But before I can even finish my sentence, the girl in front of me (or I guess, Sirius apparently) kicks me hard in the side and throws me a look. “Be quiet, you git!” he hisses under his breath.
“Ow!” I slap my hand over my leg and blurt out reflexively, “Geez, Sirius! What was that fo—”
“Alrighty then! Off to the Hospital Wing it is!” he remarks loudly, cutting me off again before hissing, “I’m Cecilia, remember, Sirius Black?” He grabs my arm and yanks me to my feet, surprisingly strong for someone in my dinky little body.
Wait, he just called me Sirius Black… right…?
I just scrunch my face up in confusion, still trying to process exactly what happened as my girl body drags me towards the classroom door.
“Oh, very well then,” calls Professor Flitwick from behind us. “Are you certain you don’t need anyone to escort you two, Miss Vance?”
“Er, no—” My voice cracks in a very awkward, very non-manly way. “I-I mean, I think we’re fi—”
“He’s talking to me, dummy,” Sirius interrupts before responding, “Nope, we got this, Professor. No worries!” He pauses. “Well, actually…” Sirius shoves me out into the hallway before running back through the doors.
I stumble out a few steps before stopping and then just stand there, my face slack in a daze. Why is this happening to me. Literally, like, why. WHY.
I hear the door open again behind me and then suddenly a body staggers into me, followed by a string of unsuppressed giggles. I turn to find James standing there, his hands over his stomach and doubled over in laughter.
My brows furrow. “Why’d you—”
“Just had to run back in to grab this git over here,” Sirius sighs before shutting the door behind him and folding his arms. “Right, well, spit it out, Prongs. Now what did you do?”
James opens his mouth to reply, but instead of any coherent words at all, another roar of laughter just spills out instead. He leans against the far wall, now positively crying with hysterics.
“Oh my god, you have got to be bloody kidding me.” Sirius lets his head fall back as he rolls his eyes in exasperation. “Get over yourself, mate!”
Seeing the image of Sirius’ usual facial expressions on my face and hearing the sound of his unique inflections in my voice is quite possibly one the most bizarre experiences I’ve ever had in my life.
Pushing the thought away hastily, I clear my throat and then ask, “Er, while we wait for James to stop dying, why don’t we actually go to Madam Pomfrey or Professor Flitwick and ask if they know what to do about this?”
Sirius lets his head fall forward again before raising an eyebrow at me. “Are you mental? We can’t just go bursting back into the classroom and telling Flitwick we spontaneously switched bodies! Plus, for all we know, this jinx might be completely illegal, which is entirely possible considering that, c’mon, this is us we’re talking about.”
There was a somewhat smug look on his face as he said this. Though since their habit of legally-questionable activities is what got us into this mess, I don’t know why he’s so proud…
“You seriously want Flitwick to know about something like this?” Sirius continues. “I mean, clearly we were paying attention in class, yeah?”
“Hold on…” I say slowly. “Did you say illegal? As in, possibly… unstable? Or possibly…” My voice cracks again and Sirius throws me a look for even making such a sound in his body. “What I’m saying is that it’s possible that we could be stuck in this mess for more than one day?”
Sirius heaves another huge sigh and turns to James. “And to answer that, we need this guffawing idiot.”
“Well,” James starts, wiping a tear from the corner of his eye, “long story short, the spell is illegal in a sense—wait, don’t freak out yet!” he adds quickly when he sees the look on my face. “Sorry, strong word. I mean, more restricted than illegal.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I ask tentatively.
“The other day, Remus and I were poking around the restricted section for strange hexes to cast on Snivellus, like, I dunno, make his hair greasy—well, greasier than it already is, at least.”
James and Sirius exchange smirks, something that, as Sirius, I almost felt obligated to join in. I just roll my eyes instead.
“But anyway,” James continues, “I was flipping through a book we ‘borrowed’,” he makes finger quotes, “during Charms and found this wicked spell I wanted to try out and thought it’d be funny to try it on you and Cecilia.” He grins sheepishly at the glare I shoot him. “Well, I didn’t think it’d actually work!”
“What’s the spell, James?” says Sirius with a resigned sigh.
“I mean, since, you know, the spell is kind of really old and stuff—”
“What’s the spell, James?”
“Animal mind transfer,” he finally spits out gleefully.
Sirius suddenly groans and turns to bang his, well, my forehead on the wall behind him. My reaction is more quizzical than anything else. “What’s that? Not what I’m thinking of, I hope…” I add apprehensively.
“Excellent question!” James exclaims. “It’s actually—”
“It’s supposed to be a human-to-animal mind transfer,” Sirius cuts in, finally turning away from the wall. “This spell is buggin’ ancient.”
