And Then There Was One
"Okay, now you can add the Boomslang," instructed Snape, staring pointedly at Neville. The rest of the students put the dry shreds of Boomslang skin into their cauldrons. Harry and Ron were able to work together today (poor Hermione was stuck with Malfoy). As Ron absently stirred, Harry put in the final ingredient. After several moments, Snape spoke again.
"As of now, your concoction should be a bright orange."
The two boys peered into their cauldron at the watery, yellowish substance.
"Yay," said Harry dully.
"Now," said Snape, "it is time for the taste test." The class, most of which had apparently done this experiment wrong, groaned as a whole.
"Since I need one person to describe their partner's behavior in their reports, only one of you needs to drink. If you would do the honors, Ms. Parkinson…" said Snape, suggestively pushing a tray of goblets in her direction. She obediently rose and handed them out. Harry played a short game of Paper, Rock, and Scissors. Ron ended up taking the drink, grimacing at the taste.
"Oh, and by the way," added Snape in a humourous voice, "You might experience a, er...slight behavioural change when you wake up tomorrow. Happy Halloween!" Before anyone could argue, the bell rang. Harry, Ron, and Hermione walked down the corridor, Ron speaking in an incredulous tone.
"That - ("Ron!" exclaimed Hermione)! I bet he did that just for a cheap laugh! He knows there’s a ball tomorrow!"
"Calm down, Ron," said Hermione. "I'm sure it isn't that bad."
"Hermione, this is Snape we're talking about," said Harry.
"Oh, never mind," she said impatiently. "Which one of you took it?"
Harry pointed to Ron, who raised his hand glumly.
"Which one of you took it?" said Harry to Hermione.
"Please tell me it was Malfoy," said Ron hopefully.
Sadly, Hermione shook her head. "I'm a victim, too."
"Well, there's really no use in complaining now," said Harry matter-of-factly. "We just have to wait and see what happens."
"Easy for you to say," said Ron grumpily. "You didn't drink the potion."
And as Snape had promised, the changes took place. Harry was frightened (to say the least) at his first sight of the day: Ron sitting on the bed next to his...knitting. At first, Harry said nothing, simply staring with a dropped jaw at his friend and the yarn that surrounded him.
"Er...Ron?" said Harry carefully.
"Oh, Harry," said Ron in a suspiciously soft tone. "You're finally awake, sleepy head --" Ron suddenly stopped himself, face filled with horror (or he looked like Harry felt).
"What am I saying?" said Ron normally for a fleeting moment. "Sleepy head? I bet it's that potion. Oh, I simply can't stand that Snape. He's such a nightmare!"
Harry realized it that that had to be it. That was the only way to explain it. Well, he did know something would be strange about Ron, but this was just too much. Needless to say, Harry left his dormitory as fast as he could. He found Hermione in the common room. Reading. Already working on her Potions report. Harry sighed in relief, walking up to her.
"Hey, Hermione," said Harry, "you won't believe what Ron is doing upstairs --"
"Honestly, don't want to know," said Hermione sharply. "I'm busy."
Harry gave her an odd stare. "Well, it's time for breakfast anyway --"
"I suppose you're right, though I couldn't care less for food right now, with all this work I have to do...but then again, food might help. Come on, let's go..."
Harry followed her out of the portrait hole and walked beside her down the corridors, looking at her carefully.
"Hermione, are you feeling okay?" he said uncertainly.
"Oh, sure I am," said Hermione sarcastically. "I've felt like crap ever since I took that Potion of Doom yesterday. How about you?"
Harry was very taken aback, not quite knowing how to answer. "Er...if you must know, I'm feeling kind of confused right now..."
As they neared the Great Hall, Harry heard a strange sound coming from outside, just behind the oak doors. It sounded vaguely like crying. Quickly, Harry gave in to his curiosity, excused himself from Hermione and went to follow the sound.
When he opened the door, he saw Ginny Weasley sitting on the steps, face buried in her hands. Harry's brow furrowed.
"What's wrong?" he asked, concerned. She spun around.
"T-the f-fall colors," she sobbed in a somewhat joyful tone. "So beautiful..."
Harry stared, perplexed. "That's it?"
Ginny nodded slowly. "I don't know why I never noticed it before."
Harry's eyes narrowed at her.
"Ginny, what did you do in Potions yesterday?" She broke into tears again.
"Snape made us take this awful potion," wailed Ginny. "I was picked to take it. Now I can't stop crying!" Without warning, she flung her arms around Harry's neck and sobbed into his chest. He tensed up and fell back against the wall. While he was aware that this was just a by product of the potion (and she was aware of it too), he thought it was just the right thing to hug her back, although he did have a wee urge to ask if she could control the "water works." He held his tongue and thought of something else to say.
"Don't worry," he said gently. "We'll find some kind of antidote...if Hermione complies..."
Hermione didn't at first. Or at second. Or at third, even. Several attempts were made, but Hermione replied in sarcasm. The day passed slowly, as Ginny's overly sensitive attitude worsened and Ron dragged them all over Hogsmeade to look at the latest designs in interior decorating.
"Tsk, tsk, tsk..." tutted Ron, in the bedding department. "Just look at these drapes...Ooh, but look at these --"
"Okay, that's it," said Harry impatiently. "Time to go look for Hermione, everyone."
"B-but what if she won't help us again?" said Ginny tearfully.
"We just have to hope she does," sighed Harry.
"Or," said Ron enthusiastically, "we could give her a gift, like that bedroom set over there! To die for, isn't it --"
"Ron, let's go," said Harry, and with that, he grabbed his two friends by the arms and dragged them out into the open road to start searching.
They looked practically everywhere: The Three Broomsticks, Zonko's, and even the other pub where Hagrid obtained a dragon egg once. But there was still one place that they hadn't checked.
"Let's look in Honeyduke's," suggested Harry, legs growing tired.
"Oh, dear me!" said Ron dramatically. "Her parents are dentists; she wouldn't be caught dead in there!"
"Well, I don't know about you," whined Ginny, "But I want to stop crying! Lead the way, Harry."
So they walked across the street to Honeyduke's and entered. Tentatively, Ginny looked at all of the sweets around her. She spotted one in particular, picking it up for a closer look.
"A Sugar Quill," said Ginny sadly. "I don't have enough." Silently, she started crying again. There was a haughty sigh from behind them.
"Oh, do continue, Ginny," said Hermione, sucking on an Every Flavor Bean. "I so enjoy hearing about your financial woes."
"Oh, don't go there, girl," said Ron defensively. Harry had had about enough of this.
"Hermione, please just listen to me," said Harry hurriedly. "Don't you want to go back to normal at all?"
"Oh, of course not," said Hermione, rolling her eyes. "I just love being miserable."
"Look, if you want us to go back to normal, we need an antidote. You need an antidote."
Hermione actually seemed to be considering this, her head tilted to the ceiling in thought. Finally, she gave up.
"I reckon it couldn't really hurt, since it's also my problem."
"Oh, thank you, Hermione!" sobbed Ginny, happily, throwing her arms around the other girl.
"Air, Ginny, air," said Hermione, pushing Ginny off. "Now, come on…"
So the normal Harry, effeminate Ron, sobbing Ginny, and sarcastic Hermione all headed back to the castle and straight to the library. Hermione hadn't completely lost her touch, seeing as how she knew exactly where she was going.
"Antidotes, antidotes..." she mumbled to herself. "...Eureka!" She picked out a heavy book, dropping it with heavy thud onto the floor. Everyone sat around her to see what she was doing. Flipping back to the index, she asked them, "What's the name of the stuff again?" Silence.
"Yes, of course..." she muttered, flipping to a page that listed characteristic change potions. She moved her finger down the page, pausing at a certain potion called Alterecius. Quickly, the page was turned to the antidote. Skimming through it, Hermione huffed.
"It says here," Hermione announced, "that the antidote is tea." There was a pause.
"What?" the other three said collectively.
"It goes on to say that the potion was designed to gradually reduce the craving for tea so that the curse doesn’t wear off."
"Oh, now that's just cruel," said Ron.
Well, what happened next pretty much went without saying. They snuck into the kitchen, the elves made them some warm tea, and all was right with the world. And it was time for the ball.
Harry and Ron stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom, getting ready. As Harry smoothed out his green dress robes, Ron commented on them.
"I don't care what Mum thinks; those robes do not bring out your eyes." Harry looked at him, startled. Then Ron laughed.
"I'm just kidding, mate," said Ron, brushing his hair. "So bloody paranoid, honestly..."
"Ron?" called a voice from downstairs.
And at the ball, as Harry and Ginny ate silently in the Great Hall, Ginny whispered to him.
"Sorry about today." He looked at her.
"It's alright," he said quietly. "You couldn't help it."
There was a slight pause before Ginny added on.
"Thanks for holding me while I cried."
Both Harry and Ginny blushed, glad that the day was over.
"Happy Halloween, Harry."