CHAPTER 6: Stupid Baby Girl

In which Holly loses her temper, and Dudley gets in touch with his feminine side.

Holly’s visit to Number Seven did not happen as soon as she’d hoped.

Originally, she’d planned to go straight over there the very same afternoon… but the Dursleys had other plans. Though she’d managed to sneak out of the cupboard and replace the padlock before Aunt Petunia had come home, or Uncle Vernon found out where she was, her aunt and uncle had kept her busy with moving out into the garden shed, packing her meagre belongings and carrying them out to her “new home.”

There hadn’t really been all that much to pack. Her school uniform, of course, and her other clothes. Her school bag and school supplies (second-hand, of course). A few books and blankets. Her secret food stash, hidden inside a rolled-up blanket so that no Dursleys would find it. She wasn’t too surprised to learn that she wouldn’t be allowed to take her desk or bed, because “they belonged to the house!” and that all the furniture she’d get out in the shed was an old, rather lumpy mattress and a small chest to keep her clothes in.

By the time she’d moved everything and tried to make everything as homey as possible, it was time for dinner. Fish fingers and chips today; not the most elaborate of meals, but not bad. As usual Dudley got half the fish fingers and most of the chips.

“I hope you appreciate the trouble your uncle went through for you, girl,” said Aunt Petunia as they ate. “Taking valuable time off work to give you a place of your own. I don’t suppose you’ve even thanked him properly, have you?”

Holly swallowed her chip and then gave Uncle Vernon her sweetest smile. “Thank you for the lovely shed, Uncle Vernon,” she said. “I’ll be very happy there!”

Uncle Vernon’s fork stopped halfway to his mouth as his brain apparently tried to process Holly’s words. Finally, he seemed to draw the conclusion that she was making fun of him, because he slammed the fork down on his plate and gave her a nasty look. “Don’t you cheek me, you ungrateful brat!” he snapped.

“No, Uncle Vernon,” said Holly, the very picture of goodwill and obedience.

“And I hope you’ve noticed that new code lock on the cupboard under the stairs,” Uncle Vernon continued. “Only I know the combination to that lock, so don’t even try to fiddle with it!”

“No, Uncle Vernon,” Holly repeated. In truth, the cupboard under the stairs — the same cupboard that had called out to her all her life — no longer interested her in the slightest. She’d discovered its secret, she’d got the wand that was her birthright, and now the cupboard didn’t have anything to do with her anymore.

She carefully moved her hand down to stroke it over her skirt, to feel the vague contours of the wand in her pocket.

You wouldn’t have thought that a wand that was longer than Holly’s forearm would fit in a shallow skirt pocket, but it was as if the wand shrank, or maybe it was her pocket that expanded into some strange unknown dimension, because it had slid right in with no problem and it was impossible to tell from the outside where it was. Certainly none of the Dursleys had noticed.

Not even Uncle Vernon, when installing the new code lock, had noticed that the wand was no longer in the cupboard. Holly was rather proud of herself for the simple trick she’d performed to fool him: Before she had sneaked out of the cupboard, she’d removed the lower bar from one of the coat-hangers and placed it on the floor where the wand had been, covering it with dust as well as she could. Now it almost looked like the wand was still there… at least if you didn’t look to closely at it to see that the new “wand” was notably shorter and shaped differently. But Uncle Vernon apparently wasn’t in the habit of looking closely at the wands he locked up in cupboards, so the trick had worked.

Dudley polished off the last fish finger and shoved his plate away. “Can I leave the table?” he asked. “I want to go up to my new room,” (he gave Holly a very gleeful look as he said this) “and decide where I want the television.”

“Of course you may, poppet,” Aunt Petunia cooed at him.

Uncle Vernon clapped him jovially on the shoulder. “Just let me know if you need any help, Dudley,” he said. “A boy your age should have a place to call his own.” Then he looked at Holly. “And you can do the dishes. And afterwards you can go to your room — I mean, your shed. You know, to settle in properly.”

“Yes, Uncle Vernon,” said Holly, still keeping her tone sweet.

Uncle Vernon glared suspiciously at her, but didn’t say anything more.

