A Be-switching Halloween
The first two months had been the most difficult at Hogwarts yet. Classes and homework were stressful, and Gryffindor Quidditch was more grueling than ever under captain Angelina Johnson. Never mind that Voldemort was back, Muggles were disappearing, and a cloud of fear hung over the school. Halloween was a welcome break from the stress of fifth year life for Harry, Hermione, and Ron.
"You stood on my foot!"
"Sorry," hissed Fred, adjusting the cloak. "I guess we're a tad bigger than Harry and Ron."
"Just a bit."
"Stop," whispered Fred again. "We're here."
Fred and George had sneaked back into the castle after graduation for a last hurrah with a Halloween prank that would make them legends. A freckled hand appeared from nowhere and tickled the pear in the still life on the wall, which giggled, shuddered, and sprouted a green doorknob. The knob then turned and the door opened.
A delicious smell met them the moment the door opened. Fires were lit, and house elves
bustled around, making foods like cakes, truffles, eclairs, and all sorts of candies. Fred smacked his lips, which got him an elbow in the ribs from George.
"You want the elves to hear us?" he breathed. Fred shook his head.
Carefully, they picked their way across the kitchen, heading for the table meant for the Slytherins. George withdrew a vial of a purplish potion from his robes and uncorked it. Slowly, he held it out over a vat of pumpkin juice waiting to be served, and tipped the contents into it. It turned brown before swirling and becoming orange again. He replaced the cork.
"Mischief managed!" declared the twins together in hushed voices.
They turned to leave, but had to dart out of the way as a group of elves went jogging toward the cauldron. They held their breath as they realized they must have been caught . . . But, no, the elves simply looked at the cauldron, nodded, and went back to work. The relief was only momentary, as the few remaining elves lifted the cauldron and moved it to the Gryffindors' table.
"No!" breathed George, trying to rush to the cauldron. Fred held him back.
"We'll get caught!" he hissed. Just then George's arm slid from Fred's grasp and the straining redhead went crashing to the floor, taking the cloak with him.
The elves stared, and Fred and George stared back: Fred standing, George only half visible, prone on the floor. Before any elf could react, Fred shook himself to his senses, grabbed the cloak and his brother and sped through the door.
"That was close!" exclaimed Fred as he and his twin flew down the hall and up the stairs to the Great Hall.
"We'd better tell someone before something dreadful happens," wheezed George, nearly out of breath. Fred nodded. George stashed the invisibility cloak in a cupboard just off the corridor, behind the brooms he knew Filch hadn't used in years, and he and Fred hurried to the entrance hall. The doors to the Great Hall swung open and revealed a mass of orange and black -- floating pumpkins and their schoolmates' robes. Luckily, only a few students and none of the professors seemed to notice that they were there.
Fred and George sidled into empty seats near Katie Bell and Angelina, and before either girl could ask questions, Fred and George launched into explanations of why they were late, and soon the news of the spiked pumpkin juice was spreading up and down the table.
At the far end, Harry, Hermione, and Ron were just digging into their heaping plates of food.
"What on earth are Fred and George doing here?" asked Hermione, seemingly torn between amusement and reproach, reaching for her goblet of pumpkin juice.
"They'll never change," said Ron, somewhat in awe and partly in exasperation.
Harry chuckled to himself. Fred and George were what Hermione despised and Ron idolized. He smiled as he sipped his juice, then promptly sputtered.
"What is it?" asked Hermione in concern, setting down her own goblet.
Harry examined the liquid in his cup. "I don't know. It doesn't taste right."
"Hmm," said Hermione, raising her drink to her lips. She took a sip, made a face, and swallowed. "That is disgusting," she said, pushing the rest away. Ron looked suspiciously at his.
"Well, I'm not tasting it," he said, grimacing as if he could taste it already. He glanced at Hermione, who had an odd look on her face.
"You don't think there was poison in it, do you?" hissed Ron anxiously, edging away from his goblet.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "If there were we'd be dead by now," she said. "I think it may be some sort of potion. Maybe if I go to the library . . ." She stood and moved from the table. Just as she was about to reach the door, Mrs. Norris darted in front of her, causing her to trip and fall flat on her face. They froze. Just then an arrogant laugh sliced through the air.
