Chapter Two

Red Trousers and Blue Shirts and White Frocks, Oh, My!

Blue, Hermione thought vaguely as she opened her eyes. Never had she seen so much blue.

"Unless you are going to poke her with a stick, a course of action I most certainly do not recommend, I suggest that you step aside, Zabini."

"I just wanted to see if she was okay," someone muttered, but the mass of blue retreated and Hermione was left staring, befuddled, at her Potions professor. "Red," she said vaguely, and immediately regretted it when Snape stiffened and move back a pace.

"Yes," he said. "It would appear that our practical joke-loving Headmaster has seen fit to gift me with a pair of most extraordinary trousers. Although," he said, peering down his crooked nose at her, "I hardly believe you are in a position to judge, Miss Granger." He paused. "You are Miss Granger, I assume?"

Hermione blinked at him. "Of course I'm Miss Granger," she said, frowning. "Who else would I be?" When his eyes focused on her hair, her hackles rose. She knew that her hair was often a little unmanageable, but that was no reason for him to stare!

"Your appearance has been somewhat altered," he informed her.

"It has?" she said, sitting up and touching her hair. It didn't feel any different. When she pulled a lock of it in front of her face, however, she gasped. Instead of familiar auburn, the hair in her hand was a thick, lustrous blonde.

"The red trousers don't seem so noteworthy now, do they?" Professor Snape observed slyly, but Hermione was too busy gaping at her hair to reply.

"It's blonde," she said, horrified. "And what am I wearing?" she asked, staring at her clothing.

"Honestly, Granger. It's called a dress," Malfoy sneered. "It's Muggle—haven't you heard of it?"

"Yes, I've heard of it," she snapped back. "I own several. But this is…" Frowning, she fingered the end of the scalloped hem. "Dainty." Her nose wrinkled involuntarily.

For just a moment, Malfoy's haughty veneer slipped, and the corners of his mouth tipped up in what could almost be called a smile. "True," he said. "Though that isn't necessarily the end of the world. In fact, some might say that you look almost pretty."

Hermione's surprise at his words was eclipsed only by the realization that the rest of the Slytherins were making subtle nods of agreement with his statement.

"Oh, good grief," she snapped, irritated that they had chosen this, of all times, to discover that she was a member of the fairer sex. "So I have blonde hair and a dress. I'm still the same person, aren't I?"

"Blast and bother," Snape muttered, drawing a wand from his red trousers. "I think I see what Albus is up to. Miss Granger, if you will allow me…"

"What are you doing?" she asked apprehensively, eyes trained on the wand pointed at her.

"Attempting to restore you to your original appearance. At least as much as can be contrived," he finished grudgingly. "I have already ascertained that I can do nothing to alter height or clothing, but considering that you are the only one to be afflicted with an added change in physical appearance…" He waved his wand in precise, controlled movements, and Hermione felt her scalp begin to tingle.

"What's happening?" she demanded, wanting to reach up and touch her hair, but knowing that she might disturb whatever spell Snape was casting if she were to do so.

"Quiet," he hissed, his face growing tense with the effort of the spell.

When his shoulders sagged and he staggered a step backward as he lowered his wand hand, Hermione decided that she didn't much care if she was disrupting the spell, and seized a handful of hair to examine. To her disappointment, it remained sleek and blonde instead of returning to its normal multi-faceted brown. On the upside, at least it wasn't frizzy.

"Thank you for trying, sir," she said quietly.

Snape gave a short nod of acceptance.

"But what did you mean when you said I was the only one with different hair?" she continued, her curiosity getting the better of her. "I mean, really, sir. It's not a bad look for you, but I would have thought you'd have wanted to put that to rights immediately."

Snape's eyes narrowed. "To what are you referring, Miss Granger?" he hissed ominously, and she had the fleeting thought that perhaps he was as sensitive about his own hair as she was of hers.