And so it was that Holly found herself in the shed after dinner, with no real way of sneaking off to see Mr Dumbledore.

Not that she was locked in the shed or anything — there wasn’t even a lock on the door — but the garden was fenced in with hedges it was impossible to climb (she’d tried a number of times!) and the only way out was through the house, where Uncle Vernon was having his after-dinner nap and Aunt Petunia was watching one of her inane television programs. It’d be impossible to get past them.

She walked over to the lumpy mattress that had been placed by the far wall, underneath the dirty window, and sat down on it, trying to get herself comfortable as she looked around at what was to be her new home.

It wasn’t exactly a palace. Not even half the size of her old bedroom, but a lot emptier, and (despite the lack of Dudley’s broken toys) a lot dirtier. Uncle Vernon had cleared out the shed, but not bothered to clean it, so there were still cobwebs on the ceiling and dirt in the corners. Over the creaking door, a bare lightbulb promised illumination if she flicked on the light switch, in the opposite corner, an electric heater promised heat if she plugged it into the socket, and that was that.

However… she had a secret weapon. Shifting, she pulled the wand out of her skirt pocket.

Once again, she let her fingers slide over the smooth, polished wood. The wand felt nice to touch. (Holly wondered if Lily could feel this; maybe it felt like having her hair stroked.) “What do you think, Mum?” she said. And grimaced a little. The word ‘Mum’ felt weird and unfamiliar in her mouth, especially when she tried to connect it to the little girl she’d talked to in her dreams. “Lily,” she corrected herself. “I’m going to call you Lily. Is that okay?”

The wand didn’t answer, but Holly had a vague feeling that Lily didn’t mind.

What was it she’d said? You can learn how to fly, how to how to conjure things out of thin air, how to turn invisible, how to disappear from one place and reappear in another. If all those things were possible with a wand, then Holly shouldn’t have any problems sprucing this place up a little… or maybe even get past the Dursleys to go see Mr Dumbledore.

Of course, she didn’t actually know how to use the wand. (She had some vague notion that you were supposed to wave it about and say some sort of magic word… probably she’d learn all the magic words at this Hogwarts place.) Still, there was no harm in trying, was there?

“Hokery pokery!” she commanded, waving the wand about, and completely failed to turn invisible.

“Squiggly wiggly?” she added, thrusting the wand out in the air, and did not rise up in the air.

“Flibbertigibbet?” she tried, tapping her forehead with the wand, and remained exactly where she was without suddenly appearing at Number Seven.

This wasn’t working.

Holly looked at the wand again, thinking back at all the things Lily had said.

Most of the details were still sharp and fresh in her mind, which was rather unusual for dreams. As a rule, Holly only vaguely remembered her dreams; they were clear and vivid while she had them, but the moment she woke up they started to seem vague and indistinct. Lily was different, though; the mental image of the girl was like etched into Holly’s memory. She could have described that red hair and those green eyes in detail, for her inner ear she could still hear that merry laughter… and if anyone had ever asked, Holly was certain she could flawlessly have recited almost their entire conversation.

Holly was a witch. She had magical powers, and now she also had a magic wand. That much was beyond any reasonable doubt. Even if she didn’t yet know how to control her magical powers, they were still there, somewhere deep inside her. Hadn’t she, the last couple of days alone, made a lawnmower move on its own, opened padlocks without a key, and made Uncle Vernon ignore her in the cupboard just by willing it?

Now that she thought about it, she could recall other incidents that might have been magic… strange little things. Wasn’t there something, last year, when Dudley had broken her glasses… and then when she’d looked closer the glasses were fine? At the time she’d just thought that she’d been wrong and that the glasses had never been broken at all, but maybe it was her magic that had repaired them?

She had to talk to Mr Dumbledore. If he really was a wizard, he’d know all about it. He could probably tell her what to do. At least until she was old enough for Hogwarts.

Then another thought struck her. Lily had said that she would try to help Holly out, hadn’t she? No doubt Lily had known all kinds of magic when she was alive, and being a spirit haunting a magic wand probably meant she knew even more. And Lily was here… all right, Holly couldn’t see her or talk to her, but she was holding the wand.

