Chapter 4: Secrets Revealed
This can't be happening! After all we've gone through the past few hours, now we seem to be caught. I doubt Max can think of another crazy scheme to get us out of this mess. No, it's over for us now. We've lost! Lost everything!
I look at Max in despair and realize he doesn't know what to do either.
"B-b-boyfriend?" he stutters. "What boyfriend?"
"This one." Professor Crumbs snaps his fingers.
Instantly I feel strange things happen to my body for the second time today. And once again I'm being transformed, but this time to my real self. Yes, I'm no longer Tyreesha Martin. I've changed back into Cody Martin.
Apparently Professor Crumbs has more wizard talents than my Max. He didn't even have to use a wand, he just snapped his fingers. And compared to when Max does the same spell, it didn't hurt at all. I hope sometime in the future Max will be as skilled a wizard as this guy is. If there's even a future for us now…
"So, I guess you must be Cody? Glad to see you're alive and well, young man."
I nod, terrified of what will follow.
"But… Professor Crumbs, h-h-how did you know?" Max looks truly defeated right now. He must be debating whether he'll have to give up either magic or me.
"Max, I know everything."
"Really? Everything?" Sounds like my boyfriend can't believe the Professor knew about us all along.
"Actually, no. But I've known about your boyfriend for a quite a long time."
"Seriously? How is that even possible? We've been so careful around adult wizards!" I exclaim. "And last time the Wizard Council visited us, they didn't see through our Tyreesha plan at all."
"Oh yes, no doubt about that, Cody. You two have been hiding your relationship from the Wizard Council very well." He gives us a small smile before continuing. "But as a matter of fact, I found out about the two of you way back when Max went to high school classes on the S.S. Tipton. You know, where he met Tyreesha."
Weird! I swear Professor Crumbs just winked at us when he mentioned Tyreesha. Could it be? Is it possible that he won't punish us?
"You were there?" Max is stunned. Neither of us had any idea that our cover had been blown so long ago.
"Yes. You remember the incident with the penguins?"
At the mention of the penguin incident, Max and I both shudder. How could we ever forget what happened with those penguins?
"When a message about a penguin on board the S.S. Tipton reached the Wizard Council, I decided right away to disguise myself and check out what was going on there." The Professor chuckles. "I also knew a certain Russo was going to school there, so I was expecting weird stuff to happen. But what I saw there was a quite surprise. First of all there were no penguins to be found anymore. However, I suspected Max might have had something to do with that, and naturally I had some questions to ask, so I went looking for him. And when I found him, he appeared to be locked in a very passionate kiss with another boy."
"Yeah, that was me," I mumble and give Max a quick, loving kiss. I know this must be one of the most difficult moments of his life. The least I can do is show him that I support him, that I'm there for my lover! How could I show this better than with a kiss?
"After seeing that, I chose to ask some other students at the sea school about you and this boy you were kissing. Apparently you two were pretty famous there, so everyone knew about the gay couple, Max and Cody. And that was enough proof for me."
Okay, we're officially doomed now − Professor Crumbs does know everything!
"Although I have to admit I was surprised to see a girl here tonight instead of Cody. For awhile I did believe you were straight after all, up until Tyreesha told us you two met on a cruise ship. I knew for sure 'she' was lying, which meant that you and Cody were still together and trying to fool us!"
By the time he's finished, both Max and I are fighting the urge to cry. All is lost. There is no way we can scheme ourselves out of this revelation. It's over I tell you − over!
Yet Professor Crumbs doesn't actually look furious. In fact, he appears to be wearing a supportive smile on his face. But he could just be getting ready to force Max to choose between his partner and his wizard powers − a choice no wizard should have to make!
Before speaking up, Max takes my hand in his to show the old man we belong together, that nothing can break us apart. Even in this pit of total despair, when we both know our life as we know it has ended, he wants to prove how important our love is. I don't think I've ever been more proud of my beautiful boyfriend.