"I just meant—" she began, but stopped short when she spotted Goyle standing behind Snape and making frantic shushing gestures. "Er…"

"You just meant what, Miss Granger?" Snape pressed. When she didn't immediately respond, he took a menacing step toward her. Behind him, she saw Goyle shrug in defeat.

"Your beard, sir," she said quietly. "I was wondering why you had left it."

"My—" He froze for a moment, as if trying to decide if she were having him on. In slow motion, he raised one hand until it rested on the perfectly groomed six-inch beard resting on the collar of his blue shirt. "I have a beard." He paused, his fingers tracing the length of the hair. "I have a beard," he repeated, his hand falling still as he glared at the Slytherin students. "I have a beard, and no one saw fit to tell me."

"It's a decent beard," Zabini said, and offered his Head of House a hand mirror. Snape snatched the shiny object from him and examined his reflection.

"I am going to kill him," Snape said, his tone so casual that it sent shivers down Hermione's spine. He thrust the mirror back at Zabini, complete with a look of withering scorn making it abundantly clear that he considered the fact that the young man had a mirror on his person utterly ridiculous.

Zabini merely shrugged and replaced the mirror in the pocket of his trousers, but not before taking a moment to admire his own reflection. Perhaps death threats were common in the Slytherin dorms, Hermione thought. After all, it wasn't as if most of her friends hadn't expressed the desire to commit murder at some point. It was just that Gryffindors were usually joking when they said it.

"Yes. Well," Pucey said, shuffling his feet and taking on an almost nagging tone. "I suggest that before we commence planning any murders, we endeavour to determine precisely what happened to us." With an air of self-importance he pushed a pair of black-rimmed glasses further up on his nose.

When, exactly, she wondered, had Adrian Pucey started wearing glasses? Granted, she didn't know him very well, what with him being a year or two ahead of her, but surely that was something she would have noticed? After all, glasses weren't terribly common in the wizarding world, especially not among Pure Bloods, and—

"Pucey," Crabbe said, sounding confused. "When did you start wearing glasses?"

Hermione felt a stab of relief. She was right! The glasses were definitely new.

"Glasses?" Pucey questioned, and even though he had just finished adjusting the glasses to keep from sliding down his nose, he said, "What glasses? I'm not wearing—" He touched the arm of the glasses and whipped them off his face, staring at them, his expression blank. "Why am I wearing glasses?" he wondered aloud.

"I imagine for the same reason that I am wearing red trousers," Professor Snape snapped. "And while I am sure that the answer will prove utterly fascinating, I find that I am more concerned with determining how to reverse our condition. Unless we all prefer to stay this height? No? I thought not. Now, I suggest—"

He broke off abruptly, staring at a point directly above and behind Hermione. She felt the hair on the back of her neck stand on end and turned slowly, terrified of what she would find.

A cat.

She sagged with relief, wondering why Professor Snape had seemed so concerned, when the prickle of unease returned.

The cat was licking its lips.

"Professor McGonagall," Hermione whispered, unable to believe that her Head of House would harm her, even in the form of an animal.

"Miss Granger," Snape said, suddenly beside her, "I suggest that we make ourselves scarce."

She stared into the cat's green eyes, mesmerized.

"On the count of three," Snape continued, still softly but loudly enough for the others to hear, "we will run into the forest."

Hermione could think of about a million things that could go wrong with Snape's hastily concocted plan, but since her knees were knocking together and blood was roaring through her head, making her ears ring, she decided that perhaps it would be best to follow his lead.

"One… Two… Three!" As if knowing that she was frozen with both fear and shock, Snape seized her arm and dragged her with him, forcing her to sprint to the relative safety of the forest. Surely they'd be able to find cover, Hermione thought, stumbling as she tried to keep up with Snape's long-legged rigorous pace. After all, it wasn't as if they were tall. They could practically hide behind a blade of grass. Or, at the very least, a mushroom.

