Who gave you permission to rearrange me?
Certainly not me
Who told you that it was all right to love me?
Certainly, certainly not me
I was not looking for no love affair
—Erykah Badu, "Certainly"
28 September 1996
On the occasion of his sixteenth birthday the previous February, Seamus Finnigan had received a small but not insignificant sum of money from his paternal grandmother. Gran had relented on her previous hard stance on Seamus's homosexuality, seeing as her grandson had not turned into an absolute degenerate. Instead he had brought home a "very nice young man" who'd charmed Gran over the Christmas holiday.
Seamus, looking for a bit of privacy, decided to use some of the money to secure a standing Saturday afternoon reservation at the Hogsmeade Inn. Having a room violated no Hogwarts rules; Hermione had made sure of that. Hogsmeade wasn't much of a vacation spot, so the Inn did most of its business during the week. On the weekend many rooms went empty until the late evening, when they housed wizards too inebriated to Apparate or even Floo home safely. Once Seamus had related these sound business reasons to the proprietress, room 204 was his.
Seamus offered Neville and Susan the use of room 204 in exchange for their assistance with the logistics of the appearance charm. The plot that he and Sirius had worked up had one major snag: Harry and Hermione were in the same house. To keep this a secret as long as possible, Seamus would perform the appearance charm on Hermione not in the dorm but in the prefect's bathroom. As Susan was also a prefect, there would be no clues for Harry. Neville, meanwhile, would use the invisibility cloak to sneak the charmed Harry in and out of the dorm. The arrangement had the added benefit of ensuring that the pair wouldn't return to the common room at the same time and become suspicious. Neville and Susan had initially refused room 204, willing to help for nothing beyond a matchmaker's satisfaction. When Seamus pointed out that it was a sight more comfortable than Greenhouse #2, they acquiesced.
One week after his initial conversations with Harry and Hermione, he sent Hermione over to the prefect's bathroom, and had Neville sequester Harry in their own dorm room. Luckily, both Dean and Ron had dates and had cleared out quickly.
"Right, Harry, have you decided how you'd like to look or shall I do it for you?" Seamus asked.
Harry held up his hands. "No thanks, I will end up looking like some teen television actor in your hands."
Seamus scowled. "Stop laughing Neville, that isn't remotely funny. You know I go for the ruggedly manly."
"While that is a comfort," Harry replied, rolling his eyes, "I would like brown hair and blue eyes please. Make me look sort of like Remus." Harry stood bare chested in the black pants and shoes Seamus had dictated.
Seamus fixed in his mind the image of Remus, then said "Mutaro facies. Okay, what do you think?"
Harry looked in the mirror. His round, dark-rimmed glasses were now small gold rectangles framing dark blue eyes. His hair was slightly longer and honey brown, and actually laid down on top of his head. His bone structure was much the same, though his nose was slightly wider and his eyes smaller. His scar was gone. He turned to the others.
"Well done. I wouldn't have recognized myself." The timbre of his voice had also deepened slightly.
Seamus sighed in relief. "Great. The dark blue shirt would be best, I think." Harry nodded. "Stay here for another twenty minutes, then Neville will bring you down to the entrance hall."
Seamus hurried over to the prefect's bathroom where Susan and Hermione were waiting. They had already discussed her look ad nauseum; she was wearing a long violet dress and tan shoes. "What took you so long?" she asked nervously.
"You know men, they can never make up their minds. Ready?"
Hermione nodded. Seamus performed the charm, then turned Hermione to face the mirror.
Her hair was still curly, but it now framed her face in a flurry of blonde ringlets rather than its usual brown frizz. Her forehead was a little higher, her lips fuller, but she kept her own high cheekbones. Other than her hair color, the biggest change was her eyes, which she had changed to deep violet just for fun. This was exactly the way she had always pictured Miss Pommery. She smiled at the mirror.
"I can still see a little of me in there but I don't think anyone else will." Hermione's voice had also deepened, like Harry's. She turned to look at Seamus. "What do you think?"
"I think you were beautiful before and you are beautiful now, and we need to go meet your date." Seamus led Susan and Hermione out of the prefect's bathroom to the entrance hall, where Neville and Harry were waiting. Neville had Harry turned to the side, where he could not see Hermione and vice versa.
"Okay, here are the ground rules. One, try not to divulge personal details. That would defeat the purpose of the exercise. The only information I will give you is, you are both in the same year and you do know each other so don't be surprised if you feel familiar." Seamus grinned to himself; that bit was brilliant. "Two, try to avoid other students in Hogsmeade. They won't recognize you anyway and we don't want to confuse others and have this experiment getting around the school. I've arranged for you to have dinner at a sweet little out of the way place where no one should disturb you." He nodded to Neville and said, in the manner of a game show host, "All right, let's do the reveal."
