A/N: I have little cousins. I baby-sit them. I feel Ron's
pain, as I'm sure many of you have also. To parents everywhere
(honestly, we don't pay 'em enough for all the stuff they put up with).
"Mum's going to kill you," Ginny informed him frostily from where she sat. "And I need smaller robes."
"I need smaller robes, too," said Harry worriedly. "And maybe a belt, Ron…" He leaned in and whispered conspiratorially, "My trousers aren't staying up, and she keeps staring!"
Well, if that wasn't one sentence Ron had never wanted to hear, he
didn't know what was. The only consolation was that Ginny – who
continued to glower at him – couldn't see through robes. "I think
you're safe for the moment, Harry," he whispered back, weakly, his head
still spinning from all that was going on. "It's me I'm worried about."
Mum's going to KILL me.
Hermione chose that moment to wake up, letting loose a loud, shrill
scream at the sight of Harry and Ginny. "RON! HARRY'S SHRINKING!"
"I know," said Ron, clapping his hand over Hermione's mouth again. "Stop screaming!"
"It's entirely his fault," said Ginny, looking royally ticked off. "He cast some stupid hex on me and Harry last night and this is
how we woke up! I'M BLOODY NINE YEARS OLD AGAIN! AS IF IT WASN'T BAD
ENOUGH ONCE! I'M SO TELLING MUM ABOUT THIS, RONALD WEASLEY, YOU CAN BET
YOUR CHOCOLATE FROGS THAT SHE'S GOING TO HAVE A WORD WITH YOU –"
"Shut up!" snapped Ron, his head pounding. Ginny was being so loud that
he was surprised no one had stormed into the cupboard to tell her to
can it. She scarily resembled his mum when she was angry, and right now
the last thing Ron needed was another reminder of the total doom he was
going to have to face when his mother found out he'd accidentally
shrunk Ginny and Harry into ten year olds.
EVEN WORSE, HIS GLASSES DON'T FIT, AND HE KICKED ME WHEN HE WOKE UP,
AND MY SHIN STILL HURTS FROM THAT!" (Harry coughed and tried to hide
behind his extravagantly high collar) "RON, YOU ARE SO DEAD –"
"I said, shut up!"
"AND MY ROBES DON'T FIT ME, HOW THE BLAZES AM I GOING TO GO TO CLASS –
I HAVE A BLOODY TEST THIS MORNING, TOO, BUT I CAN'T DO IT, NOOOOO, I'M NINE YEARS OLD! I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO ARITHMANCY! I PROBABLY CAN'T EVEN REACH THE TOP OF THE DESK!"
Ginny keeled over and was silent. Harry's mouth fell open, and so did
his glasses. They cracked on the stone floor. Hermione's eyes stared at
Ron in horror over the top of his fingers.
"You stunned her!" said Harry, shocked.
"I know," said Ron grimly, lowering his wand, and letting go of Hermione. "Stop staring at me like that."
"She's your sister!"
"Yeah, well, you're my best mate," said Ron, waving his wand threateningly, "Do you want a go, too?"
Harry wisely fell silent.
"Ron," said Hermione, finally finding a voice to speak with. Ron looked at her warily. "What on earth are we going to do?"
"I dunno – turn me back?" snapped Harry.
Ron ignored him. "Well, we can't let anyone know what we did, for starters."
"We? You're the one who tried to hex us!"
"What the hell were you doing in the broom cupboard with my sister, anyway?"
Harry wisely fell silent again as Ron thought deeply – all the while
forcing himself not to panic – about the situation. He came up with a
solution after a few minutes, much to his own surprise.
"Hermione!" he said excitedly, "Do you know how to make an aging potion?"
Hermione wrung her hands, looking distraught. "I could find out how, I suppose, but Ron –"
"That's good, that's good… we can take Harry and Ginny back to my room… hide them there… if anyone finds out we're dead – Mum'll kill me, she's right… wecan't let anyone know…"
he thought, panicking. There was no way he was going to let Hermione
talk him into telling a teacher about this. Ginny was right. His mum
would hit the roof. He might even be grounded for life. She might even
not let him come back to Hogwarts. Ron would not put it past her. His
hands shook with fear.
Inspiration hit him, like it almost always did in moments of utter desperation.
"Hermione, have you ANY idea how bad this will look on our record?
We're going to be toast if McGonagall finds out. We'll get
expelled. Harry's TEN! The boy who's supposed to save the bloody wizarding world is TEN.
I'm doomed. You're with me; you're pretty much in the same boat,
Hermione. You can kiss your dreams of being Head Girl goodbye if people
find out Harry Potter's best friends turned him into a bloody kid again
Hermione's face fell like a ton of rocks. Ron almost felt bad for her, but he reminded himself – Mum. The thought was enough to make his blood run cold. He tried to be resolute.