She shivered, feeling the vulnerability of her size. Finally, her legs and chest burning, she found herself tumbling into a hollow log, Professor Snape close behind her. She lay in a crumpled heap for long minutes, her breath coming in agonised gasps. When she finally managed to sit up, she saw that Snape was at the entrance of the log, his posture stiff, staring into the forest.

"Minerva followed us," he said, seeming to sense her gaze on him, "but lost interest when we entered this log."

Hermione bit her lip, wondering where the cat had headed and who was currently in danger. "Sir, you don't think that she would actually…" Her voice trailed off uncertainly. It was almost too terrible to say aloud, but she knew that if she didn't talk about her doubts they would fester.

"If Minerva were in her regular Animagus form, there would be no cause for alarm," he said, still not turning to face her. "However, I fear that Dumbledore's spell has somehow altered her human consciousness. Her current cat form is noticeably different than her Animagus form, and the fact that she chased us proves that her human thought patterns have been altered. Or at least suppressed by her feline urges." Though he imparted the information in a practical, calm manner, it was obvious that he was distracted.

"The others, sir?" she asked. "You don't think…" Once again her voice trailed off as she struggled to complete the thought. It was an annoying habit, she thought vaguely, and one that she didn't want to develop, but the thought that her fellow classmates, even if they were Slytherins, might be fighting to save themselves from a predator many times their size, was almost too awful to contemplate.

"They have been trained to think on their feet." He paused. "Or, in the absence of thought, to be quick on their feet. Either of these traits would have stood them in good stead in the current situation."

A rustling in the nearby underbrush caused her to look up sharply and Snape to tense his entire body, his wand extended in a defensive position. It took only a second for her to recognize Zabini and Nott, even with their ridiculous white trousers and blue shirts. Snape motioned for the young men to join them in the hollow log, and she scooted further back to allow them entrance.

"That was dreadful," Zabini gasped. "Do you have any idea how filthy the Forbidden Forest is?" He shuddered dramatically and withdrew his small mirror to check his reflection. "I mean, really, does it have to be so dirty?"

Hermione stared at him. Was he honestly suggesting that the presence of dirt in a forest was unacceptable? She flicked a glance toward Nott to gauge his reaction to Zabini's ludicrous statement, but he was sitting perfectly still, eyes closed as he rested his head on his knees. She frowned, wondering if what she had always assumed was a snobbish attitude was really just the outward showing of a very private, closed-off person. Before she could attempt to draw him out of his self-imposed silence, however, Snape was hissing at them to be silent. Unable to contain her curiosity, Hermione crept up behind the potions master and stood so that she could peer around him. What she saw, however, made her heart thump furiously.

Crabbe and Goyle were thundering toward them, creating an astonishing amount of noise despite their miniature size. Pucey and Flint were approaching from the opposite direction, moving much more stealthily. It was what was between them, however, that had Hermione clapping a hand over her mouth in a desperate attempt to keep from calling out. Professor McGonagall in feline form had emerged from the forest at a point somewhere in between the two groups and was managing to chase all four of the young men.

She watched in horror as McGonagall Cat swiped with one massive paw and came within millimetres of connecting with Goyle. Goyle let out a terrified squeak, but McGonagall did not pursue him, instead sitting on her haunches and looking slightly confused. The four reached the hollow log and scrambled inside, panting heavily.

Hermione winced as Crabbe collapsed beside her, breathing loudly and drenched in sweat. "That was too close," he finally said.

"Yes," Snape snapped. "Rather. But where is Draco?"

The log fell silent as they realized that one of their own was missing.

"I thought he ran off with you two," Flint, still sprawled in the same position in which he'd collapsed, said to Crabbe and Goyle.

They shook their heads in unison. "Wasn't he with you?" Crabbe pointed at Zabini and Nott. When they, too, shook their heads, the group looked at each other in dismay.

"I bet that's why McGonagall Cat wasn't faster chasing us," Flint grunted, still exhausted. "She was weighed down from eating Malfoy."

"That's a terrible thing to say!" Hermione exclaimed, shocked by his callous attitude exclaimed. She rounded on him. "You don't know for certain what happened. We need to be out there looking for him!" Pushing past the Slytherins in her way, she stomped ahead to the opening at the end of the log, intent on mounting a search party.

"No need, Granger," a smooth voice said, and Hermione whipped around to see Malfoy dropping into the interior of the log through a hole in the upper curve. "As you can see, I'm perfectly fine." He scowled at the rest of the occupants. "No thanks to any of you lot."

"I do not think," Professor Snape said thoughtfully, "that Professor McGonagall is completely serious in her attempts to harm us."

A chorus of protests met his statement.

"She almost made me into her chew toy!" Zabini insisted. "And I think she might have drooled on me!" He shuddered and patted at his clothes.

Hermione stared at him in disbelief. "Are you honestly concerned about the state of your clothing?" she asked. "You're wearing white trousers in the Forbidden Forest. You might as well give up now!"

Zabini grimaced. "Too right. Still…" he continued to work at the smudges of dirt on his trousers, somehow managing to remove the dirt without spreading it further. She might have been impressed with his skill if they hadn't been in such a sticky situation.

As it was, she gave her own smudged and rumpled white dress no more than a cursory glance before turning back to Professor Snape. Resolutely ignoring the ridiculous figure he cut in his red trousers, blue shirt, and black beard, she ran through the events of the day, hoping that she would stumble on a solution for their predicament.

"Okay. Obviously Dumbledore has cast some sort of enchantment on us," she began. "The boys—wizards," she hastily amended when a few of the so-called "boys" glared at her, "are dressed in white trousers and blue shirts. Except for Professor Snape, who is in red trousers. A mark of status?" she pondered.

Professor Snape snorted. "Hardly a reward I would have chosen," he sneered.

Ignoring him, Hermione continued. "And I am in a white frock." Shaking her head, she moved on quickly. "Other than Professor Snape's beard and my blonde hair, there don’t appear to be any other major physical changes—"

"What about Pucey's glasses?" Draco wondered aloud.

"He's right," Pucey said. Taking off the spectacles, he squinted at them. "I actually need these," he admitted.

"How unusual," Hermione said, frowning as Pucey readjusted the glasses on his nose. "I wonder why—"

"And do not neglect to make note of Zabini's mirror," Professor Snape offered. "And I do believe he has a… Zabini, is that a flower in your hat?"

Zabini plucked the white hat off his head. "It is," he said thoughtfully. "Personally, I would have chosen something with a little more presence, but…"

"Right," Hermione interrupted. "So, we have glasses, a flower, and a mirror…" She paused. "At least, I assume that you are not in the habit of carrying around a mirror in your pocket, Zabini?"

Zabini shrugged. "No, but it's actually not a bad idea."

As Zabini's so-called friends jeered, she raised her voice to cut through the clamour. "He's right," she declared. "Second year I carried a mirror with me for—"

"You carried a mirror?" Snape interjected, sounding surprised rather than contemptuous. "Whatever for, Miss Granger? I had not thought you to be one of the many students who are more concerned with their appearance than their schoolwork."

"I should think not," Hermione retorted crisply. "I used the mirror to check around corners for the Basilisk."

He stared at her for a long moment. "That is rather ingenious," he finally said. Realizing that he had actually paid a student a compliment, he rounded on Zabini. "Though I doubt that Mr Zabini is using his mirror for anything so practical."

Zabini shrugged and glanced at himself in the mirror again. Pleased with his appearance, he smiled charmingly into the glass while his fellow Slytherins snorted with ill-concealed laughter.

"This is all very fascinating, I'm sure," Pucey said, his tone taking on a nasal quality, "but shouldn't we be doing something to solve our problem? If we look at the facts logically—"

Hermione's ire rose. "We were looking at the facts logically. We were listing the unique changes, one of which was Zabini's mirror. Now, then," she said, determined to keep control of the brainstorming session. "Does anyone else have any unusual objects or markings that they'd like to point out?"

