HOTEL HANGOUT

"London, I need to speak with you."

The "girl" replied instantly even though his brain was still adjusting to the new name. It was also still adjusting to the new sex. He wondered why they had chosen that name. He also wondered briefly why he hadn't gotten to choose his own name. He then remembered that they had said something about it betraying his true self through reflected personality. He was under the impression they just wanted him to be embarrassed, especially with the personality they wanted him to play.

"Not now Moseby. I'm off to a gala premiere."

He wasn't sure whether he could put any more condescension and dismissiveness into a single statement without sounding ridiculous. He already thought he sounded ridiculous, the entire plan was ridiculous. He couldn't understand the logic of the Ministry of Magic. In what way was pretending to be a rich, ditzy girl living in Boston blending in?

"Oh no, you're not."

The only thoughts that ran through his head as he heard these words were that of joy. He was careful not to show this on his new features however, portraying only a look of confusion as he was spun around to stand in the spot he had began in.

"I've just received a fax from your father. You are to cease all social activities until your grades improve."

He pondered whether he should consider this a blessing or a curse. Those moronic outings would be postponed - for awhile at least - but what did they want him to do in regards to the grades? They had specified in the briefing that he was to pretend to be a dumb girl to keep him unnoticed. What about this plan had changed? He only wished they could be clearer but this naive muggle had no idea of the situation. The spell they had cast had established London Tipton as pre-existing, someone this man before him had practically raised.

"That is so unfair. I have to keep my grades up but his new wife is allowed to drop out of college?"

Well, he decided he could at least have some fun with his back story. The Ministry had only said that he would have an absentee father, allowing them to make only necessary contact. He was going to paint the most awful picture he could without going for sympathy or into the realm of the unreal. Harmless comedy was his angle. He humoured the thought that they should have put him undercover as a writer of some sort. It was almost certain that the muggles would appreciate humour like his on their television shows. In reality however, it would seem he had embarrassed this Mr Moseby with his comment, the man's head turning to the side in acknowledgement of the inappropriateness. Perhaps playing an incredibly naive girl would be easy enough.

"He also insisted I hire you a tutor."

Ah, so that was it. This "grades" business was a ploy to get him to interact, establish himself a bit more. This was his first day and they were setting his course. He could only presume that - if they had arranged the tutor - the person they chose would be someone he would be spending a lot of time with while in this disguise. It was hard for him not to noticeably brighten at the thought that this "tutoring" may actually be an opportunity to meet with another wizard. It had only been a few hours but he was already tired of the muggle world and the inability to use his magic. He found it entirely too easy to dissipate this joy when he realised Moseby had said that he would be choosing the tutor.

"When is he going to realise that education and me just don't mix?"

A futile effort to avoid the situation seemed like the right thing to do. If he wanted, he could convince this man easily but he was only putting on a show. It was best to follow the Ministry's design.

The blonde-headed girl from whom he had just purchased some interesting sweets made her voice heard.

"Education and I."

It was becoming increasingly hard not to laugh at this entire situation. He was quite proud of this muggle. He'd deliberately put the grammatical mistake into his words only to back up his point. Now it had helped him locate someone he should keep a close watch over. This girl was clearly observant. The Moseby man was looking at her, seemingly contemplating something. What could he say in reply to the girl? He wanted to congratulate her but that would break character.

"Hello? This isn't about you!"

His words had the desired effect and - after a shake of the head - she turned back to the cash register. He only wanted this conversation to be finished with as fast as possible so he could relax in the confines of his room. At least there he could do magic. Perhaps if he could lock the door properly (with magic) he might even be able to change back for a little bit. He was only willing to follow the Ministry's design for certain things and being a girl all the time was not his intention.

The blonde-headed girl had started doing Mathematics aloud as a senior citizen was also purchasing some sweets. He almost snorted with derision, which he supposed wouldn't have been out of character but he couldn't think of an explanation for it. When they had told him that muggles only used numbers for these uses he hadn't believed them. He only wished he could see their faces if they observed an Arithmancy lesson. He barely suppressed a shudder. Somehow, he was even managing to be nostalgic about the classes.

"You beat the cash register!"

Oh no. He was almost certain he could see the plan formulating in the astounded muggle's head. There was a slim hope that he was wrong but the slimness made it frail. He had been planning on trying to avoid too much contact with this girl, she noticed too much.