I can only talk to you in dreams, Lily had said. Holly closed her eyes and tried to feel whether she was sleepy enough to take a nap — but she wasn’t.

She took a deep breath and forced herself to relax. She held the wand out, peered at it through her glasses and tried to recall Lily in detail. Tried to imagine that she was talking directly to the girl and not to a wand. “Please,” she whispered. “You said you would help me. Can’t you at least give me a proper bed to sleep on, so I won’t have to sleep on a lumpy mattress on the… on the… oh…”

Her voice trailed off as a strange sense of calm began spreading through her body, and her hands began moving of their own accord. It was as if she had suddenly turned into a puppet, controlled by the will of someone else. It was a thought that should have scared her, but all she could feel was a sense of comfort, combined with the growing warmth deep in her chest that she was starting to think of the feel of magic.

Still on its own account, her right hand brandished the wand and tapped it against the mattress she was sitting on. Then, she felt herself shift and be raised up into the air as the mattress grew… and grew. The lumps vanished, and the mattress turned softer and springier, as a wooden bedframe formed around it. Pillows of scarlet and gold popped up and formed on one end of the growing bed, while one of the worn blankets grew to become a thick, warm quilt.

The feeling of magic faded, and her hands flopped as the controlling force let up on it.

She was sitting on the largest, softest, most comfortable bed she had ever seen. Even Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon’s super-king-size bed was small in comparison. It was a bed that was really much too large for the small shed… but somehow, just like with the wand and her pocket, it fit perfectly while still leaving plenty of floor space.

For a few moments, Holly could do nothing but stare in astonishment. Then, she burst into laughter and planted a big kiss on the wand. She rolled around, jumped and bounced on the wonderful new bed, giggling uncontrollably.

Magic! It was amazing!

After having bounced around on the bed for a while, she flopped down onto her stomach and lay still, just enjoying the feeling of the suddenly-very-comfortable mattress. She’d sleep like a baby in this bed, she knew it. Maybe she should try to…?

Just as she was about to take off her glasses and snuggle up for a nap, there was a pounding on the door. Holly sat up with a start.

“This is the police!” came a depressingly familiar voice from the outside. “You’re under arrest!”

Holly groaned and sat up. Stupid Dudley! Wasn’t it enough that he’d just got a new game room? Did he have to come out here to bother her when she wanted to be left alone? Of course he did. Teasing and tormenting her was his favourite hobby, and it wasn’t like Uncle Vernon or Aunt Petunia would make him stop.

“It’s illegal to live in sheds!” Dudley’s voice continued from the other side of the door. “You’ll get fifty years in jail for this!”

“Go away, Dudley!” Holly called.

“I’m not Dudley!” said Dudley, trying to make his voice sound as deep as possible. “I’m Chief Constable Carter and I’m here to arrest you!”

Usually, Holly tried to just ignore it when he harassed her in this childish way. Dudley had never been patient, and tended to get bored if he didn’t get the reaction he wanted, so it was usually best to just retreat to a secluded place and wait him out. But now, her blood was starting to boil. Wasn’t she a witch? Didn’t she have a wand, and couldn’t she do magic? Who did this… this Muggle think he was, trying to pick on her?!

Clutching the wand in her hand, she marched over to the door and tore it open, staring straight into the smirking face of her cousin. “Watch it, Chief Constable!” she snapped. “I just happen to be a witch! And unless you go away, I’ll turn you into a frog or something!”

“A witch!” Dudley laughed. “Yeah, you’re ugly enough to be one! Hey, what’s that you’re holding?” he added, looking at the wand in her hand and reaching out a hand.

“Keep your filthy hands off that!” Holly pulled away, clutching the wand protectively to her chest.

“Give it here!” Dudley made a grab for the wand. He couldn’t possibly know what it was, but as so often before; if Holly wanted something, that made him all the more determined to grab it for himself.

“No!” Holly pulled back again as he lunged for her.

“Give it!”


“Give — what’s that giant bed doing there?!” Dudley stopped mid-lunge as his eyes caught sight of Holly’s wonderful new bed. His eyes widened, and he turned to look more closely at it. First with astonishment, then with envy. His own bed wasn’t half as big. “Where’d you get that?”

Holly was breathing heavily. “I told you, I’m a witch,” she said. “I magicked it here. Now get out, or I’ll magic you too!”

“There’s no such thing as magic,” Dudley scoffed, parroting what Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had said. An evil smile spread on his wide face. “I bet you stole it,” he said.

“What?!” Holly’s anger vanished, replaced with a sense of dread. This was going in a direction she hadn’t predicted. “I didn’t steal anything! I’m a witch, not a thief! Besides,” she added hurriedly as she thought of something else, “where’d I steal a bed from? And how’d I get it home without anyone seeing me?”

“I don’t know, but you didn’t get it from us,” said Dudley. “And we don’t know anyone else who would ever give you a present! So you stole it!” He guffawed. “Wait’ll I tell Mum and Dad about this! You’re going to go to prison for real!”

“No!” Holly wasn’t stupid enough to believe the part about going to prison, but she could well imagine the trouble she would be in if her aunt and uncle found out she’d taken the wand, or that she had tricked them about it. As Dudley made for the door, she darted over to the door to block his exit.

“Get out of my way!” he commanded.

“Only if you promise not to tell Aunt Petunia or Uncle Vernon!” Holly tried to make herself as big as possible. Dudley was bigger, heavier and stronger than her, and could probably push her aside with relative ease, but she was determined to do what she could to stop him.

Dudley looked at her. She could tell that he was torn between wanting to torment her a little more, and getting her into trouble with Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon. Finally, as so often was the case with him, greed won the battle: “What’ll you give me if I don’t?”

“I… don’t have anything,” said Holly. “Unless you want the bed, but I don’t think you could get it out of the shed…”

“I don’t want the bed.” Dudley held out his hand. “Give me that stick.”

“No!” She clutched the wand and shook her head vehemently. 

“Then I’m going to tell Mum and Dad.” He grabbed her by the shoulders to push her aside.

“Wait!” she cried. “I’ll do your homework for a year!”

That got his attention. Dudley hated doing homework, and though his parents never minded that he did poorly in school, teachers did have this tendency to get a little tetchy if the students didn’t do their homework. “Even maths?”

“Even maths,” she agreed, even though she hated maths almost as much as he did.

Dudley paused. He didn’t let go of her, but he looked at her with a slight frown as if trying to figure out whether she was lying or not. “Say you’re a stupid baby girl first.”


“Say you’re a stupid baby girl. Or the deal’s off.”

Holly swallowed. “I-I’m a stupid baby girl?”

“Louder!” Dudley demanded, revelling in his position of power over her.

“I’m a stupid baby girl!”



Laughing, Dudley finally let go of her shoulders. “That’s right, you are!” And with that, he shoved her so hard that she nearly lost her balance. “Only a stupid baby girl would believe that I’d make a deal with her! Mum and Dad are going to kill you!”

That was when something snapped inside Holly. For the second time in as many days, she felt as if something exploded in her chest, sending streams of fire out through her veins. The fire she’d felt when making the lawnmower move was nothing compared to the torrent of white-hot burning that now streamed through her body. She had never hated anyone more than she hated her cousin right now.

The door to the shed slammed shut. With a surprised yelp, Dudley was flung up into the air and was sent hurling through the shed until he landed on the bed, bouncing up and down on the springy mattress.

“Are you… are you out of your mind!” Dudley tried to sit up. He didn’t appear to be hurt, but his voice was strangely breathless, and he was struggling to speak. “I could have broken… could have broken my neck, you stupid…! Aaaah!” He suddenly shrieked, his boyish voice suddenly becoming higher and more feminine, as his short blonde hair decided to grow longer, and his body and face began changing.

Panicking, Dudley tried to raise himself, but now he was starting to shrink. “What’s happening!” he shrieked, his voice now unmistakably that of a girl, as his clothes became looser and hung off his rapidly diminishing body.

No… her rapidly diminishing body. As the clothes fell off and bared Dudley’s shrinking form, it became clear that Dudley wasn’t only shrinking, but turning into a girl as well.

