Fixed the typo. Your reward for finding it is the next chapter
By the way, and not that it has anything at all to do with this story... *whistles*
I was wondering how one would write a Russian accent in English... Any pointers?
Chapter Seventeen – A Spoonful of Sugar
I want to hurry to the nurse's office to tell Misha and Shizune the good news, when Takeshi calls me back. “Please wait a moment, Hisao!”
I turn to him, anxious to be on my way. “Yes? What is it?”
“I just wanted to congratulate you on your success just now. Now we can finally begin Kenji's training for real.” He turns serious. “However don't think that this solves all your problems. He might be able to use his magic now, and perhaps he is even willing to use it on girls, but so far all he managed was revitalizing a plant.”
“Your heart defect is something very complicated, and it could be years until he is proficient enough to try to heal it. Destroying Misha's cancer might require him to tap into the destructive parts of Necromancy to destroy the cancer cells, and he has to to so without damaging the healthy cells, or his magic will be just as destructive as the chemotherapy.”
He sighs when he sees my face. “Look, I'm just telling you to not get your hopes too high. Of course we will all do our best to help him... Which is why I wanted to talk to you in the first place.”
My mind is already crystal clear on that matter. “If my ability will help, I will support Kenji with all my power.”
“I know that, but I'm afraid power alone is not going to be enough. For now, I was hoping you and Lilly could help me with something else.”
“What do you need me to do?”
“Well, Kenji is going to need to train his magic as soon as possible, and I don't think he should spend too much time with potted plants and lab mice. We want him to be able to heal humans after all.”
“So what's the problem? There isn't any shortage of ill people at Yamaku, isn't there?”
“No, but we can't simply walk up to the students and have Kenji heal them by laying on hands. There's only a handful of students who know about magic, and even if he managed to regrow Emi's legs – or if she even wanted him to – that would also be a bit hard to conceal.”
I mentally go through the girls and realize what he's getting at. “You mean you want him to...”
“Yes, the only one of the students he could try to heal right now is Hanako.”
We set off to search for Lilly. Thanks to Takeshi's talents it doesn't take long to find her, and after we bring her up to date we head to class 3-2's homeroom, where Hanako is supposed to have another Transmutation lesson right now.
This time I knock on the door, and soon Ms. Miyagi's voice bids us to enter. Hanako is in the middle of kneading what looks like a lump of granite into shape. Ms. Miyagi is supervising her efforts critically. “Good, but try to get a more even consistency. That part there is softer than the rest.”
She looks up, surprised to see so many of us enter. “Yes? Something the matter?”
Takeshi is the first to answer. “I'm sorry, Makoto, but could we please talk to Hanako for a moment?”
She glances at Hanako, who is trying her best to shrink into her chair. “Sure. It's time for a break anyway.”
We walk over to Hanako. I stay silent, unsure of how to approach the subject.
“We wanted to tell you that Kenji has finally learned how to use his magic.” Takeshi looks at Hanako expectantly, but Hanako just nods her head.
“Y-yes. W-why do you t-tell me?”
Takeshi looks helplessly to Lilly and me. I look helplessly to Lilly. Looking back it would probably have been better to have Lilly talk to Hanako alone.
“They think it might be a good idea to have him try to heal your scars.” If Lilly notices our discomfort, she doesn't show it.
The visible half of Hanako's face looks almost exactly like Ms. Miyagi's without any pigments. “M-me? I-I don't think t-this would b-be a g-good idea.”
Lilly reaches out and takes hold of Hanako's hand. As she finds it on the first try, she probably used magic to locate it. “I think this would be a good idea as well. We don't know if he will manage to heal the scars, but if it doesn't work, you won't have lost anything either.”
“B-but Kenji h-hates m-me. He is a-always m-mean to me, and...”
“Don't worry. Hisao convinced him to help you, and he will be there as well , to help Kenji and make sure he doesn't hurt you.”
Hanako glances at me as if this were not the most reassuring thing Lilly could have said, then she turns back to Lilly. “W-Will you be there as well?”
“Of course, Hanako.”
Hanako fidgets a few moments longer before she utters an almost inaudible “Okay.”
Takeshi suppresses a sigh of relief. “I'm glad to hear that. So, could the three of you please come to the nurse's office this evening at eight? I'll make sure everything is ready by then.”
Hanako tenses again, but nods. Takeshi and I take our leave and let Lilly comfort Hanako a bit more. I feel bad leaving her to do it alone, but I guess my presence would not be helpful anyway.
When I return to the nurse's office to finally talk to Misha and Shizune, I find that Shizune has already left. Instead I find Emi entertaining a giggling Misha by magically juggling medical implements. Rin is sitting at the side and watching the two of them with an air of detachment. The nurse is sitting at his desk trying to ignore the noise Emi is causing.
Misha's bed is set so she can sit almost upright. When she notices me she calls my name and waves. “Hey, Hicchan!”
I walk over to her and give her a kiss, causing Emi to grin from ear to ear. Then I sit down on the bed next to her. “Hey, glad you're awake. Where's Shizune?”
“Council work. I told her I'd wait for you and then we'd go join her. Then Emi came by for her Conjuration lesson. And now we're having a little party. Where'd you go to? Shizune didn't want to say.”
So she didn't believe I'd succeed and didn't want to get her hopes up. Takeshi's words come back to me, but a little bit of hope shouldn't hurt. “I talked to Kenji, and convinced him that the feminists aren't out to get him.”
In the ensuing silence you could hear a pin drop.
“How do you know they aren't? Do you know any?” Everyone chooses to ignore Rin's question.
Emi stares at me as if I'd just sprouted wings. “How the heck did you do that? Nobody ever managed to cure his paranoia.”
“Well, I didn't cure it... You could say I redirected it at another target.” I ponder how much I should tell them, but decide to protect Kenji's privacy as much as possible. “Turns out, Kenji was once hurt very bad by something he thought was a normal woman, but it was some dark magical creature instead. I convinced him to consider a truce with the feminists to fight against a common enemy.”
“Anyway, he now believes that it's vampires and demons who are out to get him, but that's not too bad, is it? If such creatures really do exist, they probably are.”
Misha shivers at the thought, so I try to change the subject. “He also managed to do a bit of healing magic, but Takeshi said it would still take some time until he would be able to try to heal cancer or heart defects. He's going to try to heal Hanako tonight.”
“Is he going to fix her bladder?” Both Misha and Emi look at Rin uncomprehendingly.
It takes me a few seconds to remember what she's talking about myself. “No, he is going to try to heal her scars, but maybe that will also help with her other problems.”
“You think her bladder problems are linked to her scars? How very unique. I don't have anyone like that in my collection yet. Maybe I should ask her about it.”
This is not good. “I don't think you should. I'm probably mistaken about the connection anyway.” Another change of subject might be in order. “So what about you? Mr. Kanzaki said Kenji might eventually be able to regrow lost limbs.”
Rin looks at me. “Yes?”
“Aren't you excited that you might have arms soon?”
She shrugs. “Not really. They'd probably want me to wear skirts like the other girls, and I don't like them.”
That has to be the most ridiculous reason for not wanting arms I've ever heard – not that that's saying much – but then, did I really expect anything else from Rin? I turn to Emi. “And you? You want to get your real legs back, don't you?”
Emi levitates her running blades that have been standing in a corner to her hands. “What, and give up on these? Who else can just put on a suitable set of legs for every occasion? Who else can adjust their height
? Besides, I don't really need real feet. I don't plan on taking on either ballet or tap-dancing.”
Misha puts her arm around my waist. “Seems like the two of us and Hanako are the only ones who even want
to be healed. I know Shicchan isn't interested. We talked about it earlier, and she said she didn't want to learn another foreign language. I'm not sure about Lilly. A week ago she'd probably have been excited about it, but once she's got the hang of that Divination thing, she'll probably be able to see better than the rest of us.”
She swings her legs out of the bed and stands slowly. “Anyway, we should get going to help Shicchan, or she'll be mad again. And thank you.” She plants a kiss on my cheek. “I know you've been doing all this for my sake.”
Without giving me a chance to reply, she grabs my arm, waves goodbye to Emi and Rin, and before I know it, we're en route to the student council office.
The rest of the afternoon goes by in a flash. We didn't really get to do much council work this week, so there's plenty to catch up on.
After a quick dinner in the cafeteria I excuse myself and head back to the nurse's office to assist Kenji, should my help be needed.
I am five minutes early, but Lilly and Hanako are already sitting at a table. I try to show my most reassuring smile, but Hanako still looks like she'd rather be anywhere but here right now. I don't want to agitate her more than necessary, so I go and talk to the nurse for a bit after greeting the two of them. Luckily we don't have to wait long.
There is a polite knock on the door, and then Mr. Kanzaki enters the room, closely followed by Kenji. Kenji squints a bit to make out the occupants of the room. “Hey, Hisao, good to have you here. Who's...” He seems to recognize the two girls. “Her? She's the one I'm supposed to heal?”
Hanako would probably bolt from the room if Lilly wasn't holding her hand, so I do my best to calm Kenji down quickly. “Of course, Kenji, Don't you remember? We're allies now. You know? The enemy of my enemy?”
Kenji hesitates. “Hmm, I don't know about an alliance... I was thinking more along the lines of a cease-fire...”
I lean over to him and whisper in his ear. “Just think about it as a token of our goodwill. It's not like healing her scar will give them any tactical advantage.”
Kenji brightens considerably at this thought. “You're right, Hisao. Good thinking as always. I don't know what I would do without you.” He turns towards Hanako. “Okay, let's get this over with.”
A cough from Mr. Kanzaki quiets the room. “Before you start, let me explain a few things. Mr. Setou and I did a lot of experiments this afternoon, testing the possibilities and limits of his healing powers. What we can say so far is that it seems to be comparatively easy to heal a wound that would heal naturally on its own. In that case, the magic serves to augment and speed the body's natural recuperative powers.”
He pauses for a moment. “In Ms. Ikezawa's case, the wounds are old and would not normally heal on their own. This apparently takes a lot more effort from the Necromancer, so please don't expect a complete recovery today. In fact, I would count any improvement at all as a success.”
“As I expected Ms. Ikezawa to be Mr. Setou's first patient, I taught him a lot about dermatology this week, so he should know what to do to return your skin to normal.” He turns to Kenji. “I suggest that you work on the scar on Ms. Ikezawa's right hand for now. I will only observe, but Hisao should feel free to assist you if needed.”
Kenji sits down at the table to Hanako's right. Hanako hesitates, but after some encouragement from Lilly holds out her hand.
I quietly sit down across from Hanako and look at the hand. From the end of her sleeve to the knuckle of her index finger, almost the entire back of her hand is covered in scars.
Kenji grabs the hand clumsily and begins to concentrate. As I watch, the black aura appears from his hands again and engulfs Hanako's hand as well.
Hanako recoils from the black glow and clutches her hand to her chest.
“Hey, hold still! I can't work like that.”
Reluctantly, Hanako holds out her hand again. Though she is trembling, when Kenji's magic touches her hand again, she doesn't draw it back this time.
A few minutes go by without any noticeable change. I look up and notice Mr. Kanzaki nodding my way encouragingly.
Slowly, so as not to startle anyone, I reach out and put my hand on top of Kenji's. I start to concentrate and my hand begins to glow with the white colour of Abjuration. However, when the white aura mingles with Kenji's black one, the black does not dissolve but instead it becomes even darker. Soon, I cannot even see Hanako's hand through the glow, but I dare not tune it out for fear of losing my concentration.
Five more minutes and Kenji suddenly stops. He looks pale and beads of sweat have formed on his brow. Slowly the black glow fades, and Hanako holds her hand up to her eyes to examine it.
For a moment everything is silent, then tears start running down her face. She is hugging Lilly and sobbing uncontrollably at her shoulder.
Mr. Kanzaki lets out a frustrated growl. “So it didn't work. I'm sorry, I really thought...”
“No!” Hanako lets go of Lilly and turns to Mr. Kanzaki. Her face is a mess from all the tears, but her mouth is smiling. “It did work.” Hesitantly she presents her hand for us to look at. There is still a large scar there, but no longer does it reach all the way to her knuckles. It has receded almost two centimeters.
She smiles at Kenji. “Thank you. You have no idea how much this means to me.”
If I didn't know better, I'd swear I saw Kenji blush right now. He fidgets nervously. “If you want I could try again...”
“I think this is enough for today, Mr. Setou. This has been a very exhausting day for you, and you will have plenty of time to continue this session. In fact, I would like you to spend some of your magic lessons in Ms. Miyagi's Transmutation training. It seems that Necromancy is a bit similar to Transmutation in that you both need a solid background in anatomy, and Ms. Miyagi is a much better teacher in that field than I am.”
He looks at his watch. “It's getting late. Please use tomorrow to relax. We'll resume your training on Monday.” With that he excuses himself and walks to the door.
I want to return to the dorms as well, but as I am just about to leave, Takeshi enters. “Ah, Hisao, I'm glad you're still here, and you as well, Lilly.”
“I'm sorry to impose on you two, but I'd like you to meet me tomorrow morning at ten in the tea-room for an experiment.” When I open my mouth to protest, he holds up his hands. “I know tomorrow is Sunday, and I said I'm sorry, but this is important, so please.”
I look at his face and there is nothing like his usual grin. He is completely serious. Whatever he has planned for tomorrow it has to be really important. I nod my agreement. “Okay, if it's okay with Lilly as well, we'll meet you tomorrow at ten.”
Lilly doesn't have any objections either, and so I say my goodbyes and return to my room. As I drift off to sleep, I wonder what Takeshi thought was so important...
Please look forward to Chapter Eighteen: