Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, obviously!
Warnings: This is AU, taking place in 7th year after Harry has killed Voldemort. There are still death eaters around. The story is both slash and het depending on how you look at it, though nothing more than kissing goes on. It has temporary alteration of genders among some of the characters.
The time when Severus Snape went courting
the genderbender mender
The noise was deafening as they all ducked to cower under their desks. The very room shook with reverberated pressure wave of the explosion. Debris was flying around the room; pieces of parchment were flying everywhere. Some of them were singed and flakes of it floated down from the ceiling still burning. People were screaming – mostly the girls and one particular blond Slytherin boy. The bedlam soon stopped however when they eventually realised that no one was hurt.
That is to say, not hurt as in bleeding or broken.
Ron Weasley had been working on his potion beside Harry, trying desperately to save it from becoming an utter disaster. It was supposed to be a lush autumn red; instead it was a sort of bluish brown mess with the consistency of thick porridge. Nothing like the flimsy substance Professor Snape had shown them. He had been so preoccupied with his task, he never notices the mistake made at the table behind him. Neville, unnerved by the Professor's close proximity, had added a wrong ingredient and stirred the wrong way. The result had been unavoidable, but the boy would still be heartbroken for some time afterwards.
Slowly the calm settled down along with the flying debris and the students rose to their feet. They surveyed the room, getting a look at the damage. Many scowled in Neville's direction, seeing how it had been him and his cauldron that had caused the mess. Neville himself was however too busy to notice, as he stared at the other person in front of him. They were both still on the floor. Neville had been climbing on to his knees when he had seen Ron – or who he thought was Ron. He reached out his hand in an instinctual gesture and said:
"Ron." But the voice that came out of his mouth wasn't his! It had a distinctly different timbre to it. It was that of a girl's. He immediately clamped his hand over his mouth; eyes wide. Slowly and with great trepidation he turned to look down at him self. He made a muffled shriek and passed out.
"Of all the idiotic *angry muttering* stupid Gryffindor *more angry muttering*" Professor Snape slowly picked himself off the floor, straightening his robes as he did so. He was furious. Once again those moronic Gryffindors succeeded in one of their frequent attempts at destroying his classroom. He straightened his back with a slight creaking sound – silently cursing the fact that he wasn't getting any younger.
"Professor!" The insufferable brat of his former bully was calling to him, demanding his attention. Grudgingly he allowed it and looked at the boy. He was pointing at someone on the floor and Snape distractedly registered the other two parts of golden trio were on the floor; the know-it-all was leaning over the redhead, blocking him from view. But none of that mattered as Snape felt a sudden compulsion. With a sharp jerk he took a lurching step toward the boy-who-lived and grabbed his hand. With a lovesick sigh he stared at the boy; suddenly thinking he was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. In a place deep down Snape knew something was wrong, but he had no conscious desire to stop what came next.
"Oh Harry, my love. How are you? Did you get hurt?" he hurriedly looked all over the boy to check that he was indeed unharmed. Harry looked shocked and tried to pull his hand free of his Professor's. Snape wouldn't let him though. He pulled the boy close and embraced him with the other arm while still holding onto Harry's hand. He bent down and took a deep sniff of the boy's hair.
"Oh you smell so lovely, my Harry. How good it is to hold you in my arms." He moved down to kiss his love, puckering his lips as he drew closer. The boy in question was however struggling and trying to put as much distance as he could between them. Just as the potions master was about to plant one on the boy-who-lived, he was struck on the head by a book and was sent tumbling to the floor. Seamus Finnigan stood behind him holding the heavy volume of Advanced Potions for Serious Brewers. Harry dazedly nodded his thanks at his classmate and hurriedly sent a petrificus totalus at their Professor.
"Well, as best as I can tell, Longbottom's potion was already botched by the time he added the clipped mugwort seedlings." The ministry's potions master in charge of the investigation stated. "This ingredient along with the wrongful stirring altered the potion profoundly from a harmless remedy for hormonal imbalances to a potion capable of altering a person's gender. It is actually a real breakthrough!" he added excitedly. "Potions masters all over the world have been trying to make such a potion since the art of potions making began." The man was practically bouncing with excitement. The gender altering potion was one of the holy grails in the world of potions, along with the cure for lycantropy. To think that a mere boy had made the discovery..!
"Be that as it may," McGonagall interrupted, with a frown at Dumbledore who made no move to take charge of the briefing. "It does not explain why Professor Snape became… well, enamoured with Mr. Potter." She found the thought of the snarky Professor wooing her Gryffindor offensive and greatly disturbing. The man was too old for the boy and she was pretty sure Harry had no amorous inclinations toward his own gender. He had been linked with several young girls, who were infinitely more suitable for him, than her colleague.
"Never mind that, Minerva!" Pomfrey said indignantly. "I'm sure it is of much greater importance to know if the changes are permanent or not. I'm sure neither Ronald Weasley nor Neville Longbottom wishes to remain female." The two women glared at each other. Dumbledore held up a hand to instil peace between them.
