So, uh, I felt like updating. For the first time in, *checks*, more than two months. Ahh! I'm so very sorry about that...

I don't own either HP or the Outsiders. This chapter is mostly to do with the Outsiders characters, though. Just a heads-up.

The next couple of weeks felt like all but a dream. Not a single morning did I wake up not wondering whether or not everything that had happened recently was real. Only after rereading both of those letters with the thick, coarser than normal paper with the fancy writing would I start to believe that I hadn't simply imagined everything.

Then again, maybe I did, and today was just another part of the extended fantasy. If it was, though, I'd rather not wake up.

So I squeezed my eyes shut tighter, fighting for a few more minutes of sleep. Just as I almost succeeded...

"Up and at' em, Pony!" a cheerful voice said loudly. I heard curtains being pulled apart and too-bright sunlight hit me square in the eyes. "The birds are singing and the sun is up and all that good stuff... All that's missing is us, outside to enjoy it all. I mean, what's summer if you stay cooped up inside all day?"

How much more happy-go-lucky could a guy get?

"Soda," I groaned, annoyed enough that my unruly "powers" made the curtains fly back together. Boy, it sure felt good not to have to hide these things anymore. "Cut it out."

"Well, I think you managed to do that well enough without my help..." Soda said, and I finally opened my eyes, grinning. He had an amused expression on his face, one eyebrow slightly higher than the other.

He has still yet to master than trick from Two-Bit, I thought. He's definitely gettin' it, though.

I sighed, a faint smile still on my face, and accepted the inevitable, getting up. I pulled on a t-shirt and a pair of Soda's old cut-off jeans, thinking that soon, very soon, I wouldn't be wearing these clothes anymore.

I thought vaguely that maybe I should start practicing- wearing one of Mom's bathrobes around the house all day to get used to the idea.

Chuckling aloud at the idea, I looked at the calendar again, and there was a nervous-yet-excited jolt in my stomach.

"Well, here we are, your last day here before you go off to some mysterious, far-off boarding school place with a bunch of witches and wizards for the entire year! I hope you'll still be the same ol' Ponyboy when you get back," Soda said, wrinkling his nose a little.

"Not the whole year. I'll be back for the holidays," I said, and ran a comb through my hair without bothering with grease. Being a greaser wouldn't matter soon, anyway. At least I hoped that would be the case.

"Well, it sure will be different without you around all the time," Soda said, his tone a lot less cheery, "Darry'll miss having someone to be annoyed with, that's for sure." He grinned.

"Yep," I said, laughing, "he'll be just miserable at finally having the perfect life. Perfect grades, perfect football, perfect brother, perfect everything."

It stopped being very funny near the end. I think Soda felt it too. We were both quiet for a second, then he said,

"Aw, you know Darry likes having you around as much as I do. He'll miss you a lot when you're gone. He just doesn't show stuff like that. You know him..."

Did I, though? Know him, I mean.

"Right," I said quietly, and went to wash my face and brush my teeth for breakfast.

After a heartier-than-usual breakfast, I was stuffed, and the whole family went out for a game of football. Well, Mom didn't play, she just watched and was on both teams, but the rest of us did. It was our first family outing in a long time.

It wasn't long after that before I realized that everyone- even Darry- was being extra-nice to me today, probably because it was my last day. To be honest, it felt pretty good to be in the spotlight for once. Even my dad was paying attention to me more than usual, and he usually reserves that attention for Darry.

There I go again, ruining a perfectly good mood. Maybe I did need some time away from everyone I knew, from Tulsa even. Maybe that would solve my other problem- the one that wasn't magical- of over-analyzing everything.

Later, after having a picnic lunch of Mom's famous secret-ingredient sandwiches (No one knew what she actually put in there, but I had a feeling that maybe I didn't really wanna know. The sandwiches tasted amazing, though, and that was what mattered.) , I got to choose what we did next and soon we were on our way to a local museum I've wanted to visit for a long while but never had the chance. Then after dinner, to the movies for a double-feature.

During the whole thing, I could tell that Soda was bored to death, but trying not to show it for my sake. I felt bad- these were things nobody else in my family except me enjoyed, and I was the only person having the slightest amount of fun.

As the first show at the theatre ended, I told the rest of them that they were free to go home. I could call someone to pick me up when the movie finished. It was no use making them stay here.

They all tried to hide their enthusiasm at the suggestion, and after countless instructions to be careful, I was finally left alone. I preferred it this way anyway... always have.

It was a lot easier to sink into the second movie without bored people beside me fidgeting every two seconds and whispering about the time. So the movie was over in a flash, and I was soon out of the theatre, at a pay phone, and remembering that I didn't have the slightest amount of money.

Yeah, I don't use my head.

I sighed, starting the long walk home while the sun slowly started to set around me. It was such a perfect place to watch the sunset that I forgot walking home very quickly, and just stood there and watched the colours until the sun had disappeared completely below the horizon.

It was only when it was almost completely dark when I remembered I still needed to get home, and it wasn't the best idea to be a greaser all alone outside when it was dark. It was worse to be the one greaser rumoured to be a freak of nature as well.

It wasn't like I would get jumped or anything, I encouraged myself without a lot of conviction. I was small for eleven and our only rivals- Socs- didn't usually jump kids that were more than a head shorter than them. It would be bad for their reputation, and wouldn't be much of a fight anyway.

But I was an exception. And my family and the gang knew this- that's why "being careful" was a lecture drilled into my head. I could recite my mom's version by heart- it was the one that never changed- but I could never remember when it mattered.

Sometimes I think I get why Steve and Darry don't really like me.

I still had about three and a half blocks to walk when they cornered me. Three tall, massive, and well-muscled Socs with strange expressions on their faces stepped out from an alleyway, seemingly waiting for me.

I backed up from them slowly, wanting to run but too afraid to even yell.

"Well, well, well, if it isn't the greasy little freak we've all heard so many rumours about," one particularly tall one said, making my hair stand on end.

"Why don't we test to see if you really have the "magical abilities" your little friend was raving on about while drunk in a bar."

As if this was a cue, all three held out weapons- a switchblade, a piece of lead pipe, even a heater- and walked almost casually towards me. They held the weapons so loosely you'd think they were just pieces of garbage or something.

They grinned, looking like this was just a game to them. Subconsciously, I knew they wouldn't dare use anything. But my conscious brain was screaming "DANGER!" at me.

"Go ahead, grease. Use you so-called "powers" to get away. We're all watching."

Sorry for the cliffie, but I just couldn't resist. ;) Please review!