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That wasn't entirely accurate. Maggie's appearance had changed in the four months or so that he'd been in Erfworld. The hatchet-faced gargoyle she'd been at first had softened into more feminine features and manners. There were even times lately when he'd noticed her perfume, or her legs. But still.
"Her Signamancy's like a cross between an old lady and a little girl," he said. "I don't really think I want to 'bed' her."
"Oh," said Janis, sitting up a little straighter. "Then, don't."
Parson blinked. That simple, huh? "Yeah, but… how's she going to feel about that?"
"Sad," said Parson. "Resigned. Wounded? He was pretty busted up, I think. Assuming he was telling the truth."
"Oh, he was," said Janis. "The poor man's uprooted."
"Yeah," said Parson. "So with Maggie…"
"Maggie's got her burden to carry, that's all. You didn't give it to her, Parson. And what she feels for you doesn't obligate you to feel or do anything in return. You're the one who's into free will, right? Make sure you don't forget about your own."
Parson was silent for a little while, putting his chin to his chest in thought. "Yeah, but I mean, I've been there. With Bree, in college. The friendzone hurts."
"Yes, well. I guess you know it wasn't easy for Bree either, now," said Janis.
He looked up and narrowed his eyes at her. "But that was on Earth."
"There wasn't any Date-a-mancy there. Or any magic. There wasn't any potion to solve our love problems."
Janis gave him an incredulous look. "Warlord, are you saying that if you'd had a love potion in college, that you would have given it to Bree to make her attracted to you? Isn't that the same thing as… as giving her an order?"
Parson had been shaking his head as she talked. "No. No, not what I mean at all."
"Then what are you saying?"
Parson sighed, cursing his lateral-thinking brain for even coming up with this idea. "I'm saying… that maybe you should mix me up a potion that would make me fall in love with Maggie."
Janis mouth hung open.
Parson shifted on the rug. "Maybe, you know, that would be the easiest thing," he said. "You already said we're like, compatible. So just make me fall in love with her, and everybody'll be happy."
"What did I just say?" exclaimed Janis, her voice going wild and high-pitched. "About holding on to your free will? What did I say, Warlord?"
He smiled wryly. "At least I'd be giving up my free will of my own free will."
She clucked in exasperation. "You know better than that. Or— Oh maybe you don't," she fretted. "Date-a-mancy doesn't work that way, you dear and foolish man. There are potions, yes. Some of them are quite fun. But only the Titans can make you fall in love,"
"Look, I think we've had more than enough to fill one lesson tonight," said Janis, clapping her hands to her knees. "You've got plenty to think about until next time. Don't say anything to Maggie until we can talk about how love actually works. Let's get to the drum circle."