There was a moment of silence while Zabini licked his wounds and the rest of the Slytherins shrugged.

"Crabbe has a tattoo," Goyle finally offered.

Hermione's eyes widened in shock. Was Goyle actually referring to one of them taking the Dark Mark? And if he was, Crabbe? Really? If she were to guess which of the group had taken the Dark Mark, she would have started with Malfoy. And then perhaps Flint, because he was the oldest of them. But Crabbe? What could the Dark Lord possibly hope to achieve by having him take the mark so early? Were they really in such dire need of brute force? And weren't they all much too young?

Crabbe flushed and shifted his feet uncomfortably.

"Tattoo?" Professor Snape inquired, his eyes narrow.

After shooting an irritated glare at Goyle for outing him, Crabbe took a deep breath and fiddled with the sleeve of his sky blue shirt. Even though Dumbledore had cast the spell an hour ago, at the most, on them, the cuffs of his shirt were unbuttoned, perhaps to accommodate his bulging muscles.

"A heart?" Draco laughed. "You have a heart tattoo?"

Sure enough, on Crabbe's lower arm was etched the symbol most often found on sailors. Hermione stared at the bright red heart and arrow for long seconds.

Well. It was certainly better than the Dark Mark, she'd give him that.

"Yeah, well, at least I didn't see the need to bring my homework with me," Crabbe retorted, pulling down his sleeve and glaring at his best friend. "Planning on doing a little Charms work, are you?"

"It's not homework!" Goyle protested, and shoved his hands behind his back. "It's just parchment and a quill. Nothing nearly so interesting as a tattoo."

"A parchment and quill?" Hermione asked, brightening. "Well done! That will certainly come in useful."

"And we all have our wands," Professor Snape said. "Though they do not seem to respond readily."

Hermione brandished her wand in an experimental flick. A shower of sparks erupted from the wand, but the chair she had meant to conjure did not materialize. She stared at the place on the floor of the log where the sparks had settled, and tried to quell the uncomfortable feeling that resulted from her inability to reliably perform magic.

"Well," she said, "I suppose it could be worse."

"Yes," Draco agreed. "Potter and Weasley could have been with you." He shuddered dramatically.

Hermione started to protest. Harry and Ron weren't that bad, not really. And it was the Slytherins who caused most of the problems to begin with! Well, usually. Lips quirking, she realized that she actually agreed with Draco. The situation was tense enough as it was; the inevitable conflict between her hot-tempered friends and the Slytherins would only have made matters worse.

"They'll come looking for me," she blurted. When the other occupants of the cave only stared at her, she elaborated. "Harry and Ron. They'll come looking for me when…" She stopped. Would they? They hadn't noticed her leave, after all. They wouldn't head out to the Quidditch pitch, not if they knew that Slytherin had a practice scheduled. With a groan, she realized that she most likely hadn't sneaked out, after all. More likely, Harry and Ron had been avoiding her, hoping to escape her revision schedules.

"Never mind," she sighed, feeling unaccountably grumpy at the thought that there was no one tearing through the halls of Hogwarts looking for her.

"It would make no difference," Professor Snape said softly while the others continued to talk. "Since it was Professor Dumbledore who contrived this fiasco, he has no doubt taken measures to prevent our untimely rescue."

Hermione nodded. Dumbledore was nothing if not a skilled manipulator. If he didn't want them to be found, they wouldn't be.

But what had Dumbledore been hoping to accomplish by reducing them to peculiarly coloured pint-sized figures? She frowned, studying her companions. She had no idea. And she suspected that they wouldn't be returned to their normal sizes until they knew the answer.


back    next


Author's Notes

Characters from the Harry Potter series are the property of J.K. Rowling. The Smurfs were first created and introduced as a series of comic characters by the Belgian comics artist Peyo (pen name of Pierre Culliford) in 1958. They are used without permission and not for profit.

Graphics credits: Sparkly blue background from Smurfs images from film publicity stills. Cat is Microsoft clip art.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional