Orestes turns something down, and finds something better, Summer at the Grangers, A train ride, a pretty girl, and a sorting.
Harry Potter and the Distaff Side
Just prior to dinner being served at Harri’s birthday party, Professor McGonagall arrived. He had the year’s Hogwarts letters. Harry noticed the envelopes for Orestes and Ronnie were somewhat bulkier than the rest. As a group, the envelopes were torn open and Harry was unsurprised when both Orestes and Ronnie had silver badges slide into their hands.
“Prefect?” Orestes said breathlessly. “You want me to be a Prefect?”
“Indeed Mr. Granger. You and Miss Weasley will be valuable additions to the Prefect ranks.” The Scotsman had an odd look on his face. “I only wish there were room for more.”
“Ronnie?” Orestes shot a glance to Harri. “Professor, could I have a word with you about the responsibilities of a Prefect?”
Harry watched as his friend went off with her transfiguration Professor. Orestes was almost as bad an actor as his twin. Harri had been crushed when he hadn’t gotten the badge, but she wouldn’t say a word to distract from the honor offered to her friends. Orestes on the other hand was going to find out how Ronnie was chosen over Harri or know the reason why.
Harry crossed to where his female self was standing looking a bit lost. “Hey.”
“Happy Birthday.” She said, pretending to be happy.
“Wanted to be a Prefect eh?”
“Yeah, a bit. Ronnie will do a good job.”
“Right. She must be quite different than my Ron. He was lazy, unmotivated, and vindictive.”
“She’s my friend!”
“I never said she wasn’t. Is she Prefect material?”
Harri smiled. “No. I guess not. Orestes will do a good job though.”
“Dumbledore should have picked you and me. That would have confused people.”
They both noticed Orestes returning to the Kitchen area. “I’m sorry Professor” he said, just a little too loudly, “with O.W.L.s coming up, I can’t really see myself having the time to do a good job as a Prefect. I’m afraid that I’m going to have to decline.”
Everyone in the room turned to look at Ronnie. “Hey, I’m keeping it, no worries.”
“Oh the shame!” said Greta
“It’s Penelope all over again” agreed Frieda
“She’ll be shining her badge all summer.”
“And she’ll be needing a new hat”
“For that swelled head.”
“Pranks will be banned.”
“Innocent items will be confiscated”
While the twins were laying into Ronnie, Harry turned back to his own twin. “The school pissed Orestes off.”
“What do you mean? What’s going on, he’s dreamed of being a Prefect since first year.”
“Harri, I hope to god I wasn’t as clueless with my friends as you are.” Harry said quietly “Orestes thinks you should have been a Prefect, not Ronnie. I was watching his face. He went from delighted to angry in nothing flat. He found out why you weren’t chosen, and it pissed him off, and he told the Professor to take his badge. Look at his face, he’s ticked off.”
Harri put her hand over her mouth. “Are you sure?”
“Oh yeah, look at him.” Harry decided to do something that he hoped he wouldn’t regret. “How do you feel about Orestes anyway?”
“He’s one of my best friends.”
“Not what I meant, and you know it. How did you feel when you saw him with Krum at the Yule Ball?”
“I know I couldn’t take my eyes off my Granger. I never realized just how beautiful she was.”
“He did look good.” Harri blushed a bit. “Ronnie spent half the night glaring at him, and the other half screaming at him.”
“Weasley’s are like that.” Harry concentrated on not meeting his twin’s eyes. “Orestes likes you. A lot.”
“Of course he does, we’re friends.”
“Orestes and I are friends Harri. He’s wants more than friendship from you.”
“What?” She was startled.
“Quiet. You’re attracting attention. If you want more than friendship, Orestes would be open to it. You and I never spoke about this, he swore me to secrecy. I’ll deny everything. If you approach him, it’s all your idea.” Harry was suddenly subdued. “I wish someone had told me.”
“So?” Harry and Orestes were back on the Knights Bus on the way back to the Granger home.
Harry smiled at his friend. “You’ve been grinning like an idiot for about two hours, even though you turned down being a Prefect.”