Neville brought Harry out from the shadows to face Hermione. They looked at each other for a long moment but Seamus was fairly sure there was no recognition. He smiled at their reaction. "Right. Jack, meet Jackie. Have fun and don't do anything I wouldn't do."
As Jack took Jackie's arm to go, he said, "And what would that be, exactly?"
Jackie snickered as they walked away.
Once they were out of hearing distance, Neville exclaimed, "Well done, Seamus! They'll never figure it out!"
"Not if I can help it," replied Seamus. "Well, I have places to go and people to see. I'll catch you two later." He pulled the Inn key from his pocket. "Here is a token of my appreciation; remember you need to be out by six o'clock. Be sure to tip the maid."
Neville took the key, blushing furiously. "Thanks, Seamus but you know you didn't need to do this."
Seamus grinned. "Oh, I know. Just have a nice time, kids. There is positive karma in that room and I want to keep it that way." He winked and walked out of the school toward Hogsmeade.
Draco didn't go to Hogsmeade that Saturday; he had detention. He arrived in one of the greenhouses at the appointed hour to be greeted by Professor Sprout and his fellow detainee, Justin Finch-Fletchley. He wasn't surprised; he had always got a funny vibe from Justin.
Sprout had Draco and Justin digging furrows outside one of the greenhouses for the setting of various bulbs. Draco for one was glad the detention was outdoors; it meant he could smoke all he liked, as long as he didn't let the fags get into the furrows. He and Justin worked through the early afternoon in silence. When they were halfway through their work, Sprout came out to inspect and told them to take a break. They sat on the ground with their backs against the greenhouse, smoking and taking long gulps of pumpkin juice.
"You know what you need? You need a shag," said Justin, apropos of nothing.
Draco looked at Justin out of the corner of his eye. "What makes you say that?" he drawled through clenched teeth.
Justin replied calmly, "It's no secret that you're a drowning man. Detention every day, failing your classes, ostracized by your house. You need a fix."
"And you know all of this how?" Draco was suspicious as ever.
"There are few secrets at this school. I make it my business to know what goes on here. If you pay attention, you can know a great deal." Justin smiled a bit at his own cleverness.
"Are you offering yourself? Because I'm afraid —"
"No, no!" Justin shook his head, laughing. "Not me. You want to talk to Seamus Finnigan. He's the one shagging half the school."
Draco had heard those rumors, though he had yet to meet anyone who had actually been the object of Finnigan's affections. Except the man sitting before him. "Didn't you two go out last year?"
Justin scowled, his eyes turning dark. Draco didn't think he'd ever seen an expression quite that angry—except once. Draco's thoughts drifted for a moment to the summer and that night. When he had roused himself from his reverie, Justin looked as amiable as usual.
"Lost you for a moment there." Justin's voice was smooth as silk. "We dated for a while. But he had a roving eye and I broke it off. Now he has a roving everything else." Justin chuckled. "You should take advantage of it. Particularly as that red-haired Gryffindor tramp of yours threw you over."
Before he realized it, Draco had his hand around Justin's throat and had pushed his head back against the greenhouse wall. "Don't you say anything about her in my presence." he growled menacingly, ashes from the cigarette in his mouth falling on Justin's shirt. "Don't you even say her name." Justin nodded, wide-eyed. Draco let go of Justin, putting his cigarette out in his cup before springing to his feet.
Draco said nothing further to Justin and concentrated on finishing his detention. But all the while, the smell of the earth reminded him of days spent de-gnoming the gardens at the Burrow. The memories of that time made him sick to his stomach. As soon as Professor Sprout gave her consent, he headed back into the mostly empty dungeons and the solitude of his bed.
In Gryffindor Tower, a young woman with red hair who had also not gone to Hogsmeade peered out of the fifth-year girls dorm window to see a boy with white-blond hair racing across the grounds from the greenhouses. She put her hand to her throat, feeling the pendant moving against her skin.
On the way to Hogsmeade, Jack and Jackie talked generally about school. They'd quickly agreed up front not to discuss the war but they discovered plenty of other topics to keep them occupied. By the time they arrived at the restaurant, they were discussing the finer points of modern Muggle music. Not that that signified anything, Jackie reminded herself. Not all wizards were completely ignorant of muggle culture, especially music.
