Justin and Alex stood in the lair arguing.
“I can’t believe you failed another test, Alex! How are you even going to manage to graduate? Mom and Dad are going to be so mad,” Justin chided, waving the offending document around.
“Not if they don’t find out,” Alex smirked and pulled her wand out of her boot. “Alakazam - alakazee, make this paper history!”
A mysterious yellow mist began to fill the room.
“Huh. That’s never happened before...”
When the fog cleared, Alex and Justin were standing on a dirt road. It looked like they might be in some sort of alley, but not one that looked anything like the New York City alleys the Russos were familiar with.
“What did you do?” Justin asked, his arms crossed, sounding sort of resigned.
Alex gaped at him. “Are you speaking Latin? Am I understanding Latin?”
“What spell did you use?” Justin demanded. “And why are we standing in a pile of broccoli, homework, and the Christmas sweater Grandma sent you last year?”
Alex glanced down and lifted her foot experimentally. “Huh. So that’s where it goes.”
“Where what goes, Alex?”
Alex looked around shiftily. “I kind of use ‘Alakazam-alakazee’ a lot to get rid of stuff I don’t want.”
Justin chuckled. “I’m surprised Max isn’t here then.”
“I tried,” Alex admitted. “Mr. Laritate, too, but it doesn’t work on people.”
“Then what are we doing here?”
Alex looked at her wand in horror, eyes wide. “Do you think it’s broken?”
“Tell me exactly what the spell is,” Justin instructed.
“Alakazam-alakazee, make this whatever-it-is history,” Alex recited.
“Are you sure you didn’t say ‘take us back in history’ instead?” Justin asked tensely.
“I may have mumbled,” Alex acknowledged.
Alex ignored her brother and started to take a closer look at her surroundings. “Where are we anyway?”
“Judging from the men in skirts who just walked past us and the fact that we are speaking Latin, I’d put my money on ancient Rome,” Justin guessed.
“Cool,” Alex said, pulling two white sheets off of a clothes line. She tossed one to Justin and fashioned the other around herself like a toga. “Let’s go explore!”
“What are you doing?”
Alex gave her brother a withering look. “When in Rome, Justin.”
Justin could only groan at the bad joke and hold his sheet out to Alex for help.
It turned out that it wasn’t that hard to blend in with all of the strangely dressed people in the market.
“The Roman Empire stretched all the way from England to Armenia and did a lot of trading with its territories,” Justin explained. “Which -”
“I’m actually kind of enjoying this adventure,” Alex told him, stroking a piece of silk that hung from a vendor’s stall, “please don’t ruin it with homework.”
Justin huffed. “What was your paper about, anyway?”
“Not Ancient Rome. That would be a little too Magic School Bus for me. Hey, I wonder if the Wizarding World has an actual magic school bus? That would be awesome.”
“Alex,” Justin pressed.
“It was about the Lois and Clark expedition.”
“Lewis and Clark?” Justin corrected.
“Whatever.” Alex had shifted her concentration to elaborate glass jars.
“That paper was like three pages. How could you cover the entire Lewis and Clark expedition that quickly?” Justin asked.
“Apparently that was Mr. Binn’s issue too. It’s not my fault I’m concise. Do you think that guy would take,” Alex rummaged through her pockets, “a Metro card that has $3.75 left on it, a used Kleenex, three pennies, and half a tube of Berry Bold lipgloss for that pretty blue bottle?”
“You can’t buy things in ancient Rome!” Justin exclaimed, flailing wildly.
Alex turned to stare at him. “Why not?”
“You might ruin the space-time continuum!”
“The what?” Justin opened his mouth to explain. “Wait. Nevermind. This is some Captain Jim Bob nerd thing, right? I don’t want to know.”
“Whatever. While you were distracting me, that girl took the one I wanted.” Alex glared at the blond girl making her way away from the stall. “Ohmigosh! Justin! It’s Juliet!”
“We have to go after her!” Justin exclaimed.
“I know,” Alex told him. “Do you think she’s dead yet? Should we warn her?”
“We can’t, Alex. I told you; it could wreck the space-time -”
“Come on! She just turned into that creepy alley!”
They crept eagerly after Juliet until they reached the house she had gone into. Alex confidently raised her hand to knock on the door, but Justin pulled her back.
“Wait! Maybe we shouldn’t.”
Alex stared at him, brow furrowed with confusion. “I thought you loved Juliet and would give anything to see her again?”
“Well, yeah, but, I mean, this Juliet doesn’t know us. And she could be dangerous.”
“She could also know how to get us home!”
Justin took a deep breath. “Okay, fine. But I’ll knock.”