“Oh I couldn’t believe that. The Headmistress thought that Harri had enough to ‘worry about’ without being a Prefect. The one thing she’s worked for and earned, Dumbledore won’t let her have, but the weight of the world? Pile that on the poor girl.” Orestes face clouded. “I told Professor McGonagall that there was no way I would support a system that was so fundamentally unfair. I did the whole Owl thing to protect Ronnie’s feelings.”
“Yeah, I figured. Ok that covers why you were angry, why are you happy now?”
“Harri kissed me.”
“Like you didn’t know. Thank you.”
“Thank me? For what?”
“Going behind my back, breaking my confidence, and telling Harri how I felt.”
“I did not.”
“Oh please. Harri just spontaneously generated a clue about men? The girl who pined for months about Cheng Chang, just walked up to me out of the blue?” Orestes smiled. “Thank you.”
August flew by. In between his twice a daily correspondence with Harri, Orestes was obsessing about their upcoming O.W.L.s and insisted that they begin revision now that their summer homework was done. At least the revision was relatively interesting. Orestes explained certain concepts of theory that he had never really understood before. Harry knew that his strength was in practical applications, but suddenly understanding HOW he was doing things, as opposed to WHAT he was doing cleared up many things about his spell work.
One of the things that this revision he was doing with Orestes clarified for him was the need to drop Divination once and for all. Aside from the momentary amusement that boggling this universes’ Trelawney, he really didn’t have any time for that nonsense anymore. If he couldn’t find a real class, then a study period wouldn’t go amiss. He made himself a note to speak with whoever ended up his head of house the evening they got back.
On the twentieth of August, during a break in their study period, Harry had gone to the kitchen to check on the soup he had simmering for dinner that night (the Grangers were boggled by the idea of having a soup on a hot day to cool off.) when he returned he found Orestes staring at the daily paper in horror. Harry could see that it was a Muggle paper, and was concerned what might be upsetting his friend.
“Harry, look at this.”
“What is it?”
“Something happened in Surrey.”
“What?” He took the paper from his friend. The story detailed how two people were found dead and on in an unexplained coma in Little Whinging. The three were found after no one had seen them for three weeks. The survivor, Vera Dursley, was showing no brain activity, and doctors were at a loss to explain what had happened. Her husband Phillip Dursley and their daughter Dolly Dursley had evidently also fallen into the same coma, but had expired from dehydration.
“Harry, the symptoms described are almost textbook examples of people who have received the Dementor’s kiss.”
“Merlin.” Harry breathed. “What would Dementors be doing in Surrey?”
“I don’t know, but we’ve got to let people know about this.” He grabbed a sheet of parchment and started a letter. “Professor Dumbledore is who I should tell I guess.”
“You know Harri better than I do. Is this going to mess with her?”
“I don’t know. Phillip was her uncle, her father’s brother. She hates the Dursleys, but I don’t think she’s want them dead.” Orestes finished the note. Harry was amazed that he could hold a conversation and still fill a page in a tight script at the same time.
“That’s how I feel about my Aunt and Uncle. She just can’t catch a break can she?”
“I think that’s a Potter thing. Except for a small group of friends, the universe seems to hate the both of you.”
As usual, the Weasleys arrived at literally the last minute. Harry and Orestes had been waiting for them outside Platform 9 ¾, so as a consequence they were late as well. The six of them piled onto the train as it started to pull out of the station. The Twins took off to find their classmates, Ronnie headed forward for the Prefect meeting, his Badge shining proudly on new robes.
“Shall we go and find a compartment, then?” Harry asked.
Orestes and Harri exchanged looks.
“Er,” said Harri.
“We’re - well - Harri and I are supposed to go and meet someone. We’ve got to discuss… things.” Orestes said awkwardly. Harri wasn’t looking at her twin; she seemed to have become intensely interested in her shoes.
“Oh,” said Harry. “Right. Fine.”
“I don’t think it will take the entire journey,” said Orestes quickly. “We just need to go and, you know see someone and…”
“Fine,” said Harry again. “Well, I - I might see you later, then.”
“Yeah, definitely,” said his Twin, casting a shifty, anxious look at Harry. “It’s a pain having to go see him, I’d rather - but we have to -I mean, it’s for a project and …”
“Just go” said Harry and he grinned.