"All around the Great Hall the kitty chased the Muggle," sang Malfoy, "The Mudblood tripped and fell on her face! Now look at her struggle!" He finished with a flourish, and the whole Slytherin table burst into laughter.
Harry and Ron's faces flushed. Both would have been at Malfoy's throat, but Harry was on the side closest to him and got there first.
"One more word Malfoy," he growled, glaring at him over his glasses.
Malfoy seemed to go from pale to sheet white at the look of murder on Harry's face. He quickly gathered his bravado and spat, "Or what, Potter? You'll hit me?" He burst into laughter again.
Harry's face burned hotter than ever. His heart pounded in his throat, and Malfoy's drawling laughter echoed in his head. Fury overcame him and he drew back his arm and balled up his fist. There was a satisfying crack as his knuckles collided with Malfoy's jaw, and both boys were thrown backwards from the force of impact. Slytherins, Gryffindors, and professors all rushed over, and soon saw what had happened to Mrs. Norris and Hermione had occurred again. Malfoy was slumped against the wall and Harry was collapsed in a chair, both frozen.
"Bugger," breathed Fred and George together, recognizing the effects of their potion immediately.
Someone had awoken Harry and Malfoy. They got to their feet, and were suddenly surrounded by students. Professors McGonagall, Snape, and Dumbledore were trying to get through the crowd, but were instantly distracted by two loud yells coming from the very center.
"Me!" called two voices, "I . . . I'm you!"
Instantly, the surrounding students backed away. Malfoy and Harry were staring at each other, openmouthed. McGonagall and Snape seized this opportunity to reach their students.
"Come along, Draco," said Snape, trying to lead Malfoy away. Harry began to follow him.
"Not you Potter," hissed Snape. He turned back to Malfoy. "I said come along, Mr. Malfoy."
"I am Draco!" said Harry.
"What is all this?" asked McGonagall. "Did you hit your head, Potter?"
"No," said Malfoy, "I did."
"I . . ." McGonagall started. Her eyes darted from Malfoy to Harry and back again. She made an exasperated sound and grabbed both boys by the ear. "I don't know what you're playing at-"
"Please, Minerva," said Dumbledore, his face unreadable. "Bring them both to my office."
As they left, the other professors were trying to get order, while the students began to talk and formulate their own explanations for what had just happened.
Meanwhile, Ron was trying to find something to do with
the prostrate body of Hermione and the frozen form of Mrs. Norris. Fred and George appeared over his shoulders.
"Wouldn't touch her," said Fred from his right.
"Don't know what happens with animals," added George
on the left.
Ron whirled around. "So it was you?"
"Well, now, let us try to explain."
"You have thirty seconds," said Ron, advancing on
"Well," began Fred, "You've heard of Switching Potions, haven't you?"
After the whole story was said and done, Professor Snape came striding up.
"Boys, come with me," he said with a sneer, leading them out of the Hall and into Dumbledore's office, leaving Ron to ponder the Hermione predicament.
They arrived at Dumbledore's office just in time to hear McGonagall's voice.
"Enough!" cried McGonagall. "Now what is going on?"
Flitwick went through the door. "These two can explain," he said, pushing Fred and George forward.
Dumbledore looked at them expectantly, and they began to tell their story, a little sheepishly, and when they had finished, Dumbledore finally cracked a smile.
"I don't believe we have anything to worry about," he said.
"Why not?" asked Harry in his own voice. He gasped and clutched his throat. "I'm back!" he said.
The Professors continued to question the twins as Harry returned to the Great Hall, and Malfoy went to the hospital wing ("I'll get you for this, Potter.").
"Don't tell me," said Ron when Harry arrived, "I know." Harry looked down at Hermione.
"What about her?" asked Harry. Ron shrugged.
Just then, Hermione stirred, sat up, and looked to Ron and Harry. "Meow?" was the first sound to come from her throat. Ron and Harry looked at each other and burst out laughing.
"Here we go again," said Ron, going to scoop up Mrs. Norris.
"Right," chuckled Harry, turning to Hermione. "Well, hello, Mrs. Norris."