Justin hurried up to the door before he lost his nerve. On the third knock Juliet swung the door open.
“Can I help you?” she asked snottily. She wrinkled her nose. “Wizards.”
“Vampire.” Alex brushed past Juliet into the house. “You might want to look into getting some perfume to cover your scent of death.”
“Huh.” Juliet stepped aside to let Justin in. “That’s actually a good idea. What can I do for you wizards?”
“I... in the future. We. We know you,” Justin stammered awkwardly.
Juliet glanced him over. “How far in the future?”
“Far,” Justin answered.
“Hey! What about your astronaut-clock thingie? I thought we weren’t supposed to tell people things,” Alex protested.
Justin glanced over at Alex for a moment before gazing back at Juliet. “That’s different.”
“It just is.”
“So,” Juliet said loudly interrupting the argument, “what are you doing here? Now?”
“We don’t know,” Justin admitted. “Alex said the wrong spell-”
“-and here we are. We thought, as a fellow magical creature, you might be able to help us.”
Juliet scoffed. “I’m no magician.”
“Please?” Justin smiled.
The edges of Juliet’s mouth tipped up tentatively, as if she wasn’t quite sure she was doing the smiling thing correctly.
“Oh, gross,” Alex commented. “I already lived through this once.”
“I might be able to help you,” Juliet told them. “There’s an old wizard in town. He’s kind of a recluse, but I can take you to him.”
“Thank you so much, Juliet!” Justin gushed.
Juliet’s smile broadened briefly before she schooled it back into a scowl.
“I don’t really like wizards though,” she warned, “and it’s kind of a long walk. I may eat one or both of you on the way.”
“Justin wishes,” Alex teased.
She just smirked at her brother.
Justin offered Juliet his hand and she accepted. Justin looked overjoyed and the part of Alex that wasn’t rolling her eyes was happy to see her brother reunited with the girl he loved.
“So, we’re off to see the wizard?” Alex couldn’t help asking.
The walk wasn’t actually that long. Well, it was because Justin spent the whole trip chattering to Juliet about all the things she had missed since she’d been gone, even though she’d never met Justin before today. If the planet-alarm thingie fell, it was totally going to be Justin’s fault. Still, they only had to walk up a small hill to an abandoned-looking hut.
“Apollonius, sir?” Juliet called out politely. “Are you in?”
“Vampire!” A stake was tossed out the door and landed harmlessly at Juliet’s feet.
“Wizard. I brought some of your kin.” When there was no response Juliet added, “It’s been a long walk. I’m hungry and they would make a delicious snack.”
Alex was pretty sure that at this point Juliet was bluffing, but she inched away just to be safe.
“Fine.” The wizard stuck his head out of the hut’s opening. Alex had expected an old, wise man who looked like Headmaster Crumbs. Instead she got a grumpy, middle-aged dude. “What do you want? Besides to be vampire snacks?”
“Sorry to bother you, sir,” Justin began.
“Just tell me what you want me to do to get you to go away.”
Alex jumped in. She had a lot of practice with cranky grown-ups. “I kind of messed up a spell. We need your help to get back to the twenty-first century.”
“Alex!” Justin snapped. “Space-time continuum!”
“Oh so you can break the timey-wimey rule but I can’t?”
“What spell?” the wizard interrupted.
The wizard chuckled meanly. “Stupid kids. Just say it backwards. That’s the automatic undo for any decent spell!”
With that he retreated into his hut and started banging around inside.
The Russos looked at each other.
“That seems too easy,” Justin commented.
“You just don’t want to leave Juliet.”
Instead of replying, Justin turned to Juliet. “I don’t want to leave you. I miss you.”
Juliet smiled. It looked like she was trying to remember how. “I have it on pretty good authority that we’ll meet again.”
“Justin!” Alex interrupted. “Star-hour doodad!”
“You kids get outta here!” The wizard shouted from inside the hut.
“Yrotsihkcab su ekat eezakala-mazakla!”
Yellow mist flooded the Russos senses.
Justin sank to his knees as the lair became visible around them. “Juliet...”
“I’m sorry.” Alex apologized, kneeling next to her brother.
“What for? I thought I was never going to get to see her again. Because of you I did.”
Alex didn’t know what to say to that. Usually Justin was the first person to blame her for things.
“I... I guess I’m sorry you’re hurting.”
Justin pulled Alex into a hug and kissed the top of her head.
It wasn't like Alex hadn't noticed that Justin had stopped sleeping since their Roman adventure. She just figured he was being Justin: up late studying or building a robot or something. It wasn't until he burst into her room at 3 a.m. that she realized just how wrong she had been.
"Alex! Get up! I figured it out!"
"Justin? What?" She asked, dazed.
"Just come with me. I need you."
She should have known when Justin dragged her down to the lair. But Alex was the trouble maker who misused magic for selfish reasons, not Justin.
"I'm sorry, Alex."
"What are you doing?"
"I just miss her. And we know how to get home now, so its not really a big deal, right?"
"Alakazam-alakazee, take us back in history!"
The now-familiar yellow mist began to enfold them.
When the mist cleared they were in a long stone hallway.
"Well," Justin observed, "this isn't ancient Rome."
"Are you speaking Transylvanian?"
"I’m pretty sure there’s no such language as Transylvanian. "
"Well I'm pretty sure you’re speaking it. And that we're in a castle." Alex told her brother. "Aren't you supposed to be the smart one?"
"You aren't exactly stupid. If you would just put more effort in."
While Alex was flattered by what he was saying, "So not the point, Justin. We should go-"
"Exploring. You dragged me here, if you think I'm leaving before I check out this cool castle you are so wrong."
“The point was to see Juliet, not-”
“Wow, lack of sleep has made you really dumb. We are in Transylvania in a castle. She’s here.”
Justin was being so dense. It was almost like now that he’d gotten them here Justin didn’t even want to see Juliet.
“Are you nervous
Justin shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “It’s just. She knows us now. Knew us. A long time ago.”
Alex cast a quick spell, dressing both herself in Justin in what she imagined castle-y clothes looked like, with long flouncy skirts for her and lots of laces fastening Justin’s clothes. She linked arms with her brother. “It’ll be okay. You guys are star-crossed, remember?”
Justin sighed and allowed Alex to lead him down the hall towards the sound of voices.
In the ballroom a feast was being held. Even though their clothes were slightly out of place, Alex walked confidently into the room.
Justin tugged her back. “Alex! What are you doing! We aren’t invited and I’m sure we’re violating all sorts of social customs. You probably need a chaperone or something.”
“So? Juliet’s in there somewhere. You can be my chaperone; we’ll just pretend to be engaged or whatever.”
“Come on, Justin!” Alex plunged into the mass of people eating and dancing.
Ten minutes later she slumped against Justin.
“I don’t see her anywhere!”
“Maybe she’s late,” Justin suggested. “Lets go check the hallways.”
Justin and Alex exited the great hall from a different direction and began walking down the hall. They hadn’t been walking for very long before a male voice hissed out, “I smell wizards.”
The elaborate tapestry Justin and Alex had been walking past was pushed aside and Juliet stepped out.
“Justin! Alex!” She greeted them eagerly. “It’s good to see you!”
Behind her, Mason stepped into the light. Alex’s heart sank as she realized exactly when they were. Without really thinking about anything but seeking comfort, she reached for Justin’s hand.
“Friends of yours, my love?” Mason asked.
“Justin, I can explain.”
Justin gripped Alex’s hand tightly. “It’s okay, Juliet. You knew me for a couple of hours almost a thousand years ago. I could never expect you to wait that long, destiny or not.”
Alex was pretty sure they had never told Juliet that they were siblings, so raising herself on tiptoes she pressed a kiss to Justin’s lips. “Besides, it’s not like we’ve been waiting either.”
Justin squeezed her hand, giving her permission, she thought. Or forgiveness.
“Wizards,” Mason scoffed, “so incestuous.”
Alex and Justin exchanged a look of alarm.
“Always dating other wizards. How often do you see a wizard dating a vampire or werewolf? Never. You people are so racist.”
Justin opened his mouth to protest.
“Justin, what about space-time?” Alex reminded him.
“What about it? It’s clearly a myth.”
“You guys are just in time for the party!” Juliet interrupted. “There’s food and dancing, you should totally come!”
“I don’t know...” Justin hesitated.
“Come on, Justin. We’re invited,” Alex wheedled. “How often do you get to party 18th-century style? Your dance moves might even be in.”
Justin sighed. “Fine.”
He still hadn’t let go of Alex’s hand. She didn’t mind.
It turned out that 18th-century food was weird, 18th-century music was annoying, and watching Juliet and Mason gaze lovingly at each other was nauseating.
“I can’t take it anymore,” Justin said finally, putting down his turkey leg and turning to Alex. “Please don’t slap me.”
He leaned forward and softly kissed her.
Alex found herself kissing back. Kissing Justin was nice. She liked it.
“What do you say we get out of here?” she asked, lips brushing Justin’s as she spoke.
“Yrotsih kcab su ekat eezakala-mazakla.”
Justin and Alex were still kissing as the spell ended and they were returned to the lair.
Alex pulled her brother in close, twining her fingers into his hair. “Now who’s star-crossed?”