“Wait, how do you know that?”
“Read it somewhere. Used to have a ton of time on my hands as an insomniac, but anyway!” Sirius waves the question off absently before continuing, “The reason why James did it for the bloody hell of it is because spells like this shouldn’t even be able to work person-to-person!”
I raise my eyebrows. “So, why’d it work on us then?”
Sirius shrugs. “Hell if I know. The spell is centuries old. Who knows what kind of faulty rubbish can happen from casting it in the first place.”
“Centuries?” I say incredulously. “Where’d this kind of spell even come from?”
At this, James steps in front of Sirius, blocking his now smaller body easily. “Ah, yes, I was hoping you’d ask that!” he remarks, holding up an instructive finger. “See, the spell was first invented during the First Giant War some time in the 18th century. Made for fast and dirty recon missions. Entirely unregulated. Just stick your mind into some cute little rabbit’s, scope out the enemy camp, and come out unscathed! Super simple!”
“And this information is significant because…?” I gesture for him to continue.
“Well, when I say unregulated, I kind of mean it,” explains James, scratching the back of his head. “The spell was created out of necessity during the war more than anything else. No one cared about the spell regulations we have now. Plus, the effects on humans and animals is pretty harmless. The rabbit and human bodies would reject each other’s minds in a few hours and everything would return to normal. No big.”
“Okay, so what does that mean for us?” I ask, trying to stay at least somewhat serious while now imagining a human body hopping around and searching for carrots while his mind is off doing proper recon. “Are Sirius and I just going to return to normal in a few hours?”
“Well, the problem is—”
“That we’re both human!” Sirius interrupts, apparently unable to hold back any longer. “Blimey, that was a good impression of Professor Binns, Prongs. Could you be anymore boring?”
James grins unapologetically. “I thought you didn’t mind Binns’ lectures, cute little Cecilia.” He reaches out to pinch his girl cheeks, but Sirius slaps his hand away.
“The point is,” Sirius says loudly, ignoring James as he bursts into yet another fit of giggles, “human minds are supposed to be in human bodies, so there’s no natural conflict between the mind and body that would cause a reversal. For all we know, we could be stuck like this indefinitely.”
“W-well, there has to be something in that book about some counter-spell, right?” I stammer out quickly, starting to shoot blanks here. “Or even just some warnings about human-to-human mind transfer?”
James shrugs. “Padfoot?”
“Me neither,” Sirius answers glumly.
The both of us slump our shoulders and heave heavy sighs.
James, on the other hand, rests both of his hands behind his head and grins. “Aw, c’mon, you two!” he says leisurely. “Just enjoy it while it lasts! At least it’s funny, right? Think of it as a happy accident!”
“This is your fault, James!” Sirius and I both yell simultaneously.
James sticks out his tongue and grins. “Alright, alright, I shouldn’t have tested the spell on you two. I’m sorry, okay? But think of it this way. You’re still two completely different minds. Your bodies are going to reject each other at some point.”
Sirius rubs his temples between his thumb and forefinger. “Yeah, the real question is for how long.”
“Maybe just a few hours?” I say hopefully.
“I wish,” he replies with another sigh. “For all we know, our minds may be especially compatible and we could stay like this for days.”
His words make me flush despite myself. A test of compatibility? Don’t like the sound of that… This almost seems like some higher power is using some strange, twisted way to give me a evidence for why Sirius and I should be together. The longer we stay like this, the more we’re meant to be together? How’s anyone supposed to wish for that!
Sirius takes one look at my face and then snaps his fingers in front of my eyes. “Oi, don’t blush like that with my face!”
“How am I supposed to control what color my face is going to be?” I retaliate, blushing even harder, much to his dismay.
“Well, do it anyway! Seeing myself blush is like the least cute thing I’ve ever seen in my life!”
“Alright, alright, you two, cool it.” James steps in between us, still with an all too gleeful look on his face. “You lot can have your little row later. Don’t you have to figure out what to do about this first? Priorities, mates!”
“What do you mean?” I ask, frowning. “I thought we were just going to wait it out.”
“No, he means our plan for keeping this on the down-low,” Sirius clarifies. He takes a few steps down the hallway and then turns around and runs a hand through his hair, realizing belatedly that it’s way longer than he’s used to. “Well, anyway, regardless of whether we’re just waiting for us to spontaneously return to normal or waiting until we can figure out a counter-spell, we’re going to have to pretend to act normal.” He looks at me pointedly.
I raise an eyebrow. “What?”
“Well, the key to this is for us to act exactly like each other and so far you’re doing a rubbish job at it.”
“Hey!” I say indignantly. “That’s only because it’s just us right now. I’ll actually try in public! How hard can it possibly be acting like a womanizing playboy with a giant ego anyway? Let’s see you try imitating me for a day without getting caught!”
