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A/N: This is another short, fillerish chapter, because that's all I really had time to write. Hope you enjoy!



The next morning, I wake up feeling optimistic, something I haven’t felt in awhile. During the night, someone must have changed my bandage and even combed through my hair; it was probably Mrs. Potter. I stand on still slightly wobbly legs and go over to a mirror that’s hanging on the wall. I look a bit better than before, but not much.

Actually, I look distinctly pothead-ish. My eyes are rimmed with red, and a dark purple, even though having sleep-bags under one’s eyes should NOT be an issue when one is getting an average of fifteen hours of sleep a day/night. But, as usual, logic has relatively nothing to do with my current situation. It never does, really.

My hair looks nice, thanks to Mrs. Potter or whoever did comb it. It’s all soft and shiny curls, golden and pretty, especially compared to the rest of my face, which has late-night-drug-abuse written all over it. Besides the red-rimmed eyes, my skin itself is still pretty pale, and my face looks way thinner than it used to. I try to remember the last time I really ate, and can’t. But I’m just not hungry, ya know? I shake my head, stick out my tongue at my own reflection, and then spin around a couple of times, trying to release some of the pent-up energy I have. I’m spinning faster and faster, and having a grand ol’ time, when suddenly, WHAM!

Actually, it was less of a WHAM! and more of a sickening SLAP! but still.

I crashed, whammed, or slapped into six feet, three inches of pure, unadulterated hotness.

“Oh, dear! Are you alright?” He holds me away from him by the shoulders, looking concernedly into my eyes. I think I’ve just gone comatose.

Actually, this whole situation would be romantic had it not been for the fact that I think I just got a concussion from running into his rock-hard pecs.

And the fact that I have no idea who this is.

But those are minor, ignorable details, right? RIGHT?

“Here, let me call the healers…” He starts, unsure. I shake my head and try to clear the blush from my cheeks. I mean, I never blush.

“I’m fin. I mean, fine!” I say, my voice higher than usual. I clear my throat nervously. “Who are you?”

“I’m your tutor, of course!” he says, looking relieved that I’m at least talking half-normally now. “Mr. Franklin. We will be going over Charms and Transfiguration.”

He has the same effect over me that Danny used to, back in Washington. I can’t stop watching his mouth move. I have to drag my eyes away, and tell myself that I’m just being stupid and annoying.

“Cool,” I manage, brushing some hair out of my eyes.

Tall, dark, and handsome does not even begin to describe Mr. Franklin. I can’t possibly do him justice, but lets just say that blue-green eyes, dark wavy hair, and dimples are all involved. And really, really nice teeth.

“So first, I thought we’d get right into things by learning a new Charm I find quite fascinating. Have you by any chance ever wondered how to conjure things from mid-air?”

“No,” I say. “And isn’t that impossible? I mean, you can’t conjure something from nothing, right? Otherwise people wouldn’t need to buy anything. You can transport, and transfigure stuff, but how—“

“Absolutely right! Brilliant observation, just brilliant!”

And he’s not even being sarcastic. Wow.

“That’s me. Brilliant.”

“I can see that!” He says, sounding excited, his eyes glowing. “Today we will work on conjuring up flowers, okay? You could use a few around here, anyway.” We both look around the boring old room, our noses wrinkling in unison.

“Right. Lead on, Frankie, let’s do this thang.” I crack my knuckles and pick up my wand, twirling it around in my fingers.

“The spell is ‘orchideous’, and to make it work you have to do this…”

He demonstrates. It only takes me two or three tries before I get it right. It’s weird; stuff used to take me longer to learn. And really, I don’t feel weak at all right now. The opposite, actually.

“Did Dumbledore tell you why I’m here?” I ask curiously, an hour into our lesson. I’m stretched out on my bed, arms crossed behind my head. A smile stays plastered to Mr. Franklin’s face.

“No, why? I mean, he told me someone needed to be taught, and of course I jumped at the chance.”

Poor, enthusiastic soul. He really has no idea what he’s gotten himself into, tutoring me. Ah, well.

“Well, here’s the deal, bucko.” I motion for him to draw closer, which he does, light eyes wide and curious. “I have secret powers. Like, dark powers.” He swallows, frowning.

“We all have…special…powers, Miss DeVough,” he starts, sounding unsure. I wave this off.

“It’s Max, for the last time! Honestly, man, what is this, the 17th century? Annnnnyway, what I was going to say is that, DUH we’re all special, but I’m super special. Like, I could kick your ass in a duel kind of special. Yeah, I know, it shocks even me, sometimes.”

“But…I don’t see what this has to do with—“

He’s so confused, the poor thing. I feel kind of bad for lying, really, but I have questions that need to be answered, and I’m still not sure if he can be completely trusted.

“I have some questions for you, okay? First, if I have this…dark power inside of me, would it make me stronger, or weaker? Say it was a really bad dark power…a curse.”

“Well,” He says thoughtfully, “I suppose it would depend, wouldn’t it? But I think that it could have the potential to do either, depending on how you handled it. For example, I think it could weaken one part of you while strengthening another. You could be failing health-wise, but growing rapidly magic-wise. And depending on how strong the curse was…” he swallows, looking at me. “This isn’t metaphorical, is it?” He asks hopefully. I shake my head, and he sighs. “Well, I really have no idea what it means for you, but I reckon dark magic is not just matter, you know? It’s, like…a solid thing. A constantly changing, writhing thing, just under the surface. Nobody knows exactly what it is, right? But like I said, I reckon there’s more to it than just darkness,” he finishes mysteriously. I just stare at him, frowning slightly.

