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Our consultation is with a woman who calls herself ‘Mrs. Potter.’ She has auburn hair streaked with a generous amount of silver, and friendly chocolate-brown eyes.
“So, in this appointment we will be discussing the treatment for your…illness. Is there anything you care to add to your medical chart? Have you had any attacks recently? You look pale.”
“Oh, that’s not from the attack. I was just…experimenting with my magic before we came. Watch; it’s pretty frickin sweet!” I take out my wand, and with a flick begin moving a quill around the room. Then, I outstretch my left hand, while still focusing my eyes on my right hand, and raise Mrs. Potter’s inkwell up as well. It’s easier than it was the first time; I don’t feel nearly as drained as I had before. After placing both of the objects back on the desk, I collapse into a chair, smiling contentedly.
“You can—that is quite remarkable, Miss DeVough! Bravo! You will do well at Hogwarts. You know, I have a son your age who also goes there; his name is James. He’s actually coming in later today to help me with some paperwork. He would quite like you, I think.” She smiles kindly at me.
“Yeah, well.” I’m not sure I really want to make new friends here. For the sake of Jackson and our friendship. I don’t want to forget him.
“Max had an attack shortly before we came here to England. She was hit in the chest by a soccer ball, thanks to that unbelievable oaf J—“
“I’m fine though.” I say firmly.
“No, you’re not!” Ben argues. “Mrs. Potter, you read over her history, right? Any more attacks could seriously damage her lungs. Possibly permanently. And the medicine she usually takes hasn’t been working.”
“Well, there are several operations that can be done to try and calm her fits; I am afraid, though, that she may never be completely cured. Especially if this is hereditary, which at this point seems very likely. The first option is to cut a small piece out of her ribs, just above her heart, to give her lungs more room to expand. This operation would only serve to lessen the pain of attacks, though, not eradicate it. The second option is to cut a small opening in her left lung, and insert a tube there, which would then run up through her throat and out of her nasal passages, making it easier for her to breathe.”
“Hell no!” I say, clutching my nose protectively. “Is there any operation that doesn’t involve slicing me up?”
“Yes, as a matter-of-fact. The third, and probably easiest solution, is actually based on a muggle remedy. Have you ever heard of Asthma?”
“Duhhh. Do you really think my parents wouldn’t have thought of that? I don’t have Asthma, I promise you.”
“I’m not saying you do; but there is something, called an inhaler, that could help with your attacks. It couldn’t prevent them; just make the attacks less severe, and painful. Would you be interested in that? It is also the cheapest option. Of course, this would only be a temporary solution to your problem; eventually, you will have to have some sort of operation.”
“Fine. Let’s see it, then.” I say expectantly. Mrs. Potter holds out a small, tube-shaped thing, apparently hollow. I frown, and take it, examining it closely. “How exactly do I use it?”
“Here, let me show you.” She takes the thing back, and clears her throat. “Well, Maxine—“
“Max,” I correct immediately.
“Max, then---this inhaler is known as a metered-dose inhaler. Your medication will be stored in pressurized canister, which is attached to a plastic actuator.” She motions to the long plastic part of the inhaler. “Now here’s how it works: first, you take off the cap and hold the inhaler upright.” She demonstrates for me. “Next, you want to shake the inhaler. Stick this part of it in your mouth like this, and press down on the inhaler to release the medicine, breathing in slowly. Keep breathing slowly for about five seconds. Hold your breath for ten seconds, to let the medicine get into your lungs. You can do this over again if you need to; just make sure you wait about a minute before you try. Do you understand?”
“I think…do I use this everyday, or only when I have attacks?”
“This specific inhaler is only for attacks. There are ones that can be used for everyday, but I figured you wouldn’t want to carry one around with you twenty-four-seven.”
“Boy, were you right about that. Well, everything looks just fine and dandy, I think! Can I go now?” I stand, stretching. Ben does too.
“How about you leave Mrs. Potter and I alone for a couple of minutes? I have some more questions to ask. You can wait out in the main lobby, right?”
I’m out of there soooo quickly. I stroll, whistling, through the halls. I notice there’s no yellow-brick road this time.
However, there is a young man, with black hair. Very messy black hair.