"Now, now, ladies. Let us hear Mr. Kensington out." He nodded his head at the man. The two women huffed but backed down.
"Well… yes, ehm… well, as I stated, no one has ever been able to make the gender altering potion before… so we don't really know anything about it. The changes could be permanent, but they could also wear off sooner or later. We will need to do extensive research and run tests to know more." He had the good graces to look apologetic. Even Dumbledore lost the twinkle in his eyes.
"It would really be a help if we could have the assistance of Professor Snape. He is without a doubt a highly skilled potioneer and he could make a great contribution."
"I don't see how; when all he does is spout romantic nonsense at Mr. Potter!" McGonagall protested.
"Minerva." Dumbledore sent her a warning look.
"Ah yes, well… I do believe that he was struck by Mr. … Miss… eh… by Ronald Weasley's potion. I was able to test a sample of the potion and it would appear to closely resemble a strong love potion called lover's guilty pleasure. It has no antidote, but there is a strong likelihood that the potion will wear off on its own within the next couple of months." His statement was met by silence, then:
"A couple of…"
"Are you saying we have to listen to that sickening drivel for even longer?"
"Albus, say something!" McGonagall demanded. His eyes twinkled with mirth and she suddenly felt dread and a great sympathy for her colleague lying in a hospital bed under restraints.
"Since Mr. Potter seems the object of Severus' affections, maybe we can enlist the young man in assisting us. He might be able to persuade Severus to help." McGonagall sighed. She knew that look. She already felt the head ache coming on.
To say the children were pleased, would be the understatement of the century. Ron had fainted no less than three times upon discovering his feminized state. Neville just sat there staring at him (her?) self in the handheld mirror; looking rather shell shocked. Hermione hadn't left Ron's side and was now looking decidedly pale and unsure. It wasn't every day one's boyfriend turned into a girlfriend and she wasn't into that sort of thing. She preferred boys, thank you very much! Harry was trying to focus on his friends and ignore the embarrassing comments from his Professor on the other side of the room. They had had to tie him to the bed, to keep him from assaulting him. Harry wished they had included a gag as well.
And now they expected him to go over there and ask the man for help? They would actually untie him and let him roam free? Free to make another attempt at groping his arse and kissing him? Harry sighed. Dumbledore was looking at him expectantly. Slumping slightly he made his way across the room to stand by the potions master's bed. Dumbledore flanked him on the other side. Snape was lying on the bed, looking at him with such a pitifully longing expression, that Harry couldn't help but feel sorry for the man. He would be furious when he came to his senses again and Harry knew Snape would be sure to blame him for everything.
"Harry, my love, why won't you talk to me? I only want to love you. Please let me." He begged. He couldn't understand why his beautiful little Gryffindor wouldn't come near him, but he was overjoyed that he was finally near enough to ask. Oh, how he longed to reach out and touch him. He could tell the boy was unhappy about something and he really wanted to hold him and make it all better. Harry winced. He wanted to scream at the man to not call him that and to stop already. He looked at Dumbledore who waited patiently for him to make his move.
"Professor," He began, but was interrupted by Snape.
"Please, Love, call me Severus." Harry swallowed. This was wrong, so wrong.
"Severus," he conceded, making the man beam at him. The incongruous sight was so startling, that it wasn't until Dumbledore cleared his throat that Harry continued. "Severus, I was wondering if I could ask you to do something?"
"Oh, anything, darling. I'll do anything for you." Snape's face was swimming with loving emotions. Harry swallowed again.
"The explosion in the potions classroom… it caused Neville and Ron to change gender and no one knows how to change them back again." Snape was sending him an odd look now, but he ploughed on. "I was wondering if you might be able to help?" Snape pulled a face as if he had eaten something sour.
"Why?" Snape asked, looking angry. Harry was at a loss.
"What? Because you know more about potions…"
"That's not what I mean!" Snape yelled at him in anguish. He tried to turn away, but the restraints held him firmly in place. To Harry's astonishment a single tear made its way free and trickled down the snarky man's cheek.
"Then what...?" he asked hesitantly.
"Why would I help those harlots? Why do you care so much about them?" the man closed his eyes and sobbed painfully. Harry stared at him, then glanced at Dumbledore and then returned to look at the crying man. Could it be? Was Snape jealous? The thought was preposterous. But it seemed to fit. Regardless of that, Harry couldn't bear to have the man lying there in such pain. He had to do something. Hesitantly he took a step closer and put his hand on the man's arm. Snape's eyes flew open and snapped to look at him.
"I care because they are my friends. Ron is practically my brother and Neville… reminds me a lot about me…" he became lost in thought, as he pondered his relationship with Neville. They had a lot in common in terms of their background and Voldemort. Neville was forced to be something of a loner, just like Harry had been before starting at Hogwarts. He was uncertain and bumbling just like Harry felt at times.
