Living Doll
Hermi2 & McGonagirl
Rating: PG

"Take a look at her hair, it's real
If you don't believe what I say, just feel
I'm gonna lock her up in a trunk so no big hunk
Can steal her away from me!

Got myself a cryin', talkin', sleepin', walkin', livin' doll ..."

"I'm telling you Harry, Krum's lost it! He's been singing that song in the library, looking up stuff! He's actually studying!" Ron was pulling his best friend Harry along with him. Harry did have to admit that it was strange to hear the Bulgarian boy crooning to himself in heavily accented English!

As they hurried down the hall, they ran into Marcus Flint, coming the other way. He was singing, or rather, he was squawking tunelessly and loudly,

"Got to do my best to please her just 'cause she's a livin' doll ..."

Harry blinked behind his round glasses, wondering what could have gotten into the Slytherin seeker to embarrass himself so badly.

"Hey, he's singing about the same thing Krum was!" Harry whispered to Ron. "What's going on? What's this about dolls?"

Ron was trying to pull Harry along faster and was out of breath from the exertion. "Come on Harry, or there won't be anymore slots left!"

Before Harry Potter could ask what on earth Ron was talking about, they stood at the back of a crowd of boys in the Hogwart's trophy room where the Goblet of Fire was sequestered, all reading a parchment:

"What's this?" Harry was speaking in a loud whisper, because though there was a crowd by the parchment, it was unusually silent for a room full of teenaged boys.

Ron pressed a quill into Harry's writing hand and pushed him forward, "Go on! Be the first to put your name on! It'll encourage the others!"

"What? No way, you've got to be joking!" Harry was aghast. "Girls aren't to be competed for! What are you, a slaver?"

"Go on, Harry!" Ron was practically pleading. "Just one mor— ... I mean, go on, sign it!"

"It'll be a laugh," counselled George Weasley, Ron's older brother.

"Not to mention, you need a date for the Yule Ball anyway," pointed out George's twin, Fred.

Harry couldn't deny the logic. "But hey, why don't you lot sign? You don't have dates either!"

As soon as Harry scrawled his name on the parchment, the ink disappeared, and he had a weird crawling sensation at the pit of his stomach. The last time this had happened to him, it turned out to be a trap of Voldemort's!

He felt even more like that time two years ago when letters appeared in response to his. But it wasn't a message this time, thankfully. It was instead a list of signatures, nine in all:

"You rotters! You'd all already signed up!" Harry was upset at his friends, but also relieved that he wouldn't be reliving the experience he'd had with Voldemort.

"You can see it now, can't you?" Ron was still whispering, "We reckon it's a spell that will accept just nine boys, that's why I was in such a hurry to get you!"

They saw Seamus Finnegan trying to sign, then Neville Longbottom, but neither boy could get their quills closer than a inch from the surface of the parchment. The same went with any other boy who had tried to sign up for the contest. "See," whispered Ron, "no one else can sign up!"

"So why are they trying?" Harry thought everyone had seen that the form was full.

"They can't see it's full," replied George, with a smirk. "Only us that's signed it can see. And look Harry, your old friend Draco's signed it, too!"

Harry looked more closely at the parchment, "Really? I would have thought a guy like Draco would have trouble getting a date, no matter what."

Ron was surprised, too. "I would think his father would have bought him one!"

The very gruff but feminine huffing noise behind them quieted them down quickly. "A woman of Beauxbatons canNOT be bought!" It was Madame Olympe Maxime, the giant headmistress of the girls school.

The boys all scattered!

* * * * *

Harry and Ron decided to work together. After all, they both needed dates to the Yule Ball. They then discovered that Krum had hoarded all the books on SpelloDolls (there were only two copies), AND on fashion over the ages!

"Never mind, Harry. You've lived with Muggles, we can choose the Muggle categories —"

"Are you mad, Ron??? I don't know anything about fashion! The only muggle woman I've ever seen within 20 feet is my Aunt Petunia, and I doubt her sense of 'fashion' would count much toward the likes of Veela!" Harry was quite irritated.

Ron sighed heavily, "I supposed we could ask Hermione, she's lived with muggles ..."

