“I’m not sure this is such a great idea, Ron,” Harry hissed, catching a glimpse of his reflection in a nearby window.
His hair was slicked back with enough grease to rival the lovechild of Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy. Plus the liberally applied ‘tinting gloss’ added to Harry’s cheeks and lips by style guru Ron Weasley made him look like Professor Slughorn in drag.
The usually un-used dressing table in the boys’ dorm was covered in various lotions and potions they’d found at the bottoms of their trunks; unopened toiletries that were once Christmas presents from estranged relatives. Not to mention the freebies Fred and George offered from their ‘Pygmy Puff Cosmetics’ range when the boys informed the twins of their prankster plans. Their hamper contained everything from powder puffs, to complimentry breath mints to a contraption that said on the label that it was an 'eyelash curler', but Harry and Ron steered well clear of it just in case.
“You look ravishing, Harry, don’t be so stupid.” Ron couldn’t hide the sarcasm in his voice, “Hermione will drop dead at the sight of you... Stone. Cold. Dead.”
“That’s reassuring, thanks Ron.”
In truth, Harry couldn’t care less what Hermione’s reaction was to this humiliating get-up. She’d seen him sweating, bleeding, covered in muck and dust and whatnot on their adventures to date. But he had a sneaking suspicion that, if Ron was accompanying Harry, there was a good chance that Ginny would be waiting in the wings for Hermione. This was not the impression he wanted to make in front of her; like he had taken styling tips out of Argus Filch’s handbook.
“Maybe we shouldn’t be doing this,” Harry repeated, flinching away from the boy in the mirror.
“Hazza!” Ron exclaimed, taking Harry by the shoulders. “Don’t you get it? This isn’t about us anymore! They have our list, we know they have our list and they know that we know that they have our list and they’re trying to out-list us, do you really want that to happen?”
“I’ve no idea what you just said,” Harry said, his eyes glazed over, confused.
“It’s a simple game of ‘Chicken’, Harry. Surely you’ve played ‘Chicken’?”
“No, but I have the feeling I’m the one who’ll end up with egg on my face,” Harry shook his head, bewildered by Ron’s enthusiasm. “I don’t think even Fred and George have ever taken a prank this far! Maybe you’re taking this a little too seriously, Ron?”
Truth be told, Harry was right. For some reason Ron felt more driven than he had ever felt before, even when he was out on the Quidditch pitch. He couldn’t understand why, all he knew was that the thought of Hermione winning over Harry made his stomach curl up and fists clench. He was as angry as hell at her for playing the player and she was going to pay. They were going to win.
Ron opened his mouth to explain this to Harry, when suddenly the door clicked open and the sound of Neville’s voice could be heard:
“Yeah, Lavender said the boys would be out all night washing each other’s hair or so we’ll have the place to our-- Harry! Ron!” Neville exclaimed as he saw the boys in the room, quickly slamming the door. “Err... Hi!”
Harry and Ron were sure they heard a muffled ‘ow’ from the other side of the threshold.
“Who were you talking to?” Ron asked, suspiciously.
“Err... uhhh.... no one! Just me,” Neville stuttered, “talking to myself.”
His cheeks were flushed pink and his lips were a raw red. Harry wondered if Ron had let Neville borrow his tinting gloss. Why the crimson-blushing ginger would need red tinting gloss in the first place was beyond Harry’s imagination.
“Why? What are you guys doing?” Neville threw the question back at them.
Ron and Harry checked themselves; brushes, curling tongs and tinting gloss in hands. They’d been caught red handed!
“Nothing!” Ron said out of habit, wishing he had an excuse ready.
“Lavender said you were in the bathroom,” Neville questioned.
“Yes. Washing hair,” Ron nodded, vigorously.
They could hardly tell Neville that Ron was preparing Harry for some Hot Rumpy Pumpy with Hermione Granger in the Room of Requirement, could they?
“But... you’re not now?” Neville quizzed.
Ron gave Harry a panicked look that said, ‘Help’ but at the same time said, ‘Please don’t put your foot in it again by saying something stupid like you usually do!’
“Um... we were in the bathroom... but then we finished and Ron said he’d give me some um... tips, you know, for men’s cosmetics,” Harry wished he’d kept his mouth shut; he was awful at making up excuses.
“Yeah,” Ron added, giving Harry a look of disgust, “because Harry over here has an oily T-zone that I said I’d take a look at.”
“Oh right!” Neville laughed. “There’s nothing a good exfoliation won’t fix, Harry! My pores are murder, they really are.”
An awkward silence followed as the boys sized each other up, unsure of what to do. Ron looked at his feet. Harry’s eyes shifted from the window to the floor. Neville’s eyes flitted between the two boys and then back to the dormitory door. Merlin, this silence was long.
“So...” Neville finally chimed in, “I’d better be off...”
“But you only just got here!”
“Yes, I did,” Neville observed. “But... I... err... have somewhere to... um... be... I’ll be... maybe... back about... erm...”
He turned to go, opening the door.
“Oh, Neville!” Harry called after him.
“Your shirt’s on backwards.”
Neville look down to see that this was, indeed, true.
He shrugged, “I know.”
And then he left, closing the door behind him.
“What the hell was all that about?” Ron asked, letting out a sigh of relief.
“I don’t know,” Harry told Ron, “there have been some strange goings on at Hogwarts these last few days.”
“Yeah!” Ron shook his head. “Tell me about it!”
- - -
And speaking of strange goings-on at Hogwarts, Hermione was also being groomed by a Weasley (no pun intended). As soon as the tale of Harry’s note was relayed to Ginny, the red-head had been set on carrying it out to a tee. The girls were already in the room of requirement, doing last minute preparations for Hermione’s night of ‘steamy passion’ with Harry.
As the red-head touched up Hermy’s roots in a last minute inspection, the brunette sighed, “Why I am doing this again?”
“Do I have to explain?”
“Yes, excuse me if I have reservations about a ride on the Hot Tamale Train with my best friend,” Hermione snorted.
“Nobody will be riding anything, Granger, with or without a spicy Mexican dish. We’re doing this for Honour!” Ginny stuck her nose in the air in a dignified manner. “The boys started that list, and now they’re going to pay the price for trying to bluff their way out of it!”
“We’re doing this for womankind, Hermione! We’re taking a stand against the conformity of the man. The man! If Harry and Ron think they have the right to ask you about your sexual relations so that they can categorise you on some list, they can stick their phallic shaped-egos in a place where only Lavender and Seamus have been!”
“Thankyou, Miss Pankhurst, but if your next sentence starts ‘I have a dream...’ I’m walking out of here,” Hermione shook her head.
“We’re doing this for feminism, Hermione, say it with me!” Ginny demanded, passionately.
There was a flash of something exciting and altogether scary in Ginevra Weasley’s eyes in that moment that made Hermione want to run from the room. One thing was for certain, when a Weasley said something like that, she meant it.
“Now do you want to see how pretty you are?” Ginny asked, holding up a mirror.
Hermione took a deep breath, telling herself to trust Ginny and the...
“GINNY! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY HAIR?” Hermione shouted, seeing herself in the mirror. “I look like a Swedish porn star!”
“Nonsense,” Ginny laughed, clearly enjoying herself, “Svetlanka Von Winklepicker has a very subtle, sophisticated style!”
Although girly makeovers were not her forte, she had had fun dressing Hermione up like a big ridiculous Barbie doll. Harry had to know that the girls meant business.
“It looks as if Crookshanks died on my head!”
“It’s a beehive.”
“Well it better brush out... this instant!” Hermione tried to flatten it, but her feisty forward-thinking friend had already charmed it into place, aided by some extra-mega-strength magical hair-hold spray from ‘Glamorius Glitter’s’ Witchcare range.
“Tough. It looks gorgeous.” Ginny told Hermione’s reflection.
“I’ve seen better perms on a poodle!” Hermione shrieked.
“More like ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’!” Hermione wailed. “What will Ron say when he sees me like this?”
