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Floundering in Magical Waters

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Incident at Hank’s house

     The four of them stared at the spot where Hank was just moments ago. “So,” Todd broke the silence. “Who’s next?”

     “I’ll go,” Connor volunteered, walking over to the bag of powder and carefully scooping some up in his hand. As he took a step towards the fireplace, his foot bumped against the bag, knocking it over onto the floor. Connor froze, and everyone could see the gears turning in his head as he assessed the ‘damage.’

     “Connor, it’s alright,” Amanda walked over and put a hand on his shoulder, with her other hand gesturing to the fireplace. “Just go on ahead with Kara and we’ll clean this up.”

     “Yeah, Kara, just go in with Connor, hold hands, don’t get separated,” Todd shooed Kara towards Connor as he looked around to try and find Hank’s kitchen. As Kara and Connor shouted ‘Diagon Alley’ with shaky voices and disappeared, Todd sighed. “Where does he keep his paper towels? Is this powder even water soluble?”

     “I doubt it’s water-resistant,” Amanda joined him in the search, before finding a roll of towels in a cupboard and getting it wet.

     “Was it even safe to go two at a time?” Todd asked, as he helped Amanda clean up the excess powder and salvage as much as they can.

     “Of course,” Amanda left no room for argument.

     “If you say so,” Todd threw their paper towels in the trash, before picking up a small amount of the green powder remaining. “If Hank asks, nothing happened.” Amanda responded with an assenting blink.


Flourish and Blotts

     After Hank paid for all of their books, Todd looked in the bag and read each book title more closely, before handing them over to Kara, who carefully put her wand in the bag. “Eight textbooks, sheesh,” Todd commented once they were all out of the store. “There’s not some version of Sparknotes for these books, right?”

     “What are you going on about?” Hank looked bewildered, before shaking off his confusion and continued to lead them down the road.

     “Sparknotes,” Amanda said disapprovingly. “Don’t tell me you actually used that.”

     “Oh, don’t act all high and mighty with me,” Todd rolled his eyes, attempting to remove all traces of irritation from his voice. “You never once used Sparknotes, or Chegg, or anything like that?”

     “I never felt the need to use sites like those,” she replied, picking her words carefully. “I was also fortunate to never have to pull an all-nighter.”

     “Oh yeah,” Todd turned to look at Kara. “Don’t pull any all-nighters at school, okay? I want you getting around eight hours of sleep,” he waited for her to nod before continuing. “Don’t want you missing out on life because you’re struggling with a chapter of one of these books. Study with him if you need to,” he gestured over at the boy who was admiring the shops interiors.

     “Don’t worry,” Kara smiled. “The only time I’ll lose sleep is when I’ll be writing to you guys!” Todd faked a frown, before patting Kara on the head, and looking back at Amanda, whose facial expression instantly went back to neutral.

     “I pulled so many all-nighters in college,” Todd added, attempting to continue their previous conversation. “What did you major in again?”

     “I double majored in Computer Science and History,” Amanda replied. “Then got my PhD in artificial intelligence.”

     “Damn,” Todd’s eyebrows went up for a second. “And here I thought I was doing well with my Masters in chemistry.”

     “So you’re a chemist?” Amanda inquired.

     “No,” Todd shoved his hands in his pockets. “Used to do some odd jobs here and there, but now I do construction.”

     “A thankless job,” Amanda said. “But a noble one nonetheless.”

     “I guess,” Todd shrugged, before walking faster to keep up with Hank’s hurried pace.


 Stern Household, Connor’s room

     Amanda helped Connor organize all his new supplies, and as he eagerly looked at the cover of each book, she chose that moment to impart some words of advice.

     “You know, Connor,” she looked straight into his eyes. “While I want you to learn as much as you can, I also want you to make friends,” she waited until he nodded. “Don’t shut yourself off from the rest of this magical world just to focus on your studies, alright?”

     “Understood,” Connor stared at her with that worrying blank face, until he gave a small smile. “I was planning on reading these textbooks before school started anyways.”

     “That’s an excellent idea,” Amanda smiled, as Connor beamed. “Mind if I join you?”

     “Nothing would make me happier.”


 Williams Household, Kara and Alice’s room

     “Alright, lets see what this Dark Arts defence what-not is,” Todd grumbled, picking up the dark gray-blue textbook and cracking it open. Alice and Kara were reading The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 1 , though Todd kept a hand on Kara’s wand box. “Don’t want you two starting a fire or anything.”

     “That’s not even a spell in this book!” Alice countered, before Kara flipped a page, and pointed it out to Alice. “Nevermind.”

     “Oh, here’s the spell that Professor Hank showed us,” Kara showed Todd the entry on the Wand-Lighting Charm.’ “Can we try it? Please?”

     “Maybe you should learn the theory first,” Todd slid the Magical Theory textbook over to them with the wand box on top. Alice dove for the wand box, but let Kara open it.

     “Can I try it?” Alice looked between Todd and Kara with wide eyes, before slowly reaching her hand towards the cedar wand.

     “That person said something about specific wands per person, and when we tried other wands, nothing spectacular happened,” Kara remembered, but watched as Alice tried to balance the wand on her index finger.

     “You’ll get your wand soon enough,” Todd added, looking up at Alice, before clapping at her successful balance, before whipping out his phone.

Todd: Zombies exist

I can’t believe it

Hank better be damn good at his job

Amanda: So you’re reading through the textbooks as well?

Todd: Was just flipping through some

Are you reading all of them cover to cover?

Amanda: Yes, with Connor, of course.

Perhaps you should read the “Magical Drafts and Potions” book.

It seems to be similar to chemistry.

Todd: I’ll check it out.


Tell me how it is.

Amanda: I’ll read it after I finish “A History of Magic”,

“Magical Theory”, and “One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi.”

It seems to be the only logical way to read them.

Todd: Of course you guys’ve ordered them

Amanda: More precisely, we’ve come up with various permutations.

Taking into account that history is first, theory is second, then the rest can be read in any order,

so long as you read the herbs and fungi book before the potions one.

Todd: Sounds like a math problem

“So how many different ways can we read them”

Amanda: Let me ask Connor.

Connor says there are 60 ways.

Todd: I meant that as a rhetorical question

but I’m impressed

61 ways though

Amanda: Where did the 1 come from?

Todd: Just not reading any of them :)

Amanda: That doesn’t make any sense.


Todd: It was a joke!

Amanda: Don’t make me block you.

Todd: You would block me over an innocent joke?

Amanda Stern has blocked you.

Todd: Wow.

Amanda Stern has blocked you.

Amanda Stern has unblocked you.

Todd: Thanks

         Read 8:57pm.