"Do you love him?" Snape was asking, staring up at him with sad, apprehensive eyes.
"What? No!" Harry's response was immediate and unhesitant. It made Snape smile, as he now knew the boy was telling the truth.
"Then I will help." Dumbledore perked up and Harry smiled. "But on one condition." Harry paled. What ever the demand it would not be good.
"What?" he held his breath.
"I want to court you."
"Now Harry, my boy, do calm down." Dumbledore said amiably, as he watched his champion for the light pace agitatedly around his office. Fawkes trilled and fluffed his feathers, but remained on his perch. The boy's magic crackled in the air like stray electricity, making Albus's hair and beard stand on end. He calmly tried to smoother his beard with one hand.
Harry was clearly very agitated by the potions master's demand. Courting was serious business in the wizarding world, leading to marriage contracts and family alliances. With Harry being the heir of the Ancient and Noble House of Black, thanks to Sirius, a formal courtship would hold great importance in the eyes of the wizarding world. Snape being an outcast of the House of Prince* would not however make him a suitable match in society's eyes. Not that Harry was even thinking of such things. His upset revolved more around the fact that it was his greasy old git of a Professor and that he would not help otherwise.
Albus Dumbledore sighed. Off all the courtship offers he had expected the boy to receive this one was certainly out of the blue. He couldn't help but consider it though. As the boy's magical guardian it was his duty to protect the boy and to sort all the unwanted courters from the wanted ones. Trouble was he didn't know if he wanted his boys together like that. Severus Snape had been under his guardianship, when he had been a boy and the old headmaster still felt protective of him. He sighed again. In many ways it would be a match made in heaven. The boys were much a like, shared a similar background, had both seen so much more than they should ever have had to see. And there was no doubt Harry's compassion and youthful spirit would be beneficial to Severus – and Harry could benefit greatly from Severus' strength and stability. Dumbledore sighed yet again. Something he seemed to be doing a lot today. The real trouble was that neither boy seemed interested in their own gender and each other and that the demand for courtship was only made under the influence of a potion.
"Harry, please sit. I know you are upset, but you will find no comfort by wearing a hole in my carpet." The boy glared and with a theatrical sigh flumped into a chair. Dumbledore made a show of pouring a calming potion into the tea cup before presenting Harry with it. He took it with a small nod of thanks and Dumbledore smiled at him. Now they could get down to business.
"You're not seriously going through with it?" Ginny whispered furiously. She and Harry were sitting in the Great Hall waiting for Hermione to appear with Ron and Neville. It had fallen to her to help the pair adjust to their new circumstances. Apparently just getting them through the normal morning routine had been challenging. Both boys turned girls had refused to take a shower, saying it was indecent to see a girl naked like that, never mind that the "girls" were themselves and all the other girls had already left the bathroom. Then had followed the hair and makeup and getting dressed in girlie undies. When Harry had left for the Great Hall, it had been to the sound of hysterical screaming and the sight of other girls high tailing it out of the girls dorms. He brought his mind back to the present and Ginny's question.
"I have to. What other choice do I have? We need his help." She frowned at him, knowing he was right.
"But still… do you even like guys? And let's not forget who we're talking about here. It's Snape for Merlin's sake." She shuddered.
"I know who it is!" Harry said sharply. He wasn't feeling particularly at ease with this conversation. Truth be told, he had never considered wether he liked girls or boys. It had never seemed relevant before compared to the war and the horrors that lay ahead. He had dated girls because that was what was expected of him and he had never questioned that there were other options. He supposed he wasn't totally put off by the idea of being with a boy. But being with Snape was an entirely different matter.
He was startled out of his thoughts, when the Hall suddenly fell silent. He looked around and spotted the cause. Hermione, Ron and Neville had appeared at the door. He smiled. Who knew those two would make such pretty girls? Ron looked a lot like Ginny in fact, but with a decidedly Ron-ish feeling to him (her?). The freckles were still scattered over the cheeks and nose, giving him a perky look. The hair was long and pulled into a high ponytail and a subtle layer of makeup accented his features. His robes were closed, completely hiding his body from view.
Neville was still a bit plump and his rounder features made him look extraordinarily pretty as a girl. His hair had also grown longer and now fell around his shoulders in a soft wave. His makeup also accented his features nicely. He wore a robe but kept it open, allowing the onlookers to see the girls school uniform he wore. He had a nice figure, Harry thought with surprise. His breasts were surprisingly ample and his hips curved out giving him something of an hourglass figure, though it could be difficult to tell because of the uniform.
Somewhere in the Hall someone made a catcall and both turned pink immediately. Ron turned on the spot and made for the door, but Hermione grabbed him and turned him back. She grabbed Neville by the arm and with determination steered both boys (girls?) down the aisle to where Harry and Ginny were sitting. Both were crimson in the face, when they finally sat down. The catcalls soon stopped and people settled for whispering and gossiping, some pointing at them and looking over their shoulders at them.