Ginny paused in mid brush-stroke, trying desperately not to snort a laugh, “When who sees you?” she asked Hermione to repeat.
“Harry,” Hermione said, oblivious to her slip of the tongue. “Why, what did I say?”
“Nothing,” Ginny grinned to herself.
Suddenly the girls could hear male voices growing louder up the corridor.
“He’s coming!” Hermione panicked.
It was too late to repair the damage Ginny had done. The made-up Hermione made a mental note never to forgive her friend for this, and to make her pay later. Until then, she just had to keep reminding herself this was for Feminism. Feminism.
“Good luck!” Ginny whispered. “You’ll be fine, hang in there. Just remember what I told you and I’ll just be behind this curtain if you need any help.”
“Ginny, why am I doing this again?”
“Relax! All you need to do is put the moves on Harry, like we talked about and he’ll run a mile! It’s simple!”
“Wow, my self-esteem sure took a boost from that, Gin. Thanks.”
“You know what I mean. Once we win the bluff they’ll be grovelling at our feet, begging an apology for writing that stupid list.”
“Quick! They’re here!”
Ginny dashed behind the curtain just as the door to the room of requirement opened.
- - -
Harry paused, with his hand on the knob (so to speak), before turning back to Ron.
“What?” Ron hissed, his head poking out from the invisibility cloak that Harry had lent him.
“How’s my breath?” Harry asked, exhaling into Ron’s face.
“Err... could be better, admittedly,” the Weasley choked, “but I think I’ve got some mints in my pocket... here you go!”
Ron extended a hand out from nowhere with a packet of the sweets. Harry took one and swilled it around his mouth appreciatively.
“Cheers, mate,” he whispered, but still hadn’t pushed the door to.
“Harry, you’re stalling!” Ron read Harry’s mind, “You’ll be fine. All you need to do is plant some suave moves on that prissy priss until she gets freaked out and bottles it. Then, by rights, the list is ours.”
“What do you mean ‘by rights’?” Harry was sweating an uncomfortable amount.
“The laws of ‘Chicken’, my friend,” Ron grinned from behind his invisible cover. “Never fear, I’ll be right beside you every step of the way.”
“For some reason I don’t find that particularly reassuring, Ron.” Harry breathed, shakily, “I’m sure this is illegal.”
“I hope so otherwise it’d be no fun. Now open that bloody door before Filch catches us!”
- - -
Harry entered the room and quickly turned his back to close the door after himself, making sure to leave enough room for Ron to slink through and witness the rendez-vous.
“Oh! Hi Harry!” Hermione turned to face him.
He hardly dared look around.
Ginny cleared her throat as Harry shut the door behind himself.
“I mean... err... Hello there, stallion!” Hermione took her pitch down two octaves, talking in a husky drawl.
Harry turned around to meet his date and got the surprise of his life!
“Holy mother of back-combing, what in the name of Mundungus Fletcher is that on her head?” Ron hissed from his invisible hiding spot.
“I think its Mrs Norris,” Harry mumbled under his breath to his friend.
“Wow, Hermione, you look...” Harry wasn’t quite sure he wanted to finish that sentence. He was taken aback, literally knocked back a few steps by the hairspray vapours that were chemically dissolving his nostril hairs.
“Yes?” Hermione glared, unappreciative of the look of shock and disgust on Harry’s contorted face.
“Erm... your hair...” he gulped.
“Looks like... a... a...”
“Like a what?”
“A bit like my Aunt Marge.”
“What the fungus did you just say?” Ron hissed from behind him.
“The one you got expelled for when you blew her up at home one summer?”
“Well, thanks, I guess,” Hermione glowered, “You’re such a charmer.”
“Stay in character!” Ginny hissed from behind her friend, poking her gently in the back with her wand. “Bat your eyelashes or something!”
Hermione began fluttering her eyelashes seductively in her date’s direction. Feminism. This was for Feminism.
“Feminism, my face!” Hermione murmured under her breath.
“Hermione, have you got something in your eye?” Harry asked, politely; girls liked guys with good manners, right?