"And you read!"

Mr Moseby's voice had reached interesting heights. It was even higher than his new tones as he plucked a novel from the counter. This and the muggle's incredulousness was almost enough to distract him from his impending doom.

"Maddie can be your new tutor."

With those six words all of his hope died and he turned to look at the pair properly, abandoning his pretence of playing with a silken purse. He could already anticipate the girl's reaction so he just mimicked it. It seemed like the best course of action.

"What?!"

They had exclaimed in unison, the girl's shriek higher than his. He was almost certain no one had noticed and his natural voice couldn't have come through if he tried. The Professor's strengthened Polyjuice (he could have sworn the invisible band on his finger started to burn as he thought about it) also affected the voice. It changed all aspects but this didn't stop him from worrying. His acting skills weren't anything to brag about and now that a removable source of ever-lasting Polyjuice potion was his only hope for survival. The "removable" part was simultaneously a relief and a hazard. He wasn't stuck as a girl but he risked the ring being removed accidently. He'd been assured against it but the Ministry weren't always honest.

"There isn't enough money in the world."

Why did they keep trying to make him grin? At the very least, this was confirmation that his acting was going well so far. He prayed Moseby would pity the poor girl and subsequently keep him out of trouble but from what he'd been told about the man he was fairly stubborn.

"I'll pay you triple your salary."

All hope was lost for him as he saw her turn back towards him with the largest grin he'd seen in a very long time. He walked away with a look of disgust displayed on his features, his inner monologue consisting of a lot of panicked planning.

Waiting for elevators were so redundant. At least he didn't have to speak to them anymore, acting was tiring. Body acting was difficult too of course. His normal stance was a little too masculine for London. When the elevator eventually arrived he couldn't help but think this hotel was simultaneously too garish and too bland. The corridor outside of his room was a complete farce. He let out an inaudible sigh and closed the door to his room. "Finally."

He made sure to lock the door before removing the infernal band.

"Colloportus."

He placed the ring on the convenient countertop as it became tangible and went to appreciatively inspect himself in the mirror, glad of his proficiency at wandless magic. He groaned outwardly when he realised he had failed to remove London's clothing before he had reverted back. He wasn't going to be wearing this again as the clothing had stretched in rather pertinent places. He'd had enough of seeing himself dressed in tight trousers and bright summer colours. He changed into his boxers (taken from a rucksack enchanted to hold all of his possessions) and promptly fell asleep, still exhausted from the Apparation earlier in the day.

A loud knocking brought him back to the world of the conscious, accompanied with a shrill voice. "London, come on! We need to start your tutoring right away!" The unnecessary emphasise on the "right" would have anyone else believe that the girl was genuinely happy about the situation. He groaned and sat up, looking around the room for clothes of some sort. In retrospect, he thought he probably shouldn't have taken a mid-day nap.

"Come on ..." He hesitated to remember the girl's name, he was sure the people at the Ministry had included her in the research. "Maddie!" He was rather pleased with himself until he noticed he was still him.

"London? Is there a boy in there?" Shock, apprehension and that bizarre voice girls seem to acquire when they talk about relationships was upon Madeline. He silently cursed himself as he reached for the ring, slipping off his boxers and putting on the brown dress-top and white legging combination he remembered he had been careful to lay out in its place. He wasn't sure he'd ever get used to having to wear girl's underwear but he was told he couldn't be too careful. The Ministry were definitely just trying to embarrass him.

"Alohomora."

"No, no boy. Why Maddie, you expecting one?" His triumphant anti-reveal had fallen in his face as he realised he had used a line far too smart for London Tipton. He could feel the panicked, searching and suspicious look from Madeline as she entered the room. He noted that she had changed clothing, sporting a short denim skirt and green t-shirt, topped with a white cardigan. All he could wonder was why she had done so; he found her uniform rather flattered her. Although, he had to wonder why a fifteen year old had such a regular job already.

She was searching around the room and she was getting uncomfortably close to the rucksack. It didn't exactly blend in with the ridiculously over-the-top surroundings of the room. He quashed a sound that would have betrayed his discomfort and casually strolled towards her, a carefully innocent and questioning expression upon his face.

"Maddie, what are you doing?"

She seemed to remember "London" was still in the room and straightened up, just seconds from opening the rucksack. He was certain she wasn't convinced and made a mental note to hide the rucksack later.