“Hey, you! You, with the funny hair!” I call out, hoping for directions. He looks over at me, eyebrows raised. I inhale a quick breath; he’s gorgeous. “Show me where the main lobby is.” I command. He chuckles.
“A Yankee.” He says, walking over to me. “What’s your name?”
“Max. Now where’s the lobby?” I’m starting to get annoyed with this guy.
“Max? Isn’t that sort of a guy’s name?”
That’s it. He’s really asking for it.
“Listen, you little—“
“James! Oh, good, I see you’ve met Maxine!”
Oh, hello there, Mrs. Potter. And Ben. I try to take deep breaths.
“Are you okay, Max? You look really flushed now…”
I could really kill Ben right now. James smirks at me.
“He,” I stab my finger in James’s direction, “Called me a boy.”
“I did not! I was just pointing out that the name ‘Max’ is distinctly more masculine than—“
“Shut up! I AM NOT A BOY! I have BOOBS, see?” I gesture towards my chest. “Just because they’re not as big as yours…” My chest is fairly small; there’s nothing that special about it. But it’s there. Yup, it is definitely there. And this—this jerk thinks he has the right to question that? Pfft. I’ll show him. I grab my wand and cast a spell in his direction. He’s so surprised he doesn’t have time to block it; soon, he’s growing two watermelon-sized breasts, which are stretching the cloth of his grey sweatshirt. We all watch in mild disgust as they grow larger and larger, eventually encompassing his whole head. We can hear James’s muffled yells.
“I suppose I should cast the counter-spell before he suffocates,” Mrs. Potter says, watching James stumble around and trying not to fall face forwards due to the two heavy loads he was now carrying.
“Eh. Whatever. I’m outta here, though. And James, when people told you to ‘grow a pair’, I don’t think they were referring to a pair of boobs. Just thought I should let you know. Hasta la vista, baby.”
I think I hear a muffled string of swearwords before we leave, but I can’t quite be sure.
“You are really the most immature, antagonizing, and obnoxious girl I have ever heard of.”
“I’ll take that as a backhanded compliment.”
“You really shouldn’t.”
Outside the sun is, where else, hiding behind a thin layer of grey clouds. It’s so dreary out here I’m tempted to run back inside. At least I’d have the enjoyment of watching James choke on his own boobs then. Holy crap, that sounded weird. And more than a little bit disturbing.
“What are you thinking about, Max?”
“Huh? Oh. Boobs.”
Awkward silence. These conversations never end well.
Finally, Ben clears his throat.
“Why are you thinking about boobs?”
“Well, you see, besides being a prostitute since the age of seven, I am also a part-time lesbian.” I say seriously.
“Haha, very funny. That was really rude, what you did to that Potter kid. You’re lucky you weren’t arrested.”
“Pssh. They wouldn’t arrest me; it was too good of a spell. It took me years to perfect it!” Oops. This is one of those times when my mouth should have stayed safely shut.
“How long have you known it for?” Ben asks angrily, stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to glare at me.
“Oh, I don’t know…awhile. The engorgement charm isn’t that tricky to learn.”
I guess he decides he doesn’t want to hear anymore, and we keep on walking. Into the hotel, up the stairs, and into our crappy little room. I’m slightly out of breath by the time we reach the top; I really need to get into shape.
“Say, Ben…since we have that new insaler thingy—“
“Inhaler.” He corrects.
“Whatever—since I have that new inhaler thingy, can I please start playing sports again? Pleeeease?”
“What? What do you mean, ‘absolutely not?’”
“I mean, ‘ABSOLUTELY. NOT. As in, there in no way in hell that I am going to let you risk your health like that. Sorry.” He doesn’t sound sorry.
“Look at me, Ben! I am getting fat and lazy; soon I will be like the Pillsbury dough boy, and people will poke me because I’m thick and squishy! Do you want a white pastry for a sister?”
“You’re insane. Completely insane!” Ben laughs. “You are not getting fat! In fact, you are too thin; you could stand to gain twenty pounds.”
“Ummmm…actually, Ben, twenty more pounds and I’ll be OBESE. As in O to the B to the ESE! If it sounds better in cheer-form.”
“That is rude and totally WRONG. What are you, a hundred pounds?”