"You look very nice…" Harry said to them at a loss for what else to say. Neville blushed even further and shyly looked down at the table, while Ron blew a small fuse.
"Stop that, Harry! We're not girls, so you don't have to treat us like that." he said angrily.
"Sorry." Harry mumbled. Neville sent him a small half smile and Harry felt a bit better about it.
"But Ron, you are a girl!" Ginny pointed out. Harry shook his head with a smile, as he listened to the two siblings arguing.
It was now Friday night a week later and the moment Harry had been dreading had arrived. He was going on his first date with Severus Snape. Professor McGonagall had agreed to be the chaperone, as was only proper for a courtship. Something that both embarrassed and heartened Harry. It was embarrassing to know that someone else would be there observing them all the time, but he was glad that he wouldn't be alone with the over-amorous potions master. The man had already assaulted him on several occasions, when they had come across one another in the halls. So far it had only amounted to some awkward moments and some groping, which Harry had had to hex his way out of. He had made it point not to be alone in public after that, just in case.
So here he was, trying to flatten his hair into some semblance of a hairstyle and dressed in fancy clothes. Ginny had insisted that he wear the dark grey formal dress trousers he had worn at Christmas and the emerald button down shirt she had picked out for him in Hogsmeade. He also wore a Texan tie with a small silver dragon on it that Charlie Weasley had given him for Christmas. He had a black leather jacket in case they were going outside. He knew they couldn't leave the grounds; Dumbledore had vetoed it, preferring to keep Harry within the vicinity. He sighed. He couldn't stall any longer.
He went to McGonagall's office to retrieve her and together they made their way to entrance hall, where they had agreed to meet with Severus Snape. He was standing there waiting for them and Harry couldn't help the small startled gasp that escaped his lips. The man looked good. His hair wasn't greasy any longer and had been pulled into a low pony tail. He wore a black button down shirt and dark grey trousers. A black jacket was slung over his left arm and he held a single red rose in his hand. He presented the rose to Harry when he came closer. Harry cringed a little inwardly at the obtusely romantic gesture. Honestly, he was neither a girl nor a Hufflepuff. But he took the flower any way, noticing the thorns had been removed so he wouldn't prick him self on them.
"Harry, Darling," he could tell Snape was struggling to keep himself in check, glancing slightly at McGonagall, who kept back with a frown. "I am so glad to see you. It has been such a long wait. But now you are finally here with me." He looked as if he wanted to fling his arms around Harry. Harry made a noncommittal noise, not wanting to encourage nor discourage the man. Snape beamed at him
"So, where are we going?" Harry asked, trying to relax a bit. Snape sent him a beatific smile, something Harry had never thought to see on the man's face, that it almost made him giggle. He was more nervous around this utterly confusing version of his Professor, than he was when the man was sending him his worst glare and insults in class.
"The astronomy tower." Snape said. Harry was taken aback. Surely he wouldn't..? The astronomy tower was mostly used by the students for more… urgent, pleasure filled activities. Then he remembered that McGonagall would be there, so nothing like that would take place. He breathed a little easier as he followed the man up the stairs.
The sight that met him was truly spectacular. The tower had lanterns with pixy lights all over and a dining table set for two was standing in the middle. It had a table cloth of a red and white chequered pattern. A candelabra was lit on a stand beside the table and a violin was floating in the air, playing a soft tune without the assistance of a musician. It was almost sickeningly romantic and Harry felt like he was suddenly re-enacting the scene from the muggle movie Lady and the tramp. He had no illusion either who was cast as the lady and who as the tramp. As he was shown into his seat he noticed that McGonagall also had a chair and small table over by the door, so she could unobtrusively observe, but remain comfortable at the same time. Somehow he found Snape's consideration for the woman's wellbeing sympathetic. He would never have thought of it himself.
The meal passed with awkward pauses in the conversation and even when they found things to talk about it was awkward for the younger of the two. It just felt so surreal to sit there at an overly romantic setting, talking about himself with the Professor who had always hated him and probably would again. Harry finally gathered his courage and asked what he had wanted to know all along:
"Why do treat me like that?" his voice was soft and he was staring at his plate, to avoid looking at the potions master. Snape regarded him with a simpering look.
"Because I love you, my Harry. Surely you can't doubt that?"
"No, that's not what I meant. I meant… how you were treating me before… this." He waved his hand at the scenery. Snape frowned.
"It was necessary. A role I had to play. I am a spy and if I treated you decently, my loyalties would be questioned." Harry was staring at him intently, his mind whirling. "Joining the Dark Lord was the worst mistake of my life and I have tried to atone for it ever since. Please believe me, my love, I never meant to hurt you by treating you like that." He was staring at Harry with a pleading look.
"I understand." He whispered in return. It felt as if his world had been turned upside down somehow. Snape wasn't a git?