"What will happen to us now, Professor?" he demands. "You can't make me leave Cody!"
"Oh god no! I won't ask that of you! In fact, nothing will happen."
"Nothing?" we both exclaim. "You're not going to punish us?"
Professor Crumbs sighs. "Of course not. Why should I punish you guys for loving each other?"
"But-but, isn't this illegal? Against the Wizard Law?"
"Yes, it is, Max. But I can't do that to you."
"Why? We're breaking the law and you're a member of the Wizard Council." After thinking the worst, my boyfriend seems unable to grasp this surprising turn of events. "Don't you have to enforce the law on us?"
"I probably should, yes, but I'm not going to."
"Okay, I don't get it either," I chime in. "I mean, I'm thrilled you won't turn Max in, but I just don't understand why."
"I have my reasons." The Professor sighs again. "Right… If you guys can keep a secret, maybe I can tell you why I'm supporting you instead of punishing you."
Max and I nod in agreement. Of course we'll keep any secret he's about to share with us. This man just told us he won't blow our cover to the Wizard Council. How could we ever betray him after that?
"Long ago I was just like you were when you met Cody: young, 16 maybe, and very much in love…with Ralph."
"Ralph? But…isn't that a boy's name?"
"Yes, it is. I'm gay, just like you…and Ralph was my boyfriend back then." This alone is enough to make us stare open-mouthed at him.
"We were so much in love, wanted to stay together forever," the Professor continues. "In fact, very much like the two of you. We had spent two wonderful years together as boyfriends until I too had to compete against my siblings to become Family Wizard."
"And they made you break up with Ralph?" Max guesses.
"That's exactly what happened. My parents forced me to choose: give up my wizard powers and go live with my mortal boyfriend. Or give up Ralph and become a great wizard." Again Professor Crumbs sighs in sadness. "At the time, being a wizard meant everything to me. I knew I couldn't give up magic. My life would have been useless without magic! I also loved Ralph very much, but… Well, to make a long story short, I chose magic instead of my boyfriend."
Upon hearing the old professor talk about giving up his boyfriend, Max puts his arms around me and plants a few tender kisses on my neck.
"Needless to say my choice hurt Ralph a lot. It hurt him so much that he told me he never wanted to see me again and he took off like that. At first I thought this was for the best and I convinced myself I'd made the right choice." Tears are forming in Professor Crumbs' eyes by now. "But soon I realized I missed Ralph too much. Nothing else mattered to me anymore, not even my powers that had once been so precious to me. It was at that moment I realized I'd made the wrong choice: I should have chosen love and not my powers."
"So you went to look for him?"
"I did, Cody. And I found Ralph, but he wasn't exactly happy to see me. Quite the opposite, he flat-out refused to talk to me."
"And so you gave up on him?"
"Of course not! I kept on trying to talk to Ralph, to ask him for forgiveness, until he finally gave in and agreed to listen. I told him I was prepared to show him how much I loved him and that I would give up everything for him, but he wouldn't believe me. He said I'd hurt him so badly and so deeply that he could never trust me again. Then he turned his back on me and left."
"Oh Professor, I feel so bad for you! I never knew…" Max exclaims. "I guess you never saw him again?"
"Not exactly. When Ralph was walking away from me − from his old life − I hadn't noticed he was walking onto a bridge. He stopped right in the middle, looked me in the eyes and…jumped."
Max and I are speechless. It's such a heart-breaking story: I can't believe Professor Crumbs had to go through that much agony.
"He died almost instantly. Ralph would rather die than to live with the pain I caused him." At this point the old man is sobbing outright. I guess old wounds like these can never fully heal.
"I could never forgive myself for what happened. After all, it was me who made the wrong choice and drove the love of my life to killing himself. Devastated as I was, I buried myself in magic, the only thing I had left, learning as many spells as I could. I was determined to become greatest wizard ever but I've never been able to love anyone again. Ralph was my one true love, there never was and never will be anyone else."