"We don't have a choice!"
Harry threw Ron a disgusted look. "It's not like I'm dead, you know. I'm just ten. I can still beat Voldemort!"
No one heard him. Hermione bit her lip, obviously on the verge of a decision.
"C'mon," said Ron firmly, grabbing her hand and pulling her to her feet
before she could come up with a reason that would trump his.
Unfortunately, the spell had other side effects they had not
anticipated, which became apparent as time passed. Harry did not stay
ten. In fact, as the day drew on, he progressively got younger.
In his fit of rage, combined with the wonky effects of his wand being
dropped in that mysterious concoction in the Potions dungeon, Ron had
somehow cast an age-reversing spell on Harry and Ginny. A strong one at
that. He felt sick and wondered why he had not exhibited such creative
genius in creating new spells when he was sitting his O.W.L.s.
Ron also felt that with each passing second, another nail was being
hammered down into his coffin. It was agonizing. And Harry kept bloody
tripping over his robes, making it difficult to get him and Ginny back
to the Gryffindor common room without fuss. In the end, they had to
wait until they were certain breakfast was over and classes had begun
(much to Hermione's chagrin) to sneak back to the Tower. By that time,
Harry, who seemed to be seven years old now, was practically crawling
along in the sea of his robes, and Ginny fared no better – being limp
in Ron's arms.
Fortunately, Harry had brought his
Invisibility Cloak along the night before, and they could make use of
that to cover Ginny's body.
At one point, Peeves zoomed out
from behind them, making Hermione scream and duck for cover – Ron froze
momentarily, then followed suit, tossing Ginny roughly into Hermione's
arms. He swore, and then dashed back out to get Harry, who was standing
in the middle of the hall like a dazed fool. Harry screamed like a
little girl when Ron grabbed his arm and ran in the other direction,
dragging him into a little corridor a few steps down from where
Hermione and Ginny were hiding.
Peeves passed by, doing
somersaults that seemed to match the horrible circles his own stomach
took. Ron sighed, ignoring the glare that Harry was giving him.
"I can't walk like this," he informed Ron calmly.
Ron sighed deeply again. He tried to see if he could rip the robes to
make them less clumsy. No, the fabric was too well made. The seams were
practically non-existent. He cussed, and settled for the more arduous
task of painstakingly wrapping the long sleeves around Harry's neck and
tying the ends of the robe into a sort of thick knot around his middle.
He ended up looking a little bit like a walking turban, but Ron didn't
really care much at that point. The trousers had to be discarded
though, much to Harry's horror – ("I can't walk around without trousers!" "At least you can walk!") – And by the time they could go back to where Hermione and Ginny had last ducked, the girls were gone.
Harry seemed to have dropped another year in that seemingly endless period. It was close to noon.
"I need to pee," said six-year-old Harry plaintively.
I don't believe this, he thought. This has got to be some kind of bad dream. Please, please, please be a dream.
"I have to pee!" repeated Harry crossly.
Oh Merlin. It's real.
Ron waved a hand wearily at him from behind his back, trying to see if
the coast was clear. He didn't want to stumble into Peeves again. Or
Harry tugged on his sleeve. "I need to pee!"
"I heard you! Not yet!"
"No, I need to pee NOW."
"Potter, I'm going to kick your little rear if you don't shut up –"
"I'll go right here," threatened Harry.
"No! Don't go right there!" said Ron, panicking. He grabbed Harry,
robes and all, and sprinted down the hall. "Whatever you do, don't go yet!"
Harry giggled. "The wind tickles."
He darted around a corner, ducked under a low arch that led into a tiny
corridor just off to the left of the Charms classroom, and ran full
speed towards the end of the hall, where a fat monk in a grey habit was
snoring in his painting. Beside him was an empty little nook that had
once held a small table with a candle and sconce, but had long since
been destroyed by Peeves on one of his rants. Ron set Harry down as
quietly as possible, so that the monk wouldn't wake.
quickly unwrapped Harry, stripping away what felt like six layers of
robes that covered him, and pushed him into the little nook. "OK,"
whispered Ron furtively, "You can let it out now, but be quick!"
Harry looked at him.
"Well? What are you waiting for?"
"I don't need to go anymore," said Harry, matter-of-factly.
Ron closed his eyes and counted to ten. Hitting kids is wrong. Don't hit kids. Kids shouldn't be hit. Don't hit kids. Don't hit-
"I'm cold," whined Harry, doing a little impatient wriggle.
