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Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Chapter 3 – Life Changes

I drift in and out of sleep. I dream that I am walking along a brightly lit corridor, lined with laughing portraits, and then I see a tiny mirror on the floor. I pick it up and it grows steadily bigger … I step through the mirror and find myself in a room full of portraits, they’re of Cariad Quinn, but she has dark red hair and bright green eyes … I dream that I am eating lunch with Ingrid and Alison, but suddenly they turn on me and start spitting in my face. I try to tell them that it’s me, it’s Lily! but they don’t listen, and start screaming Mudblood … I dream that I am swimming in a lake of thick, dark green potion, and Professor Slughorn is screaming at me to get out … I’m drowning, my breathing is coming in short gasps and the potion is slipping down my throat, and I am changing, changing …

I wake up in a cold sweat. I lie, staring at the ceiling, my heart pounding. My head feels heavy. I hear a cough from the boy on the bed next to me. He’s a fourth year Hufflepuff and I vaguely recall that he got hit in the head with a bludger.

“You can go whenever you wake up, she says,” the boy states in a bored voice. “The other one’s already gone, about two minutes ago.”

I nod my thanks, and throw my covers off.

It is only when I reach the door of the Hospital Wing that I seem to regain all my senses and I realise something is seriously wrong. I stop, my hand inches from the door handle, and stare at my nails. I never paint my nails. Especially not this disgusting shade of silvery green. What’s going on? I run a hand through my hair, confused. It falls over my shoulders and I almost scream. I seem to have become temporarily paralysed. I know that dirty blonde hair, I know the way it falls in characteristic waves, and I suddenly know who paints their nails silvery green.

Before I can do anything, however, the door I am standing in front of flies open and I see my own face staring at me.

“What,” this new version of me says dangerously, ”What is going on?”

I don’t answer. I don’t seem able. How can this have happened? I try to convince myself I’m still dreaming but my head is throbbing and I know this is reality.

Suddenly, the girl I can only assume is Cariad starts to laugh. The situation is completely humourless, but I feel my mouth start to twitch. She drags me by the arm – gripping a little more tightly than necessary – down the corridor and into the first empty classroom we come across. We are still laughing.

We sit down at a desk, side by side and try to calm down. I wipe my eyes, still wondering why the world has just turned upside down: It seems that, bizarrely, Cariad and I have just swapped appearances, and we are laughing together like old friends.

This last illusion, however, is dashed as we calm down and Cariad narrows my eyes at me again.

“How can this have happened?”

“I can only guess that when my glass phial smashed in the Potions room we both got a mouthful of Polyjuice potion.”

“But we’ve been in the hospital wing for hours. How come it hasn’t worn off?”

I don’t reply. A feeling of dread is slowly spreading through me, as the only possible explanation occurs to me.

“Your potion had something wrong with it.”

It isn’t a question, it’s a statement, and I nod slowly.

“What are we going to do?”

“Well,” says Cariad, suddenly businesslike, “I don’t want to be stuck in this disgusting body forever, so I say we go and see Slughorn.”

I can think of no better solution, and so we make our way down to the potions room, all trace of laughter now gone from our faces.

“Ah, girls, what can I do for you?” Professor Slughorn says amiably, though I sense a trace of disapproval beneath his welcoming façade.

“First of all,” I begin, “we’d like to say, again, how terribly sorry we are about how we acted this morning.”

“Cariad,” he says, looking me straight in the eye and I acknowledge how strange it is to be called by the name of someone I detest. “If this is an attempt to get out of detention, then I am afraid I cannot help you –”

“No,” the real Cariad interrups, “it’s more urgent than that…”

She explains how we both woke in from the hospital wing without knowing anything was wrong, and how we deduced what must have happened when I met her coming back to ask me what was going on. As the story unravels, Slughorn’s expression becomes increasingly worried.

“Ah,” he says, twisting his moustache around his finger in an agitated manner, “Now, er, girls … this is quite a predicament we’re in … quite an awkward situation …”

“Yes,” Cariad agrees impatiently, “can you sort it out, please? I have things to do.”

“All in good time, all in good time …” Slughorn mutters maddeningly. “Now, there’s really only one thing I can do. If I can find any remains of the potion – this should be quite easy, as I did return your potion to a different container –” Here he inclines his head absentmindedly towards the red-haired Cariad, “then I hope within a week I will be able to devise something which will return you to normal.”

“A week?” I say, alarmed. “But we’ve got work – lessons – I’m Head Girl!”