At one point after the main meal but before dessert, Snape asked him to dance with him. Harry panicked and refused wildly. Snape stood and grabbed his hand, trying to get him out of his seat. A moment later McGonagall's wand was pointing right between Snape's eyes and Harry was released immediately.
"My apologies, Harry, Minerva. I would never force you to do anything you don't want to do." McGonagall huffed and returned to her seat as soon as Snape was seated again. Harry fiddled with his napkin waiting for his heart rate to settle in a more natural rhythm again. Snape summoned the house elf to deliver the dessert, but they never really found their groove again. Before long it was time to call it a night and Snape escorted Harry all the way to the portrait hole. Once there he took Harry's hand and kissed it, thanking him for a lovely evening and Harry was able to slip into the sanctity of Gryffindor common room, his virtue unscathed, but his mind still whirling.
A few days later found him working beside Neville, mucking out an animal pen in CoMC. Neville was hauling two heavy buckets of water, spilling a bit, while Harry was shovelling the muck into a wheel barrel. Why they weren't allowed to use magic to do the tasks was beyond him. When he saw Neville struggling with the heavy load, he reacted instinctively. He hurried over and grabbed the buckets.
"Here, let me do that." Neville looked surprised at first, then he blushed.
"Thanks." He said softly. Harry poured the water into the trough and went back to work shovelling the muck. Neville stood and looked at him and Harry felt suddenly rather self-conscious. He rather liked Neville and now seeing him as a girl, was confusing to say the least.
"So…" Neville looked around almost desperately, while he tried to think of a topic to discuss. "How was your date with Professor Snape?" Harry clunked his foot on the leg of the wheel barrel and swore at the pain. Neville's eyes widened and he reddened.
"Forget it, Harry. It's none of my business." He said hurriedly. Harry stopped hopping on one leg and leaned on the shovel.
"No, it's okay." He sighed. "It's just that the whole thing is so surreal, you know?" Neville looked at him and nodded slowly. "I don't even know which is worse. The fact that it's Snape or that it's a guy!" Neville blinked and his face fell a little.
"Don't you like guys?" he asked timidly.
"I don't know." He sighed. "I never really thought about it. But it's just weird, I guess… I mean, why would a guy want to date me, let alone court me?" Neville gave him a strange look.
"I'd court you, Harry." Harry looked at him in shock. Neville? Neville fancied him?
"Well will you look at that. Ickle 'arry Pwotter and his fat girlfriend." Harry twirled and had his wand out a moment later.
"Sod off, Malfoy." He spat out with as much venom as he could muster – which in Malfoy's case was a lot. The blond laughed, making his two goons, Crabbe and Goyle, follow suit.
"Aww, am I interrupting your little roll in the hay?" Harry felt the urge to hex the idiot to kingdom come, but the gentle hand on his arm stopped him.
"What's the matter, Potter? The ball and chain won't let you play?" he sniggered at his own joke. "What do think Professor Snape will say to this? Maybe I should tell him." he crowed maliciously.
"Yeah, so what, Malfoy? Harry is free to court who ever he wishes." Neville said, while still holding on to Harry's arm. Malfoy laughed.
"Oh wouldn't you just love that, Longbottom. I bet you can't wait to get into Potter's pants." Neville flushed a deep red, while Harry felt furious. Suddenly an idea occurred to him. Instead of hexing the boy he could make his taunts moot. He only hoped Neville would forgive him.
"Oh, why don't you go bleach your hair? Your roots are showing." He said to Malfoy with an air of indifference and then he turned to Neville, pulled the boy-turned-girl into his arms and kissed him. Neville stiffened for a moment in surprise, but soon gave in and kissed back. Harry felt Neville put his arms around his neck even as he heard Malfoy splutter indignantly and storm off in a huff.
This is nice, Harry thought as they continued kissing for much longer than he had intended. Reluctantly he broke the kiss and rested his forehead on Neville's. They were both gasping a little.
"Wow." Neville whispered.
"Neville, I…" but he never got to finish his sentence as there was the sound of someone dropping a pair of filled buckets and a girlish scream rang in their ears. Harry turned to see Ron staring at them, holding a dirty hand across his mouth and spluttering intelligible nonsense at them.
He took a step toward Ron, seeing as the boy-turned-girl was drenched in water from the dropped buckets and looked very upset.
"Ron, are you all right?" he asked. Ron made a sort of whining sound, still covering his mouth with his hand. His eyes wide with shock. He lifted his other hand to point at Harry and mutter some more. Harry shook his head, realising that Ron probably would be fine. He turned back to Neville, but found that he had disappeared. Muttering under his own breath he grabbed the shovel again and finished shovelling.
"Severus, please." Dumbledore pleaded.
"No, Albus. Absolutely not. I will not work on the reversal for the gender altering potion any more. I only did it to court Harry, but now he has seen fit to choose some floozy over me." He said most indignantly, but with a tear in his eye.