Hitting kids is WRONG. Do NOT hit kids!
He's not a kid, he's Harry-
No! Hitting kids is WRONG.
"Let's just go back to the dormitory, all right?" he snapped, opening his eyes again. "And be quiet."
The Fat Lady gave them strange looks when they got there, but didn't
ask. She was probably used to seeing Ron and Hermione return to the
common room under strange circumstances.
He found Hermione in
his dormitory, sitting on his bed. Ginny was awake now, and she was
glowering full force at him. Harry sat down next to her, also
glowering. They looked scarily alike from where Ron stood.
"We can't just stay here all day," said Hermione shrilly, wringing her
hands again. "Someone's bound to notice. I can't miss my Arithmancy
class, either, we're doing a new topic today –"
"Who cares about Arithmancy? We need to get an aging potion NOW."
"I have to go to the library, then," said Hermione, pacing back and
forth. "Oh my god, Ron, how are we going to explain this? What if
McGonagall asks? Harry can't go to class like that! And one of us has
to stay with him – damnit, she's bound to notice if all three of us don't show up!"
Ginny glowered, and said crossly in her six-year-old voice, "I can't go to class, either!"
"We'll have to split up," said Ron, thinking fast. "Take turns going to class. We'll have to keep them both here –"
Someone turned the doorknob, making Ron and Hermione jump. Fortunately,
Harry and Ginny were already sitting on his bed, and it was a simple
matter to shut the curtains, hiding them from view. The door opened
just as Ron grabbed Hermione and pressed his lips to hers. She
protested weakly. It was a sign of how utterly panicked Ron was that he
didn't feel an ounce of enjoyment to be kissing Hermione again for the
second time within 24 hours.
"Ron! Hermione!" It was Neville, going bright red. "I'm so sorry, I didn't know you were –"
Ron broke apart from Hermione, who glared at him. He tried to ignore it. "S'ok, Neville –" he said breathlessly.
"I just needed to use the bathroom –" Neville's eyes darted from
Hermione to the door to the toilets. He looked like he was trying to
decide what the worse fate was, his legs clenched together and shaking.
Pure need won over social etiquette. "Sorry, I really can't hold it in–" he said, and he dashed off, looking desperate. "I'll BE RIGHT BACK OUT!" he shouted, slamming the door shut behind him.
Hermione looked like she was about to faint. "Library," she muttered, pressing a hand to her forehead. "Library."
"Ron, I need to pee again," said Harry, poking his head out between the curtains. Ron fought the urge to strangle him.
"That's it," he said, flopping down on his bed and covering his eyes
with his hand. "Hermione, you're taking Harry down to the Prefect's
Hermione scowled at him, temporarily forgetting to worry. "What about Ginny?"
"I'll stay with her!"
"Fine," said Hermione loftily, taking Harry by the hand and covering
them both with the Invisibility Cloak. "But I'm warning you – you had
She left just as Neville flushed, and came out of the bathroom, looking sheepish. "Oh – did she leave? I'm REALLY sorry, Ron –"
"It's OK," he said hastily, pushing Neville out of the room, and locking the door.
Hermione hadn't been lying about Ginny, Ron discovered after an
exhausting two hours later. He couldn't remember if she'd always been
like this, or if it was just something about the age-reversing spell
that made the both of them (Harry and Ginny) super-annoying. She seemed
to have forgotten by this point that she was angry with him, and the
glower became a faint glimmer of distrust.
whined Ginny, wiping her nose on his sleeve. Ron suddenly felt a sharp
pang of empathy with those animals that Charlie had told him ate their
young when he was little. He reminded himself that hitting kids was
wrong, and hitting one's little sister was an even more punishable act.
Especially if one's mum found out.
"We can't eat yet," said Ron, trying to keep his voice even.
"Because. It's not suppertime."
"Because it's still daytime," Ron snapped. "Look out the window, Ginny, it's still sunny outside."
Ginny looked, saw that the sky was indeed still a light blue, then
turned back to him and asked, "Why is it sunny outside, Ron?"
His head hurt.
"If you ask me 'why' one more time, I'm going to make you eat broccoli."
She paused. After a few seconds, she looked at him again, and asked, in a very serious voice, "How come?"
Don't hit kids.
"Broccoli and liver paste. That's a promise."
Ginny glared at him. It was quite an impressive glare, for a five-year-old.She didn't even come up to his waist, but the sentiment came across rather well, anyway. "I don't think I like you."
"Yeah, well, I feel the same way."
"You're mean," she glowered. "I'm telling Erminninie!"
"Go ahead," he said.
He should have known it wasn't a good idea to challenge his little sister.