.
Not. Good. At. All.
Had they been captured?
That seemed likely. She'd been waiting for this horrific eventuality ever since Ron abandoned them, even if she refused to voice it.
Was Harry here with her? Calling out to him seemed risky, she didn't want to attract any notice from their jailers, if there were any nearby. She tried to reach out – noticing with a bit of surprise that she was unfettered – but quickly encountered what felt like walls. Her 'cell' was clearly very small.
She resolutely kept her panic at bay, but she felt like crying.
Where was Harry?
She had to know if he was here… if he was alive at all… There was nothing for it…
She called out to him softly, barely above a whisper: "H-Harry?"
Her voice came out… weird… high pitched and without depth, like that of a child-
Like… that… of… a… child… A child!
The enormity of the situation hit her with breathtaking force.
They had done it.
They had actually managed it.
They were in the past!
Panic gone, she felt elated. She had never before attempted magic with so little preparation, so little research, driven almost entirely by desperation, yet she had succeeded, and not just a spell, but a ritual, she had managed a complex, almost impossible ritual, which she had practically reinvented too!
But – wait. Had she succeeded?
She didn't remember ever being in a place like this in her previous life, but then again, that meant little. She might have forgotten. She might have been nearby and the ritual had provoked a minor displacement: she'd had to resign herself to the highly uncertain nature of most variables she had to include in her calculation, so it was likely – expected, even – that she now found herself almost-but-not-quite where she had wanted to be.
In fact, now that her confusion and fear had died down, she realized the place she was in was a fairly typical cupboard under the stairs. There were bottles of detergents, and shelves full of stuff she couldn't identify but felt decidedly Muggle, and the ceiling was low and inclined. Quite possibly, this was the cupboard under the stairs in her own childhood home and she had 'landed' here instead of in her bed upstairs. She didn't recognized it, but it's not like she had ever paid any attention to it, she thought with a chuckle.
It was a more than plausible explanation… but… why was there a cot, then?
Her wonderings were interrupted by a shrill female voice: "Up! Get up! Now!"
Hermione winced. What the… that wasn't a voice she recognized! Where had she ended up? Perhaps some neighbours? But… but why would they expect her – someone – to be in the cupboard? Surely…
Someone rapped on the door again. "Up!" the voice screeched. No way…
Hermione heard her walking towards the kitchen and then the sound of the frying pan being put on the cooker.
Some of her neighbours kept someone in the cupboard under the stairs? That was outrageous!
The woman was back outside the door. "Are you up yet?" she demanded. Then her tone turned furious as she rapped on the door once more and screeched: "Get a move on, you lazy freak, I want you to look after the bacon. And don't you dare let it burn, I want everything perfect on Duddy's birthday."
What? What was that woman thinking, ordering her about like… like a house elf! This was intolerable!
Hermione burst out of the cupboard's door, intent on marching to the woman and giving her a piece of her mind, when three simultaneous realizations stopped her dead in her tracks.
One. She'd been in this hallway before, just a few months ago in fact, when they had implemented the Seven Potters plan to get Harry away from… well, from here!
Two. Her body was totally different from what she'd ever been, definitely male (she stopped breathing in horror at the realization) and bundled up in rags few sizes too big, the likes of which she'd only ever seen on… well, on Harry.
Three… the tall, thin, horse-faced woman that had come out of the kitchen and was now staring at him with a mixture of fury and disgust… was Harry's Aunt.
Oh, God, thought Hermione faintly as all her indignation disappeared in the face of the stark, unbelievable reality that she – was – Harry.
A stampede on the stairs warned her of the impending arrival of the other Dursleys, and she quietly closed her eyes, torn between shock and horror.