Dudley raged, clutching tiny fists. “Make it stop!” Her voice turned more and more high-pitched and babyish. “I’m telling Mum and Dad! I’m tellin’… I’m tewwin’… I’m… teww… no, pwease, I… pweathe… gaaa bpphh-tthhhh… gooo daaa.” And then, Dudley was gone. In his place, surrounded by his clothes, sat a naked baby girl.

“Hah!” Holly crowed triumphantly. “Who’s the stupid baby girl now, Dudley?! I’m a witch and you’re just a stupid Muggle! You’re a stupid Muggle baby girl!”

But then, reality came crashing down on her. What had she done?! Now Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon really would kill her!

“Dudley!” She threw herself down on the bed next to the baby girl. “Dudley, I’m sorry! I swear I didn’t mean to do that! You just made me so angry, and… Dudley?”

The baby girl looked at her with big, blue eyes, and then started sucking her thumb. The transformation, Holly realized, was complete and total; there was nothing left of Dudley as she knew him in this little baby; those eyes held no anger or recognition, no sign of any mental activity beyond that of a normal one-year-old girl. She hadn’t just made Dudley look like a baby girl, she’d made him… her… think and feel like one too. A baby girl who couldn’t even walk, or talk, or understand what was going on, much less be able to remember that she was supposed to be an eight-year-old boy.

Holly raised herself and looked out the window, half-expecting to see Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon come running… but the garden was quiet and empty. It seemed like the noise from the shed hadn’t reached the house. Holly breathed a very small sigh of relief… but only a very small one, because she was certainly still in trouble. She flopped back down onto the bed and held her wand up in front of her face.

“Lily!” she pleaded. “You’ve got to help me! Dudley’s a baby girl, and I don’t know how I did it, and I don’t know how to undo it!”

A sudden whooshing and crackling noise from above made her lift her head in surprise. And stare in shock as a large bird appeared in a burst of flames, flapped its wings and landed elegantly on the bed next to Holly.

This bird was like no other bird she’d seen. It was slightly smaller than a swan, its plumage was a brilliant scarlet, and it had a long tail that looked almost like a peacock’s, except it was golden in colour. In it golden beak, it was holding a folded-up piece of paper, which it dropped down onto the bed in front of Holly, before looking at her, cocking its head this way and that.

“Er… hello?” said Holly uncertainly.

The bird chirped. It sounded like a strange mix of a flute and a baby eagle. Then it motioned with its head to the piece of paper, which Holly could now see had her name written on it in purple ink. HOLLY POTTER.

“Is that… a letter?” said Holly. “For me?”

The bird nodded, in an almost human way.

The baby girl that had been Dudley had looked at the bird in awe for a while. Now, she eagerly reached for it with her small hands, laughing in delight as the bird ruffled its feathers at her.

Accepting (at least for now) that the bird wasn’t going to try pecking their eyes out or anything like that, Holly gingerly picked up the piece of paper and unfolded it. The handwriting was elegant and flourishing; perhaps a little hard to read, but she managed to decipher it:

Forgive me for contacting you in this manner, but it seems like you are in dire need of assistance. The bird’s name is Fawkes; he is an old friend of mine and will help you bring your unfortunate cousin to my home. Just make sure you hold your cousin in your arms, and then grab hold of his tail-feathers, and he will take care of the rest.

I will explain everything when I see you in person. Don’t worry, we’ll sort this out.

Albus Dumbledore.

Holly looked at the bird, which was now having its feathers clumsily stroked by a very enthusiastic baby girl.

“Fawkes?” she said.

The bird chirped again.

“Right,” said Holly.

How in the world had Mr Dumbledore known what was going on here? Maybe the spirit of Lily had contacted him somehow… or maybe, if he really was a wizard, he just knew things. For a few moments, she wondered whether it really was such a good idea to grab hold of strange birds on the say-so of letters with handwriting she didn’t know… but then again, the alternative was to stay here and face the wrath of Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon when they found out what had happened to their son.

“Come on, Dudley.” She scooped the baby girl up in her arms. “We’re off to see the wizard.”

Tentatively, she grabbed hold of Fawkes’s long golden tail.

And the world vanished around them in a torrent of flames.

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