While they ordered, Jack sat looking at Jackie. He knew that he couldn't go by her appearance, but he admired her confidence, the way she held herself. He could tell that she was intelligent, but since she didn't assault him with a storehouse of arcana, he assumed that she wasn't a Ravenclaw. As they talked about Hagrid's latest magical creatures, Jack saw that Jackie genuinely enjoyed the class. With most of the girls he had dated, he usually found himself defending his professor friend.
Their conversation moved from music, to a long debate on the root causes of the Goblin wars, to professional Quidditch about which Jackie knew more than Jack had expected. Jackie was glad to finally be able to impress someone with the knowledge she had gleaned from her two Quidditch-mad ex-boyfriends. Without the label of "smart girl" she found she could relax and not have to prove that she was always correct, letting the conversation flow where it might. She even found herself flirting a little. Too soon the time had come to get back to Hogwarts before curfew. They walked back to school slowly, holding hands along the way.
As they approached the Hogwarts entryway, Jack pulled Jackie aside. "I don't think I've ever had four hours go by so quickly," he confessed, smiling. "I had a great time."
Jackie struggled to keep her cool. "I had a great time, too. It was a lot of fun."
"Can I see you again?" Jack asked.
"Of course." Jackie moved closer and Jack responded by putting his left hand around her waist. She put her palms flat against his chest, then slid them up to his face feeling the stubble against her hands. The slight breeze stirred his hair until it was standing on end and she had a flash of something familiar but it was gone as soon as it came.
Jack slid his right hand along Jackie's cheek, his hand moving into her blonde curls. Her eyes closed, her mouth opened slightly and she leaned her head into Jack's hand.
Then: "Can I kiss you?"
Jackie opened her eyes to look at Jack. "Aren't we kissing already?"
Jack answered by capturing her lower lip in his mouth and Jackie realized that they had not, in fact been kissing because this was much more. She leaned her body into his embrace and they used their hands to pull their heads even closer. Jack's tongue was just beginning to search out Jackie's when they heard a voice from the doorway.
"Get a room!" Seamus shouted.
Jack and Jackie broke apart and turned to look at Seamus.
"Or at least a cold shower. Something! Come in, or you'll miss curfew." Seamus grabbed their hands and pulled them into the school, where Neville and Susan were waiting for them.
"So," he continued, "I suppose a second date is in order?"
Jack and Jackie nodded slowly, glancing at each other, still dazed from their kiss.
"Okay then. I'll contact you separately to let you know where you're going on the date." He grinned at the pair. "You may want to speak now, if only to say good night."
Jackie shook her head slightly, trying to clear the mist. "Good night, Seamus. Good night, Jack." She followed Susan to the prefect's bathroom, looking over her shoulder at Jack until she turned around the corner out of sight.
Jack started to say something but Seamus put a finger to his lips. "Wait until we're up in the Tower. And we'll need to get you in using this." He handed the invisibility cloak to Jack.
Once upstairs, Seamus saw that Dean and Ron were still in the common room so he, Neville and Jack went quickly up the stairs to their dorm room where Seamus removed the appearance charm. Jack was Harry again. He cleared his throat, and when he spoke, he had his own voice back.
"Seamus, I don't know how to thank you—"
"All details later, Harry. I have a woman to change back into herself." Seamus started to walk out of the dorm, then turned at the door. "Don't forget to change your clothes!"
Moments later, Neville and Harry (now wearing jeans and an old flannel shirt) walked back into the common room to where Ron and Dean sat playing chess.
"Harry, where have you been?" asked Ron. "Didn't see you in town, were you there?"
Harry cleared his throat. He hated lying to Ron. "Yes, I was in town. But you were on a date, weren't you? We must have missed each other. Anyway, I only just got back."
Ron looked at his watch. "Must have been some date! Who is she?"
"Oh, no one you know." Harry smiled vaguely. "But what about your date with Hannah? How'd it go?"
The boys were deep in their conversation about Ron and Dean's days in Hogsmeade when Seamus and Hermione came into the common room.
"Well, what are you up to, Finnigan?" Dean asked. "You went running out of here just now."
"I had some things to take care of," Seamus said smoothly.
Dean scowled but said nothing.
Seamus redirected the conversation. "So, Thomas, how was your date with Kevin Entwhistle?" he asked casually.
"It was grand," Dean said flatly. Actually it had been annoying, full of awkward silences. Dean was so accustomed to Seamus's endless chatter that he talked very little. Dating Kevin was like dating himself which to Dean seemed wholly beside the point. Still, there was no reason not to see him again. Better than being alone, eating his heart out while Seamus was doing who-knows-what with who-knows-who in that damn room at the Inn. Which he was not going to ask about. "Hermione, how was your date?"
Harry looked up. "You had a date, Hermione? You didn't tell me."
