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“Welcome to England!” said a familiar voice, “Could you—oh my.  That’s not Hestia Jones?”

 

“Yes,” said Lilianna uncertainly, “She—she used to work here.”

 

“I know it,” said the voice.  It was Phyllis.  Phyllis Edgecombe.  The only person I said goodbye to before I left.

 

“No time for chat,” rasped another voice, this one unfamiliar.  I was again lifted, again deposited some place else.  People were talking and bustling around me.  Some of it made sense—most of it didn’t.  I still couldn’t move.

 

When my eyes opened for the first time in weeks, I knew immediately that it was a novelty—but couldn’t remember exactly why.  At first I just figured I was surprised to wake up in an unfamiliar place, but soon remembered why it was so unfamiliar, and then nearly jumped for joy.  I could see—I could move—I could (I tried) even make noise!

 

My ecstasy died down a little bit when I realized I was in a single room with no one to share it with.  I wondered where Lilianna and Phyllis could be, and whether I was permitted to get up.  I don’t think I even wanted to get up once I got to thinking what I would say to Lilianna.

 

We got along well—we really did—but I know she got mad at me for everything I failed at—boyfriends, jobs, my relationship with my sister, paying the rent.  And now this, my ultimate failure.

 

Only a Healer walking in prevented me from lying right back down and trying to get a little more sleep.

 

Lilianna shuffled in the next day, hair newly dyed a nauseating pink, staring at me wide-eyed, saying nothing.

 

“Hey, Lil,” I said.

 

She remained by the door, just staring with her little brown eyes.  She was a small and stickish girl and, though fourteen, had hardly any signs of hips or breasts.

 

I tried to smile.  I had known this would be hard, but now I couldn’t even think what to say.

 

“Are you gonna come in?”

 

She walked slowly to the chair at my bedside and sat, still looking at me.

 

“Are you feeling better?” she finally mumbled.

 

“I feel like a whole new person,” I said.

 

“Good,” she said.

 

“But the stupid Healers wont even let me move.”

 

“They’re alright,” she said, finally regaining a fraction of her regular self, “Some of them are real nice.  I hate the one with the beard, though, he’s a total A-hole.  But Phyllis is pretty cool.”

 

“You’re staying with her?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Is she good to you?”

 

“Yeah, she’s the one that did my hair.  I don’t think she’s used to kids, though,” she gave a tiny smile for the first time, “I missed you a lot.  She tried to feed me fish and she said she hates movies.  I had no one to do Muggle Sundays with!”

 

That was one of our traditions, dressing up as Muggles every Sunday and doing something Muggle-like.  We always made sure to catch a movie—our favorite activity.

 

“Well, I’m here now,” I said, figuring now was as good a time as ever to launch into the whole messy situation, “Lili, I did some really stupid things.  But the biggest of all was not thinking about how all this would affect you.”

 

“Well, you couldn’t have known all this was going to happen.”

 

“Well, no.  But a fully-trained Healer knows what too much of a Potion can do to you.  A mom hates to admit that she was irresponsible, but—really, I’m lucky it even turned out this well.”

 

“I think we’ve had enough of luck, Mom.”

 

I laughed (for the first time in how long?), but had to finish what I was getting at, “I just want to say I’m sorry, Lili, that’s all.  You—you deserved better.  And I intend to give you better.  Once they let me out of this hospital bed, anyway.”

 

“It’s okay, Mom, it all works out in the end because there’s this really cute Healer here who’s hopelessly in love with me.”

 

“Oh really,” I pretended to be calmly amused about it, while hoping to God she was kidding.  A Healer had to be at least 21—even a trainee would be at least 18.

 

“Well, I’m working on the in love with me part,” she laughed, “Since I haven’t actually spoken with him or anything.  Yet.”

 

“Yet’s the key!” I said, “Just try not to break his heart too badly.”  

I loved Lilianna all the more for not making this first encounter too hard for me.  She had the sweetest temperament in the world, but she could always outsmart and out-argue me once she got angry, which, if it was something she really cared about, could last for weeks.

 

We chatted for a while longer until she again hit upon a touchy subject.

 

“Just one thing, Mom,” she said, “When that whole thing happened—when you tried to jump out the window, I guess—what—What started that?  We had just finally started to get lucky for real and I thought we had been—we were sort of—happy.”

 

“Well, I’m always happy with you if that’s what you’re wondering.”

 

“I wasn’t.  I was wondering what…happened.”

 

“I lost my job,” I said, trying not to think too hard about what I’d been able to suppress for weeks, “That Hill woman fired me.”

 

“She was a bitch,” said Lilianna kindly.

 

“Well not really.  She fired me for—well, we both know what she fired me for.” 

 

Lilianna nodded and looked at the floor.

 

“Whatever,” she said suddenly, dismissing the subject with one toothy, carefree smile, “Let’s just say you owe me a couple million movie nights!”

 

“That’s fair.”  I smiled.

 

A Healer knocked on the door frame, poking her head in, “Miss Jones, if now isn’t a bad time, I’d like to move you to your double room.”

 

“Double room?”

 

“Yes, you no longer need constant care and single rooms are short, so we’re moving you to a double.  It’s all ready, and there are curtains in between if you happen not to like your roommate.  But is now a good time?”  She looked at Lilianna.

 

“Now’s fine,” I said.

 

“Hey, I’ll come back later, Mom,” Lilianna offered.

 

“Well, bring a deck of cards and a good book when you do,” I said.  We hugged and she left, as the Healer levitated me on my mattress into the hall, making me feel like a true helpless invalid.

 

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