"Nothing London. Let's just get to studying Italy."

Italy? Why would he need to study Italy? He'd gotten all the information he needed on that when he'd dated those Italian twins, Gratian and Graziana. Sighing over-exaggeratedly in a manner he thought was convincing, he moved towards the bright pink sofa and opened up the laptop that was resting on it. He pretended to be distracted by the large green cushion behind him when in fact he was observing Madeline again. She was snooping around in the bedroom to the left of him. No doubt she was taking in the fact that the covers were in disarray. This certainly wasn't the image he wanted to paint for London or himself for that matter. He would most definitely not bed a girl like London Tipton.

He felt there was little he could do to stop her and he couldn't recall having left any evidence over there, so he resolved to search the muggle internet in pretence of study or shopping or something. Just as he had thought this, he saw her extract his boxer shorts from the bed. He blushed scarlet, greatly wishing he had had the presence of mind to relocate those before letting this girl into the room(s). All he could do now was fervently hope she would drop the matter and not pursue it.

"Where is he?" Madeline's voice reached an excited pitch. "Do I know him? He said my name earlier so I must know him. Who is he?" Her babbling reached its climax as she walked over to "London" with wide-eyes. "London... Did you really...?"

The redness hadn't left his face and it was highly unlikely to any time soon. He genuinely had no idea how he would remedy the situation. There was no desire within him to cast London the role of promiscuousness because there was no way he was coming close to acting that out. It was odd enough to have this body, there wasn't a chance he was going to use it for that. However, it wasn't like he could tell her the truth. He'd been explicitly told not to tell a single muggle of his predicament.

"Did I really what Maddie?"

He ramped up London's stupidity in a hopeless bid to stall the inevitable. In doing so, he had made Madeline blush and it looked rather appealing on her. He needed to stay focused! If he got distracted by her then there was little chance he'd be able to come up with an ingenious lie.

"Whose boxers are these?"

Damn. All he could do was stare at her stupidly, which he supposed remained in character but he couldn't think of anything to say. If he just said "Don't know", then she'd probably assume that to mean London had been very "active".

"They're mine. Could you put them down, it's really unnerving that you've seen them, never mind the fact you're touching them."

It was something he really didn't want to do but when the tracks can't be covered, the case is generally unravelled. He would really have to get better at covering for himself. Better yet, he could stop slipping up. At least he could partially blame the Ministry for this, it was their fault this girl was involved with him in the first place.

"Yours? But...huh?"

If it weren't for the fact that he was in dire straits, the fact that he had made an obviously fairly intelligent girl speechless would make him proud. As it was, he was trying to decide what to do next. He could still cover this with a bad lie. Maybe he could convince her that London secretly liked cross-dressing? He wasn't sure how well that would work. He audibly sighed as Maddie sat down in the ridiculous green armchair, her confusion still apparent on her face but her arms set in a manner that told him no lies would pass. How was he going to do this?

"Madeline...Maddie...I... You see..." He was finding it rather difficult to get started.

Madeline stood up rather quickly. "I have to get downstairs, he's probably there already."

Her resolve seemed to have weakened and he watched gratefully as she disappeared out of the suite to meet some mystery man. He wasn't certain what had unnerved her more, his underwear (which he was now moving to the rucksack) or London's sudden gain of intelligence. While it was a lucky escape, he wasn't about to look this gift in the mouth and he resolved to make her believe she had imagined this encounter. He hid the rucksack of his belongings under the bed and began to contemplate how best to initiate his plan. At some point in his contemplation, he fell asleep.

He finally emerged from his room the next day, wearing what he personally thought to be an abominable amount of pink. It was adequate for London however and he did see the humorous side of the bright pink beret with matching scarf. When he emerged from the elevator once more, he cursed the proximity to the "candy counter". He had decided to act like everything was normal (or normal for the situation of being London) so he walked up behind Madeline and gave a loud:

"Hey!"

Madeline seemed surprised but she was clearly distracted and didn't treat him with any suspicion. He thought he was off to a pretty good start.

"Hey London! I got a date with Lance, the lifeguard!"

He almost snorted. What kind of name was Lance the Lifeguard? It sounded like it was from a child's television show! He suppressed his urge to laugh and silently thanked Lance the Lifeguard for showing up and providing the perfect distraction for Madeline. Eventually, he remembered he was supposed to be conversing. In reality, it had only been a split second since her comment but it felt like it had been longer.

"So, what are you gonna wear?"

"I dunno, jeans?"

He cringed inwardly. He knew exactly what his counterpart should say in this situation and exactly how this conversation was going to end.

"Why don't you wear a sack over your head that says loser? Come on, let's go to the boutique."

There was only a small problem with this idea. He didn't actually know where the boutique was. They wondered around the streets of Boston for awhile until Madeline's patience finally wore thin.

"London, how do you manage to get lost going to a place you go to all the time?"

"I don't normally shop in Boston. I normally get Daddy to send me a jet to take me to places that sell good clothes. You can settle for poor people clothes though."

He was really rather pleased with himself. He was getting better at playing this role.

"London, you go to the boutique every week, I've walked passed with the dogs and seen you in the window."

It really would have been nice if he had some of the memories these people had of London.

"No you haven't."

The beneficially part of being a stupid girl was that he could argue against the inarguable and it wouldn't seem out of place.

"London, are you okay? You've been acting pretty strange lately. I mean, first the guy's underwear and now this."

Madeline's facial expressions went from confused to determined fairly quickly. She stopped in the middle of the street and stared at London point-blank. She seemed to think for a minute and then she softened a little.

"London, I know that maybe this isn't the sort of thing you can talk to your rich friends about but I'll be happy to listen. I'm here for you."

Madeline had put her hand on his shoulder and he tried to ignore how comfortable he actually was with the gesture. He wasn't generally one for letting people touch him. Was the Polyjuice doing something to his brain? He glanced down and twisted his foot at odd angles.

"It's...it's nothing. We've been out here for ages and I'm bored! We can go back to the hotel, you can wear your own poor people clothes."

He had almost broken! That was the second time he had almost told this girl all about the wizarding world and his predicament. He really needed some self-control.

He didn't care if it was uncharacteristic at this point, he hurried back (as fast as anyone can hurry in those ridiculous shoes) with Madeline barely keeping pace and rushed into his room. He was so stirred up that he cast the locking spell wordlessly.

He stripped down and threw off the ring. He changed into a red shirt and some of his own jeans, throwing himself on the bed once he was finished. Why couldn't he seem to keep his mouth shut around that girl? Why was it he had to keep ending up in her company?

He spent the next couple of hours toying with various spells and rummaging through his belongings whilst sat on the overly garish bed. He almost hugged one of his textbooks he was finding this so hard. How could the ministry expect him to do this for a year, possibly longer? "London's" body made him feel wrong and mentally discomfited. The situation was still failing to make any sense to him and he just wished he could go back to school. He never was a boy who was particularly fond of studying but now he would trade almost anything to just go back to his normal life.

When knocking came at his door after his maudlin reflection , he jumped. He heard the door slowly start opening and he realised too late that he hadn't cast the locking spell earlier, he had just given himself too much credit. He decided that he didn't have nearly enough time to change clothes and frantically searched for the ring, only just slipping it on his finger as he heard the door close. "London?" Madeline's inquisitive voice carried through and he had no time to plan his actions. He ran through to the other room with exaggerated vigour and ambushed the girl, hoping to distracted her from the clothes that was now hanging off of his slim frame.

"So, how'd it go with the lifeguard?"

Madeline gave a subtle double-take but her focus was elsewhere. "Well..." He could see she was indecisive about whether she was going to pursue the distraction-topic or confront him. He - naturally - did what he could to nudge her in the correct direction.

"What's the matter? Didn't he love your outfit?" This exchange seemed to be going smoothly but he was still incredibly nervous.

"Yeah, but... I don't think it's going to work."

He had to encourage this match! That moronically named Lance was the greatest distraction he had for her. "Why not?" The concern he poured into his voice was not remotely feigned. He thought perhaps he should reel it in a little. "He loved your outfit."

"But I didn't like him."

She didn't like him! Of course she didn't like him! He should have known. With a name like Lance the Lifeguard, what chance was there? Why had she been so enthusiastic in the first place? He had to test whether there was a chance of salvaging Madeline's relationship. He didn't have any other distractions for her and she was somewhat of a liability.

"Didn't you like his outfit?"