"Whoa, you really ARE mad! You know what she'd say if she knew ... do you remember that ruckus she made with S.P.E.W.?"

"Well ... yeah," agreed Ron, "but she hasn't talked about them since ... and she's not like other girls, I reckon. I mean, she always helps us with our homework whether we want her to or not, eh?"

They wandered around the library, knowing that Hermione could usually be found swotting for an exam far into the future, or writing 10 parchment rolls for some topic when only two were required. They did find her, sitting next to Viktor Krum! Or rather, sitting in one of her usual alcoves, but Krum had placed himself beside her.

"Look at that! That blighter! He's pumping Hermione for information on the SpelloDoll!" Ron sounded more than shocked; Harry might have even used the word 'panicked' to describe Ron's tone.

"Let's go, Ron, we can talk to her late—"

But Ron had strode quickly over to the seated pair and plonked himself down across the table from Hermione. He was trying to look casual, but Harry thought it looked more like a menacing glare. Harry quietly slid into the seat next to Ron.

Hermione looked up, "I suppose you're here to ask me about that ridiculous Beauxbatons competition?" She was looking quite testy.

"I can see we're not the first," accused Ron, refusing to look at Hermione.

"What's that supposed to mean? Ron Weasley, I'll have you know that Viktor—"

Hermione was interrupted by the relatively softer-speaking Harry. "Hermione, we can come back another time if it's inconvenient ... but we'd like to talk to you soon."

She was startled by the calm, rather reasonable sounding request, "Oh ... okay. Um, I'll see you boys," she emphasized the word boys, "on the cloister in 10 minutes. Don't be late!" And with that, they were dismissed.

Harry got up to go, then noticed Ron was not moving. He had not stopped glaring at Krum.

After Harry had dragged his friend out of the library, he decided that a bit of teasing might dispell the dark mood Ron was imposing. "You shouldn't make it so obvious; everyone knows about your crush on Krum, Bulgarian National team seeker! What did you call him? A genius? An ..."

"— artist," mumbled Ron. "Yeah, I know. But did you seem him smarming on Hermione! He should be ashamed, a big star like him using his wiles and charm on the likes of poor Hermione ..."

"She seems quite able to take care of herself," Harry tried to keep the tone light, "she's hardly in danger. Remember how she knocked Draco in the nose last year? And how he dropped right on his bum, and remember how he was ordering Crabbe and Goyle not to tell anyone!"

The memory brought a broad grin to Ron's face, "That was brilliant! Yeah, she's a tough one, our Hermione!"

Unbeknownst to the two boys, Hermione was right behind them. She had been uncomfortable with Viktor's attentions and used the excuse to leave the library, so she heard everything the two had said. At first, she was angry that Ron thought that she was being taken advantage of by Viktor, but when Ron used the endearment "our Hermione," she ducked behind a pillar because she felt out of breath. Why was her heart pounding? She waited till the goofy grin on her face subsided before walking out briskly to the designated meeting place.

Hermione found herself in such a good mood, she'd forgotten about the Beauxbatons competition. "What did you want to talk to me about?" She dove into the conversation, never bothering with a greeting.

Ron, who had his back to her, was startled to hear her voice; he, too, had forgotten what he was going to ask her. "Uh, hi ... we were just talking about the time you pounded Malfoy ..."

She rolled her eyes, "You interrupted my studying to ask about Draco Malfoy? No, he hasn't come to talk to me, if that's what you want to know!"

Harry looked at Ron, then quickly said, "Hermione! You know about the Beauxbatons contest ... we need help!"

"You want help with the SpelloDolls?"

Hermione had obviously read the announcement in the tournament room.

"If you could ... yes," replied Harry. "In particular, what is that spell? And we ... uh, Ron and I, uh ... we don't have any clue what women wear or why ..."

Hermione was feeling cross again and snapped, "I suppose boys are thinking more about the contents than the coverings? Too bad you don't go further into their brains instead of stopping at the bodies!"

"Hey, I have a sister," Ron protested, "I don't think of girls that way!"

Hermione gave off a guttural noise that normally expressed frustration and scolded, "You know what I mean, Ronald!" Harry often though Hermione would be a good mother someday, for all the maternal affectations she displayed. It bothered lots of others, but it never bothered Harry, who had grown up orphaned. He found it humorous and even touching, in a sort of sitcom-like manner.