"Severus, Neville Longbottom is hardly a floozy." Dumbledore admonished. Snape actually made a hmmph sound and stuck his large nose in the air. Dumbledore would have smiled, had the situation not been so serious.
"The boy was seen in a heated embrace and kissing my Harry. Without a chaperone!"
"Severus, I'm sure there is a perfectly rational solution to all of this." He hesitated. "Maybe you could both court Harry. I am sure that Harry hasn't rejected your offer…" he didn't get any further, before Snape jumped to his feet and practically hissed at the headmaster.
"Why is it that Neville Longbottom of all people can behave unseemly toward my intended and you still expect me to help him?" With that he stormed out of the office and left the headmaster behind to nurse an emerging headache.
"How could you?" The tearful accusation came, not from Snape or Longbottom, but from Ron Weasley, who was by now sobbing on Hermione's shoulder in the Gryffindor common room. Hermione sent Harry an understanding, yet helpless look.
"How COULD you?" the boy-turned-girl screamed at him. "Snape was my only chance at being turned back to normal and now he won't help any more."
"Ron, I…" Harry was at a loss. He had never imagined that Snape would withdraw his assistance. Harry had upheld his part of the deal. He had gone on that date with the man. Besides it wasn't as if it had featured prominently on his mind when he had kissed Neville. Oh man, this was so messed up. Ron whimpered and ran up to girls dorms, where he and Neville were now staying. Hermione sent Harry a look.
"I'll talk to him." she said and went after him. Harry sighed.
"Are you mad at me too?" he said.
Neville looked at him with concern and came over to sit beside him. He hesitated, before plucking up the courage to take Harry's hand and hold it in his lap.
"No." he said quietly. Harry stared at his hand in the other boy's lap, realising the boy was wearing a skirt. He jumped up, suddenly unable to keep still any longer, and went over to stand by the fire place. Neville hesitantly joined him.
"Look at you! Wearing a skirt and makeup like all the girls." Neville glanced down at him self and blushed. "Lovely though you are, you were supposed to be a boy." Neville looked down at his feet.
"I don't mind, Harry." He said softly.
"What?" Neville looked back at him.
"Oh, don't get me wrong. I want to be a boy again. It's just… that I don't mind being a girl. At least for a while." He added hurriedly. Harry was staring at him in sheer wonder and amazement. Neville shrugged. "It's interesting." With that Harry slowly broke into a smile that soon became a laugh. He pulled Neville into a hug and said:
"Oh, you are something else, Neville Longbottom." Neville chuckled and put his arms around the waist of the other boy, feeling truly happy for the first time in a long while.
"No, Headmaster. I won't do it. Neville and I are dating and I won't cheat on him." Harry crossed his arms over his chest and set his jaw in a very stubborn expression.
"Oh Harry, it won't be cheating. It's normal to court more than one person at a time." Dumbledore tried. Harry wouldn't' have it.
"I didn't say I was courting Neville. I said I was dating him. You yourself have pointed out the difference." It was true, that it had befallen to Dumbledore as the boy's magical guardian to instruct him in the customs of the wizarding world.
When a pair was dating, they could do what ever they liked, without supervision – but also without formal recognition. The boyfriend or girlfriend would not be acknowledged with invitations to formal social events, nor would they be contacted in case of an emergency. The romantic connection simply didn't exist in the eyes of formal society. With a courtship the rules changed. The couple would not be allowed to be alone together, nor would they be allowed to do so much as kiss (though most would try to sneak some kisses and touches in, if they were in favour of the other). They would be formally recognised as a potential couple and be expected to appear together at social functions. The rules would not be lifted until the wedding night. It was also not unusual for a courtship to contain several suitors – hence the restrictions regarding intimate relations. Sooner or later a courtship would come to its natural conclusion of either marriage or dissolvement.
It wasn't unusual for a couple to date for a few years and then move on to courting with the aim to get married. Such courtships were usually brief due to the restrictions placed on the couple feeling more suffocating after the unlimited freedom from the dating period. Among purebloods it was customary to use the dating as an excuse to run wild, before being tied down by an arranged marriage and forced breeding of heirs.
"Well, the solution is easy then." Dumbledore said. "You will have to court him instead." Harry's eyes widened. "And court Severus as well of course." He added. Harry started to splutter, but Dumbledore held up his hand. "I shall contact Mrs. Longbottom and settle the terms of the courtship. Now I believe you have a class to get to." With that Harry was sent unceremoniously on his way to transfigurations class.
The news was soon all over the school and in the Daily Prophet the next morning. Harry felt like hitting his head on the table as he sat in the Great Hall listening to people gossiping and seeing them point to both him and to Snape. Neville had not been able to show himself in the Great Hall and Harry had sent Dobby up with a tray of food. They had not yet been able to talk about the change of events and Harry was dying to know how Neville felt about it. His attitude regarding his change of gender had certainly surprised Harry.
