Great Partner Swap
thing started during a Herbology lesson. The Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs were content at work in Greenhouse Two,
wrestling with Crescendo Cacti that sung shrilly if they were not treated with
the utmost respect. Professor Sprout had just reprimanded Seamus and Dean for
stamping accidentally on an enormous plant with dustbin lid-sized bright orange
barked. “It took a great deal of work to grow those Autumn Torches! They were
supposed to be the decoration for the dance!”
As soon as
the words tumbled from her mouth she realised her slip. She clapped a hand to
her head muttering “brainless fool.” Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown’s heads snapped up from their
flower bed. Hannah Abbott gasped delightedly. Dean Thomas groaned. Ron looked
you say, Professor?” Lavender asked, breathless with excitement.
Sprout savagely thrust a trowel into the earth. “There is to be a Halloween
Dance this term,” she said resignedly. “It was supposed to be a secret,
revealed next week, but now…” she trailed off crossly.
a flurry of questions was thrown in her direction.
will be able to attend?”
“Is there a
going to be playing?”
“How can we
get out of it?”
Halloween, all fourth years and above may attend, there is no theme unless you
wish to dress up as a pumpkin, a band called the Giddy Goblins will be playing
and no, Mr. Weasley, I believe that the dance is compulsory due to a surprise
Professor Dumbledore has arranged that I have not been silly enough to reveal
surprise?” Parvati asked instantly.
Sprout turned a grubby face towards her. “I’m not that silly Miss Patil,” she said patting
down her wild hair. “But I think it’s to encourage integration between Houses. Stop Gryffindors and Slytherins getting so high and mighty on the
rest of us.” She winked fondly at her beloved Hufflepuffs.
give us a clue, Profesor?” wheedled Hannah Abbott.
you’ll find out soon enough,” Professor Sprout said. “Now get back to your cacti,
in silence please!”
the class returned to their prickly charges, whispering rapidly when Professor
Sprout turned away and tried to rectify the damage done to the Autumn Torches.
what the surprise is,” said Justin Finch-Fletchley,
as the Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs walked back up to
the castle after the lesson.
cares?” Ron said grumpily, swinging his bag further onto his back.
just miffed because Fleur’s not here to ask this
year,” Seamus said, his lip twitching.
quiet,” Ron snapped.
caught up with them, putting her Herbology books in her bag.
“You don’t wait
do you?” she said crossly to Harry and Ron who slowed their pace.
talking to the teacher,” Ron said.
exciting isn’t it?” Hermione said eagerly.
“What? Double Transfiguration?” Ron said.
yes,” Hermione struggled. “But I meant this surprise.”
Harry said thoughtfully. “I wonder what it will be.”
“To encourage integration between the Houses,”
Hermione quoted, “could be anything.”
as long as I don’t have to spend all evening sitting next to Malfoy at the dinner, then I don’t care,” Ron said.
reached the castle steps. The Hufflepuffs had left to
endure double Potions, while Seamus, Dean and Neville waited for them in the
Entrance Hall. As Harry, Ron and Hermione entered the castle, waving to Nearly
Headless Nick as they passed; Parvati and Lavender
joined the group too, giggling furiously, between hurried conversations about
what colour dresses they were going to wear. Seamus turned round, raising his
eyebrows to the heavens.
think we’re going to ever hear the end of this,” he said.
right. Within a couple of hours, news of the impending dance had spread through
the school like a fire; urgently consuming everyone in its path. Everybody
suddenly seemed to know. The corridors were full of giggling girls once more,
the teachers looked haggard as they tried to run lessons amidst the excitement,
and boys loitered in corners, muttering darkly.
thrilling was the mystery of the surprise that Dumbledore had lined up for the
evening. Professor Sprout had been quoted and misquoted numerous times in
numerous states of hysteria. Rumours leaked around the school like one of Professor
Snape’s particularly runny potions. Some said that
you would be forced into dancing with someone from another House. Others maintained
that everyone would have to dress in another House’s uniform for the night. A
Slytherin seventh year spent a whole day grumbling that they would have to
spend the evening in a Hufflepuff common room while allowing the Gryffindors in
theirs, before Fred Weasley stamped on that theory pointing out it did not
encourage integration between the Houses.
what it is though?” Harry said suddenly, as he, Ron and Hermione struggled with
their Transfiguration homework that evening.
can I look at your parchment?” Ron asked.
Hermione snapped. “You should have started earlier Ron. And I really don’t know
what Dumbledore’s planning. I looked back through Hogwarts, a History which says that there have been dances and
balls at Hogwarts, other than the one that traditionally accompanies the
Triwizard Tournament period”. Her eyes flicked down to her work, avoiding
Harry’s expression. “But none of them have been in any way extraordinary. And
there’s no mention of Integration between
be good if Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw could band together and chuck out
Slytherin,” Ron said dreamily. “That would encourage me to integrate with other
Slytherin,” Hermione pointed out.
thoughtful. “Well, I might talk to them a bit, before I chucked them out,” he
it’s what Dumbledore has in mind,” Harry said, blotting his essay by accident.
the last few words onto her parchment, finishing with a flourish.
“Now can I…?”
Ron began, but Hermione silenced him with a glare and tucked her essay neatly
into her bag and out of sight. Ron threw down his quill angrily.
can’t do this,” he snapped. “I don’t know what McGonagall’s playing at, giving
us homework this hard.”
O.W.L year Ron,” Hermione chided. “We have to work really hard for these you
I know, you keep reminding me all the time.”
trying to help you Ron,” Hermione said crossly.
thank you very much,” Ron said sarcastically. “It’s a great help you nagging
Harry and I night and day.”
help,” Hermione said, “don’t I Harry?”
bring me into this,” Harry said quickly, bending over his essay.
wrote, Harry let their argument wash over him. Ron and Hermione had been
fighting a lot lately, he thought. They always had fought, they probably always
would, but this year their bickering was reaching new levels of ferocity. They
argued over what breakfast the other was having, they argued about which lesson
they had first, they argued about whose bag was
heavier and they argued about their homework. Perhaps he was imagining it,
Harry thought, but they seemed especially edgy following the news of the
impending dance. His thoughts and their bickering were interrupted by the
arrival of the three other Weasleys currently residing in Hogwarts, Fred,
George and Ginny.
Gin,” Fred was saying. “You can tell us.”
George said, his arm round a very red-faced Ginny, “you can trust Gred and
what?” Harry asked, curiously.
“Who I want
to go to the dance with,” Ginny said, blushing.
you wonder Harry? Who our little sis
would want to go with Harry? Who she
would want to dress up for Harry? Who she’d want to dance with Harry?”
George said, grinning wickedly. Harry stared very hard at his parchment.
“I see they
are they're getting noisier in their arguing,” Fred observed, looking at Ron
and Hermione who had now begun to shout about weekend work. “We’re going to
have to get them a special room soon; they’re beginning to scare the first
an empty classroom,” George said innocently.
“Or a broom
cackled. Ron and Hermione, seeming to finally notice their presence, stopped
shouting and looked at them.
arguing,” Hermione said, unclenching her knuckles, “we’re discussing.”
“Oh it’s so
nice of you to join us,” Fred said, feigning delight. “We were just having a
very interesting conversation about who Ginny wants to go to the dance with
while you were both hollering at one another back there.”
“Who are you going with?” Ron asked,
his voice slightly croaky from yelling.
know,” the twins said and shrugged in unison.
“So why are
you bugging us?” Ron growled.
getting partners already,” Fred said. “That big fat Slytherin with the short
bony Slytherin, Ernie McMillan has asked some girl in the third year…” he
trailed off, appealing to his twin.
is,” George said, clasping Ginny to him, “is that you lot should get a move
think we should do anything until Dumbledore tells us what he is planning,”
Hermione said pointedly. “It might change things.”
right,” Fred said, leaning against the table, “he’s just sitting all the Houses
on one big table or something.”
seriously suspected that Dumbledore had something much more interesting
planned, but didn’t see any point in saying so.
think that finding partners for Ickle Ronnikins shouldn’t be that difficult and…”
working,” Ron said, taking up his quill savagely. Hermione beamed.
why bother looking for a girl when there’s one right…”
Harry said quietly. The twins looked disappointed. George let his arms drop and
Ginny sidled away. “Just wait for Dumbledore okay?” Harry said.
Fred,” George said mournfully, “our help is not wanted here.”
twins left with only one backwards glance at Ron and Hermione who were seemingly
completely engrossed in their homework.
tips of Ron’s ears gave him away.
at dinner, Dumbledore was sat at the teachers table, chatting happily to
McGonagall. It occurred to Harry that Dumbledore was rarely seen at dinner with
the rest of the teachers. Harry supposed he must always be busy, answering the
hundreds of owls he received from Fudge and the other Ministry officials. Harry
was just about to ask Ron what he thought when Dumbledore stood up, beaming at
the students. There was an instant hush.
evening,” Dumbledore said calmly. “I gather there has been a great deal of
excitement in the school today, thanks to a little secret that Professor Sprout
at Professor Sprout who was attempting to hide her large bushy head behind her
going to leave you all to your rumours,” Dumbledore admitted, “but I believe
some of you are very excited and have started asking prospective partners
over the table from Harry took a sharp intake of breath; hanging off Dumbledore’s
I cannot allow you to do this,” said Dumbledore calmly, “as I want to do things
a little bit differently for this dance.”
talking about?” Parvati hissed loudly to Lavender.
“So as not
to keep Miss Patil any longer,” Dumbledore said
kindly, displaying remarkable hearing for a man of his age, “I will get
straight to the point. On October the thirty-first there is to be a Halloween
Dance as a mid-term treat for you all. It will be open to fourth years and
above, similar to the Yule Ball of last year. But there is one difference.”
Dumbledore cleared his throat. “We
choose your partners for you.”
There was a
silence in the Great Hall as everyone looked at each other uncertainly.
“What?!” shouted Pansy Parkinson indignantly.
Lavender Brown was gripping her napkin very hard.
chuckled to himself. “When I say we I
actually mean them.”
uncertain glances were exchanged between students. Dumbledore beamed over at Hagrid who sidled forward with a big grin, two wizards hats
swinging from his huge hands. He placed them onto the teacher’s table clumsily
and winked at the student body. Dumbledore set them upright, so the brims
rested on the polished table, and addressed the silent school once more.
he said, resting a hand on the top of the dark brown hat to his left, “contains
the names of every boy above fourth year in the school. This hat,” he placed
his other hand on the paler brown hat on his right, “contains the names of
every girl above fourth year in the school.”
of whispers erupted like hissing gas, trapped underground for a long time.
Dumbledore held up a hand against the noise.
to encourage friendships and alliances between members of different Houses, the
hat will pick partners for you. You may receive a partner in your own House,
you may not. Your partner may be one of your very best friends, or you may
never have never even met them. The point of this exercise is not to embarrass
you terribly, but to try and form new friendships.” He smiled at the mutinous
faces around him. “I’m hoping it will be a bit of fun as well.”
Harry had a
sudden image of dancing with an enormous Slytherin girl and his insides seemed
to melt to an unpleasant mush.
be anyone,” Hermione said, next to Harry.
rather pale. “Absolutely anyone,” he said. “It’s like,” he swallowed. “It’s
like a great… big… partner swap.”
considerable discussion,” Dumbledore continued, “we have decided that you and
your partner, whoever they may be, must enter the ball together, dance the
first two dances together, have dinner together and dance the last dance
together. The rest of the evening is yours. I think that’s fair.”
look of a few of the faces in the hall, some people certainly didn’t think it
was very fair, but no one would contradict Dumbledore. Professor McGonagall
whispered something in Dumbledore’s ear and Dumbledore nodded happily.
Professor McGonagall has so rightly reminded me, there has been a spell cast on
the hats so that brothers and sisters are not put together.” He winked at
Ginny. “So you needn’t worry Miss Weasley.”
people laughed as Ginny blushed at being directly addressed. The atmosphere
Dumbledore clapped his hands together happily, “let’s begin.”
Snape stood up, glaring sourly at the students, and snatched up the darker
brown hat. Professor McGonagall took the paler one. They held them upside down,
the brims gaping like indignant mouths at Dumbledore, not dissimilar to the
faces of the students. Dumbledore plunged his hand into McGonagall’s hat and Harry
was suddenly reminded of a man he had once seen shopping with Aunt Petunia and
Dudley, dressed in purple wizards’ robes, who had drawn a white rabbit out of a
top hat. Unfortunately he had not got a good look because Aunt Petunia had
hurried him and Dudley along nervously. Instead of a rabbit, Dumbledore drew
out a little piece of red paper from the hat.
Gryffindor,” he said excitedly over the noise. He unfolded it, almost trembling
with excitement. “Angelina Johnson!” he called out.
few seats up from Harry looked nervously around the hall. Her hands were
writhing in her lap and her normal cheerful, encouraging smile was wavering.
Dumbledore plunged his hand into the boys’ hat, drawing out a piece of blue
be going to the ball with… Roger Davies!”
an instant flurry of talk, and Roger Davies of the Ravenclaw table had gone
very red. He managed to catch Angelina’s eye and grin at her, awkwardly. Both
Captains of their respective Quidditch teams, there was an obvious friendly
rivalry between them.
Dumbledore said, “quite excellent. What a choice, how wonderful you share the
Fred Weasley said, leaning down the Gryffindor table to Angelina, “and you can
get this year’s Ravenclaw positions off him, Angelina.”
raised his voice above the chatter. He pulled out a piece of paper from the girls'
hat. It was green.
Parkinson,” he called. Pansy sat bolt upright, glaring at the boys’ hat that
would decide the fate of her Halloween night. Next to Harry, Ron had his eyes
closed and seemed to be muttering “please don’t be me, please don’t be me,
please don’t be me,” to himself over and over again. From the look of most boys
in the hall, Harry highly suspected they were thinking along the same lines.
of paper Dumbledore drew from the boys’ hat was also green. An unmistakeable
sigh of relief echoed around the Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables.
Pansy looked suddenly interested; Harry saw her eyes wander down the table to Draco Malfoy, who looked bored.
be going with… Gregory Goyle!” Dumbledore called.
laughter. Goyle looked confused. Pansy looked furious
and sat with her arms folded, her lips tight, muttering to her Slytherin friends.
had already pulled another red piece of paper out of the girls' hat. The
Gryffindor table stirred.
“Parvati Patil,” Dumbledore said. Parvati looked desperately hopeful. With a twinge of guilt
Harry remembered last year’s ball. He hoped Parvati
got a better partner this year than he had been.
accompany…,” he unfolded a yellow slip, “Justin Finch-Fletchley.”
looked thoughtful, and then sank back into her seat, seemingly satisfied with
fate’s choice. The Hufflepuff table were all trying
to get a look at an embarrassed Justin, the first from
their House to be chosen.
And so it
continued. The whole hall became much more relaxed, laughing cheerfully at each
Granger!” Dumbledore said.
Hermione breathed next to Harry, her head in her hands.
another Gryffindor… Seamus Finnigan!”
later insisted that she had been desperate to integrate with the other Houses
and most disappointed to be put with a Gryffindor,
however Harry maintained that her expression when Seamus’s
name had been called was definitely, unmistakeable relief.
himself grinned. “Thank Merlin,” he said loudly. “I thought I’d be ending up
with a Slytherin.”
opened her mouth, probably to tell him that the whole point of the ceremony was
to encourage that, but closed it again quickly as Harry nudged her.
grateful,” he whispered.
feeling distinctly nervous by now. The pairings of some of the people were
absurd, a paper white Colin Creevy had been paired
with Millicent Bullstrode. Colin looked terrified at
the prospect of going near her, let alone dancing and talking with her. Perhaps
he would be put with Cho, Harry thought wildly.
Perhaps he could have the ball that he should have had last year. But then,
like a heavy stone clunking to the depths of his stomach, he remembered Cedric.
It would be awkward. It would be strange. He shook his head and listened to
Bell,” Dumbledore said, “and… Ernie McMillan.”
and… oh, another Gryffindor… Alicia Spinnet.”
Lee grinned at each other. They were becoming rather well known for the time
they spent with each other. Parvati tutted. “How come they get each other?” she asked sulkily.
Weasley,” Dumbledore said, “and… Cho Chang.”
Fred said, while he was congratulated by his friends. Harry saw Cho on the Ravenclaw table manage
a weak smile.
she needs Harry,” Hermione said under her breath, “someone to make her laugh
she was right.
picked out a piece of red paper from the boys’ hat.
Thomas,” Dumbledore said, “and… Padma Patil.”
looked cross. Dean seemed to curse under his breath. Harry could have sworn he
muttered “wrong bloody sister,” to himself.
Another piece of red paper.
the normal hush that accompanied Harry’s name. Harry didn’t notice it, but some
of the girls looked rather excited. Many heads were turned his way. Ron nudged
him painfully hard in the ribs.
grinned, relieved. He liked Hannah. Having sometimes worked with her in Herbology, Harry knew she was kind and very hardworking. He
remembered back to his second year when she had been so shocked at Ernie
McMillan’s assumption that Harry was the heir of Slytherin.
On the Hufflepuff table, the blonde, pig-tailed
Hannah seemed to be getting a lot of attention. George clapped Harry on the
continued. Neville was paired with Eloise Midgeon, a Ravenclaw with a pretty smile despite her nose being a
little squint. Ron was paired with…
“… Lavender Brown.”
tossed her head in his direction, seeming to look Ron up and down. Ron just
relaxed, stretching out in his seat.
pair left now,” Dumbledore said, with the same amount of energy as he had had
at the beginning, although Snape and McGonagall were
starting to look rather irritable by now; the entire process having lasted
about an hour. Harry had lost count of who had been put together, and could not
even attempt to guess who had been left over. He watched in interest at the mystery
boy’s piece of paper.
“Draco Malfoy,” Dumbledore
announced, smiling at the Slytherin table.
just thinking what a pity it was that some poor girl had to go with Malfoy to the dance, he didn’t notice the look that one
girl in the hall wore, because she knew it was her. He was so busy thinking
perhaps there was one more girl in the school than boys, and Malfoy would be stuck with no one, that he didn’t even see
the colour of the paper that was brought out of the girls’ hat. But he saw Dumbledore’s
face pale slightly, and his voice sounding less enthusiastic when he read out
“And… Ginny Weasley.”