He had to navigate his way, in the most London-esque manner, to finding out the problem so he could try and fix it. He wondered when playing matchmaker became a part of his cover. At least he seemed to be able to keep up his fa├žade most of the time. Madeline's face was astounded with the sheer stupidity of the girl in front of her. He suppressed a self-congratulatory smirk.

"London, it's not all about outfits. It's about the people inside them."

Condescension contorted Madeline's features unflatteringly. He would otherwise sympathise with such a reaction to such utter stupidity but he was getting impatient to find out what he could about what passed between Madeline and the lifeguard. There was also the matter of the meaningful look Madeline had cast him when she mentioned clothes. He wasn't equipped to make up excuses for himself. He found himself frustrated as he tried to balance too many things at once and just relied on a simple "Huh?"

Madeline looked exasperated and turned from him. In the few moments this took, panic almost seized his mind. Was she going to change the subject? He really wasn't capable of thinking on his feet at the moment.

"He's really nice but..." He had to stop himself from taking an apprehensive breath in the pause as he followed Madeline to the pink sofa. He subconsciously copied her as they sat, awaiting what she would say.

"All he can talk about is water! Okay? Swimming in water, diving in water, splashing water, salt water versus fresh water. After talking to him for an hour, I had to go so bad!"

He mentally breathed a sigh of relief. The crisis seemed to have been averted for now. Now he could focus on the matter at hand. Madeline's mobile phone rang and he noted with surprise that she kept it in her sock. Now that he thought about it, the uniform didn't seem to have any pockets.

"Oh no! It's him."

The mobile phone found itself flying through the air and landing on a green armchair which matched the cushions behind them. He didn't have much time to ponder on his disgust with his living quarters as Madeline moved towards him and almost sat on him. This was a less than ideal situation. He had to get her to move without seeming unusual. If his being unsettled was conveyed in his words, then there was little he could do about that. She was far too close for comfort.

"Dump him, dump him like last month's shoes."

All things considered, he thought he had done quite well. He even remembered to put in Londonism. He wasn't sure he was completely for the idea of Madeline ending her potential relationship before it began but he could hope she'd find another one. It had dawned on him that if this relationship continued, Madeline might spend more time around him - expecting advice - as opposed to less. Most importantly, his short term goal had been achieved. She had moved away and was now facing him.

"I don't want to hurt him."

This relationship clearly wasn't going to work and, more importantly, it wasn't going to serve as the distraction he needed. He had to convince her to get rid of the boy before he spent his days as London constantly tried to fix a relationship that just wouldn't work. Before he constantly spent all his time around Madeline.

"Oh, so you're just going to marry him and live poolside with a bunch of lifeguard babies?"

He had only just managed to make that last remark London-like. He was aware of the situation he was in and he had to fix it. This Lance fellow was a problem now, he couldn't care in the slightest how he made the boy seem. The disgust on Madeline's face was a comfort at least. He wasn't ruining this completely.

"You're right, I gotta end this."

Madeline dashed towards the mobile phone and he allowed himself the congratulatory smirk. He seemed to have a talent for manipulating people. It did leave an unusual sour taste in his mouth. It bothered him a little that he was manipulating Madeline, as she had put her trust in him - in London - so quickly and without any real reason. Usually, this would be another aspect that would boost his ego, but it only seemed to make him feel uncomfortable. He was clearly thinking too much. He didn't need to develop a conscience now. He'd survived perfectly fine without one and he needed to survive. That was the reason for this ridiculous situation he was in now.

"Hi Lance."

Madeline was awkward and had her hand curled around the bottom of her shirt. She looked nervous. Was she interested in this boy or wasn't she? She seemed quite clearly determined not to be with him a few moments ago and now she seemed unsure. This was inconvenient. He followed her around, trying to hear what the Lance boy was saying in a - if he was honest - somewhat preposterous manner.

"Oh, I miss you too."

She was a giggling schoolgirl. She was an awkward giggling schoolgirl and he had to start thinking of reasons to keep her from coming to him with all her relationship advice because this clearly was not going to end in her breaking off her dalliance with the boy. Madeline was starting to become aware of his proximity but she didn't try to stop him, which was good. This might help with those plans. He might even annoy her enough to actually break-up with him.

"Oh really?" Madeline moved her mobile phone to her neck and drew his attention. "Apparently the Ph balance in the pool is perfect."

He made a "tsk" and looked unimpressed, meanwhile his hopes were gathering. Hopefully this unimpressive display would remind Madeline why she was leaving the boy. The situation was interrupted somewhat by the doorbell ringing. He'd been here all of two days. He definitely didn't invite someone here; he was being as anti-social as the situation allowed. He realised he couldn't really ignore the door and ran exaggeratedly over to it. This would be more people to explain the oversized men's clothes to. He'd almost forgotten about them and actively hesitated before opening the door. He couldn't go and change clothes without drawing Madeline's attention toward his apparel again.

He opened the door to a surprisingly calm looking Moseby. The man had looked stressed every time he'd seen him over the last two days. Although, there had been rather a lot of noisy children running around. Maybe they'd finally left? He missed having the space to move around; he could completely understand Moseby's relief in that scenario.

"London, how's the studying going?"

He didn't miss the surprised look at his apparel. He couldn't handle multiple situations at once and he couldn't have attention drawn back onto his clothes again.

"Fabulous, thanks for checking in."

He attempted to close the door and held onto the hope that Moseby would just leave. The man was the manager of this hotel, surely he had other things to be doing. He didn't know whether it was his clothes, the fact that he may have sounded suspicious or if Moseby had seen Madeline through the door. Whatever it was, Moseby wasn't leaving.

"Okay."

Moseby had determination in his voice as he blocked the door and made his way into the room. He walked straight passed him and observed Madeline, just catching the line, "Yes, yes, I think Chlorine is a beautiful name for a girl." While it wouldn't get him to leave, at least he was distracted. He would take what he would get.

"Is there any teaching going on here at all?"

Moseby seemed so exasperated. He could possibly play this to his advantage. Perhaps he could bring out the annoyed boss in Moseby and rid himself of both of them.

"Oh, of course. I'm teaching Maddie valuable life skills."

"But she is supposed to be tutoring you! You're father said if you flunk out again, he's sending you to parochial school."

Oh, was this was this was about? The Ministry obviously decided he wasn't going to do enough mixing on his own so they were going to force him to actually go to a proper Muggle school. The "private" school he was going to gave him ample opportunity to simply avoid the classes and the people. He had a feeling this other school would not afford him the same chances. A feeling of dread took over.

"Do you mean like where Maddie goes?"

Moseby's satisfied nod almost made him want to strangle him. Why? Why would they push him to be around her even more? He couldn't tell whether they were being deliberately trying or if they hadn't considered how stupid they were being. He couldn't spend even more hours with this girl. She could ruin everything. He realised Moseby had stepped back. He seemed to be expecting more of a reaction. He gasped.

"I'll have to wear a uniform?!"

Moseby gave another smug "Mhmm" and made to leave. He let it happen. Madeline was coming off of the phone, he had to fix this situation. Maybe he just had to prove he was mixing with this one girl. Maybe the Muggle school really was only a threat.

"London?"

Moseby hadn't left. "Why are you wearing that?

Oh no. He really wasn't prepared for this. He wasn't even able to keep the panic off of his face and it just made Moseby more curious.

"Well?"

"I..."

"She's wearing it because she kept getting distracted by her outfit when I was trying to get her to study. I found her the baggiest, most unappealing clothes so that she'd focus."

Madeline was by his side and... defending him? He wasn't sure why this was happening but he had to admire the girl's quick thinking. Moseby even looked impressed.

"She wasn't going to admit to that, she's pretty disgusted that she's wearing them. You know London and clothes. She wasn't going to let you in earlier, she was so ashamed to be seen in them."

So, she'd noticed him hesitating. He'd hoped she'd been distracted by her phone call.

"Well then, in that case, keep up the good work Maddie."

The door closed behind a grinning Mr Moseby and he breathed a sigh of relief. Then he turned to Madeline who gave him a reassuring smile and then gestured towards her phone, which was back on the green chair. He didn't know exactly what had just happened but maybe it was for the best that Madeline didn't let him question her. It probably wouldn't have led anywhere productive.

"I can't believe I just made another date with him!"

He couldn't either. He also was having problems getting back into this conversation. It felt far too much like a performance after what had just happened. Well, more of a performance than normal.

"I can't believe I might have to wear plaid!"

"Teach me to be mean!"

"Teach me to be smart!"

They both cried "Help me!" in unison. This time, the syncing had been unintentional. Similarly, the hug that followed the encounter had not been part of his plan. It started as a desperate clutch of two girls in peril but he found himself turning to face her, making it a proper hug. Even though she hadn't known the situation, Madeline had covered for him. He'd never really had a friend willing to do that. Well, he supposed he still didn't. Madeline was friends with who she thought London was. Nonetheless, the feeling of gratitude was new. He muttered a "thank you" into her shoulder. He felt rather than saw Madeline smile. "Don't mention it."

The following day came and he needed to seek out Madeline. He had actually gone to one of the Muggle classes and applied what Madeline had taught him. Hopefully, this would cease his need to have her as a tutor. She wasn't just observant, she was growing on him. He couldn't risk getting to close to anyone lest he become complacent. As he walked into the foyer of the hotel, he spotted Madeline in front of her workplace.

"Maddie, I have good news!"

"So do I!"

"Me first! I got a C+ in Maths."

Madeline's face dropped. He could understand but the only stipulation was that he had to pass. If he was entirely honest with himself, he didn't have to try too hard to ensure he didn't get a high grade. Muggle subjects were completely different from what he was used to. He'd assumed they'd be simple.

"That's the good news?"

"Yeah, thanks to you. I passed."

The gratitude from the previous day managed to slip into his voice. While London may have been referring to the Maths, he was just suddenly made aware of the girl's unwarranted dedication to him. She was willing to put in genuine effort to teach an exasperating pupil, she was willing to cover his back for no apparent reason and without knowing what she was covering for. Nothing suggested that she was friends with London in the prefabricated life that he hadn't lived. She just seemed to be a genuinely good person. He couldn't bring himself to care about forming attachments at the moment. The general atmosphere was clouding his judgment. The realisation of that actually pulled him back to himself. He'd been stood there staring at Madeline with a fond look on his face. What was he doing? It had been three days and he was already ruining things! Of course he should care about forming attachments!

"My Daddy got me a plasma screen TV!"

Madeline had looked both confused and touched during his previous slip up but now she wore a look of understanding. It was too much to hope that Madeline was just going to ignore the previous gesture. She was going to pick up on the gratitude and it would bond them further. He was an idiot.

"Oh. When I get an A+, all I get is an extra slice of pie."

At least she wasn't going to address it. He could just about manage if she was going to be discrete. A relationship of silent communication surely couldn't communicate what he had to keep to himself. He had to keep this conversation moving. Madeline had shown her willingness to move on, he had to follow suit.

"Is that your good news?"

"No, no, no! I took your advice and broke up with Lance. I was blunt, I was abrupt and - if I say so myself - I was pretty darn mean."

Ah, yes. The lifeguard. Well, that was good news. He wouldn't have to have her constantly pestering him, she wouldn't have to tutor him. He could go back to his original plan of avoiding her.

"So, I learned something from you and you learned something from me?"

The fondness was creeping back up just as he was faced with the prospect of not having to see her very often. He had to express it somehow and that was his best effort. He had learned something from her. He wasn't sure he liked it, but he seemed to have developed some new tendencies. He wasn't someone who trusted easily and he found himself trusting this girl. That wasn't really a good thing in this situation but it was something he'd never really thought himself capable of. He wasn't sure whatever he'd taught her was a good thing either but she seemed happy about the outcome and he found himself glad he had been able to help her. This girl was going to be his undoing, she was going to cause him so many problems.

"Yeah! And now you have a plasma TV and... I don't have a boyfriend."

He struggled with the urge to comfort her but decided that not only was it not in his best interest, it also wasn't keeping character. He had to get back to trying to act as London, instead of being a mess of emotion.

"So, everybody's happy!"

He made a loud screeching noise and brought back the exaggerated run as he made his way to the elevator. It was easy to do because he still wasn't fully confident in heels. He collapsed against the back wall of the elevator, which had conveniently been on the right floor. How was he supposed to keep this up?


A/N

There was originally better spacing on the summary. I tried to fix it but I'm somewhat new to posting on this site.
I'm not sure this is necessary, what with this being a fanfiction website but I obviously don't own anything from the Harry Potter or Suite Life franchises. Anything you recognise isn't mine.

I can't promise regular updates, sadly. I'm pretty busy at the moment with upcoming exams but I promise you that I'm not planning on abandoning the story. However long it may take, this will continue. I have some pretty big ideas for this.