“Hey,” he said, smiling mischievously. “Want to run off with me?”
“What?” I breathed.
“Skip the rest of your lesson,” Chaz explained.
“Sure,” I said, excitedly. “But well, Rachel already said I could go.”
“Really?” Chaz asked, surprise evident in his voice. “That’s not as fun.”
I giggled. “We – we could pretend?”
“All right,” Chaz agreed, brightening. He opened the door and pretend-whispered, “Come on!”
I jumped up and ran over to him. As I passed through the door, we looked at each other. Chaz put a finger to his lips. I hid my resulting giggle behind my hand. He took my free hand and led me away.
My cheeks reddened instantly. Would it be bad if he noticed how excited I was?
“It’s really hard to believe Rachel would just let you off the hook like that,” Chaz mused, quietly.
“I know,” I whispered back.
Chaz chuckled and stopped to look at me. I bit my lip.
“Well, come on in,” he said, nodding to the tech room.
I followed him in, and he closed the door behind us.
“Did you want to show me the website?” I asked when I thought of it.
“Not today,” Chaz answered. “That’s for next time.”
Next time. There would be a next time. My heart floated. Oh, I’d missed him so much.
Chaz sat in his chair and pulled another over for me. When I settled into the seat, I looked up. I was staring right at him... staring right at me. I was totally frozen with electric nerves.
He smiled. “Rachel hasn’t taught you to summon your wand yet, correct?”
I shook my head. “I can summon it?”
“Yep. Like my Dad did when we first met. It’s the very first thing you should learn. That way, when you need it, you’ll always have it nearby.”
“I just thought you would carry it around.”
“It would be weird to carry it with you to school, though, right?”
I remembered when Jenny had brought her wand to school for Halloween. The girls had been almost mesmerized by its beauty.
“You’re right,” I said. “But why would I need my wand at school?”
Chaz looked at me strangely for a moment. “Well... you never know.”
I nodded, sure that he knew something I didn’t.
“Anyhow,” he continued, “to summon your wand, you have to form a bond with it first. You’ve had yours for a while now; do you think you’re ready?”
I thought about it, biting my lip again. I did feel a strange closeness to the piece of crystal. And Aunt Lahela had said something about bonding with it as well.
“I think so,” I decided.
Chaz smiled. “Okay,” he said, sitting up straight in his chair. “Put your right hand out. Close your eyes. And just...” He swung his hand slightly. And suddenly, his wand appeared.
I clapped, then stopped, feeling embarrassed.
Chaz bowed with a bright smile. “Thank you, thank you. Now, you.”
I felt at once as if I were onstage with bright lights beating down on me. “I... can’t.”
“You can.” Chaz put his free hand on my shoulder. I expected to feel more nervous, but there was just a warm comfort seeping in from his touch.
“Really?” I asked.
“Yes,” Chaz said, honestly. “Just try.”
At that moment, there was no distance between us.
We were equals.
Chaz moved away as I nodded. I could feel the warmth, now in my arm, travel down to my hand. It was as if his magic were mixing with mine. I felt safe and strong.
I closed my eyes and moved my hand through the air. With a whoosh that sounded almost like music, I opened my eyes to see my wand in my hand.
“Oh, my God...” I breathed, slowly. I’d done it. It wasn’t a mistake. I really did have magic in me.
Then, I frowned. “Chaz...” I began, sadly. Somehow, both hoping and dreading it being true. “Did you help me?”
He truly seemed puzzled. “What do you mean?”
Oh, boy... How was I going to explain this?
“It’s just – when you touched my shoulder – it felt warm, and... and it was like your magic was flowing through my arm.” I scrunched up in my chair, trying to steady my nervous self from the revealing string of words.
It took a moment, but Chaz smiled. “No, I didn’t do anything. That magic was all you.”
“Are you sure?”
He chuckled. “Very. In fact... now that your wand is here, we should try something else.”
“Okay!” I smiled. I was nervous, but excited. “What?”
“Hmm…” Chaz stood. He adjusted his glasses and glanced around the room, then pointed at a stack of books on his desk. “There. You can move those.”
