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He’d found it a little strange that Will had readily agreed with Kyle’s story about being cursed. Cursed into being ugly, hideous. Made to look like a monster on the outside. Will never asked for proof. Never asked to “see” what Kyle meant.

He’d over heard Zola and Will talking one night.

“It was a really bad accident, wasn’t it?” Will had asked.

Zola had been moving around the room, tidying or something. But she stopped at Will’s question. Kyle knew Zola had explained what had really happened. He’d only been in the other room.

He couldn’t really blame Will for not believing. It wasn’t the easiest story to swallow after all. Who believed in witches and curses and magic? It was crazy talk. Nonsense.

“Yes,” Zola finally answered and went back to whatever she had been doing. “It was a very terrible accident. Left his body just as scared as his soul. Some of them, they healed. But some... some will never heal.”

Kyle remained rooted to the stair. He had never thought about why some of the gruesome marks on his body were a mix between scar tissue and open, half healed wounds. Kendra had said that he now looked on the outside, exactly how he looked on the inside. Zola’s explanation of his body reflecting his soul was a lot of crap, but it made some kind of sense in the back of his mind as well.

There was silence from the room. Not the hard silences that he’d gotten from his father when they had still been visiting doctors all across the state. It was something softer, something more thoughtful then that.

“I assumed as much,” Will replied. “I don’t really understand how a witch and curses work into all of it however...”

Kyle held his breath, waiting to hear what kind of rationalization Zola gave to that statement. She wasn’t lying to Will. Zola didn’t lie. At least, Kyle had never heard her utter one in all the time he’d known her. Now she was just explaining things in a way that Will could understand. Something that would make more sense to the other man that didn’t involve magic and witches and spells. Those belonged in story books and fairy tales.

“He was a handsome boy,” Zola started. And Kyle heard her pull out a chair and sit. “It was a woman who did that to him. Left him scared and wounded as he is. She took away that beauty he had been, and left him without the stability of what he had known. She told him... told him that if he could find someone who loved him, truly loved him, then how he looks wouldn’t matter.”

“She went to see him after the accident and didn’t even apologize to him?” Will demanded, outrage colouring his voice.

Something twisted in Kyle’s stomach to hear that tone. Will was outraged on his behalf. Angered by what Kendra the Witch had said to him. No one had ever really been outraged on his behalf before. No one had cared enough to be. Except possibly Zola, but Kyle hadn’t let her express it.

“This is what Kyle says she told him,” Zola replied evenly. Neither confirming nor denying Will’s mistaken belief in an accident.

“And there was nothing the doctors could do to help him heal?” Will asked next. “Skin grafts to cover worst of the wounds? I know he comes from money. The ridiculous sum his father is paying me to catch up on my reading proves that much. Surely, his father would have tried?”

“Oh, yes,” Zola sighed. “His father tried. Called and visited doctors all over. They all said the same thing. Nothing they could do. Nothing they tried would take, and it would leave him more devastated, his father more furious. But Kyle, he tried to cover the wounds.”

“What do you mean?” Will’s question was soft and thoughtful, and just a little concerned.

“Tattoos,” Zola explained. “They cover some of the scars, draw attention away from them. A different story written over the truth.”

Will laughed, a harsh, unhappy sound. “Bet that went over well with his father.”

“His father did not care enough to see that his son was injured in the first place,” Zola stated.

Silence fell again. And Kyle wasn’t sure what to think any more. Zola’s understanding, her compassion, was all alien to him. She believed Kyle when he’d explained what had happened. Believed in him in a way that his own father hadn’t. His father hadn’t cared who or what had disfigured him, only that his son be returned back into a state of being that was acceptable in his world view.

Zola hadn’t cared one way or another. But she had listened... she’d listened and believed him. And now she was explaining everything to Will in a way the other man could understand. And it shocked Kyle how much he wanted Will to understand, even if he didn’t really believe.

Kyle had backed up a single stair, and then another. Carefully retreating from the silent room.