"What is that?" asked Harry puzzled.
"What was left of the Polyjuice Potion," said Hermione as she stored two flasks in her backpack.
"Were they still in the girl's bathroom?" said Ron surprised.
"Well, they are not very popular now, are they?" said Hermione as she settled between the two boys in front of the fireplace.
"And, uh, what are you planning to do with them?" asked Harry, watching warily her backpack. Their last adventure had almost killed him, and right now he just wanted to enjoy a moment of peace.
"According to the book, the potion doesn't have an expiration date," said Hermione shrugging, "I want to keep them. Who knows, we may need it next year."
"Yeah, right," Ron let out a nervous laugh, "there must be two or three dangerous creatures we haven't faced yet."
In that moment the portrait door opened, giving way to a group of first years preceded by Ginny, who looked very overwhelmed with her peers' comments, exclamations and questions. She smiled at them making a shy little wave with her hand.
"Why can't they just leave her alone?" mumbled Ron frowning.
"Leave her alone?" asked Hermione surprised, "It would be worse if peolpe avoided her for fear or prejudice, don't you think?"
"These ones are not so bad," said Ron pointing at the noisy group with his head, "but those damned Slytherins," he groaned, "Percy says this morning three boys cornered her on the fifth floor and tried to make her tell what had happened in the Chamber of Secrets."
"Three Slytherins?" asked Harry startled, "you mean the same three Slytherins Fred and George left unconscious with their heads turned into cabbages...?"
"...in the fifth floor broom cupboard?" finished Ron with a grimace, "yes, it was them."
"Serves them right," said Hermione bitterly.
From the other side of the common room they could still hear the excuses Ginny was presenting her audience so they let her rest. She could only make her way to the dormitories after twenty minutes or so.
"Should I go and talk to her?" said Hermione thoughtfully. They were more acquaintances than friends, but she knew Ginny needed someone right now.
"She'll be fine," snapped Ron, getting closer to the fire.
Hermione looked severely at him, and after a few moments she stood decided.
"I better go with her," she said heading to the girls dormitories.
As Hermione went up, Fred and George Weasley came through the portrait door. They took two chairs from a nearby table and sat beside Harry and Ron.
"What did you have to do?" asked them Ron, as soon as they approached.
"We were at Hagrid's all day," answered George smiling.
"Helping our newly reinstated ranger to fulfill his daily duties," replied Fred imitating the authoritative tone of Professor McGonagall.
"Really?" asked Harry surprised. Everybody knew helping Hagrid with his chores as "The Keeper of the Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts" was more of an adventure than a punishment.
"Truth is, they didn't put much thought into it," said George shrugging
"And when those pea-brained, cabbage heads wake up-" added Fred suddenly angry.
"-they will have a worse punishment," completed George with a sour face.
"Bloody Slytherins," said Ron after a short pause.
"Where's Ginny?" asked Fred suddenly.
"She went up to the dormitories," answered Harry, "Hermione is with her."
"If it wasn't for the Feast," mused Fred saddly, "I would ask mom to take her home."
"This is going to be a lazy week, anyway," nodded George.
"At least, we're not having any tests!" said Ron cheerfully.
"No, but we have a hotbed of gossip instead."
"What Ginny needs is a distraction," said Harry slowly.
The twins turned to each other with identical smiles. "We can do that!" They said with mischievous eyes.
"I've got an idea!" exclaimed Ron excitedly, keeping quiet when he realized half of the common room had turned to stare at them.
The twins and Harry moved closer to him. Quickly and quietly Ron took Hermione's bag and took one of the thermos out.
"What is that?" asked Fred and George at the same time.
Before anyone could say anything, a very agitated Hermione came running from the dormitories. Ron quickly hid the thermo flask behind his back.
"What is it?" asked Harry suddenly nervous because of the attitude of his friend.
"What? Oh, nothing," said Hermione taking her backpack from Ron's hands. "I have to, uh, study,"she said and went back to the dormitories almost running up the stairs.
Hermione entered the dormitories breathlessly. Ginny was sitting on her bed with red and swollen eyes. But she smiled as Hermione took a thermo out of her backpack.
"Thank you!" she whispered wiping one last tear.
"Do not thank me yet," said Hermione quietly, "I only hope nobody notices," she said sitting beside her on the bed.
"It's only for this last week," said Ginny with bright eyes. "We don't do anything in classes, anymore. And there won't be any tests! No one will ever know. I promise."
"It won't last a week, I'm afraid," said Hermione looking at the thermo, "we both have to drink a sip every hour to maintain the appearance-"
"This is gonna be great!" exclaimed Ginny excited.
"Some kind of roleplay for Ginny!" whispered Harry amazed with Ron's impressively creative idea and excited with all the possibilities he could see with that plan.
"We could perform to the whole school!" said the twins smiling.
"No, no. Just here in the common room," said Ron quickly, suddenly nervous at the thought of such a large audience.
"Any ideas for our actors?" asked Fred and George excited.
"How about Flitwick?" suggested Ron equally thrilled.
"And Hagrid!" added Harry.
"All right," agreed the twins. "But they will be for you."
Ron and Harry glanced to each other quickly.
"I want Flitwick!" said Harry
"Mine's Hagrid!" exclaimed Ron at the same time, making them both laugh.
"There won't be much difference then," observed Fred maliciously.
"What about you?" asked them Harry grinning, "Who do you want to be?"
"Snape," they both say calmly, making Harry and Ron gasped.
"That's impossible" said Harry serious, after glancing around nervously.
"Of course not!" smiled George.
"Come on, Harry, give us some credit," said Fred with a wink.
"Even if you were crazy enough to pull some Snape's hairs out," said Ron frowning, "you can't be both Snape!"
"Well..." said Harry, "it would be funnier if George were another teacher, perhaps Professor McGonagall?"
"Why me?" snapped George.
"I'm with Harry on this one, Georgie," said Fred smiling, "you'd make a terrific McGonagall!"
"I won't become a witch!" exclaimed George indignantly, "and let alone an old one!"
"Oh, Georgie, where is your sense of fun?" smiled Fred patting his back, "sometimes you have to take one for the team!"
"Why don't you do it, then?"
"I -" Fred made a pause, "Very well," he said slowly, after thinking it over, "I will be Professor McGonagall!"
A laugh suddenly burst over their heads.
"HA, HA, HA!"
The four of them were gobsmacked when they saw who it was.
"So," said Peeves with his shrilly voice, "A few sips of this," he said waving the thermo he had taken in a moment of distraction, "with the victim's hairs, and one's appearance changes, right?" with every word he said his smile widened more and more...