“No,” Hermione scowled, her best efforts scuppered.
“She’s flirting, you toadstool!” Ron whispered urgently to his clueless friend.
“How was I supposed to know? She looked as if she was having a seizure!” Harry whispered back through gritted teeth.
“Maybe it’s just the lights,” Hermione suggested, taking out her wand, “Maybe it would be better if we dimmed them.”
She waved her hand across the room and the candles flickered until a more intimate lighting filled the room.
Once the mood was set, she gestured to a seat next to her, “Perhaps you’d like to sit down?”
“That would be great,” Harry walked, shaking, over to his purely platonic friend.
“How about a drink?” she offered, tilting her head, coyly. Those years of watching Lavender and Parvati practice pouting in the mirror had paid off!
She poured them both a double Fire Whiskey, thinking they’d need it.
“To us!” they clinked their glasses together. “Cheers!”
Sure enough, they both downed the lot.
An awkward silence crept up. The couple sat as far apart as was courteous on the chaise, smiling at each other, wondering who would be brave enough to make the first move. Hermione wished she could summon more drink.
Ginny poked her friend with her wand again, through the curtain.
“Ow!” Hermione gasped, forgetting her friend was there.
“What?” Harry asked, suspiciously, fidgeting with his empty glass.
“I... said... err... how... hot it is in here!” Hermione improvised.
“Well covered!” Ginny praised.
Then she took of the black shawl that was covering her shoulders to reveal a low-cut silk slip in blue with a black lace trim, so short that a slither of thigh could be seen at the top of her suspenders. These belonged to Ginny, of course.
“Or uncovered, should I say?” Ginny chuckled to herself.
Harry’s eyes widened to the size of dinner plates. He couldn’t stop staring at Hermione’s cleavage!
He heard Ron inhale sharply, “Holy Gobstones! Where has she been hiding those Quaffles?”
Hermione sat patiently, waiting for Harry to stop gawking. However, he couldn’t draw his eyes away, much to Ginny’s envy and disgust.
“Say something!” she ordered to Hermione, jealous of the attention she was getting from her number one crush.
“So...” Hermione jumped straight to the chase. “Have you ever played the pink oboe before, Harry?”
“No, I don’t play any instruments...” He laughed awkwardly, shuffling uncomfortably on his chair, still staring at his friend’s chest. Platonic or not, where had those been all his life?
“Right,” Hermione sighed. Why were boys so clueless? She was sure she could hear Ginny face-palming behind her.
“Pick your mouth from up off the floor and make your move, Casanova!” Ron told Harry, who snapped his head up straight away, forcing himself to keep focused on her eyes instead of her... eyes.
“So... Hermione...” Harry started, stuck for words: how was he supposed to woo Hermione? Do people even say ‘woo’ anymore? It’s so old-fashioned! Only over-50s woo anything, not that he wanted to be thinking about that! Eugh! Quite off topic! ‘Seduce’ was probably the better word, but it sounded so manipulative...
“Yes?” Hermione snapped, impatiently.
“Well...” Harry said the first thing that came to mind. “I’ve been really trying, Hermione, trying to hold back these feelings for so long. And if you feel like I feel, sugah, c’mon, woah, c’mon, woo...”
“Let me stop you right there, Harry,” Hermione winced, “those are the lyrics to ‘Let’s get it on’ by Marvin Gaye.”
“Oh!” Harry realised. “Sorry, I guess what I’m trying to say is that what I feel is getting stronger and strong. And when I get that feeling, I need sexual...”
“Healing?” Hermione finished. “That’s another Marvin Gaye classic, Harry.”
“Is it? Are you sure?”
“Yes,” Hermione sighed in frustration.
“Sorry, I’m not very good at this,” Harry apologised, looking down at his fidgeting hands, “It’s just that your note took me by surprise, I must say, when I found out yesterday, don’t you know that I heard...”
“If you say ‘heard it through the grapevine’ I might kill you, Harry.”
“How did you know...?”
“Just forget it,” Hermione sat back and folded her arms in annoyance.
She took a deep breath, trying to keep control of the situation... but eugh! What was that stench?
“Wait... what’s that smell?” she sniffed the air again.
“Huh?” Harry asked. “Oh, I’m wearing aftershave if that’s what...”
“No, no,” Hermione sat up, “like... is that... garlic?”
“What? I don’t smell anything!” Harry said, confused.
“It’s coming from you!” Hermione gagged. “Have you eaten garlic?”
“No! I just had a breath mint actually and...” Harry said, but then realised... two words. Fred. George.
They must’ve had a right laugh slipping joke breath mints into their hamper of freebies from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes!
“Sorry, Hazza, must’ve picked them up from dressing table on the way out the door,” Ron whispered, apologetically. “I’ll kill those identical good for nothings later!”
“Pants,” Harry grumbled.
It looked as if the prank was over. There was no way Hermione would want him now.
“No! Don’t let him get away! Don’t let him back out!” Ginny seethed from behind her curtain. “Feminism, Hermione! Feminism!”
“Actually, I quite like the smell of garlic on a man,” Hermione winked, seductively, playing up to it like Ginny instructed her too.
“Really?” Harry perked up, maybe the boys were still in for a chance.
“Oh yes,” Hermione smiled, “I like the taste too!”
And without further ado she leaned in and pressed her lips against the Harry’s stinking mouth!
Ugh! Hermione thought, this is the most disgusting thing ever! Even worse than kissing Harry, he has to smell to high heaven of Italian garnish! If only I didn’t have to breathe through my nose! Oh Merlin, I think I’m going to hurl! Hold in there, Hermione! This is for feminism! We can’t let the boys leave with the list! We can’t let them win! Now just back up and think of something sexy. Uhh... what worked before? Oh, that’s right. Ron and I stuck in a lift, no garlic involved whatsoever... hmmm... that’s a nice image... Oh! My! Merlin! Harry’s mind was buzzing, this was like kissing his sister! If he had a sister that is... the closest thing he had to a sister. Other than Ginny, of course, except... that idea doesn’t seem particularly repulsive. Oh Merlin, help me and my weirdly incestuous thoughts! Just try and imagine Ginny kissing you instead of Hermione, and forget that her hair reminds you of Aunt Marge... eugh! Now there’s a disgustingly repulsive incestuous thought that no one needs to think about...
Harry broke apart from Hermione instantly.
“WHAT DID YOU SAY?” a boy shouted, but it wasn’t Harry.
“What?” Hermione said, momentarily dazed and apparently oblivious to her little outburst. “Who’s there? Who said that?”
Ron had no choice but to let the invisibility cloak drop.
“AHA!” Ginny jumped out from behind the curtain.
“YOU!” Hermione gasped at Ron, appalled at herself for how she had behaved in front of him, oblivious to his presence the whole time.
“YOU!” Ron yelled at Ginny, drawing his wand and pointing it furiously at his little sister. “I might have known!”
“And we got away with it with the help of you meddling kids!” Ginny laughed, drawing her own wand on her brother. “Now hand over the list, we won it by rights!”
“By rights?” Harry shook his head in disbelief, how could siblings be so competitive?
“You did not!” Ron fumed. “Tart in Blue Satin over there called out my name, we win fair and square!”
“What did you call me?” Hermione said, enraged, but then checked herself. “Wait, what did you say? What did I say? What’s going on?”
“Never mind, Hermione, I’ll explain later, but for now I think we better stay out of this one,” Harry observed.
Sure enough, the Weasleys were shouting and swearing in full flow as if their friends didn’t exist. Hermione and Harry suddenly felt very small, trapped in between two fiery red-heads, in the eye of the storm – a Weasley-off! Apparently sibling rivalry came before everything...
“... oh, don’t be so ridiculous, Ron! We know that you wrote that stupid list!”
“But you’re behind this charade! Well, it wouldn’t be the first time you were behind something!”
“I BEG YOUR PARDON?”
“Now, Ronald, I think it’s best if we just all calm down...” Hermione stood up boldly.
“You can keep out of this and all!” Ron shouted, his ears turning an unfortunate shade of purple. “You’re as bad as Ginny, flouncing around after Harry like a... a... strumpet with a mullet!”
“IT’S A BEEHIVE!” Ginny defended, her wand arm shaking at her older brother.
“I err... think it’s best that we leave now, Ron,” Harry stepped in, trying to steer his hot-tempered friend towards the door.
“I intend to!” Ron spat. “As soon as those teases return the list to us!”
“You’ve got some nerve, Ron!” Ginny barked. “After all the trouble that stupid Virgin List has caused, what makes you think we’d return it to you?”
“That’s Virgin Count to you!”
“It’s not even accurate!”
“Wait,” Hermione stopped everyone in their tracks. “You boys haven’t got the list?”
“No, we haven’t. Or did you think that Harry genuinely wanted to shag you?” Ron snarled.
“Ronald!” Hermione glared at the fuming adolescent until he shut up. There would be time for his comeuppance later when she was less embarrassed about calling out his name when kissing Harry. “Well I think you should know that we don’t have it either. The point of this... meeting was for us to win back the list so that we could destroy it and the damage it has caused.”
“What damage? What are you talking about?” Ron was seeing red, and unable to think straight. Maybe it was all that tinting gloss, Harry almost looked radioactive in this light.
“I’M A VIRGIN, RON!” Ginny wailed, her wand wobbling in her hand.
“Really!?” Harry spoke up a little too enthusiastically, and then cleared his throat in a correctively manly way. “Ahem. I mean... err... really?”
“Yes,” Ginny lowered her weapon, “and I don’t appreciate the whole school thinking I’m a big slag because of some stupid list that you two sons of a Mandrake made up.”
“Ginny,” Ron said softly, as if he was about to apologise, “the whole school thinks you’re a slag regardless, list or no list.”
“WHY YOU LITTLE...!” Ginny flared up again.
“Wait!” Hermione stopped them. “Speaking of ‘list or no list’, hasn’t anyone realised something yet?”
“What?” Ron barked.
Hermione sighed. Did she really have to spell it out to them?
“If Ginny and I don’t have the list, and you and Harry don’t have the list, then who does?”
A small silence echoed in the room as it dawned on them. The. List. Was. Missing.
“Holy Chocolate Frogs...” was all Ron managed to croak.
“Then, I guess... I’m sorry for deceiving you, Hermione,” Harry said.
“That’s okay,” Hermione nodded, “I’m sorry for behaving the way I did.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry too, Hermione, Ginny,” Ron mumbled.
“And I’m all well and sorry too, but that’s not going to get us that list back!” Ginny sighed as she lowered her wand arm. “It could be anywhere by now!”
“It’s fine,” Hermione reassured everyone, a plan already forming in her head, “it can’t have gone far, all we need to do is re-trace our steps. We’ll do it Scooby doo doggy style: split up and look for clues. Me and Ginny will go together and you and... what’s so funny, Harry, Ron?”
“Doggy-style!” the boys chorused, snorting guffaws and giggles.
“Idiots,” Ginny mumbled under her breath, “We better take one each, Hermione. Those imbeciles will never manage anything on their own.”
“Fine!” Hermione said. “Harry and I versus you and Ron?”
Everyone looked slightly uncomfortable for a second.
Ginny spoke up, “Or um... I could go with Harry and...”
“... and I could go with... Hermione?” Ron shrugged indifferently, as if the pairings made no difference to him.
“Yeah, sure, whatever,” Hermione said impatiently, leading the way out of the room, wand first.
“Okay,” Harry said, trying to keep a massive grin at bay as he and Ginny exited together.
“Everyone meet back at the common room in an hour, now go!”
- - -
author's note: OMG SO MANY APOLOGIES FOR THE LATENESS OF THIS CHAPTER! There are so many reasons why this chapter didn't make it for so long, but I don't want to make excuses. I promise I will nto be taking that long with chapter six even if it kills me. On a separate note, did you enjoy it? Thanks for reading, please leave your thoughts x x x