"Don't worry Harry. We won't let you be alone with either of them." Hermione was telling him, as Ron shovelled food in his mouth. Even with his new gender Ron still had the table manners of caveman. Harry groaned. He wanted to be alone with Neville and the thought of his friends sitting there staring at them, was just too uncomfortable to bear.
"Hey! I got an idea. Why don't we go on a double date?" Dean Thomas said. He had been dating Ginny for a while now, since she and Harry had decided to part ways. Ginny beamed, but Harry paled.
"He can't." Hermione said, always the cool voice of reason. "If he goes on a date with one of his courters he will have to go on a date with the other as well." They all looked at Harry in sympathy, knowing full well how reluctant he was to go on dates with their potions Professor.
"Can't he bring both at the same time?" Ron asked while loading his plate with a new round of eggs and bacon. Hermione thought about it and perked up in a big smile.
"Ron! You're brilliant." Ron smiled at the unexpected praise.
"Always with the note of surprise." He said to Seamus, who sat next to him.
"Oh, man. Does that mean I have to go on a double date with Snape?" Dean asked, feeling suddenly appalled. The others laughed and Ginny nodded.
"Yep, but I'll be there to protect you from the big bad bat." She said teasingly and he made a playful swipe at her.
It was soon agreed, that they would go on the next hogsmeade weekend. Harry was soon ordered by Hermione to write a formal inquiry to both of his courters and to their magical guardians. Snape of course was his own magical guardian, since he was of age, but Harry still had to write Dumbledore to inform him of the date (and ask permission, not that Dumbledore would refuse). Harry sighed. It had been so much easier to just be dating.
It was a very nervous group who set out from Hogwarts to go on the infamous date. Dean and Ginny were leading the procession, with Ron and Hermione following. Ron was wearing a skirt for the first time and kept complaining of the draft. Behind them were Neville and Snape, with Harry in the middle. Snape was glaring at Neville and trying to charm Harry, while Harry was trying to ascertain how Neville was feeling about all of this and Neville was trying his hardest to ignore the dungeon bat and just enjoy the proximity to Harry. Behind them came no less than three chaperones. Dumbledore, McGonagall and Neville's scary grandmother, Augusta Longbottom.
The latter had insisted on being present. She wanted to make absolutely sure that her grandson was treated equally and fairly in the courtship. She did not want Severus Snape bullying her grandson out of his chances of being with the Boy Who Lived. Admittedly, she had not been pleased at first. Both at hearing of her grandson's accident – and the alteration of the Longbottom heir's gender – but also of hearing of his involvement with Harry Potter. The boy was still the target of the mad mans followers seeking revenge. But oh what a catch he was. Rich, powerful, influential and handsome. Everything a Longbottom deserved. But what had actually persuaded her had been Neville's eyes as he talked about Harry. He had told her all about the person behind the famous moniker and he had done so with such happiness and love that she had instantly been reminded of her Frank, Neville's father, when he had talked about his Alice.
The procession wound its way along the road and soon entered Hogsmeade. They had agreed to go to The Three Broomsticks for some butterbeer. The chaperones sat at table a little apart, but well within view. Conversation was awkward and they often found themselves looking enviously at the people at the other tables who were laughing and enjoying themselves.
"So, Neville. What do you feel about all of this?" Ginny asked nervously, while Snape frowned. Their seating arrangements had been something of a challenge to arrange. In the end Dean and Ginny sat between Neville and Snape, while Ron sat beside Neville and Hermione beside Snape, leaving Harry to sit between his two best friends. It meant that the only couple that got to sit together was Ginny and Dean. But that was okay, given the alternative which could have gotten ugly real quick.
Neville swallowed and blushed at being put in the spot light and feeling Snape's jealous glare.
"I think its fine, Ginny." Snape snorted derisively. Neville continued anyway. "I've never been on a date before." He said softly. Snape almost laughed, but that was only until he noticed the look in Harry's eyes. He took a swig of his butterbeer. He would have liked something stronger, but that wouldn't do right now.
"You haven't? Well, I'm sure Harry won't mind taking you on some." Dean joked, but stopped when he saw Snape's angered expression. "Along with Professor Snape, of course." He added and hurriedly drank a large sip of butterbeer. Harry was looking from one to the other, wondering desperately how in Merlin's name he was going to be able to save the situation.
"Don't bet on it." Snape said. The others looked at him. "Harry will obviously choose me, once he comes to his senses and then Longbottom won't have a leg to stand on." He took a swig of the butterbeer, ignoring the offended and shocked looks. "Their little fling will die as soon Neville turn's back into a male. Something I am quite close to achieving, I might add."
Harry didn't notice how Neville's face fell at the potions master's words. He was more preoccupied with the fact that the man was obviously further along with the remedy than he had thought.
"Is that true, sir?" he asked beaming. Snape smiled proudly back at him, a look that startled everyone who saw it. He nodded once.
"Yes, I have a very promising brew cooling right now which should do the trick. It will need to be thoroughly tested of course. But I am hopeful. The last sample came close and I have since tweaked the brew."
"That's wonderful!" Harry said. "Did you hear that Ron? It won't be long until you can go back to normal again." Ron grinned and said:
"I heard him, Harry. I heard him." while Snape mumbled "Whoop-di-doo" so softly only Hermione heard him, and she wasn't sure she had heard him correctly. Harry noticed that Neville was looking worried, but he put on a smile when Harry inquired and said that nothing was wrong. Harry didn't believe him, but this wasn't the forum to press the matter.
After another half hour of awkward conversation they decided to head out and take a stroll through the village. Harry hoped the air would clear their heads and maybe he could sneak a moment alone with Neville. But they were being watched by all their chaperones and by Snape as well, so there wasn't much chance of that.
They were just passing Honeydukes when a shout sounded down the street and very familiar pale blond strode out into the open.
"Well, if it isn't the traitor and his little pet."
"Lucius." Snape glared and stepped in front of Harry and the others. Dumbledore and McGonagall instantly rallied to their defence as well. Tension in the street was high as everyone waited to see what would happen. The rest of the death eaters fanned out behind Lucius, ready to fight, though they didn't seem as steadfast about it as when Voldemort had lived.
Afterwards Harry could never really explain what started it, but a fight had broken out and spells had been flying all over the place. At one point he saw a spell hit Snape square in the chest and he was sent flying. He sent the death eater into a full body bind and went to check on Snape. The man looked dazed and confused for a moment, as Harry helped him to his feet. Just as he let go of the man's arm a familiar sneer settled on his features and he said:
"Will you cease your repulsive grabbing at once, Potter. I am not some invalid old lady you need help get across the street." Harry stared at him. "What are you gawking at me for now?" Harry didn't have a chance to answer as another spell came flying their way. He ducked back into the fray and set about capturing death eaters.
When the fight was over they had 7 death eaters in custody and one dead. The rest, including Lucius, had escaped. Their side had a few minor injuries, but nothing worse than that. Dumbledore was looking proudly at them all and awarded them 20 points each. Something that caused Snape to throw a fit. It had become quite clear that Severus Snape was no longer under the influence of the lover's guilty pleasure-like potion. One of his first acts after the fight was to publicly renounce his courtship of Harry Potter. Neville and Harry had shared a smile upon hearing that.
Harry looked on as first Ron then Neville drank the potion Snape had brewed. Madam Pomfrey was standing beside Professor Snape, ready to assist should it be required. Not that Harry thought she could do much of anything if the potion didn't work or worse, if it caused some horrible side effect or something. Hermione must have noticed his nervousness, for she squeezed his hand a little tighter. Or maybe it was her own need for comfort, Harry mused. It was her boyfriend too who was undergoing the procedure.
He looked on in trepidation as both Ron and Neville started to change. It was awful to look at really. Just like when watching someone change with the polyjuice potion. Fortunately it didn't last long and the old Ron and Neville were standing there in the bathrobes Pomfrey had had the foresight to dress them in. Ron looked down at his own body, batted it a few places before making a grab for his crotch.
"Mr. Weasley!" Madam Pomfrey exclaimed and Ron went pink and yanked his hand away. Harry couldn't blame him though. If it had been him, he would have done the same thing.
"'Mione?" Ron looked at his girlfriend. She whimpered and threw herself at him, hugging him and kissing him.
"Oh really. This is most improper behaviour…" Madam Pomfrey began, but there was only amusement in her voice.
"Ah, young love." Dumbledore said wistfully. Snape was scowling and had he not had so much restraint, Harry was sure the man would have rolled his eyes.
"Harry?" Neville's shy voice drew his attention. He looked at his courter, now very much in a male body. He was looking very shy and uncertain, as if he was afraid how Harry would react. Harry's heart skipped a beat. He was so cute. A slow smile spread across his face and when Neville saw it he too began to smile.
Snape sneered at the sickening display of Gryffindorish emotions and left the hospital wing, his robe billowing behind him. A small part of him, one he would never admit to, was happy for the boy. He deserved to be happy. He was just thankful the potions hold over him was broken, before he had made an even greater fool of himself. Thank goodness Potter had never wanted him. He shuddered to think that he could have found himself irreparably bound to the brat with no hope of escape. He needed a drink.
While Snape was storming toward his dungeon and the kids were occupied, Albus Dumbledore and Augusta Longbottom headed off to the headmaster's office, to discuss the details of the future marriage contract for one Neville Longbottom and one Harry Potter.
This was actually intended to be about Ron's reaction to having his gender changed. But then Snape happened and Harry ran away with the story.
Okay so this story contains genderbending, slash and het, the very cliché potions accident and a love triangle.
So how do you think I did?
*House of Prince is coincidentally the name of a cigarette manufacturer in real life (giggles) like Marlboro.