“The last time I weighed a hundred pounds I was thirteen years old.”
“Whatever. I can’t believe we are having this conversation. You are not going to play a sport. End of discussion.”
“Ergghhh!” I growl, and fling myself onto my bed, burying my head in a pillow and screaming out my frustration.
I am so athletic; sports are like a part of me. If Ben takes them away from me, I’ll be miserable. At least back in Washington I had gym class.
“Please, Ben, please! You took everything else away from me; please let me have my sports. I don’t care what I do…just let me run, let me fly!” I’m crying now, trying to imagine my life without running in it. I love to run, always have. Until Ben banned me from it. That was about two years ago; since then, though, I’d at least gotten to jog around the grounds with Jackson once in a while. Now I have nothing. I let out a shallow sob, and race past my brother. I know it’s not a good idea; but it just feels so good to run! I fly down the steps, Ben calling after me, and out the front door of the hotel.
It feels amazing to stretch my legs like this; the soreness in my lungs doesn’t even bother me. At first. But then, the farther away I get, the less I can breathe. I am such an idiot! I stop, trying to catch my breath. Why didn’t I think of bringing my inhaler with me? I’m gasping; passersbys look worriedly at me; a few ask if I need any help. I shake my head. But then I spot him up ahead; James, flat-chested again. He’s not facing me, but that hair is recognizable anywhere. I get myself to him, and try to call his name, but all that comes out is a sort of wheezing cough. He turns though, and his eyes widen as he recognizes me. I clutch my throat, feeling the air being sucked out of me. I choke and gasp, but nothing helps.
I feel James catching me before I hit the pavement, and then everything goes black.
I wake up dizzy, disoriented, and oddly warm. There are blankets wrapped around me, which explains the heat, but…where am I? I try and sit up, but a hand shoots out and stops me. I look at that hand; it’s unfamiliar. It’s a young hand, bigger than mine, with smooth skin and long, slender fingers. The largeness of it suggests that it belongs to a man. I follow the hand with my eyes, up to the wrist, the arm, the slight bend of the elbow, and finally to the face. My eyes are blurred form sleep; I blink, trying to clear them. A young man with messy black hair and bright hazel eyes stares back at me, concerned. A second later my brain lets me know that I actually know this person; James Potter. I test the name out on my tongue. It rolls off it, breaking the silence.
“Yes?” James asks. I blink, surprised. Did I ask a question? “You said my name; what do you want?” Oh. I open my mouth, trying to form words.
“Ben…” An understanding look crosses his face; he nods.
“He’s here. He’s sleeping in another room. You’re at my house.”
His…house? I’m so confused…I’m about to ask what happened to me when he answers.
“You had a sort of fit…I took you to my mum, and she apparated us home. I’m not technically allowed to yet. Apparate, I mean. I’ll be seventeen in a couple months, though.” I nod, understanding.
“Thank you,” I whisper hoarsely. Whatever James had expected, it obviously wasn’t this. After a moment of staring at me, he responds.
“You’re welcome. Do you want me to go get your brother for you?”
“No!” I say quickly. “Let him sleep. Can I have some water?” I’m starting to really return to consciousness, finally. He jumps up, and hurries out of the room. Shortly after, he’s back with a tall glass of ice water and some toast and soup. He helps me sit up, then hands me the water. My hands are shaking; he has to help me hold the cup so that I don’t spill its contents all over myself. His hand touches mine. My breath catches in my chest.
It’s embarrassing as hell when he has to help spoon-feed me my soup; my face flushes, and not attractively either. Some people can flush and make it look attractive, like redheads. When I blush I just look like a giant red tomato.
“There you go. Better?” he asks once I’m done with the soup. I nod, not looking at him. He’s about to leave the room, dirty dishes in hand, when I stop him, clearing my throat.
“James…look, I’m really sorry about what I did to you earlier. You didn’t deserve it. I was…I was wrong.” I hate admitting it to people when I’m wrong. Hate it.
“No problem.” He shrugs, grinning. “I would’ve done the same thing.” And then, he leaves, and I am left very confused. Because there is a very good chance that I have a crush on James Potter. Who I just met today. And who looks like he stuck a fork in an electric socket and held on.
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