“Riiiight,” I say slowly. “Gotcha. I think.”

He flushes slightly, and then swears.

“We’ve almost gone over-time, and I haven’t even given you your work yet!” He says, sounding alarmed.

“Eh, don’t worry about it. If it makes you feel better, I probably won’t do it anyway, I say, yawning.

“No, that doesn’t make me feel better, actually,” he says. “Here.” He hands me a pretty small stack of papers to complete before our next lesson, when he promised I’d start to learn how to transfigure parts of myself. He said to think about what I wanted to work on transfiguring myself into, in the meantime.

I wave him off and think about it for awhile. Later in the day, Tragic Tony stops by, looking like he’s in one hell of a bad mood.

“My mom came by,” he says, kicking at a stray dust-bunny violently. It scampers away, squeaking in protest.

I don’t bother even trying to consider the weirdness of a squealing DUST-bunny. Since it’s, ya know, dust.

“Really? What did she want?” He lays back beside me, so that we’re both staring glumly up at the white tiled ceiling.

“To defend him,” he says bitterly. “She has to wear scarves, you know. Over her face. Because it’s so fucked up.” He spits the last two words, and I wince in sympathy.

“I’m sorry,” I say truthfully. “Really.”

“Thanks.”

“Hey, you know something?”

“What?”

“You’re the only one I’ve ever told.”

“Told what?”

“That my parents died from the same thing I have.”

“Oh.”

Silence.

“Thanks, Max. For just…I dunno. Not running away from me in terror, I suppose.” He grins wryly and I laugh.

“Yes, it’s such a BURDEN being in your company, Tony, you have no idea!”

“For the last time, my name is IAN!”

“Hey, no need to get snippy! Just cos your parents named you the wrong name…I’m telling you, your real name is definitely Tragic Tony. Now you can either accept that, or…” I pause, “Not accept it, and wallow in your own self-misery for the rest of your life,” I finish dramatically. He laughs, and looks over at me again.

“Do you think…do you think you could help me get Miriam to like me?”

“Hmmm. I’m not sure if that’s such a good idea.” I say thoughtfully.

“Why not?”

“Because last time I tried to help someone get a girl, I ended up accidentally seducing him instead, and now we’re dating.”

“Oh. So you’re worried you’d end up dating me?”

“Nah…I’m more worried about ending up dating this Miriam, actually. She sounds like quite the catch!” I laugh, and duck as he swats me with a pillow. “Fine, fine! I can try to give you some tips or whatever,” I give in. He grins triumphantly.

“What should I do about my scars? I mean there isn’t much…they’ve tried absolutely everything to get them off, and it’s hopeless.”

“Flaunt them, of course! Theya re pretty badass, I must admit…just grow your hair out a bit, and then you can have that truly TRAGIC emo look. Emo plus badass equals hot. If you act like the scars embarrass you, then the effect will be completely ruined. You have to wear the scars like you would…a new purse.”

He stares at me, an eyebrow raised. “I don’t usually carry one of those around,” he says.

“Yeah right. Sure you don’t. Anyway,” I wave him off dismissively, “You know what I mean. Also, stop being so mopey. You need to be…mysterious, and sexy, and, like I said, totally badass and rebellious. It’s the key, I’m telling you. Do that and you’re golden. You’re nod a bad-looking guy, Tony. Not as hot as Mr. Franklin, my charms tutor is, but then again not many people are.”

“You get tutors? Lucky. All I get are some nosy Healers who treat me like I’m two years old.”

“Oh, no. You’re sulking again!” I slap him on the forehead, in the classic ‘shoulda had a V8 head-slam,’ which doesn’t do much to lift his mood, but is pretty funny anyway.

“Well, I’d better go. If they catch me out of bed one more time, they’re going to dump me to the streets. Later, right?”

“Yeah, right. Thanks for coming by…Ian.”

“Thanks for calling me Ian; I knew you would eventually.”

“Don’t push it, fella.”

And with one last roguish smirk, he’s outta here. For now.

More nurses come and go, doing tests and whatnot, but other than that I don’t have any other visitors, which is kinda depressing, really. I mean, where the hell is Jackson? He should definitely be back by now.

The light n the room slowly fades, but I’m still wide awake. My side is throbbing, but that’s not unormal. Suddenly I hear voices outside of my door.

“I can’t stand it!” One says. It’s a woman--Mrs. Potter, maybe? “I can’t lose another, I just can’t!”

“Shh, shh, you’ll wake her. Here, let’s go inside.” Footsteps. I close my eyes, pretending to be asleep. I can feel their presences in the room. “See, look how peaceful she is,” the man, who I’m guessing is Mr. Potter, whispers in his deep, calming voice. I can’t believe I used to be intimidated by him.

“She’s b-beautiful, and we won’t be the only ones losing her—think of James!”

“James will survive this. He’s stronger than you give him credit for.”

“Yes, but…she’s like a daughter to me. Losing her will devastate—“

I don’t hear anything else they say. A warm blush seeps up to my cheeks, a happy feeling permeating my body.

I’m like a daughter to her.

And then I really do fall asleep, lulled by the murmurings of Mr. and Mrs. Potter.



A/N: I know a ton of chapters recently have been similar, and ending the same way, but I promise there will be more excitement shortly, once all of the tutors are introduced and everything is tied up that way.
Thank you for all of your kind responses to last chapter. My friend just got out of the hospital, and, with a ton of physical therapy should be perfectly fine.

I hope you all liked this chapter, and will review! We'll meet our last tutor next time, and Max and Ian will go on an exciting adventure :)

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