In the end, after some "intense negotiation," Hermione consented to help them with the conjuring of the SpelloDolls, and she would tell them what she could in the way of fashion tips. "The contest is meant to assess your knowledge and understanding of women. Frankly I find it appalling, but being that you boys know nothing about women, I have nothing to worry about, because you'll never win!"

"Okay, but," pressed Ron, "you help with the spells, and you want us to do what??"

Hermione rolled her eyes again, "Why is it so difficult to understand? I want you to stop treating me like some swot-buddy, and more like a human being! And stop looking at me like I've grown two heads!"

Harry nudged Ron to stop irritating their friend, "Done. You're a person now, and not just a swot-buddy. We promise!"

"I'll help you after supper. We'll meet in the girl's bathroom," Hermione turned on her heel to leave, "and stop thinking I'm not worthy of the friendship of someone like Viktor Krum!"

Ron was sulking and refused to answer her. "And if you're good," Hermione yelled out over her shoulder, "I'll get you his autograph, Ronald Weasley!"

* * * * *

The second floor girls bathroom at Hogwart's was haunted by the ghost of Myrtle, who had died over 50 years ago. She was nicknamed "Moaning Myrtle" for her tendency to go on and on about her many disadvantages, real or imagined. Thus the bathroom was always deserted; no one, after all, wanted a whining, opinionated ghost popping out of the 'loo when one had to "go"!

Since their second year at school, Hermione, Ron, and Harry would use the neglected girls bathroom to meet up if they were doing anything that they ought not to have been doing. The SpelloDolls were nothing compared to the Polyjuice Potion they'd concocted the first time they'd met here, but they could be sure of some privacy. That is, unless Moaning Myrtle was about, which she wasn't, fortunately.

Harry was laughing at Ron's attempts at making the dolls, for he would grow flustered at the conjuring of the bodies and the creatures would end up without legs or arms! In one case, he created a pair of garishly pants-clad legs, but no other part of the doll's body. "Shut-up, Harry!" Ron blustered, "Your winged thing doesn't even have a head!"

"I'm not up to that yet," giggled Harry, "and I've heard some men say women are better without brains in the— OW!!!"

Hermione had smacked Harry on top of his head with her wand. "At least with women, brains are an option," she opined. "Men don't even have heads to stuff brains into!"

"Hey!" Ron was protesting a lot, "That's not very nice!"

But they had to admit, they were doing very well considering they didn't really know what they were doing, and the boys never would have managed without Hermione's help. She confirmed that Viktor had all the SpelloDoll books in the Hogwart's library, and when she left for supper that night, the boys from Slytherin were trying hard to pal up to him. "All of them are just stupid and coarse," she complained, "Viktor may not be the brightest person, but at least he knows he has to study and practice! I admire that in a man." She glared pointedly at Ron.

Ron frowned, knowing how Hermione felt about his reluctance to study at all. "He's just a machine who practices lots, anyone can get good with practice," Ron mumbled. "I mean, how else would a bonehead like him to make it onto the Bulgarian national team!"

Harry ignored the chatter of his friends, oblivious to Ron's jealousy and Hermione's hurt over the subject of Viktor Krum. He was trying hard to put his pyjamas on a SpelloDoll, then wondered how Cho Chang — the pretty girl he first saw on the Hogwart's Express — would look in his pyjamas?

"Have a thing for brunettes, eh, Harry?" Ron was teasing his friend. His dolls has all different hair colors and colorful costumes, whereas Harry's were all dark-haired, no matter what the category. Hermione had advised that they should make one in each of the nine categories, and to submit the ones which turned out best. They were doing so well at it that they found themselves making quite a lot of dolls!

"Er ... getting the hang of it ... I haven't put much thought much into the hair color," stuttered Harry, "mine all seem to be slouching ..."

Hermione peered at the little mannequin-like creatures as they posed and walked across the tiles, "I think they're meant to be like that ... they're disproportionate anyway — their heads are way too big!"

"But look how it makes them walk!" Ron admired the dolls breathlessly, "They've all got that charming wiggle the girls from Beauxbatons have ... OW!!!" He grabbed his head where he'd been winged by Hermione's wand.

Harry and Ron found themselves with a bunch of SpelloDolls, sore heads, and no Hermione. They did see the door swing shut as their friend left them in the bathroom. Then they heard a characteristic gurgling noise which meant Moaning Myrtle was in the pipes! Scrambling, they gathered up all their SpelloDolls and followed Hermione out the door.

* * * * *

When they got back to their room in the Gryffindor tower, Harry and Ron both founds notes instructing them to report to the trophy room, where the Beauxbatons challenge had initially been posted. There were to bring the dolls they had created. "It's a good thing we got Hermione to help us tonight," said Ron, as the two walked down the corridors. They were quite a site — their numerous SpelloDolls, both complete and partials, had refused to sit in their bags or pockets and had instead climbed over the boys' heads and ears!

Other students turned to stare and giggle at the boys, but the giggling grew louder as they approached the appointed room. The other seven contestants were also en route, and thus the compounded laughter.

Harry and Ron were surprised at how normal their dolls were compared to other's attempts! First, Fred and George Weasley showed up with very "sexy goth" looking dolls and some tomboyish, alternative dolls, but only a few of them. They'd tried to create a Veela looking doll which took a lot of time, but the spell had backfired and the dolls only ended up looking rather dead instead! Still, they were appealingly stylish, in their way ... if you like that sort of look in a girl, that is.

It was obvious that Malfoy and his two cohorts, Crabbe and Goyle, had worked together. They had the same dolls as each other! What's more, like Ron and Harry, they had trouble conjuring the full doll bodies, so that some seemed to be missing various limbs or heads; in some cases, there were only minimal clothing on the dolls! "That's cheating, that'll never pass," whispered Ron. "Hey, Harry, our prospects aren't bad!"

Marcus Flint came in with Viktor Krum, who was pointedly ignoring the Slytherin seeker. Flint seemed to not have any dolls on him; he plucked a few off of Viktor's head, but they immediately hopped or flew back onto the Durmstrang student. Obviously, the SpelloDolls stuck with the person who had created them, and it looked like Flint hadn't had any, whereas Krum had many — you could barely see his the top of his head for all the dolls perched there. All in all, it looked like Ron and Harry would likely win two of the dates, despite the trouble they'd had conjuring their dolls. They were really cheered by this. "Even Hermione would have to be proud," whispered Ron to Harry, "the only ones who qualify are the ones she helped, even Vicky over there! Whoa, his dolls look a bit of all right!" Everyone admired the beautifully constructed dolls which walked and flew becomingly in proximity of their creators.

Despite himself, Harry smiled every time Ron referred to Krum as "Vicky." He'd gone from worshipping the Bulgarian's flying skills to being jealous of Krum's time with Hermione. Harry wondered where this envy might lead, and he hoped he wouldn't get caught in the middle of it.

The contestants stood awkwardly eyeing each other's dolls for many long minutes. The room was filling with students from Hogwart's and Durmstrang, but none from Beauxbatons. Harry had a sinking feeling that this might have been a joke?

But at last, they heard the clatter of heels on the flagstones of the corridor outside the room. Surmising that they were female shoes, the boys straightened up and looked to the door, anxious to have their SpelloDolls judged.

But instead of the ladies of Beauxbatons, it was just one big woman ... Madame Maxime, the headmistress! She blocked the doorway very effectively, and the boys and gathered students stood with fear and anticipation. Would she be the one to judge the dolls?

The giantess drew her wand and uttered a French word; the tip of her wand hummed and vibrated, and the SpelloDolls started to move and shake, too! Anyone could see the dolls were not happy — they clutched at clothing and strands of hair on the boys, trying to stay put, but it wasn't to be! They moved so quickly now that they themselves let out audible shrieks and hums ... then there was a popping noise and pffts of dainty, curling smoke ... and the SpelloDolls were gone!

"When you grow up and are no longer boys, you will understand what a vile thing you have done!" Madame's voice boomed with anger, and every student was eager to get away from her glare. Too bad she was still blocking the doorway.

"Do you not understand what is a SpelloDoll? They are not doll toys! They are living, breathing creatures, conjured from another dimension!" Madame Maxime's face, normally quite pale, was white with anger. "Every one of them you bring here, a piece of our reality is forced into their dimension. You have caused war and plague there, for the sake of frivolity! And it does not stop till the pieces are exchanged —"

"Hang on," interrupted Harry, who was used to scoldings from his elders and was less terrified of the giantess than the others who'd been raised in the wizarding world, "this was the fault of someone at Beauxbatons! You saw the announcement earlier today, too!"

She looked chagrinned, "I thought it was a joke, a bad, bad joke! But ... not so! The guilty students of Beauxbatons are being punished and are restricted to their rooms. And I will recommend the same for you!"

The students in the room made many noises of protest, until they were silenced by a booming voice; the Hogwart's students knew the voice of their headmaster well, and complied immediately. The Durmstrang students know better than to speak much, anyway.

"Madame," Dumbledore's voice was stern, "I will ask you to allow the students to go back to their houses; we will discuss this matter in my office. Students, back to your houses, and stay there until further notice!"

Looking irritated, Madame Maxime stepped aside and the students left in an orderly manner, but very, very quickly. Especially the boys who had conjured the SpelloDolls!

* * * * *

In the end, none of the boys were punished further, but the dateless men were still mostly dateless, at least as far as Ron and Harry knew.

"Bloody hell, it's not fair! We complied with the contest terms in good faith! And me and Harry would have won, too! And then she destroyed the dolls, or put them in another dimension, or whatever nonsense she was conjuring!" Ron was still upset days later.

Hermione stopped pretending to study, and huffed out a breath, "Yes, well, if they REALLY wanted to punish those Beauxbatons girls who created that joke of a contest, they should have forced all of them to go on dates with you lot!"

"Hey! That's not nice!" Ron found himself protesting a lot, especially when Hermione was intrinsically right. "And you didn't know about the destruction of a parallel plane, either. You helped us! You're as much at fault as we are!"

"I'm at fault??? How as I to know SpelloDolls are forbidden?" Hermione turned pink, embarrassed at not having known this fact, despite that fact that she couldn't have known.

"You know everything; that's just your nature," Ron shot back. "You're supposed to know everything, we count on you for th—"

"And what did I tell you about treating me as some sort of propriety knowledge database," hollered Hermione, recalling their deal.

"What's a database?" Ron was confused, "We promised not to treat you like a swot-buddy! And we aren't! You're just ... well, you're just YOU!"

"Argh! You're impossible! I don't know why I bother!" Hermione banged her books shut and shoved them in her bag. "I hope you get conjured as hideous, monstrous SpelloDolls in some other universe and end up there without your head or your legs!"

They watched her walk briskly out of the study room. "She's tetchy again," observed Ron, "my brother Charlie reckons they get like that when they get older."

Harry wasn't really listening. Instead he was staring dreamily across the room at Cho Chang, who was sitting with some other Ravenclaw girls. Ron poked him in the ribs, "Hey, what's that you're drawing? That's not half bad, Harry!"

To his own surprise, Harry had been doodling a picture of an eye ... a beautiful eye, to Harry's mind. And whispy locks of flowing black hair, too. And he found himself humming an old song he'd heard long ago on his Aunt Petunia's gramophone:

I'm gonna buy a Paper Doll that I can call my own
A doll that other fellows cannot steal
And then the flirty, flirty guys with their flirty, flirty eyes
Will have to flirt with dollies that are real ...

Harry admired his drawing, which had come spontaneously — almost absent-mindedly — from somewhere deep within himself. He was humming as he stared at it, and wondered, Maybe this is what that song meant by a "paper doll" ...

Unfortunately, Ron recognized the song — his mum and dad often listened to that record, too — and Harry had to put up with Ron singing it out loud to him for the following week! (Though Ron, kindly, didn't tell anyone about or show them Harry's "paper doll," not even to Hermione!)

* * * * *

SpelloDolls created at:
Lyrics to "Paper Doll: recorded by the Mills Brothers, 1942; by Johnny S. Black, 1915
Lyrics to "Livin' Doll" recorded by Cliff Richard, 1959

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