“Come on,” Arthur told him, “if we get a move on we’ll be able to save them places.” He frowned. “Assuming they come up for air.”
In the very last carriage they met Nelly Longbottom, a fifth-year Gryffindor, her round face shining with the effort of pulling his trunk along.
“Hi, Harry” he panted. “Hi, Arthur every where’s full… I can’t find a seat…”
“What are you talking about?” said Arthur, who had squeezed past Nelly to peer into the compartment behind him. “There’s room in this one, there’s only Loony Lovegood in here”
Nelly mumbled something about not wanting to disturb anyone. Harry recalled the young girl he had seen in the halls a few times over the three years he went to school with her. He had never spoken with her, but he recalled she was one of the few ‘claws not wearing a ‘Potter Stinks’ badge. He wondered what a male version was going to be like.
“Don’t be silly,” said Arthur, laughing, “she’s all right.”
She slid the door open and pulled her trunk inside. Harry and Nelly followed.
“Hi, Luna,” said Arthur, “is it okay if we take these seats?”
The girl beside the window looked up. Harry was stunned. She was a she. Someone he remembered as a girl was a girl. Luna had unkempt, waist-length, dirty blonde hair, very pale eyebrows and wide eyes that gave her a look of permanently surprise. The girl gave off an aura of oddness. Perhaps it was the way she stuck her wand behind her left ear, or that she wore a necklace of Butterbeer corks, or the way she read her magazine upside-down. Her eyes ranged over Nelly and came to rest on Harry. She nodded.
“Thanks,” said Arthur, smiling at her.
Harry and Nelly stowed the three trunks and sat down. Luna watched them over her upside-down magazine, which was called The Quibbler. She did not seem to need to blink very much. She stared and stared at Harry, who had taken the seat opposite her and was returning her stares.
“Had a good summer, Luna?” Arthur asked.
“Yes,” said Luna dreamily, without taking her eyes off Harry. “Yes, it was quite enjoyable, you know. You’re Harry Potter, the dimensional traveler” she added.
“I know I am,” said Harry. “And you’re Luna Lovegood. You’re a girl.”
“Well observed.” The blonde said quietly.
Nelly chuckled. Luna turned her pale eyes on him instead.
“And I don’t know who you are.”
“I’m nobody,” said Nelly hurriedly.
“No you’re not,” said Arthur sharply. “Nelly Longbottom - Luna Lovegood. Luna’s in my year, but in Ravenclaw.”
“Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure,” said Luna in a singsong voice.
She raised her upside-down magazine high enough to hide her face and fell silent. Harry continued to stare at her open mouthed. Nelly looked at Arthur with her eyebrows raised. Arthur suppressed a laugh.
The train rattled onwards, speeding them out into open country. It was an odd, unsettled sort of day; one moment the carriage was full of sunlight and the next they were passing beneath ominously grey clouds.
“I’m hungry. By the time the cart gets here nothing will be left. I’m going to go get something.” said Nelly.
Arthur looked at the staring Harry and the oblivious Luna. “Sounds good, I’ll go with you.” Harry never noticed. He was trying to understand just how this girl could possibly be a girl.
Luna finally noticed the attention. “Can I help you?”
“You’re a girl.”
“Yes, we established that.”
“No. You don’t understand.” Harry said, running his hand through his hair. “In my world there was a girl named Luna Lovegood. Every person I’ve met here is the opposite gender from the person I knew, including a version of myself. But you, you’re a girl.”
“Perhaps I enjoy being a girl, and refuse to change.” She cocked her head. “Perhaps you only thought that the Lovegood you knew was a girl; perhaps it was actually an effeminate boy. Or perhaps I’m the same girl you saw in your original world, but I know not to make dramatic entrances when doing a dimensional transfer.”
That shocked him. She had lost all the dreamy drifty looks when thinking that through. Was she as ‘loony’ as her reputation would have him believe?
“That’s a lot to think about.” He said watching her face closely. “I hear they call you ‘loony’.”