“I’ve never had a situation like this before,” Slughorn says apologetically, “and, skilled though I am, I’m afraid cannot produce an antidote for a unique potion just like that,” he snaps his fingers, and me and Cariad look at each other, horrified.

“There’s no one else who can help us? McGonagall, Flitwick? Dumbledore?” Cariad says, almost desperately.

“Well, ah … the thing is,” the Professor avoids our eyes as the starts to twist his moustache again, “Dumbledore thought it quite inappropriate so early on … yes, but he agreed in the end … as long as nothing went wrong … it would be best if no one else knew about it, do you see?”

“Not really,” I say truthfully.

“Oh, don’t you understand?” Cariad snaps at me, “Dumbledore advised Professor Slughorn not to ask us to make Polyjuice potion just yet, but Professor Slughorn insisted, is that right?”

“Yes,” Slughorn says wretchedly, “and he said as long as nothing went wrong … well, Anne Sparks is alright now, isn’t she? I just think it would be best if we keep this to ourselves.”

“But –”

“Miss Evans, please,” he looks at me imploringly.

“It’s just –”

“Please, Miss Quinn.”

Cariad and I look at each other resignedly. Slughorn beams at us.

“A week, girls, I promise.”

“Professor Kettleburn told me to hurry up with the information on uses of Unicorn horns, he says it’s three weeks overdue.”

“Oh, right, sorry about that. I’ve got it in my bag, actually, I’ll get it for you now.”

It feels strange to be swapping notes with Cariad. It felt even stranger to have gone around all day dressed in her body. Plus, I can’t stand the stares my friends keep giving me: it’s like I’ve suddenly transformed into the Giant Squid. I’m spending most of my spare time in the library, catching up with notes I’ve missed, and passing on the ones I have taken to Cariad.

“Professor Sprout wants you to find out for your next lesson what properties of the plant Asphodel make it a vital ingredient in the Draught of Living Death.”

I scribble this information down, and look up expectantly.

“That’s it. I had the same other lessons as you today.”

“Oh, yeah … well, time to go town to dinner, you reckon?”

I have been dreading this meal all day. I managed to grab some toast this morning before being dragged into a conversation with anyone, and I skipped lunch altogether. My stomach now, however, is rumbling loudly and I know I will have to sit at the Slytherin table with all of Cariad’s friends and pretend nothing is wrong.

“Yes, OK, but for the love of Merlin, PLEASE don’t strike up a conversation with my friends about blood status. It won’t do my reputation any good if you go on talking like mudbloods are the same as everyone else.”

“But they –”

Cariad shoots me a warning look and I fall silent. As we near the Great Hall, we part ways, and I enter alone. I take a deep breath and walk purposefully towards the Slytherin table. I’m not Lily Evans anymore, I’m Cariad Quinn, Slytherin Chaser, pureblood and proud.

Under this façade, I sit down between Stephanie Ellis and William Barnett, the two seventh-year Slytherins Cariad has informed me she is closest with. Stephanie turns to me at once.

“What happened at lunch today? You said you’d be here, we need to discuss what’s happening in the Christmas holidays, remember? Will saw you walking around with that mudblood girl, Evans. Explain!”

Great. Thanks, Cariad.

“Oh, just some stupid thing she wanted to talk about, we’ve got our Potions detention tomorrow and she’s scared of the dark, or something. I didn’t really listen.”

Stephanie looks satisfied, and Barnett nods at me approvingly and helps himself to mashed potato. I begin to eat, thinking maybe this won’t be as bad as I anticipated. I feel a sharp tap on my shoulder, and I turn to see James Potter looking at me murderously.

“Ja-!” I begin, and check myself. My tone turns cold, and I fix him with a withering stare. “Yes, Potter? What do you want?”

“I want to talk to you, Quinn,” he replies, in a manner of equal frostiness. “Alone.”

I roll my eyes at Ellis and Barnett, and follow him a little way away.


He looks angrier than I have ever seen him, and I’m slightly worried.

“You can stay away from Lily Evans.”

“What?” I am startled to hear him mention my name.

“Stay away from Lily Evans,” James repeates.

“She’s a mudblood,” I say defiantly, trying to be as Cariad-like as possible.

His eyes flash, and he takes one step towards me. “I will do whatever it takes to make sure you never lay a hand on her again. Do you hear me?”

I am completely taken aback by this whole conversation, but slightly touched at what he’s saying about me.

I stare at him defiantly, and he gives me a contemptuous nod. I watch him as he walks away without looking back, hoping that in the week it takes to return to normal, Cariad won’t do any damage to a relationship I’m beginning to feel may actually be just what I want.

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