"What Potter, you think I can't get a date?" Hermione crossed her arms, tapping her fingers against her upper arm.
Harry scowled. "That isn't what I meant and you know it."
Ron held up his hand. "Hey, the only person in this common room allowed to bicker with Hermione is me." He looked up at the girl. "You haven't asked me about my date."
"I'll bite," said Seamus, thankful that the topic had shifted. "How was Padma?"
"Oh, I wasn't with Padma. I was with Hannah Abbott. Why would I be with Padma?"
Neville giggled. "Gee Ron, I dunno. Maybe because you talk about her all the time, or because you turn pink every time she's around."
"I never!" Ron protested.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Ron, you're pink now and you're only talking about her." As everyone laughed she said, "I am going to bed. I will see you gentlemen in the morning."
It wasn't until Hermione had gone upstairs to the girls dorms that Harry realized he never did find out who her date was with. He was a little worried about that. Then he remembered something Jackie had said that evening and stopped thinking about Hermione.
Once upstairs, Hermione knocked at the door to the fifth year girls' room. "Ginny? You in there? It's me."
She heard someone get up off a bed and come to the door. "Hey," whispered Ginny glumly. She was in her pajamas, and looked like she had been sleeping, or at least lying down, for much of the day.
"Can I come in?" Hermione asked timidly.
Ginny shrugged. "Sure, suit yourself. I'm not much company, though." Ginny walked back into her room.
Hermione sat in one of the chairs near Ginny's bed, feeling rather awkward. "What were you up to today? It doesn't look like you went in to town."
Ginny shook her head, and her voice was low and sad. "No. I was in the library for a while but decided I'd rather study up here since everyone else was in town. I just didn't feel up to it. Since Seamus didn't have a date, he went into town for me and bought candy and food and we sat up here and talked." She sighed. "Finished that transformation project, though. Look." She showed Hermione a pair of silver earrings that she had made from two small starfish.
"Wow, those are great." Hermione looked at the earrings for a moment then remembered, "But didn't you say that project is due in a week?"
"Some comment coming from you!" Ginny grabbed the earrings back. "You're not the only one that wants to be ahead in all their classes. I'm not doing anything else, I might as well put my energy into this."
"I didn't mean anything by that." Hermione sighed. "I'm sorry. Ginny, why are you pushing me away? I miss my friend." She looked down at the bed.
"Do you mean that?" Ginny asked hopefully.
"Of course I mean that!" Hermione said fervently, looking up at Ginny. "You're my only real girlfriend. You're having a tough time and I want to help."
Ginny narrowed her eyes. "Even if it's about Draco?"
Hermione bit her lip. "Ginny, I'm really sorry about those things I said. I didn't realize you cared for him so much. It was such a short time, that you were with him." Hermione reached over and took Ginny's hand. "Please, Ginny. I'm here for you, no matter what."
"No, I'm sorry. He was always so insulting to you. I should have been more sensitive to that." Ginny closed her eyes and rubbed the bridge of her nose. "I'm so tired."
They sat for a moment, holding hands. Then Ginny said, "I suppose I should tell you why I left Chez Chien this summer."
"If you want to, Ginny," Hermione whispered.
Ginny thought for a moment. It was probably best not to tell Hermione the whole story; that was too complicated. "I was upset because I realized that Harry was never going to think of me as anything other than a sister. So I had to go."
Hermione asked, "But why then? Did something happen at the party? Something between you two?"
"No, nothing at all happened between Harry and me." She smiled ruefully. "But then, nothing ever did happen between Harry and me did it? That was the problem."
"Then what was it? Why then and so suddenly?" Hermione thought. "Did you see him with one of the other girls?"
"No! No, that wasn't it," she said quickly. She was lying, but if Hermione didn't see what was going on between her and Harry, Ginny didn't think it was her place to point it out. "No, I can't explain it. I was just looking at him and I knew, and I didn't want to stay and tough it out. Some Gryffindor I am. I went running home to Mum."
Hermione shook her head. "Sometimes you have to. I just wish you could have told me then."
"Well, you're so close to Harry and I didn't want to be reminded of him at all. I wanted to get away from everything, just be at the Burrow with Mum." Ginny smiled in spite of herself. "But that isn't how things turned out."
Hermione squeezed Ginny's hand. "You still care for him? In spite of what he said?"
"Yes, yes I do. Oh, how can I explain it?" Ginny closed her eyes, then opened them and looked at Hermione. "I just can't give up on him that easily. He hurt me but that doesn't cancel out everything that happened this summer. It can't."
"Everything that happened? A few kisses in the woods?" Hermione asked, eyebrows raised.