“An unfortunate nickname.” She suddenly seemed to realize she had been a little too focused for her reputation, and started watching what he thought to be an invisible insect as it flew about the carriage.
“So, how is ‘Loony’ working out for you?” Harry asked, still watching her expressions.
“Not bad. Not bad at all. Almost no one looks deeper than the surface. It’s amazing how much one can get done when no one questions what you’re doing.”
She held his gaze. Harry felt very stupid, but he had to ask.
“Are you a dimensional traveler who knows enough to not make dramatic entrances?”
“No, just a school girl with an uncommon outlook on life. I don’t know why I’m the exception to your dimensional gender swap Harry. I wish I could tell you the reason for why I’m the exception, but someone had to be. I’m glad it’s me.”
“Of course. How could I not be glad? A handsome boy talking to loonie old me?” she leaned forward in a conspiratorial manner and whispered “By the way, you’re supposed to be demure and wait for me to make the first move in the mating dance.”
“Mating dance?” he choked.
“You’re too easy Harry. There have been a dozen faces in the windows during our conversation, noticing that we are speaking. I’m afraid you might end up with something of a reputation… The kind that makes boys fathers angry and girls happy…”
Harri and Orestes did not turn up for nearly an hour, and when they did, their hair was mussed, and clothing slightly askew. Ronnie followed them a few moments behind.
“I’m starving,” said Ronnie, grabbing a Chocolate Frog from Harry and throwing herself into the seat next to him. She ripped open the wrapper, bit off the frog’s head and leaned back with her eyes closed as though she had had a very exhausting morning.
“Guess who’s a Slytherin prefect?” said Ron, still with his eyes closed.
“Malfoy,” replied Harry.
“Course,” said Ron bitterly, stuffing the rest of the Frog into his mouth and taking another. “Who else would it be? That clown Parkinson too,” said Ronnie viciously. “How he got to be a Prefect when he’s thicker than a concussed troll…”
“Who’s Hufflepuff?” Harri asked.
“Erin Macmillan and Haden Abbott,” said Ronnie thickly. “Toni Goldstein and Padmaj Patil for Ravenclaw,”
“You went to the Yule Ball with Padmaj Patil,” said a vague voice.
Everyone turned to look at Luna Lovegood, who was gazing unblinkingly at Ronnie over the top of her Quibbler.
“Yeah, I know I did,” she said, looking mildly surprised.
“He didn’t enjoy it very much,” Luna informed him. “He doesn’t think you treated him very well, because you wouldn’t dance with him.”
She retreated behind The Quibbler again. Ronnie stared at the cover with her mouth hanging open for a few seconds, and then looked around at Arthur for some kind of explanation, but Arthur had stuffed his fist in his mouth to stop himself from laughing. Ronnie shook her head, bemused, and then checked her watch.
“We’re supposed to patrol the corridors every so often,”
“Who’s ‘we’?” asked Nelly.
“Oh, Larry Brown.”
“I thought he didn’t like Larry. He told me most specifically to call him Lawrence.” Harry was confused.
“Larry lets me call him anything I want. He’d do anything for his ‘Wonnie’.” She smiled. “I can’t wait to start handing out punishments. Crabbe and Goyle are going to have an interesting year.”
“You’re not supposed to abuse your position, Ron!” said Orestes sharply.
“Yeah, right, because Malfoy won’t abuse it at all,” said Ronnie sarcastically.
“So you’re going to descend to her level?”
“No, I’m just going to make sure I get her friends before she gets mine.”
“For heaven’s sake, Ronnie -”
Harry shook his head; he missed it as the compartment door opened again.
Harry looked around; he was caught unaware by the sight of Thubani Malfoy smirking at him from between her cronies Crabbe and Goyle any more enjoyable.
“Oh damn it Malfoy! If you’re going to sneak around like that at least have the common decency to wear a bell. You could hurt someone surprising them with that much ugly.”
“Manners, Potter boy or I’ll have to give you a detention,” drawled Malfoy, whose sleek blond hair and pointed chin were just like her mothers. “You see, I, unlike you, have been made a prefect, which means that I, unlike you, have the power to hand out punishments.”