I looked at all the sensitive tech equipment that graced Chaz’s favorite room. “But can I... I mean, what if I do something wrong?”
“It will be fine. Trust me.” Chaz grabbed onto my chair and wheeled me back towards the door.
I did trust Chaz... I just didn’t trust myself.
“I can’t,” I found myself saying again.
“You can,” Chaz insisted. He reached out to touch me again, but pulled his hand back, smiling. He wanted to prove I was doing it on my own.
I sighed and stood.
“Okay...” I said, weakly. “What do I do?”
“Wave the wand and just imagine a book floating toward you.”
If only he knew how many times I had already tried that at home. Nothing ever happened.
“You can do it, Jane,” Chaz said. “Trust me.”
Taking a deep breath, focusing with all my might, I waved the wand. And in a rush, every book on the desk flew towards me with incredible speed. Chaz pulled me into him. A book slammed into my arm, hard.
“Ouch,” I moaned. I pressed myself against him, only half aware of my actions. He smelled so good, but my arm hurt, and he’d never think of me that way, but it was so warm leaning into him.
My thoughts were spinning dizzily.
“I’m sorry, Jane.” Chaz pulled away from me to get a better look at my arm. “I should’ve...”
He was genuinely upset. I wasn’t sure which ached more, my arm or my heart. I just wanted him to keep holding me.
Chaz sighed, then looked in my eyes. “I’m so sorry.”
“I’m okay,” I said, quietly. I tried to put the pain out of my mind so my words would be true, and attempted a smile. I cringed, instead. “I’m fine, really.”
Chaz shook his head. “I’ll get you something for that.”
“I messed up,” I said to myself.
Or maybe I wanted him to hear.
Chaz gave me a serious look. “You didn’t mess up. Not at all. I shouldn’t have rushed you into it. You’re just starting out.”
“I didn’t think I could do it,” I admitted. “I mean, I’ve tried to do magic on my own. I know Rachel told me not to, but... well, nothing ever happened. So, I was focusing really, really hard this time.”
Chaz gave a little chuckle. “Well, if it makes you feel any better, it only happened because you’re powerful.” He smiled and shook his head. “Too powerful for my simple lessons.”
I smiled, then stopped. “But wait, you’ll – please, keep teaching me!”
“Maybe. But right now, let me get you fixed up. Wait here.” He dashed out of the room.
I brushed my fingers over my arm and whimpered quietly, glaring at the mess of books on the floor.
So, I was powerful... but I only felt weak. Even when I actually made something happen, it went all wrong.
I sighed and bent down to clean up the mess, ashamed of myself. Most of the books were new and well cared for manuals. Tips for website building. Tech stuff. But there was one exception: a heavy old tome, like the ones Rachel usually taught from.
The front had completely faded. The spine was mostly gone, too, but I thought I could make out one word.
Secrets. My eyes widened with interest.
Chaz came back through the door with a glass bottle of yellow gel that looked kind of icky.
“What is that?” I asked, making a face.
Chaz chuckled. “Arnica. It’ll help.”
I sat down, and Chaz grabbed another chair. He opened the bottle, then took my arm gently. As he spread the gel over my sore arm, I gritted my teeth and tried to remember that at least he was touching me again.
My face grew itchy. He left his hand on the spot where I’d been hit. A warmth spread into me again, but it was different this time. Chaz’s fingers were glowing faintly, in a way you wouldn’t notice unless you were really looking. My arm tingled, then grew numb.
“Wow,” I breathed.
“Much better,” I answered, honestly.
“Good,” Chaz said. But as he sat back in the chair, he still looked upset with himself.
I wanted to cheer him up. I gave a small smile. “You really didn’t help me before.”
Chaz’s lip quirked to the side. “How do you know?”
“It felt different this time, when you were healing me. Last time it was just...” I laughed, nervously. “I’m pretty sure you didn’t.”
“You’re right,” Chaz said. “You did it all by yourself.”
“But then... why didn’t it work before – when I tried magic on my own?”
“Maybe you didn’t really think you could do it.”
“But I felt exactly the same today.”
“Well, something was different.”
I was with you. “I guess, because... you said I could.”
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