Ginny flushed. "Well, a little more than that." She chuckled nervously and looked out the window. "Draco is very, um, passionate."
Hermione bit her lip, then said, "I hope it was more than sex, Ginny."
Ginny turned back to her friend. "Passionate generally," she corrected with a slight smile.
Hermione sighed. It was so like Ginny to be swept away by the emotions of the moment. "You know he's in a bad way. You can't save him," she pointed out gently.
"I know that he's skipping his classes and falling behind. I know that he's been ostracized by his entire house. I know that he said he's giving up Quidditch. And yes, I know that I can't save him; I'm not that naive." Ginny smiled a little. "I also know that he still thinks about me." She reached into her pajamas and showed Hermione the pendant that Draco had given her in Diagon Alley.
Hermione leaned over to get a closer look. "It's a fish and it's flopping around." She looked up at Ginny. "Did he give this to you?"
Ginny nodded. "It's charmed; it moves whenever he's thinking about me, which is all the time. Especially after classes, when he must be back in Slytherin."
Hermione sat back and thought for a moment. "Well, far be it for me to judge what others are doing." Ginny's eyes went wide at this statement. "I know, I know. Shocking to hear me say that. Just don't tell your brother." They both chuckled. "It sounds like you need to stop waiting for him to do something and do it yourself."
Ginny nodded. "That's what Seamus and Remus both said."
"Remus?" Hermione was surprised. "You've been talking to Remus about this?"
"After what happened on the train, I knew I was in over my head with Draco. I didn't want to go to Mum; hopefully, she still doesn't know what went on at the Burrow this summer." Ginny winced at the prospect of Molly Weasley discovering that her daughter had spent the better part of August snogging in the woods with Draco Malfoy. "Remus was so understanding when I decided to leave Chez Chien. I sent him owl posts over the summer, so he already knew about Draco. I thought he might be a sympathetic ear."
Hermione nodded. "So what did he say?"
"Remus said I should swallow my pride and try to talk to Draco, try to help him help himself. I was just writing him a note, so we could meet someplace. I don't want to approach him in front of the Slytherins; I think that would just make things worse." Ginny looked down at the bed.
"Well, what have you written? Maybe I can help."
"Really?" Ginny was surprised but pleased. "You'd do that?"
"You're my friend, remember? I want you to be happy." Hermione smiled.
Ginny reached under the pile of books on her bed and slid out some parchment. "Here's what I have so far."
The next morning, Seamus walked outside to have a before-breakfast cigarette. Dean had certainly been in a grouchy mood last night. Perhaps his date hadn't gone as well as he had said. For once, he hadn't asked Seamus what he had been up to. The one time, Seamus thought, when telling him wouldn't have been breaking someone else's confidence. All he had done the previous day (with the exception of the appearance charm) was to raid the Hogsmeade candy stores for himself and Ginny before returning to Gryffindor Tower for a long chat with her about Dean and Draco.
He had nearly finished his cigarette when he saw Draco leaning against the wall, smoking. Well, speak of the devil, he thought, smiling to himself.
Draco looked up. "What are you smirking at, Finnigan?"
"Nothing, Malfoy. Nothing at all." Seamus hadn't spoken to Draco since that day on the train and didn't have anything to say to him now. At least, not anything nice, particularly as he had spent the better part of the day before with a very broken hearted Ginny. He moved to walk on.
"Wait." Draco looked at Seamus with an odd expression.
Seamus was intrigued. Could he be nervous? Surely not Draco Malfoy. Seamus put on his best I-don't-have-time-for-this attitude. "What is it, then?"
"I was wondering what you are doing next Hogsmeade weekend," Draco mumbled.
It was all Seamus could to not to show his surprise. "Well, since it's not for another few weeks, I hadn't really given it much thought."
"Do you think we might meet? I mean, at the Inn, the way you do?" Draco stopped for a moment and took a breath. "You know, confidentially."
Now Seamus was downright confused. Unless Ginny was off her rocker, Draco was not gay; Seamus certainly didn't get that vibe from him. He didn't think he wanted to share a bisexual Draco with Ginny. They were close but not that close. Still, he'd rather that Draco came to him than to someone else. "If you like. Do you think you can stay out of detention long enough to go?"
"I can take care of myself, Finnigan." Draco put out his cigarette.
Seamus snorted. "Really, Malfoy? Could've fooled me." As Draco scowled, Seamus held up a hand. "Look, if you want to go, I'll contact you later with the time."
Draco nodded. He hesitated, then walked into the school.
Seamus stood and watched as Draco went inside. He couldn't begin to imagine what Draco Malfoy would want with him.