“Yeah,” said Harry, “but you, unlike me, are so ugly you could gag a buzzard on a gut wagon, so get out and leave us alone.”
Ronnie, Orestes, Arthur and Nelly laughed. Malfoy’s lip curled, and she turned her bile on to Harri.
“Tell me, how does it feel being second-best to Weasley, Potter girl?” he asked.
“Shut up, Malfoy,” said Orestes sharply.
“Actually I’m quite used to the Weasley’s out doing me in things Malfoy, they’re great wizards” Harri said. “But I have to agree with my twin, you do need to start wearing that Bell.”
“I seem to have touched a nerve,” said Malfoy, smirking. “Well, just watch yourselves, Potters, because I’ll be dogging your footsteps in case you step out of line.”
“Get out!” said Orestes, standing up.
Sniggering, Malfoy gave Harri a last malicious look and turned to depart, with Crabbe and Goyle lumbering along in her wake. Harry reached out and slapped her on the rear.
“Oops, I seem to have touched an ass. And a pathetically misshapen one too.” Harry smirked up at the stunned Slytherin. “Be careful making sharp turns Malfoy, you might snap your little trolly girls’ necks.” Standing he shoved the Slytherins out the door and slid it closed..
“Chuck us another Frog,” said Ronnie.
“We’d better change,” said Orestes, and all of them took turns opening their trunks and pulled on their school robes. Ronnie pinned her Prefect badge carefully to his chest. Harry saw Ronnie checking her reflection in the black window.
The first years were sorted; Professor Dumbledore stood before the assembled school and signaled for quiet.
“As I’m sure many of you recall, last year Hogwarts played host to the Tri-Witch Tournament. Through the schemes of The Dark Lady Riddle, and the Death Eater that infiltrated the school, Miss Harriett Potter became the second Hogwarts Champion behind Cecelia Diggory. The final task was a trap, with both the Hogwarts Champions whisked away to a death trap.”
“We were fortunate that day that in some sort of cosmic accident, a Dimensional traveler chanced upon our students as they fought for their lives. This Dimensional traveler comes from a universe where all genders are swapped. He is an analog of our own Miss Potter. His name is Harry Potter.”
“Our visitor, having saved the lives of our students, is trapped here. He has chosen to enroll here at Hogwarts as a fifth year student. In his original universe he was sorted into Gryffindor house. I believe it is time to see what our Sorting Hat things of young Mr. Potter. Mr. Potter, if you would?”
Feeling quite the fool, Harry advanced to the stool and picked up the hat. He sat, trying to ignore the stares he was getting from every person in the hall. He placed the hat on his head. At least it fit like a hat and not a hood this time.
“How odd.” A extremely female voice said in his head. “I see you’ve been sorted before, but not by me. Thank you young Potter, after a thousand years of sorting students’ novelty is always something to be appreciated.”
“A good mind you’ve got there. And Bravery, oh yes you’ve got Bravery. I see a hat very like myself suggested Slytherin the first time you were sorted. Are you still against that?”
“Yes. The first time I did not like a boy sorted into that house, now I find their values to be repulsive.” Harry thought.
“Hmm. An interest in a Ravenclaw I see, but I don’t see the drive for knowledge that would allow you to fit in there. So much Bravery, but a desire to not come into conflict with your twin… The loyalty you show to your fellows is impressive. Yes, your mind is good, your planning cunning, your heart is brave, but foremost you are loyal. It is rare for a student to suit sorting into all four houses. Mr. Potter, I’m afraid I’m going to have to say…”
“HUFFLEPUFF!” the hat cried out loud.
The badgers erupted into applause, the Slytherins started laughing and jeering. A slight blonde witch at the Ravenclaw table stood and began to applaud, and the Gryffindors were shocked into silence. Harry stood and crossed to the Hufflepuff table and sat next to a pair of newly sorted first years, shaking a few hands.
Harry sat quietly waiting for the meal to begin, exchanging pleasantries with those who spoke with him first. He concentrated on keeping his depression at bay. For some reason he found himself attempting to catch the eye of a certain Ravenclaw, but she never looked his way.
Orestes raised his goblet in a toast. Harry nodded to him and silently wished his friend luck.