By the time he's finished with his story we're both blinking away tears. How could we have expected to hear such a tragic story? Poor Professor Crumbs!
"When I saw you and Cody on that cruise ship, right away I recognized myself and Ralph in you two. And I knew soon you would have to go through the same ordeal as I had to: choosing between magic and true love. There was no way the homophobic Wizard Council would accept Cody as your life partner. Nothing would change their minds: you were doomed to choose, just like I was."
Professor Crumbs wipes his eyes with a handkerchief. "At least you had the guts to do what I never could. You actually thought up a scheme to fool the Council so that you and your boyfriend could stay together and you could still be a full wizard. Such a great plan, Ralph would have loved it. So of course you guys have my support. You can't let them get to you like they got to me!"
Finally everything that happened tonight is starting to make sense. This must be why Professor Crumbs' piercing stare gave me the creeps. He wasn't trying to trick us into giving away our secret. No, I think he was actually trying to make sure the other wizards didn't pick up on us as well. I guess we really owe a lot to the old Professor.
I feel really badly for him, though. I can't imagine what he had to go through by losing his boyfriend twice. First thanks to the homophobic Wizard Council and a second time to guilt. It must be terrible for the old man to live with such gut-wrenching guilt. No wonder he's never been able love anyone else after what happened with Ralph.
All of this makes me realize that Max and I really are lucky that we still can be together, thanks to the brilliant Tyreesha plan. I can't imagine what our lives would be like if the Wizard Council enforced a break-up on us, if we would ever get over each other. Those guys can genuinely destroy a person's soul. They are the ones responsible for Ralph's death and Professor Crumbs' pain, not the Professor himself.
That doesn't help him now, though. For him everything was lost decades ago.
Max puts his arm sympathetically around the Professor. Ever since we started dating, Max has become much more sensitive to people crying. Maybe that's my influence?
"I'm sorry," apologizes Professor, slightly shame-faced. "I guess my emotions got the best of me. I should be leaving now anyway. There is a place I need to see right now."
The Wizard Council member must want to go to the place where his boyfriend lies, forever. It's obvious he needs some time alone now.
"That's alright, Professor," Max says. "Thanks again for keeping Cody and me a secret from the Wizard Council. And thank you for you support, that really means a lot for us."
Before the old wizard steps out of the door, he turns around to us to give us one last piece of advice.
"Don't make the same mistake I did, Max. Never put anything above Cody and hold on to him. He really loves you."
"Don't worry, Professor, I know he does. Nothing in my life will ever be more important than Cody."
I guess that was what Professor needed to hear, because he smiles a small, confident smile and leaves for his boyfriend's final resting place.
And for us it's time to return to my twin brother who has been waiting for us in our living room all this time, playing videogames, apparently.
"Zack! You didn't break my high score, did you?" I exclaim when I see him playing our favourite game.
"You know, Cody, it's hard not to beat your score. A six-year-old could do that," Zack chuckles. "Hee, you're you again, bro!"
"Yep, I got transformed again. Much better, don't you think?"
"Definitely! The image of you as a girl was way too disturbing for me."
"Yeah, well I was the one who actually had to be a girl. That's much worse." Suddenly I see Max suspiciously staring at us. "Oh my god, honey! I couldn't help it, but I had to tell Zack about you being a wizard. I'm so sorry!"
"I figured as much. But don't worry, Cody. It's OK. He is your twin brother after all. And I'm sure Zack can keep a secret and won't go asking for all kinds of magic favours, right, Zack?"
"Of course not! I promised Cody I wouldn't bother you with that, buddy," My brother says as he slings an arm around my boyfriend in a friendly hug.
"But hey, it's getting late, I should be going. You still on for tomorrow, Cody?"
"Sure thing. Around eleven at your apartment?"
"More like elevenish, if that's OK with you?"
"Yeah, that's alright. See you tomorrow!"
With Zack's departure, the last guest from tonight's dinner "party" has finally left our house. For Max, that's the sign to take me into his arms and brush his lips over mine in a series of sweet kisses. I really love it when he does that. These small moments with Max always feel like the most caring ones. And I just love the closeness of our bodies of course.
"So, what was that all about? You're not gonna be home tomorrow, sweetie?"
"No, Zack said he needs to talk to me. About Bailey I guess." I sigh and hope Zack hasn't ruined his future with Bailey. They are such a good couple, after all. Smart, sensible Bailey is exactly the kind of girl my mischievous twin brother needs. "I hope you're not mad that he didn't ask you to come along?"
"Of course not. Twins, eh?" He winks at me.
"You know, I can't believe we managed to survive tonight unscathed," I marvel.
"I know! When Crumbs called me your boyfriend I thought we were doomed for sure!" Max wipes away a tear. "But what he told us about him and his boyfriend was really heart wrenching. It's so sad he had to go through that!"
"Yeah…I hope that will never happen to us."
"It won't. I won't let anyone hurt you!" My lover kisses my cheek tenderly to illustrate his statement.
"Really? I was under the impression you'd killed me off during dinner," I smirk.
"Hmm, sorry about that. I had to think really fast and that was the only possible explanation I could think of."
"It's alright, Maxie. I'm dying to hear what you told the wizards, though!"
"Funny you should say that, Cody. But are you sure? It's not a pretty story at all."
"I know, but still…I want to know how my genius boyfriend saved us," I explain, returning the kiss.
"Alright then. It was a dark November night and you were in one of the more dangerous parts of Boston, tutoring underprivileged children. That night Zack was going to pick you up in his truck, so you two could go to a party together."
I have to say I like the idea of tutoring underprivileged children: it's so me!
"But when you walked out of the building to Zack's truck, you suddenly got hit by a random gunshot. You know in those parts of Boston gunfights break out a lot."
"Anyway, Zack saw the whole thing happening right in front of him. He ran straight to you and tried to stop the bleeding. Sadly enough it was too late for that. There was nothing Zack could do and you died in his arms."
"That's terrible! Poor Zack!"
"Yeah, he suffered a lot after your death, ending up traumatized for the rest of his life. And that's the reason Zack was so confused and mixed up Tyreesha with his poor dead brother Cody."
"That was so sad!" In fact, I'm trying to stop myself from tearing up. I guess it's a bit silly to cry over a fake death story about yourself. "It does explain why the four wizards were so quiet when we returned and why they were staring at Zack like that. You really are brilliant, Max! I never would have thought of such a thing."
I have to admit I'm more than a little proud of my boyfriend! He can adapt to any situation and step up to save the day. It's thanks to that quality that he won the Wizard Competition.
Before I can heap more compliments on my amazing boyfriend, he pulls me in for a very passionate kiss − the kiss we were supposed to have hours ago is finally happening.
"Oh god, Max! I love you so much!" I pull away to look at his face. "I'm so glad we managed to fool those crusty old homophobes again. I wouldn't know what to do without you!"
"Me neither, Cody. Without you my life would be so empty! Now get back here and kiss me, gorgeous!"
"Mmmh, Max, I think you should give me my birthday present again," I say with seductive eyes as I see Max's pop in eagerness.
Author's Notes: After 4 chapters we reached the end of this story. Only 1 more than planned this time! This chapter is indeed a bit sadder than the previous 3, but life isn't full of just funny stuff.
I have a quick note concerning Professor Crumbs. As many of you know, he is based on Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter. For this AU I chose to make them even more alike by making Crumbs gay and losing his boyfriend. Just like Dumbledore…
The next story I'll be writing will be the 3rd story in this AU about Max & Cody as a couple. I can't give away much, but the story will go further where this one left off. Be on the lookout for it somewhere in the near future.
And I want to end this A/N with thanking an amazing person: a very nice girl and a very good editor/proofreader: Elianna22. Thank you, Ellie!