A loud bell starts ringing through the school, signaling the end of the class period.
“Can’t be that hard,” Sirius replies with a sly grin before continuing quickly, “So, apart from James and Remus knowing about this, we will tell no one, you hear me? No one.” This time, he looks at James. “I know that you know that Lily and Sonata can’t keep secrets even if their lives depended on it. Promise to keep your mouth shut, Prongs?”
“Ye-up, roger that!” James straightens up in a mock salute just as the door to the Charms classroom bursts open.
“Hey, you three still hanging around here?”
“Nice job skiving off.”
“Aren’t you lot supposed to be in the Hospital Wing?”
The class full of N.E.W.T. students flood out into the hallway, some of them giving us suspicious looks and others occupied with rushing to the next class. I just grin awkwardly at them in reply. Wait a minute… is that even something that Sirius would do? I put a look of prideful disdain on my face instead. Waaaaait, that’s not right either…
“Ooh, you three are still here!” a familiar voice calls out from the back of the crowd. “You all left your bags in the classroom!”
I look over to see Sonata prance over to me and immediately try to suppress my instinctive feeling of panic.
“Yikes, why do you look so scary, Sirius?” she says when she sees my face. “Does your head still hurt?”
“O-oh, no, I’m fine,” I reply hastily before relaxing the frown on my face.
I glance at Sirius just in time to see him roll his eyes and then mouth, “Act normal!”
“Er, I mean, hey, thanks for bringing my bag, Sonata!” I reach down to grab my bag from her hand, but she pulls away and pushes the bag in Remus’ hand towards me instead.
“This is Cecilia’s bag, Sirius!” Sonata frowns and folds her arms. “Are you sure you’re alright? Maybe you do need to go to the Hospital Wing.”
I grab his bag quickly and hoist it over my shoulder. “N-no, thanks. That was really considerate of you.” I hesitate and then lean down to give her an awkward hug. “Don’t worry, I’m fine.”
“Aww, Sirius, you’re so sweet!” She squeals and flings her arms around my neck.
My eyes dart over to Sirius again just in time to see him slap a hand across his eyes and groan. The sight makes me cringe to myself. Okay, maybe he was right. I seriously suck at acting.
While Sonata squeezes me in a deathly tight embrace, I look over Sonata’s head to see Remus sporting a deeply amused expression on his face. “Awfully polite today, aren’t you, Sirius?” he comments casually.
I scowl at him, but he just chuckles and reaches over to ruffle my hair.
The action actually makes me blush despite myself. Partly because it’s been so long since anyone’s ruffled my hair ever and partly because the thought of a guy doing it to another guy is just so embarrassing.
“Don’t do that!” I hiss when I see Lily glance over at us, bewildered. “I’m a bloke, remember?”
He just laughs and does it again, damn him.
But before I can reach up to slap his hand away, a slender arm shoots out of nowhere and grips Remus’ wrist. I see me, er, I mean, Sirius give Remus a pointed look and nod over to the side. “Hey.” His eyes flicker to me. “Moony, can I ask you about Charms homework?”
There’s a short pause before Remus shrugs. “Yeah, sure, mate.”
The sound of my body’s voice makes Sonata finally let go and look over at Sirius. “Oh, hi, sis!” she says with a cheery wave.
“Hey,” Sirius replies succintly before engaging in casual conversation with Remus at the other side of the hallway, well away from the rest of us.
Sonata watches the two of them curiously for a long moment before leaning closer. “Hey, Sirius,” she asks in a hushed voice, “Remus and Cecilia are pretty close right?”
It takes me a moment to realize she’s talking to me. “O-oh, yeah,” I reply, not knowing what else to say.
“Are they dating?” she asks abruptly.
I cough. “What, no!” I sputter out, caught off guard. “Of course, we’re not dating. No, not we—I mean, Cecilia and Remus are close, best friends even, but they’re definitely not dating.”
I look down at Sonata to see her tap her chin thoughtfully as she watches Sirius and Remus talking. “Hm, I wouldn’t have guessed,” she muses. “From the way he looks at her, I’d think he has some unrequited feelings for her. Or maybe not so unrequited! Have you asked her before?”
“N-no, I never noticed,” I answer distractedly, unable to take my eyes off of them now.
But as if Sirius could sense me watching him, he turns to glance at me. I see him raise an eyebrow and I immediately look away. If Sonata can discern Remus’ feelings just from him talking to my body, I wonder if Sirius has noticed. He must’ve.
I think back to when Sirius grabbed Remus’ hand as Remus was ruffling my hair.
Maybe… it actually does bother him?